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Friday, March 30, 2012


I stated yesterday when I did some of my predictions that I was thinking about doing an over/under post. Well, as luck would have it, The Boston Globe had their own over/under article today, as well as what their “experts” (Tony “Mazz” Massarotti and Chad Finn) thought. I’m going to use their stat predictions and establish my own opinion, as well as state what Mazz and Finn though.

1) Adrian Gonzalez- 35 Home Runs
Mazz: Under.
Finn: Over
Me: Over. A-Gon had 27 home runs last year while recovering from shoulder surgery, and he had 31 the year before while injured and playing half of his games in Petco Park. Gonzalez also had his best year average-wise last year, hitting .338 with 45 doubles. He’s completely healthy this year, and I don’t think he’ll be participating in the Home Run Derby. I’m guessing 42 home runs.

2) David Ortiz- 30 Home Runs
Mazz: Under
Finn: Under
Me: Under. Papi hit 29 home runs last year and 32 in 2010. Prior to 2010, the last time Papi hit at least 30 home runs was in 2007 when he hit 35. I’m guessing Papi still produces, hits around .280-.290 and gets anywhere from 24-28 home runs. He is 36 after all.

3) Jacoby Ellsbury- 25 Home Runs
Mazz: Under
Finn: Over
Me: Over. I’m not saying Ellsbury’s going to crush the ball the way he appeared to last year. I’m thinking he’s going to hit around 25 home runs, but I have the tendency to think over that, maybe 26 or 27. He did lead the team with 32 last year.

4) Carl Crawford- .275 Batting Average
Mazz: Over
Finn: Over
Me: Over. 2011 was a fluke year for Crawford. In 10 years in the Majors, Crawford’s batting average is .293, and his .255 batting average last year was almost twenty points lower than any other year he had played in more than 100 games. I’m thinking Crawford will rebound nicely, hit between .280-.290, get his speed on the base paths back, and hit between 15-20 home runs. Remember, in 2010, many Red Sox followers though Ellsbury was washed up and a “bum” as well, and he proved them all wrong last year.

5) Jon Lester- 200 Strikeouts
Mazz: Over
Finn: Over
Me: Over. Strikeout aren’t everything, but they’re a nice stat to look at. Lester had 182 strikeouts last year, only 18 away from 200. If his 10 strikeout Spring Training game this week proved anything, it’s that Lester is still the ace of this team.

6) Daniel Bard- 100 Innings
Mazz: Over
Finn: Over
Me: Over. Bard wants to start and has been laboring this Spring Training to stretch out his arm and pitch count. He’s committed, and the Red Sox seem to be committed to him starting as well. If Bard makes roughly 20 starts and averages 6 innings a game, he’ll still have 120 innings. The Sox just need to remain committed to him, even when Matsuzaka comes back in May/June/July, whenenver they make the final decision.

7) Josh Beckett- 3.50 ERA
Mazz: Over
Finn: Under
Me: Under. I’ve already stated that I think Beckett will have an ERA between 3.00-3.30. He’s out to prove something, and that’s usually when Beckett does his best.

8) Clay Buchholz- 14 Wins
Mazz: Under
Finn: Over
Me: Over. Buchholz is a great pitcher when his body doesn’t fail him (and head because while I don’t want to be negative, I have referred to Buchholz as a “head case” on more than one occasion. Please, Buchholz, prove me wrong). He’s only made more than 16 starts in a season once, in 2010 when he went 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA. But, Buchholz is still young; he’s 27 this season. He’s also one of those players out to prove the nay-sayers wrong.

9) Andrew Bailey- 25 Saves
Mazz: Over
Finn: Over
Me: Over. I’m not a big fan of this statistic because any pitcher can ultimately get a save. The Sox have a great line-up and scored the most runs in 2011. Bailey’s career ERA is 2.07, which is a nice ERA to have (for the record, Papelbon’s career ERA is 2.33). I don’t think there’s any question if Bailey stays healthy, he’ll get more than 25 saves. A better question is how many blown saves will he have?

10) Dustin Pedroia- 200 Hits
Mazz: Under
Finn: Under
Me: Under. Pedroia’s only had over 200 hits once in his career, his MVP season when he hit 213. Pedroia gets walked a lot, and that’ll be the determining factor in the number of hits he gets. I think Pedroia will hit at last .300 again this year though.

11) Ryan Sweeney- 5 Home Runs
Mazz: Under
Finn: Under
Me: Over. I know; he’s never done it before. But, I have to be optimistic for the guy from Iowa. Depending on how much Sweeney plays (Crawford is reportedly out til May), I think he’ll show some power. I’m going to say at least 7 home runs, depending on how long the Red Sox keep him around.

12) Ryan Lavarnway- 5 Home Runs
Mazz: Over
Finn: Over
Me: Over. Lavarnway hit 2 home runs in one game last year and hit a total of 34 (in three different levels) last year. Lavarnway will be on the 25-man roster during the season, either as a replacement (injury/trade), back-up, or starter. He’ll be given the chance to produce, and he will produce.

13) Kevin Youkilis- 90 RBIs
Mazz: Under
Finn: Under
Me: Under. Youkilis wants to prove that he can remain healthy this year, and I’m hoping he remains healthy. When it comes to RBIs, I think it’s important to note that Youkilis will most likely be hitting anywhere in the 3-5 range on the line-up. If Gonzelz and/or Ortiz hit runners in before Youkilis, it’ll cut done on the stat. I do think Youk will have around 80 RBIs though.

14) Daisuke Matsuzaka- 6 WinsMazz: Under
Finn: Under
Me: Under. Matsuzaka has to work back from Tommy John surgery. Even if he comes back to the team in May/June/July, they’ll be starters in front of him (Doubront, Bard, Aceves, Cook, and possibly Miller) that’ll get a chance first. Matsuzaka will be a spot starter though.

15) Jose Iglesias- 81 Games Played In The Majors
Mazz: Under
Finn: Under
Me: Under. 81 games is half a season. Unless there are injuries to Aviles and/or Punto, Iglesias will remain in Triple-A until at least the All-Star Break. However, he will be the starting shortstop in
August, in my opinion. I’m excited to see what Iglesias can do in the Majors, but he also needs to work on his offense. Plus, the more I’ve been seeing of Aviles, the more I like him.

I had a lot of fun going through these stat predictions. I may seem like a bit of an optimist, but that’s the point of a new season starting. There’s only possibilities at this point in the season.


Baseball is a game full of traditions. There’s the ceremonial first pitch, where anyone from celebrities to past big-leaguers to average, everyday citizens can throw out the first pitch of a game. There’s the “seventh inning stretch” where fans sing along to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Beer, hot dogs, peanuts, and popcorn are “traditional” baseball food, whether eaten at a stadium, at a bar, or in the comfort of our own homes. Champagne (or ginger ale, in some cases) is sprayed after clinching a division, divisional series, championship series, or World Series.

The Red Sox have their own traditions as well, like singing “Sweet Caroline” during the eighth inning or playing “Dirty Water” after a home win. There’s a long-standing tradition of players from opposing teams to sign their names inside The Green Monster the first time they visit Fenway Park. There are hundred’s of signatures from fans on Pesky’s Pole.

Individual players also have their own traditions, or routines. Pedroia used to play cribbage with Francona before every game, and between every pitch while he’s bathing, he adjusts his batting gloves and “stretches his face” (sorry, don’t know how else to explain that, but if you’ve seen him bat, you know what I’m talking about). Ortiz claps his hands together before he bats as well.

I have my own traditions as well when it comes to baseball. For example, when “Fever Pitch” came out in 2005, there was a sneak peek at our local movie theater the weekend before its release, and it also happened to be my dad’s birthday that day. About ten or twelve members of my family went and watched that movie together, and I’m pretty sure we all wore Red Sox apparel to it. Every year since, I have made it a tradition of watching “Fever Pitch” the weekend prior to Opening Day (the official opening day, not the opening series in Japan). So, I’m sure I will be watching “Fever Pitch” at some point this weekend.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I own many Red Sox player t-shirts. The past few years on Opening Day, I’ve made it a tradition to wear the player t-shirt of the Opening Day pitcher. Last year (and this year), I wore Lester. Before that, I wore Beckett. I even have a tradition of putting a Red Sox jersey on my dog for Opening Day.

Traditions may just be fun, little antidotes that add to the great game of baseball, but they also make more fun. For every fan who complains about “Sweet Caroline” being played during Red Sox games, there’s five more standing and singing along to it. I think we need to embrace our traditions; there’s a reason baseball has been around so long.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Schilling, "No Comment" Works Well Too

Picture from

Yesterday, it was announced that Curt Schilling was being inducted into this year’s Red Sox Hall of Fame, as I think he should. His bloody sock is a symbol of the hard work and determination that not only he, but the rest of the 2004 Red Sox team, endured to win the team’s first World Series in 86 years. He was a workhorse for the Red Sox and a leader for the pitching staff.

Curt Schilling was always known as one of the “mouths” of the Red Sox when he was on the team. He was always the guy who would talk to media. He is the guy I always picture soaked in champagne after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and saying “The greatest Red Sox team ever!”

Again, as a Red Sox fan, I can not thank Curt Schilling enough for what he did in both 2004 and 2007. But, I do wish he would stop discussing the Red Sox. I know, he works for ESPN now, and he has a right to his own opinion. I work in a Legal department; I hear these comments about everything from all types of people all the time. I do think that Curt Schilling overstepped some boundaries in an interview with WEII earlier this week though.

It is well-known that Schilling and Francona were close, probably closer than Pedroia and Francona were. I think most Red Sox fans know the story about how Theo Epstein flew to Arizona and met with Schilling over Thanksgiving to discuss Schilling’s trade from the Diamondbacks to the Red Sox. Francona had been Schilling’s manager in Philadelphia prior to them signing with the Red Sox. It appears that Schilling is taking Francona’s departure from the Red Sox personally, by his comments on WEII:

“I thought that the manager that managed the Mets that I was not a big fan of was now going to be a different manager, and I don’t think there’s anything different at all. And I don’t think that that is going to be conducive to doing well here. There’s a lot of things I think that are happening not just from his perspective, but when you talk to these guys — and I’m still talking to some of these guys — I don’t think this is going well. And I think it’s going bad quicker than I expected it to.”

