Entries Tagged as 'Red Sox'

Times getting all Sox-less

The New York Times just sold some of its stake of the Boston Red Sox. 

The deal with Henry McCance for 50 of the media company’s 750 units in New England Sports Ventures (NESV), which owns the Major League Baseball team, reduces the Times’s stake to 16.6 percent from 17.75 percent.

Before we get all sentimental thinking it was a move to be more loyal to the Yankees, my bet is that it was a purely economic move based on the Times financial situation.

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Monty Hall: Let’s Make a Deal

michael-taylorThere is another three way deal on the horizon, this one involving the Phillies, the Blue Jays, & the Mariners.  Philadelphia would get righthanded ace Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays & pitching prospect Phillippe Aumont (plus another Seattle youngster, yet to be named) from the Mariners, Seattle gets Cliff Lee from the City of Brotherly Love, and Toronto picks up superstar phenom outfielder Michael Taylor, sky’s the limit starter Kyle Drabek (Son of Doug), and minor league catcher Travis d’Arnaud from the Phils.  In a deal involving two former Cy Young Award winners switching uniforms, the third party player might end up being the big winner, that’s how good Michael Taylor might end up, he’s that good!  Trader Billy Beane jumped into the frey to make it a four-way deal, sending 1B-3B Brett Wallace, a 2008 1st round pick out of ASU by the Cardinals who was traded to Oakland in the Matt Holliday trade, to Toronto for Michael Taylor.  While Wallace has some serious power 20 or more homers in each of the last two seasons, he also swung & missed 106 times in the minors this past year.  To me, the A’s look to be the big winner getting the highly skilled outfielder Taylor.

This three way deal was probably made possible when the Red Sox inked John Lackey away from the Angels.  Once the Bronx Bombers knew Boston was no longer in the hunt to pickup either Halladay or Lee, the Pinstripers could relax and let the trade proceed without outside interference from NY.

In another move, not made by the Yankees, World Series MVP Hideki (Godzilla, but you can call me Shemp) Matsui headed west to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  The Orange County team needed to bring somebody on board after losing leadoff man Chone Figgins (now with the Mariners) & ace starter Lackey (over in Bean Town) already this offseason.  Still I don’t know if it’s much of a consolation prize, seeing the Mariners added Figgins & Lee, while on this day the Halos, in effect, swapped Lackey for Matsui.

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Throw Another Log on that Old Hot Stove

curtis-granderson-stealsSo far, the biggest trade was the three-way deal involving the Yankees, the Diamondbacks, and the Tigers.  New York got All Star centerfielder Curtis Granderson, enough said, they got the best player in the deal.  Arizona got starting pitchers Edwin Jackson & Ian Kennedy.  While Detroit landed centerfield prospect Austin Jackson, starting pitcher Max Scherzer, and a couple of lefties for their bullpen Phil Coke & Daniel Schlereth.

The Texas Rangers traded starter Kevin Millwood to the Orioles in exchange for reliever Chris Ray and Rule V selection Ben Snyder, the move was designed to free up money so Texas could sign free agent starter Rich Harden.  The Rangers had enough money left over to acquire thirdbaseman Mike Lowell for catching prospect Max Ramirez from the Red Sox.  Boston is interested in signing free agent thirdbaseman Adrian Beltre.

Pirates reliever Jesse Chavez has to be wondering whether it’s safe to unpack his bags, as he’s on his third team this offseason.  He was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, who just dealt him to the Atlanta Braves for reliever Rafael Soriano.  The Braves no longer needed Soriano, since bringing in Billy Wagner & Takashi Saito.

The Chicago White Sox brought in former Seattle Mariners closer J.J. Putz to replace Octavio Dotel, whom they chose not to retain.

