Tagged: offense

19 Hours to Takeoff

The last couple weeks have been very busy for me, all with the Olympics, school, sports, and life in general. I know this happens a lot, and I always end up apologizing for stopping every few weeks. Life is busy, and mine is very busy right now, but I have to face the facts that I don’t have a lot of time on my hands and that I should use whatever free time I do have to do the things that matter most to me, one of which is blogging.

MLBlogs is always one of my top priorities, but I sometimes just don’t get around to it. During baseball season, there is more to write about, so everyone posts more, but during the winter months things have been straight up dull. The few huge trades of the offseason came early on, and most of January up until now have drifted along at a sluggish pace, with nothing much going on. However, we have now nearly reached Spring Training, and then the season.

 

As the countdown clock on the MLB.com homepage alerted me this afternoon, we are roughly 19 hours away from the entrance of pitchers and catchers to all Spring Training camps (some are already there). On the eve of this glorious day, as I really have nothing negative to reflect on involving the offseason, I must say that things are good in the baseball world.

The Red Sox are looking like an above-average team at this time. All baseball fans know that the sport we love is at times extremely unpredictable, so there’s really no telling what will happen to the Sox this year. Who knows what I’ll be saying in the middle of August. Last year, we consistently “had the Yankees’ number” in the beginning of the year, but spring turned to summer, and then… well, you know what happened then. Last year, a certain team from Boston was also expected to have a fabulous pitching staff. This dream was soon forgotten, as Dice-K conveniently chose not to disclose the details of an injury suffered during the World Baseball Classic.

After the Matsuzaka’s collapse, the rest of our staff slowly declined. We had a good pitching staff, but not a great one. Additionally, these next couple years will be some of the last in which guys like Josh Beckett will be able to pitch at top form. I hate to admit it, but he’s aging, and no one lasts forever. In the end, surprisingly, it was relief pitching (even our closer, Mr. Papelbon, of all people), that really killed us, both literally (e.g. Game 3, ALDS) and figuratively.

 

If the pitching staff can stay strong throughout the season and hold on for that final push at the end into the playoffs, we will be helped enormously just by that effort. However, there is still a gaping hole that has been occupied by Manny, Ortiz, and Bay, respectively: the power hitter. We need an offensive spark, someone that can clean up the bases and drive in runs. There aren’t many types of offensive players that directly translate into wins like a power hitter does. Several guys could step into that role, but right now no one seems to be ready. I’m still hoping that we might acquire someone that fits this role, but it seems unlikely.

So, aside from the normal griping and doubts about the team, I am pretty happy right now. Because, in 19 hours, we will have takeoff. Away we go!

 

 

Offense 101

If I were to ever find myself in a position of teaching baseball offense to someone, I think I would use last night’s Yankees-Red Sox game as a model for my class.

Baseball is a game where scoring is pretty unpredictable. It’s very hard to know when there’s going to be a shutout,  or when, like last night, a team is going to score 20 runs. Offense can sometimes be misinterpreted due to this. Just because a team loses 2-1, it doesn’t mean that their offense wasn’t working. They clearly weren’t at their best, but who’s saying they didn’t leave the bases loaded in every inning? They failed to produce, but I think that loading the bases still counts for some sort of offense.

Because games like that (stranding the bases loaded so much) are rare, I would probably choose a clear offensive game for any example in my “class”.

Last night, was an unbelieveably clear, offensive game. Our starter, Brad Penny, left the game after 4 innings, already having allowed 8 runs. There is an ongoing problem with Penny that was clearly shown here. I’ll let you take a guess as to what this problem is with the help of this stat- He threw 89 pitches through 4 innings last night.

Yeah, Mr. Penny throws far too many pitches and therefore wears himself out ridiculously soon in the game. Sorry, but this is not the guy we want starting off a series like this.

Brad Penny wiped sweat from his face after the third run scored for the Yankees.

Our relievers didn’t fare much better against the torrent of hits the Yankees were bringing upon us. Michael Bowden came in and let up 7 runs in 2 innings, even worse (if you can believe it) than Penny had done.

Surprisingly, Takashi Saito, one of our relievers that has really struggled this season, produced one of the few really good innings in the game, allowing no hits and no runs while striking out one.

The lead just kept building, even as our offense began to FINALLY produce. We scored 10 runs in the last 5 innings of the game, but the Yankees, already leading 6-1 before this point, scored 14 runs to match that. While 14-10 might have been a decent game for us, because of those early innings, the score was actually 20-11. Yes, 20 runs. The most the Yankees have ever scored against us.

Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira celebrated at the plate after both scored on a single by Jorge Posada in the first.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Yankees have one of the best offenses I’ve ever seen live. And as much as I wish it wasn’t true, they are (right now) just about the best possible example on how to run a baseball offense. They can hit (23 hits in the game), they hustle (8 doubles and a triple), they score (20 runs), and they wear a pitcher down (see “Brad Penny”).

Now before I get carried away, I’m going to have to stop getting so enthralled by the Yankee offense. And what can do this for me? A little Red Sox offense, please…

Kevin Youkillis welcomed Ellsbury home as he scored a ball hit by Victor Martinez in the first.

The Red Sox offense wasn’t so bad. Against most other teams, 11 runs wins a game. Lowell went 3-5, Pedroia went 2-5, and Ortiz went 2-4. Our offense was not nonexistent. It was just dwarfed by the superior offense of the Bronx Bombers. That pretty much spells out what we need to do tonight. We have to turn up the bats, crank off some hits, and outhit, outrun, and outscore the Yankees. I’m pretty sure that’ll lead to a win.

All this is not to say that the game didn’t have it’s bright points. Jerry Remy was back in the booth after an ongoing struggle with depression and lung cancer. Remy is my favorite broadcaster of all time, without a doubt, and I can’t even say how happy I am to see the man doing well and back doing what he is so good at.

Jerry Remy waved to the crowd from the broadcast booth after a standing ovation in the third inning.

Needless to say, I wasn’t the only one overjoyed to see the RemDawg back in business.

Ryan Drohan, John Porter, Jake Munroe, and Brian Brolin, all from the Roy Moore Lobster Company in Rockport, went beyond sign making in paying tribute to Jerry Remy. And the back of the shirts spelled D-A-W-G.

At the end of the night, about the only thing left standing at Fenway was this sign welcoming back broadcaster Jerry Remy.

Lorriann Watson, from Clinton, Maine, wanted to make sure Dennis Eckersley got a shout in with all the Jerry Remy hoopla going on. Missing from Watson's sign was any acknowledgment of the color commentary work done by Frank Viola during Remy's absence.

Not sure if we mentioned that there were a few signs welcoming back Jerry Remy at Fenway Park on Friday night. The crew from Randolph brought this one along.

There were so many 'Welcome back Jerry Remy' signs that this young fan resorted to neon green in order to stand out in the crowd.

The pictures go on…

It is great to see so much love and happiness in the stands for Remy. He deserves it!

Also, in the 1st inning, Jacoby Ellsbury stole 2nd base to tie Tommy Harper’s Red Sox record of stolen bases in a season, at 54.

Ellsbury stole second base in the first inning to tie Tommy Harper's Red Sox record of 54 stolen bases in a season, as the ball bounced in front of Robinson Cano.

Jacoby is an ABSOLUTE speedster!

We know what we have to do. We can’t let this lead keep growing bigger and bigger. Now is the time to win! I still believe that we are as good as the Yankees, let’s prove it! So tonight, let’s duplicate the Yankees’ success and lead an offensive outburst of our own! GO SOX!!