Tag Archives: Boston Red Sox

2011 Boston Red Sox Predictions

2011 Boston Red Sox

With Major League Baseball’s opening day looming just two weeks away (March 31), it’s time for my 2011 Boston Red Sox predictions. Following an offseason highlighted by the signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, I think that NESN has said it best with their slogan for the Sox 2011 campaign — “We’re all in.”

The Offense — Contrary to popular belief, the Red Sox had plenty of offense last year — they finished second in MLB in runs and slugging percentage. This year’s offense is that much more dynamic — Carl Crawford essentially gives us a second Jacoby Ellsbury on the base paths, in the body of a much better hitter. A left-handed Adrian Gonzalez should bring Fenway’s right field fence to its knees, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are just hitting the stride of their primes, and David Ortiz is  coming off a good season. There will not be a more fun offense to watch in baseball, with the Sox combination of speed and power.

The Pitching — Critics like to poke holes in the Red Sox pitching staff. I look at it like this — John Lester has been just about as good as anybody the last few seasons. Clay Bucholz has finally lived up to his potential, following a 17-7 season with a 2.33 ERA. And my Red Sox pleasant surprise of the year is going to be John Lackey — I’m expecting a big season out of him. Clearly frustrated with his performance last year, Lackey arrived at camp 15 pounds lighter and ready to roll. I’d look for 16-10 or so out of him this year. That leaves us with the Red Sox perennial question marks — Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett. These guys both have fierce stuff, but get lit up more than your average patron at a Grateful Dead concert. Who knows what to expect out of these guys — if either of them give us a season substantially over .500 we can consider it a bonus. As for the pen, Papelbon is obviously a bit of a question mark. No pitcher has ever saved 35+ games in a season to more criticism. The likes of Daniel Bard and newcomer Bobby Jenks should help sure up the closing roll.

The Question Marks — The Sox have 3 questions marks in my eyes. The first is middle relief, where the Sox did do some substantial offseason work. That said, I’m not as sure of the bullpen as the rest of Boston seems to be. I am always leery of relievers — a few closers aside they are usually just pitchers not good enough to be starters. I’m not predicting anything terrible here, I’m just not quite sure who is going to emerge as the backbone of the middle relief crew.

The second question mark I see is the shortstop position, which I consider to be the 3rd most important position on the field. I’m not buying into Jed Lowrie, and I never bought into Marco Scutaro. I was a big Nick Green fan myself and saw big things for him. Even so, every team has to have a weakness somewhere and I don’t think this is a big deal.

The biggest question mark in my eyes, by far, is at the catcher position. Jason Varitek is valuable in his leadership and the experience he brings working with the pitching staff, but he’s a glaring weakness in all other ways and likely won’t be able to play too many games. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is young, unproven, and inexperienced — not what you’re looking for in the catcher of a World Series contender. I think that the Sox will miss Victor Martinez much more than any player that they lost — Adrian Beltre included.

2011 Season Prediction – I’m not going out on a limb here at all, but I think the Red Sox will meet the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. While the Phillies’ starters are undoubtedly superior, I think that the Red Sox offense will be dynamic enough to score the runs needed to beat a lackluster Phillies offense. I hereby predict that the Red Sox will win the 2011 World Series — and don’t call me a homer — I predicted that the Yankees would win the last two seasons.

Bookmark and Share

22 Comments

Filed under Baseball

The Red Sox Player Missed Most

Bill Hall

By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

I’ve made it pretty clear by now that I don’t think this off-season could have gone much better for the Red Sox – I may or may not have called my father after midnight in the middle of the week to inform him that we had landed Carl Crawford. His response – grumble, “great,” click – whatever, he goes to bed at 9:00pm these days. That said there is one player that I’ll be missing come April. Bill Hall.

Psych! I bet you thought I was going to say Adrian Beltre – No, I’m all about Youkilis at third base and prefer not to have Sox left fielders systematically taken down over the course of the season. Surprised? Yeah, me too – because I spent the entirety of last season ripping on Bill Hall. His name became an adjective; you totally blew something, you “Bill Hall’d” it – how’d the interview go? Oh man, I Bill Hall’d it. It’s similar to the expression “I dropped the ball,” because it seemed throughout the course of last season that all Bill Hall did was botch routine plays. In reality, he didn’t play that badly – it’s hard to catch the ball all the time when you’re playing every single position on the field – at the same time. That’s an exaggeration, but at times it felt like Bill Hall was the only healthy player on the Red Sox squad. The night he came in and pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning (the only pitcher that night to do so) I felt like David After Dentist: “Is this real life?”

