Red Sox

Dark Days Ahead For The Red Sox

Amazing dark Fenway silkscreen by Daniel Danger. Used without permission. 

Oh no. I'm not going to write a long, overdue post about the coming Red Sox 2012 season. Not gonna do it. I will keep it as brief as I can, since I'm not a paid pundit.

But I will say that I have reached a low point in my fandom. Always sketical of the owners, the Fenway Group, I have become conviced that they are simply disgusting human beings. I should know this about all owners of sports franchises. But John Henry now offically disgusts me. My only action is to ingore him. Yes, he loves yachts and Liverpool. Those are reasons enough not to like him. But his actions during and after the Red Sox collapse of 2011 sealed the deal. He's not a Steinbrenner. He's not a criminal. But he's living proof that wealthy Democrats can still be disgusting people. Party lines never matter in these cases. It's all about actions and words. He can split his time between Newport and Liverpool.

I have the little theory that people simply become wierd after their net worth passes a few million or so. We see it all over. They develop odd hobbies. They start demanding that certain no brainer foods be prepared a specific way (the stories about John Kerry's morning toast checklist during the 2004 presidential campaign comes to mind). They become OK with having servants enter their bedrooms and their children's bedrooms and open the curtains every morning (Dick Fuld). They buy big houses in the middle of Wyoming (Dick Chaney and Dick Fuld, again....never new urban Jews could love ranches). And they hire third party uteruses to give birth to late-life children (Bobby De Niro,  is a very recent example). 

Rich people. They're wierd. Moving on.

I probably have a bigger issue with the Red Sox fans. Just ten years ago, they were among the most rational and knowledgeable fans in American pro sports (up there with the fans of several NHL teams, I would argue). I'll do my best to ignore the younger Red Sox fans up north who don't seem to know their history. The males indocricane their girlfriends to become fans, don pink caps (and other feminine items), and get logo tattoos on their ankles. These poor kids. They don't know pain. They don't know frustration. Oh, but they will. 

It won't be quite as bad as the 1984-1993 Yankees. But the Red Sox are heading into a quiet era, which could become worse if revenues unexpectantly drop.

So, here's my wicked short prediction for the Boston Red Sox. With no real shortstop ar catcher, they are at a defensive disadvantage. They have two outstanding pitchers, but the bottom two in their rotation could be breakouts or busts. They will get plenty of hits in their 100 year old ballpark. But they will have a depressing road record. They will be thankful to have an easy interleague schedule. But that's about all. By late July, they could be completely demoralized if they are swept in sweltering Arlington. I predict they will finish third in the AL East, behind the Yankees and Tampa Bay (although I'm not sure about the Yankees chances of clinching the wild card either). 

I like Bobby Valentine. He should have stayed in Japan. But in Boston, he's already not handling the media or his players very well. Meanwhile, management is already working on lowering expecations.

So follow their lead, Red Sox Nation. Don't get too excited. The decompression period has begun. So relax. Savor that $10 beer at the ballpark. Go to the beach for a change. Finish that summer reading book list. This period could last a few seasons.

We seldom get comments here at MLH. So, precious readers, what do you think? Comment away.

Weak 2009 Red Sox Look Forward To 2010

 

The 2009 Red Sox were more than good enough to make it to the playoffs over the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, and the resurgent Seattle Mariners.  But they clearly were not pennant material.  And as I mentioned in an earlier post, this year's version of the Red Sox lacked the fire and passion of other Red Sox teams this decade. They were professional and kept their cool, but they never turned-up the temperature when it was needed.

So what do the Red Sox need to do this offseason?  They need to do the following, in my humble, amateur opinion:

1.  Do not renew Jason Varitek's contract

2.  Renew Jason Bay's contract

3.  Renew Tim Wakefield's contract

4.  Do not renew Mike Lowell's contract, unless he is willing to be the DH

5.  Move Kevin Youkilis to Third base

6.  Find a new starting First baseman (Lars Anderson?)

7.  Find a new middle / long reliever (you know, to replace Justin Masterson)

8.  Sign another outfielder (Nick Markakis, Carlos Quentin, etc.) to help out Rocco Baldelli / J.D. Drew or to replace J.D. Drew.

