Friday, August 31, 2012

Patriots Prune Roster, Cut Branch

The Patriots made some surprising cuts today as they trim their roster down to 53. They let go of Deion Branch, backup QB Brian Hoyer, veteran lineman Dan Koppen, and UMass DB James Ihedigbo.

Cutting Branch surprises me, especially after the Pats parted ways with Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney. Branch seemed to have the #3 WR spot to himself, behind Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd on the depth chart.

Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if this were some way to reduce Branch's guaranteed money or something. Cut him, then sign him back. The Pats do stuff like this. If Branch really wasn't up to the Pats' standards, why wait until today to release him?

I'm surprised to see Hoyer cut. The Patriots might want to replace him with a veteran. If Brady gets hurt and misses an extended portion of the season, the Pats are essentially sunk. But if it's just a few games or half a game, then a veteran is preferable.

Does the release of Dan Koppen mean that Brian Waters is back? If Waters isn't back, the Patriots need Koppen. So maybe this cut signifies that they don't need him because Waters will play.

I don't fully understand these moves, but I have faith in the Patriots and Belichick.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One Thing That Bugs Me About the Big Red Sox Trade

From a baseball standpoint, the Red Sox freeing up salary and roster space makes sense. Fixing the problems with this team required more than just a few tweaks and some small additions. And to build a new foundation, the old rotting foundation needed to be completely removed.

From a business standpoint, the move made sense. The fans were sick of this team losing, and utterly disgusted with their attitude. So much so that a Facebook group with over 11,000 likes has been spawned, urging fans to boycott the team after only 4 current players attended Johnny Pesky's funeral. The fans were fed up, and the Sox were in danger of losing customers.

It's the business standpoint that bugs me. Lucchino and the Sox made this drastic move in order to keep people interested in the team, not to win. So while I wholeheartedly support and celebrate the decision, the motivation behind the decision irks me.

The goals of winning and selling aren't mutually exclusive. But when the primary goal of a team is to sell a brand, then things can go wrong. You wind up signing Carl Crawford for too much money. You go nuts and bid $51.1 million on a Japanese pitcher. You make bogus lowball offers to popular free agents, then leak stories to the press after they sign elsewhere. You fire a manager and do nothing else, and declare the team's problems solved with a new disciplinarian skipper.

Look at the Patriots. They're not afraid to make unpopular moves. They'll let Wes Welker sit out, they'll say goodbye to Richard Seymour, trade Randy Moss in the middle of the season, and give absolutely nothing to the media in a press conference.

And when they make these unpopular moves, they don't trash their former players. They don't wage PR wars. They don't try to present themselves as wanting to keep those players.

It's all about winning in Foxborough. Personnel decisions are made with winning as the only goal. Not the case at Fenway. Fenway includes selling and spinning in the equation, making decisions in an effort to build a winning ballclub AND market the brand. And that's a problem. That should be handled by marketing and promotions staff. Not baseball operations.

Could you imagine Bill Belichick or Cam Neely, or Danny Ainge trying to balance winning games/titles with building a brand? Why do Larry Lucchino and the Red Sox attempt this unprecedented and unsound balancing act?

As the Red Sox rebuild themselves, they need to do so with winning as the only goal. Sign players to win. Make trades to win. The goal of winning should be handled by the baseball side of the organization, and should be the only goal. And the goal of selling should be handled by a completely separate wing. There should be no overlap, no meeting point, no Larry Lucchino.

The Red Sox have pushed the reset button, but if they continue to play the same way it'll once again be "Game Over."

Why I Think the Patriots Cut Stallworth and Gaffney

When the Patriots piled their plate high and deep with WRs, I thought Donte Stallworth was a long shot to make the team but figured Jabar Gaffney would likely be on the roster. Gaffney has worked well with Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels in the past, and he did well in 2011, finishing with 947 receiving yards for the Redskins.

I figured the WR depth chart would be Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, Deion Branch, and Donte Stallworth. I wasn't shocked when Stallworth got cut, but parting ways with Gaffney surprised me.

Until I thought of the offensive line.

If there were a Moneyball 2 about football, I think the statistician Jonah Hill played would be obsessed with one number: Throwing Time. The amount of time a QB has to throw the football.

And judging from the preseason games, Tom Brady won't have that much time to throw. It won't be like 2007 with Stallworth, Gaffney, and of course Randy Moss. When Brady had an eternity to find a receiver, and those receivers had an eternity to go downfield.

Tom Brady simply won't have the time necessary for vertical receivers like Gaffney and Stallworth to go downfield. He'll need shifty mid-range and underneath receivers like Welker, Branch, and the tight-ends. Guys who can get open quickly, and whose diversity present matchup problems for defenses. Brady can spot those problems pre-snap and get rid of the ball before the pressure envelops him.

Carrying WRs who primarily go deep is a waste of roster spots. There won't be enough Throwing Time to consistently go deep. Plus with the tight-ends, how often will more than three WRs be on the field for the Pats? Stallworth and Gaffney were unnecessary parts of the Patriots' offensive machine.

NHL Owners Make Counter-Proposal

If the NHL endures another season-killing lockout, I'm not sure if it will recover. Since the previous work stoppage, the Winter Classic, Olympic hockey, and the success of big market teams (LA Kings, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks winning Cups; New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers contending for them), have all helped the league rebuild. A salary cap has led to parity, and rule changes have allowed the game to open up.

Then what will bring the fans back if the 2012-13 season is lost?

The NHL owners reduced their ransom demands in a counter-proposal yesterday. Instead of immediately reducing the players' cut of hockey revenues to 43%, the NHL proposed a gradual year-by-year reduction from the current rate of 57% to 50%.

The deal would also decrease the salary cap to $58 million in 2012-13, instead of the projected $70.2 million. The cap would remain fixed, increasing to $60 million in 2013-14, and $62 million in 2014-15.

As a Bruins fan, I hate this. As a hockey fan, I hate this.

I don't mind a salary cap, but it seems like the League is catering to its struggling teams. Instead of promoting and rewarding success, they're trying to support teams that aren't succeeding. It's communism. What would the 1980 US Olympic team or the Canadian team from the 1972 Summit Series team say about such an arrangement?

The big market teams, like the Bruins, get screwed. They can't retain talent, can't acquire new talent, because nobody in Arizona cares about the Coyotes. That doesn't make sense.

