Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco Giants’

Congratulations to Beltre for winning a Silver Slugger! He most definitely deserved it.  I wish I could say the same for Vlad Guerrero, who won it instead of Big Papi, which is ridiculous.  Guerrero hit .300 with twenty-nine homers, 115 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of .496.  Sounds great.  Until you consider the fact that he only hit nine homers after the All-Star break and posted a measly OPS of .748.  Papi hit thirty-two homers and posted a slugging percentage of .529 and OPS of .899.  Notice that all of Papi’s numbers are higher than Vlad’s.  Theoretically, this should result in his fifth Silver Slugger at DH, but for some absurd and unknown reason, it didn’t.  He and Josh Beckett can commiserate this offseason, because that’s just not right.

Pedroia’s rehab is progressing ahead of schedule.  I’m not surprised by that.  I am relieved, not just for the team and for Red Sox Nation but also for Pedroia, who’s been itching to play for months now.

Ladies and gentlemen, the stove is finally starting to heat up.  Finally.  We have confirmed official contact with Werth’s agent.  We are supposedly interested in Zack Greinke and Justin Duchsherer.  We have statements from Theo about his commitment to re-sign Beltre and V-Mart, with the obvious emphasis on V-Mart.  Meanwhile, Peter Gammons is convinced that Theo is going to move on without V-Mart because he says the Sox are sure Salty can handle the job.  I’m going to take Theo’s word on this instead.

Perhaps the ultimate free agent, or at least the one everyone’s talking about these days, is Cliff Lee.  Everyone thought Lee is going to be a Yankee for sure.  Nothing would please me less, but I don’t think that’s as likely as people think.  He’s thirty-two years old, and if New York decides to give him a Sabathia-like contract with heaps of money and, less intelligently, heaps of years, I will lose negative respect for their organization, because trust me, there isn’t any there to begin with now.  My next guess would be the Angels, but they’ve already set their sights on Carl Crawford, although that could change since the Giants proved that, yes, you can win with pitching.  (Which only confirms the fact that we’re going to win the World Series this year, by the way.  Just sayin’.) Detroit could be an option since they’ve made payroll room.  The most likely competitor for New York right now appears to be the Rangers, who are in hot pursuit, and offers could come in from the Phillies and Brewers as well.

The Mets won’t spend this offseason, the Cubs want youth, the Reds are in the process of offering Arroyo an extension, and I’m so sorry to say this, but I don’t think we’re going to be in the mix for this one.  A sizeable chunk of our payroll is currently devoted to our starting rotation, and on top of that we just don’t have the space for Lee right now.  So it makes sense to leave him alone.  Otherwise, we basically wouldn’t be able to do anything else.  Lee is absolutely awesome, so again, it hurts to say so, but we’re making the right move here.

An interesting question to ask is whether the acquisition of Lackey kept us from Lee.  I think the answer would have to be yes, but I think we’ll get more bang for our buck with Lackey than we would have with Lee.  Lackey is a competitive workhorse.  He absorbs innings like a sponge.  We need a guy like that in there, especially if we’ve got another guy on whom you can’t necessarily depend to go deep.  (That would be Dice-K.) Lackey complements that, and that way the bullpen knows it’s going to have a light night for each overtime it works.  Depending on how this season goes, I’d be ready to say we made the right decision.  That’s the key right there.  Lee is a competitive workhorse too, and he also absorbs innings like a sponge.  But he won’t be absorbing anyone’s innings like anything unless they’re ready to fork over substantial coin and years.  Provided that my predictions about Lackey returning to top form his sophomore season come true, Lackey is the better option because he’ll probably end up being cheaper than both.  I have a feeling that Lee’s next contract is going to be huge.  So Lackey gives us more flexibility that way.  Sure, Lee arguably would be better, but like I said, if Lackey is back to his stellar self as of now, the difference in quality won’t be that large; meanwhile, we spend less money and don’t have to commit the better part of an entire decade.

We traded Dustin Richardson to the Marlins for Andrew Miller.  The Jays just hired PawSox manager Torey Lovullo as their new first base coach.  Our minor league infield coordinator, Gary DiSarcina, is now the assistant to the Angels’ general manager.  DeMarlo Hale will interview with the Mets for their managerial position.  The disadvantage of having a top-flight staff is that everyone wants a piece.  Hopefully for us, this goes nowhere.

In a spectacular combination of divine intervention and rational thought, ESPN will not renew the contracts of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.  Oh, happy day.  Twenty-one years of suffering through commentary that was anything but insightful and unbiased is officially over.  Dan Shulman will replace Miller.  At this point, anything is an improvement.

