|02.01.10 at 1:16 pm ET|
As Lou Merloni pointed out in this blog entry, both the Red Sox and Yankees struggled against a set of pitchers with arguably the best stuff in the American League. As Lou documents, Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, John Lackey and Matt Garza did not discriminate when it came to shutting down their opponents (except for Greinke, who shut out the Sox for six innings but never faced the Yankees).
The group had a combined 6-4 record and 2.42 ERA against the Red Sox; against New York, those six pitchers went 6-3 with a 2.16 ERA. This is an illustration of Lou’s conclusion, that “nobody hits good pitching.” And, certainly, there’s some truth to that.
That said, the Yankees did a far better job than the Sox in 2009 of beating up on the second tier of pitchers — hurlers who may have fallen short of the Cy Young-caliber greatness of pitchers like Greinke, Hernandez, Halladay and Verlander, but who were still above average.
To wit: in 2009, the Sox faced 20 of the 42 pitchers who had a sub-4.00 ERA in 162 or more innings. That group (in 36 starts) went 15-10 with a 2.72 ERA, meaning that they offered a reasonable facsimile of a season’s worth of Halladay (who finished the year with a 17-10 record and 2.79 ERA for the Blue Jays).
The Yankees faced 20 of the 42 pitches who finished the year with a sub-4.00 ERA while qualifying for the ERA title. That group (in 43 starts) went 16-12 with a 3.99 ERA against New York, numbers more in line with pitchers like Jason Marquis (15-13, 4.04), A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04), and Joe Blanton (12-8, 4.05) — all pitchers who enjoyed solid years, but none of whom even sniffed Cy Young contention.
So, the Sox’ problems last year — at least one of the areas in which they suffered by comparison with their New York rivals — was less their inability to beat elite pitching (something that generally should plague any offense) than it was the ability to handle more modest opponents.
On a very separate note: Sons of Sam Horn is currently conducting its Jimmy Fundraiser auction. There are some excellent items in there, with all proceeds going to the Jimmy Fund. Check it out by clicking here.
|01.31.10 at 1:30 am ET|
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, in his weekly appearance on Saturday’s Mut & Bradford show, touched on the state of the Red Sox and the final stages of his offseason. Pedroia was back in his hometown of Woodland, Calif., to take part in clinics with some of the young players in the town and to take part in a fundraiser.
Pedroia suggested that the town of Woodland helped to define his attitude as a player, and he offered words of inspiration for those who would seek to replicate his career path.
“I definitely got my trash-talking from here, that’s a fact,” Pedroia said. “Trash-talking, it starts at a young age. It can even start at 3, 4 years old and then moving up. The more you talk trash, the better you become at it.”
Pedroia also offered his thoughts on the state of the Sox entering the 2010 season. A transcript of highlights is below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.
On how the 2010 team shapes up:
When we go into a series, whatever team you’re playing, you look at the starting pitchers you’re facing. That gives you an idea of what to expect that series. I’m sure when an opposing team comes in and they’re facing [John] Lackey, [Josh] Beckett, [Jon] Lester, or you could throw out combinations left and right with our staff, that’s a pretty tough challenge for the opposing team. And offensively, they know we’re going to take a lot of pitches, we’re going to walk, we’ve got power in the middle of our lineup. We can score runs in a thousand different ways. Good pitching and defense wins, and an offense that’s relentless and finds way to score runs, can beat you with a three-run homer, can beat you on the bases — Ellsbury can do it, I can steal some bases, [Marco] Scutaro can steal — we can score runs in a thousand different ways.
I really love our club. Obviously Theo [Epstein] did a great job in signing Lackey and getting guys who fit our club. We’re excited. We feel we have a great team and can compete with everybody.
On playing the first game of the season on Sunday night:
I think it’s great. We’re opening up the season in front of everybody in front of the world champs. … We’re the first game of the season playing against the world champs. We want to see what type of team we have. We feel great about our team, and we’re not even in spring training yet.
On Daniel Bard and the bullpen:
You hear about the electric stuff, obviously throwing 100 mph, his slider — every pitch he has in an out pitch. You hear about all that stuff. … My biggest thing that I noticed with him is his makeup. When he grabs the ball, the presence he has on the mound, you don’t really see that, especially as a young guy. … That back-end of our bullpen is a force. It’s definitely a big part of our club.
