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Showing posts from 2009

New Line-Up Better Than the Old Line-Up

This is a truly different Red Sox team. The team is excellent defensively and on the mound, with plenty of offense to make this work. There is no longer anyone on the free agent market worth the Sox signing to upgrade the offense. If they need offense, their best bet is a mid-season trade.

On defense, the Sox will have Gold Glove caliber defenders at every position besides catcher. All their outfielders can run. And their infield should be excellent as well. I feel good when my biggest defensive concerns, after V-Mart's arm, are how good Youk really is at third (he has never played a full season there in the majors), how much range does Scutaro have at short, and poor throwing arms in left and centerfield. Not too shabby.

Offensively, everyone underestimates Casey Kotchman (firstbase). He's good enough that the Braves accepted Kotchman and a minor league pitcher for Mark Texeira two years ago - a price tag was admitedly skewed by it being T's last year before signing…

Trade: Ramirez to/from the Texas Rangers

I call to order this meeting of the Texas Rangers executives. Let's start this thing off. Steve, I think you said you had an update on negotiations with the Red Sox on trading a Ramirez... or was it getting a Ramirez. Anyway, Steve?

Thanks Bob. The Sox have offered to trade us Ramirez. We're negotiating to let them pay his salary while we send them some talent from our system. The good news is, as per regular order, this trade will simply not go through.

How so?

Well, it's like you've said so often Bob: "why make a trade when you can act like you're making a trade but really not do anything but it still feels like a trade which is fun and sort of exciting but in this case still changes nothing which is safer which I like which is good which I like." Remember when you said that?

I did?

Ok enough about that. The other trade we have in the works, not coincidentally also with the Red Sox and involving a Ramirez, involves us getting an old third basement wh…

Moving from Lowell

Looks like the Sox are on the verge of trading Mike Lowell to the Rangers for 25-year old slugging (??) unpositioned Max Ramirez and millions of dollars.

I'll try to get back to you about the value of Max Ramirez (3rd catcher who can maybe blossem as a hitter?). But it seems like the speculation is that this means the Sox will try to sign Adrian Beltre, late of Seattle.

It's a bad move to sign Beltre to a 4-5 year deal for big money. He's a great defensive third baseman who has had some big offensive years. I also understand why they think he'd hit significantly better with Fenway as his home rather than massive Safeco.

That said, he'll be 31 this season which means he'd be close to... Lowell's age when the contract is up. He's a bad on-base guy which also plays against the Sox overall game plan. He's a good player, but I don't see how he fits with the Sox right now.

The bottom line to me is that Lowell should be more healthy next season than h…

Shortstops

The Blue Jays signed 2-time, former-Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez today to a one year deal with an option. So, the Sox' quest to fill that moves on with one answer: Gonzo won't be back.

The Sox seem to have (rightly) decided that they cannot start next season with Jed Lowrie as the starter. I still think that a healthy Lowrie can be a very good major league starting infielder. He can really hit and doesn't make many mistakes on offense. I remember when he was in the minors the talk was as if he was a switching hitting Pedroia with more power. Yet, his calling card thus far with the Sox has been defense. That said, he's been injured a lot so far.

The best option for the Sox is Marco Scutaro. He had a career year last year at the age of 34 with the Blue Jays. With the Jays moving on to Gonzo, Scutaro is truely a free agent. His age will keep the price and length reasonable. His career as a utility guy (career games by position: 3 at 1B, 306 at 2B, 98 at 3B, 415 at …

Pitch Perfect (almost)

The Sox do not have a whole lot of room for improvement in their pitching staff. The difference between this starting rotation and a championship staff is a little more offense and a truly dominant playoff performance or two - something I think we can count on from the likes of Misters Beckett and Lester as much as with any other team's dynamic duo.

