Friday, December 21, 2012

Red is the new black?

I opened my email this morning to see the above graphic. I don't know who in the Red Sox front office thinks that most Sox fans are also fashionistas, but I giggled.  They're desperately trying to sell tickets, waiving fees on all Sox Pax today in an effort to extend that sham of a sellout streak.

The Sox have been relatively busy so far this offseason, signing, among others, Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Jonny Gomes, and (presumably) Mike Napoli.  It remains to be seen whether this flurry of signings will influence fans or increase on-field performance.

The Red Sox were notable absent from the Josh Hamilton race, which was an excellent choice, in my opinion. Hamilton would likely have struggled under the baseball microscope in Boston, and the Red Sox are trying to stay away from long expensive contracts.

Will any of this affect the ticket-purchasing of fans? Will you be staying away because of a lack of Josh Hamilton? Will you wait and see how the team looks out of the gate? Or will you buy tickets as usual, and hope for the best?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Boo Youk?

Kevin Youkilis and the New York Yankees have agreed on a one-year, $12 million deal.  Youk passed up two years/$18 million to head to Cleveland (and back to former Red Sox manager Terry Francona) to sign with the Bronx Bombers for one year - but a better chance at postseason play.

Kevin Youkilis hasn't played for Boston since June, but before he was traded to the White Sox he had played 953 games for the Red Sox over nine seasons, starting in the legendary 2004 season.  Youk gained fame with the publication of the book Moneyball which reported he was coveted by the obsessive A's GM Billy Beane, who had dubbed the then-minor leaguer "The Greek God of Walks."

Youkilis is Jewish, not Greek, but his on-base percentage was as advertised, and his power numbers consistently improved over his first few seasons in Boston until he was less of an on-base machine and more of a homerun-threat who could work the count.

In 2008, Dustin Pedroia won the American League MVP Award, but there were many who felt that Youk had outshone Pedey on the field - Youkilis finished third in voting for the award.

When Youk was dealt to Chicago this summer, I was pretty bummed. I wore my Kevin Youkilis shirt the day after the trade, because Youk has been among my favorite players for a long time, and I swore to always root for him.

And now, after that brief stint with the White Sox, Youkilis will head back east to the Evil Empire.  I've often said that Kevin Youkilis is the kind of player that you love having on your team, but find unbearable when he plays for your opponent. The way he takes every pitch personally is endearing when he's on your side, but exasperating otherwise - even teammate and enigma Manny Ramirez thought Youk often went too far, leading to a dugout altercation in 2008.  Personally, I'll be rooting for him to do well in New York - even as I hope the Yankees lose as often as possible.

Will Red Sox fans boo Kevin Youkilis when he returns to Fenway Park in pinstripes on Friday, July 19th? Even if they do decide to boo, will he even be able to tell the difference between such noises of derision and the admiring "YOUUUUKKKKK" he always heard when heading to the plate?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

2013 Bill James Projections - Shane Victorino

2011: 132 games, .279 BA, .355 OBP, .491 SLG, 17 HR, 61 RBI
2012 projection: 149 games, .277 BA, .344 OBP, .441 SLG, 17 HR, 64 RBI
2012: 154 games, .255 BA, .321 OBP, .383 SLG, 11 HR, 55 RBI
2013 projection: 155 games. .269 BA, .338 OBP, .418 SLG, 14 HR, 59 RBI

I'm not sure I'm quite as excited as David Ortiz is about the Shane Victorino signing.  Papi absolutely gushed about Victorino on the Extra Bases blog:
“That’s my boy,” he said. “I’m very happy that he’s going to come in and join us. He’s going to be a guy people are going to love in Boston. People are going to love him. He goes at it hard. He’s got a lot of adrenalin going on. I love that. It gets me going.”
When David Ortiz is that excited about a player, I'm on board. Personally, I'm shamefully tuned out of National League affairs (with a few exceptions), and because Victorino has played exclusively for the Phillies and the Dodgers in his career, I haven't really been that cognizant of his output.

That said, the fact that he can comfortably play all three outfield positions is huge. In his career, Victorino has played 1002 games over nine seasons, 762 games in center field, 148 games in right field (where he will play the bulk of his games for Boston), and 111 games in left field. The importance of this flexibility cannot be overstated, especially since our current center fielder is in his last year under contract, and is a Scott Boras client.

On the offensive side, Victorino is a solid switch-hitting batter. Fenway Park is about 20 feet shallower down the left and right field lines than Dodger Stadium, the home for which Bill James and his team made their power projections, so it's possible that we see better power numbers than the Handbook projected.

Overall, I think it's super important that Victorino seems genuinely excited to be coming to Boston - if you don't believe me, just check out his Twitter page:

Yeah, I think he'll fit right in.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2013 Bill James Projections - Mike Napoli

2011: 113 games, .320 BA, .414 OBP, .631 SLG, 30 HR, 75 RBI
2012 projection: 131 games, .271 BA, .364 OBP, .537 SLG, 31 HR, 83 RBI
2012: 108 games, .227 BA, .343 OBP, .469 SLG, 24 HR, 56 RBI
2013 projection: 127 games, .248 BA, .350 OBP, .498 SLG, 29 HR, 75 RBI

As I'm sure you are all aware, yesterday the Red Sox inked Mike Napoli to a three year, $39 million contract. He'll mostly be playing first base, but he can certainly take his turn behind the plate, as well.

I really like this contract. Napoli has a good bat, and while he's entering his age-31 season, spending more time at first base than catcher should only help his numbers (he played more than half of his games at catcher the last two years).

