Results tagged ‘ CC Sabathia ’

A National League Team in the American League East

Amidst all of the stress that I’m dealing with right now, I figure writing about baseball is the best way to relieve it. Most of you who read my blog seem to be a bit older than me, so let me ask you something: Was May of your junior year the worst time of your life? Or is that just me? 

If it wasn’t for baseball, I don’t know where I would be right now. Not only do I have my two AP exams next week (Psychology and English Language), but the administration decided it would be a good idea to also make quarter testing next week, which further ruins my life. Not to mention the fact that I still have to worry about standardized testing because–like the Red Sox’s overall performance so far this season–my scores are mediocre and not good enough to get me into the schools that I would like to attend. I just can’t wait until the summer. 
On a significantly brighter note, I’m going to be president of my senior class next year. I only share this with you because the entire premise of my speech was baseball. Being a baseball fan gives you some of the qualities that are necessary to hold a position like that: dedication, persistence audacity, loyalty, hope, etc. 
Minor League Roundup: 
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The Pawtucket Red Sox moved Kris Johnson back to the starting rotation, and that has certainly paid off. In his first start of the season, he pitched five innings without allowing a run and struck out three. In his last outing, he went five innings and gave up three runs. I personally think that he is more of a starter, so I would like to see him continue for at least a while in this role. This will help the organization decide whether or not he will be a starter or a long-term relief guy. I think they need to decide his role relatively quickly so that he can continue his development without ambiguity. 
In Pawtucket’s relief department, both Dustin Richardson and Robert Manuel have fared exceptionally well. I have no doubt that Richardson will be called up at some point this season; hopefully sooner rather than later! I don’t hear about Robert Manuel as often even though he has pitched spectacularly. I think that he could also positively impact the Red Sox’s bullpen as well. 
Lars Anderson was recently promoted to Triple-A! He was quite literally destroying Eastern League pitching, so a call-up was inevitable! When he was called up to Portland last year, he struggled with the adjustment, so I was a bit nervous that he would have some problems in Pawtucket. Of course, an adjustment period is necessary with a promotion to any level, but Lars has fared well so far. 
Daniel Nava is someone you should keep your eye on. With a powerful bat, he his hitting .305 on the season with 29 hits, 5 doubles, a triple, and four home runs. I don’t hear as much about him as I do Josh Reddick, but his performance certainly warrants a call up soon! I would really like to see Ryan Khoury with more playing time in Pawtucket. I think he is a great player, but he has only played in nine games so far. The Paw Sox designated Kevin Fransden for assignment, so I hope we see more of Khoury. 
In Double-A, reliever Eamonn Portice has been very impressive. Starter and top prospect Casey Kelly has also been doing well, though he is on a very tight leash because his innings are being limited (since this is his first full year as a starter). 
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Catcher Luis Exposito has been on fire during the past week or so after going through a minor slump. Ryan Kalish has also been very consistent at the plate. 
In Salem (High-A), Will Middlebrooks and Tim Federowicz have had a great week and a half. Anthony Rizzo has been consistent at the plate for the season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he got promoted soon. 
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Daisuke Matsuzaka is finally back in the Red Sox starting rotation. In his first outing, he pitched fairly well until the fifth inning. In his most recent outing, his first inning was atrocious, but the rest of his outing was virtually flawless. 
While having a couple of solid innings are certainly commendable, it’s tough to say that I feel completely confident in Matsuzaka when he has barely pitched into the sixth, and he still has problems with walking tons of people. First of all, Terry Francona should have been more aware of the situation in Dice-K’s first outing. Typically, Dice-K starts struggling around the fifth or sixth inning, but it was also his first start of the season. That was just an ugly game, and Wakefield’s first appearance out of the bullpen since 2004 did not stop the bleeding. 
Like I’ve said, Francona always waits a batter too long to take his starter’s out. When your starter is around 100 pitches and he puts two men on, it’s a sign to take him out! Is it just me, or is that especially evident this year? 
This is also the first year of Francona’s stint with the Red Sox that he really has to put deep thought into the lineup and the pitching staff. It isn’t obvious where everyone should hit this year, especially with the demise of David Ortiz. The Red Sox look more like a national league team this year. Some of you may take this as a negative connotation, but I actually think it has a positive one! Admittedly, assembling a team like this in the American League East is a bit risky, but I do think it has the potential to work if it is managed in the correct way. 
Just because Jacoby Ellsbury is out of the lineup with an injury, doesn’t mean the Red Sox should stop running. Dustin Pedroia has stolen a couple of bags, and Marco Scutaro and Darnell McDonald certainly have speed as well. And honestly, Big Papi should start bunting more because his presence in the lineup will be much more effective. I would also like to see Jeremy Hermida in the lineup over Bill Hall. Hermida has been pretty effective as the plate and Bill Hall has not. 
Jon Lester has certainly started to turn it around in his past couple of starts by turning out very dominant performances. Buchholz has also been spectacular, which I love to see. I just hope Beckett can find his consistency, because he is an essential part to the starting rotation. 
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Lincecum struck out his season high of 13 batters. His slider and changeup are probably the most beautiful pitches I’ve ever seen. He might just be my favorite pitcher in the league. He is also one of the better hitting pitchers I’ve seen. He can lay down a perfect bunt! Maybe the Red Sox should take some lessons. 
I must say, I feel much more complete as a person now that I’ve seen Lincecum pitch in person. His delivery is one of a kind. I have heard that when he was drafted, one of the conditions was that the Giants would not change his delivery or his routine. Retrospectively, maybe the Red Sox should have done this with Dice-K. He was so dominant in Japan, but besides his 2007 season, his others have been subpar. I know that American baseball is different from Japanese baseball, but perhaps Dice-K would have fared better if he was allowed to do it his way. 
The Red Sox dropped the first game of the series to the Yankees last night. Beckett looked fantastic until the sixth inning. His only mistake was the hanging curve to Nick Swisher. Beckett simply lost his command. He should have been out after he hit Francisco Cervelli, not four batter later and five runs too late. I do not understand the rationale behind that! 
I fear that the Yankees might retaliate today, especially because Sabathia seemed to take personal offense when Jeter was hit by a pitch. Beckett clearly wasn’t doing that on purpose, so I hope he realizes that. Nevertheless, it’s all a part of the rivalry, and I’m ready for part two!
One last thing before I go. I would like to share with you all that I have been recruited to be a reporter for KidPitch, a show that airs every week on FSN. I filmed a report from about David Ortiz’s slow start to the season, and it will be debuting this Sunday. All of the other reporters are much younger than I am, but you have to start somewhere, right? If you would like to check it out, you can find your local listing here

