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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Red Sox's Key To Success- Being Healthy?

This sounds simple enough.  A healthy team equals a better overall team.  Middlebrooks and Victorino have spent the majority of this young season on the disabled list.  Once they returned to the line-up, the Red Sox seemed to play with more grit, with better defense, and with more heart.  This would seem to equate that the Red Sox needed Middlebrooks and Victorino in the line-up to play better baseball.

When the Red Sox called up Victorino on Thursday, it would seem that the Red Sox would get the much needed spark that they seemed to be lacking this season.  Victorino provides the team with energy, on the base paths and in the outfield.  Despite going 1-for-5 in his return, the Red Sox lost to the Yankees in a 14-5 massacre that saw Mike Carp, the pitcher.

Photo from NESN
However, Middlebrooks returned to the line-up for Friday's 8-1 win against the Blue Jays.  Middlebrooks went 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBIs.  Victorino went 1-for-6 with a double.  To make room for Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava was demoted to Triple-A.  The Red Sox would go on take 2 of the 3 games against the Blue Jays, which would indicate that having Middlebrooks and Victorino in the line-up is more beneficial to the Red Sox.

As mentioned before, the Red Sox demoted Daniel Nava to Triple-A.  Nava has struggled this season, hitting .149 with 2 home runs, 3 RBIs, and 1 stolen base.  Yes, it doesn't look good for Nava, and maybe he does need to go back to Triple-A for a bit.  But, if there's one thing we know about Daniel Nava is that he's a fighter.  By now, all of Red Sox Nation knows Daniel Nava's story of being his college team's manager, hitting a grand slam in his first at bat in the majors, and becoming a key member of the 2014 Red Sox World Series Championship team.

Photo from ESPN.Go.Boston

In 2013, in 134 games, Nava hit .303 with 12 home runs and 66 RBIs.  He was a big reason the Red Sox played as well as they did last season.  I understand that the fact that Nava had options that played a major role into sending him down to Triple-A, but let's say he didn't.  Would the Red Sox have released him to make room for Victorino?

The Red Sox seemed to think pretty highly of Grady Sizemore, a player who hasn't played in the major's since 2011; that season, he hit .224 in 71 games.  In 2010, he hit .211 in 33 games.  In 2009, he played 106 games and hit .248.  He hit .268 and played 157 games in 2008.  Sizemore is currently hitting .221 in 19 games with 2 homes runs, 1 triple, 7 RBIs, and 2 stolen bases.  Yes, small sample size, I know.

Photo from SportsIllustrated.cnn.com

I guess what I'm trying to point out is the Red Sox were considered to have gotten "healthier" with the addition of Victorino and Middlebrooks and sending Nava down to Triple-A.  These moves may be important and necessary at this time, but they also have a player on their team who hasn't been considered "healthy" since 2008.  The Red Sox took a chance on Sizemore; and hopefully, that chance pans out for them.  With about a month into the season, I'm still uncertain about this move the Red Sox made.

Only time will tell...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's Been Awhile...

A wonderful birthday gift
It's been awhile since I have last posted.  I admit, this off season I haven't felt as "into the blog" as I would have liked.  Not that I didn't still love writing the blog because I do.  Things changed drastically over the winter, and I'm learning that things are constantly in motion.  I won't get into every detail, but here are a few of the things that went on that helped contribute to me not writing for months:

  • Most important, my brother's diagnosis with leukemia.  When I first moved to Connecticut, my youngest brother was diagnosed with leukemia (I mentioned it here and how I bought the #GetBeard shirt in honor of him).  I'm happy to report that my brother is officially in remission and will be getting married in about five and a half weeks.
  • I started a new job.  I started working at a law firm in Hartford in December.  With working, I no longer had my days to write the blog.  This is no excuse, I know, since I wrote the blog while I was living in Iowa.  But, this was a huge adjustment to me.  I had been at my job in Iowa for years before I started the blog, and I was comfortable with the pace and then writing.  Working in Hartford is a much faster pace, and the type of working I'm doing is different.  It was a huge adjustment for me, and I'm still adjusting to it months later.  
  • My original plan was to start blogging again once a week when the season started.  Unfortunately, the Friday before Opening Day, I received devastating news that my cousin had passed away.  It hit me very hard, especially since I was not with my family and would not be able to attend the funeral.  I won't get into all the details, but my cousin suffered from addiction.  His brother set up A Go Fund Me Account in my cousin's honor, and I highly recommend everyone to check it out, especially if you've ever known anyone who has suffered from addiction.
I wanted to start writing this past Sunday, but I've been fighting a sinus infection.  I'm actually home from work today with it, so I thought I'd do a little blogging.  But, we're not here about what's going on in my life; we're here about the Red Sox.

