|06.10.09 at 2:18 pm ET|
YANKEES VS. TIM WAKEFIELD
The Yankees are hitting home runs at an insane pace this year, which would seem to make them a bad matchup for the flyball-inclined Tim Wakefield (or, in fairness, anyone else who makes his living on a mound). Traditionally, Wakefield gives up a ton of homers.
But not so through the early paces of this year. To date, Wakefield has allowed 0.6 homers per nine innings, the lowest rate for any Sox starter this year.
Derek Jeter (105) .313/.343/.444 3 HR 10 RBI
Alex Rodriguez (89) .276/.382/.566 7 HR 10 RBI
Jorge Posada (77) .222/.351/.429 3 HR 14 RBI
Johnny Damon (68) .317/.382/.600 4 HR 9 RBI
Hideki Matsui (53) .170/.264/.319 2 HR 3 RBI
Robinson Cano (38) .324/.342/.703 3 HR 9 RBI
Mark Teixeira (33) .207/.303/.310 HR 3 RBI
Angel Berroa (13) .500/.500/.750
Melky Cabrera (12) .455/.500/.636
Nick Swisher (7) .167/.286/.333
Brett Gardener (6) .200/.333/.200
Wakefield has yet to face Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Pena.
RED SOX VS. CHIEN-MING WANG
The Yankees had been hopeful that Chien-Ming Wang had turned the corner when he returned from the disabled list by allowing two earned runs in eighth innings spanning three appearances out of the bullpen. But the pitcher who was a top Cy Young contender just a couple years ago got hit hard in his last appearance, when he started (for the first time since April) against the Rangers on June 4. Wang allowed five runs in 4.2 innings, and his ERA as a starter this year now sits at an unsightly 23.62.
The Yankees can ill afford to give him too much of a leash, either in tonight’s game or in the rotation going forward, as a single weak spot in a rotation can be a huge impediment in the most challenging division in baseball. Because Wang’s performance this year has been so out of line with his career, it’s difficult to connect the dots between his past performances against batters and what he might do tonight.
Nonetheless, here’s his history against the Sox:
David Ortiz (42 career plate appearances).444 Avg./.524 OBP/.724 Slugging 2 HR, 11 RBI
Julio Lugo (41) .167/.268/.194
Kevin Youkilis (36) .296/.472/.407 1 HR
Mike Lowell (29) .208/.345/.250
Jason Varitek (23) .100/.217/.300 1 HR
JD Drew (18) .235/.278/.412
Dustin Pedroia (17) .313/.350/.500
Rocco Baldelli (14) .143/.143/.357 1 HR
Nick Green (8) .250/.250/.375
Mark Kotsay (6) .333/.333/.333
Jacoby Ellsbury (4) .250/.250/.250
Wang will face both Jason Bay and George Kottaras for the first time tonight.
Greg Cameron helped compile this report.
|06.10.09 at 2:06 pm ET|
Through 10 rounds, the Red Sox draft breaks down thusly:
4 high school position players
2 high school pitchers (both right-handed)
2 college position players
2 college pitchers
Here are the team’s choices for Rounds 5-10:
Round 5 (168 overall): Seth Schwindenhammer, outfielder, Limestone (IL) Community HS, 17 years old
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Schwindenhammer has a commitment to play at Illinois following a senior season when he tagged 15 homers. He comes from the same high school as Jim Thome. He sounds inclined to embrace a professional career.
‘Illinois has always been my dream school, the school I’ve rooted for since I was little,’ Schwindenhammer told the Journal-Star (Peoria, Ill.). ‘But at the same time, I don’t want to miss an opportunity and this is a pretty incredible opportunity.’
Round 6 (198): Brandon Kline, right-handed pitcher, Gov. Thomas Johnson (MD) HS, 17 years old
Kline has a commitment to pitch at the University of Virginia, but the Red Sox have consistently convinced players to forego offers to go to Charlottesville in recent years.
Round 7 (228): John Younginer, right-handed pitcher, Mauldin (SC) HS, 18 years old
Signed to play at Clemson, Baseball America suggestions that Younginer is a power arm who touched the mid-90s and features a plus-plus breaking ball. The Sox view him as a pitcher with a very high ceiling should they prove able to come to terms on a deal that would keep him out of college.
Round 8 (258): Shannon Wilkerson, outfielder, Augusta State Univ., 20 years old
Wilkerson dominated his competition en route to being named National Player of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Wilkerson informed the Gwinnett Daily Post that he foresees no problems in negotiations, and that he looks forward to starting his pro career with the Sox soon.
