Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Eric has agreed to waive his no-trade clause and join the Red Sox as a set-up pitcher.



Now, this is different from the Red Sox "getting Gagne." Very different. There are reports that the Red Sox and Rangers have come to an agreement to trade Eric Gagne. Gagne has a limited no-trade clause, which includes the Red Sox as a team he cannot be traded to without his permission.

Gagne has 177 career saves. He has 7 career blown saves. That's 96.2%. This season he's got 16 saves in 17 attempts, with a 2.16 ERA and a 1.050 WHIP. He's had some injury problems the past few years, but he's also been one of the best relievers thus far in the 21st century.

But he has that limited no-trade clause. And the question will be asked "What will his role be with the Red Sox?" Does he become the closer? Does he become a platoon closer with Papelbon? Does he become a set-up pitcher? most likely, he will become the primary right handed set-up option in front of Papelbon. He also becomes the #2 closer on the team, in case Papelbon has worked the previous 2 nights or something.

He also has an incentive clause in his contract for Games Finished. He probably won't be finishing very many games, so the Red Sox might rework that clause and guarantee the money he would have gotten paid had he reached the incentive.

With Mike Timlin's health a big question mark, Manny Delcarmen having a mere 82.1 Major League innings under his belt, and Brendan Donnelley just starting to throw a ball again, we needed some help in the pen.

If this trade goes through, the end of our bullpen looks really strong. We have Papelbon in the 9th. Gagne and Okajima for the 8th and 7th. Delcarmen for the 6th (if necessary), and so on.

But what did we give up? Kason Gabbard, David Murphy (AAA Pawtucket), and a GCL prospect. Giving up Murphy isn't a big loss considering we have Moss and Ellsbury still down in Pawtucket. Gabbard is the big part of the deal for the Sox. Kason was 4-0 in 7 starts with a 3.73 ERA. He pitched well, but it seemed to me as though he was pitching above his head. He may end up being a very good starting pitcher in the Majors, but Gagne is a proven reliever.

I like this deal. I like it a lot. It reminds me of the Dave Roberts acquisition in 2004. We got Roberts to be a 4th outfielder and come off the bench to run, even though he was a starting outfielder and wanted to be a starting outfielder. Gagne will be asked to set-up, even though he is really a closer.

Monday, July 30, 2007


The Red Sox have been talking with the White Sox regarding the services of Jermaine Dye. Dye is in his last year of a contract, and the floundering White Sox are attempting to offload him.

The Globe reported earlier today, that someone reported to them, that a deal was close. Then just a few minutes ago, the Globe reported that the deal was not close to being done.

Reportedly, the Red Sox will send Wily Mo Pena, along with either Justin Masterson or Manny Delcarmen for Dye. Right now, the Red Sox are hesitant to ship Masterson or Delcarmen. Delcarmen is our best right handed set-up pitcher as of right now. Masterson is playing in AA Portland after starting the year in A Lancaster. Masterson is one of the top prospects in our organization. He's 4-0 in 4 starts in Portland with a 1.77 ERA in 26 innings.

JD Drew is struggling. He's been inconsistent at the plate, and he has had several tweaks, twinges, and knocks. He hasn't had an extended stay on the DL, but he has missed time here and there due to injury.

Drew has not been nearly as productive as the Sox had hoped he would be. He's hitting .248, has only hit 6 homeruns, is only slugging .375, and has an OBP of .354. He was brought in to hit 5th and be an RBI guy, but he has spent time batting all over the lineup and only has 40 runs batted in this year.

Dye brings some right handed power to the lineup. He can play anywhere in the outfield. He had an amazing 2006 with 44 homers, 120 RBI, a .315 average, a .385 slugging percentage, and a .622 slugging percentage. He won a Silver Slugger and was 5th in MVP voting.

But this season, he's hitting .235 (lower than JD Drew). He's got a .295 OBP (lower than JD Drew). He's slugging .467. He's hit 19 homers and knocked in 52. Now, if he comes to Boston, he might get a bit of an adrenaline rush and start playing better. Then again, he might not.

Dye is a free agent at the end of the season. With Drew tied up for a few more years, as well as Crisp, it will be unlikely that we would resign Dye.

The price Chicago is asking for is too high. These are the two possible deals that are known to be on the table:

Red Sox trade:
OF Wily Mo Pena
RP Manny Delcarmen
SP Justin Masterson (AA Portland)


OF Jermaine Dye

You look at those deals, and the best part of the deal for the Red Sox is that they get rid of Wily Mo. We either lose a key pitcher in our bullpen, or one of our best prospects. For what? For a guy who will play for us for 2 months, and who is currently hitting .235. It doesn't really seem like a great deal for the Red Sox, and I'm glad that they're balking at it right now.


The Red Sox ended their road trip with a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Devil Rays. Of course, the Sox were up against Scott Kazmir, who for some reason owns us.

The game was a pitching duel until the 7th, when the 0-0 score was busted open by a trio of Tampa Bay longballs.

We actually got 7 baserunners off of Kazmir (6 singles, 1 double, 1 walk), but were unable to score. A major hindrance to our offensive production were Ortiz and Manny.

Coming into this game, Ortiz was 5 for 29 (.172) against Kazmir, with 9 strikeouts. Manny is 4 for 31 (.129) with 10 strikeouts and an absolutely pathetic .258 slugging percentage. Combined against Kazmir yesterday, they were 0 for 6. Ortiz grounded into 2 rally crushing double plays.

I feel as though either Ortiz or Ramirez should have been given the day off, at least to start the game. Preferably Ortiz. We played a 12 inning game the night before, Ortiz is nursing a bad shoulder AND bad knees, and he cannot hit against Kazmir. Having both Ortiz and Ramirez in the lineup (and in the most pivitol part of our lineup) was devastating to our offensive effort.

