Monday, October 29, 2007

2007 Champs! 2008 Champs?

The Red Sox have won the 2007 World Series! Thank goodness my preseason picks were so spectacularly wrong! My sincere congrats go out to the Beantown boys, but what kind of a Boston fan would I be if I wasn't already thinking about next year?

First things first: baseball is a fickle, fickle sport. Anything I write here can be nullified in heartbeat due to injuries, trades, or what-have-you. That said, I have to say that on paper the Red Sox are looking pretty damn good for next year. Considering that this year's roster (with some tweaks along the way) was good enough to bring the trophy back to Boston, and also the fact that almost all of those key pieces will be returning next year, 2008 looks to be just as special a year as was 2007. Compared to this past off-season, the Sox will have almost no holes to fill in the roster, but there will still be plenty of matters of discussion this winter.

1. Who will play third base?
This is the biggest question for next year, the answer of which could perhaps have the biggest affect on the 2008 roster of any move the front office makes this winter. Mike Lowell made a big name for himself on the big stage in his contract year, and as a result he looks to make some big money. Despite (or perhaps because of) the presence of of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in front of him in the lineup, it was Lowell who had the most production for Boston this season with his career-high 120 RBI. If it weren't for that other AL East third-baseman, Lowell would probably be named the AL MVP, but I'm pretty sure he'll take his World Series MVP award quite happily while A-Rod sits at home with his hardware. Theo Epstein has said that he can't see the Sox not re-signing Lowell, but that will really be up to big Mike himself as he stands to make himself a lot of cash on the market. And speaking of A-Rod, the Yankees third baseman and likely 2007 AL MVP has announced that he will indeed opt out of his ginormous contract with the Yankees (of which the Texas Rangers were still paying a sizable chunk of his contract), and he stands to break his own unbelievably high record contract this winter. The Yankees, meanwhile, have said that should Rodriguez opt out of his contract they will not pursue the free agent. Who else besides the Yankees could afford A-Rod? Mayyyyybe the Angels. Clearly the Red Sox. And, um, that's about it. So the way I see it, the third baseman for Boston next year is bound to be either Lowell or A-Rod. Or let me put it this way: if the Red Sox fail to sign either Lowell or A-Rod, it will be seen as a huge failure by the front office to fill that hole over at third base. That is unless they make some spectacular deal for a David Wright or a Miguel Cabrera. That's not to say that the Sox couldn't sign both Lowell and A-Rod either. I have my suspicions that the Sox may trade Manny Ramirez (more on that later) and I could definitely see A-Rod playing left field. It's not that far fetched. He's made a position change before, and plenty of infielders have successfully moved to the outfield (see Robin Yount, Pete Rose, Alfonso Soriano). The biggest obstacle to that scenario would probably be the money being put forth by the Red Sox rather than Rodriguez having to change positions. But a Boston boy can dream about a lineup that goes Ortiz-ARod-Lowell with names like Yooooooooouk, Pedroia, and Ellsbury sprinkled in for good measure.

2. Manny being Manny in...Anaheim? or New York? or Elsewhere?
How could I think that the Red Sox would trade the beloved Manny Ramirez away from his fans in Boston. The front office would never think of it! Oh wait...they've thought about it just about every off-season and trading deadline since Ramirez came to Boston. And Manny has requested a trade just as many times. Manny had a down-year, but was spectacular down the stretch and in the playoffs, which will add a lot to his trade value. There's also the fact that in the current market, the twenty million Manny will make next year is a lot, but not unreasonable for a player of his caliber. The Angels lacked a huge bat in their lineup to protect Vladimir Guerrero this season, and they have lots of talent to trade and a comparably large budget to work with. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Manny go to the Anaheim... or is it Los Angeles? Whatever. Other teams that the Sox could work with are New York (the Mets, not the Yankees silly!), Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis, Texas, or Houston. This scenario bumps up about ten notches in likelihood if the Sox do indeed manage to sign Alex Rodriguez, as A-Rod will more than provide the ever-needed protection for Big Papi in the lineup. For years Ortiz and Manny have been known as the best 3-4 combination in baseball, but one would be hard pressed to argue that Ortiz and A-Rod wouldn't be even better.

