This was supposed to be a battle between two great lefty pitchers, but Gonzo knocked Cole Hammels out of the game in the 5th with a liner up the middle that injured Cole's hand. The Sox took advantage with 2 runs in the 5th and Jason Varitek blasted a homer in the 6th and another in the 8th.
Johnathan Papelbon bailed out Bobby Jenks after he coughed up a 2-run homer to Ryan Howard and the Sox avoided a sweep.
They head to Houston to wrap up this interleague road trip having lost 7 of 12 during interleague play and 6 of their last 8 games total.
Notes: Kevin Youkilis was scratched fro today's game with a sore foot. X-Rays are negative, but the Sox were forced to call up Yamaico Navarro to help out in the infield... which forced the Sox to designate Mike Cameron for assignment. Between interleague play and injuries, Terry Francona and the Red Sox have been juggling the roster for over a week now.
Josh Reddick and Drew Sutton took advantage with 2 hits a piece... but the Sox have to be thinking the All-Star break can;t get here fast enough.
Cameron missed 99% of the 2010 season due to a lower abdominal injury. He was healthy for the start of 2011, but with Ellsbury, Crawford and Drew set to start in the outfield, Cameron asked to be a right-handed bat off the bench. In theory, he should have brought balance to the lefty-heavy outfield corps, but Mike struggled in the role and was hitting .149 with 3 homer, 9 runs and 9 RBI though 94 at-bats this morning aftert going 0-4 with 2 Ks in last night game against Philly.
At $7.75M per season, Mike Cameron was the definition of a bust for the Red Sox. He was tabbed as the starting center fielder before 2010, as part of the push for "run prevention" but Cameron never played enough to prove his defensive prowess and in the years to come fans may say that his greatest contribution to Boston was simply signing with the Sox and putting a chip on Jacoby Ellsbury's shoulder.
But just how big of a bust is Cameron? Here are a few of Theo's worst signings... you be the judge.
From 2002 to 2004, Renteria hovered around .300 in St. Louis and provided some steady production, averaging about 35 doubles, 10 homers and 80 RBI. The fans fell in love with Orlando Cabrera after he replaced Nomar in 2004, but the Sox were forced to look for other options and, on paper, Edgar was the best player available, so they signed him to a 4-year, $40M deal. As it turned out, Renteria's old Manager Tony La Russa was right, and Renteria became known as "Rent-a-wreck" in Boston. During his one season here, he looked uncomfortable at best. He did hit .276 with 8 homers, 70 RBI and 100 runs scored, but it was clear he couldn't handle the spotlight and Boston traded Renteria to Atlanta just one year after signing him, paying $8M of the $26M Renteria was owed over the next three seasons.
What makes this extra frustrating is that Cabrera hit .280 and averaged 88 R, 36 2B, 8 HR, 72 RBI and 22 SBs over the next four seasons while in LA and Chicago. If it wasn't fo that whole "hitting on underage girls" thing... we might have avoided the Renteria and Lugo (below) fiascoes altogether.
Lugo hit .295 with Tampa Bay in 2005 and hit .308 through 73 games before being shipped off to the Dodgers in 2006. Theo saw Lugo as a serviceable short stop with above average offense skills and signed him to 4-year, $36M deal in 2007. He proceeded to hit .237 in his first season, but he did drive in 73 runs and steal 33 bases from the bottom of the order, so that was could enough to help the Sox win a Championship. In 2008 he hit .268 with 1 homer through 82 games. In 2009 he hit .284 with 1 homer through 37 games, which helped the Sox trade him to St. Louis... but they Sox got stuck with the bill ($9.2M) and paid another 9.2M in 2010 - along with Marco Scutaro's 5.5M.
Oh... and don't get me started on the errors.
