Wednesday, March 31

Opening Day Countdown. How Old am I Again?


The picture above is my white board at work...it's a countdown to opening day. I've had it running since returning from Ft Myers a few weeks back.

I had to add in the "until opening day" detail today since a co worker asked if I was really that excited for Easter. Clearly that individual doesn't know me very well, nor is she from Boston. I gave her a pass.

I didn't think twice about doing it, but today I had the memory of being 7 years old and having a "days until Christmas" countdown on a chalkboard in my room.

I'd like to think I've matured past that age, but I'm starting to question it.

Either way, we're so close that I'm already getting pissed off about the idea of an off day on Monday. If we lose opening night that's far too long for me to hear, listen, think and blog about it.
3.05 days, Go Sox.

"Youk's Jerky"? Is This Email For Real?

(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

Boston, Meet Your Future Ace


He's a 20 year old kid who just transitioned from shortstop to a full time starting pitcher. He turned down a full ride to Tennessee to be the University's starting quarterback. He's athletically gifted but still trying to find his ultimate role in the game of baseball. Today, he gave you reason to believe he's the real deal.

On the mound for the big league club, under the pressure of an ESPN national broadcast, and against an elite major league lineup, Casey Kelly kept things in check.


He was admittedly nervous this afternoon, but lasted three innings against the Rays, looking dominate at times while keeping his composure when their offense threatened. He threw 61 pitches, striking out 4 (including the meat of their order), while giving up two runs on three hits to the mighty Rays lineup (those last four words still just don't seem right when I type them, but it's true).


Kelly had most recently been facing double AA competition down at the minor league complex, but fared well today on a much bigger stage and being under the microscope.


ITM got a close up look at Kelly while down in Ft. Myers, and I can say without a doubt that the ability is there. His stuff is electric. As he matures as a pitcher, there is no reason he can't be a force in the big leagues......let's just hope he's not rushed in that process.
5 Days, Go Sox.

Monday, March 29

ITM: Going Around the Horn

Quick lunchtime post to help me get through another rain-filled Monday.

-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).

Please remember:

-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

Projecting the 2010 Red Sox Offense

For those of you who don't endlessly search the Internet for Red Sox news, ESPN's Jason Stark recently had an interesting article on the projected Red Sox offense output in 2010. He does his best to talk us Bostonians off a ledge about our offense, and for the most part, I'm buying what he's selling.

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

Is This Sox/Yanks Commercial Funny? Or Just Terrible?

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

Clubhouse Video - What Should Youk's Opening Day Facial Hair Look Like?

It's the question on everyone's mind.....what will Youk's facial hair be on opening day? Instead of choosing on his own this year, Youk has opened it up to a Democratic vote inside Boston's clubhouse. Take a look (thanks to redsox.com for the video)


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

Pics From ITM in Ft Myers - Until Next Year

We here at ITM are already planning next year's trip to Ft Myers. The next 10 days are likely to drag prior to opening day......but for now, we can look back on some of the pics below and remember happier, warmer times in Ft Myers.



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.


Solid seats for the Sox/Astros game.


View from the right field seats.



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).




How does Theo always manage to look so cool? Serious man love/envy.


Getting a close up view of Casey Kelly's bullpen session. Joe ponders if he could take him deep.



Another set of solid seats in Bradenton against the Pirates.


BP at the City of Palms Park.




The Pirate's stadium in Bradenton....certainly smaller than City of Palms Park....but we liked the Cape League-like feel.


Iggy knows a high roller when he sees one..



Iggy, shaking hands, kissing babies, spinning double plays and knocking triples. In a word, studly.

Glad We Missed It

(is that Buchholz or Bronson Arroyo?)

Part of me is glad we returned from Ft Myers early enough to miss last night's game against the Twins......Ask me that again by the end of the day and I'll likely have a very different answer.


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

A Few Short Videos From Ft Myers

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:

video

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).

video

Here's Iggy tagging a triple in a Double AA game. Terrible camera operator, but we'll blame it on the beverages.

video

A near senseless video, but look at the quick hands! Man love for Iggy.

video

A close up look at Casey Kelly's mechanics. Short stride?

video

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

Signing Off From Ft Myers


ITM concluded an amazingly successful trip to Ft Myers today. Joe Murph has just taken off for JFK and I'm left to conclude our trip via blackberry. Ft Myers airport is much less appealing when you're leaving, but we got the most out of our short stay in Boston South.


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?).


Anyways, some quick takeaways from the City of Palms Park:


-Boof Bonser, today's starter for the home team got through the first inning cleanly...but that's about it. The Rays teed off on him after that. The burly right hander surrendered a tater to Longoria and let up base hit after base hit afterwards. Later in the day he told the team he was suffering from some groin problems while on the mound. The jury remains out on Boof....awesome name aside.


-We decided today that while Jacoby and Dustin have been on point, the biggest surprise in our eyes was the play of Mike Cameron. He blasted yet another gap-ball double in the middle innings and showed off his power all weekend. We're eagerly awaiting his performance once the games begin to count, but as of right now, he's been very impressive.


-JD Drew got picked off first base today....to which Joe Murph responded: "yea, but didn't he look like a gazelle doing it?" Some people are just amazing.


-This just in, Evan Longoria is a stud. He blasted an absolute shot off the scoreboard in the 6th inning, his second of the day. He also displayed an impressive glove with a great play down the third base line. That said, we were quick to remind ourselves, and everyone around us, of the recent story where Tampa's coach called Beltre the hands down best glove he's ever seen.....it made us feel better at the time.


-Not that it's about winning at this point, but the Sox managed to drop every game while we were down here.....and they were never in this game. Despite the 11-9 final, it was only made close as a result of some garbage time production in the 8th and 9th by guys no one has heard of.


Alright, it's boarding time so I'll cut this short for now. We'll be posting more throughout the week on our thoughts and include pics/video.


We'll miss Ft Myers, and sinking adult beverages at 2am in front of a fire (see above), but we're already planning our trip for next year. It's an annual requirement at this point.

ITM's Last Day - Facing Reality......Later


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

ITM: Going Around the Horn From Ft Myers



(We had a great view of Pap getting smacked around today....)



We're still drying off from today's Grapefruit League game at City of Palms Park. The game was called in the 8th after the skies opened up with rain, wind and lightning. The game ended with the Sox being on the wrong end of a 10-7 score, but there was a lot of action behind the numbers. Quickly going around the horn, here are some takeaways we had:


-With good seats just off set behind home plate, Joe Murph was finally able to see the ball off the bat....the past few days have been full of Joe ducking every time he hears the ball hit the bat in fear of a foul ball pinging him off the dome....he's amazingly blind.



-Jon Lester went 5 strong innings, striking out 7 while letting up 3 runs to a split squad from Houston. He featured a good mix of off-speed pitches and an overpowering fastball that mostly hit the spots. We're in agreement that he looks more than ready to start the season at this point.



-Marco Scutaro is just as short as Dusty. They're both listed at 5'9", but there is no way either is taller than 5'6".


-Boston's top of the order is on fire. Ellsbury showed off his power, speed and defense by going 3 for 4 at the plate and making a few nice plays in his new home in left field. Pedey followed him every time with a hit of his own...including turning on a fastball to hit a bomb over the left field fence. He can hit that pitch.


-Mike Cameron may strike out 180 times this year, but he'll hit for some power as well. He continues to swing a heavy stick at the plate. He belted a tater and hit a deep gap ball today. A productive Mike Cameron at the bottom of the order would really help to balance a top heavy lineup.


-Pap. Oh Pap. We screamed at the clouds to hold off all afternoon so we could watch a clean inning from you.....and you pitched just like you did in Game 3 last year. Pap has been effective all Spring, but just didn't have it today. He reportedly had a migraine, was noticeably failing to locate his fastball while working in some breaking stuff. In the end, it didn't matter what he threw, everything got hit, and hit hard. He allowed 6 runs, 5 earned, all while only getting one out. One. For now we're not worried, we'll call it an outlier of a performance.


-Ramon Ramierez and D Bard came in to clean up Pap's trash. Bard pumped fastballs by guys with uniform numbers in the 80's and 90's. It just wasn't a fair fight.


