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Are we the Yankees?

A friend of mine yesterday expressed a worry that I think many of us have been contemplating: are the Sox, or even Boston sports as a whole, becoming Yankees-level evil?

We've won 2 recent world series, every major available player seems destined to enter a 2-team bidding war, we have a combination of youth and high-priced bought talent that could keep us at or near the top of the division for years, going to a Sox game is no longer affordable for most families of four (somehow seems relevant to this)...

Still, the answer is no.

Aside from the obvious general moral superiority of Sox fandom to Yankees purgatory, the Sox are not just buying their way to the top. They have amassed a great deal of talent by good scouting (college, high school, preschool (don't ask) and international) and through patience. Some recent years, the Sox have had a good team but not good enough to win. In those years, the front office didn't sell the talent for Larry Anderson.

Also, we do not have a…

Bring out the old folks

As the Santana deal seems to fade, at least from view if not from the realm of possibility, the young guns in the Sox system (Ellsbury, Lester, Buchhhholz, Lowrie, Masterson, Bowden...) seem to be here for a little while longer at least. Miguel Cabrera is now off the table (a later post, I promise!) and I haven't heard any indication that the Sox are after Haren, Bedard or any other elite, young, available pitcher. So, what will happen this offseason?

We're going to sell the old folks.

Ok, not really old. But, it appears that the two "big" trading pieces that will move this offseason are not the young kids, but two veterans: Tavarez and Coco.

Coco is a very valuable commodity. He's a gold glove-level centerfielder. His hitting numbers could be worse. There's history to give credence to the idea that he may hit well someday again. And he's a hard worker and seemingly great guy. I think the Rangers and Twins are interested. I'm sure some others ar…

A lil trade analysis fo dat ass

If the Sox can pull off a deal for Johan Santana, they will have the best rotation in baseball and will be the favorites to repeat. However, there are a lot of questions out there about this deal. Let's run through a few.
How can the Sawx let Jacoby leave? Because he's not Johnny Damon in his prime. He's a kid. Yes, he could be Damon this year or next and be a force at the top of the lineup. He also could be Ricky Ledee. In 1999, Ledee was going to be a star for the Yankees in the outfield. He was coming off helping them win a World Series and taking over as a starter during the 1998 playoffs. Ellsbury could be brilliant; I feel that he will. But he also could be a complete bust, injury-prone, or even some sort of head-case. I love Jacoby, but the point is that we don't know what he'll do. We have a much better idea of what Johan Santana will give us.Santana is losing it. Maybe a bit, but that bit still makes him the best shot to be the best lefty in base…

Decision of the aging free agent star

In the wake of the best decision of Mike Lowell's life, I wanted to wax poetic... or maybe just talk about why Mike Lowell is better (morally?) than Johnny Damon. Lowell understands that he is in a great place, a place where he can retire someday as a hero. He can break down like Trot did and the fans will still love him because of his track record, his leadership, his character, and the fact that he never dogs it. He understands perhaps that when he retires, he can pitch used cars all over New England for the rest of his life because of this decision. He can hawk the best buffalo wings in Newton or sell us the nicest glasses in Fall River for as long as he wants.

Johnny Damon would have been a legend. He would have remained a cult hero, if he had stayed. He's not a superstar any more. But he would have been highly marketable for the rest of his career and probably afterwards. It's very likely that Damon's marketability would have been so much greater as a long-…

Maybe the answer

In every story I've read about the 3B market (Lowell & A-Rod), the Globe mentions Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins. Today's article mentioned that we might be more interested in him playing 1B. That move would probably upset fans because we all love Youk - and for good reason especially now with his well-deserved Gold Glove. However, obtaining Cabrera, if possible, is the right move to solve the Sox' biggest long-term problem: where is the thump in the lineup going to come from as Manny and Papi get older (and as Manny's contract runs out after this year).

Cabrera is the best clone of a young Manny in baseball today. If we can get him, put him at first for a year, maybe move Youk to third, don't sign Lowell (it hurts to type that), and then move Cabrera to left after this year to replace Manny. This guy is insanely good, and 24 years old.

Good small move #1

Not only did the Sox exercise the option on Wake's contract - which is a no brainer if there's a reasonable chance he can move his right shoulder next year - but they exercised the option on Julian Tavarez. While I agree that he's not great, that he wasn't good enough for a postseason roster spot, etc., I think this is a very very good move.

Schilling is gone next year. The rotation looks to be Beckett, Dice-K, Wake, Lester, Buchholz. I like it, but there are a lot of if's in there. You need to have someone capable of making 20 starts if someone goes down or one of the kids falters. You need that person to be somewhat capable out of the pen. You need that guy to not pull a Jay Payton if he never has a set role. Do you want Kyle Snyder for that? David Pauley? Bob Stanley? I'll go with JT. And, we get to see the traffic cop for another maybe-crazy year.

What's that feeling?