 

Just my opinions.  More as the off-season progresses in November and December.

 

So The Red Sox Are Playoff-Caliber?

The Red Sox might have turned their season around, and at the right time. In the last 10 days, they have swept the Orioles in a two game series, then swept the Devil Rays, nearly swept the Angels, and then swept the Orioles. That's 10 wins and 1 defeat. With today's win, they have improved their road record to .500, and they have virtually assured their appearance in the playoffs as the AL East Wild Card.

If they are truly a playoff team, they will will win their next two series - four games at The K, and then a weekend series against the Yankees at the 161st Street Crackhouse.

...But Boston Offense Needs To Wake Up


And the starting pitching needs to stabilize....and the bullpen needs to be re-shuffled....and....

When the White Sox scored three runs aginst Tim Wakefield early in Saturday's game, the damage had been done. The weather was near-optimal for knuckleballs (70 degrees, high humidity). But Wakefield's back was giving him a lot of pain.

The Rod Sox bats should've had a god day against the White Sox, but for the second straight game, they didn't.

Now, the Red Sox really need to win the third game of the series, stop the White Sox winning streak, and put the windy city behind them. Southpaw Jon Lester gets the ball this afternoon.

The Most Frustrating Season Since...?


2000 maybe? 1998? It's been a while since a Red Sox team put-up such impressive numbers and yet is in danger of not making the playoffs.

After being swept by the Texas Rangers in Arlington, in a series reminiscent of the season-crushing defeats in Arlington in 2001, I thought the season was over. I wanted to declare the 2009 Red Sox dead. But I am hesitant. Why?

The Red Sox have two injured starting pitchers - Wakefield and Matsuzaka. That has to be taken into account.

Furthermore, the apparent lack of passion and anger from these Red Sox is not a sign that the team lacks heart. I still see Ortiz dishing out customized high-fives and smiling. I still see Jason Bay focus at each at bat. And while the Red Sox haven't had an epic brawl, comeback, or dramatic walk-off this season (at least I don't recall a walk-off home run this season), they have remained cool and professional, much like their arch rivals in New York. There have been no off-field distractions. Even the news that David Ortiz was on the juice didn't rock the clubhouse. There hasn't been anything similar to Jurassic Carl circa 2001. Besides being swept in two recent series, there haven't been any other major bad news.

So the Red Sox still have a good chance to secure the Wild Card. And they can do it by being as close to perfect at home as possible. And that task re-boots tonight as the penultimate series against the Yankees begins.

It's on. Their fate is still in their hands.

Youkilis' Charge: Spark Or Stupidity?




Kevin Youkilis sent a strong message last night. He's had enough of being hit, intentionally or not. Last night was the 8th time Youk's been hit by a pitch.

In an unusual charging of the mound, Youkilis threw his helmet and attempted to tackle 20 year-old rookie pitcher Rick Porcello. Porcello's teammates were taken by surprise by Porcello's errant throw and were late in defending their pitcher from Yuokilis' charge. A heavy suspension is likely for Kevin Youkilis, who has proven himself to be the best third baseman for the Red Sox for the remainder of this season and into the future.Was it necessary or pointless? Helpful or harmful? Unavoidable or not? Let the debate simmer this week.

Red Sox July Report: The Wheels Come Off

Yes, they won last night, but the Red Sox season is over. This team had a lot going for it - a strong bullpen, a good (not stellar) offense, and the second best record in baseball. And that's how it was April through the All Star Break.

Then the wheels came off. The Sox tied their second worst losing streak in a century. The other season that featured a crushing six-game losing streak was 2006, when that losing streak knocked them out of playoff contention). But what alarmed me more than the consecutive losses was that the team was exposed as having no drive, no heart, perhaps even no soul.

