Tagged: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Hot Stove Predictions – Red Sox
Posted by Chris Cue
8:00 am Sat, 11/21/09
Hello again! Having recently crawled out from underneath the rock I’ve been hiding, I thought it might be a good time to start talking Hot Stove Baseball. Now that all the free agents are allowed to discuss their future with teams other than the one they played for last season, getting some predictions in now before things start to happen seems like a good way to make a fool of yourself….sooo, being the glutton for punishment that I am, here you go.
Let’s start off with the Red Sox. I’ll be happy to tick off some of my evil empire friends later with some Yankees predictions, but for now I’ll tackle the hometown team.
I should mention that I’ll be impressed with myself (from a prediction standpoint) if
even one of these predictions comes to pass….(I don’t have a great track record in this dept. 🙂 With
that in mind, here’s what I think has a good chance of going down.
I think the ground work to resign Bay is already in place. The caveat
to the current situation is nobody is yet sure what else may be out
there for him. As long as years or dollars don’t get too stupid (the
Sox won’t go 5/85), I think he’ll be back in Boston. I have no
predictions regarding what may go down if that doesn’t happen except to
say I don’t think the Sox will be players to sign Holliday. He has the wrong agent, there is too much
money required, too many years and too many questions about what he may or may
not bring that will keep the Sox out of that race IMO.
2). Even if the
Sox do land Bay, I believe the FO thinks we still need another bat
(thus their pursuit of Tex last year). Therefore, I’m pretty sure that
they will go hard after Gonzalez if Hoyer indeed makes him available.
However, I DON’T think that they will be successful there. I think
there are too many obstacles in the way for that deal to go down. (I could
give a lengthy list but won’t unless asked) Because there appears to be a lack of
premium players with bats on the trade/FA market coupled with the fact
that the Sox currently have limited spots to put a player like that in,
I think the Sox will turn to another area that could be addressed to
strengthen the team and that’s Pitching.
3). While the Sox
starting rotation appears to be set, we have several issues going
forward that could be addressed now if they choose to do so. Becketts a
FA next year, There are uncertainties with Dice-K and Wakefield’s health
issues are all questions the Sox have to think about now and with an eye on
the future as well. No matter what, the Sox will be signing one or two
insurance pitchers that they hope will have bounce back years (Sheets,
Harden, etc…types), but I’ll go on record now saying that after their
interest in Gonzalez is shot down, they will go just as hard after Doc
Halladay. Lot’s of moving pieces to that kind of deal too, but in this
case I think the Sox may have a better shot at landing him as opposed
to landing Gonzalez. It may never happen, but I really think the
interest is there and that the Sox will be motivated. The big obstacle
with that one? LOL take a guess……The New York Yankees. I don’t think Cashman
will just roll over and let the Sox get Doc without making them pay big
time. In fact, I think the Yanks may have an even better chance to land
Doc if they should decide to go that route themselves. This could very well be the
big Sox-Yanks battle of the off season…..it at least appears to have
all of that kind of framework in place. We’ll have to see.
Once again (i’m sorry to say), I don’t see the Sox going long term to
fill the SS position. I think there may have been some interest in JJ
Hardy, but since he is now signed I think we’re looking at another stop
gap player. I’d like to think that Gonzo would be back, but from what
Ive read a sticking point may be that he’d like more than just a one year deal. I also think the Sox
would consider Marco Scutaro, but not for the length of time he’s
looking for either. There could be a trade out there that Theo is
looking at, but short of that I think Gonzo will be a Sox player in
2010. I say that only because the SS market doesn’t look like it’s
going to give him a 2 or 3 year contract so he may very well settle for
a 4MM one year deal in Boston….which is something I think they’d
5). Billy Wagner. I don’t think he’ll be back in a setup role.
