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The Panic Index: The Red Sox, Giants, Rays and Brewers

Apr 4, 2011, 10:00 AM EDT

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Panic on the streets of Boston … St. Pete, Frisco and Milwaukee …

OK, fine, so the Smiths sang about panic better than I can, but the “oh noes!” quotient is pretty high among some fans this morning. Fans who, it seems, forgot that baseball is not football and three or four games don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but their pain is real even if it’s not entirely rational.

Or is it?  Based on random comments, emails and tweets, fans of four teams seem to be most concerned on this fine day. Let’s see if they’re taking to their fainting couches prematurely or if they really do have something to worry about. Let’s rate the panic on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning that you’re just mad about Saffron, and ten meaning that it’s time for fans to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside:

Red Sox: Yeah, it was an ugly weekend with the pitching staff serving up meatballs, but I really do think this is just a blip. The Sox are not the first team to leave The Ballpark with an ugly ERA and they won’t be the last. The Rangers are good. Everyone is healthy. The 1998 Yankees began the season 0-3 and they somehow found 114 wins lying around over the next six months, so there’s no reason to push the panic button in Beantown. Panic Index: 3

Giants: Yeah, the chalk outline of Aubrey Huff in right was funny, but with the way he’s flopped around out there I’m worried for his safety, be it from going into a wall Bump Bailey-style or be it from his pitching staff murdering him. The defense is a huge problem for San Francisco. Perhaps a bigger problem than we assumed this spring. Still, Cody Ross will be back soon, moving Huff to left, and you can’t really get down on a team with this kind of pitching. Panic Index: 5

Brewers: Eh, hard to say if it’s panic time yet. The Reds are good. Milwaukee should have won that Opening Day game. Zack Greinke will come back and restore order. But the defense, while not as spectacularly shaky as the Giants was this weekend, was bad, and Randy Wolf made everyone flash back to the Brewers’ pitching struggles in 2010.  Panic Index: 6

Rays: This is a problem. No, not the anemic showing against the Orioles as such — Chris Tillman and Zach Britton are going to make a lot of guys look bad over the next few years — but because of the injuries. Evan Longoria could be on the shelf for three weeks if you believe Joe Maddon, and Johnny Damon — a guy whose primary value at this point is his dependability — is hurting only two games into this thing.  For the Rays to have a hope at being relevant, everything needs to go their way. They need to get the breaks. Losing their best player and their starting left fielder is not something they need. Panic Index: 8

So there you have it.  Knowing these things won’t prevent you from panicking, of course, but at least you now know how rational your panic truly is. And knowing is half the battle.

  1. sportsdrenched - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Any team the has Kyle Farnsworth on the roster and has play-off asperations should hit the panic button.

  2. thinman61 - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    This Boston fan certainly isn’t hitting the panic button, nor are most of the others I’m personally acquainted with. What I do see is a lot of fans of other teams talking about Boston fans panicking, which is a very different thing.

    • bobwsc - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      funny how that happens. even funnier when they try to mimic a freaked out Boston fan, with bad-accent-impersonation and all.

      • bradwins - Apr 4, 2011 at 11:05 AM

        Ditto. I know a lot of Sox fans, and don’t know a single one that is genuinely concerned. I think some are frustrated and/or disappointed. But that seems reasonable. The ones that I imagine as being panicked are not real baseball people and are an embarrassment one way or the other. If the Sox has swept Texas they would already be celebrating the imminent World Series championship. Regardless of the results of the first series of the season, there is a long way to go.

    • Ari Collins - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:54 PM

      Yep, not panicking. The ’04 Sox won 98 games despite losing at least 3 in a row eight different times. The offense was good considering it was away against good pitching, and while the first two starters were quite worrisome, especially Lester, it IS just one start for each.

    • baseballisboring - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:11 PM

      Yeah, to reiterate, NO Sox fans I know are panicking. If we get swept by the Rangers in July or August nobody bats an eye. I’m as confident about this team as I’ve been in a real long time, yet there’s already a front page ESPN article that says something like “Are Sox fans panicking after their 0-3 start? Of course they are, it’s Boston.” Puhleeeease

  3. BC - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Agree. Rays and Brewers are in some serious stuff unless they right the ship pretty quickly. Not Mets-serious-stuff, but they could tank to under .500.
    Red Sox have too much offense and Giants have too much pitching to be in a panic right now.

  4. sdelmonte - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    There’s some weird stat I saw about how no team that started 0-3 over the last 20 years made the playoffs. Seems dubious to me, but maybe there is hope for a wild card surprise from the Central right now?

    What’s the other half of the battle? GI Joe never bothered to tell use.

    • paperlions - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      Three of the last 80 playoff teams started the season 0-3. So, in the last 10 years, three teams went from 0-3 to the playoffs.

