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Posts Tagged ‘Gold Glove’

Better.  Much, much better.  I would have preferred a more lopsided score in our favor, but a win is a win and this will do.  Our pitching staff held its own for the most part, but unlike Friday’s game, the offense brought it yesterday.  You can tell a lot from a game’s final score.  If it’s a one-sided slugfest, you thank the offense and the pitching.  If it’s a close slugfest, you thank the offense and not the pitching.  If it’s a pitcher’s duel, obviously you thank the pitcher and not the offense.  And if it’s a close game in general, you pretty much almost always thank the offense.  All of this barring special circumstances, of course.

Yesterday we won, 7-5.  Let’s start with the five.  Unfortunately Lester was responsible for all but one of them; it was the first time he’d allowed at least one run after three previous starts in Philly.  He gave up eight hits, walked three, and struck out one, and he pitched six innings.  He threw ninety pitches, fifty-nine of which were strikes.  If he’d gone maybe one more full inning, I would have said that he was pretty efficient.  He allowed his first run in the third via a single-double combination.  He allowed all the rest in the fourth; he hit his first batter in the inning on a 2-1 count and then induced a groundout but allowed a single followed by a home run after that on a 1-1 count.  The pitch was a sinker.  The tough thing about home runs is that they’re such an isolated phenomenon.  A pitcher doesn’t give up a home run because he’s having a bad night; a pitcher gives up a home run because he makes one single, isolated mistake that the particular hitter he’s pitching to just happens to pick up on at that one moment in time.  And even though the rest of Lester’s outing was mediocre and not his best work by any means, that’s what happened.  Incidentally, he also made a throwing error in the fourth.

Lester handed the ball to Padilla for the seventh and eighth, when the fifth run was scored.  Padilla recorded the first out in the eighth but also gave up two singles before Hill took the ball.  Hill induced a groundout for the second out and then gave the ball to Aceves.  And Aceves allowed a single that brought home the inherited runner.  Aceves pitched the ninth as well for the save.

Fortunately, as I said, thanks to the offense we were able to come out on top, and we did so with four less hits than the Phillies.  Aviles did not waste any time seeing to that.  He sent the fifth pitch of the game into the bleachers in left center field.  It got out of there in a hurry.  It was the first time he’d ever hit a home run to begin a game in his career.  We added two runs in the second; Salty singled, Sweeney doubled, Salty scored and Nava reached base on a missed catch, and Sweeney scored when Lester grounded into a double play.  (There’s nothing like an American League pitcher making an easy out to remind you that it’s Interleague.  Another way you know it’s Interleague is when your Gold Glove first baseman ends up playing right field to make room for your DH at first, although I must say that Gonzalez did a fine job; his sliding catch in the third was a tough play for any starting outfielder to make.  Speaking of stellar catches, how about Sweeney’s diving catch just feet in front of the scoreboard to end the seventh? Mighty stellar.  That catch prevented at least two runs from scoring and was absolutely integral to our victory.) We turned on more power in the fourth, when Middlebrooks and Salty smacked back-to-back jacks to lead it off, both balls ending up in right center field.  Both swings were right on the money.  Both balls left the park really fast.  Both shots were awesome.

Not to be outdone, Papi crushed a two-run shot in the fifth (Pedroia had singled to start the inning) on the first pitch of his at-bat, a sinker.  He sent that to straightaway center field.  It was a classic Papi swing: strong, powerful, precise, and fast.  He snapped the bat back, and the ball lofted out.

So this time we hit four home runs, and we did what you’re supposed to do when you hit four home runs: we won.  And now it feels like Interleague.

SB Nation Boston
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The small stuff first.  We signed Nick Punto to a two-year deal; it’s a solid signing.  He’s a scrappy player with a decent bat who’s great in the field.  He also seems to have a reputation for a good clubhouse character, which may be helpful at a time like this.  We signed Albers to a one-year deal, and we tendered Aceves, Bard, Morales, Aviles, Ellsbury, and Salty.  Rich Hill is now a free agent.  Jenks had back surgery.

