Results tagged ‘ Takashi Saito ’

Skeptics and True Believers

Skepticism and analysis surround every team as the second week of the season comes to an end. I guess I’m here to join the party–mainly for analysis, not for skepticism. It’s easy to analyze halfway through the season, but only two weeks into the season seems a little rash, doesn’t it? Is it appropriate to analyze, criticize, and skepticize (yes, made up word) already? I don’t know the answer, but I think it’s appropriate to offer some analysis because the Red Sox have made some easily preventable mistakes that have led to run scoring. And even though it’s early on, there are some serious, and unfortunately controversial issues that need to be addressed. It may be the beginning of the season, but every game counts. These games count as much as they do in September. Each game is of vital importance as each team tries to avoid the obstacles on the road to the postseason. I don’t agree with those who say, “It’s the beginning of the season, they’re just adjusting.” That’s what Spring Training is for. Ideally, teams should work out their kinks during Spring Training. Inevitably, obstacles will arise during the regular season, so I’m here to try and work those out. 

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Let’s tackle the obvious topic first: David Ortiz. I think he has felt under pressure to perform since the first game of the season. Because of the dismal numbers he put up last season, all reporters ever asked him about during the Spring was his rebound. It is easy to tell how insecure about this situation he is. He snapped at reporters the second day of the season; he got ejected from a game for arguing about a strike; and it is easy to spot the frustrated grimace on his face each time he strikes out. I don’t blame him for feeling pressure, but I’m surprised about how much it’s getting to him. 
I won’t ignore the few hits that he has gotten: some have been solid contact, but others were pure luck. He even picked up the golden sombrero one game where he struck out four times: that’s the problem. He strikes out, and for the most time, he strikes out looking. I’m no hitting guru, so I’m not here to talk mechanics. The fact of the matter is that having him in our lineup is ineffective, and at times, detrimental. So why does Terry Francona put him in the lineup day after day? I think that part of it comes from seniority. Maybe Terry Francona thinks that maybe Big Papi is just going to get out of his funk because of what he has done in the past. But this is the third year in a row that this has been going on. As much as it pains me to say this, he is done. 
I’m sure it will be tough to sit him, but it is necessary. It is important to put the best lineup out there, and putting Big Papi in there does not get the job done. I like the idea of platooning Mike Lowell and Jeremy Hermida at that spot. Hermida has proved himself to be a fantastic pickup coming off the bench for Jacoby Ellsbury while he is injured. I can see him hitting a lot of doubles off the Green Monster. 
Issue number two: The Bullpen. 