Upon hearing that the Red Sox had not resigned Bill Hall for the 2011 season I felt oddly disappointed about it – my initial reaction was: How could we not resign this guy! He was our entire team! Obviously resigning Hall wouldn’t make sense for the Sox or Hall himself but hindsight is 20/20 and the reason I hated on him so much is because he was stepping in for players whose shoes were hard to fill. When you’re used to Dustin Pedroia, Bill Hall is just not going to cut it, even if he plays solidly. I didn’t know what I had with Bill Hall ‘till he was gone and now that he’s the regular second baseman for the Houston Astros he’ll probably bat .356 or something, rock Hideki Okajima every time he faces him, and I’ll start hating on him all over again.

Bookmark and Share

3 Comments

Filed under Baseball

Daisuke Matsu-Sucka?

Daisuke Matsuzaka

By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

The Boston Herald’s Red Sox Blog published a story entitled  “How Daisuke Might Pitch When He’s Not The Story,” in mid-February  — when I read it I was skeptical. Daisuke was described as arriving at Spring Training “tanned and relaxed.” Tanned, alright, but relaxed? I haven’t seen Daisuke look relaxed since he showed up stateside in ’07 – every time he’s on the rubber he gets that weird eyebrow crinkle where he looks like he’s about to cry, and he’s  always sweating, no matter the season. I’m at the game in a layer of Under Armor and he’s out there sweating. The point the story made was now that Daisuke is not at the center of both Japanese and American media attention he will finally have the chance to be a normal pitcher.

Consider this — Daisuke’s spring training ERA is 10.80 — if this is “normal” then we’re in for along season. Granted he’s only had two outings and it is just spring training, but Clay Buchholz has only had two outings and his ERA is zero. I’m in Ft. Myer’s now and had the (not-so-great) pleasure of watching Daisuke pitch on Saturday afternoon against the Florida Marlins. The man got lit up. Fine, he was working on his off-speed pitches, Saltalamacchia says his curveball looks better than ever, and the Dice himself was unconcerned with the start, but I’m stillsitting out there watching him give up seven runs in an 11-2 loss. Honestly, I don’t care if Daisuke feels good, because I don’t feel good about the perceived “best team in baseball” getting embarrassed by the Florida Marlins.

The Herald can write what they want about Daisuke, if people want to project that this year he might get back to the brief dominance he achieved throughout his ’08 season with the Sox that’s fine with me, but in a pitcher I appreciate consistency. (To those who are thinking, brief! He went 18 and 3 that season! I say for the amount of money are paying this guy I should get a couple more of those kinds of seasons before he earns the adjective “dominant.”) This is why my favorite Sox are Lester and Buchholz, even Lackey, who although not dominant last year came out to the mound with consistent stuff for every start and, arguably, just didn’t get enough run support. If you like a pitcher that dazzles once every five starts then Daisuke is your man, but I prefer dependable performance to the occasional sparkle. So while the Herald waits around for “tanned,” “relaxed,” “new look Dice-K” to show up to Fenway park, I’ll be sitting on my hands waiting for his damned contract to run out. Is it 2013 yet?

Bookmark and Share

14 Comments

Filed under Baseball

Joba (Chamberlain) the Hutt

Joba Chamberlain

By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

Boy, could this Red Sox off-season get any better? Theo Epstein makes moves to sign Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Cliff Lee decides to take his talent to the National League, Andy Pettitte retires, and now Yankee reliever Joba Chamberlain shows up to Spring Training looking, well, a little doughy. Of course, the Yankee organization does not want to focus on the weight, but General Manager Brain Cashman did say that Chamberlain was, “obviously heavier” and gave no indication as to whether the pitcher weighed in above or below the number suggested for the beginning of Spring Training. Chamberlain says it’s all muscle, but I say cue the Joba-the-Hutt jokes because if he’d been getting ripped in his bi’s and tri’s Cashman wouldn’t have called him “heavier,” he would’ve called him “fitter.” It’s not the weight that really matters – that’s just another excuse for me to rip on the Yankees — but  rather the question of preparedness. This extra weight around Joba’s middle suggests that perhaps he spent a little too much time watching pod racing and not enough time busting his butt at the gym. He didn’t work as hard in the off-season as he could have, or even should have, as a player who struggled last year and who’s future with the Yankees is up in the air. If I had something to prove I’d do my best to show up to Spring Training with a Situation style six-pack.

