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Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia Flyers’

We signed Jose Mijares to a minor league deal with an invitation to attend Spring Training.  We also signed Grady Sizemore to a one-year deal plus a considerable amount of incentives.  Things are shaping up.

The B’s lost to the Blackhawks, 2-3, in a shootout, and beat the Kings, 3-2, and Flyers, 6-1.  As far as the Pats are concerned, we’re done.  The season is officially over.  We will not be advancing to the Super Bowl.  The Broncos, however, are another matter, since they beat us, 26-16.  We couldn’t run the ball, and the defense was porous.  It just felt like something was off.  I mean, granted, we were just really lucky this year; I guess the whole idea of a team fighting an uphill battle at every turn was a common theme in Boston.  Anyway, we were fortunate to have come this far, and it’s a real testament to the team to have accomplished that.  We’ve won a lot of critical games this year, many of them close ones.  And then it just ended.  So we’re out of the Super Bowl.  It’s awful, and it hurts.  But we can still be proud.

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It’s bad enough to allow your opposition to score runs.  It’s bad enough to allow your opposition to score a lot of runs.  It’s even worse to allow your opposition to score a lot of runs while you yourself score absolutely no runs.  But one of the worst scenarios is when you allow your opposition to score a lot of runs while you yourself score absolutely no runs because the opposing pitcher is someone who used to pitch for you and is somehow having a great day.

There are various teams in the majors that tend to absorb our players when we allow them to walk or when we trade them away.  Oakland has apparently become one of those teams.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Green Sox.

Bartolo Colon held us to zero runs.  Meanwhile, Aceves lasted less than four innings; he recorded the first run in the fourth and was taken out in favor of Steven Wright, but both should share in the blame. Aceves had a one-two-three first.  It was his first good inning.  He gave up a single and a walk in the second but didn’t give up any runs.  It was his last good inning.  Then he imploded.

Aceves issued a four-pitch walk to open the third.  He gave up a single to Coco Crisp and another walk to load the bases.  He then walked in the first run of the game; it would be the first of six that inning alone.  Yes, walking in a run was embarrassing but, in the grand scheme of how the game turned out, not nearly as embarrassing as how it would end.  Aceves finally recorded the inning’s first out but then gave up a single that scored two.  Then he balked, which put two runners in scoring position; a sac fly scored one, and a single by Josh Reddick scored the other and put him at second thanks to a throwing error by Aceves himself.  Then he balked again, which moved Reddick to third, and he scored on a throwing error.  The inning finally ended with a groundout.

Crisp grounded out to open the fourth, and then Aceves went right back to it.  He gave up a double and then a home run.  Then Jed Lowrie singled, and Wright came in, ending the inning on a double play.

Wright didn’t let any of his inherited runners score.  He just put his own runners on base and let them score.  He gave up a single to lead off the fifth, struck out Reddick, and issued two consecutive walks.  He then gave up a double to Crisp, which scored two, followed by a single, which scored two.  Then there was a passed ball, a fielder’s choice, and finally a flyout.

Wright issued two consecutive walks yet again to begin the sixth.  He gave up a double to Reddick that scored one and then send the A’s down in order.  Wright gave up two singles in the seventh but didn’t allow any runs.

And that’s as far as we got.  Rain prevented the playing of the game’s last two innings.  I at least would have wanted to see the contest through, but perhaps we’ll be able to draw on the extra rest to win a sorely needed contest at some point.  Baseball works in mysterious ways sometimes, but the outcome of this one, at least, was decisive.  We lost, thirteen-zip.  We had three hits and only one walk; we were 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position and left four on base.  Pedroia, Salty, and Gomes were the ones who singled; nobody hit anything for extra bases.  Ellsbury was the one who walked.  Aceves took the loss.

In other news, the Flyers beat the Bruins, 5-2.

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It’s the middle of March.  The roster is thinning down, and the team’s performance is moving up.  As Opening Day nears, the pitchers especially are the players to watch.  Wins and losses means nothing in Spring Training, when regulars routinely don’t complete games, but a game is a game, and you can watch a pitcher’s motion and see how comfortable he is with certain pitches and certain situations.  Also pay attention to defense and injury in the field.  These things won’t necessarily predict our performance this year, but at least we’ll be able to tell how ready this year’s team is to face the music when the season starts.  Honestly, I have to say, it looks pretty good.

Nava is surely going to win a spot on the bench now that he’s proven himself at first, where he’s seen playing time this spring.  Drew has been out with a concussion that he sustained after getting hit by a pitch.  Papi started running the bases a bit but, due to soreness in his right foot derived from his Achilles injury, he’s had to take it easy as well.  While he’s sat out, Farrell’s been rotating the DH spot.  Unfortunately, he may very well start the season on the disabled list.  So will Breslow, due to problems with his left shoulder, and Morales, due to problems with his lower back.  Napoli actually saw action in consecutive days and managed to survive, which was a very good sign.  Aceves returned to camp after Team Mexico was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.  Fortunately, he wasn’t injured in the significant brawl that broke out between Team Mexico and Team Canada when the former got upset because the latter bunted with the game practically won already.  Team Mexico didn’t know about the Classic’s tiebreakers, which use run differential, and thought it was bad form.  So several Canadian players ganged up on Aceves and dragged him to the ground.  Like I said, we’re pretty lucky he wasn’t injured.  Victorino will also be heading back to camp now that Team USA is out.  Steven Wright, the knuckleballer who may not be, since he’s having some trouble getting a handle on the pitch, got cut along with Deven Marrero, Drake Britton, Justin Henry, Alex Hassan, Mark Hamilton, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Juan Carlos Linares, Pedro Beato, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Christian Velazquez, Daniel Butler, and Alex Wilson.  Ryan Westmoreland, once considered one of our best farmboys, is retiring.  We traded cash to Baltimore for Mike Flacco, who plays first base.  Yes, he’s the brother of Joe Flacco.  Yaz made his annual visit to camp, making the rounds with current Sox and former teammates.

Now let’s talk action.  We beat the Rays on March 4, 5-1.  Doubront made his debut and tossed 1.2 shutout innings including a hit, two walks, and two K’s.  Carpenter also tossed a shutout frame to end the game.  Iglesias went two for two with two doubles; Salty also had a double to his credit, and Overbay tripled.  We were back in action Wednesday opposite the Pirates, who beat us, 9-3.  On the bright side, Lester looked especially sharp; he hurled four comforting and relief-inspiring innings, during which he allowed one hit on two runs while walking three and striking out three.  I wasn’t a fan of the three walks, but it’s more important that he slowly but steadily lengthens his starts without also augmenting his run total.  Wright took the loss and gave up five runs on five hits; Tazawa pitched a shutout inning to end it.  Ciriaco went two for four, and Gomes and Salty both doubled.  We beat the Twins on Thursday, 12-5.  For the first three innings, it was all Buchholz, who dominated with a shutout performance and issued two hits, no walks, and four K’s.  Hanrahan delivered a deflating fail of a third of an inning, during which he gave up four runs on four hits, but Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Meanwhile, Pedroia and Napoli each collected two hits; Pedroia doubled and Napoli smacked a home run that seemed like he could really get used to the power again.  The Twins bested us the next day, though, with a shutout performance.  Dempster took the loss and gave up the game’s only two runs.  We lost to the O’s on Saturday, 5-2.  Doubront gave up two runs on four hits over three innings with a walk and five strikeouts; Hanrahan and Bailey both delivered shutout frames.  Salty had himself two hits, and Overbay doubled.

We beat the Rays on Sunday, 6-2.  Lackey worked three and two-thirds inning and gave up two runs on four hits, one of them a homer, while walking two and striking out two.  It doesn’t seem like much, but that start was better than most of the ones we’ve seen from him in recent memory; granted, it doesn’t take much from him at this point to constitute a good sign, but you have to start rebuilding somewhere.  Overbay went two for three, and Ross had himself a three-run jack.  The Marlins beat us on Monday, 8-7; Lester delivered five beautiful innings, giving up one run on three hits while walking none and striking out four.  Carpenter took the blown save and the loss, giving up two runs on two hits en route to recording the game’s last two outs.  Salty doubled, and Middlebrooks homered for the first time since getting injured! He looked mighty comfortable doing it, too.  Like he could do it again.  Repeatedly.  We beat the Jays on Tuesday, 5-3.  Buchholz kept up his strong performance with four shutout innings during which he issued one K and gave up three hits.  Bailey turned in a shutout inning of his own.  Nava, Napoli, and Sweeney each had two hits; Napoli, Sweeney, and Middlebrooks each hit doubles.