No casual fan knows what goes on in the clubhouse, on the flights, or in the hotels. But the impression I got last week was that the 2009 Red Sox didn't seem to have as much fun as they used to in previous years. What was missing? The pranks? The nicknames? The off-duty bloopers and antics? Are we fans just not seeing how easy and loose this team is off the field? Could they really be souless corporate types like the Yankees? We can only guess.

But we do know that the losing streak occurred just a couple of weeks after the Red Sox made a risky deadline trade. The Sox traded long reliever / swing man Justin Masterson for the Indians' Victor Martinez. A risky move. While Martinez has given the Red Sox much needed offensive help, losing Masterson could be a contributing factor behind Boston's disastrous six-game losing streak at the hands of division rivals. Boston knew that a late season trade would involve them giving-up Josh Bard, Clay Buchholz, or Jusin Masterson, and they went with their proven long reliever.

Abruno over at Sox & Dawgs warned against trading Masterson.

While falling out of the AL East race is painful and embarrassing, it is still not yet mid August. One long win streak (or a string of streaks) can get the Red Sox back into the AL East hunt. Also remember the Yankees could also drop if one of their starting pitchers (especially AJ Burnett or Joba Chamberlain) is injured.

And then there are the intangibles that could happen to revive the Sox. We know that Kevin Youkilis and Jason Varitek are leaders on that team. They are not going to suffer any meltdowns. If there is a flashpoint, or some emotional event that the Sox and their team leaders can use to start a rally, they will most likely take advantage of it. I don't see fire in them yet, but they have over a week to clear their heads, win a few games, and earn a chance to reel-in the Yankees when they visit Fenway on August 21st.

How To Overcome Two Painful Losses - Start A New Winning Streak

I had planned to blog last Thursday's game between the Marlins and Red Sox. It turned out to be the most annoying game of the season so far, with Boston getting only 1 hit in a rain-shortened game.
The next day was no better, with the Red Sox scoring only 2 hits in a 8-2 thumping at the hands of the Braves. Daisuke Matsuzaka was overwhelmed and later placed on the 15-day Disabled List with a 'weak shoulder'.



With two losses like that, and the Yankees creeping closer in the AL East race, the Sox were put to a bit of a mental test.

And did they pass.

The next game on Saturday (June 20) was special. It marked the return to Fenway of Derek Lowe, who started for the Braves, against Boston ace Josh Beckett. In a classic pitcher's duel, Beckett came out on top, throwing his third career shutout, while the Sox offense was led by RBI hits by Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Nick Green.

Then came Sunday, and it was a thrilling shootout in the same cold, wet conditions that hung over Boston all last week. And the winning run was a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth by Nick Green.


It capped a dramatic turn-around in spirits and set the stage for a possible sweep in D.C. as the Red Sox will be facing the worst team in the Majors, while also trying to keep-up with the Dodgers, who currently have the best record in the Majors (46-24 as of Tuesday morning). The Nationals are 20-47 so far this season. The Red Sox are 42-27, and are looking to crack 50 wins well before the All Star break.

Red Sox Offense Gradually Getting Hot

For a team that was described as being in an offensive slump just 3 weeks ago, the Red Sox have to be feeling better about their hitting now. After last night's win against the Marlins, the Red Sox improved to 4th most productive offense in the Majors, with 353 runs scored. That's more than any National League team at the moment (the Phillies are right behind them with 341 runs scored - 5th best in the Majors).

David Ortiz is out of his slump. Dustin Pedroia, who was always a tough out before and during his recent slump, is getting clutch hits again. And my favorite new member of the team, Rocco Baldelli, has been earning more playing time, getting more hits, and seems to have become a buddy of David Ortiz.The positive energy and chemistry in the clubhouse works both ways. It kept the Sox positive during a time when they were not living-up to expectations. And now it is boosting everyone's mood and motivation as the team is closer to reaching its full potential. And we know because the Red Sox are a deep team, there is still room for further optimization as they approach the halfway point of the season.

