Thursday, March 31, 2005

A few updates to the site

I added a few things to the sidebar. I plan on keeping track of the standings on a daily basis and I will be the only idiot in town keeping tabs on the MVP and Cy Young race (from my point of view) from day one. I'm also going to add a few player bits on the bottom of the sidebar when I have time. I'm thinking of keeping track of Manny's climb up the career HR leaderboard among a few other things. If anyone has any ideas on what I should keep track of, let me know. I've always liked the idea of tracking things on the sidebar ever since I saw The House that Dewey Built doing it last year. I also added a few new links on the side.

So this post wasn't a complete waste of time, one of the sites I recently added to my list of links talked about how the Byung Hyun Kim re-signing wasn't the worst signing that Theo made. Going by VORP per dollar, Ramiro Mendoza was actually a worse buy.

One of the other new links I added, Bullshit Memorial Stadium is embarking on a year long project that I'm going to enjoy following. Every Wednesy he plans on taking a look at Brandon Moss and his progress throughout the year. Every Tuesday he plans on checking in on Jon Papelbon. Stop in now to find out everything you wanted to know from every available online source about the duo.

My 2005 predictions

AL East
1. Boston - Call me a homer, but I like their chances. They have superior depth and offense than the Yanks and a good case can be made that they have a better pitching staff than their rivals.
2. New York - So this is the best team that $200 mil can buy, eh? Color me unimpressed.
3. Baltimore - Sosa will help an already good offense, but they don't have the pitching. Forgive me if you've heard that one a thousand times.
4. Tampa Bay - They're still young and still improving. They'll hit .500 some day.
5. Toronto - Vernon Wells and Roy Halladay better bounce back in a big way to make up for the team's biggest offseason additions being Shea Hillenbrand and Corey Koskie.

AL Central

1. Minnesota - The Twins will win the division and also win the worst division winner award.
2. Cleveland - I'll be pulling for this team, but Kevin Millwood just doesn't cut it. Especially with C.C. Sabathia starting the year on the DL.
3. Chicago - Scott Posednick, eh? This team is going to need a lot of help.
4. Detroi - They're going to make a good run at Chicago. They do have a decent offense and their pitching is improving. If Ordonez can stay healthy all season then I'll give them the nod over the White Sox.
5. KC - Worst team in the majors right here.

AL West

1. Anaheim - It pisses me off that we're going to have to call these guys the LA Angels...but that's besides the point. They're a good all around team with the reigning MVP and a good supporting cast.
2. Oakland - There are two kinds of thoughts about the A's offseason. I'm one of those who likes the moves that Beane made. The pitching won't take as much of a hit as many think. Hudson and Mulder had off years and out of the swarm of youngin's in the rotation at least two should step up to be decent major leaguers this year.
3. Texas - I think they got lucky last year with their playoff run, but they are a young and improving team. They have one of, if not the, best infields in the game. They won't scare Anaheim and Oakland again this year though.
4. Seattle - It's going to take more than Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson to turn this team around. But they will improve. Just like I don't think Texas was that good last year, I don't think Seattle was that bad.

Team that could surprise - Detroit

NL East

1. Atlanta - I've learned my lesson. Never, no matter what happens in the offseason, speak out against Atlanta. With the additions of Kolb and Hudson combined with the fact that Adrew Jones looks like he's primed to have a monster year, the Braves should take the division for another year.
2. Florida - They've had the pitching over the last few years and their offense is getting there too. The addition of Delgado should help Cabrera put up even better numbers.
3. New York - Beltran and Pedro will help, but they won't be enough to get the wild card.
4. Philidalphea - This is always a team that should take the division. But they never do. This year second place will even be too much for them to think about.
5. Washington - Their pitching is underrated but their offense just isn't there. Vinny Castilla can't hit outside of Coors and Christian Guzman is one of those AAAA players that somehow managed to hold on to a starting job all these years. I like the trade for Guillen but after Nick Johnson and Jose Vidro go down with injuries he's going to have to carry the team along with Brad Wilkerson, something neither of them are up to.

NL Central

1. St. Louis - Their line-up is as potent as ever and they added Mark Mulder. This team will once again run away with the division.
2. Chicago - No matter what they tell you, they'll miss Sammy. The injuries to Wood and Prior don't seem as serious as they did last year. I think they can pull a decent season out of their ass.
3. Houston - Clemens won't repeat what he did last year, they lost Kent, they lost Beltran, and Berkman is hurt. Bagwell and Biggio are reaching that point in their careers where they probably get asked by kids if they ever played on the same team as Babe Ruth. This team will be competing to stay ahead out of the second tier of the division, not fighting to win it.
4. Milwaukee - This club is finally starting to come around and will make a run at a winning record for the first time since 1894. They added Carlos Lee to the middle of the line-up Ben Sheets is a Cy Young waiting to happen, and Doug Davis was a great surprise #2 guy. With the crop of kids they have waiting to come up they should do ok this year.
5. Cincinati - They had an exciting first half last year...but all good things must come to and end. They have the deepest outfield in the league when all four are healthy but what can you really say about a team that uses Paul Wilson as an ace?
6. Pittsburg - Worst NL team. At least they have a chance to win every fifth day with Oliver Perez.

NL West

1. San Diego - I think Dave Roberts is overrated, but besides him this is mostly the same team that nearly won 90 games last year. They don't have to hit at home if their pitching staff doesn't let up the runs at home.
2. Los Angelos - I'm one of the many who is not a fan of the moves that Paul DePodesta has made in the last couple of years. Some aren't convinced that Derek Lowe is really that bad, but I'm convinced that he'll be the worst signing of the offseason.
3. San Fransisco - I wasn't convinced that they could do it with Bonds. Without him they don't have shot in hell. Moises Alou had a huge spike in production last year and can not be counted on to do it again. So this team is back to having no real bats besides Bonds. And they don't even have him.
4. Arizona - They're not quite as bad as their 100+ loss season last year suggests, but they're not as good as they think they are with their shiny new thirdbaseman.
5. Colorado - A team relying on so many rookies is destined to fail. I think some of their rookies will produce, but not enough to get them out of the basement.

Team that could surprise - Washington Nationals

ALDS - Boston over Minnesota
Anaheim over New York
ALCS - Boston over Anaheim
NLDS - St. Louis over Florida
San Diego over Atlanta
NLCS - St. Louis over San Diego

World Series - Boston over St. Louis (this time they might last six games)

AL MVP - Manny Ramirez - Yeah, I'm biased. So?
AL Cy Young - Randy Johnson - although I hope I'm wrong and he throws out his back trying to swing at a reporter
AL ROY - Nick Swisher - With Dallas down in the minors with a hurt back the award is Swisher's to lose. He had a horrible, error filled spring, but I think he'll do better as the season goes on.

NL MVP - Albert Pujols - He'll benefit from a Bondless league almost as much as the Dodgers and Padres will.
NL Cy Young - Jason Schmidt - Ben Sheets, Oliver Perez, and Jake Peavy are three youngsters who will be hot on his tail, but I think Schmidt will finally take it this year.
NL ROY - Garrett Atkins - He's not a superstar waiting to happen, but he is a solid hitter playing in Colorado

Details on the Kim trade

The trade that I reported earlier was a bit off. I announced it before it was official and the Sox are actually getting two different players rather than one 26 year old "prospect". The final deal for Byung Hyun Kim has been announced and the Red Sox will actually be getting Charles Johnson and Chris Narveson. Charles Johnson was promptly released. The Sox will be paying most of Kim's salary while the Rockies will be paying most of Johnson's.

I don't get this deal. John Sickles of Minor League Ball fame calls Narveson a B- prospect. Baseball Prospectus isn't as kind calling him a C level prospect. He's 23 and still has time to improve, but to me it looks like we're going to be paying $6 million for a guy to put up a 3.80 ERA in Pawtucket. The Johnson part of the deal is even more confusing...if the Rockies are paying him anyways then why was he even involved in the deal? Why didn't they just release him themselves? Maybe I just don't get something about the deal, but it doesn't look like all that great of a deal to me.

I feel like a broken record when I post a link about one of Matt Clement's games but with each time he pitches I get more and more excited. He went another five innings in yesterday's 6-4 win over the Devil Rays. Once again Clement did not walk a batter. The major knock on Clement has always been his control. If he has that problem under wraps then there will be no stopping the man. Most of the Red Sox runs came on a two run shot by Jason Varitek and a three run shot by Kevin Youkilis. Matt Mantei picked up the win despite going only one inning and allowing a home run to Josh Phelps.

