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The Roster

The Sox management has clearly succeeded in filling out the team almost exactly as they planned. Sure, they'd love it if one of their starting outfielders batted righty, if they knew for sure Jed Lowrie wouldn't come down with Leprosy, if they knew what they were going to get from Beckett, Lackey and Dice-K, and (only maybe) an established lefty reliever.

I thought it was time to take a look at the projected roster with some commentary (italics are the at-risk spots and I indicated lefty/switch in parentheses).

Starting Nine
CF Ellsbury (l)
2B Pedroia
LF Crawford (l)
1B AGon (l)
3B Youk
DH Papi (l)
C Salty (s)
RF Drew (l)
SS Scutaro

The biggest question here is the order. To what extend will Francona try to break up the 5 lefties? Where will Crawford bat? I feel his speed will help the top of the order and I'm not worried about a Tony Fossas-type against Carl and AGon. The other questions would be Scutaro or Lowrie (probably Jed if they are both healthy) and where do you put Drew…

Quietly Doing Business

In September, players and management vowed to stop using the media to artificially alter the market. Management had often said publicly if they were interested in a player and/or leaked how much they were offering which had the effect of driving off competition from other teams - even if they were lying - or exposing a limited market for a player thus giving undue leverage to a team. Likewise, Scott Boras et al unquestionably lies about markets for his clients. Every player Boras represents floats like a butterfly and has most of the league offering double his true market value if you were to believe the agent. So, the parties agreed to negotiate with each other rather than through rapacious bloggers. Fucking bloggers.

So according to Business Insider, it didn't work. Boras's mouth couldn't be closed with vice grips and the Steinbrenner Family leaves a slime of leaks behind them as they walk New York.

I'm not sure if that's conventional wisdom, but regardless, …

A-Gone Is A-Coming?

According to just about everyone, Adrian Gonzalez is headed to the Sox after a physical and a contract extension. The Sox have lacked a true star slugger since Manny left and Gonzalez is as much a sure thing in that category as there is in the game.

While I am 100% behind this trade, it does raise a few new questions. I'll chat about those now not to throw cold water on this game-changing trade, but because I can't think of anything more to say about the trade itself than: yes, yes, yes or maybe yes.

Presumably Gonzalez will now man 1B and Youk will move to 3B. I have always been skeptical of Youkilis as an everyday 3B. He has an average arm and his mobility is only going to decline. He has started 180 games at 3B compared to 529 at 1B. That said, the idea of Youk playing left field consistently is not an option. He's started 19 games there in his career and as we discussed ad nauseum last year when Ellsbury moved over to left, we should not underestimate the need for…

&*^($@ The Fans Say

You are wrong if you think...
...this season was a "bridge year". The Sox lost because they were without the possible top three hitters in the lineup - Ellsbury, Pedroia and Youk' - and had career bad years from their ace (Beckett) and their closer. They also lost their starting center fielder for most of the season and their star catcher for almost a month. This was a good team which would have made the playoffs if they had been remotely healthy....the bums need to trade Pabst so Daniel Bard can close. This is both not going to happen and should not happen. Moving Bard to closer right now means that the Sox are lost in the eighth. Are you ready for Michael Bowden or Scott Atchison to take over that duty? If not, then you keep the current set up. The other option is you trade for or sign someone but anyone out there would not have Papelbon's pedigree and the fact is that Paps had seriously nasty stuff at the end and he "just" needs to locate better …

The Bright Side

The Sox are almost assuredly out of the running for the playoffs. This season is the definition of a valiant effort by the club and by a manager who deserves manager of the year and our unwavering support.

With that, the rest of the Sox season - while still about winning because it's always just a game - needs to be about next year. That means letting some young guys play when the old guys have no future value (Lowell) or are playing very hurt (Scutaro), letting some potential 2011 key players get some extra at bats (Salty) and innings (Bowden and Richardson), and not overworking your elite players (Buchholz on short rest? Good call to call that one off.).

Most importantly, the Sox' major league staff can get a nice long look at Yamaico Navarro, Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish and Lars Anderson.

