Monday, October 31, 2005

Now that practice is over

I can't decide if yesterday's win was a good thing or a bad thing. They almost seemed emotionally drained from Bruschi's return, rather than energized. I guess almost two weeks of questions about Teddy can be wearing, but you would still like to think they would be excited by having a playmaker in the middle again.

The Patriots did not show up to play for three quarters, yet turned it on enough to win in the end. There was almost no scoring done in the first half, the only 3 points on the board was a 23 yard field goal by Lindell. With 7 seconds left, Vinatieri missed on his second attempt at a 44 yard field goal. He made the first, but it was nullified by a delay of game penalty.

The Pats were the better team last night, but their defense was fairly horrid. McGahee had 136 yards on 31 carries, and he always seemed to be in the secondary. Kelly Holcomb, the eternal backup, went 20/33 for 263 yards, with 1 td and 1 interception. Moulds had 9 receptions (and didn't it seem like he had more than that?) for 125 yards. Both teams had 2 turnovers. Hopefully, Seymour will be back to anchor the line again next week.

They have their biggest game of the season next week against the undefeated Colts and I'm not sure who's going to come out and play. Will it be the team that finished off the Bills in the fourth quarter? Or will it be the team that looked like it was sleep walking because of the time change?

Speaking of which, whoever scheduled the Pats game as a night game to follow daylight savings should be shot. I'm exhausted.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Theo's contract is up tomorrow

Will he or won't he. That's the big question for Red Sox Nation today. With Theo's contract running out tomorrow at midnight (and what kind of Halloween is that?), Boston Globe reporter, Dan Shaugnessy has come out with the belief that Theo will put aside his differences with Larry and sign up for a few more years.

Personally, I think too much is being said about Theo's apprenticeship to Larry and their relationship. I think Theo is just doing exactly what he's been trained to do. Holding out for the best deal just makes sense these days in sports. And who can blame them?

Mind you, there have been some cases ("My family needs to eat") of athletes who have tried to make a bigger case that have gone overboard. It makes a lot more sense when the athlete (or in this case, GM) come out with the honest truth. Say it like it is, and add in a little bit of kindness to the fans. It's not that hard.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Are you ready for some football?

Here we are after the bye week and the patriots are getting ready to face the Bills. Not exactly big competition, but they are still a pro team in our league, so... Let's take a look at what they've got.

Whether it's Kelly Holcomb or former starter J.P. Losman at quarterback, the Bills have completed just four passes of 20 yards or longer - and only one on the road.

Poor pass protection, a banged-up offensive line and overthrown passes have limited what the Bills can do.

Or at least that's what the story on the Bills has been posted as everywhere. What's not being pointed out is Kelly Holcomb's 95.2 QB rating, or McGahee's 4.2 average rushing. Or perhaps you'd be interested to know that the Bills have 9 Interceptions already. I know the Pats are 8 point favorites, but if you overlook the Bills, they'll run you over.

Of course, that's not the big story this weekend. Patriots fans are excited to see Bruschi back in uniform once again. Although we've all been nervous about what his decision should be, Teddy has been a fan favorite for years now. We were excited to see him in the probowl last year, and I for one am looking forward to seeing him there again this year.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

It sounds like Theo will be leaving

I'm pretty shocked. I thought they would be making a deal, but the news stories 'leaking' to the press are starting to sound more and more like when Nomar left. The stories about how he wants more, how he rejected a good offer, etc... Without saying anything bad about Theo, the Sox have been 'hinting' that it's not going to be their fault if he leaves.

According to stories in the Globe, Theo has rejected a three year, 1.2 million a year contract. The sticking point is how much control Theo has over baseballl operations. Apparently, he's tired of having Larry looking over his shoulder.

Either way, an announcement about a decision is expected out of the front office about Theo's future here in Boston in the next couple of days. But then, we've been expecting some decision to be made for weeks, even months before now. But this time there is a real time limit. Theo's contract runs out on the 31st.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

NFL Week 8

Make your picks based on the lines shown. Favorite to the left, then line, then underdog. Home team is capitalized and remember it's all in fun. So, make your picks and do your best.

Sunday, Oct. 30
N.Y. GIANTS 2 Washington 42
CINCINNATI 9 Green Bay 46
DETROIT 3 Chicago 32.5
CAROLINA 8 Minnesota 44.5
DALLAS 9 Arizona 40.5
HOUSTON 2 Cleveland 37.5
NEW ORLEANS 2 Miami 41
ST. LOUIS 2 Jacksonville N/L
SAN DIEGO 6 Kansas City 50
Tampa Bay 11 SAN FRANCISCO 36
Philadelphia 42.5
NEW ENGLAND 9 Buffalo 44
Monday, Oct. 31
PITTSBURGH 9.5 Baltimore 33

Week 7 results can be found here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Paul Konerko to Boston

The talk in Boston today is all about Konerko becoming a free agent this off season. Now it's been reported that Paul is not interested in coming to the East Coast, but just the thought was enough to get me excited. Imagine 3-4-5 being Ortiz, Manny, and Paul. Wow. Think of the power in there.

