Friday, June 29, 2007

I'M GOING TO BOSTON!! (also, Red Sox win)

I'm going to Boston to see the Red Sox play the Rangers on Saturday night! As a result, I won't be blogging either Saturday or most of Sunday. Check back Sunday night or Monday though for more exciting FPE and hopefully some pictures from the game.

In more pertinent news, the Red Sox held on to beat the Rangers 2-1 tonight behind some terrific pitching. Wakefield gave up one run through 6.2 innings, but when he allowed consecutive runners on, Francona went to his bullpen for.... (drum roll)... Manny Delcarmen? Yes! Manny Delcarmen came into the game. He did his typical Manny Delcarmen thing by walking the first guy he faced (to load the bases), and then striking Sammy Sosa out on a full count 97mph fastball.

If Delcarmen can just figure out where his fastball is going he's going to be a hell of a pitcher. Of course, he's 25 and hasn't figured it out yet, so who knows if he ever will. I was pretty surprised that Francona brought him into protect a one run lead with runners on base, but at the same time it was pretty interesting too. Probably like Francona, I was thinking, "Lets see how the kid does." And he did OK. I don't know how I feel about the precedent that this sets, but I like that Francona showed some confidence in a guy who has such impressive stuff. I like it even more that Delcarmen came through.

After that Okajima came into the game and he was his typical self (1-2-3 inning). Yawn.

Then came Papelbon.

Paps struck out the first guy on three pitches (fast, split, fast). He fell behind the next guy 2-0 before getting him to line hard to J.D. Drew in right field. The ball was crushed, but Drew got a good jump on it and caught it at the warning track.

Then, after a long at-bat, Kenny Lofton hit a roller to the right side and barely beat Papelbon to the bag. Pap's immediate reaction was to start screaming at the first base ump for missing the call (which he probably didn't, but the replay wasn't conclusive). Fortunately, Dustin Pedroia grabbed him and pulled him away, because judging by the expression on the umpire's face, it looked like Paps was about to make a quick exit from the game.

On a side note, this is a disturbing trend with the Red Sox. I've seen Big Papi get on the umpires a lot this season, even getting himself thrown out of a game. I'm all for competitiveness, and obviously both Ortiz and Papelbon care a lot whether the Red Sox win or not (as do I; otherwise I wouldn't waste my time writing this blog). But, it crosses the line when a player threatens the team's welfare by being hot-headed with the umpires. Both Ortiz and Papelbon need to cool it down a bit.

Papelbon, probably still seething from what he thought was an incorrect call at first, went to 3-1 on the next hitter before hitting him in the wrist. After that he seemed to channel his anger a bit at Michael Young whom he struck out to end the game.

Papelbon looked alternately super and lousy last night. He looked good when he threw his fastball, sometimes when he threw the split, and lousy when he threw anything else. He threw a couple off speed pitches that were real hangers just waiting to be crushed (one to Young and one to Lofton), but fortunately for Papelbon, they were fouled off.

Speaking of Michael Young, I was surprised to see tonight that he really isn't a very good shortstop. Either that or he just had a bad night, but it looked more like the first and less like the second.

There were at least three times tonight when a good shortstop would have completed double plays against the Red Sox, but Young failed each time. The first was on a deep hard hit grounder by Wily Mo Pena, which resulted in a Red Sox run. The second was on a come-backer to the pitcher who turned and made a perfect throw to Young covering second, but Young couldn't get the ball to first in time as Youk beat it out. The third was when Young double clutched on a grounder in the second inning. Thats not too good for a guy who is signed until 2013 and due to be paid $85M over that time period. I know he's mostly paid for his hitting, but if he can't field now (and the numbers back me up on this), what are the Rangers going to do with him in 2013?

Also of note, NESN put up a graphic showing how Tim Wakefield has some of the smallest run support in the big leagues. Shortly after posting this information, the Red Sox loaded the bases with one down. As luck would have it Doug Mirabelli was the hitter. He K'd on three straight fastballs down the middle, which made me think, "Ah, now I know why Wake gets no run support." I know Mirabelli can catch the knuckler, but what are we going to do about the guy at the plate? He's terrible. He's actually worse than Julio Lugo. You didn't know that was possible, did you?

AL East: The Yankees won, while the O's and Rays lost. The Blue Jays are still playing (losing 2-1 as of this writing). As of now, the Red Sox lead the division by 10.0 games over Toronto, 11.0 games over New York, 14.5 over Baltimore, and 16.0 over Tampa

Tomorrow (Saturday): Josh Beckett takes the mound
trying to win the series for Boston. The Rangers will send Robinson Tejada to oppose him. Game time 7:05pm. Look for the screaming guy in the Red Sox hat; thats me!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007



AL East: Yankees smell like poo

Tomorrow (Thursday): Nu't honey

Monday, June 25, 2007


Every team gets a stinker now and again, and the Red Sox just took theirs for this month. Julian Tavarez started well, but quickly devolved into, well... Julian Tavarez. After giving up what seemed like a billion base runners in the course of blowing a 2-1 lead, he left with the score 4-2, Mariners and the bases loaded. With one out, in came Kyle Snyder, who got the first guy to pop up, but then walked the next two guys forcing in two runs. Snyder got the next guy, but five runs had come across.

