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Posts Tagged ‘Detroit Red Wings’

One more week of Spring Training and then it’s go time.  It’s going to be a good season for us.  I can feel it.  And this year our home opener is also our Opening Day.  Against the Rays.  It’s going to be epic.  I’m psyched.  Seriously.  We don’t have starters yet, but I venture to guess Josh Beckett will get the call.  We’ll see.  Anyway, a lot’s happened this past week.  First of all, on Monday Curt Schilling announced his retirement.  I read that and the first thing I experienced was relief.  I think he knew it was time for him to hang up his spikes, and I’m glad he retired with dignity.  The second thing I experienced was gratitude.  We owe him a lot.  He was one of the most dominant pitchers of our time, especially in the postseason, and we know that first-hand.  We continue to celebrate his achievements in October, and we’ll be forever thankful for what he did with our team in 2004 and 2007.  I don’t think we could’ve done it without him.  So here’s to you, Curt, for all your hard work and bloody socks and playoff gems.  Thanks from a city that’ll never forget, and we look forward to seeing you in the Hall of Fame!

Our pitching this season is looking pretty good.  Theo did a masterful job during the offseason.  In fact, it’s possible that our pitching staff is too deep.  We have five starting spots and the usual handful in the bullpen, so we might not have a regular place for everybody.  But that’s fine too; if someone gets hurt, we’ve got a man waiting in the wings.  Brad Penny made his Grapefruit League debut on Monday against the Tigers.  He pitched three innings; no hits, no runs, one walk, three K’s.  On Wednesday, Clay Buchholz pitched six innings against the Reds; one unearned run, only three hits, three K’s.  He even retired twelve batters in a row at one point.  I’m telling you, with every outing this spring he’s looking more and more like he did in ’07.  And let’s not forget that Masterson is still very much in the mix.  Last year he was primarily a reliever but, like I always say, that’s a waste because he’s starter material.  This season his fate seems to be closely tied to that of Penny.  If Penny isn’t ready to start, it’ll probably be Masterson who fills in.  So we know that we have one of the deepest staffs in the league.  We also know that we need another man in the rotation.  We’ll first need a fifth starter for the Angels game on April 12, and we have three pitchers who could conceivably fill that role well.  This should be interesting.

Dice-K returned to camp on Wednesday after having been named the Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic again.  So definitely congratulations to him.  And after his return, he got right back to throwing and didn’t miss a beat, which is a good sign.  What I’d like to see is him retaining his composure with runners in scoring position while improving his efficiency by cutting down on balls and walks.  As for the World Baseball Classic, it’s finally over.  The USA lost to Japan, 9-4, on Sunday, courtesy of Derek Jeter, whose fielding error cost us three runs.  Figures.  Anyway, Japan went on to win the finals.  And by the way, Jeter finished the night one for five.

Perhaps most uplifting, we’re getting healthy.  Dustin Pedroia played his second game since his left abdominal strain on Sunday and went two for three with a double.  Mikey Lowell hit his second home run of Spring Training in the first inning of that game, a powerful two-run shot.  Big Papi hit a double and scored a run on Lowell’s homer.  Even Chris Carter got in on the action, belting one out in the eighth.  Then on Monday, Youk played four innings in the field and had two at-bats, walking once.  Lowell was also in the lineup, marking his first set of consecutive games since his hip surgery.  In fact, he, Jason Bay, Chris Carter, and Ivan Ochoa homered consecutively.  It was beautiful.  Brought back memories of April 22, 2007, when we tied the Yankees at four the same way.  Of course, we went on to win that game, 7-6.  Dice-K started and got the win, and it was the third and final game of that series.  Our first sweep of the Yanks since the 1990s.  That was a great game.  Anyway, point being that Pedroia, Youk, Lowell, and Papi all looked smooth and comfortable, which is a great sign.  We just need JD Drew to find his rhythm and we’re in business.

The only downside to this health trend is that it includes Julio Lugo.  It’s been a little more than ten days since his knee surgery, so he’ll be returning to the lineup soon.  Not that I want him to stay injured.  I just want to see Lowrie start.  Or I want to see Lugo’s offense and defense undergo a drastic overhaul.  I don’t think we can afford to carry Lugo in the lineup, at least not for his speed, because we have Ellsbury.

