Throwin' Heat

Thursday, April 30, 2015

10 Things I expected to see

These are 10 things I expected to see through 20 plus games. As we know, there are many more that could be listed. This is a team that is desperate for some sort of a solution with pitching. The hitting will be there throughout the year. It's the pitching as a whole that this team will have to try and piece together to keep them in a pennant race. I hear everyday "oh if we get Hamels" What about getting Hamels? He is one guy. This staff has so many issues, one guy is not going to solve the problems. This is a problem that took place in the offseason. Yes they bolstered that offense to score 800 runs this year. But they also put together a pitching staff that will give up just as many runs as they score. Come on now...Ross, Varvaro, Mujica coming out of the pen is not a collective remedy for winning the pennant. This bullpen is filled with 11th and 12th guys on a pitching staff. Cherrington should and could have done better. It could be getting close to having a new sheriff in town.

1.  Red Sox have scored 109 runs, which puts them 2nd in the AL.

2.  Always a patient club when hitting and making pitchers work hard and throw pitches, so the League lead in walks in AL is not a surprise.

3.  I think we all expected them to hit more homeruns and have more power as a team. This is showing up in the stats. 25 Home runs puts them 3rd in the American League.

4.  I expected them as a staff to have a high ERA. But 5.23 era is shocking, which puts them dead last in ERA. When you don't have a starting rotation that can go deep into ballgames and you're constantly using a depleted bullpen, it's trouble. There is so much more to that 5.23 ERA. The starting pitching has been terrible for the most part. No command, missing spots, bad 0-2 pitches, not moving hitters off the plate. Man I could write 2 pages on why. You can't really ask the bullpen to do more than what they are trying to do. Besides not having the personnel in the bullpen, they are at this time being overworked. Running guys up and down from triple A isn't going to solve anything either. They are in triple a for a reason.

5.  198 hits in 192.2 innings pitched by the staff. Not too bad, especially compared to some of the other stats in the pitching department.

6.  A 427% slugging against Red Sox pitching, which ranks them last in the AL. That is horrible. It just shows you they have given up lots of extra base hits. This has to change and it starts with the starters.

7.  A 7.29 era for Red Sox pitchers in the 6th inning alone and a 5.43 era in the 5th inning. That's terrible. I feel it will change some but how much? Don't know. This has a a lot to do with the guys you have in the starting rotation. Red Sox don't have that guy that you know will give you close to 7 innings a start. They don't have that guy that can grind and grit out those middle innings. That's what a number 1 guy in a rotation does. He gets you through those tough middle innings and saves the bullpen. The only guy with experience being a number 1 is Masterson with Cleveland. To me he was with Cleveland because there really wasn't anyone else to fit that spot at the time in Cleveland. I know when I got to the 6th inning I bowed my neck and made pitches because I was seeing the finish line. Those middle innings are shut down innings and as a pitcher you have to dig deep within yourself and make the pitches you need to make. These guys just are not doing it, and with lots of reasons.

8.  This is a shocking stat: 5.71 era with an 0-2 count with 3 home runs and 11 earned runs given up. Again, missing location, poor execution on their pitch. Just shitty pitching.

9.  A good note. Tazawa has pitched well. 1.86 era and a 10 to 1 in strikeouts to walks. Hopefully I am wrong. But I see him being overworked this year.

10.  Finally Buchholz. Not a big fan of his. He has great stuff. Can pitch with the best of them, when he is on his game. Has the stuff to be a number 1. But his mound presence bothers me. To me, he doesn't have that mental toughness and confidence to be an ace. He kind of reminds me of a little leaguer who gives up a hit in an inning and he loses his mind. There is an art of being a number 1 guy in a rotation. Which involves many things, and not just throwing the ball. He has had a few years pitching behind number 1 guys to groom himself and prepare himself for taking the next step in being a leader in a rotation. And he hasn't. Will he ? Will the Red Sox wait for that ? I don't know

That's my call

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Good game to Watch Top 10

1. Archer 110 pitches thru 5.2 innings. He had pretty good command and an excellent slider with very good location with it. I liked the way he changed eye levels of the Red Sox with fastballs inside almost every inning of work, by pitching inside. He set up his 88/89 mph slider for the out pitch. He looks to always be in attack mode and doesn't really give in to any hitter. He always comes at them. He has become a better pitcher and not as much of a thrower since 2013. I would like to see him use that 2 seamer a little more vs lefties and mix in the changeup in fastball counts. Could be a 16 game winner with a lot better run support. 

