By Chris Cue
March 30, 2009
Prior to yesterday’s game between the Red Sox and the Phillies, it was announced that Brad Wilkerson had left the Red Sox Spring Training camp. Wilkerson, who had an April 1st opt out clause in his minor league contract, apparently exercised that option a few days early. It was pretty clear that while he has a good glove to back up Youkilis at 1B and Drew in RF, he was not getting it done at the plate.
During this Spring, Wilkerson had almost 4 times the amount of strikeouts as he did hits and was struggling with a .119 batting average. The handwriting was on the wall. Wilkerson was not going to make the Major League roster and so he opted out of his deal to pursue his options elsewhere.
This decision in no way cripples the Red Sox bench for the coming season. Both Jeff Bailey and Chris Carter are fine options to take the backup outfielders role until Mark Kotsay returns from his back surgery. Carter, now with a batting average of .359 along with Bailey currently hitting .356 are now the leading candidates for the role. Chris Carter is currently on the 40 man roster and the Red Sox have room to add Bailey as well. Of the two, Bailey is probably the better fielder, but neither stands head and shoulders above the other. Terry Francona could literally flip a coin and make this decision.
In other Spring Training news, the Red Sox announced that Justin Masterson will be assigned a bullpen role for the upcoming season. That decision has opened up the questioning of who will begin the year as the Red Sox 5th starting pitcher. Masterson had been stellar throughout the Spring raising the talk of him possibly filling that role in case Brad Penny isn’t ready in time. Now that Justin has been relegated to the bullpen, it would appear that Clay Buchholz may now be the leading candidate. That depends of course, on whether or not the Red Sox feel Penny is ready to go by April 12th which is the first date the Sox will need a 5th starter.
In an interview with Terry Francona, Boston Globe reporter Adam Kilgore asked Tito about Penny’s readiness to start on the scheduled date. Francona’s answer would lead anyone who has followed this team to believe the club may be looking to give Penny more time. “You don’t want to rush into something because there is an arbirtrary date.” Francona said, “We need a pitcher, but we don’t want to make a mistake either.” Knowing how this team operates, one could assume that they are once again planning on playing it safe and giving Penny a week or two more to be brought up to speed. That would obviously put Clay Buchholz as the Red Sox 5th starter to begin the season. Buchholz, who still has minor league options left, could then easily be sent down once the team feels Penny is ready to go. No official announcement has been made yet, but from the rumblings that have been heard, it’s a safe bet that the Red Sox will announce Buchholz’s role very soon.
By Chris Cue
March 10, 2009
Just a few rambling thoughts this morning…
- A-Rod had surgery on his hip yesterday. Does anyone else think they missed the real problem by the distance of a torso and a neck?
- NESN isn’t televising another Red Sox Spring training game until March 17th. Just in time for us to watch the guys play in those funky green uniforms. Yee Haw! Even I think they look horrible….and I’m Irish.
- The WBC is being televised. Sure it’s baseball, but a “Mercy Rule”? Really? It’s kind of hard to take that seriously don’t ya think?
- With all the news of aches and pains coming out of the Red Sox and Yankees camps, would it surprise you to see Hawkeye, Trapper, Col. Henry Blake and Klinger show up to save the day?
- The Red Sox beat the Pirates yesterday with only 2 regulars playing in the game. Jon Lester and Jed Lowrie. It’s on the fence regarding if that’s impressive or not…..afterall, it was the Pirates…
- Joe Girardi seems to be loosening up on the Yankees this year. He took them to play pool with one another instead of practicing for a day. Who knows, maybe he’ll allow candy and ice cream in the clubhouse this season too.
- Anyone else been impressed with Jeff Bailey this Spring? Brad Wilkerson may be getting a run for his money for that final bench spot.
- Here’s a little piece of trivia for the younger generation…..Did you know that Team Canada’s coach was a former Red Sox guy? It’s true. Ernie Whitt was a catching prospect for the Sox and back in 1976 he played in 8 big league games backing up Carlton Fisk at the catchers spot. He hit his first homerun in a Sox uniform, then he was later sent off to Toronto in the expansion draft. Today, he’s considered one of the best catchers the Blue Jays ever had.
- I’m guessing the Terry Francona bashers are now happy to see him wearing eye glasses in the dug out. Make of that what you will…
- Finally, Jerry Remy has been noticably missed during the Spring Training broadcasts. Hopfully he’s on the mend from that bug he caught. Best wishes and a speedy return Rem-Dog~
By Chris Cue
February 26, 2009
The first of the Spring Training games got underway yesterday in Lee County Florida. The Red Sox in game one against Boston College wasn’t televised, but the night game vs the Twins was on both NESN and the MLB Network. For what it’s worth, although thankful that some portion of the BC game was able to be followed through Adam Kilgore’s posts on Boston.com, it left a lot to be desired. No offense intended to Kilgore, but that was not the up to the level of MLB’s Gameday version of following a game. What was particularly annoying about it was weeding through all the posts Kilgore put up by fans ALREADY complaining about certain players efforts during that game.
For crying out loud people, it’s the first game of Spring Training.
What did they expect? July form from a team in February? Some members of the Red Sox fan base truly make you want to shake your head in amazement that they can call themselves fans of the game. Otherwise, Kilgore’s posts were better then getting no information regarding what was taking place on the field, so thank-you BDC for that much. In case you missed it and are curious to read first hand how the players in that game performed, you can read the entire BC – Red Sox blog session from Kilgore HERE.
The Second game, which was telecast vs the Twins was pretty much what you might have expected with a few notable (but not major) occurrences. Every player was showing a certain amount of rust…that was expected. The pitchers seemed to fair better then the batters for the most part….that also was expected. If anything, it showed that some guys looked to be a little further along then others, but again, it was one game. That’s an extremely small sample to make any worthwhile judgments on. Still, you may have noticed that Wakefield suffered from a certain amount of rust himself and that the guys behind him didn’t help out his cause in the game by showing similar rust issues in the field. Overall, the teams pitching looked good. Masterson, DelCarmen, Rameriz, Lopez all looked relatively sharp. Traber has some work to do as he was tagged pretty well by the Twins.
Jeff Bailey continues to swing a pretty nice bat. When it comes to who will fill in for Kotsay opening day, Bailey may give Wilkerson a run for his money for that spot. You may have also noticed that Bard suffered a few passed balls (without runners on) and that he failed to catch a number of Wakefield’s pitches cleanly. It’s not worth getting concerned about yet. Certainly he and Wakefield will have much more time available in the coming days to get their work in with each other.
It was the first day of the Grapefruit League. Let’s not rush to judgment just yet on anyone. Try to be thankful that Baseball can once again be viewed on TV and save the criticism of players for when the games matter. Right now, they don’t. If nothing else, it’s fun to watch some of the Red Sox prospects play in games that don’t mean anything to the standings. It’s nice to see players like Reddick, Anderson, Brown and others try to impress. For some, these games allow a first glimpse at the prospects we have all heard so much about, so watch them for what they’re worth. Afterall, this is February not October
The team will be at it again today when the Sox take on the Pirates at 1:05ET. Boston.com’s Adam Kilgore will be doing live updates from the game.