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Posts Tagged ‘Tuukka Rask’

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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Walt Whitman had it right.  The captain is the man.  No question.  So if you there’s one guy you want to make sure you resign, it’s your captain.  And finally, after Scott Boras’s epically epic fail, I’m pleased to report that the deal is done.  Finished.  In the bag.  Signed, sealed, delivered.  Jason Varitek is coming back to Boston, the only Major League team he’s ever played for.  He signed a one-year, $5 million deal at the deadline, with an option for 2010 worth $5 million if Boston activates it, $3 million if Tek does, or $5 million if Tek activates it and meets incentives.  So the deal is as low as $8 million and as high as $10 million.  A very reasonable offer, if you ask me, especially considering that Tek’s offense is nonexistent these days.  But even if we’d had the opportunity to sign an offensively prolific catcher, I still would’ve liked to see Tek return somehow, in some role.  It’s true that, for some reason, the catcher’s position is notorious for aging quickly, but there’s just no way we would’ve been able to let Tek walk.  His role is too important to the team, especially with all these new arms coming in.  It seems obvious, but as Jon Lester said, there is a reason why he wears the “C.” We’ve weathered his low batting average in the past, and we can do it again, and with all the new pitchers we’ve signed, he’ll definitely be a big asset in ’09.

I still can’t get over the whole process, though.  I’ll tell you something: Scott Boras is thoroughly embarrassed right now.  Scott Boras committed a major error, and part of it had to do with the fact that this year’s market was exceptionally unkind to veterans.  Being a free agent in an economy like this is not pleasant, especially if you’re past your prime.  And if you’re an agent, you’d do well to recognize that.  Otherwise your client will go over your head and broker a deal without you.  Let it be stated here that Boras has been beaten at his own game.  Wow, that felt great to say.

Mike Lowell is officially ineligible to represent Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic because he’s still in rehab from right hip surgery.  At least we know his recovery is progressing, and we can be happy about the fact that he’s being responsible.  I just hope his offense comes back, because his numbers were sweet in ’07.  (Can we say World Series MVP?) It looks like Kevin Millar has some decisions to make; the Orioles aren’t bringing him back in ’09.  Unfortunate but sooner or later everbody’s time comes, I guess.  And he does have a ring.  Meanwhile, Manny Ramirez is still unemployed.  Larry Lucchino has publicly stated that we will absolutely not be resigning him.  I was a Manny fan, and I miss his bat in the lineup just as much as the next guy, and we owe him a whole lot, but really, from a team’s standpoint, who would want to sign him after last season’s debacle.  It was just ugly.  There’s no doubt that he’s headed to the Hall of Fame, and there’s no doubt that he’s one of the greatest sluggers of his era.  But those aren’t really incentives to sign a dude when you can never be sure if he’ll play on any given day.

And last but not least, Joe Torre’s new book is coming out.  The Yankees Years.  And in the book, he writes that in 2002 it finally hit him that the Yankees aren’t an unselfish team.  More power to him for finally realizing that, but he could’ve just asked us.  But it gets better.  Who takes a verbal beating in the book but A-Rod.  Shocker.  It’s about time.  Torre writes that A-Rod wanted to be the center of attention, that he was routinely focused on himself, that he was overly concerned with appearances, and that his presence put a strain on the clubhouse.  I’m just glad someone within the Yankees organization is finally grasping what the rest of the baseball world knew for years.  And I feel compelled to mention that A-Rod brought zero pennants to New York.  That’s all I have to say about it.

In other news, the Bruins defeated the Rangers yesterday, 1-0.  The Bruins are now 24-0-2 when leading.  Tuukka Rask was in goal for his first NHL start this season and recorded his first career NHL shutout.  35 saves, and you should have seen some of them.  Outstanding peformance.  My friends, the future of Boston goaltending is bright.  Not to mention the fact that Phil Kessel and Andrew Ference are both back, and watching them you’d think they never missed a beat.  I have to say, we’re looking really good down the stretch.

Reuters Photo

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