Round 1 – Red Sox vs. Angels

Earlier today I posted the roster and rotation for the Red Sox in the upcoming ALDS series against the Angels.  I didn’t get into my feelings on things.  Well, here it goes.

I have no problem with Josh Beckett getting things started.  He was the best starter for the Red Sox hands down and has a legit shot at the AL Cy Young award.  But, I think starting Daisuke Matsuzaka game 2 and Curt Schilling makes little sense.  Here’s why:

game 2 @ Fenway

Matsuzaka home – 92.2 IP, 4.86 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 75 K, 30 BB, 2.50 K/BB ratio.

Matsuzaka away – 112.0 IP, 4.02, 1.31 WHIP, 126 K, 50 BB, 2.52 K/BB ratio.

The 19.1 more IP on the road yielded 50 more K’s (and 20 more BB’s).

game 3 @ Anaheim

Schilling home – 82.0 IP, 4.06 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 61 K, 12 BB, 5.08 K/BB ratio.

Schilling away - 69.0 IP, 3.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 40 K, 11 BB, 3.64 K/BB ratio.

Ok, so far not so bad, Matsuzaka was better on the road, but Schilling was also better on the road.  So?

8-2 record, 109.1 IP, 2.09 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 104 K’s, 22 BB, 4.73 K/BB ratio.  Those are Schilling’s career postseason numbers.  There are few better starters in the history of baseball than Schilling.  Daisuke, through no fault of his own, has no MLB postseason history.  Even though Schilling is of age, I still think they should have gone with him in game 2.

Now, before I get accused of manipulating the facts, let me share with you that Matsuzaka was 8-4 at home and 7-8 on the road despite his stats and Schilling was 4-3 at home and 5-5 on the road.  So by record only, the decision as it stands is correct, but we all know w/l records can be misleading.

Now that I’ve gotten off my chest, I think there is more than meets the eye here as Schilling himself said he was not as strong as he used to be and a long Red Sox half inning meant difficulties for him as he didn’t warm up as quickly.  His velocity is down and he is not what he used to be, but old horses don’t lose it over night and we’ve seen inspired performances on more than one occasion from Schilling in his career.  The Red Sox must be aware of some specific issues and feel that asking Schilling to step up twice in a 5 gamer is not wise.  At 14 years younger, Daisuke will get the call in game 2.

Time will tell.

All The Best Love The Yanks

Not that it matters, but here is one Cleveland athlete who will be rooting for the Yankees this week.  While the best player in the NBA is a good get, this is my personal favorite.

Red Sox Roster

The Red Sox are going with many of the usual suspects, but there are a few interesting selections (and one omission).

The usual starting 9 is on the roster with Doug Mirabelli, Jacoby Ellsbury, Eric Hinske, Bobby Kielty and Alex Cora making the roster as did 3rd string catcher Kevin Cash.  Room was afforded by omitting Tim Wakefield from the roster to allow for Cash.  Wakefield, according the Red Sox, isn’t healthy enough to help the squad, especially in a series where only 3 starters will be needed.

Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Eric Gagne, Mike Timlin, Manny Delcarmen and Javier Lopez are in the bullpen with Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Curt Schilling handling the starting duties.

One other notable exclusion was Julian Tavarez.  Too bad b/c he was fairly helpful earlier in the season and provides endless entertainment..

A few additional notes:

It’ll be Beckett, Matsuzaka and Schilling for a rotation.  That means Schilling only once in this series.

GAME 1: ANGELS @ RED SOX 10/3, 6:30 PM ET

GAME 2: ANGELS @ RED SOX 10/5, 8:30 PM ET

GAME 3: RED SOX @ ANGELS 10/7, 3:00 PM ET

GAME 4: RED SOX @ ANGELS 10/8, 9:30 PM ET

GAME 5: ANGELS @ RED SOX 10/10, 8:30 PM ET

ESPN weighs in on the Red Sox.  They also weigh in on the series itself.  ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian tries to answer some questions.  CNNSI’s Tom Verducci gives his take on the AL playoffs.  FoxSports Ken Rosenthal gives us his Red Sox/Angels preview.