2. 6th inning.  Guyer comes to the plate. He drills a line drive into left field. Where the hell is Ramirez playing? It drops in there for a basehit. Hanley was playing 5 feet from the warning track. I wouldn't think someone from the bench put him there. I think he just wandered there. Farrell is going to really keep an eye on Hanley after he sets him in position so he doesn't wander off. Bad spot in the game for that to happen. Red Sox up 1-0 and Guyer gets on. Red Sox get out of that 6th inning jam, when Guyer is called out on Farrells challenge. Calling Guyer out was the right call. Lucky

3. Miley's command and location were better. I am not going to say I feel 100% confident in him yet. If her fixes his issues with lead off walks and pitch selection, I might come around. He is a battler and gives 100% every start and for the most part keeps you in the game for 6 innings. Tampa is a team he should have beat. A weak hitting offense that probably won't score much more than 525 runs this year. When a team has Forsythe hitting 4th in the lineup, you should know as a pitcher "Man I should beat this team tonight." I still feel Miley needs to come inside more and have quicker innings which will relate to fewer pitches per inning. Around the 5th inning there seems to be an issue with him with his command and location.

4. Tazawa had an excellent inning of work. I like how he has worked in the curveball more this year.

5. Excellent take out at 2nd base from Betts. A good clean hard slide. Red Sox scored their only run of game in this inning and it was mostly due to Betts aggressive slide at 2nd base.

6. 9th inning. I was in favor of Farrell's decision to let Holt see two pitches to see if he could do something with one of them or at least move Victorino over. End result: Holt pushed a sac bunt down the 1st base side, moving Victorino over. Red Sox couldn't get him in and left him stranded at 3rd base.

7. Holt had two very nice plays tonite. One being up the middle after playing the guy to pull and the other a nice play in the hole. He doesn't have a shortstop arm. But his concentration and first step to the ball is excellent. Shortstop is not a position I feel 100% confident with him in. He has handled himself great at all positions and I am sure Farrell feels good about putting him anywhere on the field. He is a great guy to have on your club.

8. Tropicana Field is probably the least liked MLB ballpark I have ever been in. It just seems dark with high shadows. The cat walk has its own set of rules. And to drive there, its brutal. There is one way in and out over that bridge. They have to get the hell out of that area. Put a ballpark where it's better for the people to get to, and enjoy a ballgame.

9. To put this in a few words without going into detail, Nava really needs to just drop the tag straight down. Just slap it down. Inside of fishing around for a spot to tag runner. Nava 1 for 2 on slapping tag down. Miley shows a decent move and lets the runner gain some space, and then throws over with the good move. Nava correctly placed the tag exactly where it was supposed to be the second time around.

10. When is the Chapter of Shane Victorino over? Cherrington better do something before this guy gets hurt or is 10 for 54. To me he doesn't fit in the plans this year. Good guy and all. But this is baseball and sometimes you have to make tough decisions and do best for the team.

That's my call

Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 17th Top 10

1. James Shields welcomed Kris Bryant to the Big Leagues. And Shields showed him what a veteran does in the Big Leagues. Bryant looked out of sorts on those changeups and curveballs, only natural for Bryant I think in that situation. To get called up with all the hype surrounding him, and hitting him 4th at Wrigley with 35,000 people in the crowd and  ready to comment on him is one thing. Then to face Shields on top of it. I give Bryant a thumbs up. He has handled this well and has said all the right things.

2. Ian Desmond just looks horrific at shortstop. Concentration level is shot and he just is not playing well.

3. Ryan Howard hitting 7th today vs Nationals and Ben Revere hasn't even see the outfield in the series. Is Sandberg fed up already? 150 more games Ryno.

4. Last night Napoli played a nice 1st base. Maybe one year he can be considered in Gold Glove talks.

5. To me, from a mechanical standpoint in pitching, if you have a kid or know a kid that tucks the ball behind his back like Jimenez does, please work on changing that ASAP, for many reasons, which I wont get into. One is that the arm does not catch up to the body in the delivery. This is one reason he is not a consistent strike thrower with good command and for him to hit his spots, it is a process.

