Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Are you deep?

Look Nick, pitchers! From the bullpen! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

In my opinion, if you are genuinely worried about your Boston Red Sox one week before the season has even begun, you have much too much time to worry in general.

This morning Jerry Remy (or, more likely, the person who posts as Jerry Remy when Jerry doesn’t feel like doing it himself) posted a loaded question on his Facebook page: “pitching depth – is it enough?” and that was all people needed to start the hand wringing (the comments range from “the pitching sucks” to “it will be as bad as last year”).

Worrying about the team before they’ve taken the field at Fenway just seems like looking for negativity for the sake of having it. Honestly, my main concern about the start of the season is wondering if it might snow on Opening Day.

That isn’t to say I’m totally oblivious to what goes on during Spring Training, I  just don’t put a ton of importance on it.  I don’t care how much of a winning instinct players have in them, it isn’t the same atmosphere, it isn’t the same intensity…there isn’t anything really on the line for them.  I refused to get sucked into that stereotype of the pre-2004 Red Sox fan who thinks no matter what the front office has done, the team is doomed to failure.  And it annoys me that, if my Twitter and FB feeds are any indication, a lot of people have jumped on the bandwagon of negativity…ESPECIALLY before the season begins.  Can I have a few weeks into the season to enjoy the new additions to the team without people trying to dump all over it?

Both Nick Cafardo at the Globe and Michael Silverman at the Herald wrote pieces this week about the problems with the Red Sox and how it should be a concern.  Cafardo’s article specifically triggered Remy’s question but both seem to have caused the reactions I’ve been reading.  At least Silverman focused on specific players and his concerns for them.  Cafardo wrote an entire article about how horrible the bullpen is by scaring people with this tidbit:

As it stands, the “depth’’ behind the five starters is Tim Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves, and Felix Doubront. All have durability issues — Wakefield because of his age, Aceves because of back problems, and Doubront because of elbow soreness.

I dig his use of quotations around the word depth as if there isn’t any.  There are no mentions by Cafardo of Hideki Okajima, Daniel Bard and Scott Atchison (all of whom were with the team last season) nor Dan Wheeler or Bobby Jenks (relatively high profile pick ups for the Red Sox this year). If you are going to construct an entire article around the idea that there is no depth in the Red Sox bullpen, I guess it helps your cause to leave out the majority of the depth. Now I realize that Cafardo’s “depth” argument is that one of the five starting pitchers could go down and that the depth is defined as which relief pitcher can best fill in for him if that happens. So I ask an honest question: Since when is that how you build a bullpen? I ask this because, like Theo, if the worry is that we need spot starters, I’m not freaking out that those spot starters are Wakefield, Doubront and Aceves.   Another player not mentioned at all in Cafardo’s piece is Michael Bowden who has filled that role in the past (as has Scott Atchison) and is still on the team. I wonder if Cafardo is even aware of him?

I’m failing to see a problem in Theo Epstein not filling his bullpen with pitchers who can magically start whenever needed.

How many games have we seen where the bullpen has to piece together a start because a starting pitcher has gone down…and I mean on any team not just the Red Sox?  How many teams have a majority of long-relief guys in the bullpen?

Cafardo falls back, as always, on quotes from unnamed sources for this piece.  This time “a National League scout” (really? You had to go all the way to the National League to find someone to condemn the way Theo has put together his bullpen?) has something to say, except his quotes don’t really support the idea that we should be that concerned:

“It’s something you really have to plan for ahead of time,’’ said a National League scout. “For most teams, it’s hard to find five good starters, never mind depth.

“But the big-market teams can afford to take a few chances on veterans who might make a little money but who can help out in a pinch. Those types of guys become invaluable, which is why, while it’s not the best roster situation to have Tim Wakefield as your long man in the bullpen, it’s a great guy to plug in when someone gets hurt or if you simply need to push a guy back a day or two.’’

So teams should plan ahead but according to this scout the Red Sox really aren’t one of those teams that has to worry about it even though the point of this piece is that the Red Sox are one of those teams that has to worry about their depth. Got it.

It seems to me that all acquiring Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Bobby Jenks did for the local sports writers is make them look harder for things to be negative about.  How about we let the season start, see what the team needs and doesn’t need and then worry if they don’t have it?

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March 25, 2011 - Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. First, and at some risk… Bullshit.

    There, I said it.

    Reporters today don’t really research as they once did. They tap into social media, mining for what is the mood, or on the minds of the people who are talking about whatever the topic of interest is. It’s my opinion that too many wags take their cues from places like the Boston Red Sox Fan Forum, where there’s always a handful of people who take sheer delight in casting doubt about X player, Y manager and Z team. Papelbon seems to be a recent topic, as does Beckett, and all because of how the rotation was set and performance in spring training? Perhaps it’s because the Sox overall record isn’t above .500?

    This is not new, by the way. Over the last few seasons, I’ve seen some writers lift actual sentences from the Sox forum and use them in their articles, and last season, one hack quoted one of the forum members, who just happens to fall squarely into the camp called Chicken Little.

    If anyone knows thing one about baseball, all you need to look at is last season. It took the very last week of it to decide about our post season fortunes. This included regulars who were not on the field, a tattered pen and starting pitching that was shaky as all get out. Depth?

    My thinking here is simple. These same jerkweeds had us bypassing the season altogether and instead, heading over to AirBud’s to collect the championship trophy about a month ago. Now, not one game played for the regular season and all of a sudden doubt looms on the horizon?

    What makes me chuckle about all of this is the idea, at the beginning of every season, we know certain truths well before everything unfolds. They are:
    ~ Health
    ~ Meeting or exceeding expected levels of performance
    ~ Some luck, either via bounce of the ball, or calls going our way from Blue
    ~ Adding help, where and when needed

    When writers stop trying to prey on fan fears, irrational fan fears, maybe we might return to better articles and a day when what they write is worth a Tinker’s Damn.

    Comment by Tru | March 25, 2011 | Reply


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