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A plea to SoSH - BSMW (facing pitcher first time)


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#1 FelixMantilla


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 11:23 AM

From Bruce Allen:

I'm still a bit mystified by this whole "pitcher they haven't faced before" issue. Is there an explanation? Is it the Red Sox advance scouting that is poor? Or is the scouting good and the players don't study it, choosing to go on their own instincts, skills and experience? Is this being completely overblown? Paging SoSH...we need numbers from around the league on how teams fare against pitchers they are facing for the first time. My gut would tell me this isn't a league wide thing, otherwise you'd have more young pitchers having success as they first enter the league.

#2 Rough Carrigan


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 11:35 AM

No numbers here, but I disagree with Bruce.

First, if you check out sites like nyyfans.com and those for other teams, the fans of other teams also gripe that their players look inept the first time they face pitchers.

Second, I think that he's mistaken in believing that rookie pitchers are not successful and it's because other teams beat their brains out. I think all hitters have a bit of trouble with something they've never seen before but that lasts about 1 or two at bats.

I remember that years ago, Pete Rose was being interviewed about his hitting in World Series games and the interviewer made some dumb softball remark to the effect that Rose's average was higher in the later games of the series because he was so clutch or some such garbage. And Rose responded that, no, it was because he'd never seen those AL pitchers before and by the sixth or seventh games he was seeing a starter for a second time and a reliever for a second or third time and that, *of course* he was better against them at that point.

#3 smnookin


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 11:37 AM

I'm pretty sure this has been examined and it turns out the Sox don't have any more trouble against rookies than they do against anyone else -- it's just that we remember those outings so they figure disproportionately in our memories. In either case, I don't think it makes a lot of sense to lump Blaton in with yr average MLB rookie: he's been making everyone look foolish this year, and if he got some decent run support his record would reflect that. I think he has something like the 4th or 5th lowest BAA in the league.

#4 possumbait


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 11:39 AM

No way I have the gumption to try numbers out, but I have figured that the Sox approach to hitting makes them vulnerable to 'new looks.' Their tendency is to take/foul deep into the count, and this will backfire some if they can't recognize a pitch or if the pitcher hits the spots. Sometimes, a pitcher will shut them down for 4-5 innings, and then they put up a big crooked number, and I suspect this would be a case of not giving a different look the second/third time through, or not having a good 3rd/4th pitch.

Under this surmise, an opportunistic team that likes to swing at the first pitch (say, the Angels) would tend to fare better against such pitchers.

I don't think its a matter of scouting, but I do think its a matter of philosophy.

#5 Buffalo Head

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 12:01 PM

Just an anecdotal reference, but a week or so ago, the Yankees faced a rookie pitcher -- I forget who -- and Sterling and Waldman were going on and on about how the Yankees suck against guys they've never seen before. It isn't just the Sox.

#6 Todd Benzinger

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 12:15 PM

Last time this topic came up, I looked over the 04 season game logs, and I noticed that while the Sox had been memorably shut down by some new/rookie pitchers, they'd unloaded on others.

Anyone care to review the 05 season for that effect?

#7 templeUsox


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 12:25 PM

Maybe this affects veteran teams (i.e. Sox and Yanks) more than teams with young cores because no one on the team has an extended history against the pitcher in the minor leagues. If we are to believe that a batter gets better against a given pitcher the more he is exposed to him, than it makes sense that younger teams are going to succeed more often against younger pitchers. Perhaps when Francisco Liriano is shutting part of our team down in several years, Hanley and Dustin will be there to bail the rest of them out.

Edited by templeUsox, 16 September 2005 - 12:27 PM.


#8 xjack


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 12:44 PM

Why is this surprising?

I know this is totally anecdotal, but how many examples are there of Sox rookie pitchers who did really well their first couple starts, only to fade badly once the league figured them out? Anyone remember Jim Wright? I went to one of his first starts with my dad when I was a kind, Wright was lights-out, and I remember telling my dad on the way home that Wright was my new favorite player, he was amazing, yada, yada, yada.... I'm sure there are folks who have similar childhood memories of Kevin Morton, Eric Hetzel, Nate Minchey, Vaughn Eshelman and Juan Pena -- all of whom where lights out in their major league debuts.

