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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Buehrle’

The Winter Meetings were pretty quiet.  For some of us, anyway.  Since everyone else was apparently busy gobbling up all the good names.  Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle are off the market; they both signed with the Marlins, who, by the way, are now no longer the Florida Marlins.  They agreed to rename the team the Miami Marlins as part of a deal that allowed them to construct their new ballpark on the site of the old Miami Orange Bowl.  Albert Pujols is now an Angel; his contract is ten years for upwards of $250 million.

Meanwhile, we hardly even made so much as a ripple.  Not that the point is to make waves.  The point is to fix what needs fixing.  We had identified some things that need fixing, and as of now they’re not really all that fixed.  Granted, there’s still a lot of offseason to go, and I’m sure that Ben used this opportunity to gauge the market and make connections.

We’ve signed Andrew Miller to a one-year deal.  More importantly, Papi has accepted arbitration.  I have to admit that I liked it better when we, as a rule, avoided arbitration at all costs.  The good news is that, no matter what, Papi will play for us next season, and he just won 2011’s well-deserved Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.  The bad news is the entire arbitration process, because now the two sides have to go at each other in a no-holds-barred, my-interests-against-yours display of everything that’s bad about each side.  It’s not good for morale.  But Papi wanted to be back, and we wanted him back, so now we have him back.  I guess if he wants a multi-year deal, he’ll have to work for it.  Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Theo, but I don’t like arbitration.  I feel like the process just breeds badness in the long run.

Tito and Bobby V. spent the Winter Meetings in Texas chatting about what it’s like to basically switch jobs.  Bobby V. also spent the Winter Meetings chatting with the media about anything and everything, from David Ortiz to Daniel Bard.  Apparently he and Beckett talked on the phone; apparently Beckett was angry because Bobby V. used to call him out constantly on ESPN for taking time between pitches, but apparently the rest of the conversation went well.  The only problem I have with that is that Beckett specifically requested that the contents of the conversation remain private.  To Bobby V., apparently that means all the contents of the conversation except that one detail.  We haven’t heard anything in the media yet that would indicate that Beckett is upset, but a private conversation is a private conversation, and that should be the end of it.

The second thing that Bobby V. has done with which I don’t agree, at least at this stage, is his intent to convert Bard to a starter during Spring Training.  This is a bad idea.  I’m not saying that Bard couldn’t handle it; it’s possible that he could still apply his wicked velocities to his work as a starter.  But usually you have to take a little bit off for the sake of preserving your endurance for the later innings so I’m not sure it’ll translate in full.  More importantly, if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it.  We need a closer.  We don’t have one.  So we can either acquire a closer or a starter.  At this point I think that Bard is so skilled as a closer, a role he seems to have been born into and that he seems to want to at least attempt before he’s pigeonholed into something else, that it makes more sense to at least try him out.  Maybe Bobby V. is thinking that they can train him as a starter and try him as a closer and see which works better, but it’s not good to mess with a young pitcher’s regimen like that.  I’d say the pitcher best suited to swing back and forth that way is a long reliever.  Bard is not a long reliever.  He owned the eighth when Paps was closing; it’s only natural that we at least see what he can do if we give him the ninth.  We already know what to expect if we make him our closer; he may not be as good a starter as he would be a closer.  At this point, it’s hard to say either way, but I’m reluctant so early in the game to make a blanket statement that Bobby V. knows best.  We don’t even know that yet.

In other news, the Pats beat the Colts, 31-24, and the Redskins, 34-27.  The B’s split their games this week; we beat the Penguins and Blue Jackets but lost to the Panthers and Jets.

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2011 is shaping up to be the Year of the Goodbye, I guess.  It’s just a lot to take in and deal with at once.  I have confidence in Ben, but it just seems like he keeps adding to his workload rather than making some definitive decisions.  I’m sure we’ll see those soon, but it would be nice to halt the farewell train.  I think we’ve had enough.

The Phillies called Paps but then seemed to agree to terms with Ryan Madson.  The good news was that we could have still sign him; the bad news was that Paps was now salivating over Madson’s brand-new four-year, forty-plus-million-dollar theoretical contract.  The bright side in was that he’s represented by Seth and Sam Levinson.  Can you imagine if Paps of all people were represented by Scott Boras? That would be absolutely hellish.  Ben made contact with Paps’s camp, but he didn’t expect them to give him any time to match an offer from another club if the offer was to Paps’s liking.

