I decided to jot some notes down while watching Josh Beckett pitch a few days ago. These notes were written, obviously, before any reports I read later that day or the following day. (I would have put it up yesterday, but I wanted to keep the Will Carroll questions near the top for a good amount of time.)
1) NESN isn't displaying a radar gun, but Beckett is throwing at least 93 MPH, in my opinion.
The ball was just flying out of his hand. You could hear the ball slap the leather for every fastball it seemed. 94-95 is probably a more realistic guess for speed, but I knew it wasn't any lower than 93. He's obviously not holding back at this point.
2) Beckett has a filthy 12-6 curveball.
It doesn't have the drop of a Barry Zito-curveball, but it's very sharpe. It wasn't slow, either. I'd guess his curveball is in the mid-80s, not under 80, however. It seems to throw-off the hitters because it has so much speed and breaks sharply. It reminds a lot of Francisco Rodriguez's curveball.
3) He challenged Ryan Howard with all fastballs, then made him look bad on a curveball.
It's pretty gutsy to yell in the face of the big boy known as Ryan Howard. It may be more gutsy to continue to feed him fastball after fastball around the plate. But he did it, and it worked. The curveball was sharp like it was for the most part yesterday. He's certainly not afraid to attack hitters, even a guy like Howard who just drills pitches into the atmosphere.
4) Unfavorable umpire hurt Beckett.
The ump didn't give Beckett anything on the corners on Sunday, and I think that's a big reason why Beckett had those three walks. If he were to get those, that three would probably be a zero in the box score. This caused Beckett to get into a lot of 3-ball counts. In some cases he worked out of them, but others he obviously couldn't.
Adam Stern - He's hitting the ball, so what should we do with him? Should we get his 17 days out of him, then send him to Pawtucket to hit every day? Or should we have him as a fifth outfielder to give us some speed off the bench? I'm not quite sure at this point, but I'm starting to see how valuable he'll be down the line.
Wily Mo Pena - The knock was that Pena swung at bad pitches and struck out too often. But I really haven't seen that since he put on a Red Sox uniform. There have been times where he swung at a bad pitch, but there have also been times where he laid off close ones. To me, that shows some improvement on his part.