This also gives the Red Sox even more depth at catcher, allowing them to use one of their many backstops (remember when we couldn't get ONE backup catcher?) for one of their various other needs - pitcher, outfield, whatever.

By all accounts, Mike Napoli is also a great clubhouse presence, and while that certainly wouldn't fill the void of an unproductive player, when added to a package like Napoli it's a nice bonus.

Monday, December 3, 2012

2013 Bill James Projections - Clay Buchholz

2011 projection: 13-9, 29 starts, 193 IP, 3.54 ERA, 74 BB, 168 SO
2011: 6-3, 14 starts, 82.2 IP, 3.48 ERA, 31 BB, 60 SO
2012 projection: 13-8, 30 starts, 191 IP, 3.53 ERA, 73 BB, 162 SO
2012: 11-8, 29 starts, 189.1 IP, 4.56 ERA, 64 BB, 129 SO
2013 projection: 12-11, 30 starts, 205 IP, 3.56 ERA,  72 BB, 163 SO

Possibly the most striking thing about Clay Buchholz's 2012 performance is that he managed to hold on to a positive winning percentage and win eleven games while his ERA leaped up more than a full run from 2011.  Buchholz made a huge jump in innings between the injury-riddled 2011 campaign and last season, tossing a career high 189.1 innings in 2012.

Bill James projects that Buch will continue to make strides in the 2013 season, with a new career high in innings (205), and a bounceback in his ERA to a much more acceptable 3.56.  It's easy to think of Buchholz as the skinny kid that came up for a cup of coffee in 2007 and won three games in three starts that fall - partly because he still looks just the same.

But 2007 was five years ago, and Clay Buchholz will be 28 next season (29 in August), a player entering his baseball prime. He's not a kid anymore, and if we're ever going to look to him to step up and be a leader on the staff, this has to be the time. I think John Farrell's presence will be good for the pitching staff: though he's the manager and not the pitching coach, he has a lot of respect from the Red Sox staff. I don't think there will be too many pitchers skipping out on their workouts or sneaking from the dugout during games to drink beer on Farrell's watch.

Hopefully Clay can eek out a few more wins than James has him projected for, but even if he can't, a pitcher with 205 innings is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2013 Bill James Projections - Jon Lester (with Wil Meyers)

2011 projection: 14-9, 31 starts, 204 IP, 3.53 ERA, 82 BB, 193 SO
2011: 15-9, 31 starts, 191.2 IP, 3.47 ERA, 75 BB, 182 SO
2012 projection: 15-9, 31 starts, 192 IP, 3.61 ERA, 74 BB, 180 SO
2012: 9-14, 33 starts, 205.1 IP, 4.82 ERA, 68 BB, 166 SO
2013 projection: 12-12, 33 starts, 211 IP, 3.71 ERA, 75 BB, 192 SO

It's obvious that 2012 was by far Jon Lester's most disappointing season.  Like most of 2012, Lester's poor performance started at the end of 2011, and though he was one of the only players in the "Beer and Chicken Scandal" to take personal responsibility, that display of moral fiber didn't improve his numbers.

Looking at Bill James' 2012 projections next to Lester's actual performance, and you might see a pitcher who has somewhat lost his way: his ERA was more than a FULL RUN higher than James' projection (and Lester's 2011 performance), and for the first time in his career, Jon Lester lost more games than he won.

There's a lot of talk swirling around about a possible trade that would swap Lester for Kansas City Royals outfield prospect Wil Meyers. Meyers has never played a game in the majors, but the consensus around the league is that he'll be ready in 2013 - and for the first time in his career, he's listed in the Bill James Handbook.

2012 (AA-AAA): 134 games, .314 BA, 387. OBP, .600 SLG, 37 HR, 109 RBI
2013 projection: 147 games, .270 BA, .339 OBP, .486 SLG, 28 HR, 89 RBI

Meyers is undoubtedly a solid offensive player. A cost-controlled power hitting outfielder is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but is it good baseball-sense to accept a relative unknown for an established lefthanded starter like Lester? In my humble opinion, no. Despite the backslide of 2012, Lester is a bona fide workhorse. He's averaged 211 innings pitched every season, has avoided major injury, and has had prolonged periods of brilliance.

This trade is certainly not set in stone - or even particularly likely at this point. It wouldn't be the end of the world to swap Lester for Meyers, but it would be the very definition of selling low. Lester is worth much more than he showed in 2012, and while Meyers is very promising, he's not a franchise defining player.

Monday, November 19, 2012

2013 Bill James Projections - Jacoby Ellsbury

2011 projection: 157 games, .300 BA, .355 OBP, .409 SLG, 8 HR, 58 RBI

2011: 158 games, .321 BA, .376 OBP, .552 SLG, 32 HR, 105 RBI
2012 projection: 158 games, .304 BA, .362 OBP, .476 SLG, 19 HR, 72 RBI
2012: 74 games, .271 BA, .313 OBP, .370 SLG, 4 HR, 26 RBI
2013 projection: 152 games, .294 BA, .346 OBP, .436 SLG, 15 HR, 67 RBI

Looking at Jacoby Ellsbury's "games played" column on is like riding a roller coaster.  For the first few full years of his major league career, he played most of the season - and then came the 2010 Parade of Carnage, when broken ribs limited Ellsbury to just 18 games.  This was followed by a career season in 2011: Goldenboy played 158 games, was selected to the All Star Game, came in second in MVP voting, and claimed a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. But then 2012 rolled around, with a meager 74 games played.

