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Monday, April 30, 2012

What to Do with the Pitching?

Clay Buchholz is making his fifth start tonight. Surprisingly, he is 2-1, but his ERA 8.87 (it has gone down!) and his WHIP is 1.925. He’s given up 33 hits, 23 runs (22 earned runs), 6 home runs, walked 10, while striking 11 in 22.1 innings. Needless to say, Buchholz needs to pitch well tonight.

I may be undeservingly hard on Buchholz, but I think most people are. He’s shown great stuff in the past, pitched a no-hitter on his second career Major League start, won a World Series when he was only 22. Just two seasons ago, he went 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA, a 1.203 WHIP, and was sixth in Cy Young voting. We as Red Sox fans know Buchholz has what it takes to pitch in the AL East and help lead this Red Sox fans, so it’s understandable when we get frustrated while we watch him struggle this season.

In Buchholz’s defense, he was out for almost half the season last year with a back injury, and it will take some time to adjust to pitching every fifth day again. He’s had to go from being a fourth or fifth starter to a third starter, completing “The Big Three” of the Red Sox. Maybe he wasn’t ready this year.

And this brings me to the question I have, what to do with the pitching? Aaron Cook is ready to hit the Majors, patiently (or not so patiently perhaps) waiting in Pawtucket. With a May 1st opt-out clause, the Red Sox need to make a decision. In five games with Pawtucket, Cook is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA and 1.110 WHIP in 33.1 innings. He’s given up 26 hits, 9 runs (7 earned runs), 1 home run, walked 11 while striking out 13.

There’s been some talk about having Cook be used as a relief pitcher, that way the Red Sox wouldn’t lose their hold on the pitcher. Cook’s had some problems in the Majors, with a lifetime 4.53 ERA and 1.691 WHIP. But, it’s important to point out that Cook has spent his entire career prior to this year with the Colorado Rockies. The ball travels differently in Colorado, as we all know since they use the Humidor.

Another thing that’s important to point out is Matsuzaka is heading to Pawtucket to continue his rehab assignment. While Matsuzaka didn’t do too well in High-A Salem, in four innings he had a 6.75 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, gave up 6 hits, 3 runs, 2 home runs, while striking out 3 and walking 0, he seemed to do better in Double-A Portland- 4.2 innings, 1.93 ERA, 1.071 WHIP, 3 hits, 1 run, 0 home runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts.

Of course, this is just a small sampling from Matsuzaka, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Matsuzaka has been such an enigma since he’s come to the Red Sox, that we’ve all come to expect a great pitched game followed by a horribly pitched game. But, maybe Bobby Valentine can be the different for Matsuzaka?

So, the Red Sox have some options that they need to consider. Do they keep sending out Buchholz if he continues to pitch the way he does? If not, do they try Aaron Cook as a starter while ushering Buchholz to Triple-A for an injury or “injury?” If they keep with Buchholz, do they use Cook as a reliever? And, what happens when Matsuzaka does finally return?

* If you haven’t noticed, I’m currently in the process of tagging all of the previous posts (there are over 80 of them!). I’m not sure how long this will take, as I have a few things going on that may prevent me from getting them all accomplished in one setting. I hope this is an improvement that people enjoy!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Seriously, Valentine?

I've decided to start a series of posts called "Seriously, Valentine?"  In these, I will question Valentine's decisions/comments/actions/etc.  This is not to say that I don't think Bobby Valentine is doing a good job as manager (honestly, I still think it's too early to tell either way).  I just thought it would be an interesting segment of posts.

In today's enstallment of "Seriously, Valentine?" is Valentine's decision to pinch-hit Darnell McDonald for Ryan Sweeny in the eighth inning.  Yes, McDonald had a good game on Friday; and yes, Sweeney did not have a hit in today's game (for the record, there were only three Red Sox hits; no one was hitting).  But, why would anyone pinch-hit someone who is batting .147 (McDonald) for someone who is hitting .373 on the season (Sweeney)?  Pinch hitting a cold bat for a hot bat is not a good idea.  McDonald struck out for Sweeney.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Twitter-Mania!!!


As I’ve mentioned before, I joined Twitter, but only to follow Red Sox news (and a few other people/groups). It seems to be the fastest way to get information today, so I caved and joined. As one of my brothers told me this past weekend, since I don’t “tweet,” I’m a lurker and a creeper. So be it then!

Honestly, I don’t find any thrill in broadcasting over the internet/phone every little thing that happens in my life. I probably only post on Facebook 2-3 times a week, and one of those times is on the weekends when I link up the blog to Facebook. But, on the other hand, I have no problem reading “tweets” from other people!

(Just on a side note, I found out recently that the Twitter bird logo’s name is Larry. As in Larry Bird.)

So, for a fun, Friday post, I decided to repost some of the tweets regarding the Red Sox. As a note, not all players are on Twitter. Without further adieu, here are this week’s tweets:

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal
#Tigers averaged 8.7 runs first 3 games against #RedSox. In 16 games since, 3.3. Seventh in AL, behind Bos, Tex, NYY, Cle, TB, Tor.

MLB @MLB
The Red Sox broadcasters spent about a minute last night debating whether mittens have fingers: atmlb.com/JKaq1k

MLB @MLB
Felix Doubront went for the hug. Jarrod Saltalamacchia went for the handshake. Awkward: atmlb.com/lvsUQ4

Red Sox Tweets Info @RedSoxInfo
Middlebrooks earns Player of the Week nod- MLB.com, atmlb.com/IwAyr2 #RedSox

David Ortiz @davidortiz
Good morning everyone beautifull day in Chicago ready to start a 4 game serie with the WS here we go again...go sox34 (*I did not make those typing errors.)

Kelly Shoppach @ShopHouse10
Lou Brown: “If we win one today, that’s two in a row. If we win one tomorrow, that’s
called a winning streak. It has happened before…”


Jacoby Ellsbury @JacobyEllsbury
Nice win to start road trip! 2 huge home runs from @IamCodyRoss

Kevin Millar @KMillar15
Sully from Godsmack enjoying a day off at the house #boysclub #voodoo pic.twitter.com/iHhS7BTG(Yes, I am a Sully Erna/Godsmack fan. I find it interesting that Millar is wearing a Cubs shirt though- Sully is representing Boston though. Here’s the pic:)



Ryan Sweeney @RyanSweeney12
Man it’s great to be back in the Midwest in chi town and hang out with our friends. Family is coming in tomorrow can’t wait! (**Ryan Sweeney did not start in tonight's game.)

Adrian Gonzalez @adriangon28
Great win for us tonight, before I forget tmorrow, just want to wish the Bruins another game 7 series win.

And my favorites of the week:

Mike Aviles @Themikeaviles
So I get in the cab to the field and the cabbie asks me how to get to US Cellular? Should be a fun ride! #adventure (***Before Thursday's game)

Mike Aviles @Themikeaviles
So yesterday I thought I'd get in the cab, I was wrong its today we get lost!!  How hard is it to know the city you're a cabbie in?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

David "Big Papi" Ortiz

Has anyone else noticed that Ortiz seems to be having more fun this year? I don’t know if it’s because he’s feeling better physically (he reportedly lost 25 pounds in the off- season), hitting better (he currently leads the AL with a .424 batting average), or trying to keep the mood up in the clubhouse. Whatever it is, I hope Ortiz stays with it.

David Ortiz has always been one of those players that seem to embrace the fans of the game. He’s not afraid of giving hugs (he is known as “Big Papi” afterall), smiles, handshakes, etc. to the public. This season, he just seems to be lighting up more, and his bat is showing it as well.

I wrote in a post a few weeks ago how Ortiz tried to steal second, something we would’ve never seen under Terry Francona’s watchful eye. It made a little sense though because if the other team had to hold Ortiz on first base, there is more of a window for the batter to hit the ball through. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see an Ortiz steal a base this season. In the words of “Angels in the Outfield,” “It could happen.”

This offseason, Ortiz was faced with the reality that his cholesterol was high. Rather than go on medication, Ortiz was decided to eat better and workout more to control it. The result was him losing 25 pounds, being down to 250.

I have defended Ortiz’s weight to many, MANY people over the years. So many people think that he’s out of shape and can’t play the game anymore (mind you, many of these remarks came when Ortiz was struggling at the plate). But really, Ortiz looks to be in better shape than a lot of the “superstars” of the game.

Ortiz is listed as 6’4” and 250 pounds. Miguel Cabrera, who many consider one of the best players in the game, is listed at 6’4” and 240 pounds. That’s only a ten pound difference. Ryan Howard is listed as 6’4” and 240 pounds as well. Prince Fielder is listed as 5’11” and 275 pounds. CC Sabathia is 6’7” and 290 pounds (I know, he’s a pitcher, but Ortiz is a DH).

