1. I’m still not sure what to make of Kevin Youkilis. I wouldn’t be surprised if his career is in descent, as his manager seems to believe. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up having .290-25-95 season, either, because Youk always looks horrible when he’s not going well. Heck, he doesn’t look great when he’s on fire. The Red Sox need to give him until the end of May (or his next injury) before turning toward Will Middlebrooks, the third base prospect currently tearing it up at Pawtucket (1.118 OPS, seven homers in 66 plate-appearances). As promising as Middlebrooks is — he’s excellent defensively and has continued to improve as a hitter as he’s climbed the ladder — the Sox shouldn’t abandon Youkilis just yet.
2. A quick search doesn’t tell me where this originated or whether it’s based in substance at all, but a few Twitter followers suggested that there’s a rumor the Red Sox could trade Youk to his hometown Reds for Bronson Arroyo. That’s a pretty good litmus test for where you stand on the Red Sox these days — if you think it’s a good trade, I’m going to have to presume you’ve already shattered your panic button with repeated poundings and probably haven’t seen Arroyo since he was pretending to be Johnny Rzeznik at “Hot Stove, Cool Music” in 2005 or so. We all liked him here, and trading him for Wily Mo Pena backfired, and he had some fine years for the Reds … and he allowed 46 home runs last season, in the National League, which is more than Tim Wakefield (25) and John Lackey (20) allowed combined last season, and possibly more than Mark Melancon allowed last week. This isn’t someone who is going to help their rotation at this point. This is someone you hope joins a rival’s rotation and serves a few meatballs to get your offense going.
3. How about we play the small-sample-size game, shortstop edition. Too bad, I’m doing it anyway.
Jed Lowrie:.229 average/.357 on-base/.257 slugging with one RBI in 42 plate-appearances.
Marco Scutaro: .222/.300/.259 with one RBI in 61 plate-appearances.
Mike Aviles: .294/.333/.471 with two homers and eight RBIs in 55 plate-appearances.
Jose Iglesias (Triple A): .241/.333/.259, 1 double in 67 plate-appearances.
I’d say it’s one thing that’s gone right.
4. It makes perfect sense to skip Daniel Bard‘s turn in the rotation. I just hope his next turn doesn’t come in Ft. Myers next spring. He’s had his hiccups, such as the seven walks in his last start. But his stuff has translated (13 strikeouts in 11.2 innings) well, and his WHIP would be lower than 1.71 had his manager not left him in to walk 19 or so Rays when he was clearly cooked in his last start. I understand the temptation to put him in the bullpen now. But the Red Sox will be better served over the course of the season if he remains in the rotation. The upgrade that Felix Doubront and Bard are giving them over John Lackey and Tim Wakefield from a year ago should be significant through the summer if they can just remain patient now.
5. I’m not saying “Sweet Caroline” should be banned when the Red Sox are losing. It’s a fun tradition for a lot of people who spend a lot of money to go to a ballgame. But to hear it in the eighth inning Saturday after the Red Sox had punted away a 9-0 lead on the Yankees is the kind of are-you-kidding-me? nonsense that reminds you that Red Sox management is considerably more tone-deaf than even warbling ol’ touching-you, touching-me Neil Diamond.
6. You can say you were clamoring for Bobby Valentine to leave Felix Doubront in for one more inning Saturday when the Red Sox had a 9-1 lead over the Yankees, but forgive me for suspecting you of revising history. Doubront was at 99 pitches (the second-highest count of his brief career) and the lead was eight runs with nine outs to go. That’s exactly the time you try to get your struggling bullpen a couple of quality innings and hope they build some momentum. Valentine has made some curious decisions with the pitching — it’s perhaps the most frustrating aspect of his early tenure, since bullpen management was said to be a strength — but you’re reaching if you’re going to fault him for this.
7. As your reward for getting this far through my jabbering, here’s a great take on the state of the Red Sox by Friend of TATB Matthew Kory at Baseball Prospectus. Check it out for the ridiculous Mark Melancon headshot, stay for a funny and painfully accurate perspective.
8. The 2011 Red Sox began last season 2-10 and did not reach .500 until May 15, their 40th game. They proceeded to go 63-32 from then until September 1. I’m not saying this team is capable of such a scorching summer as currently constituted. But considering the Red Sox’ opponents from now until May 15 are Minnesota, Chicago, Oakland, Baltimore, Kansas City, Cleveland and Seattle, I think its more than reasonable to give them until that date again before making any concrete judgments. And I’ll bet you they are above .500 when the day comes around.
9. As for today’s Completely Random Baseball Card: