Tagged: Julio Lugo

5 Things That Couldn’t Hurt

by Chris Cue
June 15, 2009

5 Things the Red Sox should consider doing regarding the SS position

1). Buy Lugo a free ticket to get on board the SS Minow for a 3 hour tour.

2). Infect Theo with the Swine flu so he’s not well enough to be around when a Short Stop decision is made.

3). Make another trip to Texas (Houston this time) and leave John Henry in Boston to Twitter away…

4). Move the Green Monster in about 100 feet

5). Kidnap Hanley Ramirez when he comes to Fenway this week.

Lugo_boat_trip-1.jpg

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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.

The Long Ball, A Sigh of Relief and an MRI

By Chris Cue
March 14, 2009

     Good news coming out of last nights game against the Yankees. Mike Lowell homered and had a single in his first start playing third base last night. Lowell said he felt great both offensively and defensively. “As much as I like my defense, I’d take the home run anytime” he said. The biggest concern over his start last night was not his offensive prowess. It was of course if he would be hindered in his range of motion in the field. His first play at third base wasn’t the prettiest, but it was effective. Lowell fielded a hard hit ground ball by Yankees right fielder Xavier Nady. He initially bobbled the ball but gained control of it quickly and threw out the base runner attempting to reach second base. Then, Angel Chavez turned and had plenty of time to throw out Nady at first, completing the double play. When asked about the play after the game, Lowell said: “The toughest ball was that first one. Kind of a hard, in-between hop. I stayed with it. I didn’t really think about my hip much.” Having Lowell in the field and not thinking about his hip has to be a good sign for the Sox coaching staff.

     While Lowell provided that sigh of relief and the long ball, he wasn’t the only Sox player last night that was showing signs he’s ready to go.  In the second inning, facing the Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang, David Ortiz launched a 2 run homer that ended Wang’s night on the mound. Earlier in the day, Ortiz told reporters that he was still working on getting his timing down at the plate. By the looks of that plate appearence, it would appear that Ortiz is getting pretty close to where he wants to be. Another long ball and another sigh of relief from Red Sox fans eager to see Big Papi return to form.

     In the not-so-good news department, we get word this morning that Julio Lugo had an MRI last night to determine the cause of the soreness in his right knee. Lugo started last nights game at short stop but was pulled from the game before the inning ended. Manager Terry Francona said that he had been complaining of soreness for the past several days. “What happened, he was complaining of right knee soreness when he went out in the first inning.” Francona said.  “So we went out and got him. We took him out for precautionary reasons.”  The results of the MRI are not known yet, but the team expects to know more by this morning.

Francona’s Unique Approach

By Chris Cue
February 23, 2009

     Red Sox manager Terry Francona introduced a few new conditioning tools to the team yesterday. Many of the new approaches to training are a bit unorthodox, but the players appeared to embrace them without any questions or complaints. When asked why he decided to institute these new measures now, Francona responded with, “Well, we all heard about the suck-up session that Joe Girardi had with his players yesterday, so the Theo and I decided to do something a little different for our guys too.”  Francona then went on to introduce a few of the new idea’s to the media during his afternoon press gathering.

     “This was originally designed for Pitchers. We hope that by using this they will become much better in pinpointing their accuracy when it comes to locating their pitches. When I installed it in the club house, I was surprised to see the entire team line up to try it out.”

“The Location Drill”

Pitching drill.jpg     “They’re all getting their work in by using this.” Francona said. “I think right now, Beckett has the team record, but we’ll keep track of it and update you on the current standings.” 

     Another motivational piece introduced yesterday is a first of it’s kind when it comes to preparing ball players. When asked about the next item shown to the press, Tito said, “You know, ever since Coco’s incident last season, we’ve been trying to figure out a way to prepare players mentally when they are hit by a pitch. All the guys have to do is look at this and I think it gets the message across.”

“The Hit By Pitch Approach”

Hit by pitch drill.jpg     Francona was asked if he had any special idea’s regarding how to approach Tampa this season. He responded by saying, “We kind of had to think out of the box to address that, so what we ended up doing was bringing in someone we felt was an expert at tackling situations like that.”

“The Fishing Instructor”

fishing_drill.jpg       “This next picture shows you something that I can’t take credit for.” Francona said, “It’s something that Tek came up with. He noticed that a number of the guys like Bard, Kottaras and even Dusty Brown don’t really spend a lot of time in the weight room. So, to increase stamina and to test their will power, he had the guys doing this exercise yesterday.”

“The Sam Adams Indurance Test”

Catching drill.jpg      “The guys really seemed to enjoy it. I saw them doing this over and over. It must be really challenging because at the end of the day, most of them couldn’t seem to be able to stand up.”
    
     “Another challange we had was how to help some of the younger pitchers learn how to hold runners at first base. As you can see in this shot, Michael Bowden got really into it.” Francona labeled this next exercise….

“The Pick Off Drill”

Pickoff_drill.jpg
     Time will tell if Francona’s unique approach will have any real benefits to the players this season. It certainly seems like the Red Sox organization is pulling out all stops to get the team prepared for any eventuality that could occur. When asked if he had any other idea’s that he planned to try out, Francona said, “I have a few. Right now we’ve been trying out a plan to help Julio Lugo reduce the amount of errors he has in the field. It involves a metal ball and a high powered magnet inserted into his glove. Lugo hasn’t got all the kinks worked out of it yet and right now he’s pretty bruised up, so we’ll wait until he heals up and try some more.”

     Good Luck Tito…..

Players State of Mind

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By Chris Cue
February 17,2009

     As the remaining position players make their way into
Spring Training Camp today, some of those that preceded them have already
let their thoughts be known. To offer a glimpse into their state of mind, a few
simple quotes are all that’s needed.

David Ortiz
(photo – Boston.com)

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“Sometimes
I hear some comments and they do nothing but make me stronger.”

“I heard people
saying, ‘he’s getting old,’ or whatever. I just turned 33. I’ve never seen a
player called old at 33. You know what I mean?”

“These negative
comments people make about you just because for one year you’ve been off
because of injuries and things like that, don’t make no sense.”

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Julio Lugo
(photo – Boston Herald)

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“Nobody’s
going to be happy being on the bench.”

“Every year’s a
new beginning. Whatever you did last year doesn’t mean anything any more. I
don’t worry about that. I just come here and do what I do, play baseball the
best I can. I can’t make those decisions. They know what they’re going to get
from me. This is not my first rodeo.”

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Mike Lowell
(photo – ProJo SoxBlog)

021509_Lowell.jpg(On the off season trade talk) “You feel hurt, but it’s a human reaction
anyone would have. It just goes to show you that there are some times
when it’s a business, so you have to treat it that way. You go from
there.”

“It doesn’t take
away any excitement or from the guys I play with on the field. I want the
chance to win a World Series. There aren’t too many people who can say that,
even in the big leagues.

Dustin Pedroia

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(photo – ProJo Soxblog)
021509_Pedroia.jpg

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{page:Section1;}“I
was excited about the MVP. It was a great year, but I was very upset about the
way it ended. My biggest focus in the off season was to get ready for this
season. I just want to help the team win.”

“I’m shredded
and jacked. We’re ready to kick everybody’s (rear end).”

“Our biggest
goal this year is in front of us and when you’re that close last year to
returning to the World Series and not doing it, it leaves a bitter taste in
your mouth. So I think everybody put the time in during the off season to
prepare themselves for a great season. We’re definitely looking forward to
doing special things this year.”

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Jason Bay
(photo – Boston Herald)

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(on extending his contract) “There are a lot of factors that go into that. There are
definitely a lot of positives for me to stay here. I love it, as most
people do.”

(regarding replacing Manny and being accepted) “It was great. I think they (the fans) took to me more because of my
last name. It was easy. When you come into a situation like that there
are so many unknowns and to be accepted by the fans before I had even
done anything was a big weight off my back.”

     The remainder of the position players will begin showing up to the Player Development Center this morning. Once they arrive, the team will start the first day of full squad workouts. Each arriving player will have their own schedules and opinions, but these 5 have stated the common goal. Work hard, help the team win and the rest will take care of itself.

Quality With Concerns

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

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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.

A Little “This and That”

By Chris Cue

February 5, 2009

     Call it “Tid Bits” or just a “Red Sox Run Down”, here are a few blurbs that are worth taking note of today…..

     Kevin Millar is reportedly about to ink a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays. Good for Kevin! While I’m not much of a “Cowboy Up” kinda guy, Kevin was one of the “Idiots” and I’m glad to see he’ll have a home next season.

     Jed Lowrie and Julio Lugo appear to be at the center of what will be this years Spring Training drama. Terry Francona would not commit to either player having the full time Short Stop position locked down. A little competition never hurt anyone, but will the Red Sox fan base that lost confidence in Lugo be willing to support him once again if he wins the starting job?

     Health Watch: Another story Red Sox fans will be closely following this Sping is the performances of Mike Lowell and David Ortiz. Both are reportedly doing fine, but the proof will be in their productivity. Lowell, who is hoping to be ready for opening day, is coming off hip surgery and Ortiz, who was bothered last season by a wrist injury, will each be watched closely. The Red Sox have a lot riding on both of these players being healthy and productive, so it’s safe to assume that until opening day, Theo Epstein won’t know if he’s done with the trade or free agent market.

     Jon Lester, who showed up at camp 2 days ago, was recently tested and was shown to have one of the strongest shoulders in the Red Sox organization. It might be time to put away those worries about his innings increase last season.

     Sub-Plot “C”: With Jason Varitek all but signed, sealed and delivered, further down on the “watchful eye” list will be who will win the backup catchers role. Honestly, this little battle should attract more attention then it will likely get from the press. It’s widely believed that Varitek’s role will be somewhat deminished from previous years making the backup catcher a little more important then just being Wakefields personal caddy. If Varitek is only going to see action for 100 or so games, then the #2 guy will be counted on for roughly 1/3 of the season. That’s nothing to take lightly.

     The Nervous Nelly Club: Many finger nail biting members of the Red Sox fan base have turned their attention to what the team 100+ miles to the Southwest have done this offseason. It might calm their nerves a little bit if they remembered that in 2007, the Yankees actually won the head to head match ups with the Red Sox. The Sox however, won the AL East, the ALDS, the ALCS and The World Series that year. This also might be a good time to remember that there are 162 games in the season. The Red Sox only play the Yankees in 18 of those.

     Final note: Truck Day is tomorrow. The long absense of Baseball being played is almost over. Close your eyes, use your imagination and you can almost smell the grass and hear the balls being hit off the bats. This is a great time to be a Baseball fan. Think about it, even the Pittsburg Pirates will be in first place on opening day!….Enjoy!