Last year, the bullpen was considered our strongest asset. This year, it has been one of the weakest. I don’t think that the loss of Takashi Saito or Billy Wagner really affects that; however, the loss of Justin Masterson does. I’m sure you all know exactly what I’m going to say. Bring up Michael Bowden! We need a long-term middle relief pitcher; especially if our starters are done after the fifth inning because they throw 30 pitches in an inning or two. The Red Sox obviously expect to use him as a middle reliever, so what I don’t understand is why they’re still treating him as a starter in Pawtucket. I think that for a pitcher to be completely effective, they have to know their role (no matter how good they are). Just look how good Justin Masterson is doing with Cleveland now that they have explicitly deemed him a starter. I have no doubt that Bowden has the ability to flourish in either role, but he will be more effective once they tell him what his role actually is so that he doesn’t have to keep switching. 
Ramon Ramirez has been struggling so far, so I really hope that he finds his stuff because he was the unsung hero of last year. Manny Delcarmen still struggles to be consistent, but he has the ability to go multiple innings, which is important. I prefer him over Scott Atchinson anyway. I think that Robert Manuel, now pitching in Pawtucket, could be really effective in the bullpen if he was given a chance.
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I know Daniel Bard is very good, but the Red Sox need to use him a little more sparingly. The poor guy has been used so much already this season. He has a wicked slider, but I’d like to see him add a changeup to his repertoire because the radar gun is almost always 90 mph or above, and having that speed constantly will almost surely lead to giving up more home runs. 
My final issue with the bullpen includes Victor Martinez as well. When it comes to Jonathan Papelbon, all he ever calls are fastballs. Papelbon also has a slider and a changeup in his arsenal, so I think that it’s important that he incorporates those as well to avoid meltdowns. I’m sure you all remember his most infamous blown save, and all Victor Martinez called was fastball, after, fastball, after fastball. 
Issue Number 3: Throwing people out
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Neither Victor Martinez nor Jason Varitek have the ability to throw runners out, and every team knows it. Victor obviously needs to work on his mechanics considering all of his throws are high and to the right. This could create a serious problem. First of all, because the runners can steal so easily, the possibility of inning ending double plays are eliminated, which means that our pitchers will have to work longer, and that we might have to use our bullpen earlier. 
Also, pitching from the stretch is a tough thing for lots of pitchers. I especially noticed that with Clay Buchholz during the Spring, and even he has admitted that it’s something he needs to work on. The pitchers obviously don’t want the runners to steal, so they might feel added pressure to get the ball to the plate quicker. This situation could have disastrous consequences. It is important that the pitchers don’t think about anything but hitting their spots. 
If this becomes a serious problem, the Red Sox do have some catching talent in the minors (with arms) in both Mark Wagner and Luis Exposito. Luis is definitely someone to get excited about, but he still needs some seasoning. Mark Wagner, on the other hand, is in Pawtucket, and I think he is ready to go. 
Issue Number 4: Leaving runners on
Some bats have been quiet (Big Papi), some have been loud (Dustin Pedroia), but the Red Sox have left so many runners on, but I think there is an easy solution that Terry Francona hasn’t seen yet because he is an American League manager: small ball. 
Because the Red Sox focused on improving defense during the offseason, they aren’t full of the 30-40 HR power bats. However, that’s not to say that they aren’t offensively sophisticated. They have the ability to score a lot of runs this season, but it won’t come from lots of long balls. Rarely, if ever, do you see the Red Sox lay down a solid bunt. Perhaps the Red Sox wouldn’t leave as many runners on if they started sacrificially advancing runners more often. I LOVE this kind of baseball; I find it to be the most exciting, and I think that it is a method that the Red Sox must begin to incorporate. 
Those are the biggest issues that I see so far. The defense hasn’t been as spotless as expected, but I think that these acquisitions will pay off in the long run (despite some costly errors early on). Perhaps they’re still adjusting the the eccentricities of Fenway. It’s the big errors that stand out, not the rest of the times that they make the often spectacular play. The last issue I notice (though it hasn’t made much of a signifiant impact) is that sometimes, Adrian Beltre simply swings at terrible pitches. He has been hitting really well thus far though, so I’m not complaining yet. 
Amidst all of my criticisms and analyses, I do have some praise (some of which I have already mentioned): 
-Dustin Pedroia is off to a monstrous start. Contrary to popular belief, he can hit the high inside fastball! 
-Jeremy Hermida has been an extremely valuable asset off the bench. I think he will flourish in Fenway Park. 
-Daniel Bard has been a workhorse. 
-Josh Beckett’s 75 mph curveball his a thing of beauty. I’m so glad we signed him to a 4 year deal. 
-Jacoby Ellsbury was really catching on fire before that unfortunate collision between him and Beltre that has sidelined him since. I really hope that he heals soon, because I really like having him in the leadoff spot. 
I may be skeptical, but I’m a true believer in this Red Sox squad. 
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One more thing before I settle down to watch the final game of what has been a frustrating series against the Rays so far. Ubaldo Jimenez threw the first no-hitter of the 2010 MLB season, and the first in Rockies history. Thanks to the twittersphere, I was clued in, and I was able to watch the final three outs of the bottom of the ninth inning. Of course, MLBTV froze up right as Brian McCann hit the ball to second, but I heard it, and that’s just as special. He has been compared to Pedro Martinez, and considering the velocity he had on his fastball so late into the game (and after so many pitches), I have no doubt. As I watched the bottom of the ninth inning, I could feel my heart beating quicker with each out, and my hands shaking  more and more before each pitch was thrown. 
April 17th was an incredible day to be a baseball fan. Tim Lincecum had three hits and three RBIs. The Pirates walked off for the second game in a row thanks to Garrett Jones. The Mets vs Cardinals game went into the 20th inning. The Mets scored both of their runs on sacrifice flies. And Ubaldo Jimenez stunned the Braves lineup. This is what we live for 

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. 

2009 Red Sox Pitching Preview

I guess I could just give you guys the same predictions that everyone else has… but I don’t really want to do that. I’m going to break down each position, and briefly look at every player. Tonight, I want to look at pitching. I’ll tell you guys how I think their 2009 season will be, and what they will need to do to either come over the 2008 woes, or maintain their 2008 heights. 