6. 3rd inning. Mookie walks with 1 out. Petey up next. Why Farrell doesn't elect to straight steal Betts or hit and run in that situation has me confused. So 3rd pitch, Petey hits a fastball into a 6-4-3 doubleplay. Is Farrell going to play Earl Weaver ball? And count on the 3 run homers?

7. Ok Red Sox have Betts shifted to the right field side of second base for Adam Jones. So this tells you Red Sox looking to pitch Jones away. So what do Kelly and Hannigan do? They throw Jones a slider inside that he hits shortstop side of second base in the gap for a basehit. Pitch to your defense. Who screwed this one up?

8. 5th inning. Kelly makes Joseph look terrible on two nice sliders. Then for some reason he comes back with a fastball over the heart of the plate at 0-2 and Joseph hits one around Pesky Pole. Kelly should have come back with a heater inside and tight and then gone outside with a heater and Joseph would have walked back to the dugout with a K in the scorebook.

9. At times Kelly looks great. Looks to be the guy who wants that number 1 title. He has great stuff and a number 1 attitude. Then at times, he looks like a thrower. I hope as the year goes by he can put together games with more command and hit location better. I personally think his fastball would be more effective with more changeups in the mix. Especially second and third time around the order and in fastball counts. But that comes with his confidence in his ability to throw the changeup and hit his spot. Command on the changeup at times doesn't have to be perfect. It's a nice change of speed and the hitter, if not sitting on it, most likely is on his front foot or taking the pitch. He threw 118 pitches and still topped out at 98 on his 112th pitch. So the stuff is there. Let's hope he can be injury free and put a injury free season together.

10. I actually did like Farrell's decision to hit Nava for Victorino in the 6th inning. O'Day being a sidewinder with a slider that is more like a rising slurve and Victorino off to a 4 -25 or so start. Nava who has been squaring up the ball pretty much every at bat and being lefthanded probably wouldn't see as many slurves from O'Day and if he did, he would see the slurve better as a lefthanded hitter. Result wasn't good. But at least Farrell is thinking a bit.

That's my Call

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15 Top 10 List

My Top 10 list. I will point out 10 things I saw during the game good or bad. It could be from a situational point to which way the wind was blowing. A lot of these things mentioned you probably didn't see. Over the years I have really become a student of the game by looking at the game differently than the average fan or the 10-10 High School coach. There is so much more to baseball than just turning on the tv with a drink and watching the game. I hope I can point out some things for the average fan and maybe help someone involved in baseball.

1.6th inning. Napoli first up to the plate vs Gonzalez. Red Sox down 8-4. Napoli has excellent patience and takes the walk, by which he eventually scores on a 2 out double from Holt.

2. 7th and 8th inning. Good example of not going over or even having a scouting report on Nationals rookie pitcher Martin. He had 5 Ks in 2 innings throwing 88 mph with a little slider like pitch.

3. I see tired arms coming out of their bullpen. When you have tired arms, it usually leads to missed location and inconsistent command. Day off tomorrow. But I think a roster move should be made to swap out from Pawtucket.

4. 6th inning. Holt on 2nd base, score 8-5 with 2 out in Washington's favor. Matt Williams I believe decides to keep Gonzalez in the game to face Leon even with over 100 pitches on the day. Why? Because if he had gone to the bullpen and brought Jordan in, Farrell would have countered with pinch hitting Ortiz for Leon and a chance to cut the lead to 1.

5. Three different Red Sox pitchers walked the first guy they faced in the game. That cannot happen. Walking the first guy as a starter has "short outing" written all over it.

6. Four 2 strike sliders from Miley were pounded hard for extra bases.

7. Washington's throwing errors in this series was terrible. These were not Big League throws. Poor mechanics and none of the plays really needed to be rushed. Just poor or lack of concentration.

8. Exactly what I was expecting for the most part. A lot of these starters' games look like a 4th or 5th starter is throwing them. This is why I believe you need a true number 1 guy. A guy who ends losing streaks, a guy that the defense feels confident with out there and a guy that has the concentration and the will to get out of jams and if he doesn't, he comes back the next inning and shuts them down. This team doesn't have that guy.

