Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Ninth Begins Returns

Jerry Remy is now quoting "Meet the Parents" for no apparent reason.

Matt Clement: Sometimes pitchers can get away with smoke and mirrors for a while. In Pete Schourek's second go-around with Boston he shot out of the gates quickly. His first several starts were near shutouts, and by the pitching line it looked maybe he had found his younger self. Like that was possible. Anyone who was watching the games live could tell he was just sneaking by. Bad pitches being just missed, miraculous plays to end innings, generous calls from umps - Pistol Pete needed them all. But his stuff really wasn't there even though the results were, and soon enough those disappeared too. The point is, Matt Clement is not one of these guys. Long way to go for that, hu? Clement's stuff has been exceptional, far better than The Ninth expected, and in some ways, better than the results. His numbers are great, no question, but I don't know his ERA isn't in the low 2's. He throws hard, with a lot of movement, and has been pitching strikes. Matt can run his fastball or straighten it out, and has that nasty little slider. As good as anyone the Sox have faced all season. A brilliant signing that in a lot of ways Theo lucked into.

David Wells: He and Terry Francona have combined to give away two games this year. On opening day Wells was not in shape to pitch. After he came of the DL from a foot injury, Wells was not in shape to pitch. Yet he started both games. And got shelled. Why? Because Tito didn't have the guts to tell a gruff, loud veteran that he can't go. So the Sox handed away two games, but maybe it's worth it. Maybe over the course of the season a happy Wells will win you two extra. Not really sure, but on paper it sure seems dumb. Other than that, David has been more good than bad.

Bronson Arroyo: In his last start Arroyo realized it's better to have a third pitch! Imagine that. The really surprising thing is how long he's been able to get by with just the 1 and 2. But hitters have been starting to catch on, especially lefties, and Bronson is starting to believe more in that changeup. He should, because it could turn him into a 20 game winner.

Wade Miller: His first couple of starts reminded The Ninth of Roger Clemens. His last couple, more like Pat Rapp. That wide body with hard fastball and good control was Rocket-like at first, with a curve instead of split. But he's lost a little something lately. Needs to throws his slider more, but right now is looking less like savior and more like solid starter.

Curt Schilling: Less talky, more pitchy.

Tim Wakefield: Thoroughly uninteresting. The usual up and down year from Wake. Good guy though. I think he's throwing that curve less, don't you?

John Halama: I dont want to write about him anymore than you want to read about him. Nothing less exciting than a long reliever. Except Dennis Lamp -- always liked that guy. Must've been the moustache.

Mike Timlin: Got to love Mike Timlin. I've spoken to Terry and we've agreed he'll be placed on the All-Star team. I had to make some allowances, sign a few things for the kids, but we got it done. Somebody's talked both Mike and Embree to trust their secondary and tertiary pitches more, and it's paid off. Somebody, thy name is Jason Varitek. Forget the closer talk Boston Herald, he was never good at that, but he could pitch set up 'til he's 45.

--Game Interjection: Wade Miller was just lifted after giving up a bases loaded single to Casey Blake. Problem is, the count was full and umpire Larry Vanover's right arm was on sabbatical. So Blake's no idiot, he's not swinging unless it's perfect because Crazy Larry won't call a strike. Miller has to throw down the pipe, and Casey shoots a single to left. Boston, you've just been Vanovered.

Alan Embree: While we're talking game, how about Alan Embree? Comes into a bases loaded, nobody out sitch and gets a strikeout and the double play. No runs score. And what do they turn two on? A slider, his secondary pitch. The Ninth's brain grins at it's own accomplishment. Last week people were talking release, today he's at the top of his game. Make it last Alan.

Mike Myers: Got him for free, third best reliever. Oh Theo.

Matt Mantei: A little Scott Williamson, a lot Chad Fox. If Matt can reverse than ratio, maybe we'll have something. Right now he's got a curve that can't find the strike zone and a straight fastball in the mid 90's. That's ok, but it's not exactly ready for prime time. If he's not careful he's going to find himself replaced right around July 31st.

Keith Foulke: He's found it again, by the way. Forget two nights ago in Cleveland, he's got his stuff back. The pop and location are there, he'll be fine. As nasty as that change-up is, Keith is all about spotting with the fastball. Watch what uses to get outs - it's not the change.

And Francona just brought in Mike Myers, who wasn't warming up. Let's see what happens!