Thursday, April 27, 2006

Four Days Until Sox v Yanks - Round 1

Monday is the first meeting of the Red Sox and the "Evil Empire" - always a stressful time for any Sox fan. With our boys in red and white currently getting trounced by Cleveland (currently 11-2 in the top of the 7th), I can't help wonder what Monday and Tuesday's games have in store. Any predictions?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Rocket's Red Return?

According to Boston Dirt Dogs, the Red Sox may now be the frontrunner in the Roger Clemens sweepstakes. Clemens reportedly said Wednesday he'd like to put No. 21 on his back and finish his career where he started. The Yankees are supposedly his second choice even though owner George Steinbrenner hasn't yet made Roger an offer; however, Roger expects him to at some point. The Astros may have moved up to Roger's third choice while the Texas Rangers, who made a great presentation, are not generating any real excitement in the Clemens camp. According to MLB.com, Clemens said that physically, his body feels pretty good, and that his arm is "not too far away" after working out with son Koby, an Astros prospect playing at Class A Lexington, for five days recently.

While it is early, and there is a whole of of baseball to play, it is exciting to think about the potential. Who knows what will pan out, and perhaps the Rocket will return. Just think, and esp. considering the way the Mets are playing.... he may be back in time to make up for Buckner's blunder in `86 come October!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

4-0

Following two games of riveting drama the Red Sox gave everyone a chance to exhale on Wednesday night, riding Curt Schilling's red-hot arm and a well-balanced offensive barrage to a 9-1 win over the Devil Rays.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Is Manny back?

Another solid win for the Sox last night 7-4 over Tampa. Pitching was adequate and Stern's defensive gem in the 9th most likely saved the game. As for positives Manny has to stand out. If this team is going to make a run at anything this year they need him to hit. Last nights 2-4 performance with 3 RBI's might just be the spark that gets him back. Hopefully that extra base hit will turn into HR's soon enough.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Best one two punch in the game?

The good news after Easter Sunday, the Sox quite possibly have the best 1-2 combo in baseball. Schilling and Beckett are 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA, 28 strikeouts, and just nine walks. Overall pitching has been extremely strong, with Papelbon more than fulfilling the promise he showed last year. Despite having scored fewer runs than every team in the American League except the Royals the Sox are a very respectable 8-4. Now if Manny could just start hitting they might be able to score some runs!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Four more years!





















Its official, Ortiz has been signed for four more years to the tune of 52 million.
It sure is good to see when deals work out as smoothly as this one especially in light of the recent problems the sox have had with some noted signings. While we are all glad to see that Papi intends to finish out his career with the Sox will the $ change your perception of him as he moves from one of the better bargains in sports to a highly paid superstar?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Week One In Review

Week one is coming to a close and so far the Sox are starting off on the right foot. 3-1 going into tonight's match-up against Baltimore, the team has seen some great starting pitching, solid relief from Papelbon, and new guys making their mark (Loretta, Crisp, Lowell, etc.). The biggest concerns so far are Wake in the two spot (and whether or not Bard is the solution or not), Foulke in the closer role (think this one has been decided by Pap, so enjoy platooning in the 8th with Timlin, Keith), and what the hell are we going to due with our middle relief (can we cut Riske and Seanez before Opening Day?)! Wake will be fine, and I am not worried about a closer controversy. In fact, I think Foulke will turn around - but Pap may be our man. Clement even looked good (7Ks, despite the 9H and 4ER) and Manny will start being Manny at the plate soon enough...... And let's not forget Big Papi, especially in Game 1 of the season. The man is a monstah, so give him the $50MM/4 year deal already!

Here's to a sweep of the Birds and a great opener on Tuesday!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Solid pitching

Sox pitching looked impressive last night. Beckett showed us that all that stands in the way of him becoming one of baseball's elite pitchers is his health. Timlin came through and Papelbon looked dominant. Should Foulke be allowed a shot to come back as the closer or be relegated to set up your call?
J Beckett (W, 1-0) 7.0 7 1 1 1 5 0 109-75 1.29
J Papelbon (S, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 11-8 0.00

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bullpen: A Closer Look

With the season now looming just a day away, I'll finish up my in-depth look at the 06 Sox with a closer look at the arms that Tito Francona will be counting on to come out of the bullpen and slam the door shut on the opposition. Like the rotation, there's a lot of upside in this group of pitchers, but plenty of questions as well. So let's get right to it and start with the biggest "?" of them all...

