Results tagged ‘ Rocco Baldelli ’

Hindsight (Biases)

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

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

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. 

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! 

Baseball is Spoken Here

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Saturday was all about baseball for me, but in two very different atmospheres. The first, was at Spring Training, a very intimate environment. It doesn’t really matter, but the minor leaguers are trying to impress, and the major leaguers are working on their stuff. In fact, the only regular starter from the Red Sox that played was Jed Lowrie. Then at night, there was the World Baseball Classic, and that was an experience different from anything I’ve ever felt before. 

In the morning, I was forced to be a “filler” at a debate tournament– a complete waste of my time! I was able to get out by 11 though, so I was off to Fort Lauderdale stadium. I arrived there around 12:30 so I had a half an hour to get autographs. 
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The first came from Josh Reddick, and I’m pretty sure I was the only one there who knew his name. ‘JOSH!’ I yelled. I’ve been pretty impressed with him throughout Spring Training. The last time I was at a Spring Training game, I noted that Reddick needed more confidence. I think that has come. 
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Then it was Lars Anderson. I had his autograph from before, but how could I just let an opportunity pass? So I took off my hat, and when he pointed to me, I threw it at him. Lars and I definitely have a connection seeing that I have his autograph twice. 
The last autograph of that day came from Rocco Baldelli. Rays Renegade was right, Rocco does sign for the ladies :). One of my foul balls is all filled up– by minor league or bench players! It’s going to be pretty cool when I see them in the Majors so I can say: ‘Hey, I got his autograph before anyone knew who he was!’. That has already happened with Jed Lowrie. 
So what are my impressions for this Spring Training game? 
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Josh Reddick had a beautiful lead off double, and he had a great attempt at a bunt. It literally rolled perfectly down the third base line before rolling foul after he had reached first base. When a home run was given up by Adam Mills, (I’ll get to him later) Reddick wasn’t able to get it, but he climbed the wall pretty high!
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Jed Lowrie looked pretty good as he had a double and looked pretty solid defensively. Rocco Baldelli was the designated hitter and he has a pretty big swing, which later produced a nice double down the third base line and a hit through the gap to tie the game at one point. 
Chris Carter didn’t have his best day ever, but that was simply because he was swinging a bit too early at bad pitches. Josh Bard continues to make a good run for the backup catcher as he got a couple of nice hits and did well behind the plate. 
Jeff Bailey hit a triple, and had some great hustle to get there, and Nick Green looked pretty nice defensively. Mark Wagner, also competing for the backup catcher job had a great throw to get the runner out at second. 
Pitching
Besides giving up a two run homer, Adam Mills looked pretty good, I would love to see more of him. Devern Hansack followed him and gave up two home runs in his outing, and needs to work on his pickoff attempts, or just avoid them. 
Marcus McBeth had what was probably his best outing of the Spring. He didn’t even give up any home runs! He throws pretty hard, has nice placement, and struck out two. He was followed by Hunter Jones who gave up a home run, but also has nice placement and form. 
Watching Wes Littleton warm up is very entertaining. He throws from the side but has beautiful command, and spots the ball well. Despite this, he is unable to execute on the mound. 
The Sox tied up the game in the top of the ninth, but Dustin Richardson gave up a walk-off home run to end the game. I loved seeing the minor leaguers play, it was like a ‘Projects Game’. 
World Baseball Classic 
There was a beautiful juxtaposition between Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic. I had assumed that there would be one, but to actually be there was absolutely incredible. It evoked a sense of patriotism that I had never felt before. 
There were definitely more Puerto Rican fans than there were American, which was so cool because it made me realize that this is all about national pride! Before the game, as we stood to listen to each country’s respective national anthem, it made me feel really proud to be an American, it gave it a new meaning. It was the same version that Ken Burns opened his ‘Baseball’ series with. 
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The stadium erupted when the rosters were announced, especially for Puerto Rico– it was absolutely deafening. Then, as five people walked out carrying five different flags, it made me realize that I really had never been a part of something like this. 
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It was truly a playoff atmosphere, it felt I was out of the Olympics. And you know how cool it is to see all those flashes going off throughout the stands? Well, it was pretty cool to be one of those flashes. 
The game itself though, w
as a bit disappointing to say the least. After all, the United States did get mercy ruled. If you were watching the game (or even listening to it), you knew that Jake Peavy didn’t have his stuff. I have to say though, if it’s really different from me going from Spring Training to the WBC, I can’t imagine how it is for him. 
Velazquez looked great though, and so did Ivan Rodriguez. He is probably the most impressive player of the Classic thus far. The fact that he does not have a job yet is still “flabbergasting” to me (I felt I just had to use that word). 
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The coolest part though for me, was realizing how baseball is a universal language. Baseball is spoken here. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are from– we all know that after four balls you get walked, and after three strikes, you’re out. Everyone knows what a home run is, and everybody cheers at the same time. It is incredible what baseball does–it brings us together.
Photo Credit: me
-Elizabeth 

Instead of Dwelling, let’s evaluate

The Red Sox lost their game to the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday (2/26) 3-2, and they lost today’s game to the Rays 10-4. Their record may be 0-3, but instead of dwelling on the losses, at this point, it’s probably better to analyze why the Red Sox lost. 

