Friday, October 31, 2008

This One is For the 'Tek Backers

This is going to sound completely dick of me, but whatever. I have to do it. I simply cannot stomach another season of Jason Varitek playing 130 games and hitting .220. I can't do it.

1) If 'Tek's leadership is so invaluable and the Sox can't afford to see him go, keep him around. As the highest paid bench coach in MLB. I would have no problem with that.

2) If 'Tek's pitch calling is so outstanding, riddle me this. In 2008 the Sox pitching staff had an ERA+ of 114 and Jason Varitek appeared in 131 games. In 2005 the staff had an ERA+ of 96 and Varitek appeared in 131 games.

For the record, in 2005 Varitek had an outstanding year at the plate. His OPS+ of 122 was third on the team that year behind Manny and Papi and it would have been well higher if not for a disastrous September where he posted a frightful OPS+ of 47. In the five months prior he went 164, 137, 141, 141, 146. Amazing. All this has nothing to do with my original point though. I tell you this just so you don't think I have some sort of vendetta. Jason Varitek used to be an excellent major league player.

Back to my original point though and that is 'Tek and his pitch calling. Why would there be such a massive fluctuation between 2005 and 2008? Did Varitek get better with age or does the ERA+ of the staffs have everything to do with the pitchers and not the catcher? I'm sorry folks it's the latter. You see, the Sox staff had an ERA+ of 116 in 2004. So was '05 an "off" year? Of course not. In 2005 the only Sox pitchers that logged 150+ innings were Matt Clement, David Wells, Tim Wakefield, and Bronson Arroyo. Not exactly a murderer's row. Of that foursome, do you know who the best was? Tim Wakefield, who actually lead the team in wins, ERA, innings, and K's that year. So where's the love for Doug Mirabelli's pitch calling right?

Anyway, in 2004 the Sox had 5 pitchers log 150+ innings. Those five were Pedro, Schilling, D-Lowe, Bronson Arroyo, and Tim Wakefield. In 2008 they had four and those were Beckett, Lester, Dice-K, and Wakefield. You see where I'm going with this? Amazingly, when the Sox have good pitchers, their staff ERA is great. When they have shit pitchers, their ERA sucks. It is really that simple. Sorry Varitek lovers, but the pitching staff won't crumble with out JV around. The pitching staff will only crumble if it sustains a bunch of injuries and puts out a bunch of fifth starters every day. It really is as simple as that. How do you prove me wrong? Read more!

I think I might be Ill posted the first of what I imagine will be many stories about the Baseball Hot Stove that is jsut now heating up. I know it is only a first draft, I still read it and try and see who they say the Sox will pick up. This year there are only three names and they are all very familiar.

Coming in as the 6th best Free Agent

Derek Lowe- Seriously, I am not joking, SI thinks that he is perfect to come to Boston, we will skip by the fact that he is 35 and has maybe the thinnest skin every. This move would make me ill on the puke scale it is three out of five

Coming in as the 40th best Free Agent

Kevin Millar - If Ben didnt have a kid and actually wrote on the site anymore he would go ballastic. He spent most of 2005 explaining to me that he wanted to beat Kevin Millar with a Sock full of Oranges. I put this as a 5 out of 5 on the puke scale.

Coming in as the 50th best Free Agent

Jason Varitek - You had to see this coming, I would imagine he will be back, I will only be concerned for how long and how much he will be playing. On the puke scale I would put this as 2 out of 5.

Overal not an impressive group they have us getting. It does not address our lack of hitting out of the catchers position, it does not strengthen our bullpen and it does not add the bat we desperately need to replace Manny Ramirez.

Read more!

On The Pats...

Wow, when was the last time a Pats-Colts game was this un-anticipated? I'd say that you have to go back to the third game of the 2001 season AKA Tom Brady's first start when it seemed a foregone conclusion that the then 2-0 Colts, fresh off putting up 87 points in their first two games of the season would roll into Foxboro and decimate the Patriots. That game was supposed to be the Colts third straight rout of the year (come on, we all felt that way going in, don't be coy and say you knew they had something in Brady at that point) but instead it was the Patriots that did the routing with a 44-13 dismantling and the official start of "something" that year.

