Friday, April 11, 2014

Enough about the pine tar

I don't want to hear anything else about the pine tar that was (almost definitely) on Michael Pineda's hand last night. John Farrell wasn't concerned enough to alert the umpires, the umpires didn't see anything worth investigating, and that's good enough for me.

Pine tar didn't give up four runs to the Yankees last night. Pine tar didn't stop the Red Sox from hitting once Pineda had left the game. Could the pine tar have helped Pineda's grip, and thus his location? Probably. Is using a foreign substance against the rules? Yes. But let's not pretend Pineda is the only guy who does it.

Our very own Clay Buchholz withstood a media firestorm of his own last year when he dominated with some alleged help from Bullfrog sunscreen. Most managers are loathe to alert the umpires when an opposing pitcher is using some sort of topical assistance, because they know it's likely their guys are doing something similar - and as a former pitching coach, John Farrell has to know the hands of his staff are probably sticky, too.

Pineda's use of pine tar seemed to be particularly blatant - NESN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Dennis Eckersley called it "outrageous." But everyone seems to agree that the substance on Pineda's throwing hand was gone after the fourth inning - and he didn't start falling apart until the seventh, when he was coming up on 100 pitches.

So maybe the pine tar (or whatever it was) helped Pineda when it was on his hand - but it wasn't the reason the Red Sox lost the game.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jackie Bradley Jr. Making His Case

In a stunning reversal of last year's dynamics, Jackie Bradley Jr. is having an excellent start to the season after a somewhat disappointing spring training. Ironically, Bradley wasn't even supposed to be on the Opening Day roster, but Shane Victorino tweaked his hamstring and got the flu, so here we are.

In seven games, Bradley has eight hits (including two doubles), with five RBIs - and he's come up with some key defensive plays in that time, too.

No word yet on Victorino's expected return, but if Bradley keeps up the good work, there will be some tough decisions ahead. It's pretty clear that Bradley's making his case to stay, and with Grady Sizemore embarking on a redemption tour of his own, the outfield could be pretty crowded with the return of the Flyin' Hawaiian.

It's a nice problem to have - I'd certainly rather worry where to put all the productive outfielders, rather than panicking over where to find some offensive power.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Confessions of a Lackey fan

I never expected to look forward to John Lackey's starts. I was just as exasperated with Lackey's surliness as any other fan following the great Beer and Chicken Debacle of 2011. Annoyed with Lackey's refusals to own up to his part in the collapse, I was happy to forget he even existed during the horrendous 2012 campaign as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.

And then there was last year. Lackey suffered from a severe lack of run support in 2013, but he still managed to win ten games, lower his ERA by almost three full runs from 2011, and pitch 189.1 innings (though of course if Lackey had his way, he would have pitched the full nine innings every time he took the mound).

It was the Great John Lackey Redemption Tour, and if it hadn't already been successful enough, it ended when Lackey won the clinching game of the 2013 World Series in the friendly confines of Fenway Park. Sure, there were some notable holdouts, but after 2013, most Red Sox fans were ready to get behind John Lackey.

With a strong 2-0 start to 2014 (including a dominating seven inning win last night), Lackey is looking to extend the redemption tour. He's always had a chip on his shoulder, and it certainly seems to be helping every time he takes the mound... I can't wait to see how he tops 2013.