Wednesday, April 29, 2009

List of 36: Pitchers with Red Sox ties Manny Ramirez has homered off during his career

1. Mike Timlin
2. David Wells
3. Danny Darwin
4. Dennis Eckersley
5. Jamie Moyer
6. Roger Clemens
7. Tom Gordon
8. Frank Castillo
9. Bryce Florie
10. Paul Quantrill
11. Aaron Sele
12. Todd Jones
13. Steve Avery
14. David Cone
15. Jeff Suppan
16. Pat Rapp
17. Ramon Martinez
18. Hector Carrasco
19. Ken Ryan
20. Rheal Cormier
21. Butch Henry
22. Darren Oliver
23. Bartolo Colon
24. Keith Foulke
25. Joel Pineiro
26. Chad Bradford
27. John Wasdin
28. Kent Mercker
29. David Riske
30. Ugueth Urbina
31. Casey Fossum
32. Kyle Snyder
33. JC Romero
34. Brendan Donnelly
35. Paul Byrd
36. Ryan Rupe

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

That’s What I Had in Mind

Yes, it’s only April. Yes, it’s too early in the season to get too excited about any one series. Yes, quite a few things went wrong this past weekend, in addition to all the things that went right. But, it really doesn’t matter. The Red Sox just swept the Yankees, and made them look bad in doing so. Even better? Two of the three games were nationally televised. It’s always nice when the whole country can see the Yankees cower in the corner. I know I’m a little slow to the draw, but there were a few things I thought I’d touch upon about the Yankees series.

The Red Sox depth was obvious. The Sox are using their third string shortstop at the moment. The fact that they’re still putting up a ton of runs is a great sign. The Sox are also without their #3 starter. All Justin Masterson has done to replace him is pitch two great games against division foes, and pick up two wins. Masterson wasn’t even the first choice in this role. If Buchholz had been healthy, it might have been him taking the starts. Masterson starting also takes him out of the ‘pen. The Sox would appear to have plenty of depth out there as well. Jonathan Papelbon pitched both Friday and Saturday, so was unavailable Sunday. The Sox turned to Takashi Saito to close out Sunday’s victory, which he did fairly easily. It’s nice when your back-up closer has 81 saves and a 1.95 ERA over the last three years. When the season started, it always looked like the Sox on paper, had lots of depth. It’s always nice to find out that the depth is there on the field as well.

It always amazes me that anyone can steal home. How can a player run 90 feet faster than someone can throw a ball 60? Pretty gutsy on Ellsbury’s part to try it with two out, and the bases loaded. If he gets tagged out, that’s a lot of explaining to do. I also love how a steal of home completely disrupts the announcers. They’re droning on about “here’s the wind-up and…” suddenly they need to change course and scream about this lunatic motoring down the baseline. They’re such a jumbled mess at that point, I still don’t know if a strike or ball was called. It was easier for them when Omar Visquel stole home against the Sox a few years ago without a throw.

It always bugs me when Mariano Rivera comes in and they talk about the Yankees record when leading after 8 innings. It’s like he’s such an elite closer, they don’t even need to finish the games when he comes is. But, really, don’t most teams have pretty good records when leading after 8 innings…other than the Mets? Don’t the Royals have a fairly decent record in the couple games they’ve actually led after 8?

Yes, it’s troublesome that Beckett looked lost on Saturday. If the Yanks had pulled that game out, there’d be a lot of discussion about what exactly happened to him.

It’s amazing to me that the Yankees spent all that money on pitching, and they give up runs like they’re going out of style. It looks like a vicious cycle at this point. The starters were bad, so they left games early. The bullpen had to pitch a lot, so they tired out and pitched awful. Since Girardi doesn’t trust the ‘pen, he leaves starters in too long. They get tired and pitch awful. So, the bullpen needs to come in, and the cycle is renewed.

I can never decide whether it’s a good thing that you get contributions from different parts of the line-up. Should it worry me that Ortiz is homerless, or should I be thrilled that other people are picking up the slack? I will say that the top of the line-up looks to be a “pick your poison” sort of thing. When you have Ellsbury-Pedroia-Ortiz-Youk-Drew-Bay-Lowell-Tek…at least three of them have to be going good at any given point, right? It covers up for slumps quite well. It’s a far cry from ten years ago when it was Nomar and nobody.

