All-Stars Confusing as Always…
Happy Tuesday to everyone out there on MLBlogs.
heard of the guy. And while stats never tell the whole story, his are very solid, and he definitely does deserve this spot. However, being the only Oakland player on the ro
of you that are interested in the notable AL All-Star snubs, here’s a nice gallery with discussions of some of them.
Really back… I guess? (5 Red Sox Thoughts)
Hello again, everyone out there in the MLBlogosphere.
Of Duos and Damon
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.
New York, New York
It has been a hectic week for me, to say the least. School is still getting back into swing after winter break, and I’m currently facing the first round of tests in the new term. Luckily, during this chaotic week nothing affecting me at all has happened in baseball. Or maybe un-luckily, as the offseason stretches on and on. Where are the hot stove news, the signings and the blockbuster trades?! Maybe it’s just me, but this has seemed to be a particularly uneventful offseason and it is really starting to hit me. At least pitchers and catchers are just around the corner.
Or maybe at the end of a long hallway. That’s a little more realistic for the way most baseball fans are feeling.
Due to the lack of baseball in my life, I’ve turned my attention to other sports, as well as other things. The NFL playoffs have also been relatively uneventful, with the only surprise so far being the New York Jets’ upset of the San Diego Chargers. Now that a New York team is once again on a quest for playoff domination, Boston fans can only stand and watch, since our Pats were dethroned in the first round by the Ravens. It’s a lot like last October, when we watched the Yankees defeat the Angels as we stood helplessly on the side. Now we’re here again, with no means to stop New York, helplessly on the side yet again.
While we still have basketball on our side, New York has calmly seized control of both the NFL and the MLB. Some may say that the Giants and the Jets still aren’t safely in consideration as the top teams year in and year out, but I would argue that they certainly are powerhouses. The Jets may be returning to their glory of earlier years, with a squad of young stars, and the Giants need work, but can certainly come back strong after a good offseason.
The Yankees are never not in consideration as one of the top 5 teams in baseball, literally every year. The growing truth is that New York is on its way to surpassing nearly any city as the premiere American sports town, a title that many would agree Boston has held in the last decade. Unfortunately, New York has almost reached that state of total sports domination.
While we Boston fans can do little to entirely stop NYC, we can certainly surpass them, and as the NFL season is over for us, we must turn our view to the upcoming MLB season. What better stage on which to overtake New York? After all, a little competition never hurt anybody!
We play 15 games vs. the Yankees in 2010, and we will have that many chances to show the world what we can do against them. I would say that a reasonable goal to set would be to win at least 10 of those games. Last year we started off unbelievably strong against the Yanks, but we fell apart when we really needed to beat them. We only added to the Yankees’ fantastic late season run as they pulled the lead in the AL East farther and farther from us. I don’t think we would have beaten them even if we had in fact beaten the Angels; they truly were unstoppable.
The Yankees are still one of the most talented all around teams in baseball. They have improved a great deal over this offseason, but so have we. If we can keep our cool and win the big games against the Yankees, I think the rest will work itself out. I have faith in my Sox.
However, I’m not a Yankee hater by any means. I consider myself a good sport and I try not to be a sore loser. I’ll leave it at “may the best team win.” We will see, New York, we will see.
If I were to ever find myself in a position of teaching baseball offense to someone, I think I would use last night’s Yankees-Red Sox game as a model for my class.
Baseball is a game where scoring is pretty unpredictable. It’s very hard to know when there’s going to be a shutout, or when, like last night, a team is going to score 20 runs. Offense can sometimes be misinterpreted due to this. Just because a team loses 2-1, it doesn’t mean that their offense wasn’t working. They clearly weren’t at their best, but who’s saying they didn’t leave the bases loaded in every inning? They failed to produce, but I think that loading the bases still counts for some sort of offense.
Because games like that (stranding the bases loaded so much) are rare, I would probably choose a clear offensive game for any example in my “class”.
Last night, was an unbelieveably clear, offensive game. Our starter, Brad Penny, left the game after 4 innings, already having allowed 8 runs. There is an ongoing problem with Penny that was clearly shown here. I’ll let you take a guess as to what this problem is with the help of this stat- He threw 89 pitches through 4 innings last night.
Yeah, Mr. Penny throws far too many pitches and therefore wears himself out ridiculously soon in the game. Sorry, but this is not the guy we want starting off a series like this.
Our relievers didn’t fare much better against the torrent of hits the Yankees were bringing upon us. Michael Bowden came in and let up 7 runs in 2 innings, even worse (if you can believe it) than Penny had done.
Surprisingly, Takashi Saito, one of our relievers that has really struggled this season, produced one of the few really good innings in the game, allowing no hits and no runs while striking out one.
The lead just kept building, even as our offense began to
FINALLY produce. We scored 10 runs in the last 5 innings of the game, but the Yankees, already leading 6-1 before this point, scored 14 runs to match that. While 14-10 might have been a decent game for us, because of those early innings, the score was actually 20-11. Yes, 20 runs. The most the Yankees have ever scored against us.
As much as I hate to admit it, the Yankees have one of the best offenses I’ve ever seen live. And as much as I wish it wasn’t true, they are (right now) just about the best possible example on how to run a baseball offense. They can hit (23 hits in the game), they hustle (8 doubles and a triple), they score (20 runs), and they wear a pitcher down (see “Brad Penny”).
Now before I get carried away, I’m going to have to stop getting so enthralled by the Yankee offense. And what can do this for me? A little Red Sox offense, please…
The Red Sox offense wasn’t so bad. Against most other teams, 11 runs wins a game. Lowell went 3-5, Pedroia went 2-5, and Ortiz went 2-4. Our offense was not nonexistent. It was just dwarfed by the superior offense of the Bronx Bombers. That pretty much spells out what we need to do tonight. We have to turn up the bats, crank off some hits, and outhit, outrun, and outscore the Yankees. I’m pretty sure that’ll lead to a win.
All this is not to say that the game didn’t have it’s bright points. Jerry Remy was back in the booth after an ongoing struggle with depression and lung cancer. Remy is my favorite broadcaster of all time, without a doubt, and I can’t even say how happy I am to see the man doing well and back doing what he is so good at.
Needless to say, I wasn’t the only one overjoyed to see the RemDawg back in business.
The pictures go on…
It is great to see so much love and happiness in the stands for Remy. He deserves it!
Also, in the 1st inning, Jacoby Ellsbury stole 2nd base to tie Tommy Harper’s Red Sox record of stolen bases in a season, at 54.
Jacoby is an ABSOLUTE speedster!
We know what we have to do. We can’t let this lead keep growing bigger and bigger. Now is the time to win! I still believe that we are as good as the Yankees, let’s prove it! So tonight, let’s duplicate the Yankees’ success and lead an offensive outburst of our own! GO SOX!!
Dare I say… “SWEEP!”
An article today in the New York Times said, referring to the Yankees, “The team that the Red Sox outclassed in recent years is now surging. The Red Sox are not.”
I would agree with this statement about a week ago. But now, as the Red Sox are fresh off a sweep over the Toronto Blue Jays, I have to say that I beg to differ. If anything at all, the Red Sox are surging. And what better time to be surging than heading into a series with the Yankees.
Let’s review the Toronto series. We came into it with the mindset that taking 2/3 games in this series would be a success. While our current Wild-Card rivals, the Rangers, were over in Minnesota fighting in a slightly more difficult series, we could expect to take at least one game against Toronto, a pretty weak team at this stage in the season. However, while we could have played this series with the mindset that we are pretty much ensured at least one game and that we didn’t need to play hard, our boys still played like they meant it.
Our offense was on fire, outscoring the Jays 24-11 in the series, and our pitching was very good as well, holding the Jays to 1 run in each of the last 2 games.
As well as our excellent play, we even saw a little bit of fun in the dugout. Forget the depressed faces of the past few series, we were happy to be winning again. Even some of our more quiet stars shone, and everyone was happy to see this.
I have to say that I am very happy and very proud with the way we played this past series, it seems that we have regained our offensive prowess and are ready to beat our rivals.