Aggravation to Rejuvenation

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This past week was not the most fun week to be a Red Sox fan (and I know Indians and Orioles fans are having a tough time too). The Sox didn’t exactly look like a team that had just clinched playoff berth with the way that the pitching was coming apart. In fact, they didn’t even clinch the wildcard with a win, they were merely graced with a Texas loss to secure their spot. 

The Yankees clinched the division on their home turf, against the Sox, which partially fulfills their goal of the 2009 season. With the additions of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and AJ Burnett, many predicted that the Yankees would win the division, though everyone knew not to count the Red Sox out with what seemed like the best pitching staff in baseball at the start of the season–in fact, many predicted the Red Sox to win it. 
Clinching the division on their home turf would have been satisfying enough, but clinching against the Red Sox? That must have made it even better for them, and I turned off ESPN as soon as Jacoby Ellsbury’s soft grounder to Mariano Rivera ended the ninth. 
This final season series sweep by the Yankees made the season series even. After the Red Sox won the first eight of the season, they either got swept, or lost the rest of the series. In what very well could be the American League Championship Series matchup, all Red Sox fans are hoping that we can pull it together, and make every game in that series unforgettable–all fights to the finish. And with the Red Sox and Yankees, it always is. 
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I was hoping for a bit of rejuvenation against the Blue Jays. I always like going into the playoffs with lots of momentum, and I wanted to secure a spot already! No such luck Monday night. Josh Beckett was scratched from his start with mild back spasms (but he is pitching tonight, so all is well). When I first heard the story, memories flooded back to me of Spring Training 2008. I was excited to finally see Beckett pitch, because I had never seen him live before (and I still have not). He was even warming up with Jason Varitek down in left field at City of Palms Park–but he didn’t make the start. Manny Delcarmen did, and Beckett started that season on the DL, and had a mediocre season according to his standards (as well as my high standards for him). Thankfully, these spasms are nothing to be concerned about. 
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I was very excited to see Michael Bowden take the mound, since he is my favorite pitching prospect. To say that he didn’t have the best night would be an understatement. He lasted only three innings and was tagged for seven runs. Bowden was obviously very disappointed in himself, but he made no excuses. He said that he could have been told five minutes before the game that he would be starting, and still this outcome would have remained inexcusable. I appreciate the fact that he didn’t make up excuses, and I won’t make up any for him either. 
The fact of the matter is though, that we can’t judge September call-ups simply by their one month of play, that would be unfair. Bowden was missing his spots, and he was getting behind in counts–something that can easily be fixed. Plus, he is not used to Victor Martinez, and practice makes perfect. I would like to see him follow a path similar to Clay Buchholz–because look how effective that extra time in the minors was for him: he is going to be a starting pitcher in our playoff rotation. 
In fact, if Bowden works really hard this winter (I am not sure if he will be pitching in the Arizona Fall League), I think that he could be a legitimate contender for a spot in the starting rotation for 2010. Dustin Richardson has impressed me, and I am very excited to see more of him next year in Spring Training. He is a legitimate contender to be a project next year, as is Fernando Cabrera. I think that what we have to remember is that it is a big transition from the minors to the majors, and it would be unfair to expect anyone to flawlessly make that transition. 
The last two games against the Blue Jays weren’t much better. The second game seemed like a recurring dream as Buchholz also gave up seven runs. And if it wasn’t for Joey Gathright in the third game, Halladay could have no-hit the Red Sox instead of just pitching a complete game shutout. 
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Speaking of Joey Gathright, I want to get to playoff rosters. We are less than a week way from what I like to consider the first day of “Soxtober”. While there are many “lock-ins” for the roster, there are still some spots that are up for grabs.
I would like the starting rotation to look like this:
1. Jon Lester
2. Clay Buchholz
3. Josh Beckett
4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
I am so proud of how far Clay Buchholz has come this season. I think that he has truly earned that spot. And who knew that Dice-K would come back and pitch as well as he has? Sometimes, it is worth giving people a second chance. 
As for the bullpen, Papelbon, Wagner, Okajima, Saito, Bard (whom I refer to as ‘Baby Bard’ on twitter), and Ramon Ramirez should be locks. With the way that Manny Delcarmen has been pitching as of late, his spot is no longer secure. 
The possibilities for that eleventh spot could range from guys like Byrd and Wakefield, to guys like Bowden, Cabrera and Richardson. I love Tim Wakefield, but I really don’t think that he is healthy enough to pitch in the playoffs. And even though the bird is the word, I don’t think that Paul Byrd has been consistent enough to earn a spot on the roster. And much as I like Bowden, I don’t think that he is ready for the postseason this season. Next season? I have no doubt. 
I know it may sound crazy, but I think it should be between Richardson, Cabrera and Delcarmen. 
As for position players, most of them are locked in. The main question marks are the utility infielder and the reserve outfielder. Alex Gonzalez was hit in the hand last night and he was forced to leave the game. Not good timing at all, and I think we’re all praying that he is not injured. I would like to see Gonzalez as the starting shortstop with Lowrie or Woodward as the  backup. 
So the question is: Lowrie or Woodwa
rd? This one is the toughest for me to figure out since we have seen so little of both of these guys this season. The second spot to fill is the reserve outfielder, and I think that Joey Gathright has the best shot because of his speed. Think Dave Roberts, 2004 and you’ll know why. 
I am working on playoff brackets this weekend, and what I think should be the roster, so I will do my best to get back to you guys by Tuesday as to who should make the roster. 

