|Is Keith Foulke just in a slump, or are we doomed?
Fact #1: Johnny Damon leads the American League with a .383 batting average.
Opinion: Johnny Damon is a hitting machine and, for some reason, hasn?t hit a cold streak all season long. Can the success be contributed to the fact that he is in a contract year? Maybe. But for whatever reason it is, Damon is winning us ballgames and I certainly like it.
At the beginning of the season I pretty much told myself that nothing would change my mind about Damon. I like him, but I didn?t think he could have performed so well to change my mind. But if he finishes the season with anything higher than a .330 batting average, then we?ve got to give some serious thought to resign him. It?s a doable option, but would we really want Damon to clog our outfield for at least another four seasons, making him 35 at the end of a four-year contract? Remember: we do have our an athletic Hanley Ramirez in our farm system, a guy that could definitely take over centerfield if he plays the position at all down on the farm.
Fact #2: Curt Schilling and David Wells are on the disabled list.
Opinion: Curt Schilling and David Wells are on the disabled list, but we aren?t missing them one bit. Wade Miller came back last Sunday and looked like he didn?t miss a beat. Jeremi Gonzalez has been a big surprise for the Sox, having started two games with a 4.22 ERA so far. And then there is Matt Clement, Bronson Arroyo and Tim Wakefield who have just been spectacular pretty much all season long.
Is anyone else a little worried about Curt Schilling? I thought he came back a little too early when he made his first start this season. Then he made a trip back on the disabled list and has come out and said that his ?bruise? was more than a ?bruise.? We know Schilling is a warrior and a hero, but it seems to me that he is trying to do too much by working his way back and maybe trying to put everything on his shoulders. Message to Curt: don?t worry about it. We have enough starting depth at this point that we don?t need you right now. We may not even need to until the All-Star break. So just get healthy and come back when you are 100 percent ready to perform at your highest level.
And Wells? Uh. Well. Right now he seems like the odd man out. To me atleast. How can you possibly take Arroyo out of the rotation? You can?t. And it?s not like we paid Wells this huge contract; he?s cheap. He?s based on incentives. If we don?t pitch him, it?s really not hurting us that much. He?d hurt us more by earning a 7+ ERA.
Fact #3: Keith Foulke has the highest ERA (7.94) of any closer in the major leagues that has two or more saves.
Opinion: It?s starting to get old and annoying. It?s the same old song for Keith Foulke: needs three outs, puts a few guys on base but you still think he can do it, and then serves up a long ball and either A) loses the game or B) comes close to losing the game. It?s almost a month and a half into the season, and Foulke is still struggling on the mound.
To me it seems like Foulke has no confidence out on the mound. Maybe the opposition has figured him out, but what it all comes down to is lack of confidence. Once he threw a few gofer balls late in the game, his confidence just took a nose dive and he hasn?t been able to recover. The only way to reverse his fortune is two have three or four perfect innings of relief. He can?t allow a hit and he has to strikeout at least one per appearance. This wishy-washy, unreliable ?two hits? and ?two walks? won?t do anything to help his confidence. He may get the save, but it?s not a very pretty save.
If Foulke continues to struggle ? through May, I?d say ? then let?s switch Foulke out for a little bit. Let?s give Mike Timlin or Matt Mantei a shot if we need to. I wouldn?t mind seeing it. Mantei hasn?t allowed a run in eight straight appearances now, and Timlin is slowly approaching an ERA under 1.