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Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Penguins’

Let’s get the small stuff out of the way first.  We non-tendered Bailey and Kalish.  Also, congratulations to Lackey on a well-deserved Tony Conigliaro Award.  Not that that’s a small achievement, but it’s not disturbing and alarming like the big news of the week.

This week, we’ve had to deal with some significant departures.  This is going to be rough.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is our first departure.  He is now a Florida Marlin, having signed a deal for three years and twenty-one million dollars.  We acquired him as a veteran, and now he leaves as a veteran having helped us win the World Series.

Last year, Salty batted .273 with fourteen homers and sixty-five RBIs.  He posted a fielding percentage of .994 and a catcher’s ERA of 3.88.  But as with all great catchers, he contributed innumerable qualities like leadership and work ethic and skill with calling games and managing pitchers.  Needless to say, the last three years, including October, would have looked very different without him, and he will certainly be missed.  Salty, we thank you, and we salute you.

We welcome AJ Pierzynski, who has signed a one-year deal pending a physical.  Last year, he batted .272 with seventeen homers and seventy RBIs.  He posted a fielding percentage of .998 and a catcher’s ERA of 3.63.  He’s gritty, and he’ll fit in just fine.  We also welcome Edward Mujica, the righty reliever, who signed a two-year deal for $9.5 million.

Our other departure is different.  This isn’t someone we brought in who has now decided to leave for a three-year contract.  We say goodbye to someone we raised, who spent his entire career thus far with us, and who didn’t go to just any team.  Jacoby Ellsbury is now a New York Yankee.  It’s basically the same old story.  They lured him over there with the type of contract that only the New York Yankees could provide: seven years and $153 million.  So the Evil Empire offers these contracts like it’s made of money, since it basically is, and no other team can compete with that.  I mean, it’s not like we haven’t seen this before.  A star center fielder who bats leadoff and makes spectacular catches and helped us win the World Series and who is a Boston icon leaving for the dark side; where have I seen that before?

It’s just awful.  Our job is to raise players in the farm so they can stay here.  Out job is not to raise players in the farm so they can win a ring and then just leave and give their services to the highest bidder.  That was never what baseball was supposed to be about.  But that’s the reality in which we and the game find ourselves now.

It’s not our fault that we choose to be a responsible team that conducts itself in a responsible way.  A contract worth that many years and that much money does not allow for much flexibility, which is what you need if you’re going to win.  Think about our performance over the course of the past decade. Think about our performance over the course of the past year, about the acquisitions we made last offseason and where they led us in October.  We should feel good about our success and about the business model and strategies that got us there.  Hindering our flexibility by committing almost a whole decade’s worth of years and millions of dollars in three digits has not, historically, been one of those strategies.  That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us. It means there’s something wrong with them.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate Ellsbury’s achievements in Boston.  He’s been hurt, but he has always powered through in true dirt-dog fashion, never shying away from making the tough plays no matter what mind kind of pain waited as a consequence.  In his career, he’s bagged .297 with sixty-five homers and 314 RBIs.  He has led the American League three times in steals.  And he made only three errors last year.  He helped us win not one but two World Series championships, making his presence  seen and felt in both.  I don’t think we’ll ever forget the way he patrolled Fenway’s center field with ease and made it look as easy as it really was for him to make catches that didn’t even seem to be humanly possible.

His seven years are up, and now he’s joined the darkness. Ellsbury, we thank you, and we salute you.  But we feel disappointed, insulted, and betrayed.

Fortunately, Napoli is coming back.  So there’s that sign of hope and optimism.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Habs, 2-1, but beat the Penguins, 3-2, and the Leafs, 5-2.  The Pats just barely, and I mean that in every sense of the phrase, eked out a win against the Browns, 27-26.  It really went down to the wire.  Seriously.

Pro Sports Extra

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There haven’t really been any developments.  Showing interest and finalizing deals are two very different things, and we probably have a long way to go before things start heating up.

In other news, the Bruins bested the Penguins, 4-3, as well as the Rangers, 3-2, and Blue Jackets, 3-1, but lost to the Red Wings, 6-1.  And the Pats edged the Broncos, 34-31, in a real mess that eventually turned into a real awesome victory.  The first half of that game was an epic disaster.  I didn’t even know what team I was watching.  And as a result, I didn’t even know what team I was watching in the second half, either.  It was a situation of polar opposites, and the win was just unbelievable.

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The inclement weather gave us a spontaneous day off, although the game was postponed, so we’ll have to make it up later.  Speaking of which, that is also what we did today.  It turns out that the extra off day was right on time; making up a game previously rescheduled, we had a twin bill.

We lost the opener.  Doubront took the loss but Morales didn’t help any.  Doubront gave up only three runs in six innings of work; that’s a quality start.  None of the runs scored via the long ball, which means that they were not the products of isolated mistakes.  However, Doubront by no means had a bad day.  He actually looked pretty good.  And if the Angels had been held to three runs, then all else being equal, we would have walked away the victors.