Lastly, it seems that Mark Teixeira would like to be the “bad guy” in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.  That’s fine with me.  In fact, I say bring it.  The Yankees’ bad guys haven’t been doing a very good job.  Jeter hasn’t been making much of a dent in the scoreboard lately, A-Rod hasn’t been hitting in the clutch, and Johnny Damon’s average is dropping steadily.  Besides, we have more pitching than we know what to do with, and our lineup is coming together.  So I doubt that, in the long run, Mark Teixeira will prove to be much of a threat.  Besides, we have an offense of our own.  The Yankees may try to throw us a bad guy, but we come to the Yankees with a lineup full of bad guys.

So we’ve got a week left until the season starts.  I love this time of year.  The speculations, the predictions, the optimism, the clean slate, the opening of Fenway, the team’s return.  Eight more days until Opening Day, my friends.  Eight more days.  As always, it’s been a long winter, but the season is just around the corner.  And we’re ready.

In other news, the Bruins played two games this past week and won both.  We beat the Devils, 4-1, on Sunday and the Leafs, 7-5, yesterday.  So we enjoyed a nice break between those, and we’ll need the rest heading into the playoffs.  We have 104 points, third behind the Sharks’ 109 and the Red Wings’ 107.  We clinched our division.  We have eight games left in the season.  All we have to do is play steadily, conserve our energy, and go into the playoffs with some momentum.  This could be it.  I’ve said it all along, but seriously, this could be it.  This could be the year we win.

Deadspin

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It never stops.  It’s remarkable.  Just when you think we’re going to barely escape the World Baseball Classic without another injury, Youk drops out with a left ankle sprain and Achilles’ tendinitis in his left foot.  Yes, both of those were diagnosed as mild, but still.  The man was in a boot.  He took batting practice without the boot yesterday and looked fine, and he should have the boot off for good today, but that’s not the point.  It’s unbelievable.  It’s absolutely infuriating.  We send our guys to play for their countries and they come back to us with injuries right before the season starts.  The World Baseball Classic occurs during Spring Training.  Not before.  Not after.  During.  Not only do participants miss Spring Training, but if they’re injured they’re laid out through the beginning of the season, and that’s a pretty crucial time, especially for a team that started its pennant race yesterday.  The only one of us left in the Classic is Dice-K, and he’ll be done tonight after the semifinal Japan-USA game.  (Incidentally, it should be an epic contest, especially because after all the injuries we don’t have anyone left.  Even David Wright is playing through pain at this point.) Dice-K will have missed almost all of Spring Training, having spent his time up to now with Team Japan.  On the upside, he’ll enter tonight’s start with a 2-0 record and a 1.80 ERA in the Classic; he allowed only nine hits and two walks while striking out nine.  So at least we know he’s ready.  But still.  World Baseball Classic? Not a fan.  Definitely not a fan.

And speaking of injuries, as unfortunately we’re doing quite often these days, JD Drew was hit by a pitch on his right hand.  Luckily the X-rays came back negative and it’s only a contusion and he’s not expected to miss playing time, but he dodged a major bullet there.  Breaking a bone in a hand can lay a batter out.  Proof: Big Papi last year, and Drew was the one who picked up the slack.  While we’re on the subject, I’d just like to say that Drew should bat clean-up.  His numbers were insane from the No. 4 spot last year.  Anyway, Tito says Drew is day-to-day and should have no lasting effects of the injury.

Pedroia returned to the field and the lineup against the Pirates on Friday; he played second for three innings and went one for two.  Nice.  Also nice was that Tek launched a three-run homer into the street behind right field in that game.  He ended up with four RBIs.  But the most impressive aspect of our win over the Pirates was Clay Buchholz’s five-inning outing, during which he threw seventy pitches, gave up only four hits and one walk, and struck out three.  The run incurred during those five innings was unearned.  I’m telling you, if he can keep this up, he’ll start for sure.  Seems like last season was just a blip on the radar.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

Some more good news: during our game against the Twins (which we won also), Jason Bay jacked a moon shot over the 410-foot center field wall.  Cleared it completely.  The ball is estimated to have traveled 450 feet.  Wow.  That, my friends, is power.

We sent down six and waived one.  First baseman Lars Anderson and outfielders Josh Reddick and Zach Daeges were assigned, pitchers Hunter Jones and Felix Doubront and catcher Mark Wagner were optioned, and Josh Bard was placed on unconditional release waivers to make room for George Kottaras.  I’m telling you, the dude just can’t seem to stick.

