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Posts Tagged ‘Cliff Lee’

Papi and Gonzalez went head-to-head in the Home Run Derby, but neither of them walked away with the trophy.  Papi actually didn’t do so well; he hit five dingers in the first round and four in the semifinals, so he was eliminated and never made it to the finals.  Gonzalez hit nine dingers in the first round, eleven in the semifinals, and tied a derby record of eleven in the final round that Papi set last year when he won the derby with thirty-two total.  It looked like the stage was set for a victory.  Even the park was cooperating; Gonzalez has only hit more home runs at his former home park in San Diego.  But Robinson Cano hit eight, twelve, and set a new derby record with twelve in the final round and therefore managed to beat him by one.  One! That is frustrating.

As far as the All-Star Game is concerned, that didn’t have a great outcome either.  The American League lost, 5-1.  I mean, come on.  If we have to lose, at least put up a fight.  At least lose by only one run or, even better, tie it and force extras and rise to the occasion.  That’s what the National League has been doing for the past few All-Star Games.  The American league went two for five with runners in scoring position; the National League went three for eight.  The American League left six men on base; the National League left three.  The American League had six hits; the National League had nine.  The difference-maker was Prince Fielder’s three-run shot in the fourth; CJ Wilson gave that up.  After that, there was an RBI single in the fifth and an RBI double in the seventh.

We had nothing to do with that.  Beckett ended up pulling out due to soreness in his left knee.  He says it’s a minor thing and expects to start Sunday.  It takes a big man and an even bigger team player to pull out of the All-Star Game so he can make his scheduled start with his team.

In two at-bats, Ellsbury struck out twice.  In one at-bat, Youk singled.  In two at-bats, Papi struck out once.  Gonzalez was a different story.  Adrian Gonzalez is the reason why the American League wasn’t shut out.  He went yard off of Cliff Lee on the second pitch of his first at-bat of the game with two out in the fourth inning, a cut fastball.  It was a hugely powerful swing that ended up in the first few rows of seats in right center field.  It was the first home run hit in an All-Star Game since JD Drew’s blast in 2008.  It’s funny; that home run didn’t make the American League win the game, so if he’d hit it in the derby instead of in the game, he would’ve forced a tiebreaker with Cano and maybe carried home the trophy after all.

Well, it’s not like we didn’t try to secure home field advantage for ourselves.  It just goes to show you that, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.  I can’t speak for anyone else.  None of our pitchers played in the game so the National League’s runs were not our fault.  Did I expect our guys to make a bigger impact at the plate? Yes, but I also expected everyone else on the team to chip in.  After all, it is the All-Star Game.  All-stars appear in All-Star Games because they’re supposed to be the best of the best.  I guess that goes for both sides, but if it’s the American League versus the National League, the American League should at least be giving the National League a run for its money every time.  Well, I guess come October we’ll just have to boost our away game.  But you have to get there first.  Let’s see what happens in the second half.

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As of the conclusion of last night’s game, the American League has ninety Interleague wins to the National League’s eighty-four.  In my opinion, that’s way too close.  The American League needs to play better.  Starting with us.  Because being shut out is not the best way to play any game, regardless of whether it’s Interleague, and especially if it’s a series opener as well as the opener of the second series of a nine-game road trip to National League parks.  Those are nine games during which we will not have our DH.  I refuse to believe that this is the best we can do.  Putting aside the obvious fact that when we make it to the World Series, it’s entirely probable that we’ll have to face the Phillies, we just want to beat them generally because they’re good.  Like I said, a trip to October is based on winning in the first place.  And last night, that wasn’t what we did.

We lost, 5-0.  While Cliff Lee was busy pitching a two-hit, two-walk complete game, Beckett only lasted six innings and gave up five runs, one of which was the result of a sac fly by Lee, on five hits, two of which were home runs which accounted for all but one of the Phillies’ five runs.  Beckett walked one and struck out only one, a season low.  He threw eighty-four pitches, fifty-three of which were strikes.  He even made an error on a pickoff move.  Morales and Jenks were solid, but it didn’t really make that much of a difference.  Obviously a very far cry from the nearly perfect game he hurled his last time out.  I guess that enormous delay between starts wasn’t as helpful as we bargained for.  He needed the extra rest due to a nasty case of stomach flu; the rust showed.  On the bright side, we know it’s due to an illness and won’t last.

