Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Manny Ramirez went 2 for 3 in his first Spring Training game with 3 RBIs that helped push the Red Sox over the Orioles in City of Palms Park by a score of 10-6. Ramirez's nice outing was joined by Coco Crisp who had a very nice day for himself in the leadoff spot in the order. Crisp was 3 for 3 with a double, a pair of singles, 2 runs scored, and a stolen base. Trot Nixon also had a good day going 1 for 1, walking twice, scoring twice, and knocking in a run. Mike Lowell went 1 for 2 and knocked in his first run of the spring. J.T. Snow was 1 for 3 with an RBI. Alex Gonzalez did not have a good day, he went 0 for 3 and made a throwing error. He's still trying to get readjusted to be being back in Fort Myers and not playing for Venezuela, I think. Let's remember, this guy isn't known for his bat. Neither was Edgar yet we expected Nomar Garciaparra of 1997 numbers from him for some reason.
The pitching wasn't as good as it could be. Papelbon started, allowing a pair of runs off 4 hits in 3 innings. Rudy Seanez and David Riske continued to be less than adequate. Seanez gave up 2 runs in an inning of work. Riske allowed 1 earned run and 2 runs total in the next inning. Cla Meredith got the win with 2 scoreless innings. Manny Delcarmen pitched a hitless 8th inning.
JOHN FLAHERTY RETIRES
Flaherty was vying for the backup catcher's spot behind Jason Varitek but instead he's decided to call it quits. Flaherty is a veteran of 14 seasons and although he didn't give a reason in any of his statements to the press, he just might not be feeling it anymore. Be that as it may, that's one down in the competition for the backup catcher's role.
SCHILLING LOOKING TO PITCH INSIDE
Interesting piece by the Associated Press's Howard Ulman:
Here's the article on Boston.com
I don't know if Schilling should stray away from a style which he is comfortable with, however he seems like the type of player that analyzes his performances and comes up with good strategies to improve himself. If this is what he wants to try, then he will probably be successful in doing it.
TEAM USA SQUEEZES BY MEXICO
It's hard to view the WBC as the Ultimate Baseball Competition, which is how it is being vigorously promoted by MLB, when pitchers are kept to pitch counts and hitters are in rusty spring training habits swinging at bad pitches and taking bad swings at good pitches. It is also difficult to get into baseball games when there is 6 inches of snow outside. However, it was still fun watching today's games. I must say, I was more excited about the Dominican beating Venezuela than I was about the US beating Mexico. I want the US to win this thing, but they are supposed to beat teams like Mexico. No offense to the Mexican team, but the US team is simply stacked. The Dominican win over Venezuela, however, was much less expected and it was nice to see David Ortiz beat up on the team that didn't want his new teammate Alex Gonzalez on their roster.
Mike Timlin got the win for Team USA by pitching a perfect 4th inning. Really, Jake Peavy deserved the win with 3 shutout, 1 hit innings to start the game, but for some reason the 5 inning rule for starters applies in the WBC. Oh well, that is something nice that Timlin can put on his resume. He won the first WBC game for the United States.
How awesome was it that the fans in Arizona were booing Alex Rodriguez? I don't know if it was the Mexican fans or the American fans or sections of both. However, it was indeed awesome.
Also in WBC action, Alex Cora went 0 for 1 with a walk for Puerto Rico in their 2-1 win over Panama. "Italy" slaughtered Australia 10-0 in 7 innings. I didn't know until today that any team up by 15 through 5 innings or by 10 through 7 wins via a slaughter rule. Half of "Italy's" RBIs came from American born players. All but 2 and a third innings were pitched by Michigan native Jason Grilli. My point is, "Italy" is a fake team.
South Africa is surprisingly hanging in there with Team Canada. The South Africans, arguably the 16th best team in the competition, had been up 4-3 but are still in the game down 6-4 to the Canadians who have much more Major League talent than the South Africans do.
Tomorrow afternoon, Canada plays the US and we will see Team Cuba for the first time in the WBC. It should be interesting to see how Cuba fares against other pro-level all-star teams.
BONDS A CHEATER? ACCORDING TO A BOOK, HE IS
According to a book that is about to come out, Barry Bonds used steroids and HGH. The book documents, in detail, Bonds performance enhancing drug usage and claims that the slugger started doping in 1998. Now, a lot of people are instantly believing this as fact just because it is in some book written by a pair of San Francisco Chronicle reporters. I'm going to play Devil's advocate. I think Bonds has taken HGH in the past, but there is no proof of that. Certainly, what we know about this book is not proof either. An excerpt will be in the March 13th issue of Sports Illustrated and I'm sure the book will be out in time to capitalize on this very convenient surge in free publicity.
I'm just going to say right now that I hate Barry Bonds. I hated him before he got huge and became the best hitter in the game. I hated him because he is an a-hole, takes up 3 locker rooms in the Giants clubhouse and has a recliner in there. I also think he is a cheater. But I can't prove it. There simply is no proof out there. Yet. So let's not convict the guy just because we don't like him and want to find something about him so we can tear him down. Let's investigate properly and let evidence make conclusions and not our own biases.
It will be interesting to read this book, however.
THE BRUINS WHIZ IT DOWN THEIR LEGS AGAIN
The Bruins needed to come back from the Olympic break and earn points. They needed wins, and OT losses. They have been in every game since they came back, but haven't gotten many points out of them. Since coming back, they have won a single game and lost three more. That's 2 points in 4 games. That won't cut it. The games have been close but the Bruins have lacked a killer edge to them. They lost 4-3 to Carolina, and lost 3-2 to Buffalo twice. They have a huge game Thursday night against Montreal in the BankNorth Garden. The Bruins have fallen 7 points behind Montreal for the 8th and final playoff spot. Not only that, the Islanders, Maple Leafs, and Thrashers are all in between us and the Canadiens. Conveniently, the Bruins will host the Islanders on Saturday. They're still in this one, folks. But they need a swift kick in the ass and need to get in gear.