Incidentally, the bid for Japanese pitching phenom Yu Darvish is rumored to be even greater than Dice-K’s bid.  He’s going to Texas.  Some say he’s better equipped to succeed here, but Dice-K has made me skeptical and bitter.

Bard is unofficially officially a starter.  I know that because we just traded Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to the Astros for Mark Melancon, a reliever who played for the Yanks in 2009 and 2010 but who closed for Houston last season.  Obviously, Lowrie is the one of those two with the higher profile.  He had phenomenal potential that was substantially hindered by injuries; there’s no escaping that fact.  The team had needs that Lowrie, as a result, was unable to fulfill; perhaps he will help the team best as trade bait.  But we won’t know that until Melancon has pitched well into the season for us.

Truth be told, I would argue that, although his stuff seems impressive enough, we don’t really know all that much about him in the context of the Major Leagues.  Last season was his third in the big show; he pitched 74.1 innings in seventy-one games, gave up five home runs, walked twenty-six batters, posted an ERA of 2.78, and struck out sixty-six.  His WHIP was 1.22.  Last year was the first season in which he posted a save at all, and he posted twenty of them.  And he’s twenty-six years old.  From all of this, we can learn that he’s young, he’s new, and he knows absolutely nothing about what it means to close regularly for a team like the Red Sox in a city like Boston in a league like the American League in a division like the AL East.  As I said, it seems like he’s got the raw goods, but at this stage, I do not feel comfortable with him being slotted as our regular closer right off the bat (pun not intended), hands-down, no questions asked.  Throw in the fact that he had major surgery on his right elbow early in his career, and there are definitely some doubts.

Then again, the surgery was a few years ago, and Paps at one time was also untested, and so is Bard as a closer.  They have absolutely electrifying fastballs; Melancon gets up to ninety-five miles per hour.  He also works with an effective cutter and curveball.  Brad Mills seems to think he can do it.  All I’m saying is that Melancon has some big shoes to fill in the biggest baseball town in the country.  Hold onto your hats, folks.  Hold onto your hats.

Bill James’s predictions for the coming season are in.  He has Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, and Papi all declining in batting average; Youk’s average is slated to markedly increase since he hopefully will be starting the year more healthily than the way he finished last year.  We can expect one additional home run from Papi this year; more importantly, James’s prediction shows that Papi’s power will perpetuate.  Gonzalez and Ellsbury are also slated to go yard more frequently.  Pedroia supposedly will be stealing about ten less bases, but the reason why he probably didn’t get a strong projection all around is because he was injured.  Provided that he isn’t injured, he’s going to rock it.  Look for Gonzalez to perform better than expected as well, since he’ll be entering his sophomore season with us and since he’s now sufficiently removed from his offseason shoulder surgery.

And lastly, literally, it looks like last season really was Tek’s last season with us.  Salty has found his footing, Ryan Lavarnway is coming up, and Kelly Shoppach is coming back.  Obviously it won’t technically be official until Tek signs with another team or retires, but it looks like the year of the goodbye will continue.

We acquired Tek from the Mariners in 1997 and probably didn’t even know at the time the extent of the impact he would make upon arriving.  His entire Major League career was played here.  His development as one of the best catchers in the game was completed here.  Honestly, I always thought he would retire here, and it’s a true shame that he isn’t.  True, his last several seasons saw a marked decline in both performance on the field and leadership influence off the field, but we’re looking at the whole picture here.

Since he’s spent his entire professional baseball life in Boston, we can speak in terms of career numbers.  He is a career .256 hitter with 193 home runs, 757 RBIs, 614 walks, and a .341 OBP.  But we never expected him to be a hitting catcher.  We expected him to be a catcher, period, and what a catcher he was.  He has played in 1,488 games and started 1,372 of them.  He has picked off 10,166 batters and caught 184 stealing.  His fielding percentage is .994; last year he made only four errors, and the year before that he made none.  His catcher’s ERA is 4.17.

And obviously some of his greatest contributions go well beyond even those stellar fielding numbers.  He was a true leader in every sense of the word both on and off the field, which is why he wore the “C” on his jersey, a rarity in baseball these days.  He knew the pitchers inside and out and could adapt on the fly in any situation, which is why he caught and called four no-hitters, a Major League record.  There is also something to be said for having such a veteran on the team, especially with a collaborative and positive personality like his, to ease transitions and be a moderating force in the clubhouse.  And, of course, no tribute to Tek would be complete without mentioning the contribution of the forever-to-be-remembered A-Rod fight on July 24, 2004.  It was a turning point in the season.  It was legendary and historic.  It was epic.

To his credit, he has a Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove, three All-Star selections, two World Series championships, and the respect and affinity of Red Sox Nation.  He was the quintessential team player, and I firmly believe that his character and quality as a player and teammate warrant consideration for employment within the Red Sox organization, hopefully as a coach.  We remember what you’ve accomplished here, and we won’t forget it.  You’ve seen us at our best and worst; it’s been a phenomenal ride.  We as Red Sox Nation salute you, Tek.  And you will most definitely be missed.

In other news, the B’s shut out the Kings, womped the Sens, and crushed the Flyers in a particularly impressive six-zip shutout.  We scored our first goal in the first minute of the game and four goals in the first period alone.  We’re nursing a four-game winning streak and are tied with the Flyers at the top of the conference.

I’ll be taking a break for the next two weeks.  I expect winning signings when I get back.  Good, solid deals that will address the team’s needs.  It doesn’t have to be flashy; we’ve seen the detrimental effects of fixing what isn’t broken and being flashy for flashy’s sake around the league, and we’re not going to do that.  Just some good, solid deals and we’ll be fine.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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That was rough.  Lester pitched beautifully.  Well, I should qualify that.  He pitched a full seven innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts.  It’s not that that’s a bad outing.  It’s a good outing.  For most pitchers, that would be a great outing.  It’s just that we’re used to seeing even better from Lester.  Like no runs on three hits with no walks and ten strikeouts over eight innings.  For him, that’s good, but it doesn’t seem customary because, last night, it wasn’t good enough.

He threw 109 pitches, sixty-seven for strikes.  He threw really great cut fastballs for strikes, and he worked them up to ninety-five miles per hour.  His other pitches weren’t working as well.  He varied his speed; he mixed in some changeups, curveballs, and sinkers, but they weren’t thrown for strikes as often.

He threw fifteen pitches in the first inning.  He threw his highest total, twenty-two, in the third inning.  He had absolutely nothing to worry about until the fifth inning, when he got into trouble that he failed to escape.  It started with a groundout.  But then he gave up three straight singles to the bottom third of the order.  One run scored on a fielder’s choice, and two more scored on another single by – you guessed it – Johnny Damon of all people.  The inning finally ended with a groundout.  It took him twenty pitches to give up those three runs.

And then he just went right back to cruising like nothing happened, which is really the best way to go about it.  You don’t want to have a bad inning and then have another bad inning just because you had a bad inning.  He pitched two more innings before he was lifted, and they were pretty routine.  Maybe a single here, a walk there, a steal attempt there, and that goes back to the fact that, with Lester, we’re just used to not seeing any of that, so if any of it is there at all, we think it’s a sign of a bad outing.  For him it might be, but comparatively speaking it wasn’t so bad.  He fired seven pitches, five of them strikes, during his final inning.

So the one bad inning, as we’ve seen all too often, again rears its ugly head.  But we’re still talking about only three runs.  The bullpen held it together; the Rays didn’t score after that.  Bard pitched a solid, scoreless eighth, and Jenks pitched a solid, scoreless ninth.  So it’s a tribute to Lester that we consider that a bad inning, but our offense should have been able to handle it.  So the real unfortunate part is not that Lester gave up three runs.  It’s that we couldn’t score at least four.

McDonald picked up his first homer of the season in the third, a solo shot to lead off the inning.  It was the second pitch of the at-bat.  He received an eighty mile-per-hour changeup first but swung and missed.  Then he got a seventy-five mile-per-hour curveball, David Price’s first of the game, and was all over it.  He sent that into the Monster seats, and that actually gave us a one-run, short-lived lead.  After doubling to lead off the sixth, Pedroia came around to score on a double by Lowrie, who posted the lineup’s only multi-hit game.  He went two for four with two doubles.

The bottom of the ninth was our last chance.  Ellsbury pinch-hit for Cameron but struck out swinging on three pitches.  Drew pinch-hit for Tek but struck out swinging on six pitches.  Papi pinch-hit for McDonald but flied out to right on two pitches.  You know, Papi has hit at least one triple every season since 2000; he’s the only American League batter to do so for twelve straight seasons.  He actually legs out quite a few of them.  It sounds funny, but he’s capable of hustling and he does when he needs to.  So when he flied out to right, I was hoping that it would be in there for a triple.  He has one already; why not make it two on the year? And that ball just sailed right into that glove.  Game over.

To clarify, Papi was pinch-hitting because originally he was penciled out of the lineup since Tito wanted to increase the number of righties in the order against the southpaw.  Lowrie played third base, and Youk, for the first time in his career, started a game as the designated hitter.  He singled.  He struck out.  He didn’t do much else.

Congratulations to Crawford, who received both a Gold Glove award and a Silver Slugger award before the game for his work last season.  And then he got picked off in the first? Price made this quick move of his to first and caught Crawford several steps off the bag just standing there.  And Ben Zobrist makes that catch in right field in the fifth? That ball came off Tek’s bat and he was headed for extra bases for sure had it not been for that catch.

We lost, 3-2, and that’s the second straight pitcher’s duel that Lester has lost by one run.  We left six on base and went one for seven with runners in scoring position.  At least we didn’t have that many runners in scoring position, so we didn’t strand a whole heap of runners.  And that’s what I call a dysfunctional statement.  We should never have to find ourselves in a position where we’re glad we didn’t have that many runners in scoring position just so that we wouldn’t have to deal with squandering those opportunities.  But that’s because we only totaled five hits.  On the bright side, four of those five were for extra bases.  At least we scored a couple of runs, so it’s not like last time when Lester lost, 1-0, because we couldn’t plate a single man.  But it’s still a loss we shouldn’t have had to take.  Three pinch-hitters in the ninth, and we couldn’t get it done.

Well, Lackey is pitching tomorrow in the last game of the series.  We just have to keep moving right along.  Eventually, things will just click.  Until then, hold onto your hats.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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The offseason started.  We waited.  The offseason progressed.  We waited.  Our free agents filed.  We waited some more.  The GM meetings ended, and still we waited.  The Winter Meetings started, and we waited.  Things looked bleak.  Were we destined for waiting through the entire offseason? Would we open 2010 without a single big addition? Was Theo Epstein all talk but no game?

Not a chance.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the newest member of the Boston Red Sox: John Lackey! Five years and eighty-five million dollars later, we signed the dude who helped usher us out of the playoffs.  But that’s okay with me.  I’d much rather be on the throwing end of the first-pitch-strike machine than on the receiving end.

This is good.  This is very good.  Think about it: a Lester-Beckett-Lackey starting rotation.  That rotation, my friends, will win championships for sure.  Seriously.  Put those three names in a sentence and you’re talking about what is perhaps the most formidable starting rotation in all of Major League Baseball.