And it was.  Congratulations, Paps.  You have just set the record for closer compensation.  He has accepted an offer from the Phillies for a four-year, fifty-million-dollar deal including a fifth-year vesting option.  Ben wasn’t going to match that, and the Levinsons knew it.  They knew Ben’s dislike of deals for closers longer than three years, and they certainly knew Ben’s dislike for dishing out that kind of money.  We may all rest assured that the only reason why Ben felt comfortable letting Paps go is that there are other options out there, and good ones.  This is not me trying to justify our new leadership and make myself feel better.  This is fact.  Ryan Madson, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell, Joe Nathan (a risky move, but it’s been about a year since his Tommy John surgery, so this should be the time when his command returns), and, oh, yeah, Daniel Bard all make the list.  Not too shabby.  Not too shabby at all.  Ben and I can agree on the fact that Daniel Bard probably shouldn’t be closing just yet.  He was very clearly built to be one of the best closers in the game, but I personally would give it another year or two and bring in a veteran closer first.  Ideally, during that year or two, Bard would see significant pitching time in the ninth inning throughout the season to groom him for that role.  While the one-two punch of Bard in the eighth and a lights-out closer in the ninth would be impossible to resist, when the time comes we’ll face the choice of having to find a reliable set-up man, which arguably may be more difficult, or having to let Bard walk away.  One could make the case that we’re seeing something like Bard walking away now with Paps.  Quite frankly, I don’t like it, and I don’t want to do it more than once.  Regarding Bard specifically, you don’t let a one-hundred-mile-per-hour fastball walk out that door.  You just don’t.

What will infuriate me is if Ben feels compelled to offer more than three years to one of these other closers because Paps basically just revolutionized the closer market overnight.  If other teams will be ready to provide that fourth year, Ben will be out of luck.  All the reports of drama and all the rebuilding to be done this year aren’t exactly helping our cause; Paps is eager to go to the Phillies for several reasons, not the least of which I imagine is that, if you thought he wreaked havoc on AL hitters, he’s going to be the prophet of pitching in the NL, and it looks like the Phillies are a team that could potentially win, despite the fact that everyone said that about them, just as they were saying it about us, earlier this year only to watch them flame out in the playoffs.

And now, the tribute.

Paps started his career here.  He came up through our system and even won a cow-milking contest when he was with the Lowell Spinners.  He played our game both on and off the field because his personality was one-of-a-kind.  He was always a dependable notable quotable, but it was much more than that.  He was a leader and a force in the clubhouse.  He was crazy and insane, but only in the best of ways.  He was a Boston baseball guy.  He lived the baseball experience here, embraced it wholly, and took it to the absolute extreme.  He did the jig en route to the championship and redefined “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by The Dropkick Murphys.  I don’t think he’ll have as much fun anywhere else as he did here.  Seriously, all you had to do was hear those two drumbeats that start the song in the eighth or ninth inning and you know that you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the winning that will obviously ensue with Paps on the mound. Granted, it technically wasn’t always like that.  He did blow his share of saves.  He didn’t blow many, but it seemed like most of the ones he blew were doozies indeed.  He was immediately responsible for our untimely exit from the ’09 playoffs; he blew his save in Game Three of the ALDS, and that was the last playoff game we were in.  And he struggled in 2010 with eight blown saves.  But looking at the big picture, he more than made up for it.  He attacked the closing job with remarkable intensity; that stare of his could strike fear into the heart of any hitter.  In his career, he has an ERA of 2.33 and a WHIP of 1.02.  He’s amassed 219 saves and posted 509 strikeouts in 429.1 innings.  He’s blown a grand total of only twenty-nine saves, and only three of those came during this past season, compared to thirty-one converted opportunities.  And I don’t think any one of us will ever forget Tek jumping into his arms after he closed out Game Four of the 2007 World Series in Denver.  Not once in our long and illustrious history had we ever had a mainstay closer as long as we had Paps.  He was the best we’d ever seen, and he’s still in his prime.  So here’s to you.  Here’s to everything you’ve done for us through the years, both the much-needed saves and the much-needed smiles.  Here’s to you as a player and as a person, a goofy closer who still showed remarkable leadership in the clubhouse.  Here’s an enormous understatement: we’re going to miss you, Paps, and it’s been ridiculously fun.

