Tagged: Justin Masterson

Opening Week Thoughts

After Josh Beckett’s stellar performance on Opening Day, I was excited to see what the rest of the pitching staff was going to offer. I can’t say that I was thrilled with the three games that followed Josh Beckett’s, but I can say that I’m optimistic for the rest of the season. It is obvious that the Red Sox are still coming together as a whole, and transitioning from the Spring Training atmosphere to the regular season atmosphere. But as Kevin Youkilis pointed out, I’d rather be off to a slow start than have a bad finish. “There are bright things to come”. 

I was very excited for Wednesday’s game because I knew that it was going to be a pitcher’s duel. Those always keep me on the edge of my seat, even if they are a bit nerve racking. It seems to me that Lester and Kazmir serve the same purpose on their respective teams– dominant lefties. Then again, when I was in Tampa last year I did see Kazmir pitch nine straight balls. It was quite a game until around the fifth inning where the Rays exploded for four runs. I bet Carlos Pena’s home run was pretty “deflating” as Jon Lester called it. I’m trying to remember the situation, but maybe he could have put Pena on instead of pitching to him at a 3-1 count. Then there was that really weird play where Jason Bartlett had that suicide safety squeeze or whatever you call it. Poor Lester looked so lost, but at least these looks of confusion are happening at the beginning of the season rather than the middle. 
Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez looked good that game, and Takashi Saito did alright after giving up that home run on the second pitch. As soon as he gave up that home run, I thought back to that game in 2007 where Okajima gave up a home run on his very first pitch. Frustrating for sure, but then he was completely dominant the rest of the season. Perhaps there will be a similar pattern to Saito’s performance this year. The main thing that I noted about Lester though was that he wasn’t really hitting his spots. He would shake off Varitek a lot and after the first two innings, the command just wasn’t really there. If I was a pitcher on the Red Sox, I wouldn’t shake off Varitek too much. He definitely knows what he’s doing. 
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The final game of the series offered another great matchup between Matt Garza and Dice-K Matsuzaka. I swear, Matt Garza looks and acts like a snake. His tongue is always out! Whenever Dice-K pitches, I’m always a nervous wreck. This time, it wasn’t because he walked the bases loaded, he only walked three. His command wasn’t really present and he gave up three home runs.
My incessant hunger became overwhelming as I watched this game, and I needed something to munch on. Eventually, dry roasted peanuts and sunflower seeds became available. Pretty good baseball food. The more nervous I became, the more inclined I was to munch, but for the most part I was able to restrain myself… until Justin Masterson loaded up the bases in the top of the ninth. Luckily, Jacoby Ellsbury squelched my anxiety as he made a beautiful running catch.
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The next night, the Red Sox played the Angels… the first game the Angels would be playing after the tragedy. That game, I wasn’t as compulsively rooting for the Red Sox as I usually do. I was comfortable with watching a good baseball game, and I was comfortable with the fact that the Red Sox lost. There were much bigger things going on that night than winning and losing. I did rush home though, and I was the one driving so it was a lot easier to put the pedal to the metal and run those yellow lights that may have been transitioning into red. I made myself coffee because I tend to have trouble staying awake for the West Coast games, especially in a dark room. 
It must have been hard for Jered Weaver to pitch that night. I didn’t even realize until after the game that Nick Adenhart was supposed to move in with him that Friday. Weaver had 8 strikeouts in 6.2 innings, and as he walked off the mound, he pointed to the sky. That was beyond baseball. 
Brad Penny started the next game (yesterday’s) and even though his command wasn’t totally there, he still looked pretty healthy, which made me happy. I started watching this game in the third inning because I was at my grandparents house and I didn’t really expect the game to be on TV. If Brad Penny was feeling healthy, than that’s pretty good news because he will be great to have on the rotation if he is healthy. His velocity was up there, so for a guy coming off the worst season of his career, I would say that he did pretty well.
The offense finally woke up during this game. After the very first game where almost everyone got a hit, a few people fell off the radar. Kevin Youkilis was basically on fire until yesterday (still hitting .526 though) and Jacoby was just starting to wake up and get on base. Unfortunately, Pedroia and Big Papi haven’t been producing much. Big Papi is definitely due to say the least. Jason Bay came out of the gate swinging so that has made me pretty happy. Especially for a guy who generally has a pretty crappy April. I think that Mike Lowell is starting to wake up too. And where is Jed Lowrie?? He had a monster Spring, and here I am waiting for him to transition. I hope that he and Papi have big days today. 
Jonathan Palebon gave me a heart attack in the bottom of the ninth inning. First the home run to Torii Hunter, and then the bases are loaded. My grandparents are laughing at me as I bury my face in my hands and peek through them. Howard Kendrick hit something like seven foul balls in a row. Papelbon claimed to be “giggling” but I sure wasn’t– not with the bases loaded. My mother came over wondering what was going on since I had promised her that it was one more out five minutes ago. 
“Are you bad luck?” I asked somewhat accusingly as she came over. Last time she was near the vicinity, Papelbon had walked a guy, and we were not walking in the tying run. Luckily, she wasn’t bad luck, and Papelbon miraculously got out of it. I was able to breathe again. 
Last game of the Red Sox vs Angels series coming on in a little while. Can’t wait to watch Beckett pitch again, and I kind of want to see Chris Carter in this game. 

