Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Walk For Tomorrow's Red Sox Fans!

Join Christopher in supporting healthy future Red Sox fans!
Christopher is a beautiful boy and the expected starting SS for the 2035 Boston Red Sox! Last year, Christopher made his Red Sox Nation debut with the support of UConn Medical Center's Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Hartford. Christopher came out of the NICU after a few days ready to play ball and is a healthy and happy future All-Star. However, many families rely on NICU services for weeks or months on end and the services offered by these facilities are critical for babies with special medical needs. That said, Red Sox Rants & Raves would like to ask for your help in supporting Christopher and his family as they participate in the March of Dimes' WalkAmerica walk-a-thon. The goal is to raise money for the March of Dimes and "save babies together" through essential services like the NICU at the UConn Medical Center. For more information and to support Christopher and his family, visit the link below:
5/7/2006, 10:00 AM
Hartford, CT
Thank you for your support!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sox it to 'em!


Ok, there may be a few questions about our relief pitching, but it is obvious from today's action that Julian Tavarez is one hell of a slugger! There is no excuse for sucker punching in Spring Training, but it is good to see the Sox have a little attitude going into opening day - one where Tavarez will no doubt be serving some kind of suspension. This just a day after Beckett went a few verbal rounds with the Phillies' Howard... Play ball! Just a week from opening day!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Red Sox, Reds swap Arroyo, Wily Mo

The Cincinnati Reds traded outfielder Wily Mo Pena to the Boston Red Sox for right-hander Bronson Arroyo and cash on Monday in a deal that may fill needs for both clubs.

Arroyo, 29, will be a boost to a Reds pitching staff that had the highest ERA in the National League last year. Arroyo, who went 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA in 32 starts and three relief appearances in 2005, joins right-hander Aaron Harang and lefties Eric Milton and Brandon Claussen in the Cincinnati rotation. Arroyo established career highs in wins (14), starts and innings pitched (205 1/3) while producing a team-high 20 quality starts.

Thoughts on the Trade? Comments are welcome

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sox Rotation: An In Depth Look

Well, I have been putting off this post hoping that things might shake out a bit in camp, but for now at least, it appears the Sox will keep all seven of their starting pitchers. "Seven starters?" You ask. "What are we going to do with seven starters?" And I answer, "Hope that at least 5 of them can be healthy and effective."

As of right now, there hasn't been much evidence to show that the Sox will be able to field 2 or 3 solid starters, let alone seven. It's way too early to write any of the arms off, but lets take a look at the seven candidates for a starting spot in the Fens.

1. CURT SCHILLING - Schilling has already gotten the nod as opening day starter, so as long as his ankle holds up, he's a lock for the rotation. Sox fans have seen two very different versions of Schilling: The dominant ace who willed the team to a world series title in 04, and the aging hurler, struggling to find his groove and his old velocity in 05. What to expect in 06 is the question, and the answer probably lies somewhere in between.

In his last spring training start, Schilling was perfect for 3 innings, then fell apart in the 4th after beaning Pittsburgh's Chris Duffy in the head and wound up coughing up the lead. (Incidentally, he then blamed Duffy for not getting out of the way of the beanball, so something must be left over in the water of City of Palms Park from the Pedro era, I'm guessing.) So The Tale of Two Schillings continues, and probably will throughout the season.

If Schill can stay healthy, I think he'll have his share of dominant games, and some rough ones along the way as well. That's what usually happens to studs like him as they age, and that's okay. He can be a big asset to the young arms on the Sox staff, especially since they're saddled with the unremarkable Al Nipper as pitching coach, and the best thing Nip ever brought the Sox organization was Lee Smith in a trade from the Cubs. But I digress. Don't expect Schill to win the Cy Young Award, but 15-18 wins could happen, and with Millar and Damon gone, this is his team now. Keep your eyes on him, and not just for the controversial things he's sure to say. As goes Curt Schilling this year, so go the Sox.

2. JOSH BECKETT - Is it just me, or does it seem the Sox are keeping Josh Beckett a secret of some sort? He throws in minor league games, away from the prying eyes of the all-seeing Boston media, yet he's the Ace-apparent to Curt Schilling. Only 25 years old, the same age as Papelbon, Beckett has the fastball and the track record to get Sox fans excited. That World Series shutout he threw at the Yankees in in 03 took a bit of the sting off the Aaron Boone homer. (just a bit, but hey, it was something....).

