Monday, January 26, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
For all of the female fans who cite Ellsbury as their favorite player because "he's, like, so dreamy," there are those of us who rank him somewhat lower, mostly for his inability to hit inside fastballs. Seriously. As petty as it seems, I admit to judging young women who call themselves fans and can only name one player on the entire team, and then often don't even know that he plays center field [and occasionally the other outfield positions]. Sorry... just had to get that pet peeve out there...
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
(2) While watching the aforementioned programming on the MLB Network [Game 2, to be exact], I noticed that Jason Varitek was inadvertently showing the fans what we would be getting for all of 2008. He struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning, grounded out weakly several times, and just all around choked in the clutch. Though Varitek's hitting game is clearly on the decline, I would not be altogether opposed to him returning for a year with an incentive-laden contract, especially if the Sox could acquire a young catcher to be his protege [Saltalamacchia from the Rangers, or Montero form the Diamondbacks].
(3) I can't wait to watch coverage of the World Baseball Classic. Unofficially, Sox players that will be participating include Daisuke Matsuzaka [Japan], Jason Bay [Canada], David Ortiz [the Dominican Republic], and Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis [United States]. Five players representing four different countries - how many MLB teams can make that claim? Also, five players is fewer [and therefore better] than the seven to nine that Terry Francona was estimating would participate. In case you forgot, Matsuzaka was the MVP of the inaugural Classic: hopefully he is more careful this time, yet just as effective.
(4) I couldn't be happier about Kevin Youkilis' new contract. The right side of the Red Sox infield is arguably now younger, cheaper, and more productive than any other Major League team. Youkilis and Pedroia are premier players at their positions. They have each won a Gold Glove, and finished in the top 3 of the MVP voting this year. Not to mention the fact that they are both home grown players. As Youkilis said during his press conference, the Sox minor league system was, until recently, decidedly underwhelming. Now, an impact player comes up just about every year. In 2006 Papelbon made a sensation of himself, in 2007 it was Pedroia and Ellsbury who tore up the postseason, and this year Jed Lowrie came up to replace the injured Julio Lugo and was a definite upgrade, despite a broken bone in his wrist. I could get used to this.
(5) Nick Cafardo has an interesting thought in his Boston Globe Baseball Notes column today. "This off season, the Yankees went wild with the signings of Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett. Sabathia's postseason history is poor - 2-3. 7.92 ERA." This is potentially because he practically carries his team all season: in 2007, he pitched for 240 innings; this year, he pitched 253. If he has to shoulder that kind of load again, it might spell trouble for New York, but with A.J. Burnett's injury history, such an occurrence would not be out of the question. On a related note, it might be prudent for the Sox to limit Jon Lester's innings this season after he played for a career high 210 last year.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
What took them so long? How can that franchise have the audacity to plead poverty and demand public funds to build a new, state-of-the-art stadium, and then go on a spending spree? This off season, the New York Yankees have spent nearly half a billion dollars on three free agents [CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira], and yet, they can't afford to fund their own stadium, asking the taxpayers of New York for help.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
What do any of us know about Jed Lowrie, really? Did you know, for instance, that his middle name is Carlson? Or that he hits more than a hundred points better at night (.288) than during the day (.184)? I think we can safely blame that last one on small sample size, but Lowrie just might be the biggest mystery in the Sox infield [beyond "Will Mike Lowell be 100%?"]. However, Mike Lowell's health affects his level of productivity, whereas we have yet to discover the potential ceiling for Lowrie. He had a broken bone in one of his hands down the stretch last season: was that part of the reason that his average versus left handed pitching was significantly worse than against right handed pitching, or is it more of an inherent weakness?
In 2007, while in the minor leagues [Pawtucket and Portland], Lowrie hit .250 against lefties, and .277 against righties: a difference, yes, but in this larger sample, it seems he hits better left handed than right handed, giving credence to the theory that his injured hand affected his hitting. If this is the case, Lowrie might even prove to be impressive, not simply an acceptable replacement for the injured Lugo.
Friday, January 9, 2009
As a starter, Julio Lugo was average at best, and excruciating at worst. In the 81 games he played at shortstop in 2008, Lugo committed sixteen errors, but at times, it felt like sixty.
However, I'm alright with the prospect of him as a bench player. Say, for instance, that Mike
Lowell needs a day of rest at the beginning of the season (well within the realm of possibility). Jed Lowrie shifts to third base, and Lugo plays short. Or, if you don't like that, Lowrie keeps Lowell company on the bench, Lugo plays short, Youk slides to third, and Kotsay fills in at first.
The versatility that Kotsay demonstrated at the end of last year is a great boon to the Sox. Say JD Drew needs an epidural (crazy, right?). So far, it's unknown how much Baldelli will be able to play at a time. However, because Kotsay is an above-average outfielder who can play center, Baldelli's health is less of a problem. Keep in mind that Theo would not have signed Baldelli if his health was as bad as has been speculated.