We had Wednesday off and bested the Twins on Thursday, 7-3.  Dempster picked up the win with four innings of one-run, three-hit ball; Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Ellsbury went two for three with a double; Iglesias smacked a double as well.  Friday’s game against Baltimore ended in a tie at three after ten; Mortensen started and tossed three shutout innings of two-hit ball, and no one had a multihit game.  We crushed Tampa Bay on Saturday, 9-2.  Aceves pitched four and one-third innings during which he gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk and five K’s.  Iglesias and Gomez both had two hits; Iglesias tripled, and Gomez doubled.  We beat Tampa Bay again yesterday, 5-1, on the shoulders of a literally perfect performance by Lester.  Six innings.  No runs.  No hits.  No walks.  Six K’s, or an average of one per inning.  Even Hanrahan got in the spirit and delivered a shutout inning.  It was only Spring Training, but it was a glorious indication of things to come.  Expect him to start on Opening Day for sure.  Middlebrooks went two for three, and Gomes was perfect at the plate; both doubled.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps in sudden death but then beat the Leafs, Flyers, and Sens.  We lost to the Penguins and then beat the Panthers and Caps before losing to the Penguins again.

Boston Herald Staff/Christopher Evans

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We’re seeing good things from the pitchers as well as the hitters this week.  Lester has a bit of a ways to go shaking the offseason rust off, but Beckett seems to be right on track.  Papi and Pedroia, among others, delivered at the plate this week as well.  We also made our first round of cuts, with no major surprises.  We saw some cases for the role of fifth starter, and we saw Bard hiccup in his latest step on the road to becoming a starter, which one American League scout seems to think is not the greatest of ideas.  Bobby V. also says he’s working with the pitchers to develop a new approach that incorporates a little more focus on the first-base runner in order to avoid the rampant running that we experienced last season.  All in all, it was a great week, and we’re starting to look like a team again.

We beat the Orioles, 6-1, on Sunday.  It was better than his previous outing, but still not what you expect from him.  In four innings, he threw sixty-six pitches and gave up one run and one hit and struck out two but walked four.  That’s never something you want to hear.  He bounced back, though, to retire seven of his last eight batters.  Shoppach caught him for the first time in seven years.  His cutter was really nice.  Pedroia went two for three with two RBIs, and Ross hit and scored twice each.  Cook, competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, delivered two scoreless frames.  His sinker was good.

We beat the Marlins, 5-3, on Monday, ironically on Beckett’s watch.  In total, he pitched four innings.  In total, he struck out three, gave up one run, one hit, and one walk and hit two batters.  But that doesn’t tell the whole story.  His first inning was horrible.  He hit both batters that inning; allowed that one hit, a double; and allowed one of his walks, which came with the bases loaded to allow his only run.  He threw twenty-one pitches that inning.  But he turned it around, and it was smooth sailing after that; he retired the last seven batters he faced and threw thirty-six pitches for the remainder of his outing.  Melacon delivered a perfect fifth; Bailey delivered a not-so-perfect sixth, giving up three straight hits and a run before finishing his work.  Ozzie Guillen received his first rejection as manager of the Florida Marlins.  That really didn’t take him long at all; honestly, I’m surprised it didn’t come sooner.  Finally, Pedro Ciriaco, a non-roster invitee to camp, blasted a two-run walkoff home run in the tenth inning to win it for us.

I don’t care if it’s the regular season, the postseason, or Spring Training; for me, beating the Yankees is always in season.  And that’s what we did on Tuesday.  By a score of 1-0.  Ciriaco again delivered; he singled to lead off the ninth and came home on two errors.  Doubront started and delivered four shutout innings during which he gave up two hits, walked one, balked one, and struck out three.  Forty-nine of his seventy-five pitches were strikes.  Obviously he threw way too many pitches, but what he was throwing looked good.  Bowden struck out three of his four batters and delivered a scoreless fifth.  Padilla also appeared and pitched three innings, striking out four.  Meanwhile, Buchholz started a simulation game and pitched four simulated innings; he walked two, struck out two, and gave up five hits, two of which were for extra bases.  He also picked off Punto.

