2001 Red Sox
Season in Review
Superficially, a very good month. The schedule was very kind to the Sox, as they played 16 of the 25 games at home, and 15 games against teams that would end up under .500. However, the inability to win games other than "blow-outs" rears its ugly head, as a 3-6 record in games decided by 2 runs or less, and a 1-4 record in extra innings makes for a worse record than could be expected. Additionally, the Red Sox record is skewed due to sweeping Tampa Bay twice, as all other records are within 1 game of .500. The pitching was, on the whole, brilliant, led by the great starting efforts brought forth by Pedro Martinez, Tomo Ohka and Hideo Nomo. The bullpen was solid led by the pitching of Rolando Arrojo, Rich Garces and Rod Beck. Unfortunately, the weak link of the pitching staff for this month was in the bullpen, as closer Derek Lowe performed extremely poor. The offense was generally good as well, although not as good as the pitching. Manny Ramirez had a brilliant first month as a member of the Red Sox, and Carl Everett was also quite good. Shea Hillenbrand seemed to be an answer at 3rd base, as he hit well and with a decent supply of power. Brian Daubach didn't hit nearly as well, but everything he hit was for extra bases, making his first month very valuable. Only one significant injury happened during the month, and the loss of Chris Stynes was not felt too much, as Jose Offerman played decently (offensively) in his place. Nomar Garciaparra was harder to replace, as the combination of Craig Grebeck and Mike Lansing failed to bat anywhere near the expected norms of Nomar.
- April 4 - Hideo Nomo pitches a 9 inning no-hitter, the Red Sox first since 1967. Nomo gives up 3 walks in this game.
- April 6 - Manny Ramirez hits his first home run as a member of the Red Sox on his first At Bat at Fenway Park.
- April 13 - Manny Ramirez gets all 3 RBIs, including the winning RBI in the tenth inning against Yankee closer Mariano Rivera, as the *Red Sox defeat the Yankees 3-2 in the first meeting between the two teams this year.
- April 26 - Hideo Nomo gives up 1 hit thru 7 innings (5 walks), leading the Red Sox to thier 4th win by shutout in April.
May was a tougher month than April for the Sox as the majority of the teams they face are teams who end up with over .500 records, and they play 4 more games on the road than at home. Not surprisingly, with the tougher competition, the Red Sox offense stumbles (scoring nearly one run less per game). The Red Sox offense is again led by the contribution of Manny Ramirez, and Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon rebound from poor power months in April to become great contributers to the offense. Carl Everett and Jose Offerman both slip from their good April's, and Shea Hillenbrand's contribution absolutely plummets. Shortstop reamains an offensive void, as Lou Merloni, Craig Grebeck, Mike Lansing and John Valentin all fail to get on base at a greater than .250 clip. The pitching also falls from the lofty heights it had attained in April, giving up more than one run per game than it had in April. Pedro Martinez, however, had a brilliant month, giving up only 6 runs over 6 starts. Tim Wakefield was great in both a relief and a starting role, while Derek Lowe overcame his rough April, and solidified the back end of the bullpen. Paxton Crawford and Tomo Ohka both had poor starts before being sent back to AAA, and David Cone came back too early from rehab, and showed poor early form. The Red Sox, again, were fairly injury free, losing only Craig Grebeck and Chris Stynes (to injury from a Hit By Pitch to the head), while gaining back David Cone and Hipolito Pichardo, who had been inactive since Spring Training.
- May 20th Jason Varitek hits 3 homeruns, and collects 7 RBIs, as the Red Sox defeat the Kansas City Royals 10-3
- May 25th Hideo Nomo pitchs a one hit complete game, giving up no walks and facing one batter over the minimum, as the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0. Nomo strikes out 14 Blue Jays in this game.