Taken as a whole, the road trip was good. We took 3 from Cleveland, which is an accomplishment. We didn't sweep Tampa, but we actually haven't swept a 3 game series in Tampa since 2001.

During yesterday's game, NESN spent a lot of time focusing on the side action at Tropicana field. The mascots, the Devil Girls, and the cartoonish way that Devil Rays games seem to be presented. And then an ad came on for the Red Sox Nation cards, and the whole President of Red Sox Nation BS. Are we much better than the Tampa Bay D-Rays? I'm not so sure.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


These two good teams finally exploded at the plate, scoring 23 combined runs, and recording 23 combined hits. Every Sox batter but Youkilis had a hit, and every Sox batter reached base. Manny Ramirez and Wily Mo Pena were the stars of the show. Manny went 3 for 4 with 2 homers, a double, 4 RBI, and 4 runs. Pena went 4 for 5 with a homer, 2 doubles, and a single. He scored twice and knocked in 4. His 3 run shot in the 7th appeared not to mean that much with the Sox winning 12-5 at the time, but after Cleveland scored 4 runs in the bottom of the inning, it proved to be huge.

Tavarez made his first relief appearance of the season. He pitched well in the 5th and 6th, but allowed 4 runs in the 7th. They were all unearned as Lugo made a throwing error to begin the inning, and there were 2 outs at the time the runs scored, making all those runs theoretically wiped out if Lugo had made the play. But Julian still gave up a 2 out walk, followed by a single, followed by a homerun. Nevertheless, he gets the win.

Gabbard pitched well for 4 innings. He only allowed 1 hit in the first 13 batters he faced, a Gutierrez solo homerun. He was given a 9-1 lead in the top of the 5th, but everything came undone for him. Maybe it was the long wait in the top of the inning, maybe with the big lead he lost focus, I don't know.

Even though he didn't pitch great, it's nice to have a guy like Tavarez in the pen, who can go a few innings. We're not going to use Papelbon for more than an inning, we'd like to keep Okajima fresh, Timlin isn't someone you want out there for 2 or 3 innings, Snyder is good, but it's definitely a plus for our bullpen to have Julian out there.

Coco Crisp rebounded nicely from what was an overplayed, and overly hyped baserunning mistake the night before. He went 2 for 5 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. It's nice to see he doesn't read and/or care about what's in the papers

So in this series, the Red Sox took 3 of 4 from the Wild Card leading Indians. I'll take that, especially considering Cleveland was 34-15 (.694) at home coming into the series. We also split games with Sabathia and Carmona, which ain't half bad. We've beaten Cleveland 4 times out of 6 this season. And guess who we would play if the post-season started right now...


In other news, Joel Pineiro accepted an assignment to AAA Pawtucket after clearing waivers. I guess this is good news. Mind as well have the guy available since we're paying him.

Brendan Donnelley began throwing from 90 feet on Wednesday. Terry Francona says that Donnelley is throwing "Not real aggressive...but he's throwing."

Curt Schilling made a rehab start in Toledo for the PawSox. He was very impressive. He went 5 scoreless innings, retiring the first 14 men he faced. He allowed 2 hits, no walks, and struck out 8. He threw 66 pitches, 44 of which were strikes. The stadium radar gun clocked his fastball as high as 93, and it frequently was in the low 90s range. He will make at least one more rehab start at AAA before returning.

It's July 27th tomorrow, and the Red Sox will be making their first appearance at the Fenway Dome in Tampa Bay. Wakefield goes against converted reliever Jason Hammel.


In 1-0 losses, you can look at EVERY single play in the game and say "Well if this was a bit different, then we'd win." If any Red Sox batter hit a homerun in any at-bat, the game gets tied and the Sox might win. If Beckett doesn't allow the solo homerun, the game stays at 0-0. If Crisp doesn't slow down a bit rounding third, he might not get thrown out, and the Sox might have tied.

Coco's getting thrown out might have been the play of the game. There were 2 outs, Crisp was on 2nd, and Ortiz hit a soft grounder to the second baseman, who was playing deep in the overshift. He had no chance at throwing Ortiz out at first, so he threw home. With two outs, Coco was off on contact but he seemed to hesitate a bit on his way home. Victor Martinez caught Barfield's perfect throw, blocked the plate, and may or may not have tagged Crisp out. What matters, though, is that Crisp was called out.

The inning was strange from beginning to end. Cora hit a hard liner, but right at third baseman Casey Blake. Hit just a few inches away, and it's at least a single. Crisp hit the ball much more softly, but right up the middle in no man's land, so he reached on an infield single. Pedroia grounded out. Ortiz hit a very weak groundball. Now, he went 1 for 4 with this infield single being his only hit. If he had gotten a true single, into the outfield, Crisp scores easily and Boston Dirt Dogs isn't making him the goat of the century today. Or let's say Barfield hesitates, or his throw is slightly offline, or the umpire calls Crisp safe, then we aren't bitching and moaning about a hesitation.

I'm one of the most critical Red Sox fans there is. But I'm not all that mad at Coco. He screwed up and slowed down a bit. He made a mistake, let's move on. In 162 games, players will make the occasional mistake. We've all seen Coco's outfield play this season. He's a hustler out there. We've all seen him raise his average from below .200 up near .300 this season. He screwed up, let's move on to the next game.

Let's look at the real reasons we lost this game. We had 7 total baserunners. We struck out 8 times. We grounded into a double play. We had 3 runners thrown out on the basepaths. We went 4 for 27 as a team.

And give credit to Fausto Carmona. He threw a gem. Eight innings, allowed 4 hits, 2 walks, struck out 6, had 11 ground ball outs, and 4 fly outs. He beat us, it's that simple. Beckett pitched great as well. His only real mistake was the homerun. He also went 8 innings, also allowing 4 hits. He walked none and struck out 7. It was one of his best starts of the year, but it was also one of Carmona's as well.