Don’t forget to vote in our poll below.

We Have Playoff Times

MLB has announced the starting time for the Yankees and Red Sox series and let’s just say they are weird. 

The Yankees will play at 6:30 on Thursday, the middle game of the day, 5pm on Friday (1st game of the day), 6:30pm on Sunday (3rd game of the day), 6pm Monday (1st game) and 5pm Wednesday (1st game) This makes sense because they will try and put the Boston series later in the day since they are playing a west coast team.


Boston plays 6:30pm Wednesday (middle game), 8:30pm Friday (late game), 3pm Sunday (2nd game), 9:30pm Monday (late game), 8:30pm Wedneday (late game) I suspect they play earlier than the Yankees on Sunday because the Jets play the Giants in New York on Sunday and TBS wants to avoid putting the Yankees on at the same time.

And, for those of you in the NYC area, good news, TBS HD will be available with most cable providers.   

The Year That Was

In March, I think most of us would have said 95 wins would be the minimum needed to get to the playoffs in 2007 and we were almost dead on. The Red Sox won 96 which took the division, ditto Cleveland and the Yankees and Angels won 94 which got them into the playoffs too. We will reflect on all of that later, but for now, let’s review 2007.

Let’s start with the biggest surprises and I think you have to say there are three big ones, Posada, A-Rod and Joba. Let’s start with the hitters, if you thought A-Rod would turn in the best offensive season by a Yankee in 50 years and Posada would turn in one of the best ever offensive seasons by a catcher over 35, you should head to Vegas. What that duo did is amazing and as impressive as A-Rod’s year was it overshadowed an amazing one by Posada. Jorge hit .338 and his OBP and SLG%’s were career highs. That doesn’t usually happen at 35 and the Yankees have to be careful when negotiating a new deal with him.

Joba came literally out of nowhere and transformed the bullpen. I wasn’t a fan of the move at the time and boy was I wrong. Let’s just hope the Yankees are smart enough to put the kid back into the rotation next year.

Disappointments? Well Carl Pavano’s continued fragility comes to mind, but let’s put Kei Igawa at the top of that list. It certainly looks like the Yankees threw away the $26 million posting fee, but maybe they can trade him in the offseason. Giambi and Damon had bad years and Kyle Farnsworth continues to underwhelm.

Big kudos have to go to Torre and Cashman for getting this team to the playoffs. Torre deserves huge credit for keeping a steady hand throughout an awful start and refusing to panic. 2007 showed that Cashman’s rebuilding of the farm system is real and he wisely chose to stand pat at the trade deadline. The Yankees are still not a young team, but Cashman has at least made it plausible that the Yankees will rebuild on the fly.

So, 94-68 and a 13th-straight playoff spot. Now the real fun starts.

ALDS – Angels @ Red Sox

It’s set in stone, the Red Sox will host the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Southern California Pacific Valley Disneyland Tinseltown Orange County (or LAAASCPVDTOC for short).

Here’s the schedule:

Wednesday Oct 3 @ Boston (Beckett vs. Lackey)

Friday Oct 5 @ Boston



Wednesday Oct 10 @ Boston

The Red Sox secured the best record record in baseball on Saturday and thus were awarded the 8-day series (vs. the 7 day series the Yanks/Indians will be playing).  This means the Red Sox can trot out their # 1 (Beckett) and # 2 (probably Schilling) starters twice in the ALDS.

2 days rest can only do good things for people like David Ortiz (cortisone shot on Saturday), Kevin Youkilis, Coco Crisp, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Manny Ramirez and the rest of the crew that has bumps and bruises.  The Angels are saying the same thing of course.

Some interesting stats from the regular season:

.324 BA Mike Lowell

.317 BA Dustin Pedroia

.332 BA David Ortiz

.279 Red Sox team average good for 6th place tie

.362 Red Sox team OBP good for 2nd (behind NYY)

.444 Red Sox team SLG good for 6th

166 HR for Red Sox good for (are you ready for this) 18th best in ML (Milwaukee Brewers # 1 with 231).

867 runs good for 4th behind NYY, Phi and Det

689 walks good for 1st

3.87 ERA, good for 1st in AL, 2nd in ML.

1149 K’s for Red Sox pitching staff good for 6th

13 shutouts good for 2nd (San Diego had 20!)