The players get screwed too. They're asked to take less money even though it's more dangerous to play hockey in 2012 than it's ever been. The NHL's latest 50/50 proposal is much more reasonable than its previous demand that the players only get 43% of hockey revenue. Nevertheless, I think the players should get similar compensation to what they get now (57%). Not less. Why should they get less when the League has been more successful because of their play?

The players aren't demanding more, they just want the same. They also want there to be NHL hockey in 2012-13. The NHL owners, on the other hand, are suffering from short-term greed. They want what's good for their wallets today, not what's good for the game for the next 10 years. They don't seem to care if hockey is played this year.

Although I have a feeling that they're bluffing. And that this will be resolved at the zero hour on September 14th, with the players accepting minimal cuts.

Aceves No Save Us

Since they cleaned house, I actually enjoy watching Red Sox games again. The overall talent on the team has decreased, but the effort level has increased. I'd rather watch a Cody Ross or Ryan Lavarnway try and fail than watch a Josh Beckett or Adrian Gonzalez cruise and succeed.

One thing still irritates me about this team. And that's the Manager. Bobby Valentine's in-game decisions seem to be influenced more by psychology than by scouting reports and pitcher/batter matchups.

And Dr. Valentine's psychological prescriptions don't always make sense. He suspends Aceves because Aceves gets pissed that he's not the Closer. Then he gives Aceves a chance to close? So punish with one hand, then reward with another?

I know Andrew Bailey pitched a lot over the weekend, so I understand Aceves getting the chance to close.

But Aceves didn't have it in the 9th. And Valentine allowed him to face Torii Hunter with runners on the corners and 1 out. Hunter was 3 for 7 lifetime off Aceves before last night. 1 for 7 against Bailey. The game was on the line and Valentine went with the worst matchup. Was Bobby even aware those were the numbers? This is a guy who didn't realize an opposing starter was right-handed.

Hunter hit a sac-fly to center, the Angels won, and Aceves earned his 9th loss of the season.

Aybar wasn't actually hit by that pitch, so the ump failed at his job. But Aceves did plenty to fail on his own.

One area the Sox need to address in the off-season is their bullpen. Along with their Manager and how/why he uses it the way he does.

Zach Stewart makes his Red Sox debut tonight. He faces CJ Wilson. So God only knows what will happen in this game.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Monday, August 27, 2012

Red Sox Clean House: Trade Beckett, Gonzalez, Crawford, and Punto

The people spoke, and the Red Sox listened. They traded Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto for the Dodgers. The Sox also sent $12 million in cash, but will save $270 million in salary due to this deal. The Dodgers sent first baseman James Loney and four prospects to Boston.

This move, by itself, does not immediately help the Red Sox. It does, however, open up the payroll and roster to allow the Red Sox to improve.

Getting rid of Josh Beckett is a positive on and off the field. Beckett has been a lousy pitcher, and an utter shitbag off the field. Good riddance.

I don't think Adrian Gonzalez was traded because he sent a text to owners. I think he was traded because his contract was big, but he still has some value to a team like the Dodgers.

Gonzalez's production will be tough to replace, but lately he's reminded me of Phil Kessel. The numbers are great, but you watch him play and aren't that impressed. When David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were at their peak in Boston, they got big hits in big situations in big games. Gonzalez's big hits are few and far between.

There aren't any top 1B available in free agency this off-season, but Gonzalez's meaningful production can be replaced from other positions. And don't forget, the Red Sox get more production from DH than most teams.

Carl Crawford looked good since returning from injury. But his contract was ludicrous. Even at his absolute best, he wasn't worth what he was getting paid.

After getting surgery, Crawford had potential to be a good, productive, solid player for the Sox. But I'd rather have the cash to go after someone who has more concrete potential to be more productive. Someone who gets on base, has some power. Someone more likely to perform here.

I'd also rather spend that money on pitching.

On paper, this is a crappy trade for the Sox. But paper is only good for drawing pictures and wiping your ass. The Sox got rid of a horrible pitcher, and three bloated contracts. They lost Nick Punto, too, but what does that matter?

The Sox now have the freedom to fundamentally reshape this team. They can keep Ortiz and Ellsbury (if they want to). They can hang on to Cody Ross. Build a rotation and a bullpen. They have more prospects in the stable to make a trade for a starting pitcher.

So the Sox aren't better right now, but they now have the capability to be better than they were.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Only 4 Red Sox Go to Johnny Pesky's Funeral

David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Vincente Padilla. Those are the 4 Red Sox who went to Johnny Pesky's funeral on Monday. The rest of them couldn't be bothered.

This story is the straw that has broken the camel's back. It sums up who the Red Sox players are, it demonstrates the problem the Red Sox Front Office has (making excuses for players not attending), and it shows that this team simply doesn't care. They didn't care last September, they don't care about winning games, they don't care about the late Johnny Pesky.

And the players have the gall to be upset that the media and fans are talking about this funeral. The players have no right to be upset with anyone but themselves.

How is it that Vicente Padilla has been with this team only a few months, and he makes the effort to go to Pesky's funeral but long-time Sox players don't? Where were Josh Beckett, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, and Jacoby Ellsbury?

Pedroia says that his wife is pregnant and could give birth any day. The last time she gave birth there were complications, so perhaps Pedroia's absence is pardonable.

What about everyone else?

A busload of ushers, ticket-takers, and security were able to find the time to get to the funeral. These are people with full-time jobs who made the effort to pay their respects to Johnny Pesky. The Sox players were off on Monday.

Red Sox Information Minister Larry Lucchino defended the players, pointing out that they had a late (early Monday) arrival time after losing to the Yankees Sunday night, that the buses to the funeral that the team provided were essentially full with staff, and that players would be paying tribute on Tuesday by wearing the number 6.

More excuses, more player-coddling, more stories.

This organization, from top to bottom, has an excuse for everything. So many outside factors seem to conspire against them. The schedule, the wind, the umpires, the official scorer, the media, et cetera. And now current Sox players can't be bothered to attend the funeral of a man who has been a part of the game and this team for 6 decades? On an off day?!? BECAUSE OF A LATE NIGHT AND FULL BUSES?!?

Johnny Pesky was rolling over in his grave before he was buried in it.

Thank you, Red Sox. Thanks for these lost seasons. Thanks for the shame. Thanks for desecrating those uniforms, for befouling a city with the stench of apathy, stale Bud Light, and Popeye's chicken bones. Thank you for not caring about the death of a man who cared more about the game and winning than the entire 2012 Red Sox combined.

