March 31, 2006

Ortiz Extension? Not Yet

Earlier today, ESPNdeportes reported that David Ortiz had agreed on a four-year contract extension for $50 million. A story posted to ESPN says "a family member" broke the news.

Gordon Edes talked to Ortiz and reports that it's not true, although the team and Tiz continue to have what Theo Epstein called "quiet discussions".

To date, Ortiz (now 30 years old) has been one of the best bargains in baseball history:
2003 $1,250,000 .288 .369 .592
2004 $4,587,500 .301 .380 .603
2005 $5,250,000 .300 .397 .604
2006 $6,500,000
2007 $7,700,000 (club option)
Plus he's 1-for-1 in stealing bases with Boston!

If an extension like this is signed -- and there is no way the team will let Ortiz walk -- it would include the 2010 season, at which time Ortiz will be 34. This seems more than reasonable. Hell, a face-of-the-franchise superstar in his early 30s -- a huge asset both on and off the field -- is someone you can overpay (though I'm not sure this even qualifies as overpaying).

You could think of it as the team showing some good faith and giving Ortiz some of the money he "declined" when he signed that two-year extension for a measly $12.5 in May 2004. God knows how much more dough he'd command as a free agent at the end of 2007 (what do you think the MFY would offer?).

No Bigger Quest Since King Arthur's Days

Kelsie Smith of the Globe has an excellent feature on Bill James ("I work by obsession rather than by discipline"). The Globe also printed most of John Henry's initial email (August 2002) to James. In part:
We're engaged in this epic, long-term battle/saga with the New York Yankees. We are determined to achieve what no long-suffering, die-hard Red Sox fan believes can actually happen. Wherever we go across the nation, Red Sox fans come out in large numbers. They're all waiting to be delivered. It's not an exaggeration. Short of war, there has not been a bigger quest since King Arthur's days. We've joined together, we're having a lot of fun and it's just beginning here.

Perhaps there is a way to fulfill your mission in baseball beyond the significant achievements you have already attained.
Excellent sales pitch, since James insists that Kansas City fans hate the Yankees more than Red Sox fans.

Dustan Mohr will report to Pawtucket: "I want to be a Red Sox. I intend to be a Red Sox. I don't expect to be in Pawtucket all year or for a lengthy amount of time." ... Infield prospect Jed Lowrie will be writing an online journal of his 2006 season. ... Click here for the Globe's baseball preview section, with several articles on how the team evaluates young players and a look at many of its top prospects.

Matt Clement's start on Tuesday wasn't pretty (5.1-6-6-3-6), but he's very optimistic: "To me, that was the first time I thought I threw like I want to throw since I've been in a Red Sox uniform. I was very happy. I threw my sinker and slider, and I can't remember throwing too many bad sinkers the whole night, and commanding it to right-handers ... I'm a different pitcher than I was at any point last year."

Bronson Arroyo pitched seven shutout innings against the Sox yesterday, allowing only three hits and retiring 16 straight batters at one point. He received a loud and lengthy ovation from the Sox fans at City of Palms Park. Tim Wakefield's line in the game: 4-2-1-1-3. He finished the spring with a 2.50 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 18 innings.

Toronto infielders Aaron Hill and Russ Adams were married this week -- sort of.

Lineups and 25-Man Roster

Terry Francona's likely lineups:
vs RHPs              vs LHPs
Crisp CF Crisp CF
Loretta 2B Loretta 2B
Ortiz DH Ortiz DH
Ramirez LF Ramirez LF
Nixon RF Varitek C
Varitek C Lowell 3B
Lowell 3B Pena RF
Youkilis/Snow 1B Youkilis 1B
Gonzalez SS Gonzalez SS
I'd like to think that "Youkilis/Snow" at first against RHP means that when Snow plays first, Youkilis will occasionally remain in the lineup and move over to third. Maybe it just means that when Snow starts, it'll only be against righties. Thankfully, Francona has said Yook will be the regular starter.

And although it will change in the next few weeks -- as David Wells comes off the DL when the Sox need a 5th starter and Adam Stern fulfills his Rule V obligations (and can then be sent to Pawtucket) -- but here is the Opening Day roster:

SP:
Schilling, Wakefield, Beckett, Clement
RP:
DiNardo, Riske, Seanez, Tavarez, Timlin, Papelbon, Foulke
Lineup:
Crisp, Loretta, Ortiz, Ramirez, Nixon, Varitek, Lowell, Youkilis, Gonzlaez
Bench:
Bard, Cora, Snow, Pena, Stern
However, Tavarez was suspended (for the 6th time) for 10 days, which will take effect on April 3. No word on if he will appeal.

March 28, 2006

Tavarez + Sox/Rays = Trouble

One day after Josh Beckett nearly brawled with Ryan Howard, Julian Tavarez punched Tampa's Joey Gathright in the face on a tag play at the plate.

Gathright challenged Tavarez to a fight in the parking lot after the game (the Sox pitcher did not accept) and said he "hits like a woman".

Tavarez says he's not a fighting guy: "Look how calm I am. I'm a very calm person. But when we're on the field, little things go south. All my troubles I've had in the major leagues have been on the field, but in the clubhouse I'm cool with everybody." ... Two lists of the highly-strung pitcher's outbursts. ... The teams play each other in about a month (April 28).

Re Beckett/Howard, Phillies starter Cory Lidle: "Everyone I've ever talked to who has played with Josh Beckett says no one likes him. And that's why."

Making his third appearance in four days, Keith Foulke pitched a perfect sixth against Tampa -- he's retired all nine batters he has faced this spring. His fastball was been clocked at 85-86 mph and his changeup was at 74 mph. ... Hee-Seop Choi walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and Boston won the game 12-11.

David Wells will start the season on the disabled list. Sean McAdam explains:
Wells, who was initially going to pitch Saturday in Philadelphia, will instead throw in a minor-league game here this weekend. A player can't be back-dated on the disabled list if he appears in a game in which admission is charged. By having him pitch in a minor-league game, the Red Sox will be able to place him on the DL retroactive to today, and have him eligible to come off in time to make his first start of the season on April 12. Wells will ... make an April 7 start at [Pawtucket].
Tony Graffanino was claimed off waivers by the Royals (the team that traded him to the Red Sox eight months ago). ... Hanley Ramirez won the Marlins' shortstop job.

MLB.com's Top 50 Prospects

MLB polled 23 scouts and ranked the prospects with #1 getting 30 points, #2 getting 29, etc. Each prospect's cumulative score is in parentheses.

