Posts Tagged ‘Lenny DiNardo’

The exciting part of free agency is now finished.  I guess that’s what happens when you move up every single important offseason deadline.  Cliff Lee is officially off the market as well.  But he didn’t sign with the Rangers.  He didn’t even sign with the Yankees.  He signed with the Phillies.  They made a late bid on Monday night and he took it.  Five years and one hundred million dollars.

You read right.  The Yankees offered him seven years for 142 million, and he turned it down.  He turned down more years and more money to go back to Philly.  Both deals pay him roughly the same amount per season, but it’s a big decision to turn down that much security.  A reasonable and rational one in this case, in my opinion, since it means he’s not going to New York.  The man has scruples.

So, to review, we now have Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, and the Yankees do not have Cliff Lee.  I repeat: the New York Yankees do not have Cliff Lee! Said another way, Cliff Lee just dropped the New York Yankees like nobody’s business and basically showed them that, no, not everything in life can be bought.  The shift in the balance of power in the AL East is now complete.  Order has been restored in the universe.  We are back on top, and there’s nothing New York can do about it.  As far as the Phillies are concerned, we’ll deal with them in Interleague and the World Series, if they get there.  Keep in mind that they’re beatable.  Their rotation is great, but so is ours.  The only problem is that there are lots of question marks attached to ours and less attached to theirs.  But if those question marks yield positive answers this season, we’ll be fine.  Especially when you consider the fact that our lineup is packed with lefties, so right-handed pitching stands no chance.  We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Meanwhile, life is great!

Life is so great that one of the hot debate topics in Red Sox Nation these days is who will lead off, Crawford or Ellsbury? Just think about that for a second.  This is a question that we were asking in our dreams not too long ago.  This is a question that managers of All-Star teams were asking themselves not too long ago.  And now this is a question that our manager gets to ask himself on a daily basis.  That’s how great life is.  Because, when you put this in perspective, you realize that choosing between Ellsbury and Crawford for the leadoff spot is not a problem.  Choosing between Hall and McDonald and Patterson and Cash and Nava for every single lineup spot, day in and day out, is a problem.  And in answer to that question, I think Ellsbury has to lead off.  Pedroia will bat second, and Crawford will bat third.  Tito is saying now that Ellsbury will probably lead off, Crawford will bat either second or third, and Pedroia will bat wherever Crawford doesn’t bat, but those three will take the first three spots.  Ultimately, though, I assume Tito will separate the two lefties with the righty to confound opposing pitching.

The Yankees ended up locking Russell Martin; they agreed to terms with him on a one-year deal.

On to the bullpen, which is the only part of our baseball lives that wasn’t so great.  We signed Lenny DiNardo to a one-year minor league split deal.  Welcome back.  I should mention that his best season to date occurred under the tutelage of one Curt Young.  We signed Matt Albers to a one-year deal.  We also signed Dan Wheeler to a one-year deal.  But the highlight of this week’s bullpen wheeling and dealing is undoubtedly Bobby Jenks, formerly the closer for the White Sox who was non-tendered.  Jenks has agreed to a two-year deal in principle.  He didn’t have a great season last year, so we probably won’t have to deal with any competition between him and Paps for the position of closer.  Paps didn’t have a great year last year either, but his bad year was better than Jenks’s bad year.  But Jenks is awesome – his fastball is red-hot, and he throws a lot of strikes – with him on board, our bullpen can go straight to the top again.

Jenks is four years younger than Paps, and he makes our bullpen one of the hardest-throwing in the Major Leagues.  But heat isn’t everything; it’ll give you a lot of strikeouts but doesn’t guarantee you the save.  Consider this, though: baseball operations has wanted some sort of variation in the late innings, because before this deal we had Bard and Paps, so hitters were guaranteed fastball after fastball after fastball.  Jenks is a fastball pitcher, so the change of pace could come from Paps.  Paps is obviously a power pitcher, but his splitter and slider, on which he worked really hard last year, are now excellent, yielding .190 and .171 opposing batting averages, respectively.  So Jenks could get him to rely less on his fastball and throw more of those.  Obviously, his fastball is still amazing, but this would make him more versatile.  And more battle-ready, since now he probably won’t see action besides the ninth or in consecutive games.  So Jenks might actually make Paps more effective.

That, in turn, could have significant ramifications for next year’s offseason, when Paps becomes a free agent.  If he mounts a stellar campaign this year, he’ll be in a position to demand a stellar amount of cash.  But Heath Bell will also be a free agent at that time, and it’s unclear how well Paps will be able to compete with him in the market.  So this deal with Jenks gives us a lot of options and a lot of leverage for negotiations.  Bell will probably steal the show, and Paps would be demoted to a backup interest for most teams.  And let’s not forget the possibility that we could just decide to make Jenks the set-up man and Bard the closer, something of which I am sure Paps is well aware.  Honestly, I hope that doesn’t happen.  I hope we retain Paps, and I suspect we will, but there’s no way to know.  The bottom line for now is this: Jenks, Bard, Paps.  Done.  Game over.

Last but not least, the player to be named later in the Gonzalez deal is Eric Patterson.  He had some big heroics in Fenway, and he’ll be missed.