- May 30th Pedro Martinez pitches 8 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 13, to lead the Red Sox to thier seventh shut out win of the season, 3-0 over the New York Yankees
By far, the most confusing month to write about. In short, this month was all about luck, injuries, and Dante's Inferno. Even shorter, this month was the touchstone month for the Red Sox season. The schedule was again kind, as the Red Sox played mostly weak competition, with the majority of games on the road. However, while the Red Sox did well against the weak teams, it fared much better on the road. But, luck was with the Red Sox, as they won 12 of 17 games decided by 2 runs or less, and went 3-0 in extra inning games... in mark contrast to the futility the Red Sox had in April. However, the injuries piled up, as the Red Sox had FOUR shortstops injured in the first week, 3 of them going on the DL, and two of which (Grebeck and Valentin) never coming back to compete for the Red Sox. These injuries did lead to the activation of the Red Sox Mr. Irrelevant of 2001, Jon Shave, who would not take the field in his short time on the big league roster. Additionally, the Red Sox lost their starting catcher in that first week as well, and Jason Varitek would not return to play for the Red Sox in 2001. Carl Everett is lost due to a knee injury late in the month, and would not return for a month. Late in the month, the pitching started to go down to injury as well, led by Pedro Martinez, whose stint on the DL lasted for 2 months, and Frank Castillo also went to the DL, and did not return to the starting pitching rotation until August. Rich Garces' injury was the only one to affect the bullpen. The offense did increase their scoring from May, led by the incredible June had by Dante Bichette (.411/.436/.767). Nixon improved for the second straight month, and Mirabelli, when he played, performed well. Manny Ramirez had a disappointing month, but still contributed with solid slugging, as did Brian Daubach and Troy O'Leary. Offerman continued to slip from his April high, and the less said about Shea Hillenbrand's month, the better. The 4-headed shortstop combination increased their meager contributions they had in the first 2 months, but still performed relatively poorly. The starting pitching was lead by the contributions of the now starting Tim Wakefield, who had a very good month, and David Cone, who performed much better than he had in his initial three appearances. Unfortunately, Pedro was injured, and this showed in his stats, and Frank Castillo and Hideo Nomo pitched poorly. The saving grace, however, was the bullpen, which was led by a great month from Rich Garces and Hipolito Pichardo, and very good production from Derek Lowe and Rod Beck.
- June 5th The Red Sox play their first 18 inning game of the year, beating the Detroit Tigers 4-3. The Winning run was scored on an 18th inning Homerun off the bat of Shea Hillenbrand. Manny Ramirez receives 4 Intentional Walks during the course of the game.
- June 7th Chris Stynes plays his first game since the HBP to the face in early May. Starting at 2B, Chris goes 2-4 with a walk
- June 28th Bryce Florie plays his first game this year, returning from the eye injury suffered in 2000. Bryce pitches 2.1 Innings, giving up 2 hits and one run (which was earned). He also struck out one batter.
July, the Red Sox equivalent to balance. The Red Sox barely outscore their opponents (by .15 runs a game), play even in 1 run games, in 2 run games and in blow-outs. They play even at home, and nearly even on the road. There isn't any type of losing or winning streaks. This was a month quite like May, with a large number of games against good opponents, and a lot of road games. However, the Red Sox luck wasn't as bad this month, as the Red Sox were able to play even in 1-run games. The offense regressed slightly from the levels put up in June. The offense was led by Manny Ramirez, who bounced back to normal levels after a relatively poor June. Chris Stynes, Mike Lansing, Brian Daubach and Trot Nixon all played well, and Shea Hillenbrand came back from the depths that he had fell to in June, albeit in limited action. Unfortunately, Jose Offerman decided to plumb those depths instead, and Dante Bichette did a precipitous free-fall. Troy O'Leary was forced to play due to the injury of Carl Everett, and showed why he was on the bench to begin with. As for the pitching, Rolando Arrojo takes over for the injured Pedro Martinez with Pedro-like performances. Additionally, Hideo Nomo shows his good side again, pitching well in 5 starts, and David Cone gives a solid performance for the second consecutive month. Unfortunately, Tim Wakefield turns back into a pumpkin, and Tomo Ohka, forced back into the starting lineup with the absence of Frank Castillo, is a complete waste. As well, the bullpen falls apart spectacularly... and two players in that rotation are designated for assignment at the end of the month. One factor which the Red Sox start to fail in for the first time is the ability to win games if the pitching keeps the opponent to four runs or under. After the All-Star break, the Red Sox only go 6-6, different than the rest of the year where they were solidly over .500. The Red Sox relinquish their hold on the AL East lead... and are in a dog fight for the AL Wildcard at month's end. On a fun note, we did find out that Carlos Castillo and Rich Garces are not the same person... and that the bullpen seating is strong enough to handle them both.