Am I just tired from staying up too late watching these games, or is my excitement really significantly lower than the last time around? I thought that I wasn't spoiled. I thought that I would still be floored. Not quite, but I still love it.

I do thank Jamey Carroll for rousing me just as the game came towards it's end. I stood up and exclaimed something like "Jamey Carrol is their (next to) last hope? That guy played for the Vermont Expos. He was small on THAT team." Then, he almost broke my heart. What a nice play by Jacoby to get that ball. Though, I have to admit that while I have no reservations about Jacoby taking over center next year, he really is not as good out their as Coco.

One thing that does remind me of the last time around: the Sox came into the Series where I really had confidence they'd win. The first time I didn't voice that opinion because, you know, Babe was watching. This time, I felt pretty good saying that we were a far bette…

Sox fans in VT prepare

Since this is about the only time they'll ever be articles about the Sox focused on Vermont, I thought I'd share one from today's Burlington Free Press. Please note that the reported neglected to note the Vermont Red Sox blog of record: mine. Regardless, it's good. Though, she's tredding well-trodden ground, especially since I've already mentioned all the people she interviewed. It's not like there are Sox fans in Vermont who do NOT read my blog. As if.

Enjoy.

I love this outfield (today)

In the back of my mind as the season went on, I often thought about how nice it would be if JD Drew would really hit in the playoffs. Well, it hasn't happened, until tonight. This would be a different offense if that continued.

Ellsbury deserves to be the starter. Simply, he's the better player. Everything Coco gives you (baserunning, defense, a cool name) Jacoby gives you. He also can hit the ball, which is nice sometimes. On top of that, I'd rather have Coco as the late inning pinchrunner than Jacoby. They're both very fast, but Coco has more experience.

So you're saying there's a chance...

What a great game last night. Beckett is simply amazing. I'm not sure why the Sox didn't pull him after seven, go with Oki, then Pap, and thus leave a bit more of a window to get a few innings from Josh in game 7 if absolutely needed. But the point is to win, and leaving Beckett in for this game was the surest way to ensure that.

Let's give credit where credit is due: Youk is really hitting well. He's working the count like he always does, but he's looked aggressive and, unlike his usual at bats against elite power pitchers, he hasn't looked the least bit overmatched.

I'm usually in the camp with Tito of stay with the guys that got you here, don't change for the sake of change, don't show panic by giving up on a player, etc. I agreed wholeheartedly with this approach to the early season Pedroia-Cora controversy. However, I do think it's time that Ellsbury (or even Kielty) start. Coco is struggling soooooo badly. His "at bat" when…

Mid-game brain dump

Years ago, my buddy and I marveled at how good Al Leiter was at calling the playoffs. I say this to sucker you into thinking that I like some non-NESN announcers. That established, let me say that I don't like Buck or McCarver. Now, let me move on to the less obvious things:
Dane Cook is really annoying me. Is there any quicker way to annoy your fan base then being that ad guy? His excitement: not contagious.What would Eric Karros's hair say if it could talk?Why don't more pitchers do the old school windup like Byrd?
Jhonny has limited range at best.I died a little when Youk finally had an error - though I don't think it'll cost in the record books.

Coincidence?

Maybe you think that cable in Burlington Vermont on the municipally-chartered system goes out when the Sox fall down 7-0 in the 5th inning of the 4th game of the ALCS by coincidence. But that's why I'm the blogger, and you're just... you know what you are.

Thanks go out to the industrious denizen of Burlington who, realizing that "reality" was closing, took it into his (or her) own hands (or hand) to take out (or on) the man (or woman) who runs the cable system that is allowing the propoganda of Sox defeat to infiltrate. We all know that in this media blackout, the Sox are winning. I refuse to relocate to a local watering hole to see more of the man's lies. In some reality, somewhere, the Sox are winning.

Shit, the cable just came back on (no, I'm not kidding).

I'd like to note that the cable, at least in my house, really did go out. I can't believe I came back to see highlights of back-to-back-to-back jacks. We're not all the way back, but…

The Girard theory

Joe Girard just suggested that Beckett is injured, that's why he's not starting. Interesting. I don't believe it, but interesting. I think that the Sox realize they have a 17 game winner with good postseason creds going tonight, and a short short leash. I'd like to see Jon Lester warming up now.

Game $&#^*(^ on!

This is going to be a fantastic game. The two best teams in baseball, a great collection of young and veteran stars, the two best pitchers in the game, great bullpens, even a former Sox catcher managing the other team (lost him in the expansion draft). I am so excited for a great great game. Please don't disappoint...

Just like beer goggles

This is something random, probably better discussed after the season, but hell, I get to say what I want; that's why they call it a blog! Wait... that's not why... shit.

What do we miss out on by watching the Sox on NESN, a station owned by the Red Sox? If it weren't the Sox, we'd be up in arms. Think about media filters through which we see politics. Think about biased interpretations of reality by reporters. NESN gets a pass because it's the Red Sox and because we love Remy & Orsillo.

