Before I get to Portland's disappointing week, there were are a few items of interest at the AAA level I should mention. The biggest news goes down today as Curt Schilling takes the mound against the Charlotte Knights in a rehab start. I'm eager to have Schilling back in a Red Sox line up, but at the same time I'm not looking forward to it. It's very likely that he's not going to be at 100% and I'm worried that he's not going to be productive this year. The Red Sox have enough shaky pitching. They don't need Schilling if he can't get the job done. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best, but I already fear the worst.
Some of you may have noticed that Dustin Pedroia didn't make it past the 1st inning in Monday's game. He was hit by a pitch and left the game, but fear not. The X-rays were negative and there aren't supposed to be any lingering effects. He is currently day to day, but should return to the line up at any time.
Denny Tomori was sent down from Pawtucket to Portland. To make room for him on the Sea Dogs roster the organization released Phil Devey. Tomori, a 37 year old reliever here in the states for the first time after a long time playing in Japan, has been far from impressive so far in Pawtucket. In 34 IP he has a 5.03 ERA with 27 K's, 8 BB's, and an 0-5 record. His 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 aren't the problem, but his 1.6 HR/9 is likely what's doing him in. He'll improve his performance just based on his peripherals, but the demotion to Portland should at least kick him into gear. Devey was someone I was looking at as a last resort to come up to help the bullpen, but the Red Sox believe that he'll never be able to help. He has a 3.79 ERA in 38 IP so far this year, striking out 38, but walking 16.
The Sea Dogs continue to slide. They remain in second place and they are still within striking distance of first, but they've been struggling and just can't get it together. Their offense struggled to start the week when they scored 8 runs in their first four runs, but turned it on the last couple of games with a 10 run performance that they won and a 7 run performance that they lost.
They've lost Dustin Pedroia to a promotion, but replaced him with Kenny Perez. Perez hits for a good average, but doesn't take a walk and doesn't hit for any power. He went 8-28 in his first full week of taking over for Pedroia. The problem with his week is that he walked only once and hit only one extra base hit, a double. He's struck out only 20 times in 145 AB's, but Portland isn't going to get the same kind of production out of second base from him.
After starting the year ice cold and then going on a tear, Brandon Moss has now found a way to do both at the same time. He went 5-19 last week with 1 HR, 5 BB's, and 1 SB, but he struck out 9 times. He also managed to go 0-4 with 4 K's for the third time in the last week and a half. His overall production isn't bad, but he will get eaten alive at higher levels if he continues to strike out that much. He's nearly surpassed his strikeout number from his time in Augusta last year. Last year he struck out 75 times...in 433 AB's. He is either trying too hard now that everyone is expecting success from him or he just can't handle the upper levels of the minor leagues.
Hanley Ramirez continues to match the team's performance. After a hot start, he's been struggling lately. His line is down to .268/.325/.398 and it's only getting worse. Last week he went 5-23 with 2 doubles, 2 walks, and 4 K's. He also stole his 16th base. Recently he's been dropped to the fifth spot in the order, perhaps as a change of pace.
As soon as Kason Gabbard starts to impress you with a great start he goes out and gets hammered in the next. Gabbard started off with a 6 inning performance where he struck out 10 and didn't allow a run. He walked one and allowed 2 hits. His second start of the week didn't go as well. He lasted only 3 innings and allowed 9 runs, 7 of them earned on 3 walks and 6 hits, one of them a home run. He struck out 4, but that did little to make his day any better. Gabbard has a 5.56 ERA in 77.2 IP mostly thanks to his average 6.1 K/9 and high 4.9 BB/9 rates. He leads the team in wins with 6, but also leads the team in losses with 7. When he's on, he's good, but when he's not, he's horrible as his two different starts last week show.
The Sea Dogs no longer have an ace of their staff. They have two. Jon Papelbon is considered to be the top pitching prospect in the system and has been the ace of the Sea Dog staff all year. His turn in the rotation was skipped this week to allow him some more rest. I haven't heard of any injuries or problems he's been having so I don't think his skipped start is any cause for concern. Now it's time to start considering John Lester as the second ace of this team. After his dominating performance last week he now has a 2.51 ERA in 82.1 IP with 84 k's, all better marks than Papelbon's 2.67 ERA in 81 IP with 73 K's. Lester threw a 7 inning gem last week striking out 10 without allowing a run. He walked 2 and allowed 2 hits.