Results tagged ‘ Jason Varitek ’

The Bullpen Savior, and Future Saviors

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They should call him the ‘bullpen savior’, Tim Wakefield that is. Not only does Jason Varitek get an off day when he pitches, but as of late, the bullpen has gotten one as well. No wonder the Red Sox picked up his option for this year. 

He may be one of the oldest guys on the team, but he is pretty durable. He is always able to go pretty deep into games whether he is effective or not. There are only a few instances when he has really short Dice-K like outings, but that’s when the knuckleball is completely missing the strike zone, or if the opposing team is able to time the knuckleball and… hit it.   
I like when the knuckleball is dancing, and I love that I can rely on it while I am at school. I wasn’t completely resourceless though. In English class, we were in the computer lab researching the background of a novel that we were about to read. 
Computers=internet=Red Sox. 
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I opened everything that I possibly could: the live box score, gameday, and MLB.TV. By the grace of God, both Gameday and MLB.TV were working (they weren’t the other days that I had tried it). Too bad I am inept when it comes to the school computers, so I couldn’t figure out how to turn the volume down. I realized this when I heard a low mumbling coming from my computer, which happened to be MLB.TV. I quickly turned it off before my teacher could notice.
I watched the game on Gameday, and I received periodic text messages from my father as well. I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to see Nick Green’s first homer of the season, since he is my project and all, but at least he finally hit it, and he wasn’t the only one.  
It only took us one day to sweep the Twins, and once again, one of my projects led the way. Jeff Bailey got the Sox to a 3-0 lead with a nice home run, in his first at-bat of the season, over the green monster. Yeah, that’s not Chris Carter, my other project. 
I’m pretty sad that Carter is being optioned to Triple-AAA Pawtucket. I feel like he didn’t get a fair chance. He only had five at-bats, four of which he struck out in. I know that isn’t very good, but if Papi says that we can’t judge him by fifty at-bats (believe me buddy, I don’t), then we can’t judge Carter in five. He didn’t even play in a full game this season. 
It’s not like we are getting short changed with Bailey though. There is a reason that he was the guy competing with Carter for the roster spot, and honestly, I would have been happy with either of them. Plus, Bailey is the veteran of the two… over 1,000 minor league games, and only 31 major league games. I know there’s no sympathy in baseball, but this guy has to be rewarded for what he has done, and I know what he is able to do. 
I’m just wondering why we couldn’t keep Carter. With Baldelli on the 15-Day DL with a hamstring problem, there’s no reason that the Sox couldn’t have Carter as the backup outfielder, and Bailey as the backup first baseman. That would have meant three projects on one team! The replacement could be a project though… perhaps Lars Anderson, though, I was thinking that he would be in AAA for at least a little while longer. Wakefield may be the bullpen savior, but my projects are in the process of becoming saviors themselves. 
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I bet you guys don’t know where I was July 16, 2007 because if you did, that would be incredibly creepy. I was at the Royals vs Red Sox game, at Fenway Park– the third Fenway Park experience of my life. A guy named Kason Gabbard was pitching that night, and I had never heard of him before that night. 
After that night, it was all about Kason Gabbard for me. He pitched a complete game shutout, and I was impressed. My project program was not established back then, but if it was, he would have been a late addition. 
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I bet some of you know where Kason Gabbard went by the trade deadline of that year. Texas. And who did the Red Sox get? Eric Gagne. Eric let-me-blow-a-save Gagne. I missed my Gabbard, and as soon as that trade happened, I said, “The Red Sox are going to regret this… he’s something special”
I lied. The Red Sox no longer have anything to regret because guess who’s back? Kason Gabbard! I know that he has struggled in Texas, but he is definitely a potential late addition project. 
Tonight is the night. The first Red Sox-Yankees game of the year, the thing that I have been waiting for–craving in fact. In honor of this sacred series, my math teacher did not give homework this weekend. In honor of this series, Julia and Scott are having an epic bet. And in honor of Julia, the Red Sox will win. 

