Tuesday, April 12, 2005

First Week Thoughts

I have curbed my enthusiasm about the Sox's 2-1 series victory against the Twins. After all, they got off to a great start against the Twinkies last year, winning 7 of the 10 games against them before the All Star Break. And coming out with a 1-game lead and a 4-2 record is nice, but does not call for any great celebration.

In fact, there are a number of things that have caused me concerns in the first week. But chief among those is the fact that the Sox have taken only 10 walks in the first 7 games - a microscopic walk rate. Only the Twins have that few walks, and they've played one fewer game. 1.4 walks per game is not going to cut it, fellas.

Now, there are some reasons for this low walk rate. They have faced Johan Santana and Brad Radke thus far, who have some of the lowest walk rates in the American League. Kevin Millwood has had pretty good control in his career, too. But none of them have had 1.4 walk per game rates.

Any part of a getting-on-base strategy must involve walks. And the Sox's offseason involved getting rid of two players - Carlos Lee and Magglio Ordonez - who had decent if not spectacular walk rates. Scott Podsednik has a decent walk rate, but his batting average needs to be .290+ to match Carlos Lee's OBP. Jermaine Dye will not replace Magglio's walk rate either.

The bullpen has looked a little shaky, too, although the vast majority of the bullpen problems came in the 11-5 loss to the Jndjans in the last game of that series. In fact, in the other 6 games the Sox have played, they have allowed only 15 runs...an average of 2.5 runs per game. The starting pitching has been nothing short of spectacular thus far - save for a Torii Hunter home run on Sunday night. And, if that weren't enough, Brandon McCarthy gave up only 2 hits and 1 run while striking out 10 and walking 1 in his Charlotte debut on Saturday. The best case scenario for this season is the rotation to get very hot, with Jose Contreras looking good through June, and trading Contreras for a young, patient left-fielder with power...

In other good news, the Twinkies are only 3-3 despite the fact that they have had 4 starts from Brad Radke and Johan Santana already. Given that those two pitchers will only be 40% of their rotation and not 66% percent..that's not exactly a great start under those conditions. And, the Twins only have 10 walks themselves.

Everyone in the AL Central seems to be off to a poor offensive start - except for the Tigers, who are only 3-3 themselves. So much for the great offense the Jndjans have, although Millwood appears to be a pretty good pick up for them.

I wish there were more encouraging things to say about 5-2 record. But a 5-2 record is a good enough start that I can take a wee bit of pleasure from.

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