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2 Boston Red Sox The rotation is rearmed and dangerous--but to opponents or themselves?

March 26, 2001
March 26, 2001

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March 26, 2001

Baseball 2001 Preview

2 Boston Red Sox The rotation is rearmed and dangerous--but to opponents or themselves?

Joe Kerrigan left his middling career as a professional pitcher
in 1982, taking a bum shoulder home to Philadelphia. He was 28.
"My arm was dead," he says. This was before managers and pitching
coaches cared much about pitch counts and how many days in a row
you worked. Kerrigan took a job pouring concrete at a
construction site for a waste management facility. To supplement
his income he would scavenge his mother's attic and basement for
knickknacks to sell at a flea market. On a good weekend he would
pocket 50 bucks.

This is an article from the March 26, 2001 issue Original Layout

All these years later Kerrigan's labor still reflects the lessons
learned from his early exit from the game. Now the pitching coach
savant of the Red Sox, he not only is fanatically protective of
his pitchers' health, but also continues to dabble in the
consignment business--though he no longer must root around the
recesses of his mother's house. Boston general manager Dan
Duquette finds him plenty of second-hand merchandise from the
unwanted bin. This year is no different, with the young (Paxton
Crawford, Tomo Ohka), the aged (Rolando Arrojo, David Cone, Hideo
Nomo) and the infirm (Frank Castillo, Bret Saberhagen) all vying
for spots in the rotation behind Pedro Martinez.

"We went to the playoffs two years ago by piecing the staff
together," says Kerrigan, under whom Boston has finished second,
first and first in the league in ERA, its best run in nearly a
century (1902-04). "I'm as comfortable with this group as any."

The Red Sox are a contender despite what the behavioral
scientists might call "issues." The middle of the order is
fearsome--shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, rightfielder Manny Ramirez
and centerfielder Carl Everett ranked 5-3-4 in the league in
slugging against righthanders last year. Atop the order, however,
there are unsettling questions. Second baseman Jose Offerman, the
preferred leadoff hitter, must rebound from the worst of his five
AL seasons, during which he was thrown out in all eight of his
stolen base attempts. Other potential trouble spots include a
shaky infield defense, a bullpen in need of a lefthander and
questions about the durability of Garciaparra, who has sat out 77
games over the past four seasons and has been sidelined since
Feb. 26 with a right wrist injury that may require surgery.

What's most uncertain, though, is who will follow the inimitable
Martinez in the rotation. Nothing new there. In 2000 Boston
starters threw the fewest innings of any rotation in the majors,
and other than Martinez, the Red Sox haven't had a pitcher win as
many as 11 games in either of the last two seasons. Do they have
anybody who can give their ace better support? "Yes," Duquette
says. "My pick would be either Nomo or Ohka." Here's the best of
the bric-a-brac that the Boston G.M. has given Kerrigan.

Nomo. He still has quality stuff. "But he threw only 54%
first-pitch strikes," Kerrigan points out. "After the count's 0
and 1, batters hit .192 against him. After it's 1 and 0, they hit
.298."

Cone. The 38-year-old righty won four times in 29 starts last
year, and hitters pounded him at a .306 clip. After 2,745 career
innings he plans to empty whatever's left in his tank. "I'd
rather stay around too long and suffer a little embarrassment
than walk away too soon," says Cone, who is battling soreness in
his pitching shoulder. Says Kerrigan, "If he can throw his
fastball 86 to 88 [mph], he'll be fine."

Castillo. "He's pitched only 22 [big league] games over the last
three years in the second half. Now why is that?" says Kerrigan,
who has been examining Castillo's routines between starts, his
conditioning and his weight training. "If he stays healthy, we've
got a good pitcher."

Ohka. "He can put that cross-seam fastball on the outside corner
on lefthanders any time," Kerrigan says. "We've got to get him to
settle on a breaking ball [curve or slider] and go to it."

Arrojo. "Seventy-two percent of his pitches were fastballs,"
Kerrigan says of Arrojo, who will start the year in the bullpen.
"I've never heard of a number that high. Between pitches 30 and
50 they hit .319 against him. That tells me, the second time
around the order, hitters know what to expect. They're getting
fastballs. We've got to get him to use his slider and changeup."