- July 1 Rolando Arrojo gives up 1 hit through 7 innings, and Rod Beck and Derek Lowe give up one more hit, as the Red Sox defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0. The Red Sox eight shutout of the year would be there last until autumn.
- July 2 The Red Sox score 16 runs, the largest number of runs they would score in a game this season, as they defeat the Blue Jays 16-4
- July 14 Trot Nixon gets 1 hit... the rest of the Sox get none. The Red Sox lose to the NY Mets 2-0
- July 27 Bret Saberhagen returns to pitch for the Red Sox for the first time since 1999. The Red Sox win over the Chicago White Sox 9-5, as Saberhagen garners the win for his 6IP, 3H, 1 Run (earned) performance.
- July 29 Nomar Garciaparra returns for his first game in 2001. Nomar leads the Red Sox to a 4-3 win over the White Sox, as he goes 2-4 with a HR and 3 RBIs.
Anaheim (3-3), Texas (5-2), Oakland (0-3), Baltimore (2-3), Seattle (1-2), Cleveland (0-3), New York (AL)(0-1)
The soap opera kicks into overdrive. A poor first half of the month (winning one game against an opponent not name Texas), while losing 6 of 7 and 9 of 14 leads to the dismissal of manager Jimy Williams. Hired in his place, the pitching coach Joe Kerrigan. Kerrigan is given an odd schedule to work with for the second half of the month, with mostly poor opposition, but mostly on the road. Joe starts off with 6 wins in his first 9 games, before the wheels fall off with an 18 inning loss, and the subsequent loss of Nomar Garciaparra for the year 2 days later. The Red Sox proceed to end August with six consecutive losses. Odder still, the Red Sox continue their run of bullpen turnover, as Bill Pulsipher gets claimed on waivers, and Hipolito Pichardo "retires." Before that, the Red Sox suffer a number of losses of pitchers, as Pichardo and Arrojo both get placed on the DL, and Bret Saberhagen experiences pain, and is lost for the rest of the season. The Red Sox run of strangeness in August gets even stranger, as Brian Daubach needs to be placed on the DL due to a staph infection, apparently caused by an injury of his ankle caused by a foul ball. The only news that seems good is that Pedro returns... but as we see in September, not for long.
The Red Sox fail to win close games, and has an abysmal record against good teams. The hitting gets worse again, as only Mirabelli, O'Leary and Ramirez can claim good months. Garciaparra does sure up the hole that was shortstop, but is still below his normal production. Additionally, Shea Hillenbrand learns how to take a walk, which makes his OBP livable. However, the core group of starters, including Offerman (who actually rebounds from his awful July), Nixon, Bichette, Lansing, Everett and Stynes all perform at a level that can only be considered bad. Worse yet, the pitching gets worse for the 4th straight month, and is led almost entirely by the bullpen. Garces, Urbina, Fossum, and Lowe all have good months out of the bullpen, while only Arrojo (in two starts) can claim he pitched well in a Starting role. Hideo Nomo, David Cone and Bret Saberhagen can all claim much credit for the amount of losses the Red Sox had. Disturbingly, the team continues it's problems when the pitching is good, losing 7 of 13 games where the Red Sox pitching gives up 4 runs or less. Amazingly, the Red Sox win only one game where they scored 5 runs or less, losing 15. And, for the first time, the opposition scores more runs than do the Red Sox for the month.
