6-25-2010: Sox weather rocky series,

After coming into Colorado on a torrid streak of dominating Inter-League opponents, the Red Sox dropped two of three to the Troy Tulowitski-less Rockies this week. Tampa Bay continues to fizzle, but we need the Yankees to stay slow if we want to catch up.

Game 1: Jon Lester was good again, but the Sox just couldn’t get anything going versus Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin is a young talent, and he did a good job keeping the ball low and away from right-handed hitters, especially. We wasted a couple of bases loaded opportunities in this one… Dustin Pedroia made a nice play on that ball that took a bad hop on Kevin Youkilis, but that’s no rarity. He also backed up that bad throw in the 2nd on the swinging bunt nicely. I see him in the right position all the time, just the way you’re supposed to play… I don’t know why the injured Mike Cameron was trying to steal 2nd in the top of the 3rd; that must have been a botched hit and run or something, right? Normally I don’t complain about a strikeout for one of our pitchers, but that punchout in the 8th was clearly on a ball way outside. Hideki Okajima got lucky.

Game 2: Closer Jonathan Papelbon had a meltdown of historic proportions (again), blowing a 3-run lead on two HRs by Ryan Spilborghs and Jason Giambi in the bottom of the 9th. It was only his 2nd blown save of the year, but the problem was the way in which it happened. Papelbon blamed it on a “flat” flastball- hey, that’s exactly what he said after he blew his first save against the Yankees, another late-inning two-HR debacle of an outing… John Lackey continues his string of lackluster starts; if something’s not wrong physically, does he maybe have fat cat syndrome? Daniel Nava collected 3 hits and 3 RBI against Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez on a night where we needed someone to kickstart the offense. He’s quickly convincing me that he could stick as a 4th outfielder for us.

Game 3: What kind of player is Pedroia? He’s the kind who cares deeply about winning and can seemingly will his team to win at times. His 5-5, 3-HR, 5 RBI performance was the best hitting performance of his career, and it saved Papelbon’s tail, who blew his second straight save in as many nights. And don’t think this puts Pedey in the power hitter category, because he just doesn’t hit them like those guysBoth bullpens were horrible last night, reemphasizing our need for help out there… I keep thinking that Adrian Beltre has to come back to earth soon, but every time I say that, he goes out and gets two or three hits. Credit Theo Epstein for signing a capable player who is motivated to get a big contract next year, and the benefit we are reaping from him this season. Beltre’s numbers and overall quality of defense (despite the high number of errors) make him a legitimate All-Star candidate in my book… Josh Reddick needs to relax out there. He’s all tense about proving he can hit, and that’s making him, well, not hit.

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Hot Stove 2010: Sign Matt Holliday

You’re going about this all wrong. Would it be nice to get an elite slugger or a young ace this offseason? Of course! But at what price? Despite how it looked at times, the lineup is strong, and finished 3rd in runs scored, despite playing Nick Green and Jason Varitek as much as we did. And the rotation already has four strong pitchers if Daisuke Matsuzaka can come back. Trading Clay Buchholz now is the wrong move; he will give you 80-90% of what Hernandez will over the next four years at a bargain price. The Red Sox have talent and should continue to build from within. We certainly need to address that left field vacancy, as well as the lack of pop in the lineup; signing Matt Holliday should be enough on both counts, and we can fill in as needed around these guys. Here’s how to approach the off-season with measured restraint:

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Hot Stove 2010: Trading for Felix Hernandez

Look, you’re being too short-sighted here. Getting a big bat would be great, but this is a contract year for Josh Beckett and we don’t know what we’ll have in Daisuke Matsuzaka. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are great, but two guys does not a rotation make. What are we gonna do if Beckett flies the coop for a deal near $20M/year? What we really should be doing is trading to ensure our future. Solidify the rotation, then you you can go and build the rest of the squad. And there’s no better building block out there than 24-year old Felix Hernandez. Here’s fantasy off-season option B:

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Hot Stove 2010: Trading for Adrian Gonzalez

It seems that an Adrian Gonzalez trade is drumming up the most excitement in Red Sox Nation so far, so let’s formulate an off-season plan revolving around acquiring him from Jed Hoyer’s Padres. Hoyer has noted that a contract extension with Gonzalez is “definitely on the docket”, and he would like to keep him playing for his native San Diego; however with A-Gonz in line for a major free agent deal after 2011, it makes you wonder if the Padres and their $40M payroll will be able to hang on to him much longer (former Padres GM Kevin Towers agrees). Okay, so here’s fantasy off-season plan A (for Adrian):

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24-17: Sox drop three in Minnesota

The Red Sox offense continues to lead the American League in team hitting by a huge margin (.294/.365/.454, compared to second-place Texas at .268/.346/.432), but has struggled to score a lot more runs as a result of stranding runners on base. They stranded 79 baserunners over four games, compared to the Twins’ 47. This is a regular thing with the Sox. While this is frustrating to no end, Boston did score 22 runs in the series, so you can’t really blame the offense. They were all pretty close games, and we could have easily split or taken the series.

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