Morales, however, gave up four runs in the seventh inning alone.  Not counting the outs, he gave up a double, an intentional walk, an RBI double, another walk that loaded the bases, and two consecutive walks that both walked in runs and re-loaded the bases each time.  Then he was lifted for Mortensen, who gave up a single that allowed one of his inherited runners to score.  It was awful.  Morales could not find the strike zone at any time.  His terrible performance made the two outs that he managed to record look like accidents.  Mortensen pitched until he allowed two singles and a popup in the ninth, when Miller took over.  Miller gave up a walk to load the bases, which was obviously the theme of our relief corps’s performance.  One force out later, he walked in a run of his own, and a fielding error by Napoli resulted in the Angels’ last run of the morning.

Carp hit a solo shot to lead off the fourth for our first run of the day.  Two outs later, Ellsbury walked, stole second, and scored on a single by Nava.  We were still fighting even in the ninth inning; we hit three straight singles with two out plus a double that scored a total of two runs.  But it wasn’t enough, and we lost, 9-5.

The nightcap got off to an auspicious start.  Victorino singled to lead off the first and scored on a double by Gomes, who scored on a double by Pedroia.  The next inning, Gomes singled and scored on a double by Papi.  The nightcap then continued just as auspiciously; Iglesias led off the sixth with a single and scored two outs later on a single by Pedroia.  And it all cleared when Papi homered for two more runs.

Buchholz gave up his first run in the third thanks to a double-single combination.  He gave up his second run in the sixth thanks to a double and a sac fly.  And that was it for him.  Breslow and Tazawa finished the game, and the final score was 7-2.  So we split.  I would have preferred we sweep, but we’ll take what we can get.

Now that’s what I call quick work.  The Penguins never saw it coming.  It was a clean sweep, culminating in a one-zip win.  That would be twenty-six saves for Tuuka Rask and some timely heroics by Adam McQuaid.  The Eastern Conference is now officially in the bag.

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We went from a win to a loss, from slugging to almost nothing.  We could have spread out Tuesday’s run total, sharing the wealth between Tuesday and yesterday, and we would have won easily last night.  That’s the nature of the game, I guess.

Lackey gave up a solo shot in the fourth.  We tied it up at one when Pedroia smashed a solo shot toward the Monster with two out in the sixth.  It was huge.  I am continually amazed by how much power he’s got when he unleashes.

Lackey’s night ended after six.  But they were six glorious innings.  He gave up only one run on five hits; it was just the one mistake.  He didn’t even walk anybody.  Unfortunately, things fell apart when he left the mound.  Breslow came on, allowed a double, picked up the inning’s first out, and issued a walk.  Then he was pulled in favor of Uehara, who gave up a bases-clearing double.

Tazawa came out for the eighth.  In the bottom of the frame, Napoli walked with two out and scored on a double by Salty to trim the lead to one.  Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.  And we came up just short, 3-2.

In other news, the Bruins finally beat the Penguins, 2-1, in sudden death!

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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The Rangers didn’t stand a chance in this one.  Seriously.  No chance.  I thought our run total against the Yanks was epic, but it turns out that I had another thing coming.  And in this case, I am most definitely happy about that.  We scored so many runs last night that if you cut our run total in half, not only would we still have won, but that total alone would have been considered a ton of runs in most situations.

We did not waste time putting ourselves on top in this one.  Really, we didn’t.  From the very first, both literally and figuratively, we were winning and never looked back.  Nava led off the bottom of the first with a walk, followed by a single by Carp.  Then Pedroia struck out, and Papi hit an RBI double.  Then Napoli walked to load the bases, and Carp scored on a groundout by Salty.  Not exactly the response to a bases-loaded situation that we were looking for, but in the long run, we had absolutely nothing to worry about.

Iglesias led off the second with a double, and Bradley promptly followed that with a homer to right on a 2-1 count.  After that came a single by Nava, a walk by Carp, a flyout by Pedroia, a bases-clearing triple by Papi, and a successful sac fly by Napoli.  Then Salty doubled and scored on a double by Drew.  End our six-run second.

Nava doubled with one out in the third and scored on a single by Carp.  And Drew homered to right center field to lead off the fourth; Carp repeated that performance in the fifth.

Then Salty led off the sixth with a solo shot.  Drew singled, Iglesias reached on a throwing error, and both runners ended up in scoring position.  Drew scored on a groundout by Bradley, and Nava hit a successful sac fly but ended up on third thanks to a fielding error, and he himself scored on a sac fly by Carp.  A single by Salty, a double by Drew, and a bases-clearing single by Iglesias resulted in yet two more runs.

While the offense was getting busy at the plate, Dempster was mighty busy on the mound.  This, I have to say, was a quality start.  The numbers don’t lie.  He gave up a double and consequently a two-run home run in the fourth as well as a solo shot to lead off the sixth.  All told, he pitched a nice, long seven innings.  He gave up just the three runs on five hits while walking only one and striking out six.  Easily one of the best starts we’ve seen from him this year.

Mortensen came on for the eighth; he gave up a single and subsequently a two-run home run of his own.  After that he gave up two singles and a walk and was subsequently replaced by Miller, who ended the inning.  He aced the ninth.

Well, we finally won by a score of 17-5.  There was only one inning during which we did not score: the eighth.  Obviously there was no need to play the bottom of  the ninth.  In the end we racked up nineteen hits.  Thirteen of them were for extra bases: eight doubles, one triple, and four homers.  And that, my friends, is how you play baseball.

In other news, the Bruins completely knocked down the Penguins, 6-1.

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