Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Back to the Minors

Kason Gabbard shutting out the Royals last night made me realize the major difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox the last few years. The Sox have a TON of young talent coming up through their system. Gabbard, Jon Lester (who we already know can pitch in the majors), Ellsbury, Pedroia, David Murphy (who I really liked when he came up at the end of last season), and especially Clay Buchholz, who has one of the deadliest curve balls I've ever seen. They even highlighted one of them on the 'Baseball Tonight' segment 'That's Nasty' when he was pitching in AA Portland!

Let's not forget about Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen who have had their share of problems, but seem to be getting things together just in time for the September roster expansions. Delcarmen in particular has looked very effective in his middle relief role. Not walking batters can do that.

Meanwhile, the Yankees' system is close to barren. Besides the two Phillips (pitcher and first baseman) who do they have that is close to being ready? It could be that I just hear more about the Red Sox prospects because I live in Boston, but I keep reading that one of the reasons the Yankees are having trouble making trades is because they don't have any prospects other teams want. Cashman has also publicly said one of his priorities was to replenish the farm and the Randy Johnson trade was one of the steps towards doing just that.

While they're busy with that long term project, let's take a look at what is coming or has already arrived from Pawtucket.

Kason Gabbard: Gotta admit, I never heard of this guy until he filled in for Beckett. He's 3-0, just pitched a three hit shutout (granted, it was the Royals, but still) and looks like an above average 4 or 5 starting pitcher. Nice to know he's there to replace Tavarez when he implodes, if he hasn't already.

Dustin Pedroia: Doesn't look like much, but he's stubborn at the plate (getting on base nearly 40% of the time), solid in the field and it appears all his teammates love having him around. Solid Rookie of the Year candidate.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Everyone keeps talking about Johnny Damon when they talk about this kid, but I see him as our own version of Jose Reyes. He brings a level of excitement to Fenway I haven't seen since Fred Lynn was here. Plus, seven year old loves that fact that we saw him play in Lowell when he was in single A. Remember that, DA? You were there.

Jon Lester: Was 7-2 last year before he was diagnosed with Lymphoma and spent the winter thankfully getting healthy. Doesn't seem quite back yet, but will conceivably be on the roster at the beginning of next year.

Clay Buchholz: I'm going to allow a scouting report to describe this kid. 'Buchholz has a low-to-mid 90s four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball with decent movement, a slider, a hard 12-to-6 curveball, and a change-up'. That's five pitches he throws. And his fastball has hit 97 on occasion. Oh, he also throws what he calls a 'circle change'. No idea what it is (think Mussina uses it) but that is officially six pitches he can throw and all are effective. If he can put all this together and throw them all for strikes he could be the best pitcher the Red Sox have ever had. Giddy is the name of the game. I would really like to see the Sox win the AL East early just to see him come up and pitch in the majors a few times.

David Murphy: Left hand hitting outfielder who, if he can hit for more power, will be a nice addition to this team. In his 23 ML games, he's hitting .357 with 1 homer. When is Manny's contract up?

Brandon Moss: Another lefty outfielder who has hit .306 with 13 homers in AAA this year and has a CANNON for an arm. International League All Star and hits to all fields for average and power. Don't hear much about him, but could be fantastic when he arrives. I'm picturing a more athletic, more white, David Ortiz which probably isn't even close. I can dream, though.

Those are the highlights, but there is also lesser known players like first baseman Aaron Bates who is hitting .317 with 19 homers in Greenville. Jed Lowrie, Portland's shortstop who is hitting .297 with an on base percentage of .406. Lars Anderson, another Greenville player. Word has it he has one of the best swings of any prospect and he's just 19.

All of this doesn't even include players already established. You know like Jonathan Papelbon or Kevin Youkilis. Or how about the players that came up through the Sox system that were traded away. Like Kelly Shoppach or Hanley Ramirez or Cla Meredith or .....oh, let's just stop there before I ruin my own good mood.

