Red Sox

Qualified Redux

The Red Sox have made qualifying offers to Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Ellsbury almost assuredly will not return to Boston.  Napoli, according to Yahoo! sports has a multi-year offer from Boston but is going to test the market.  Drew, according to his agent Scott Boros, will decline the offer and also shop the market.

So if all 3 sign elsewhere, the Red Sox get 3 compasation picks.

My guess is Drew and Napoli return and Ellsbury leaves.

As for Stephen Drew, I think he is a fine player, but not a $14m player, so the fact he’ll decline the tender offer is great.  In addition, I don’t know what is wrong with Will Middlebrooks at 3rd and Xander Bogaerts at short.  If I had my druthers, 2014 would start with Napoli at 1b, Pedroia at 2b, Middlebrooks at 3b and Bogaerts at ss.

I’m assuming the Red Sox think Napoli has a strong chance of leaving Boston and if that is the case, Middlebrooks would move to 1b with Bogaerts at 3b and Drew at ss.  Musical chairs.

Also, Jarrod Saltalamacchia wasn’t tendered making him free to sign without compensation.  $14m for him is far too steep, especially seeing his postseason performance, 19 K’s in 35 at bats and very little contact (.476 OPS).  I’d like him back at a reasonable price as I think he and David Ross make a great platoon, but if he strikes it rich elsewhere, that’s ok, I think the Red Sox will be fine without him.

The GM/Owner meetings start on Monday.  Up until this year, the GMs had their own meetings and the owners had their own meetings but I guess they’ve combined things.  Regardless, its at meetings like this that the foundation for signings and trades are made and then we start to see some crazy action.

What a Thrill

I’m old enough to have experienced a Red Sox collapse.  As a Freshman in High School, the 1986 World Series was devastating.  Probably more devastating than it should have been to me, but I was young, that’s how it is suppose to work.

During my lifetime but too early in it for me to understand the magnitude of what had happened, The Red Sox lost a heart breaking World Series in 1975 and of course Bucky F’ing Dent did his thing in 1978, a truly terrible season.

What struck me Wednesday night was that there is a whole generation of fans, those born, say, after 1986, who don’t have any reason to fear a Red Sox meltdown.  All they know of the Red Sox is that they won the World Series in 2004 and 2007.  Life as a Red Sox fan is nothing but positives, peaches and cream, weeeeee!

I’m not asking for anyone to feel badly for me here but watching game 6 from Fenway was an exercise in anxiety.  In fact the 48 hours leading up the game were terrifying.  What if they blew a 3-2 series lead?  Could it be the Red Sox of old have returned?

Top of the 7th, Red Sox leading 6-1, bases loaded and Matt Holliday at the plate the worst moment in game 6.  I could see the older fans around me, pale, withdrawn, miserable.  The younger fans?  Not a worry in the world.  The Red Sox escaped the inning unharmed and went on to win the World Series.  Perhaps I need to accept the fact the Red Sox have been very successful and maybe, just maybe, are no longer tied to curses or jinxes.

I always imagined myself at Fenway watching them clinch a World Series championship, but I don’t think I really thought it would ever happen.  Alas it did and I couldn’t be happier.

Thank you David and Mr. S for the ticket, I can’t think of a way to repay you.

—–

One quick thing I found interesting.  My phone lost battery charge in the 7th inning, lame.  So when the final pitch was delivered, I was left clapping while the rest of Fenway was holding their smartphones, unable to clap.  Strike three resulted in much cheering and screaming, but little clapping as how does one effectively clap with a phone in his/her hands?  Just an interesting evolutionary observation.

Best Boston Sports Day Ever?

Sunday may well have been the best Boston sports day ever.  Of course neither the Patriots game nor the Red Sox game decided anything but for sheer excitement and thrilling outcomes, it has to, at worst, rank highly.

First I must admit I was admonished by my wife for having a crappy attitude watching the Patriots game.  My son was watching with us and when the Pats turned it over with 2+ minutes left, I proclaimed, “It’s over.”  To be fair, I legitimately thought mathematically the game was over and said as much.  Admittedly I said it with a strong tone of poor sportsmanship.  My wife told me it was the wrong message to send to my son and it turns out, boy was she right.

I think my son learned the lesson as well as the Patriots sure put me in my place and he’ll never believe another thing I say.

As for the Red Sox, I was at game 1 and it was probably one of the longest, most frustrating nights of my life.  The Red Sox were embarrassed, struck out 17 times and only mustered 1 hit and the game took nearly 4 hours to play.  To make matters worse, my drive home from Fenway was interrupted by downed power lines which forced me and many others to park our cars on Route 1A for an hour until things were fixed.  Bedtime came at 2:50 am, a late night.

Sunday night’s Red Sox game was a near carbon copy for 5 innings with Max Scherzer mowing down Red Sox at will and the Red Sox not getting even a sniff of a hit.

Things changed in the 6th with the Red Sox scoring their first run of the series and David Ortiz worked his magic in the 8th.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia capped the night with a walk-off hit.