This past season was, yet again, marred by injury.  Especially when compared to 2011, 2012 was a HUGE disappointment for Ellsbury.  I sometimes fall into the trap of still thinking about Jacoby Ellsbury as the fresh-faced rookie that stole a base and won America a free taco in the 2007 World Series. But Goldenboy will be thirty years old next season, his seventh in the majors, and we still don't know what to expect from him in any given year.

Jacoby Ellsbury will be a free agent next offseason, and his agent is the infamous Scott Boras.  I think we will probably see a banner year from Ells, since everyone involved knows that the Red Sox will not be interested in paying the Scott Boras Premium when the time comes, and they'll want to showcase his talents to the entire league.  

That being said, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 2011 was a one-time thing.  I don't think Ellsbury is a "face of the team, build a franchise around him" type player - partly because of the constant threat of injury. I think Bill James and his crew are right on: we'll see a resurgence from Ells, but not quite a return to the godliness of 2011.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2013 Bill James Projections - David Ortiz

In honor of Big Papi's 37th birthday, I thought I would start off the 2013 Bill James projections series with Red Sox Nation's favorite designated hitter.

2011 projection: 151 games, .261 BA, .366 OBP, .509 SLG, 33 HR, 112 RBI
2011: 146 games, .309 BA, .398 OBP, .554 SLG, 29 HR, 96 RBI
2012 projection: 150 games, .277 BA, .378 OBP, .517 SLG, 30 HR, 104 RBI
2012: 90 games, .318 BA, .415 OBP, .611 SLG, 23 HR, 60 RBI
2013 projection: 147 games, .283 BA, .386 OBP, .533 SLG, 32 HR, 103 RBI

Obviously David Ortiz's season was marred by his achilles injury, and he was only able to take the field for ninety games - sixty fewer times than James projected. One of the things that James and his team are careful to note is that they cannot predict injuries, and I think it's safe to assume that if Ortiz had played out the string, fatigue might have brought his spectacular average, OBP, and SLG numbers down closer to their projection.

As you all know, Big Papi recently signed a two-year, $26 million contract to keep him in Boston through 2014.  If he can live up to the power numbers projected in the 2013 Bill James Handbook, the Red Sox will have gotten their money's worth.  Fans, of course, will just be happy to see the ever-jovial lefty back in a Red Sox uniform, hopefully healthy, for the 2013 campaign.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2013 projections - coming soon!

This is typically the time of year that I do a series of posts on Bill James' projections for the following season's Red Sox players.  Normally I would do one post each for infielders, outfielders, starters, and relievers, but this year I'm going to go about things a little differently.

As you can see, I received my copy of the Bill James Handbook [2013] in the mail about a week and a half ago, but I've been putting off writing about the contents. Why? A little because I've been a bad, lazy blogger since the World Series wrapped up, but mostly because so much of the 2013 Red Sox roster is still a mystery.

On that note, I've decided to do the projections post player by player, so that I can start them sooner rather than later. There will also be more opportunity for commentary and discussion if each post focuses on a single player.  That said, look for (hopefully) daily posts starting this weekend, and thanks for reading!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Race for Big Papi

Just when it was looking like the re-sign David Ortiz campaign would be almost as long and painful as this year's political campaigns (no matter your ideological leanings, if you live in Massachusetts you NEVER want to see another ad for Scott Brown or Elizabeth Warren again), the Texas Rangers have expressed interest in the lefthanded DH, and the Red Sox are scrambling to get a deal done.

The Red Sox have until midnight today to negotiate exclusively with Ortiz, but only until 5pm to extend him a qualifying $13.3 million dollar offer that would ensure them a draft pick if he were to sign elsewhere. I think we can be confident that the minimum offer will be extended, and also reasonably confident that Big Papi will remain with the Red Sox.

I'm sure Ortiz and his agents are thrilled at the Rangers showing interest - not because he has a burning desire to move to Texas, but because it will give him some leverage to get a multi-year deal done with the Red Sox.

After a decade with the Sox, it's unlikely that the soon-to-be 37-year-old slugger wants to uproot his family and leave such a devoted fanbase, not to mention the fact that he's unlikely to see the kind of money or length that he's looking for from any team, given his age and recent history with injury.

I will be absolutely blown away if the Red Sox and Ortiz don't come to terms, and given the newfound Texan threat, I think it will happen soon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Peavy's Sox staying White

I've seen some Red Sox fans howling on Twitter today about Jake Peavy's two-year, $29 million dollar deal with the White Sox.  It seems that some of you were hoping he'd be wearing Sox of a different hue come spring training - but Peavy is a much better fit for Chicago than Boston, and it's actually a blessing that he's staying put.

Peavy's psychological background does not peg him as a man who would or could embrace the unique pressures and stresses that come with playing in Boston, and for obvious reasons, the Red Sox brass is (thus far) steering clear of any big name free agents.  Hopefully they keep this strategy with the other big name free agent out there, Josh Hamilton, another guy who has a questionable makeup as far as Boston is concerned.

Far better for the Red Sox to focus on retaining players who have proven that they can perform in Boston, such as David Ortiz (who reprotedly has a deal in the works) or the pleasantly surprising Cody Ross (no word on a deal with him).

I think we can all be pretty confident that the Red Sox won't be handing out many blockbuster contracts in the near future; the Dodgers won't always be foolish enough to take every failed contract off our hands.  What do you all think will happen this offseason? Who do you think might end up in Fort Meyers come February?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

World Series bandwagon - Go Giants!

I'm living vicariously through former Red Sox and current NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro - and you all know how I feel about short and gritty second basemen.

It's here. Game 1 of the 2012 World Series starts right about now, and I couldn't be more thrilled that one of the teams I picked at the start of the playoffs is still in it.  Sadly, the Orioles didn't make it through, so I will stick with my other original pick, the San Francisco Giants.

