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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Few Notables...

* For those who have the MLB Network (far superior to anything on ESPN… sorry, Tito), “30 Clubs in 30 Days” have released their schedule. (Un)Fortunately, the Red Sox are the last club the Network visits, airing on April 3rd at 5:00 CT. If you’ve never seen any of the “30 Clubs in 30 Days” coverage, definitely check it out. It’s an in-depth look at each, individual club. Very informative and fun to watch. (Of course, anything on the MLB Network is great).

* Crawford was working on bunting today, which is a great sign. Valentine said he wanted Crawford to work on his bunting, and it’s one step closer to Crawford swinging.  Again, I think Crawford is going to have a fantastic, rebound season. Here’s hoping he’s ready by Opening Day!

* Rich Hill, who impressed me with his brief stint with the Red Sox last year before blowing out his elbow and having Tommy John surgery, is now throwing change-ups and will be working on curveballs next week. Having Hill in the bullpen, if he’s still as impressive, will be much appreciated.

* I’m pretty sure Bobby Valentine has more energy than any of the members of the Red Sox team. Hopefully, this rubs off on his team.

* In case you missed it, here’s a picture from the Yankees Photo Day:

*Photo courtesy of

The Pot is Stirring

Do Red Sox fans hate the Yankees?
Do Yankees fans hate the Red Sox?
Do the two clubs hate each other?

These questions have been asked over and over (and over and over) again throughout the past almost one hundred years. The Red Sox- Yankee rivalry is considered the greatest rivalry in sports. Since I’m assuming that most people know the details in this rivalry, I’ll skip over the history lesson.

Yesterday, Valentine took a few jabs at the Yankees, specifically at Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Now, Valentine has said he “hates” the Yankees; he was the manager of the Mets at one time, after all. Did he say this to get the fans going? Probably. Is it a way for him to win over more Red Sox fans still bitter about the Francona situation? More than likely, since Francona never to cause problems between the two clubs (though, there were a few instances).

During Spring Training, Valentine has been having the players do more drills, like relays and cutoffs, than they had done in the past. It’s been mentioned a few times that the Red Sox had become accustomed to working out in the morning and golfing in the afternoon during Spring Training. Valentine’s trying to change that a bit, from what I could tell.

Anyway, Valentine was asked about Derek Jeter’s famous “flip play” in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS. Valentine’s reply was:

“We’ll never practice that. We'll never practice that. I think (Jeter) was out of position.  I think the ball gets him out if (Jeter) doesn’t touch it, personally… That was amazing that [Jeter] was there. I bet it’s more amazing to say they practiced it. I don’t believe it.’’

As a Red Sox fan, I have a lot of respect for Derek Jeter. I may criticize his playing from time to time, like his range at the shortstop position, and insist that Nomar was always a better Shortstop than Jeter ever was (Nomar just broke down before Jeter), but I have a lot of respect for the guy. Unless Jeter does completely outrageous (I’m still on the fence about the whole “pancake” thing), I will continue to have respect for Jeter.

With that said, I think Jeter’s response to questions regarding Valentine’s comments were very respectable but maybe with the slightest hint of bite:

"Yeah. I don’t flip it home when we practice it. I’m the cutoff guy. He’s the cutoff guy to get the runner at third. We do practice it, but not the flip home. Am I supposed to convince him (Valentine)? I don’t know Bobby well enough to tell you what he’s trying to do. I could care less; I guess that’s the best way to put it. I just don’t know why it’s being brought up. I don’t know what to tell you."

The fact that Derek Jeter needed to say “I just don’t know why it’s being brought up” is enough to show that Jeter has a little edge on him. Was this directed more to the reporters asking the questions? Maybe. But, maybe it was saying something about the Yankees captain. Maybe.

Now, Valentine also took a jab at Alex Rodriguez yesterday when he was discussing Varitek’s retirement. If you don’t want to scroll down to see exactly what Valentine said, here it is:

"From afar, he (Varitek) was everything that you want in a guy who wore a 'C' to be. He was a man's man. He was a big hitter when needed. He was the leader of the pitching staff. He was able to beat up Alex. All that stuff is good stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.”

“He was able to beat up Alex.” Classic. Again, I’m not an Alex Rodriguez fan, never have been, never will be. I think Valentine brought this up because people not familiar with Varitek’s contributions to the Red Sox
probably know Tek most for his fight with A-Rod.

Rodriguez also had a reply to Valentine’s remark, in which he said:

"I'm not going to win many battles here when it comes to words -- especially against Bobby. I have my new press secretary that should be landing in the next couple days -- Reggie Jackson -- so I’ll let him handle that."

In my own fantasy land, I would like to think that Reggie Jackson wouldn’t defend Rodriguez. But, Jackson is a big part of the Yankees organization; and at this poin, so is Rodriguez. From people I’ve talked to and comments I’ve read, many Yankees fans do not like Alex Rodriguez. I’m not sure if they like the fact that Varitek “beat him up” though.

Is the pot stirring? I’m not sure. It appears to be that way, and from where I stand now, it appears Valentine is doing most of the stirring. In the past, I’ve tended to let most of the Yankees-hate stuff go by me without much thought, since again, I do respect many of the Yankees players (Jeter, Rivera, Cano, etc.). This year, however, it may be hard to let some things go by quietly.

UPDATE: Gary Tuck, the Red Sox bullpen coach and a former Yankees coach, informed Valentine that the Yankees do indeed work on the flip. Valentine owned up to his mistake:

"Total mistake on my part because they do practice it, that’s for sure. It’s hard to practice that because why are we going to practice a bad throw? That’s not what we’re doing here. But I get it. I get it... I want it on record that I love Derek Jeter as a player... It was not a slight towards him. I love him as a guy, too.”

Maybe the pot won’t be stirring so much now.