Top 5
1 Delmon Young, OF, Devil Rays  (659)
2 Jeremy Hermida, OF, Marlins (596)
3 Brandon Wood, SS, Angels (563)
4 Francisco Liriano, LHP, Twins (532)
5 Justin Verlander, RHP, Tigers (452
)
Red Sox/Yankees in Top 50 (all pitchers!):

18 Jon Lester, LHP, Red Sox (205)
The first of a trio of Red Sox arms on this list, Lester has ace potential. His stuff could get big league hitters out now, but Boston's depth should give him a year in Triple-A.
23 Jonathan Papelbon, RHP, Red Sox (117)
There's nothing more challenging than a pennant race in Boston to test a prospect's mettle, and Pap passed with flying colors. He's back in the Sox' pen in 2006; hopefully, he hasn't pigeon-holed himself as a reliever.
30 Philip Hughes, RHP, Yankees (96)
Hughes jumps onto the fast track this season with a leap up to Double-A. It's not out of the question he'll see the Bronx by September, then challenge for a rotation spot next spring.
44 Craig Hansen, RHP, Red Sox (51)
On just about any other team, Hansen breaks camp with the big league club. Now he'll close for Pawtucket and wait for the call. He should at least get some time in before hitting it big in 2007.
Other rankings: Andy Marte #11, Hanley Ramirez #25 and Anabel Sanchez #43.

March 27, 2006

Predictions - Baseball Annuals












Stuff from the pre-season magazines:

Street and Smith's

East: Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Devil Rays, Orioles
AL Playoffs: Yankees, White Sox, Angels plus Athletics
NL Playoffs: Atlanta, Cardinals, Giants plus Mets
World Series: Angels over Cardinals
MVPs: Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols
Cy Youngs: Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez

Dan Graziano of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote the AL East intro. New York's pitching staff is "a mixture of young talent and veteran savvy. ... The questions in New York are about age, but until guys like Johnson and Rivera prove they can't do it anymore, it's unwise to bet against them."

As for Toronto, an improved staff and Troy Glaus's bat "combined with Boston's disintegration" will lift the Jays into second place. Graziano dubs the Red Sox "Team Turmoil" and an organization that "continued to gut the core" of the 2004 team.

[Yeah, we shoulda kept that 2004 roster around forever. Any idea what Millar's OPS would be at age 58? ... Doesn't anyone remember all the talk about how "the window" was closing with that group of players and the Sox had better win in 2003 or 2004 or else?]

Graziano says the best thing that happened to the Yankees over the winter "may have been the disarray in which the rival Red Sox found themselves." Boston's four-page preview (which was written before the Crisp deal) ends: "The 2006 Red Sox could be good enough to hold off the improved Blue Jays for second place in the division. But it remains to be seen just how good they can be with so many changes."

The Sporting News

TSN includes the predictions of eight staffers. In the East, the Yankees were picked six times, Red Sox two. No one picked an East team for the wild card. Both writers who picked the Sox had them losing in the ALDS. ... No one picked any Boston players for any awards; one guy tabbed Damon as AL MVP.

AL Pennant: Cleveland 4, White Sox 4
NL Pennant: Cardinals 4, Mets 2, Atlanta 1, Cubs 1
World Series: White Sox 3, Cardinals 2, Cleveland 2, Atlanta 1

Overall the TSN Power Poll had the Yankees 2nd (2nd in AL), Toronto 8th (6th in AL) and Boston 10th (7th in AL). The MFY rotation has to "delay a trip to the glue factory for one more year", while Boston's rotation "again is shut-you-down-in-a-series scary. Can the bullpen -- and closer Keith Foulke -- return to lights-out form?" ... Papelbon is one of three "Hotshots to Watch".

Ian Browne of redsox.com wrote the preview, noting correctly that the team has "reloaded with pitching and better defensive players". When they went to press, Youkilis was the leadoff hitter and "TBD" was in center, batting 9th.

Lindy's

East: Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox ("Key additions, key defections keep Red Sox running in place"), Orioles, Devil Rays
MVPs: Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Delgado
Cy Youngs: Johan Santana, Mark Prior
AL Playoffs: Yankees, White Sox, Angels plus Cleveland
NL Playoffs: Atlanta, Cubs, Giants plus Cardinals
World Series: Cubs over Yankees

The Sox preview sings the same tune we've been hearing from the national media: "the front office fell apart and Boston got outflanked in offseason maneuvers. ... [There are] a lot more questions than answers heading into 2006."

Also, possibly anticipating a move to fill the CF gap: "If the team can put together another blockbuster deal before the season, it may right the ship. Otherwise, Boston took a noticeable step back."

Athlon Sports

East: Yankees, Red Sox ("Trying to win with pitching?"), Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Orioles
MVPs: Mark Teixeira (Jeter 2d), Albert Pujols
Cy Youngs: Roy Halladay, Jake Peavy
AL Playoffs: Yankees, White Sox, Athletics plus Angels
NL Playoffs: Atlanta, Cardinals, Giants plus Mets
AL/NLCS: Yankees over White Sox, Cardinals over Atlanta
World Series: Yankees over Cardinals

The Red Sox, having "drastically overhauled" their roster since 2004, are "one of the most difficult teams to handicap" for 2006. ... The Final Analysis (which had Cora and Stern at SS and CF): "[F]or the Sox to win another championship -- or merely make a fourth straight trip to the postseason -- many things must break right. If things do not, the Sox may well finish looking up at both New York and Toronto..."

***

I actually agree with this last statement. But what I have not yet read is that the same could be said about the Yankees. A couple of key injuries and good news for the Sox and Jays could leave the Yankees in third place.

March 26, 2006

Another Perfect Inning For Foulke

More good news for Keith Foulke -- and Red Sox fans.

Foulke pitched another 1-2-3 inning -- this time against the Blue Jays, getting Alex Rios, Aaron Hill and Russ Adams to fly or pop out -- and said it was "an encouraging, positive outing. ... I still think I'm rushing to the plate a little bit. I need to slow it down a little bit more, and I think it will help refine the pitches a little bit more."

Foulke hopes to pitch in three or four more games before the season begins a week from tomorrow. He'll get another inning against Tampa Bay tomorrow.

Josh Beckett pitched well (6-6-2-3-6) against Philadelphia this afternoon -- and nearly got into a fight with Phillies 1B Ryan Howard. ... Craig Hansen threw two shutout innings; in 8.2 innings over nine games this spring, he has not allowed a run. ... Bronson Arroyo, in his Reds debut, allowed 6 runs and 7 hits over 5 innings against the Twins yesterday.

Josh Bard was initially given Doug Mirabelli's #28, but he opted for #77 (he grew up wearing #7). He's also getting more comfortable with Tim Wakefield's knuckleball.

Tony Graffanino has been put on waivers and will likely be traded or released by Wednesday. ... Hee-Seop Choi said he called Byung-Hyun Kim and asked him about Boston; surprisingly, Kim had only good things to say. Choi played with Beckett, Mike Lowell and Alex Gonzalez in Florida and with Alex Cora in Los Angeles.

In the Pawtucket section of his Sunday notes, Gordon Edes says Dustin Pedroia and Alejandro Machado will switch back and forth between second base and shortstop.