The Sox will switch to a six-man starting rotation next week with the addition of John Smoltz. Nick Green appears to have secured his spot on the 25-man roster as one of their two shortstops (the other being Julio Lugo). I would hope that the Red Sox keep the six man rotation through the All Star break, and then re-assess which one of them would better serve the team from the bullpen. The other advantage is that if one of them is injured or traded, the Sox will still have one of the best rotations in the Majors.

Speaking of the bullpen, it was upgraded in May. The Sox sent situational lefty Javier Lopez to Pawtucket to make room for big right-handed rookie Daniel Bard. I like Javier for doing a fine job between 2006-2008. But it seems this is the beginning of the end of his stint with the Sox. His 13 earned runs in 11.2 innings simply could not fit in a bullpen that good. And Daniel Bard has already made an impact. He has allowed 5 runs in 13.2 innings with 15 strikeouts. That translates to a very respectable 3.29 ERA (compared to Lopez' 9.26 ERA). Could this mean that the Sox might shop for a situational lefty? Probably not. That's because Hideki Okajima, who had all sorts of problems last season, is back to his reliable self this season.

The Sox are poised for a win streak to carry them through the end of June, and win streaks earn playoff berths.

Red Sox Bullpen Passes Test . Yanks Can't Trust Theirs.

If we learned anything in this week's thrilling Yankees-Red Sox series at wet, chilly Fenway Park, it is that the Yankees cannot trust their bullpen. They have weapons and loads of talent, to be sure. Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano continue to be the young heroes. Johnny Damon is having a far better season than he did in 2008. Derek Jeter is doing his thing, day in, day out. And A-Rod is always dangerous, on-track to hit career home run # 600 sometime in 2010 or 2011. But manager Joe Girardi knows their weakness. It is the bullpen.

Joe Girardi has shown in his 1 & 1/3 seasons that he is a by-the-book manager - very predicable. But he couldn't follow his own rules last night in the 8th inning, when he knew he had to remove CC Sabathia from the mound, but didn't. It was an interesting and revealing moment, demonstrating that Girardi and his staff can't trust their bullpen to hold the line late in a game. I'm sure he was also hoping to rest his bullpen in preparation for the subway series in the Bronx this weekend. But the immediate thought on his mind had to be that he didn't have a reliable set-up man available to work the 8th inning.

Red Sox Analysis - More Arms And More Questions

Red Sox Gain Pitching Depth And New Potential All-Star Talent.

Well, I say potential, since while I really like the additions to the roster, nearly all of them are injury-prone or recovering from injury. Still, I love the transactions the Red Sox have made in this off season.

They made the most controversial transaction first, back in November, when they traded CF Coco Crisp to the Royals for set-up-man Ramon Ramirez. Giving-up a leadoff hitter with base-stealing speed is not a casual decision to make. But the Red Sox seem to think that they have other guys who can steal bases. More on that below.

Set-Up Men

Then the Red Sox worked on securing the best of their bullpen. They re-signed left-handed reliever, Javier Lopez. Knowing that Lopez is a solid sidearm reliever who can go one full inning, I see him as either a situational lefty, or a potential set-up man to compliment Hideki Okajima, Justin Masterson, and Ramon Ramirez. There is no debate who gets the ball in the 9th inning. But I think the Red Sox will experiment with these four guys to see who can work the 8th. Maybe the 8th inning will be a shared role between Okajima and Masterson, with Lopez and Ramirez as backup. Of those four, Masterson has the most stamina, and can go more than one inning, making him a potential long reliever. So the Red Sox have options in late-inning relief.

Middle Relievers

In January, the Sox traded young reliever David Aardsma to the Seattle Mariners for long-shot lefty prospect, Fabian Williamson. The Red Sox also acquired 28 year-old right-hander Fernando Cabrera, who will begin 2009 in Pawtucket. And the Red Sox acquired veteran reliever Takashi Saito from the Dodgers. Having spent the latter half of last season on the DL, Saito considered elbow surgery, but has decided to try to work his way back to full strength. He might start the season in Pawtucket as well. Saito is noted for giving-up 15 home runs to Hideki Matsui when they were rivals in the NPB.

