Tagged: Boston Red Sox

So much for AL East parity

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The bulk of this year’s winter meetings were pretty
uneventful, but it was certainly bookended by some craziness out of Beantown.

After officially acquiring superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego
Padres on Monday in a blockbuster deal, the Boston Red Sox again turn heads by
unexpectedly signing
one of the preeminent five-tool players in the game in outfielder Carl Crawford
.  The deal is worth a staggering $142-million
over the next 7 years and when combined with the expected extension for
Gonzalez, the Red Sox have unofficially committed around $300-million to two
players.  I guess John Henry isn’t
hurting from purchasing Liverpool.

Crawf.jpgThe surprising part of this deal is not that Boston signed
Crawford, nor is it that he was signed to the second richest contract ever to
be awarded to an outfielder.  The
surprising part is the timing.

<– “Look what I caught,  $142-million, BITCH!!”

While most teams interested in Crawford (such as the Angels,
Yankees and Rangers) were waiting for Cliff
Lee
to make his decision before committing funds to Crawford, the Red Sox
stepped in and made the deal happen. 
They were the only team said to have real interest in the athletic
leftfielder who did not have interest
in Lee, allowing them to swoop in a steal Crawford from under their noses.  Something Crawford will be doing a lot of in
Boston.  Oh yes, I made a pun.

But this was supposed to be the year that the AL East evened
out a little.  The Rays were/are expected
to take a giant step back and both the Orioles and Jays were supposed to be
rising teams ready to take the next step toward contention.  Reality has set in quickly.

The Red Sox, at least right now, have to be considered the
favourite while the Yankees will become co-favourites if they’re able to sign
Lee.  If the Yankees don’t sign Lee,
there could be an opening for one of the other three teams to jump into Wildcard
contention (probably not Baltimore), but they still have to be considered at
least the second favourite team even if they lose out on him.

By the way, the Red Sox projected lineup as of right now:

  • ·        
    CF  Jacoby
    Ellsbury
  • ·        
    LF  Carl
    Crawford
  • ·        
    1B  Adrian
    Gonzalez
  • ·        
    3B  Kevin Youkilis
  • ·        
    DH  David
    Ortiz
  • ·        
    2B  Dustin
    Pedroia
  • ·        
    RF  J.D.
    Drew
  • ·        
    C 
    Whothehellcares?
  • ·        
    SS  Marco
    Scutaro

Not to mention that they still have Clay Buchholz, Jon
Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka as their projected
5-man rotation.

That’s just not fair, dammit!

There’s one more negative aspect of the Crawford deal from
the perspective of the Jays; the Red Sox are still interested in lefty reliever
Scott Downs, who is, like Crawford,
a Type-A free agent.  If he signs in
Boston, the Jays will not get the Red Sox first round pick as compensation as
that now goes to the Rays.  And, oh yeah,
the Jays STILL have to face Crawford 18 times this upcoming season.  Bad day.

This by no means tempers my excitement for the 2011 season,
it just seems to signal another 3rd or worse season for Toronto.

UPDATE:
Apparently the Angels made an offer to Crawford of 7 years and $108-million
according to a Tweet by Mark
Feinsand
of the New York Daily News.  Werth definitely
drove up that market.  Way to go Rizzo.

UPDATE #2:
Apparently Ken Rosenthal
reported
that Lee received a 7 year offer from the Red Sox.  Signing Crawford does make that unlikely, but
apparently I was wrong about their interest in Lee.

2010 Boston Red Sox Preview

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2009 Record: red_sox_logo111.gif95-67,
2nd AL East – AL Wildcard

2009 Prediction: 101-61,
1st AL East – WS Champs

2010 Prediction: 1st
AL East

 

Impact Player: Kevin
Youkilis

Impact Pitcher: Jon
Lester

Top Prospect Player: OF
Ryan Westmoreland

Top Prospect Pitcher: RHP
Casey Kelly

 

Manager: Terry
Francona
– 7th Season (565-407, .581)

 

Significant Acquisitions: 3B Adrian Beltre, SS Marco
Scutaro
, CF Mike Cameron, UTIL Bill Hall, OF Jeremy Hermida, RHP John
Lackey

Significant Losses: INF Nick
Green
, OF Jason Bay, OF Rocco Baldelli, INF Alex Gonzalez, C George Kottaras, 1B Casey
Kotchman
, OF Joey Gathright, RHP
Takashi Saito, RHP Paul Byrd, LHP Billy Wagner, LHP Javier
Lopez

 

Things didn’t go exactly as planned for the Boston Red Sox
in 2009.  A solid regular season that saw
the team capture the AL Wildcard berth only to be unceremoniously swept by the
LA Angels in the divisional round of the playoffs wasn’t exactly what they had
in mind; as anyone is Red Sox Nation can attest, anything less than a trip to
the World Series is a failure; especially when you have the resources and
scouting this team has.  GM Theo Epstein
didn’t sit idly by and let the core of his team age and sink into obscurity,
signing four high profile free agents in John
Lackey
, Marco Scutaro, Adrian Beltre, and Mike Cameron.  The focus is
clear going forward: The BoSox are going to focus on defense and the league’s
strongest pitching staff to try and get back to the top.