Thanks for nothing, you bastards.

Red Sox Miss PAT, Lose 14-13

After last night's loss, Sports Illustrated's David Sabino tweeted this:

And it's true. The Red Sox did more to lose this game than the Angels did. Franklin Morales, Clayton Mortensen, and Alfredo Aceves sucked. And the defense was shabby.

The offense scored. But as we've seen all year long, when one part of the team excels, the other part cancels out the good performances. Pedro Ciriaco (4 for 6), Jacoby Ellsbury (3 RBI), Dustin Pedroia (double, homerun, 5 RBI), and Cody Ross (homerun) did their job. Adrian Gonzalez could have done better. As a unit, though, the Sox offense did what should have been more than enough.

It wasn't.

Guys like Morales and Felix Doubront have come down to earth. Earlier in the season they were pitching above their weight-class. They've since regressed to the mean.

Then there's the bullpen. To be fair, they've been overworked due to the inability of the starters to go deep into games. But the bullpen was built to fail from the beginning.

Get rid of Papelbon, convert Bard to a starter (not because you think it's a great idea, but because you don't want to sign a proven starter), sign Andrew Bailey, and it's no surprise that the bullpen hasn't been great.

Last night Aceves blew his 7th save. He has a 2-8 record. Even after blowing the save, he allowed another homerun. Bailey has missed most of the season due to injury (which he's always been susceptible to), but he's looked poor since returning from the DL. Mark Melancon has been a complete load.

This bullpen sucks.

This team sucks. They're 7 games under .500, 8 games under .500 at home, 9 games in the loss column out of a Wild Card spot. They'll host the Kansas City Royals, who are only 3 games behind the Sox in the standings.

Jon Lester faces Bruce Chen. Chen has 2 more wins than Lester. This should be a win, because Lester's been decent lately and the Sox hit Chen well. This Sox team finds ways to lose, though.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Red Sox Collapsing Before September

The Red Sox are now 9 games in the loss column out of a Wild Card spot. Even the Mariners are ahead of them. Crawford is on the DL, the pitching coach has been (finally) canned, and barring a miracle - along with a series of disasters for other teams - this season is essentially over. We're just waiting for the math to finalize it.

Clay Buchholz "just didn't have it" last night. How many times have we said that about Red Sox pitchers this year? Too often, these starters have shown up to work "without it." Whatever it is. I don't know about you, but if I failed at my job and told my bosses "I just didn't have it tonight," I'd soon be looking for a new job.

The Red Sox offense also "just didn't have it." The lineup has had to endure a number of injuries this season. They've still managed to score a respectable amount of total runs, they just don't score them with any consistency. It's either 3 or less, or 8+ runs.

When does Jacoby Ellsbury get some scrutiny for his disappointing 2012? He missed time to injury, but when he's been healthy he's managed a .249 average, an OBP below .300, and a slugging percentage below .350. He's stolen 6 bases. So even when he's in the lineup, he's been absent.

The Red Sox send Franklin Morales to the mound tonight. He faces CJ Wilson. Wilson hasn't won a game since June. The Angels are 1-8 in his last 9 starts. So maybe the Sox can score a few runs. But will it be enough with Morales on the mound?

Photo Credit:
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another Subpar Beckett Outing

Josh Beckett remains tied with Daniel Bard at 5 wins. Beckett is so bad that last night's 6 inning, 4 earned run start seemed like a gem, at least for him. But it wasn't. It was typical Josh Beckett.

Beckett is capable of making great pitches. And he makes lots of great pitches. He struck out 6 Yankees last night, and made Robinson Cano look like a fool twice. But he doesn't make great pitches enough. And too often, he makes very bad pitches. Those mistakes/misses undermine his entire outing.

The cut fastball to Curtis Granderson in the 1st, for instance, was higher and caught more of the plate than Beckett and Lavarnway had intended. Granderson hit an RBI double. Then the pitch he left up to Ichiro which resulted in a homerun. Beckett got away with a fastball down the middle to Eric Chavez with the bases loaded in the 5th. Chavez popped out to first. Beckett made lots of great pitches last night, but his performance was defined by his poor pitches.

Beckett's career has been like this. He's capable of brilliance. He just isn't consistent. It's like cheating on a diet. You get up at 5:00am, run a few miles, have a plain bagel for breakfast, chicken salad for lunch, stir-fried veggies for dinner, then at midnight you go to Wendy's and get a triple Baconator meal. One slip ruins the entire day of diet and exercise. That's how Beckett pitches.

I don't know why Beckett is inconsistent. I can (and will) speculate. He doesn't seem too worried about being the best he can be. He gets by on talent, and that's gotten him 2 rings and a $17M/year contract, so why not? He isn't interested in his teammates, unless they're his drinking buddies. He doesn't take care of himself. He's enjoying life as he is, so why try to improve?

Fuck Josh Beckett. He's a loser, on the field and off it.

This team ends a 10 game road-trip with a 4-6 record. They're 4 games under .500 and 8 games out of the Wild Card in the loss column. And Josh Beckett is the person most at fault for this.

The Sox start a 7 game homestand on Tuesday against the Angels. The OC Angels are one of the teams the Sox would have to leapfrog to claim a Wild Card spot. This is yet another opportunity for this team to help themselves. They tend to not take advantage of such opportunities.

Aaron Cook faces Ervin Santana, who has had a rough year, but has pitched well in August.

Photo Credit:
Jason Szenes/Getty Images

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tyler Seguin Saved from Foul Ball

So if Tuukka Rask can't cut it, maybe this Lowell Spinners VP can play in goal.

Clay Saves the Day

I don't know whether to be grateful to Clay Buchholz, or resent him. He's by far the best pitcher on this team right now. He's only allowed 8 earned runs in his last 6 starts. He's 3-1 in that stretch and the Sox are 5-1. He's helping to keep the Sox from falling out of the Wild Card race. And that's why part of me resents him. He's giving us hope. A hope that I know other members of this team (especially in the rotation, from Texas, named Josh), will not reward.

In this six game stretch, Buchholz has pitched 7 or more innings in all six starts. He's thrown 47 innings total, and has a 1.53 ERA. He had a rough start to the season, but he's currently pulling his weight (and then some). Maybe there's long-term hope for Buchholz on this team.

Last night the offense did what they used to do. They wore out the starter, got a few walks, and eventually broke through. Chris Tillman needed 110 pitches and he didn't even get out of the 5th inning.

