Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Randy Johnson’

Making sense of the Beltre deal.  Which is not at all as easy as it sounds.

Let’s review, shall we?

Stage One: Theo Epstein looks to trade Mike Lowell to the Rangers for catching prospect Max Ramirez.  This makes sense.  Mike Lowell had a tough year last year, and it’s only going to get tougher.  It’s true that he showed flashes brilliance in the field, but that was in Anaheim, where the weather is nice and warm.  Not so in Boston.  In Boston, it’s either freezing cold or scorching hot.  Lowell would’ve flourished in Texas, with its mild climate and considerably less pressure-cooker-like atmosphere, and the Rangers’ catching prospect would’ve been put to good use in our system, where he would’ve been groomed to give Tek some days off.

Stage Two: The deal is called on account of Mike Lowell’s right thumb.  To emphasize, it was the thumb, not the hip.  Let me repeat: thumb, problem; hip, not so much.  This makes sense.  From Lowell’s performance toward the end of last season, it was clear that his hip was no longer a big issue.  (That is to say, it’s still an issue but not a focus.) Given the right atmosphere, environment, and amount of days off, all signs pointed to a fairly productive year, both at the plate and in the field.  This, however, was with the understanding that Lowell’s thumb was sprained, not injured.  After he failed the physical, what Texas basically had on their hands was a choice between keeping tMax Ramirez or trading him for a third baseman who, in addition to a well-established health concern, would need surgery.  And that wasn’t a gamble Texas was willing to make.  From their perspective, they didn’t want to chance having to start someone at the hot corner who was slated to make multiple trips to the DL, not to mention the fact that the hip affects Lowell’s defense more than his offense.  The thumb would affect Lowell’s defense as well as his offense.  Simply put, no thumb, no swing, no runs, no deal.

Stage Three: Mike Lowell’s surgery is a success.  Red Sox players, staff, fans, and writers welcome Mike Lowell back into the fold.  Red Sox Nation is urged to table our wishes for infielders named Adrian.  Lou Merloni writes a column urging us to separate Mike Lowell from the Edgar Renterias of the baseball world.  As in, when did Mike Lowell reach that point where he was dragging us down to the point where exploring other options became a necessity at all costs? (I mean that literally.  Moving Lowell would necessitate us eating a big chunk of his salary.) I mean, teams routinely field much worse than Mike Lowell.  Presumably, with additional days off in the form of Youk-Lowell shifting to Kotchman-Youk, Lowell would be able to minimize the effects of his hip on his range and maximize his plate appearances.  Recovery from his surgery is fairly brief, and only one or two weeks of Spring Training would be missed.  So not the end of the world.

Stage Four: In complete defiance of Scott Boras’s obsession with long-term contracts, Theo Epstein signs Adrian Beltre to a one-year deal.  Let’s walk through it. The deal is worth nine million dollars with a player option worth six million that will increase to ten million if he makes 640 plate appearances.  The deal was contingent on a physical, which Beltre passed, despite last season’s left shoulder issues.  The deal was a product of interest that’s been expressed since November.  And the deal is very consistent with Theo’s commitment to a major defensive upgrade.  He is expected to bat in the bottom third of the lineup.  (Ellsbury, Pedroia, V-Mart, Youk, Papi, Drew, Cameron, Beltre, Scutaro.  Bang.)

Stage Five: Theo Epstein trades Casey Kotchman to the Mariners for utility man Bill Hall, a prospect to be named later, and cash.  Kotchman is happy to reunite with good friend Chone Figgins.  Lou Merloni writes a column in which he changes his mind, citing the flexibility and ability that a one-year deal with Beltre gives us.

