Monday, May 07, 2007

Dirty Water: Sox Talk With the Thunderstick

Here is this week's edition of Dirty Water. The big news is certainly the return of Roger Clemens to New York, but before that, the Sox played a few games.


Thunderstick: Alright--another week into the season and the big news this week doesn't focus on the Sox, but on Clemens’ return to the Yanks which I guess we should address, but first, a quick nod to the Sox this week as they had two against Oakland, 1 with Seattle and then 3 in Minnesota and went 4-2 on this stretch. As we've always said, you take 2 of 3 from the lousy teams, split with the good teams and you'll win 92-95 games and be in position to get to the playoffs. The Sox are 20-10, so they are taking 2 of 3 from everyone right now, so I don't think there's a lot be upset with. DiceK has had some control problems and Drew is slumping and that's about all I see. Even Tavarez is keeping us in games against Cy Young winners. We catch a break this week as we have three more with Toronto, but won't see Halladay or a third time and won't see Burnett as well, so we should be able to take 2 of 3 here. However tomorrow does start a stretch of 16 straight days with games and while the middle 10 are at home, there is also a 10 game stretch against Detroit, Atlanta and the Yanks. May is the second toughest month for the Sox and this is the toughest stretch of May and it's often 2 week periods like this where seasons can turn, so even though the Sox are 20-10 right now, I'm looking for them to get through this at 30-16 by the time it is done and to somehow go 10-6 over this stretch.


As for Clemens, well, he's still a tool. That said, look, I can't say the Yanks made a bad move here. If the Sox wanted to pony up the cash for him and he wanted to come back, I'd be all for that too. I do think he'll help the Yanks out and help them out a lot. But I think anyone who thinks that Clemens is going to anchor that rotation as a #1 guy is fooling themselves. People forget that when he left the Yanks, he just wasn't that frightening anymore. Now, he's gone to the NL for three years and put up great numbers against the NL and especially the NL Central but does anyone think he's putting up a 2.50 ERA in the AL? I'd be willing to bet good money that Clemens's ERA is over 4.50 at the end of the year. Is it an upgrade of Igawa or Karstens or Wright or whoever is pitching in the 4 or 5 hole for the Yanks? Absolutely, just as I'd have been happy to slot him in at 4 or 5 ahead of either or both of Taverez and Wakefield with the Sox (although Waker is mounting his own early Cy Young campaign right now). But at the same time, the #1 guy needs to be able to stop slides and I don't know if I feel 100% in a Clemens that is going to turn, what, 45 this year, doing that. So he's an upgrade but in no way am I afraid of him as a Sox fan. Let's put it this way--in 2003, when the Sox were 5 outs and a Grady Little blunder away from beating the Yanks and going to the world series, the four man rotation NY brought out for that playoff series was Pettite, Mussina, Clemens and Wells. They got by the Sox and Pedro, Lowe and Wakefield and then got dismantled by Beckett in the Series and then when it was over, all we heard about was how the Yanks rotation had gotten too old and they needed to get younger and that as good as these guys had been, they just weren't that formidable anymore. If the Yanks make the playoffs this year, their rotation will likely be Mussina, Pettite, Clemens and Wang, with three of those guys now 4 years older than when the Yanks had decided they were too old and not that formidable anymore.


One other note about Clemens: I thought Red Sox fans were great to him in 2003. After all the booing and hard feelings towards him for going to the Yanks, when he pitched for the last time in the regular season, the Sox fans gave him a rousing ovation when he was done as if to say "look, we get it, we understand what you did, we didn't like it but now that it's over we appreciate your career and what you did in Boston." It was really a great moment. But now that he's come back four years later, I hope he doesn't expect the same kind of send off at the end of the year whenever the last start in Fenway might be. He had his going away party and he better not whine about how much he loved his time in Boston and all that when he gets booed from the first time he steps on the rubber in Fenway until his final walkoff the field this year whenever it may be. Now he's just a Yankee who we want to see fail (although we want to see him fail more than other Yankees).


dcat: There is a fine line between sour grapes and rational thought. Would it have been nice to have added Clemens to our rotation? Sure. But right now, over which of our guys can we be guaranteed that he would be an upgrade? Given a regular slot and a predictable schedule Tavarez has been better than we ever could have imagined. Wakefield has been consistently great. Schilling has been Schilling. Dice-K has struggled a bit with his control and with that one bad inning every outing but no serious person would trade him for Clemens even for this season. Beckett has to be the early frontrunner to start the All Star Game.


Meanwhile, in the season when Roger turns 45, returns to the American League East (where everybody can actually hit a baseball), is trying to pull it all off in another unorthodox fashion with all of the attention and pressure that will be on him, and with all of that within the context of the fact that the Yankees are seriously struggling? Well, color me sleptical that the success of the Red Sox 2007 season is going to hitch on that right arm of his. I'm going to assert that the Red Sox will be able to wait for things to shake out and if they need anything as the trade deadline approaches in July they will be well positioned to do so.


