Tagged: Brad Penny

Two Honorable Dedications

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#4!

Once again, I can’t thank you all enough for stopping by and reading. I’m glad that you all have been enjoying what I have to say, and I hope that I will continue to get better in the future. Hopefully the near future seeing that I applied for a scholarship for this summer program that offers classes in sports writing and broadcasting. That’s pretty tailored to what I want to learn right? 
So I have two people that I want to dedicate this post to. The first time that Julia was number four over here, she dedicated her post to Joe Cronin. I want to do a small segment on Cronin because after all, his number was retired but I also want to dedicate a part of this post to Lou Gehrig. Yes, I am dedicating some of this blog to a Yankee. 
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So starting off with Mr. Cronin… he had a significant impact on the Red Sox not only as a player, but as a manager and general manager. He  played on the Sox for ten years (1935-1945) and had some pretty nice career statistics (.301 batting average, and 2,285 hits). What I like about some of these guys is how consistent they are. Cronin batted over .300 and drove in 100 or more runs eight times, and he was an All-Star seven times. I also like to look beyond statistics. 
In 1938, Archie McKain, a pitcher for the Red Sox, hit Jake Powell in the stomach. Jake wasn’t very happy, so he charged the mound, which was not okay with Joe Cronin. Cronin intercepted him, but he wasn’t even a player then. He was only a part time player for the Red Sox after the 1941 season. Besides his extensive duties with the Red Sox, he also served as the American League president from 1959-1973. 
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I know, even partially dedicating a post to a Yankee is weird. But how can I not recognize someone as great as Lou Gehrig? Even though he was a Yankee, the least I can do is respect him. Gehrig played with the Yankees from 1923 (when Yankee Stadium opened) to 1939. He died only two years later. His career was cut short at age 36 when he was diagnosed with ALS, which is now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He held the record for most consecutive games played at 2,130 until Cal Ripken Jr. surpassed him. I wonder if that record would have been longer if he hadn’t been diagnosed with that fatal disease. After all, he was nicknamed “The Iron Horse”. Even as I read about the farewell ceremony that the Yankees dedicated to him on July 4, 1939, it makes me tear up. I think we all have heard Gehrig’s immortal words at some point:
“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the planet”. 
I am honored to partially dedicate my post to Lou Gehrig. 
Disney World.
So the reason for my short blogging hiatus was because I went to Disney World this weekend with my best friend and her family. It was a spur of the moment type thing I guess. I didn’t really have time to blog because all I wanted to do was sleep when we got back to the hotel because my friend and I were both sick. 
So while I was there, my one-track mind was thinking about baseball as usual and as we were walking through the crowded streets of Fantasyland/Tomorrowland/Whatever, I was looking at baseball hats and shirts. 
As I saw the hats and t-shirts, I had a growing urge to go up to them and start a conversation as I normally do. But this would not have been a calm and cool before-the-baseball-game chatter. This would have been stressful-Disney-World-chatter. Not the ideal place to talk about baseball. 
Nonetheless, I proceeded to take mental notes of all the hats, and announcing to my friend that I approved of the Red Sox fans as I saw them. I saw Red Sox fans, White Sox fans, Tigers fans (more like one guy), Twins fans, Yankees fans, Rays fans, a Braves fan, Cubs fans, Marlins fans, a Dodgers fan, Brewers fans, and Phillies fans. 
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Although I wasn’t able to keep up with the scores as they were happening, it’s not like I was too far removed from baseball itself. The Braves play at Disney’s Wild World of Sports, which I took pictures of as we were driving by.
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And yet another baseball reference from this weekend! My friend’s father works right next door to Joe Dimaggio’s Children’s Hospital! There is even a Joe Dimaggio statue out front, and it’s on Joe Dimaggio Drive. 
Red Sox
As soon as I got to a computer, you can pretty much guess the first thing I checked. Oh yes, the box scores. I was very happy to see that my dear friend Chip Ambres hit a walk-off home run. I am proud to have his autograph. 
It looks like Beckett did pretty well, and will be starting on Opening Day! This will be his first start on Opening Day in a Red Sox uniform, and I am very glad that it is him. I think that this will be one of his healthier years, he has been looking great all Spring!
Masterson will not be in the starting rotation, even if Brad Penny can’t make his first “scheduled start”. I can understand this. I love having Masterson in the ‘pen, and even though I love his versatility, being part of that formidable bullpen will be just as good. 
So if Brad Penny isn’t ready? Clay Buchholz. I know some of you may still be getting over what happened last year with him. But now that he knows that it isn’t locked in, and that he could even be sent down to the minors after that start, I think that’s a lot more relaxing than having that pressure of knowing that you have to perform well. 
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The fact that Opening Day is coming up soon is not only exciting, to say the least for me, it’s also a bit sad. You see, I grew very close to my projects, and it’s time for some of them to be sent back down. Right now, a pretty epic bat
tle is going on between some of my favorite projects: Chris Carter and Jeff Bailey. 
I think they are both significantly talented, and I think it may even come down whether or not the Red Sox need a right handed batter, or a left handed batter. I think I’ll leave that for my next post though. 
Thank you all so much again for your support!