All five runs were given up on fastballs, but his fastballs were actually his best pitches.  They were decent.  It was the rest of his pitches that totally tanked.  His changeup, curveball, and cutter were profoundly sub-par.  As a result, he didn’t vary speeds well at all, and he fell behind in counts and was inefficient.  Many of his pitches ended up to the left of the zone.

However, we can take consolation in the fact that Yankee fans probably saw Lee’s performance and are now kicking themselves into oblivion.

Clearly, there was no offense to speak of.  Lee faced the minimum in seven of nine innings.  Our only extra-base hit was a double by McDonald in the eighth.  Aside from that hit, our only other hit of the night was a single by Scutaro in the sixth, our first hit of the game.  Aside from that, we gained bases twice more via the walk, one for Pedroia and one for Youk.  We left only two on base and had only three opportunities with runners in scoring position.

As you can see, this was a short post.  That’s because there wasn’t much to say because the team didn’t do much of anything at any point.  Today’s game has to be better.  It has to be.

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Wow.  Quietest.  Baseball week.  Ever.  It’s like last week; after all the moves we made, what could possibly have happened this week? The only big question I can think of concerning our starters is the shortstop question, and that’s not even a big question.  I think it’s already basically decided that Scutaro will start and Lowrie will serve as backup.  Lowrie is basically the ultimate utility man, and he won’t be for long.  He’s unquestionably starter material.  So he’s going to need playing time, because when he’s hot, he’s hot.  So it’s one of those things that you can debate and debate and debate, but at the end of the day, the veteran will get the nod to start after Spring Training and it could all change a few weeks into the season.  Maybe someone gets injured.  Maybe someone gets a day off.  Maybe adjustments need to be made for a lefty or a righty.  You never know.

Basically, it all comes down to the fact that we’re almost at pitchers and catchers.  Almost.  Right now we’ve come to the worst part of the winter: the home stretch.  This year has been a long one for obvious reasons, and that little bit more is just unbearable.  The team is finalized; we’re ready to go.  And yet we’ve got a little more than a month left.  Well.  There’s nothing we can do about it except wait.  Which, in and of itself, is absolutely torturous.  Opening Day is going to be epic.  Meanwhile, there’s absolutely nothing to be done.  It’s just painful.

We have officially entered the period of arbitration; players have until Saturday to file.  Paps and Ellsbury are both eligible.  Meanwhile, Theo has never gone to arbitration for any player in any of his first eight seasons as Boston’s GM.  Not once.  That’s impressive.  And it’ll be more impressive if he can do it again this year, especially given who’s eligible.  I think the emphasis here is on Paps.  Arbitration has the potential to get ugly for him.  So hopefully we just avoid that and everyone stays happy.

You may remember Max Ramirez, the catching prospect we tried to land from the Rangers in exchange for Mike Lowell.  We just claimed him off waivers.  The Mets took Taylor Buchholz.  Technically this isn’t so relevant to us anymore, but just as a point of interest, Beltre finally signed.  He signed a six-year deal with the Rangers worth ninety-six million dollars.  That’s a lot of years and a lot of money.  Despite the two back-to-back Gold Gloves, his defense is far from spotless, and despite his uncanny success within the confines of Fenway, he’s not exactly the Cliff Lee of hitting depending on the park.  But the Rangers lost Cliff Lee, so I guess something had to be done.  Beltre had a great year, and if he continues his production, he could be a big asset to the Rangers.  Only for about the first half of his contract, of course, but hey, at least now they have some stability at the hot corner.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Leafs by one and lost to the Wild by two.  And we dropped yesterday’s game to the Habs by one in sudden death.  At least we get a point.  But it was infuriating.  We scored two in the second and carried that lead into the third.  But then they tied it and the rest is history.  We are now tied with them for first in the division.  I don’t like to be tied with the Habs for first in the division.  As long as we’re ahead, I actually don’t like to be anywhere near the Habs, ever.  So we’ll need to just get some wins and be done with it.  Meanwhile, the Pats have a bye this week, but we’re playing the Jets on Sunday.  This is going to be fun.  I’m psyched.

