Results tagged ‘ Clay Buchholz ’

The End of Spring Training, the Beginning of a New Chapter

I have to tell you guys, I’m absolutely ecstatic for Opening Day. I can’t get it out of my mind, it’s all I ever want to talk about, and after an extended Spring Training– it’s about time. 

Not that the extended Spring Training was bad or anything. I’m glad that we had it. It gave guys like Dustin who maybe start off the season a bit slow extra time to get into their rhythm. Most importantly though, it gave my projects a little extra time to prove themselves. 
That sounds weird right? The most important aspect of Spring Training being the minor leaguers? Spring Training is a time to look at the guys that performed best in the minor leagues, and see if any of them could help your team. 
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We all already know what the guys from last year could do. We know that Ellsbury is the fastest guy out there, and we know that somehow Pedroia’s strike zone has no limits. We know that Tim Lincecum has the coolest windup in baseball, and we know that Jimmy Rollins will be dancing in the dugout. 
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Tell us something we don’t know, or something that we didn’t expect. That’s what Spring Training is about. It’s about Daniel Bard’s 0.00 ERA, it’s about Clay Buchholz talking to John Smoltz and then feeling a new whirl of confidence. It’s about Chris Carter dragging coaches out to the backfield to work on his defense, and it’s about the future. 
That’s why I’m a little sad that it’s over. I’m going to miss talking to all the fans at the game, and waiting for two and a half hours in the rain just for some autographs. This year, I have become much more conscious of the minor leaguers. We both have something in common: we both dream of becoming a part of the Red Sox in the future. They will be playing for them, and I will be writing about them. 
After a while though, Spring Training does get a little tedious, but only because we’re so anxious for Opening Day! It’s kind of like what I’m feeling at school right now. Spring Break starts tomorrow, and let’s just say my brain left about a week ago. 
There is a certain type of excitement that you can detect when you talk about Opening Day with people. Everyone has a reason to be excited and nervous about their team. I know that on Opening Day that I want the Red Sox to beat the Rays, and that Rays Renegade wants just the opposite. 
But both of us share one thing in common: We want baseball back, and our thirst will finally be quenched. This upcoming Monday, our nation will be united, and baseball will be the unifier. 
Chapter 10 of Their Eyes Were Watching God ends with: “So she sat on the porch and watched the moon rise. Soon its amber fluid was drenching the earth, quenching the thirst of the day”. Janie, the main character of the book, is starting a new chapter in her life, and like her, we will be too. 
2009 is going to bring about some memories that we will be able to talk about forever. We will be watching history in the making… classic games in the making. Every game means something, but like I said last October, we have to focus on winning every inning before winning the game… every at-bat, and every pitch. 
It all counts. One little mistake, and the at-bat could change, the inning could change, and the game could change. Every game counts, and every game is a step on the road to October. 
The thing about baseball is that every team has an equal chance to win a game. That is to say, there is a perfect balance in baseball. I wrote about this in my research paper a little bit. Just think about the structure of it. 
As Professor Michael Novak pointed out, “Another two feet between them might settle the issue decisively between them”. Wouldn’t another two feet between the bases significantly impact the game? There may be statistics, but the structure of the game is inherently democratic. That is why it is America’s game. 
Even though some of America’s attempts at spreading democracy throughout the world may have failed, it has given another great gift to the world: baseball. 
As Walt Whitman put it, “Baseball relieves us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set… let us leave our close rooms, the game of ball is glorious”. 

Baseball, Chemistry and my Projects!!!

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Baseball is the perfect medication– for anything really. This morning, I had this terrible chemistry mishap, and I was basically yelled at profusely. I’m in an awful predicament in which I have to make sure that my teacher doesn’t try and take points off of my test. It really wasn’t my fault! It was merely a false assumption, and miscommunication. 

