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Posts Tagged ‘Rickey Henderson’

We celebrated the fifth anniversary of our complete and total decimation of the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS on Tuesday.  Just thinking about that 10-3 final score gives me goosebumps.  That was the greatest day in the history of New England for all of a week before we won it all.  World champions.  I said this at the time, and I say it every year, because it’s true: it never gets old.  No matter how many wins anyone else may be able to rack up, none of them will ever measure up to 2004.  Ever.  And no defeat will ever be as painful as the one the Yankees experienced.  There’s a reason why it’s called the greatest comeback in the history of baseball.  And I wouldn’t have wanted to get to the big stage any other way.

Meanwhile, Tim Bogar and Brad Mills interviewed for the Astros’ managerial job.  That’s not something I want to hear.  Mills has been our bench coach for the past six seasons, and he’s done a great job.  Obviously I’m rooting for his success, but I just hope that success is achieved in Boston, not in Houston.

And supposedly we’re chasing Adrian Gonzalez via trade.  This could get very interesting, very quickly.  At twenty-seven years of age, he hit forty home runs, batted in ninety-nine RBIs this year, led the Major Leagues in walks, and finished the season with a .407 on-base percentage.  But wait; the plot thickens.  One of our assistant GMs, Jed Hoyer, is about to become the Padres’ GM.  (This leaves Ben Cherington as our only assistant GM.  The decision is likely to be announced in the next few days.  Bud Selig doesn’t want clubs making such major announcements during the World Series, so it’ll happen beforehand, especially since Hoyer will need to get his personnel in place and prepare for the GMs meeting starting on November 9.) So if one of them lands the job, our options become wide-open, and the road to the trade just got re-paved.  The important question here is who is on the block.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Mike Lowell and prospects; Youk would then move to third permanently while Gonzalez plays first.  But I don’t know if the Padres would bite.  I think it’s safe to say Youk won’t be going anywhere; he’s too good at the plate and in the field.  And I don’t think Pedroia even enters into this discussion.  So I think Lowell, prospects, and bench players are up for grabs.

Speaking of Pedroia, check this out.  During his MVP season, he swung at the first pitch fifteen percent of the time.  This past year, that stat was down to seven percent.  Furthermore, during his MVP season he hit .306 with eight doubles and two dingers on the first pitch.  This past year, he hit .167 with four hits, period.  And if you don’t consider his one-pitch at-bats, his numbers from the two season are almost exactly the same.  But there’s a trade-off.  With more patience came twenty-four more walks and a comparable on-base percentage despite the thirty-point drop in average.  And while we’re on the subject of examining the season via stats, the only Red Sox catcher since 1954 who’s had a better average in September than Victor Martinez is Carlton Fisk.  Just to give you an idea of how ridiculously awesome V-Mart is.  Youk has had the highest OPS in the American League since 2008.  (It’s .960, a full ten points higher than A-Rod’s.  I’m just sayin’.) Jacoby Ellsbury is one of only six since 1915 to bat over .300 with forty-five extra-base hits and seventy steals; the other five are Ty Cobb, Rickey Henderson, Willie Wilson, Tim Raines, and Kenny Lofton.  David Ortiz hit more home runs than anyone in the AL since June 6, but only six of those were hit with runners in scoring position and struggled immensely against lefties.  In three of his past four seasons, Jason Bay has experienced a slump starting sometime in June and ending sometime in July that lasts for about a month.

Saito cleared waivers on Monday, but mutual interest in his return has been expressed.  Why not? He finished the year with a 2.43 ERA, the eighth-lowest in the Majors for a reliever with forty-plus appearances.  Wakefield had surgery at Mass General on Wednesday to repair a herniated disk in his back.  The surgery was successful, he’ll begin rehab immediately, and expect him to be pitching before Spring Training.

In other news, Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt fired his wife, Jamie, from her position as CEO of the organization.  Ouch.  Now she’s amassing an army of investors in an effort to possibly buy out her husband.  Ouch times two.  This could potentially ruin the team; when the organization’s top officials are preoccupied with marriage and ownership disputes, it’s harder to focus on free agency, harder to allocate funds to the right players, and therefore harder to be good.  Not that I’m complaining; Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez blew it this year and I’m looking forward to the Dodgers dropping down in the standings.

That’s a wrap for this week.  Not too much goes on until the stove gets hot, but this is when Theo gets his winter game plan together.  If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that he’ll be making some serious moves.  After a postseason finish like ours, that’s really the only thing you can do.

