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Posts Tagged ‘New York Giants’

This was an epic week.  It was an epic, epic week.

Last Saturday, we bested the Other Sox in a big way.  Peavy pitched seven innings and gave up only two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four; Breslow pitched the eighth, and Britton pitched the ninth.  Those two runs were the result of a single-force out combination in the third and a single-single combination in the fourth.  But we scored more.  In the first, Ellsbury singled and scored on a single by Napoli.  Napoli and Gomes hit back-to-back doubles in the third.  And two singles, a double, two groundouts, and another single yielded another three runs in the fourth.  Gomes singled and scored on a single by Bogaerts in the fifth.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases in the sixth, and a wild pitch brought in the game’s last run for a final score of 7-2.

We managed to walk away with a win last Sunday as well.  Doubront gave up four runs on seven hits in less than four innings of work, and the rest of the game was pitched by Workman, who got the win, as well as Morales, Tazawa, Breslow, and Uehara, who got the save.  Workman and Breslow each allowed one run of their own, but fortunately, yet again we scored more.  Carp singled, Salty walked, and both scored on a single by Ellsbury in the second; Victorino and Pedroia both walked, and Ellsbury and Victorino scored on a double by Papi.  Drew hit a solo shot in the third.  And Ellsbury walked and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fourth with a little help from a throwing error.

We began our series with Detroit on Monday with a loss, which was unfortunate because Lackey pitched really well, giving up only three runs in over seven innings of work.  We lost because we got shut out.  Again.  It was just one of those days where good pitching happened to coincide with bad, or in this case nonexistent, hitting.

Tuesday’s game went a lot better; good pitching coincided with good pitching, and a lack of hitting coincided with a lack of hitting, but we did that much better to pull it off.  Specifically, we did one run better, winning by a final score of 2-1.  The game was literally won in the fifth inning, when Gomes singled, Drew doubled, and both scored on a single by Middlebrooks.  Lester gave up only one run in seven innings, and the relief corps, featuring appearances by four pitchers, held it together.

But I have to say that the highlight of this past week was unquestionably our epic victory over the Tigers on Wednesday, during which we scored a whopping twenty runs.  That’s right.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Let me repeat that.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Wow.  With that run total alone, we could have won every game for at least a week.  Dempster started that one and gave up those four runs in his six innings; Workman, Morales, and De La Rosa each pitched an inning after that.  But that offensive performance was supremely epic.  Epic, epic, epic.  The only member of the starting lineup not to have gotten at least one hit was Pedroia, and even he managed to bat in a run.  We put twenty-five base runners on the field that day, and only five did not step on home plate.  The only inning in which we didn’t score was the first.  In the second, Nava singled and Drew homered.  In the third, Ellsbury homered.  Papi led off the fourth with a homer.  Victorino singled and scored on Pedroia’s sac fly in the fifth.  And then came the sixth, which was one of the biggest and most massive innings I have ever seen.  We scored eight runs in the sixth inning alone; that’s more than we’ve scored in some games and even over the course of several games combined.  It was absolutely amazing.  First, Nava walked, Napoli doubled, and Drew walked intentionally to load the bases with nobody out.  Then Carp came in to pinch-hit and ended up walking, which scored a run.  Then Detroit made a pitching change, and Middlebrooks proceeded to welcome the new pitcher to the game by going hard on the second pitch of the at-bat for a grand slam.  Yeah.  A grand slam.  Like I said, it was epic.  Then Ellsbury struck out, Victorino got hit, Pedroia struck out, Papi doubled in another run, and Nava’s homer accounted for another two.  Like I said, it was epic.  We followed our eight-run sixth with a five-run seventh.  Drew doubled, and then Middlebrooks was awarded the home run that he deserved after a review.  Then Middlebrooks doubled and scored on a single by Quintin Berry, who came in to pinch-run for Victorino in the previous inning.  And then Papi homered for another two runs.  And then Napoli led off the eighth with a homer.  Those eight home runs in a single game, a feat previously achieved in 1977, tied a club record.  It was the first time any team had done it since 2010.  (Interestingly, we played the Blue Jays in that ’77 game, and it was the Blue Jays who did it in 2010.) It was also a banner day for Papi, who collected his two thousandth hit in the process and who deserved every second of the standing ovation that he received.  He also passed Billy Williams for forty-seventh on the all-time homer list.

