Tag:J.D. Drew
Posted on: October 14, 2008 5:26 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2008 5:34 pm
 

Are the Red Sox still great? Maybe we'll find out

BOSTON -- Interesting to see how Manny Ramirez reacted when people suggested that Boston's two ALCS comebacks (in 2004 and 2007) should give hope to the Dodgers, who are now down three games to one to the Phillies.

"That's in Boston," Ramirez told reporters at Dodger Stadium. "That was a great team."

The Red Sox famously rallied from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in '04, and came back from 3-1 down against the Indians last year. But as Manny said, those were great teams.

Now the Sox down two games to one to the Rays, with the chance that they could fall behind 3-1 tonight.

Of course they could come back from that. But is this still a great team?

One thing's for sure. It's not the same team. There are only four players left from the '04 team (Tim Wakefield, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek and Mike Timlin). There are 17 players back from last year.

But Manny is gone, of course. Mike Lowell is missing due to injury, and the Red Sox said today that Lowell will have surgery on his hip next week. Josh Beckett seems to be hurting (although the Red Sox continue to deny it), and Ortiz may be hurting, too.

Are they great? Maybe we'll find out.

*****

With Jacoby Ellsbury hitless in his last 20 at-bats, Red Sox manager Terry Francona went to Coco Crisp in center field tonight, and went to J.D. Drew as his leadoff hitter.

Drew has led off 59 times in his career, including 17 times for the Red Sox in 2007 and eight times this year.

"Last year we hit him leadoff to get him going," Francona said. "This year, it was more out of necessity."

The reason today, Francona said, is that Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine holds runners on so well that it's almost pointless to have a base-stealing threat in the leadoff spot. There were only four steals attempted while Sonnanstine was on the mound this year, and just one was successful.

 

Posted on: October 11, 2008 4:51 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2008 5:20 pm
 

The 3-0 green light: It's not that bad an idea

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- In their 2-0 loss to the Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALCS, the Rays made two outs while swinging at 3-0 pitches. One of them was among the biggest outs of the game, a Carlos Pena fly ball with two on and nobody out in the eighth.

So did manager Joe Maddon err by green-lighting Pena and, before that, Evan Longoria (who flied out to end the sixth)?

Fans tend to say yes. Fans tend to complain when hitters swing at 3-0 pitches, just as they tend to complain when hitters swing at the first pitch.

But the stats say most middle-of-the-order hitters become unbelievable hitters when they put the first pitch in play. Pena is 3-for-6 in his regular-season career on 3-0, with two home runs and a double (including a grand slam off Dan Haren this year). David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau, among others, all hit .500 or better when they put a 3-0 pitch in play (all stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com).

OK, but wouldn't they have just as good a chance at 3-1 or 3-2?

Not necessarily. When Pena doesn't put the 3-0 pitch in play, he becomes a .190 hitter.

"It's something we've done all year," Maddon said today. "With Pena, taking everything into consideration, I felt pretty good about it actually. If he doesn't top-spin that ball, it might have hit the back wall."

Pena said Friday night that Maddon spoke to him after the eighth-inning at-bat, telling him he had taken exactly the right approach.

By the way, the stats also show that some hitters won't swing 3-0 even when given a green light. Neither J.D. Drew nor Kevin Youkilis has ever put a 3-0 pitch in play, and Wade Boggs did it just seven times in his entire career -- going 2-for-7.

*****

While Maddon didn't second-guess his decision to let Pena swing 3-0, he also didn't dispute Ortiz's contention that the Rays had a different look in their faces Friday from what he saw in the regular season.

"I agree, and I did see it," Maddon said. "That's why I thought it primarily manifested itself in the pitches we swung at. However, (the Red Sox) had kind of the same look themselves."

 
 
 
 
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