Like John Lackey – ok, he doesn’t have a six-pack – but he did arrive in Ft. Myers looking pretty svelte. Perhaps he wants to prove he can live up to the hype that he fell a bit short of in 2010 – that he’s worth the $82.5 million contract the Sox gave him. Whatever it is, something lit a fire under Lackey’s butt and instead of joining Joba at the buffet he amped up his cardio routine and lost about 15 pounds for the start of the 2011 season. This was at no urging from the Red Sox staff – now that’s taking some initiative. So really what I’m saying here is that the Red Sox look much better than the Yankees coming into 2011. No literally. We’re better looking. So what if the Yankees have Alex “the popcorn eater” Rodriguez at the hot corner? They’re down Pettitte’s cheekbones and we’re up a Jon Lester, a Clay Buchholz, and a newly slim Lackey. I say, bring it Yanks, because baseball is life and the same saying applies: “When you’re hot you’re hot and when you’re not you’re not”.

Bookmark and Share

9 Comments

Filed under Baseball

Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon Sign with Rays?

Manny Ramirez Rays

I say……good for them! I don’t like this move because it obviously makes the Rays much more competitive than they would be without these guys. That’s a very solid lead-off hitter and an all-time great clean-up hitter. Sure, they are old, but I don’t want to hear it. Both of these guys are great players and have plenty left in the tank, although Manny is also an all-star head case. It’s good to see that the Rays aren’t simply dumping all of their players and are making moves to remain competitive in the AL East.

Both players signed one year deals, Damon for $5.25 mil plus incentives and Manny for $2 mil. In my book, both of those deals are straight up bargains. You can’t tell me that signing Manny Ramirez to the Red Sox for $2 mil wouldn’t have been a great move. Well played, Rays.

Bookmark and Share

28 Comments

Filed under Baseball

Dustin Pedroia Versus Robinson Cano

Dustin Pedroia Versus Robinson Cano

Last week we briefly got into a little spat over the question of who is the better second baseman: Boston’s Dustin Pedroia or New York’s Robinson Cano. After our previous looks at David Ortiz versus Alex RodriguezTom Brady versus Derek Jeter, Tom Brady versus Peyton ManningMichael Jordan. versus Kobe Bryant, and Luke Harangody versus Shelden Williams, I couldn’t resist. So here it is….

I’ll start by saying this: Robinson Cano was a rookie in 2005, whereas Pedroia was a rookie in 2007 (Can0 is 28, Pedroia is 27). Given his past two seasons, you’ve got to give the edge to Cano. That said, for comparison’s sake, I think it’s much more fair to compare the first 4 seasons of each player’s career. Cano’s numbers popped in his 5th season, and Pedroia’s were beginning to pop last year until he was sidelined with an injury. A look at the first 4 years of each players career might be enlightening in telling how good each of these players could end up being.

Dustin Pedroia (2007-2010) – .307 AVG, 16 HR, 76 RBI, .374 OBP

Robinson Cano (2005-2008) – .304 AVG, 17 HR, 87 RBI, .336 OBP

Those numbers are adjusted 162 game averages for sake of comparison, and needless to say they are pretty damn similar. Let’s look at other accolades earned during that time:

Dustin Pedroia (2007-2010) – 2007 World Series Champion, 2007 Rookie of the Year, 2008 All-Star, 2008 AL MVP, 2008 Golden Glove, 2008 Silver Slugger, 2008 League Leader in runs (118), hits (213), & doubles (54), 2009 All-Star, 2009 League Leader in runs (115), 2010 All-Star

Robinson Cano (2005-2008) – 2006 All-Star, 2006 Silver Slugger

Pedroia clearly wins in this department by a landslide. Why is this, given their similar statistics? A great question. The common sentiment seems to be that Pedroia’s play had a bigger impact on his team. He certainly has displayed more leadership early in his career than Cano has. That said, he’s going to have a tough time keeping up with Cano in terms of power numbers, although he was off to a great start least year. Regardless of who you prefer, these are probably the two best second baseman in baseball. This will be an interesting rivalry to watch develop, that’s for sure.

