‘Dumb Like a Fox’

That’s how I feel this morning, having witnessed another crappy — there’s really no other word for it — display by the Red Sox last night. I don’t know how being "dumb like a fox" is supposed to feel, but I imagine it leaves you somewhat fuzzy, seeking clarity, almost grasping it, then having it slip away from you again.

What are we to think of this West Coast-ish road trip, which featured a hideously scheduled game immediately following an ESPN Sunday Night game versus the Yankees? Strangely, the Sox showed more fight in that game than they did the rest of the series.

The starting pitching continued to shine, with each starter getting at least one quality start. The Sox allowed more than four runs just twice in seven games, the opening and closing games of the series. The bullpen also was terrific, giving up five runs (just one earned) the whole trip, and all those runs also came in the opening and closing games of the series.

But.

Terry Francona has to stop batting Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp at the top of the order any time one of the big bats is out. Their OPS+ combined is 110. Together, they do not even equal any one of six of the other seven batters in the lineup, and soon that may be all seven: J.D. Drew is up to a 90 OPS+. Putting them in front of the remaining big batters makes an already weakened lineup even worse, wasting the strong bottom-lineup performance of Jason Varitek and Dustin Pedroia and assuring that the bases will be empty next inning for Ortiz and Ramirez. I think it’s time for a Youkilis-Pedroia 1-2, with Lowell fifth, Varitek sixth, Drew seventh until he turns it around and Los Vacios safely at the bottom of the lineup, receiving the fewest plate appearances.

Even with the gaudy season numbers from the Sox’ lineup (two-thirds at least 10 percent above league average production), the numbers this series, as gone over in the Globe, were pathetic. Three runs or less in every game but two.

What to make of this trip? I honestly don’t know. The first three games were terrible, but the Schilling-Beckett combo put a stop to that. The offense, particularly Drew and Varitek, showed signs of life against the Diamondbacks, but no one could manage anything off Johnson. Was the Johnson game a fluke, or were the two preceding wins that actually showed some life? Is this lineup showing that it truly is, as Pete Abraham so controversially stated, a house of cards? Or did a tired team just run into two teams with good pitchers on hot streaks? I’ll let you decide, and leave you with this excellent, albeit random, quote from Julian Tavarez.

People look at you as a clown, dumb and stupid. People, fans, players, teammates look at you as a clown, as stupid, as a dummy who always does something to make people laugh. They don’t admit the truth and say, ‘You know what, the guy who is stupid and a dummy, he’s going to make something happen to win. Pain is nothing to him. He’ll do something to find a way to win.’ And that’s me. Dumb like a fox.

36 comments… add one
  • Paul – I have a sinking feeling in my stomach after this trip but I’m trying to convince myself that baseball’s just like that and you have to expect some rough patches. We weren’t going to finish at .700, right? There are more struggling teams to play than hot teams so we should be ablet o turn it around… right??

    rootbeerfloat June 11, 2007, 1:12 pm
  • 40-22 > 30-31.

    jp-sf June 11, 2007, 1:26 pm
  • jp, where were you when they finished 3rd last year? Thanks!

    Lar June 11, 2007, 1:28 pm
  • A bit chippy today, Lar?
    RBF, they’re OK. If a 3-4 road trip or a 4-5 stretch of nine games is truly the worst slump of the year, then this will be an awesome season.

    Paul SF June 11, 2007, 1:36 pm
  • I tend to fear that the usage of Crisp and Lugo will be Millar-2005-suckathon-redux, but even worse–now there are two of them! And Millar wasn’t OPSing .600 as far as I remember–he still got walks pretty well, and an occasional single. I kind of like the idea of a platoon of WMP and Coco in which WMP starts and Coco is the late-inning defensive caddy, although I bet Coco would be upset with being stuffed into a Dave Roberts role.

    Froggywomp June 11, 2007, 1:42 pm
  • Um, I wasn’t here…I just found this site this year. Although, I did take my lumps just like you are now. But I think that all Yankees fans should refrain from talking smack until they’re over .500. Thanks!!

    jp-sf June 11, 2007, 1:53 pm
  • This will be a tell all week for this race. The Yankees have Webb, Hernandez, Doug Davis. The Sox have Josh Fogg, Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook. Before I drink the we are back kool aid, I want to see how this week goes.

    John - YF (Trisk) June 11, 2007, 2:01 pm
  • Trisk, as always, you are the voice of reason. :)

    jp-sf June 11, 2007, 2:06 pm
  • Let me know what’s the point of jp’s comment other than trolling then!

