It seems to be time for another “D” themed entry, as two more “D” topics have alerted my attention today. The first of these involves the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners improved a great deal last year, and have had a great offseason so far, acquiring both Chone Figgins and Cliff Lee. Cliff Lee appears to be stronger than ever after a fantastic postseason performance for the Phillies, and the possible combo of him and 2009 AL Cy Young runner-up Felix Hernandez was seen by many people as one of the best (if not the best) duos in baseball. The only thing left for Seattle to do to make this dynamic duo a reality was resign Hernandez, who filed for arbitration this year. Today, they accomplished this, signing Hernandez for $78 million and 5 years.
Despite the large price tag, this is truly a fantastic deal. Locking this ace up for 5 years means that even if something doesn’t work out with Lee in the next few years, Hernandez is still there to anchor the rotation. Most baseball experts agree that good pitching is just about the most important factor in being a successful baseball team. Hitting and defense are instrumental for sure, but an ace pitcher is probably the most valuable type of player on the field (an all-around star like Pujols would be an exception, but players like that are so rare). Therefore, Seattle has done a great job this offseason by strengthening a good pitching staff, with the Hernandez and Lee deals and the resigning of closer David Aardsma. The Angels, who are expected to wage war with the M’s over the AL West crown in ’10, lost their ace John Lackey, and did a little bit to add to their pitching. Certainly, they didn’t do as much as Seattle, and I believe that this will hurt them this season.
Not only is a good pitching staff a must, but a good duo is always something to be reckoned with, and Seattle could have the best in the MLB. Cain and Lincecum are a fantastic duo for the Giants, both having chances at the NL Cy Young last year (with Lincecum taking the award home); Halladay and Hamels should be very strong together for Philly; Beckett and Lackey (with the added bonus of Lester) will hopefully play above expectations and should make the case for being one of the better duos in the league; Sabathia and Burnett is another great one, both playing very well last year and helping the Yankees enormously; and several others are very formidable. Not only can a dynamic duo strike fear into the hearts of opposing lineups, but it can just about guarantee 2 games out of a 3 game series when both pitchers are at their best. Hitting duos are also a great luxury, but I think pitching ones are the most imposing.
Here in Boston, we certainly had trouble with this pair last year.
Seattle’s duo will help them in many ways, and I wish luck to them in 2010. Truly a job well done in the offseason as well!
The second piece of “D” news was that of the retirement rumors surrounding Johnny Damon. Having still not come anywhere near agreement with any MLB teams as far as we know, Damon seems to either have some kind of plan, or absolutely no idea what he’s doing. Honestly, I think it’s the latter. I highly doubt that Damon will really retire (although I’ve been surprised before by this guy, *hint, hint*), but I also think that he is still a long way from agreeing on a deal with anyone as long as he keeps asking for $13 million a year. I’ve never been in a situation like the one that every baseball player faces when they become a free agent: I’ve never had to put a price tag on myself. However, I think that Damon may be asking for too much. He’s still a very good player, but the Yankees need him less than they did last year (even though he would be a great asset). The Yankees are the team that is most interested in him at this point, and they are not yet close to working out a deal with Damon. It appears that he may be forced to lower his demands, or he may find himself without a club come April. I feel bad for any ballplayer that doesn’t have a game to go to each night when Spring rolls around, and I think Johnny will see this coming and may work out a deal with someone. I can’t say I wish him luck, but he’s not such a bad guy. I’ll be interested to see how this whole thing works out.
As for any Red Sox news, there has been a shortage of it in the recent days. I hope for more this weekend. I’ll try to post tomorrow night, but I may be unable due to the varsity basketball game I’ll be attending to support my school. Let’s hope they dominate and I’m able to get home early to blog!
Thanks for reading.
When all hope seemed lost for Red Sox fans, a little bit of light has begun to shine in the past 2 days. As we entered a series against our Wild-Card rivals, the Texas Rangers, our whole team was flushed with confidence and we felt that we could take these guys by storm and regain our position as the top Wild-Card team. Three days later, that has not happened. In fact, we are a game behind the Rangers in this race, after barely winning 1 game in the series on a remarkable 9th inning comeback.
