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Posts Tagged ‘Scott Downs’

The A’s completely rescinded their offer to Beltre.  Now, he’s got nothing.  I can understand where they’re coming from; this is the second year in the row they’ve chased him, and they’ve had this offer on the table for weeks now.  And just last week Beltre stated publicly that he wants to stay in Boston.  He turned down the A’s, who offered him more money and more years, last year to come here.  During the Winter Meetings, Theo will be in the hunt for a reliever and another big bat.  Beltre certainly fits the latter description, but I just don’t see how we’d ensure regular playing time for him.  We certainly don’t have room for him as a starter with the other Adrian coming in.  (And putting Theo aside, make no mistake; Youk was the real basis for the deal.  If Youk didn’t have the ability to just switch from first to third like that, Gonzalez would still be in San Diego.) It’s just a shame because Beltre is a beast.  By the way, Cameron is giving Gonzalez jersey number twenty-three.

This week, the Winter Meetings came and went.  And anyone thought we’d ride that deal and go in and out quietly was so incredibly wrong, it’s not even funny.  Theo Epstein was the king of the Winter Meetings.

The Werth saga continues.  Apparently, we sat down with him and Scott Boras but never made him a formal offer.  And we certainly would not have been prepared to even come close to what the Nationals gave him.  It’s a shame for us and for Werth.  A real shame.

But not anymore.  Not today.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have our elite outfielder and our second big bat.  And no, it’s not Magglio Ordonez.  Ordonez can chase a two-year deal elsewhere with all the teams that were formerly chasing Werth and Crawford, because both are now officially taken.  The hottest position player on the market is now off.  Carl Crawford, welcome to Boston! Seven years and 142 million dollars and a pending physical later, he’s walking that speed of his right into Fenway Park.

Wow.  Just, wow.  I mean, what? It happened so fast.  First we were reportedly in talks, and then you turn around and there’s already a deal on the books.  I’ve never been one to feel comfortable with contracts as large as this one; he’s the first player in franchise history to get seven years and an average of twenty million dollars per year, and he’s the first position player in baseball history to land 100 million dollars without hitting twenty home runs a year.  It’s the tenth-largest contract in baseball history, less than deals for players that include Manny Ramirez, Joe Mauer, and obviously a sizeable host of Yankees.  But, as always, in Theo we trust.  Everybody in Red Sox Nation is hungry.  Crawford is young and more than capable.  He can succeed here; in seventy-eight games at Fenway, he’s batted .275 with twenty-four doubles, thirty-five runs, and twenty-six stolen bases.  He’s yet another lefty bat, but he makes our lineup unbelievably potent, and he and Ellsbury comprise the most formidable speed duo in the game right now.  He’s not a slugger, but he’ll hit a decent amount out and he finds gaps like no other.  His speed also makes him great in the field, and it’s perfect because he’s a left fielder by trade.

So that’s Theo for you.  He’s asked whether a deal is being considered, and he refuses to rule anything in or out.  I’m convinced that the Werth deal upped the ante here though; if that deal hadn’t gone through, Crawford would never have been in a position to demand or merit a deal of this magnitude.  So that’s that.  We can take comfort in the fact that Theo would never offer a deal like this if he didn’t think the player was worth it.  Crawford is young enough and good enough to deliver in all seven of his contract years, which is why Theo offered it, and his playing ability is elite enough to merit his salary.  It’s not like we mete out contracts like this in every offseason.  This is the first contract of this magnitude that we’ve finalized during Theo’s and this ownership group’s tenure.  Given our current position and resources, this deal makes sense for us.  Crawford will obviously need to work on patience at the plate.  He needs to increase his walk total to up his on-base percentage.  We can’t say anything beyond that; we’ll just have to wait and see.  Meanwhile, there is a ton of celebrating to be done.  Adrian Gonzaelz and Carl Crawford.  Hello, October 2011!

As far as relievers are concerned, something must be done.  Bard said almost the exact same thing.  We’re looking at Matt Guerrier as well as Brian Fuentes and Arthur Rhodes, who was an All-Star for the first time this year at age forty.  Supposedly we’ve made a formal offer to Kevin Gregg.  Supposedly we’re going to sign Scott Downs.

We’re also keeping an eye on Russell Martin, who was indeed non-tendered by the Dodgers.

And that’s the story of how Theo put all other general managers to shame, made not one but two splashes, and came to rule the 2010 offseason.  If you ask me, it’s a pretty great story.  And technically it’s not even finished.