I believe all the “I may accept arbitration” talk was only a rouse that
attempted to make the Sox gun shy in offing him that. Can’t say as I
blame Wagner or his agent for floating that one. Wagner is a lot more attractive to other teams if draft picks aren’t
involved, but I think the Sox will stick to their guns and offer him
Arb. At that point, he’ll turn it down and wind up closing for someone
at less than he would have made via arbitration…..It’ll be “Varitek
Part 2” if you know what I mean. I think the Sox will be content having
Bard and Oki for setup to Paps. The middle relief guys is where the
action might be. Tough to call who and what goes on there because some
of what we currently have may end up being trading pieces (DelCarmen
& maybe Ramirez). I’m fairly comfortable saying the back end of the
Sox BP will be Oki, Bard, Papelbon. Absent a trade, DelCarmen &
Ramirez will most likely be back so it’s guys like Wagner and Saito
that will be the possible holes to fill. That’s going to be a challenge
if our BP is once again going to be considered a strength. The glaring
hole I see is absent Masterson, the Sox don’t have a long man. We’re
going to need one.
I have more, but this is already enough hot air. For discussion purposes only, I’ll put my 2 cents in regarding The Yankees later. For now, let the criticisms begin 🙂
Cheers & Go Baseball!
Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lowrie….Yikes!!
By Chris Cue
April 16, 2009
Are you a “Give me the bad news first” kind of person? If you are, then what has transpired over the last several days should fall right into line with how you like to deal with things. You’re probably happy that if there is going to be bad news, that you get it out of the way now instead of August or September. You’re also probably right about that. Any team that is going to have to deal with issues regarding players is better off knowing what the problems are early instead of late. In the Red Sox case, the problems may not be long term, but better to deal with adversity now then when it really counts.
Let’s start with Josh Beckett and his 6 game suspension. A case can be made either way on if it was deserved or not, but how the Red Sox played this one is key. The team could have opted to have Beckett begin his suspension immediately and that would have allowed the remainder of the starters to stay on regular rest. Thus, Beckett’s absence wouldn’t really have effected the teams rotation in terms of needing a spot starter or someone pitching on short rest. However, instead of doing that, the Red Sox opted to appeal the suspension. Understand, very few disciplinary judgments are ever reversed on appeal, so not taking advantage of the timing was a bit peculiar on the Red Sox part for the onlookers of this situation. Once again, what appeared to be an odd decision by the Red Sox front office to us, turned out to be a smart decision based on knowledge they had that most others didn’t. If the Red Sox had allowed Beckett to use the timely suspension, where would the team be now considering Matsuzaka’s condition? It’s seems pretty clear that the Red Sox thought something might be up with Dice-K, so delaying Beckett’s suspension by appealing it was the smart move.
It seems that everyone and their Grandmother wants to blame the WBC for Matsuzaka’s “Dead Arm” problem. A word to the wise here: Pitchers get dead arm problems whether the WBC is being played or not. It happens. That’s not to say that the WBC wasn’t a contributing factor, it more then likely was. However, going back to the “Do you want the bad news now or later?” mentality, isn’t it better to have this happen now rather then later in the season when he is really being depended on? Make no mistake about it, this dead arm issue would have reared it’s ugly head not matter what sometime this season. Matsuzaka’s workload last season and his early throwing routine this year simply made the issue appear sooner rather then later. As crazy as it may sound, be thankful it happened now and not in August. Only being 3.5 games back in April is a lot easier to overcome then being 3.5 games back in August or September. There’s plenty of time and the Red Sox have plenty of options. This isn’t a make it or break it time of year, so knock on wood that once Dice-K is back, he’ll fresh for the remainder of the season. He just needs to give his arm time to recuperate and then he should be fine….at least that’s the teams hope.
Jed Lowrie was the source of more bad news for the Red Sox this week. Lowrie who looked so good in Spring Training was clearly struggling at the plate during the first part of this season. We now know why. Lowrie was attempting to play through soreness in the same wrist that had given him problems last season. Lowrie showed up Monday and informed Terry Francona of the problem he was having. Tito said: “The more we started talking to him and pushing a little bit, (we) realized we needed to get this thing checked out.“. The team sent Lowrie back to Boston and after visits to several doctors, the decision was finally made to treat the injury with a few well placed shots and a couple of weeks of rest. The Red Sox feel confident that after this rehab period is over, Lowrie should be very close to good as new. Nick Green will fill in for Lowrie until that period of time is over. Green, who is an excellent defender should limit the impact of this injury for the short term. Remember too that Julio Lugo isn’t far from returning either. Once he is up and running the Red Sox should then be stocked and ready to go…..hopefully getting the injury bug out of the way sooner rather than later.