However, in these last 2 days, while we have not shown strength in any way, the Yankees have shown weakness. They have lost two games straight, and have left us a half game closer to first place then we were after the Rangers series. I think that while it is hardly a solution to rely on an other team’s failures, we will take what we can get for now.
The Yankees have been terrifying teams all over the AL for the past few weeks, with a dynamite offense and some timely pitching. It’s good to see that this team, is in fact, human. Even this guy was held to one hit in the 2nd loss.
How much more reassurance do we need?
Even more exciting is the fact that the Yankees lost those two games against teams that are even less of a threat than us. The Mariners, who beat the Yanks 10-3, are 5.5 games behind us in the Wild Card race, and the A’s who beat them 3-0, are 13.5 games behind us.
This certainly gives Red Sox fans hope, but we will have to start winning before I am totally convinced that we can wreak havoc at Fenway in our upcoming series with the Bronx Bombers.
In other baseball news, top pick of the MLB draft, Stephen Strasburg, has finally signed with the Nationals, and it certainly came down to the wire. Less than 2 minutes before the deadline last night, Strasburg finally came to terms for a 4 year, $15 million dollar contract. It was a record-breaking contract, surpassing the $10.5 million Mark Prior signed for in 2001. Why did the deal take so long to come to, and why did the Nationals finally agree to offer so much? Two words: Scott Boras. ‘Nuff said.
Now that we know the Yankees can be beat, and by teams that are less of a threat than us (sorry A’s and Mariners fans!), we have hope. Time to crank out a few wins of our own to compliment a few Yankee losses. Let’s get ‘er done!
Thanks for reading.
As some of you know, I am currently in Maine with limited internet access, so this had to be a quick entry, Hopefully I can write a few more this week. I’ll respond to any comments as soon as I can. Thanks!
I was reminded of these ads after watching a few games last night:
“Why?” you may ask. Well yesterday in the MLB it was a day of absolut(e) slaughter. I will start off with the slaughter that least affected me (in the real world, at least).
Interestingly enough, the case of slaughter (baseball style) that least affected me was probably the worst. The scene of the crime was Citizen’s Bank Ballpark, in Philadelphia. The Phillies beat the Reds 22-1 in this game. Unfortunately, the sorrow I feel for Reds fans everywhere is only half of my problem with this one. See, the Reds’ starter in this contest was Johnny Cueto, a bright young player who has performed well this year, keeping his ERA in the 2.00 range and posting 8 wins. I’m not even sure when he was taken out of the game, I think he allowed 9 or so runs, ballooning his ERA to 3.45. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, aside from being a new favorite player of mine, Cueto is the ace on my fantasy team. But really, should that concern me in the real world?
There was also a case of slaughter to a lesser extent here in Boston. It was brightened only by the glorious return of Nomar,
as the rookie Brett Anderson threw a 2 hit shutout vs. the Red Sox. We lost it 6-0, and all the more depressing were Jason Bay’s continuing struggles, as he struck out once and went 1-3. In the past week he is 2-25, among the worst in the league. This miserable week has even included an 0-5 with 5 strikeouts on July 1. Hopefully the All Star game will cheer him up and get him back on course to take that MVP award from Texeira in the second half.
The final case of slaughter came in Seattle, where Jarrod Washburn threw a 1 hit, 5-0 win against the Orioles, a team that I am actually starting to root for to at least make a little bit of a comeback in the second half. With such bright young talent as Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters, I’m beginning to really like the O’s.
It was a night to forget in the MLB, at least from this Sox fan’s point of view… (and I didn’t even consider the disappointing 9-4 loss for Kevin Millwood, another one of my fantasy pitchers, as legitimate slaughter)
Thanks for reading.