- August 4 The Red Sox hit 6 homeruns (Daubach, Everett, O’Leary (2) and Nixon (2)) as the Red Sox defeat the Texas Rangers 10-4
- August 16 The Joe Kerrigan-led Red Sox defeat the Seattle Mariners 6-4, giving Joe Kerrigan his first win in his first game.
- August 25 The Red Sox lose to the Texas Rangers 8-7 in the Red Sox second 18 inning game of the year. The Red Sox would not win another game until September 5th.
- August 26 Pedro Martinez returns after two months. He pitches 4 innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 runs (2 earned). Pedro does not get a decision, but the Red Sox lose to the Rangers 5-4.
New York (AL) (0-5), Cleveland (1-2), Tampa Bay (2-1), Detroit (2-4), Baltimore (1-2)
And then the bottom fell out. What more can really be said? The Red Sox injury train rolls on, as they lose Pedro Martinez and Mike Lansing to injury again, and lose Carl Everett to behavior, and then to injury (although he was never officially placed on the DL). In addition, a big hubbub in the Boston press is ignited as the acting pitching coach (John Cumberland) is reassigned, and subsequently fired early in the month. But, the on-field action could be simply described as the Red Sox attempting to prove the old axiom that you need to score runs to win incorrect. They failed.
In many ways, the unfortunate events of September 11th divide the Red Sox month in such a way, that they are two distinct sections. In the first, the Red Sox play only playoff bound teams, wins only once, while showing once again the inability to win close games, or games in which the pitching actually performs well. The second half features poor teams, and the Red Sox actually show some small ability to win. More importantly, however, is that the second half of September becomes an experiment and test bed, as players like James Lofton, Angel Santos, Calvin Pickering, and Izzy Alcantara all get a chance to show their skills; Derek Lowe is tried out as a starting pitcher, and Brian Daubach plays almost exclusively in the outfield.
The Offense for the month plummets to levels unfathomable, as the team slugs .375 as a team (.055 points under their previous monthly low). Jose Offerman and Trot Nixon are the only true offensive highlights, although Manny Ramirez has a decent month for anyone not named Manny Ramirez. Darren Lewis, Calvin Pickering and Brian Daubach are OK. The Catching tandem of Mirabelli (who admittedly showed good power), Hatteberg and Oliver perform poorly, as does the SS tandem of Lansing, Lofton and Merloni. Shea Hillenbrand attempts to duplicate his June, and performs even worse than that horror. A total of 10 players bat under .200 for the month (some in very limited action), 11 players get on base less than 30% of the time, and 11 players slug under .300.
The pitching continues its downward spiral, as it combines for worse stats for the 5th straight month. Banks, Lowe and Urbina are solid in the bullpen, and Lowe, Martinez and Cone are OK as starters. Unfortunately, Frank Castillo, Hideo Nomo and Casey Fossum set the starting pitching ablaze, and Arrojo, McDill, Kim and Garces lead the arsonists out of the bullpen.
- Sept 2 Mike Mussina goes 8.2 innings with a perfect game for the Yankees. The perfect game is broken up by a pinch hit single by Carl Everett. The Red Sox lose 1-0, wasting a very good performance from David Cone.
- Sept 5 The Red Sox defeat the Cleveland Indians 10-7, breaking their 9 game losing streak, the longest of the season.
