Wednesday, April 02, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


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

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


I.e a Red Sox game...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


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

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

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


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


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

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The Book of Manny

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

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

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

Saturday, March 22, 2008


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Outfield

JD Drew

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

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

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

Jacoby Ellsbury/Coco Crisp

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

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

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

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

Manny Ramirez

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

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

The Infield

Mike Lowell

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

Julio Lugo

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

Dustin Pedroia

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

Kevin Youkilis

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


Jason Varitek

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

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

Kevin Cash?

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

Designated Hitter

David Ortiz

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


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

The Rosey Outlook

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

Piles of Poop

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

Da Truth

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

Friday, February 29, 2008


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

Yes, thats an insult.

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


If you squint your eyes really hard, you can see a small bit of controversy in Fort Myers. The Red Sox had their latest and hopefully last only semi-controversial happening a few days ago when Coco Crisp, in a disarmingly gentle manner, stated he would welcome a trade if he does not end up as the starting center fielder.


The disembodied voices on WEEI have decided that Jacoby Ellsbury will be the starter based on his stellar output at the end of last year and in the post season, so this means Crisp must be traded. However, the Red Sox have made no such pronouncement. I don't think the Sox would have a problem with Ellsbury starting, but I also don't think they'd mind if Coco ended up as the starter.

Ellsbury hit .348/.394/.530 last year, but that is likely well over his head. He'll have to keep dinking the doubles down the line to maintain that type of slugging percentage. That won't happen, at least not until his real power improves. BP's PECOTA only projects him to hit .287./346/.395 this season, with a VORP of 9.6. That's not bad, but its nothing like what he hit last season, and its not too much different than Crisp's projected .278/.338/.407 and 8.3 VORP. And when you factor in Coco's outstanding defense, the projections get pretty even.

Still, you'd think that the Sox would go with the young guy who has a chance to improve, while trading the valuable veteran. Of course, if Crisp were really valuable, the Sox would have traded him, right? Well, not really, no. Value depends on a number of things. One of those things is quality and another is scarcity. When you have both then you have a valuable trading chip. Think Johan Santana. When you have only one, well, that's when it gets difficult. (And when you have neither, you just cut the bastard.)

The problem for the Sox is that there were about ten starting center fielders on the market this past offseason, and that tends to water down value (which makes the Angels and Giants all the more stupid). If there are ten teams and only one player, that player is going to make a mint, but when its the other way around, ten players and one team, any of those players would be lucky to get a spring training non-roster invite regardless of how good they are. That's an extreme example to illustrate the point, but its a valid point nonetheless.

So, back to Crisp (who's name I keep typing as "Crips"). With few if any teams looking for center fielders, and two center fielders still left on the free agent market (Corey Patterson and Kenny Lofton), the likelihood that the Sox can find a good return for Crisp is pretty much non-existent. GM Theo Epstein isn't going to give Crisp away for nothing, so there you are. Crisp likely won't be going anywhere in the near future, whether he wants a trade or not.

This doesn't mean that Crisp won't be traded later this season. Injuries, both to the Sox and to other teams, have a way of fixing situations like this one.

What I don't understand is why this has to be a problem. From the Sox perspective, they have two good center fielders on their roster. This is injury insurance, as well as both a quality defensive replacement and an excellent replacement base runner in the late innings off the bench. These are luxuries that many teams don't have, and they are luxuries that can help the Sox win games this year.

At some point the market will turn and a good deal will come available and at that point, the Sox will be able to leverage their largess towards value in another area. But for now, both Crisp and Ellsbury can make the '08 Red Sox a better team.

See? Controversy doesn't have to be so bad.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


There wasn't a lot of mystery here. The Sox wanted Terry Francona to stay, and Francona wanted to stay. The only questions were exactly how much he should be paid and for how long. This afternoon the sides finally agreed upon a number and a length of time.