With the game close to being termed "out of reach" Francona brought in Mike Timlin to pitch the seventh. Heres how his inning went: four pitch walk, ground ball out, homer, homer, out, single, line drive out.

Deficit Before Timlin: 4 runs
Deficit After Timlin: 7 runs

Mission Accomplished!

The Sox offense was better, but not good enough. They got runners on base, but couldn't get the big hit, or really any hit, leaving 8 guys in scoring position and going 2-12 with runners in scoring position. This despite the fact that the opposing starting pitcher was named "Jeff Weaver."

One final note on this stinker of a game: A big F U to the Mariners broadcasters who seemed to take perverse pleasure in showing upset Sox fans in the stands and then mocking them towards the end of the game. I found their behavior unprofessional, and I hope they have to sit through a bunch of games wherein their team gets blown out. Preferably starting tomorrow.

The Mariners also hit Jason Varitek twice. This should not stand.

AL East: The Yankees and Orioles were off. Tampa and Toronto are both still in progress as of this writing.

Tomorrow (Tuesday): Kason Gabbard vs. Felix Hernandez

I'll be out of town tomorrow and as such won't be posting on tomorrow's game. I should be able to post again Wednesday night. As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Taking two of three from San Diego is a difficult feat. Doing it on the road is harder, and doing it against the Padres three best pitchers with the back end of your rotation is especially so. Yet, the Red Sox over came all those obstacles today by beating the best pitcher in the National League, Jake Peavey, on his home turf, 4-2.

Josh Beckett deserves the lion's share of the credit. The sole blemish on his afternoon was a two run double by Termel Sledge, which sounds more like a disease than a ballplayer. Beyond that the Padres never stood a chance. Beckett dominated, striking out eight in eight innings while only walking one.

The much anticipated match up between Beckett and Peavey lived up to its hype for a few innings, but the Sox rallied in the third. After getting Beckett to start the inning, the Sox strung together five hits with a Manny Ramirez RBI flyout to deep right sandwiched in for good measure. The cumulative effect of those hits and the flyout was three ru
ns for the Red Sox, which would prove to be enough in the end. Jonathon Papelbon put his stamp on the ninth, striking out two of three.

J.D. Drew, Alex Cora, and Jason Varitek had two hits apiece. Varitek's hits were Boston's only extra base hits on the day. Tek tripled in the second, and homered in eighth. Inserted into the lineup to give Dustin Pedroia a day off, Cora got on base four out of five times, singling twice, walking and getting hit by the pitch.

Every starter got a hit off of Peavey, even Beckett, except one. Can you guess who? In case you can't, I'll give you another hint:
In what is quickly approaching some sort of record for futility, he extended his streak of not getting a hit to 26 straight at-bats. This can't go on for much longer.

AL East: In brighter news, the Yankees lost again, 7-2 in San Francisco. The loss pushes them back below .500 and, combined with Toronto's win, back to third place in the AL East, 11.5 games behind Boston. Tampa also won, while Baltimore lost. The Red Sox lead Toronto by 11.0 games, Tampa by 14.5, and Baltimore by 16.5.

Tomorrow (Monday): The Red Sox head up to Seattle to meet the Mariners for a three game series. His Craziness, Julian Tavarez gets the start for Boston, while the Mariners send Jeff Weaver to the mound. Weaver has been stupendously awful this season up to his last start, where he was oddly effective, pitching a complete game four hitter against Pittsburgh. Hopefully the Red Sox can put a stop to that silliness at 10:05pm EST.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Not much to say about this.

I'll give you the typical losers rant when I say the following: The umpires were abominable. All of them. The third base ump missed two cruitial calls, the first base ump missed a couple close plays at first, and the home plate umpire was handing out strikes to anyone who came anywhere near the plate, long as they had an "SD" on their hat.
The home plate ump's strike zone was huge allowing San Diego's pitcher, Chris Young, much extra help that he really didn't need.

The Red Sox didn't lose because of the umps, but that doesn't mean they weren't really bad anyway.

Still, Wakefield wasn't at his best. He was serviceable through five, but gave up back to back homers in the sixth. That made the score 6-0, and that was pretty much it. The Sox did put up a mini-rally in the ninth which netted a run, (it would have been two, but Mike Lowell's homer was knocked back into the park by Mike Cameron). But there were two outs before anything happened which kinda killed any suspense.

Tomorrow we kick their arses...

AL East: Yankees lost, so the Sox don't lose any ground to them. Tampa and Toronto won, and Baltimore is losing. The Sox are still 10.5 games up on the Yankees and more on the rest of the division.

Tomorrow (Sunday): The Red Sox try to take the series from San Diego. They send Josh Beckett against the Padres Jake Peavey. Should be a goodie. Game time 4pm.

Man, the home plate umpire was really piss poor tonight...


I'm pretty exhausted, so this is going to be a short post. I was up at 5:30am this morning, and it is now 1:30am. Time for sleepy...

The Sox beat the Padres at their own game tonight, out-pitching the best pitching team in the NL, and winning by a score of 2-1. The Padres scored in the first inning but couldn't score again. Papelbon, Okajima, Lopez, and Delcarmen combined to hold the Fathers scoreless through the final three innings, after Matsuzaka departed.