*Quotes from The Boston Globe

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jason Varitek to Retire

It’s been reported that Jason Varitek is going to announce his retirement tomorrow, Thursday. I knew the retirement was coming; I’ve known it for years now.  I’ve seen ‘Tek’s decline in offense, how hard he tries to get the runners out at second and fails most of the time, but I don’t think anyone could be prepared to say goodbye to a staple on the Red Sox team.

Varitek was one of my favorite players. He was a presence, someone younger catchers wanted to be molded by and someone pitchers wanted to call their games. I could probably search and find at least one hundred (probably more) articles/quotes of people saying how much time Varitek spent preparing for games, looking at tapes, studying batters. Like my post on Wakefield’s retirement, I wanted to list a few of my favorite memories regarding Varitek as a member of the Boston Red Sox.

When the Red Sox won game 4 of the 2004 World Series, the image that pops into my mind first is Varitek, smiling, yelling, running towards the pitcher’s mound in celebration after Foulke tossed the ball to Mienkiewicz to get Edgard Renteria out. After the season, Varitek became a free-agent, signed a four-year contract, and became the third captain of the Boston Red Sox since 1923.

May 19, 2008. Jon Lester’s no-hitter. After beating cancer the previous year, Lester throws a no-hitter in a 7-0 win against the Kansas City Royals. It would become Varitek’s fourth no-hitter in which he caught, which is a Major League record. 

I remember watching the Red Sox/Yankees came in April of 2007. I was home for the weekend from college, and my family was sitting in the living room watching the game.  Boom! Manny Ramirez hits a home run! Someone in my family called that the next batter, JD Drew, would hit a home run. Boom! Someone else in my family called that the next batter, Mike Lowell, would hit a home run. Boom! Someone else in my family called that the next batter, Jason Varitek, would hit a home run. Boom! Back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Against the Yankees!

Last, my favorite moment of Jason Varitek. To start this, I have to first say that I do not, and have never liked, Alex Rodriguez. Even when A-Rod was on the Mariners and was supposedly one of the greatest rookies ever, I was not a fan. So, much to my delight, “the incident” occurred.

July 24, 2004. Arroyo was pitching, Tek catching, and Alex Rodriguez was at bat. Arroyo hit A-Rod, and A-Rod took offense, yelling obscenities in Arroyo’s direction as he took a few steps forward. Tek, protecting his pitcher, shoved his glove in A-Rod’s face and basically told him to “get to first base.” My favorite baseball pitcher of all-time: Benches cleared; and of course, Varitek and Rodriguez were ejected. I truly agree that this moment changed the Red Sox fate in 2004 though. They weren’t afraid of the Yankees; they wanted the Yankees!

Bobby Valentine was asked how he felt about Varitek, to which he replied:

"From afar, he was everything that you want in a guy who wore a 'C' to be. He was a man's man. He was a big hitter when needed. He was the leader of the pitching staff.  He was able to beat up Alex. All that stuff is good stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be."

Mr. Valentine, your comment “He was able to beat up Alex” just made my day! I’m sure I’ll write more about Jason Varitek, especially since he’s been a presence on the Red Sox team for the past fifteen years.

Supposedly, Varitek is going to “remain in the organization.” To what extent, I’m sure we’ll know more tomorrow. I would love for Varitek to be a manager, but he’s made comments before about not wanting to manage at this point. I guess all we can do now is say “Thank you, Jason Varitek” for your service.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dustin Pedroia, Author

Some players, including Dustin Pedroia, were asked to pose with a children's book called 'Wally the Green Monster's Journey Through Time - Fenway Park's Incredible First Century.' Pedroia was the author of this edition of the book, which is part of a series.
* Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe

I had to write a little something about Dustin Pedroia becoming an author, makes me love him even more! Dustin Pedroia wrote a book called Wally the Green Monster’s Journey Through Time- Fenway Park’s Incredible First Century. During picture day this weekend, some of the players were asked to pose while reading the book, which is wear this picture of Pedroia came from.

I, for one, will be picking up a copy of this book as soon as possible. Not only is it a great souvenir for Fenway Park’s 100th Anniversary, but how many professional athletes, let alone baseball players, have written a children’s book? I did some checking too, and based on what I’ve seen, it doesn’t appear that Pedroia had a co-author with this book, as he did with his memoir, Born to Play: My Life in the Game, which is a great book, if you haven’t read it.

I’ll let everyone know how the book is once I read it. Here’s what the cover looks like:

Wally the Green Monster's Journey Through Time: Fenway Park's Incredible First Century

Was the Carl Crawford of Last year Just a Mirage?

It was reported about two weeks ago that Carl Crawford would miss Opening Day due to having wrist surgery in January. Crawford had cartilage removed from his wrist, and Valentine even said as recently as last week that Crawford would probably be out the first few weeks of the season. However, Crawford may have a different idea.

Last year was painful to watch Crawford play. He never looked comfortable, at the plate, in the field, or rounding the bases. When Crawford was on the Rays, I always would get flustered when he got on base. The man was insane at stealing, especially against the Red Sox. I’m sure I could look up the statistics and find out that Crawford’s stealing, but it will have to take some digging. (I did run a quick search and didn’t turn up anything in the first ten listings).

I’m sure there was a bit of an adjustment for Crawford when he came to Spring Training last year. For one, Red Sox fans compared to Rays fans are pretty night and day.  Red Sox fans are crazy passionate; Rays fans have cowbells. Second, Crawford never seem to have a set spot in the line-up last year. He never looked comfortable in whatever spot he was batting. Third, playing left field at Fenway Park is a challenge; it takes some adjustment. Crawford should’ve had a slight advantage since he’s played at Fenway for years, but it takes time to get used to playing the ball with the Green Monster right behind you. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

This year, it seems that the same menacing Crawford from the Tampa Bay Rays has shown up to Spring Training. Crawford has gone on record saying that he’s trying to be ready for Opening Day. To date, he hasn’t hit live hitting, though he did take soft-toss swings today. His stance, which Valentine criticized last year while working for ESPN, has also changed; it’s not the wide, awkward stance we’ve come to see from Crawford.  Instead, it’s a much more closed stance, almost a “typical” stance, if you would.