Ode to Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, and Dice-K Matsuzaka

Over the past week, the Red Sox have been doing what they need to do to ensure themselves a spot in the playoffs (and the Rangers have been helping us out a bit). However, at the beginning of the week, we had a much bigger chance at maybe taking the division than we do at this point. If we had but swept the Royals (or even won the series), we would be in a much different position than we are now. 

What happened Monday night against the Royals was simply unacceptable. If that was the small hiccup before the big show, than that’s fine, but a solid bullpen is essential during the playoffs, and I think that Manny Delcarmen plays a very important role in our bullpen. This game was obviously not very enjoyable to watch, but it just wasn’t the Red Sox’s night. A bullpen, no matter how strong it is, always has a meltdown every now and then. 
As the playoffs approach, one has to start wondering what the starting rotation is going to look like, and I think it is getting more and more solidified with every quality start that Dice-K Matsuzaka makes. I think we would have a formidable four man rotation in Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, and Matsuzaka. That is the more obvious part, the more obscure part is how, if at all, Tim Wakefield would fit into the postseason roster. 
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As of right now, I do not think that it would be a good idea to have him pitching into October. Every time he goes on the mound, he looks like he is in pain. Wakefield could be in the bullpen as a reserve, but I am not sure if I would put him on the roster. What would you do? 
The next night against the Royals, I almost didn’t want to watch. Zack Greinke pitching against anyone is scary, but against Paul Byrd? We might as well forfeit!! Greinke didn’t even have to throw a pitch and we were already behind thanks to a beyond shaky first inning by Paul Byrd. 
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Greinke pitched absolutely beautifully, so beautifully that he inspired me to write a poem. In my English class, we are learning about Romantic poetry (and we are really mutilating an already dead horse). William Wordsworth described Romantic poetry and the “spontaneous overflow of feelings”, so I’m pretty sure that the following poem can fit under that category: 
Ode to Zack Greinke
O how Zack Greinke colors the crowd, 

With his ethereal pitches, by which batters are wowed. 

A work of art whose exhibit is the mound, 

An artist as well–sculpting his pitches from the ground. 

A phenom in the making, 

A pitcher who is fragile, and not worth breaking. 

Knocking down the pins of every part of the strikezone, 

To an abundance of strikeouts, batters are inevitably prone. 

The fielders are lonely, for base runners are rare. 

Yet in Zack Greinke’s presence, they are honored to be there. 

Crossing home plate is an impossible feat, 

This is a man no one can defeat. 

