Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Just because the Red Sox won the World Series (again!) doesn't mean I'm giving up over here. The reason for my occasional absences is my new job. Specifically, the time my new job requires me to be at work (7:30am) and the distance that I live from my job (at least 1 hour away). Combined, this means that I have to get up at 5:45am.


Of course FPE will be with you all off season, offering insights that you yourself would never have thought of, even if someone put a loaded poodle to your temple and yelled "Tell me or I'll make it pee!"

One such insight, which is all you'll get tonight because I have to get up in 9 hours and I need my beauty rest (ugly people need beauty rest even more than pretty people), is that the Red Sox should sign Curt Schilling for one year at whatever million dollars.

The reason is because there is no other option available. Schilling might be asking for more than he's worth on a yearly basis, but he's only asking for it once (i.e. only one year's worth). This makes him a bargain because any supposedly decent pitcher that the Red Sox sign will require a much larger commitment in terms of years, and therefore money.

Schilling may be old and he may have lost 8 or 9 mph off his fastball, but the guy can still pitch. He's not going to win the Cy Young next year, but then thats why we have Josh Beckett. Ol' Schil doesn't have to win the Cy, he just has to be a better-than-league-average pitcher, and we know he can do that. He might not be healthy all year long, but thats why we have Tim "A steal at only $4M" Wakefield.

Between Schilling and Wakefield the Sox can put together a better than league average #3 starter who can throw 200+ innings. This is immensely valuable. The Sox can afford this $17M (Schilling + Wakefield=13M+4M) extravagance because 2/5 of the Sox rotation next season will cost them under $1M combined. Lester and Buchholz should be #4 and #5 in the rotation next season, and neither is even arbitration eligible.

With Schilling, the Red Sox starting rotation will earn $36M combined, or an average of $7.2M
a piece (I included Wakefield's salary, but not Daisuke's pro-rated posting fee). With Schilling the team will have 6 starters for five spots, which is high-quality insurance (in case of injury). But more importantly, with Schilling they'll have the best rotation they can have going into Spring Training.

Now, I'm going to bed. Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


The Boston Red Sox won 4-3 tonight, sweeping the Colorado Rockies and winning the 103rd World Series!!

Lots of celebrating tonight in Boston and New England to be sure, but there was a little celebration in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia tonight as well. Congrats to the Red Sox for a job well done, and thanks for another great season of Boston Red Sox baseball.

I'll be back tomorrow with more here at FPE, but for now



Saturday, October 27, 2007


With Daisuke Matsuzaka suddenly struggling after five brilliant innings, Terry Francona decided to go to his bullpen. In came Javier Lopez to face lefty Brad Hawpe. Lopez is a decent pitcher, but is mis-cast as a lefty killer. Yet thats exactly what Lopez was charged to do. It was the first time all post season when I've openly questioned what Francona was doing. Hawpe had struck out a billion times in a row (may not be quite accurate) and all on fastballs. Lopez's fastball is decidedly mediocre, while Daisuke's is good, yet in came Lopez and out went Matsuzaka.

That was the beginning of the only rally the Rockies have had all World Series. But, heres the beauty part: it wouldn't be nearly enough. The Rockies were out-hit, out-pitched, out-fielded, out-managed, and just plain out-classed last night as they have been throughout the whole series. The Red Sox rolled behind a ten run performance by their DH-less offense, beating Colorado on the road 10-3.

The Sox got offense from unexpected sources tonight, including Julio Lugo (1 hit, 2 walks, 2 runs scored), Jacoby Ellsbury (4-5 with 2 runs scored), Coco Crisp (1 hit and 1 run) and most surprising of all, a two run single by Daisuke Matsuzaka. In all, the Sox offense has done something that no other team in the playoffs could do and beat the Rockies at home. The win puts the Red Sox on the edge of a World Series title and simultaneously pushes the Rockies to the brink of elimination.

We'll debate Francona's bullpen choices later, but for now, the Sox are one win away from being crowned 2007 World Series Champions.

Jon Lester goes for the Red Sox tomorrow. He'll be opposed by Aaron Cook. Gametime is the FOX-erific 8:35pm. With three hours of commercials on top, the game could run 5 hours.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


You could make the argument that the Rockies got lucky. They scored their only run on a hit-by-pitch, a single off someone's glove, and a ground out. The Red Sox, conversely, left baserunner after baserunner in scoring position. They hit the ball hard, but right at Rockies fielders. Somehow it all amounted to only two runs for Boston, but it could easily have been five or six.

This was a 5-0 game masquerading as a 2-1 game. And the Sox won anyway. In doing so, they take the commanding two games to none lead as the World Series goes to Colorado for the first time in Major League history.

As good as Curt Schilling was, and he was excellent, the Red Sox bullpen was better. Between Schilling, Okajima, and Papelbon, there were few chances for Colorado. Their best chance likely came in the sixth inning when with one out, Schilling walked his second batter to put runners at first and second. That was it for him, as Terry Francona went to Hideki Okajima.

Okajima got a ground out to Youkilis for out number two, and a strikeout to end the inning. Then he threw 1 2/3 more scoreless innings before yielding to Papelbon with two down in the eighth inning. Okajima faced seven hitters and struck four of them out. He didn't walk anyone, nor did he give up a hit. In fact, other than Holliday, the Rockies hitters went 1-25 against Red Sox pitching on the night.

After coming on in the eighth, Papelbon gave up a single to MVP candidate Matt Holliday, but promptly picked Holliday off before even throwing a pitch to Todd Helton. In the ninth, he struck Helton out, got Atkins to fly out and then struck out Hawpe to end it. Game over. 2-1 games don't come any more stress-free than this one, especially in the World Series.

The Sox now get a day off as they travel to Colorado. The World Series resumes on Saturday night at 8pm EST with Daisuke Matsuzaka facing Josh Fogg. Since the NL park doesn't allow for a DH, it will be interesting to see if Francona tries to maximize his offense by playing David Ortiz, or his defense by playing Youk at first base. I suspect Francona may mix and match by playing Ortiz at first for the first two games and then Youk would replace him in Game 5 (should it be necessary).

The reason is the Rockies are throwing two right-handed pitchers in Games 3 and 4, so it makes sense to put the lefty Ortiz in there (not to mention Ortiz is maybe the greatest clutch hitter in baseball today, and this from someone who doesn't really believe in clutch hitting). In any case, I bet Ortiz starts at first in Game 3. If Matsuzaka can throw strikes the Red Sox can take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

But thats for another day. For now, we can all savor the 2-0 cushion for a day and a half.

More this weekend.

Go Sox!


Apologies for the lack of postings around these parts recently. Just out of graduate school (if you count 5 months as "just"), I started my first post-graduate full time job this past Monday. Its been great so far, but its also been taking up a lot of my day (huge surprise there, huh?), especially since I have the slight misfortune to live over an hour away from my job of choice. This means that in addition to learning everything, my eight hour days are actually ten hours because I have an hour of travel time on top of each. On top of that, the Red Sox have the nerve to keep playing baseball every night and that pretty much kills my day right there.

I'm sure once I get my sea legs about me I'll be able to keep this blog up. This isn't good-bye, nor is it even a hiatus. Its simply me, the writer, apologizing to you, the reader, for not keeping up my end of the bargain.


So, how bout them Sox, huh? Game 1 came too quickly for me to post my prediction, let alone anything that would qualify as a World Series preview. Allow me to post-date my prediction and say the Red Sox win in 5.

More when I get a moment to breath. Stick with me, folks.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Its late and I have to start my new job tomorrow, so I'll just write this:




How long have we all been waiting to say "Drew wins for Red Sox?" Well wait no more, my friends, J.D. Drew has come through (finally)! With the bases loaded and two down in the first inning, Drew crushed a 3-1 fastball into the center field camera box. After that the rout was on.

Unfortunately, I didn't see any of it. My father was celebrating his 59th birthday and the dinner reservations were for 8pm EST. I asked my friend George to text me with updates on the game. The following are texts I received from George during dinner:

8:54pm: "Grand Slam... JD Drew muthafucka!!! 4-0 Sox bottom 1"
(I yelled something after receiving this, leading the french waiter to ask me what the score was)

9:41pm: "RBI single... Drew again! Read that last line again!"

9:45pm: "Carmona out, 5-1 bottom 3"

9:46pm: "6-1! Ellsbury RBI."

9:55pm: "10-1, I am not lying. This is fucking awesome. Enjoy your dinner."

That concluded the texts, but not the scoring. The Sox tacked on two in the bottom of the eighth against Joe "Why the Indians keep running me out there is beyond anyone's understanding" Borowski.

This sets up Game 7 tonight at 8pm. The starters will be Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jake Westbrook, but its going to be all hands on deck for both teams. The entire Red Sox pitching staff should be available to pitch tonight, with the exception of Curt Schilling. Same goes for the Indians, who also won't have Curt Schilling.

More tomorrow if I get a moment. If not, here's the obligatory sign-off. This isn't over. Not by a long shot.


Saturday, October 20, 2007


This series has been a seemingly never-ending succession of one-act plays, each more important than the last. Josh Beckett authored a brilliant piece Thursday in Cleveland, and now, to mix my metaphors into a delicious sauce, the baton has been passed to Curt Schilling. It will be up to him to keep the series, and the Red Sox season, alive.

Just as I wrote about Game 5, the Red Sox need to treat this game as the end of the world (no, not really, Manny). If Schilling doesn’t have it, that fact needs to be discerned as early as possible in order that the damage inflicted is minimal.

All conventions need to go out the window. There is no pride or shame in this game, only winning and losing. If Schilling runs into an especially tough patch in the fourth inning and Terry Francona decides he’s done enough on the day, he shouldn’t be afraid to bring in Jonathan Papelbon if the situation calls for him simply because tonight's game means the season.


Indians starter Fausto Carmona, all of 23 years old, spent the vast majority of last season in the minor leagues. He threw roughly 100 innings over three levels last year (including a rough stint as Cleveland’s closer). This year, he’s already thrown well over 200 innings. This represents a violent jump in usage, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Carmona’s performance began to lag under the vastly increased workload.

As well as Carmona has pitched this year, and he has pitched incredibly well, he may not be ready for the pressure of this game just as his body may be wearing down some. This may be nothing, or it may be an advantage for Boston. We’ll see tonight.

While the Sox ultimately won Game 5 handily, they had C.C. Sabathia on the ropes all evening long and seemingly couldn’t put him away. The Sox will likely not get as many chances against Carmona, but they will likely get some. How well they take advantage of those chances may be the difference between playing a Game 7 or not.


In other news, Francona hinted that he might alter the lineup and bring in Jacoby Ellsbury for the perpetually struggling Coco Crisp. Potentially removing Crisp makes me wonder how important Crisp’s knowledge of Fenway’s center field is. Schilling is a decided fly ball pitcher, and unless he happens to have a killer split going tonight, its unlikely he’ll strike many people out. So, by modus ponens (if ‘a’ then ‘b’; a, therefore b) there will likely be many fly balls lofted towards center field by Indians hitters as long as Schilling is in the game.