Spring Training Behind the Scences & My Take on the Latest News

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I’ve told you all what my first two Spring Training games were like– in the “reporting” sense that is. I gave you some scouting reports (if those even classify as scouting reports), my projects, and a couple of cool stories. One of the most fun parts about a baseball game though, is the people that you meet and the conversations that you have. Baseball is baseball, but that entire experience of going to the ballpark is so special for a reason. It’s not just the game, because you can just watch that on TV. There’s that special tunnel experience, the bad overpriced food, and the people. Can you imagine what a baseball game would be like without the people? 

Every game you go to, no matter who you are– you talk to someone. You talk about baseball, and nothing else. So I thought that I would share with you what happened behind the scenes in Spring Training– the conversations. 
Before the second game, I was down near the dugout with a bunch of other fans. We were all trying to get autographs, so me and this nine-year-old girl were looking through my program, trying to find the numbers of players that we didn’t know so we could call their names. I became the official yeller, and I didn’t mind at all. 
Karen and Kathleen were down there too, and we were all just talking about the Red Sox and what we thought about this year and what we thought about last year, and more. Somehow, a fire drill started to go off. 
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There was no way I was leaving. Kathleen declared that we should all “report on the field in an orderly fashion”. Hey, that’s how they do it at my school. Thankfully, we weren’t forced to leave. Believe me, I would not have gone easily. 
Once the game started, Papi got on base, and we were talking about how we think that we may have seen him steal once. It sounds mythical doesn’t it? “Did the space-time continuum stop or something?” Kathleen asked. I do remember seeing Manny steal last year (we’ll get to him later), and if anything, Papi probably stole on a passed ball. 
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One of the funniest moments came when Wes Littleton was pitching. One of the Reds hit a ground ball to second base, and I guess he “fell” and rolled down the first base line a bit, got up and continued running. As Jimmy would say, that would have been my “rare moment of the game”. Kathleen put it best when she classified the move as a “roundoff back handspring”. We, the fans, gave him a 6.5 
I have a question for you all. How the hell is Justin Masterson 250 pounds? I was looking through my program, and when I came across my former project, I had to stop. Granted he is 6’6″, but really, 250 pounds? He does not look that… he is so lanky! That’s bigger than Big Papi! 
My Take on Baseball News 
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Starting off with the biggest news, Manny. Well, well, well a two-year $45 million deal. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Kind of like the same offer that was on the table four months ago? This is yet another piece of evidence that Scott Boras overestimated the market this year. The only people that I can recall right now that got more than one year deals were AJ Burnett, CC Sabbathia, and Mark Teixeira– well, those are the must substantial deals anyway. So Manny wanted six years, in the “A-Rod range”. 
Two things wrong with that expectation:
1. No one in their right mind is going to give Manny six years. After what he pulled in Boston? He even got an opt-out clause in his contract after one year. We all know Manny has commitment issues. He hasn’t even expressed interest for playing the second year. 
2. I know that Manny is good– I know that he is Hall of Fame caliber. But no one deserves that kind of money. I don’t care how good you are, $27 million dollars a year is absolutely ridiculous. 
So as I was reading the article on this, one of his quotes really hurt me:

