Friday, September 01, 2006

Good Luck Boomer

As we all know by now, David Wells is back in San Diego who holds a 1 game lead in the wild card standings. I'm sure he'll be happy to be in the middle of a pennant race in what will probably be his last season. I'm glad since I may actually have someone to root for in the playoffs. I've always been a fan of Wells. Yes (and you may be surprised to hear it) even when he was a Yankee. Unless he was pitching against us of course.

One of the things I like the most about him is he is kind of an anti-athelete. Rather than getting the canned pro-athelete answers, or over the top Terrell Owens-esque shenanigans, you got one thing... David Wells. You got real talent, real opinions, real answers, and yes, some nonsense, some drama but overall it always seemed honest. That more than anything makes me respect a man. So... Good Luck in San Diego, I hope to see you in the playoffs.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Close the Book on 2006

Can't say it much better than this...




• Thank God these games are late at night. I've been spared watching most of the sweep. It's pretty obvious the sox are going to limp to the finish line. The Fenway bullpen should have the M*A*S*H* logo painted on the top of it.

• Tonight's starter Jon lester has been scratched and sent back to Boston to have tests proving once again that "you can never have enough pitching"

• Ok, I'll admit, I will still watch. I will still cheer. I will still hope. But I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A little Recognition

Since I was well asleep going into last nights game, I won't retread opinions that I've read today. Just a quick note thanking Boston Dirt Dogs for putting up the pic from my last post and linking it back to here.

This isn't just a gratuitous link back. I'm a genuine fan of their site. Be sure to check them out (if you don't already).

http://bostondirtdogs.boston.com/

If you've come from there, feel free to leave a comment and come back from time to time. I'll actually try to keep this thing updated and going for the rest of the season.

Thanks,
Andy

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

For Shame!

Well, you're right, It's been a while but here we go... Last night I was sitting in a locker room before my last adult hack league hockey game and one of my teammates was wearing a Yankees hat and I felt like this...




We don't have to imagine the day that we as Red Sox fans can't hassle a yankees fan in the heart of "the RS nation". It's here. It sucks. It's not going to get better any time soon. After being humiliated for five games in a row in our own park we get to take a big west coast swing. That's a trip that the sox have almost always struggled with. Then It won't get any easier coming back to Toronto and Chicago.

One of the few bright spots was Wells' encouraging performance yesterday. If he can repeat that in his next start, we can at least say our rotation is back to 2 quality starters. And no, Beckett isn't one of them until he learns to throw more than one pitch. Last year he was 15-8 with a 3.38 ERA. Why are we so surprised that he is stuck at 13 wins with a 5.35 ERA? We always do the NL to AL stats conversion whenever we talk about ANY pitcher. Have we just been blinded by all the "He has great stuff" press that got shoved down our throats before the season? What a great pickup... a "1A guy to go with Schilling". Hmmm a middle of the road NL free agent with "great stuff"... Sound familiar Matt Clement? At least J. Beckett seems to have a backbone as opposed to Clement. Maybe too much since he can't seem to admit that he needs to change his approach.

Remember when Lowell was the "throw in" that we had to take in that deal? Seems to me he was the big prize in that deal.

Now, can the season be saved? Probably. If we can learn anything from history, sometime soon once we have all given up hope, the Sox will go on a run just to pull us back in. If we are lucky, they may just miss the playoffs and spare us the first round sweep again.

Monday, June 19, 2006

So What Are the Red Sox?

It seems we are seeing two different teams. I got to see Papi's walk off live and in person from the Right Field Roof. Since, they lose 4 straight including getting swept by the Twins who were only 28-34 when the Sox rolled into Minnesota. Then we see them sweep the spiraling Atlanta Braves who were 30 and 37. Two under .500 teams. Two completely different results.