We carried that offensive momentum with us right into our next win.  We started our series with the Evil Empire on Thursday, and the final score was 9-8.  Peavy gave up four runs in six innings, Thornton gave up another two, and Tazawa blew his save by giving up another two.  Then Breslow was awarded the win, and Uehara was awarded the save.  We needed ten innings to get it done, but the fact that we got it done was the greatest part.  Lavarnway and Middlebrooks led off the third with a pair of singles, and Lavarnway scored on a double by Ellsbury while Middlebrooks scored on a groundout by Victorino.  Middlebrooks homered in the fourth.  Victorino led off the fifth with a homer; then, Pedroia, Papi, and Nava loaded the bases with nobody out with two singles and a walk.  Pedroia scored on a single by Napoli, and Papi scored on a force out by Lavarnway.  Nava doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway in the seventh.  The bottom of the seventh was an enormous mess, during which the blown save occurred; fortunately, with two out in the ninth, Napoli singled and scored on a single by Drew.  With one out in the tenth, Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored the winning run on a single by Victorino.

The same good things can be said about Friday’s game, which, thanks in large part to the Yankees’ bullpen, we won, 9-8.  Doubront himself actually gave up six runs on six walks and three hits, one of which was a home run.  But our bullpen held it together.  Meanwhile, Napoli led off the second with a single and scored on a single by David Ross.  Napoli led off the fourth with a double and scored on a groundout by Drew.  Middlebrooks led off the fifth with a solo shot.  And then we scored another five runs in the seventh inning alone, during which the Yanks went through three pitching changes.  Ross singled, Middlebrooks flied out, Victorino singled, and Carp walked to load the bases.  Pedroia singled in Ross, which kept the bases loaded, and after Papi struck out, Napoli worked the count full after receiving seven pitches but went yard in a huge way on the eighth pitch, delivering an enormously massive grand slam.  I can’t even describe the awesomeness of it all.  And we weren’t even done.  With one out in the eighth, Middlebrooks singled and then Victorino homered them both in.  Carp singled, Pedroia grounded out, and Papi and Napoli each walked.  Nava walked in one run, and Drew singled in another.

Yesterday, we enjoyed yet another high scoring performance, winning 13-9.  Lackey lasted less than six innings and gave up seven runs on eight hits, and then Britton, one of four relievers that we had to sent out, allowed two runs of his own.  But, in keeping with the week’s theme, we scored more.  Papi led off the second with a double, and Napoli followed with a home run.  Bogaerts led off the third with a double, Victorino got hit, and then it was Gomes who homered.  We had four straight scoring plays in the fourth, after Middlebrooks and Bradley led it off with two singles: Lavarnway doubled, Bogaerts grounded out, Victorino doubled, and Gomes singled.  And then Pedroia doubled and Papi hit a sac fly.  Each of those scoring plays accounted for one run.  Bradley walked in the fifth, and one out later, Bogaerts hit a two-run shot.  And then Napoli homered in the ninth.

We played very well yesterday also, but it wasn’t good enough.  This one was evenly matched, but the wrong team came out on top.  Lester turned in a quality start, giving up only three runs over the course of eight innings.  But they just scored one more run than we did.  Papi and Carp led off the second with back-to-back doubles that accounted for our first run, and Papi doubled and scored on Salty’s groundout in the sixth.  And then Middlebrooks delivered in a big way, smacking a game-tying solo shot to lead off the ninth.  But Workman’s not-so-excellent work in the bottom of the inning did us in.  He looked great at first, but between the first two outs of the frame, he allowed a single, which became important when he issued a wild pitch that brought the runner in.  And so we lost, 4-3.

And, as if our awesome performances were not awesome enough, we find ourselves in first place in the AL East, eight and a half games above Tampa Bay.  (The Yankees, might I add, are eleven games out of first, which is good for fourth in our division, and at this moment, they are not even in the running for the Wild Card.) We also have the best winning percentage in the entire Major Leagues.  And that’s a great place to be.

In other news, the Patriots played the first regular-season game of the year yesterday! We beat the Bills, 23-21, in a real nailbiter that went right down to the wire.  We went 3-1 in preseason, beating the Eagles, 31-22, and then the Buccaneers, 25-21, and after losing to the Lions, 40-9, which was especially scathing, we beat the Giants, 28-20.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis
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We lost again.  How ’bout that? Only this time it was even more painful than usual because this time we could have won easily.  Except that, really, it can’t be more painful than usual since we’ve had plenty of losses like this one as well.  So really it’s just another in a long line of diverse and painful losses.