Ellsbury doesn’t lack for range, but he does lack familiarity with areas such as the Triangle in center and the confluence of the Green Monster with the center field wall, which can shoot balls along the wall towards right field (and past unsuspecting center fielders). The question Mr. Francona must answer is how valuable is the difference between Crisp’s knowledge and Ellsbury’s and is that difference greater than the value of the difference between their respective batting abilities.

I will go on record as being in favor of the switch as Carmona’s decided ground ball tendencies will likely continue to stymie Crisp’s hitting. (At this point it appears the Indians could put a peach and a wheel of cheese on the mound and they would stymie Crisp’s hitting abilities.) On the other hand, Ellsbury is so fast that he can actually beat out routine ground balls for hits. I have actually seen him do this. Whats more, in a game where the Sox are going to need every run they can get, Ellsbury’s ability to get an extra step or two compared to Crisp could be the difference between scoring and being called out at home.

It should be an interesting game. The Sox have begun to claw their way back, and they can even the series tonight. This thing isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.


Friday, October 19, 2007


In last night's post I mentioned Indians fans waving '2007 World Series' towels during the game. I tried to find a good picture, but I couldn't. The best I could do was this:

You can see some of the towels in question being waved by fans. Unfortunately, you can't read what they say at all.

But, as if that weren't enough, more evidence of the Indians hubris has poured in to FPE HQ. After yesterday's ridiculous '2007 World Series' towel waving, comes a report from the paper of record in Cleveland, the Plain Dealer, about 'Cleveland Indians 2007 World Series' t-shirts which are now for sale in and around Cleveland.

Again: huh?!? Apparently its been so long for Indians fans that they've forgotten it takes four wins to advance to the World Series, not the three they currently have.

Ridiculous. If anyone has a photo of either the t-shirt or the towel, kindly post it in the comments section.


Tonight, Beckett put the whole team on his back and took them the 638 miles back to Boston. He was helped along by Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis, who homered over the left field wall in the top of the first to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. The Indians only run of the night tied up the game in the bottom of the inning. Sizemore hit a bloop double, Cabrera singled, and Hafner grounded into a double play.

After that, Beckett put the clamps on. No Indians crossed the plate the rest of the night. It was all Boston from there on in. The Sox cruised to a 7-1 win, and the series heads back to Boston for Game 6 on Saturday night. Curt Schilling will face Fausto Carmona in a rematch of Game 2.

More on this match up and the game later.


I did want to note something though. During the ninth inning when Papelbon was putting the screws to the Indians, FOX showed a close up of one dejected Indians fan in the stands. He was holding one of the white towels that Cleveland fans had been maniacally waving all night. The towel had, "2007 World Series" imprinted on it.

Um, are you F'n kidding me? The Indians are up 3 games to 1 heading in to Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, and all their moron fans are waving around 2007 World Series towels? Is everyone in Cleveland mentally deficient? You don't get World Series towels until you actually make it to the World Series!

When I posted earlier that I thought the Red Sox would win the series in five games a friend of mine accused me of inciting the Baseball Gods. He said my act of hubris (presumably picking my team to win) would be negatively reflected upon the Sox. I disagreed, saying that I only posted what I thought, and it was not an act of hubris. Well, even if my post was hubris, it pales in comparison to this. If there ever was an act of hubris, waiving World Series towels in the fifth game of the ALCS is it. Thats simply asking for it.

So, not only did the Red Sox dominate the Indians and bring the series back to Boston for Game 6, but 48,000 stupid Indians fans turned the Baseball Gods against their team as well.


Of course, none of this means crap if Curt Schilling doesn't throw a good game on Saturday. The Sox have shown they are patient enough to hit Carmona, at least a little bit. Carmona is likely at least somewhat tired due to his huge workload this season. The difference will be how Schilling pitches. Can he shut down the Indians? Can he keep the game close and give the Sox a chance to win?

We'll find out the answers to these and many other questions on Saturday, but for now, the Sox are taking this thing back to Boston. Theres some fight left in us after all. This thing isn't over yet. Not by a long shot.


Thursday, October 18, 2007


This is it, Part I.

The Sox have dug themselves a huge hole and now we all get the pleasure of watching them dig themselves out. Josh Beckett and his back problems will pitch for Boston with the season in the balance. A good performance from a starting pitcher should be a good step towards a win, but the Sox haven't had one of those (a win or a good performance from a starter, take your pick) since Beckett last pitched in Game 1 of this series.

So, for fun, lets construct a scenario where the Red Sox come back and beat Cleveland. Here's what happens and why:

Game 5: Sabathia has thrown 250.1 innings on the season, and his arm is tired. He is moderately effective early, but tires in the middle innings. Manny does some damage and the Sox take a 4-1 lead. Josh Beckett's back tightens up and he is out after 7 despite pitching well. Okajima and Papelbon come on to preserve the game. Sox win, 4-2.

Game 6: The series returns to Boston where Curt Schilling faces Fausto Carmona. Carmona threw 102 innings last year, and so far this year he's thrown 228 (post season plus regular season). He was less effective last time out and that trend continues here. The Sox hit him hard and he doesn't last through the fourth. Schilling himself is less than perfect, but he goes six and leaves with the Sox up 7-3. Cleveland mounts a comeback against the back end of the Boston pen, but Papelbon comes on (again) to save the day. Sox win, 8-6.

Game 7: Matsuzaka vs. Westbrook. Westbrook's sinker doesn't sink as much, and the Sox hit him hard too. He doesn't get out of the fourth. Matsuzaka does his typical dance with death, but ends up throwing five decent innings. He leaves with the Sox up 5-3. The Indians come back to tie it up off of our middle relief, but Manny and Big Papi make sure that the Sox win this one. Sox win, 7-5.