Only three more days, folks. We're nearly there. Later on today look for my 2005 predictions. Tomorrow stay tuned for comments from several Red Sox bloggers out there who took time to answer some questions I asked. On Saturday I plan on giving my take of the 2004 season. Then Sunday? Sunday we PLAY BALL!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Good bye Kim

It looks like we don't have to worry about Byung Hyun Kim this year after all. The Red Sox have apparently found a taker for Kim in Colorado. The deal isn't finalized yet, but the Red Sox will basicially be giving Kim away and getting nothing in return. They're willing to pay up to $5.5 million of the $6 million he's owed this year and the long prospect they'll get in return could possibly be the underwhelming 26 year old Jason Young. Young has a 9.71 ERA in 30 major league innings with Colorado. He was once considered a top prospect but it doesn't appear that he's going to turn into the pitcher that Colorado once hoped.

I was all for getting rid of Kim, but I was hoping we wouldn't have to pay his entire salary and get nothing for him in return... Ah well. Best of luck to Kim and he's going to need it pitching in Colorado.

The Sox are winning, Schilling is feeling good, and Mike Myers is back

John Halama got the win in a 7-2 victory over the Yankees yesterday. The two teams split the spring training series this year and are about ready to start the first of 19 match-ups in only a few days. To me as you get closer to something it gets harder to wait. The last half hour of work drag by. The last half hour of work on a Friday night are the worst. And the next few days before the season actually starts are going to seem like an eternity. I don't care about spring games anymore. No one cares. It's time for the season to start. We're ready. Red Sox Nation needs some baseball.

'I threw a warmup pitch, and it was right. Everything was right.' Curt Schilling is nearly ready. In a minor league game yesterday Schilling was roughed up a little bit in the first inning. Then, before the second inning started, everything clicked for the ace. He then went on to go four more innings allowing only two baserunners and no more runs. He threw 69 pitches and 54 of them were strikes. This is the first time this spring that Schilling was happy with how he pitched. Not only did he feel good, health-wise, but he felt good pitch wise. He had command of his stuff. Schilling is targeting April 13th, a game against the Yankees at Fenway, as his return date which means he'll miss only one turn in the rotation.

If the Red Sox wanted to have Mike Myers on the team then why didn't they just re-sign him? Perhaps we will never know the answer to that question. What we do know is that Myers is back on the team after the Sox sent 20 year old speedster Carlos De La Cruz and 23 year old lefty Kevin Ool to the Cardinals to bring Myers back to the team. Myers is old and rather mediocre, but his deceptive delivery and ability to get out lefties could land him a spot on the roster. That means that Byung Hyun Kim might not have a job after all.

While cruising through Red Sox blogs the other night I came across a link to this site. I'd like to reiterate the point that the writer of that blog already made....If anyone and I do mean anyone tries to wave one of those things around at Fenway you will be beat to a bloody pulp and then made to eat that fucking sock.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

all-time favorite Sox team

The guys at Baseball Rants posted their all-time favorite Sox team and Marc was interested in seeing what I'd come up with for my team. So I took a little trip down memory lane and made up a team of my favorite former Sox players. THe pitching staff is a little thin. For some reason I was never into pitchers growing up. I didn't include members of the current Red Sox team because of the typical "what have you done for me lately" baseball mentality. I didn't want my list dominated by guys that just won my team a World Series so I left them out completely. Most of the guys on last year's team, however, would have a place on this list.

Before I show my list of all-time favorites, Marc wanted me to let you guys know that he has an interview with Will Carrol up on his site. So stop by and check it out.

C Jim Leyritz - He's known more as a Yankee than a Red Sox player so this might sap some of my Sox credibility, but I liked this guy. I think it's because he was on a couple of my winning fantasy teams as a kid. His Red Sox career was pretty forgetable, but I won't forget.

1B Mo Vauhgn - He was big. He was intimidating. He did tons for the community. And he knocked the snot out of the ball. He was the 90's version of David Ortiz and the combination of him and Nomar always seemed so devastating. If he hadn't been chased out of town by our former crackpot GM I think he would've went on to have a hall of fame career.

2B Phil Plantier - Nah, he never played a game of second base in his life. He probably didn't even sniff the infield when he was in little league. But we've gone through so many second basemen through the years that I never really got attached to any of them and I needed to fit Plantier in here somewhere. Why do I need to fit him in? Because I once owned a Phil Plantier autographed ball. My brother and I held on to that dearly thinking that one day we'd sell it and become rich. Once it became pretty clear that the guy was a bum we used it to play with. But I still have those fond memories.

3B Wade Boggs - He was a bit of a prick, not much of a team player, one OCDish bastard, and went on to play for the Yankees, but growing up he was number one in my books. His statistics amazed me. His ability to get on base was applauded even before getting on base became the cool thing to do. To me he symbalized the Red Sox before he went on to the bad guys.

SS Nomar Garciaparra - Maybe I'm the only one left in Red Sox Nation that still likes the guy after last year's fiasco, but I do still like him. Behind Pedro he was my favorite Sox player for a while. Hell, the guys at work still call me Nomah, but mostly only to mock my softball skillz.

LF Ricky Henderson - This might be cheating a bit because I didn't care that the guy was on our team. He was way too far past his prime when he was with us. But watching him play before he made it to us was fun. There has never been a guy like Ricky and there never will be another guy like Ricky. He was the best leadoff hitter of all time and could do things that no one else can do. Not to mention he gave some pretty damn good quotes.

CF Carl Everett - Most considered the guy to be a cancer in the clubhouse. And he was pretty much a bust once he got to the Sox. I don't give a damn how he's playing now or where he is. He makes this list for one simple reason. He doesn't believe in dinosaurs. And that amuses the hell out of me. His attitude was a problem, but sometimes it was fun to watch.

RF Tom Brunansky - Bruno was the type of guy that you could picture having a beer with at the local bar. Of course when I was 12 that's not what I was picturing, but you get the idea. His '91 and '92 seasons were so horrible but I, for some unknown reason, thought of him as a superstar slugger. I sure was a stupid kid.

DH Brian Daubach - I don't have a hard-on for the guy like many Sox fans seem to have. I swear they talked more about that guy in Faith than they did any active Red Sox player. But he was the most consistantly unconsistant guy you'll ever see play. He went through amazing hot streaks and agonizing cold streaks, but always finished the season with the same numbers. He was a nice, blue collar guy and his beard styles were much better than some of the hair styles we have going on this year and last.

C - Mike Macfarlane - I liked Mac for the same reason I liked Leyritz. He helped me win a championship. Fantasy baseball influenced a lot of my player loyalties in my early teenage years.

IF John Valentine - I think everyone loved this guy. I'm not sure what it is about him. His fantastic '95 season made you think that the guy could do anything even if that was a career year.

IF Scott Cooper - Why? I have absolutely no idea. Maybe it was because he was taking over for Wade Boggs and I, for some reason, thought he could fill his shoes. But I rooted for this guy and wanted nothing more than for him to suceed.

OF Troy O'Leary - He was a big part of the reason why we made the playoffs in '99. I still remember several times when Nomar was intentially walked just to get to Troy...and then he'd put the ball over the wall. He had a mediocre career, at best, but in 1999 he helped carry the team.

OF Mike Greenwell - His rookie card was one of my prized possessions growing up. It probably was never worth a dime, but I liked it anyways simply because he was Mike Greenwell. He had the porn mustache back before I knew what a porn mustache was. He had his best year in '88 before I even followed the game, but I knew about that season. And I always hoped for a repeat.

SP Pedro Martinez - Hell, I dedicated a site to the fact that this guy is god. Sure, his big mouth got tiresome after a while, but how can you not like a guy who is so far above mortal human beings pitching for your team?

SP Roger Clemens - I'm glad the guy left the Yankees so I can cheer for him again.

SP Aaron Sele - Like every Red Sox fan out there we knew he was so close to getting everything together and becoming our #2 starter. And also like every Red Sox fan he pissed me off once he put it soon as he left the Sox. But I was always rooting for that guy to get his shit together.

SP Frank Viola - According to my father this guy was going to lead us to a string of championships. He was our missing piece. So I always got excited when it was his turn to take the mound. He had a couple of decent seasons with us, but...well...obviously no rings. So much for that idea.

RP Jeff Reardon - I liked this guy for one reason, and one reason only. I had his rookie card. For that brief moment that he held the all-time saves lead I thought I was going to be a rich man. That card probably isn't worth the cardboard it's printed on now.