Of you look at these other “superstars,” Ortiz seems about average in that group. Yes, he could probably afford to lose a few more pounds, but couldn’t we say the same for any of us? My point is, has always produced, but now that he’s a healthier, he’s going to make people realize that he’s not going anywhere.

And speaking of not going anywhere, Ortiz took a one-year/ $14.5 million deal with the Red Sox this offseason. He said he offered to play for a two-year/ $25 million contract, but the Red Sox refused. If Ortiz continues to play the way he has the last three weeks, the Red Sox management/owners are going to be kicking themselves. Ortiz said:

I told them last year, ‘You should sign me now because I’m going to have a great year, and it’s going to cost you money.’ I told them the same thing this year.

Ortiz is also hitting the ball the other way more often, causing some teams to reconsider going with the shift to right field. The other night, he hit a ball down the third base line, which is something you wouldn’t have seen last year very often. But, Ortiz doesn’t seem to care how the other team defends him. He told The Boston Globe:

I don’t even care about the shift anymore. When they do it, they’re going to pitch me a certain way, but I know they’re going to give me one pitch on the outside part of the plate, and that I try to drive to the opposite field. And if I keep doing that, they’re going to pitch me in, in, and more in, and that’s fine with me, too.

Besides Ortiz’s great contributions on the field, he does many things off the field as well. He has the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which helps children in need from Boston to his home country of the Dominican Republic. He is also a contributor to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Josh Beckett Foundation, and The Mark Wahlberg Youth Fund, on top of all the other things he does within the Red Sox organization.

On top of all that, another reason to love Big Papi is he really is a comedian. He’s done two commercials now that have literally caused me to laugh out loud. Please find the links below to these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0iR05lYy1g
The famous ESPN commercial with Wally and Jorge Posada

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmqND3OKJyw
The new Majestic commercial “Wear Your Hero”

And one of my all-time favorite sports commercials/segments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhriSwt11_k
The MLBFanCave segment where he wins over the Yankees fans… because really, who wouldn’t want a hug from David Ortiz?

It think we can all get behind a player like Big Papi, especially with the way he’s been playing….

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Red Sox Win Their First Back-To-Back Road Games Since August 2011

It pangs me a little to even write that headline. The last time the Red Sox won consecutive road games was August 23rd-25th, 2001 against the Texas Rangers. That seems like a lifetime ago.

I usually don’t like to express team stats as they go into the previous season, but I had to throw that one out. For some reason, it seems like someone has been playing with a Voodoo doll in the likes of the Red Sox team. They couldn’t catch a break… until now possibly.

I’m convinced that the Red Sox need to work as a team, rather than having a few players carry them. This should seem logical for baseball, but it’s not always the case. So many times, it seems like the Red Sox rely on a player to remain clutch (last year, it seemed like Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez were those players, the year before, Adrian Beltre). Of course, Pedroia and Ortiz are just asked to be consistent… consistently productive.

Again, last night’s game looked like a legitimate team effort, much like the game before. Here’s a look at the Red Sox’s portion of the Boxscore:



All of the starters had at least one hit, besides Cody Ross who at least had an RBI. Aviles hit 4-5 in the lead-off spot, including two doubles and a home run. Ortiz went 2-4 with a home run and 3 RBIs. Youkilis and Byrd, the two players who offense every fan wished would start to pick up, each had two hits.

I admit, I thought things were going to get a little shaky for Beckett in the first inning. He walked in a runner, after all. But, Beckett strapped down, and went six innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, and striking out 5, and didn’t give up a home run. His ERA is 4.56, which is steadily getting lower.

The thing I think so many people need to realize with Beckett is it seems like he always has the one game early on in the season when he’s just not locked in. He’ll give up those runs, but he fights back. I don’t know if people think of him as the pitcher with the bad attitude who seems like it doesn’t care or what, but I’ve always admired Beckett when he pitches. He’s out there to win, and people can tell when watching him.

The relievers last night, Atchison and Albers, also did well. Atchison went 2 innings and gave up no hits while striking out 3. His ERA is now 1.54. Who would’ve thought that Atchison would be one of most dependable relievers this season (to this point, at least)? Albers also did well in one inning, only giving up a hit and no runs. His ERA is a respectable 3.38 in this early part of the season.
Here’s some things to ponder:

* Ortiz is batting .444 at this point of the season, and it seems like he’s heating up even more. In the past seven games, he’s hitting .550 (11/20) with 2 home runs, 2 doubles, 5 RBIs, and 2 walks. He had his fourth-straight multi-hit game and has 28 hits this season, the most he has ever had in April (he had 21 in 1998 and 2001).

* Mike Aviles seems to be a suitable lead-off hitter. So far this season, he’s hitting .333 with a .932 OPS. I hate to say it so soon, but maybe after Ellsbury returns, Aviles stays as the lead-off? Move Pedroia to 2nd, Ellsbury to 3rd, and so on. Also, makes you want to say Marco who, right?

* Technically, the Red Sox are only three games back in their league in the loss column.  The other teams are 10-7.

* Carl Crawford is scheduled to have his elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews... hopefully for reassurance, but you can never be so certain when it comes to Red Sox injuries.

* Rich Hill could possibly be promoted to the Red Sox bullpen this weekend. He pitched a scoreless inning last night for Pawtucket and is scheduled to pitch again tonight. If he does well on back-to-back games, he should be ready to go.

* Also wanted to note that I checked my stats on the blog today, and it was viewed 19 times in one hour yesterday. Whoever is reading the blog, I just wanted to say thank you.

Here’s hoping the Red Sox can keep on this encouraging path!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Some Tidbits

* Ellsbury reportedly has better range of motion in his injured shoulder. He is no longerwearing a sling, but instead is wearing a brace. He is on the road trip with the team.

* Seems like Pedroia may have found a substitute for the backgammon he used to play with Francona before games. Before yesterday’s game, he was in a fierce round of “Words With Friends” with Adrian Gonzalez. While Gonzalez won the game yesterday, Pedroia leads the season series. I think this is good to see; builds team chemistry.

* Crawford went 0 for 3 yesterday in extended Spring Training as DH. Matsuzaka gave up 3 runs in 2 innings in Single-A Salem last night; he was clear to pitch 80 pitches however. Aaron Cook gave up 1 run on 8 hits in 7 innings last night in Triple-A; he is now 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA.

* When I was checking to see how Cook did in Triple-A, I was surprised to see Reid Brignac’s name in the Ray’s Triple-A line-up. If you recall, Brignac was the one who fell on top of Ellsbury to cause Ellsbury’s shoulder injury.

* The Red Sox are now 5-10 after their win against the Twins last night; they had the same record last year at this point. If you recall, the team then was the hottest team in baseball… until September.

* Besides a shaky performance by Lester last night, there were some positive aspects of the game that the team can build on. Ortiz had had two hits and is leading the American League with a .441 batting average. Salty had two hits, including a 2-run homer, and Sweeney, who is batting .400 for the season, also had two hits. Bard got two outs with a runner on third in a relief stint, and Aceves got a save (and didn’t give up a run!). Gonzalez had a sac fly as well. This could be the team-building game the Red Sox were looking for…

* Maybe the change in scenery was good for Byrd; he got a hit last night! For the season, he is now hitting .085 for the season (though, .250 with the Red Sox).

* Cody Ross leads the team with 5 home runs after hitting two last night. He hit one to left and the other to right.

* Also in Cody Ross news, I was informed he has a blog on ESPNBoston, or rather a diary. It’s actually called Cody Ross Diary. I think I’m going to have to check that out.

* I was watching a little of the Yankees-Rangers game last night because the Twins-Red Sox game was blacked out here. The broke in to show Jed Lowrie, now of the Astros, hitting a home run; he’s batting .250 for the season with 2 RBIs. A quick look at the other former Red Sox players who were traded in the off season: Josh Reddick is hitting .250 with two home runs and three RBIs with the A’s. Kyle Weiland is 0-3 with a 6.62 ERA and a 1.755 WHIP.

* Youkilis is officially related to Tom Brady. Youk married Brady’s sister, Julie, on Thursday in a small ceremony at the home, according to reports. They are reportedly expecting their first child together as well. It would be kind of strange if Youk gets traded or doesn’t resign with the Red Sox, wouldn’t it?

* Derek Lowe is reporting that his 2004 World Series ring and a gold trophy were stolen from his home in Ft. Myers, Florida. Also missing are women’s shoes, purses, and two gold necklaces. His housekeeper reported the items missing. I find this a bit interesting…

Monday, April 23, 2012

What's a Team to Do?

 First, I apologize for not blogging anything this weekend while the Red Sox foundered against the Yankees. It was a busy but great weekend, and I won’t bore you with too many details. I do have to say that I went to a cancer benefit called Cancer Can Kick My Ass (or CCKMA for short) and had a really great time. One of the silent auction items to bid on was four tickets to a New England Patriots game. I wish I had the money to get those tickets AND to get my to Foxborough…. Oh well, still had a great time.