Seems plausible, right? We take the first step tonight. This one isn't over. Not by a long shot.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007


The Sox pitching staff, the rock upon which their 96 victory regular season performance was built, has performed badly in this series. I'm not sure what the story is behind that, but its certainly not something I was expecting, nor was it something that anyone who analyzed the series beforehand could reasonably expect. It would be like me saying before the series started that Travis Hafner would strike out 12 times with zero hits in four games (I'm just making that number up, I have no idea how many times he's struck out). Not only would there be little basis for saying it, but there would be ample historical evidence (Hafner's entire season and indeed his whole career) to point to against it.

But thats the thing about a short series (yes, seven games is very short). Just about anything can happen, and having the better team is no guarantee of winning, just as how having the worst team in the majors is no guarantee of losing.

Could the Red Sox still come back? Absolutely they could. Will they? I'd say they have a pretty lousy chance of doing so, simply because winning three games in a row while facing Sabathia and Carmona would seem unlikley. But of course it could happen.

If Sabathia and Carmona pitch like they did earlier in the series than the Sox have a decent shot to even things up. But first they have to win tomorrow. When you're facing elimination, it doesn't make any sense to start planning for the future because if you don't win now there won't be any future anyway.

To that end, the Sox need to ride Beckett for as long as he is useful. If that is ten innings, so be it. If its only two, then they need to get him out of there with as minimal damage as possible. Utilize Papelbon for two innings if need be. Put Okajima in for 2 2/3 innings if they need to.

If the score is 4-2 (doesn't matter who is ahead) in the seventh, and they need to go to the bullpen, the only two guys they need to chose between at that point are Okajima and Papelbon. Once those guys have thrown enough, then you move on to the rest of the pen if need be, but not before. Its time to stop putting your trust in guys who you think can do the job and start relying heavily on guys you know can do the job.

That, and they'll need the Indians bullpen to help them out. More Borowski and less Betancourt should do the trick.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Its hard to be optimistic after tonight's performance. It was a tremendously disappointing and dispiriting one.

I really don't feel like rehashing the whole game which is probably fine because I really doubt you feel like reading about it. Wakefield was fine until unraveling in the fifth. Thats where the game turned. Francona brought in Manny Delcarmen and he was terrible. Let me say that again. He was terrible. I love Manny, but you just can't have relief pitching like that in playoff game. He took a bad inning and made it a horrendous one.

But thats all in the past. All that matters now is Thursday's game. Josh Beckett will get the ball with the season on the line. He must pitch well or we're done. Simple as that.


I believe the Red Sox have to win tonight if they want to have a reasonable chance to continue their season. If the Sox lose tonight, I'm sure we'll hear a whole bunch about the 2004 Sox and how being down 1-3 isn't as bad as being down 0-3. I'd like to bet the first one to head this off at the pass.

The 2004 team was great, one for the ages, but this is not the '04 team. Its a completely different group of guys, for better or worse.

I won't go into the many differences in any detail here (much less hitting, much more bullpen this season), but these are different teams with different strengths and different weaknesses. Just because they both had "Boston" across their chests when playing road games doesn't mean they are remotely similar teams.

As unlikely as the '04 team's comeback from down 0-3 was, I'd say it was more likely than a comeback from down 1-3 by this year's Sox. This year's version of the Red Sox needs to simply win. Drama and 13 inning homers aren't what this team does well. Winning 5-3 with a bunch of singles, walks and a few doubles while keeping the game in hand with solid pitching in the late innings is what this team does well. Strangely enough, its what they need to do tonight.


I missed yesterday's game entirely as I was traveling from Dallas and Houston back home to Philly. As such, I don't have much to say about the Red Sox performance in Game 3. I will say in light of Daisuke Matsuzaka's recent performances, the Sox will have to reconsider how much they allow Matsuzaka to throw both in and between starts next season.

It was a complicated situation when he came over from Japan because of the workload that he was used to in and between starts. The Sox did not alter Matsuzaka's routine too often and allowed him to throw on game days before and sometimes before and after starts (unheard of in MLB) which he had done in Japan.

Next season, rest will need more emphasis. The fact that the MLB schedule requires pitchers to throw on four days rest compared to six days rest in Japan means pitchers throw more pitches in higher stress situations in a MLB season than they do in a Japanese league season.

Throwing more games in a season with less rest between each means that Matsuzaka put a massive strain on his arm compared to what he is used to. Right now he's probably just tired. Worst case, he's hiding an injury. Its also possible its a bit of both, though with the rigorous medical testing the Sox put their pitchers through, I'm guessing he is just tired.


Tonight, the Sox have to win. There is a huge difference between being down 3-1 and being tied 2-2. Huge.

The Sox should be able to hit Paul Byrd, but the Indians will likely be able to hit Tim Wakefield as well. Terry Francona will likely have Wake on a short leash, though his options for replacing him in the early innings don't look promising considering the back end of the bullpen's performance in Game 2.

Maybe the Sox can take a page from the Yankees book and use a starter to throw an inning or two should Wake falter. It should be Schilling's throwing day and so he would regularly be scheduled to pitch a few innings on the side.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Beckett didn't dominate, but with the crushing done by the Red Sox offense, he didn't need to. The Sox cruised to ta 10-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians last night and took a 1-0 lead in the best of seven series in the process.

Tonight, Schilling goes against Carmona, the other talented and young 19 game winner for Cleveland.

If the Sox can win tonight, they'll take a commanding 2-0 lead back to Cleveland to face the lesser lights of the Indians rotation. If Cleveland wins, they'll head back home having achieved a satisfying split in enemy territory.