I am highly considering sending this to him. During the next two games, we were finally able to cool down the Royals, or at least score more runs than them. Beckett gave up 12 hits, but thanks to some well deserved run support, the Sox were able to pull through. Buchholz followed with a stellar outing, and I was getting a bit scared that the bullpen was going to meltdown again when Ram-Ram came in and gave up three runs. 
You know, there was really no better weekend for the Red Sox vs Yankees series than this one. Thanks to my lovely Jewish brothers and sisters, no homework was to be given this weekend since it is Yom Kippour. Yet somehow, I know that I still have to do stuff for English. 
Anyway, the only thing I could think about all of Friday was the game. Plans this weekend? I think not, it is the last regular season series!!! While it would not have decided the division winner if the Red Sox were to have won or swept the series (now we’re the ones trying not to get swept), it would have made it a much closer race. Regardless of what happens, this could very well be the preview of the ALCS. 
1999, 2003, and 2004. There couldn’t be a better matchup in postseason baseball. It is a series where all of my nails are bitten off by the end of the first inning of the first game. It is virtually impossible to multi-task and do homework. It is stressful, frustrating, exhilarating, and beautiful all at the same time. 
However, my confidence, as well as the Red Sox’s confidence was nearly shattered on Friday night in the bottom of the third inning. Melky Cabrera hit a sharp line drive just above Lester’s right knee cap. At first I didn’t realize what had happened. I wondered how the ball had returned so suddenly to the third base line, and then I saw Lester fall to his back. Horrific memories of an immobile Matt Clement came rushing back, and the stories of Bryce Florie as well (I was not yet a baseball fan when that happened). 
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I was almost as petrified as Jon Lester was. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of the potential consequences. The ball ricocheted off of what looked like his knee cap, and it did not sound pretty. It could have been a season ending second, and a season altering one. Lester was not carried off of the field, he limped into the clubhouse as the classy Yankee crowd stood for him, and he could barely make it down the stairs. 
The minutes following the accident were filled with agonizing hypothetical situations. It was impossible for me to imagine the Red Sox pitching staff without our consistent ace in Jon Lester. But when I heard the report that the x-rays were negative and that it was merely a right contusion, I truly breathed a sigh of relief. The fact that he wants to make his next start, albeit a bit unrealistically ambitious, is truly admirable. He is a soldier. The Red Sox may have lost that game, but I think we gained even more from the fact that Lester is okay, and will be able to pitch again this season. 
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Yesterday’s game truly embo
died what each and every Red Sox vs Yankee game is all about. It exemplified the notion of a true pitcher’s duel with absolutely stellar performances by both Daisuke Matsuzaka and CC Sabathia. Sabathia stymied the Red Sox offense for seven incredible innings of one hit ball. 
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Daisuke Matsuzaka somehow evaded the irrevocable damage of a bases loaded situation with no outs thanks in part to an absolutely stunning play by Victor Martinez. If giving up one run over seven innings is indicative of the type of pitcher that Dice-K has turned to, then I think he truly deserves a spot in the postseason rotation. If he wants to make up for what he has missed, this is the way to do it. 
In one hour, the last regular season of the game will take place. The Yankees can clinch the division with a win, but I think I speak on behalf of all Red Sox fans in the following understatement: I don’t want them to. We don’t give up here. Even if Paul Byrd is pitching, we can still win. We don’t go down with out one hell of a fight. Go Red Sox!! 

Hindsight (Biases)

During my sophomore year, I tried to make connections between baseball with some of my classes to help myself understand it better. As my junior year starts up, I’ll try to do the same. I have a feeling that physics will relate a lot more to baseball than chemistry did (but then again, what does chemistry relate to that is of any importance at all?), and I already have a way that psychology can relate to our perspectives on the game. Though I’m sure Emily is a lot more qualified to talk about that than I am. 