Crawford also seems much more comfortable with Valentine than he ever did with Fancona. Maybe I’m forgetting parts of last year (and really, who wouldn’t want to forget Crawford’s playing last year), but I don’t ever recall a time when Crawford and Francona were seen smiling, laughing, or high-fiving each other. Crawford and Valentine, however, have been seen doing this on more than one occasion.

As far as Crawford is concerned, it might just be that he wasn’t comfortable with the Red Sox last year, being the “new kid” on the team with Adrian Gonzalez. While Gonzalez seemed to flourish (and is expected to do even better this year), Crawford seemed to fold under the pressure. I’m predicting that Crawford will have a tremendous, bounce-back year, possibly even succeeding Ellsbury with a “Comeback Player of the Year” award.  Whatever the difference is with Crawford from this year and last, I’m excited to see him play this year.

More on Alcohol

I’d really like to stop discussing alcohol in relationship to the Red Sox, but things just keep popping up. It seems that with Valentine imposing the alcohol ban in the clubhouse and on flights, more and more stories keep popping up. Since I write about the Red Sox and this is what is going on with the Red Sox, I need to discuss it. So, here it goes!

Beckett did a radio interview on WEEI and, of course, alcohol and the banning of alcohol came up. Since Beckett was seen as the “ring leader” in the whole “chicken and beer-gate,” he knew this was going to come up. I liked Beckett’s response though. He said, “I don’t get paid to make those decisions. It doesn’t matter to me.”

Now, whether or not it really matters to Beckett is up to him. As I’ve stated previously, I was just looking for an “I’m sorry,” and a moving on from him, and he’s done that, in his own way. I’m not a fan of “tweaking” this story to create new stories and drama.

I do have to say that I liked David Ortiz’s response to the whole banning alcohol drama. Ortiz said, “It doesn’t matter. We’re not here to drink; we’re here to play baseball. It ain’t no bar.” Short. Sweet. To the point.

Joe Maddon, the Rays manager, has come out and said that he will not be banning alcohol because “they aren’t the Boston Red Sox.” I like Maddon, and I know that his was said as a joke. Maddon had no control over the Red Sox or what happened, and I’m sure he knows how lucky his team was for making the playoffs last year. It wasn’t just because the Red Sox drank alcohol in the clubhouse; the Yankees blew a lead in game 162 that moved the Rays into the playoffs.

Now, the news today is that Terry Francona was on the “Mike and Mike Show” this morning on ESPN radio. Francona is now employed with ESPN, so this makes sense. However, his response to the banning of alcohol was as follows:

"I think it's a PR move. I think if a guy wants a beer, he can probably get one. You know, it's kind of the old rule ... If your coach in football says no hard liquor on the plane — I mean, you serve beer and wine — somebody's going to sneak liquor on the plane. If you furnish a little bit, it almost keeps it to a minimum.

"I don't think it's a surprise that they put this in effect, or the fact they announced it. It's probably more of a PR move just because, you know, the Red Sox (took) such a beating at the end of the year."

*(For the record, Valentine’s response to Francona’s comments: " "I don't really have a comment on that. That means that 20 teams were looking for PR and that's why they're making good decisions? I don't have a comment on that…You get paid (at ESPN) for saying stuff. You get paid here for doing stuff. I've done both.")

Nineteen other clubs have banned alcohol, and Valentine has come out and said that he’s previously had that policy in other clubs he’s managed. Does Francona know these players well enough that he knows the players will “bend” the rules and “sneak liquor on the plane?” I’d like to think that professional athletes being paid millions of dollars have enough decency to follow the rules their employer and manager have put into place.

I like Francona; I loved watching “Tito” manage the Red Sox. I’m really starting to come around to Valentine as well; he’ll definitely make the season entertaining! But I think Francona and Valentine are two, completely different managers. Valentine seems to be more hands on, while Francona trusted his players to make the right decisions.

I know part of Spring Training is to “figure out” what went wrong the previous season and “fix it,” but I’m ready for this to be done. Move on. Move forward.

* IT WILL NOT END! Now more details on Beckett’s interview with WEEI have come out, and he is not happy! In the interview, Beckett said:

"Somebody made that stuff up, just like somebody made up that we were doing stuff … This is stupid. I don't understand what the big deal is. Somebody was trying to save their own ass, and it probably cost a lot of people their asses. The snitching [expletive], that's [expletive]. It's not good.

"There's two things with the clubhouse thing that I have a problem with: If I'm going to say something about the clubhouse, my name is going to be on it. The second thing is you never want to be remembered as that guy because that will follow wherever you go. It's just mind-boggling to me."

Valentine’s response to Beckett’s outburst is pretty calm and fair, in my opinion:

"Teams are built on trust, right? And teamwork. They are probably the two most important things that championship teams have. If there is distrust, I think, it eventually would have to be addressed. In my experience, those things usually present themselves."

Again, I say: Move on. Move forward. However, I have a feeling I’ll be writing a few more posts on alcohol and the banning of alcohol before Spring Training is over.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some Random Thoughts

*Alcohol- Two things:  One- David Ortiz said he gave up alcohol for a diet and reportedly has lost seventeen pounds.  Bobby Valentine said "Yeah, me too... until next dinner."
Two- Valentine has banned alcohol in the clubhouse, and he says it's what he's always done.  The Red Sox certainly aren't the only team to ban alcohol either- they're actually the 19th.  This means that over half the teams ban alcohol in the clubhouse, so it shouldn't be an issue.  When asked about the players reaction, Valentine replied, "It was probably somewhere between (a standing ovation or booing)."