There will also be a 25th anniversary celebration on June 23 of Pawtucket's 3-2 win over Rochester -- in 33 innings! The game actually began on April 18, 1981, but was suspended after 32 innings, and finished up in June. Some of the PawSox, including Wade Boggs (4-for-12), Marty Barrett (2-for-12), and Bruce Hurst (5 IP (28th-32nd)) will be on hand for the event. No word if Cal Ripken (one of three players with 15 plate appearances) will attend.
Roch  000 000 100 000 000 000 001 000 000 000 000 - 2 18 3
Pawt 000 000 001 000 000 000 001 000 000 000 001 - 3 21 1
Chicago Cubs pitchers Sean Marshall (4), Angel Guzman (4) and Dave Aardsma (1) threw nine no-hit innings against the Athletics on Saturday, before Oakland's Dan Johnson singled in the 10th. The Cubs won the game 1-0. ... Back on March 14, 2000, Pedro Martinez and five relievers pitched a 5-0 spring training perfect game against Toronto.

March 25, 2006

Everyone Loves A Contest #3

It's that time once again -- to predict the Red Sox's regular season record.

To increase participation over previous years, I am offering (thanks to my own insanity) what I think is a pretty neat prize:
A DVD-R featuring more than 13,000 files from the 2004 season. I'm still gathering stuff from various CDRs, but what it will include is every single Red Sox story (or at least 99.9% of them) from the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Providence Journal, Hartford Courant, Springfield Republican, MLB.com, and many out-of-town papers; stories from the four main New York papers during every MFY series; photos from throughout the year, including many of the World Series parade; and a whole bunch of other off-beat stuff.

There are also more than a dozen video montages made by fans, guaranteed to bring tears of joy to your eyes; some of coolest footage is from the upper deck in St. Louis showing the final out of Game 4. Plus audio files of the WEEI broadcasts of ALCS Games 4-7 and all four World Series games.
To fill out the disc, I'm also including the last few months of the 2003 season (detailing all the Schilling and Slappy drama).

Plus, there will be no tiebreaker this year. Everyone who comes closest to the Red Sox regular season record will win. (Is Franco still out there? He's won both the 2004 and 2005 contests!)

I'll accept emails until noon, April 2 (the day before Opening Day). Email me here.

Edit: Forgot something. Just for fun, also include where you think the Sox will finish. Something like: "1st, 2 GA NY" or "2nd, 4 GB Tor" or "5th, 33 GB TB".

Good luck.

Foulke: 13 Pitches, 10 Strikes, 3 K

Keith Foulke made his spring debut on Friday, striking out all three AAA batters he faced on 13 pitches (10 strikes).

When asked if his first and third strikeouts were on changeups, Foulke snapped: "Were you even watching the game? The first one was a high fastball. There's an ophthalmologist down the street if you need one." Heh.

On his knees:
The knees are good at this point. The knees are a nonfactor. Now it's all about getting my mechanics set. ... My fastball was still a little up in the zone, but I kept them off balance enough. ... [The changeups are] moving down and they're good speed. The hitters react how I wanted them to react -- they didn't react until the last second. That's encouraging to me.
Schilling: "He was phenomenal. That's as good as I've seen him look since October 2004. That's exciting."

In Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Yankees, there were three HBP. In the seventh, JT Snow was hit on the left triceps by Mike Myers. In the bottom of the inning, David Riske hit Derek Jeter in the back with a split-fingered fastball. Then Tanyon Sturtze drilled Mike Lowell in the hip in the top of the eighth.

Tito: "Derek got hit with a split. We knew it, they knew it. He got hit with a split-finger and Lowell gets one in the ribs. I wasn't too pleased with it."

Etc.

Matt Clement is pleased with the resurgence of his sinker: "If I can mix and match and set some things up with it, it could be fun, but I've still got to be consistent with it. ... I can tell by the way a left-hander swings at it. Last year, a left-hander would drive it or wouldn't be fooled by it. Today [Thursday], I got some swings at balls and some rollovers."

As expected, Jonathan Papelbon will start the year in the bullpen. However, Francona said that any spot starts would likely go to someone else (perhaps Lenny DiNardo). When Pap joins the rotation, it'll be for good.

David Wells's surgically repaired right knee feels fine and he thinks several Sox pitchers can win 20 games.

Although Wily Mo Pena (wearing #15) played first base in winter ball, he was told he'll see time only at the three outfield positions.

Hee Seop Choi will begin the season in Pawtucket "barring another move". Theo: We've liked him for a while. We see this as an opportunity to acquire him when his value is down a bit." ... Choi: "I am shocked. ... This is good for me because I want to play a lot. I'll have more chances to play at Boston."

March 24, 2006

Sox Claim Hee Seop Choi

Love it. The Dodgers will have Nomar at first base, so I guess they felt they could throw Choi away for nothing. Bizarre -- since he's still got one minor league option -- but he's ours now.

Another excellent pick-up for little money ($725,000) as the front office just keeps hitting bullseye after bullseye this winter.

Choi put up nice numbers -- .388/.495 in 95 games with Florida -- in 2004 before being traded to Los Angeles. He's good insurance at first base if Snow fizzles or if Yook has to move back to third because Lowell can't get it going. Plus the Sox can stash him away in Pawtucket until the time is right, unless they decide to cut Snow.

Plus: Who does PECOTA list as Choi's most comparable player for this season? ... David Ortiz, 2003. (4th best comp? Travis Hafner, 2004) Love it.

March 21, 2006

Joe Morgan: Worldwide Leader In Idiocy

Japan's 10-6 win over Cuba last night wasn't as exciting as I had hoped, though I was shocked that Cuba pulled its starter after only four batters (a groundout, two infield singles, and a walk).

First, a big Fuck You to ESPN for deciding to show an NIT 2nd round college basketball game instead of the first inning of the WBC Final. (Yes, I know the hoops game went into double OT, but "the worldwide leader in sports" also has more than one channel at its disposal.) Plus, the crawl on my TV stated the start of the game was "delayed by ESPN". That was a lie.

Frustrated, I went to MLB.com (which ran the WBC website) figuring they'd have the game. Nope, they had the ESPN feed. Unbelievable. Just beyond lame ... and yet so, so typical of MLB.

Joe Morgan blabbed his usual blather for nine innings, but it was his "descriptions" of the two teams' playing styles that was the high point of the night for me. Morgan said the Cuban players were "fiery" and "emotional" while the Japanese were "calculating" and "scientific".

Thanks for that "insight", Joe. I'm surprised Morgan didn't call Team Japan "inscrutable" -- though maybe he had already used that adjective for China. (The good people at FJM are way ahead of me.)

And I swear I heard Morgan refer to Japan's manager as "Sodomharu Oh".

