And The Ugly.
Part 2 -- The Bad
(1) Mike Timlin
As discussed before in this here blog, Timmy has been downright brutal this year. Picture Eric Gagne with fewer strikeouts and, well, fewer outs, and that's the 2008 Mike Timlin. A couple of passable recent outings have brought his ERA down to 10.00, but he's definitely not the old 7th/8th inning go-to guy he was in 2004-2007.
There's a lot of blame to go around for the team's atrocious bullpen play this year -- see #2 supra -- but Timlin's fall to "mop-up guy" status has to be the biggest blow.(2) Manny Delcarmen
.... who may have had his name legally changed to Hyde Park's Manny Delcarmen by now; I'm just not sure. Anyhow, I hate to dump on the local boy made good, but... it's been three years now, Manuel. You've got physical talent -- nobody doubts that. But you need to shit or get the hell off our red, bestockinged pot. Go up to that mound and face each batter with the attitude "this guy just assfucked my mother until she started hemorrhaging internally, and now she poops blood". Or go watch how that asshole Beckett does it -- that's professional pitching. Your choice.
What I don't want to see anymore is this "Lookit mee, I'm Greg Maddox" corner-nibbling shit that's led you to being this year's first-turn leader for the Mark Clear Human Blowtorch award. Guess what? When it's 3-1 and the batter KNOWS you have to throw a strike, major league hitters tend to hit pretty well. That is why they're in the major leagues. If you don't figure that out quickly, Manuel, you soon won't be.
(3) David Americo Large Papi Ortiz Arias
Friends, Romans, Countrymen.... Big Papi kinda isn't doing that well this year at all. The fact that the team as a whole has been playing exceptionally well (given the strain of the Japan trip and the difficulty of the early portion of their schedule) has obscured this somewhat, but Papi's numbers this year are aggressively average. He is on pace for an slugging percentage almost two hundred points below his typical recent level of production. His Runs Created per game is less than half of what it's been the past 4 years. His GIDP is way, way up this year -- he has 9 already; last year he had 16 for the season, which was a career high. And here's the most shocking statistic: Ortiz has the worst average... of the entire team. That's including part-timers like Brandon "Appendix" Moss and Jed Lowrie.
Not that this has gone unnoticed by people or anything. The real issue is not whether Papi is underperforming, it's what the underperformance means. Ortiz has looked, for lack of a better word, tired at the plate. The focus is still there, but the results have not been coming. His bat speed seems slightly off this year. Is he still gimpy in the kneeocological area? Or, more frighteningly, is this the beginning of the end of a legendary run?
If the knee is still bothering him, so be it -- but he should show some wisdom and take care of it now, out of the lineup, while the team has options (Youkilis, Casey) to cover for him in his absence. If it's the beginning of a Mo Vaughn-like decline..... Well, let's not think about that yet, okay?
Julian Tavarez -- Much as I love Crazy Julian for his wacky antics, he's been crushingly disappointing as a pitcher this year. And, accordingly, it appears he has officially worn out his welcome today. I hope this year's suckitude doesn't obscure his invaluable contributions to this team last year.
Jonathan Papelbon -- Oh sure, he's got 11 saves. But here's three numbers for you: 0.92, 1.85, 2.41. Notice a pattern? You heard it here first: I think there's something wrong with Jon Papelbon, and neither he nor the team is saying "boo" about it. I don't see the pop in his fastballs anymore, and he doesn't have a reliable second out pitch right now. Is this the year we learn why the team was so concerned about his shoulder in early 2007?
Jon Lester -- We already have one Tim Wakefield, thank you very much. That's plenty.
Coming later... the ugly.