Tagged: Takashi Saito

Hot Stove Predictions – Red Sox

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.

Red Sox

1).
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.

4).
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
offer.

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!

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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 Day In The Life

By Chris Cue
February 11, 2009

       I heard a noise today…oh boy
       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

     Hopefully, the Beatles don’t mind the borrowing and altering of that classic too much. I really did hear a bird singing yesterday. It was the first one I had the pleasure of hearing in quite sometime. For some reason, “A Day In The Life” popped right into my head and I began changing the lyric’s to fit the moment. It was the first awakening of any of the 5 senses I’ve had that told me Spring is on it’s way. It was a pretty cool. I appreciated seeing and hearing that song bird right up until……
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.
==========================================================================

Report from the Fort

9:28 AM Tue, Feb 10, 2009
By Joe McDonald
 

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
today.
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.

A Little Venting

By Chris Cue
January 28, 2009

     In the mood for a little venting? If not, you may want to skip what you’re about to read. Personally, I’m pretty sick of the Boston Press right now. I know that January is normally a slow time for Baseball News, but there really are stories fans of the Red Sox would like to read about other then the on going saga with Jason Varitek, Scott Boras and the Sox front office.

     Don’t get me wrong, I am keenly interested in the outcome of Varitek’s contract offer, but there is so much more out there that could be reported. If only the press would get off their lazy butts and do some digging, we might actually get some news on the other 39 guys that make up the 40 man roster.

     Is anyone else a little curious about those guys too?

     I can’t be the only one that would be interested to know:

          A). How’s Ortiz wrist? What kind of shape is he in? Has he slimmed down a bit

               to help with his knees?
                 
          B). How’s Mike Lowell’s rehab coming? What’s his state of mind following the

               Teixeira talks?

          C). How is Josh Beckett doing? Any lingering effects from his troubles towards the

               end of last season? Will he be in shape coming into camp this Spring?
                
          D). How’s Jon Lester feeling after a season that saw his innings pitched

               jump from 153.2 (minors & majors combined) in 2007 to 210 innings

               pitched last season? Is his arm about to fall off or is he just fine?
                    
          E). How’s John Smoltz’s rehab coming?

          F). Is Brad Penny ready to go after his troubles last season?

          G). What about Takashi Saito? Is he here in name only or will he really be able

               to pitch?

     I could go on and on with questions that could be asked and stories that could be written. Unfortunately, for some reason it seems like all the Boston press is concerned about is Jason Varitek and rehashing the Teixiera debacle. I’m done Mazz get over Teixeira! I’ve heard enough CHB! ‘Cmon, Silverman, McDonald and the rest of you, do some reporting, a little digging and give us something new! Seriously gentleman, we’ll have an answer on Tek before this week ends.

     Can we PLEASE move on??

More Pieces To The Puzzle

The Red Sox have added more players to fill out the 25 man roster. Most notably, Mark Kotsay will return to the 1B/OF role he had with the Sox last year.

from Boston.com (Link HERE)

“While the Red Sox believe they have a formal agreement in place that
will bring Mark Kotsay back on a one-year deal, the agreement cannot be
finalized until the player returns from a trip to the Caribbean, the
Globe’s Tony Massarotti reports. Kotsay is believed to be in Aruba, but
is scheduled to travel to Boston for a physical exam following his
return to the United States.”

Also, just announced is the addition of Takashi Saito to the Red Sox bullpen.

also from Boston.com (Link HERE)

“The Red Sox have signed free-agent reliever Takashi Saito to a one-year
contract with a team option for 2010, major-league sources told FOXsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal Saturday.
The deal includes a guarantee between $1.5 million and $2.5 million,
according to the report, and Saito will have the chance to earn more
than $7 million if he reaches all of his incentives. Rosenthal reports
that Saito has already passed his physical.”

Now, how about that catcher Theo??