3.05 days, Go Sox.
Wednesday, March 31
3.05 days, Go Sox.
(This guy has "I'll be your sponsor" written all over him right?)....
The ITM mailbox gets its fair share of emails. Most are promotional or charity offerings from local and/or made up organizations looking for free exposure....but this one may take home the prize for most random thus far in 2010....
"To whom it may concern, my name is ******* and I consult for a company called PLB Sports. PLB Sports is a company that focuses on creating food products that are endorsed by athletes. For example, if you've ever seen Dustin Pedroia's salsa in the Boston area? PLB is the company that created that product.
I am writing to you today because PLB is bringing out another product in the Boston area and I need your help. PLB's new product is a beef jerky with Kevin Youkilis (Youk's Jerky), and I have convinced PLB to send out samples to particular people in return for them doing a blog post about the product (if you want to do tweets and mention on Facebook, then by all means). I've looked through various Boston Red Sox's blogs and forums, and believe that your site could be beneficial to PLB publicity-wise. So, if you are interested in the promotion, I would ask that you would please respond tothis email with your contact information so that we can discuss further details (i.e. info in blog post, where to send the jerky, etc.)
Thank you for your time,"
Really? Youk's Jerky? Is this for real? What's next? Pedroia's Legos? Beckett's Dip? JD's Snuggie?
Either way, ITM will likely be asking for a box or two...
Tuesday, March 30
Monday, March 29
-Dice-K just wrapped up a simulated game at the minor league facility. He threw 62 pitches and struck out seven over three innings of work, allowing two hits. The media is giving him the thumbs up and waving their Japanese flags, but I'd like him to do it in a game against some major league talent....not 18 year old kids.
-I can't figure out how Josh Beckett can't be offended by the rumors that the Sox will not go past 4 years in their extension offer. When you consider the AJ Burnett deal as the benchmark, and the 5 year, 82.5 million dollar package to bring Lackey to Boston, you have to assume Beckett is drooping some mean F Bombs and breaking stuff throughout the entire state of Texas. Perhaps it's a negotiating ploy, but if they're unwilling to go the extra mile to lock up Beckett, consider him gone (and possibly to the Yanks).
-Beckett is two years younger than Lackey
-He's had a comparable injury history
-He has better overall numbers than both Lackey and AJ (both regular and post season)
-He's been the ace of your rotation and leads by example, taking Lester under his wing
-He put us on his back in 2007 and carried us to a world series championship
Since when have the Sox become amazingly risk averse? Maybe being burned by all the current dead money on the books has caused them to act irrationally.....but to me, this is a slap in the face to our ace.
-I've been striking out in my efforts to find a Jose Iglesias t-shirt jersey thus far, any help would be appreciated. Maybe ITM just needs to get on the ball and make our own?
-The Rangers are reportedly still interested in Mike Lowell. I had someone in my office try to convince me the Marlins or some other NL team will grab him.....Seriously? With no DH there is no chance he goes to a NL squad. Mark it zero, next frame.
-For a list of the offseason improvements made to Fenway, check out the Herald's article here. Also, read the comments to the story and you'll think that all Red Sox fans are pathetic whiners. In fact, read the comments to any Herald article and all you'll see are complainers. Annoying.
Alright, lunch is over, back to the grind.
6 days.....Go Sox.
Saturday, March 27
While the basis of his article is subjective in nature, it centers around the following projections:
* -- Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projection
While the reduced homerun number can be argued, it's without a doubt concerning. Many believe the ultimate spread between taters will fall on the shoulders of Ortiz and Beltre. The gap between batting average, OBP, and Slugging are smaller percentages, but seem to favor the 2010 lineup.
Which brings us to the number we're all worried about, runs scored. The "minus 26" number is glaring, but when it breaks down to about one less run per week. The natural question then is, can Boston's offseason focus of bolstering the team's pitching and defense save us more than one run per week? My answer was an immediate yes.
Barring major injury, there is no reason why this team's enhanced pitching and defense can't hold opponents to an average of one less run per week throughout the season. Factor in what's expected to be a solid 8th and 9th inning bullpen presence and the math becomes easier to substantiate in your head.