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Hot Stove Starting to Heat Up

OmarVizquelThe White Sox fired up the Hot Stove signing SS Omar Vizquel & Andruw Jones.  Vizquel has been the best defensive shortstop of his time and will tutor Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez.  Omar might be headed for Cooperstown when he finally hangs them up, his numbers stack up with Ozzie Smith, and nobody flashed a better glove at short.  Speaking of excellent fielders, nobody did it better than Andruw Jones, but that was in his day.  Andruw isn’t all that old, but he got old in a hurry, with very old knees.  Jones will not embarrass himself in the outfield with the glove, although he won’t add to the team speed, but he was brought in here for his bat and to provide some outfield depth.

After a career year with the Blue Jays, Marco Scutaro cashed in with Boston, where he’ll be the Red Sox everyday shortstop.  Outfielder Mike Cameron’s new home will be Fenway Park, playing leftfield for the Bosox, which would mean Jason Bay will not be retained.  The Redbirds made a wise investment bringing Brad Penny on board.  Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan has to be licking his chops, adding Penny to a staff that already has Adam Wainwright & Chris Carpenter.  The Atlanta Braves bolstered their bullpen by adding lefty Billy Wagner and righthander Takashi Saito.  By signing with the Nationals, Ivan Rodriguez will serve as a backup catcher & mentor to Jesus Flores.

I’m sure there’s alot more to come, I’m especially looking forward to the Rule V Draft, which takes place on the 10th.

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AFL Rising Stars Game Has Me All Stoked

yonder alonsoBefore watching the Rising Stars Game last night on the MLB Network, I really didn’t know what I was going to see on my trip to Arizona.  After seeing a sampling of the talent out there, my bags are packed, & I’m stoked.

The Cincinnati Reds are going to have a tough decision at firstbase.  Joey Votto played there for the big club, batting .322 with 25 homers & 84 RBIs, he’s arguably their best hitter.  But their best hitting prospect is Miami’s Yonder Alonso.  Alonso posted big numbers at Miami, hitting .370 with 24 long balls in only 211 at bats, walking 76 times, while striking out only 35 times.  Last night he demonstrated his line drive swing, going 3 for 4, with a double, 2 ribbies, although he did K.

Another hitter in the Reds system, batted cleanup in the game, Chris Heisey, an outfielder, was the 504th player chosen in the 2006 draft.  He played at Messiah College, is from Lancaster, PA, and was signed after a tryout.  He got the scoring going for the West with a first inning home run off Tommy Mendoza, then later in the game added a double.

19 year old shortstop Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs was 2 for 3 in the game, showed great speed, seems to have baseball instincts, and should move Ryan Theriot over to secondbase in the near future.

Speaking of 19 year old shortstops, the Red Sox had Cuban prospect Jose Iglesias in this game and although he looked overmatched it was obvious the talent this kid possesses.  He should follow in the footsteps of Nomar Garciaparra & Hanley Ramirez, both out of the Bosox system.

One pitcher who didn’t have it was Atlanta’s Mike Minor, a first rounder out of Vanderbilt, 2/3 IP, 7 hits, 7 runs, & 1 walk, he was hit HARD.  The lefty was on Team USA, was the ace of the staff, and allowed only one unearned run in 12 1/3 innings versus Cuba, he was dominant.

Another pitcher who didn’t look good was Daniel Moskos of the Pittsburgh Pirates, taken in the 1st round in 2007, 2/3 IP, 4 runs on 5 hits, he got ROCKED.  Moskos is another soft throwing lefthander in the Buccos tradition of Zack Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, & Paul Maholm.

ASU’s Mike Leake showed some STUFF, working one inning, allowing one hit, and striking out three.  The Reds drafted this kid in the first round of the 2009 draft.  The AFL is his first experience in pro ball, he was 16-1, with a 1.71 ERA, and 162 strikeouts in 142 innings for the Sun Devils this past season.

LA’s own Danny Gutierrez brought his own cheering section, it seemed to help as the kid struckout the side in his one inning on the bump.  Danny was selected in the 33rd round of the 2005 draft by the Kansas City Royals.  Now this 6’2″ righthander out of Riverside Community College is pitching in the Texas Rangers organization.