Konerko's numbers:
1997LA6701001200 .250 .143 .143
1998LA-CIN752172147729164001 .276 .332 .217
1999CHW142513711512481456810 .352 .511 .294
2000CHW143524841562197477210 .363 .481 .298
2001CHW156582921643299548910 .349 .507 .282
2002CHW1515708117327104447200 .359 .498 .304
2003CHW137444491041865435000 .305 .399 .234
2004CHW15556384156411176910710 .359 .535 .277
2005CHW15857598163401008110900 .375 .534 .283
TOTAL 11233995580111521069240060941 .349 .488 .279

And that was with Chicago. Imagine what his numbers would look like here. Imagine this year's numbers with a true 5 hitter.

Konerko would also fill in the gaping hole at first. Of course, the other possibility would be Manny finally getting his wish and leaving the Red Sox. In that case, Konerko would fill Manny's shoes in the line-up.

Mind, this wouldn't fix what's really wrong with the Boston Red Sox. If they don't get some better pitching, it really won't matter who they pick up in the free agent market this year.

Congratulations on finding a gazoo.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Some changes around here

I just wanted to note some changes around my site. First, I've added categories! Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't do this. I REALLY can't understand why they don't do it, but they don't. So I had to do it manually. The categories are listed on the left, and I've tried to keep it short, so you will find the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. You can also find a link to a feed on the latest scores and sporting news. But in order to keep it short I had to take some shortcuts. For instance, if I post on anything related to baseball it will end up under Red Sox. And since I have to do it manually, I haven't gotten around to categorizing anything before Oct 1, yet. I hope to do that soon.

Second big change is the Read More at the end of each post. If I think the post has gotten too long, I will put the rest under the "Read More" link. This will bring you to the permalink. I like to think this is helpful for those who aren't interested in any particular story, the can skim it and move on to the next story instead. I'd like to thank techwench who posted a how-to over at the Blogadvance forums. Unfortunately, whether there's more to the story or not the Read More link will appear. But I assume if you're that interested, you will click on it anyways to make a comment.

Next is that I am a keep of Gazoos! What's a gazoo? Head on over to blogazoo to find out!

The kind folks over at blogexplosion have now implemented a way to rent my blog! You can see that over on the left as well. It's a fun way to find other sites of interest.

By the way, if you are looking to show off your site and read others as well, take a look here. I have my preferences, but you should try them out and see what they have to offer. They each have their advantages.

Other changes:
You may have noticed that I am now keeping track of the Bruins standings on the right. I put the date on top so you know if it's not up to date.

Last thing: I am trying to tag my posts for technorati, so you may notice the links at the bottom of each post. If you click on them they will take you to the categories page as well, but it also lets technorati & others know what I've been talking about.

, , ,

There's no more to read, but there are comments to make. Take a moment to let me know what you think of the changes.

New third base coach

That's right, the Sox have hired Hale as their new third base coach. We can finally go back to forgettin what the third base coach's name is.

Hale has been in Boston before. He started out in 1992 and ended his Sox tenure in 199 coaching AA Trenton for the Sox in 1999. He left Boston when he was passed over for a promotion to coach AAA. Francona and Hale worked together in 2002 in Texas, when Francona served as manager Jerry Narron's bench coach and Hale coached first.

With Hale at third base and former bullpen coach Bill Haselman expected to be moved to first, the Sox will have two new base coaches next season.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Dead teams in fantasy games

Dead teams in fantasy sports are such a pain. In my yahoo league (of which I am the commissioner) there is a team that went dead. The coach was contacted and he had believed his team had been removed (by his choice) before the season had started. And now that he has been informed that his team is still live, he still isn't interested. So what do you do?

1) You can kill his team by waiving all the players. Not a good choice, as it just gives a bye week (easy win) for anyone playing against him. And this team isn't that bad. (He's currently 4-2). So if we drop his team the teams who lost would be unfairly influenced by a team that everyone else gets an automatic win against.

2) Change his players (I can change his line-up) week to week as if he was playing. But if I start changing his team week to week now, again, I'm changing things in the future that the teams who played against him the first six weeks can't do.

3) This is an sub-option of 2). Go back and put in the best line-up each of the first six weeks as well. Well, don't we all wish we could take the guy off the bench who did the best. But would that be fair?