Bookmark and Share

48 Comments

Filed under Baseball, Player Comparisons

2011 World Series Predictions — Cliff Lee to the Phillies

Cliff Lee Phillies Trade

It’s beginning to look a lot like Chrrrrristmasss — well at least in Boston and Philadelphia. The Phillies shocked everybody yesterday, signing Cliff Lee to a 5 year $120 million dollar deal that instantly gives the Philadelphia the best starting rotation in baseball. I see this as a major setback for both the Yankees and the Rangers, as the Ranger have lost and ace and the Yankees have lost the best left-handed arm they could have gotten to help combat Boston’s new left happy line-up. This does mean, however, that New York will have deep pockets to sign nearly every other available player they want — and you know they’ll pull a big trade out of their hat sometime next season. All of that said, I think this move immediately makes the Red Sox and the Phillies the favorites for next season — I’ll predict here and now that they meet in the World Series. Let’s take a look at their starting rotations for 2011:

Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt

Red Sox: John Lester, Clay Bucholz, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey (Tim Wakefield)

Those rotations could create some fantastic pitching match-ups, but I think the Red Sox have a serious advantage offensively. That said, the average Philadelphia starter is a better pitcher and the Phillies have the advantage of playing in the National league — meaning the Red Sox won’t have nearly the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Phillies rotation, as they would, say, the Yankees. Still, I believe that Boston’s chances of beating the Yankees in a 7 game series went up substantially with the Yanks missing out on Lee.

Lee’s move to the Phillies certainly was a surprise, and I can’t help but speculate on why he chose the Phils. He seemed to be happy in Texas, where he pitched the team to the World Series. The Yankees offered him crazy money and a chance to play in a huge market for a serious contender. His reasons for passing the Yanks by could have been the quality of life issue he raised, or it could simply have been the fact that he’d have to share a division with the Red Sox. Lee must have seen the Phillies’ rotation, wanted to get in on the action, and realized a playoff birth was more of a guarantee in Philly than anywhere else. His career numbers will likely be much better in the NL than the AL East, suggesting that he may have been concerned about his legacy. I’m sure his true reasons had something to do with getting a chance to win and his family’s quality of life — maybe his family has friends in the Philly area, who knows.

Regardless, the 2011 season should, without a doubt, be a competitive one.

Sox in 7 games.

Bookmark and Share

30 Comments

Filed under Baseball

Carl Crawford To Boston? You Kiddin’ Me?

Carl Crawford

Theo Epstein made a statement yesterday, saying loud and clear — “We’re here to win in 2011.” You gotta give it to the guy, every time I start to question him he answers. You also got to love his sneakiness, stating after signing Gonzalez that his focus was now on the bullpen. He made moves in a major way, and he made them early. Gotta love it. After signing Crawford to a 7-year $142 million deal, the Red Sox have the best team in the Bigs. Here’s a look at my new proposed line-up for the Sox.

1) Carl Crawford, L, LF

2) Dustin Pedroia, R, 2B

3) David Ortiz, L, DH

4) Kevin Youkilis, R, 3B

5) Adian Gonzalez, L, 1B

6) JD Drew, L, RF

7) Marco Scutaro, SS, R

8)Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, S

9) Jacoby Ellsbury, L, CF

Yes, that is going to be 6 left-handed hitters if need be. This line-up has it all in my opinion, minus a good catcher (which is the second most important position in baseball). That said we’ve got a gold glove infield, an incredibly fast outfield, power, and two of the best on the base paths in the league. Coupled with our starting pitching and a bullpen that Theo is trying to add to — watch out.

Now now now. Shut up for a moment Yankees fans. I’ve already started to hear it. “The Red Sox sold out, the Red Sox are the Yankees.” Frankly, New Yorkers, you’re just making yourself look pathetic by saying these things. Your showing us Boston people that our comments get to you. Because if you sit back and look at the numbers, well, how about we do that?

Players making over $30 million in 2011 — Yankees 1 (A-Rod), Red Sox 0

Players making over $20 million in 2011 — Yankees 3 (CC, A-Rod, Tex), Sox 0 (Crawford may, but his contract likely increases by year)

Players making over $15 million in 2011 — Yankees 6 (AJ, Mo, CC, Jeter, A-Rod, Tex), Red Sox 2 (Lackey, Crawford)

As far as signing players to long-term, big deals I gave the Yankees hell for signing AJ Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Mark Texiera in the same offseason to the tune of $441 million. The Red Sox have really only signed Crawford, although it does seem very likely they will give Adrian Gonzalez a contract extension early in the season. Even if they pay his 150+ million over many seasons, that brings Crawford and Gonzalez’s signings to about 2/3 of the Yankees spending that off-season.  Which seems about right. Boston’s payroll will be less than the Yankees, significantly, as it always is.

Oh, and that’s not to mention the deal the Yankees will likely sign Cliff Lee too. That makes those numbers look even worse. Frankly, they have no option other than to get him now — they’ll need another lefty arm to pitch the Red Sox lefty-happy line-up.

Bring on the spring.