Opening Week Thoughts

After Josh Beckett’s stellar performance on Opening Day, I was excited to see what the rest of the pitching staff was going to offer. I can’t say that I was thrilled with the three games that followed Josh Beckett’s, but I can say that I’m optimistic for the rest of the season. It is obvious that the Red Sox are still coming together as a whole, and transitioning from the Spring Training atmosphere to the regular season atmosphere. But as Kevin Youkilis pointed out, I’d rather be off to a slow start than have a bad finish. “There are bright things to come”. 

I was very excited for Wednesday’s game because I knew that it was going to be a pitcher’s duel. Those always keep me on the edge of my seat, even if they are a bit nerve racking. It seems to me that Lester and Kazmir serve the same purpose on their respective teams– dominant lefties. Then again, when I was in Tampa last year I did see Kazmir pitch nine straight balls. It was quite a game until around the fifth inning where the Rays exploded for four runs. I bet Carlos Pena’s home run was pretty “deflating” as Jon Lester called it. I’m trying to remember the situation, but maybe he could have put Pena on instead of pitching to him at a 3-1 count. Then there was that really weird play where Jason Bartlett had that suicide safety squeeze or whatever you call it. Poor Lester looked so lost, but at least these looks of confusion are happening at the beginning of the season rather than the middle. 
Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez looked good that game, and Takashi Saito did alright after giving up that home run on the second pitch. As soon as he gave up that home run, I thought back to that game in 2007 where Okajima gave up a home run on his very first pitch. Frustrating for sure, but then he was completely dominant the rest of the season. Perhaps there will be a similar pattern to Saito’s performance this year. The main thing that I noted about Lester though was that he wasn’t really hitting his spots. He would shake off Varitek a lot and after the first two innings, the command just wasn’t really there. If I was a pitcher on the Red Sox, I wouldn’t shake off Varitek too much. He definitely knows what he’s doing. 
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The final game of the series offered another great matchup between Matt Garza and Dice-K Matsuzaka. I swear, Matt Garza looks and acts like a snake. His tongue is always out! Whenever Dice-K pitches, I’m always a nervous wreck. This time, it wasn’t because he walked the bases loaded, he only walked three. His command wasn’t really present and he gave up three home runs.
My incessant hunger became overwhelming as I watched this game, and I needed something to munch on. Eventually, dry roasted peanuts and sunflower seeds became available. Pretty good baseball food. The more nervous I became, the more inclined I was to munch, but for the most part I was able to restrain myself… until Justin Masterson loaded up the bases in the top of the ninth. Luckily, Jacoby Ellsbury squelched my anxiety as he made a beautiful running catch.
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The next night, the Red Sox played the Angels… the first game the Angels would be playing after the tragedy. That game, I wasn’t as compulsively rooting for the Red Sox as I usually do. I was comfortable with watching a good baseball game, and I was comfortable with the fact that the Red Sox lost. There were much bigger things going on that night than winning and losing. I did rush home though, and I was the one driving so it was a lot easier to put the pedal to the metal and run those yellow lights that may have been transitioning into red. I made myself coffee because I tend to have trouble staying awake for the West Coast games, especially in a dark room. 
It must have been hard for Jered Weaver to pitch that night. I didn’t even realize until after the game that Nick Adenhart was supposed to move in with him that Friday. Weaver had 8 strikeouts in 6.2 innings, and as he walked off the mound, he pointed to the sky. That was beyond baseball. 
Brad Penny started the next game (yesterday’s) and even though his command wasn’t totally there, he still looked pretty healthy, which made me happy. I started watching this game in the third inning because I was at my grandparents house and I didn’t really expect the game to be on TV. If Brad Penny was feeling healthy, than that’s pretty good news because he will be great to have on the rotation if he is healthy. His velocity was up there, so for a guy coming off the worst season of his career, I would say that he did pretty well.
The offense finally woke up during this game. After the very first game where almost everyone got a hit, a few people fell off the radar. Kevin Youkilis was basically on fire until yesterday (still hitting .526 though) and Jacoby was just starting to wake up and get on base. Unfortunately, Pedroia and Big Papi haven’t been producing much. Big Papi is definitely due to say the least. Jason Bay came out of the gate swinging so that has made me pretty happy. Especially for a guy who generally has a pretty crappy April. I think that Mike Lowell is starting to wake up too. And where is Jed Lowrie?? He had a monster Spring, and here I am waiting for him to transition. I hope that he and Papi have big days today. 
Jonathan Palebon gave me a heart attack in the bottom of the ninth inning. First the home run to Torii Hunter, and then the bases are loaded. My grandparents are laughing at me as I bury my face in my hands and peek through them. Howard Kendrick hit something like seven foul balls in a row. Papelbon claimed to be “giggling” but I sure wasn’t– not with the bases loaded. My mother came over wondering what was going on since I had promised her that it was one more out five minutes ago. 
“Are you bad luck?” I asked somewhat accusingly as she came over. Last time she was near the vicinity, Papelbon had walked a guy, and we were not walking in the tying run. Luckily, she wasn’t bad luck, and Papelbon miraculously got out of it. I was able to breathe again. 
Last game of the Red Sox vs Angels series coming on in a little while. Can’t wait to watch Beckett pitch again, and I kind of want to see Chris Carter in this game. 