Manny Delcarmen, Clay Buchholz, and Devern Hansack also return to the bullpen, along with young minor leagers such as Hunter Jones, Wes Littleton, and a possible future starter, Michael Bowden. The Boston bullpen is going to be a very interesting place in 2009. Given the team's decision to continue to look inward and support their growing farm system (7 minor league teams if you count the Wilmington Blue Rocks), I think there are a ton of storylines for a Red Sox fan to follow this season.

Starting Rotation

Next, the Sox rebuilt their starting rotation for 2009. Veteran swing man Julian Tavarez is gone. The Red Sox would love to lock young pitchers to be the backbone of their starting rotation for years. But that's the one part of the player's market that is locked-up and in short supply. Young aces are all locked-down, including those with the Red Sox. Sure, I dream of a starting five of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Scott Kazmir, Ubaldo Jimenez, and another young righty. But you sometimes have to buy veteran talent to take advantage of their experience and minimize risk by signing them to 1-year deals. And that's what the Sox did. At relatively low prices, they acquired veteran right-handers Brad Penny and John Smoltz, aged 30 and 41, respectively.

Brad Penny proved himself in the 2003 World Series, when he earned a victory against the Yankees alongside teammate Josh Beckett (who got 2 victories). He was a solid Cy Young candidate for a few seasons, but his time with the Dodgers had mixed results, marked by injuries. While he earned 16 victories in both 2006 and 2007, he had a losing, injury-shortened season with the Dodgers in 2008. When the Dodgers declined to give him a 6th year, the Red Sox acquired him for the base salary of $5 Million, well under his 2008 salary of $9M. John Smoltz, of course, had been with the Atlanta Braves since 1988. I wish I followed the National League in the 90s as closely as I follow it today. If I had, I would appreciate Smoltz and his accomplishments even more. In contemporary baseball, he has one of the longest tenures as a starting pitcher ever recorded (along with Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and fellow Braves teammate, Greg Maddux). He's been starting games for over half the lifetimes of most active players.

Depending on how flexible Smoltz agrees to be, he could start games in the second half of the season, or provide long relief in the bullpen. But it appears that he won't be starting games in April.

I would think that at this point in his career, Tim Wakefield would be open to moving back to the bullpen. But he is still in pursuit of the all-time wins record for the franchise (the record is 192, Wakefield has 164...years to go, I'm afraid). However, the Red Sox could give both Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka extra rest by switching to a 6-man rotation. The 6-man rotation would be:

1. Beckett
2. Lester
3. Matsuzaka
4. Wakefield
5. Penny
6. Buchholz

It's a long-shot, given Buchholz's need to develop further, and the chance of injury to any of those guys. Also, some believe that Buchholz may be traded in July. If Smoltz is ready to start in the second half of the season, then perhaps the Sox can go with a 6-man rotation when he's ready. I like unorthodox managing sometimes, and a less-exhausting workload during August and September can be a viable strategy if the team is leading the division, if no one is injured, and if the star pitchers are OK with fewer win opportunities. That's a few if's.

This is speculation, but assuming the Sox can go with a 5-man rotation (the list above, minus Buchholz), then perhaps a swing man can back-up Wakefield. If Wakefield can go 5 innings, and either Buchholz or Smoltz can go 3 innings, then the Sox would effectively have a tandem in the # 4 spot in the rotation. And while 5 innings of work only leads to a win with adequate run support and a solid bullpen, Wakefield has no chance of matching the franchise win record if he's a reliever. Wakefield is the last active player who was added to the roster by Lou Gorman (Wakefield joined the Sox in 1993). We're pulling for him. And it seems he is guaranteed at least one more milestone: he is just 4 strikeouts away from passing Pedro Martinez for the second-highest strikeout total in franchise history.

Infield

Boston has six infielders on the 40-man roster, with possible movement this season. It all depends on how Mike Lowell feels and plays. The Red Sox want Lowell to have one last productive year with the team. But if he gets injured again, or simply can't play every day, then the Third Base job might go to Kevin Youkilis a little earlier than planned. I totally see Youkilis at Third beginning in 2010, with one of several players competing for the spot at First.

The Red Sox have wisely prepared for the eventual departure of Mike Lowell. Succession Planning is something that usually doesn't happen smoothly in the corporate or sports world, but the Sox are trying to do it for the 1B, 3B and C positions. They have an exciting, power-hitting prospect at First by the name of Lars Anderson. And with Sean Casey retired, they acquired utility man Brad Wilkerson to share First Base duties with Youkilis.

At Shortstop, there are two players competing for the role - Julio Lugo and Jed Lowrie. The Red Sox have had a revolving door at SS since Nomar Garciaparra left the team in 2004. And that trend will continue, it seems. Just a couple of weeks ago, Lugo seemed to be the favorite to earn the role of primary Shortstop. But since Spring Training began, the pundits have been giving Lowerie another look. He put-up very respectable numbers in his rookie season. In baseball fantasy land, my wish is for the Sox to find a 25 year-old infield magician, like Garciaparra was, and the National League's Kahlil Greene could still become (Greene still looks like a young Sean Penn - it's freaky!). Jed Lowrie is 25 years old. Depending on how this season goes, he could develop into a full-time Shortstop, or become very marketable to smaller teams.

The job at Second is taken, and hopefully taken for years to come. Dustin Pedroia is becoming one of the best in the game at 2B. When I think about my current favorite infielders, I think of names like Ian Kinsler, Hank Blalock, Chase Utley, and Ronny Cedeno (yes, I still believe in Ronny). Dustin could be at the top of that list by the end of this season. He's that good.

Outfield

Another favorite player of mine is Rocco Baldelli. I like him for being an impact player, a hard worker, and for his very good OBP. Unfortunately, he has been limited by injuries and health issues in his 6 years in the majors. Despite making some big plays in the 2008 postseason, the Devil Rays released him. Just two seasons ago, he was their leadoff hitter. I hope Baldelli can earn the role of Right Fielder for the Sox. He's a local kid, from Woonsocket, Rhode Island. With Jason Bay in left, Jacoby Ellsbury in center, and Rocco Baldelli in Right, the Red Sox would have a solid outfield with plenty of hitting potential. Add J.D. Drew, and you have the ability to give Ellsbury and Baldelli breaks if they are sore or go on a hitless streak (especially true for Ellsbury, who needs to further develop his concentration and swing).

Just for the record, my current dream outfield is Jason Bay, Shane Victorino, and Carlos Quentin. But I think Bay-Ellsbury-Baldelli is pretty damn good.

Leadoff Hitting / Baserunning

So who will be the leadoff hitter for the Red Sox? In my opinion, there are three candidates - Pedrioia, Baldelli, and Ellsbury. But the odds are that Ellsbury will be that guy, and he will be fighting for that top spot. I should point out that all three players mentioned have base-stealing speed, as the ideal leadoff man should. Last season, Pedroia stole 20 bases for the first time in his career (and he did it in 21 attempts!). Rocco Baldelli stole 27 bases in his rookie year (2003). And Ellsbury was the first Boston player to steal 50 bases in 35 years. He is the best hope in generations to break Tommy Harper's 1973 record of 54 steals.

Under the National League management style of Terry Francona, the Red Sox steal bases more than ever before. Ellsbury and Pedroia can be the fast runners at the top of the order, and Baldelli and Lugo can be the fast guys towards the bottom. I still see some Red Sox fans hoping for an all-star year from Julio Lugo. I never thought too highly of him, except that I liked him a lot better than Alex Cora. Maybe we can all agree that the 2009 Red Sox have the potential of being the fastest ever, despite losing the speedy Coco Crisp.

And that's my brief analysis of the current Red Sox 40-man roster. There are just under 7 weeks until Opening Day.

