2002 Red Sox
What happens when you hire a moron to run your team?: Chapter one (to be continued in 2003)
Year in Review
The Red Sox offseason can be broken up into three distinct parts: Player Departures, Player Arrivals, and Changes in Management.
After the poor performances by many veterans in the 2001 season, many fans thought that it was time to clean house. As serendipity would have it, many contracts either had expired or had buyouts attached to them, and it was rather easy for GM Dan Duquette to shed some of these veteran players.
The players whose contracts were up (or were bought out) and were not re-signed included long-term Sox John Valentin (a victim of injuries), Troy O'Leary (a victim of non-production), and Darren Lewis (a victim of too much playing time). Former "All-Star" Dante Bichette--who, despite a white-hot month of June, put up poor-to-mediocre numbers the rest of the year--was also not re-signed.
From the pitching staff, the Red Sox failed to re-sign starters Hideo Nomo and David Cone, as well as the oft-injured Bret Saberhagen. Additionally, the contracts of injured pitcher Rod Beck and the "retired" Hipolito Pichardo were up.
Obviously, with the many departures, the Red Sox had numerous holes to fill, not all of which could be filled from within the Red Sox organization itself. Darren Oliver, brought in by trade, was viewed as a possible help to the bullpen core. The Red Sox still needed an outfielder to replace Carl Everett, two starting pitchers, and outfielders and infielders to fill out the bench.
Everett's role was filled by free agent Johnny Damon, who signed a multi-year contract after a somewhat subpar year in Oakland.
One starting role was filled by the free agent acquisition of John Burkett, who'd had a career renaissance in Atlanta. Duquette filled the other opening in the rotation by trading 3 minor league prospects to St. Louis for RHP Dustin Hermanson.
Front Office Moves
There were two phases to the front office moves: the Duquette/Harrington moves and the Henry/Werner/Lucchino moves.
Soon after the season ended, the Red Sox announced they would not renew the contract of hitting coach Rick Down. With the 3rd base coaching spot vacant (due to Gene Lamont's decision to follow Jimy Williams to Houston), and with Dave Jauss being moved to a director position, Kerrigan and Duquette had multiple openings to fill. Mike Cubbage was hired to coach 3rd base, and Bob Kipper was named the bullpen coach. Former Red Sox players filled the other two open positions, as Dwight Evans took over as hitting coach, and Bob Stanley took over as bench coach to Kerrigan.
The Ownership transition finally was closed on February 27th, and many changes happened as soon as this transition was made.
The day after the group took over, GM Dan Duquette was relieved of duty, replaced on an interim basis by former Duquette Assistant GM, Mike Port. A week later, the group decided to remove Joe Kerrigan, replacing him on an interim basis with Mike Cubbage, and then, on March 11th, naming former Red Sox bench coach Grady Little as permanent manager. Three days later, Pitching Coach Ralph Treuel was removed, and former Yankee pitching coach/bullpen coach Tony Cloninger was named as his replacement.
The Red Sox entered April with lots of hope and a good chance to make the playoffs. Of course, much depended on the health of the star players: Pedro Martinez was returning from shoulder trouble, Nomar Garciaparra was returning from wrist surgery, and Jason Varitek was returning from elbow surgery. In addition, a number of players came back from various minor injuries (including Manny Ramirez, Tony Clark, Rich Garces, etc.).
The schedule makers, for the second consecutive year, seemed to start the Red Sox off kindly, with a large number of games versus Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Kansas City, with only one series against a team predicted to contend (New York). And as in 2001 (in which the team went 16-9 in April), the Red Sox started out well, ending the month in first place in the AL East.
This Red Sox team, like its 2001 counterpart, pitched brilliantly. The Red Sox pitching staff combined for 5 shutouts, and 14 games where the opposition scored 4 runs or less. (The 2001 staff had 4 shutouts in April, and had 20 games where they allowed 4 runs or less.) In all 14 of these games, the Red Sox won (the 2001 team was 16-4). For the second consecutive April, a Red Sox pitcher pitched a no hitter--this time, Derek Lowe against Tampa Bay.