In other news, the Bruins started the week with a victory over the Penguins, 7-4.  Seven goals in a single game.  Wow.  Then we just had to lose to the Habs, 3-1.  Yesterday’s game didn’t bode too well either; the Sens shut us out, 2-0.  Those were not the same Senators we shut out, 4-0.  That was a completely different team.  On behalf of Bruins fans everywhere, I’d like to extend condolences to the family of Pat Burns, who coached us in the late ’90s.  Last Sunday, the Pats delivered one of the absolute worst performances I have ever had the misfortune of seeing.  We lost, 34-14, to none other than the Cleveland Browns.  The Cleveland Browns! I was seeing Super Bowl glory, and then all of a sudden we lost by twenty points to the Cleveland Browns? To make matters worse, Stephen Gostkowski will probably be out for two games with a quad strain.  The only silver lining I can possibly muster in this situation is that the Pats have a tendency to bounce back from big losses in a big way.  Right on time for us to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

Getty Images

Read Full Post »

The Giants won the World Series.  That in and of itself has absolutely nothing to do with us, other than two facts: we were one of only four teams to post a winning record against them this past season, and free agency has finally begun.

We declined options on Felipe Lopez and Bill Hall.  I like that move on Hall.  He proved to be an incredibly key asset this season with all the injuries, but it makes more sense to defer action on him until we get more of a sense of the direction we’ll be taking this winter.  We did exercise our option on Atchison.  I’m fine with that.  He’s not the best reliever in the world, but he is a reliever, and we need those.

Beltre declined his option.  That’s about the most surprising news I’ve heard in the last minute.  He’s actually not in as good of a spot as he thinks he is.  His value is up this offseason because of the awesome season he just had with us.  But one of the reasons why he had that awesome season with us is Fenway.  As soon as he signs with another team, he doesn’t play in Fenway, and his bat changes.  I’m not saying Fenway made him the great slugger he was this past year, but I’m saying it was certainly helpful.

V-Mart and Tek both filed.  V-Mart and Tek will, in all likelihood, both be back.

We picked up Papi’s option.  There’s an interesting story.  Papi spent this past week very publicly expressing a desire for an extension.  He didn’t want to return only for one year because all the speculation about the possibility of his decline would return.  I see where he’s coming from, and I believe him.  We probably will spend all of the first half of next season reading the exact same articles that say the exact same thing they said last year before, lo and behold, he returned to form and a good time was had by all.  So if I were him, I’d be tired of all that too.  At the same time, I respect Theo’s decision.  Theo has his own reasons for only wanting to lock Papi for a year, and he can’t abandon those reasons just because of the media’s obsessive tendencies.  Extensions were discussed, but the parties couldn’t agree.  Now that the option has been picked up, Papi isn’t upset about it.  He told Theo he’s cool with it, in those words.  And Theo basically said afterwards that they wouldn’t have picked up the option if Papi weren’t cool with it.  The man hasn’t been a free agent since 2002.  I don’t think he’s going to be a free agent any time soon.  He’ll have another monster year this year, and again, a good time will be had by all.

We picked up Brent Dlugach from Detroit for cash considerations or a player to be named later.  He’s basically a career minor league shortstop.  He gives us depth, and the transaction isn’t even finalized until April 15, so we get all of Spring Training to see how he does.

Meanwhile, Youk continues to be the picture of versatility and teamwork.  He said he doesn’t care where he plays – first base, third base, even shortstop – as long as the team’s needs are met and as long as he gets to stay in the infield.  I personally would love to see him just stay put at first.  He’s also excellent at third, but at first he’s a cut above everybody.

What could complicate that is the fact that the Padres are going to trade Adrian Gonzalez.  That is a verifiable fact.  And we are going to be interested.  That is another verifiable fact.  The problem is that Gonzalez wants a Teixeira-like contract: lots of money and lots of years.  The question is whether he’d be worth it, and that depends on how our offseason goes.

Finally, last but most definitely not least, we have our new pitching coach: Curt Young.  For all intents and purposes, Tito knew Farrell would be gone, so he and Farrell independently compiled their own lists of good fits.  Young was at the top of both lists, and I’m going to trust in whoever makes the top of two different lists like that.  Young leaves one sabermetrics-obsessed team for another.  He coached for the A’s for the last seven seasons but turned down their extension in favor of free agency to come here.  Last year, Oakland had the best ERA in the American League with 3.58.  During his seven years, Oakland has an AL-best ERA of 4.03 and an AL-best OPP AVG of .257.  They allowed an AL-low 1,062 home runs.  John Farrell will be sorely missed, and I really wish he’d stayed on with us because he’s basically the best, period, but if I had to pick someone to replace him, I’d agree with him and Tito.  There really isn’t much more to say.  Farrell left, we needed a pitching coach, and Young it is.  Welcome to Boston.

In other news, the Bruins had a record game this week.  We beat the Sabres, 5-2, on Wednesday in an epic contest.  But then we lost to the Caps and to the Blues in overtime, which shattered our status as undefeated on the road, which did set a new franchise record.  Thomas is undefeated in eight starts this season and is the first goalie in franchise history to be so.  We are seven, two, and one overall, second in the division behind the Habs whom we will surely soon surpass.  The Pats killed the Vikings, 28-18.

Boston Globe Staff/Bill Greene

Read Full Post »

Simply put, if you thought Friday’s game reminded you of 2004, you didn’t see anything yet until you saw yesterday’s game.  In Friday’s game, we had the potentially winning grand slam but it wasn’t enough.  Yesterday, it was enough.  It wasn’t deep, but it was as dramatic as ever.  We won it in true 2004 fashion.

Dice-K’s performance was mediocre.  He pitched six innings, gave up four runs on eight hits, walked two, and struck out five on 108 pitches.  His efficiency is clearly improving, but it’s easy to see that his hit total prevented him from staying in longer past a reasonable pitch count.  His fastball, slider, curveball, and cutter were actually thrown well.  He did not throw a single changeup for a strike, though.  His bad inning wasn’t actually so bad labor-wise; he threw only twenty-two pitches in the first, but he gave up a two-run shot in the process.  Still, it’s a step in the right direction.  It could have been worse.  He could have given up twice the runs in twice the pitches.  And we’ve seen him do that before.  So technically we should be thankful.  His strike zone was completely random.  He didn’t deliver any wild pitches, but he certainly made some pitches that were pretty wild.

Richardson and Atchison combined to pitch the seventh, when we got on the board.  Ryan Kalish, promoted as Hermida was designated for assignment, hit an RBI single and scored on McDoanld’s double.  Kalish would finish the night two for four.  And he started in left field without making an error, which is kind of a big deal.  (It was actually Beltre who made our error.  Unfortunately no surprise there.) That’s a great kid we’ve got here.  Looks kind of like Trot Nixon when he’s out there, actually.  The future in the outfield looks bright.  Anyway, those were part of a string of four straight hits.  So we cut the deficit in half.

Before the inning was over, Papi found himself at the plate with the bases loaded and two out.  He struck out.  Worst.  Foreshadowing.  Ever.

Atchison and Okajima continued to hold the Tigers at bay.  And now we come to the bottom of the ninth.  The grand finale.  I’m telling you, this will smack of 2004 like you wouldn’t believe.

McDonald led off the inning with an infield single.  Then Lowrie pinch-hit and stroked a double.  Then Youk was intentionally walked (after being hit by a pitch earlier; the irony continues).  So the bases were loaded, and Youk would be on the move no matter what because he was the winning run.

Then Big Papi stepped up, in all his Big Papi glory.  He took some pitches.  He even showed bunt.  Then he ripped a double into the hole in left-center field and emptied the bases.  We won, 5-4.  Just like that.  Sometimes one swing is all it takes.  As soon as I saw that ball reach the Monster, I knew Youk was coming home and we were going to win.  So the Tigers walked the winning run.  How ‘bout that.

And I was watching all of this and reminiscing like crazy.  After Friday night and yesterday, how can you not? Especially when you see Papi get mobbed.

They say that the more successful you are in the All-Star Home Run Derby, the worse your timing and average are afterwards.  David Ortiz has officially disproven this theory.  He finished the night two for five, extending his hitting streak to nine games during which he’s batted .308 with twelve RBIs.  That’s his eighteenth walkoff hit, and it’s particularly impressive considering Coke is a southpaw and Papi’s average against southpaws coming into yesterday’s game was a mere .190 with one home run.  Particularly against Coke, Papi didn’t have even one hit to his credit in eight at-bats.  Well, he changed that in a hurry.  Coke’s fastball ended up away.  Papi was waiting for a fastball away.  That’s pretty much how it happens.

And I think the outcome of Friday’s game played a big part in our win yesterday because it shows you that you have no way to know which run will be the winning run.  You can’t afford to give up because you don’t know who’ll turn it around when.  So you just have to keep chipping away because something like yesterday might happen, and you’ll walk off with a win.  Literally.  It was epically awesome.