Let's not go nuts about this game. It was a 1-0 game, which always leads to the "We could have won it if..." discussions. But let's consider the previous night's 1-0 win. We would have LOST that if...whatever.

Also, this was the first time two AL teams played 1-0 games against each other, back-to-back, since 1975.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


The Red Sox continued their winning streak with a nice 1-0 victory over the Indians. Maybe it's just because I'm a soccer fan, but I love 1-0 wins. They're exciting, nerve-wracking, and very satisfying. But you'd still prefer your team to win games without so much drama. 1-0 win are like dates with Lindsay Lohan, lots of fun but afterwards you say to yourself "Do I really want to go through THAT again?"

Daisuke pitched himself into jams but pitched himself out of them. He allowed 4 hits, walked 3, and hit a batter. He also got some great relief. Okajima threw a perfect 8th, and Papelbon threw a perfect 9th with 2 strikeouts.

It was very weird to see Coco Crisp hitting 5th and JD Drew hitting 8th. Drew's struggles continued as he went 0 for 3 with 3 strikeouts. I do not understand why Mike Lowell doesn't hit 5th. Doesn't it seem to make sense that he hit 5th?

To beat CC Sabathia and the Indians in Cleveland is a great win.

Beckett goes tomorrow night against Fausto Carmona (that's a magician's name if I ever heard one).

Monday, July 23, 2007


You couldn't have picked a better outcome to this game. Jon Lester makes his first MLB start 11 months to the day since his last one, and pitches a solid 6 innings. He allowed 2 runs off 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 6. He threw 96 pitches, 55 of which were strikes.

The offense supported him before he even took the mound, scoring 4 runs in the 1st, with the big hit being Manny's 2 run double.

The top of the order did their job with Crisp and Pedroia combining for 7 of 10 at the plate. Manny and Youkilis each went 2 for 4. Crisp, Pedroia, and Lugo all extended their hit streaks.

Now, before we get all fuzzy about this game, let's at least try to remember a few things.

Firstly, the Indians didn't arrive in Cleveland until 5 AM this morning after playing in Texas last night. They didn't take BP and probably didn't get much sleep.

Secondly, the Indians didn't know Lester was going to be the starter until we knew. The move made by the Red Sox was kept a secret until the proverbial last minute. Coming into this game, the Indians lineup had a total of 18 at-bats against Lester in the Majors. It's safe to say that they were all unfamiliar with his stuff, and the surprise announcement that he was pitching probably caught them off guard.

Thirdly, the Red Sox were up against Jake Westbrook. Westbrook is a shell of what he was last year. He has one win and an ERA over 6. He typically gets knocked around in the 1st inning, and the Red Sox treated him no differently tonight.

Fourthly, some signs of Lester's biggest problem last year were apparent. Jon was notorious for getting into jams in 2006, but being able to get out of them. That's all well and good, but they always resulted in his pitch count being very high, forcing him to leave games early. In his 15 starts last year, he went more than 6 innings in 2 of them. He had seven 5 inning starts. He had 6 starts lasting 6 innings or more. He averaged 18.57 pitches per inning last year. That simply doesn't bode well for a starting pitcher. In the 4th inning of tonight's game, Lester got himself into a jam, pitched very well to get himself out, but was forced to throw 28 pitches in the process. He pitched very well in this game, but his problem of not being able to pitch very deeply into games was apparent.

I know it seems like I'm being pessimistic and negative, but I'm not. I'm trying to be realistic. Lester pitched well, but it wasn't like he was up against a well-rested and fully prepared Indians lineup. He had 6 good innings, but he also had to work around his own mistakes.

I'll take the win, but Lester still seems to me to be a stop-gap measure until Schilling returns to the rotation.


Joel Pineiro has been designated for assignment. The Red Sox will be forced to eat his $4 million salary unless he is picked up by another team. Pineiro was essentially used only for mop up, or in emergencies. He had an ERA of 5.03 and a WHIP of 1.62. He will not be missed.

With the open roster spot, the Red Sox have called up Jon Lester from AAA Pawtucket. The Sox have also shifted the rotation, moving Julian Tavarez to the bullpen, and replacing him with Lester in tonight's game. Lester will be matched up against Jake Westbrook in his first MLB start since August 23rd of 2006.

Julian Tavarez was 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA in his last 5 starts. He has failed to pitch 5 innings in 4 of his last 5 starts. He hasn't had a Quality Start since June 20th.

This move isn't about making Lester a starter, it's more about making Tavarez a reliever. Lester has not been that great in AAA. He was 4-5 with a 3.89 ERA. He's pitched 71.2 innings in 14 starts. Now, many of those were shortened by pitch counts. However, he's still only averaged a little bit above 5 innings per start. And these numbers are against AAA hitters.

Last season, Lester was 7-2, but with an unimpressive 4.76 ERA. He only averaged 5.4 innings per start. He got a lot of run support, and got some great assists from the bullpen.

He isn't the savior of this team. He isn't The Answer. He is a replacement for Tavarez while Schilling is still on the DL. Do you really think the Sox want to make his first MLB start in 11 months be against the Cleveland Indians and on the road?

Speaking of Schilling, he threw 3 scoreless innings for AAA Pawtucket on Saturday, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 6. This is a major step forward for Curt in his efforts to return from his dead arm type of injury.

Speaking of Pawtucket, Clay Bucholz had a solid start yesterday for the PawSox. He went 5 innings, allowing 2 runs off three hits. He struck out 10 batters. He got the loss as Louisville was able to outscore Pawtucket 6-5. Nevertheless, a very good outing for Bucholz in AAA.


After only scoring 2 runs on Thursday in a 4-2 loss, the Red Sox offense exploded this weekend for 29 runs in 3 games. Just to put this in perspective, it took the Red Sox 7 games to score 29 runs leading up to this stretch of scoring.