* John Henry has apologized to Carl Crawford for his remarks about Henry never wanting to sign Crawford.  Henry made this comment during a radio interview and described the remark as "off-the-cuff."  Crawford accepted the apology and said he doesn't hold it against the owner.  Henry should've never have made that remark, regardless of how he feels.  He needs to be rallying behind Crawford, who I'm sure will have a bounce-back year.  It sort of reminds me of some people's remarks about Jacoby Ellsbury's injury-plagued season in 2010, and we all know Ellsbury made those people eat their words last year.

* Andrew Bailey is trying to decide on his walk-out music and said he's considering something rock and keeping in the Boston location, probably Aerosmith or Godsmack.  As much as I would love to hear "Back in the Saddle" by Aerosmith, Steven Tyler is now a judge on American Idol and doesn't exactly strike fear into people (sorry, Aerosmith).  While Godsmack's songs "Keep Away," Voodoo," and "Straight Out of Line," all seem like good walk-out music for a cloers, I suggest "Awake."  It has a great intro, is one of their heaviest songs, and a "classic" Godsmack song.  If would also suggest a Dropkick Murphy's song (like "Going Out in Style" or "State of Massachusetts"), but Bailey won't want to seem like he's copying Papelbon, who used Dropkick Murphy's "I'm Shipping Up to Boston."

* Bobby Valentine might want to reconsider is bicycle attire.  That's all I'm going to say about that (do a websearch for a picture, if you must).

Well, that's it for now.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bobby Jenks

I have to first start off by saying that I wasn’t a fan the Bobby Jenks signing last off-season. For one, it didn’t make sense to me, since he was a closer. The Red Sox had their closer (Papelbon) and their closer-in-waiting (Bard). Second, he came from the White Sox, the team that’s at the bottom of my “likeness” totem pole. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m just not a fan of the White Sox (though, US Cellular Field has excellent food). When Jenks played in only twelve games last year, I silently shook my head (I’m not sure I made many verbal quips about my frustrations… I’m pretty sure most of those were saved for Lackey).

However, today, I can say that I will not talk ill about Bobby Jenks. Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe interviewed Bobby Jenks about his numerous off-season surgeries and revealed some “harrowing” (in Abraham’s words) details. Basically, it will be next to a miracle if Jenks pitches this season, if again at all.

After recovering from a pulmonary embolism, Bobby Jenks had surgery on his spine in mid-December in Boston. He returned to his home in Arizona, and then had emergency surgery at the end of December due to complications from the first surgery. Per Abraham’s article and in Jenks’ words:

"I had four bone spurs on my spine. We talked about taking the top two out. The third one was started and not finished. So basically there was a serrated edge that sliced me open in two different spots and I was leaking spinal fluid."

Because of the leaking spinal fluid, Jenks formed an infection in his spine. He said the headaches he got “were far worse than any migraine headache.” After the surgery, Jenks was laid-up, as can be expected. Though he hasn’t said how much weight he has lost, Jenks is said to weigh 30 to 40 pounds less than what he weighed during the season last year. When Abraham asked Jenks if he was going to seek legal action, Jenks replied:

"That's why I got people… I let them worry about that. If there's something there I'll let them take care of it. My job is to get better. That's what I'm going to focus on."

If I was Jenks, I would be seeking legal action, immediately. Not only did someone(s) botch the surgery (how do you leave a serrated edge of a bone spur, especially on the spine?), but they sent him on his way, all the way back to Arizona! Knowing first hand how horrible migraines feel, I can only imagine the type of pain Jenks was in during this ordeal.

Tuesday, when the Epstein compensation decision came down that the Red Sox would get Chris Carpenter and Jenks was moved to the 60-day disabled list, I just figured that Jenks was taking longer to recover from his surgery. Since Jenks barely pitched last year, I knew it would take some time for him to build up his strength and endurance. I knew there were reports that Jenks had lost a significant amount of weight in the off-season, but there have been so many “best shape of their life” stories to really pay too much attention to weight loss on a guy like Bobby Jenks (who, for the record, is listed as 6’4” 275 lbs. per

I wish Bobby Jenks the best of luck with his recovery, and I hope that he is able to pitch this year. Not because I think it would help the Red Sox (and if he does fully recover, it will most likely help them down the road), but because after everything Bobby Jenks has been through this offseason, he deserves to do something he loves.  If you would like to read Peter Abraham’s full article, please visit this site:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm Styling... Or Something to that Affect

This past weekend, I started to re-organize my closet. I say started because I only got about half-way through it and have yet to go through my clothes (I did find a boot strap and cardigan that I’ve been missing for weeks!). What does this have to do with the Red Sox, you ask? Let me tell you.

Every year around this time, I usually go onto Yawkey Way’s website and see if there’s anything I “need” for the season. I have multiple sweatshirts, sweatpants, t-shirts, fashion shirts, hats, coats, scarves, and even socks. Yes, I own Red Sox socks (I’m even thinking about ordering the Red Sox red socks from Chowdaheadz).

Last year, I realized I had most of the position player t-shirts. To date, I now own the following player t-shirts: Pedroia, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Crawford, Varitek (2), Lester, and Beckett. I also have a Lowell and Yaz shirts, though my brother has come to “adopt” my Yaz one as his own. I even wear my pink, Johnny Damon t-shirt my dad brought back from Boston in 2004 (though I wear it to bed, since I’m not a fan of pink), and I have a player t-shirt that says “Trot” in honor of Trot Nixon. There’s also a “Papi” t-shirt that has floated between my brother, mom, and I too, but I’m not sure who’s in possession of it at the moment.

I’m thinking I need to get a Gonzalez shirt this year. He raked last year, and it’s a pretty safe bet that he’s going to do the same this year. Saltalamacchia would also be a fun shirt, just because he has an awesome name (seriously, Saltalamacchia is so much fun to say!).

My dog, Fenway Parker, even owns Red Sox items! He has a Red Sox collar and leash, which I’m sure I’m going to have to replace this year since he tends to chew on it. I bought him a Red Sox jersey two years ago (and he is adorable in it!) and a shirt that says “I bite Yankees fans” to wear during Yankees series. He’s adopted my beanie-bear Nomar bear as his own as well (No-mah!).

