Saturday, April 30, 2005

Red Sox Nation speaks again

About a month ago I emailed a few questions to a handful of Sox bloggers here on the World Wide Web and threw all their responses together in one giant post. This time I did the same although because a few less guys got back to me and those who did respond were a little more brief, this entry is thankfully shorter than the last. Even though I did kinda cheat and ask several questions inside of all three of the questions, this one turned out to be a little more manageable.

My questions were....

1) Have your expectations for the Red Sox and the AL East in general changed after everything that has happened in the season so far?

2) What has been the biggest Sox dissapointment to you so far this year? What about the biggest pleasent surprise?

3) In all of baseball, whose fast surprise start (team or player) do you think has the best chance to stick? How about slow start?

And the guys answered with....

Tim from Bullshit Memorial Stadium

1) Not really- in fact, the season thus far has started sort of like I guessed- slowly. The roster is a little old, and out of the gate, the starting pitching is a little tenuous- guys coming off rehab, guys changing leagues, etc. I full expect this team to be a type that hits a stride like last year- though not as hot and not following a long .500 stretch. That being said- though I still think they'll win the division, I don't think they'll win 98 games like last year, due mostly to improvements made by Toronto and Baltimore.

2) I didn't necessarily think that Renteria would be worth the money, but I never thought he'd be this bad. Of course, it's early, and he's already showing signs of breaking out- being more patient, going to the opposite field- but since it's early and that's the context of the question... Renteria I guess. Schilling and Foulke are obvious choices too, but I don't think anyone expects their struggles to last.

Pleasant surprise is Varitek, no question. He's just been hitting tremendously from day one, and seems to have been able to coax Clement into pounding the strike zone early in games. Jay Payton too, and I thought Ramon Vazquez played some really great defense at 3B subbing for Mueller being sick.

3) The Dodgers will win the West, and though I wasn't surprised at the fast start, some people seemed to be, so I'd pick them. There's just no one else in that division worth betting on, including San Francisco, who had this hype attached to them I still fail to grasp. As for players, Mark Buehrle. Probably the most underappreciated great pitcher in baseball.

I think the Twins will come around, but I'm convinced more and more everyday that Chicago is pretty much sewing up the division right now. Oakland as well- I have them winning the West, and they're a lot better offensively than they've played. As for slow starts sticking- the Yankees? Seriously though, I think the Cubs are going to have a lot of problems all season, especially if Wood goes back down. Also, it's getting hard to be optimistic about Magglio Ordonez.

1) Have your expectations for the Red Sox and the AL
East in general changed after everything that has
happened in the season so far?

Marc from Baseball Rants

1) My expectations have been met by the Red Sox and the AL East so far, yes. The Sox are more dangerous rotation wise due to the added depth, but the lineup is not as scary yet since Mueller, Bellhorn, Millar, and Renteria have not done much. Renteria is meeting my expectations so far by the way, and is angering me greatly considering Dustin Pedroia's .358/.470/.509 start for Portland. I can't even talk about how much I dislike the Renteria signing anymore. The rest of the AL is shaping up mostly the way I envisioned it: The Blue Jays are middle of the pack, the Orioles can score in bunches but can't always prevent scoring, and the Devil Rays aren't threatening without Kazmir on the mound at his best. The Yankees are off to a bad start record wise (like last year) but there is something different this time around, as they look worse than their record shows. I can't wait to run the pythagenport standings for the AL again this weekend so I can see how they are actually overachieving at this point.

2) The fact that one of these guys in the rotation is going to have to go for Wade Miller soon. I expect a lot from Miller when he joins the Sox, but it is sad to think Arroyo or Wake is going to be booted from the rotation. The biggest pleasant surprise? Well its nice to see the Trot Nixon/Jay Payton platoon working out well, as well as seeing 3 of the top 10 starters in the league on the same team (Schilling-Clement-Arroyo) even though Schill hasn't done his part yet. Is that a surprise though, or am I just happy to see it in action?

3) The LA Dodgers start. It was not a surprise in stathead circles at all, as I watch DePo at work with admiration and wonder at what schemes he has employed, but it was a surprise to say, Skip Bayless and Buster Olney, who usually jump down the throat of guys like DePo and Beane. Glad to see the Dodgers doing well, especially Lowe (since he's on someone else's tab).

Slow start that'll stick? Well its not really a slow start, but Arizona's 12-8 record won't last. They have scored 91 runs and given up 100, which should stick them under .500 sometime for the rest of the year once it catches up to them, and it will. When I did pythagenport standings on Saturday for Baseball Rants, Arizona's win percentage was .360 according to their play so far. The Phillies slow start is more surprising, but I don't expect it to last.

For players, I'm concerned about Vernon Wells slow start; in fact I dumped him off my fantasy team because I am not going to wait around all season for him again. 2003 is starting to look like the outlier (kind of like Renteria). As far as quick starts to stick, I'll take Adam Dunn's .304/.435/.750 over whatever number Brian Roberts has found himself at today. By the way, Dunn has a fast start on strikeouts too, with 19 least he doesn't hit into double plays constantly, like a certain shortstop for Boston (I'm not bitter, ok!)

Denton from Surviving Grady

1) Not at all. I still the think the Sox and Yankees will finish 1-2 in the East with the Sox winning the division and the Yankees getting the wildcard. Sox pitching is better and deeper. Baltimore will outslug a bunch of teams for third but doesn't have the pitching to stay where they are now. Tampa Bay is young and improving, finishing fourth with Toronto in the basement.

2) I would have to say Wells is the biggest letdown. I thought his experience pitching in big games and hostile environments would make him a good Fenway/Boston pitcher.

I think Damon's and Varitek's hot starts have been a great surprise. For different reasons (Damon's off field distractions and Tek's big contract), I thought they'd start slower. And I mean that with no disrespect to Jason's work ethic, I just thought there might be a subconscious letdown.

3) Oakland's Harden is legit, though maybe not really a surprise. He will compete for the Cy Young this year. Same with Pedro in the NL.

For slow starts, I'd look towards Jaret Wright (maybe a moot point now that he's on the DL) and Zito as not having much potential to get a lot better. I think their slow starts are an accurate portrayal of what to expect.

Allan from Joy of Sox

1) Expectations are the same. I'm not sure we can spot any trends only 20-22 games in. The Orioles are playing much better (and playing the Yankees tougher) than I expected. While the Yankees started off last season at roughly the same pace they are at now, a significant part of that team could get old really quickly. And they'll have fewer options if their staff suffers the injuries we're dealing with this week.

2) I had originally written "no major disappointments, only minor gripes," but that was before Schilling and Wells went on the DL. Ugh. It's too early to say how long either of these guys will be out -- but they may both miss all of May. Wells threw poorly in three of his five starts and Schilling hasn't been consistent at all, so who knows -- maybe we can weather the storm
with Halama, Miller (when he returns) and a Pawtucket arm (Jeremi Gonzalez?).

I'm trying convince myself that:

(a) Foulke's struggles are temporary -- like his crappy 2004 spring training -- and hope he doesn't end up on the DL too; and

(b) It's not wise to get too bent out of shape -- it's still April and we've played only 21 games.

The minor gripes: Renteria's slow start, various base running gaffes, bullpen rustiness, having Mueller out for a week with Youkilis in Pawtucket.

Pleasant Surprises: Wakefield's excellent start (a league-leading 1.75 ERA), Ortiz's and Manny's mashing (which I expected, but is still nice to see), and the only MLB team with a perfect stolen base percentage (7-of-7!).

3) I haven't followed the rest of the league very much, so I'll skip this

Evan from Firebrand of the American League

1) not at all. i will say i picked the yankees to win the wild card officially on my site (orioles i privately said to friends were gonna be real good). the last 3 years ive picked them to crash and burn and the orioles to finish 2nd. the year i finally give up and give the yankees some credit of course i turn out to be right.

2) dissapointment ... i dont really have any ... and foulke is NOT a dissapointment because he'll be in lockdown mode eventually. so I would have to say its schilling not being healthy enough. Biggest surprise is Wakefield's hot start.

3) Orioles for fast start, they're for real. Brewers have had a slow start, don't think they'll last. Yankees are in crisis mode, I have a feeling they'll finish with ~85 wins. But the slow start bound to stick I would say is oakland. i said it once ill say it again: no offense.

