June 3, 2007


After rough start, Pedroia dusting the competition (Bob Ryan, June 3, 2007, Boston Globe)

[Y]esterday Terry Francona posted a Red Sox lineup in which Pedroia was batting second. That's what happens when a guy hits .415 for an entire month, raising his average to .323. With a 3 for 5 yesterday, including an RBI single in the five-run seventh inning of the Sox' 11-6 victory, he is now up to .333.

If ever a guy had a right to gloat, it is Francona. The manager pulled the full Tammy Wynette in April, when his little second sacker was going 5 for 48 in one stretch of 18 games. Day after day, Francona stood by his man, even on days when Cora was doing things like hitting a triple and a homer in the same game at Yankee Stadium.

The kid is our second baseman, he kept saying. The scouts say he'll hit, so he'll hit. Cora is here to back us up at short and second. That's his job. No, I'm not contemplating a switch.

But as April rolled into May, the kid did not hit. And you had to wonder if he ever would hit, since he did not hit when he was called up last September (.191 in 89 at-bats) and he did not hit in Florida, either. Sometimes scouts are wrong.

It now looks as if maybe they weren't wrong, and Francona was wise to believe them. For the past three weeks, no batter, not even Ichiro Suzuki (well, perhaps Kevin Youkilis) has been harder to get out than Pedroia. Facts are facts.

...that Pedroia was underestimated and Robinson Cano wildly overestimated.

The middle of the game yesterday was really a microcosm of the Yankees' problems--a bad outing from their #1 starter; no help from the bullpen; horrific defense, especially from their shortstop (no one expects Cabrera and Cano to field well); and Roger Clemens--the only non-roster guy with a chance to make an impact--going on the minor league DL.

Meanwhile, the Sox have a whole group of youngsters knocking on the door, like The Killer B's (Kevin Thomas, 6/03/07, Press Herald)

Clay Buchholz looks ready for Pawtucket, if not Boston. Michael Bowden, 20, is already impressing in Double A. And Josh Beckett pitches Sunday night for the Red Sox.

Think those three will be in the same rotation someday? I do. Buchholz, 22, put in another eye-opening performance for the Sea Dogs Saturday night, striking out 11 in seven innings, allowing one run on three hits and three walks. His ERA is now 1.70.

He's young, but he's aging quite well: Michael Bowden is ahead of schedule at Double-A Portland, but he won't be rushed to the majors. (KEVIN THOMAS, 6/03/07, Maine Sunday Telegram)
When Michael Bowden pitched for Waubonsie Valley High in Aurora, Ill., he played the proverbial man among boys role, striking out 172 batters in 80 innings.

No need to reach for the calculator. That is 2.15 strikeouts per inning.

True, that was only high school. And how many schoolboy stars can adjust to the grind and talent of professional baseball?

Well, it appears Bowden can.

Bowden, 20, is playing a new role with the Portland Sea Dogs: a boy among the men. He is the youngest top pitching prospect to wear a Sea Dogs uniform, and he is one of the pitchers who should figure into the future plans of the Boston Red Sox.

"The scouting department scouted him extensively in high school before they made the decision on him, and it's played out," Sea Dogs pitching coach Mike Cather said. "He's done exactly what they hoped he would do, which is pound the ball low in the zone."

Boston drafted Bowden in the supplemental round in 2005, the 47th overall pick five spots behind teammate Clay Buchholz. He figured to still be in Class A right now, but Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein declared him "ahead of schedule" and promoted him to Double-A Portland last month.

Bowden, who is 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, is scheduled to make his Hadlock Field debut today in his fourth Sea Dogs start. He has a slightly herky-jerky motion, a workable change-up, bending curveball and a heavy fastball.

A heavy fastball?

"It has late movement, with heavy sink," Cather explained. "When you catch it, it feels like you're catching a cinder block.

"It's the same thing for the hitters. They get the broken bats, the miss hits and the feeble ground balls."

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 3, 2007 8:32 AM

Jeter, Cano, and Melky are all excellent defenders. Rates for this season via BP -- Jeter 109, Cano 108. Melky in LF 106 and in cf an outstounding 127.

Only a RedSawx fan with typical delusions (hey, remember last year?) would think otherwise.

Meanwhile, the Sawx are stuck with dogs like Lowell (86 RATE, and was a disaster in the field this weekend, especially Sunday night), Wily "K" Pena (84 Rate in RF, 57! in lf), and the aforementioned Pedroia (90 Rate). Better rush David (.235 hitter) Murphy to the bigs now that Nancy's, predictably, gone down, cause Wily K ain't gonna cut it.

The Yanks have taken 4 of 6 from the Sawx in the past week.

It's only going to get worse as you begin to realize that Pedroia in April is what the Sawx are stuck with, and that May was an aberition.

(But hey, one month from the midget no-glove 2nd baseman outweighs 2 years of good fielding and class hitting from Cano.)

This weekend revealed the Sawx weaknesses: Manny's not himself, Ortiz is playing injured and his power is missing, Lowell is so broken-down that he can't field anymore, and both the starting pitching and the relief has played far above its talent so far. The team is too old, and there's little help on the way, despite the boasting of Sawx fans.

In the past 2 series the Sawx top starters have been nothing but mediocre, meanwhile Donnelly, Lopez, and Snyder are hardly the class middle relief arms that Sawx fans have been touting (Pineiro and Romero are, predictibly, godawful).

You've been relying in relief on a Japanese import who's thus far performed far above his Japan League levels and on a closer with a bum shoulder who's succeeded because of a shockingly low babip. The league will catch up to the Japanese fellow, and Pap, if his arm doesn't fall off, is due for a major correction.

But don't listen to me, though I was dead on about the Sawx last season, instead crank up the volume on Sweet Caroline, pull that pink Sawx hat down over your ears and sip on that Fenway frozen daquairi with all your brethren. It'll help dull the pain.

PS -- Moose ain't our number 1 -- in fact, he won't even be in our playoff rotation.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 4, 2007 1:07 AM