My concern isn't completely eliminated, but the numbers help. Perhaps it's the natural nature of a Red Sox fan convincing him or herself of irrational hopes as the season approaches, but maybe, as the season comes to a close, the numbers will add up, and the Sox will be poised for a run deep into the playoffs with a truly balanced team. Maybe.
ITM note: Now that I've put this on record, if the Sox offense doesn't show up in 2010, Ortiz has a negative slugging percentage, and Beltre strikes out 287 times.....it's not my fault. Just sayin.
Friday, March 26
I know I linked to this a few days back....I'm just a little confused by this, I mean, I want it to be funny, I do, but it just doesn't do it for me. I have a hard time getting over how awkward Buchholz looks.
ESPN could have gone so many ways with an opening day Sox vs Yanks skit. Apparently, a number of players must have passed. Think about how good a Dusty and Jeter commercial could have been? Pap and Mo? V-Mart and Posada screaming at each other in Spanish? Ortiz and CC in a cheeseburger eating contest? The possibilities are endless.
Like I said, I want to like this commercial, but it doesn't do much to raise my excitement for opening day. It might also have something to do with the fact that opening day is on Easter Sunday night at 8pm. Not only do I have to listen to the horrible ESPN announcers but we can't even use it as an excuse to call in sick to work or school.
We got the short end of the stick in so many ways on this one.
Thursday, March 25
Tito might have the best line in the video, but you've got to hand it to V-Mart who went bilingual on Youk's ass. V-Mart and John Lackey are immediate impact guys in the clubhouse.
Wednesday, March 24
ITM Note: These are a filtered set of pictures we decided we could post without getting in trouble with real life issues (work, significant others, etc).
The crowd gathers at the Minor League Complex as Dice-K gets ready. There was not a fan or scout to be found the day before.
Joe Murph never takes a day off......usually.....sometimes. Blogging from his bberry (and/or feverishly checking the Georgetown score....I wasn't allowed to bring that game up for the rest of the trip).
Another set of solid seats in Bradenton against the Pirates.
By now, most of you know Dusty sprained his left wrist diving for a ball in the bottom of the first. Sure, it's nothing to be truly alarmed about, but if I was there at the park I probably would have tried to join his wife and new born baby in the locker room to check on him.
All information seems to indicate he'll by 100 percent in a few days time. I don't doubt he'll be asking Tito to run him out there by tomorrow.
The real concern (if you can call it that in Spring Training) from last night's game is Buchholz. He couldn't get through two innings, not only getting hit hard, but also showing signs of a lack of mental toughness on the mound.
I'm in the camp of wanting both Dice-K and Buchholz at the end of our rotation this year, with Wake eating the long relief and spot start innings. Buchholz has yet to convince anyone he's ready for the assured starting role this spring.
He's let up 8 runs in just 6 innings to big league hitters to this point. My concern doesn't necessarily stem from the numbers themselves, but rather the apparent regression in mental toughness. If you read his quotes after last night's game, you can tell he was distracted by movement on the base paths and situational pitching. It resulted in not only a lack of focus, but also in multiple "spikes" of both his fastball and change up, as well as plunking two batters and three walks.
I know, it's early, he'll likely figure it out, talent will prevail etc, but if focus is an issue now, what happens when he's at Yankee Stadium in a big spot? You can't blame the current struggles on "working on pitches" or "just trying to get his work in".
Going into this season I, and many others, have high expectations from the guy people think/thought is the key piece in getting Adrian Gonzalez. While those expectations remain high, my confidence at this point may not.
He needs to find his July/August 2009 if he expects to continue making commercials for ESPN.
T-minus 10 days.
Tuesday, March 23
You gotta love reality slapping you in the face. There is nothing like returning from Florida to the low 40's and pouring rain. With that in mind, a few short videos below help bring us back:
Dice-K taking on a minor league hitter at the training complex (ITM note: the hitter in this video is 16 years old. Yep, 16).
Here's Iggy tagging a triple in a Double AA game. Terrible camera operator, but we'll blame it on the beverages.
A near senseless video, but look at the quick hands! Man love for Iggy.