More On The Pena Trade

More on the trade:

Theo:
It was a tough decision, in that there were pluses and minuses, but this was something we all felt we should do.
Epstein also noted that because of his contract, Pena was out of options at age 21 and "was in the big leagues getting [fewer than] 850 at-bats over the last three years when he should have been in the minor leagues developing." ... Edes has many quotes from Arroyo.

David Ortiz likes Pena:
This guy has some sick power. This guy has some crazy power, man. I just feel bad for my man, Bronson. ... We were talking about hitting a lot during the WBC [both men played for the DR]. He wants to learn. He's a hard worker, good kid. ... When I was 24 the ability that he has right now I didn't have it and I was in the big leagues, just like him. Wait until you see him. He looks like a football player. He's huge. He's got legs like nobody I've ever seen. ... The best thing that happened to him was coming over here. He can learn from all of us.
(Ortiz also felt like he "wasted a lot of time" by playing in the WBC. The seven games "wasn't worth it, to get ready for the season.")

SoSHer Sille Skrub wraps it up better than I can:
3/20/2006 will be known as the day Theo stole Wily Mo Pena from the Reds. I really can't believe that there isn't more jubilation for this trade. Maybe I am over-hyping it because I have followed the Reds and seen what WMP can do. ... With all due respect, at 29 years old we have seen the ceiling of Bronson's abilites. ... If WMP comes anywhere close to his ceiling, this trade will be a certain laugher in years to come. ... Best case scenario he becomes an anchor in the middle of the lineup for years to come. ... Worst case scenario, the Sox get a perfect platoon-mate for Trot and a legitimate PH threat for the end of games. ... You are basically trading your 7th or 8th best starter option/long reliever for a potential Jessie Barfield. ... I'd much rather watch and see if WMP can blossom in to an all-star while hitting bombs on the Pike rather than throwing Bronson out there on every fifth day hoping the "good Bronson" shows up.
And The Gray Eagle adds:
If he had played AAA ball this year, he would be one of the very top prospects in the game, IMO. He probably would have cranked 40 HRs and stolen 25 bases and gunnned down many runners if he was a 23-year-old in AAA, and he would have been unavailable for less than a ton in return. If we were picking him up in that scenario, the glee on this board would be over the top.
Cincinnati Perspective: Analysis at Reds (And Blues) and mixed feelings at Redleg Nation.

Also: Pena hit some bombs in BP this morning. ... David Wells will probably make his first regular season start on April 12 (2nd time through the rotation). ... The Sox signed outfielder Juan Gonzalez to a minor league deal. ... The Phillies are expected to discuss (now-expendable) outfielder Dustan Mohr.

Edes On Wells/Idiot Story: Bogus

In a Globe chat, Gordon Edes commented on the recent Wells/Tito flap:
[T]he whole thing was a manufactured attempt at controversy created by a reporter who began the week with a sensationalized story about Wells not in camp, implying that he was unhappy. Turns out that Wells had an excused absence to attend a charity event on the other side of the state, which the reporter eventually got around to reporting. Then, IMO, he misrepresented some stuff that Francona had said to Wells -- who we all know has a big mouth anyway, and Wells popped off. The whole thing was bogus. In any event, Wells met with Francona and apologized.
I think the writer in question is Dave Heuschkel of the Courant, though he's never seemed like the type to stir shit up for its own sake. I assume he has a solid relationship with many players because his quotes often have extra info, or a warmth or a bit of humour, missing from the other writers' stories.

Edes also noted that Arroyo was "deeply wounded" but did not feel betrayed by the Sox, and that Wells will stay and be the fifth man in the rotation after Schilling, Wakefield, Beckett and Clement.

March 20, 2006

Weekend Leftovers

The Herald's Steve Buckley notes that after Cuba's 3-1 win over the Dominican Republic in the WBC semifinals, left fielder Frederich Cepeda's comment -- "Baseball is not judged by the price of the athletes, but the hearts of the people" -- was censored for the media by MLB translator Francisco Campo.

Why? Campo: "I was told by Major League Baseball that when the guys got political, not to talk about it." ... MLB spokesman Patrick Courtney disagreed: "That was never the case. At no time did we state that players could not answer political questions."

How is that sentence even vaguely political?

Keith Foulke threw a 21-pitch batting practice session on Saturday and is convinced he'll start the season on time "unless something unforeseen happens". Jason Varitek: "He threw a couple great changeups. He threw some good cutters. He threw a couple fastballs that really bit, that really got there. He looked very good."

Curt Schilling has worked a changeup into his pitching repertoire. "I'm throwing my changeup to the point where I'm going to be able to use it now to get people out. It's something I've wanted to have and never been comfortable with until now."

Arroyo Traded To Reds for Wily Mo Pena

Shows you what I know.

While Pena has "potential", I'm concerned about his frequent strikeouts and average-at-best fielding ability (plus I remember laughing when Yankee fans would pump him up when he was in their farm system).

But knowing that Nixon will go on the DL at some point this year, and that Arroyo is pretty much a league average pitcher (ERA+ of 121 and 98 in his two full years here and he's what, our 5th or 6th starter?), I can't find much of a downside to this deal. If Pena gets playing time and can bop 30-40 or so home runs, this will be a steal.

Some Theo comments from a spot on WEEI (thanks to SoxScout at SoSH):
This guy has the potential to be middle of the lineup player. ... The track record of players this young and this powerful is very good. ... Tools are so good and development has been so hindered that he isn't even close to tapping his potential. ... We accept the fact that the strikeouts are going to come, fans need to also, but his power will make up for it. ... We are going to get him as much playing time as possible. ... This is a great situation for him with Ortiz, Ortiz spoke highly of him.
SoSHer (and Reds fan) "osuceltic":
Great raw talent. He's an absolute physical specimen. Huge and ripped. Huge hands. Good speed. Strong arm. He has off-the-charts tools. Unreal power -- when he hits them, they stay hit. ... Has worked hard to improve himself. Had one of those contracts that guaranteed him a big-league spot too early, so he really didn't get the minor league polish he needed. ...

On the negative side ... Zero plate discipline. Awful defensive outfielder, although he obviously has the tools to improve this. No "baseball sense" either in the field or on the basepaths. Injury prone ... VERY streaky. He'll go through stretches where it looks like he'll hit any pitch out of the park, and stretches where he looks like he couldn't hit the ball with a sheet of plywood. ...

I really think he needs to play every day and I'm not sure he's ready to do that in an environment like Boston (tough fans, tough city, tough division, tough outfield). He really does play like a young Sosa, but will he ever develop his tremendous potential?
Epstein also maintained there was "no-trade handshake" with Arroyo.

March 19, 2006

Memo To Wells: STFU!

David Wells is upset that Terry Francona went public with their conversation about the pitching rotation:
[W]hat went on in that office should have stayed there in that office and it shouldn't have come out to you guys. So he's the [expletive] idiot for saying that, like that - not me - because I didn't interpret it like that.
Lovely.

