Tag:John Lackey
Posted on: October 13, 2011 12:03 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Boston Red Sox

BostonBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Boston Red Sox
Record: 90-72, 3rd place in AL East, 7 games back
Manager: Terry Francona
Best hitter: Jacoby Ellsbury -- .321/.376/.552, 46 2B, 32 HR, 39 SB
Best pitcher: Josh Beckett -- 13-7, 2.89 ERA, 193 IP, 52 BB, 175 K

2011 SEASON RECAP

Here's guessing you've heard plenty about the Red Sox's 2011 season, so let's be brief. After stumbling to a 2-10 start, the Sox rebounded to go 81-44 over a 122-game stretch, then things completely imploded in September as Boston fell out of the postseason entirely, losing the wild card on the final day of the regular season.

While clubhouse dysfunction has ruled the news lately, the Red Sox's problems went deeper than that, as lack of pitching was a major problem that completely fell apart in September. Daisuke Matsuzaka fell to Tommy John surgery early on, pressing Tim Wakefield into year-long duty. Injuries were also sustained by Josh Beckett and trade-deadline acquisition Erik Bedard. Kevin Youkilis played in just 10 games after August 17, and J.D. Drew was a vanishing act from July 20-Sept. 24.

2012 AUDIT

The Red Sox are a good team, chemistry issues aside. There isn't much wholesale changes to be done, although there are several items of importance the Red Sox will have to address. The club could be looking at vacancies in right field, shortstop, DH and closer, so Boston has its hands full. It will also have to address the back of the rotation. A busy offseason awaits, but the core of the team is intact.

FREE AGENTS

Erik Bedard, SP
J.D. Drew, RF
Conor Jackson, OF
Hideki Okajima, RP
David Ortiz, DH
Jonathan Papelbon
Trever Miller, RP
Marco Scutaro, SS ($5 million team option, $3 million player option)
Jason Varitek, C
Tim Wakefield, SP
Dan Wheeler, RP ($3 million team option).

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • There's a ton of different directions the Red Sox could go, especially with a new GM and manager on the way, but one thing's for sure -- the Red Sox need to bring in a strong presence somewhere next year. Whether that's a new closer, a starting picher or right fielder, Boston can't afford to stay pat after the horrendous collapse it experienced in September. Some options include not signing Jonathan Papelbon and investing that money elsewhere, whether that be in C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish for the rotation, or signing Jose Reyes to play shortstop, although that's an avenue fraught with risk.
  • While Papelbon hasn't seemed terribly interested in staying with Boston in the past, the team needs to bring him back if they can. Papelbon has proven he can handle the ninth inning in Boston and is the type of ferocious competitor the team needs to emphasize in the wake of a dysfunctional clubhouse. A fallback would be Ryan Madson. Boston could also save money and promote Daniel Bard to closer, but then it needs to invest in a setup man, and it will be much easier to find a closer than it will be a setup man.
  • It will be difficult for Boston to play on the trade market because of a lack of upper-minors depth, but the club should be discussing John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Carlos Quentin with the White Sox and try to find a fit for at least one of these players. In a perfect world, Danks would be a great fit for Boston and the White Sox may be more motivated to move him than Floyd given Danks is nearing free agency while Floyd has signed an extension.
  • If Quentin is a no-go, there aren't many right-field candidates on the free-agent market Boston might be interested in, but a flier on David DeJesus makes sense, thanks to having Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick as insurance. Kalish or Reddick should win the backup outfield job. If the Sox could pull it off, a trade of Andre Ethier would be a nice get, but that addresses Boston's strengths, not weaknesses. Shouldn't the team be worrying the most about its pitching? The Red Sox need to come away this winter with a starter capable of being called a No. 3, whether via free agency or the trade market.
  • Speaking of Ortiz, bring him back. Look, Kevin Youkilis probably best belongs as a first baseman or DH, no doubt. But a pairing of Ortiz at DH and Youk at 3B is way better than anything the team could get by moving Youk to DH and looking for a third baseman, of which there wouldn't be much available. The team simply has to gameplan for Youk to miss 25-40 starts and deal with it. The only way this would work is if Youkilis was sent out for that coveted starting pitcher. The Marlins are on the hunt for one -- perhaps Youk for ex-Sox farmhand Anibal Sanchez?
  • Pick up Marco Scutaro's option. Scoot was on fire down the stretch and easily earned his $5 million club option. He can return as a shortstop, allowing the team to use Jed Lowrie as trade bait or insurance for Youk. Mike Aviles is also hanging around.
  • Trade John Lackey. It almost doesn't matter where. He's been a massive disappointment in Boston and is not the same pitcher he once was. His constant bad attitude isn't helping the club and he needs to be considered a sunk cost. A popular trade is moving him to the Giants for Barry Zito, and while that would be a better alternative to keeping Lackey, there has to be another option for the Red Sox than having to take Zito, right? OK, maybe not.
  • Allow Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek to part. It will be tough for Wake and Sox fans alike not to have Wakefield around to try to get the all-time Red Sox record in wins, but Wakefield hasn't been a strong pitcher for sometime now and over the last few seasons has changed from a consummate team player to one who has increasingly gotten more selfish as retirement nears. Likewise, Varitek's impact on the team has dipped sharply. The two players departing would send a signal to the clubhouse that no one is safe and get more capable players in the fold. Wakefield's departure would also free up Alfredo Aceves to be the top option out of the bullpen to spot start.
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Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 5:38 pm
 

