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Remember how this team was rebuilt so that it would avoid prolonged offensive slumps? Remember how this team was built so that it wouldn't have to rely on the long-ball as it's only means by which to score? Remember that? Good, now forget it, because it was all a bunch of snake oil.

The Sox have not scored a run that didn't come via the HR since the 8th inning on Sunday. You'll remember that inning as the one where we stranded the bases loaded with a chance to take the lead late. It was the same story an inning later when they couldn't produce with the bases loaded yet again in the ninth. It was the same story in the 8th and 9th on Saturday, as the Sox lost in brutal 2-1 fashion.

This team is playing like 9 individuals offensively right now. I've seen more of a willingness to take the ball to right field, but it's still inconsistent. The right field hits are rarely strung back to back, and have yet to result in any offense. Sure Konerko and Dye hit opposite field HR's today, but both were significantly wind aided. They would have been outs on most days.

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Damaso Marte did not look good on his return. With it being a blowout again, I would have just rested him. If you can steal rest for a guy who obviously needs it, why not do it? The Sox chose to see what he had, and while not terrible, he was not good either. He didn't have any pop on his fastball, which was topping out at 91 on the Comcast gun, and he didn't appear to want to throw it at all. He was concentrating much more on throwing his slider. I can only assume this was because the fastball is the pitch that hurts his bicep more. I still say expect a trip to the DL. The only problem is now we can't do it retro-actively to 5 days ago, so we'll lose him for a solid two weeks if that's the route we choose to take.

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Neal Cotts is making us forget about Damaso's troubles. He currently has a WHIP of 1.00, and opponents are batting just .157 against him. In the off-season over at the old blog, I wrote what I expected from Jon Adkins and Cotts this season.

I think that Adkins showed late in the season that his early success may have been a fluke, and Cotts disappointed late in September. I only expect one of them to be a contributing member to the Sox this season. I can't say which, it's just a feeling I have. Adkins is an anomaly; he seemed to get hit harder when he had more movement on his pitches. And Cotts has a that straight sneaky fastball, which if a player cheats on, it ends up in the seats. Now that 2004 is over, I think my biggest regret from the season was that Cotts didn't get more time to develop at AAA. He would have benefited greatly from 100+ innings at Charlotte, learning how to pitch in a bandbox and refine the pitch that he needs to master in order to be successful at the major league level, the change-up.

I was right that only one of the two would be a contributing member to the bullpen, and in truth, when I said contributing, I was thinking sub-3.00 ERA. The pleasant surprise is that it was not the change up which has keyed Cotts' rise; it's the slider and a new-found ability to locate the strike zone. Judging by our recent pitchers' performances on the AAA level, I'm sure that Don Cooper is a better pitching coach than whoever is down there. I don't think we would have seen the growth in Neal that we have had he been toiling away in Charlotte. In other words, I was wrong.

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From the same post, you can see that I was also wrong about the Dustin Hermanson signing. He's been great this year, even if he has been rather mortal lately. His ERA is still going to head north this season, but it was a solid signing by Kenny Williams to locate a guy who really thrives in the ninth inning role.

Hermanson's numbers from the pen this year, are very similar to what they were last year.

IP H R ER HR BB K BAA 2004 27.0 22 14 13 2 11 28 .224 2005 27.1 24 8 5 1 10 17 .240
The amazing thing is, despite giving up more hits and striking out fewer, Hermanson's ERA is well below what it was in the Giants pen. A lot of that has to do with luck. He can not sustain those peripherals and expect to post a sub-2.00 ERA. Ozzie may need to use his bullpen magic to find the right spot to get Cliff Politte some save opportunities.