March 18, 2006

WBC Semi-Finals

The WBC semi-finals are today. With any luck, I'll be able to follow both games at work on my computer.
Cuba vs Dominican Republic   3:00 pm
Japan vs Korea 10:00 pm
The two winners will play for the championship Monday night at 9:00.

Previous meetings

Round 1
March 5 - Korea 3, Japan 2

Round 2
March 13 - Dominican Republic 7, Cuba 3
March 15 - Korea 2, Japan 1

March 17, 2006

Trivia

Dave Eiland is the only major league player in history to:
allow a home run to the first batter he faced
(Paul Molitor, August 3, 1988); and

hit a home run in his first major league at-bat
(April 10, 1992, off Bob Ojeda).

March 15, 2006

Sox Open To Dealing Starters

According to Sean McAdam, the Red Sox are entertaining offers for Bronson Arroyo, Matt Clement and David Wells.

Wells, after saying he was happy to stay in Boston, is grouchy once again -- apparently because Terry Francona won't make him the team's #2 starter. WTF? Is the fat man high? Tito:
We were in there with all the pitchers and I kind of explained to him because he wants to know what day he's pitching. I just kind of told him, I said, 'David, as of the fourth of March, you wanted to be traded. Now all of a sudden you want to pitch second.' It's not going to happen.
Although Arroyo has allowed 13 hits and 13 walks in a mere six innings this spring, he's probably the least likely of the three to be dealt. He can easily pitch out of the bullpen (in fact, he'll probably begin the season there) and in light of the circumstances surrounding the Sox signing him to a three-year deal this winter, I can't see them courting bad PR among players who might want to come to Boston by quickly sending him out of town.

No surprises: The Red Sox sent 13 players to the minors on Monday, including lefty Jon Lester. ... Keith Foulke will receive a final injection of Synvisc in his left knee this weekend and could pitch in a game next week. ... Dustan Mohr is hitting .471 (8-for-17).

Sunday's Globe magazine had a lengthy cover story on Jonathan Papelbon.

Tito Extended Thru 2008

Terry Francona has been given a two-year contract extension that runs through the 2008 season.

Theo Epstein:
He's been everything we've hoped for, and you can say more. I think he's really grown on the job and really grown into the role of being the manager of the Boston Red Sox, as opposed to being a major league manager, very well and very quickly.
I've been critical of Francona -- and likely will be again soon -- but I should also remember that he's managing for an entire season and he shouldn't (and doesn't) treat every contest as if it is an elimination game. not all of his decisions can be seen through that lens, of course, but I also know that in 2004, when it was win-or-go-home, he completely outmanaged Joe Torre.

The Red Sox will likely curb Coco Crisp's base stealing desires. Francona likened the situation to what the team did with Johnny Damon:
He could probably have run more, but with the hitters in our lineup, we want baserunners. I think Coco understands that. ... If they want to completely stop him from running, there's going to be a lot of [pitchers utilizing] slide steps. Guys will throw some belt-high fastballs to Loretta and David. That's fine. ... He could steal 30 easy. But we don't want him to be 30-for-60.
Speaking of Damon, his left shoulder is ailing (surprise!) and he's been told to not throw for at least two weeks. His employer is not happy.


Oh, and Coco's hitting .455, slugging .636 and is 3-for-3 in steals.

Adam Stern -- Olympic Bobsledder?

Kevin Youkilis, Tim Wakefield, and Manny Ramirez welcomed Adam Stern back to Fort Myers by singing "O Canada" and presenting the outfielder with DVDs of his sterling performance in the WBC.

Trot Nixon ("Babe Ruth is back! The greatest WBC hitter of all-time!") and Lenny DiNardo ("He made everyone else look like Little Leaguers.") added their praise.

Stern batted .667 (6-for-9) with a home run, five RBI and a .727 on-base percentage. In Canada's stunning 8-6 victory over the US, Stern drove in four runs with a single, triple and an inside-the-park home run.

Stern, who played baseball for Canada in the 2004 Athens Olympics, told Chris Snow of the Globe that he's looking ahead to the 2010 Games in Vancouver -- as a bobsledder.

"I want to play baseball for as long as I can. I'm focused on this team. ... But that's something, 2010 being in Canada. I'm serious about it."

March 12, 2006

The Numbers Game

JT Snow is wearing #84 -- the uniform number worn by his father, Jack Snow, during his football career with the Los Angeles Rams.

When Snow gets into a game next month, it will be the highest number worn by a Red Sock player during the regular season. The current highest number? #82, worn by Johnny Lazor in 1943 (also that year, Lou Lucier wore #81).

The lowest number that has never been worn? 64!

Also: Only eight players have worn #13. It's the fewest number of players for any number under 50 (no one wore it from 1940-1984). That includes #9; nine players wore that number, including Bobby Doerr, who later had his more famous #1 retired.

The list of Red Sox uniform numbers is here.

David Wells is scheduled to pitch in his first spring training game on Thursday. He threw to hitters for the first time on Saturday.

Hiking The Appalachian Trail

SoSH mega-poster Maalox is planning on hiking the entire Appalachian Trail this summer.

He'll start at Amicalola Falls State Park, in Georgia, on March 15 and head north, ending up at Mount Katahdin in Maine by the end of September. The first of four entries in his trail journal is here.

March 11, 2006

111 122 13x

I can't believe I missed this, but Florida scored in every inning against the Red Sox on Wednesday.

Regular season games in which that has happened -- there are very few -- are sort of an obsession with me. Florida was the home team, so they didn't have to hit in the ninth.
Red Sox 010 000 000 - 1 3 3
Marlins 111 122 13x - 12 18 0
It has happened 12 times in major league history, but only three times has the visiting team scored in all nine innings (bolded below).

The list:
August 15, 1889: Cleveland 19, Boston 8
June 22, 1894: Washington 26, Boston 12
July 12, 1894: Cleveland 20, Philadelphia 10
June 29, 1897: Chicago 36, Louisville 7
September 16, 1903: Red Sox 14, Cleveland 7
June 1, 1923: Giants 22, Phillies 8
July 7, 1923: Cleveland 27, Red Sox 3 (Game 1)
July 26, 1939: Yankees 14, Browns 1
May 11, 1949: White Sox 12, Red Sox 8
September 13, 1964: Cardinals 15, Cubs 2
September 14, 1998: Royals 16, A's 6
May 5, 1999: Rockies 13, Cubs 6
Re the July 7, 1923 game, David Smith wonders if there was bad blood between the teams because Cleveland stole several bases when they were up 22-3.

Bard Catches Wake; Foulke Ready; Coco Hitting .615

Josh Bard caught Tim Wakefield in a game for the first time yesterday. Both players seemed pleased.