Indescribable Feeling

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We had all waited a really long time, and I’m not sure about you guys, but in general I hate waiting. Baseball was worth the wait. Spring Training was the longest it had even been, but we waited. I didn’t realize how deprived I was. I guess the withdrawal symptoms simply subside after a while. But as soon as Fenway Park appeared on my television I let out a squeal, my eyes teared up, and a shot of adrenaline ran through me. I wish I could put what I was feeling into words, but I can’t. I think that we need to come up with a word that describes the feelings that baseball evokes in us, because I’m getting pretty frustrated without one. 

Feeling this way, it was tough watching the game on FSN rather than NESN. I didn’t get to watch the pre-game ceremonies, nor did I get to watch the reserves coming through the stands. 
I saw the starting lineup come through the stands, and I really liked the fact that they actually came through the stands. It made the baseball players seem more tangible even as baseball itself becomes less and less tangible. They all looked so happy to be there, but at the same time, they knew that they would be there since day one of Spring Training. I wanted to see the look on Chris Carter’s face, my project. He didn’t know that he was going to be there, so that must have been unreal for him. 
I had almost gone over to my friend’s house to watch the game, but I declined knowing that 
a) She doesn’t like baseball, and I didn’t want to force her to sit through a game for three hours. I can’t concentrate on converting people on Opening Day for obvious reasons.
 
b) I don’t really need my friends to see the way I am during a baseball game. They already think I’m obsessed, I don’t need them to think I’m crazy too. I was actually on the phone with one of them during Jason Bay’s first at-bat, and I was talking to them a bit absentmindedly. 
“THAT WAS NOT A STRIKE!” I suddenly called out (the ump had called it a ball, but a bit too slowly for my taste). My friend proceeded to laugh.
“Elizabeth, is anyone at your house?” she asked.
“No…” I replied
“So, you’re talking to yourself?”
“I’m talking to the umpire, Mindy!”
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When I watch baseball, I tend to be under the impression that I am the umpire, and that my calls are the right calls. I try and find ways of calling defensive interferences on the other team on routine groundouts, every Red Sox pitch is a strike. Don’t worry, when I’m watching other games, I can be completely objective. And I’m working on my “I-totally-control-every-aspect-of-the-game”. 
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Josh Beckett made me really happy [insert that non-existent word here]. I loved his first pitch strikes, and I loved his ability to work quickly through most of his innings. Ten strikeouts in seven innings. Do I have to say anything other than dominance? He helped the Red Sox show the Rays who’s boss. And speaking objectively as possible, I think that he had the best start out of all the pitchers on Opening Day. 
Overall, I was very happy with the Red Sox performance that day. Almost everyone in the lineup had a hit except for our dear leadoff man, Jacoby Ellsbury. I’m not TOO worried though. It’s not like he struck out every single time. He did get SOME wood on the ball, but it only went as far as Akinori Iwamura. I loved seeing Pedroia’s home run, but I was especially happy with Jason Varitek’s home run. As they were introducing the lineup, I loved hearing “and behind the plate, our captain, Jason Varitek”. 
After Papelbon wrapped that game up, I finally obliged and went to my friend’s house. 
“Elizabeth, you haven’t been out of your house for days!” she told me. It’s hard to handle the truth sometimes. 
“Andrea, Monday night, yesterday and today were all very sacred days!” 
“You’ve done nothing but watch baseball for the past two days! COME OVER!”. Well… the Marlins WERE leading the Nationals 8-0, so I didn’t feel that bad. 
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I did give them a fair warning at the end of February though. Like Jane, I do schedule everything around my team. And according to my friend, I’m planning my life around them. But she meant that in a good way because after all, I am planning to become a sports writer. 
So just because the Red Sox showed the Rays who’s boss yesterday, it doesn’t mean that tonight is going to be easy. I mean, we’ve got Lester vs Kazmir tonight, and Rocco will be making his first start in center field with the Red Sox. 