The only chance for a major upgrade is with a blockbuster trade for someone like the Mariners' Felix Hernandez. But, the Mariners had a good year this year and I expect them to resign their ace. Also, those trades are not easy and can backfire. The Sox pulled one off when the infamous (why is that again?) former GM Dan Duquette traded Tony Armas, Jr. and Carl Pavano for Pedro. But, for every one of those trades, there's one trade where the Expos rent Bartolo Colon (at the time one of the best pitchers in the game) for Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips (all of whom are stars today).

Meanwhile, Beckett and Lester …

In the market for hitters

I am not going to dwell on the debacle that was the ALDS. The Sox couldn't hit against two good-but-not-great pitchers (Lackey and Weaver) and then Papelbon blew game 3. That said, the Sox were and are a good team. They have some great young players (Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lester, and Paps) and great prime-of-career players (Beckett, Youkilis, and V-Mart).

The first thing I'll say is that Papelbon is far from done and is still one of the elite closers. You should look at the closers out there. Rivera and Nathan are maybe better - though guess who blew game 2 for the Twins this year and guess who Dave Roberts scored against a few years back. Paps is also 28 years old, as opposed to Nathan's 34 or Rivera's 73 years of age. For young guns, I'd only consider 25-year olds Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers - blew the last playoff game), Andrew Bailey (A's), or Joakim Soria (Royals) as having even a chance of being as good as Paps is at his worst. Lastly, Daniel Bard is n…

Keys to Game 3

Here's how you win this game over a team that would thus have lost the game.
Be more better than the AngelsPitch wellScore more runs within 9 innings than the other team can score.Score more than zero runs - the more runs you score, the better.Don't walk Bobby Abreau four timesHit a ball over the outfield fence. Doing that counts for at least one run every time.Win one game at a time. You literally can't win three games in one day, literally. It'd be really tiring anyway.

Re- and Preview

The regular season is done, complete with 95 wins. Let's have a quick look back then a look forward toward the playoffs. In the 2009 regular season, we saw:
Papi's career was erroneously pronounced dead twice this year. Once for a remarkably bad start to the season. And a second time when he slumped dramatically following the revelation that he used a "banned substance" - probably, maybe, according to an anonymous source illegally leaking court documents. It really shouldn't surprise us that Papi's productivity so closely relates to his mental state (slump one snowballed under massive pressure and slump two he was accused of cheating). I'm just glad he's usually so jolly and thus productive. There were points when it looked like Gil Valazquez might be our starting shortstop. Anyone's list of team MVP should include Nick Green for not being an easy out and making a few plays at short. He stepped up pre-Gonzo after Lugo (surprise!) sucked and…

Musical Bats

The talk of the Red Sox world seems to be the playing time distribution of the corner infielders, catchers, and DHs (Ok, people are also worried about starting pitching, and most anything else depending on the day as well. But I digress.).

The Sox have six players with starting credentials and four spots. The players are Youk, Victor Martinez, Mike Lowell, Papi, Tek and Casey Kotchman. Seems like there are a lot of theories out there on how to make this work. Really though, there is one answer and it's exactly what they're doing now.

Youkilis and V-Mart will play every day. They are your third and clean-up hitters, good or great fielders who can each play two hard positions.

Kotchman is good, but he's a bench player. He'll probably play first when Wake pitches until further notice because if Wake can't walk you don't want Lowell at third, and with Martinez catching him, Youk has to play third. Kotchman is our first base Miribelli.

That leaves two spots for L…

Big Victory (i.e. Lose)

Today was a good game for the Sox - perhaps more important than a quote unquote win. Yeah yeah, they lost. But Buchholz pitched a second straight very good game. I could be wrong... I might be wrong... ok, given "reality" and "history", I probably am wrong. But this could be that point when a great talent becomes a good pitcher. Buchholz has shut down the Yankees and Tigers the last two times out. He's look confident and used all of those pitches well - the reason the don't even consider him as a bullpen possibility. This is the reason we didn't trade him away. While we're at it, any thoughts on a nickname if Clay Buchholz is good... or if he's bad?

Claystien?
Buchole?
Skinny Holz?

Damn, drawing a blank. Help me...

So You're Saying There's a Chance...