 

Pitching

jon-lester.jpg

I don’t think there is a better pitching staff in all of
baseball.  With the signing of Lackey,
the Red Sox have three top-tier pitchers; possibly four.  Jon
Lester
heads the list after another fine season going 15-8 with a 3.41 ERA
in ’09.  Lester now has 31 wins in his
past two seasons and is considered by most to be a top 5 pitcher in the
AL.  Josh
Beckett
follows him; he led the team with 17 wins last year and continues
to be one of the most consistent pitchers in the game.  He has become a perennial Cy Young
threat.  Lackey fits in third in this
rotation of All-Stars and if Daisuke
Matsuzaka
finds his ’08 form when he went 18-3, this team will be
unstoppable.  The one major drawback of
Matsuzaka is that he appears to be wearing down at only 28 years old.  He hasn’t thrown over 200 innings since 2007
and there are rumours in some circles that the Red Sox are exploring options to
trade the Japanese phenom.  They may find
that difficult since Daisuke still has 3 years and $28 million left on his
current contract.  The fifth spot in the
rotation could go to either Clay
Buchholz
or near 44-year-old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.  Wakefield may
make the most logical sense, but the Red Sox have to give Buchholz a chance sooner or later before valuable
years of his prime are wasted waiting for a spot.  If he doesn’t land in the rotation at the
beginning of the year, expect the Red Sox to be more proactive in entertaining
trade offers for the highly touted hurler.

 

Remember early last season when people were writing off
closer Jonathan Papelbon because of
an early high walk and low strike out rate? 
Papelbon ended the year as strong as any closer in baseball and finished
with another fine season.  Was his year
as dominant as some in the past?  No, but
he is still one of only a few truly elite closers.  He finished last year with 38 saves and a
1.85 ERA and averaged over a strikeout per inning.  Bridging the gap from the starters to
Papelbon might not be too difficult this year given how many innings they will
eat up, but when needed, the Red Sox will once again field one of the best
bullpens in baseball.  Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez, and Daniel
Bard
were solid last year and Manny
Delcarmen
will look to rebound after a subpar season.  Okajima looks to be the only lefty that will
make the opening day roster, but that shouldn’t be a problem given that Delcarmen
held lefties to a .221 average in ’09, 99 points less than his opponent’s average
against righties, so there are options. 
The long-man will likely be either Wakefield or Buchholz depending on who
starts and the final spot could go to highly touted Michael Bowden who the Red Sox eventually want starting.  Boof
Bonser
, Ramon A. Ramirez (not to
be confused with the Ramon Ramirez already mentioned), Bob McCrory, Fernando
Cabrera
, and Jorge Sosa will
battle with Bowden or wait for an injury; if they’re not released first.  Veteran lefty Brian Shouse and righty Scott
Atchison
(who hasn’t pitched since 2007) are also in the mix.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Jon Lester

26

L/L

Josh Beckett

29/0

R/R

John Lackey*

31

R/R

Daisuke Matsuzaka

29/0

R/R

Clay Buchholz

25/6

L/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Jonathan Papelbon (CL)

29

R/R

Hideki Okajima

34

L/L

Manny Delcarmen

28

R/R

Ramon Ramirez

28/9

R/R

Daniel Bard

24/5

R/R

Michael Bowden

23/4

R/R

Tim Wakefield

43/4

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Bob McCrory*

27/8

R/R

Ramon A. Ramirez*

27/8

R/R

Boof Bonser*

29

R/R

Fernando Cabrera

28

R/R

Jorge Sosa

33

R/R

Brian Shouse*

41

L/L

Scott Atchison

34

R/R

 

 

Lineup

kevin-youkilis.jpg

The Red Sox once again had one of the better hitting teams
in the AL finishing third in runs scored and homeruns, second in on-base and
slugging percentage and fourth in batting average, but they lacked the ability
to score runs when it mattered most against the Angels in the ALDS.  It is clear that the old-guard is done in
Boston and players like David Ortiz,
Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell are on their way to being
role players in the organization.  Lowell
was almost traded this offseason to the Rangers, but a thumb injury was enough
to cancel the deal.  It appears as though
the Red Sox will still part ways with the oft-injured third-bagger when the
opportunity arises.  The outfield will
look very different this season in Boston with the departure of Canadian Jason Bay to the Mets.  Taking over in left for Bay will be Jacoby Ellsbury who moves over from
center where he was an overrated defender. 
Ellsbury, however, had a fantastic year at the plate in ’09 going
.301/.355/.415 with 8 HR, 60 RBI and an unbelievable 70 stolen bases, which led
the league.  J.D. Drew returns in right along with his plus defense and solid
production numbers at the plate; he was second on the team in both on-base and
slugging percentage and had 24 HR.  In
centerfield will be free-agent signee Mike
Cameron
who comes over from the Brewers. 
Cameron is 37, but can still play solid defense in center as well as
provide some power at the plate; he hit 24 HR and drove in 70 in ’09.