(I found these comments in the following article: curt-schilling-red-sox-dont-like-bobby-valentine/126498. I’m not sure if I believe the writer’s viewpoints, so I’m not going to consider what he had to say about the incident.)

Schilling is known for saying these types of things before, and he never really seems to quote his sources. Whether this is to protect the people he considers friends or if he’s just making things up, I’m not sure. If these feelings are really going on by the Red Sox players, most people would think Beckett would be one of the people voicing these, right? No, Beckett’s response to Schilling’s allegations, according to a tweet (see, I am still following Twitter!) from Peter Abraham, was:

“I haven’t seen him (Schilling) around this year. Is he one of our pitchers?”

Such a perfect response from Beckett! He didn’t feed into the comments. Short, sweet, and a little humorous. I know Schilling’s just doing what Schilling does, making headlines by outrageous
comments. But, really, if you had any respect for the organization, wouldn’t you keep your opinions quiet until at least the start of the season? Then again, isn’t Schilling’s video game about to come out? He probably is looking for some publicity.

Some Predictions

One week from today, the Red Sox kick off their 2012 season against the Detroit Tigers. That’s not exactly who I would want to face to start the season, especially since they’ll be having Justin Verlander, reigning Cy Young and MVP awards winner, but that’s the way it works. Might as well start strong, right?

So, I thought I would do some quick predictions about what I think is going to happen this season. I don’t want to get too wild with my predictions just yet. Maybe I’ll do a post later about standings, award winners, etc. Without further delay, here’s what I think will happen for the Red Sox this season.

* Lester and Beckett are both going to have strong seasons. I’m thinking this may finally be the year when Lester gets his 20 wins, and he’ll have an ERA around the 3.00 mark, maybe even a little lower. I think Beckett’s ERA won’t be as low as last year’s 2.89, but it’ll be between 3.00-3.30; he needs to break “even years bad, odd years good” trend he’s been having the past seven or so seasons.

* Ellsbury will bat leadoff. I know there’s a lot of talk how Ellsbury shouldn’t lead off because he gets on base by getting hits and not necessarily walks (he had 52 last year). However, who else is going to bat leadoff? I’m not buying Aviles or Youkilis or even Pedroia. Crawford doesn’t want to either, and I don’t think he should. Ellsbury is our leadoff hitter, and he’s done really well there the past few years.

* Shoppach (and possibly Aviles) won’t be with the Red Sox after the All-Star Break. I think Lavarnway’s too good to keep in Triple-A until September, and the Sox have already gotten rid of Shoppach once. If both Aviles and Iglesias do well, I can see the Sox trading away Aviles and bringing up Iglesias. However, if Iglesias can’t get his average above .230 in Triple-A, I don’t see a move happening.

* Sweeney and/or McDonald may also be traded. This all depends on how well Kalish does in Triple-A after he comes off the Disabled List. Kalish has been dubbed “the right-fielder of the future” since he took over the position in 2010 when there were more players on the DL than on the active roster, or so it seemed. I could see Sweeney being traded over McDonald since he’s much younger, but it really depends on who the Sox trade for.

* The first Red Sox game on Sunday Night Baseball should be interesting, April 22nd, at Boston, against the Yankees. Besides all the drama that Red Sox-Yankees stirs up, this will be Terry Francona’s first trip back to Fenway. I could also see him interviewing Pedroia during the game. I always loved the banter between “Pedey” and “Tito.”

* Valentine will be ejected more this season than Francona was last season. I may have missed one or two, but I think Francona was tossed four times. I’m guessing Valentine, who is more “vocal” for lack of a better word, will voice his opinion more.

I’ll most likely do another predictions post next week regarding over/under batting averages, fifth starter by the end of the year, and some other more detailed dealings. I just wanted to through this stuff out there, since my mind is starting to get revved up for the season. Also, just had to note, Josh Reddick hit a home run in Japan this morning, and the A’s beat the Mariners 4-1. This game was broadcasted on MLBNetwork this morning.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I'm A Bit Disappointed in the MLB Coverage

This morning marked the official start of the MLB season- the Japan series. The Mariners took on the A’s in Japan, and the game was scheduled to start at 5:00 AM, Central Time. Around 5:30 this morning, I turned on MLBNetwork to watch the game, but it wasn’t on. Instead, I was watching a re-airing of the Mets-Braves game from yesterday. My trusty “red button” icon came up to check scores, and I found out the game was not airing live. What’s up with that?

I remember when the Red Sox played in Japan in 2008. I remember waking up at 5:00 those two mornings, flipping on the television to ESPN, and watched a little of the game before having to get to work. It was an early two mornings, but I enjoyed it. It was the Red Sox, it was baseball, and it was live. What’s not to enjoy?

So, this morning I was expecting the same giddy feeling… the feeling I always get at the start of a new season. However, there was no game. It was airing on one of the DirecTV “Extra Innings” channels (and I could’ve gotten it with my MLB.TV subscription), but not on ESPN or MLBNetwork. MLBNetwork was re-airing the Mariners-A’s game at 8:00 AM Central time this morning. I don’t understand that.

I know ESPN isn’t as baseball-centric as it once was, one of my many problems with the channels (I get quite a few of them). They’re doing better, showing a few more interesting games this Spring Training, but why not air the live game? Same with MLBNetwork. This channel is exclusively for baseball- that’s it! Why not show the live game?

Lucky for me, the game today went into extra innings. When I arrived at work at 7:35 (work doesn’t start til 8:00 but I like to get there early and get some things done before the phones start to ring and people come in), it was in the 10th inning. I loaded my MLB- At-Bat app on my iPhone and watched the last two innings while I did some work. This is exactly why I’m happy to have the MLB subscription- I can watch the game anywhere I choose.

For the record, the Mariners won 3-1. The winning run game on a Dustin Ackley single to center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, scoring Brendan Ryan. Felix Hernandez gave up 1 run in 8 innings, striking out 6 with 0 walks. Ichiro was 4-5, Reddick was 0-4, and Cespedes was 1-3. Since I didn’t get to watch the whole game, that’s all I have.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Didn't Want to Go There, But...

This season, I wanted to forget all about John Lackey. As a fan, it was miserable towatch him pitch last year, with his 12-12 record and bloated 6.41 ERA. The year before, Lackey’s first year with the Red Sox, wasn’t much better with a 14-11 record and 4.40 ERA. For those people who don’t hold records and ERA in high record, he also had WHIPs of 1.419 (2010) and 1.619 (2011).

For the record, Lackey’s days with the Angels were much better. In 2009, he had a 11-8 record, 3.83 ERA, and a 1.270 WHIP. Arguably his best year was 2007, when he went 19-9, with a 3.01 ERA and a 1.210 WHIP. The Angels’ manager, Mike Scioscia, who I regard as one of the best managers in the game, had Lackey as his number one starter. The Red Sox brought Lackey in as their number four guy.

Again, I wanted to forget all about Lackey this year, since he’d be sidelined for the season after having Tommy John surgery. The way I looked at it, when Lackey pitched again in 2013, he’d start with a clean slate, much like Matsuzaka seems to be doing as he recovers from Tommy John surgery the past year. As much frustration as Matsuzaka caused people, myself included, people seem to be almost excited to see what he can do when he comes back in June or July. I thought the same thing would happen for Lackey.

Unlike Matsuzaka, who virtually disappeared from the team after his surgery and during a big portion of his recovery, Lackey’s still around. He’s in the clubhouse, rehabbing with the team. He still has a locker next to Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz. It’s kind of hard to ignore him, right?

Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe wrote a column on Lackey, interviewed him and all, and it was published today. I didn’t want to read it, but I felt compelled to. I thought maybe Lackey would say something that would make the fans want to get behind him again. I don’t think that’s what will happen after reading the article.

As a recap from last year, Lackey seemed to have some issues both on and off the field. He started the season terribly against the Rangers, giving up nine earned runs in 3.1 innings. His next start wasn’t much better, giving up six earned runs in 5 innings. Lackey’s ERA only dipped below 6.00 three times in the season, on April 30th, August 23rd, and August 30th.

The fans weren’t having it either, since they started to boo Lackey when he would pitch. However, something remarkable happened last season. I can’t remember when exactly, but during the first half of the season, Lackey received a standing ovation at Fenway. It was revealed that Lackey’s wife was battling breast cancer. His lack of concentration on the field was forgiven for a moment, since life’s challenges are more important than challenges faced on the field.

But those good vibrations didn’t last long. Lackey struggled in August and especially September. On September 26th, TMZ reported that Lackey had filed for divorce from his wife. The media was calling Lackey’s cell phone before his last start of the game. Chicken-and-beer-gate happened, and Lackey was perceived as the ring leader. The fans were done with John Lackey.

I didn’t want to discuss John Lackey, only because I didn’t want to feel any ill-will towards the any Red Sox players this season. I don’t like all the negative comments about Josh Beckett because he was seen as the other ring-leader of the bad behavior of last season. But remember, Josh Beckett was the best pitcher we had last year. So much has been written about Carl Crawford’s struggles, but every player is allowed to have a down year, right? I wanted to be a “cheerleader” for this 2012 Red Sox team.

But, John Lackey’s comments to Dan Shaughnessy are making it hard for me to “forgive and forget.” In the column, Lackey is quoted as saying: “The only way you’re going to change people’s opinions is to pitch better and win games. It’s amazing how quickly people will forget if you win.’’ That’s true. The problem was, Lackey wasn’t pitching last year. Was he hurt? Yes. He should have spoken up about his injury or maybe it’s the medical examiners fault for missing how serious the injury was. The point is, Lackey didn’t pitch well last year, which just put more fuel on the fire when all the other stuff
came out.