Now, we shouldn't get our hopes up, nor our expectations too high. We were up against a Chicago team that is playing horrendously. We were hitting at home. And we did just have a 6-6 homestand against Toronto, Tampa, KC, and the White Sox. We're also starting a 4 game series in one of the toughest places for a visiting team to win this season: Cleveland.

But the news for right now is good. Manny and Lowell both had big days on Sunday, each with a homerun. Manny had 4 RBI and got on base in all 5 plate appearances. Lowell added 3 RBI, giving him 70 on the season.

Enjoy the offense...

Now it's time for my New Englander pessimism to kick in.

Tim Wakefield once again could not reach the end of the 7th inning, nor could he reach 100 pitches. He hasn't gone 7+ innings since June 12th. Once again, Wakefield began crumbling in the 7th, allowing 2 runs to score before being relieved. It was an 8-1 comfortable game in the 7th until Wake collapsed. Then Delcarmen came in and had his first poor outing of the year, allowing his first inherited runner to score all season, and then allowing a run of his own. Manny's old problem of control came back to him as he threw 20 total pitches, only 8 of which were strikes. Thankfully, Okajima saved the day, and the lead.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Coming into last night's game, the Kansas City Royals were 39-53. That's .424. They had scored 415 runs in their first 92 games. That's 4.5 a game. They had allowed 453 runs, that's 4.9 a game. But they scored on us - allegedly one of the top teams in baseball - 9 times. And they held us to 3 runs, and 2 of those 3 runs came in garbage time when the winner of the game was no longer in doubt.

This game was lost in the 7th inning. It was 3-1 Royals by then, which is actually a staggering deficit for our offense to overcome anyway. Wakefield hasn't been able to pitch out of the 7th inning since June 12th against Colorado. In his last 9 starts, he's failed to go 7 innings in 8 of them, failed to go 6 innings in 3 of them, and failed to go 5 innings in 1 of them. He's become our second #5 starter alongside Tavarez.

Wake got into a jam when he allowed a double, a single, and a double to open up the 7th. After inducing a groundout, he was pulled for Javier Lopez. I know Javier's ERA is a nice 3.60, but I've always considered ERA to be a horrible stat for a reliever. It doesn't factor in inherited runners scoring, nor does it factor in how many times the pitcher leaves the game in a jam only to be rescued by another pitcher. Lopez has a WHIP of 1.48, which is far too high for him to be considered anywhere near a good reliever.

Just a side not, I'm referring to Lopez's stats on ESPN.com, looking at the splits section. Somehow, he's pitched -1.0 innings in a dome this season. I don't know how one pitches negative innings. I don't know if the mistake will be there, but here's the link.

Lefties have a .286 average against Lopez. Righties are hitting .220. You know things are wrong when one of your lefthanded relievers should be considered only for getting righties out.

Lopez just isn't working out as a situational lefty, or a mid-reliever. He should be kept to pitching in games that are out of reach for one side or the other, or against the bottom of other team's lineups. Just looking at his splits, hitters 6 through 9 in other team's lineups are hitting .179 off him. Hitters 3 through 5 in other teams lineups are hitting .423. He also shouldn't be brought in with runners on base. Opponents are hitting .200 off him when he comes in to start an inning, .231 against him when there are no runners on, and .275 when there are runners on base.

Then there's Joel Pineiro. He only allowed 1 run in the 8th, and the game was already out of reach, but seriously, what purpose does this guy serve? How has Joel Pineiro helped us? 5.06 ERA, 1.66 WHIP. The guy simply isn't helping us to win.

This team obviously has a middle relief problem. We've got Papelbon, Okajima, and Delcarmen at the end of games, and maybe Mike Timlin. But if the starter doesn't go 7, we face troublesome situations. We either wear out guys like Okajima and Papelbon, or we trust guys like Lopez and Pineiro with the ball.

Now the simpletons out there think the best way to solve this problem is to trade for some relievers. I think we can solve it in a better way. We need to trade for a starting pitcher, or two. I know the market out there for starters isn't very deep, and they will cost a lot in trades, but we need help desperately.

Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez are both #5 starters at best. Beckett is a #1, Matsuzaka is a #2. Gabbard has shown flashes of brilliance, but he's still only 25 years old and has only pitched into the 7th inning twice in his 5 starts. He seems to be coming along as an MLB pitcher, so maybe he's a #3. Then there's Schilling. God only knows what he will give us when and if he comes back. Let's say he comes back and is healthy, do you really think he's going to be a consistent 7 inning pitcher? Then there's Lester. Sox fans all seem to remember he went 7-2 last year, and we all seem to forget he did it with a 4.76 ERA. Lester has a 3.90 ERA in Pawtucket this year.

If we get another starting pitcher, someone who can be slotted as our #3 guy, we can have Beckett, Matsuzaka, whoever, Schilling, and Gabbard. We can move Wakefield and Tavarez to the pen. Tavarez is a proven reliever, but so is Wakefield. Both pitchers have had difficulty going deep into games this year. Both pitchers get knocked around their 2nd and 3rd times through a lineup. Both guys could fill the gap in between our starting pitching and our end of game relief. This could be our bullpen:

Closer: Papelbon
Set-up: Okajima
Set-up: Delcarmen
Set-up: Timlin
Mid-relief: Tavarez
Mid-relief: Snyder
Long-relief: Wakefield

Yes, that's 12 pitchers total. I think we should go with 12 pitchers. I think Wily Mo Pena should be given his outright release today. And it isn't the strikeouts. I don't care that the guy strikes out in 42% of his at-bats. What matters is he's hit a homerun in 3.2% of his ABs. He's gotten a hit in only 21% of his ABs, and gotten on base in 27.9% of his plate appearances. He can't run, he can't field, and he can barely hit. It's time to give up on him. We've got Hinske, Ellsbury, David Murphy down in Pawtucket, and Youkilis can even play the outfield in an emergency. Wily Mo has given us nothing but a few laughs this year as we watched him wave at curveballs like Pedro Cerrano.