Before we get to the confusing part, let’s take a moment to celebrate what we’re getting.  Beltre put up barely decent numbers at Safeco and Dodger Stadium, so coming to a park that’s friendly to right-handed power hitters promises a nice statistical boost.  Home numbers: .253 average, .311 on-base percentage, .416 slugging percentage.  Road numbers: .287, .338, .488, respectively.  Now, check out the similarity between that latter series and Lowell’s career stats: .280, .343, .468, respectively.  And just to leave no stone unturned, in 162 games Lowell hits on average forty doubles, twenty-three home runs, and ninety-eight RBIs.  Compare that to Beltre’s average thirty-nine doubles, twenty-six homers and ninety-nine RBIs in 162 road games.  Coincidence? I think not.  Also, the deal, coupled with the Kotchman transaction, will have minimal impact on our finances.  And it kept Boras off our backs because, after said statistical boost, Beltre’s marketing value will increase substantially.  The brevity of the contract keeps the Major League option open for our top prospects.  So our defense goes through the roof, our pitching is way too solid for words, our offense will in all likelihood defy expectations, our top prospects stay in our organization, and we maintain flexibility, both financially and baseball-wise.

But in light of Lowell’s remainder with us, the fourth and fifth stages of this saga aren’t easy to explain.  After Lowell-to-Texas failed, everyone more or less accepted the fact that Lowell would be the face of Fenway’s third base in 2010.  That thought process was fueled by the fact that we’ve had our foot in Beltre’s door since November; we wanted to trade Lowell to make room for Beltre, so as soon as Lowell wasn’t going anywhere, it seemed pretty obvious that neither was Beltre.  Then we suddenly signed Beltre and made room for him by shipping Kotchman across the country.  What’s unclear to me is the effect this will have on Lowell’s role.  Will playing time be split fifty-fifty, sixty-forty, or eighty-twenty? It’s a Crisp-y situation; once it became apparent that Ellsbury was about to start in center field, Coco Crisp was allowed to walk, and rightly so.  Coco Crisp is a starter, not a benchwarmer.  Same with Lowell, but also with Beltre.  What do you do when you have two starters, one of whom was explicitly acquired to replace the other before the other left the picture, a state of affairs that received extra emphasis when Kotchman was shipped off? With all eyes on Beltre, what is Lowell’s fate in 2010?

That’s actually a fairly easy question to answer.  We’ll either move him or we won’t.  If we don’t, he’d contribute in the field when he’s called upon and wouldn’t when he isn’t.  And he’d see a good amount of time at the plate as a pinch-hitter.  The upside of this is that it builds in much-needed rest time for Lowell and gives us a considerable upgrade in defense and age in Beltre.  And one thing that we can’t altogether rule out if we keep Lowell is the possibility that Beltre may turn out to be a chip for Adrian Gonzalez come the trading deadline.  It would be swapping one corner infielder for another, but Youk’s versatility would allow us to do that.  Besides, when you’re talking about someone like Adrian Gonzalez, you trade first and maneuver later.

Our last piece of big news is our outfield situation.  Ellsbury has officially been moved to left in order to make more room for Cameron in center.  This is way better than having Ellsbury in center than Cameron in left, even though having Ellsbury in left is a complete waste of his talents.  Whatever; when Cameron leaves Boston, Ellsbury goes back to center.  Meanwhile, it’s a wise choice.  Cameron’s only start in left was in 2000, and he hasn’t been in either corner since that nasty collision he had with Carlos Beltran back in ’05.  Meanwhile, Ellsbury is young, skilled, adaptable, and flexible.  He’s so good that he could handle any of the three outfield positions.  In fact, the relative ease of playing left as opposed to center decreases his risk of injury, and the decrease in covered territory could translate to an increased application of his abilities to the basepaths.  Basically, it comes down to the fact that Ellsbury would be infinitely better in left than Cameron but would be less better, though still better, than Cameron in center, while Cameron’s performance in left would presumably be abysmal to his performance in center.

