Friday, July 31

Breaking - Martinez to Sox

Multiple sources are now reporting that the Sox have landed (or are, at the very least, very close to finalizing the deal on) Victor Martinez from the Indians. No word yet on who's leaving the Sox, but Fox Sports is saying it's a straight Sox-Indians deal, no third team involved. ITM will check back in when we have more details.

Nostra Culpa

The Murphy boys would not be surprised if we are on the 2003 list. We're not saying we used steroids. We're not saying we didn't. We're just saying we would not be surprised if we are on the 2003 list. It's deadline day and it's always good to ride the waive of a big news cycle, so we're just putting it out there.

In our defense, those were wild times. Like Bronson Arroyo said today (, "before 2004, none of us paid any attention to anything we took." Arroyo said he was taking andro, but heard at some point that it might be laced with steroids due to lax production standards. All he knew for sure was that, "andro made me feel great, I felt like a monster, I felt like I could jump and hit my head on the basketball rim."

Same goes for any number of other products. Doritos, milk, commercial-grade syringes. We just can't say. We weren't paying attention and there were lax production standards back then. Those freeze-pop things that stained your lips purple? We can't say for sure whether those were laced with Mexican Meth or not. All we can say is they made us feel like we could hit our heads on basketball rims. And that's what mattered back then.

And you've got to remember, everyone was doing it. It wasn't just David Ortiz, Bronson Arroyo, then-Presidential candidate John Kerry, and the Murphy boys. It wasn't even just Massachusetts. We used to visit the Shaker Heights Murphys every 4th of July and they were doing some crazy freeze-pops, too. There is absolutely no way to know what was in those things. So we're just saying, we would not be surprised if this has something to do the with the Catholic priest scandal that was going on back then. Production standards were extremely, extremely lax. Nothing would surprise us.

It's the Most Wonderful Time Of the Year

Just hours are left on the MLB trade deadline clock, it's Friday, it's is a tough day to be productive. It's also one of the best days of the year in my book. Personally, I can't get enough of the trade rumors, expected deals, made up stories, and frank talk that goes on today. It's a baseball fan's second coming of Christmas and I love it.

We all know the names by now, Adrian, Halladay, or just a few hours from now we could all be giggling like school girls if we land one of the studs just mentioned....or screaming in anger that we sold off the farm....or convincing ourselves that making no move was the best move and this team is capable of winning it all as is. I love it.

I'm going to throw it out there and predict we end up with Adrian...a 27 year old stud who has caught fire over the past week or two before the deadline (and possibly driving his price tag up). He knows he needs to get out of the NL and San Diego in order to be taken seriously as a ball player, so what better place than Boston? If the Sox lineup hadn't fallen off the face of the earth over the past month and a half, I'd likely predict otherwise.

I'm not saying that would be my choice (Halladay), but that is what my gut is telling me this morning. So hold your breath....refresh your "go to" sporting news Web site every 7 seconds, and hope Theo provides Red Sox Nation with something to be excited about going into the weekend, and down the home stretch.

In Theo we trust. Go Sox.

Thursday, July 30

Let's Try Not to Hit the Panic Button....Yet

I'm not in panic mode yet, not with the talent and capabilities I know this Red Sox team holds. I am however, a little nervous that the recent run of inconsistent and frustrating play will force the Sox into a panic move come tomorrow at 4pm.

I trust Theo and all, but I continue to feel that this team is of championship caliber as currently constituted. The problem has been the timing of their struggles. The Yankees and Rays went through their problems at the beg ginning of the year while, unfortunately for RSN, the Sox are struggling at the trade deadline. Quality starts from the rotation alongside offensive production has been seemingly impossible to line up.

Clearly this team is better than the level they've produced of late, on all fronts. As with any team, holes and weaknesses remain, but sacrificing the farm for someone other than Halladay may be a stretch. If you look at career numbers, most on the Sox are below their norms, suggesting that, if you believe in the value of historical numbers, an improvement can be expected.

I'll default to that saying of, at the end of the year, the players numbers will be there. I'm just praying this year isn't an anomaly.