Ben has also been in contact with the camps of Papi, Wake, and Tek.  I don’t think that I’d be able to watch any of those guys playing for another team.  It would be too surreal.  Like I said, one is quite enough, thank you.

Supposedly we’re interested in a two-year deal with Carlos Beltran.  He’s made it clear that he only wants to play in the National League and that he refuses to DH, but we’ve been attached to Beltran in the media for a long time.  But wait; the plot thickens.  We haven’t even called Beltran yet; instead, we’ve called Grady Sizemore and Michael Cuddyer.

There are also rumors that we’re interested in Mark Buehrle.  This is the first time in his career that he’s a free agent, and competition for him is stiff.  Supposedly we were also on hand to observe the workout of Yoenis Cespedes, who defected from Cuba to the Dominican Republic.  Supposedly he’s amazing, and he’s going to set off a major cash fight.  Think Aroldis Chapman.

Mike Maddux has withdrawn his candidacy due to “personal reasons.” That’s in quotes because he’s still on the Cubs’ list.  Obviously.  This should not surprise anybody.  We added Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo and Detroit third base coach Gene Lamont.  If the names sound familiar, that’s because they are.  Lovullo manage the PawSox before going to Toronto, and Lamont was our third base coach in 2001.  And that, supposedly, is going to be it for candidates.  Our list and the Cubs’ list share three candidates: Alomar, Mackanin, and Sveum.  I think it’s fairly obvious that Maddux is going to Chicago.  Incidentally, throughout this process, I’ve been having this thought: Theo’s relationship with Larry was shaky but ultimately productive.  It was shaky because Theo basically wanted his own job plus Larry’s job.  He wanted more control over baseball operations; he didn’t want to be just the general manager, which is why he’s not the Cubs’ general manager.  Theo brought in Jed Hoyer to be the Cubs’ general manager, and it will be interesting to see if Theo actually restricts himself to his higher role and doesn’t conduct himself with Hoyer the same way that Larry conducted himself with Theo.  If he doesn’t, Hoyer may take issue.  Oh, the potential irony.

Gonzalez will appear on the cover of this “MLB 12 The Show.” Pedroia did it in 2009.  Heady company.

On Wednesday, MLB Network aired a two-hour special on the Buckner game.  John McNamara insists that, after the seventh inning, Roger Clemens told him that he was done because of a cut on his finger; Clemens maintains that McNamara pinch-hit for him and the cut on his finger was not an obstruction to continuing to perform.  Whatever it was that really happened destroyed their relationship.  McNamara also stated that he went with Buckner, who was obviously not fit to field, because he was the best first baseman on the roster; he didn’t go with Dave Stapleton because he supposedly had earned the nickname “Shaky.” But Bruce Hurst said that he never heard anyone call Stapleton shaky.  Honestly, the whole thing was just the epitome of devastation, drama or no drama, and what I would personally like to avoid is similar devastation in the future and similar subsequent drama.

Tito is interviewing with the Cards.  Jerry Remy was surprised; he, and I think most of us, naturally assumed that Tito would take some time off before jumping right back into it.

In other news, the Pats dropped a very close one to the Giants, 24-20.  Oh, and we released Albert Haynesworth.  It’s not like we all didn’t see that coming when the signing was made.  The B’s played the Islanders, Oilers, and Sabres this week and beat all of them by almost the exact same score: the Isles and Sabres by 6-2 and the Oilers by 6-3.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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We knew Josh Beckett would come around.  We knew there would come a game that could be labeled the start of his turnaround for 2009.  We knew it, and we were ready for it, so I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that that’s part of what made yesterday’s loss so annoying.  That was, to put it simply, Beckett’s first good game since his last good game, but the lineup conspired to ensure that it wouldn’t be a win.

He pitched a full seven, gave up three runs on six hits, walked two, and struck out four.  Not very high on the strikeouts but low on the walks, nil on the home runs, and right on the money on the pitch count at ninety-six.  He used three pitches: the four-seam, which topped out at ninety-five miles per hour, the curveball, and the cutter, with very heavy emphasis on the four-seam and curve.  But hey, it worked; he threw sixty-two pitches for strikes.  And so I also tip my hat to Tek for calling this one so well.