So, I didn’t get to watch Saturday’s game. Since I live in the Midwest, Fox showed the White Sox game instead of the Red Sox-Yankees. That might have been a good thing. I went to a benefit Saturday night anyway, and I was in a great mood when I left. The Sox were up 9-0. When I arrived at the benefit about twenty minutes later, they were down 9-5. When I sat down to eat, it was 9-12. When I was finished eating, I saw the Sox had lost 9-15. How does that happen?!

It happened because of the Red Sox bullpen, which again blew a great start by a pitcher. From the stats and summaries, it appears Doubront pitched a great game, but the relievers were dreadful. Let’s compare:

Pitcher                                       Innings       H     R     ER     BB     SO     HR     ERA
Doubront                                    6.0               4      1      1         3         7        1        3.94
Padilla                                        0.1               4      5      5         1         1        1        9.82
Albers                                        0.0               1       2      1        0         0        1         4.15
Morales, F. (H, 3)                      0.2               2       1      1        0         1        0         6.35
Aceves (BS,2) (L,0-1)               0.0               2       5      5        4         0        0        24.00
Thomas, J.                                 0.2               2       1      1        0         0        0         7.71
Tazawa                                      1.1               1       0      0        0          0       0         0.00
Totals                                         9.0              16     15    14       8         9       3

That’s horrendous! Thanks goodness our first (Doubront) and last (Tazawa) pitchers remembered how to throw the ball to get outs! Aceves is looking almost as bad as Melancon!

And because of this and of no fault to his own, Bard’s start is being skipped. He was originally supposed to start yesterday’s game against the Yankees, but that game was rained out. Bard is now available in the bullpen.

I don’t think this is a good idea, since Bard is doing a good job as a starter and shouldn’t be moved around. But, what can you do? The Red Sox have to stop the bleeding somehow, and this is how the team (whether it was Valentine, Cherington, or the owners) chose to do it. If this helps, I can see Bard becoming the official closer and another pitcher brought in for a starter (Cook at this point and Matsuzaka in 30 days or less).

The Red Sox also traded Michael Bowden to the Cubs for Marlon Byrd. If you remember, Byrd was hit in the face by an Aceves pitch last season and was out for quite some time. Byrd has said that Aceves apologized after that game, and he didn’t think it was on purpose. Byrd is 3-43 this season. That’s a 0.070 batting average.

Maybe a change of scenery will be good for Byrd. Since this is Cubs territory in my part of the Midwest, I’ve heard people talk about Byrd in mostly positive aspects. Plus, Bowden wasn’t doing a thing for the Red Sox. I’m not sure how the trade balances out, but maybe this was Epstein’s olive branch for the defective compensation player the Sox received for him.

Jason Repko, who was brought up to play outfield while Ellsbury is on the DL, also was hurt in this game. Because of this, Lars Anderson was recalled from Triple-A. Yes, Lars Anderson who was the top prospect at one point, was supposed to have taken over playing first base at this point in his career but has instead faltered (which is why the Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez). Now, Anderson is coming in to play outfield. Interesting.

In fifteen games in Pawtucket this year, Anderson is hitting .255 with 1 home run and 8 RBIs. I guess on the plus-side of things, he can play the outfield and first base. Versatility made be a good thing for this Red Sox team.

Crawford, Ellsbury, and, as much as it pains me to say it, Matsuzaka can not come soon enough to the help the Red Sox. Rich Hill should be coming soon as well to help in relief (if he pitches the way he did last year prior to being injured, he’ll be a Godsend). Andrew Miller’s also rehabbing, but he’s so erratic that I think he should stay in Triple- A as long as he needs. No use sending up another pitcher who lets the ball fly out of the park.

The Red Sox’s struggles should not be all on Valentine; in fact, only a minute part of the blame should be passed on him (mainly, leaving Bard in too long last week). In fact, it’s mostly the pitching’s fault. Buchholz needs to get with the program too. Out of the five starters, he looks the worst. He has a 9.00 ERA in three games (17.00 innings). Out of all the pitchers who have pitched for the Sox this season, only Aceves, Melancon, and Padilla have higher ERAs.

For the next 22 games, the Red Sox play teams that were under .500 last year (Twins and White Sox this week). Hopefully, with this schedule, the Red Sox can right the wrongs and get to at least .500 by the middle of next month. Here’s hoping!

*Also, I’m going to keep the blog going for the time being. I viewed the stats this week, and I’m getting a fair amount of views. I’m not sure if people are actually reading it every day/week/month, but it’s an outlet for me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy 100th Anniversary, Fenway Park

Fenway Park turns 100 years old today, and it seems the Red Sox are doing something right this year, the celebration. Yesterday, the Sox had a Open House at Fenway, inviting the public in for pictures, autographs, and a bunch of other things. I can only imagine what that had to be like. If I had the time and money, I would’ve been there. No doubt about it.

Today, the Red Sox play the New York Yankees at 3:00 Easter (2:00 Central for those of you like me who live in the Midwest). 100 years ago today, the Red Sox took on the New York Highlanders at Fenway Park for the first of many, many, many games at the beloved ballpark. For the game today, the Red Sox and Yankees will be wearing throwback uniforms from the 1912 teams.

The Sox invited every single player to ever adorn a Red Sox uniform to the game. The last I heard, over 100 previous players will be attending the festivities to take place before the Red Sox play the Yankees this afternoon. Sadly, Dave Roberts will not be attending because he is a coach with the Padres (Curt Schilling issued a public statement saying he will not be attending because of “other commitments. Schilling, a public statement was not needed).

Yesterday in The Boston Globe, Chad Finn wrote an article in his “Touching All the Bases” section entitled “Looking Forward to the Red Sox Reunion” where he discussed his Red Sox Dream Team (to check it out, go here: http://www.boston.com/sports/touching_all_the_bases/2012/04/red_sox_reunion.html). He explained which player at every position he wanted to attend the festivities. I thought I would do the same thing, so here it goes:

Catcher
Carlton Fisk (1969, 1971-1980)
I know he played before my time, but Fisk is a legend. I could have easily put Jason Varitek here because he will always be one of my favorite players, but the chance to see Fisk at Fenway would mean a so much to so many people, including me.

First Base
Kevin Millar (2003-2005)
Millar was the player who started the 2004 Red Sox team’s role. He stated, publicly, that the Yankees had better not let the Red Sox win game 4 of the ALCS. With that statement, he predicted the Red Sox would do something amazing, something that had never been done before in baseball. In game 4, Millar his lead-off walk against Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning was one of the most iconic plays in Red Sox history.

Second Base
Bobby Doerr (1937-1951)
Bobby Doerr is 94 years old, and there’s close to no chance that he’ll be at the Fenway festivities today. However, he’s one of those legends that you hear about growing up… and my parents probably heard about his playing growing up. He’s a Hall of Famer, 9 times All-Star, and he played his entire career with the Red Sox. Jerry Remy was another one I would consider for this position, but I see him most nights on NESN.

Shortstop
Nomar Garciaparra (1996-2004)
Let’s face it, Nomar was the Red Sox when he was on the team. People were heartbroken when one of the most beloved players of a (my) generation was traded to the Cubs. But, it was with that trade that the Red Sox obtained the pieces they needed to win the World Series. Also fitting was that Nomar officially retired as a member of the Red Sox.

Third Base
Mike Lowell (2006-2010)
When players leave the Red Sox by trade, free agency, or retirement, I typically “retire” the player t-shirts I have of them to pajamas. Not Mike Lowell. I wear my Lowell shirt proudly because he is one of the most inspirational players I have ever witnessed play the game. I recommended reading his book “Deep Drive: A Long Journey to Finding the Champion Within.” To think, he was a “toss-in” in the Josh Beckett trade, and then became the World Series MVP in 2007.

Right Field
Trot Nixon (1996-2006)
Did you think I choose JD Drew? Trot was a “Boston Dirt Dog,” a scrapper. He wore a mohawk hairstyle during the 2004 championship run. Trot was one of the most passionate players the Red Sox have seen. I’m really hoping he’s at Fenway today.

Center Field
Johnny Damon (2002-2005)
It actually kind of pangs me to say that I want to see Johnny Damon at Fenway, but he was a major contributor to the 2004 World Series Champions. I doubt he will be at Fenway, considering he just signed with the Cleveland Indians, but it would be nice to see him at Fenway, to celebrate the Red Sox, not criticize them.

Left Field
Carl Yastrzemski (1961-1983)
Yaz is another legend that you think of when great Red Sox players come to mind. He’s a Hall of Famer, 18 times All-Star, 7 times Gold Glove winner, and 1967 AL MVP. The only other thing he needed was a World Series ring.

