Friday, April 28, 2006

I'll pass

At this point, I should be throwing in my guesses as to who the Patriots are going to pick in the draft this weekend. But, as we all know, guessing what Pioli and Belichick are up to is just whistling in the dark (See the Boston Herald's draft board for Belichick and Pioli). They have no intention of letting out who they want or even making 'logical' choices. They tend to trade down in order to promote the future, but with so few first and second round picks, I'm not sure they'll be doing that this year.

Instead, they always go for who they think is the best on the board at any position, regardless of need. So, while I think I know what their needs are at each position, that doesn't help me predict who they're going to pick. So, I'm not going to pick a who, but a what.

My prediction is that they will not move up (significantly) in the draft. None of their needs is so pressing that they need to move up in that first round. Instead, I expect they will trade away some of their picks for next year (say a no 3 for a no 2 next year). That's why they have been so successful. They are always thinking about the future, not just the now.

In case you're wondering what their picks are: Round (selection): 1 (21), 2 (52), 3 (75), 3 (86), 4 (106), 4 (118), 5 (136), 6 (191), 6 (205), 6 (206), 7 (229).

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hansen gets to AAA

Good news for all those who are worried about the state of the Red Sox pitchers. Craig Hansen has been promoted to AAA-Pawtucket today. He's one step closer to making it to the bigs.

I hope Theo (who was in Pawtucket last night) got a good look at Lester. He should be capable of bringing more relief by the end of this season. But according to the Boston Globe, Theo was more interested in Corky Miller, who can catch the knuckleball.

Hansen promoted - Extra Bases -

The Red Sox today promoted relief pitcher Craig Hansen from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Pawtucket and sent reliever Charlie Zink from Pawtucket to Portland.

The 22-year-old Hansen has been dominant for the Sea Dogs, going 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in 5 games for Portland to begin his first full year in pro ball since being selected by the Red Sox in the first round of the 2005 draft.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Comparing the Reds ace against the Red Sox ace

Just for fun (and because Arroyo won again today), I'd like to compare the Reds ace pitcher, Bronson Arroyo to the Red Sox ace, Curt Schilling:

7Bronson ArroyoCin5 5 34.2 25 11 9 7 30 4 0 0 0 2.34
12Curt SchillingBos5 5 34.2 26 10 10 6 31 4 0 0 0 2.60

It's scary how close their numbers are, so far.

Arroyo gave up one hit today in 8 innings to help shut out the Washington Nationals.

Wondering why Schilling came out in the seventh?

Why bring out Schilling in the seventh? He wasn't pitching great last night, your bullpen was rested, his pitch count was already over 100. And most important, it's April. Why push a starter who spent most of last year on the DL.

Now I know that Curt has basically healed, and that he is a workhorse who prefers to pitch more, not less. But it is still April, with a long season to go.

Was it just to get that 5th win? Was Terry Francona thinking about that?

And in another questionable move, why bring Timlin in the middle of the inning with inherited runners? The Red Sox have to know by now that Timlin struggles with this situation. Why do it?

Yes, the ultimately won the game, but some questionable calls by Tito last night leave me scratching my head.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Nomar hits a grand slam

Nomar Garciappara hit a grand slam in the ninth inning to help the Los Angeles Red Sox win against Houston last night. And he did it against one of the best closers in the National League, Lidge. Since Derek Lowe was out after 7, Saito got the win.

"I just threw the barrel at it, tried to drive it," Garciaparra said. "Fortunately for me I got lucky and it went out for me."

"I threw him two fastballs I thought were pretty good," Lidge said, "and then I threw him the third one and he was right on it."

"Just get a ball I can drive and get it up in the air," Garciaparra said. "If you get the ball in the air, you get a guy in. If not, worse-case scenario, you've got a guy in Bill Mueller who will give you a good at-bat."

It's awfully strange to read any play-by-play for the Dodgers this year. It's like reading a 'what if we kept them' column.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Red Sox end fight with Doug Mientkiewicz over game ball

According to an AP report, Doug Mientkiewicz and the Red Sox have ended their feud over who owns the ball from the final out of the 2004 World Series by agreeing to give it away.

The ball will be sent to its new owner(?), the Hall of Fame. The Red Sox hope to have the ball at Fenway occasionaly for public display.

The Red Sox sued over ownership in November, but dropped the suit in December sending it to arbitration.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Current State of Pitching for the Red Sox

Before the season began, I was worried about three things, Schilling, Beckett and Foulke. Who knew Papelbon would take over the closers role (something I have mixed feelings about.. more later). Schilling looks great and Beckett isn't on the DL, yet.

Here's how the pitching looks as of right now for the Boston Red Sox:

Pitching - Basic
19Josh BeckettSP3330000041.2921.0126.211
30Matt ClementSP33110000147.0018.0147.329
55Lenny DiNardoRP3100000043.4810.152.357
29Keith FoulkeRP7000000044.328.161.241
58Jonathan PapelbonRP80007700008.082.111
54David RiskeRP10000000218.001.000.400
38Curt SchillingSP4440000051.6128.0234.172
37Rudy SeanezRP5000000069.006.073.370
51Julian TavarezRP3000000022.254.020.214
50Mike TimlinRP7020010011.356.223.308
49Tim WakefieldSP33120010114.3418.2135.263
16David WellsSP11010000715.754.011.476
Total 15151147810603.76134.09334.262

Very impressive, no?

