(note: written prior to Wednesday night's episode)
4.9.03 TORONTO - Severe Acute Relief Shortcomings. Sorry Ass Relief
Stiffs. Specialty: Allowing Runs Scored. Suffering Another
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.