We lose six in a row to our main division rivals, the Yankees and Tampa. Then we come back to win three in a row against a good Tigers team - five games over five hundred and leading a three-team race for the central title by two games over the Pale Hose and Twinkies. What to make of this?

The Sox are a good team which should still make the playoffs in a tight race with the Rangers and Rays. The main differences between the Yankees and Sox last weekend were a) Alex Rodriquez is just insanely good, and b) the Sox were so injured that Enrique Gonzalez (he of the now three straight years of +10 ERA) and Chris Woodward had to play, and Youkilis had to play outfield.

To the first point, the Sox lost two of the four Yankees games at least in part because A-Rod hit good pitches. Tazawa's pitch in the 15th inning looked like a rolling breaking ball but in a good location. Similarly, A-Rod broke another 0-0 tie with a solo shot in the 7th inning of the last game of the series. Again, A…

New Look, New Address: BoSoxWally.com

If you're here, you know. Bosox Wally has a new look. The hope is to change it more in the coming months but we'll see.

Also, more importantly, Bosox Wally has a new web address. While the old address still works, you no longer have any excuse for forgetting the URL. Just type in bosoxwally.com and you're home. You'll be welcomed with a hearty bowl of baseball awesomeness and embraced in the loving arms of ballfield knowledge. Welcome home. Welcome to the new Bosox Wally.

Papi Pills

First, I'll admit that I am a biased Red Sox fan. Second, I'll tell you that I have not been one to talk about the steroids era and baseball cheating much.

I have left myself willfully ignorant of all things "controlled substance." The fact is that baseball is entertainment. These men are not my - nor should they be anyone's - moral beacons.

On the other hand, I do not condone cheating. That said, it is less offensive to me when it does not mean a competitive advantage.

The fact is, as so many players names are exposed from the list of 103, it has become clear that so many players - elite and plebeian alike - were taking things to enhance their skills.

As this interesting and seemingly reputable recent op-ed in the NY Times points out, baseball players - and I'm guessing all elite athletes in all sports - have always done everything they can to physically and psychologically survive and excel during a season. He notes the substance use of the era-diverse like…

More Trade Talk

Adam LaRoche
Victor Martinez

Simply, the Sox should not trade for Victor Martinez. The 30 year old catcher/first baseman for Cleveland is a powerful switchhitter with good on-base skills. Since the first of June, Martinez has batted .213. I believe he's signed through this year with an option for next.

I would take Martinez if he were cheap. But I wouldn't give up much for him. At first, he's learning the position and I doubt he's a steller defender. I don't think he's a much better hitter than Adam LaRoche and would take up a spot that Lars Anderson and Aaron Bates might fill in the next 2 years.

As for catcher, Tek will be the starter next year and by the time he's done - if the Sox traded for and signed Martinez - Victor would be a 32 year old catcher. That doesn't strike me as exactly a "catcher of the future" that the Sox need.

Meanwhile, the Sox picked up Adam LaRoche who is a very good defensive first baseman and not a big step down …

Trade Fever

The Sox are slumping, clearly. Now that they have traded for Adam LaRoche, it's like they broke the seal on a feverish panic - at least on the Globe's web site - for a major trade.

Nick Cafardo wrote that the Sox got LaRoche and are struggling so they clearly are going for Roy Halladay. The problem with this lacking logic is that getting LaRoche has nothing to do with getting Halladay.

Halladay is very possibly the best pitcher in the game today but he's 32 years old. I would never trade for him except that he's under contract for next year as well.

The other issue here is the nature of the Sox recent struggles. It's offensive - and offensive. The Halladay magic pill would be a nice one to take in a lot of ways, but it won't help Jason Bay snap out of it. The problem with the Sox is that last night they had two batters (Youk and Peddy) who could hit.

The pitching will be fine. The bullpen is great. The starters all lost their rythm coming out of the all …

Bates Alive

When Mike Lowell was injured, he was replaced by Jeff Bailey, who hurt himself too, and the Sox needed a righthanded corner infielder to platoon with (an also-hobbling) Mark Kotsay. They turned to rookie Aaron Bates.