Francona is exceedingly competent, and unfailingly prepared. Not only does he know how to handle people's egos, but he handles the media and fans with a deft hand as well. Looking past Francona's record in Philly and hiring him after the '03 season was one of GM Theo Epstein's biggest coups. This contract is good news for all Sox fans.

Francona's contract puts him in the upper echelon of managers, as he should be, but doesn't break any new ground for managers. In fact, I think Francona's contract makes it hard for other managers to make the argument that they deserve similar money. There are two managers making $4M a year and they have won two and four World Series a piece. All management has to say is, 'how many World Series have you won?' and the argument ends right there.

While this may not break any new ground for managers, its pretty good for both Francona and the Red Sox.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


While most major league teams go to spring training hoping to figure out a fair percentage of the roster, the Red Sox go into camp this season with very few questions to answer. Due to almost all of the (World Series Champion) roster returning, the Sox themselves do not have much to do this spring training aside from simply getting ready for the year ahead.

There are three spring training battles however. Nobody would describe them as battle-royales, more like royales-with-cheese. And, no, I don't know what that means. Anyway, to the battle stations!

1. Center Field - Barring serious injury or Coco Crisp turning into Grady Sizemore, this is really a question for the immediate present. After not being dealt this winter for Johan Santana, the Red Sox are essentially committing to Jacoby Ellsbury as the center fielder for the Red Sox in 2009.

However, Crisp and his gold glove-level defense* are still on the roster. And, with a number of fly ball pitchers in the rotation and the bullpen, playing Crisp, despite his offensive offense (a term I just don't hear enough of) isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. (The Red Sox won the World Series with Crisp starting through most of the ALCS last season, remember?)

Still, at minimum, Ellsbury is the future in Boston. Crisp has made it known that he would like a trade if he isn't going to play every day, but off the top of my head, I can't think of a team that would be willing to trade anything of significance for Crisp at this stage. Maybe the Twins would still be interested, but they likely don't fancy themselves a contender this year, so trading for a veteran like Crisp probably doesn't suit them well.

Theo is likely working the phones to see what the market is for a good field no hit center fielder. I don't imagine playing one or the other will result in any substantial difference in the Sox record, at least through the first few months of the year. Therefore, Theo can bide his time a bit, and wait to see what deals come to him. In any case, expect Ellsbury to be the starter beginning sometime before the All-Star break, and ending sometime in about a decade.

2. 5th Starter - The Sox were entering spring training with five starters penciled into their five man rotation. Five men for five spots. Perfect. Nothing could mess that up... poop. Oh well. Schilling's injury threw a monkey wrench through that sugar glass window.

An injury of this nature could wreck the season for another team, but the Sox were prepared. Clay Buchholz, who's name I've just recently learned to spell, should be the fifth starter coming out of Ft. Myers. The Sox are making noise about using His Craziness, Julian Tavarez or Kyle "Not Bronson Arroyo" Snyder, but neither of those pitchers is half the pitcher Buchholz is. True, the Sox will have to manage his innings, but there's no reason they can't do that from the rotation.

We know what we'll be getting from Tavarez and Snyder. This isn't to denigrate them, there's a reason they're on the roster, but unlike last season when the Yankees started the year with a record of -8-7,000, the Red Sox are going to need to win to stay in first place. That means getting quality outings as often as possible. Which is why they need their best pitchers to throw for the big club, and not Pawtucket.

Buchholz should be and very likely will fill Schilling's shoes.

3. Back End of the Bull Pen - TGNG. That's Thank God No Gagne. The Red Sox won't have to worry now that Frenchy McSteroids has taken his arsonist ass to Milwaukee. Minus FMcS, the Sox have some slots filled. Which slots are those? Well, funny you should ask. How do you like them apples?

Papelbon, Okajima, Snyder, Tavarez, Timlin, and Vasquez would seem to be locks based on a combination of performance, salary, and service time. That leaves one slot left to fill.