The Cards beat us on Thursday, 9-6.  It wasn’t pretty.  Bobby V.’s statement that Bard’s been better was an understatement.  Bard was originally supposed to pitch four innings in relief, but he only lasted two and two-thirds innings.  He gave up seven runs on six hits, one of which was a home run.  He struck out four but also walked four.  There was also a sixteen-minute rain delay in the middle of his first inning, which supposedly wasn’t helpful either.  Meanwhile, Aceves started the game and actually delivered four full innings, and his four innings were awesome: one run on three hits, no walks, and four strikeouts.  McDonald and Pedroia each hit home runs, McDonald’s a two-runner and Pedroia’s a leadoff shot.  Papi and Lavarnway each hit doubles.

The Twins squeaked by us on Thursday, 2-1.  Lester was not good.  He threw eighty-one pitches in four innings.  Only forty-seven of those eighty-one pitches were strikes.  He hit two, walked one, struck out one, and gave up five hits, all of them to the last third of the order.  No control, no command, and no curveball.  Miller pitched a scoreless inning and struck out two; his two strikeouts came from the stretch, while a walk in the inning came from the windup.  Bobby V. told him to only pitch out of the stretch.  We’ll see how that works out.  Bailey bounced back to strike out two in a one-two-three inning.

We played two split-squad games against the Orioles yesterday.  We tied one at three and won the other, 7-4.  In the former, Cook pitched three and one-third innings and gave up a hit and a walk but struck out one and induced a double play.  In the latter, Beckett pitched a fine five innings; he gave up one run on two hits while walking one and striking out two.  Forty of his fifty-nine pitches were strikes.  Yup, that’s a mighty fine five innings.  Ross hit a home run in a full count.

In other news, the B’s lost to the Pens, Bolts, and Sens but beat the Flyers.

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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.

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The small stuff first.  We signed Nick Punto to a two-year deal; it’s a solid signing.  He’s a scrappy player with a decent bat who’s great in the field.  He also seems to have a reputation for a good clubhouse character, which may be helpful at a time like this.  We signed Albers to a one-year deal, and we tendered Aceves, Bard, Morales, Aviles, Ellsbury, and Salty.  Rich Hill is now a free agent.  Jenks had back surgery.

Incidentally, the bid for Japanese pitching phenom Yu Darvish is rumored to be even greater than Dice-K’s bid.  He’s going to Texas.  Some say he’s better equipped to succeed here, but Dice-K has made me skeptical and bitter.

Bard is unofficially officially a starter.  I know that because we just traded Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to the Astros for Mark Melancon, a reliever who played for the Yanks in 2009 and 2010 but who closed for Houston last season.  Obviously, Lowrie is the one of those two with the higher profile.  He had phenomenal potential that was substantially hindered by injuries; there’s no escaping that fact.  The team had needs that Lowrie, as a result, was unable to fulfill; perhaps he will help the team best as trade bait.  But we won’t know that until Melancon has pitched well into the season for us.

Truth be told, I would argue that, although his stuff seems impressive enough, we don’t really know all that much about him in the context of the Major Leagues.  Last season was his third in the big show; he pitched 74.1 innings in seventy-one games, gave up five home runs, walked twenty-six batters, posted an ERA of 2.78, and struck out sixty-six.  His WHIP was 1.22.  Last year was the first season in which he posted a save at all, and he posted twenty of them.  And he’s twenty-six years old.  From all of this, we can learn that he’s young, he’s new, and he knows absolutely nothing about what it means to close regularly for a team like the Red Sox in a city like Boston in a league like the American League in a division like the AL East.  As I said, it seems like he’s got the raw goods, but at this stage, I do not feel comfortable with him being slotted as our regular closer right off the bat (pun not intended), hands-down, no questions asked.  Throw in the fact that he had major surgery on his right elbow early in his career, and there are definitely some doubts.

Then again, the surgery was a few years ago, and Paps at one time was also untested, and so is Bard as a closer.  They have absolutely electrifying fastballs; Melancon gets up to ninety-five miles per hour.  He also works with an effective cutter and curveball.  Brad Mills seems to think he can do it.  All I’m saying is that Melancon has some big shoes to fill in the biggest baseball town in the country.  Hold onto your hats, folks.  Hold onto your hats.