Between the posting fee to win his exclusive negotiations rights and the six-year contract, the Red Sox invested $103 million in Matsuzaka. In 2007, he gave us 200+ innings , 201 strikeouts and 15 wins on the way to a World Series. With a 4.04 ERA that season he appeared poised to explode in 2008 having a year of MLB ball under his belt. Well... "explode" wouldn't be the correct term for his 2008 season, but he did go 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA, despite walking a league high 94 batters. All in all, he appeared to be worth the money... Then, he pitched in the WBC, got hurt and started 12 games for the Sox in 2009. He continued to argue with the Red Sox over his training program and responded with a mediocre 2010 season: 9-6, 4.69 ERA, 133/74 K/BB rate, 25 GS. In short, Dace-K was wearing out his welcome in Boston, but he showed up to camp in 2011 looking more fit and eager to prove his worth. But all those innings and long-toss sessions caught up to him and he hit the DL after 7 starts.
Now he's set for Tommy John surgery, which means he'll finish his tim here in Boston rehabbing. $100 mil for two decent seasons... and lots of walks. Ouch.
The Sox signed Drew to a 5-year, $70M deal and immediately put a plan in place to ensure he got a regular day off. We should have seen the writing on the wall then... Drew was paid to be a .300 25 HR, 100 RBI guy, but he never than .279, 24 and 68. And right now he's hitting .232 and that "all important" OBP is sitting at .330. He doesn't get my vote for Biggest Bust, but he may have quietly been the most frustrating of all the bad signings.
Bottom Line: Compared to the guys above, Cameron (opr the lack there of) doesn't seem so bad. But with him gone, the Sox will be leaning on Josh Reddick more. I like Reddick and I think he can handle a platoon in RF with Drew... but I'd like to see the Sox get creative about the RF of the future.
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The Andrew Miller is an interesting one. Picked 6th overall back in 2006, he's struggled to find consistency throughout his career. Last December, the Red Sox decided to take a chance on the young lefty and worked out a deal with Miller. The plan was to have Miller work on his game in Pawtucket and if he pitched well, he'd earn a call up to the bigs. Knowing how unstable a 5-man rotation can be at the major league level, it seemed like a no-brainer... sooner or later the Sox would likely need a guy like Miller for some spot starts...
But Miller's contract stated that he had to be promoted by June or he'd hit the Free Agent market. With Miller pitching so well in the minors (12 GS, 2.47 ERA, 61/35 K/BB rate), the Sox didn't want to waste this potential low-risk, high-reward player, so they squeezed him into the rotation yesterday against the Padres.
Perhaps it was good timing for Clay Buccholz to have back problems. Or perhaps it was clever roster manipulation by the Red Sox. But the real challenge will come when Buchholz comes off the DL. Miller has no options and can't be sent back to Pawtucket, so when Buchholz returns, someone will be bumped out of the starting rotation.
If the Sox plan to stick with Miller, that someone will likely be Tim Wakefield.
Wake started the 2011 season in the bullpen, but was given a regular starting gig when John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka hit the DL. Since then, he's gone 4-1 in 6 starts, allowing 2 runs (1 ER) over 7 innings in his only loss during that stretch.
In short... Wake is gonna get the shaft.
There are lots of factors here: a) Wake is better equipped to go back to the pen b) Miller is only 26 and he's most valuable as a starter c) If it works out, Miller could be the #5 starter in 2012... etc., etc., etc.
But Wakefield is now just three wins away from 200 in his career. He's also 9 wins shy of tying the Red Sox record for most wins at 192. He should get at least two more starts before Buchholz returns, but it's not likely that he'll notch three wins before he's bumped... and that sucks.
Bottom Line: The above scenario puts us into early July and the Sox could choose to showcase Miller over the next few weeks and entertain trade offers. Lord knows there are plenty of teams that could use a lefty with Miller's talent... but given his recent struggles, I don't expect the Sox to get much in return. Miller's up side is probably better than any prospect they might get in a trade, so I fear that Timmy's days in the rotation are numbered...
... unless Miller implodes in his next few starts. If that happens, the Sox better do right by Wakefield and cut the kid.no comments
Before last night’s game, I watched a science show about the earth’s atmosphere. The show’s focus was how crucial it is to life on our planet and how even slight changes could wreak havoc. Other planets have atmospheres that are either too hot, too cold, or too acidic to support life. There is the giant storm on Jupiter, the intense heat on Venus, and the desolation of Mars. The earth is perfectly suited to the needs of carbon-based life forms such as ourselves.