In other news, the Bruins only played two games this past week, and we lost them both: 4-6 to the Penguins and an overtime loss to the Kings.  Yes, the Kings.  I’d rather not talk about it.  On the upside, we’ve finally reached 100 points, we’re still on top of the Eastern Conference by a wide margin, and we’ve clinched a playoff spot! On the downside, we’re now third in the league, behind the surging Red Wings and the ever-present Sharks.  And the only silver lining to that is that, in recent years, the top team in the league hasn’t necessarily done well in the playoffs.  Whatever.  We’ll be fine.  The Stanley Cup is coming to Boston; we’ll be fine.

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Not gonna lie.  I was never a fan of the World Baseball Classic.  When I said I wasn’t concerned about it, I meant that I wasn’t worried about it interfering with players’ ability to get playing time.  I did not mean that I wasn’t worried that players would come back with a host of injuries.  And guess what.  That’s exactly what’s happening now.  Quite frankly, it’s one of our worst nightmares come true, because we’re not just talking injured prospects here.  We’re talking Dustin Pedroia, who strained his left abdominal.  That’s bad.  That’s really bad.  We need him in there.  I’m telling you, if he misses playing time in the beginning of the season, or if his rhythm throughout the season is completely thrown off like Beckett last year, it won’t be the end of the world but it’ll be one epically uphill battle.  The World Baseball Classic is fun and all, but once injuries come into the picture, I could do without it.  Bud Selig had good intentions, I’m sure, but baseball is baseball.  If a guy is going to get injured, let him get injured during the regular season after he’s at least got a game or two under his belt.

Very unfortunately for us, the injury list doesn’t stop there.  Jacoby Ellsbury tweaked his hamstring last weekend, and Jonathan Van Every sprained his right ankle on Thursday.  But these are pretty minor; Tito isn’t concerned about Ellsbury at all, so that’s good.  There is only one positive in all of this, and I hate to say it, but it’s that Lugo will have surgery on his right knee on Tuesday.  No timetable for his return, and that surgery usually requires weeks of rehab.  And we all know what that means: Jed Lowrie at short! Definitely something to smile about.  And by this time, we all know why.  Who knows? Maybe if he handles the job well, he’ll start permanently, and we’ll be able to find another home for Lugo while bringing up one of our other prospects to serve as Lowrie’s back up.  Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

Brad Penny’s throwing again, and Mikey Lowell is making an excellent recovery.  In his debut against the Orioles, he went one for three with a nice single, and he started at third for the first time since the playoffs on Friday against the Yankees, homering, singling, and executing his first defensive play more or less without incident.  I’d also like to mention that we clobbered the Yankees, 8-4.  Yeah, I know, Spring Training games don’t matter, but if we beat the Yankees in any context, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation that we are most definitely going to be happy about it.  We’re also going to be happy when we beat Tampa Bay, which we did, burying them, 8-2, last weekend.  Masterson pitched three fantastic innings, allowing one hit, striking out three, and throwing 43 pitches, 27 of which were strikes.  We’ll probably end up using him in relief this year, which I personally think is a total waste, but that’s where we’ll need him most.  But if we need another starter, it’s great to know he’s ready for that role as well.

As far as roster moves go, we reassigned knuckleballer Charlie Zink, catcher Carlos Maldanado, and pitchers Kris Johnson and Dustin Richardson, and we optioned shortstop Argenis Diaz.  Nothing too groundbreaking.  Zink and the others had good camps, but at the end of the day we just didn’t have the space.  And Zink I think could use more time in development.

Probably the best piece of news all weeks is that we locked up Jon Lester for five more seasons.  He signed a five-year contract extension worth $30 million, with a $13 million option for 2014.  And get this: he’s only 25 years old.  This is the third long extension granted by the Red Sox to homegrown talent in the past three months (Pedroia was first, followed by Youk).  Good job, Theo, in keeping our boys home.

Last but certainly not least, Paps had some words for Manny Ramirez.  He described Manny as a “cancer” in the clubhouse.  I mean, I get what he was trying to say, and I agree, and I think that describing it as a cancer was a good analogy, but we know Paps, and we know that he doesn’t always say things as tactfully or as gently as possible.  So while I think the cancer analogy was a good way to explain the fact that Manny was infecting the clubhouse like a virus and it just kept spreading and spreading until it finally had to be eliminated altogether, I also think that if Paps explained the analogy a little more, he would’ve seemed less brash.  Those are my two cents, anyway.

