Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Minnesota Twins 4
Boston Red Sox 4

Round 1 of the Mayor's Cup ended in a 4-4 tie, with the game called in the 10th inning. The most interesting parts of the game were seeing Brandon Moss, a pitcher, pinch run, get picked off, and get to second anyway; and some guy named Chris Smith (#97 in your programs, #1 in your hearts) pitch the 10th inning. You usually don't see numbers as high as 97 outside of hockey or football.

I was forced to listen to this game online, and listen to the Twins Radio Network, as MLB Radio was working through some February jitters. The announcers were good, although there was a glaring "duuuuh" statement. Joe Mauer hit a homerun, and one of the Twins radio guys remarked "There's a slight win, but that ball had enough to carry out of the ballpark." Well, obviously. It went over the wall, right?

I also heard Twins manager Ron Gardenheyer (mispelled terribly) bark like a dog to his wife in some commercial. And if I'm ever in North Dakota, I now know where I should go to buy hardware and home improvement supplies.

Anyway, to the game...

Schilling started, went 2 innings, was decent, gave up a pair of well hit (but not very well hit) singles, threw 19 pitches and was done.

After Curt was pulled, a string of potential closers came in. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for Installment #1 of...

Joel Pineiro had a very unimpressive outing. He was hurt by an error (charged to Lugo, but Youk could have gotten it according to the broadcasters), but still allowed 2 hits, which resulted in a run. It was an unearned run, but it was as close to being earned as you can get.

Brendan Donnelly pitched the 4th inning and was perfect. Groundout, fly-our, strikeout. Of course, this was against Matt LeCroy (who might not make the Twins this season), Ken Harvey (last MLB at-bat was in 2005 with Kansas City), and Luis Rodriguez (290 career MLB at-bats, .255 average). So this wasn't exactly Murderer's Row that Donnelley dominated.

Julian Tavarez pitched the 5th inning, and didn't pitch it very well. I know Mauer is a good hitter, and one mistake to a good hitter, and the ball is probably leaving the park. But it was a 3 run homer, not a solo shot. Tavarez was making a lot of mistakes. It's probably just because it's still February, but his 4 hit, 3 earned run inning was not good.

Delcarmen pitched a 1 hit shutout 6th, but by this point the Twins were all backups or minor leaguers.

JC Romero had a hitless inning of work with a strikeout. He also picked a batter off.

Runelvys Hernandez pitched a 1 hit 9th inning, which is great in a regular season game, but with very little meaning in a Spring Training game.

So here are the rankings of closer candidates based on Spring performances:

1. Brendan Donnelly
2. Manny Delcarmen
3. JC Romero
4. Runelvys Hernandez
5. Joel Pineiro
6. Julian Tavarez

1% of precincts reporting.

Still too early to call.

The other interesting thing to watch with the Sox this Spring Training is who will fill the four "open" roster spots. The way I see it, here are the 22 players who will, barring injury or car show, will be on the Opening Day roster:

C Jason Varitek
C Doug Mirabelli
1B Kevin Youkilis
2B Dustin Pedroia
3B Mike Lowell
@@ Julio Lugo
IF Alex Cora
LF Manny Ramirez
CF Coco Crisp
RF JD Drew
OF Wily Mo Pena
DH David Ortiz
SP Curt Schilling
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka
SP Josh Beckett
SP Tim Wakefield
SP Jonathan Papelbon
RP Mike Timlin
RP Julian Tavarez
RP Brandan Donnelly

Now, I think the Sox will carry Eric Hinske is a backup corner infielder, as well as a possible outfield replacement, but if we decide to go with 12 pitchers, there isn't room for him.

The potential pitchers to fill out the roster are: Manny Delcarmen, Joel Pineiro, JC Romero, Hideki Okajima, Craig Hansen, Runelvys Hernandez, and Javier Lopez.

Tonight, we saw three of these potential roster fillers. Delcarmen was decent in a late inning, as were Romero and Hernandez. Pineiro was not so good. But it's still February, and there's a lot more Spring Training to go.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Sox split up and go up the coast to Dunedin to face Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays, and stay in Fort Myers to face Northeastern.