2009 Red Sox Pitching Preview

I guess I could just give you guys the same predictions that everyone else has… but I don’t really want to do that. I’m going to break down each position, and briefly look at every player. Tonight, I want to look at pitching. I’ll tell you guys how I think their 2009 season will be, and what they will need to do to either come over the 2008 woes, or maintain their 2008 heights. 

Starting Pitching: This year, the Red Sox have some familiar faces in the first four slots for the rotation. The only thing that is different is their fifth spot– they didn’t just hand it over to Clay Buchholz like they did last year (not that they had much of a choice). In fact, despite an impressive spring, Clay won’t even be starting the season with the Red Sox! During the offseason, the Red Sox picked up Brad Penny and John Smoltz. Sure Brad Penny is no CC Sabbathia, but he can sure matchup with AJ Burnett pretty well. And John Smoltz may not be in the prime of his career, but I think that he has some words of wisdom that he can pass down to the guys. Justin Masterson could have filled the fifth starting spot very nicely, but I’ll tell you guys why I think he’ll work out very nicely in the bullpen. 
Josh Beckett: We all know that Beckett has the stuff that can put him in the realm of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, but whenever he is injured, he spends so much time recovering, that he isn’t really that dominant. Luckily, Beckett will be starting the season with the Red Sox, and Opening Day for that matter. In 2007 he went 20-7, and in 2008 he went 12-10. So what happened? I agree with the people who have said that he was catching up to himself that entire year. He got injured during Spring Training so he didn’t have a lot of time to get into his rhythm. When he was ready to return, he was thrown right out into a high pressure atmosphere. Guys need Spring Training… just look at Jake Peavy! 
Jon Lester: Lester’s comeback from cancer story is really nice and inspiring and all, but honestly, it’s time to get over it, and he thinks so too. He has said that he wants to be known as a pitcher, not the kid that came back from cancer. Nonetheless, every time he pitches I’m sure we’ll be hearing the story. Anyway, we saw what this guy could do in 2008, his stuff is lethal. Not to mention the fact that he has added a changeup to his arsenal, and oh yeah his performance in the playoffs. There are two things that he needs to remember, and that we need to remember about him.
1. He cannot get overconfident with himself. In the ALCS, everyone had penciled him in for a win because of his performance in the ALDS. I think we let ourselves get a little to confident, and I think he got a little too confident. He needs to focus on executing his pitches, not the fact that statistically, he will probably win this game.
2. He is still really young, so he is still growing. We can’t expect him to be perfect. He’s going to go through some ups and downs. Luckily, he has got Jason Varitek behind the plate, and John Smoltz for some guidance. 
Daisuke Matsuzaka: Dice-K obviously performed really well last year: going 18-3 with an ERA under 3.00. The thing is, he wouldn’t usually go that deep. And the reason that he wouldn’t go that deep: walks. I know that he has a remarkable ability to get out of jams (that he creates with his walks), but I would much rather him try to impress me by going into the seventh inning more often. When he would only go five innings last year, that would put extra stress on our not so deep bullpen. This year, if he can go a bit deeper, and put not so much stress on our much deeper bullpen… well, wouldn’t that be a lot better? 
Tim Wakefield: Everything is better at 62 mph right? Well, that is until the batters time down the knuckle ball and start hitting it all over the place. The good thing about Wakefield is that he can go pretty deep into games. The uncertain part is that he is either on or off… there is very little middle ground. Some nights he’ll have great command, and other nights it’s just not there. Still, it is really fun to watch Wakefield baffle hitters with that knuckleball. 