Our offense is mediocre. But I don't see many ways it could be improved through external deals. We're not going to get a bat to replace Varitek. Youkilis, Lowell, and Pedroia are fine. In fact, they've been better than fine. We're stuck with Lugo for a long time, and we're still paying Renteria. Remember Orlando Cabrera? God, I wish we could get players like him. We're stuck with Manny and Drew in the outfield. We might be able to get another outfielder to replace Crisp. We're not tied to Coco for tons of money, and we might be able to find someone to hit there. But I still think that the best way for us to improve offensively is for the players we have to hit the way they should be hitting. Lugo has come around recently, but Manny and Ortiz need to produce more.

The Yankees are only 8 games back, folks. And there are still 6 games head-to-head between us. We've got a grueling schedule ahead of us as well. We've got a 4 game series in Cleveland coming up. In a few weeks, yet another West Coast road trip to Seattle and Anaheim. Things might get hairy.

Red Sox Mets 1986 RBI Basbeall Reenactment

Painful, but still funny to watch. I miss RBI Baseball.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Anyone get The Simpsons reference?

Kason Gabbard had a career night and the Red Sox actually hit homeruns for a 4-0 victory over the KC Royals. Gabbard went the full 9, allowing no runs off 3 hits, one walk. He struck out 8, and faced only 3 batters in every inning but the 5th. He threw 107 pitches, 71 for strikes. He induced 3 double plays and 15 total ground ball outs.

Gabbard is the thirds Sox pitcher to throw a complete game this season. Matsuzaka and Schilling have the other two. The last time a Red Sox farm product threw a complete game for us was Devern Hansack's shortened CG last year. The last true complete game thrown by a Sox product (not counting Schilling as a Sox product) was Aaron Sele in 1997. The last complete game shutout by a Sox product in a Sox uniform was Roger Clemens in 1996.

Pedroia and Manny hit solo homeruns, and David Ortiz hit a 2 run shot. Ortiz is hitting .471 in the last week, with an .824 slugging percentage. Perhaps he has finally gotten hot.

JD Drew and Jason Varitek returned to the lineup. Drew went 1 for 4. Tek went 0 for 3.

Curt threw to ten batters in a simulated game on Monday. He retired nine of them. He threw 31 pitches. He'll throw a side session today. He is scheduled to throw 45 pitches in a rehab game with AAA Pawtucket on Saturday.

Speaking of Pawtucket, Clay Bucholz had his AAA debut last night. He went three innings, allowing 3 runs, but the PawSox were able to win the game.

Tonight, Tim Wakefield makes his 498th career start against Leo Nunez, who makes his 1st.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Yesterday's 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays was another disappointing game in an ever lengthening stretch of average baseball being played by the Boston Red Sox. Since the beginning of June, we're 19-20 (.487).

We've had a somewhat difficult schedule with 4 games in Oakland, 3 in Arizona, 3 in Atlanta, 3 in San Diego, 3 in Seattle, and 3 in Detroit. But we're also losing games against below average teams. We lost 2 of 3 to the Yankees in Fenway, 2 of 3 to Colorado at home, 2 of 4 to Texas, and now 2 of 4 to Toronto.

We've also lost some close games that we could have and probably should have won. June 3rd, 6-5 loss to New York. June 4th, 5-4 loss to the A's. June 5th, 2-0 loss to Oakland. June 6th, 3-2 loss to the Athletics. June 26th, 8-7 loss to Seattle. June 27th, 2-1 loss to Seattle. June 30th, 5-4 loss to Texas. July 1st, 2-1 lss to Texas. July 7th, 3-2 loss to Detroit. July 8th, 6-5 loss to Detroit. July 13th, 6-5 loss to Toronto. July 15th, 2-1 loss to Toronto. That's 10 one run losses, and a two run loss. If we had just won 5 of those games, we'd be at 24-15 (.615) over this stretch.

On May 29th, the Red Sox were 36-15 (.706). We've dropped more than .100 points in winning percentage since then. And although we still have the best record in baseball (tied with the Angels), we are no longer far and away the best team in baseball. We're still a comfy 9 games up on New York, but if we had maintained that .700 winning percentage, we'd be up by 20 games. And let's say we played .600 ball over the last 40 games, we'd be 14 games ahead. In other words, we could be light years ahead of New York instead of miles.

What's changed since April and May? The schedule had a lot of good teams in those months as well, but we beat them. Three of three from the Angels, 2 of 3 from Minnesota, 2 of 3 from Atlanta, 2 of 3 from Cleveland. And we crushed bad teams like New York and Texas.

Something's different, though. Maybe it's the big lead we built up. Maybe there's no sense of urgency. Maybe we were simply playing over our heads in the first two months.

Tim Wakefield's performances have been slipping. Opponents hit .210 off Wake in April. Then .244 in May, then .281 in June, and now .327 in July. Six of his first 7 starts were Quality Starts. But since those first 7, only 2 of 11 have been. His ERA was 1.79 on May 10th, now it's 4.47.

Schilling also had a great April, going 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA, but since then he's fallen off and landed on the DL. Even with the 1 hitter in Oakland, his June ERA was 5.79. And of course now we have Gabbard filling in, who has done OK, but he's still a AAA player and he hasn't gone deep into games for us, exposing our soft middle-relief.

Julio Lugo's average has been low all season, but earlier he was still producing. He knocked in 30 runs in April and May, but has knocked in a mere 10 in June and July. He's having a good July thus far, so let's hope he's on the turn around. Then again, when you hit .071 in June, there really is no place to go but up.