As the season progresses, many of us have come to realize that many of our offseason acquisitions have not performed in the way that we expected them too. It may be easy to point fingers at our brilliant general manager, Theo Epstein, but before any of us do any such thing, I think it is important to experiment with empathy, travel back in time a bit, and use our imaginations. 
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You are now sitting in Theo Epstein’s office, sipping some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and constantly making phone calls with agents. It’s late December, and you are reflecting over the 2008 season, and looking at areas where you can improve. Clay Buchholz was not quite ready for the 2008 season, so it is evident that the Red Sox need a fifth starter. It is certainly wise to consider the options of signing a high profile free agent such as CC Sabathia or AJ Burnett, but would such an acquisition truly be necessary with aces already in Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Dice-K (remember, we have no idea yet that Dice-K’s season would look nothing like 2008′s 18-3 record). 
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Let me go on a quick tangent on Dice-K before I make any significant phone calls. On paper, his 18-3 record looks stellar, a Cy Young contender if you didn’t look at how many innings he pitched per game. Dice-K got really lucky during the 2008 season. He had a knack for loading the bases with no outs, and getting out of it unscathed. In other words, he got really lucky. Sure the Red Sox may have won most of the time, but it is inefficient to have your starter go only five or six innings because he racks up his pitch count early on. Not to mention it puts a massive strain on the bullpen. I think that Dice-K’s case is very similar to the “downfall” that Brad Lidge is experiencing in Philadelphia. I’m not trying to take away any credibility from his perfect season, but I think that it is a valid comparison. 
Back to the phone calls. Considering the Red Sox have four quality starters, it is unnecessary to sign a high profile free agent. It would be more wise to sign a “low risk” acquisition in a veteran pitcher that could guarantee a lot of success. The problem with signing high profile free agents is their massive contracts. What if they don’t perform? What if AJ Burnett continues his injury woes, and he can’t pitch effectively? 
This is why I like incentive contracts so much. Too bad they are mainly used with these low risk acquisitions, and when I think of these, I tend to think of veteran players who are coming back from injuries or bad seasons who are looking for another chance. Obviously, signing them is a gamble, but it could turn out to be very beneficial. And regardless of their contributions on the field, I think that their contributions equate that or even surpass it. Having a veteran voice in the clubhouse for the younger players to talk to is always an advantage. 
In psychology, we learned a bit about ‘hindsight biases’, which basically means that when we look back on events, many of the consequences seem much more obvious than they actually were at the time. Think about who we signed. 
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John Smoltz is obviously a Hall of Fame pitcher, who had a great twenty year career with the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately, his stint with the Red Sox did not work out, but was it really a bad signing? No. Would I have done it? Yes. Another thing to remember about this deal was that it was very similar to the deal that Curt Schilling signed for 2008. Neither of them worked out, but the incentives for signing them were valid. Plus, if Randy Johnson is still pitching, why can’t they? 
Another offseason acquisition that didn’t work out: Brad Penny. The same theory applied when signing him, but his history isn’t as convincing. However, it was only but 2007 that he came in second for the NL Cy Young. His 2008 season was anything but spectacular, but given an incentive laden contract, there is the opportunity for success. And if they incentives aren’t met? No big deal in the big picture. Penny was released, and both he and the Red Sox are moving on. 
Some have been disappointed with Rocco Baldelli also because he has spent a considerable amount of time on the Disabled List. Granted it’s a bit disappointing, but it’s not like we expected him to play every single day because we were well aware of his channelopathy disorder. The reason for acquiring him was so that he could be a valuable player coming off the bench. 
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In other words, I just think that these offseason acquisitions are very justifiable even if they didn’t work out. But now instead of looking at the offseason acquisitions, I’d like to look at our most recent acquisition: Billy Wagner. 
This trade reminded me a lot of the Eric Gagne one of 2007, a trade that I absolutely hated because I didn’t want to part with Kason Gabbard (luckily, we have him back now). However, I am much more open to this Billy Wagner acquisition because our bullpen band could really use an extra hand, the chorus is sounding a little shabby. 
Oh, and the bullpen could use some help too. After Justin Masterson left, it kind of threw off the bullpen in my opinion. We were calling a bunch of guys up from Pawtucket who simply weren’t ready yet. I think that this acquisition solidifies the bullpen and gives us a more definite notion of an eighth inning set up man. In a way, it will be redefining everyone’s role. 
I am very excited for September call ups–I am very anxious to see who will be up. I am really hoping that Michael Bowden gets another chance. I really don’t think that we can judge him on that poor outing against the Yankees. I am also very interested to see what is going to go on with who will be catching Tim Wakefield, because I think that Victor Martinez did a very solid job the other night. And if V-Mart can do the job, what use is George Kottaras? 

Baseball is Back

Although I am upset that the Rays vs Red Sox game was pushed tomorrow, it is only because I want my real Red Sox baseball back. Believe me, I don’t want Josh Beckett pitching in the rain. He’s already injury prone enough, and who knows, maybe blisters are more common in rainy conditions. Plus, this gives me a chance to provide an offensive breakdown of the Red Sox plus my thoughts on Opening Night/Day.