That game has nothing to do with this one, but for the better part of this decade, Pats-Colts has been the marquis NFL rivalry with nothing even in the same area code. But this year there is wholly something lacking. Whereas in the past, the week before Pats-Colts would be all stories about previous matchups between the two, Brady & Manning, etc, this year I have hardly heard a peep. Of course a banged up Colts team that has looked iffy at best all year and a Patriots team without Tom Brady has everything to do with this, but still. Pats-Colts has been THE date on the schedule for both teams and the NFL pretty much since 2003 and it is just weird having it be such a non-factor right now. Like I said earlier, you probably have to go back to 2001 to find a time when a game between these two teams was as much a non-event.

But I digress because I really do want to care about this game. And of course I do. But I know I am not the only one who has struggled to get into the Pats this year. Last year's Super Bowl left me so scarred that I needed a full on Brady redemption. I'm not saying that I needed another 16-0 team, but I needed something. I needed a reason to want to tune into the Patriots on a weekly basis. While of course I will, I'm not hunting down a sports bar to watch the game if they aren't on nationally. This may sound sacrelig to you Boston folks, but put yourself in my position. If you had the choice of spending your Sunday by yourself in a seedy sports bar somewhere in Virginia to watch the Patriots eek out an ugly victory over the Rams or do something else that did not involve dark bars and cigarette smoke at 1 in the afternoon, wouldn't you do it? You would, I promise.

And this isn't to say this all because Brady is not around either. It was exactly the same way back in 2006. Remember that team? They stumbled around through the first 10 weeks of the season, going 6-3 and then they found their stride down the stretch, finishing 12-4 and in the playoffs they were a Troy Brown first down away from making the Super Bowl. That team was pretty brutal at the start too with the Reche Caldwell/Doug Gabriel/Jabar Gaffney passing attack. They found their way though and when you look back at that season you think about them blowing that massive halftime lead to the Colts in the AFC Championship and not all the crap that happened the first 10 weeks.

So with that, I say give these guys some time. I know they aren't that fun and exciting at the moment and are kind of tough to get behind in the complete sense. But maybe, come late November or so things will start falling into place a bit more for them and all of a sudden we'll all realize that what they are doing - competing at a high level with JV talent at QB, DB, and a MASH unit at RB - is pretty impressive. Plus, if the QB and O-Line can keep sacks at a modest 2/game then maybe, just maybe we have a contender on our hands. Doubtful, but I love what BB could potentially scheme up in a one game scenario when he is the under-manned coach and team for the first time in quite some time. You gotta admit that if the Pats are on the road at TN in the second round (a likely scenario at the moment) that despite their glaring shortcomings on paper you'd have to give them more than a puncher's chance. I know I would. Read more!

Happy Halloween

Another reason I like ESPN radio better than WEEI, are Glen Ordway and Pete Sheperd going to dress up today.
Read more!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ken Macha is gone

For some unknown reason the Milwaukee decided to make Ken Macha there new manager. They apparently also interviewed Bob Brenly and Willie Randolph, but somehow they picked Macha. I personally do not care who they pick. I am thrilled though that he is leaving NESN though, he might be the dullest man alive. At one point this season Jerry Remy was sick and Macha sat in for the game and it was awful, I kept thinking that I was going to fall asleep sitting there. So goodbye Ken Macha, I was never sure why they hired you but I am thrilled that you are gone. Read more!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Two Sox Pitching Thoughts

1) Last winter and even up until about mid-May, if you had asked me who I would rather trade, Jon Lester or Clay Bucholz I would have answered Lester without even thinking about it. Now of course the answer would be about as definitive a 180 from those sentiments as humanly possible.

And that brings me to my point here.

Just because Clay Bucholz had a lost season and seemingly regressed does not mean that he is a failed project and a guy that should be sent out of town. Let's not forget that we're talking about a guy with only about 100 (less actually) innings pitched in the majors and who just turned 24 in August. Yes, it's easy to write him off and drop his name in every single trade rumor out there, but again I ask you to think back to a year ago and what your thoughts were on Jon Lester's future. I know that I for one pegged him as the nibbling type and a 20 pitch/inning guy who'd be lucky to get the team to the seventh inning. Furthermore I thought his ceiling would be as a number three starter in the National League. Re-read those last two sentences. They are laughable. But I was not alone with those thoughts. Remember that. And think on that before trying to find the easiest way out of town for Bucholz.

A few others things to consider about Bucholz...

