Results tagged ‘ Tim Wakefield ’

Fantastical Meetings, Fantastic Games

My sources got back to me today about our pitching staff’s little competition. According to Melissa, the Indians are the ones that introduced us to the game. 

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My fantastical imagination wandered during my French class, and it took me to my meeting with the Red Sox starting rotation. 
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Apparently, there was still some bad blood between the Red Sox and Indians, neither of them got over the 2007 ALCS. In 2007, the mentality was: ‘If you can be good, I can get better'; in 2009, the mentality has shifted to: ‘If you can be bad, I can be worse”
I wasn’t aware of the rules though. It was only a game between Dice-K, Penny, and Beckett. Jon Lester was disqualified because he started the game too early, this was supposed to start AFTER the first start of the season. Tim Wakefield was automatically disqualified because of the knuckleball, and Justin Masterson is still not allowed to play because of his age. 
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“I wanted to motivate the offense,” Daisuke Matsuzaka said through his translator. “It was pretty quiet, so I thought that I could simply destroy the three run lead, and put us in a two run deficit,” he confessed. 
I turned to Brad Penny, who had a guilty look on his face. “I got jealous,” he began as he shook his head. “I’m the new guy here. Dice-K gave up those five runs, and I guess I just took it overboard. I didn’t even let the offense score to begin with… I just… wanted to impress them,”
“I *&^%$#@ hate Cleveland! I beat CC twice and I still didn’t get the !@#$%^& Cy Young! What the hell do they expect me to do–” Josh Beckett was cut off. 
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“I wanted to play! They wouldn’t let me!” Justin Masterson interrupted. “I was a rookie LAST year–“
Beckett glared at Masterson, and I could tell that Masterson was thankful that it wasn’t Jonathan Papelbon who was staring at him. “Anyway, these guys gave up five or more runs in their outing, and I knew that I could give Baltimore eight runs, but I only &^%*$#@ got four… !@#$^%&%&*&$^%^^&&*&…..” 
The Red Sox realized that this game was dangerous though, so they stopped playing it. Dice-K is now on the 15-Day DL with a fatigued shoulder. They tried to add an amendment to the rules that would disqualify pitchers who had pitched in the World Baseball Classic, but something changed. 
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In Sunday’s game, Jon Lester went seven innings and struck out nine– which made Josh Beckett a bit uneasy. In his Opening Day start, he had gone seven innings with ten strikeouts, but nine was just too close. Lester has motivated Beckett to do even better. 
It was great to see Lester get back into his “vintage” form, as Ian Browne called it in his article. I wasn’t worried, I was merely… frustrated. 
11 am start. On a Monday. Where was I at 11 am Monday? I had just gotten out of Chemistry, and most of you know how I feel about chemistry: badly, to say the least. By the middle of fifth period, I couldn’t take it anymore. I marched with haste to the library. 
I probably had some sort of look of determination on my face because when I came out of the library, my friend reported the score: 3-1 (at that time)
I whirled around… I needed to know more. 
“How? How’s Masterson? What about Jacoby? What about–“
“Masterson is doing OK, Jacoby and Dustin both got hits, and I think Big Papi too,”
I sighed with relief, said ‘thank you’ and marched right into the library to watch the boxscore refresh every 30 seconds. 
This lasted throughout the next period too. I was unable to watch for the next two, but after I got out of my last class, Life Skills, I marched straight over to my friends and demanded an iPhone. 
“Whoever has an iPhone, give it to me now,”
No questions asked, I got one, and read the recap aloud, despite protests from my friends. Besides Masterson’s… masterful… start, I was happy to see that Big Papi had partially broken out of his slump. I say partially only because in my book, home runs are the only remedy for slumps. And last season, in his terrible beginning-of-the-season drought, he had a few hits the night before, and the next night? Grand slam. Oh yeah, and we slammed the O’s. Just like our offense is supposed to. 
Tonight’s game may be canceled postponed delayed, but we all know that my chemistry test won’t be. Though, I do wish it would be cancelled, postponed, or delayed. 

