Red Sox Mean Business Heading into July


Jun 30, 2009

Red Sox Mean Business Heading into July This week’s picture is the mindset you have to have when the trade deadline arrives: Business. All business.

As far as the Red Sox are concerned, they have been taking care of
their business.

Winners of seven of their last nine games, the Sox have
interleague play in the rear-view mirror and are setting their sights
on American League competition.

With the season nearing the halfway point, now is a good time to look at where this team will be in the coming months.

Now that David Ortiz looks more like himself at the plate, will he hit 30 HRs and produce 100 RBIs this year?
–Joe, Acton, Mass.

Going to be tough, but it can be done. There is no question that he
has vastly improved over the past few weeks. I am somewhat surprised by
the turnaround. I doubted that after two months of struggling the way
he did that he could turn it around. He has and is now looking like the
Ortiz of old. He is back to catching up with fastballs and being more
selective at the plate. When David was at his best, he was patient and
rarely went after pitches he could not lift. Thus, he was walking a
lot. When he was struggling he was swinging early and often. Even if he
does not return to 30/100, he is now helping produce in a lineup that
just needs him to help at an average level.

What is the Red Sox’ biggest weakness?
Dawn, Swampscott, Mass.

I really do not see any. With 47 wins, they lead the AL. When
looking at the team statistically, you could nitpick and say they could
afford to sacrifice more, but that has not been a big part of their
game and, based on their results, they may not need to. They could play
the West better. They are 5-10 against the West and will have a chance
to better that number against the Mariners over the weekend. The
defense could be better. The Red Sox are eighth in fielding percentage
and I think are better than how they have performed in that area so far
this season. OK, I managed to come up with three questionable areas.
When I started, I had nothing.

How is Mike Lowell’s hip?
–Gina, Wells Beach, Maine

This scares me. Things were too good to be true right from the
beginning. When he arrived in Fort Myers he was slow getting around but
got better as the spring went on and amazingly, was ready to go when
the season started. It was a credit to the focused professional that
Mike is. He set a goal and achieved it. Then he played just about every
day for better than two months. The hip grabbed him and stiffened up.
Now the hope is that this shot will help through the lubrication of
this area. The question is to what degree and how long will it last?
Yesterday, Terry Francona said we are in a wait mode
now to see how he reacts to the shot. It is entirely possible that the
DL is where he will end up. If the shot does not help, maybe rest will.

What do you think the Red Sox’ rotation will look like in the second half?
–Stan, Everett, Mass.

Barring injury, it should be the same as it is now. I don’t see how you can bring Daisuke Matsuzaka
back to this rotation as it is currently working. The question moving
forward is what to do with Matsuzaka. It is clear that he needs to be
in better condition and stronger. If he does that successfully, does he
replace anybody in the rotation? As we sit here today, I would have to
say no. Clay Buchholz may still not have the
opportunity to come up until the September call-ups, if things remain
as they are. As frustrating as it may seem, it maybe best for him in
the long run.

Do you think the Red Sox will make a major move before the trade deadline? If so, who is most likely to be dealt?
–Tim, San Diego, Calif.

No. I really do not. I am open-minded to deals and try to separate
business from personal as “The Donald” would. However, I would be very
surprised to see any moves prior, or for that matter, at the deadline.
I think the Red Sox, as they are currently put together and with the
imminent return of Jed Lowrie, are in very good
shape. If anything happens, I believe it will be minor or a move that
may not impact the Major League club immediately. If the Red Sox are
willing to eat the majority of Julio Lugo’s contract, he could be moved.

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