Keep your fingers crossed that indeed is the case. All things being equal, health is sure to be the major factor when it comes to who is and who is not playing into late October.
By Chris Cue
April 13, 2009
Judging by comments made on articles and chat sites I’ve
read, it appears there is a vocal minority out there that don’t check their
calendars very often. I’m not talking about just Red Sox fans either. Six games
into the season, the panic members of several teams fan bases have begun their
“Sky is Falling” predictions.
We’ve had these “It’s Early” conversations before haven’t
we? We are 6 games into the season. Let me repeat that. WE ARE 6 GAMES INTO THE
SEASON. Having major concerns at this point is jumping the gun a bit don’t ya
think? It shouldn’t surprise anyone that some players have started the season
Hot or Cold. It happens every year. I’m sure fans all over would like to see
their teams “plans” come together and be firing on all cylinders from
day one, but that rarely (if ever) happens.
So, yes I’m sure Red Sox fans would feel really great right now if Papi was
hitting long ball after long ball, if Ellsbury had an OBP near .500, If Dice,
Lester and Wake had shut out the teams they faced, if Jed Lowrie was 12 for 24
at the plate, if Mike Lowell suddenly found some blazing speed and if the Sox
were 6-0…..but that kind of stuff doesn’t happen right away with some players
or teams. In some cases, it never will all year, but you have to find out what
you have don’t you? You have to stay the course and allow some of these guys to
play up to their norm or potential.
Every team has a game plan going into the season, however that exact plan is
rarely still being executed once July rolls around. Teams and players are
streaky. A few get hot and stay that way and some only show flashes of what
they should be. But 6 games into the season…on April 13th….. is not when
Management or coaches should step back and analyze results to either make
changes or not. Can you imagine what the Red Sox lineup would be tomorrow if
they did that? With his current OBP Bay would be our lead off hitter, Youkilis
would be the DH, JD Drew would be batting 8th or 9th and Nick Green would be the everyday SS.
I’m not saying that team management should wait 3 months before deciding what
is going to work and what’s not, but after 6 games? It might be different if we
were talking about elite players that are injured and out for the season, but
that’s not the case here. I mean c’mon, it really is a little early to be
overly concerned about much isn’t it? What do you say some of you sit back and
see how things begin to progress to the norm before you start calling for key
players to be benched or replaced? This isn’t your first Major League season is
it? Or is it?
By Chris Cue
April 9, 2009
What’s to say? A friend of mine described the Rays as “Pesky”. I have another word that comes to mind, but it probably isn’t something I should write here. All I know is we have some serious payback to deliver to that team and I was hoping we would get a good start along those lines with this seasons opening series. Not to be. While Beckett looked awesome, Lester struggled from the 2nd inning on and Matsuzaka continued to be….well, Matsuzaka.
I’m seriously getting one of those feelings. I’ve never had any bad feelings towards the Rays since they became part of the AL East, but they are getting under my skin. They haven’t reached the “Pinstriped” level yet, but they have a good foothold on that kind of future.
Congrats to them and their fans. They have been at the bottom so long that they are due some good fortune. I just wish it wasn’t at our expense. I’d much rather see them keep that “other” team down. Hey, it’s a long season and that may well come, but I have another idea when it comes to the future of that team.
Enjoy it while you can Rays fans.
This season is far from over!
By Chris Cue
March 26, 2009
Let’s pretend for a second. Let’s take some of what we know as “given” and apply that to a situation most would love to have. That said, the following could be a problem. Granted, it’s a good problem, but a problem never the less.
