Today, I read something that really irked me.
As a fan of baseball, there is one thing I love most about
it. It’s an untimed game.
I remember being little, and not understanding the sport
yet, when I read a short story about a fan’s love for baseball, and his
reasoning as to why. He compared it to soccer, basketball and football, and it
put everything into perspective.
He praised these sports for their adrenaline filled halves,
quarters and final seconds, for the thrill it brings to fans, for the way that
it makes blood rush and hearts tick a thousand miles per hour, and for what it
does for those games.
However, he also described the sad reality of timed games. How
when a team, say Liverpool vs. Manchester, is down 4-1 in the premiership with
fifteen minutes left, the Spurs down 89-110 to the Lakers with a minute to go,
or the Patriots down to the Colts 32-7 at the two minute warning, fans have no
choice but to resign and lose hope for their side to win without the final
whistle even blown.
That’s where baseball comes in.
In baseball, you don’t have time pressures. You don’t have
to worry about a clock ticking down your seconds, about a referee blowing his
whistle and telling you that you’re out of time, that there is no hope. As a
fan, you can stand on the edge of your seat, even with two outs, full count and
a number nine hitter in the bottom of the ninth with your team down a bunch of
runs, because anything can happen.
A rally, a base-loaded jam, a blown save, extra innings and
walk off heroics, all in the realm of possibilities, yes, even with just one
The Red Sox are a team that basks in this, as do most of all
other teams in baseball (except the White Sox when Mark Buehrle is pitching)
because it is what makes baseball unique and unlike any other “American” sport.
That’s why I was so irked when I read umpire Joe West’s
comments about the pace of the Yankees-Red Sox game.
In an article on NESN.com, Joe West had the g(b)alls to say
that the Red Sox and Yankees “are playing the slowest (games)… It’s pathetic
and embarrassing; they take too long to play.”
Fck you, Joe West.
But he didn’t stop there. No, Mr. West was far from
finished. He also went on to say that last night’s home plate umpire, Angel
Hernandez, deliberately refused to grant batters time, even when they stepped
outside the batter’s box to try and get the game to speed up. He defended this
by adding that “the players aren’t cooperating with us. This is embarrassing -
a disgrace to baseball.”
No, Mr. West. You and your umpiring crew are the disgrace to
What you just said is an embarrassment to you and to your
kind, umpires that want to speed a game up that is to be enjoyed without the
constraints of time, without a stopwatch counting down the seconds of a game.
What, is there an all you can eat buffet going on that you
want to catch before it closes?
As it is, and as we were all victims of on Sunday, baseball
has already been affected by time constraints because of third party interests.
Television networks like MLBTV and ESPN have such an important $take in the
game that they now decide what time opening games are, and shuffle them around
to their content, uncaring of whom they affect. Case and point; last Sunday,
Easter Sunday, or countless other days in which night games are followed by
early day games, all to accommodate third parties.
What Mr. West says is an outrage, an insult to the game of baseball.
Imagine if innings were timed, if at bats had a time limit in which you had to
get things done, or get sent back to the dugout, regardless of your count. The
term “patience at the plate” would have to be eradicated, erased completely,
and baseball would have to be reinvented.
Or imagine if extra innings had a time limit, and if no one
had scored by a certain time, the game would go to a sudden death home run
derby or a bullpen pitch-off. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Maybe, but the way
things have been going, don’t put it past Bud Selig to make it so.
His tolerance for buffoons like Joe West seems interminable,
as evidenced last year when Umpire Paul Schrieber placed his hand on Magglio
Ordonez’ back and tried to push him back to the dugout and not as much as a
slap on the wrist came from the Comish’s desk.
As far as I remember, if a player as much as thinks about
calling an ump or his calls “pathetic”, “embarrassing” or “a disgrace,” he gets the “you’re ‘outta
here!” call faster than Milton Bradley can drop his bat on home plate and get
ejected for it in a Spring Training game. And this is just words, because if a
player as much as grazes an ump, he not only gets ejected but also gets fined
for the microscopic dust specs he might have disturbed on the umpire’s jacket.
