Tagged: Papelbon

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. 

Indescribable Feeling

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We had all waited a really long time, and I’m not sure about you guys, but in general I hate waiting. Baseball was worth the wait. Spring Training was the longest it had even been, but we waited. I didn’t realize how deprived I was. I guess the withdrawal symptoms simply subside after a while. But as soon as Fenway Park appeared on my television I let out a squeal, my eyes teared up, and a shot of adrenaline ran through me. I wish I could put what I was feeling into words, but I can’t. I think that we need to come up with a word that describes the feelings that baseball evokes in us, because I’m getting pretty frustrated without one. 

Feeling this way, it was tough watching the game on FSN rather than NESN. I didn’t get to watch the pre-game ceremonies, nor did I get to watch the reserves coming through the stands. 
I saw the starting lineup come through the stands, and I really liked the fact that they actually came through the stands. It made the baseball players seem more tangible even as baseball itself becomes less and less tangible. They all looked so happy to be there, but at the same time, they knew that they would be there since day one of Spring Training. I wanted to see the look on Chris Carter’s face, my project. He didn’t know that he was going to be there, so that must have been unreal for him. 
I had almost gone over to my friend’s house to watch the game, but I declined knowing that 
a) She doesn’t like baseball, and I didn’t want to force her to sit through a game for three hours. I can’t concentrate on converting people on Opening Day for obvious reasons.
 
b) I don’t really need my friends to see the way I am during a baseball game. They already think I’m obsessed, I don’t need them to think I’m crazy too. I was actually on the phone with one of them during Jason Bay’s first at-bat, and I was talking to them a bit absentmindedly. 
“THAT WAS NOT A STRIKE!” I suddenly called out (the ump had called it a ball, but a bit too slowly for my taste). My friend proceeded to laugh.
“Elizabeth, is anyone at your house?” she asked.
“No…” I replied
“So, you’re talking to yourself?”
“I’m talking to the umpire, Mindy!”
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When I watch baseball, I tend to be under the impression that I am the umpire, and that my calls are the right calls. I try and find ways of calling defensive interferences on the other team on routine groundouts, every Red Sox pitch is a strike. Don’t worry, when I’m watching other games, I can be completely objective. And I’m working on my “I-totally-control-every-aspect-of-the-game”. 
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Josh Beckett made me really happy [insert that non-existent word here]. I loved his first pitch strikes, and I loved his ability to work quickly through most of his innings. Ten strikeouts in seven innings. Do I have to say anything other than dominance? He helped the Red Sox show the Rays who’s boss. And speaking objectively as possible, I think that he had the best start out of all the pitchers on Opening Day. 
Overall, I was very happy with the Red Sox performance that day. Almost everyone in the lineup had a hit except for our dear leadoff man, Jacoby Ellsbury. I’m not TOO worried though. It’s not like he struck out every single time. He did get SOME wood on the ball, but it only went as far as Akinori Iwamura. I loved seeing Pedroia’s home run, but I was especially happy with Jason Varitek’s home run. As they were introducing the lineup, I loved hearing “and behind the plate, our captain, Jason Varitek”. 
After Papelbon wrapped that game up, I finally obliged and went to my friend’s house. 
“Elizabeth, you haven’t been out of your house for days!” she told me. It’s hard to handle the truth sometimes. 
“Andrea, Monday night, yesterday and today were all very sacred days!” 
“You’ve done nothing but watch baseball for the past two days! COME OVER!”. Well… the Marlins WERE leading the Nationals 8-0, so I didn’t feel that bad. 
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I did give them a fair warning at the end of February though. Like Jane, I do schedule everything around my team. And according to my friend, I’m planning my life around them. But she meant that in a good way because after all, I am planning to become a sports writer. 
So just because the Red Sox showed the Rays who’s boss yesterday, it doesn’t mean that tonight is going to be easy. I mean, we’ve got Lester vs Kazmir tonight, and Rocco will be making his first start in center field with the Red Sox. 

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!! 

“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. 

Back to the Red Sox

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It’s done! It’s finally done! Thank you all for the positive support that you have shown me throughout this entire process. From topics to write about, to the intro paragraph to the outline to the rough draft, you guys were always there for me. I think that speaks wonders for the wonderful community that we have here. 