The Sox wisely decided not to completely destroy Marco Scutaro by playing him too much. His arm is falling off and he'll be needed next year probably as the starting shortstop or at le…

Playing Pepper

Ok, it's been a month. I'm sorry. I thought I'd try to come back with a little pepper:
The idea of trading Jacoby Ellsbury this offseason is remarkably stupid. He's injured so his value has gone down. If you were to want to trade him - a bad idea to begin with - you should trade him when he's more valuable then now. Also, broken bones heal and don't tend to be nagging injuries. Next year, he should be fully healed and tearing it up on the base paths again. There is something messed up about the "he's soft" idea. Pedroia came back and played only two games before calling it quits. Why isn't he "soft"? Ellsbury is clearly injured according to these mysterious things called x-rays and, on top of that, his game is one built largely on diving. The only legitimate complaint might be that he hasn't spent much time with the team since he went down the second time. But that is completely unrelated to the "soft&q…

Trade Deadline

Seems like the consensus on yesterday's trade deadline for the Sox among the fans is that it was tantamount to giving up on the season. The problem was that there were few real upgrades out there. A couple relievers were available but not Billy Wagner-esque difference makers.

The Sox (in)actions yesterday show two things: they feel that most of their holes are going to be filled by returning players (Ellsbury, Tek, and Peddy); and that the remaining issues are best solved with young guns.

The Sox decided that they are best off with a bullpen of Paps, Bard, Bowden, Doubront, Richardson and two guys from the group of Wake, Atchison, Delcarman, and Oki. I agree. I'd rather bring in Bowden and see what happens then trade a top prospect for someone like Octavio Dotel and roll the dice there. The Yankees used the same strategy last year on their way to the series by relying on David Robertson, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, and Alfredo Aceves - all 26 years old or younger - to bridge th…

Game Time

So I'm going to call of the much-anticipated live blog today. That's because major league baseball sucks. They put the Sox on national TV and blackout mlb.com video streaming. The problem is that since I'm in DC they are playing the Reds v. Braves on Fox, not the Sox game (why they chose that game for DC eludes me). Then, rather than do something fans might like like lifting the blackout for a game I can't watch on TV, they keep the blackout and make sure no one can watch it. Assholes.

As for the trading deadline, here's a rundown of what I'm hearing and reading:
Ramon Ramirez traded to the Giants but not sure for whatSox are going young with Kalish in left, Hermida sent packing, Dustin Richardson in the bullpen and presumably Bowden and now Felix Doubront set to join him. That is exactly the right move.Jarrod "Yips" Saltalamaccia was picked up from the Rangers for some minor leaguers. He's a big talent. Switch hitting 25 year old catcher th…

2 hours to go

Sox have been quiet thus far on the trade front and I'm ok with that. It'd be great to get a really good reliever but relief pitchers aren't worth the price unless you get a great one. Most available relievers aren't much better than the ones we're tiring of: mini Manny, Oki and Ramon Ramirez.

As for other trades, the Sox could bring in a starter-quality corner outfielder to spell JD Drew while his hammy is acting up and fill in until Jacoby comes back. The likelihood of making such a move depends on how confident the Sox are that Hermida can start hitting again - and that Jacoby will come back and play well. I think they stand pat here too. They could also try to give a shot to someone like Ryan Kalish to bring some youth and athleticism to the outfield.

Lastly, I don't think a backup catcher is worth a trade at this point. Tek will presumably be back and we want V-Mart playing most of the time anyway. You only make that trade if you get someone you expec…

Low Lowell

Like every other Sox fan, I love Mike Lowell.

With that nicety out of the way I must say: get rid of Mike Lowell. The Sox need the room on the roster. When (if?) Jacoby comes back, the Sox have two options: ship Lowell out or release Darnell McDonald. McDonald is out of options and cannot be sent to the minors unless no other team wants him. There must be other teams that want him. A few weeks back he came within hours of leaving Boston for good for just this reason until he received a stay of execution. He's a very valuable player and should just stay, no execution.

Lowell's value is nil as long as Youk, Beltre and Papi are healthy and productive. We're deep enough into the season that it's time to bet on their health and productivity. And even if one of them slumped terribly, none of these players will be benched in favor of Lowell given their track records and defensive importance.