In other news, the Bruins didn’t fare much better this week, collecting two losses and two wins to bring their point total to 99, still good for first in the Eastern Conference but tied for best overall with the Red Wings, who have overtaken the Sharks’ 98 points.  So the plot thickens, as they say.  Looks like we’ll have to do battle with Detroit as well.  Again, I’m not worried.  There are only twelve games left in the regular season, which ends for us on April 12.  We’re comfortably in first place in our division, we’re comfortably in first place in our Conference, we’re tied for first place in the League, and we are absolutely going to the playoffs.  All we have to do is maintain our momentum and finish the season in style.

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Spring Training is boring.  There, I said it.  I mean look, half the team is playing in the World Baseball Classic, there are no more transactions to be made, and the Spring Training games are, you know, Spring Training games: the starters come in, do their thing for an inning or two, and then leave to make way for the prospects.  So as long as we see that everyone on the team is getting some playing time, and everyone’s healthy, and the prospects are developing nicely, there’s really not much else going on this time of year.  Except getting stoked for the season of course, but that’s still a few weeks away.  After a long winter, the wait is agonizing.

Some injuries, as usual.  Brad Penny had to halt his last bullpen session but Masterson’s got it covered.  Drew flew back to Boston to get an injection around his spine to relieve some back discomfort.  That’s a little more concerning, but nothing we can’t handle.  When we signed him we knew he was going to spend his fair share of time on the DL, so we’re equipped to take that into account and handle it.  And after his stint he’ll be fine.  We know that because in the days leading up to the injection he lit up batting practice.  So is it possible that there’s something wrong with him? Absolutely.  Will it really affect us that badly? Absolutely not.  Mikey Lowell’s recovery is progressing very nicely; he’s scheduled to DH on Tuesday against the Orioles.  It’ll be his first game since Game 3 of the ALDS.  Speaking of Mikey Lowell, some notes on the future: I see Youk moving to third to make room for Lars Anderson at first.  (Lars Anderson, by the way, is slated to be the first home-grown power hitter we’ve had in a while.)

The A’s will be finalizing a one-year deal with Nomar soon, which will come right after the team signed Orlando Cabrera.  I’m telling you, Nomar and O-Cabs can’t seem to get away from each other when it comes to trades.  And guess who finally found employment? Manny Ramirez.  The Dodgers signed him to a two-year, $45 million contract with a no-trade clause and the right of Ramirez to void the contract after the first year if he thinks he can make more with another team.  Finally.  After four months of Scott Boras not understanding that he has absolutely no leverage in trying to unload this man, the man finally finds a deal with the Dodgers after apparently “suffering” in Boston.  You know what? Manny Ramirez and Los Angeles deserve each other.  And that, my friends, is the end of it.

More on the A-Rod front.  Why am I not surprised.  He wishes Jose Reyes were leading off for the Yankees.  Apparently he forgot that the Yankees already have a shortstop and that this shortstop is supposedly his best friend.  Classic A-Rod.  Oh yeah, and he’s having hip surgery tomorrow and should miss six to nine weeks of the season with more serious surgery to follow after the season is over.  In the interest of being a good sport, I’ll say it’s always unfortunate when a ballplayer gets injured.  Other than that, no comment.

Finally, some words of praise from the A’s and also said Skankees.  We’ve all read Moneyball by Michael Lewis, and if you haven’t I strongly and highly recommend it; it’s really an outstanding book.  Anyway, here’s what A’s GM Billy Beane has to say about our front office:

One of the reasons the Red Sox have gained on the Yankees is because the foundation of their organization is run like a very successful small market, yet they have the ability to retain their premium players in their prime.  When a club does that, it knocks the wind out of not just their rivals, but also small-market competitors.

See? It’s not just Red Sox Nation; everyone else around baseball is also aware of the fact that Theo Epstein is a genius.  Even Brian Cashman:

The Red Sox are incredibly bright.  They have the best of both worlds…When you look at Boston, there’s no reason to think they won’t continue to win.  The fact of the matter is you arguably have the brightest front office with lots of resources and an ownership group that supports it.

Welcome to my world.

In other news, the Bruins traded Petteri Nokelainen to the Ducks for Steve Montador.  Two losses and a win since last weekend, one of those losses unfortunately coming at the hands of the Flyers.  Great.  Just great.  The playoffs are right around the corner, and now is not the time to fall apart.  On the upside we’re on top of the League again, one point ahead of the Sharks, who are now tied for first in the Western Conference with the Red Wings.  I’m not worried.  We’ll get it done in the end.