Anyway, it's something to think about and discuss. Maybe I'll have more at a later date.

Tuesday: I can't wait!

Here's a quick rundown of the schedule for the big series:
Friday: Sabathia vs Beckett, 7pm, Boston
Saturday: Carmona vs Schill, 8pm, Boston
Monday: Dice-K vs. Westbrook, 7pm, Cleveland
Tuesday: Wake vs. Byrd, 8pm, Cleveland
Thursday: 8pm, Cleveland
Saturday: TBA, Boston
Sunday: TBA, Jericho VermontThat is all I was going to write... but I have to make this point first:Wakefield vs. Byrd!!!!! There has never been a matchup of two pitchers using less velocity to get people out, this side of my slow pitch softball league. Byrd rivals Wake in this department, and they still call his pitches "fastballs." While Wake's mockingly-slow pitches move so much that a man whose only professional skill is catching the ball can't catch that ball, Byrd hasn't walked a guy since the deadball era. Also, please revel in Byrd's windup. It's emotionally jarring.


A few quick things

I just read over this ESPN breakdown of the upcoming series and I thought it was pretty good. It seems to foreshadow what might be a great series with the Indians. Check it out here.

It is extremely annoying that MLB isn't having teams play Fri, Sat, and Sun. in the playoffs. The Sox have this Sunday off. Ok, it's probably a travel day, but still! We get to watch games on the weekend so we want to have games to watch. It's also annoying that they rest more in the playoffs then in the regular season. It gives an advantage to teams with shorter starting rotations.

What a great game!

Good lord. What a game. I'm still excited and tired from the game last night. That was the best moment of the season (so far?). It not only was fun to watch, but it could be the catalyst needed to get the Sox back to playing like they did before the All Star break.

Here's why this is such a huge moment:
Manny might get hot. Watch out.A dangerous Manny might make Scioscia think twice before intentionally walking Papi - they walked him FOUR TIMES yesterday! Pitching to Papi, and more willingness to throw him strikes makes him a better player. That is why Papi bats 3rd rather than cleanup. He's more in need of lineup protection than Manny usually is because he's more liable to go with a bad pitch rather than weighting for his as Manny does. That's one reason why his power is down: Manny has struggled, they've pitched around Papi more, and he's swung at those pitches and hit them for singles.It felt like the Sox backed into the playoffs. They needed a r…

Best is not always best

The California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Angeles CaliAniheim scare me.

The BoSox officially have the best record in baseball and home field advantage throughout. That's fantastic, and amazing given how we all felt a few weeks ago.

However, it means they have to play the Angels in the first round, starting on Wednesday (oddly, by their choice). They would play the wild card team, but that team is the Yankees and you can't play a team from your division in the first round - even the Yankees' mediocrity pisses me off. Anyway, the Sox have to play the Halos which is not a good thing. But, all the teams in the AL are good so, regardless, they will have to fight hard to win anything, as they should.

Pent-up Sox talk

Here are some random thoughts:
I salute Julian Tavarez. He might not make the playoff roster even, but he started 22 games this year, usually gave us a chance to win, was entertaining and slightly insane/scary, petted Manny, and seemed to be blessed with a rubber arm. The man has thrown 131 innings so far this year and won 7 games, those numbers would put him second in both categories if he were still a teammate of Wily Mo Pena's (on the Gnats).Talk amongst yourselves; I'll give you a topic: I hate Royce Clayton.
I'm still trying to figure out how the Sox might use Ellsbury in the playoffs. He's nastly and I can't wait for him to be the every day guy. But do you bench Coco for him? Do you put him in for Drew and have two speedsters out there? Do you really think he could steal the base today that Dave Roberts stole in game 4? No is the answer to the last one, in case you were wondering.
Why does major league baseball hate Johnny Pesky? Does Theo Epstein hate B…

Tito > Ralph Hauk

Just so I'm on the record on the topic: I like Francona a lot. I was surprised to learn that he's the first Sox manager to take them to the postseason 3 times. Sign him. Honestly, I hope we have him around for a long long time.

A few thoughts on the playoff outlook

The Sox are in pretty solid shape going into the playoffs. Manny is back and the good side of Manny being Manny is that Manny is Manny which means many Manny hits. Manny. He's 5 for 12 since he's returned, with no extra base hits. I'm not worried about that though. He could be o-fer and still be a feared presence in the lineup. Pitchers are afraid of him which changes how they pitch to everyone else. Any day his is a threat to win you a game as much single-handedly as any hitter can.

Most importantly, Dice-K pitched well yesterday. I'm a bit at a loss as to why he through 119 pitches and 8 innings in his last start before the playoffs when he's seemed tired, but, on the other hand, he was throwing around 95 in the 8th with serious zip that you could see, something that h as really been missing. If he can pitch like he's capable of, we have a very strong rotation for the playoffs.

Today's start by Wake is important in that the reason why the Sox are c…

So happy...

