Tagged: Justin Masterson

Oh My!

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

and

GO SOX!!!!!

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Busy, Busy, Busy

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.

Speaking of the Yankees…..

     “Hey Mom, look who’s coming to dinner.”

!Sox-yanks.jpg

     That’s right, Baseballs best rivalry gets underway once again starting this Friday night. I don’t want to say that there is a lot of interest generated when these 2 teams get together, but when compared to others, well……

!Bus Stop.jpgI 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?

!Youk-Joba.jpgHa 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.”

****

“It’s always fun to play those guys,” said Red Sox closer Jonathan
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…..

GO SOX!!

Wilkerson Walks, Penny or Buchholz as 5th Starter

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.

What If?

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:
Josh Beckett
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Jon Lester
Tim Wakefield
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.

Spring Trainings First Games

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.
Enjoy!

Odds and Ends

Even during this slow news time for baseball there are a few rumblings and rumors that caught my eye. Nothing earth shattering as of yet, but I suspect the trade news and deals will begin to get underway relatively soon.

The first tid bit of information is along these lines and it’s an excerpt from this Boston Herald article posted today by Sean McAdam.

This a true OFF season

 (link HERE)

“…..of the 223 players eligible for free agency – most via standard free agency and some who weren’t tendered contracts last month – fewer than 60 had agreed to terms by the end of business Friday, leaving about 70 percent of the market unemployed as we head into the first full week of the new year.”

 

The sheer number of available players still remaining would seem to suggest that we are in for a very active January. Stay tuned….

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Another peice of information worth noting is in regards to the inquirey the Red Sox made on Hanley Ramirez. This time, the info comes from Nick Cafardo’s normal Sunday contribution to the Boston Globe.

The most improved players

(link HERE

“…3. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins: The Marlins made it very clear to the inquiring Red Sox that Ramirez was not available. According to a source familiar with the talks, the Sox were quickly rebuffed and word is there was never mention of players the Red Sox could offer to entice the Marlins.”

 

If this is to be believed, then it’s clear there was never a mention of Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Justin Masterson, etc, being offered in exchange for Hanley Ramirez. It sounds like the Sox inquired, but were politely told that the Marlins had no interest in trading Hanley, so players names never came up.

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The final tid bit isn’t really a rumor or a rumbling. It’s more of an observation then anything else.

I’ve been checking RedSox.com to see when the remainder of the regular season game tickets go on sale. No word yet, but I know it’ll be soon.

Anyway, while trying to decide which games I’d like to go to this year, I noticed that June & July seem to be the softer part of the Sox schedule this season. I only mention this because if for some reason we get off to a slow start, then these 2 months should allow us to gain some ground or if we’re doing well, perhaps pull ahead depending on our situation.
There are more road games in June then July, but we’re into inter-league play then. Here’s the schedule.

June Schedule:

Detroit for 3 – away
Tex for 3 – at home
NYY for 3 – at home
PHI for 3 – away
FLA for 3 – at home
ATL for 3 – at home
WAS for 3 – away
ATL for 3 – away
BAL for 2 – away

July Schedule:

BAL for 1 – away
SEA for 3 – at home
OAK for 3 – at home
KC for 4 – at home
TOR for 3 – away
TEX for 3 – away
BAL for 3 – at home
OAK for 3 – at home
BAL for 1 – away

September is going to be a tough month….2 off days and 17 road games. That’s a pretty rough way to wind down the season. However, rosters expanding and having plenty of call-ups should help as long as we’re not in a fight for our lives for a playoff spot.

A link to the season schedule is HERE.

Enjoy your Sunday!