Wakefield:
I'm comfortable with him back there - I threw some balls in the dirt he did a good job of blocking.
Bard:
Every pitch is going to be a learning experience. ... There are pitches where I still don't know how I can catch it. With those pitches I need to get something, my arm, my face, my shoulder, whatever, to keep it in front of me. ... The biggest thing has been getting a better angle. Sometimes when he throws it high, your glove gets in your face, and you kind of lose yourself. ... Toward the end I started to feel more comfortable about when to get down and block it and when to pick it. It's coming.
Keith Foulke says he will be ready for Opening Day:
There's no doubt in my mind. I'm stronger now than I have been in four years. April 3 is a lifetime away. ... The big hurdle was after my last injections. Me being able to squat down and pick up my son with no pain, that's a big hurdle. ... If I had to go into the season tomorrow [without pitching in a spring game], I'd be fine with that.
David Murphy, a first-round pick in 2003, hit two homers and drove in five runs on Friday as the Red Sox beat the Phillies. ... Coco Crisp had two more hits, improving his spring average to .615. ... Manny Ramirez played his first game in left field and went 1-for-2 with a walk.

Sean McAdam on Gabe Kapler. ... The Rangers, Mets, Cubs and Marlins have shown interest in Tony Graffanino. ... Francona was pretty clear that Jonathan Papelbon will begin the season in Boston.

Back in 1992, Francona and his predecessor roomed together for about a month. Tito: "I coached for [Gump] in the Fall League. First year in the Fall League, I was his third-base coach for the Grand Canyon Rafters."

Never

Sean McAdam asks: Will Sox fans ever forgive poor Grady?

Tris Speaker Biography

Tim Gay -- the author of Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend -- was recently interviewed by Red Sox Nation.

(In June 2005, Gay interviewed me for USA Today about the Cubs-Red Sox interleague series.)

March 8, 2006

Stern Sparks Canadian WBC Upset

Canada 113 210 000 - 8 13 1
USA 000 060 000 - 6 9 0
Canada scored early and often against Dontrelle Willis and Al Leiter this afternoon and, sparked by the bat and glove of Adam Stern, upset the United States 8-6.

Batting in the 9th spot, Stern singled, tripled, and hit an inside-the-park home run, driving in half of Canada's runs. He also had two hits in Canada's first game, an 11-8 win over South Africa.

In center field, Stern robbed Chase Utley of extra bases with a leaping catch at the wall in the bottom of the eighth. Utley was celebrating what he thought was a three-run home run (which would have given the US a 9-8 lead) right out of the batter's box. Instead, Stern's grab ended the inning.

The US, which trailed 8-0, cut the to 8-6, thanks in large part to a grand slam (!) from Jason Varitek. (All of the Red Sox players are doing extremely well.)

Canada can clinch a berth into the second round if Mexico loses to South Africa tonight, or by beating Mexico themselves on Thursday night. The US needs to beat South Africa on Friday afternoon to advance to the second round.

Also: Lenny DiNardo started tonight for Italy against Venezuela. ... The Dominican Republic plays Italy tomorrow afternoon.

Dominican Duo In Mid-Season Form

David Ortiz hit two home runs (both off LHP) yesterday, leading the Dominican Republic to an 11-5 victory over Venezuela in the first round of the World Baseball Classic. He also walked twice, drove in three runs and scored three times.

Curt Schilling wondered: "What's more ridiculous, that or Manny?"

Ramirez went 2-for-2 with 3 RBI in his first spring game yesterday. Papelbon: "Singling on the first pitch [in the first inning] -- the whole dugout started laughing." ... Schilling: "Hasn't seen a pitch in what, six months? Single to right. Yawning."

Schilling says he'll be pitching more aggressively inside this season. "It's something I've never, ever done, for any length of time in the past. It's something I've always needed to do. I've said in the past I would try it and do it and I've never really been efficient at it. I'm going to change that this year."

John Flaherty (who had a rough time catching Tim Wakefield on Sunday) has retired, leaving Josh Bard and Ken Huckaby fighting for the backup catcher spot. I'm rooting for Bard. Huckaby (while he has intangibles) remains slowed by a sore knee (tweaked in BP after offseason surgery).

Earlier this week, both Bronson Arroyo (1.2 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs) and Josh Beckett (3 IP, 5 runs) were less than impressive in their first outings.

Would the Sox start the season with a 10-man pitching staff? Tito: "Having two days [off during the first week] can throw things into a little disarray. It's going to be interesting. Maybe health plays a part, but I'm not comfortable having a five-man rotation with two days off. ... The one thing I’m worried about is not getting enough out of Papelbon. He’s such a dominant pitcher at this age, I want to make sure we get the most out of him that we can."

Sean McAdam has some good quotes about the possible effects of MLB's policy of testing for amphetamines:
Jerry Remy: "For years, I think they've been a bigger problem than steroids. They were a common practice for as long as I've been around the game."

A National League manager: "I'll have to manage differently. Players are going to need more rest."

Longtime MLB player: "It's different for pitchers, but for position players -- I'm not sure how those guys do it, playing every day, in the heat, for six months. Really, I don't."

Longtime scout: "I don't think it will be noticeable in the first half. But it means the dynamic in August will change. The guys who play on emotion will be affected the most."
Three notes from the CHB:

This from a new book, "Pedro, Carlos and Omar," by Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News: "Pedro mentioned how he was not eagerly awaiting the Mets' 2006 interleague schedule, which called for a June 27-29 series in Boston, with an off-day in Beantown before the opener, no less ... Pedro even suggested he might ask pitching coach Rick Peterson to align the rotation so he could avoid the Red Sox and instead pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays, then at Yankee Stadium."

The Red Sox already have contacted Ted Kennedy about throwing out the first ball five years from now when Fenway celebrates its 100th birthday. Kennedy, who will be 80 in 2012, said, "I'm practicing. I've been watching and checking the distance and getting ready. That would be great -- especially since Grandpa threw the ball out in 1912." Boston Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, Kennedy's grandfather, threw out the first pitch at the inaugural Fenway opener.

Johnny Damon T-shirt seen in Florida: "Looks like Jesus, acts like Judas, throws like Mary."
And Johnny? Why don't you talk about your own teammates for a change? Or better yet, just STFU!

David Wells does not like Bud Selig: "He needs to resign ... there's so much hatred against Bud right now. It's a joke. Nobody likes him. ... He has no clue. He's clueless. ... He's a piece of [expletive]. And you can quote me on that."

Not that there's any bias towards certain players in the Boston media (cough, cough) but can you imagine the firestorm if Manny had called Selig (I'm assuming here) a "piece of shit"?