Brad Penny: The fact that he was 6-9 last year definitely reduced his free agent worth. On the other hand, in 2007 he went 16-4. AJ Burnett on the other hand was one of the must valuable free agents out there. Yet if you compare their numbers, I’d consider them equals. 
John Smoltz: I honestly am not really sure as to how John Smoltz’s numbers will be this season. His role is obviously quite similar to what Curt Schilling’s was supposed to be last season. So where the heck is he going to fit into the rotation when he returns in June? Good question, because I have the same one. I don’t think that the Red Sox would put him or Brad Penny in the bullpen because they could both serve very effectively as starters. So could the Red Sox have a six man rotation? This could work out very well when various injuries start happening throughout the season. 
Bullpen: Last year, the bullpen tended to be a problem for the Red Sox. This year, it could be what makes the difference in October. With some very nice additions this bullpen could be considered one of the best in baseball. 
Manny Delcarmen: This guy definitely improved last year, and I think I had under appreciated him in past years. Last year, he appeared in 73 games (74 innings) with a 3.74 ERA. I don’t really consider him a set up man, but I love having him as a true middle reliever. 
Javier Lopez: He is another one of those guys that is either totally on or totally off. So sometimes, I start pacing my living room when he comes in. I see him come in for only one batter a lot, but that’s because he is a lefty specialist. He pitched great in the World Baseball Classic, and I think I underrate him too because his highest ERA in a Boston uniform is 3.10. 
Justin Masterson: I am so excited to have him here for Opening Day! Last year, he showed us that he can be effective both as a starter and a reliever. So why isn’t he starting then? If he gets the fifth slot, than where would we put Brad Penny? Brad obviously has more experience as a starter, and Justin honestly makes a difference in that bullpen. In the postseason, I loved having either Okajima-Masteron-Papelbon, or Masterson-Okajima-Papelbon. I think he’ll have a really nice year in the bullpen. 
Hideki Okajima: Although Okajima was not as consistent last year as he was in 2007, he still did pretty well. Like I’ve said, inconsistency is bound to happen, and I still think that he can be really effective this year. The good part is, we won’t have to rely on him that much seeing that we picked up Ramon Ramirez and Takashi Saito. 
Ramon Ramirez: An extra set up man for the Red Sox! He was the set-up guy for the Royals, and he had a great season last year. I know that he has the stuff, but from what I’ve not
iced this spring, he just needs to maintain his command. The biggest thing will be the transition from Kansas City to Boston. There is always a lot more scrutiny and attention in places like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, but as long as he stays focused, I’m not concerned. 
Takashi Saito: So this guy posted some pretty spectacular numbers as a closer for the Dodgers, and now he’s coming to the Red Sox just as a set-up man? That’s pretty awesome. But I think that we can still use him to close some games–in fact, I think that we should. At the end of last season… the very end, I’m talking Game 7 of the ALCS… Papelbon wasn’t even available to pitch. He was worn out, and I think we used him way too much throughout the entire season. I’m not saying that he and Saito should split time, but if Papelbon has been working a lot, I think that Saito is definitely qualified to close out a game. 
Jonathan Papelbon: We all know that Papelbon is a very dominant guy, but he did blow a few saves last season. In fact, he blew two in a row. I remember thinking that he needed some rest! We work this poor guy to death (not that we had any other option). But now, I feel much more comfortable that we have guys that will be able to fill in when he needs an off day. Papelbon obviously has a great mentality, so he definitely needs to maintain that, and if he does, I think that he will have a great season. 
Keep your eyes open for: Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, and Daniel Bard. I think that we will see all of them throughout the entire season. Also, keep tabs on Junichi Tazawa’s progress. 
Offensive/Defensive preview to come either late tomorrow, or early Monday!! 