Let’s talk about the contract, because we need to get this out of the way.  Eighty-five dollars is a lot of money to spend on a pitcher, but it’s not something we haven’t done before.  We spent at least that amount on Dice-K, between the “right-to-talk” fee and his salary.  The difference is that there’s no negotiating fee here; it’s all going in Lackey’s pocket.  He’ll earn seventeen million per season.  Make no mistake: that’s a lot.  And I know what you’re thinking: now we’ll have to deal with the pulling of the payroll card.  And you’d be right.  But here’s the kicker: technically that card can’t be pulled.  Looking at 2009, the Yankees obviously had the highest payroll.  We weren’t even second or third.  We were fourth, behind the Mets and Cubbies.  And if you look at the disparity between our payroll and the Yanks’, it’s quite considerable.  And even after we start sending Lackey’s paychecks, that’ll still hold.  But wait; there’s more.  Look at the top twenty-five player salaries for last season.  You’ve got A-Rod at the top making thirty-three million (which is ridiculous, by the way), followed by Manny Ramirez, followed by Derek Jeter, followed by Mark Teixeira.  The Yankees are represented six times on that list; the other teams are the Dodgers, Mets, Astros, Tigers, Cubs, Angels, Giants, Braves, Rockies, Mariners, and Phillies.  You will notice that Boston does not appear once on that list.  Not once.  John Lackey will change that, but he won’t even make the top ten.  He’d be somewhere around thirteenth, maybe fourteenth.  Which puts us in league with teams like the Giants, Mariners, Rockies, and Phillies.  Not necessarily the names that first come to mind when you think of big spenders.  All this is to say that just because we’re going to have someone on that list doesn’t mean we’re like the Yankees, even though there will be plenty of people out there who would like to make that claim.  (By the way, just in case someone also tries to convince you that this is exactly like New York signing AJ Burnett for five years and roughly eighty-two million, I would urge you to remember that AJ Burnett was not, is not, and never will be John Lackey.  There is a huge difference, one that will be made painfully obvious to New York in due time.) It just means our general manager is a genius, because not only is this pitcher actually good, but we get him without shipping all our top prospects off to Anaheim.  Thanks, Theo! In you we trust.

This directly affects our ability to sign Jason Bay.  It means we don’t have the ability to sign Jason Bay.  Once it became obvious that he was looking for an offer we just couldn’t provide, we diverted our attention, and finances, elsewhere.  Basically, we took the money we would’ve used to re-sign Bay and used it to land Lackey.  Who will play left field? Mike Cameron, who signed a two-year deal worth about fifteen million, which would probably have amounted to less than one year’s worth of Bay’s salary.  So Cameron and Lackey were basically a package deal.  We spent so much money on Lackey, we didn’t even have enough left over to sign Holliday, so we had to make do.  And I personally would rather have Lackey and Cameron than Bay for five years.  There are two ways to win: pitching and offense.  Right now the Sox have both.  Without Bay, our offense will take a hit, but Lackey will make up for that in pitching.

Besides, Cameron has his advantages.  He’s ridiculously consistent; no matter what team he’s on or league he’s in, he’ll give you around twenty homers, eighty RBIs, a .250-ish average, and an OPS in the neighborhood of .800.  And he’s patient; he saw 3.96 pitches per plate appearance last year, almost identical to Bay’s 3.99.  He may not steal as often as he used to, but he’s still better than Bay on the basepaths.  And let’s not forget one of his most significant assets: his defense.  Cameron is a phenomenal outfielder.  While it is true that he’s played out his career in center (three Gold Gloves in that position), ability is ability, and if we move him to left, I think he’ll adapt nicely.  Either way, we need the defense.  Let’s face it: we weren’t exactly excelling in that area last year, and I don’t think I need to remind anyone the significance of good defense in our win in 2004.  I’m just saying.  Defense, at this point, seems to be the name of our offensive game.