1350 hits allowed good for 2nd

All team stats/rankings are for ML unless otherwise noted.

Red Sox – 2007 AL East Division Champs

The Red Sox broke a 13 year death grip on the AL East title tonight.  Good for them.

For those local, it was an interesting experience via NESN.  The Red Sox won at 9:50 pm or so and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Yankees at 10:57 pm.  Red Sox fans stayed at Fenway to watch the Orioles/Yankees game on the big screen for over an hour (as did many at home).  NESN didn’t have the rights to the O’s/Yanks game, so they showed the crowds (in both Fenway and the clubhouse) and provided game updates after each at bat.  Tom Caron and NESN cameras probably broke MLB’s TV rules against "redistribution" by showing TV’s and scoreboards showing the actual game.

It was a great scene.  The only negative, and it was a light hearted, yet scaring negative, was when the NESN cameras went into the Red Sox clubhouse to watch the celebration.  Jonathan Papelbon decided to prepare for the event by wearing very little below the belt.  He must have known the NESN camera’s were there as well as the NESN reporters.  I guess he just wanted to make a statement.  I’m not sure I will recover from that sight.

I didn’t see Manny Ramirez at all during the celebration which leads me to believe he hightailed it home right after the game not realizing there was a chance to clinch.

Of course we needn’t focus on the disturbing, but rather the fact the Red Sox did indeed hold on and didn’t blow a 14 game lead.  A fun night for the Red Sox and a great issue to have settled with 2 regular season games left.

A Case For Hughes

I think it is safe to say that Hughes is back to the form we glimpsed in early May and while I know it won’t happen, Joe Torre should really think about using him as a playoff starter.

We know what Mike Mussina is at this point, he is a pitcher who when he is on can pitch six innings or so of effective baseball. Hughes has a much higher upside and he could take over a game and dominate it. I guess we might see that if Clemens can’t go, but my suspicion is that Cleveland would select the longer ALDS format and therefore the Yankees will need only three starters in Round 1.

Interesting conversation between Sterling and Waldman tonight speculating on the playoff roster. They felt that the Yankees would take only 11 pitchers and include Sardinha on the roster. The 11 pitchers were: Wang, Pettitte, Clemens, Mussina, Hughes, Rivera, Joba, Viz, Farnsworth with the final two spots coming from Villone, Ohlendorf or Veras. Based on how he was used and how he performed tonight, I would bet Veras is in the lead right now. They also said that Kennedy won’t pitch in the first round, but might be used in later rounds if the Yankees get there. He will travel with the team except presumably October 6th, when he is due to be married.

I will check in tomorrow night with some observations from down the thirdbase line at Camden Yards.

Here’s An Interesting One

Of interest to both Yankees and Red Sox fans should be the playoff scenarios in the NL. You could have the ultimate tie-breaker with five teams ending up with the same record. (New York, Philadelphia, Arizona, San Diego, Colorado) If so, you would have tiebreaking games starting Monday and ending Thursday. Since both NLDS’s are scheduled to start Wednesday, would baseball move the ALDS to those dates? It would be a pretty wild situation, but it is pretty amazing that with four games left, not one team in the NL has clinched a playoff spot.

The Clincher!

I remember being thrilled in 1995 that the Yanees took the wild card because it meant I would finally see Don Mattingly in the playoffs.  1996 made the ’97 wild card seem cheap, but this one is very special to me.  Special because I didn’t think we would ever see it.  21-29 and left for dead, Chase Wright, Matt DeSalvo and 50 starts by rookies during the year, Shelly Duncan, Hughes’ hamstring, Joba and now this. I can’t remember a season like this and once again we can look forward to October. 

Give Joe Torre a lot of credit for this.  Just like Bob Lemon in 1978, Torre provided the right demeanor for this team to thrive.  I don’t know what will happen to Joe, but if this is it, he went out on a high note, no matter what happens from here.  But, that’s for another day, for tonight just sit back and enjoy.