Monday, July 16

How Much Can You Bench?

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. How are the Boston Red Sox like the U.S Supreme Court? In both cases, Jose doesn’t like who is on the bench.

We’re more than half way through the season now, and a bench that was supposed to be a strength of this team is emerging as a glaring weakness. Never was it more obvious than yesterday afternoon when Jose was forced to watch Doug Mirabelli bat with the game on the line because Jason Varitek had a sore thumb. Now, obviously Jose is not suggesting that the Red Sox carry three catchers; two is fine, as long as one of them isn’t Doug Mirabelli. Don’t we still have Carlton Fiske on the payroll? He could probably out hit Dougie these days. Does John Henry have a son? If he does, we could try the Marc Sullivan approach. (Note: Can we get a police escort to speed Mirabelli back to Logan Airport?)

But catcher is not the only problem. We have, in Wily Mo Pena, a player whose greatest asset is that he has an awesome name. Sure, if he ever got regular at bats he could do some damage, but, as he was born to DH, that’s never going to happen on this team. And Eric Hinske is just as big a problem. Sure, he can play four positions… poorly… But is below average defense all over the diamond really worth carrying a pinch hitter who can’t pinch hit? Sadly, both Wily Mo and Hinske appear to be the sorts of players who can hit respectably (note: well, tolerably) when playing every day, but not at all when cold off the bench. Is there almost any situation wherein you’d like to see one of our starters pinch hit for? Nope, and it’s not because our starters are so great.

The only bright spot on the bench is “The Coral Axe,” Alex Cora, who has the rare distinction of being an elite bench player on this squad by virtue of not being below average. He’s fine. Not great, but fine, and Jose is perfectly happy to have him as a utility man.

So the bench situation is grim. But perhaps Jose has not yet explained it in a properly KEYS-style manner. So far, what he’s written seems downright analytical. Not with numbers and stats and all, but in the sense that he’s talking about the merits and deficits of each player on the bench, rather than comparing them each to a general in the Boer War or a brand of anisette liqueur. So let’s remedy that by indulging in some of Jose’s famous secondary analysis. Let’s compare the bench to… let’s see… a bench.

The 2004 bench would be the gold standard of benches, a classic mahogany piano bench, lovingly hand-lacquered by Trappist monks—the sort of place where a virtuoso might sit in order to bring ancient concertos of rare beauty to life. At the other end of the spectrum would be 2000 Red Sox bench, which included Andy Sheets, Ed Sprague, Mike Lansing and ‘roid freak Manny Alexander. The bench was so bad that the best bench option would have been either Mike Stanley, who complemented his .222 batting average with 10 home runs or Lou Merloni, who was, well, mocked by Ben Affleck. That bench would have been like a public bench in a bad part of town. Not only is it slathered in graffiti, not only is its low-grade wood splintered and weak, but there is a big pile of dog excrement on it.

That leaves this year’s bench somewhere in between. Jose would compare it to a public bench in the heart of downtown. At first glance, it looks okay. It’s shiny, it’s more or less clean, there are no obvious spills on it. But when you get closer, you notice that there’s a homeless drug addict on the bench swigging from a bottle of Old Mr. Boston vodka. Could you sit on the bench? Sure you could, if you had a leg problem and absolutely needed a break. But would you want to sit on the bench? No, not unless it was absolutely necessary. And that’s how it is with the 2007 Red Sox. Can you go to the postseason with this bench? Sure, you could, but you probably don’t want to. And just like when you sit next to the drug addict, if you go ahead and use this bench, there is a pretty good chance that you are going to get beaten.

2. You know what’s missing from this year’s Red Sox? A good gimmick. Hell, even a bad gimmick. Or a nickname. Something like that. The 2003 Red Sox had “Cowboy Up.” The 2004 Championship squad was the band of idiots. But what have we had since then? Not a whole heck of a lot, and Jose thinks that if we want this team to really gel, we need something.

A few ideas:
  • KEC-- (Note: Which stands for the Kosovo Electric Company)—Because power outages are a major problem. (Note: Ever since Jose was in Kosovo, anytime something doesn’t work, he explains the problem as “No KEC.” For instance, if a flashlight has a dead battery the problem is no KEC.)
  • The Gulag Archipelago—They have lots of people from islands (note: Dominican, Japan, though the DR is not an archipelago), and as in the gulag, no one has any idea what tomorrow is going to bring.
  • The British Bulldogs—No reason, they were just an awesome tag team.
  • The Partridge Family—Every time Jose looks at the standings he thinks he loves you. But then he sees a game like yesterday’s 2-1 loss to the BJays, and wonder’s, so what is he so afraid of.

3. Do you think the British Army would send Gil Meche to Iraq or would the fact that he’s a Royal make him too much of a target?

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

KEK is correct, not KEC.