Loose ends for the week: Josh Beckett will be gold this year because he’s up for contract, Papi will be feeling the offensive pressure (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it means a really good workout regimen), and Randy Johnson finally retired.  Also, congratulations to three New Haven County, Connecticut communities that successfully pressured Cablevision into adding NESN to its basic lineup in those markets.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Rangers, beat the Sens, got smoked by the Blackhawks, and lost to the Rangers again.  The Patriots continue to power through the loss of Wes Welker as the postseason starts tomorrow with a confrontation with the Ravens.

Fire Brand of the American League
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Finally, it starts to get interesting.

Pitching is Theo’s top priority at the Winter Meetings.  It looks like we’re shifting our focus from Roy Halladay to John Lackey.  That’s very good news.  I don’t want to give up both Clay Buchholz and Casey Kelly for a pitcher who is, in all likelihood, past his prime.  Yes, it’s possible he could be another Randy Johnson, who won four straight Cy Youngs after turning thirty-five, or Curt Schilling, who was a Cy Young runner-up three times after turning thirty-three.  But it’s also possible that he just won’t deliver or that he’ll become a medical liability or, worse yet, the dreaded combination of both.  (See Randy Johnson in pinstripes.  Talk about disasters.) And if you compare the two, Roy Halladay doesn’t even enjoy a complete edge in the numbers.  In his career, he started and won more games, struck out more batters, and had a lower ERA, OPP AVG, and WHIP.  But Lackey’s gone the distance more often (which translates to durability, one of Lackey’s strongest assets) and has allowed fewer earned runs, home runs, bases on balls, and hit batters.  And we land Lackey this offseason, it would be through a signing, not a trade, so we wouldn’t have to mortgage our future.  Besides, we theoretically have some money left over from our decision to not pick up Alex Gonzalez’s option.

Supposedly, we’re also seriously pursuing Rich Harden.  I like that less.  He’s got a 3.39 career ERA with 783 strikeouts and a record of fifty and twenty-nine, but he’s never thrown two hundred innings in a season and has only made more than twenty-six starts once.  Durability? Not so much.  But he’d be a good bargain option, arguably a better one than Smoltz or Penny, because he’s pitched in the American League.

Speaking of pitching, the Braves cleaned out two of our peripheral relievers.  Wagner signed a one-year deal worth seven million dollars to close for them.  I would’ve liked to see him come back to Boston, but he did give us fair warning that he wanted to close, and we don’t exactly have a vacancy in that position.  One day later, the Braves signed Saito also, to a one year deal worth just over three million plus incentives.  I’m not too torn up about it.

Say hello to the latest shortstop to don a Boston uniform: Marco Scutaro.  If I sound cynical, it’s because I am.  He’s wearing Number 16; the last Boston shortstop to wear Number 16 was Edgar Renteria, so here’s hoping this time around will work out a little bit better.  Let’s not kid ourselves: he’s a veteran.  He’s a career .265 hitter with fifty home runs, 294 RBIs, and 297 walks to his credit.  But he’s thirty-four years old.  There’s a reason why the deal was only for two years.  It’s worth eleven million dollars plus a dual option.  Things that made this possible: the draft pick we’re getting from the Braves that will offset the one we have to give to the Jays, another undisclosed team pushing hard for Scutaro that forced the issue, and Scurato has reached that point in his career when he really wants a ring.  (Ironically, Alex Gonzalez signed a one-year deal with the Jays earlier, worth close to three million plus an option.) Either way, we now have a shortstop who is not Dustin Pedroia.