In much the same way, you need just the right atmosphere for a no-hitter. Josh Beckett threw a one-hit complete game in Tampa last night. That is an awesome feat as it is, but it is so rare and beautiful to have a no-hitter. The one hit in last night’s game was a single to third base. If that ball had been hit just slightly differently it could have been an out and Beckett would have had the second no-hitter of 2011. Of course, any of other hits for outs could have been different and Beckett wouldn’t have an a one-hitter or even a shutout.
And that’s part of the charm of baseball. It’s strange but wonderful that in a game where time doesn’t matter, timing is everything. Think about a single at bat. If you hit two foul balls and then a strike, you are out. But if you have a strike and then two foul balls you’re in an 0-2 whole, but you’re still alive and maybe the next pitch you’ll hit out of the park. Same thing for your half of an inning. First two batters get out, the third hits a triple, and the fourth hits a pop fly. One hit, no runs for your team. But if there were less than two outs when the pop fly was hit, it is possible for the guy on third to tag up and make it home.
Life is a delicate balancing act. Hot vs. Cold. Acid vs. Base. Save vs. Out. Ball vs. Strike. At the end of the day we just hope the ball bounced in our favor.
Go Red Sox!no comments
The Red Sox have won straight games. During that run, they swept the Yankees in The Bronx, outscoring the New York 25 to 13 and tattooed the Blue Jays 35 to 6 during a 3-game sweep in Toronto.
That's 60 runs in 6 games... or 10 runs per game. It also puts them at 5.4 runs per game on the year. For comparison, the the leader in runs scored over the past few years has hovered around 900 runs. That works out to 5.5 runs per game...
We can't expect the Red Sox to average 10 runs per game all season, but after a slow start, the offense finally looks like Juggernaut we were all hoping for back in March.
The Red Sox currently lead the majors in runs scored with 350 (NYY has 330, CIN has 329). They also lead the majors in batting average at .276 (STL .274, CHC .266) and rank second in home runs with 77 (NYY is 1st with 95, MIL/ARZ are 3rd with 76).
Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia got off to slow starts, but Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz carried the offense while they worked the kinks out and Jacoby Ellsbury has looked impressive in the leadoff spot after a lost 2010 season.
The move to the American league hasn't slowed down A-Gon. He leads the AL in batting average at .341 BA and RBIs with 60. With just one homer in April, he's behind the pack in that category, but he hit 9 in May and 3 already in June, so he should be among the leaders by the All Star break. He also leads to majors in doubles with 22, thanks to the Green Monster, but that's exactly what we where hoping for - right?
With Gonzalez acting as the new Manny, David Ortiz has found his stroke again. Big Papi is hitting .325 on the year and ranks 4th in the majors with 17 ding dongs. He's
also denting the Monster again and ranks among the leaders with 18 doubles. But the most encouraging stat is the K-rate. Ortiz has only whiffed 28 times in 237 at-bats. Compare that to A-Gon's 49/267 split or Youk's 54/212 split and you can see that Ortiz is locked in right now.
Lastly, or firstly if you will, is Jacoby Ellsbury. Skeptics and doubters lurked in every corner of Beantown this offseason while Ellsbury rehabbed from a rib injury that stole his 2010 season, but Jacoby has silenced the critics. With a fresh legs and a chip on his shoulder, Ellsbury is killing the competition with power and speed. He's quietly smacked 7 homers and driven in 33 runs from the leadoff spot and his .318 BA ranks 13th in the majors. The OPS (.853) and K-rate (45/264) could be better, but he's getting it done at the top, and with an AL leading 24 steals, he's wreaking havoc on the base paths again.
Bottom Line: The Red Sox are crushing the competition right now and own the best record in the in AL at 39-26 (.600). It looked ugly at the start, but if the season ended today, The Sox and Phillies would be the two best teams in the league... with the Sox winning on offense and the Phillies winning with pitching.
Could be a fun World Series...