    Lar June 11, 2007, 2:23 pm
  • It’s not trolling, it’s just stating a fact. 40-22 IS better than 30-31. Nothing trollish about that, especially when it’s a response to an ‘uh-oh’ post about the Red Sox. They still have massive amounts of room for error.
    With CoCo Chanel and El Vacio mainstays in the lineup, and a manager who thinks Papelbon is an injury-risk every time he uses him, I think they’ll stretch out their legs a bit.

    AndrewYF June 11, 2007, 2:27 pm
  • Actually, I was pointing out to the Red Sox brethren here that, although last week was a bad week, we need to keep the season in perspective. If you took it as trolling, that would be a “your problem” not a “my problem.”

    jp-sf June 11, 2007, 2:28 pm
  • Lar, I think you we’re being a little hyper sensitive, that wasn’t trolling at all.

    LocklandSF June 11, 2007, 3:51 pm
  • lar, we yf’s deserve to get our noses rubbed in it…for the first 50-60 games of the season, we have looked like chumps, unable to keep up with the hot streaks posted by the red sox…i hope the sox fans are as good sports when/if the worm turns, and we get a chance to needle them…that’s where there’s a not so subtle irony with lockland calling you “hyper sensitive”…downright funny really…now there’s no reason not to believe the yanks will cool right down, the red sox pull it back together, and we’re back to 14.5 in another week or so….or, we continue to chip away, eroding the lead over a long period of time, say a couple of months…so, it’s not unreasonable to have expected exactly what’s happening…the yanks playing better and the sox cooling off some, and that’s exactly what has the sf’s so worried, and edgy…i don’t expect the sox to collapse completely, they’re too good, but the yanks could sneak up on them, or possibly back-in to the playoffs as the wildcard, and wreak some havoc that way…thank God for the wild card…it’s been a real boon to some teams since turning the post-season into what has become essentially a tournament with the hottest team coming out on top…we just have to hope the yanks are the hottest team at that time…they haven’t been for the last 7 years…

    dc June 11, 2007, 4:12 pm
  • So DC and other YFs that love to make this point over and over as they attack the wild card, since you all seem to feel this way, does that mean that if the Yankee won the WS with the wild card that it would be just luck, not to mention meaningless, because you know, it doesn’t count and the post season is just crap shoot now with the wild card?

    LocklandSF June 11, 2007, 4:52 pm
  • i didn’t use the words “luck” or “crap shoot”, and i wasn’t “attacking” the wild card…i never said that wild card winners didn’t deserve it…fact is though that it has changed the game, and has diminished somewhat the importance of winning the division…that’s the reason sox fans have busted yank fans over winning the division but not advancing…the yanks haven’t been playing well in the post season after dominating the regular season, so they have little to show for it but al east bragging rights…big deal…i don’t believe in luck, i’ve said that before…if the yanks get in as the wild card after looking so terribly so far, and end up being hot enough during the couple weeks of the “tournament” to actually win it, i’d laugh my tushy off….

    dc June 11, 2007, 5:06 pm
  • I am not quite sure what your point is Lockland. Coming into the season I think most people would have agreed that the Yankees and Red Sox were fairly even on paper. So IF the Yankees were to make the playoffs and IF they were to win the WS, no it wouldn’t be luck.
    I would imagine though that’s a far off thought for most fans. For me I am just glad they are starting to play to their potential. Playoffs, Pennants, etc…those are all far off topics.

    John - YF (Trisk) June 11, 2007, 5:08 pm
  • My point is, Yankee fans love to make little passive aggressive attacks at the wild card, which is what I still think dc was doing, despite his clarification, that being said, any post season success for the Yankees via the wild card would of course not be valid in a Yankee fan’s mind, assuming they aren’t all total hypocrites.

    LocklandSF June 11, 2007, 5:15 pm
  • I own up to being an idiot, by the way. For some reason, I totally thought this was in the other Yankee thread, and not a Sox thread. My bads.

    Lar June 11, 2007, 5:32 pm
  • Apologies in advance for a sort-of hijack, but I’ve often wondered whether WC teams tend to do well in the postseason not only because of the hotness factor but also that the postseason is a different enough environment that a suboptimal regular season team may be an optimal postseason team, and vice versa.
    BP has published articles about how pitching (SP K-rate and closer quality) and defensive efficiency are the best predictors of postseason success; note the absence of any offensive measure, which of course is very important in the regular season.
    I actually think this amounts to an argument against the wild card–the best team should be the one that wins in both the regular and post season.
    And yes, as a SF this makes me a little uncomfortable looking back at 2004.