Incidentally, Roy Halladay is also off the market, gone to Philly just like he probably would have had JP Ricciardi been able to hammer out a deal at the trade deadline.  Cliff Lee goes to Seattle to complete the deal.  Also, the Lowell trade is currently stalling due to Lowell’s thumb injury.  Really? The thumb injury? The hip isn’t the issue; it’s the thumb that’s holding up the deal? It’s not even an injury; it’s a sprain! And he started all three games of the ALDS with it! Along this vein, talks with Adrian Gonzalez yielded nothing; the Padres don’t want to deal him before the season starts.  Rest assured, however, that if they decide to shop him, calls will be made.  Meanwhile, it turns out that Beltre wouldn’t be such a bad alternative.  His defense is solid as a rock, not to mention the fact that his production on the road is through the roof compared to Lowell’s.  And finally, the 2010 season starts with and in Boston.  The first game of the season will take place on April 4 at Fenway; we’ll play the Yanks.  This is going to be epic, even if the schedule won’t be.  We have a game on Sunday night, then two days off, then the rest of that series with New York in Boston and then it’s off to Kansas City (who has the All-Star Game in 2012 which, try as I might, I just can’t seem to forget).  To make matters worse, it’ll be broadcast on ESPN2.  I would be so much more annoyed if I weren’t so psyched that we’re inching closer and closer to next season.  You know baseball’s around the corner when you started talking about opening schedules.

The Bruins lost to the Flyers yesterday.  Great.  We’re now four points behind the Sabres.  On the upside, the Pats bested the Panthers with a cool 20-10 score.  On a different note, I’ll be taking a break for about two weeks.  Aside from the Flyers game, life is good in Boston sports.  Life is most definitely good.

Sox Tea Party

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Finally, it starts to get interesting.

Pitching is Theo’s top priority at the Winter Meetings.  It looks like we’re shifting our focus from Roy Halladay to John Lackey.  That’s very good news.  I don’t want to give up both Clay Buchholz and Casey Kelly for a pitcher who is, in all likelihood, past his prime.  Yes, it’s possible he could be another Randy Johnson, who won four straight Cy Youngs after turning thirty-five, or Curt Schilling, who was a Cy Young runner-up three times after turning thirty-three.  But it’s also possible that he just won’t deliver or that he’ll become a medical liability or, worse yet, the dreaded combination of both.  (See Randy Johnson in pinstripes.  Talk about disasters.) And if you compare the two, Roy Halladay doesn’t even enjoy a complete edge in the numbers.  In his career, he started and won more games, struck out more batters, and had a lower ERA, OPP AVG, and WHIP.  But Lackey’s gone the distance more often (which translates to durability, one of Lackey’s strongest assets) and has allowed fewer earned runs, home runs, bases on balls, and hit batters.  And we land Lackey this offseason, it would be through a signing, not a trade, so we wouldn’t have to mortgage our future.  Besides, we theoretically have some money left over from our decision to not pick up Alex Gonzalez’s option.

Supposedly, we’re also seriously pursuing Rich Harden.  I like that less.  He’s got a 3.39 career ERA with 783 strikeouts and a record of fifty and twenty-nine, but he’s never thrown two hundred innings in a season and has only made more than twenty-six starts once.  Durability? Not so much.  But he’d be a good bargain option, arguably a better one than Smoltz or Penny, because he’s pitched in the American League.

Speaking of pitching, the Braves cleaned out two of our peripheral relievers.  Wagner signed a one-year deal worth seven million dollars to close for them.  I would’ve liked to see him come back to Boston, but he did give us fair warning that he wanted to close, and we don’t exactly have a vacancy in that position.  One day later, the Braves signed Saito also, to a one year deal worth just over three million plus incentives.  I’m not too torn up about it.

