Yesterday's trade of Richard Seymour by the Patriots certainly caught me off guard. However, considering the salary cap and the contracts of players that expire after this year, the move makes sense. The Patriots will received a first round pick from the Raiders, and it will likely be a high pick. Seymour, while good, has not been a dominant player for a few years now. When was the last time he took over a game and terrorized an opponent's backfield?
The wheels are quickly coming off the Jason Varitek bandwagon. The Captain's batting average has dropped from .233 to .217 since the Victor Martinez acquisition and pitchers such as Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have had some great starts with Martinez behind the plate. Making matters worse is the success John Smoltz and Brad Penny have had during their brief tenure in the NL this season after being released by the Red Sox. Both were primarily caught by Varitek. Smoltz was said to be tipping his pitches and Penny praised Giants catcher Eli Whitside for his pitch selection after Penny tossed 8 scoreless innings in his first outing with the Giants. Toss in Daisuke Matsuzaka's struggles this year and Varitek's reputation as a stellar handler of pitchers has taken a big hit. What exactly is his value to the Red Sox at this point?
Victor Martinez batting third for the Red Sox has really given the lineup the depth it needed. J.D. Drew bats 8th when Martinez plays and Mike Lowell has been scorching the ball at the plate. Considering Tim Wakefield's balky lower back, the Red Sox need to ratchet up the offense, because the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation is in bad shape.
The Red Sox are going to have to throw Daisuke Matsuzaka out there and see what happens. This season has been a wash out for Dice K, but what other choice do they have? Junichi Tazawa has proven he isn't ready to be a full time major leaguer, Tim Wakefield has a bad lower back and has a history of being a lousy postseason pitcher. Paul Byrd is not the answer. The key to the Sox playoff hopes rests on Dice K bouncing back.
I like the way Terry Francona lined up his bullpen in last Thursday night's game vs. the Rays. Billy Wagner in the 7th, Daniel Bard in the 8th, and Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th. Those three can certainly bring the heat and it really shortens the game for the Red Sox. Relievers who can strike hitters out are always preferable to the sinkerball type.