During the regular season, it’s typical of me to wear my Red Sox apparel after work and on weekends. Honestly, I could probably go over three weeks of wearing Red Sox clothes without repeating. Is this bad? I don’t think so. If I was a man, people wouldn’t think anything of it. If I lived in Boston, it would be considered the norm, right?  Though, I do have to admit, I don’t get quite as many strange looks wearing my  Red Sox gear that I do wearing my  Bruins shirt!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Finally- We Can Put the Theo Epstein Compensation to Rest

The Theo Epstein compensation talks are no more.  Four months ago today, Epstein quit on the Red Sox to join the Cubs in their newly added “President of Baseball Operations” position.  Epstein quickly seized up former assistant Jed Hoyer from the Padres to fill the void as General Manager of the Cubs.  Ben Cherington was named Red Sox GM, and the Sox waited… and waited… and waited for their compensation.  At long last, the waiting is over after Commissioner Bud Selig stepped in (in November).

The Red Sox will get RHP Chris Carpenter and a Player To Be Named Later.  Carpenter was on the Cubs 40-man roster and will be added to the Red Sox’s 40-man roster.  The Red Sox placed Bobby Jenks on the 60-day disabled list to make room.  The PTBNL is said the be a minor-level prospect.

From what I’ve heard and read about Carpenter, he will make a great impact on the Red Sox team.  He’s 26 and was drafted in the third-round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He lead all Cubs minor leaguers with a 2.82 ERA in 2009 and was named the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Star in 2010.  He was also previously drafted in 2004 in the 7th round by the Tigers and in 2007 in the 18th round by the Yankees; he didn’t sign either time.

In the limited time he spent in the Majors in 2011, Carpenter had a 2.79 ERA in 10 games, all coming out of the bullpen.  Left-handers hit for a .143 average, and he left the opposing teams scoreless in 8 out of 10 innings.  In the AA and AAA last year, he had 32 relief appearances, going 3-4 with two saves and a 5.91 ERA.  Obviously, his limited Major League experience is more impressive than his total body of work.

There was also talk of the Red Sox getting AA RHP Trey McNutt, who had a 4.55 ERA in 23 games last year.  As much as I would’ve liked to see a McNutt on the Red Sox (after all, I am fan of Marvin McNutt on the Hawkeyes football team and would love to yell “McNutt!” during baseball season as well), I think getting a AAA level prospect is better for the Sox this year. 

The Sox’s main problem area is their pitching.  They have three, legitimate starters; two, dependable relievers who are being groomed for starters (Bard and Aceves); an assortment of relievers that haven’t really proven themselves besides the set-up man and closer (Melancon and Bailey), and a wide variety of other pitchers vying for a spot on the roster.  Carpenter now has a spot on the 40-man roster.  Hopefully, he makes the most of it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Return of Manny Ramirez

The A's are reportedly going to sign Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal for $500,000.  In order to "un-retire" and join the team, he must first serve a 50-game suspension.  Personally, I believe Manny should have to serve the 100-game suspension he was given when he tested positive the SECOND time for PEDs. 

I was at the infamous "Manny Being Manny" game.  I witnessed Manny using his "secret door" of the Green Monster; I saw all the antics.  I shook my head in disgust when Manny "forgot" which knee he injured, which prevented him from playing in a handful of games with the Red Sox.  I read about the reports when he shoved a Red Sox travel coordinator.  I did have a slight smile when I saw Manny "high-five" the fan when catching a flyball.  I could go on and on; but in short, Manny wore out his welcome in Boston.

Manny was traded to the Dodgers, and we witnessed what was known as "Mannywood."  But, Manny then tested positive the first time for PEDs the first time.  He served his suspension and was aloof with what he was using.  Soon, Manny wore out his welcome in L.A. as well and was traded to the White Sox.  Last year, he signed with the Rays and tested positive for PEDs in April.  Instead of serving his suspension, Manny chose to retire and say goodbye to baseball.

As you can probably tell, I've never been a fan of Manny Ramirez.  I don't think his attitude is good for baseball, and he obviously doesn't have much, if any, respect for the game or the fans.  As my youngest brother put it today, in regards to Manny's 50-game suspension, it's like getting a two-year prison sentence and convincing the judge for a year of house arrest.  Manny needs to be accountable for his actions instead of skating by with the bare minimum (effore, respect, etc.).  And again, I don't understand the A's decision.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Goodbye, Tim Wakefield

Tim Wakefield retired yesterday.  I had a long, detailed post that I wrote yesterday, but I lost it before I was able to post.  Instead of trying to recreate that post, I wanted to just tell a few tidbits about what I'll remember about Tim Wakefield, my favorite knuckleballer.

I've been going to Red Sox games for most of my life, typically going to at least one every year or so (I'd like it to be more, but living in the Midwest has some pitfalls for that).  For years, it seemed that every time I saw a guy, Tim Wakefield was pitching.  While watching Wake was always enjoyable, especially when his knuckleball was floating past batters, it was always a little frustrating too because I wanted to see Jason Varitek catch.  Since Doug Mirabelli was Tim Wakefield's personal catcher for years and even when he wasn't Varitek typically didn't catch for Wake, seeing Varitek play live wasn't always an option.

2003.  Aaron Boone.  I don't want to say any more about the game 7 of the ALCS game, but Wakefield's face was so sad at the end of that game.  I always think about the Little League World Series when I think of Wakefield at the end of that game.  For the record, I don't like the LLWS because of sad the losing team looks.  'Nuff said.

2009 was such a phenomenal year for Wakefield (well, at least the first half).  He became the oldest pitcher in Red Sox history to pitch a complete game, then did it his next start.  At the All-Star break, Wake had the best record, 11-3, which gave him his first and only appearance at the All-Star game.  It's said that as President Obama greeted the players in the locker room, he said to Wakefield "So, you're the senior statesman," or something to that effect.

