Sports - September 07, 2007

A Pair of Injuries
On Monday, Junichi Tazawa was placed on the 60-day disabled list due to what has been described as a mild groin strain.
While the groin gives the Sox a formal reason to DL Tazawa, the pitcher had reportedly reached his innings limit, according to the Red Sox official web site. The move also helps make room for Chris Woodward. The infielder will fill in for Nick Green, who is dealing with a back issue that has manifested as dead leg.
While some may lament the loss of Tazawa for the stretch run, this conservative move is a good one. Too often, teams burn out their best young arms by having them throw innings in the playoffs. At the same time, these innings are often of little use to the team: rookies rarely possess the talent to make an impact large enough to offset the risk of being injured.
Tazawa falls into this bracket. While he may be marginal asset for the end of the season, he is not polished enough yet as a pitcher to contribute to the big club. Embedded in such a deep bullpen, he and Bowden rank as the two lowest relievers on the totem pole.
Shutting him down is the correct play when managing the team’s assets for the future. Tazawa wasn’t going to help the playoff push, so keeping that arm fresh for 2010 and beyond is a welcome development.
And to give him a little more face-time, Nick Green will be out for the foreseeable future with a back injury and dead leg. Apparently, the hitter could barely stand during his game-tying at-bat on Saturday night.
Though Nick Green isn’t the best shortstop in this or any organization, he is a significant step up from his replacement, Chris Woodward. Woodward was last with the Sox on September the 13th, when he was sent down to Pawtucket.
Woodward can barely hit and doesn’t have much of a glove. His career .242/.298/.369 line would be an acceptable backup if it did not include his .216/.289/.230 performance this season. He has a -4.4 UZR/150 at short over his career, so don’t expect fireworks up the middle. Just hope that nothing happens to A-Gon and that Green can return soon.
Count Your Blessings
With the debacle that was Wakefield’s 7 BB, 5 R return, the fifth starter’s role is now in flux, an open competition between Wake and Paul Byrd. With a 7 game lead over the Rangers and 13 games to play, the fifth starter shouldn’t see more than 3 more starts; meaning one more for Wakefield and two more for Byrd, who pitches tomorrow.
They will still both be important contributors and should both add depth to the bullpen come playoff time. Though, they will probably be used sparingly with the wealth of bullpen options already available.
While a triumphant return from Wake would have been ideal for the Sox, Boston fans should be counting their blessings, as the team still has the makings of a quality 1-4 setup, which was almost unimaginable one month ago.
This comes with a couple caveats, however, as this incarnation of rotation slots 1 through 4 comes with some serious question marks.
Buchholz has been great, but he was not a legitimate number 3 starter until just a few weeks ago. While his ascension has been a welcome occurrence, a little more surety and a lengthier track record would be useful. He could be brilliant come playoff times, but, as his last outing showed, he can still be inconsistent. Sure, the win was nice, but the walks and lack of strikeouts was concerning.
In addition, while Dice-K had a solid return to the rotation, he can’t yet be counted on to supply quality starts until he can put injuries and his control issues behind him. In short, he still has some kinks to unwind.
The club should probably buy Lester and Beckett each a comfortable chair, as they are certain to become tired of the team constantly leaning on them. Tito would also be wise to limit his aces’ innings over the next two weeks, as rest today will certainly pay dividends in October. At this point, with the Wild Card all but sealed, Francona can afford to rest his starters. They’ve earned it.
Manny Not Being Manny
Maybe it’s not the same Manny we’re all used to, but Manny Delcarmen has been going through fits lately. His last two outings have been anything but routine, as he has ceded 6 runs on 2 HRs and 3 BBs in his last 0.2 IP. This is not the Manny we have grown to love.
While viewers may be quick to lose faith, Delcarmen should be fine going forward. Part of the territory for relievers is having aberrant rough stretches… and being questioned heavily during them. While his ERA has swelled to 4.34 as a result, he is still missing bats and bringing the heat.
Unless you begin to hear anything about his health, expect Manny to return to form. Slumps happen, even to pitchers. Feel free to breath easy next time he takes the mound.
Seven up on Texas. Thirteen games to go. Anaheim is starting to get real big in the window.