Bill James’s predictions for the coming season are in.  He has Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, and Papi all declining in batting average; Youk’s average is slated to markedly increase since he hopefully will be starting the year more healthily than the way he finished last year.  We can expect one additional home run from Papi this year; more importantly, James’s prediction shows that Papi’s power will perpetuate.  Gonzalez and Ellsbury are also slated to go yard more frequently.  Pedroia supposedly will be stealing about ten less bases, but the reason why he probably didn’t get a strong projection all around is because he was injured.  Provided that he isn’t injured, he’s going to rock it.  Look for Gonzalez to perform better than expected as well, since he’ll be entering his sophomore season with us and since he’s now sufficiently removed from his offseason shoulder surgery.

And lastly, literally, it looks like last season really was Tek’s last season with us.  Salty has found his footing, Ryan Lavarnway is coming up, and Kelly Shoppach is coming back.  Obviously it won’t technically be official until Tek signs with another team or retires, but it looks like the year of the goodbye will continue.

We acquired Tek from the Mariners in 1997 and probably didn’t even know at the time the extent of the impact he would make upon arriving.  His entire Major League career was played here.  His development as one of the best catchers in the game was completed here.  Honestly, I always thought he would retire here, and it’s a true shame that he isn’t.  True, his last several seasons saw a marked decline in both performance on the field and leadership influence off the field, but we’re looking at the whole picture here.

Since he’s spent his entire professional baseball life in Boston, we can speak in terms of career numbers.  He is a career .256 hitter with 193 home runs, 757 RBIs, 614 walks, and a .341 OBP.  But we never expected him to be a hitting catcher.  We expected him to be a catcher, period, and what a catcher he was.  He has played in 1,488 games and started 1,372 of them.  He has picked off 10,166 batters and caught 184 stealing.  His fielding percentage is .994; last year he made only four errors, and the year before that he made none.  His catcher’s ERA is 4.17.

And obviously some of his greatest contributions go well beyond even those stellar fielding numbers.  He was a true leader in every sense of the word both on and off the field, which is why he wore the “C” on his jersey, a rarity in baseball these days.  He knew the pitchers inside and out and could adapt on the fly in any situation, which is why he caught and called four no-hitters, a Major League record.  There is also something to be said for having such a veteran on the team, especially with a collaborative and positive personality like his, to ease transitions and be a moderating force in the clubhouse.  And, of course, no tribute to Tek would be complete without mentioning the contribution of the forever-to-be-remembered A-Rod fight on July 24, 2004.  It was a turning point in the season.  It was legendary and historic.  It was epic.

To his credit, he has a Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove, three All-Star selections, two World Series championships, and the respect and affinity of Red Sox Nation.  He was the quintessential team player, and I firmly believe that his character and quality as a player and teammate warrant consideration for employment within the Red Sox organization, hopefully as a coach.  We remember what you’ve accomplished here, and we won’t forget it.  You’ve seen us at our best and worst; it’s been a phenomenal ride.  We as Red Sox Nation salute you, Tek.  And you will most definitely be missed.

In other news, the B’s shut out the Kings, womped the Sens, and crushed the Flyers in a particularly impressive six-zip shutout.  We scored our first goal in the first minute of the game and four goals in the first period alone.  We’re nursing a four-game winning streak and are tied with the Flyers at the top of the conference.

I’ll be taking a break for the next two weeks.  I expect winning signings when I get back.  Good, solid deals that will address the team’s needs.  It doesn’t have to be flashy; we’ve seen the detrimental effects of fixing what isn’t broken and being flashy for flashy’s sake around the league, and we’re not going to do that.  Just some good, solid deals and we’ll be fine.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Just so you know, this is not going to be a happy post.

First of all, it’s pretty much unofficially official.  Theo is going to take over the Cubs.  It’s a five-year deal, and the only thing left is for the two clubs to agree on compensation since Theo is technically entering the last year of his contract with us.  The deal is currently worth twenty million dollars, which reportedly includes said compensation.  As of late, Theo’s title within the Cubs organization is unclear, but it supposedly is something higher up.

