Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Well, that was crap.

Is Daisuke Matsuzaka being hazed?
You could make the argument. Maybe he was too successful in his first start and his teammates decided to cut him down a notch. Let's see...

Against Seattle the Sox managed one hit versus the very talented - and morbidly obese - Felix Hernandez. Watching the game, one noted that King Felix was a very good pitcher, and one also noted that the Red Sox, as a team, were utterly incapable of doing anything with very hittable pitches, straight fastballs, on the inner half of the plate. This was easily explained away on Sportscenter by the pundits, who - using ESPN's cartoonishly juiced velocity gun (I mean, really people) - argued that his fastballs were consistently 99 MPH and his sliders consistently 93 and 94, and certainly unhittable. It should be noted that on various highlights the gun showed Hernandez's change-up to be clocked at 89-91 MPH. Credible? No. Nevertheless, one cannot argue that the kid has great stuff, and if his having the body and fortitude of a hippopotamus pinata doesn't cut his career short (say hello to your cousins, Colon and Sabathia!), he could really be one to reckon with. I'm betting he chunks out, though. He's only 21, and already one of the fattest non-comedians I have ever seen on live TV.

In the Seattle game, there was a weird dynamic on the Dice-K side. I only saw the innings 5-9, but I was absolutely shocked by the pitch selection I was seeing. When any pitcher gives up a hit to Adrian Beltre, it should be cause for concern. When someone of Dice-K's ability does, you know there is a specific reason (and you suspect Vegas is involved). And there was. Beltre sat on the very same pitch he had watched Dice-K throw as the last three consecutive offerings in the Ichiro at-bat. Change-up; low in the zone (Beltre's favorite). With Beltre on second, Jose "I Really, Really Prefer Fastballs" Vidro got a fastball up around the chest. To me, watching with the game on mute, this was plenty of information to have me indict Varitek, but I have since read that Matsuzaka was shaking him off. So the jury's out there.

Nevertheless, that game was just awful. Matsuzaka pitched well enough to win despite not having great stuff, and the bats were not there. Overmatched, maybe, but at that point there were doubts lingering from watching certain key at-bats. Was the offense overly concerned with going the other way? Why?

Cut to tonight. Matsuzaka again pitches more than well enought to win, but this time he's pitted against poorly respected shitbum Gustavo Chacin. So when he loses, and moreover, the Sox again appear to have a contagion the symptoms of which are attempting to take inside fastballs to right field - but instead miss them or pop them up - I become suspicious.

"Where have I seen this before?" I think. "Was it that episode of Kojak where he posed as a chubby bald lefty for a Canadian baseball team?" I queried. "No, that's not it, you idiot!" I then cruelly rejoindered, like a douche. But wait..."Of course!! They were missing fastballs middle inside last week too, as if they would be fined if they pulled a pitch down the left field line! especially that chubby bald righty, Youjak!"

Of course, I am being somewhat facetious, however, the fact remains - prior to the seventh inning, two balls were hit to left: a double by Crisp and a single by WMPK. Chacin operates in the low-90s at best, so I struggle to understand the desire to go the other way. All in all, the only logical conclusion I can come up with is that the guys are hazing Dice-K by losing him a couple of games they could have one. In the end, I think this will make a better guy, and will help him network for a sales job after baseball. So I guess I'm behind it, in a condescending sort of way.

Shhhh...here comes Hansack..

Sure, he looked great in Spring Training. Easy, repeatable delivery. Throws three pitches for strikes, apparently at will. No emotion to speak of. In short, he is the Anti-Tavarez. But what do a few spring training outings mean?

Well, at this point, Devern Hansack has pitched 10.2 innings in AAA. His strike to ball ratio is at nearly 70%. He has struck out 2o batters. He has allowed only one earned run. He is, in short, at this point ridiculous. Now, this is the smallest of sample sizes, possibly ever. But if like me you really like what the former Nicaraguan lobsterman looks like on the mound, buy your bandwagon seats now.

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