Randy Booth from Over the Monster

1) My expectations haven't changed -- I still think the Sox will win 90+ games and win the East, but I think it's going to take awhile for this team to gel. With David Wells and Curt Schilling out for awhile, our rotation will be in pieces for a good couple of months until everyone is completely healthy and we have it all settled. I fully expect the bats, like Edgar Renteria, to come around and put up another great offensive season.

2) Biggest dissapointment so far has been Curt Schilling. He missed the first couple of weeks, then came back and was far less than impressive, and now is back on the DL. Biggest pleasant surprise has been Mike Timlin's hot start to the season. I figured his age this season would become a factor, but not for the first month of the season.

3) I think the Dodgers as a team have a really good team, and they'll perform well this season and make the playoffs. They won't stay as hot as they are now, but they'll definitely perform well. The White Sox as a team will start slipping at some point and, once again, lose to the Twins. Brian Roberts of Baltimore has started hot, but he won't keep it up. .270 batting average and 15 home runs is probably all for him.

Frawst, a friend and respected baseball fan over at Livejournal

1) Early impression is that it's going to be much tighter than normal. All predictions going into the season took it for granted that player decline is a gradual process. But that's simply not true. Sometimes it's the cliff. Steroids or no Giambi cliffed, Kevin Brown has cliffed. If not for the Superhuman efforts of Jeter and Posada where would the Yankees be? In general I think things will end up much as we all thought they would before the season, but without the large gap between 2-3 and without the Wildcard coming from the East. My expectations are lowerd for the Sox because my expectations came with the explicit proviso that they stay healthy. They haven't already, and this Schilling relapse is worse than they're saying. Without arms they're not hanging in all year.

And Brian Roberts had best pray that the Devil doesn;t come to collect early.

2) It has to be Edgar Renteria. Foulke and Embree's scuffling will turn around to at least some extent. And there hasn't really been another big disappointment.

There's no such thing as 'clutch', but dear lord it seems like everytime Rent comes up with a duck on the pond he shoots him. I figure he'll still come around and give me the .280 15 70 I expect, but if he's doing while booting more balls than Fredy Adu what price glory?

Pleasent surprise? 1995 Vintage Timmy Wakefield. Without a doubt. You have to root for the guy, but it's much easier when the Devil is Dancin'

3)Joe Randa could easily maintain this start as a swan song. Troy Glaus likey the BOB, and he can keep it going. The D-Backs can contend in the Hot Potato NL West (YOU take it! NO YOU!) all year.

Kevin Brown is D-U-N done. It's too bad that a great career comes down to cratering in the Bronx.

Jeff Kuhn from The House that Dewey Built

1) My expectation of complete and total baseball domination has changed after a .500 month. It was probably an unrealistic expectation anyway.

The refreshing thing about the World Series win was that there was actually a reduced expectation. All off season, I wasn't worried about trivial things like Tito playing Pokey over Bellhorn, or if Soup Campbell's arm will hold up. We have a veteran team with very little variance with how they were going to be used.

Now that they have had some injuries and just aren't playing good baseball, my game by game expectations have changed from "We will win and destroy" to "It is unacceptable to be down four games to the Orioles, but we won the World Series. I enjoy beer with baseball." It's basically a look at how Jeff Kuhn lost his edge.

2) After spending two paragraphs on how I've been numbed to caring about such things, I'll use this space to tell you how much Renteria has pissed me off this year. I love Edgar Renteria, and I really think his defense is the best we've seen in Boston since Nomar's rookie year, but he's basically OC at the plate.

Last year, Cabrera would piss me off because he'd have a great at bat, 6-7 pitches and take a fastball to the opposite field for a single. Rest assured, the next time up, he's trying to crush everything eye high like he was a Pocket Ortiz.

I also can't rationally explain the Schilling situation without dropping a few c-bombs.

As far as surprises, Tim Wakefield should win this one going away. Every few years, he looks like he might put together one of those fun sub-3 ERA seasons he has in his arm. As bad as he looks when he struggles, he's a lot of fun to watch when he's pitching well.

3) Dodgers, because I really think DePodesta had one of the better off seasons in recent baseball history. And because I'm a contrarian to the mainstream ethos that exists that still kill DePodesta for the Mota/LoDuca trade.

Kansas City and Colorado are pretty much toast already, so it's no big stretch picking them to stay bad. Raul Mondesi has been bad enough to have been released…John Schuerholz should have known better.

Speaking of should have known better, Eric Milton is way too Eric Milton for the Reds. It's amazing what people would rather have than money.

Friday, April 29, 2005

More minor league updates

I usually do minor league updates on Monday night/Tuesday mornings, but since the big league club has a couple of days off and there has been a few things of note in the minors, I figured I'd give them a mention.

Wade Miller started for the Paw Sox last night and put up 5 pretty solid innings. He only struck out 3 and wasn't really overpowering, but he didn't allow a run. He'll likely only need one more start in Pawtucket before being able to take a turn in the Boston rotation in a week and a half. Looks like Jeremi Gonzalez, who the Sox apparently have decided on to start Tuesday's game, won't be in the majors long.

Miller's game was a 1-0 pitcher's duel. The only run of the game came off the bat of Kelly Shoppach, who is pounding the ball in Pawtucket. He's one of the few bright spots on a fairly mediocre AAA team. Last night was his 7th homer of the year to plate the only run in the game. His average is still a little low at .278, but compared to last year's .233 and put on the side of a .722 SLG it's not all that bad. If Jason Varitek or Doug Mirabelli go down with an injury I'd be happy to see Shoppach get a turn in Boston.

The Wilmington Blue Rocks lost their game on Tuesday, but it was more due to a lack of offense and a shoddy bullpen than the starter, Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez went 6 strong innings letting up 2 runs, only 1 earned. He struck out 7 while not walking a single batter bringing his k/bb ratio for the year to an eye popping 35/1. Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez are getting all the love, but Sanchez is quickly becoming my favorite Sox farm hand and I had never even heard of him until this spring. Hell, I've only seen him pitch once and that was a spring training game that I watched in a noisy bar. This guy is showing that he's capable of great things.

I've been going through some minor league stats lately and I was going to talk about a few early stand-outs, but it's getting to be past my bed time. So maybe I'll post about that before I head off to work.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Who steps in?

Call me a fool, but I actually believed that Curt Schilling's ankle was going to be perfectly fine this year. Well, it's not. Hopefully it's not a huge disaster. In the short term, the Red Sox won't miss Schilling. He hasn't exactly been keeping them in the game when he was on the mound. In the long term, if this turns out to be serious, the Red Sox are without an ace and could be in some trouble.

So what are the Red Sox options? The next four days are already planned out. Time Wakefield, Bronson Arroyo, and Matt Clement will take the mound for the series against the Rangers. John Halama will get his first start of the year on Monday taking the place of the injured David Wells. The problem now is who goes on Tuesday? Terry Francona has already ruled out the possibility of Wade Miller. Miller is nearly complete with his rehab assignment, but will not be ready for Tuesday. He did make his first rehab appearance on April 13th and has 30 days from that date before the Sox have to activate him from the DL. That means that the Red Sox will have to find a 5th starter for one start at the least, but two starts at the most. Miller may be able to make the start on May 8th, but even if he doesn't, he'll be ready to face the Mariners on May 13th. At the moment that is going to leave the Red Sox scrambling to find a starter for one or two starts. Who gets the ball?

Lenny Dinardo started a few games in Pawtucket and did an adequate job while he was down there. He could probably manage to go out there and not screw things up too badly for five innings before handing the ball to the bullpen. It wouldn't be an ideal situation, but losing the guys you thought were going to be the #1 and #2 starters isn't an ideal situation to begin with.

Last year when they needed an emergency start they called Abe Alvarez up from Portland to take the mound. Alvarez, clearly not ready, was blown out of the water, as most of us expected. This year Alvarez is another year old and another level closer to the bigs. He's not exactly lighting them up in AAA, but he's holding his own. Another couple of emergency starts wouldn't kill him. It might even teach him a thing or two.

If the Sox were willing to grab a kid from AA who clearly wasn't ready last year, why not do it again this year? Jon Papelbon impressed the Red Sox team with his performance and attitude in spring training this year and so far for Portland he's been pretty impressive striking out 18 without walking a batter in 3 games. He likely has the mental toughness where a thrashing at the big league level wouldn't scar him for life. It might not be fair to throw him to the wolves yet, but it is an option.