Random Sports Roundup


NFL: In the NFC Central, the Steelers won an odd Sunday, at home, under flurries, in a close game against the Chargers. Meanwhile the Baltimore Ravens were run-over by the New Jersey Giants. This makes the December 15th game between the Steelers and Ravens even more important. If I was employed, I'd go see it. I kinda like the Ravens. They have a literary name, a European-style crest, good fans (better than New Jersey or Philly fans, anyway), and a damn good coach and rush defense (except this past Sunday).

Red Sox 1: The Sox are apparently shopping Julio Lugo. If they get anything for him, that would be great. Take what you get and strengthen him in Pawtucket. Lugo was never a power hitter, but he used to be a good infielder. But even last year, that fell apart as he made 16 errors in his position (SS). Just stating the obvious - the Red Sox eventually need a star shortstop. They have had 6 different guys in that position since 2004. I like Kahalil Greene, who has 1 year left on his Padres contract. But ideally, they need a golden-glove candidate under the age of 30 in that spot. They need stability at Short, and so they need to scout/shop around.

Red Sox 2: Moot point department - The Red Sox front office sent Manny Ramirez a letter on July 25th, informing him that he was to be suspended for skipping-out of two consecutive games. Manny phoned-in and told them that he would play the next game (which he did). He was traded a week later to the Dodgers, led by Frank McCourt, Ned Colletti, and Joe Torre. Also, while Terry Francona has a reputation of taking care of clubhouse problems, there's no evidence that he sat Manny down for a talk regarding his insubordination. So what was the point of this story?

Red Sox 3: While the Red Sox need to find a star shortstop, they have an pretty good 3rd baseman in Kevin Youkilis, a Golden Glove 2nd baseman in Dustin Pedroia, and possibly an opening at 1st. That spot would go to Mark Teixeira, should the Red Sox pursue him. And if they pursue him, they would potentially have the highest bid, since the Yankees have opted to go after 1st baseman / outfielder Nick Swisher (who has been signed) and Indians starting pitcher CC Sabathia (who is contemplating the Yankees unspecified offer).
Red Sox 4: And Dustin Pedroia has been named 2008 American League MVP! The Sox fans weren't joking when they started chanting 'MVP!' in July. They called it. Kevin Youkilis came in 3rd in the MVP voting, while Chicago White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin came in 5th.
*Personal gaming footnote - in my 'alternate universe' season of MLB Power Pros 2007, I traded Laynce Nix to the Rangers for rookie Carlos Quentin. It was the only trade I completed that fantasy season, and it was a winner. Blind luck on my part.

Score a ton, shut the door, take a ride, Yuvraj.

Cricket: I think Yuvraj Singh made his international debut 8 years ago, when he was 18. He got my attention in July 2002 when he scored 69 crucial runs in the middle of India's batting order against England in an unforgettable 1-day match at Lord's. He is 26 now, and he's maturing as a star left-handed all-rounder. On Monday, he batted and bowled magnificently against England in Game 2 of a 7-game series in India. He batted 5th in India's order and scored 118 runs off of 122 balls (India's top scorer of the day). And as a bowler, he was even more impressive, going 4-28 (taking 4 wickets in 10 overs -that's 60 balls- and giving-up 28 runs). England probably won't win this series, but they did see a promising performance from 22 year-old fast bowler Stuart Broad, who also took 4 wickets. He was a hero in their triumphs over South Africa this past summer, and it looks like he has a very bright future. England have two test matches against India in December before touring the West Indies in February/March 2009.

Win Number Six

The Red Sox got a relatively smooth win in Game 6. Coco Crisp, Kevin Youkilis, and Jason Varitek were the heroes for the offense, while Beckett and Masterson got the outs they needed on the mound. The Devil Rays are not choking. But they must be feeling the pressure now. The Sox are favorites to win Game 7. The key is that the Sox are more comfortable. But they need more heroes. Who will it be? Dustin? Ellsbury as a pinch hitter? They need more guys to score tonight.

Make it happen. Stay loose. Have fun. Play ball!