- Sept 22 Derek Lowe starts his first game since 1998. Derek pitches well (5IP, 3H, 0R), but garners a no-decision, as the Red Sox lose to the Detroit Tigers 4-3
- Sept 23 Angel Santos and James Lofton both garner their first major league hit. The Red Sox lose to the Tigers 12-6
Teams Played: Tampa Bay (1-2), Baltimore (4-0)
It's difficult to speak about a seven game month... too much possibility of statistical error playing a large role. However, winning the 5 consecutive games to end the season is good, as is learning how to win those games where the pitching performs. The offense bounces back dramatically, and the pitching finally reverses its season long trend of getting worse each month. Only David Cone (in two starts) and Casey Fossum (in one start) deserve some mention as particularly poor on the pitching side, and considering the lack of at bats... I will not attempt to make any real judgment on the hitting.
- October 6 The Last game for Cal Ripken Jr. Red Sox win 5-1, winning their final 5 games of the season. This winning streak ties for the longest winning streak the Red Sox have all season.
The Red Sox of 2001 disappointed, as most here expected the team to be in playoff contention through the final days, and some (including myself) expected the Red Sox to win around 95 games. The reasons for this optimism were rather obvious, The best pitcher on the planet, one of the top 2 shortstops, a great hitter signed as a free agent, 3 new starting pitchers brought in to stabilize the starting staff, a better than average Centerfielder, better seasons from catcher, 2B, RF and 3B (Varitek, Offerman, Nixon and Stynes respectively), and a solid bullpen continuing to be solid. So, what went wrong?
1) Injuries. This is reason #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 really. It started in Spring training as Nomar Garciaparra had to undergo wrist surgery, and was lost for all but 21 games. His replacements, Craig Grebeck, Mike Lansing, John Valentin, Lou Merloni, and James Lofton, performed poorly offensively. And, even then, 4 of these replacements missed time due to injury, and 2 of them were gone for the season by mid-June.
Pedro Martinez was the next big cog which the Red Sox were counting on which fell due to injury. He essentially missed the final 3 months of the season due to his injuries, and while his replacements were adequate... they could not possibly be considered Pedroesque. And, even then, the pitcher which initially replaced him came from the bullpen (weakening that part of the game), and within a month was placed on the injured list himself.
Then, the catcher injured his elbow, and was out for the year. At the time, Jason Varitek had just come off a very good month, and looked like a possible All-Star representative. Although Hatteberg and Mirabelli each had some good stretches of offense, they also had much lower lows than we had seen with Varitek. How Varitek's loss hurt the pitching/defensive part of the game is pure speculation; however, the pitching was worse during his absence. (It should be noted, as to make sure it does not look like I am forming an opinion, his absence also happened to coincide with the absence of Pedro, among others).
Centerfield was another area where the Red Sox injury bug hurt. The loss of Carl Everett due to a knee injury for over a month certainly did not help the Red Sox, who were forced to rely on the offense of Bichette and O'Leary... players who did not perform well during that period of time. Carl did come back, but never looked 100% healthy during August and September, and was later allowed to heal during the later part of September.
Additionally, Manny was not ready to play in the outfield for the first 2 months of the year, which limited the options to be used on offense. In September, he was also injured... leaving him out of approximately the last 10 games.
If this was not enough, Our first baseman went down to a bizarre case of staph infection during August, placing a combination of Hillenbrand and Offerman at first base, and limiting the options available to play in case of poor offensive performances. Additionally, Frank Castillo, David Cone, Rolando Arrojo, and Bret Saberhagen, starters all, all had considerable time on the disable list. Paxton Crawford, a potential injury replacement, was himself injured in the minor leagues, making him unable to help out later in the season when injury struck.
The Bullpen was not immune either, as Hipolito Pichardo, Rich Garces, Rod Beck and Pete Schourek all spent time on the disabled list.
2) Poor Production at 3B, 2B, DH/LF A couple of places where there was a general thought that there would be better production in 2001 than in 2000 were 3B, 2B and DH. And, without looking at the numbers, I can not say for sure that production was not better. However, the production of Shea Hillenbrand, Chris Stynes, Jose Offerman, Dante Bichette and Troy O'Leary was less than expected. Additionally, all of these players were completely inconsistent, backing great months with completely horrific months.