The bottom line is that he’s leaving us, so we’ll have to find a first-base coach, a manager, and a general manager.  Here’s an understatement: this offseason, we’ve got some serious work to do.  With any luck, we won’t actually have to find a general manager and will instead be looking for an assistant general manager; I wouldn’t mind having Ben Cherington take the helm.  That’s where it looks like we’re headed, anyway.  He’s been included in all club dealings so far during the offseason.  He’s been Theo’s right-hand man for years, and the two of them started with Larry Lucchino in San Diego anyway.  It obviously won’t be the same, but it’ll be pretty close.

That is, if you like the job Theo did.  Sure, he made some huge mistakes.  Eric Gagne and Dice-K were the most notable of those; if Jenks doesn’t recover properly he’ll be another, and if Crawford and Lackey don’t turn it around they’ll be a third and fourth.  But I would argue that his good so epically and completely eclipsed his bad that this discussion isn’t even necessary.  His drafting and farming decisions were legendary and include Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youk, and Lester.  He is the youngest general manager to be hired, and he is the youngest general manager ever to win a World Series.  After almost delivering us in 2003, his first season, he lifted us out of the Curse of the Bambino in 2004 and reminded us that we weren’t dreaming in 2007.  His acquisition of Gonzalez was absolutely masterful.  He brought sabermetrics to Boston and made it feel at home here.  He wasn’t just a professional removed from everything; he was a baseball guy and, worth noting, a Red Sox fan.  He’s from Boston, specifically Brookline about two miles from Fenway Park, and that’s something Chicago will never change.  Chicago’s dysfunction as an organization goes well beyond any single position that Theo could possibly fill.  Make no mistake; he won’t simply waltz in there and have them winning World Series left and right.  If he could do that in Chicago, we would have been winning every single World Series title since his takeover of our team, and clearly that didn’t happen.  And if it didn’t happen here, it’s not going to happen there.  But that’s neither here nor there.

This is about what Theo did for this city in his nine memorable years here.  He brought a new approach to the game and put the pieces in place for us to win.  He established a winning culture here.  He’s a genius and will be sorely, sorely missed.  Here’s to you, Theo.  Here’s to everything you’ve done for us and for the game of baseball.  Here’s to the good, the bad, and the ugly, and here’s to smiling through all of it because, all along, in Theo we trusted.  We know that other fans in other places rooting for other teams will be trusting in you from now on.  But we also know that you can take the general manager out of Boston but you can’t take Boston out of the general manager.  We just hope that the great things you’ll accomplish will not be at our expense.

Secondly, all of the pieces to the devastation puzzle are now coming to light.  It’s an ugly story.  Here goes.

It wasn’t one pitcher responsible for the beer-drinking between starts.  First of all, it wasn’t just drinking beer; it was also ordering in fried chicken and playing video games.  Secondly, it wasn’t just one pitcher; it was three.  Beckett, Lackey, and Lester.  I never thought I’d see Lester on that list, although I should point out that the degree to which he actually participated in these goings-on is highly speculative, and it’s possible that he wasn’t really a mainstay.  Apparently they not only drank beer but ordered fried chicken and played video games, all at the expense of working out, and they were starting to get more players involved.  All I know is that when we needed them to deliver most, they didn’t, which is unusual for them so something must have been going on.  We knew they were health, so that should have tipped us off, but I never thought I’d see the day when such people would actually knowingly put on pounds and thereby sabotage everything the team worked for.  It’s sacrilegious. Pedroia probably couldn’t believe his eyes and must have been seething.

Meanwhile, Tito was losing influence with both old and new guys, he was having health issues, and he was living in a hotel due to marital issues.  He insists that the former wasn’t due to the latter two, but I’m also sure that Beckett, Lackey, and Lester insisted that their very visible extra fat and subsequent tanking wasn’t due to their clubhouse habits either.  I’m actually inclined to believe Tito, though; he’s focused, dedicated, and committed, and we can’t just assume that he doesn’t know how to handle personal issues in his life and balance them with his job.