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It was like I was the center fielder and my teacher was the left fielder. I assumed one thing, and she assumed another thing, we miscommunicated, and the next thing you know: the ball is disappearing into the vines at Wrigley Field! I was quite frustrated with the whole situation, and it was really stressing me out. 
Baseball saved me. I was working on my math homework at the end of class when my math teacher asked me who would be the Opening Day starter for the Red Sox. Immediately, all my worries were gone and I was able to focus on the pitching staffs of the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees. It may not be able to cure the minor cough that I have now, or the major cold that Tom has, but it can make you feel better! 
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As I was studying for this evil chemistry test over the course of the past week (I swear I must have done about sixty Lewis Dot Structures), I began translating it to baseball terms. No wonder, it all became clearer. 
I totally understand ionic bonding now that I have related it to baseball. It’s basically when a metal reacts with a non-metal. The way I initially thought of it was: when the thing on the left side of the periodic table reacts with the thing on the right side of the periodic table. Ionic bonding is very different from covalent bonding. Ionic bonding is two totally different things transferring electrons.
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Ionic bonding happened at the World Baseball Classic. Mets players and Phillies players were brought together, Red Sox players and Yankee players were brought together… I wouldn’t really expect them to get along. But Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter became fast friends, and it seems like that friendship will last. I really wish ionic bonding had been a question on my test, I would have given this example. Instead, I had to talk about bond angles. 
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Then there are covalent bonds, which is when non-metals combine and share electrons unevenly. I thought of a couple of examples that are somewhat applicable. This could be like the American League East. There are five teams packed into a really strong division, and the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are going to be winning and losing games against each other right and left. The Blue Jays and the Orioles are going to give everyone trouble too– no one is walking off with the division. 
How would you guys translate this to baseball? If you don’t want to even think about it, I don’t blame you!
My Projects
I am very happy to announce that two of my projects will be making the Opening Day roster! Though they will be coming off the bench, I am very proud of the both of them for working really hard this Spring. 
I noticed the two of these guys at my very first Spring Training games this year. I could just tell that they were going to do well. I even said a couple of entries ago that I thought that these guys were capable of making the roster. 
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I think that Nick Green’s spot was much easier to foresee than Carter’s was. Although Angel Chavez performed really well this Spring, Nick was hitting all over the place! Plus, he can play virtually anywhere in the infield and the outfield, which is perfect for the utility role that we need coming off the bench. 
It’s not like this spot was open at the beginning of the Spring though. We have to remember that this spot was going to either Lugo or Lowrie at the beginning of the Spring, depending on who got the starting shortstop job. Two questions come to mind when I think about this. 
One: I wonder if the Red Sox were leaning toward either one of them before Lugo even had his injury. There are plenty of pros and cons to starting each player, and both were performing really well. The biggest factors in the decision would have probably been Lugo’s contract, and Jed’s versatility. 
Two: When Lugo comes back, where will he fit in? First of all, when Lugo comes back, that probably means that Nick Green will no longer fit into the roster. We already have a backup outfielder (Baldelli) and then Lugo or Lowrie will take the utility spot. I am very curious to see what will happen with this. 
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The reason that Carter’s spot was harder to see was because Jeff Bailey was also performing really well this Spring, and he is the veteran of the two. I could see that they both have the potential to make it in the Majors, which is why they were both my projects. Carter will be filling in for Mark Kotsay (back surgery). Carter has been working really hard on his defense this Spring, and that was his biggest problem before– his hitting is great. 
I think that we should all keep Bailey on our radars though. I would not have been disappointed if Bailey had made the team. I think that the both of them could serve the Red Sox really well. If one of our outfielders gets injured, we know who to call. 
A lot of us are familiar with Clay Buchholz, and it looks like he will be starting the season down in Triple-AAA. Even though he had a rough outing against the Rays today, he still performed really well this Spring.
He is the first in line to come up if one of our starters gets injured. Last year, we rushed him way too much, but we didn’t have much of a choice with Curt Schilling out of the rotation. The acquisition of Brad Penny makes the situation a lot easier. I expect to see Buchholz come up a lot this season. I would say a similar track to Justin Masterson. 

Two Honorable Dedications

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#4!

Once again, I can’t thank you all enough for stopping by and reading. I’m glad that you all have been enjoying what I have to say, and I hope that I will continue to get better in the future. Hopefully the near future seeing that I applied for a scholarship for this summer program that offers classes in sports writing and broadcasting. That’s pretty tailored to what I want to learn right? 
So I have two people that I want to dedicate this post to. The first time that Julia was number four over here, she dedicated her post to Joe Cronin. I want to do a small segment on Cronin because after all, his number was retired but I also want to dedicate a part of this post to Lou Gehrig. Yes, I am dedicating some of this blog to a Yankee. 
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So starting off with Mr. Cronin… he had a significant impact on the Red Sox not only as a player, but as a manager and general manager. He  played on the Sox for ten years (1935-1945) and had some pretty nice career statistics (.301 batting average, and 2,285 hits). What I like about some of these guys is how consistent they are. Cronin batted over .300 and drove in 100 or more runs eight times, and he was an All-Star seven times. I also like to look beyond statistics. 
In 1938, Archie McKain, a pitcher for the Red Sox, hit Jake Powell in the stomach. Jake wasn’t very happy, so he charged the mound, which was not okay with Joe Cronin. Cronin intercepted him, but he wasn’t even a player then. He was only a part time player for the Red Sox after the 1941 season. Besides his extensive duties with the Red Sox, he also served as the American League president from 1959-1973. 
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I know, even partially dedicating a post to a Yankee is weird. But how can I not recognize someone as great as Lou Gehrig? Even though he was a Yankee, the least I can do is respect him. Gehrig played with the Yankees from 1923 (when Yankee Stadium opened) to 1939. He died only two years later. His career was cut short at age 36 when he was diagnosed with ALS, which is now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He held the record for most consecutive games played at 2,130 until Cal Ripken Jr. surpassed him. I wonder if that record would have been longer if he hadn’t been diagnosed with that fatal disease. After all, he was nicknamed “The Iron Horse”. Even as I read about the farewell ceremony that the Yankees dedicated to him on July 4, 1939, it makes me tear up. I think we all have heard Gehrig’s immortal words at some point:
“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the planet”. 
I am honored to partially dedicate my post to Lou Gehrig. 
Disney World.
So the reason for my short blogging hiatus was because I went to Disney World this weekend with my best friend and her family. It was a spur of the moment type thing I guess. I didn’t really have time to blog because all I wanted to do was sleep when we got back to the hotel because my friend and I were both sick. 
So while I was there, my one-track mind was thinking about baseball as usual and as we were walking through the crowded streets of Fantasyland/Tomorrowland/Whatever, I was looking at baseball hats and shirts. 
As I saw the hats and t-shirts, I had a growing urge to go up to them and start a conversation as I normally do. But this would not have been a calm and cool before-the-baseball-game chatter. This would have been stressful-Disney-World-chatter. Not the ideal place to talk about baseball. 
Nonetheless, I proceeded to take mental notes of all the hats, and announcing to my friend that I approved of the Red Sox fans as I saw them. I saw Red Sox fans, White Sox fans, Tigers fans (more like one guy), Twins fans, Yankees fans, Rays fans, a Braves fan, Cubs fans, Marlins fans, a Dodgers fan, Brewers fans, and Phillies fans. 
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Although I wasn’t able to keep up with the scores as they were happening, it’s not like I was too far removed from baseball itself. The Braves play at Disney’s Wild World of Sports, which I took pictures of as we were driving by.
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And yet another baseball reference from this weekend! My friend’s father works right next door to Joe Dimaggio’s Children’s Hospital! There is even a Joe Dimaggio statue out front, and it’s on Joe Dimaggio Drive. 
Red Sox
As soon as I got to a computer, you can pretty much guess the first thing I checked. Oh yes, the box scores. I was very happy to see that my dear friend Chip Ambres hit a walk-off home run. I am proud to have his autograph. 
It looks like Beckett did pretty well, and will be starting on Opening Day! This will be his first start on Opening Day in a Red Sox uniform, and I am very glad that it is him. I think that this will be one of his healthier years, he has been looking great all Spring!
Masterson will not be in the starting rotation, even if Brad Penny can’t make his first “scheduled start”. I can understand this. I love having Masterson in the ‘pen, and even though I love his versatility, being part of that formidable bullpen will be just as good. 
So if Brad Penny isn’t ready? Clay Buchholz. I know some of you may still be getting over what happened last year with him. But now that he knows that it isn’t locked in, and that he could even be sent down to the minors after that start, I think that’s a lot more relaxing than having that pressure of knowing that you have to perform well. 
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The fact that Opening Day is coming up soon is not only exciting, to say the least for me, it’s also a bit sad. You see, I grew very close to my projects, and it’s time for some of them to be sent back down. Right now, a pretty epic bat
tle is going on between some of my favorite projects: Chris Carter and Jeff Bailey. 
I think they are both significantly talented, and I think it may even come down whether or not the Red Sox need a right handed batter, or a left handed batter. I think I’ll leave that for my next post though. 
Thank you all so much again for your support!

