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Showing posts from August, 2007

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…

the corner infielders

Mike Lowell was hit by a pitch tonight which led me to think more about the firstbase/thirdbase situation, especially for next year. Add to that the acquisition of Triple-A firstbase prospect Chris Carter today, and one has to wonder what the plans are.

It seems like in the ideal world, the Sox would sign Lowell to a one year deal. However, I highly doubt he'd be willing to do that. That would be an unreasonable "hometown discount" to expect. Lowell is 33 years old, talented, very popular with fans and teammates, and coming off one of his best years ever. He is the prototype of the guy who's looking for a long term deal. That, taken with what I expect will be some hometown discount because Lowell obviously wants to stay in Boston, leads me to expect Lowell to ask for at least 3 years. If he were talking to, say, Tampa Bay, he'd probably want 5 years.

So, can the Sox and Lowell reach a deal on 3 years? I sort of doubt it. I bet Theo et al can cite stats ad…

Rocket?

This falls within my beloved out of nowhere category. I don't think it's right of me to have a Sox blog without posting this fantastic spoof of "the Rocket" trying to join the Yankees a bit past his prime. Please watch it enough times that you know every work and the border between reality and this spoof is blurred. Thank you.

Does anyone think that Clemens, Mussina and Pettite are still very good? Are they collecting social security yet? Wow, they were really good in the 90s though.

More about catchers and knuckleballers

As I mentioned before, it's a huge deal that the Sox lost Dougy Mirabelli for at least two weeks (ie 3 starts by Wake). They decided to call up Kevin Cash. Cash fits into a sort-of-interesting sub-category of professional ballplayers: the veter in minor league backup catcher with major league experience. Frankly, if it weren't for his ability to catch Wake, you'd probably see Mirabelli himself in that guild.

The Sox had Ken Huckaby fill that roll last year. These guys are borderline major leaguers who have value because they've been to the "show". So, a good team signs them and has them back up a real prospect in AAA. It's actually a pretty smart move by the management.

Interestingly, I didn't know the Sox have two knuckleballers at Pawtucket. In addition, they have John Barnes. Barnes actually made it to the show as an outfielder with the Twins a few years ago. He was drafted by the Sox originally in 1996 (4th round). Now he's back with t…

Profound Question of the Day

Who was the greatest defensive liability to catch regularly for the Sox in recent years: Javy Lopez or Scott Hatteberg?

A few side notes: did you know Hatteberg has played 6 seasons since leaving the Sox, batted over .280 all but two of those years (including .302 this year), has not caught a game since leaving the Sox, yet he played only one game at any position other than catcher with the Sox (3B in 2000). Who would have thought Hatteberg would be a major league starter at 37 years old while Javy Lopez and his once great bat is out of the league.

The beauty of baseball, ch. 1

One of the great things about baseball is that any team can win any one game. Unlike football or, I believe, soccer, a single baseball game can go just about anywhere. That's one of the reasons that game seven of the world series is one of the best sports moments that can occur. While the better team usually wins and somehow a teams weaknesses come to light when it matters, there is a chance that either team could win.

This was beautifully (and somewhat painfully) displayed yesterday in the Red Sox v. Angels doubleheaders. Looking at the matchups, it was clear that these two good teams would split the twinbill. The Sox would lose game one. They had a rookie pitcher going, their backup catcher and shortstop starting, and were facing a Cy Young candidate in John Lackey (15-6 going in). But, they won that game by getting a good start from the rookie and pounding Lackey for 6 first inning runs. Then, they were obviously going to win the next game. They had their ace Josh Becke…

Calling Josh Bard!

So, only on the Sox is it a very big deal when the backup catcher is injured. Remember the Josh Bard adventure last year? Well, what do we do if today's injury to Mirabelli is at all serious? Dusty Brown, George Kottaras?

This gets to one of my pet issues: are the Sox taking advantage of the fact that they have a minor league knuckleballer in Charlie Zink? They should have their top catching prospect (Kottaras) catching him every 5th day for just this reason. I have no idea if this is happening already, but it damn well should be.

On another note: bye bye Wily Mo. I did like him and I will continue to root for him. I am very happy he's going to Washington because, what with my residual love of the Expos, my Vermont home (go Lake Monsters!) and my 5+ years in DC, I'm a Gnats fan (Washington's, not Savannah's). I think Wily Mo is about the only person who could hit homeruns in DC's current park (this side of Soriano). He'll be great in the new one too.…

What would Jose Offerman do? Consider that age-old question answered

Please tell me (mentally I guess, since you and I aren't actually talking right now) that you heard about the Jose Offerman offensive recently (much funnier then the Tet one (did I just try to make a Tet Offensive joke (what does that mean about my soul's future (how many parenthesis deep am I now (I'll just end with one (with the others inferred). Did anyone else hearken back to Izzy Alcantra? I hope so, because that shit was funny.

Julian, where fore art thou...

Ok, I'm going to be the downer today. I'm also going to go against my belief that Julian Tavarez is of very little value to the Sox now. Here it is: we're bringing up our stud prospect, Clay Buchholz, today to pitch against one of the two aces of one of the best teams in baseball. To do this, we had to basically get rid of Wily Mo for, possibly, nothing. I don't understand why you give away value (Wily Mo has some still right?) for one start from this kid, when you could have just started Tavarez. I think 1) it gives you as much chance of winning the game, which is the point right? 2) saves Clay the trauma of watching Vlad Guerrero hit a pitch a foot off the plate and bouncing into Newton; and 3) keeps Pena on your roster until you have a viable alternative.

Yes, they are bringing up the man they call Jacoby. Yes, I love watching prospects like Clay and Jacoby play. But I agree with the idea that we need a righthanded hitting backup outfielder (Keilty, I guess?).…

Abreau

There is something sad about the fact that my first Sox post in forever is actually about the Yankees. I promise you: that is just a coincidence. Most of these posts will be about the Red Sox.

In the meantime, I wanted to share my Abreau theory: as Bobby Abreau goes, so goes the Yankees' offense. It's a good offense when he's struggling, but when he is on, they are an overwhelming force at the plate. He doesn't put up MVP numbers anymore, but his Youk-esque patience wears out pitchers. Patient is much less effective though when you're not hitting. Pitchers are more willing to throw back-to-back fastballs over the plate if they think you won't take them yard. When he's hot, it seems like he gets 10 pitch at bats often, totally spending a pitcher's energy. The pitcher then concedes a walk or hit, looks up through their sweat and sees A-Rod drooling.

I'm back

Ok, I admit, the break between my last Sox post and this one is a ridiculously long one. However, I just love talking about the Sox. Anyway, we'll see if I come back with the passion of the converted or ease myself back in like VT swimming in May. Time will tell. Enjoy...