When in god’s name did the city of Boston become so freaking cool? It’s seems as though every year, four new movies are set in Boston. The market is officially flooded for Boston in popular culture. You have the smartest people, your sports teams kick butt, you have unique (some may say annoying) accents and now every movie that wants to get an Oscar nod throws a script together and shoots the film in Beantown…ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. But I digress, here are your 2011 Boston Red Sox.
Left field: Carl Crawford. 2010 splits: .307 average, 19 home runs, 90 RBI, .851 OPS. Brief: A great signing for the Red Sox no doubt. Although don’t give the front office too much credit considering only three to four teams in the league could afford to pay for his services. Nonetheless, Crawford is simply a freak who possesses more tools than the Jersey Shore house (sappy joke I know, I’ll pick it up).
Center field: Jacoby Ellsbury. 2010 splits: .192 average, 0 home runs, 5 RBI, .485 OPS. Brief: Go ahead and chalk the 2010 season for Ellsbury, who was injury-riddled since jump street. When healthy, he provides another speed demon to go along with Crawford and another bat that should flirt if not cruise past the .300 plateau.
Right field: J.D. Drew. 2010 splits: .255 average, 22 home runs, 68 RBI, .793 OPS. Brief: If I’m not mistaken, Drew is a player that occasionally makes Sox fans want to scratch out their retinas. With new acquisitions Drew should be able to fall into a more comfortable role which will allow him to do his thing without catching as much flak: produce at an above average rate.
Third base: Kevin Youkilis. 2010 splits: .307 average, 19 home runs, 62 RBIs, .975 OPS. Brief: What a great, consistent hitter Youkilis is. He was a steading force in a 2010 lineup that was up and down for a majority of the season.
Also, what an attractive batting stance. (Which one of these sentences was sarcastic?). How will Youkilis handle the move to third base? Does he have the mobility? Does he have the quickness? Will his Civil War beard block his visibility on sharp grounders to the hot corner? Only time will tell.
Shortstop: Marco Scutaro. 2010 splits: .275 average, 11 home runs, 56 RBI, .721 OPS. Brief: Everytime I see a Scutaro highlight I sing “Su-su-sudio” by Phil Collins in my head, but that’s neither here nor there. Scutaro seems to be a great fit in this powerful Boston lineup. A nice bat that can consistently put the ball in play and good range at shortstop. The dude just needs to find a way to stay healthy this season.
Second base: Dustin Pedroia. 2010 splits: .288 average, 12 home runs, 41 RBI, .860 OPS. Brief: Hard to match his MVP season in 2009 and this year, with the potent lineup, he won’t have to. He’s coming off of foot surgery so it should be interesting to see what kind of start he gets off to. Still, the little man is one of the best in the business.
First base: Adrian Gonzalez. 2010 splits: .298 average, 31 home runs, 101 RBI, .904 OPS. Brief: Another newly minted superstar acquisition for the BoSox. They desperately needed another power hitter and the Red Sox got one in Gonzalez. The question all the blow hard baseball writers will ask is how will he do coming to the American League? I think this is an overrated statistic. Then again, I could have no idea what I’m talking about.
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz. 2010 splits: .270 average, 32 Home runs, 102 RBI, .899 OPS. Brief: Remember at the beginning of last year during Big Papi’s struggles when ESPN and the like made us feel like the sky was falling and that Ortiz couldn’t make contact playing tee-ball? Please, people don’t overreact, the baseball season is a marathon. One day you’ll wake up in the middle of July with a broken air conditioner and sweat soaked sheets that make you feel like you wet the bed and you’ll turn on the TV and see Ortiz is yet again putting up monster numbers…and you can run tell ‘dat homeboy.
Catcher: Jared Saltalamacchia. 2010 splits: .167 average, 0 home runs, 2 RBI, .625. Brief: I have a special place in my heart for Salt. I read a story last year that the only reason he was stuck in the minor leagues is because he struggled mightily throwing back to the pitcher. Now this conjures up memories of Rube Baker repeating Playboy articles to himself in Major League II. But, as a former high school catcher and neurotic head case, I can tell you that, that mental block is real and it can be one of the loneliest feelings on earth. Can I have a hug please?
Ok, we’ll be back next week for a report on starting and relief pitchers. PEACE.
In an odd way, pitching a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles in his second career major league start may have been one of the worst things that could have happened to Clay Buchholz. By becoming the first Red Sox rookie ever to pitch a no-hitter with a 10-0 masterpiece at Fenway Park on Sept. 1, Buchholz was elevated from one of the organization’s most promising prospects to one of the most watched in Major League Baseball. With increased expectations comes the natural desire to fulfill great promise. That added exertion can consequently result in minor alterations to the form that led to him becoming a top prospect in the first place.