The Sox absolutely OWN Northeastern.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007



You should never, ever, expect Manny to do anything except the unexpected. We in Red Sox Nation were all informed through Manny's PR frontman Julian Tavarez, and then officially through the Red Sox that Manny Ramirez would not arrive in Fort Myers until March 1st, with the reason being that he wanted to spend time with his sick mother. Then we found out about a car show in Atlantic City he was planning to attend before reporting to Spring Training. That's when it hit the fan, and the fan could definitely feel it.

Then Manny surprised everyone by not only skipping the car show, but reporting to camp yesterday, 3 days earlier than expected. It seemed like another Manny induced malignant clubhouse tumor had been averted, and the day had been saved.

But let's not forget that Manny was still late for Spring Training. Let's not forget that even though he didn't go to the car show, he still wasn't in Fort Myers. Let's not forget that he informed the Red Sox of his intentions through Tavarez. Let's not forget that he's kept his teammates in the dark throughout all of this. And let's not forget that he is Manny Ramirez, and will once again "be Manny" in the future.

Curt Schilling was denied his contract extension for the 2008 season. The move was not a surprise, because the Red Sox are about trying to win ballgames and not appeasing The Blowhard. Curt wanted $13M guaranteed before he threw a pitch in Red Sox uniform, and the Sox rightfully denied him this. If he has a good season and looks capable of pitching into 2008, then the Sox will do what they can to retain him.

I'll give Curt credit, he doesn't want contract BS to go on during the regular season. But he also forgets that the date to declare free agency occurs well after the end of the season, not well before it. But Curt has essentially already declared. I don't think he's greedy for money, but like most ballplayers he is greedy for respect. And that respect just so happens to be demonstrated through money.

Strangely enough, there isn't much frustration among Sox fans concerning this. Perhaps we're all too excited about Matsuzaka to pay full attention to Curt, or perhaps all of our ire is being focused on Manny. Or maybe a large chunk of Red Sox Nation worship Curt Schilling as the man who single-handedly won us the World Series. Hopefully few of these people are registered voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Curt is acting like a big baby, he put an ultimatum to the Red Sox that was simply ridiculous and selfish. If Pedro did something like this, people would be trying to run him out of town. But Curt doesn't have an accent, and his skin is fair. I'm not accusing anyone of anything, I just think that it's a bit odd that he's gotten a free pass by many fans. Last week, did a poll asking about whether or not the Sox should extend Schilling's contract. Of the 8,700+ votes, 41.8% sided with Schilling, accusing the Red Sox of making a big mistake.

To quote Maurice Vaughn: "Dumb, stupid Boston fans, they're STUPID!"

Now, Curt is a professional, and he'll pitch his best. We all know that he will. But I don't like how he's responding to this. After all, he put the ultimatum to the Sox to sign him "or else." He was the one who surprised everyone by announcing he wasn't going to retire at the end of the season only a month before Spring Training started. Remember, the Sox are long-term thinkers, and they probably figured Curt would be out of the picture in '08. Now all of a sudden, he pops back in and demands $13M upfront. Curt needs to realize he was being stupid and impatient.

I don't like the fact that Curt engages in an internet flamewar against Dan Shaughnessey. I think it's ironic that Shank is the one not posting messages on Sons of Sam Horn, whereas the millionaire pro ballplayer is. Next thing you know, Curt will challenge Shaughnessey to an online duel of Halo to settle the score between them.

You can read Curt's post on SOSH here, his screename is Gehrig38.

I don't disagree with most of what Curt says in the post, and I think it's cool that he interacts with fans this way, but if he responds to some criticism from a sportswriter by blasting him on an internet messageboard, what the hell will he do when CNN criticizes his lack of political experience, or his inability to comprehend that Hillary Clinton is FOR the war in Iraq during some sort of Senate campaign?


I can't believe I'm writing about this. Even more unbelievable is that when I read about Matsuzaka throwing BP, I got really excited.