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The exciting part of free agency is now finished.  I guess that’s what happens when you move up every single important offseason deadline.  Cliff Lee is officially off the market as well.  But he didn’t sign with the Rangers.  He didn’t even sign with the Yankees.  He signed with the Phillies.  They made a late bid on Monday night and he took it.  Five years and one hundred million dollars.

You read right.  The Yankees offered him seven years for 142 million, and he turned it down.  He turned down more years and more money to go back to Philly.  Both deals pay him roughly the same amount per season, but it’s a big decision to turn down that much security.  A reasonable and rational one in this case, in my opinion, since it means he’s not going to New York.  The man has scruples.

So, to review, we now have Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, and the Yankees do not have Cliff Lee.  I repeat: the New York Yankees do not have Cliff Lee! Said another way, Cliff Lee just dropped the New York Yankees like nobody’s business and basically showed them that, no, not everything in life can be bought.  The shift in the balance of power in the AL East is now complete.  Order has been restored in the universe.  We are back on top, and there’s nothing New York can do about it.  As far as the Phillies are concerned, we’ll deal with them in Interleague and the World Series, if they get there.  Keep in mind that they’re beatable.  Their rotation is great, but so is ours.  The only problem is that there are lots of question marks attached to ours and less attached to theirs.  But if those question marks yield positive answers this season, we’ll be fine.  Especially when you consider the fact that our lineup is packed with lefties, so right-handed pitching stands no chance.  We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Meanwhile, life is great!

Life is so great that one of the hot debate topics in Red Sox Nation these days is who will lead off, Crawford or Ellsbury? Just think about that for a second.  This is a question that we were asking in our dreams not too long ago.  This is a question that managers of All-Star teams were asking themselves not too long ago.  And now this is a question that our manager gets to ask himself on a daily basis.  That’s how great life is.  Because, when you put this in perspective, you realize that choosing between Ellsbury and Crawford for the leadoff spot is not a problem.  Choosing between Hall and McDonald and Patterson and Cash and Nava for every single lineup spot, day in and day out, is a problem.  And in answer to that question, I think Ellsbury has to lead off.  Pedroia will bat second, and Crawford will bat third.  Tito is saying now that Ellsbury will probably lead off, Crawford will bat either second or third, and Pedroia will bat wherever Crawford doesn’t bat, but those three will take the first three spots.  Ultimately, though, I assume Tito will separate the two lefties with the righty to confound opposing pitching.

The Yankees ended up locking Russell Martin; they agreed to terms with him on a one-year deal.

On to the bullpen, which is the only part of our baseball lives that wasn’t so great.  We signed Lenny DiNardo to a one-year minor league split deal.  Welcome back.  I should mention that his best season to date occurred under the tutelage of one Curt Young.  We signed Matt Albers to a one-year deal.  We also signed Dan Wheeler to a one-year deal.  But the highlight of this week’s bullpen wheeling and dealing is undoubtedly Bobby Jenks, formerly the closer for the White Sox who was non-tendered.  Jenks has agreed to a two-year deal in principle.  He didn’t have a great season last year, so we probably won’t have to deal with any competition between him and Paps for the position of closer.  Paps didn’t have a great year last year either, but his bad year was better than Jenks’s bad year.  But Jenks is awesome – his fastball is red-hot, and he throws a lot of strikes – with him on board, our bullpen can go straight to the top again.