They finally knocked the Yankees off from their AL East pedestal. I really really wanted this to happen. And, it happened in such a great way: Dice-K showed up at last, Mo Rivera again showed he's fallible these days, the Yanks lost in a demoralizing way...

The Sox have to feel good about where they stand right now. I really hope they can take the best record in the division so they can at least have home field advantage if they play the Angels, who really scare me.

God speed. (Oh, by the way, I'm back)

Vermont Author; Sox theme; 'nough said.

Since no one really wants to talk about the real Sox today, let's venture into fiction. I recently read a book by Vermont novelist Howard Frank Mosher called "Waiting for Teddy Williams." Since this is Vermont, Sox-related, and perhaps a distraction from the freefall, I thought I'd mention it. It's a well written novel about a child, Ethan Allen, in a Northeast Kingdom town called Kingdom Common. He might be more obsessed with baseball than even I was as a child. He dreams of being a player on the Sox, and surviving as a "wrong side of the tracks" kid in a forgotten, rural village. The characters are wonderful; the story is entertaining; the baseball is captivating. I have yet to decide why the author uses such stock names in his fictitious world, but, while that is mildly distracting, it does not hurt the book overall. If you want a nice, late-summer read, you should check it out.

The impetus for this little "review" was an interview t…

The Why

There are two primary reason the Sox are free falling. First, they have an offense barely good enough when healthy to win. Then, you take out Manny. You are left with a poor offense not able to score enough runs to win games. On top of that, Youk is out, Coco is out (meaning Kielty or Moss has to play in edition to Jacoby), Tek can't hit anything, and Lugo and Drew continue to be half the offensive presences we thought we were getting.

Second, our greatest strength - our bullpen - has imploded. This is not a case of them showing their true colors. These are legitimate, big-time relievers. You know you have a good bullpen when you're two worst pitchers, your Dennis Lamp 5th inning specialists (Snyder and Lopez), have ERAs under 4.00.

Gagne and Oki have had tons of problems handing Pap a lead of late. Mini-Manny is just not reliable yet. Timlin and Papelbon joined their colleague's struggles last night. If this is going to continue, there's not much that can be …

Status check

Even as the Sox gasp for air, I have not given up hope for regular and post-season success this year. The reason is that we are playing our B-squad right now and we're doing the things necessary to have a chance of putting that best-record-in-baseball team back on the field in the playoffs.

They are taking their time with Manny. I said to a friend yesterday that I was starting to get suspicious of Manny's injury, that I was starting to pick up the stink of the dark side of MbM (Manny being Manny). However, Gordon Edes did a great job today not just regurgitating the Sox party line about the injury, but looking outside the RSN to what this injury has done to other players in MLB. He wrote:
Orioles lefthander Erik Bedard, considered by many a Cy Young candidate, shut down for the season with a strained oblique. Yankees outfielder Bobby Abreu missed three weeks in spring training, while Tampa Bay third baseman Akinori Iwamura missed over a month. When he was first injured, said …

The Northeast's DMZ

Growing up in the quiet corner of Connecticut (aka "the New England part of Connecticut"), my view of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry and the resulting fissure in the northeast was exemplified by two of my best friends: Kurt & Rich. These identical twin brothers disagreed about almost everything, yet few things sparked argument like the Sox versus the Yanks. Rich defended Mike Greenwell against the onslaught of Kurt's Don Mattingly love. I'm not sure if the debate was ever resolved. Though I maintain to this day that the Gator had a far more creative nickname than Donnie Baseball. (Any thoughts as to how a kid from Kentucky gets the "Gator" nickname? Do I remember he wrestled them?)

I bring this up now because... well because it's my blog. My friend passed along this map and it got me to thinking about the geography of the heart of Red Sox Nation. First, let me restate something: the RSN I refer to has NOTHING to do with the stupid entity run by …

Lighten up

With the Red Sox in apparent free-fall, they resorted to what all great athletes do when they're slumping: dressed in drag. As we've seen, there are distinct cultural differences between the players of different nationalities. This was clearly on display when Dice-K put on his green tella tubby outfit. However the best might be Jacoby Ellsbury dressed as Little Red Riding Hood.

Bring it on

I hope Buchholz had a good night sleep last night. He's likely to get the call early on today given the way Dice-K has "pitched" lately. Tavarez would also be an option, but he pitched 3 innings on Wednesday and Tito would have a tough time not pulling the trigger on bringing in the star of the hour on the biggest stage. He has at least sipped the kool aid with the rest of us. Maybe we can get some more dominate, "structured" innings from Clay.

As Gordon Edes points out this morning, the Sox have played .600 ball since the break (53-34) but have still dropped from a 9 1/2 game lead to 5 1/2. The Yankees have simply been that good in the second half. The Sox have some serious long-term worries in the health- and/or fatigue-caused struggles of Dice-K and Wake. They have more short term worries as well, like how many games this weekend will Manny play and how is he swinging. Yet, they remain in a strong position. The Yankees hold a "comfortable" …

The W-L record of closers

Good closers should have very few decisions. That is, obviously you don't want your closer to have a 1-7 record; that would mean he lost a ton of games for you. But, you also do NOT want him to have a 7-1 record. If he wins a game, that generally means he first blew a lead, then you're team scored in the next half inning to win it.