The offense was also brilliant, scoring 4 or more runs in 17 games (by comparison, the 2001 team did so in 13 games, in which they had a record of 10-3). The offense had two different dynamics, home run hitting (31 HR in April), and base running, with a number of hits-and-runs, and 16 stolen bases.
The biggest difference between the two teams, however, was that in 2002, the Sox won the close games. In 1-run games, the 2002 Sox went 4-1, while the 2001 Sox went only 2-5. Another difference was the lack of extra inning games; the 2002 Sox had none, while the 2001 Sox had 5 such games, with a record of 1-4.
The Red Sox had a great time on the road, going 9-2 (including winning the first eight), while having some difficulty at home, going only 7-5.
The pitching staff had a number of "heroes," including Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez, and Darren Oliver, who after a shaky first game out of the bullpen, was moved to the starting lineup due to injuries, and put up great numbers.
The offense was solid throughout, with great months from Manny, Shea, Damon, and Nomar.
- Pitcher of the Month: Derek Lowe
- Offensive Player of the Month: Manny Ramirez. Close Second: Shea Hillenbrand, who seemed to have a new approach at the plate, and was the best offensive player the first week or two.
- Dissapointments: Tony Clark. Only 2 Innings of Dustin Hermanson, who was injured in a game ultimately rained out.
- Surprises: Derek Lowe. Darren Oliver. Shea Hillenbrand. Red Sox Stealing Bases. Rey Sanchez hitting a homerun.
- 4/1 - The Red Sox lose to Toronto 12-11, despite hitting 4 home runs.
- 4/3 - Dustin Hermanson injures his groin in the second inning of a game, later postponed due to rain, versus Toronto.
- 4/5 - Red Sox win their first game of year (and first road game), 3-0 vs. Baltimore. Derek Lowe starts (except for three starts late in the 2001 season, his first since 1998), and gives up 1 hit in 7 innings.
- 4/9 - Red Sox win their first game at Fenway, 8-4 vs. Kansas City.
- 4/19 - Pedro Martinez strikes out Michael Tucker for career strikeout #2000. Red Sox defeat Kansas City 4-0.
- 4/21 - John Burkett pitches the first game of a doubleheader. The Red Sox hit 5 Homers in a 12-2 win over Kansas City.
An 8-7 win in the second game gives the Red Sox a six-game win streak (better than longest win streak of 2000), and gives the Red Sox a team record for consecutive road wins to start season (8).
- 4/26 - Carlos Baerga steals his first base of season. It is the 9th consecutive game in which the Red Sox steal a base.
- 4/27 - Derek Lowe pitches a NO HITTER in a 10-0 win over Tampa Bay. This game is also Derek's first complete game and first shutout; it's the first Red Sox no-hitter since April 4, 2001 (Hideo Nomo), and the first no-hitter in Fenway Park since September 16, 1965 (Dave Morehead).
- 4/30 - Darren Oliver pitches a complete game, shutout (his first since 8/3/99) in a 4-0 win over Baltimore. Rey Sanchez hits his first Red Sox home run, his first in 1094 ABs (April 12 2000).
By May, the questions surrounding the Red Sox concerned whether they could play as well as they did in April, given the schedule's expected increase in difficulty.
The Red Sox started off the month as hot as they could be, taking the one game winning streak at the end of April, and extending it an additional 8 games, 7 of which were on the road. After this great start, the Red Sox went into a period of alternating short win streaks (2 or 3 games) with 2 game losing streaks. The Sox ended the month on a 4 game winning streak, ending the month with a 20-8 record.
More spectacularly, the Red Sox lost only 2 road games the entire month, garnering a major league record-best road start with an away record of 21-4 to start the season.
The Red Sox continued their winning ways by being consistently good, and winning when they got good pitching (15-3 when the pitchers gave up 4 runs or fewer) or good hitting (16-1 when the offense scored 4 runs or more). They also continued winning the close games, going a combined 10-3 in games decided by 2 runs or fewer.
The offensive numbers were down from April, but were still very good. Manny Ramirez and Rey Sanchez led the Sox offense early in the month, while Brian Daubach and Nomar Garciaparra paced the offense at the end of the month. Shea Hillenbrand had another very good month as well.