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! 

My One Offseason Wish Came True!!!

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Ever since Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS was over, I was thinking about it. I knew that Jason Varitek would be a free agent since the second the 2008 season began, and watching him behind the plate I knew that no other person could fill that void. Sure I was sad that the season had ended, but I was so proud of everyone on that team, I wrote an entry thanking them which you can read here. After that loss we had a day off from school, which was a relief so I could recuperate and figure out how to face all of the comments I was going to get the next day. I was watching interviews of some of the players when I came across one of Jason Varitek. A reporter asked whether or not he would be returning to the Red Sox next year and Varitek’s eyes welled up a bit, and as he choked back the tears he said, “I don’t know,”. That’s when my tears started coming: he did not know. 

You and I both know what he has done for this team, I’m not going to go into the whole stat recap, and how he has caught four no hitters or anything like that; after all, I’ve been telling you that for the past three months. 
You know that I was happy when the Red Sox went out and made all those signings and pick ups within basically two weeks. I know we needed to bolster our bullpen, and I know we needed to extend Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis’ contract. But what I still didn’t know was really bothering me! I would become very defensive about it as well, if it would ever come up at school I would put on a dead serious face and say, “He’s coming back!”. 
At some times it would get even more uncertain. I was almost shocked when he declined arbitration, even though I knew one of the motives behind offering him arbitration was just precautionary. We would need two draft picks should he sign elsewhere. It was even more uncertain after the shady Mark Teixeira dealings that were entirely Scott Boras’ fault. The Red Sox’s relationship with Boras was completely shattered, so how could Varitek sign if his agent was the devil’s spawn? 
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I am now proud to say that Jason Varitek will be returning to the Red Sox in 2009. It’s not just me either– it’s Julia, and it’s Bob, and pretty much everyone around the Blogosphere. I’m friends with Vanessa from ‘Flair for the Dramatic’ over on Facebook, and she told me that “the rivalry wouldn’t be the same without Jason Varitek”. 
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It’s not just us fans either, it’s the players as well. Ask any pitcher on our staff, and they will tell you how much Jason Varitek means to them. As far as I can tell, he takes so much stress of their shoulders because he will do the thinking, and the pitchers will do the pitching. I think they all have a great relationship with him– which is good, because after all he is their captain. 
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Told you I’d be using Sesame Street :) 
Remember that terrible chemistry test I told you about? Well, I got that back on Friday, and well, everyone did badly. I did better than I thought I would, I got a C. As soon as I got it back, chemistry wasn’t even on my mind, my sole question was: ‘Could this C stand for the Captain and Catcher of the Red Sox coming back today?’. A couple of my friends just shook their heads at me. I built a fortress around myself during classes with my backpack so I could have my cellphone out, and wait for the fateful text message. No such text message was received, but I found out the second I got home. Let’s just say I let out a scream, tears welled up in my eyes, and I jumped around my house screaming/saying: ‘He’s back! He’s really back!!!’. 
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My friend asked me to help her out on an English essay, the question being: ‘What is a hero?’. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I thought of my hero, Jason Varitek and started describing to her some of his traits, the first one being: ‘A hero is someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty,’. Doesn’t that sound like Varitek to you? 
Tomorrow, I’m going to a Superbowl Party, but I don’t even like football that much, like I’ve said before, baseball is my one and only. So while everyone else is thinking about the superbowl tomorrow, I’ll be celebrating the return of Jason Varitek. 
Happy, you were right!! You called it all season long!! I’m sending you all virtual brownies! 

