Relax or Time To Panic? How About Neither!

Isn’t it just a little too obvious to write the “don’t panic” story this morning? Something along the lines of this 800-worder from WEEI’s Kirk Minihane. Tell everyone to relax. Load up on historical anecdotes that point to great teams having bad weekends. Speak to Boston’s slow starts in both 2009 and 2010. Maybe sprinkle in some mentions of the season being an infant and therefore it is too soon to draw any conclusions. Forgive me for being cynical, but does any of that stuff really need to be said?

If you make a living at this and have to file something, I guess the “don’t panic” narrative beats the juvenile alternative, which goes something like this ….. “after three games, it is clear that this team was over-hyped and it’s time to jump.”  Predictably, that is where the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy went this morning. Needless to say, Dan’s alarmist piece won’t be winning any votes with grizzled fans who have been through a few slow starts or Spink Award voters who tend to frown on lame journalism.

So what is a pundit to do? Go with the obvious?  Or appeal to the reactionaries who think the sky is falling?

I will do neither. Instead, I will just offer these specific thoughts on yesterday’s action.

1)      Terry Franocna is taking some shit for panicking and dropping Carl Crawford to the seven-hole yesterday but quite frankly, shouldn’t Crawford be dropped against lefties? I mean the splits are available for anyone to see and the splits say Crawford probably should hit 7th when the Sox face left-handers. Guys like Minihane are now killing Francona for dropping Crawford but to that I say … “do you really want a guy with a career 700 OPS against lefties hitting third?” With Crawford’s career numbers against lefties, he either belongs in the leadoff spot where his speed can kill or he belongs down the card. Period.

2)      I am the first who kills Lackey every time he comes out of a mugging and claims he pitched better than his line. So the following exposes me to charges of “hypocriticism.” But I thought Buchholz threw pretty well yesterday. True, he got nailed a couple of times but the wind did him in twice and I thought he won some big counts with great throws. His final line is pretty smudged but coming out of this weekend, he is the least of my worries.

3)      My guess heading into the season was Varitek was going to catch Beckett and play against lefties. That is because Salty can’t hit right-handed and Varitek can. Well three games into the season, the Sox have faced two lefties and in each instance, Salty was behind the plate. So much for my intuition. I guess the thinking here is Varitek will get Beckett’s start on Tuesday and Francona didn’t want to sit Salty twice in a row but that leaves me wondering whether Francona has bothered to notice Salty’s poor splits as a RH hitter.

4)      Along these lines, it will be real interesting to see how Francona sets up his platoons this year. It’s hardly news that the Sox are loaded with lefties, a few of whom are allergic to left-handed pitching. Given that, it strikes me that Lowrie, Tek and Cameron all have to be in there against lefties. Yesterday, it was only Lowrie.

5)      I see Evan Longoria was felled by an injury and will now miss the April 11-13 series. That would be particularly good news if Beckett were scheduled to pitch but he goes against the Yankees on the 10th and will miss Tampa. That said, Longo has hurt Dice in the past so his absence should be helpful when Matsuzaka opens that series.


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