Tonight, whatever advantage the Sox gained when they won home field advantage will be on display. Carmona is a 23 year old, and though he has pitched exceptionally well this year, he may be susceptible to some early game jitters. His last win against the Yankees was at home, and he'll get no such sympathy from the audience tonight. Carmona is also the Indians best pitcher who is available to pitch tonight, so if Eric Wedge has to make any pitching changes he'll be substituting a lesser pitcher into the game.

If he does make some mistakes early, the Sox offense needs to take advantage and put him on the ropes while they can.

Game time tonight is 8:15pm EST.

Friday, October 12, 2007


I'll be traveling this weekend to the land of big belt buckles and even bigger guns this weekend. Due to that, I'll likely not be updating here at FPE. I'll be watching the Sox and I'll be back on Monday night and hopefully put something up then.

Please check back around that time, and as always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


My predictions for the division series were awful. In the NL, I predicted the Phillies to win in five. Instead, they were swept by Colorado. I predicted the Cubs would beat the Diamondbacks in four, but Chicago was swept also. At least I got the number of games right in the AL. I said Yankees in four, but it was Cleveland who won. Oh for three. Sounds like Jeter’s batting line. (Low blow!)

The only series I got absolutely correct was the Red Sox sweep of the Angels, and in truth, that’s the only one I felt strongly about. So, prepare yourself for more bad predictions here at FPE as I tackle…

Both Championship Series


Colorado (NLWC) vs. Arizona (NLW)

Can a team that was outscored on the year really make it to the World Series? Can a team that everyone had written off for dead two weeks before the season ended either? Can a bear poop in the woods? Can my wife make mean cracks at my expense? Does my crotch itch? The Cardinals (I know this is everyone’s excuse. “X team sucks, but just look at the ’06 Cardinals.”) proved that you don’t have to be a good hitting team, or a good pitching team to win the World Series. All you have to do is go up against a series of teams playing badly. Theres a recipe for champions, right there.

Both have strengths, but both of these teams have serious weaknesses too. At least right now the Rockies strengths seem to be coming to the fore more than Arizona. Colorado certainly has a better hitting team than Arizona, and right now they probably have better starting pitching as well.

I’m not going to get any more in depth than that here, so I’ll just say this:

Prediction: Colorado in Five. Bet the house on it.


Cleveland (ALC) vs. Boston (ALE)

Make no mistake about it, the series that follows this will be the World Series in name only. The two most talented teams left in the playoffs are facing each other here.

Lets start with an overview. Both teams finished the season with identical 96-66 records. The Red Sox have the homefield advantage by virtue of their 5-2 record versus Cleveland in the regular season. Despite the regular season results, these teams are not perfectly even.

The Indians scored 811 runs on the season and allowed 704. The Red Sox scored 867 and gave up 657. The Red Sox have scored and been scored upon at the rate of a 101-61 team, while the Indians results translate to a more modest 91-71 record. You’ll notice that the Sox have a ten game advantage according to Pythagorean record. This is more indicative of the difference between these two clubs than the equal win-loss marks they achieved in the regular season

As for hitting, the Red Sox have scored more runs, but they’ve done so in a home park that this season very slightly favors hitters, while the Indians have played their home games in a park that slightly favors pitchers. Thus, maybe the numbers are more similar than I may be giving credit for.

But, remember that baseball schedules aren’t even any more, so like the NFL you have to take the quality of competition into account.

The average non-Red Sox AL East team scored 815 runs while giving up 822, for a Pythagorean record of 80-82. Conversely the average non-Indians AL Central team scored 751 runs while giving up 785, for a Pythagorean record of 77-85. It seems the Red Sox had a more difficult schedule and did more with it.

Of course, these teams aren't the same ones that began the season, so simply comparing their respective seasonal stats doesn't do justice to who these teams are now. To that end, and I acknowledge that this is an imperfect measure, if you compare how the teams hit in their division series, you can see that the Sox scored more runs than did the Indians, and they did it off a better pitching staff.

The Sox scorched the Angels by a cumulative 19-4 score in their three games, for an average score of 6.3-1.3. The Indians won by a cumulative score of 24-16 for an average score of 6-4. The Red Sox were more dominant in their match up.

Now, they were playing different teams, and though those teams won an equal number of games in the regular season (94), you could make an argument that the Yankees were a better team than the Angels. I acknowledge that that argument could be made, but I won’t be making it here. The argument you can’t make is New York’s pitching staff is better than Anaheim’s, because it isn’t. The Sox hitters faced more difficult competition and yet scored more runs.

Conversely, you can’t make the opposite argument, that Anaheim’s hitters were better than New York’s. Of course that isn’t true, but then the Indians gave up more runs than Boston did, befitting the fact that they faced more difficult competition.

As for the pitching staffs, Cleveland’s #1 and #2 starters match up well with those of the Sox. Both Carmona and Sabathia are excellent starters and equal to that of Boston’s Beckett and Schilling. (Carmona is probably a better pitcher at this point than Schilling, but how do you pick against Schilling in the playoffs?)

After those two, the Indians staff starts to get mediocre in a hurry. Despite the win, Byrd didn’t pitch very well against New York, and Westbrook got lit up. In Boston, Matsuzaka didn’t pitch very well either, but he has more of a track record of success than either Cleveland counter part. The wild card for the Sox is Tim Wakefield. He missed the Division Series due to poor health. If he is healthy enough (and he threw a successful side session today according to Boston manager Terry Francona) he’ll throw Game 4 in Cleveland, likely against Byrd.