-WHERE IS HEIDI? It's been an amazing trip for ITM thus far, but one major missing piece is the absence of Boston's best asset.....Heidi Watney. With tomorrow being our last day, we'll undoubtedly be searching high and low.



Alright, we're off to the Ft Myers beach area for food and drinks. We'll be at tomorrow's game and will make attempts to post via our b-berries.




(Dice-K this morning....clearly my bberry has amazing picture quality)






(Theo analyzing the Diceman)












(Sean Mcadam looking slim and getting the scoop)


Again, we'll have much better pics and additional video from the trip posted on Tuesday and Weds.

Di├že-K Update

Little live blogging as we take in some BP at the City of Palms Park.

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

A Quick Recap From Ft Myers

ITM just returned to our disaster of a hotel room after a great day of baseball. We were lucky enough to meet, take a picture, and briefly chat with Jose Iglesias after morning workouts at the minor league complex a few miles away from City of Palms Park. Safe to say our tails were wagging in excitement.

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???

ITM Ft Myers Update From the Minor League Complex

Another beautiful day down here in Ft Myers. We're currently watching Jose Iglesias play catch and Casey Kelly warm up for their upcoming minor league match up against the Rays.

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

A Quick ITM Update From Ft Myers

ITM shook off a few cobwebs this morning and traveled two hours north to Bradenton, Florida for the Sox/Pirates game. We won't brag about rocking a Kia Rio all day, instead, here are a few of our takeaways:

- 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

ITM: Ft Myers Bound


Remember when you were a 9 year old kid? You had a four page Christmas wishlist full of complete crap that somehow seemed like true necessities at the time? Remember how excited you used to get on Christmas eve as a result? Well that's pretty much how we here at ITM feel right now.


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.


Go Sox.

Tuesday, March 16

The Priceless Dusty Quotes Are Endless...


A quick afternoon post for those of you who may have missed a classic Pedroia comment today.....


Pedroia to his new teammate John Lackey:


"Hey Lackey, I heard you signed here for the minimum just so you don’t have to face me anymore."


With no real formal response from Lackey, he's got a long way until he's fully assimilated into Dustin Pedroia's clubhouse. Expect more to ball busting to follow.


ITM is currently considering ways to make Dusty come out with us for some beers while we're down in Ft Myers....first inclination is to just make fun of him until he likes us......talk about priceless.


Go Sox.

Monday, March 15

Ortiz: "See How Much I Poured?"


WEEI.com: “What I said the other day is totally true. This is my 14th spring training and nobody talked to me about my numbers in spring training before,” said Ortiz after his Red Sox’ dropped an 8-4 decision to the Orioles, at City of Palms Park, “so I can’t believe you guys are kind of getting encouraged into (doing) that.”

“Oh, you guys are going to see some results,” Ortiz insisted, “believe me.”


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

Shout Out to Ryan Westmoreland

We often joke around here on ITM, but when it comes to a teenager having to go through brain surgery, that's no laughing matter. As a result, my moral compass wouldn't allow me to go to sleep tonight without a quick post to wish Ryan Westmoreland good luck.

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

Cameron is Fighting Father Time, and Winning


Sometimes, I get back to my computer and there are 8 quick gchat IM's from Joe Murph's waiting for me. It's rare, but when it happens, I know he's shaking like a school girl at his computer. I've known Joe since preschool...so I can literally hear his voice get higher as he fails to control his excitement.


Yesterday, he nearly reached the end of the internet to find the carve out below from SI.com....so I felt the need to pass it along:


"Mike Cameron, 37, who barely finished behind Jacoby Ellsbury in all of the Sox's agility and speed drills on the first day of spring training, has led National League center fielders in UZR each of the past two seasons."


Has Cameron found the fountain of youth? Most guys are hanging them up at 37, instead, he's checking in right behind one of the best athletes in the game in all of the agility and speed drills? (a player who is also over 10 years younger) Really?


There is no denying that going from J-Bay to Mike Cameron is an overall downgrade, but like true Sox fans, we're searching for optimism.


That said, we all have questions about his 300 likely strikeouts (plus or minus), moving Jacoby to left field, and the actual importance of UZR's.


For Cameron especially, time will tell. Red Sox fans will either love him, or hate him.

Thursday, March 11

J-Bay's Feelings Are Hurt: Did He Not Play in This City?


I don't pretend to know Jason Bay....but he seems like a stand up guy from the Great White North. He's a quality ball player that gives it his all and keeps to himself. In the end, he wanted more money and years than the Red Sox, and every other rational team in baseball, were willing to pony up.


He went to the Mets.
....that sad, red-headed stepchild of a baseball team in NYC. Most Sox fans got past it with relative ease....but that doesn't mean we forget.


J-Bay was greeted by some boos when the Sox played the Mets in a Spring Training away game this afternoon. According to WEEI.com:


Upon stepping into the batter’s box in second inning of New York’s game against the Red Sox, at Tradition Field Jason Bay was announced to the fans at the spring training home of the Mets and was peppered with a smattering of “boos.” Bay’s reaction? “I thought it was a little harsh,” the former Red Sox outfielder said with a grin. When asked how he would classify the reception, Bay explained, “It was luke-warm, at best.”

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.”


J-Bay and D Wright have to be kidding.....right? Didn't J-Bay play in Boston for more than a year? He knows how much our hometown team means to us. Everything about the Sox has an irrational effect on our lives....when you're on our team (and you produce), you're god....but when you run to another team equally far away from your "home" for more money....well then see we have a problem.


Let's be honest, if the Sox lose a tough game, most people know to stay away from me the next day. My wife sometimes grabs me a beer out of the fridge and hands it to me without saying a word. I liked J-Bay, I still only call him by his nickname.....but it's not like he put us on his back and brought us to the promise land. We don't owe him a thing. If anything, Boston brought him into the spotlight and made him a household name (as well as a boatload of money).


Unless he's on my fantasy team, he's no longer on my radar. He can get swallowed by the giant new stadium in New York.....and storm on home when his Mets eventually blow any chance of making the playoffs once the games become significant.


J-Bay, you know better. We loved you. However, now some of us will still cheer for you, some will boo, but most of us just won't care.

Tuesday, March 9

Could You Deal With 10 More Years of Dice-K?


10 More Years. 10 More Years.

The Diceman told WEEI this morning that he would like to play at least 10 more years in the United States.....and hopes to pitch until he is 44 or 45. He cited Nolan Ryan as his role model. Dice-k said:


“I think both personally and from a family standpoint we’re all enjoying our lives over here in the U.S., and if at all possible I would like to play over here as long as I can,” ......“I guess in the very least I hope that I can play for at least another 10 years here in the U.S. Yeah, 10 years is a long time and it’s tough to imagine what it’s going to be like that far out, but at the same time when I’m 40, or older than 40, I want to still be able to pitch.”


Nolan Ryan is a great role model to have....especially if he needs to learn the proper way to lock Robin Ventura in a headlock and beat the bag out of the guy....plus he was a decent hurler.

While I can appreciate optomism and ambition.....I'm not sure I can deal with 10 more years of Dice-K. Sure, he's still in his prime and likely has some good pitching ahead of him....but 10 more years of 145 pitches over 5 innings? 10 more years of constant bases loaded jams and pressure situations? Two years ago, there was a novelty to it, and more often than not, he somehow got out of it.....but that got old fast when hitters started spraying rockets all the way to Japan off of him.


As a die-hard Sox fan....I'm not sure if I can justify 10 more years of Dice-K to my doctor....or my wife....or my job. (ITM note: I'm also not entirely sure the Boston bullpen would look forward to another decade of the Diceman....think about how bored they must get out there.....and then think about how much more taxed they are as a result of his inefficiency).



Either way, those are some lofty expectations for a guy entering the season as at best, a number four pitcher.

Dice-K wants us to believe in him for the next decade, but first he needs to convince he's deserving of being here just this year.

Saturday, March 6

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Draft Day

(Yes this is our League's photo....and yes our league name is "Jim Abbott's Stumps"...what of it?)


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.


Game on.

Wednesday, March 3

Calm Down, It's Northeastern and BC

Just a quick mid-afternoon rant here......

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.
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