“I’m in a great place where I want to play. I am happy, my teammates love me, the fans love me. Sometimes it’s better to have a two-year deal in a place you’re happy than an eight year deal in a place you suffer” 

I would have been alright if he had just said “I’m in a great place where I want to play.” He should say something like that. I’m glad that he is happy, I really am. But, I’m pretty sure that the Red Sox players loved Manny until one point. He was just being Manny. And let me tell you something, us fans LOVED him. I’m sorry, but that statement implies that the fans didn’t love him. Let me tell you guys something, I loved Manny to death, and that statement just plain hurts. Don’t take me for granted, Manny. 
And was he really unhappy in Boston for eight years? I don’t think so. I think he liked it for sometime. I have to say, I feel a little betrayed. 

A-Rod injured
So A-Rod has a torn hip labrum that will require surgery, and he’s not getting it yet. I’m pretty sure that’s what Mike Lowell had, and that was not good. It limited his range (and we already know that A-Rod is not the best defensive third baseman) and Lowell said it felt like a “knife” every time he swung. 
According to Brian Cashman, they’re going to delay surgery until after 2009. After all, the surgery would take at least four months out of A-Rod’s season, and that’s a lot. We all know how he contributes to that lineup, just not in the clutch. A-Rod has put up some good stats thus far in Spring Training though. But as it worsens throughout the season, it could definitely have a detrimental effect. 
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Brad Penny didn’t start today against Puerto Rico like he was supposed to. I guess the shoulder strength wasn’t where it needed to be. Well, I’d rather take it slow with a guy coming off an injury like that than rush him into anything. That’s what Spring Training is all about. Better now than during the season anyway. 
JD Drew went to Boston a few days ago to get a shock in his lower back beca
use he has been feeling stiffness. I’m not too concerned though, I mean, he did say that once he gets loose that he is fine. Lowell is also saying that he feels better, not feeling the knife anymore. His first start should come soon. 
I’m really enjoying this battle for shortstop. Both guys are looking great thus far. I think that Chris Carter would make a great addition to the bench too. 
**Update: I am no longer going to the game this weekend. It’s too risky to drive all the way to Port Charlotte and not get anything– I mean, it is a Red Sox vs Rays game. Next week against the Orioles though, I’m there. Much closer too! And Jenn has been kind enough to teach me how to put photos in here. I’m excited… Here is one now, the most artsy shot of the day:
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-Elizabeth

#5: Nomar Garciaparra

Continuing in the tradition started by Jimmy Curran over at Baseball, the Yankees, and Life; I am dedicating my latest ranking, number five, to a former Red Sox player that has a very special place in my heart. 