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Every year they do this.  Every offseason it’s always Yankees, Yankees, Yankees.  It never stops.  It’s one show of disgrace after another, whether it’s exorbitant spending or a breaking steroid scandal.  And both of those are becoming more and more common.  (You would think that the current state of the economy would be enough to slow the spending of even New York.  Apparently they never got the memo.) On Wednesday John Henry called for a salary cap.  Hank Steinbrenner wasn’t very happy about it.  Shocker.  Why should he be happy about it when his primary method of winning is threatened? Let’s face it; we all know the Yankees buy their championships.  Yankee fans can say all they want about their twenty-six World Series wins, but it was just the money swinging the bats.  The way I see it, if you want to watch real baseball in a World Series, you come to Boston.  You watch with us.  End of story.

And I really get annoyed when I try to address this issue and there’s always that person who says that, sure, the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, but the Red Sox have the second-highest.  I have some news for you, buddy.  Last year the Yankees’ payroll was a whopping $222.5 million.  Our payroll was $147.1 million.  There is a significant and huge difference between $222.5 million and $147.1 million.  So don’t tell me we shouldn’t be talking because we have the second-highest payroll in baseball.  That means nothing when you look at the disparity between these figures.

And as for New York’s continuing connection to steroids, it goes on.  A-Rod’s teammates joined him in the “Tent of Shame” at Spring Training to show support for the scripted, orchestrated, and insincere apology he offered to the public.  Needless to say, I didn’t buy it.  But the whole thing kind of makes you think about who’ll be next.  Jose Canseco, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, and now A-Rod.  That’s pretty disgraceful for a franchise that’s trying but failing miserably to pride itself on being five-star.  So they’re winning with money as well as steroids.  Think about that for a second.  The Yankees are buying their championships, and if they’re not buying them, they’re juicing them.  What a team New York has here.

Whatever.  New York is not my problem.  They’re not winning anything any time soon anyway.  On to more important things, like our shortstop situation.  I can’t say I’m surprised that Theo didn’t try to move Lugo this offseason; with all the health issues we’ve had, it pays to have insurance.  But one thing’s for sure.  Lowrie stepped up to the plate last year and proved he could handle being a starter.  I think he’s earned this position.  I think he should start for us this year.  Lugo’s already said that he doesn’t want to be on the bench, and that’s completely understandable.  I mean he is a starter by trade, and he should be a starter, but I don’t think he should be a starter for us.  Too many of his errors turn into too many runs for the opposition.  And I don’t even want to talk about his offense, or lack thereof.  Lowrie, on the other hand, can do it all, even in pain.  (He played through a pretty ugly wrist injury last season.) So I want to see Lowrie in there at short.  And if we have to trade Lugo, we trade him.  Done deal.  With our health concerns, we’ll need all the offense we can get.

Speaking of offense, we’re pretty set if you think about it.  After Big Papi called for a second slugger, many of us got pretty anxious about that part of our game.  I was pretty concerned myself.  And I think a lot of that angst and concern had to do with the fact that, in the backs of our minds, we missed Manny Ramirez’s bat.  But check this out.  Last year, we had a .560 winning percentage with Ramirez and .642 without.  We scored 4.9 runs per game with Ramirez and 5.7 without.  We have Youk and Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah, and given the right spot in the order, Jacoby Ellsbury will no doubt be back to form.  Add to that Big Papi, Jay Bay, JD Drew, and Mikey Lowell, and we’re stacked.  We got all of the injuries out of our system last season, and reports from Spring Training say the guys are having productive workouts.  We should be ready to go.  And if you ask me, I think Drew should bat third and Papi fourth; after Papi injured his wrist last season and Drew took his place, his average skyrocketed like nobody’s business.  So he can handle the three spot, especially with a slugger behind him.

In other news, the Bruins are still struggling.  We snapped our losing streak with a 5-1 burial of the Hurricanes but were shut out yesterday by the Panthers.  We were the first in the league to win forty games, but we’re now back to one point behind the Sharks.  I know some who’d be happy about that; they say the Presidents’ Trophy means death in the playoffs.  But look at last year’s Red Wings.  There’s no reason to believe that we couldn’t win it all as well.  We can.  We’re that good.

SoxBlog.MLBlogs.com

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