As for Matsuzaka, he was his typical maddening self. Striking guys out right and left (he had nine in six innings), but walking almost as many (five including the first three hitters he faced). Somehow he managed to wriggle free of that situation after only giving up a single run. Combined, Sox pitchers struck out 13 Padre hitters.

As good as the Sox pitchers were, thats how lackluster the Sox hitters were. They did pick up eight hits on the night (three of them by Coco Crisp), but all but one were singles (Manny doubled) which made for a low scoring night.

The only inning where they scored was the fourth. They strung together a series of singles by Pedroia, Manny, Youk, and Tek. That produced two runs, and thats all they'd get. Fortunately, it was all they'd need.

Just enough to be at a good Padre team on the road. I'll take it. Good night!

AL East: Toronto, Baltimore, Boston and New York all won. Tampa lost. The Red Sox maintain their 10.5 game lead over New York and the rest of the division.

Tomorrow: Tim Wakefield vs. Chris Young. Game time 10:05pm EST!

Friday, June 22, 2007


[edit: Reader Travis pointed out something that anyone with half a brain would have noticed, which of course leaves out yours truly, and that is I left out the #3 team. I've gone back through the post and fixed it. Thanks to Travis for having half a brain and pointing out the mistake to those of us who are less fortunate.]

I've long thought that baseball's post season is set up badly, but last year convinced me. The fact that the Cardinals even made the playoffs, let alone won it, cheapens the entire exercise. Its not that I dislike the Cardinals, its just I need the team that wins the World Series to actually earn it, not just benefit from the lucky bounces of a well-timed hot streak in the middle of a sea of mediocrity.

I have a few suggestions. I would reconfigure the entire playoff system using these guiding rules:

1) The team with the better record and thus higher seed deserves more than a single home game reward. They deserve a big home field advantage. Not just four out of seven, but five or six out of even (gasp!) seven games at their home park. There should be a legitimate reward for finishing ahead in the standings, otherwise you devalue the entire 162 game season.

2) Give the top teams "byes" until the later rounds. This makes things easier for TV as well as making life easier for the better teams and harder for the worse teams. It also gives us, the audience, a chance to really focus on an underdog team through the trials and tribulations of the playoffs from start to finish. Should we, you know, want to do that.

I would organize it like this:

1) Five teams from each league would make the playoffs (ranked 1-5, best to worst).

2) Team #4 and Team #5 would play a one game playoff to see who goes on to the next round. The advantage here is this single elimination game likely removes the best pitcher from the winning team, which benefits the better team waiting in the wings for the winner. Plus its exciting.

3) The winner of the 4/5 game plays a seven game series against Team #3. Team #3 would have as many as 5 or 6 games in their home park to give them a large advantage. Over time, this would give teams incentive to spend in order to get these precious home games in the playoffs instead of simply being rewarded by lucking into a spot, like the Cardinals last season.

4) The winner of that series plays a seven game Championship series against #2. Team #2 would receive the same home advantage that Team #3 did in the previous series. If a further advantage was desired, the league could even let Team #2 decide which games it would rather have played at its park beforehand (for instance, Team #2 could say before the series that it wants games 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7 played in its home park, or any other combination).

5) The winner of that match up plays Team #2 in a seven game series, with the same advantages and disadvantages described above.

6) The winner plays Team #1 in a Championship Series.

7) The winners of the ALCS and NLCS play a nine game World Series. Elongating the series further helps weed out the better teams, and helps make up for any lost TV time that the better teams didn't receive for finishing first in their leagues.

The goal here is to reward the teams that are successful over the 162 game season while increasing the number of teams that make the playoffs at the same time. If the Cardinals were to make it through a system like this, nobody could say it was cheap.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 21, 2007


In an article about Curt Schilling's injury, the New York Times stated the following:
The Red Sox, who used 14 starting pitchers in 2006, have ridden a superb rotation of Schilling, Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Julián Tavárez to a comfortable lead despite lackluster production from the sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramírez. (emphasis mine)

After an admittedly slow start, Manny Ramirez has reverted to... well, Manny Ramirez. His lackluster production so far: .300/.401/.498. Also, he has three homers in the last four games. How dare he produce so lacklustery.

David Ortiz is another story. He has sucked this season, to the tune of .332/.449/.613. Ortiz is third in the AL in on-base percentage. He is third in the AL in slugging percentage. If that is sucking, imagine what Derek Jeter is doing. All those t-shirts were right after all!

Yeah, these guys have been real problems for the Red Sox. Its amazing they've been able to win at all.

OK, I'm done now. Good night.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


His Craziness, Julian Tavarez was awesome (and crazy) tonight as the Sox led from the first batter of the game to the last. The Sox had 15 hits and 4 walks for 37 total bases. Three hits by Manny, two by Coco, Pedroia, Drew, Pena, and one by Papi, Hinske, Varitek, and Youk. Homers were hit by Drew (to lead off the game), Papi, Manny, Hinkse, and Coco. Doubles by Pedroia (2), Manny, Drew, and Pena. Basically the Sox kicked the crap out of Atlanta.

In contrast, Atlanta managed only five hits despite getting to face Joel Pineiro and Mike Timlin in the last two innings. Somehow Timlin managed a 1-2-3 ninth. The ESPN announcers said that this was the first time Atlanta has been shut out in consecutive games since 2003.