Daisuke threw 44 pitches in his first BP session on Saturday. Yesterday he threw 50 pitches. The batters who faced him included Wily Mo Pena, David Ortiz, Julio Lugo, and Manny Ramirez. Manny only saw three pitches and didn't swing at any of them. Ortiz was the only hitter to get a "hit" off him, a groundball single.

Imagine how exciting it will be when he pitches in a Spring Training game. Speaking of which...

Wed 2/28 vs. Minnesota: Curt Schilling
Thu 3/1 at Toronto (SS): Kason Gabbard
Thu 3/1 vs. Northeastern (SS): Josh Beckett
Fri 3/2 vs. Toronto (SS): Kyle Snyder
Fri 3/2 vs. Boston College (SS): Daisuke Matsuzaka
Sat 3/3 vs. Philadelphia: Tim Wakefield*

SS = Split Squad game
* = Jonathan Papelbon will get work in this game in the early middle innings

The following Spring Training games will be available on television:

Wed 2/28 7:05 vs. Minnesota - NESN
Sat 3/3 1:05 vs. Philadelphia - NESN
Wed 3/7 1:05 vs. NY Mets - NESN
Mon 3/12 7:05 vs. NY Yankees - NESN
Sat 3/17 1:05 vs. Cincinnati - NESN
Sun 3/18 1:05 at Baltimore - NESN
Wed 3/21 1:05 at Pittsburgh - ESPN
Thu 3/22 1:05 at Philadelphia - ESPN
Sun 3/25 1:05 vs. Florida - NESN
Mon 3/26 1:05 at Cincinnati - ESPN
Wed 3/28 7:05 at Minnesota - NESN

Upcoming Spring Training games on WRKO 680:

Wed 2/28 7:05 vs. Minnesota
Fri 3/2 6:05 vs. Boston College
Mon 3/5 1:05 vs. Los Angeles
Wed 3/7 1:05 vs. NY Mets
Thu 3/8 1:05 vs. Toronto
Sat 3/10 1:05 at Detroit
Mon 3/12 7:05 vs. NY Yankees
Wed 3/14 1:05 vs. Pittsburgh

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I think Red Sox Nation was prepared to shrug off Manny's tardiness, seeing as how his mother had just come out of surgery. Perhaps we weren't happy about it, but it seemed like a legit excuse. Then we found out that he was (and probably still is) planning to attend a classic car auction in AC this weekend. He was planning to do this long before we heard about his mother getting sick. This is despite the fact that he was supposed to be at Fort Myers before, and during the car auction.

I'm not going to go overboard about this. We pretty much have no choice, we need Manny's bat in the lineup. Part of me does wonder when his BS will go past the point of a legal breach of contract, but I still want his bat in the lineup. So long as he hits his 30 to 40 homers and knocks in his 110 to 120 runs, whatever.

But it's a shame. It's a shame for Manny most of all. He could go down in history as one of the best right handed hitters in baseball, and be part of a legacy of Sox outfielders who are and/or deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. But unlike predecessors like Ted Williams, and Jim Rice, who were disliked mostly by the media, Manny is directly making enemies with the fans by pulling crap like this. You get paid $20M to play baseball, and you can't even show up to work on time? IT'S BASEBALL!!!!!

His final career numbers could eclipse 550 HRs, 2,000 RBI, and come close to 3,000 hits. Those are Hall of Fame numbers. And his consistency and lack of overly bulging muscles suggests he's done this without the assistance of steroids. He's a great hitter, but people will remember him as a lousy teammate.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Shaughnessey had a column in the Globe about Jack Roush that was somewhat infuriating for me to read. Shaughnessey knows little about NASCAR, but like every other subject he knows little about, he decided to formulate opinions with his mole hill of knowledge. He insinuated that Roush was somehow anti-Japanese, or anti-global because he opposes the introduction of Toyota to NASCAR. Shaughnessey then went on to say that this attitude was contrary to the Red Sox and their endeavor to assimilate themselves to Japanese culture.

Here's the thing, Roush is against Toyota, not because Toyota is Japanese, but because Toyota is a competitor to his Fords. If you want to know the truth, I think Roush hates Chevrolet much more than he hates Toyota, but Chevrolet has been in NASCAR forever, so there's no way he's going to drive them out.