A close up look at Casey Kelly's mechanics. Short stride?
Lars Anderson, our 2008-2009 hero in the making....with the whiff.
We'll post a few more pictures etc sooner than later as well.
Monday, March 22
As many of you know by now, the Sox lost 11-9 today to a Rays team that featured the majority of its major league talent with James "big game" Shields on the mound. Shields pitched well for the Rays, and we decided it's games like today that gave James his nickname....(seriously, how did he really earn that nickname before pitching in a single big game?).
It's our last day in Ft Myers.....the skies are starting to clear and they'll definitely be able to get today's game in. Our fridge (pictured above) is evidence of the sad reality we face.....one lonely yuengling beer......some nasty Floridian water.....the Kia Rio gets returned tonight....and we make the unfortunate trip back North.
We need to check out in about 20 mins, but J Murph refuses to repack his stuff......he has yet to face the facts.
Today's game however, features what is likely to be Boston's starting lineup on opening day....in addition, we're rushing down to the minor league complex to watch Boston's newest addition, John Lackey, throw a few innings in a minor league game.
Boof Bonzer gets the start at City of Palms Park....needless to say we'll sink a few beers and giggle every time they announce his name. Boof.....can't get enough of it.
More to come on our last day....Go Sox. Go Boof.
Sunday, March 21
(Theo analyzing the Diceman)
Again, we'll have much better pics and additional video from the trip posted on Tuesday and Weds.
ITM sat beside the beat writers, press (mostly Japanese), as well as Theo and his entourage to watch Dice-k throw in a simulated game against some nervous minor leaguers.
We've got some good pictures and video we'll be posting later on; but it's safe to say Dice-K looks to be in great shape and showed no ill effects of his recent physical set backs.
The Dice man went a little over 2 innings, allowing no hits and walking one. He looked strong, pumping fastballs past hitters and using off speed pitches to keep the kids swinging and missing.
He still failed to really attack hitters, and needs to shake off some additional early rust, but he was effective.
It was definitely an anticipated event, with lots of press and cameras on hand, a far cry from yesterday's loose and free feeling. Theo watched quietly and said little....the same could be said for pitching coach John Farrell.
This morning left us feeling cautiously optimistic about Dice-K. Fingers crossed for continued positive progression.
Ok, it's nearly game time here, with nearly the full squad in the starting lineup and Lester on the mound.
More to come later, Go Sox.
Saturday, March 20
After stalking Casey Kelly for a bit, and learning that he was the starting pitcher in the Double AA match up against the Rays, we decided to take in a few innings.
We sat with Kelly's family and other minor leaguers with the 20 year old stud on the mound. It felt amazingly similar to watching a little league baseball game. With most fans up the street at the big league club, we got an up close and personal experience with the best prospects in the Sox system.
Kelly went 3 innings, allowing one earned run and some loud outs, but there is no doubt the kid has a ton of talent. He's got a live fastball with late movement and a great breaking ball, but got into trouble at times when missing a few of his spots over the plate.
I know we're pretty high on Iggy (our new nickname for Iglesias, pass it on) as it is, but he managed to confirm our man love even more today. He made a smooth backhanded play to his right and showed off a strong arm across the diamond to get a speedy runner. At the plate, he went 2 for 3, going to the opposite field with an outside fastball and hitting a triple to the left-center gap (ITM note: we have exclusive video of the triple, and other minor league happenings....we can call it exclusive because there were no other cameras there today....we'll post it once we get home).
We also managed to take in a bit of the Triple AAA game which was being played simultaneously on the adjacent field. Lars Anderson (pic below) worked a walk and showed off some speed around the bases, scoring from first on a double.
After about 4 innings we ran up the street to City Palms Park to take in the last few innings of the big league club. We got in to see Marco "don't hate on me" Scutaro hit a tater to give the Sox a 3-0. The high number players were quickly substituted in and the game ended at 6-0. After asking around, we were told Wakefiled was lights out for 5 quick innings....making Tito's job that much more difficult of course.
Here are a few blackberry pictures from the day, better pics/video to follow once we're back to upload them:
....yes, that last pic is a list of do's and don'ts for living with alligators......where are we???
