With the trade deadline fastly approaching (on Sunday), the Red Sox tenuously holding onto a lead in the AL East, all the drama that happened in last night's game (Clement and Nixon getting hurt, Schill's adventure as closer, Manny Delcarmen making his big-league debut), and the call by many to reduce the Red Sox threads, I figured I'd make a thread for Sox fans to sound off.
There's plenty to talk about- possible trades, the health of Nixon and especially Clement, Schilling as the closer, whether to call up the young guys like Youkilis, Delcarmen, Papelbon, etc., Francona's managerial skills, plus more.
Personally, I want to say that my prayers go out to Matt Clement. Besides being our staff ace the first 90+ games this year and jelling with the team quickly, Clement has been a stand-up guy from all accounts. All preliminary reports seem good, so hopefully he will be back shortly. Clement really dodged a bullet, this could have been a career-ending, or even life-threatening injury.
The funny (as in strange, not 'ha-ha') thing about this is that he may be back in the lineup before Trot is. It appeared as though he either hurt his lower back or his oblique. Neither of those heal very easily, and considering how hard Trot swings every time he is up, that could mean a long time on the DL. If only Jay Payton had been a little more patient, he could have gotten those at-bats he was looking for. This latest injury just compounds my hope that they move Trot to 1B this year when Millar is let go and Olerud retires (or is released). It's easier to find a good RF these days than a good 1B I think.
Did anyone else have a big beef with how Francona used the 'pen last night? I sure did. We have a longman, a AAA starter, in Jeremi Gonzalez. Clement is injured. You have unlimited time to get your reliever warmed up in that situation. Why not bring in your longman? It's a 5-1 lead in the 3rd. Why bring in the biggest righty specialist in the majors, and leave him in against a hot lefty?? These are the type of moves that change a sure win into an extra inning battle. Had Gonzalez come in after Clement, he could have done what Brazelton did for Tampa and saved our pen. Instead, we had to empty the cabinet just to stay in the game. What if Damon doesn't homer in the 10th? Who pitches the 11th? Definitely not Schill.
As for Schilling, his pure numbers as a closer look pretty good, but man has he been a heart-attack in the late innings, no more of a sure thing than Foulke was before him.
Schilling as the closer-
10.2 IP, 12 H, 5 ER, 1 HRA, 1 BB, 11 K, 1.22 WHIP, 4.22 ERA
He's lost 1 game and blown another, to go with 2 wins and 2 saves.
While an upgrade from Foulke, many, including myself, expected more from Schilling than an ERA in the 4s and a relatively high WHIP. I think the more he pitches in this situation, the better he will do, but do have the luxury of letting him work that out? Schilling wants to start, and despite all the AJ Burnett rumors, the best way to get us back to the World Series would be getting a shutdown reliever and putting Schilling back in the rotation. Relievers come cheaper than Burnett would, and moving Schilling back to the rotation would give us that ace we are trying to trade for.
I, personally, am a big proponent of the Mueller-Romero trade rumor. It seems to be based in truth, as both sides would benefit. Romero is signed cheaply through 2006, and Mueller has a young replacement waiting in Pawtucket by the name of Kevin Youkilis. While trading Mueller might hurt the clubhouse a bit, it would help the on-field product much more. There's a minimal drop-off from Mueller to Youkilis, and a big upgrade in bringing in Romero. We bring him in, suddenly Schilling can go to the rotation. That means we can move either Wake, Miller or Arroyo to the pen as the longman. Our staff would look like this-
Schilling (I expect an ERA in the 3's)
Wells (3.61 ERA since June 1)
Clement (ERA in mid 4s at worst)
Wakefield (4.42 ERA)
Miller (4.57 ERA plus very promising last start)
Timlin/Romero as closer
Romero/Timlin as setup (whoever doesn't get closer job)
Arroyo as longman/ 7th and 8th inning guy
Myers as lefty specialist
Bradford as righty specialist
Gonzalez/Delcarmen/Foulke as 11th reliever
I say put Arroyo in the pen because
1) Miller has struggles in his first inning, leading me to believe he'd be a bad choice coming in as a reliever. Seems like he needs to settle in- you have no opportunity for that as a reliever.
2) Wake is the vet and can give good innings as a starter.
3) Arroyo kills righties and lefties kill him. Putting him in the pen and deciding who he will face easier should improve his effectiveness. I don't think 2 months in the pen will stunt his growth (if he is going to get better at this point- he is almost 30).
Romero and Timlin both have ERAs under 2.5, and Timlin has experience as a closer. Both can get Ks and keep the ball in the park. Myers and Bradford can be used to pitch the 6th/7th when we have a lead almost every day. Since they only face 2, maybe 3 batters each day, they can go out 2-3 times per series. Arroyo should give the back of the 'pen a shot in the arm.
The guy who really excites me is Manny Delcarmen. If you didn't see him last night, you missed a young righty with a power arm (hit 94-95 on the radar a few times) and a hammer curve that's in the low 80's, high 70s. He's a Boston native (Hyde Park, West Roxbury High) who I think will love the pressure of Boston. He could be a real shot in the arm in the 2nd half, perhaps like what K-Rod did for the Angels in the 2002 playoffs. He has averaged more than a K/IP for his minor league career, and has added life to his fastball since returning from Tommy John surgery. If Theo/Tito are smart, they should pray he uses his good first appearance as a chance to get on a roll, and then ride Manny and his power arm through the last 2 months of the year. We've all been waiting for the latest crop of young prospects to start showing up in the majors, and Manny could be the first guy to really contribute (I consider Youks to not be a prospect anymore, but a legit major-leaguer).