Just ask Jerry Manuel from the New York Mets what that’s like.
MLB is getting out of hand and taking the beauty out of
baseball with idiots like this being allowed to speak their minds.
Picture a game without ridiculous batting rituals, batting
stances, trademark pitching windups, tension before a pitch is delivered, fouled
off pitches, and many other trademark baseball antics. Depressing, isn’t it?
Let’s keep baseball the way it is, the way it’s always been.
Let teams play at their own pace, that’s the beauty of it. Let pitchers like
John Lackey and Mark Buehrle pitch like steam engines and get a game done in
two hours, and let others like Wakefield work at their own funeral-like march.
The fans don’t mind three-four hour long games, why should
you, Joe West? It’s what you get paid for, you fat tub of lard.
If you want to see “pathetic” and “embarrassing” look at
your strike zone and your blown calls. I think they’ll be appropriate
Long live good old fashioned baseball.
Taking advantage of this day off for the Sox, I’ll use it to
catch up with the flurry of news that has arisen since my last post.
Many things have happened, included a horrible skid that
landed us in second place trailing the Yankees by up to four games, Dice-K
airing some nasty comments about the Bosom pitching staff and then clearing
them up, Epstein maintaining his tradition of keeping RSN on the wire and
miraculously pulling off a blockbuster trade that landed All-Star catcher/1B
Victor Martinez in Bean Town in exchange for the versatile Justin Masterson,
Big Papi‘s name arising in the PED scandals along with partner in crime Manny
Ramirez, a wonderful pickup in momentum led by Josh Beckett and backed by the
breaking out of bats, and a three game sweep of the Orioles (which will be discussed in another blog) and the discovery
of how handy Daniel Bard can be and his bright future as the Sox’s next Jonathan Papelbon.
First things first; the post All-Star game skid.
As much as we all in RSN would like to forget it happened,
it’s important to know it did, why and how, so we can know it won’t happen
again. Even the comfort of being at home and supported by yet another sellout
Fenway outing proved to insufficient to stump teams as modest as the A’s or
As much as I would love to stand behind Tito and his
Smoltz experiment, it’s time to stop. The rotation has to be more than
our proven aces Beckett and Lester, the durable Wake (as soon as he gets back from the DL) and the occasional good outing by
Seeing Smoltz struggle through five once more like the way he
struggled against Saltalamacchia and the Rangers, only this time against the
Orioles, proved that Smoltz’ low cost-low risk is proving to be too much cost
and way too risky for the Sox. Although that if it wasn’t for those homers in
Arlington it wouldn’t have been such a bad outing, this last show against the
Orioles, which consequently won him some well deserved jeers from the always
demanding Fenway crowd, proved that Smoltz isn’t the pitcher the Sox expected
he would be, and that maybe it’s time we moved on from this.
It’s just a shame we no longer have a pitcher like Masterson
that could transition from the ‘pen to the rotation seamlessly, which shows how
truly underestimated he was here in Boston.
I want to believe in this Smoltz experiment. I want to
believe his stuff is not done. I want to have confidence that this is just a
bad starting slump and that he will be as dominant as he was when he became the
legendary potential Hall of Famer that brought hope to the Atlanta Braves.