The Sox had a good week. As you say, they went 4-2 and won the series they should have won. I'm a bit perplexed by their early week performances this season, to be honest -- I jsut went through the schedule, and so far they are 2-5 on Mondays and Tuesdays and, oddly, 2-3 on Saturdays, and are 16-2 the other days of the week, a trend that I assume means nothing, but that still is perplexing. It's as if they expend so much energy to win these series, and given their saturday performances they have to win on Sunday to take any given series, that there is a letdown either after an off day or on Mondays. Again, there is probably nothing to this, but I also know that neither of us would be surprised to see them come out flat against Toronto tomorrow.


In all, it's good to be a Red Sox fan right now. The Yankees have begun to rebound a bit, and I fully expect the dynamic in the east to begin to take its form by the end of the month, and I expect that the Yankees will be in that mix. But I'll tell you, not only am I not afraid of Clemens, I cannot wait for the first time we face him in a game of any consequence, which, of course, describes every Sox-Yanks clash as long as both teams are in the hunt.

10 comments:

Thunderstick said...

I think any sane fan would have to say that as well as Tavarez has pitched, you gotta feel like you are living on borrowed time with him (although I hated the word today that if Lester comes back, Tavarez might be trade bait for Todd Helton--I hate giving up pitching). I think it'd be smart to have slotted him there. But I look at Clemens, at least from the Sox perspective, as a luxury, not a necessity. I think we've got a team built plenty well enough. Now that of course assumes that injuries don't bite us which given Schill and Wake's age and Beckett's history might not be a good assumption, but I think once Lester gets back, assuming we don't trade Tavarez, we have enough in reserve to weather a 4-6 game IR stint by one of our pitchers with Tavarez, Snyder, Gabbard or that other minor leaguer whose name is escaping me.

Clemens was much more important to the Yanks, but as you say, not only do I not fear him, but I look forward to facing him. Someone noted on one of the websites today that even starting in June like he did last year, Clemens still averaged less than 6 innings per outing (I'm going to assume that's true). Now he has to face deep lineups that feature a DH. I think it's much more likely for a guy like Pettite with an array of pitches to be successful into the transition to the AL East than a guy like Clemens--ask Schill how well it worked throwing fastballs and splitters the past two years when you hit 40 and lose a couple mph. Schill has been successful this year because he's learned more curve and offspeed stuff. Like I said before--I'd be surprised to see Clemens have an ERA under 4.50. That ERA will still win a lot of games with the Yanks scoring runs like they do, but if I see Clemens taking the mound against the Sox in an October playoff game, I'm going to like our chances.

Rich said...

Smells a bit jittery in here.

dcat said...

Rich's comments reflect perfectly the Yankee fan's inability to face reality. We just spilled a ton of wordws on the page to explain why the last thing we are about this acquisition is jittery. Yet despiote all of these arguments, we are supposed to believe that we actually are jittery about a guy we suspect will have an ERA over 4? I think I know from whence the jitteriness, indeed the desperation, derives, and it ain't Red Sox Nation. But maybe a 45-year-old who has not regularly faced the American League East in three years really will prove to be the savior. My, how the mighty have fallen.

dcat

Rich said...

ERA over/under 4. Smells like some new UTPB gear to me come early October.

You try to hide your jitters with your words.

Thunderstick said...

I'd be much more jittery about the Yanks if they had a closer

greg said...

Clemens egotistical display makes me want to puke. As great as he is, he represents everything that disgusts me as a sports fan, coach, and former athlete. I look forward to the day he finally goes away.

dcat said...

Greg --
I tend to agree fairly wholeheartedly. The hype just means the fall will be all that sweeter to watch. I know he has dominated in the NL the last couple of years, but i just do not see him being that awesome in this context.

dcat

dcat said...

Here is a telling comment from a serious Yankee fan friend:

"Here's the best argument for the Yankees spending $26 million on Clemens: He was probably going to the Red Sox if they didn't. So if you're the Yankees, you haven't just made a two-win, maybe three-win, improvement; you've prevented the Red Sox from doing about the same."

That seems to hit it on the head, even if the amount of money and number of concessions granted reek of panic move.

dcat

Rich said...

You guys should consider Bikram yoga to help ease your nerves.

I'm going to have a lengthy post about the Pinstriped Rocket in the living room soon, but I, too, share Greg's sentiments. Roger has lost a little bit of his luster to me with his whole riding in on a white horse to save the day at the last minute approach he has taken to the last 3 seasons. You're either on the team or you aren't. If you want to watch your kids play ball, then do that. I'd kind of be pissed if I was one of the guys reporting to camp on time, busting my hump to get better for the team, and then have Clemens show up because he's "ready."

His lap around Yankee Stadium on the back of some cop's horse mid-October will be spectacular, however.

dcat said...

Rich --
The only horse's asses that will be parading around yankee Stadium in October either already are in the Yankee clubhouse or else are named "Roger Clemens."

I think it is Roger's merecenary status as much as his being a Yankee that will make it a joy to pummel him. It would have been the same for Yankee fans had he ended up with the Sox. I'm just glad I won't have to deal with the joylessness of rooting for him.

dcat