For my birthday, my wonderful boyfriend got me a Fenway Four-Pack; tickets to four Red Sox games.  There were tickets for a game in April, May, June, and September.  My parents are coming to visit in July, and we got tickets for a game when they're back.  We also got tickets for a Yankees game in August.  That works out to a game a month for six months.  Not bad.


A beer in honor of my cousin

We went to our first game April 5th against the Brewers.  It was a bitterly cold night (seriously, the temperature was around 35*, and it was windy).  I hate to admit it, but we didn't last past the 6th inning.  I blame Buchholz.  Everyone around us left, which made the wind hitting us that much worse.  There was no coffee and little hot chocolate available.  The Red Sox ended up losing 7-6 in 11 innings.

Since we're a few weeks into the season, I thought I'd just do some random thoughts on the season so far:

  • I am not in panic mode...  yet.  There's been a lot of talk on the radio and television about whether people should be panicking about the Red Sox, since they are currently in last place and have a 9-11 record.  Season is still early.  The past two games have showed the Red Sox still have fight in them.  Victorino and Middlebrooks coming back from the DL will make a huge difference.  
  • Buchholz needs to get his act together.  Every year, it's the same thing.  He shows these flashes of brilliance then falls down the wormhole again.  My guess is if he has another bad outing in his next few starts, he'll be making a trip to the DL and Workman will be brought up.
  • Not impressed with AJ Pierzynski.  I don't think I'm being biased here.  He's batting .235 with a HR and 6 RBIs.  I don't think his defense has been stellar either; I'd rather Ross be back there.  I know it's still early, but I don't know how this move will benefit the Sox.
  • Anyone else get really annoyed with the ESPN commentators Sunday night during the game talking about how much the Red Sox missed Ellsbury?  Wow!  I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I'm not a big fan of ESPN; and I try not to watch things on ESPN, if I can help.  Sunday night, ESPN could not let up on their admiration for Ellsbury.  Honestly, I think once Victorino returns from the DL, the Red Sox will be more of a threat on the base paths.  Sure, Victorino doesn't steal bases like Ellsbury, but he has confidence running the bases.  The Red Sox just need some confidence.
I'm hoping to post again this coming Sunday.  Make sure to follow me on Twitter at BornIntoItInIA.  You can also check the side of the blog for Tweets.  

GO RED SOX!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of the Red Sox Signing AJ Pierzynski

Photo from waiverwireblog.com
The Red Sox are set to sign left-handed-hitting catcher AJ Pierzynski, pending a physical.  The deal is reported to be for one year/ $8.25 million.  With this signing, Jarrod Saltalamacchia will not be returning to the Red Sox, and Pierzynski will be in a tandem with catcher David Ross.


The Good:

  • Pierzynski is a career .283/.322/.428 hitter  At Fenway Park alone, he's a .322/.328/.424 hitter.  With Pierzynski hitting left-handed and Ross hitting right-handed, they will be a pitching tandem.  Unless an injury arises in either one, I can see Pierzynski and Ross splitting the catching responsibilities 50-50.
  • Last season, Pierzynski hit .272 with a .722 OPS with 17 home runs and 70 RBIs.  He started 111 games behind the plate for the Rangers.
  • Pierzynski will only be signed for a year.  Both Pierzynski and Ross will be 37 at the start of next season, and will only be signed through 2014.  Because of this, the Red Sox will not be blocking prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart.  This will allow the prospects to develop properly by not rushing them up, and it won't block them when they are ready to join the team.

The Bad:

  • Pierzynski had a .297 OBP last season, drawing only 11 walks.  The Red Sox were great last season with getting men on base, any way possible (hit, walk, hit-by-pitch).  Hopefully, under the guide of manager John Farrell, Pierzynski's walk rate will rise.
  • While he has good numbers at Fenway Park, Pierzynski has not hit a home run there in his career.  Since 1998, Pierzynski has played for the Twins, White Sox, and Rangers, all American League teams.  That's numerous trips to Fenway without a home run.
  • As mentioned before, Pierzynski will be 37 years old next season, as will David Ross.  While I listed this as a good thing for the state of the Red Sox catching prospects, it is also a negative thing for the team.  Like most people, the older we get, the longer it tends to take to heal from an injury (compared to an early 20-something-year-old).  With two "older" baseball players behind the plate getting battered everyday (or every other day), it could be seen as a big risk.