Heres how I see the match-ups:

Game #1: Sabathia at Beckett
Advantage: Boston

Game #2: Carmona at Schilling
Advantage: toss up

Game #3: Matsuzka at Westbrook
Advantage: Boston

Game #4: Wakefield at Byrd
Advantage: toss up

Game #5: Sabathia at Beckett
Advantage: Boston

Prediction: Boston in five.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Good-bye, Roger. Good-bye Derek and Johnny and Alex. Good-bye Jorge and Mariano and Robinson. Good-bye, Yankees, it was fun, but we're moving on, and you all have some locker cleaning to do.

It was an amazing night. Just before the Cowboys kicker booted two game winning field goals, the Yankees succumbed to the Cleveland Indians in Game 4 of their ALDS match up.

Somehow the Yankees didn't beat the ever-loving crap out of Paul Byrd and his myriad of 78 mph fastballs, slower changeups, sub-changeups, slow-sub-changeups, super-slow-sub-changeups, and well, you get the picture.

Byrd throws a bunch of junk. He's basically Eddie Harris from the movie Major League. ("Up your butt, Jobu.") Yet, just as in the movie, the Yankees couldn't do much with him, and the Indians survived with an improbable 6-4 win, taking the series 3 games to 1, and advancing to the American League Championship Series to face our Boston Red Sox, this Friday at 7pm EST.

(An interesting side note: Did you know that the role of Yankees slugger 'Clu Haywood' was played by former pitcher Pete Vuckovitch? Yeah, I didn't either.)

So thats it. Indians/Red Sox. I'll post some predictions here later in the week for the ALCS and the NLCS, but right now I just want to talk Yankees here for a few seconds.

What are the Yankees going to do this off season? They’ve been knocked out of the first round of the playoffs for the third year in a row. George Steinbrenner, despite having fewer working brain cells than our president, issued a warning before Game 4, threatening to fire manager Joe Torre if the Yankees didn’t come back and win the series. They didn’t, so will Torre be fired? If so, what will that mean for impending free agents Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada who have played under Torre their entire careers and (from what I hear) see him as a father figure? Will they chose to look elsewhere now? Will the Yankees pick up Bobby Abreu’s $16M option, or pay his $2M buy-out and let him walk? Will A-Rod opt out, and if so, will Brian Cashman go back on his word and not attempt to resign him? Will Brian Cashman even have a job at that point?

The Yankees are looking at the potential loss of their manager, GM, starting third baseman, starting right fielder, starting catcher, and their Hall-of-Fame closer.

Of course I don’t have any answers to these questions, but they are juicy ones to think about for sure. There are no free agents who come close to A-Rod or Abreu’s hitting ability. There are no free agent catchers who can compare to Posada, and no free agent closers who can hold a candle to Rivera. That said, A-Rod is going to command a huge contract extension from the Yankees, and $16M is a lot to pay for one year of Bobby Abreu considering his lack of power over the past year. Both Rivera and Posada will officially qualify as ‘old’ next season, but both will likely be looking for lucrative long-term deals considering their recent successes.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say…

Cashman will keep his job, but Torre will be fired. Rivera will re-sign with the Yankees on a two year deal with a player option for a third at good money. Posada will flirt with the Mets, but will ultimately return to the Bronx as well, but for more money and years than the Yankees would have liked to pay (say 4 years $50M). The Yankees will pick up the $16M option on Abreu simply because theres nobody else better to waste it on, but will explore trading him like they did with Sheffield last winter.

As for A-Rod, the evidence is compelling that Boras will take his client onto the open market. This will release Texas from having to pay the remaining $21M of A-Rod’s salary that they sent along with him when he was traded to New York. This means that re-signing A-Rod to the same contract that he’s currently playing for will cost the Yankees $21M more than it does now.

It seems that A-Rod is not long for New York. In his last at-bat for the Yankees in the ninth, he fittingly swung at a pitch just outside the strike zone and hit a fly ball to the warning track in right field. The effort was emblematic of his time in New York so far. A good effort, and close to the promised land, but ultimately not successful.

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow he ended up staying with the Yankees. In either case, it will be interesting to see what happens. Depending on how much turmoil is swirling in the Yankee front offices, there might not be much time to negotiate an extension in New York


I’ll be previewing the ALCS later this week, and writing more about the Red Sox and maybe even the Yankees, so stay tuned to FPE, and as always, thanks for reading.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Curt Schilling threw a beauty, while Ortiz and Manny both homered and the Sox won Game 3 on the road and eliminated the Angels three games to zero.

More to come when we find out who the Red Sox will be facing.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


I saw Game 1 at my friend's apartment with a few other Red Sox fans. We saw it on my friend's (I'll be charitable here) 12" TV. It was great to be in the company of friends and we all had a great time watching the game together, but the TV was so small that we couldn't read either the score or the pitch count.

After Game 1, my friend went out and bought a $1,000 flat screen TV and hooked it up. We watched Game 2 on that. What a difference and what a game to break the new TV in on. We could actually see Manny's titanic shot head out over the Monster, over Lansdowne Street, and over the parking garage towards the Mass Pike and off into the night as the Sox celebrated.

Well, we would have seen it if we hadn't been jumping up and down screaming. And, Oh my God he crushed it. I don't have a whole lot to add to Manny's blast. My comment at the time was something along the lines of, "OH MY GOD!! HE CRUSHED THE #&$% OUT OF THAT!! AHHHH!!".

I did want to bring up the bullpen though. Its likely that the job the bullpen did to hold the Angels and keep the game close/tied may be forgotten in the pure power and majesty of Manny's homer. I suppose that would be OK. Thats the way of things, and especially the way of the national sports media.

But its important for us Sox fans to notice that after Matsuzaka turned in 4.2 innings of 3 run ball (and potentially more as he left runners on when he exited), the bullpen threw 4.1 scoreless and hitless innings. This allowed the Sox offense to wade through the Angel pen to the point where Manny could crush the Angels with one swing. Oh, and did I mention he slapped the crap out of that ball?