Then, apparently, the team accused the brass of caring about money more than results when they scheduled the doubleheader in response to Hurricane Irene.  Then the veterans on the team, including Tek, started pulling back on leadership.  Wake exacerbated this problem by calling for a return next year so he could break the all-time wins record; neither the time nor the place when you’re days away from playoff elimination.  And Youk, as you can imagine, was more of a clubhouse pain than usual, which we all knew but didn’t feel because all of these other issues weren’t present before.  At least, if they were, we didn’t know about them to this extent.  Youk was the only player to call Ellsbury out for his time on the DL last year due to his rib injuries.  And it’s obviously admirable and dirt-doggish indeed that he played through his injuries this year, but doing so apparently brought the worst out of him socially in the clubhouse.  And when you’re hanging on by a thread in the standings, that is so not something you need.  Gonzalez, of all people, joined in the pettiness by complaining about the late-season schedule.  I honestly thought he would be much more Pedroia-like than that.

Ellsbury, by the way, is officially the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year.  I can’t think of anyone who would deserve it more.  He earned every last bit of that honor this past year, so hats most definitely off to him.

Add to that the fact that the signing of Crawford was largely a push from Theo over which the brass was divided.  If you ask me, I would have said it was the other way around.  Crawford’s strengths, both in practice and in numbers, aren’t that compatible with sabermetrics, the philosophy used to build the team.  So I thought that we would all find out that it was Theo who was against it, and it was the brass who was pushing him to sign Crawford because of the wow factor of bringing in a star or something.

All in all, the team this year turned out to be one big, dysfunctional family on every front.  Nobody, from the players to the brass, was spared.  Everyone who had issues let them loose at exactly the wrong time and in exactly the wrong ways.  Players on whom you depended to carry your team through the stretch in the clubhouse either withdrew or sunk to the level of the players you never thought would sink to that level in the first place.  It seems like it was just an awful atmosphere completely non-conducive to anything positive or constructive.  Obviously you’ve got to consider sources of this information when you read stories about this, but I guess now that we know the end story, we saw the signs all along.  That’s true of Theo’s departure as well.  At the time to us on the outside, all of the signs were too subtle for us to keep putting two and two and two and two together to come with what is clearly a very elaborate set of social circumstances that spiraled out of control and led to our painful and epic downfall.

Organization chemistry, both in the clubhouse and in the front office, is a very difficult thing to fix and cultivate.  It’s organically grown, and you either have it or you don’t.  You can’t force it.  Now Papi is claiming that he’s seriously considering free agency as a way to escape all the drama.  It’s all been meshing so well recently; how, in such a short time, could we become “that team” with all the drama? It’s like a soap opera.  Seriously.

John Henry even drove down to 98.5 The Sports Hub on Friday completely on his own because he felt like he had some records to set straight.  He said that Crawford was not signed to boost NESN ratings, although he confirmed that he did oppose it but ultimately approved it because baseball operations were for Theo and Larry to govern.  Henry also implied a confirmation that Theo is going to Chicago while saying that he wishes that Theo would stay.  He said that, during the season, he let the brass know that he was all in favor of picking up Tito’s options and that the only time he thought that that maybe wasn’t such a good idea was when Tito told the brass that he didn’t want to come back.

Significant changes to the organization could potentially be afoot, and that’s either good or bad.  There’s no way to know who’s on the radar or what we should expect.  There’s nothing to do.  No amount of speculation would ever shed any light because this organization keeps everything under wraps, as is appropriate and right even if it is annoying for us fans hanging in the breeze.

The whole situation is crushing.  Make absolutely no mistake whatsoever about that.  It’s crushing.  It’s devastatingly epically crushing in every conceivable sense.  We’ll get through it because we’re Sox fans and we always do, but it’s just so remarkably and epically depressing and crushing.  I can’t even believe that this whole situation is happening.

Ultimately the big question is short and sweet and simple but revealing of the trepidation that’s currently racking all of us.

What’s next?

Also, Scott Williamson is auctioning off his 2004 World Series ring.  Why in the world would you ever do that? That’s completely sacrilegious.

In other news, the Pats summarily disposed of the Jets, 30-21.  Would I have preferred a blowout? Obviously.  But hey, that score is a lot better than the score we put up against them the last time we played them last season, so I’ll take it.  And the Bruins, since beginning their season on October 6, have beaten Philly, Colorado, and Chicago and have been beaten by Tampa Bay and Carolina.

AP Photo

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