International Upset? Or enjoyable shock?

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Did any of you really think that the Netherlands would even win one game? I’ll be completely honest with you– I didn’t. I thought that teams would walk all over them– especially the Dominican. You know, the team with all the All-Stars? 

Here is was their lineup:
1. Reyes (SS)
2. Taveras (CF)
3. [Hanley] Ramirez (DH)
4. Ortiz (1B)
5. Tejada (3B)
6. Guillen (RF)
7. Cano (2B)
8. Cruz (LF)
9. Olivo (C)
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They have the two best short stops in Major League Baseball, Miguel Tejada (if that even is his real name), not to mention David Ortiz.
Here is the Netherlands lineup: 
1. Kingsdale (CF-RF)
2. Schoop (SS)
3. Simon (1B)
4. de Caster (3B)
5. Engelhardt (LF)
6. Adriana (DH)
7. Van’t Klooster (RF)
8. Jansen (C)
9. Duursma (2B)
I don’t know who ANY of these guys are! So the Netherlands are making the trip to Miami where they will meet Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the USA. I think that this shocked the world, and that is the beauty of baseball. I counted them out– I really did but you can’t do that in baseball. The Netherlands are kind of like the Rays of 2008. They came out of no where, and now their skills will be put to the test. 
It’s not like it wasn’t a close game though. It went scoreless into the 11th inning when the Dominican scored a run in the top half, but the Netherlands rallied in the bottom half to produce a walk-off victory. 
The Dominican Republic team is like Team USA of 2006–disappointing. So what went wrong? I think there are a few things that are significant. 
1. Overconfidence. Everyone expected a lot out of the Dominican Republic, especially with that lineup of theirs. They may have gotten a little too self-assured. 
2. Since most all of the players in their lineup play in the Major Leagues, none of their guys have had much practice. If it wasn’t for the WBC, they would be at Spring Training getting into baseball shape. Some of the guys on these other teams have been playing baseball in the winter, so that gives them some of an advantage. 
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3. Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez were both unable to play. I can definitely see Albert Pujols making a big impact, but seeing that this tournament is similar to the playoffs, I don’t know how well he would have done. 
I think that I will be lucky enough to get to a few of the WBC games. In fact, my weekend looks to be absolutely filled with baseball. On Saturday, I plan on heading to Fort Lauderdale to see the Red Sox play the Orioles, then go to the Puerto Rico vs United States game at 8:00 pm. Then on Sunday, the fantasy baseball draft!! I’m nervous about that, I have NO idea what I’m doing. 
 In the Realm of the Red Sox 
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Clay Buchholz had a successful outing against the Orioles earlier this week. He fired three scoreless innings and struck out two. There is even better news though: he says that he has never felt more confident before a game.
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Where does this confidence come from? Veteran starter John Smoltz. Not only did the Red Sox pick up an established talent, but they also picked up an adviser. And for the abundance of young pitching that the Red Sox have and will rely on in the future, it’s great to have a Hall of Fame shoe in to guide them along. 
I have heard that Randy Johnson is kind of mean, and I don’t think that does anyone any good. What if Tim Lincecum needs advice? That’s a bit discouraging, or at least I would find it to be. 
Josh Beckett had a successful outing today going four scoreless innings with two strikeouts. This week, Josh Reddick has been on fire! I think he is gaining confidence at the plate, which is what I noted that he needed to work on when I saw him a few weeks ago. Something tells me that he won’t be in the Majors this year. 
I can see him tearing up Double-AA ball though. I think I’m going to make him my future project– he has a guaranteed spot next year and will be on my radar! I have been very happy with the production of my projects thus far this Spring. 
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Mike Lowell finally returned to the lineup against the Orioles, and he went 1-3. He would not have gotten that hit if he hadn’t asked Terry Francona for another at-bat. I’m glad that he did, and I’m glad that he felt good. I know that it will take him a year to fully recuperate from the surgery, but I am confident that he will be fine if he can adjust. 
We signed all of the guys without contracts yet to one-year deals. This doesn’t mean that long contracts can’t be negotiated. As far as I can tell, Jon Lester’s deal is still in the works. This includes people like Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Justin Masterson, etc. 
I am hoping that I can get you guys some more information about Junichi Tazawa this weekend. I’ll bring lots of pictures from the WBC– I will be sitting in the upper-deck though. I know that a few of the guys from MLB Network are going to be there, and I want to meet them! 
-Elizabeth

Reporting Live from City of Palms Park

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It is pretty obvious to me why Spring Training is held in a place like Florida. In March, the weather is absolutely beautiful, and yesterday was no exception. The forecast predicted a sunny day with a high of 80 degrees, and a low of 63 degrees. My father and I left the house at 8:30 in the morning, drove for two and a half hours through the flat and uneventful landscape of Florida, and finally arrived in Fort Myers around 11 am. Little did I know that batting practice started two and a half hours before the game rather than the accustomed two hours. My pictures are unfortunately too big to share and I don’t know how to make them smaller. 