The Sox are 7 games into a 10 game road-trip. They're 3-4, and that's not good enough. Splitting a 4 game series with a bad Indians team is inexcusable. And this stop in Baltimore was a chance to gain ground on the Orioles, not lose it. And now the Sox are in New York for 3 games.

This is going to be a tough series, so the Red Sox are going to have to be tough. This trip can still be positive. I'm not expecting it, but a 3 game sweep in New York could be a serious momentum builder. Even a 2-1 series win and the road-trip was a 5-5 excursion. Which isn't good enough.

The Sox need to win series. They've played 10 series since the All-Star Break and are 4-5-1 in those series. It's time to stop treading water and make some progress.

Franklin Morales is on the mound tonight. He faces Phil Hughes, who is 11-10 with a 4.44 ERA. I don't foresee a pitcher's duel.

Photo Credit:
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oh and Daniel Bard's Struggles Continue

With the death of Johnny Pesky, and the off-field drama surrounding the Red Sox, we all forgot about Daniel Bard. He's still toiling in AAA, still trying to figure out how to pitch again.

It's not going well. On Tuesday he had an atrocious outing. He faced 5 batters, and walked 4 of them. He threw 27 pitches, only 10 were strikes. He walked the last 2 batters he faced on 8 straight pitches.

August has been bad for Bard. In 4.2 innings this month, he's walked 10 and allowed 8 earned runs. He had shown signs of improvement in July, but now is back to struggling just to throw strikes.

The problem is mechanical. The problem is mental. And those two problems are likely interrelated. He has no confidence.

It's time to shut him down. His issues won't be solved on the mound in 2012. Maybe send him to Florida to pitch simulated games. Maybe give him a few months off and let him play winter ball in Mexico. Let him get away from this problem and just be Daniel Bard. Not Daniel Bard: struggling pitcher.

His career might not be over, but his 2012 season should be.

And want to get pissed off? Bard and Josh Beckett are tied with the same number of wins this season. 5 wins.

Red Sox Mouthpieces Try to Dismiss Meeting

I was listening to WEEI's broadcast of the game last night. Dave O'Brien and Joe Castiglione couldn't figure out why the July 26th meeting of players and Ownership was a big story. The two repeated the "nothing to see here" statements John Henry and Dustin Pedroia gave about the meeting: that such meetings are held throughout the season, and that nobody was lobbying for Valentine to be fired. O'Brien then remarked that "several facts" from Jeff Passan's article were "in dispute."

I switched to NESN. The Red Sox own most of NESN, by the way. Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy expressed a similarly dismissive attitudes toward the story. "I'm past it" Remy remarked. Neither felt that the story was noteworthy. And both agreed that the Red Sox' problems are all on the field, and that the buzz around this meeting was just noise about nothing.

These are the voices of the Red Sox Propaganda Machine. These are the dupes, the suckers, the inner circle of Boston Sports Media that is under the influence of John Henry and Larry Lucchino. These are the yes-men, the suck-ups, the naive, the blind, the fools.

Listening to them, I was reminded of Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf, a.k.a. Baghdad Bob.

Team meetings do happen. And these kinds of meetings between Ownership and players don't seem to be a new thing for the Sox. But here is why this most recent meeting is a significant story:

1. What caused the meeting to be held
A text message from Adrian Gonzalez complaining about Bobby Valentine leaving Jon Lester in a game too long. That's apparently what provoked this meeting. Why are players texting Owners about gameday decisions at all? And why are Owners responding to them by giving them a forum to bitch and moan?

I wonder what that text looked like:

"OMFG we h8 BobbyV. He left J-les in the game 2 long. He needz 2 go. Yolo."

2. The divisive nature of the meetings
The Owners met with players, then met with coaches, then met with Valentine. All separate meetings. Why? Player-only meetings are commonplace, but don't typically involve Owners. And why isolate Valentine so much that even his assistant coaches have a different meeting?

How does dividing the team foster unity? And how does letting players go over their manager (and General Manager, let's not forget that the relative lack of Cherington in this story is interesting in and of itself), support the leadership hierarchy of the organization? The players ignored the chain-of-command, went over Valentine's head, to the side of Cherington's, and right into Larry Lucchino's text message inbox.

3. The leaks about the meeting
If this truly were a normal meeting, then why did Passan get leaked information about it? Why did he get multiple sources telling him about problems in the clubhouse and a tense meeting in which players ripped Bobby Valentine?

Maybe Passan was given faulty information. But that'd be a story too. If players and coaches are feeding lies to the media, then that implies the same thing that the original story about the meeting implies:

That something stinks with this team.

That's the story here. Something is rotten and it's stinks to high heaven.

Sox Have More Woes with O's

I'll never forget that it was in Baltimore that the 2011 Red Sox ended their season. And even though it's mid-August, the Sox seem to be trying to end their 2012 campaign in Charm City as well. This season the Sox are now 3-8 against the O's, who seem to have hired the right ESPN analyst to manage their team.

Aaron Cook had a weird start. He cruised at the outset, retiring the first 9 Orioles he faced, not allowing a hit until the 6th. But it was in the 6th that it all unraveled. He was inducing groundballs in the first 5 innings, then the Orioles figured out how to get under the ball and lift it into the air.

The Red Sox lineup threatened, but never struck a knockout blow. Even the 2 runs in the 5th could have been more with the heart of the order up and runners on.

Then Adrian "text message" Gonzalez got ejected in the 8th. He seemed to be upset that Oriole reliever Pedro Strop pitched to him very quickly after Gonzalez had just stepped into the box. Gonzalez appeared to say "I wasn't ready," and home-plat umpire Mike Everitt effectively said "That's not my problem."

Moments later, Gonzalez continued to argue from the dugout and Everitt tossed him. Bobby Valentine then came out to argue, and was soon ejected.

I wonder how many texts John Henry and Larry Lucchino got from Gonzalez, begging them to hold a meeting with the umpiring crew.

It's a team of whiners. They're spoiled children that throw temper tantrums.

And now they're 7 behind the Rays and 8 behind the Orioles in the loss column. They're in danger of being ejected from the Wild Card race.

Clay Buchholz pitches tonight against Chris Tillman. The tall 24 year old righty has been solid most of the season, with a few ugly starts mixed in. However, the Sox have a good history against him. Carl Crawford is 7 for 14 off Tillman, with a double and 2 triples. Hopefully Buchholz pitches well, the Sox get 4+ runs off Tillman, and they can salvage a win.