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Opening Day/Night
Okay, so I wasn’t at home when Brett Myers threw out the first pitch of the season. But I was listening to it on the radio as I tried to convince my mother to ignore the speed limit and stop signs. But I was able to see the first hit of the 2009 season– Chipper Jones’ single to left field. I witnessed the first home run of the season, and Jordan Schafer’s first home run ever… in his first at-bat in the major leagues. Little did I know that I was witnessing the first pitching gem of the 2009 season. I thought that Derek Lowe pitched beautifully, and I’m pretty sure that the Braves don’t regret signing him on as their ace. It made me miss him more than I already do, but I understand why the Red Sox didn’t go out and aggressively pursue him. 
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(credit: minor.mlblogs.com– great pic!!)
I got my hair cut today… and I made sure that my appointment was in the morning so I wouldn’t even miss Aaron Harang’s first pitch. I realized that I had gotten my hair cut the day after the Red Sox lost the ALCS. I was blinking back tears at the loss of the season, and the potential loss of Jason Varitek. And today, I was bouncing with optimism, until of course I found out that the Red Sox start would be postponed until tomorrow. Nonetheless, I was still pretty happy about baseball being back. I know, weird how I can remember that but not whether or not the bonds of carbon dioxide are polar. 
I have watched at least a part of every baseball game today, and as I write this I am listening the Cubs vs Astros game. I saw Johan Santana and Kevin Millwood pitch beautifully, I smiled as CC Sabathia struggled against the Orioles, and I saw the incredible Marlins game.
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Emilio Bonifacio had an inside the park home run… and he was so fast! The first inside the park home run on Opening Day since Carl Yastrzemski in 1968. Oh, and Hanley Ramirez… just my number one draft pick on my fantasy baseball team… hit a grand slam! 
A Brief Offensive Breakdown for the Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury: The thing with Jacoby is that his speed can really change the game. He went through some ups and downs last season, but overall he was pretty good for his first full season in the Majors. I think that he needs to be more confident at the plate, he watches a lot of pitches. And believe me he has a great eye and everything, but he could be a little more aggressive
Dustin Pedroia: I am completely confident that this guy can put up very similar numbers again this season. I can’t really critique much with him… he’s doing everything right. 
David Ortiz: The biggest question of course is: can he get healthy? I think so. In fact, I think his numbers will be similar to 2007. I think he feels a lot better this year, and he looks a lot more comfortable when he swings. I think that he also has to stop worrying about having another 30 HR bat behind him. The Red Sox aren’t about home runs this year, I think they’re going to go a bit more down the small ball route this year. 
Kevin Youkilis: Again, with Kevin Youkilis, there’s not much I can critique. He is an all around great ball player, and I love the way he approaches the game. Just one thing though… he could take it a little easier when he strikes out :)
JD Drew: Drew had a great season last year, much better than the 2007 one. I said this a while ago, but I’m pretty sure his son was ill in 2007, and that probably distracted him a little bit (I don’t blame him). I’m pretty sure that his son recovered by 2008, and his numbers really improved. I’m very comfortable with having him in right field as well. 
Jason Bay: I’m not too concerned with Jason Bay either (I love not being concerned). He adjusted to Boston really nicely, and to October baseball as well. In fact, it looked natural for him. Opening Day shouldn’t phase him either :)
Mike Lowell: I am very optimistic about Lowell. As I watched him throughout the Spring, that look of pain on his face was gone. Like Ortiz, he looked much more comfortable with his swing. And he’s really not that old… he’s only 34. I am very glad that the Red Sox decided to pass on Mark Teixeira. When he’s healthy, Lowell is not only a good hitter, but he can also make some crazy plays over at third. 
Jed Lowrie: I think I found him on Twitter… I think. Did you even happen to glance over his statistics this Spring? He was hitting the crap out of the ball, and oh yeah he hit a grand slam at Citi Field the other day. I think that confidence is key for him too since he is still young.
Jason Varitek: I don’t know if you guys realize this, but I had so much fun typing his name just then. It re-emphasizes the fact that he is back on the Red Sox. I think that his bad season last year wasn’t just because he is getting older. I am pretty sure that he was going through a divorce, and I’d guess that it wasn’t that easy. Now that it’s over, I am fairly confident that his stats will increase a little bit. And if he hits .220 again so what? I love having him behind the plate… his experience and knowledge are priceless.
Chris Carter: Now I know that the games against the Mets weren’t REAL games. But they were about as close to real games as you get. And in that game, Chris Carter did pretty well. I honestly think that he will provide better offense than Mark Kotsay will. 
Nick Green: Like Carter, I don’t think that Nick will be phased by the majors beca
use he has actually played in them for a significant amount of time. Granted he didn’t do that well, but he did have an impressive Spring. He is my project, therefore he will do well. 
George Kottaras: So he didn’t have the best offensive season last year in AAA. The fact of the matter is, he can catch a knuckleball, and he can throw to second pretty well. The Red Sox offense is pretty deep, we don’t need catchers who hit for really high batting averages. 
Rocco Baldelli: I really liked this acquisition. He is the perfect guy coming off the bench because I think any team would be lucky to have him as an everyday player if he could play everyday. Since he just can’t play everyday, being a player off the bench is exactly what he needs to do. This will allow him to stay healthy and maximize his skills. 
Overall, we have an offense that can match any team, and the lineup goes pretty deep. Obviously the guys to keep your eyes on are Lowell and Papi. As far as minor league players go, keep your eyes out for Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick (mainly Lars Anderson though). 
I can’t wait for our Opening Day tomorrow! 

A Review of the Red Sox Offseason

Now that there are less than three weeks until pitchers and catchers report, it seems like an evaluation of our teams’ offseason actions would be in tact. The interesting thing about the Red Sox’s offseason, is that it took a while to get started. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. 

