Thursday, October 18, 2007

It Ain't Over...Yet

I don't understand what has happened to the Sox...what happened to the nine batters in the top 42 in pitches per at bat? How do you go from that to being completely inept at the plate in one extra inning game? I don't get it...You pretty much got what was to be expected from Wake but what is going on with the offense.
Like I said I am a fan of the way that Tito sticks with his guys but we could use a lineup shake least move around some guys like Pedroia and Yook maybe hit Ellsbury lead-off instead of Coco? At this point could it really hurt that much to take out Coco for a game? I like Coco, I really do but something has to be said for the spark Ellsbury gave the Sox down the stretch. The most encouraging stat of the last two days…the 2004 Red Sox were the last team to come back from down 3-1…oh and while we are on the subject the last team before the Sox…the 2003 Marlins against the Cubs…guess who pitched the game that sparked that turn around, yup you got it Josh Beckett.

See all is not lost we are one dominating Beckett performance and a Cleveland equivalent of Bartmann away from coming back and making a Rockies-eque run to the World Series. I talked about Ellsbury subbing in for JD Drew after watching the Red Sox look inept at that plate for two days I think Tito should have gone with Jacoby for Coco Crisp...granted JD was brought in to be a five hitter and that's not what the Sox are expecting from Coco but I think the Sox could have used Jacoby in the lineup against Byrd.

Going into a backs-against-the-wall game five the thing that makes me most nervous is the fact that this team isn’t at loose as the 2004 team. Granted you don’t need Johnny Damon doing naked pull-ups or anything but they seem tense. Of course there is always Manny to save us…there was a lot of outrage over his comments about losing not being the end of the world. And you know what, he’s right it’s not. If they go into these games thinking we have to win or else the chances of trying to do too much and failing are much greater.

I heard people say Manny looked stupid after he hit that home run last night and he was pimpin it at the plate becasue the Sox are down but didn't he do the same thing in 2003 in Oakland? If memory serves me correctly the Sox were down and Manny wasn't hitting well he hit a homer, pimped it and the Sox came back to win the series on two of the most codes pitches i've ever seen al la Derek Lowe

Hopefully the fact that the guys were playing Tecmo Bowl in the clubhouse yesterday means they are loose and if they are loose and play like they have nothing to lose then I think the Sox have a great chance to come back. I know it’s a little much to think the Sox could have two improbable comebacks in 2004 and 2007 but with a little luck it could definitely happen.

If you think about it the Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees in ’04 and Mark Bellhorn and Johnny Damon were something like 2-for-23 (I think that’s right) then all of a sudden they come around and the Sox win eight in a row. Like I said we are only a few bounces going our way from coming back. Namely a Drew and Crisp or Pedroia turnaround, those guys can help Otriz, Manny and Lowell carry the load we could see another World Series in Boston.

Manny turned it around in the ’03 ALDS, Damon and Bellhorn in the ’04 ALCS, all we need is someone to do it in 2007. I just hope it’s not too late, and I really hope tonight isn’t one of those games where everyone says ‘there’s no way they lose this game’ then they get smoked. Can Tom Brady lend Drew, Crisp or Pedroia some of his ‘I am winning this f’n game’ swag for a night or two? Please.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Let's Go Wakefield

I guess I was wrong in thinking that Ken Rosenthal was getting tired of being asked about whether the Red Sox would start Beckett in tonight's game. This is what he wrote today on Fox Sports...he makes a good argument for why the Red Sox should start Beckett on short rest but I have to disagree.

A lot of the debate is centered around Beckett's shutout of the Yankees to clinch the '03 World Series. Think about this when Beckett pitched on three days rest in 2004 it was the last day of the season. There wasn't going to be another game and that could still be the case if the Sox don't win tonight but Tito managing to win a World Series.

That means he has to think about the fact that he's going to want Beckett to pitch twice in the World Series...of course they have to make it there...but in 2003 the very old school Jack McKeon wasn't concerned with Beckett coming back to pitch again until the day pitchers and catchers reported in 2004.

I'm not even going to go into the fact that the numbers are pretty clearly against starting guys on three days rest and that's because Beckett is not someone like Chen-Ming Wang and I'm sure he'd be fine on short rest. The biggest thing here is that Tito has already said he's going with Wakefield but Fox and ESPN insist that there is a story here. There might be a debate about whether that is the right choice but it's not a story, the Sox are going with Wake...and they should.

