Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Some Belated ALDS Thoughts

So, I think I liked last year's ALDS against the Angels better. You remember that one right? The Sox rolled in Games 1 and 3 and Game 2 featured Manny's K-Rod Moonshot. Like I said, I think I liked that one better.

This year, every game was excruciatingly close and amazingly the Sox twice allowed the Angels to tie the game in the eighth inning only to eventually win in the ninth. I'll be honest with you. In each of those situations I thought the game was over once the Angels battled back to tie. Game 4 was the worst though. I was convinced the Angels were having their Red Sox in 2004 moment with the Red Sox playing the role of the Yankees, but luckily I was wrong and now it's onto the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays. Wow. Never thought I would type that sentence.

With that being said, some leftover thoughts from this series....

1) The Red Sox really are turning into the late 1990s Yankees. The Angels definitely could have won that Series but the Sox made just about every play they had to in the field while the Angels defense was almost unbelievably bad. Combine that with their stunning inability to hit with runners on base and K-Rod once again proving that anybody who pays him $15M a year as a free agent is a fool and you have the Angels losing this series almost as much as the Red Sox winning it. Isn't this exactly how the Yankees won back in the day? Or more specifically, isn't this exactly how the Yankees beat the Sox in the 1999 ALCS?

2) I am already on record as being sickened by the fawning over Mark Texiera from the TBS crew. Again, do we really need to make Texiera into the next Babe Ruth when he goes an entire postseason series without a single extra base hit and only two hits (one of them an infield single) with runners on base? I don't care that he hit .467 with an OBP of .550. The Angels got him to be a run producing force in the middle of their lineup and he did not do that. In that sense, the deal for him was an abject failure. End of story. They were cruising to the AL West crown and the best record in the AL with or without him.

3) I am torn. Part of me is greatly concerned about the Sox offense who looked pretty bad against the Angels. The other part of me says that they just won a playoff series against a 100 win team with just a solitary RBI a piece from Pedroia, Papi, and Youklis. Couple that with the fact that they combined to go 9-52 with only 3 XBH between them and it is a minor miracle they actually won.

4) One more damning offensive stat for the Sox and that is that they scored 18 runs in the series. Not very good, but not awful either. However, 11 of those 18 runs came on just 4 swings (Jason Bay's 2 run HR and 3 run HR, Drew's 3 run HR, and Ellsbury's 3 run pop out err base hit). Much of the Red Sox past postseason success has come from the ability to grind out runs with a slow bleed approach until eventually they can reach a weak middle-reliever and create some separation. That isn't happening right now. It wasn't really happening in September either; specifically in the Tampa Bay series. That has to be a definite concern right now. Of course we are well overdue for a hot streak for Pedroia, Papi, and Youkilis so maybe all of these fears will be quelled in the next week. If not then I hope you are ready to see Tampa Bay in the World Series.

5) A quick pitching breakdown....

Lester - what else is there to say? He's the ace now.

Beckett - biggest potential X factor moving forward. If Game 3 was a fluke then the Sox are looking great to repeat. If it was not and he is not healthy then Tampa will probably take the series in 6.

Dice-K - ugh. Can you remember a less enjoyable person to watch pitch? If so please refresh my memory.

Manny D - looking real good, but I don't want to jinx it.

Masterson - looking a bit on the shaky side.

Okajima - Oki being Oki you know? He'll walk some guys and he'll get some huge outs.

Papelbon - he's looked awesome. Thank GOD he did not have to be used in Game 4. That would have had three run outing written all over it.

6) I too would have liked to have seen Lester start the 8th in Game 4. However, there were a few times during the year when his pitch count started getting in the neighborhood of 110 (I think he finished with 109 Monday) through 7 innings and he went out for the 8th and got hit around a little bit. Not rocked, but hit. Maybe Tito was guarding against that? Still, I would not have been averse to letting Lester go out there on a batter by batter basis to see what he could do. If he gave up a hit, then yank him, but as long as he kept on retiring guys I would have been happy to ride him out. Of course the Sox won the game and all is well so there is really no need to harp on that point. Plus, isn't that a little bit of the backup QB mentality where it always sounds better until it is actually implemented? How many Grady Little jokes would have come up if Lester gave up a hit and then a two-run jack to either Texiera or Vlad? Exactly.

7) The stupidest, and I mean STUPIDEST thing I have ever heard an announcer say came courtesy of Buck Martinez as the Sox were celebrating after Jason Bay crossed the plate:

"You think these guys don't care about winning?!"

What? Of course they care about winning. Do you think they wanted to lose? Did somebody question how much they wanted to win? Did David Ortiz pull Buck aside prior to the game and say, "Buck I don't care if we win or lose"? I could go on forever. It almost makes me wish Joe Morgan was in the booth. Well maybe not.

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