It’s not like we had a disappointing 2008 season, not advancing to the World Series “isn’t the end of the world” as Manny Ramirez would say. On the other hand, the Yankees had a bit more of a disappointing 2008 season– let’s just say it wasn’t up to their expectations. So they went out and blew spent $20 million more than they should’ve on CC Sabathia. They made a risky investment on AJ Burnett, and they signed Mark Teixeira (this is probably their wisest investment) to an eight year deal. 
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With all of these investments, the Yankees have spent roughly $422.5 million dollars. As far as I know, none of these contracts involved “incentives”. Personally, I think incentives are the best type of contracts because you set specific goals for the players to achieve, and if they don’t achieve this goal, then you don’t have to pay them. 
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When the Red Sox signed Pedroia and Youkilis, I really didn’t see much of a need to put incentives in those contracts. First of all, they both finished within the top three for MVP voting, and the last time that happened was 1986. A wise investment? I think so. Plus, both players are products of the Red Sox farm system, and both have mentioned that they love playing in Boston. The Red Sox signed Pedroia for six years, $40 million dollars, and the Yankees signed Sabathia for the same amount of years, but $100 more million dollars than that. Pedroia won the MVP and Sabathia wasn’t even in the top three in the National League.
We all know that Mark Teixeira is good, but I feel like with Kevin Youkilis, I’m not even “settling”. Since I’ve established the legality of comparing Youkilis and Teixeira in one of my recent posts, it is needless to say that we are getting Youkilis for one hell of a bargain. 
I know our starting rotation isn’t the best in the majors, but it’s definitely up there. A lot depends on the durability of Dice-K, if Beckett can bounce back, if Lester can stay consistent, the dancing ability of Wakefield’s knuckleball, and new veterans like Smoltz and Penny.
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At first, I was all for signing Derek Lowe (after AJ went to the Yankees), but what I wasn’t thinking about was the future (ironic right?). If we had gotten Derek Lowe, that would have seriously displaced the abundance of our young pitching talent. Lowe would’ve been an overpriced (14-11 with an ERA over 3.00 is not worth $14 mil or whatever he was demanding) three year investment, where as people like Smoltz and Penny are low risks with potentially high rewards. Plus, they have incentive contracts, my favorite!! 
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This gives our young pitchers even more time to develop and fine tune everything in the minors, and since both Penny and Smoltz’s contracts are one year deals, it will give our young stars the opportunity to start full time next year. 
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Then there’s the bullpen. In 2008 our bullpen had one of the highest ERAs in the majors, we went out and signed Ramon Ramirez and Takashi Saito. Their statistics speak for themselves, but I have a feeling that the addition of the both of them, plus having Justin Masterson full time, will really solidify our bullpen. Plus, we signed Papelbon to a well deserved deal. 
There is still a possibility for that deal to go long term, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to (and neither does Papelbon). The Red Sox could potentially wait until after the 2009 season to sign him to a long term contract, but there is no one else in the Majors I would rather have right now. 
Not to mention the signings of Josh Bard and Rocco Baldelli. It’s nice that Bard is getting a second chance, but the front office is essentially getting a second chance as well seeing that Theo classified the trade as a “short sighted mistake”. Having a player like Baldelli coming off the bench? Need I say more than that? 
Once you look at all of these signings up close, it seems like it all kind of crept up on you. Just the other day, my math teacher asked me: “Since when did the Red Sox bullpen become so good?”. 
It has been reported that the Red Sox have included a deadline with Varitek’s latest offer. Deadline or no deadline, it doesn’t make a difference. Varitek needs to take this deal if he wants to have a job in 2009. That’s how scary the market is, if he doesn’t take this offer, he might not have a place to play. Yeah, it will be a pretty big pay cut, but a lot of players have taken some major league pay cuts. Jason Varitek, it’s up to you. 
-Elizabeth

CC Sabathia to the Yankees

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After roughly three weeks, CC Sabathia finally signed with the Yankees. The Yankees initially offered Sabathia six years at $140 million, but upped their offer to seven years $160 million. That was unnecessary, in my opinion, and a waste of money as well. Sure it had taken Sabathia a long time to respond, but the Brewers offered him $100 million, and there was a $40 million dollar difference to begin with, and no California team had made him an offer. It did not seem like the Yankees needed to increase their offer, but perhaps they did so to make it clear to Sabathia that the Yankees were indeed, the highest bidders. 

