Apparently “clutch hitting” does not exist…. hmmmmm…. Well it didn’t exist for the Sox last season anyway.To elaborate on my criticism of Jim Thome….
His average and productivity against lefties was absolutely miserable. .196 average, and 23 rbis. This is pretty much unacceptable for an elite talent in the middle of your order. His strike out to walk ration against lefties in also miserable at about 2 Ks fr every walk. His status seems to give him a pass on this lack in his game and Ozzie needs to stop throwing him out there against lefties. Whether or not clutch exists… well… striking out over 100 times a year leads to a lot of strikeouts with runners on 3rd with less than two outs, and runnerr on second and no outs excetera. Though it sounds crazy maybe Pablo Ozuna could DH against lefties and add speed to the lineup, or the Sox could go out and get right handed bat.
To defene my comments on Fields, I wouldn’t necessarily see it as a sophomore slump (I used a careless buzzword I know) I simply mean that his numbers need to be taken in perspective as well as considering his strikeouts, those scare me, when you bat him and Thome back to back you are going to have about 250+ strikouts coming out of your 2-3 hitters, not a recipe for success.
Lets move onto to something else, STARTING PITCHERS:
If the season began today the rotation shapes up as follows:
Ace- Mark Buerhle
Maybe Vasquez or Contreras have the potential to be more dominating but Buehrle’s consistency and toughness make him the defacto Ace, he is the guy you want going up against the big guys.
number 2- Javy Vasquez
He deserves this slot over Garland simply because he had the best season, probably of any indivdual player on the team last year. I think Sox fans need to be very excited about the contract he signed. I think he has real chance to elevate himself to the elite ranks of starting pitchers next year.
the 3- Jon Garland
A little inconsistent last year but still, as a number three he is excellent. Putting him behind Vasques also mixes things up. Separating him and Beurhle is good because it goes finesse, power, than more finesse.
4- Jose Contreres
The real wild card on the team. If he is kept he has the potential to return to form and be the power arm that he is. Remember as of the all-star break of 2006 he was argueably the most dominant pitcher in baseball
I suppose Danks will be the frontrunner out of spring training but his second half blowout and Floyd’s strong September make it a lt closer. To me Danks looks like he needs to work on his changeup and have a real third pitch. I know he’d probably not go to bullpen but rather to AAA, but I believe if Floyd wins the job that Danks could be stellar out of the pen. Floyd seems to have more polished stuff than Danks, but he doesn’t have the same attitude out there. Danks wasn’t fazed by his rookie season, which included an 0-4 start (in which he pitched better than that) and a real tough second half.
Buerhle, Vasquez, and Garland will all be good if not great next season. I really don’t see why trading Garland makes sense. First of all I don’t really trust Kenny to get a fair deal. His contract for next year is actaully pretty fair for a guy who is gonna give you 208 innings. I know that a 90 loss season neccesitates some changes but if you look at the starting pitchers last year it wasn’t their fault. They were solid throughout the entire first half and with any help from the bullpen the Sox could have been right there. The good thing about Contreres is that even if he can’t bounce back the Sox aren’t stuck with him. He is aging and its not like they NEED to keep running him out there if it looks lik he is having a repeat performance of last year. Remember back in 2005 coming into the year all you hoped for was that he’d be a solid bottom of the rotation pitcher. If he can at least do that the back end is looking okay to me. I am fairly confident in the Floyd/Danks/Gonzales?/Broadway? combination as the fifth starter. I am most excited about Floyd, he is a point in his career where this may be his last real good chance to prove that he can make good on his potential. I really think it makes more sense for the SO to trade a younger arm (Danks or Broadway) and one of their two “third basemen” ( I don’t think Fields has the glove to be a real three-bagger) to land a big name than giving up Garland.
And then there is the bullpen… thats will wait for another day…