Walk this wayConspiracies don't bother Bill Do Pats fans deserve an explanation?

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Walk this wayConspiracies don't bother Bill Do Pats fans deserve an explanation?

This just in: The Red Sox have a discipline problem.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. But I'm not talking about in the clubhouse, on the team plane, on the golf course or with the media. I'm talking in the batter's box here. I'm talking walks and on base percentage. The kind of stuff that makes Bill James feel all naughty and tingly inside.

Discipline at the plate.

At various points this season, Bobby Valentine, Ben Cherington and Dave Magadan have all occasionally voiced their displeasure with the Sox impatience in the box.

"Hughes pitched up in the strike zone, and we couldn't lay off of it," Valentine said after a loss to the Yankees last week. "We made a lot of quick outs, swinging at some of those pitches. And, maybe a little immature in our approach at times."

"There's a lot of inconsistency," Magadan said last month. "A lot of it -- and I know I've harped on this a lot this year -- is the approach at the plate. You're not going to bang out 15 hits every night. You've got to find ways to get on base, work a count, get a guy's pitch count up."

In an interview with WEEI after the Adrian Gonzalez trade, Cherington touched on the same issues: "Our best teams have been disciplined teams," he said. "We've grinded at-bats, we've made pitchers work, we've thrown strikes, we've played good fundamental baseball"

Speaking of grinding, the 2012 season is thankfully and finally grinding to halt, and with that the Sox historic impatience is now more clear than ever.

First of all, David Ortiz is pretty much guaranteed to end the season as Boston's team leader in walks with 56. This, despite having only played 90 games and sitting out the last two months of the season.

The last time a Sox player led the team with fewer than 56 walks? That would be 1930, when infielder Bobby Reeves was the leader with 50. (They had a player with more than 56 walks in the both the strike shortened seasons of 1981 and 1994).

But maybe that stat is a little skewed. After all, Boston did suffer an astounding number of injuries this season. They have a ton of guys who have missed a ton of games, which might explain why the individual totals are so sad. But that being said, their team total is just as horrendous.

As of today, the Sox have drawn a total of 400 walks through 149 games. That puts them on pace for 435 walks on the season. And that would be their lowest total since 1931 back in the days little Bobby Reeves was king.

So, there you have it. That's not to say that finding guys who are willing and able to grind out at-bats and get on base is the No. 1 priority for the Sox this offseason, but you can be damn sure it's on the list.

Here's hoping Ben come through, and Bill James can once again watch the Sox with that same naughty tingle.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

The Red Sox try again to nail down the A.L. East crown tonight, sending Clay Buchholz to the mound against the Yankees while needed just one victory -- or one Toronto defeat -- to clinch the division.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Brock Holt 3B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Sandy Leon C
----
Clay Buchholz P

YANKEES:
Brett Gardner LF
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Gary Sanchez C
Brian McCann DH
Starlin Castro 2B
Didi Gregorious SS
Mark Texeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Mason Williams RF
----
Bryan Mitchell P

 

McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

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McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

Three takeaways from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night . . . 

1) Long relief may be short for the Red Sox in the postseason

The news that Drew Pomeranz won't start Thursday and is dealing with forearm soreness was ominous -- to say the least. While the Sox aren't concerned enough to order up an MRI for the lefty, it seems a fair bet that he won't pitch again this season. Pomeranz wasn't going to crack the postseason rotation and would likely have been relegated to relief duty. Now, even that seems a stretch.

Add that development to the continued absence of Steven Wright and the Red Sox are missing 40 percent of their rotation from late July and early August.

Healthy, both would have been stretched-out and available to provide multiple innings in the postseason.

Of course, most teams would prefer to not have to rely on long men in the postseason, since their very appearance in a game would signifiy that a starter got knocked out early.

When that happens, however, it's nice to have experienced, dependable arms to cover innings and not impact the bullpen's high-leverage pitchers.

Now, in such a scenario, the Sox will likely have to turn to either Robbie Ross Jr. or Heath Hembree.

2) Is Aaron Hill heating up?

In the month of September, Hill has posted a line of .381/.409/.571. On Tuesday night, he blasted a pinch-hit homer.

Admittedly, that's a relatively small sample size. But Hill has had better at-bats of late, especially against lefties.

It's doubtful that he'll take over third base -- now or in the postseason -- full-time, since John Farrell has two left-handed hitting options, with Travis Shaw and Brock Holt. Shaw certainly more power and has shown the ability to go on hot streaks at the plate.

But Hill is a veteran player, albeit one with little postseason experience (11 at-bats in the Division Series for Arizona in 2011) for a 12-year veteran.

And one other benefit: Hill is a .373 career hitter as a pinch-hitter, making him a valuable part off the bench in games started by either Holt or Shaw.

3) One loss is all it took for the second-guessing to resurface

The Sox had won 11 straight before Tuesday's loss, which quickly re-introduced criticism of Farrell.

Starter David Price had given up four runs through six innings, but the Sox rallied for two runs off Tommy Layne in the seventh to tie things at 4-4.

At 76 pitches, Price went back out for the seventh and promptly yielded a two-run homer to Tyler Austin, giving the Yanks another two-run lead.

Price hadn't been sharp in the first six. With expanded rosters, plenty of available relievers and a rested bullpen after a day off Monday, why stick with Price?

Offered Farrell: "You go with a right-hander they’re going to go with [Mark] Teixeira and [Brian] McCann with that right-field porch,” Farrell said. “Wanted to keep the (right-handed hitters) in the ballgame, (but Price) mislocated over the plate.”