I could sample more quotes from Shaughnessy’s column, but I don’t want to throw Lackey under the bus. Obviously, he was dealing with a lot of stuff last year, both on and off the field. Should we judge? No. But, I do think Lackey isn’t dealing with it all that well.

Even the most hated players seem to have some fans (Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez, anyone?). I don’t know anyone (and trust me, I know quite a few Red Sox fans) who is a “fan” of Lackey. When he was on the Angels, I didn’t hear any negative comments about him. “He is a workhorse,” is the comment I always heard about him. Scioscia seemed to like him a lot too.

But as a member of the Red Sox, I don’t think John Lackey’s done anything to try and win over the fans. He hasn’t pitched well and his behavior both on and off the field has made fans shake their heads. I still want to try and forget about Lackey this season, and when he comes back in 2013, I want to think of it as something positive (again, like Matsuzaka).

However, at the moment, Lackey’s only outlet to the fans is through the media. People won’t see him pitch at all this year, so he won’t be making fans “forget” by pitching well. Instead, he should try and re-create his image to the Boston media and fans. He says that his teammates know the real him, so why not let the people essentially paying for him to play see who he really is? Maybe Shaughnessy instigated some of Lackey’s responses, but Lackey should know better than to say such negative things in return. If you want to read the article Shaughnessy wrote yourself, here’s the link:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Does McDonald Deserve to be an Opening Day Starting Outfielder?

Darnelll McDonald has been raking during Spring Training. In fourteen games, he’s hitting .467 with five doubles, one triple, and two home runs. He has a .515 OBP, a .900 SLG, and 1.415 OPS. Even a limited amount of “practice” games, that’s still pretty impressive.

Darnell McDonald is in his third year with the Red Sox, and he’s always been one of my favorite players to watch. He’s one of those guys who can come off the bench and make a difference, and he always seems to have a good attitude. In 2010, he seemed to come out of nowhere to help with the outfield (remember, we had holes for Ellsbury, Drew, and Cameron, who were all injured at some point that season).

Last year, McDonald had a less-than-impressive year. In 79 games, he had a .236 BA, a .303 OBP, a .401 SLG, and a .704 OPS. Because of these numbers, he lost the right-field position (when Drew was hurt… again) to Josh Reddick. Reddick seemed to carry the team when he won the position, though he did cool off as the season continued.

In 2010, McDonald’s truly breakout season, he batted .270 with a .336 OBP, a .429 SLG, and a .766 OPS in 117 games. He had nine home runs, nine steals, and three triples. I always seem to find the triple stat the most interesting, since it seems like only a select number of hitters can get a triple, most of the team there needs to be speed involved.

*A quick note, David Ortiz is one of only three American League players to have at least one triple in each of the past eleven seasons…A stat that seems pretty remarkable.*

The Red Sox are going to start the season with essentially two holes in the outfield, right and left field. From various reports, it appears that right field is going to be platooned by Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ross, who are both deserving of the position, in my eyes at least. Left field is vacant because of Carl Crawford’s injury.

I think Darnell McDonald deserves to start in left field at the start of the season. Not only has he earned it based off his Spring Training, but he has been a member of this club for the past two seasons. He has the hot bat at the moment, it seems as well. I, for one, would like to start the season with a win, and I think McDonald can be one of those players who can carry the team at the start of the season.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Some Random Thoughts....

* My favorite part from the Red Sox-Yankees game last night was when the foul ball game into the stands. The fan caught the ball, threw it up to the commentator’s booth, Terry Francona quickly signed the ball and threw it back to the fan. Loved seeing that!

* My second favorite part of the game was Ryan Sweeney’s run scoring in the 9th off a suicide squeeze bunt by Repko. That play caused me to get more excited about this team than anything else I’ve seen in Spring Training. Over the years, the Red Sox haven’t played too much “small ball.” Valentine is known to make these plays, but Sweeney scoring to tie the game was very exciting. Kind of makes me want to buy a Sweeney shirt…. Maybe I’ll hold off on that just in case he gets traded.

* Pedroia wants to play after getting hit in the arm during the game last night. X-Rays were negative, and the official diagnosis was a “right arm contusion.” He has a bruise, and he wants to play. I guess in Spring Training you have the ability to be extra cautious, but it’s always nice to see a player WANTING to play.

* I know during Spring Training there are special rules when it comes to extra innings, but Giardi saying he “didn’t have any pitchers left” doesn’t make sense. Valentine said he counted seven pitchers more pitchers on the roster, six of whom could pitch. Valentine had a pitcher warming up in the bullpen, and the Red Sox took the field before anything was said about not playing 10 innings. But, the game was called a tie. Shouldn’t there be more lines of communication here? I don’t know if Giardi said something to the umpires prior to the Red Sox taking the field, but essentially, they made the Sox waste a pitcher. Not cool.

* Bobby Jenks was arrested for DUI and leaving the scene of an accident this morning. Reportedly, he was intoxicated when he left a gentleman’s bar and hit two vehicles in the parking lot. Jenks has only played in a handful of games for the Sox and is questionable for this season, so it’s hard to form some sort of huge disappointment reaction for this. Yes, I am disappointed; drinking and driving is not excusable. However, how many Red Sox “Jenks” shirts or jerseys do you see people having? Probably as many Lackey ones
there are.

* I wonder if Shoppach is going to be traded sometime this year. Salty seems to be doing well behind the plate, and Lavarnway is an exciting, young player that looks like he’s Major League ready. Is it a matter of time? Will he be a trade chip for a started  or relievers come the trade deadline?

* I had to pat myself on the back a little about my Bard as a closer article because the next day, there were reports that the Red Sox are seriously considering him being a reliever this year and going with Aceves and Doubront as the number 4 and 5 pitchers. At this point, it just seems to make a little more sense, since the bullpen is shaky.

* Is there a possibility that the Red Sox land a starting pitcher before the season starts? There’s still reports that the Red Sox are in contact with Roy Oswalt, they’ve been linked to Lannan from the Nationals, and there’s still a few less desirable free agents floating around. Valentine said the other night that he thinks the pitching is strong on the Sox, but isn’t it better to be stronger yet, especially in the AL East?

* So far this Spring Training, I’ve been pretty impressed with Aaron Cook. I think once he’s stretched out, gets some confidence in pitching in Triple-A, he’ll become a starting pitcher for the Sox. Or, he could become trade bait.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Should Be An Interesting Night Tonight

Tonight, the Red Sox take on the Yankees again. Last Tuesday, the Red Sox beat the Yankees 1-0, much in thanks to wonderful pitching performance by Felix Doubront. However, tonight’s game might be even more entertaining.

ESPN, NESN, and YES are all broadcasting the game tonight, which is set to starter at 6:05 Central time. Terry Francona is set to commentate for ESPN. While I know ESPN is going to get the most viewers tonight since they’re broadcasted throughout the country, I’d really like to know how many viewers NESN and YES will lose because of this. I’m guessing NESN will have less viewers than they typically would for a Red Sox game, since so many people are curious how Francona will do.

How will Francona discuss the Red Sox team in terms this year? Will he have more comments about what happened last year, his dismissal from the team, and his initial comments about Bobby Valentine? Will ESPN hold their chats with the managers of the game, like they usually do? Will we see Pedroia and Francona talking before the game (I hope so, since everyone knows they were/are close)?

Aside from the playoffs last year, this will be the first time I watch Francona as a commentator. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of ESPN in terms of their baseball coverage; I prefer MLBNetwork and their hosts of analysts, commentators, and personalities in general. I may still hold a grudge against ESPN when they got rid of Harold Reynolds as well.

I am very interested to see how Francona does, and I hope he does a great job. I like Francona a lot. While Valentine has opened my eyes to many things so far this Spring Training (both things that I like and don’t really care for), Francona was such a presence on the Red Sox for a long time. Players came and went, but Francona always stayed the same. He broke the curse, won two World Series, managed two no-hitters, and always seem to connect with the players and fans alike.

But like life, all good things must come to an end. Francona has moved on to ESPN, taking present-day Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine’s place, and vice-versa. Tonight will be a true test, for Francona, the Red Sox, and the fans. Francona’s handling of the game tonight will show exactly what kind of commentator he will become. The Red Sox will know that their former manager watches over them and will be making comments about their play and who knows what (it is his job now, afterall). And last, the fans will see someone they (well, most anyway) have respected for years taking over the reigns of a new adventure. Tonight should definitely be an interesting night all the way around.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Would Happen if Bard Became the Closer?

I’m not saying this is a possibility at all, since it’s been pretty well documented that Bard wants to start and the Red Sox are willing to give him that chance. While Valentine has said he’s not ready to commit to who will be the 4th and 5th starters (is this a sign that something is in the works by the Front Office?), it’s pretty obvious that Bard will be the number four starter. I also think he will do well with this role- more on that later.

However, the Red Sox bullpen is still full of question marks. Does Bailey have what it takes to be effective in the AL East? Will he remain healthy throughout the season? Will Melancon crumble or flourish? Who will fill in Aceves’ role if he becomes the 5th starter? Will Rich Hill make it back soon enough to have a dramatic (hopefully positive) impact on the team as a lefty specialist?

I could continue, but I will get to the point. There are more questions than answers with the bullpen right now. There are essentially three candidates to take over the fourth and fifth starter roles at this point- Bard, Aceves, and Doubront. You can argue that Padilla is there as well, but he just strained his right hamstring in the weight room two days ago. Aaron Cook could also be in the mix, but he still seems to be behind the other starters.

My thought was what if Bard became the closer, Bailey was the set-up man, and Melancon fill in for that vital relief spot? This would be much like Bobby Jenks was supposed to last year for Bard and Papelbon. Aceves and Doubront would become the starters then, and the bullpen would look much better, cleaner, and crisper.