Kevin Youkilis's .402 month of May would be hard for anyone to duplicate. However, he's fallen off from that considerably. He's hitting .259 since May, with a good OBP, but his slugging shows significant shrinkage. He's slugging .361 in June and July, after slugging .407 in April and .679 in May. He hit 8 homers in the first 2 months of the season but has only hit 1 since then. It might be all the switching in the lineup, he might not be getting the same protection, whatever. Right now, he should probably be hitting earlier in the lineup because he's still getting on base. His slugging right now is far too low for a #5 or #6 hitter.

JD Drew has been stop and go, slow and go all season. The man is I-93 in Quincy at 3 in the afternoon. He'll have stretches of going really fast and hard, only to come to a complete stop. It isn't like he had an amazing April and May. His April was good, his May sucked. His June was actually pretty damn good with 6 homers, a .325 average, .404 OBP and .558 slugging.

This season reminds me of 2004. We came out of the gate very quickly that year, then turned mediocre. We made some trades, got rid of Nomar, and exploded late in the year. We won the Wild Card then went 11-3 in the playoffs. This team needs something to stir it up. That might be a trade, it might be a player like Ortiz or Manny getting hot, but we need something. This mediocrity is boring the hell out of me, and although the AL East is ours to lose, this team needs to improve itself before they are a World Series team.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Manny and Ortiz went a combined 5 for 9 with 5 RBI, 3 runs scored, and 7 total bases. It was a rare sight to see in Fenway in 2007, both Manny and Ortiz carrying the team on their shoulders to a victory.

The bullpen also did their part. Delcarmen threw a perfect 7th, Okajima worked around a pair of hits for a scoreless 8th, and Papelbon tossed a blank 9th inning.

Wakefield once again pitched adequately, but fell off as he went through the lineup a third time. He only threw 89 pitches but was definitely done after 6 innings of work. Timmy allowed a pair of homers to lead off the inning. He allowed 9 hits in total, and thankfully allowed 0 walks.

Tavarez against Shaun Marcum Friday night.

Monday, July 09, 2007


We all know the Midsummer Classic is tomorrow night. And we all know it's on Fox, thanks to their incessant promoting.

I like the All-Star Game. Out of all the All-Star Games in the big 4 sports, it's probably taken the most seriously by the players and the fans. Of course, Nextel Cup's All-Star race is taken very seriously, but that's because the winner gets over $1 million in prize money.

But I still have gripes about the game.

When I was younger, I used to love the homerun derby. Now it bores me. I don't even watch it anymore. There's not much that's exciting about watching guys hit batting practice homeruns with juiced balls. The steroid scandal in baseball has also hampered the homerun derby. Remember Mark McGwire's display at the '99 HR derby in Fenway? It was amazing. But it was artificial.

Baseball glorifies homeruns. But after what has happened the past few years with Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Conseco, etc, I think this glorification has become silly and embarrassing.

I'd like to see a skills competition instead of the derby. Maybe a race around the bases between the fastest players. Perhaps a fastest fastball competition between the hardest throwers. And maybe a nastiest pitch competition exhibiting the best curveballs, sliders, splitters, and other non-fastball pitches. This will never happen, but I'd be more interested in watching a skills competition than the derby.

Plus, the derby is too long. There are too many rounds. There should be two rounds, not three. The top two from the first round go to the finals. Three rounds is boring, and it seems to wear the players out.

I wish the celebrity softball game were changed to whiffle ball. Whiffle ball is the greatest sport ever created.

The whole "This Time it Counts" bologna is simply moronic. Don't even get me started on that.

It's too late, I've started. It's flat out stupid to have the All-Star game determine home field advantage. It either counts, or it's an exhibition game. You can't have a game that counts have a starting lineup determined by fan votes. Just imagine if the lineups for Sox games were determined by the fans.

And the rule that every team has to have an All-Star is dumb, especially since "It Counts."

And how come when the game is at an NL park, there isn't a DH? I think it's stupid. No pitcher will ever bat in an All-Star game unless the away team bats around in the top of the 1st. Mind as well get another hitter in the lineup with the DH.

Nevertheless, I'll take the MLB All-Star game over the Pro Bowl or the NBA All-Star game. The players don't care as much as they used to back in the day, but they still care more than any of the guys in the other 3 sports.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


The Sox haven't scored 15 runs in a game since August of 2005. As a team, we went 21 for 42 at the plate (that's .500 if you're horrible at math), and walked 10 times. As a team, we slugged .714, and had an OBP of .596. Nine Sox batters had hits, 11 reached base, 8 had multiple hits, 3 had multiple RBIs, and both Crisp and Lowell had 5 RBI nights.

And believe it or not, we could have had more. We left 13 men on base and grounded into 3 double plays. But 15 runs is enough, especially with Beckett on the mound.

The Man of the Game is Coco Crisp who went 2 for 5 with a Grand Slam, an RBI walk, and a double. It was Coco's 2nd career granny, his first in a Red Sox uniform. When he hit it, he essentially ended the game.

Honorable Mentions:
Mike Lowell: 5 for 6, 3 runs, 5 RBI
David Ortiz: 3 for 5, 4 runs
Josh Beckett: 6 IP, 3 ER, 9 K

Just a side note:
Josh Beckett hit Jonny Gomes with a pitch in the top of the 4th inning. In true Devil Rays fashion, Gomes got overly angry and there was nearly an incident. This happens a lot when Tampa Bay plays the Sox. It was a 13-2 game at that point, and Gomes was probably a bit frustrated, but he flipped out far too much. You'd think the D-Rays would be used to losing by now.

Oh, and could people stop calling the D-Rays the "Devil Dogs." As a whiner line caller pointed out this afternoon, that's very insulting to the Marine Corps to compare them to the Devil Rays. (Devil Dog is a nickname for the Marines). Personally, I prefer calling them AAA Tampa Bay, or the Tampa Bay Double A's.