My only problem is, I don't want Papelbon to become a closer. I'd rather have him as a starter. But how do you take him out of a role he's filling so well? The only way is if Lester comes up from the minors, there's no question Foulke has regained his form, or if our number 4 and 5 pitchers are so bad they are forced to make a move. I don't see any of these things happening for quite some time. So it looks like Papelbon will be our closer for a while.

I know I shouldn't be complaining, but I feel that Papelbon could be the next big thing as a starter.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Now that's a shift

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon decided to go with something different last night. He decided that shifting whenever David Ortiz was up wasn't good enough. So, he placed 5 players into the outfield in an effort to stop Big Papi's offensive prowess.

Unfortunately for him, this new 5 man shift didn't shut down Ortiz: "...they can’t catch the ball if you hit it off the Green Monster." Ortiz bounced one off the wall in the third inning, but grounded out to short in the first. The 'traditional' overshift was in place for when runners were on base otherwise.

The full 5 man shift looks like this. Leaving your shortstop and first baseman in the infield, send your second baseman too shallow right field and your third baseman into the left field. Push your left fielder into left-center and push your center fielder a little bit to the right. That leaves your right fielder down near the line.

According to Maddon: "He’s on the level with a Barry Bonds with his hitting ability. He’s so hard to pitch to, and there really are no holes. He covers everything. We play them 19 times. We have to try something."

Francona's response: "I had never seen something quite that pronounced. That one ball he hit off the wall, it looked like there were eight guys chasing it. There were guys all over the place."

Source: Boston Herald.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Red Sox excitement

With the Boston Red Sox at 9-4, there are a lot of things to be excited about. Of course, its just April, so we shouldn't get too excited. But I've been looking at their record so far and something jumps out.

Of their first 9 wins, 5 of those have been 1 run games. Winning those 1 run games comes from several things, but most important is the bullpen and defense. If the bullpen can't hold a lead, it doesn't matter how well you hit. The Red Sox have already seen the off season investment in their pitching and defense.

Oh, two home runs by Ortiz and a walk off home run by Loretta doesn't hurt, either.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

David Wells

A bucket of balls? Anyone? ... Oh come on... doesn't anyone want to trade?

David Wells (4 innings, 15.75 ERA) after complaining about being kept off the roster for the beginning of the season managed to blow the rust off and start last night. And what a night it was for the 42 year old(43 in May, I believe).

He managed to give the BlueJays such a big lead that the Red Sox were given a chance to let Seanez (2 innings) and Dinardo (3 innings) pitch. Oh, what a night.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New England Patriots have extended Seymour

Seymour signed an extension for four years. And you were wondering what they were going to do with all that money that were saving up by not signing Vinatieri, Givens, McGinest, etc...

They still need to wrap up Branch, but that probably won't be done until next off season.

Red Sox sign Crisp to three year extension

It's funny how things change. When the current ownership started here in Boston, they refused to negotiate during the season (or, was that their excuse for not negotiating with certain players?)

Now they've finalized the contracts of Ortiz and Crisp two weeks into the season. Maybe they've changed the rules, or perhaps they simply wanted to finish what they started in the off season.

Crisp signed a three extension with a club option for 2010. His contract was set to expire at the end of the year.

Wily Mo

On the radio last night, they were pointing out the error by Wily Mo during yesterday's game. He had a ball bounce out of his glove for a home run. That mistake gave Papelbon another chance at a save opportunity, but in the end changed nothing about the game.

The question was put forward, can the Red Sox afford to 'train' Wily. Everyone says he's a rough talent and that he 'may' become a star some day, although most are extremely alarmed when they see his strike out rate. Since the Red Sox are contenders every year, having a player like Pena on the team is out of character. Kansas City and Tampa Bay can have players like him on the field every day, since his power offsets his mistakes and they aren't going to make it into the playoffs anyways.

I say the Red Sox need to keep one eye on today and one eye on the future. If they want to succeed, and keep succeeding, they need to develop players, not just buy them. Look at the Yankees. They have bought all the big name free agents out there. Yes, its kept them in contention every year, but they haven't won it all in quite a while. And when they did win it all, it was because of players like Jeter who came up in their system.

Signing big names for big salaries makes for great headlines, but they don't necessarily help you next year or the year after that. Wily Mo may not pan out for the Red Sox, but you have to keep trying to develop your own.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Opening Day

Shall we review why Red Sox Nation is so optimistic on Opening Day?
The Red Sox are 5-1, the Yankees are 2-4.
Big Papi, the best clutch hitter in the game, signed a four year extension.
Schilling has looked good in his first two starts
Foulke looked good in his second start (let's not think about his first start, today).
Beckett hasn't gone onto the DL, yet.
Papelbon has looked better than anyone had any right to think he would. Wow!
Manny hasn't been Manny, yet.
Lowell has masked that he can't hit by hitting a home run.
The paint should be dry when people sit down today at the new old Fenway.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Things are going good right now, so let's enjoy the day!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Ortiz signs four year deal

I previously talked about the four year deal being offered to Ortiz. It looks like he has signed a four-year contract extension with an option for 2011.