We know the Red Sox goal for John Smoltz is to be ready to pitch by June 1st. We also know that Brad Penny is slated to be the Red Sox #5 starter. At the beginning of the Red Sox season, this is what’s expected to be the starting rotation:
Brad Penny (although Masterson may have to make a start or two until the Sox feel Penny is ready)
We also know that Clay Buchholz has been very impressive this Spring and Masterson is making a serious bid to be a starting pitcher as well. So, add to the above list Buchholz, Smoltz & Masterson as potential starting pitchers when June 1st rolls around. That’s 8 options the Red Sox have at starting pitching, 6 of which can not be sent down to the minor leagues to make room for the players with major league contracts. All 5 and John Smoltz are signed to Major League contracts.
Here’s the scenario: It’s now June 1st. Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Wakefield & Penny are all holding their own. They are all healthy and are productive. Where do you put John Smoltz? Do you DFA Penny or Wakefield? Do you opt for a 6 man rotation? Do you make creative use of the DL to give the other guys a break, or does one of the 6 go to the bullpen? This is a great problem to have no doubt, but would be a very hard decision to make. The issue given this scenario is that the Red Sox hold no options with 6 of their potential starting pitchers. They can’t demote someone to AAA Pawtucket. Somebody is going to have to go to the bullpen, get released or they will have to go to a 6 man rotation. Let me stop right here and say that I think a creative use of the DL is probably the first option the club has, but it only prolongs the problem. Using the DL would allow time for somebody to develop the injuries we have to expect, but timing on this is the issue. You can’t automatically tell someone to get hurt before June 1st and neither do you want to. At the same time, you expect injuries, but expecting them to happen at or by a certain time is incredibly optimistic to ensure your game plan works out.
This scenario is the “Best case” situation. It may never be a problem or ever become an issue, but I wonder what the Red Sox front office has planned…..just in case they get lucky and this plays out to reality. If and that’s a big IF, everyone remains healthy and productive, this is a situation that would be very interesting to watch.
Wakefield Has Issues
By Chris Cue
March 8, 2009
Back in December it was speculated here that Tim Wakefield may not be coming back to the Red Sox rotation this season. The link to that article is HERE. At the time, it was believed he might be considering retirement do to some sort of injury to his pitching shoulder. While it’s obvious that Wakefield will pitch for the Red Sox again this year, those concerns about his shoulder turn out to be well founded and explain a lot.
It was revealed in a Boston Globe article by Adam Kilgore yesterday that Wakefield has pitched the last 2 seasons with a small tear in the labrum of his right shoulder. Knuckleball pitchers like Wake are certainly a different breed, which may be why he has been able to continue the way he has. Still, it was explained that the problem with his shoulder is what has caused him to wear down late in the year.
Wakefield said: “It doesn’t really bother me until the innings count gets high, in the 160- to 180-inning range.” Using the lower end of that innings count (160), that means he feels he can be fine for a little more then 22 starts if he pitches an average of 7 innings per start. After that, he’ll begin to run into a fatigue problem. The same problem he’s had for the last 2 years. Clearly, the additions to the Red Sox starting rotation of Brad Penny and John Smoltz should give Terry Francona ample opportunities to rest Wakefield during the course of the season. Clay Buchholz is also in reserve if either Penny or Smoltz stumble, so it’s quite possible that Wakefield, while limited to a certain amount of innings, could still be very effective this season. It’s going to be up to the health of the other starting pitchers and Francona to insure that Wakefield is given the time off needed if the Red Sox hope to have him available for late September and the post-season.
It’s pretty obvious that this isn’t “new” news to the Red Sox front office. It explains why the Sox are currently so deep with starting pitching options. Right now, if you count Justin Masterson as a possible starter, the Red Sox have 8 potential starting pitchers. They are: Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Penny, Wakefield, Smoltz, Buchholz and Masterson with the possibility of a 9th starter in Michael Bowden if necessary. That kind of depth didn’t just happen. Theo Epstein has obviously made provisions for a starter needing rest or being injured. Now, perhaps we know at least one reason why the depth of the starting rotation was so important this off season.
Tito Talks Shop Heading Into Spring Training
By Chris Cue
February 4, 2009
Terry Francona sat down for a little question and answer session with MLB.com’s Ian Browne recently. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read it, you’ll find the complete interview HERE.
