Tag Archives: Theo Epstein

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.

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The 2010 Boston Red Sox — Put a Fork in Em’

Pedroia Red Sox

This picture really shows how small Pedroia actually is, doesn't it?

This post has been a long time in coming, but alas, there is now no way to avoid it — the 2010 Red Sox are toast. Burnt. Finished. Done. As of writing this post the Sox have 30 games to play, and are 7 games off the wild card pace. Ain’t happening.

While many Boston writers wrote the Sox off as early as mid-July, I held out far longer than most. Yes, it’s partially cause I want to “believe.” But it’s not like good play couldn’t have gotten the Sox right back in it. At one point last week they were a mere 4.5 games out of first place in the AL East. But at this point, they are short on time, talent, and inspiration. As a fan its most disappointing to see that they couldn’t put a decent run together.

That being said, I can’t really feel surprised. This was certainly a very interesting season in many ways. If you had told me at the beginning of the year that the Red Sox would claim Johnny Damon off waivers and Clay Bucholz would lead the league in ERA I would have given you more markers to huff. Theo Epstein chose a defense and pitching strategy which seemed strange in the AL east, yet in resulted in one of baseball’s most potent offenses and a rather lackluster pitching staff.

At the end of the day, you can throw the excuse card at me all day long, but that would just be you making excuses — the Red Sox season was simply derailed by injuries.  At this point Dustin Pedroia has missed 58 games, while Kevin Youkilis has missed 31 and is out for the rest of the season. Both players were off to great starts. Jacoby Ellsbury, a key offensive piece, has missed 115 games. His defensive replacement, Mike Cameron, has missed over half of the season. Josh Beckett has pitched under 100 innings, and Victor Martinez missed 23 games — during which backup catcher Jason Varitek got injured and found himself on the disabled list. And that’s just the beginning of the Sox woes this season. I simply have never seen a string of injuries this severe, which is most disappointing. Nobody wants to see the baseball season end in September.

I am however happy that I feel like I can look forward to next season with a huge amount of optimism. Despite all of the injuries and widespread criticism of Theo Epstein’s pitching and defense strategy, the Red Sox are 16 games over .500. Imagine if they had stayed fairly healthy? Needless to say, they’d be right in it, if not on top. Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and David Ortiz are the heart and soul of this team, and 2/3 of that heart is missing. Imagine if A-Rod and Texiera were missing in New York? Or Longoria and Crawford in Tampa? It’s a scary thought. And I think Theo knows he better step up his game this offseason.

So who’s going to step up and beat the Yankees for me?

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Jonathan Papelbon — Closer to the End?

Papelbon

I must start this post by saying that it pains me to be writing it. I am weeping a little bit — actually a lot of bit — and my self loathing has rarely been higher. It’s made worse by the fact that I don’t usually do this — I tend to hang on to veteran players for too long if anything. I like the Shaq trade, and Mike Lowell can hang around forever. But I think it’s time for Jonathan Papelbon to go. It hurts just saying that.

Few Red Sox have had a more dramatic impact on Boston’s recent success. Papelbon was on the mound to end the 2007 World Series, and has 7 postseason saves while maintaining a 1.00 ERA for the Red Sox. Even with the hype that he gets, he has been underappreciated. If he records one more save this year, he’ll be the first pitcher ever to record 30+ saves in his first 5 years in the league. Here are his numbers:

2006 — .92 ERA, 35 saves

2007 — 1.85 ERA, 37 saves

2008 — 2.34 ERA, 41 saves

2009 — 1.85 ERA, 38 saves

2010 — 3.26 ERA, 29 saves (thus far)

The reason I’m saying we have to let him go is simple — he’s a closer who has started to blow more games than he should. Papelbon blew it for us in the playoffs last year, and he’s blown 6 saves already this year. Six blown saves is not a huge number by any measure, but it certainly isn’t ideal — especially as the Red Sox find themselves in a very tight wild card race.

From a pitching standpoint, this is all very frustrating as Papelbon still consistently hits 98 mph on the radar gun when he needs to. His splitter has come a long way, to the point of possibly being the best in baseball. But other than that, he doesn’t have much — and he’s leaving his fastball up. If it’s up and going that fast, it gets out of the park quickly. Lots of pitchers, especially power pitchers, struggle with this. Papelbon has been no exception. He needs to learn to keep the ball down, or he’s toast.

The worst (or best part) is this — we have another reliever in Daniel Baird who can throw 98+ mph and has a 1.89 ERA. I think Baird is our closer of the future, although he’s not half as fun as Papelbon to watch. It gets even easier to get rid of Papelbon knowing that his trade value is still extremely high — we could pick up another great arm or bat for him easily.

If I was Theo Epstein, as tough as it would be, I’d be looking to deal Papelbon this offseason if a good opportunity presents itself. As for this year, I’d keep him as the closer — you don’t want Terry Francona to lose him mentally by demoting him to middle relief. Throw Baird in to close out some games, but make it clear Papelbon is still the closer. He is sure fun as hell to watch — and one of my favorite players on the Red Sox.

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