3. Starting rotation: talented youth or... old, fat, and full of douche-baggery?
Will Curt Schilling be a bloody Red Sox next season? For God's sake, let's hope not. Those one of you who actually read this blog know that I'm simply not a fan. Sure he's had a great career, best post-season blah, ultimate blah blah blah, but let's face facts and just admit that this guy's a gigantic douche. He seems to think the Sox owe him a contract for next season, but it appears as if Boston holds all the leverage in this case. They have the likely Cy Young award winner in Josh Beckett to fill the number one slot, a Daisuke Matsuzaka who is sure to improve on his drastically underrated 2007 season, a Tim Wakefield that always seems to win 14+, Jon Lester who is back from chemotherapy with a vengeance and just happened to win the clinching game of the World Series, and oh yea a kid that threw a no-hitter but didn't manage to make the post-season roster in Clay Buchholz. Guys like Julian Tavarez and Kyle Snyder can capably spot-start, and minor leaguers like Davern Hansack, David Pauley, and Abe Alvarez can fill in in the event of an injury. And I still wouldn't be surprised to see the Sox pick up another starter (probably a veteran free agent) this winter. Curt Schilling is fat and out of shape. He proved that with his injury plagued 2007. When he came off the DL he was suddenly this "changed" pitcher, which basically just meant that he threw his fastball at 89 instead of 94. He can't make it through a whole season in the pressure packed and fastball-smashing AL East with that kind of stuff. If he does pitch in 2008 it will probably be in the National League. Maybe a reunion with Randy Johnson in Arizona? Stranger things have happened.

4. Better years for the new guys?
Much of the reason I feel that the 2008 Red Sox are going to be as good or better than the 2007 World Champs is that I'm a firm believer in the idea that new guys to a team get better in their second year. We all saw it with Josh Beckett and even Mike Lowell. Most ball players with successful track records (like J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo, and Daisuke Matsuzaka) don't simply become mediocre players while they're still in their prime. I see Drew's RBI numbers, Lugo's batting average, and Dice-K's ERA improving by leaps and bounds in their second years in Boston. It makes sense. The AL East is a pressure cooker, and Boston is right in the middle of the pan (does that analogy make sense?). It takes some getting used to. But now these guys know what to expect and what's expected of them, and they all showed some flashed of brilliance at some point in the season. We may even see some improvement from Coco Crisp, though that might be difficult with Johnny Damon II AKA Jacoby Ellsbury knocking on/down the door.

5. The Bullpen
There honestly isn't too much to discuss here, because it was the best bullpen in baseball in 2007 and there's no reason to think it won't be in 2008. One guy who isn't on a lot of people's radars and who I think is primed for a huge year is Manny Delcarmen. Shuttling back and forth from Pawtucket can make a player (especially a pitcher) uncomfortable, and I think Delcarmen is ready to turn heads in his first full year. He's throws some heat and has a mean curveball, and had an ERA under 3.00 this season. Another guy I think will have a huge impact on next year's bullpen is also gonna surprise some: Eric Gagne. Simply put, the Sox are NOT going to re-sign him. Addition by subtraction, hurrah! Face it: Boston won the World Series, so trading for Gagne was not such a disaster as a lot of people thought. Theo Epstein even said on the day of the trade that a big factor in making the deal with Texas was the compensation draft picks the Sox would gain by not signing Gagne at the end of the year. Again, they won the Series, so I can't argue with his logic.

6. Miscellany
Gabe Kaplar will try to make a comeback next year, and I'm sure the front office wouldn't mind signing him to perhaps fill the roster spot vacated by Bobby Kielty this winter. --- Terry Francona ought to have his contract extended, as he's now won two World Championships in his four years as manager. He stands to make a lot of money, and Luchino and company better not hesitate to give it to him. --- Doug Mirabelli's contract is up. Will the Sox re-sign him or let him go away and then panic and trade away half the bullpen to get him back when George Kottaras can't catch Tim Wakefield's knuckleball? --- Josh Beckett is the man. So is Jonathan Papelbon. Together, they are the men.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Today in Baseball: 5/30/2007

-Former Sox prospect Shoppach goes deep against his old team. The big story in this Indians-Red Sox game was no longer Trot Nixon's return to Fenway, it was former catching prospect Kelly Shoppach's. The backstop put together four hits, including a solo homerun off of lefty reliever J.C. Romero.

