Tagged: Rocco Baldelli

My Prime 9 Answers to the Red Sox’s Spring Questions

Life after Varitek re-signed has been so much easier. I have slept better the past two days, I am not as testy, and I got to tell everyone how happy I was that he re-signed. I guess it was a little obvious that I wanted him back. 

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In my American Literature class, we are reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m sure that most of you have read this great American classic, and you can attest to how well written and intriguing it is. As I was reading through chapter four, we are introduced to Meyer Wolfsheim, a character who was inspired by Arnold Rothstein, the man who fixed the 1919 World Series. As we were discussing it in English today, my teacher said,
“Alright, we are introduced to a new character in this chapter, who is it?”
Immediately, I jumped on the opportunity to maybe– MAYBE get some baseball into this. 
“We are introduced to Meyer Wolfsheim, he’s a gambler– the guy who fixed the 1919 World Series–“
“Yes, would you care to explain that”
Ah, my one track mind was appeased! You all know the story of the 1919 World Series, I’m sure Jen can tell it best, and she will also endorse Shoeless Joe’s innocence. We even went on to the famous quote: “Say it ain’t so Joe,”. Too bad it was so. This is also where Ken Burns got the title for his episode, “The Faith of Fifty Million People”.
This wasn’t the only time that the 1919 World Series came up today. In my AP American History class, we just started learning about the 20’s. So of course I got the snide comment:
“Well, you know we won’t be seeing the RED SOX in this decade, they last won the World Series in 1919…”
1919?? I think we’re a year off here. 
“Actually, the Cincinatti Red Stockings won the World Series in 1919, it was the year of the infamous Black Sox Scandal? Yeah, the Red Sox won the World Series in 1918”
I love finding baseball innuendos wherever I possibly can. I’m thinking that it’s called ‘itching for baseball syndrome’ but I’m not really sure. 
As I logged onto the Red Sox website, as I always do as soon as I get home, I noticed the latest article Spring to Bring Nine Answers for Sox. Instead of reading through the article and then reporting the same thing, I decided to just look at the bold print, and offer my analysis on each subject. It’s like my own little Prime 9. I fully credit Ian Browne with the ideas and witty titles, but this is just my personal take. I have not read this article. 
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Big Papi tries to get his groove back
I think we all remember the… painful struggles that Big Papi went through the entire season last year. Especially the prolonged slump at the beginning of the year, which was shattered in a grand slam which I called against the Texas Rangers. It’s been known that he has bad wrists, and the doctor’s diagnosis was merely rest. There are 162 games in baseball, and one day off here and there simply won’t cut it. I think that since he rested it this entire offseason, that he has a great chance of getting his “groove” back for the 2009 season. Plus, he’ll get some extra practice in the World Baseball Classic. 
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Lugo and Lowrie battle it out at short stop
I knew that this was bound to happen as soon as Lowrie came up to fill Lugo’s void, which he happened to do very well. In fact, I knew he’d be good when I scouted him out at Spring Training last year. Lugo struggled at the plate, he struggled defensively… okay, he just struggled. When Lowrie came up on the other hand, he was great defensively, and even though his numbers fell towards the end, he DID have that walk off hit for the ALDS. He’s a bit better in the clutch than Lugo, but not by that much. I still think we need to give Lugo the benefit of the doubt, but I’d hate to see Lowrie’s efforts go to waste. 
Varitek’s Offense
I don’t need to say much about this. I’ve told you about his offensive stats, but I don’t think I mentioned much that he had been going through a somewhat nasty divorce throughout the year. Think back to 2007, specifically, JD Drew. Apparently, his son had some medical issues throughout the year, and that obviously hindered his offensive capabilities. So perhaps now that this divorce has settled down, Varitek might have a similar turn around year to JD Drew. It’s hard not to let your personal life interfere with your performance. It’s unavoidable, we’re all humans. 
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Bard-Wakefield back together again
Bard was absolutely fine in Spring Training 2006. In fact, everyone had him set to catch Wakefield for the year, he had battled it out and he won. Before the season started though, it seemed like he outthought himself a bit. If he could catch Wakefield before, there is no reason that he can’t catch him again. 
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Matsuzaka’s temporary exodus (I thought Ian’s title for this was clever)
I’m assuming this means journey to the World Baseball classic (told you I didn’t read it). The thing about Dice-K was that for a lot of his starts, he only went five or six innings. With our bullpen this year, that is a [unadvised] possibility. We want Dice-K to have longevity, and hopefully, the World Baseball Classic won’t tire him out before the season. There is no way we could prevent him from playing with Japan, after all, he is a superstar. 
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Baldelli’s Energy Level
Now that he has been re-diagnosed with “channelopathy”, which is treatable, I think it is a bit more clear. He has even admitted that he is not an everyday player, but we all know that when he does play, he plays well. Having a player like Baldelli coming off the bench is great. 
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Ellsbury’s Consistency
When Jacoby Ellsbury came up from Triple AAA Pawtucket in 2007, everyone was wowed by him. The way he hit in the clutch was incredible for an inexperienced player like himself. The problem was, a lot of people expected him to continue to play like that which is completely unrealistic. I think that now that he has had a year to adjust to the big leagues, that he will really improve. He’s a .285 average guy for me. He’s a catalyst for the rest of the offense– if he gets on base, he will steal, and then runs will happen. If he has a good year in 2009, I can see the Red Sox going long term with him. 
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Sorting out the bullpen
Don’t they say that you can never have enough pitching? The Red Sox now have an abundance of pitchers, which they lacked last year. We have an incredible bullpen, probably one of the best in the majors. The bullpen is so overlooked sometimes, everyone always talks about the hitters and the starters, but the bullpen really matters! We could trade for more catching depth, which is what we need. Plus, more members of the bullpen band! 
-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