Sweeping the Yanks may not mean everything, but it’s better than the alternative.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It’s NOT just another series

The players can talk all they want about this weekend’s games just being 3 of 162. Terry Francona can drone on and on about how he’ll manage these games just like a game against Kansas City. They don’t mean it. And, if they do mean it…they shouldn’t. The games against the Yankees are different than the 143 games against other teams. Whether it’s just for the fans, or for the team…it’s just different.

From a fan standpoint, this series either subjects us to an extra week of abuse, or not. If the Yankees come in and sweep, the badgering from the Yankees fans will be piled on pretty think until the teams can meet again. The constant reminders of the super offseason pick-ups and the brand new palace they play in will be enough to make you sick. If, however, the Sox can sweep, fans will be treated to even more stories of the Yankees struggles. Stories of the launching pad they play in, and the ineptness of the relief corps will be everywhere. It will make for another sweet week in the season. Even a series will would help a bit it tilting the media coverage one way or another.

Obviously, I don’t expect the players to play or Francona to manage differently just for fan bragging rights. But, there are reasons why even they should treat this series differently. Basically the Sox and the Yankees are pretty well matched. It’s a little scary how if you go through the teams player by player they’re almost identical. So, you’d expect that they’d have similar records at the end of the season. I’ve mentioned it before. I expect the Sox and Yankees (and Rays for that matter) to be about the same against other teams. They both should with about 80% of the games against Baltimore and Kansas City. They both should win about half their games against LA. They should both win about 55% of the rest of the games. So, when all is said and done, the games against each other are the difference maker. (A couple years ago, that was literally the case as it came down to a head-to-head tiebreaker for the division.) If the Sox can take 15 of the 19 games, that’s a lot different than taking 10 of 19. Suddenly, the Yankees need to make up a lot of games against other teams. It quickly becomes a numbers game where the Yankees don’t play enough games against other teams to make up enough ground. Go through the schedule sometime and divvy up the wins as you see it series by series. The season record really hinges on the results of a couple “pick-em” series, and the Yankees are a big example of that.

So, no matter what the players, manages, coaches, owners, or anybody else says…these aren’t 3 of 162. They’re 3 of 19 that could decide the division.

Isn’t that worth a little extra effort?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Red Sox Rule By: Michael Holley

This book takes a unique look at the Red Sox championship run.
Rather than focus on the team, or the front office, it looks squarely at the manager Terry Francona. It discusses how he got the managerial job in the first place. It discusses the events in his life that may have influenced his coaching style. It explores the history of the making of a Boston Red Sox manager. The access to Francona for this book is evident, as every detail is there for all to see. This book brings it all together into a seamless story.

This was a great book. It was fascinating to see how past events in Francona’s life affected the way he managed the Red Sox. It was amazing how friends he made, or people he met years ago could still influence him today. It went from the obvious influence of someone like Brad Mills to the less obvious. What did managing Michael Jordan in the minor leagues teach him about handling Pedro Martinez? How did trying to play through so many injuries in his career prepare him to deal with veteran players? Does being a past first round pick help him to deal with the superstars of tomorrow? Time and time again I found that the success of the Red Sox just made sense. It became obvious that Terry Francona was almost created just for the role. Anyone who ever refers to him as “Francoma,” or anyone else for that matter, needs to read this book.

Rating: 4 bases

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Random Thoughts

Nothing like a series against the Orioles to cure what ails ya. Unless, of course, you’re the Yankees.

This last series points out exactly why early season numbers and records are useless. Last week, the Sox were sitting at 3-6, and people were worrying if they would ever come out of it. This week, they’re 7-6 and in second place in the division. They weren’t slumping in the beginning. They’re not cruising now. The quality of the opponent just dropped off. Everything works it way out if you give it enough time.