The news wasn't all good though. J.D. Drew left the game after doubling and scoring in the top of the second. The Globe is reporting that he has a quad injury and is day to day (required retort: Aren't we all?). Personally, I think Francona came down with a case of Time To Rest A Player With A Seven Run Lead (TTRAPWASRL for those in the know). Hopefully we see Drew back in the lead off spot Friday in San Diego.

I was disappointed to see Drew come out of the game because he has really started to hit the ball with some sting. More good news on the Maybe This Guy Doesn't Suck front: The same can be said for Coco. I'm not sure if the change in his stance is to blame, but Coco has looked terrific in this series. He is hitting line drives and hitting with power. He only went 2-5 today (not that I'm complaining), but hit the ball with authority almost every at-bat.

The win is good, taking a series in Atlanta is great, and the Coco and J.D. beginning to crush a bit is even better. Now all we need is a new left arm for Curt and a new shortstop... I'm sorry, I just couldn't leave well enough alone...

AL East: The Yankees lost their second in a row to Colorado. Andy Pettitte was pitching a two hitter through five, but fell apart a bit in the sixth and the rest of the way in the seventh. He wound up giving up 6 runs in 6.2 innings, including a towering homer to Matt Holiday which traveled completely over the left field stands. Tampa also lost, while Toronto crushed the Dodgers 12-1. The Orioles are winning in San Diego. With their win, Boston's lead over New York is back to 10.0 games. They lead Toronto by 11.5, Tampa by 14.5 and Baltimore (giving them credit for a win tonight) by 16.0 games.

Tomorrow: The Sox will enjoy an off day in beautiful San Diego on Thursday. They'll spend the day resting up for a three game set with the Fathers, and maybe drinking a few brews in the Gaslamp District.


The Boston Globe is reporting that Curt Schilling will be placed on the disabled list. As reader Brandon astutely pointed out in the comments section of the previous post, Josh Beckett will move up in the rotation to take his place. Thanks to a rare and well placed off-day for the team, Beckett will pitch on regular rest.

What remains to be seen is who will take Schilling's place next week. It might not be anyone. Thursday the 28th is another off-day on the schedule, meaning that the Sox don't have to make any moves at all to fill that hole in the rotation either. Beckett could pitch that Saturday (the 30th) as well. By my count, Schilling would be eligible to return on Wednesday, July 3rd, assuming the move is retroactive to his last start.

Because of the off-days, the Sox only need to fill one day in early July. The All-Star break (July 9-11) saves their bacon, assuming no rain outs.


This is a good thing too, because Jon Lester didn't look so hot today. He's been pretty good in AAA ball so far, but he is still walking a lot of guys and throwing a lot of pitches. I didn't get to watch it, but I did follow the game on gamecast. From a very distant perspective (that of my living room) Lester still seems to have a ways to go before he's ready for the majors.


UPDATE: according to the Boston Globe (whom else?):
...the Sox will use Josh Beckett Sunday in San Diego and Julian Tavarez Monday. The Sox will then need a pitcher for Tuesday, and that could be either someone from Pawtucket (Jon Lester?) or it could be someone from within.


Curt Schilling did his weekly radio appearance on WEEI in Boston this morning. In it, he said he likely wouldn't be pitching this Sunday against Jake Peavey in San Diego. As much of a shame as that is, I would like to discuss what the Red Sox will and should do going forward.

There are two scenarios at work here. One is if Curt misses only one start. In that case, the Sox would likely bring up one of either Kason Gabbard, who acquitted himself so well in his last start in Boston, or Jon Lester. Schilling would then get his next scheduled start, which would be on June 30th in Boston versus Texas.

However, the more likely scenario is that Schilling is going to miss more than one start. Right now that looks like a good possibility simply based on whats coming out of Boston. If that is the case then its a whole different issue because the Sox will try to find someone who can make multiple starts for them thus minimizing necessary roster moves.

Both Clay Bucholtz and Jon Lester are scheduled to start games this afternoon for AA Portland and AAA Pawtucket, respectively. If they both go as scheduled, then starting again this Sunday would only allow for four days between starts. (Three actual days, but today's day game and Sunday's night game means 96 hours will have elapsed between the starts.) If either are held out or severely limited in the number of pitches they throw, that would be a strong indication as to who the Sox are planning to give the start(s) to, as well as Schilling's health.

Bucholtz is the wild card, so to speak. He has been dominating AA ball, but isn't on the 40 man roster. Bringing him up would require some roster shuffling, and the Red Sox likely don't want to do that. Lester is on the roster, so he would be much easier to give the start to.

Gabbard last pitched on the 16th for Pawtucket. He is likely in line to pitch for Pawtucket at Indianapolis tomorrow (the 21st). There would not be enough rest time between starts for him, so he would also have to work on a severe pitch count, or have his start skipped. If nothing happens to alter today's starts by either Lester or Bucholtz then Gabbard is the likely answer.

To me, and of course depending on his health, Jon Lester should be the first guy they go with to take Schilling's spot in the rotation. If his health isn't where it should be yet then I would love to see Bucholtz get the start, but as previously stated, the Red Sox likely don't want to demote anyone from their 40 man roster. This would mean risking losing some player to another team in exchange for just one start. Only if Schilling will likely be out for a good while (say, at least three starts) and if Lester's stamina/health isn't yet to their liking, could the Sox opt for Bucholtz.

The interesting part for me is that I happen to have tickets to the Red Sox game on the 30th. As of now, Schilling is penciled in to start that game against Texas. But, if he misses his start this Sunday, and it seems he will, it will be interesting to see what the Red Sox do with the opportunity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Some game notes on the Red Sox 4-0 win in Atlanta:

* The Red Sox got jobbed really badly in the top of the second inning. After a Kevin Youkilis single, Jason Varitek grounded into a double play. Except replay showed that both Youkilis at second and Varitek at first were safe! In retrospect it wasn't even that close. The ever sucky Edgar Renteria fielded the ball at shortstop and decided to take it himself to second, but he clearly threw the ball to first before actually stepping on second base, thus Youk should have been safe. Renteria's early throw to first bounced in the dirt allowing Varitek to beat the throw by a step. Still, both were called out. I can see missing one call, but missing two calls on one play like that is inexcusable. What should have been a first and second situation with one out for Boston was unceremoniously squelched by terrible umping.

* When exactly did Lenny Harris learn how to hit?

* Later another errant throw and a good call by the first base umpire resulted in what should have been the second error on Renteria, but was officially the first.

* After reaching on the error by Renteria, Drew was thrown out at second when Francona inexplicably called for a hit-and-run play. Of course, the next batter was Big Papi, who hit a homer.

* Interesting call by Bobby Cox in the top of the fourth. With runners on second and third and two outs Cox elected to intentionally walk Jason Varitek and load the bases to get to Coco Crisp. Varitek has been anemic recently, and Crisp hit two homers yesterday. As has been the case so often in the past 15 years, Cox was right and Crisp grounded out weakly to second.

* In the top of the third inning, Tim Hudson set the Red Sox down in order on eight pitches. In the bottom of the fourth, Josh Beckett set the Braves down in order on six pitches.

* Francona wisely elected to start Alex Cora instead of Julio "the Human out" Lugo. Cora managed a triple, scored a run and had an RBI fly ball to score Varitek.

* Josh Beckett roped a double in the top of the fifth inning to score Cora after his triple, and then came around to score on Dustin Pedroia's single.

* Someone should ask Cora how he knew that Coco Crisp would catch the ball when he laid out to get Tim Hudson's drive in the bottom of the fifth. Watch the replay and you can see Cora putting his arm in the air to celebrate a great catch before Crisp even left his feet to catch the ball.

* Bad luck for the Red Sox that the rain delay came when it did and lasted as long as it did. Beckett was rolling through the Braves lineup, but no manager who wants to keep his job sends his 27 year old ace back out after a fifty minute rain delay.

Beckett only threw 88 pitches through six innings, striking out three, walking two, and giving up only four hits. Instead of Beckett sucking up two more innings, Francona went with Snyder, Okajima and Papelbon, his three best bullpen pitchers for the final three innings. This means likely only the already over-worked Okajima will be available for the rubber match tomorrow. Although Papelbon only threw ten pitches in the ninth.

AL East: Toronto got smoked by the Dodgers, 10-1. As of this writing, the Yankees, Rays, and O's games are still in progress. Thus the Sox lead New York and the rest of the division by 8.5 games. [edit: Colorado beat the Yankees 3-1. The Red Sox lead them and the division by 9.0 games.]

Tomorrow (Wednesday): His Craziness, Julian Tavarez takes the mound to try and win the series for the Sox. Someone named Buddy Carlyle goes for Atlanta. Game time 7:35pm.


After Curt Schilling was beaten up on the field of play yesterday, there was much speculation in the blogosphere, the media, and even by Chipper Jones that Schilling must be pitching hurt. Well, the other shoe just dropped on this one. The Boston Globe is reporting that Schilling is headed back to Boston for an MRI on his arm. Will Carroll will tell you that "arm" isn't very specific, that could be anything, but thats all we know for now.

Certainly there will be more to come on this.

As I noted to a friend today, putting Curt on the DL for a few starts, even if the MRI doesn't find anything (and I hope there isn't anything to find), wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for the player or the team. Clay Bucholtz and Jon Lester are both ready for the majors right now, so this would give the Red Sox an opportunity to both rest Schilling and see what the youngsters can give us.


Curt Schilling... sigh...

One start he's got no-hit stuff, well, for 8.2 innings anyway, and another start he's got no-strikeout stuff, well, for 4.1 innings anyway, before Francona justifiably yanked him. He didn't have anything on his fastball and therefore his split was shit. (Look at me! I'm the rhyming blogger!) This means he had a difficult time getting anyone out. The Braves got a number of dinky little hits off Ol' Curt which inflated their numbers against him, but the truth of the matter is they also got a bunch of big hits off him, too.

As tempting as it is to freak the heck out (this is a family site, we don't swear here unless it rhymes), the answer is probably that Ol' Schil just had a very bad day, just as two weeks ago he simply had a very good day. The truth lies in the middle
for Curt. (Whereas, politically, the lies come from the right) (I'm a parenthesizing monster today, huh?) He is 41 and not named "Clemens" or "Ryan" so its likely that his days of regularly K'ing 10 or more are behind him. That doesn't mean that he can't be a good pitcher on a regular basis though. And with the Sox offense supporting him, he should be able to keep his team "in the game" proverbially speaking more times than not.

Tune in five days from now when another Schilling stinker has me renouncing the "family blog" label to the tune of 1,500 swears a minute.

This may still be a good time to rethink the power ranking of the starting pitching. Baseball Prospectus says the Red Sox have a 94.6% chance to make the post-season, so its not too early to make note of who should get the call come game #1. Of course, theres still about 100 games yet to go, too.

On another note entirely, apologies for not posting the last few days. Its been a hectic weekend here at FPE HQ. Hopefully things calm down a notch soon. In the meantime, I'll do my best to keep posting updates after Sox games with some analysis thrown in from time to time, same as I always try do here.

One way or the other, thanks for reading. Its much appreciated.

AL East: The Yankees just keep winning, and with the lineup and rotation they have this is what we should expect from them going forward. They are old, so they will get injured (a bit) and they do have steroid cheats on their team, so they will get suspended (maybe), but they also have a ton of talent, so they will win games (definitely). Lots of games (unfortunately). The Sox better be prepared to hold down the fort, because the Yankees aren't going to make this easy.

In contrast, the Blue Jays, O's, and Devil Rays are going to make this easy. Combined, they are 93-112 (.453). As was most likely surmised everywhere but Baltimore and Toronto (you think anyone in Tampa thought the Rays were going to challenge for the division?) there is no other threat for the AL East this season.

Tonight (Tuesday): The Red Sox try to even their three-gamer with the ever-tough Braves. To do so, the Sox send Josh Beckett to the mound. Beckett will try to erase memories of his last start versus Colorado, easily his worst of the season to date. The Braves will counter with Tim Hudson, who despite a stellar 3.25 ERA, is 4-10,000 lifetime against the Red Sox.*

The Red Sox better take care of business in Atlanta because the Yankees are in Colorado to do what the Sox couldn't against the Rockies, namely, kick their collective butt. No sense scoreboard watching unless you are that rare animal who enjoys ulcers, or that rarer animal who is a Yankee fan that choses to watch the Red Sox when the Yankees are on the teley. I predict a sweep in Denver.

*not technically accurate

Saturday, June 16, 2007


The Red Sox only run came on a Manny solo shot into the Monster seats in left. Yuck. Other than yesterday, the offense has been MIA for the past week or so. Fortunately, Matsuzaka, Okajima, and Papelbon gave up one less than one, or zero, combining on a four hit shut-out of the Giants.

For those interested in such things, Barry Bonds went 0-3 with a walk. Despite that lackluster performance, he was involved in a pivotal moment in the game. In the eighth inning, Okajima came on to relieve Matsuzaka. Okajima walked the first hitter and gave up a single to the second. Bonds was up third.

With men on first and second, Okajima missed with his first two pitches, putting Bonds up in the count 2-0. Okajima then threw a curveball for a strike, and a fastball on the outside corner to bring the count even. With everyone holding their breath (somehow that helps?), the next pitch was a fastball that caught the inside corner at the last second, freezing bonds and ending the threat. It was a terrific pitch by Okajima, who was then able to retire the next two hitters to preserve the 1-0 lead.

Papelbon came on and retired the Giants easily, 1-2-3.

While the Sox pitching was magnificent today their hitting was somewhere south of that. Matt Cain pitched seven innings of one run ball, but he only struck out one guy (Ortiz, looking) and didn't look particularly note worthy in the process. I wasn't there, but it didn't look to me like he was fooling the Sox hitters, yet he was still getting some easy outs. There weren't many hard hit balls despite the fact that Cain fell behind a bunch of hitters in the count. Hopefully the Sox can right the offense soon. Matsuzaka won't throw seven shutout innings every time out.

AL East: New York and Toronto also won. Baltimore and Tampa play later tonight.

Tomorrow: Tim Wakefield gets the start. He'll face aging junkballer Matt Morris at 2:05pm EST.

Friday, June 15, 2007


The short short version:

Sox win, Yanks lose! Yay!

The longer version:

His Craziness, Julian Tavarez had another good start, allowing only 2 runs over 7 innings. Big Papi got thrown out in the first inning for slamming his bat and helmet down after getting called out on strikes. Fortunately it turned out that the Sox wouldn't need him tonight. Dustin Pedroia went 5 for 5 with a two run homer, and J.D. Drew had three hits as the Sox beat the Giants, 10-2.

The strange part about the game was that of the nine hits by the Sox, only one of them was not by either Drew or Pedroia. Or you could write it like this:

PeDrewia: 8-9, 1 HR, 3 2B, 4 1B, 3 BB
Everyone Else: 1-24

With the Yankees 2-0 loss to the Mets the Sox increase their lead over NY back to 8.5 games. The Yanks 9 game win streak comes to an end, and their 9 game losing streak begins (right).

AL East: Sox and Toronto win, Yanks, O's, and Rays lose. Sox lead NY by 8.5, Toronto by 10.0, Tampa by 12.5, and Baltimore by 13.5.

