I was in an extreme state of Nirvana in Florida for the past week,using my time there very wisely observing Boston Red Sox pitching and catching,as well as Batting Practices. I think I actually made it to the field before the players and coaches did.
OK,so my favorite subject in baseball,especially Red Sox baseball is PITCHING. And after making so many field observations, and speaking to some pitchers and coaches, I will share my Preseason Pitching Ponderings with you. I am fairly straightforward on this subject,and realize that this is a very touchy subject…..and everyone has their favorites – but here goes.
Clay Buchholz started as a bright light, that eventually partially fades in order to join the masses. He is newly buff,and confident and steady, now that’s important!! He is calmer on the mound,and is learning to trust Varitek’s calls more. He wants to be successful this time around, so he is working hard. I still believe in my gut that they are putting him out there to be seen (“Highlighted”) to use him in a trade sometime this year. Clay’s not stupid,he knows it too. Whatever happens,as he ages,he will gain the experience he needs to succeed.
Justin Masterson is a SUPERSTAR. He is the Future Horse of the Boston Red Sox, no question. He is strong and well-grounded, a real clubhouse guy. He will pay his dues and go wherever they want him, starting or bullpen, because he knows it will pay-off in the end. The kid is so powerful, and has so much time to hone his skills and take his aggression down a few steps. I look forward to seeing him pitch for many years to come, and there should be a fat paycheck soon for that boy. I still remember seeing him stare-down A-Rod in September.
Daniel Bard is a lanky kid with a spitfire fastball that you can’t even see!! And it’s consistent too, he will go down to the minors to work hard and put his time in,and I think that they will be using him a bit at Fenway this summer too. The kid has great stuff, very exciting to watch.
Junichi Tazawa is a phenom, a gifted boy that will learn to control his arm and hit his spots in the minors this year. I think he may have been dissappointed to be sent down, but we are so loaded with pitching,we can afford to take our time to get these kids game-ready.
Michael Bowden is an intense power pitcher that has been great as a starter in the minors,but may be used in the Sox bullpen before year’s end. He, like Masterson needs to control the aggression impulse and take things more calmly. He will be extremely valuable.
I cannot speak of pitchers without mentioning my elation of personally observing the gifts that both of our new veteran pitchers on my happy list have to give to us as fans. Watching Takashi Saito pitch in last Friday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was a thrill. The man has some very powerful stuff, and is very healthy and ready to go. I have no doubt that he will be instrumental to us earning a top spot in the AL East in 2009.
And Brad Penny, my other top pick will be another strong addition to the Red Sox starting lineup. What a powerhouse arm, I find myself worrying that he may dislocate something in his pitches!! If he can stay healthy, it will not only be a great year for him, but for our Red Sox.
As always, I enjoyed watching the funky throws of Okajima and Lopez, and it’s a religious experience watching Beckett and Lester throw lights-out stuff. Our Captain surely has his workload full this year wrangling all these studs and colts together to create a winning season. (And I predict that John Smoltz will be quite a handful.)
This year will prove to be a thrilling grind for players and fans alike, so enjoy!!!!
May the Sox be with you all.