Game 1 provided much room for debate, like why is Mike Napoli so bad?  Why can’t the Red Sox hit?  How many checked swings can one team have in one night, oh really, that many?  As for strategy debate, I can’t really argue with John Farrell as if your team isn’t hitting across the board, I’m not sure what you can do besides try a few pinch hitters, which he did.  Basically you have to tip your hat to Detroit.

Game 2 was David Ortiz’s game and he got the job done.  His grand slam was punctuated with an amazing effort by Torii Hunter flipping over the wall into the bullpen, and one of Boston’s finest raising his arms in triumph as the ball landed in the glove of a bullpen catcher (how the hell did the catcher even see that ball coming at him by the way?  He was in a crouch, his head below the top of the wall.  When did he first make eye contact with the ball?  Remarkable).  One of the most dramatic sports moments I’ve seen.

Good timing too as heading to Detroit down 0-2 and facing Justin Verlander isn’t ideal.

Mark Oct 13th, 2013 as a special day in Boston sports.

A Playoff Feeling

Thursday night’s Red Sox vs. Yankees game was one of the more exciting games I’ve seen in a while.  Keep in mind I only really saw a bit of the first few innings and from the 9th inning on what with my softball game taking up my time in the middle (we lost 7-15.  We had a 6-0 lead and then gave up 15 runs in the bottom of the 3rd…what the heck.  And thus concludes my ramblings on my softball game).  But for the few innings I did witness, there was energy, excitement and a definitive playoff feel, something I really haven’t felt since perhaps 2009.

Mariano Rivera is the best closer baseball has ever seen and anytime you can get a win out of a Rivera pitched game is a great thing.  It will be an odd sight-seeing someone other than Rivera close in 2014.

Two Red Sox thoughts:

The most impressive performer for the Red Sox this year has been Koji Uehara.  Consider this, since being named closer on June 26th, Uehara has pitched 34.1 innings.  He’s allowed 10 hits, 2 walks, struck out 46 and posted a 0.26 ERA and he has faced 114 batters vs. a minimum possible of 103.  His ability to lock down the 9th has been a blessing for the Red Sox as Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey, both of the all you can eat Buffet lifestyle, are both injured for the year and when healthy were ineffective.  Uehara’s ability to throw his 89, 90 MPH fastball by the best fastball hitters astounds me and his splitter is unhittable.  Uehara, apologies, consider yourself jinxed.

The call-up of Xander Bogaerts hasn’t produced the splash like Yasiel Puig’s call-up generated, but that is probably how the Red Sox hoped it would happen.  The idea of letting a young player take in the atmosphere with an eye towards preparing him for the following season is appealing to me.

Ortiz and A-Rod Are Friends

Baseball is so different than it was when I was growing up.  Opposing players hug each other during BP and go out to lunch and dinner with one another.  The hate seems to be gone for the most part.  It could be my memory is distorted, but I don’t recall the kind of love today’s players show for each other back in the 80’s.  Perhaps most MLB players are so rich that little things like rivalry and winning take a backseat to friendship.

No matter, David Ortiz today expressed displeasure with Ryan Dempster hitting A-Rod on Sunday.  He said it wasn’t because he and A-Rod are friends, rather it woke up the Yankees and breathed life into the them.

If I was Dempster, I’d be steamed right now.  Ortiz did say that Dempster was a “great guy” but calling out a teammate in public is wrong.  Especially for an isolated incident vs. an ongoing, well documented issue.  By criticizing his teammate on a strategy decision, he might as well call out John Farrell for bringing Brayan Villarreal, he of the 7.5 walks per 9 innings between MLB and AAA this year, into a bases loaded tie game only to see him walk in the winning run on 4 pitches (not much of a surprise).  Or he could call out Shane Victorino for not letting a foul ball drop and instead catching allowing the game tying run to score on a sac fly.  Or myriad other examples.

So Ortiz claims his words aren’t because of his friendship with A-Rod (they reportedly did lunch on over the weekend) but rather the fallout after the plunking with the Yankees rallying to win the game.  I’m not buying it David but either way, keep your trap shut.  What good does it do to throw your teammate under the bus.  Why not pull him aside and tell him you disapproved, in private, and leave it at that.

So while it is easy for Ortiz to blame Dempster for the Yankees rallying, I think we can all point to Ortiz and blame him should the Red Sox falter down the stretch.  You can’t have it both ways David.

Last Laugh

If only Ryan Dempster was as good at winning as he is hitting people.  Actually wait, it took him 2 tries to really hit A-Rod (or 4 if you think pitches 2 and 3 were meant to hit him), so perhaps he isn’t good at either.  Dempster was signed in the off-season to add quality depth to the Red Sox rotation.  A 2-year deal at $13.25 per season, it was a good signing I thought at the time.  Yes, pitching in the AL East is different from other divisions but I figured he’d be a helpful component to this team.

Dempster did last night what I think many players in baseball have been wanting to do.  Fine, hit the guy, but then, please go out and finish the task at hand.  A-Rod came back to make Dempster look silly.  Not only did Dempster allow A-Rod to score after hitting him, he later gave up a home run to him.  Look, I don’t like A-Rod and the fact he is playing right now is a joke, but these are the cards that have been dealt and Dempster has to remember that PEDs or not, A-Rod is talented.  No one knows just how talented he really is as we don’t know when we are watching a clean A-Rod vs. a PEDed A-Rod, but he can hit and is always going to be at worst an above average player.