Almost, Almost, Almost

‘Almost’ seems to sum up the first nine games that the Red Sox played. Except for the two blowout games that Jon Lester just happened to pitch in, the Red Sox came within striking distance in almost every game (and by that I mean we were down by two runs or less). Those games are the frustrating ones. 

That was a pretty tough road trip, and I don’t think the late night West Coast games were much fun for anyone (except for Oakland). If I’m tired watching West Coast games, I can’t imagine how the players must be… they actually have to do stuff. 
‘Almost Game’ #1
I was ready for the second West Coast game of the series. I had finished my homework, and I was in the process of drinking my two cups of coffee. For those of you who made comments about drinking coffee on my last post, I’m somewhat addicted myself. I know, it’s bad, it stunts my growth. Maybe that explains Pedroia’s lack of height. 
The top of the first made me happy. I thought that maybe our offense had finally woken up. The Red Sox finally stringed together a bunch of hits in the first inning to score three runs, and normally, run support works pretty well for Dice-K. 
Not that night. It was one thing when the game was tied. ‘Okay, back to 0-0′ I thought, deflated. Then Dice-K gave up two MORE runs. Five runs. In one inning. I no longer felt deflated, I felt dejected. 45 pitches in one inning– that’s basically how many Wakefield had after five innings the day after. 
I was scared too, because I wasn’t fully trusting our offense yet. In the games before that night’s, we would score a run in the first, and then leave absolutely everyone on. At least we tied the game back up in the top of the fifth thanks to more hits strung together. 
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That wasn’t my favorite part of the story. My favorite part was the bullpen, especially Justin Masterson. Thank God he continued to train like a starter throughout the offseason, and during Spring Training. Whosever idea that was, you are brilliant. This man oozes versatility, and I dream about it. Of course, when he came in, I proceeded to ask um… myself: WHERE THE HELL DID DICE-K GO??? And after him, another six shutout inning by that bullpen that everyone has been talking about: the best one in baseball. 
It stayed tied for… a while. The three hour mark passed. ‘Oh crap’ I thought, ‘This is going to be a long night,’. 
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I won’t lie to you though, I did fall asleep from the bottom of the ninth to the top of the tenth. I missed Okajima’s 1-2-3 ninth. But I did wake up for Dustin Pedroia’s incredible catch in the bottom of the tenth. It woke me up. 2 AM passed, and that meant less than four hours of sleep, and I like sleeping. 
Again, I won’t lie to you. Javier Lopez makes me nervous when he’s in without anyone on base. He loaded up the bases. I don’t think I could feel my anxiety though, my exhaustion was overwhelming. There are two outs though, so I’m feeling kind of good. 
Then, a sharp grounder that bounces into the air… but my Dustin is charginggggg andddd safe. The A’s won. I stayed up until 2:30 AM to watch the Red Sox lose. 
I could barely get up the next morning, and I probably couldn’t walk in a straight line either. My friend, Kathleen (the other Red Sox fan) and I just shook our heads when we saw each other. We went over to other benches (in the area that my friends and I hang out) to go sleep. 
My other friends came over, and started talking. I told them to ‘go away’ because I needed sleep, and I proceeded to sleep every opportunity that I got. 
Almost Game #2
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Wednesday’s game was perfect timing– it was on a day that I had early dismissal, so I got home in time to see the first pitch. It’s not like I don’t get nervous when Wakefield pitches– like I’ve said, he’s either really on, or really off. Yesterday, he was REALLY on, and so was our offense. 
I noticed “it” after four innings. We had a comfortable two run lead thanks to Mike Lowell’s two run homer, and Wakefield was cruising. I looked at the score: zero hits for the A’s. 
My thoughts would not shut up. I wanted them to so badly, but they just wouldn’t. Mike Lowell made an error in the fifth that would have ruined the perfect game, which Wakefield would have had going into the 8th inning had it not been for that error. 
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The Sox even got more insurance runs in the 8th because we went through our entire lineup. I like doing that, and I hope we do it again soon. I was a very happy camper, even though I was ridiculously tired. At the beginning of the 8th inning, Don Orsillo finally talks about it. 
‘Wakefield has allowed no hits to A’s hitters through seven.’
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‘Why would you say that?’ I asked him through my computer. I know he’s an announcer, and maybe he has to… but aren’t we all ridiculously superstitious? Maybe I would be a crappy announcer, then. I would not even mention hits if I noticed it, and I would threaten my partner if they even thought about it. 
I had MLB Network on mute too, and I see a ‘Special Report’, so naturally, I turned it up. Just guess what they talked about: 
‘History may be in the process of being made over in Oakland…’
TURN IT OFF! My father and I both scream at the same time. I fumble with the remote and change the channel, only to have it go to the same thing but not in HD. I finally just turn the TV off. 
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Kurt Suzuki got the hit, and he is the one that reached on the error too. You know how Jane mentions kidnapping players over in her blog? I want to kidnap Kurt Suzuki, and I wouldn’t mind kidnapping
Travis Buck either (the guy with the walk off hit). 
There were some remarkable defensive plays during that game though. Jacoby Ellsbury had two beautiful catches in the outfield where he bounced gracefully off the wall each time. Nick Green also had an incredible catch to rob Jack Cust (?) of a hit. 
I saw MIke Lowell in the dugout in the top of the ninth semi-joking with Wakefield about that error, and I could see that he was basically saying,
“I was thinking about that error, and how it could have ruined a perfect game. I was also thinking about how Elizabeth Dreeson would have come and killed me,”
I took a three hour nap after that– caught up on my sleep, and I needed it! 