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 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

Even the players want Varitek back!

It appalls me that some Red Sox fans don’t want Jason Varitek back. Perhaps they are those lowly bandwagon fans who only look at the statistics and don’t realize that there are certain players whose impact goes much beyond the box score. 

It goes beyond hardcore fans who want Jason Varitek back on the Red Sox. Even fans of opposing teams know that Jason Varitek belongs on the Red Sox. I have said before how much of an impact Jason Varitek is on the pitchers, and I’m not just making that up. 
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Upon signing with the Red Sox, Jonathan Papelbon said, “There are certain players in Major League Baseball that you take a gamble on, whether it’s age or whether it’s money… Varitek is, no question about it, in that category… Whether it’s a money issue, or whether it’s an age issue, there’s not question in my mind, you make a gamble with a person like that. It’s that simple to me.”
Papelbon has spent his entire career with the Red Sox, so he has only known one catcher, Jason Varitek. 
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If that’s not enough for you, Curt Schilling, who joined Boston in 2004, had some stuff to say. Curt has been around a little bit longer than Papelbon, so he’s definitely speaking some words of wisdom. Schilling speculated that the Sox have invested roughly $45 million dollars in its pitching staff for next year and “if your catcher doesn’t work with your pitching staff, it’s not one player that has a down year, an off season,  it’s potentially the entire staff”. He then said that he’s “very comfortable in saying that there is very little chance that every guy on that staff won’t be better if he’s back next year. He’s the kind of guy that makes you as good as you can be in each start”. 
The most significant quote though was, “Jason knows us as good, if not better, than we know ourselves” 
I don’t remember the exact quote, but I do remember Kevin Youkilis saying that it would be a huge blow not to see Varitek back at Spring Training. 
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It seems like Theo and the front office have finally listened to the pleas of fans, and the pleas of the players themselves. As we know a contract offer has [finally] been made. That took a while after the whole arbitration mistake. Varitek wants two years, and he could finally be getting his wish. The contract could guarantee two years, or Varitek could attain two years by having a certain number of at-bats. It’s like those incentive contracts that we gave John Smoltz and Brad Penny. Those are the best type of contracts. Instead of just throwing the money at people and potentially getting disappointed (like the Dodgers and Andruw Jones), that money should certainly be attainable, but only by certain means. 
Hopefully Varitek would be willing to accept a lower payroll. His hopes for something around $10 million dollars were diminished upon declining arbitration. I really find it interesting that apparently he didn’t know that by declining arbitration that the receiving teams would have to relinquish two draft picks. Does that sound like the captain of the Red Sox? Are players really that blind to the business side of baseball.
I blame Scott Boras. I have no warrant for that, but I blame him. 
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Another player announced his retirement. This time it was Sean Casey. Great, our new team just lost it’s first baseman (just kidding). 
He only played 12 major league seasons, the majority of which he spent with the Reds. This doesn’t mean he’s done with baseball by any means. He signed on for some kind of job with the MLB Network. Could he be another analyst? I could definitely see him up there. 
Did you realize that with the abundance of unsigned free agents out there that you could form a pretty good team? If you didn’t see the entry, all you have to do is scroll down. If you could name it, what would you name it, and which city would it be in? 
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I found out yesterday that my friend’s Dad used to be a partner in owning the Savannah Sandgnats. Unfortunately, she did not realize the significance in owning an autographed John Smoltz ball (I’m the one with the Jacoby picture in the back),or sitting on his lap for that matter, or owning a signed World Series ball. Regardless, her father has agreed to let me interview him for this blog.
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So, if you could ask a former minor league baseball owner any question(s), what would you ask?