Round 9 (288): Kendal Volz, right-handed pitcher, Baylor Univ., 21 years old (college profile here)
Volz entered the year considered one of the elite college pitching prospects in the draft after serving as closer for Team USA last summer, a capacity in which he threw 14 shutout innings. Then, his fastball was a powerful, low-90s sinker. But after being shifted to the rotation this year, he struggled, and his stuff (both the velocity and life) diminished. If he can recapture what he was before his junior year, he could have significant upside.
Round 10 (318): Brandon Jacobs, outfielder, Parkview (GA) HS, 18 years old
A running back, but not that running back. The 18-year-old Jacobs is a two-sport star who was recruited by Auburn, where his two-sport talent formidable frame (5-foot-11, 240 pounds) might have led to echoes of Bo Jackson. However, Jacobs told the Gwinnett Daily Post that he and the Sox have already agreed in principle to a deal that would pay him second-round money, and so he will begin his professional career this summer.
|06.10.09 at 1:32 pm ET|
On Josh Beckett‘s recent success: ‘He’s been the guy we all look to. He’s put it together and he’s at the point now where he can pitch his game.’
On Beckett’s personality: ‘There is no pretense there. If he’s got something on his mind, he’ll tell you.’
On a missed hit-and-run last night: ‘I probably overdid it a little. Sometimes you need to just stay out of the way.’
On David Ortiz‘s 7-game hit streak and if he’s about to turn the corner: ‘I hope so. Last night’s swing was a real good swing. If he goes 0-4 tonight people will probably ask again, ‘what’s wrong with David?’ including David.
On Jed Lowrie and the seemingly fluid deadline for return from the DL: ‘He’s doing really well, taking BP. We don’t want to rush him too early because of our shortstop situation. Both wrists have gotten stronger. We want him to be ready to play. He just can’t play 50-60 innings after not playing in awhile.”
His thoughts on the Sox and the MLB draft: ‘I have no business giving my two cents into the draft. I may poke my head in there and wish everybody luck, but other than that I have no input into it.’
On the recently called-up Daniel Bard and other young players: ‘I think when a player [like Bard] acknowledges that he has something to learn, it creates a good atmosphere that we appreciate. It’s not like a kid gets called up and says, ‘Move over, I’ve arrived.’’
On how the team gauges pitching workloads: ‘We try to keep track of workload. We keep track of innings compared to years before. Lester’s jump in innings last year made us a little uncomfortable, but there’s no trouble with his arm. He’s as strong as a horse.’
|06.10.09 at 12:58 pm ET|
Alex Cora spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons as the back-up to Julio Lugo. But right now, the former Red Sox utilityman has helped to ensure that the Mets don’t need to contemplate a desperate move, which is how the Mets and virtually everyone else in Major League Baseball would view the acquisition of Lugo.
Jose Reyes has a torn hamstring tendon, and so, as Newsday reports, the dynamic Mets shortstop is likely sidelined for about a month. Cora, who was acquired by the Mets (on a one-year, $2 million deal) this offseason in part because the Mets imagined that he would be a perfect complement and mentor to Reyes (and outfield prospect Fernando Martinez), has been pressed into starting duty for the Mets. And he’s responded.
Cora, who has started four of the last five games for the Mets since returning from the disabled list on June 4, is hitting .304 with a .402 OBP. He has played his usual excellent defense, and has also earned enormous respect from his Mets teammates for playing through a painful thumb injury, as detailed in the New York Times yesterday.
As such, though one major-league source suggested that the Mets consider themselves in “dire straits” with regards to their shortstop situation, New York’s National League club is “not quite (so) desperate” as to have interest in Lugo. Multiple sources indicate that Lugo is available on the trade market, though the likelihood of a trade involving the shortstop, who still has roughly $15 million left on a contract that runs through 2010, seems very, very slim.
|06.10.09 at 12:20 pm ET|
The fourth round of the MLB draft has a fond place in the hearts of the Red Sox. It was, after all, in the fourth round of the 2003 process that the team plucked a Mississippi State closer with an explosive fastball named Jonathan Papelbon.
Though catcher Max Stassi had been connected to the Red Sox — indeed, Stassi’s father, Jim, suggested that he anticipated that the Sox would ignore slot bonus recommendations to sign his son — it was the Oakland A’s who pounced on the prep catching star from Yuba City, Fla., with the 12th pick of the fourth round. Stassi, considered a first- or sandwich-round talent, fell due to concerns about signability, as his father said that the catcher wanted Top 20 money to forego his commitment to UCLA.
Clemson’s Chris Dwyer, from Swampscott, Mass., was taken by the Royals in the fourth round, followed quickly by Dan Mahoney, a right-handed pitcher from Brighton, Mass., by way of UConn, was taken by the Marlins in the fourth round.
The Sox took the awesomely-named Jeremy Hazelbaker with their fourth-round pick, an outfielder from Ball State University who enjoyed a breakout campaign as a college junior. The leadoff hitter hit .429 with a .550 OBP, .724 slugging mark and 29 steals. Here is Hazelbaker’s profile from Ball State University.
Hazelbaker represents something of a departure from recent draft strategy for the Sox. In recent years, the Sox had concentrated most of their position player picks on high-school players with big upside. Hazelbaker is the first college position player drafted in the first five rounds since 2006, when the Sox grabbed Aaron Bates (3rd round) and Jon Still (4th round) in the early going.
|06.10.09 at 2:32 am ET|
The storyline might sound familiar: talented, multi-sport player who is a gifted pitcher and shortstop with pro baseball bloodlines gets selected by the Red Sox.
In 2008, it was first-rounder Casey Kelly, a pitcher/shortstop/quarterback whom the Sox gave $3 million to convince him to begin his professional career rather than go to college at Tennessee.
In 2009, it is Red Sox third-round pick David Renfroe, a quarterback, pitcher and shortstop at South Panola High School in Mississippi (just south of Memphis) with a scholarship offer to Ole Miss.
Like Kelly, the Sox will probably have to pay a hefty premium to convince Renfroe to forego college. Unlike Kelly, the Sox would like to see Renfroe develop as a shortstop and third baseman, rather than a pitcher.
|06.10.09 at 12:43 am ET|
Johnny Damon sounded more hopeful than optimistic. Funny to hear from a veteran on a Yankee team that was in sole possession of first place in the A.L. East, heading into Fenway Park before Tuesday night’s game against the Red Sox.
Then the Yankees, behind their $82.5 million dollar pitcher A.J. Burnett, went out and lost for a sixth straight time this season to Boston. They are a stunning 0-6 this season against the Red Sox. Even the most optimistic of Red Sox fans could not have imagined this. What gives?
“We’re definitely not happy about that,” Damon said. “We understand it’s baseball. They’ve taken it to us so far this year. We have 13 more against them this season. Hopefully, we’ll mix in a win sometime soon and a lot more as the season progresses.” Read the rest of this entry »
|06.09.09 at 10:16 pm ET|
Outfielder Reymond Fuentes, taken by the Red Sox in the first round (28th overall) of the draft, just concluded a conference call. He admitted surprise at being selected by the Sox, a team about whom he admittedly knew little. Case in point: he thought that G.M. Theo Epstein was the team’s scouting director. Fuentes said that he had not met with either Epstein or amateur scouting director Jason McLeod. (He had met with officials from the Rangers, Tigers and Diamondbacks.)
“I didn’t know that I was going to get picked by Boston, but I’m very excited,” said Fuentes.
Fuentes said that he heard from his cousin, Carlos Beltran, who called him in the middle of a Mets game. He said that he is very close to Beltran, a player whose game Fuentes patterns himself on. The outfielder, described as having elite speed, insists that his foremost tool is his blazing ability to track balls.
“My strength is my legs. I’m very fast, and the only thing that is a problem is my throwing mechanics. That’s the only thing I think I have to work on,” said Fuentes, who moved from his native Florida to Puerto Rico when he was nine years old. “When I had at-bats and I had to sacrifice bunt, I just put down the bunt and started running. I realized that it was not too often that they could get me out. On defense, I have good range, and cover a lot of space and ground in the outfield.”
Fuentes is listed at six feet tall, and he weighs 165 pounds. He said that he wants to add weight to build out his frame a bit. He says that despite his slight frame, he does carry some pop.
“If I find a ball inside and I (have) a good swing, I know it’s going to be over the fence. I’m thin but I’m strong,” said Fuentes. “I can hit for power. But my game is slap the ball and start running.”
Fuentes took great pride in having been the first Puerto Rican first-rounder in several years.
“Being in the first round from Puerto Rico is amazing. I’m very excited,” said Fuentes. “I thank God everyday for giving me the tools to be a first rounder.”
|06.09.09 at 10:04 pm ET|
The Red Sox took right-hander Alex Wilson, a pitcher out of Texas A&M, with their second-round selection. Wilson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007, transferred from Winthrop University to Texas A&M for the 2008 season. The 22-year-old, who was born in Saudi Arabia, was converted by the Aggies from the rotation to the bullpen this year. He is considered a power pitcher whom the Sox thought about drafting in 2007, after he underwent surgery.
|06.09.09 at 9:37 pm ET|
“I don’t want to be a distraction for this team,” Ramirez said. “What happened, happened. I spoke to (owner) Frank McCourt, I apologized, I spoke to Joe, my teammates and I’m ready to move on.
“I didn’t kill nobody, I didn’t rape nobody, so that’s it, I’m just going to come and play the game.”
Ramirez, who is in the midst of a 50-game suspension, is eligible to return to the Dodgers for their July 3 game at San Diego, barring any rainouts.
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