Or on the flip side, anyone else remember that game Sam Militello against us in his first-ever start?

#9 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 12:51 PM

When the Sox crush a rookie pitcher, you don't remember it because you think it's supposed to happen. When a rookie pitcher throws a good game, you remember it because it's not supposed to happen, and your mind ends up thinking it happens far more often than it does.

#10 Kowlooner


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 12:51 PM

Why is this surprising?

I know this is totally anecdotal, but how many examples are there of Sox rookie pitchers who did really well their first couple starts, only to fade badly once the league figured them out? Anyone remember Jim Wright? I went to one of his first starts with my dad when I was a kind, Wright was lights-out, and I remember telling my dad on the way home that Wright was my new favorite player, he was amazing, yada, yada, yada.... I'm sure there are folks who have similar childhood memories of Kevin Morton, Eric Hetzel, Nate Minchey, Vaughn Eshelman and Juan Pena -- all of whom where lights out in their major league debuts.

Or on the flip side, anyone else remember that game Sam Militello against us in his first-ever start?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


How about Aaron Sele? Granted he did have a successful career but he was at his best his rookie year when he was facing teams for the first time.

#11 mr guido

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 12:59 PM

I looked over the first half of 2005... didn't have the tenacity to keep looking post-ASB. No guarantees that this data is 100% accurate.


vs young starters for the first time: 8 games, 3-5 record, 3.40 runs per 9, 1.31 WHIP

vs vet starters in AL coming from the NL or otherwise not seen in 04 or 05: 9 games, 3-6 record, 4.84 RAA, 1.55 WHIP

vs vets not seen recently during interleague play: 10 games, 8-2 record, 9.47 RAA, 2.03 WHIP

all other games in the first half: 35-25

Dunno what this means, but have at it.

As for the rookies (or other very low experience guys, here is the list)

            IP     Runs
Bush         5      3    W
Etherton     7.33   4    L
Chacin       6      1    L
Penn         5.33   3    W
Davies       5      0    L
L Hudson     5      3    W
Williams     6      0    L
R Rodriguez  5.33   3    L
None of these guys got hammered, they were all quite solid considering they were facing the MLB leading lineup.

Edited by mr guido, 16 September 2005 - 01:06 PM.


#12 Eric Van


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 01:00 PM

Why is this surprising?

I know this is totally anecdotal, but how many examples are there of Sox rookie pitchers who did really well their first couple starts, only to fade badly once the league figured them out? Anyone remember Jim Wright? I went to one of his first starts with my dad when I was a kind, Wright was lights-out, and I remember telling my dad on the way home that Wright was my new favorite player, he was amazing, yada, yada, yada.... I'm sure there are folks who have similar childhood memories of Kevin Morton, Eric Hetzel, Nate Minchey, Vaughn Eshelman and Juan Pena -- all of whom where lights out in their major league debuts.

Or on the flip side, anyone else remember that game Sam Militello against us in his first-ever start?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually, Jim Wright is a bad example to a terrific point. He had a 2.96 ERA going into September '78 when the Gerbil blew out his already aching elbow in a meaninglessly complete game win. So we never really found out if his rookie year was disproprtionately good.

Pena had amazing command before his TJ surgery. Afterwards, without it, he was apparently very hittable.

Best example may be Mike Paxton, who was very good as a rookie despite having nothing discernible in the way of stuff, and turned back into a pumpkin as expected in his subsequent years. Mike Nagy, Dana Kiecker, too.

I bet that rookie pitching perfoprmance is bimodal. A guy comes into town with a 5.00 ERA and shuts us down -- that seems crazy. What we don't realize is that he's been pitching 2 or 3 good games, themn getting hammered unmercifully in 1, driving his ERA way up. Meanwhile, we are killing every 3rd or 4th rookie pitcher who comes through, exactly as expected.

#13 Eddie Jurak


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 01:24 PM

Best example may be Mike Paxton, who was very good as a rookie despite having nothing discernible in the way of stuff, and turned back into a pumpkin as expected in his subsequent years.  Mike Nagy, Dana Kiecker, too.

What about Al Nipper? He's a guy who seemed to be better in his first couple of years than afterward.