Only one month and five days until pitchers and catchers!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
So, like I said already, Pedroia is easily my favorite player. Ever. I'm not sure how to explain the depth of my admiration, so I'll start with a little anecdote. My friend Rosa and I went to Game 5 of the ALCS [I know...!]. We got there before the gates opened, and when they did, we went to stake out a space near the field to shamelessly beg for player's autographs. We got the perfect spot: not only were we standing right next to the dugout, but there was a cute little boy in a Sox jersey next to us who was adept at getting players to sign. He regaled us with tales of autographs he had gotten - and told us he had over 200! At least one from every current Sox player. That kid was a professional. Anyway, every time a player would walk toward the dugout, the kid would shout "Mr. Ellsbury [or whoever], will you please sign!?" Finally, Dustin Pedroia walked toward us. The kid didn't let us down; he shouted long and loud, and Pedroia looked over at us, smiled, and said he'd sign when he came back. He didn't get back out until after the ushers sent us to our right field seats, but the possibility of getting Pedroia's autograph, coupled with my proximity to him [about eight feet], made me literally shake with excitement.
I knew it would be a good day after that, and it was epic! Everyone knows what happened that night, so I'll spare you the recap. You also know about Pedroia's off season haul: Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and American MVP, added to his Rookie of the Year Award and World Series ring from 2007. However, more than any award he's recieved [are there any he didn't win?], the thing I love most about Pedroia's off season is his six year, $40.5 million dollar contract with the Sox. As a fan of the team, and baseball in general, you have to love the comments he made at the press conference announcing the deal [above]. It's rare to hear a player so succinctly articulate the feelings of the fan base, but Pedroia succeeded, as he has most of his career.
We all know that our second baseman has a bit of an attitude: something that in a bigger man would be obnoxious, but in Pedroia comes off as delightfully scrappy. Pedroia has gone on record as saying that he should be allowed to be measured in his spikes, on concrete. Sorry, Dustin, but that still wouldn't get you to your listed 5'9". He has also been known to return to the dugout after a home run [he hit 17 in 2008] and shout something like "Ninety-eight coming in, a hundred ninety-eight going out!" He makes such cracks often and indiscriminately, flexing his biceps and exclaiming "Strongest 160 pound man in the league!" Looking at him, with the sun shining off his prematurely balding head, you just have to laugh.
To these endearing qualities you add the fact that the man can play. His numbers and accolades speak for themselves: he only sat out five games all season, and hit .326, slugged .493, and had a .376 OBP. His defense is electrifying - if his uniform isn't dirty by the fifth inning, it's an off day. What more is there to say? Watching Pedroia play baseball is a wonderful experience. He's an entertainment for the young fans, and plays the game the right way, which pleases the old hard-liners.
Hands down, one of the best things about #15 is the fact that he expects to win. Every day. It doesn't matter to him that winning 162 games is, for all intents and purposes, impossible. He expects to go 4-for-4 every day, unless he goes 5-for-5. I remember one game in which he hit a homer, a triple, a double, and then hit another double. Afterwards, someone jokingly asked him why he hadn't tripped and stayed at first, so he would have hit for the cycle. He looked at them, perplexed, and deadpanned, "Why would I want to do that?" He often reiterates that he doesn't care for personal statistics, as long as the team is winning, going on record as preferring a trip to the World Series over every award in baseball. Now, that is a player.
I fully expect Pedroia to continue his self-described "laser shows" in the 2009 season, and beyond. Maybe this year he'll even beat Terry Francona at cribbage... but probably not. After all, Pedroia's been an underdog for most of his life; we don't want to take away the last thing he's terrible at.
I think this is hilarious, and pretty much sums up Pedroia - he knows better than to take himself seriously, except on the diamond.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Pedroia was actually my inspiration for the name of this blog. He knows [deep, deep, inside] that he can't hit a homerun every at-bat, so he contents himself with drilling balls Off the Monster.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Here's the link. Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Youk, if it's true!
OK, first of all: vomit.
Now that's out of my system... Is he serious? Really, does he think that anyone believes that his sordid history with the Red Sox had nothing to do with this move? All that nonsense about being closer to his family, most of whom live in Baltimore... maybe he wasn't aware that he actually could have signed for a similar amount of money to play in Baltimore?
Personally, I think Scott Boras (who you have to admire, even if you don't like him: when people ask me what I want to do with my life, I often tell them that I dream of being Scott Boras-but that's another story) used Teixeira's longstanding grudge against Boston in order to orchestrate this whole thing. The Red Sox uncharacteristically made it very clear that they coveted Teixeira; the Yankees love swooping in at the last minute and signing someone away from Boston; the incident between Teixeira and the Sox happened so long ago (almost TEN YEARS). Most people would be over it by now, especially considering that the perpetrator here, Dan Duquette, has long since been fired, but not Marky Mark.
