Monday, August 2, 2010

On The Upswing?

After surviving what could have been a season-killing 10 game swing out west, the Sox came home to take two of three from the Tigers. Not that they made it easy; both wins came in the bottom of the ninth. But a win is a win is a win, and now the Sox sit just 6.5 back of the Yankees and 5.5 back of the Rays.

If there was one negative from yesterday's 4-3 win, it would obviously be Papelbon blowing the lead to cost Buchholz his 12th win of the season. Clay looked as good as he has all year with eight innings of what was shutout ball until the ninth. But after allowing the first two runners on based, he was pulled for Paps. And then Paps allowed those two runs and one more to force the ninth-inning heroics, which amounted to Darnell McDonald scoring from third on a bad throw to first.

Paps now has five blown saves on the year, two more than he had in all of 2009 and the same amount he had in 2008. His all time high is six, which happened in 2006. His ERA is at 3.05 and his WHIP is 1.08. Were the season to end today, those numbers would be near his career all-time highs in those categories.

I have said repeatedly that people shouldn't be flipping out about this. But I have also said that Boston needs to think about Paps' future in Boston. With Daniel Bard allowing just one earned run in his last 17 appearances, comparisons are going to be drawn. Papelbon is on record as wanting to get paid big dollars. And that's fine because he has the past record to back that kind of demand. But Boston has to determine not only if Papelbon is worth Mo Rivera money, but can he stay on the team and not blow up the wage structure if he is worth that kind of money. And with two blown saves in the last 10 days, Paps isn't making a good argument for that right now.

Of course, the other big news was the trading...or lack thereof. The Sox finally got Saltalamacchia (spelled that without looking!) without giving up much at all. Chris McGuinness and Roman Mendez were buried somewhat in the Boston system. Salty's Knoblauch-esque throwing yips seem to be behind him, and hopefully he will develop into the major-league catcher everyone seems to believe he can become. At the least, he will be a good insurance policy behind the plate.

But what pleased me was to see Boston try to solve their problems from within. Ryan Kalish was called up to take over the outfield slot that was held by Hermida, who was designated for assignment. And Felix Doubront takes over in the bullpen for Ramon Ramirez, who was traded to the Giants for prospect Daniel Turpen.

I had the pleasure of seeing both these guys in Portland, with Kalish moving on to the Bucket earlier this year. I am glad to see Theo take this route and challenge our young talent to produce, rather than giving them away in a trade. These kids can play and I think they both have a shot to be good MLB players, maybe even All-Stars. Obviously, that won't happen today. But to trade away these kids for a stop-gap, short-term middle would have been a waste. And I think Kalish's play over the last two days has justified Theo's faith thus far.

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