On his favorite pitch to hit:
High inside fastball, man. Don’t let that [video game] commercial fool you. When you’re coming in the kitchen, you better bring the noise. … That’s my favorite pitch to hit, the ball up and in. I’ve got real short arms. A lot of guys need to get extended to hit for power, but I’ve got short arms, so anything closer to my body, I can definitely drive out of the ballpark.
|01.29.10 at 4:10 pm ET|
Speaking at an event announcing the six winners — one from each state in New England — of a 2010 Opening Night VIP Experience, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein met with reporters to touch on a variety of topics. The following is what Epstein said while attending the event in the home clubhouse at Fenway Park:
Best way to get excited about spring training is to have a snow storm. We’re definitely ready to get down there.
- [Have you talked to any players recently about coming into spring training?] I talked to a couple of guys but not specifically about the start of spring training. Just checking in and following up on a couple of issues.
- [Have you talked to Mike Lowell recently?] I haven’t talked to him in a while. I talked to his agent a couple of weeks ago.
- [How do you feel about your team?] This time of year most look down at the roster and on paper feel pretty good about it. Then in early October there’s only eight teams that still feel good, and then at the end of October there’s only one that feels good. We’ll see. You always feel pretty good about your depth. In our club’s case what we feel good about is how well-rounded we are. A lot has been made about moving in a different direction with our defense, but that’s not really what we did. We made an attempt to become well-rounded and be good in all areas.
- [What spots on the team will be open to competition?] Hard to say, maybe the last spot in the bullpen. There’s no one bench job that’s open, but based on how a lot of guys play, we could align the bench a number of different ways.
- [What is the possibility of adding any more arms to the bullpen?] We can always add depth and create competition in spots. There is already some competition. With the numbers in the ‘pen, we have to whittle it down. We’re always on the lookout for more additions if they make sense. We don’t necessarily have great opportunities to sell at this point with certain aspects of our club, but if somebody is prepared for some competition maybe we could be the right landing spot for some guys on a minor league deal.
- [How is Mike Lowell progressing physically?] It’s going well. He’s on schedule to be swinging a bat some point soon. By the time March rolls around he should be getting close to the point of playing in games.
- [How has Jed Lowrie been progressing?] He’s doing well. His wrist has held up to all of his offseason workouts so far. It’s good news for him so far.
- [How is the organization's relationship with Daisuke Matsuzaka?] He was apologetic about not being more forthcoming and seems to be working hard to make up for it.
- [Have there been any negotiations with Victor Martinez or Josh Beckett?] Any negotiations with any of our own guys we keep quiet. We don’t even acknowledge if they’re going on or not. It’s just the best way to get things done and in the best interest of the team.
- [Regarding a perceived policy against negotiating with players during the season:] I never said that. We did David Ortiz during the season. We did Beckett during the season. Bay. If I think it will be a distraction, we won’t do it. But there’s no straight policy one way or another. I don’t expect to do it as a matter of course, but I wouldn’t put limitations on things we can or can’t do as an organization. Whatever the player is comfortable with.
- [Thoughts on having extra starting pitchers:] Been around teams that have deep starting pitching on paper, and by the time the team begins the season you can’t find a starting pitcher to take the ball. I don’t see that as a problem, I see that as a potential asset. It’s not worth wasting time thinking about it or talking about it until you get to a point during the regular season when you have more than five guys healthy and can do a good job starting ballgames. We’re not at that point right now.
|01.29.10 at 12:07 pm ET|
Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning. He discussed the state of affairs at Fenway Park, both with the ballclub and with ballpark renovations. Topics included the relative merits of staying in Fenway vs. building a new ballpark, the organization’s emphasis on pitching and defense this offseason, the medical concerns about Jason Bay, and whether Senator-elect Scott Brown or Dr. Charles Steinberg might be seen in Fenway Park anytime soon.
Lucchino also reminded fans that the majority of single-game tickets for the 2010 season will go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m., both via the team’s website (redsox.com) or by calling 888-REDSOX-6. Tickets will go on sale at the Fenway Park box office on Monday morning.
A transcript of the interview is below. To listen to the interview, click here.
Had you built a new ballpark, would the scarcity of tickets have been resolved?
You think we should have replaced Fenway Park with a new ballpark? You still believe that? So much for conservatism. How about some radical change?