Like Fenway Park, City of Palms park also offers a nice “tunnel experience”. As you turn into the seating sections, you have to walk up a few stairs, and all you can see is the beautiful blue sky, and as you walk out, the baseball diamond presents itself. City of Palms Park provides a different type of atmosphere than Fenway Park does. It is much more “intimate”, as Kathleen, one of the Red Sox fans I met put it. Everywhere that you sit it feels like you have a great view, even if you’re not in the lower bowl. 
The Red Sox dugout is actually on the third base line, which is odd, because generally home teams are on the first base line and visiting teams are on the third base line. I walked over to the place where a couple of other Red Sox fans were standing. It was a fenced off area next to the dugout that extended down the left field line. Northeastern University was having batting practice, but the time went quickly as I began to socialize with a few Red Sox fans. 
If it was not for them, I would not have realized something very, very important. Johnny Pesky was sitting just above the fence, and anyone could go get an autograph. I have no idea what my heart did when I heard those words, but some kind of palpitation is probably the appropriate diagnosis. I walked up the stairs, my hands shaking a bit, and I told myself not to become hysterical. I walked over slowly, said hello, and asked for an autograph. 
“Sure!” He said happily as he took my ball and sharpie from my hand. He also agreed to take a picture with me. He was SO nice and friendly, and he gave me a hug and a kiss on my cheek. Words cannot describe how incredible it was to meet a Red Sox legend– appropriate too considering that I dedicated my latest ranking to him. 
I walked back down as others began to come over asking for his autograph and continued to socialize with the Red Sox fans. I love you all here on the blogosphere, but it was nice to finally have someone to talk to face to face about the Red Sox and what happened last season and what we think about this year. Finally, a few of the Red Sox started filing into the dugout: Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Terry Francona, Kevin Youkilis, and Lars Anderson were among the first few who were hanging out in the dugout. 
I was standing near this girl, who looked about my age and we decided to start respectfully calling the players names to see if they would come over. Starting pitcher Kris Johnson came out first, and even though we called to him, he nicely explained to us that he had to warm up. At least he responded to us. 
We then started calling out to Dustin, who smiled and gave us a wave, and Jacoby who smiled and waved from the dugout. I was pretty much in shock when I saw Kevin Youkilis– the Youk Fu is gone! He doesn’t have a beard anymore. He didn’t look over to us, which is understandable because I’m pretty sure that he blocks everything out before the game. 
We waited for a little while longer, and Wally the Green Monster came over so I was able to get his autograph. Then, right when it was about time for the game, the players started coming back. Most of them went straight to the dugout, but Jacoby stopped and started signing but on the other side of where I was. There was no way I would be able to get over there since there was already a cluster of people. I was happy enough that he waved to me. Lars Anderson also came over, much closer to where I was, so I tried to squeeze my way through. He literally reached into the crowd and grabbed my ball to sign it. He gets to be my project. 
The lineup for the game was as follow:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis 1B
4. Lars Anderson DH 
5. Jed Lowrie SS
6. Angel Chavez 3B
7. Josh Bard C
8. Zach Daeges LF
9. Josh Reddick RF
SP: Kris Johnson
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Kris Johnson gave up only one hit over two innings, and struck out three. The hit came in the top of the first inning and it was a triple to Josh Gustafson. 
Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out in the first inning and Kevin Youkilis struck out (I watched him on the way back to the dugout and he didn’t break anything!!!). Pedroia, Anderson and Lowrie got on, and Angel Chavez, a third-base prospect hit a grand slam! He had really nice form as well. Josh Bard also hit a home run that inning and he hit a long ball later, but it wasn’t far enough to be a home run. He was definitely getting some wood on it, which is nice to see. The most important thing for him is to work on throwing guys down at second, especially if he is going to be catching Wakefield. 
I didn’t know that Luis Tiant was in the dugout, and he has a gigantic white mustache that kind of makes him look like a walrus. He was the one that suggested that the Red Sox sign Charlie Zink (whom I did not see play in either game). 
I noticed that Jacoby is watching more pitches, and even though he grounded out twice (in one inning), the fact that he is being patient is great, and his eye is improving even more if that’s possible. 
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I was impressed with Angel Chavez’s fielding, it was completely solid. He had an incredible game as he hit another home run later in the game. 
I noticed that Jed Lowrie swings that bad pitches sometimes, which he can easily work on, but he had a great bases clearing double and his fielding was solid. He made a great first impression on me for ’09. 
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Dustin Richardson, a pitching prospect, came in to pitch and he had great mechanics, he throws hard, and he has good command. A little more fine tuning in the minors and I could see him coming up– that is, if we EVER need help for pitching. 
Zach Daeges, who played left field, had a very weird stance, his back foot is entirely out of the box. He did get a nice double though, so maybe it works for him. 