The overall pitching numbers were also down, although this is explained by the poor performances of Oliver, Kim and Garces. Lowe was as good in May as he was in April, and Martinez showed flashes of dominance. Burkett and Castillo were solid in their starting roles.
The bullpen was erratic, with brilliant performances by Urbina (0.00 ERA) and Wakefield, a very solid performance by Fossum, some good appearances by Arrojo, and the aforementioned generally poor pitching from Kim and Garces.
Although the Red Sox generally avoided the injury bug, they could not escape May unscathed. During a game at Seattle, Mike Cubbage sent Manny Ramirez home from first base on a double by Hillenbrand, and Manny's headfirst slide into home plate broke his left index finger, causing him to miss half the month, as well as time in June. Rey Sanchez injured his leg late in the month, missing the final 4 games of the month. Dustin Hermanson, still recovering from his groin injury, remained on the disabled list.
- Pitcher of the Month: Tie: Lowe, Wakefield, Urbina
- Offensive Player of the Month: Tie: Garciaparra, Daubach, Sanchez
- Dissapointments: Tony Clark's offensive struggle, Manny Ramirez's injury, lack of progress on Dustin Hermanson's injury, The relatively poor home record
- Surprises: Rey Sanchez's offense, Urbina having an ERA of ZERO, only 2 losses on the Road, 10 triples in one month.
- 5/2 - Derek Lowe named Pitcher of the Month for the AL for April.
- 5/4 – Sun-Woo Kim wins first Major League Game. Red Sox defeat Tampa Bay 7-5, as Shea Hillenbrand hits a grand slam in the 9th.
- 5/5 – Frank Castillo records his 1000 strikeout (Greg Vaughn) as Sox defeat Tampa Bay 2-0.
- 5/8 - Red Sox Organization 8000th win as the Sox defeat Oakland 12-6.
- 5/10 - Red Sox lose first game of month, 7-2 to Seattle; defeat ends a 9 game winning streak.
- 5/12 - Manny Ramirez injures hand in 3rd inning on a headfirst slide into home; Red Sox lose 3-1.
- 5/14 – Trot Nixon withdraws his appeal for the bat-throwing incident on May 5. Red Sox defeat Oakland 6-2.
- 5/16 - Frank Castillo withdraws his appeal for hitting a batter with a pitch on May 5 (after the game). Sox lose to Oakland 5-0; first time this year Red Sox were shutout.
- 5/18 - Pedro Martinez stikes out first 3 Seattle Mariners on 9 pitches. Sox defeat Seattle 4-1.
- 5/22 - Rickey Henderson plays in his 3000th Game. Sox lose to the White Sox 2-0.
- 5/26 - Rey Sanchez injures leg while running out single. Sox lose to the Yankees 14-5.
- 5/27 – Bryant Nelson gets first Major League Hit (a single) in first Major League Start. Sox defeat Toronto 8-6.
- 5/29 - Rickey Henderson steals his 1400th Base. Red Sox defeat the Blue Jays 7-4.
- 5/31 - Red Sox defeat the Yankees 5-2. Win gives Red Sox a 21-4 road record, the best road start in major league history.
Most reasonable fans were somewhat apprehensive about the June schedule. The Red Sox had to play 18 games against National League teams, against which the team had historically done very poorly in interleague play. Worse, the Red Sox had to face 4 opponents from, arguably, the most difficult division in baseball (the NL West), as well as perennial playoff participant Atlanta. Fans might have expected a poorer record than the prior two months, perhaps even a .500 record for the month. But, the reality was much more horrific.
The Red Sox finished the month 5-13 vs. the NL, 3-7 at Fenway, and 1-7 in games decided by 1 run, with a total record of 10-16 in June. The Red Sox relinquished their distinction of having the best record in baseball, as well as the lead of the AL East. The Red Sox were able to hold onto the lead in the Wild Card race, but not comfortably.