Tim Wakefield filled in any and every role he was asked to do; starter, spot-starter, relief, closer, mop-up, etc.  He was drafted as a first baseman, converted to a knuckleball pitcher after being told he would never get above Double-A, and spent seventeen years with the Red Sox.  He is third in all-time wins with the Red Sox, behind only Cy Young and Roger Clemens.  As much as I would have liked to see a class-act like Wakefield break Clemens record, it was time.  Seeing Wake struggle to get his 200th win (it did take eight attempts after all).

Tim Wakefield had a great career, and I wish him all the best.  I hope that he still is a part of the Red Sox or MLB in some capacity because it's always nice to see that "good guys" of the game (i.e. Mike Lowell on MLBNetwork).  Thank you, Tim Wakefield.

*Pitchers and catcher report tomorrow!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

I’ve been contemplating getting a Twitter account even though I really think Twitter is kind of dumb. Sometimes, I wish society could go back to the way it was, say, ten years ago. We didn’t have facebook to cyber-stalk our friends, enemies, and frenemies (I’m pretty sure “frenemies” wasn’t even a word back then). People didn’t send out mass-texts announcing “Merry Christmas!” or “I had the best burger ever!” (though, I admit, I have been known to do the former from time-to-time). Things seemed to be at a slower pace and more personable.

What does any of this have to do with baseball, you ask? Yesterday, my brother, Jacob, told me about Darnell McDonald’s tweet, which read:

Since I pitched last year I’m wondering if I have to report w/ pitchers and catchers?

I absolutely loved this! (For those who don’t know or remember, Darnell McDonald pitched one inning last year, giving up two earned runs while facing six batters.)  The Red Sox, John Henry, The Boston Globe, and so many other people/Red Sox organizations are now on Twitter, not to mention David Ortiz, Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew Bailey, Cody Ross, and Carl Crawford.

As previously stated, my brother, Jacob, is on Twitter. I know he follows Lester, Ellsbury, and Bailey. I was thinking about getting the Twitter account to follow the Red Sox and the players, as well as some people from the MLBNetwork (like Kevin Millar, who is absolutely hilarious on “Intentional Talk”).  I went through a Twitter page that featured some of the current/retired MLB athletes and managers, and while I knew Ozzie Guillen had a lot of followers, I was surprised by who had the most followers (by my count). Nick Swisher! That surprised me, since I find him kind of annoying (and not just because he’s a Yankee, I found him a little annoying on the White Sox too). I think it would be interesting to see what Swisher had to say, I

Anyway, I guess if I want to take this blog seriously and continue to write posts that I (and hopefully others) find interesting, I’m going to have to suck it up and start following people on Twitter (I’m about 95% sure I will not be “tweeting.”). Anyone have any suggestions on who to follow?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Potential Line-Up

There’s not much to write about at the moment based off Red Sox news, so I thought I would comprise what my “dream” potential line-up would be based off the current 40- man roster. Granted, a lot can change ones Spring Training really kicks into gear, and there could still be some moves made (*cough* Epstein compensation, Oswalt). But, it’s always fun to “play manager.”

1) Ellsbury CF
2) Pedroia 2B
3) Gonzalez 1B
4) Ortiz DH
5) Youkilis 3B
6) Saltalamacchia C
7) McDonald LF
8) Ross RF
9) Aviles SS

Obviously, a lot can and will change between now and Opening Day. Crawford is said to miss the start of the season after wrist surgery, so he’ll eventually take over Left-Field duties again. Punto could show that he’s a better Shortstop than Aviles, so those two could be switched out. Ryan Sweeney could have more pop in his bat and be the starting Left or Right Fielder. Eventually, I could see the line-up looking more like this:

1) Ellsbury CF
2) Pedoria 2B
3) Crawford LF
4) Gonzalez 1B
5) Ortiz DH
6) Youkilis 3B
7) Saltalamacchia C
8) Ross/Sweeney RF
9) Aviles/Punto SS

I do think Crawford will have a bounce-back year, and I think he’d be good in the number three hole. If Crawford has the numbers he had in Tampa Bay, having him, Pedroia, and Ellsbury running the bases ahead of Gonzalez, Ortiz, and Youkilis is going to be very entertaining. If, for some reason Crawford has another dismal year, he would move down to the number seven or nine holes, depending on how he’s running the bases (sorry, fifteen stolen bases like last year won’t cut it again).

I’ve heard a lot of predictions that Gonzalez is going to be even better than last year, and I believe this to be true. He’ll be more comfortable on the new team, and he’ll be seen in more of a leader role. It appears that Varitek and Wakefield won’t be coming back, so other players are going to be needing to step up in those leadership roles. Gonzalez will do this. Other leaders like Pedroia and Ortiz will continue to be a positive influence on the team as well.

The 2012 40-Man Roster is still very fluid, so much can change from stand-out prospects to trades to free-agent signings. It’s a little strange going into Spring Training with so many question marks with the team, but it’s also really exciting to see what’s going to happen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Good Sign

I get most of my Red Sox information from The Boston Globe (I’ve tried the Boston Herald, but I like The Globe’s style more). There’s a running blog on The Globe’s website that I really enjoy called “Extra Bases;” and in an ideal world, updating that blog would be my job. Peter Abraham does a terrific job of reporting on all kinds of Red Sox stories from players to games to management to entertainment at Fenway Park to how John Henry’s European soccer team is having its own issues. Abraham has been in Ft. Myer’s since after the Super Bowl, and he’s noted a few early arrivals who have shown up to camp. Players who don’t have to report yet and who are there to start the season are always a good sign. It’s their job; and like most jobs, showing the boss you’re willing to show up earlier than required always looks impressive.

Some of the players who show up early are recovering from injury, like Rich Hill who looked really impressive last year before throwing out his arm. Other players are there to just work out without the microscope of tons of fans and media, which will be there in a week. Jon Lester fits into this category, and Abraham is reporting his stuff looks really impressive for this early in Spring Training.