There are a few answers that Tito gave that I’d like to put my 2 cents in on. The first is his response to the Short Stop position heading into Spring Training.
Francona: Well, I would say right now it’s pretty wide open. I’ve never really been in that situation here. It’s kind of a unique situation. You’ve got a guy who you give a four-year deal to for a lot of money and he gets hurt. A guy comes in and plays really well for a while and then he kind of tails off — but again, he handled himself really well and I think his future is really bright. He was also injured, to boot. Saying that, I don’t know if I believe in competing in Spring Training. What we’ll do is we’ll sit down with both of them the first day, we’ll explain to them how we feel. And we’ll try to put the best team out on the field. I’m also a firm believer that things take care of themselves. We’re not going to look at their batting average every day and things like that. We’re just going to try to put our ballclub in the best position to win. However that ends up, it will be my responsibility.
My take: I think I would rather have heard him say something along the lines of “It’s Lowrie’s position to lose”, but knowing Tito, he gave the politically correct answer as usual. I’m fairly sure that the job is indeed Jed’s to lose, however Tito wouldn’t have said “It’s wide open” if Lugo didn’t have a shot at winning his spot back. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out. Either way, you can expect Lugo to get a fair amount of playing time. $9 million sitting on the bench isn’t easy to trade away. He’ll have to see action if the club intends to explore trade opportunities for Julio’s services.
Tito also had this to say regarding Jason Varitek’s possible reduced role in 2009:
Francona: I’ve heard all the talk but I’ve never had anyone ask me before. I think it’s unfair to say that before the season starts. Knowing Tek, he works so hard. Just for me to come right out before the season starts and say, yeah, we’re going to do this or do that … you know what? That’s not the case. The season will take care of itself.
If Tek needs rest, that’s my responsibility, to know that he needs rest. But again, that’s like saying you’re going to pinch-hit for a guy in February. I really don’t want to. That’s like saying a guy is going to have a tough year before the year starts. We’re talking about the captain of our team, and he means a lot. I just have to be a believer in him so we’ll let it play itself out. If he needs rest, we’ll give it to him. And again, you have to realize, he will be 37 years old. I understand that. I don’t want to run him into the ground because I’ve probably done that before because we rely on him so much. We’ll try to use good judgment.
My take: Again, I think we’re seeing the politically correct answers from Tito regarding Varitek. Reading between the lines here is what I think is important. Tito wouldn’t have brought up his age, pinch hitting for him or the fact that they have used him too much in the past if it wasn’t a concern. What is clear is that Tito is willing to let the season and Jason’s play dictate what he will and won’t do. If Varitek is batting .280 into July, I’m pretty sure Tito isn’t going to be thinking about pinch hitting for him. The converse of that is if he’s batting .220 at that time. If that’s the case, then I think the Captain will need to sit down during the late innngs of close games.
The entire Q&A is worth reading and I would encourage you to do so. Tito also covers other topic’s and players such as: John Smoltz, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell’s health concerns, Jacoby Ellsbury’s need for consistency, Clay Buccholz and Michael Bowden’s possible 2009 contributions, Daisuke’s involvement in the WBC, the addition of Rocco Baldelli to the club and he discusses his own health situation as well.
Just as a side note: Truck Day is this Friday and Jon Lester is already in Ft. Myers!
The World Baseball Classic
By Chris Cue
February 2, 2009
The World Baseball Classic (WBC) officially gets underway on March 5, when China takes on Japan in the Tokyo Dome. The final event will take place on March 23rd in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. (A complete schedule is available HERE courtesy of worldbaseballclassic.com.) That time frame doesn’t sound like too much of a commitment does it? After all, it’s only an 18 day tournament right?
Well, not exactly. What gets left out of that equation is the fact that all the players who normally would be training with their own teams, will now be training with their respective countries teams instead. The starting dates for those practices vary by team, with the U.S. team scheduled to start their training March 2 in Clearwater, Fl., at the Spring Training home of the Phillies.
Not all of the teams involved in the classic operate the same way and the concerns that arise are with the differences in preparation styles each team may have. Japan for instance, normally trains their pitchers with long Bullpen sessions. That’s not typically done in the U.S. and will (if followed) possibly affect one Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox are sending 2 staff members along with Daisuke to Japan and they have been instructed to suggest what type of training program is best for him. They cannot however, dictate their policy to the Japan teams coaching staff. They can only let their desires be known and hope the Japan team co-operates. Risky business for an investment such as what the Red Sox have in Matsuzaka. Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald compares this situation to a museum lending one of it’s masterpiece portraits to another museum for a period of 2 months. That’s not too far off the mark. If pressed, the Red Sox organization would have to admit that they are not too pleased with the idea of one of their top 3 pitchers training with and playing for another team. This is training and increased playing time which could ultimately harm his durability and performance in the upcoming Major League season.
Position players participating in the WBC event are not that much of a concern to most organizations. Their training and conditioning won’t be that much different then what they would normally be doing here in the US with their professional teams. The chance for injury with position players is much smaller as well, so the risks are not as great. When it comes to the Pitchers involvement, red flags should begin to go up. Pitchers are notoriously creatures of habit. They have set schedules, set training exercises and gradual increases to their pitch counts to prepare them for opening day. Pitchers involved in the WBC are going to need to be brought along much faster then they normally would. They have to be ready to take the mound and throw a possible 70 pitches in their first game. Silverman notes that the Red Sox goal for game 5 of Spring Training is 75 pitches maximum. The WBC pitchers will have increases to their workloads after each round of competition. 70 pitches for round 1, 85 for round 2 and up to 100 pitches per game for the semi-finals and final round.
Let’s forget about the fact that the pitchers involved in the WBC won’t be getting ready with thier professional clubs catchers. Let’s ignore the fact that their typical preparation schedule may be altered. Furthermore, let’s not factor in what the extra workload could do to these pitchers durability in August and September. Let’s only consider one thing. The Red Sox have an investment of $51 million in posting fees and $8 million more on the line for the 2009 season with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Imagine for a second that you are an owner, manager or coach within the Red Sox organization, do you want him pitching for Japan?
Smoltz To Start for Red Sox
By Chris Cue
January 12, 2009
A formal announcement of John Smoltz (stats) being added to the Red Sox is expected today. A press conference has been called at 10am this morning where it is expected Theo Epstein will officially welcome him to the club. Smoltz was in attendance last evening at a Celtic’s – Raptors game and was interviewed during a break in the action SI.com reports (Link HERE).
“It’s going to be (as) a starter,” he said when asked how the Red Sox
would use him. “They’re going to make sure that I’m ready to not only
pitch, but pitch strong down the stretch and into the playoffs because
that’s what I like to do”.
It is expected that Smoltz will be ready to see action sometime in early June. Barring any injuries, that’s going to give the Red Sox a tough decision to make. With a current rotation of Josh Beckett (stats), Daisuke Matsuzaka (stats), Jon Lester (stats), Tim Wakefield (stats) and Brad Penny (stats), someone is going to find himself to be the odd man out when Smoltz arrives. There are several scenario’s that could keep all six starters in the rotation for a period of time, but that would mean the bullpen would have to operate one man short for a while. I would expect that when Smoltz does arrive, Terry Francona would initially work in some rest days for Beckett, Matsuzaka and Lester using either Penny, Smoltz or Wakefield to spot start in their place. That however, can’t go on indefinitely. Eventually, someone is going to have to assume a bullpen role in order to remain on the roster.
If by the time Smoltz is ready to go the Red Sox have no injuries that would result in a DL stint for a player, then they will be faced with a tough decision. Granted, it’s a nice position to be in. Having 6 effective starters is never a bad thing. Deciding who will be the bullpen pitcher is the only thing that makes that situation difficult. I’m sure the Red Sox are hoping to find themselves in exactly that spot when Smoltz arrives. That would mean things are going well and that they are very deep with starting pitcher options. That’s a problem most teams would love to have.