We were lucky enough to meet and have a quick chat with Iglesias earlier this morning. Seems like a great guy who already speaks English well. He's been signing autographs, shaking hands and kissing babies. Safe to say my man love for the guy is at an all time high. We'll post a few pics of him as we can.
Alright, Casey Kelly is on the mound, Iglesias is at short, we're sitting with some other Sox minor leaguers in the stands and we're about to get underway. We'll report back with take aways...
Friday, March 19
- Josh Beckett, despite a shaky line on the day, is looking fit and strong. ITM got to the park a couple hours early to watch him long tossing, then staked out a spot on the ledge three feet away from 'Tek while Beckett had his bullpen session. The takeaway? - the man looks ready. 'Tek, too, was commenting on the stuff, and it looks like Beckett is making a focused effort to play around with some offspeed pitches this season.
- Ortiz, a little short on hits, is not short on swagger, watched one soar over the fence and into the swamp like he never expected that there could be any other result from a pitcher throwing something near him.
- Mike Cameron's famed personableness is no lie. Perfectly cordial to the legions of fans hanging over him during BP and bullpens telling him 'this ain't that pansy NL pitching, Mikey' like they know the man. ITM is as condescending as anyone when it comes to the NL, but don't taunt a professional athlete to his face, folks. It just shows an embarrassing lack of self-awareness (ie, we're fat and awkward). Cameron handled it classy in any event, letting the fans have their fun.
- Pitt's minor league facility has a lot of character. It's smaller than City of Palms Park, but they combine southern hospitality with family fun. We were able to talk baseball with some old timers without anyone getting heated....something that is harder to come by in Ft Myers, and of course nearly impossible up North (applicable to both NY and Boston).
.....We've got pictures and videos that we hope to be posting later, but for now, we're headed out to "Joe's Crab Shack" in downtown Ft Myers. To the handful of Floridians (Tampa fans) who follow this blog, we'll take any suggestions on places to eat/drink.
More to come....go Sox.
Wednesday, March 17
Only this year I don't have a Larry "Grandmama" Johnson poster or Tony, Toni, Tone, CD on my wishlist, and it's not Christmas eve either....it's Ft Myer's eve.
We'll be cutting our already unproductive workdays short tomorrow as it's time to head south for an extended weekend of baseball, sun, adult beverages and March Madness.
We'll do our best to keep the blog updated with some pictures and thoughts as we take in four ballgames and enjoy the surroundings.
Feel free to drop a comment or shoot us an email if you've gotspecific questions on how players look (not just Heidi). If you make it attempt to keep it clean we may post it, but a few of you clowns last year ruined your chances by the third word of your email.
Tuesday, March 16
Monday, March 15
Wait....Back up the truck.....all of a sudden Mike Lowell is disposable again.....Ortiz hit a tater and a single during a Spring Training game today.....All is right in the world.
The 34 year old slugger went 2 for 2 today....he's back!....forget about his 1 for 21 start this spring.....for the moment, feels as though he's cured the overall concern that he'll once again fall off a cliff for months at a time this season.
I can't deny my love for Ortiz....I was the biggest proponent of the "Trick question, Ortiz is god" saying back in 2003 and 2004. He helped Boston to two championship rings and contributed to many foggy nights for myself after celebrating Ortiz classic walk offs. He smashed the Red Sox single season home run record....he's a teddy bear goof ball with a smile on his face....how could you not love this guy?
But a lot has changed since the good old days. He'd like us to forget about his positive PED's test, the fact that he couldn't hit T Murph's weight over the first few months of 2009, and despite turning it on after June, he couldn't manage to get his average past his own weight by season end.
Like I said, I love Ortiz, I swear I do (by now I'm sure you're asking yourself if I'm doing some self-convincing with this post or not...), I'm just skeptical of the real value he's going to bring to the team in 2010. I hope he proves me, and everyone else wrong, but we've been burned by the recent past (in both fantasy and reality baseball.....yes, both are significant to me), and we can't bank on Ortiz-like production in 2010.
