Over the weekend I exchanged a few emails with Randy about this site. He wanted a little help posting here and searched long and hard to get someone. After extensively interviewing two dozen people he came across me. I wasn't sure at first, but he promised that if I helped him out the two of us would skyrocket to the top of the world. He promised me women, drugs, fortune, and fame. I couldn't turn down such an offer. So here I am. My name is Brian Martin and I'll be doing minor league updates for Over the Monster from now on. Some of you might recognize me from Friendly Fenway, a blog I started back at the begining of the year. I have been doing minor league updates over there for a while and Randy liked what he saw. Since I started writing about the minor leagues, that topic became one of my favorites to deal with for a few reasons. The biggest reason is probably because I enjoy informing people about things they don't really know. I love talking about baseball, especially about the Red Sox, but chances are good that most of you reading this could give better analysis of the team than I could. I don't get to watch all that many games so most of my thoughts come from boxs cores and highlights. The minor leagues are a whole different animal though. You all know exactly how well the Red Sox are doing. You know that Millar is finally getting hot. You know that the entire rotation besides Wade Miller has been mowing down opposing batters. You know that Alan Embree should be tossed into a wood chipper. But did you know that Chip Ambres is having an all star type year? Or that the first place Portland Sea Dogs started the year 10-0? You might have, but chances are you didn't. And I'm here to let you guys know about these things.
I'm going to try to come up with a schedule, but I stress the word try. I am absolutely horrible with deadlines and schedules. Do you remember before the high school days when you got a big project at school, but you never started it? Finally the day it was due came around and you pretty much had one line written out of the whole 10 pages that were due. So you faked an illness to stay home from school that day and finish your project the day it was due. Well, I practically invented that routine. At the ripe, old age of 24 years and 364 days (that's right, tomorrow is my birthday...send presents) I'm not much better. But I will try. On Mondays I will talk about the Pawtucket Red Sox and how their week was. On Wednesdays it will be the Portland Sea Dogs' turn. On Fridays the lower levels of the system will get their turn. The rest of the week I'll chime in once in a while with news and notes about various things going on in minor league baseball. If you check your calendar, you'll notice that today is Monday. Since I don't want to break my schedule on day one, here's a bit on how the Paw Sox did last week.
Last week it was all Columbus, all the time as the Paw Sox went through a stretch where they were scheduled to face the Clippers 8 times. They started the marathon in Columbus, taking 2 of 4 before the two teams took it to Pawtucket where the Sox managed only 1 win to go with 2 losses and a rainout. Pawtucket was 2-3 last week and has dropped back into fifth place. Despite a stretch in late May/early June where they won 8 of 9 games, the Paw Sox have been a mediocre .500 ball club so far this year.
Roberto Petaine continued to mash the ball last week going 8-19, walking 3 times while striking out only twice. He hit 2 HR's, knocked in 5, and scored 4 times. This guy deserves a shot with the big league team. He is a very good player that was signed in the spring to back up Millar, Nixon, and Manny and I think it's past time that he gets that chance. The big league roster is quite full, but Theo needs to find a way to get this guy up and producing for Boston. So far in 132 AB's he's batting .318/.423/.674 with 11 home runs and a 23/23 k/bb ratio. Between his past in Japan and the numbers he's putting up now, there is nothing to not like about this guy. He is 34 years old and obviously not a long term solution, but this year he could be a big help to the team.
While Petagine had a great week and continued to hit the ball, the other big slugger for the Paw Sox struggled a bit. Kelly Shoppach, just back after a tour of the major leagues, went 3-19 last week with 7 k's although he did hit his 13th HR. Shoppach is producing at the AAA level, but he is still striking out at a pretty alarming rate. He has 51 K's in 162 AB's. His .265/.370/.556 line is impressive and as his .306 BABIP suggests, the numbers aren't a result of luck, but unless he learns to put the bat on the ball more, major league pitching will probably eaet this guy up. I'm a pretty big fan of Shoppach and I like the insurance he gives the team in case Varitek or Mirabelli goes down, but I think now is the time to move the guy while his value is still high. He's young enough to still be considered a prospect, his numbers are currently great, and his defense is already good enough for the major leagues. There are plenty of clubs out there that could use Shoppach in the majors, something that the Sox can't do with their catching duo locked up this year and next. The best Shoppach could hope for here is an injury or a back up job in 2007. Before his weaknesses are showcased in the majors, I think the Red Sox should try to move him.