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!! 

#5: Nomar Garciaparra

Continuing in the tradition started by Jimmy Curran over at Baseball, the Yankees, and Life; I am dedicating my latest ranking, number five, to a former Red Sox player that has a very special place in my heart. 

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Nomar went to Georgia Tech, along with Jason Varitek (who had his number retired), and helped the “Yellow Jackets” get to the College World Series in 1994. He was a first round pick for the Red Sox in 1994, and played three years in their minor league system. He made his Major League debut in August 1, 1996, and his first major league hit, which happened to be a home run, came on September 1. It’s not like he was playing everyday though, John Valentin was the starting shortstop at the time, but not for long. By late 1996, Nomar had taken the job– Valentin moved to second base. 
Garciaparra’s rookie year was 1997, and he hit 30 home runs, and had 98 RBIs, which set a Major League record for RBIs by a leadoff hitter. He also set the record for leadoff home runs by a rookie. Do you guys know who broke it? (Hint: It was another shortstop). He had a 30 game hit streak which also set an American League rookie record. He was unanimously voted Rookie of the Year and even finished eighth in MVP voting. 
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In 1998 he finished with 35 home runs and 122 RBIs, and runner up for MVP. For the next two years, he led the American League in batting average. .357 in 1999, and .372 in 2000. He didn’t even win MVP those years. 
In 2001, the injuries began. His season was ended when he came into Spring Training with a wrist injury and returned in 2002 to bat .310. It was the beginning of the end. 
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Following a dreadful end to the 2003 season (Nomar did okay, but the Red Sox didn’t), the relatively new Red Sox ownership was investigating the idea of trading Manny to Texas for A-Rod, and Nomar to the White Sox for Magglio Ordonez. This obviously upset Nomar, and he became very unhappy. 
He was traded to the Chicago Cubs on July 31, 2004 for Orlando Cabrera and Doug (not even going to attempt his last name). Nonetheless, he was given a World Series ring from that year. God, I miss Nomar. 
Projects
For those of you that do not know, I have started a tradition of having “project players”. These are players that I see in Spring Training, or who may have a brief stint with the Red Sox, that I really like. Last year, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson were my projects. 
I would now like to declare to you my projects for 2009: 
Jeff Bailey
Lars Anderson
Chris Carter
Nick Green
Junichi Tazawa
All of them are minor league players– you can check out my reports on them in my previous entry. Angel Chavez might make the list as well, he’s been looking great. 
Jacobyluvr asked some questions that are really important to look at right now in my last post: 
Initial Intake on Starting Rotation: 
Thus far, we have seen three out of five of our starting rotation: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield. 
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Josh Beckett has been looking great according to reports. The fact that he may look like his 2007 self is very pleasant to hear. Against Boston College, Beckett fired two innings and two strikeouts and didn’t allow any hits. Against the Twins, he also fired two perfect innings, but didn’t strike out anyone. The main thing for Beckett is to stay healthy. Some years he is incredible, others he is mediocre. Last season, he was always “catching up”– ever since that Spring Training game where he had the back spasms. 
Jon Lester pitched against Pittsburgh and earlier today against the Reds. Against Pittsburgh, he pitched two innings, allowed two hits, and struck out one. Today, against the Reds, he pitched two perfect innings and struck out two in the process. Lester is working on adding a changeup to his arsenal of pitches. He is so young that he can continue to learn and really develop. 
