Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota Wild’

Pitchers and catchers officially reported on Sunday.  Fortunately, since we have a lot of badness to put behind us, most of our key pitchers were already down there, and that’s the way it should be.  The season isn’t going to win itself.  But we as Red Sox Nation can be ecstatic about that because it means that we’re one step closer to Spring Training, which is one step closer to the regular season, which is one step closer to having baseball return after a long winter and to putting last season behind us.

Compensation for Theo has officially been hammered out.  We’re getting Chris Carpenter – the prospect, not the Cy Young winner – and a player to be named later in exchange for a player to be named later.  Congratulations.  It only took four months to get this done.

Speaking of Theo, John Henry apologized to Crawford for stating on WEEI that he was against signing Crawford but did it anyway because Theo wanted to.  Crawford apparently apologized to John Henry for his horrendous season in return.  The brass also took ownership of last season’s collapse.  Well, apologies are all well and good, and it’s nice that people are owning up to things and being accountable, but we’ve got a new season on our hands that I think we should get to focusing on.

Rich Hill is on the roster.  Lackey is on the sixty-day DL.

In other news, the B’s were shut out by the Wild but bounced back with wins over the Blues and Sens; we also lost a shootout to the Sabres but at least we got a point out of it.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Wow.  Quietest.  Baseball week.  Ever.  It’s like last week; after all the moves we made, what could possibly have happened this week? The only big question I can think of concerning our starters is the shortstop question, and that’s not even a big question.  I think it’s already basically decided that Scutaro will start and Lowrie will serve as backup.  Lowrie is basically the ultimate utility man, and he won’t be for long.  He’s unquestionably starter material.  So he’s going to need playing time, because when he’s hot, he’s hot.  So it’s one of those things that you can debate and debate and debate, but at the end of the day, the veteran will get the nod to start after Spring Training and it could all change a few weeks into the season.  Maybe someone gets injured.  Maybe someone gets a day off.  Maybe adjustments need to be made for a lefty or a righty.  You never know.

Basically, it all comes down to the fact that we’re almost at pitchers and catchers.  Almost.  Right now we’ve come to the worst part of the winter: the home stretch.  This year has been a long one for obvious reasons, and that little bit more is just unbearable.  The team is finalized; we’re ready to go.  And yet we’ve got a little more than a month left.  Well.  There’s nothing we can do about it except wait.  Which, in and of itself, is absolutely torturous.  Opening Day is going to be epic.  Meanwhile, there’s absolutely nothing to be done.  It’s just painful.

We have officially entered the period of arbitration; players have until Saturday to file.  Paps and Ellsbury are both eligible.  Meanwhile, Theo has never gone to arbitration for any player in any of his first eight seasons as Boston’s GM.  Not once.  That’s impressive.  And it’ll be more impressive if he can do it again this year, especially given who’s eligible.  I think the emphasis here is on Paps.  Arbitration has the potential to get ugly for him.  So hopefully we just avoid that and everyone stays happy.

You may remember Max Ramirez, the catching prospect we tried to land from the Rangers in exchange for Mike Lowell.  We just claimed him off waivers.  The Mets took Taylor Buchholz.  Technically this isn’t so relevant to us anymore, but just as a point of interest, Beltre finally signed.  He signed a six-year deal with the Rangers worth ninety-six million dollars.  That’s a lot of years and a lot of money.  Despite the two back-to-back Gold Gloves, his defense is far from spotless, and despite his uncanny success within the confines of Fenway, he’s not exactly the Cliff Lee of hitting depending on the park.  But the Rangers lost Cliff Lee, so I guess something had to be done.  Beltre had a great year, and if he continues his production, he could be a big asset to the Rangers.  Only for about the first half of his contract, of course, but hey, at least now they have some stability at the hot corner.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Leafs by one and lost to the Wild by two.  And we dropped yesterday’s game to the Habs by one in sudden death.  At least we get a point.  But it was infuriating.  We scored two in the second and carried that lead into the third.  But then they tied it and the rest is history.  We are now tied with them for first in the division.  I don’t like to be tied with the Habs for first in the division.  As long as we’re ahead, I actually don’t like to be anywhere near the Habs, ever.  So we’ll need to just get some wins and be done with it.  Meanwhile, the Pats have a bye this week, but we’re playing the Jets on Sunday.  This is going to be fun.  I’m psyched.