3) Lack of consistent starting pitching. Only Pedro Martinez showed any type of real consistency over a large number of games. Hideo Nomo and Frank Castillo, brought in to be the stable pitchers the Red Sox lack, were completely schizophrenic, pitching brilliant shutouts in one game, and then being unable to last through 3 innings in the next. David Cone was more consistent, but still showed some tendencies to completely lose it at times. The same can be said of Tomo Ohka, who was very good in April, but never had it again.
4) Bullpen blow-ups. Derek Lowe is the most notable player here, but is far from alone. In fact, the stability of the bullpen was often in question, as can be seen by the fluctuation in stats from month to month for the likes of Rich Garces and Rod Beck (among others). To a certain extent, on any given day, you never knew what you were going to get from the bullpen pitchers.
5) Not one career year. It's nothing you can predict, but all teams tend to have a player (or players) who have years that never could be predicted. The Red Sox had no one. Frankly, the Red Sox had few people that even slightly improved upon their previous year, let alone make large improvements.
Are there other reasons? Sure. I could drag managerial issues or front office issues in here... or show how the minor league system was producing help. But, I don't think any of those reasons are truly relevant... I don't believe minor changes there would have changed the course of the season. However, one small note on the managerial change, which many believe led to the failure of the Red Sox to make the playoffs. There are two scenarios for the Red Sox to make the playoffs, winning the AL East or winning the AL wildcard. I'll address the Wildcard scenario first. At the time of Jimy's firing, the Red Sox were behind the Oakland A's by 2 games. Certainly, not a particularly huge margin, but nonetheless the Red Sox are the chaser... and no longer have the opportunity to play any head-to-head games with Oakland. So, the Red Sox need to hope that Oakland helps them out... which they did not. Oakland proceeded to lose all of 8 games after that point, which means that the Red Sox could only afford to lose 6 games in the final 44 just to tie Oakland, a task which would be highly difficult in the best of circumstances. The Yankees, on the other hand, were up by 5 games on the Sox at this point. The Sox, at least, had 7 scheduled meeting with the Yankees, meaning if all else was even, the Red Sox would need to sweep all 7 games to guarantee the AL East win, and could lose one to force a tie. This would be a difficult task, but certainly not insurmountable. However, I am of the opinion that the Red Sox, given all of their injury trouble, would have been lucky to gain back those 5 games in the 44 remaining games.
- Tim Wakefield
- Frank Castillo
- David Cone
- Pedro Martinez
- Tomo Okha
- Derek Lowe
- Rolando Arrojo
- Casey Fossum
- Sun Woo Kim
- Paxton Crawford
- Brett Saberhagen
- Derek Lowe
- Tim Wakefield
- Rod Beck
- Rich Garces
- Pete Schourek
- Rolando Arrojo
- Casey Fossum
- Sun Woo Kim
- Paxton Crawford
- Hipolito Pichardo
- Bill Pulsipher
- Ugueth Urbina
- Todd Erdos
- Allen McDill
- Willie Banks
- Bryce Florie
- Carlos Castillo
- Brian Daubach
- Jose Offerman
- Calvin Pickering
- Shea Hillenbrand
- Morgan Burkhart
- Israel Alcantara
- Chris Stynes
- Mike Lansing
- Angel Santos
- Lou Merloni
- John Valentin
- James Lofton
- Craig Grebeck
- Nomar Garciaparra
TRIVIA & OTHER TIDBITS
- Hideo Nomo pitched a No-Hitter in his Red Sox debut, a first for the team.
- Manny Ramirez made his Red Sox debut.
- Pedro Martinez wanted to wake "The Damn Bambino" up for no reason.
- Highest paid player: Manny Ramirez - $13,050,000
- Lowest paid player: Shea Hillenbrand & Paxton Crawford - $300,000
- Manny Ramirez was the lone All-Star game selection.
|Modern Red Sox Teams|