John Smoltz out of a Braves uniform?! And Baldelli’s Homecoming

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There are a couple of players in baseball that we absolutely cannot imagine out of their uniform, and John Smoltz fell under this category for me. He was with Atlanta for twenty years! From 1988-2008, and he was incredible! His career record is 210-147, he has 3,011 career strikeouts, and a 3.26 ERA. The strikeouts is definitely the most impressive, he reached 3,000 against the Nationals if I’m remembering correctly. Anyway, he’s been with the Braves for SO long, it’s still hard for me to imagine him outside of a Braves uniform.

Hardball and Darion are pretty upset about it, and about the entire Braves offseason. They lost out on Burnett, Peavy, and Fucal (the Furcal situation being the most annoying in my opinion). 
Interesting thing about Smoltz is that he probably won’t pitch until around June 1. He’s going to be like the Curt Schilling of last year, only he’ll actually pitch! According to his now former manager Bobby Cox, he looks “incredible” pitching.
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The Red Sox also acquired Rhode Island native Rocco Baldelli. The cool part is, he grew up rooting for the Red Sox **okay, no he didn’t as I just found out. Just a rumor I heard! Thanks to Julia for the correction!**, and probably dreaming about hitting home runs over the green monster (like he did in the ALCS–only he wasn’t on the Red Sox). Rocco Baldelli not only has a great name, but he also had a great start to his career. In 2003 he came in third for the Rookie of the Year awards and batted .289 with 184 hits. However he didn’t even play in 2005, and his playing time was limited from 2006-2008 because of injuries. Originally he was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder, which causes excessive fatigue. Now, he has been re-diagnosed and has channelopathy (more on that later). Baldelli will serve as the fourth outfielder the Red Sox have been looking for. This will still let Jacoby almost everyday because Baldelli obviously can’t play everyday. Theo said that he’s been in talks with Baldelli since November! Theo, you’re so sneaky! 
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And now, Mark Kotsay could be back on the Red Sox. Kotsay will probably serve as the backup first baseman again for the Red Sox. This is good because if anyone else in the infield gets injured, Youkilis can go play their position (I am convinced that he can play anywhere–he can probably pitch too) and Kotsay can stay over at first. 
So with these two acquisitions, tons of trade rumors popped into my head, so I had a mini-panic attack yesterday. Here are a few, and why they can’t happen
1. Jacoby Ellsbury could be traded for more catching depth
This could not happen because not only has Theo made it clear that Jacoby is meant as the future, but Baldelli obviously can’t play everyday, so getting rid of Ellsbury would leave not only a serious hole in the outfield, but a serious hole in the lead off spot, and with base stealing! 
2. It is now safe to send Clay Buchholz to Texas for more catching depth now that we have Penny and Smoltz
This could not happen because Smoltz and Penny are only one year deals, and Clay Buchholz is obviously the future of pitching. I have now deemed Clay Buchholz my “project”. 
Being my “project” is a very special thing. Last year, Justin Masterson and Jed Lowrie were my projects and look how well they turned out! So now that I’ve officially decided that Buchholz is my project and that I will invest my faith in him, hopefully he will do better. 
One more thing before we go. Scott Boras really screwed Jason Varitek over. I’m not saying that he’s not coming back because I truly believe that he will. But we all would’ve been at ease by now if Boras didn’t convince Varitek to reject arbitration. It was pretty much his only chance at making $11 million per year. I’m pretty furious with Scot Boras but I realized something today. If I have even a little doubt that he’s going to come back, then he won’t, but if I put every ounce of faith that I have into Jason Varitek’s return, then I think he’ll come back. I’m not even going to doubt it anymore. I’m going to will it to be true just like Fisk and everybody willed that ball to stay fair. 
Just a quick shout out to my friend Steph. She’s one of my only friends who have looked at and read my blog, and I just wanted to thank her for that! Means a lot!
-Elizabeth

