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Posts Tagged ‘David Aardsma’

January’s winding down, and we all know what that means: moving vans on Yawkey Way headed to Fort Myers.  I’m so stoked.  And we’ve done some good business this week.  We cut a one-year deal with Javier Lopez for $1.35 million and avoided arbitration.  And we neatly avoided arbitration with Paps through a one-year, $6.25 million deal.  It’s the richest contract ever for a reliever in his first year eligible for arbitration, and it makes him the eleventh-highest paid reliever in the Major Leagues.  And his agent isn’t even Scott Boras (he’s with Sam and Seth Levinson).  But he deserves it.  I mean, the man is a beast.  He’s literally the best closer in the game right now; ask anybody.  Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve wanted to lock up a multi-year deal, but this is fine for now.  He’s not a free agent until after the 2011 season, and avoiding arbitration was a good move.  It’s a very ugly process, because you’ve got the player and the team presenting salary proposals to a panel of three arbitrators, who choose one one of the proposals after the player argues for his worth and the team argues against it.  So basically the team talks down its own player in front of a third party.  It’s totally base; let’s say the team and the player emerge from arbitration with a salary in place.  Then what? The player continues playing for the team that verbally destroyed him.  That can’t be good.  So it’s great that we’ve never gone to arbitration during Theo’s tenure.  Yet more proof that he’s a genius.

We dealt David Pauley to the Orioles for reliever Randor Bierd, and we dealt David Aardsma to the Mariners for lefty Fabian Williamson, a nice addition to our minor league roster.  As far as Varitek is concerned, you know how it goes.  Everything’s still under wraps.  But it has been confirmed that there’s an offer on the table, and this time I’d be very surprised if Varitek doesn’t accept.  When Varitek declined arbitration, he gave up an opportunity to secure a salary at least comparable with last season’s, somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million.  I doubt the offer he’s been given is worth that much, but he has nowhere else to go.  Other teams don’t want to give up draft picks to sign him, and Scott Boras epically failed.  I know I said that last week, but it never gets old.  Scott Boras totally, completely, absolutely, positively, epically epically failed.  So, in all likelihood, look for Varitek to return, but at a discount.

I think it’s worth mentioning that Manny Ramirez, one of the great right-handed hitters of this period in the sport’s history and pretty much guaranteed future Hall-of-Famer, hasn’t signed a contract with anyone yet.  I wonder why.  I’m not worried, though.  Boras will figure something out.  It’s just a shame that Manny’s own worst enemy is himself.

Sean Casey is retiring; he’s already accepted a position with the MLB Network.  Good for him.  His personality is perfect for television.  Unfortunate that we won’t get to see him at bat anymore, though.  He hit line drives like nobody’s business last year.  Jon Lester will be honored with the Hutch Award, given for honor, courage, and dedication.  That’s basically Lester in a nutshell.  That, and he’s also very intelligent, which we can see in this quote:

Anytime you can go to Boston and somewhat succeed, if not succeed, you can pretty much play or pitch anywhere, maybe with the exception of New York.

Because who in their right mind would want to play for New York? (With the emphasis, of course, on the “right mind” part.)

Anyway, the end of the offseason is in sight, and maybe we didn’t accomplish everything on our list, but we’re in a good position for 2009.  We saved money while maintaining our flexibility, we secured deals with our home-grown talent, and we fixed last year’s big problem: bullpen depth.  I think it’s safe to say our bullpen is pretty much locked and loaded.

In other news, it was All-Star Weekend for the NHL, and Boston was represented nicely with four of our finest: Blake Wheeler, Marc Savard, Tim Thomas, and Big Zdeno Chara.  All four did Boston proud. Wheeler won the YoungStars MVP, Savard came in second in the Elimination Shootout while Thomas made some unbelievable saves, and Chara defended his title as Hardest Shot with a record-shattering 105.4 miles per hour.  Can you believe that? 105.4 miles per hour! I saw it, and I still can’t believe it.  I’m telling you, I would not want to be on the receiving end of one of those.  And as for the All-Star Game itself, the Eastern Conference walked away with the victory.  The final score was 12-11.  It was a shootout to end all shootouts, and guess who was in net for the winners.  Tim Thomas.  He stopped Shane Doan, winner of the Elimination Shootout, no less, and Rick Nash.  Roberto Luongo stopped only Vincent Lecavalier.  Thomas should absolutely win the Vezina Trophy this season.  Nuff ced.

