Buchholz Shines and I am Selling into Strength

I always hate downgrading or changing direction on a guy after he had a bad game. Kind of makes me look like a spineless analyst who lacks conviction. So that is why today gives me the perfect opportunity to redact most of the nice things I have said about Clay Buchholz this season.

You see, I added a lot of “BUCH” to my portfolio in April. And after solid starts against Texas and Toronto, I was ready to claim that Buchholz had finally broken on through to the other side. But a couple of rough starts followed and I felt we were right back at square one, with the same old guy who couldn’t concentrate and couldn’t control his nerves. But I couldn’t say much because that would make me look like a nervous Nellie.

Today, however, I am free to speak as Clay, at first glance, had a pretty nice start last night. He pitched into the 7th, got eight guys in a row at one point, gave up just three hits and surrendered just one run. Looks good right? WRONG!

Last night, we saw the same old Clay and here is all you need to know. Pitching with a five-run lead in the bottom of the first, Buchholz walked the leadoff hitter and proceeded to become fixated with the baserunner. He then got a marathon out (eight or nine pitches) and walked ANOTHER batter. So, with a five-run cushion, Clay spent twenty pitches to walk two guys and get a single out. And by the end of the second, Buchholz had thrown 47 pitches. That is simply unacceptable when your team hands you five runs.

Now Buchholz did settle down but I’ll tell you, I am selling some of my stock this morning. Not all of it, but I am easing up and I won’t be back in the market until I see this guy get through some of these bad habits. On the bright side, his meltdowns have become more manageable but until I see this guy dominate innings after his offense rallies, I am on the sidelines.   

* While I am selling BUCH this morning, I can’t bring myself to buy any PAPI after it has rallied so far off the bottom. Last night, TWO bombs and for the month, Ortiz is now hitting .333/.361/.818. That is a far cry from April when Ortiz’ production was so poor that it seemed like his release was imminent. Now, that release seems neither imminent or inevitable. In fact, Ortiz is going to be in the lineup tonight against a lefty and that says a ton about his improved status. This might just be a streak and it might prove illusory, but the guy is certifiably hot and for now, the Papi Deathwatch has been suspended.

* Anyone else wondering what Victor Martinez did to earn this six-week free pass?  I know he has driven in twelve runners this month but the balance of his resume is wholly inadequate. I mean, its May 15th and this guy’s OPS is under .650 and he is hitting just .170 as a left-hander. True, he doesn’t strike out much, but he also isn’t drawing walks and he must lead the AL in softly-hit outs. The guy is just not hitting the ball hard and until he does, there is no reason to believe that his abnormally low batting average on balls hit in play (.252) will rise.

* Sounds like Mike Cameron is penciled in to return Monday but Mrs. Ellsbury is still nowhere close to a return. The guy has been taking batting practice for two weeks and I find it curious that he still hasn’t asked to start a rehab assignment. I hope Ellsbury knows that he is doing lasting damage to his reputation right now. And judging from a Francona quote yesterday, the manager seems to think Ellsbury may be dogging it.

* FARM REPORT: He threw five perfect innings on Sunday and last night, Kyle Weiland threw five more scoreless innings, yielding just two hits.  Weiland had a rough start to the season, but over his last three starts, he has given up just three hits in 14 innings.

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