Photo Credit:
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mutiny on the Red Sox

You've probably already read or at least heard a summary of Jeff Passan's article about Red Sox players being upset at Bobby Valentine, complaining to Ownership, and a meeting being held in a New York hotel. Here's the sequence of key events:

July 22nd: Jon Lester is left in a game against the Blue Jays, despite struggling mightily. He allowed 9 runs in the first 2 innings but remained in the game, pitching into the 5th. He allowed 11 runs total.

Adrian Gonzalez, on behalf of himself and others, texted Red Sox Ownership (John Henry and Larry Lucchino). They complained that Valentine embarrassed Lester by leaving him in the game too long.

July 26th: In New York's Palace Hotel (on an off day before a series with the Yankees), the owners call a meeting of players. The players expressed their grievances. Some did not want to play for Bobby Valentine. Others felt that Valentine had become a scapegoat. Some players did not attend the meeting.

Since this meeting, the Red Sox Front Office and Ownership have all publicly declared that they "stand behind" Bobby Valentine. The Red Sox are 8-10 since the meeting.

I hate everyone involved in this story. I hate Bobby Valentine for being an egomaniacal jerk. I hate the players for whining and moaning. I hate the owners for catering to the players whining and moaning. Everyone stinks.

Lots of people are defending Bobby Valentine, or at least not blaming him for these problems. But he is partially responsible. He's a polarizing guy. He's talkative. He doesn't have a censor. He rubs some people the wrong way. None of this is new. This is who he has always been.

Adding Valentine to the Sox clubhouse was like adding hot sauce to a dish in an effort to make it less spicy. It doesn't make sense. He and his relentless personality only complicates the problem.

The owners have declared their support for Valentine through public statements. It's just words, though. Empty words. If Ownership supported Valentine, they wouldn't give the players an audience for their complaints.

Anyone watch The Office? Remember when Dwight goes to Jan (his boss's boss) in an attempt to oust Michael (his boss). What does Jan do? She tells Michael, and lets Michael handle the discontent. That's what the Sox Owners should have let Valentine do. Instead, the Owners meddled, and didn't let Valentine do his job.

You can't stand behind someone, then step in front of them and interfere in their job. Either let Valentine manage or fire him.

The players on this team should be ashamed of themselves. I was indifferent toward Adrian Gonzalez before today. Now he seems like he's a leader of complaints.

Part of Passan's piece mentioned a cell phone picture circulating among Sox players. Dustin Pedroia is smiling and giving a thumbs up. In the background lies a sleeping Bobby Valentine (or at least a facedown person that is allegedly Bobby Valentine). The caption reads "Our manager contemplating his lineup at 3:30 p.m."

Dustin Pedroia needs to move on and realize that Francona is gone. I know Valentine is a joke, but he's still the manager.

Then again, Pedroia challenged Valentine on Kevin Youkilis at the start of the season. And Valentine backed down. How can you respect Valentine after that?

Bobby V is a bad manager. That's why no MLB team gave him a job since 2002. He tries too hard to do too much. He tries to be a psychologist and keep pitchers in games so they build confidence. He thought he was a physician when he concocted a rehab plan for Crawford that involved playing a maximum 4 games in a row at a time. He thinks he's an inventor, a preacher, a motivational speaker, a philosopher, a dietitian, and a publicist.

At the same time, the Ownership aren't letting Bobby Valentine do his job. The heirchy of power in a baseball organization should be simple:

Manager: decides who on the roster plays and when they play
GM: decides who is on the roster (draft, trades, signings, releases, promotions)
Front Office: authorizes funds for payroll, decides general direction of the team, interacts with other parts of organization (promotions, ticket sales, customer service, et cetera)

With the Red Sox, everything is confused:

Manager: decides who plays
GM: usually decides who is on the roster
Front Office: fields complaints from players, decides how much GM spends (not just how much they're allowed to spend), dictates how manager and GM should act, manipulates the media to give a favorable impression of the team, tells ticket office to lie about number of tickets sold

Larry Lucchino needs to stay in his office. Part of being a boss is delegating. When you delegate responsibility, you can't do it halfway and only give someone partial responsibility. When you appoint a GM, you have to let the GM do his job. Otherwise dysfunction follows.

Then we get to the players. They're whiny, spoiled, disgruntled, and they don't seem to care much about winning.

A baseball team doesn't have to be 25 best buddies. But the prime goal of all 25 players should be the same: win.

Pedroia's prime goal is to get Valentine fired. Gonzalez's is to make sure Jon Lester's feelings aren't hurt. Beckett's is to drink. Lackey's is to drink more than Beckett. Ortiz's is to get a big contract for 2013. Matsuzaka's was to win the World Baseball Classic. Ellsbury's goal is probably to get out of here.

What's the solution:
Limit Lucchino to desk activity. Fire Valentine and hire a low-key, no-nonsense manager who'll do no more than fill out a lineup card and decide when to take pitchers out of a game. Release Beckett. Release Lackey. Don't re-sign Ortiz for anything more than $8 million. Trade at least 1/3 of the remaining babies. Give younger players a chance to make this team.

Everyone is at fault here. Everyone sucks. They need to either be removed, or have their roles significantly adjusted. And if you pay money to see this team play, you're a sap.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Beckett Makes Me Want to Drink Like My Name Were Josh Beckett

In my opinion, I think it's a better investment for the Red Sox to pay Josh Beckett to not pitch for them than it is for them to pay him to pitch. He just sucks. There's nothing redeemable about him as a pitcher or as a person. This off-season, the Red Sox should try to trade him for nothing, even pay most of his salary. And if there are no takers, just release him and eat the contract.

What is his positive contribution to this team? I can't see any.

With this team, it's gotten to the sad state that you just have to admit "Baltimore is better."

The Red Sox were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Beckett allowed a pair of homeruns. Mike Aviles struck out 3 times and has become a useless part of the lineup. Alex "text message" Gonzalez was 0 for 3 with RISP.

This was a big series. I know Wei-Yin Chen vs. Josh Beckett is a bit of a mismatch in favor of Baltimore, but I'm disappointed the Sox couldn't pull it out last night.

They're now 7 games behind the Orioles in the loss column. And 7 games behind the A's. And 5 behind the Tigers, and 4 behind the Angels.