Jenks is four years younger than Paps, and he makes our bullpen one of the hardest-throwing in the Major Leagues.  But heat isn’t everything; it’ll give you a lot of strikeouts but doesn’t guarantee you the save.  Consider this, though: baseball operations has wanted some sort of variation in the late innings, because before this deal we had Bard and Paps, so hitters were guaranteed fastball after fastball after fastball.  Jenks is a fastball pitcher, so the change of pace could come from Paps.  Paps is obviously a power pitcher, but his splitter and slider, on which he worked really hard last year, are now excellent, yielding .190 and .171 opposing batting averages, respectively.  So Jenks could get him to rely less on his fastball and throw more of those.  Obviously, his fastball is still amazing, but this would make him more versatile.  And more battle-ready, since now he probably won’t see action besides the ninth or in consecutive games.  So Jenks might actually make Paps more effective.

That, in turn, could have significant ramifications for next year’s offseason, when Paps becomes a free agent.  If he mounts a stellar campaign this year, he’ll be in a position to demand a stellar amount of cash.  But Heath Bell will also be a free agent at that time, and it’s unclear how well Paps will be able to compete with him in the market.  So this deal with Jenks gives us a lot of options and a lot of leverage for negotiations.  Bell will probably steal the show, and Paps would be demoted to a backup interest for most teams.  And let’s not forget the possibility that we could just decide to make Jenks the set-up man and Bard the closer, something of which I am sure Paps is well aware.  Honestly, I hope that doesn’t happen.  I hope we retain Paps, and I suspect we will, but there’s no way to know.  The bottom line for now is this: Jenks, Bard, Paps.  Done.  Game over.

Last but not least, the player to be named later in the Gonzalez deal is Eric Patterson.  He had some big heroics in Fenway, and he’ll be missed.

Red Sox Nation sends its condolences to the family of Walt Dropo, the AL Rookie of the Year in 1950 with us, who passed away on Friday.  He beat out Whitey Ford for the award.  He was one of our greatest of that era.  And he will be missed.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Sabres by a goal.  Ryder scored a power play goal to put us on top in the third period, but Drew Stafford put the finishing touches on a hat trick in the third as well, and Buffalo won out.  We also suffered a brutal loss to the Habs by a goal.  The final score was 3-4.  It was crushing.  And then we turned around and crushed the Caps.  Barely.  The final score was 3-2.  Thomas made twenty-five saves in the third period alone; if it weren’t for him, I’m not convinced we would have picked up the W, because that third period was awful.  And Tom Brady delivered a sound thrashing to Chicago’s pass defense, yielding a final score of 36-7.  It was excellent.

I’ll be taking a break for about a week.  I think it’s safe to say that most of the big name wheeling and dealing’s been done.  But you never know.  Theo will probably use this week to finalize the bullpen situation and take care of any other necessary business.  But at this point, I think we’re set!

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Wow.  Just, wow.  Hugeness this week.  Trust me, there is epicness to discuss.

Beltre and Felipe Lopez both declined arbitration, but there is still hope for the former.  We all know that the A’s are offering Beltre a sweet deal, but he’s taking his equally sweet time in signing it.  He stated publicly that he wants to return to Boston, so he’s waiting to see what Theo’s got.

It turns out that what Theo’s got is a seriously awesome replacement.  Adrian Gonzalez, welcome to Boston! Finally! He went to Boston yesterday for a physical to make sure his right shoulder is on track after his surgery, and he passed.  We’ll be sending Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, outfielder Reymond Fuentes, and a player to be named later to the Padres, which fortunately shouldn’t hurt our farm system too much because last year’s draft was so successful.  Although it’ll be rough to see them all go.  The important thing to keep in mind about prospects is that you never know.  They could be awesome like Hanley Ramirez.  Or they could be terrible like Craig Hansen.  We already know what Adrian Gonzalez is capable of at the Major League level.

There’s room for a contract extension; Gonzalez is entering the last year of his current deal and we already acquired permission from Major League Baseball to hammer out a new one by this afternoon.  That didn’t happen, so Theo might wait to watch his shoulder in the spring, and of course there are the luxury tax implications.  But he won’t be giving up all those top prospects if he weren’t assured that an extension could be worked out, which would give us stability at all three bags.  Given Gonzalez’s age, anything from five to eight years can be considered feasible.  We offered six, but he wanted eight.  So there you go.