RP Ken Ryan - There was a time when I thought this guy was going to be our closer for the next fifteen years. I don't remember much about him, only that I thought he was the next big thing. I only found out later that apparently he was a local boy.

RP Rich Garces - EL GUAPO!!

worried about Wells?

Is it time to worry about David Wells? In four starts this spring he has an ERA approaching 8. Going by his numbers it looks like he's been hit pretty hard. No one really seems worried however. After throwing 83 pitches in yesterday's 9-5 win over the Phillies, Wells said he felt no fatigue. His next start is against the Yankees and that start counts. Opening Day is only five days away and Wells is going to have to forget his springtime numbers and begin getting guys out.

I'm not ready to panic about Wells. The guy is reliable. In 9 out of the last 10 years Wells has started 29 games or more. Only once in those ten years has he had a season shortened by injuries. He logs around 200 innings every year, doesn't walk anyone, and proves year after year that he's an asset for whatever team he's pitching on. Even this spring with as bad as Wells has appeared he has only walked two batters and only let up two homers. He's only struck out 10 in 17 innings, but that's always been the kind of guy that David Wells is. He lets the batters put the ball in play and relies on his defense to get the outs. He should do fine this year and his scary spring shouldn't be worrying Boston fans too much.

I'm not entirely worried about Wells....but then again I'm not exactly ready to trust the guy. Baseball Prospectus is only predicting the guy to go 118 innings. They think his already bad K-rate will drop, his walk rate will rise, and he'll let up more home runs. They're predicting a horrible year for David Wells. He's 42 and for all we know, he could still be on the Yankees payroll just like Ramiro Mendoza was the last couple of years. He has issues with his back, he's moving from a pitcher's park to a hitter's one, he's going from the NL to the AL, and he's drank more beer in his life than me and Kevin Millar combined. He should do fine this year. He always does. But what if he doesn't?

Wells is one of the things about this Red Sox team that has me worried the most. I have faith that Matt Clement will put up fantastic numbers. I think Wade Miller will give the team 20 starts, most of them of the quality variety. The offense will be huge the bullpen will be a strength and the team as a hole will compete for the division title. But the closer we get to the season the more I worry about David Wells and if he's going to help this team...or hurt them.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The future of Hanley

What will happen with Hanley Ramirez? Well, you heard it here first....Whatever happens, it won't be our problem. Hanley is gone in July. Do I have some kind of inside source that you don't know of? Nah. It's mostly just a hunch. But I really think that Ramirez will be sent to another team in a bigtime deadline deal. His .314/.366/.463 line over four years of minor league ball is pretty impressive, especially for a shortstop. He's very likely to be a very good major league player. But he doesn't fit into the Red Sox plan. They just inked Edgar Renteria to a four year deal. Their farm system is filled with shortstops. Twenty year old Justin Pedroia will be switching to 2B in Portland this year, but 19 year olds Christian Lara and Luis Soto will be nearly ready for the majors by the time Renteria's deal is done if they develop properly. Even if those three prospects don't really pan out the Red Sox have enough cash to be able to bring in a shortstop in four years that will bridge the gap until another shortstop in our system is ready. The Red Sox have plenty of options at short and with there being no real talks of Ramirez switching positions I think he's going to be shipped off for some major league help down the stretch. Who would the Sox get in return? I'm not sure. I just went looking for a list of guys who will be free agents at the end of the year, but I'm not quite sure where to look for that. But if there's a major arm available on a team that's not going anywhere that team could find themselves in possession of a shiny new minor league shortstop. I'd like to see Ramirez make a name for himself as a member of the Red Sox. I mean the last time we had a minor leaguer take over at short, it turned out pretty damn good.

In the You Heard it There department, what about Ramirez in center? I like the idea. Ramirez has the athleticism to play in center and that would likely cut down on the high error totals that he's had coming up through the minors. With Johny Damon looking for big money once the year is over I don't think the Sox will be interested in bringing him back. So we'll be in need of a center fielder in 2006. In the link provided Marc over at Baseball Rants projects what he believes Damon and Ramirez will do up until 2012. What it boils down to is that Ramirez is an up-and-coming star while Damon is at his peak and about to start his decline. I'm not sure what there are for centerfield options out there on the free agent market, but I don't think there are any names out there that could dazzle. Damon isn't worth a huge pay day so why not have our own guy play?

I like the idea of Ramirez in center. I'm going to have to get into the habit of saying Hanley instead of just Ramirez. I think I nearly gave a Sox fan a heart attack by saying "Ramirez in center"....No, I didn't mean Manny. But I do like the idea of Hanley in center. What's the worst that could happen? But Hanley is going to start the season at short in Portland. And I have a feeling that by July he'll be playing on a non-contending team's AAA squad. My only hope is that he at least makes it up to Pawtucket so I can catch a few games of his before he goes.

A little news from the weekend

Mostly because of the holiday I missed a day of posting. I apologize to my masses of readers (all three of you) and promise not to ever let it happen again. least not for the next couple of days. What happened in the day that I missed? Well...

The Red Sox roster is currently at 29 players after six were shipped to the minors. With Curt Schilling, Wade Miller, and Adam Stern likely to start the season on the DL that leaves Anastacio Martinez and Byung Hyun Kim to fight over the final spot on the roster. That means that Dave McCarty did indeed make the team. Hurry back Roberto Petagine! I probably would rather see Mark Malaska or Lenny Dinardo make the team, but if I had to choose between Kim and Martinez, I'd go with Kim. Even though the chances don't look very good, there still is that chance that Kim will revert to his pre-Boston days. Since there's not actually anything wrong with him maybe something will just click and Kim will become that dominant reliever that he once was. Or, a bit more likely, the Sox are just showing that they have some confidence in him in hopes that he puts together a decent April and another team will make an offer for him.

On Sunday Tim Wakefield was impressive in a 8-7 win over the Pirates going six strong innings letting up only one run. Kim, Matt Mantie, and Keith Foulke did not look impressive, however, going an inning a piece and giving up the other six runs between them. No worries though. Foulke is still having a much better spring than he did last year, Mantei is still healthy and impressing, and Kim...well...he got the save, that has to count for something, right? I got to watch most of the game, but it was at my family's house. With the volume down, people walking in front of the tv all day, and me having to watch the game across the table around my cousin's fat head so I wasn't able to pay all that much attention. It was a good diversion from the family though.

Marc over at Baseball Rants has linked here a couple of times in the last few days and there are a couple of his posts that I wanted to comment on here. But with the news out of the way I think it's nearly time to hit the sack. Later today look for a post with my thoughts on the future of Hanley Ramirez and possibly my favorite all-time Sox team.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A few bits of news before I head to bed

Ya know what pisses me off? The first sentence of the Globe's article Curt Schilling will pitch Opening Day. But don't get excited. He'll be pitching the opender for the Paw Sox against the Indianapolis Indians in Indianapolis. What a way to get my hopes up! I mean, I've known for a while that Schilling won't pitch the opener, but when you see in print that he will, it gets you excited! Phooey. Still, the article is good news. Schilling will likely make two minor league starts before pitching in the Pawtucket home opener on April 7th. It's quite possible that he could be pitching for Boston on April 13th against the New York Yankees.

This article mentions a few newsworth points such as a quote by Manny Ramirez. Manny talking about his spot in the line up; "I'm getting old, man. I'm just trying to have a good four years and move on. Third, fourth, wherever they put me, I'm going to be fine, man." Am I reading between the lines too much or did he just say he wants out of Boston?

Another bit of news is that Francona is thinking of switching up the lineup. Trot Nixon could be spending a lot of time in the same spot he batted in in yesterday's game, the second spot. Kevin Millar and Edgar Renteria are going to find themselves moving back and forth in the fifth and sixth spot. In a way I like the move. Nixon gets on base a lot more than Renteria so I like him batting second. What I don't think I like is Renteria batting fifth. Renteria slugged .401 last year, a whole one point above his career average of .400. What the hell is a guy like that doing batting directly behind two onbase machines? I realize that the Red Sox are paying this guy $40 million and want him to feel important, but on this team Renteria bats eigth, maybe seventh. If he somehow manages to find the bat he had in 2003, bat him second. But he's not a middle of the line up guy.

