Date: Wednesday, August 8, 2001
From: Kevin Hench
Subject: Grim Realizations
And then it happened.
After months and months of gritty comebacks, nightly heroes, curtain calls and divine resurrections, we played a team with whom we will be locked in combat until one of us is dead, like a germ and a white blood cell.
It was not a good night.
Things started poorly when Nomar - according to NESN - asked for the night
off. This can't be good. There is either debilitating pain in the wrist or
not. If it's the wrist, well, that's bad news. But if I hear one more
reference to "endurance" or getting into "game shape" for baseball, I'll
simply snap. After tonight's loss, there are 50 games left. The next 45 are
must-win. After those, we'll re-evaluate. One of the few things keeping me
going as we lost six straight games against lefty starters was the return of
a guy who hit over .380 against lefties last year. Not sure he can sit
against Mark Mulder, one night after going 3-for-4 with a dinger.
While we're on the subject of lefty starters... what the hell is going on at first base for the Boston Red Sox against lefties? We have had 112 games to address the problem, but we haven't tried anything other than Brian Daubach (.195 against lefties) and Jose Offerman (.218). I heard that Shea Hillenbrand was taking some infield at first during the homestand... I heard that Izzy Alcantara was playing 10 games at first last month... I heard that Juan Diaz is a pretty smooth fielder for a big guy... and we have done nothing. We haven't made any attempt to rectify a huge problem, a gaping hole in our lineup. Tino Martinez has 86 RBIs. Jason Giambi is the reigning MVP. Jim Thome has 38 home runs. Gee, do you think we're giving up a little at first base to the teams we are battling? I love Dauby. Nine years in the minors.... many, many big hits in the last two and a half years... vastly improved defensively... but he just isn't an everyday first baseman. Play him against righties and find someone else to face Mark Mulder, et al.
Dear Shea Hillenbrand, noted defensive replacement: When it's the bottom of the seventh and you trail 3-2 and the other team's best bunter is up with a runner on first and no one out, DON'T BE SURPRISED IF THE GUY LAYS ONE DOWN! How did that happen? How did Johnny Damon lay down a bunt in an obvious sacrifice situation and Shea respond as if Greg Luzinski himself had just dropped one down the third base line in a 10-run laugher? Embarrassing.
Right now Carl Everett is of no value to any team in Major League baseball. He has as many home runs as Marvin Benard. He won't take a walk, won't stay back on the change, won't get a good jump on anything hit in front of him. Never seen a guy lose it so quick.
As for Kerwin Danley, the home plate ump, he was as bad as it gets. All night. Both ways. Total guesswork. Danley and Jeff Tam should travel the carny circuit together. Tam will throw pitches low and four inches off the plate and Danley will call them strikes and no one will ever get a stuffed animal. Even if he had swung, which wouldn't have been a bad idea based on Danley's strike zone all night, Manny couldn't have done anything with that pitch or the other wide strike in that at-bat. Danley is just of many umpires who appears so cosmically freaked out by the commissioner's directives (Call the high strike! Call the wide strike!) that he no longer
even remembers his own strike zone.
I forget... what was so wrong with the game two years ago that they had to change the way the game is called overnight?
Scott Hatteberg should start breaking in a first baseman's glove. He's a good hitter, but quite simply the worst defensive catcher I've ever seen. Who drops pitchouts? He had two shots at Damon tonight. On the first, Damon got a bad break to second but Hatteberg couldn't maneuver a called-strike changeup out of his glove. On the second, Jimy correctly called a pitchout, but Hatteberg, in his haste to actually throw out a runner, neglected to catch the ball. He's either dropped the pitch, fumbled the transfer or double-clutched on about half the last 20 steals off of him. At least the drops keep him from embarrassing himself with his rainbows. Wish there were another place for his bat... he is one of my favorites.
Requiem for Sabes
When you have eight pitches to put Frank Menechino away and can't pull it off... you're pretty much done. Sorry, Sabes, but you are just way too hittable. Maybe you throw too many strikes. The pitch Chavez ripped for his first double was a 1-2 delivery that might as well have been a 3-1 pitch it was so fat. And the curve that Ramon Hernandez ripped into left center... oy... what a hanger.
When Dante Bichette took an 0-2 fastball right down the middle for strike three, my Jack Clark alarm system went off. One of these skids will be his last, you know. He is most likely a pure guess hitter at this stage of his
career and a guess hitter who only hits mistakes.
A's Mo' Better
The A's are just better than the Red Sox. And that sucks. If Carl Everett hadn't become a below-average joke in center, we'd have a shot. But as it is, it's hard to imagine these Red Sox staying close as the A's mow their way through the soft underbelly from Aug. 24-Sept. 12. They play 18 straight against the four worst teams in the AL.
Sorry there isn't more good news, but tonight was rough.