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Posts Tagged ‘Dallas Stars’

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!

AP Photo

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Congratulations to Papi for reeling in his sixth Silver Slugger, a very well-deserved award indeed! Pedroia has been named the AL Defensive Player of the Year, and John is up for AL Manager of the Year.

Other than that, it’s still really early in the offseason, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens as things start heating up.

In other news, the Pats walked all over the Steelers, 55-31.  The Bruins lost to the Stars, 3-2 in a shootout but went on to beat the Panthers, 4-1, and the Leafs, 3-1.

Getty Images

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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.

AP Photo

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Ladies and gentlemen, we are now on the home stretch of home stretches.  Truck Day is two days away.  Tuesday, February 8, the equipment goes down, and we have a week until the pitchers are catchers are off.  No matter how much snow is on the ground, spring is definitely now in the air.  I mean, it’s Truck Day.  It’s the light at the end of the cold, wintry tunnel.  I see that eighteen-wheeler pulling out of the players’ parking lot on Van Ness and I know I’ve only got a number of weeks until Opening Day.  Two more days.  Just two more days.  We’ve made it this far.  We got this.

And now, a word on the brass.  In October, a handful of executives went on a Listening Tour of New England, where they basically drove around listening to fans air their grievances.  On Monday, they sat down for a Q&A session to listen to more airing of grievances.  But here’s the kicker: they actually listen.  We have more Saturday day games and additional food options as a result, and we do not (I repeat: we do not) have tiered ticket pricing.  (That’s where the brass charges more for Yankee games than they do for Jays games, for example.  Not that it would matter.  Who really gets their tickets at face-value these days anyway.  But still, it’s the gesture that counts.) It just seems like there’s always a new reason to be proud of being a Sox fan.  Having a brass that actually cares is a big one.

Did I mention that Tuesday is Truck Day? I’ll mention it again: Tuesday is Truck Day! Finally!

In other news, the Bruins did crush, in multiple ways and at multiple times.  We bullied our way to a win over Carolina on Tuesday, 3-2.  But that wasn’t nearly as exciting as our game with the Stars on Thursday.  Which we won, by a 6-3 beating of a final score.  But wait; it gets better.  Let’s consider the first half of the  first period by itself.  In total, that half of a period featured forty-four penalty minutes, four fights, four goals, one shot off the post, one pulled goalie, and one replaced glass panel.  One second into the game, Greg Campbell had it out with Steve Ott.  One second into the next faceoff, Shawn Thornton had it out with Krys Barch.  Two seconds into the next faceoff, Adam McQuaid had it out with Brian Sutherby.  Thirty-five seconds into the game, Lucic scored.  Forty-five seconds after that, Bergeron scored.  So Andrew Raycroft was pulled for Kari Lehtonen.  And three minutes and fifty-one seconds into the game, Ference had it out with Adam Burrish.  Bergeron scored his second and final goal of the game nine minutes and thirty-five seconds into it.  And that was the first half of the first period.  Yeah.  It was awesome.  That is something I can’t say about our game yesterday, which we lost to the Sharks, despite having outshot them, twenty-six to eighteen.  We play the Habs on Wednesday.  Let’s win.

Let’s Go Red Sox

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In response to yesterday’s post, Saul commented:

The thing about Teixeira, though, is that he’s not a great fielder, which is why he’s been stuck at first. He’s by no means bad, but he doesn’t have the range you need for a third baseman. I think your best bet, if you sign him, is to keep Youk at third while Lowell works his way back – although that doesn’t make sense for one reason: to do either what you suggest or what I suggest, you’re going to have bench either Youk or Teixeira with some regularity, unless you make Youk a shortstop or something, which i don’t see. And you can’t sit either of those guys, not even for Lowell’s D. So if you sign Tex, as I see it, you basically tell Lowell that you’re done with him, because he just doesn’t fit on a roster with Youk and Tex in front of him.

He’s right, and it presents an interesting dilemma.  I think it’s safe to say that Theo will be looking into the possibility of landing Teixeira.  Who wouldn’t? In 2008, he batted .308 with 33 home runs, 121 RBIs, a .410 OBP, and a .552 slugging percentage.  And as a first baseman, he’s a great fielder, posting a .997 fielding percentage for this past season.  Now, this is where we run into trouble.  Teixeira’s only Major League experience at third base was fifteen games in 2003, and for those fifteen games he posted a fielding percentage of .811.  Granted, that’s only fifteen games, and perhaps if he’d played more that statistic would’ve been able to rise, but you also have to consider that maybe there was a reason why he didn’t play more.  When Saul says that you need range to cover third base, he’s absolutely correct.  It’s a very demanding position, and it’s one that requires a lot of dexterity.  Which is what led me in the first place to thinking about what would happen if we signed Teixeira.  Mikey Lowell’s injury turned out to be more serious than anyone thought.  It was so serious that he was taken off the ALCS roster so that he could have surgery.  That’s all well and good until you consider that he’s 34 years old, so even after the surgery there’s no guarantee he’ll be comparable to what he was in 2007.  And if we intend to keep Varitek, we’ll need all the offense we can get.

So we’re going to need someone who can be counted on to start regularly at third and who has quality offense and defense.  For most of this past season that was Youk with Casey and then Kotsay at first.  So, if we consider Saul’s suggestion of signing Teixeira and putting him at first, we commit to putting Youk at third permanently.  But where does that leave Lowell? Contractually, we have him through 2010, but if we’re successful in signing Teixeira what will that mean for Lowell? It’s a question with no easy answer.  But here’s what I’m thinking.

We’re not the Yankees.  We don’t kick one of our own to the curb on a whim, we don’t consider players to be interchangeable, we don’t staff our team with new superstars every season, and we don’t do anything unless it’s for the long-term good of the club as a whole.  Lowell has already done more than he was ever expected to do; after all, the only reason why he ended up with us was Josh Beckett.  The Marlins refused to trade us Josh Beckett unless they could use that deal to unload Lowell.  Turns out they had no idea who they were parting with; Lowell, of course, turned out to be the 2007 World Series MVP.  But here’s the thing.  He’s aging, he’s injured, and he only has two years left in his contract.  It’s unlikely that we’ll re-sign him after those two years are up, but by that time Teixeira will already be in the middle of another contract.  However, if we sign Teixeira now, he can find a place for himself on the team, the new clubhouse chemistry will have a chance to form, and he’d be able to stay with us for many season to come.

Mikey Lowell is one of my favorite players on the team, no question.  His attitude is great, on and off the field.  He’s one hundred percent Boston dirt dog.  His offense is great, and his defense is outstanding.  But if I had to put myself in Theo’s shoes, if the opportunity to sign Teixeira arose I’d take it, and as difficult as it would be (and it would be extraordinarily difficult), I think ultimately I’d have to let Lowell find a home on a team where he’d be able to share playing time with an up-and-coming third baseman.  That would give him the extra rest he’d need while letting him remain in that primary starter role.

In other news, Sean Casey, Alex Cora, Bartolo Colon, and David Ross have filed.  Of those four, Sean Casey and Alex Cora are obviously the top priorities, and I’d say re-signing them would be a good idea.  The Pats couldn’t hold up against the Colts and lost last night, 18-15.  Adam Vinatieri kicked the winning field goal; oh, the irony.  On Saturday, the Bruins blew the Dallas Stars out of the water with a final score of 5-1.  They’ll play again at home against the Leafs on Thursday.

Moving Portrait

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