Tuesday, March 13, 2007
FRIENDLY MEETING AT THE FORT
Spring Training Red Sox/Yankees games. What a joke. You know, I'm not watching the March meeting between the two AL powerhouses next season. It just isn't the same. I'm not accusing the players of anything, Spring Training is for getting into rhythm, not getting into the win column.
My experience in watching the Sox 7-5 win over New York might have been hampered by the fact that the Yankees only brought four regular players to Fort Myers. Which is understandable, of course. Or maybe watching it on YES! had something to do with it.
I'll be honest, YES! is nothing more than a propaganda machine for the New York Yankees. Every player in pinstripes is a god to them, and every player with a "B" on his hat is the Antichrist.
YES! started the game on tape delay due to live coverage of a Nets game. The game was supposed to start on YES! at 11, but they must have started earlier than that. I switched it on at 11 only to see that it was the top of the 2nd and New York was up 3-0.
When Manny Ramirez had difficulty gauging a rolling groundball into the left-field corner, the Yankee Information Ministers in the booth had a field day making fun of him. He had trouble precisely predicting where a ball would eventually end up, which probably allowed the triple to be a triple instead of a double. Nevertheless, IT'S FUCKING MARCH! You know, Yankee fans hate Manny Ramirez with a passion. The guy's not going to win any Gold Gloves out there, so we don't need every time he isn't Carl Yastrzemski out there to be analyzed and poked fun at.
The two Yankee ball washers took the 6th inning to revel in "Boston Massacre II" last season, the 5 game sweep of New York over the Sox in late August.
You know, in 1978 when the Yankees swept us in 4 games in the Boston Massacre, they actually went on to win the World Series. In 2006, even though New York made the playoffs and we didn't, they lost in the first round in 4 games. It was hardly a banner year for the $200 million men from the Bronx. Yet, they still gloat about it, which I find funny.
I remember a few years ago, back in 2000 and 2001 when Red Sox fans were so desperate for ammunition in arguments with Yankees fans that we'd brag about winning the season series, and miscellaneous regular season crap like that. It's nice to see that Yankees fans have now stooped that low, celebrating a regular season series in a year which can best be described as a massive failure for the Yankees.
My God, they're pathetic.
SOX NO CLOSER TO FINDING CLOSER...OR ARE THEY
There are still no clear front runners in Decision '07: The Search for a Closer. However, there is a rumor that the Sox have expressed an interest in Armando Benitez of the Giants. Benitez just had his first appearance of the spring, which was a scoreless inning. He claims that he expects to be available Opening Day.
The Giants are trying to shop him, most likely due to his declining healthiness. He had a hamstring surgery in '05 and an arthritic knee plagued him in '06.
Benitez has 280 career saves, but his last truly successful campaign was '04 when he had 47 saves, 64 appearances, and a 1.29 ERA. Although he is getting paid a significant amount of money (around $7 million this season), if we get San Fran to cover a bit of his salary, we could definitely use him. He's experienced, he's pitched in a pressurised market before, and he's been to the post-season several times. Although he's been plagued with the injury bug as of late, he's still only 34 years old.
If we get Benitez, he can be a strict closer, only pitching one inning and only in save situations. He'll be surrounded by good set-up guys like Timlin, Donneley, Okajima, and Tavarez, so he won't need to be overextended.
This is the last year of Benitez's three year deal with the Giants. So if we get him, we're not on the hook for very long.
MATSUZAKA "EXPERIMENTING" WITH ORIOLES
There's a time and place for everything, and it's called college. Or in the case of a ballplayer, it's Spring Training.
Speaking through a translator yesterday, Daisuke Matsuzaka claimed h was "experimenting" with the Orioles when Baltimore hit him for 4 runs. He wanted to see "where they would hit...where they wouldn't hit." Matsuzaka left a few pitches up high to Orioles hitters, but claims this was on purpose, in an effort to explore the upper regions of the strike zone. I think Daisuke learned that those regions are not very safe for pitchers to endeavor.
Orioles broadcaster and local oaf, Buck Martinez, (you know, the guy who managed Team USA to defeat at the WBC last year) claimed Matsuzaka was simply having difficulty adjusting to the quality hitting of the AL. He then made some comment about breaking balls, or ball breaking, or something. Apparently Buck missed the first inning when Matsuzaka fooled the Orioles and sent them down 1-2-3. It was only until the 4th inning when things started to go really bad and Daisuke gave up a few big hits to some minor leaguers.
Former Sox outfielder and the star of Canadian baseball Adam Stern probably had the wisest words of anyone:
"It's spring training. How many times have you seen guys come out here and be Babe Ruths and fade away? He's just trying to get comfortable. But already you can see he is effective in keeping people off-balance, and obviously that's huge."
Yes, Canadians are smarter than Buck Martinez.
TIMLIN STILL NOT READY TO GO
Mike Timlin turned 41 the other day, but still hasn't gotten going in spring. He was slated to appear in the Detroit game in Lakeland, but missed that. He is suffering from pains in his side. Whether or not he'll even start the season with the team is in doubt. Even if he got going right now, it would still be difficult for him to be ready to play by Opening Day. It looks like he'll probably start the season on the DL and stay in Florida to play in extended Spring Training.
Last season, Timlin seemed to break down as the innings he was asked to throw seemingly caught up to him. He pitched in 3 games and 5 innings for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. In retrospect, it was probably a mistake to allow a 40 year old to pitch in that thing. Timlin made 68 appearances for the Sox last year, pitching 64 innings. It was his lowest total number of appearances with the Red Sox. Over the past 4 seasons, he's been in 297 regular season games and 20 playoff games. He's got 1142 career innings of work in that right arm including the post-season.
I think his days of being a 70+ appearance set-up man are over.
Some good news out of Fort Myers is that Jon Lester is progressing nicely, pitching in minor league and simulated games. He claims that by April, he'll be ready for regular rotation duty in either Pawtucket or Boston. I think he'll end up in Pawtucket, but I wouldn't be shocked in the least if he makes a few starts with the big club.
PATRIOTS SIGN A PAIR OF RECEIVERS
The aggressive off-season for the Patriots continued as Donte Stallworth and Kelley Washington were signed to deals. The receiving corps was a notable shortcoming of the Patriots last season, but the addition of the speedy Stallworth (38 receptions, 725 yards with Philly last year) and the more physical Kelley Washington give Tom Brady and the offense some legitimate weaponry in the passing game. With Reche Caldwell, Jabbar Gaffney, and Wes Welker; we have a very solid group of WRs.
Troy Brown is still an unsigned, unrestricted free agent whose future with the team is in doubt. However, the Pats might want to keep him around for another season as a 6th WR and a leader. Wherever he ends up, Troy was, is, and always will be Mr. Patriot.
The Patriots are now an estimated $4 million under the cap, including considerations for upcoming draft picks. Their major spending is probably over for the offseason.
I can't wait for the draft.
In other New England sports news, UNH, BC, BU, and UMass make up the semi-finalists in the Hockey East tournament this year.