The Pats crushed the Titans last weekend.  Seriously.  The final score was 59-0.  It was ridiculous.  The Bruins, on the other hand, could do better.  We lost to Phoenix, shut out Dallas, lost a shootout to the Flyers, and won a shootout to the Senators.  We traded Chuck Kobasew to the Wild for right winger Craig Weller, still in the AHL; rights to forward Alex Fallstrom, a freshman at Harvard; and a second-round draft pick in 2011.  So it could be a while before we see a return on this move, but it freed cap space in preparation for next offseason, when Tuukka Rask, Blake Wheeler, and Marc Savard all hit the free agent market.  And make no mistake: Peter Chiarelli was sending a message.  If you underperform, you’re gone, because we can use the financial flexibility of a trade to make us more competitive than you’re making us right now.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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With a little help from Boston Dirt Dogs for that headline.  Clay Buchholz made his first Major League start of the season last night, and if you ask anyone in that organization, they’ll tell you he was ready to join the rotation the day after Spring Training.  But we found ourselves with a surplus of arms, so we sent him down the minute his ERA touched 1.00.  Such are our high standards in Boston.  Of course, the irony is that now we’re in a position where we could use another bat, not another pitcher.  Depending on Lowell and Lowrie when they return, though, so maybe not.  We’ll see.  Anyway, not the point.

One of the best things about last night’s game was that it was played.  After the home run derby and the All-Star Game and two days off, it felt so good to watch baseball.  I also liked the fact that it was a win.  But for our future, the most important thing about it was that Buchholz looked fantastic.  He looked ready to jump to the rotation tomorrow.  I’m just glad all that time in Triple-A actually paid off.  It has to be difficult to throw a no-hitter then have a horrible season and be sent down, because you’re thinking if you can throw a no-hitter, how hard could pitching in the Majors possibly be? Hard.  Trust me.  But Buchholz shone yesterday.  Five and two-thirds innings, one run on four hits, three walks, three K’s.  Short but really sweet.  He mixed his pitches effectively; he threw about fifty percent four-seams and the rest off-speeds.  He ranged from nintey-six miles per hour to eighty-one.  And you know how nasty his off-speed stuff is.  Especially his changeup.  I could watch this kid throw changeups all day.  The key was that he was consistent with his control, and he just walked all over Toronto.  He was optioned back down after the game, and the only reason he was pitching in the first place was to give Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield, our pitching All-Stars, extra rest before starting the second half.  Hey, sometimes the traveling wears on you.

The offense really didn’t have a problem handling Ricky Romero.  Ricky Romero was handled and re-handled. Pedroia scored twice, and you have to love his defense.  Third inning with a two-run lead and a man on first, there was a bullet hit right at him.  He dropped to his knees, caught it, and threw to Green who threw to Youk for the inning-ending double play.  Youk got the whole thing started with a two-run jack in the first, his seventeenth of the year, into the left-field seats.  Oh, and played first.  You read right.  Youk played first last night, because ladies and gentlemen, Lowell is back, and he is back with a vengeance.  He went two for four and made a throwing error but we’ll forgive him for that.  Nice.  Papi went two for four with a double and drove in two.  The final score was 4-1.

The bullpen pitched very well.  Daniel Bard struck out three of the four batters he faced and earned a hold for his service.  Okajima also earned a hold.  Paps earned a save, and when I say earned I mean earned.  He threw eight pitches, six of them strikes, to finish the ninth.  I like where this is going.

The Red Sox and Jason Bay have decided not to talk about a contract until the season is over after talks during the All-Star break were unsuccessful.  This, I don’t like.  I’m very confident that in the end a deal will be cut, but I don’t like this hanging in the breeze.  He’s a five-tool guy, he loves it here, and he plays very well here.  A deal will be cut.  Bay himself said he feels better after these failed talks than after the failed talks during Spring Training.  Somehow, Theo is making progress.  In Theo we trust.  Shortstop issues notwithstanding.  Which brings me to my next point.  That was the bad news, that we didn’t lock up Bay right away.

The good news is that we’ve finally designated Julio Lugo for assignment! It happened on Friday.  He has $13.6 million left but at this point I think that money’s better spent paying him not to play than paying him to strike out and make errors.  Harsh but true.  It also has to do with roster space.  Aaron Bates was optioned to make room for Lowell.  Buchholz was optioned back down to make room for Jed Lowrie.  And with Lowrie back and Green in full swing, Lugo doesn’t have a spot.  It’s no secret that, if Theo Epstein does have a weakness, it’s at the shortstop position.  He traded Nomar for Orlando Cabrera, which was good.  He let Orlando Cabrera walk in favor of Edgar Renteria, which was fine until his defense started declining, so we traded him.  Then it was Alex Gonzalez, who flashed leather left and right but did nothing at the plate.  So then we signed Lugo, who was supposed to be our leadoff man.  We all know how that went.  We need both at the same time: defense and offense.  And we’ve waited and waited for a shortstop who does both at the same time, and he’s arrived.  His name is Jed Lowrie.  And he comes from in-house.  And he’s back.  And I’m psyched.  And as far as Theo Epstein is concerned, we have the money to pay for this if he can’t trade Lugo, and we forgive him.  He’s made two mistakes: Gagne and Lugo.  After all the good he’s done, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say we can let this one go.

And last but not least, Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson are getting ready to enter the Hall of Fame.  They’re the first left fielders inducted in twenty years.

So there you go.  It was just a great day and a great game.  We’re now on a four-game winning streak.  We’re well-rested.  We start the second half three games up on the Yankees.  We have Penny throwing against Marc Rzepczynski, which should be a pretty good matchup.  I like it.

AP Photo

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