Sources and Resources for this post:
Boston.com's Sports Section
World Baseball Classic
Yahoo! MLB Photos
Yahoo! Sports MLB Section
The Houston Chronicle
David Ortiz has three homeruns this Spring, that is more than the rest of the Red Sox have this Spring. He had two today against Venezuela, one off of Johann Santana who fooled the Red Sox in the opener of Grapefruit League play last week. Ortiz had a solo shot in the 2nd, and then hit a 2 run blast to start a 5 run rally in the 9th. At the time, the Dominicans led 6-5 and wanted some insurance. Venezuela had come back from behind twice in the Caribbean World Series to beat the DR and eventually win it all. Ortiz provided them with some insurance.
Ortiz was 2 for 3, with the two homeruns, 3 RBI, 3 Runs, and 2 walks. Julian Tavarez also saw some action. He pitched an inning and a third. He allowed an inherited runner to score with 2 outs in the 7th and then pitched a hitless 8th inning.
The Dominican Republic takes an early lead in Pool D with their 11-5 victory over Venezuela. The DR is essentially in the second round with this win. All they have remaining in the first round is a game against Italy and one against Australia. I don't think either of these teams has much of a chance against the Dominican or Venezuela. However, Australia could surprise a few people.
Sources and Resources for this post:
World Baseball Classic
Yahoo! MLB Photos
Kirby Puckett passed away on Monday from a stroke. He was only 45 years old, the second youngest member of the Hall of Fame to pass away behind only Lou Gehrig. Puckett was a great player whose career ended too soon due to glaucoma. Puckett helped the Twins claim two World Series titles. In the 1991 post-season, he hit 4 homers in 12 games, 2 in the World Series against the then upstart Atlanta Braves. That was one of the best World Series ever played, and it is one of the first I remember, thanks in large part to Mr. Puckett.
He was an All-Star in 10 of his 12 MLB seasons. He won 6 Gold Gloves as an outfielder and was a 6 time Silver Slugger winner. He never won the MVP but he was in the top 10 in voting on 7 occasions. He won a batting title in 1989 and led the league in hits 4 times. In his short but sweet career, he ammassed over 2,300 hits, over 1,000 runs, 1,000 RBI, 207 HRs, 134 SBs, and a career batting average of .318. He was a great player, and a loveable one.
TOUGH DECISIONS FOR CLEMENS
Roger Clemens is going to wait until after the World Baseball Classic until he makes a decision whether or not he will pitch in the Majors this season. If he decides to pitch, he must then decide where he'll pitch. As before, the contenders are the Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, and Rangers. The Rangers and the Red Sox each made video presentations to Roger. I'm sure all four teams made lucrative offers. I don't think this will be very much about money. If Roger cared about money so much, it'd be a no brainer that he would pitch this season. I think this will be about where he wants to end his career.
Some of the things I think Clemens will consider in making his decisions:
Clemens has a history with the Red Sox, Astros, and Yankees. However, one could argue that his history with the Red Sox is much more important to his career. He earned 3 of his 7 Cy Young awards with the Red Sox. He earned one each with the Astros and Yankees. Clemens won the 1986 AL MVP with the Sox, pitched 13 years out of his 22 in Boston, and won 192 of his 341 games. However, he did win a World Series with New York. Furthermore, his history with the Red Sox and the city of Boston isn't without its darker moments. He's gotten booed almost every time he's pitched there in an opposing uniform, was generally disliked in his last two seasons by a large contingent of fans, and was deemed to be washed up by the previous organization.
Roger will probably consider what his role on the team would be and who his teammates would be. On the Red Sox, he'd be on a World Series contending team. The same goes for Houston and New York. However, the Red Sox have much better pitching. He would probably be the #1 pitcher in Boston, but he'd be competing with Beckett and Schilling for that role. He's also have old friend Al Nipper as his pitching coach. Also, Terry Francona seems to be a universally respected and admired manager. But so isn't Joe Torre. On the Yankees, he'd be with Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina. He would be the Ace of the staff. In Houston, he'd be with his teammates from last season as well as buddy Andy Pettitte. On the Rangers, he'd be playing mostly with up and coming hitters and a grab bag of pitchers.
Is Roger willing to uproot and move back to the Northeast? The guy is considering not even playing baseball at all, which makes the move to New York or New England seem even more drastic. Roger's expressed an interest to pitch in the state of Texas his entire life. Is he willing to move back North where MLB baseball is life, and be 1,500 miles away from his home just for a season of baseball?
The manner in which Roger departed Boston and New York left sour tastes in the mouths of Red Sox and Yankees fans alike. Roger might not want to return to these places because of that. I know several Sox fans that still don't like Roger and claim that they won't like him if he returns. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd change their tune the minute Clemens is on the mound. But what if he doesn't have a strong start. Then the fans in Boston in New York that still hold a grudge against him will turn on him. Does Roger want this? Wouldn't he rather pitch in Texas where he is almost universally loved and where fans don't turn on a dime?
Roger has some tough decisions to make. There's a lot of give and take on this one. He's got several sets of decisions to make, actually. Does he play, or does he not play. Does he play in Texas or in the Northeast. Does he play for Houston, Texas, New York, or Boston.
Sources and Resources for this Post:
Yahoo! MLB Photos
Boston.com's Sports Section