What would you do?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Some recent news out of Sox country (or non-news in one case).

Theo Epstein still hasn't been signed. Contract negotiations are still continuing, although the Red Sox put out three different statements (one from Theo) about Dale Sveum leaving.

The Dallas Morning News reported the Red Sox have received permission to talk to Texas coach DeMarlo Hale, a former manager in their minor-league system, about their third-base coaching position.

Trot Nixon underwent successful surgery to repair an injured left knee. Nixon is expected to resume his offseason conditioning program in less than a month.

More construction is being done on Fenway (picture right). There will be two separate areas. The first is the EMC club, which will consist of 406 open-air seats directly behind home plate, in essentially the same spot where the .406 Club seats were located.

There also will be a pavilion level of roughly 400 open-air club seats above the EMC club. Through the work of the corporate department of the Red Sox, most of those 800 seats behind home plate have already, in Lucchino's words, "been spoken for."

David Wells is requesting a trade to the West Coast.

Manny wants to go to Anaheim, not the Mets.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

NFL Week 7

Make your picks based on the lines shown. Favorite to the left, then line, then underdog. Home team is capitalized and remember it's all in fun. So, make your picks and do your best.

Sunday, Oct. 23
ST. LOUIS 3 New Orleans 47
Green Bay MINNESOTA 44
Indianapolis 15 HOUSTON 45
CINCINNATI pk Pittsburgh 43
MIAMI 2 Kansas City 41
CLEVELAND 3 Detroit 34½
WASHINGTON 13 San Francisco 36½
SEATTLE 3 Dallas 46½
OAKLAND 3 Buffalo 40
CHICAGO 1 Baltimore 30½
ARIZONA 3 Tennessee 46
N.Y. GIANTS Denver 46½
Monday, Oct. 24
ATLANTA 7 N.Y. Jets 40

Week 6 results can be found here.

Patriots resign 2, IR 1, release 1

The New England Patriots re-signed wide receiver Andre' Davis and defensive back Hank Poteat today. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed. The team also announced that safety Guss Scott has been placed on the reserve / injured list with a knee injury and that linebacker Wesly Mallard has been released.

Davis, 26, was re-signed after being initially acquired by the Patriots in a trade with the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 22, 2005. He was listed among New England's day-of-game inactive players for each of the first three games this season before being released on Sept. 28. Davis is in his fourth NFL season and was originally selected by the Browns in the second round (47th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. In three seasons in Cleveland, the 6-foot-1-inch, 195-pound receiver started 19 of 39 games and made 93 receptions for 1,412 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Poteat, 28, was re-signed after being initially acquired by the Patriots as a free agent on Jan. 10, 2005. The 5-foot-10-inch, 192-pound cornerback participated in three playoff games for New England last season and recorded three solo tackles. In his career, Poteat has played in 42 regular-season games for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2000-02) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2003), recording nine solo tackles, three fumble recoveries and 31 special teams tackles. He has also returned 45 kickoffs for 818 yards (18.2 avg) and 76 punts for 788 yards (10.4 avg) and a touchdown. In the playoffs, Poteat has played in five career games with one start for Pittsburgh (2002) and New England (2004). The University of Pittsburgh product was originally drafted by the Steelers in the third round (77th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft.

Scott, 23, was originally drafted by the Patriots in the third round (95th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft. The 5-foot-10-inch, 205-pound safety played in five games with two starts for the Patriots this season, recording 19 tackles (16 solo) and five special teams tackles. The University of Florida product was placed on injured reserve on Aug. 30, 2004, and missed his rookie campaign due to injury.

Mallard, 26, was signed by the Patriots as a veteran free agent on April 19, 2005. He has played in three games for New England in 2005. Mallard participated in the first two games of the season and recorded three special teams tackles (2 solo) before being released on Sept. 27. He was re-signed on Oct. 12, and played in last week's game against Denver and did not record any statistics. The 6-foot-1-inch, 230-pound linebacker and special teams player has appeared in 36 career games and is in his fourth NFL season. Mallard spent the first three years of his career (2002-04) with the New York Giants, who selected him in the sixth round (188th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft out of Oregon. Mallard's career totals include four defensive tackles (3 solo) and 37 special teams tackles.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Celtics on the NBA dress code

In case you were wondering how your Celtics were reacting to the dress code being instituted by the NBA...

"I mean, it's cool," Ricky Davis said. "It's not real harsh. It just changes the image a little. Guys just got to grow up I guess. They're just trying to exclude some things. It's simple to me. Guys need to go out and buy some clothes and start something new."