-Jays don't like A-Rod's bush-league tactics. Rodriguez allegedly shouted "mine" into the ear of Toronto third baseman Howie Clark (which the rookie took to mean one of his teammates had a better bead on a Jorge Posada pop-up). Clark gave up on the ball, which fell in for an infield single.

-Johnson defeats Moyer in battle of the lefties. In the oldest lefty matchup in baseball history, Johnson (43) threw six innings with six strikeouts and didn't allow a run. Moyer (44) went 7.2 strong but allowed four runs to score and took the loss.

-'Roid-busted Mota returns to Mets after serving 50 days. The reliever was generally supported in the clubhouse and received a mixed reaction from the crowd at Shea Stadium. "I feel terrible and I promise this is the first and last time that this will happen," he said. "I am determined to prove to you that this was one mistake."

Photo and Video Source:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Okajima more of a stopper than Rivera?

An interesting stat from "Does anything sum up the 2007 edition of the rivalry better than this? Neither Papelbon nor Mariano Rivera have missed any time due to injury this season, yet the Red Sox's backup closer now has more saves (four) than the Yankees' future Hall of Famer (three)." Meanwhile, Papelbon boasts of 13 saves, good for fifth in the American League, though he has the lowest ERA (1.86) of anyone else in the top five.

Today in Baseball: 5/29/2007

-Benitez balks off, Delgado walks off. With Jose Reyes on and the Mets down a run in the bottom of the twelfth inning, Giants' closer Armando Benitez balked twice, bringing Reyes home and tying the game. Carlos Delgado then handed Benitez a loss to go along with his blown save with his walk-off homer.

-Hill steals home against struggling Yanks. "We mentioned that if a situation came up, a guy on third, obviously [Pettitte] has his back to us," Hill said. "It was just the right place at the right time, I guess." The Blue Jays went on to win the game 3-2.

-Wayne Drehs wonders if Bonds is a target. The columnist wrote this story about the possible danger Barry Bonds faces as he approaches the hallowed home run record held by Hank Aaron. "This is our national pastime," said Calvin Wardlaw, one of Aaron's bodygaurds during the seventies. "It's not like Hank or Barry is at war with something or someone. This is just a game. But when you have a stadium full of people and emotions are running high, you never know. And in my line of work, you fear the unknown."

-Beckett back, Youk still here. The Red Sox extended their winning streak to five games and moved to 11.5 games above the Orioles behind a dominant performance by newly-returned Josh Beckett (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 SO) and the continued hitting of Kevin Youkilis, who has made himself a shoe-in for Player of the Month with his 21-game hitting streak and nine consecutive multi-hit games. The Sox defeated the Indians 4-2.
Photo and video sources: and

Monday, May 28, 2007

Today in Baseball: 5/28/2007

So as you can tell, I've been slacking on Today in Baseball for the last couple of days. Part of that is the nice weather otherwise employing my time, and another part of that is the fact that my rather lengthy entries for T.I.B. make it somewhat of a chore that I was quick to hate doing every day. That's why I've decided to shorten the length of the posts for T.I.B., while at the same time including more content and possibly introducing a weekly column that will go into further analytic detail on all the most interesting stories of the week. As you might be able to tell, I'm still working out some kinks in balancing being a blogger and a mildly productive member of the real world; if anyone has any tips to make it easier for me, I'd be happy to hear them.

-Clemens improves upon his last minor-league appearance. Pitching against the Toledo Mud-Hens, the Rocket went six innings deep, striking out six batters while walking just two and allowing no runs.

-Sox defeat Tribe in Trot's return to Fenway. Curt Schilling (5-2, 3.68 ERA) was at a season best, striking out ten Indians and allowing just one run. Nixon was 1-3 with an RBI, while rising star Kevin Youkilis had two hits, including an inside-the-park homerun.

-Jones reaches milestone in Braves win. Breaking out of a season-long slump, Andruw Jones powered Atlanta to a 2-1 victory over Milwaukee with his 350th career homerun.