But one thing’s for sure: celebration is indeed in order.  Gonzalez will succeed in Boston.  His lefty swing was practically built exclusively for Fenway Park, and he was able to excel in a quintessential pitcher’s park.  Seriously.  Most of his fly balls in Petco would’ve been out in Fenway.  That’s why I’m convinced that he’ll get over his National League-ness in a hurry.  By the way, he’s got two Gold Gloves at first.  And he started almost every single game for about the last five years.  Without DHing once.  So here’s to you, Theo.  Two years later, you finally closed the deal.  And the fact that the Padres’ general manager and assistant general manager of scouting and player development both used to work with Theo is the icing on the cake that didn’t necessarily work to our advantage since they basically knew our farm system inside-out.  Gonzalez will play first and replace V-Mart’s bat, we’ll move Youk to third, and Beltre, who’s older anyway, will now probably sign with the A’s.  The deal is done on principle.  All they need to do is announce it on Monday at Fenway and that’s it.  The Adrian Gonzalez Era in Boston has begun!

One more thing.  Fundamentally this deal was not about New York; it’s about us, our team, our organization, and our hunger.  But while we’re on the subject, I would just like to point out that, not only is Adrian Gonzalez the answer to Mark Teixeira, but we now have a young infield that’s locked and entering its prime while the Yanks have guys on the downward slope of their careers.  I’m just saying.  I would advise New York to be afraid.  Very afraid.

Tek signed a one-year deal with two million dollars plus incentives; those rumors about him going to the Dodgers couldn’t have been more wrong.  They started circulating because the Dodgers had to decide whether to tender Russell Martin, who’s awesome except for injuries.  We didn’t tender Okajima, given his poor performance last season, but we already tendered Paps and will be making offers to Ellsbury and Taylor Buchholz.  Rumor has it that we made an offer to Mariano Rivera before he signed a two-year deal with the Yanks.  The Yanks seem to be avenging this action by showing interest in Carl Crawford to drive up his price.  I honestly don’t think the offer to Rivera was serious.  And I honestly don’t think New York’s interest in Crawford is serious.  Unless they don’t get Cliff Lee.  If Lee stays in Texas, New York might seriously start looking at Crawford because they could always deal Brett Gardner for a starter.

Pedroia’s foot is almost at one hundred percent.  He’s been cleared to jog and will be ready for Spring Training.  We have officially met with both Crawford and Werth, who, according to Dwight Evans, is the best right fielder in baseball and similar to himself.  This is Dwight Evans, people.  That’s seriously high praise.

Not that that’s going to help anyone.  Not even Werth himself.  Werth is now officially out of the picture and off the deep end.  He signed a deal for seven years and 126 million dollars.  With the Washington Nationals.  I’m not kidding.  That tells me two things: one, he’s not hungry, and two, he’s essentially a fool.  He’s not going to win a ring with the Nats, and seven years from now, when his contract is up, he won’t be starter material, which is obviously something that the Nationals don’t care about.  So his ring with the Phillies will be the last of his career as a starter.  If he wanted security, he sure got it.  He knows where he’ll be for the majority of the next decade, and he’s getting a whole heap of money for it.  To be honest with you, he would have been great in a Boston uniform, but I wouldn’t want someone only interested in money and years to play for us.  Especially not someone who would ever seriously consider both money and years with the Nationals.  I mean, they’re the Nationals.  Not only are they National League, they’re the worst in the National League; in fact, they’re the worst in the Major Leagues.