Going into the season, the Sox had a lot of pitchers. While many of them came with huge question marks, one thing was sure. The Sox had the gift of depth that could help them through the season. Never was that more obvious than Monday. The Sox #3 pitcher was down with an injury. The obvious replacement is last year’s #5 guy, the young up and comer. He was also down with an injury. So, the Sox went to plan C, yet another young up and comer who was currently a top set-up man in the bullpen. All plan C did was give them 5.1 innings of one-run ball and collect the win. How many other teams could pull that off?

I liked the way Josh Beckett dropped his appeal. He basically said, “I still think I’m right. I still think I would have been absolved upon appeal. Basically, the punishment does nothing bad to the team though, so I’m dropping the appeal.” And, he’s right. It was a business decision that once he got it whittled down to five games, the extra day of rest might not be a bad deal anyway. That’s why I always thought players shouldn’t be able to drop appeals once applied for. If a player appeals the suspension, he should have to go to the hearing. Whatever the result, he would then serve immediately. A player shouldn’t be able to appeal a suspension until the team faces two straight lefties, and drop the appeal to miss games he would have skipped anyway. Or, maybe it’s MLB’s way of looking tough, but not really thinking the player deserved the suspension in the first place.

I wonder if a quick two-game series affects the visitors. Is there an adjustment period that the Twins will never get over two games? I would assume it would have to favor the Sox somehow, right?

Another home run from the captain yesterday. It’s early yet, but it’s better than the alternative.

Friday, April 17, 2009

36 Years of Red Sox Cards (Part VIII)

A few more minutes, so a few more great Red Sox cards…

1977 Topps Fred Lynn
Any discussion of the late 70’s Sox needs to stop on Fred Lynn. He broke in with the Sox unlike any rookie ever had. He capped his 1975 season with both the Rookie of the Year, and MVP awards. Teamed with Jim Rice and Dwight Evans, the Sox could boast one of the best young outfields…maybe ever. But, when free agency came to the major leagues, Lynn was one of the first to bolt Boston. While he came to regret the decision, it was too late. What seemed destined to be a long and glorious career never really materialized? But, boy, what a great few years. This 1977 card pictures Lynn smack in the middle of his Red Sox career.

1986 Topps Bill Buckner
Who else could I pick? Were it not for 1986, Bill Buckner would be remembered as being a great ballplayer. Not quite Hall-of-Fame caliber, but pretty darn good. But, once that ball went through his legs in the 1986 series, that was it. That was his claim to infamy. This card is a great headshot of Buckner, before he grew goat horns. The back of the card is probably the last one not to mention his error. It’s too bad. He didn’t deserve any of the grief he got. Luckily, this card still reminds everyone of the good days he had.

1997 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Jose Canseco
I’ve mentioned it before, but the Sox did a lot of this in years past. They found a superstar who wasn’t quite living up to his past, and brought him in based on name alone. Andre Dawson and Jack Clark are two other examples of this that come to mind. These days, Jose Canseco is an interesting person. On the one hand, he became a laughingstock. His baseball career ended, he turned to the shameful celebrity boxing…the last venue of C-list stars. On the other hand, he became the steroid poster boy when he wrote a book filled with outrageous claims of players who used steroids. The funny thing is, that he appears to be absolutely right. None of the current steroid ballyhoo would exist if it weren’t for Canseco. By the time this card came out in 1997, Jose had already been shipped off to Oakland. His Red Sox career never became what fans hoped it would.

1974 Topps Fisk/Bench All-Star
I’ll say it again. Baseball card companies love stars. They know that collectors would rather have cards of stars than bench players. Back in 1974, companies thought they should also have cards of all the players on every team. So, one way to save space was a combo card like this one. This way, by only using one card they could appeal to Fisk fans as well as Bench backers. The fact that this tandem would end up being a marquee match-up in the next year’s World Series is especially nice. These days, cards like this aren’t especially expensive, and are a great way to collect Hall-of-Fame players two at a time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Collecting the Sox

People collect any number of things these days. Scour around enough and you’ll find collectors of spoons, teapots, saltshakers, and coke bottles. Just about anything will appeal to someone enough to start a collection. Naturally, that also applies to Red Sox collections. These days you can find just about anything with a Red Sox logo on it. It’s not difficult to find something Red Sox related for a person to collect. But, what to collect?