Go Sox

(and I bet you thought I'd have a panic-written post this morning.....Nope.......check back this afternoon if they lose though)

Tuesday, July 28

Dice-K is Pissing Just About Everyone Off

Well, I gave myself the day to digest the Dice-K news in order to avoid rushing out an "I hate Dice-K" post. Turns out, I should have just ran with it. My thoughts on this topic remain the same....stop being an uncoachable talent or you'll never live up to the hype. Seems like Red Sox management agree...

Not only has pissed off Red Sox Nation with his terrible performances this year, Dice-K recently expressed his frustration with Red Sox management and claimed his current shoulder issues are a result of training adjustments forced upon him by Boston. The Red Sox and John Farrell refute that claim saying the only adjustments made to the Japanese pitcher's regiment were just recently implemented as a result of his deteriorating shoulder strength.

Clearly it's a war of words. Based on the media reports over the few years he's been here, and the exceptionally high regard in which Boston's shoulder strengthening/management program is referred to by every other pitcher, my money is on the Sox here. I mean it was just this past off season that Dice-K frustrated the Sox by refusing to stay and train in the US. Instead he trained in Japan and provided minimal updates to Red Sox management who had little visibility to his off season workouts.

It's time for Dice-K to grow up, listen to what the people who pay him millions tell him to do, and realize it's less about culture and more about his personal stubborn nature. Sure, you were a king in Japan,but this isn't Japanese baseball, players here exceed 5 ft 9 inches and 160lbs. I don't question his desire to succeed, I question his coachability, and there tends to be a high correlation between that and overall success.

So as the rumors continue to swirl about Roy Halladay coming to the Sox for Buchholz, Bowden, and others, without child-like outbursts like this from Dice-K, it's hard to consider him an eventual factor on this team. Maybe that's why he's stomping his feet and crying, he's just not getting the attention he's used to.

I still think John Farrell summed it up perfectly on WEEI today, "There has to be accountability and responsibility on the part of the player"

Sunday, July 26

Someone Put This Lineup On Their Back

It looks like the Red Sox sure could use a Jim Rice-like bat in their lineup these days......The day after a partial offensive breakout at Fenway Park, the Sox again looked lifeless at the plate, losing to the O's and yet another rookie pitcher 6-2.

The game of baseball is a marathon not a sprint, we hear Tito say that all the time, but Red Sox Nation can't help but be concerned with the prolonged offensive slump. Personally, I'm looking to someone in the middle of the lineup to put this team on their back and carry them until either Theo is able to bring in more firepower, or this offense decides to wake up.

Jason Bay has been all but dead since June 1 (pretty sure he's batting negative .120 since then). David Ortiz has been anything but dependable all season, Youk has been surprisingly inconsistent, JD is making 14 million dollars while batting .235, and Mike Lowell tosses in a few doubles here and there to keep his head above water, but timely production from the middle of this lineup has fallen off the table.

Jacoby is settling back into the lead off spot nicely, Pedroia can only do so much out of the two hole, and we surely can't expect Tek or Lowrie to pull this team out of it. Sure, baseball is a cyclicle game, everyone goes through slumps, but a team-wide slump like this is tough to swallow.

Boston's 3-6 hitters are dropping the ball and this division is simply too good to suffer through rough spots like this for much longer. Perhaps that's why it appears the Sox are looking outside of the organization for an offensive jump start. There appears to be numerous issues for Theo to work through in order to pull off the deal, but the fact that he continues to call the Padres shows limited confidence in the current lineup.

Saturday, July 25

Hot Stove

Height of the midseason hot stove and I've been woefully absent from ITM. Then I just woke up this morning sweating baseball. There's just so damn much going on right now.