 

The infield looks very different on the left side this year
with the signing of free agents Adrian
Beltre
and former Jay Marco Scutaro.  Beltre will see most of the time at third
base providing he can regain his form after a disastrous ’09 in Seattle.  He is still one of the best defensive
third-basemen in the league and if he’s healthy, he should be able to hit a lot
more homeruns in Fenway than he did at Safeco. 
As for Scutaro, he shone in his first real chance to play every day in
Toronto in ’09.  Scutaro has quietly
become one of the best shortstops in the AL, both offensively and
defensively.  2008 AL MVP Dustin Pedroia is back at second after
another solid season where he posted 15 HR and 72 RBI and was once again named
to the All-Star team.  Many people also
believe he should have won the Gold Glove at second over Placido Polanco.  At first is
this team’s best player, Kevin Youkilis.  Youk posted another surreal season going
.305/.413/.548 with 27 HR, 94 RBI and was terrific defensively at first.  Catching responsibilities will belong to Victor Martinez who settled in nicely
after being traded from Cleveland in July and should benefit from a full season
with the Sox.  He’s also the only player
on the roster who had 100 RBI last season (108).  The DH duties will fall mostly to David Ortiz who rebounded after a
terrible start to finish with 28 HR and 99 RBI; however, he is clearly on the
decline after hitting only .238.  He will
be spelled this season by Martinez and Lowell, providing the latter isn’t
traded before the season starts.

 

Lowell heads the list of players on the bench, but he’s too
good to be there.  He is on the decline
and his health is an issue, but he was still solid last year when healthy.  Look for trade talks to rekindle after he heals
from his thumb injury.  Joining him will
be Jeremy Hermida who was acquired
in the offseason from the Marlins and will have to adjust to a lesser role in
Boston.  Jason Varitek will be the backup catcher, but is still the inspirational
leader of this team, and utility-man Bill
Hall
can play almost anywhere on the diamond and previously hit 35 HR with
Milwaukee in ’06.  Jed Lowrie took a massive step backward in ’09, but could still
make the team, especially if Lowell is traded.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

LF

Jacoby Ellsbury

26/7

L/L

2B

Dustin Pedroia

26/7

R/R

C

Victor Martinez

31

S/R

1B

Kevin Youkilis

31

R/R

DH

David Ortiz

34

L/L

RF

J.D. Drew

34

L/R

3B

Adrian Beltre*

31

R/R

CF

Mike Cameron*

37

R/R

SS

Marco Scutaro*

34

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

INF

Mike Lowell (1B, 3B)

36

R/R

UTIL

Bill Hall* (LF, RF, 3B, SS, 2B)

30

R/R

C

Jason Varitek

38

S/R

OF

Jeremy
Hermida*
(LF, RF, DH)                        

26

L/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

INF

Jed Lowrie (SS, 3B, 2B)

26

S/R

INF

Tug Hulett* (3B, 2B)

27

L/R

SS

Gil Velazquez
(SS, 2B, 3B)

30

R/R

 

 

 

The Red Sox are still an elite team in the AL; last year’s
opening round loss doesn’t change that. 
GM Theo Epstein has made some decisions this offseason that have not
been popular with the fans, but he understands that the right decision is not
always the one the fans would make and because of that he’s made his team
better.  With the best pitching staff in
baseball and a lineup that can still compete with the likes of the Yankees, the
Red Sox will once again compete for AL supremacy.

Final Prediction:
96-66, 1st AL East

PHOTO CREDITS

Jon Lester – http://www.yoursportsmemorabilia.com/shop/images/lester%20headshot.jpg

Kevin Youkilis – http://lesterslegends.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/kevin-youkilis.jpg

Why Ejecting Pitchers Ruins EVERYTHING

Okay…twice this weekend I have seen something in baseball that I absolutely HATE.

I hate it when a player gets hit by an inside pitch and the pitcher immediately gets ejected even though it’s pretty damn obvious that he was NOT intentionally throwing at the hitter.