There are so many more prospects that I could tell you about, but I have to save something for my trip out west, really looking forward to it, can’t you tell?!?!  Oh, BTW, the West Stars beat the East Stars, 8-7 on a late Matt McBride two run dinger, but none of that really matters.

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2009 American League All Stars

derek-jeterThe Sporting News has announced the American League All Stars as selected by a panel of 31 major league general managers and GMs.  Joe Mauer received votes from all 17 AL executives who participated.

C Joe Mauer appeared in 138 games for the Twins, 109 behind the plate, leading the league with a .365 batting average (he also topped the league in average the year before with a .328 mark), while getting beat up at catcher.  Joe hit 28 homers, 30 doubles, and drove in 96, leading Minnesota to the postseason as Central Division champs.

1B Mark Teixeira powered the Yankees offense leading the league in homers (39) & RBIs 122, while batting .292, with 43 doubles, scoring 103 times, he also topped the Junior Circuit in total bases with 344.

2B Aaron Hill came back after suffering a concussion, which allowed him to only play 55 games the previous season, to have his best year ever.  Aaron batted .286 with 36 home runs & 37 doubles, driving in 108 & scoring 103 times.

3B Evan Longoria was the Rookie of the Year who was one of the leaders of the Rays who made it to the World Series last year, now he’s the best player at the hot corner.  He batted .281, with 33 longballs, 44 two base hits, drove in 113 & scored 100 times.

SS Derek Jeter is the captain & leader of the New York Yankees.  Jeter batted .334 with an OBP of .406, it was his job to get on for the big bats, steling 30 bases at the ripe old age of 35, he ripped 18 homers to go along with 27 doubles.

OF Ichiro Suzuki is known simply as Ichiro.  Since coming to the States all he’s done is hit, a lifetime batting average of .333, over 200 hits every season (9 years), and leading the league in hits the last four years.  This year Ichiro batted .352 with 225 hits, 31 doubles, 11 homers, and 26 steals.

OF Torii Hunter just missed batting .300, finishing the season with a .299 batting average, 22 homers, 90 RBIs, despite missing significant time due to injury.

OF Jason Bay has quickly found his Fenway Park stroke since coming over to the Red Sox, socking 36 homers, driving in 119, while scoring 103 runs.

DH Hideki Matsui joins three other Yankees on this year’s all star squad.  Due to injuries Matsui took over the team’s fulltime DH duties to keep him healthy and to keep his potent bat in the lineup.  It worked as Hideki hit 28 home runs & drove in 90 for the Bronx Bombers.

SP Zack Greinke seems to have it altogether for the Royals, being named Pitcher of the Year.  16-8 with a league best 2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts in 229′ innings, doesn’t begin to tell the story of this youngster’s dominance, with any kind of run support at all he certainly would’ve been a twenty game winner.

RP Mariano Rivera There are closers, then there is Mariano Rivera.  He is that good, he is a step above every other closer in the game, and like a fine wine, he just keeps getting better with age.  He has this cutter, a gift from God, the hitters know it’s coming, but can’t do anything to hit it.  He has taught his famous cutter to a few pitchers throughout the league, to the chagrin of many hitters.  This year Mo, at the age of 39, had 44 saves to go along with a 1.76 ERA, ho-hum.

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Guest Blogger: Hardball Cooperative’s James Bailey looks at the AL hunt

Each day this week, The Baseball Zealot will be featuring special guest bloggers who will be giving their predictions on the 2009 MLB end-of year-awards and postseason matchups.  Today, James Bailey gives us his take on the AL divisions.

james James Bailey is a former editor of Baseball America and is now editor and major contributor to a new baseball blog, Hardball Cooperative.  You can thank Bailey whose idea of more collaborative work between baseball blogs which gave me the idea for this week-long guest blogging project.   When pressed, Bailey says he followed the Seattle Mariners but like a lot of us admits to mostly following his fantasy league players now.  Ah, the times we live in. 
 