We are convinced more than ever that we did exactly the right thing by preserving, protecting, enhancing, improving, expanding Fenway Park. If you’d like to take a referendum of your fan base, feel free. Ballparks are being built with the capacity we have. We have 37,373 seats. And we add standing room to that. So we’re very close to the number you’re talking about in any event. We’re very close to the capacity of the new ballparks that are being built. Oakland is talking about building a ballpark that’s even smaller than Fenway Park.We’re at about the right number. We really are. No one wants to sit in a ballpark that’s empty, or that has considerable patches of emptiness. Read the rest of this entry »
|01.29.10 at 1:10 am ET|
The Red Sox have signed catcher Gustavo Molina to a minor league contract. The 27-year-old Molina — who is no relation to the catching brothers, Javier, Bengie, and Yadier Molina — spent last season in the Washington Nationals organization, playing in 72 games for Triple A Syracuse.
Molina last played in the major leagues with the New York Mets, appearing in two games in the 2008 season. The Venezuela native played in combined 17 big league games with the Orioles and White Sox in ’07. He has four hits in 34 at-bats (.118) during his time in the majors.
After 762 minor league games Molina has a career .235 batting average with 46 home runs.
|01.28.10 at 12:47 pm ET|
Former Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin checked in with the Dale & Holley show Thursday morning and said he is done with baseball. “This past summer I had signed with the Rockies,” the 43-year-old workhorse said. “I talked to [general manager] Dan O’Dowd, and the timing didn’t work out. I was throwing the ball really well — still had a good cutter, still had a good fastball, good sinker. The timing just wasn’t right. They didn’t need a short guy, they needed a long guy. I wasn’t willing to just hang around the minor leagues. I’ve done that for a while, and I’m good with that. I was happy being home.”
When asked by guest host Lou Merloni if he was retired, Timlin responded: “Yeah, I am.” Referring to last season’s comeback attempt with Colorado, he said: “My family was fine with it, my body was fine, and God said, ‘Look, it’s not the time.’ I can basically look at the door and close it and be happy and turn around and do whatever I want to do. I definitely don’t have the desire to say, ‘Wow, maybe I can try one more time.’ ”
Timlin spent six years with the Red Sox, going 30-22 with a 3.76 ERA in 394 regular season games and 0-1 with a 4.11 ERA in a team-record 28 postseason appearances. He retires with 1,058 career regular-season appearances, the seventh most in big-league history.
To listen to the complete interview, click here.
|01.27.10 at 5:32 pm ET|
Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons of the MLB Network said that the Red Sox reduced their offer to Jason Bay from four years to two years because they “were scared to death of his knees” after a physical revealed the possibility of surgery. Gammons noted that the Mets were the only team that aggressively pursued Bay in a long-term deal, suggesting that such a conservative approach could be attributed to other teams’ concerns about the outfielder’s health.
“The Mets were the only team that were in on Jason,” said Gammons. “There were serious physical concerns that were there. Dr. Gill thought it was a tremendous risk to be giving him a four-year contract.”
A transcript is below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.
What was happening with the Jason Bay situation, with the Red Sox requesting surgery as a condition of the contract?
No they didn’t do that though. Joe Urbon also said no. They said there is a possibility that you might need surgery if this thing gets any worse. They didn’t tell him he had to have surgery, that wasn’t a condition.
So what happened with Jason Bay and the Red Sox?
They wanted him, but they were scared to death of his knees. I never got the impression from either side, from his agents or his club, that the shoulder was that big of a deal. But they were really afraid of both knees and that’s why they dropped the offer from four years to two years.
Somebody said to me, “Gee, there was only one team that went after him the Mets.” I said, “Yeah, you don’t think that the Angels have requested MRIs? You don’t think the Mariners have requested? They weren’t in on him either.”
The Mets were the only team in on Jason, which is unfortunate because he played his heart out for that team. He’s a great guy but there were serious physical concerns that were there, and Dr. Gill thought it was a tremendous risk to giving him a four-year contract without any questions. John Lackey went with [a contract with conditions] and JD Drew went with it.
Bay’s people made it sound like the Red Sox doctors were the only ones who felt that way about the physical.