March 6, 2006

No Spellcheck In Tampa

George Steinbrenner is no fan of the World Baseball Classic. A sign at the Yankees' spring training facility yesterday read (with one hilarious misspelling):
World Baseball Classic

Thank you for expressing your concerns. We are sorry that certain players will not be present for portions of Spring Training. These players have elected to participate in The World Baseball Classic. The World Baseball Classic is an event sanctioned by The Commissioner of Major League Baseball and The Major League Baseball Players Association. The New York Yankess did not vote to support this event.

Any comments you have regarding the World Baseball Classic should be directed to either The Commissioner of Major League Baseball or The Major League Baseball Players Assoc.


Asked whether he had anything to do with the subsequent removal of the sign, Bud Selig said, "It didn't come down by itself."

Wells Rescinds Trade Request

Reports the AP:
Boston Red Sox left-hander David Wells rescinded his trade request and said Sunday there was a "99.9" percent chance he would retire after the upcoming season.

He said he told Boston general manager Theo Epstein of his decision on Saturday. ...

"Obviously, they want to keep me," Wells said. "I think we're a better team this year than we were last year, so if you're going to go out on top you might as well do it with a team that you feel good with and this is it. So I told Theo I'd probably just stay."
I'll never join the Wells fan club, but this is good, good news. Barring injury, we'll start the season with both Arroyo and Papelbon in the bullpen. That is some nice depth.

March 5, 2006

Adopt-A-Prospect: Iggy Suarez

One of the best ideas over at SoSH is the Adopt-A-Prospect Forum. The rules are simple: a poster chooses a Red Sox minor leaguer and is then responsible for updating the board with information/links/stats on how the player is doing.

I picked Iggy Suarez, the slick fielding shortstop with the Nerf bat. Suarez was not invited to spring training, so my only post right now is some introductory information.

Ignacio Antonio "Iggy" Suarez
Age: 24
Born: May 3, 1981
Resides: Corona, NY
Height: 5-11
Weight: 165
B/R: Right/Right
College: SW Texas St. U.
High School: John Browne HS (NY)
Drafted: Selected by Texas Rangers in 34th round (1,035th overall) of 1999 amateur entry draft. Selected by Red Sox in 24th round (714th overall) of 2003 amateur entry draft.

Scouting Report:
May have the best glove in the whole system. Light-hitting, slick fielding Suarez was named the organization's best defensive middle infielder by Baseball America in 2003.
A few stats from Baseball Cube:
     Team             Age   AB  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS
2002 SW Texas St 21 201 .323 .402 .428 .830
2003 SW Texas St 22 257 .272 .335 .424 .759
2003 Lowell NYPL A 22 207 .222 .326 .285 .611
2004 Augusta SAL A 23 141 .270 .373 .362 .735
2004 Sarasota FSL A 23 307 .257 .331 .319 .650
2005 Wilmington Car A 24 403 .233 .287 .288 .575

Minor Totals: 3 years .243 .320 .306 .626
From a recap of Iggy's 2005 season:
One of four players to be with the Blue Rocks from opening day until the final game of the season. Suarez hit .233 with no home runs and 38 RBI in 116 games. ... Put together an 11-game hitting streak from June 8-21. Was among the leaders for the Blue Rocks with a .304 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Suarez also led the Carolina League with 32 errors.

In September 2005, the Portland Press Herald said this about the shortstop spot for the 2006 Seadogs (AA):
This is up for grabs. Iggy Suarez finished his second season in advanced Class A but batted only .233. Christian Lara, a prospect, struggled in Greenville (.232). Middle infielder Jed Lowrie was a first-round pick out of Stanford in June. He hit .328 in Lowell but it would be a big leap to Portland from the rookie league.
SoxProspects has Ig penciled in as Portland's starting shortstop for 2006 (and on the Pawtucket bench in 2007).

March 4, 2006

World Baseball Classic

I'm not all that excited about the World Baseball Classic, but I'll be rooting for David Ortiz and the Dominican Republic (though they are without Pedro, Manny and Vladimir Guererro).

Pool A: China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea
Pool B: Canada, Mexico, South Africa, United States
Pool C: Cuba, Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico
Pool D: Australia, Dominican Republic, Italy, Venezuela

Rosters for teams in Pools B, C and D are here. Pool D's games will be played in Orlando, Florida:
March  7  1pm  Dominican Republic at Venezuela
8pm Australia v Italy
March 8 7pm Italy v Venezuela
March 9 1pm Italy v Dominican Republic
8pm Venezuela v Australia
March 10 7pm Australia v Dominican Republic
Before those games, however, there are a few exhibitions:
March 3 Canada v Toronto (ss)
March 5 Dominican Republic v Houston (ss)
Australia v Boston (ss)
There's an article on the DR team in today's Times:
Dominicans Draw Crowd as Deep as Their Lineup

Within five minutes of the opening of the first practice of the Dominican national team, autograph seekers stand four rows deep. Jerseys wait folded over cardboard to facilitate signing. Sharpies are uncapped. It will be two hours before autographs are even possible, yet the fans wait. ...

"I would love to be an underdog and kind of sneak by some teams and win it," Manager Manny Acta said of the 16-team World Baseball Classic, which starts Tuesday for the Dominican team. "But it's impossible not to be a favorite with the kind of talent we have." ...

The red-and-blue quadrants of the Dominican flag are stitched onto caps so new that the one for first baseman Ortiz still displays the gold sticker identifying his as official merchandise. ...

The Dominicans open against Venezuela. Starter Bartolo Colon is expected to platoon with Miguel Batista. Acta expects each to throw only about 50 pitches, 15 below the imposed 65-pitch count.
The list is shrinking, but I think eight Red Sox are participating:
United States:      Jason Varitek, Mike Timlin
Dominican Republic: David Ortiz, Julian Tavarez
Canada: Adam Stern
Puerto Rico: Alex Cora
Italy:
Lenny DiNardo
Australia: Trent Durrington

"Normal Is A Really Cool Thing"

Schilling:
I knew when I threw the first fastball of the game that everything was different again. Everything was normal and I guess I'm making normal seem really damn exciting right now, but after last year, normal is a really cool thing for me. ... I throw a lot of strikes during the season [and] being sharp early in the count is always a big deal to me. I thought I threw some real good first-pitch strikes and I had all three pitches today. I threw 3-4 splits, a changeup I'm trying to get comfortable with.
Facing Northeastern last night, Matt Clement gave up a home run to the first batter -- Chris Emanuele (a native of Mississauga, Ontario (I live there!)) -- then retired the next six hitters, four by strikeout. Josh Pressley's three-run double highlighted a seven-run second and Boston won 9-2.

David Wells hopes to pitch batting practice Wednesday and get in a game next weekend. ... An MRI on Dustin Pedroia's left shoulder revealed no structural damage, but he'll likely miss two weeks. "Right when I swung, I was like, 'Oh, my God!' because it was the worst pain ever. ... It's frustrating because it happened on my very first swing."

Pittsburgh beat the Red Sox 7-6 Saturday afternoon.