The good news is that the Red Sox' worst pitcher has already pitched in this series, so it can only get better from here. Aaron Cook faces Miguel Gonzalez. Gonzalez is coming off back-to-back starts that were very good, and the Red Sox don't have much history against him. That's usually bad for the Sox.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

R.I.P. Johnny Pesky

Johnny Pesky described himself once: "I wasn’t a great player. I was a decent player. I knew the game, I’d like to think. I know I had a lot of fun."

He wasn't an earth-shatteringly great player. He only managed to stay in the Majors for 10 seasons (although he missed 3 due to military service in World War II). He was a career .307 hitter with an impressive .394 career OBP, but most of his success came early in his Major League tenure.

He didn't have much power (his career high in HR was 3, and he had 17 career homeruns). He only made one All-Star Game. And it's likely that his good numbers were due significantly to hitting in front of Ted Williams.

And that doesn't matter. Pesky was much more than a player.

Johnny Pesky was a 92 year old baseball lifer who spent over 6 decades working for the Red Sox. He was a player, a manager, a coach, an instructor, an executive, and a living symbol; a personification of this team's history.

He passed away at the age of 92 yesterday. The Red Sox will wear black armbands for the remainder of the season to honor him.

I'm glad he was able to participate in Fenway Park's 100th Anniversary celebration.

Baseball was Pesky's life and livelihood. I wish more players on this current edition of the Red Sox cared about the game as much as players like he did.

And hopefully the soulless marketing mavens on Yawkey Way won't turn Mr. Pesky's death into an opportunity to cash in.

Monday, August 13, 2012

David Ortiz Sums Up the Red Sox Attitude Problems

Talking about the progress of his Achilles injury, David Ortiz had this to say:

"If you go back and play sore, of course (it could tear) because it's not just healing, it's not ready. And I don't want to run that risk either. I'm a free agent after this year, and I don't want to have to go into surgery as a free agent. So it's, 'Let it heal and play when you're ready.'"

David Ortiz is more concerned with his free agency than with winning in 2012. Josh Beckett is counting his days off. Bobby Valentine is announcing beer bans that don't really exist. John Lackey is following this team around leaving a trail of Bud Light cans strewn behind him. Dustin Pedroia still acts Terry Francona is the manager.

Everyone on this team, except for some of the young guys, and some of the role players, is not likable. Some are downright despicable.

David Ortiz talking about his injury and how he doesn't want to hurt his 2013 free agency? I'm all for playing when you feel ready to play, but citing contract status as a reason to not play? Would he risk injury if the Sox extended his deal? If so, then he's just a selfish d-bag.

Winning simply is not the #1 goal for many people on this team. That's the problem. It's not bad chemistry, or lack of discipline, or poor character. Almost everyone on this team has individualistic goals, and very few on this team consider winning to be the top priority.

More Good News and Bad News for Red Sox

The good news is the Red Sox beat the Indians twice. The bad news is they lost to the Indians twice. The good news is that Jon Lester is no longer a problem. The bad news is that Will Middlebrooks is probably out for the season.

The Red Sox are a remarkable example of harmony and balance. I'm starting to believe in Eastern philosophies based on how fortune evens out for this team. Every good player is countered by a bad one. Every return from injury is countered by a fresh malady.

I'll start on a positive note with Jon Lester. A few weeks ago I never wanted to see him pitch for the Red Sox again. But he's turned it around without any fanfare or significant difficulty. He hit rock bottom and bounced right back.

Since July 22nd when he gave up 11 runs in 4.1 innings, he's made 4 very decent starts. He's 1-2 in that stretch, but he's given the Sox a chance to win each night.

Did you know the Red Sox have scored the 2nd most runs in baseball? They've scored more than the Yankees and only 5 fewer total runs than Texas. But it comes in lumps, not as a steady stream. This 4 game series, for instance, the Sox scored 22 runs. 14 in one game, and 8 in the other three.

The inconsistency of the Sox offense is forgivable considering the daily incompleteness of the lineup. No Ortiz and no Middlebrooks is a significant drain on run production. It's like a V8 engine with only 6 cylinders working.

So forgive the offense for their inconsistency, but starting pitching is what wins. And loses. Neither Beckett, Buchholz, or Lester has had a full season they should be proud of. Lester has improved, and Buchholz has come on strong. As a whole, though, these three guys have disappointed.

The Sox have today off, then start an important 3 game series in Baltimore. The Orioles are 6 games in the loss column ahead of the Sox for a Wild Card spot. Hard to believe this is August, and the Sox are that far behind the O's.

This is a chance to cut into that lead. 5-9 Josh Beckett faces 10-7 Wei-Yin Chen. I did not expect to be writing that sentence ever.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Thursday, August 09, 2012

50 Games Left for Red Sox

Is it me or has this season seemed much longer than 112 games? Every week feels like a month, every month like half a season.

With 50 games left the Red Sox are only 6 games in the loss column out of the Wild Card. That deficit isn't insurmountable, certainly not given the time the Sox have to close the gap. Even if there are 3 teams the Sox need to leapfrog over while closing that gap.

To use a brutally overused sports cliche, the Sox control their own destiny. Especially since 30 of the 50 games on their remaining schedule are against other teams vying for the AL Wild Card spots.

They play the Athletics 3 times, the Angels 6 times, 9 pivotal games against the Orioles, 6 with the Rays, and 6 against the Blue Jays. If they do well in these 30 games, especially the 9 against Baltimore, then they should make the playoffs.

It's a mixed blessing to face these opponents as it means that the Red Sox will spend most of their last 50 games playing good teams. Apart from these 30 games against Wild Card contenders, they'll play the Yankees 9 times. The only "breaks" for the Sox will be this 4 game series in Cleveland, 4 games against the Royals, and 3 games in Seattle.

I hate the phrase "control their own destiny" so I'll try another way to describe the position the Sox are in: They're responsible. It's on them to beat these Wild Card contenders. They'll have no one to blame but themselves if they fail to beat them.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Beckett: The Worst of What Red Sox Do Worst

Whatever clubhouse problems Josh Beckett may or may not be a part of, the simple on the field facts are that he has undeniably and unequivocally sucked this season. Yesterday afternoon he gave the Sox 5 innings, 8 hits, 8 earned runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 3 homeruns. And that ERA of his is once again flirting with 5.00 (4.97 to be exact).

Among starting pitchers that have enough innings to qualify, he is 86th in ERA. Only 12 starters have worse ERAs.