For Buchholz, this and other factors contributed to maddening inconsistency this season. He earned a 2-3 record and a 5.53 ERA in eight starts for the Red Sox before a broken fingernail and blister on his right middle finger landed him on the disabled list in mid-May. When he was physically able to be activated, however, the Sox decided it was better to send him back to the minors to get straightened out.
When he returns tonight to face the Orioles again in the first game of the final three-game series before the All-Star break, Buchholz will do so on the heels of a two-month mental breather that allowed him to work on the mechanics of his fastball delivery, which the organization hopes will lead to the return of his no-hit form. Nearly all indications point to the return to Triple-A Pawtucket as being a resounding success. By moving his arm/hand farther away from his head on his fastball delivery, Buchholz rediscovered the movement on his primary pitch, which translated to a 4-2 record and a 2.47 ERA in nine starts. That included a 4-0, 0.40 ERA run of dominance in four starts from June 14-30 before falling to Lehigh Valley last Saturday. He allowed five runs on six hits and two walks in five innings against the Iron Pigs, but observers said some of the blame for the hiccup was due to a laughably-inconsistent strike zone.
Nation Notes: With two hits Wednesday, Dustin Pedroia extended his career-high hitting streak to 17 games, even though he started 0 for 4 in the 18-5 rout of the Twins. During the streak, Pedroia is 36 for 76 (.474). It’s the longest hitting streak of the season for the Sox, and the longest for a Sox second baseman since Todd Walker’s 19-gamer from May 10 to June 5, 2003. With three RBIs Wednesday, Manny Ramirez now has 1,663 in his career, four behind Sammy Sosa for 23d all time.
Theo Epstein vowed to create a scouting and player development “machine” when he became general manager in November 2002.
Two championships later, the Red Sox’ machine keeps churning out blue-chip players, and the product line is now diversifying to general managers. Since last year, the names of Ben Cherington, 33, the vice president of player personnel, and Jed Hoyer, 34, assistant general manager, keep popping up whenever GM vacancies occur, with Seattle being the latest example. To Epstein, it is a matter of when, not if, for the two to get promotions.
There is already one successful product to come out of the Sox’ GM farm system: Arizona’s Josh Byrnes. Byrnes, Epstein’s assistant general manager for three years (2003-05), brought Peter Woodfork, former Sox director of baseball operations, with him. Along with Cherington and Hoyer, Woodfork’s name is in the next-GM mix just as often. Yet with regards to the Red Sox’ crop of future GMs, it is Cherington’s and Hoyer’s time. Cherington has been with the Red Sox since 1999, filling his resume with stints as an area scout, coordinator of international scouting and director of player development. Hoyer joined the ballclub in 2002. A year later he joined Epstein for Thanksgiving dinner at Curt Schilling’s house before that trade, then became assistant to the GM. Cherington and Hoyer were co-GMs during Epstein’s job hiatus after the 2005 season.Epstein will not be left empty-handed if Cherington, Hoyer and Shipley leave. In Mike Hazen, director of player development, Jason McLeod, director of amateur scouting, and Brian O’Halloran, director of baseball operations, the training grounds of the next wave of GMs is already in full operational mode.
Nation Notes: Mike Timlin pitched a clean 8th inning vs. Richmond last night. Timlin on a rehab assignment, will pitch three or four one-inning stints for the PawSox. If all goes according to plans, Timlin is expected to be activated on July 4 against the Yankees.
Every dad should have had the luxury of celebrating Father’s Day the way the Red Sox did yesterday at Great American Ball Park.On an idyllic afternoon along the banks of the Ohio River, their 9-0 interleague pasting of the Cincinnati Reds was the equivalent of a stress-free couple of hours in a backyard hammock with a frosty beverage in hand and the peace of mind that all of the month’s bills had been paid. They belted four home runs, including one each by the top three in the batting order for the first time in nearly 11 years, providing Josh Beckett more than enough support in his best start of the season. Beckett (7-4), allowed only six hits in seven innings, while striking out six, for his first scoreless outing since a shutout of the Los Angeles Angels on four hits in Game 1 of last fall’s Division Series.
The Red Sox pounded Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey for five runs on four hits, including three homers, in only 2 innings and coasted from there to capture their eighth straight interleague road series. Jacoby Ellsbury (third inning off Bailey), Dustin Pedroia (sixth inning off Gary Majewski) and J. D Drew (third inning off Bailey) all cleared the fences, marking the first time since July 7, 1997 (Nomar Garciaparra, John Valentin and Mo Vaughn), that the top three in the Sox order went deep in the same game. Coco Crisp also clobbered a two-run home run into the right field seats off the aptly named Bailey.
The Sox improved to 5-1 in interleague play this season and 33-9 against NL opponents since the start of 2006, which is tied with the Detroit Tigers for the best record in that span. The Sox are 19-6 in their last 25 road interleague games.
Nation Notes: David Ortiz will have the cast removed from his left arm today in order to have the torn tendon sheath in his left wrist evaluated. A decision then will be made about keeping the cast off and beginning the rehabilitation process.
The Red Sox moved back into first place in the AL East last night with a strong-enough start from Josh Beckett, some solid station-to-station offense and a stand-up job by the bullpen. There were a couple of hard plays at second base involving Coco Crisp that resulted in some heated exchanges in the Red Sox’ 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. For a series in early June, that is about all the notice anyone could want that the intensity level is strong between these teams. They play each other 10 more times, including tonight’s series finale. Should be a good show.
Beckett (6-4) allowed one run without walking a batter, while striking out five and spreading out seven hits. He lasted six innings and 92 pitches, with manager Terr Francona hustilng the right-hander into the showers after a scary but inconsequential slip on the mound in his final inning. Beckett was fine, but with the Sox reeling from injuries to Daisuke Matsuzaka and David Ortiz in the last week, the Red Sox were not about to take a risk on it’s most precious pitching possession. The bullpen began its contribution in the seventh when Manny Delcarmen struck out all three batters he faced. Hideki Okajima, who has struggled of late, allowed only a single in the eighth while Craig Hansen continued his recent string of strong outings by retiring three straight batters after a leadoff walk in the ninth.
The offense began with a three-run third inning as Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D Drew (double) and Manny Ramirez delivered run-scoring hits against Rays starter Edwin Jackson. The teams traded runs in the fourth with Beckett allowing an RBI single by Eric Hinske and the Sox responding via Crisp’s sacrifice fly to score Kevin Youkilis.
Sox Notes: Baseball America just released its updated mock draft, and the respected trade publication has the Sox taking left-handed slugging first baseman David Cooper from Cal with the 30th pick of the first round. Cooper, who transferred to Cal from Cal-State Fullerton is listed at 6-1, 210 pounds.
Everybody in the Sox clubhouse was more than content to step aside in order to let the beaming Ramirez claim a moment he had been counting down to for longer than he would have ever imagined. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz had teamed to give the Red Sox their fourth back-to-back homers of the season in the third inning. They weren’t the story. The bullpen came on to pitch four more innings of scoreless relief a night after it had turned in seven frames without a run. Those guys took a back seat, too. Other Red Sox had hit the 500-homer milestone, with Jimmie Foxx doing it in 1940 and Ted Williams following suit 20 years later. But this one was accomplished in the much more magnified world of Manny, as evidenced by the surge of electricity that shot through Camden Yards the minute the ball marked “92” sailed off Ramirez’ bat. After slapping hands with Kevin Youkilis, Ramirez was thrust into a group embrace with Lugo and Ortiz, who had just put the Red Sox ahead for good with a sacrifice fly in the previous at-bat. He would finally break free to get mobbed by the rest of his teammates, who were waiting on the dugout steps.
Manny’s power overshadowed another stunning display of speed by Jacoby Ellsbury. For the second straight night the rookie stole three bases, allowing him to tie Tommy Harper for the most thefts in a month. Harper had stolen 18 in September 1973 on the way to finishing that year with a club-record 54. But it wasn’t a stolen base which proved most pivotal in exhibiting Ellsbury’s wheels. His most important sprints came on a leadoff triple in the seventh and subsequent race home on Ortiz’ sacrifice fly, leading up to Ramirez’ historic blast.
Sox Notes: David Ortiz left last night’s game in the ninth inning after feeling pain in his left wrist on a swing in which he fouled a ball down the left-field line on a full count. Ortiz’s at-bat was finished by Sean Casey. Ortiz underwent X-rays at the ballpark, which were negative, it’s unlikely he will play this afternoon.
The Red Sox’ 7-3 victory yesterday swapped sweep for sweep and established a little more realistic gap between the teams. While the 2008 Rays are a viable, talented and balanced team, the 2008 Red Sox played to their own level this weekend. After managing just five runs and 17 hits last weekend, the Red Sox offense sliced and diced its way to 26 runs and 39 hits in these three games, lifting their team batting average eight points to .286.