In bits of good news, Matt Clement, bumped from yesterday's starting spot by Curt Schilling, pitched to the Baltimore Orioles AAA team. Clement struck out 8 in 5 innings and once again he did not walk a batter. The idea of Matt Clement being able to find the plate during the season as often as he's done in the spring makes me positively giddy. Jay Payton did not strike out 8 men yesterday, a tough thing for any right fielder to do, but his news was just as good. The hand he was hit on by Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera is not seriously hurt and Payton will begin swinging a bat again today.

Skating at Fenway Park???? Could be. The team plans on looking into the idea of installing a ice rink for public skating and college hockey during the offseason. If that doesn't damage the field, I'm all for that idea. I think that'd be a great place to go skating and a good way to keep the business in the area going year round. The Fleet Skating Rink is a beautiful place to skate in downtown Providence and it's nearly always packed on the weekends. There's no better view in the world that the inside of Fenway Park and the year round draw is part of the Red SOx plan to improve the area.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Schilling debuts

1:05 : The game starts and Curt Schilling is on the mound. Two balls get put into play, but both line drives are snagged. He walks Nick Punto (I believe...I was too focused on the Sox to even notice there was another team out there....) promptly took off for second. Jason Varitek is in midseason form as his throw to second bounces twice before bouncing past Edgar Renteria and nearly into centerfield giving Punto the easy steal despite the high fastball from Schilling. The final line of the inning is one walk, one strikeout, and one ace looking like he's ready to go.

1:10 : Trot Nixon is batting in the two hole. Before Mark Bellhorn broke out last year and Nixon spent the bulk of the time on the DL, I was a big fan of the idea of putting Nixon at the top of the order. His OBP is typically pretty high and when he's on, he's a good hitter to want to have a lot of at bats. Now that Bellhorn has showed us that he can get on base I think Nixon should bat fifth or sixth, protecting the big guys. According to Remy and Orsilla, Francona says that he plans on using Nixon towards the top of the order a bit this year, a good move if you ask me.

1:20 : Get used to this site...David Ortiz knocks in Manny Ramirez with an RBI double. We'll probably see that about 800 times this year. The score is 1-0.

1:25 : The Twins are still putting the ball in play pretty hard when they manage to make contact. After striking out Mike Cuddyer for the first out and Shannon Stewart flying out to deep left, Michael Restovich knocked a fly to the warning track that Manny almost got...but he's Manny. Restovich scored on a single up the middle to tie the score at one before the third out on a fly to center.

Speaking of flies to center, am I seeing things funny or is Johnny Damon still really uncomfortable out in the field. He's making the plays but it always seems like he has to make a last second lunge to get to the ball.

1:40 : Brad Radke made quick work of the Sox in the bottom of the inning and leading off the top of the third Johnny makes me look stupid with a nice diving play. Apparently he took exception to me saying he looks uncomfortable out there.

According to Orsilla, Matt Clement had a great game pitching to minor leaguers earlier today. I missed the numbers he put up, but if there's a link later on, I'll be sure to put it here. Clement was supposed to start against the Twins today, but Schilling decided he was ready for action and got the start instead.

A bloop single is all the Twins get in this half. Schilling is looking good and there's no sign that he's not feeling good. He'll likely come out for his last inning in the fourth.

1:50 : The Sox make quick work of themselves once again when Bellhorn gets a line-drive single, Damon wipes him out with a fielders choice, then wipes himself out when being caught stealing by about 25 feet. A bad jump combined with a perfect throw and Damon didn't have a chance. Nixon made the third out and now Schilling is back out there for inning number four.

Schilling hits 50 pitches in the middle of a long at bat against Jacque Jones. On the eigth pitch of the at bat Jones takes a splitter over the fence for his first home run of the spring. The very next pitch and Mike Restovich puts the ball in the same place and the Twins are up 3-1.

With two outs in the fourth Schilling comes out of the game after 65 pitches. He waves to the crowd and is likely unhappy that he let up the home runs, but for the first start of the year I think we can all be pretty encouraged.

2:03 : I'm not sure why I did the running blog of the game and I wasn't planning on it. But Schilling is out and so am I. Time to start the day, cash the check, pay the bills, and all that other stuff that doesn't matter as much as baseball should.....but if I don't do it they shut off my cable therefor not allowing me to watch baseball. So I think I gotta go.

2:50 : Ok, I lied. I took a shower, but couldn't tear myself away from the tv and I'm glad I did. Schilling is in the middle of his press conference. "The ankle feels good and that's really the least of my concerns right now", he says. He wasn't even thinking about his ankle and has said a couple of times that it is no longer an issue. The biggest thing that Sox fans can take away from this day is that Schilling is healthy. He wasn't pleased with the way he pitched. He was pretty down on himself in the press conference, but it's not injury related and that's what's important. It was his first game against an opposing team this year and him being a little bit behind is to be expected. He's going to get more work in and he'll be ready soon. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty encouraged by all of this even if Schilling doesn't seem happy.

Now Matt Mantei is taking the mound for the Sox with a 5-1 deficit. Six games pitched and 5.1 innings is a pretty small sample size for Mantei, but in that small sample size he's put up some impressive numbers and his arm hasn't fallen off yet. Good times...good times.

NICE! Another diving catch for Damon. That guy is really pissed off at me for questioning his defense, and Johnny, I'm sorry.

And now this time, I mean it....I'm out of here.

Schilling pitches, Papelbon impresses, and Johnny Damon wants $$$$

Today. 1pm. NESN. Be there. Curt Schilling will be making his first, and likely his only start of the spring today against the Twins. He'll be on a flexible 50 pitch count.

The Sox battled to a tie with the O's yesterday in a ten inning game that was called with a 5-5 score. Jon Papelbon's numbers weren't all that impressive (4 runs scored on 5 hits and a walk in 3 innings), but when you take into consideration that he's going to be starting in AA this year and he went up against a very tough Baltimore lineup, he didn't too bad. Francona and the rest of the team were very impressed with him for a variety of reasons including his poise on the mound. Jay Payton was hit with a pitch to the wrist by Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera. Payton left the game, but should be fine. In the bottom of the inning Papelbon threw one up and in on Sammy Sosa. Sosa started for the mound, but thought better of it and just glared at Papelbon. The Sox prospect was not intimidated. He earned a lot of respect from the team with his attitude out there. With a mid-90's fastball and a fearless attitude Papelbon could be pitching for the big league club by the end of 2006. Watch him this year when he plays for the AA Sea Dogs.

The same article mentions how there are only two spots left on the team. Kevin Youkilis convinced the club that he would learn more on the bench in Boston than he would on the field in Pawtucket so Youk will be starting the year in the bigs. Francona did suggest that if he can't find enough playing time for Youkilis, he could be headed back to AAA until he's needed. Spot #23 goes to the newest member of the club, Blaine Neal. On a little side note, I've been thinking about sponsoring a page over at Baseball-Reference for a little while now, but there's no way in hell that I'm going to drop $50 just to see my website's name up in the lights. When checking out some info on Neal I noticed that his page was available for only $5 so I went for it. Blaine Neal is the newest member of the Sox and the newest man to have his page on Baseball-Reference sponsored. The final two roster spots are still up for grabs but I have a sneaking suspicion that they will be filled by the last two men that I want to see in a BoSox uniform. Dave McCarty will likely make the club as a defensive replacement at first and in the outfield. I've already made it clear here that I think the man is useless, but at least he won't hurt the team too much. The other man that I fear will make the team, however, could easily hurt the team. With all the press he's getting lately and with the other two likely competitors, Mark Malaska and Lenny Dinardo, sent to the minors I think the final spot on the major league roster goes to none other than...(drum roll please).....Byung Hyun Kim. Yeah. I'm afraid too.

In what could be a bit of bad news Johnny Damon thinks awfully high of himself. Damon is the best of a group of Red Sox players who are eligible for free agency at the end of this year. There has been no talk between Damon and the club about an extension, something that doesn't surprise or upset Damon. He says that he would sign a four year deal right now, but after the season is done the 31 year old will likely be asking for six years. He even threw in a barb about how the Yankees will be looking for a new center fielder in 2006. Damon compares himself to Ichiro Suzaki and J.D. Drew. He'll likely be looking for the type of deal that one of those two players might receive. Drew, as you may know, signed a 5 year, $55 million deal with the Dodgers this off-season. Johnny Damon has become the identity of the Red Sox. He's coming off one of the best years of his career and is quickly becoming one of the highest profile players in the majors, but if the guy thinks he should get a 6 year $66 million deal, he's nuts. I'd like for the Red Sox to bring him back, but even the $32 million over four years that he's getting now is a bit much, especially for a guy who is on the wrong side of 30.