Pitcher
Pedro Martinez (1998-2004)
Pedro is one of the best pitchers ever to wear a Red Sox uniform, and may be one of the best pitchers ever. His career ERA is 2.93, and he won the Cy Young Award three times. Plus, he’s a character! Martinez was always one of those players who wore his emotions on his sleeve, whether he was laughing, hugging, and telling jokes with his team mates or charging at Don Zimmer.

Designated Hitter
Johnny Pesky (1942, 1946-1952 as player, 1963-1964, 1980 as manager)
I’m using this position more of a wildcard than as an actually position, since David Ortiz is the ultimate Red Sox DH. Johnny Pesky is a fixture in Red Sox legend and at Fenway Park (until 2007 when MLB ruled that only six coaches could be in the dugout during a game). I don’t think there has ever been a person associated with the Red Sox who loved the team more than Johnny Pesky.

Manager
Terry Francona (2004-2001)
Tito is the reason the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007. He is considered one of the most successful, if not THE most successful manager, in Red Sox history. Even as a commentator now with ESPN, he still seems more a part of this team than the current manager. He is respected and loved by the players, and I am very happy he decided to come to Fenway today and be honored. I’m sure he’ll get the loudest applause by the fans.

Of course, these are just my picks as to who I want to see at Fenway today. I’m sure there are more and others that people are going to see and want to see. It should be fun and interesting to see who makes an appearance. Go Sox!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Optimist In Me

Last year, the Red Sox started 2-10.  This year, the Red Sox have started 4-8.  They're making progress.

Some of My Pictures from 2010's Boston Trip

My family also went to Boston in 2010, and I was lucky enough to see two Red Sox games that trip.  Here are some of my pictures from that trip:

Fenway Park

Green Monster

Jason Varitek

Bullpen pitchers walking across the field

Beckett throwing his first pitch

Fight between the Red Sox and Indians... never thought I would witness one of those in person.

Red Sox Line-up for the Second Game I Attended.
In 2010, Ellsbury played a total of 18 games, and I was lucky enough to catch one.
This game also featured the pitching match-up of Lester and Masterson... Indians won.

Lester throwing out his first pitch

A view of the dugout

The Pirate Ship

Papelbon and Bard watching the game from the bullpen


Looking at these pictures makes me want the game I'm attending of the Red Sox against the Cubs to hurry up and come.  I'm ready to experieince that atmosphere again!










Wednesday, April 18, 2012

That Was Gruesome

I admit, I stopped watching the game last night intently in the third inning. I stopped watching it all together after 7:30. I stopped keeping track of the score after 8:30. That was probably one of the worst games I have witnessed. The Red Sox lost 18-3 to the Texas Rangers.

It started off well for the Red Sox. Lester did pretty well in the first inning, not giving up any runs, and then Pedroia’s two-run home run in the bottom of the inning was a nice start. It was the first time in the season that the Sox had scored in the first inning. I was thinking this was a good start, and Lester was finally going to get the run support he deserved. I was wrong. I was very wrong.

Lester gave up four runs in the second inning and three runs in the third. Lester pitched a total of 80 pitches, 43 pitches in the second inning alone. He left in the third inning without getting an out. It was Lester’s second worst outing in his career, and I’m hoping it was a fluke.

For the past three seasons, Lester has been one of the predicted pitchers to win the AL Cy Young Award. Lester’s a great pitcher, make no mistake about that. While watching him last night, I couldn’t help but think that he had something physically wrong with him. I’m not sure what it was, but something seemed off with the way he was throwing the ball. Hopefully, he doesn’t land on the DL.

The Red Sox bullpen wasn’t any better, except Atchison (4 innings pitched, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 1 home run) and Albers (1 inning pitched and 0s down the board). Atchison has pitched surprisingly efficient throughout the young season, and I’m hoping he continues this way.

Atchison’s story of how he became on the Red Sox is a great one. If you don’t already know about Atchison’s daughter, please read this article: http://articles.boston.com/2010-03-07/sports/29326373_1_callie-rare-genetic-disorder-red-sox. In short, Atchison’s daughter has a rare genetic disorder known as thrombocytopenia-absent radius (TAR), in which the bone from the elbow to the thumb is missing in both of his daughter’s arms.

It’s heart-breaking to hear about the struggles of a three-year-old, but it’s great to see Atchison performing well and his daughter being able to see that. But back to the game, the rest of the bullpen pitched about as horrendously as Lester…
Melancon probably more horrendously. Melancon didn’t record an out in the eighth inning, but still managed to give up 6 runs on 4 hits, including 3 home runs. For the record, Melancon’s ERA for the season is 49.50.

Melancon has to go, whether it’s to Triple-A, released, by waivers, or traded. He’s doing far more harm than good for this team. To think, this was supposed to be the pitcher to replace Bard as our set-up man. I’m just thankful Valentine didn’t award him the closer’s position when Bailey went down. I’m praying Bailey returns ahead of schedule.

The two pitchers who came in after Melancon did slightly better: Thomas and Padilla both pitched an inning and gave up 2 runs on 3 hits. On Twitter, there were messages about Thomas going into the role he was supposed to pitch in: mop-up. I think both Thomas and Padilla have done a pretty good job pitching thus far, but the bad luck was going all around the Red Sox pitching staff last night.

Rich Hill can not come back soon enough. I guess you can say the same thing about Matsuzaka and Andrew Miller at this point too. If Aaron Cook could make a difference in the bullpen, he’d be welcomed as well. Every little bit would help.

UPDATE:  Melancon has been sent to Triple-A, and Junichi Tazawa was recalled.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Some of my Pictures from the 2005 Boston Trip

I thought for today's writing, I'd post some of my favorite pictures from my trips from Boston.  I'll put a little description under each picture.  I went to Boston in 2005 and 2010, both times with many members of my family.  Here are some of the pictures from my 2005 trip.

Outside of Fenway Park in 2005

Looking out onto the field from the 406 Club in 2005. 
 2005 was the last season to have the glass in place.

Some of my 50+ relatives attending the game in 2005.
We all wore shirts with "VanCamp," "17," and "Fenway 2005" on the backs.

My ticket from 2005

Walking next to the cars on the left is Curt Schilling.

When were were taking the Fenway Park Tour, batting practice was taking happening.
Bronson Arroyo was directly below us.


I have many more pictures to post from my 2010 trip to Boston, but that'll be saved for another post.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fire Out?

It seems that all the controversy with Valentine calling out Youkilis may appear to be over. According to The Boston Globe, Cherington, Valentine, Youkilis, and Pedroia all appear to be over the whole incident. It is interesting to point out that Cherington had to get involved.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look at the previous post under “The Ugly.” It sounded ugly, but how should we, the fans, take Valentine’s remarks? Was Valentine simply implying that Youkilis didn’t look like the player we’ve been accustomed to seeing over the years in the first two series of the young season? Maybe.

As a spectator, Youkilis didn’t look as locked in as he has in the past. This is not saying that he wasn’t “physically” or “emotionally” in the game. Youkilis has always been one of the most emotional players on the field. You can definitely tell when he’s upset and when he’s excited.

If Valentine was stating that Youkilis didn’t look as he has in the past, I agree with that. Of course, every player goes through slumps, and Youkilis just happened to start out in a slump. We’ve all seen our favorite players in those ruts that they don’t appear as engaged as they are when they’re hot. To me, that’s how Youkilis looked at the plate.

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, the NESN commentators, were quick to note when Youkilis hadn’t had a hit in the first series and his strikeouts. This is their job; they’re supposed to point these things out. However, Valentine’s job is to be behind his players. He’s not supposed to say his player isn’t “physically or emotionally in the game.”

Valentine quickly clarified his statement and apologized, in person, to Youkilis. Youkilis replied after today’s 1-0 loss to the Rays that he and Valentine were “fine.” And what about Valentine’s relationship with the unofficial captain of the team, Pedroia? Valentine stated, “(Pedroia) said we’re cool.”

Valentine has made it very apparent in his short tenure with the Sox that he enjoys talking, which can get him into trouble. I was a little surprised that Cherington got involved, but I guess that’s his job as the GM. Cherington made some good points with his quotes in The Boston Globe, though it seemed to be a bit of a PR move:

I think as with many things in baseball and life, the more you get a chance to talk about it and understand what people mean were and how they perceived something, that’s what allows you to get past it. Kevin and Bobby spoke. I spoke to Bobby, I spoke to Kevin.

What needed to be said has been said and we’ll move forward. I was surprised to see the quote. I didn’t see the interview live, but I had it in that context. I was surprised because that’s not something Bobby had expressed to me. And we’ve all seen Kevin play for a long time and never wondered why he wasn’t into the game. He plays hard every day. That’s why it’s important to talk about it. I understood better what happened and we were able to talk through it.

[Valentine] hadn’t seen the same player on the field that we have all seen in the past. So he acknowledged that first of all, and said it was not the best way to express it. He told the same thing to Kevin and apologized. He had a chance to explain what he meant. I think we’ll all learn from it and handle it differently next time.

I’m hoping that the Red Sox can put this whole thing behind them and move on from this embarrassing situation. They almost swept the Tampa Bay Rays (taking 3 of 4), and Bard, their 5th starter, pitched a heck of a game today. I think Valentine may have kept Bard in for too long: Bard- 7.2 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 7 walks, 7 strikeouts, 115 pitches. Bard gave up his run on a bases loaded walk to Evan Longoria in the 7th inning. He was pulled afterwards.

Bard’s outing today and the offensive beating the Red Sox gave to the Rays in the previous three games are definitely things to be happy about and build on. I see a lot of potential with this club. Hopefully, our manager can just let the players play and get behind them, not cause more problems.

** I don't know how much longer I will be continuing this blog.  It was brought to my attention that I don't have any follows and the people I thought would read my blog are not.  So, this week I'm going to take some inventory on how much time I spend on the blog, how many people are viewing it, and if it's doing what I hoped it would do.  I plan on making a decision by this weekend.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Red Sox are on a three-game winning streak heading into to their early (10:05 Central time) game for Patriots Day. Instead of recapping the three games, I thought I would give a few observations and tidbits from what transpired this weekend:
The Good

* The Red Sox are winning, so that’s the main good thing to come out of this weekend.

* Josh Beckett found his groove again. For Fridays game, he went 8 innings pitched, giving up 1 run on 5 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 1.

* The Red Sox owned Tampa Bay in the 8th inning. On Friday, they scored 8 runs, and on Saturday, the scored 5 runs

* The offense really started coming around these three games:

Gonzalez: 5/13 with a double and an RBI
Youkilis: 4/10 with 3 RBIs
Ortiz: 9/13 with a home run, 4 doubles, and 8 RBIs
Ross: 3/10 with 2 home runs, a double and 8 RBIs
Aviles: 5/13 with 2 home runs, a double, and 2 RBIs
Shoppach: 4/7 with 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, and a stolen base (his first attempt in the Majors… ever. It was nic-named “The Stop, Shop, and Roll” on Twitter).

* The bullpen was great (minus Melancon on Friday who gave up a home run):

Morales: 1 IP, 0 hits, 0 BBs, 1K
Atchinson: 1/3 IP, 1 hit, 1 BB, 1K
Padilla: 1 2/3 IP, 1 hit, 0 BBs, 2Ks
Aceves: 2 IP, 0 hits, 0 BBs, 3Ks

 The Bad

* For some reason, Valentine is not playing Sweeney, who, if memory serves me, has not gone a game he’s played without a hit. In the two games he played this weekend, he went 2/7 with 2RBIs.

* As much as I like McDonald, he’s cooled way off since Spring Training. This weekend, he was 1/9 with a double. With Ellsbury out (more on that in The Ugly section), I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of McDonald.

* While Beckett seemed to have found his groove, Buchholz and Doubront still have some work to do:

Buchholz on Saturday: 7 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts. (Also worth noting, that while I wasn’t able to watch most of this game, I did check the score in the 3rd inning. It was 5-0 Rays. Luckily for Buchholz, the offense clicked later in the game.)

Doubront on Sunday: 5 IP, 9 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts (Doubront did great until the 5th inning, when he gave up all 4 runs).

 The Ugly

* The Red Sox will be without Ellsbury an estimated 6-8 weeks because he has a subluxed right shoulder. A shoulder subluxation is when the shoulder doesn’t completely become dislocated. I wrote briefly about how the injury occurred on Friday. The word “surgery” hasn’t appeared associated to Ellsbury’s name as of yet, and it could just require rest and rehabbing.

* Valentine is causing controversy with Youkilis. Valentine made the following comment to WHDH’s Sports Xtra show Sunday night:

I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason. But [on Saturday] it seemed, you know, he's seeing the ball well, got those two walks, got his on-base percentage up higher than his batting average, which is always a good thing, and he'll move on from there.

When Youkilis was asked about the comments this morning, he replied with:

I’m more confused than anything because everyone knows I go out and play the game as hard as I can. It’s just my style of play. I was never blessed with the raw tools and I’ve always had to use playing the game hard and with full effort my whole life.

Valentine stated that he met with Youkilis and offered him a clarification and an apology. For what it’s worth, Youkilis was not in the line-up today for what Valentine called a “groin injury.” When asked about the clarification and apology, Valentine stated:
Kevin came in this morning and I thought it was about his groin. I thought he was going to tell me how his groin was, and I said, `Hey, how’s the groin?’ and he said, 'Well, all right, but what’s going on?'

When he told me that people called him and told him that I said things that he didn’t like, I totally apologized. I said the last thing in the world I want you to think is that I'm doing anything to criticize you. I was giving an answer to a question and I should've been more specific and said your physical was about your swing and your emotional was not being happy when you don't hit a ball off the wall.

I don't know if he accepted my apology, but it was very sincere. The last thing in the world is that I didn't want him to think that this was anything but an answer to a question that seemed to be jabbing at him. I was just trying to smooth it over and I guess that I didn't.

I’m not sure how I want to read into this. I want to think that everything’s going great with the new manager, but it just may not be that way. Pedroia said it best, I think:

I don't know what Bobby's trying to do, but that's not the way we do things here. Maybe that stuff works in Japan.

Ugly indeed.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Spark?

The Red Sox had their home opener today, and it had the makings to be a battle.  Beckett v. Price.  The team who missed the playoffs on game 162 of last year verse the team who made the playoffs on game 162 of last year.

Varitek and Wakefield were there to throw out the opening pitch.  After, they were greeted by the Red Sox players, most of whom played with Tek and Wake.  My only suggestion was that it would've been neat to see Wake pitch the ball to Tek.

The Red Sox won today 12-2.  It was a close game until the bottom of the 8th when the Sox scored 8 runs, most of them with no outs.  Beckett pitched really well (8 innings 5 hits 1 run 1 walk 1 strikeout), and everyone on the Red Sox roster had a hit except for Cody Ross have an RBI.

The game wasn't all rosy though.  Ellsbury left the game in the fourth inning with a right shoulder injury.  He was sliding into second when the Rays shortstop, Reid Brignac, fell on top of it.  Ellsbury immediately grabbed his shoulder and grimaced in pain and spewing a few choice words.  At this time, there hasn't been an update, just that he was having further evaluations.

As I mentioned, every player on the Sox had a hit besides Ross.  Shoppach arguably had the best game offensively, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 3 runs, 2 RBIs and his first, career stolen base (and attempt in for that matter).  Ellsbury, Gonzalez, Youkilis, and Ortiz also had multiple hits for the day.

Besides Ellsbury's injury, I really only had two other concerns.  One, why is Valentine keeping Sweeney on the bench when he's swinging the hottest bat?  For the season, he's hitting .429, almost 100 points higher than Ortiz's second highest average of .333.  That's two games in a row that Sweeney's sat, with an off-day inbetween.  Is it because Ross cost more money to sign?  I don't get it.

The second concern remains with he bullpen.  I think Beckett could have finished the game, especially with a 12-1 lead heading into the 9th and throwing 94 pitches in the 8 innings.  If Beckett would've pitched a complete game, it would've saved our reserved the bullpen after a treacherous   Instead, Valentine put in Melancon, probably to boost his confidence and lower his 36.00 ERA.  While Melancon made it through the inning, he did give up a home run to Zobrist. 

Overall, I think this may have been a spark to kick the Red Sox offense into gear.  The pitching's coming around; we just need the bats to now.  Also, keep an eye out for a "not top 10 moment" from the game on ESPN.  I'm thinking the clip of the Rays players colliding, in foul territory, missing the ball, and landing in the stands will make it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Which Red Sox Jersey Should I Buy?

The Boston Globe has had an interactive quiz running the past few days to tell you which jersey/shirt you should buy. I thought it would be interesting to go through the quiz, give my answers with explanations, and then find out who I should be rooting for. So, since it’s an off day and I need a little pick-me-up after a 1-5 start, here’s the results:

1. Where’s your favorite place to watch a game?
A) Bleachers
B) Box seats
C) Grandstand
D) Monster seats

Answer: A) Bleachers. I’ve been to three games at Fenway Park, and I’ve always sat in the Bleachers. I’d love to sit in the Monster seats or Box seats at some point though. The Grandstand is nice, but you’d have to make sure you weren’t behind a pole.

2. “Sweet Caroline” is…
A) A song by Neil Diamond
B) A cue to get another hot dog
C) A great Fenway Park tradition
D) My worst nightmare

Answer: A) A song by Neil Diamond. I’m aware of the tradition of singing “Sweet Caroline,” but after finding out the inspiration for the song, I’m a bit creeped out by it. Plus, I’m not a big fan of singing in public.

3. What color is your Red Sox cap?
A) Blue
B) Pink or green
C) Red
D) Don’t own one

Answer: C) Red. I own a red Red Sox cap, but I rarely wear it. I think I look ridiculous in it, but I do put it on every now and then. Instead, it’s on my glass mannequin head in my room.

4. Stereotypes about Red Sox fans are:
A) Offensive
B) Over the top
C) Mostly accurate
D) Yankees fans are worse

Answer: B) Over the top. Living in the Midwest, you get to see fans of another great, baseball rivalry: Cubs and Cardinals. I think each club has their own set of passionate fans, and Cubs and Cardinals fans can be just as intense as Red Sox fans. Plus, if we learned anything last year, Phillies fans are the worse (I’m just kidding, of course).

5. Your idea of a great game is:
A) A pitcher’s duel
B) A nail-biter won by the Red Sox
C) A blowout with lots of home runs
D) Any Sox win

Answer: B) A nail-biter won by the Red Sox. I always think the best games are the ones that are close, the ones you can’t turn away from. I almost answered Pitcher’s duel for this one too because a Nail-biter can be a Pitcher’s duel as well. But, a close game won by the Red Sox is my favorite.

6. What’s your favorite Red Sox team ever:
A) 1967
B) 2004
C) 1975
D) 2007

Answer: B) 2004. I hadn’t been born in 1967 or 1975, so I can’t honestly say either of those teams. 2007’s team was a great team because they were the best team in baseball and won the World Series. But, my heart lies with the 2004 team. I still wear my Varitek, Arroyo, Trot, and even Damon shirts (though to sleep in now) proudly.

7. When you’re at a game, you:
A) Keep score with paper/pencil
B) Watch but take food/beverage breaks
C) Watch intently
D) Make postgame plans with friends

Answer: C) Watch intently. Even when I watch the game at home, I actually WATCH the game; I don’t like to be interrupted. In 2010 when my family and I went to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park on August 3rd, I missed probably one of the greatest moments I would ever get the chance to witness live (baseball wise). My mom and I had gone down to the concessions to get some food; and when we were making our way back to our seats, the crowd erupted in cheers. In his first game back, Mike Lowell had crushed a ball over the Monster, and I had missed it. NESN viewers named that game the #1 game of the 2010 season. I may never get over missing that home run.

8. You favorite Fenway area bar is:
A) The Cask
B) Copperfields
C) Game On!
D) Jerry Remy’s

Answer: D) Jerry Remy’s. Out of those four bars, I have only been to Jerry Remy’s. It’s a really nice, pub-style bar. If you get the chance, I would definitely check it out.

9. What’s the most recent jersey you own?
A) Jonathan Papelbon
B) Manny Ramirez
C) Jason Varitek
D) Johnny Pesky

Answer: C) Jason Varitek. I actually do not own a jersey (again, I would look ridiculous in it), but I do own quite a few player t-shirts. I own two Varitek shirts (a St. Patrick’s Day one that I did wear again this past year and a blue shirt with the “C” on the front). I have never owned a Papelbon or Ramizrez shirt and never had plans to. While I may not own a Pesky shirt, I do have a Yastrzemski one (though my brother seems to think it’s his).

10. How do you get to the game?
A) The T
B) The Pike
C) The Expressway
D) I got a system, but I can’t share it.

Answer: D) I got a system, but I can’t share it. I won’t get into how I get to Boston, but every time I’ve gone to a game, I have walked to Fenway. I stayed in the Back Bay last time, and it was a great, beautiful half-hour walk to the park.

So, who’s jersey/shirt should I buy?



DUSTIN PEDROIA
because I “appreciate hard work and root for the underdog. You can’t go wrong with this guy.” I agree; he’s already my favorite. Plus, I already have his shirt, so I saved myself some money.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trying to Stay Optimistic

The Sox lost last night in an ugly game, 7-3. I should’ve known it would be an ugly game in the 1st inning when Punto, playing shortstop, didn’t make a play on a ball hit to his position, instead allowing the batter to get on base and the runners to advance. It would’ve been a play that Iglesias more than likely would’ve made, and probably Aviles for that matter.

I really don’t want to discuss too much about the game last night. The good thing about the Red Sox is that even with a slow start, you know they’ll eventually get better. If they can’t do it with the players they have, then they’ll figure something else out. The Red Sox have that ability, and it’s good they’re not jumping the gun on using that ability.

Bard wasn’t as bad as the score depicts. He left the game in the 6th inning with two runners on base and the score 3-1. Thomas came in, and the score quickly became 6-1. Bowden gave up a 2-out home run in the 7th, making the score 7-1. It was at this point I shut off the television and fell asleep. It was a frustrating night.

Actually, Bard did pretty well in terms of pitching. He pitched 5 innings, gave up 8 hits, 5 runs (though it could’ve easily have been 2 or 3 runs but was 5 because of defense and Thomas coming in), struck out 6, and only walked 1. He pitched 96 pitches, which wasn’t very efficient but encouraging. Of the 8 hits, 5 were on 2-strike pitches, 2 were infield singles, and 4 others were groundballs. It could’ve easily have gone the other way for Bard, and he knew it:

Let’s say half of those get fielded, which is probably a normal night. If we catch three or four of those and get outs on them, that’s probably three runs and about thirty pitches, and I’m pitching into the seventh and giving up two runs,” Bard said as quoted by The Boston Globe.

The offense wasn’t very kind to Bard either. The Sox scored 3 runs on 9 hits, 2 of the runs coming in the 9th inning. There was some good news with the hitting: Youkilis got his first two hits of the season, one being a double. Pedroia was 3 for 5 with a double. Sweeney also hit a double.

But the offense needs to pick up; the team can not be carried by four players who are hitting consistently (Pedroia (.364), Gonzalez (.316), Sweeney (.444), and Ortiz- who did not have a hit during last night’s game but is hitting .368 for the season). Ellsbury (.100), Youkilis (.125), and Saltalamacchia (.077) need to pick it up… and quickly. I could also put Cody Ross into the “needing to pick it up” category. His batting average is .188, but he’s been getting on base these and have had a few good hits these past couple games.

Also, what is up with the fans at the Rogers Centre the past two nights? Monday night, there was a big fight in the bleachers, people were ejected, and during the game, things (large crepe paper balls, etc.) kept being thrown on the field. Last night, there was a streaker and some stupid person shining their cellphone into the batter’s eye. Stupid! I understand that some Canadians are still upset with Boston because of they lost the Stanley Cub to the Bruins last year, but that was the Vancouver Cunucks and a
completely different sport!

Well, that’s the end of my rant. Again, I know it’s early and the ship will be righted (it was last year for most of the year afterall), but the Sox needed to get off on a strong footing because of September 2011. They are not doing that, and things seem to be getting worse.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Red Sox Get First Win of Season, Beat Jays 4-2

Last night’s game may have been the game to switch the Red Sox’s losing ways. It was a come-from-behind win that featured great pitching, some clutch hitting, and a couple plays that made me scratch my head. Plus, the Sox are now 1-3, which means they won’t start the season 0-6, as they did last year.

I don’t know if it’s really fair to ask a 24-year-old Rookie to be the stopper to a pitching staff that has let the water run out over the past couple games, but that’s what the Red Sox essentially did with Doubront. Though Doubront didn’t have the most efficient of games (101 pitches, 62 for strikes, in 5 innings), he did a great job with what he brought with him. He gave up 4 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, and stuck out 6. The Blue Jays starting pitcher, Henderson Alvarez, barely bested Doubront with 6 innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 run (a home run by Pedroia), 1 walk, while striking out 2. It was a pitching duel.

After Doubront was taken out, Valentine put in Scott Atchinson. I admit, I was a little anxious to see how Atchinson would pitch in this game; last year, he seemed to be more of a mop-up guy when he wasn’t in Triple-A. Atchinson blew me, and the Blue Jays, away! In 3 innings, he only gave up 1 hit, a single, while striking out 3 and walking 0. He was also incredibly efficient by only throwing 31 pitches.

Though, both of these pitching performances wouldn’t have meant anything without the spark that is Dustin Pedroia. With the Sox down 2-0 in the top of the 6th, Pedroia took a high, inside pitch out to the bleachers. I need to stop being so amazed with things Pedroia does because he’s constantly doing things that don’t seem possible, but that home run was electric. Even Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, the NESN announcers, were shocked. So shocked, in fact, that they had to re-show the home run for Orsillo to shout “La Luna!” which I guess is what Pedroia wants said when he hits home runs. (I’m guessing this is supposed to be Spanish for “To the Moon!”)

Then, there was David Ortiz. Opposing teams have performed the shift on Ortiz for so long now, it just seems like second nature to see the infield play to the right side of the field. However, Ortiz took balls the opposite way for singles. Then, in the top of the 7th, Ortiz attempted to steal 2nd because the infield was playing so deep and no one was really covering the base. He was called out, but I think he was safe based on the angle I was looking at it.

When asked why he allowed Ortiz to attempt the steal in such a close game (it was 2-1 at this point), Valentine gave a great reason. If no one is going to play like Ortiz will steal, then he should attempt the steal. That way, when teams are in position that Ortiz is a steal-threat, it will open up a hole for the batter. For his part, Ortiz thought he was safe as well.

In the top of the 9th, Pedroia did his part again by hitting a double, taking third on a wild pitch, then scoring to tie the game on a sac fly by Gonzalez. Ortiz then hit another single, and McDonald pitch-ran for him. Ross hit a single, and Sweeney then hit a single to score McDonald and Ross. With a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the 9th, Valentine called on his closer, Aceves.

Until this point, Aceves had two blown saves and had given up three runs without recording an out. He didn’t have an official ERA because of this. I was a bit hesitant as well, wishing that he wouldn’t blow another save. Aceves prevailed, striking out one and getting three outs without allowing a base-runner. The Sox won 4-2.

Last night’s game was really an entertaining game with great pitching and a come-from-behind win. I don’t know if it was the thought of losing another game, but I think I was more anxious watching last night’s game as I had been in a long time. My emotions were high, but it was all worth. Hopefully, this game proves to be the spark to ignite a winning streak for the Sox.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Red Sox at Cubs, June 17


Last night, I bought my tickets for the Red Sox at Cubs game on June 17. The time is TBD, but my guess is it’s the game broadcasted by ESPN for Sunday Night Baseball. This would mean that there’s a good chance Terry Francona will be commentating. A reunion is in place for the Boston Red Sox, former general manager Theo Epstein, and former manager Terry Francona.

When I first found out about the Red Sox at Cubs series for the 2012 season, I immediately went to my family and said we had to go. There was some apprehension, then a flat-out “no” from my parents, then some looking into the White Sox-Red Sox series, and then another “no” from my parents. I went on StubHub a few weeks ago to see about Reds-Cubs tickets (for some reason, I’ve been enjoying watching the Reds play the past few years) and came across Red Sox-Cubs tickets starting under $50. I decided that if I wasn’t going to go to the game with my family, I would try and get some friends
together and go. My family soon changed their minds though.

I’m very excited about this game for a number of reasons. The first reason being that this will be my first time going to Wrigley Field. I’ve always wanted to go to Wrigley, but when you’re a Red Sox fan living in Iowa, you always want to see the Red Sox play. I’ve been to many games at US Cellular Field (aka Comiskey Park); I’ve even seen a White Sox-Mariners game there (one of my favorite baseball moments- Ken Griffey Jr. waived at my friends and me). The last time the Red Sox visited the Cubs, I couldn’t get tickets, so I’ve been keeping track of this game for a long time.

The second reason I’m excited about this game is that it’s been two years since I’ve seen the Red Sox live. My family and I went to Boston two years ago, and I was lucky enough to see two games while out there. Growing up, we’ve tried to get to a Red Sox game every year (we’ve seen them play in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Kansas City), but it’s been a little more difficult now that we’re all older. The last time I saw the Red Sox play in Chicago was four years ago, so it’s been awhile. Another reason why this is going to be an exciting game is the whole Red Sox-Cubs, Theo Epstein dynamic.

I’ve been trying not to talk bad about Epstein, but I do think he sort of jumped ship on the Red Sox organization. I know he did about everything he could with the Red Sox, but he also left the organization at a bad time. The compensation, which was supposed to be “substantial,” has been anything but. I want to see what it’s like for Cubs fans who are thinking of Epstein as a “savior” figure (please Google “Theo Epstein, Chicago Sun Times” for this image, if you haven’t seen it yet).

This is being set up as a Sunday Night Baseball telecast (though, it hasn’t been announced yet). It’s the Cubs and the Red Sox, two of the most storied franchises. Even people who are not fans of either teams will tune in to watch this game. I’ve never been to a Sunday Night game, let alone a Sunday Night Baseball game. I’m sure the entire atmosphere of Wrigley will be different with even more energy and excitement.

Lastly, I want to see if Terry Francona goes down on the field and visits with the Red Sox players. One of my favorite things over the past few seasons is seeing Francona with his players, especially Pedroia. The players loved Francona as a friend/father-figure. The fans loved Francona, for the most part.

As I’ve been stating, I’m really excited for this game. If anyone has suggestions about things to do in Wrigleyville or things to see at Wrigley Field, please let me know. I want to get as much out of this experience as possible.

Should Bard be a Reliever?

Daniel Bard has yet to throw a pitch as a starter this season, but there’s a lot of talk about him being sent back to the bullpen. The sad thing is that this talk is because of the lack of reliability in the bullpen, not because Bard can’t handle it at a starter. As Pete Abraham tweeted yesterday, “Daniel Bard could be the first guy to lose his job as a starter without throwing a pitch.”

Yesterday’s 13-12 loss in 11 innings was ugly, no other way of looking at it. The Sox climbed out of a 4-0 deficit early in the game, and there offense looked like it was starting to come around. This game was not loss because of the offense; I have to stress that. This game was loss because of the bullpen (and some can argue the same thing about Thursday’s 3-2 loss as well). Our bullpen is in shambles, and we’re three games into the season.

First, I have to stress that only 1.8% of the season has gone by; so obviously, there’s plenty of time to right the ship. Lucchino has said he wants to expand the payroll (for a starter or relief help), Miller and Hill are making rehab starts, and Aaron Cook is still waiting in Triple-A. Okay, the positives are out of the way; time to gt on the pitching’s case.

Lester did great job pitching Thursday giving up only one run in 7 innings, so I won’t even address that. There have been a couple bright spots in the bullpen as well- Vincent Padilla was one yesterday. After giving up a run in a third of an inning on Thursday, Padilla went 4 innings yesterday without giving up a run and only 2 hits. Franklin Morales also was impressive coming in relief yesterday. Over 2 innings, he gave up no runs, 1 hit, and had 3 strikeouts.

Every other pitcher on this team has been horrible. In the game yesterday, the Aceves and Melancon each had a blown save! Melancon already has an 0-2 record, and they’ve only played three games! In one total innings pitched, Melancon has a 36.00 ERA, has given up five hits, four runs, and one home run (being the walk-off from yesterday). Aceves has yet to record an out, but he has allowed three runs on four hits. I don’t know how it could be any uglier than that.

Granted, our starting pitching hasn’t helped much over Saturday and Sunday. Josh Beckett only lasted 4.2 innings, giving up 7 runs and 5 home runs. Buchholz didn’t give up any home runs, but still managed to only pitch 4 innings and give up 7 runs on 8 hits. Beckett and Buchholz need to get the spider webs/nerves shaken off; they need to pitch better. Period.

Beckett, Buchholz, Melancon, and Aceves are all supposed to be important parts to not only our pitching staff but to our team as a whole. They’re not those pitchers you can slide in and out of the Major League roster without making a difference. They all need to pitch better, but especially our bullpen. The Red Sox should have won yesterday; there’s no way around it. They had a three-run lead going into the bottom of the 9th when Melancon gave up the 3-run homer to Miguel Cabrera to send the game to extra-innings.

The Sox had a two-run lead in bottom of the 11th when Melancon blew that lead and eventually made the team lost on a walk-off, two-run homer from Alex Avila. Detroit is a good team, probably one of the top three teams in the Majors, so kudos to them. But, the Sox need to play better; they need to pitch better. This brings me back to Bard. When Valentine was asked yesterday after the game “Is Bard an option?” his reply was “Might be.”

I was all for letting Bard be a starter and keeping him there, since it’s a position that takes a bit of getting used to, but I’m not sure how much more the Sox can take with these relievers. Valentine may be right in saying that Bard might be the only option the Sox have left. Bard needs to stop the bleeding, either as a reliever or as a starter (by pitching a complete game shut-out, if that’s the way it needs to be).

The Red Sox management needs to make some decisions. They need pitching help, and they need it now. Either make a trade (Lannan wants out of Washington), move some players (Cook moved up as a starter, Bard to bullpen), or create an injury to make a pitcher have a time-out (preferably Melancon, since I’m thinking his nerves are getting in the way). Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done now. The Sox starter 2-10 last year; let’s not have a repeat.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter... Some Positive Tidbits

Happy Easter!  Since it's Easter, I'm not going to dwell on the ugly game from yesterday.  Instead, I wanted to give a few, positive things that have come from the Red Sox over the past few days:

* Carl Crawford is getting closer to playing in extended Spring Training games.  He is currently taking batting practice on the field; and when he does start in games, he'll start as a DH and work his way to playing in the field.  He would then go to minor league games.  The prognosis was originally that Crawford would make it back to Major League games in May, but it could be within the next two or three weeks.

* Lefthanders Rich Hill and Andrew Miller started rehab assignments in Single-A yesterday.  Rich Hill is recovering from Tommy John surgery that he had in June (if you don't recall, Hill pitched eight scoreless inning last year before needing surgery).  Andrew Miller strained his left hamstring in Spring Training.  When these two are ready for the Majors, they will both be welcomed additions to the Club.

* Ryan Sweeney is leading the team in batting average with .571 (he's 4 for 7).  He hit a game-tying triple on Opening Game in the 9th inning. 

* By 10:00 this morning, both Adrian Gonzalez and Darnell McDonald had tweeted that the Sox needed to win today.

I apologize for the lack of posts the past few days and for this short post.  It is the Easter weekend though, and I've been spending time with my familly.  If I don't do another post again today, enjoy the day and hopefully the Sox can pull out a win today.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Few Observations From Opening Day

The Red Sox lost to the Tigers in their first game, 3-2.  It would've been 2-0 Tigers if it wasn't for the Red Sox rallying in the 9th.  Both Lester and Verlander looked great, but neither factored into a decision.  Here's some observations from the first official game of the Red Sox's 2012 season:

* The bullpen may be worse than I thought.  Padilla started the bottom of the 8th by giving up a triple to Austin Jackson, and with one out, intentionally walked Fielder.  Morales came in gave up a short flyball to Center which Ellsbury botched the throw to home plate.  In the bottom of the 9th, Melancon gave up two singles in a row, and Valentine put in Aceves.  Aceves hit the next batter to load the bases and gave up a game-winning single to Santiago, costing the game.

* Lester was great.  His line: 7 IP 6H 1R 1ER 3BB 4K 0HR  107 pitches, 63 for strikes.  That's the way to start the season!  I do think Valentine may have kept in a bit too long, but I can't complain with that performance. 

* The Sox offense just wasn't firing, but they were also going against Verlander ("Cy Young, MVP!").  Verlander went 8 innings and only gave up 2 hits while striking out 7.  Ortiz and Pedroia both had doubles, and Sweeney had a game-tying triple in the 9th.  Sweeney was the only player to have more than one hit on the Sox, going 2-4.  Youkilis struck out twice.

* Was it just me, or did Francona sound like he wishes he was still on the team?  He had a sort of longing in his voice, and I could tell he missed being with the team.  He made one comment about Pedroia knowing what's going on at all times.  He said, "He (Pedroia) can hold the runner on second and waive to us up here."  Francona, we miss you too.

That's all I have for now.  I'm hoping the game of Saturday goes better for the Sox.  Beckett v. Fister.  Let's go Sox!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Opening Day Eve

Tomorrow is Opening Day, but the Cardinals at Marlins game is tonight. Last week, the A’s and Mariners played two official games in Japan. No wonder I haven’t been able to find a dependable Opening Day clock on the internet. One of my co-workers, a Cardinals fan, asked me today what the countdown was for the game tonight, and I couldnt find anything. Can’t use real math either.

Anyway, Opening Day for the Red Sox is tomorrow in Detroit. Verlander v. Lester. Games starts at noon, Central time. I am taking a half-day of work tomorrow just so I can enjoy the first game of the 2012 season.

However, I can’t help but be a little concerned about what the Sox chances are this year. I’m trying to be optimistic, but I’m not really sure what this team is capable. They seem like a team hungry to prove all the critics wrong, but I’m not sure, and it pains me to say it, they have the talent this year. The AL East has four legitimate contenders in the same division in the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays (FYI- the Orioles lost to a college team today.  Even if they weren't playing MLB-caliber players, what does that say about the orgainziation?). If the Sox were in any other division, I would say they have a great shot at making the playoffs, but in the AL East, it’s hard to say.

Last year was so disappointing from having the 100-win season predictions staring in December to overcoming the horrible Aprilto being the best team in baseball most of the summer to the historical collapse in September. As a fan, those emotions take a lot out of you, and I can only imagine what it feels like as a player, manager, coach, etc. of that team. This year, there seems to be so many question marks floating around that it’s hard to really grasp what the Red Sox really look like.

I know the Opening Day roster doesn’t mean a whole lot in the great scheme of things, but I thought I’d show what the Sox will look like when they take the field tomorrow:

Lineup:
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Ortiz DH
Youkilis 3B
Sweeney RF
Ross LF
Saltalamacchia C
Aviles SS

SP: Lester
Relievers: Aceves, Melancon, Morales, Padilla, Atchinson, Thomas, Albers, Bowden

Bench: McDonald, Punto, Shoppach
Other Starters: Beckett, Buchholz, Doubront, Bard

There are 13 pitchers on this roster, and I don’t see that staying around very long. Obviously, this isn’t the ideal roster either, since Crawford and Bailey are on the DL. Crawford is said to be coming back in May, but Bailey will be out at least 3-4 months. Valentine said today that Aceves will be in the closer role tomorrow, and will be looked at as a closer if he’s not available, then Melancon will be the closer.

I had a quick discussion with one of my fellow Red Sox friends yesterday about being a little frightened for this season. Here are some the things we touched on:

* The starting pitching really hinges on Buchholz- Lester and Beckett will hopefully continue their dominance from last year and Spring Training, and Doubront and Bard are both rookies in starting roles in the Majors. Buchholz needs stay healthy and pitch like people know he can pitch- All-Star-caliber. If one of the starts goes down, then I feel comfortable with putting Aceves in that role or calling up Cook. Matsuzaka will be coming back at some point in the first half of the season too. But, Buchholz is the key.

* The right side of the infield (Gonzalez and Pedroia) is one of the best in the Majors, but the left side (Aviles and Youkilis) is a little shaky. If Youk stays healthy, I think third base will be fine, but shortstop has remained the black hole position (it’s been that way since No-mah). Yes, Aviles impressed me this Spring Training, and I think he’ll do well offensively. Defensively, I’d rather have Iglesias there. Maybe when Crawford comes back and starts hitting around .300 again, Iglesias will be given a shot.

* Cody Ross is going to be an electric personality for the Red Sox, and they should do everything in their power to show that. I saw one report where it said that Cody Ross makes Kevin Millar look like a wallflower. I never thought those words would be used in the same sentence. The Sox need to embrace Ross and show him off the public (not like a show dog though), like they do with Pedroia and Papi. People need to see the Sox in a good light rather than the light they saw them in September.

* The bullpen scares me, much as it does every year. I know the bullpen is a fluid role, pitchers come and go depending on whose hot and not, but looking at it right now doesn’t bring to mind many good thoughts. I’ve heard critics saying that Padilla will be a force and Melancon has the stuff of closers, but I’m not buying it. The past few years, we, as fans, could always think “if (enter starting pitchers name) can make it to the seventh or eighth inning, Bard will pitch the 8th and Pap the 9th.” Can’t say that now. Aside from Aceves, I don’t see a pitcher who can really strike fear into a batter. This, of course, can change as the year goes on. Rich Hill will be coming back from Tommy John surgery in
the next couple months, so there’s that to look forward to.

* The bench looks okay to me. McDonald’s always been one of those guys who can deliver an important hit… or pitch an inning if need be. Punto can play almost any position, but he’s a career .249 hitter (he did hit .278 in 66 games for the Cards last year though). Shoppach will be okay as a back-up, and he’ll probably be traded at some point this season to make room for Lavarnway. When Crawford comes back from the DL, Sweeny and Ross will make a nice platoon in right field.

The Red Sox are going to hit and score runs this season, there’s no way of doubting that. As always, pitching is the key. To really be the team to beat in the East, the Sox need to have their pitcher locked-in. I think Bob McClure has done a much better job as pitching coach this season that Curt Young did last year. The starters, Aceves, Cook, and maybe even Padilla all seem to have a fire in them; and hopefully, the bullpen will look that way as well.

I’ve seen the Red Sox predicted to end anywhere from first to fourth in the AL East this year. I don’t know if I can really predict where the Sox will land because there’s so much uncertainty with this team and with the other teams in the East. Are the Yankees too old and have too many pitching problems (Pineda and Joba are out for some time)? Do the Rays have enough offense to help their pitching? Will the Blue Jays stay around all season or fade at the end? The Orioles… maybe next year.

So, if I had to make a bold prediction, I’ll say the Red Sox finish first, by a game or two ahead of the Yankees because the Yankees will find money/trade chips to acquire what they need. The Sox’s pitching will fall into place around May/June with the additions of Hill and Matsuzaka. Aaron Cook will be traded for bullpen help.

Here are my 2012 predictions:

AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Tigers
AL West: Rangers
AL Wildcards: Yankees, Angels
NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Brewers
NL West: Diamondbacks
NL Wildcards: Braves, Cardinals
ALCS: Rangers over Red Sox
NLCS: Phillies over Cardinals
World Series: Rangers over Phillies

Here’s hoping for a great Red Sox 2012 season!