9. I like how Ross faced Harper in the 6th inning. He worked him high with mostly fastballs and a show me slider. Then with a 2-2 count he changed Harper's eye level and threw him a nice outside slider that Harper flew out to center. Harper, a fantastic low ball hitter, is always looking to pull and to me doesn't have the patience at this stage to hit a 2 strike pitch the other way.

Finally number 10.  I am impressed how Hannigan and Leon have handled themselves and the staff so far. If both can hit around 250 and have a few clutch hits that would be a plus

That's my Call

Monday, April 13, 2015

Shell Shocked

Wow Sunday night baseball in New York. What a disaster. Heading into this game there was a lot of talk about Tanaka and his velocity and Buchholz's great start to the season. Man did this go south quickly. I usually enjoy Sunday night baseball when Schilling and Boone are in the booth. Kruck I don't mind at times, I enjoy him more when he is actually breaking something down about the game. Trying to be the funny guy and eating 12 hotdogs during a game I don't enjoy. Curt made some excellent points and has a good way of explaining things so the average fan can understand.
Basically this game was over in the first inning. A leadoff walk to Ellsbury. Buchholz, like Lester, has an issue throwing to first base. Buchholz throws to first too much, whereas Lester doesn't throw there at all. Buchholz to me looks nervous when guys get on first. He puts so much wasted energy and thought into a base runner on first. Watch him this year: he even throws over when guys are standing on the bag. I actually had that problem in Greensboro 1987. Yankees fill the bases and ARod clears them on a nice piece of hitting on a 2 strike hanging cutter. Headley hits another hanger in seats and old pal Drew hits line a drive also in the seats. Before Buchholz can think straight, it's 7-0. I am sure it happened very fast to him. When you're a pitcher and you have an inning going on like this, sometimes you get ahead of yourself and you want to get that next out badly. In doing this you miss location and you have no command. You become a thrower instead of a pitcher. I believe earlier into this inning somebody should have seen some cheese high and inside. (Headley) This is something Hannigan, being a veteran, should have been on top of by calling it. My gut tells me Tanaka isn't at 100%. Maybe its due to the lack of spring training work or there really is an injury in the forecast for him. I will have to agree with Schilling when he was commenting on Tanaka working low in the zone and not changing the eye level of the hitters.
Quick story: I had a game in double A and guys on first and second. Hobson came out for a mound visit and said to me "Come on buddy, change the eye level"  I did and I hit the next guy in the ribs to load the bases. We actually got out of inning on a line drive double play. Pretty sure Hobson didn't enjoy that.
5th inning Hanley shows his power and what he is capable of. He takes a 2 strike breaking pitch over the plate some and deposits it dead red center, another case of Tanaka staying and working low in the zone and Hanley knowing this and looking for a pitch and hammering it. That was really the only bright spot from the offense. That 19 inning game was a big deal to have so early in the season.
Bad night for pitching staff with runners in scoring position. Mujica makes an 8th inning appearance and helps out my point, that he should not be on this 25 man group. If I were the GM, he would never have left Fort Myers for Philly and on to Opening Day. I have watched his stuff and his effectiveness go down hill in the last 3 plus years. If he does have a role on this team, I see him as more of a situational guy to come in and throw his splitter and or sinker and get out of the inning. This guy is not going to be effective at the back end of bullpen.
Koji comes off the DL today I believe, so who will be the odd man out? For me, I release Mujica and eat his contract and begin to set some roles out in pen. Buchholz to me cannot have outings like this. It just cant happen, especially if you want to be looked at from others as the number 1 guy and a guy that wins after a Red Sox lose. A game like this for a guy like Buchholz could do some long term damage. I still don't see that killer instinct in his eyes, even more so when guys are on base. He will have to be more consistent this year and have a short memory. His concentration with guys on base is an issue to me. Instead of thinking "oh shit I gave up another hit", he needs to learn and change his thought process with men on base. Instead of "oh shit" it should be "Ok what pitches do I need to throw to get out of this inning" no matter what the score is. Believe me I know there are games like this for a starter, but when you see some things that could be changed or could be avoided it bothers me. I don't even know if watching video can help him. I think the issue is more in his head and being better prepared with a game plan . Walking the first guy of the game is unacceptable to me. And not making the hitter feel uncomfatable is also unacceptable to me. I can turn on the tv in the 4th inning and tell you how Buchholz is doing. It's always written on his face.
That's my Call 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A look at some Stats