Hideki Okajima didn’t help.  He let Carlos Quentin go yard with a man on and two out in the eighth.  Honestly, he couldn’t just get the other out? Okajima’s been very porous lately; he’s been allowing runs right and left.  He hasn’t been as porous as Michael Bowden was in that awful 20-11 blowout with the Yanks, but maybe we should start putting Bowden in, because this is just getting ridiculous.

The final score was 5-1.  Again.  We only managed one run for the entire game.  Ellsbury went two for four with a steal.  Pedroia doubled, finally.  V-Mart, Bay, Lowell, and Gonzalez each had hits.  Gonzalez threw Kotsay out at the plate in the third as he tried to score from first, which was an absolutely phenomenal play.  The ball rolled into the corner of left field, and Kotsay had a legitimate shot, but Bay fired to the infield, Gonzalez fired home, and Tek successfully applied the tag.  Play of the game.  Youk was responsible for the RBI.  Again, pathetic.

Wakefield will skip his Friday start.  That’s not good news.  Neither was the fact that Papi was benched because of the current slump he’s in.  I think it’ll do him good to return home.

This was Mark Buehrle’s first win since his perfect game on July 23.  That’s a long time to go without a win.  And that’s part of what makes it more painful.  We were the team that gave him his first win in that stretch.  We’re not supposed to be a team that provides solace for struggling pitchers.  We’re supposed to be the team that makes those struggles continue.  But in the long run, we’ll be so much the better for this game, because this was Beckett’s twenty-eighth start of the season.  That puts his twelve-million-dollar option for 2010 on the table.  So unless he finishes the year on the DL, it’ll be there for us to pick up.  I venture to guess we’ll be seeing Beckett pitch for Boston for a long, long time.  Meanwhile, we’re back at Fenway and David Hernandez will square off against Clay Buchholz.  I’m looking forward to this.

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Not every team has a good starting rotation.  Not every good starting rotation has an ace.  And not every ace is so dominant that the minute you see he’s starting, you’re already chalking it up as a win.  We are in the fortunate position of having such an ace on our staff.  (We technically have two, but the other one is currently out of order.) That ace would be Jon Lester, who has quietly but in short order established himself as one of the best southpaws in all of Major League Baseball.  And for good reason.  I would not want to be on the receiving end of a Lester cut fastball.

Lester’s line? Seven shutout innings, four hits, two walks, eight strikeouts.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  (Actually, it does.  It’s called a no-hitter.  Lester’s already thrown one of those.) The only downside was the 122 pitches it took him to get there.  He really had no choice; the bullpen’s been working hard these past few days and he had to go deep.  But I don’t like him throwing so many pitches after a long season this close to the playoffs.  He mixed them well, though, obviously concentrating on fastballs but using a good amount of off-speeds.  He topped out at ninety-six miles per hour and went down to about eighty.  He has one of the most effective mixes of pitches I’ve ever seen.

Wagner, Bard, and Paps handled themselves well.  The first two each were rewarded with holds for their service, but we’d scored too many runs for Paps to rack up a save.  Wagner allowed the run; Ramon Castro led off the eighth with a solo shot, but it happens.  Other than that, yesterday’s relief corps was spotless.  Did you know that Bard and Paps both have ERAs under 2.00? It seems like we’ve been so busy worrying about Papelbon’s excessive walks and sloppy saves that we forgot to notice that his ERA is still intact.  Of course, Daniel Bard never gave us much reason to doubt.

The final score was a very cool, very pleasant 6-1.  Ellsbury went three for four with two runs and a steal.  Very leadoff-hitter of him.  Pedroia went hitless again.  To tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s going on behind this slump of his.  I have no doubt he’ll snap out of it, because since those horrendous first two Major League months, he’s never been able to stay in a slump for long.  We can forgive him for yesterday’s performance because he delivered the play of the game in the first inning.  Two on and nobody out with a 1-2 count on Paul Konerko, so he flies out to shallow right and it’s Dustin Pedroia who runs in from the infield, makes the catch, and immediately fires with uncanny accuracy to second to get Scott Podsednik, who got doubled up.  So that was an epic play by Pedroia and an epic lapse in judgment by Podsednik, who has to keep his head up during a play like that.  And just to give you an idea of how important this was, if Pedroia doesn’t snag Konerko’s fly, it’s bases loaded with no outs, because everyone thought the ball would fall.  And that’s as valuable as any hit could possibly be.