Pittsburgh: 
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Jon Lester made the start, and in his two innings he gave up two hits, and struck out one and gave up no runs. The important thing to know about Lester right now, is that he’s working on a new pitch to add to his “arsenal”– a changeup! As a former softball pitcher, I can tell you that it’s hard enough to pitch: to find the spots, and stay in the strikezone is hard! But I can’t imagine trying to have a changeup. But if Lester can master it, or at least get a good grip on it, it would definitely benefit him in the long run, as Terry Francona pointed out. The reason that Lester didn’t do this last year was because he was still trying to find his fastball command, and that’s important as we all know. 
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Takashi Saito, one of the Red Sox acquisitions of the offseason pitched one inning in which he gave up one hit and struck out two. That’s impressive for a guy just coming off surgery. Hideki Okajima and Wes Littleton (acquired from Texas) threw a combined two innings of perfect relief, each striking out one. 
These next three guys I have admittedly never heard of, but tomorrow (when I get my program at the game) I will be writing notes everywhere! Anyway, “Mills” and “James” did fine, not striking out anyone, but not giving up hits either. It was merely “Lentz” who gave up three runs, in the top of the ninth. 
This is what Spring Training is for. It is the time for pitchers to go out and work on their pitches, without having to worry, and to give a chance to the minor leaguers, to have a look at the future. The record itself doesn’t matter, but in a sense the statistics do. I don’t know if that makes sense. 
At the plate, my almost official project, Jeff Bailey, batted in the two runs that the Red Sox scored on a two run single (although it may have been a double, not sure). If he looks good tomorrow when I’m there, I will officially announce my first project. Nick Green and “Ambres” also got hits. 
Tampa Bay
During eighth period, I demanded my friend’s iPhone to check the score. My face dropped when I realized the score was 10-0 and I started asking rhetorical questions to my friends. ‘Why is this happening?’ I moaned. So instead of why, I should have asked what. What was happening? 
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Michael Bowden, that pitching prospect of ours, gave up four earned runs in 1.2 innings. I’m wondering what exactly happened to him. I would now like to interview him. Maybe all that talk about him went to his head, and he “outthought himself” as I said a long time ago when I was analyzing Lester’s shortcomings in Game 3 (I think) of the ALCS. I’m beyond willing to give Bowden a second chance, in fact, let him pitch tomorrow! I want to see him!!! He needs to focus on placing his pitches, and having command of them. He may have been thinking about the future, being on the Red Sox, making the team. That’s scary. We’ll see how it goes next time. Emily, please help him! 
It did not help much that “Gonzalez” gave up another five earned runs, and the two errors didn’t help much either. In two innings, Hansack struck out four, which was very impressive, and Green had one perfect inning without any strikeouts. Charlie Zink gave up the other two runs. You may remember him from that explosive game against Texas– the one where the Red Sox scored 10 runs in the first inning (Big Papi hit two home runs). I’m pretty sure we ended up winning, but regardless, Zink was pitching. He gave up ten runs in the first inning to the Rangers too! I am almost positive that Zink is a knuckle ball pitcher. 
At the plate, Baldelli got an RBI against his former team, as did Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jed Lowrie. Nice to see Jacoby get a hit, and I hope that he plays tomorrow. 
As you guys know, I will be going to Fort Myers tomorrow. I’m heading out at 8:30 to get to the ballpark at 11 am for batting practice. I would love to get some autographs, and I have so much that I want to say to each and every player. I have tickets for the game against Northeastern University at 1:05, which is where our fellow blogger, Julia, went. And I recently got tickets to the 7:05 game against Cincinnati, which Clay Buchholz will start. 
It would make me really happy if the Red Sox got their first win tomorrow :). It would make me even happier if I got an autograph. And I will die of happiness if something even better than that happens. Do they need me to do play-by-play?? I’ll be carrying a legal pad around, writing down everything that I need. 
You guys can expect full game reports and analyses as well as scouting reports on Sunday. I’ll also share my pictures with anyone who wants them! Just send me an e-mail here, and I’ll get them right to you. 
-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

My Prime 9 Answers to the Red Sox’s Spring Questions

Life after Varitek re-signed has been so much easier. I have slept better the past two days, I am not as testy, and I got to tell everyone how happy I was that he re-signed. I guess it was a little obvious that I wanted him back. 

