Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back. After an early season series loss to the Yanks, SMC and I decided that we needed some way to figure out what our path through this season was to be. So we went on a vision quest. While it took us away from you, our loyal and loving readers (all four of you), it helped us to figure out exactly what the hell was happening in Boston Sports.
With help from our Spirit Guides, these are some of the things we picked up:
The Sox should give Hermida a shot at being an every day DH before they give one to Lowell. The team knows that, one way or another, Lowell is gone after this season (even if he is not traded in the mean time, he has said that he is likely to retire). With Ortiz flagging, that leaves Hermida, a former first round pick who is hitting very well in limited action so far (5-14, 1.186 OPS, 3-RBI two out double yesterday) to be the guy who steps in for him. Don’t get me wrong, I think Ortiz still has some gas left in the tank (as evidenced by his 29 homers and 99 RBI in only four months of usefulness last year), but having a backup plan for more than this year is a good idea and that is clearly not Mike Lowell. Hermida should get a shot.
The bullpen will be fine, as long as Manny Delcarmen is not given a larger role. He’s a local guy, and apparently a good guy, but he doesn’t get the job done. While guys like Ram-Ram (who gave up a meaningless three run bomb to some nameless Royal over the weekend) and Oki (who has already walked three) have bad outings on occasion, even bad streaks, they are the exception, not the rule. With Delcarmen it’s the other way around, to me at least, and when he comes in and pitches well, I am surprised. If Francona can use those two guys wisely, along with Schoenweis, without leaning on them too much and overworking them, he’ll be able to bridge the inning or two between the starters and Pap nicely.
Which brings me to my next point. Daniel Bard is clearly not ready. All of you people out there who have been screaming for the Sox to trade Papelbon and his 38 saves last season because this kid throws 100 and is the next big thing are wrong. Yes, he may develop into a first class closer, but he’s not there yet, and he’s definitely not ready to close the door for a championship contender. He throws 100, but without a complimentary pitch to match that, hitters will be sitting dead red and the ball will end up going home with some fan. His changeup hasn’t been fooling people and his curve is not developed to the point where he can get strikes with it consistently. Once he has something else for hitters to be looking for, that 100 mph heater will be a much more effective weapon. The same thing is why Papelbon had some struggles last year (he still only blew three saves). He stopped being able to get his splitter over for strikes and hitters were looking for the fastball.
We were also reminded that there are other sports in the region, though they have all taken a back seat to anything the Sox do. I’ve become convinced that the Celtics are going to make a first round exit this season. They are going to face D-Wade and El Heat in the first round and all season the top players in the league have torched them in big situations. By the way, Wade is the new Allen Iverson (wore a Red Sox cap while talking about practice), without the convictions and off the court stuff.
The Bruins, on the other hand, actually have some things to be excited about. In the last few weeks they have been playing better, acting like a team and even moved up to grab the sixth spot in the playoffs. There is a legit shot that a big performance by Tuukka can steal a round for the B’s, and with the way the rest of the team has been acquitting themselves lately, it will at least be an exciting first round matchup with Olympic hero Ryan Miller and the Sabres. The real excitement comes with the completion of the draft lottery the other day. The B’s are guaranteed to get either Talyor Hall or Tyler Seguin. Both of them are NHL ready and will be a big help next year to an offense that has been the second lowest scoring in the league this year. I kinda know what it would have felt like for the Celtics to have gotten one of the top two picks in 2007 and gotten either Oden or Durant (Oden has been a bust, but it was exciting to be thinking about getting him).
It’s good to be back. Wakefield takes the mound at 1, so fake sick, drink some ipecac, or moon your boss, because we have day baseball and it’s warm and sunny in Minnesota.