And finally, Aaron Gleeman's latest post is a space killer where he simply posted the first 40 songs that popped up when he put his IPod on shuffle. I've already seen two other baseball bloggers post the same and credit him for it. I swear to whatever higher power is out there that if that man brings memes to the baseball blog world I will find him and harm him. A lot. I deal with far too much of that on LJ to deal with it here too.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

News bits o' the day

So how about that David Wells, eh? The Orioles were swinging at everything he threw and hitting it hard as they knocked him around for 11 hits and 6 runs in their rain-shortened 6-1 victory over the Sox. Johnny Damon left during the middle of the game after coming up limping after running down a fly ball. Luckily it was only a cramp and Johnny was fine before he even made it to the dugout. The two teams meet again today with top Sox pitching prospect, Jon Papelbon ready to start the game for the good guys.

Need to lose those extra pounds, but don't really have the motivation? There's always the Fenway Park Diet.

The Baseball Analysts talk about the AL East with Sully from The House that Dewey Built and Cliff Corcoran from Bronx Banter. The article is a bit long as most Baseball Analyst articles have a tendency of being, but three out of four of them predict the Sox will finish tops in the AL East. The only one bucking the trend was Yankee fan Cliff. The main reason why Sully and the other two think the Sox will take it over the Yankees is depth. Both teams are old and injury prone. Both will likely suffer from plenty of missed time. The Yankees are in no way, shape, or form ready to handle the loss of anyone. Their bench is horrid and they have no sixth starter. The Sox, on the other hand, are stacked from the first guy on the team to the twenty-fifth. They have backup plans and the ability to play the game even if a few of their starters go down. That theory definitely makes a lot of sense.

Wade Miller threw to live batters before yesterday's game and said he felt great. If his shoulder still feels good then he'll throw again this weekend. If all goes according to plan Miller will get some pitching done in the minor leagues before making his way to the big league club in early May. If Miller really is back that early and is able to make 25+ starts for the Sox, that would be absolutely fantastic.

Lenny Dinardo and Mark Malaska were sent down to the minors yesterday along with four other players. That doesn't leave too many options for the final two spots on the pitching staff. With Curt Schilling and Wade Miller starting the season on the DL the Red Sox have two spots in the bullpen to fill. One of them will likely be filled by the newest member of the Sox, Blaine Neal. So who gets the final spot on the roster? Could it be that the Red Sox actually plan on playing Byun Hyung Kim?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Clemens offering money for a hummer

Roger Clemens is willing to give $10,000 for a Hummer. Well...Ok, actually it was his Hummer. The truck that the Yankees gave Clemens as a retirement gift was stolen from the high school parking lot where his son, Koby, parked it for the day. So if you see an orange Hummer driving around Texas, give Roger a call and collect the $10,000 reward.

Sorry...just couldn't resist the headline.

Nothing earth shattering at the press conference

Well, there was no earth shattering news revealed at today's press conference about the proposed improvements to Fenway Park. It was pretty much what I was expecting. It was mostly an official announcement that the club has no intention of building another park and will be renovating Fenway. Basically Larry Luchino said several times that the Sox have made some no strings attached commitments to the improvements. So while they'd like for the city of Boston to put some money into renovating the surrounding area and improving the Fenway neighborhoods, they will still go ahead with their modifications to Fenway park. The numbers of seats in Fenway will top out around 39,000. They don't want to add anything that would compromise the intimacy of the park. The other improvement they talked about was the removal of the glass covering the .406 club. They plan on doing that before the 2006 season.

Today's game against the Baltimore Orioles is just starting and it almost looks like Opening Day. David Wells is on the mound and our line-up is pretty much what you're going to see on Opening Day against the Yankees. Baltimore is also throwing most of their starters out there. The game is being televised today.

Speaking of Baltimore, Eric Dubose, a pitcher competing for their fifth spot in the rotation, was pulled over for drunk driving a couple nights ago. When the police officer asked Dubose, whose blood-alcohol level was .113, to say the alphabet backwards his response was "I'm from Alabama, and they have a different alphabet." Needless to say Dubose spent the night in jail.

Aaron Gleeman over at the Hardball times has 3 out of his 5 part series of the top 50 prospects done. Sox shortstop Hanley Ramirez ranks 26th on his list. Gleeman hasn't posted the top 20 yet, but I think we can safely assume that Ramirez is our only prospect on the top fifty. Ramirez did look good this spring and from what I've heard he'll be starting the season in AA Portland. I'm looking forward to his call-up to Pawtucket so I can watch him play once in a while.

Damon returns, the Sox lose, Hyzdu leaves, and the rest of today's news

A freshly shaved Johnny Damon returned to the lineup last night after sitting out a week's worth of games with cellulitus. Damon went 0-3 in the 6-4 loss against the Cincinnati Reds. Tim Wakefield's knuckler wasn't knuckling and he was roughed up for 8 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs in less than 4 innings of work. The bullpen pitched a perfect reset of the game including 2 1/3 innings of perfect ball from Keith Foulke. David Ortiz hit a monster shot to center for a solo home run and Bill Mueller added two RBI's with a double, but it just wasn't enough.

Before the game Adam Hyzdu was sent to the San Diego Padres for right hander Blaine Neal. The second section of this article talks a little bit about the team. The move likely means that Dave McCarty and Kevin Youkilis will both make the team. Neal has a decent shot at making the team with both Curt Schilling and Wade Miller starting the season on the DL leaving two open spots on the team for pitchers. I like this deal. It's unlikely to have a huge impact on the season, but it can't really hurt either. Hyzdu is a career minor leaguer who I was pulling for to make the team, but likely wouldn't have done much to contribute. Neal has had three seasons of experience in the majors; one good, one bad, and last year, a mediocre one. He has a fastball in the 93-94 range and throws a good slider. Judging by his stats the guy will at least be average. His control and ability to keep the ball in the yard are both decent and his K/9 ratio is a little bit better than average. It is possible that he could be a very effective 11th pitcher on this team for the whole year.

Mayor Thomas Menino said yesterday that the city of Boston can not afford to offer any financial aid to the Red Sox and their efforts to improve Fenway Park and the neighboring area. The Red Sox never did ask for a specific financial commitment. There is a press conference today at 12:15 on NESN to talk about what the Sox would like to do.

An Acton elementary school wants the Red Sox and Yankees to shake hands before the Red Sox home opener on April 11th. The school came up with the idea last October when the rivalry went a little too far in the school yard between Red Sox fans and Yankee fans. A Yankee fan teacher came up with the idea and the school has actually gained the support of George Steinbrenner and Terry Francona. Both say that they support the idea, but it is up to the players on whether or not they want to do it. I'm torn on the issue. I do realize that good sportsmanship, setting the proper example, and all that other junk are supposed to be good things. But that's not really want I want to see. I like seeing rivalry. I like seeing hatred. The two bench clearing brawls that the teams have had in the last two years are things that I'm going to remember for the rest of my life and things that I find extremely entertaining. I don't want to see Trot Nixon and Alex Rodriguez shake hands. I want to see them throw punches. Maybe that makes me a bad person. A thug. Classless. Whatever. I realize it's "just a game", but when baseball is brought above the level of "just a game" like most intense rivalries have a way of doing, it makes the game even better. I won't be disappointed by any means if the two teams do decide to shake hands, but then again I won't be disappointed if they don't either.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

At least we're not those other guys...

A bit off topic, but Barry Bonds might miss the entire season. I'm not the biggest Barry hater in the world, but I really can't stand the guy. I don't care about the steroids, but his attitude, demeanor, and how often he plays the Race Card piss me off to no end. I don't wish any additional harm on the guy, but it brought a smile to my face to see that he won't be around this year. And since Bonds pretty much is the entire Giants team, I think you can pencil them in for the bottom half of the NL West. They'll likely still beat the Rockies, but the Dodgers and the Padres will be beating up on them all year. Peter Gammons still thinks the Giants can compete, but I really can't see how.

The Red Sox have been really lucky so far this year. Curt Schilling will miss the first couple weeks of the year, but we've been prepared for that for a while. Wade Miller will start the year on the DL, but we knew that when we signed him. Imagine being a Giants fan and with the above mentioned news, your entire season just went down the tubes. Or being a Cubs fan and for the second straight year having injury issues with Wood, Prior, and their closer, Borowski. Things are looking good so far for the 2005 Sox, knock on wood.

I'd like to add something to the sidebar. Some kind of running statistic that I can keep going through the season. The House that Dewey Built, one of the blogs that got me into thinking that I needed my own, had a few different things going on on their sidebar last year. They had a walk count for Bellhorn and Youk and a trade comparison tracking how Cabrera and Nomar did over the course of the season. I think, once the season starts, I'll at least start keeping track of the standings over there. And I have a couple of other ideas to spruce it up a bit. But those will wait a week and a half for the season to start. Yeah. That's right. Just a week and a half left!

And just a quick reminder, tonight's game against the Reds at 6:05 will be televised on NESN.

Schilling, Arroyo looking good.

"But today was a very big day. Everything that I'd hoped would happen, happened." The words of Curt Schilling after throwing three simulated innings against a team of minor leaguers. Twenty-four of Schilling's thirty-seven pitches were strikes and the only runs he let up was a two run home run hit off a hanging splitter. Schilling still plans on being out for the first two weeks of the season, but everything about yesterday's simulated game seemed positive. Schilling felt good and everyone was happy with the way he threw. Once Schilling gets his season going I predict a near repeat of his near Cy-Young worthy 2004 season.

Bronson Arroyo went six strong innings to get the win in Boston's 7-3 victory over Derek Lowe and the LA Dodgers. Lowe let up only two runs on a two run shot by Kevin Youkilis, but still took the loss.

The current Red Sox ownership has no plans for a new stadium. I've always been torn on this issue. On the one hand, Fenway is a fantastic place to watch a ball game. It has more charactor and more recognizable features than any other stadium in the league. It has a history and it has a unique charm. On the other hand it'd be nice if the Sox were able to add another 15,000 seats in a new stadium. Perhaps that would make tickets a bit cheaper and easier to come by. Besides that, the stadium is pretty old. A nice, new park with all the mordern features could be a positive thing. I honestly have very little to compare Fenway to. The only other ballpark I've been to is Yankee Stadium, a place that I am completely unimpressed with. I'll be heading down to Baltimore to catch a game this year so I'll be able to see what a new ballpark looks like. All that, however, is besides the point. The Red Sox would like to improve upon Fenway and the surrounding neighborhood instead of building a whole new park. The team is looking to add more parking, a subway station on Yawkey Way, improved streets and sidewalks, and a cleaner environment.

On a final note....

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A picture of Lowe in another team's uniform is a beautiful thing.

Monday, March 21, 2005

A couple of disagreements with Baseball Prospectus 2005

I bought the Baseball Prospectus 2005 book last night. I'm a bit late with the purchase, as it's been out for over a month now, but I just ran into a little extra spending money so I picked it up. I haven't really had a chance to look too much into it yet, but of course the first thing I did was turn to the Red Sox page. Maybe I'm nitpicking a bit, but there were a couple of things I didn't like about their writeup for the team.

For an organization so clearly on the way up, it's ironic that the Red Sox have nowhere to go but down.

The writeup was led off with that quote and I disagree. It could be that they believe that a World Series victory after an 86 year drought is the highest a team can get, but I believe that a World Series victory after an 86 year drought followed by several more World Series victories in the upcoming decade is entirely possible and a definate path upwards. With a sizeable payroll, a smart GM, and an improving farm system this team definately is on the rise, as they said, but there is a clear path upwards that the Red Sox are in position to take.

Even without acquiring Alex Rodriguez last winter, the Sox led the majors in runs scored for the second straight year

How would Rodriguez have helped the Red Sox last year? The man he was to be traded for, Manny Ramirez put up far better numbers than A-Rod and second deal that would've gone down, Magglio Ordonez for Nomar Garciaparra would've turned out to be a wash as both players spent the bulk of the year on the DL. I wasn't the least bit upset last winter when we didn't get Rodriguez. It was a win-win situation for the Sox. I really didn't think it would have made a difference in the win column having one set of all-stars over another. I was actually relieved that the deals didn't go through, mostly for sentimental reasons since the trade wouldn't have really improved our team. And the 2004 season showed that we were much better off being unable to pull off the deal. So why even bring up Rodriguez and why imply that the Red Sox offense would have been better off with him?

In Varitek's case, however, the Sox overextended themselves...It's exactly the kind of move Duquette woul dhave made, investing enormous capital past the foreseeable horizon in a player almost certain to decline.

Is Jason Varitek overpaid? Yes. Was the deal a bad move? Absolutely not. What were the options if we didn't bring Varitek back? Maybe the rumored deal to acquire Nationals catcher Brian Schneider would've went down. Maybe Doug Mirabelli would've became our starter and Kelly Shoppach would've started the year in the majors. Or maybe Epstein would've been able to nab someone else. Whoever ended up starting for the Red Sox wouldn't have been as good as Varitek. V-tek is one of the best catchers in the game. He has a good bat and has plenty of those intangibles that are always talked about. He'll help the team more than any other catcher could have. Bringing back Varitek was not a mistake. In four years when Varitek is 36, spending most of his time at first and DH, and on a sharp offensive decline, $10 million will be too much for him. But the Red Sox have a very sizeable payroll and can afford to overpay the best options.

I'm not putting down the book. And I'm not saying that the 2005 Baseball Prospectus isn't worth it. I paid $18 for 568 pages chock full of player analysis and unique takes on things. I have a feeling that once I really get into this book it will be the best $18 I've spent in a while. And I don't pretend to know more about baseball than anyone writing for that book. I just take exception to a couple of things that they have to say about the Red Sox.

Another purchase I made over the weekend was MVP 2005. Now I'll refrain from talking about the game too much because I realize that most people won't care. But I will say that it's worth the money. It's a very similar game to the 2004 version, but it is smoother and looks a bit better. There are few actual changes in the game that make it worth the money, but for the low, low price of $30 it's worth owning simply because the Red Sox are the featured team on the game. It's definately a must have for any Red Sox fan/video gamer. I'm already off to a 7-0 start with my Red Sox dynasty including a sweep of the Yanks and Jays. Perhaps it's time to bump it up another difficulty level?

Halama sputters, Hyzdu homers, and Byung Hyun Kim is on no one's mind

The Red Sox dropped one to the Pirates yesterday afternoon mostly thanks to John Halama's first inning. He allowed 7 hits and five earned runs in the first before going on to retire the last eight batters he faced. Four relievers went on to go five innings of one hit, two walk ball, but the Pirates already had all the needed. The Sox scored all of their runs on a three run shot by Adam Hyzdu who is doing his best to show that he deserves a roster spot. I've mentioned it before and I'll mention it again, but I'm all for anyone who isn't David McCarty. I'm not sure why I'm so down on that guy. There are definately worse players in the league. But he's become my least favorite player in a Boston uniform since Jose Awfulman.

There is an article in the Herald talking about Byung Hyun Kim. The article begins by talking about how Kim is a forgotten man. He's not talked about, he's barely even thought about, and no one even mentions the possibility that he'll be a contributer to the 2005 Boston team. That's a pretty good point because with how often I think about baseball, I don't think I've given Kim more than five seconds of thought this spring. The article mostly talks about Kim's history, but it does make it seem like the problems he's having are mostly mental. He's talked about as if he's a headcase, which could be true. He's a loner who wants nothing to do with the team and the club seems to think it's his unhappiness that's causing his problems. Some believe that Kim will be in Colorado or Milwaukee before the season starts, with the SOx eating most of his contract. A similar Herald article in today's paper also talks about Kim. Francona and pitching coach, Dave Wallace were both impressed with Kim's pitching, but Doug Mirabelli has plenty to say about how bad of a teammate Kim is. Mirabelli really digs into Kim and his refusal to communicate with anyone. Epstein says that he doesn't regret traded away Shea Hillenbrand to get Kim and I agree. Kim did have a decent half year with us even if he wasn't effective in save situations. On the other side of the deal, Hillenbrand is a marginal player, at best. With his inability to draw a walk, he's the opposite of what the Sox are looking for. Besides that, with him gone it gave Bill Mueller a chance to play every day. And with the sesaon Mueller had in 2003, we wanted him out there every day. What Epstein does regret is giving Kim a two year, $10 million deal. Personally, I liked the deal at the time. Who knew that Kim would lose 8 mph and all the movement on his pitches. But hindsight is 20/20. At least the Sox are done with him after this year.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Happy Spring!

Baseball fans have known for weeks that winter is over and it's time for spring. Today the rest of the country catches up to us as the calendar flips to the 20th and now, nationwide, it's officially spring. Happy spring everyone! Here in New England we'll be greeted by the new season with a nice slushy mix of rain and snow. That's not some kind of bad omen, is it?

A quick thanks to WhatsYourPoint for correcting my spelling of Dick Radatz. It is probably apparent to anyone that has been to this site more than once, but spelling is not my strong point and I always forgot about that handy spellcheck. I'd at least like to get the player's names right though, especially in a post dedicated to that player.

While Curt Schilling has insisted all along that there's a chance he could still pitch the opener, it became more and more apparent as we got closer to opening day that he wouldn't be starting. Yesterday the decision was made official. Schilling will likely start the season on the DL and will miss at least the first two weeks of the season. David Wells will be the opening day starter and the Sox will go with a four man rotation until April 19th. By then either Schilling will be back or the Sox will have to use a fifth starter, likely John Halama. Matt Clement will be the number two starter and Time Wakefield will be pitching in the home opener on April 11th. This is obviously bad news, but it was expected. Our rotation is a little underwelming without Schilling's presence, but at least we have the best lineup in the game to hold down the fort.

Clement fell to 0-2 for the spring as the Sox were shut out by Baltimore in yesterday's game. Clement pitched three scoreless innings before a string of doubles and singles plated 3 runs, all earned, for the Orioles. Clement lasted 4 innings, struck out 4, and walked only his second batter of the spring. Clements record and ERA may not look all that impressive but his 12/2 K/BB ratio in 13 innings does look pretty damn good. Once the season starts and Clement really turns it on, using all his pitches, he is going to start to look really good. As the season gets closer the Clement signing is starting to become my favorite offseason move.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Sox win and six players head to the minors as we're one day closer...

Top Sox prospects Hanley Ramirez and Kelly Shoppach were both sent to the minors yesterday along with four other players. Forty-three players remain in camp for the Sox. Shoppach could see some time this year if either Jason Varitek or Doug Mirabelli head to the DL, but Ramirez is going to play in Pawtucket before likely getting a call-up in September.

The Red Sox beat the Marlins 5-3 yesterday in a televised game. I'm not around on the weekends so I don't get to watch most spring training games. And yesterday I completely forgot that the game was on tv. So once again, I missed out on watching baseball. What did I miss? David Wells allowed three first inning runs, but settled down for three scoreless innings after that. He said that he wasn't winded at all and still had the stamina to go a couple more innings. Another couple of outings and he'll be ready to go nine. Jay Payton is on fire this spring and continued that with a home run in the game. Gabe who?

I've added a new site to the side bar. Longing to once again see Fenway? Want to see that beautiful green grass? Curious to see what it looks like at this very moment? Then check out this Fenway Cam.

In non-Sox related news, it appears as if Roberto Alomar is set to retire. I realize now that Almoar has always had an attitude problem (his spitting on the ump incident comes to mind), but he was a favorite of mine in the 90's. I played in a fantasy baseball league for the first time in '92 when I was only 12 years old. Alomar was one of the main reasons why a 12 year old's team steamrolled over my father, grandfather, and seven of their friends. I hope that Alomar makes it into the hall and I fully believe that he deserves it although I fear that voters may remember his last few years instead of his 12 All-Star games and 10 gold gloves. The guy was fun to watch and fun to have on a fantasy team. If he does decide to retire, then in five years, I'll be campaigning for the guy.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Mailbag time!

All the great sports writers have to have a mailbag. It's kind of like the chicken and the egg deal. What comes first? Being great or having a mailbag? In my case, I'm having a mailbag column before I turn great. So greatness must be the next step, eh? I didn't get too much in the way of mail, so this may be a one and only time deal. But we'll see.

Megs asks - "Now that the "curse has been reversed" will you (and/or other fans) be as superstisious as they have been?"

Superstition has been a big part of baseball for as long as I can remember. From my earliest favorite player, Wade Boggs, eating chicken before every game, drawing in the batter's box before every at bat, and having an exact routine he followed every game day to Nomar's glove ritual before every pitch, players have always been superstitious. And that won't change a bit. As for the "curse", I've never been a huge believer in it. I've done things to try to break the curse (dropped holy water in Yankee Stadium, destroyed two Babe Ruth bobbleheads, named fish after Yankee players then fed them to the turtle, etc), but I never really believed in it. All those things were just in case. Now we will never have to hear about the Red Sox being cursed. We will, however, still have to hear about the Curse that is affecting the Cubs. And a new curse (perhaps the White Sox?) will likely surface to replace the one that was reversed. As to other superstitions, they're not going anywhere. Lucky underwear, proper seating, mojo, rally grills, and anything else that happens to help the Sox win will be around forever. Sports fans are a superstitious bunch and anything we can do to help our team win will be done.

Ebjim asks - "Will Bill Mueller last the entire seaso? If he does miss some time, do you think Kevin Youkilis will end the season as the full-time starter?"

Will Bill Mueller last an entire season? Absolutely not. One of my first posts here was actually my thoughts on Mueller's health and Youkilis's chances with the team. He has been plauged by injuries over the course of his entire career and starting the season with surgery is not a good start. Terry Francona has already said (I wish I could find the article...) that it's almost guaranteed that Mueller will have to have at least one more minor surgery during the season to clean the knee up a bit. I'd say that Mueller will probably play around the same amount of games as he did last year (110). As for Youkilis, I'm a pretty big fan of the guy. Maybe I put too much stock into him because he's a home grown talent, but I think he'll do fine. Between Mueller likely missing time and Youkilis's practice at first this spring, I think he'll get plenty of playing time. He likely won't be considered a full timer and if everyone is healthy come play-off time, Youk will likely be on the bench again, but I'd say that he'll get at least 300 AB's this year and if I had my way, he'd get 400.

Frawst asks - "Why are so few former Sox involved now in the organization? Do you think I can borrow your GF for the weekend?"

Before the 2004 season there was a writer out there who talked about what the real curse of the Red Sox was. He claimed that the Red Sox inability to bring back former players was a huge part of why they were suffering for so long. And it's true. Jody Reed could be our third base coach. Mike Greenwell could be managing the Portland Sea Dogs. Roger Clemens could be our pitching coach....oh wait, that guy's still going. I think the main reason why our players don't return is because of the front office. The new regime might turn out to be better (although Nomar, Lowe, Hillenbrand, and Pedro don't have a single nice thing to say about the Sox between them, so I wouldn't count on it), but our previous front office wasn't exactly filled with people persons. Roger Clemens wants to be remembered as a Yankee. Wade Boggs probably feels the same. Mo Vaughn was run out of town. None of our stars leave on good terms. The Sox always seem to do things to hurt their feelings. Lou Gorman and Dan Duquette didn't know how to handle people. Theo and the gang put an emphasis on winning and the team over individual players and sentimental things so it's likely that thyey'll be just as bad. At the end of the season Wakefield is going to be a free agent. If he doesn't have a good year and prove that he's still a major league player, Theo won't even give him a second look next offseason. They won't offer Wake a contract despite how long he's been with us, despite all he's done for us, and despite how nice a guy he is because he won't be worth the kind of money he'll be asking for. I can't say that I disagree with this method. This methotic and stats over human kind of strategy has led us to a World Championship and will lead us to more. But it's not very player friendly. The players here will always have fond memories of their playing time, the fans, and the city, but the front office and the way they were treated will always leave a bad taste in their mouth. After they retire and start looking for coaching or front office type jobs, they'll likely look elsewhere.

As for borrowing my girlfriend, first I'm going to have to ask why. If it's for a good reason, then I'm going to have to insist that you pay for airfare for her to get down there. And you'll have to buy a plane ticket for me too.

Bc320 asks - "What happened to Arquimedez Pozo? And how did he get his awesome name?" and "Why didnt Rudy Pemberton ever turn into the star he was supposed to be back in 97?"

Arquimedez Pozo, eh? Well, my guess is that he realized that he wasn't a big league player. His .189 career batting average is proof enough of that. In 1999 Pozo went over to Japan, but I can't find any game recaps or even any stats that prove that he even played a single game over there. What do I think happened? He either suffered some kind of injury or he wasn't even able to get playing time over in Japan, so he retired. This is mostly just speculation. I do know that he was signed by a club in Japan in 99, but I don't know anything other than that. And about his name, that much is obvious. Many surnames come from whatever trade a family did way back in the day. So Wade Miller's ancesters were likely millers. Sometimes, the surname's spelling is altered for a variety of reasons. So it's likely that Kevin Millar and Bill Mueller's ancesters were also millers. Pozo's family once made pogo sticks. And the spelling was accidently changed when they came over to the States. His first name comes from an arguement between his parents. Papa Pozo wanted to name his boy Arqua Man. And Mama Pozo wanted to name him Medezine (she was a bad speller and was trying to go for medicine...the very thing that once saved her life when she was a child and had a bad cold). The two decided to comprimise and go with Arquimedez.

From what I can find out about Rudy Pemberton, he never really was that good. He was never thought of as a prospect until his amazing year in 1997, and even then he was a bit too old to be considered a prospect. He spent the first part of his career as a bit of a journey-man when he was drafted by the Tigers and ended up playing for the Rangers before getting traded to the Red Sox for minor league pitcher Bryan Eversgerd. His 1997 season in Pawtucket was a good one when he hit over .300 and knocked 27 home runs. His year only got better once he hit the big league club and posted an absolutely amazing .512 avg. How did he do all that if he never was that good? He mostly got lucky. No one hits .512. Over the course of 41 at bats, the guy got really lucky. Every ball he hit fell in a spot where a fielder just happened to not be. Everyone was expecting good things from Pemberton in 98 and nothing materialized. He's probably better than his last year in the bigs indicates, but once he started off that cold, he never really got a chance. Pemberton ended up heading to Japan in 1999 and that's where his trail seems to end.

A good bye to Dick Radatz

Thanks to yesterday's rainout and every single bit of baseball coverage for the day being about the 'S' word, there is really no news going on around baseball. The only exception to this is the passing of former Sox pitcher Dick Radatz. I wish I could say something to honor the former player, but honestly, I had never heard of him until his death. He was a player in the 60's, far before my time. What I do know is that his death has saddened many in Red Sox Nation and when one Nation member is down, we all are. So I sent my sympathies to his surving family and hope he has a good time in the big Fenway in the sky.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Remember kids...

Bic Mac's message is that "steroids is bad".

I'm getting real tired of the steroid talk, but when the Sox get rained out and there's no baseball on tv, at least we could see Curt Schilling talking to Congress. The whole thing was a joke. Schilling plugged ALS, Big Mac pleaded the fifth, and Canseco tried to sell his book.

This junk better stop once the regular season starts!

Schilling looking good, Damon looking bad

Curt Schilling felt good and looked good in his 60 pitch simulated game yesterday. While his availability for opening day is highly doubtful, it sounds like Schilling will be reaedy soon after. The good news is that he was happy with the way he threw. His velocity was there and his splitter was looking good.

There is a little bit of bad news around Sox camp, however. Johnny Damon is suffering from a case of cellulitis. Apparently it's a bacterial infection that is causing baseball sized lumps to pop up on his ankle and groin. He's responding to the antibiotics that he's being given, but remains day to day after missing his third straight game yesterday. It will likely be a few more games before he sees any action again. I've heard the term cellulitis before, but never actually knew what it was. A baseball sized lump on the groin??? Yikes.

In other injury news the same article about Damon talks about Rule 5 draft pick Adam Stern is suffering from a broken thumb and will likely be sidelined until the third week in April. Stern was fighting for the honor of being the 25th man on the team, but has had a injury-ridden spring and has only managed two at bats so ar. That leaves a few options for the Sox. Adamn Hyzdu, Kevin Youkilis, and David McCarty are fighting for the last two bench spots. Hyzdu was impressive in yesterday's win over the Cardinals. Youkilis has had a decent spring, sporting a .320 AVG and has made it clear that he'd rather be in Boston. Youk says that he learned more on the bench with the big league club last year then he could ever learn in Pawtucket. McCarty is, as always, all-around unimpressive. If it were up to me I'd keep Youkilis and Hyzdu on the team and send McCarty down to Pawtucket to pitch batting practice and be the third base coach. Hyzdu hasn't wow'ed us in his previous tours of duty in the majors (his best year coming in 2002 with the Pirates when he hit 11 homers in 155 AB, but hit only .232), but he's a patient hitter who can draw a walk and has a little bit of pop. Plus, as a fifth legitimate outfielder, he insures that we wouldn't see Millar in right. Some say that Youkilis would benifit more from playing every day in Pawtucket, but he is right. At 26 years old, he's no longer a prospect, and his game is refined to the point where he can hang in the bigs, even if it's on the bench. He'd be able to get enough playing time giving Mueller and Millar a break once in a while. And if Francona wants to sit Ortiz against a tough lefty, Youk would do fine as a DH once in a while. But, according to the Herald, McCarty is looking like he'll make the team, partly because his versatility as a 12th pitcher. That bit was pretty amusing in spring training last year and I'll admit that I wanted to see him pitch during the season. That's over with now. That guy should not take the mound and he should not make the team. He is starting to line up behind Jose Awfulman and Caesar Crespo as one of my least favorite Red Sox players in recent history. It's a shame, really, because he's probably not all that bad a guy. He isn't all that good a ballplayer though.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Boston writers ready to give up?

I have decided to do a mailbag question and answer session. The problem is that I have no questions to answer. So if you're a regular reader here (all both of you) drop me an email or a comment and ask me a Red Sox related question! If I actually get a decent response I might do it on a regular basis. All I know is that if I ever want to be a major player in the sports world, I need a mailbag column! So help a brotha out, and ask away.

The Herald gets an early start to the blame game. You heard it there first, if the Sox lose it's all because of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. And Bill Belichick would be very dissapointed. Personally I would think that it's a little early to start pointing fingers since they haven't even lost a regular season game yet. Hell, they won't even play a game for two and a half weeks! I think there's a deeper problem here. I think it's just that Tony Massarotti is homophobic.

I've been very tempted to purchase MLB Gameday Audio lately. It's only $15 to listen to every game all year. I'm tempted because the spring games aren't on tv, but they are on the radio. I don't have a radio in my room. Hell, I only have one in the house and it doesn't get WEEI. I just have to keep reminding myself that there's no need to pay the $15 when I can watch every game on NESN in a couple of weeks...I just have to keep repeating that. But it's hard, especially when I look at the scoreboard and see that the Sox already have a 6-0 lead in a World Series match up against the Cardinals.

And in advertisement news, the Sox have their own ice cream!

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It's pretty standard ice cream, but I know it was made with love because the Red Sox logo is stamped on the top. They also have three other varieties if you're a freak and don't like chocolate.

2005 Line-up

Everybody, please welcome the defending champion Boston Red Sox starting line up.

CF Johny Damon
SS Edgar Renteria
LF Manny Ramirez
DH David Ortiz
1B Kevin Millar
RF Trot Nixon
C Jason Varitek
3B Bill Mueller
2B Mark Bellhorn

Personally, I really don't like the move of putting Bellhorn in the 9 spot. His ability to wear down a pitcher and his on base skills are far better suited second in the order. Renteria is the old school choice batting second because he has speed and a higher average, but in today's baseball world, especially a world as stat oriented as the one in Boston, Bellhorn should be the man batting behind Damon. I would put Bellhorn second, Renteria seventh, Varitek eigth, and Mueller ninth. I can definately live with the line up that Francona wants to put out there. Any combination of nine guys capable of threatening the 1000 run mark is A-OK in my books. I would just rather see Bellhorn a little higher up.

Bronson Arroyo pitched well in yesterday's win against the Devil Rays. It's widely believed that Arroyo is the odd man out when all six Red Sox starters are healthy, but I believe that's a very big mistake. Unless something out of the ordinary happens (and this is baseball....out of the ordinary tends to be the norm) Tim Wakefield is the obvious choice to get bumped to the bullpen. He is the team's worst starter and he's very versatile in the pen. He can come in early in the game, pitch a few innings, and still be ready to go again the next day. In his career he has been the long relief man, set up man, closer, and has held virtually every role a relief pitcher can have. Arroyo showed us last year that he can be a very effective starter. He also showed us last year that he's improving and could put up even better numbers this year. I think it'd be a very big mistake to make Arroyo our number six starter.

The word on Curt Schilling today is that he is not ruling out pitching on opening day. We've heard so many different things from so many different angles on Schilling this spring that it's hard to know what to believe. When opening day rolls around it is possible that it will be Schilling vs. Johnson, but I'm not counting on it. Maybe I'm being overly pessimistic, but I don't think Schilling will be making his debut until late April. What we know for sure is that Schilling is pitching a simulated game today. So we'll know a little bit more after he throws.

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