In other news, the Bruins bested the Sabres by one and the Islanders by three, but we lost to the Flyers in sudden death yesterday.  The Patriots, in one of the most anticipated games on the calendar this year, completely crushed and humiliated the Jets in every way.  The final score was 45-3.  It was a total crush.  So incredibly awesome.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki
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On Wednesday, we celebrated the sixth anniversary of the day we won Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS.  The day we hand-delivered a world of hurt to the New York Yankees.  The day we crafted a homemade mountain of win.  And the last day that we would believe and keep the faith in vain.  That day marked the greatest comeback in sports history and the beginning of a journey that would take us right to the first Rolling Rally in almost a century.  That, ladies and gentlemen, was an unbelievably miraculous day.  It’ll never get tired, it’ll never get old, and it’ll always remind us where we came from and how we got to where we are today.  The gift is in the struggle.  The struggle was long.  But now the struggle is over, and we are awesome.

Part of where we come from is Fenway Park.  The team just wouldn’t be the same without it.  Thankfully, our ownership group recognizes this scientifically verifiable fact and is committed to taking care of it.  As usual, the brass unveiled renovation plans, which include three new high-definition video screens, concrete repair, waterproofing, concession and merchandise improvement, and something most definitely worth debating.  They’re considering widening the bullpens in order to make relievers more comfortable.  Right now, they’re pretty cramped, but the new plans would add workout facilities, bathrooms, and just some space and room to move around.  But there’s a tradeoff.  While widening the bullpens by six feet would bring them within Major League Baseball regulations, they’d bring the right field fence in by six to nine feet.  So, yes, wider bullpens might make a reliever more competitive and effective if he’s comfortable while warming, but the same thing goes for the visitor’s relievers, plus the fact that a closer right field wall may mean more ground-rule doubles and, worse, home runs.

When I said that this point was worth debating, that was an understatement of substantial proportions.  This is not a good change to make.  First of all, in terms of the reliever’s competitiveness, it makes absolutely no difference: either things stay as they are, or things change and the reliever becomes more competitive to a degree just sufficient enough to deal with the dimensions change.  Either way, it’s the same result.  But it’s more than that.  This is Fenway Park, America’s most beloved ballpark and the oldest in the country.  You can’t just tinker with Fenway Park’s dimensions.  You just can’t.  Part of our ridiculously massive home field advantage is the insanity that is the dimensions of the outfield: you have this small sliver of territory in left, you have the dreaded triangle behind a huge yard in center, and you have an obscenely large plane in right.  Diminishing that extremity makes Fenway more similar to other parks, which diminishes our home field advantage, not to mention the fact that the dimensions haven’t been changed since 1940 when Tom Yawkey moved the bullpens to the outfield in the first place, and he did that because Ted Williams was jacking balls out of the park left and right.  He didn’t do it because he thought that maybe, possibly, perhaps a reliever might or might not be more competitive just enough to offset the other dimensions change that such a move would cause.  Ted Williams was Ted Williams, and sure, nowadays we deal with opponents hitting home runs into the bullpens too, but Ted Williams was so potent that the tradeoff was worth it.  I don’t think it is in this case.

If something is not broken, there is absolutely no need to fix it.  And in no conceivable sense is Fenway Park broken.  The interior of the bullpen, as in the people who use it, does indeed need work.  And that’s one of the hardest jobs a general manager has to face.  Fixing the bullpen is always a challenge.  The way you fix it one year is in no way the same as the way you’ll fix it next year.  Your needs change every year.  The market changes every year.  As Theo himself said, basically you want a group of guys who can hold down spots.  You want a lefty specialist, a long man, a setup man, and a closer.  And you want a few others to fill it out.  We have a closer.  We have a setup man.  But the other spots aren’t so well-defined.  Okajima isn’t as reliable as he used to be.  Delcarmen and Ramirez are gone.  Doubront is a starter by trade, and Bowden and Richardson weren’t all that great.  So a really good acquisition this winter would be Scott Downs, but we’d probably have to give up a first-round draft pick.  So there’s no way to predict who Theo is going to get, how much he’s going to pay, how many years he’s going to give, and the list goes on.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  One thing’s for sure: Theo is firmly committed to improving the bullpen, so we can look forward to some sort of change come next year.  Theo always keeps the bullpen in mind – indeed, his first signature move was wrenching Alan Embree from the Padres in 2002 and, in light of what I opened this post with, we all know how epically glad we are for that – so whatever he does will be a step in the right direction.  (The obvious exception being Eric Gagne, but if that’s the worst mistake he’s going to make, I’ll live with it.)

Congratulations to the sizeable chunk of the team that was nominated for MLB.com’s This Year In Baseball Awards.  Tito is in line for best manager, while Beltre is in line for top hitter.  Lester and Buchholz are both in line for top starting pitcher.  Paps is in line for best closer.  Bard is in line for top setup man.  The game we played against Texas on April 20, the one where Cameron and Ellsbury were both placed on the DL so McDonald was randomly called up an hour before the first pitch and proceeded to tie the game with a pinch-hit homer in the eighth and win it with a walkoff single off the Monster in the ninth, is in line for most memorable game of the season.  And Nava’s grand slam is in line for best moment of the season.  All those nominations right there just go to show you what kind of team we were and what we could have done had we stayed healthy.  I’m just saying.