That needs to be cleared up once and for all.  Dustin Pedroia said he would be willing to play shortstop if the team needed him to.  But the team wasn’t about to let that happen.  Trust me.  You don’t move a Gold Glove second baseman to short because you don’t want to spend some money.  You don’t do that for a number of reasons.  Not the least of which is the fact that it doesn’t solve anything.  Fine; you move your second baseman to short.  Now you need a second baseman.  Sure, the market for second basemen is more fluid than that for shortstops, but not when you’re talking about second basemen as good as Dustin Pedroia.  Also, the caliber of Pedroia’s defense at short would be comparable to, if not worse than, any career shortstop on the market, with the obvious exception of Julio Lugo.  Thirdly, shortstop is no defensive walk in the park.  It’s the most difficult infield position.  And that means it carries a higher probability of injury, especially for someone who’s not used to it.  So we would have lost valuable playing time from him, both in the field and at the plate, had he made the switch.  Would he have been capable of doing so? Absolutely.  If anyone could, Dustin Pedroia could.  If there’s one ballplayer who embodies the don’t-tell-me-I-can’t-‘cause-I’ll-show-you-I-can attitude, it’s him.  Not to mention the fact that in 2003 he was the NCAA National Defensive Player of the Year at short.  And he’s actually in a better position to play shortstop at the Major League level now than he was when he first came up, due to his offseason workouts and in-season conditioning that have made him lighter and faster.  But even though he’d use his baseball acumen to compensate, his range would leave much to be desired.  And sometimes, in pressure situations in that part of the field, the range of the shortstop is what it comes down to.  It would have put considerable pressure on Mike Lowell to improve his range as compensation, that’s for sure.  So while I’m not doubting Pedroia’s ability to make the switch, I don’t think it would be a good for him or the team in the long run.  The team wasn’t actually serious about that possibility anyway.  Ultimately, Theo never would have allowed it.  Thankfully, it’s a moot point now either way.

But that would explain our earlier interest in Placido Polanco.  After the Tigers declined to offer him arbitration, we made a call or two.  But like I said, we don’t need a second baseman, and even if we did, he was all but off-limits.  The Phillies have since closed the deal.  So much for Chone Figgins, who ended up signing a four-year deal with Seattle.

Last but not least, we extended arbitration to Bay earlier this week.  (We declined offers to Baldelli and Byrd.) That means that, even if he signs with someone else, we get compensatory draft picks.  So the saga continues.

Congratulations to Joe Castiglione, Dave O’Brien, and Jerry Remy for landing on the ballot for the Hall of Fame’s Frick Award, honoring the baseball’s best announcers.  They definitely deserve it.

We beat the Lightning and the Leafs.  Not so much the Habs.  We lost, 1-5, to Montreal.  Ugh.  That was just an awful game to watch.  Even with that loss, though, we’re in first place in the Northeast! Finally! One point ahead of the Sabres, but I’ll take it.  But the most significant B’s news this week has nothing to do with wins and losses.  Marc Savard signed a seven-year extension.  Ladies and gentlemen, that could very well be the highlight of the regular season.  It’s going to have a hugely positive impact it’s going to have on our future.  There is arguably no other center in the league who is as multi-faceted and deeply talented as Marc Savard.  Things aren’t as cheerful on the football front.  Talk about awful games to watch.  The Saints defeated us, 38-17.  Yeah.  Awful.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

Read Full Post »

As usual in these situations, I’m going to cut to the completely unjustifiable chase.  We’re not getting the All-Star Game in 2012.  Kansas City is getting it.  I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock before I continue, because believe me, this was one seriously twisted shock.  Okay.  Apparently, Kauffman Stadium recently completed major renovations.  How nice for Kauffman Stadium.  It’s brand-new, nice and clean, and very fan-friendly.  Congratulations, Kansas City; now Kauffman Stadium is just like every other ballpark that completes major renovations.

Just to review, the reason why we wanted the All-Star Game in 2012 is because Fenway Park will turn one hundred years old.  The oldest ballpark still in use in the United States of America will commemorate a century of baseball.  America’s Most Beloved Ballpark will celebrate its one hundredth birthday.  Think about what Fenway Park has seen in that time.  It’s seen the Royal Rooters, Tris Speaker, Duffy’s Cliff.  It’s seen Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski.  It’s seen Nomar Garciaparra, David Ortiz, 2004, and 2007.  It’s seen a team of royalty followed by a team that committed cruel and unusual losses year after year after year, followed by royalty’s return.  If there is a structure in this country that embodies the history of the game of baseball within its very foundation, it’s Fenway Park.