So who will the Sox get to fill that last slot. There are a few contenders to that most precious of thrones. The 'big' names go thusly:

Brian Corey (pros: good control; cons: doesn't throw hard), David Aardsma (pros: throws hard; cons: doesn't know where its going), Craig Hansen (pros: doesn't snore anymore; cons: not a very good pitcher).

Unless Hansen takes a step forward, I expect him to end up back in AAA ball. I think the Sox are going to be very careful with him after trying to force his way into the bigs. Corey is an intriguing option. He seems to pitch effectively where ever he is, but since he isn't a hard thrower and he isn't left handed, he keeps needing to prove himself. I wouldn't be surprised if he was the last guy to make the pen.

*The Gold Gloves are such a joke that I don't even like using them to describe defensive quality. However, by most accounts, both visual and statistical, Crisp played an outstanding center field last season.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Time to get our title defense on.

Pitchers and catchers report to Ft. Myers today. I'm not scheduled to report for another month, but I am supposed to report to work (and write a report), so I'll just say this: it couldn't have come soon enough.

Go Sox!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Its an exciting time of year here in Red Sox land (also known as 'my head'). We celebrated truck day in the typical fashion, by wearing as much Red Sox gear to work humanly as possible. We are starting to read stories in the Boston papers about players turning up 'in great shape' or 'in the shape of his life.' You never seem to read what a tub of goo someone is, or how many ho-ho's they ate over the winter, or how Curt Schilling hurt his shoulder shoving chicken wings into his gullet at Wing Bowl.*

Yes, the team is assembling for another run down in sunny and perfect (at least for two months before it gets run over by another 'storm event') Ft. Myers. This is the time of year when we all dream, my friends. We dream of the impossible, the downright improbable, and the likely. For example, Roger Clemens shutting his pie hole, Mike Lowell hitting .330+ again, and Johnny Damon professing his love for the Yankees. Again. Still, there is much work to be done, roster decisions to be sorted out, injuries to be accounted for, and predictions to be written, and then denied.

Turning to the '08 Sox, if you didn't know better you might mistake this team for the '07 (World Champion) version. To be sure there are similarities, but there are also differences. Probably the biggest change will be that the Sox won't be relying on Ol' Curt again this year. That's not to say they won't leave the light on for him, but the magic shoulder fairy (Jaime Farr) is gonna have to come down and rub a combination of pixie dust, IcyHot, and horse tranquilizer on there. Personally, I wouldn't expect Eli Manning to throw that touchdown pass again, if you know what I'm saying.

Without Ol' Curt hanging around, the Sox are going to have to patch a hole in their rotation. For any other team that could be a huge problem, but for this team, its just a large problem. Actually, this just proves yet again how smart, prepared, forward thinking, and straight up coated in awesome Theo Epstein is. And no, you can't bring up J.D. Drew. A week ago the Sox were headed into camp with six guys for five rotation spots with Ol' Curt, so some quick math here... carry the two... multiply by eight... move the decimal... and there you have it: now, five guys for five spots. Follow me, to the '08 Red Sox rotation:


My non-sexual mancrush on Buchholz makes it difficult to rank him fifth, but I'll get past it. *!happy place!* The danger here is that two are very young, and one is very old. To win, we need full seasons out of all those guys. One injury and instead of bringing up Buchholz, we're putting Tavarez back in there, which as we all know, often results in my fist repeatedly banging against things. This is to be avoided at all costs. Not because of the things, but because of my fist. I'm old and fragile.

There are some other options, but the Red Sox don't seem to be interested in trading prospects for 'proven innings eaters.' Frankly I don't blame them. Still, the potential for injury is there, which could serve to derail the Sox title defense.

Another potential problem area while I'm focusing on the negative here, is at catcher. Jason Varitek's best years are likely in the past, but he is still an upper echelon catcher. This speaks more to the league-wide talent level at catcher than anything else. Regardless, the Sox don't have anyone who can step in if (/when) Varitek gets hurt. You want 500 at-bats of Doug "Swing-and-a-miss!" Mirabelli? Hey, I love the sole patch as much as the next guy, but it takes more than well placed facial hair to hit in the major leages. Or so I've read. If Varitek goes down the Sox could be in some trouble.

So, whats the point of all this rambling? Just this: Its spring training time, and I couldn't be happier.

*This would be completely true except for the fact that I just made it up.

Monday, February 04, 2008


OK - I'm an idiot. I misread Gammon's blog. It wasn't Gammons who said the block quote below, it was "an unnamed Red Sox official." In the words of El Guapo's Ghost, someone "probably having a beer at the Corner Clubhouse."

So, in light of my lousy reading skills, let me amend my previous post (which I will leave up as a monument to my mistake). Get ready for my...

New and Improved Post: Now With Facts!

What exactly is Gammons trying to prove with a dumb quote like that?

Thank you very much!!

(in light of the above, kindly disregard the next hundred or so words...)


Via the fabulous, Peter Gammons asserts in his blog that Red Sox fans should get used to the idea of Josh Beckett pitching for another team after 2010, the final year of his current deal. The actual quote, in its entirety, is as follows:
We'd better enjoy Josh Beckett the next three years. Because we won't be able to sign him after his deal is up after 2010.
I say the following as a Gammons lover: how the hell does he know? Beckett may leave Boston after 3 more years, but then again he may not. Gammons may know lots of people in the industry, and he may be a first class reporter, but theres no way he can predict the future. That statement is simply ridiculous.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


That was some seriously f'd up sh*t.


Who cares about my Superbowl pick. This is a Red Sox blog after all, and nobody even cares about that. Still, for posterity's sake, heres my call:

Patriots 38, Giants 17

Exciting stuff, no?

Saturday, February 02, 2008


If anyone has any doubts about the contract the Red Sox signed Josh Beckett to one year ago, they should evaporate into the ether after hearing of Johan Santana's new deal to pitch for the Mets. Santana's new deal reportedly pays him $150M (plus a small amount insignificant enough for me not to mention here, but still more than I'll make in the next 7 years) over the next seven years. For the math-retarded (me included), that breaks down to about $21,430,000 per year.

Contrast that with Beckett's deal, which will pay him $9.5M for this upcoming season, $10.5M in '09, and a $12M club option which, except for injury potential, the Red Sox would exercise right now.

But this doesn't really hurt the Red Sox that much. Beckett was always going to get his money if he pitches well, and he's in Boston for three more seasons. A lot can change in that time. Santana's new deal really hurts the Cleveland Indians. The Indians have reigning Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia under contract for just one more season. Sabathia isn't the pitcher that Santana is, but he's close, and he's two years younger.

Sabathia is going to make $9M this year, but he can get more than twice that on the open market. The Yankees and Mets are both going to be looking for a starter next off season, as both have some serious money coming off the books after this season (Pedro, Delgado, and Alou for the Mets, and Giambi, Mussina, Abreu, Pettitte, and Pavano for the Yankees). The Red Sox, Dodgers and Angels could also kick Sabathia's proverbial tires as well.

Sabathia will have to take a serious hometown discount to stay in Cleveland as its doubtful that the Indians will be able to throw money around like the bigger market teams. If that was going to happen though, it likely already would have. Somewhere around late July the Indians are going to have to decide if they can win it all this season, because if not Sabathia could be on the move.


In actual Red Sox news, the Sox signed Sean Casey to fill their Mediocre-Veteran-Hitter slot. I'll get more into the roster crunch later on this month, but for now, I'll rank this move as Three Yawns.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Even though he literally works for the enemy, our best wishes go out to the terrific writer, moralist, professor of popular culture, and BP and Pinstriped Bible author, Steven Goldman, who is recovering from surgery. Get well soon, Mr. Goldman. You are in our thoughts.