The Ugly:

  • Pierzynski has a reputation of having a "difficult personality," and "difficult personality" may be an understatement.  Pierzynski is fiery, but not in the good way like we see from Jonny Gomes, David Ortiz, and Dustin Pedroia.  For the Red Sox part, they say Pierzysnki's personality is an overstatement.  Hopefully with this clubhouse, Pierzynski can tone-down his personality a bit or "use it for good."  
For an example of what the Red Sox are getting into with signing Pierzynski, here's a video from a Cubs-White Sox game in 2006, when Pierzynski was on the White Sox:


Lastly, I am happy to report that I feel like I did this article fairly un-biasly.  Out of all the MLB players, AJ Pierzynski ranks pretty low in my opinion of players, he may be in the bottom 5 actually. It's not just me either.  When I told my mom that the Red Sox were signing Pierzynski, her reaction was "Nooooooooo!"

I'm guessing most of my animosity falls back to all the years in Davenport, Iowa when I wanted to watch baseball and the only games that were televised were either White Sox or Cubs games.  Most of the time, I would watch White Sox games, since they were in the American League.  Pierzynski definitely had an bad attitude to him when he played, and I wasn't a fan of that.  Plus, I just wasn't a fan of the White Sox period.  Just hearing Hawk Harrelson saying "AJ" still makes me cringe.

Even though I'm not a fan of Pierzynski as a player, I think he does a really good job when he does analyst jobs in the post season.  This makes me feel really conflicted about him, since drives me crazy as a player.  But, I hope he continues analyzing after he retires from playing baseball.

I'm hoping that Pierzynski playing not he Red Sox will change the way fans, myself included, view Pierzynski.  Hopefully, Farrell and the other players and coaches can keep Pierzynski's volatile attitude in check.  Basically, the only thing I can say to sum up this signing is that I hope it works out.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship

Found on Amazon here
This weekend, I finished reading The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship by David Halberstam.  If you have not read this book, I definitely recommend it.  Not only is it an interesting book about past Red Sox greats, it shows how important friendship was to these four teammates.  (There's a link to buy the book on Amazon underneath the photo above.)

If you didn't know, the teammates are Ted Williams, Dominic DiMaggio, John Pesky, and Bobby Doerr.  These Red Sox legends played together on the Red Sox from 1942-1951.  Of course, I had heard of all these men prior to reading the book, and I knew they were great friends.  However, I didn't know just how strong of a bond these men shared.

I'm not going to ruin the book for you because I found the stories told throughout were done so honestly, it was as if reliving times.  The book starts with a car ride in October 2001.  John Pesky, Dominic DiMaggio, and a friend were on a journey to visit a dying Ted Williams in Florida.  Bobby Doerr lived in Oregon and would be unable to make the trip.

The book follows these four players throughout their lives and careers, showing how their bond of friendship formed and changed throughout the years.  In the book, the players' personal lives, accomplishments and disappointments, are touched upon, but their friendship is definitely the forefront.  To think their friendship lasted over fifty years after their playing careers is remarkable.

I think reading The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship is an important read for anyone, whether their a baseball fan or not.  We live in a world where everything seems so disposable, including friendships.  Think about it, we've replaced interacting with friends in person to calling on the telephone to checking their profiles on Facebook.  I've noticed this more since I've moved so far away from my friends in Iowa.

In this book, here are four men who have had great success in a high-profile sport.  All four players found varying success after their baseball careers were long over; and despite differing personalities, they've managed to remain friends and support each other for a lifetime.  They knew the importance of their friendship.  I wish more people were like them and had friendships like theirs.

Photo from Flickr.com/photos/artfan70

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Off Season Chatter

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted in about a week and a half.  The reason- not a lot has happened.  We're in the off season, which can be almost as exciting as during the season (almost).  My youngest brother tells me that the off season is his favorite part of baseball because it's more the business aspect of the game.  I wouldn't say that it's my favorite of baseball, but it can be exciting.

Photo from MLBDailyDish
The GM has to get the pieces of the puzzle to make the whole team complete.  Last off season, Cherington was able to bring in players like Napoli, Victorino, Gomes, Ross, and Dempster.  This off season, the Red Sox have Napoli, Saltalamacchia, Ellsbury, and Drew hitting the free agent market.

It's already been reported that Drew will not be coming back to the Red Sox, as he's seeking a multi-year deal, and the Red Sox offer that to him (Bogaerts will/should be taking over at shortstop).  My guess is Ellsbury won't be returning either, as he's represented by Scott Boras.  It's been reported that Boras is seeking a Carl Crawford-like deal for Ellsbury, and there's a slim chance the Red Sox will be doing that again.

