Links 5-25-2010: It’s all coming together, roster moves, pressure to win, more on the AL East

Kevin Youkilis is scorching the ball (.388/.563/.821 in May), as I saw signs of it back in late April. The man is just in the zone, and not even Roy Halladay can stop him. Hope you’ve also noticed that Victor Martinez is also getting hot at the plate (.423/.444/.923 in 26 AB since May 17), just as David Ortiz morphs back into a pretty good imitation of Big Papi. This is the nature of baseball; players go through long, frustrating streaks as well as long, torrid ones. Let’s hope they stay hot for a long time. The rest of the year wouldn’t be bad.

BTW, Martinez appears to be okay after taking a foul tip off his left foot last night. X-rays were negative, so the Sox are not making a roster move.

Speaking of hot, the Boston rotation is finally putting it together, and surprisingly, the laggards are Josh Beckett and John Lackey, who were among the pitchers expected to anchor this staff. How about that Clay Buchholz? And with Jason Varitek catching him, Daisuke Matsuzaka put together a near no-hitter (that would have been number 5 for Tek, all with different pitchers). Varitek was quick to put down any suggestion that he should play over Martinez, and Terry Francona continues to insist that Dice-K will not always be caught by Varitek- but I think that’s meant to defend Victor’s reputation as a catcher more than anything else. Why break up what works? Not to be outdone, Tim Wakefield turned in a gem of a start in his go against the Phillies as well. He also knows when to call it quits; that’s why he’s still around at 43 years old. Bless that pitching depth.

Credit to the defense, not only for Dice-K’s game, but overall in May. The Red Sox are finally looking better in the field, now that the real Adrian Beltre is coming out, Jacoby Ellsbury has returned, and Mike Cameron is to be activated today. Word is that Cameron will play part-time in left until he’s sure he can go at full speed; abdominal tears can take a long time to fully heal. Darnell McDonald was designated and placed on waivers to make room- thanks Darnell, for stepping in when we needed you.

Infielder Angel Sanchez was sent back to Pawtucket, with reliever Scott Atchison being recalled. He’s thrilled to be back, and considering the two option years Epstein signed him to, he could be be sticking around for a while, as long as he’s effective. It’s the minor league option that will keep him yo-yoing back to Rhode Island this year, though.

Jed Lowrie stopped by the game yesterday, and answered some questions. He’s relegated to getting tuned up and stronger before he can even think about getting some time on this roster.

The heavy pressure to win in Boston doesn’t only come from the fans. It has been mentioned that tension exists between Theo Epstein and the ownership of the Red Sox; Theo would rather blow it all up and start over, while management insists on staying competitive while they build. David Pinto has a look at why the brass is so against “rebuilding”. That economic pressure is probably what led to this “bridge” year.

Another graph showing why the AL East is the most competitive division in baseball. Superstars may not always be the reason a team is playing well, but it sure shows that a team is trying hard to stockpile talent.

While their pitching and defense is excellent, Dave Cameron thinks that the Rays’ offense is clearly overperforming. And that rotation may be playing over their heads as well, if this is any indication (hint: compare those ERAs with those xFIP numbers). They may be basking in first place now, but there’s a pretty good chance that it will all come crashing down (not all the way, of course, they’re still a good team!). The question is if it will happen early enough for us to catch them.

Have you ever wondered how many of the tickets to each game are taken up by the players? Anthony Rieber has a look at how the system works, and surprise! The tickets for players are not gratis.


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