The Sox must give up on the idea of getting any value back from Lowell. The va…

Playing Pepper

Here's a little run down of somethings I've been thinkin' bout:
Anyone else notice that the Sox are leading the league in runs scored, OPS, total bases, and second in homers. Not too shabby.
Mike Lowell should play third so Beltre stops hurting our left fielders. He's broken Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida this year - and Hermida's not too small himself.
I'm wondering if we'll hear from Globe blogger Chad Finn about how sorry he is that he has repeatedly called Jacoby Ellsbury soft because of his injuries this year. It was revealed today that Ellsbury hurt himself anew when he briefly returned to the Fens recently. He now has a "non-displaced rib fracture and edema in the left posterior-axillary line". Finn also pouted a bit for taking heat from Ellsbury fans for his attacks, but he seems to have missed the point: that he insinuated a player was soft, and insinuated that there was an undercurrent in agreement with that sentiment, withou…

Beckett in Baltimore

Thought I'd share this pic I took in Baltimore recently when Beckett was bringing it. Remember that guy? The ace.

Hermida's Chance

Before Mike Cameron returns to the Sox tomorrow, let me just say for the record that Jeremy Hermida should continue to start in left over Cameron.

Cameron has the skills and experience to fill in adequately for Hermida and JD Drew against lefties. That would also allow Ellsbury to lock in in center rather than moving him over everytime Cameron replaces Hermida.

Hermida is a big strong guy and he's only 26 years old. He hasn't hit a homer in a little while but he has a ton of 2-out RBIs and has loads of potential to really break out. As is he's on a pace for 17 homers and 100 RBIs (and a .220 average with 117 strikeouts). My guess is that if he played almost every day in Fenway, he would hit more homers than that and fewer RBIs. I'd like to see if I'm right.


Update 5/25/10 -- Looks like I might have been on to something. Cameron is coming back but Francona plans to play him more in left for now and wants to give Hermida ample at bats. Tito totally reads my blog.…

The Transition

Last winter, Dan Shaughnessy was in another of his self-righteous, indignant huffs. This time, he was mad Sox owner John Henry, in relation to whether or not the Sox would sign Jason Bay (he of 1 homer this year) or some other big hitter, had said, “Those realities are a function of available talent and age-related transitioning once again as we did prior to 2007." As real reporter Amalie Benjamin points out: "With much of the talent aging and in the final year of contracts, plus a fairly weak free agent class, there is a distinct possibility that the Sox might not be quite so close to the top of the American League next season." Shaughnuessy just complained about ticket prices he probably hasn't paid for in decades and his perception that this means the Sox are throwing in the towel for 2010 and maybe 2009.

The fact is that Henry is right. This is a transition year. This is a "bridge" year. That said, the Sox are trying to put a good team on the fie…

Now jogging in from the bullpen... the starter?

My friend challenged me to refute this blog post by The New York Times’ Freakonomics folks (read it here). I strongly advise looking over the post before you read my response.

This guy has a very interesting argument. In case you are dying to read my knowledge-drop but don’t want to wade through the plebeian blather of "The New York Times,” basically the argument this reader of Freakonomic posits is that closers should start games and hand off to a starter who would finish up the game, thus letting the starter focus on 6-7 innings and not pace himself as much while getting consistent outings from their best short reliever, the “opener”. Where he misfires:
Using relief pitchers after the starter allows the manager to manage a scarce resource (relief pitchers) within a (generally) known number of innings (i.e. from when the starter depart through the 9th inning with something to spare in case of extras). What if your closer falters? Bring in your starter early? Or you could use…

Playing Pepper

Here are a few random thoughts (mostly about baseball):
Adrian Beltre really should take a pitch or two. I feel that it dilutes the whole lineup's approach when one guy clearly doesn't buy in to the general approach.
Speaking of Beltre, about the infield grass in Fenway, he said recently: "But when you’re playing in or you get slow ground balls, it’s like a snake coming at you, so you have to kind of take a guess where the ball’s going to go. I guess through the course of the season I’ll get used to it... It’s not nice. It’s not a good field. It’s a snake. The grass is a snake coming at you. It not only affects your defense, it affects your confidence. Like you get in that mind-set that, ‘Oh, where’s the ball going to go?’ So you start thinking instead of just reaction. I hope that I just get all the ground balls back on the dirt, not on the grass.’’ This is not ok. Youk almost lost his face and a wicked hope Thu. night. I understand having a slow infield or a…

Spring Training Re-Cap

Sitting in Florida, I feel like talking about spring training before turning the page to the regular season - hope vs. reality.