But wait; it gets better.  He says he’s been considering signing with the Nats since hiring Scott Boras as his agent last season.  Let me get this straight: he hired Scott Boras to get him a deal with the Washington Nationals.  That’s ridiculous.  Why would you hire Scott Boras to cut a deal with the Nationals? Jayson Werth doesn’t need an agent to negotiate a deal with the Washington Nationals; Jayson Werth can walk up to the Washington Nationals, write down a year amount and a dollar amount on a piece of paper, hand it to whoever is spearheading the process, and receive a “yes” to everything in five seconds flat.  He says he’s impressed with the Nats’ acquisition of young talent? Give me a break.  Nobody expects all that young talent to stay there; as soon as they’re able, they’re writing one-way tickets into free agency and out of town.  And then he went on this tangent in which he basically implied that he only signed with the Nationals because they assured him that they’d continue to acquire the talent necessary to compete and win, because that is very important to him.  Oh, sure.  If it’s that important to him, he would not have signed with the Nationals.  So they present their future plans to him and he asks questions about the team.  Great.  Now let’s see the Nationals follow that plan, the young talent stay put, and Werth stay in shape long enough to merit his salary at the end of his contract.  I don’t think so.

We signed starter Brandon Duckworth to a minor league deal.  He was part of the Billy Wagner trade.  We are supposedly interested in reliever Matt Guerrier.

Oh, and I fully expect Mike Cameron to morph into some sort of hitting specialist against lefties, being that many of the AL East’s elite pitchers are lefties and some of our middle bats struggled against lefties last season.  The only potential hindrance to that expectation is playing time.  Cameron has the potential to get rolling, but he can’t get rolling if he never gets going.

The Spring Training schedule is out.  We’re opening with an exhibition doubleheader with Boston College followed by Northeastern.  March features competition with Minnesota, Atlanta, Philly, both New York teams, Florida, Baltimore, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Toronto, and Houston.

On Saturday, Sox Pax and tickets for twenty-one games in April and May will go on sale.

Get psyched.  The Winter Meetings are starting on Monday, and they’re going to be very interesting.  And by interesting I also mean hectic, since most of the important offseason deadlines have moved up.  Theo has his work cut out for him; we have a bat to replace V-Mart, but we’ll need another, preferably a righty, to replace Beltre since he’ll sign elsewhere, and relievers.  Good ones.  We’ve already made a splash; the key is to fill the club’s needs without removing all of our flexibility for next year.

In other news, the Bruins dropped Sunday’s game to the Thrashers, 1-4.  But then we shut out the Flyers, three-zip, and completely decimated the Lightning, 8-1.  Krejci and Ryder each racked up three points.  It was awesome.  If this were baseball, that would be considered a slugfest.  Then we lost in a shootout to the Leafs, but at least we get a point.  The Pats take on the Jets tomorrow.

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Congratulations to Beltre for winning a Silver Slugger! He most definitely deserved it.  I wish I could say the same for Vlad Guerrero, who won it instead of Big Papi, which is ridiculous.  Guerrero hit .300 with twenty-nine homers, 115 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of .496.  Sounds great.  Until you consider the fact that he only hit nine homers after the All-Star break and posted a measly OPS of .748.  Papi hit thirty-two homers and posted a slugging percentage of .529 and OPS of .899.  Notice that all of Papi’s numbers are higher than Vlad’s.  Theoretically, this should result in his fifth Silver Slugger at DH, but for some absurd and unknown reason, it didn’t.  He and Josh Beckett can commiserate this offseason, because that’s just not right.

Pedroia’s rehab is progressing ahead of schedule.  I’m not surprised by that.  I am relieved, not just for the team and for Red Sox Nation but also for Pedroia, who’s been itching to play for months now.

Ladies and gentlemen, the stove is finally starting to heat up.  Finally.  We have confirmed official contact with Werth’s agent.  We are supposedly interested in Zack Greinke and Justin Duchsherer.  We have statements from Theo about his commitment to re-sign Beltre and V-Mart, with the obvious emphasis on V-Mart.  Meanwhile, Peter Gammons is convinced that Theo is going to move on without V-Mart because he says the Sox are sure Salty can handle the job.  I’m going to take Theo’s word on this instead.