* Eight of his sixteen starts came against AL East competition AKA the best division in MLB. He also had two starts against the Angels, one each against the AL Central co-champs (for all intents and purposes) the Twins and White Sox, and one against the Tigers (4th in the league in runs scored) and the Rangers (first in the league in runs scored). That's leaves just two more starts and they came against the Royals and Mariners. So while Bucholz admittedly got rocked more often than not this year, he was forced to "learn" for lack of a better word on the job and against the best competition in MLB. A tough assignment for anyone and let's look at the brightside and say it will only make him stronger in the long run.

* Heading into the 2007 and 2008 seasons, according to Baseball America, Bucholz was the Sox second and first ranked prospect respectively. He flip-flopped with Ellsbury after the 2007 season. Obviously, that's not the be all and end all, but when the most respected minor league publication out there ranks a guy as your best or second best prospect two years running then you probably want to give him every chance to prove his worth.

2) Count me as one of the many who would love to see D-Lowe make his triumphant return to Fenway in a Sox uniform. I think he would be a great addition to the back-end of the rotation and a front four of Beckett, Lester, Dice, and D-Lowe would be awesome. But now I have to play the wet blankett here.

While it cannot be overstated how great Derek Lowe was in the 2004 postseason - him and Keith Foulke were indisputably the two most important pitchers in that run - it should also be noted that he started that postseason not in the rotation. Do you know who the number three starter was at the start of the playoffs that year? Bronson Arroyo. And do you know what else? He absolutely deserved it. His ERA+ that season of 122 far outpaced Lowe's ERA+ of 90. In other words, Arroyo's ERA in 2004 was 4.04 while D-Lowe's was 5.42.

I bring this up, not to denigrate Lowe's memory but instead to point out to everybody who is expecting D-Lowe to come in to town and act as a fourth ace that that aint happening. What Lowe should bring is stability to the back of the rotation, roughly 200 innings, and an ERA around 4. In short, he'd be a highly valuable fourth starter. But at the same time, is he worth paying like an ace? If Lowe is to come back to town, my guess is it's four years and $50-$60M to get him here. Sorry, but I'm just not okay with having Derek Lowe being the highest paid pitcher on the Sox staff. Of course that does not "mean" a whole lot on the actual diamond - JD Drew is now after all their highest paid position player barring a free agent signing - but what it does mean is that the pitcher which the Sox will have the most long term time and money committed to would be Derek Lowe and not the guys they should be looking to funnell money towards, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. If Lowe will take a two or even three year contract at about $12M per, then sign me up. Any more than that though and I think it has to be a thanks but no thanks. Read more!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

One Thought on World Series Game 3

I'll just throw it out there...

Back in 1996 when the Sox traded Jamie Moyer for Darren Bragg, who would have guessed that Moyer would be starting a World Series game 12 years later? Nobody right? Exactly. That's why gotta love baseball. Who could predict something like that!?

For whatever reason I always tie the Jamie Moyer trade to the Mike Boddicker trade in Red Sox annals. Obviously Mike Boddicker was about 187x better than Darren Bragg, but that isn't the point. What I want to throw out there is that normally when you trade away prospects that happen to be Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling for a veteran pitcher you get crushed. Not the case with Boddicker though. Boddicker was great! Plus he had his legendary hook which was not matched by a Sox SP until Aaron Sele came along. But I digress. This is just an interlude to get to my main story...

Back in 1988 before he was traded, I remeber doing a Birthday Party at Fenway and during said party the Sox bunted Brady Anderson with the bases loaded. An inexplicable move to this day. So what does that have to do with anyting? Simple, when I hear the name Brady Anderson, I don't think "drug addled 50 jack season", I think "the guy who bunted with the bases loaded at my birthday party back in the day". Furthermore, whenever I see the bases loaded with a weak hitter at the plate I hearken back to that moment. Funny how those things work right.

Three other fun Neil Williams Fenway Park Facts:

1) I saw Tim Naerhing's first MLB home run

2) I saw Andre Dawson's 400th career home run

3) This is the biggy...I saw Sammy Sosa's first career home run off of Roger Clemens. It landed in the screen. This is of course back when he was a scrawny Rangers outfielder. Ironically, I am more proud of seeing Timmy Naerhing's first career HR, but whatever.

Do you know what depresses me though? Is that now that Fenway is all corporated out, I doubt kids growing up today will have memories like I had at Fenway growing up. That's a different story though, even if it does make me sad. Maybe another time.

Williams out. Read more!

Throwing a Trade Proposal Out There

Here's a wild trade proposal for you. Keep in mind it takes into account a Mark Texiera signing - probably a long shot - but still, humor me.