So what does this mean for our classic rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox? Well the Yankees really just bolstered their starting pitching, so that really puts them in contention for the AL East title. Now, that’s not to say that they weren’t in contention this past year… they had a lot of potential, but they were just plagued with injury after injury. The AL East is going to be absolutely crazy this year with the Rays, the Red Sox, and the Yankees. 
I haven’t heard much on the Hot Stove about the Rays, it’d be smart for them to lay low, they don’t really need to make any moves since they did get to the World Series. 
The Red Sox are in the “top four finalists” for Mark Texieria, as well as the Angels, Orioles, and Nationals. Then again, like I’ve said before, I really don’t think that we need him that badly. Sure he’d be a great addition since he’s young, a .300 hitter, and 30 HR hitter, but we got to Game 7 last year! It’s not like we were in last place, dying of run support (well, sometimes run support). We had 95 wins last year, if we don’t get him, it’s not the end of the world. 
The Yankees could be adding more to their starting rotation, they reportedly made an offer for five years to AJ Burnett, and are looking into Derek Lowe as well. The Yankees and the Phillies are reportedly the top two bidders on Lowe right now. Now, I know this probably won’t happen, but can you imagine if the Yankees added Burnett, and Lowe, retained Andy Petite, and had Cheng Meng-Weng (yes, I know, spelled incorrectly)? That would be absolutely insane. 

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So back to the question: what does this mean for the Sox-Yankees rivalry. Well, remember that the Sox have faced Sabathia before, when he was in an Indians uniform in the 2007 ALCS. Sabathia won the Cy Young award that year, but I honestly think that Beckett should’ve won it that year (I’m not saying this as a biased Red Sox fan either). The Beckett and Sabathia matchups were absolutely incredible and beautiful to watch. The two best pitchers in baseball (at that time) going head to head. Beckett prevailed in both of those games, and wound up being the ALCS MVP. Now that Sabathia is on the Yankees, this means more Beckett vs Sabathia matchups hopefully (if the rotations work out that way). This means that the Red Sox vs Yankees games this year are going to be better than ever!

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On to some Red Sox news and rumors (of course). Like I said, we’re in the top four contenders for Teixeria. If he does come to the Red Sox, I am resolved to learn how to spell his name. I can spell Yastrzemski but I can’t spell Teixeria? Anyway, the in the Rule 5 draft, the Sox selected Angels right handed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez. No other team has made an offer to our captain besides the Red Sox… the terms of the deal are unknown. Kevin Cash is available for arbitration, I did not know this, but it could be that he won’t fit into the plans for the Sox next season, he is the most likely candidate to be “non-tendered”. It seems like the Sox would be looking like a “complement” to Varitek with more offensive potential than Cash. 

Around the Hot Stove- Arbitration

The arbitration deadline was last night at midnight, and some premier free agents received the offer, others (somewhat surprisingly) did not. 

As far as the Red Sox go, only Jason Varitek and Paul Byrd were offered arbitration. It was expected that Varitek would receive the offer, but with Byrd it was not so obvious. If he accepts, it would put him and the club in an awkward position because there’s not necessarily room for him in Boston’s plans. There have been rumors that the Braves have interest in him though. 

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Brian Fuentes received arbitration from the Rockies, which may (or may not) influence the Mets’ interest in him, and as we know, they’re also interested in K-Rod. 
The Yankees did not offer arbitration to ANY of their eight eligible free agents. The Yankees have interest in holding on to Petite, but not at the same price, which could cause a conflict (perhaps even reuniting him with his former manager!).

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  Bobby Abreu did not receive arbitration because he is seeking a three year deal which the Yankees are not offering. Plus, the Yankees have a pretty deep outfield already: Deamon (sorry), Cabrera, Gardener, and Nady. The top pitching interests for the Yankees were all offered arbitration (Sabathia, Burnett, and Lowe)

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The Marlins did not offer arbitration to their Type B Free Agents Luis Gonzalez, Paul Lo Duca, or Arthur Rhodes. The Reds have reported interest in the reliever Arthur Rhodes. With the Mariners offering arbitration to Raul Ibanez, it is unlikely that the Marlins will continue seeking him because they don’t want to sacrifice a draft pick. Since the Yankees did not offer arbitration to Ivan Rodriguez (known to us as Pudge), he might be the perfect fit for the Marlins organization since they are seeking an experienced catcher to help their young pitching staff. The Marlins have also experienced interest in Carl Pavano
If the Braves want to continue pursuing Burnett, they would not have to give up their first round pick if they signed him because they have one of the first fifteen selections. Their compensation would be a “sandwich selection” between the first and second rounds, and their second round pick. 
The Phillies did not offer arbitration to Jamie Moyer or Pat Burrell. They could be interested in outfielders Juan Rivera or Rocco Baldelli seeing that those two were not offered arbitration by their teams, so Philly would not have to compensate by giving up draft picks. 
Players have until midnight of December 7 (so technically December 8) to accept or refuse these offers. 
In other Red Sox news… the Sox will officially announce their signing of the Japanese righty Junichi Tazawa sometime this week, after his physicals go through. The terms of the deal were three years at $3 million. The Red Sox also signed left handed reliever Billy Traber to a minor league contract, and an invitation to Spring Training. However, a spot on the major league roster might be difficult to attain seeing that the Sox already have two lefties in the bullpen: Okajima and Lopez. Last year with the Yankees, Traber had a 7.02 ERA in 19 outings, and in 95 career appearances (28 starts) he is 12-14 with a 5.54 ERA. The Red Sox have really gone after some pitching this offseason! 
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