Josh Reddick, who you may remember from the Minnesota game, takes too many pitches, he needs more confidence, but he did have a nice hit as well. 
Pedroia and Youk had nice cuts, and Ellsbury ripped a tripple into left-center field which could have been an inside the park home run at the speed he was going, but he was stopped by the third base coach. It was his first extra base hit of the Grapefruit League season. 
I was lucky enough to see Junichi Tazawa pitch, which was what I was hoping for because I wanted to see how he was. In two beautiful innings of relief, he struck out four, and walked one. He has a fast delivery, and some nice breaking balls! 
Felix Doubront, another Red Sox pitcher posted a great 1-2-3 inning. 
Game 2
I could have gone to a nice dinner at this Italian place called Carrabba’s, an Italian place where I heard that a lot of Red Sox players go. Instead, I opted to go back to the park 2.5 hours early to try and get autographs. As I was walking in, I was pretty much alone and not many people were there. I saw Big Papi talking to a few guys on the Reds, but I didn’t want to interrupt him so I continued walking. Then I saw Jason Varitek all alone on the field and I tried to open my mouth to say something, but nothing came out! I didn’t want to disturb him anyway.
This time I brought water so I wouldn’t get as dehydrated as I did last time. I waved to Varitek who acknowledged my presence but did not wave. What the heck do I say to a guy who is all alone? The Red Sox were up for batting practice, and let me tell you, Big Papi looked great. He looked a lot more comfortable in his swing, and he was hitting some long balls. 
I became the official yeller to the players. I wasn’t as intimidated yelling to the minor leaguers because I assumed that they would want to sign for us. I first yelled to Nick Green who looked, and came right over to us! He signed my ball first :)
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Then Heidi Watney of NESN came over and started talking to us! She was so nice to us, and she was just asking how we were. Before she left, I felt I had to ask, “Any advice for an aspiring Sports Writer?” I saw someone motion to her in the dugout so I thought he wouldn’t respond but she told him to wait a second and answered my question. 
“Intern,” she said. And then she told me about where she interned and how she got into the business. I am so glad that I asked her. 
We waved to Terry Francona as he came back into the dugout and he smiled and waved back but didn’t stop to sign. I socialized with some more Red Sox fans, including Kathleen and Karen who I ended up talking to the entire night! I also talked to this nine year old girl who was dying for a Big Papi autograph but was happy enough with what we got. We looked up all the minor leaguers numbers who we didn’t know and started calling to them.
About 30 minutes before the game, Clay Buchholz was in the dugout. ‘Clay!’ we yelled, he looked up, smiled and waved, and then went back to his mental routine. I didn’t yell again because I wanted to allow him to mentally prepare– after all, we remember what happened last year. 
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We then yelled at Chris Carter, who smiled waved, and came right over! He signed my ball first again! He was so sweet! Big Papi and Lugo waved to us, and as everyone was coming back, I climbed on to the ledge so I could hold my arm out longer. Lugo was coming down the line signing and as I held my arm out, Gil Velazquez came right over to me and signed!
‘Good luck tonight!’ I said, he smiled and said, ‘Thank you,’. Julio Lugo then signed my ball right after! After he signed, I yelled again at Chris Carter!
‘Hi Chris!!’ he laughed a little and waved, and on his way back in the dugout, I yelled ‘Good luck tonight Chris!’. He smiled again and semi-tipped his cap at me. I’m pretty sure that we are best friends now. 
I said goodbye to all of my new Red Sox fan friends, and walked back over to my section with Kathleen and Karen, who were sitting with us. 
The lineup was as follows:
1. Julio Lugo SS
2. Brad Wilkerson CF
3. David Ortiz DH
4. JD Drew RF
5. Jason Bay LF
6. Jason Varitek C :) 
7. Chris Carter 1B
8. Nick Green 3B
9. Gil Velazquez 2B 
Lugo had two nice hits and looked great defensively, so he ALSO made a great impression on me. Wilkerson had a great home run and a double. Papi, Drew and Bay were looking great and collected a few nice hits. Jason Varitek had a bases clearing double and looked great behind the plate. 
Chris Carter, my new friend, had some nice plays at first, and had a nice double. Nick Green played well at first and collected two hits. One down the third base line and a great infield single! Gil Velazquez had two nice hits and played a great game at second base. These three guys looked great. 
Pitching:
Clay Buchholz pitched two innings of one hit ball with one strikeout. The only problems I see is that he gets behind in the count sometimes, and he had too many 3-2 counts. His changeup could be improved as well. 
Ramon Ramirez had nice control, gets great distance off the rubber, has a quick delivery and had a great strike out when the count was 3-2. The only thing I see is that he needs to work on pitching around the strikezone. 
Javy Lopez, as Red Sox fans know, is either totally on or totally off. He looked more like the “off” guy as he didn’t shut down the side. Manny Delcarmen had a nice inning and Billy Traber actually didn’t give up any runs! He does have to work on his control though. Daniel Bard also closed out the ninth nicely with a strikeout. 
More to come tomorrow! I would like to concentrate on the Red Sox vs Twins match up now. 0-0 in the 6th! Great game on MLB Network. 
I’m sending pictures to Julia, do you want some? E-mail me
-Elizabeth