Boston Globe Staff/Bill Greene

Read Full Post »

Congratulations to Joe Mauer on winning the American League’s MVP award.  Youk and Bay didn’t fair too badly, taking sixth and seventh respectively, but they didn’t have the .365 average with the twenty-eight home runs and ninety-six RBIs to go with the starting catcher position.  Mauer took all but one first-place votes and was only the second catcher to win it in thirty-three years.  (It’s no secret that catchers usually can’t hit.  Which explains why Victor Martinez is next season’s top priority.) And those numbers also earned him the Ted Williams Award, given to baseball’s leading hitter.  And of course who but Albert Pujols won it for the National League.  Obviously.

Jonathan Papelbon was the club’s Fireman of the Year.  Daniel Bard was the club’s Rookie of the Year.  Nick Green won the Jackie Jensen Award for spirit and determination, and let me tell you something: any shortstop who goes from non-roster invitee to four-month starter has no shortage of spirit and determination.

As far as the stove is concerned, it’s still not too hot.  We acquired Royals infielder Tug Hulett for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Alex Gonzalez signed a one-year deal with the Jays for about three million dollars, with a club option for two and a half million.  Now that he’s unfortunately out of the picture, we’re showing interest in Marco Scutaro, who says it’s either us or the Dodgers.  We’re also shopping Mike Lowell.  Surprise, surprise.  Even if we do end up shipping him off, it won’t even be a fair deal, because the recipient club would be getting a top-notch, albeit health-wise unpredictable, third baseman for fifty percent off, because we’d have to swallow at least that much of his salary to make him palatable.  It’s really just sad.  He had a phenomenal season (and postseason) in 2007 and amble moments of brilliance in 2008, especially in the ALDS.  But he is getting older, and that was in California where the weather is warmer, so perhaps a team from a city with a warmer climate would be a better fit for him.

But a few big names have surfaced.  The Tigers are apparently interested in trading Miguel Cabrera (with Detroit’s financial situation, who wouldn’t be?), and we’ll probably get first dibs.  Also, it’s official: we are going for Roy Halladay and going big.  The problem is that, to close both of these deals, we’ll almost certainly have to part with Clay Buchholz.  We’d also have to part with Casey Kelly, at least, to land Halladay.  And after the performance Clay Buchholz gave in Game Three of the ALDS (walking into an elimination game as a young pitcher with no postseason experience after having seen the lineup put up zero run support), I don’t know how comfortable I would be with giving him up.  I think we owe it to him, the organization, and ourselves to see more of what he’s got before we decide that he is not, in fact, one of the greats in the making.  But the plot thickens: Halladay said he’d waive his no-trade clause to go to the Bronx.  I’m not saying we should engage in prevention via irresponsible acquisition, but I am saying that we need to weigh our actions very carefully.  Especially since Halladay is getting older.  That’s something that seems to be lost amidst the sensation of it all.  The man is not immortal.  He ages.  And while he ages, his abilities will decline.  And right now, he’s at a point in his career where we can expect his next four or five years to be considerably different from his last four or five.

Turns out that Ron Johnson is not our new bench coach.  DeMarlo Hale is.  Ron Johnson joined the Major League staff to coach at first in replacement of Hale.  I have to say I feel more comfortable with Hale as bench coach than I did when I thought Johnson would be doing it.  Not that I don’t think Johnson would be a good bench coach, but if we’re talking about the importance of knowing the players and the franchise inside-out, Hale, who’s been coaching first base for a while now, clearly has the edge there.

At the end of my recent posts, I’ve usually said something like, “All we can do now is wait and see.” I say that because it’s true.  But it’s also true that the suspense is killing me.  I keep getting this feeling that the offseason won’t come to a close until Theo Epstein does something big, but I can’t figure out what that’ll be.  A trade? A signing? Another starting pitcher? A new power hitter? It’s too hard and too early to tell.  But one thing’s for sure: something’s definitely brewing.  The front office has something up its sleeve.  The foundations have been laid for some sort of shake-up, even if we can’t quite figure out what it’ll be.

But before we conclude, I would like to report that Bud Selig will be retiring after the 2012 season.  It’s been one interesting ride.  He was named acting commissioner in 1992 and official commissioner in 1998, and since then we’ve seen a growth in the baseball market, an expansion of the postseason via the Wild Card, the introduction of revenue sharing, Interleague, a players’ strike, the first World Series cancellation since 1904 (ten years shy of a century), and the steroid era.  There was good, there was bad, and there was most definitely ugly.  What do we need in a successor? That’s an extremely open-ended question, but whoever it is will be charged with the difficult task of cleaning up baseball’s public image.  So much controversy occurred during Selig’s tenure that MLB will probably look to someone with a hard-line streak, someone who can keep the sport in line while still bringing revenue in.  We’ll see what happens.

The B’s beat the Blues, Wild, and Sens and lost to the Devils in sudden death.  The Pats beat the Jets.

AP Photo

Read Full Post »

We celebrated the fifth anniversary of our complete and total decimation of the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS on Tuesday.  Just thinking about that 10-3 final score gives me goosebumps.  That was the greatest day in the history of New England for all of a week before we won it all.  World champions.  I said this at the time, and I say it every year, because it’s true: it never gets old.  No matter how many wins anyone else may be able to rack up, none of them will ever measure up to 2004.  Ever.  And no defeat will ever be as painful as the one the Yankees experienced.  There’s a reason why it’s called the greatest comeback in the history of baseball.  And I wouldn’t have wanted to get to the big stage any other way.

Meanwhile, Tim Bogar and Brad Mills interviewed for the Astros’ managerial job.  That’s not something I want to hear.  Mills has been our bench coach for the past six seasons, and he’s done a great job.  Obviously I’m rooting for his success, but I just hope that success is achieved in Boston, not in Houston.

And supposedly we’re chasing Adrian Gonzalez via trade.  This could get very interesting, very quickly.  At twenty-seven years of age, he hit forty home runs, batted in ninety-nine RBIs this year, led the Major Leagues in walks, and finished the season with a .407 on-base percentage.  But wait; the plot thickens.  One of our assistant GMs, Jed Hoyer, is about to become the Padres’ GM.  (This leaves Ben Cherington as our only assistant GM.  The decision is likely to be announced in the next few days.  Bud Selig doesn’t want clubs making such major announcements during the World Series, so it’ll happen beforehand, especially since Hoyer will need to get his personnel in place and prepare for the GMs meeting starting on November 9.) So if one of them lands the job, our options become wide-open, and the road to the trade just got re-paved.  The important question here is who is on the block.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Mike Lowell and prospects; Youk would then move to third permanently while Gonzalez plays first.  But I don’t know if the Padres would bite.  I think it’s safe to say Youk won’t be going anywhere; he’s too good at the plate and in the field.  And I don’t think Pedroia even enters into this discussion.  So I think Lowell, prospects, and bench players are up for grabs.

Speaking of Pedroia, check this out.  During his MVP season, he swung at the first pitch fifteen percent of the time.  This past year, that stat was down to seven percent.  Furthermore, during his MVP season he hit .306 with eight doubles and two dingers on the first pitch.  This past year, he hit .167 with four hits, period.  And if you don’t consider his one-pitch at-bats, his numbers from the two season are almost exactly the same.  But there’s a trade-off.  With more patience came twenty-four more walks and a comparable on-base percentage despite the thirty-point drop in average.  And while we’re on the subject of examining the season via stats, the only Red Sox catcher since 1954 who’s had a better average in September than Victor Martinez is Carlton Fisk.  Just to give you an idea of how ridiculously awesome V-Mart is.  Youk has had the highest OPS in the American League since 2008.  (It’s .960, a full ten points higher than A-Rod’s.  I’m just sayin’.) Jacoby Ellsbury is one of only six since 1915 to bat over .300 with forty-five extra-base hits and seventy steals; the other five are Ty Cobb, Rickey Henderson, Willie Wilson, Tim Raines, and Kenny Lofton.  David Ortiz hit more home runs than anyone in the AL since June 6, but only six of those were hit with runners in scoring position and struggled immensely against lefties.  In three of his past four seasons, Jason Bay has experienced a slump starting sometime in June and ending sometime in July that lasts for about a month.

Saito cleared waivers on Monday, but mutual interest in his return has been expressed.  Why not? He finished the year with a 2.43 ERA, the eighth-lowest in the Majors for a reliever with forty-plus appearances.  Wakefield had surgery at Mass General on Wednesday to repair a herniated disk in his back.  The surgery was successful, he’ll begin rehab immediately, and expect him to be pitching before Spring Training.

In other news, Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt fired his wife, Jamie, from her position as CEO of the organization.  Ouch.  Now she’s amassing an army of investors in an effort to possibly buy out her husband.  Ouch times two.  This could potentially ruin the team; when the organization’s top officials are preoccupied with marriage and ownership disputes, it’s harder to focus on free agency, harder to allocate funds to the right players, and therefore harder to be good.  Not that I’m complaining; Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez blew it this year and I’m looking forward to the Dodgers dropping down in the standings.

That’s a wrap for this week.  Not too much goes on until the stove gets hot, but this is when Theo gets his winter game plan together.  If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that he’ll be making some serious moves.  After a postseason finish like ours, that’s really the only thing you can do.

The Pats crushed the Titans last weekend.  Seriously.  The final score was 59-0.  It was ridiculous.  The Bruins, on the other hand, could do better.  We lost to Phoenix, shut out Dallas, lost a shootout to the Flyers, and won a shootout to the Senators.  We traded Chuck Kobasew to the Wild for right winger Craig Weller, still in the AHL; rights to forward Alex Fallstrom, a freshman at Harvard; and a second-round draft pick in 2011.  So it could be a while before we see a return on this move, but it freed cap space in preparation for next offseason, when Tuukka Rask, Blake Wheeler, and Marc Savard all hit the free agent market.  And make no mistake: Peter Chiarelli was sending a message.  If you underperform, you’re gone, because we can use the financial flexibility of a trade to make us more competitive than you’re making us right now.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

Read Full Post »

With our win last night, our streak reaches eleven games, our longest since the twelve-gamer from June 16 to June 29 in 2006.  Hopefully we’ll be able to overtake that in more ways than one; make this streak even longer and, at the very least, make the playoffs this year, something that didn’t happen three years ago.  That was just a bad second half.  I love baseball just as much as anybody, but that was ugly.  I’m telling you, you just couldn’t wait for that to be over.

Last night was a good game.  It was a pitchers’ duel, that’s for sure.  At least for a while.  And this is Wakefield’s third quality start.  I don’t know how it happens, but he seems to be getting better with age.  Every outing for the last three he’s become more consistent.  There’s a trend I’d love to see continue.  He one-hit the Tribe for seven shutout innings with four walks and five K’s.  His ERA is 1.86.  I can’t remember the last time I saw the name “Tim Wakefield” associated with an ERA under 2.00.  I mean he’s fourth in the American League.  And if he keeps pitching like this the only place it has to go is down.  I mean it just keeps dropping.  It’s remarkable.  Which makes it that much more unfortunate that he didn’t get the win.

Delcarmen pitched a perfect eight and Papelbon a not-so-perfect ninth.  A run on three hits and two K’s will raise his ERA to 1.93.  His last few outings haven’t been great.  You might say it’s only one run, but think about that for a second.  Papelbon’s our closer.  If this game had been tied, that one run would’ve been a walkoff for Cleveland.  You can’t have that from your closer, even if you can afford it.  I don’t think this will last, though.  Papelbon has a rough patch or two every season and then it’s smooth sailing.  Delcarmen got the win, and Paps picked up another save.

As far as the offense goes, it was a one-man show.  Jason Bay, folks.  Jason Bay.  A ninth-inning rocket of a home run off Kerry Wood.  One out, two on, and then three in.  And that was the ballgame.  The final score was 3-1.  Bay actually had a great night, finishing at three for four, and every hit was hit hard.  Let’s go through his numbers, shall we? .344 average, .705 slugging percentage, five home runs, nineteen RBIs, twenty walks.  That is insane.  I mean, yes, that is just insane.  Ortiz finished at two for four, and those were the only two multi-hit performances of the game.  In fact, only three other guys got hits at all: Lowell, Bailey, and Green.  That was it.  So in the interest of sportsmanship I’ll tip my hat to Cliff Lee on holding us at bay.  Almost.  Wow, the puns just keep coming and coming.

Ellsbury did not get a hit and actually struck out three times, but he did make an absolutely spectacular catch in the sixth on the run.  Very tough play, but if anyone can do it, he can.

Julio Lugo is back in action for us.  And I’m glad he’s back, because you never want any of your guys to be injured.  But that’s pretty much the only reason why I’m glad he’s back.  Nick Green is great.  Jed Lowrie, once he gets out of his slump, will be great.  I just hope Lugo has it in him to be great.  Mike Dee, our Chief Operating Officer, is leaving to become the CEO of the Miami Dolphins.  I personally don’t understand why anyone would want to make a move like that, but hey.  Red Sox Nation and I thank you for all of your hard work, dedication, and service to our team.  You’ll be missed.  I just hope we have someone waiting in the wings who’s good.  Curt Smith of the Norwich Bulletin called the new Yankee Stadium “The House that Greed Built.” Brilliant.  I love it.

In other news, Timmy Thomas is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy along with the Wild’s Niklas Backstrom and the Blue Jackets’ Steve Mason.  They’re all worthy opponents.  Backstrom basically carried the Wild on his back for most of the season, and you could argue that Mason is the only reason why the Blue Jackets are even in the playoffs at all.  But Timmy Thomas is the best goalie in the entire National Hockey League.  So in the interest of sportsmanship I tip my hat, but it’s a lock.

So onward and forward we go.  If we win tonight we tie our longest winning streak in three years, but I think we have it in us to extend it much longer than that.  Maybe break the all-time record? We’ll see.  One game at a time; Penny at Reyes first.

AP Photo

Read Full Post »