Tomorrow: Matsuzaka vs. Matt Cain. The game is on FOX so its at the highly inconvenient time of 3:55pm EST. Considering FOX's reputation for broadcasting excellence, I recommend watching the game with the sound off.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I missed the whole Sox game. Having recently graduated from graduate school (is that repetitive?) many of my friends are now leaving for different cities in which to work. A friend of mine is headed to DC for employment so we went out to a couple places in a neighborhood in Philadelphia called Northern Liberties to celebrate. Theres all this new construction there, so every time I go up there its different. Lots of good bars. I recommend the Standard Tap.

Anyway, stupid Red Sox. Apparently Beckett didn't have it tonight. They picked a lousy time to start losing a bunch of games because it coincides with the Yankees winning ten games straight. Or maybe losing games is OK when yr up by 14.5... In any case, the Yankees have made up 7 games on Boston in the past three weeks, if you can believe that. Theres a huge difference between 14.5 games and 7.5 games in the standings.

Still, the Yankees aren't going to win every game from now until Labor Day (and if they do they deserve the division) just as the Red Sox aren't likely to keep losing two out of three at home to crappy teams like Colorado.

Don't be surprised to read a bunch of crap in the main stream media about how the Yankees are coming, blah blah blah. I can't wait.

AL East: The Sox lost, and the Yankees won. The Sox lead the Yankees by 7.5 games. Tampa (-11.5) and Baltimore (-12.5) also lost. Toronto (-10) had the night off.

Tomorrow: The Red Sox start a three game series against Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants at the Fens. Julian Tavarez goes against Barry Zito. Game time 7:05.


On an unpleasant note, I'd like to take a moment to discuss that huge sucking sound coming from the Red Sox lineup. The culprits are Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp, who have cumulatively managed to hit somewhere around Awful. Their lousiness has been covered up by the Sox hot start and the large lead in the AL East, but the Sox aren't going to be able to maintain a double digit lead over the Yankees with two guys in their lineup OPSing .500.

On the face of it, their problems are similar ones. Crisp and Lugo both have been hitting (or not hitting) terribly. Crisp has been slightly worse, with an OPS+ of 51 (100 is average – for some reference, Kevin Youkilis has an OPS+ of 149). Lugo has an OPS+ of 55.

Shown another way, EQA (that’s Equivalent Average) is a Baseball Prospectus invented quick-and-dirty hitting stat designed to look like batting average. It takes into account all aspects of a player’s offensive contribution. It runs on a scale like batting average (.300 is good, .260 is average, etc.). Crisp has an EQA of .217 and Lugo as an EQA of .227. What Crisp and Lugo are doing is illegal in some states.

For all the bad press Bobby Abreu has taken in New York, his EQA is .265, right around average. He hasn’t done nearly the damage to his team (at the plate) that Crisp and Lugo have done.

Earlier I said the problems are similar on their faces. Both guys have been killing their team with their terrible hitting. The difference lies in their contracts and in the Sox farm system.

Lets start with their contracts. Crisp is signed to a relatively manageable deal that runs through 2009. He is due 4.75M in 2008 and 5.75M in 2009. There is an 8M club option with a .5M buy-out in 2010. That means that if the Sox were to move him, they wouldn’t have to pay too much of the deal if anything because there isn’t that much to pay in the first place (relatively speaking).

Further, the Sox also have their number one prospect, Jacoby Ellsbury, a center fielder, playing well in AAA ball. This combined with the large number of good free agent center fielders available next off season, means that there are numerous options available to replace Crisp’s sub-par production in the future.

The immediate problem is what to do about a starting center fielder who can't hit. Do the Sox mortgage some significant part of their future for half a season of a Torii Hunter? I hate to say maybe.

Hopefully Crisp doesn't force their hand. He used to hit in Cleveland, so there is some precedent for thinking he may, at some point, actually hit the ball hard, but he’s going to have to do some serious damage to overcome his hideous start. And when considering this, one should remember that Crisp hasn’t hit in a year and a half.

With the team doing so well (last night not withstanding) the Sox need a center fielder who can hit at least a little, and the easiest solution for the Sox would be if that center fielder was Coco. If Crisp doesn’t pick it up he may find himself on the bench or on another team (which might not be a bad thing for him). The Sox will likely wait another month before starting to really consider their options.

The trade deadline is about a month and a half away. If Crisp is still not hitting by then, expect a flurry of rumors at minimum.

Lugo is another story. The Sox have Lugo signed for three and a half more years and every shortstop in the majors, even Alex Gonzalez, is out-hitting him.

Lugo’s horrible offensive performance was outlined above. As for improvement, there are two choices, really. The first is just hope he improves. This is the likely course of action. Because of his contract, there isn’t much Epstein can do unless he just wants to admit the whole thing was a huge mistake. This means that the Sox will probably have to live with terrible production from the shortstop position this season, simply because this is the first year of a 4 year deal.

The second option is make some sort of trade, but as I said this is unlikely because of the length of the contract that Lugo was just given.

Further exacerbating the problem is that the Red Sox don’t have anyone who looks like a major league shortstop in their system. They do have Jed Lowrie who is hitting .285/.416/.461 in AA Portland, but at this point he’s considered a lower ceiling prospect and not someone who is likely to start at shortstop for the Sox anytime soon.

If Lugo doesn't improve, Theo made a hugely expensive miscalculation in terms of money ($36M over 4 years) and games lost. If Lugo doesn't get better he'll have to be replaced sometime before his contract is up, and that will cost the team more money. They'll have to pay a replacement at the going rate i.e likely more than a good shortstop makes now, and they'll have to pay someone to take Lugo off their hands. Ugh. It looks like another Renteria situation.*


*I'm a big Epstein fan, but there is no question the Red Sox have bungled the shortstop position since the end of the 2004 season. They had Orlando Cabrera a good fielding decent hitting player who they could have easily resigned after the championship in '04, but they opted for the less known quantity in Edgar Renteria. Renteria had hit better than Cabrera throughout his career, until he came to Boston.

Renteria's terribleness forced the Sox hand and they traded him for pennies on the dollar to Atlanta in a deal that ultimately landed them Coco Crisp (coincidence?). The Sox then went with Alex Gonzalez who was over hyped as a fielder, although he was very good, but couldn't hit worth a poop. Then they signed Lugo, the guy they wanted all along, who was supposed to hit, but hasn't come close to doing so.

The tale of the tape:

The Sox are now paying two starting shortstops: their own and Atlanta's (Atlanta's is hitting quite well, thank you very much). Boston fan's favorite shortstop plays for Anaheim, and the Sox are stuck with someone who sucks for the next 3.5 years. Thats called bungling the position, folks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Tonight the Sox got blown out by the Rockies, 12-2. It was bad from the very beginning when Julio Lugo, who is rapidly making us all miss the 2005 version of Edgar Renteria, bobbled a grounder from the first batter of the game and threw it into the Red Sox dugout. It went downhill from there.

Unlike his last outing when he had all his stuff working, tonight Schilling didn't have anything going for him. The result was he gave up tons of hits and runs. The body blow being a three run homer with two outs to Brad Hawpe in the 5th inning to put the Sox back by a 5-1 score. The Rockies also put three spots on the board in the 6th (off Kyle Snyder and Javier Lopez) and 8th innings (against the soon to be DFA'd Joel Pineiro).

The Red Sox offense continued their malaise against the eminently mediocre Josh Foggggggg, managing only a couple runs. The first was on a solo homer by Mike Lowell, and the second on a two out single by Manny Ramirez.

All in all, a very discouraging effort in all phases of the game tonight. Fortunately you can only lose a game once, because otherwise the Sox would have lost two or three tonight.

AL East: The Yankees (their 8th in a row) and Toronto both won while the Orioles and the Rays both lost. The Red Sox lead over New York is now 8.5 games. Toronto is 10.5 back, Tampa 11.5, and Baltimore 12.5.

Tomorrow (Thursday): Josh Beckett tries to right the wrongs of Wednesday and win the series versus Colorado. Attempting to foil his nefarious plot will be Jeff Francis.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


What an amazing couple weeks for me. I got married and went on my honeymoon to Vancouver Island, British Columbia (If you haven't been, I highly recommend it). It was perfect. I'm a very lucky man. Then I came back to Philadelphia and had a reception for family and friends. About 90 people showed up and for once at a party I knew most of them. So thats what I've been doing with myself these past few weeks.

But nobody reads this blog to hear about my wedding. (In fact, nobody reads this blog.)

The Red Sox have played a ton of games since I left for the west coast. I can't possibly sustain anyone's interest by re-hashing all the games since last posting about two weeks ago. Its almost moot anyway, since the Sox lead their division by almost the same number of games as when I left (then 11.5 over Baltimore, now 9.5 over New York).

The major difference now is that the Yankees don't look dead in the water anymore. In fact the Yankees have won seven straight after beating Arizona 4-1 tonight.

As for the Red Sox, they managed another win tonight behind the excellent pitching of Tim Wakefield, who after a few rough starts seems to have found his good knuckler again. The Rockies came to town but couldn't solve Wakefield or Papelbon tonight. Speaking of Papelbon, I haven't seen him look that good since coming into the game in Texas with the bases loaded and no outs and getting out of it. He was throwing darts tonight.

More tomorrow for sure.

AL East: The Yankees stayed 9.5 games back with a win against Arizona. Tampa beat San Diego and Baltimore lost to Washington. The Blue Jays are still in action against San Francisco (and currently losing 1-0).

Tomorrow: The Red Sox play the second of three against Colorado at the Fens. Curt Schilling goes for win number seven against Josh Fogg. Gametime 7:05pm EST.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Its raining here in Tofino, BC, Canada where my wife and I are honeymooning. She decided to take a mid-day nap, so I'm taking the time to put up this short post.

I managed to upset her slightly (and myself a lot) last night when in the midst of an expensive dinner at the hotel restaurant, I ran back upstairs to discover that the Red Sox had blown a lead to the Yankees in the eighth and the game in the ninth. Very disappointing. However, I shouldn't be concerned because, A) I'm on my honeymoon, and B) the Sox are still up by at least 10 games (I'm sorry to say that I haven't checked the standings, nor will I till I return home on the 8th).

In any case, the Sox head to Oakland for a three game set with the no-hit A's. For the two or three people who check here on a regular basis, I'll be back to regular posting on June 9th or 10th.