Now we swing the other way. After that God awful start to the season, the Red Sox are now on a roll. Our boys swept the Yankees in New York – twice – and are now enjoying a roll over the Blue Jays. The Jays series is almost a better ‘get’ with the issues that the Sox have had against the Canadians lately. The team is firing on all cylinders right now, the cylinders that we were all looking for when this season started. Starting pitching has been stellar, hitting
is clutch, Adrian Gonzalez is better than advertised if that’s at all possible and Carl Crawford is starting to hit - well, at least showing some power. Jacoby Ellsbury hitting over .300 and getting on base regularly leading off is exactly what the doctor ordered at the top of the lineup.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s early. There is so much season left to play it is dangerous to go ahead and say that we’re set for the season. The signs are good, though. While it’s too bad that Dice K may be on the shelf for an extended portion of the season (or maybe not…I go back and forth whether it’s bad or good for th season – kind of like his starts), John Lackey has been steady in his two starts since his stint on the Disabled List. With Beckett, Buchholz, Lester and Lackey firing on all cylinders and Wake and Aceves solid in their spot start outings and the offense pounding the baseball it’s hard not to feel good about the summer.
I think middle relief is a bit of a concern, but with quality start after quality start being registered by the starters, it’s not like it’s has become the glaring need as it has in New York. With the Yankees starting pitching falling apart and middle relief faring not much better, you can be sure that top dollar (plus) is going to be paid for whatever is available come the trade deadline. It certainly would be nice for the payroll if they didn’t need to ‘go there’.
The Sox dodged a bullet with Pedroia’s knee being ‘only’ a bone bruise, but it was scary for a while with the words ‘knee surgery’ being
bandied about. Ultimately it could be dodging the injury bullet that could be the key to the season because we’re starting to see what it’s like when the team is healthy and in stride.
The MLB draft is like buying a packet of seeds at the nursery.
The outside of the packet tells all the great things about this particular species. But just because you plant the seeds does not mean you will automatically get the lush, beautiful plant in the picture. You must plant the seed at the right depth. You must feed and water it correctly. It must get the right amount of sunlight. And even then, even if you do everything in your power to raise your plant right, you might not get what you were expecting. Your seed could be bad and not grow at all. It could be diseased and only grow a little. It could have been mislabeled and turn out to be something else all together.
And so it goes when drafting a baseball player. He has a great track record in high school and college. He has the physical qualities you want. He has shown potential. But will he turn out to be all that you hope? Will he grow to be the player you believe he can be? You can’t know for sure, but you can wait and watch and hope.
The Red Sox selected Matt Barnes with their 19th pick in the first round. Will the fast-throwing right hander from UConn turn out to be a great pitcher? Only time will tell. But Theo Epstein and Red Sox organization’s track record is such that we can be cautiously optimistic about the choice.
Go Red Sox!no comments
For a little perspective, the Sox were 33-15 and 11 games up on the 2nd place Blue Jays at this time back in 2007 - the last time the won a World Series. And last season, they were 27-21 at this time and 5.5 games behind the 1st place Rays.
Bottom Line: Before this season started, the Red Sox were the favorite to win the AL and many predicted a World Series Championship. With just over a quarter-season in the books, the Sox still are starting to look like the team we expected, but they're lucky that no one ran ahead of them while they struggled through April.
But "that's why you play the games," right? So with that in mind, here's a quick look at how one month changed everything for the Red Sox:
Adrian Gonzalez finished April hitting .314, but had just 1 homer and 15 RBI in 105 ABs. He owned the 2nd best BA on the team behind Jed Lowrie (.368, 68 AB) and the drop off was huge after that: JD Drew was 3rd at .269, David Ortiz was 4th at .267, Kevin Youkilis was hitting .218 and Carl Crawford was hitting .155.
Gonzo is leading the team in May as well with a .367 BA, but he exploded for 8 ding dongs, 6 doubles and 28 RBI. Jose Bautista is light years of the pack in homers with 19, but Gonzo leads the majors with 43 RBI and if 5th in BA at .340. He's also logged 50 more at ABs than the BA leaders ahead of him, which makes him the most likely Triple Crown Threat in the bunch, in my not so humble opinion.
Carl Crawford is the other big story. Things looked very bad for C.C. in April, but he's hitting .308 in May with 2 HR, 5 2B, 3B, 10 RBI and 16 runs scored. It will take a miracle for Carl to finish 2011 at .300, but if he hits around .300 the rest of the way, he'll finish at a respectable .285.
Other notable achievements include David Ortiz' .337 BA and 8 HRs in May. Those numbers make him the team leader in HRs (10) and the 3rd most productive hitter in the lineup behind behind Gonzo and Kevin Youkilis. Youk's still striking out too much (17 in May), but he's hit .333 with 3 HR, 7 2B, 3B and 17 RBI in 75 ABs this month, getting hom back to .275 on the year with 8 dingers and 32 RBI. Overall the Sox have six batters hitting over .300 this month and that doesn't include Marco Scutaro (.400, 15 AB) or Drew Sutton (.333, 9 AB).
Oh... and Salty has 4 homers and a .265 BA.
As for the pitching, April wasn't quite as bad for the pitchers as it was for the offense, but with starters logging 10+ starts, it's safe to start looking at the stats.
Josh Beckett has been great. He's not as overpowering as he was back in 2007 and he's been robbed of a few wins along the way, but he leads the the AL with a 1.69 ERA and is 3rd in the majors with one more start than Josh Johnson (1.64) and 2 more than Jair Jurrjens (1.56). He's not going the post 200 Ks this season, but if he keeps this up, he won't need to. Jon Lester on the other hand... has 70 Ks on the year and a 7-1 record in 11 starts. Six shoutout innings yesterday gave him a 3.36 ERA on the season and he looks poised to make another run at the Cy Young Award... although Felix Hernandez will be hanging around with equal ERA and K numbers and a .500 record... again.
Clay Buchholz might be the pitching story of May. After a 1-3, 5.33 April, Buchhy is 3-0 with a 1.79 ERA in five May starts. He's limiting the walks and inducing groundballs again... and 26 Ks in 33 innings ain't bad either.
We lost twos starters in May, but Tim Wakefield looked good filling in. John Lackey is on the mend and that means Alfredo Aceves will go back to the bullpen - where he belongs IMO. That should help stabilize a bullpen that has become the Achilles heel of this team. Papelbon is earning his saves, but he remains a bit of a roller coaster ride. Daniel Bard has been tough to watch lately. And Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Franklin Morales and Rich Hill currently round out the bullpen.
I can live with that for now, but it scares me to think that we may have to lean on those guys for some big wins in September...
Bottom Line: May has been good to us. We're back in the mix and the weather's getting nice. Time to put the petal to the metal boys.
Greg Hardy writes a weekly column for ESPN Page 2 called “Power Rankings” in which he “calculates” trending topics in sports. He claims to use a human poll and a computer one, but it’s all just for fun.
Here is my Red Sox version of his “Power Rankings.” As last week, I’m neither endorsing nor condemning these trends.
Appreciating Salty UP
Hitting home runs will always go a long way towards getting into the hearts of a previously unloving fan base. (Chicks dig the long ball, after all). Some fans were supportive of Salty from the beginning, but others had a hard time looking past his many non-Victor-Martinez-like qualities.
Justin Masterson’s face DOWN
The beard that Justin’s been sporting is less than popular with Twitter users. Almost everyone agrees that he’s a great guy and good pitcher, but the consensus is that he needs a shave.
Masty may always be the one that got away. The 26-year old right hander has been strong this season (5-2, 2.50 ERA) and with a serious injury to Matsusaka, the loss of Masterson has been felt more keenly.
The health of Francona’s knee DOWN
Nick Cafardo tweeted on Monday that Francona’s knee was swollen and needed to be drained three times. Let’s all hope the skipper didn’t do any further damage while trying to kick Bard’s butt for blowing the save Monday night.
The Red Sox UP
They are the only AL team to be 8-2 in the last 10 games. Sitting in second place and only half a game out of first in the AL East is a great accomplishment. Obviously the season is a long one, but how much better do things look from our position now than a month ago? It’s like night and day. Let’s hope this upward trend continues!no comments