Report: Red Sox pitchers drank beer during games

By Matt Snyder

The collapse of the 2011 Boston Red Sox has had significant fallout already, as manager Terry Francona is gone and general manager Theo Epstein appears to be on his way out as well.

And, since it's Boston -- just as would be the case in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. -- the local crowd is ready to place blame. Things unraveled on a team that was expected by many to win the World Series, so it's someone's fault. Well, you have Francona and Epstein. Carl Crawford was awful after signing a huge contract. John Lackey was terrible again. But there's more ...

The Boston Globe has given us several scapegoats. Let's try to sum it up -- again, this is all via Boston.com:

• Francona reportedly lost control of the team amidst problems with his health and marriage, though he took exception to the claims.

Red Sox dysfunction
“It makes me angry that people say these things because I’ve busted my [butt] to be the best manager I can be,’’ Francona said (Boston.com). “I wasn’t terribly successful this year, but I worked harder and spent more time at the ballpark this year than I ever did.’’

On the "health" front, the report painted a picture of Francona's reliance on pain-killers.

• Reportedly the Red Sox players were angry that, in late August, they were forced to play a day-night doubleheader due to Hurricane Irene and complained to management that it cared more about money than winning. After that doubleheader, the Red Sox would not win two straight games again all season.

Tim Wakefield reportedly cared more about getting his 200th win than the team overall doing well. “I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record,’’ Wakefield told Fox Sports.

• Team captain Jason Varitek reportedly stopped exerting leadership in the clubhouse, while only Dustin Pedroia "and a few other players" remained fully committed to winning.

• And now the big one. The starting rotation, specifically Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and occasionally Clay Buchholz have been accused of regularly drinking beer and eating fast-food fried chicken while playing video games in the clubhouse during games. From the Boston.comarticle:
Drinking beer in the Sox clubhouse is permissible. So is ordering take-out chicken and biscuits. Playing video games on one of the clubhouse’s flat-screen televisions is OK, too. But for the Sox pitching trio to do all three during games, rather than show solidarity with their teammates in the dugout, violated an unwritten rule that players support each other, especially in times of crisis.

Sources said Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, who were joined at times by Buchholz, began the practice late in 2010. The pitchers not only continued the routine this year, sources said, but they joined a number of teammates in cutting back on their exercise regimens despite appeals from the team’s strength and conditioning coach Dave Page.

“It’ s hard for a guy making $80,000 to tell a $15 million pitcher he needs to get off his butt and do some work,’’ one source said.

For Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, the consequences were apparent as their body fat appeared to increase and pitching skills eroded. When the team needed them in September, they posted a combined 2-7 record with a 6.45 earned run average, the Sox losing 11 of their 15 starts.
Needless to say, this isn't going to sit well with Red Sox Nation.

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Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:10 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Playoff race: Rays could catch Boston on Sunday

Carl Crawford

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rays could catch the Red Sox as soon as Sunday following Saturday's 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays and the Red Sox's 9-1 loss to the Yankees. Tampa Bay trails Boston by just 1.5 games after Saturday's games.

Wade Davis takes the hill for Tampa Bay against Brett Cecil, while the Red Sox send Tim Wakefield and John Lackey to the mound for their doubleheader in New York against A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova. A Rays win and a Yankees sweep would tie the teams in the wild card standings with just three games remaining.

If you're a Red Sox fan, it looks like now's the time to get nervous (if you weren't already).

Here's what's left for both teams:

Boston Red Sox
88-69
Remaining schedule: 2 @ NYY, 3 @BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 88.4 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
87-71, 1.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 1 v. TOR, 3 v. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 10 percent

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:39 pm
 

Playoff race: Red Sox split, keep 2-game lead

Connor Jackson

By C. Trent Rosecrans


I have a saying at the blackjack table -- pushing ain't losing. And that's about how the Red Sox feel after splitting a doubleheader with the Orioles while the Rays were idle. It wasn't pretty, that's for sure, but Boston entered Monday with a two-game lead in the American League wild-card standings and finished the day with a two game lead in the wild-card race.

