Posts Tagged ‘New England Sports Ventures’

We are now a mere five days away from the start of what could be our first hundred-win season in sixty-four years.  This is the part where everyone starts speculating about who’s better, us or the Yankees or the Rays.  That’s a ridiculous thing to do.  We have our guys who play our game, and that’s how we intend to win.  It doesn’t matter who the opponent is.  Our goal is to be better than everybody.  And we are.  And we will be.  Five more days.  Only five more days.

On Sunday, we lost to the Cards, 10-3, but it actually was not Dice-K’s fault.  I repeat: it was not Dice-K’s fault.  It’s so refreshing to be able to say that.  He pitched shutout ball through five innings against a lineup that did include several regulars, including Pujols and Holliday.  With two outs in the sixth, Pujols walked, Holliday doubled, and Dice-K was pulled.  His line was two runs on three hits.  He struck out four, three looking, and walked two for his second consecutive good start.  Miller came on in relief and was horrible; a walk, another walk with the bases loaded, and six runs on four hits.  Atchison replaced Miller and didn’t fare much better.  Most of the damage was done by Pujols and Holliday alone.

We lost to the Phillies, 4-1, on Monday.  It was Lester’s last lengthy start of spring.  He pitched five and a third innings.  He cruised through the first five.  He actually had a no-hitter going until Roy Halladay of all people hit a single with two out in the inning.  Not so much in that one third.  He ended up giving up four runs, three earned, on five hits while walking four and striking out six.  He threw fifty-six of ninety-eight pitches for strikes.  Twenty-five of those pitches were thrown in that sixth inning alone.  Meanwhile, Paps, Bard, Jenks, and Doubront got some throwing time in.

We lost again on Tuesday, to the Rays, 7-4.  Lackey wasn’t at his best; he gave up five runs on six hits over five and a third innings while walking two and striking out four.  He threw sixty-seven of ninety-six pitches for strikes.  Pedroia hit two doubles, and Tek went two for three and threw out a runner.

Wednesday was the team’s only day off this spring.  Gonzalez took the opportunity to DH in a minor league game.  He made extremely solid contact in each at-bat and went three for six with an RBI and a run.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

Thursday was not a good day for Buchholz.  He may have thrown eighty-two pitches against the Marlins and struck out five, but he gave up eleven runs, six earned, on eleven hits, four of which were homers, over four innings, leading to our 15-7 loss.  It was a total implosion.  Salty was the bright spot with four RBIs on three hits, a homer and two doubles.  Ellsbury also went deep.

We put the regulars in on Friday but to no avail.  We lost to the Jays, 11-8.  Corey Patterson had to leave after getting hit in the back of the head by a Bard fastball.  Luckily, he walked off the field, and he appears to be alright.  Five members of our starting lineup posted two-hit games.  Beckett, however, gave up seven runs on eleven hits over six-and-change frames.

The Twins beat us, 9-8, on Saturday.  It was all Jenks’s fault.  He was truly terrible for the first time this spring.  He gave up six runs in the ninth.  Dice-K was the opposite; he gave up one run on five hits with a walk and four K’s over six innings.  He threw sixty-three of ninety-four pitches for strikes.  Gonzalez went two for three with his first homer for us.  Okajima delivered a scoreless seventh.  That brings our losing streak to nine.  Oh, Spring Training.

Roster cuts this week included Daniel Nava, Matt Fox, and Mark Wagner.  The bullpen competition looks like it’s going down to the wire.  Gonzalez’s agent has starting to talk extension with Theo.  Gonzalez’s agent is John Boggs, not Scott Boras, so I actually believe him when he says that an extension should be finalized sometime next month.