ALCS Game 6
Red Sox 4, Devil Rays 2











































Win Number Five


The Red Sox were dead last night at 9:30pm, looking at a 7 run deficit in the 7th inning. And after I and others gave-up on them, the incredible happened. The bats woke-up. David Ortiz hit a 3-run homer to right. Coco Crisp battled in an epic 10-pitch at-bat that eventually drove home the tying run. And JD Drew drove home Kevin Youkilis home in the bottom of the 9th. It was the largest single game postseason comeback in 79 years. Incredible. And I wasn't the only Red Sox fan who missed it.

The Red Sox, amazingly, are now 15-3 in their last 18 must-win postseason games, dating back to the ALDS against Cleveland in 1998.

This team continues to amaze me, especially when I expect them to quietly die.

Rays starter, 'Big Game' James Shields, finally has his first big game Saturday. Let's see if he can stand his ground and hold the line.

And Josh Beckett has a third chance to have a great postseason start this year. You think he's pissed? Let's see how pissed Josh Beckett performs under pressure.

The greatest baseball game I have ever seen with my own eyes is Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. It was the sleeper game in that amazing series. People remember Ortiz' walk-off hits in games 4 and 5. But Game 6 was where the baseball gods intervened, and the 'curse' was reversed. The Sox had to win or go home for the third straight time, and it was a very weird game. Kurt Schilling pitched his greatest game, going 7 scoreless innings on his injured (and oddly sutured) ankle tendon. Calls got reversed. A-Rod showed Yankee fans why he will never win a ring in pinstripes. NYPD stormtroopers lined the foul lines. Mark Bellhorn and Saturn Balls were bonus heroes. And Keith Foulke struck out Tony Clark to end the bottom of the 9th after walking Matsui and Ruben Sierra. It was one of the greatest Red Sox games ever in front of 56,000 stunned Yankee Fans.

And from what I understand, last night's game was also one of the greatest Sox games ever. And we will see a Game 6 in this series. Anything can happen. It's all hands on deck for Terry Francona and the Sox. I can't bear to watch.

ALCS Game 5
Devil Rays 7, Red Sox 8








































See You In February


What a way to end a season. Three straight losses in Fenway. The Boston Massacre III (or is it IV?).

A curve ball to Carlos Peña on a 0-2 count?

Varitek is officially terrible behind the plate. I do hope he is sent to the Nationals.

Their offense was dead. Ortiz, Lowell, and Ellsbury were unable to produce anything. They had to rely on 4 batters out of 9 to get anything on the board.

Their bullpen was weak. Masterson was actually good, but he was relied upon too much when the Sox needed 1 or 2 more reliable middle relievers. Javier Lopez is not a strong lefty and we know what happened with him. Manny Delcarmen still has promise, but not this year. Hideki Okajima no longer fools anyone with his left arm. And there was no one else used in the pen, right?

And they totally blew Game 2. Or to be more specific, they blew Game 2 when Francona put Josh Beckett on the mound of the bottom of the 5th inning with a fragile, yet hard-earned 2-run lead.

And so they had their asses kicked royally by the Devil Rays in games 3-5. I have not seen a team hit so many home runs against the contemporary (Henry-Epstein) Red Sox in a postseason series. There have been 11 home runs and counting in these three final games at Fenway.

Eleven.

Winter is here. Enjoy it. See you in Fort Myers, Sox.

And no, I do not want the Phillies to win the World Series. Being a mild Mets supporter, and not liking most Philly fans, I can't root for them. So us Mets fans should hope Tampa can take them the way they dismantled the White Sox and Red Sox.

Ugh.

I Know The Feeling

mrcleanwell at Sons of Sam Horn:

fuck my life. im on the 23 floor of the dubois library and the fire alarm is going off...tonight fucking sucks cock
Well, to be specific, I don't know the feeling of watching the Sox collapse in the playoffs while in the U Mass library. Back in 1991, the Sox were at the bottom of the AL East, along with the Yankees (1991 was the worst season for the Yankees in the post-Ruth era). We had Digital UNIX terminals on the 23rd floor, and message boards. So some shit doesn't change. But I know the feeling. But this is not 1986 or 2003. This is not so bad. And there will be improvements next year...