Boston dropped its first game of the day, 6-5 to the Orioles, before rebounding to beat Baltimore 18-9 in the nightcap. Boston starter John Lackey was awful again, allowing eight runs on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings, but he was better than Baltimore's Brian Matusz, who didn't get out of the second inning, allowing six runs on six hits.

Boston trailed 3-0 after the top of the first, but came back with four in their half of the inning and had an 11-2 lead after three innings. Baltimore got as close as 11-0 before the Red Sox pounded out seven runs in the seventh.

Boston plays Baltimore five more times to try to hold on to their lead.

Here's the rest of the particulars: 

Boston Red Sox
88-65
Remaining schedule: 2 vs. BAL, 3 @ NYY, 3 @ BAL
Coolstandings.com chances of winning Wild Card: 86.1 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
85-67, 2 GB
Remaining schedule: 4 @ NYY, 3 vs. TOR, 3 vs. NYY
Coolstandings.com chances of winning Wild Card: 8.5 percent

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
83-70, 4.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ TOR, 3 vs. OAK, 3 vs. TEX
Coolstandings.com chances of winning Wild Card: 0.6 percent

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 3:57 pm
 

On Deck: Kennedy's bid for 20

OD

By Matt Snyder

As always, follow all the game action live on CBSSports.com's scoreboard. Also, the Playoff Race standings page will be updating at the conclusion of every game.

Snakes' ace: Along with his team as a whole, Diamondbacks' starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (19-4, 2.99) is one of the better stories in baseball this season. He's setting out to make it even better Monday, as he takes the hill against the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates. A win would make him the first Arizona pitcher since Brandon Webb (2008) to win 20 games. It would also shrink the D-Backs' magic number to four in the NL West, as the Giants are idle Monday. Jeff Karstens (9-8, 3.45) gets the ball for the Pirates, who were battered Sunday 15-1 by the Dodgers. Karstens has a 6.20 ERA in his past four starts. Pirates at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET.

Home Sweet Road: The Braves are reeling in September, to the point that a once-huge lead in the NL wild card has shrunk and two teams are within striking distance. So maybe a trip down to Sun Life Stadium will help solve the issue? After all, the Braves have beaten the Marlins six straight times in Florida. Another good sign for the Braves is Mike Minor (5-2, 4.11) is the starting pitcher. The 23-year-old lefty has thrown pretty well since a few rough starts in the first half. He has a 3.33 ERA in his last eight starts and the Braves have won nine of his last 10 starts. Ricky Nolasco (10-11, 4.42) is the starter for the Marlins. Braves at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET.

Big effort needed from Big John: It's time for John Lackey (12-12, 6.19) to earn his hefty eight-figure salary. The Red Sox lost 6-5 Monday afternoon, meaning they only have a 1 1/2 game lead over the Rays in the AL wild-card race and only a one-game advantage in the loss column. Lackey comes in as a major disappointment for the Red Sox this season, but a win here could go a long way in making amends with the fan base. If the Red Sox do lose, that means they'd have the same amount of losses this season as the Rays. What started off a few weeks ago as a remote possibility would then become awfully real. Fortunately for the Red Sox, the struggling Brian Matusz (1-7, 9.84) takes the hill for Baltimore. Orioles at Red Sox, about 7:10 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: September 12, 2011 1:27 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Red Sox GM says bring on the Rays

Theo EpsteinBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Boston's David Ortiz says it's time to panic, but general manager Theo Epstein said he welcomes playing the Rays four more times over the season's last two weeks.

Appearing on Boston's WEEI, Epstein said the team is struggling, but it's an opportunity to turn it around. But if they don't do it, they don't deserve to be in the playoffs.

From WEEI.com:

"I'm glad we play the Rays four times coming up. If we can't right the ship against these guys, if we can't do what we need to do, we probably don't deserve to get into the postseason," Epstein said. "As much as this looks like a crisis from the outside and obviously has not been fun on the inside, this is an opportunity. If we are what we think we are, to quote somebody else, then this is a great opportunity for us to go play well for 2½ weeks, ride some momentum into the postseason and be the team that we were for four months, the best team in baseball over four months. We have to go do that."

Epstein also touches on John Lackey (it's "frustrating"), Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew (he has a broken finger), Clay Buchholz's rehab (he may pitch out of the bullpen in the playoffs) and any possible moves the team can make in the last couple of weeks of the season, but the Cubs are not brought up.

In the excitement that notes the Rays have four more games against the Red Sox, it should be noted they have seven more games against the Yankees, as well -- and despite some delusional daydreams by fanboys, the Yankees aren't going to just lay down to screw over the Red Sox. 

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Posted on: September 6, 2011 7:08 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Beckett to miss next start

Josh BeckettBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Red Sox starter Josh Beckett will miss his next scheduled start, Sunday at Tampa Bay because of his sprained right ankle, manager Terry Francona told reporters before Tuesday's game in Toronto.

Beckett injured his ankle in Monday's game against the Blue Jays and he flew back to Boston on Tuesday morning to be examined. Francona said Beckett was feeling better.

"I think he was actually doing OK, good enough to complain about going [for the exam]," Francona said (WEEI.com).

A report by CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam cited two sources "with knowledge of the situation" that said Beckett's injury is a "short-term ailment" and he will likely be fine for the postseason.

The Red Sox released a statement by team medical director Tom Gill, that said nothing much new:

"Josh was evaluated today at the Massachusetts General Hospital by the Red Sox medical staff, including team foot and ankle specialist, Dr. George Theodore," the release said. "Josh experienced pain in his ankle while pitching last night. His examination was consistent with an ankle sprain. An MRI was performed that confirmed no other injury to his ankle tendons, or his Achilles tendon. We will re-evaluate his symptoms and availability later this week."

Beckett's absence coupled with Erik Bedard being skipped on Friday due to a sore left knee means the Red Sox will have John Lackey start Friday and rookie Kyle Weiland start on Saturday against the Rays. Jon Lester will pitch on Sunday in Beckett's spot in the rotation.

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Posted on: September 5, 2011 12:17 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Bloomquist kills Giants' hopes

Willie Bloomquist

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Willie Bloomquist, Diamondbacks: Bloomquist's two-run triple in the eighth inning may have been the final nail in the defending champions' 2011 coffin. Ryan Vogelsong held the Diamondbacks scoreless into the eighth inning before Ryan Roberts homered and then after Gerardo Parra singled and Geoff Blum walked, Bloomquist fired Ramon Ramirez's first pitch into the corner in right, scoring the eventual winning runs. With the 4-1 victory, Arizona leaves San Francisco up seven games in the division with 22 games remaining for each team.

Shaun Marcum, Brewers: Marcum again showed why the Brewers could be a team to be reckoned with in the postseason. Although Zack Greinke was the team's most high-profile pickup in the offseason, Marcum's been just as good, if not better. Marcum, acquired in a trade with the Blue Jays, improved to 12-5 with a 3.11 ERA after allowing just one hit and a walk in seven innings in a 4-0 victory over the Astros. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning when Jordan Schafer singled up the middle with one out. No Astro made it to second base until the eighth when Francisco Rodriguez walked J.B. Shuck and then a single to Jason Bourgeois. However, Rodriguez recovered to retire the next two batters he faced to quell the scare. With the win and the Cardinals' loss to the Reds, Milwaukee now leads the NL Central by 9 1/2 games.

Derek Jeter, Yankees: Many of us said Jeter was too old and should just be sent out back and shot (or, you know, out to stud or whatever Derek Jeter will do after he's done with baseball), but those of us who said that (with me raising my hand right here) were wrong. The Captain didn't just go 2 for 5, tying a career-high five RBI in Sunday's 9-3 rout of Toronto, but since the All-Star break he's hitting .343/.397/.448. The one thing he hasn't done much of in that span is hit homers, but he had his second of the second half on Sunday and first since July 25. However, on a team with Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, the Yankees don't need Jeter to hit homers, just be on base when the others do.


John Lackey, Red Sox: A favorite whipping boy of Red Sox fans, Lackey looked as if he were getting it together -- going five straight starts without giving up more than four earned runs (baby steps, people, baby steps). That streak ended on Sunday. Lackey allowed six runs on eight hits in five-plus innings of work. He didn't retire a batter in the Rangers' seven-run sixth inning, leaving after allowing three straight singles, threw a wild pitch and then walked a batter before being lifted. Lefty Felix Doubront gave up Lackey's final three runs and then three of his own in a 11-4 Rangers victory.

Mark Reynolds, Orioles: The Orioles third baseman committed two errors in the Orioles' 8-1 loss to the Rays, taking over the lead in the majors for errors, leapfrogging shortstops Elvis Andrus of the Rangers and Starlin Castro of the Cubs, who both have 25 errors. Reynolds hadn't started a game at third base since Aug. 14, but was moved back to third on Sunday to give Robert Andino a day off. Reynolds booted a two-out grounder with bases loaded in the third inning and led to four unearned runs in the inning. Reynolds' fielding percentage is down to .897 at third base. He's dead last in pretty much any fielding stat you want to name, UZR, UZR/150 and fielding percentage among them -- and it's not really close. Among qualified third basemen, none have a fielding percentage less than .940.

David Herndon, Phillies: His 2-1 pitch to Mike Cameron with bases loaded in the bottom of the 14th was close -- but his 3-1 pitch wasn't, as Herndon walked in Emilio Bonifacio to give Florida a 5-4 victory. Herndon loaded the bases in the 13th inning, but got out of it. He couldn't repeat the feat in the 14th, despite not allowing a ball out of the infield. In 3 2/3 innings, he walked seven batters -- so really blaming one call on one pitch doesn't carry much weight.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com