Here's hoping the Sox doctors know a bit more about how to treat blisters than those guys who worked for the Marlins. If Beckett could ever pitch 200 innings, his numbers would be there, as he's almost always been good when he's been pitching. The problem is keeping him pitching. I'm in the camp that thinks Hanley Ramirez was overvalued, so in my mind this deal was a steal for the Theo-less Sox when it happened, and I still feel that way. Beckett has the potential to be one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. Sure, there are question marks, but it's not often you can find and acquire a guy with that potential at all, especially one that was born in the 1980's. If he's healthy this year, I'm willing to bet Beckett will earn the opening day start for 07.

3. DAVID WELLS - Didn't you all love how Wells rescinded his trade request once he got to spring training and realized a trade had no shot at happening? It's like when you hit on that hot girl at a bar, and after she rejects you, you tell your buddies "I didn't want to go home with her, anyway." Whatever the reason, the Sox should be happy they kept Boomer around. I know he's in his 40's, but he's never been an athlete, so its not like his declining physical form is going to be a problem. He is signed only through this year, so if things fall right with the other arms, and the Sox have a hole to fill (like maybe, *cough*, first-base?) he can still be dealt away at any time.

Now, all we have to see is Wells actually pitch in spring training. All signs seem to point to that happening soon, and again, its not like they need this guy out there running laps around the outfield. Get the big guy on the mound, and let him pitch. Now, if he'd just stop calling out the commissioner, we'd really have something.

4. TIM WAKEFIELD - The last "lock" of the starting candidates is the knuckleballer, Wakefield. I know its hard to find somebody who can actually catch him (heck, Flaherty actually hung up the cletes rather than spend a year chasing after Wake's flutter-ball), and when Wake's off he gets hammered in a major way. But how can you not love this guy? He's turned a trick-pitch into some sort of life-time contract for the Sox - seriously, I think he'll be the ace in 2024.

Either way, Wake rattled off 16 wins in 05, his most since '98, and seems to really be able to turn it on in big games. He's also done everything the team has ever asked of him. The most underrated moment in the 04 playoffs was Wake voluntarily giving up his start in Game 4 against the Yankees to go out and pitch in a thrashing to save the bullpen in Game 3. Happy to see Wake back in 06, and when he goes 14-12 and eats up another 200 innings with an ERA around 4, remember how valuable a guy he is to have on the staff.

5. JON PAPELBON - "He's the next Roger Clemens!" they say. "How can he not start?" they ask. Even Curt Schilling has come out and said Papelbon should be pitching 200 innings for the Sox. And heck, if he can't start, why, he can be our closer! Yes, the hype-machine has begun for this young pitcher already. Sadly, I don't think there's any way Sox fans aren't disappointed with Papelbon in 06. Oh, don't get me wrong, I liked what I saw out of him in 05 as much as any of you. Great demeanor on the mound, big kid, throws hard, good command. But everyone please remember the kid has pitched a total of 34 big league innings.

I'm actually of the mind that Pap would be better off in the pen or even in the rotation in Pawtucket to start 06. Let him go down and dominate for a month while the Sox sort out their surplus of starters. The worst thing that could happen is for Papelbon to be given a huge role on the 06 team out of the gate, and have him falter. He has that confidence right now, and I'd hate to see him lose that. This guy will be a factor on this team in 2006, it just doesn't have to happen on April 3rd.

6. MATT CLEMENT - He's the anti-Papelbon. Despite making the All-Star team last year, (albeit thanks to some shady dealings by Francona) and his awful second half coincidentally coinciding with a batted baseball going 200 mph soundly bouncing off his noggin, everybody has written off Clement. This is the same guy who's "nasty stuff" had been hailed by scouts in the NL for years. Personally, I think it's too early to give up on Clement.

Like Beckett, I'm wondering why the Sox haven't trotted him out in a spring training game. Arroyo has 3 starts so far, Clement hasn't had one. He's my pick for the 5th starter spot, at least to start the season. Although, one thing I've heard none of the experts talk about is the possibility of using Clement in the pen. He has a reputation for bad control, but he only walked 68 in almost 200 innings last yet year. And guys like him with "nasty stuff" who can't seem to put it together as a starter sometimes thrive in that late-inning role. Granted, the Sox are paying him a lot to be a reliever, but I'd rather see that than see them cut-bait on him for .50 cents on the dollar AND have to eat some of his high salary. Count me in the camp that wants to see what Clement can do this year.

7. BRONSON ARROYO - I don't think Arroyo has a shot of making this rotation without trade or injury, and that's okay. He's never going to be a dominant pitcher, and he has a lot of value in that spot-start, long relief role. If the Sox are going to trade a pitcher other than Wells, I'd rather it be him, as he has the lowest upside of any of the roation candidates.

What you get from Bronson is what you get. That's not a knock. He's a valuable major league pitcher who gets opponents to put the ball in play (he doesn't sktrikeout or walk many), and can be an asset to this 06 Sox team. Especially if bullpen favorites like Julian Tavarez and David Riske keep getting shelled. But that's a bullpen column for a later time...