But seriously, this one was really bad.  Like, it was really, really bad.  We seriously were so close to winning; all we had to do was hold on.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We scored first.  Ellsbury was dropped in the lineup but produced anyway; with one out in the second, Ross walked, and then Ellsbury went deep on a changeup to right for two runs on one swing.  It was awesome.  We haven’t seen power from him in a while, so it’s good to know he’s still got it.

Meanwhile, Buchholz was on a roll.  The extent of the Jays’ threats during the first two innings was one walk in each, and then they singled in the third before finally scoring in the fourth.  Unfortunately, they erased our two-run lead in the process and established a one-run lead of their own.  After securing the inning’s first out on a three-pitch strikeout, Buchholz gave up three consecutive singles that brought in one run, a sac fly that brought in the tying run, and another single that brought in the go-ahead run.

Both teams then went down in order in the next two half-innings.  Kalish walked in the fifth, but the inning ended with a pickoff.  Buchholz took down the Jays in order in the sixth, and then Pedroia tied the game at three with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning, going deep on a slider, his second pitch of the at-bat, which sailed out toward the Monster.  So all three of our runs were scored via the long ball.

Both teams then went down in order until the top of the ninth.  Buchholz induced a groundout to start it off.  But then the badness happened.  It was the badness that would cause us to lose the ballgame.  He gave up a single, which may as well have been a double thanks to a steal.  He then gave up another single, which also resulted in a steal.  He then issued an intentional walk to load the bases.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, what happened next would have been considered a fantastic play given any other circumstances.  Buchholz gave up a sac fly, which scored a run.  Normally, you accept the fact that, with the bases loaded, you take the out even if it means you allow a run, and if you escape from that situation after having allowed only one run, you’re in great shape.  The problem is that, sometimes, you’re in a tie situation and that run is the dealbreaker that decides your fate.  So given the circumstances, during any other season, this loss would have to have been accepted as a loss that you sometimes have to expect to endure.  But this is not any other season.  This is a season during which we’re losing as much as we’d have been winning during any other season.  And so it’s worse.  Much, much worse.

Tazawa issued a walk and then ended the inning on a strikeout.  We failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, so we lost, 4-3.  The irony, of course, was that Bobby V. came out to the mound with one out in the ninth and Buchholz was convinced his night was done.  It begs the question of what would have happened had Buchholz been right.  At the time, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that, at the time, we had no reason to believe that the ball should be taken away from him.  Hindsight, of course, is always twenty-twenty.  We just got swept.

In other news, now that the regular season is underway, let’s talk about the Patriots! In preseason, we beat the Saints but lost to the Eagles, Bucs, and Giants.  Fortunately, we started the regular season off right, beating the Titans, 34-13.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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You know that spring is just around the corner when Truck Day has come and gone.  Truck Day was yesterday, so that must mean we don’t have much longer to go.  It’s been a long, cold winter, folks, and we’ve been without baseball for way too long.  There have been some interesting decisions and some interesting non-decisions made this offseason; I don’t know how this season will turn out.  It may be better or worse than we expect.  All I know is that Pitchers and Catchers is coming – in fact, Lester is already down there – and soon we’ll be talking about Spring Training! Finally!

Speaking of Pitchers and Catchers, just so everyone knows what we’re getting into, apparently Bobby V. doesn’t believe in pitch counts.  He says that they’re completely arbitrary and cites his experience in Japan as evidence.  As Dice-K has amply informed everyone who will listen already, in Japan there essentially are no pitch counts.  But this is not Japan, these are not Japan’s players, this is not Japan’s six-man rotation, and this is not Japan’s schedule.  All I’m saying is that if something’s not broken, Bobby V. should not attempt to fix it.  Discarding the legitimacy of pitch counts is not a way to account for the fact that we still need two starters, and he seems to think that moving Bard and Aceves from the bullpen to the bench as starters wouldn’t be a big deal for either.  It probably wouldn’t be a big deal if it were done properly, but I don’t think discarding pitch counts completely constitutes “properly.” At most, Bobby V. should be approaching this issue on a case-by-case basis.  There may be some pitchers who are naturally inclined to throw more, and there may be some pitchers naturally inclined to throw less.  If the pitch count has to be ignored, it should be ignored in a situation where it’s within a pitcher’s natural comfort zone and ability to do so.  Otherwise he runs the risk of running all of our pitchers into the ground because a good pitcher will stay out there and compete for as long as he’s allowed to do so.  I don’t even want to think about all the games we would have lost if Tito didn’t pull people at the right time; I venture to guess that total would be more than the games we would have done by doing the exact same thing.