A little side note, I watched the Daytona 500 this weekend, and only once did they refer to the Roush cars as being owned by Roush-Fenway. In the pre-race, post-race, and during the race, there was little to no talk about Roush selling half his team to John Henry. It seems like the transaction is a much bigger deal to Red Sox Nation than it is to NASCAR Nation. What does that tell you? It tells you that Red Sox Nation is loaded with xenophobic, overreacting, ignorant elitists, and NASCAR Nation isn't. Surprising, eh?

Daisuke Matsuzaka will train for the season in similar fashion to the way he trained in Japan, by throwing a lot more than anyone else is throwing. He played long-toss the other day on what was supposed to be an off-day. Francona reported that he threw as long as about 220 feet, which is quite long, and the longest long-toss Francona had ever seen. I can't believe I just wrote a paragraph about a guy throwing long-toss. But it's Matsuzaka, so it is news.

When Curt Schilling said "I'll be ready to start Opening Day," he essentially said that he was starting Opening day. The "Ace" of the staff will probably start the season as the #1 pitcher, with Beckett coming off an inconsistent season, and Matsuzaka adjusting to MLB. But if I were Curt, I wouldn't get so high and mighty. The job of best pitcher on the team is still wide open, and let us not forget that Curt ended last season with strings of inconsistency and bad performance. He may chalk up some of the lack of 2nd half wins to being up against other Number 1 pitchers, but HE IS a number 1 pitcher, so he will inevitably go up against other #1s.

Curt already has his stats ready, he intends to win 25 games over the next 2 seasons. This unimpressive number seems to fly in the face of the money he is asking for. He's getting about $13M to pitch this season, and wants a similar amount for 2008. And he wants it right now. I'm sorry, Curt, but I think we could find better than a 12 win pitcher for $13 million, or at least, we could find a younger one with more of a future.

This morning JD Drew, and David Ortiz reported to Fort Myers. Today is physical day for position players and it is mandatory for everyone not named Manny Ramirez to be here for that. Wily Mo Pena also reported yesterday, after erroneously arriving at City of Palms Park only to be the only one there. The club was exercising elsewhere.

When asked about Manny, Francona remarked essentially that he wasn't going to comment on speculation. He insisted that he would wait until he was in communication with Manny or his agent. He wouldn't comment on what Manny's "publicist Julian" had to say.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Spring time is nearing. The days are getting longer, the Sox are down in Fort Myers, February is nearly finished, and soon the flowers will bloom and bunnies will hop around etcetera. But the first true sign that Spring is upon is isn't Spring Training, nor is it that the weather is getting warmer. We all know Spring is coming because Manny Ramirez is doing something confusing, he's being Manny.

Almost everyone is down in Fort Myers, training for the exhibition season as a team. But Manny is two hours away, wit his mother. She has just had some surgery, and understandably, Manny is spending some time with her. Not so understandably, the team and the rest of Red Sox Nation found out through Julian Tavarez. Last year, Manny, and the Sox, announced that he would not arrive at Fort Myers until March 1st. This year, Manny told Julian Tavarez that he would not be in Fort Myers until March 1st.

Manny Ramirez needs a handler, someone who will speak for him in the media, and advise him on what to do and what not to do. This is not something to do. After laying down at the end of last season, the proper thing to do, if one wants to prove that they didn't lie down, is not to be late for training. And if you are going to be late, announce it as soon as possible. You gain no sympathy from your teammates, your coaches, or your fans, if you call up your buddy Julian and tell him to tell everyone else that you'll be late.

What does a guy like Dustin Pedroia think when this BS happens? How about Daisuke Matsuzaka? There's only so much Manny Being Manny that a team can take.

Friday, February 16, 2007


A few days ago, just before the beginning of Spring Training as well as the Daytona 500, John Henry and Jack Roush racing entered a partnership. For about $50 million, Henry bought 50% of the NASCAR team, which is one of the largest and most prominent in the sport.