We've seen inconstant pitching and a rotation that is falling apart to the point where we have to rely on a pitcher picked out of Kansas City's dumpster. Not good enough to pitch in Kansas City but good enough for us? I don't get it. Kyle Snyder has been picked up off of waivers and is getting the start for the Sox tonight against Washington. His only start this year... only two plus innings. His major league record is 2-9, 5.91 ERA in 29 games, 19 starts. Are they that desperate? Sure, he has options left but big deal. He must not be worth much if KC didn't want to use his option and keep him in their minor league system. In case you're not getting my point... KC, the worst team in all of baseball, with a 19-49 record released him. Now I may not be a baseball insider. I may be missing something, some reason why a stink hole team at the very bottom of all of the majors would be willing to release a worthy player. If there is something, I don't think I'll be able to figure it out.

Is this a desperate move? I guess we'll find out tonight. Maybe we'll also find out if we can beat another sub .500 team. I don't think we'll have a smooth season until the starting rotation stabilizes. From 7 starters this spring, we are down to 3. Right now, the other 2 spots are a question mark. We have revolving rookies and a bottom rung throw away.

Hope for the reverse lock tonight?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Rain, Rain Go Away

We have to stop playing against Texas. It rains way too much when they come to town. Has it not rained when they've been here?

The unfortunate thing is I have to rely on a 40% chance that it won't rain tonight when I make the trek up to Fenway. I got lucky once already by actually getting drawn for the opportunity to buy right field roof seats maybe I'll get lucky again. I just hope I don't have to eat soggy Fenway Franks and have my beer a little extra watered down. Plus, I'd like to get a couple good pics from up there to post.

• After last night's win and a Yankee loss, the Sox are right back to where they were before the NY serieies 0.5 ahead in the American League East standings. If they win both today they can be at least 1 game up regardless of what the Yankees do today.

• Wow, Papplebon is a machine... After giving up a run and blowing a save last night, he came back for an awesome 9th. Hopefully they won't need him this afternoon and I'll get a glimpse of him live tonight.

• Former Red Sox pitcher John "Way Back" Wasdin returns to Fenway tonight to start for Texas. Between him and Becket, I'm putting the over/under for home runs at 5. I'm hoping Becket spots his fastball better and its only Sox players hitting them out. Isn't it amazing how we can bash a pitcher who is 7-3 with a .248 Batting Average Against. Only 3 pitchers have more wins. 7 others have 7. Not too shabby.

Before I start to sound a little too much like a total "Fanboy", I'm signing off. What can I say, I'm always a little pumped when it's time to go to the park. I've been to plenty of sporting events and no other beats stepping out of the runway and seeing the inside of Fenway. I've gotten to see some great games there. Hopefully there will be one more tonight. In the off chance that there is actually someone besides a couple of my friends reading this take a look at the right field roof Table 116 row 1. You'll see at least one guy at the table there grinning from ear to ear.

-Andy

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Step in the Right Direction

With yesterday's win, Matt Clement showed that he can pitch in the Major League. I'm not getting ahead of myself here. For the most part he's been pretty funky this year. If he can string another start like that again, then we can start to (maybe) get off his back. There is still one thing that bothered me about his performance. He gave up way too many first pitch balls. It turned out well overall but starting out behind the majority of the time can wear on a pitcher. Kinda playing with fire a little. The good thing about it, he definitely had them swinging (badly) at a lot of pitches outside of the strike zone. His stuff was either really deceptive or Detroit was really undisciplined at the plate.

At least we don't have to run him out of town yet.

• Youkilis seems to have dodged a serious left forearm injury after getting hit yesterday. The X-Rays came back negative. Even though the infield corners are battered they are at least minor injuries.

• We may finally get to see one of the highly touted prospect in Boston for one of the double header games on Saturday. Rumors say that John Lester may finally get his shot. I wouldn't expect him to stay long since the Sox seem to really be trying to protect their young arms and develop them at a conservative pace but the injury to Wells and the extra game are making it a necessity to bring one more up.

• Up to now (and still), Jason Varitek has surprisingly gotten a free pass where his batting average is concerned. In seven games he has hit .321 bringing his average up to only .245. It shows you how much respect Boston fans have for him. We've crucified many other valuable players for less. If Lowell (an all star caliber gold glove) were only hitting around .250 do you think we would give him this much time to straighten it out? He would have been strung up real quick. Thankfully we all know how important Tek is to the pitching staff and how valuable he is behind the plate.