Of course, should the Tigers win, I won't be too upset.  Detroit hasn't seen a World Series title in more than thirty years, and we all know that the city could use something to celebrate.

That's really the beauty of being a bandwagon fan - after the horrible slow torture of being a diehard Red Sox fan this season, it's nice to be a casual fan of the Giants and Orioles. I was upset when the Orioles were eliminated, sure - but it wasn't the end of the world.

The same with the World Series. Of course I want to see the Giants take the whole thing - and see Marco Scutaro take the World Series MVP in addition to the NLCS MVP. But if they don't in, I won't be curling up in a ball to sob like I would if it were the Red Sox.

My biggest hope for the Series? That it goes seven games. I'm not ready for baseball to end!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bandwagoning: go hard or go home

When I decided to jump on the Orioles and Giants bangwagons through the postseason, I was hoping to see an all orange Giants-Orioles World Series. Thanks to CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees, that's no longer possible - but I would settle for a Tigers-Giants Fall Classic.

The Giants play Game 3 of the NLCS against the Cardinals this afternoon at 4, with that series tied at one game apiece. Because I never do anything halfway, when the Giants clinched their spot in the NLCS, I went online to order a San Francisco Giants shirt from the MLB team store.

I wanted to purchase a Marco Scutaro t-shirt, since he's a former Red Sox and is playing second base for the Giants (and you all know how I feel about short second basemen).  To get a Scutaro shirt, I would have had to fork over $36 for the "design your own" option, as they only continuously stock "big name" players like Posey and Lincecum for $26.  Instead, I went for a plain Giants logo shirt - and despite an estimated shipping date of next week, it arrived yesterday, so today I'm on the bandwagon in style.

I'm also hoping the Tigers can close out the Yankees tonight - because they've got Derek Lowe over there now yelling about how the comeback is possible, and "don't let us win tonight!" If anyone understands that a 3-0 lead isn't safe, it's the Yankees, so I would really prefer things to end tonight before they get any heroic ideas.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jeter's injury: fatal weakness or galvanizing moment?

Let's be clear. The injury to Derek Jeter early this morning in the Bronx was awful.  His left ankle is fractured, and the timetable for recovery is at least three months.  I don't like the Yankees, and I think that Derek Jeter is vastly overrated, but I never, EVER want to see a player get injured - and especially not like that.

But the loss of Derek Jeter might actually help the Yankees on the field. Not only will they be replacing his subpar fielding (if you ever needed convincing that the Gold Glove Award is a ridiculous popularity contest, his FIVE Gold Gloves should do it), but there will be a "win one for the Captain" spirit wending its way through the Yankee clubhouse.

The Tigers took Game 1 in twelve innings, and the Yankees have Hiroki Kuroda going on short rest for the first time in his Major League career.  Jeter's injury is either a chink in the Yankees postseason armor (although, let's be honest, of the Core Four, Mariano Rivera is the single most important piece, and he's gone), or a galvanizing moment for the Evil Empire.

Here's hoping the Tigers capitalize on their momentum and take Game 2 this afternoon.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I live for this.

I actually do live for this.  When was the last time that all four LDS series went to Game 5? NEVER. This has never happend in the Wild Card era. We are literally witnessing history, and the only thing that would make it better would be if the Red Sox were in it.

Remember that annoying Dane Cook Postseason ad that MLB put out a few years ago?

Well, you do now. As irritating and out of vogue as Cook is, this commercial perfectly sums up the postseason thus far - though sans Red Sox, of course.  I haven't even been able to watch all of the games because of my work schedule (though I will admit to listening to the audio on the clock - no shame).

So far, I'm pretty happy with the outcomes: as I've already announced, I jumped on the Giants and Orioles bandwagons before the start of the postseason, and with San Francisco taking the series yesterday, I'm off to a pretty good start. I won't lie, I'm a little worried about Game 5 of the Yankees/O's ALDS, with Sabathia taking on Hammel, and a little pissed that the game is on at 5pm and I'm not scheduled to be done with work until 7.

But it doesn't even matter. I love this, I live and breathe this, and even if the Red Sox are at home instead of playing, this is the most fun I've had watching baseball in months.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

You be the Red Sox GM!

If you're not into watching the playoffs sans Red Sox, but you can't bear for baseball to be over, you can head over to and check out a new interactive feature.  It's called "You be the Red Sox GM," and it's pretty cool. You get to go through the Red Sox roster and decide who to keep and who to release, keeping in mind positions, salary, and intangibles.

I got an A - how about you?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Wild Card Day!

Photo from the homepage

Today will be an exciting day for baseball.  Even if both Wild Card games are blowouts, it's a history-making endeavor: the first day of the newly extended playoffs.  The Braves take on the defending World Champion Cardinals at 5:00, and then the upstart Orioles look to knock out the defending AL Champion Texas Rangers at 8:30.

I know most people hate the new format, what with adding two more teams to the pennant race and making the Wild Card teams play a winner take all one game playoff - which understandably seems like a ridiculous gamble after slogging through 162 games to reach this point.

But I actually really like the new format.  First of all, Major League Baseball still has fewer teams make the playoffs than any other major sports league, so if you complain about the new Wild Card setup and have no qualms with the systems of the NBA, NFL, or NHL, you need to take a good long look at yourself.

More importantly, the disagreement over the "unfairness" of the one game playoff is absurd; if anything, this sets to right the issue with adding the Wild Card back in the nineties.  Since the inception of the Wild Card, the only penalty given for not winning your division was a lack of home field advantage.  Essentially the Wild Card winner was treated exactly the same as some of the division winners, and that is downright ridiculous.