If the team plans on digging into their minor league system, but doesn't want a kid they could always go with Jeremi Gonzalez. The 30 year old Gonzalez has been solid in four starts so far in Pawtucket. He has experience as a big league starter in Tampa Bay and actually had a half way decent season in 2003 before taking a beating in 2004. He's the kind of guy that you put on the mound and hope that your offense scores 10 runs. But out of all the guys in the minors he has the least to lose.

With those four options being a bit on the underwhelming side, the team could decide to have their rotation go on short rest for one start as a last resort. Unfortunately the Red Sox don't have a day off until May 12th so there would be no rest for the starters. They'd each have to go out there on three days rest and hope that Miller is ready to come back strong a couple of days early.

If I had to choose, I'd probably go with Dinardo. He has more experience than Papelbon and Alvarez and he has more talent than Gonzalez. Bring Gonzalez up to work in the pen and back up Dinardo in case he can't cut it in his start. If Dinardo can go 5 and Gonzalez keeps the team in the game for 2 then the rest of the usual suspects can come on to close out the game. Just thinking about it makes me actually miss David Wells, but it's a pretty bad time for the Red Sox rotation right now. On the bright side at least the Yankees are as thinned out and desparate as the Red Sox are...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Should we worry?

There is no reason why the Red Sox should've lost tonight's game. At one point they were up 8-3 and it is absolutely inexcusable for them to lose the game 11-8. Matt Clement must have an evil twin brother. That's the only thing I can think of. The real Clement goes out and pitches 8 scoreless innings one week and the next, his twin takes the mound and gets shelled for 7 runs. Thanks to Manny Ramirez the game still should've been a win despite Clement's start but then Francona decided to go with Keith Foulke in the 8th. For some reason he went to the guy that has been struggling all year and went with him early. Foulke then proceeded to have his worst game so far this year letting up 4 runs thanks to two two run homers by Javy Lopez and Miguel Tejada. The loss falls squarly on the shoulders of Clement and Foulke tonight as the offense did their part.

It's obviously too early to worry about the season in general. This is a playoff team and they're in second place. A bad week is nothing to worry about when it comes to the team. But there are several components of the team that are a little bit worrisome so far....

Foulke. I couldn't tell you what's wrong with Keith Foulke this year. All I can tell you is that there is definately something wrong. He's walking guys, not striking enough out, and letting up the longball. He has a 7.20 ERA this year to go with his 1-3 record in 10 games. Tonight was his first official blown save, but he just hasn't had it all season long. He's had only 2 perfect innings in the 10 innings he's pitched so far. His performance so far is reminding me of how he performed in spring training last year, only this time it's counting. I'm not entirely worried yet. Ok, that's a lie. I'm trying to not be entirely worried about him yet. He should break out of this. He's better than this.

David Wells. The big guy has struggled in a few games this year and hasn't looked all that impressive. Well, we don't have to worry about which Wells will show up for his next start because Wells limped his way to the DL with a sprained foot. It really was only a matter of time before he collapsed under his weight. So now we can delay our worries about how Wells will pitch and focus our worries on the fact that John Halama has made his way into the rotation. Lenny Dinardo, coming off a solid 5 inning start in Pawtucket, has been called up to fill the roster.

Mark Bellhorn. I was a big fan of the guy last year and even believed that he would improve this year, but so far that has not happened. In the spring there were rumors that he was trying to cut down a little bit on his k's, but his k-rate has actually increased so far this year. He's striking out in 40% of his at bats this year compared to the 34% mark from last year. He's also walking less this year and still doesn't have a home run. He's swinging at bad pitches, something you didn't see at all last year and he's just plain being unproductive. A guy who strikes out as much as him is obviously going to go through cold streaks, but he really needs to turn it on soon. He wasn't the most popular guy in Red Sox Nation before and this isn't helping him. I still think he can turn his season around and be one of the most productive second basemen in the game, just like he was last year, but he needs to turn things around really quick.

Kevin Youkilis. It would've been really nice to have Youk on the bench when Bill Mueller went down with the flu. But, of course, the Sox thought that Dave McCarty is somehow more valuable and sent Youk to Pawtucket. The worst part about the whole thing is that Youk made management look smart by struggling pretty bad once he started to play every day. He's batting a whopping .182 so far in 33 at bats. I want to see this guy playing every day at the major league level, but first I want to see him prove that he can handle it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Minor League update

Pawtucket Red Sox (SYR 11/PAW 3, PAW 2/SYR 0, PAW 14/BUF 5, BUF 2/PAW 0, BUF 5/PAW 3)

The Paw Sox had another pretty sub-par week as they went 2-3 mostly thanks to their lackluster bats. With the exception of one very good 14 run game the offense managed only 8 runs combined in the other four games of the week. Kelly Shoppach was the only offensive standout for the Paw Sox last week as he lead the way for the team in that 14 run explosion hitting two home runs. He had a good week overall going 4-15 with 4 walks although he did strike out 4 times. Out of his 4 hits, 3 went for homers and 1 was a double.

Kevin Youkilis continues to struggle at AAA while playing mostly first base. He only drew one walk last week while going 5/18 at the plate. Three of his hits were doubles, but he's still looking very unimpressive. While Youk has been struggling at AAA, Bill Mueller has been sidelined by the flu. Youk really isn't making a case that he should be the one starting in Mueller's place.

Mark Malaska had a hot and cold week as he was shelled for 4 runs thanks to 3 walks and 4 hits in one game while only managing to get two outs. Three days later he earned the win in a game by going 3 scoreless innings in relief without allowing 1 baserunner and striking out 2.

Chris Naverson and Lenny Dinardo both had good starts this week while Abe Alvarez didn't look all that good. Naverson pitched 5 scoreless innings and struck out 2, but didn't get a win thanks to poor run support. Dinardo put up a similar line going 5 scoreless and striking out 2, but he allowed 5 hits and a walk as opposed to Naverson's 1 hit and 1 walk. Dinardo also failed to get a win when Pawtucket didn't manage to score any runs until the sixth inning. Alvarez also went 5 innings and only let up 5 hits without a walk, but the hits were strung together and Alvarez let up 3 runs. He also only managed to strike out 1.

Portland Red Sox(POR 5/BIN 4, BIN 6/POR 5, POR 5/HAR 4, HAR 4/POR 3)

Portland only managed to get in 4 games this week thanks to a rain out and then the next day's double header was snowed out. They had a 2-2 record in 4 one run games. The team is still riding strong on the backs of Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez with the help of their starters always keeping them in the game. Pedroia and Ramirez both actually had a subpar week. Pedroia struggled going 4-17, walking only once, and striking out 4 times. He had struck out only twice in his first 36 at bats. He also made his second error of his pro career. His week was pretty well split, however. He started the week off going hitless in his first two games at an 0 for 8 mark before having two two-hit games immediately afterwards. Ramirez had a very similar week going 0 for 7 before he also rattled off two two-hit games. He was 4-18 on the week and topped that off by getting caught stealing and making an error.

Brandon Moss continues to struggle as he went 4-16 on the week. His poor k/bb ratio continues as he struck out 4 times and walked only twice. His 18/4 k/bb ratio for the year is the main reason why he's struggling so much and is batting only .212.

Jared Sandberg is quickly making a case for himself that he'll never make it to the major leagues again. He is leading the team (and second in the league) with 5 homers, hitting his fifth last week. But he also went 3-15 last week dropping his average to .313 and made his 7th error. If he was solid in the field his bat might make him useful someday, but if he can't catch the ball he won't have the numbers to justify a spot as a major league DH. He has already struck out 19 times and his power numbers are a lot less impressive when you take into consideration the fact that he's a 27 year old playing in AA.

Jon Papelbon didn't get a start last week, but Jon Lester impressed in his outing while Charlie Zink and Kason Gabbard managed to keep the team in the game despite struggling a little bit. Lester went 5 strong, striking out 6. He did walk 3, but only allowed 2 hits and 1 run. His 4.85 ERA on the year is unimpressive, but he has struck out 19 batters in 13 innings while walking only 4. Gabbard went to 3-0 on the year with a 5 inning performance. He allowed only 2 runs, but walked 4 and allowed 4 hits to go along with 4 strikeouts. He's one of only 4 guys in the Eastern league to go undefeated in his first 3 starts. Zink is a borderline prospect that can not afford to struggle, but he did last week when he walked 3, allowed 4 hits, and 3 runs in 5 innings. He did manage to strike out 6, but the team lost the game and his ERA went up to 3.94 for the year.

The Sea Dogs have had some great work out of the bullpen so far this year. Their closer, Cla Meredith, still hasn't been scored upon this year in 8 games. He's up to 7 saves so far this year and has struck out 7 without allowing a walk in 8.1 innings. Marc Deschenes, a 32 year old who still hasn't had a taste of the big leagues, has pitched in with 2 saves while allowing only 1 run in 8 innings. He's struck out 12 and walked 4. Talley Haines, another older guy at 27 who still hasn't been to the bigs, has thrown 10.1 innings, striking out 8 and only allowing 1 run. Phil Devey completes the trio of old guys impressing at AA. He's gone 10 innings with 11 k's while only walking 1 and still hasn't let up a run.

Wilmington Blue Rocks (KIN 4/WIL 0, WIL 5/KIN 0, FRE 6/WIL 4, FRE 9/WIL 8, WIL 5/FRE 4, FRE 2/WIL 1)

The week started off on a little bit of a sour note for the Blue Rocks as they were two-hit by 20 year old Indians' prospect Nick Pesco. Wilmington turned the tables the next day when 2004's fourth round pick, Tommy Hottovy took the mound and went 5 scoreless innings, striking out 7, allowing only 2 hits and a walk. Jose Vaquedano finished off the game with 4 shutout innings of his own that brought his season ERA down to 4.50 as he's working exclusively from the bullpen for the first time in his short career. The rest of the week didn't go very well as the Blue Rocks had four very close games, but lost three of them, and finished off the week at a 2-4 mark.

Anibal Sanchez had his first bad start of the year going only 4 innings and letting up 5 runs on 7 hits and a walk. He did keep up his amazing strikeout rate with 6 k's as opposed to his first walk of the year giving him a 28/1 k/bb ratio for the young 2005 season.

Ian Bladergroen continues to struggle with a 3/18 week at the plate. He struck out 8 times and is starting to show that the Red Sox really don't have any first base prospects in their system. It's still early and Bladergroen is showing patience by leading the team with 9 walks, but his .224/.350/.347 line in 49 at bats for the year isn't very impressive.

Chad Spann, a 21 year old who still hasn't made a name for himself, had a decent week belting 2 homers in one game and now leads the Blue Rocks with 3 home runs. The problem is that he also leads the team with 19 k's and has only a .241/.308/.431 line. At that rate he never will make a name for himself.

Best known for his glove and the fact that his name is Iggy, Iggy Suarez went 6/22 over the week, but didn't walk at all and his season long .288 OBP says that if he does go anywhere, he's going to have to use his glove to get there. At 23 he's a little bit old to expect him to ever develop a bat.

I still haven't talked about the Greenville Bombers, the Sox low-A affiliate, and I may keep it that way unless someone extraordinary starts to show himself. So far the team is 8-9 and while they have a few guys that seem to be doing fairly well, none of them actually jump off the page.


In general it was an ugly game. David Wells was ugly, the line-up was ugly, the defense was ugly, the baserunning was ugly, Jason Varitek's arm was ugly, Matt Mantei limping off the mound was ugly....Ugly just seems to be the word when the Sox lose a game. When they lose, they make sure that they look bad doing it.

Wells continued his Jeckle/Hyde impression getting bombed after two really good, encouraging starts. For a guy that has been so consistant over the course of his career, he has been anything but that this season. He didn't even make it out of the fourth inning tonight. I still maintain that it was a better idea to bring in Wells than bring back Derek Lowe, but so far it doesn't look like it. The worst part is that Wells limped off the mound after the mear thought of going after a soft hit ball and it's strained his right foot. The seriousness of the injury is still unclear.

I can understand wanting to give Manny Ramirez a night off from fielding the ball. And I can even almost see wanting to get David Ortiz a little time in at first to keep him sharp for interleague play. What I can't see is why you'd do both of those things in the same game and stick Kevin Millar into the outfield. Put Manny at DH when the team goes up against a righty so that Jay Payton can move into left for the night. And if Ortiz is going to play the field, just give Millar the night off. Why would Franconna comprimise two defensive posistions in one game?

I was hoping that the Yanks inherited the 2004 Red Sox inability to beat the Orioles and it looked like they had when New York dropped 5 of their first 6 games against Baltimore. And it almost started to look like the Red Sox weren't going to take that crap anymore with a two game sweep in Baltimore. But after last night's game? Who knows. The Sox have lost 3 out of their last 4 to two teams that they should be knocking around. There's not much positives that can be said about their recent play.

Monday, April 25, 2005

a few random notes

- Updated the Cy Young and MVP sidebar. Brian Roberts is still the man despite a slow week and Jamie Moyer has been surprising everyone now that he has aparently forgotten all about last year and has gone right back to his 20 game winning ways.

- There was one major snub that was pointed out to me in last week's Cy Young race and it has been corrected this week. Rich Harden has only started three games so far this season, but in those three he has only allowed one run. If the A's ever figure out how to score a run or two they're going to be a dangerous team.

- David Ortiz didn't just hit three home runs in Tampa Bay. He hit three HOME RUNS. He wasn't fooling around with any of those three. One was about 430 to right-center. One was over 450 to right and nearly hit the back of the stadium. I didn't hear a measurement for the one he hit on Sunday, but it was another hell of a shot. That guy is not fooling around.

- Good news has been slim for Edgar Renteria, but there is one bright spot in his season so far. The guy loves Fenway park. His .209/.277/.209 line as a visitor is pretty pathetic and not what the Red Sox are paying $10 million a year for. His line at Fenway, however, is a little bit better. Every one of his extra base hits (3 doubles, 2 homers, and a triple) have come at home and he has a .281/.303/.625 line.

- It's funny in a kinda sad sort of way that I get a lot of hits to my site thanks to mispelled words. People will put a funky spelling into google or another search bar and they'll come to my site because I also spelled the word wrong. I always forget about the spell check, but I'm really going to have to make an effort to remember.

- Speaking of mistakes, the sidebar shows up fine on my computer. But I've noticed when I check on someone else's computer it can be a little screwed up. How does it look to everyone? Does anyone know how I can fix how it shows up other than asking everyone to maximize their browser?

- Still haven't had much time to catch up with the baseball world and I'm still on vacation schedule. No staying up til 4am for me tonight, I'm about to crash.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Back from Camden

Baltimore has one hell of a stadium, but that's about all they have going for them. The city itself was a mugging waiting to happen, we all know about the team and their hopes for third place, and I think I might have came across three actual Orioles fans.

The stadium was beautiful. I've always heard that you can't make a case for keeping Fenway if you haven't seen what a modern stadium is like. I've always been a supporter of keeping Fenway, but seeing Camden definately tipped my scales in the other direction. The seating was great. Plenty or room and there wasn't a single concrete beam blocking a seat in the place. The whole thing was just really nice to look at and I'd make another trip to see a ballgame there any time. Even the surrounding area was nice. The Inner Harbor area, a couple of blocks from the stadium, is a really nice place filled with tons of stuff to do. There are museums, stores, restaraunts, bars, and boat rentals all surrounding the harbor. The rest of the city? Well, if you visit, don't go out alone. We apparently stayed in the really nice section of the city. That basically meant that the drug dealers and muggers had the courtisy to wait until dark before doing their business unlike the rest of the city which was really sketchy 24/7. I now believe it when I hear that Baltimore/DC has the highest crime rate in the nation.

I almost felt bad for the Orioles. Almost. No matter what way you looked in Baltimore, you'd see a Red Sox fan. I think I might have seen three Oriole hats the entire time I was there, but the Sox hats were too numerous to count. I couldn't imagine what it would be like if I went to Fenway and heard an Orioles chant. But sure enough the "LET'S GO RED SOX" chants were louder than anything the O's fans could get going. It had to be at least 60% Sox fans, 20% O's fans, and 20% people who didn't know what the hell was going on. Even if you were able to find an Oriole's fan you couldn't even give tickets away to them. We had a couple extra tickets that a Baltimore friend of ours tried to unload and she couldn't even give them away. Do you realize that if you get a value meal at a Wendy's in Baltimore, they give you a free Orioles ticket??? The city has a brand new, beautiful stadium and they can't even get a decent showing at a game.

I never thought a trip centered around baseball would leave me so far behind in the baseball happenings. I saw the games on Wednesday and Thursday, but I haven't been able to post here, haven't been able to surf the web for baseball news, and the only way I knew what was going on was with the box scores in the paper the next day. So it's going to take me a few days to catch up here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Off to Baltimore

In 6 hours I'll be landing in Baltimore and 24 hours after that I'll be attending my first baseball game that didn't take place in Fenway or Yankee Stadium. I've never seen a modern park before. If things stay the way they are I'm on pace to see the two new guys, Matt Clement and David Wells on Wednesday and Thursday.

I probably won't get a chance to post here until I get back on Saturday, but when I am back I'll probably have some pictures and a better perspective on the old Fenway vs. new Fenway debate.

Edited to add - The Sox have reached an agreement with Time Wakefield that could make him a Red Sox until the end of his career. The terms of the deal still haven't been released, but Wakefield is guaranteed a deal in 2006 and the club has an option every year after that. As long as they keep excercising their option, they will have an option for the next year. So, in other words, until Wakefield decides that he's done with baseball, the Sox can hold on to him. Wake's been with the franchise for a very long time and I'm glad that he'll be around for a little while longer.

Minor League update

Pawtucket Red Sox (PAW 5/LOU 1, PAW 6/LOU 0, LOU 1/PAW 0, PAW 4/BUF 3, BUF 10/PAW 3, PAW 9/BUF 4, BUF 5/PAW 4)

The Paw Sox went winless in their first week, but managed to improve a little bit this week going 4-3. The pitching and offense have both been average which is what one would expect with a near .500 winning percentage.

Kevin Youkilis, a man who is not happy to be in the minors, has struggled so far going 1-15 with only a triple and 4 walks in his first three games at third for the Paw Sox. He has struck out three times and his cold start can more than likely be attributed to a little bad luck and a little bit of being cold from not playing in a little while.

Justin Sherrod has cooled off after a hot first week and is now playing like the sub-par player that he is. He struck out 11 times in the last week and his 2/6 k/bb ratio after one week is now a very unimpressive 13/7. His average dropped 91 points to a .273 mark.

Kelly Shoppach has also struggling. He hit a home run this week, but his average also dropped to .273, a drop of over 100 points.

The offense is still struggling as a whole with only Alejandro Machado and Mike Lockwood hitting over .300. Machado is only 23 and is already a journeyman working on his fifth organization. That says a little bit about him right there. The Sox traded for him over the winter. According to Baseball America, who ranked him the 21st best prospect in the Nationals system before he was traded to the Sox, Machado draws a decent amount of walks, has no pop in his bat, and his speed is average although he is intelligent on the basepaths. He has good range at short or second and an average arm. If he ever manages to make it to the majors in his career his likely role will be that of a utility player. So far this season he is 11 for 34, but has yet to draw a walk. Lockwood is a 27 year old in his second year in the Sox organization after being drafted by Oakland in 1999. He has a .364 OBP in 6 minor league years so he does get on base at a solid rate, but he doesn't have a future in the majors. Used in reserve in Pawtucket this year he is 7-18 with 2 homers and a .389 avg.

George Lombard, a 30 year old who has major league experience in ATL, DET, and TB has struggled the most so far this year batting a meager .154 with an eyepopping 19 k's in 39 at bats. He's walked 8 times, but his numbers are pretty pathetic and won't have a job in baseball soon if he keeps it up.

On the pitching side for the Sox, Abe Alvarez has took the mound twice in the last week giving solid performances both times. He went six shutout innings in his first start allowing only 4 hits and no walks while striking out 2. His second start wasn't as impressive going 5.2 innings allowing 3 earned runs on 5 hits, no walks, and 6 k's. So far in 3 games Alvarez has struck out 10 while only walking 2 and has a 1-0 record to go with a 4.60 ERA.

Former Blue Jay, 28 year old Scott Cassidy had a good game in relief going 4 scoreless innings allowing only 1 hit and 2 walks with 6 k's. He has 2 wins so far this year in the long relief role to go along with a 4.82 ERA

Chris Naverson, the young pitcher who came over for Byung-Hyun Kim has been mediocre so far in 2 games (1 start) and 4.1 innings. He's allowed 4 h, 3 bb, 3 runs, and has struck out 3. Still, he's doing better than Kim is in Colorado!

Lenny Dinardo had a decent start going 5 innings letting up only 1 er on 1 h and 2 bb while striking out only 1.

Mark Malaska was the third pitcher of the night in a 10-3 loss to Buffalo. Former Blue Jay Jason Kershner got hammered by the Bisons letting up 8 runs in 3.1 innings, but Malaska came on to pitch the final 3 innings of the game allowing only one hit and striking out 3.

The Paw Sox have been unimpressive so far and there are few prospects worth talking about. It will likely be that way all year unless the Sox decide to move up some of the many impressive guys on the AA squad sometime during the year.

Portland Red Sox (POR 6/NB 4, POR 8/TRE 4, POR 7/TRE 4, POR 5/TRE 1, POR 11/TRE 6, BIN 3/POR 1)

The Portland Sea Dogs are on fire starting the year 10-1 after losing their first game on Monday as the Binghamton Mets somehow managed to hold the stellar Portland offense to one run. The Red Sox AA team is expected to be full of excitement this year as many of the organization's top prospects are on the team. So far they have no dissapointed.

The top offense in the Eastern League has been led by Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Jared Sandberg, and semi-prospect/slugger Jeremy West. Pedroia is riding a 7 game hitting streak and has reached base in all 10 games that he's played in. Last week he went 9-20 with five walks and four doubles. He's hitting .417 so far this year. Ramirez's .348 avg so far this season almost looks pale in comparison. Ramirez went 8-25 last week with 7 RBI's and 2 triples. Sandberg leads the team with 4 homers on the year while batting .333, usually in the clean-up spot. West is off to a surprisingly well start hitting .421 so far this year. He went 11-25 last week striking out only once but also walking only once. Sandberg is the only one of the group to not get excited over. At 28 he's far too old to be wasting away in AA. He's always had decent power, but he has already proven that he strikes out far too often to be effective at the major league level.

The team's usually leadoff hitter, Christ Durbin, hasn't made a blip on the prospect radar but he's off to a .351/.400/.649 start.

The only dark spot on the Sea Dog offensive unit has been Brandon Moss who has been doing his best to justify the fears of many Sox fans who believe that last year was a fluke. So far he is batting .194 for the year and leads the team with 14 k's. It's still early in the season, but many believed that the breakout season for the #2 prospect in the Sox system was done with smoke and mirrors. So far that appears to be true.

The pitching for the Sea Dogs has been nearly as good as the offense. The ace of the staff, Jon Papelbon, went twice last week and despite the fact that he earned the team's first loss he was fairly impressive in both of his starts. In his first he went 5 innings without walking a batter and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits while striking out 2. In his second start he had a little problem with the longball as he let up 2 homers that resulted in 3 runs on 5 hits. But for the second start in a row he didn't walk a batter and on his second start he managed to strike out 9.

Jon Lester (4 IP/7 h/0 er/3 bb/6k) and Kason Gabbard (7 IP/2 h/1 er/1 bb/4 k) both pitched very well for the team last week. Lester didn't last very long and did get into a lot of trouble, but worked his way out every time and didn't allow a run. Gabbard, an unknown with a long injury history entering the season, has performed very well in both of his starts this year and leads the Sea Dog starters with a 0.64 ERA.

Charlie Zink (5ip/6h/4er/0bb/1k) and Dave Pauley (5ip/8h/3r/0er/1bb/2k) both struggled a little bit, but kept the team in the game. Zink served up 3 home runs in his start to allow 4 runs despite his impressive control and only 3 non-homer hits. Pauley allowed 3 runs, but none of them were earned thanks to a Jared Sandberg throwing error that should have ended the inning. Sandberg leads the Sea Dogs with 4 errors so far this season.

The Sea Dogs have also had a lot of support form the back end of their bullpen as their closer, Cla Meredith, hasn't allowed a run in 6.1 innings this season. He's pitched in 6 games and has 6 saves. He still hasn't walked a batter and has allowed only one hit so far.

Wilmington Blue Rocks (WIL 7/KIN 4, KIN 9/WIL 1, WIL 6/SAL 2, WIL 2/SAL 0, SAL 2/WIL 1, WIL 4/KIN 2)

The Blue Rocks had a good week with a 4-2 record and are 6-5 overall for the year, good enough for second in the Carolina North division. As a whole the team offense is struggling batting .231 and scoring only 44 runs in 11 games. The team has only hit three home runs. The pitching has been a little bit better as they lead the league in strikeouts with 95, but their 3.95 ERA is towards the higher end of the pack.

Ian Bladergroen, the first baseman who came over for Doug Mientkiewicz, has struggled so far this season hitting .258 with only two extra base hits. Although he does lead the team with 7 RBI. While I do agree that Mientkiewicz was the obvious choice for the Sox to ship out, I don't like the trade. If the Sox were able to get a major league arm like Blaine Neal (who has admittedly struggled, but that's not the point) for a AAAA guy like Adam Hyzdu then how did they get stuck with a borderline prospect like Bladergroen for a great fielding first baseman?

The only bright spots for Wilmington's bats so far have been the usual all-glove, no-bat shortstop, Zach Borowiak and Scott White, a 21 year old third baseman with power potential. Borowiak has hit .371 so far with 5 doubles and a triple, but still hasn't walked this year and hasn't displayed much of his speed going 1/2 in stolen base attempts. White has a .350/.422/.450 line to start the season, but hasn't had any of his power as he only has 4 doubles and no homers. He also has been spending a lot of time at DH with Chad Spann getting a lot of time at third.

The only story on the mound for the Blue Rocks so far has been Anibal Sanchez. Despite only pitching 10 innings so far this year Sanchez has opened a lot of eyes around the country with his 22/0 k/bb ratio. He has allowed only 1 run and 4 hits in his 2 starts and so far is looking very good.

on a roll

Thanks to an ugly 12-7 victory over Toronto the Sox have moved into a tie for first place for the first time this year. That's five in a row for the Sox. Curt Schilling and Manny Ramirez both had mixed results on the day. Schilling pitched to his first win of the year while striking out 10. He didn't exactly look impressive though as he gave up 10 hits and 5 runs. His day would've been a lot easier had Manny be able to give him a little defensive help. Manny lost two balls in the sun (only one of them was called an error, but both were horrible plays) on back to back plays causing 2 of the runs that Schilling let up to be unearned. On the flip side of things, Manny hit 2 homers. One was absolutely crushed over everything in left. Manny has homered 4 times in the last three games and has seriously hit his stride this season. He also walked twice and knocked in 5. Johnny Damon and Trot Nixon were able to get on base in front of Manny today. Damon had 3 hits while Trot had 2. Both knocked in 2 runs and scored 3 runs between them. Damon also hit a ball deep to the warning track to right in his first at bat but Alex Rios tracked it down.

In the same day the Yankees CRUSHED the D-Rays 19-8 after Georgie's pep talk to the team. While it is kind of impressive to score 19 runs against any team, it is pretty embarrassing for your new free agent pitcher to give up 8 against the Devil Rays.

Look for a minor league update to come sometime in the next 12 hours.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Quick starts

I updated the MVP and Cy Young race portions of the site and so far it looks a little like this...

  • Roberts .449/.534/.896/15/5/14/6

  • Tejada .375/.436/.614/8/3/18/0

  • Ichiro .447/.500/.596/12/1/4/6

  • Young .362/.423/.660/10/3/11/0

  • Ortiz .295/.360/.614/8/3/11/0

  • Matsui .327/.358/.571/6/3/12/0

  • Jeter .326/.456/.457/11/1/4/2

  • Konerko .233/.298/.674/7/6/11/0

  • Buehrle 2-1/24/12/6/19/2.25

  • Halladay 2-0/22/21/8/2/18/3.27

  • Lopez 2-0/20.1/20/6/7/17/2.66

  • Santana 3-0/18/18/8/2/27/4.00

  • Moyer 2-0/18/21/5/5/13/2.50

  • Bonderman 2-1/21/19/9/5/16/3.86

  • Clement 1-0/17.1/18/6/10/16/3.12

  • Johnson 1-0/19/18/10/5/19/4.74

  • There are a lot of guys in the league off to some unexpected quick starts and I said last week that I wouldn't include a guy in the MVP or Cy Young race if I didn't think he could maintain it all year. So why did I include Brian Roberts? Do I think he'll be able to win the MVP award this year? No. But he's just doing so good that I had to include him. And I think that while he won't keep up at the pace he's at now, he will surprise some people this year.

    Here's a look at some guys that are out to quick starts and how I expect them to do this year.

    Brian Roberts - He's already tied his career high homer total with five and we're only 12 games into the season. He's on pace for 81 steals and 67 homers to go along with his .449/.534/.898 line. Obviously the guy is going to regress, but I think he's going to be very solid this year. Many prospects have their power potential judged by the number of doubles they hit. The logic is that as a player matures and grows into his body he'll start getting the extra pop needed to smack those balls off the walls a little harder and put them into the seats. Roberts hit 51 doubles last year. At 27 years old and with 5 years of major league playing under his belt I'm not suggesting that Roberts is a prospect. But it's not too hard to believe that maybe he made an adjustment to his swing or hit the weight rooms a little bit harder this year. He's not going to stay among the league leaders in home runs, but I do think that he might have another 15-20 homers left in him this year. He could end up with 25 homers and 40 steals this year to go along with a near .300 average.

    Gustavo Chacin - I'm just excited that I finally learned how to pronounce the guy's name. This 24 year old rookie has had mixed success in the minors, but is considered to be a prospect with a decent shot to make it in the bigs. Apparently last year he added a cut fastball to his repetoire of pitches and then went on a tear for Toronto's AA team. After a few failures at AA, Chacin had good numbers in AA, AAA, and in two major league starts. His first game this year against Tampa Bay might have been a fluke. His second start against a struggling Oakland line up wasn't as impressive as his first, but it was still a decent outing. His third start of the year was his best so far and it was against a strong hitting Texas club. Two of the three runs he's let up this year have been on solo shots and he's walked only 4 batters in 19 innings. It's tough to tell after only three starts, but Chacin seems to be the real deal. He's become an early favorite for the AL ROY and I know I've added him to my fantasy team.

    Pat Burrell - Burrell's stats pop out at you because he's already managed to rack up 17 RBIs. He's been pretty hot this year, but obviously you can't judge a guy by the number of RBIs he's had. His .354/.400/.667 line is very impressive, but it's bound to drop significantly. With that said, Burrell could still manage a hell of a year in 2005. It was only a few years ago that he was a legitimate slugger. His struggles during the last couple of years have been blamed on everything from injuries to an unhappy clubhouse, but with the way he's playing so far this year it's obvious that his wrist is feeling 100%. The average will drop back to a more Burrell like .280 but he could easily hit 30 homers with 120 RBIs this year.

    A.J. Burnett - The only thing holding this guy back is the injury risk. Tommy John surgery before last year eliminated all but four starts of the season for BUrnett. In 2005 he looks stronger than ever. Two out of his last three starts have been complete games and neither of them have been all that taxing on the arm. One was only 103 pitchers and the other was 105. As long as his arm holds up, and there's no reason why it shouldn't, the guy might be in the running for a Cy Young this year.

    Jason Lane - Lane has been waiting for years to get a shot at a starting job and he's making the best of it so far batting .326 with 4 homers after only 11 games. The guy is for real and now that he has a starting job he is going to produce this year. The average will drop a little bit, but the power should stay. A .280 average with 25 homers this year is within his reach. The only problem with Lane so far this year is that he hasn't drawn a single walk and that could easily come back to bite him in the ass. His OBP is actually lower than his AVG so far on the season. He's had moderate patience in his career so he could just be trying to be too agressive to prove that he is worth the starting job. Once he settles in his walk numbers should go up.

    Mike Hampton - Hampton has started the year off with three very good starts, but he's continuing a trend that he had last year. He doesn't strike out anyone. He's struck out only 5 batters this year. That kind of non-dominant stuff has a way of catching up with a starter. He might be able to get away with it for a little while, but he certainly won't have a sub-2.00 ERA by the end of the year. He'll be lucky to have a sub-4.50 ERA. To quote Baseball Prospectus Hampton is "a fifth starter with #2 name recognition".

    Clint Barmes - At the age of 25 Barmes had a breakout year in AAA in 2004. He has doubles power and manages to get the bat onto the ball, but he doesn't walk very often. A solid, but average season can be expected out of the guy. He's not going to stay amongst the league leaders in home runs like he is now, but he could approach 20 if everything falls his way. He's not going to be a superstar though.

    Tim Wakefield - The one thing Sox fans know about Tim Wakefield is that you never know about Tim Wakefield. The knuckleball is the most unpredictable pitch out there. Some games (hell, some seasons!) the guy can look like the ace of the staff while others he gets hammered pretty hard. You never know what to expect. So far this year Wakefield's three starts have come against two teams that he's always seemed to have success against; the Yanks and the Devil Rays. So maybe that's why he's started off so good. Or maybe he really is in line for one of his good years. Or maybe the moisture in the air caused the knuckler to knuckle a little more. You never know with this guy.

    Joe Randa - Maybe the change in scenery has really helped him? Maybe now that he was able to escape Kansas City he'll turn into one of the game's best sluggers? Nah. Joe Randa is 35 years old and got off to a hot start. This is the guy that has always been so sickenly average. He'll get on base just enough to not suck. He'll have just enough extra base hits. He'll play an average defense. He's just...vanilla. He'll hit 10-15 homers this year even with the 4 he has already. He'll even manage to come within 20 points of .300. It seems like he always does. But he's not anything spectacular out there. He never has been.

    Sunday, April 17, 2005

    Manny 6/Tampa Bay 2

    We've waited ten games for this and finally it happened. Manny Ramirez broke out. Manny homered twice and knocked in all 6 runs as the Sox beat the Rays 6-2. Both were line drive shots over the monster, the first clearing everything and the second, a grand slam, landing in the stands. It's good to see Manny being Manny. Matt Clement pitched essentially the same game that he's been pitching so far this year only this time he pitched it against the Devil Rays. He threw a lot of pitches and got deep into the count. I wasn't counting, but it seemed like he had a lot of full counts. The difference is that he has the stuff to make bad hitters look bad. And TB has quite a few bad hitters. He went 7 for his longest and best outing of the year to get his first win.

    The Yankees, meanwhile, have fallen to 4-7. It's their worst start in quite a while. That's always good to see.

    Can you think of a weirder way to end a game? Rich Harden and Jarrod Washburn both pitched one hell of a game keeping it scoreless through 8 before the bullpens took over. In the bottom of the tenth Nick Swisher scored from first...on a bunt. The beauty of baseball is that no matter how many games are played, you never see the same game twice and you still haven't seen everything.

    Saturday, April 16, 2005

    10-0 has a nice ring to it

    This is the way it's supposed to be. Trade blows with the Yanks then beat down the lesser teams. Things looked good all the way around against the D-Rays tonight. The club took advantage of some wild TB pitching to get on base 7 times via the walk. Edgar Renteria is starting to come around with some extra base hits and nice plays in the field. John Halama and Matt Mantei combined for two innings only letting up one hit and no runs between the two of them. And best of all, David Wells pitched a beauty.

    On a somewhat scary note, Mark Bellhorn has played in ten games so far this year. He has exactly as many walks as he has games without a K. Three. And in all seven games that he's struck out, he's struck out at least twice. I don't mind the K's when he's walking his way around the bases, but if he doesn't make it to first then his strikeouts become a problem. Will he struggle this year as many people think that he will? I hope not. He did have a good game tonight. It's far too early to give up on the guy, of course, but he's someone that many in Red Sox Nation aren't stat-savy enough to like in the first place.

    Friday, April 15, 2005

    catching up with two games, a demotion, and a rehab start

    So we lost the game we should have won and won the game we should have lost. Curt Schilling looked good at first, but just didn't have it all working for him in the later innings. That's pretty much why I thought he should have had another start in the minors. But he didn't do all that bad and I'm sure everything will be ok with him for the remainder of the season. What did surprise me is how quiet Jaret Wright kept the bats. The Sox should've knocked that guy all over the place. The Sox did end up knocking Randy Johnson though. And it's a good thing because Bronson Arroyo pitched like shit. Keith Foulke also didn't look very good. I'm starting to worry about him. It's still early, but he's struggled in nearly every appearence so far.

    As for the Gary Sheffield incident...well, the fan was a complete moron, Sheffield reacted in the same way anyone would have when he believes he's attacked, and let's just leave it at that.

    To make room for Schilling on the roster, Kevin Youkilis was sent down. I don't agree with this. I've already stated that I'm a pretty big fan of Youkilis and I want to see him get a lot of at bats this year. Youkilis has already said it himself...he's not a kid anymore. He doesn't have all that much to learn in the minors. What he still has to learn, he will learn in the big leagues. Sure, it'll be nice for him to get to play every day, but with a little manuevering he could be getting a lot of at bats in the bigs. The first comment made to this article does make a good point though. I agree with what the poster said about how 12 pitchers is too many for any team to carry. But the commenter made a lot of sense. Right now the Sox are just looking to see what they have. They want to take a good look at the 12 pitchers on the roster to see who will be around come October. And I also agree with the point that he makes about the bench. The Red Sox won't be using very many bench players because they have a very solid starting 9 and there's no need to bring in replacements on most nights. So a four man bench is adequate. The point remains, however, that Youk deserves a spot on the club.

    Wade Miller made his first rehab start earlier in the week. He went 4.2 innings giving up 2 ER on 1 BB and 4 H. Not bad for a guy pitching for the first time since last year. It was only against A level hitters, but it is a good sign. And now that he's made his first rehab start he'll be with the big league club in less than 30 days.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Schilling goes tonight

    In a game that could set the tone for the rest of the season, Curt Schilling takes the mound. If Schilling pitches the way he can, all will be well in Red Sox Nation. If he pitches the way he did last week for the Pawtucket Red Sox, those who are already in a panic after a 3-4 start will be jumping off bridges. Schilling says that he feels good and says that he is ready. He wasn't happy with the final results of his minor league game, but he was happy with the way he felt. Personally I would like to see him go one more start for the Paw Sox just to make sure that he really is ok before pitching in a game that counts. But I think he'll do ok tonight.

    There is even more good news about the game tonight besides the fact that Schilling is starting. The weather looks decent, although a bit cold for a ballgame, after a questionable forecast earlier in the week. The best news though is that Jaret Wright takes the mound for the Yankees. Wright was shelled in his first outing of the year and many, including myself, are expecting a lot of the same all year. By the end of the year the Yankees will see that they made a huge mistake and that Wright was a one year wonder.

    Game starts tonight at 7. I'll be following it from work.

    As for the whole jersey contraversy that Harold Reynolds and John Kruk made're kidding me, right? The baseball season is in full swing! You guys don't have to make up stories to keep busy. There was no issue during the ceramony. Derek Lowe and Dave Roberts wearing a Red Sox jersey for the ring ceramony is not, in any shape or form, an issue.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Minor league week in review

    I hope to give a run down of how the Red Sox farm teams are doing on a weekly basis. This week, while I'm still getting into the swing of things, I'm just going to touch on the top two levels while leaving both A level clubs alone.

    You think things are tough for the major league club? The Paw Sox are off to an 0-5 start this year and are the only winless team in the International League. (LOU 8/PAW 1, IND 7/PAW 6, IND 7/PAW 4, IND 7/PAW 6, and IND 7/PAW 5) Kelly Shoppach is off to a hot start already with 2 homers and a .385 avg in 13 at bats. Right fielder Justin Sherrod, a 27 year old with little in the way of a future, but with a little pop, is the only other Paw Sox player with an average over .300 as he started the year batting .364. He also leads the team with six walks. The pitching has also pretty bad. The season started off with Curt Schilling getting hammered. Lenny Dinardo (4.1 IP w/ 5 K's and 4 ER on 3 H and 2 BB), Jeremi Gonzalez (6 IP w/ 2 K's and 4 ER on 9 H and 1 BB), Abe Alvarez (4 IP w/ 2 K's and 5 ER on 4 H and 2 BB), and John Stephens (6 IP w/ 4 K's and 4 ER on 6 H and 1 BB) also contributed to the teams record with poor starts.