Around the Hot Stove- Arbitration

The arbitration deadline was last night at midnight, and some premier free agents received the offer, others (somewhat surprisingly) did not. 

As far as the Red Sox go, only Jason Varitek and Paul Byrd were offered arbitration. It was expected that Varitek would receive the offer, but with Byrd it was not so obvious. If he accepts, it would put him and the club in an awkward position because there’s not necessarily room for him in Boston’s plans. There have been rumors that the Braves have interest in him though. 

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Brian Fuentes received arbitration from the Rockies, which may (or may not) influence the Mets’ interest in him, and as we know, they’re also interested in K-Rod. 
The Yankees did not offer arbitration to ANY of their eight eligible free agents. The Yankees have interest in holding on to Petite, but not at the same price, which could cause a conflict (perhaps even reuniting him with his former manager!).

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  Bobby Abreu did not receive arbitration because he is seeking a three year deal which the Yankees are not offering. Plus, the Yankees have a pretty deep outfield already: Deamon (sorry), Cabrera, Gardener, and Nady. The top pitching interests for the Yankees were all offered arbitration (Sabathia, Burnett, and Lowe)

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The Marlins did not offer arbitration to their Type B Free Agents Luis Gonzalez, Paul Lo Duca, or Arthur Rhodes. The Reds have reported interest in the reliever Arthur Rhodes. With the Mariners offering arbitration to Raul Ibanez, it is unlikely that the Marlins will continue seeking him because they don’t want to sacrifice a draft pick. Since the Yankees did not offer arbitration to Ivan Rodriguez (known to us as Pudge), he might be the perfect fit for the Marlins organization since they are seeking an experienced catcher to help their young pitching staff. The Marlins have also experienced interest in Carl Pavano
If the Braves want to continue pursuing Burnett, they would not have to give up their first round pick if they signed him because they have one of the first fifteen selections. Their compensation would be a “sandwich selection” between the first and second rounds, and their second round pick. 
The Phillies did not offer arbitration to Jamie Moyer or Pat Burrell. They could be interested in outfielders Juan Rivera or Rocco Baldelli seeing that those two were not offered arbitration by their teams, so Philly would not have to compensate by giving up draft picks. 
Players have until midnight of December 7 (so technically December 8) to accept or refuse these offers. 
In other Red Sox news… the Sox will officially announce their signing of the Japanese righty Junichi Tazawa sometime this week, after his physicals go through. The terms of the deal were three years at $3 million. The Red Sox also signed left handed reliever Billy Traber to a minor league contract, and an invitation to Spring Training. However, a spot on the major league roster might be difficult to attain seeing that the Sox already have two lefties in the bullpen: Okajima and Lopez. Last year with the Yankees, Traber had a 7.02 ERA in 19 outings, and in 95 career appearances (28 starts) he is 12-14 with a 5.54 ERA. The Red Sox have really gone after some pitching this offseason!