March 3, 2006

Shy Rupert

Andrew at 12eight has posted his picks for Iditarod XXXIV. The 1,150-mile race starts tomorrow.

What does this have to do with baseball? Nothing. But it gives me an excuse to post this picture (from Dogsled Stacie):

Schilling: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3K

Here's another plug for the Globe's Extra Bases blog. Nick Cafardo has filed five reports so far today. The reports are excellent, especially for those of us who cannot get radio and TV updates from NESN and other Boston stations.

Boston beat Boston College this afternoon 10-0. Curt Schilling pitched four innings (35 pitches), striking out three and allowing one hit and no walks:
If I thought about how I felt last year in my best start and ranked it, today was in a different stratosphere from a physical standpoint as far as how I felt compared to any time, at any point last year. The two big things that come out of this game today for me that I wanted from an approach standpoint were how I felt and my velocity. I thought when I wanted to cut loose it was every bit the same way I used to cut loose in spring training in my first couple of starts.
Schilling's health and ability to pitch this year is obviously one of the spring's biggest, and most important, questions. His comments are music to my ears (which isn't always the case).

Alex Gonzalez has withdrawn from the World Baseball Classic. ... Jonathan Papelbon has only a dime-sized bruise near his left ankle. "I should probably be able to run tomorrow." ... After his shoulder went numb after a swing last night, Dustin Pedroia went for an MRI.

Today's lineups:
Boston College Northeastern

Willie Harris, CF Coco Crisp, CF
Mark Loretta, 2B Tony Graffanino, 2B
Trot Nixon, RF JT Snow, 1B
Mike Lowell, 3B Dustan Mohr, RF
Kevin Youkilis, 1B David Murphy, LF
Josh Bard, C Josh Pressley, DH
Louis Jiminez, DH John Flaherty, C
Brandon Moss, LF Enrique Wilson, 3B
Alejandro Machado, SS Jed Lowrie, SS
Curt Schilling, P Matt Clement, P

Crisp Shines In Spring Debut; Sox Lose 6-3

Shannon Stewart lined Jonathan Papelbon's fifth pitch off the inside of the pitcher's left foot, just below the ankle bone. Pap:
My initial reaction was "I'm going down." I thought my whole ankle was shattered. It was tingling pretty good. ... I was lucky. If that ball hit me one inch higher, I'm done for three to six months. ... It didn't affect my pitching. I don't need any x-rays. The trainers said it's just bruised up pretty good.
Francona:
It was so loud, I thought it hit his heel. ... He'll obviously be evaluated by [team medical director] Tom Gill in the morning, but I think he's moving around fine. He just needed a minute to shake it off.
Papelbon threw 38 pitches in 1.2 innings, allowing two runs and four hits. Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen were both sharp in relief, but Minnesota won the Thursday night game 6-3.

Coco Crisp had quite a night: He singled off Johan Santana in the first, doubled off Carlos Silva in the third, and tripled off Gabe White in the fifth. He also scored one run and had an RBI. Coco did not lobby for a fourth at-bat to try for the cycle:
I'm not Manny or Big Papi or those guys that hit jacks like that. So it would have been a long shot for me to get up there and finish off with that. I'm happy with my day. Go home, get a good night's sleep and come back.
Keith Foulke had the first injection last week and may have a second one today. "I don't know how I'm going to react to this. My first injection was pretty hard. That kind of kept me down for a couple days. Maybe when my body gets used to having it in there, it will accept it faster."

John Flaherty has some high praise for Jonathan Papelbon:
He had a plan of what he wanted to do when he was throwing on the side. He was telling me where he wanted to put the ball and then he put it there. He wasn't just throwing to get ready. ... Then when he was throwing BP, he took a veteran's approach. He threw the fastball away to give the guys some swings, and then he started working on what he wanted to do, making nasty pitches. He's got four quality pitches. ... I hate to throw out a name, but Roger Clemens used to do it the same way.
Gordon Edes: "Manny showed up in camp yesterday in fabulous shape, not that he ever has had a problem with his weight, but the waist was noticeably trimmer and the upper body was sleeker but still ripped." According to Ramirez's agent, Gene Mato: "He's ready to put up some sick numbers. He wants to be the MVP."

Curt Schilling thinks the WBC should be played in July:
How awesome would it have been to have a 10-day international event at the All-Star break where everybody's in shape? How many guys wouldn't like 10 days off at the break? We play a harder season than any professional sport. A 10-day break with games being played by a ton of players in shape, and you're going to see five or six innings out of a guy. I think with the US team [this month], you're going to see a spring training game with better talent.
Not a bad idea. Or perhaps after the World Series, as long as the games were all played in warmer climates.

Finally, Lenny DiNardo gloves have names, courtesy of his brother: R. Chimps, Lance Uppercut, Sparky McTorso and Lance Manley.

March 2, 2006

Tonight's Lineup

As per the Globe:
Coco Crisp ,CF
Tony Graffanino, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Dustan Mohr, RF
John Flaherty, C
Ron Calloway, DH
Alejandro Machado, SS
David Murphy, LF
Enrique Wilson, 3B

Jonathan Papelbon, P
I'll be listening in via MLB audio (7:05 pm), but if anyone's watching the game, feel free to post any observations.

March 1, 2006

Pitchers Named For Thursday's Game

Pitchers for tomorrow night's opener against Minnesota: Jonathan Papelbon, Rudy Seanez, David Riske, Manny Delcarmen, Craig Hansen, Craig Breslow, Mike Bumatay, and Mike Holtz. ... Now, I gotta go order the MLB radio package.

A little bit more on Foulke's injections (which I hope are just fairly normal procedures to accelerate the healing and not a symptom of a continuing problem):

Globe:
The injections are to lubricate the joint and help the healing process following the surgery the pitcher had on both knees in the offseason. ... The shots will be administered over a two-week period, though it's unclear when they began.
Herald:
[T]here was some suggestion that such treatments are relatively unusual for athletes. Joint lubricants known as Hylan typically are used in older people with arthritis or osteoporosis, according to Web sites dedicated to the topic. According to the same sites, Hylan contains synovial fluid, which serves as a lubricant in joints like the knee.
Curt Schilling threw 33 pitches to Trent Durrington, Tyler Minges and Brandon Moss in an eight-minute workout yesterday. He'll start against Boston College on Friday afternoon.

With Gary Sheffield complaining about his contract at the Yankees camp, Newsday's Jon Heyman proposes trading Ramirez for Sheffield. Seriously.

Manny

Clocked in to camp this morning at 9:01.

Here's the Globe's early report and some Manny quotes:
[M]y main focus is baseball right now and trying to help this team win and let me get this straight, I don't want no questions about the trade rumors about the winter this and that. You guys want to talk about baseball or whatever, you know I'm open to talk. We could talk all day. ... I ain't got no problem in Boston, I especially like the attention. ...