Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When I said the Sox might be hungover Monday, I meant they wouldn't be

Yes, to convey one's foolishness via a posting of Homer Simpson is a bit cliched. But it was either that or posting Britney Spears' "Oops I Did It Again" album cover, and nothing good could have come of that. Thanks to this site for the family-friendly Homer pic.

Well, so much for THAT theory. So having misfired on last night’s projection, I will now, in the time-honored sportswriter tradition, take the opposite tack and declare the Red Sox will NEVER LOSE AGAIN!!!

OK, they’ll probably lose again between now and the end of October—maybe even tonight, when unpredictable fifth starter Brad Penny takes the mound in Cleveland—but these Sox, who won their 11th in a row Monday with a taut 3-1 victory over the Indians, look much more formidable than I envisioned earlier this month.

Indeed, in the spirit of full disclosure, with the Sox under .500 for the first week-and-a-half, I was pondering a blog entry about how this might be a transition season for the Sox much like 2006, except this time the transition would be taking place in the lineup instead of within the pitching staff.

There’s always a chance that ends up being the case—remember, the Sox won 12 in a row in June 2006 before the bottom fell out—but this might be 2007 (when the Sox led the AL East for the final 168 days of the season) all over again instead of 2006. And how’d you like to be the Blue Jays this morning, playing far better baseball than anybody envisioned yet still looking up at the Red Sox (albeit by percentage points)?

Updating the late Friday post: Joe Girardi did not snap during his post-game interview session (I still say he’s going to look a whole lot like Michael Douglas in Falling Down by June 1) and didn’t seem to be trying to pull a fast one with the unexplained absence of Brian Bruney, who was already back in New York getting ready to have his sore right elbow examined.

Girardi said Bruney—who had been held out of the Yankees’ previous game Wednesday due to discomfort in the elbow—still felt something amiss while throwing on the field Friday afternoon. Bruney went on the disabled list Saturday and has told reporters he’ll be back when his 15 days are up, but given how cautious all teams are—especially with elbow injuries—I’ll believe that when I see it.

To borrow from the Inside Track gals: File under: Much ado about nothing.

But this stuff fascinates me, so here’s another example of how a manager handles an injury to a key player. Royals manager Trey Hillman came under some fire in Kansas City for not revealing that his ace closer, Joakim Soria (owner, by the way, of the greatest nickname in baseball), was nursing a sore right shoulder when he sat for eight straight days earlier this month. Hillman and the Royals admitted Soria—who has pitched once since Apr. 13—was hurting Friday, when they announced he would sit through at least the weekend.

Hillman explained the Royals’ gamesmanship by telling reporters he’s “…always been of the belief that the more information you put out there, the more it weakens your position, so to speak—especially when it’s your closer.”

That’s along the lines of what Terry Francona often says when he’s asked about the availability of certain players before a game (and I’m paraphrasing here): It doesn’t behoove the Sox to let the opponent know who is and isn’t available. Of course, Francona admitted before the finale against the Yankees Sunday that there would be no Jonathan Papelbon (nor Manny Delcarmen nor Ramon Ramirez) and it didn’t seem to hurt the Sox.

Email Jerry at jbeach73@gmail.com.

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