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Red Sox Ruminations and Other Baseball Banter



Updated: 2015-09-16T11:22:02.430-05:00

 



Where was Foulke, Terry?

2006-05-30T02:52:44.836-05:00

(image) David Riske in the 8th inning of a tie ballgame! Are you serious, Terry? The guy has thrown 2 innings all season and hasn't pitched in a pressure situation since about 2004. You barely trust Manny Delcarmen with a 3-run lead, but you're going to let this clown pitch in a tie ballgame? He was literally throwing batting practice fastballs. Even Bengie Molina hit two doubles off of him in a single at-bat!

Shea Hillenbrand (5-8, HR, 3 RBI career vs Foulke) was probably the reason for the managerial blunder. Still, Shea was due to hit third that inning. Molina, the first batter of the inning, was 0-13 lifetime vs Foulke. The next batter, Aaron Hill, is 1-5 lifetime. So, if things went according to plan (and I admit that this is a risky proposition with Foulke), then Hillenbrand should be batting with the bases empty.

Did the situation really call for using a pitcher that returned from the DL on May 23rd, and hasn't pitched a single inning since that very night? C'mon. I could obviously beat this thing into the ground, but I'll digress.

If the bullpen trouble continues, don't be surprised to see Hansen, Lester, and maybe even Big Edgar Martinez in Boston before July. Oh yeah, that Clemens guy? Better keep your fingers crossed on that one too because Matt Clement looks like a total trainwreck out there. And honestly, I feel for him. He seems like a good guy and I don't wish him any ill will, but my God, the kid just can't handle the pressure. Do the Mets still need a starter?

Now that we got that negativity out of the way, let's talk about one of the positives over the past couple of weeks -- Mark Loretta. Did anyone honestly think this guy was going to continue batting below .250?

He consistently has a BABIP in the .335+ range, so it was only a matter of time before his numbers began to rise. I'll admit, I had concerns that his hand injury from 2005 was still causing problems, but he quickly put those fears to bed. Now he's hitting the ball on a line nearly every at-bat and the hits are coming in bunches. With such good contact and low strikeout numbers, this doesn't appear to be a product of luck. Expect Loretta to continue to tear the cover off the ball.

I'll have more tomorrow. Peace.



This blogger returns; Coco soon to follow

2006-05-25T01:52:06.166-05:00

Sorry I haven't been around much lately. Finals have been very hectic, but I'm finally free, so this blog will see daily updates.

Rather than rehash the past couple weeks, I'll just start with a clean slate.

The latest, and probably most predictable, news comes courtesy of Ian Browne's blog on MLB.com. Browne reports:

"For those of you who might be wondering if there is a leadoff controversy in store, considering how great Youkilis has done since Coco has been out, consider the issue to be over.

Terry Francona made it clear today that Coco will lead off when he comes back, which figures to be Monday night in Toronto. Youkilis said he doesn't care at all, and that spots in the order are irrelevant."


I can't say I really agree with the decision, but I'm not surprised in the least. There have been studies done that show that lineup construction has very little bearing on scoring output, but I'm not so sure how much stock I put into them.

Obviously, we want guys with high OBPs in front of Ortiz and Ramirez. If we're going to stick to this rule of thumb, Youkilis and Loretta should be manning the 1 and 2 spots. However, since Francona feels the need to employ a prototypical leadoff hitter at the top of the order, Coco will get the nod.

What can ya do? I'm sure Coco will do just fine up there, and moving Youkilis to the 7 or 8 spot will do wonders for the bottom of the order. What would be interesting is if Terry chose to move Alex Gonzalez into the 8 spot, with Youkilis batting ninth and serving as the double-leadoff hitter that Tony LaRussa has used in the past. This strategy would give the meat of the order more RBI opportunities and would surely prevent Youk from being stranded on base over and over by the putrid A-Gon.

That's all for now. More tomorrow.

P.S. - The Sabermetric stats have been updated through last night's game. I will look over them tomorrow and pull out anything of interest. Take care.