Certainly, the Red Sox were a bit unlucky in the month, not only facing great pitching staffs (Atlanta: 2.96 Team ERA, LA: 3.52 Team ERA), but also facing extremely hot teams (Atlanta finished June 21-5; Los Angeles went 19-8) . However, the Red Sox had some part to play in their own misfortune. In particular, the Red Sox offense was truly offensive.
The Sox' best offensive player for the month was Nomar Garciaparra, at .300/.348/.480/.828. To put this in perspective, in every single month in 2001--a year with some truly dreadful offensive performances--the Red Sox had at least two regulars who had a higher OPS for the month than Nomar's team leading .828.
The Red Sox team offensive stats of .250/.310/.389/.700 were better than those of only one month from 2001, September (.242/.319/.376). However, there was offensive experimentation and player exploration going on in September of 2001, with players such as Calvin Pickering, Izzy Alcantara, Angel Santos, James Lofton, and Morgan Burkhart all getting considerable playing time. No such excuses existed for June 2002, and, with the offense in such doldrums, the Red Sox lost many games which should typically be won, going only 8-9 in games where the pitching staff gave up 4 or fewer runs.
Although the pitching slipped from the lofty heights of April and May, the Sox team ERA for the month was still under 4.00. Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe both pitched very well, although neither was as good as they had been in May. The bullpen, however, put up its best performance thus far this year, with an ERA under 3.50 for the pen.
Rey Sanchez, who strained his right hamstring in May, played a few games early in June, but was quite obviously still injured. The Red Sox eventually placed him on the disabled list, and he was not activated until July 11.
Rich Garces was also placed on the DL after some horrible performances, but came back later in the month. Manny Ramirez returned from his finger injury to participate in the last week of games.
Late in the month, Rolando Arrojo, who had pitched well in a starting role, was placed on the DL with shoulder discomfort.
The Red Sox also made one trade, getting Alan Embree from the San Diego Padres to shore up the bullpen.
- Pitcher of the Month: Lowe, Pedro, the bullpen (as a whole)
- Offensive Player of the Month: None
- Dissapointments: The Offense, Shea's lack of a walk, Grady Little's tactical ability, Brian Daubach being whifftastic, the home record, being swept three times.
- Surprises: Carlos Baerga leading the team in steals for the month.
- 6/4 - Shea Hillenbrand and Johnny Damon go 4-5, leading the Red Sox to victory over the Detroit Tigers 10-5. John Burkett is the winner, going to 7-0. Red Sox become first team to have two pitchers (Pedro Martinez the other) start the season 7-0 since the 1981 LA Dodgers.
- 6/9 - Red Sox lose to the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-3. First time Red Sox are swept in 2002.
- 6/10 - Derek Lowe gives up first home run of season. Red Sox defeat Colorado Rockies 7-3, ending longest losing streak (this far) of season (3 games).
- 6/12 - Juan Diaz makes major league debut, garnering his first major league hit and run scored. Red Sox beat Colorado 7-5 .
- 6/16 - Derek Lowe gets first Major League Hit, Career High in Strike Outs for a game (10) as Red Sox defeat the Atlanta Braves 6-1.
- 6/18 – Willie Banks records first Major League win in 5 years (8/1/98), as Red Sox defeat the San Diego Padres 4-2.
- 6/19 - Red Sox lose to San Diego 3-2. Red Sox fifth road loss in June, surpassing total number of road losses in April and May.
- 6/23 - Juan Diaz hits first major league home run, but Sox lose third in a row to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 9-5.
- 6/25 - Manny Ramirez and Rich Garces return from injured list and Alan Embree makes Red Sox debut, but Sox lose to Cleveland 4-2.
- 6/30 - Manny Ramirez and Shea Hillenbrand elected by fans as starters to the All Star Game. Derek Lowe, Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra chosen by Joe Torre to participate in the All-Star game. Johnny Damon nominated as one of 5 players to be the last player on the AL side for the All-Star game, to be voted on by fans.
July was a rollercoaster of emotions, jubilation, and depression as the Sox keep themselves in the playoff hunt, but barely, with a tie in the Wild Card Standings). As topsy-turvy as the month seemed, the Red Sox ended up with a winning record for the month, and only lost 2 games on the Yankees, and a mere half-game in the Wild Card race.