Starting Pitching: This year, the Red Sox have some familiar faces in the first four slots for the rotation. The only thing that is different is their fifth spot– they didn’t just hand it over to Clay Buchholz like they did last year (not that they had much of a choice). In fact, despite an impressive spring, Clay won’t even be starting the season with the Red Sox! During the offseason, the Red Sox picked up Brad Penny and John Smoltz. Sure Brad Penny is no CC Sabbathia, but he can sure matchup with AJ Burnett pretty well. And John Smoltz may not be in the prime of his career, but I think that he has some words of wisdom that he can pass down to the guys. Justin Masterson could have filled the fifth starting spot very nicely, but I’ll tell you guys why I think he’ll work out very nicely in the bullpen. 
Josh Beckett: We all know that Beckett has the stuff that can put him in the realm of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, but whenever he is injured, he spends so much time recovering, that he isn’t really that dominant. Luckily, Beckett will be starting the season with the Red Sox, and Opening Day for that matter. In 2007 he went 20-7, and in 2008 he went 12-10. So what happened? I agree with the people who have said that he was catching up to himself that entire year. He got injured during Spring Training so he didn’t have a lot of time to get into his rhythm. When he was ready to return, he was thrown right out into a high pressure atmosphere. Guys need Spring Training… just look at Jake Peavy! 
Jon Lester: Lester’s comeback from cancer story is really nice and inspiring and all, but honestly, it’s time to get over it, and he thinks so too. He has said that he wants to be known as a pitcher, not the kid that came back from cancer. Nonetheless, every time he pitches I’m sure we’ll be hearing the story. Anyway, we saw what this guy could do in 2008, his stuff is lethal. Not to mention the fact that he has added a changeup to his arsenal, and oh yeah his performance in the playoffs. There are two things that he needs to remember, and that we need to remember about him.
1. He cannot get overconfident with himself. In the ALCS, everyone had penciled him in for a win because of his performance in the ALDS. I think we let ourselves get a little to confident, and I think he got a little too confident. He needs to focus on executing his pitches, not the fact that statistically, he will probably win this game.
2. He is still really young, so he is still growing. We can’t expect him to be perfect. He’s going to go through some ups and downs. Luckily, he has got Jason Varitek behind the plate, and John Smoltz for some guidance. 
Daisuke Matsuzaka: Dice-K obviously performed really well last year: going 18-3 with an ERA under 3.00. The thing is, he wouldn’t usually go that deep. And the reason that he wouldn’t go that deep: walks. I know that he has a remarkable ability to get out of jams (that he creates with his walks), but I would much rather him try to impress me by going into the seventh inning more often. When he would only go five innings last year, that would put extra stress on our not so deep bullpen. This year, if he can go a bit deeper, and put not so much stress on our much deeper bullpen… well, wouldn’t that be a lot better? 
Tim Wakefield: Everything is better at 62 mph right? Well, that is until the batters time down the knuckle ball and start hitting it all over the place. The good thing about Wakefield is that he can go pretty deep into games. The uncertain part is that he is either on or off… there is very little middle ground. Some nights he’ll have great command, and other nights it’s just not there. Still, it is really fun to watch Wakefield baffle hitters with that knuckleball. 
Brad Penny: The fact that he was 6-9 last year definitely reduced his free agent worth. On the other hand, in 2007 he went 16-4. AJ Burnett on the other hand was one of the must valuable free agents out there. Yet if you compare their numbers, I’d consider them equals. 
John Smoltz: I honestly am not really sure as to how John Smoltz’s numbers will be this season. His role is obviously quite similar to what Curt Schilling’s was supposed to be last season. So where the heck is he going to fit into the rotation when he returns in June? Good question, because I have the same one. I don’t think that the Red Sox would put him or Brad Penny in the bullpen because they could both serve very effectively as starters. So could the Red Sox have a six man rotation? This could work out very well when various injuries start happening throughout the season. 
Bullpen: Last year, the bullpen tended to be a problem for the Red Sox. This year, it could be what makes the difference in October. With some very nice additions this bullpen could be considered one of the best in baseball. 
Manny Delcarmen: This guy definitely improved last year, and I think I had under appreciated him in past years. Last year, he appeared in 73 games (74 innings) with a 3.74 ERA. I don’t really consider him a set up man, but I love having him as a true middle reliever. 
Javier Lopez: He is another one of those guys that is either totally on or totally off. So sometimes, I start pacing my living room when he comes in. I see him come in for only one batter a lot, but that’s because he is a lefty specialist. He pitched great in the World Baseball Classic, and I think I underrate him too because his highest ERA in a Boston uniform is 3.10. 
Justin Masterson: I am so excited to have him here for Opening Day! Last year, he showed us that he can be effective both as a starter and a reliever. So why isn’t he starting then? If he gets the fifth slot, than where would we put Brad Penny? Brad obviously has more experience as a starter, and Justin honestly makes a difference in that bullpen. In the postseason, I loved having either Okajima-Masteron-Papelbon, or Masterson-Okajima-Papelbon. I think he’ll have a really nice year in the bullpen. 
Hideki Okajima: Although Okajima was not as consistent last year as he was in 2007, he still did pretty well. Like I’ve said, inconsistency is bound to happen, and I still think that he can be really effective this year. The good part is, we won’t have to rely on him that much seeing that we picked up Ramon Ramirez and Takashi Saito. 
Ramon Ramirez: An extra set up man for the Red Sox! He was the set-up guy for the Royals, and he had a great season last year. I know that he has the stuff, but from what I’ve not
iced this spring, he just needs to maintain his command. The biggest thing will be the transition from Kansas City to Boston. There is always a lot more scrutiny and attention in places like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, but as long as he stays focused, I’m not concerned. 
Takashi Saito: So this guy posted some pretty spectacular numbers as a closer for the Dodgers, and now he’s coming to the Red Sox just as a set-up man? That’s pretty awesome. But I think that we can still use him to close some games–in fact, I think that we should. At the end of last season… the very end, I’m talking Game 7 of the ALCS… Papelbon wasn’t even available to pitch. He was worn out, and I think we used him way too much throughout the entire season. I’m not saying that he and Saito should split time, but if Papelbon has been working a lot, I think that Saito is definitely qualified to close out a game. 
Jonathan Papelbon: We all know that Papelbon is a very dominant guy, but he did blow a few saves last season. In fact, he blew two in a row. I remember thinking that he needed some rest! We work this poor guy to death (not that we had any other option). But now, I feel much more comfortable that we have guys that will be able to fill in when he needs an off day. Papelbon obviously has a great mentality, so he definitely needs to maintain that, and if he does, I think that he will have a great season. 
Keep your eyes open for: Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, and Daniel Bard. I think that we will see all of them throughout the entire season. Also, keep tabs on Junichi Tazawa’s progress. 
Offensive/Defensive preview to come either late tomorrow, or early Monday!! 

