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Hall of Famer Dick Williams passes away

07.07.11 at 5:40 pm ET
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Dick Williams – the man who managed the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox of 1967 – died Thursday at his Las Vegas-area home of a brain aneurysm. He was 82.

Williams also led the Oakland A’€™s to two of their three 1970s World Series titles and led the 1984 Padres to their first-ever National League pennant.

In 21 years of managing, Williams compliled a record of 1571-1451 and earned a place in Cooperstown by making a career of turning losers into winners. He took a ninth-place Red Sox team in 1966 and led them to 92 wins, 20 more than the previous season. The Red Sox came within one win of capturing the ’67 World Series, losing 4-3 to St. Louis.

He was the legendary manager of the A’s, leading them to World Series victories over the Reds and Mets. He was also at the helm of the Angels, Expos and Mariners, where he was fired 56 games into the 1988 season.

Williams was inducted into the baseball hall of fame by the Veterans Committee in Dec. 2007 and elected to wear a A’s cap, despite his numerous run-ins with former Oakland owner Charlie Finley, who hired him before the 1971 season, the first of five straight AL West titles. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, California Angels, Dick Williams, hall of fame

Matt Wieters: Kevin Millwood ‘one of smartest pitchers I’ve ever caught’

07.07.11 at 5:21 pm ET
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As of last Sunday, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will forever be known as a major-league All-Star. And when All-Stars talk, people tend to listen.

So when the Baltimore backstop addressed current Red Sox minor leaguer Kevin Millwood, whom Wieters caught for in 23 games during Millwood’€™s 31-start, one-year tenure with the Orioles last season, he did so with more than just a little authority behind it.

Millwood had the worst season of his 14-year career in the bigs while wearing an O’s uniform in 2010, no thanks to a 5.10 ERA and 4-16 record with those 16 losses being an AL-high for the year. But while some saw those numbers as a signal that the 36-year-old veteran’€™s career was one in decline, Wieters disagreed.

‘€œKevin had some bad breaks early,’€ Wieters said. ‘€œThere were games where he gave us a chance and we were in it, we just couldn’€™t get enough runs for him in the beginning of the year. I think that can put some struggles on the pitchers when they’€™re pitching well and they’€™re not quite getting the wins to go with it to start the year. He’€™s a guy that always battled for us.’€

In fact, Wieters is right in his assessment, at least when it comes to the topic of Millwood’€™s bad breaks in the early months of 2010. Through 11 starts in the months of April and May, the tall righty had an ERA of 3.89. His record during that stretch? A paltry 0-4. All 11 games were decided by three runs or less and the O’€™s won four of those contests, but Millwood was never the direct benefactor of those decisions, leading to ‘€“ as Wieters would say ‘€“ the struggles that saw his ERA drop into the five’€™s by season’€™s end.

By the end of that horrible 2010 campaign, Millwood’€™s chances at making another big-league roster in 2011 looked bleak. He would sign a minor-league deal with the Yankees during the last offseason before opting out of that contract and signing with the Sox in May. But if it was up to Wieters, the pitcher would have been back in the majors as soon as possible.

‘€œHe’€™s one of the smartest pitchers that I’€™ve ever caught,’€ said the catcher. ‘€œIf he still has as close to the stuff that he used to have, he’€™ll be able to pitch at this level. I’€™m surprised he hasn’€™t been up so far this year because he has that ability, that pitch ability to where if he doesn’€™t have that A stuff, he can still get you through six, seven innings.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

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Trade Deadline: Dodgers could stand pat

07.07.11 at 2:15 pm ET
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With a 37-51 record and ownership of last place in the NL West, the Dodgers would appear to be the prototypical seller this trading season. But they may actually decide to keep all of their pieces in place as one MLB general manager tells FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.

Los Angeles’ NL team is expected to keep its best players in All-Stars Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw as well as Andre Ethier and Chad Billingsley to make itself look more attractive to both fans and even potential new owners.

Still outside of those four, there are still potentially valuable tradechips that the Dodgers possess, but the boys in blue may even keep those. Hiroki Kuroda (6-9, 2.90 ERA) has a no-trade clause and would need some sort of compensation, whether it be a contract extension or financial bonus of some sort, to waive such a clause. The lefty starter already makes $12 million on his current one-year deal. The team could also retain the services of Jamey Carroll because of the low price other teams would pay for a guy who would only serve as a solid utilityman on their rosters.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Hiroki Kuroda, Jamey Carroll, Los Angeles Dodgers

Trade Deadline: Reds, Rockies not jumping ship yet

07.07.11 at 1:54 pm ET
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With the two teams just eight and 10 1/2 games back of the National League Wild Card-leading Braves respectively with less than half a season left to go, neither the Reds nor the Rockies are expected be testing the selling waters of the trade market in the immediate lead-up to the July 31 trade deadline.