So, where does one start in attempting to describe what happened in July? Let's start with the streaks. The Red Sox started out the month with a 5 game sweep over the Orioles, then lost 2 of 3 to Detroit, and then came out of the All-Star break with a win quickly followed by 4 consecutive losses, which were immediately followed by 4 consecutive wins. The Sox then hit the little bumps at the end of a rollercoaster, neither winning or losing more than 2 consecutive for the rest of the month.
If that wasn't random enough, let's look at the overall pitching. 5 times in July, the Sox pitchers threw shutouts, and yet, 6 times in July the pitchers gave up 9 runs in a game. The Red Sox offense was slightly more consistent, but scored 10 or more runs as many times as they scored 2.
The starting pitching was quite good, posting an ERA of 3.38 for the month. The starting staff was led by Pedro, with his microscopic 0.64 ERA and 5 wins for the month, followed by Derek Lowe with his sub 2.50 ERA in 5 starts, Tim Wakefield with his sub 2.50 ERA in 3 starts, and John Burkett with a comfortable 3.44 ERA in 5 starts, There were 3 sources of bad starting pitching in the month, Frank Castillo and Rolando Arrojo, both of whom were demoted to bullpen duty as the month ended, and Sun Woo Kim, who was in a different uniform at the end of the month. Each had ERAs over 7.00 for the month.
The bullpen, on the other hand, was less than comfortable. Closer Ugueth Urbina had 3 blown saves and losses, and a 6.75 ERA. Tim Wakefield in his 7 relief appearances had an ERA of 6.61, and Wayne Gomes completed the trio of pitchers with 6.00 ERAs, as he hit the magic number of 6.00 in his 8 appearances prior to being sent back to Pawtucket. So, who did lead the Red Sox to a somewhat misleading 4.38 bullpen ERA? None other than the much-maligned Willie Banks with his 1.59 ERA, and the only pitcher in the bullpen with a sub 1.00 WHIP for the month. Also of note, the two demoted starters each had ERA's under 2.00 in limited time, as did Rich Garces, who was released at the end of the month.
As with the pitching, the hitting was a blend of good, bad and mediocre. Trot Nixon led the charge, being the only regular climbing above the 1.000 OPS barrier for the month, thanks to 21 of his 29 hits for the month going for extra bases. Jason Varitek also erupted with his .968 OPS, with his team high .433 OBP for the month, Brian Daubach being the only other regular to have an OBP over .400 (.416) leading to his OPS of .945, and Manny Ramirez came back with a .958 OPS, and led the team in home runs for the month with his 8. On the other hand, Nomar was mediocre compared to his usual self, slipping just under the 800 OPS barrier for the month; Johnny Damon started the month hot (Over 1.000 OPS pre-ASB), but slipped to a mediocre .738 OPS for the month; and Shea Hillenbrand kept his head above 700 OPS for the month, but barely with a .705 OPS. On the ugly side, Rey Sanchez came back from injury, and was an offensive black hole, with both his Slugging and his OBP under .250.
The Sox did make two significant trades at the deadline, picking up Outfielder Cliff Floyd from Montreal and Relief Pitcher Bobby Howry from the White Sox. Hopefully these reinforcements can pay dividends immediately as August will truly be the dog-days, as the Sox play only 9 games against teams out of the playoff hunt.
- Pitcher of the Month: Pedro Martinez
- Offensive Player of the Month: Trot Nixon
- Dissapointments: Frank Castillo, Ugueth Urbina, Dustin Hermanson getting injured (again), Rey Sanchez's offense (.481 OPS)
- Surprises: Shea unintentionally walking - Twice!, John Burkett's complete game shutout, Grady Little getting ejected from a game.
- 7/1 - Frank Castillo drops the appeal of his five-game suspension, Pedro Martinez declines invite to All Star Game. Red Sox and Pedro defeat Toronto 4-0
- 7/2 - Johnny Damon elected by fans as the "30th Man" for the AL in the All Star Game. Sox win both ends of a doubleheader over Toronto.