Bates is 6'4" and 25 years old. He dominated single A Lancaster in 2007 but had stalled at AA Portland since arriving their in '07. That is until this year when he eliminated a big leg kick and started kicking ass at Portland. He was called up to Pawtucket from there and eventually Boston for a week which included 3 starts.

While I think anyone had to be impressed by his game yesterday, hitting a ball down each line and a ball off the top of the centerfield wall in Fenway, what is most telling about his chances for getting another call-up this season is that Tito seems to like him defensively. That might mean we'll see him again.

Twice this week, Tito ran for Kotsay late in the game. Makes sense because Kotsay is a bit banged up in the legs. But, Tito…

The Royals

I just wanted to mention before everyone gets up in arms about the Sox losing a game or games to the Royals, that the Royals aren't terrible. If they had any offense, they might even be good. This is a team that is just a few bats and another arm from being the Mariners. Ok, not a ringing endorsement, but anyway.

The Royals have a true ace (Greinke) and two developing young starters (Hochever and Bannister) and a ssolid veteran (Gil Meche) in their rotation. The bullpen is potentially very good with a wonderful closer (Soria) and some veteran bullpen arms (Cruz, Mahay, Farnsworth and Wright).

The problem is they cannot hit and they can't buy break with their prospects. They invest a lot in top draft pics, but don't get much. So far, great prospects like Mark Teahan, Alex Gordon, and John Buck have been good at best. They've had two breakout rookie shortstops (ROY Angel Berroa and Aviles last year) who have inexplicably fallen apart after year one (Note: I don'…

Give it a break

I really don't like articles like this one by Mazz. He muses about whether or not the Sox are fading. Now, he's not saying they are, but by bringing it up he pretty much is. Just ask Fox News if that works ("Is the president going to put Gitmo detainees in your backyard? Let's ask an expert from the Heritage Foundation...").

The Sox might fade. This might be the beginning. But losing 2 of 3 to Seattle and one game to Oakland is not a sign that they are fading.

Seattle is pretty good. They were my darkhorse pick to make the playoffs in the A.L. They have pitching and defense. With just a little offense they can win some games. The games we lost to the M's were 1) an extra innings game and 2) a game we win if Pedroia were 5'10" (missed a pop-up). I hate this doomsday sh-t.

Remember the begining of the season, how the Sox were never going to hit? That panned out. Great job guys.

The Sox aren't hitting because:
They faced Felix Hernandez.Ja…

Caught in a Rundown

With tonight's start by Brad Penny, I thought I'd weigh in on the upcoming Penny-Smoltz-Buchholz situation. Basically, Smoltz will be major league ready on Tuesday (Penny's next go around in the rotation) and we're not paying him to strike out Toledo Mud Hens. Buchholz has looked like every bit of a budding ace this year and waits patiently. The best case is the Penny is traded (he can't be traded until next week because he was signed as a free agent), Smoltz steps in, and Buchholz gets whatever spot starts are surely to come up the rest of the season. The problem is that desperation isn't good for trade negotiations. My guess is the Sox will send Penny to any team that will pay his salary. Don't expect a starting shortstop in return.Pedroia is batting .219 with a .329 on base percentage since moving to the lead off spot. I vote for the return of Ellsbury (.299/.332 from leadoff) to the top of the order. Either he or JD Drew.Anyone else remember Bob…

The Papi Problem

The Sox obviously face a serious dilemma in the person designated hitter David Ortiz.

My feeling is that Ortiz is still physically and mentally capable of hitting well - not great, but well. That said, it might still be time for Papi. He might be done.

The Sox should lower Papi in the order (done) and let him play most every day in June. If by the end of the month - or before if the Sox free fall because of an anemic offense - Papi is still not hitting, then the Sox need to give one month to the internal-organizational solutions available.

To be fair to a possible replacement, the Sox should let him (or them) have a month before the July trading deadline to establish themselves. If that does not work, the Sox should look for a trade of some value (best option for me would be trading a high-value prospect for one and a half years of Adam Dunn).