Red Sox are 4-1 which is great and that being said on the road 4-1. Here are some stats early on to keep an eye on. 1. Red Sox hitters have seen the most pitches in AL at 1058, that's 134 more than second place Oakland, its the way the Red Sox like it in making opposing pitches throw as many pitches as possible. Billy Beane in Oakland loves his team around this theory as well  2. Red Sox hitting 211 with runners at 1st and 2nd overall, that has to improve with this lineup.  3. Red Sox have a 233 Avg with 2 out and runners in scoring position, that definetly has to get better as the weeks go on especially against teams like Detriot and Seattle but mainly against there Al east rivals.  4. Red Sox in 5 games have a horrible 194 Avg with two strikes on there hitters but are first in AL with 18 rbi. For a team that does see a lot of pitches per game this average isn't all so bad of course needs to be better.  5. Red Sox have only 11 extra base hits (XBH) which has them 13th in the American League, even after that opening day of home runs, this stat I expect Red Sox to be 1 or 2 at the end of the year and so does Cherrington when putting this team together with Hanley and Sandoval in the middle of the order.  6. Red Sox pitching. Team era 2.33 4th in American League. Only 5 games in that's not bad for a team people have said will need more starting pitching, but it is only 5 games.  7. Red Sox bullpen have 2.38 era which is 6th in AL, not bad, will this continue? I highly doubt it , not with the revolving door with guys in and out of that bullpen all year.  8. Red Sox 7th inning and on have a team era of 2.25 which is great but keep in mind they did play a 19 inning game the other night which helped keep that low, I look to see that go up as well. Right about now Farrell is in the process on finding guys there roles in the bullpen. Will this bullpen be set in there roles like a Seattle or K.C we will have to wait and see.  9. Finally a nice stat for the bullpen, Red Sox relievers when facing there first hitter in the game have an era of 0.00, 5.1 innings pitched, 0 hits given up, and 8Ks and a walk that's nice.  10. And finally a stat I often look at, Red Sox have a shocking 11.25 era with opposing runners in scoring position with 2 outs, that stat alone will lose you a lot of games during a long season, they have to fix this before it gets out of hand especially if this issue begins to appear late in games. Red Sox are 4-1 but they are playing a Yankee team that looks awful and has concerns in many areas and they played a Philly team that does as of now have I believe a below average lineup,except Utley and Revere and a pitching staff that rivals Pawtucket except of course Hamels. That's my call