The fact that Jon Lester has already arrived at Spring Training is another good sign. Lester was part of the “Chicken and Beer” club from last season, and while I try not to dwell on this issue since I don’t believe it caused the demise of the 2011 Red Sox, Lester is the leader of the pitchers (I could say co-leader since I still think Josh Beckett could fit into this category). Lester needed to be the one to show he was willing to work, work hard, work early, and work with the new manager (Valentine is reportedly going to be coming to Spring Training today).

Other early arrivals that also impressed me were Adrian Gonzalez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Gonzalez and Salty had great years last year, but there were still things they needed to work on. Gonzalez’s power numbers slid after the All-Star Break last year, and that could be attributed to numerous things from recovering from his shoulder surgery in 2010, participating in the Home Run Derby, or just natural fall-off. Salty’s production, while average for a catcher (let’s face it, not every catcher hits above .250 while still being good behind the plate), can and should improve. Salty’s 26, almost 27; he’s in his prime.

With a new manager in tow, players showing up early is great to see. It means they’re ready to work, focusing on the future and not the past. Last year, many people predicted the Red Sox to win the World Series based on their line-up and pitching. Not much as changed (though not having a set shortstop or right-fielder is still a mystery to me), so we shouldn’t count the Sox out this year.

UPDATE: I originally started writing this post yesterday. Today, it was reported that Josh Beckett had also shown up to Spring Training early. The fact that Beckett, who has made it known that he works at his own pace (flashbacks to Valentine’s comments on the August 7, 2011 game about how Beckett could drag out a game 8-9 hours come to mind). Beckett showing up early shows that he’s ready to put last year behind him and concentrate on improving this year (though it is worth noting that Beckett arguably had the best season out of the starting pitchers last year).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Yoennis Cespedes to the A's?

This really had nothing to do with the Red Sox, but I'm still scratching my head about Yoennis Cespedes signing with the A's.  Reportedly for 4-years/$36 million, the A's signed probably the most talked about free agent outfielder of the offseason.  Why?

All offseason, it seemed like Billy Beane was practically giving players away to get "younger."  He traded Bailey to the Red Sox, Gonzalez to the Nationals.  Now, I haven't watched or read "Moneyball," but I've been hearing for years that Billy Beane is a genius.  Okay- the A's always seem to have young, great pitching. 

Now, the A's sign Cespedes, and they're still supposedly thinking about signing Manny Ramirez.  Cespedes is an unproven 26-year-old with a great youtube video.  He might end up being a great sign, I'm not saying that.  What I am saying is for a team supposedly going "younger," signing an unproven 26-year-old for that amount of money seems a little odd.  Then, when you add Manny, who is not young or without his own bag of concerns, it just doesn't seem to make much sense.

Again, I am not an A's expert.  I just needed to vent my confusion on this deal.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Roy Oswalt, Will You Just Sign Already?

Truck Day was yesterday, and pitchers and catchers report a week from today.  Most teams pretty much know what the make-up of their teams are, and they know who's being invited to Spring Training.  There are still a few moves to make, but things are pretty much set.

Except for Roy Oswalt.  Oswalt isn't an ace in my standards, but he is a very good pitcher who would typically be a number two or three guy on a team.  He wants to pitch for either the Rangers or the Cardinals.  The Rangers have said they're set in their rotation, and the Cardinals seem to be set as well, though they haven't eliminated the thought of Oswalt.  Oswalt wants to pitch for a contender.

The Red Sox have reportedly offered Oswalt a 1-year deal between $5-7 million; he supposedly wants $10 million.  If I was Oswalt, I wouldn't be too picky.  He's not the type of player who can demand such a salary anymore, especially after having the injuries he's had the past few years.  He needs to prove that he still has what it takes to demand that salary, like Adrian Beltre did a few years ago for the Sox.  On a note, just have to say that Beltre was one of the most entertaining athletes to watch two summers ago.

Oswalt has also said that he would prefer not to play in Boston, that it was geography (he wants to stay around the Midwest or South).  Again, I don't think Oswalt can be picky.  In the Midwest and South, there are numerous teams, but when you factor in contenders, there's only a few- Cardinals, Rangers, and Braves... possibly Marlins if you buy into their hoopla.  Again, Cardinals, Rangers, and Braves seem set in their rotations, and the Marlins are going to be a crazy team.

So, I think Oswalt needs to suck it up, take the Red Sox deal, and just sign already.  It's for one-year.  In that one year, he can prove that he's still a great pitcher; and next year, he can sign with whomever he chooses at whatever price he wants.  He just can't do that this year.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What It's Like To Be A Red Sox Fan Living In Iowa

First, sorry it's been awhile since I've posted.  Last weekend, I celebrated my birthday with friends and family, watched the Super Bowl (sad the Patriots didn't win but not too upset), and then was hit with a sickness that's kept me in bed for the past five days, including my birthday.  Without going into too much detail, I have bronchitis and sinusitis.  I'm ready to be well again!

Since there hasn't been too much news on the baseball front, I thought I would just describe what it's like for me, as a Red Sox fan, living in Iowa.  For those who don't know, my great-grandfather, Al Van Camp, played for the Boston Red Sox from 1931-1932.  My family has been Red Sox fans since.  We've been to Boston twice now and have made an informal commitment of going every five years (three years left!). 

Basically, growing up a Red Sox fan was interesting in Iowa.  As a child, I would watch the games when they were on television, go to the games with my family, and occassionally wear some Red Sox attire.  I'd get questions like "who's your favorite baseball player" every once in awhile, and I always answered truthfully: my great-grandfather.  When they would ask for a current player, I would say Ken Griffey Jr.  On a side note, one of my favorite baseball moments was when I went to a White Sox-Mariners game when I was about twelve years old with my friends (Thanks, Laura!), and Griffey waived at us in Center Field.  Some people would say my favorite player couldn't be Griffey because he didn't play for the Sox.