Wednesday's victory by Papelbon is the exception to this rule. It was the rare case - especially for the Sox with their coddled stopper - when he comes in with the team not leading, then they came back on his watch, giving him credit for the victory.

Beta testing a Sox relocation to Jericho, VT

Jericho, VT - I don't know a whole lot about this guy, but I love him. He built a miniature Fenway Park (and now a mini-Wrigley Field) in his yard in Jericho. Jericho is a beautiful little town just north of Burlington. By Vermont standards, it's big. By earth standards, it's a park. I love it. You know Jericho: just next to Underhill? By Westford? Home of the VT Speaker of the House and... it's Jericho ok?!?! It's now the Hub of local Soxiness.


I am admittedly a late-comer to this beautiful local story of Sox fandom. I was driving through Jericho on the way to a hike this summer, and there was a hand-written sign directing me to "Little Wrigley." Against my better judgment, I passed on by. I figured it might be a kid's birthday party or something. The next day there was an article in the Burlington Free Press about it (though I can't find it anywhere). Now I really want to participate in a game there, bringing out the nasty curve and …

Are those crickets?

Anybody else wondering what happened to all those people at the beginning of the season who thought the Sox should bench Pedroia and play Cora? I don't hear anyone saying they were wrong. Everyone loves Pedroia now and always has. Obviously.

Just a thought...

Cash money

I still maintain that Kevin Cash hits like Josh Bard caught. But, he has been extremely valuable this season. Imagine how yesterday would have gone if Cash had been letting balls by him, the few ones that made it past the Tampa Bay bats.

If he could hit at all, I'd say that he might be the answer to finding a replacement for Mirebelli, who really seems on his last legs. I'm still haunted by the Mirabelli-Wake interview in spring training in which Wake said he might retired if he had to throw to anyone but Dougy again (a la the Bard Experiment). I do love Dougy, but to pin the longevity of Wake's career to that of an old backup catcher is bad news. Dougy might have another year after this one, but Wake could pitch 5 or 6 more if he wants. It scares me that Wake might retire prematurely because it become impractical to keep a backup catcher who needs a walker to get to the plate.

Hey Rook!

Watching yesterday's painful game, one of the interesting subplots was that the two top American League Rookie of the Year candidates were playing: Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Rays' rightfielder Delmon Young. Of course, I think this is a no-brainer. Pedroia is batting .325 at the top of the order of the best team in baseball. D.P. has also become a master at the D.P. and every other aspect of the defensive game. He might not have Rey Sanchez range, but he has just 5 errors and a .991 fielding percentage - amazingly, that only ties him for fourth in the league. He does rank pretty high on the subjective "zone rating" statistic which is supposed to gauge how many balls a player gets to that he should get; he's 4th in the league which isn't bad since that's supposed to be his weakness.

Anyway, that's not why I'm writing. I was just caught up in the fun of those sortable fielding stats. What does that say about me? Never mind...

What&…

The Wall (not the good, green one)

Dice-K definitely HAS hit a wall. The only solution is rest. He's not going to fight through it.

Last year, the dominant rookie pitcher in baseball was Justin Verlander. As the Tigers progressed towards the playoffs, his manager skipped his start just prior to the playoffs. He had been struggling and was admittedly tired by that point. He'd pitched way more innings then he ever had previously in his life. He proceeded to struggle in each of his playoff starts. He is a great pitcher, but he was tired and the Tigers advanced in October in spite of him. The Red Sox cannot afford to count on the same luck.

The Red Sox should skip Dice-K's next start completely. Not push it back. Not limit his innings. Rest him for an extra cycle through the rotation. Then, bring him back and let him pitch on a small pitch count (80 perhaps?). If we're still in good shape for winning the AL East by that point, keep him on a very limited pitch count and hope he'll regain his …

A lost treasure

In looking at post that I have started but not finished or published, I noticed one from more than two years ago. I don't know the exact context, but I'm going to publish it anyway, because I think it's funny and sort of blast-from-the-past interesting. This was written on Aug. 22, 2005, a day after a kid named Papelbon started, part of the Roberto Petigine era in Red Sox history. It has not been edited at all. You are welcome...
The fans have pushed these moves since... probably week two of this season. The Boston sports media proded the organization as they "spoke for" the worried fans all season. Now, let's see if this all works. John Olerud is the starting first baseman, replacing the remarkably punchless Kevin Millar. Tony Graffinino seems to have solidified his status as wicked great at not being Mark Bellhorn. Now if Jim Rice can get in the Hall... and Dan Duquette teams with Bill Buckner to fight a pissed off bear... and Fenway tickets were only $1…

But can he play in October?