As a result of being a fan.....and being concerned....I'll be watching his ABs closely this weekend in Ft Myers. I've heard everything from slow bat speed to mechanical problems with his swing....either way I'll try not to freak out in the stands when he K's three times on Friday.
Sunday, March 14
Westmoreland, 19, one of Boston's top prospects, will go in for brain surgery on Tuesday (presumably at MGH) for what the media is calling cavernous malformations.
I'm not a doctor, nor do I pretend to even know the proper pronunciation of the condition, but I did a quick good search and here is what I got (courtesy of the Mayo clinic):
Cavernous malformations are vascular malformations in the brain or spinal cord. Also known as brain cavernous hemangiomas or cavernomas, cavernous malformations are groups of abnormally tiny and larger, thin-walled blood vessels filled with blood that may slowly seep into surrounding tissue. The leakage of blood from the cavernoma may be more significant and cause what is called a hemorrhage.
One good thing I get out of the above is that it doesn't sound cancerous....but it certainly sounds like something you wouldn't wish on anyone....so best of luck to Ryan. Get well soon.
PS: David Beckham blew out his achilles earlier today, erasing any chances of him playing in the world cup and possibly ending his career. Soccer? That's right, I only care because I did the same thing and my blogging career was in question for some time.
Saturday, March 13
Thursday, March 11
Upon hearing the explanation, Mets third baseman David Wright yelled over, “For everything you brought to that city, they should cheer for you.” Bay seemed genuinely amused — while still somewhat surprised — coming away from the re-introduction to his former teammates with an understanding of the situation.
“They travel well,” said Bay of the Red Sox fans in attendance. “I didn’t expect to get cheered. I’m not there anymore.”
Tuesday, March 9
Saturday, March 6
There are a handful of very important weekends throughout the year......Easter weekend, July 4th etc....and then there's the fantasy baseball draft weekend.
In our distorted world, the word fantasy should be struck from the phrase, to us, it's very real.....and it's this weekend.
The draft may be tonight at 7pm, but people have started congregating in Plymouth since last night. Wives are left at home, children and dogs are nearly forgotten, it's game time.
Hours, days and weeks of preparation are put into draft strategies and projections......only for some of us to have a few too many adult beverages before it even begins, resulting in selecting Steven Drew in the third round (it happens).
The continuous question is always whether or not to draft a Red Sox ballplayer for your fantasy team. Personally, I have Dusty as my second basemen (who I kept as a part of my keeper league), and it can be difficult to watch.
Last year, I also had David Ortiz....which is why I wrote constant posts about how terrible he was for the first two months....he effectively sank my chances last year.
This year will be tough...do you draft Dice-K as a ultra late round pick as a back end arm? He's got upside, but he's on your "real" team....which you stress out about everyday anyways....why compound the stress levels?
Should be an interesting night and spring training, both fantasy and real.
Wednesday, March 3
Casey Kelly is a stud. He's a great athlete with all the talent in the world.....and he's likely to be up with the big boys sooner than later (although not this year)......let's just remember one thing: It's Northeastern and BC they're playing today.......
I had a coworker run over to my desk to tell me Casey Kelly threw a perfect inning.....
Boston.com's Direct Quote: "It's Casey Kelly's world and we're all just living in it. The phenom retired the side on 10 pitches, seven strikes."
Sure let's get excited.....but pump the breaks and realize some context. The game isn't even televised.
I mean, Ino Guerrero, one of the team's staff members, pinch hit for Ortiz in the 5th inning (he grounded out, and presumably hurt himself trying to leg out an infield single to save face).
I'm right there with everyone with the excitement. Sure I'll be checking the box score and I've already refreshed Boston.com about 9 times for updates....but I'm trying to remind myself (via this post) and everyone else that we're not talking about a true Spring Training game....it's not a game against an AL East rival.....or even a farm team......or even a collegiate powerhouse like Texas or LSU.....we're essentially talking about a structured practice against the mediocre baseball schools of Northeastern and BC. Yes, we're talking about practice.
All that said, it is nice to know we're getting closer to "real" games......and I'd love to see Pedroia crush some lasers right at the college kids in the field.