Red Sox Nation is 3 for 3 in Final Man votes for All-Star games. Johnny Damon in 2002, Jason Varitek in '03, and now Hideki Okajima. Every time a Sox player has been on the ballot for the final spot on the AL roster, he has won.

This honor for Okajima is just even more proof of how valuable he has been. What a great signing that was! Just think, anybody in MLB could have signed him if they wanted him.


What looked to be shaping up to be an easy and potentially Flawless Victory on the 4th of July got a bit too close for my liking. A win's a win, but our 7-5 victory over the D-Rays shouldn't have been nearly as dramatic as it was.

Quite frankly, wins like this one fail to impress me. It's Tampa Bay, for Pedro's sake. Not only is it Tampa Bay, it's Tampa Bay ON A LOSING STREAK. And when you notice a Tampa Bay losing streak, it must be wicked bad.

Edwin Jackson came into the game with a 1-8 record and a 6.88 ERA. Knocking him around and scoring some runs off of him is hardly awe inspiring. It's what we should have done. We did it, and thankfully we didn't just settle for 4 or 5 runs.

Mike Lowell's 2 run homer in the 5th proved to be the difference in the game. It was only the 2nd long ball for the Sox during this homestand. Wakefield gave up a string of hits to begin the 7th, then Lopez was brought in to face lefty Carl Crawford, who promptly hit a 2 run double. Carlos Pena hit a 2 run single, and it was suddenly a 7-5 game. The only hitter Lopez retired was righty Brendan Harris.

Lefties are hitting .273 off Lopez. Righties are hitting .219.

Manny Delcarmen came in to save the day, though. He left Pena stranded in the 7th, and pitched a hitless 8th to give the ball to Papelbon in the 9th.

Man of the Game was Manny Delcarmen. 1.1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, a walk, and 3 strikeouts.

Honorable Mentions:
Tim Wakefield: 6.1 IP, 4 ER (3 scored with Lopez on the mound)
Jonathan Papelbon: IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Carl Crawford: 3/5, 2 RBI, 2B, Run

The Yankees lost, as did Toronto. The Sox have an 11.5 game lead over the Blue Jays, and a 12 game lead over New York.

Didn't you miss the Devil Rays?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

81 DOWN, 81 TO GO

The Red Sox are halfway through the regular season. They are 50-31, in first place of the AL East by 10.5 games over Toronto, 11 games over New York, 14 games over Baltimore, and 17 games over Tampa Bay. The Red Sox have the second best record in baseball, slightly behind the Angels and slightly ahead of the Indians. They are 25-14 at Fenway Park, and 25-17 on the road. They are 16-9 against Eastern divisional opponents, but have yet to face the Devil Rays. They're 9-4 against the Central, and 13-12 against the West. They finished Interleague play with a 12-6 record.

The Red Sox are on pace to win 100 games and lose 62. They have scored 400 runs, and are on pace for 800. This is somewhat disappointing. Last season, we scored 820 total runs. In 2005 we scored 910 to lead the AL. In 2004, we had 949 runs. We've managed to win games thanks to our phenomenal pitching. We have a team ERA of 3.71. Last year, our team ERA was 4.83. This season's ERA is even better than our ERA in 2004, which was 4.18.

What's interesting about our lack of offense this season is that our off-season focused on improving our run production. We signed JD Drew and Julio Lugo to bolster the offense. Lugo has been a wretched disappointment, hitting an abysmal .189. Last season, Alex Gonzalez hit .255, which is hardly earth-shattering, but was better than Lugo's effort in 2007.

Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia have all increased the production of their positions compared to last year. Mike Lowell is also producing well. JD Drew hasn't done as well as hoped, but he hasn't been a complete hole.

A major difference between 2006 and 2007 is the production out of left-field, also known as Manny Ramirez. In his shortened season, Manny knocked in 102 runs. He is on pace to knock in 88 this season. He only had 449 at-bats last year, and is on pace for 576 this year. In other words, 125 more at-bats, and 14 fewer RBI. Manny's average is lower, as well: an unimpressive .288. His OBP is also lower, down to .386 compared to .436 in 2006. His slugging is down as well. He slugged .619 in 2006, but is only slugging .472 this year. He hit 35 homers last year, despite the missed games. He's on pace to hit a mediocre 22 this year.

His strikeouts are slightly lower than normal. In his career, Manny has struck out once every 5.31 plate appearances. This season, it is one strikeout every 6.67 plate appearances. On the surface, this is good. Strikeouts are non-productive outs, and are typically indicative of a poor at-bat. However, coupled with Manny's walk numbers this year, something else becomes apparent.

In his career, Manny has walked once every 7.25 plate appearances. This season, he is walking once every 7.43 plate appearances. This is a negligible difference, especially considering the small sample size of 327 plate appearances. However, it's still more plate appearances in between walks. The lower strikeouts, and the fewer walks, means his at-bats are shorter. His lower average means that he isn't getting more hits with these shorter at-bats. So he's swinging early, and getting outs.

Manny is seeing 3.83 pitches per plate appearance. Last year, he saw 4.16. The 3.83 pitches per plate appearance is a career low for Manny since he became a full-time player. Manny isn't working the count. He isn't waiting for his pitch. It isn't that he's falling behind, it's just that he isn't letting himself get ahead. Manny is one of the smartest hitters I've ever seen. He works pitchers, he sets them up, gets his pitch, and pounces. This season, it isn't that there is much wrong with his swing. He's just swinging at incorrect pitches. Maybe, he'll be a tad bit more patient in the 2nd half of the season. If his production returns to the lineup, the entire offense will benefit dramatically. If he's hitting like normal, we'll score 20 to 30 more runs in the 2nd half of the season than we did in the first (if everything else stays the same, of course).