Every time it looks like things are about settled in the American League, one of the down-and-outers sneaks back into the picture. A week ago the Tigers were on the brink of backing into the Central Division crown. They woke up Thursday morning with a 4.5 game lead, down from 7 games just 10 days earlier. The Twins, who have won four games in a row, are growing ever closer in Detroit’s rear-view mirror. The teams have seven head-to-head matchups remaining, starting with a three-game set this weekend.

 

The Central may be the tightest race in the AL, but it’s not the only one left to be decided. We technically have open contests in the East and West as well, though the Yankees and Angels hold leads of 6.5 and 6 games, respectively. The gap in the wild-card race is stretching out, though the Rangers, at 6.5 games behind the Red Sox, aren’t giving up hope quite yet. They have two different routes to the postseason. Both are dependent upon them winning at close to a .750 clip and getting help from above. Considering Michael Young and Josh Hamilton are spending more time on the trainer’s table than in the lineup, their odds are staggering. Still, with seven contests remaining against the Angels, they have the opportunity, at least on paper, to make headway.

 

While the Twins and Rangers are still breathing, it’s looking more and more like we’ll see some familiar matchups in October. If the standings hold the way they are now, the Red Sox and Angels will meet for the third consecutive year. Boston won that series both times. The other divisional series would match the Yankees and Tigers.

 

Here’s a breakdown of the races in each division:

AL East

 

The Yankees, who were three games behind Boston at the break, have gone on a tear since then, winning at a .729 clip (43-16). Their+89 run differential is the best in baseball over the second half. They looked to be pulling away from the Red Sox until Boston’s 7-game winning streak pulled them to within a stone’s throw of a miracle. There’s no one else to worry about, however, as the Rays were eliminated from the East race over the weekend.

 

The Yanks lead the majors in runs, and it’s not close. Their 843 runs are 45 more than the Angels, the next closest team. It’s not all a product of Yankee Stadium, either. They have tallied 414 runs on the road and 429 at home. If there’s an area of concern for the AL’s best team, it’s the starting rotation, where only C.C. Sabathia owns a sub 4.00 ERA. Andy Pettitte (13-6, 4.14) will be there when it matters, but the Yanks have to be getting a little nervous about A.J. Burnett, who has gone 1-5 with a 6.14 ERA in his last nine starts. That includes four games in which he’s allowed six or more earned runs. Joba Chamberlain has been even worse since the start of August, going 1-3 in eight starts with a 7.09 ERA in 33 innings. If they have a lead to hand to their bullpen, Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera are likely to hold it for them. But they’ll need more than Sabathia and Pettitte to get them through the playoffs.

 

It’s been pitching that has spurred Boston over the last week. In six of their last nine games they’ve allowed 1 run or less (two shutouts). Even Daisuke Matsuzaka, who missed most of the season due to injury, has contributed, with six scoreless innings on Tuesday. Boston has the best team ERA of any legitimate contender, and they figure to get even stingier when they pare down to their playoff rotation. Their offense has heated up over the second half, scoring 165 runs in August alone.

  

Team W-L Pct. 2nd Half Since 8/1 Since 9/1
New York 94-53 .639 43-16 32-11 11-15
Boston 86-58 .597 32-24 26-16 10-4
 

Key Injuries

New York: None. Pettitte missed his start this week due to shoulder fatigue, but the Yankees are hopeful that won’t linger.

Boston: None. Kevin Youkilis has battled back spasms this week. He expects to be back to full strength soon.

 

Remaining opponents

New York: Seattle (3), Los Angeles (3), Boston (3), Kansas City (3), Tampa Bay (3)

Boston: Los Angeles (1), Baltimore (3), Kansas City (4), New York (3), Toronto (3), Cleveland (4)

 

AL Central

 

It’s Detroit’s to lose, and they just might do that. The Twins are closing the gap, thanks to a four-game winning streak, and the White Sox are lingering because the Tigers refuse to close the door on them.

 

Detroit’s +7 run differential hardly becomes a division leader. Since June 1, the Tigers have actually been outscored 450 to 412. Their pitching, led by Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson, has been among the best in the league. The offense is another story. The Tigers rank 10th in the AL in scoring, with just 668 runs. Miguel Cabrera is having a fine season, but he’s the only well-rounded threat in the lineup. Curtis Granderson and Brandon Inge have hit for power, but they’re hitting just .250 and .233, respectively. Magglio Ordonez, who has his average up to .291, has done most of his damage against lefties.

 

Joe Mauer is one of the leading contenders for AL MVP honors, and a dramatic run to the division title would certainly enhance his case. He lost his best protection when Justin Morneau bowed out this week, though he hasn’t stopped hitting. Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer need to get hot and stay hot over the next two weeks if the Twins hope to sustain their charge. A rotation that includes Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing hardly seems up to the task at hand, but stranger things have happened.

 

The White Sox have posted losing records in two of the first five months of the season and were no better than two over .500 in any of the others. Yet they’re mathematically breathing in the Central. Maybe, just maybe, this division doesn’t deserve a representative in the postseason.

 

Team W-L Pct. 2nd Half Since 8/1 Since 9/1
Detroit 78-67 .538 30-28 25-19 9-6
Minnesota 74-72 .507 29-28 22-21 8-7
Chicago 72-74 .493 27-31 19-23 8-6

Key Injuries

Detroit: None. Joel Zumaya is done for the year, but he wasn’t a key player this season for the Tigers.

Minnesota: Morneau was diagnosed this week with a stress fracture in his back and he’s finished. That leaves a huge hole in the lineup, though the Twins are winning without him. Kevin Slowey has missed the second half of the season and won’t pitch again this year.

Chicago: It’s hard to call Jake Peavy a key injury, as he has never thrown a pitch for the Sox, though they must have envisioned him in the rotation when they pulled the trigger at the deadline.

 

Remaining opponents

Detroit: Kansas City (1), Minnesota (7), Cleveland (3), Chicago (6)

Minnesota: Detroit (7), Chicago (3), Kansas City (6)

Chicago: Seattle (1), Kansas City (3), Minnesota (3), Detroit (6), Cleveland (3)

 

AL West

 

The season hardly unfolded the way any Angel fan would have hoped, with the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart and the sluggish start by the team. But in the end they found their way to the top of the division, where everyone expected them to be all along. The West looked to be a division with a front-runner and three favorites for fourth place, but the Rangers stepped up and have given the Angels something of a challenge. They’re too far back now to make a charge with some of their key offensive weapons barely upright.

 

If the Angels can push hard for another week or so, they should clinch early enough to rest their starting pitchers a little going into the first round of the playoffs. It’s their offense, however, that could use some reinvigoration. They’ve scored more than three runs just four times in 15 September games. MVP candidate Kendry Morales has just four RBIs in September after hitting 10 homers and driving in 33 runs in August. Bobby Abreu, who is second on the team with 96 RBIs, has picked up some of that slack, hitting .347 with 10 RBIs this month.

 

It’s been an up-and-down year for the Rangers, but if they finish too far on the down side of that to make the postseason, they won’t have any shortage of reasons. Their collective health will be near the top of the list, but the three losing months on their resume haven’t done them any favors (10-11 in April, 11-15 in June, 14-15 in August). They have looked like one of the best teams in the AL at times, when they’ve had the offense and their young pitching in synch. Scott Feldman (16-5, 3.65) and Tommy Hunter (8-3, 3.23) have exceeded all expectations on the mound. Veteran Kevin Millwood looked rejuvenated early in the year, but over the second half he’s just 2-3 with a 5.32 ERA in nine starts and is averaging only five innings per game. His tank appears to be near E.

 

Team W-L Pct. 2nd Half Since 8/1 Since 9/1
Los Angeles 86-59 .593 37-22 25-19 8-7
Texas 80-65 .552 32-26 22-22 8-7

 

 

Key Injuries

Los Angeles: They’re as healthy as they’ve been all year, though their pitching staff would look deeper with Kelvim Escobar and Scot Shields in the pen.

Texas: Josh Hamilton’s season has been one injury after the next. He’s missed the past two weeks due to back troubles, and now he’s got a tight glute to deal with. It’s possible he’ll play again, but considering how long he’s been out he’s unlikely to contribute much. Michael Young has also missed most of September with a hamstring injury. He’s close to returning, but not to full strength. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is done for the season and faces surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.

 

Remaining opponents

Los Angeles: Boston (1), Texas (7), New York (3), Oakland (6)

Texas: Los Angeles (7), Oakland (4), Tampa Bay (3), Seattle (3)

Thanks, James for the great analysis.  Tomorrow we will have our last installment in our guest blogging series with David Pinto looking at the National League.  Stay tuned for that.  Check out all the great articles from our previous guest bloggers from this week.

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Slowpoke Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon has been slapped with another fine related to MLB’s “pacing violation”.  This rule which MLB has asked to be more vigorously enforced, limits the time that a pitcher takes to throw the ball. 

I’m not a fan of the rule necessarily but I understand why it is in place.  Papelbon is certainly familiar with the rule.  This incident is the seventh time he’s been hit with this violation.  This time he got a $5000 fine to bring his total to $10,000 for fines accrued for this practice. 

Some baseball fans (who regard any infraction of the rules baseball as a personal affront) feel Papelbon is doing this because in the words of a commenter in one forum, “the rules are meant for someone else” or that it “shows the type of character he possesses”. 

Sheesh.

Papelbon is, in my opinion, simply pitching the best he can in the way that he can.  If getting fined a measly (in relative terms) $1,000-$5,000 a shot for a couple times a year in order for him to put up the numbers that he does, he’ll do it. 

Should he find a way to hurry his delivery?  Probably, unless he doesn’t mind that fine to continue to rise. 

At this time, Pap has 34 saves in 37 opportunities with a 1.84 ERA.  I’m sure Red Sox fans aren’t complaining about the extra time.

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Bonehead Brett

Indians Blue Jays BaseballIn last night’s baseball game between the Red Sox and the Blue Jays in Toronto, rookie lefty Brett Cecil did something so stupid, Little Leaguers were shaking their heads.  The umpires were so stupifide that they had to meet before deciding what to do.  Cecil had just walked Jason Bay when he noticed a scuff mark on the baseball, so he wanted a new ball, most pitchers would rather just use the scuffed baseball to their advantage, making the ball do pretty much what they wanted it to do, but that wasn’t even the dumb part.  Rather than asking the umpire for a new baseball and exchanging spheres with him, Brett simply rolled the live ball into the Jays dugout, without getting timeout.  The umpires originally sent Bay to secondbase, but after meeting, decided he should be awarded thirdbase.  Jason would score on a one-out single by Mike Lowell through a drawn in infield.  Everything seemed to fall apart from there as Toronto committed three errors, as Boston went on to win 8-1.

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Orioles spot Red Sox 9 run lead then bats take over

As hard as it may seem to believe, Rich Hill’s ERA jumped a full point in his start against the Red Sox last night.  Hill allowed 9 hits 9 runs in 3 plus innings.

Fortunately for Baltimore, the Oriole bats were working overtime.  They achieved the biggest comeback in franchise history saving Hill from being the goat.  Baltimore won by the score of 11-10. 

It was also the biggest comeback by a last-place team over a first-place team.

George Sherrill the young stopper for Baltimore, got his 17th save of the year. 

"One-run saves are tough.  I haven’t been part of a winning team yet, so I guess when we get to 83 wins, that will be more exciting. Until then, this is probably one of the biggest."

One-run saves are indeed tough.  That’s why the good ones get paid the big bucks.

By the way, I’m don’t follow the Red Sox too closely but why is Julio Lugo leading off and Jacoby Ellsbury batting eighth?  Lugo seems to be one of those players that just won’t retire.  And I’m not sure if I mean that in a good way or a bad way. 

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