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.
By Chris Cue
March 18, 2009
Did everyone enjoy their St. Patty’s Day? Man I’m tellin ya, between the baseball that was played and the Guinness I drank, yesterday was up there as one of my favorite days so far this year. The Red Sox won beating the Twins 9-5 (btw, I didn’t mind the uniforms…actually I thought they looked pretty good, but the hat?? Yuck! sorry Julia) and the USA won last night with a walk off hit by David Wright to beat team Puerto Rico 6-5….what a game! A link to the story on that game and video of the walk off hit from MLB.com is HERE. Great day! St. Patrick was smiling on us.
On to what’s in store for us today. Since Japan lost last night yeah! (You’re almost home Dice-K 🙂 Japan faces elimination tonight vs Cuba….. Japan beat Cuba 6-0 the last time they met.
While we’re on the subject of the Oh-So-Lovable WBC, The US plays Venezuela tonight @ 7pm. That game will be on MLBN. Both teams are heading to the Semi-finals. Tonight’s game is to determine the round 2, pool 2 winner.
Also on the tube today:
1:05 PM Baltimore Orioles @ St. Louis Cardinals / MASN & MLB.TV
1:10 PM Atlanta Braves @ New York Mets / SNY, MLBN & MLB.TV
7:05 PM Florida Marlins @ Washington Nationals (LOL, Never mind.. watch the WBC instead)
9:05 PM Seattle Mariners @ Kansas City Royals / FSKS & MLB.TV
Yankees – Astros @ 1:05 is not on TV….sorry Yankees fans, I don’t think it’s even being broadcast on the radio.
The Red Sox have an off day today. I think John Smoltz is playing Larry Lucchino 18 holes of Golf this morning. If Smoltzy wins, he’ll take Lucchino’s place for a day and be allowed to get under Theo’s skin w/o fear of being released…..(I could be wrong on that). If Lucchino wins,… well…..ha, ha, ha! forget about it. That will never happen. Mostly because I made that up .
That’s all for now….. I gotta get back to getting paint all over the place.
Have a great Day!
By Chris Cue
March 17, 2009
(even if you’re not familiar with “The Little Dark Rose” and it’s literary meaning)
(photo courtesy of gifs.net)
You’ll have to forgive me for not writing recently. I’ve been busy painting the interior of my home. I’m sorry to say (and so is my wife) that I’m not done yet, but how could I not have something to offer today? As the transplanted residants from the old county say, “Today’s such a grand Irish holiday in the states.” Please notice that I’m wearing “the green” in the photo to the left. No guarantees on how long it’ll stay green and not become the color I’m painting with, but I’ll do my best to maintain the tradition.
So much has occured that I’ve failed to comment on that I almost feel like I’ll be redundant bringing any of it up now. No matter. Perhaps I can wrap it all up with just a few sentences.
Let’s see…..how should I say this? OK, I think I’ve got it. Try this on for size. I think it should cover all the news, good and bad that we’ve had lately……the WBC, the injured players, the contract signings and so on and so forth. Here you go…
I’m ready for it, how about you?
Well, unfortunately we have a while to go before the games mean anything. At least it’s not mid-November anymore. There is baseball being played again, so I suppose we should be thankful for that. While we’re on the subject of being thankful, I’d like to say “Thanks” to NESN for carrying the Spring Training games that they do. There was a time not so long ago that we would never have been able to see the coverage of the team that’s provided today unless we flew to Florida ourselves. However, being the greedy sort that I am, I’d like to request that NESN do more of it. How about broadcasting ALL of the games ladies and gentleman? I know, I know, not everyone is as fanatical about baseball as we are, but is “Charlie Moore Outdoors” or the umpteenth re-run of “Sports Desk” really a better programing option? No offense to the Mad Fisherman, but given a choice, I think I’d rather watch a live game. Thankfully, today we can. NESN is broadcasting today’s game. It’ll be on at 1:00pm and if the tradition holds true, we’ll all get to see the Red Sox play in green uniforms
Do me a favor today will ya? Join me in a virtual pint and let’s toast the coming of a new season in “Grand Irish Fashion”
Cheers to you! I’ll leave you with a (not so) Old Irish tale.
when the pub was shut for the night.
Out of his hole crept a wee Red Sox mouse
and stood in the pale moonlight.
He lapped up the frothy brew from the floor,
then back on his haunches he sat.
‘Bring on that damn Yankees cat!”
“Erin go braugh!”
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.
By Chris Cue
February 16, 2009
If you have been following the Red Sox plan for 2009 (the one they settled on), then you are aware of the depth this club currently has. To put it plainly and without being too much of a homer, I can honestly say it’s remarkable. A conversation was started recently on a “chat” board regarding that depth and it got me thinking about what we are hoping for.
By the way, “thinking” too much can sometimes not be a good thing. That may be the case here. Before I get into the concerns I have, I want to point out that I’m probably qualified to be the poster child for people that views things as a “glass half full”. What follows (I hope) is an simply an objective look at the health of the Red Sox
Here’s the deal. When the Red Sox decided upon signing Brad Penny & John Smoltz to our Starting Pitching rotation, I wasn’t thrilled with Penny, but in both cases I thought they were good moves. Afterall, we have some depth in the pitching department. Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Buchholz, Masterson and Bowden are all capable of being effective in the starting role. So, Penny & Smoltz looked like low risk, high reward possibilities. Essentially, that means if they can perform, great. If not, then no harm no foul. Much like Bartolo Colon from last season, both of these quality gentleman have the potential to help in enormous ways if they can rebound to the form they have shown in the past. No issues there. Good move by the Sox front office in my opinion. You can never have too much pitching and we look solid for 2009 when it comes to depth in that department.
When looking at the team as a whole, even the most “pollyanna” of fans would have to admit that there are a lot of question marks with this 2009 squad. So much so that it may not give you that “warm fuzzy feeling” as a fan when thinking about the 162 games that lay ahead. Let’s take a look at that list of questionable players we currently have. Let’s see if the odds are with us or not. Let’s see if any of these players are unable to help, what options we have and if they will be good enough. I won’t make any predictions or determinations on this. I’ll leave that up to you, but let’s each look at what we have and what our options might be.
As a side note, I’d like to acknowledge that some of these players are less questionable then others, but if there is any doubt surrounding their health, I thought they should be listed.
Player / Concern / Depth behind them / Replacement result
1). David Ortiz / Wrist injury in 2008 / Rocco Baldelli, Chris Carter, Jeff Bailey and Lars Anderson / It would be extremely optomistic to veiw that any of Papi’s backups could contribute in the same manner he could if healthy. Major concern here.
2). Mike Lowell / Hip surgery to remove cartilidge / Kevin Youkilis and Jed Lowrie / Youkilis showed that he can be as good at 3B as he is at 1B when Lowell went down last year. However, if that move is needed, then someone will need to take Kevin’s place at first. Jed Lowrie should do a respectable job there defensively, although his offensive production may not match that of a healthy Lowell. Major concern here as well.
3). Rocco Baldelli / Diagnosed with a type of Mitocondrial disorder that may limit consistent playing time / Mark Kotsay, Jonathon Van Every and Jeff Bailey / Kotsay would be fine (if healthy) in either LF or RF however, CF for him isn’t an option. Both Van Every and Bailey would be callups and neither currently has the potential to match Baldelli’s bat, but both would be adequate
in the field if needed. (Van Every in any OF spot, Bailey only at the corners)
4). Mark Kotsay / surgery for a displaced disc fragment / Rocco Baldelli (OF), Jonathon Van Every (OF), Jeff Bailey (OF, 1B) and Chris Carter (1B). / Bailey is the only one capable of really filling in for Kotsay. While Baldelli would be a great offensive sub, neither he, Van Every or Carter offer quality protection at 1B should Youkilis need to move to third.
5). JD Drew / Recently admitted to contiued back stiffness / Baldelli, Kotsay, Van Every and Bailey / Baldelli is the only one that has the potential to replace Drew’s bat. As noted, the question is: Can he do it full time? The others, while defensively fine as a sub do not have the ability to be the complete package Drew is when healthy.
(without going into great detail, the following are players that have questions that need to be answered, but may have suitable replacements or their injuries may be deminshed compared to others.)
Player / injury / concern
6). John Smoltz / shoulder surgery / not expected to contribute until June. At age 41 you have to wonder what the future HOFer has left.
7). Brad Penny / tendonitis and inflamation in shoulder / Penny has been injury plagued though out his career. Last season’s bout with a balky shoulder is the latest. That contributed to his 5.88era with the Dogers last season. If healthy, how does he perform in the AL East?
8). Tim Wakefield / Back stiffness and shoulder pain / Wakefield was shut down and not able to pitch in the 2007 post season because of these issues. He also had many of the same pains last season. Spring Training is 2 days young and already Terry Francona is reporting that he is currently struggling with back stiffness once again. Age may be catching up.
9). Josh Beckett / Oblique injury / Beckett in a press conference yesterday said that he was not anywhere near 100% during the post season of 08. While not a major injury, his weight and possibly conditioning was an alarm in 2008 heading into the season. Getting out of Spring Training this year without those concerns is something to watch.
10). Jed Lowrie / broken left wrist / Lowrie is a switch hitter and that injury (not fully known until the off season) is somewhat of a question because the Sox would like to know if that is what affected his performance from the left side of the plate last season. Easily healed, this wrist injury should not be a major concern when it comes to his ability to play. As a rookie, his consistent performance will be more of a question mark.
11.) Takashi Saito / partially torn elbow ligament / Saito was lights out with the Dogers prior to this set back. Rather then opt for a surgical repair, Saito opted for treatment instead. That’s understandable considering his age (39), but there are huge questions regarding his ability to set-up Jonathon Papelbon throughout an entire season without that elbow being a problem again.
12). Julio Lugo / strained quadricep / Like Lowrie, this is not a major injury. Lugo could rebound physically, but the questions that surround the name “Lugo” for the Red Sox go far beyond injury recovery. His concerns remain consistency both at the plate and in the field.
There you have it. 12 names. Add or subtract as you wish, but you have
to wonder if 12 is too many to hope for. I think the Red Sox will need a miracle to have everyone of them
return to their potential or former self. But is that a problem? There is a lot of depth to this team. There is also a lot of quality in that depth, but with that quality, there remains reason for concern as well.
Let’s hope Terry Francona has been practicing his juggling act. Keeping this team up to par while working around players unable to perform could be his toughest challenge yet.
By Chris Cue
February 11, 2009
It was a lucky bird who’d made the grade
And though his song was rather sad
I just had to laugh
He seemed a photograph
He blew in with a southern wind
He didn’t notice that the snow was here
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his wings before
Nobody was really sure
If he was lost or here to stay
Oh well, the car needs to be washed anyway.
Apparently the seasons are changing, but my luck….maybe not so much.
There were a few other signs of Spring yesterday that should be noted. Even though they didn’t fly in, sing to me and then crap on my car, they too were welcome never the less. I’m talking about the first Spring Training Updates courtesy of the Providence Journal’s Soxblog. In case you missed them, here’s what ProJo said was happening first thing yesterday in good ole’ Ft. Myers, FL.
It’s warm. It’s sunny. It’s baseball.
A ton of minor leaguers and a few big leaguers are all ready at the
Red Sox Player Development Complex here. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester,
Manny Delcarmen, Rocco Baldelli and Kevin Youkilis are all working out
Brad Penny and John Smoltz are here, too.
That was the first of 7 entries made by Joe McDonald yesterday. The other blog posts he made were regarding John Smoltz playing catch (with a football), Youkilis on the A-Rod news, Youk ready to go, another piece on John Smoltz, Minor League player Chris Carter and newly acquired Japanese relief pitcher Takashi Saito. It was all good stuff. Nothing earth shattering, but music to my eyes (if that’s possible). If you’d like to follow McDonalds blog posts, just copy and paste this into your web browser: http://soxblog.projo.com/ bookmark it and then check in throughout the day.
This is a great time of year. Thanks to a song bird and Joe McDonald I’m convinced that Spring is on the way. It’s time to open up the windows (for a few seconds) and think about that yearly house cleaning .
Oh yeah, I should probably get the car washed too.
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!