Feelings aside, since Bard, Bailey, and Melancon have made their choice of roles on the team very apparent, this may be what’s best for the Red Sox. Bard was the “closer-in- waiting,” if you will, for years, being groomed by the Red Sox, and apprenticing behind Papelbon. Bard has been pretty much the most reliable reliever for the last two years for the Sox, minus his September troubles last year. There’s been questions raised about Bailey’s mentality and health, and Melancon has been a bit scary to watch in Spring Training. If all three took a step back from their desired roles, wouldn’t the Red Sox bullpen look more put together?

I’m not saying that these five pitchers can’t succeed in the roles I’m sure they’ll take over this year. Bard really has only had one bad outing this Spring Training, last Friday, when he gave up seven earned runs. I’m not holding that against him either because in a regular season game, there’s no way he would’ve gone out there after a rain delay. I’m trying to have confidence in Meloncon and Bailey in their roles; the truth is, I don’t really know too much about them other than what’s been said about them. I haven’t seen them play in a regular season game… maybe Bailey once or twice. Aceves and Doubront are essentially battling each other for the 5th starter spot as well.

I just wanted to throw out this “crazy” proposal about what I was thinking about while watching Bard pitch last night. Bard had one bad inning where he gave up three runs and worked very well in the other innings he pitched. I do think he will make a good starter, but I also think he would’ve been a great closer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ryan Sweeney, a Fellow Iowan

When the Red Sox traded Josh Reddick and two minor-league prospects for to the Oakland A’s over the winter for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney, I admit I was a little sad. Reddick was always one of those players I enjoyed watching and felt like he was on the verge of something, much like I felt with Justin Masterson before the Sox traded him to the Cleveland Indians for Victor Martinez. I liked Reddick, and I’m still a little sad to see him go.

When I look at the Reddick for Baiely and Sweeney trade, I keep scratching my head because I had no idea what Billy Beane was trying to accomplish here. Really, I’m not understanding many of Beane’s moves this year. I was convince when he traded away Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, and Trevor Cahill, I thought it was to get young talent, rebuild, basically continue doing what the A’s do. But, then they signed CoCo Crips to a 2 year/ $14 million deal, Cespedes to a 4 year/ $36 million deal, and Manny Ramirez to a 1 year, minor-league deal. Huh?

Anyway, when the Reddick- Bailey and Sweeney trade took place, I immediately looked up Ryan Sweeney on the internet. I knew I had heard that name before, and I was right. He was from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and graduated high school in 2003, same as me. I have a cousin who is my age, was drafted by the Kansas City Royals, and went to high school in Solon, Iowa… not too far from Cedar Rapids. I quickly texted his sister and asked if she remembered Ryan Sweeney from the Cedar Rapids team. Long story short, my cousin played against Ryan Sweeney in high school.

Fast forward to last week, and I was at my grandparents house trying to get their Blu- Ray player hooked up to watch MLB.TV. My grandpa started telling me how Ryan Sweeney could never hit off my cousin, in high school or while they played Rookie-ball in Arizona. I haven’t been able to back up that claim with the stats, but it’s interesting to think about.

This past weekend while I was doing some cleaning, I cam across the newspaper article that listed Iowa players drafted by Major League players in 2003, again because my cousin was drafted this year by the Royals. It showed that Ryan Sweeney was drafted in the 2nd round by the Chicago White Sox. If the opportunity ever comes up, I think it would be kind of cool to have Sweeney sign this.

While was I was trying to find that stats on Ryan Sweeney and my cousin, I came across and interesting article from The Globe Gazette about accomplishments and selected teams of the high school players in 2003. If you’re interested in it, here’s the link:

Ryan Sweeney was named the player of the league in his respected class, 3A, and was named the captain of the squad. He hit .489 as a senior for Cedar Rapids Xavier. This article was published on August 6, 2003. I also have to note something interesting as I scrolled through this article. Jeremy Hellickson, who is now in the Rays rotation, made the second team, 4A team as a sophomore for Des Moines Hoover. He was 6-1 with a .63 ERA. Last year with the Rays, Hellickson was 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.145 WHIP. Iowa has talent.

In 2007, Ryan Sweeney was listed as the Chicago White Sox top prospect, as ranked by Baseball America. In 2008, he was traded along with Gio Gonzalez and Fautino De Los Santos to the A’s for Nick Swisher. This year, Sweeney is said to be platoon-ing with Cody Ross in Right Field.

Sweeney’s career stats in six years in the Majors are: .283 BA, .342 OBP, .378 SLG, .720 OPS. I think given the chance, Sweeney could emerge as one of the good, surprise stories of the 2012 Red Sox. I always try to root for the Iowan (except for when they play against the Red Sox- like Hellickson- but I still want them to do well), and I think it’ll be fun to watch someone with ties to Iowa strive on the Red Sox.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Who Deserves to be the Opening Day Starter?

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Today, Bobby Valentine announced that Lester will be the Opening Day starter, and Beckett will start for the home opener against the Rays on April 13th. Arguably, both are deserving of being the Opening Day starter, but for the sake of debating, my brother and I discussed this yesterday. He was for Lester, and I was for Beckett.

First, I like Lester as much as I like Beckett. I’m not one of those Beckett-haters that have popped up over time, and I was as disappointed in both of their performances in September last year. I was elated when Lester threw his no-hitter against the Royals in 2008, and I was equally as happy when Beckett threw his one-hit shutout against the Rays last year. They are equals to me.

So yesterday, my brother informed me that he thought Lester would be the Opening Day starter. I also thought this, but I thought Beckett deserved it more after his season last year. My brother simply stated “the fans like Lester more.”

I agree with this; the fans love Lester. Heck, I’m even considering naming my next dog Lester (for the record, I have no intention of getting another dog anytime soon, and if it’s a female, her name will be Tessie). I think one of the reasons so many fans like Lester so much is he overcame so much (cancer) and has become one of the premier pitchers in the Majors.

Lester and Beckett are one of the best one-two punches in the American League, and possibly even the Majors; but based on statistics, I do think Beckett deserves the Opening Day starter position. Last year, Beckett had a 13-7 record with a 2.89 ERA; his WHIP was 1.026, the lowest of his career. Lester had a 15-9 record with a 3.47 ERA, and his WHIP was 1.257, his highest of the past three seasons.

Both Lester and Beckett were All-Stars last year. Beckett ranked 9th in Cy Young voting and was arguably the favorite for most of the season… until September. Based on their seasons last year, Beckett clearly had the better season.

If you factor in Spring Training so far (we’re about half way through at this point), Beckett is also appearing to be the stronger pitcher at this point. In 14.0 innings (4 games), he has a 1.29 ERA and a .79 WHIP. Lester’s line (while only appearing in 2 games thus far and 8.0 innings) is 3.38 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.

I’m aware that Spring Training stats are widely controversial, especially in the earlier games, because pitchers are working on certain pitches and not in their “competitive mode.” However, having watched both Beckett and Lester pitch this Spring Training, it appears Beckett has a slight edge on Lester. Beckett appears a little more comfortable.

Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe had some quotes from Valentine regarding the Lester-Beckett tandem. Here’s what Valentine had to say about the situation:

The No. 1 determinant was the conversation I had with Josh where Josh explained to me about starting pitchers and their Opening Day status or mentality or whatever and he thought Jon earned the job last year and didn't do anything to lose it.

So I said, 'You have a lot more knowledge of Opening Day starters and their mentality than I.' I saw the health of both of them and I figured it's an honor both ways, I think. Home opener and opener. So they're both getting an honor.

I think it’s really important to note that Beckett was the one who told Valentine that Lester deserved to be the Opening Day starter. Beckett’s been seen as the “leader” of the pitching staff for a few years now, and it’s nice to see him step up and show respect for Lester. Lester also appreciated this, as he said:

It means a lot. It’s nice to hear. Obviously, we’re good friends, and I know what he thinks of me as a person. But it’s nice to hear him tell other people. I think that’s what people don’t see from Josh. They think he’s kind of this hard ass stubborn guy that doesn’t care and I think he cares more than people think about his teammates and saying something like that means a lot.

Do I think Lester is deserving of the Opening Day starter role? Yes. I think he is a remarkable pitcher, and he seems to be becoming a leader in the clubhouse as well. I also agree with what Valentine said about it being an honor to be the opening day pitcher and the home opening pitcher. Again, I was just debating for the sake of debating with this post. Just interesting to look at the different sides. I guess we’ll get the best of both words, in a way.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cody Ross, Right Fielder

I'm watching the first inning of the Red Sox- Rays game right now.  It seems to be almost like a "futures" game, since many of the considered starters aren't playing today.  The Sox had split squad day games yesterday and a night game Friday night, so they're playing with an almost skeleton line-up right now.  Even so, the Sox are up 1-0 because of a home run by Cody Ross off top Rays prospect Matt Moore.

To say Ross has been impressive during Spring Training this year is an understatement.  Prior to today's game, Ross has hit .450 with 2 doubles and 1 home run (2 home runs at this point).  He has a .500 OBP as well, which even with a small sample size is impressive. 

Of course, we can't put too much faith into what equals half of Spring Training games.  But, Valentine has started to make cuts and re-assign players, which means the 40-man roster players will be playing more often and longer.  Since Ryan Sweeney has been sideline with a quad strain, Ross starting to emerge as the more likely right fielder.

I know there's been a lot of talk about Sweeney and Ross platooning in right field, especially after Crawford rejoins the team around the second week of the season, but I think Ross will become the right fielder for the season.  Darnell McDonald, who has also been having an impressive Spring Training, is the solidified 4th outfielder.  I do think there is a place for Sweeney on the team; and who knows, Ross might cool and Sweeney may have an incredible year.

At this point, though, I think Ross will be the right fielder.  He signed a 1 year, $3 million contract with the Sox in the offseason, and he seems to be really clicking the the Sox players.  When he was signed, the MLB Network analysts were saying that Ross has the personality for the Red Sox, and he really seems to be like a good guy.  He's always smiling, seems to have a great attitude, and he will be a great asset for the team this year.