And Fenway Park was denied.  Why? I have no idea.  What, they can give it to New York because it’s the last year of Yankee Stadium but they can’t recognize that America’s Most Beloved, and oldest, Ballpark will turn a century old? I mean, okay, so Kansas City hasn’t had the All-Star game in forty years and Fenway last had it thirteen years ago, in 1999 when none other than the Splendid Splinter threw out the first pitch.  But Fenway only turns one hundred years old once in a lifetime.  Kansas City could’ve gotten it in 2013.  In fact, it would’ve been okay by me if Kansas City had it every year for another forty years if only we could have it this one time.  Something just doesn’t seem right here.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we are extremely and profoundly disappointed and extremely and profoundly confused.

Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young.  I’ll be very interested to see how he pitches next year.  I don’t think he’ll be as effective.  But I do think Josh Beckett is in line to have a break-out season so dominant that not even CC Sabathia can squeeze past him in the Cy Young voting.  Tim Lincecum won it for the NL, becoming its first repeat winner since Randy Johnson.  Andrew Bailey of Oakland and Chris Coghlan of Florida were the Rookies of the Year.  Mike Scoscia and Jim Tracy of Colorado were the Managers of the Year.  I don’t think I would’ve picked Mike Scoscia.  In my mind, there were three managers this year who faced significant uphill battles and who powered through them: Terry Francona, and then Ron Gardenhire and Ron Washington.  Terry Francona managed us through a lack of shortstop, the entry of a new starting catcher, a decline in the playing time of the team’s captain, a very public steroid scandal, and the worst slump in the career of the figure at the heard of said steroid scandal.  True, every manager deals with things behind closed doors, but what makes Tito’s job so difficult is that those doors are never closed completely.  It’s the nature of sports in Boston.  Gardenhire took the Twins from zero to one-game-playoff winners without Joe Mauer in the first month of the season, Justin Morneau in the last month, or a particularly effective bullpen.  And Washington almost made it to the playoffs this year without big-name talent.  All I’m saying is that, if the award goes to a Manager of the Year within the Angels organization, it should have gone to Torii Hunter, not Scoscia.  He was the real force in that clubhouse.  MVPs will be announced tomorrow.

Again, not much in the way of business yet.  Jason Bay rejected a four-year, sixty-million-dollar offer in favor of testing the free agent market for the first time in his career.  He’s Theo’s priority, though, and I still say he’ll end up back in Boston.  The Cards have already stated that they’re not interested, preferring Matt Holliday instead.  But I think this has the potential to be one of those long, drawn-out negotiations.  By the way, let’s not forget that Jermaine Dye is also a free agent.

We released George Kottaras, who has been claimed by the Brewers.  PawSox manager Ron Johnson will be our new bench coach.  We’re reportedly interested in Adrian Beltre, and we claimed reliever Robert Manuel off waivers.  Before the offseason is done, we’ll probably re-sign Alex Gonzalez and add a low-risk, high-potential starter.  Remember: in an economy like this, you do not need to, nor should you, empty your pockets to win a World Series, no matter what the Evil Empire might assume is the best practice.

Congratulations to John Henry on winning the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship.  Again, corporate social responsibility in this day and age is the way to go.  Unfortunately, though, ticket prices are up this year.  About half the seats were increased by two dollars, including the infield grandstand, right field boxes, and lower bleachers.  The field and loge boxes and Green Monster seats and standing room were increased by five dollars.  The outfield grandstand and upper bleachers weren’t increased.  Whenever you hear about price increases or decreases for tickets at Fenway, remember to always take them with a grain of salt.  Obviously we’d prefer a price freeze, but how many of us really purchase our Fenway tickets at face value anyway? I’m just saying.

So, as per usual this early in the offseason, we have more wait-and-seeing ahead.  Theo never reveals the tricks he has up his sleeve, so that’s really all we can do.