Now, winning the division means something. It means not having to get through a one game playoff, which, as most baseball fans know, is essentially a tossup.  It means more meaningful baseball in the last games of the season. I don't know why you wouldn't be on board with that.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm jumping on the bandwagon

Perhaps it was fitting to end the season with a final slap in the face.  The Red Sox not only were embarrassed by the Yankees, they had to watch them celebrate clinching the AL East title - something that means a LOT more than it used to with the new playoff format.

And peaking of the playoffs, are you all planning to watch?  I am, even though this will be the third year in a row that the Red Sox are playing golf instead of baseball.  I don't know about anybody else, but if I'm watching any sporting event, even if I don't come into it with any particular interest in the outcome, I need to pick a team to root for.  Earlier this week, I had this exchange with a friend on Twitter:

Normally, the Phillies are my National League team (they're the closest NL team to me that isn't from New York), and for the past two years I've been rooting for the Rangers.  This year, I'm looking for a change.  The Rangers and the Orioles will face off for the privilege of getting to the ALDS against the Yankees, and I want to see the Orioles go all the way. I've posted about this before, but their fans deal with a lot, and I think they deserve this.

But why the Giants? They won it just two seasons ago, while a team like the Nationals has never come close.  Call it a whim, but I'm really feeling the Giants this year.  And the Orioles/Giants choice has the added benefit of being in one color scheme.  My apologies to the diehard fans of these two franchises - I promise I'm not trying to steal your thunder, it's just that my team is out, and I've temporarily adopted yours. Let me know if I'm stepping on any toes.

Of course, it's been killing me for months that the Red Sox won't be in this, but there won't be Red Sox baseball until Spring Training. I'm a Red Sox fan, sure, but I'm also a BASEBALL fan, and I'm going to watch every game I can before the long winter takes it all away.

And then? Hope springs eternal - even for the Red Sox.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mercifully, this is it.

Remember the drama of last year's Game 162? The Red Sox were in Baltimore, and the Yankees were at the Trop.  It took either a Red Sox win OR a Rays loss to send Boston to the playoffs.  Not only did the Red Sox suffer a dramatic, devastating, walk-off loss to the Orioles, just minutes later, the Rays came back from a sizable deficit to beat the Yankees with a homer from Evan Longoria.

I can remember exactly how I felt when I watched Longoria's home run leave the stadium.  It was as if all the hope had been pushed out of me with one swing of the bat.  I kicked the other people watching the game with me out of my room, curled up on my bed, and thought about the awful September collapse that had brought the Red Sox to this point.  I remember thinking that they had hit rock bottom, that things could only look better from that point forward.

It goes without saying that I was horribly, tragically, comically WRONG.  The Red Sox have been out of things for months now, and I have to say that watching my team play essentially irrelevant games while everyone around me counts down to the beginning of football season is a whole new kind of excruciating.

I like the Patriots, don't get me wrong. But I LOVE the Red Sox. At least last year the Sox were in a pennant race up until the very last moments of the regular season.  The Red Sox haven't finished in sole possession of last place since I was two years old, and I don't like it.

It would be nice to end this awful season with a win in New York, but Daisuke Matsuzaka is pitching, so I'm not really holding out much hope.  Maybe it's more fitting that way.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Five Minute Musings

  1. I haven't had the chance to see Knuckleball! yet, but now I can't wait for this "sequel."  The spoof from's Fan Cave features RA Dickey, Phil Niekro, and old friend Tim Wakefield as a crime-fighting trio.  The video (above) is just about ninety seconds, and it will probably be the best minute and a half of your day.
  2. I don't know if you caught this story from, but it features Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, and Kevin Millar jumping into the jacuzzi with Pedro Martinez before a game in 2004.  There's also an aside from Pedro about strategic signing of the inside of the Monster "so Manny doesn't pee on it."
  3. As you know, my roommate and I went to the final home game of the season and unveiling of the All Fenway Team last week.  The whole thing was incredible, and since we temporarily commandeered dugout-side seats (until an usher kicked us out) I was able to take some great photos.  If you want to check them out, there are some posted on the Tumblr attached to this blog, or you can Like this blog on Facebook and see the full album.
  4. Ben Cherington as good as said that Bobby V. won't be returning next season. No one is surprised, but what's next? Varitek is headed to the front office (and as I said in my last post, I don't think it would work - at least right now), and the All Fenway Team Manager is said to be interested in managing in Cleveland.  Who do you want to see in the role next season?
  5. With the playoffs drawing closer, and the Red Sox so far out (and for so long) I've been thinking about whiuch team(s) I want to support through the postseason.  Yes, I'm a Red Sox fan, but I'm also a BASEBALL fan, and I need to have a few rooting interests. I've gone with the Rangers the last couple Red Sox-less postseasons (mostly because I love Ian Kinsler), but I have some other ideas this time around.  Are you going to hop on a postseason bandwagon? Boycott the playoffs entirely? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Return of the Captain

The Captain is returning to the Red Sox.  Not, as some fans hoped, as the new manager - or even as a coach (which is unsurprising if you pay attention, since Tek said multiple times over the course of his career that he wasn't interested in being on the coaching staff).  No, Jason Varitek will be a front office man, as a special assistant to the general manager.

Apparently this position will not require that Varitek be stationed in Boston, as it will include multiple responsibilities like "major league personnel decisions, evaluations, and mentorship and instruction of young players."