-Former A's pitcher Saarloos can't get it done in Cincinnati. After not retiring a single batter for the Reds in his last outing, Saarloos was sent down to the Triple-A Bats to get some more work out of the bullpen in the minor leagues.

-Just cut by Atlanta, Redman signs with Texas. Mark Redman (0-4, 11.63 ERA) was a 2006 MLB All-Star, but will begin pitching for the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma this week.

-Beckett to return tomorrow. Josh Beckett (7-0, 2.66 ERA) will make his first start for the Red Sox since he went on the DL after the avulsion on his middle finger which accounted for his first non-win of the season on May 13th.

-It's Cash, not Torre who should be worried. "He's on a big hook," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner told the Associated Press of General Manager Brian Cashman. "He wanted sole authority. He got it. Now he's got to deliver." After tonight's loss to the Jays, the Yankees sit at 12 games back of the Sox in the AL East.

->Youk was ecstatic after his inside- the-park homerun, the first by a Red Sox since Trot Nixon's in 2005. Photo courtesy of

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Today in Baseball: 5/25/2007

Clemens headed to triple-A, Daisuke overcomes stomach ailment to nail seventh win, Late bats battle in Dodgers victory

As expected, a decision has been made regarding Roger Clemens' next appearance after his bullpen session today, but it's not the decision that many Yankee fans were hoping for. The Rocket will make his next start not for the big club, but as another tuneup start in the minors, this time with the triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Clemens' scheduled start after the triple-A appearance would put him against the Red Sox in Fenway, but the five day schedule would run him into Mike Mussina's start against Boston. Therefore manager Joe Torre has not debunked the idea of pushing the Rocket back to make his first major league start this season against the White Sox in the following series. Poor Dice-K. He's definitely a great pitcher, but apparently American food is proving too much for his stomach. In his start today against the Rangers Matsuzaka had to repeatedly return to the clubhouse to...well, we won't discuss what he was doing here, but you can use your imagination. The guy had a belly-ache, but he gutted it out against a powerful Rangers offense that scored five runs off of him in the fourth inning, but couldn't hold on to a one run lead for very long, as the Sox came back to score two runs in the fifth inning and eventually won the game 10-6. When the box score reads of two blown saves and one successful save, you know that there was a crazy game to be seen in the late innings. Such was the case in Los Angeles, as the Cubs scored seven runs in the seventh inning against the Dodgers to ruin Derek Lowe's chances for a win, but L.A. came back with four runs of their own in the eighth and Takashi Saito recorded the save as the Dodgers clawed to a 9-8 victory.

Photo Source:

Friday, May 25, 2007

Today in Baseball: 5/24/2007

Smoltzy takes win number 200 and holds Glavine to 295

Keeping it short and sweet today; I got in pretty late tonight and have to work pretty early tomorrow. Still though, I can't ignore John Smoltz making history today by becoming the first pitcher ever with 200 wins and 150 saves. Smoltz did the deed against his friend and former teammate Tom Glavine of the Mets, who is working on his own milestone of 300 wins. Smoltz went seven strong and didn't allow a run, holding the destructive Mets offense to just seven hits. "It's pretty neat," Smoltz said after the game. "It's just a number. But it's a nice number and I think everybody contributed in an incredible way." Other notables: Lester goes five strong in Pawtucket, Ichiro goes 3-6 in 1000th game.

Uploaded by cereardon

Video Source:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Today in Baseball: 5/23/2007

Jeter passes DiMaggio in Yanks win, Clemens faces Futures of Fenway, Giambi tests positive