It was an absolutely perfect day for a baseball game. The sun wasn’t glaring and the air was calm and not humid. Large, slowly drifting clouds swept lazily across the clear blue sky. It was not only perfect for a baseball game, it was also a perfect day to celebrate the 4th of July.
The Red Sox would take on the Seattle Mariners at 1:05 PM, and I had plans to sit back and watch the game with my old friend visiting from overseas. We were driving back from meeting him in Brookline when my dad got a call. Our neighbor, a season ticket holder, had just found out about some plans that would interfere with him attending the game at Fenway. My friend and I suddenly had tickets to the Red Sox game. Here we were, in Brookline, driving along at a leisurely pace and just enjoying the day. All of a sudden it was a mad rush to get the tickets back at home, and race back out to the ballpark. It was 12:30.
We arrived at Fenway before the first pitch, and got to our seats in less than a minute. It was a lot easier finding them than it had been for me in the past. A cool breeze was flowing through the stands when we sat down, and it continued through the game. We sat down with a great view of the field, in section 23. Section 23 is behind home plate about 30 or so rows back and to the left a little from a fan’s point of view. I was overjoyed to be back in Fenway, as it was my first game this year.
Here is a view from the section we were in (I didn’t take this picture):
Then, abruptly, the game started. The pitching matchup was Brad Penny vs. Garrett Olson. Nick Green was taking a well earned day off after his clutch double last night nearly won the game for us. Julio Lugo was in his place in the lineup.
The game began hopefully for Penny, as he struck out the first two batters he faced. Then Jose Lopez hit a long single off the center field wall, and there was life for the Mariners. However, the inning ended without damage. However, it took Penny 15 pitches to get through the first, a first sign that he would throw 100+ pitches once again in this one.
In the 2nd, Jason Varitek connected with an Olson pitch and went deep over the monster for a 2 run homerun, putting the Sox on the board first. I thought it was cool that Tek’s walk up song was “Kryptonite,” by 3 Doors Down, a song that mentions Superman. Varitek is almost like a Superman figure for the Sox: tough, team captain, leader, enforcer, etc. He also came to the rescue like Superman today, giving the Sox their only runs in the game.
The atmosphere in Fenway was terrific. At one point we got the wave to go around 6 or 7 times.
Everyone was on their feet after the V-Tek homerun, aside from a few Mariners fans sitting behind us. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Papelbon today, and I love watching him pitch, but I did see Masterson come in for relief. I realized that my own pitching motion (I pitched a few times last year for my team) was very similar to Masterson’s, so it was cool to see him.
One of my alltime favorite songs, a 4th of July classic, played on the speakers during the game:
Yeah, you know it. “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago.
Okay, back to the game. The Mariners finally tied the game up in the 5th when, after singling to begin the inning, Chris Woodward was bunted over by Ronny Cedeno and later scored.
The inning before, I had sensed trouble with Penny. In the 4th he had walked two straight batters with 2 men out, to put himself in a jam that really shouldn’t have even happened.
Penny was taken out of the game in the 7th with the game tied 2-2. Both Masterson and Hideki Okajima pitched strong, and we got through the 7th and 8th innings without damage. Takashi Saito came in to keep the game in our hands and send it to extras. He promptly walked three men to load the bases with only 1 out. Chris Woodward hit a bloop single in to shallow right field a little behind first base. Pedroia came on strong and reached for it but it dropped just inches from his glove, scoring a run. Saito barely got out of the inning after that, and the Sox were silenced in our half of the 9th.
When will these late inning troubles end?! Our past 4 games have all been decided in the late innings, one of them in extras. We have lost 3 of these 4, and won the one game by only 1 run. Even worse, Takashi Saito has taken the loss in 2 of those 3 games, raising his ERA from 2.96 on June 28 to 3.45 today.
We have got to find a more reliable guy then Saito, or at least get him out of this funk. Let’s get the job done in the late innings. Go Sox!
Final Box Score:
Thanks for reading and happy 4th of July!
All stats from mlb.com