Added Paul Pierce, "You knew it was coming in. I've got a couple of suits in the closet I've got to dust off. Hey, they make the rules; you've got to abide by them."

"At the end of the day when we really talk about our image it's going to be how we act more than how we dress," coach said. "I think San Antonio's the classiest team in the NBA, and not because of what they wear. It's because of how they act. To me, that's what is going to make our league more professional. A sportcoat on the bench is not a big deal. Some guys are going to have to spend some money, but that's not a big deal. I think it's a good rule. I think it's not a bad thing that we're trying to dress like professionals. It doesn't bother me."

Some players across the league had different opinions: “"It sends a bad message to kids,"” Iverson told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week.

"I don'’t see it happening unless every NBA player is given a stipend to buy clothes," Denver center Marcus Camby.

"Maybe if you earn less than eight million dollars you'’ll get a scholarship from the commissioner," Stern joked Tuesday.

My question is, do they realise how stupid they sound? I mean, how hard is it to wear a suit to work? And it is work. They aren't telling them what to wear outside of work. Only when they are making appearances where they represent the NBA.

In other news:
The point guard competition in Boston just became a little clearer as Marcus Banks is expected to miss at least the next six weeks due to a stress reaction in his left shin.

For anyone from blogazoo who took the time, here's a Gazoo for you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It's official, Bruschi is back

As I mentioned previously, I hope that Bruschi made the right decision for himself and his family. And if the reports are true, then the medical people have all agreed that he is cleared to play.

A couple of notes on what the doctors are saying. Teddy will be at a higher risk for having another stroke than other players on the field, but not because he's playing football. He's just at a higher risk because he already had one. According to all the medical people, his surgery was a success in blocking a small hole between the two upper chambers of the heart.

The specialists said the hole can allow small blood clots that would otherwise be absorbed in the lungs to pass from one chamber of the heart to another and then travel to the brain. There, clots that would be innocuous elsewhere in the body can become wedged in narrow vessels, blocking blood flow to a portion of the brain and causing a stroke.

From Kevin, M.D. a medical weblog: He underwent percutaneous repair at Massachusetts General Hospital, either with a Amplatzer PFO occluder or CardioSEAL/STARFlex (picture below) - most likely the latter since this is the preferred PFO occluder used at MGH.

The device is folded into a special catheter, inserted in a vein, moved into the heart and through the hole. The device is slowly pushed out of the delivery catheter, allowing each umbrella to open up and cover each side of the hole and close it. When the device is in proper position, it is released. The delivery catheter is then removed. The device remains in the heart and serves to close the hole.

After that, the heart grows around the device, effectively sealing the hole.

From Bruschi's interview yesterday:
How lucky do you feel to be able to play again?
There were times in my mind when I thought I was done. I thought I was done at times. C'mon, I can'’t see, I can barely walk. How am I going to be able to play football again? I'm just being honest with you here. That'’s the way I felt. So to come from there, all the way to where I am now –- to looking forward to getting all of the doctors to tell me the same thing, to being able to resume my career, to do what I love, I'’m very excited. If I could express to you what this means to me, I would. But I don'’t know if I really can. I'm sorry.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Where were the Patriots?

This is not the team from last year. The defense was horrible yesterday afternoon in Denver. It was like a nightmare that kept being repeated. One big play followed by Denver punching it in shortly after was repeated 3 times. The Broncos drove down the field for 97, 91, 80 and 74 yards in each of their touchdown drives. And that was all she wrote for this miserable performance by the depleted secondary.

"We didn't give up 70-yard plays," was how coach Bill Belichick described the team's improvement in the third quarter. --

``We're lucky to be going to the bye week, because if we had to play next week, we'd be 3-4. That's just ridiculous to go out there and perform like that,'' linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said. ``Obviously, we have a lot of work to do. Those big plays are something we're not preventing right now. We have to play better, man.

``To give up 28 points in the first half, to just lay down, and to try and fight back in the end, we can't depend on Tom (Brady) to come back every week. We can't give up 28 points every week. We have to play defense. I don't even think we've held anyone to less than 20 points all year long. So we have to play better.'' -- boston herald -- In case you were wondering, the Patriots have not held anyone under 20 points this season.

The offense was just miserable as well. Except for the tail end of the third and most of the fourth quarter, the offense was nowhere to be seen (27:43 to 32:17 time of possession). Surprisingly, they almost tied it up (and I did believe they would do it, too). But they simply came up short in the end. How many passes were just dropped by the Patriots wide receivers (Brady was 24-46). Somebody put some stick-um on their hands.