• Now we get the Yankees for 4 games. Here's a great chance to improve our position in the east. Besides, there is almost always something worth writing about during or after a Yankees series. Maybe I won't slack off for a week and a half this time.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Missed Opportunity

Sox drop series 1-2.

The Sox got to Johnson again but blew the opportunity to put away the Yankees. I thought this series was supposed to be easy. I guess all the prognosticators were a little wrong on this series. Not everyone was saying it but too many were already starting to write off the Yankees. Yes, they are in trouble with pitching. Yes they are missing a few offensive components and a couple others may be getting too old but are the Red Sox much different right now?

Right now the Red Sox have only 2 reliable starters in Schill and Becket. Wakefield will be fine but with his knuckle ball, you never know. After last night, Clement is a huge question mark. I hope he turns things around soon because he is owed about 9 million this year. That with the way he is performing means he can't be traded. Besides, we don't have the depth to do that anyway. The biggest wild card of them all?... That's right, David Wells. Lets hope he comes in tomorrow night and pitches well. That will give us an ok back end of the rotation and may take some of the pressure off Clement. At least we have room in the rotation for Clemens if/when/where he decides to play this year.

Unfortunately, one of the best things to happen to the Sox so far this year is also leading to this uncertainty in the pitching rotation. Papelbon. The kid is on fire with 15 saves. If they could even think about pulling him from the closer spot (which they can't obviously) he would solidify the rotation and give the Sox 3 nasty starters at the top of the rotation.

The good news... Tampa come to town for four games. Unfortunately, New York has Kansas City so unless the Red Sox sweep, we may see a lead change but ultimately, this early in the year, who cares about that.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It Had To End Sometime

Baltimore 4, Boston 3

After winning 13 straight against Baltimore, the Sox finally lose in a game that was not as close as the final score indicates. Once again, the Red Sox offense failed to show up for a Tim Wakefield start. Wake wasn't brilliant but he did keep them in the game. He left with just a 3 run deficit. One 2 run mistake to Kevin Millar, a 2 run homerun in the 4th inning was the start and a wild pitch in the 5th was ultimately the game winning run.

Random thoughts

- Later in the game it started to seem like the plate umpire might have had an appointment to get to. Players on both sides were continually surprised with some of his strike calls. At least he was consistent I guess. Very big strike zone.

- I would have liked to see a couple more angles on the caught stealing to end the game. One of the closest plays that I've seen in a while.

- Someone has to step up besides Ortiz. Although he is hitting .302 Manny (the highest payed player on the team) only has 19 RBI. One behind the lead off hitter (Youk) . Of course, after Ortiz, there are less base runners left for Manny but I've seen him fail do drive in quite a few.

- I've read and heard complaints about the new Red Sox Nation. Specifically the "pink hats". Who in their right mind would complain about women, a lot of them fit, good looking women, at the ballpark. Comes across a lot like the guys who call women lesbians when they shoot 'em down at the bar. Most of the knocks come after being jealous of them swooning over the likes of Johnny Damon or whoever else. Big deal. They look a lot better walking up the aisle than you do.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

E-Rod Hands Game to the Sox

AH HAHAHAHAHAHA, AH HAHAHAHAHAHA... wait, wait... AH HAHAHAHAHA!

Today is a good day to be a Red Sox fan. The Yankees were embarrassed in their own house by the Sox 14-3. Let me say that again... 14-3. Randy Johnson didn't even make 4 innings.

Even better, Alex Rodriguez committed 2 major errors, leading to 4 unearned runs. That would have been all the Sox needed. The other 10 runs? Just an extra side of gravy on your KFC mashed potatoes. Only makes things better. The Yankees looked more like clowns than the favorite (not mine of course) to win the A.L. East.