For what it's worth, this would never happen.

Sox trade Mike Lowell, Jason Bay, Jed Lowrie, Coco Crsip, and Michael Bowden to Philly for Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.

Why Should Philly Do This?

Philly needs a corner outfielder with Pat Burrell a free agent. Assuming they don't sign him, that leaves a big hole in left field. Enter Jason Bay. Philly had interest in Mike Lowell last year and they signed Pedro Feliz as a stop-gap measure for this season. Lowell can slide in nicely to the 3B slot and should benefit from a switch to a hitter friendly, NL park. Michael Bowden is in there because the Phillies need to get younger and better in their rotation. Did you notices that their Game 3 World Series starter is Jamie Moyer? As for Lowrie, the Phillies would need somebody to man SS with Rollins gone, and he too would probably benefit from an AL/NL switch. Where does Coco fit in? Philly needs to round out their outfield. So enter Crisp.

It's a lot of talent Philly is giving up here, but at the same time they are helping their rotation for maybe the present and definitely the future, bringing some pop back to their OF at a reasonable cost, slightly upgrading at the 3B position, and taking a chance on a highly touted prospect at SS. You know they don't want to get rid of Rollins, but maybe this is a chance they would take. Then again, probably not.

With this move, Philly's starting nine looks like this next year:

C Carlos Ruiz
1B Ryan Howard
2B Chase Utley
SS Jed Lowrie
3B Mike Lowell
LF Jason Bay
CF Coco Crisp
RF Jayson Werth

and don't forget the rotation boost

Why Should the Sox Do This?

Seems crazy to trade 5 major league players for 2. But consider this:

Lowell in this trade would be a salary dump.

Jason Bay hurts obviously, but you aren't getting players as good as Rollins or Victorino without giving up somebody good.

Lowrie is an exciting prospect but if you have the chance to upgrade your SS position by going from Lowrie to Jimmy Rollins, you HAVE to do that.

Michael Bowden is an intriguing prospect and probably not somebody you "want" to trade, but again, you gotta give to get.

Coco's value is at an all time high so may as well get while the getting is good.

So now, taking into account the Texiera signing which as noted above is far from a certainty, the Sox opening day lineup card could maybe look like this:

Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mark Texiera 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
JD Drew RF
???? C
Jacoby Ellsbury CF

You like? I do. No knock on Ellsbury holding down the 9 hole. You might remember Billy Mueller winning a batting title while hitting 9th back in 2003.

So there you go. There is my blockbuster proposal. It aint happening but it is fun to scheme these things up right? Read more!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


What happened last night? I honestly have no idea, I had the game on in the background really I had other things to do so it was not a top priority and I watched as the Patriots went up 13-0. There was no way it could last though, Right? I mean this team was 3-2, with wins against league scmuchs the Chiefs, against a decent Jets team, and a struggling 49ers team that recently let there coach go. Last week they went to San Diego and got absolutely destroyed, I was figuring on much of the same from them this week to be honest with you, how could you not, up until this point Denver had been a very good team, with a great passing game that you would think would destroy the Patriots weak secondary.

But something changed last night, whether they were more prepared, or the defense realized it was time to step it up they could not leave it on a young Matt Cassel's shoulders anymore they kicked it into another gear last night and left the team in good shape for the rest of the season if they can continue to play so well.

The Patriots have 10 games remaining, 5 at home, 5 on the road. Of those ten games they should win at least 5 of them. They will beat the Jets if for no other reason than the Coach hates Mangenious, they will beat the Rams because they are awful, the will beat the Dolphins in order to get revenge and because it is the day after my wedding, they will beat the Seahawks cause they are awful and Holmgren would lose his job if he hadn't already announced they were retiring, and they will beat the Raiders who I have watched because I have Darren McFadden in one of my Fantasy leagues and I am not even remotely impressed by them.

That leaves 5 games, all they need to do is win 2 to make it to 11-5 and all but guarantee a playoff spot. I think they can do it. Indianapolis, this is always a tough game, but it depends which colts team is going to show up, Is it the team that smoked the Vaunted Baltimore Defense 31-3 or is it the helpless looking Peyton Manning who lost by twenty to the Packers. I am hoping it is the Packers Manning. They play Buffalo twice, I think they can take 1 of those games most likely at home, it will be tough they look good this year but they really haven't had to many tests except for an up and down Chargers and a disappointing Jacksonville team. They play the Steelers at home this will be a tough one and I do not think they can win. Finally they play Arizona, knowing there past they will be falling apart at this point and we can take that game.