Perhaps the ultimate free agent, or at least the one everyone’s talking about these days, is Cliff Lee.  Everyone thought Lee is going to be a Yankee for sure.  Nothing would please me less, but I don’t think that’s as likely as people think.  He’s thirty-two years old, and if New York decides to give him a Sabathia-like contract with heaps of money and, less intelligently, heaps of years, I will lose negative respect for their organization, because trust me, there isn’t any there to begin with now.  My next guess would be the Angels, but they’ve already set their sights on Carl Crawford, although that could change since the Giants proved that, yes, you can win with pitching.  (Which only confirms the fact that we’re going to win the World Series this year, by the way.  Just sayin’.) Detroit could be an option since they’ve made payroll room.  The most likely competitor for New York right now appears to be the Rangers, who are in hot pursuit, and offers could come in from the Phillies and Brewers as well.

The Mets won’t spend this offseason, the Cubs want youth, the Reds are in the process of offering Arroyo an extension, and I’m so sorry to say this, but I don’t think we’re going to be in the mix for this one.  A sizeable chunk of our payroll is currently devoted to our starting rotation, and on top of that we just don’t have the space for Lee right now.  So it makes sense to leave him alone.  Otherwise, we basically wouldn’t be able to do anything else.  Lee is absolutely awesome, so again, it hurts to say so, but we’re making the right move here.

An interesting question to ask is whether the acquisition of Lackey kept us from Lee.  I think the answer would have to be yes, but I think we’ll get more bang for our buck with Lackey than we would have with Lee.  Lackey is a competitive workhorse.  He absorbs innings like a sponge.  We need a guy like that in there, especially if we’ve got another guy on whom you can’t necessarily depend to go deep.  (That would be Dice-K.) Lackey complements that, and that way the bullpen knows it’s going to have a light night for each overtime it works.  Depending on how this season goes, I’d be ready to say we made the right decision.  That’s the key right there.  Lee is a competitive workhorse too, and he also absorbs innings like a sponge.  But he won’t be absorbing anyone’s innings like anything unless they’re ready to fork over substantial coin and years.  Provided that my predictions about Lackey returning to top form his sophomore season come true, Lackey is the better option because he’ll probably end up being cheaper than both.  I have a feeling that Lee’s next contract is going to be huge.  So Lackey gives us more flexibility that way.  Sure, Lee arguably would be better, but like I said, if Lackey is back to his stellar self as of now, the difference in quality won’t be that large; meanwhile, we spend less money and don’t have to commit the better part of an entire decade.

We traded Dustin Richardson to the Marlins for Andrew Miller.  The Jays just hired PawSox manager Torey Lovullo as their new first base coach.  Our minor league infield coordinator, Gary DiSarcina, is now the assistant to the Angels’ general manager.  DeMarlo Hale will interview with the Mets for their managerial position.  The disadvantage of having a top-flight staff is that everyone wants a piece.  Hopefully for us, this goes nowhere.

In a spectacular combination of divine intervention and rational thought, ESPN will not renew the contracts of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.  Oh, happy day.  Twenty-one years of suffering through commentary that was anything but insightful and unbiased is officially over.  Dan Shulman will replace Miller.  At this point, anything is an improvement.

In other news, the Bruins started the week with a victory over the Penguins, 7-4.  Seven goals in a single game.  Wow.  Then we just had to lose to the Habs, 3-1.  Yesterday’s game didn’t bode too well either; the Sens shut us out, 2-0.  Those were not the same Senators we shut out, 4-0.  That was a completely different team.  On behalf of Bruins fans everywhere, I’d like to extend condolences to the family of Pat Burns, who coached us in the late ’90s.  Last Sunday, the Pats delivered one of the absolute worst performances I have ever had the misfortune of seeing.  We lost, 34-14, to none other than the Cleveland Browns.  The Cleveland Browns! I was seeing Super Bowl glory, and then all of a sudden we lost by twenty points to the Cleveland Browns? To make matters worse, Stephen Gostkowski will probably be out for two games with a quad strain.  The only silver lining I can possibly muster in this situation is that the Pats have a tendency to bounce back from big losses in a big way.  Right on time for us to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

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Part of being a consistent hitter is being dependable.  That means you deliver when your team needs it most.  When Youk stepped up to the plate last night in the bottom of the ninth, we needed something.  But it wasn’t enough.  When Youk stepped up to the plate last night in the bottom of the eleventh, we needed something else.  Anything.  It didn’t have to be a hugely dramatic home run.  It just needed to score a runner.

Lackey pitched one of his best outings of the entire season last night.  His timing was perfect, literally and figuratively, because Lee was on, and the way our offense was going, we wouldn’t have had a chance if Lackey hadn’t kept us in it.  Seriously.  Lee threw six pitches in the seventh inning.  He threw five pitches in the eighth inning.  He allowed only one baserunner between the second and eighth innings.  We wouldn’t have gone anywhere if Lackey hadn’t executed some serious dominance.

He gave up two runs on seven hits through seven innings, walking two and striking out three.  He threw 115 pitches.  His cutter and his changeup were outstanding, and both of his fastballs were working.  Texas couldn’t do anything through the first five innings.  But then he got into trouble in the sixth and had to throw a whopping thirty-one pitches to get out of it.  Unfortunately, he was not to escape unscathed.  Texas scored twice with two outs and took the lead.

Bard held the fort in the eighth, Paps took us through the ninth and tenth, and Delcarmen used ten pitches to clear the eleventh.  With the obvious help of Hall’s diving catch.  (Speaking of beautiful defensive plays, how about Scutaro’s double play in the fifth? That sliding catch and pivot was phenomenal.  It was all one fluid motion.  It’s good to have a shortstop in there who knows what he’s doing, isn’t it?)

We had scored in the first when McDonald bounced a double off the wall and Papi brought him home with a single and would’ve scored more if Beltre hadn’t hit into a double play.  That was it until the bottom of the ninth.  Scutaro led it off with a single, advanced on McDonald’s sac bunt, and advanced again on Papi’s groundout.  With two out, Scutaro finally on third, and a 1-1 count, Youk smacked a double down the third base line into left field.  The game was tied.  If I had to describe Youk as a hitter in three words, they’d be consistent, disciplined, and patient.  He knew he had to lay off Lee’s slider, and he did, no matter how hittable it seemed to look.  And that’s the kind of guy you want standing at the plate when you’re down to your final out.

But, of course, it didn’t end there.

It almost ended in the tenth.  Cameron blasted what I was convinced was going to be a walkoff home run, but Cruz made the jumping catch over the bullpen wall.  If he doesn’t make that catch, we all go home.  So we still had work to do.  And it wasn’t going to be easy.

The eleventh was almost an exact mirror image of the ninth.  Scutaro again led off the inning, this time with a walk.  McDonald again advanced him with a sac bunt that turned into a double due to a throwing error.  Papi was walked intentionally.  And Youk again came up to the plate, this time with the bases loaded.  But like I said, although a grand slam would have been out of this world, again both literally and figuratively, we weren’t necessarily looking for that.  All we wanted was the win.  And all we needed for the win was one run.  That’s why you need a guy like Youk up there who can hit anything, anytime, anywhere.  Only one run.  That’s all Youk had to do.  So naturally that’s exactly what he did.  Sac fly.  Done.  Cue the pile.  We win!

Further injury updates, and more good news! Buchholz will officially start on Wednesday.  Delcarmen, obviously, is back in action and looks great.  Beckett completed his four-inning rehab start, which wasn’t spectacular.Lowell is getting a cortisone shot in his hip on Monday and will begin rehab on Thursday.  The important thing, though, is that we’re getting healthier, slowly but surely.

If you look up the word “clutch” in the dictionary, you see a picture of all of Papi’s heroics from the 2004 postseason, and you also see Youk’s sac fly from last night.  There are many different ways to be clutch.  But clutch is clutch.  A run is a run, no matter how it scores.  And we desperately needed the morale boost that came with this win.  We cut our deficit behind first to five and a half.  We cut our deficit out of second to three and a half.  It doesn’t seem like much, but think back to the hole we were in after April, and remember where we ended up right before the All-Star break.  You just need to grind it out and keep chipping away.  More of that coming up tonight.  Lester is taking the hill, so you know it’s going to be good.

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