New England Sports Ventures changed its name to Fenway Sports Group.  I take that as John Henry reassuring everyone that the Red Sox are his top priority.  Honestly, I never really doubted that.  And Pedro Martinez’s portrait will be added to the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.  Susan Miller-Havens painted him in his Dominican Republic uniform.  Well, he was as interesting a character as he was a baseball player, that’s for sure.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Devils and the Rangers.  But between those two losses was a win so epic and golden that it almost makes you forget them and just focus on the fact that we’re about to clinch a playoff spot.  We soundly thumped the Habs, seven-zip.  You read right.  They had absolutely no chance whatsoever.  And I hope we meet them in the playoffs so we can do it again when it counts even more.  We’re playing the Flyers tonight.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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The stove isn’t hot yet, but it’s definitely getting there.  The Rays lost to the Rangers, so their playoff run is officially over.  Take one last look at the 2010 Rays, folks, because I guarantee you that the team that plays for Tampa Bay next year will be completely different, and I most definitely do not mean that in a good way.  Tampa Bay has been good because their young talent has come through.  But young talent on a mediocre and altogether insignificant team is a recipe for disaster because you can pretty much bet anything that all of them will be writing one-way tickets out of there the first chance they get.  Carl Crawford, for example, will file for free agency this year.

That brings us to a discussion of our outfield.  If you had to pick an area of the team with obvious holes, that’s not necessarily the first one that comes to mind (that honor obviously goes to the bullpen), but it is an area where we can improve.  Drew didn’t have his best season this year.  Ellsbury was injured.  In 2011, I expect to see Drew in right and Ellsbury in center.  Technically, that’s supposed to be Cameron’s territory, but after this year it’s unclear whether we want to or can expect Cameron to man it.  Conceivably, he could split time with Kalish, but in order to become the superstar outfielder he will obviously be, he needs to finish his work on the farm.  Cameron was supposed to be our starter this year, but between injuries and days off, that never happened.  He certainly had his flashes of brilliance, but flashes of brilliance alone doth not a good starter make.

Therefore, Crawford is on the radar.  So is Jayson Werth.  Upon first glance, one would naturally assume that Crawford is vastly superior to Werth and there should be absolutely no debate.  Crawford runs.  Crawford hits.  Left.  Crawford fields.  Crawford is young.  Crawford plays in the AL East.  This year, Crawford batted .296 with nineteen home runs, a career high and ninety RBIs, another career high, and he posted 110 runs, a third career high, and forty-seven steals.  His only conspicuously mediocre stat is his OPS of .781.  Without that OPS, we bat him third after Ellsbury and Pedroia; that left-right-left combination to open every inning would be deadly.  With that OPS, there’s no way he’s batting third.

Werth also deserves some consideration.  A very obvious con is that he comes from the National League; true, he comes from the NL East, which is about as close as any NL division would ever get to the AL East, but still.  He’s not as young as Crawford.  He’s also not as athletic.  But he’s still good.  He plays our style of offense.  He’s patient at the plate.  He hits for extra bases.  His OPS since 2008 is .889, during which time he averaged .279 with thirty-two home runs and ninety-one RBIs per season.  He’s coming off a season during which he hit righties thirteen average points better than lefties.  All of which is to say that he was born to bat fifth.  He also stole home last season, so while he isn’t as speedy or agile as Crawford, you can’t steal home straight without having some serious athletic skills of your own.  And he comes from a big-market team with competitive fans, a playing experience that Crawford basically knows absolutely nothing about.  Ultimately, the argument can be made that he has all five tools.

In terms of coin, it would be easier to work a deal with Werth than with Crawford.  The Yankees won’t be likely to chase either, but if they had to pick one, they’d pick Crawford, and they’d offer him years.  We don’t like to offer years, and rightly so.  We also are unlikely to be willing to even remotely overpay for either of them since, like I said, we have bigger problems than our outfield.  But they’re definitely going to be on the radar this offseason.

Apparently, McDonald had been playing with a thumb injury for quite some time.  That’s a dirt dog right there.  In fact, his was the same injury that sidelined Salty.  He’s expected to be ready to go by Spring Training.  Speaking of Salty, we re-signed him for a year.

John Henry’s New England Sports Ventures group has just purchased the Liverpool Football Club.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  If anyone can handle everything, John Henry can.  It’s not like he told the front office it has to service two different teams of two different sports in two different countries on two different continents.  We have our front office, and they have their front office.  Just because the two teams have the same owner doesn’t mean our performance will suffer.  I think he’s more than proven at this point that we are the priority.  If he wants to have a side venture, by all means.  At the end of the day, he’s got his eyes on the right prize.


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