Most noticeable, after A-Rod's first error, Johnson just couldn't seem to get it back together. Had he come up with that ball in the 3rd, there's no telling how the game would have went. Instead, Johnson just fell apart and the Sox lead the head-to-head match up 2-0.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Now It Feels Like Red Sox Baseball

Amazingly, it took 25 games and almost a month for it to really feel like the Red Sox season has begun. Yup, 29 days since opening day and yesterday was the true start of the '06 season. Don't misunderstand, I'm not dismissing the teams we've faced so far. I'm not naive enough to believe that they don't matter. Even Tampa matters because they can be a troublesome lot from time to time. But, when it all comes down to it, what are we as Sox fans obsessed with? The Yankees. I've never been at a concert or a Patriots or Bruins game and heard a "Blue Jays suck" chant break out. Yes, everywhere there are more than 10 Red Sox Fans, and most likely some alcohol you run the risk of hearing that nonsense. I've even heard reports of it on Crescent St. in Montreal at closing time. I may have actually been there to witness it but hey, It's Montreal at closing time. I run the risk of not remembering a lot of things up there at closing time.

Everything the Sox do is compared to the Yankees and how it affects each team. Constant analysis takes place as to how a person will handle the rivalry, how they'll perform against the other. We all know it goes both ways too. Brian Cashman proved it with the following statement regarding the reacquisition of Doug Mirabelli; "I wanted it to hurt, I monitor everything, and knew it was an obvious fit. I wanted to make sure their reacquisition was going to hurt as much as possible. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't a one-horse race."

The funny part of all this, since the start of the 2003 season the Sox are 29-28 during the regular season and 36-35 including the playoffs. Over all that time, the match-up between these 2 teams is simply a coin toss

Last night everything started just where it left off. Some columnists were worried that we've become a kinder gentler Nation, worried that we would be too soft on Johnny gone lately. Others thought we wouldn't give him the respect he deserves for being a hard nosed, impact player that gave his all for 4 seasons. Both happened.

And drama? No shortage. A barage of boos and a hitless night for Damon, Doug Mirabelli jumping out of his police escort from the airport just before the start of the game ready to go like a scene right out of a movie, and a late inning 3 run final nail in the coffin from David Ortiz against Myers, the former Sox lefty specialist that the Yankees signed to try to solve their woes against Papi. All this started off by the classy move of Damon showing his respect by tipping his cap to the fans while getting booed more than he was cheered. Going into last night (had I actually been there), I would not have clapped for the man. After that gesture, It would have been hard not to.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Let New York Cheer For Him Now

Enough of the debate... Johnny Damon is a Yankee now. Yes, he did great things in Boston, I was a fan, I admire his style of play, I don't even blame him for taking the offer from the Yankees, but the short answer to all the do we cheer or boo Johnny Damon is simple... He's a Yankee now. No, I don't feel betrayed, he's not a traitor, he's a business man and business will be great for him and his wife in New York.

When it is all over and Johnny limps out on the field at Fenway to take a wave at the crowd one day to celebrate an anniversary of the historic World Series win, then cheer him. For now... He's a Yankee.

He was on the right side of what's been called the best and biggest rivalry in American pro sports (I imagine only some European Soccer rivalries beat this). As far as I can tell, it's also the longest running rivalry. Celtics and Lakers? Who cares. The Bruins and Philly? long gone. Ok, Bruins and the Habs is still alive but nothing like it used to be and I can't think of many from other cities that even get close in any of the major sports.

Now Johnny, welcome to the other side of the rivalry. It's past like or dislike, you've spent the off-season endearing yourself to the dark side. Going out of your way to prove that your one of them now. Now, stand at the plate and take you medicine. Good luck... You're a Yankee now.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

133 - Too Many Too Early

Even if the Red Sox weren't already short one starting pitcher... even if Curt Schilling "felt great"... even if he "really didn't have to work hard until the sixth" inning... even if an impressive (and extremely rare) 5th April win for Schilling was at stake, a 40 year old pitcher should NEVER throw 133 pitches this early in the year. Especially when he is a number 1 or 2 pitcher that relies on power pitching. There is just way to much at risk. Any pitch can be the straw that breaks the camels back. There's no arguing the fact that you get more injury prone as you get more fatigued. Now, someone like Tim Wakefield who throws a knuckle ball, might be able to get away with it from time to time, but I still wouldn't recommend it often.

