Nine innings: 05.12.07
Playing a quick weekend edition of nine innings while waiting for Tito to take away Curt Schilling's internet privileges . . .
1. Josh Beckett is the most dominating pitcher in the American League. Tim Wakefield is on one of his unhittable hot streaks. Dice-K is showing the aptitude to make the adjustments required for him to live up to his reputation. And the bullpen has been the season's most pleasant surprise. I don't know how much of this is directly attributed to the work of new pitching coach John Farrell, but I will say this: His staff is making him look extremely competent right now.
2. The more I see of Dustin Pedroia, the more I think the comparison to Jody Reed is spot-on. Pedroia, like the former Sox second baseman (1987-'92), is a small, slow-footed converted shortstop who nonetheless has more pop than you'd expect. Reed made a habit of scraping fly balls off the Monster, averaging 43 doubles from 1988-90, and Pedroia, whose unorthodox swing-from-the-heels approach generates a ton of fly balls, looks like he might have the same knack.
3. Enough will the foolish suggestion that he could handle center field for any length of time should Coco Crisp suffer another injury. Wily Mo Pena is absolutely the worst outfielder I have ever seen at catching - make that attempting to catch - fly balls. And if he's charging a ball that's still in the air, forget it - just hope stays in front of him after clanging off his glove, or chest, or forehead. Mark my words: He's going to Canseco one off his coconut and into the stands before his time in Boston is done.
4. All right, I'll cut to the chase: If Roger Clemens fulfills the media's daydream-du-jour and makes his first '07 start at Fenway Park in the Sox/Yanks series June 1-3, I'll order one of his wife's unbelievably tacky sequined Yankees jean jackets - yes, you read that right, and A-Rod undoubtedly owns a closet full of them - and wear the "bedazzled" disaster to work every day until the AL East is clinched. My point: Why does everyone forget that a season debut against the Sox is just the kind of high-pressure event that Roger historically dodges?
5. Nick Markakis, the Orioles' second-year outfielder, put on a show against the Sox tonight, rapping four hits while robbing Jason Varitek of what looked like a possible home run. It won't be last time the Sox get beat by this kid - it's damning with faint praise considering the Orioles' player development failings, but Markakis is already the best young position player they've come up with since Cal Ripken Jr. 26 years ago.
6. Roy Halladay, out four-to-six weeks with appendicitis? Might as well start the firesale now, J.P. Ricciardi, because baseball season in Toronto is officially O-V-E-R.
7. Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 569th career home run tonight. Considering that the perception around baseball is that Junior's achievements are on the level - unlike some of his oversized contemporaries, he hasn't mysteriously improved in his mid-30s - I say that's a greater accomplishment than anything soon to be on Big Head Barry's resume.
8. Quick programming note: TATB, in its ongoing quest for world domination, is now linked up with Boston.com, a development we're pretty excited about for obvious reasons. (You can find us on the Red Sox page. Just scroll down a little, and there we are under Nation On The Net.) The only likely change around here is a positive one: I'll be more diligent about writing regularly, given the obligation and opportunity that comes with the new association. Also, we'll have better snacks in the break room. Anyway, for those of you have been coming here since I had something like 30 readers a month, thanks for spreading the word, sticking it out while we found our voice, and making good things happen for the site. Your contributions to this are greatly appreciated.
9. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
Because you can never go wrong with Dewey.