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!
By Chris Cue
April 26, 2009
With over 5 months to go in the baseball season, it’s probably a little too early to go jumping up and down with 2 game lead over the Yankees and a 4.5 game lead over the Rays heading into today……BUT……if you want to do a little cheering, I’m certainly not going to mock you for it 🙂
The last 2 games vs the pinstriped brigade have been just about everything a baseball fan could expect. So far, we’ve witnessed some of the very best baseball we’re likely to see. Granted, yesterday’s game was far from what most expected. With Josh Beckett on the hill for the Sox and AJ Burnett pitching for the Yankees, most felt we would be in for a real old fashioned pitchers duel. With a final score of 16-11, the Red Sox had another win in what turned out to be an offensive battle and not a toe to toe 9 round fight between elite pitchers at all. It’s funny how baseball is tricky like that sometimes. On paper everything looked like it was going to be a low scoring game, but then Wham! Here came the Yankees with 6 runs in 4 innings. Not to be out done, the Sox then returned the favor by putting up 5 runs of their own in the 4th inning lead by a Grand Slam from Jason Varitek. The Sox then followed that up with 3 runs in the 5th, 1 in the 6th, 3 in the 7th and finally 4 runs in the 8th inning. While yesterday wasn’t a classic pitching matchup, it certainly was an impressive display of offensive power from both sides. Another hard fought game by both teams and another win for the Red Sox. There’s not much to complain about there.
Yesterday’s win for the Red Sox gives them a league leading 9 game winning streak and pulled them within 1 game of tying the Blue Jays for the lead in the AL East. For all you baseball historians, yesterday’s comeback from six runs down was Boston’s largest comeback in a game against the Yankees since May 16, 1968 (according to the Elias Sports Bureau). Today, the Red Sox go for their 10th win in a row and third consecutive home stand ____ (I don’t want to jinx it by saying it) of an opposing team after defeating the Orioles in a 4 game series and the Twins in a 2 game series at Fenway.
Justin Masterson will take the hill for the Sox hoping to secure the win and veteran Andy Pettitte will be trying to stop the bleeding for the Yankees. You wait and see. Today will end up being the pitchers duel. Why? Because baseball is tricky that way 🙂
Game time is set for 8:05pm est on ESPN.
Enjoy the game
By Chris Cue
April 23, 2009
Boy I’ve been busy. Sorry for not posting in a while and thank you to those of you who e-mailed wondering if I’d fallen off the face of the Earth. Obviously I haven’t, but I have to admit, there were a few times when that seemed like a pretty good option. 🙂
On to Baseball…….How about them SOX huh? Reeling off seven victories in a row! Wow, that’s pretty good. In fact it’s the best run so far this season in all of MLB. That puts the Red Sox tied for 2nd place in the AL East with the NY Yankees.
I know it’s probably not fair to compare 2 teams that have had an intense rivalry for decades to others, but who cares about being fair? It’s the truth. While we no longer have the Fisk – Munson matchup and seeing how it’s going to be impossible for even a little A-Rod Varitek dust up, what are we left with?
Ha Ha! That’s right. A little Youkilis – Chamberlain love-fest! We’ll see how much chin music Joba thinks he can get away with before our first baseman decides it’s time to color up one of his eyes. This mini drama kicks things off Friday night as Joba Chamberlain is the scheduled starter for the Yankees. As hot as Youk is at the plate right now, I can see Mr “I didn’t mean to throw at his head” look to try and cool him off a bit. We’ll see how that works out.
The game times, networks and scheduled starters for this weekend are:
Friday: 7:10pm est – NESN / Lester – Chamberlain
Saturday: 4:10pm est – FOX / Beckett – Burnett
Sunday: 8:05pm est – ESPN / Masterson – Pettitte
As usual, this looks like it’s going to be one heck of a series. The pitching match ups look good and both teams are playing pretty well right now. Even some of the players appear to be getting up for this one.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
“Obviously, they have a great team and we feel we do too. Anytime you
play those guys, they’re going to be long games and exciting games. I
think everyone is looking forward to it.”
Papelbon. “When you put two competitive teams on the field, it’s always
going to make for an interesting game. We definitely have two teams
that are going to compete, and two teams that have a lot of talent on
them. It should be a fun series like always.”
(quotes taken from Ian Browne’s story on MLB.com)
So, even though we’ll have to endure and off day today, it appears that this weekend will more then make up for it. Regardless of how this series ends up, we’re sure to once again be treated to baseball at it’s best. I for one am looking forward to it!
Let’s try for 10 in a row…..
By Chris Cue
April 17, 2009
Man, there is nothing like home cooking, especially when the cook at home can……well, cook. If last year is any indication, then the Red Sox know how to cook. It’s the away food that does not sit so well with them. Last year the Sox had an 56-25 record at home. That’s a .691 winning percent. That’s not bad. Not bad at all. If the Sox can maintain that percentage and do a little better on the road this season, life will be good.
So far this season (remember how small of a sample this is), the record for the Sox at home is 1-2 and on the road it’s 2-4. Both average out to a .333 win percent. That’s not so good. However, considering how young this season really is, the Red Sox have the opportunity to turn their fortunes around this weekend when they host the Baltimore Orioles for a 4 game series in Fenway. The scheduled pitchers for the Red Sox are: Brad Penny vs Jeremy Guthrie today, Josh Beckett vs Adam Eaton Saturday, Jon Lester faces Koli Uehara on Sunday and 2 yet to be announced pitchers for Monday’s game (Masterson is expected to get that start for the Sox).
So, can the Red Sox take at least 3 out the 4 games scheduled? Sure they can. If the offense has truley woken up, then I think it’s safe to assume that Saturday & Sunday are clearly matchups in the Sox favor. Today and Monday may be the toss up games with Guthrie getting a slight edge over Brad Penny today and Masterson (if he starts) being the unknown on Monday. In the hopes of settling “Panic Nation”, the Sox could do themselves a world of good by winning their first series of the season. Taking 3 out of the 4 puts this team back on the winning path and would result in them going from a .333 team to a .461 team. Still not good, but it’s heading in the right direction. Of course the use of some brooms on Monday would be better still, however at the risk of upsetting the baseball “karma” or jinxing something, we shouldn’t even think it. It’s a safe bet to assume the Sox will begin to turn things around pretty soon, so why not start this weekend right? We seem to have favorable matchups and if the balls fall the right way, there’s no reason why it can’t happen.
Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that the teams luck begins to fair a little better then it has and that the potential that resides within this team begins to show it’s face as well. This isn’t the start of the season that anyone would have hoped for, but it’s still early enough to believe that the Red Sox fortunes will soon begin to show some promise. Game time today is @ 7:10pm est. What do you say we start this series off on the right foot? The fans are ready. Now let’s see if the team is.
Enjoy the game and GO SOX!!
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 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
April 8, 2009
Nice win for the Red Sox for the home opener yesterday afternoon. Josh Beckett looked absolutely filthy. 7 innings pitched, 1 run, 3 walks and 10 strikeouts. That’s nasty! It couldn’t have happened against a better team either. The Red Sox looking dominant over the Rays kind of puts into perspective what our problem was last season in the playoffs. Pitching. If yesterday’s Josh Beckett had shown up in the ALCS, things may have turned out much differently. No matter, he didn’t so we have to hope that this is just a glimpse of the Beckett we can expect to see this season.
How about that MVP…..”The Little Engine”……Dustin Pedroia hits a homerun in his first at bat. You gotta love this guy. You just know his teamates got an ear full after the game. Add to that, Jason Varitek…..yes……VARITEK hits a homerun from the LEFT side of the plate. Do ya think he’s out to prove his critic’s wrong this year? I sure as heck hope we see more of that Jason. In fact, everyone in the lineup got a hit yesterday except for Jacoby Ellsbury and his day will come. It was a great start to the 09 season for the Sox!
Today we have Jon Lester on the mound facing Scott Kazmir. Kazmir has been tough on the Sox in past seasons. He is 4-4 while pitching at Fenway. His troubles during the second half of last year were because he was having trouble locating that slider of his. If he has that going today, the Sox could be in for a long day. Lester on the other hand may be a much bigger problem for the Rays. He’s 16-2 lifetime at Fenway with a 3.30era. Coming off a breakthough season, much is expected of Lester this season. Hopefully, he’ll have the same kind of start Beckett did yesterday. As early in the season as it is, it wouldn’t stink to go up by 2 games on the Rays to begin the year.
Game time tonight is 7:10pm and is being broadcast on NESN. Enjoy the game and let’s go SOX!!