The most consistent producer for the Pawtucket club this year has been Chip Ambres. Ambres had one of his typical weeks going 6-17, walking 4 times, and striking out twice. He hit 2 HR's to bring him to 10 for the year. It hasn't mattered if the team was struggling or soaring, Ambres has been there and he has been hitting all year. He has a .318/.521/.562 line and has the best combination of speed and power on the team with those 10 HR's and 16 steals. He's been all over the line up for the Paw Sox, anywhere from 1st to 6th and has spent most of the year on the field out in center. The 25 year old has never had a season like this in his six years in the Florida Marlins system. This is the first time he's made it over AA. His lack of a history worries me a little bit, but I'd be willing to see him in Boston on a trial basis as the team's 5th outfielder/pinch runner.
Luis Figueroa came out of nowhere last week with some pretty impressive numbers. He brought his HR total for the year up to 5 when he hit a homer in back to back games at the begining of the week. Overall he went 8-20. Figueroa is a veteran roster filler more than anything else, but he's been a decent fill-in in Pawtucket with a .286/.327/.411 line for the year. He'll likely never see Boston, but last week he did manage to help out the Paw Sox.
Shawn Wooten has been struggling all year, but there's always been a spot in the line up for him. He's played first, caught, and DH'ed, but last week he expanded his bag of tricks a little bit by getting in a couple of games at third. It's nothing new for Wooten as he fielded that position 21 times for the Phillies last year, but it's a position that I haven't seen him at this year in Pawtucket. Looking at his numbers one has to wonder why the team is so eager to see him play every day, but at least he's versatile. He is last on the team in AVG and OBP with a .236/.296/.394 line.
On the mound for the Paw Sox, Lenny Dinardo had a couple of worrisome starts at a time when he should be producing. With Embree and Halama struggling I'd hope that Boston is looking for another reliever, possibly a left who can go a few innings. Dinardo fits the bill perfectly and he has been having a decent year with a 3.98 ERA striking out 47 in 54.1 IP over 12 starts. But last week he showed his wild side in two starts. To begin the week he went 5.1 IP and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks, while striking out 3. He kept the team in the game before Juan Perez blew a save allowing both of the runners he inherited to score and then Jack Cressend lost the game allowing a run in the 9th. In Dinardo's second start he once again kept the team in the game before Columbus broke out for 6 runs in the 7th. Dinardo lasted 6.1 IP and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks, striking out 4. Mark Malaska, another who is auditioning for the big league club, only threw fuel on the fire when he allowed 3 runs on 2 hits and a walk without getting an out. Anastacio Martinez finally got the last two outs of the inning, but not before allowing all of the runners that Malaska left on to score and let up a run of his own on a hit and 2 walks. The team eventually won the game. Dinardo didn't exactly pitch poorly last week, but 9 BB's over 2 starts isn't a pace he wants to continue. He had decent control before this week, but now he's walking an average of 3.66 per 9 IP for the season.
Jeremi Gonzalez was knocked around a bit when he was with Boston, but he's been the most consistent starter for the Paw Sox so far this season and continued the trend last week with a scoreless 6 IP performance for the win. He allowed only 3 hits, didn't walk a batter, and struck out 6. He brought his season ERA down to 2.57 to go with his 3-2 record and has 40 K's in 49 IP. He has walked just 10 batters.
Chris Naverson has started to break down, something that was predicted by Marc Normandin over at Sox on Deck. Narveson's peripheral stats haven't been very good all year and it was only a matter of time before he started to get blown out. Last week he lasted only 4.1 IP and allowed 6 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks. He didn't manage to strike anyone out. Surprisingly he didn't earn a loss. That honor went to Cla Meredith. Meredith has been solid in Pawtucket so far, but he did have a bad outing last week going 2 IP, getting touch for 4 hits. He also walked a batter and allowed 2 to score. Meredith was used differently last week than he has been all year. Last week he had 2 outings where he went 2 IP, as opposed to his usual single inning outings. After his less than stellar game earlier in the week, Meredith went out to have a good game at the end of the week going 2 scoreless IP, allowing only 1 hit, and striking out 1.
Any questions or suggestions, be sure to comment and let me know. This is my first post here and with the help of everyone reading, I'd like to get better as I go along. So if you think I could do something different, noticed a mistake, or have a question be sure to leave a comment.