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Wakefield, in his start against the Twins, gave up two earned runs on five runs in two innings. Coming out of the bullpen (after Beckett) in the second game against the Twins, he walked one, gave up one hit and no earned runs in two innings. The thing about Wakefield is that he is either on or off– there is very little middle ground. He basically has one pitch, and even though the knuckle ball may be pretty hard to hit for some teams– all it takes is two pitches to time it down. The great thing about Wakefield is that he goes very deep into games. 
We can’t tell much about Dice-K because he has been training in Japan this entire time for the World Baseball Classic, which is starting this weekend. I hope that they don’t overwork him. I know how much he means to Japan and his country, but there are 162 games in the season, and he has to pitch every five days for seven innings ideally. The thing about Dice-K is that even though he went 18-3, he walked tons of people, but got tons of run support. He needs to cut down on the walks (I know he can get out of jams, but I would rather him to deep into games). I’ll be closely watching him in the World Baseball Classic. Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Big Papi say they have some plans to hit home runs off him. 
Brad Penny will most likely be the fifth starter. He has not pitched in Spring Training yet, and he will not be starting against Puerto Rico. The biggest thing for him is also to stay healthy, because when he is healthy, he is great. After all, in 2007 he did finish third in Cy Young Award voting. Justin Masterson did a great job starting though.  
Mike Lowell Situation
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In order for Lowell to be re
ady for Opening Day, he needs to take it a bit slower than everyone else simply because he is coming off surgery. I definitely would like to see him in a couple of exhibition games though because it would be tough just to come back without any practice. That’s kind of what happened to Josh Beckett. If Lowell is not ready for Opening Day, he should not play. The last thing I want is for him to push anything too far. If he is not ready for Opening Day, I have some ideas:
Kevin Youkilis could move to third, and either Lars Anderson, Jeff Bailey, or Chris Carter could come up to play first base. It would not be the end of the world if he can’t start on Opening Day. The main priority is for him to completely rehab. He is working out in Fort Myers right now with everyone else, but I would guess that if he is not ready for Opening Day, he should probably start out in Triple AAA just to get a feel for things. 

I can’t watch Spring Training games, which really upsets me. They’re always during school, so I can only check the score so often. Today, as I checked the score, I noticed that we were losing. Instead of freaking out, I checked the box score and checked out who hit and who pitched. Jed Lowrie had a good day, and Chris Carter got a hit too. As I was scrolling through the pitchers to see who had earned the runs, I noticed that Ramon Ramirez had three of the earned runs and four of the hits. He had looked so good before! Was it just a bad day? 
Thank you all for reading!
-Elizabeth

The First Game of Spring

It seems that anything of significance in the baseball world happens in my English class. When the MVPs were announced, I was in English. When the HOF inductees were announced, I was in English. And when Josh Beckett took the mound for the Red Sox against the Boston College Eagles, guess where I was? English. On my way, I was searching for someone that I could beg to borrow his or her phone. No such luck. I was not able to see whether Josh Beckett’s first pitch was a ball or a strike. 