#14 jacklamabe65


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 01:29 PM

I think it comes down to psychology. You think, "Oh, good, Joe Schmooe is pitching tonight for the Rangers in his third start in the big leagues. He's not Mike Mussina. That's a win for us."

Joe Schmooe then goes out and pitches a solid game and has messed up our minds. In reality, about half of the time, our expectations are realized - we beat him up eventually, even if it takes some innings to do so. However, we tend to remember the times that we were surprised because it caused us major angst and disappointment in the end. Jack Lamabe once told me, "The Cardinals couldn't WAIT to hit against Gary Waslewski. Cepeda said, 'He's a double A pitcher pitching in the World Series.' According to Lamabe, the Redbirds were absolutely pissed they lost Game 6 because they just assumed they would beat up on the longtime Red Sock famrhand. To their credit, the Cardinals hitched up their pants and then pecked away against an exhausted Lonborg in Game 7."

Baseball is a beautiful game.

Edited by jacklamabe65, 16 September 2005 - 01:34 PM.


#15 Joe D Reid

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 01:43 PM

A quick crack at post-ASB rookie starts vs. the Sox. Even though he's not a rookie, I'm including Small, because this version of him sure as hell never got to the MLs before:

Snyder (KC) 3.1 IP 5R
Santana (LA) 8.2 IP 2R
Maine (BAL) 5.0 IP 3R
McCarthy (CHI) 7.0 IP 0R
Small (NYY) 6.1 IP 4R
----------------------------------
Total 30.1 14R

Combined with guido's list, that's an RA of 3.98. Sox' overall RS/G is about 5.4, so there's a noticable dropoff. That said, I haven't figured out whether all SPs are holding them down to that level--it might be that we're running up our total agaisnt other teams' pens.

#16 mr guido

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:13 PM

Combined with guido's list, that's an RA of 3.98.  Sox' overall RS/G is about 5.4, so there's a noticable dropoff.  That said, I haven't figured out whether all SPs are holding them down to that level--it might be that we're running up our total agaisnt other teams' pens.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thanks Joe. The combined RA is actually 3.70 as far as I can tell.

So this bunch of random schmoes (with a few decent prospects mixed in) held the majors' best offense to 3.7 runs per 9 innings. Meanwhile if you add up all of their performances against other, non-BOS teams they hold the rest of MLB to a 5.12 RAA. Even this stat is misleading because the bulk of these innings are pitched by the few rookies that impressed well enough to stay in the bigs for a while. The average RA against other teams for the rookies who stymied the Sox is a 5.6 (1.9 runs higher than what the Sox managed.) The team record is 4-9 vs these pitchers.

Boston has sucked this year when facing young pitchers for the first time, more than other teams do. QED.

Edited by mr guido, 16 September 2005 - 02:16 PM.


#17 Todd Benzinger

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:30 PM

We hit Santana the second time, though, which should count at least in comparison to how the rest of the league did.

Also, on the post ASB list only McCarthy & Santana (first time only) did really well against the Sox. The other less hyped/talented guys did a pretty blah job. In fact, if you take out McCarthy, the picture looks a lot different.

Oh--and Blanton, too. I conveniently forgot him because he wasn't on the list.

He went 6.1 2 W, right?

Edited by Todd Benzinger, 16 September 2005 - 02:36 PM.


#18 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:38 PM

Wouldn't you have to look at all rookie pitchers? Why would the Sox only have trouble hitting starters, and not relievers?

#19 Todd Benzinger

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:41 PM

Well, the Sox at least have had the taste only to get shut down by guys who are hyped and talented (McCarthy, Santana, Blanton, Chacin); the so-so guys and sucky on the list all seem to have given up runs (Snyder, Bush, Etherton etc).

So maybe they hit rookie relievers hard?

#20 mr guido

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:41 PM

Oh--and Blanton, too. I conveniently forgot him because he wasn't on the list.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Good point. Make that 4-10 vs 1st time young pitchers, a .286 winning percentage. Sox get 3.64 runs per 9 (worse than the majors' worst hitting team, the Nats at 3.93 rpg).

The rest of the majors (including Sox 2nd+ time after) hits them at 5.16, or an average of 5.48 RA per pitcher to account for the fact that Blanton, Chacin, and Bush have pitched 43% of the innings despite being just 3 of the 14 young guys the Sox have faced.

#21 mr guido

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:43 PM

Wouldn't you have to look at all rookie pitchers? Why would the Sox only have trouble hitting starters, and not relievers?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The real question is: wouldn't you have to look at rookie relievers? Because I don't have that much free time on my hands to comb through every box score and figure out which relief pitcher the Sox had never faced before.

Young starters is a good first cut since they obviously make up the majority of the IP against the sox by youngsters. And since the starting pitcher makes a bigger impact on the game than reliever, hence (presumably) the 4-10 record.

Edited by mr guido, 16 September 2005 - 02:47 PM.


#22 ZachCrouch

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:44 PM

Silverman had a great table with this info in the Herald the day after the Labor Day/McCarthy game. Off the top of my head the ERA for all first time guys in 05 (at that point) was somewhere around 3.4. I remember thinking what a great bit of research it was for a beat guy to put together a table like that for the next day's paper.

#23 PedroKsBambino


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:46 PM

I thought this theory wouldn't prove out, but thus far (thanks for the research, guido and Joe D Reid) it's surprisingly holding up.

Relievers are a heck of a lot harder to research, if nothign else!

#24 wade boggs chicken dinner


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 03:01 PM

I thought this theory wouldn't prove out, but thus far (thanks for the research, guido and Joe D Reid) it's surprisingly holding up.

Relievers are a heck of a lot harder to research, if nothign else!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

My guess one major factor would be the pitcher's motion; if it's different or deceptive, you would think that it would be a while even for major league hitters to pick up release point and spin. But after a while, adjustments are made.

#25 The Gray Eagle


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 03:10 PM

Relievers are kind of irrelevant to this-- when the starter is announced you know he's going to pitch and pitch as long as he can. A rookie reliever night not pitch at all, and will pitch only when the other team wants to use him.

Most likely, they won't use a rookie reliever in a high leverage spot, and if they do, they'll take him out if he starts giving up runners.

So if we see a game coming up that's going to be started by some kid we've never seen before, that's a concern that can't be balanced out by that team having another rookie we've never seen in the bullpen.

The starter's definitely going to get the chance to stick it to us for 6 or 7 innings, if he can.

#26 Lose Remerswaal


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 03:53 PM

Most likely, they won't use a rookie reliever in a high leverage spot, and if they do, they'll take him out if he starts giving up runners.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Cla Meredith says, well, you know what he says. :lol:

#27 rice not rose


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 04:21 PM

            IP     Runs
Bush         5      3    W
Etherton     7.33   4    L
Chacin       6      1    L
Penn         5.33   3    W
Davies       5      0    L
L Hudson     5      3    W
Williams     6      0    L
R Rodriguez  5.33   3    L
None of these guys got hammered, they were all quite solid considering they were facing the MLB leading lineup.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Mr. Guido, I took a minute to look up how the team did against these pitchers the second (and in 1 case, the 3rd) time they crossed paths ...

Bush - 2 more meetings, 7.0 IP, 10 ER
Chacin - 1 more meeting, 5.0 IP, 4 ER
Rodriguez - 1 more meeting, 0.2 IP, 4 ER

At first glance, it looks like the Sox figgered 'em out, for whatever reason. But I really think there's so much more that comes into play, situationally. I didn't take the time to look up ... and I don't have a good enough memory to remember ... what was going on with the Sox around the time they were facing these guys? Were they hot and then the rookie shut them down? Were they in a mini-slump? Was someone out of the lineup ... or back in the lineup ... that would account for the differences?

#28 Vermonter At Large


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 04:59 PM

Not entirely related, but a point to ponder:

Is it possible that team preparation can make certain hitters dependent on scouting reports? Is it like kids who use cheat codes on video games? I don't think this is true of all hitters, but especially guys who can be categorized as guess hitters who use scouting reports to narrow the guesses could be negatively affected by having incomplete scouting reports on pitchers. This would, of course, be exacerbated by not having faced the pitcher before.

I do think that Sox hitters often appear to have a strategic approach to opposing pitchers - patient or not patient, waiting for a guy to tire, taking a lot of pitches early, even setting up pitchers - anything to take advantage of the pitchers' vulnerabilities. It seems to be a team approach (Does Papa Jack orchestrate this?), or perhaps its just individual hitters working in loose unison.