  5. sayheykidwschamp - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    Not that big a deal for any of the teams listed because it is only the first week and the first series. For the Giants, they had a terrible record after the first month gettig clobered by the Padres, Dbacks, Rockies and Dodgers. I think the Giants lost all of those first series. And guess what happened?

    But the chalk outline of Huff is telling. He just doesn’t have the speed to cover RF. And I think we were lucky last year with Huff’s OF Defense. But those ducksnorts made Huff look bad, but funny.

    As for the other teams, they have too much talent and veterans to get freaked out by a poor start. And why should the Rays be a surprise…they dumped too many key players. But they will be fine eventually with that farm system.

    • seeingwhatsticks - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:25 PM

      Generally I agree, but I do think we’ve now learned that Huff should probably not spend any time in RF at AT&T. He might be able to get away with it in certain stadiums, but for home games Schierholtz or Rowand (gasp) should probably take over RF until Ross comes back. Once that happens Huff becomes the primary LF and you can use Burrell in LF and shit Huff to 1B against tough lefties to give Belt a break.

  6. Erik Klemetti - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    Yeah, speaking as a Sox fan, I do not know a single person who is “panicking” beyond the media. I know you all love the storyline of Sox fans on the ledge, but sorry, it ain’t like that anymore. Lester has never had a good April anyway and Texas, hey, they’re good (imagine that). Talk to me in September.

    • gemini1512 - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:48 AM

      I really don’t think there is a need for the Sox to panic. The Sox weren’t really playing bad. Look at the performance Clay B. put on in the 3rd game. He pitched really well, he just happened to make 3-4 (really) bad pitches and the Rangers pounced on them. It’s no surprise that the Rangers like to hit homeruns at home.

      I’m a life long Ranger fan. I was actually feeling better about the pitching than I did about the offense. An offense that relies on the long ball to score worries me. There is no way they keep up that pace.

      • bobwsc - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:59 AM

        as a non-Ranger fan, I hope they can’t keep it up. as I was watching, all I could think was “murderers row”

  7. garlicfriesandbaseball - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Giants fans aren’t worried. We’re used to it. Look at it from another angle – Giants outscored the Dodgers by 7 runs in this series. We’re just getting warmed up! Stay tuned …..

  8. sportsdrenched - Apr 4, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    If I were a Red Sox fan I wouldn’t hit the pannick button. 159-3 is still an awesome record.

  9. Professor Longnose - Apr 4, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    The rule is you can’t panic unless you’re the appropriate number of games behind in the standings for the month you’re in:

    April: 8
    May: 9
    June: 10
    July: 9
    August: 8
    September: 5

  10. airraid77 - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    The rays have morphed into the typical AL team, hit the ball out of the park or they strike out. Their offense has gotten progressively gotten worse since their world series appearance.
    BUT as bad as the offense has gotten, the offense looks like the 27 yankees when you talk about their middle relief, set up people. that game that shields pitched…..saw that homerun the pitcher they brought in for shieldscoming from a planet a way.

  11. spudchukar - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Panic/Denial, Panic/Denial? What was evident after the first series were completed is that the Ranger offense is potent. The Harrison outing is encouraging. They are young, big, powerful and fast. Plus they catch the ball. If they get any pitching; look out.

  12. phukyouk - Apr 4, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    First of all if you are a Sox fan and panicking… you are not a Sox fan. Hell… they could start 0-8 and still have a 99% chance of making the playoffs. they lost 3 games.. who the fu*k cares. and this is coming from a die hard yankees fan.

    which brings me to my next point. I, for one, think that Yankees fans should be in a bit more panic mode if what we saw out of Hughes yesterday is going to be his 2011 season. I’m just hoping that hes still building up his arm strength and Velocity will not be an issue. but if it is the Yanks are in for a long long season.

    • riverace19 - Apr 4, 2011 at 1:22 PM

      Phil Hughes saw an increase of 71 innings pitched last year! It may be too early to say this, but the Verducci effect is IN EFFECT.
      He tailed off last year, and had several bad starts after June. After the reports out of spring training this year and yesterday’s starts, he should be a concern for any Yankees fan.

    • cba456 - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:10 PM

      Yeah, I’m not sure why yanks fans are so optimistic about hughes. He was stellar in 2009 and the first 2 months of 2010, but since beyond that, he’s been positively dice-k-ian. In fact, over the last 4 months of 2010, Dice-K had better numbers than hughes: they pitched the exact same number of innings (119), and dice-k had a better ERA (4.89 to 4.37), more strikeouts (108 to 89), lower OBP allowed, less hits allowed (though more walks, being Dice-k and all), less HR’s allowed etc. He’s young, but serious dips in velocity are not good.

  13. monsieurbear - Apr 4, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    Using the term “Frisco” may alienate a significant number of your readers.

  14. frankvzappa - Apr 4, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Red Sox in a coma, i know, i know, it’s serious…

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