---Gotta start with the Sox big move of the week. Adam LaRoche. (For a good snapshot of how crazy eccentric baseball used to be, before the corporate/statistical complex took over, check out the wikipedia entry on LaRoche's dad, Dave.) I've been mulling this one over for a couple days now, and I have to say, I don't like it. Maybe I'll eat those words in a few months, but for the time being, I just can't help it. He's a talent, no doubt, but my general impression over his career has been this: he's the infield JD Drew. Pretty swing, lots of potential, lack of passion, ill suited to the spotlight. I could be wrong, but that's what I've gleamed following him vaguely from afar. I know I know about all this 'he lights it up in the second half' stuff, but that implies, if anything, that he hits a stride after a good deal of at-bats. At-bats that he's not going to get playing spot infield. If he's a late bloomer, then he might not bloom at all platooning. And defensively, the Sox are now less diverse. For the next month, the Sox have, essentially, two backups in the infield and one in the outfield. That outfielder? Rocco Baldelli. All that stands between the Sox and a minor league starter is JD Drew and Rocco Baldelli. Read again. Kotsay, while not a great outfielder, could do the job when needed. LaRoche will not. The rest of the comparisons between them don't do much to distinguish, in my opinion. I just don't like the move. Smells of desperation to me. But please, tell me I'm wrong.

---Sounds like Victor Martinez talks are heating up. Sox have reportedly drawn a hard line on Buchholz. But they're listening as the Indians propose various packages comprised of some combination of Bard, Tazawa, Bowden, and Casey Kelley. Here's my fear: the Yankees want Cliff Lee bad. Local reporters here in NYC have written about it everyday this week. Word is Yankees balked at the price, which was going to involve at least one of their two (already big league contributing) studs, Phil Hughes or Joba, plus their top minor league arms. The Indians want pitching. They're hanging onto Cliff Lee because he's an ace and he's cheap. But, if they could fleece the Sox for three top pitching prospects, it seems entirely possible that the Indians would start listening to Yankees trades that involved position player prospects, assets that the Yankees are less reluctant to give up. That is to say, if the Sox give into the Indians demands on Victor Martinez, it's entirely possible that makes Cliff Lee to the Yankees much, much more likely to happen. I really don't want to see that.

---The Sox have also inquired after Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres. (Caveat - since LaRoche, you'd have to think this or the Victor Martinez move are far less likely, but it doesn't sound, from the chatter, like the Sox are easing up at all. This 2-5 skid has put a good scare in them.) Frankly, I liked this move better. Gonzalez seems to me to fit the Sox mold better. His average is down this year, but his OBP and SLG are up. And he's three years younger than Martinez. And reportedly, the Padres weren't just looking for pitching. They would have taken fewer arms in exchange for Lars Anderson's inclusion. I may be the only one in Boston, but honestly, I could care less if Anderson got away in a solid trade. Too bad the Indians aren't interested there.

---My favorite Sox rumor of the week: For a brief, glimmering moment, there was word that the Sox might be after Marco Scutaro. Oh what might have been. The Venezuelan Kevin Youkilis. And what a name.

---Sounds like Halladay is headed to the Phillies, possibly today. The big question is just whether the Phillies are going to let Kyle Drabek go. My guess is they do, despite their claims that he was 'untouchable', but reports today suggest the deal might get done with only J.A. Happ (righty) plus a top position prospect. I have to say, if this deal happens, the Phillies are going to be a scary force in the playoffs.

---I have absolutely nothing to say about Matt Holliday to the Cardinals, except to point out I really think we should all just agree that the guy is just another Colorado bust, and that D Vicino loved him. Loved him. Wanted him for the Sox bad. Sorry, I just had to point that out.

---Preemptive response to D Vicino's opposition: Yes, I know I picked the Oakland A's to win the AL West. I know, all right. But at least I let myself get seduced by the promise of youth rather than just altitude and thin air. Chump.

More from ITM as the weekend goes on. The MLB and even the AL East could look an awful lot different in the cold unforgiving light of Sunday morning.

Thursday, July 23

Perhaps Some Optimism?

It's been a tough day in Boston....the Sox are playing like they would lose a series to the Lowell Spinners, the weather is terrible, and it's not the weekend. I happened to be looking into the Adam LaRoche signing in greater detail, and came across his second half of the season numbers (post July)

2006: .324 AVG 53 R 19 HR 50 RBI

2007: .321 AVG 40 R 11 HR 43 RBI

2008: .321 AVG 34 R 17 HR 51 RBI

It certainly appears to be an upgrade over Mark Kotsay. The 29 year old, will most likely play first against against right handed pitchers, while Youk moves to third since Mike Lowell will need the rest and fairs well against south paws. Tough to argue with the apparent logic there. It's a small move that could pay large dividends....especially given those second half numbers.