I did feel like I contributed to that game in some way, shape or form. I’m very superstitious when it comes to baseball, kind of like Jane as she describes in her book. Well, as I was taking my notebook out for my American History class second period, I realized that I had a Yankee book in my backpack. ‘That can’t be good chi,’ I thought, so I asked my friend to guard it in her locker. Nothing personal Jane, just superstitions. 
The Red Sox beat the Eagles 7-1. A couple minor leaguers, including Chris Carter, had a nice game, and Josh Beckett fired two perfect innings and struck out two. 
Disappointed as I was for missing the afternoon game, I was quite excited when I found out that the evening game would be broadcasted on MLB Network. 
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the first inning by swinging at the first pitch he saw. ‘Patience!’ I thought! Well, he learned from his mistake in his next at-bat, and waited a few pitches before flying out to left. The important part is, he did make contact. 
Dustin Pedroia collected the first hit of the game, hitting a nice double, which isn’t surprising for a guy coming off an MVP season. 
I watched in awe as Tim Wakefield took the mound for the Sox. That knuckleball of his has been around since 1995. He played in Pittsburgh before that! I can’t imagine him anywhere else but the Red Sox, I’m glad that the Sox decided to pick up his option. Wake gave up three runs over two innings– a few batters were able to time the knuckle ball down, but some of the runs were just results of balls that got through the gap. The defense was a little rusty, but what can you expect after a long offseason? I just hate those blooper balls that fall in the proverbial bermuda triangle. Those aggravate me, unless the Red Sox hit one. 
Those balls going through the gap even got to Youkilis, it wasn’t just Diaz (SS) and Khoury (3B). By the way, did you guys see Youk’s latest Youk Fu? I thought that was hilarious! 
Josh Bard did a nice job catching Wakefield’s knuckleball. I think he should work on throwing over to second, because it’s pretty easy to steal considering Wakefield’s knuckleball is basically 68 mph. There was also one play in which Brad Wilkerson, recently acquired from the Blue Jays (RF) threw the ball in from the outfield and Bard tried to tag the guy before catching the ball. In the future, let’s catch before tagging :)
Billy Traber tried to pull a Dice-K: loading the bases with no outs. Even though it is Spring Training, it still gave me a heart attack. Dice-K may be the only pitcher in the majors who can get himself into jams and get out unscathed. You’re not there yet Billy, baby steps. After giving up a few runs, Billy did settle down to throw a couple of nice pitches. 
Justin Masterson was sporting a beard, so he looks a bit older. Masterson, Delcarmen, Lopez, and Rairez all pitched beautifully, giving up zero runs over five innings. Masterson was a bit shaky at first, but he calmed down after a little bit. 
Let me tell you guys, I am very impressed with Ramon Ramirez. Much as I miss Coco, that was a great trade. Three up, three down and two strikeouts. Talk about a great first impression. I would make him my project, but my projects are strictly confined to minor leaguers. 
Speaking of projects, Jeff Bailey has pretty much secured his spot as one of my projects. I was aware of him when he was with the Red Sox in 2008, and I liked what I saw, so he was definitely on my radar for tonight’s game. I hope to see him this weekend, as well as Lars Anderson. 
Jed Lowrie looked pretty good tonight, solid effort with some of those balls up the middle and a nice triple with an RBI. Jeff Bailey had the other RBI. I’m in the process of getting to know these minor league guys, but I should have at least three projects by the end of the Grapefruit League. 
To answer Jacobyluvr’s question, Jed Lowrie was my project last year. I was waiting for autographs outside of the player’s parking lot, and he drove out slowly, so I ran into the middle of the street to get an autograph. I barely knew who he was! After that autograph though, I knew he’d be coming. 
Rem-Dawg was unable to join Don Orsillo at the game tonight, he has an infection. All of us here at Red Sox Nation, and even on the entire blogosphere hope you feel better. Now, the Red Sox can always call me if they need an extra play-by-play. I feel like they have a mic wired to my house because they always talk about whatever I just finished talking about within five minutes. Maybe I’ll do that someday. 
Overall, I was impressed with the Red Sox’s performance, and I cannot wait until tomorrow. I apologize for the lack of pictures, I had this post ready to go an hour ago, but as I was looking around the internet for pictures, I somehow closed this window, and the blog was lost.
I’ll be bringing back some pictures this weekend! 
-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

I forgot how depressing the offseason is…

Now that baseball season is over, I’m pretty bored. I actually have to do my homework in my room now, not while watching a baseball game. Maybe that explains the sudden escalation in my geometry grade (except for Friday’s test). Ironically, I’m behind on my AP US History reading now. Forget outlining, I’ve just got to finish the antebellum period! 