This was the perfect way to stick it to Boston: not only were they used to drive up his price, but he got the ultimate satisfaction of signing with the team with the worst connotations for the Red Sox.
OK, yes, that was terrible. It was hard enough to take his signing with the Yankees, but another thing entirely to swallow all that sludge he spewed about the greatness of the Yankees. News flash: I didn't buy it when it was coming out of CC Sabathia's mouth (actions speak way louder than words in that case: it was pretty obvious that CC was waiting for someone-anyone-to come anywhere near the Yankee's offer. No one stepped up, the Yankees bid against themselves, and the rest is history.), and I don't buy it now. The only glimmer of truth that I heard in the whole thing was about his wife. She told him "I want you to be a Yankee." Sorry Leigh, but I heard that you simply didn't want to come to Boston, for whatever reason. Good for her: I'm pretty sure no one in Boston wants her there anyway (was it just me, or did she look like she was about twelve years old?).
All in all, it's fine. I - like most other Sox fans, I suspect - am going to love hating this man. In an ironic twist, Teixeira took Yankee's jersey #25, the same number as Mike Lowell, the man the Red Sox would probably have traded to make room for him. Sorry, Mark, but you're not fit to shine Mike Lowell's spikes. Lowell is the very definition of a consummate professional. There is no way he would hold a grudge against an organization for something that happened nearly a decade before. Heck, Lowell won't even hold a grudge against the Sox for shamelessly offering him as trade bait for months.
I hope Teixeira's been taking notes from Lowell on how to be a class act. He'll need them on April 24, during his first at-bat at Fenway Park. He'll probably get the fan reaction usually reserved for dear old Joba Chamberlain when he throws a heater at Youk's head. And his wife? The jeers directed at her will rival those normally hurled at A-Rod.
You know what? I can't wait.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
I mean, are Red Sox fans so quick to forget that? Is it suddenly OK, in the wake of losing out on Teixeira, to throw common sense to the wind and re-sign the team's biggest and most expensive[albeit productive - when it suited him] headache in recent memory? Are Sox fans willing to overlook the fact that he was such a problem in the clubhouse that Francona, a manager famous for backing up his players, couldn't wait to get rid of a man who has accumulated over 1700 RBIs in his prodigious career? Obviously, Manny was a pain beyond what we as fans saw: the conveniently timed phantom "injuries," the shoving of an elderly team employee, the three-pitch strikeout at Yankee Stadium when the bat never even left his shoulder, etc.
It is absolutely true that Manny Ramirez is an exceptionally talented ballplayer: he is a lock for the Hall of Fame, is arguably the best right-handed hitter of his time, and even showed the world that he is capable of impressive speed on the base paths (once he escaped from big, bad, Boston). But for all the talk of a player's "intangibles" as part of his worth for a team (see "Varitek, Jason"), where is the acknowledgement of negative intangibles? Because as fun as Manny can be to watch - like when he makes a jumping, high-fiving, double play, for instance - it can often be downright infuriating to watch Manny being Manny and realize that the ticket you purchased (for entirely too much money) is helping to pay the obscenely large salary of a clown who literally rolls around left field like a tee baller with ADHD.
Don't get me wrong, I realize Manny was an instrumental part of the World Championships the Sox have won in the last five years, and for that I am eternally grateful. But Theo has a well-earned reputation for making deals that are good for the team, and for letting aging players walk before they fall apart. It astounds me that there are fans out there who are so panicked about the lack of a true power bat in the (tentative) 2009 lineup that they are willing to overlook the emotional turbulence that Manny subjected us (not to mention people actually employed by the Red Sox) to in his seven and a half seasons here. In Theo We Trust: I believe he has something up his sleeve, and even if he doesn't now, he'll figure it out soon enough.
Just in case I left you with any doubt, MANNY IS NOT COMING BACK, and nor should he. I prefer to remember him when he was a positive member of the team: 2004 World Series MVP, the walk-off HR during the 2007 playoffs, hitting #500 in Baltimore. Manny is a great player, and he'll probably continue to be - we can just hope that his greatness resides in the National League.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Most of my friends are what you would call "casual fans," and therefore have no interest in Dustin Pedroia's OPS+ [you'll discover in short order that I have a minor obsession with our diminutive second basemen]. It makes me feel a little better [read: not insane] that I've found whole online communities of people like myself, whose lives are all but consumed with baseball in general and the Red Sox in particular.
I plan to post every day, since one of the things that frustrates me most about my favorite blogs is that I sometimes have to wait for new entries. I understand that most bloggers have actual jobs to attend to, but really, what are people's priorities?? [Another upside to Off the Monster: since I'm a student, I have a disgraceful amount of free time on my hands, which of course means more time to write.]
However, I think that's enough for now. Oh, and for those who are interested, Pedroia's OPS+ was 122 in 2008.