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. 
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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

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

Future Blog of the Red Sox Makes #19

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Wow, I can’t believe that my blog made number nineteen among Fan Blogs. When I joined this site, I honestly did not expect to even be in the Top 100 at any time, so this is really surprising. So of course the only thing I can do is thank the people who read these, and the comments that they leave. I truly enjoy reading all of them and replying. And I love reading your blogs as well! I guess this means that I’m one of the most popular young bloggers on the site (alright ‘Burgh Blues, you’ve got me)– and the most popular young Red Sox blog on the site? But hey, Bigpapi72 is up there too! You guys are really making my dreams come true!! 

So as I was scrolling through the comments on Mark’s ‘Latest Leaders‘, I noticed that Jimmy dedicates whatever ranking he is to a player. So Jimmy, consider yourself an inspirational figure because you’ve inspired me to do the same!
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I dedicate number nineteen to the great Red Sox center fielder Fred Lynn. You can see him in my ‘Best Red Sox of All Time‘ entry. 
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Alright, and a quick shout out to Josh Beckett as well who also wears number nineteen. I still think that he should’ve won the Cy Young award in 2007 rather than CC Sabathia. I had this argument earlier this morning with my friend, Nick. Obviously, I won :)
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The Red Sox have truly made their bullpen one of the best in baseball. The bullpen is where the Sox struggled the most (other than injuries) last year in my opinion, and Theo has really salvaged that. We just recently picked up Takashi Saito. He’s been with the Dodgers for the past three years and has a 1.95 ERA. I love the sound of that!! The Red Sox have one of the best bullpen’s in baseball going into the 2009 season.
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A couple of entries ago, ‘Levelboss’ asked me where Masterson is going to go. I think that’s one of the best questions anyone could ask about our pitching staff right now. Justin Masterson is so versatile that he could start OR be a force in the bullpen. Now that we have Smoltz probably going into a starting slot when he returns around June, we could probably have Masterson starting until then. The thing is, the Red Sox are going to have to look at Brad Penny during Spring Training to see if he’s destined for the bullpen, or the starting rotation until June. 
MLBlogs I want YOU to offer your opinions about my research paper–don’t worry it’s about baseball. 
In my death AP American History class, we have a research paper, and I’ve decided to manipulate it so I can write about baseball. Basically, we have to write about how new ‘spaces and liberties’ were created in America’s Gilded Age. Luckily, we can talk about cultural spaces as well– and baseball is one of the richest cultural ‘spaces’ in the history of America! And I think you guys have some of the best opinions and ideas out there. So, if you have any opinions or suggestions on this topic, I’d be happy to hear it! 
-Elizabeth
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