    Froggywomp June 11, 2007, 5:37 pm
  • Thanks for clearing up your position, Lockland; I was a bit fuzzy about your point as well. Yes, there’s a certain amount of luck involved in post-season play. No, a team getting in by the wildcard does not devalue any accomplishments by that team in the post-season, though I suppose there are some that still might make that argument, and many have ever since divisional play began. I suppose that some may say that the original notion of pennant winner vs. pennant winner was what the baseball gods originally intended, but the current system is fine by me. Is this about ’04? My position, and many other people’s positions with whom I concur is that the Yankees’ current AL East victory streak is a nice sidebar to a regular-season objective (which is to make the playoffs) but has nothing to do with the final objective of winning the World Series other than being a necessary step to the goal and possibly affording a _slightly_ better chance based on home field for at least one series depending on record.
    All I know is that watching the Yankee’s little tear has been a nice respite from weeks of agonizing; winning more games than losing is obviously more palatable. However, since starting this streak in the last game of May against Toronoto, Yank pitchers are still giving up 4.7 runs per game and this is with the effect of playing the likes of the ChiSox and Bucs, the worst and 4th worst run-creators in their respective leagues. I’m enjoying the moment; there’s no need for me to go hitching carts up in front of horses and start dreaming about divine victory streaks and a Bostonian collapse. One look at the pitching roster tells me that down that road leads madness. No thanks, I’ll just take Tuesday’s game against Arizona and be happy with that before moving on to Wednesday, etc.

    attackgerbil June 11, 2007, 5:37 pm
  • Toronoto? No wonder they are winning. They are playing make-believe teams from fantasy land. Gah. *must remember to preview*

    attackgerbil June 11, 2007, 5:38 pm
  • And upon a third reading of my comment, the only part that is somewhat relevant to this thread is the question about ’04. I should have posted this in YF’s 11th day thread. Objection, your honor: Lockland is leading the witness. ;)

    attackgerbil June 11, 2007, 6:08 pm
  • My contention is that there is a certain amount of luck in all baseball, period, there is also a certain amount of luck in a 4 team post-season, as of course there is in an 8 team post-season. I’m just not sold on the fact that the 8 team system is really that much more reliant on luck.

    LocklandSF June 11, 2007, 6:09 pm
  • Overruled!!
    ;-)

    LocklandSF June 11, 2007, 6:10 pm
  • As a Yankee fan, let me say that Daisuck is ruining my fantasy baseball team with his 4.52 ERA. I thought he was supposed to be Bob Gibson, Bob Feller, Walter Johnson and Tom Seaver (in their primes) all rolled into one.

    JS June 11, 2007, 6:34 pm
  • Lockland, yeah, I don’t much care for attributing too much of what happens to luck or other mystic quantities, nor do I care much for the thought statistically better teams “deserve” to win. I do think that the shorter series of the ALDS gives a somewhat better chance for a team to avoid probabilities, but the same is true for any series of any length. Probability is based on past performance, not on the “now”. It’s why we play the games blah blah. gerbil falls into the pit of truisms. Throw him a rope. Watch him hang himself with it.
    JS: At least you didn’t draft Kei.

    attackgerbil June 11, 2007, 6:42 pm
  • Id say luck in the 8-team system plays more of a role in the first round of the playoffs than the subsequent two rounds. A team with a few lucky bounces can win a series they might not have. The yanks themselves have benefitted from this. That said, any team that wins it all will require a few lucky bounces, etc (or some pine tar on a SPs palm) throughout the month of October. Its just how this game works…

    sam YF June 11, 2007, 6:44 pm
  • my prior comments stand…rock solid…you ought to read ’em again before responding…the only thing i need to respond to is the rather annoying habit some sf’s have for telling me what i said, how i think, and how i should feel…lockland is starting to sound like my ex-wife…
    truthfully lockland, i’d be happy if the yanks win another world series someday [within the rules], whether they win the division, as a wild card, with a coin flip, spending the most money, whatever the rules are…after all isn’t that all we yankee fans care about?…the rest of it [baseball in general] doesn’t matter, right?… ;)

    dc June 11, 2007, 6:57 pm
  • I have to say that i haven’t heard too many YFs disparage the wild card over the years. Sure we are happy that our team has won the AL east for many years but I can assure you that everyone of us would have changed places with you guys in 2004. A win is a win is a win. As DC said, id take any path to get the yanks to the series…

    sam YF June 11, 2007, 7:19 pm
  • > [within the rules]
    That’s interesting to me, dc, as I think that everybody cheats. It’s only a matter of interpretation, degrees, and result. From my perspective, baseball has always possessed a certain “moral flexibility”, for lack of a better term, that blows with the wind gauge.

    attackgerbil June 11, 2007, 7:22 pm
  • One thing I think we can all agree on is that days without a Sox game OR a Yanks game seem 65 hours long….