Bookmark and Share

56 Comments

Filed under Baseball

Yo Adrian (Gonzalez)! Welcome to Boston

Adrian Gonzalez Boston Red Sox

Theo Epstein has made me very happy, as the Red Sox have a 11:00am press conference today to officially announce that they have traded for San Diego Padres’ first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. This move is the single move I most wanted the Red Sox to fulfill this offseason, as they have been targeting Gonzalez for some time. Although Gonzalez has yet to sign a long-term deal, the Red Sox have offered him 6 years for $120 million. He is reportedly looking for 8 years, paying about $23-$25 million per season, and according to several sources it looks probable that he will eventually sign for a 7 year deal at $22 million per season. Simply put, Adrian Gonzalez is our new Mark Texiera.

I like this deal for many reasons — Gonzalez is young (29), a Gold Glove winning defensive player, and a perennial 30 home run 100 RBI hitter. Although his career batting average is .284, his on base percentage numbers are excellent — he had a .396 OBP last season. Perhaps most overlooked is the fact that Gonzalez posted these numbers in an extremely hitter-unfriendly ballpark with no protection in the Padres’ lineup — as a left-handed hitter his power numbers will likely pop in Fenway Park. This move also sures up a fantastic infield defense, specifically at the corners with Kevin Youkilis’ move to third base.

So what’s the bad news? He’s going to require a big money, long-term deal. If he’s able to agree to such a deal, the Red Sox will then have a core of Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia signed for several seasons — which is great. However, Jason Werth’s signing with the Washington Nationals for 7 seasons at $126 million really hurts the Red Sox’s chances of landing Carl Crawford, who is represented by Scott Boras and is younger than Werth. He’s likely out of reach financially for the Sox now, although if we did manage to sign him it would an unbeleivable lineup.  All of that said, the real reason to be excited is a look towards my proposed opening day lineup for the Sox — they still need to add some depth, but this lineup is undeniably good.

1) Jacoby Ellsbury (L)

2) Dustin Pedroia (R)

3) David Ortiz (L)

4) Kevin Youkilis (R)

5) Adrian Gonzalez (L)

6) JD Drew (L)

7) Ryan Kallish (L)

8)Jason Varitek or Jarrod Saltalamacchia (R) or (R)

9) Marco Scutaro (R)

Starting Pitcher: John Lester

That’s a huge reason to get excited, although I still think we need one more significant bat (yes, Crawford would be perfect). Regardless, it’s great to see the Red Sox take such a huge step in the right direction.

Bookmark and Share

26 Comments

Filed under Baseball

David Ortiz Versus A-Rod…..I’m Just Sayin’

David Ortiz versus Alex Rodriguez

When I first started writing this blog, one of the first ideas that came to me was writing an offensive comparison of David Ortiz versus Alex Rodriguez. That post, which showed Ortiz’s versus A-Rod’s stats since 2004, struck a chord with Red Sox and Yankees fans alike. The numbers pretty much were a push, and I argued that given Ortiz’s postseason prowess, he should be declared the better offensive threat during that period. Yankees fans, unable to listen to reason, fought back. “We’ll see how Ortiz does once he’s off of steroids, I bet he’ll suck,” was the general sentiment. And Yankees fans chuckled after Ortiz had an absolutely abysmal start to the 2010 season. I could hear the “I told you so’s” echoing in my ears. Be patient, I told them. And here we have both Ortiz’s and A-Rod’s stats for 2010. The number of at bats they each had was nearly identical.

David Ortiz — .270 AVG, 32 HR, 102 RBI, 141 hits

A-Rod — .270 AVG, 30 HR, 125 RBI, 140 hits

Those numbers, once again, look frightening similar to me. Now I will certainly give A-Rod the edge, as 23 RBI’s is a significant difference. But you do have to factor in that A-Rod had people on base in front of him much more often than Papi did. Papi consistently had Marco Scutaro and a rotation of other scrubs hitting in front of him. That’s not an excuse, it’s a reality. Regardless, these two had very similar seasons at the plate. Ortiz was just fine “without his steroids.” Ironically, there is no more proof of Ortiz using steroids than there is of anyone who was making these statements using steroids, but that’s another issue and a bridge we’ve crossed all too often. Here’s an updated look at Ortiz and A-Rod’s stats, since 2004.

HR                     RBI                         AVG

David Ortiz                         260                     831                         .286

Alex Rodriguez                268                     841                          .296

Take it for what it is — Alex Rodriguez averages 1.1 more home runs and 1.4 RBI’s more than David Ortiz per season. Whose ears are echoing with “I told you so” now?

Bookmark and Share

Check out http://chrisross91.wordpress.com.

55 Comments

Filed under Baseball, Player Comparisons