The Bruins suffered a particularly painful loss to the Islanders, 4-1.  I’d rather not talk about it.  We did best Atlanta in a shootout, though, and we eked out a win against the Sabres in sudden death.  That last one was particularly heartening, being that the Sabres are first in the division.  For now.  We’re only two points behind.  And now for the grand finale, let’s discuss Bill Belichick’s oh-so-positive judgment call on Sunday.  In the fourth quarter with a six-point lead, the Pats had the ball on their 28.  Tom Brady’s pass was incomplete.  With two minutes and eight seconds left on the clock, Belichick decided to go for it.  But Kevin Faulk fumbled the ball, and suddenly it was fourth and two.  Needless to say, we lost, 35-34, to the Colts, who are still undefeated.  I mean, it’s a tough call.  Belichick made the same decision against Atlanta and we won.  Then again, we had the lead, we had the time, and we had an opponent that wasn’t Indianapolis.  It was just bad.  It was just really, really bad.

Sawxblog/Derek Hixon

Read Full Post »

In baseball, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas.  In baseball, when something happens in Vegas we know about it.  Especially if it’s something big.  Like CC Sabathia signing with the Yankees for seven years.  To tell you the truth, I don’t know what possessed him.  I don’t know what made him do it.  Maybe it was the uniforms.  Maybe it was Girardi.  Or maybe it was the $160 million, the richest pitcher’s contract in baseball history.

I’m actually not that worried about it.  When Randy Johnson came to the Yankees, he was supposed to be their savior.  In 2005 he was halfway decent, but in 2006 it was just sad.  Next thing you know, he’s back in Arizona.  Who’s to say that won’t happen to CC? Yes, CC’s younger, but he’s filling a similar role; he’s joining a Yankees club that hasn’t won a World Series since 2000 and didn’t even make the playoffs last year.  One guy isn’t going to fix a whole team’s problems, and one guy certainly isn’t going to single-handedly deliver a World Series trophy to the Bronx.  (I mean if Yaz couldn’t do it for Boston, there’s just no way CC can do it for New York.) Besides, a team can pitch and pitch till the cows come home, but unless runners cross the plate it won’t win anything.  In short I don’t think CC will change the fact that the Yankees aren’t going anywhere in October except the golf course.

The Mets also made a bit of a splash by signing K-Rod.  I’m just glad he’s out of the American League.  And Texas dealt catcher Gerald Laird to Detroit for some prospects, which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal unless you consider that we were thinking of making a deal with Texas for a catcher.  We were thinking Taylor Teagarden or Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but now that Laird’s gone they’re basically all Texas has left.  So they’re asking for Buchholz in return, and naturally that’s not going to happen, but meanwhile Varitek refused arbitration and we’re contemplating a Dusty Brown-George Kottaras solution.  I’m telling you, the market for catchers this year is a complete and total disaster.

Our other negotiations are taking on a more positive note.  AJ Burnett’s agent has stated that he’s had “significant dialogue” with us, and why not? AJ Burnett is 31 years old.  His main priority at this point is winning, and he wants to play with a club that’s going to give him the best chance of doing that.  And I’ll give you one guess who that might be.  We’ve been to the ALCS four times in the last six years and won the World Series twice in the last five.  And we’re stepping up our efforts with Mark Teixeira.  He’s 28 and in his prime, and if we sign him it’s Lowell on the block.  Apparently Lowell’s making a fantastic recovery from right hip surgery, so things could get a little complicated, but I have to stick with my original opinion and go with Tex.  Lowell’s contract is up in two seasons, and because of his age it’s unlikely he’ll make much of an impact after that.  Why not import a young player now and let him acclimate himself to the clubhouse? Even though it’s a very difficult decision, at the end of the day it’s about what’s best for the team, and I think the addition of Tex could put us over the top.  It’s not that Lowell is bad, it’s that Tex is just that good.