I've seen some irate Facebook statuses from fans who think Varitek would be better utilized as a bench coach, and I disagree entirely.  For one thing, if that's not something Tek wants, he would be absolutely MISERABLE doing it in such a high profile situation.  But more importantly, I'm not sold on his ability to retain his authority as a coach among so many players who were so recently his teammates.

I've asked this before, but where was Varitek's famous leadership when the ship was sinking last September?  The inmates were apparently running the asylum, and Varitek either could not or would not do anything to keep them respecting the manager?  I understand that it's difficult to rag on your teammates, but that's why Tek was awarded that "C" - because the fans and the office knew it was a difficult task, and they believed he was up to it.

We'll probably never know the full story of the collapse of 2011, and maybe that's for the best, but the fact of the matter is that Varitek couldn't right the ship any more than Tito, and I'm not sure he'd fair any better as a coach (at least with so many players who are essentially his peers - maybe we can revisit the idea in a decade or so).  I think this front office job will be great for Varitek and the Red Sox.  It sounds like it's flexible enough that they can essentially send him where he's needed, and since he's accepted the position it's obviously something he's embraced.

It will be nice to know that Jason Varitek is once again employed by the Boston Red Sox.  We all know that's where he belongs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fenway Park 2012 - the final game

Last year, I attended the last Red Sox home game at Fenway Park.  It was September 21, and in the midst of the greatest September meltdown in history, they lost to the Orioles.  As I was leaving the park, I didn't think anything of it (although it stands as one of just three losses that I've witnessed live at Fenway Park).  I figured the Sox would take a few of the remaining six games, and that the Rays would lose enough of theirs for us to make the playoffs.

Boy was I wrong.  I won't rehash my feelings about Game 162 again (i'm sure most of you have similar memories), but I would like to compare how I felt going in to last year's last home game and how I feel going into this year's last home game.

I was offered the tickets just last week, and since I knew I wasn't working on Yom Kippur, I accepted them knowing that the Red Sox had already been mathematically eliminated from postseason play.  I hope the Red Sox win tonight - because I always hope the Red Sox win.  Even if it makes no difference in the fact that this has been a failed season.  Even though the win-loss record will be abominable with or without one more in the win column.

I also would really like to see the Rays miss out on the Postseason, since it was their late-season drama that helped to oust the Red Sox last season.  I know you can make the argument that the Orioles beat us  in Game 162 and gloated too much, so I should want THEM out instead, but I don't see it that way.

Orioles fans have put up with a lot since their last postseason berth in 1997, and I would like to see them go all the way.  The Rays, on the other hand, have had a lot of luck recently, and if I have to sit out the postseason (again) I'd like them to, as well.

A Red Sox win tonight would pull the Rays further out of contention and be a final bright spot in the 100th year of Fenway Park operations.  Tonight, more than most nights, I want the Red Sox to win.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pesky gets sent off in style

When the news hit that just four current Red Sox players made it to Johnny Pesky's funeral last month, (some) fans and media went crazy. They saw the lack of attendance as a slap in the face to Pesky and to the organization he loved, and (most importantly) as a continuation of the season long pattern of a lack of caring, commitment, and effort from some players.

However you felt about that whole fiasco, seeing the player attendance at last night's Celebration of Life at Fenway was heartening.

The entire current roster stayed after their 2-1 victory yesterday afternoon for the festivities, and there were quite a few retired players, as well.  They ranged from the expected (Jim Rice, Tim Wakefield, Luis Tiante, Jason Varitek), to the unexpected but very welcome (Pedro Martinez, Bill Lee, Carlton Fiske, Rich Gedman), to the "oh my gosh what is he doing here?" (Roger Clemens).

I took a video on my phone of some of the tributes, but ran out of memory before El Tiante was even done speaking, so I'll just link you to a much better video from the Extra Bases blog.

After the spoken remembrances were over, the players left the stands and walked over to shortstop where they each placed a rose on the larger-than-life "6" that had been sculpted into the infield dirt:

(Personal photo)

The players then proceeded over to Pesky's Pole, where they each signed their name, and some left a small message:

(Personal photos)

Once all the players had been safely shepherded off the field, fans were allowed to walk around the warning track starting near third base, and exiting right after Pesky's Pole.  All along the Green Monster were tables with photos and artifacts from Johnny's life, including his minor league trunk, his navy duffel and medal, his ice skates, and various baseball memorabilia.  The last stop for fans before the pole was a table set with four books, allowing fans to scrawl a final farewell to Johnny Pesky.

The entire event was very well done, moving and entertaining in turns, but there is one thing I want to say.  For all the complaining from fans about lack of player attendance at the original funeral, and for this being a FREE event, I was not impressed by fan attendance.  Of course, I myself am a recent transplant to Boston, and if I were still living in New Hampshire, it would not be feasible to come down for this event.  But there are thousands and thousands of Red Sox fans living in Boston, and just a fraction of them showed up last night. Pot, meet kettle.

The fans who were in attendance were very enthusiastic, cheering, laughing, and crying when appropriate - but this lady was my personal favorite:

Great jacket, or the greatest jacket?

Overall, the whole evening was incredible, and I'm glad the Red Sox were able to give Johnny Pesky such a sendoff - if anyone deserved it, it was Mr. Red Sox himself.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Today at Fenway: Celebration of the life of Johnny Pesky

As I'm sure you all know by now, Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky passed away a little over a month ago at the ripe old age of 92.  The Red Sox have planned a formal Celebration of Life for Pesky scheduled for this very evening at Fenway Park, and the event is free and open to the public.