BUCKY'S BITS -

  • Those of you saying Clemens was the greatest modern pitcher for the Sox are forgetting just HOW dominant Pedro was in his greatest years. Roger will wind up the best pitcher the Sox have ever had from a historical standpoint when you factor in longevity. But to talk about pure dominance, look no further than Petey. The guy was putting up a 1.something ERA when the league average was OVER five. Keep in mind the eras when you compare the numbers...
  • I'm embarassed to be a USA baseball fan after that awful call went against Japan in the World Baseball Classic. That "left too early from third" thing is NEVER overruled, and the replays show the guy left at exactly the right time. I know there was no malicious intent, but it smacked of The US team getting a break from an American umpire on US soil. Just something else to tarnish our image - And hey, if you choose guys like Randy Winn and Al Leiter to be on the All-USA team, then you are going to take some knocks - end of story!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Big Papi to the Rescue

While the passing of Kirby Puckett and the continuing controversey over Barroid Bonds were decidingly negatives for baseball, March 7th held some positives for the Sox.

Yesterday's 10-6 victory showed signs of what Sox fans can hope to expect more of for 2006, solid pitching from Curt Schilling and clutch hitting from Manny and Coco Crisp.


More importantly Big Papi seems in mid season form, leading the Dominican Republic to a 11-5 rout of rival Venezuela. His two homeruns made a firm statement that 2006 should be another strong performance for the carefree slugger.

On one final note the Sox team chemistry appears to be intact, with Big Papi leading the welcoming committe for our new centerfielder. While Damon might have been regarded as the team leader, Papi has clearly filled the void! Looking ahead at 2006 it appears that the Sox still have the strongest team chemistry in all of Major League Baseball, something that NY is clearly missing!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

In Memoriam: Kirby Puckett
A true competitor, a smile that could light up a ballpark,
and a gift to baseball fans everywhere.

Monday, March 06, 2006

All's Well that ends, Wells...

After an rocky off-season of trade demands, silent treatments, and threats to retire, David Wells has decided to stay with the Sox. In the end, I believe the competitor inside decided that he still wants to win ball games - and off course make a few million along the way. On one hand you can't blame him. He wants to go back home and isn't enjoying all the attention in Boston. On the other, you sign a contract and you fulfill it - especially one full of incentives that guarantees starts. In the end, Wells just needs to stop pretending he's Manny and go out there and win games (at least ten would be nice). After that, he can retire back in San Diego and coach little league for all I care.

In other news:

Finally the Sox go into this week 3-3 if you count college and international exhibition games. I know, it is only Spring Training, but the Sox have yet to beat a major league team and there aren't a lot of bragging rights that come along with beating a bunch of 20 year olds or a country who's official sport is boomerang! Let's at least take one from Tampa Bay today boys!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Lookin' Crisp

Despite losing to the Twins 6-3 in the Sox first ST game last night, new CF Coco Crisp was just that - going 3-3 and almost hitting through through the cycle. Yes, on the flip side Damon was one of the few producers during the Yanks first outing, however it is good to see Crisp making his presence felt (esp. considering he was the only expected starter to play in the game).

In other news, Papelbon looked "ok" but took the loss. The potential starter for the Sox also got a scare when Shannon Stewart lined one off his foot during the first AB of the game. We don't need another pitcher losing his composure on the mound as a result of a line drive (opefully Clement got over last seasons jitters). Also, second baseman Tony Graffanino is expecting a trade and will likely get one, and Wells.... well it looks like he'll be moping around for a few more days (atleast) in Sunny Florida.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Best Modern Day Sox Pitcher?


While spring training is still warming up we thought it would be interesting to find out who you feel is the best modern day Sox pitcher. I'm sure all of you have taken the time to pontificate about these matters privately wondering whether Clemens' 20 strikeout performance was better than Pedro's masterpieces at Fenway. While we don't want to take any attention away from the bright prospects of the 2006 season, take a moment and post your thoughts on which Sox pitcher you feel was the most dominant during his tenure in Fenway.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Camp Updates

So far the beginning of spring training has produced some very good news for Sox fans. First there was Manny's exit from the WBC, then today came news of his arrival to camp. Even better is the extremely positive news that our old ace is starting to feel the 'form' again that brought down the evil empire. On being asked what pleased him most during his latest workout Schilling noted, "All of it -- velocity, location, command -- all of it. I just felt better today than the last couple of days, weeks."

This begs the question on Schilling's 2006 performance, I for one thing he will rack up a solid 15 win season, beg to differ? feel free to post your comments.