If the Red Sox are going to win the ALCS, never mind the World Series, then someone besides Josh Beckett is going to have to win a game.

If you throw Beckett tonight and tie the series at 2-2 then what? the Combo of Wake, Schilling and Dice-K still has to win at least one game. I love Beckett and he is pitching great but someone else has to step up or it won't matter if he wins game one, four and seven. I agree with Tito and think that going with Wakefield tonight and Beckett on normal rest you have a better chance of winning the series than trying to rely solely on the right arm of Josh Beckett.

I think that's more of a reason not to start Beckett tonight than worrying about him getting hurt. I don't think the Red Sox are worried that he'll get hurt or even get lit up. I think they are conscious of the fact that someone else needs to win a game...or at least pitch more than 4+ innings. Also if the Sox beat the Indians last night would C.C. Sabathia be pitching tonight on 3 days rest? Would that be the big story today...the Indians are crazy to not start Sabathia or the Indians are coddling Sabathia by not starting him on three days rest.

People probably wouldn't be saying that about Sabathia because he has not pitched all that well but what about things over in the NL? Brandon Webb didn't pitch on three days rest for the D-Backs and they were down 3-0 in the NLCS. Why aren't people talking about Arizona being crazy for not starting its ace on three days rest in an elimination game? The Red Sox offense needs to start clicking and stop stranding runners. It's the same as the pitching someone other than Beckett needs to win a game and someone other than Manny, Papi and Lowell needs to get some clutch hits.

The real questions surrounding who the Red Sox should send out isn't about who should pitch but whether the Sox should stick with JD Drew or switch to Jacoby Ellsbury in right. I am sure there is a large contingent of people that are feeling like JD's had his chance and its time to bring in Jacoby but I have to disagree.

Something has to be said for Drew's experience and the fact that Ellsbury only has 160-some-odd at-bats. I know you're thinking I'm only saying that because I said I thought he'd have good postseason, clearly i was wrong but I think you have to go the Tito route and stick with you guy in this case.

My reasoning for this is simple. Everyone hates the fact that Drew seems to play with no emotion he just goes out and plays, sometimes well sometimes not so well. Either way he carries himself like his veins are full of embalming fluid...and maybe some Worcestershire sauce...people here love guys like Trot and Youkilis who wear their emotion on their sleeves but that's not JD Drew and that is exactly why he is perfect for this series. Look at what Pedroia has done in the post season. He was .317/.380/.422 with 50 RBI, a team low 42 strikeouts in 520 at-bats in the regular season. In the postseason he's .160/.222/.240 with seven strikeouts and one RBI in 25 at-bats.

I think that is a result of him trying to do to much, changing his approach to the plate and trying to force it. Drew isn't going to do that he's going to stick to his gameplan and emotion is not going to make him try to force it.

Granted his gameplan hasn't worked all that well he's not going to succum to the pressures of the biggest stage. I have faith in Jacoby and I wouldn't be upset if the Sox sent him out there I just don't know if it's the right move. As for tonight I think it might be best to start Bobby Kielty as his numbers against Paul Byrd are pretty good.

Monday, October 15, 2007

And so Began the Curse of Kason Gabbard

I hate Eric Gagne. It is really that simple...he eats. I know I said that I thought the Red Sox would win the ALCS in 6 games but oh it BURNS to watch the Sox lose a winnable game like the Saturday night debacle.

I am not criticizing Tito for going with Gagne in the 11th like he did, he really didn't have much of a choice at that point and even if he loaded the bases in game one he still got out of the jam. Here is my issue thought. You cannot trust Gagne in any situation even if it's 10-3 he still almost made it interesting. Gagne was the best choice we had at that point, but that is the problem. You can't feel good about the Red Sox bullpen after Papelbon. MDC, Okie and Timlin have been getting it done but Gagne and Lopez, yikes.

Also Lester has two career relief appearances so he's not a great option. It comes down to this the offense has to stop stranding runners and guys like Tek, Coco and Lugo have to start coming up with hits. Manny, Papi and Lowell can only do so much. I hate the fact that Gagne is even on the playoff roster. Tito is all about sticking with his guys and I think he does a great job in the long term but sometimes his short-term moves are questionable.