Now I know what you're going to say. Injuries have finally caught up. The loss of Romeo and Weiss is having an effect. They have the worst starting schedule in NFL history. Etc... Well, those are all just excuses. And they didn't make those excuses last year. And I certainly hope I don't hear any such nonsense from the players this year.

BTW, next week is their bye. Hopefully, they improve their play and their outlook over the next two weeks.

''At 3-3, you're an average team," linebacker Mike Vrabel said. ''When you play good enough to win one and you get down, 28-3, the next, you're going to lose those games. You can't say, 'Well, we rallied back. We're an average football team." --boston globe

Friday, October 14, 2005

Should Bruschi come back?

The talk of the town for the past couple of days has been about two things. The first: what kind of call was that by the umpire the other night and the second: is Bruschi going to come back to play for the Pats?

Well, everyone has already talked to death about what the "mechanic" was and how the umpire screwed up. Locally, the bigger issue is should Teddy be allowed to play?

The Krafts have made it clear that it's up to Bruschi on whether or not he should be allowed to play, although I'm sure they will be worried about and doing all they can to cover themselves in liability. That's just a fact of today's world for businessmen and lawyers.

I'm sure his team would be pleased to see him. He was their captain and their best player. And he would be an upgrade to the injury depleted backfield.

He may have been underrated nationally, but locally, he's a fan favorite who should have been elected to the Pro Bowl more often. The fans would love to see him in uniform once again.

But the real question is, would his wife and family? On the morning of his stroke, it's been reported that one of the first indications that something was wrong was when his kid came into the room and he could not see him. Now I know that Bruschi is a competitor, and is itching to get back into the game. But that sort of thing is a strong indicator that it may be time to slow down and enjoy what you have.

Should Bruschi come back? That's up to him and his family to decide. I hope they make the right decision.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A bye?

An interesting thought (not mine) was put out there on the radio (WEEI) last night. If the Pats lose this week, they may not get a bye week. It's way too early to be worrying about whether or not they'll have a bye week. It is only week 6, after all. But still, we can think about these sorts of things.

If the Pats lose this week to Denver (at Denver), they will have 3 losses. Now, if we suppose the best teams in the AFC will end up with a 13-3 record (certainly a possibility given Pittsburgh and Indy's schedules), the Pats will have to run the table from this point on just to tie with them. Now, obviously Pitt and Indy (or Jax or Cin, or whoever) could go 14-2 which would eliminate any chances of getting a bye.

But if the other teams only go 13-3, what about the tie-breakers? The Pats will have lost to 2 AFC teams if they lose this weekend. Now, the Pats have beaten Pitt (head2head is the first tie-breaker), but they don't go up against Cin or Jax. They do play Indy, but my guess is that Indy will end with a 14-2 record. If Indy does end up with a 13-3 record, our supposition was the Pats would run the table from this point on which means they would take the tie-breaker. But Denver, if they win this weekend, would beat them in the same tie-breaker.

Just thinking about all of the possibilities at this point is hurting my brain. As I said, it's too early to worry about these scenarios, but it is interesting to think about them.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

NFL Week 6

It's all in fun. Make your picks and try to beat me out for the week. I'm keeping track, so give me some indication of who you are. Come back next week and do it again! Favorites are to the left, Home team is capitalized. Spread is in the middle.

Sunday, Oct. 16
DALLAS 3 N.Y. Giants 47
DETROIT 1 Carolina 42
Atlanta 4.5 NEW ORLEANS 42.5
CHICAGO 3 Minnesota 37
KANSAS CITY 5.5 Washington 43
Cincinnati 3 TENNESSEE 45
Jacksonville NL
BALTIMORE 5.5 Cleveland 34
TAMPA BAY 4.5 Miami 33.5
DENVER 3 New England 47
BUFFALO 3 N.Y. Jets 33
San Diego 2 OAKLAND 50.5
SEATTLE 9.5 Houston 46
Monday, Oct. 17

View the results for Week 5 here.

Did you know that hockey has started?

Do you care?

The Boston Bruins are already having issues with injuries. Joe Thornton was out with back spasms. Also out for rest: Bergeron, Green, Sergei Samsonov, and defensemen Ian Moran and Jiri Slegr.

From the Boston Globe:
''It was more of an optional," said Sullivan. ''We had guys who played a lot of minutes, we had guys who are nicked up, and it was an opportunity to give guys a chance to get rested if that's what they felt was appropriate for their bodies. Other guys got to skate and we got the goalies some work." He pretty much had to talk Bergeron out of suiting up. ''He's the type of guy where we have to tell him to stay off the ice," said the coach. ''He loves hockey and he wants to be out there and wants to get better. But he's a particular guy who has played a lot of minutes throughout the whole course of training camp [and the first four games]. It was an opportunity to get him a little bit of rest." . . . Scatchard, almost fully recovered from a groin injury, skated hard with his teammates for the second straight day and is on track for tomorrow. ''He said he feels great," said Sullivan. ''He felt pretty good after [Monday's skate] and we'll see how he responds again today, but we're optimistic."