It looks like the answer to that question is yes for at least 2 players (as in, Ellsbury and Buchholz). That is, my understanding of other people's understanding is that the Sox could add any two players who were anywhere in the organization at midnight on 8/31 to the playoff roster. I say two players because Brenden Donnelly and Matt Clement are on the DL. If someone else is added to the DL (the 15-Day or 60-Day) as we enter the post-season, that would be another spot that can be filled by anyone in the organization.

Apparently there used to be a position-for-position rule that is not gone. That is, prior to this year, if you put and outfielder on the DL, you could only replace him with an outfielder, but you could replace him with any outfielder in the organization. The other interesting change is that if someone is injured mid-playoff series, he can be replaced mid-series. He would then be done for the remainder of that and all of the next series. But, that's a great…

The 60-Day DL crew

I actually tried to write this question to Gordon Edes but I guess it wasn't "mailbag" worthy.

With Matt Clement throwing a simulated game yesterday, I was thinking about the rehab process for people like Clement and Brenden Donnelly, who both had Tommy John surgery. It usually takes about one and a half years to fully recover from that. Some people come back earlier, but usually they come back without their full arsenal.

Clement has been working out all year in Florida in hopes of coming back. He's under contract with the Sox so they have an obligation to handle his rehab and pay for it. On the other hand, Donnelly signed a one year deal prior to this year with the Sox. He just had the surgery. He's 35 years old, but given that he didn't enter the majors until he was 30, fought so hard to get to the majors, and has been very productive in his 6 years in the majors, it seems that he'd want to pitch again. To do that, he'll have to do extensive r…

Another report from the margins

Why did the Sox send former Craig Breslow (a lefty reliever) back to Pawtucket for the PawSox finale and call up Devern Hansack (righty starter) instead? It seems to make more sense to have an extra lefty and a guy used to relieving.

My guess is that this was a move done to delay or avoid another 40-man roster move, and that their end-goal is to have both on the active roster. They already moved Donnelly to the 60-day DL to make room, so they are limited in terms of movable pieces. They had to move Breslow off the 40-man to make room for Hansack. Also, Hansack wasn't going to start that finale and Breslow did end up pitching (and losing) so it was... or could have been helpful for the PawSox. We'll see if Breslow comes back or not. If not, he's officially on vacation given the PawSox 4th place finish. Or, maybe he and a couple other possible emergency reserves will go to Florida or somewhere to stay ready.

On another note: every wonder what happened to legendary rock …

Table-setters of the (near) future

It's the 4th inning of the game against the Jays and the Sox are up 10-1 with Dice-K on the mound. That in itself makes me smile. What also draws my interest is the top of the order.

Jacoby Ellsbury is 2 for 2 with a walk, 3 runs scored batting leadoff. Pedroia is 3 for 3 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBIs batting second. That is the future top of the order for the Sox. And it is very likely that that future will be in full effect leaving spring training next year.

While I actually really like having Youk bat second because of the way he works pitchers, I don't see how you could do much better then Pedroia. He gets on base a ton, handles the bat well, never strikes out (second hardest in the league) and seems like a very smart baserunner. The only drawback I can see is that he can't seem to bunt. That won't be a big deal on any Sox team (or any AL team not coached my Mike Scioscia) I can envision. While I don't get how someone as fundamentally sound and, frankly,…

What's in store for Clay here on out?

As the Sox think about what role Clay Buchholz should have the remainder of this season, there are many factors at play. One of those should NOT be our collective emotion following the no-hitter. For some reason, the Sox brass doesn't want to reveal their innings cut-off for young pitchers. I'm not sure what competitive advantage they'd be yielding by publicly saying that they don't want prospects pitching more than 150 innings in a season. Regardless, Buchholz is at 140 right now and I think that around 150 is where they'd like to stop him. That means they can maybe let him start next time around and give the big guys an extra day off. Then they could use him sparingly in the bullpen for the following few weeks and give him the last start of the season, assuming that it doesn't matter. With about 5 or 6 times around the rotation remaining, Clay won't be asked to start all those games and risk pitching 30 more innings this season.

Another issue here i…

Cosmic Rule of the Game

EVERY no-hitter includes at least one great defensive play. Buchholz owes Pedrioa dinner. If you're watching a no-hitter develop, and you haven't seen a great defensive play yet, there either will be one or you will not see a no hitter that day.

Clay, you're a beautiful baby (and why do I have to even write about Royce Clayton?)

Wow, what a weekend for the Sox youth movement. The player development team has to be grinning from ear to ear. I still can't quite believe what Buchholz did. I also can't believe that I didn't see the game - or that my dad did watch most of it, but didn't realize what was going on! With Buchholz yesterday, Lester today, Pedroia all year, and some glipses at what Ellsbury brings to the table, it's been a fun few days. Now if Brandon Moss would start hitting a bit it'd be perfect.

I don't claim in the least to be smart enough to have seen this coming, but I do like that the day I posted the 5th starter post was the first of three straight days where we were able to see the 3 main candidates. And I think Marty is schedule for tomorrow right?