- 7/3 - Ugueth Urbina named as All-Star replacement player, replacing Pedro Martinez. Sox defeat Toronto 5-2
- 7/8 - Derek Lowe named American League Starter for the All Star Game.
- 7/11 - Manny Ramirez hits first homerun since going on the DL as the Sox win over Toronto 10-3
- 7/20 - Dustin Hermanson pitches first "official" inning as a member of the Red Sox, Sox lose to the Yankees 9-8 in 11 innings.
- 7/21 - Red Sox hit a total of 5 homeruns, Manny and Nomar both hitting two, but Sox lose the the Yankees for the second consecutive game 9-8
- 7/23 - Nomar Garciaparra hits 3 homeruns and collects 8 RBIs on his birthday, Manny adds 2 more homeruns, and the Sox as a team hit 7 homeruns, as the Sox defeat the Devil Rays 22-4 in the first game of a doubleheader. Sox lose the second game 5-4, thus splitting a doubleheader for the first time this year. Frustratingly, the Red Sox score 26 unanswered runs (the last 22 in Game 1 and the first 4 in Game 2) and yet garner only a split.
- 7/27 - John Burkett pitches a complete game shutout, as the Red Sox defeat Baltimore 4-0.
- 7/30 - Pedro Martinez and Ugueth Urbina combine to shutout the Angels 6-0. The pitchers combine to give up only 2 hits, and face one batter over the minimum.
A month filled with the possibility of great movement in the playoff race resulted in exactly that, only the movement was downward.
The Red Sox played with the nature of a schizophrenic, not allowing for any great highs or consistent lows. The Red Sox never lost more than 2 games in a row, but never won more than 3 in a row. The Red Sox ended with losing records on the road and at home, and with one exception, the Red Sox played all the opponents of this month within one game of .500.
Of course, this is not surprising by looking their runs scored, as the Sox scored over 10 runs more times than they scored between 5-9 runs. They also were shutout a total of 4 times, more times than the Red Sox had been shutout in all the previous months of this year.
The individual offensive numbers were also all over the map. The offense was led by Manny Ramirez and his 1.110 OPS, but the newly acquired Cliff Floyd and Nomar Garciaparra also had OPS's over .900. On the other hand, Jason Varitek barely made it over a .500 OPS, and Brian Daubach and Rey Sanchez both had OPS's under .650.
The starting pitching was quite good this month with the exception of John Burkett, as all pitchers other than John had ERAs under 4.00, with Wakefield and Lowe under 3.00, and Pedro under 2.00
The bullpen, on the other hand, was a mess. Only Alan Embree and Ugueth Urbina could accomplish ERAs as low as 3.00, and WHIPs as low as 1.00. Bobby Howry was the most used pitcher from the bullpen, and he ended with an ERA just under 6.00, while allowing the majority of inherited runners to score. The bullpen as a whole let half of their inherited runners score.
The Red Sox lost ground in both the Wildcard race and the AL East race, and have to go on a long winning streak in September, and have a little help, in order to get to the playoffs.
- Pitcher of the Month: Pedro Martinez
- Offensive Player of the Month: Manny Ramirez
- Dissapointments: John Burkett (the only BAD starter), The Bullpen, Varitek's offense, The lack of steals (and steal attempts)
- Surprises: Lou Merloni's power surge (in limited time), The consistent excellence from the starters, Doug Mirabelli going nearly the entire month hitless.
- 8/1 - Cliff Floyd (2-3, 2 Doubles, 2 Walks) and Bobby Howry (1 IP, 1 R, 1HR) make thier Red Sox debut. Sox lose to Texas 19-7
- 8/2 - Pedro Martinez named AL Pitcher of the Month for July. Red Sox defeat Texas 13-0... the Sox 15th Shutout of the season, most since 1978.