After today's afternoon Orioles game, the park will be reopened at 6pm.  The formal ceremony is from 6-7, but the park will remain open until 9pm, and fans will have the option to walk around the warning track and view exhibits about Pesky's illustrious Red Sox career.

From the Red Sox release about the event:
While the formal portion of the ceremony is set to take place between 6-7 p.m., fans are welcome to stay until the park closes at 9 p.m. Both current and former Red Sox players will be in attendance.

In addition to hearing stories about Pesky’s 70-year career, fans will have the opportunity to walk on the warning track and see displays that illustrate his life as a player, coach, manager, broadcaster, ambassador, patriot, husband, father, and friend. Fans will also have the opportunity to write personal messages that will be given to his family and become part of the Nation’s Archives at Fenway Park.
Will I see any of you there?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A losing season and a rude awakening

It's official. Last night the Red Sox lost their 82nd game (and in spectacular fashion, by a score of 13-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays) to clinch their first losing season since 1997.  That's right, the last time the Red Sox were this bad, I was missing my two front teeth.

I grew up in a generation of lucky fans.  I missed the heartbreak of 1986 by four years, and I was too young during the 1994 strike to really understand what was going on.  Sure, I remember the gut-wrenching end to the 2003 postseason, with Tim Wakefield trudging off the mound dejected, sure he would be the next Bill-Buckner-esque scapegoat, but I remember the euphoria of 2004 and 2007 even more clearly.

The Red Sox of my youth were full of talents like Pedro Martinez and vintage Nomar Garciaparra, pre-traitor Johnny Damon and pre-steroid (at least pre-caught using steroids) Manny Ramirez, original dirt dog Trot Nixon, and pre-Captain Jason Varitek.

I've been spoiled. I got to enjoy this golden era of Boston sports without living through any of the real lean seasons.  Until this year.  I missed watching most of the games this summer while working at a camp, and most days I would check the scores and be more happy than sad that I hadn't seen the carnage live.

And now here we are heading into October.  The Red Sox are about as far from the postseason as I can remember - last year and in 2010 we were still in it at this point.  In 2009, we were swept from the postseason by the Angels.  The Red Sox may not have won a postseason series (or even a postseason game) since 2008, my freshman year in college - but they've been in the hunt every year.

Now that I've graduated, and been dumped into the cold, cruel world, the Red Sox seem to have had the same rude awakening I've had: no one is going to hand you anything.  The AL East is a tough division to survive in, and this year the Red Sox sank.  I'm not sure what kind of moves the front office will be looking at to make next year better than this one, but I have some ideas - starting with taking a long, hard look at Bobby V.

What are your thoughts on the first losing season in fourteen years? Any suggestions for offseason moves? Leave them in the comments.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hello again!

I've been settling into my new apartment (in Boston!) and my new job, and now that I finally have internet and cable, I thought I should get back to the blog.

Sadly, the best thing that's happened to the Red Sox since I moved down here was the offday yesterday - you can't lose if you don't play.  Honestly, the only possibility of a somewhat happy ending to the season would be if the Sox could play spoiler.

I have a friend from Baltimore, and he posted the following picture to my Facebook last week, along with the caption "How 'bout them apples?"

A discussion ensued with mentions of the possibility of a Baltimore Orioles/Washington Nationals World Series - and I admitted that I would LOVE to watch that.

If the Red Sox have to suck (and apparently they do), I'd like to see a couple of teams who haven't seen the postseason lately (or ever) make a real run for it.  The O's are one game behind the Yankees, and the Red Sox are opening a three game set against the Yankees tonight, and I for one am loving the recent swoon of the Bronx Bombers. Here's hoping we can help them to their own catastrophic collapse.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gonzalez, Beckett, Crawford, and Punto to LA

It's official. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto are headed for the Dodgers.  Beckett has waived his 10-5 rights (as a player with ten years in the majors and five with the same team, he has the right to veto any trade), and Crawford has accepted the trade despite having the Dodgers as one of just three teams in his no-trade clause.

The blockbuster trade seems pretty one sided, as the Red Sox are getting just a single major leaguer in the person of James Loney, a first baseman who is a free agent after this season.  The Sox will also be getting four minor league players players: outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands (AAA), infielder Ivan DeJesus (AAA), righthanded pitcher Allen Webster (AA), and righthanded pitcher Rubby De La Rosa (AAA) (who was claimed by the Blue Jays, pulled off of waivers by the Dodgers, and thus will likely be a player to be named later and obtained in the offseason).

The Dodgers are going to be taking on all but about $10 million of the approximately $250 million the Sox owe to their four players, who are, as Pete Abraham so aptly put it, "bad contracts, not bad people."

Carl Crawford came in and was never quite healthy, which was as much as disappointment to him as it was to the fans.  Adrian Gonzalez was a slave to the heightened expectations we had for him because of his transition from the cavernous Petco Park to the friendly confines of Fenway.  Neither man was prepared to embrace the demands of being a star in Boston.

As for Josh Beckett, I for one would like to say thanks for the memories.  Without the man once referred to as "Commander Kickass," there would have been no World Series in 2007, and for all the crap he's said through the years, he's done some great charity work.

From the Twitter feed of Nick Punto, we can see that Beckett, Gonzalez, and Punto seem pretty happy to be on their way to Dodger-town, and it's for the best all around. They didn't like playing in Boston, and the Red Sox will have a ton more financial flexibility going forward.  It's been real, boys - happy trails.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Going, going Gonzo? Waiver Rules explained.

Back to California for Adrian Gonzalez?

With all the talk about Adrian Gonzalez being claimed off of waivers by the Dodgers, and the talk of a possible blockbuster trade (including the albatross contracts of Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett...?), I thought it might be a good time to go over the actual rules and customs regarding waiver trades. 

