Monday, July 31, 2006


I can't believe I just watched that happen again. I was watching and thinking there's no way he can do it again. Maybe he'll hit a double or something and Manny will hit him in, or something like that. It just seemed like too much to ask. Jerry even said, 'everyone in this park is thinking 3-run home run', but I was like nah, they'll rally and win or something, but it's just too much to ask. I mean he just had a walkoff single two games ago.

...and then, like it's scripted, the ball rockets off his bat to dead center and it's yet another walkoff.



PS: I like the non-move at the trading deadline. Didn't like the sound of any of the rumors that surfaced.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Contract Year

OK. I've been out of the loop a little bit, was on vaca, blah, blah. Trying to get back into the swing of things here as the Sox have done so well over the past few games. I'll admit that I fell asleep during the game last night, but hey we were up 4-0 and the game seemed to be in good hands.

It was nice of the Yankees to complement our win last night with their third loss in a row, bringing our lead back to a comfortable 3 1/2 games. I've been thinking that not only is this the year that we win the division outright, but could this be the year that we make it to the playoffs without a nailbiting end-of-season dogfight...I'd like to think that it is.

I'd like to echo Aaron's distaste for the likes of one Mister Jerry Callahan. That guy is a boob. Usually I hate him for his politics, but acknowledge that he is pretty smart on most things sports. However, I agree with Aaron, that in this case he's on the total wrong side of the argument.

On that note, it's nice to see the Sox signing guys BEFORE they're contract is up. I just never got that strategy. If the guy has a bad year, ok, you get to cut your losses, but if the guy has a good year you have to pay through the nose to get him back or watch him waltz over to another team, ala Pedro. Even given the horrible outing he had against the Sox, tell me you wouldn't want Pedro stepping up to the mound during the postseason this year. Wouldn't it have been better to have signed Pedro for a 2-3 year extension after the '03 season, or sometime in '04? We could have signed him for a lot less money than he's making now and we would've got to see Pedro retire a Red Sox. Instead they wait until the contract year is done and let someone else swoop in and woo him away...and we end up trying to replace him with Ooh-My-Head Clement. That worked out well.

We probably could have wrapped up Johnny Damon for a lot less cake than we ended up offering him. Yes, I hate him now. But his numbers sure look a lot better than Coco's at this point (though he definitely could not have made That Catch), and for '03-'05 I had him on my list as the second most clutch hitter on the Sox behind you know who. There are many, many other examples of how the wait-till-their-contract-year-is-over strategy sucks, but I know you have your own list in your head too.

That's it for now. Just wanted to get something up and get used to writing again.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Dennis and Callahan

I've tried hard not to use this blog to rant. I've refrained from doing much bashing. I've even put positive spins on games the Sox have lost. Not this time.

The focus of my ire is Jerry Callahan of the Dennis and Callahan show (WEEI's primetime "drive" programming). I don't normally listen to WEEI in the morning for a variety of reasons but I happened to have it on the other day. The topic of discussion was the Josh Beckett contract extension. For those living underneath a rock in the New England area, the Sox gave Beckett a three extension to his existing one year contract at an average of $10M/year locking him up until 2010.

Now here's the thing. I know that Beckett isn't perfect. He's had some tough games this year where he's given up the long ball WAY too many times. But at the end of the day, he's 26, he throws 95-97 mph, he has a lifetime record of 53-39 with an ERA of 3.68. Oh yeah, he's also 12-5 and leads the league (along with Schilling and Halladay) in wins. One more thing, he single handidly took the 2003 Marlins on his back and did the impossible by beating the Yankees and winning the World Series -- as a result he was named WS MVP. He was 23 at the time.

In spite of those impressive stats, and a pretty darn good record this year, Jerry Callahan was all over the Red Sox about doing Beckett's extension now. Callahan's point was that Beckett isn't reliable enough due to the FOUR bad games he's had this year. FOUR. He also was nervous about Beckett's past injuries (blister problems). This is a legitimate concern but you know what, it's a concern with any player in any sport at any time.