But through it all Theo doesn’t think anything groundbreaking will take place at the Winter Meetings.  Of course, as he said, some of the biggest deals take place outside the Winter Meetings (I refer you to our acquisition of Jason Bay).  We did, however, accomplish something with one of our own: we’ve secured Dustin Pedroia through 2014 with an option for 2015.  What’s the best part? He probably would’ve made more money going year to year on contracts but signed the extension anyway.  And for once Theo didn’t have to deal with Boras, because Pedroia the Destroyah chose different representation.  Smart man.  (Sam and Seth Levinson, by the way, are his agents.) And if this deal ends up being our biggest accomplishment this offseason, that’s alright with me.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that we agree with Theo’s statement that Dusty “really embodies just about everything we look for in a Red Sox player.”

In other news, the Pats narrowly defeated the Seahawks, 24-21, and the Bruins are just on fire, winning nine of their last ten games and leading the Eastern Conference with 42 points.  That’s good for second in the league behind the Sharks’ 46.  I’m telling you, hockey in Boston this year just keeps getting better and better.

Chris Speakman

Read Full Post »

It’s time I talked about the Manny-Jack incident. It was a horrible thing for Manny to do, and it was an irrational response to a reasonable occurrence. Manny wanted sixteen tickets, there were no sixteen tickets day-of-game and Jack said so, and Manny got angry. I’m not excusing what he did by any means, but I’d like to point out that this issue would be receiving nowhere near the media attention it’s currently receiving if it weren’t for the shoving match between Youk and Manny. All eyes are now focused on Manny when it comes to aggression. Of course, the incident would’ve received coverage, no doubt, but I don’t think it would’ve received as much. As for the apparent lack of consequences, Tito did state that the matter would be handled internally. For all anyone knows, Manny has already been disciplined or fined or something. We’re on the outside, we weren’t there, we don’t know the issues. Manny and Jack have both come forward and asserted that the incident is behind both of them and that they’re still friends.

I agree with the opinion that there should be consequences. But the Red Sox have a tradition of keeping these matters private. You can’t just assume that nothing’s beind done because you’re not reading about it. The Sox handle contract negotiations in complete secrecy, they keep trade information low-key, and they manage internal affairs internally. When Pedro Martinez got into it with Don Zimmer, nobody was ejected from the game. And now plenty of people in Yankee country are calling for public disciplinary action against Ramirez. Well, I didn’t see the Yankees doing anything about Randy Johnson’s shoving of a photographer, telling the man to get out of his face.

Some Boston columnists are even calling for Manny’s suspension. The truth of the matter is that they weren’t there. They weren’t on the scene and they don’t know exactly what happened. You can’t call for a suspension unless you know all the facts, and with the Red Sox handling it internally, a strategy with which I completely agree (it keeps the team focused instead of stewing in the public’s opinion of an issue), that just isn’t going to happen.

Read Full Post »

So Wakefield is 42 years old; big deal. Randy Johnson is 44, he has 5 Cy Youngs, he can throw in the high 90s, and he still lost. He lost to an aging knuckleballer whose fastball is slow and whose change up moves at a snail’s pace. But that’s Wakefield’s way. And it works. Wake has a lifetime contract with Boston. He said his momentum changed for the better after his loss to Erik Bedard on May 28. In his last six starts, he’s 2-2 with a 2.09ERA. Can you believe this? And last night was no exception. Tim Wakefield pitched a two-hitter yesterday, walking one and striking out six over seven shutout innings. His overall ERA is 3.88. If he continues at this rate, he’ll reach double digits in the win column for sure. Absolutely unbelievable. I’m telling you, over this stretch he’s pitched better than he’s pitched in a long time. I guess when you’re a knuckleballer you don’t age as fast as you’d think.

