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Posts Tagged ‘Jason Giambi’

Papelbon’s disgraceful performance last night insults the entire concept of Soxtober on two fronts.  Firstly, it provides a painfully stark contrast to his last save opportunity at Coors Field: on October 28, 2007, he converted the save opportunity that clinched the World Series win.  Secondly, it provides a painfully stark reminder of last October, when he blew it, both literally and figuratively.

When he entered the ninth, his only responsibility was to record the final out of the game.  That, theoretically, can be done with one pitch.  Instead, he dropped the ball on only the second pitch he threw.  A one-run homer on a fastball erased our 6-5 lead, one we had painstakingly built against the best pitcher in Major League Baseball.  Then it was a single on a slider, and then it was a walk-off on a splitter.  That was one of the worst splitters I’ve ever seen him throw.  Really, all of his pitches were just flat and did nothing.  To make matters worse, it was a walk-off two-run home run.  And to make matters unbearable, it was hit by Jason Giambi.

Everything else about the game was fine enough.  Lackey lasted for six and two-thirds innings, giving up five runs on ten hits and a two-run shot in the second inning.  He did, however, walk none, strike out seven, and retire ten of his last eleven batters.  He threw 110 pitches total, ratcheting up his pitch count in his first four innings, during which he threw about twenty pitches per inning, but settled down starting in the fifth, during which he only threw nine.  His most effective pitches were his fastball, slider, and curveball, his pitch of choice.  He threw beautiful curveballs last night.  His cutter, his second pitch of choice, wasn’t that great.  He threw a good amount of strikes, though.  He pounded the zone and used all parts of it.  About sixty-five percent of his pitches were strikes.  So he allowed a lot of hits, which happens sometimes when a pitcher relies on power rather than finesse (a finesse pitcher usually has higher walk totals), but he did what I predicted he’d need to do to get the win.  And he would’ve gotten the win had Papelbon not ruined the outcome completely.

Bard pitched perfectly.  He threw thirteen pitches by the time he left, but perhaps if he’d stayed in for the final out, we would’ve walked off with the W.

Meanwhile, was a fantastic night for the offense.  The offense did practically everything right.  We were down by four against the Majors’ best before we got ourselves on the board.  But we came roaring back.

Nava got things started with two men out in the fourth when he smacked a two-run double into right center field.  The Rockies replenished one of those runs when Lackey gave up a single to who but Jimenez.  (You read right.  An American League pitcher gave up a hit to another pitcher.  How embarrassing.) That single scored Barmes from second.  Reddick delivered a fantastic throw to V-Mart, but Barmes ran right through it.

We really got to Jimenez in the sixth, when we scored four.  That was when we officially built our lead.  It was again Nava who started it off, doubling in Beltre.  Then McDonald brought Nava and himself both home with a towering home run to left center.  That’s not easy to do.  Coors Field is a deep park, so McDonald’s power was definitely on display there.  It was fantastic.  Even Lackey got in on the action, avenging Jimenez’s early hit.  He actually grabbed himself a double and then scored on Scutaro’s bloop single.  He finished the night two for three against Jimenez after entering the game one for thirty-one in his career.  How ‘bout that?

Scutaro finished two for five, V-Mart three for five, Nava two for three with Colorado’s only walk, and McDonald two for four.  Twelve hits total, four of which were for extra bases.  It was nice to see offensive contributions from up and down the lineup, and that’s a big part of what would have made a win last night particularly satisfying.  Papelbon may have missed that memo.  The final score was 8-6.  That was his second blown save this year.

So now we’re two and a half games out of first.  Fortunately, Tampa Bay lost yet again.  Tonight it all comes down to Dice-K.  If Dice-K doesn’t win, we’re going to fall father behind in the standings, and we’re going to get swept by the National League team we trounced in the World Series three years ago, which won’t actually be as fun as it sounds.  (Notice the sarcasm.) I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want either.

AP Photo

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Cutting to the chase yet again, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were both revealed to be on the list of the roughly one hundred baseball players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drug use in 2003.  Neither will be punished by the league because suspensions were only introduced in 2004.  But this season just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it.

Isn’t it funny how the New York Times is always the one to break these stories? And with a decidedly anti-Red Sox bent, too.  “Now, players with Boston’s championship teams of 2004 and 2007 have also been linked to doping.” Like we couldn’t figure that out from the headline.  And isn’t it funny how, out of one hundred-plus names, these were the only two that were leaked? To a New York newspaper? On the front page? Mere moments before game time? When David Ortiz was scheduled to be in the lineup? It’s just strange, is all I’m saying.

The first thing I’d like to say is that the tests in 2003 were called for by Bud Selig to determine the percentage of baseball players who were using.  The results were supposed to be destroyed.  They weren’t; they were supposed to remain anonymous.  And that’s the kicker.  You can’t just release only a handful of the one-hundred-plus names on the list; it’s completely unfair.  If you release some, you have to release all.  Not doing so allows unclean players to masquerade as clean and point fingers to the unclean when really they’re all in the same boat.  And it’s deceiving; it makes it easy for people to forget that at that time this was prolific.  Furthermore, according to Nomar, because the test was anonymous and only for the purposes of determining whether testing was necessary, many players intentionally refused to be tested, thereby allowing themselves to be associated with positive results, in order to push the number of positive players over the top, which would force Bud Selig to implement tests.  This is definitely something to be kept in mind when future revelations of names are made.  Unless that’s not altogether true.  And in this day and age, you can’t be too sure.  Either way, the point is that, as it stands now, the list totally irrelevant.  Just sayin’.

Usually in these situations, the logic of choice would be that of superficial fairness.  Yes, it looks like Manny Ramirez was possibly David Ortiz were taking steroids at the time.  (I’ll explain the “possibly” in a moment.) Just like Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez.  And that by taking steroids, Manny and Papi actually evened the playing field.  The Yankees had cheaters on their team.  We had cheaters on our team.  So we still won, and we were still the better team.  Plain and simple.

But I’m not going to employ that logic, because I am a member of Red Sox Nation, and I root for a team that deserves more than just the cheap, dirty, easy way out.  When the first news of Manny Ramirez broke, I said that neither the 2004 nor the 2007 World Series victories are tainted, and I stand by that.  Yes, it looks like Manny Ramirez and possibly David Ortiz were taking steroids at the time.  But they were only two on a team of forty.  To taint those two victories is to besmirch the rest of the team without due cause.  True, they played an enormous part in both, but without the team they would’ve gotten nowhere.  David Ortiz hit walk-off home runs in the 2004 playoffs. In order for those home runs to win the game, other runs had to have been scored and plated by other players.  Like Mark Bellhorn, Bill Mueller, Pokey Reese, Trot Nixon, Orlando Cabrera, Dave Roberts, and Kevin Millar, to name a few.  What about them? They played more of a part in those wins than just two guys.  So when Yankee fans, or anyone else for that matter, try to void 2004, they’re just grasping.  Men don’t win championships.  Teams win championships.  And I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we are not about  to let the superficial fan or the weak of heart slander two entire teams of upstanding ballplayers.

Now, that begs the question of who else on the 2004 team tested positive, but we have to work with the information available.  And I can guarantee you right now that every member of that team did not dope.  Doping had to have been an isolated incident, done on an individual basis.  It wasn’t something that ran rampant in the clubhouse.  We didn’t have a trainer injecting people or a supplier doling out pills.  The clubhouse, then, was clean, and as a team, we won honorably.  As a team, we were clean because we did not condone this behavior.  And we still don’t.

And now we get to discuss the “possibly.” David Ortiz admitted that, when he was a young man in the Dominican Republic just breaking into the game of baseball, he’d started buy protein shakes without really knowing for sure what they contained.  It’s possible that they contained PEDs and he just didn’t bother to check.  There’s no excuse for that.  But there is a difference between that and the actions of Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds.  It’s possible that he tested positive in 2003, figured it must have something to do with an ingredient in the shake, and stopped drinking them, which coincides with the fact that starting in 2004 he tested clean, a fact we have records to prove.  And the plausibility of this possibility is actually confirmed by the fact that Bronson Arroyo has publicly stated that he was taking androstenedione and amphetamines.  He stopped taking the andro because he found out it was laced with the steroid Winstrol due to “lax production standards.” Apparently, back then, it wasn’t that rare to take something without bothering to check what was in it.  (Arroyo stopped taking the andro in 2004 and the greenies in 2006, when each was respectively banned.) Manny Ramirez is another matter entirely, but we can’t pass judgment on David Ortiz.  Not yet anyway.  Not after he issued a public statement through the Red Sox during which he said he knows nothing, wants to find out all he can, and will explain the situation to the public as soon as he has more information.  This is not the usual skulking off that guilty users practice.  He’s being responsible; the first thing he did was confirm with the Players Association that the report is true.  This is exactly in the style of Big Papi, always open with the media and up-front with the fans.  We owe him our patience while he figures this whole thing out.

