I’m back from vacation, and goodness, there’s a lot to talk about. A lot has happened since I’ve been gone, ranging from Jeremi Gonzalez and Wade Miller turning in quality outings to Kevin Millar finding his power stroke to a little bullpen shuffling (bye bye Blaine Neal, have fun in Pittsburgh EDIT: Due to an error by Rotoworld, my information is incorrect – Neal is headed to the Colorado Rockies) to two straight walk-off homeruns, to this, to that. Let’s dispense with the pictures first:

SOME PICTURES OF THE 5/9 GAME Jermaine Clark’s first AB, Millar scores on Hatteberg’s two errors, Cla Meredith pitches, Millar arrives home for his HR, Cla Meredith on the scoreboard, Meredith comes into the game, MLB logo, Trot Nixon rounds the bases, Manny and Renteria pre-game, Chris Durbin on the scoreboard, Manny is checked on as Haren walks over to apologize, Haren warms up pre-game.

Not very many pictures, but a lot of the ones I took didn’t turn out so hot. I was very excited to see Cla in person. When I was away on vacation I could only check the scores from my phone, so I was seeing we lost to the Mariners 6-4 and I was browsing through the statistics. Jeremi Gonzalez pitched pretty well, Wade Miller did well in the nightcap, so I was wondering how we lost the game and BOOM I see the name “C. Meredith” pop up on my screen. Well! I was floored, it was so random. I later learned Lenny DiNardo was optioned to Pawtucket and Blaine Neal was put on waivers. I thought we’d sneak Neal through waivers because he had been pretty ineffective, and I knew it was time for him to go down. Neal can still turn into something, but the Pirates bit, and now he’s going to be a Pittsburgh Pirate. Oh well.
I do want to show some recognition to J-Rod and Mark, who left comments in my Bring Up Cla Meredith! post in which they said:

I played with the kid in High School and let me tell you he has the spirit. He has come a long way in a year and because of his personality when the pressure is on he’ll play. I quarantee an improvement the next time he’s up. He learns from his mistakes. Nice work Cla! (J-Rod)

I played with him in the summer of 2003. He is unhittable with the dirtiest sinker I have ever seen. I don’t think he gave up a run all summer against Division 1 college hitters with wood. He also has the best mentality of any pitcher I have ever seen. He never is scared and always expects to win…. and usually does! (Mark)

It looks like we will be enjoying Cla a lot for years to come.
I took a picture of “Chris Durbin: Working His Way to Fenway” because it was the first “Working His Way to Fenway” I had seen this season (and a large chunk of last season) that was not Hanley Ramirez or Jon Papelbon. So who is Chris Durbin? Unfortunately, the brand new Red Sox Minor League blog at MVN – Sox on Deck hasn’t touched on Durbin yet, so let’s do that. Durbin isn’t even in the top 20 on! He’s an outfielder for Portland and they say this about him:

Powerful center-fielder played with David Murphy at Baylor, and has been partnered with him in the outfield at Sarasota in 2004. Durbin has good power but does not get on base with enough consistency. Excellent fielder. (SoxProspects)

Last year he was in Augusta, where he had a .229/.300/.396 line, but earned a promotion to Portland. He is so far this year hitting .279/.344/.417. So I have to say the “not getting on base with enough consistency” is incorrect. Durbin is having a decent year, and if he grows enough could turn into a starter, but I’m going to say he’s going to be another Jay Payton, Gabe Kapler. It certainly helps that he’s a good fielder. What I’m happy about is that Durbin is building on the year he had in Augusta, and having a better year at a higher level.
Moving onto Bronson Arroyo, this kid is amazing. He’s been the best pitcher the Red Sox have had since the break in 2004. He has had a 12-2 record in 24 GS for the Red Sox (from 7/1/04 through May 10 2005) with 152 IP and a 3.38 ERA. That’s tops on the Red Sox staff. I’ve included a table, minimum 50 IP pitched since 7/1/04, for your perusal. Please notice Pedro Martinez’s ERA after the break. I know he’s pitching brilliantly now, but just repeat to yourself … pitcher’s park … hitter’s haven’t seen him … no Yankees … switch to NL … out to prove himself … and more importantly … contract is FOUR YEARS LONG … – oh and thanks to Baseball Musings (dot com for you folks out there) for helping me with this information.

Player Games GS CG GF W L WPct Sv Sho IP H R ER HR BB K HBP BK WP ERA K9 BB9
Derek Lowe 18 18 0 0 8 5 .615 0 0 100 1/3 122 73 60 8 35 65 4 0 2 5.38 5.83 3.14
Tim Wakefield 23 23 0 0 12 6 .667 0 0 141 146 85 74 24 45 91 11 0 7 4.72 5.81 2.87
Pedro Martinez 17 17 1 0 8 6 .571 0 1 113 1/3 100 54 51 14 34 130 8 0 2 4.05 10.32 2.70
Keith Foulke 53 0 0 47 4 5 .444 27 0 59 2/3 56 26 26 11 11 56 4 0 1 3.92 8.45 1.66
Mike Timlin 56 0 0 9 2 2 .500 0 0 50 2/3 56 22 22 5 13 32 3 0 1 3.91 5.68 2.31
Curt Schilling 19 19 2 0 12 4 .750 0 0 133 1/3 126 58 56 18 18 123 5 0 1 3.78 8.30 1.22
Bronson Arroyo 24 24 0 0 12 2 .857 0 0 152 133 63 57 12 34 114 12 0 4 3.38 6.75 2.01

Awesome. That sums up Arroyo and the Red Sox as a whole.
What’s also awesome is Kevin Millar pounding his first home-run of the season, then a walk-off job the next night. He almost did it again today but flew to the warning track. Jason Varitek picked him up though, and gave the Red Sox a sweep of the Athletics.
I liked the idea of keeping Gonzalez in the rotation and moving Halama back to the bullpen – we got Halama to be a reliever, not a starter. Gonzalez had impressed enough to earn another start, and now has impressed again. He might still stay in the rotation when David Wells (expected back before the end of the month) returns. Doubt it though, as who would go to the bullpen? It’s going to be interesting to see what they do, because they have Cla Meredith they could send down. Of course, both of them will go down no matter what when Schilling returns, but who goes first? The Red Sox have proven they’re unpredictable in this facet of baseball.
The Red Sox have an off-day tomorrow, then travel to Seattle for a three-game set then Oakland. It is in Oakland when Arroyo is going to drop his appeal and serve his six-game suspension. I’m guessing that David Wells will come back then and slide into Arroyo’s slot, then when Arroyo’s suspension is up, Jeremi Gonzalez will be demoted. (Cla Meredith would be demoted for David Wells.) It’s not the easiest scenario to dream up, but it’s the sort of brilliant move Theo would pull off, so that’s my guess right there.
Thanks to Sam for a phenomenal job filling in. I’m all caught up now on my opinion on things that have happened, so check back soon for more!