I am not (yet) eating my words about Lester after today's game. Lester walked 4 and struckout only 1 in six innings. That is not a good sign for a reputed "power pitcher." I am not writing him off, bu…

The 5th Starter Going Forward

The Sox have a few options for the rest of the year for their 5th starter. They have 3 off days remaining on the schedule and could probably skip the 5th guy if necessary at least 2 of those times. If the Sox can maintain or expand their division lead, they'll probably use the full 5 man rotation until the end and use the off days to give their guys an extra day off. They probably also hope to give that last start against Minnesota to a rookie and set up the rotation for the playoffs. Here are the options I see for the last 6 times around the rotation:
Jon Lester - The Sox seem to want to go this way. I myself have not been impressed. His is a case of lefthander inflation: his stuff is good but deemed great because he's a southpaw. He has terrible control, pitches away from contact, has a good curve, working on his cutter and change, and a decent fastball. His fastball is the issue to me: he throws it around 92 and he leaves it up as if he's Justin Verlander. He…

Because it matters!

I know this is a business, but that doesn't mean I have to like everything that means. For instance, why do we need to organize and have an "official" Red Sox Nation? Can't it just be an abstract idea? Why does Remy need to constantly talk about his web site and merchandise? I wish that every statistic, every at bat, every inning wasn't "brought to you by" anything. "Excuse me sir, in which isle can I find the official shaving cream of the Boston Red Sox?"

But, I accept that this is reality and that it helps pay for us to have a competitive team.

That being said, the Sox have announced the finalists for President of Red Sox Nation. Here is why there is only one real candidate: Patrick Kennedy of, you guessed it, Vermont.You can't vote for a celebrity. That's ridiculous. Remy can be the honorary chairman, but not the friggin' president. We need someone responsible for the day-to-day operations, not just a figure-head.
I'm n…

Emotionally draining series

Yesterday's game hurt. I'm not sure why it hurt so badly but it really annoyed me. From what I saw (couldn't watch the afternoon game), we played good defense and pitched well enough to win each game. Unfortunately, we let three decent pitchers look like Cy Young. The loss of Manny was huge. But our inability and/or unwillingness to play small ball also hurts when we're struggling so mightily. And we can expect more from a bunch of high priced veteran players such as Lugo, Crisp, and Drew (!!!!). I still feel very good about our chances to win the division, but we need to hit better if we have any hope of going deep in October.

I'm too frustrated right now to think of possible solutions and changes. At this point in the season, it seems that hoping for some renewed life in the bats is about all we can hope for.

Get the playpen and sandbox ready. Here come the kids.

The good news regarding the timing of the Manny injury is that we are 2 days away from September, the season of the call-up. Bobby Kielty is banged up as well; Youk winced when he slid in to third yesterday; and it's starting to feel like we're on the verge seeing last year's triage unit again. At least we'll soon have Jacoby, Brandon Moss and Jed Lowrie (right) as options on the bench (maybe Kottaras as well, though we'll already have 3 catchers). And we'll also have veteran additions like Mirabelli off the DL, Royce Clayton (ouch), and maybe sup-sub Joe McEwing. Since I'm on this topic let me go on the record that I hope we call up Bobby Scales. He can play outfield or infield (remember his great plays in the spring?) and he has never played in the majors after 8 years in the minors. I want to see this guys get his Moonlight Graham moment, if nothing else.

In the bullpen, we'll probably see Buchholz, lefty Craig Breslow, and maybe even a Craig H…

Well, it's still 6.0 games. Right?

If they lose today, I will not switch to manic mode. Now, repeat this for the next few hours...

This will be my last entry this week talking about a loss as not that bad. I still believe we will win the division even if we lose today. However, I really don't want to test that theory.

Regarding last night's game (and sorry for not posting anything before or after, my computer sucks), the Sox main problem is a rather weak offense. They do have an ability to explode for runs given the talent they have in their lineup, as we saw in Chicago. However, they lack much power and the ability to play small ball well. And without Manny, forgetaboutit. This is another example of why we are really hurt by getting such a bad version of JD Drew. He had his chances again last night and he failed. That, coupled with the lack of power from Lugo, Coco and Pedroia, gives up 4 spots in the lineup with zero power. Then you have Youk and Tek hitting with only a little power and Manny out of t…

A little wrap-up

Last night the Sox lost a good game to a pretty decent team starting their best pitcher. Pettite is the crowned prince of crafty lefties and the Sox hate crafty lefties, or really, any lefty. We were shut down earlier this year by Lenny DiNardo! That's the same Lenny that we drafted and didn't sign out of college, later snagged from the Mets in the rule 5 draft then proceeded to use some creative maneuverings to keep hold of him while not actually "playing" him (I've never seen a team so eager to put a player on the DL before), then we let him sign with the A's... my point is that he's not exactly Bob Gibson. We scored a few runs off Pettite but not enough to win.