For the first time in "Today in Baseball" history, one team (the New York Yankees) have taken the trifecta of notable headlines. I'm on the fence as to whether that's a good or a bad thing. You woulda thunk that the first team to garner this great honor would have been the Red Sox, but the Evil Empire is just so damn newsworthy. Oh well, on with the show. In compiling a list of the top ten baseball players of all time, any knowledgeable writer would be remiss to forget Joe DiMaggio, the Yankees legend who in his thirteen seasons in New York had a monstrous 2214 hits, which was until today good for fifth on the Yankees' all-time hits list. With his third hit in today's win against the Red Sox, Derek Jeter logged career hit number 2216, sliding past DiMaggio into fifth on the all-time list. Next comes the fourth slot, which is currently owned by Jeter's former teammate Bernie Williams at 2336. The all-time Yankees' hit leader is Lou Gherig with his 2721. At just 31 years old, however, Jeter is well on his way to passing that record and perhaps become the first ball-player to log 3000 hits in Yankee pinstripes. It may be a few years before Roger Clemens sees the batters he faced today in any kind of Major League action (that is, if he makes it that long in his already extended Hall-of-Fame career), but it still amounted to an interesting match-up as the Rocket threw 102 pitches against Red Sox double-A affiliate the Portland SeaDogs. Facing one of the top Sox prospects in Clay Buchholz, Clemens got the win by a slim margin by going 5.1 innings while giving up six hits and three runs. Buchholz actually had a better outing than did Clemens, going six strong innings and allowing just two runs on seven hits. He struck out eight batters to Clemens' five. The Trenton Thunder won the game 4-3 after a blown save by SeaDog Michael James. Said Yankees manager after Clemens' performance: "Throwing 102 pitches, I guess his legs must be under him. That's really what he was waiting for. If he feels he's ready to come with us and start pitching for us, we're ready to have him." Clemens said that he won't be sure if he'll be ready to start against the Blue Jays next week until after his bullpen session on Friday. The connections between Jason Giambi and performance-enhancing drugs just never end. After he opened his mouth about his steroid-abusing past, leading to an investigation by the MLB commissioner's office, now the New York Daily News is reporting that the Giambino has recently failed a rest for amphetamines, which just became part of MLB's drug testing policy last season. A first failed test for amphetamines bears no suspensions or fines and is supposed to be kept private (though he will be subject to up to six additional tests throughout the season), but it's possible that the information was leaked by the commissioner's office in response to Giambi's recent comments about his previous steroid use. A player who fails the amphetamine test for a second time is subject to a 25-game suspension.

Photo Sources: and

It's just Manny being... well... weird.

Awe, isn't this cute? The homo-erotic saga between Julian Tavarez and Manny Ramirez continues. First Tavarez was passing notes from Ramirez to the media during spring training, and now Manny is having some fun giving Tavarez a nice little head-rub in the dugout.

Source: Towleroad

Today in Baseball: 5/22/2007

Tavarez pitches himself a birthday "W", Griffey and Sosa inch closer to 600, Davies does it all in Atlanta win

It was the big 3-4 for Red Sox pitcher Julian Tavarez, and what better way to celebrate than to put up a big 3-4 (three hits and four walks, that is) in a victory for Boston over the ailing Yankees? On a day when Boston pitchers walked eight Yankees, New York was unable to capitalize and managed to push across just three runs, while the Sox stung Mike Mussina for ten hits and seven runs. Manny Ramirez and Mike Lowell each homered, while Boston's surprise relief phenom Hideki Okajima walked two and allowed his first run since he threw his first pitch in the major leagues (which was a homerun for Kansas City catcher John Buck). While Barry Bonds chases the most elusive record in all of sports, two other sluggers are approaching a milestone currently achieved by just four hitters in major league history. Both Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa inched closer to the 600 home-run club today, but neither player could help his team to a victory. Griffey knocked in number 573 and moved to eighth on the all-time list, tied with Harmon Killebrew, but Reds reliever Jon Coutlangus cinched the loss by serving up a eighth inning grand slam to Washington's Felipe Lopez. In Texas, the Rangers have been hot at the plate for the last couple of days, but there's nothing that will put a stop to a hitting streak quite like the best pitcher in the league. Sammy Sosa accounted for the only run against Twins southpaw Johan Santana with his 598th career long-ball, a solo shot in the second inning. The Rangers went on to strike out 18 times in the game (13 against Santana) and allow the Twins to score seven runs, good for a loss in Arlington. It's not everyday that a pitcher bats in more runs than he allows, but that's just what Braves right-hander Kyle Davies did in today's 8-1 win over the Mets. Davies not only pitched a gem, giving up just one run on six hits in an eight inning effort, he also blasted a three run homer off of Mets reliever Aaron Sele in the sixth inning.

Video Source: