The Red Sox came into Friday with a six-game winning streak. They won their next five games, including a series with their rival, the Yankees. They lost the second game of the Cleveland series in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. Javier Lopez ran to first after a great diving stop by Kevin Youkilis. Youk threw a nice toss to Lopez, who dropped it, allowing a runner from second to come home on the error. The Sox won the final game of the Cleveland series after coming back from five down. Jonathan Van Every hit his first career home run in the top of the tenth to give them a 6-5 win.
I love the Red Sox bullpen this year, but there is one guy that must go. It is not just because of his error in Tuesday’s game. He is supposed to be the guy they bring in to get lefties out, but they try and leave him in for an inning at a time and he can’t do it without giving up at least a run. This year he has an ERA of 9.39 and has an ERA of 6.75 against lefties; so it isn’t like if they could just leave him in for that one lefty he would be fine. He can’t pitch and he can’t field, so I don’t know why he is still wearing a Boston Red Sox jersey. They need to call up someone like a Michael Bowdoin, who needs the experience and is a much better pitcher. The Sox have the best bullpen ERA in the majors, and it would be that much better with no Lopez.
Don’t get me wrong. Big Papi is one of my favorite Red Sox, but when a guy isn’t hitting, you need to move him down in the lineup. The Sox have played over twenty games, and David Ortiz has yet to hit one out of the yard. Your three and four spots are supposed to be your power hitters, and Ortiz has killed that theory so far this year. He is hitting .220 after 91 at bats. Terry Francona is a guy that will play you if you have earned his respect, and Papi has done just that. But when someone plays this bad, you’ve got to know when enough is enough. I want to see Francona move Ortiz down to the six spot, and move Jason Bay up to the three spot. Bay and Youkilis have two of the best on-base percentages in the league, and putting them back-to-back is almost guaranteed to get you runs. Ortiz has been a great player over the years, but age and injuries seem to have finally caught up with him.
The Sox had a great winning streak of eleven games, and they needed it. Keep in mind they did this without Dice-k and Jed Lowrie. People like Mike Lowell and Tim Wakefield were forced to play better then expected and did just that. People said it was all luck, which has a little truth, but most of the wins were just great baseball by the Sox. Yes, some wins needed late inning rallies or walk-off home runs, but that’s what defines a team. A team is great if they can beat you 15-14 or 1-0. It is a team that can win with power or with speed and pitching, or a combination of all of them. During the winning streak, they would make comebacks, but also blow teams out. If you think this was a fluke, then you’re wrong. The Sox have a great lineup, with an amazing bullpen that can finish out games. They are the best team in the league because they have more depth then anyone else. They have starting pitcher after starting pitcher that can come in and pitch a great game. They lost their two shortstops, and their third one came in and is batting .275. They have a great minor league system that keeps feeding them young stars like Jonathan Papelbon, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, and many others.
The Last thing I want to talk about is Julio Lugo. He just got off the DL and is now being worked back into the starting lineup by Francona. Just because he is making eight million more dollars than Nick Green doesn’t mean Lugo should start over him. Green has filled in great while Lugo and Lowrie have been out, and he has earned the job over Lugo in my mind. He is batting .275, which is much better then Lugo has done over the past couple of years with the Sox. Lowrie will be the starting guy, but until he gets back, I believe Green should be playing the majority of the time at shortstop. Lugo will make a nice pinch runner coming off the bench.