The Red Sox are said to be in negotiations to bring Salty back, the hold up being in the length of the contract.  The Red Sox would like a 2 year deal, while Salty's seeking 3-4 years.  The Red Sox don't seem to see Salty as a long-term catcher for the organization, with prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart in their system.

If I had to put money on any of these four free agents coming back, I'd bet Napoli would be the one back next season.  The Red Sox originally wanted to sign Napoli to a multi-year deal last year, but when questions surfaced about Napoli's hips holding up, it was reduced to a single-year deal.  There have been reports that the Red Sox have extended a multi-year deal to Napoli, but those reports have been discredited (at this time).

Photo from Wikipedia
We're upon the time of year when "mystery teams" and "multiple suitors" are the words showing up in many reports when it comes to free agents.  If I wrote about all the rumors that are surfacing regarding the Red Sox and free agents, I would be writing non-stop.  Instead, I've been tweeting and retweeting a lot of the rumors on my Twitter account.  You can either follow it on the right side of the blog or follow me on Twitter: @BornIntoItInIA.  When credible or definitive information is reported, I will write about it in the blog.

In other news:

  • Ben Cherington was named Executive of the Year.  He received 15 votes from a panel of 31 Major League executives.  The last Red Sox GM to win the award was Dick O'Connell in 1975.  
  • Terry Francona beat out John Farrell for Manager of the Year (Farrell was second).  There was some negative comments being made about Francona winning when Farrell took the Red Sox all the way to win the World Series.  Personally, I think Francona did a fantastic job with the Indians, who weren't supposed to do well at all this season and made it to the Wild Card game.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Red Sox World Series Parade

Saturday, November 2nd, I was able to attend the Red Sox World Series Parade.  When I was living in Iowa, I never thought I would be able to attend anything like this in Boston.  Now that I'm living in Connecticut, it was less far-fetched.

The parade was great, and I'm really glad we were able to attend.  My boyfriend and I left our apartment at 6:30 AM, arrived in Cambridge at 8:30 to meet his friend, and were in position in front of the Four Seasons Hotel on Boylston at 9:15.

We had a great spot for the parade.  Instead of describing it to you, I thought I would share the photos  I took on Saturday.  Enjoy!

View down Boylston Street from where we were standing
Photo of my boyfriend and me before the parade
Boston Police Officers to start the parade
A Beard on the Duck Boat
The owners Duck Boat
Owners Tom Werner (with the World Series Trophy) and John Henry
General Manager, Ben Cherington
Manager, John Farrell
Jacoby Ellsbury (on Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, John McDonald, and Jack McCormick's Duck Boat)
Dustin Pedroia's "Floating Head" on the Duck Boat
Pitching Coach Juan Nieves
Mike Napoli with the World Series Trophy (on Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller, and Rick Jameyson's Duck Boat)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (on Salty and Ryan Dempster's Duck Boat)
View down Boylston Street mid-parade
Felix Doubront (on Franklin Morales, Ryan Lavarnway, Brandon Workman and Felix Doubront's Duck Boat)
Dropkick Murphys
Wally with The Dropkick Murphy
Wally and The Dropkick Murphy's
Wally and The Dropkick Murphy's
Daniel Nava and John Lackey (on Daniel Nava, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Matt Thornton's Duck Boat)
Daniel Nava and John Lackey (on Daniel Nava, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Matt Thornton's Duck Boat)
LL Bean Shoe
Dennis Eckersley and Don Orsillo from NESN
Old Timer's Duck Boat
Jon Lester (on Michael Egan, Jon Lester, and Jake Peavy's Duck Boat)
Mike Carp and Xander Bogaerts (on Xander Bogaerts, Stephen Drew, Mike Carp, and Pookie Jackson's Duck Boat)
Side Note: Team Aruba was behind us promoting travel to Aruba, and they were very energetic!
David Ross (on Dr. Peter Asnis, Will Middlebrooks, David Ross, Jim Rowe, and Dr. Larry Ronan's Duck Boat) 
Shane Victorino next to the MVP Trophy... his head is cut off in the photo (David Ortiz-not on float, Quintin Berry, and Shane Victorino's Duck Boat)
Victorino was dancing when the parade stopped for a moment
Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa (on Koji Uehara, Craig Breslow, Andrew Bailey, and Junichi Tazawa's Duck Boat)
David Ortiz (in the red hoodie sweatshirt) got his own float!
Another shot of David Ortiz on his float!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Red Sox After Season Awards

