Last time, we talked about a happy time for Red Sox fans. While reliving some of your painful memories can be tough, watching some of them makes the 2011 season seem like a walk in the park. That’s why I got my hands on a copy of Game Six of the 1986 World Series. I know the Red Sox lost and I know they had it in the bag and had to wait another 18 years but if you watch this game from an unemotional view point, this is one heck of a game.
The back and fort is great. The Red Sox take a small lead and the Mets tie it up. The Red Sox take another small lead and tie it up again. Then we go into extra frames and the two teams combine for almost as many runs in the tenth as they do in the first nine innings. Then that bottom of the ninth happened. I know Billy Buckner gets a lot of the blame but in my opinion, there’s plenty to go around. I’m just glad we’ve gotten two World Series wins since then.
The Red Sox took a one game lead in the AL East after back to back wins and then back to back losses by the Yankees. Of couse at this point it looks like the two teams are playing more for home field and seeding but still. It was also the second straight game that they’ve pasted the Rangers.
They scored 13 yesterday. Carl Crawford drove in five runs and Jacoby Ellsbury scored three times in the blowout. Ellsbury, Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez all went yard in the win.
Josh Beckett picked up with the win with another nice start. He gave up a run on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings. The win improved his record to 11-5 on the season.
Andrew Miller gets the start tonight. Alexi Ogando throws for the Rangers so this is going to be a tough one. You wonder how much MLB playoff tickets will go for if this is the series in the first round.
We’re four months into the season and the Red Sox not only sit atop the American League East, but they have the best record outside of the Phillies. Not that we can let up now because the Yankees are just two games back. Still, even “if” the Yankees catch up, the Red Sox have an effective 8 1/2 game lead for the Wild Card. If you thought Red Sox tickets were tough to get now, they’ll be near impossible in September.
Today, Andrew Miller was roughed up but the hitters came through and so did the pen. Miller gave up three runs on ten hits in 5 2/3 innings but three relievers combined to throw 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief. Jon Papelbon threw a shutout ninth and he picked up save number 24.
Jacoby Ellsbury had a pair of hits and two runs. Jason Varitek had just one hit but it was a two run home run. Adrian Gonzalez had a pair of doubles and he now sits at 32 on the season.
Next up are the Indians. John Lackey gets the start tonight and Josh Tomlin goes for the Indians.
The Red Sox are hanging in there but things are really interesting. You’ve got the Yankees and Rays in a tight race where if you throw any of those three teams in a different division with their record, they’d be on top. As it stands, the Red Sox sit in second place, but they’re just a half game back of the Yankees and a game and a half ahead of the Rays. From what I hear, it’s almost impossible to get Red Sox tickets now and it’s only going to get tougher especially if you want to see them play one of their division rivals.
The Red Sox kick off a three game series against the Phillies beginning tomorrow. They just lost a disappointing series against the Pirates but they salvaged things with a 4-2 win yesterday. Andrew Miller had a decent start and he picked up his first win for the Red Sox with six solid frames. He gave up just two runs on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts in six innings. Jon Papelbon threw a shutout ninth and he picked up his fourteenth save of the season.
Adrian Gonzalez continues to rake and he’s an early MVP candidate. He went two for three with two walks and he’s now hitting .361 which is almost 30 points better then Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera in the American League. And Josh Beckett is Cy Young quality this year. He leads the league in ERA even with his strikeouts down a little. You just wonder how long he’ll be able to keep that .174 batting average against though.
April 2011 is a month I think most Red Sox fans would rather forget. After their blockbuster offseason, the Red Sox came out flat and while they still sit near the cellar, they’re inching their way back up to the .500 mark. In fact if they close out the month with a pair of wins, they’ll be 13-13. They still have a long way to go to catch the Yankees, but there’s also a lot of ball left to play.
Kevin Youkilis has had a bizarre season. He leads the team with five home runs and fourteen RBIs, but he’s hitting only .214. Of course he’s made up for that with 17 walks and his OPS is still knocking on the door of .900 because ten of his fifteen hits are for extra bases. Adrian Gonzalez hasn’t quite lived up to his billing with a .789 OPS but there’s still five months left for him to get his numbers up.
Jon Lester and Josh Beckett have been good but after that it’s been a crap shoot. John Lackey is still struggling and you wonder much more rope he’ll get. Dice-K has been okay and that’s a pleasant surprise but this rotation isn’t filling me with loads of hope.
Next up is three against the sub-par Mariners. They’ve won three straight so hopefully the Red Sox can walk away with some wins and end that nonsense. Even with the slow start, Red Sox tickets are hard to come by. I wonder how crazy it’s going to get once this team heats up.
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.
It wasn’t that long ago that Hideki Okajima was one of the premier set up men in the game. He was awesome in 2007 and 2008, good but declining in 2009 and then 2010 was a bit of a disappointment. Of course with Bobby Jenks in the fold, they no longer need Okajima to set up so that’s probably why they locked him up to a one year deal rather then see him go back to Japan. I’d say he’ll probably be used as a left handed specialist, but left handers were pretty effective against him in 2010 (.284) after three years of shutting them down.
Still, I like this move. It’s probably going to be low cost, and it gives the Red Sox some insurance in the pen in the event something happens to Jenks or Jonathan Papelbon. Best case, he finds his old form, reverses his declining strikeout and walk trends, and gives the Red Sox a third lights out option out of the pen. Worst case, he gets a little better against lefties then he was in 2010 and he pitches to a left handed batter or two every game.
I can’t think of any reason why someone would dislike the moves the Red Sox have made this offseason. Red Sox tickets are usually tough to come by but my guess is, they’ll be even tougher to nab this year.
Jon Papelbon will be the Red Sox closer to start the season, but the Red Sox will rely on another closer to set him up because they signed Bobby Jenks to a two year deal worth $12 million. Jenks could have probably gone to a team that would have let him close but he’s coming to team that’s red hot right now after Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford were signed into the fold.
Jenks had somewhat of an off year in 2010 with a 4.44 ERA but his strikeouts were up after being down in 2008 and 2009. It would be huge if the Red Sox caught lightening in a bottle and Jenks got back to his 2007 numbers when he had a 0.892 WHIP.
Big Papi will be a Red Sox for at least as another because it was announced yesterday that the team had picked up his $12.5 million option. Ortiz has been plagued by slow starts the last few years and if he could turn that around, he might be worth the price tag. I doubt if Ortiz, as just a DH, could have gotten this kind of money on the open market but hopefully it motivates him a little to play.
Baseball America recently released their Red Sox top ten prospects list. At the top of the list is 2008 first round draft pick Casey Kelly. The pitching convert had a rough season at Double A last year but it was his first full season as a hurler. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Red Sox keep Kelly at Double A to start the season or whether they bump him up to Triple A. Baseball America thinks we’ll be seeing Kelly in the rotation at some point in 2012.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias comes in at number two. Shortstop has been a revolving door for the Red Sox and while Iglesias is a little ways away, he could be the shortstop of the future. Slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo had a nice year last year and he’s third but his biggest problem is Kevin Youkilis blocking him. 2010 first round pick Anthony Ranaudo and lefty Drake Britton round out the top five. Britton is particularly interesting because he may have been a steal in the 23rd round and it looks like his Tommy John surgery is far enough in his past to where he should be able to start moving up the ladder.
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