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Nomar went to Georgia Tech, along with Jason Varitek (who had his number retired), and helped the “Yellow Jackets” get to the College World Series in 1994. He was a first round pick for the Red Sox in 1994, and played three years in their minor league system. He made his Major League debut in August 1, 1996, and his first major league hit, which happened to be a home run, came on September 1. It’s not like he was playing everyday though, John Valentin was the starting shortstop at the time, but not for long. By late 1996, Nomar had taken the job– Valentin moved to second base. 
Garciaparra’s rookie year was 1997, and he hit 30 home runs, and had 98 RBIs, which set a Major League record for RBIs by a leadoff hitter. He also set the record for leadoff home runs by a rookie. Do you guys know who broke it? (Hint: It was another shortstop). He had a 30 game hit streak which also set an American League rookie record. He was unanimously voted Rookie of the Year and even finished eighth in MVP voting. 
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In 1998 he finished with 35 home runs and 122 RBIs, and runner up for MVP. For the next two years, he led the American League in batting average. .357 in 1999, and .372 in 2000. He didn’t even win MVP those years. 
In 2001, the injuries began. His season was ended when he came into Spring Training with a wrist injury and returned in 2002 to bat .310. It was the beginning of the end. 
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Following a dreadful end to the 2003 season (Nomar did okay, but the Red Sox didn’t), the relatively new Red Sox ownership was investigating the idea of trading Manny to Texas for A-Rod, and Nomar to the White Sox for Magglio Ordonez. This obviously upset Nomar, and he became very unhappy. 
He was traded to the Chicago Cubs on July 31, 2004 for Orlando Cabrera and Doug (not even going to attempt his last name). Nonetheless, he was given a World Series ring from that year. God, I miss Nomar. 
Projects
For those of you that do not know, I have started a tradition of having “project players”. These are players that I see in Spring Training, or who may have a brief stint with the Red Sox, that I really like. Last year, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson were my projects. 
I would now like to declare to you my projects for 2009: 
Jeff Bailey
Lars Anderson
Chris Carter
Nick Green
Junichi Tazawa
All of them are minor league players– you can check out my reports on them in my previous entry. Angel Chavez might make the list as well, he’s been looking great. 
Jacobyluvr asked some questions that are really important to look at right now in my last post: 
Initial Intake on Starting Rotation: 
Thus far, we have seen three out of five of our starting rotation: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield. 
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Josh Beckett has been looking great according to reports. The fact that he may look like his 2007 self is very pleasant to hear. Against Boston College, Beckett fired two innings and two strikeouts and didn’t allow any hits. Against the Twins, he also fired two perfect innings, but didn’t strike out anyone. The main thing for Beckett is to stay healthy. Some years he is incredible, others he is mediocre. Last season, he was always “catching up”– ever since that Spring Training game where he had the back spasms. 
Jon Lester pitched against Pittsburgh and earlier today against the Reds. Against Pittsburgh, he pitched two innings, allowed two hits, and struck out one. Today, against the Reds, he pitched two perfect innings and struck out two in the process. Lester is working on adding a changeup to his arsenal of pitches. He is so young that he can continue to learn and really develop. 
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Wakefield, in his start against the Twins, gave up two earned runs on five runs in two innings. Coming out of the bullpen (after Beckett) in the second game against the Twins, he walked one, gave up one hit and no earned runs in two innings. The thing about Wakefield is that he is either on or off– there is very little middle ground. He basically has one pitch, and even though the knuckle ball may be pretty hard to hit for some teams– all it takes is two pitches to time it down. The great thing about Wakefield is that he goes very deep into games. 
We can’t tell much about Dice-K because he has been training in Japan this entire time for the World Baseball Classic, which is starting this weekend. I hope that they don’t overwork him. I know how much he means to Japan and his country, but there are 162 games in the season, and he has to pitch every five days for seven innings ideally. The thing about Dice-K is that even though he went 18-3, he walked tons of people, but got tons of run support. He needs to cut down on the walks (I know he can get out of jams, but I would rather him to deep into games). I’ll be closely watching him in the World Baseball Classic. Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Big Papi say they have some plans to hit home runs off him. 
Brad Penny will most likely be the fifth starter. He has not pitched in Spring Training yet, and he will not be starting against Puerto Rico. The biggest thing for him is also to stay healthy, because when he is healthy, he is great. After all, in 2007 he did finish third in Cy Young Award voting. Justin Masterson did a great job starting though.  
Mike Lowell Situation
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In order for Lowell to be re
ady for Opening Day, he needs to take it a bit slower than everyone else simply because he is coming off surgery. I definitely would like to see him in a couple of exhibition games though because it would be tough just to come back without any practice. That’s kind of what happened to Josh Beckett. If Lowell is not ready for Opening Day, he should not play. The last thing I want is for him to push anything too far. If he is not ready for Opening Day, I have some ideas:
Kevin Youkilis could move to third, and either Lars Anderson, Jeff Bailey, or Chris Carter could come up to play first base. It would not be the end of the world if he can’t start on Opening Day. The main priority is for him to completely rehab. He is working out in Fort Myers right now with everyone else, but I would guess that if he is not ready for Opening Day, he should probably start out in Triple AAA just to get a feel for things. 

I can’t watch Spring Training games, which really upsets me. They’re always during school, so I can only check the score so often. Today, as I checked the score, I noticed that we were losing. Instead of freaking out, I checked the box score and checked out who hit and who pitched. Jed Lowrie had a good day, and Chris Carter got a hit too. As I was scrolling through the pitchers to see who had earned the runs, I noticed that Ramon Ramirez had three of the earned runs and four of the hits. He had looked so good before! Was it just a bad day? 
Thank you all for reading!
-Elizabeth

A Review of the Red Sox Offseason

Now that there are less than three weeks until pitchers and catchers report, it seems like an evaluation of our teams’ offseason actions would be in tact. The interesting thing about the Red Sox’s offseason, is that it took a while to get started. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. 

It’s not like we had a disappointing 2008 season, not advancing to the World Series “isn’t the end of the world” as Manny Ramirez would say. On the other hand, the Yankees had a bit more of a disappointing 2008 season– let’s just say it wasn’t up to their expectations. So they went out and blew spent $20 million more than they should’ve on CC Sabathia. They made a risky investment on AJ Burnett, and they signed Mark Teixeira (this is probably their wisest investment) to an eight year deal. 
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With all of these investments, the Yankees have spent roughly $422.5 million dollars. As far as I know, none of these contracts involved “incentives”. Personally, I think incentives are the best type of contracts because you set specific goals for the players to achieve, and if they don’t achieve this goal, then you don’t have to pay them. 
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When the Red Sox signed Pedroia and Youkilis, I really didn’t see much of a need to put incentives in those contracts. First of all, they both finished within the top three for MVP voting, and the last time that happened was 1986. A wise investment? I think so. Plus, both players are products of the Red Sox farm system, and both have mentioned that they love playing in Boston. The Red Sox signed Pedroia for six years, $40 million dollars, and the Yankees signed Sabathia for the same amount of years, but $100 more million dollars than that. Pedroia won the MVP and Sabathia wasn’t even in the top three in the National League.
We all know that Mark Teixeira is good, but I feel like with Kevin Youkilis, I’m not even “settling”. Since I’ve established the legality of comparing Youkilis and Teixeira in one of my recent posts, it is needless to say that we are getting Youkilis for one hell of a bargain. 
I know our starting rotation isn’t the best in the majors, but it’s definitely up there. A lot depends on the durability of Dice-K, if Beckett can bounce back, if Lester can stay consistent, the dancing ability of Wakefield’s knuckleball, and new veterans like Smoltz and Penny.
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At first, I was all for signing Derek Lowe (after AJ went to the Yankees), but what I wasn’t thinking about was the future (ironic right?). If we had gotten Derek Lowe, that would have seriously displaced the abundance of our young pitching talent. Lowe would’ve been an overpriced (14-11 with an ERA over 3.00 is not worth $14 mil or whatever he was demanding) three year investment, where as people like Smoltz and Penny are low risks with potentially high rewards. Plus, they have incentive contracts, my favorite!! 
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This gives our young pitchers even more time to develop and fine tune everything in the minors, and since both Penny and Smoltz’s contracts are one year deals, it will give our young stars the opportunity to start full time next year. 
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Then there’s the bullpen. In 2008 our bullpen had one of the highest ERAs in the majors, we went out and signed Ramon Ramirez and Takashi Saito. Their statistics speak for themselves, but I have a feeling that the addition of the both of them, plus having Justin Masterson full time, will really solidify our bullpen. Plus, we signed Papelbon to a well deserved deal. 
There is still a possibility for that deal to go long term, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to (and neither does Papelbon). The Red Sox could potentially wait until after the 2009 season to sign him to a long term contract, but there is no one else in the Majors I would rather have right now. 
Not to mention the signings of Josh Bard and Rocco Baldelli. It’s nice that Bard is getting a second chance, but the front office is essentially getting a second chance as well seeing that Theo classified the trade as a “short sighted mistake”. Having a player like Baldelli coming off the bench? Need I say more than that? 
Once you look at all of these signings up close, it seems like it all kind of crept up on you. Just the other day, my math teacher asked me: “Since when did the Red Sox bullpen become so good?”. 
It has been reported that the Red Sox have included a deadline with Varitek’s latest offer. Deadline or no deadline, it doesn’t make a difference. Varitek needs to take this deal if he wants to have a job in 2009. That’s how scary the market is, if he doesn’t take this offer, he might not have a place to play. Yeah, it will be a pretty big pay cut, but a lot of players have taken some major league pay cuts. Jason Varitek, it’s up to you. 
-Elizabeth

The Red Sox Catching Situation and Brad Penny

This is for you levelboss! 
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Josh Bard is back on the Red Sox– yes back! He had a short stint with the Red Sox in 2006 when he had 10 passed balls in one month! He was then traded to San Diego in which the Red Sox acquired Doug Mirabelli. Originally, Bard came over from the Indians along with Coco Crisp. I’m sure Kaybee could tell you how “Bard-o” as she calls him, did in San Diego better than I could. And Bigpapi72 had some interesting things to say about the Penny and Bard situations as well. 

Interestingly enough, Bard caught Wakefield fine in Spring Training of ’06. He thinks that he outthought himself, which I noticed happened a couple of times this season with the Red Sox. Take for example, Clay Buchholz who was basically the Red Sox prodigy when he threw that no hitter against the O’s in ’07 but then fell “flat on his face” (like Bard did) this year. What happened? He outthought himself (and he was fine in Spring Training for the record as well, after all, he did earn the fifth spot). Luckily we still have him down in the minors! 
Another one, but this only happened during one game, was Jon Lester in Game 7 of the ALCS. He was outstanding in the ALDS, and in the first game he pitched of the ALCS, but I think that it all got to his head. Everyone chalked up a win for him, but it didn’t work out. He also outthought himself. The Red Sox have got to work on this! 
“I caught him fine in Spring Training and then we had those couple of off-days before the game in Texas, and I think that people were trying to help me and they were trying to help me be a better player,” Bard said, “but I think that it started to get into my head a little of, ‘Why don’t you watch some video of how Doug [Mirabelli] did it and maybe this will help you with some things.'”
Says Bard. So the Red Sox just need to let him be this time… don’t try and change his mechanics or anything. 
Even Theo Epstein himself admitted it was a “short-sighted mistake”. As soon as Bard left Boston, he hit .338 with San Diego. In 2007 he hit .285… not bad. However, in 2008 he was injured and only hit .202. 
On another good note about Bard, he also has experience catching a Cy Young pitcher, Jake Peavy (Kaybee and Hyun Young’s favorite!). 
The thing is, Bard won’t only be catching Wakefield, he’ll have a bit more playing time this time. Hopefully, the Red Sox do retain Varitek… and if they do, I guess he’ll be getting more rest. 
Here is what I would do: 
I would sign Varitek to a two year deal. Varitek wouldn’t have as much playing time as last year, but he would still have more playing time than Bard.
We all know that Varitek will not catch Wakefield, he just never will. Bard will probably be catching Wakefield, as well as others on occasion. 
This pretty much means we’re not getting Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Theo worked this out perfectly in my opinion because now we don’t have to give up any of our star pitchers. 
If we need a back-up back-up catcher (as always) I’d say George Kottaras is the best bet that we have. Teagarden is on the Rangers anyway so if he’s not a free agent than we probably don’t want to look into him.
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On another note, the Red Sox signed Type-B free agent Brad Penny to a one year $5 million dollar contract with potential $3 million dollar signing bonuses. Hopefully this will work out better than Bartolo Colon (because we all know how THAT ended). Unfortunately this probably means that we won’t be getting Derek Lowe. I’m guessing Lowe will go to the Mets now. Statistically, Brad Penny is better than AJ Burnett (not counting the 2008 season). Penny has a better career record (94-75) as well as more innings pitched, and Burnett has been playing one more year than Penny. Penny actually had back to back 16 win seasons, and I think that he’ll be able to bounce back this season. Plus it’s a low risk deal So Penny will probably be the number 4 or 5 starter, but we’ll see how he does in Spring Training.
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And another rumor that came out about our favorite person, Manny Ramirez? The Giants are interested in him and they reportedly offered him a four year contract. If Manny is looking for even a remotely long term contract, this is definitely the best he’s going to get. 
 -Elizabeth