For those who don't know, Roush Racing is a very large and successful team. It is probably the closest thing Ford has to a factory team, and the relationship between Roush and Ford is very close. The team fields 4 full-time NEXTEL Cup cars, along with a part-time car. There is also a number of BUSCH Series and Craftsman Truck Series vehicles owned by Roush (these series are the NASCAR equivalent of AAA, and AA). Roush has a highly organized developmental process for young drivers, and also sells a number of cars, parts, and engineering services to other Ford teams.

Roush is coming off a not so stellar season, but their size and strength is still unquestioned. This deal makes a lot of sense for them considering the amount of capital they, along with other Ford teams, will need to invest in developing cars in order to compete with Dodge and Toyota teams, which have a great deal of factory backing.

I think the deal also makes sense for the Fenway Sports Group, as NASCAR can be a lucrative investment, as well as a prestigious one. Despite what some may say, it is no longer a regional hick sport. However, this move to invest in NASCAR would have been better had it come a few years ago, when NASCAR was still booming. Although the sport is still growing, its rate of growth is much smaller than it once was.

A few people on WEEI are worried that the Red Sox will be "shoving NASCAR" down people's throats. I really don't see how that would be possible. How does one exactly shove a sport down anyone's throats. And judging by the fact that concerts at Fenway Park aren't shoved down any throats, I think it's safe to say that NASCAR won't be showed anywhere.

It's been "breaking news" all over NESN,, and WEEI whenever Matsuzaka is questioned by the media. I don't see what the big deal is. What can he really say that will be so impressive? Are we that starved for baseball season to start that we're weak at the knees whenever there's a translated press conference. And how long do these things have to take? A US reporter will ask one of his long, stupid, complicated questions, it'll get translated into Japanese, Dice-K will answered, and it will get translated back into English. All this effort in order to answer questions as silly as "What do you think about how much the Sox paid for you?" or "Have you talked to any of your teammates about how much media is surrounding you?" Honestly, let's wait until he actually throws a pitch in a Spring Training game, then we can utilize this vast and intricate linguistic nightmare in order to find out important things that actually pertain to the game of baseball.

And I really do hope Matsuzaka can find a good "play-catch" partner.

Hideki Okajima, the OTHER Japanese pitcher we signed this season, who many fans have dismissed as an asset for helping Matsuzaka adjust to MLB, arrived in Fort Myers, carrying his own bags, not being attended to by an entourage of handlers, and with no $2.5 million background behind him.

I'm not saying I feel bad for Hideki, and I'm sure he's happy to be here, but I'm starting to wonder, what if some of the Red Sox start to resent the special treatment that Matsuzaka is receiving? Ballplayers can often have larger than life egos, and some guys might not like how Matsuzaka seems to be stealing the spotlight in town. I'm not naming names, and I'm not making a prediction, I'm just saying it is a small concern I'm having with all this balley hoo surrounding Daisuke.

I'll be one of the first to say this, though, welcome to the Red Sox, Hideki. If I knew Japanese, or could type Japanese characters, I'd type it in Japanese.

Alliteration is fun.

Just a few details concerning JD Drew's deal.

If Drew doesn't play in 500 games by 2010 (125 games per season), he will see $9 million of his 2011 salary deferred. If he doesn't play 375 games from 2008 to 2010 (also 125 games per season), the same money will also be deferred.

The $9 million deferred would have a 1% interest and would not be fully collected by Drew until 2030, if man is still alive (reference to the Zager & Evans song). This is a small comfort, knowing that the Sox can withhold a little money in case drew isn't all that healthy.

Keith Foulke retired before ever playing in any kind of game for the Cleveland Indians. He exited the Sox unceremoniously, and never had a chance to pitch against the team he helped to win the 2004 World Series. As much crap as Foulke took for his Burger King remarks, he was a major part of winning the World Series, so thanks, Keith.

Kevin Youkilis showed up to Fort Myers a few days early, and a few pounds lighter. Youk remarked that he felt as if he was "dragging" a bit last season at times.

The Red Sox avoided arbitration with outfielder Wily Mo Pena. They offered and he accepted a 1 year, $1.875 million deal.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Today Daisuke Matsuzaka officially "arrived" at Spring Training. His activities were mostly being interviewed by the media. He also played catch with George Kotteras, a recently signed addition to the team. Kotteras will probably be the team's 3rd catcher this season. Daisuke also found his locker, which was right in between Jason Varitek and Hideki Okajima.

The Red Sox are really going all out to make Matsuzaka's transition as smoothe as possible. From coaches and staff learning phrases in Japanese, to facilitating the massive contingent of Japanese media following Matsuzaka around.

From watching some of his condensed games from the WBC (they were on YouTube, as soon as I find them, I can post them back up again), I've developed a few observations and thoughts on Matsuzaka.

He goes very deeply into counts, often falling behind or failing to get ahead. This isn't such a bad thing, as he has confidence to throw any pitch in any situation (reminiscent of Pedro in that regard). I'm somewhat concerned that perhaps MLB hitters will take advantage of this. The more pitches any hitter sees in an at-bat, the more likely he will hit one and hit it well. The batters in MLB adjust very well within their at-bats. Furthermore, the other hitters watching are also able to learn. NPB hitters aren't minor league hitters, per se, but they aren't on the same level as MLB hitters.

I also am worrying about the confidence he has with any pitch in any situation. Against NPB hitters, this has worked out nicely, but MLB hitters are far different. He might not be able to rely on his sheer talent to overwhelm a hitter no matter what the count is.

I also think that when Matsuzaka begins pitching to MLB hitters, they will have a slight edge. They will have seen an array of his pitches before ever facing him. If Matsuzaka struggles just a little bit, due to new surroundings, the 5 man rotation, hitters knowing his pitches, whatever, he might begin to lose some of that confidence. This is a player who has been the best since he was in high school (and perhaps even before that). Many times, even the best athletes struggle when they face competition with a talent level similar to their own.

I saw Daisuke throw some really good pitches in these videos, many of them in pressure situations. And he came out on top. So I've seen some of his talent, and it looks good. But what will truly be tested this season and seasons ahead, will be his character.

The Boston Celtics are finally back in the headlines around Boston and the nation.
Why? Because they're trying their best to get the #1 pick in the NBA draft. The Celtics are 12-38 on the season, have lost their last 18 straight games, Right now, the Celtics have the worst record in the NBA, one game behind the Memphis Grizzlies. Of course, this failure could backfire and an unlucky bounce of the ping pong balls could result in a less than stellar draft pick for the Celtics.

Which would really make them suck.

BU won the Beanpot Tournament for the 3rd year in a row, the 11th time in 13 years, and the 28th time overall. They did it in style with a 2-1 win over rival BC in Overtime.

Monday, February 12, 2007


The equipment truck left Fenway Park at 1 PM today, bound for Fort Myers. It's beginning to look a lot like Spring Training.

Papelbon, Lester, Delcarmen, and Becket are already in Fort Myers. Matsuzaka will be arriving sometime tonight, I believe.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Translation: The Dominican Republic wins Caribbean World Series.

Winter baseball ended with its annual bang. The DR finished the CWS with a 5-1 record, only losing to Puerto Rico on the last day.

Two members of the Red Sox were featured in the CWS. Alex Cora started at third base for Puerto Rico and hit leadoff in all 6 of their games. Puerto Rico finished 2nd in the CWS with a 4-2 record. Julian Tavarez started in the Dominican Republic's 7-1 victory over Venezuela.

Cora went 8 for 22 (.364 average) with 4 RBI and 2 runs scored. He had a few extra basehits and slugged .455.

In Tavarez's start, he pitched 5.1 innings, allowing just 1 earned run off 3 his and a walk. He threw 75 pitches, 47 of which were strikes. That's a 1.69 ERA in that start and a WHIP of 0.750. Tavarez also sustained a mild ankle sprain during the game, but it is not believed to be serious. He remained in the game and did not require X-rays.

Just a few notes as Spring Training grows closer.

The Red Sox are still in disagreement with Wily Mo Pena about his salary. Pena is requesting his salary be raised to $2.2 million, a raise of about $1 million over last season, while the Red Sox have offered as high as $1.725 million. The matter appears to be heading into arbitration, where a "neutral" third-party will determine which amount Pena should be paid this year. If this does go to arbitration, it will be the first arbitration for the Sox since Theo Epstein has been the GM.