Musings after two in the Bronx

2006-05-11T01:19:11.333-05:00

Obviously, Tuesday night's game was very enjoyable. The Yankees made mistakes and the Sox capitalized on them all. That's what good teams do. The bottom of the order, Dustan Mohr and Alex Gonzalez, had me throwing a fit prior to the game. Sure enough, they went a combined 3-for-5, with 3 RBI and 5 runs scored. Hey, I can't be perfect.Loretta's bat really seems to be coming around, with 3 hits on Tuesday and 2 more on Wednesday. So much for Ortiz' slump, too, as he's gone 5-8 so far in the series. And speaking of Ortiz, did anyone happen to see Lenn Robbins' follow-up article to The Post's Mike Vaccaro's piece on backing Ortiz off of the plate? Here's a small taste of this absolute abortion of an article:"Mike Vaccaro rattled Boston slugger David Ortiz, his manager, and teammates with his well-thought-out column yesterday in which he said it's time for the Yankees pitchers to make Big Papi uncomfortable at the plate."You really can't make this stuff up. Lenn must have been grabbing leftovers from the fridge as Big Papi reached base in each of his first three times at bat, scored twice, and crushed a gap-shot double that knocked the Unit out of the game. Francona and the rest of the club were clearly bewildered as well. Aside from filling out the lineup card, did Tito even need to be at this game? Seriously.As for Wednesday night's game, things just weren't as peachy. First off, Willie Harris should not be starting games, nevermind games versus the Yankees. He's a pinch-runner and defensive replacement in blowouts. If you're going to keep him in the roster, these are his two roles. He doesn't swing the bat. He's now batting below .100. Need I say more?Also gotta love how both pitcher/catcher mound conferences led to absolute bombs.First, Posada decides to trot out and chat up Mussina after Ortiz had already fouled off about five of Moose's curveballs. Obviously, Ortiz is going to be sitting dead-red on the next pitch. Posada returns to the plate and sets up over the inside corner of the plate. My roommate and I immediately look at one another and laugh. Two seconds later, that baseball was sitting in the right field upper deck. Did Mussina and Posada honestly think they were going to get that pitch past Big Papi? Oh yeah, good work Mike Vaccaro. Clearly Ortiz is still feeling the aftershocks of your masterful piece.Next, in the fifth, Schilling got behind in the count versus Alex Rodriguez. Varitek strolled out to calm Schill down and tried to get him to throw strikes. Sure enough, Schill comes with the fastball and A-Rod serves it over the left field wall.Moral of the story -- don't throw fastballs following a mound meeting. At this point, you're obviously pressing, and a smart hitter is going to know you're likely to hum a heater over the plate to get back in the groove. You might be able to pull this act with the Alex Gonzalez's of the world, but you're not going to trick Big Papi or A-Rod, so don't even try.I'm getting tired, so rather than continuing my recap, I'm going to form the rest of this post in the vein of NESN's most recent advertising blunder."Willie Harris and Alex Gonzalez in the same lineup? C'mon. Wait, are you serious? You are? Get me a barf bag.""Throw Wakefield in there, and they're unstoppable!" (This one is just too ridiculous for mockery)."Randy Johnson? He's so intense on the mound! Oh wait, no he isn't. He looked practically catatonic as he walked off the field on Tuesday.""Did you see that catch Melky made?! No? Me neither.""And then you've got Bernie...being Bernie."[...]



A couple first month thoughts

2006-05-06T17:47:23.066-05:00

What to make of Mike Lowell?
After 27 games, I can't help but be incredibly impressed with what Mike Lowell has been able to accomplish this year. His defense has come as advertised, but his bat has been sooo much more productive than expected. When Theo made the trade for Josh Beckett, the Sox were required to take Mike Lowell, the $9 Million alabtross, for the trade to go through.

One month into the season, Mike Lowell is leading the league with 16 doubles. Will he keep up the .350 batting average? Not likely. Will he remain on pace for 95 doubles? Of course not. Mike Lowell may not have the 30+ homerun power he had in years past, but you can be sure that he will play a Gold Glove-caliber base while getting on base at an above-average clip. One question for the pundits out there -- I thought Mike Lowell didn't have any bat speed?

It's also important to note Lowell's split vs RHP and LHP. Coming into this season, Lowell's ability to hit LHP was his only saving grace, but this year he has shown an incredible ability to hit righties. This bodes well for his future prospects. His numbers vs LHP should rise, so if he can continue to hit righties at an above-average clip, the Sox will have themselves a serious threat. We must temper our excitement however, as the season is only one month old. Below are Lowell's RHP/LHP splits.


(image)


Who leads off when Coco returns?
In Coco's absence, Kevin Youkilis has done nothing but get on base. Should he remain in the top spot when Coco returns? Personally, I believe he should, but will Tito do this? I find it hard to believe. Youkilis needs to lead off for two important reasons. 1) His OBP is far superior to Coco's, and 2) Crisp's speed is much more valuable further down the lineup than in front of the Ortiz and Ramirez. With the big boppers coming up, it is safer to play station-to-station. If Coco steals seconds, the opposing team is likely to just walk Ortiz or Ramirez with first base now open.

(image) What I'd like to see is Crisp batting in front of Loretta, preferably lower down in the order. With Loretta putting the ball in play 93% of the time, hit-and-runs could be executed to perfection with Crisp. However, vs LHP, this is difficult, because aside from Crisp and a rebounded-Loretta, there really is no one else to bat in the 2-hole. The lineups I'd like to see are to the left.

However, I think there is about a 5% chance these lineups are actually employed by Terry Francona. Look for Crisp in the top spot with Youkilis batting 2nd. It's not the most effective lineup construction, but it'll get the job done, I suppose.

Also note that the 2006 Sox Sabermetric Stats have been updated through Friday night's game.



Sox reacquire Mirabelli

2006-05-01T14:44:06.320-05:00

Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine is reporting that the Boston Red Sox have finalized a trade to obtain catcher Doug Mirabelli from the San Diego Padres in exchange for catcher Josh Bard, minor-league pitcher Cla Meredith and cash.

He also adds that the Yankees tried to obtain Mirabelli to block him from returning to Boston, but the Red Sox won out.

Personally, I love the deal. Many are clamoring over the loss of Cla Meredith, but I just don't see him ever being a quality major league reliever. They're arguing that his small sample size in Boston should be ignored, but I feel that his MLB performance from last year, plus his poor performance in AAA last year and this year goes a long way to prove that he may just never be successful above AA.

Sure, Bard could have eventually learned to catch the knuckler, but with the Yankees in town, it just wasn't worth waiting to find out. Mirabelli has proven he can catch the knuckleball and despite the praise Wakefield heaped upon Bard, he is much more comfortable with Mirabelli. It also can't hurt that while Wakefield has managed to square off against every single left-handed starter in the league, Doug has shown the ability to mash lefties.

It's also important to note that this deal opens up a spot on the 40-man roster. Roger would fit in nicely.

UPDATE: Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press is reporting that the Sox are receiving Doug Mirabelli for Josh Bard, minor-league reliever Cla Meredith and either cash or another player. This leads me to believe that the PTBNL will be rather insignificant.

UPDATE II: ESPN.com has updated their story and reports that the trade is Doug Mirabelli from the San Diego Padres in exchange for catcher Josh Bard, minor-league pitcher Cla Meredith and $100,000. There is no mention of a PTBNL.



Sox fail with runners in scoring position

2006-05-01T00:59:52.876-05:00

The 9th inning on Sunday was a microcosm of the Sox' main struggle thus far: hitting with runners in scoring position. Sure, the Sox have been able to bop a solo homerun here and there, but from just watching the games, it seems as if they've been positively anemic at hitting with runners in scoring position.

On Sunday, trailing by 3 in the 9th inning, Mike Lowell and Wily Mo go back-to-back and bring the Sox within a run, then Trot Nixon worked a walk. Willie Harris ran for Nixon (which is the only thing Willie Harris should ever be doing for this team) and took off for second. An errant throw by Toby Hall landed Harris on 3rd with one out. At this point, based on the Run Expectancy chart, the Sox should score another .983 before the inning ends.

The next batter, J.T. Snow was hit by a pitch, increasing that number to 1.243 runs. At this point, the Sox should, at the very least, tie the ballgame. A simple fly ball will score the tying run, but Kevin Youkilis, the next batter, strikes out. Mark Loretta then goes on to groundout to the shortstop for the final out of the game.

This is how it's been all season it seems. Men get on base, but they don't score due to poor situational hitting. The Red Sox are third in the American League with 238 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but rank third-to-last with a pitiful .235 batting average. But, you say, the Red Sox have some sluggers on their team! Maybe they've not hitting for a high average, but they're surely crushing the balls that they are actually hitting! Wrong. The Sox rank 11th out of 14 teams with a putrid .336 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position.

I could obviously go on forever here, but you're probably better off just taking a look at the graph below to get a real idea of how bad they've truly been.

(image)



Sox hope to turn it around vs Pinstripes

2006-05-01T00:36:29.203-05:00

A 3-6 roadtrip? Color me displeased. The comeback win on Saturday was nice, but you just can't lose 2-of-3 to Tampa. The offense really needs to pick up the slack, and hopefully Fenway will be just the cure for their hitting woes.

It was a nice attempt at a comeback earlier tonight, but really, the Sox were lucky to get as close as they did at the end. Rudy Seanez? Can you feel that breathing on your neck? It's Craig Hansen. We'll see if you're still on the club come mid-June.

So what will tomorrow night be like? It's going to be interesting, that's for sure. I'll be at the game, and my personal plan is to applaud Johnny, then mildly boo him for the rest of his at-bats. I just can't look past what he did in Game 7 of the ALCS, so he deserves to be thanked for that.

After that? He's a Yankee, and you won't find me cheering for him. I'm actually hoping something spontaneous breaks out as his name is announced. Nothing would be sweeter than a "COCO'S BETTER" chant as Johnny strolls to the plate. Too good to be true? Perhaps, but who honestly expected Mariano Rivera to receive a standing-o when he was announced at Opening Day 2005?

As for the actual game, and the series for that matter, I'm pretty thrilled that we didn't draw Randy Johnson because this club can't hit a lefty to save its life. In 25 games thus far, the Sox have faced a lefty starter 10 times! In a league where roughly 20% of the games are started by a left-hander, you really begin to realize the tough draw that the Sox have received. Wanna be depressed? Take a look at the Sox lefty/righty splits that I've posted on the stats website. In a word -- ugly.

(image) I hate to say it, because I know the guy is giving it his all, but this may be Josh Bard's last chance to rein in the knuckler. If his passed balls end up being the difference in a game versus the Yankees, I just don't think the Sox can continue to employ him, just from a PR standpoint (and I'm usually one that really doesn't give a hoot about these things). It really makes you appreciate how talented Doug Mirabelli really was. Still, despite Loretta's struggles, I make that trade every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Recently acquired Corky Miller (pictured left) is currently the catcher in Pawtucket and has experience catching knuckle-baller Jared Fernandez in Cincinnati. There were rumors that he could have been called upon to catch Wakefield on Monday, but it appears the Sox are giving Bard one last shot.



Are the Sox making enough contact?

2006-05-01T14:43:48.356-05:00

After watching about a month of Red Sox baseball, I've become curious as to whether the lineup, as a whole, was putting the ball in play enough. I've decided to take a look at the Contact Rates for the Sox lineup. Contact Rate measures a batter's ability to get wood on the ball and hit it into the field of play. Those batters with the best contact skill will have levels of 90% or better, while the hackers will have levels of 75% or less.

Below are the Contact Rates for the 2006 Red Sox:


(image)

I figured the best way to get a feel for this would be to compare the 2005 and 2006 Contact Rates for each player. Below are the 2005 Contact Rates for the current lineup:

(image)

Surprisingly, the results aren't quite what I had expected. What shocked me most was how Mike Lowell actually had an 88% contact rate in 2005. Clearly, last season, he was putting the bat on the ball, but his power had completely dissipated.

Nixon and Varitek, the usual #5 hitters vs righties and lefties, respectively, are consistently getting wood on the ball. Considering the superb contact rate of Mark Loretta, the lineup should be hit its stride once Manny (and Ortiz to a lesser extent) hit their groove.

Right now, the lineup is really troubled by having to employ Alex Gonzalez, and one of Dustan Mohr, Wily Mo Pena, and Willie Harris on a nightly basis. The Sox, as a whole, are putting the ball in play a meager 79% of the time.

Tomorrow, I will take a closer look at the Isolated Power of the Sox lineup.



Catching up on the Cleveland series

2006-04-27T17:55:56.236-05:00

On Wednesday night, the Sox, aided by a Manny Ramirez tie-breaking home run in the 8th inning, toppled the Cleveland Indians by a score of 8-6. Curt Schilling, pitched 6.2 innings, allowing 5 runs, but pitched better than his statline would indicate.

What was most surprising was that he came out to pitch the 7th inning, after it appeared that he was most definitely tiring. Schilling finished with 133 pitches thrown, 89 for strikes. Schilling passed Hall of Famer Jim Bunning for 15th on the strikeout list with 2,863.

Papelbon received the save with a 10-pitch ninth inning.

Despite the victory, the Sox looked particularly terrible running the bases. In the third inning, Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook caught Ramirez off second base. As he stepped off the mound and ran towards Manny, Jason Varitek attempted to advance to second base, but the Indians overthrew on the rundown and tagged him out at second before throwing back to third to catch Ramirez. Francona later joked, "Manny tooketh away, but he gaveth a lot more late."

//

On Thursday night, the Sox didn't fare as well as they had the previous evening. The lost by a score of 7-1, with Victor Martinez' 3-run homer off of Tim Wakefield in the first proving to be the difference in the ballgame.

Josh Bard allowed four passed balls on the evening, bringing his season total to 10.

"I missed them, it's that simple," said Bard. "I don't know what else to say. I just didn't catch them."

Cliff Lee, the Indians starter, was tough as nails, allowing just one run on four hits in 6 strong innings. He was particularly feisty against David Ortiz, whom he strikeout twice. Although Ortiz has looked strong against lefties this season, he appeared completely overmatched by Lee.

//

Tonight, Josh Beckett squares off against Paul Byrd. Many of the Sox have fared rather well against Byrd in the past. Ortiz, Lowell, and Varitek have all previously gone deep vs Byrd.

Byrd's first month as an Indian has been a struggle, with control problems leading to big innings. What's most troubling is that Byrd has been beaten up by some of the lesser offenses in the American League. His latest outing against the Royals on Saturday was the roughest yet, in which he gave up seven runs on six hits with two walks in just three innings of work.

After the most frustrating loss of the season, in which Josh Beckett squandered most of a 6-2 lead to the Blue Jays, you can be that he can't wait to get back on the hill. Although it wasn't solely his fault, Beckett placed all the blame for that defeat on his shoulders. It goes without saying that Beckett has been very strong for Boston thus far, going at least seven innings in every start. This is his first career start against the Indians.

(image)



Red Sox @ Indians Series Preview

2006-04-23T23:32:13.510-05:00

Boston Red Sox @ Cleveland Indians - April 24-April 27 - Jacobs Field

Last season vs Cleveland:
Mon. June 20 @ Cleve W 10-9
Tue. June 21 @ Cleve W 9-2
Wed. June 22 @ Cleve W 5-4

Mon. June 27 Boston L 7-0
Tue. June 28 Boston L 12-8
Wed. June 29 Boston W 5-2


Cleveland Indians' Major League Rank:
Runs Scored: 113 (1st)
Batting AVG: .310 (2nd)
On-Base %: .371 (2nd)
Total Hits: 203 (1st)
Doubles: 43 (2nd)
So, yeah, it's quite obvious the Cleveland Indians can hit. Currently, their three hottest hitters are:

Travis Hafner (.343 AVG, .463 OBP, .731 SLG, 1.194 OPS)
Victor Martinez (.378 AVG, .420 OBP, .635 SLG, 1.055 OPS)
Casey Blake (.397 AVG, .464 OBP, .603 SLG, 1.081 OPS)

Below are the the full team batting stats, along with a few traditional sabermetric stats:

(image)

Rather than posting the rest of the series breakdown, visit my Red Sox @ Indians Series Preview on the Sons of Sam Horn. Feel free to comment or add any info you feel is appropriate for this upcoming series.



Sabermetric Stats Update: 4/22/06

2006-04-26T16:31:20.146-05:00

Since the stats of many of the Sox players are beginning to become relevant, I've started an Excel file with their traditional stats, coupled with several sabermetric stats.

I've started a separate webpage with the sabermetric stats, and I will update it 2-3 times per week.

The first installment can be found below:

2006 Boston Red Sox Sabermetric Stats

I will also post a permanent link to this page on the righthand side of the site.

I will post a preview for the Cleveland series tonight.



Loretta walk-off caps 7-6 Sox win

2006-04-18T01:04:23.793-05:00

(image)
It figures that the one afternoon I get stuck working, the offense finally busts out, led by Big Papi's two homers (and almost a third). All was not lost, though. I was fortunate enough to catch the entire bottom of the 9th on the radio as I rushed home, hoping to catch it on television.

Castiglione's call of Loretta's walk-off blast was phenomenal. While he and Trupiano are notorious for "trouping" me on many a false homerun call, Castiglione remained poised until the ball crashed into the second row of the Monster seats. I had goosebumps.

As I expected, Lenny DiNardo provided five solid innings. He did his job, allowing only two runs to cross the plate. The sinker was obviously working nicely, as DiNardo's groundball-to-flyball ratio for the afternoon was 10-4.

Seattle was able to score their other four runs off of the Boston bullpen, but couldn't put the game out of reach. The M's went ahead by a run in the top of the 9th, and Eddie Guardado came in to close it out. Everyday Eddie has been somewhat erratic this year, and it appeared that the Sox were aware of this. Wily Mo Pena and Dustan Mohr both struck out to start the inning, looking at a total of five strikes.

The next batter, Kevin Youkilis, also looked at two strikes from Guardado, but on a 1-2 count, he hit a grounder up the middle, but second baseman Jose Lopez was able to dive to his right and throw a strike to first base from his knees. However, Youk was hustling right out of the box and beat the throw by a split-second to keep the game alive. P.S. - Is there anyone that still thinks Kevin Youkilis is incapable of being an everyday player? The kid has been money all season, especially on defense. I know it's early and probably a pipe dream, but if Youk keeps this up, he needs to be in the discussion for a Gold Glove. This cannot be overlooked.

Also, the slow-motion replay of Youk hustling down the line goes down as one of my favorite slo-mo replays of all-time. I just love that type of stuff.

Loretta was next to the plate, and quickly ran the count to 2-0. With Big Papi on-deck, there was no doubt that Loretta was going to get a pitch to hit. Sure enough, Loretta got the 2-0 fastball right over the heart of the plate, and he raked it into the Monster seats, for his first career walk-off homerun.

Other game notes:
  • It was Ortiz' 21st career two-homer game, his 19th with the Red Sox. His second homer was his 500th hit with Boston.
  • Nixon returned to the lineup after missing the previous five games with a strained left groin and went 3-4 with two doubles and a run scored.
  • Manny Ramirez finally broke out, poking two nicely hit balls off of the Monster. Both went for singles.
  • In two career starts, Lenny DiNardo has allowed three earned runs in 11 innings, but didn't receive a victory in either start.
  • DiNardo admitted after the game that he teared up upon seeing Loretta's walk-off homerun.
  • Varitek appeared to be hobbling running down the line on his ground outs in the second and fourth, but played the entire game.
  • It was the Mariners' earliest-ever game, with an 11:07 first pitch.



Beckett mauls Mariners; Sox win 3-2

2006-04-17T01:50:39.846-05:00

On Sunday afternoon, Josh Beckett got over his first-inning excitedness and led the Sox to a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners. In all of Beckett's starts as a member of the Boston Red Sox, he has pitched to the tune of 7 innings and 1 earned run, leading the Sox to a victory in each contest.

One thing I've come to appreciate about Josh Beckett is that he can turn it on when he's in a tough situation. He can get in predicaments and gut his way through them. On Sunday, with the Sox leading by a run in the 6th inning, Raul Ibanez, the potential tying run, was standing on third base with only one out. The heart of Seattle's offense was due up. Without thinking, I instinctively leaned forward towards the television while simultaniously cranking the volume up. Let's face it, I was nervous. Of the 36,000+ at Fenway, all but one was nervous. The confident fellow? Meet Josh Beckett.

(image) Poor Richie Sexson was Beckett's first victim. With two strikes, Beckett broke off The Curveball From Hell. The curveball didn't bend. Instead, it forced the world to bend around it. Remember, in the early days of the bender, when folks used to insist that it was merely an optical illusion? Beckett's hellacious curveball laughs in their general direction. Ol' Uncle Charlie got the best of Richie Sexson.

Beckett's next victim? Adrian Beltre. After getting two strikes on Beltre, Varitek wanted to burn him with a heater just off the outside corner of the plate, but he wouldn't bite. It was officially challenge time. Beckett's next pitch was a 98 MPH fastball on the inside corner, level with Beltre's hands. Beltre took his best hack, but the ball exploded into Tek's mitt for the final out of the inning -- preserving the one-run lead.

Pressure? Josh doesn't comprehend that concept.

Papelbon slammed the door in the 9th, by completing his league-leading 6th save with another tidy 1-2-3 inning.

Lenny DiNardo takes the hill tomorrow in place of the injured Boomer Wells. With an essentially rested pen, if DiNardo can toss five solid innings, the Sox will be in good shape. The left-hander made one start last season, allowing one earned run on seven hits over six innings against the Orioles on September 2nd. As a fixture in Pawtucket's rotation, DiNardo went 6-3 with a 3.15 ERA in 22 starts. With an improved infield defense, and DiNardo's biting sinker, the Sox should be able to keep the Mariners at bay.

This offense has to bust out eventually, and I figure, what better occasion than Patriots Day? Manny Ramirez has looked more like Manny Alexander lately, but I'm not worried -- yet. Gil Meche isn't anything special, and with Nixon back in the lineup, the Sox should be able to do some damage.

Remember, the game is at 11 AM. See you guys then.



Boomer expected to miss next start

2006-04-15T11:15:41.843-05:00

Jeff Horrigan of the Boston Herald is reporting that David Wells is expected to miss his next start on Monday and could be headed back to the 15-day disabled list.

Boomer is still experiencing problems with his right knee and met with the Red Sox’ medical staff following last night’s win over the Seattle Mariners. No final determination was made, but according to the report, indications point to Wells returning to the DL to undergo further treatment on the knee, which required arthroscopic surgery last October.

Lenny DiNardo is expected to get the start in Boomer's absence. No word on who will fill DiNardo's role as the long-man, but I figure that Abe Alvarez and Matt Ginter are the leading candidates to get the call. Ginter intrigues me, and is pitching rather well in Pawtucket, already throwing 10 scoreless innings, incuding a terrific 5-inning outing on April 9th. I'm not as hot on Alvarez, mainly because
a pitcher who doesn't miss many bats and gives up a lot of flyballs is not a recipe for success in Fenway.

UPDATE: The Red Sox called up right-hander Jermaine Van Buren from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Wells' spot on the 25-man roster.



Schilling burns M's; Sox win 2-1

2006-04-15T02:16:57.823-05:00

Once is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a trend. And so it goes without saying that Curt Schilling nailed down his third win in as many starts on Friday night.

It poured practically the entire evening, but it sure didn't faze Curt Schilling, who allowed three hits in eight innings, leading Boston to a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Schilling struck out seven and walked none.

Alex Gonzalez, of all people, provided all the necessary offense by driving in both runs with a double off the Monster in the fourth inning. Gonzalez finished the night 3-for-4 with two doubles off of Seattle starter Jamie Moyer.

Jonathan Papelbon, earned his fifth save in five opportunities. So far this season, Papelbon has allowed hitters to go a lilliputian 2-for-20.

Other interesting notes:
  • The Sox are 3-0 when they score fewer than three runs after going 3-22 in such games last season.
  • The last four batters in Boston's lineup went a combined 8-for-16.
  • Manny Ramirez went 0-for-3 to extend his slump to 1-for-18.
  • The Sox have already played to three 2-1 final scores, winning all three.
  • The game matched two of baseball's best veteran pitchers as Schilling made his 517th major league appearance and Moyer made his 541st.
  • Next Game: Tomorrow @ 1:20 PM - Pineiro (1-1, 5.40 ERA) vs Wakefield (1-1, 6.52 ERA)



Crisp signed; Riske DL'd

2006-04-13T15:46:18.106-05:00

A few things to get to here.

Rather than recapping the home opener, which I'm sure most of you saw, I'll just say this: Josh Beckett is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season. He's a warrior on the mound and can scratch and claw his way through a game. He didn't have his best stuff yesterday, but as you saw, he was able to chew up the Blue Jays. Stud.

Next, Coco Crisp agreed with the Red Sox on a three-year extension that includes a club option for the 2010 season. Crisp already was signed for this year at $2.75 million. The extension contains a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $3.5 million in 2007, $4.75 million in 2008 and $5.75 million in 2009. The club option for 2010, which would buy out his first year of free agency, is at $8 million and includes $500,000 buyout and salary escalator provisions.

A good deal for the Sox here, essentially buying out Coco's arbitration years and adding an option year at the end. Three years of Coco for about the same amount of money as one year of Johnny Damon? I can't complain.

It was expected that Lenny DiNardo would be returned to Pawtucket today, as David Wells would be removed from the Disabled List. Well, that didn't happen. Instead, the Sox have decided to place reliever David Riske on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain, retroactive to April 5. Riske has only pitched once this season, giving up two runs and two hits in one inning.

I, personally, don't think Riske is hurt. He's just pitching poorly. The fact that he's been placed on the DL retroactive to April 5th is suspicious to me. That means he will be eligible to come off the DL on the 21st, the exact day that Stern is eligible to be sent to Pawtucket. It works out nicely.

Tonight, we take a 2nd straight from the Jays...

(image)





Dustan Mohr to be called up

2006-04-10T22:48:33.586-05:00

Gary Jacobs of Sox On Deck is reporting that Dustan Mohr will be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket as Coco Crisp's replacement.

From said report:
“I’m excited to have the opportunity,” said the newest member of the Boston Red Sox. “Kind of a bittersweet thing, because you hate to get called up because of an injury on one hand, but on the other hand, this is the reason I signed with the Red Sox, is to be a [Boston] Red Sox. I’m very excited about it. I can’t wait to go up there and do whatever they ask me to do.”



Sources: Ortiz contract extension imminent

2006-04-10T16:19:20.373-05:00

Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald is reporting that the chances are good that the Red Sox and designated hitter David Ortiz will announce a contract extension as soon as today.

Both sides are keeping extremely quiet, but indications from multiple baseball sources last night indicated that both sides were close to completing a deal. It is believed to be a 4-year-deal, through the 2010 season, worth in excess of $12 million a season.

Last-minute hangups could postpone an announcement of a deal today, but an announcement is expected in the coming days.

UPDATE: The Red Sox have announced that they have signed designated hitter David Ortiz to a four-year contract extension with a club option for 2011. No financial terms were revealed, but the deal is believed to be worth at least $12 million per season.



Steve Burton: Coco could miss 6-8 weeks

2006-04-09T23:27:23.590-05:00

On CBS4's Sports Final tonight, Bob Lobel reported that Steve Burton has learned that Coco Crisp could miss 6-8 weeks with a fractured left index finger.

Later on the show, Coco, himself, was shown standing in the stands in Fenway Park, just looking at everything, taking it all in, but then Steve Burton walked up and asked if he was pumped for Opening Day, to which Coco responded that it's going to be awesome, but that he pretty much wouldn't be playing.

When asked how the finger was, Coco said, "We'll see how it goes. We'll rest and see how it goes."

Gordon Edes reports that an Orioles doctor looked at it and preliminary reports are that it's fractured.

Coco said earlier today that if it was October, he'd be playing.

On WHDH's Sports Xtra, Joe Amorosino and Wendi Nix both reiterated that Coco could miss up to a month.

If you recall, on May 11, 2002, Manny Ramirez fractured his left index finger by diving into home head first. He was placed on the disabled list on May 14th and missed 39 games.



Sox top O's, 4-1

2006-04-09T22:42:14.106-05:00

First off, let's give a nice round of applause for one Josh Bard. Way to silence your critics, man. He caught the knuckler as well as anyone has and one could argue that he's the reason Wakefield was able to focus and set the O's down for 6 solid innings. The only run of the afternoon came in the first inning, as Miguel Tejada singled home David Newhan.

The highlight of Wakefield's afternoon came just after he yielded a double to a sizzling Ramon Hernandez, who then reached third base on Chris Gomez' single to right. Wakefield recovered by getting Corey Patterson, David Newhan, and Luis Matos to all go down swinging.

In the 7th, Timlin allowed two batters to reach base, but neither scored.

Foulke pitched the 8th inning and was nothing short of spectacular. He struck out the first two batters he faced and got the third to lineout to J.T. Snow at first on a botched bunt attempt. His changeup was sitting at 75 MPH again and had nasty low-and-away tailing action to the lefty batters. His fastball touched 89 MPH and he was placing it perfectly up in the zone.

(image) Papelbon pitched the 9th, and didn't look as sharp as he did the evening prior, but still got the Orioles to go quietly. Instead of the 97 MPH heater he was throwing on Saturday, his fastball topped out at 94 (and was mostly around 92), forcing popups rather than strikeouts. The ump seemed to be squeezing him a bit, so Papelbon was forced to come inside with his fastball, and accidently plunked Miguel Tejada on the elbow. Tejada wasn't too pleased, and it looked for a moment that he was about to go Bert Campaneris on the young fireballer.

On offense, the star for the Sox was leadoff hitter Adam Stern, who was subbing for Coco Crisp due to his injured finger. Stern had two hits, each an RBI single.

So the Sox are 5-1, and are heading back north for their opener on Tuesday. I cannot wait. You thought Josh Beckett was fired up in Texas? Just wait until he sees 36,000 screaming lunatics as he takes the mound at Fenway.

By the way, thanks to amh03 of SoSH, I've been priveleged enough to see some inside shots of the new-look Fenway Park, and let me tell you, it looks fantastic. The banners under the 'Fenway Park' facade look excellent, and the new seats under the press boxes look as if they've been there forever, fitting into the ballpark seemlessly. Also, according to Jerry Remy on the Sox broadcast today, the Sox have finally decided to install nets in front of the dugouts.

My only complaint? There are just too many ads on the Green Monster now, giving it a cheap minor league appearance. But, hey, if they're going to put the money from those ads to good use, who am I to complain?



Report: Coco to miss a month due to broken hand

2006-04-09T20:22:37.930-05:00

Joe Amorosino of WHDH-Boston is reporting that Coco Crisp will miss about a month with a broken hand, suffered when he awkwardly slid into third base during Saturday night's game.

More on this as it develops..

UPDATE: Ian Browne and Mike Petraglia of redsox.com cite the report from WHDH that Coco Crisp could miss up to one month as the result of a broken knuckle in his left index finger.

The report also states, "Reached by phone on Sunday night, team spokesman John Blake told MLB.com that the club could not confirm the report and that there was no immediate change to the original diagnosis of a jammed finger. Crisp will be examined by the team's medical staff on Monday."



Sox @ O's - Wakefield vs Lopez

2006-04-09T02:53:47.180-05:00

Will the Sox make Rodrigo Lopez look like the reincarnation of Cy Young or will they bust out and put some big runs up on the board? This is no doubt the most difficult game of the young season to project.

Overall, Lopez isn't that great of a pitcher, but he has always given the Red Sox a headache. Over the past two seasons, Lopez is 5-3 vs Boston with a 2.87 ERA. Versus the rest of the league over that same time period, Lopez has posted a 4.50 ERA.

In Lopez' first start of the season (vs Tampa), he picked up the victory, but allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits, one walk and two home runs through seven innings while only striking out two. The numbers look rather ugly at first, but it's important to note that he only allowed eight baserunners in those seven innings and used an extremely economical 90 pitches to do so.

(image) Lopez' fastball rarely tops out above 88 MPH, but it does have good movement. Lopez uses it to keep hitters off the plate and set up his other pitches, mainly his slurve. When the slurve flattens out he can really get himself into trouble. Lopez is at his best when he's mixing his pitches and working the corners of the plate. Last season, Lopez' numbers were essentially identical vs lefties and righties, so there's no need to load the lineup one way or the other. Should Lopez have his usual solid command, the Sox just need to jump on his underwhelming fastball early in the count.

Hopefully this game will also bring the Wakefield/Bard saga to a screeching halt. The Orioles, as a club, are only hitting .259 lifetime vs Wakefield, but they're slugging him to a tune of .492, so it could be very crucial that Bard does does not allow the Orioles extra bases. Tejada has been the most impressive vs Wakefield, smashing 5 home runs in 51 career at-bats (as I type this, visions of Tejada clobbering a knuckler into the Monster seats play over and over in my head).

How does this sound? We head back to Boston for the Home Opener with a 5-1 record, a pitching staff that's on an absolute roll, and a batting lineup that is just itching to bust out in true Fenway fashion? Good? I thought so.

P.S. - To Michael Kay and the rest of you Yankee clowns, you can quit rehashing the played out "1998 Yankees also started the season 1-4 and they won 114 games!" line. Newsflash! The 1989 Yankees started the season 1-4 as well. Their final record? 74-87. Chew on that for a little bit.



Sox squeak past O's, 2-1

2006-04-08T22:24:04.676-05:00

(image) After a 90-minute rain delay, Curt Schilling took the mound and pitched seven innings of three-hit ball as the Red Sox nipped Baltimore by a score of 2-to-1. The only run Schilling surrendered was on a solo homerun by Luis Matos in the 6th. Schilling struck out four, while walking two.

As expected, Bruce Chen pitched a solid game, allowing 2 runs over 5 innings of work, but it was not enough. Baltimore's bullpen pitched 4 innings of 1-hit ball, but the Boston bullpen proved just as solid. Mike Timlin pitched a clean 8th inning, allowing a Nick Markakis single to left. Papelbon was called upon for the 9th, and did not disappoint. He disposed of the Orioles with 13 pitches -- a few of them clocked as high at 97 MPH. After Tejada flew out to center and Gibbons popped to third, Papelbon got Millar to K on a nasty low-and-inside splitter to end the game.

Jason Varitek had a hand in each Boston run, as he scored on Kevin Youkilis' single to left in the 4th inning, and forced Ortiz home on a double to deep right in the 6th.

When is the last time the Sox won two 2-1 ballgames in a single week? I'd take a look at Retrosheet for the answer, but I'm just not up to it right now. Let's just agree that it's been awhile. Am I upset that the Sox aren't putting up boffo numbers on offense? Hell no. There's nothing I love more than a 2-1 pitching duel. Over the past few years the Sox have always had the ability to win the 9-8 ballgame, but it was the 2-1/3-2 game that gave them fits.

4-1 baby!



Sox @ O's - Schilling vs Chen

2006-04-08T14:51:26.466-05:00

Hopefully the rain rolls through before the 4:35 start and we can get this one in. As we all know, Schilling looked terrific in his first start in Texas, and hopefully that continues today. According to Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald, Schilling started his first game with his fastball clocked at 90-92 mph, and finished the game with a sequence that went 92, 95, 93, 96. On SoSH, Schilling explained that this is the first time in his career that he has actually seen the velocity on his fastball rise as the game wore on.

To me, Bruce Chen is an anomaly. He posted a 3.83 ERA last season, and
set career bests in wins, starts (32), innings (197 1/3) and strikeouts (133). The lefty has never made 20 starts in back-to-back seasons, so it's impossible to predict how he'll fare this season. Chen has handled the Sox fairly well in his career, but this year's lineup is entirely different, so it could go either way. After Papi's miserable game last night, Tito may want to consider foregoing the DH today and allowing Schilling to hit for himself, as he's 1-1 career vs Chen (kidding, kidding).



Sox rout O's, 14-8

2006-04-08T00:01:42.776-05:00

(image) Quite the game last night. The Sox took my patience advice to the next level. Daniel Cabrera was a trainwreck, lasting only an inning and a third, issuing 7 walks. All told, he surrendered 7 runs and the was out of hand before it even really started.

Matt Clement cruised through the first 6 innings, before getting into trouble in the 7th. His statline doesn't do his performance any justice. Matt seemed upbeat in his postgame interviews and understands that despite a rocky 7th, he pitched an excellent game. What's funny is that during the postgame interviews, I realized that this is the first time I had heard Matt speak since last season. He really has become The Forgotten Man.

The offense churned out 16 hits and 14 walks (no, folks, that isn't a typo). Nixon crushed his second home run of the season and Manny Ramirez broke out with a 3-hit performance. Manny's first hit was particularly encouraging, as he took an outside fastball to the opposite field for a single.

The only Red Sox starter without a hit? David Ortiz.

Rudy Seanez spelled Clement in the 8th and quickly gave up 4 runs on 6 hits, making the game much closer than it ever should have been. I realize it's his first appearance of the season, but Seanez has not looked good at all, including spring training. Rudy needs to start focusing on his pitching instead of Ultimate Cagefighting or whatever he was doing over the winter.

Foulke was called upon for the ninth with the Sox up 6 and turned in a very encouraging performance. His fastball was sitting around 88 MPH and his changeup was at 75. He was getting the fastball up in the zone to where the hitters couldn't get around on it, while he was spotting the changeup low and away. He only gave up one hit, and put the O's away quietly to end a rather miserable evening.