Back to the Red Sox

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It’s done! It’s finally done! Thank you all for the positive support that you have shown me throughout this entire process. From topics to write about, to the intro paragraph to the outline to the rough draft, you guys were always there for me. I think that speaks wonders for the wonderful community that we have here. 

I want you all to know that I took into consideration each and every comment that you gave me. You guys caught some really important stuff. Whether it was my contradictions, or my tense changes, or the places that I should separate my paragraphs– it all really helped! 
It’s not like I haven’t been keeping up with the Red Sox. Research paper or not, I always check in on the site. I’ve made it unavoidable for myself because it’s my homepage. 
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I’m feeling quite confident about the Red Sox’s 2009 season. They went into 2008 with basically the exact same roster that they came out of the World Series with… so the question is– what happened? 
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First of all, Curt Schilling was NOT healthy. He didn’t even make one pitch for the Red Sox. Not that I blame him or anything, I would not have wanted him to pitch unhealthy. So to fix this problem, the Red Sox went out and got John Smoltz. His role is almost identical to what Schilling’s was supposed to be last year. Schilling wasn’t supposed to come back until June of 2008 and look when Smoltz is supposed to come back: June 2009. Luckily Smoltz feels healthy. 
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Josh Beckett was not his 2007 self. Like I said a few entries ago, Beckett is like a cyclical economy, only not as proportional. He has a really good year, and then he has a mediocre year. A cyclical economy is a bit more extreme. Statistically, he’s due to have a good year. Even Francona says that he looks like his 2007 self. Beckett made some interesting speculations during his interview. He said he was “catching up all year”. It started in Spring Training when he had back spasms. I was at that game, I was really excited because I had never seen him pitch before (I still haven’t seen it)… then Manny Delcarmen pitched. It was still fun. 
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We never had a solid fifth starter. It started with Clay Buchholz, the no-hitter phenomenon. Turns out he still needed a bit more seasoning in the minors after he posted a 2-9 record. So the Sox sent him back down to Double AA Portland– the problem was, they never really planned for this. Who was their fifth starter going to be? They experimented with Bartolo Colon (he was a bit of a fluke– good luck to you Chicago fans). Then there was Dave Pauley, Justin Masterson and Michael Bowden, but we all know that they still needed seasoning (Pauley is long gone now). Then we finally acquired Paul Byrd in late July– it helped a bit. So what did the Red Sox do to improve on that? They went out and got not only John Smoltz, but Brad Penny. That Brad Penny acquisition was perfect– I’m sensing a comeback year. I’ll report back if I like what I see at Spring Training. 
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Jacoby Ellsbury was not as “Jacoby Ellsbury” as he was in 2007. But what do you expect? Everyone is worrying about how they don’t know what he’s going to do in 2009. Relax. Here is what I predict: He will bat about .285, maybe a bit higher, he will steal more bases, and he will be more consistent. Plus he still makes those incredible catches in the outfield. 
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Big Papi was not “Big Papi”. When this happens, it’s remarkable that you even get to the ALCS. His average dropped, his home runs dropped– everything dropped. So Ortiz worked out during the offseason, shaped up a bit, and rested his wrist. That was the big problem, I think he’ll be back. 
Manny being Manny was no longer the pride of Red Sox Nation. I loved Manny, I really did, but he had to go. He was just too worried about his contract and what was going to happen next year. If he can’t deal with the business of baseball, then he shouldn’t be playing. So he left, but boy did we get one hell of a guy. Jason Bay came in and performed beautifully. Not to mention that the “lack of experience in October” that everyone was fretting about turned into “Wow, Jason bay is thriving in October!!”. A better season this year? Oh yes. 
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Mike Lowell’s hip basically blew up. A torn labarum I think it was– that doesn’t sound pretty, and it wasn’t. It was painful watching him being in pain. He lost his range over at third, and he lost some power in his bat. When that happens to your 2007 World Series MVP, what are you supposed to do? Well, not only did the Red Sox management go out and get Mark Kotsay, Kevin Youkilis stepped up and went to third. He looked like he played third everyday of his life (and I think he was brought up as a third baseman). 
The bullpen was inconsistent. Everyone was tired during the summer, and you could tell. Poor Jonathan Papelbon would not have pitched in Game 7 if he had been needed. We overused him because our relief was inconsistent Well just look at our bullpen now! We definitely have one of the best in the Majors. It’s also good to know that Papelbon feels rejuvenated now. 
Not to mention the great looking bench that we have. When you have a guy like Rocco Baldelli coming off your bench, I think you’re in pretty good shape. By the way, I think Rocco would like us all to know: He feels fine. I can imagine that he has been asked that questions way too many times. 
Both of the contenders for starting shortstop say that
they are ready to go and that they feel great. The article about Lugo made me feel a little bit guilty though. I didn’t forget about him!! Maybe I was just– angry! I know that he has always been a second half guy but… that doesn’t mean that he’s allowed to blow off the first half! After reading that article, I’ve decided that the shortstop spot is completely wide open. I don’t want Julio to be nervous about living up to his contract. That’s the problem with all the money in baseball these days, it puts pressure on these guys. I hope that Pedroia, Youkilis and Papelbon don’t let their nice contracts get to them. I don’t think they will.
Speaking of contracts, the Red Sox management have mentioned that they would be in favor of a salary cap. Like they said, it would just take time. Time to figure out how exactly to do this. It would be great for some teams, but it would also hurt other teams– like the Red Sox. They are in favor of a “competitive balance”. Well, wouldn’t that make baseball even better if the games were even closer? It would be tricky for general managers to try and work out their teams, and would players be in favor of taking some pay cut checks? I like this idea, I just don’t want to see another 1994. It would make baseball easier to relate to though– it would bring it closer to the level that the New York Knickerbockers wanted to keep it at: an amateur game. 
I’ll be doing a full look at the Red Sox’s roster in the near future. 
I have the final draft of my paper (with footnotes too!). If you are interested in a copy, please leave a comment with your e-mail or e-mail me at elizabethxsanti@aol.com, and I’d be happy to send it. 
-Elizabeth

Someone give Jason a Sign!!

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Tomorrow is Friday, which means that we will finally know whether Jason Varitek will be returning. My endless crusade for his return for the past three months will finally come to an end. You have heard from me countless times about his intangible impact on the pitching staff and what not, but this weekend be prepared to hear something new. I hope that tomorrow evening [presumably], I will be posting a celebratory entry, with tears of joy rolling down my cheeks, and Jason Varitek brownies will be cooking in the oven. 

I will be waiting for that fateful text message from my father all day, and I don’t think my peers will be surprised if I let out a scream during class when I find out the news. My phone will probably be taken away and I will be issued a detention, but it is well worth it to know the news immediately and be relieved for the next year (or two). 
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When this situation is finally figured out, I think the future of Clay Buchholz will be more clear as well. Julia commented yesterday that she thinks that Clay will be traded to the Texas Rangers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Like I said before, I would be a bit concerned if this happened because Smoltz and Penny are only one year deals, but seeing that we have a whole year with them, Michael Bowden could be developed in the minor leagues. 
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If you haven’t already heard, Mike Lowell will not be playing in the World Baseball Classic. The fact of the matter is that he is coming off an offseason full of rehab and we don’t want to inhibit his potential to start on Opening Day. I want him to play during Spring Training and I want him to be perfectly healthy for the 2009 season. I’m pretty sure he was injured throughout the 2005 season when he was with the Marlins and he really bounced back from that. He’s only 34, there’s no reason that he can’t bounce back again. Chase Utley had a hip problem and he’s ready to go as he said in an interview on the Hot Stove Report. Maybe Mike Lowell should be up there as well. 
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I’m I am (learning from the J-Blog school) wondering if the Red Sox still have the chance to lock up some key players to some long term deals. I would like to get one done with Jason Bay. As far as I know, the free agent market for left fielders isn’t going to be too great next year and I’ve really come to like Jason Bay. As of right now, I don’t think that Papelbon will get locked up long term because even he hinted that “they don’t see eye to eye on that”. I would not mind waiting until next year to lock Papelbon up. 
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I also think that depending on how Jacoby Ellsbury does in 2009 that the Red Sox should look long term to him as well. By trading Coco Crisp to the Royals as one of the first moves of the offseason, it was implied that Ellsbury is the future center fielder of the Red Sox. 
Once again, I had a conversation with the dedicated Cubs fan and asked him about Jake Peavy. 
William [Cubs fan]: I would love to acquire Jake Peavy if the Cubs don’t have to give up too much talent. 
(I don’t even need to interview Kaybee for this one). 
Me: You said yesterday that you liked Ricketts over Steinbrenner. I thought you liked the Yankees. 
William: Well, I have a lot of respect for the Yankees, but the Cubs are truly my favorite team. 
William also plans on reading Torre’s book. I’m going to tell him to pick up Jane’s while he added. 
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I was scrolling through the impressive World Baseball Classic roster and not only did I notice the Red Sox names, but I noticed the abundance of star players on the Dominican Republic’s team. Looks like they’re going to be unstoppable. Seeing that a few games are being played in Miami at the Marlins’ stadium (sadly called Dolphin Stadium), I will be trying to attend. 
I outlined the games that I am planning on attending in Florida for the upcoming season because I don’t know when I will be making my pilgrimage to Fenway. Spring Training games are obviously up there as well as a few Rays vs Red Sox series and a couple of Marlins games. I am wondering if any of you will be making the trip down to Florida for Spring Training. Let me know, I look forward to seeing you there.
-Elizabeth

A Brief Look at the Future of the Red Sox Pitching Staff

Yesterday, ‘Jacobyluvr’ posted a comment with some great questions regarding the future some of the Red Sox’s young pitching stars. Here’s my take on them:

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Where might Jon Lester be in the starting rotation? 
Lester really stepped it up last year, and pretty much established himself as the ace of our staff. I think that he would do great in the number one slot. He had great success in the post season as the ace of our staff (besides Game 3 of the ’08 ALCS) and I think that success will carry over into next year. In 2008, Beckett was plagued with injuries so his stats declined a bit, but this could also come from the amount of pressure that came from being the runner up to winning the Cy Young. Since Lester wasn’t in the running for the Cy Young, I think he’ll be okay. If he doesn’t start in the first slot, I can see him in the third slot. For some reason Dice-K seems like a second slot guy to me. 
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What are your thoughts on Clay Buchholz, is he still with us?
Yes, Clay is still with us. The Red Sox were smart to keep him in Double AA Portland after starting the season out 2-9. There is no doubt that Buchholz has talent, after all he did throw a no hitter against the Orioles on September 1, 2007. It was noted by various reporters that Buchholz’s stuff improved in Double AA, as well as in the AFL (Arizona Fall League). Seeing that Smoltz and Penny are only one year deals, I think that 2008 will be a year that Buchholz can really develop and fine tune his techniques so that he is ready to start in 2009. 
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What about Masterson?
The great thing about Masterson is that he is very flexible. Smoltz won’t be coming back until about June, so Penny could either be starting, or in the bullpen. If Penny is in the bullpen, than I think Masterson could serve as a great temporary fifth starter. We know that Masterson can handle pressure, and for such a young guy, that’s impressive, and reassuring to know. In Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS Terry Francona and John Farrell put him in the bottom of the ninth with a one run lead and he put two men on– but after being briefly talked to by Varitek and Farrell, he was able to settle down and close it out. He is also training as a starter so that he can go wherever the Red Sox need him to go. In the long run, depending on how Buchholz turns out, he could be a starter. For now, I see him as a reliever though. 
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Did you see MLB Network’s Prime 9 on short stops? If so, what did you think of A-Rod being ranked second? 
I am definitely one that gives credit where credit is due, but I honestly don’t think that A-Rod deserved to be ranked the second greatest short stop of all time. I think that he can be ranked up there in the top nine, but just not second. Personally, the top three shortstop for me are:
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Honus Wagner
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Ozzie Smith “The Wizard of Oz”
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Cal Ripken Jr. 
I know that A-Rod has accomplished some incredible feats, he is probably one of the greatest baseball players of our time, but just not the SECOND best, perhaps the fifth best.
As we all know, it looks like the Ricketts family is going to be purchasing the Cubs. What I didn’t know until today was how Cubs fans feel about this. Cubs bloggers if you’re out there, please leave your URL because I would love to read your opinions on this. Anyway, I decided to investigate and find out what one Cubs fan thinks about this. Jen, I’m sure you hate him already.
I found William Hector today actually wearing Cubs colors, I wondered if it was intentional but he classified it as a coincidence. William doesn’t keep up with all the names of players and what not, but he loves watching the games. 
Me: William, how do you feel about the Cubs new ownership?
William: I like it! I like it better than Hank Steinbrenner. 
Now Yankee fans this does seem like a low blow to the Yankees, but William is actually a Yankee fan! I neglected to ask him how he felt about Jake Peavy when we got onto the topic of Joe Torre’s new book. He asked me if I was reading it, but I told him I was reading my friend, Jane’s book first. 
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Speaking of Jane’s book, I’ve come up with a few reasons why I’ll be reading hers first as oppose to Torre’s. 
Joe Torre bashes A-Rod a lot in his book. Don’t I already know that I don’t like A-Rod? Does Joe Torre have to convince me to continue not liking A-Rod? Absolutely not! I know Jane is a Yankee fan and all, but she’s still a baseball fan right? Torre is a manager, Jane is a fan (and wicked author). I think I can relate to Jane a bit more than I can relate to Torre. Plus, after reading an excerpt from it on Amazon, I laughed! Torre’s book just reaffirmed my hatred for the Yankees.
I’m not looking to have my beliefs changed AT ALL, I’m fine with hating the Yankees but that doesn’t mean I hate ALL Yankee fans. The Yankee fans here actually are quite smart, and make it easy to actually co-exist with them! 
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I’ve decided to be a conformist and join the fantasy
baseball craze. From what I’ve heard, I have to rally up some friends and start a league on either Yahoo or ESPN. So, here’s an open call to all who would like to start a fantasy baseball team with me. 
Varitek, your deadline is Friday. Funny how Scott Boras was quoted saying that “he has nothing to say”. This is good, as long as he keeps his mouth shut, we’re all better off!
-Elizabeth