However, I’m getting
tired of seeing him try and fail, and the way the rotation is set up, he’s due
to face the Yankees this week, led by a rejuvenated Joba Chamberlain. I kind of looked
forward to seeing that 8-0 record turn to 9-0, not 8-1. As much as I hate them,
they have some very good players, and the Jeter-Teixeira-Rodriguez trio will
not forgive a hanging fastball or a changeup that lingers over the plate longer than it’s supposed to and, in that home run
happy stadium of theirs, we could see a couple of them heading to the stands. I’m
sure the RSN wouldn’t forgive a loss to the eternal rival, especially one that
could potentially end up in a one sided slugfest, which could put us farther
than the ½ game lag the Sox currently have in the AL East. This could be an
excellent change to cash in on that fabulous record, let’s just hope Smoltz
makes true to his July 26th declarations;
“My stuff is not done. My
results might put me in a category where they’re going to talk about it, but
with the exception of some hits, I’m tired of tipping my hat to the
Dice-K airing his “frustrations”
Next on the list is Dice-K’s public airing of his “frustrations”
with the Red Sox pitching staff. I’m sure that by now all of you have heard
Dice-K’s criticisms of the Sox and the regimen for pitchers in general in the
United States against the one used in Japan, but if you haven’t, this is what
he said, according to an MLB.com article dated July 28, 2009;
“If I’m forced to continue to train in this
environment, I may no longer be able to pitch like I did in Japan,[...] The only
reason why I managed to win games during the first and second years [with the
Red Sox] was because I used the savings of the shoulder I built up in Japan.
Since I came to the Major Leagues, I couldn’t train in my own way, so now I’ve
lost all those savings.“
The next day, however, everything seemed to be back to
normal, as Tito, as is his custom, came out to clear the air and speak for the
“He was trying to make some points about probably being
a little bit regretful. Again, I probably need to not speak for him. That’s not
fair. And the points I made to him were, ‘Yeah, this is how we felt. Now, where
do we go from here?'”
Apparently, Matsuzaka feels he was misquoted, or that a
private conversation was aired out. Either way, I feel that if he had any
problems with his pitching regimen, he should have made it known to his
coaches, through his own means or through an interpreter. The fact of the matter
is that he missed Spring Training to pitch in the WBC, something that the Sox
gave him the privilege to do.
In simple terms,
Dice-K, you’re property of the Sox, who paid a hefty 50 million non-refundable lump
sum to have you in their rotation. If they were looking out for their best
interest, they could have simply said no and denied you the possibility of
pitching for team Japan, something that brought the Sox and Dice-k no gain but
Although Francona was, I’m not so quick to forgive Dice-K.
Although he is an integral part of the rotation and featured heavily in the ’07
run and last year’s season, he did behave in a most unprofessional manner, both
by airing his criticisms to the public and by stubbornly clinging to the
decision of pitching for team Japan, who overworked him, diminishing his
shoulder strength and basically depleting him of whatever “savings” he had
saved from Japan. This, I’m sure, is not something that would have been tolerated back home.
It’s interesting, though. If he says he won’t be able to
pitch like the way he did in Japan, then how did he manage to pitch in the way he did to
earn himself that MVP in the WBC? Wasn’t he on a different regimen then as well to
prepare for a premature season/tournament? While it is true that he had a member of the
Red Sox pitching staff looking over him and his workout, something he
complained about and dubbed as “restrictive,” he was in his own atmosphere,
pitching the way he liked, and look at the consequences it brought about. The
Sox were looking out for their player, anything anyone who had invested 100
million in a player would do.
Dice-K has to understand he isn’t in Japan anymore. While it
is true that in Japan he was able to pitch 100+ pitch outings, including that
one 250 pitch, 17 inning outing that won him all that fame back home, in the
states, the culture is different. Here, we preserve pitchers for durability, for
strength, and to protect them from injury. The Sox have a long term investment
in this man, and the last thing they want is for him to blow his shoulder after
the first two seasons. If he sees that as invasive, then he should stop showing
up at the front office to claim his check, return, if not all, some of the
money that he has already taken, pack his bags and return home, where I’m sure
(sarcasm) someone will pay him 50 million to pitch.
I’m not against Dice-K. I support him as a member of the Red
Sox and as the great pitcher he has proven he is. All I want is for him to confirm, once again, that he can be the Dice-K of old in September and claim his
rightful spot in the rotation, to give us that extra push we need to claim the
division and take the Fall Classic.