    The Portland Sea Dogs, on the other hand, are a perfect 5-0 this year. (POR 1/NB 0, POR 8/NOR 0, POR 7/NOR 4, POR 7/NOR 3, POR 4/NOR 2) Former Devil Ray and nephew of Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg, Jared Sandberg is leading the way for the offense with 17 total bases already to go along with a .467 avg. Double play combo and prospect duo extraordinaires Dustin Pedroia (.385/.500/.615 w/ 4 R, 4 RBI, 1 HR, and 1 SB) and Hanley Ramirez (.353/.353/.471 w/ 6 R, 2 RBI, and 2 SB) are both off to good starts. Although Pedroia has already made his first error as a pro. The only dissapointment so far has been the .182/.250/.273 showing so far by Brandon Moss. The rotation has performed well for the most part. Kason Gabbard (7 IP w/ 0 K and 0 ER on 3 H and 2 BB), Jon Papelbon (6 IP w/ 7 K and 2 ER on 5 H and 0 BB), and Charlie Zink (6 IP w/ 2 K and 0 ER on 4 H and 0 BB) all pitched fantastic games for the Sea Dogs to get the win. Dave Pauley (5 IP w/ 5 K and 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB) and Jon Lester (4 IP w/ 7 K and 3 ER on 5 H and 1 BB) both pitched well enough to keep the team in the game.

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    Week in review

    In the first full week of competition the Red Sox have gone 2-4. They've scored the fewest amount of runs in the AL East while allowing the most. They've made a dramatic 9th inning comeback twice only to lose in the bottom of the inning both times. The bullpen has been awful. The Yankees beat them. The Blue Jays humiliated them. All in all it has been one of the worst ways that the Sox could've started off the season. The team has given us plenty to worry about so far. But should we remain worried? Instead of talking about the individual games, let's take a look at the players.

    Should we worry about....

    Manny Ramirez? Only the hardcore worriers in the audience have given Manny a second thought. The guy can hit. There is no question about that. He's batting .200 and his only extra base hit has been a double, but for Manny, it's only a matter of time. He's going to put up MVP caliber numbers this year. When he gets hot he will be scorching the ball.

    Edgar Renteria? If I hear one person say that Orlando Cabrera is a better player than Edgar, I will physically beat that person. I will admit that I thought the Sox should've just re-signed Cabrera, but Renteria is a better player in nearly every aspect of the game. Renteria will come around. He's a much better player than the guy we've seen at short the last week. He's a fairly good hitter and a good defender. At the end of the season he'll have had a respectable season in Boston. And that Orlando guy that you love so much? Take a look at him. He's batting .158 out in Anaheim.

    Mark Bellhorn? He's struck out 11 times?! Wow, that's just nuts, right? Sure. But that's what we're expecting from the guy. He's going to break strikeout records this year, but he's still going to remain a productive player. Chances are if you didn't see his value last year, you won't see it this year. So you're just going to have to trust me that he's a good player to have on the team.

    David Wells? I'd love to say that there's nothing to worry about. I'd love to look back on his career to see how consistent that he's been and to see how he's a much better pitcher than the guy that's been blown away in two starts so far. I'd love to say that I'm not worried. But I am. I was never completely confident in the signing, but I was hoping it'd turn out to be a good one. So far it hasn't. Looking at the spring he had and the two starts he's had I don't know if I see things getting better. The good news is that he settled down in the second half of the game against the Jays. The bad news is he had already let up back to back to back homers. I'm worried about Wells. But look at the bright side. Once the season is all said and done he can't possibly be worse than Derek Lowe.

    Matt Clement? If it were an official statistic I'm sure Clement would be leading the league in jams. He's had baserunners all over the place. The control that he showed in spring is completely gone. He's hitting batters and handing out free passes left and right. He's throwing 100 pitches and not making it out of the 6th. The good news is that so far he's kept the Sox in the game. Both games he's pitched have been close. And while he's getting into an alarming number of james, he's getting out of most of them. While it appears as if Clement won't be the Cy Young contender that I was foolishly hoping for, he's going to be a very good #2 or #3 starter. As long as he keeps the Red Sox in the game he's doing his job. And he will have a few brilliant games this year, I can promise you that.

    Curt Schilling? He got shelled in a minor league start and that might be a little worrisome. But let's wait until we see Curt throw a major league pitch before we jump to any conclusions. I think we all have a feeling that Curt will be fine anyways.

    the bullpen? Yikes...Keith Foulke has blown a save already and he's being hit in every game he enters. Matt Mantei can't find the strikezone. Mike Timlin and Alan Embree aren't looking horrible, but both are showing their age. They're showing a reluctance to use Blaine Neal and the longman, John Halama doesn't even have 2 innings yet despite the fact that the starters aren't lasting very long. I know I'm worried. Foulke should settle down, but I'm not confident in Mantei, Embree, and Timlin. I think we might be looking at a long year. In Theo we trust, of course, but he doesn't exactly have a wonderful track record of putting together bullpens. This could be trouble.

    the Red Sox in general? If you're worried about the team after six games then I don't even want to talk to you. This is a playoff caliber team. This team is going to win at least 90 games, likely more. This team is almost guaranteed a playoff spot. Many, many things would have to go wrong for this team to go under. The team has far too much talent to not be a powerhouse in the American League.

    It's been a rought week, but come October none of us will remember the rought start. We'll only remember that the Sox are there, competiting for the championship.

    Speaking of championships.....we're about to see a ring ceramony.

    A bad weekend, but a good way to start the homestand

    So back to back losses for the weekend, eh? I didn't get to watch any of either of the games so you can tell as much as I can from the game wraps and box scores. From what it looks like the starting pitcher was mediocre, the bullpen was bad, and the hitting was average, at best. But at least it's still early.

    No matter what happened in the first 6 games it can't take away from what we get to see tomorrow. Get your VCRs ready to start taping tomorrow at 1pm. They'll be starting off with an hour of pre-game shows and then it's the ring ceramony. The words "World Series rings" erases any bad feelings you might have from a 2-4 start.

    Is it too early to talk about MVP and Cy Young yet?

    It's the first Sunday after the first full week of baseball. So it's the first time I updated my weekly sidebar updates. All year I'll be tracking the AL Cy Young and AL MVP. The race will go as I see it. Obviously for the first couple of months of the season it's not going to be an accurate list. Guys will get off to ice cold or red hot starts. No namers will be pounding the ball and hall of famers will be whiffing left and right. And on the other side, it's hard to rank pitchers based on 2 starts. So I kept both lists to guys that have an actual shot of being there at the end of the year. That's why I'm not going to list Tony Graffanino or Jorge Cantu no matter how hot a start that they get off to. This is obviously just for fun. Here's how I see it after one week of play. This week Curt makes it based on name recognition alone since there wasn't much to go with.

  • Ichiro .478/.538/.522/7/0/1/3
  • Ortiz .435/.480/.870/5/2/6/0
  • Young .375/.444/.958/9/3/7/0
  • Jeter .435/.552/.609/7/1/2/2
  • Matsui .348/.385/.783/6/3/8/0
  • Konerko .333/.391/.810/4/3/6/0
  • Tejada .375/.444/.417/5/0/5/0
  • Crawford .250/.269/.458/3/1/5/4

  • Johnson 1-0/12/13/3/10/3.75

  • Lopez 2-0/14/13/3/10/0.64

  • Santana1-0/12/12/2/17/4.50

  • Bonderman1-1/13/13/5/11/5.54

  • Halladay1-0/13/16/1/9/4.85

  • Buehrle1-1/15/9/4/7/3.00

  • Clement0-0/10/11/8/10/4.35

  • Curt Schilling0-0/0/0/0/0/0.00

  • Every Sunday night you should see the same thing here.

    Saturday, April 09, 2005

    Sox win, Yanks don't, Francona feeling fine

    So the Sox are 0-2 with Francona, but 2-0 with the skipper hospitalized...That's it! Fire the man!

    Francona was released from the hospital yesterday and the news looks good. The doctors found no problem with his heart and believe the problem was just a viral illness. Francona will use the rest of the weekend to rest before joining the team on Monday for the home opener.

    While the manager was away tonight, the Sox held off the Jays and won the game 6-5. Keith Foulke did everything in his power to blow the save, getting hit hard again, but managed to record the save. In one inning of work he allowed 3 hits, 2 earned runs, and a walk. The good news is that Bronson Arroyo allowed those same numbers, but he spread his line across six solid innings for the win. Johnny Damon stole the first base of the year for the Sox, Mark Bellhorn struck out two more times (now on pace for 364 k's!), and Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek both added homers.

    In more good news, if you though David Wells was bad in his debut with a new team take a look at Jaret Wright's debut for the Yankees. With a final score of 12-5 you -know- that guy didn't pitch well. Once we get Curt Schilling back I still say we have a better rotation than the bad guys.

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