Good for the Red Sox, good for Ortiz, good for the fans. It's a good day in Boston for everyone involved in the Red Sox fortunes, despite Crisp's injury.

Speaking of which, the Red Sox have announced that Crisp will be out for at least two weeks. His left index finger will be in a splint for 10 days. After that, his status will be evaluated.

More than likely, Crisp will be placed on the 15 day DL.

Coco was batting .333 with six runs, so far. Hopefully, he'll come out of the splint and continue his successful beginning with the Sox.

Crisp may be out for months!

Coco, despite finishing the game he was injured, is being diagnosed (according to several news reports) with a broken knuckle (finger) and will be out for 4 weeks (6-8 weeks). The diagnosis and time out depends on your source.

It looks like Stern will be the center fielder/lead-off hitter for the Red Sox for the next month, at least.

Here are Stern's numbers:

2005BOS361542120411 .188 .333 .133
2006BOS3502020100 .500 .400 .400
TOTAL 392044140511 .273 .350 .200

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Arroyo does well in opener

Ex Red Sox player Bronson Arroyo made his debut with the Cincinnnati Reds today. He went out of his way to make his welcome by pitching 6.2 innings with a pitch count of 103. He gave up 6 hits with 3 earned runs. Not bad.

But he also helped himself by hitting a home run in his first at bat in the third. Why can't we get players like this? ;-)

MLB Salaries are increasing

But I don't blame the Yankees or the Red Sox. Despite having the top payrolls in baseball, their payrolls have remained steady the past few years. It's the middle and low end teams that are upping the ante this year.

According to ESPN, salaries for MLB players (on opening day) have increased 9% over last year. Quite a difference two years makes. In 2004, payrolls had actually decreased 2%. Everyone was talking about the different layout and how things have changed.

What has changed is the lower end teams are putting more money into their teams, while the big payroll teams have stayed where they are. The ESPN story cites how the Yankees have the three highest paid players in baseball. But they also note the Yankees payroll has dropped since last year, while the median salary has increased to 1 million. Which means its the lower teams that are increasing payroll.

Josh Bard has one job to do

Hopefully, he can get better at it as the season goes along. They were talking about how San Diego may not want to hold onto Mirabelli, since Piazza is now their full time catcher. But apparently, Gordon Edes stated Mirabelli leaving wasn't necessarily a bad thing from the perspective of some other players in the locker room.

Well, just like Foulke, we'll have to wait and see. The question for both of these players is how long do the Red Sox wait to see if they are going to turn around. Obviously one game is not enough. But is twenty too many? With Foulke, you have a backup plan in Papelbon or Hansen, but I'm not sure they have a backup plan for Bard catching Wakefield.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Disappointing outing by Keith Foulke

But Schilling and Papelbon both looked good in the season opener. Curt Schilling pitched 7 strong innings, giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs. I was surprised when he came back out in the 7th, though. Why push his pitch count this early in the season?

Papelbon had a nice 1-2-3 inning in the eighth, and I was glad to see Foulke come out in the ninth and get some work in. Yes, he allowed some big shots, but is he our closer or not? If he is, then he needs to get out there and pitch. I expect that he'll have a slow beginning, but he always has a slow beginning. Ask me again in June about how I feel about him.

Two years ago, Keith had a 2.17 ERA for the year. I'd say that was worth the chance of seeing what he can do after off season operations to his knees.

It was nice to see Lowell hit a HR, but I still don't expect much from the bottom of the order. Youkilis (or Snow), Lowell and Gonzalez went 3 for 12 yesterday in a good game for the Red Sox. I expect that's about as good as it's going to get for the 7-8-9 hitters this year.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Opening Day

It's opening day and everyone's predicting that the Red Sox won't make the playoffs this year. That's pretty shocking given how shaky the Yankee pen is and the lack of history for the BlueJays success.

I'm going on record now to say the race will come down to the end of the season, and it will be neck and neck tie between the New York Yankees and your hometown heros, the Boston Red Sox. Since Baltimore and Toronto have improved in the offseason, I believe the wild card will come from outside the division, which means whoever loses that final race won't even make the playoffs.

Of course, I'm predicting the Sox will win out in the end. I'm guessing they'll take 96 games, just edging out the Yankees.

I believe the pen is stronger than last years and I believe the starting rotation may be stronger (it all comes down to the health of Schilling, Foulke, and Beckett). The defense is certainly stronger. The offense will be weaker, but as long as Manny and Ortiz stay healthy throughout, it won't be an issue.

It looks like the Sox have built in contingencies for all possibilities to get into the playoffs this year. The only lack is a true 5th hitter and the possibility of a Manny or Ortiz injury. Getting into the playoffs this year hinges on those two.

Once in the playoffs, it all comes down to the pitching. Will Schilling and Beckett be able to (be healthy enough) to get it done?