  • After July 31st, all trades must be done through waivers, and if these players aren't acquired by August 31st, they are not eligible to play in the postseason.
  • Teams can put any players on waivers, and they do not need to tell the players in question.
  • Once a player is on waivers, other teams have 48 hours to put a claim in on that player.
  • If multiple teams put in a claim, the team with the worst record in the league the player is currently on. If no teams from that league make a claim, the player goes to the team with the worst record in the other league.
  • Once a player is claimed, their team has three options:
  1. They can pull the player back. If this happens, he cannot be traded for 30 days.
  2. They can work out a trade with the team that claimed him. Other players in the trade must also pass through waivers UNLESS they are not currently on a 40-man roster.
  3. They can simply give the player to the other team, getting nothing in return, but the new team must pay the player's remaining salary.
  • If no one claims the player, he can be traded to any team in the league.
Often, teams will put all twenty-five guys on the roster on waivers, just to see who tries to claim them,  and what they offer in return.  If it's not enough, players just get pulled back.  So the fact that Gonzalez was put on waivers is NOT that big of a deal - though the possible deal would likely be a huge one.

Stay tuned for further updates if/when the trade develops.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why I Give to the Jimmy Fund

Today, the Red Sox are hosting the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon to raise money and awareness about the Jimmy Fund.  Today also happens to be the third anniversary of the day my mother passed away from cancer. The following is a re-post of my September 25, 2009 entry entitled "Baseball as a Coping Mechanism," which should explain why even a broke recent college grad like myself makes sure to give every year. 

 "Surviving cancer is, and will always be, my toughest battle. I laugh when people talk about how tough it is to deal with the boos of the fans or the high expectations of big market baseball. Hah! You want to know what tough is. John Kruk knows. Andres Galarraga knows. And Jon Lester has come to find out. When cancer comes calling, baseball takes a backseat. Having forty thousand people at Yankee Stadium tell me I suck is a nice diversion." -Mike Lowell, Deep Drive

Cancer took my mom last month. Today would have been her sixty-second birthday.

When I came back from boarding school with a renewed obsession for baseball, my mom humored me, watching all the games with me (with intermittent naps), and even picking a favorite player (David Ortiz). After I read Mike Lowell’s book, I knew she had to read it, too. The above passage caused Mikey to replace Papi in her affections.

The Red Sox were something that we shared. She didn't have any real affinity for professional baseball before I did (though she grew up in rural Connecticut, so the Sox would have been a logical choice), but she started paying attention because it was important to me: I loved the Red Sox, she loved me. Therefore, she loved the Red Sox, too. The other members of my family are what you would term "casual fans," they don't know very much about the players, don't really watch on TV, but, like all good New Englanders, they have Sox hats and are happy when the home town team does well.

When we were in the hospital last month, the Red Sox were on the telev
ision every night. The first night we were there was the night of Victor Martinez's two-out, go-ahead double in the ninth inning, and when he hit it I leaped out of my chair, feeling that I shouldn't yell in a hospital. My mom felt no such qualms, and shouted her excitement. She then looked at me and said, quite seriously, "You know, I really liked Justin Masterson... but this new guy looks promising." I couldn't have said it better myself.

The Red Sox provided an escape these last few years when I needed one, and they were something for my mom and I to enjoy together when we could. Her first trip to Fenway was last June, and Tim Wakefield pitched the Sox to a win over the Diamondbacks. We went twice this summer, once to see Jon Lester pitch 7+ perfect innings (and a complete game) against the Rangers in June, and once to see Brad Penny toss a gem against New York the next week.

"I never thought I'd get to go to Fenway Park," she told me more than once. I'm so glad that she did.

Even when I was away at school, she would watch the games so she could talk about them with me (and, as a lifetime coach and phys. ed. teacher, she had a deep love of sports). I have a saved voicemail on my cell phone from April 26, 2009. She called me during the game, while my phone was off, and left the following breathless message: "Wow, Kayla, I really hope you're watching the game, because Jacoby Ellsbury just stole home, and it was AMAZING!" As soon as I got the message, I called her back and we discussed it at length.

My mom valued sportsmanship highly, perhaps because of her keen awareness that life isn’t fair, she expected sports to be fair… She even infamously pulled out a rulebook in the middle of a field hockey game last season in order to correct the referee. As those she coached well know, she never advocated arguing with the umpire, so if she was upset, there was something very wrong. Sure enough, she was right, and another person learned that it’s very unwise to doubt Deryl Fleming when it comes to field hockey. She taught me to always respect the umpire, and the only time I ever saw her visibly upset over a call in MLB was last year. Mikey Lowell, whose book she had just finished, starting arguing balls and strikes with the umpire. "Well," she reasoned, "Mike never argues, so if he thinks it's a bad call, it's a bad call."

I can't thank everyone enough that helped her and our family through everything: all the food, and the rides, and the support, meant more than anyone will know. I wish there was some way for me to thank the Boston Red Sox, and specifically Mike Lowell, for giving her, and me, something to believe in and hope for right up until the end.  

To give, call 877-738-1234, go to, or text KCANCER to 20222 to give $10. Every little bit helps.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dustin Pedroia!

My favorite human being turns twenty-nine today, and although it's been a terrible season for the local nine so far, I smell a win tonight on the back of starting pitcher Franklin Morales and the birthday boy himself, Dustin Pedroia.

I've waxed poetic about Pedey in this space many times before, so instead of boring you all with tales of my obsession devotion, I'll just leave you with some of my favorite photos of the Laser Show: