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Posts Tagged ‘Denver Broncos’

We signed Jose Mijares to a minor league deal with an invitation to attend Spring Training.  We also signed Grady Sizemore to a one-year deal plus a considerable amount of incentives.  Things are shaping up.

The B’s lost to the Blackhawks, 2-3, in a shootout, and beat the Kings, 3-2, and Flyers, 6-1.  As far as the Pats are concerned, we’re done.  The season is officially over.  We will not be advancing to the Super Bowl.  The Broncos, however, are another matter, since they beat us, 26-16.  We couldn’t run the ball, and the defense was porous.  It just felt like something was off.  I mean, granted, we were just really lucky this year; I guess the whole idea of a team fighting an uphill battle at every turn was a common theme in Boston.  Anyway, we were fortunate to have come this far, and it’s a real testament to the team to have accomplished that.  We’ve won a lot of critical games this year, many of them close ones.  And then it just ended.  So we’re out of the Super Bowl.  It’s awful, and it hurts.  But we can still be proud.

Boston.com Photo

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We have avoided arbitration yet again by locking down one-year deals with Carp, Tazawa, and Jonathan Herrera.

The big baseball news lately is the expansion of instant replay.  Obviously, this has been a hot issue since it became an issue.  Both sides of the debate have been pretty vocal in presenting their opinions, but I think it’s interesting and significant that the instant replay expansion was approved unanimously at the Owners Meeting, after which the Players Association and Umpires Association gave the go-ahead.

Starting this season, in addition to the review of close-call home runs, managers will have one challenge per game.   The manager will be able to communicate with someone monitoring video being the scenes so he can make a decision about whether or not to use a challenge.  As an extension of that, camera angles in all the parks now have to be standardized.

The has to verbalize his challenge to the umpire in a very detailed manner, so the umpire knows which parts of the play are being disputed, and in a timely manner, so the umpire doesn’t call for disciplinary action.  If it’s denied, he’s used it up.  If it’s approved, it’s replaced by another new challenge, but he can’t make more than two challenges.  If he doesn’t use it before the seventh inning, it expires, and after the seventh inning, the umpire can elect to institute a review.  All reviews will be conducted at the Majors media headquarters in New York, where four-umpire crews will be on hand, swapped out by rotation.  Field umps would communicate with them via a headset behind home plate, and their decision would be final.

And, last but not least, now replays can be displayed on jumbotrons inside the park.

So most plays will now be potentially subject to review.  As we all know, sometimes the lack of instant replay has burned us bad, and sometimes it’s helped us out.  But that’s true for any team because it’s been the nature of the game; everything tends to balance in the end.  Now, we’ll have to see whether instant replay balances things from the get-go.  It’s just going to be a huge change.  I mean, this is historic.  Baseball has stayed the same for most of its existence when it comes to instant replay, in part because the technology didn’t exist in the early and middle years.  Everything evolves, but we’re just going to wait and see what happens.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Ducks, 2-5, and Kings, 2-4, but won a close one against the Sharks, one-zip, before losing to the Leafs, 4-3, and besting the Stars, 4-2.  And the Pats, of course, bested the Colts by a healthy score of 43-22.  Onward to Colorado!

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There haven’t really been any developments.  Showing interest and finalizing deals are two very different things, and we probably have a long way to go before things start heating up.

In other news, the Bruins bested the Penguins, 4-3, as well as the Rangers, 3-2, and Blue Jackets, 3-1, but lost to the Red Wings, 6-1.  And the Pats edged the Broncos, 34-31, in a real mess that eventually turned into a real awesome victory.  The first half of that game was an epic disaster.  I didn’t even know what team I was watching.  And as a result, I didn’t even know what team I was watching in the second half, either.  It was a situation of polar opposites, and the win was just unbelievable.

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Not much has happened since our slog of a season ended, but what did happen should be surprising to anybody.

Our first order of business was dismissing Bobby Valentine, which we did last Thursday.  This is something that was entirely predictable, appropriate, and correct.  We all know that he shouldn’t even have been hired in the first place.  It was awful.  He just wasn’t a good fit for our clubhouse, and the whole situation with him at the helm was completely dysfunctional.  There’s no need to go into specifics, but suffice it to say that there is a certain degree of professionalism that I think players and fans alike expect from a manager and that Bobby Valentine’s conception of that degree differed from ours.  Anyway, look for John Farrell and Tim Bogar to be on the brass’s radar.  Other possibilities include Torey Lovullo, former Pawtucket manager and current Jays first base coach; Joe McEwing, Other Sox bench coach; Tim Wallach, Dodgers third base coach; Brad Ausmus; and last but not least, our very own Jason Varitek.  Onward and forward!

Our blockbuster deal with the Dodgers is finally done.  For Nick Punto, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez, we took on Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands in addition to previously acquired James Loney, Ivan De Jesus, and Allen Webster.

Pedroia was nominated for the Hank Aaron Award.

In other news, the Pats beat the Broncos, 31-21, last week.

Boston Globe Staff/Aram Boghosian

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Well, it was a quiet week.  A quiet, quiet week.

As it turns out, my tribute to Tek may have been written too soon.  Apparently we’re talking to him to see if he wants to come to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, which obviously conflicts directly with his previously stated desire to keep playing legitimately.  Bobby V. hasn’t even spoken to him yet since he’s not on the roster, so I don’t really know.

We signed Sweeney to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal for next season worth $1.75 million.

Randy Niemann is our new assistant pitching coach.  I feel like we shouldn’t be trying to bring people from the Mets to Boston.  It’s not like we need even more dysfunction than we have already.

Theo made an appearance on WEEI’s The Dennis and Callahan Show on Thursday during which he officially confirmed that John Henry opposed the Crawford deal and that Lackey’s elbow wasn’t right at the time of his signing.  He thinks that, when Lackey returns from surgery, he’ll be right as rain.

In other news, the Pats crushed the Broncos, 45-10.  Is anyone surprised? Nobody should be surprised.  The B’s beat the Jets and Habs this week but lost to the Canes.

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The coaching staff has now officially been finalized.  Tim Bogar is the bench coach.  Jerry Royster will take his place as the third base coach.  Alex Ochoa is the first base coach.  Dave Magadan will remain the hitting coach, and Gary Tuck will remain the bullpen coach.  Our new pitching coach is Bob McClure.  The Royals let him go after finishing in fourth place in their division last season, and then we hired him as a minor league instructor and special assignment scout.  Obviously on the surface, this doesn’t exactly bode well.  However, it’s worth mentioning that his professional profile is similar to John Farrell’s; like Farrell, he’s been a player as well as a coach, and he has a knack for evaluating talent.  But by now I have learned how fruitless it is to delve analytically into anything that Bobby V. does before I actually see how it shapes up in action.  Regarding McClure, I’m not sure I know what to think at this point.

We now officially have a closer, and it turns out that it isn’t Mark Melancon.  Melancon will obviously be in the mix, but we traded first baseman Miles Head, right-handed pitcher Raul Alcantara, and, yes, even Josh Reddick to the A’s for outfielder Ryan Sweeney and, more importantly, Andrew Bailey.  Bailey has a career 2.07 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with seventy-five saves and only nine blown saves in his three seasons in the Majors.  He has been injured, which restricted him to less than fifty innings in his last two seasons.  But because we expect him to own the ninth only, I don’t see a problem.  The Bailey-Melancon one-two punch shows considerable promise.  Like Paps, Bailey tends to induce his fair share of fly balls, so Melancon serves as a nice complement to that; in his career, Melancon has induced double the amount of ground balls as fly balls, and only three pitchers last season had a better ratio.

So, to put it lightly, he’ll do.  Now let’s look at Sweeney.  His hitting stats obviously don’t match up well with Reddick’s, but he’s got a solid OBP and he can play all three outfield positions, which we know is incredibly useful.  However, I’m still not happy about that part of the trade because, while Sweeney has obvious upsides, he technically doesn’t even come close to Reddick.  I mean, Reddick has the makings of a Major League superstar.  Of course, we have to moderate that a little by accounting for the fact that he’s young yet and hasn’t seen much action relatively speaking, but still.  I see this trade as addressing our short-term needs rather than considering our long-term needs.  There is a time and place for doing so, but I’m not convinced that this was it.  Again, we’ll have to wait and see.  It’s important to remember that this is Ben’s team now, and he deserves a chance to prove that he has as much foresight as anybody.

Ryan Kalish will miss the start of the season; he just had surgery on his left shoulder to repair a torn labrum.  In all likelihood, so will Jenks, who had another surgery.

The Yankees signed Okajima to a minor league deal; oh, how the mighty have fallen.  The Cubs hired Bill Buckner as a minor league hitting coach.  I hope Theo has fun with that.  Incidentally, in case you didn’t notice, that was sarcastic.

In other news, the Pats have been on an absolute tear.  We beat the Redskins, Broncos, Dolphins, and Bills.  We’ll see if we can convert that into anything of note when it counts.  The B’s have been similarly dominating; we beat the Habs, Panthers (eight-zip shutout), and Coyotes; we dropped our game against the Stars.  We womped the Devils and Flames (seriously, a nine-zip shutout) and lost to Vancouver in a very eventful matchup in which Vancouver was obviously trying to make a statement.  I’d say it was grasping; they may have beaten us by a goal, but the last time I checked, we are still the reigning Stanley Cup champions.  The benches cleared, though.  Five Canucks charged Shawn Thornton for defending a hit teammate, and then all the gloves dropped.  Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault says we’re too physical, probably because the Canucks can’t match us.  By the way, Milan Lucic did indeed take the ice legally on a line change.

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Sadly, for us, baseball season has come to a close a little too early, and usually when we’re in this situation it’s because something’s not right and we need to fix it.  We ask ourselves what we should do now.  But this year it’s a little different.  The Rays barely hung onto the division and barely made it to the World Series.  We don’t have debilitating flaws.  It makes you wonder how unstoppable we’d be if we hadn’t had to battle injuries and late major trades.

And that’s just it.  We don’t have that many offseason decisions to make because, for all intents and purposes, we’re already golden for next year.  Just like in 2006 and 2007, the injuries piled themselves on this year but next year it’ll be smooth sailing in the health department.  The new guys have gotten used to the city, and now that they’ve tasted October baseball they’ll want more.

But there are still some issues that need to be addressed.  Issue number one: Jason Varitek.  We love the man.  He’s our captain for a reason.  He’s a mentor to the younger players, he handles the pitchers very well, he’s caught a record four no-hitters, he’s a leader on and off the field, and he still has his moments.  Those moments, unfortunately, are becoming more and more sporadic though, and it’s not clear that the offense can afford to simply consider him an “easy out” with the assumption that he won’t hit anything and then be pleasantly surprised when he does.  It’s true that the position of catcher isn’t known for its offensive production, but it’s also true that catchers who can hit do exist.  I see three solutions here.  One is to give Tek something like a three-year deal and also take on a young catcher, and have Tek and the new catcher split playing time, such that the new guy learns from Tek and Tek becomes his mentor and teaches him everything he knows.  That way, when Tek reaches the end of his deal, we’ll have a Tek, Jr. to take the reigns.  A second solution would just be to have Kevin Cash fill the role of Tek, Jr.  He’s got a great arm and his offense has potential.  The third option I’m seeing is to keep Tek, not as a player, but as a kind of coach for the pitchers.  Sort of an assistant to John Farrell.  That way the pitchers as well as the rest of the clubhouse can benefit from his presence and leadership without having to feel pressure to compensate for his lack of offensive production.

Another concern will obviously be Mikey Lowell.  He’s set to have surgery on his right hip soon.  He’s getting old.  He spent most of the second half on the DL, and when he did play this season, he didn’t show signs of being as dominant as he was last season.  I’m not saying his outstanding 2007 was a fluke.  I’m just saying that it’s going to be more and more unlikely that his numbers will be comparable in the future.  We might want to consider taking on another starting third baseman, just in case.  This will allow Mark Kotsay to go back to being a spare outfielder, which is something else we need, and it’ll allow Youk to go back to first and get himself another Gold Glove.

I’d like to strongly suggest that we make Jed Lowrie our starting shortstop permanently.  Since Nomar we haven’t had stability or reliable offensive production from the shortstop position, and signing Julio Lugo to a five-year contract was supposed to take care of that.  We all know how that turned out.  Ironically, he came over from Tampa Bay, and little did we know that it would be a complete disaster.  The differences between the defensive and offensive abilities of Jed Lowrie and Julio Lugo are absolutely staggering, and after spending so much time watching such talent and potential between second and third base I don’t think I can go back to watching error after error and out after out.  I’d also like to strongly suggest that we keep Alex Cora and Sean Casey on board for 2009.  Alex Cora is a great utility guy, and Sean Casey hits line drives like nobody’s business.

In terms of pitching, it’s difficult to say.  Theo Epstein isn’t worried about Beckett, and after his most recent postseason start I think that’s justified.  Next year we’re in line to have three aces on our staff: Beckett, Dice-K, and Lester.  We’ll have Wake, too, and the good news is that as a knuckleballer the quality of his pitching won’t decline.  (The quality of his pitching at present is a completely different story.) But we’re going to need a reliable fifth starter.  I’d like to see Justin Masterson fill that spot.  He made a handful of starts this year and rocked in all of them.  As for the bullpen, let me state first that Mike Timlin should retire immediately.  I don’t even want to count how many games he lost for us this year, and don’t even get me started on Game 2 of the ALCS.  Even if he doesn’t retire, we’ll need at least one more reliever, two if Masterson does go back to being a starter.  The more airtight our relief is, the more invincible we’ll be.  Think about it.  A pitching staff that includes Dice-K, Beckett, Lester, Papelbon, Okajima, and Delcarmen is pretty formidable already.  Some additions and improvements could make us lights-out for the full nine innings.

In other news, Big Papi’s wrist is fine and he won’t need surgery in the offseason.  Tito, however, is scheduled to have surgery on his back.  I give him a lot of credit.  Boston is a tough place to manage, and he makes it look easy.  He is officially one of the greatest managers in the game.  The Patriots completely decimated the Broncos and won on Monday night by a score of 41-7.  And after six games, the Bruins are third in their division with a record of 2-1-3 for a total of seven points in the standings.  Manny Fernandez and Patrice Bergeron are back in action this season, and Bergeron, PJ Axelsson, and Andrew Ference are this year’s assistant captains with Zdeno Chara wearing the C.  Chuck Kobasew is on the injured reserve.  The Red Sox and Patriots have been doing some serious winning lately, and it’s becoming painfully obvious that the Bruins need a Stanley Cup.

I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I congratulate the 2008 Boston Red Sox, the American League Division champions! True, our October didn’t end like it could have or should have, but remember, there’s always next year.  And there’s always last year.

Comcast SportsNet: The Hub

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