Speaking of just saying, the Yankees were eliminated by the Rangers.  Let me say that again: the New York Yankees are out of the playoffs.  One more time: the Evil Empire plays no more in October.  In the same week that we celebrated the above anniversary.  Coincidence? I think not.  Order has now been restored to the universe.

In other news, the Bruins played three games this week.  We started off by beating the Caps, 3-1.  We continued by beating the Caps, 4-1, in our home opener.  Timmy Thomas made thirty-eight saves.  Too bad we had to end it with a close 3-2 loss to the Rangers.  But I have to say, I like what I’m seeing.  The team is young but very talented and capable.  What we are seeing right now is greatness in the making, and I have full confidence that the black and gold will be a force this year.  The Pats played a fantastic game against the Ravens last Sunday.  We won, 23-20, in overtime thanks to a barely fair field goal.  But a win is a win, and we will most certainly take that one.

Celebrate Boston

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Okay, let’s have the bad news first.  We lost the first game, 8-1.  Hey, at least it wasn’t a shutout.  But we were expecting this; we knew Toronto would be one of the teams to beat this time of year.  They love to pull the playoffs out from under you.  So, yes, we lost, and by a wide margin, but it’s nothing we didn’t account for when we looked at our schedule for September.  AJ Burnett was their pitcher, and considering he might be pitching for us next year I’d say it’s possible that in a weird way that game could be good news.  I mean if he can beat us, a team so offensively productive and so good at adjusting to pitchers and being patient at the plate, who can’t he beat?

Byrd pitched five and gave up five runs on ten hits with three strikeouts.  Three of those runs came courtesy of Vernon Wells’s three-run homer in the fifth.  This type of outing is not unusual for Byrd, though.  It was Aardsma who allowed the Jays to run away with it.  In one inning, he allowed three runs on three hits with a walk and a strikeout.  I’m telling you, he really hasn’t been the same since he got off that first stint on the DL.  And that’s a shame, because he was gold.  Who knows? Maybe he’ll still pick it up.  Devern Hansack pitched the last three innings.  And Devern Hansack was perfect.  Nothing allowed with three strikes.  Our only run was batted in by Cash.  He hit a sac fly for Pedroia in the seventh.  So at least it wasn’t a shutout.  Ellsbury stole two bases and went two for four, the only member of the lineup to have a multi-hit game.  Aside from him, only three other batters had hits at all.  Bay and Crisp each racked up an assist, and George Kottaras made his catching debut and scored our run.

Now on to bigger and better things: the nightcap.  What a game that was.  We scored twice in the first, but Bartolo Colon gave up five runs in the second, two of which were earned.  He made his exit after the sixth inning, at which point Lopez and Masterson took over.  The Jays carried their lead through part of the eighth inning until we tied it.  Then, enter Jacoby Ellsbury, who sort of chopped it down the right field line.  The ball rolled maybe a quarter or a third of the way to first base in the infield.  Scott Downs, lunging after it to make the catch, just fell down without touching the ball.  No play was made, the runner from third scored, and Ellsbury was safe at first.  That play gave us the lead.  What a good come-from-behind win.  And I am pleased to report that Pap’s ninth inning was one-two-three.  No hits allowed.  Before his last outing, that blown save against Tampa Bay, his most recent blown save took place on June 22 against the Cardinals.

Last night’s offense went like this: two RBIs for Lowrie and one each for Youk, Ellsbury (on that one-of-a-kind play), and Big Papi.  Ellsbury went two for four with three runs, Pedroia went three for five with a run, and Bay went three for four with a run.  Lowrie and Youk both made fielding errors (what are the chances? And in the same game, too.), and it was very strange to see Kotsay move from right field to first base.  We won it, 7-5.  Tampa Bay split their bill too so we’re still two games out.  Two very small games out.

In other news, the club picked up Okajima’s option for 2009.  His record in Japan was 34-32 with a 3.36 ERA, but after joining the team in November 2006 as an amateur free agent he posted a 3-2 record with a 2.22 ERA for the 2007 season, during which he was an All-Star and finished sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.  This season, he’s working with a 2.88 ERA, and in total he’s pitched 123 1/3 innings for us.  So not bad at all, especially when you consider how hard it is to find relievers, let alone good relievers, let alone good lefty relievers.

Lester will start against Halladay this afternoon.  Sounds like a duel.

AP Photo

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