Manny's homer casts quite the literal and figurative shadow. Here are some other semi-unsung heroes of Game 2 which should be noted:
  1. J.D. Drew- OK, Drew got one hit and its not like he crushed the ball either, but it was a damn valuable hit. Drew's single with the bases loaded in the first brought home Youk and Papi and accounted for two thirds of the Sox runs up until Manny totally jacked one.

  2. Julio Lugo - Again, Lugo only accounted for one hit, but it was a well-timed one. Lugo's line drive single in the bottom of the ninth sparked the rally which was ended when Ramirez just creamed that pitch by F-Rod.

  3. Hideki Okajima - Okajima was the most effective of the Sox relievers, throwing 1.1 innings of perfect ball while striking out half of the batters he faced. Maybe that dead-arm period is over with?

  4. Terry Francona - In Game 1 of the Yankees/Indians series, Chien-Ming Wang was struggling for the Yankees. He had given up 4 runs in 4 innings and trouble was threatening again in the fifth. Torre sat on his hands and as a result a close game turned into a rout.

    Francona took the opposite tact, deploying his bullpen excellently in Game 2. He recognized that Matsuzaka was struggling and before the game could get out of hand he took evasive action. Unlike Torre, Francona recognized that a game in the ALDS isn't like a game in July, and as such you have to manage them differently. Whereas in the regular season a manager can wait around to see if his starter rights himself, in the post season and especially in a five game series, there is no such luxury. Francona prevented the Sox from falling any farther than a single run behind.
Tomorrow: The series moves to Anaheim and the Sox go for the win. Curt Schilling takes the mound opposite Jered Weaver. Game time 3:07pm EST.


Friday, October 05, 2007


The Yankees will win tonight because:
  • Indians manager Eric Wedge stupidly used all his good relievers last night with a huge lead. He effectively neutered his own bullpen for tonight's game in order to protect a huge lead. Thus the Yankees will likely have to face a much weaker Cleveland pen tonight, and we all know what the Yankee offense does to mediocre pitching.
The Yankees will lose the series because:
  • Do you know how many times in 2007 C.C. Sabathia has pitched as badly as he did last night? Basically never, but he had a couple games where he allowed more runs in more innings pitched, so charitably, twice. If you care, here and here. Basically, its pretty unlikely to happen again so the Yankees squandered their chance to beat Sabathia. If you accept that the Yankees will lose to Sabathia again (which, of course, isn't any type of sure thing, but go with it for now) then they have to win every other non-Sabathia-pitched game to win the series.
  • Joe Torre did something stupid with his bullpen too. With the game already over in the seventh inning, Torre turned to Phil Hughes. Hughes is likely the Yankees third best starter behind Wang and Pettitte, and is a very valuable chip out of the bullpen as a spot starter should one of the Yankees starters fail.

    In fact, one could make a good case that Torre erred twice here. Once by not using Hughes in the early innings for an obviously struggling Wang, and once by using him in the late innings with the game's outcome already decided. If Pettitte fails out of the gate tonight, the Yankees will have nobody to turn to.

In other news, did anyone see Labron "The Frontrunner" James sitting in the front row of the Indians/Yankees game wearing a Yankees hat last night? He was interviewed on TBS and basically said that despite growing up in Akron, Oh (Indians or Reds territory), he roots for the Yankees. It also came out in the interview that he roots for the Bulls (though probably less so since joining the NBA), and Cowboys too! Sheesh... I bet he also roots for Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Manchester United, IBM, USA, The Republican Party, the Red Wings, and Brazil (men's) and Germany (women's) in soccer.


2004 was the best year ever. Because of '04 I make a concerted effort to be positive concerning the Red Sox simply because they deserve it. And when you consider their performance over the past four years as a whole, well, its pretty clear that this is a very good team with an excellent management team who knows what they're doing.

But despite that and in spite of myself, I still maintain a somewhat skeptical approach to baseball as a whole. I don't trust the universe and I'm still fearful of the baseball gods, vengeful though they be.

To that end, I'm a bit worried about how everything is turning up Red Sox roses in the first two days of the playoffs. In game one the Red Sox looked both healthy and totally unbeatable. Conversely, the Yankees looked healthy and entirely beatable, which is likely why they were beaten 12-3 by Cleveland last night. Thats two for two right there. I'm officially "wary."

But if you look beyond just the simple Red Sox/Yankees obviousness, the other teams that the Red Sox may encounter should they go on to beat the Angels don't look very good either. Yes, the Indians scored a billion runs off of Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang, but the Sox have done that too, and Indians ace and likely Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia didn't look very good either. In fact, the Yankees had him on the ropes in the fifth and couldn't finish him off. He didn't look very effective throwing five innings and giving up three runs while walking six.

Whats more, all the NL teams look highly beatable, but we kinda knew that already.

I guess what I'm trying to say is we're doing great so far. But we haven't beaten the Angels yet, or for that matter come close to doing so. Its only been one game and theres still a long way to go. Lets not get ahead of ourselves, though I admit its pretty easy to do.

Tonight: Game 2, Matsuzaka vs. Escobar. 8:37pm EST.

Lets Go Sox!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


That, ladies and gentlemen, was pitching. Josh Beckett dominated the Angels tonight, throwing a four hit shutout. The Angels never had a chance, as Beckett struck out eight and didn't give up a walk.

The game was almost completely stress-free from a Sox fan's point of view. (From an Angles fan's point of view it was probably more stressful.) Beckett simply overpowered the Angels hitters and the Sox took the lead early and held it the whole game.