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. 
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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!

“Baseball Bubble”

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Today, I realized something– I can tell you more about baseball than I can about global issues– way more. I honestly did not know the name of the North Korean dictator until this afternoon. Is this bad? I remember Jane mentioning a story similar to this in her book. She was reading the newspaper and some kind of headline like ‘The Tribe is Suffering’ came up, and she thought it was about the Cleveland Indians. I’m not going to lie to you, upon reading it, I thought she was referencing the Cleveland Indians as well. I live in my own little baseball bubble as well. 

For example, in math today, when my teacher asked me the scores of the World Baseball Classic from Sunday, I was perfectly able to recite that. When he asked me to find the external arc of a circle, I was clueless. 

During my Life Skills class, we began learning about drugs; so we were each assigned a drug to research and present to the class. I kindly forced asked the student next to me to switch topics with me so I could write about steroids. Don’t get me wrong, I will talk about steroids in my project, but I think I’m going to go on a long tangent about steroids in baseball, and then go on to talk about Pete Rose and how it’s ridiculous that he is not in the Hall of Fame. 
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I had heard about the rumored Jon Lester deal yesterday, but it wasn’t until I was watching Team USA beat up on Team Venezuela that I heard that the deal was finalized. It was a five year deal worth $30 million, with a $14 million option for 2014! This is what the Red Sox have been doing all offseason: locking up their proven young players! We all know that Jon Lester had a breakout year last year. I don’t need to re-emphasize his no-hitter and that great comeback story of his. The bottom line is: he is a good pitcher. He has great command of his fastball, and is even working on a changeup! At this pace, he is on the track to becoming one of the most feared left handed pitchers of the game. 
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A-Rod is officially having surgery, though, not the same surgery that Mike Lowell had on his torn labrum. I think this is “arthroscopic surgery” and they few medical terms that I know are the ones that I have heard of on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. This is not one of them. However, from what I have gathered, this surgery will allow A-Rod to return in 6-9 weeks rather than 12-16 weeks. This was the right decision.
Like I’ve said before, it was painful for me to watch Mike Lowell play last season, and it was painful for him. If it’s already painful for Alex, it was only going to get worse. This surgery will minimize the damage, and he will have the rest of the surgery after the season. Plus, this gives A-Rod some down time. With this steroid scandal, and his inability to keep a straight story, and all Torre’s blows to him– he needs some time off. 