The Red Sox are trying to resolve some contractual issues with a few of their younger (read: haven't been in the majors very long yet) players. Chief among those is starting first baseman Kevin Youkilis who made the paltry sum of just over $400,000 last season. [pause to dab at tears...] Youkilis was likely one of the only players who's World Series share was greater than his salary.

Fortunately for Kevin and the next eight generations of Youkilises, this is the season to cash in. Youk is finally arbitration eligible meaning he gets a raise. The way this all works, generally speaking, is that both the player and the team exchange salary figures and if they can't agree then both figures are submitted to an arbitrator who listens to arguments from both sides and then choses one of the figures.

According to the Boston Globe, Youk submitted a figure of $3.7 Million, while the Sox offered $2.525 Million. In either case young Mr. Youkilis should be set for a while.

This whole process got me thinking that while Youkilis is the prototypical Red Sox player, I wonder how long he'll be in a Red Sox jersey. He is 29 years old this year, and by the time he is eligible for free agency, he'll be 32. That means that just as he is getting really expensive, his skills are going to start to drop away.

One thing we've all learned beginning somewhere around 2003 give or take a few years depending on your learning curve, is that the Red Sox aren't likely to settle for below average production from a position too long without making a change (whether that change will be an improvement or not is another matter entirely). This isn't to say Youkilis is below average. I don't believe he is at all, but in three years relative to his salary his production may not be equal in value to what his salary demands will be at that time.

While Youk is great at getting on base, he doesn't have the power that one normally associates with a corner infielder. The one saving grace for Youk is his defensive flexibility. Lowell is signed for three more seasons and one can safely assume that he'll play at least two and likely all three of those years in Boston. After those three years, the position of Red Sox third baseman will come open again coincidentally right as Youkilis reaches free agency.

Lots of things can happen three years down the road. There are a million variables to consider, so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for me to project that far in the future. But, it will be interesting to see as it always is, what the Sox do. For now, they are set at the infield corners with Youk and Lowell for three more years.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Thats right, Dougie is back! Get ready for another year of Ks from The Soul Patch.

Not finding anything remotely palatable on the market, the Red Sox decided that the devil they know (who can catch knuckle balls) is better than the devil they don't (who, presumably, can't).

You can exhale now.


In his excellent blog on Monday, the internet's Aaron Gleeman went through a semi-thorough explication of the Red Sox and Yankees reported offers to the Twins for Johan Santana and provides his always well reasoned opinion in terms of which deal would be better for Minnesota. (Spoiler alert: NY's offer is better.)

Its a very interesting and well-written piece, which isn't surprising for Gleeman. Probably like many baseball bloggers, reading Gleeman's stuff was an inspiration of sorts for starting this blog. And while I intended that as a compliment, now that I re-read it, I'm not so sure it really is.

In any case, Gleeman consistently does a great job, and if you don't read him on a regular basis then you are missing out. As for his post, while I agree with his analysis, I think he undersells some of the Red Sox lesser prospects who are reported to be included in the deal, Jed Lowrie in particular. I wouldn't mind seeing Lowrie play shortstop for the Sox next season, though with Julio Lugo's increasingly-terrible-by-the-moment-contract that isn't likely to happen.

The truth of the matter to me comes down to how the Twins value the different players, what the state of their farm system is at the moment and what their plans are for the next three to four years, when they would cheaply control most of the players they would acquire in trade. For example, if the Twins think they will be able to compete in their division in two years, getting a single great prospect (Hughes) could be the best way to go. A single great player can push a contending team into the playoffs. However, if they think they have many holes to fill, they could be better off getting multiple above average and average major league regulars, which it seems to me is what the Red Sox deal is about.