So another season full of tinkering looms for Kerrigan. For now,
his staff is better suited for a lyricist than matching up with
the Yankees. Pedro, Nomo, Tomo, Arrojo, Castillo. Oh, no!

--T.V.

COLOR PHOTO: DAMIAN STROHMEYER Pedro's compadres in the starting rotation are iffy, but he'll get a boost from a retooled lineup; last year's scored seven runs in his six losses.COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON RAMIREZ

[ENEMY LINES]
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Red Sox

"The Sox are probably the league's biggest "wait and see"
club--they could be good or they could implode. They're trying
hard to make deals because they don't think they can win with
the guys they have now. Their biggest problem is they have two
guys they don't like, Mike Lansing and Rolando Arrojo, chewing
up roster spots and payroll....They have talent--the best
pitcher in baseball [Pedro Martinez], a dominant closer [Derek
Lowe] and thunder in the middle of the lineup [Nomar
Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, Carl Everett]--but there are
caveats. Everett missed a team bus in camp, and you always have
to see how he affects team chemistry....The bullpen is good from
the right side, with Rich Garces and Hipolito Pichardo, but
they're going to miss Rheal Cormier from the left side....The
infield defense was dreadful this spring; the $12.5 million
tandem at second base, Lansing and Jose Offerman, is porous. If
Garciaparra is out for a while, it hurts big time. They're in
the market for a backup shortstop with a good glove....How will
Ramirez ever play rightfield at Fenway Park? Trot Nixon is their
best defensive outfielder, but he gets aced out of the starting
lineup unless Troy O'Leary is dealt....You wonder how Ramirez
will react when the fans get on him the first time he peels off
into the dugout instead of running hard down the line? You can
get away with that in Cleveland, not in Boston.... Jimy Williams
is a superior manager, but he has a tough juggling act in terms
of talent, and an even tougher juggling act in terms of team
cohesion."

[THE LINEUP]
projected roster with 2000 statistics

2000 record: 85-77 (second in AL East)
Manager: Jimy Williams (fifth season with Boston)

BATTING ORDER B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

2B Jose Offerman S-R 189 .255 9 41 0
3B Chris Stynes[1] R 204 .334 12 40 5
SS Nomar Garciaparra R 18 .372 21 96 5
RF Manny Ramirez[1] R 10 .351 38 122 1
CF Carl Everett S-R 45 .300 34 108 11
DH Dante Bichette* R 86 .294 23 90 5
LF Troy O'Leary L 144 .261 13 70 0
1B Brian Daubach L-R 181 .248 21 76 1
C Jason Varitek S-R 219 .248 10 65 1

BENCH

OF Trot Nixon L 164 .276 12 60 8
IF John Valentin R 287 .257 2 2 0
IF Mike Lansing* R 290 .240 11 60 8
C Scott Hatteberg L-R 336 .265 8 36 0

STARTERS PVR W L IPS WHIP ERA

RH Pedro Martinez 1 18 6 7.5 0.74 1.74
RH Hideo Nomo[1] 124 8 12 6.1 1.47 4.74
RH David Cone[1] 174 4 14 5.3 1.77 6.91
RH Frank Castillo[1] 102 10 5 5.7 1.22 3.59
RH Tomo Ohka (R) 155 3 6 5.7 1.38 3.12

BULLPEN PVR W L S WHIP ERA

RH Derek Lowe 16 4 4 42 1.23 2.56
RH Rod Beck 177 3 0 0 1.13 3.10
RH Rich Garces 215 8 1 1 1.17 3.25
RH Hipolito Pichardo 208 6 3 1 1.37 3.46
RH Tim Wakefield 258 6 10 0 1.47 5.48
LH Pete Schourek 265 3 10 0 1.43 5.11
RH Rolando Arrojo* 340 10 11 0 1.48 5.63

[1]New acquisition
(R) Rookie
B-T: Bats-throws
IPS: Innings pitched per start
WHIP: Walks plus hits per inning pitched
PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 156)
*Combined AL and NL stats

"How will Ramirez react when fans get on him for not running
hard down the line?"