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am going to do my post season awards (not postseason awards). These are the players I think deserve the after season awards on this Red Sox team.  These are all based on my own thoughts; so if you disagree, certainly you can explain who you think should win and why in the comments.  Now, here's the awards:

MVP: David Ortiz

Photo from Bleacher Report
David Ortiz hit .309 during the season with 30 home runs, 103 RBIs, and 28 doubles.  Those numbers are great, but you need to add it to what he meant to this team.  Ortiz made his now famous post Boston Marathon speech in April, and that seemed to be the catalyst for this team to strive for the top.  Yes, they had a point to prove after last season, but they also wanted to lift the City of Boston on their shoulders.  Ortiz was the man to make the speech and bring this team back to greatness.

Of course, in the World Series, he was dominant.  He hit .688 with 2 home runs, 6 RBIs, 11 hits, and 8 walks (with only 1 strike out).  He now has 3 World Series rings and 1 MVP award in his career.

Cy Young: Jon Lester
Photo from NESN
This season, Lester went 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.294 WHIP.  Some people may be asking how he can by Cy Young with those good but not great numbers.  I chose Jon Lester because he was the workhorse the Red Sox needed this season.  He pitched 213.1 innings, when the next closest was John Lackey with 189.1 innings.  After the All Star break, Lester seemed to improve with every start.  His ERA fell from 4.58 to 3.75 for the season, almost an entire run.

This postseason, Lester made a name for himself as an ace.  In the World Series, he had 2 winning starts, pitched 15.1 innings, and only gave up 9 hits, 1 run, 1 walk while striking out 15.  His World Series ERA was 0.59.

Rookie of the Year: Xander Bogaerts
Photo from USAToday
This one was a little hard for me, as there wasn't a Rookie that made a season-long impact on this team.  There were players that had been up and down in the minors for the past couple years (Daniel Nava, Will Middlebrooks), but I don't think any player made more of an influence on the team than Xander Bogaerts.  During the season, he hit .250 in 18 games with 11 hits, 1 home run, and 5 RBIs.  Defensively, he showed he was capable at both shortstop (his natural position) and third base (the position he eventually took over for Will Middlebrooks in the postseason).

In the World Series, Bogaerts started all 6 games, batted .238 (which was surprisingly the third highest on the team behind Ortiz and Ellsbury) with2 RBIs and 5 hits, including a triple.

Comeback Player of the Year: John Lackey
Photo from ESPN.GO
John Lackey didn't pitch at all in 2012 because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery.  Tommy John surgery is serious, but I think it was a blessing in disguise for Lackey.  In 2011, many Red Sox fans cast Lackey as a villain, as the post child for everything that went wrong with the team in September.  He heard more boos than cheers, and the media seemed to be against him as well.  He took 2012 off to recover from surgery.

When he came back this season, no one knew what Lackey would bring.  He looked healthier, physically thinner and stronger, than he had in recent years.  He had a presence to him that showed confidence, and he pitched with confidence.  He had a 10-13 record, but that was because he couldn't get the run support.  He completed the year with a 3.53 ERA (it was 6.41 in 2011), 189.1 innings pitched, and a 1.157 WHIP.

This World Series, Lackey pitched in 3 games (2 starts), had a 1-1 record, and a 2.57 ERA.  He gave up 14 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, and struck out 11.

Honorable Mention: Daniel Nava
Photo from YawkeyWayReport

No one can argue that Daniel Nava had an incredible season.  If you recall, Nava made headlines in 2010 when he hit a grand slam on the first pitch he ever saw in the minors.  He was the guy who didnt make his college baseball team right away and was the team manager for two seasons.  Then, he played in the Golden Baseball League, and his contract was bought by the Red Sox for one dollar.  In 2011, he was buried in the minors and designated for assignment without any other team showing interest.  In 2012, he hit only .243 in 88 games.  Many thought he was just a good story, but he wrote another chapter this season.

Daniel Nava hit a career high .303 this season with 12 home runs and 66 RBIs.  He played 134 games, platooning with Jonny Gomes and filling in for Victorino when needed.  He was a presence at the plate, but he wasn't one of the over-the-top players that seemed to flood the media this season.  He was grounded, and he will certainly be back in the Majors next season.

That's it for me today.  Tomorrow, I will be attending the Red Sox World Series parade, so make sure to check back early next week for photos and commentary.  It's been a great and intense season, but you can't be upset about the outcome.