What really got me was the fact that Jerry Callahan is a pretty smart guy. In spite of being a smart guy, Callahan insisted on complaining about how stupid it was for the Sox to do this deal. "You don't know what you're getting in Beckett over the next four years," he contended. "Why not wait until his contract is up to see what kind of pitcher he turns out to be for the Sox before extending his contract?"

Jerry, here's the problem with that stupid logic. 1) We know exactly who Beckett is. He's a flame throwing stud who CAN pitch in the big game, doesn't seem phased by the Boston fans (no small feat). He's also 12-5, has 10 quality starts, and is the second best pitcher on the Sox this year. 1) So far, he's been the oppitomy of health with no blister problems at all. 3) Premium pitching is almost impossible to acquire these days and as a result, teams pay exhorbidant sums for mediocre performers. To wit:
  • Andy Pettite (Houston): 8-10/5.08 ERA -- Salary = $16.4M
  • Chan Ho Park (San Diego): 6-6/4.64 ERA -- Salary = $15.5M
  • Mike Hampton (Atlanta): NA/NA -- Salary = $14.5M (out for 2006)
  • Matt Clement (Red Sox): 5-5/6.61 -- Salary = $9.8M
  • Eric Milton (Cincinatti): 6-5/5.48 ERA -- Salary = $9.8M
Do you think any of those teams would like Beckett on their team? Well, the Sox are one of those teams that invested in a stinker (Clement) and I guarantee that they are happy to have Beckett.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, Callahan sounded like a complete ass trying to make a case as to why the Sox shouldn't have re-upped Beckett now. Really Jerry? Should they have employed the same strategies they did with Pedro and Damon? The "let's wait until their contracts are up and the player is on the verge of free agency" tactic? That didn't seem to work out too well in those negotiations. It also bit them in the behind with Varitek when the market for decent catchers dried up and they were stuck paying him $10M/four years when they really wanted to go $8M/three years.

I don't always agree with Boston's front office moves. I also know that Beckett has been far from perfect this year. But more often than not, he's pretty freakin' dominant. He's also entertaining to watch, he's a competitor, and more importantly, he's 26 years old -- with a World Series ring. I will now step off my soap box but I can promise I won't be listening to Dennis and Callahan anytime in the near future.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Jonathans

My goal is to make this my shortest post ever. That said, I have two points to make:
1) Wow! I know it was only the KC Royals but man did Lester (and Papelbon) look good last night. Even though KC's pitching stinks -- you wouldn't know it by the Sox lack of hitting -- they have a pretty decent offensive lineup. One hit? Amazing.
2) Saw the Portland Seadogs last night up in Manchester. They were playing the Fisher Cats. Great little gig they've got going. I was amazed at how young the players were. They all looked like they were between 18-20 years old. The best part? Total cost to bring my wife and kids to the game including food, tickets, and parking was less than $100. Try doing that at Fenway.


Monday, July 10, 2006

The Long Hot Day

Rehashing yesterday's disappointing 19 inning loss at this point is somewhat pointless. The two guys that could have won the game for the Sox (Papelbon not giving up the 2 out HR in the 9th and Ortiz flying out on a 3-0 count with the bases loaded earlier in the game) can both be excused. The namesakes of this blog have been the secret sauce for this team so far and if anyone deserves a mulligan, they do.

That said, the Sox are in a very good place right now. Not only are they in first place leading the Yankees by three games, they are four games better than they were last year at this time. There are also a lot fewer question marks. To be honest, I could see the Sox not making ANY moves prior to the trade deadline.

With the infusion of youth and the relative healthiness of the everyday players, the Sox are in better shape than any other team in the AL with the exception of maybe the White Sox. With Hansen, Delcarmen, Lester, and Papelbon coming on like the studs we had all hoped they would be, what upgrades could you make right now? Would I like to replace Seanez in the bullpen? Absolutely. Would I like to see the Sox trade Clement for another no. 4 starter, even if it means eating 1/2 to 3/4 of his salary? Absolutely. But even if they don't, they should still be fine.