The first deciding factor is how much space you have. If you’re thinking of dedicating a 20’ x 20’ room to the collection, you have more options open than if you just plan on using the top of your dresser. Maybe the mini-bats would be a better fit than the full size models if space is a concern. Posters will need more display wall-space than baseballs. Price could also be a concern, but it’s more of a thing to work around than something to eliminate a choice. A box of Wheaties with a Red Sox player on it will run you about $3. A Ted Williams autographed bat will go at least 100 times as much. Now, obviously the cereal would be easier to fit into any sort of budget. But, if you’re willing to wait and build your collection slowly, saving up for the bat should be possible if it’s what you really want. The most important factor, of course, is whether or not you like the collection. Don’t collect something because your friend does. Don’t collect it because you think it will be worth money someday. Don’t collect something because you think you should. Collect it because you enjoy it. Collect it because you like the hunt. Collect it because your eyes light up when you find one.

There are a few subcategories that Red Sox items would fall into. There are souvenirs. These would be items that you purchase to remind you of something, like a game you went to. Usually these are things purchased during the trip, but can include things purchased after the fact. For instance, if you go to a game, you may buy a program at the park. If the game happens to be Jon Lester’s no-hitter, you can buy a newspaper the next day with coverage of the game, or an autographed photo of the game. They’d all fall under the souvenir range. There’s also memorabilia. Those would be things actually used, or touched, by a player. I’m including things like game used gloves and bases, as well as autographed pictures and balls in this area. Everything else, I throw into the collectables category. This is a catchall for things like statues, bobbleheads, magazines, books, bats, balls, pencils, spoons, cards, newspapers, cereal, and anything else with a Red Sox logo or Red Sox player on it.

Don’t worry about changing the focus of your collection either. When I was growing up, whenever I went somewhere, I usually got a pin/button from the location. After a while, these pins started to get more expensive, and I found it harder to display them. For a while, I kept at it because “I collect pins.” But, that’s silly. If I didn’t enjoy it, I would have been better off switching much sooner. Now, I sometimes get a pin, if that’s the best choice. But, it’s usually not. There’s nothing wrong with an evolving collection. It’s all about having fun. After all, there are plenty of options out there to explore.

What do you collect?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Six Games: Six Thoughts

A few things rattling around in my head thus far into the season…

1. The schedule makers were real teases this season. A whole winter of anticipation for that first game. Then, the game was pushed back a day. (OK, not the schedule maker’s fault) Then, after three quick games, out to the west coast for a week where the games are deep into the night. So, it’s still like the Sox aren’t playing. Only once has a game been played at a 7:10 start time like usual. It’s just a very choppy way to start a season. It’ll get better in the coming weeks.

2. No. I’m not worried. Frankly, I’d rather be 2-4 against Tampa and LA than the 3-3 the Yankees started with against Baltimore and KC. I’ve always said, the goal going into the season should be to win every series at home, and go 500 on the road. They’re only one game off each of those paces after facing exclusively 2008 playoff teams. The Yanks, on the other hand have been playing bottom dwellers. They’re supposed to use those games to make up for the games against the good teams.

3. The bullpen has been a little shakier than I’d like to see. You’d think that at least a couple of them would come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. Even Pap looked human the other night. Again, not at the worried stage. I’d just prefer a better effort.

4. I like the new road uniforms. While I don’t like tinkering with the uniforms as much as the bush league organization in Tampa Bay, a few changes are a nice way to keep things fresh. Otherwise, you end up stuck in the past like the Yankees. I liked the change to the red lettering when they made it because it included the Red Sox font. It made it a little different. So, keeping the font is a nice way to go back to the blues. I also like the cleanliness the whole “red at home, blue on the road” idea.