One thing that Gleeman nails is that most prospect evaluators regard Hughes as one of, if not the best, starting pitching prospect in baseball. Thats a hard chip to beat, whether you have a hole the size of Lake Minnetonka in center field or not. While Hughes is the one with the highest upside, conversely, its the Red Sox offer, not New York's, that taken as a whole has the higher upside.

I discussed the Red Sox players a number of posts ago, and unlike the players the Yankees have offered, each player the Red Sox have offered has the potential to end up as an above average major league regular. Of course, like the Yankees package, that probably won't happen simply due to general attrition. Lets compare. I'll skip the Lester version of the Red Sox offer simply because Gleeman does.

Phil Hughes vs. Jacoby Ellsbury- Hughes is obviously the one uber-prospect here, but thats not to say that Ellsbury doesn't have star potential. He simply doesn't have the high ceiling that Hughes does, and of course, he doesn't have the burn-out or injury potential either.

Melky Cabrera vs. Jed Lowrie-Cabrera has a lower ceiling, and in a few years he may not even be a major league regular. His body type isn't one that you often see patrolling centerfield, and though he provides good defense now, that will change once his speed starts to go a bit and he doesn't have speed to lose. He'll likely end up in an outfield corner and that means that his bat will have to carry him, and there is serious doubt about his ability to hit enough to warrant playing him somewhere besides center field.

Lowrie could be a starting shortstop in the bigs, but more ideally he'd be second baseman. Still, he gets on base very well generally (a skill the Twins badly need) and better than any player mentioned in either deal, and has some projectable power. Unlike Cabrera, Lowrie will likely stay at an up the middle defensive position, and that has some serious value.

Justin Masterson vs. 'a pair of mid-level prospects-Masterson is a hard sinkerball pitcher who projects as a good set-up man in the bigs. Its unclear which 'mid-level prospects' NY would include in the deal, but its hard to give faceless prospects the lead over someone specific (and good).

Looking at the best case scenario for each player isn't particularly realistic, but its difficult to get a fair handle on exactly what each player will be. From what I've gathered, Hughes could be a #1 or #2 starter, and has ace potential. Ellsbury will likely be a starting center fielder who could make an all-star game or two. Cabrera is likely an average outfielder who will move to a corner in a few years. Lowrie is likely a starting up-the-middle infielder in a year or so who, like Ellsbury, won't be the best at his position (like Hughes could be) but should be comfortably above average.

After that, its tough to say because all the other potential additions are too far away from the major leagues to know. At that point you probably just look at projectability, and Masterson ranks higher than anyone the Yankees have reportedly offered. Now, if the Yankees are offering Ian Kennedy, then the discussion changes, but I'm assuming, like Gleeman, that Kennedy isn't on the table.

Despite all of that, Gleeman makes the salient point that the team that gets the best player wins the deal. If you accept that as fact then you are starting from a losing position when trading the consensus best starting pitcher in baseball in Santana. The only thing that remains is to get the best players that best fit what the team is trying to do and fill holes in your major league roster and minor league system. Otherwise you end up like Arizona did when they accepted what ended up being a bunch of junk for Curt Schilling.


With today's news that the Mets are getting back into the deal, the above could be rendered useless. It seems that asside from Hank Steinbrenner, every other participant in this two month long soap opera would rather that Santana end up with the Mets. The Red Sox don't seem too jazzed about giving up prospects and meeting Santana's contract demands, though they will to thwart the Yankees; the Yankees GM, and the lesser Steinbrenner brother seem to be in that same boat. The Mets would love to get him for obvious reasons, and the Twins would rather he end up in the National League so they don't have to face him all the time.

So, if the Mets can put together an offer that compares evenly with what is on the table now, I would expect that Santana will be wearing the light blue and orange come Spring Training.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Yes Jim-Mora's-Voice-In-My-Head. Playoffs. My team did pretty well when I put up a post over here last week (killed the Cowboys 27-6), so I thought, "Hell, it can't hurt to try again." And here we are.