V-Mart went two for four with a three-run moonshot with two out in the ninth.  The ball landed in the bullpen.  But let me tell you something about this ball.  This ball went off the bat and never looked back.  The crack of the bat was so loud, I thought the sound alone would propel the ball out of the park.  Bay went two for four with an RBI single.  Drew and Gonzalez both doubled.  And finally, last but not least, Mikey Lowell went yard with a man on in the fourth, in the White Sox bullpen.  So we had two long balls, both to opposite ends of the field, each to a different bullpen.  Not bad.  By the way, that’s proof of the fact that Lowell still has plenty left in the tank.

It’s possible that, instead of being called up, Lowrie will be shut down after playing for the PawSox on Monday.  To be honest, I’d rather see that then call him up, put him in action, and have him damage his wrist more permanently.  He’s our shortstop of the future.  He’s young.  No need to clip his wings before he’s had a chance to fly.

Well, that’s a wrap! We needed a win and we got one, thanks to the lineup and a little help from Jon Leste, who’s now twelve and seven with a 3.44 ERA.  That ERA is good for eighth among southpaws in the Majors.  He’s also very durable; he’s tied at fifth among lefties in most games started, and he’s sixth in innings pitched.  He’s tied for sixth in wins, but perhaps most telling, he’s struck out more batters than any other active lefty.  For Jon Lester alone, Theo Epstein deserves a standing ovation; for drafting him, for believing in him, and for keeping him here.  Absolutely.  Unfortunately, we’ll now have to wait another four games for his next start.  In the meantime, Josh Beckett will duke it out with Mark Buehrle.  We’ve been seeing a lot of the White Sox recently, so I have to believe our remarkable adaptability will kick in and help Beckett out a bit.  Hopefully it goes well.

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We’ve seen this way too often to not be familiar with it, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less frustrating when it happens.  For some reason nobody has quite been able to figure out, we never come up with enough run support for Tim Wakefield.  Last season it was brutal; he couldn’t buy a win.  This year it’s been less pronounced because he’s done an uncannily phenomenal job of limiting the opposition.  But all it takes is a loss like yesterday’s to remind you that that’s the case.

The final score was 5-1, but Wakefield only gave up four of those runs.  Four runs on six hits over six innings pitched with tree walks, four strikeouts, and one mistake to Mark Kotsay that again, ironically, ended up out of the park.  Really, he didn’t pitch badly.  He was one run shy of a quality start.  And given the fact that he’s forty-three, he’s got a torn labrum in his shoulder and a back issue that makes his legs numb and weak, and he threw ninety-three pitches, I’d say he didn’t do too badly yesterday.

I have to think the offense shoulders the responsibility for that one.  Gavin Floyd was bidding for a perfect game two outs into the sixth inning.  And it is just so painful and humiliating to be on the receiving end of one of those that you’re watching it and trying to implement every jinx known to man.  But I’ll say this: it’s ridiculous how many perfect innings White Sox pitchers have thrown, between Mark Buehrle and now Floyd.  Anyway, Nick Green took care of that with a very decisive single to center field.  Unfortunately, as often occurs, the White Sox did not completely fall apart after that and lose in slugfest fashion.

Our sole RBI came courtesy of Bay going yard to lead off the eighth inning.  His thirty-first of the season deposited all eighty-nine miles per hour of that ball a few rows up the left center stands.  I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Theo Epstein needs to resign Jason Bay in the offseason.  Period.

Other than that, V-Mart doubled.  So Floyd and Bobby Jenks just three-hit us.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we are not happy.  I certainly am not happy.  We went 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position and left three men on base.  Pathetic.

Ramirez finally had a decent appearance in the seventh.  No runs, no hits, no walks, ten pitches, seven of them strikes.  But Okajima let Paul Konerko hit one out for the fifth run of the night.

Congratulations to Mikey Lowell, who was nominated for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award by his teammates! Dice-K might make one more rehab start before he returns, but for that to happen, Salem and Greenville, two of the Red Sox’ single-A affiliates, would need to have a playoff game on Wednesday to fit Dice-K’s schedule and Tim Wakefield’s back would have to give out again.  I’m okay with the former but definitely don’t want the latter to occur.