The Bruins are 2-2-0 with 4 points so far.

BTW, The Celtics had their first exhibition game last night (loss 96-86 to Cleveland).

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

No pizazz here

''This is a team that believes a lot in itself, you know, even if other people don't," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ''You have to give all the credit in the world to the players, to come down here and beat a good football team.

''Every game is important, every win is important. I don't rank them, but it's certainly a good one."

Does this sound like a winning team? Does it sound like the Superbowl champs? No, but it does sound like Belichick being Belichick. This is the same speech he would give after every win if he could. No chest bashing, no egotism, no... pizazz. Nor will he allow his team to be egotistical, either.

''We've had doubters for a long time," Brady said. ''Like I said earlier in the week, you can keep betting against us, that's fine by us. We're just going to keep trying to go out and do the same things every week -- play hard, play tough, and play physical.

''Today was a better example of that. I think it showed some of the resiliency of the team. The guys really fought hard for this one, and we needed to fight hard because we were playing one of the best teams in the league."

It's amazing to me how Belichick can still sell his team on having "doubters". Does anyone out there really doubt this team is good? That they have a yearly shot at winning it all?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Who will be back?

Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, Tony Graffanino, Kevin Millar, Mike Timlin, John Olerud and Matt Mantei are all up for new contracts this off season, so let's take a look at who will be back, who should be back and who will be overpaid additions to the Mets... I mean off to free agency.

When you look at the starting rotation, the club has Schilling, Clement, Wells, Wakefield, Arroyo, and Papelbon. Unfortunately, Arroyo will be 29, Clement 31, Schilling 39, Wakefield 39, and Wells 42. Theo is already talking about Jon Lester (down in AA) making an impact next year. Don't forget about Wade Miller who, even if the Sox do make a deal with him (which I don't), isn't expected to be ready for spring training after surgery this year. Lenny DiNardo and Abe Alvarez are also expected to compete for starting spots (although DiNardo with his September performance has a much better chance). Wells is set for off season surgery and may either retire or request a trade back to the West Coast.

The Sox need to make a decision about Timlin and Foulke. Expect a lot of trade rumors to be floated with Foulke in mind, but with this year's performance, off season surgery, and a large contract, don't expect him to be traded. Timlin's age may become a factor in any negotiations. I expect his future here depends a great deal on who else the Sox look at in the off season. Also, expect Craig Hansen, 21, and Manny Delcarmen, 23 to become major parts of next year's bullpen.

Hopefully, whatever hold Millar has on Francona will lapse and he will be gone. The experiment is dead. I expect the Sox to make a play for Olerud, but probably won't get it done (would you want to sign with a club that had you play back up to Millar even though you were the better player, injury and all?).

Despite Graffanino's performance, error, and forgiveness (that double in the 9th really made up for it in the fan's mind, if not the beat writers), he probably won't be back. He'll lose out to Alex Cora, who is under contract for next year. But Cora's just a place holder until Dustin Pedroia is ready.

Renteria is the shortstop for the foreseeable future, although I'm still puzzled by his long term, big money contract last year. The Red Sox seem to have Hanley Ramirez on the brain, and haven't traded him away yet. So I'm left scratching my head on this one. I would expect they hoped to trade Renteria in the near future, maybe after one more year, while getting Ramirez some more playing time when they can.

Expect Kevin Youkilis to take Mueller's place at third. At 35, and with his contract up, it looks like Bill's going to lose this one.

Manny's time with the Red Sox is at hand as well (no more will we hear Manny being Manny). After requesting a trade every year for the past three years, Manny's tenure as the league leading offensive power for the Red Sox is up. Ortiz' numbers will probably suffer as a result, but Theo is just salivating at the prospect of having Ramirez's contract money to play with. Johnny Damon's time with the Red Sox is also up. I expect the Red Sox to make a play for him (unless they are more concerned with an injury than they let on), but they will be out bid just as they were last year with Pedro. So, say good-bye to the long haired WWJD fan shots at fenway.