In this case I think the decision to stick with Gagne was a poor one, maybe he'll prove me wrong but does anyone have any faith in this guy at this point? When he runs out of the bullpen shouldn't Johnny Cash's version of 'Hurt' (I will let you down. I will make you hurt) be booming on the PA system? He's that depressing, it makes me want to re-enact that scene from Royal Tennenbaums when Richie shaves his beard then goes train tracks on his arms.

Like I said I'm not second-guessing Tito for going to Gagne but I am second-guessing having him on the playoff roster. I really think it would have been more effective to have Brian Corey, Tavarez (he's solid the first time through the lineup) or Clay Buchholz. I would be infinitely more confident in anyone of those guys. Of course you probably wouldn't be going to Buchholz in the 11th but I could see Corey or Tavarez coming in and in my opinion we should be. What to do with Gagne? Most people I've talked to wouldn't mind repeatedly kicking him in the nuts but in my opinion should he be tarred and feathered outside the Cask n Flagon.

Hey Joe and Tim the Sox aren't starting Beckett on three days rest, so please, for my sanity, shut the fuck up...Why do they keep talking about this. At some point Ken Rosenthal is going to pick up a bat and march into the broadcast booth. Really, Tito vehemently said that Tim Wakefield was starting game four. They are not going to bring Beckett back on three days rest, even if it might seem like a more desirable situation.

All I know is the bats need to come through in game three or it is going to be a Rockies-Indians World Series. I love Mike Lowell but I could really go for a Bill Mueller at-bat right now...lets see if my faith in JD gets rewarded...nope...a game two loss looms ever larger now that we couldn't beat Jake Westbrook. If Tim Wakefield were ever going to pitch a career game, tomorrow would be a good time.

To tell you the truth I actually have faith in Wake. He's been hurt and that’s not good but if he is on he can be really, really tough on hitters. If he can avoid that one inning where he just loses it we'll be in good shape. Game four is pretty much a win-at-all-costs game you don't want to go down three games to one to the Indians with Sabathia being the guy you have to face in an elimination game. Even if the Sox and Yankees did knock him around he's still tough and I feel like there is a better chance he'll pitch well then not well. Then again the Sox could be throwing Beckett, but I'd still feel a lot better going into game five tied at 2-2 then down 3-1. Yeah thanks captain obvious.

My superstitions are starting to get the best of me they aren’t what they were in 2004 or 2001 for that matter. Back then I was knocking on wood so frequently that I couldn’t hold a pencil in school the day after the Super Bowl but we are getting there. I have worn the same jeans t-shirt, hat and jersey to watch all three games and tonight for good measure I broke out the ‘04 shirt for a little extra mojo. Unfortunately it’s not working.

Don’t be alarmed though I still have a few aces up my sleeves for the remaining games. I’m pulling out all the stops tomorrow and bringing in the big guns…a.k.a. Petunia (yeah she’s a dashboard hula girl but she’s lucky)…God, the girlfriend is going to hate me by the time the playoffs are over.

Friday, October 12, 2007

ALCS Preview

I don’t know if you know this, and if you’ve been watching ESPN recently you might not, but the Red Sox and Indians are playing in the ALCS. I know the Yankees stories are interesting but I think most of it can hold off until something actually happens or the season ends.

There are too solid series coming up. Even if I really don’t care about the Rockies or the Diamondbacks I’m still going to watch it because who the hell would have thought the Rockies would be on the roll that they are on right now. Obviously I’ll be watching the Sox-Indians, that is a no-brainier. Here is my version of a preview/things I’m looking forward to.

First, game one, the two front runners for the Cy Young award going head to head at Fenway. I’ve always been partial to pitchers duels, I’m not sure why but they are more exciting to me than a high scoring game. I think it’s because every hit or runner in scoring position could turnout to be the game. By the time you get to the sixth or seventh inning there is so much emotion and excitement attached to each strike call or each base runner and in my opinion that makes for a more thrilling finish.

Second, this is a really, really good match up. Cleveland has great starting pitching and they’ll be able to start Sabathia and Carmona twice in the seven game series. The Red Sox will also get to start their one-two pitchers twice. At the start of the playoffs the Sabathia-Carmona duo loomed a lot larger than Beckett-Schilling or Beckett-Dice-K but now I’d say Cleveland has a slight edge in starting pitching but the Sox have the more solid bullpen and I’ll take Dice-K/Wake/Lester over Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd.

Also no more shots of Aaron Boone or Bucky Dent by hopefully plenty of shots of Pedro coming out of the bullpen in 1999.

Schilling might be the most important piece in the ACLS for the Sox. He has been pitching great over the last month or so and looked tremendous in the DS. If the Sox can get a start like his performance in game three then Schilling-Carmona could come down to one or two key hits. If that is the case I like the Red Sox chances. Not to discredit the Indians with guys like Sizemore, Hafner, Garko and Blake but I really think the advantage is to the Red Sox with Manny, Papi, Lowell, Yook, Tek, Coco and even JD Drew.

Yes JD Drew, I will continue to say that he’s going to come through even if I continue to take flak for it. Here are his numbers from the ALDS.

Two hits in 11 at bats, one run scored, three RBI, .182 batting average/OBP/SLG. That is not good but here is a positive stat. In the two LCS he’s played in he is 9-for-25 with three runs, two RBI, a .360 batting average, .385 OBP and .520 Slugging. Not great but not Nancy Drew either. Although in eight postseason series his teams have gone 3-5 including 0-2 in LCS. I guess it’s a good thing we are banking on Manny, Papi, Beckett, Schill and Paps.

I know that you can’t deny how good C.C. Sabathia is, but I read this on Sons of Sam Horn the other day…

Manny versus Sabathia:.571/.609/1.286 = 1.895 (23 PA)

Also, I know I just talked about JD Drew coming through but I read this on the same SOSH post…Kielty versus Sabathia: .310/.375/.655 = 1.030 (32 PA)…JD enjoy the extra day off.

The big guns will do there thing in this series which means its probably going to come down to one or more of the following key players - Rafel Bettencourt (who is also codes), Joe Borowski, Victor Martinez, MDC, Okie, Drew or Dice-K. Both bullpens are going to be huge in this series and if the Sox can get to the Cleveland pen it will be interesting to see how Borowski does against Manny, Papi and the rest of the Sox lineup.

Of course if the two teams split games one and two like they did in the Sabathia and Carmona match ups during the year (Dice-K beat C.C. 1-0 then Carmona beat Beckett 1-0 the next night) then the starter in game three is going to be critical. Dice-K has shown he has got great stuff but can he come up big on the biggest stage for the Sox? I can’t wait to find out. I know said Schilling might be the most important piece for the Sox but now I think it’s probably Dice-K, especially when Cleveland can start Carmona and Sabathia twice in a seven game series. Here’s to taking a pair of 1-0 wins in games one and two.

In other related news I have a bone to pick with ESPN Page 2. How is the steal not the number one LCS moment? Seriously if Aaron Boone’s home run is number two how the hell is the steal not number one? I mean come on! The Steal sparked the greatest comeback ever and erased the pain from Boone’s home run. I don’t get how a play can be higher on the list than the play that totally one upped it the next year. Long live Dave Roberts.

It’s another big weekend in New England and I’m glad for the rest of the country’s sake that the Yankees got bounced. 90% of the country hates the Red Sox and Patriots and its been wall to wall 5-0 vs. 5-0 on ESPN this week so can you imagine the utter disgust people would feel towards New England fans if the Yankees and Sox were playing. It would have been Sox-Yanks, Pats-Cowboys all week and everyone would hate us that much more. At least now people can root for the Indians, which is nice.

Since I am such a prediction guru…ok I suck at my NFL picks...cut me some slack though I did call the Cavs-Spurs NBA Finals last November…anyway here is how I think it breaks down.
Sox in 6 (so they clinch at home)

What the hell…D-Backs in 7…the Rockies can’t keep this up right? Right?

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to make some pre-game phone calls, find a comfy spot from which I will watch every game and figure out my food choices for the duration…I don’t think I can stomach bacon pizza from dominos every time Schilling pitches I’m not as hummingbird like as I was in 2004...I’m starting to get more Grizzly-Bear-that-got-shot-in-the-ass-with-a-sedative-dartish

Thursday, October 4, 2007


You know a pitcher is having a good night when you can sense his dominance through ESPN’s gamecast. A complete game shutout with just four hit and from the highlights I saw, total dominance of the Angles, not bad Josh not bad at all. I doubt anyone is going to be missing Hanley Ramirez anymore. Oh and David Ortiz said when he was watching the game in the clubhouse batting cage it was like watching a video game...aka Beckett is codes, like I said codes theory.

Yes it’s true I had to watch the game on gamecast but I am feeling pretty confident with the Red Sox right now. A lot of people have been talking about how you can’t just flip a switch and turn it on for the playoffs. I think Josh Beckett might be an exception to that rule. Here are his playoff numbers in four series (including game one of the ’07 ALDS).

3-2 record (team won all three of the previous series), seven games, six starts, a 1.74 ERA, three complete games, 51.2 innings, 25 hits, 10 earned runs, 12 walks and 55 strikeouts.

Beckett had a great regular season in 2007 and he should be the Cy Young winner he was better than Sabathia and Fausto Carmona, I’m sorry but he was. The Red Sox should have the Rookie of the Year (Pedrioa), Gold Glove centerfielder (Coco), Gold Glove first basemen (Yook) and a couple of silver sluggers. After Beckett gave up all those home runs last year people were asking were is the Josh Beckett from 2003? Well he’s here and that is a very, very good sign for the Boston Red Sox playoff hopes in 2007.

After talking with some of my buddies and reading some stuff for the Boston Sports Guy Bill Simmons (He’ll always be digital city BSG for me) I am feeling a lot better about the Sox.
They have nine of the top 42 hitters in pitches per at bat and that ability to work the count and make pitchers throw strikes is going to be huge in the playoffs. I still truly believe that J.D. Drew is going to turn things around in the post-season too. I know that might be a little too optimistic to some but there is no reason why he shouldn’t he’s a good player and he’s got a solid line-up surrounding him.

I think the Sox lineup and pitching will be too much for the Angels. I don’t think they’ll sweep but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, especially if Dice-K has a good outing tomorrow and the Sox bats keep him out in front. Dice-K is the uncertainty.

He could be fantastic or he could implode, from what I have seen so far this year I think needs to throw all his pitches instead of relying on his fastball and he has to avoid those innings were he melts down. That’s were the bats come in, if the Sox can get on the board early and give Dice-K a lead it’s going to be a 2-0 lead heading west for the Sox.

One more note about the Red Sox series – the extra long series could turn out to be huge especially after Beckett’s complete game. That gives the bullpen an extra day of rest and it makes the Angels spend an awful long time sitting on last nights game, that has to linger a little bit.

The Playoffs overall are going to be very exciting this year in my humble opinion. Obviously I’m excited for the Sox and I think the Indians are going to give the Yankees a run for their money but the most exciting series might be any game involving the Colorado Rockies (Oh, so that’s were Kaz Matsui went. I guess ESPN the Magazine missed the mark when they put him on the cover of their NEXT issue a couple years ago). Monday’s game was awesome and now they are up 2-0 on the Phillies.

I feel for Philly fans, I really do but how can you not root for the Rockies right now. Plus the guy from The Starting Line said he was from Philly and was going to break Tom Brady’s legs. Sorry broseph but Brady will win more Super Bowls. Anyway Go Rockies. How cool would a Rockies-Cubs NLCS be, it would definitely be one I’d watch.

The Yankees are so frustrating to watch as a non Yankee fan, they almost never swing and I hate them so it’s clearly completely different than the Red Sox (homer alert). F’n Wade Boggs.
One of the most love/hate things about the playoffs for me is all the promos for the fall shows that networks are trying to push. You know what I’m talking about…”HIS FATHER IS THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY!”…At least Fox has a couple of shows worth watching, namely Prison-break, but TBS, yikes.

Calm down with the Frank TV just keep showing promos for all the syndicated shows you run like old episodes of Family Guy and the Office. It is a nice break from FOX, plus we get an extra week of Don Orsillo, even if he is doing the Rockies games.

One more thing - MLB move the outfield umpires back, every announcer has made a comment about it at least once and it’s an issue that already come up three or four times with questionable home run calls.Enjoy the Playoffs.