Now all we need is to come up with a good nick name for this guy...

There, that was my attempt at optimism. I'm done for the day.

Hopelessly Watching

It is difficult to put into words how frustrated I've become with these post all star break Red Sox. Last night's sweep gives Boston a 1-5 record after the break, which has allowed the streaking Yankees to blow right by them in the standings. Given the way the team is playing right now, two games out has never seemed like such a cushy lead.

We're all assuming the Sox will break out of their team-wide hitting slump, I mean, they're too good not to, right? Right?? The fact of the matter is that the Sox are hitting just .192 after the break, the entire lineup is pressing which is leading to more pop ups than Nomah ever hit, and keeping the opposing pitcher's pitch count at efficient levels. And don't even get me started on JD Drew's secret dump of a season he's putting on us right now, that's for another time.

The worst part? It's like a train wreck, you honestly don't want to watch, but as a fan, you have to. My fan confidence levels scary low levels....the Sox went down 3-1 last night and I told the fiance the lead was insurmountable. As a result, she wanted to watch So You Think You Can Dance...."Well it's not 14-1" was my response. It might as well have been.

At some point every season (sometimes at multiple points) it gets to this. I can't stand watching the team I love, but I do it anyways and it drives me absolutely insane. This is what I assume a terrible marriage is like. I've been tempted to change the channel of late, but I won't let myself do it. Today's day off is a needed one...for all of us. Let's hope friendly Fenway wakes this team up a little.

Tuesday, July 21

Wakefield Goes on DL

Tim Wakefield will be making his yearly stint on the disabled list after straining his lower back during a bullpen session on Saturday.

Wakefield hasn't pitched since July 8th, prior to the All Star break, and while I would never suggest that Red Sox find reasons to give their pitchers small "vacations" under the pretenses of a trip to the DL, it certainly makes sense to give Wake a month of rest at his age.

Wake is 11-3 this year with an 4.31 era with 108.2 innings logged.

Clay Buchholz was recalled to the big club after being sent down after his first start of the year on Friday against the Blue Jays. Buchholz went 5.2 innings in that game allowing 4 hits and 1 run while striking out 3.

Buchholz will start tomorrow night in the finale against the Texas Rangers.

Wakefield's trip to the DL will temporarily silence the not so silent group clamoring for Buchholz to be put into the starting rotation permanently. Lackluster performances from John Smoltz and Brad Penny over the weekend following Buchholz's performance Friday night were followed with calls to trade Penny and give Smotlz spot to Buchholz.

Two things we do know, Wake's "vacation" and the success of Buchholz over the next 2-3 starts could impact how active the Sox are as we approach the July 31st trade deadline. Stay tuned sports fans...

Monday, July 20

Lineups...Let's Run With This One

We don't often do lineup posts here at ITM but I'm especially excited about tonight's order. Jacoby is back in the leadoff spot, JD settles in at the 6th spot, and when healthy, we might have the best number 7 hitter in the game in Mikey Lowell. As a result of Ortiz's resurgence, the dumping of Lugo and overall general health improvements, tonight's lineup puts the majority of the hitters back into their natural spots.

The Sox have been struggling to maintain a respectable team average, especially with RISP...the lineup below likely gives us the best chance to win night in and night out....let's run with it on a constant basis and see what happens.

Are there still issues with this lineup? Sure, Jacoby still needs to get on base more, and consistent production are certainly desires we all have....but let's hope the change sparks Boston's bats and they show the Rangers what a real contender looks like.

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. J.D. Drew, RF
7. Mike Lowell, 3B
8. Jason Varitek, C
9. Jed Lowrie, SS

-- John Smoltz RHP

Go Sox.