Reds GM Walt Jocketty said that despite his team’s even 44-44 record, he will not add or subtract a player or two just to mix things up in the hopes of livening up his squad, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“I don’t normally react that way,” Jocketty said. “If I make a move, I do so not to shake things up but to make the club better.”

The Rockies, on the other hand, seem to be in more dire straits as they stand below .500 at 41-46.  According to The Denver Post, if anything Colorado will look to make additions to its pitching as well as one to its outfield. The Post only mentions former All-Star starting pitcher Aaron Cook and third baseman Ian Stewart, both of whom have struggled on the field with injuries in 2011, as pieces that the Rockies would be willing to let go. Meanwhile, they are expected to hold onto closer Huston Street and utilityman Ty Wigginton, who are expected to be more attractive trade pieces for contenders come the end of the month.

Colorado has already inquired about Twins starters, including Francisco Liriano, but Minnesota is similarly looking to hold out until it knows it is absolutely out of the running in both the AL Central and the Wild Card races.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Cincinnati Reds, colorado rockies,

Trade Deadline: Carlos Beltran a target for Red Sox?

07.07.11 at 12:16 pm ET
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According to a report from Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, the Mets are “listening” to potential trade offers for outfielder Carlos Beltran.

The Yankees have no interest in the 34-year-old Beltran, according to Kernan, but he reports that the Red Sox could be a landing spot. Beltran is in the final year of his seven-year, $119 million contract and is owed about $8 million for the rest of the 2011 season. The right fielder has 13 homers, 57 RBI and a National League-leading 26 doubles this season.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, carlos beltran,

Nuggetpalooza: Strollin’ through the box score

07.07.11 at 12:05 pm ET
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I dissected the box score from last night’s Red Sox win and came up with a few nuggets you will hopefully find interesting, along with some other statistical bits:


* – The Red Sox led off the first (Jacoby Ellsbury) and second innings (Kevin Youkilis) with home runs last night, the first time they’ve led off the first two innings with homers since July 2, 2006, when Youkilis and Jason Varitek turned the trick in Florida.

Note this: Since 1950, I couldn’t find a single instance where the Red Sox have homered in each of the first three innings of a game… and as it turned out, they still haven’t done it.


* – Last night, both teams led off the first inning with an extra-base hit, as Toronto’s Yunel Escobar doubled off the wall and Boston’s Ellsbury homered. It was the first time since October 2, 2009 against Cleveland that the Red Sox and their opponent have started the game with an EBH. To find the one prior to that, you have to go back to the game referenced above, July 2, 2006.


* – Ellsbury and Youkilis each collected three extra-base hits last night, the first time a pair of Red Sox teammates have had 3+ EBH in a game since Wily Mo Pena and Manny Ramirez on July 26, 2007. The Red Sox also pulled it off twice in 2006 (Eric Hinske/Mark Loretta and Mike Lowell/David Ortiz). It was only the third time in the Blue Jays’ existence that two opposing players had three extra-base hits in a single game, the last coming in 2004.


* – In the fourth inning last night, the Red Sox forced Jays’ starter Ricky Romero to throw 38 pitches, the 57th time this season that a Red Sox opponent has needed 30 or more pitches in an inning:

57 – Red Sox
44 – Braves
43 – Nationals
43 – Cubs

Note this: The White Sox have forced opponents into just 21 innings of 30+ pitches. Red Sox opponents have thrown 30 or more 19 times in just the first and second innings alone!


* – The Red Sox batted around in that fourth inning last night, the league leading 17th time they’ve done it this season. The Rockies are second with 16, while the Indians have done it 15 times. 13 of the Red Sox’ 17 “bat arounds” have come since May 20.


* – Romero allowed six extra-base hits to the Red Sox last night, the most he’s ever allowed in a game. His streak of 78 starts without allowing six EBH was still well behind the top three active such streaks:

146 – Rich Harden
141 – Jon Lester
140 – Tim Lincecum


* – With Escobar collecting four hits for Toronto last night, the Red Sox have now won the last three times that an opponent has had four or more hits in a game. Prior to this streak, they had lost 29 of the last 35 such games.


* – Red Sox pitchers struck out 12 Blue Jays on Wednesday. It was the second time in their last four games that they’ve fanned a total of 12 or more. Prior to that, they hadn’t struck out as many as 12 in any of their previous 43 games. That 43-gamer was their longest such streak since 2008, when they went 45 games without 12+ whiffs.


* – Jonathan Papelbon has now faced three or more batters 34 times this season and retired them in order 10 times. In his first 34 such appearances last year, he was perfect 14 times. He did record three strikeouts for the third time this season (and second time this month).


* – The Red Sox are a major league best 13-2 on Sundays this season, a bit better than the Yankees and Mets, who are each 11-4. The Red Sox on other weekdays:

Monday – 5-4
Tuesday – 4-9
Wednesday – 6-7
Thursday – 7-2
Friday – 9-5
Saturday – 7-6


* – Speaking of Sunday, this coming Sunday is get away day for the all-star break. The Red Sox have won their last three get away games, but in their seven such games since 2004 are hitting just .204, the lowest such average in the majors in that span:

.204 – Red Sox
.228 – Marlins
.241 – Tigers

Note this: The Rockies have won just one of their last 11 games on the Sunday prior to the all-star break.

Is there a 3,000-hit candidate on the Red Sox roster?

07.07.11 at 11:57 am ET
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So it’s going to happen, probably this weekend. For the 3,000th time, Captain Intangibles himself is going to will a ball away from the opposition and join 27 others in the 3,000-hit club (his eyes, as always, will be calm as the fist pumps and Buck, McCarver and Waldman do the weeping for him).

Derek Jeter will become the first player to wear a Yankees uniform while reaching the 3,000-hit plateau, which is surprising until you really think about it. Babe Ruth? A career .342 hitter, sure, but he walked all the time (10 seasons with at least 120 walks, zero with 200 hits). We know why Lou Gehrig fell short. Joe DiMaggio only played 13 seasons. Mickey Mantle was always injured.

Something else that might surprise you at first glance is this: Only one player — Carl Yastrzemski — got to 3,000 hits in a Sox uniform. As of July 7, 2011, the San Diego Padres have had more players collect career hit No. 3,000 than the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox combined.

And with Jeter a day or week or whenever away from reaching the inevitable, I figured it would be as good a time as any to take a look at the current Sox roster and see if there is a legitimate candidate to one day get to 3,000 hits and that free weekend in Cooperstown (non-Balco division).

Jacoby Ellsbury (Odds of reaching 3,000 hits: 500-1)

Already has a 188-hit season on his resume and is on pace for an even 200 hits this season. But he’s already 27 years old (he’ll turn 28 in September — he’s ranked 23rd in career hits among players born in 1983) and has only 456 hits in his career, fewer than 27-year-old guys like Adam Lind or Edwin Encarnación (a career .257 hitter, but Encarnación started playing at age 22 and has almost 800 more career at-bats than Ellsbury). If Ellsbury can A) stay healthy (think at least 145 games a season) and B) starts cranking out 200-hit seasons like he’s Wade Boggs (another guy who really didn’t get started until his mid-20’s) over the next 10 years he’s got a chance.

Even if both happened and he averaged 200 hits a year for the next decade (which isn’t going to happen), he’d still be 500 or so hits shy at age 37, with his speed presumably diminished. There is zero historical precedent to suggest that Ellsbury has a real shot at 3,000.

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After a ‘needed day off’ Kevin Youkilis comes back swinging

07.07.11 at 12:46 am ET
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No one has been hit more in Red Sox history than Kevin Youkilis. So when he got hit for the 77th time in his career Monday by Brandon Morrow of the Blue Jays, most figured that he would just shake it off like he has many times before and not be any worse for it.

But this was different. It was a pitch that hit him in a very tender part of his left shoulder. And he knew pretty soon after that he would need at least a day to recover. So, he got that day on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, he took out his revenge on Toronto lefty Ricky Romero with a laser beam of a homer to left in his first at-bat in the second, while adding a pair of doubles in his return. He helped Tim Wakefield earn his 198th career win with a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays.

“It was a needed day off,” Youkilis said. “I didn’t feel like I could go out there and play and it would probably get worse. It was a little tight today but it was good enough to go in there and play. Hopefully, [Thursday] wake up and feel even better. It was just good to get that win for Wake.”

Ironically, Youkilis came back on the same day that Adrian Gonzalez missed his first game with the Red Sox due to a stiff neck. Youk batted fifth and played first base for the first time since last August. But Youkilis was focused on Romero and not last year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tim Wakefield is ‘very proud’ of what’s he’s done this year

07.07.11 at 12:01 am ET
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It doesn’t seem that long ago in the middle of spring training in Fort Myers when the career of Tim Wakefield appeared very close to – if not at – the end.

Here was a 44-year-old knuckleballer looking for a roster spot in a rotation that included Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey. The bullpen had been restocked and reloaded with names like Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler and Matt Albers to go with Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon.

Where could Wakefield possibly fit in?

Well, Matsuzaka has had Tommy John surgery. Buchholz is out with a bad back until at least after the All-Star break and Lester joined Buchholz on the 15-day DL Wednesday with a strain of his left side. Not only is Wakefield wanted. He is needed – desperately – and on Wednesday night, just three weeks shy of his 45th birthday, he gave the Red Sox seven innings and led them to a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays.

“Very satisfying,” Wakefield said. “I knew I had to go deep in the game today, even though we had some back-up with Atch getting called up today but the bullpen’s been taxed pretty heavily the last couple of days. It’s something as a starting pitcher you take a lot of pride in, to get deep in the game and try to preserve those guys for the next series.

“I take a lot of pride because it was my job coming into this year. I’m getting an opportunity to help us win in whatever capacity that might be this year. I’m very proud of the job I’ve done so far.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, knuckleball, MLB, Terry Francona

Closing time: Ellsbury, Sox roll over Romero, Jays

07.06.11 at 10:28 pm ET
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Ricky Romero is one of the top pitchers in the American League. Just don’t tell that to the Red Sox.

The Sox continued their dominance against Romero (7-8) on Wednesday night in a 6-4 victory. Coming into the game, Romero had a 2.75 ERA that ranked as the ninth best in the league. However, in his career, he had a 2-5 record with a 7.69 ERA in 10 games against the Sox.

After allowing six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings Wednesday night his lifetime ERA increased to 8.08 against the Red Sox. It is his worst ERA against any major league opponent.

The Red Sox entered the bottom of the fourth trailing 3-2, but erupted with five straight hits all with two outs, and scored four runs in the process to take a 6-3 lead. The Red Sox seemed to be all over Romero’€™s fastball.

J.D. Drew started the rally with his first double since May 9 off the center field wall. Darnell McDonald followed with a single to score Drew. Then, Yamaico Navarro and Jacoby Ellsbury had back-to-back doubles, with Navarro’€™s scoring McDonald and Ellsbury’€™s scoring Jarrod Saltalamachhia, who had singled earlier, and Navarro.

Kevin Youkilis and Ellsbury each hit solo home runs to account for the first two runs.

Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield (5-3) didn’€™t have his best stuff early on, but settled down to finish his outing with seven strong innings, giving the bullpen a much needed rest in the process. The bullpen had worked 11 2/3 innings the past two days after John Lackey did not make it out of the third inning on Monday and Jon Lester left the game with a left lat strain after the fourth inning in Tuesday night’€™s game.

Wakefield only allowed three runs and nine hits, striking out seven. This was career win number 198 for the knuckleballer. Daniel Bard (who recorded two outs in the eighth before the rain delay), Dan Wheeler and Jonathan Papelbon (one run in the ninth) recorded the last six outs.


Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-5 with 2 doubles, a home run and 3 RBIs. The leadoff hitter achieved a career high with his 10th homer of the year, while also going deep against a left-handed pitcher for the first time this year. He also matched a career-high with three extra-base hits, and for good measure, added some excellent plays in center and stole a base.

– J.D. Drew started the two out rally in the fourth inning with a double off the center field wall, his first double since May 9. He also made a nice running catch in deep right field to rob Blue Jays right fielder Travis Snider of a hit and end the fourth inning, before Wakefield had settled in.

– Returning from a day off Tuesday and playing first base to give Adrian Gonzalez his first day off of the season, Kevin Youkilis had a solid night, going 3-for-4 including the home run in the second inning. It was his third career home run off the Blue Jays starter. He also added two doubles for his second three extra-base hit game of the year.

Tim Wakefield went seven innings, throwing 106 pitches. Wakefield did not allow a run after the third inning. He looked a lot better than he did in his two previous starts where he had allowed five runs in both outings, not making it past the sixth inning in either start.


– After pinch hitting for Darnell McDonald in the fifth inning after Romero left the game, Josh Reddick lined into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and second. Reddick also struck out in his next plate appearance.

Jarrod Saltamacchia allowed three passed balls while catching the knuckleballer Wakefield. Entering the game he had allowed seven on the year.

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