Pena will probably end up as our 4th outfielder, but will probably see a good deal of playing time as a right-handed power hitter both off the bench and against tough left-handed pitchers. Also, with JD Drew's injury history, Coco Crisp's lack of consistency in '06 in Manny Being Manny, having a good 4th outfielder will be important for the long season ahead.

Matt Clement has yet to throw a baseball in his return from shoulder surgery. It is very likely he will miss the entire 2007 season, his last under contract with the Red Sox.

Jon Lester has already reported to Fort Myers in order to get ready for Spring Training. He will most likely begin the season at AAA Pawtucket, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him up in Boston for spot starts during the season. He is currently listed at 6th on the Red Sox depth chart for starting pitchers.

Curt Schilling seriously needs to shut up. This whole "sign me by Opening Day or I'll file for free agency" crap is really aggravating. Curt, you signed a contract, it expires at a given time. You're old and you're mediocre now. You're not going to get locked up for another season at $13 million just because you say so. If you honestly think you'll get that $13 million on the free market at the end of 2007, I think you're being a tad delusional. And if you do pitch well enough to deserve such an investment, then I'm sure the Red Sox would be more than happy to pay you. So have some patience, and some respect. Remember, this team is trying to win World Series rings, not keep you happy. They're not going to shell out $13M, or about 9% of what will probably be this year's total player salary, on a hunch that a 40 year old pitcher will be worth it. Does Curt's childish behavior remind anyone else of Nomar?

Just a quick question, why do the Boston Globe and Boston Herald each have different Spring Training countdowns on their web-sites? The Herald has Spring Training about a day before the Globe has it. What's with the confusion?

Here is a list of 18 non-roster invitees to Red Sox Spring Training:

Abe Alvarez
Adam Bernero
Mike Burns
Bryan Corey
Runelvys Hernandez
Travis Hughes

Dusty Brown
Kevin Cash
Alberto Castillo

Jeff Bailey
Luis Jimenez
Joe McEwing
Ed Rogers
Bobby Scales
Chad Spann

Jacoby Ellsbury
Alex Ochoa
Kerry Robinson

There is still extremely little word coming out of the Manny Ramirez camp. Manny hasn't been heard from since December and his agents are pretty hush-hush about his "state of mind" whatever that means.

Francona seems to think that "He's OK." But would terry ever say anything other than that?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Cue dramatic music.

But there is a looming question as Spring Training comes closer and closer. Who is going to finish games for the Boston Red Sox this season?

The Red Sox seem hell-bent on keeping Papelbon in the rotation, which probably means that they feel strongly that him playing as a reliever would be very detrimental to his arm health. But the red Sox failed to sign any proven closer over the off-season. There were few available, and those that were out there were quite expensive and/or coming off of injuries and/or not really all that special.

Mike Timlin boasts the most closing experience and the best resume for the job. He's finished a total of 422 regular season games in his career and has 139 Saves, including 9 last season and 25 as a member of the Red Sox. However, the soon to be 41 year old righty is starting to show signs of wear and tear. Last season, he seemed to slowly be degraded as more and more innings were piled onto that very experienced right arm of his. Counting the playoffs, Timlin has thrown 1,142 Major League innings, in 999 appearances. Over the past 4 years, he's made 297 regular season appearances. This is quite a lot of pitching for someone in his late 30's and early 40's. I think that in order to keep Timlin truly effective this season, he should be limited to somewhere around 40 appearances AT THE MOST. We need a dependable and experienced guy like him to be healthy for the playoffs. A closer for the Sox will probably need to make at least 50 appearances and will have to be called on multiple times to pitch more than 1 inning and more than two games in a row. So although Timlin probably could close, in order to keep him healthy, I think it would be unwise to make him close.