Dempster has a 4.77 ERA now and 6-9 record.  That’s not good enough and if Dempster is going to go out and make a statement like he did last night, he HAS to back it up.  Terrible outcome.  Horrible loss.

I will say that last night’s game was interesting and certainly reminiscent of Red Sox v. Yankee games of old.

Peavy to Boston

Jake Peavy is coming to Boston and Jose Iglesias is headed to Detroit, or so say reports. The Red Sox need a starter and with Clay Buchholz only willing to pitch when he is 100%, Peavy comes at just the right time.

It is sad to see Iglesias go but I’d much rather lose him than say Jackie Bradley Jr. or Zander Bogaerts.

Peter is right, I have fled Massachusetts and am staying on a small island in Maine, but my WordPress app has come in handy.

Not sure the Red Sox will make any other moves before this trade deadline, I doubt they will.

Some additional notes: Peavy is signed through 2014 and has a player option for 2015. So the Red Sox are willing to add payroll not just for this year but beyond but not at the expense of top shelf prospects.

Iglesias is a nice player but Bogaerts is bearing down on the shortstop position and clearly offers an exponentially lift offensively over Iglesias. If Will Middlebrooks can’t contribute at the major league level then this move does leave a whole, next year, on the left side. For this year, Drew and Brandon Snyder will man the left side. Makes me think Middlebrooks will get called up again or Brock Holt.

Of course it might mean Bogaerts gets called up but I think he really could use more time at AAA.

Trade Deadline Special

Pop quiz at the top, what was the trade the Yankees made at last year’s deadline?

As usual, Andy has fled Massachusetts and the civilized world right as the MLB trade deadline hits. Fear not, I will shepherd you through the deadline with a live blog starting around 2:45pm tomorrow and continuing through the 4pm deadline. I will cover all the MLB moves and I hope to see you in the comments section.

Quiz answer- Casey McGehee for Chad Qualls. The truly sad thing is that while McGehee did nothing in his time with the Yankees, they could certainly use a righty who could play first and third right now. Maybe he gets traded back from Japan?

Stay tuned….

In Search of an Ace

With Jon Lester’s latest clunker, I think it is time to stop considering him the staff ace. In fact, he might be the worst starter on the Red Sox right now.

Buchholz, Lackey, Dempster and Doubront all have better ERA’s than Lester and despite a great April, Lester has been bad the last 2 seasons.

With a team option for 2014, the Red Sox have a decision to make on Lester. They can keep him this year and next, they can keep him for this year and let him walk, they can keep him this year and trade him in the off-season or they can deal him this year. Because of his early career success, I think Lester has some decent trade value but if he finishes up this season the way he is pitching now, he won’t.

As for who would fill in for Lester should be be moved, well, Allan Webster isn’t lighting the world on fire but a combination of Alfredo Aceves and Franklin Morales might be just as good as Lester.

Falling back on old timey visual evidence, Lester seems relatively indifferent about his pitching performances. After Monday night’s disaster he told the media he felt he pitched much better than the results suggested. If 9 hits, 2 walks and 5 earned runs in 5 innings has enough wiggle room to be considered a better outing than it appears well, ok then.

Me? I trade Lester and get as much as I can for him. He seems to have almost completely morphed himself into Josh Beckett, only with better health. I know the Red Sox are in the thick of it and are on target to make the playoffs (albeit with a ton of baseball left) but Lester isn’t who he once was and the sooner Boston recognizes that, the better. He isn’t pitching well and will have trouble making the playoff roster if he continues this way.

The Boston Bruins just made a bold trade in dealing Tyler Seguin and the Boston Celtics just made two bold moves in dealing Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and by signing Brad Stevens as coach (I won’t discuss the Patriots here…), perhaps it’s time for the Red Sox to do something bold as well.

Middlebrooks

The Red Sox demoted Will Middlebrooks today.  The 3b has been struggling all season with poor performance and injuries.  It’s a shame because in 2012, he put up 15 home runs and decent vitals in basically half a season.  Whether he was hitting over his head or his injuries this year are to blame, this is the right move.

Middlebrooks wasn’t going to find his stroke in Boston and the Red Sox weren’t going to give him the rest of the year to figure it out.  Ideally he spends a month at Pawtucket under little to no pressure, and regains his confidence and swing.  He was supposed to be a key to the Red Sox line-up this year after all.

What this means is that Jose Iglesias now has a fulltime spot in the line-up.  I can’t believe it, but he is hitting deep into the .400’s right now after 121 plate appearances.  I’m not saying he is a .400 hitter, but it is starting to be a pretty good sample size.  What is most amazing is he’s walked 9 times so far.  I know, he isn’t going to challenge Ted Williams for his walk prowess, but considering he never took a pitch prior to this year (majors or minors), that is impressive.  For a full season, that works out to be about 45 walks.

His fielding is terrific and if he can stay hot, wow, what an addition to the Sox line-up.  Of course, now that the job is his, he’ll probably tank and hit .150 the rest of the way.