The PawSox, the Sox, the Braves

So I attended the game in Pawtucket (WRAP|BOX) against the Indianapolis Indians on Wednesday, and came home to see some clutch hitting by Edgar Renteria (figures) win the game for the Red Sox. The game at Pawtucket was enjoyable, because there weren’t very many people at the game – maybe 2,000 to 4,000 which really speaks to the ineffectiveness of advertising (if they’re even doing any) from the higher-ups at Pawtucket. But it gave a really “homely” feeling to the game and you could shut out the noise (hard to do at Fenway) and just lean back and watch a game. It felt like watching a high school game, except that these guys get paid.
I had an interest in Indianapolis’ 1B Brad Eldred, because he’s the Pittsburgh first baseman of the future. So far for Indianapolis, he is hitting .250/.295/.500 with 3 HR in 58 AB. This guy could be in Pittsburgh by the trade deadline, if the Pirates feel he’s ready.
Eldred looked okay, he has a ton of power in his body, but he’s too raw to truly harness it. He’s a hulking monster, though, and walks around like one of those typical people who have nothing in the brain and only have their physical swagger. I’m not saying he’s an idiot, but the way he walks and composes himself sure shows that image.
I also had an interest in Roberto Petagine, because we could see him in the major leagues, although probably not before John Olerud gets his due. Considering Olerud has had a long, and possibly Hall of Fame, career, I don’t mind it. Olerud is done hitting for any serious power but is a fine defensive first baseman who brings OBP to the table. In addition, he’s in the Bill Mueller mold, as I say in the second part of the BTB Roundtable when I say that “Mueller, or “Billy Ballgame” as people call him, or even “The Professional”, is EXACTLY who Theo wants to have on the team, as I stated earlier in the 1B recap. He has fun, but at the same time is cultured. He stays quiet, he goes out there, and he quietly DOES HIS JOB. He moves runners over. He sacrifies himself both at bat and in the field for the good of the team.
Anyways Olerud has been absolutely ripping the ball in extended spring training – latest report is 8 for 10, which might mean he could forego the assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket next week, which is fine by me – he has an amazing streak of never having played a single game in the minor leagues his entire career, jumping from college to the majors and never needing a rehab stint in the minor leagues. Impressive.
Anyways, back on track – I saw Petagine, and he’s got good batting skills. He didn’t have any significant plays at first but to me, he looks like he will get around fine although I don’t care for his arm much. Petagine unleashed a home-run (during a picture I had just snapped) and so that was good.
What else was good is Kelly Shoppach – I’m amazed by this guy. We need to hold onto him if possible and not trade him for Lyle Overbay as someone mentioned the other day (apologies – I can’t remember who). He bashed a home-run like it was nothing and showed extraordinary power and patience and a harnessed swing – amazing. Shawn Wooten caught this game, so he DHd. I wasn’t able to see his defensive prowess thus, but since he gets so many accolades and awards for his defensive work, that’s not a question mark. This guy could compete in the major leagues right now. He’s hitting .278/.399/.583 in 115 AB, which is excellent, and 31 K gives him a 0.6 BB/K ratio, up from previous years, so … yay!
As I wrote about Shoppach in my 2004 C + P Minor League Depth Chart Review:
The 24-year old will be repeating a year at Pawtucket. Last year, in his first year for Pawtucket, he hit .233 with a .320 OBP, a .461 SLG, and 138 strikeouts in 399 at-bats. This year, Shoppach will work on cutting down the strikeouts (he has always been prone to strikeouts, but even 2004 was a bit much for him) and sending his batting average back up. One bit of progress in 2004 that he made was home-runs. He hit 22 home-runs, the highest ever. In 2003, he tied his career high with 12 home-runs, so that’s a significant jump. In 2003 for Portland, he hit .282, so if he can improve his batting average, he should become a top-notch backup catcher and could start. He is known to be a great defensive catcher and game-caller, so Shoppach should find himself with a backup job at the very least in the majors in the next few years, whether or not he hits for a high average this coming season.
Well, the 25 year old throughout the minor leagues has kept his average and OBP steady (until last year) and hit good numbers of doubles, portending future power numbers. Last year, challenged at AAA, he bashed home-runs but could not get hits otherwise. An extra year of experience has given him what he has this year. Trading him is a big mistake, because Mirabelli is a free agent after next year, Varitek could fall off the cliff anytime between now and when his contract is up after 2008, and fer goodness sakes, catchers get injured and are such a precious commodity! Keep Kelly!

INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS AT PAWTUCKET RED SOX Brad Eldred at bat, Pirates 1B of the future (Eldred) and a Sox ring-wearer (Crespo) converse, Shot of McCoy as Enoch pitches to Shoppach, IND’s starter, Justin Reid, Kester pitches to Doumit – we sat in the green section third from the left, McCoy is proud of its heritage, Alejandro Machado at bat, Mike Johnston pitches for IND, The Pawtucket Red Sox win!, Roberto Petagine at first base, Petagine cocks his bat just before unleashing a HR, Shoppach rounds first after bashing a HR, Ex-Pawsox players are honored, A shot of McCoy Stadium, Welcome to McCoy Stadium (one thing I didn’t like about McCoy was that they really pushed the former PawSox label [it was nice to see their pictures though] and the LONGEST GAME EVER thingamajig – okay, yeah, it’s impressive. But what about being the home of the 2004 Champs? I only saw ONE reference to that, and the longest game and former PawSox theme was repeated ad nauseum), Bobby Bradley pitches for IND (I took this picture because the former first-round pick, Bobby Bradley, could end up being a more than solid starter for the Pirates) Brad Eldred at first

Let’s talk about the Sox briefly.
Brian Young talks about how the Red Sox have had 24 away games and 16 home games. Considering the Red Sox’s offense is made for Fenway, no wonder we haven’t passed the accursed Orioles for first yet – and it’ll just get worse. Soon they’ll be at 30 away and 19 home. Yikes.
You’ve gotta be patient with this team (and Andrew – I’ve been patient with Renteria long enough) because the Sox seem to go on hot and cold streaks like no tomorrow. Consider the follow May results:
W L W W W W W L W W W L W L L W L
Well, at least when they win, they do it on streaks, and when they lose, they don’t streak losing so we don’t tear our head out (EDIT: That’s a horrible typo. Hair can be ripped out for losing streaks, but let’s not go losing our heads). So we’re a .500 teams with spurts of winning streaks and you know what? That’s the mark of a 90 to 100 win team. And when we get Schilling back … and IF … IF … Renteria arrives in Boston … and Kevin Millar bashes again (or Lyle Overbay comes in to) or Mueller realizes that we don’t just like AVG and OBP, we like SLG too, and Bellhorn STOPS STRIKING OUT!!!!!!! AAAAAH!!!!!!! then we’ll be sitting pretty. Oh, and Keith Foulke comes around too, which I think he is.
Well, interleague play is upon us for one series, as Atlanta comes to Fenway for three games. I’m an opponent of interleague play, but this year I’m looking forward to it – it breaks up the monotony and allows me to see some more players.
But GOSH. The pitching match-ups are scuh-ary. Well, at least they were. We were going to get Tim Hudson (3.18 ERA), Mike Hampton (1.96 ERA) and John Smoltz (2.83 ERA) against Miller, Wakefield, and Clement. However, Hampton has had some injury trouble, so apparently 21-year old Kyle Davies will get the call, who has a 3.67 ERA for Triple-A this year (2.32 for AA last year). It’ll be interesting watching a future Braves All-Star pitcher make his debut … in Fenway … against the Red Sox … I’m giggling with glee here.