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

John Smoltz out of a Braves uniform?! And Baldelli’s Homecoming

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There are a couple of players in baseball that we absolutely cannot imagine out of their uniform, and John Smoltz fell under this category for me. He was with Atlanta for twenty years! From 1988-2008, and he was incredible! His career record is 210-147, he has 3,011 career strikeouts, and a 3.26 ERA. The strikeouts is definitely the most impressive, he reached 3,000 against the Nationals if I’m remembering correctly. Anyway, he’s been with the Braves for SO long, it’s still hard for me to imagine him outside of a Braves uniform.

Hardball and Darion are pretty upset about it, and about the entire Braves offseason. They lost out on Burnett, Peavy, and Fucal (the Furcal situation being the most annoying in my opinion). 
Interesting thing about Smoltz is that he probably won’t pitch until around June 1. He’s going to be like the Curt Schilling of last year, only he’ll actually pitch! According to his now former manager Bobby Cox, he looks “incredible” pitching.
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The Red Sox also acquired Rhode Island native Rocco Baldelli. The cool part is, he grew up rooting for the Red Sox **okay, no he didn’t as I just found out. Just a rumor I heard! Thanks to Julia for the correction!**, and probably dreaming about hitting home runs over the green monster (like he did in the ALCS–only he wasn’t on the Red Sox). Rocco Baldelli not only has a great name, but he also had a great start to his career. In 2003 he came in third for the Rookie of the Year awards and batted .289 with 184 hits. However he didn’t even play in 2005, and his playing time was limited from 2006-2008 because of injuries. Originally he was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder, which causes excessive fatigue. Now, he has been re-diagnosed and has channelopathy (more on that later). Baldelli will serve as the fourth outfielder the Red Sox have been looking for. This will still let Jacoby almost everyday because Baldelli obviously can’t play everyday. Theo said that he’s been in talks with Baldelli since November! Theo, you’re so sneaky! 
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And now, Mark Kotsay could be back on the Red Sox. Kotsay will probably serve as the backup first baseman again for the Red Sox. This is good because if anyone else in the infield gets injured, Youkilis can go play their position (I am convinced that he can play anywhere–he can probably pitch too) and Kotsay can stay over at first. 
So with these two acquisitions, tons of trade rumors popped into my head, so I had a mini-panic attack yesterday. Here are a few, and why they can’t happen
1. Jacoby Ellsbury could be traded for more catching depth
This could not happen because not only has Theo made it clear that Jacoby is meant as the future, but Baldelli obviously can’t play everyday, so getting rid of Ellsbury would leave not only a serious hole in the outfield, but a serious hole in the lead off spot, and with base stealing! 
2. It is now safe to send Clay Buchholz to Texas for more catching depth now that we have Penny and Smoltz
This could not happen because Smoltz and Penny are only one year deals, and Clay Buchholz is obviously the future of pitching. I have now deemed Clay Buchholz my “project”. 
Being my “project” is a very special thing. Last year, Justin Masterson and Jed Lowrie were my projects and look how well they turned out! So now that I’ve officially decided that Buchholz is my project and that I will invest my faith in him, hopefully he will do better. 
One more thing before we go. Scott Boras really screwed Jason Varitek over. I’m not saying that he’s not coming back because I truly believe that he will. But we all would’ve been at ease by now if Boras didn’t convince Varitek to reject arbitration. It was pretty much his only chance at making $11 million per year. I’m pretty furious with Scot Boras but I realized something today. If I have even a little doubt that he’s going to come back, then he won’t, but if I put every ounce of faith that I have into Jason Varitek’s return, then I think he’ll come back. I’m not even going to doubt it anymore. I’m going to will it to be true just like Fisk and everybody willed that ball to stay fair. 
Just a quick shout out to my friend Steph. She’s one of my only friends who have looked at and read my blog, and I just wanted to thank her for that! Means a lot!
-Elizabeth
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