- 8/3 - Johnny Damon hits a Homerun in his third consecutive game, his personal high. The Sox, however, lose to Texas 8-6
- 8/8 - The Oakland A's score a run off of Derek Lowe, breaking a 29 inning scoreless streak for Derek. Red Sox win 4-2
- 8/11 - Tim Wakefield wins career game #100, as the Red Sox defeat the Minnesota Twins 3-1
- 8/16 - Minnesota scores a run in the 5th inning, ending Pedro Martinez's 35 inning scoreless streak. Red Sox only manage 2 hits and lose to the Twins 5-0
- 8/22 - Manny Ramirez collects career RBI 1000, and Dustin Hermanson collects his first win as a member of the Red Sox, as the Sox defeat Texas 12-3
- 8/26 - Manny Ramirez hits his 300th Career Homerun, as he goes 5-5 (with 2 HRs), as the Sox defeat the Angels 10-9 in 10 innings.
September.... by far the toughest month to write about. What can be said... the Red Sox failed to make the playoffs. That is the big story.
Obviously, going 18-11 in a month isn't really a bad month. But, the Sox continued their horrible record in one run ball games, and continued to be, at best, mediocre at home (with yet another .500 record for the month).
The pitching was the bright part of the month. The starting pitching put up their second best ERA of the year (best was April), the 4th month they had an ERA of 3.40 or lower, and the 5th month they had an ERA under 4.00. Not to be outdone, the Bullpen put up thier best performance of the year (with a 3.45 ERA). Combined, the Sox pitching staff had thier best monthly ERA for a month at 3.29. Special Kudos go out to Tim Wakefield, John Burkett and Pedro Martinez, each of whom had ERAs under 3.00 for the month. Kudos also go to Josh Hancock, Frank Castillo, Willie Banks and Ugueth Urbina, each of whom had ERAs under 2.00 out of the bullpen.
Unfortunately, while the Sox staff was able to keep the opposition from scoring more than 4 runs 20 times... the Sox were only able to win 17 of the games. More unfortunately, when the Red Sox failed to keep the opposition under that 4 run limit, they could only win one game.
The offense on the other hand put up their second worse month (by OPS) for the season. But, unlike June (the worst month), there were 4 players who were able to put up good OPSes. Manny Ramirez led the way with his best month of the year (1.263 OPS), and Nomar, Cliff and Brian Daubach each had OPSes of .879 or more. Oddly, the Red Sox did score 4 runs or more 21 times, but consistently on the lower end of the scale (7 times scoring only 4, 6 times scoring 6). The Red Sox offense wasn't as explosive as in previous months, only scoring in double digits 3 times. However, the Red Sox were quite good at winning games when they did get 4 runs or more... going 17-4. (4-3 when scoring only 4, 13-1 otherwise). But, like the pitching side of the story, the Sox could only win once when the team did not reach that goal.
Usually in September, we can talk about the callups. In some ways, it comes as a relief that there isn't much to talk about... the only player with extensive use after the callups was Wayne Gomes... hardly a new players on the scene. Neither Hancock or Freddy Sanchez, the two real prospects who came up, had enough time up to distinguish themselves. Luckily, neither seemed to be overwhelmed in limited appearances either.
Of the dissapointments, Grady Little is on the top of the list. Placing the AAA lineup out in the second game of a doubleheader on 9/17 should be a fireable offense... especially considering the Sox where not yet out of the race. Players did dissapoint... but not in any spectacular way. Of special note was the second consecutive poor month by Jason Varitek.
- Pitcher of the Month: Tim Wakefield
- Offensive Player of the Month: Manny Ramirez
- Dissapointments: Not making the playoffs...; The offense as a whole; The .600 club of Sanchez, Hillenbrand and Varitek; Dustin Hermanson; "Everyday" Wayne Gomes
- Surprises: The Pitching Staff (as a whole), Rickey Henderson failing to get a hit
- 9/2 Nomar gets 1000 hit of career.
- 9/6 Benny Agbayani makes Sox debut, 2-4, 3 RBI
- 9/10 Freddy Sanchez makes Major league debut, getting first ML hit and First 2 ML RBIs, Josh Hancock makes Major League debut, pitching 1 scoreless inning.
- 9/25 Red Sox lose to the Chicago White Sox 7-2, eliminating them from playoff consideration.
- 9/26 Josh Hancock makes first Major League Start
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