I want you all to know that I took into consideration each and every comment that you gave me. You guys caught some really important stuff. Whether it was my contradictions, or my tense changes, or the places that I should separate my paragraphs– it all really helped! 
It’s not like I haven’t been keeping up with the Red Sox. Research paper or not, I always check in on the site. I’ve made it unavoidable for myself because it’s my homepage. 
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I’m feeling quite confident about the Red Sox’s 2009 season. They went into 2008 with basically the exact same roster that they came out of the World Series with… so the question is– what happened? 
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First of all, Curt Schilling was NOT healthy. He didn’t even make one pitch for the Red Sox. Not that I blame him or anything, I would not have wanted him to pitch unhealthy. So to fix this problem, the Red Sox went out and got John Smoltz. His role is almost identical to what Schilling’s was supposed to be last year. Schilling wasn’t supposed to come back until June of 2008 and look when Smoltz is supposed to come back: June 2009. Luckily Smoltz feels healthy. 
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Josh Beckett was not his 2007 self. Like I said a few entries ago, Beckett is like a cyclical economy, only not as proportional. He has a really good year, and then he has a mediocre year. A cyclical economy is a bit more extreme. Statistically, he’s due to have a good year. Even Francona says that he looks like his 2007 self. Beckett made some interesting speculations during his interview. He said he was “catching up all year”. It started in Spring Training when he had back spasms. I was at that game, I was really excited because I had never seen him pitch before (I still haven’t seen it)… then Manny Delcarmen pitched. It was still fun. 
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We never had a solid fifth starter. It started with Clay Buchholz, the no-hitter phenomenon. Turns out he still needed a bit more seasoning in the minors after he posted a 2-9 record. So the Sox sent him back down to Double AA Portland– the problem was, they never really planned for this. Who was their fifth starter going to be? They experimented with Bartolo Colon (he was a bit of a fluke– good luck to you Chicago fans). Then there was Dave Pauley, Justin Masterson and Michael Bowden, but we all know that they still needed seasoning (Pauley is long gone now). Then we finally acquired Paul Byrd in late July– it helped a bit. So what did the Red Sox do to improve on that? They went out and got not only John Smoltz, but Brad Penny. That Brad Penny acquisition was perfect– I’m sensing a comeback year. I’ll report back if I like what I see at Spring Training. 
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Jacoby Ellsbury was not as “Jacoby Ellsbury” as he was in 2007. But what do you expect? Everyone is worrying about how they don’t know what he’s going to do in 2009. Relax. Here is what I predict: He will bat about .285, maybe a bit higher, he will steal more bases, and he will be more consistent. Plus he still makes those incredible catches in the outfield. 
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Big Papi was not “Big Papi”. When this happens, it’s remarkable that you even get to the ALCS. His average dropped, his home runs dropped– everything dropped. So Ortiz worked out during the offseason, shaped up a bit, and rested his wrist. That was the big problem, I think he’ll be back. 
Manny being Manny was no longer the pride of Red Sox Nation. I loved Manny, I really did, but he had to go. He was just too worried about his contract and what was going to happen next year. If he can’t deal with the business of baseball, then he shouldn’t be playing. So he left, but boy did we get one hell of a guy. Jason Bay came in and performed beautifully. Not to mention that the “lack of experience in October” that everyone was fretting about turned into “Wow, Jason bay is thriving in October!!”. A better season this year? Oh yes. 
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Mike Lowell’s hip basically blew up. A torn labarum I think it was– that doesn’t sound pretty, and it wasn’t. It was painful watching him being in pain. He lost his range over at third, and he lost some power in his bat. When that happens to your 2007 World Series MVP, what are you supposed to do? Well, not only did the Red Sox management go out and get Mark Kotsay, Kevin Youkilis stepped up and went to third. He looked like he played third everyday of his life (and I think he was brought up as a third baseman). 
The bullpen was inconsistent. Everyone was tired during the summer, and you could tell. Poor Jonathan Papelbon would not have pitched in Game 7 if he had been needed. We overused him because our relief was inconsistent Well just look at our bullpen now! We definitely have one of the best in the Majors. It’s also good to know that Papelbon feels rejuvenated now. 
Not to mention the great looking bench that we have. When you have a guy like Rocco Baldelli coming off your bench, I think you’re in pretty good shape. By the way, I think Rocco would like us all to know: He feels fine. I can imagine that he has been asked that questions way too many times. 
Both of the contenders for starting shortstop say that
they are ready to go and that they feel great. The article about Lugo made me feel a little bit guilty though. I didn’t forget about him!! Maybe I was just– angry! I know that he has always been a second half guy but… that doesn’t mean that he’s allowed to blow off the first half! After reading that article, I’ve decided that the shortstop spot is completely wide open. I don’t want Julio to be nervous about living up to his contract. That’s the problem with all the money in baseball these days, it puts pressure on these guys. I hope that Pedroia, Youkilis and Papelbon don’t let their nice contracts get to them. I don’t think they will.
Speaking of contracts, the Red Sox management have mentioned that they would be in favor of a salary cap. Like they said, it would just take time. Time to figure out how exactly to do this. It would be great for some teams, but it would also hurt other teams– like the Red Sox. They are in favor of a “competitive balance”. Well, wouldn’t that make baseball even better if the games were even closer? It would be tricky for general managers to try and work out their teams, and would players be in favor of taking some pay cut checks? I like this idea, I just don’t want to see another 1994. It would make baseball easier to relate to though– it would bring it closer to the level that the New York Knickerbockers wanted to keep it at: an amateur game. 
I’ll be doing a full look at the Red Sox’s roster in the near future. 
I have the final draft of my paper (with footnotes too!). If you are interested in a copy, please leave a comment with your e-mail or e-mail me at elizabethxsanti@aol.com, and I’d be happy to send it. 
-Elizabeth

Someone give Jason a Sign!!

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Tomorrow is Friday, which means that we will finally know whether Jason Varitek will be returning. My endless crusade for his return for the past three months will finally come to an end. You have heard from me countless times about his intangible impact on the pitching staff and what not, but this weekend be prepared to hear something new. I hope that tomorrow evening [presumably], I will be posting a celebratory entry, with tears of joy rolling down my cheeks, and Jason Varitek brownies will be cooking in the oven. 

I will be waiting for that fateful text message from my father all day, and I don’t think my peers will be surprised if I let out a scream during class when I find out the news. My phone will probably be taken away and I will be issued a detention, but it is well worth it to know the news immediately and be relieved for the next year (or two). 
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When this situation is finally figured out, I think the future of Clay Buchholz will be more clear as well. Julia commented yesterday that she thinks that Clay will be traded to the Texas Rangers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Like I said before, I would be a bit concerned if this happened because Smoltz and Penny are only one year deals, but seeing that we have a whole year with them, Michael Bowden could be developed in the minor leagues. 
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If you haven’t already heard, Mike Lowell will not be playing in the World Baseball Classic. The fact of the matter is that he is coming off an offseason full of rehab and we don’t want to inhibit his potential to start on Opening Day. I want him to play during Spring Training and I want him to be perfectly healthy for the 2009 season. I’m pretty sure he was injured throughout the 2005 season when he was with the Marlins and he really bounced back from that. He’s only 34, there’s no reason that he can’t bounce back again. Chase Utley had a hip problem and he’s ready to go as he said in an interview on the Hot Stove Report. Maybe Mike Lowell should be up there as well. 
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I’m I am (learning from the J-Blog school) wondering if the Red Sox still have the chance to lock up some key players to some long term deals. I would like to get one done with Jason Bay. As far as I know, the free agent market for left fielders isn’t going to be too great next year and I’ve really come to like Jason Bay. As of right now, I don’t think that Papelbon will get locked up long term because even he hinted that “they don’t see eye to eye on that”. I would not mind waiting until next year to lock Papelbon up. 
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I also think that depending on how Jacoby Ellsbury does in 2009 that the Red Sox should look long term to him as well. By trading Coco Crisp to the Royals as one of the first moves of the offseason, it was implied that Ellsbury is the future center fielder of the Red Sox. 
Once again, I had a conversation with the dedicated Cubs fan and asked him about Jake Peavy. 
William [Cubs fan]: I would love to acquire Jake Peavy if the Cubs don’t have to give up too much talent. 
(I don’t even need to interview Kaybee for this one). 
Me: You said yesterday that you liked Ricketts over Steinbrenner. I thought you liked the Yankees. 
William: Well, I have a lot of respect for the Yankees, but the Cubs are truly my favorite team. 
William also plans on reading Torre’s book. I’m going to tell him to pick up Jane’s while he added. 
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I was scrolling through the impressive World Baseball Classic roster and not only did I notice the Red Sox names, but I noticed the abundance of star players on the Dominican Republic’s team. Looks like they’re going to be unstoppable. Seeing that a few games are being played in Miami at the Marlins’ stadium (sadly called Dolphin Stadium), I will be trying to attend. 
I outlined the games that I am planning on attending in Florida for the upcoming season because I don’t know when I will be making my pilgrimage to Fenway. Spring Training games are obviously up there as well as a few Rays vs Red Sox series and a couple of Marlins games. I am wondering if any of you will be making the trip down to Florida for Spring Training. Let me know, I look forward to seeing you there.
-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