So I just found out on the MLB Pro-Blog ‘Brownie Points’ that Jason Varitek has been going through a divorce throughout the year. Perhaps that explains his offensive numbers. Even though players shouldn’t let their personal life interfere with their professional life, it’s hard not to. Plus, perhaps he was trying too hard to have a stellar year since it is a contract year. Nevertheless, I think the Sox should re-sign him. Remember JD Drew in 2007 how is offensive numbers were disappointing? Well, I’m pretty sure that his son was ill throughout the entire year, and then in 2008, look at the year he’s had! Wasn’t he player of the month in June or something like that? Maybe Varitek can turn it around next year. You can’t just give up on a guy because he has a down year. 
I also think that Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie will do better next year. The problem with Jacoby was that everybody expected him to have an amazing year because of what he did September-October of ’07. But remember all of the amazing plays he made in the outfield? He didn’t have an error all season! It’d be a mistake to let him go. And as far as Jed Lowrie, even though his offensive numbers fell towards the end of the season to about .256, he was pretty solid at shortstop. And Julio Lugo didn’t do much better offensively, and don’t even get me started defensively. Lugo is a nice guy, don’t get me wrong. He threw me a ball after all (and then I started crying of course, I’m so pathetic), but I think we should develop Lowrie into a great player. 
Besides Varitek being a free agent, Curt Schilling also filed for free agency. I think he wants to pitch in the second half of the ’09 season. But, in my opinion, I don’t think anyone is going to sign him. He’s had a great career with the Red Sox, and I remember the look on his face as he walked off the field in ’07, perhaps the last time he pitched for the Red Sox. I think he should just retire, continue his blog, and punch anyone in the face who tries to say that his famous bloody sock is fake. Alex Cora and David Ross also filed for free agency. Alex Cora has been a somewhat important factor in the organization, seeing that he is a utility infielder. Maybe we can use him to get some bullpen depth though? And I’m sure some of you are asking yourself right now, who is this David Ross guy? He was Kevin Cash’s backup catcher (and Cash was Varitek’s back up catcher) so no wonder he didn’t get any action. 
As far as the AFL goes, Clay Buchholz is “regaining his confidence”, but he still has a lot to prove in spring training. He’ll probably be in competition (agian) for the fifth starting spot since Paul Byrd will soon be filing for free agency.
The Red Sox exercised their option on Tim Wakefield, as I expected. Perhaps they’ll use him in the bullpen as they did in 2003. He can go anywhere. Maybe they’ll use him like they did Mike Timlin. 
Zink is also doing well in the minor leagues, so expect to see him in spring training. Also expect Dave Pauley and Chris Smith (at least, I think it’s Chris). Maybe we can use them for bullpen depth. 
Bartolo Colon is basically gone, the Red Sox suspended him when he basically left the team. Whatever, that was probably more of a gain than it was a loss. 
Some good news: The Red Sox are going to remain in Fort Myers for a little while at City of Palms Park, but a new stadium is going to be built by 2012 (the 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park!!! I’m so excited). It’ll probably have a mock green monster, and other similarities to the antiquated, but beautiful park in the great city of Boston. 
As far as free agent pitchers go, I love the idea of Jake Peavy, but the problem is, who do we give up for him? He’s basically the face of the Padres organization. There’s also Derek Lowe, who I’m sure would love to come back to Boston. And I still love that guy, so why not? There’s also AJ Burnett, who appears to be a great pitcher, and I think that he is, but with all of his injuries, it’s hard to know weather or not he is reliable. 
I wish I could debate about this instead of felon disenfranchisement. Why must I listen to the NFL (no, not football, National Forensics League). I might as well drop debate. 
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