5. I don’t like the alternate road uniforms. I’m generally not a fan of different color jerseys and pants. It’s the same reason I prefer a full suit to a sports coat. For some reason, it just looks like they’re wearing the wrong pants. Now, I’m not suggesting that they go full blue pants and jersey (or full red for the home alternates). But, It just looks like a spring training game when they have the mismatched uniform. I also hope that the “alternate” is really “special.” If they want to bring out the blues and reds for holidays or special events, that’s fine. I can go for the gold trim on ring ceremony day, or green uniforms on Red Auerbach day. If they pull them out for a random Tuesday night game, it just smells of a marketing ploy…which, of course, it is.

6. Last year, Jason Varitek had 13 home runs for the season. This year, he’s on pace for 54.

Friday, April 10, 2009

TTM Autograph Request: Josh Beckett

OK. So I haven’t had the best luck lately with asking for autographs through the mail. So far, I’m 0 for my last 4. But, that doesn’t mean I should stop trying, right?

This time I’ve decided to try out Red Sox ace Josh Beckett. The desire should be obvious. He’s a playoff hero. He’s a Yankee killer. He’s the ace of a very good Boston staff. I also thought he might not quite have a national following yet. The more locally exclusive the fanbase of a player, the fewer request letters he gets. Right? In any event, I’m giving it a try. Plus, I love the look of the Topps Allen and Ginter cards. I can’t imagine a better place for an autograph.

I keep promising to keep you posted on my TTM successes, and I continue to do so. If anyone ever answers me, I’ll be sure to spread the word.

Someone, please answer.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

36 Questions: Trades

Another thing I’ve always wondered about is how a trade gets started. It’s especially interesting when a big name player is involved. How do people know who is available? How do they know what they want? If Theo Epstein is reading, he’s welcome to answer.

For instance, the Red Sox reportedly made an inquiry into Hanley Ramirez earlier in this offseason. Is that how it happens? Do the Red Sox say to themselves that they have a need at short, and just start calling teams to see if, perchance, their player is available? Do they just call the Marlins to ask about Ramirez? Do they call the Phillies every few days, just to see if Rollins happens to become available? Do they call the Yankees about Jeter? Do they scour the local newspapers to see if a player is unwanted by the team? Do teams call Theo every day just to see if for some reason he’d like to trade Pedroia? Do the Cardinals just cold-call Theo and ask about Papelbon’s availability? You know at some price, every member of the team would be tradeable. So, the Cards call out of the blue and ask about Papelbon. Does Theo respond, “Sure…for Pujols?” What if they say OK? Do general managers just call each other every two days to see if anything comes out?
“Hi, Theo. How are things?”
“My leftfielder is driving me nuts. I’d trade him for a new bat at this point.”
“Really…interesting. If you tossed in a couple other players and some cash, maybe I could help”

How does a deal ever come together? There are hundreds of players in any organization. How do you decide which A-ball prospect is worth a back-up outfielder? When you have a chip to trade…say a gold glove caliber center fielder who can run…how do you find a match? Does Theo call every club and ask what they need, hoping one of them says they need an outfielder? Does he look around at teams he thinks need an outfielder and offer him to them? Does he look around for a team that has what he needs…say a middle reliever…and call them with an offer? How does it all work?

And, how does anything ever get done?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Opening Day!

There’s just something about Opening Day. The seats are clean. The field is green. The air is crisp, and the centerfielder isn’t. Opening Day isn’t just the first game of the season. It’s more than 1 of 162. It’s an event. It’s a production. It’s a joy to behold.

As usual, the Sox didn’t pull out any stops during the ceremony. Why settle for simple introductions when you can have people appearing from out of nowhere? They once had members of the NE Patriots appear out from under a flag in left. This year, they had the Red Sox themselves appear from out of the crowd. It was a great touch. Each Red Sox starter, instead of coming out of the dugout, came down from the stands. The image of the players walking down the aisles towards the field, slapping hands with the fans as they went was great. I wonder what Jason Bay was thinking after spending so many Opening Days in Pittsburgh. While I’m sure it wasn’t the player’s first choice, they all looked to be having a good time with it.