Victor Martinez and the offensive renaissance
Third on the list are Victor Martinez and the revolution his
bat has brought upon the Red Sox offense. First off, let’s look at the overall picture.
Three-Time All-Star, Silver Slugger in 2004, leader in Cleveland and a fan
favourite. As for this season’s numbers, Victor has an average of .291, with 15
homers and 72 ribbies, and a .372 On Base Percentage.
In his first three days donning the number 41 in a Sox
uniform, Victor Martinez has proven to be an untreatable catalyst to a
previously dormant Boston offense, tying a career high five hits in six at bats in one game
yesterday against the Orioles. Hitting third and protected by cleanup hitter
Kevin Youkillis, who had several tremendous days at the plate this weekend,
Martinez has become the bat that Ortiz (who I will talk about later) asked for at
the beginning at the season.
As per defense, this guy is more than what the Red Sox asked
for. He mostly plays behind the plate which will be the rest that our captain needs and that Kottaras cannot provide, but this guy can also cover first base,
allowing Youk to slide across the diamond to the hot corner in the days Lowell
is given off. He may not be gold glove caliber at first, but he can do the job,
and right behind him stands Casey Kotchman, also acquired prior to the
deadline. It also has to be mentioned that he can swing the bat very well,
being able to cover David Ortiz at DH. His salary is also a steal for the kind
of player he is, something the front office was probably stoked about.
One thing I would love for Victor to learn is how to catch a knuckler, it would be tremendous for him to learn to catch wake, since ‘Tek is on the way out and Kottaras isn’t the offensive threat Martinez is.
The only sad part about this trade was the cost, for the Sox
had to give up Justin Masterson, a great versatile pitcher that led the setup
staff and that could cover any holes in the starting lineup. As a former Sox I can
only wish him the best of luck for the rest of his career except on days that
he plays the Sox.
Big Papi and PED’s
I hate to talk about this but I know I have to address it or
I will lose my mind. Big Papi and his admitted use of PED’s. When I first read
this on a facebook status somewhere, I assumed it was an ill-taste joke,
something done by a Rays fan just to take out their bitterness over being a
small-time team that once dreamt about being big. But as I rolled out of bed to
drink some coffee and switch on the TV, there it was, in bib blown up red
letters, as ESPN tends to do. “Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz; NY Times reports
that both players tested positive in ’03“
Shock, disappointment, anger, and frustration were some of
the emotions that followed. I just couldn’t swallow the idea of David Ortiz, a
player whom I admire for his work on the field and off, testing positive for
performance enhancing drugs, something he has been so outspoken about, claiming
that those players who have tested positive should give their money earned back.
The more I heard the more it sickened me. All those years of
taunting “A-Roid” and other Yankee players whom had tested positive were now
back to bite us RSN Nationals in the ***. If there was one thing I held in high
esteem about RS players, it was how unlike NY players they were, how the
fairness of the game stood above all. And yet, there I stood, watching the news
about how one of the most beloved players in Boston admitted to testing
positive, the same player we all stood behind and surrendered curtain calls to
on his first four homers of the season following his gargantuan slump.
I won’t crucify you, Big Papi, for my loyalty to the team
forbids me too. I can’t even jeer or boo you, for that is not what the classy
RSN would do. However, I do want to tell you I am disappointed. I’m hurt that you would cheat the game in such a dishonorable manner, for you are a great player, as you have proven to be in your spell throughout the years in Boston. I am saddened
you even considered this right at some time, and I want to tell you that if you
have any honor, live up to your promise and give back some of the money you
unfairly took. No, your charity doesn’t count.
The PED list is just
annoying and completely devaluates this sport. Burn it before it’s too late. That, or release all the names. All us fans of baseball are tired of hearing names leaked one at a time. Drop them all or just let us forget about it, because this only hurts the sports and further pushes the stereotype that all baseball players are juiced up monsters, something that is unfair to those that have honorably made a name for themselves.
Daniel Bard and his flamethrower
Daniel Bard and his flamethrower, or his right arm as he
likes to call it, are sensational. He is truly a joy to watch, if you’re
standing somewhere that’s not at bat or at the opposing team’s dugout. He
should really change his jersey number to 99; for that is the speed he usually
averages on his
flame I mean fastball. I can’t imagine what Tek or V-Mart’s
hands must feel like after his outings.
The great part about this kid is that he has learned to
develop a nasty slider to provide a 1-2 punch and get the K, scoring 23 of them
over the past 13 innings he has been called up from the pen. It’s something
trusty old ‘Pap needs to get the memo on, especially after the heartbreaking
outings he has provided us with recently. He has learned, at his young age, that
the fastball is a pitch that many Major Leaguers zero in on, even if his are
nearly unhittable, so you must have a trusty second pitch to be able to go to.
Tek and Tito have done an excellent job in bringing him up slowly, and I’m sure
Farrell had a lot to do with his progress as well.
It’s no coincidence that the Sox made him off limits this
trade season, something that they didn’t even do with the top RS pitching
prospect, Clay Buchholz.
Ah, but with Buch exists another dilemma.
He passed another trade deadline submerged in trade rumors,
and rightfully so. He has been the gem of the RS’s farm system, and it is well
known there is more than one team willing to pay a price to see him in their
rotation. Rumors this year were pretty strong about him being traded for either
Mauer, Hernandez or Halladay, but it didn’t happen and he got to stay in
Boston. However, Buch has been buckling, having a shaky outing, surrendering
six runs in an inning against the modest Orioles but getting the win
nonetheless thanks to the offense. All that’s left is to hope he keeps
progressing and throws a no-no like he once did, to prove it wasn’t just a
Until next time, RSN, let’s hope this week is a good one,
Rays and Yankee fan galore. Let’s show them that we have the arguments to win
the division and the big Classic.
It looks like Ian Browne spoke to soon.
It was only the fifth when he sent that tweet that brought
the Sox down.
“Smoltz with just 75 pitches through five in what is easily
his best outing to date.”
If only he and the rest of the Red Sox knew what was due up
in the sixth, I’m sure they wouldn’t have been so keen to chant a victory with
the game only halfway over.
I think that was the main problem. The Sox saw the game as
halfway over, when Texas saw it as halfway in and settled in for the long haul.
Maybe 5 innings doesn’t do the bullpen any good, but I think that a
substitution should have been in place as soon as Tito saw that Smoltz began to
We have to realize, this is a pitcher coming back from a
year away from the majors, and can’t expect him to pitch ace-like stuff,
especially against guys like Kinsler, Saltalamacchia, Young and Murphy, a
former Red Sox prospect. Batters like those will not forgive fastballs that
hang over the plate a little longer than they’re supposed to. Saltalamacchia,
Young and Murphy sure proved that with three homeruns in the same inning.
Don’t get me wrong, Smoltz pitched a great game. The first 5
innings were great, giving up only one run and throwing 75 pitches. He threw a
great breaking ball and his fastballs curled out like they were supposed to.
That is, until the 6th inning.
It seems to be that, although he seems to be at full health,
his arm isn’t ready to throw full controlled balls for six innings. It
certainly wasn’t a high pitch count that got to him. He threw his 76th
pitch to start the 6th, and the 79th to give the Rangers
a run they would never look back from.
I’m not ready to give up on Smoltz yet. I’m aware of what he
can do. I’m aware of what he has accomplished and what he can still do for the
Sox. I’m no one to say he isn’t trying, because I know he is. I can see it in
each pitch he throws, and the rest of the team can too. I think that just maybe
he needs to know his own limitations, and do what’s best for the team. It’s
never dishonorable to pull out but, at the same time, it’s sometimes smart to quit
when you’re ahead, just like Smoltz was at the beginning of the sixth. I’m
aware that going to your bullpen in the sixth can be murderous and even a dumb
idea, especially in game one of the series, but different games call for different
approaches. It’s the reason we have such a deep bullpen, to bail our pitchers
out of trouble and allow us to maintain some sort of lead when our bats are slumping.
But it isn’t all Smoltz or Tito, or even Ian Browne’s tweet at fault.
The Sox haven’t been able to find the appropriate batting
order, with slumping players left and right, and Tito shuffling them as if they
were cards and every game was a new hand at a game of Texas Hold’em. It isn’t all about the positioning of the
order, but I believe some stability in the lineup could be beneficial to a
slumping team who needs a confidence boost ASAP.
We need Jacoby to get on base first of all. He had that
twenty-something hit streak hitting lead-off, and we need that back. Jason Bay,
who was red hot at the beginning of the season, has been cold as of late and
that has affected the Sox in a big way. With no bat to get the runners on base
in, the run percentage has dropped dramatically, with only 10 after the All
Star Break. Our switch hitter hit a homerun on Sunday, and we need some more of
that power to help an ailing team. The only player doing decently well is the
number two hitter, Dustin Pedroia. The number two slot seems to suit him nicely;
after all, it’s the slot he won the MVP title in.
Tonight, all of us in RSN have to deal with the fact
that we have to share 1st place atop the AL East with the Yankees, with
their walk off win off the Orioles in their home-run happy stadium. We can only
hope that our team wakes up and makes the most of that 9-0 record we have
against them while we have it.
Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. Our ace, Josh
Beckett is due up and, after a long nice break following his All Star appearance,
he should be very well rested and ready for action. He has a 2-1 record and a
3.63 ERA in four starts against the Rangers. He has the bullpen to back him up,
but I hope that won’t be necessary and that he can turn in a quality gem to
pull the Sox to their first victory in four games. The only incognita is if
Francona will use the same lineup and if some of the big bats, such as Youk and
Bay, will break out of their funk.
John 3:16. And the lord said, Go Sox!
With the trade deadline nearing closer and closer, trade
talks have begun to emerge around Boston. Names like Halladay have hovered over
Fenway, but things aren’t always as sweet as the trade rumors make them seem.
As any halfway knowledgeable baseball fan should
know, a midseason trade comes at a price, usually a team’s best prospects.
In order for the Sox to get Doc to make a house call every four
days at Boston, they will have to give up prospects. The likes of Buchholz, Bowden and
maybe some established players like JD Drew and the flame-throwing Daniel Bard will most likely be on the tab of what the Jays want in return for their ace.
To those of you who classify this move as stupid and
completely one sided, I agree with you. I think that even though Doc is an
incredible pitcher, at his prime at 32 years of age, he is not worth pitchers
like Bard and Buchholz, who have proven what they are capable of in the majors.
But, let’s not forget the Sox have made bold moves like this
before. As we were reminded by Kevin Karnan of the New York Post, the Sox
traded top prospects Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez to acquire Josh Beckett
and Mike Lowell, a move that got us a championship and our current ace in
That, added on to the Yankees’ interest in Halladay may be
the push the Sox to sacrifice “potential for production,” as put by Jon Lane of
the YES blog. The Yankees would be very keen to have Doc in their rotation,
since they have not received what they have expected from C.C. Sabathia and AJ
Burnett, and Joba having control problems. I shudder at that potential
scenario, for a rotation like that anchored by the one and only Mariano Rivera
would certainly strike fear in the AL.
Not to mention, they would love to beat the Sox to another
sweepstakes, as they did with 1B Mark Teixeira in the free agent market.
The Rangers are also in the race for Doc, but I highly doubt
they’ll want to deplete their highly envied farm system and dish out players
like Elvis Andrus, or that Doc will want to go to the one ballpark where he has
6.14 ERA. Besides, he has made it clear that he wants to be a serious contender
to a championship, and although Texas has a good team with players of the like
of All-Star Ian Kinsler, I doubt they’ll get past their first series in the
postseason, if they don’t crash and burn before that.
The other and probably most serious contender for Doc is
Philadelphia, and they have a serious offer. They’re keen on retaining they’re
crown, and adding Halladay to their rotation would certainly help them do just
It also play’s to the Phillies’ favor that Toronto doesn’t
seem keen in dealing Halladay to an AL team, much less AL East, as stated by
their own GM, JP Ricciardi.
All in all, I don’t see Theo dealing our prospects away, so
we’ll see what other kind of deals he can put together to try and convince the
Jays to let Doc stay in Bean-town for good.
The red sox are also in a difficult position with SS Julio
Lugo. It isn’t as much his fielding or batting average that puts the sox in a
compromising position as is his hefty contract and the 9 million he is still
owed. The best way out of this deal would be for the Sox to eat up most of his
contract and get something back while they’re at it. And, if they’re going to
make a move, they better do it fast, since Lugo has been assigned and their
time to either deal or release is running out.
However, even with Lugo’s dismal season in Boston this year,
there are clubs interested in him. It is rumored, through the Boston Herald,
that the Cubs, Cardinals and Mets all have shown interest in the shortstop, it
just needs to be seen what they offer in exchange.
It would be great to see the sox try for a solid third
baseman, not that there isn’t confidence in third baseman Lowell, but it would
be nice to see someone healthy with great range come in.
That; and a big bat would be great. And the one name that
comes to mind instantly is Evan Longoria. The all star third baseman would be
great at Fenway, not to mention it would be the protection Big Papi asked for
at the beginning of the season. Just imagine how spectacular that would be,
with two All Star sluggers in the lineup protected by Pedroia and followed by
Youk and Bay.
We’ll see what happens. There are still two weeks left of
rumors and trade talks, and don’t count the red sox out of the action. They
proved last year with the blockbuster move that sent Manny Ramirez to LA in
exchange for Jason Bay, that they aren’t afraid to make big moves in order to
achieve what’s best for the club. Hopefully, Epstein and Henry can make the
right call on this one.
As for tonight, let’s see how the sox fare up against Ian
Kinsler and his Rangers.
The Sox, currently atop the most hellish division in
baseball, the AL East, have possibly the best squad all around, at least as far
as pitching depth and prospects go.
They are very well rounded anywhere you look at it, starting
off in pitching. Led by Josh Beckett who is having a terrific season after last
season’s injury woes, Boston Pitching has proven all those spring training
speculations that it’s pitching depth would be the gem in the team. Lester,
flying under the radar, is also having a terrific year, handing terrific
outings every time he takes the mound. Wakefield, the veteran knuckleballer and
now All-Star pitcher is having a record-setting year, tying Roger Clemens for
most starts, which this year have been nothing but quality, flirting with no-no
history. Then they have Matsuzaka who is currently feeling the setbacks of the
World Baseball Classic, the most useless baseball tournament if you ask me, but
that will hopefully come back this second half as a rejuvenated Dice-K, and
give the sox that extra kick to finish atop the AL and get their third
Championship this decade. Brad Penny, who is submerged in trade rumors, has
been an excellent bargain, picked up from the Dodgers and giving an excellent
show of his stuff against the Yankees at Fenway this year. Smoltz has also been
a great asset to have, although I’m not all that convinced about him. Finally
comes Buchholz, who this past Friday showed the Sox and all of baseball that he
is more than ready for constant major league baseball.
Apart from this wonderful array of starting pitchers, the
sox also have their bullpen, who have kept a miniscule ERA this season,
anchored by a great closer in Jonathan Papelbon. Okajima, Masterson, DelCarmen
and Ramirez are all excellent proven setup men who can set the game on a golden
platter for Saito, who has also come as a great free-agent bargain or the flame
throwing Daniel Bard, who has absolutely electric stuff and has the potential
to become an anchor closer.
On the field, the Sox are a bit weaker, but still have great
On the bases, they have a jewel in first/third baseman Kevin
Youkilis. The Big Man from Ohio has been a great asset for the sox, having the versatility
to play first or third with absolutely no transition problems at all. This has
been very handy with an ailing Mike Lowell following his hip surgery, and he
has done a remarkable gold-glove deserving job at them. On second they have my
personal favourite, Dustin Pedroia. The current AL MVP and 2008/2009 All Star
is a tireless workhorse, who can also have a big bat and an excellent fielding
range, able to play excellent baseball on and off the bag. On shortstop, the
Sox finally got rid of the cancer, injury prone and error-happy mistake called
Julio Lugo, but have only Nick Green and Jed Lowrie to cover the hole. Although
Lowrie was supposed to be the number one choice since Spring Training, his
injured wrist is still an incognita and it is impossible to tell how good his
fielding range is going to be post-surgery, although he proved against the Blue
Jays that his switch batting is still intact. The Back-up, Nick Green did okay
when he had the spot, better than Lugo which is really not saying much at all.
Apart from the walk-off father’s day homer against the Braves at Fenway, his
at-bat is usually a for sure out, although he has shown an above-average range,
turning in a couple of double plays and some quick throws to get the out on
some difficult grounders. On third, there is the ailing but always reliable
2007 World Series MVP, Mike Lowell. The former Marlin has always been very
reliable, however, following his surgery his range has been limited and his bat
hasn’t been the same. Behind base is the anchor of the bases, the captain, Jason
Varitek, who has come back after testing the free agent waters, and proven to
be an invaluable asset behind the plate, in the clubhouse, and on the field in
In the outfield, the Sox have been blessed in finding Jason
Bay for left field. They have rid the clubhouse of the problem prone Man-Ram,
and brought along a big bat that has proven to be clutch in crucial occasions.
His fielding is much above average, manning the left field wall and foul line
extremely well and making some excellent outs on any fly ball that comes his
way. In center, the sox have found the optimal replacement for Johnny Damon and
Coco Crisp in Jacoby Ellsbury. Although his bat isn’t as strong as Damon’s, or
his experience as lengthy as Crisp’s, his fielding is great, his speed is
extraordinary, and his on base percentage just admirable. He is a monster
running the bases, and not to mention a threat while stealing. At right the sox
have J.D. Drew, nothing too remarkable, but he has come through with some very
At the designated hitter slot, we have the one and only Big
Papi, David Ortiz. Although he started ’09 in a funk, with a much expected
slump following right wrist surgery, he has awoken to slip right back into the
Big Papi of old, and not an old Big Papi. He has made up for lost time, belting
several home runs off the Green Monster and others in away games.
Off the bench, the sox have some versatility in players like
Rocco Baldelli, Mark Kotsay, and George Kottaras. Although the first two are
somewhat injury prone, Baldelli through cronic fatigue and Kotsay who can’t
seem to stay healthy to hold down a constant lineup slot, they have become
great assets to have, with Baldelli covering any outfield slot he is placed in
and Kotsay covering first base when Youk has been assigned to third. Kottaras
has also received more playing time, other than being Wakefield’s permanent
personal catcher. He has played a few games catching the likes of Matsuzaka,
with his wide array of pitches including his elusive forkball, sinker and
changeup, and Lester, showing some capability of managing a pitching staff.
At Bat is where the Sox have struggled this season, having
some slumping players and Tito changing the lineup every game. But when all
players are healthy, you should expect a threat all around the lineup.
Considering that all players are healthy and batting to
their capabilities, this is how the lineup would look like if I were managing
But Alas, I’m not, and I trust Francona to lead the sox to
another championship run.
Thanks for reading, constructive comments are always
Keep reading, I will update every time I can.