So, after reviewing all of the positions, it looks like the Sox are going to get younger (read: less experienced) next year, with less power (read: who's going to replace Manny?) in the field. And unless the free agent market opens up some more, their bullpen woes are going to continue. Their starting pitching is getting older and younger at the same time, which is going to lead to all sorts of trouble. Hopefully, the older starters will start passing on all that experience to the young pups and quickly. Otherwise, you can expect a quick exit from the playoffs next year, too.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

So much for the wind

What bothers me most is the thought the White Sox were just better than the Red Sox. They had better pitching, more clutch hitting, and better defense. But at the same time, it wasn't like they were that much better. Take my list from a few days ago:

1) Pick any one starting pitcher and turn him into "Josh Beckett" from a few years ago.
5) the 5,6,7 and 8 hitters will pick up the slack they've been dropping lately.

If either 1 or 5 was true, the Sox on Sox series would still be going on. If Clement had been able to pitch better that first day (or Wells, or Wakefield), the Sox offense (i.e. Manny and Ortiz) would have made up the difference. But the truth is the pitching wasn't good enough. But at the same time, neither were the 5,6,7,8 hitters. In the last two games, they went 4/31, which just wasn't good enough.

But I think the bullpen did well enough (Is anyone not impressed by Papelbon?). Timlin did fine (not great, but who expected him to be?). Manny and Ortiz surely did their part (despite all the complaints about Manny's hustle).

So was it a successfull season? I don't think so. They may not have been talented enough to win it all, but they were too good to be swept in the ALDS. Before the playoffs started, I would have said it was a success if they made it into the ALCS. After the second game, I would have said it was a success if they had made it to a fifth game. But losing in three just doesn't cut it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The wind

The wind is blowing straight out to centerfield, which is good news for Wakefield. If the wind continues to come in this direction, his knuckle ball will move more. And of course, it's good news for the Red Sox batters. Things are looking good.

Wells is ready for Game 5

It's official, Clement is in the bullpen for game 3 and Wells is ready for Game 5 (if necessary). ''For me, three days, if I was younger, yeah, I wouldn't have a problem," said the 42-year-old Wells, who is the oldest Red Sox pitcher to start a postseason game. ''Now that I'm older, three days would be tougher. I don't think you're as strong."

A side note on Jenks' performance the other night: ''Something we saw out of him last night, which I don't think we knew, and I noticed it from second, is his ball was cutting a little bit," Graffanino said. ''Which at 97 miles per hour isn't fair. That's [Mariano] Rivera-ish. We know the success Mariano's had."

As for today's game, Wakefield is talking about what it means and how the team has prepared for it. ``Being in the postseason with this team, being in the situation before, I think everybody in the clubhouse knows how we have to play (today),'' Wakefield said. ``I think everybody's ready. I know I am. I'm going to go out there (today) and do the best that I can. Playing them during the regular season, they've hit the ball very well against us, we just have to stay aggressive.''

``You know, he's been so outstanding for us this year,'' manager Terry Francona said. ``We got put in a little bit of a bind last week. We had to (have him) come back on a short rest, and it didn't work out real well. We fully expect that to change.''

links to stories:
From the Herald
From the Globe

Thursday, October 06, 2005

White on Red

If I had written a post yesterday, I would have talked about how the Red Sox don't have to worry too much. At the end of the game, they were down 1 game. It really doesn't matter how much you lose by, it only matters that you lost.

Today is a little different. Today they are two games behind. A haunting error at second followed up by a meatball and bam, they fall behind. Iguchi is now indelibly linked with Matsui, the Sox killer, in my mind. But that wasn't the whole story of how they lost yesterday. It was followed up by a frenzied effort to drive in runs, just to fall short. The Red Sox looked tense from that point on. Unlike last year, when the tougher it got, the more the Red Sox relaxed, they seemed to tense up and began to swing at anything near the plate.

Despite the two losses, however, this series should go to a fifth game. This team does know how to relax. They certainly have a history of coming back from behind. And with a record of 54-27 at home, they have a huge advantage in the next two games (just as being at home has been a huge advantage for the White Sox).

And so today I'm wondering who is going to pitch in Game 5. (I'm not on the team, so I can look ahead). Will Arroyo come out of the bullpen and make something happen? Will Saturday's game be rained out, allowing Wells a chance at pitching on a full rest (backed up by Arroyo). Or will Tito stick with his guy, show some loyalty to one player at the expense of the team, and pitch Clement again?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

NFL Week 5

Get your picks in for week 5. As usual, post your picks (against the line) in the comments section. You can post anonymously, but if you want me to keep track, please give me some hint as to who you are.

Favorites to the left, underdog to the right. Spread is in the middle. Home teams are capitalized. Please, when making your picks, list them in the order shown and use the 3 letter codes. It just makes my life easier.

Sunday, Oct. 9
CLEVELAND 3 Chicago 35
GREEN BAY 3 New Orleans 41½
Tampa Bay N.Y. JETS 31½
ST. LOUIS 3 Seattle 50
ATLANTA 3 New England 43½
BUFFALO 3 Miami 33½
DETROIT 1 Baltimore 33
HOUSTON 3 Tennessee 40½
Indianapolis 14 SAN FRANCISCO 47
Carolina ARIZONA 42½
Philadelphia 3 DALLAS 45
DENVER Washington 34
JACKSONVILLE 3 Cincinnati 37
Monday, Oct. 10
SAN DIEGO 3 Pittsburgh 44½

View the results for week 4 here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

If you had a magic wand?

The WEEI idiots were talking this morning about "If you had a magic wand, and you could make any one of the following 5 true (but only 1!) for the series against the Angels, what would you pick?

1) Pick any one starting pitcher and turn him into "Josh Beckett" from a few years ago.
2) Take Timlin and turn him into a great closer.
3) Renteria will not make any errors at all.
4) Papi and Manny will be lights out hitting.
5) the 5,6,7 and 8 hitters will pick up the slack they've been dropping lately.

What would you pick (let me know in the comments!)?

If I had that magic wand, I would make 2 happen. Our starting rotation can keep them in games, and Anaheims' pitching doesn't scare me. But our bullpen does. If we could ensure Timlin was in perfect form to shut the door on any late inning come backs, I think we'll be all set.

By the way, the idiots picked 1) for Clement to pitch lights out. Their reasoning was fairly simple in that he may pitch twice in this series, and he's the only starter they feel is shaky (in the head).

Monday, October 03, 2005

Why the Patriots lost

Everyone is talking about how the injuries have finally caught up to the New England Patriots. Everyone talks about how the the coordinators have moved on. But that's not what I saw yesterday. What I saw was the defensive line getting beat.

It looked like it was part of the game plan. They weren't pressing Drew Brees like they did Big Ben last week and the reason behind that is LT. They were hanging back, waiting for what the Chargers were going to do, reacting instead of acting.

Since they weren't pressing Drew Brees, he had all day to get his passes off. Which led to a big day for Drew 19/24, 248 yards and 2 TDs. By trying to contain LT (which they weren't very successful at), they ended up relying on a depleted secondary, which had a hard time keeping the passing game down. Instead of making the Chargers defense work against their strenght (i.e. the defensive line), they let them charge ahead into what is their weakest unit right now, the secondary.

Maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe the Chargers were just the better team. Maybe they just took advantage of the injuries. But the 1-2 record the Chargers came into town with says differently.

They didn't back in.

By taking two of three from the Yankees this weekend, the Red Sox showed they belonged in the playoffs. By being swept by the White Sox, the Indians proved they didn't. Ortiz and Manny put on a show, with Ortiz getting the nod for American League Player of the Month for September. Ortiz should be the MVP, no doubt about it. The pitching was there except for Wakefield, who had a tough time on three days rest.

Despite articles on why you should have been rooting for the Indians over the Red Sox or the Yankees, I think it's pretty clear that the better teams won out. If you go 6 of 7 against the (AAA team of the)Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay in the last week of the season, you simply don't deserve the win.

I'd list this under things you need to worry about, not things to be proud of:
Mike Timlin faced the final two batters of the game to establish a new Sox record with 81 relief appearances. The previous mark of 80 was set by Greg Harris in 1993. ``As you get up in age, you're a little more prideful that you can keep up with the younger guys,'' Timlin, 39, said. ``And it's even better if you can set the pace for younger guys to keep up with you.'' Manager Terry Francona said he wanted Timlin, who stabilized the closer role when he took over in August, to have the opportunity to celebrate yesterday.

This is probably the most succint explanation I've seen of the whole playoff scenario that might have been:
Why didn't the Sox and Yankees, who finished this season with 95-67 records, have a one-game playoff to determine the division champion? Because Major League Baseball rules stipulate that in the event of a tie, regular-season head-to-head records determine the winner when both teams are assured of a playoff spot. But if the wild-card race is affected, a playoff game would have been necessary. Once Cleveland lost to the White Sox on Saturday, eliminating the possibility of a three-way tie, the Yankees were declared winners of the AL East on the basis of a better record against the Sox (10-9). Had there been a three-way tie, the Sox and Yankees would have had a one-game playoff in Yankee Stadium today, with the loser facing the Indians tomorrow.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Yesterday, I predicted

Yesterday, I predicted the game would be a slugfest. I said Wells would be out of the game by the 5th inning. And I had no faith in the bullpen. But I did predict they would win this first game. What a difference one day makes when it's the playoffs.

Of course, for today's game, I would predict it would be another low scoring game as it was when Wakefield and Johnson last faced each other in NY. I wonder what that means?