April 2, 2009

GIVE THE PADRES THE PAWSOX PITCHING STAFF AND THEY'RE FAVORITES IN THE NL WEST:

Sox armed and ready for season (Tony Massarotti, April 2, 2009, Boston Globe)

In Red Sox history, rarely has there been a time when they broke camp with such pitching talent and depth, ace through closer. Beyond No. 5 starter Penny, there is even depth on the disabled list and in the minor leagues. John Smoltz, Clay Buchholz, and Michael Bowden all figure to help the Sox at some point, as does Daniel Bard, the fireballing righthanded prospect who looks like a closer-in-the-making.

All of that gives the Red Sox, particularly Francona, more options than a Chinese menu, which is something every manager desires. [...]

For now, the Red Sox also appear to have a diverse staff, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. The season-opening rotation consists of a hard-throwing righthander (Beckett), a hard-throwing lefthander (Jon Lester), and a knuckleballer (Tim Wakefield). Daisuke Matsuzaka sometimes seems to throw more pitches than Jason Varitek has fingers, and Penny has learned to record more ground outs in the middle of his career.

In the bullpen, on any given day, Francona could have as many as six pitchers capable of retiring lefthanded hitters and six pitchers capable of retiring righthanded ones, an astonishing ambidexterity that should allow him to protect people such as the aging Takashi Saito, while employing Javier Lopez (better against lefties) and Ramon Ramírez (better against righties) in their ideal situations.

With the pitching staff, in particular, the Red Sox seem to have an answer for almost everything.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at April 2, 2009 7:04 AM
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