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That’s all, folks.  The regular season is over for the Boston Red Sox.  After all the injuries and trades and predictions and speculations, the second season is finally here.  And we’re in.  Granted, we’re not as solidly in as we’d like to be.  We had to get in with the Wild Card and the Yankees just took two of three from us, but nonetheless we’re in.  And we’re playing the Angels in the ALDS, something we’re very comfortable with.  So I say bring it on.  I want to see us turn it up and show the league what we’ve got.

We lost the first game of the double-header.  It was probably the only time this season that Dice-K’s Houdini routine backfired.  As usual he walked more than his fair share of batters but for some reason the Yankees finally figured out how to act with runners in scoring position.  But that was the least of our problems.  Jonathan Papelbon gave up three runs on four hits in the top of the ninth.  This is now how the best closer in the league should act.  And certainly not right before the playoffs.  That’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.  We’re going to need him in top form in October, and make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, that what we saw yesterday afternoon was not by any means his top form.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, I guess.  Anyway, the rest is history.  The final score was 6-2.

The nightcap was much more interesting.  Wakefield pitched five two-hit shutout innings, walked none, and struck out three.  Not a long outing, but definitely one of his more solid outings.  The problem lay in the relief.  Masterson came in and allowed a run on three hits.  Timlin actually pitched a perfect inning for once.  Aardsma came in and allowed two runs on three hits, strengthening the argument that he should be considered a last resort.  A glorified Craig Hansen, if you will.  And Hansack redeemed himself from his last outing with a perfect tenth inning.

RBIs for Carter and Van Every.  Two for Casey.  The only member of the lineup who had a multi-hit night was Alex Cora, who went two for four.  It was a real nailbiter.  It was tied at one until Sean Casey hit a single with the bases loaded in the eighth to score two runs.  Then the Yanks tied it back up in the top of the ninth, but we all know how it turned out.  The final score was 4-3, and it ended with a run in our half of the tenth inning.

I have to hand it to the Fenway Park grounds grew.  They worked really hard this weekend to keep everything in order and make sure the field is dry, so they definitely deserve a hearty “Thank you” for all of their good work.  Keep it up!

In other news, Mikey Lowell might not be playing in Game 1 of the ALDS, an oblique strain has moved Josh Beckett’s start to Game 3 in favor of Lester for Game 1, and JD Drew will be appearing in the postseason.  Dustin Pedroia will finish the season with a .326 bagging average, good for second in the American League.  But MVP is based on more than just stats, and he’s definitely the MVP in my book.  Johnny Pesky’s number was retired, making him the sixth Red Sox player to receive that honor.  His No. 6 now sits between Joe Cronin’s No. 2 and Yaz’s No. 8.  Congratulations to Mr. Red Sox!

Let’s face it: we’re always different in October.  In October, we get a second wind, and it’s all we need.  It’s almost like there’s some kind of reserve that we tap into in the postseason that makes our team have All-Star quality.  Even if we had a horrible season and only managed to snag the Wild Card by the skin of our teeth, we’d still be a formidable opponent because in October something just clicks.  That’s why it’s called Soxtober.  We own it.

The party starts on Wednesday at 10:00PM when Jon Lester takes on John Lackey on the West Coast.  Let’s go Red Sox!

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When I thought about how we’d start our last series of the- regular season, last night wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.  It was a slaughter, and not in our favor.  In fact, last night’s score was the same score of Game  of the ALCS.  Maybe it’s a sign of better things to come.  But until I see otherwise I’m rather inclined to think that it’s a sign that we were destroyed.  True, October is the second season and it’s largely based on fate and the opinions of the baseball gods, but losing to the Yankees 19-8 at home at this stage in the game is a little embarrassing.

David Pauley made the start after Dice-K was scratched due to a threat of rain, and the deluge began in more ways than one.  Pauley  pitched only 2.2 innings but in that time allowed seven runs on six hits (he gave up a two-run shot to who but Johnny Damon in the second inning.  Ugh.) Exit Pauley, enter Aardsma, who did nothing to limit the damage and instead allowed five runs on three hits over 0.2 innings pitched (Cody Ransom hit one deep in the fourth).  Then Timlin came on and allowed his usual run, another homer by Ransom in teh fifth.  Chris Smith came on and allowed three runs on three hits.  And Hansack came on and allowed five runs on three hits.  So basically what this means is that three of our five pitchers allowed home runs, and Timlin of all people was the pitcher with the lowest total of runs allowed.  Is it just me, or do things like this usually happen to the Yankees and not to us?

We scored less than half the runs New York scored.  That’s a little disturbing.  On the upside, we only recorded seven less hits than they did.  Three RBIs for Jonathan Van Every, so a huge night for him.  Two RBIs for Youkilis on a two-run shot in the first.  One RBI for Lowrie, one RBI for Gil Velazquez, and a completely unreal night for Jacoby Ellsbury.  Listen to this.  Jacoby Ellsbury, the fastest man in baseball, finished the night four for five with two runs, an RBI, and his fiftieth steal of the season.  He’s batting .280.  Now that is what I call a lead-off man.

Sean Casey made a fielding error.  There’s something you don’t see too often.

This loss forces us to accept the Wild Card.  We just handed the Rays the division on a silver platter.  The only upside I can think of to all of this is that we didn’t pull what New York tried to pull last year.  We didn’t kill ourselves for the division and tire ourselves out before the playoffs.  Maybe we did hand the Rays the division because we had our reasons.  It’s better to go into the playoffs well-rested and with the Wild Card than to go into the playoffs in first place and falling over from exhaustion.  In 2004, the Yankees hung on to the division by the skin of their teeth and look where that got them.  Same with the Rays.  So come to think of it it’s not that bad.  It’s bad, but it could be worse.  And even better, we’re guaranteed to face the Angels in the ALDS, and history says we rock that.  So yes, it’s definitely nerve-wracking, but I’m going to look forward to the Division Series and see what happens.  I believe we’ll clean up in the ALDS, and I believe we’ll go all the way.

In other news, Lowell’s injury is causing him problems and his status is uncertain.  Tests on Drew’s back have been showing improvements.

Tonight it’s Ponson at Dice-K.  That’s something else to look forward too.  Besides, we can celebrate.  Ladies and gentlemen, October is around the corner!

AP Photo

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Our regular season is far from over.  The Red Sox aren’t the Angels.  We can’t just shut it down because we clinched.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the division or the Wild Card.  Either way, momentum is key.  Momentum is most definitely key.  The regular season is almost over, and we need to build on what we’ve done, get our rotation and the bullpen up to snuff, and get our guys healthy.  Otherwise it’ll be that much harder to get it done.

But last night’s win wasn’t a bad start for the work we’ve got to do.  We won it, 5-4, courtesy of Mark Kotsay, who doubled in the eighth inning to score Jeff Bailey.  That was actually Kotsay’s second RBI of the night, and he finished the night two for four.  Ortiz, Tek, and Chris Carter each batted in one, giving Carter his first career Major League RBI.  I’m surprised a talented kid like that took this long to get it.  MVP Dustin Pedroia had a fantastic night, going two for four with a run and a stolen base, his twentieth theft this season.  That means he’s now 20 for 21 in steals this season.  That’s unheard-of.  The MVP votes just cast themselves.

Drew was back in it last night.  He batted fifth, went one for two with a run, and made a fielding error.  Hey, at least he’s playing again.  We’re going to need his bat very soon.

The relief did an excellent job.  Timlin, Aardsma, and Delcarmen combined for four shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk and striking out two.  It’s good to see Aardsma have a decent outing.  Probably the only key player last night who didn’t perform especially well was the starter, Paul Byrd.  In five innings he managed to give up four runs on eleven hits.  On the bright side, he only walked one batter, didn’t give up any home runs, and fanned four, but giving up four runs on eleven hits isn’t going to cut it.  This isn’t Dice-K we’re talking about, who’s often at his best with runners in scoring position.  This isn’t Beckett or Lester, who’re usually guaranteed to get out of a jam.  And this isn’t Wakefield, who’s unpredictable enough as it is.  We acquired Byrd to provide the rotation with a reliable veteran who could give us quality innings.  Last night he gave us the innings but the quality wasn’t really there.  I’m telling you, right now he’s making it very easy to deny him a spot in the rotation in October.  October is the no-holds-barred second season, and I don’t think four runs on eleven hits qualifies as no-holds-barred.

In other news, the Rays are one win away from clinching the division.  I never thought I’d see this day.  And what gets me is that one of the only reasons why they’re so good this year is because they figured out how to get good pitching for less money.  So mostly it’s the pitchers.  And all through the season it just felt like the rest of the league was staring in disbelief and couldn’t quite figure them out.  And for us, a team that prides itself on its ability to adjust to pitchers, it should have been easier than for most.  But October really is the second season, and if there’s a time of year when we shine it’s definitely October.  Let’s make it ours.