The National Anthem was a little bit of a letdown. Not, that I’m a huge Seal fan…or any kind of Seal fan really. But, I like to see different people do the singing. The Boston Pops show up enough that I like to see someone else out there. But, one advantage to the Pops is that they can read music and lyrics. Whenever they do it, it’s a nice proper, short, rendition. No holding one note for three years, or changing the tune to show off specific vocal talents. It’s simply the anthem as it should be. I’m also always impressed by a flyover. I can’t get over how lout and close those jets can get.

The ceremonial first pitch is another place the Red Sox like to have a little fun. Last Year it was Bill Buckner. In previous years they’ve had Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, former Sox, and any number of important people. This year, the Sox selected Senator Ted Kennedy. It was an apt choice, given all he has meant to Massachusetts over the years. Catching the first pitch was Jim Rice. I expect to see a lot of Jim Ed this year. With his election to the baseball Hall of Fame this year, he’ll be a popular player. Not only will the Sox retire his number sometime this year, I’m sure he’ll be the face of the franchise for a while. It’s nice to see Rice finally get a well deserved “victory tour.”

Once the game starts, all the ceremony in the world can’t cover up for a drubbing. Thankfully, Beckett made sure that didn’t happen. He had one bad inning, but was otherwise dominant. Striking out 10 batters over seven innings is a pretty impressive start to the season. Dustin Pedroia kept chugging along with a crowd-pleasing home run in the bottom of the first. He has one of the fastest home run trots around. He must have realized that the faster his trot, the sooner he can get back to the dugout and tell everyone he just hit a homer. The captain added one of his own as yet another treat for the crowd. It’ll be great if Jason Andrew Varitek is even most of his old self. Obviously, his 162 home run pace is a tad unrealistic. But, it’s better than seeing him go 0-4 with three pop outs.

I was glad that Papelbon apparently dropped the “wild thing” portion of his entrance song. I still say that “I’m Shipping up to Boston” is the best closer entrance I can imagine. It’s like the WWE out there. If you haven’t been in Fenway for the opening notes, you need to be. The electricity in the stands is measurable.

All in all, what more can you ask for out of a game? The ceremony at the start. Great starting pitching. A couple homers. Papelbon to close it out. Fenway Perfection.

If only it were 10 degrees warmer.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Book Review: 2009 Red Sox Media Guide

OK, so maybe it's not exactly a book. Maybe the best word would be a reference manual. But, it doesn't really matter. The important thing is that I finally got my hands on the 2009 version this weekend. If you've never seen a media guide, you should at least flip through one. It's where everyone gets all those useless stats about the Sox and its players. A couple gems from this year's guide:
-Jason Bay is one of only 8 players to be traded during a season in which he scored 100 runs, hit 30 home runs, and drove in 100 runs. (BTW, the guy he was traded for is another one)
-Mark Kotsay is one of only 3 players in history to play more games at first base during the postseason than he did during the regular season.
-John Dopson holds the Red Sox record for most balks in a single game with 4 on June 13, 1989.

How can you not need a book filled with all this info? It also has bios on every member of the Red Sox, and the front office. It has team histories, records, a section on minor leaguers, and so much more!

Clearly, any Sox fan has to have this book. I usually read it cover to cover just to see what new stuff is added. It's also fun to see how some active players are moving their way up the all-time Red Sox ranks. (Unfortunately, Manny is no longer one of them) It's also great to hold on to for reference about teams past. Simply put, it's a must read.

Rating: 4 bases

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hitting the links

Obviously, this is the site I come to most often. But, when I have some free time, here are some other places I like to visit. (just in case you cared)

Baseball Sites:
MLB – The official site for Major League Baseball. If I just want pure information, this is the place to get it. If I need official releases from teams, or reports on the game itself I try here first.

MLBPA – The official site of the Major League Baseball Players Association. It’s more interesting than useful, but nice to check in on.

HOF – The official site of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It fun to browse around and check things out. It’s, naturally, full of information on the hall itself.

Red Sox Sites:

Red Sox – The official site of the Boston Red Sox. Much like the MLB site, it’s where I go when I want to know something officially happened. If it’s on the Red Sox site, it must be true, and not a good guess.

NESN – The official site of the Red Sox television network. In addition to schedules and the like, full of great and interesting information.