Believe it or not, that was the easy stuff.  Deep down, we all know the wins aren’t tainted.  We all know that, as both a team and a clubhouse, we’re clean and honorable.  We know it, we believe it, and it’s easy to explain why, and I’ve done that.  Now comes the hard part.   The part where you realize how painful it was to discover this, how frustrated you were to read it, especially on the front page of a New York newspaper.   I won’t lie; it hurt bad.   And if it comes to pass that he was ingesting PEDs a-la Bonds and A-Rod, I’ll be even more disappointed in David Ortiz.  But we’ll cross that bridge when and if we come to it.  As it is, it stabs you right in the heart.  It makes you angry that he could be so ignorant and stupid as to get caught up in all of that, and it frustrates you even more because you know you can’t judge yet since you don’t have all the details.  And it makes you sad.  But what makes you even sadder is that there are people out there who’ll try to take away from you what you’ve rightfully earned, based on the mistakes of two misguided men.  Whether one of them acted with a certain intent or not.

If there’s one thing we have to take away from this, it’s that it’s wrong to let unclean players give the clean a bad name by hiding among them.  Similarly, it’s wrong to accuse the clean of being unclean just because a realistic outcome could maybe, possibly, sort of be construed to fit an anomalous behavior.  That’s slander.  When the press does it, it’s libel.  And it’s illegal.  Just to give you an idea of how grave an offense defamation can be.  Red Sox Nation is better than that.  The Royal Rooters raised us better than that.

I was very surprised to hear about this.  I know, I know, technically this shouldn’t have surprised me.  Maybe I relate too much to the pre-steroid era, or maybe I’m stubbornly non-cynical; I don’t know.  Whatever it is, there are things I do know.  I know that 2004 ended the Curse of the Bambino and that 2007 reminded us it wasn’t just a dream.  I know that the retired numbers hanging on the right field roof deck represent players who couldn’t be paid to look at a PED.  I know that the men wearing our uniforms now know what not to do.  Behavior like this doesn’t fly in Boston.  Never has.  Never will.  And finally, I know that when I look at a Red Sox jersey, at the World Series trophies, and the youth of the 2009 club, I’m looking at things and people I can respect.  Clubs like ours have learned from their predecessors’ mistakes, and the things they will achieve without the aid of PEDs will be even better than anything that could be achieved with them, because of their absence.

So, that’s that.  I’m not naive.  I just refuse be as cynical and detached as many other baseball fans and sports writers are being.  The situation’s awful, but it is what it is.  Hopefully, and I mean hopefully, this’ll be the last such issue I’ll have to address.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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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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My friends, you will never see Yankee Stadium in the regular season again.  This most recent series with the Yankees was the last such that we’ll ever play there.  Ever.  And if you ask me I’d say we left the way we wanted to: dominant.  Not a sweep, maybe, but a series win in spectacular fashion got the message across of whose time it is to shine now.  After everything the rivalry has put us through, we can rest easy knowing that we’re the ones who’ve come out on top.  (As if 2004 didn’t already confirm that fact.)

Lester took care of business for the most part and continued his domination in the Bronx, going just over six and allowing one run on six hits with eight strikeouts and absolutely no walks.  We scored twice off Mussina, with RBIs for Tek and Ellsbury.  Bay was hitless for only the second time in a Red Sox uniform.  Cora stole successfully, and Ellsbury ended up with his eighth CS but still leads the league in thefts.

It was Hideki Okajima with the blown save, his eighth of the season, and Masterson with the loss.  But it was Papelbon who sealed the deal when he gave up a single to Jason Giambi with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.  There’s something you don’t see too often.