    Anonymous June 11, 2007, 8:39 pm
  • >seems 65 hours
    Yes, that’s true. I’ve had a life-long debate whether that’s good or bad.

    attackgerbil June 11, 2007, 9:23 pm
  • ag, nice pickup…not sure what i meant totally by the “within the rules” qualifier…mostly, i’d like to see the end of the banned substances allegations [even if it means we jettison giambi, ala sheffield…funny that folks haven’t raised the sheffield red flag given his latest success…i guess they only thought he was a cheater while on the yanks]…frankly, i’m tired of the pettiness that infiltrates the discussion from time to time, including the cheating excuses [see arod]…until they consistently enforce the rules for head-hunting, going outside the baseline to clobber an infielder, doctoring the baseball, framing pitches [more about poor umpire judgement than a rules violation], illegal use of pine tar [by both pitchers and hitters], batters standing outside the batters box, stealing signs, first basemen cheating the bag, cheating the bag at second on a double play, blah, blah, blah, then, well, it all remains part of the game…zzzzzzzzzzzzz

    dc June 11, 2007, 9:46 pm
  • excellent illustration of where the rules get bent, dc.

    attackgerbil June 11, 2007, 11:05 pm
  • Ugh. We’ve been over the wild card discussion so many times. On this topic, DC has a history of bringing up the 2004 WC entrance as a “point of fact,” then backpedaling swiftly and accusing SFs of being oversensitivie when they call him on it.
    The following thread is particularly instructive, though actually the THIRD time the subject has been brought up since the beginning of the 2006 season — http://yanksfansoxfan.typepad.com/ysfs/2007/01/one_long_offsea.html
    . you guys hate this one, and i know one of you will clobber me, but here goes…more than anything you mentioned, a rule change, the wild card, allowed you to go to those playoffs and win that ws…i’m not saying you didn’t deserve it, you had a great team and you did what you had to do…in some ways the wild card and an extra layer of playoffs makes it tougher, but the fact remains, without it, we’re not having this conversation… …
    Posted by: dc | Friday, January 26, 2007 at 08:51 AM

    It is a relevant fact that points directly to the reality that repeatedly, over the long haul of an entire season, the Sox did not compile the best record in the division. Pre-Wild Card, the penalty would have been missing the post-season and all the recognition and opportunities that come with it.
    No doubt that the bar for regular season success has been lowered since the Wild Card came into play. And many franchises, including the Sox, have benefited from it – which was the whole idea to begin with.
    Posted by: lp | Friday, January 26, 2007 at 11:21 AM

    sf, i’m guilty…a little of it was to needle, just like you guys needle about arod’s chokes, yankees spending, jeter sucks, blah, blah, blah..
    Posted by: dc | Friday, January 26, 2007 at 11:26 AM

    To his credit, DC every time says he thinks the Wild Card is a good thing and rcognizes the Yanks might need it to reach the playoffs some day. But there is a history of using the Wild Card entry to at least “needle” SFs. LP appears to take needling to the next step, as he so often did when he visited these boards, and downright discredits the Sox’ entry via Wild Card. I, too, would be curious whether he’d be so willing to “simply state facts” by noting the means by which the Yankees entered the playoffs were they to win the Series this season via the Wild Card.
    DC, your pitch-framing note leads me to wonder whether the culture of baseball so encourages bending the rules — where you’re basically lying about where the pitch ended up in the hopes of getting a better call than you deserve, and if you’re especially good at it, you’re lauded — that it leads players to more easily embrace “worse” forms of cheating, i.e. a slope that runs from pine tar to scuffing balls to corking bats to taking steroids.

    Paul SF June 12, 2007, 12:07 am
  • paul, i think you just sort of complimented my honesty and objectivity, so thanks, but i’m not sure about what you mean by “backpedaling”…i’ve been consistent with my views right along, admitted when i’m needling, and repented over the whole sensitivity issue, an allegation i promised sf i’d never make again [except in a moment of weakness…i am human even if i’m also a yf]…
    the only reason the wc topic has come up again [you can blame me] is because that seems to be the yankees best [perhaps only] chance to make it into the playoffs…but like i’ve said before, without the wc rule, the yanks aren’t even in the discussion…hopefully they make it into the tournament and get hot like some of the previous wc teams…that’s not meant to be controversial, simply a matter of fact…when i said that i’d get a kick out of a scenario that had someone else winning the division with the yanks winning the series as a wild card, i meant it, and would embrace it as much as one of their runaway wins…the irony would be tasty…

    dc June 12, 2007, 2:36 am

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