ESPN – The worldwide leader in sports is a great place to go for breaking news, or rumors, or possibilities. I usually don’t consider it official, though, until it’s on the Red Sox site.

SI – Sports Illustrated might be the best sports magazine out there. If it’s on this site, it’s probably something worth reading.

TATB – Touching All The Bases is a blog run through the Boston Globe written by Chad Finn. He writes with the heart of a fan, but it still a talented writer. It’s not all Sox all the time, but during the season it’s a good chance.

MAZZ – The blog kept by Tony Massarotti. He’s been around enough to have enough connections that the opinions he tosses out sometimes have merit. Again, it’s not strictly Sox talk, but odds are good it will be during the season.

Sports Guy – The site kept by Bill Simmons. He’s a very popular writer from ESPN. He makes a few too many pop culture or lowbrow comments, but I still enjoy reading him. Another site that covers all sports but touches on the Sox an awful lot.

Red Sox Diehard– This is one of the first “fan” websites I stumbled across, and I still enjoy checking in.

Any other baseball or Red Sox sites you like?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Season Preview (Part II)

And, now for a quick look at the starting line-up to see what I think of them.

Jason Varitek: As an older catcher, he’s reaching the end of his line. You can only squat for so long, and block the plate so many times before your body starts to really complain. But, the pitchers still love throwing to him. Since I can’t think of another catcher the Sox can get to replace him, I’m glad he’s behind the plate for most of the Sox games. Catcher isn’t a position I expect a lot out of offensively. So, the .255 avg with 15 HR and 56 RBI he’ll put up is just fine with me.

Kevin Youkilis: He’s finally emerging as the star Billy Beane always thought he’d be. His third place finish in last year’s MVP race was a testament to his attitude as much as his stats. He can hit, and is one of the top defensive first basemen out there. He’s the reason I didn’t think the Sox needed Teixeira this winter. They already have him. Expect a .315/32/112 season from Youuuk.

Dustin Pedroia: See “Youkilis, Kevin” but notch it up a bit. Dustin’s attitude is off the charts. He’s also a Gold Glove fielder. As the reigning AL MVP he probably won’t be able to pull of the “nobody believes in me” line anymore. We’ll see how he holds up when it’s all expected. I’d certainly expect a .316/24/96 stat line at the end.

Mike Lowell: Lowell is one of the many wildcards on this year’s team. Which Lowell will show up? Will he be healthy? Will he last the season? All very big questions. At the moment, he looks good to go. I’ll put him down for .275/18/75 and see where it leaves me.

Julio Lugo (or Jed Lowrie): It doesn’t really matter who plays. Much like the #5 starter slot, either one has the same questions for different reasons. I don’t know what to expect out of either of them. Will Lowrie come up and shine? Will Lugo act like he did in Tampa? Does it really matter what happens to the #9 hitter? I think the final answer is that whatever I get from shortstop is fine. A guess? I say the combo of the two brings .268/15/63.

Jason Bay: Weird not writing Manny Ramirez’s name in this slot. Bay’s not Manny, but he might be close enough. I’m anxious to see what he can do in a full season in Boston. He doesn’t look like the type who will wilt under the spotlight. So, I’ll mark him down for .290/29/108 and hope for the best.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Once the Sox found a taker for Coco Crisp, the starting centerfield job was Ellsbury’s. He now just needs to relax and do what he can do. If he can take his time and not feel the need to produce immediately, it will be better for him. Jacoby might be the most entertaining player on the field. His speed is game changing, and makes every play a scoring opportunity. While most of his value will come from getting on base and stealing, I’ll look for a .267/8/56 season.

J. D. Drew: Drew’s talent is unquestionable. His desire for the game is the opposite. If he can put together a full healthy season, he’s a tremendous asset to the team. If he struggles through nagging injuries, he’ll be a waste of a roster slot. I’m going to go ahead and aim high with a .297/26/92 statline.

So, there are the players. How does that all add up for the season? I see no reason not to expect a 95-67 season. Will that be enough for the division? It might be. It should be enough for a wild card. In any event, it should be a fine season.

What are your predictions?

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