Wednesday, September 30
And I have to say, I might be going against the tide a bit here, but I like the way the Sox did it. I think the only way to describe them right now is to say they're playing with a sense of aristocratic ease.
Think about it. First, they allow others to do the work. They hardly lifted a finger the last week. I can say that for certain since I was about twenty yards away from them on Sunday, the only really close game of this stretch, and I'll bet you've never seen quite so many yawns out of a professional dugout. They sort of finished off this season like a British lord, stretched on a divan in a silk robe, with a snifter of brandy, watching the servants flit about in anticipation of a fox hunt or something. I liked it.
Second, they still got some style points. Last night in the 8th, they gave you a bit of flash, reminding you what pretty baseball they can play. But they made their point. To have actually won the game would have been ostentatious. It's like Cassius Clay knocking out Sonny Liston. That big bear of a man was swirling down toward the mat and Clay had his fist raised and could have pounded him into oblivion at any moment in that sequence, but it would have been superfluous, and for that reason philistine. He compared brushes to paint strokes. The Sox already had their 2009 masterpiece complete. No need to ruin it with a victory.
So I'm gonna stick with my gut on this one: the Sox are the class of the 2009 season. They do what's necessary, and they do it with a sense of aristocratic ease. And if they don't watch the hell out, they could get smacked with the business side of a proletarian revolution starting real soon.
Tuesday, September 29
Monday, September 28
It's tough to blog about much from this weekend. The Sox didn't put up much of a fight as the Yankees clinched the AL East. In fact, I was somewhat emotionless during the series....that is until I read what Joe Morgan had to say about possible ALDS pitching situations (thanks to JoyofSox for the Morgan quote):
According to Joe.......
There are so many things wrong with this I can't, and won't, go into them all, but how do you forget about my main man Buchholz?...you know, the guy that has been comparable to Grienke the last few months? And did he not get the "Lester is starting game one" memo the rest of us received (ITM note: while it's not official yet, it's about the worst kept secret in the Red Sox organization right now). If he read any kind of media....even ITM, he would know that Lester was not hit in the knee and is going to BE FINE. And Tim Wakefield!? Really? The man can hardly walk and needs surgery ASAP.
Can someone at ESPN put us all out of our collective misery and can this guy? Or at least toss him down the stairs to get him on long term disability? Honestly, I could come up with a post like this after every game I hear him call. I get dummer just by listening to him. I'm pretty confident that Keyshawn Johnson, Charles Barkely, and Deon Sanders bring more value to their respective games than Morgan...not an easy thing to accomplish. As fellow ITM writer Joe Murph put it: "I'm pretty sure he stopped watching baseball years ago."
Thank you Joe, for turning an emotionless weekend into a hate-filled rant.
Friday, September 25
Wednesday, September 23
But, that doesn't mean the focus of this post won't be the questions swirling in the Bronx. If I have to spend my week hearing about the Marks (Sanchez and Texeira), I'm allowed to push back a little.
And the big issue is still pitching. Even though the Yanks have held their own in Los Angeles / Anaheim, and although run production and hitting with RISP has been down over the last month, the city is still fretting over the arms. They got some relief the other night when Andy Pettitte came back with a solid performance. But as they get nearer to clinching the league's best record, the focus is more and more on Joba Chamberlain.
After the most recent shallacking, even Joe Girardi is vocally underwhelmed, and sounds like anything but a man prepared to put his playoff success (and therefore his future with the organization) into the kid's hands. The Yankees now look all but certain to take the three-man rotation ALDS series, throwing CC, AJ, and Pettitte. But don't think they're too happy about that second option: Burnett hasn't gotten a win since August 7th in Boston and he seems icnreasingly to buckle with runners on base.
Also, Pettitte isn't the only recent injury concern: David Robertson, the 24 year old righty the Yankees have been using behind Phil Hughes, has been out with stiffness for almost two weeks now. He threw a 20 pitch session yesterday and is reportedly healthy, but the timetable is unclear. The bullpen should be significantly shored with the addition of Joba, but that brings us to the last concern:
Are the Yankees really going to throw Joba in relief in the ALDS, then ask him to start Game 4 of the ALCS? Is this the same guy to whom they were scared to give an extra off day between starts earlier in the season because it threw him out of whack? But he's going to make that seamless transition in October? And when he starts, he's going to go double the innings he's been asked to give since the All-Star break?
Phew, I'm glad I got that off my chest. And now that I did, let's admit that this post was really about three things: 1) a knee-jerk response to a hell of a strong season from the Yankees; 2) somewhat legitimate pitching conerns; and 3) the fact that I'm still scared to death of Daisuke even touching a baseball in October and Josh Beckett's September 2009 Tom Brady impression. And what about Manny Delcarmen? Who's gonna bridge the gap to Wagner? Do you trust Ramirez? Okay, breathe, breathe, it's September. Save some hyperventilating for October.
Tuesday, September 22
Honestly, I think Tazawa deserves a Boston salute (no, not the middle finger) for his out of the blue surprising service this season. Coming into the year, little was known about the 22 year old, most knew he had some potential, but never expected to see him dominate the minors and certainly not produce multiple quality starts in the bigs. Sure, his numbers in the majors don't look impressive (7.46 era), but they're incredibly inflated due to a few bad starts that bookended many productive and significant outings in between.
Sunday, September 20
Friday, September 18
Wednesday, September 16
The Sox did everything in their power to lose tonight's game, instead, Anaheim (and the umpires) gave it right back to them, allowing two separate comebacks that had me screaming like a 12 year old girl.
First the Pats on Monday night, and now the Sox, someone is surely on Boston's side as we've pulled off getting W's in games we had no reason winning.
Anaheim fans have every reason to be upset, the ball 4 call to Nick Green was undoubtedly a strike, especially considering the situation. Name me one other time in recent memory when an ump hasn't rung up a guy to end a game on a pitch that close? Perhaps the ump fell to the pressure of 38,000 screaming Red Sox fans, either way, the Angels just can't close out the Sox.
I'm wondering if Anaheim will even bother showing up against Boston if the standings hold and they meet in the ALDS (totally kidding here, but you can't help but think we're totally in their heads).
So the Red Sox technically now own the 2nd best record in baseball, with only 58 losses. They've rolled off 7 straight wins at the perfect time and have rendered the faltering Rangers effectively insignificant. All that makes it easy to go to bed with a smile on my face tonight
Monday, September 14
Sure a 4 game wild card lead coupled with the return of Tom Brady and the Patriots has my tail wagging, but for some reason, I'm feeling the kind of confidence in this Red Sox team that gets me nervous.
This weekend, the entire league saw what they may have to deal with once the playoffs come around. Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz....Judging from Beckett's 5 inning performance Saturday night, we know he's not hurt. We're also well aware of his post season resume.
Sure the Rays are sinking faster than any team in history, save for the Mets (pick a year), and I'm still not 100 percent sold on Beckett being "back", but I gotta believe no team wants to face Boston in October right now.
If Beckett's previous struggles are any kind of question mark, then Jon Lester is the answer. 17 innings straight without allowing a run, on the absolute top of his game. I don't care what fat boy CC's record is in NY, Lester is the top lefty in the game right now. Write that down.
As if the idea of a healthy and on point Beckett/Lester 1-2 combination doesn't get you pumped for a playoff series, enter Clay Buchholz. Yes, there are a lot of unknowns here, but the fact of the matter is he's looked as good as anyone (save for Jonny on the Spot) over his past 4 starts. Consistent confidence and command is something we've been waiting for from Buchholz in the majors, and he appears to have it at the right time. The talent is there, if his confidence continues to snowball, lookout.
So the Dice-K start tomorrow night will likely come with a lot of hype, I'm sure excited. However, this team will be carried to and through the post season on the back of its starting pitching. Right now, you have to be excited about their chances.
Sunday, September 13
Friday, September 11
The "playoff ace" Josh Beckett, will take the bump tomorrow against Wade Davis (who?). Clay Buchholz , and his masterful changeup, will now start game 1 on Sunday at noon against Ray's righthander Matt Garza in what should be a great matchup.
So in reality, this rain out means nothing in the grand scheme of things. The Sox will still run out their top three pitchers against a Tampa team that is both injured and morally defeated. Anything less than winning two out of three would be a severe let down.
The Sox remain two games ahead of the overachieving Texas Rangers for the AL Wildcard as the Rangers were also rained out tonight.
Four important September baseball games and a Patriots season opener over the course of 4 days, priceless....Go Boston.
Wednesday, September 9
Tuesday, September 8
“He’s a very good fielder in particular. You can put him anywhere,” said Viciedo. “He can play third, short and second. He’s a very good player.”
Asked about Iglesias’ hitting, Viciedo paused to consider his answer. “He defends himself,” said Viciedo.
Iglesias defected while playing at a tournament in Canada last August.
That said, one international scout for an American League club suggested that his team, like the Sox, believed that Iglesias might have legitimate offensive ability. The scout suggested that Iglesias has the hand-eye coordination that could project to make him a viable No. 2 hitter.
Iglesias, 19, is slated to play for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League beginning in October. He played 75 games for los Vaqueros de La Habana of Cuba’s major league Serie Nacional during the 2007-08 season, batting .322 (101-for-314) with 11 doubles, four triples, 39 RBI, 51 runs scored and 17 walks. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Iglesias was 17 years old when that season began. A right-handed hitter, he posted a .329 (81-for-246) average against right-handed pitching. A native of Havana, Cuba, Iglesias established residency in the Dominican Republic before signing with the Red Sox.
Sunday, September 6
-Jon Lester: The most consistent pitcher on the staff this year tossed another gem. After going 7 solid innings, not allowing a run and striking out 8, he admitted he didn't have his best stuff. "Today was a battle, not only with their good-hitting lineup, but with myself," he said. "I was trying to do maybe a little bit too much at times and not staying within myself. I got myself into some trouble, but made some pitches when I had to." Man, if I put my dirty clothes in the laundry basket my wife considers the day a success...talk about hard on himself.
-The Ace: I know calling Lester the "co-ace" or even the "current ace" is disrespectful to Beckett, but if he keeps giving up 8 taters a game, and the big lefty continues his domination, how much longer can that really be offensive? (My general conclusion is until Lester outperforms Beckett in the playoffs, but who knows).
-Pedroia and Papi: Unfortunately for me, I have both of these players on my fantasy team....and considering I was fighting for a playoff spot this week, they officially sank my battleship. Pedey made an unbelievable play in the field early on today, but neither the big lefty, or the tiny righty have been able to get anything going at the plate. Good thing for them, Jacoby and V-Mart have picked up the slack.
-Speaking of V-Mart.....Are any of his hits ever of the insignificant variety? Joe Murph and I were talking about it the other day, every time the Sox are in need of a timely hit, V-Mart seems to be walking up to the plate, and he gets it done. Man love.
-Alex Rios: It's been tough to figure out the Whitesox and their recent moves...but a real disappointment has to be Alex Rios. Granted, he has been having a down season all year, but there were a lot of people out there who expected a change of scenery would jump start Rios and his quiet bat. That certainly hasn't been the case however as he has gone 4-for-46 over his last 12 games and continues to bat in the 8th spot with an average below .250. (ITM note: again, unfortunately for me, he is on my fantasy team, not a starter, but on the team nonetheless...it's bad for the "Roger Dorn's Revenge" clubhouse).
-The Wildcard: The Rangers can't seem to solve the Orioles, losing again today and sliding 3 games behind the Sox in the wildcard standings. There is something mentally comforting about being 3 games up on a team instead of 2, I'm not sure what it is, but it's a big number for me. And you can forget about the Rays, they're out the picture, especially with their difficult upcoming schedule. Joe Maddan can die his hair fluorescent green if he wants, I'm calling it, they're donski.
And oh yeah, the Yanks lost today too. Good day all around. Go Sox.
Friday, September 4
Wednesday, September 2
I couldn't pass up posting these videos. Not only has Jacoby been flashing some amazing leather out in centerfield, he's been getting it done at the plate too. Save for T Murph's boy JD Drew, Jacoby is the hottest hitter on a team that is chalk full of guys swinging the bat well right now. There is something to be said for his season-long consistency as well.....
The gift that keeps on giving....
Beckett vs Garza tonight in what should be a great game. Too bad only 8 or 9 people will show up to the stadium to watch it. Go Sox.
This has to be a first right? I mean, they stole like 23 bases against us in a game earlier this year didn't they? Maybe that by itself is the immediate impact of getting rid of Brad Penny. Thanks Brad, but if you start throwing gems and holding runners on in San Fran, I'm going to bash you.
Not only did the Rays not steal a base, but their fans didn't turn out for the most important game of the year for Tampa thus far. Only a little over 17 thousand decided to go and watch a great baseball game. No wonder why they shipped Kazmir out of town, they'll need to start charging 20 bucks a beer to keep their 65 million dollar payroll at this rate. The kids go back to school and no one shows up, simple as that (then again the Rays are 12th in the AL in attendance anyways).
Tuesday, September 1
The Red Sox begin a 3 game series with the Tampa Bay Rays tonight which is arguably their biggest series of the 2009 season. As each series comes and goes we'll probably say that another 4-5 times, but that doesn't make it any less true today.
The Sox have a 4 game lead in the Wild Card over the Rangers and they are up 5 on the Rays. This series gives them the opportunity to knock the Rays out, or let them right back in the race. Winning 2 out of 3 in
The Sox will start on the right foot with lefty stud Jon Lester on the mound tonight, the Rays counter with Andy Sonnanstine. Sonnanstine has had good success against the Sox in the past, same for tomorrow nights' starter Matt Garza. Ok Garza pretty much owns the Sox, but Beckett did beat him (not sure if Garza took the L in that game) earlier this season on Sunday night baseball.
Thursday night will feature what both teams hope is an aces of the future match up as Buchholz squares off against David Price. Neither of these guys have lived up to the expectations as the next big thing, but they are still young. Buchholz looked great against the Blue Jays, and I am very curious to see how he deals with the noise at the Trop if he gets into some trouble. Buchholz seems like he either cruises through a game with very little trouble, or the wheels shoot off in 4 different directions and he lights the bullpen on fire before leaving in the 5th inning after getting rocked.
In the beginning of the season I picked the Sox to win the division and the Rays to win the Wild Card, today it doesn't look like either of those outcomes are likely. The Ray's never really seem to hit their stride this year. We asked RaysAllDay blogger Devon Rogers about this years Rays and he offered the following:
"As for the fire, IMO, the Rays do not have the same fire. They lost some key guys in the clubhouse like Cliff Floyd, Jonny Gomes, and Eric Hinske, who didn't necessarily provide much on the field, but were great for the clubhouse. The Rays did not bring in anyone that has lit that fire from last year. They thought Pat Burrell would be that guy in the clubhouse and produce big numbers, but it hasn't worked out that way."
The Rays always have the fire when they play the Sox, but it's interesting that they haven't been able to replicate last year’s success. Sox fans can attest to this, no team will ever be like the 2004 team championship team (see the 2005 edition of the Sox).
After trading long time ace Scott Kazmir to the Angels we'll see what kind of fire the Rays play with. Kazmir was a well liked teammate and apparently that deal was not a popular one in the clubhouse. Although the Rays received two young and highly valued prospects, the move was largely seen as a way to cut Salary; Carl Crawford and Akinori Iwamura are free agents after the season.
The dog days of August are behind us, it's now September. There is one month of baseball left to decide who plays this fall and who his the links. Game on!