So we win 2 or 3 of those last games and we are in the playoffs where we know good things can happen, are they going to win the Superbowl, probably not but they can at least make it interesting. Read more!

Monday, October 20, 2008

So Another Season is Over

I can't say that I was not surprised last night, you could tell that the Red Sox just did not have it to complete yet another miracle comeback. The Rays were just to good, and that is why they won. Some thoughts that I have.

- I hope Big Papi's problem was just the wrist, sure he hit a three run homerun in game five but he was a shell of his former self this post season. When every pitcher knows that you can only get around on pitches on a certain part of the plate you are cooked.

- Jason Varitek could have had his last at bat in a Red Sox uniform. It is time for us to get younger behind the plate, and trade for one of the 4 young good catchers that the Rangers have right now. I would like Teagarden, but I would take Salty. If Tek wants to take 5 million per to be a teacher and eventually the back up that would be great. At this point though you cannot have that big of a hole in your lineup.

So we head into the off season, CC is a free Agent, the Padres want to talk to us about Jake Peavy. Our Free Agents:

- Jason Varitek
- Mark Kotsay
- Paul Byrd
- Curt Schilling
- Tim Wakefield
- Mike Timlin
- Javier Lopez
- Sean Casey
- Kevin Cash
- Bartolo COlon

Everyone else is still an indentured servant for at least some more time. I can see them locking up Paps, Pedroia, and Youk soon. From this list is there anyone you would be devestated to lose? I would be sad to see Tek, Wakefield, and Casey go but other than that I think we will be fine, we are getting younger and the time has come to see what some of our youngsters can do. Bard, Bowden, and others are ready to take there spots on the roster. As always....

There is always next year. Read more!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wrapping Up the Sox

So, what happened to the Sox? Well a few things:

1) They lost to the better team.

2) In their last game of the season they lost the type of game they lost all season; a close game that came down to the Sox scoring late off of power bullpen arms. Didn't they lose three or four of these games to Tampa in September? Exactly. The loss is frustrating, but it was not like it came out of the blue. The offense, sans Manny just took on a different form and could not scrape together those late inning rallies against elite bullpens.

3) Realistically, the Sox played a lot longer this year than they had any right to. If the Angels don't botch that squeeze they probably don't even make the ALCS and if Tampa does not blow Game 5 then their season ends at Fenway in a rout. Sure this loss sucks, but the taste this season is going to leave in my mouth is a lot better than it would have been had they lost to Anaheim or Tampa in five.

4) Even though it stings now I still have to give the Sox immense credit for what they were able to do in the ALCS, playing without their starting third baseman and having their most important pitcher and hitter battling injuries. The team is tough OK. You can't take that away from them and in fact you should applaud them for that. They did not roll over and die.

5) One last thought on Game 7 and that is that there are certain things in sport that always catch up to you. In basketball it's missed free throws, in football it's turnovers, and in baseball it is runners left on base. In Game 7 the Sox left eight men on base and lost by two runs. Can't win that way.

6) One last thought overall...

I will be rooting for the Phillies with all my heart in the World Series because that town deserves a title more than any town I can think of with the exception of Cleveland. While I saw the Tampa Bay dugout jumping up and down with emotion in anticipation of the final outs I thought it was a nice moment. But when I see the fans not show up for games until the end of the ALCS I think, sorry Tampa Bay, you are a nice story, but you don't deserve a title because your fans did not put in the effort. The best thing about seeing your team win a title as a fan is that rooting for your team is a year round investment of personal resources. You monitor their offseason moves, anticipate their preseason/training camp/whatever, and then sweat through the regular season all in hopes of getting to the finish line and finishing on top. When that actually happens it is such a rewarding feeling it is almost embarassing. But when you hop on and only invest four to six weeks in a team - maybe even less - you are cheating. You're winning a marathon but only running the last six miles. You need to run the full 26.2 to deserve your spot in the winner's circle and because Philadelphia as a whole has more than put in their time, I really, really hope they win. I think Tampa is better but I want Philly to win. In that sense it makes the Sox loss all the easier because it's not like the Tigers and Cardinals or Astros and White Sox are playing in the World Series. A team I genuinely can pull for is playing and playing against a bandwagon hopping fan base that needs PA cues to cheer and I cannot support that. In short, go Philly. I really do like your enthusiasm Tampa, but titles are for fans more than anything and I just cannot live in a world where your POS fan base gets to celebrate winning the World Series. Read more!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some Good Thinking to Start the Weekend

I've been not posting out of spite until somebody else actually stepped up and did something. Who am I kidding. It was really just Pricing Boy that I was waiting on to do something. Anyway, now that others have proved that they at least have a semblance of interest in maintaining the blog I'll go back at it.

A couple of pre-weekend thoughts:

1) The most subtly fascinating sub-plot of the entire Celtics camp is the whole Sam Cassell saga. I'm still not sure how he coaxed a one year contract out of the team when he clearly is worthless on the basketball court and nobody seems to want him around. What's even funnier to me is his whole desire to make the Avery Johnson straight from washed up point guard to the coaching staff move when Doc seems to want no part of that one either. It's a truly bizarre situation. Imagine if the Sox signed Eric Gagne to a one year deal last winter, then cut him in spring training, and made him the bullpen coach against Tito's wishes? Isn't this exactly what this Cassell situation is like? If he makes the team then the jokes of him somehow being able to blackmail the ownership group or Danny Ainge no longer become jokes, they become statements that must be taken as facts.

2) I like this version of the Red Sox about 100x better than last year's version - World Series title or not. The amount of perseverance they have shown with all the injuries that have hit them since day one is what has endeared me to the team. Not to mention the whole moving forward after the Manny saga thing. I was not prepared to see their season disappear with a pathetic whimper as it seemed destined to at about 10:30 on Thursday night. Right now I almost feel like I won't be crushed if they lose in Tampa - which I don't think they will to be perfectly honest. Of course that is a lie, but last night's victory was really, really satisfying and if Beckett goes out and stinks the joint up again on Saturday then I think I'll be okay with it. Who am I kidding. I will be incredibly upset. But these are the things I try and tell myself to brace for possible failure. Lucky - or unlucky? - for me I don't think they will fail.

3) I was feeling the Papi homer on Thursday night, I'm not going to lie. And once he crushed that I knew they were winning that game. Papi obviously has not been their best player this year but he is still their most important. Nothing energizes the team or the crowd like a big October hit from David Ortiz. Nothing.

4) OK Red Sox fans, this is going to sound like heresy but in the last two postseasons their most clutch player has been JD Drew. That may be tough to swallow but it is the truth. He had their biggest hit last year - THE Grand Slam - and he has three of their biggest five hits in the postseason this year with his K-Rod homer, his 8th inning homer in Thursday's game, and of course his 9th inning walkoff. If you are wondering the two other biggest hits to date this year you'd have to go with Jason Bay's homer off of Lackey in Game One of the ALDS and Papi's homer on Thursday. I guess Jed Lowrie needs to be thrown in the mix somewhere there too for his walkoff hit in the clinching ALDS game. Regardless of all that there is no denying that JD Drew has had some MONSTER hits for the Sox in the past two postseasons. That is a fact.

5) Another thing to think on is that you must admit the Red Sox pitching is lined up far better this year to take Games 6 & 7 than it was last year. Last year you had the Big Question Mark going in Game 6 except it was a partially injured/ineffective Schilling instead of Beckett so call that a wash. But this year in Game 7 you have the resident Ace going instead of Dice-K. That's a big difference. Huge actually. Of course a Game 7 still has to happen, but if the Sox can get there I really like their chances.

6) Unfortunately, this year's Rays team is really, really good. Better than last year's Indians squad. My hope however is that after their bats have been crushing the ball the last four games that they will go quiet for the final two. Kind of like the Yanks in 2004. And yes, my old roommate Jay has put the highest honor an opposing player can reach onto the head of BJ Upton by saying that he has reached "Sheffield in 2004" status as far as how terrified you get when the guy steps to the plate. It gets no better than that and I think everybody out there would agree with me too. Upton has been an absolute terror this series.

7) If you are worried about winning two consecutive on the road, consider that the Red Sox could have and should have done this in 2003. It was a long time ago, but they stole Game 6 at Yankee Stadium, a game which JOHN BURKETT started and obviously should have won Game 7. No need to recap that debacle, but let's just say that the pre-2004 Red Sox playing two must win games in Yankee Stadium is a bit more daunting than the 2008 Red Sox playing two must win games at Tropicana Field. And John Burkett will be nowhere to be found except maybe at a bowling alley somewhere in the Tampa-St. Pete area.

So there are some positive thoughts for you to head into the weekend!
Read more!

The More things Change

It has been awhile since my words appeared on RootbeerandBacon, a lot has been going on in my life and in the world of sports and it has kept me from my appointed task of being the second most prolific writer on this website behind Neil. I would love to guarantee you all that I will be posting daily again but that is a promise I will not make, I will say I will try a lot harder, and will most likely be making my posts shorter. A Quality of Quantity kind of thing. Anyway…..

As you all saw last night the Red Sox came back from the dead against the Rays, it takes a special kind of team to come back from 7 down with 7 outs to go. Do I think this means that they win the whole thing again? Yeah I think it does, I will be the Red Sox goober that I know I am down in my soul and say I do think they will.

Back in 2004 I was an out of work, single guy, who slept till noon and stayed up for every post season game and lived at his parents’ house I was 22 years old. In 2008 I am a fairly successful Analyst for a middle of the road insurance company, I am engaged, who slept in until almost 6 AM this morning, and I still live at my parents house. I guess the point I am making is the more things change the more they stay the same.

Damon, Millar, Pedro, Manny, Mueller, Bellhorn, Kapler, Reese, Nomar, Trot, Mirabelli, Orlando, Foulke, Leskanic, Williamson, Embree, Lowe, Arroyo, Mike Myers, Mendoza, etc are all gone. They might not Cowboy up, or be idiots, but after over 24 innings of doing absolutely nothing the 2008 Red Sox came back and actually looked like they wanted defend there Championship from 2007. Tune in on Saturday it could be Special. Read more!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Some Belated ALDS Thoughts

So, I think I liked last year's ALDS against the Angels better. You remember that one right? The Sox rolled in Games 1 and 3 and Game 2 featured Manny's K-Rod Moonshot. Like I said, I think I liked that one better.

This year, every game was excruciatingly close and amazingly the Sox twice allowed the Angels to tie the game in the eighth inning only to eventually win in the ninth. I'll be honest with you. In each of those situations I thought the game was over once the Angels battled back to tie. Game 4 was the worst though. I was convinced the Angels were having their Red Sox in 2004 moment with the Red Sox playing the role of the Yankees, but luckily I was wrong and now it's onto the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays. Wow. Never thought I would type that sentence.

With that being said, some leftover thoughts from this series....

1) The Red Sox really are turning into the late 1990s Yankees. The Angels definitely could have won that Series but the Sox made just about every play they had to in the field while the Angels defense was almost unbelievably bad. Combine that with their stunning inability to hit with runners on base and K-Rod once again proving that anybody who pays him $15M a year as a free agent is a fool and you have the Angels losing this series almost as much as the Red Sox winning it. Isn't this exactly how the Yankees won back in the day? Or more specifically, isn't this exactly how the Yankees beat the Sox in the 1999 ALCS?

2) I am already on record as being sickened by the fawning over Mark Texiera from the TBS crew. Again, do we really need to make Texiera into the next Babe Ruth when he goes an entire postseason series without a single extra base hit and only two hits (one of them an infield single) with runners on base? I don't care that he hit .467 with an OBP of .550. The Angels got him to be a run producing force in the middle of their lineup and he did not do that. In that sense, the deal for him was an abject failure. End of story. They were cruising to the AL West crown and the best record in the AL with or without him.

3) I am torn. Part of me is greatly concerned about the Sox offense who looked pretty bad against the Angels. The other part of me says that they just won a playoff series against a 100 win team with just a solitary RBI a piece from Pedroia, Papi, and Youklis. Couple that with the fact that they combined to go 9-52 with only 3 XBH between them and it is a minor miracle they actually won.

4) One more damning offensive stat for the Sox and that is that they scored 18 runs in the series. Not very good, but not awful either. However, 11 of those 18 runs came on just 4 swings (Jason Bay's 2 run HR and 3 run HR, Drew's 3 run HR, and Ellsbury's 3 run pop out err base hit). Much of the Red Sox past postseason success has come from the ability to grind out runs with a slow bleed approach until eventually they can reach a weak middle-reliever and create some separation. That isn't happening right now. It wasn't really happening in September either; specifically in the Tampa Bay series. That has to be a definite concern right now. Of course we are well overdue for a hot streak for Pedroia, Papi, and Youkilis so maybe all of these fears will be quelled in the next week. If not then I hope you are ready to see Tampa Bay in the World Series.

5) A quick pitching breakdown....

Lester - what else is there to say? He's the ace now.

Beckett - biggest potential X factor moving forward. If Game 3 was a fluke then the Sox are looking great to repeat. If it was not and he is not healthy then Tampa will probably take the series in 6.

Dice-K - ugh. Can you remember a less enjoyable person to watch pitch? If so please refresh my memory.

Manny D - looking real good, but I don't want to jinx it.

Masterson - looking a bit on the shaky side.

Okajima - Oki being Oki you know? He'll walk some guys and he'll get some huge outs.

Papelbon - he's looked awesome. Thank GOD he did not have to be used in Game 4. That would have had three run outing written all over it.

6) I too would have liked to have seen Lester start the 8th in Game 4. However, there were a few times during the year when his pitch count started getting in the neighborhood of 110 (I think he finished with 109 Monday) through 7 innings and he went out for the 8th and got hit around a little bit. Not rocked, but hit. Maybe Tito was guarding against that? Still, I would not have been averse to letting Lester go out there on a batter by batter basis to see what he could do. If he gave up a hit, then yank him, but as long as he kept on retiring guys I would have been happy to ride him out. Of course the Sox won the game and all is well so there is really no need to harp on that point. Plus, isn't that a little bit of the backup QB mentality where it always sounds better until it is actually implemented? How many Grady Little jokes would have come up if Lester gave up a hit and then a two-run jack to either Texiera or Vlad? Exactly.

7) The stupidest, and I mean STUPIDEST thing I have ever heard an announcer say came courtesy of Buck Martinez as the Sox were celebrating after Jason Bay crossed the plate:

"You think these guys don't care about winning?!"

What? Of course they care about winning. Do you think they wanted to lose? Did somebody question how much they wanted to win? Did David Ortiz pull Buck aside prior to the game and say, "Buck I don't care if we win or lose"? I could go on forever. It almost makes me wish Joe Morgan was in the booth. Well maybe not.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Texiera the Great? CHALLENGE

Never, and I mean never before have I ever heard an announcer heap undeserving praise on a player like Buck Martinez gave Mark Texiera in Game 2. To be fair, if you look at the box score from the game you will see that Texiera went 3-3 for with an RBI and a run scored. At first glance, that looks like a decent game. But then you dig a little deeper and realize that all three of his hits were singles and his RBI came on a sac fly. All of a sudden not so much right? Maybe if that were a bottom of the lineup middle infielder we could sing the praises, but forgive me if I can't get excited about a cleanup hitter's game when all he did was hit three singles and drive in a run by making an out. If you were listening to the way Buck was raving about Texiera last night though you would have thought that he was 4-4 with 2 homers, 2 doubles, and 8 driven in. Nope. Three singles and a sac fly. For the guy who supposedly was the "missing link" to the Angels offense and was going to put them over the top that is pretty meager.

And that brings me to my next point.

I've always kind of felt that Texiera would be one of these players who would put up good to great numbers every year for 75-85 win teams and always be a non-factor in the postseason. Call him a poor man's A-Rod if you want. In fact, call him a poor man's A-Rod because I was talking to a Braves fan a few weeks back and I asked him about Texiera and his response was, "He's the type of guy that will come up empty in big spots, but hit the three run homer when you are already up two or down five". Sound familiar? Let's just say that at this moment right now 2004 Gary Sheffield is still safe as the most intimidating player the Sox have ever gone up against in the playoffs.

I used to want Texiera for the Sox because I'd look at his numbers and force myself into really liking the guy. After this series though? No thanks. Somebody will give him big cash, but the Yankees really have no need for a first baseman these days and the Mets will probably just re-up Delgado at a team friendly rate so I'm not sure where he's going to get the cash this offseason, but where ever that cash comes from I am not going to sweat it even if he does land in the lap of a rival. Read more!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bizarro World?

John Lackey just pitched around Dustin Pedroia with a runner on third - thank you Gary Mathews Jr., it's karma from that sucker punch you threw in a Sox-Orioles brawl in 2002 - and two outs to get old Sox scrub Darren Oliver into the game to face David Ortiz. And do you know what? It worked. And do you know what else? I would have much rather had Pedroia have his hacks in that spot than Big Papi. Weird game baseball is sometimes.... Read more!