As for Papi, we all obviously love the guy and want him to succeed. And I for one still think he can. But I'm not sure I think he will.

Wat…

The Real Jason Bay

They say Jason Bay is "boring". He wakes up every morning and puts on his pants just like the rest of us, except the way Canadians do it (don't ask). He goes to work where he hits 30 homers, bats .280, steals some bases without ever getting caught, plays great defense with no arm, and quietly dominates.

But he's not exciting, right? He doesn't have the flare of Manny, correct? He is not intimidating enough to bat clean-up, or even in front of J.D. Drew, yeah?

Wrong.

I met Jason Bay in Florida a few years ago. He was water skiing through the Everglades on the backs of two crocodiles he had wrestled into submission. He was going about 70 miles an hour behind an air boat. He was only using one hand because the other one was used to chug beers.

The Jason Bay I know stole a car from a monestary, gave it back, then stole it again because he was bored.

The Jason Bay I know climbed Everest in flip-flops. He showed the sherpa the best way up and let the little Nepalese…

In the media

For years now, I've garnered my Sox news online almost exclusively from the Globe. I've tried to read some on the blogosphere and check out the Herald's site sometimes as well. But it always comes back to the Globe.

I've noticed now and then that the Globe references reporting by the Providence Journal and thought, when I was bored one day recently, I'd check out their site. What I've found as I've returned now and then is that, in terms of simple news gathering, it seems to be the best thing out there. I share this because I'm surprised. I thought with the Globe's stable of reporters and use of blogs to give updates throughout the day, they were keeping me up to date, but it doesn't seem to be that way.

Case in point: Thursday afternoon, the Globe blog posted that Chris Carter was being sent down. Nothing remarkable about that. I check rather regularly so I'll estimate that they posted it around 3pm yesterday (the linked-to version of …

Get Carter

Why do the Sox have Chris Carter on their roster at all? I like the lefthanded, firstbasemen/(bad) outfielder, hitting machine we got for Wily Mo Pena (who, by the way, was picked up by the Mets after the Nats (yes, the Nats of 100 loses and too many mediocre outfielders)).

That said, if the Sox are not starting him at first base in game one of the double header today, there is not point in having him on the roster. The Twins are starting a righty in game one and a lefty in game two. Why not start Carter at first and move Youk to third for game one, giving Lowell one game off?

Two possible explainations that I don't agree with: game two might get rained out so playing Lowell in game one guarentees that you play him today. Or, playing Youkilis at third in game one and first in game two would be too hard for the Greek God of the Corners.

I don't agree. Basically, you should not carry someone on your ML roster if you won't use him in obvious circumstances, unless you are th…

Fie to you WBC!!!

Ok, I spoke too soon. We are short a pitcher (and maybe two, if Becket's suspension is upheld). What to do now?

The Sox lost Dice-K to WBC desease for a few weeks at least. He'll probably miss two or three starts. Since he's generally healthy and pitched so well in his second, Faustian, MVP-winning World Baseball "Classic", I feel good about him coming back strong. But this is when that 9 man starting staff comes into play.

I propose that the Sox hand over the Dice-K rotation slot to the 9th man on that list: Michael Bowden.

This comes from a process of elimination. It goes this way. First choice: John Smoltz is unavailable because 50 year old pitchers don't pitch until June. Second choice: Clay Buchholz has a slight hamstring injury. Why risk it for 2 emergency starts?

This brings us to Justin Masterson, the consensus shoo-in to fill the Dice Man's spot. The logic goes this way: Masterson pitched wonderfully for 4 innings when Matsuzaka left his la…

Where am I?

Someone told me that the Sox have won only two games in the first seven, I called that person a liar and spat on their floor. My mom shouldn't talk such foolishness.

I am truly sorry to get a late start on the season, folks. My fan(s) are (is) disappointed and rightfully so(s).