Fast forward to now, and when people first find out that I'm a Red Sox, they give me a look that clearly says "Pink Hat."  When I start to talk about the Red Sox, they typically do a slight nod like "maybe she does know a little about baseball."  If they see me wearing any of my Red Sox clothing, they typically give me a knowing smile.  Most people just don't realize how deep my love for the Red Sox runs.

So, being a Red Sox fan living in Iowa takes some sacrifices.  First, I had to buy the MLB package to watch most of the games.  I bought it for the computer too since the television package is pretty expensive.  So, I watch as many games as it will allow.  Second, I can't just go to a game whenever I feel like it.  I have to look at the schedule way ahead of time and plan, hoping that I get tickets (still keeping my fingers crossed on the Sox-Cubs game).  Third, the local paper pretty much glosses over anything that has to do with either Coast, so I read the sports section of the Boston Globe daily, especially the Extra Bases blog. 

Being a Red Sox fan living in Iowa isn't easy, especially surrounded by Cubs, White Sox, and Cardinals fans (plus, the occassional Royals, Twins, and Brewers fans), but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Few Random Thoughts....

* Danny Woodhead wants to meet Dustin Pedroia. This makes sense on a few levels since they are roughly the same size, were told they were too small to play their respective sports, and proved the doubters wrong. Plus, who wouldn’t want to meet Dustin Pedroia?

* Vincente Padilla was arrested in Nicaragua for not paying child support. Reportedly, he’s been released but the issue is still pending. He failed to pay $540 a month for his tenth child and has made roughly $50 million in his career. I say release him. The Sox need to get away from the drama (see John Lackey).

* Cubs-Red Sox tickets are expensive! I know, this isn’t news. I checked StubHub yesterday for tickets, and the cheapest are $74.90 for standing room only. I don’t think I’ll be making it to a game.

* Cherington said it’s highly unlikely the Red Sox sign another starting pitcher. I’m not sure if this is true or misdirection. I’m still holding out on a Garza deal, though I know that’s just a dream.
**UPDATE: Edwin Jackson is reportedly signing with the Nationals, and it appears Roy Oswalt will either sign with the Cardinals or Rangers.

* Josh Beckett needs to address the issue of last year prior to going into Spring Training.  He’s been the only one out of the “Big Three” (Beckett, Lester, Buchholz) who hasn’t made a comment. I know he likes his privacy, but a simple “We screwed up, and I’m sorry about that” is all he needs to say. Otherwise, Spring Training could be a nightmare for him.

* I made Dustin Pedroia’s Pasta Primavera out of the “Diamond Dishes” cookbook by Julie Loria a few weeks ago. I highly recommend the dish and the cookbook (Thanks, Mollie!). I already made David Wright’s Chicken Parmesan as well (Delicious! Chicken Parmesan is one of my favorite foods). I also want to try Pujols’ “Home Run Chicken” because one of my co-worker’s has been talking about the chicken for years. Literally.

* I’ve never been a collector of baseball cards, except for a few occasional ones my brother would pass on to me (mostly, because he didn’t want them), but I think it would be fun to have one of the Skip Schumaker cards featuring the Rally Squirrel. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend looking it up on the internet. Hilarious!

* Lastly, I’m not planning on doing any more updates until after Monday (though if something does come up, I will probably do a post). Busy weekend with the Super Bowl and attempting to celebrate my birthday if the weather holds out. Have a great weekend!  Go Patriots!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

18 Days Til Pitchers and Catchers Report

Wevre made it to February, and instead of counting down months to Spring Training, we’re now to the point that it’s days. The Red Sox’s reporting date for Pitchers and Catchers is February 19th, reporting date for all players is February 24th. The first Spring Training game, against Boston College, is March 3rd. The new season is almost upon us.

Whenever February comes, I always feel a burst of happiness to know that soon, baseball games will be on again. Winter is such a bland season. Yes, I’m psyched about the Patriots making it to the Super Bowl, I’ll watch the Bruins games if they happen to be on TV (which isn’t very often, even with the new NBCSports channel and NHL channels), and I might watch a Celtics game if I’m bored (sorry, can’t get into the NBA this season), but baseball is much more interesting.

I am a little scared about the state of the Sox at the moment. There’s no definite shortstop, though Valentine has said that he doesn’t want to do a platoon. There’s no definite right-fielder, though I’m almost positive Cody Ross will see more playing time at that position than Ryan Sweeney (a fellow Iowan, by the way). There are no definite 4th and 5th starters. It has been said that Crawford won’t be ready from his wrist surgery on Opening Day. For once, I’m satisfied with the bullpen (which hasn’t happened in a few years). Am I worried? In a word, yes.

After last year’s disastrous start (hate to bring it up again, but 2-10 isn’t good), I’d like to feel more confident this year heading into Spring Training. It’s not going to happen this year unless a miracle happens, like signing a starting pitcher and/or a shortstop. I understand what Cherington and the owners are trying to do, get the payroll under the Luxury Tax threshold, but I don’t know if they’re doing it the right way.

First, the whole Epstein compensation should have been done before the Sox agreed to let him leave for the Cubs. They should not be dealing with this three/ three and a half months later. Second, Scutaro should not have been traded unless they knew for sure that a starter would sign. If you need to create a hole to fill another, make sure you can do it and are not left with two holes! Third, should a trade have happened for the
outfield position? I’m not saying they shouldn’t have signed Ross; but we now have Ross, Sweeney, McDonald, and Kalish, once he’s healthy again, to play right. We also seem to have a surplus of catchers on the depth chart: Salty, Shoppach, Lavarnway, and Exposito… and there’s always the option of bring Tek back.

I just find it a little odd that we have a surplus in some positions and holes in others. Either Cherington thinks that these holes will filled by guys in the minors or a trade is going to be made. Either way, the next two and a half weeks will be telling.