Tagged: Mike Lowell

Open Letter to Terry Francona

By Chris Cue
8/11/09

Hey Tito…..

My Man, I’ve got a few things I’d like you to
consider. Let’s start with the everyday lineup. I know you struggle
daily with this, but I’m just trying to help here so hear me out.

You
ever hear of going with the hot hand? Well, the same applies to “hot
bats”, so let’s say we do this…..for now (depending on who is
pitching).

Ellsbury – CF
Pedroia – 2B
Martinez – C (Yes, I’ve heard how he doesn’t hit when he catches…it’s BS)
Youkilis – 3B
Bay – LF
Lowell – DH
Drew – RF
Kotchman – 1B
Green – SS

I
know Papi & Tek are the vets and they may get rubbed the wrong way
and everything, but just tell them that you love them, rub their backs,
pat their heads and sit them the “F” down for a while OK?

     
       OK, glad we cleared that problem up. Now let’s talk about the
pitching. First the bullpen. Do yourself, the team and us a favor and
don’t put poor MDC in a situation where he might give up a lead. I like
the guy and all, but he doesn’t perform well under pressure. Maybe
think about stretching him out for long relief. I think he’d do well
there. Now, here’s the deal on Daniel Bard. He’s a kid and you have to
expect some adjustment time. I know he’s made you say bad words his
last few outings, but really, give him a break. He’s got great stuff.
He just needs a little time. Leave him and the rest of the fella’s
right where they are.

I know this next topic is a sore spot so I’ll try to approach it gingerly.

Starting Pitching.

Josh
Beckett & Jon Lester have done great. Please give them all the
candy and ice cream they want…..heck, take them out and shoot some
pool with them too if you think they would appreciate it. They’ve
earned it.

Brad Penny is a different story. By all means
necessary, keep him away from the candy & ice cream. It’s not that
he’s a bad guy, but let’s be honest, he REALLY doesn’t need that stuff.
However, if you’re determined to treat everyone equally, then I might
suggest a rewards program for him. You know, if he has a 1,2,3
inning….give the slob a Hershey bar. If he has more then one of
those, take him to Dairy Queen where he can watch the fat chicks eat
sundae’s. He may back off on the sweets after that. Oh yeah, if he ever
sees the light of day known as the 7th inning, I think you should give
him the keys to the vending machine and let him have at it.

Incentives Tito….think “incentives”.

Clay
Buchholz is easy. Just tell him if he gets the “W” he gets his
Penthouse Magazine back…..other wise keep it yourself….just don’t
let the Mrs. know you’ve got it.

Tazawa…..hmmm He’s kind of a
tough one. You may have to play this one by ear. Just do yourself a
favor and don’t tell him how well his countryman Dice-K has done for us
in the past…..he might try to emulate him. WE DON’T WANT THAT. Dice
is a great guy and all, but really who wants to see the bases loaded
all the time and a magic act that nobody really appreciates. Just tell
him to go out there and strike MFers out. Simple as that. Heck, if it
helps build his confidence, tell him he’s taller then Pedroia.

OK, that’s it for now Tito. Let me know if I can be of anymore help.

Regards,

Chris

Darn it. I knew I’d forget something…

PS.
I have this friend of mine that say’s John Henry is cheap, Theo is
inept and that you’re in a coma. I hope that’s not the case, so could
you do me a favor? The wife, kid and I are coming to see you guys this
Wednesday & Thursday. Would it be too much to ask that John Henry
buy us a round? Could Theo arrange parking for us at Fenway? And do you
think you could say “Hi” to us while we’re there?

I only ask because I’d like to prove my buddy wrong.

Thanks again!

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Fickle Fans

By Chris Cue
April 13, 2009

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     Judging by comments made on articles and chat sites I’ve
read, it appears there is a vocal minority out there that don’t check their
calendars very often. I’m not talking about just Red Sox fans either. Six games
into the season, the panic members of several teams fan bases have begun their
“Sky is Falling” predictions.

 

     We’ve had these “It’s Early” conversations before haven’t
we? We are 6 games into the season. Let me repeat that. WE ARE 6 GAMES INTO THE
SEASON. Having major concerns at this point is jumping the gun a bit don’t ya
think? It shouldn’t surprise anyone that some players have started the season
Hot or Cold. It happens every year. I’m sure fans all over would like to see
their teams “plans” come together and be firing on all cylinders from
day one, but that rarely (if ever) happens.

     
So, yes I’m sure Red Sox fans would feel really great right now if Papi was
hitting long ball after long ball, if Ellsbury had an OBP near .500, If Dice,
Lester and Wake had shut out the teams they faced, if Jed Lowrie was 12 for 24
at the plate, if Mike Lowell suddenly found some blazing speed and if the Sox
were 6-0…..but that kind of stuff doesn’t happen right away with some players
or teams. In some cases, it never will all year, but you have to find out what
you have don’t you? You have to stay the course and allow some of these guys to
play up to their norm or potential.

     
Every team has a game plan going into the season, however that exact plan is
rarely still being executed once July rolls around. Teams and players are
streaky. A few get hot and stay that way and some only show flashes of what
they should be. But 6 games into the season…on April 13th….. is not when
Management or coaches should step back and analyze results to either make
changes or not. Can you imagine what the Red Sox lineup would be tomorrow if
they did that? With his current OBP Bay would be our lead off hitter, Youkilis
would be the DH, JD Drew would be batting 8th or 9th and Nick Green would be the everyday SS.

     
I’m not saying that team management should wait 3 months before deciding what
is going to work and what’s not, but after 6 games? It might be different if we
were talking about elite players that are injured and out for the season, but
that’s not the case here. I mean c’mon, it really is a little early to be
overly concerned about much isn’t it? What do you say some of you sit back and
see how things begin to progress to the norm before you start calling for key
players to be benched or replaced? This isn’t your first Major League season is
it? Or is it?

 

Relax.

1-3 Not to Worry

By Chris Cue
April 11, 2009

     You can bet that the Red Sox didn’t want to start the season in a 1 and 3 hole like this, but even in their losses good things have happened. Last nights game against the Angels was almost a given “L” in the Win/Loss column. With the Angels playing with so much emotion following their tragic loss of Nick Adenhart, I’m not sure how any team facing them last night could have had the desire to win that game. That is truely a very sad story and difficult time for all of baseball, but especially for the Angels. If the Sox had to lose one, it seems quite appropriate that it happened last night.

     We have seen several good signs in these losses. Jacoby Ellsbury putting it together to get on base twice last night was a step in the right direction. Mike Lowell, speed deminished and all, looks as slick in the field as ever and he’s putting good wood on the ball as well. In fact, most of the Red Sox players are squaring up on pitches. It’s just a matter of time before those start to find some holes. For some reason the Red Sox offense always seems to struggle a bit when Wakefield is on the mound. Whether that’s due to the slower pace of the game or just pure coincidence is up to you to decide. Wakefield was not in a fantastic groove last night, but he did manage a quality start. Had a few of those hits found holes, we may have had an entirely different ballgame.

     This afternoon, Joe Saunders will go to the mound for the Angels to face the Red Sox. Saunders, who has a career 4-0 record against the Sox is comming off an impressive start vs the Oakland A’s. His career 2.89era in 6 games vs the Red Sox would appear to spell trouble for the team today. However, you’ll need to factor in the law of averages. In my book, the Red Sox are due for a win. This is however, Saunders most productive month of the season. His April numbers in 2 full seasons are a daunting 8-0 with a 1.94 career era.

     For the Red Sox, Brad Penny will make his team debut. Penny who is sure to be on a pitch count going into today needs to be efficient if he hopes to go deep into the game. Terry Francona no doubt is hoping to get at least 6IP out of Penny today. In the Angels ballpark, Penny has a career record of 1-2 with a 5.68era. He’ll need to do much better then that today if he hopes to come away with the win. If Penny can get a little help from the bats waking up today, that would go a long way to making this one a “W” for the Sox. The team looks primed and ready to have a break out game. Let’s hope it follows as solid effort on the mound by Penny.

Game time today is 4:10pm ET and is the National broadcast on FOX (although regional coverage may affect that in some areas).

Since tomorrow is a day for families, friends and faith, I’ll be taking the day off as well. So, I’ll wish you a Happy Easter today.

Enjoy the games and GO SOX!!

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.

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)

021709_ortiz329__1234862879_0999.jpg

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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)

021509_Lugo.jpg

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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)

021509_Bay.jpg

(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.

Lucky, Good or Both

By Chris Cue
February 14, 2009

     In the off season of 2003, Theo Epstein and the Red Sox attempted to trade Manny Ramirez and acquire Alex Rodriguez. In the young life of the current ownership and management, that was the biggest failed attempt at signing a player who eventually went to the Yankees in the 11th hour. Since that time, we have witnessed this occurrence with Johnny Damon and recently with Mark Teixeira. Off season attempts to sign players by this front office have often been trumped by other clubs. Pedro Martinez is another example of a player the Red Sox made an attempt to retain, but came up short to the Mets.

     In each of those cases (Damon, Pedro & A-Rod), one could look at those failures and see them as lucky breaks. Damon is no longer a quailty Centerfielder and if he was retained, the Red Sox would never have seen Coco Crisp or perhaps even Jacoby Ellsbury when they did. Pedro’s story is easy. If the Red Sox had managed to retain him, they would have committed to a pitcher who has spent a significant amount of time on the DL. As far as A-Rod goes, is there any doubt that if that trade had gone through that the Red Sox might never have won the 2004 World Series in which Manny was the MVP? So, what is it with these failed attempts? Luck or is this front office just good at knowing where to draw the line in the sand? Maybe, it’s a little bit of both.

     We’re about to find out if this streak of winning failures is going to continue. A similar situation is now at hand. This front office, whether you agreed with them or not, went after Mark Teixeira pretty aggressively. They did so knowing that if they had signed him, Mike Lowell was going to have to be traded away. Needless to say, they failed once again to get the prize they were after. Or did they? A case can be made that once again they had drawn a line in the sand and were not willing to cross it. Could they have out bid the Yankees for Teixeira’s services? We may never know, but we do know this much….when Scott Boras told John Henry, Theo Epstein and the rest who went to Texas what it would cost to sign him right then and there, they passed. They said no and Henry’s email to the press, widely viewed at the time as a bluff, signaled their refusal to go the extra mile. They had a number and they stuck to it.

     Mark Teixeira is now a Yankee and Mike Lowell remains a member of the Red Sox. Will this most recent failed attempt to acquire a player again work to the advantage of the Red Sox? Who knows. Only time will tell us the end of that story. However, if the track record is any indication, then it would appear that Mike Lowell is about to have a career year. That’s something the Red Sox and their fans should be looking forward to.