Monday, March 30, 2009

Going To Fenway

The wife and I are headed up to Fenway Park for Opening Day this year. I won the on-line lottery and snuck in under the wire to grab some of the last two tickets available to this year's first game. I'm assuming they were some of the last two tickets available, because they're located about as far from home plate as one can be in Fenway, which is to say far enough to note, but not far enough to complain about. Plus how can you complain about going to Opening Day at Fenway?

It's strange to say, but as a 33 year old, I find that traveling to Fenway is a bit like Christmas was as a kid. You always know how many days away it is. Ask a ten year old (who celebrates Christmas) how far away it is and chances are you'll get an answer similar to asking a mathematician what pie is.

After the seemingly endless Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, and a winter that seems to have taken even longer, this season can't start quickly enough. And I'm fortunate enough to be able to be there.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Dicek was on yesterday in a way we haven't really seen since the beginning of last season when he single-handedly slayed the Royals in KC. Actually, it took him until the second inning after giving up a right field dong to Jack Cust (of the Minor League Custs) to start dealing, but deal he did, striking out tons of the batters he faced (I don't have the numbers in front of me - I think he K'd 9) before getting close to 100 pitches and being removed by Terry Francona, who probably wouldn't approve of this run-on sentence.

Still, it was good to see him pitch that well, in light of Beckett and Schilling getting hurt (though hardly equally) and especially in light of the way he pitched in Japan. We can only hope that this signals the beginning of an extended stretch of quality pitching, rather than an isolated outing.

Youuuk also had a banner day, getting three hits including a triple that maybe, probably should've been caught by Emil Brown in left. Brown backed up to the wall and then leapt but the ball traveled just over his glove, caromed off the wall and back towards the infield allowing the ever speedy Youuuk three bases.

An odd play was Jason Varitek's two-run-homer-turned-one-run-double in seventh. The ball hit above the yellow 'homer' line above the out of town scoreboard. Balls that hit above that line, again, like Tek's, are homers, balls below remain in play, but four umps on the field and not one of them saw the ball hit above the yellow line. Makes you wonder what it was they were looking at.

Ump #1: "Man, this sure is a great booger... I hope I don't ever have to throw it away..."

Ump #2: "Hmmm... did I leave the stove on? Naw... well...? Noo... well? Hmmm..."

Ump #3: "Theres Johnson staring at his boogers again."

Ump #4: "Wow! Tek really got into that Oh! An eastern yellow-breasted robin!"

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I did a little research and believe it or not, the number 135 is a few other things besides Tom Gordon's ERA. 135 is:

  • a highway that goes through Topeka, Kansas.
  • an astrological aspect called a "sesquiquadrate," meaning when two planets are 135 degrees apart.
  • the name of standard 35mm film.
  • the number of prime numbers between the number 1,000 and the number 2,000.
  • the year King Espander took the thrown from Menander I in the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Thats 135 BC.
  • high enough that there is not a corresponding element on the periodic table.
  • 200 less than the 335 years war, which lasted 335 years.
  • 35 years longer than the hundred years war, which lasted 116 years.
  • the number of people killed in a truck bombing in Bagdad on February 4th.
  • the number of different kinds of PCDFs (no, I have no idea what a PCDF is).
  • the number of thousands of dollars which will be required to buy a flying saucer house in Tennessee. Seriously:
  • is CXXXV in roman numerals.


I.e a Red Sox game...

The Red Sox were on hiatus last night, waiting in Oakland for yet another Opening Day ceremony,so I made a point of watching some non-Red Sox Opening Day baseball. If yesterday was any indicator, an exciting season is in front of us.

I didn't get to watch all day (unfortunately), but I did flip around after I got home from work, and there seemed to be a large number of firemen setting fires in the later innings.

Maybe the most enjoyable moment was the utter predictability of watching Eric Gagne reprise his role as Game Destroyer Extraordinaire by blowing a three run lead to the Cubs in the ninth inning. The Cubs and Brewers went into the ninth tied 0-0. Cubs phenom-turned-injury-waiting-to-happen-turned-injured-turned-closer Kerry Wood took the mound and promptly gave up three runs. Then the Brewers Manager (Ned Yost?) sent in the team's newly minted $10M closer, Gagne, who proceeded to give up, in succession, a hard single, a four pitch walk, and a three run homer. Mission accomplished!

Then the Cubs gave the lead and the game back in the tenth.
The Cubs weren't the only team to come back only to lose. The Tigers came back from one run down to KC in the eighth inning to send the game into extra innings, only to lose in the eleventh inning. Neither of those games can approach the gut-wrenching-ness of the Phillies/Nats game however.

The Phillies were down 6-2, but came back to tie the game. (When I turned on the game it was 6-6.) Going into the top of the ninth, Phils manager Charlie Manual turned to soon-to-be-ex-closer Tom Gordon. Gordon out-did even Gagne by giving up five runs in the ninth while only recording one out. (For those of you scoring at home, that puts Gordon's ERA at a well-beyond-Gagne-esque 135.00.) Gordon was, rightly, yanked from the game and to my amazement, wasn't even booed on his way back to the dugout. The fans in Philly must have been in too much shock.

I didn't get to watch any of the Pirates/Braves game, but the Braves came back from a 9-4 deficit scoring five runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. Then gave up 3 in the in the top of the twelfth, then scored two in the bottom of that inning before leaving the tying run on base.

Hopefully the Sox win tonight 12-0, but at this rate, I wouldn't bet on anything.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Jon Lester didn't pitch well today, and the Red Sox lost the second game of the two game series in Japan to Oakland. Conversely Rich Harden did pitch well. In fact, the entire A's pitching staff threw well, striking out 13 Red Sox hitters while walking three and giving up five hits. The Sox managed their only run on Manny Ramirez's first homer of the year.

Its only two games in but David Ortiz is 0-the season. It looked on gamecast like he hit one to the wall in right field, but with gamecast who knows.

Anyway, the Red Sox winning streak, which began last October, ends at eight. Hopefully now we can get past this Japan trip and get back to normal.


One thing the Red Sox did well last season was avoid injuries. It doesn't appear as if they'll be so good/lucky this year. Already they're missing two of their top three starting pitchers, though it seems Josh Beckett will return shortly, and their starting right fielder. Their shortstop and one of their starting center fielders have spent time on the bench this spring with nagging injuries as well. This smells like a bad trend, but its early, so I'll reserve judgement. Hopefully the entire year won't be like this, because if it is theres not much chance of making the playoffs.


The next Red Sox game (that counts in the real standings) is Tuesday, April 1 in Oakland. Hopefully Rich Harden will have pulled something by then.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The Book of Manny

1:1 And in this, The Year of Manny (TYoM), Manny himself has seen fit to bless us with an opening day win.
1:2 And hey, Manny did look upon the game and see. Yo, the A's were winning. And He was pissed. But not so you'd really notice.
1:3 And he did emerge from the dugout.
1:4 And he did hit two doubles with a bunch of RBI on Opening Day. And lo the Red Sox did win, defeating Oakland 6-5.
1:5 And he did chew gum.

2:1 The Tale of Manny's Second Double: His second blast off the right center field wall was so titanic, so monumentus, so stupendous, that Manny himself was awed by it.
2:2 So awed, in fact, that his legs ceased to function properly.
2:3 Try as he might, Manny was unable to move forward. Only his arms, waiving in the air, worked as he desired. Then the ball did hit the wall.
2:4 Dunk.
2:5 And yeo,
2:6 Manny's legs began to move. And soon he was at second base.
2: And runs did cross the plate.
2:8 And he did smile.

2:8 (Also a bunch of other things happened.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I've been gone a while (as Chevy Chase says, I've been in a facility), but I'm back, baby. Its time for the season to start and I'll be here commenting on the games, the rumors, the players, the owners, the yankees, and whomever/whatever else I feel like. So check back here and see whats going on at FPE. Thanks! --MM


The 2008 season started the day after the 2007 World Series. Unlike the off season following the ’04 World Series win, Theo Epstein’s team didn’t experience a massive turnover. In fact, in stark contrast to that once-in-a-generation team, the Sox essentially stood pat. They resigned Mike Lowell to man third base for another three seasons, and they resigned Curt Schilling to what was thought to be a team-friendly one year deal. They also brought back the entire bullpen including side-armer Javier Vazquez and the semi-ageless Mike Timlin. They even resigned back-up catcher extraordinaire Doug Mirabelli, who they then cut.

So, the ’08 team is essentially the same as the ’07 team. Only the questions are different. “Can Papelbon pitch out of the rotation” has been replaced with “Can Curt Schilling get healthy enough to help this team at some point this year?’ “When will Lester and Buchholz be ready?” has been replaced with “Can Lester and Buchholz throw 180 innings a piece this season?”

Of course there are many more questions than that. Most of the questions center around the ages of the Red Sox players. Most of the important Sox players are either under 26 or over 32. This means that most of the players are either improving (i.e. not at their best yet) or declining. Manny, Big Papi, Varitek, Schilling (should he actually, you know, pitch this year), Wakefield and Lowell have all likely seen their best years go by. Ellsbury, Buchholz, Delcarmen, Papelbon, Lester, and Pedroia are all under 26. Generally that’s a good thing if you are trying to compete in a few years, but the Sox are trying to compete now.

Baseball Prospectus’s forecasting machine (yes, I know its not really a machine) puts the Red Sox at 91 wins this year. That might be enough for a Wild Card, but it won’t catch the 98 win Yankees. Other forecasters aren’t even that sanguine on the Sox, seeing them as a sub-90 win team.

Of course, other teams have their questions as well. The Yankees aren’t any younger than the Sox and are also trying to integrate youth into their team. The Blue Jays have their typical mediocre offense and if-they-can-only-stay-healthy-they-might-actually-be-good pitching staff. The Rays are too young with not quite enough pitching (though BP says 88 wins for them this season – we’ll see). The O’s… well, if you don’t have anything nice to say…

So, it’ll be competitive in the AL East, but when is it not? If the Sox play up to their potential, stay healthy, and their young pitching comes through without too many problems, this can be another AL East winner. If injuries slow the team down, and too many players have down years, then this could be a third place team.

So, without further ado, here’s my player by player breakdown of the 2008 Red Sox.

The Outfield

JD Drew

Drew had some well-documented problems last season. However, if you forget his salary for a second (difficult as that may be), he turned in an above average season last year. First of all, he was healthy. If he stays healthy this year there is every reason to believe that he will turn in a better year. Secondly, Drew’s on-base skills keep him useful in the lineup even when he isn’t hitting. (This is why plate discipline is such an important skill.)

However, among the problems last season, Drew’s power disappearing was the most problematic. For Drew to be more than an above average player, he is going to have to hit more than ten or eleven homers as he did last year.

While its pretty clear at this point that Drew isn’t going to be worth the money he will be paid, that ship has sailed. Drew is still a good player with important skills that help the Red Sox win.

Jacoby Ellsbury/Coco Crisp

Crisp turned in one of the great defensive years in center field last year. It’s a shame it was combined with one of the more anemic offensive years I’ve seen in a while. Crisp didn’t get on base much, and didn’t hit for power or average. Still, his defense was so good that he won the Sox two games (not an insignificant amount) with his glove alone.

Ellsbury is in many ways like Crisp, but with upside. This season there is likely to be little difference in their final stats. Crisp will likely be better on defense while Ellsbury will be a bit better on offense. Still, Ellsbury is the future in center for Boston. He has the ability to improve his power and on-base numbers, and if he can do either he’ll be a legit above average center fielder for many years. If he can do both, he’s an all-star. If he does neither, he’s Coco Crisp.

The Sox have been looking to deal Coco this off season, but there was a glut of center fielders on the market, and so a trade hasn’t materialized yet.

In either case, for 2008 the Red Sox will have a good defensive center fielder who probably doesn’t hit enough.

Manny Ramirez

Manny had a down year in 2007. Of course it didn’t hurt the Sox much as they won the World Series (did you hear about that?). For the Sox to be successful this year, they will likely need Manny to return to his old Bad Man self. Whether or not he can do that is the question. BP says he can’t. Manny says he can. In fact, Manny dedicated himself to working out all off season to make sure he would be good enough to have his $20M option exercised. We’ll see. Manny’s slugging percentage dropped about 130 points between ’06 and ’07 and his on-base percentage dropped 50 points. That’s not something you want to see out of a guy entering his age 36 season.

Still, if anyone can bounce back after last year, its Manny. If Manny fulfills Pecota’s prediction and hits slightly worse than last season, then its time for the Sox to say good-bye. As a Sox fan, I have to believe that last year is the anomaly, but you never know when someone is going to hit the wall. Age always wins in the end. Hopefully Manny has a few more seasons of ass kicking left in him.

The Infield

Mike Lowell

Lowell had a great year last season, but theres little question he was playing over his head. The increase in Lowell’s rate stats was driven by an increase in his BABIP, something which isn’t likely to continue in ’08. Of course, Lowell’s swing is made for Fenway Park like few others, so its unlikely he’ll fall off the table completely, but don’t expect another 2007 season from Mikey Doubles. That said, Lowell’s steady defense and his doubles power mean he’ll likely continue to be a productive player going forward. Just think 2006 Mike Lowell.

Julio Lugo

Lugo is a prime example of the dangers of the free agent market. The Sox weren’t able to develop a starting shortstop of their own, so they had to go buy someone else’s. Of course, like Drew, if you forget his salary… wait, that doesn’t work here either. With the caveat that defensive numbers aren’t exact, Lugo had a bad year in the field to go with his atrocious year at the plate. A sub-.300 on-base percentage this season is going to bring Jed Lowrie up from Pawtucket. For some reason, BP thinks Lugo is going to improve both offensively and defensively. That’s not anything I’d put money on. The four year deal that Lugo signed is going to end with him playing somewhere else, and the Sox are going to have to eat some money to get that done. I wouldn’t be surprised or upset if Lugo finished this season elsewhere.

Dustin Pedroia

I’m in the tank for DP. This guy is the real deal. He gets on base, hits for power, though at least some of that is Fenway Park, and plays a good second base. Also, he’s completely crazy. And who doesn’t love having a crazy guy (as long as he isn’t, you know, sacrificing donkeys in the clubhouse or something) on their team? Pedroia is going to be the Sox second baseman for a long time, and he’s going to make some all-star teams in the process too. This guy is better than Cano in NY, and he’s better than Brian Roberts in Baltimore. But then, take what I’m saying with a grain of salt, because I’m in the tank for DP.

Kevin Youkilis

Youk is a great Red Sox. He fields excellently, and gets on base. But he’s not an all-star. In fact, this may be Youk’s last year in Boston. I’m not advocating getting rid of him, but, believe it or not, he turns 30 next season, right about the time when he’ll be getting expensive. But that’s (probably) an issue for another time. For 2008, Youk will be fine. He’ll field well, hit fine, and get on base well. He’s perfectly adequate, if not all-star material.


Jason Varitek

Varitek is going into the last year of his contract. Again. The 4 year $40M deal he signed after ’04 looks like it was money well spent. But what are the chances that Tek has four more good-to-above-average years left in him? Probably not good, but the Sox don’t have much choice.

For ’08, as long as Tek stays healthy the Sox will be above average at catcher. If he gets hurt, more than any other position, the Sox will be in big big trouble.

Kevin Cash?

Know this about Cash: he can’t hit. I don’t mean he can’t hit like he’s a bad hitter for a major leaguer, I mean he can’t hit like you can’t hit. Like I can’t hit. This guy simply can’t hit. He’s a fine fielding catcher, but (did I mention) he can’t hit. There is no way the Sox are going to run this guy out there more than ten times before they find another option. I simply can’t believe it. Some teams are dumb enough to torpedo themselves from within, but the Sox aren’t one of them. Someone will replace Cash, but I have no idea who.

Designated Hitter

David Ortiz

Big Papi is getting older, but don’t forget he is coming off his best (yes, best) offensive season ever. If he can stay healthy, he’s one of the top five hitters in the game.


The Sox offense should be solidly above average again this season, but how much above average is going to depend on injuries (duh) and aging. Is’07 the standard going forward for Manny and Drew? Can Varitek stay healthy? Will Lugo improve or will the Sox be forced to look elsewhere at shortstop?

The Rosey Outlook

The Sox mostly avoid injuries while Manny and Drew reemerge as the all-stars they were before last season. Pedroia and Ellsbury build on last year’s performances, while Lugo rebounds and Youk keeps his steady pace. Papi replicates last season. The Sox score 850 runs and with their plus defense and great pitching they win the division again.

Piles of Poop

Injuries over-take Varitek. Lowell falls back to earth hard. Lugo, Manny and Drew replicate their ’07 seasons. Pedroia and Ellsbury aren’t able to improve on their last seasons. The Sox offense falls into middle-of-the-pack-ness and isn’t enough to push the team into the playoffs.

Da Truth

Last year the team was charmed, not in terms of performance, but in terms of injuries. The team will likely have to deal with more injuries this season (they already are, in fact), but the depth they have accumulated will help them, as long as the injuries don’t mount to an August ’06 level. Improvements from Manny, Drew, and Lugo should offset drops from Lowell, Varitek, and (God forbid) Papi. Overall, the Sox offense should be able to replicate last year’s level of play.

Friday, February 29, 2008


Spring training is in full swing, and workouts have given way to the first games of the year. We've got our first blowouts (Red Sox 24, Boston College 0), our first nail-biters (Red Sox 15, Northeastern 0, wait...never mind), and of course, our first loudmouth sighting. The Yankees (you knew this was coming, right?) Joba Chamberlain, whom it hasn't taken much effort to begin disliking, is setting himself up as the player version of Hank Steinbrenner.

Yes, thats an insult.

Chamberlain, who with a first name like "Joba" obviously has trouble keeping his mouth closed, is talking smack already. Not to the Red Sox (yet), and not to his teammates (that we know of), but to players from the University of South Florida. Because... they... uh... nope, I got nothing.

Speaking at the U.S.F. banquet, Chamberlain said he’d buy dinner to the USF leadoff man if he manages to get on base. One of the reporters asked, 'What if he gets a hit?' “That ain’t gonna happen," said an obviously drunk-with-himself Chamberlain.

Its going to be fun sticking it to this blowhard in 2008.