Good morning, all. I imagine you're all in a wonderful mood, what with the Red Sox having commemorated the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park's opening with a 6-2 loss to the Yankees. And better still, that loss came as a result of five home runs off of Clay Buchholz, whose success is in no way critical to the fate of the 2012 Sox. I find I'm trying to remind myself that the 1999 Red Sox made the playoffs with a 2-3 punch of Pat Rapp and Mark Portugal, but somehow it's not working. That could be simply because the 1999 version of Pedro Martinez put up 8.4 rWAR, and I find it unlikely that any Sox pitcher will do that this year. It could also be because I'm in the depressive stage of drinking after an evening out with Marc. There are any number of possible explanations.
The Red Sox are 4-9. On the one hand, this only puts them 3.5 games back of New York (and, hilariously, Baltimore) for first place in the East. On the other, it feels much worse than just 3.5 games back with 149 to play. When the Sox are pitching, they can't hit. When they're hitting, they can't pitch. When they manage to both hit and pitch, Bobby Valentine calls in Justin Thomas and the whole thing goes to hell. I don''t need to tell you it's been frustrating, you've been here for it. With a bit of luck, Felix Doubront can shut down the Yankee offense today and get the Sox back on track.
Yes, I realize what I just said. That's what the Sox have driven me to. It's been a rough month. Let's recap, shall we?
It's always a good sign when you're two weeks into a season and the manager's in-game moves have you questioning whether he's actively trying to get to the next stop on his career's itinerary. Ben Buchanan wondered if Bobby Valentine's moves so far suggest that he's hoping to return to ESPN. Matt Kory took a slightly lighter-hearted view of the Sox manager's, shall we say, deliberate manner in regards to the bullpen.
One thing that might, possibly, theoretically, maybe kinda sorta, might fix the Red Sox' woes is reliable starting pitching. The Daniel Bard to the rotation experiment continues apace, with vaguely encouraging results, and Marc Normandin gave us some reason to keep our hopes up on that front, despite the mixed outcomes thusfar. If utterly absurd optimism is more your bag (I know it's mine), Marc took a look at the upcoming rehab assignment for Daisuke Matsuzaka. I'm honestly not sure whether my looking forward to Matsuzaka's return is a sign of hope springing eternal or some form of bizarre baseball Stockholm syndrome, but there we are.
Pitching aside, we can all agree that the Red Sox are a far better team with Jacoby Ellsbury than without. Matt Sullivan ran down Boston's options for adjusting to his absence. In short, they involve Scott Podsednik. The only reason "We're interested in Scott Podsednik" isn't the universal signal for ships in distress is that "SOS" is easier to telegraph. Fortunately, Ellsbury won't require surgery on his injured shoulder, which should accelerate his return. So the days of Mike Aviles, Leadoff Hitter should only last until sometime in late June.
At least the rest of the team's OK, right? It's not like the bullpen's been a total horror show. I mean, sure, Mark Melancon, the semi-closer Boston traded the legendary Jed Lowrie for, has been slightly less effective than a batting practice tee. But he's been sent down to Pawtucket to work out his mechanics. And it's possible that Kevin Youkilis has taken his first steps down Decaying Third Baseman Road. It's only a dozen games, though, right? Matt Sullivan looked at the stats underlying Youk's performance, and didn't find much to be reassured by.
So what's to be done? Very little by us, obviously. All we do is buy tickets. And after the three weeks of "sign Hiroki Kuroda" voicemails, Ben Cherington's blocked my number. Matt Kory did the hard thing, and counseled patience. And a hearty dose of "learn how to manage the damn bullpen, Bobby."
Matt Sullivan lightened up the week with the latest installment of the story of chronologically-misplaced Sox fan Ryan O'Malley. Quick maybe-spoiler: eventually O'Malley turns out to be John Connor's father.
Closing out the week, Marc took a moment to reflect on Fenway Park's 100th anniversary. It's pretty remarkable that the old place has been around that long, and that it's still rocking every night. I've certainly made my fair share of memories there, and hope to have another few decades' worth. Happy weekend, all. Let's see if they can still take this series from the Yanks.