The great failure was not scoring against Joba "the Hut" Chamberlain. Youk did what he does so well: walked. That's where young guns start questioning their mastery of the strikezone. But Ortiz then let him off the hook with a first pitch swing (seems like a new, and danger…

The Yankees Series

We have the nails ready for the coffin, but I'm not sure if we have the necessary hammer available. Let me check...

Are you ready for this Series?

It is looking pretty good right now for the Sox: 8 game lead, healthy pitching staff, warming Papi, stellar Pedroia and Lowell, improving Youk and Lugo, great bullpen, and strong defense.

I think we look ready with the pitching match ups this weekend. Nick Cafardo for the Globe mentioned on NESN that the Yankees pitching was good enough because of young Joba Chamberlain now in the bullpen. I think this kid has pitched 6 games so far. Yes, he's lights out, but with the glaring exception of K-Rod, great teams don't depend on late season call-up rookies to help close out games. Would you feel good if the Sox handed mini-Manny the ball every 8th inning? Delcarman is great, but not ready for that pressure and I'm guessing Joba is in the same boat.

The Yankees can seriously pound the ball. They will score their runs this series…

Bizarro-pen

Watching Fox cover the Sox game today (I know, it hurts me too), the only benefit was a mention of Greg Harris. It made me think about Mr. Harris and some other great odd balls in Red Sox bullpens past. Here's a list. I have done next to no research to suplement this list with "facts", so feel free to pipe in if I made something up.
Rich Garces - El Guopo. What else needs to be said? The man ATE poor Jin Ho Cho.
Greg Harris - the man decided he could throw lefthanded. Not a bad thing, if he weren't righthanded.
Matt Young - he caught the bizarre SteveSax-Knoblauch-MackeySasser syndrome. He could throw a ball rather well to home plate, but had a mental block against throwing it to first. Very weird. I think he also may have been part of a combine no-hitter.
Dave McCarty - he was a firstbaseman with a 90 mph fastball.
Ron Mahay - he made the Sox as an outfielder during the strike of 1995. He was an expansion player (and thus still not allowed in the players' u…

Eck? What are they paying you for?

Alright, this has been on my mind for a while, but now that I'm back into the blog thing, I said to myself, "Hey, Wally, you should write about that." Wow. Me advise me well.

Ok, so this is an amazingly dated gripe. So what... In the preseason, Dennis Eckersley, one of NESN's gaggle of awful Tom Caron studio sidekicks (see note below), talked about how Dice-K was going to have to adjust to the size of the American baseball. Caron asked if Eck had checked out the Japanese version. "No". What? You're a hall of fame pitcher asked to comment about baseball on a team who's biggest off-season acquisition came from Japan. You should have had a ball shipped to you and then told the Nation all about what it felt like. You spent roughly 86 years throwing the thing. You should analyse the difference. That's your job! I still have yet to hear or read any firsthand analysis of what the difference is and what that really means. Yet, every "j…

More on Carter

This is along the lines of what I was interesting in hearing about the Sox new 1B prospect Chris Carter, acquired for Wily Mo. And, this is from the Legend himself, my hero, Peter Gammons:
Carter is an interesting acquisition, because he's always hit and because the Red Sox are looking for a first baseman. Scouts I talked to seem to feel that he's most likely going to have to be a designated hitter, a position that's already filled in Boston. But there's no harm in taking that bat and taking a chance.

The future of first

Ok, two straight years of the Youk late season meltdown has to make everyone question some things. Why is this happening? Will it continue to happen? Should we factor this in for the future plans?

You've seen the stats so I don't need to repeat them. The fact is that Youk has wilted in the late summer heat both of his full seasons with the Sox. I do not think it's a factor of not being in shape. I don't believe for a second that Youk does not work his ass off in the off season to be in the best shape he can. I think his un-Kapler profile is just the way god made him and he'll look that way if he hits the donuts or if he works out 380 days a year (he gets comp. days for being extra badass).

My opinion is that this is simply a shortcoming of the player. I think he's a marginal talent whose understanding of the game and hard work are the reasons he has made it this far. This is not a bad thing, but it is a reality. 162 games is grueling, especially when you …

tid bits

The Rangers v. Orioles game yesterday - 30-6 - was amazing. I still can't wrap my mind around that many runs. It is easier... more understandable coming in the first game of a doubleheader because no manager worth his salt (like the Orioles chief who just received a contract extension. I'm sure he's so excited to bring this franchise back!) would use up his bullpen in game 1 to simply minimize how much you lose game 1 by. The game was lost so you keep your guy (Paul Shuey) in and let him get smacked, rather than ruin your bullpen trying to minimize the damage, and thus hurting your chances of winning game 2 (which they also lost).former Sox outfielder and part of the Rangers club that killed the Orioles yesterday David Murphy should have played more for the Sox this year. He could have hit as well as Hinske and Pena and played better outfield defense, including centerfield. He has a moderate level talent ceiling so you're not spoiling a top prospect by keeping hi…