Eyes on the prize.  The Rangers lost yesterday, so our lead atop the Wild Card standings remains at two.  The bad news is that the Yanks’ lead atop the division stands at eight and a half.  That’s really bad.  And we were doing so well for a stretch about a week ago, when we were scoring runs right and left while the pitching staff was making some strides in finding its footing.  At this point, I’d say the best way to remedy the situation is to play better.  It’s simple, it’s obvious, but it just might work.  What else can you hope for? It just doesn’t seem like there’s one thing wrong with us.  When we score a lot of runs, the pitchers erase the effort.  When the pitchers pitch well, we don’t score anything.  We need to play better by scoring runs and pitching well at the same time.  And we need to do it consistently.  It’s the beginning of September, so we still have time, and I have a feeling that in a week or two the second wind of autumn and the adrenaline rush of the approach of October will work its magic and help us out, because getting to October won’t do much unless we can make it count.  In the meantime, Lester at John Danks.  That’s one step in the right direction.

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Make no mistake.  That was, without a doubt, Dice-K’s best start this season.  (For his part, Mike Timlin was perfect in the ninth.) He pitched eight shutout innings of two-hit ball, walking two and fanning seven.  62.5% of his 104 pitches were strikes, and he had a good mix of groundouts, flyouts, and strikeouts.  He improves to 16-2 with a 2.82 ERA and continues to make a strong case for winning the Cy Young.  Houdini definitely struck again, and this officially proves that Dice-K is the ace of the 2008 pitching staff.

We out-hit the other Sox, 15-2, with no errors, and the final score was a whopping 8-0.  One RBI each for Papi and Kotsay and three each for Youk and Bay.  Papi went three for four with a walk, and Kotsay has fit in quite nicely.  In less than 48 hours he went from playing on cruise control in the National League to battling for a pennant in the American League East.  That’s not easy.  He’s already hit for extra bases with us, he’s excellent defensively, and he’s a great presence in the clubhouse.  Youk went two for four and is hitting at .318.  It should be mentioned that Jason Varitek, el capitan, went two for four and is now hitting at .228.  It’s still a low average, but lately he’s been singling right and left.  And for someone who hadn’t done much offensively up until this point I’ll take that any day.  Ellsbury did his part with a sparkling catch in the first inning.

The real offensive spotlight goes to Pedey.  Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah, ladies and gentlemen! Four for four.  One walk.  Three runs.  Zero strikeouts.  Two stolen bases for fourteen out of fifteen on the season.  Currently hitting at .322.  Fielding percentage of .990.  What we have here is a hitting, stealing, scoring, and fielding machine.  With 104 runs scored, he breaks Bobby Doerr’s record for most runs scored by a Red Sox second baseman in a single season, which stood at 103.  I mean look at him; he’s got one powerful swing, and pitchers just can not get him out.  Rookie of the Year to starting All-Star to perhaps Most Valuable Player.  If I were you, I’d start those MVP chants now.

In other news, Coco Crisp might have the flu and instant replay debuted at Fenway last night.  There’s a locked box and a secure telephone in a room behind the Red Sox dugout.  The crew chief goes in there, calls MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York, and requests footage of the questionable play.  The MLB technician transmits the appropriate footage to the monitor so that the crew chief can make the right call.  The reviewing process should take two to three minutes.  PawSox starter Michael Bowden will be making his Major League debut tonight opposite Mark Buerhle; he’s 9-7 in the minors with a 2.62 ERA.  Last but not least, Josh Beckett is in fact on the fifteen-day DL.  Dr. Andrews cleared him and said his ulnar collateral ligament was fine but he’s on the DL anyway.  Call me crazy, but I think that’s smart.  The man’s been pitching with an inflamed right elbow all season, and he could use the extra rest.  This is similar to Manny’s oblique problem at the end of last season.  True, it’s not exactly the same situation, I mean this time last year we were in first place, but we’re playing first place ball right now, and Manny’s stint on the DL did him a world of good.  I think some solid down time for Beckett could be just what he needs to get his stuff going again.  Plus his going on the DL has allowed us to bring up catcher David Ross ahead of schedule.  So maybe Beckett isn’t the one playing the role of ace this year.  We’re still in good shape, and we’ve got a whole lot to be happy about.

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