The only time that you do it without question is simple. It's the playoffs of course (or trying to make the playoffs). A pitcher being rested doesn't mean squat if it means going home for the season. For the very same reason, you have to keep them healthy now so you can consider playoff implications. It's clear, that this team will fare better in the playoffs with a healthy Curt Schilling than without. One game in April will not cost you the playoffs unless it costs you an ace.

Does it seem like the Sox got lucky here? So far, yes. A couple days and we'll see. Lets hope Curt and Francona were right.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Offense and Drama Return to Fenway

On Patriot's Day, the new look Sox looked a lot like the Sox of the last few seasons. I can't say I was overly impressed with the pitching but DiNardo was a serviceable fill in. As was the case a lot last year (well, the last couple for that matter), they teased us the whole way to pull out the win in dramatic fashion, the bats being the story rather than the pitching and defense.

Unlike the first 3 games of the series, the Sox offense showed a glimpse of what it should/could be. After hitting only .210 for the previous 3, the Sox hit for a .333 average overall, went 3 for 9 with one walk from the top 2 and 7/12 and 3 RBI from 3-5. Anything after that is a bonus on most major league teams. Here, we're not used to worrying about the bottom half of the order, but we won't get the 1-9 production like we have in previous years. There are still some good bats down there in Lowell (hopefully) and Tek or Nixon depending on that night's lineup. The one thing we will be missing overall is the consistency of a guy like Bill Mueller in the 7 or 8 spot. Maybe Youkilis will be that guy once Crisp gets back.

My question... Will they be a more consistent offensive force that will score 3 or 4 plus runs a game or will we live or die based on arms and defense? All the pieces look to be in place to make this team something we haven't seen in a long, long time. A well blended hybrid that can win either type of game.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bats Absent from Weekend Series

Thanks to excellent pitching and one bad call the Sox were able to get out of the weekend with 2 wins and one loss but we will need the bats to liven up to stay ahead in the A.L. East.

I'm not always a stats geek but this weekends box scores do more to show the futility at the plate than anything else I could say so lets take a look. Hopefully I've calculated everything correctly.

First lets look at the teams overall batting average for the 3 games. From Friday to Sunday, the Sox went 20 for 95 with 12 walks and 28 Ks for a .210 average. Slightly better than the leadoff batters who went 1 for 10 with 3 walks and 4 Ks for a .100 average. Did it get any better when combining the leadoff hitter with the #2 hitter? Nope. .095, 2/21, 1 walk, 5 Ks. The good news is that didn't really matter since the 3-5 hitters might not have driven them in anyway. They were a combined 5/33, .151 avg, 3 walks and 9 Ks and only 1 RBI. Varitek hit one in also but I think it was scored an un-earned run. Sorry it was a busy weekend, I didn't catch it.

The surprising part, the majority of RBIs came from our weak link in the line-up. Gonzalez had 3.

Although we all expected a drop off in offensive production this year it hasn't necessarily come from where we expected so the silver lining to this story is this drop should be temporary and this offense will pick things back up. Especially once the outfield injury situation plays out.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Loss #2

The Sox drop to 6-2 after a horrible performance from David Wells. The hopes that he would step up after his bad outing in Pawtucket were dashed in the first inning and he never got it completely together. He said it best himself... "Batting practice tonight, really"

6 homers total. Three each team. The problem is, Toronto also had 8 more base runners than the Sox and they were able to take advantage of that.

The balls that did stay in play were handled incredibly well by the Sox middle infield. Besides his futility at the plate, I'm becoming a very big Alex Gonzalez fan. If he even gets close to his .244 career batting average I'll be ok with his lack of offense. He's probably the quickest shortstop we've had in a long time.

On to first base... Youkilis has really made the transition well. He had a few really nice picks out of the dirt. We definitely don't need to worry about his D over there. Now all we need is a little more consistency at the plate since he's not the prototypical power guy at the corner. His strength will be grinding away at pitchers and running up their pitch counts. Even though he is known for his patience, he may actually have to take an early swing every now and then to prevent pitchers from dropping in easy, called first and second strikes like they did last night.

With his home run in the 6th, Wily Mo is only one behind Bronson Arroyo. I wonder how long it will take him to catch up. What I found more encouraging than his HR was his 2 strike hit earlier in the game. It was simply a good piece of hitting unlike the wild flailing strikeouts from the night before.

Now we just need to hope that last night's performance by Wells was just an aberration not a sign that he's not ready after a short, lazy, "trade me" preseason.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sox Do the Right Thing

The Red Sox have agreed on a four year extension with David Ortiz. He is now under contract through 2010 with a team option for 2011.

We don't need to discuss why this is right and why they needed to keep him.

Congratulations to both Ortiz and the Red Sox!

Crisp Out

According to Red Sox medical director Dr. Thomas Gill, "Coco has a non-displaced fracture at the base of his left index finger." He will be placed in a splint and re-evalutaed after 10 days.

Looks like he'll be on the DL for the home opener.

Weekend Wrap Up

Kevin Millar of the Orioles may think they are going to "shock the world this year and play great baseball", but they couldn't shock the Sox. The Sox wrapped up a weekend sweep against the O's outscoring them 20-10 with 8 of those O's runs coming during mop-up time on Friday night.

The only downside to this weekend was the injury to Coco Crisp. Hopefully the early reports of the broken knuckle aren't true. On the flip side, the team shouldn't be horrified with Adam Stern filling in until Coco is healthy.

So far the pitching is living up to expectations. Even with the 8 late runs on Friday night the Sox's ERA was still only 3.00 over the 27 innings with 27 hits, 19 Ks and only 6 walks. Most importantly, Schilling looks great and we got 2 scoreless innings from Timlin, Foulke and Paplebon each.

Despite the 3 errors, the defense looks to be as good as advertised. Gonzo has already shown some flashy D which has grabbed Varitek's attention. In a recent globe article he was quoted saying "I'm just anticipating ground balls because I just want to watch him play them."

On the lighter side of the A.L. East... Boston, 1st place 5-1; New York, tied for last 2-4. Yeah, I know it's only 6 games into the season but shouldn't we take the time to enjoy all the little things no matter how trivial or temporary?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Francona Shows Some Guts

On the surface, there is absolutely no second guessing Francona's move in the 9th. Go with the hot arm. I highly doubt that anyone disagrees. Especially since the results were perfect.

What I like is this goes against what many think is one of his weaknesses as a manager. The "players' manager" rep. has taken a hit. We all know what's been said or at least implied... He caters to the players feelings too much, sometimes at the expense of results.

What we all witnessed last night was a manager in control of his team. He (according to all reports) had already discussed this with Foulke before the game. I believe it.

''This is by no means an indictment of Foulke. I think he's going to be brilliant. This," said Francona. '' is something we had talked about. I would not do something like that without talking to the player. I think Foulke is ready right now to be the guy we need."

OK, this is a players' manager type statement but it still shows that he has complete control and is not afraid to run the team as he sees fit. He also did it right. Even if a player, Foulke in this case, doesn't like the decision he can't possibly have a problem with how it was handled.

Something to think about... What is "the guy they need him to be?" Do they need him to be a guy that puts his pride aside, works hard, doesn't cause any clubhouse negativity even though he has lost his job(temporarily or not)? Do they need him to be another set-up guy? Do they need him to return to his role as a closer? Do they need him to get good enough to justify his salary to another team at the trade deadline? I doubt that one but hey, you never know.

At $7.75 mil, not being used in the role he is being paid for has to be a tough pill to swallow. I would love to know what was going through his mind when the camera showed him looking back at Pap warming up to close. Afterwards, he said all the right things. I hope he means it.

What Francona needs to do is give Foulke the chance to succeed. Since he's not at his best, give him more chances with a couple run cushion. Just look at opening day. That worked out just fine. They still got the win. His performance left us all with questions but at least he wasn't crucified. If he loses even one game then all bets will be off. One of our ugly sides as far as I'm concerned. Although sitting during a critical situation may sting a little, it is a far better situation than throwing him into the fire where things can get confrontational a la the whole "Johnny from Burger King" episode. He is someone this team needs. He's a talented pitcher and he will help the team more and more as his location, pitch selection and effectiveness improves.