The one thing I could see the Sox going out and getting for the second half of the season is a big bat off the bench. A veteran guy like they had in Ellis Burkes two years ago. Right now, the Sox are a little weak when it comes to pinch hitters late in the game. I know Wily Mo might be an option but he's still young and largely unproven. I have full confidence that Epstein will pull some rabbit out of his hat like he's been known to do in the past. I'm sure we'll also pick up another reliever considering the fact that you can never have enough help in your bullpen, especially as starters begin to wear down late in the seaon.

On a complete side note... the Sheryl Crow/Dave Matthews show the other night was awesome. Great sound, perfect night, one of the better concerts at Fenway if I don't say so myself (I've been to three out of the four). Can't wait to see who they get for next year -- maybe U2? That would be awesome.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Three Things

I will be posting after a Sox victory tonight and after the Dave Matthews show at Fenway, but wanted to get something out there to replace my "Tampa Bay Blues" post in the lead spot.

One: David Ortiz -- in the words of local sportscaster, Bob Lobel (and lush extraordinaire), "why can't we get guys like that?" Oh yeah, we did. And he's awesome. And he hits a lot of freakin' home runs. Score one for the good guys.

Two: What was up with the Yankees/Indians series. Did I miss the unwritten rule that the winner in each of the last three games was required to post at least a touchdown and a field goal? Aggregate score of that series... Indians 31, Yankees 23. Yow!

Three: Alex Gonzalez is an out-and-out playah. Believe me, I wanted to trade Manny for Miguel Tejada more than anyone in the offseason. But the beautiful thing is that we were able to get 75% of Tejada (with better fielding % -- 2 E's vs. 11), keep Manny, and save $9.2 million dollars per year (Miggy's 2006 salary is $11.8 million vs. Gonzalez' $2.6 million).

Over and out...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Tampa Bay Blues

We knew the Sox weren't going to be able to maintain their frenetic pace. What we didn't know was that the Tampa Bay D-Rays were going to be the buzz saw that brought a hot streak of 14 wins in 15 games to a screeching halt.

Rather then go to immediately to the negative (the Boston Globe is sure to do that for me), I'm going to take this opportunity to point out a few of the D-Rays positives instead. I have to say, this is a team that looks to be just two starting pitchers, a closer, and a middle relief pitcher from being at least in the hunt. They're hitting about .275 as a team and have more HRs than the Sox. They also have a bonified ace in Kazmir (just ask the Sox hitters) and a solid fourth or fifth starter in Fossum.

I know it's easy to say that a team is two starting pitchers, a closer, and a good middle relief pitcher away from being in the hunt -- it's sort of like saying the San Francisco 49ers are a QB, running back, two wide receivers, and a couple of good defensive backs away from being a Super Bowl team. However, it does seem like Tampa Bay is closer then they've been in a while.

For one, they have a manager in Joe Maddon who doesn't act like an angry 10 year old every time something doesn't go his way. Tampa also doesn't seem to be falling into the rut of going after guys that are 3-5 years past their prime e.g. "Fred McGriff." Instead the D-Rays are happy to let the young guys like Crawford, Gomes, and Baldelli go out and compete (hard to believe that after 4-5 years in the bigs, these guys are still 24, 25, and 24 respectively.)

On a side note, is there any chance for Jason Johnson's next start, the Sox can have him pitch two simulated innings in the bullpen and then come out and start the game in what would be his 3rd inning? Two games in a row he's killed the Sox by giving up 5 runs early only to have the bullpen hold serve for the rest of the game. I know, I said I wasn't going to be negative but let's chalk this up to "constructive criticism."

Looking forward to starting another major winning streak tonight in the last game of the set with the D-Rays and then continuing that streat tomorrow night against the ChiSox. Great pitching match-ups in each of the three weekend games (Lester vs. Buehrle, Beckett vs. Garcia, and Schilling vs. Contreras). Let's hope those games look as good in reality as they do on paper.

Go Sox!