Keith Foulke - The Red Sox closer is the biggest enigma of the spring, and possibly the key to the Red Sox season. Red Sox fans remember the Foulke that was untouchable in the 04 title run, but that came crashing down around him last year when his performance went south faster than a Roger Clemens splitter. Worse, he took his frustrations out on the fans and the city, making the infamous "Burger King" comments, and finishing with an ERA north of 5.

All can be forgiven if he can return to form in 06, though. Foulke has never thrown hard, but in order to set up his devastating change-up, he needs to be able to put at least a little zip on his fastball. He put up good numbers this spring in limited innings, despite having to undergo regular injections his balky knees, so it seems we'll have to wait a few more days to see what he has left. If Foulke falters, the Sox have options such as Timlin and Papelbon, but moving either choice into the closer role severely weakens the rest of the staff.

Mike Timlin - Sox fans have come to rely on this guy so much, that nobody even mentions he just turned 40 and is about to start his 16th major league season. He also set a career high for appearances in 04 with 76, then upped that to 81 last year, appearing in exactly half of the Sox games, and that doesn't include the playoffs. Still, Timlin is a big, strong pitcher who has shown no signs of slowing yet. If he doesn't wear down, he should be a consistent weapon for Francona and crew yet again.

Rudy Seanez- Seanez, who had a forgettable cameo for the Sox in 03 (at least, one he'd like to forget), seemed to find himself out west over the last two year. He posted a 2.69 ERA for the Padres last year, almost 2 full runs lower than his career average. At 38, he's no spring chicken either, but he's a good gamble for the Sox. The return to the AL and the DH will hurt him, as will facing much better teams than he did in the NL West, but he should be a useful part for the Sox as a complement to Timlin. He has always thrown hard and had good strikeout numbers, but he's been smacked around pretty good this spring. Bottom line, he'll have to show me he's a different pitcher than he was last time he was here before I feel comfortable with him on the hill with the game on the line.

Julian Tavarez - Tavarez has a better track record on the hill than Seanez. Since moving to the bullpen in 2003, he's been a solid workhorse for Tony LaRussa and the NL Central Division champion Cardinals. Sox fans remember him for giving up Bellhorn's blast in the 04 series, but fans should be more worried about his short temper than his gopherballs (he gave up exactly 1 dinger that entire 04 season before serving up Bellhorn's). He starts the season on a 10-day suspension for an unprovoked shot at Tampa Bay's Joey Gathwright, marking the 4th time he's been suspended for inappropriate on-field conduct. He's certainly a loose cannon, and how he fits in with the new "professional" Sox clubhouse remains to be seen.

David Riske - A one-time closer candidate for the Indians who fell out of favor with old friend and current Tribe skipper Eric Wedge in Cleveland. On paper, his numbers have been solid, but Wedge hesitated to use Riske in close situations last year, and he didn't register one hold all year, which is almost impossible to do for a middle reliever. How he handles Boston remains to be seen, but he has good stuff. His spring has been horrendous (12 ER in 10 IP), so Sox fans should hope that isn't a portent of things to come in Fenway.

Jon Papelbon - I won't spend much time on Papelbon since I profiled him with the starters last week, but I like him in the pen for the Sox. It gives him a chance to stick with the big league team and get some more seasoning. He's the only other starter candidate backing up an aging, questionable rotation so I don't think he'll be long for the pen. Should Foulke falter, he seems to be the favorite to take over the closer spot as well, so he begins the season as sort of the Sox' "Ace in the Hole" - the problem is they only have one card to play, and if he's pressed into closing duties, the rotation becomes paper thin. Either way, though, he'll pitch plenty of meaningful innings for the Sox this year.

Lenny Dinardo - The lone lefty in the pen will see some time on the Boston-Pawtucket shuttle this season. He's a softtosser, but he seems to get outs. Personally, I'm nervous everytime he's on the hill. Of all the controversial roster moves the Sox made this off-season - the Crisp deal, not signing Damon, dumping Renteria, the Beckett deal, etc. - the one I think could haunt them the most could be not re-signing lefty specialist Mike Myers, and losing him to the Yanks to boot.

The offical statement for letting him go was that they already had a "one-batter" type in Chad Bradford and didn't have room for Myers. That made sense until they released Bradford soon afterwards. Perhaps Myers was a victim of the crazy front-office shuffling that was going on, but having that weapon to bring in late in the game to get out a tough lefty (i.e. Matsui) was a nice addition to Francona's arsenal that will be missing in 06. That said, I'll still put my money on Big Papi when he faces Myers in those pinstripes.

Overall, like the rotation, plenty of talent and plenty of questions. I'm certainly ready to see what the answers will be, so let's Play Ball!