Craig Hansen seems like the next most sensible option to close games for the Sox. He was pretty much drafted as a closer out of St. John's, where he recorded 25 Saves. He's got the potential for devastating "closer stuff" with a very fast fast ball and a mean slider. Last year was a good year in the minors for Craig with a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings at AA Portland, and a 2.75 ERA in 36 innings at AAA Pawtucket. But his performance in the Majors was hardly impressive. His 6.63 ERA and 1.61 WHIP were the numerical signs of a pitcher who essentially featured one pitch and was beaten consistently by Major League hitting. Hansen should begin the season as a reliever in AAA Pawtucket. And if he does well, he might be the closer by the end of the season. But it might be too risky, particularly for his confidence, to start him off in the Majors in '07 and as a closer.

Mann Delcarmen is in a similar situation to Hansen, but perhaps a little bit further along the developmental road. Very good minor league numbers last year, coupled with unimpressive MLB numbers. He seems to be coming along nicely though and will probably begin the season with the big club, and not Pawtucket. But his lack of consistency and reliability jeopardizes him as a closer. A good closer is someone who will be very good for that final inning at least 4 times out of 5. Delcarmen was not truly capable of this last season. Also, when he struggled, he was very hittable. In other words, he wasn't able to pitch extremely cleverly and get away with a bad outing. This is another thing a good closer will do quite frequently.

Brendan Donnelly is another possible option for closer. Although he only has 4 career saves under his belt, he has shown a proficiency for pitching late in games and in big situations. He's got 74 career Holds and has expressed a willingness to finish games. However, last season was not his best, he had a slightly better than average 3.94 ERA. He does tend to do very well against right-handed hitters, who were held to just hitting .204 off him last season. And he does fairly well against lefties, too. He is definitely a viable option as a closer. Although, he is not a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination.

Julian Tavarez demonstrated a good deal of versatility last season as he pitched nearly 100 innings. He was sometimes a starter and sometimes a reliever. He probably won't break into the Sox rotation in 2007 barring an unforeseen calamity or decision. Even if either Schilling, Wakefield, Papelbon, Beckett, or Matsuzaka were injured or moved to the bullpen, we still have Lester waiting in the wings. So it's pretty clear that Tavarez, at least for now, will be coming out of the bullpen. Julian does have a nice resume for relieving. He was 11 for 14 in save opportunities with Pittsburgh in 2003 and has scattered 22 saves over his career. He also has 83 Holds since 1999, including a very nice 32 Holds in 2005 with St. Louis. So he's definitely capable of pitching late in the game. He could be an option for closer because of this.

Javier Lopez was a bit of a steal for the Red Sox last season as he had a nice 2.27 ERA, albeit in 16.2 IP. He was 1 for 1 in Save opportunities in '06, and had 6 Holds, bringing his career total to 39. However, this is not a very large sample to draw from, and his career ERA of 5.66 is troublesome. Then again, this was mostly from time spent in Colorado. One very nice thing for Lopez last season was that he did pitch a decent amount against right-handed hitting and did fairly well, holding righties to .204. He is a contender for the job.

Other possibilities include Hideki Okajima, who will probably be featured more as a left-handed specialist; JC Romero, who has probably already seen his best days; and Davern Hansack, who has 10 career MLB innings all of which came at the end of last season.

In my honest opinion, closer by committee would theoretically work with this group. None of them is clear-cut above the others to be the next closer, but all of them seem capable of doing the job. Let's say Timlin was the primary closer, but was not to be used too frequently, with Donnely as a secondary option and Lopez brought in to finish games against left-handed threats. I think it would work, but only in theory. The problem is, ballplayers are creatures of habit, understandably so. They like knowing what they will be asked to do before they are asked to do it. Relievers seem to like knowing what their particular role will be in a game and have those roles be the same day in and day out.

Therefore, I think Brendan Donnely will begin the 2007 season as our closer, with Timlin featured as a set-up man, along with Tavarez. Okajima pitching to lefties, Delcarmen being a middle man, and Piniero being a long reliever. But I do also think this situation will be very fluid, with Hansen being in Pawtucket, Delcarmen another year further along, and other large question marks which will be developing answers throughout the season. I think by the All-Star break, we will have a solidified idea of what our bullpen looks like.