One more thing: You can put all the stats and scouting reports in the trash once you report to the big leagues. It's a completely different animal than most of these players have never experienced. I don't know how to put this precisely, but the young players that have come up and played for the Boston team just seem READY. They don't panic, they don't look scared and they have a great approach. Pedroia is a perfect example. He had a shitty first month, but just kept at it; kept working hard and taking the same approach. Look at him now. This seems to be the common denominator with all the young guns. They look like they belong.

Obviously, you can't always depend on your own internal players. You need signings like Papi or Manny. Trades that bring you the Variteks. But the teams that seem to stay good for the longest time always find players from within to plugs gaps. Teams like the Braves, the Twins, the As. They have a rich, full system of players that always seem ready when they get their chance. I never could figure out how they did it.

Now the Sox are doing the same thing, but can still be a major player in the free agent signings and Dice-K type auctions. This is a very good thing for Sox fans.

Today's distraction: Familiarize yourself with some of the future Sox Legends. It's the Lowell Spinners (the Sox single A affiliate) 2007 roster. I have to admit, Willy Mota looks like a keeper. No idea if he's good or not, but just the name sounds like a superstar.

'Now starting for the American League All Stars....Willy....MOTAAAAAA!!!'

6 comments:

son pere said...

Beachbum: I just finished reading your two latest blog entries and I must say that I realy enjoy your writing style. What surprises me is that there have been no comments posted to either. I admit that this is the first time I check out your blog (link from French's blog page), but I will continue to check daily from now on.

"Back to the Minors" is right on. Do you and French compare notes? He has some really good insights on Professional Sports, as well.

Your comments on the film "Deliver Us From Evil" are better than any movie critic's. Maybe you should consider a career change? I am a Roman Catholic, and I deplore what the Church has done in these cases, moving the molesters from one parish to another, without any warning to the new parish, or any kind of punishment to the molester. Totally unacceptable.

I am now "hooked" on your blog. Keep writing as you do, and I will keep reading your postings. I am sooooo looking forward to the next one.

-le pere du French

French said...

I think you like his writing style so much because:

1) you two are close in age

2) Bowen is also an IT guy

French said...

More:

1) Amazing job mentioning Jed Lowrie. I'm a big fan of his, along with Ellsbury, Murphy and Buchholz.

2) Don't forget about the North Shore Spirit...I know they have nothing to do with the Sox, but it's pure baseball and a great atmosphere for families and kids. Bring your boy to a game in Lynn. You'll have a great time and spend under $20 for the experience...total.

3) John Farrell has done WONDERS for our pitching staff. Realizing that Dave Wallace wasn't cutting it anymore was genius by the brass and I think it's paid HUGE dividends. Our young pitching has proven that they're ready for the show when the time comes, and that's a result of good coaching (along with talent, of course)

3a) Delcarmen and Gabbard have had better location than ever before, which is the overriding factor in their success with the big club this season...another point we can attribute to the coaching as well as having 'Tek behind the plate.

BeachBum said...

Son pere, thanks for the kind comments. What French forgot to add number 3: We both have genius IQs. I'm sure it was just an over sight on his part. Again.

I have never heard of the North Shore Spirit, although they play in Lynn, so chances of me going there are slim since I don't speak Spanish.

I totally agree with you about Farrell, he is the key to this entire pitching staff. I'm afraid some other team is going to offer him a head job and we'll lose him.

BeachBum said...

Forgot one thing. Last season Al Nipper was doing a solid job as the pitching coach while Wallace recovered from surgery. Everyone forgets this, but as soon as Wallace came back (or almost as soon), the pitchers - Beckett especially - started sucking. Where is Nipper now? Is he still with the team?

son pere said...

French, you mean beachbum is close to retirement age? Wow! Maybe there's hope for me yet!

When you say he's (Beachbum) an IT guy, is that Information Technology, or In Transition?