Tagged: Terry Francona
Open Letter to Terry Francona
By Chris Cue
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.
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
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
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.
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
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”.
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.
Darn it. I knew I’d forget something…
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.
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)
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!!
Wakefield Has Issues
By Chris Cue
March 8, 2009
Back in December it was speculated here that Tim Wakefield may not be coming back to the Red Sox rotation this season. The link to that article is HERE. At the time, it was believed he might be considering retirement do to some sort of injury to his pitching shoulder. While it’s obvious that Wakefield will pitch for the Red Sox again this year, those concerns about his shoulder turn out to be well founded and explain a lot.
It was revealed in a Boston Globe article by Adam Kilgore yesterday that Wakefield has pitched the last 2 seasons with a small tear in the labrum of his right shoulder. Knuckleball pitchers like Wake are certainly a different breed, which may be why he has been able to continue the way he has. Still, it was explained that the problem with his shoulder is what has caused him to wear down late in the year.
Wakefield said: “It doesn’t really bother me until the innings count gets high, in the 160- to 180-inning range.” Using the lower end of that innings count (160), that means he feels he can be fine for a little more then 22 starts if he pitches an average of 7 innings per start. After that, he’ll begin to run into a fatigue problem. The same problem he’s had for the last 2 years. Clearly, the additions to the Red Sox starting rotation of Brad Penny and John Smoltz should give Terry Francona ample opportunities to rest Wakefield during the course of the season. Clay Buchholz is also in reserve if either Penny or Smoltz stumble, so it’s quite possible that Wakefield, while limited to a certain amount of innings, could still be very effective this season. It’s going to be up to the health of the other starting pitchers and Francona to insure that Wakefield is given the time off needed if the Red Sox hope to have him available for late September and the post-season.
It’s pretty obvious that this isn’t “new” news to the Red Sox front office. It explains why the Sox are currently so deep with starting pitching options. Right now, if you count Justin Masterson as a possible starter, the Red Sox have 8 potential starting pitchers. They are: Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Penny, Wakefield, Smoltz, Buchholz and Masterson with the possibility of a 9th starter in Michael Bowden if necessary. That kind of depth didn’t just happen. Theo Epstein has obviously made provisions for a starter needing rest or being injured. Now, perhaps we know at least one reason why the depth of the starting rotation was so important this off season.
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.”
“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.”
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.”
Good Luck Tito…..
Spring Training: Francona, Epstein News and Notes
By Chris Cue
February 13, 2009
When Terry Francona and Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein sat down with reporters yesterday, they had a few updates on players yet to report to camp and each shared his feelings on several subjects involving the team and individual players.
Regarding where Mike Lowell currently is health wise….
Epstein: “(The reports we hear have) been pretty good. We just got an update yesterday that he’s not
experiencing any pain or any symptoms and he’s doing some baseball
activities. He hasn’t really run yet full-fledged, and that’s going to
be an important step for him, but he’s hitting and doing some other
baseball activities. We’re going to take it slow. We’re going to hold
him back. We’re not focused on what he looks like on the report date or
when the first exhibition date happens. The whole rehab is built around
the proper timetable, which happens to coincide with getting him ready
for opening day.”
Regarding the amount of Minor League players in camp this year….
Francona: “I love it. We just went through our second day of meetings. Today it
was the pitchers. We probably have a unique amount of young guys in our
major league camp this year, and that’s by design. It probably makes
for a more exciting camp for me and the coaches. There are some younger
kids that are going to see some time in games that don’t need to be
ready to make our ballclub, but that still doesn’t make camp less
exciting. If anything, it will be fun to watch their progression, how
they handle themselves.”
Managements thoughts on Jacoby Ellsbury and what the expectations are for this year….
Epstein: “I think Jacoby’s already an impact defender and an impact baserunner,
and I think based on his track record in the minor leagues this is a
guy we all feel is going to hit and get on base enough to be a real
weapon offensively, more so than he already is. The league adjusted to
him last year. They found a hole and really exploited it, which is
really common with young hitters. Now it’s his turn to adjust back.
He’s got the talent level and I think the drive to make the adjustment.
It will be fun to watch him play. We also I think have a roster that
can protect him a little bit, where maybe he’s ready to take that next
step. If he’s not, I don’t think it’s going to sink our club either.
We’re pretty bullish on Ellsbury long-term. He needs a chance to play.”
Regarding the clubs long term plans for the Catching position….
Epstein: “We have a number of good young catchers in camp, George Kottaras, Dusty
Brown, Mark Wagner. That said, we’ve been up-front that it’s an area
where we’re still probably out there looking for our catcher of the
future. One of these guys in our camp, one of the young guys, wants to
step forward and prove that he’s that guy, that would be great. We’re
always open to opportunities to improve outside the organization.”
On information contained in Manny Ramirez’s new book “Becoming Manny”….
Francona: “I was asked last night about it and I saw some excerpts. In what little I did see, it sounded like (it didn’t belong) in the non-fiction area of Barnes & Noble. My recollection of
some of that isn’t anywhere close (to what is in the book). And that’s disappointing. I think it was obvious over the years we bent over backwards to be fair not just with Manny, but with all of our players while at the same time having them understand that they need to be
accountable for their actions. I don’t apologize for anything that
happened. I thought we did the best we could.”
It would be safe to assume that Tito thinks Manny is full of……..well, Manny.
Real baseball activities begin tomorrow with scheduled workouts for the Pitchers and Catchers that are on hand. I’ll update this blog with any new information that may come out during the day.