We lost, 2-3, and we’re back to 4.5 games behind the Rays.  Beckett’s been scratched from his Friday start and will pay a visit to orthopedist Dr. James Andrews about his right arm, specifically his elbow.  That’s bad.  Of all the pitchers on our staff, he is perhaps the most essential to hopes of a successful October.  Somebody needs to take a look at him, find the problem, and fix it as quickly as possible, otherwise we’ll be aceless in the postseason, and that’s not a happy thought.  On the bright side, we’re still in playoff contention, we’re going home, and we left a bad taste in the Yankees’ mouths! (Especially A-Rod, who did nothing good and everything bad over the course of the past three games.) But even better, August has been our best month this season.  We’ve been playing better ball lately than we ever did in ’08 even with Manny Ramirez.  Tito was right when he told Jerry Remy that we’ve got ourselves a team, and if we continue at this rate we should make it to October on good footing.

Getty Images

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Talk about timely wins and losses. The Rays lost in extra innings by the long ball yesterday, and we won in dramatic fashion. Dice-K versus Scott Baker. No score. Eighth inning. Pedroia the Destroyah doubles and Manny singles him home in the clutch. The final score? 1-0, we win. Dice-K pitched six-hit shutout ball for just over seven innings with three walks (good to see a low number in that column) and five K’s, lowering his ERA to 2.84. Hideki Okajima relieved him and pitched a rare perfect inning, and Pap redeemed himself splendidly and got the save. Just like old times: Okie in the eighth, Pap in the ninth, one-two-three, we’re done. If only Okie could keep that up for the rest of the season.

Yesterday’s contest was a great game. That’s what I call a pitcher’s duel. When Okajima relieved Dice-K, there were two men on base and he pulled through it. He had the head snap going, he had the Okie-Doke, it was beautiful. Nothing like a close win at home to remind you that, hey, you’re defending champions of the world! We’ve got this series with the Twins and then three with Baltimore before the All-Star break. Should be a great opportunity to establish and maintain some momentum, and last night was just what the doctor ordered just when we needed it.

Nick Blackburn (3.78 ERA) at Lester tonight, and Scott Kazmir (2.63 ERA) at Pettitte (4.22 ERA). By the way, you may have noticed that Jason Giambi is on the All-Star final vote. Jason Giambi is not All-Star material. His juice cost us a World Series appearance. Remember the two home runs in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS? Not cool. Speaking of All-Stars, an article in the Lowell Sun claims that Jason Varitek is not All-Star material and that he only made the cut because the players voted him in in what amounts to a popularity contest. The article continued to say that Tek’s expert handling of the pitching staff is not grounds for All-Stardom. Now, I don’t care what your favorite team is or who your favorite player is. Everyone respects Varitek for his knowledge of and love for the game, his leadership on and off the field, and, yes, his expert handling of the pitching staff. Batting averages and catcher’s ERAs don’t tell the whole story. Take Jose Reyes, for example. He’s currently batting .299 with a .486 slugging percentage and 32 steals. Good numbers…for someone who’s widely regarded as arrogant and conceited (the fact that his at-bat song is “This is Why I’m Hot” by Mims is now in context…just sayin’). The players didn’t vote Tek in because he’s a nice guy. They voted him in because he’s worthy of that honor. Why do you think Red Sox Nation puts up with his pathetic offensive production? Because he’s worth it in other ways. You have to love the guy.

In other news, the Red Sox would like to convert Justin Masterson from starter to reliever to provide a reliable set-up man for the bullpen. It’s true that Javy Lopez and Aardsma can’t do it all, but it seems like such a shame to restrict him to throwing a couple of innings every couple of days. He has so much potential. He has the maturity, stamina, endurance, and stuff to become an ace. He’s currently 4-3 with a 3.67 ERA in nine starts. His slider and his sinking fastball are fatal for right-handers, who bat .170 against him. Those are pretty impressive stats for a young kid who hasn’t finished his Minor League stint yet. Making him a reliever seems a little drastic. Clay Buchholz is getting ready to come back, and they need to find something for Masterson because he’s too good to be sidelined for long. But here’s a thought. A really good reliever should be able to throw quality pitches in, what, maybe four innings tops per outing. Why not let Masterson work in Triple A as a starter and bring him up every so often to start and give Clay the extra rest? That way, if we need him in relief down the stretch, he’ll do what Josh Beckett did with the Marlins in ’03: pitch relief with all the power of a starter. That would be uncannily effective, no? If it worked in the World Series against the Yankees, it’s at least worth considering in the regular season.

Dustin Pedroia, 7/7/2008

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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