I am not worried about the Sox. Yet. The fundamentals remain strong: they have great starting pitching, great bullpen, very good defense, and above average offense. The worry comes from early under-performing by key players and the losing that follows, especially when you play maybe the best two teams in the league. The fact is that the Sox barely lost two series to two teams that would be reasonable picks to face each other in the ALCS. Then the A's piled on a bit. That game must remind us that baseball is not a game that is meant to be viewed through a one-game lens.

The Sox greatest worry is Jon Lester. He looked so strong the first few innings of his first start, but he has been hit hard ever …

Nostrawally

Yesterday, the Sox released catcher Josh Bard and decided to ostensibly hand the job of catcher-to-Wake to George Kottaras. At the risk of being "that guy", I must say that I called this one months ago and even asked the folks at the Globe why they weren't talking about this. They didn't respond - and I wasn't able to post my nah nah nah comment on their blogs yesterday either. So let me revel in my righteousness here.

On Nov. 3 of last year, I wrote this to Nick Carado, linking to this post of mine:
Nick - has anyone talked about whether the Sox could re-sign Jason Varitek and ask him to take on knuckleball duties next year? This would allow a young catcher to get his feet wet on a team with Tek, while not having to catch Wake (a la Josh Bard).Then, on Feb. 3 - I guess I feel righteous indignation on the third day of the month - I wrote Tony Massaroti an email entitled "Bard vs. Kottaras":
Hey Mazz,

My question/comment is about the back up catcher posi…

Outside the Box

I really need to get back into writing regularly, because when I don't it results in these sort of brain dump posts. I thought I'd throw out a few ideas that I've been mulling over that I haven't read much about:
Youkilis should bat third and Papi should bat cleanup. Generally, you put your best hitter batting third and, after Peddy, Youk is that hitter. Also, Youk is generally more patient at the plate than Ortiz and ideally a first inning with a mature Ellsbury who has learned to take pitches, Pedroia, and Youk would be very tough on a pitcher even if it goes 1-2-3. This lineup would also have a nice rightly lefty rhythm of ellsbury (L), pedroia (r), youk (r), papi (L), bay (r), drew (l), lowell, (r), tek (s), lowrie (s).Josh Bard should be released after spring training. He seems worthless. I'd rather have a young guy learning from Tek, even if that young guy doesn't pan out long term at least there would be potential for some gain for the club after th…

A Note of Offensive Optomism

From what I have been reading about the Sox this coming season, the pitching staff is fantastic and the offense is potentially bad. While I think that diagnosis is potentially accurate, I wanted to poit out some optimistic points where others see failure.
Jacoby Ellsbury was a rookie last year. He can run like no one on the Sox since Otis Nixon, he has that surprising power when he turns on a heater, he is a much-improved outfielder who might be a gold glover in a year or two, and he plays the game very hard and intelligently. Yet, there seems to be a feeling that he is a failure waiting to happen. I feel strongly that he will be a good leadoff man at worst. If he learns Damon-esque plate discipline, he's a star.Ortiz and Lowell are not yet dead. I don't expect either to hit more than 30 homers or knock in much more than 100 teammates, but they are both great hitters and Lowell is a great fielder. I expect them both to be productive. I admit that I fear that Ortiz is Mo…

Deals and No Deals

The Sox have been pretty busy over the last few weeks. I thought I'd run through my thoughts on these acquisitions and non-acquisitions. However, I'm not going to get further into the morass of Texiera and other big name misses, much.

Rocco Baldelli Obviously, there's the sentimental, local-boy-made-good reason as to why I love having Rocco in the fold. There's also the rather irrational hope that he might be able to manage his illness in such a way that he can be the 5-tool force that he obviously has the talent to be. But in the end, this is a cheap deal for a guy who could be a very valuable right handed bat, pinch runner, defensive replacement, let alone inspiration. You can't help but love this signing. It's destiny.

Mark Kotsay He's the perfect complement to two fragile players: Baldelli and Mike Lowell. He can play centerfield and showed he can play first if Lowell breaks down and Youkilis needs to go back to first. What's interesting about…