How long does this guy continue to get the ball? How long until he has a roster spot? How many pitchers out there can give the Sox what Beckett gives them, only for less money, and with less drama?

This loss typifies the Sox season. One part of the team did very well (the offense), but their efforts were sabotaged by other parts of the team (Beckett and the bullpen).

Adrian Gonzalez hit 3 doubles, each time knocking in a run. Cody Ross hit a homerun and knocked in 2. Will Middlebrooks hit a 3 run homer. 9 runs should be enough to win.

But Beckett dug a huge hole for his teammates. And when they were finally clawing their way out of that hole, the bullpen dug it deeper. Clayton Mortensen didn't do his job. Then Alfredo Aceves allowed a sacrifice fly that gave the Rangers the lead. He nearly allowed a 2 run homer after that.

Aceves wasn't meant to be the closer on this team. But they let a pretty good one go. Then they signed one who has a history of injuries. And he got injured.

There are good pieces on this team. And there are bad ones. The bad pieces counter the good pieces and the result is a .500 team. It's like running a faucet on full hot and full cold. The result is a tepid stream of mediumness.

It's only August, but looking forward to the 2012-13 off-season I'd prefer that the Red Sox focus on removing the bad pieces that infest this team, as opposed to adding more good pieces. This team is sick. The top priority should be to get rid of the viruses, the bacteria, and all that ails this team. Then the good pieces can be healthy and thrive.

The Sox are in Cleveland for 4 games. The Indians aren't a good team, and the Sox need wins. This is an opportunity for them to win. Although we've seen them fail to take advantage of such opportunities.

Felix Doubront faces 8-11 Ubaldo Jimenez, who had a good June, but has struggled the rest of the 2012 season.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Red Sox Return to Reality

Jon Lester is 5-10. That's simply shocking. He's never lost 10 games in a season before. And he's managed to reach 15 wins every year since he became a full-time starter. He'll be hard pressed to reach that mark with only 51 games left on the schedule.

Lester wasn't bad. He was excellent the first time through the lineup. The Rangers eventually got to him. He was charged with 4 earned runs in 6.2 innings. But 1 of those runs was scored with Mark Melancon on the mound. He was good enough, but his teammates weren't.

Speaking of the bullpen, they've been very shabby lately. As a unit they started the season poorly, then settled into a groove of dependability, and now they're back to being a problem. Had Melancon done his job, and Junichi Tazawa done his job, this game could have been a 3-3 tie that went to extra innings.

Instead, the bullpen allowed the Rangers to build some insurance.

Meanwhile, the only scoring the Sox could manage came thanks to Will Middlebrooks and his pinch hit 3 run homer. I'm sure Bobby Valentine will take credit for that one.

Apart from that Ryan Dempster shut the Sox lineup down. Carl Crawford helped by getting picked off.

The Sox were mad at the umpiring, and maybe justifiably so. But the Sox take umpire-baiting to a new level. Jon Lester gets upset with about two calls per inning, and shows it with feminine snaps of the glove and passive aggressive behavior. And none of the Sox hitters are shy about lingering in the batter's box after striking out and expressing their opinion.

Maybe the umpires are sick of the Sox' whining. I know I am. Maybe the umps make unfavorable calls because the Red Sox irritate them.

I can't blame them.

Josh Beckett takes the mound for the Sox tonight. This is a chance for him to do what he's paid to do. He hasn't made a Quality Start since July 15th and the Sox could really use one.

Once again, Beckett is up against a good opposing pitcher. Matt Harrison is 13-6 with a 3.17 ERA. He's a lefty and Carl Crawford is the only active member of the Sox to have had much success against him.

The Sox will struggle to score off this guy, so Beckett needs to pitch as well as he's capable of pitching.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Thank God It's Football Season

I don't think I've ever been more excited for a football season to start. The cause of my anticipation goes beyond how well the Patriots' off-season went and my eagerness to see them attempt to win Super Bowl #4. With the Bruins' early Stanley Cup exit, the Red Sox being a .500 team, and the sheer boredom that is the Summer Olympics, I welcome the 2012 NFL and college football seasons like a starving man welcomes a steak dinner.

I'm tired of Tim Thomas talk, I'm sick of stories about the Sox' clubhouse issues, I'm fed up with an event that considers badminton a sport but not baseball.

It's fucking football time.

The Patriots are playing the Saints Thursday night and are holding joint practices with them at Training Camp this week. The NFL starts playing real games in less than a month (September 5th, Cowboys vs. Giants), College football starts even sooner (Go OU!) than that (August 30th).

Finally, Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington will be secondary characters in the part of my brain focused on sports. I'll divert my attention to Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork, and the rest of the Patriots. I'll laugh at the Jets, shuffle my fantasy football roster, argue about the BCS, and do all the things that make football fun the entire week long.

Welcome back, football. We missed you.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Steven Senne

Red Sox Can't Beat Twins, Can Beat Rangers

If you could explain why the Red Sox can beat the Rangers with apparent ease, yet fall to the lowly Twins with regularity, you could probably win a Nobel Prize for psychology or a Field's Medal for mathematics. Or both.

Aaron Cook did a great job to limit the Rangers to 6 hits and a run in 7 innings. And the offense took advantage of Yu Darvish's frequently hanging pitches to put a few crooked numbers up on the board.

I don't think there's any magic or mystery to the Sox' inconsistency. Last night was a rare example of the offense, the starting pitching, and the bullpen all doing their job. That's happened maybe 10 times this season. No more. Most of the time one element of the team undermines the other. And the end result is a 50/50 chance in winning a game.

This team is one strong winning streak away from claiming a Wild Card spot. And one losing streak away from being out of the race.

It seems weird to me that in Boston the perceived value of a Wild Card has increased, while the actual value of it has significantly decreased.

A Wild Card used to get you the 4th seed in the playoffs. Now it grants you access to the one-and-done play-in game. And if you win that, then you're the 4th seed in the playoffs. So the value of a Wild Card has diminished significantly, but as a goal for Red Sox fans/owners, it has risen in prominence.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Friday, August 03, 2012

Who Does Josh Beckett Remind You Of?

I know I'm a few days late discussing Josh Beckett's recent back spasms. I'm sorry for that.

What I'm not at all sorry about is how happy I was that he was booed after taking himself out of a game Tuesday night. While I'm sure the injury is legitimate, I have little sympathy for someone with such a low threshold of pain, and absolutely no sympathy for an athlete that doesn't take care of himself.

I can't figure out who Beckett reminds me of more. J.D. Drew, or his boyhood hero Roger Clemens.

Drew had no tolerance for physical discomfort. And neither does Beckett. For Beckett to operate at 100%, it seems like everything needs to be perfect. His back, his blisters, his lats, the wind, the weather, the crowd noise, the pre-game meal, the golf game he played two days earlier. He can't pitch well if just one little thing is off. He's a diva.

The great athletes are able to summon greatness when not in peak physical or mental condition. Michael Jordan with the flu, Pedro Martinez in Game 5 of the '99 ALDS, even Brett Favre the day after his father died.

I'm not asking or expecting Beckett to throw a perfect game with a strained muscle in his back. But it would be nice if he were able to pitch well even when feeling uncomfortable or in pain. Or just try to pitch at all. He seems more willing to leave a baseball game early than cancel a golf game.

He'd rather sit out then push through. Which is very J.D. Drew of him.

At least Drew was in shape, though. Beckett isn't. And this is how he is like his idol, Mr. Roger Clemens. As Clemens' career in Boston progressed, he added some Texas Toast to his body. His waist grew, his ERA grew, his innings decreased. That's very similar to Beckett. Beckett is 32 now, the same age Clemens was in the middle of his plumping and slumping.

I wonder if Ben Cherington will say that Beckett is in the "twilight" of his career. Then Josh will wind up with the Blue Jays, miraculously get in shape, throw 496.2 innings in 2 years, and win a pair of Cy Youngs.

In some ways, Beckett is worse than Clemens. The Red Sox Front Office battled Roger Clemens. Now, the Front Office enables Beckett. This lack of control over Beckett makes him a more dangerous monster.

Beckett is the guy more worried about finding the identity of last year's "snitch" than making the playoffs.

Beckett is the guy who golfed while injured, then instead of explaining that he was approved to do so, quoted how many days off he had and that it was nobody's business how he spent them.

Beckett is the guy leading Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz astray.

And the Front Office refuses to rein him in. They fired Francona and kept Beckett. But Valentine hasn't been a disciplinarian at all and doesn't seem to have support from the Front Office to be one. Most recently, the Sox allegedly had a chance to get rid of Beckett and send him back to Texas. They chose to keep him.

The Red Sox actually seem afraid to drop Beckett. Getting rid of him would be the same as waving a white flag for the 2012 season. That's true, but it would also give the green flag for the Sox to win in 2013 and beyond. Cherington didn't have the power to pull the trigger. Lucchino doesn't have the stones to sacrifice this mediocre season and look to win in 2013. And John Henry is probably looking to buy an Aussie Rules Football team.

Beckett is a perfect storm of jackassery. He doesn't stay in shape, he's a detriment to team morale, he's a bad influence on younger players, and he's soft (literally and figuratively).

If Roger Clemens, J.D. Drew, and a used douchebag could have a child, they would name it Josh Beckett.

Red Sox Can't Support Lester

The Red Sox are back to .500 again, thanks to even more inconsistency. This time it was the offense who failed to support the starting pitching. Not to mention a bullpen that failed to keep the game close in the end.

All season long one unit of the Red Sox has slumped while the other have done well. The SPs make Quality Starts but get no run support. Then the lineup tears things up, but the bullpen blows the game or the starter goes 4 innings. This team undermines itself.

If everything clicked at once, this could be something more than a .500 team. But why expect those planets to align when they haven't yet for 106 games?

On the bright side, Lester had a very Lester-like start. 8 innings, 3 runs, 7 hits, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts. Not amazing, but very very good. This type of start was his bread and butter from 2008 to 2011. And it's refreshing to see him back to form.

Give credit to Samuel Deduno, who struggled in his first 2 starts of the season but has settled into a groove in his last 3. He's 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in those starts. The Red Sox aren't the only team he's done well against.

At the same time, the Sox were 2-hit by the Twinkies. They should be ashamed.

Word to the wise, don't invest hope in this team. They'll go on 4 game win streaks, they'll look like they've turned a corner, but it's all a tease.

Felix Doubront faces Brian Duensing tonight. Doubront continues to be a solid part of the rotation. Duensing has spent most of his season as a reliever, and not a particularly good one. The Red Sox have no excuse to lose tonight.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Red Sox Make Small Moves on Deadline Day

On Monday I wrote that I didn't want the Sox to be buyers or sellers on Deadline Day. I wanted them to do nothing. That's essentially what they did.

They traded Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik to the Diamondbacks for Craig Breslow. Albers was a righty, Breslow is a lefty. Breslow's pitched in 40 games this year for Arizona and has a respectable 2.70 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. You may remember him from 2006 when he made 13 appearances for the Sox.

The Sox also traded Lars Anderson to Cleveland for Steven Wright. Here's a highlight video:

He's actually a minor league knuckle-ball pitcher. He's 27 years old, and is 9-6 with a 2.49 ERA in AA Akron this year. He hasn't had much success in the minors. But he hasn't been a failure either.

A very dull Deadline Day for the Sox. I'm glad they didn't give up any young talent. They have a chance to make the playoffs this year, but they're not Championship contenders. And if they do win, it will be because of the players they have, not any additional pieces.

Rain and Red Sox Beat Tigers

The Red Sox should thank the Rain gods this morning. With Josh Beckett leaving early, the Sox' bullpen was going to have to work extra hard to get to the 9th inning. Franklin Morales was on the verge of breaking down when the game was halted, and eventually called, giving the Sox a 4-1 victory.

The Sox deserved the win. They scored 4 runs off Verlander in 5 innings, and that's worthy of a 'W' in and of itself. The rain simply gave the Sox an assist, made it easier to complete the victory.

Clay Mortensen was excellent. Just another role player in a long line of role players to pick up the team when a star disappoints them. Mortensen literally did Josh Beckett's job last night. He went 3 scoreless innings, allowed 1 hit and walked 3.

This was a good win for the Sox to have. They got some bad luck with Beckett's "injury," but Mortensen compensated for that setback. They took advantage of Verlander, and they took advantage of the weather.

Baseball is a game of opportunities, and the Sox capitalized on their opportunities last night.

The Sox go for the sweep tonight. Aaron Cook faces Rick Porcello. Cook needs a good start after being smashed by the Yankees for 6 runs. Porcello is strictly mediocre and the Sox should hit him. Ellsbury is 5 for 5 against him with a homer.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo