November 2008

It’s Crunch Time: Arbitration Deadline

The next important deadline in the world of baseball, general managers must decide by the end of this upcoming Monday whether to extend arbitration to their free agents. Ian Browne explains arbitration pretty well in his report on redsox.com:

Players who are offered arbitration must inform the club of their decision by the end of December 7. Players who accept arbitration become contractually bound to the team for the following season. 

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In Jason Varitek’s case, who is the Sox’s only Type A free agent, it is almost certain that Varitek would reject this arbitration offer because he would rather a multiyear deal. This is essentially the motivation for Epstein because should another team sign Varitek (which won’t happen because THEO IS GOING TO RE-SIGN HIM) the Red Sox would receive two draft picks. 
So here’s what I’m wondering:
Does this mean that Theo doesn’t want to re-sign Varitek because he knows that Tek is going to reject arbitration? 
What happens if a player is not offered arbitration? 

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The only Type B free agent that the Red Sox have is Paul Byrd, if they offer arbitration to him, the Red Sox would get one draft pick if another team signs him. It is unclear if Byrd would accept or deny the arbitration. If he accepted, it could create a problem because the Sox don’t necessarily have room for him in their starting rotation, so it could very well be that Theo will not offer him arbitration.
As for the club’s other free agents, they are not ranked so even if they were offered arbitration, they rejected and went to another team, the Sox wouldn’t get any draft picks. These “unranked” free agents include: Mark Kotsay, Alex Cora, Sean Casey, Mike Timlin, Curt Schilling, Bartolo Colon, and David Ross. 
Now, the Jason Varitek Situation is becoming more confusing. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow. 

My First Game at Fenway

There’s absolutely nothing going on, the Hot Stove Season is officially boring me. I really hope that this is just a “calm before the storm” and that starting in December, the Hot Stove Season will start heating up. There’s not much more to write about… most of us have already talked about Peavy, Sabathia, Texieira, Burnett and Varitek numerous times. So, I’ve decided to share with you my feelings the first time I walked into Fenway Park. 

It was July 12, 2007, so it had been forever since I had last been in Boston, and I had only heard stories about Fenway Park, and seen it on TV while watching the games. I was staying with my friend and her uncle shares season tickets with one of his clients, so my friend and I were able to go to a game. I was so excited, I had to get there as soon as possible, so I forced my friend to take me before the gates even opened so we could see batting practice. Seeing Yawkey Way for the first time was absolutely incredible, I took pictures of absolutely everything (which I’d gladly share, they’re just much too big to put in here). I was absolutely ecstatic, to say the least, and everyone around us let us go ahead when they found out that it was my first time at Fenway Park (people at baseball games are honestly the nicest people in the world). It didn’t take us long to get to our section, but I had to savor the “tunnel experience”. I remember walking up slowly, only being able to see the blue of the sky at first. When I got to the top, my mouth fell open. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, the beautiful orange sand, the brilliant green grass, and of course, the gigantic green monster. I even teared up a little bit. My friend led us to our seats, and I was amazed at how incredible ours seats were– seven rows behind the batters box. Everyone around us was so nice, and hearing the roar of the crowd when the Red Sox took the field was exhilirating. Tim Wakefield pitched, and the Sox won. Whenever the Red Sox would be batting, my friend and I would scream at all the batters, and get them to turn around and wave at us. I choked up a little bit when Dustin turned around, because he was the first one to do so. Mike Lowell tried to throw us a ball, but a man in front of us intercepted it (but it was okay because he gave it to his kid), and Jason Varitek also waved. One of my favorite parts was between the eighth innings, when absolutely everybody got up and started singing Sweet Caroline at the top of their lungs. My friend and I moved down to the second row after a family had left. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, when Manny and Papi came out both of them waved at us! Jonathan Paplebon came to close out the ninth, and I just thought that it was the coolest thing to see his intimidating face live. Vernon Wells was one of the last batters, and everyone in our section started chanting his name (in a mocking fashion). After the game, Dirty Water played, and we walked out on to Yawkey Way. Walking into Fenway for the first time was one of the best experiences of my life, and I will never forget it. 
-Elizabeth

Theo’s not taking any breaks: New Red Sox Acquisition.

Thanksgiving is officially over, and it seems like Jane had the most eventful one of us all. That’s what’s being a baseball fan is all about, when someone bashes your team you don’t just sit by, you take action! 95832c1169_theo_11072007.jpg

Speaking of action, Theo Epstein made an acquisition today, it obviously didn’t take him long to digest his dinner. Today, the Red Sox acquired right handed pitcher Wes Littleton of the Texas Rangers. In exchange, the Rangers will receive either two players to be named (of course) or cash considerations. The question is, which two players? Maybe minor leaguers, maybe pitchers? We all know that it will not be Clay Buchholz, seems like Theo is very protective of him. So who could it possibly be? Perhaps Michael Bowden, maybe Lars Anderson? I wouldn’t think so though, the Sox probably want to develop those players. My guess is that it’s cash considerations. 

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I hadn’t heard of Wes Littleton until today, but here’s what I’ve gathered. In 2008 he spent most of the year in Triple-A Oklahoma, where he went 7-1, with six saves and a 4.01 ERA out of the bullpen. Over three separate stints on the major league level, he combined to throw 18.0 innings, and posted a 0-0 record with a 6.00 ERA. However, his major league career doesn’t start there, he’s been in the leagues since 2006. He is 5-3 with three saves, a 3.69 ERA, and 55 strikeouts in 102.1 innings over 80 career relief appearances. He has limited right handed opponents to a .236 BA. The Sox already have Javy Lopez, a lefty-specialist, so perhaps Littleton could be our righty specialist. In 2006 he went 2-1 with a 1.73 ERA (the tenth lowest in the AL among relievers with at least 30 appearances, and fourth among rookies). In 2007 he went 3-2 with two saves and a 4.31 ERA. Our bullpen could potentially be locked up, and with the addition of Littleton, the Sox have now locked up 38 of 40 men on their 40 man roster. One more thing Theo: re-sign Varitek to make it 39 of 40. 
On a separate note, the Sox have added first base coach Tim Bogar (replacing Luis Alicea), who will also be focusing on infield defense. He has also worked with the Rays as an assistant Major League coach working with infield defense and baserunning. Before this, he was also a minor league manager for Houston and Cleveland. Terry Francona’s staff is now as follows: Brad Mills (bench coach), John Farrell (pitching coach), Dave Magadan (hitting coach), DeMarlo Hale (third base coach), Gary Tuck (bullpen coach), and now Tim Bogar as our first base coach. 
Tazawa is expected to announce to sign with the Red Sox on Monday, even though the Rangers offered him more money. My only guess as to why is because of Dice-K Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima… Matsuzaka is an “idol” in Japan. 
There haven’t been a lot of rumors on the Hot Stove about Manny. I’m starting to wonder where he’s going to go. Any thoughts? 
-Elizabeth

Thanksgiving Dinner Consisted of… classic baseball games?

Even though baseball season is over, MLB.com/Live helps the baseball fans who are suffering withdrawal, cope with the offseason. Today, they showed Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, a classic game. curt-schilling-bloody-sock.jpg

It was the bloody sock game, where Curt persevered through seven amazing innings; 

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it was the game where A-Rod knocked the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove, and then claimed that he didn’t do it; and it was the game where Mark Bellhorn hit a controversial three run homer. The umps had to confer twice, once when Mark Bellhorn hit the home run because it was originally ruled a ground-rule double, but replays showed that it bounced off a fan. They conferred again after A-Rod knocked the ball out of Arroyo’s glove, and replays once again clearly showed that A-Rod was guilty. As Arroyo said when he was asked to comment about the situation: “It was desperate measures, during desperate times”. If these calls hadn’t been overturned, the entire series could’ve been completely different. But that’s the beauty of baseball right? I wish I had MLB.com/Live, that would’ve been a great game to watch. 
It was after Thanksgiving dessert, which consisted of apple pie or chocolate cake, and we were just looking through the TV Guide for something to watch. My dad and I were absolutely thrilled when we found out that Sun Sports was broadcasting a Tampa Bay Rays Encore game. It was the game from April 27, 2008, a Red Sox vs Rays game. It was Josh Beckett vs James Shields, one of the best match-ups in the game. You guys might remember this game if you saw the highlight of Beckett’s error on a pick-off attempt, and seeing the ball roll slowly into right field, and then JD Drew’s throwing error. Both errors combined to allow Jason Bartlett to score from first base. Mike Lowell was on the DL, although I don’t exactly remember why, and JD Drew was healthy because he was playing in right field. The way that you could really tell, that it was young in the season was that a) the Orioles were in first place, and b) Manny Ramirez was still on the Red Sox. They skipped through innings, which was kind of annoying, but it was just so cool to watch Pedroia bat and think, wow, that’s the future AL MVP right there, and he doesn’t even know it yet. And to see Jason Varitek behind the plate and be thinking, Theo’s got to re-sign him, no matter what. I didn’t even look up the score of the game, because that would’ve ruined the beauty of baseball a little. The Sox ended up getting swept but it didn’t matter. It didn’t even matter that it wasn’t a huge playoff game, the fact of the matter was, it was baseball, and that’s all that matters. 
Wednesday night, I had watched the Ken Burns baseball movies, 1970-1994 edition, and it was absolutely incredible to watch. Game 6 of the 1975 World Series… Carlton Fisk’s home run. It was so beautiful. And of course, Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. I hadn’t seen “the play” in a really long time. But it was absolutely heart breaking. God do I feel bad for Bill Buckner, but to be honest, it probably would’ve taken me a long time to forgive him, I wasn’t even alive during that time period, so I don’t know how it felt live. Red Sox agony is tough, as Burns put it. Cubs agony is never even getting there, but Red Sox agony is getting so close, but seeing it slip out of your hands. 
Thanksgiving was great here in South Florida, we drove up to see my grandparents in Stuart, FL and we had a huge dinner. We didn’t even have turkey ironically enough, we had a great pot roast, and some apple pie or chocolate cake for dessert. In a way, my thanksgiving dinner consisted of some classic, heart breaking, baseball games as well. 
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, filled with plenty of food, and plenty of things to be thankful for. 
-Elizabeth

Thank you MLBlogs, and Happy Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year again, time to get together with family, eat, and be thankful for what we have. For those of you who live anywhere but Florida, the leaves are changing, and the weather is getting colder. Down here in Florida, although various cold fronts come through, it’s nothing spectacular. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I hope that you guys do too.

I am thankful for my family, they’re always there for me, and are supportive of my blog, which I just told them about. Plus, my dad’s side of the family is the reason why I’m a Red Sox fan, it’s a tradition, and that’s important. If it wasn’t for my dad, I wouldn’t even be a baseball fan. The greatest gift he will ever give me, is the gift of loving baseball. 
I am thankful for my friends, even though some of them don’t understand my love for the Red Sox, and make fun of me for blogging. They’re always there for me though, and the ones that do support my blog, like Christina, it really means a lot to me.
I am thankful for baseball. It brings people together in a way that nothing else can. The way people are, the way relationships that we have, would be totally different in some cases if baseball didn’t exist. You never know what’s going to happen, it changes every night. You could love someone because of baseball, or you could hate someone because of baseball, but at the end of the day, we’re all baseball fans. 
I am thankful for the Boston Red Sox. The emotions that I feel when I walk into Fenway Park, which is only about once a year, are indescribable. I would never be able to thank them enough for all that they do for me. There’s so much history to the team, painful history admittedly. And just watching every game, every night, is just the best thing in the world for me. I can forget about everything else that has ever happened, and only think about the game. I live with them, and I die with them, and I always will.
I am thankful for the people that read my blog. Words can’t describe how much it means to me that people are reading and sending me positive feedback on my blog. I’m so surprised that I’m the featured blog of the week, I never expected that when I came onto this site. This site is awesome, it doesn’t matter who you are, or even who you root for, we can all put our differences behind us (and by differences I mean different loyalties), come together, and just talk about baseball. Thank you guys SO much. 
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
-Elizabeth

Jason Varitek and Carlton Fisk

1099231237_4494.jpgAccording to the power agent Scott Boras, Varitek is not interested in a minor role, he is interested in a full time roll. Last week, Curt Schilling said that he had a conversation with Varitek, in which Varitek said that he might be willing to catch less games, but Schilling isn’t sure if he’s mad about that. Obviously, Varitek doesn’t want a reduced roll, after all, he’s in great shape, and can call games like no one else. Even though I’ve been told not to trust agents (even The Matrix advises us not to), I agree with the example that Scott Boras turns to, Carlton Fisk.ws_fisk_1975_288x235.jpg

 As a fans of the sport, everyone has some degree of respect for the renowned Red Sox catcher. But interestingly enough, when Fisk was 36 (and at this time his Red Sox career was finished and he was playing with the White Sox), he batted a mere .231, sure better than Varitek… but two years later, when he was 38, he batted only .221, only one hundreth of a percentage point higher than Varitek. However, when he was 41, he batted .293. And if you continue to look at his statistics, his batting average continually went up and down, his career batting average was only .269. The guy still got inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. The fact of the matter was, he was a great catcher, and was also a captain for the Red Sox. So this is why I think we need to keep Varitek, we don’t just give up on a guy because he has the worst offensive season of his career. 
BDD_pudge_bgfile.jpgWe need to appreciate the fact that he calls the game like no other, and according to Scott Boras there is no other catcher with a higher win-loss percentage starting a game than Varitek. So, yes, I am comparing Jason Varitek to Carlton Fisk, and I think that Varitek is just as capable to have a rebound season. I think that Theo should sign Varitek to a two year deal, and let him play everyday because that’s Varitek’s mentality. He’s not the kind of guy who’s going to sit on the bench when he’s healthy and watch a game go on (unless of course, Wakefield is pitching). The body cannot function without the mind, and a team cannot function without it’s leader. 
-Elizabeth

The only thing I want for christmas, is Jason Varitek back on the Sox

jasonvaritekhm7.jpgFour years ago, Jason Varitek re-signed with the Red Sox on Christmas eve. The only thing I want for Christmas this year, is for Jason Varitek to do the same thing again. It has been reported that the Red Sox offered Varitek a one-year deal… but Scot Boras, one of baseball’s “power agents”, said that he was unaware of this, in fact, he said that negotiations between Varitek and the Red Sox haven’t even started. Boras believes that a lot of teams are quite interested in Varitek. Theo Epstein himself said “Jason’s an important guy here, and we’ll sit down and explore if there’s a way for him to come back that will help be a positive solution for our catching situation. If there is, I’m sure he’ll end up coming back. If there are obstacles we can’t overcome, sometimes that’s beyond our control. It’s an important one. He brings a lot to the table here, despite not having one of his most productive years. We’ll sit down and talk about it.” The Red Sox are said to favor a deal in which Varitek comes back, but doesn’t play quite as often, so perhaps there could be an acquisition of a younger catcher, who can be developed into an everyday catcher upon Varitek’s depart. Plus, when you have Varitek as a tutor, what could go wrong? The Sox already have a couple young catcher, including Kevin Cash, Dusty Brown, and George Kotteras. MikeLowell.jpg

On another note, what about Mike Lowell? Sure he still has a year or two left on his contract, but his value is very high… so the Sox could get a good deal for him. Personally, I’m opposed to this because I think that Mike Lowell still has great potential. He just got hip surgery, and I’m sure that his rehabilitation process is going well. I definitely have faith that he will have a strong offensive season. Does that mean I’m not interested in Tex? Absolutely not, he seems very interesting, but I think that it’d important to look at the pros and cons of him coming to Boston. 
It’s been over a week, and CC still hasn’t signed with the Yankees, and Hal is getting impatient. He told Sabbathia that this offer won’t last forever. My question is, why hasn’t CC succumbed to the money yet? The truth is, every baseball player follows the money. Sure CC would like to go home to the west coast… or maybe even the national league, but if any other team goes for him, wouldn’t the Yankees continue to drive up the price? It sure seems like Sabbathia is their number one priority. 

Why we love baseball

I was having a discussion with one of my best friends the other day, and we got on to the topic of being passionate/having a passion. She ended up asking me why I love the Red Sox, and I found it kind of hard to answer. It’s like asking someone why they love their family… you can’t explain it, you just do. She thought it was weird that I have a passion for watching other people perform their passion; she thought that you should have a passion for something that you create. I suppose I have a passion for writing, I mean, I kind of religiously maintain this blog. But, I still think that I have a passion for the Red Sox, and that all you baseball fans out there have a passion for your team. I told her that baseball brings people together in a kind of way that nothing else can, it provides you with some kind of excitement that nothing else can, it’s life changing. Some of the relationships you have with people wouldn’t even be existent if baseball didn’t exist. I told her that most of the time, I’d rather stay home and watch a game than go out on a Friday night. It’s just not the same when you watch it the next day. There’s a kind of anxious feeling that you get… when the count is 0-2 on Dustin Pedroia and there are two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and you’re down by a run. Even if it’s not a playoff game, it’s still exciting. Whenever I get a boyfriend, (that is, if I can find it within myself to put up with the guys at my school) I’ll go out to dinner with them on a Friday night… it just has to be a nice sports bar where I can watch the Red Sox game, or Sports Center for updates (they don’t have NESN down in FL). If not, I’d be constantly checking my cell phone for updates about the game. I told my friend that you live and die with your team, and she thought that it was a little extreme, but for me, and I’m sure for a lot of you, that it’s true. So granted, we’re all passionate about our teams, but I still think that we can have a passion for our teams too. I downloaded Robert Lovett Crawford’s, the vice president of RSN, song ‘I’m a Member of a Red Sox Nation’ from his blog ‘It’s a Kind of Family, It’s a Kind of Insanity’ and I think we can all agree that “we live and die with [insert team’s name pride] for eternity]. From the types of people that I’ve met on this site, I can deduce that defining characteristics of us all is loving our teams. I’d be willing to bet that your friends associate you with loving your team almost immediately when they think of you. If baseball didn’t exist, I think that a lot of people would be really different. 

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In other news, the Red Sox offered a $6 million contract offer to right-hander “amateur picher” Junichi Tazawa. Since the Red Sox never comment on free agent negotiations, their policy apparently, we don’t know if it was a Major League or Minor League contract. Other teams that have made an offer include the Braves, the Tigers, and the Mariners. His fastball is in the 90’s, and tops at 97. How cool is this guy’s name? Just say it three times in a row… Junichi TaZAwa. I think Remdawg and Don Orsillo will have a blast with that. It’s also been confirmed that Mark Teixiera and the Nationals have mutual interest… Teixiera would really help boost the Nationals’ team batting average… which was a mere .251. The Royals are also interested in Cubs pitcher Sean Marshall, and Fontenot. Just rumors from the Hot Stove though. I hope that the former part of this blog was coherent… 
-Elizabeth 

Red Sox Awards, Burnett, Mussina.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is going to be pitching in the World Classic this year, with Japan of course. He was their MVP in 2006, and wants to help Japan defend its title. In ’06 he went 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA, and a year later was signed to the Red Sox for six years. 

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The Red Sox have announced some “team” awards that they are going to be giving at the Boston Baseball Writer’s Dinner. The Red Sox named Pedroia as their team MVP, which is not surprising at all. It was definitely a hard choice between Kevin Youkilis and Pedroia, just like it was for the AL MVP.  Kevin Youkilis will be presented the Jackie Jensen award, which is given for spirit and determination (this award was named after the Red Sox outfielder who played with them from 1954-1959, and 1961). 
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Youkilis also won this award two years ago, the only other player to win this award twice is Johnny Damon (’04-’05). Hopefully, Youk won’t follow the same path that he did. Jon Lester will be recognized as Boston’s pitcher of the year, 

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Jacoby Ellsbury was named Red Sox Rookie of the Year, Jonathan Paplebon is the Red Sox Fireman of the Year, Sean Casey with the Good Guy Award, and Jeff Bailey with the Red Sox Minor Leaguer Award. I’m sure we’ll be seeing Bailey a lot in Spring Training. Jason McLeoad, the amateur Red Sox scouting director, will receive the Unsung Hero Award, seeing that Youkilis, Pedroia and Lester are all “homegrown products”. 
On another note, AJ Burnett’s agent wants to have Burnett signed to a five year contract, which apparently, might keep the Yankees out of contention for Burnett. Plus, they might be a little apprehensive about his injuries, I mean, look what happened with Carl Pavano. How many games did that guy pitch? 
Also, with Mike Mussina retiring, there is a lot of talk about him eventually being voted into the Hall of Fame. His numbers match up with some of the guys who are already in there… and he’s had some great seasons. I think that one day, he’ll be in there. 

Mussina Retires, Hal Steinbrenner steps up, Ramon Ramirez

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Mike Musisna announced today that he will officially retire. He had something like 270 career wins. He had a great career, and was always a menace on the mound. He started with Baltimore in ’91, and went to the Yankees in ’01. His career record is 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA. So that’s why the Yankees are in the market for so many pitchers! They’re losing a lot, hopefully Cheng Meng-Weng (pardon my spelling) will come back, and this time not destroy his season by stepping on home plate. That really riled Georgie up, didn’t it? He started ranting about the National League and how it should adopt the designated hitter strategy. I’m actually incorporating pictures into my blog?? Wow, this is cool! 

Speaking of Georgie, I was in PE today, on an elliptical, and was watching Sports Center when I saw the breaking news: Hal Steinbrenner is now the principal owner of the Yankees. I’ll bet he’s pretty smart, after all George doesn’t just let that job go to anyone, plus he’ll still probably have a stay in some operations. 
On to the Red Sox. So we’ve established that Coco has been traded… and it’s probably for the best (for both organizations that is). He’ll get more playing time, and bring his experience and feistiness to Kansas City, and Ramirez will bring the depth to the bullpen that the Sox organization had been seeking. Now, according to Theo, we will be looking for an outfielder, and I think we signed one to a minor league deal earlier today. As for Ramon Ramirez, apparently he has a pretty sick change up, that looks like a splitter, and a fastball that ranges between 92-95 mph. 
I think I’ll start using more pics in the future… it adds some color to the blog rather than just words… We had to offset the yankee pic with a Red Sox pic, I suppose… I thought this was hilarious. We’ll miss you Coco :) 
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