After beating their arch enemies, the Redskins are in Seattle to take on the surely-over-caffeinated-and-therefore-ready-to-poop-at-any-moment Seahawks at one vowel short Qwest Field.


The Seahawks, you may know, had the easiest schedule in all of pro football this season, yet only managed to go 10-6. They haven't beaten a team with a winning record since Week 1 of the NFL season. This is a 7-9 team masquerading as a 10-6 team.

Conversely the Redskins had either the second hardest or the fourth hardest schedule in the NFL this year, whether you go by conventional statistics or more advanced, respectively. They beat a winning team last week (say what you want, Dallas played all of their starters into the third quarter at which point they were down two touchdowns), and they are an 11 win team in 9 win team's clothing.


Thats all the 'analysis' I'm going to put up here, but its probably pretty clear what I think is going to happen. Of course, that counts for absolutely nothing, and I've been known to be 100% wrong about things like this before, right President Mondale? All of which is to say I don't bet on football games. You may as well bet on puppy flipping.

With Johan Santana still in limbo somewhere over the midwest, no new contracts immanent for either Kevin Youkilis or Terry Francona, and nothing overly embarrassing coming from the great toilet in the Bronx, y'all could be stuck with some football posts here for a bit. Or the Skins could get smoked and I'd have to go back to writing about what an ultramaroon Hank Steinbrenner is.

Go Skins!

Friday, January 04, 2008


More non-news on the Johan Santana front. (Is there any other front? For better or worse this seems to be a one front off-season.) The in-again-out-again Yankees are in again, as Hank Steinbrenner has declared the team back in on Santana. I'm not sure what being "back in on Santana" means, (they're going to crush him with a truck?) but whatever it is the Yankees are it.

In related news, the Mets are either considering or not considering, depending on who you talk to, giving up Jose Reyes in a Santana deal. Also, they could be giving up the entire worth of their farm system, which, seriously, consists of four prospects. Or they might not. Aren't rumors great?

Of course the World Series Champion Red Sox are still in this too, though Peter Gammons doesn't think they should be. Or more accurately, he doesn't think they should pull the trigger. I can't say I disagree with him. Still, its hard to believe that the Sox have a legitimate shot at the consensus best starting pitcher in baseball and probably more than half their fans are going, "Don't do it!" That speaks to the might of the Sox farm system. Either that or the incredible conservatism that trading Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena has created among the fan base.

Still, as I've stated over and over and over again in unison with some people much smarter than I, Santana is still very likely to be dealt. Unless he drops his asking price by about $80 Million that is. Then the smart money is on his staying put. But the smart money isn't on him dropping his asking price by $80 Million, so he's likely gone.

Theres still roughly two more months until spring training starts though, so expect this to take about 1.9 more months to complete. Here's hoping Santana ends up with the Hiroshima Karp. How many yen is $160 Million anyway?

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I call shenanigans on Hank Steinbrenner. Isn't it illegal in MLB to discuss a player on another team? Its supposed to be, but Steinbrenner doesn't think twice about opening his fat yap and spewing forth about Santana on a regular basis. Shouldn't someone at MLB HQ do something about this?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Still no news on Santana. The Globe has had a post up saying the Sox are the frontrunners for a couple weeks now. I covered the players the Sox could include in a deal for Santana here, but its entirely possible that the rumors of the Twins holding on to him to start the season were true.

However, when wondering if a trade will happen, its important to remember that the market for Santana is the biggest its going to be during this off season. This is because Santana has only one more year left on his contract. Thus each game he pitches for Minnesota is one less game he can pitch for a new team, and one less game worth of value that a team would give up for him in trade.

The Twins could look to deal him at the deadline, but again, they'd presumably be getting less in trade for him than they would now. If they hold on to him for the whole season, all they'll get in return is two number one picks. So, all signs point to Santana being dealt somewhere before the season starts.

There is still a ways to go before Spring Training begins, so this could drag out for a while. Stay tuned!