The good news out of camp is that John Lackey - to my surprise - looked like he was worth every penny. He walked only one batter and kept his ERA at 1.35 (to see the spring training stats for the team, click here.) He only struck out 8 in 20 innings, but he doesn't really seem like that kind of pitcher. He has a 7.2 strikeout/walk ratio for his career; Beckett's is 8.5. I surprised how optimistic I am about Lackey - and excited albeit still skeptical about the rumored closeness of a long term deal for Beckett.

Meanwhile, Wakefield look effective and healthy, Lester is great (though I'd love to see him finally start a season well) and Buchholz will be fine. I love this rotation.

The roster of insurance starters available for the Sox is still deep but has more questions than earlier in the spring. Dice-K starts on the DL and will probably surfac…

No Mo' Nomah

I'm glad to see Nomar come back to the Sox for a day to retire. I always loved the guy and I'm glad there are no hard feelings after he was cast aside in 2004. Frankly, he just wasn't the right fit for the Sox anymore - though it's tragic to me that he couldn't win a championship with the team.

Garciaparra was a mesmerizing player to watch. Seemingly out of control in the field with is off-balance, side-armed throws. Always balanced at the plate, hitting pitches in and out of the strikezone on a line all over the field.

The man had 684 at bats as a rookie - 29th all time for a single season. It's what you get when you bat leadoff and swing at everything.

That same year he had a career high in hits (209), hit 11 triples, 30 homers and drove in 98 - again, batting leadoff. It was the start of a dynamic, explosive career. The next year he drove in 122 runs. Then he hit .357 and .372 in 1999 and 2000. Alongside Ichiro, he looked at one point like the best cha…

Beckett's Last Stand

If everything goes according to plan, Josh Beckett will not be a Red Sox in 2011. That said, there is a lot of room for that plan to falter.

The Sox currently have two veteran aces (Beckett and Lackey), an up-and-coming ace (Lester) a future ace (Buchholz), quality veterans (Wake and Dice-K), and a future stud (Casey Kelly). We also have in-the-wings, mid-level prospects (Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden).

If the plan as I see it works, then in 2011, everyone moves up. Lackey and Lester are the established aces. Buchholz will be the up-and-coming ace. Wake, Dice-K, Tazawa and probably a short-term free agent signing (Brad Penny-esque) will fill out the other two spots in the rotation and they will aim to get Kelly 10-15 big league starts as they did with Buchholz a few years back. In this scenario, Beckett is pitching elsewhere.

This is a great plan. It will probably fail.

It will likely fail because one of these pessimistic scenarios will probably happen in 2010 thus hurting the 2…

Fan Logic

I like reading the Q&A's with the Globe baseball writers in part because of new intel from the reporters but also because of the questions of my fellow fans. Here are some of my favorite ideas frequently spouted - hyperbole added - and my very-hyper-reasoned responses:
The Sox should just go ahead now and get Adrian Gonzalez already. The reason Gonzalez doesn't play for the Sox is because he currently plays very well for not that much money for another professional baseball team which also wants to win games. Despite appearances, the Sox did not lease Jed Hoyer to the monks in order for him to slip us treats under the table. Rather, the Padres are trying to rebuild a franchise and their interest is purely in doing what's best for the Padres - which currently is playing one of the best firstbasemen in the game every day then maybe trading him for Bartolo Colon's ransom (read: a lot).
No way this team will hit enough to win. The Sox love to talk about "keep t…

Starting tonight at left-stop....

...Jacoby Ellsbury. Stick with me here. Scutaro will move a little in and to the left. Ellsbury will play behind the dirt - of course! - but not too far off the infield. He'll play the most shallow left field in baseball history. How many balls would get over his head if he played very shallow? And the ones that do, would be doubles or homers, just as they would if he played deeper.

Seriously, it seems that he could play shallow in the Fens. Though, I guess I'll retreat from the short-field post a la softball.

Jacoby Ellsbury's speed in the relatively-small space of Fenway's leftfield might be the end of the single.

Yet, the conventional wisdom remains that the Sox should have a leftfielder who can mash at the plate rather than run in the field. Looking back through the years (here) as far back as I recognize the names, the Sox have really only had one guy who could really run in left: Tommy Harper (1973 and part of '74 years, he was in center in '72) - and…