Case 1:
Yankees vs. Red Sox. It was late in the game and the Yankees were up by two with one on and one out.  Ramon Ramirez was on the mound for the BoSox and plunked A-Rod on theramon ramirez.jpg shoulder with a changeup.

Now, I know we all hate A-Rod (don’t lie Yankees fans, you do too), but come on.  First of all, who hits someone with an offspeed pitch that isn’t easy to control?  If you’re intentionally hitting someone, you throw a fastball.  Secondly, if you’re an umpire and you’re going to throw someone out of the game, you should have to warn them first.  A few pitches earlier, Ramirez gave Mark Teixeira some chin music, which was clearly not intentional, and certainly no reason to be warned…which he was not.

There’s no way that Ramirez was throwing at A-Rod…not in that situation.  A taxed Sox ‘pen had to scramble and put in Enrique Gonzalez who promtly allowed A-Rod to score.  Red Sox manager Terry Francona was understandably pissed.

Case 2:
Cardinals vs. Pirates.  Matt Capps hit Albert Pujols on the back late in a close game…got ejected…same deal

Here’s the BIGGEST problem with this.  It prevents pitchers from pitching inside.  Obviously they’re going to shy away from it given that if they miss…even a little, they could be tossed from the game.  And really people; what’s baseball without pitching inside?  I don’t know…but it ain’t what I want to watch.

Blown out of Proportion?

Toronto Star reporter Richard Griffin makes a good point.  As nice as it would be to see the Jays win 1 or both games against the Red Sox in this series, it has been blown out of proportion.  If the Jays get swept, it’s not the end of the world.

With all the injuries for the Jays and the fact that they aren’t putting out Halladay against them, if the Jays get swept, I don’t think it’s the big litmus test everyone around the league seems to think it is.  The next two games have two pure rookies who have never pitched in the spotlight of Fenway in their careers in Brett Cecil and Robert Ray going for Toronto.  If they put up nice efforts but lose, does that mean the Jays aren’t legit?  Hell no.  Especially against the Red Sox in Fenway.

So I urge my fellow Jays fans to not panic if the Jays lose the next two against Boston…it won’t be the end of the world as some are predicting.  They play Atlanta and Baltimore in the next two series’.  There’s no question they can win 2 of three in both of those and should still surface in first place in a couple weeks time.

Round One: Julia’s Team

I’ve watched Tim Wakefield baffle hitters for practically my entire life.  Tonight he got his 17th career win against the Jays and I’m not sure I’ve seen him be more dominant against them.  Every out seemed to be a pop-out and if it wasn’t for Kevin Millar smacking one over the green monster, he’d have thrown a shutout.

Next time Julia…next time.

On the plus side, Brian Tallet threw another 6 outstanding innings.  He’s been a massive surprise this year coming out of the ‘pen.

*Evil stare toward Julia*

Series of the Year…so far

For any Jays or Red Sox fan, this week is huge.  The Jays and Sox are by far the best two teams in the AL so far this year.  For at least the early part of the year, this series will show if the Jays are for real.  Now, if they lose all three games, it’s not to say the Jays are done…but if they take two of three or sweep, it has to make people sit up and take notice that this Jays team may not go away quietly.

Now, as I said ealier, I can’t watch the series because I don’t have the money to get TSN 2.  Well, I can’t watch it legally.  SO, I may have to resort watching it on the MLB.tv archives well after the games have finished; so no one tell me the score before I’ve had a chance to watch it.

Good luck to Julia BoSox…not too much luck…just enough to lose.

Enjoy everyone!

The Ridiculousness of Watching the Jays

As Jays fans know, sometimes watching the Jays on TV is impossible….literally.

There are several games that aren’t televised at all, and next week when my Jays play Julia’s Red Sox for the first time this year, all three games are on TSN 2.  TSN 2 is an extra channel that us folks not blessed with the cash to afford such luxuries don’t get.  Therefore, the most important series to date for the Jays cannot be viewed by the vast majority of Canadians.

Add on top of that, MLB.tv’s RIDICULOUS black-out stipulations that do not allow people to watch games in their own territory, and I have to either wait for the game to be archived on MLB.tv or cheat the system and watch the game with a proxy server (which is illegal and horribly unreliable).

You’d think MLB would be terrifically smart to get rid of the black-out rule.  I guarantee you’d have double the subscribers and television ratings would rarely suffer.

The point is, I don’t get to watch the most important games of the season because I can’t afford to.  Like everything else in this country, the people with not enough money to afford certain luxuries suffer.  It’s worse in the U.S. so I shan’t complain too much.

By the way, if anyone has the same problem of not being able to view their team in their home market and you live outside of Canada and have an MLB.tv subscription, I’d be willing to switch for a week in order to view the Jays/Sox series next week.  E-mail me at tgreitsma@hotmail.com if you’d like to do that.