Kelly's excellent first start

April 11th at Yankee Stadium, after that 19 inning ball game: teams come back to play a 1pm game. It's a nice day, wind blowing out to right. I thought for sure we would see some fireworks, but it didn't happen. With Kelly making first start after missing 2 weeks or so of the spring, he starts vs. Yankees instead of in a double A game.
The first inning was not bad, a 93-97 mph fastball, nice movement on fastball especially to Gardner and Beltran with sinker coming back over plate inside. Napoli continues to start slow 0-14 after first inning at bat, after a nice spring banging 6 dingers.
Second inning for Kelly was bit of location and lack of command issues, mainly I think from not getting the work and side sessions he needed in the spring. He does manage to get out of a 2nd and 3rd jam when Petit really helped out Kelly, swinging at two sliders in the dirt, exactly where Kelly wanted them. 3rd inning Holt comes up and gets on with base hit off a Warren curve ball. He kept his head down nice and hands back to drive it.
3rd inning for Kelly was better with better command and hitting more of his spots, especially to Beltran and his early season slow bat.
4th inning Sandoval comes up with nice plate coverage hits a Warren 3-2 changeup for a bloop single. Craig walks. Nava has a big 2 out single, driving in Pablo to the opposite field. Nava a usual pull hitter showed nice patience and plate coverage as well. Bogaerts comes to the plate and leaves 2 on and ends the inning. Warren threw 4 innings, was missing spots and just throwing too many pitches thru 4 innings (76)  I like Warren coming out of pen for Yankees where he can really use his fastball at its peak (95 plus) As a starter, you have to showcase 3 and 4 different pitches to the hitters. To me, Warren, who really relies on fastball and a little slider, really belongs in pen right now so he can come in in the 6th inning and give max effort with fastball. The Yankees in that 4th and 5th spot in rotation are short, especially with Capuano out right now. Kelly, threw 4 innings looks in better control of the game. His 4th inning was nice, with two strikeouts of Headley and Jones on well placed sliders. After 4,  he has set down 8 in a row with 50 pitches and is maintaining velocity around 95 mph, along with better command especially on secondary pitches.
5th inning Ortiz still looks out of sorts some, striking out on a pitch that in mid season he wouldn't even make an attempt on. Bottom 5th, Kelly looks still good and has command. He made another nice pitch to Petit on a slider in the dirt. This is the second time he has done that. 11 in a row after 5 innings.
6th inning, Napoli still looking for first hit of season, looks to me that he is pulling off the ball too much, more than usual. Bottom 6th, Kelly has a nice 2 seamer at 95 to Gardner that came back to the plate for a K. Better command the last 3 innings for Kelly, but man these Yankee hitters look like they are going to the plate with no approach to hitting today. Beltran again, slow bat on 2 seam fastball, 14 in a row for Kelly.
7th inning, Nava leads off with a walk from Wilson. Wilson, a lefty, cannot walk a first hitter on 4 pitches, especially lefty on lefty. That's bad pitching. Experts have said the Yankee bullpen is gonna' be a strength. Yes if they had a better starting 5, who could be counted on to go 6 plus, I see Yankee bullpen getting overworked and beat up this season. Miller and Betances are gonna have to pitch behind in score as much as ahead in score. You could see 30 different guys in that bullpen this year. Holt bloop single followed by Petey 2 run double. 2 questions here: why are the Yankee outfielders playing so shallow and who is setting this outfield defense? And why is ARod catching the ball with two hands at first base ?  LOL  Napoli ends inning still hitless at 0-17. Just another nice inning from Kelly. He is feeling it and now has set down 18 in a row with 8 Ks after 7 innings.
8th inning and for both teams some starters are getting a little throwing in bullpen, probably due to the late arrival to ballpark for some because of last nights game. Holt gets hit number 4 on the day. It's a double that Jones (again playing to shallow) can't catch up to. Jones is a 1st baseman with some experience in right field, but man that was a horrible route to the ball and he looks out of place out there as does Rodriquez at first base. It almost looks like the Yankees just woke up and came to the park with no intention on playing today. Bottom of 8th, Ogando makes another appearance out of pen. If this guy can stay healthy and give Red Sox 60 plus games this year, it would be a huge plus for this bullpen. The concern I have with Ogando is his delivery and mechanics being kind of violent. This could be due to his past injuries. I do like him from the stretch better than a wind up, less moving parts for him to go through  LOL His inning began with nice command and then he fell behind and made a terrible pitch to Young for a 3 run homerun, a hanging slider. Big League hitters will not miss those hanging sliders most of the time. I was waiting for him to punch out Young on 2 seam low and outside fastball where Kelly had success with him, but it didn't happen.
Bottom 9th, Ross in for Vavaro. I like Ross. To me he is a lefty that can come in and face a righty or lefty in any situation. His slider bites down nice to the righties inside. Personally I would have given Mujica the ball in the 9th, with the Sox up by 4, just to get him back in there after giving up that tying dinger by Headley the night before. Get his confidence back on track.I am not a Mujica fan, never was. The closer role is not a good spot for this guy. I think he is better suited 6th or 7th inning guy on first, so he can use his splitter and or sinking 89 mph fastball to get double play. When Koji comes off the DL you just might see that role for Mujica. All in all, I saw a nice pitched game from Kelly who, as the game went along, gained command and hit his spots with his pitches. The Red Sox did leave 3 guys stranded at third base in the game. Great swings from Nava and Holt with Papi and Napoli still looking to find their swing. Red Sox bullpen, I still say, will be an issue through this season. They are gonna need to find that "end of the game 3 guys" and set their roles, Tazawa we know is the 8th inning guy and Layne is trying to become that lefty specialist so lets see what happens.
Finally, if this is the Yankee team we are gonna see through 2015, they are gonna be in trouble, especially when Tanaka and C.C go on DL in 3 weeks.
That's my call