Red Sox Nation sends its condolences to the family of Walt Dropo, the AL Rookie of the Year in 1950 with us, who passed away on Friday.  He beat out Whitey Ford for the award.  He was one of our greatest of that era.  And he will be missed.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Sabres by a goal.  Ryder scored a power play goal to put us on top in the third period, but Drew Stafford put the finishing touches on a hat trick in the third as well, and Buffalo won out.  We also suffered a brutal loss to the Habs by a goal.  The final score was 3-4.  It was crushing.  And then we turned around and crushed the Caps.  Barely.  The final score was 3-2.  Thomas made twenty-five saves in the third period alone; if it weren’t for him, I’m not convinced we would have picked up the W, because that third period was awful.  And Tom Brady delivered a sound thrashing to Chicago’s pass defense, yielding a final score of 36-7.  It was excellent.

I’ll be taking a break for about a week.  I think it’s safe to say that most of the big name wheeling and dealing’s been done.  But you never know.  Theo will probably use this week to finalize the bullpen situation and take care of any other necessary business.  But at this point, I think we’re set!

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So remember how, after Dice-K’s previous start, I said that his next start would be even more important? Because it would reveal more accurately whether his success is fleeting or here to stay.  Well, break out the applause, ladies and gentlemen, because the Orioles just got handled and re-handled, and I think we have our old of 2008 back.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s only the Orioles, but you have to start somewhere, right? A few wins under his belt will boost his confidence tremendously, and he’ll need that extra confidence the closer we get to October (which is now less than ten days away!).

When I refer to yesterday’s outing as a good one, I’m referring to the fact that Dice-K seems to be moving forward.  None of this voluminous run business.  He held the O’s to three runs.  Good.  We should be happy about that.  He walked one and struck out five.  Also good.  It’s the five and a third innings, eight hits, and two-run shot that concern me.  Dice-K threw 110 pitches last night.  That would get most pitchers past the sixth and most aces past the seventh.  That means that Dice-K was extremely inefficient.  Obviously, it wasn’t because he was walking people.  It was the eight hits that did him in.  He was up to his old Houdini act, where’d he get himself into all sorts of jams and then get out of them like it was a walk in the park.  The home run is one home run; it can’t be helped, and it happens.  I just included it because I’m not happy about it.  Who would be? But anyway, that was the most glaring issue with last night.  If he uses that same amount of pitches to go deeper, the eight hits don’t bother me as much because they’re distributed over a longer period of time.  That’s something he needs to watch.  The bullpen will have a substantial workload as it is due to the nature of the playoffs, and we can’t have them worrying about bailing out their starter every four games.  Furthermore, we can’t have Dice-K destroying in one month and a half everything he worked to achieve in three months in Florida.  Yesterday’s start was a step forward, and steps forward are good; I’m just saying that we can’t have him backsliding.

On that note, the bullpen was good.  Saito was a little rocky, but he, Ramirez, and Okajima pulled it together.

The final score was 9-3; the offensive onslaught continues.  Ellsbury was the man of the hour, going three for four with a double, a steal, a walk, two runs, and three RBIs, including a solo shot with two out in the seventh that made every other Major League club wish he were their leadoff hitter.  Pedroia went two for five.  V-Mart went two for four with an RBI.  Youk hit and walked.  Bay went two for four with a run and three RBIs, including a solo shot of his own with one out in the fourth.  And in case everyone hasn’t noticed, he’s back to doing what he did at the beginning of the season: lighting up every opposing pitcher he faces.  That was his thirty-fifth long ball of the season, hit right on his birthday.  In 133 games this season, Bay has walked 89 times and batted in 110 runs.  David Ortiz had it right: you can’t get much better than Jason Bay.  Lowell batted in two.  Tek hit.  Gonzalez went two for four with a double.  So every member of the starting lineup, with the exception of Drew, made constructive contact.  (He had a great night last night, so we’ll led it slide.)

The defense shared in the spotlight yet again; two double plays between Pedroia, V-Mart, Gonzalez, and Youk.  A nice throw by Pedroia and a nice stop by V-Mart.

That’s a wrap for us and the Birds this season.  We win the season series sixteen to two, and we’ve won the series since 2005, 64 to 25, outscoring them, 538-367.  Wow.  So with yesterday’s game, we swept the Orioles.  With that game, we further cemented our Wild Card lead.  With that game, we’re one game closer to clinching a playoff spot.  And with that game, we’re now only five games behind the Yankees in the division.  They’re going to California to face the Angels.  We’re going to Kansas City to face the Royals.  And then we’re going to the Bronx to face each other.  Don’t look now, but we could be playing for the division this weekend.  And we might actually win it in the end.  Over these past two weeks, we’ve scored more runs than all other Major League teams, with the exception of the Royals.  Our .315 team batting average is higher than everyone else’s, with the exception of the Yankees’ .325.  And our .502 slugging percentage and .384 on-base percentage is higher than everyone else’s with the exception of, well, nobody.  And during that time, our pitchers have posted a second-lowest 2.53 ERA.  I mean, I’m just saying.  As far as tomorrow goes, Wakefield is pitching! Against Lenny DiNardo! Blast from the past.  Should be interesting.

In other news, the Jets majorly upset the Patriots, 16-9.  I seriously did not see that coming.

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