The offense gave him some nice support, too. Lowell scored the first two runs, both of which were brought home by Brandon Moss, and Kevin Cash collected three RBIs when he hit is first home run in three years in the eighth inning to pad the lead. The contest was the first career three-double-game for Coco Crisp, who’s getting hot, and Pedroia hasn’t lost an offensive step, either. Ironically, the Drew brothers did nothing offensively during the series; JD was 0 for 9 and Stephen was 0 for 11. But having JD in right field is worth it. He’s got a great arm and knows Fenway, and the Diamondbacks proved what can happen if you don’t know Fenway. They’ve been having problems all series long with the dimensions of the park, especially the Green Monster, the triangle, and the right field corner. It was really fun to watch.

Delcarmen pitched an inning with two strikeouts, and Hansen came in to finish it off. He recorded two outs but loaded the bases in the process, so Pap again got the save by striking out the last batter. His ERA is currently 2.08 and just keeps getting lower and lower. But having taken another look at him last night, it’s becoming clear to me that he is in fact declining in efficiency. That could be a problem if he doesn’t keep up his health, because we don’t want a repeat of his labrum injury. I seriously doubt that’ll happen, but when you’re a power pitcher and you’re throwing at those speeds, you should try to shave away the balls and just throw strikes. He doesn’t need the extra work, especially at a time when injuries have made every offensive contribution important; we can’t afford to have him blow many more saves. We need those wins.

But we’re doing fine. We’re in first place by a game, and we’re 5.5 games above third-place New York. Series with both teams are coming up. I’m actually feeling pretty good about it. Both series will be intense, but the Red Sox are up to the challenge. Every game in Boston is intense.

Tim Wakefield, 6/25/2008

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was Jerry Remy Day, honoring the twenty years of Remdawy’s colorful color commentary in the booth. Jerry is a great man. A knowledgeable man. A presidential man. A Sovereign man. He batted left and threw right. He debuted with the Angels on April 7, 1975 and retired with his home club, the Red Sox, on May 18, 1984. He averaged .275, stole 208 bases, and scored 605 runs. Here’s to the great baseball you played, the great city where you stayed, and the great commentary you’ve made. Here’s to twenty more years of Boston baseball with Remy on NESN. And here’s to the fabulous comeback the club made to win on Jerry Remy Day.

We were losing, 4-1, into the eighth inning, and I agree with Dustin Pedroia: they were eight pathetic innings. Just some really pathetic baseball, with the exception of Pedroia’s solo home run in the first inning. And again, just like in the 2007 ALCS, as Drew and Pedroia go, so go the Red Sox. (Interestingly, Drew didn’t do much offensively yesterday, but he did make a great catch inches from the bullpen.) The eighth inning arrived, and Lugo started things off with a base hit. In a snap, we scored three runs, Doug Davis was taken out and Chad Qualls was put in, and we scored two more. Pedroia batted in another run, and Lowell batted in two. The fifth run supplied by the captain himself, whose clutch single batted in the winning run. We won the game, 5-4. It’s safe to say Varitek is officially out of that slump of his. What a relief. We could use the extra offense.

Say hello to our first home victory against the D-Backs, people! Chris Smith got the win. He issued one walk and one strikeout in his two innings pitched, and his ERA is 1.50. Obviously a good kid. It’ll be interesting to see what roll he’ll play in the pitching staff. Masterson wasn’t bad, either, going six innings again and giving up four runs on seven hits with four walks and four strikeouts. He did commit an error on a pickoff move, though, and he’s pitched better. But still not a bad outing. Pap collected is 22nd save, a refreshing redemption after he blew his last save. Watching him yesterday, I didn’t think he was as efficient as he usually is. He’ll snap out of it; he always does.

In other news, David Ortiz could be picking up a bat today. Smile, Red Sox Nation; he’s getting closer! The Yankees lost yesterday, which means they’re still soundly in third. Trot Nixon is a Met. Wakefield is starting against Randy Johnson tonight, and Johnson is actually older than Wakefield and definitely much uglier. And don’t forget to vote Boston for the All-Start Game. Voting ends next week, and Tek could use a little help in that department.

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, 6/24/2008

Brita Meng Outzen/MLB.com

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »