A handful of miscellaneous observations, some thought through, others not.
1. At what point is JT Snow no longer useful? Kevin Youkilis has acquitted himself more than adequately at first base. In fact, I’d venture to say that he’s been downright fantastic in the games I have watched. And it doesn’t look like Youk is going to have to head over to third to relieve a washed-up Lowell if the first 20 games are any indication. If Snow is basically a late-inning defensive replacement but his defense is not really needed, wouldn’t the Red Sox be better off filling that roster spot with a player who can juggle multiple positions?
2. I have been doing my best here at the site to avoid getting on Francona for little things that bug me; he’s obviously done some great things with the Sox over the past three years, and it’s been a long while since I even bothered wondering what the Red Sox would do without him at the helm. But last night’s game combined with Friday’s hack managerial effort along with the consistently poor fundamental baseball the Sox have been playing all year, all these things are starting to make me wonder what the heck he’s doing with this team, whether he teaches them, or if he’s just a good "people person" with solid if not spectacular tactical skills and not much else – not every manager is an instructor, and I think Francona is one of those guys. Last night he may have risked a fair amount of the season by letting Curt throw 133 pitches on a frigid night, acceding to Schilling’s ego at the possible expense of the long-term success of the team. There’s not likely anyone out there who could do a better job at this point, but it seems like the Sox do too many things poorly to not have legitimate right to ask the question about who is responsible for teaching them, giving them the absolute best chance to win. I am not asking for his head, but I think there are several legitimate questions to be asked about Francona.
3. It sure looks like we don’t have to worry too much about Manny.
4. The idea of a Schilling-Clemens-Beckett top 3 is almost too much to fathom. Only really embittered Sox fans don’t welcome the possible return of the prodigal son. No guarantees with anything in baseball, but that starting rotation would be, on paper (and, if Curt and Josh can keep it up and stay healthy) fearsome. The team obviously could use some more consistency at the bottom of the rotation, and having Wake and/or Clement and/or Wells down there fits that bill. And now that both John and George are dead, I figure the best possible reunion out there has got to be Roger and the Sox.
5. Why does Willie Harris have a major league job? Even as weakly as Adam Stern hit he inspired more confidence at the plate than Harris. And how little confidence does Francona have in WMP that he wouldn’t put him up last night in the 7th inning with an insurance run standing 90 feet away? I realize Pena strikes out a ton, but Harris is a horrendous hitter, unable to even get bunts down in important situations last night. The argument that Harris is a better defender was betrayed by the liner he dropped in the 8th (unjustly scored a hit), leading to a run.
6. 5 days until Sox-Yankees – I think Johnny Damon gets cheered, with the boos sounding louder than they really are — the ensuing WFAN blowout of Yankee fan rage against us "classless" Bostonians will be both boring, predictable, and deafening. For the record, if I were there I’d have no good reason not to salute the man. At least in his first at-bat.