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Posts Tagged ‘Hanley Ramirez’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The title of this post is both very cheesy and completely unoriginal, but it’s accurate and it gets my point across, so I’m going with it.

As usual, I’ll start with the Home Run Derby, and unlike the derbies of previous years, this one actually wasn’t a drag.  All I have to say is, “Who’s your papi?” That’s right, ladies and gentlemen.  Your newest Home Run Derby champion is none other than David Ortiz himself! I can’t say I was surprised.  Big Papi is one of the best, and lefties own that ballpark in the evenings.  Eight homers in the first round batting sixth and thirteen in the second leading off said he was tied with Hanley Ramirez, ironically enough, but he left that tie in the dust when he clubbed eleven homers in the final round from the leadoff spot.  Ramirez couldn’t even come close.  He is the first Red Sox player to win a Home Run Derby, and after everything his home runs have done for this team, he most definitely deserves it.  And he sure did us proud.  If you want to talk about power, that right there was power.  It was home run after home run after home run.  Literally.  And he’s a classy guy; he even went out to Ramirez during the final round and told him to slow down and save his energy.  And of course the dedication of his trophy to Jose Lima.  That was special.

The game itself was a compete disappointment.  The final score was 3-1 in favor of the National League, which snapped its All-Star losing streak at thirteen games.  The American League hasn’t lost an All-Star Game since 1996.  The National League! Not only did the American League, and by the American League I obviously mean us, lose home field advantage for the World Series, but it also humiliated itself.  I mean, who loses to the National League? Sure, the NL put its best out there, but so did the AL.  It’s just not right.

Jon Lester, I am proud to say, pitched a one-two-three bottom of the sixth and was rewarded with a hold for his services.  Because he was pitching with a 1-0 lead at the time.  Of the eighteen pitches he fired, eleven were strikes.  Ramirez was the first out after he hit a ground ball hard back to the mound.  Prado then popped to short.  And Gonzalez hit a ground ball to second.  Then Phil Hughes allowed two of the runs and took the loss.  A Yankee.  Great.  Matt Thornton of the White Sox got a blown save.

The AL scored its only run in the fifth, when Longoria came home on Cano’s sac fly.  So representatives from our two rivals scored the only run.  Interesting.

Papi struck out looking, hit a single, and was left on base once.  The contrast from his performance during the Home Run Derby was striking.  I mean, it’s supposed to be, but still.  That single led off the bottom of the ninth and was halfway to second base on a bloop by Buck when Byrd caught the ball and fired to second to force him out.  It was ruled a fielder’s choice.  And it was pretty much the end of the game.  If it had been anyone faster on the basepaths and anyone less competent in the outfield, the runner would have been safe without a doubt.

It was the first time in his career that Papi ever faced Broxton.  He was actually the pitcher who served up what would become Pedroia’s first career walkoff hit on June 19, and Papi was standing in the on-deck circle at the time.

Beltre entered the game in the eighth for defense and struck out swinging in the ninth after Papi’s at-bat.

Pedroia, Buchholz, and V-Mart obviously had a blast and took it all in.  Although I would like to point out that, had the three of them been able to play, it’s not inconceivable that the American League would’ve won after all.  I’m just saying.  All three are elites in pitching or batting and defense.  So it’s an objectively reasonable claim.

So that was it.  It was a clean, short, nine-inning game.  Kind of boring, actually, as All-Star Games go.  No position players had to come in and pitch, no spectacular plays in the field were made, no tie at the very last out was broken by a walkoff, none of that.  Just simple baseball.  But that’s cool too.  We watch baseball for the love of the game, so sometimes simple baseball is just nice.  Then again, it’s even nicer when the team we want to win, actually wins.  At times like this, it makes you reconsider the concept of fan voting.  You’re talking about letting a popularity contest decide something very serious and important: home field advantage for the World Series.  Starting the World Series on the road is not ideal, but I’m not worried about our ability to get through it.  I’m just saying that it’s a weighty issue that should be given its due consideration.

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We just faced a month’s worth of good teams, and we rocked it and played some of our best ball.  Now we will embark on an epic journey during which we will face a month’s worth of the worst of the worst.  So we’ll rock that too and play some even better ball.  This is a great opportunity for us to finally pull away from the rest of the AL East.  Take last night, for example.  The Marlins have struck out more than any other National League team, and they have a lot of young hitters who just don’t take pitches.  Chris Volstad wasn’t exactly helping the cause.  His strength is the sinking fastball, so when the fastball doesn’t sink, he doesn’t win, and nothing was doing anything for him last night.  And their fielding is absolutely atrocious.  In the second Nick Green hit a chopper off the home plate rubber, and it went over Volstad’s head and right in front of second base.  Dan Uggla tried to handle it but couldn’t, it bounced off Hanley Ramirez, and by the time anyone knew where the ball was Ellsbury had already crossed the plate.  Green was credited with a hit and an RBI so the Marlins got lucky but still.  Ugly play.

We scored once in the second, once in the third, and six times in the fourth.  Papi started the rally with a leadoff solo shot to right.  He finally pulled the ball.  The high fastball was in the Marlins bullpen as soon as it left his bat.  Eck literally said, “See ya” at the crack of the bat.  It was huge.  Fifth of the year.  And the irony is that it was New York who helped him get going.  Papi would finish the night perfect at the plate with a run and three RBIs.  Bay batted in two, Green batted in another and finished two for four with a run.  Drew and Youk both hit, walked, and scored, Youk with a two-out double in the eighth.  Ellsbury went two for two with two runs and two steals.  Pedroia went two for five and scored.  So some signs of life from the slumping second baseman, because in case anyone hasn’t noticed, lately Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah hasn’t been destroying anything except his batting average.  He’s popping out.  He’s grounding out.  It’s painful to watch.  And the eerie part is that his swing during this stretch looks almost exactly like the badness during the first month of his rookie year.  Of course he’ll snap out of it; everyone runs into a bad spell sooner or later.  And even when he doesn’t contribute with his bat, there’s always his clubhouse presence and his defense.  And last but not least, Kottaras went two for four with a run and an RBI and got a little creative with the last out of the fifth.  He actually pushed a chopper fair and used it to tag the batter out.  Marlins Manager Fredi Gonzalez of course had a problem with this, but the home plate umpire stayed with his call while Tito and Kottaras had a good laugh.  I love this team.

Pitching.  Very important, and not to be overlooked, especially because Wake just notched win number nine.  Six innings, two runs on six hits, a walk, and four strikeouts.  Send Wake to the All-Star Game.  That’s all I have to say about it.  Delcarmen, Saito, and Bard were all perfect.  The advantage of pitching after a knuckleballer continues to be tried and true, and that combined with the easy Marlins lineup provided good opportunities for them to find their form again.

So a great game on all counts.  Hitting and pitching.  And fielding; we were error-free (and, not coincidentally, Lugo-free).  Still two games ahead of New York, but once they lose we’ll be all over it.  Andrew Miller at Penny tonight, which brings us to our final point of business: John Smoltz.  He’s finished his rehab and will make his first start in more than a year next week, probably against the Nationals.  Incidentally, I like that matchup; the Nationals are a bad team and are not the Atlanta Braves, and they should ease him back into his groove.  Smoltz is the only pitcher in Major League history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves.  The catch is that, like I said, we have starting pitching coming out of our ears.  Like I said, Penny is not a reliever, and technically Masterson isn’t, either.  Decision time for Tito and Theo.  But, as always, the best front office in the Majors will figure it out.

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