Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Andrew Bailey to the Sox

 According to's Extra Bases blog, the Red Sox have traded for Oakland A's closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney.  Josh Reddick will be shipping out to Oakland, and  Class-A first baseman Miles Head and Class-A pitcher Raul Alcantara will be headed to A's minor league affiliate.

I know some of you grew pretty fond of Reddick last season, since he spent more than half the season with the big club, but his shoes are sure to be filled by someone capable.  While Rookie Reddick was serviceable, batting .280 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 87 games, he played just 56 of those games in right field.  According to the Globe's Pete Abraham, the Sox were downright deplorable in right field last season:
Red Sox right fielders hit .233/.299/.353 last season with 14 homers and 58 RBIs. Going by OPS, only Seattle was worse in the American League.
It's unlikely that Sweeney would end up being the full-time right fielder, as he's capable of playing all three outfield positions, and he seems to be more of a utility/fourth outfielder type, batting .265 with 25 RBIs and just one home run last season in 108 games.  We'll probably be seeing a lot of Ryan Kalish, who has hopefully fully recovered from all of his ailments.  Obviously, Kalish won't just be handed the job - there will be some competition in Spring Training.

But we all know that the gem of this deal is 27-year-old Andrew Bailey.  Since the departure of Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox Nation has been understandably worried about who is going to be closing games, especially because former heir-apparent Daniel Bard has expressed interest in starting.  Bailey should be a serviceable replacement, as he has 75 saves in his three-year career, and though his ERA went up considerably last year (1.47 to 3.24), he had nearly four times as many strikeouts as walks.

It will be interesting to see how Bailey fares in the AL East, especially after spending his career in the somewhat cushier AL West (though I'm sure he's happy he doesn't have to face the Angels and Albert Pujols 18 times a season).  All in all, this is a solid move for new GM Ben Cherington - maybe it will even get Red Sox Nation off his back.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas - have some copyright infringement!

I got an email from Brett Rudy the other day tipping me off to this post on Boston Sports Then and Now - apparently the Sox weren't allowed to use the image and name of Rudolph for their holiday promotion:

“We had discussed the opportunity of linking together Rudolph with the Boston Red Sox last year, and I know that you mentioned that was not something you were able to do. Then today, this message was distributed to their fans, and it currently is posted on their website. I’m wondering what changed.” Then it added, “We are disappointed that our concept and presentation seems to have been leveraged without our involvement.”
Well, it turns out the Red Sox liked the idea too much to let lack of a license slow them down, and they opted to proceed anyhow. According to Sharma later that same evening, there was still no deal. “Nothing has changed (and thank you for bringing this to our attention) – this use is unauthorized and will be dealt with appropriately.”

 This is obviously disappointing, since the Red Sox, as a subsidiary of Major League Baseball, are extremely strict about who uses their brand, but seem to have no qualms about using someone else's.  Definitely head over to Boston Sports Then and Now and check out the whole article.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rudolph, the Red Sox Reindeer

If you have about ninety seconds to watch this e-card the Red Sox are sending out, please do. Best laugh I've had all day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Time for Tek to bow out - gracefully

Bring on the haters, but I am seriously so tired of people saying that the Red Sox are treating Jason Varitek unfairly:

"it’s just not right for the Red Sox to treat him this way. He wants to finish his career in Boston. He will always be part of the Red Sox because he was the true first captain. You will be greatly missed Varitek, we love you." [Tumblr post]

First of all, the Red Sox do not owe Jason Varitek anything but respect. They do not owe him another year on the team, especially if there is a viable, cheaper, and possibly much more productive alternative.  He CAN finish his career in Boston if he really wants - the man will be FORTY YEARS OLD in April, and younger players than he have gracefully hung up their spikes after fulfilling careers.

Where were Tek's FANTABULOUS leadership skills last season when apparently the bulk of the team decided to ignore the manager and their work-out plan? I know he was in the bullpen or on the field for most games, but surely he knew about the clubhouse hijinks? Why didn't El Capitan SAY SOMETHING - and if he did, and was ignored, then his leadership certainly isn't reason enough to keep a man who hasn't broken .232 or fifteen homeruns in four years on the team.

I'm also extremely confused about the "true first captain" comment: I'm pretty sure these men would have something to say about that.

Let me be clear: I love Jason Varitek.  I practically have a shrine to him in my room:

I also attended his Celebrity Putt-Putt charity event this summer:
I had a fantastic time, and I truly believe that Tek is a genuinely awesome human being. But it's time to face the facts, Red Sox Nation.  His glory days are far behind him, and his greatest value comes from "game-calling skills" - something many teams leave to the manager on the bench, relayed to the pitcher with signs.  I will always look back on Tek's time with the team fondly - I came of age with him behind the plate, and he'll always hold a special place in my heart.

But baseball has no room for sentimentality, and it is Tek's time to bow out gracefully. I really hope that for his sake, and the sake of the organization, that he takes the practical path to retirement - maybe someday he'll return to us as a coach (though he has said he's uninterested in such a job).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Deja Vu: A return to roots for a former Sox catcher

Remember that time we traded a homegrown catcher to the Indians for Coco Crisp?  And then he went to Tampa Bay for a player to be named later (who ended up being Mitch Talbot)?  Can anyone name that player?

If you said "Kelly Shoppach," you get a cookie! [But not really - I can't send cookies through the internet.]  When we originally sent Shoppach to Cleveland, he was a pretty promising young catcher, who had the potential and the tools to be a qualified offensive and defensive player, though he has done some back-sliding since.

So what does his return mean for the Red Sox? Well, for one, it most likely means that we have seen the last of Jason Varitek's playing days, at least in Boston.  This should come as no surprise, since Ben Cherington has been hinting that he's reluctant to bring back Tek (or Wake, for that matter) for a while now.  In addition, it means that the Red Sox have a viable backup catcher who has spent significant time in the big leagues.  Ryan Lavarnway held his own last fall (17 games, .231 BA, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs), but he could certainly use some more seasoning in the minors.

Over at's Extra Bases Blog, Pete Abraham mentions the possibility of using Lavarnway as trade bait now that the Sox have a viable alternative, but cautions that possibility is unlikely.  The most prudent course of action would be to keep Lavarnway around and continue his development, in case the Shoppach experience leaves something to be desired.  It also bears mentioning that Shoppach is no longer a young prospect, as he'll turn 32 at the beginning of next season, so keeping Lavarnway is insurance for aging, as well.

This isn't a huge move for the Sox, and it isn't a great deal of time or commitment, either, as the deal is a single year at $1.35 million.  It should be interesting to have a new face behind the plate.

Last but not least, three useless trivia facts about Kelly Shoppach:
  • He drove in the first run at the new Yankee Stadium (April 16, 2009)
  • On July 30, 2008, Shoppach had five extra-base hits in one game, against the Tigers (three doubles and two homers)
  • For all you Tek fans, Shoppach has caught a no-hitter himself - calling Matt Garza's no-no on July 26, 2010

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hot Stove Check-in

A lot has happened so far this offseason - and because I'm such a terribly inconsistant blogger, I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about EVERYTHING I've neglected thus far.

Let's start with the Red Sox. So far, we've replaced the manager and general manager, lost our closer (thankfully to the National League), and a starter (to Tommy John). We have a right fielder who is presumably retiring, and a few other players who might do well to consider that option.  So what's the good news? Hopefully Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine can take the asylum back from the lunatics, and build us a winning team.  David Ortiz has accepted arbitration, and we can expect a typically good season from him, barring injury or unforeseen circumstances.

The biggest news of the offseason is the unexpected aggressiveness from both the Marlins and the Angels.  The Marlins will be moving into a new stadium soon, and it looks like they want to put the real deal out on the field, as well.  After signing Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle, the Marlins went hard after Albert Pujols, but were beat out by the Angels.

So Pujols will stay in red, but on the west coast and (sadly for the Red Sox) in the American League.  As fun as it will be to see Pujols play more often, I don't relish watching him face off against our pitchers at Fenway.  The Angels also committed big money to former Rangers ace CJ Wilson.

I don't really expect the Sox to make any big splashes in this year's market: for one, most of the big names are already spoken for.  In addition, holes in right field and the bullpen can ostensibly be filled from inside the organization, without losing too much in translation.  The big questions won't get answered until players start reporting: will Daniel Bard start, as he's requested? If so, who will close?  Will we be seeing Josh Reddick, or maybe Ryan Kalish, in right field?

Hopefully I'll be blogging more in the next few weeks - school is winding down, and I still have my 2012 Bill James Handbook to look through... All this studying for finals is making me wait to pay attention to what really matters: baseball.