So what are the Yankees to do in the meantime without their cleanup batter? Alright so they have Cody Ransom to fill the void at third base, but that does not fill the offensive void. The Yankees are going to have to totally re-work their lineup. Sure Mark Teixeira has a bat, but other than him, the offense is a tad on the mediocre side. Luckily they have some serious pitching to balance that. 
World Baseball Classic 
The USA is redeeming itself after the 2006 tournament as it did not falter after its first win. They beat Team Venezuela 15-6 thanks to some key hits off of the shaky Venezuelan bullpen, and some strong relief pitching. 
Roy Oswalt had a decent outing, but definitely not the best. The problem is, these games actually matter (in a sense). This is still Spring Training to some of these guys. The guys on international teams have been playing Winter Ball. These guys? This is just the start of stuff for them. 
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The US broke it open in the sixth inning by scoring eight runs. Mark DeRosa hit a triple and batted in a total of four runs. Chris Iannetta had a great bases clearing double and also had four RBIs. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with Ianetta. Kevin Youkilis and Adam Dunn hit their second home runs of the classic, and Ryan Braun hit his first. Dustin Pedroia had a great play at second base if you guys didn’t get to see it. It was one of those plays that NO ONE should make. 
The bullpen was backed by some great run support so Ziegler’s two earned runs and Bell’s one were not that significant. Matt Lindstrom of the Florida Marlins picked up the win. 
Red Sox Spring Training
On Sunday I had to go to school for an American History catch up day– didn’t mind too much because I love that class. Anyway, the class started at one, and there was a Red Sox vs Rays game at one. Luckily, my friend lent me his iPhone so I was periodically refreshing the play-by-play throughout the whole class. 
Julio Lugo had a great day as he went 3-3 with two RBIs and two doubles. My project, Nick Green, hit a home run, as did Zach Daeges (despite his weird batting stance) and Jonathan Van Every. 
Justin Masterson pitched three beautiful innings of one hit ball and was followed by Jonathan Papelbon, who threw a scoreless inning but allowed two runs. Did I mention that he is working on a slider? Yet another pitch to vanquish victims. Daniel Bard (potential project) struck out the side, and Junichi Tazawa and Michael Bowden each allowed one run. 
I have now set a goal for Michael Bowden: one outing without any earned runs! 
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The Red Sox played an exciting game today against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which the Red Sox won on an RBI double by Josh Reddick in the bottom of the tenth. I watched the first two innings during my Life Skills class while “researching” steroids. I wasn’t just going to pass up that opportunity.
One of my projects, Jeff Bailey, went 3-4 with a double and an RBI. Project Nick Green hit another home run as did Dusty Brown. I remember Dusty Brown from last year’s Spring Training and from a Pawtucket game. I like him, but I need to see a bit more of him to decide his project potential. 
Josh Bard continued to
make his presence known by hitting another home run today and collecting three RBIs. I’m thinking that this whole competition thing is making Lowrie a little nervous. I just want him to be himself, because I know he can do well either starting on off the bench. 

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:
Nick Green.JPG
-Elizabeth

The First Game of Spring

It seems that anything of significance in the baseball world happens in my English class. When the MVPs were announced, I was in English. When the HOF inductees were announced, I was in English. And when Josh Beckett took the mound for the Red Sox against the Boston College Eagles, guess where I was? English. On my way, I was searching for someone that I could beg to borrow his or her phone. No such luck. I was not able to see whether Josh Beckett’s first pitch was a ball or a strike. 

I did feel like I contributed to that game in some way, shape or form. I’m very superstitious when it comes to baseball, kind of like Jane as she describes in her book. Well, as I was taking my notebook out for my American History class second period, I realized that I had a Yankee book in my backpack. ‘That can’t be good chi,’ I thought, so I asked my friend to guard it in her locker. Nothing personal Jane, just superstitions. 
The Red Sox beat the Eagles 7-1. A couple minor leaguers, including Chris Carter, had a nice game, and Josh Beckett fired two perfect innings and struck out two. 
Disappointed as I was for missing the afternoon game, I was quite excited when I found out that the evening game would be broadcasted on MLB Network. 
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the first inning by swinging at the first pitch he saw. ‘Patience!’ I thought! Well, he learned from his mistake in his next at-bat, and waited a few pitches before flying out to left. The important part is, he did make contact. 
Dustin Pedroia collected the first hit of the game, hitting a nice double, which isn’t surprising for a guy coming off an MVP season. 
I watched in awe as Tim Wakefield took the mound for the Sox. That knuckleball of his has been around since 1995. He played in Pittsburgh before that! I can’t imagine him anywhere else but the Red Sox, I’m glad that the Sox decided to pick up his option. Wake gave up three runs over two innings– a few batters were able to time the knuckle ball down, but some of the runs were just results of balls that got through the gap. The defense was a little rusty, but what can you expect after a long offseason? I just hate those blooper balls that fall in the proverbial bermuda triangle. Those aggravate me, unless the Red Sox hit one. 
Those balls going through the gap even got to Youkilis, it wasn’t just Diaz (SS) and Khoury (3B). By the way, did you guys see Youk’s latest Youk Fu? I thought that was hilarious! 
Josh Bard did a nice job catching Wakefield’s knuckleball. I think he should work on throwing over to second, because it’s pretty easy to steal considering Wakefield’s knuckleball is basically 68 mph. There was also one play in which Brad Wilkerson, recently acquired from the Blue Jays (RF) threw the ball in from the outfield and Bard tried to tag the guy before catching the ball. In the future, let’s catch before tagging :). 
Billy Traber tried to pull a Dice-K: loading the bases with no outs. Even though it is Spring Training, it still gave me a heart attack. Dice-K may be the only pitcher in the majors who can get himself into jams and get out unscathed. You’re not there yet Billy, baby steps. After giving up a few runs, Billy did settle down to throw a couple of nice pitches. 
Justin Masterson was sporting a beard, so he looks a bit older. Masterson, Delcarmen, Lopez, and Rairez all pitched beautifully, giving up zero runs over five innings. Masterson was a bit shaky at first, but he calmed down after a little bit. 
Let me tell you guys, I am very impressed with Ramon Ramirez. Much as I miss Coco, that was a great trade. Three up, three down and two strikeouts. Talk about a great first impression. I would make him my project, but my projects are strictly confined to minor leaguers. 
Speaking of projects, Jeff Bailey has pretty much secured his spot as one of my projects. I was aware of him when he was with the Red Sox in 2008, and I liked what I saw, so he was definitely on my radar for tonight’s game. I hope to see him this weekend, as well as Lars Anderson. 
Jed Lowrie looked pretty good tonight, solid effort with some of those balls up the middle and a nice triple with an RBI. Jeff Bailey had the other RBI. I’m in the process of getting to know these minor league guys, but I should have at least three projects by the end of the Grapefruit League. 
To answer Jacobyluvr’s question, Jed Lowrie was my project last year. I was waiting for autographs outside of the player’s parking lot, and he drove out slowly, so I ran into the middle of the street to get an autograph. I barely knew who he was! After that autograph though, I knew he’d be coming. 
Rem-Dawg was unable to join Don Orsillo at the game tonight, he has an infection. All of us here at Red Sox Nation, and even on the entire blogosphere hope you feel better. Now, the Red Sox can always call me if they need an extra play-by-play. I feel like they have a mic wired to my house because they always talk about whatever I just finished talking about within five minutes. Maybe I’ll do that someday. 
Overall, I was impressed with the Red Sox’s performance, and I cannot wait until tomorrow. I apologize for the lack of pictures, I had this post ready to go an hour ago, but as I was looking around the internet for pictures, I somehow closed this window, and the blog was lost.
I’ll be bringing back some pictures this weekend! 
-Elizabeth

A Brief Look at the Future of the Red Sox Pitching Staff

Yesterday, ‘Jacobyluvr’ posted a comment with some great questions regarding the future some of the Red Sox’s young pitching stars. Here’s my take on them:

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Where might Jon Lester be in the starting rotation? 
Lester really stepped it up last year, and pretty much established himself as the ace of our staff. I think that he would do great in the number one slot. He had great success in the post season as the ace of our staff (besides Game 3 of the ’08 ALCS) and I think that success will carry over into next year. In 2008, Beckett was plagued with injuries so his stats declined a bit, but this could also come from the amount of pressure that came from being the runner up to winning the Cy Young. Since Lester wasn’t in the running for the Cy Young, I think he’ll be okay. If he doesn’t start in the first slot, I can see him in the third slot. For some reason Dice-K seems like a second slot guy to me. 
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What are your thoughts on Clay Buchholz, is he still with us?
Yes, Clay is still with us. The Red Sox were smart to keep him in Double AA Portland after starting the season out 2-9. There is no doubt that Buchholz has talent, after all he did throw a no hitter against the Orioles on September 1, 2007. It was noted by various reporters that Buchholz’s stuff improved in Double AA, as well as in the AFL (Arizona Fall League). Seeing that Smoltz and Penny are only one year deals, I think that 2008 will be a year that Buchholz can really develop and fine tune his techniques so that he is ready to start in 2009. 
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What about Masterson?
The great thing about Masterson is that he is very flexible. Smoltz won’t be coming back until about June, so Penny could either be starting, or in the bullpen. If Penny is in the bullpen, than I think Masterson could serve as a great temporary fifth starter. We know that Masterson can handle pressure, and for such a young guy, that’s impressive, and reassuring to know. In Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS Terry Francona and John Farrell put him in the bottom of the ninth with a one run lead and he put two men on– but after being briefly talked to by Varitek and Farrell, he was able to settle down and close it out. He is also training as a starter so that he can go wherever the Red Sox need him to go. In the long run, depending on how Buchholz turns out, he could be a starter. For now, I see him as a reliever though. 
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Did you see MLB Network’s Prime 9 on short stops? If so, what did you think of A-Rod being ranked second? 
I am definitely one that gives credit where credit is due, but I honestly don’t think that A-Rod deserved to be ranked the second greatest short stop of all time. I think that he can be ranked up there in the top nine, but just not second. Personally, the top three shortstop for me are:
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Honus Wagner
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Ozzie Smith “The Wizard of Oz”
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Cal Ripken Jr. 
I know that A-Rod has accomplished some incredible feats, he is probably one of the greatest baseball players of our time, but just not the SECOND best, perhaps the fifth best.
As we all know, it looks like the Ricketts family is going to be purchasing the Cubs. What I didn’t know until today was how Cubs fans feel about this. Cubs bloggers if you’re out there, please leave your URL because I would love to read your opinions on this. Anyway, I decided to investigate and find out what one Cubs fan thinks about this. Jen, I’m sure you hate him already.
I found William Hector today actually wearing Cubs colors, I wondered if it was intentional but he classified it as a coincidence. William doesn’t keep up with all the names of players and what not, but he loves watching the games. 
Me: William, how do you feel about the Cubs new ownership?
William: I like it! I like it better than Hank Steinbrenner. 
Now Yankee fans this does seem like a low blow to the Yankees, but William is actually a Yankee fan! I neglected to ask him how he felt about Jake Peavy when we got onto the topic of Joe Torre’s new book. He asked me if I was reading it, but I told him I was reading my friend, Jane’s book first. 
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Speaking of Jane’s book, I’ve come up with a few reasons why I’ll be reading hers first as oppose to Torre’s. 
Joe Torre bashes A-Rod a lot in his book. Don’t I already know that I don’t like A-Rod? Does Joe Torre have to convince me to continue not liking A-Rod? Absolutely not! I know Jane is a Yankee fan and all, but she’s still a baseball fan right? Torre is a manager, Jane is a fan (and wicked author). I think I can relate to Jane a bit more than I can relate to Torre. Plus, after reading an excerpt from it on Amazon, I laughed! Torre’s book just reaffirmed my hatred for the Yankees.
I’m not looking to have my beliefs changed AT ALL, I’m fine with hating the Yankees but that doesn’t mean I hate ALL Yankee fans. The Yankee fans here actually are quite smart, and make it easy to actually co-exist with them! 
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I’ve decided to be a conformist and join the fantasy
baseball craze. From what I’ve heard, I have to rally up some friends and start a league on either Yahoo or ESPN. So, here’s an open call to all who would like to start a fantasy baseball team with me. 
Varitek, your deadline is Friday. Funny how Scott Boras was quoted saying that “he has nothing to say”. This is good, as long as he keeps his mouth shut, we’re all better off!
-Elizabeth