Last night, against Blanton, there didn't appear to be a plan, or if there was, it wasn't working. That does seem to happen a lot with guys they haven't seen, but as was mentioned above, I think most teams have the same problem.

Give Blanton some credit for last night, but in reality, there are a lot of Sox hitters who are out of sync right now. Varitek's AB in the middle innings (sixth?) last night, where he tried to bunt the first pitch with men on base was as ugly an at-bat as I have seen in a long time. He had absolutely no idea of what he wanted to do against Blanton. I thought that was more Tek than Blanton, but maybe he was tougher than he looked.

#29 TheRooster

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 05:35 PM

To further EV's point about bimodality (a word?), check out E. Santana's last 8 starts: 5,1,7,1,7,1,0,6 Those are his ER allowed. He may not be representative of young pitchers, but he sure is Jeckyl/Hyde.

#30 Murray Rude

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 05:55 PM

When the Sox crush a rookie pitcher, you don't remember it because you think it's supposed to happen. When a rookie pitcher throws a good game, you remember it because it's not supposed to happen, and your mind ends up thinking it happens far more often than it does.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


This sums up my feelings. Perception vs. reality.

'Course I have no numbers. :lol:

#31 OttoC


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 06:54 PM

Give Blanton some credit for last night, but in reality, there are a lot of Sox hitters who are out of sync right now.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think you're right about the batters, but Blanton has held opposing batters to a .239 average this year in 30 starts. Not exactly a push-over. The Red Sox did go 6 for 24 off him, which is better than expectations.

#32 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 16 September 2005 - 09:19 PM

Building on what VAL said above, I wonder if the struggling vs these guys is consistent among players. My guess would be that the Ortizes and Ramirezes and maybe Damon are pretty consistent; and that maybe the Mueller / Tek / Renteria crew is struggling against these types? I don't know if this makes snese, but it gets back to Phillys point about the Sox being top heavy in their offense (Philly's point was a heckuva lot deeper and more explained than that, but you know what I mean).

#33 Romero Romine

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 07:01 AM

I looked over the first half of 2005... didn't have the tenacity to keep looking post-ASB.  No guarantees that this data is 100% accurate.
vs young starters for the first time: 8 games, 3-5 record, 3.40 runs per 9, 1.31 WHIP

vs vet starters in AL coming from the NL or otherwise not seen in 04 or 05: 9 games, 3-6 record, 4.84 RAA, 1.55 WHIP

vs vets not seen recently during interleague play: 10 games, 8-2 record, 9.47 RAA, 2.03 WHIP

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Note that this list might as well be ordered by "players least likely to have a lot of video on them" to "most likely".

The next question is whether certain Red Sox hitters do better or worse against these pitchers. I would guess that a Gabe Kapler, for instance, doesn't drop very much against the less experienced pitchers, just because he doesn't really strike me as having much of a game plan when he goes up there.

#34 redsoxstiff


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Posted 17 September 2005 - 08:39 AM

Anecdotal of course...but isn't it supposed to work this way?...

The recently pressed into service rook is cannon fodder thrown out against our kick ass ace...He pitches the game of his life while our 'star' plays switch finger...oh yeah, the game always has significance...

I remember the impact of those types of games to be sure ... to the point that I give them a special Murphy's law status...

#35 Todd Benzinger

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 10:47 PM

Part of the list is semantic, though too. Joe & Jerry mentioned that the Sox had hammered Haren earlier this year, but he didn't make it onto the lists. Does his having pitched a few innings in the WS really invalidate his status as a "first timer" VS the Sox? It was his first time starting against them. He also bucked the trend by being better in his second start against the Sox...

#36 Vermonter At Large


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Posted 18 September 2005 - 09:59 AM

I think that the Sox would be better served to use some of the bench guys against certain pitchers at this point in the season. Nearly everyone besides Ortiz, Manny and the second basemen are struggling at the plate right now. I think using Petagine and Youkilis in particular could be useful, especially against the less-than-established starters. Aside from the general coldness of the veteran lineup, these guys may have an advantage in that they haven't faced anybody much, and therefore have to operate in an adaptive hitting mode nearly all of the time.