Besides, he is wearing number #7.  For years, we, as Red Sox fans, have been accustomed to seeing #7 in right field-first with Trot Nixon, then JD Drew, and now, Cody Ross.  It just seems to make sense.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

It's Saint Patrick's Day, which means green uniforms, Irish last names, and green beer.  Sorry, not doing a big post today because of lack of news and stuff going on around the house.  So instead, please enjoy a picture of the Red Sox's Irish Pride with the line-ups today for the split-squad game.  (Have to see, a little torqued that NESN isn't carrying the St. Patrick's Day games.  Not right.  I'm wearing my green Varitek shirt, for the record).

Photo courtesy of

Red Sox (ss) at Orioles (ss)

RED SOX (7-4-1)
Darnell O'McDonald CF
Josh O'Kroeger RF
Kevin O'Youkilis DH
Adrian O'Gonzalez 1B
Ryan O'Lavarnway C
Pedro O'Ciriaco SS
Nate O'Spears 2B
Jason O'Repko LF
Jon O'Hee 2B

Pitching: RHP Aaron O'Cook, RHP Doug O'Mathis, RHP Will O'Inman, RHP Clayton O'Mortensen.

Game time: 1:35 p.m

Orioles (ss) at Red Sox (ss)
Jacoby O'Ellsbury CF
Dustin O'Pedroia 2B
David O'Ortiz DH
Cody O'Ross LF
Kelly O'Shoppach C
Nick O'Punto 3B
Mike O'Aviles SS
Lars O'Anderson 1B
Alex O'Hassan RF

Pitching: RHP Josh O'Beckett, RHP Ross O'Ohlendorf, RHP Junichi O'Tazawa, RHP Michael O'Bowden, RHP Brandon O'Duckworth.

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Some Questions I Have...

With three weeks left of Spring Training, I decided to do a post of questions I still have about the team. Some of these questions may be answered over time, while others will probably never be answered. Feel free to chime in…

1) Fenway Park turns 100 years old on April 12, 2012. Why didn’t MLB schedule a game to be played on this date? The Red Sox have an off-day then, and they play the Rays the next day for their home opener. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have the season opener on the 100th Anniversary of Fenway Park? I would think so.

2) Are the Sox fans going to lay off Crawford this year? Personally, I think part of Crawford’s problems stemmed from the pressure he was under last year. Sox fans had seen for years what Crawford could do, he started slow, and never fully recoverer If the fans can cheer for Lackey (a player I’m sure doesn’t have many Sox fans) when they found out his then-wife was battling cancer, I hope they can give Crawford the same courtesy.

3) Who’s going to be this year’s Daniel Nava/Ryan Kalish/ Josh Reddick? You know, the younger player who comes in a makes a big splash. Nava had his MLB debut be a grand slam, Kalish hit for power, and Reddick had his spurts of brilliance.

4) What is the personality of the team going to be like? 2004, we had the “Idiots.” 2007, was mostly professional players (aside from our closer putting a beer case on his head and Irish dancing around the field). 2011, we had the pitchers/catchers clique (sorry to bring it up again). 2012, we have some very entertaining (Ortiz, Pedroia, Ross) players, some players out to prove themselves (Crawford, Salty, Youkilis), and the players who are just seem to be there and play well without saying too much (Gonzalez, Ellsbury, Lester). Plus, you have to add in Valentine’s personality. I’m hoping it all works well for the team.

5) What will Andrew Bailey’s song be? I’ve been listening to a lot more Dropkick Murphys the past week because of St. Patrick’s Day coming up, and I’m starting to like the song “The State of Massachusetts” as a closer’s song. Could be an interesting possibility.

6) How many games will Valentine be ejected from? Ozzie Guillen was ejected from the Red Sox- Marlins game the other day, which I found a bit amusing. But really, Valentine’s kind of a spitfire as well. Plus, if he is ejected, will he try to come back into the game?

Photo courtesy of

7) Why isn’t NESN airing as many Spring Training games? And on a related note, why isn’t NESN airing the St. Patrick’s Day game? The Sox only wear their green uniforms one day a year!

So, those were just a few questions I had as we creep closer to the start of the season. Of course, there will be more questions than answers (like in life), but I’m beginning to be more excited for the season. Go Sox!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

So Far, I'm Impressed by Doubront

Just an aside, this will probably just be a short posting and the only one today. The Sox are off today, and I have some things I need to take care of later today. Plus, I want to get outside for a bit and enjoy the nice weather we’re having here in Iowa (it’s going to be close to 80 degrees today).

I didn’t get to watch the whole game last night because I had to help my grandma on her computer. From what I did watch, I was pretty impressed by Felix Doubront. In four innings of work, Doubront had to use 75 pitches, but he was effective. His line for the night was 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Not too shabby, especially considering A-Rod, Gardner, Martin, and Texeria were 2-for-8 against him last night. Doubront’s only hits were singles, so very little damage done.

So far this Spring Training, Doubront’s line is 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 0 HB, 4 BBB, 5 Ks. As time goes on and cuts are made, Doubront will be pitching more and longer. If his numbers keep up, I believe he has a great shot at making the Opening Day Roster.

As much as I respect Aceves and want to see him thrive as a starter, I’m really starting to think Doubront is going to be the fifth starter. Aceves is too good of a reliever, and the Sox don’t have many more options for the role that Aceves created for himself last year. The great thing about Aceves is Valentine can plug him into whatever role is needed: long relief, short relief, specialist, set-up, closer, and spot starter. Hopefully, they don’t waste him in a mop-up role even once.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Red Sox-Yankees Tonight

One of the best Red Sox-Yankees moments… Ellsbury steals home.
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The new chapter in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry starts tonight. Granted, Spring Training games don’t really count for anything besides seeing how your players are doing, making adjustments, and enjoying the nice weather in Florida or Arizona. However, tonight starts the new chapter, the Valentine chapter, if you will. Bobby Valentine likes to talk… and create controversy it seems. He’s already made some comments regarding his thoughts on the Yankees (see earlier posts about A-Rod and Jeter). He said he hates the Yankees before (both as a member of the Red Sox and when he was the manager of the Mets).

Personally, I do pay attention to the details whenever the Red Sox play the Yankees. There’s always going to be those wayward glances, a few comments, the fans jeering each other and the players. Do I think there is any greater significance in the games as they stand alone, especially in Spring Training? No. They’re fun, and there’s the history. But, there are all sorts of rivalries in sports.

I’ve had to deal with my share of Yankees fans. There’s an attorney who comes into my office at work every so often, sees my Charlie Chowdahead on my desk and my Red Sox mousepad, and will go off on a tangent as to how the Yankees are the greatest franchise in history. He’ll brag how he went to the White House when the Yankees were there. He even collects Yankees memorabilia.

In 2004, one of my good friends I worked with would walk around me saying “Go Yankees” (she grew up in New Jersey). Also, in 2004, my former boyfriend would wear Yankees hats just to piss me off (for the record, I said “former boyfriend” and he had no loyalty to any team. He wore hats based on their colors). Lucky for me (and all Red Sox fans), 2004 was a bright spot for the franchise.

As hard as it was last year to watch the Red Sox squabble such a lead in September and miss the playoffs, I think 2006 was the hardest year for me as a Red Sox fan. The Sox went 9-21 in August, and the kicker was the five game series against the Yankees… at Fenway Park. The Red Sox lost all five games.

At that time, I was working at Menards in Ankeny, Iowa, my job while I attended Iowa State University (don’t worry, I recovered. I’m a Hawks fan). My front-end manager was a big Yankees fan. By big, I mean HUGE! He was probably as much of a Yankees fan as I was a Red Sox fan. Anyway, he liked to rub that 5-game sweep into my face… a lot. I took it in stride though. My manager really was a nice guy, even if he was rooting for “The Evil Empire.”

Sometimes, it is fun to get wrapped up into the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. It’s a competition, even if it is more aimed at the fans these days. My dog, Fenway, even has a shirt that says “I Bite Yankees Fans.” When the Red Sox play the Yankees during the regular season, I will change my Facebook picture to the picture of Fenway wearing his shirt.

Tonight’s game should be interesting, even if it is just to see how Bobby Valentine reacts. I know he’ll want to psych his players and the fans up, but I don’t see the players getting worked into a tizzy over a Spring Training game. But, come April 20th, the first Red Sox-Yankees game of the season, I’m sure everyone involved will be worked into a tizzy. It’s just the way it goes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The New Green Monster (at Fenway South)

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If you’ve seen anything about the new Spring Training facility for the Boston Red Sox, you’ll know that jetBlue Park is pretty close to Fenway Park in most aspects. The dimensions are pretty much the same, there’s the triangle, and it has it’s own Green Monster. However, this Green Monster is even more unusual than the original.
The original Green Monster at Fenway Park is known for its high dimensions, manual scoreboard, green color, and recently, seats on the top. The wall at Fenway South has different variations of each of these four characteristics, except for the green color. The green color is the same at both.

The Green Monster at Fenway is 37 feet high; the new Monster is 43 feet high. The six feet difference isn’t that noticeable, but what is noticeable is the seating. The seating atop the Green Monster at Fenway debuted at the beginning of the 2003 season and is wildly popular. I’ve never seen a game from those seats, but I was up there during batting practice in 2005. They are tremendous!

The seating at Fenway South is a little different. Spectators have the option of either sitting within the Monster (in the “belly of the best,” if you don’t mind my pun) or on top of the Monster. There’s netting protecting the fans who are sitting inside the monster, which some could view as a nuisance, I suspect. It think it’s a good idea because when you’re sitting inside a wall, you’re not really expecting a ball to be hit at you. Besides, if a ball did get inside that opening, it would probably rattle back and forth and could cause a lot of damage.

The manual scoreboard at Fenway South is the same scoreboard that was used over three decades before at Fenway Park. The Red Sox had been keeping it in storage and brought it out to use at the new Spring Training Park. Even with a new stadium, the Red Sox stay true to their historical significance.

There is a downside to the manual scoreboard, though. Unlike at Fenway Park where the operators are in a small room within the monster, Fenway South doesn’t have that “luxury,” if you will. Instead, the scoreboards needs to be manually changed between each half inning or if there’s a “break” in play (i.e. pitcher change, injury, etc.). This could become very tiring, especially if a team (hopefully the Red Sox) get many hits and runs in an inning. Plus, there’s only a small opening for a window for the scorekeepers to watch the view, unlike the slots at Fenway Park.

One of my goals in life is to watch a game from on top of the Green Monster at Fenway Park (I’ll have to be very lucky to have this happen, since the best way of getting tickets is through a lottery). Another goal of mine is to make it to Ft. Myers for Spring Training one year. So, logically, I think a new goal of mine will be to sit “inside” the Monster at Fenway South. It really looks like a remarkable ballpark.

Crawford is Progressing

It’s being reported today that Crawford has begun throwing from 90 feet today and hopes to start swinging a bat again by mid-week. In case you missed it, Crawford was sidelined last week after experiencing inflammation in his left wrist, which is the one he had surgery on this past offseason. Crawford had said he wanted to be available for Opening Day, but that will not be happening now.

This weekend, Crawford was taking one-handed swings off a tee and was hoping to be cleared by the medical staff to take full-on swings. When he does start swinging the bat, Crawford will be monitored, according to Valentine. The goal is to get Crawford comfortable with swinging the bat without experiencing the inflammation again. It appears to be a steady progression for Crawford to be back in the line-up, but a goal date has not been announced.

I’ve said it before, Crawford will have a bounce-back season this year. He’s going to make a positive impact on this Red Sox team, and I think he will experience Red Sox Nation’s admiration rather than disproval, like he did last year. Crawford’s too good to have two down years in a row. We, as fans, have to remember that it was just two years ago that Crawford was running circles around the Red Sox when he got on base. I’m guessing he’s going to have at least thirty steals this year, probably more with the way Valentine likes his players to run the bases (see yesterday’s posting on the Red Sox steals this weekend).

I don’t want to throw out too many predictions before the start of the season, but I can see Crawford getting back to Gold Glove caliber fielding in left field again. Fenway Park is tricky, and while Crawford has played at Fenway numerous times before joining the Red Sox, it still takes some getting used to. I think all Crawford needs is confidence, and if he gets that back, he will be a force on this team.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What I've Seen From the Sox This Weekend

Between the games Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, there were definitely some mixed reviews.  Fridays game against the Pirates was plain ugly.  The score was a 7-4 Pirates win, but the Sox play like the game was even that close.  Buchholz, who was gave up 2 earned runs in three innings with three hits and one strikeout.  The good news was he didn't walk anyone, and he seemed to be fully recovered from his back issues from last year.  Vincente Padilla looked horrible, giving up four earned runs and five hits in two innings.  It was plain painful to watch him pitch. 

Offensively, the team was better.  Ortiz and McDonald hit home runs, and McDonald also had a double, along with Kroeger.  The team as a whole had twelve hits, and Ross and McDonald were the only ones with two hits.  Four people (Aviles, Ross, Butler, and Ciriaco) had steals, which I find really interesting.  Valentine is going to do a lot of unconventional (for the Red Sox anyway) things, and stealing looks like something the team is working on.  Over the years, it seemed like Ellsbury was the only real, consistant steal threat.  Looks like we have some things to watch this season.

Saturday night's game was much better, much cleaner, as the Red Sox shutout the Rays 5-0.  Bard and Aceves both went three innings, giving up two hits a piece.  Albers, Tazawa, and Mortenson each pitched an inning without giving up a run.  Tazawa looked especially strong, not giving up a hit but still walking two.

Offensively, things seemed to click a little better for the Red Sox.  McDonald (who is definitely giving a strong showing so far in Spring Training), Gonzalez, Youkilis, Anderson, Middlebrooks, and Kroeger each had a double.  The Rays had Wade Davis pitching, who went 11-10 last season with a 4.45 ERA.  Last night, he only went two and two thirds innings with a line of 3H, 4R, 4ER, 4BB, 2SO. 

Today, the Red Sox seemed to be firing on all cylinders with a 6-1 win over the Orioles.  Lester's line was 4.0IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 2SO.  Obviously, the walks are a bit alarming, but Lester was able to keep the damage to a minimum.  Another notabled pitcher, Aaron Cook, made his Spring debut.  He went 2 innings without giving up a hit but had 2 walks.  Worth taking a closer look at in the fututre, in my opinion.

Offensively, the Sox had eleven hits, mostly singles as only Pedroia and Hee had doubles.  What the Sox were good at this game was taking advantage of getting on base, whether by singles or the four walks they were given.  They only went 5-for-14 with runner's in scoring position, but that's definitely a good sign as it's still early with younger players still plaiyng a prominent role in the games.

I'm sure I'll have more interesting thing to write about this week, but I wanted to give an update with what I've observed over the weekend from watching the Sox.  Here's hoping for more good things coming out of Spring Training for the Sox!

Friday, March 9, 2012

I Think I'm Going to Like Andrew Bailey

When the Red Sox acquired Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney from the A’s for Josh Reddick and some prospects, I knew who Bailey was. I didn’t know too much about him other than he was the A’s closer, had good stuff, and had some injury issues. He seemed mellow, which was a stark difference from Jonathan Papelbon.

I posted yesterday regarding Papelbon’s comments about Red Sox fans compared to Philly fans. I won’t get into that. I just wanted to post Bailey’s comments on Red Sox fans (found on The Boston Globe website today):

Growing up a Phillies fan, they're great, too. But so far the Nation is pretty good. There's no reason to cause drama from my perspective. Your fans are the ones who go out and support you. For me, I loved them all ... The Red Sox have a very intelligent fan base.

(Bailey didn't know what Papelbon had said until this afternoon. He found it amusing.)

To say one fan base is better than the other, I've never really seen that. It's definitely welcoming to be here. This fan base has been awesome. Papelbon's got to do his own thing down there. He's got to embrace that fan base. I'm thankful to be here and I'm looking forward to the opportunity ... It's going to be fun.

If Bailey can close out the games for the Red Sox with success, I think he will be abreath of fresh air for the Red Sox fan-base. Bailey had a great response to Papelbon’s comments, even though the comments weren’t necessarily made to Bailey himself. Bailey was respectable to everyone, and I like that in a player. I’m looking forward to see how the Nation embraces Bailey.

Line-Up for Tonight's Game

The Sox play the Pirates tonight, and the game is going to be televised on the MLB Network at 6:05 Central time. So, as you may imagine, my plans for the night involve me, on my couch, watching the Red Sox game. I went on The Boston Globe website earlier today to see the line-up, and this is what I saw:

1. Aviles SS
2. Youkilis 3B
3. Pedroia 2B
4. Ortiz DH
5. Sweeney RF
6. Ross CF
7. Shoppach C
8. Anderson 1B
9. Kroeger LF

Pitching: RHP Clay Buchholz followed by RHP Vicente Padilla, RHP Chris Carpenter, LHP Jesse Carlson, RHP Will Inman.

At first, it appears to be a typical, Spring Training line-up, a mix of starters, reserves, and minor leaguers worth looking at. My first reaction though was Youkilis batting second. Huh?

Nick Cafardo has a section on The Boston Globe website where he answers readers mail and inquiries. One of the questions this past week was regarding whether or not Youkilis should bat lead-off because of his ability to get on base. Youkilis is “The Greek God of Walks,” after all. Here’s the question and answer from The Globe:

Is there any value in having Kevin Youkilis lead off for the Red Sox in 2012? Peter, Nobleboro, Maine

It's not a bad idea. Youkilis is a high OBP guy, so he would be in the mode of a Dwight Evans when he hit leadoff for the Red Sox. Valentine is going to do some interesting things with his lineup, he says. Youkilis has said in the past the one place he cannot hit in the order is leadoff. Valentine mentioned that he's going to try to shed players of this fear of the batting order.

Obviously, Valentine is doing some interesting things with his lineup. Youkilis is batting second while Pedroia bats their. Personally, I’d rather have Pedroia batting second because he has the better chance of getting on base and possibly producing a steal. Youkilis, while patient at the plate and able to foul off many balls in a row, isn’t exactly a base-stealing threat. Of course, these are just my opinions. Could be a fascinating game
tonight though.

I Am Officially on Twitter

Okay, I broke down and joined Twitter today. As of right now, I don’t have any plans on “tweeting.” I just joined to follow the Sox, players, MLB personalities, and a few other choice people (a few musicians and Jimmy Fallon at this point). I tried to follow my brother, and it said I was “forbidden.” I have no idea what that is about.

Honestly, I don’t see what the big deal is about Twitter. I haven’t found any tweets that I have immediately wanted to jot down. I had been considering doing a “Tweet of the Week” segment on the blog where I would put my favorite tweet, but I’m not convinced I’m even going to keep the Twitter feed open.

Maybe as the Spring Training stuff winds down and regular season games pick up, the Twitter-verse (that’s what it’s called, right?) will get more interesting. Plus, I could always follow some interesting people on Twitter that don’t have anything to do with the Red Sox (I’ve heard Ozzie Guillen is pretty interesting).

Also, I saw a re-tweet from Darnell McDonald (via Jacoby Ellsbury I believe) that Dustin Pedroia is thinking about joining Twitter. I can only imagine how entertaining that will be. So, as of now, I am on Twitter. I’ll see how much I enjoy it in the next week or so.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thank Goodness Pap Was Never One of My Favorites

It seems that the theme today is going to be former Red Sox players who were once very popular with the team. I took the above photo of former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon during a Red Sox game I went to in 2010, and I never thought I would use it in a post on this website. However, Papelbon is always full of surprises.

While perusing the internet today, I came across an article from Philadelphia’s local CBS news station regarding an interview Papelbon gave to a local radio station (if you must, here’s the link: fans-more-knowledgeable-than-red-sox-fans/ ) In the interview, Papelbon made some interesting comments:

The difference between Boston and Philadelphia, the Boston fans are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball. The Philly fans, I think they tend to know the game a little better, being in the National League, you know, the way the game is played. I’ve had a guy take of his prosthetic leg and throw it in the bullpen in Boston...

You hate ‘em [Yankees] when you play in between the lines. But there's a fine line here. That hate and that passion to beat them was in between the lines, and that was it. I would have definitely entertained the decision to go to the Yankees if that was there, but obviously it wasn't.

Really, Papelbon? Philly fans are better than Boston fans? I’ve heard from many outside sources that Boston and Philly fans are about the same in intensity… they are as intense as they come. There are reports of Philly’s fans overtaking Nationals home games, and it wasn’t too long ago that a Philly’s fan was tasered when he went onto the field during a game.  Also, wasn't it a Phillies fan who barfed on a young girl last year?

Papelbon was always a character (anyone remember this exchange two years ago when Papelbon was preparing for his second child? Papelbon's wife, Ashley, is pregnant with the couple's second child, a brother for toddler daughter Parker. The child is due in April. "Got a name picked out,'' Papelbon says. "Gunner Roberts." The significance? "Nothing, man. Just a badass name, so we went with it.'' ) (Here’s the link, if you want to go down memory lane:
columnist=edes_gordon&id=4803511 ).

As the title of this post eludes, Papelbon was never one of my favorite players. I liked him when he was on a hot streak, I found him entertaining at times, but he also caused a lot of frustration for me as a Red Sox fan, as I’m sure he did for many others.

When my family went on that trip to Boston in 2010, my relatives and I went to Yawkey Way and bought some things before a game. This game happened to be the game on August 3, 2010, which was voted the number one game of 2010 by NESN viewers, by the way. I bought a blue, Mike Lowell shirt and a red, Dustin Pedroia shirt that day. One of my cousins bought a Papelbon shirt and asked why I didn’t. I explained to her that I wasn’t expecting Papelbon on the team after the 2011 season. I guess I was right.

Does Johnny Damon Play This Year?

*Picture of Johnny Damon, some children, my Uncle Joe, and my dad in 2004

My dad went on a business trip to Boston in the summer of 2004. It was a pretty good trip for him because one of his brothers went with him, they were able to go to two Red Sox games, and he received Johnny Damon’s autograph. He brought me back a pink, Johnny Damon shirt. If you don’t know me very well, I hardly ever wear pink, especially pale pink. But, the shirt means a lot to me, as Johnny Damon was my favorite player at the time.

As we all know, Johnny Damon is no longer on the Boston Red Sox. He skipped town for the Yankees, then skipped the Yankees for the Tigers, and finally signed with the Rays last year. This year, however, Damon no longer has a team. Much has been said that Johnny Damon desperately wants to get to 3,000 hits (he’s at 2723 hits and has a good chance of making it to 3,000). There are reports that Damon has changed his swing to get more hits, not necessarily hitting for power or sacrifices when his team would need
him to. Damon has denied this. 

Damon doesn’t have a team thus far in 2012. There were only two teams this offseason that I heard multiple times were interested in Damon, the Orioles and Rays. It doesn’t appear that either team is going to sign him for this season though. In fact just today, MLB Trade Rumors had a quote from Dan Duquette, the Orioles GM:

I don't think so. I already signed Johnny Damon when he was 28.

Last year, at age 37, Damon hit .261 with 16 home runs and 7 triples. He also stole 19 bases, which is the most he’s stolen in the past three years. Scott Boras, who is either a great agent or a horrible one depending on who you talk to, is trying to find the right place for Damon and had this to say:

(Johnny Damon is) home, working out, waiting for the right team. Johnny Damon was about the third-best DH in the AL. I'm sure there's a lot of clubs that are looking at youth, and by the time spring training ends they may be looking at it differently.

Does Johnny Damon deserve to play this year? I think yes, based on his numbers from last year. However, the push seems to be for younger players, which Boras said. Damon would only truly benefit from playing in the American League, and those his prospects are quickly dwindling.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

David Ortiz, Translator

My youngest brother introduced me to, which I should’ve found on my own. As I’ve stated before, I’m not the biggest fan of ESPN’s baseball coverage or their analysts (sorry, Tito). I prefer MLBNetwork because of their VERY extensive coverage of all things baseball and their analysts (Harold Reynolds, Dan Plesac, Al Leiter, Billy Ripken, Kevin Millar, and I could go on and on).

Last night, my brother was telling me about a report on involving Pedroia and Francona. I checked that out today, as well as the other articles on the website. I am pretty impressed with this blog, and I intend to keep checking back to it.
While on the blog, I came across a story concerning David Ortiz and Vincente Padilla. Padilla is in the hunt for the fifth starting position and has been a successful starter and reliever in the past. However, he does have some “issues” that can make him less than desirable, such as the injury bug getting him (neck surgery, nerve damage, etc.) and some personal life issues (he was arrested in his native Nicaragua for not paying child support for his tenth child). So far, his pitching has been impressed many people, especially those who have written him off.

But this post is about David Ortiz, the translator. Ortiz stood in for translator for Padilla after Padilla pitched on Monday. When the reporter asked Padilla how he liked his translator with the Red Sox, Padilla said something in Spanish, which Ortiz translated as:

He says (hee hee). Tthat he's happy to have a Latin guy because when he was with the Dodgers, [the translator] was Japanese.

I believe having common ground with the people surrounding you is very important for chemistry. After all the reports that were written at the end of the season last year, it was clear the Red Sox were not cohesive enough as a team. It seemed the pitchers kept to themselves, and there definitely were little clicks that stayed together.

Now, not every team is going to appear as together as the 2004 “Cowboy Up/ Idiots” or whatever they called themselves (I believe they called themselves the “Idiots” and Kevin Millar dubbed “Cowboy Up” their official slogan). But, in order to play well on the field, I do think the team needs to “play well” off the field as well. I’m not asking for them to sit around a campfire and sing Queen’s “We Are the Champions” like on “D2- The Mighty Ducks,” but there has to be some common ground.

The fact that David Ortiz, the arguable “star” of the Red Sox team, sat down and translated for Vincent Padilla is a refreshing sign. Ortiz appears to be about the team, and he took time away from himself and whatever else he made had going on to help a teammate with interviews. Whether someone like Bobby Valentine asked Ortiz to do this or not, Ortiz didn’t have to translate anything for Padilla. I’m starting to think that this team may be coming together. Of course, Ortiz also had to put in his own plug during the

They should give me an extra $10 million for this.

Maybe not an extra ten million dollars, Ortiz, but they should definitely think about this when your contract is up at the end of the year.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Some Random Thoughts...

* Carl Crawford has been shut down for the next 5-7 days because of inflammation in his wrist. As stated in a previous post, Crawford was trying to come back from wrist surgery by Opening Day. It seems that this won’t be happening; and currently, there is no timetable for Crawford’s return.

* I loved this exchange that Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe wrote about regarding Youkilis:

The Red Sox infielders were taking grounders on Field 2 this morning when a kid who looked to be 10 or 11 yelled out, "Hey, Youk, give me a ball."

Kevin Youkilis looked up and said, "What's the right way to ask?"

Chagrined, the kid said, "Can I please have a ball?"

Youk tossed the kid a ball.

"Don't ever forget that for the rest of your life," he said.

"Thanks," said the kid.

It’s nice to see athletes being positive role models for children.

* Carlos Silva was scratched from his start tomorrow for “shoulder inflammation” and is no longer in the running for the fifth starter position. It’s supposedly a major issue too because his long-term future is “being discussed.”

* As I’ve mentioned before, Valentine seems to have more energy on the Red Sox, which is probably a good thing. In an article in The Boston Globe this morning, it was reported that Valentine wakes up around 5:00 every morning goes on fifteen-mile bike rides before reporting to field, and allows himself one cup of coffee. My only question is HOW? I also wake up at 5:00 in the morning and drink one cup of coffee before work, but there’s no way I could do that PLUS a FIFTEEN-MILE BIKE RIDE before reporting to work. And mind you, I sit at a desk pretty much all day.

* If you have an iPhone, iPad, or Android, I highly recommend the At Bat app. If you already have MLB.TV Premium package (which I do), the app is free; otherwise, I think it’s like $14.99 for the season. Last night, I was able to watch the game on my iPhone while on the treadmill. Today, I listened to the commentary of the game on my way back to work at lunch. There’s also news, highlight reels, Gameday action, and a ton of other information.

"(Shipping Up To Boston) That's the Closer's Song"

For those who don’t know, I’m a big fan of Dropkick Murphys. I was able to go to one of their concerts last year in Des Moines, Iowa with my cousin, Amy. Great concert, great time. I even met my first and only Rays fan there. The reason why I like Dropkick Murphys so much is their music just seems to motivate me to get up and go, and I love the fact that they play a wide range of instruments. Seriously, guitars, drums, and basses are normal, but banjos, accordions, and bag-pipes are something special. The photo above was taken at the Dropkick Murphys’ concert last year.

Dropkick Murphys are not strangers to the Boston-sports world. Besides “Shipping Up To Boston” being played every time Papelbon took the field for a close, “Tessie” was also played during home Red Sox games. “The Warrior’s Code” was written for Mickey Ward (if you watch “The Fighter,” the live version of the song is played). “Time to Go” is about the Bruins and the fight for a Stanley Cup (written and recorded before last year’s triumphant season). Numerous Boston sports icons appear in the video for “Going Out in Style,” like Kevin Youkilis, Bobby Orr, and Mickey Ward, to name a few.

Anyway, for the past five years, Papelbon has used Dropkick Murphys’ song “Shipping Up to Boston” as his walkout music. I’ve already touched on an earlier post how Bailey’s considering Boston-based bands for his walkout music. Obviously, Papelbon can’t use “Shipping Up to Boston” in Philadelphia.

During an interview with ESPN Radio (evidently, there is such a thing. Here’s the link to the website with this article: ), Ken Casey, the frontman for DropkickMurphys, said the following:

He (Papelbon) can't use 'Shipping Up To Boston.’ That's a Boston song. One of the Philadelphia radio guys suggested 'Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya.’ And I have to get with the new Sox closer [Andrew Bailey] to let him know he can use 'Shipping Up To Boston.’ That's not Pap's song. That's the closer's song.

A set closer’s song? For some reason, I kind of like that idea. Of course, it would be up to the closer whether or not to use the song, but I like the idea of “Shipping Up To Boston” being the Red Sox closer song, no matter who’s closing. It might be too soon after Papelbon’s departure to actually use the song because let’s face it, Papelbon made the song his:

Who could ever forget the infamous “Irish Jig” dance? Plus, there’s the fact that he did it after winning the World Series. In fact, I recall watching a NESN program where they interviewed random people on the Boston streets and asked them to do “The Papelbon.” It was hilarious!

So, we’ll see if Ken Casey persuades Andrew Bailey to use “Shipping Up To Boston” as the official closer song, or maybe another Dropkick Murphy song. Again, I kind of like the idea of having the song an official Red Sox song. Plus, it’ll give the Fenway workers running the sound one less thing to worry about during games.

Monday, March 5, 2012

4 In '04

These days, I feel like I’m surrounded by more Cardinals fans than Cubs fans. I don’t know if Cards fans remain dormant until their team does well or if there’s an abundance of “front runners” living in my hometown. But, either way, Cardinals fans are a plenty.

One of the guys I work with is a Cardinals fan, and he is one of those Cardinals fan who enjoys the team year in and year out. Last year, around mid-September, I made a wild prediction to him. I said the Cardinals will make the playoffs and the Red Sox will not, which happened. When the playoffs started, I told him the Cardinals will win the World Series, and he didn’t believe me. Well, I was right again.

My co-worker isn’t one of those people who rubs wins/losses in other people’s faces, which is nice. We, as well as our boss who used to be a Cubs fan and is now claiming the Pirates are his team to watch, have nice, intellectual conversations about baseball.  We discuss teams, players, politics, games, etc. It’s great.

However, every now and then the term “4 in ‘04” comes out… and it’s not usually from me. We’ll talk about the 2004 World Series and how that term, “4 in ‘04” means something different to either of us (me being the Red Sox won the World Series in four games, he being the Cards were swept in four games). It’s all about momentum, really.

The Sox had the momentum in 2004; the Cards had the momentum in 2011. Late last week, I changed my background desktop on my work computer to the following picture:

This picture was to commemorate Varitek. For the record, I have also used this picture as a background as well:

Well, my co-worker saw my desktop today and quietly said “4 in ’04.” For me, the picture makes me smile. The Sox finally won the World Series, Varitek became Captain shortly afterwards, and Arroyo had cornrows. I might switch my background from time to time; but for the moment, it’s going to be this shot of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.

Starting to Turn a Corner

Yesterday, I was able to watch my first Spring Training game of the season (for the record, the Sox had only played one “B” game last week and two exhibition games on Saturday). The Red Sox played the Twins yesterday in the first of six games against their “Mayors Cup” rival. While we had snow on the ground in Iowa, it looked warms and pleasant at JetBlue Ballpark (aka “Fenway South.”)

For the past three years, it seems like whenever the Red Sox are done playing (in the past three years, it’s after game 162, no playoffs), I need a little time to unwind from the baseball stuff. Typically, I’m frustrated by how the Sox have finished the season, especially last year. For the record, I went to bed during the rain delay in the on the final night of the regular season only to be woken up by my brother telling me the Red Sox lost and the Rays won.

With all the drama that happened at the end of the Red Sox’s season last year, I really wanted to put baseball behind me for a bit. I couldn’t, however, because Epstein skipped town to the Cubs and left behind him a mess that desperately needed to be cleaned up.

This was really hard to take because for years, I always thought Epstein would remain with the Red Sox because of the loyalty he felt for the team. After all, Epstein grew up a Red Sox fan and dreamed of working for the team.

My youngest brother’s favorite part of baseball is the offseason, and I’m pretty sure he would be a good general manager, if he ever desired to pursue that career. This offseason was a little atypical for the Red Sox though because they didn’t go after any of the “premiere” free-agents like Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, or even Jonathan Papelbon. The Red Sox spent money last offseason; but this offseason, it seemed they were concentrated on doing smaller moves, like the trades for Melancon and Bailey.

Anyway, back to the game yesterday. As I watched the Red Sox play yesterday, I got this strange, unknown feeling. For years, the Red Sox pretty much had their rosters set before Spring Training started; this year, not necessarily the case.

Cody Ross hit two home runs in an exhibition game Saturday; one of those home runs was a grand slam. He would seem like the right fit for Right Field, but there’s talk of Ryan Sweeney and him platooning in the position this year. Hopefully, Sweeney plays today (line-ups have not been confirmed at the time of writing this post). It’s been said the Red Sox are trying to work on Sweeney’s power numbers, and I’m interested to see what he has going for him.

Lars Anderson, the former number one prospect for the Red Sox, also hit a grand slam yesterday against the Twins. From reports I’ve read so far this Spring Training, Anderson is starting to live up to his hype. Granted, it’s too early to say, but it is exciting to see that he’s doing well so far.

Where the “unknown” for Anderson lies is what the Red Sox are going to do with him? Anderson plays first base; the Red Sox have a great first baseman in Gonzalez and a very good backup first baseman in Youkilis. Does this mean Anderson is “trade bait?” If so, how much could someone like Anderson bring in? Also, it seems like so many teams have that power bat at first base (i.e. Pujols, Fielder, Votto, Texiera, etc.).

The situation at shortstop is interesting too. It’s been said countless times that Iglesias has the defense down but needs to get his offensive number up. Both Iglesias and Aviles seem to be swinging a hot bat so far (again, it’s really too early to tell but interesting to think about). Punto will most likely be utility man, but who would the Red Sox rather have at short? Iglesias or Aviles?

The fifth starter is also interesting to think about. Vincent Padilla’s stuff is said to be “nasty” (for those who aren’t keen on pitching terminology, “nasty” is a good thing). He’s going to pitch tonight versus the Twins, and I really can’t wait to see what he has. There’s still Aceves to think about as well, and MLB Trade Rumors is saying that the Red Sox are still pursuing Oswalt. All of this is really interesting, especially given the fact that Matsuzaka is throwing really well while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and trying to get back to the Majors in June.

So, the “turning the corner” is really referencing me and the excitement I’m feeling about the season. I’m excited to see what this team really has and how Valentine is going to do as a manager (notice, I didn’t even reference Valentine in this post though I could go on about how impressed I am with him this Spring Training as well). I’m “turning the corner” to embrace this team that I once thought had more questions than answers because really, maybe having so many questions is a good thing for this team.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What We Have to Go Through In Order to Watch the Red Sox

I think I've mentioned it in the past, but in order for people in the Midwest to watch most Red Sox games, they have to purchase either MLB.TV or MLB Extra Innings.  MLB.TV runs on a computer, iPhone, iPad, XBox, Playstation 3, etc.  MLB Extra Innings is through DirecTV.  Either one costs money.

Two years ago when Extra Innings was being advertisded on the MLBNetwork, I thought of a better solution than paying all the money for every game (within blackout conditions); I would just buy the NESN channel.  Unfortunately, that didn't work.  Every program besides games was broadcasted on this channel.  It was nice to get the extra information through their sports' news programs, but that's not what I thought I was getting.

I ended up purching MLB.TV.  Every night, I hooked my computer up to the television, and I watched the games with the NESN commentators.  My only gripe was when the Sox would play the White Sox, Twins, Royals, Cubs, Cardinals, or Brewers; those games were blacked out because of "regional coverage."  For the most part, I was able to find the games against either Chicago team, but the other teams were more tricky.  I ended up either listening to the games on WEEI's broadcasting and/or watching the Gameday graphics on the computer.

This year, my grandparents wanted to do the MLB.TV as well.  This was going to be challenging because while they just had wireless internet put into their home, they don't own a laptop and their computer isn't in a room with a television.  I knew they wouldn't be keen on watching the games on their computer.  So, I was asked to get creatvie.

My youngest brother and I had a few conversations about what the grandparents actually needed.  We thought about getting them a converter box (which I have to watch NetFlix), an XBox (note- games on XBox Live will not be available until March 20th), or a Blu-Ray player.  The XBox was immediately eliminated because while we thought if they gave the Kinect a chance, they might actually like it, my grandparents aren't people who would actually use this device.  We were now between a converter box and a Blu-Ray player.

My grandparents own a DVD player but rarely use it.  They have a DirecTV receiver box as well.  So, my brother, dad, and I thought a Blu-Ray player would be their best choice because it would be one less box for them to have/use.  My dad and I went to Best Buy yesterday to pick one out.  I won't go into too much detail here, but it was clear that one of the salesmen we talked to thought the converter box would be the best way to go while the other salesmen, who we think was the manager, thought the Blu-Ray player would be best.  We went with the Blu-Ray player.

My dad and I took the Blu-Ray player over to my grandparents yesterday, and they were immediately amazed by how slim the player was (compared to their DVD player, which is now in their basement).  Friday, I sent my grandma an email explaining all the features and restrictions of MLB.TV so she would be able to print it off for a reference.  She seemed a bit confused.

I then explained to my grandparents that MLB's contract with their Blu-Ray player wouldn't start until mid-March, and this would be the time when they'd be able to start watching games.  Of course, this confused them.  I also explained that they would have to I told them my youngest brother would come by when he was on Spring Break to hook up their Blu-Ray player, register the player online, download the app, and show them how it would work.  They both gave me blank stares as they said "okay."

Now, I'm sure once everything is hooked up and going, my grandparents will really like their Blu-Ray player and MLB.TV on it.  My grandpa, in particular, will love watching the majority of the games this season.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly in my grandparents' transition to this new technology.