The Sox brought their A game all around tonight as they beat up on the AL’s ERA leader, Jon Lackey. After Pedroia grounded out, Youk homered into the monster seats to put the Sox up 1-0. A few innings later, Youk doubled down the left field line and then Papi popped one deep into the right field stands for a 3-0 lead. Then, Manny walked and went to second on a wild pitch. Lowell singled him home to make it 4-0 and that was more than enough for Beckett.

They also played great defense, making some excellent (I’m running out of adjectives here) catches. Crisp made a nice sliding catch in the middle innings (sorry, working from memory here), and Ellsbury made a great diving catch for the first out in the ninth on a Chone Figgins line drive to left.

All that adds up to a 1-0 advantage in the best of five series for the Red Sox. Up next is Kelvim Escobar who faces off against Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Escobar was a legitimate Cy Young candidate by the All-Star break, but had some shoulder problems and was ineffective towards the end of the season. He gave up four or more runs in four of his last seven starts, including six runs in four innings in his penultimate start versus Tampa. He settled down a bit and had a nice start against a weak hitting Oakland team to close the season. Still, his ERA over September and October was 7.99.

He also has a slightly higher ERA on the road (3.72 vs. 3.18 at home) on the season.

Now, everything I just wrote about above for Escobar applies to Matsuzaka as well, except the shoulder problems. Matsuzaka was a legit Cy Young candidate at the All-Star break, but was much less effective in the second half, had a ERA over 7.00 in September and October, though he did close the season strongly against a weak hitting Twins team (8 innings, two runs).

So, what can we conclude about this match up? In short, if Escobar is healthy (and theres no guarantee of that) then it should be a pretty even match up. I’m still giving the Red Sox the advantage as they have a better bullpen, better offense, and better defense.

Still, Matsuzaka’s first post-season game should be an exciting one. The guy has the flair for the dramatic, so don’t put it past him to try to one-up Beckett (though I have no idea how he could possibly top Beckett’s performance tonight).

At 8:37 on Friday at Fenway Park the Red Sox try to make it a 2-0 lead.

Lets go Sox!



Colorado (WC) vs. Philadelphia (NLE)

Pitching: This is not a strength of either team. The Phillies have Hammels who is the only bona fide ace on either roster, but the Rockies have Manny Corpas who is the only high quality reliever on either roster. Generally, I believe the Rockies have a stronger pitching staff over all, but in a short five game series when Hammels will have the chance to throw in two games (provided he doesn’t get injured) the differences between the two teams staffs are minimized and possibly even favor Philadelphia.

Hitting: There is no team in the National League who are the equal of the Phillies offense. In fact, there are few teams (though they do exist) in the American League that can equal the Phillies offensive output. However, the Rockies aren’t a bad hitting team with Tulowitzski and Holliday to say nothing of Helton. Still, this is a big advantage for the Phillies.

Overall: The Phillies are the better team overall. Considering the pitching staffs and the stadiums these two teams play in these games should be high scoring and fun to watch.

Prediction: Phillies in Five

Chicago (NLC) vs. Arizona (NLW)

Pitching: Both these rotations are top heavy with Webb and Zambrano. The winner of game one will have a huge leg up on the competition. The Cubs bullpen and back end of the rotation is likely stronger than Arizona’s as well.

Hitting: Arizona is a mediocre offensive team, and while the Cubs haven’t scored a ton of runs either this season, they undoubtedly have the better hitters. Ramirez and Derek Lee are both head and shoulders above anyone the Diamondbacks can offer up.

Overall: Despite the season records, I think the Cubs are a stronger team. Arizona has been doing it with smoke and mirrors this season (they’ve been outscored overall on the year) and its time for the run to end.

Prediction: Cubs in 4


New York (WC) vs. Cleveland (ALC)

Pitching: Both teams have similar starting staffs. The Indians CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona are met with the Yankees Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang. Wang and Carmona are even similar pitchers, though Carmona is likely slightly better due to his ability to strike batters out at a higher rate. To me, Sabbathia is the best pitcher on either roster, but after that, things get more equal, and even start to tilt the Yankees way. Phil Huges and Roger Clemens are both better than anyone #3 starter that Cleveland can throw.

As for bullpens, the Yankees have Rivera and Joba Chamberlain while the Indians can only boast Rafael Betancourt who isn’t as good as either NY pitcher.

Hitting: The Yankees are an incomparable run scoring machine. The Yankees have a distinct advantage over anyone in the hitting department. One’s mind boggles at the pools of drool that will be emitted by Yankee hitters once the following is heard on the PA system: “Now pitching for Cleveland, Joe Borowski”

Overall: The Indians have an intriguing team with two high quality starters and some heavy hitters, but they’re going to have to win in five games. If the Yankees can keep it under five games (and I think they can) they’ll win.

Prediction: Yankees in 4

Anaheim (ALW) vs. Boston (ALE)

Pitching: Unlike the Phils/Rockies series, both teams have excellent pitching staffs. However, the Red Sox staff is just slightly better all around. From their bullpen to their number three starter, the Sox have a slight edge. Now, theres a big difference between a slight edge and a huge edge. But still, over a whole series where the Angels can expect to face Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka twice and Curt Schilling in game three, the Red Sox have the slight advantage. Its close but the Sox pitching is better.

Hitting: Here there is a larger gap between the two teams. The Red Sox have a deeper lineup, they get on base more and they hit for more power. Even the Angels running attack isn’t as big an advantage this year, as the Red Sox are second in the AL with 94 stolen bases to the Angels 132 (the Sox have also been successful at a 10% higher clip).

Overall: This is the best match up the Red Sox could have hoped for and the worst for the Angels. The Boston's pitching is at least as good as Anaheim’s and their hitting is simply better.

Prediction: Red Sox in 3