Say hello to the latest shortstop to don a Boston uniform: Marco Scutaro.  If I sound cynical, it’s because I am.  He’s wearing Number 16; the last Boston shortstop to wear Number 16 was Edgar Renteria, so here’s hoping this time around will work out a little bit better.  Let’s not kid ourselves: he’s a veteran.  He’s a career .265 hitter with fifty home runs, 294 RBIs, and 297 walks to his credit.  But he’s thirty-four years old.  There’s a reason why the deal was only for two years.  It’s worth eleven million dollars plus a dual option.  Things that made this possible: the draft pick we’re getting from the Braves that will offset the one we have to give to the Jays, another undisclosed team pushing hard for Scutaro that forced the issue, and Scurato has reached that point in his career when he really wants a ring.  (Ironically, Alex Gonzalez signed a one-year deal with the Jays earlier, worth close to three million plus an option.) Either way, we now have a shortstop who is not Dustin Pedroia.

That needs to be cleared up once and for all.  Dustin Pedroia said he would be willing to play shortstop if the team needed him to.  But the team wasn’t about to let that happen.  Trust me.  You don’t move a Gold Glove second baseman to short because you don’t want to spend some money.  You don’t do that for a number of reasons.  Not the least of which is the fact that it doesn’t solve anything.  Fine; you move your second baseman to short.  Now you need a second baseman.  Sure, the market for second basemen is more fluid than that for shortstops, but not when you’re talking about second basemen as good as Dustin Pedroia.  Also, the caliber of Pedroia’s defense at short would be comparable to, if not worse than, any career shortstop on the market, with the obvious exception of Julio Lugo.  Thirdly, shortstop is no defensive walk in the park.  It’s the most difficult infield position.  And that means it carries a higher probability of injury, especially for someone who’s not used to it.  So we would have lost valuable playing time from him, both in the field and at the plate, had he made the switch.  Would he have been capable of doing so? Absolutely.  If anyone could, Dustin Pedroia could.  If there’s one ballplayer who embodies the don’t-tell-me-I-can’t-‘cause-I’ll-show-you-I-can attitude, it’s him.  Not to mention the fact that in 2003 he was the NCAA National Defensive Player of the Year at short.  And he’s actually in a better position to play shortstop at the Major League level now than he was when he first came up, due to his offseason workouts and in-season conditioning that have made him lighter and faster.  But even though he’d use his baseball acumen to compensate, his range would leave much to be desired.  And sometimes, in pressure situations in that part of the field, the range of the shortstop is what it comes down to.  It would have put considerable pressure on Mike Lowell to improve his range as compensation, that’s for sure.  So while I’m not doubting Pedroia’s ability to make the switch, I don’t think it would be a good for him or the team in the long run.  The team wasn’t actually serious about that possibility anyway.  Ultimately, Theo never would have allowed it.  Thankfully, it’s a moot point now either way.

But that would explain our earlier interest in Placido Polanco.  After the Tigers declined to offer him arbitration, we made a call or two.  But like I said, we don’t need a second baseman, and even if we did, he was all but off-limits.  The Phillies have since closed the deal.  So much for Chone Figgins, who ended up signing a four-year deal with Seattle.

Last but not least, we extended arbitration to Bay earlier this week.  (We declined offers to Baldelli and Byrd.) That means that, even if he signs with someone else, we get compensatory draft picks.  So the saga continues.

Congratulations to Joe Castiglione, Dave O’Brien, and Jerry Remy for landing on the ballot for the Hall of Fame’s Frick Award, honoring the baseball’s best announcers.  They definitely deserve it.

We beat the Lightning and the Leafs.  Not so much the Habs.  We lost, 1-5, to Montreal.  Ugh.  That was just an awful game to watch.  Even with that loss, though, we’re in first place in the Northeast! Finally! One point ahead of the Sabres, but I’ll take it.  But the most significant B’s news this week has nothing to do with wins and losses.  Marc Savard signed a seven-year extension.  Ladies and gentlemen, that could very well be the highlight of the regular season.  It’s going to have a hugely positive impact it’s going to have on our future.  There is arguably no other center in the league who is as multi-faceted and deeply talented as Marc Savard.  Things aren’t as cheerful on the football front.  Talk about awful games to watch.  The Saints defeated us, 38-17.  Yeah.  Awful.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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