In other baseball news, a dead body was found yesterday on the Texas ranch owned by Chipper Jones’ family. Jones’ father says that “the man had entered the country from Mexico illegally and that the extreme heat and drought would have made it difficult for him to survive without food or water.” I found this a kind of wierd story and thought I should mention it…
We enjoyed the luxury of bringing out our own brooms against Toronto, but we have the most crucial series of the year thus far coming up. Let’s get out there and win!!
I figure I should make this another relatively quick entry, just because I am on vacation and I want to enjoy the outdoors a little. So here we go…
This morning, due to my struggling to figure out what to blog about, I decided to check out espn.com for some inspiration. I was hardly inspired by the centerpiece article on Brett Favre’s signing with the Minnesota Vikings, but that is a long story that many others have complained about already, so I will leave it untouched upon in this blog.
I did, however, notice a link at the bottom of the page, titled “Joe Mauer vs. Mark Teixeira.” It also happened to be a poll. As some of you may have discovered by now, I like polls. I enjoy voting on them as well as seeing the results of other peoples’ votes. So you can imagine my joy when I noticed this poll about one of my favorite baseball topics: the MVP race.
As my main rooting interest (the Red Sox) lies in the American League, I would say that I have a little more expertice on the goings on in the AL than in the NL. Therefore, I was even more thrilled that the poll concerned the AL MVP race. At this point in the season, the MVP race is usually narrowed down to 2-4 players that really deserve it and have a chance at winning. In the AL this year, the race is roughly down to 2 players: Mark Teixeira and Joe Mauer. While others are certainly close to them, these two are the front runners and it will most likely stay that way.
As with all awards races, there is constant debate over who of the two deserves the award more, who is better, etc. I like these discussions, because they really get me thinking and they allow me to apply a lot of baseball knowledge (as well as learn new things) in the process.
When I got to the poll, it was as simple as can be: “Who gets your American League MVP vote?”- Mauer, Teixeira, other.
I paused for a minute after reading this, carefully thinking over my answer. For this I had to rethink the criteria of an MVP. According to wikipedia.org, the MVP award was originally created to “honor the baseball player who is of greatest all-round service to his club and credit to the sport during each season; to recognize and reward uncommon skill and ability when exercised by a player for the best interests of his team, and to perpetuate his memory.”
Of course, the main idea of this quote is the part about being the greatest all-round service to your club. The player who is of most service to his club is, therefore, the “most valuable” player in the league.
When you run both Teixeira and Mauer through these criteria, both match that main idea. Teixeira has led his team to the best record in the MLB, and Mauer has carried his team to still be relatively in the running for the Wild-Card. However, a common accusation of both of these players (particularly Mauer, I think) is that each may not even be the most valuable player on his own team. Mauer’s teammate Justin Morneau won the MVP award in 2006, and has remained among the leagues top players since then. Teixeira is on one of the most star-studded lineups in baseball, including 2 time MVP Alex Rodriguez, and likely the best hitting shortstop of all time, Derek Jeter.
However, I believe that this season, both Mauer and Teixeira have been more valuable to their teams than any of their teammates, so those accusations can be forgotten in this argument.
The next criteria- “uncommon skill and ability.” Of course both of these players have uncommon skill and ability, as they are both even in the MVP race. This one isn’t even worth contemplating for very long.
And finally, these skills are “exercised for the best interests of his team.” I think that both of these players have used their skills to help their team. Both teams are in the hunt for the playoffs, and both have respectable records. While the Yankees have a very good all around team, Teixeira has been the main reason for their passing of my Red Sox in early August. Mauer has been playing as good as ever, and although his team has been great at times, he is largely the reason they are still in the chase.
After contemplating all of this (and remarkably, I didn’t really bring stats into all that much of it), I decided to vote for who I felt deserved the award most, and that was Mark Teixeira. While Mauer is one heck of a player and could very well win the award, I think that Teixeira deserves it, because he has led his team to take the league (and the Red Sox) by storm. If the Yankees end up going far in the playoffs (let’s pray they don’t!), it should be even more enforced that Teixeira is the MVP.
After I voted, I found that nearly 70% of people had in fact voted for Mauer. I can see why they would do so. However, I’m standing by my decision. What do you think?
Thanks for reading.
At least we know it’s possible…
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!
The Meter Tells the Tale
Sometimes when I’m walking by parking meters in the city, I like to look at the time remaining and wonder about the people parked there. What are they doing as the time ticks away, what kind of people are they?
I think that a parking meter ticking away can sometimes be a good metaphor for a baseball team struggling to stay in the race in late summer. Every opportunity a team gets, they must take, whether it is the chance to to move a 1/2 game up the standings or to sign a veteran that just might have that one little skill a team needs to keep the push going. As the time ticks away on the season, fewer and fewer opportunities like these will arise, and it will become more and more important for a team to capitalize on them.
Today, I believe, the Red Sox had an opportunity. We were one game from sweeping the Tigers, which would have been huge heading into a must-win series against our current wild card rivals, the Rangers. There was also, of course an opportunity involving our own division. The Yankees, with baseball’s best record and going strong, are beginning a road series against the Mariners today.
The Yankees, like most teams (including the Red Sox), are stronger at home than away, probably even enforced by how hitter-friendly the new Yankee Stadium is. This is one of the only two series between our next meeting with the Yankees at Fenway, and it is important for us to gain ground on them before we face them. If the Yankees win today, we are back to where we started after their sweep of us, and we have missed out on what could prove to be an important opportunity. If they lose, we are fortunate and things remain the same as they were this morning.
It is a missed opportunity because of the grim afternoon game we suffered through today. Hope was abuzz in the air before the game, the prospects of a sweep alive in many of our players’ faces. Dustin Pedroia looked happy to be enjoying a day off, and he too seemed excited for the possibilities of this game.
The Tigers went up 1-0 fairly early on an infield single. They scored once more on a Ryan Raburn homer in the 7th. Clay Buchholz, our starter, pitched a decent game, going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs, only 1 earned. He has definitely showed talent this year, and has definitely been unlucky enough to be given some unfavorable matchups, as well as a fair share of close game losses. His 1-3 record doesn’t really tell the whole story, in my opinion.
Tonight there is reason for excitement for Red Sox fans, as well as baseball fans. I am sure many people in Boston will be tuning in to the Yankees-Mariners game to see how it’s going for us. I am not always one to wish a loss upon another team, but tonight would be the night to do so. Sorry, Jane and others!
There is also excitement in Houston tonight, as Kazuo Matsui needs just one hit to get his 2,000th pro hit. Only 566 have come in the MLB (the others in Japanese pro baseball), but it is a monumental achievement nonetheless. Good luck to him in reaching this goal!
I hope that the missed opportunity for the Red Sox today will turn into a lesson for the team in the future, so that we can turn any upcoming opportunities like it into sucess!
Thanks for reading.
Familiar Face in Philly
Last night marked the return of one of the great pitchers of all time- Pedro Martinez. In an eventful game, he got the win vs. the Cubs in his first outing in nearly a year.
But first things first. The Red Sox beat the Tigers 8-2 to complete the sweep. Our ace Josh Beckett was on the mound and once again he delivered a strong performance, going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs. He’s become almost automatic when on the mound, as he has gone 7-1 in his last 10 starts and gone 7 or more innings in all but one of them. I think he is definitely in the top 4 pitchers in the AL right now, and possibly behind only Greinke and Halladay.
The other guy acquired in that trade with Florida back in 2006 also shined last night- Mike Lowell. He hit a homerun in the 2nd inning and didn’t look back from there, going 3-4.
We have made great progress in recovering from the Yankee series, almost completing a sweep of our own now! I have faith that we can ride this hot streak through this series and into what will be an important one against our wild card foes, the Rangers.
Now on to the Pedro news. Martinez started against the Cubs, throwing 5 good innings, with 3 runs and 7 hits allowed (in the same game, Shane Victorino was hit by a beer cup from an unruly fan, check out mlb.com for video) I, for one, am happy to see Pedro back in the game. Last year, before his father died, he asked Pedro to continue playing the game of baseball. It is heartwarming to see Pedro back in the game and still going strong because of this. I was always a big fan of him, even though he had his occasional issues.
Since Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, two other legends trying to return to the scene, have already made their sorry exits from this season (and probably the game), it is good to see that the one legend closest to Boston fans’ hearts still has a chance. And we had some good memories, didn’t we Pedro?
Thanks for reading.