It's Just Mazz Being Mazz

I think I can speak for nearly everyone when saying I wish it was still the weekend. But as we get back into it this week I could not pass on an opportunity to share a great article by Tony Mazz. Some of you may have already read it, but I know we have readers on the Southcoast that don't follow the Globe too closely...why you ask? I'm still not sure.

I've always been a fan of Tony Mazz, but the transition to the Globe appears to have really sparked both his writing and insight. Sure he sounds like a 13 year old girl, laughs like a hiena, and has probably kissed 2 women in his life, but you gotta respect the quality he's bringing to the table here. Simply put, you don't get this kind of information and inside knowledge in most articles.....and if you're a fan of the game of baseball, you'll enjoy it. Pink hats should steer clear.

Friday, July 17

Taking Stock

At the beginning of the season, I made what I thought was a fairly common-knowledge prediction. I wrote that the Sox, the Yankees, and the Rays would all break even against one another, and against the elite of the league, generally, and that the real distinction amongst them would be this: who can beat the little guys, night in, night out. Baseball's a game of consistency, the nightly grind, so this seemed to make sense. Thinking about the first half of the season, I wanted to check it out.

Turns out, I was wrong.

The top of the AL East is fairly close in the standings. On that we were all right. The Sox are 54-34, the Yanks are in second at 51-37, and the Rays are not far behind at 48-41.

To test out my original argument, I went simple: I picked out what I consider the best of the AL: Boston, Tampa Bay, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Texas, and Toronto (they were so good for such a long time that statistically they should factor in here). And I simply looked at the matchups amongst those teams. It was a bit of a surprise.

Playing those six, the Rays are 16-13. That's about what you would have expected, even a little better. The Yankees, on the other hand, are 17-21. Many of those losses (we know) have come at the hand of the Sox, but still, the Yankees are underperforming against the AL's best. But really, 17-21 isn't that much of a surprise. The real surprise was this: the Sox are a whopping 24-11 against the six best teams in the AL.

To be honest, I'm not sure what to think of this. I was clearly wrong, so far. And it's to be celebrated - when it comes to elite clashes, the Sox are stepping up big time. But that also means that they're right around .500 against the middling teams. And my concern is that the torrid pace against the elite just can't be sustained. Baseball averages out, at least when you're talking about the best few teams or players in a league. Every year, the batting champ hits in the low-to-mid .300's. The best team gets between 93 and 103 wins. That's just how it works. It's a long season, and things tend to settle around historical averages.

So yes, I should be very happy with the Sox dominance. I just hope that they can keep it up. What if the Yankees stop blowing it against the good teams? They've been beating up on the small guys the way they're supposed to. If the Sox don't start doing the same, they could be in trouble.

Leave it to a Sox fan to panic when he sees his team has been crushing the best of the best. But still, it's a game of numbers, and math makes me nervous.

Thursday, July 16

Sox "Desperate" to Rid Themselves of Lugo....No Kidding

There are "new" reports circling around the web that the Red Sox are"desperate" to trade Julio Lugo. Does this surprise anyone? Haven't all of us been desperate to get rid of the overpaid and irrationally confident shortstop pretty much since we got him?

Now, as the entire baseball market has the Sox over a barrel knowing that they need to move him, no one wants to touch him with a ten foot pole. And for good reason, the best production Boston has managed out of Lugo came in Spring Training this year when he hit close to .400.....I still can't believe many of us were foolish in harboring some optimism for him (myself included).

The Sox have Lowrie on the mend, Green as more than capable backup, and a 9.25 million dollar waste of space on their bench (not to mention he's taking up a valuable roster spot). In addition the Sox have made it their goal to build some young shortstops in their farm system in order to develop for the future. From signing an 18 year old Cuban defector, to forcing a single A pitcher into a shortstop role, to today's signing of a 16 year old Dominican who apparently is one of the best young talents on an island full of studs.

Make no mistake about it, the Sox are not happy with the revolving shortstop door, but between dumping Lugo for a bag of balls and prioritizing their scouting, I have confidence they'll get it done.