An Ode to the Unsigned

It’s already January 24, and there are still so many un-signed free agents out there. The market has been so terrible this year, that these players are going to have to settle for less than they’re worth. I’d be willing to bet that all of Scott Boras’ clients regret signing with him. The fact that a lot of them aren’t signed yet is his fault. As an agent, he should be able to see that accepting arbitration is their best bet! 

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Orlando Cabrera hasn’t signed anywhere and he’s an above average shortstop. His batting average has never been astounding but he’s a pretty good fielder! 
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Sean Casey, the winner of the “Good Guy Award” hasn’t been signed either. He’d be a great presence to have in the clubhouse and would bring some handy veteran experience. If no one signs him, he plans on retiring. 
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Joe Crede hasn’t signed anywhere yet either, but I’m pretty sure that Jen wants him back. After all, he has played his entire career with the Chicago White Sox.
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Adam Dunn has yet to sign anywhere, and if people are so concerned with strikeouts, then why is Ryan Howard asking for $18 million in arbitration? I understand that Ryan Howard is more powerful, but Adam Dunn could be a great DH for someone who is lacking in the power department.
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Nomar Garciaparra (uh oh, call Tommy, I need support!!!) has not signed anywhere either. I know he has injuries but the Indians didn’t hesitate to sign Carl Pavano. The Red Sox signed Rocco Baldelli and he’s had more of an injury history than Nomar. It looks like the Phillies are interested in him though. (We’re sorry Nomah!!!). 
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No one has signed Ken Griffey Jr. and that guy is incredible. If you’ve seen MLB Network’s Baseball Seasons 1995, then you know what I mean. I know he’s getting old but, it’s Ken Griffey Jr.!!! I think it’d be great if he ended his career with Seattle. 
 

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Pedro Martinez hasn’t signed with anyone, and I know his talent has been dwindling away, but he could be one of those low risk high reward pickups for a team. Plus he had arguably one of the best seasons ever in 1999. 
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Kevin Millar (calling Tommy again) is also unsigned. Who doesn’t want this guy in their clubhouse? I would’ve taken him over Kotsay just so he and Pedroia could argue over 15. 
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Andy Petite hasn’t signed anywhere yet. I know he didn’t have his best season with the Yankees but it’s not like he’s a terrible pitcher. Not that I want him on the Red Sox by any means…
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Manny Ramirez–Manny frikin Ramirez hasn’t signed with anyone yet! The future HOF star, the most feared right handed hitter in the game. It’s his own fault though, knowing Manny, no one is going to want to offer him four years. He’s just going to have to accept lower than what he wants like everyone else. You may be good Manny, but you’re not God’s gift to the baseball world. 
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Ivan Rodriguez hasn’t signed anywhere! Has he even received an offer? I think not. I know he’s not the guy that he used to be, but he’s still a great catcher. He could be facing the fate of signing a minor league deal. A minor league deal!!! That’s outrageous. 
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Curt Schilling hasn’t signed anywhere, but I really think that he should retire. He’s definitely not going to be the same pitcher he used to be, and I don’t know if anyone is going to want to sign him so he can pitch half of a season. He’s all for signing Jason Varitek though. *Hint, hint Theo*
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It really surprises me that no one has signed Ben Sheets yet. If the Yankees pursued AJ Burnett without hesitation, then I don’t see why Ben Sheets is such a big deal. 
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If you didn’t know already, Jason Varitek hasn’t signed yet. There’s an offer on the table for this. I have some advice for him on this one: DO NOT CONSULT SCOTT BORAS. Scott Boras is a life ruiner, it’s as simple as that. 

Future Blog of the Red Sox Jumps to Number 13!

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I think I’m going to make a habit of choosing pictures of Sesame Street characters for my number pictures.

This week was quite the week for me if you know what I mean. I didn’t realize how much it had tired me out, I took a four hour nap when I got home! 

The best part of this week though, and the highlight of most of my days actually, is this blogging community. The encouragement I get from you guys is absolutely incredible. You guys really think I can do it! I get some support from my friends who I’ve known for at least five years, but getting all this unconditional support and faith from you guys– some of whom I’ve only known for a month, it really shows the kind of community that we’ve built here. 
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Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to read about the chemistry massacre I went through today (really, I won’t be offended). Not that I want to become a professional athlete, but chemistry just isn’t necessary to become a writer. It was the most ridiculous test that I’ve ever taken. One of the smartest girls in my class took her unfinished test to our teacher, and said: “I can’t do this, I have no idea what I’m doing.”. I made myself believe that I knew what I was doing, but in reality, I had never seen some of the stuff that was on this test. I had done so well on the quizzes and homework, that it was almost hysterical that I had no idea what I was doing. When the bell rang to end class, no one else had left. Everyone at the same time said, “I still have three [workout] problems left!!,” After a while, our teacher said,
“You guys have to leave, it’s unfair to the other students”
It was then that I made the mistake of opening my big mouth by saying, “This test is unfair,”. A mistake on my part admittedly, but to prove to you the legality of that statement, everyone immediately agreed. 
After that, all I wanted to do was to go home and watch baseball. I didn’t want to think about anything else, or deal with anything else. I wanted to come home and just write. 
Nevertheless, there were two really bright spots in the past two days. The Future Blog of the Red Sox came in at lucky number 13 in the latest leaders list! Did you see that Bigpapi72 jumped to number eight?? Plus, Tommy was kind enough to put me in his Timeout at the plate. If you haven’t checked out Tommy’s blog yet, you have to see the kind of journey he’s about to take. It’s the definition of inspirational
Unfortunately, no substantially good Red Sox players have ever worn thirteen so it’s kind of a tough dedication. It’s not like number nineteen where I had an abundance to choose from (Fred Lynn and Josh Beckett). I was hoping for at least number fifteen so I could dedicate the entry to Kevin Millar and Dustin Pedroia, but hey, I don’t mind scooting up two extra places. That makes me even happier. 
But, since they are TWO players, and I moved up TWO extra spaces, I feel the right to dedicate fifteen to them. 
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Kevin Millar is the man who created the “Cowboy Up” rally cry. He was also the one to name the 2004 team the “idiots” and was always known for trying to keep loose spirits within the clubhouse. In fact, he tried to get the team to take a shot of whiskey before Game 7 of the ’04 ALCS (I believe) to loosen everyone up. He was definitely the jokester of the clubhouse, and is still loved and missed dearly by the clubhouse and the fans. In ’07 he came back to Fenway to throw out the first pitch and say the starting lineup. He has also been kind enough to lend his number, 15, to Dustin Pedroia. He made two appearances on the MLB Network in a suit, and I can definitely see him on that panel of analysts someday. 
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We have all heard about the iconic Dustin Pedroia and the many awards that he has accumulated over his first two years in Major League Baseball. The thing about the ‘Destroya’ is that he goes beyond the statistics. He has now established himself as the clubhouse jokester. He’s the one always hyping everyone up, the one cracking all the jokes He feigns cockiness but is probably one of the most approachable guys in baseball. He loves getting his uniform dirty, as he will slide unnecessarily into bases. He’s not really afraid of anyone; before game 5 of the ’07 ALCS he said, “I’m swinging the bat good, I don’t care what anybody says!”. I’m a huge fan of Pedroia, and I’m glad that he is happy in Boston. 
Apparently, the Red Sox have an offer on the table for Jason Varitek. He already decline arbitration so if he wants to stay with the Red Sox, as he has stated, this is the offer to take because it doesn’t look like he’s going to get one from anyone else. 
Thank you guys again!!
-Elizabeth
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