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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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

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

The Good:

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

The Bad:

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

The Ugly:

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo from

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Off Season Chatter

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other news:

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

Monday, November 4, 2013

Red Sox World Series Parade

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

Red Sox After Season Awards

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

MVP: David Ortiz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honorable Mention: Daniel Nava
Photo from YawkeyWayReport

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

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

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Red Sox Win World Series

What a night!  That's really all I can say.  Last night, the Boston Red Sox became World Series Champions by beating the Cardinals 6-1.  For the first time since 1918, the Red Sox won the World Series at home, at Fenway Park.  Such an incredible night for this amazing team!

I'm really excited to say that I'm planning on attending the Duck Boat parade on Saturday morning in Boston.  My boyfriend and I had discussed it a couple times prior to last night's win.  We were keeping our fingers crossed that the parade would be Saturday, as we wouldn't be able to make it Friday or Sunday.  Lucky for us, they've announced the parade is scheduled for 10:00 AM Saturday.

Photo from The Boston Globe
David Ortiz deservingly won the MVP, hitting .688 (2nd highest in average in World Series history), hit 2 home runs, 6 RBIs, and was walked 8 times.  If there wasn't Ortiz, who knows what would've happened to this team.

Photo from The Boston Globe
Honestly, I would say Ortiz is the MVP of the season, and I'll get into that more tomorrow when I do my end of the season awards.  It started in April when Ortiz took the microphone and made his infamous speech.  Here's the clip again:

Ortiz kept this mentality going all season.  In his MVP speech, he made sure to dedicate the World Series to the Boston marathon victims and the City of Boston.  Here's his MVP speech:

John Lackey won the clinching game, becoming the first player in his history to win two World Series clinching games (his first was with the Angels in 2002 as a Rookie).  Lackey, who Red Sox fans loathed for years (that may be a bit strong, but you get the point), won this game for the Red Sox, and the Red Sox fans made sure to show their appreciation.  I thought it was a touching moment when Lackey tipped his cap at the crowd, a crowd that had ridiculed and booed him in during his tenure with the Red Sox.

Photo from The Boston Herald
This offseason, the Red Sox went out and got what they thought would not only bring the fans back to Fenway, but bring a championship back to Boston.  They brought in John Farrell, having to trade to an division rival for the manager they knew could do the job and knew this team.

Photo from The Boston Globe
The Red Sox brought in David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, Mike Napoli, and Stephen Drew, who all contributed in huge ways to this World Series winning team.  It's still seems surreal that this team has gone from worst to first.

As mentioned, I'll post my postseason awards for the blog.  Until then, please enjoy the photos, videos, and tweets from last night!  What a way to end a season!

Dropkick Murphys Pre-Game Performance
National Anthem and Shipping Up To Boston

Carlton Fisk
Photo from NESN
Photo from The Boston Globe

Photo from NESN

Photo from NESN

Photo from NESN