AP Photo, Jim Davis/Boston Globe Staff

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We’re losing ground here.  And losing ground means losing momentum, losing momentum means losing an advantage in the postseason, losing an advantage in the postseason means increased difficulty in achieving October glory.  Our record at the Trop this season is 1-8.  Even if we tie with the Rays for first place, they’ll win it by the season series.  Tim Wakefield, who’s historically owned the Trop and who was once 9-0 there, got the loss.  His ERA at the Trop is still under 3.00, but you’d never know it from the way he pitched last night.  And the pitching hurt us in more ways than one.

Wakefield pitched 2.1 innings, allowed six runs on six hits, three home runs, no walks, and two strikes.  Maybe we should have a second starter, or maybe a long reliever, specifically for days on which Wakefield and Byrd pitch.  This way, we have someone who can take care of the middle innings until late in the game, and we won’t have to use the bullpen.  So we’re guaranteed solid early and middle relief, and the bullpen is rested for the next game.

After Wakefield left, Hansack allowed two runs on one hit with a walk and a strikeout.  Exit Hansack, enter Lopez, who forgot how consistent and solid he is and pitched to three batters in the third inning without recording an out.  He left, and Aardsma came in and didn’t allow a run, which is a welcome sight because lately he hasn’t been what he used to be before he went on the DL.  He had all the makings of a fixture in our bullpen, and he could still pull it together, but watching him now it’s just not the same.  Delcarmen pitched two solid innings, and he’s someone who’s been pulling it together.  He’s much more consistent now, and he’s really fixed the problems he had in the first half of the season.  Okajima pitched a perfect inning.  But Pauley allowed two runs on three hits before Smith finished things off.  We used eight pitchers last night, and all but three were perfect.  But three was enough.  The Rays won, 10-3, and out-hit us, 12-6.

We made two errors.  Both were attributed to pitchers.  Hansack made a pickoff error (he tried to pick off Willy Aybar at second but the throw went past Pedroia, so Aybar advanced to third), and Lopez made a fielding error.  And in the fourth inning, three players were going after an infield pop-up.  Aardsma had the best chance of catching it, but instead it fell.  It’s very unusual to see all of these errors and mistakes by pitchers in a single game.  All in all, it as very ugly.  I felt like I was watching a blooper reel.

The offense was a one-man show.  Big Papi batted in all three of our runs with a two-run home run in the first and a solo home run in the fourth.  He finished the night two for two.  Ellsbury also went two for two.  Pedroia went one for four, Youkilis went one for three with a walk, Cash walked, and nobody else got on base.  Very ugly.

There were some great displays of leather though.  In the third Pedroia dove into shallow right field to snag a line drive.  In the fourth Youkilis made a spectacular sliding catch on a foul ball.  Unfortunately the ball hit a catwalk before it fell foul so it didn’t matter.  That’s something to keep in mind.  It looks like the Rays will make a postseason appearance.  But their stadium has a roof, and it’s got lots of these catwalks and all sorts of irregularities so that when balls bounce off them they do strange things.  No doubt it’ll be very controversial in October.

Here’s something I really didn’t like.  Coco Crisp was booed by the crowd last night because of that brawl in Fenway.  I mean, come on.  We showed a lot of maturity when the Rays visited us.  Even Jonathan Papelbon, for all his tough talk about unfinished business, handled himself well.  It was the first time that happened in this series, and if you ask me it was a little low.

In other news the Yankees won last night, but it was Brian Bruney who got the win and not Phil Hughes, the starter.  We can be happy about that, because when Phil Hughes first came up he was highly touted as this young upstart who’d make batters shake in their spikes.  But they rushed him through development and he came up and soon he started showing weaknesses.  Then there was that stint on the DL, and that was it.  He was never the same.  The Red Sox have revealed the schedule for next season, and it looks like our first game will be our home opener, and guess who we’re playing? The Rays.  So that’ll add some fuel to the fire, no doubt.

We’ve got the day off today, so it’ll give us a chance to recuperate from last night’s ridiculous displays.  But our schedule doesn’t get any easier, because going to Toronto on Friday.  So we’ve got our work cut out for us.  Still doable, but very difficult.

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