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In my American Literature class, we are reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m sure that most of you have read this great American classic, and you can attest to how well written and intriguing it is. As I was reading through chapter four, we are introduced to Meyer Wolfsheim, a character who was inspired by Arnold Rothstein, the man who fixed the 1919 World Series. As we were discussing it in English today, my teacher said,
“Alright, we are introduced to a new character in this chapter, who is it?”
Immediately, I jumped on the opportunity to maybe– MAYBE get some baseball into this. 
“We are introduced to Meyer Wolfsheim, he’s a gambler– the guy who fixed the 1919 World Series–”
“Yes, would you care to explain that”
Ah, my one track mind was appeased! You all know the story of the 1919 World Series, I’m sure Jen can tell it best, and she will also endorse Shoeless Joe’s innocence. We even went on to the famous quote: “Say it ain’t so Joe,”. Too bad it was so. This is also where Ken Burns got the title for his episode, “The Faith of Fifty Million People”.
This wasn’t the only time that the 1919 World Series came up today. In my AP American History class, we just started learning about the 20′s. So of course I got the snide comment:
“Well, you know we won’t be seeing the RED SOX in this decade, they last won the World Series in 1919…”
1919?? I think we’re a year off here. 
“Actually, the Cincinatti Red Stockings won the World Series in 1919, it was the year of the infamous Black Sox Scandal? Yeah, the Red Sox won the World Series in 1918″
I love finding baseball innuendos wherever I possibly can. I’m thinking that it’s called ‘itching for baseball syndrome’ but I’m not really sure. 
As I logged onto the Red Sox website, as I always do as soon as I get home, I noticed the latest article Spring to Bring Nine Answers for Sox. Instead of reading through the article and then reporting the same thing, I decided to just look at the bold print, and offer my analysis on each subject. It’s like my own little Prime 9. I fully credit Ian Browne with the ideas and witty titles, but this is just my personal take. I have not read this article. 
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Big Papi tries to get his groove back
I think we all remember the… painful struggles that Big Papi went through the entire season last year. Especially the prolonged slump at the beginning of the year, which was shattered in a grand slam which I called against the Texas Rangers. It’s been known that he has bad wrists, and the doctor’s diagnosis was merely rest. There are 162 games in baseball, and one day off here and there simply won’t cut it. I think that since he rested it this entire offseason, that he has a great chance of getting his “groove” back for the 2009 season. Plus, he’ll get some extra practice in the World Baseball Classic. 
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Lugo and Lowrie battle it out at short stop
I knew that this was bound to happen as soon as Lowrie came up to fill Lugo’s void, which he happened to do very well. In fact, I knew he’d be good when I scouted him out at Spring Training last year. Lugo struggled at the plate, he struggled defensively… okay, he just struggled. When Lowrie came up on the other hand, he was great defensively, and even though his numbers fell towards the end, he DID have that walk off hit for the ALDS. He’s a bit better in the clutch than Lugo, but not by that much. I still think we need to give Lugo the benefit of the doubt, but I’d hate to see Lowrie’s efforts go to waste. 
Varitek’s Offense
I don’t need to say much about this. I’ve told you about his offensive stats, but I don’t think I mentioned much that he had been going through a somewhat nasty divorce throughout the year. Think back to 2007, specifically, JD Drew. Apparently, his son had some medical issues throughout the year, and that obviously hindered his offensive capabilities. So perhaps now that this divorce has settled down, Varitek might have a similar turn around year to JD Drew. It’s hard not to let your personal life interfere with your performance. It’s unavoidable, we’re all humans. 
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Bard-Wakefield back together again
Bard was absolutely fine in Spring Training 2006. In fact, everyone had him set to catch Wakefield for the year, he had battled it out and he won. Before the season started though, it seemed like he outthought himself a bit. If he could catch Wakefield before, there is no reason that he can’t catch him again. 
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Matsuzaka’s temporary exodus (I thought Ian’s title for this was clever)
I’m assuming this means journey to the World Baseball classic (told you I didn’t read it). The thing about Dice-K was that for a lot of his starts, he only went five or six innings. With our bullpen this year, that is a [unadvised] possibility. We want Dice-K to have longevity, and hopefully, the World Baseball Classic won’t tire him out before the season. There is no way we could prevent him from playing with Japan, after all, he is a superstar. 
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Baldelli’s Energy Level
Now that he has been re-diagnosed with “channelopathy”, which is treatable, I think it is a bit more clear. He has even admitted that he is not an everyday player, but we all know that when he does play, he plays well. Having a player like Baldelli coming off the bench is great. 
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Ellsbury’s Consistency
When Jacoby Ellsbury came up from Triple AAA Pawtucket in 2007, everyone was wowed by him. The way he hit in the clutch was incredible for an inexperienced player like himself. The problem was, a lot of people expected him to continue to play like that which is completely unrealistic. I think that now that he has had a year to adjust to the big leagues, that he will really improve. He’s a .285 average guy for me. He’s a catalyst for the rest of the offense– if he gets on base, he will steal, and then runs will happen. If he has a good year in 2009, I can see the Red Sox going long term with him. 
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Sorting out the bullpen
Don’t they say that you can never have enough pitching? The Red Sox now have an abundance of pitchers, which they lacked last year. We have an incredible bullpen, probably one of the best in the majors. The bullpen is so overlooked sometimes, everyone always talks about the hitters and the starters, but the bullpen really matters! We could trade for more catching depth, which is what we need. Plus, more members of the bullpen band! 
-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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