Beginning tonight, the Red Sox will be on a 10-day, 10-game road trip that begins with four in Detroit against the Tigers, whose own offense finally has risen out of its April slumber. Detroit’s pitching, especially its bullpen, is suspect, so what the Red Sox did against Tampa Bay was encouraging for their chances against Detroit. And the Sox will need pitching like they got this weekend against Tampa Bay and for much of the Blue Jays series before that.
Each of the last three starters, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester yesterday, recorded a victory and during the last eight games they have posted a combined 1.92 ERA. If the team continues to get starts like these, combined with mashing efforts from the offense, the current three-game AL East lead won’t disappear in the near future.
Sox Notes: With the Red Sox about to play the most loaded lineup in the league in Detroit over the next four games, the club decided that having an extra pitcher was more valuable than another bat. That was the main factor in the club’s decision last night that right-handed reliever Craig Hansen will be called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to take the roster spot of outfielder Brandon Moss, who will be placed on the disabled list (appendectomy).
The Sox took their first Japanese exhibition game from the Hashin Tigers, 6-5, in front of 37,431 fans in the Tokyo Dome. Jonathan Papelbon finished off the game with an inning of work, following Clay Buchholz, Kyle Snyder, Javier Lopez, and Manny Delcarmen.
The Red Sox offense was led by David Ortiz (2-4, HR, 1 R, 1 RBI), Kevin Youkilis (2-5), J.D. Drew (1-4, HR, 3 RBI), and Mike Lowell who went two for three with a run scored.
Tim Wakefield starts on Sunday for the BoSox.
Tim Wakefield threw three shutout innings, allowing one hit with three strikeouts and two walks on 48 pitches. Wakefield appeared to get stronger as the game progressed. David Aardsma and Bryan Corey contributed three scoreless innings of work in relief, however Craig Breslow, Hunter Jones and Lee Gronkiewicz didn’t fare blowing a 5-1 lead by surrendering 6 earned runs over the final 2 innings in a 9-6 loss to the Dodgers at Fort Myers. Dustin Pedroia, Sean Casey each had 2 hits and Jacoby Ellbury doubled and made an outstanding defensive play in center field. The Sox travel to Fort Lauderdale today to take on the Orioles at 1:05 PM.
Notes: The Red Sox agreed to terms with all 18 of their unsigned players for 2008, none of whom had his contract renewed. Jonathan Paplebon set a salary record for closers with just two-plus years of service time yesterday when he and the ballclub agreed to terms on a $775,000 one-year deal. Dustin Pedroia came to terms ($457,000), as did Jon Lester ($421,500), Manny Delcarmen ($421,000), Jacoby Ellsbury ($406,000), and Clay Buchholz ($396,000). The major league minimum is $390,000 this year. The other agreements were reached with pitchers David Aardsma, Craig Breslow, Bryan Corey, Devern Hansack, Kyle Jackson, Edgar Martinez, and David Pauley; catchers Dusty Brown and George Kottaras; infielders Chris Carter and Argenis Diaz, and outfielder and Brandon Moss.
Bartolo Colon will face live hitters on Saturday before the team heads to Vero Beach to play the Dodgers. George Kottaras tweaked a quadriceps muscle tripping over first base. Although he came out of the game, the injury is not expected to keep him out long.
Kyle Snyder threw 3 scoreless innings, walking 1 while surrendering 1 hit in his bid to win the No. 5 starters slot. Former all-star Dan Kolb attempting to make the club as a bullpen piece wasn’t sharp for the 2nd consecutive outing. Rookie Justin Masterson allowed 4 hits and 1 walk over 2 innings of work and although he suffered the loss, Masterson continues to impress.
The Sox and Twins finished the ‘B’ game in a 2-all tie called after nine innings. Joe Thurston, a nonroster invitee who two years ago was a Triple A All-Star at second base, played left field, singled home a run, and tripled and scored the other on a passed ball.
Bartolo Colon may not hit the ambitious target date he set for himself when he arrived at Red Sox camp last week, but the former Cy Young Award winner continues to impress his new team. Colon threw 42 fastballs and changeups to Doug Mirabelli and was able to locate to both sides of the plate.
Notes: Coco Crisp has a slight groin injury and will sit out today’s game against the Pirates. Julio Lugo is experiencing minor issues with his back and is considered day-to-day. The Red Sox are expected to make their first-round of spring training roster cuts after Saturday’s game against Florida.
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