Boston Red Sox Weekly Reader April 21, 2010: Bobby Valentine, Terry Francona, Kevin Youkilis

By Matt Sullivan

If the saying “chicks dig the long ball” is true, the Boston Red Sox locked down that demographic this week. The Red Sox have given up an MLB leading 23 home runs on the season, eleven times more than the Washington Nationals. Last night Clay Buchholz was the victim of the highly contagious “long-ball-itis sweeping through the clubhouse. Buchholz got battered by the New York Yankees, giving up five home runs to the Bronx Bombers in his six innings of work. It is the second time this season a Red Sox pitcher has allowed five home runs in a game. Josh Beckett did it in his first start this year.

Earlier in the week, the Red Sox optioned Mark Melancon to AAA Pawtucket after a bout with the disease. Malencon allowed three home runs in one inning without even retiring a single Texas Ranger’s hitter on Tuesday. The estimable Marc Normandin explains the problem with Mark Melancon at Over the Monster. Our own Peter Ellwood examined some of the horrors of that game at Bringing Heat. Following that he examined the horrors of the entire week on the off day Thursday.  The Boston Red Sox have been a terrible baseball team this week and they have become a dysfunctional organization as well. Like any dysfunctional organization, the Red Sox are scouting Scott Podsednik, which Mark Hock takes as a bad sign.

At the center of this week’s chaos is manager Bobby Valentine. Rob Neyer at Baseball Nation says Valentine is on walking a tight rope and according to his readers the he won’t last the season.  At my other home, Over the Monster, this week has led Ben Buchanan to wonder if Valentine was trying to get himself fired, George Costanza style. Matthew Kory takes Valentine’s flaws far more seriously, however. For my part, I am worried about Youk’s early struggles and the options for replacing Jacoby Ellsbury.

The fine folks at Fangraphs were full of Red Sox content this week. They examined pitcher pacing and found that Red Sox pitchers work slow. Who knew? Oh, yeah, everyone. They also took a look at Josh Beckett’s new approach. It appears he is using his cutter a bit more and succeeding with it, too. They also looked at the anniversaries of Fenway over the years  and Peter Gammons’ desire for the Boston Globe to sell out the sources for the “Inside the Collapse” article that led to the radical re-haul of the coaching staff.

It was not all bad news for Bostonthis week though. Daisuke Matsuzaka is will be making his first rehab start at Class A Salem. Could Daisuke be the solution to the Red Sox pitching woes? Wow, that is a sentence I could never have imagined typing before this year. The Red Sox might have third base help coming as well as top prospect Will Middlebrooks is destroying AAA pitching with six home runs already. Imagine what he could do against Red Sox starters in BP. Boston is also enjoying the way David Ortiz is raking against lefties these days.

The Red Sox celebrated the 100 year anniversary of FenwayParkyesterday with an impressive list of guests. Among the highlights was the return of Pedro Martinez and his drunken attempt at a toast with Kevin Millar. The best moment came from the previously reluctant Terry Francona. Kirk Minihane of WEEI believes Francona is still the right man to be the Red Sox manager and from the reaction of the crowd, he is not alone. While that bridge may be thoroughlt burned, it is a nice thing to dream on when Bobby Valentine forgets where his bullpen phone is.

Not everyone is stuck watching the train wreck that has been Red Sox baseball thus far. For those in need of a diversion, Ryan O’Malley is lost in 1912, when it was much more enjoyable to be a Red Sox fan.

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