Yeah, but again, and I have great respect for [Red Sox team physician, Dr.] Tom Gill, the other opinions they had there were questioned by the agent. It’s a he-said, she-said. The fact is Tom Gill was very afraid of it, as were the other orthopedics at Mass General, and when the club studied it they said they didn’t want to guarantee four years.
How much pressure does this put on a David Oritz or other guys in the lineup to produce?
I don’t think terribly. There are guys that are going to hit .267. The question is the depth of the lineup. That’s very important. I think when you face [Jake] Peavy and [AJ] Burnett, the really good breaking ball pitchers around the league you are going to see [Jeremy] Hermida play left field and [Jacoby] Ellsbury play centerfield. They have a lot more depth. The question that has been raised several times is will Jason Bay hit more home runs for the Mets than Adrian Beltre hits for the Red Sox?
Are you not as concerned about the 2010 Red Sox as other people might be?
So you think they are going to lose 100 runs? They scored more runs last year. They scored more runs than 2007 when they won the World Series.
I just think they are much better defensively, their pitching is better and the depth of the lineup being able to hit left handed pitchers with [Mike] Cameron, who has been over a .957 OPS guy the last five years against left handed pitchers, Hermida, who I think will blossom in this ballpark and the fact that, next to the Yankees, will have the best one through four in the league. I think Victor Martinez, he and [Kevin] Youklis are probably as good a 1-2 combination [as there is] in the league. They have the best No. 2 hitter [Dustin Pedroia] in the league and if Ellsbury continues to come the way he did in the second half of last year when he started to be able to pull the ball, then their top four will be really, really good.
Where does Tim Wakefield fit in to all of this? He sounds like he doesn’t want to be anything but a full-time starter.
He should have that intention. The problem that I have, the issue is going to come up with 10 days to go in spring training, is Wakefield going to be or who is going to be the guy left out of the rotation? We all know in April you can’t go with six starters, because there are rainouts, there are days off, etc. The issue will come up at the end of spring training, but it’s a lot better than having 55 games started by guys that compiled a 6.28 starters ERA, as happened last year.
He will give the Red Sox insurance if they lose a starting pitcher.
I agree with that. The depth thing, I remember reading a piece on ESPN.com at this time last year that the problem at this time last year was that the Red Sox had too much starting pitching, as you just mentioned. Those 55 games in which they had the 6.28 ERA, if they had a 5.50 ERA they win over 100 games last year. Pitching depth can disappear so fast. I’ve been talking with a lot of people about the Giants and how the Giants think they can be competitive. If [Tim] Lincecum or Matt Cain goes out for 40 days, they probably win 72 games. They have no depth after those two guys. The idea that you have too much is a fallacy and that’s why I think it was very important for the Yankees to get [Javier] Vazquez because you could see that starting pitching staff blowing up without a 200-inning guy in addition to what they already had.
What about having Wakefield be this year’s John Smoltz and bring him along slowly?
I agree. I think that’s something they may do just to make sure. He’s just worked so hard. …
It’s been an amazing career in Boston — what he’s done and when he got taken off the roster in ’99 and some of the insults that he’s had to endure. If I were Tim Wakefield, I’d have a monumental chip on my shoulder. Instead, he is always Mr. Team. He can say right now, “I damn well should be in the rotation,” but we know if they ask him to save them in the bullpen, I mean one year he was starter, closer, or pitch on two or three days rest, amazing. I think that will all work out. I agree with you. I would rather have Tim Wakefield healthy in August and September then have him break down. He made a great point and I read the story on him and he said, “You know, I was on the All-Star team last year.”
I remember interviewing Joe Maddon on one of the off days before the All-Star Game and I said, “Joe what was the best thing about being able to pick some people on this team?” He said, “Unquestionably, being able to pick Tim Wakefield. I’ve never been prouder than being able to say ‘Tim Wakefield you are on the All-Star team.’”
Which speaks volumes to how he is respected around the game.
What have you heard about Daisuke Matsuzaka?
I’ve talked to Mike Roberts, who used to be the baseball coach at North Carolina, who run the baseball program at Athlete’s Performance Institute, and he said Daisuke came in with tremendous enthusiasm. That he was in good shape to start with and he admitted to him that he was hurt at times last year and wasn’t in shape, and was very embarrassed. I think the impression that the a lot of the outrageous things that Daisuke will say are really meant to play in Japan. He did actually apologize to the fans in Japan in that one interview. [Roberts] maintains that Daisuke is in terrific shape and he is very enthusiastic. He sees him all the time, so that’s my information from a guy that sees him all the time. Now what happens during the season we will see. There was never any question, and Daisuke has even admitted to Mike that he was not in really good shape, he was kind of the Pillsbury Dough Boy when he showed up last year for spring training. You don’t expect him to be 18-5 again, but he can be a pretty darn good fourth or fifth starter and that’s what they are looking for.
Are the RBI Academies working? And are we going to see more African-American players in baseball?
I think they are going to expand the program. I was told they are going to look at two to three more cities right now.
I know the Red Sox have talked to Major League Baseball about opening one here. So many kids are around the city of Boston, particularly a very large Hispanic population, and they would have an indoor facility so if there were guys living around here they could work out there. I think it may grow. It all depends on how many owners are willing to put the money into it and we all know here they would invest in the city.
I think it will grow. … You go watch college baseball games, for instance one year during the College World Series Harold Reynolds was out doing the College World Series I left him a text message saying, “How does it feel being the only brother in Omaha.” There were no African-American players. You go down to the Cape League and you don’t see many African-American players.
Greg Vaughn’s son played there last year, you see some sons of ex-major leaguers, but you are not seeing kids and I think that part of it is there are 10 ½ scholarships for 30 college baseball players per school where as you have 17 scholarships for women’s volleyball. The NCAA has affectively killed a lot of minorities in college baseball and I don’t think that is going to change. I do think Major League Baseball is trying and you might see in the next 10 years another six to eight academies open up in different places and hopefully there will be one here.
Occasionally teams are able to spend some money to getting a kid and talking him out of going to play college football, the Red Sox did that with their 10th round pick last year, the kid was going to go to Auburn as a running back, but that doesn’t happen too often. If Major League Baseball does in fact come up with a very strict slotting system for the draft it will really damage the ability of Major League Baseball to attract the really good athletes. Kids are going to say, “You know what? I’m going to go to college and play football. If I’m not going to make more than this slotted theme that MLB has decided then it’s not worth it.” You have to make it worth it for kids to go play.
What happens with David Ortiz this year?
It’s my understanding that he has really worked hard in the Dominican this offseason. He’s lost a lot of weight and tried to maintain the strength. We will see.
The future for him is in his own hands at this point. Let’s say he comes back and not have the numbers that he had in 2004-07, but he comes back and hits .280 with 30 home runs, hitting in between Youkilis and either Beltre or Drew he may get an extension or he may have to move on. I don’t know.
The Red Sox value for the draft choices that they have next year because if there is a new basic agreement, the advantage that the Red Sox and Yankees hold over the other teams will be eliminated, if they have some sort of slotting. They are going to collect every draft choice that they can for the next two years.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see David come back. I think he became much more flexible and open to trying different things as the season went along. He got less psyched out, but the question is going to be can he still hit the hard-throwers? When he comes back obviously he is going to get a couple of months to show that and if he does it, maybe he stays here. He’s a beloved figure and I think he’s an important guy around that team. One of the things that struck me last year was he still really takes it hard. He loves that limelight, he loves being “the guy” and when he wasn’t, and wasn’t able to take the attention off his teammates I think it really bothered him.
Is Mike Lowell on this team opening day?
I would say probably not. I don’t know where, Texas is not there any more because they signed [Vladimir] Guerrero. Cleveland was said to have interest. I don’t know how much money they could take on, I mean they have no money. Maybe if they take two, maybe they could do that. If he has a good spring, and I still believe another year off the hip operation I think he’ll actually come back and have a decent spring training. The problem is, how do you find room for him on that Boston roster. They are going to have to have one guy playing the middle infield for them sitting on the bench. And Billy Hall of course gives them more flexibility because he can play five positions.
Doesn’t it put all the pressure on David Ortiz? What do they do if he gets off to another poor start?
The question is going to be, “Where do we go here?” Obviously I think once every fifth day or two times in six days when Jason Varitek catches, Victor Martinez is going to be the DH. It may be in certain situations when Ortiz struggles that Hermida plays a lot, but he DHs instead of playing the outfield. Just look at Billy Hall’s numbers against left-handed pitchers over the last five years, they have been pretty good. Despite his paltry batting average, he saw me last spring and he got that Lasik surgery and he hit .203 so it didn’t work.
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