Wednesday, July 15

Wake Doesn't Play, But Still Manages to Have a Good Time

(Couldn't pass up posting this shot)

Nothing like using a 42 (nearly 43) year-old "Just For Men" sponsor to stand with chicks half his age and promote hard booze. Good for Wakefield for making the most out of his trip to St. Louis. Tim Wakefield may not have gotten into last night's all-star game, but judging by the photo above, he still had a good time.

Also, this picture looks like it was taken at a house party....I'm wondering how Pap convinced Wake to forget about hunting, throw on his Sunday's best, and party with him.

I can't say I wasn't disappointed to not see the ageless wonder get a shot at dazzling the NL with floaters....but at the same time, I'm sure as hell pumped Crawford was able to make that catch to preserve what I hope to be homefield advantage for the Sox come late October.

Lastly, Wake should consider it a win that he made it out of St. Louis's not exactly the safest city in America....and something tells me he doesn't blend in well there.

Monday, July 13

Tater Derby is Just Not the Same

(Prince Fielder took home the title on a night that failed to really impress)

Members of the ITM staff are still shaking off the cobwebs from a weekend long bachelor party straight out of the movies. However we were still able to take advil and drink enough gatorade to get together for tonight's tater derby.

For Tim, the event is the second coming of Christmas....we probably yell some combination of "tater" and/or "yahtzee" 931 times, and it never gets old.......honestly, how my fiance` still plans on marrying me is unreal.

This year however, something was missing. We screamed, yelled, and tried to get excited, but other than Fielder's 503 foot bomb, it just wasn't there. Maybe it's the lack of laced steroids and HGH, perhaps the weekend was still taking its toll on us, but it's pretty safe to say that the event just isn't the same without performance-enhancing elements.

We've clearly been mislead by the unnatural results of years past, and I'm 100% behind cleaning up the game, but I sure do miss the craziness of the fabricated years..... least Brandon Inge made J-Bay feel a little better by matching his goose egg from 05'.

Go Sox...and Go AL All Stars.

Thursday, July 9

Why Didn't I Start This Guy On My Fantasy Team??

A quick and completely selfish post here. The Sox are currently a back and forth battle with the Royals (which should never happen), but I can't help but be kicking myself for keeping David Ortiz on the pine in my fantasy league.

Ortiz sent another opposite field shot over the green monster a short time ago...making it three taters in his last 16 at bats. That, in part, naturally coincides with a boat load of RBI of late. Ortiz may just end the season with near David Ortiz-like numbers...something I would have bet the small apartment against just over a month ago.

The reason why it's really eating at me? I have Mark "I can't hit a thing" Teixeira in there in front of him. I take full blame for losing this week to a divisional rival because of not believing in a hometown guy. This is why fantasy baseball is bad for die-hard fans, it provides for a near constant conflict of interest. Not only do I already get mad when Pedroia pops out to shallow right, but I freak out because of the fantasy baseball ramifications. When did watching baseball become anything more than rooting for your hometown team? Those days seem long, gone, and hard to find. Regardless bad management and a lack of faith won't lead to a successful season of any kind...real or fantasy.

Wednesday, July 8

Hot Stove on Halladay

One day removed from Jays' manager J.P. Ricciardi's unexpected reversal on Roy Halladay, and the hot stove is definitely warming up. Ricciardi avowed earlier in the season that his ace righty was not on the market, but that was back when the Jays were the surprise leader in the AL East, before an injury outbreak dropped them down to fourth. Ricciardi, as every baseball fan now knows, said yesterday that the Jays were willing to "listen" to trade talks, though in order to move, he'd need to get a call from a "highly motivated" bidder with a package of young studs. Ricciardi's phone has no doubt been ringing ever since, and reports are starting to leak out about who, precisely, is the most "highly motivated" caller.

Word today is that the Phillies are the early favorite. They've been looking for what seems like months for a powerful righty to put at the top of the rotation next to the southpaw Cole Hammels. The Phillies, like everyone, love Halladay - particularly since they think he fits their ballpark, with a high ground-ball to fly-out ration (1.28 over 2009) and solid strike out numbers (the Phillies have a hitter-friendly home). The Phillies aren't as loaded with young talent as a few of the other teams, but the word is they may be willing to bet the farm on this trade. They feel that he could simply dominate the NL and make them a strong repeat contender.

After that comes the West Coast teams - the Angels, Giants, and Dodgers are all reported to be interested in Halladay. Again, these teams don't have the strongest farm systems, but likely could put together an appealing prospects package, with some decent young pitching going back to the Jays.

Then there are the longshots in our very own AL East. They've got the most talent, but, according to club sources, little inclination to part with it. Both the Yankees and the Sox have let it be known that they're not in active talks for Halladay---here in New York, Yanks officials have spent the day telling anyone who'd listen that there is absolutely no chance they make this trade. But, keep in mind, that's the Yankees talking. Never really the model of caution or consistency. A bad week in the Bronx, and it could certainly be an interesting All-Star break.

That really just leaves the Sox to discuss. The fact is, no one has the young talent - particularly the young arms - that the Sox have. The Jays have said they prefer not to deal within the division, but seem to have acknowledged that a team like the Sox (or possibly the Yankees) have the ability to make an offer they can't refuse.

From this perspective, I'd say it's highly unlikely the Sox or the Yanks get in on this action. Yes, Halladay is a proven AL East winner. Yes, he's under contract through 2010 at a relatively reasonable cost. And yes he'd likely approve a trade to either. But the Jays are reportedly looking for a package of 3 high quality prospects, possibly pushing to 4 depending on what kind of a bidding war they can ignite. You've got to think that's the last thing Cashman or Theo wants after years of work plowing those farms. It would, at the very least, cost them Hughes and Buchholz, respectively.

So we'll just have to wait and see. And I'm just gonna hope against hope that Halladay finds himself a nice comfortable home in the National League.

Tuesday, July 7

Are You Picking Up What John Smoltz is Putting Down?

John Smoltz certainly knows more about the game of baseball than I do, I would never question that. However I am starting to question his constant optimism after some difficult starts. Sure, he's only 3 games into his Red Sox pitching career, but after last night's struggle against a weak-hitting A's lineup, I was surprised to see the positive statements continue from the future hall of famer....

"I went back and watched the whole game again and I'm still shaking my head on some of the hits and some of the plays. Some of the pitches that I didn't think should have gotten hit, and they found holes. ... What I hate more than anything is two-out runs. But I felt in control. I threw the ball really well. I didn't have much to show for it tonight, but as mad as I get, I have to make sure to realize I'm making a lot of progress even though the results don't look like that."

So allowing 13 base runners over 6 innings to the Oakland A's is a good thing? Smoltz wasn't exactly hitting his spots last night, especially with his breaking stuff....clearly he's battling the combination of old age and rust, at least he expects to be better....

"I've given up all two-out runs except one or two, and that has to change. I'm going to look and see if there are any trends. I don't think I have to be perfect. I haven't pitched away from my fastball or contact. I'm almost there."

Would I be writing this quick post if the Sox had won in a high-scoring game last night? Maybe, maybe not. I guess I continue to trust John Smoltz, but perhaps I want to see him kick a water cooler or two....maybe sever Julio Lugo's arm so he can't launch balls into the stands....something to show he's pissed off and expects better.

Thankfully Josh Beckett looks to pick up the pieces tonight. After losing two of three to the Mariners and making a 21 year old kid look like Cy Young last night, the local nine need to get their collective asses in gear. Go Sox.

Monday, July 6

Nomar Loves You

The fourth of July is over and done with, so it's back to work and focusing on the second half of the season. We all know Nomah is coming to town tonight for the first time since long as he doesn't blow out his hammy climbing up the dugout steps, he should receive a warm reception...

Nomah recently sat down with a San Francisco writer and discussed both is time in Boston and the fans....try not to shed a tear:

"I got my ring for that. I was cheering them on and rooting for them," said a smiling Garciaparra, who will be playing at Fenway Park for the first time as an opposing player.

"I was just as much a part of that as anything, although I might not have been there. No one knows all the phone calls I got during it and everything, and that was great. I was calling them back multiple times. The whole thing was to win one for the city. I felt every bit a part of it."

Five years later, Nomar returns, and guess what, he's banged up. His calf issue will likely limit him to one game in the field and keep him available to be a designated hitter or pinch hitter in the other games.

Asked if he thought he'd get a positive reception from Red Sox fans, Garciaparra said, "I would hope so. I always loved them and appreciated them. They were great to me, and I gave them everything I had there, for sure."

Also, does this confirm that no one can actually write in the city of Oakland? I know San Fran is a rock's throw away and everything, but wouldn't you think a hometown guy would get this story....or at least someone who covers the American League??

Welcome back Nomah and good luck, but we'll never forgive you for taking that SI photo....

Thursday, July 2

Lugo Admits The Truth

The guy almost every member of Red Sox nation loves to hate, Julio Lugo may have actually earned back a few fans with his game-winning hit last night. However that didn't stop him from admitting something we've all known for a long time....he's been a complete bust in Boston.....

"No, it hasn’t," he said late yesterday afternoon in regards to things working out in a Boston uniform....

"I thought it would work, but that’s not where we are," ........ "But one thing I am not going to do is throw a log on the fire. It’s just the way it is right now and I have to deal with it."

Julio Lugo has achieved a complete vote of no confidence from Red Sox fans, despite showing signs of life at the plate in limited time. Perhaps if he didn't launch every other ball hit to him into the stands, or get paid about 87 times more than his market value, or live up to any of the irrationally high expectations from team management, he might have a few more fans here in the rain capital of the world.

But with Lowrie managing to get hurt in his rehab start, we may have to live with a little more Lugo than expected. Is it possible he can swing his way out from under the cloud of hate? I'm going with no, but he may be slowly gaining some steam.

Wednesday, July 1

Eric Hinske, some guys have all the luck

In case you missed it, the Pirates moved Eric Hinske to the Yankees yesterday. The man just seems to be a magnet for winning teams. After filling in on outfield and occasional first base duties for the Sox in 2007, Hinske picked up a slightly more regular role for the Rays in 2008, getting 381 at bats, and putting up some decent power numbers: 20 HRs and .465 SLG. In 2009, Hinske wore out his welcome with the Pirates, hitting .255 with only 1 HR and .368 SLG. But the man seems to stumble into good situations.

Given the "cash considerations" included in the deal, the Pirates will essentially pay Hinske's salary for the remainder of the year (approx. $800,000). (You read that right, by the way. The Pirates utility backup will be payed by the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second half of the season.)

In return, the Yankees send to the Pirates a couple of minor leaguers: Casey Erickson (right handed pitcher) and Eric Fryer (outfielder/catcher). Neither is considered a prospect in the Yankees system, though Erickson is said to have some potential.

What does this mean for the Yanks? Mostly, it's an acknowledgement that more likely than not, Xavier Nady will never suit up in pinstripes again. Not long ago the Yanks starting righfielder, star 2008 acquisition, and all-around fan favorite (also acquired from the Pirates), announced over the weekend that he would elect for Tommy John surgery, effectively ending his season. Nady was on rehab in Newark when something happened during a weekend start (reports are unspecific) that told him surgery was the only option.

The Yanks were also dealing with the realization that Ramiro Pena was not a backup option they wanted to go to down the stretch. The 23 year old utility man was hitting .267 in 86 at bats, with a paltry .308 OBP. The Yankees sent him down to Scranton and plan on getting him time in the outfield, hoping that may make a late-season call-up more practical.

So, from what we can piece together, the Yankees are going to be looking to Eric Hinske as a principal utility backup. Word is they think he might see some time at third, first, and right field. Personally, I'd be pretty surprised if they put him in the hot corner, but with the new plan to give A-Rod a day off every week, you never know. But they want to get him at bats, and every time you think Nick Swisher might cool off, he starts to get hot again and force the issue in right.

All in all, a smart move for a contender. I don't think Hinske will do much for them in the infield, but I'll bet he gets at least a couple big hits against the Sox or the Rays. He just seems to be that type of guy.

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