David Ortiz is also not producing what we're used to seeing from him. He's been very good this year. His OBP and average are actually higher than last year's totals. But his slugging is down. Last season, he hit 54 homers. He's on pace for 26 this year. While his homers have been cut in half, his doubles have doubled. He's on pace for 54 doubles. He had 29 last year. Considering his lack of homerun power, his RBIs aren't down that much. He's on pace for 98 RBI, which is good considering the lack of leadoff production we've had.

If David and Manny get to hitting the way we're used to seeing them hit, our offense will be very productive.

Julio Lugo is on pace to have one of the strangest statistical seasons I've seen. He's hitting .189 with a .260 OBP, and slugging .281. He's also on pace to steal 40 bases, and knock in 68 RBI. But he's only on pace to score 66 runs, and THAT is the major problem. He can steal a base every time he gets on, but he hasn't gotten on at all. Actually, he's stolen a base once for every 4 times he's reached base safely. Even before his 0 for 30 stretch, he was a disappointment at the plate. He's also got 9 errors in the field, which doesn't help much. That's not an obscene amount of errors, but we've seen short-stops like Gonzalez, Reese, and Sanchez struggle offensively, but still play great defense. Lugo is not contributing offensively or defensively.

Right now, the short-term solution is to play Cora some more. I wouldn't be shocked if we were trying to acquire another middle infielder in the trade market. The Red Sox have the lowest leadoff production in baseball.

Crisp and Drew have been less than stellar, and Wily Mo has struck out 40 times in 107 at-bats. But we've got Jacoby Ellsbury and David Murphy down I-95.

Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell have been the offensive leaders on the team. Youk leads the team in hitting, Lowell and Youk are tied for 2nd on the team in slugging, and Lowell leads the team in RBI, and is the only Sox hitter on pace for more than 100 RBI.

If the Red Sox can somehow generate 450 to 470 runs in the 2nd half of the season, they will finish with the best record in baseball, so long as the pitching holds up.

Our pitching has been sensational. Josh Beckett is on pace to win 22 games. Daisuke has settled down and now sports a 3.80 ERA and a 9-5 record. Tavarez has been very solid for a #5 pitcher, on pace for 170 innings with a 4.39 ERA. As of late, he has been much better.

Schilling has been mediocre on the whole, with spots of brilliance and spots of dullness. He can bitch and moan about people who don't "play the game" but he needs to sit down, shut up, stay on the DL, and return if AND ONLY IF he can help this team win more than a guy like Tavarez is helping us win. Up to now, he hasn't really done that consistently enough.

Kason Gabbard has filled in adequately as a spot starter, and Jon Lester should be returning, but I really think that the Sox could use another front line starter. If we get a good #3 pitcher, we'll have a great post-season rotation.

The back end of the bullpen is great. Papelbon and Okajima are the best finishing combination we've had on the team in a long time. Before them, Donnelly is having a solid season. Lopez has been a mediocre reliever. Nothing special, nothing horrible. Snyder has been a good middle reliever. Apart from these guys, however, the bullpen is lacking. Pineiro and his 5.04 ERA are essentially useless in any close fought game. JC Romero has already earned his walking papers. Mike Timlin looks healthy, but the 41 year old cannot pitch two days in a row, cannot pitch to more than a few batters, and really doesn't look sharp anymore.

The Sox bullpen might get some help when and if Lester is ready to pitch. This will shift Tavarez in there. Another form of relief for the relief will be if we use Gabbard and Bucholz late in the season out of the bullpen. We do need some additional bullpen depth for the playoffs, particularly with looming question marks over Wakefield and Schilling.

All in all, it's been a very good season thus far. However, we were 50-31 at this point last season, only to go 36-45 to finish the season, missing the playoffs. This team is very good, but is still very vulnerable. We haven't locked up the division, but it is in our hands. We might drop it, if we aren't careful. More importantly, this team still needs work before it will be good enough to make a strong playoff run. That work might come from Pawtucket, it might come through trades, it might come from within. But it has to come, or yet another 50-31 start will be meaningless.


After dropping two straight to the lowly Rangers, the Red Sox ended their 4 game series with a 7-3 victory.

The game was highlighted by the speed of Jacoby Ellsbury. He reached on an infield single in the 2nd and came around to score. He stole a base in the 4th, distracting the pitcher beforehand, and scored from 2nd on a Wild Pitch.

But other performances were also noteworthy. Kason Gabbard pitched great with the exception of a few pitches in which he allowed a walk, a single, and a 3 run homer. The single was the first hit of the game for the Rangers, coming in the 5th inning.

Kason obviously still needs some more innings in AAA before he can be relied upon as a full-time starter for us. However, he has shown some flashes of good pitching which not only demonstrate his value as a prospect, but his potential immediate value as a reliever in the late season and post-season. I know it's a strange time to be theorizing like this, but I've always felt that the best relievers were starters who didn't have to hold anything back and could throw their entire arsenal in an inning or two. Guys like Kason could prove valuable in our shaky midsection of the bullpen.

Eric Hinske and the bottom third of the lineup spearheaded the offensive effort. Varitek, Hinske, and Ellsbury went a combined 6 for 10 with four runs, 3 RBI, 2 walks, and pretty much all of our offense.

The Sox had difficulty in maximizing their offensive opportunities. They left 10 runners on base, five of whom were in scoring position. Seven runs is good offensive production, but the recent lack of offense has been due mostly to an inability to deliver big hits with runners in scoring position, as well as to have big offensive innings. But the 7 runs was good enough for a win, so let's not dwell on negativity too much.

The Man of the Game is Eric Hinske. He went 2 for 4 with a triple, and 3 RBI.

Honorable Mentions:
Kason Gabbard: 5.2 IP, 3 ER
Jacoby Ellsbury: 2/2, 2 runs, 2 BB, SB
Manny Ramirez: 2/4, RBI, Run, 2B, BB