By Any Acronym, These Guys Stink
4.9.03 TORONTO - Severe Acute Relief Shortcomings. Sorry Ass Relief Stiffs. Specialty: Allowing Runs Scored. Suffering Another Routine Shelling.
Make up your own inappropriate meaning for SARS. It's about the only fun to be had with this sorry bunch. Here in the North American capital of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, it's perfectly fitting that we all have trouble breathing when Grady Little signals the pen to Summon Awful Retreaded Spares.
How bad is it? After last night's loss in which he gave up his second two-run homer of the young season, Alan Embree said, "I can live with the solo shots." Really? Well, there's the closer's mentality we're looking for. That's what you want a guy thinking as he strides in to slam the door: I gotta limit them to solo homers!
For Red Sox fans, the entrance of Messrs. Embree, Howry, Timlin, Mendoza or Fox triggers Sudden Acid Reflux Sickness.
The scariest part is that none of these guys has actually been asked to work out of a difficult spot. Embree melted down Opening Day in the cushiest of all possible save situations, three-run lead, bases empty, D-Rays batting. Howry couldn't solve Rey Ordonez. Mendoza barely held a five-run lead against the light-hitting O's. Fox followed his own Opening Day collapse with another remarkable feat: walking Tony Batista to force in the winning run. At season's end, the collective OBP of the guys slapping our Sorry Anti Relief System around will be about .300. If you can't get Rey Ordonez out, what's going to happen against Magglio Ordonez?
While another poor outing by the bloodblistered D-Lowe is reason for concern, the blistering of our beaten and bloodied bullpen is the bigger problem. I love Bill James, his abstract is the King James Bible of baseball. I like Theo Epstein, he's bright, informed and desperately wants to win. I even liked most of these pitching acquisitions, pre-Theo and after. But Bobby Howry does not look like the pitcher he was in Chicago. Chad Fox has clearly not returned to his pre-injury self (and we don't want him building his arm back up on our time via losses to weak teams). Alan Embree looks less like that dominant power pitcher that was untouchable for a stretch late last summer and more like the journeyman that six teams have given up on. Ramiro Mendoza looks every bit like the pitcher who has surrendered over a hit an inning in six of his seven years in the bigs and was touched for a .275 OBA last year. He came up with a 1 6 4 4 0 0 line against the Orioles, and you thought that other Mendoza line was ugly. And Mike Timlin is in his "decline phase" to use a Bill James term.
So, kudos to the Kid for being inventive, but while thinking outside the box is great, thinking outside the boxscore is now unacceptable. And it's time to start remedying the problem. Prediction: If the Red Sox obtain a closer, even a shaky one like Armando Benitez, the rest of these guys will pitch better.
If they do nothing, just consider it Sacrificing Another Regular Season.