BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox walks back to the dugout after striking out in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 18, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Rays won the game 8-5. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Another weekend versus Tampa, another tough weekend. And yet, the Sox are still, somehow through the grace of beings more enlightened than I, leading the Wild Card race. Will they hold on? Can they hold on? Can they hold anything? Stay tuned!
Former Dallas Cowboy and current writer for Fire Brand of the AL Darryl Johnston asks the eternal question: what are we going to do with Kevin Youkilis? OK, more of an external question, but we'll ignore that and move on anyway. Johnston's contention is that playing third base has accelerated Youkilis' injury risk and increased his, technically speaking, "owwies" this season. In doing so, says Johnston, Youk's offense has suffered. He sites some reasons for this.
When you really break it down, the big difference between first and third base is throwing the ball versus catching it. Yes, catching it is much easier, but I'm not sure it makes you more injury prone. First basemen have to dive for the ball pretty close to as frequently as third baseman do. That plus taking ten to fifteen balls to the body each year like Youk does takes its tole on a man's health. As for Youk's defense, I'm not sure we have enough data to know for sure, but anecdotally I'd call his defense average. You can argue about the margins, but I think average is fair. The main benefit to having Youk at third though isn't Youk's defense. It's aids the team's offense by allowing the Red Sox to get Youk, David Ortiz, and Adrian Gonzalez into the lineup at one time. There's no other grouping that allows those three bats into the lineup on a given day and there aren't any other players who can replace Youk next season in the minor leagues or available from outside the organization. I think the answer to the question posed by Mr. Johnston above is leave him at third.
Is there any good news in Red Sox Nation? Maybe. It looks like Clay Buchholz is still making progress. According to the fine reporters at The Providence Journal, Buchholz threw 30 pitches off a mound Sunday at about a 70-80% effort level. He felt fine afterwards and is supposed to throw a simulated game today. Erik Bedard is scheduled to take the mound against Baltimore on Tuesday. Bedard hasn't pitched since September 3rd, missing about two starts in the process. Provided he doesn't step on a pea or remove his hat too quickly we should see Bedard in the third game of this series.
Sox Prospects has named their Red Sox minor league players of the year. No surprise that Ryan Lavarnway comes away with the honor on the offensive side. SP names a pitcher, a rookie, a breakout player, and a comeback player of the year, though they unfortunately avoid naming their goat of the year, bed crapper of the year, or the giant waste of space of the year.
Over at The Platoon Advantage, The Common Man takes a look at old buddy Jason Bay and the situation he finds himself in with the Mets. Or, more accurately, the situation the Mets find themselves in with Bay. Were Minaya still in charge over there I'd have bet on them dumping him for pennies on the dollar, but now I find that doubtful. Absent hiring Alex Anthopoulos so he can convince Tony Reagins to take him for Jered Weaver, the money is spent. Bay is worth a roster spot, so they may as well hang on to him.
Carl Crawford has had a bad season. Not a bad season so much as an abysmal mess of a season. As a result he's taken a lot of heat, some of it deserved, some of it over the line, for his performance in this his first year in Boston. So, Red Sox fans, would it help to know he's sorry? Because he is. In his on line diary at ESPN Boston, Crawford writes:
I want to end the diary saying something to the fans of Boston. I just want to say I'm sorry for the year I've had. You' guys have been really supportive and I appreciate that. Hopefully when we get into these playoffs, I can be the real Carl Crawford that I know I am. We'll see.
That we will. Or, you know, not.
Finally, you may be comforted to know the manager still has his sense of humor. Or at least he did two days ago.