Speaking of pitchers, Roy Oswalt is still on the market, and we have indeed made it an offer.  The offer itself is acceptable, but someone from his camp has stated that, geographically, he just doesn’t want to be in Boston and would rather play in places like Texas or St. Louis which, as I’m sure is readily recognizable, are warmer and potentially National League and therefore more pitcher-friendly.  As they say, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.  But if you can’t take the cold, don’t even think about coming into the kitchen in the first place.

Last but not least, congratulations to Kevin Youkilis, who apparently is engaged to Tom Brady’s sister, Julie.  Two great Boston sports franchises unite.

In other news, the Super Bowl was obviously a painful disappointment, quite literally in fact.  I can’t believe it.  I just can’t believe it.  During the offseason, this Patriots team was touted as the Patriots team that differed from other Patriots teams in recent years due to its defense.  It’s no secret that, while the Patriots have had a good defense, the defense has been just that: good.  Not great, and certainly not extraordinary like the offense.  This team was supposed to be a step in the right direction of addressing that issue.  When we barely squeaked by the Ravens, we knew the Super Bowl was going to be a close game.  And it was.  I personally just never thought it would be close not in our favor and that we would lose, 21-17.  It was 2008 all over again: the Giants’ defense was better than ours, and it matched evenly against our offense, which meant that they were able to make more plays.  Honestly, I still thought we had a chance even after that last touchdown.  There was less than a minute on the clock, but that would have been enough for a successful drive downfield had we not been put in a position where we had to waste time getting another first down after that string of three unsuccessful attempts, the last of which was a sack.  It was painful to watch, and it forced Brady to have to deliver a Hail Mary that would have won the whole game instantly, right then and there, had it been caught.  And it almost was.  But it wasn’t, and that’s how wins and losses are determined, isn’t it.  And it’s not like it’s all the defense’s fault either.  They did well, given the circumstances, especially on the Giants’ third down.  The offense also made its fair share of small mistakes that added up big time.  It seemed like a million of Brady’s passes were just a little off this way or that way or that this one fumbled or that one should totally have caught it, and that would have given us the points necessary such that the fact that the defense allowed the twenty-one points wouldn’t have mattered.  We all know Wes Welker should have made that catch with his eyes closed – he led the NFL with 122c catches – but obviously it’s ridiculous to attribute an entire loss to only one play.  In the end, we made it to the Super Bowl, we kept it a close game, and Brady set a Super Bowl record for consecutive completions.  We lost, and it was crushing and devastating and, as I said, painful.  But we’ll be back.  If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that we’ll be back for sure.  And the B’s beat the Caps and Predators and dropped a 6-0 shutout to the Sabres.

Boston Globe Staff/Steve Silva

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According to Ben, we’re out of the running for Roy Oswalt and we’re unlikely to make big splashes before the start of Spring Training.  I don’t really know what to make of that.

According to Beckett, what happens in the clubhouse should stay in the clubhouse, and the 2004 team did worse things.  I’m not sure that that’s really much of an excuse, but honestly I’m sick and tired of hearing about this same situation.  The whole thing is ridiculous.  The people who were actually there are the people who are denying that it was a big deal.  There’s no way to know what really went on, since we weren’t inside the clubhouse.  All I’m saying is I think it’s time to just move on already to bigger and better things.

In other news, the B’s beat the Sens but lost to the Canes and Penguins.  And, of course, the big day has finally arrived! Happy Super Bowl Sunday! As I said, I’m real hungry.  That trophy needs to come back to Boston.  Let’s bring it home tonight.  It may be a close game, and we will have to keep our heads down and play hard, but we got this.  Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but man, is it sweet.  Let’s do this.

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It was yet another quiet week.  That seems to be the theme these days.