The trading deadline came and went yesterday.  Nothing earth-shattering happened, although we did go against the grain.  The theme of this year’s trading deadline was bullpen improvement for most teams, but Theo decided to go for catching improvement.  He traded Ramon Ramirez to the Giants for a minor leaguer.  It’s been fun, but he wasn’t as good as he’d been when he first arrived, and his impact has been minimal of late.  And we landed Saltalamacchia (that is spelled right – I triple-checked) from the Rangers for two prospects, a player to be named later, and cash considerations.  Salty will spend some time in the minors for now while Cash continues to play for Tek.

The market on the whole was loaded with starters and bats but skimpy on outfielders and relievers.  Figures.  We don’t need any of the former; we need the latter.  The problem of course is that our current status in the standings is deceiving.  We’re playing without key members of our lineup.  It wouldn’t make sense to make an earth-shattering move because we’re not really as bad as we look right now.  We don’t need another bat; we have bats.  They just happen to be on the disabled list at the moment.  It’s a tough position to be in.  But I think Theo ultimately made the right choice in standing pat.  Our performance with those bats present in the lineup before the break proves it.  In Theo we trust.  It’ll all work out.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

Read Full Post »

There’s the reminder of good pitching that we’ve been looking for! You can always count on Lester for one of those.  I mean, that wasn’t just good pitching.  That was great pitching.  That was outstanding pitching.  That was you-have-absolutely-no-chance pitching.

Dude went the distance for the second time this season and sixth time in his career.  That’s what I call taking one for the bullpen, although for him it really wasn’t that hard.  He had, as he is wont to have, the right stuff.  103 pitches in nine innings.  One run on five hits.  One run. Nine strikeouts.  His ERA is now down to 2.86.  Ridiculous.

His cut fastball was a thing of beauty.  He topped it out at ninety-three miles per hour.  His sinker, changeup, and curveball were excellent.  With the exception of the slider, of which he only threw one, the vast majority of all his pitches were thrown for strikes.  Really, he had a seventy-four percent strike rate for his pitch total.  That’s obscenely high.  Three-quarters of his pitches were thrown for strikes.  No wonder he was so efficient.

He threw a game-high of sixteen pitches in the sixth.  For a lot of pitchers in the Majors, that’s the least number of pitches they throw in a game.  He packed up the ninth in only six pitches.  Only six! That’s what I call taking care of business.

Beyond that, he pretty much had everything going.  The tight release point, the mix of pitches, the speed variation, the excellent movement.  He used every pitch in any count.  He was fearless.  You name it, he had it.  Including the win, of course.  He totally stole the show from Lincecum.  By the time Lester finished the ninth, Lincecum had been watching from the dugout for six innings.  You read right.  Tim Lincecum, the gem of the National League, the winner of the Cy Young Award, was removed after the third after throwing seventy-nine pitches.  If Lincecum thought he’d be able to go out there and hold his own opposite Lester, he had quite another thing coming.

The final score was 5-1, and we scored four of our runs against Lincecum alone.  Starting with Papi’s home run in the first.  I’ve heard it called a water shot, because essentially that’s what it was.  It was arguably the farthest, most powerful home run that David Ortiz has ever hit in his career.  It sailed over the infield, over the outfield, and right into McCovey Cove, the body of water behind the right field stands.  Two outs, full count, an eighty-six mile-per-hour split-fingered fastball up in the zone and he gave a kayaker a nice memnto.  It was the seventy-second time someone hit a ball in there in the history of AT&T Park, the twentieth time by a visitor.  It was Papi’s sixteenth long ball of the season, and man, was it long.  Right field is 365 feet, and then you have the stands, and then the water.  So yeah.  That was a long home run.

In the second, Lester helped his own cause by scoring V-Mart on a well-hit sac fly, followed by an RBI single by Scutaro.  Speaking of V-Mart, as if our injury list couldn’t possibly get any worse, guess who’s out for the count? He fractured his left thumb and left the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.  Great.  Just great.  This just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it.  Well, then.  We’ll have to step it up even more, won’t we.

In the third, Youk singled, Drew walked, Hall singled in Youk, and Lincecum left.  And Beltre ended the run-scoring in the ninth the way Papi started it, with a long ball of his own, this one hit deep to left field.  This one barely cleared the fence, but like I said, in these expansive parks even that takes some power.  And he only came into the game for defense.  Nicely done.

So that’s what I was talking about.  If our pitching staff ramps up the run prevention and the lineup contributes, we can still win without the guys on the DL.  Although of course we wish them all a speedy recovery.  Like, a really speedy recovery.  Meanwhile, we can celebrate.  Not only did we win the game, but we won the series, we finished Interleague thirteen and five, and we snapped our tie with the Rays! Ladies and gentlemen, we now officially own second place and are two games out of first.  Tomorrow night, the fun begins; we take on the Rays and widen the gap in a two-game set at Fenway.  It’ll be Shields and Lackey followed by Dice-K and Garza.  We have a chance here to put ourselves out in front in the standings.  Let’s make the most of it.

AP Photo

Read Full Post »

Are you kidding me? Seriously? Really, National League? This is the second time in five games that the league itself has found a way to best us.  This is the second time in two games that we’ve lost someone to injury during a National League game.

If you thought losing Pedroia on Friday was bad, things just got a whole lot worse.  Firstly because his injury is, in fact, serious.  He’s got a non-displaced fracture in his foot and will be out for at least the next few weeks.  Of all the position players, we have the least bench depth at second base.  Great.  Just great.

And if you think that’s bad, things just got even worse last night.  Buchholz hit a single in the first Major League at-bat of his career with one out in the second inning.  After Scutaro hit into a double play, he promptly left the game with a hyperextended left knee sustained on his strange landing at second base.  He wasn’t sure if he should slide in or veer off, so he came up with some weird mixture of both which caused him to land at a weird angle, and the rest is history.  Yeah.  It was pretty ugly.  Our ten-game winner, tied for second place in the American League in that category, is out because we happened to be playing in a National League ballpark.  That’s just ridiculous.  I can’t even believe it.  Luckily, it doesn’t appear serious, and he might even make his next start.  Hopefully that doesn’t change tomorrow morning with a Pedroia-like report.

So because of this National League absurdity, the bullpen suddenly found itself in charge of the entire rest of the game.  That’s no small task on any given day, but especially with the workload the bullpen’s had this past week.  But they got the job done, turning in a final score of 4-2.

Atchison pitched the next two innings plus an out, giving up a hit on two runs and a walk and earning the win.  He was working with a four-run lead, so he pounded the zone and got his outs.  It was essentially a repeat performance of those three innings he pitched after Dice-K left.  With a little help from Youk, who stole away a line drive with a diving catch.  Ramirez finished the inning he started and was followed by Delcarmen, who gave up a run on three hits and left Richardson with runners at the corners with nobody out.  But Richardson, Okajima, and Bard combined to pitch the next three innings perfectly, each earning holds.  With a little help from Cameron, whose diving catch in the eighth reminded everyone of Jacoby Ellsbury.  As soon as that ball left Sandoval’s bat, Cameron was on the run.  He tracked it all the way to the center field wall and fell down on the warning track in the process but got the out.  That was some agility right there, which wasn’t easy since technically he’s still not the picture of health.  Paps recorded his seventeenth save.  Only eight pitches.  No hits, runs, walks, or errors.  What a nice change of pace.

Collectively, the bullpen tossed eight frames and gave up two runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts.  That’s remarkable.  That’s as good an outing as Buchholz or Lester or any elite starting pitcher would turn in.  They had the novelty factor on their side; opposing batters don’t have a chance to figure a pitcher out if that pitcher is replaced in the next inning.  And they used that to their advantage.  We talk about manufactured runs all the time; this was a manufactured win all the way through.  This was the bullpen’s best game all season.  And if this game doesn’t prove that we have one of the best bullpens in the Majors, then I really don’t know what does.

In the first, McDonald smashed a solo shot to left field.  In the second, Cameron smashed a three-run shot to center field.  With one swing, he posted his first homer in his ninety-two at-bats in a Boston uniform as well as his most productive performance of the season so far.  So we scored twice as many runs as the Giants on one less hit.  But those were some seriously powerful hits.  Substantial swings.  Both balls were hit deep.  They didn’t land too far behind the fences, but this is an expansive park.  It’s tough to hit home runs in places like that.  You need some power to get it done.

So, we find ourselves in a bit of a precarious situation.  Buchholz’s injury isn’t that bad; he’s a pitcher, so he automatically gets five days off anyway, and if he misses one start, we’ll live.  Pedroia is the problem.  Our starting second baseman will be out for a few weeks.  That’s serious.  If we’re going to get through those weeks without damaging our position in the standings, we’re going to need the B team and the pitching staff to step up.  We need to win with fewer runs, and that takes contributions from everyone.  Luckily, we’ve seen that happen and we know we’ve got it in us.  Our first test comes tonight, when Lester starts opposite Tim Lincecum.  We’re still tied with Tampa Bay.  Maybe a win tonight will break it.

AP Photo

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »