Tagged: Terry Francona

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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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.

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!!

Carter, Green Make the Team – Buccholz in  Limbo

By Chris Cue
April 1. 2009

     This isn’t an “April Fools Day” joke, nor should it be considered one. Both Nick Green and Chris Carter were announced as “probable”opening day members of the Red Sox yesterday. Green would be the temporary fill in for Julio Lugo on the bench and Chris Carter will fill Mark Kotsay’s spot as the 4th OF-1B. Lugo is expected to be back and ready to play within a few weeks of the season opener. At that time, Green will be optioned back to Pawtucket and Chris Carter will likely follow sometime in mid- May when Kotsay returns.

     As presently constructed, here is the opening day bench for the Red Sox:

(L) David Ortiz DH
(R) Rocco Baldelli OF-DH
(L) George Kottaras C
(R) Nick Green IF-OF
(L) Chris Carter 1B-OF

     Most of the concern this season surrounds Third baseman Mike Lowell and his ability to play after recovering from hip surgery. The Red Sox are well covered there without the need for a bench player to fill a backup role for him. Both Kevin Youkilis and Jed Lowrie are fine defensive Third baseman. Therefore, the only need on the roster is for the bench to provide backup for their positions at 1B and SS. With yesterday’s announcement, it’s clear that Carter will backup Youkilis at 1B in case he needs to move across the diamond and Green will provide depth at SS/2B should Lowrie be needed at Third.

     While all of this is certainly exciting for both players, it comes with one caveat. Both Green and Carter were told they would be going North with the team to play the Mets at Citi-Field, but were cautioned that a last minute trade or waiver claim could still have them starting their season in Pawtucket. There have been no rumblings of a pending deal by the Sox, but that’s not unusual considering how the organization keeps news like that from leaking out. So, there still remains the possibility that neither will actually make the team, however at this late date, it seems likely that they will.

     The only other position on the Red Sox 25 man roster that is still being talked about is the 5th Starting Pitchers slot. The Red Sox have said all along that position belongs to Brad Penny, however there are indications that Penny may not be ready in time for his April 12th start. Buchholz who had been stellar until yesterday’s outing against the Rays, is still the leading candidate to fill that position if Penny is indeed thought to need more time. So, for now, Buchholz remains in limbo awaiting a decision by Pitching Coach Jim Farrell and Head Coach Terry Francona on his opening day role. Most signs are pointing in the direction that Penny will be given more time and that Buchholz will be needed, but that is far from a certainty at this point. Brad Penny is scheduled to pitch today against the Pittsburgh Pirates. There is no doubt how he fares today, could be the deciding factor in Buchholz’s fate. Will he be the 5th starter for the Boston Red Sox or a starting pitcher for the AAA Paw Sox? He should know which it is going to be shortly after today’s game.

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.

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.

Links and Things

By Chris Cue
March 12, 2009

     With the Red Sox having an off day yesterday, the news was pretty sparse coming out of Spring Training camp. So, a search of the web yielded a few articles that may interest Sox fans. Some you may have read already, others maybe not. They are offered up here simply to fill a void in the day to day news that is absent from most of the papers today.

     We’ll call this first link “Drinking the Kool Aid”.
          (photo courtesy of irvinehousingblog.com)
kool_aid_man_waving.jpg     Normally that term is used when fans read and believe everything that is written positively about their team. In this article by Jason Stark, “Drinking the Kool Aid” (or reading it) may apply simply because it’s very complimentary towards the Red Sox and not so much for the Yankees. While the “Glass half full” crowd will no doubt enjoy this read, I would expect to hear a Kool Aid reference from opposing teams fans. The Yankees fans being the front runners of that group.

     Call it what you will, but the essential truth of the off season moves by both the Red Sox and the Yankees are undeniable. The Yankees spent 423 million dollars this off season. They didn’t spend that money to become the best team in the American League East (although I’m sure that’s their hope). They spent that money because they simply needed to catch up to where the Red Sox and the Rays are currently with talent. Yankees fans may want to deny this, but that is the unbridled truth. So, for your enjoyment (or disdain…depending) Jason Stark’s thoughts on the off season moves by both clubs can be read by clicking HERE .

          In the on going saga of Manny Ramirez and his not so fondly remembered departure from the Red Sox last season, Jonathon Papelbon threw his two cents into the discussion of how fellow players felt during that drama. Ramirez, as you may know, has a book coming out shortly that is not very complimentary towards the Red Sox organization. While Terry Francona and several other players have described the negative comments by Ramirez as fiction, Papelbon (as you might expect) cuts to the core of the problem by characterizing Manny’s demeanor during that time as being a “Cancer”. You can read his comments to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman by clicking HERE.

     Finally this morning, I’ll leave you with a run down on the American League by Boston.com’s Chad Finn. His take on the East, Central and West can be found by clicking HERE.

Have a great day and Go Sox!!