We signed Cody Ross to a one-year deal worth three million dollars with a high performance bonus thrown in.  He’s a right-handed bat renowned for his ability to slug against southpaws; since 2007, his numbers are truly fantastic.  Then again, he had a fantastically terrible year last year.  If last year was just a blip on the radar screen, I think he’ll find the dimensions of Fenway quite conducive to letting it rip in an otherwise left-skewed lineup, which will be very helpful.  If last year wasn’t just a blip on the radar screen, we’ll use him minimally and only when we absolutely need a righty in there.

All may be quiet on the baseball front, but not so the football front.  The Patriots won and are now in the Super Bowl; no surprise there.  I knew they would beat the Ravens.  What I didn’t know was that the final score would be 23-20.  That’s a little too close for my comfort.  A win is a win, and this one is definitely worth celebrating, but we’ll have to be on our toes when we play the Giants.  Although I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m definitely relishing this prime opportunity for revenge.  Bring it on.  I’m hungry.  It’s so unbelievably good to be back.  The B’s trumped the Flyers but lost to the Caps.

TripAdvisor

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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 have a less than a month until pitchers and catchers report.  This is the home stretch, people.  Less than a month.  It’s been a long winter.  It’s been too long a winter.  And like I said, the last few weeks are the most difficult, but we got this.  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Only a few more weeks and then before you know it, it’s Spring Training followed by Opening Day.  I’m psyched.

Meanwhile, Marco Scutaro is officially our starting shortstop.  This is not surprising.  But it’s not like Lowrie isn’t going to get any playing time.  Trust me on that.

Theo avoided arbitration yet again.  Also not surprising.  Paps and Ellsbury each have one-year contracts for twelve million dollars and $2.4 million, respectively.  This is the third time we’ve signed Paps to a one-year deal, and I think that speaks to his wavering performance.  Three years ago he was golden, two years ago his walks were up, and last year just wasn’t a good year for no particularly apparent reason.  It’s going to be really interesting when he becomes a free agent for the first time.  I have no predictions for that because Paps hasn’t given us much reliability to work with.  This is a contract year, but so was last year.  He has some competition from Bard, but he did also last year.  The only impactful external difference is Bobby Jenks, who represents more competition and more insurance.  Or maybe Paps will just return to form after making various adjustments and working on various pitches, which is obviously preferable because that would show some future value we can more easily project.

As far as Ellsbury is concerned, that’s a steal.  That’s as good a bargain as you’re going to get.  He played in eighteen games last season due to his injury, so that’s a pretty hefty raise from his previous salary of slightly less than half a million.  So don’t get used to it.  He’s a good player with a ton of worth, and if he stays healthy and has a good year this year, $2.4 million will seem like peanuts compared to what we’re going to have to shell out to keep him here.

I would just like to note that our payroll for 2011 will be somewhere around $163 million total, which is close to what it was last season.  It’s all about responsibility and financial flexibility.  And only Theo would be able to maintain both of those and still make two major signings, one with a large contract and the other hopefully with a similar one pending.

In other news, the Bruins played back-to-back games with the Canes earlier this week.  We won both.  First, we shut them out, seven-zip.  It was awesome.  They had no chance whatsoever.  Then we beat them again, 3-2.  Then we lost to the Sabres, 2-4.  Then we beat the Avs, 6-2.  Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand each scored twice.  Barring that one loss, I’d say it was a good week.  For hockey, at least.  Because finally, last but not least, the Patriots.  Let’s get this over with.  The Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs by the Jets.  There will be no Super Bowl this year because we scored only two touchdowns en route to a 21-28 loss.  For the first one, Brady threw a two-yard pass and then went for a two-point conversion, and that was it.  The rest we accomplished with field goals.  And there were sacks.  There was an interception.  He set a league record of 335 passes this season without an interception, and yet somehow there was an interception.  We had the best record in the entire NFL, and we lost our third straight postseason game.  I hate to say this, but it felt a lot like the Pats-Giants Super Bowl, where we spent the entire season basically steamrolling over everybody, but when the final moment came, our ridiculously good offense was matched up against a defense that was just as good, and our defense didn’t match up as well to their offense.  That’s kind of what happened here.  It was just surreal and incredibly disappointing.  I had us winning the Super Bowl before the game even started.  Well, what can you do? As we like to say, there’s always next year.

AP Photo

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