Tag:Boston Red Sox
Posted on: May 14, 2009 6:34 pm

Ramirez nails for Red Sox

While an overhwhelming majority of clubs are negotiating unsteady bullpens, the Boston Red Sox remain rock solid in part because of an under-the-radar trade they completed last November.

Right-hander Ramon Ramirez, acquired from the Royals for outfielder Coco Crisp, was not exactly a household name. Few middle relievers are, especially those in Kansas City. But Ramirez has been lights-out for Boston this season, going 4-0 so far with an 0.52 ERA (tied for third among AL relievers). He also ranks tied for third in the AL with five holds.

He's certainly not the only reason Boston's bullpen is fourth in the majors with a 3.20 ERA. There's still this closer named Jonathan Papelbon (a perfect nine-for-nine in save opportunities) and, as manager Terry Francona quickly reminds when you ask about Ramirez, "It's our whole bullpen. Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen. ... some things about our club are going to be later -- David (Ortiz, coming out of his power slump, and John Smoltz, who isn't expected to join the rotation for a few more weeks). But our whole bullpen has been good every night."

It has, and Ramirez has helped make a unit that ranked seventh in the majors last season with a 4.00 ERA even better. He's surrendered just one run over 16 1/3 innings this season, and opponents are hitting only .127 against him (right-handers .118, lefties .143).

"His physical ability, his demeanor and his ability to pitch late in games have really been weapons for us," Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell says. "You look at his track record, his numbers outside of Colorado for his career ... his ERA is below 2.00.

"What he's doing this year is not bursting out (of the norm). He's got quite a bit of sample size."

Ramirez came highly recommended to the Sox by David Howard, a special assistant to general manager Theo Epstein. Howard, a former big leaguer with the Royals and Cardinals, still lives in the Kansas City area and, among other things, thought that Ramirez had a demeanor that would serve him well in a high-pressure market like Boston.

The Sox especially like that he has the stuff to regularly obtain swings-and-misses in the late innings, thus increasing the odds of obtaining outs and limiting the potential for damage.

"You can't say enough about his work ethic and preparation," Farrell says. "He's prepared to pitch every day. He takes care of himself as well as anyone we have."

Boston's biggest issue with Ramirez from here on out is going to be to monitor his workload and not overuse him.

Likes: Boston's Daniel Bard, who impressed legions of scouts this spring, looked really good in his major-league debut Wednesday night in Anaheim. He was sensational against Mike Napoli, the first batter he faced and one of the Angels' hottest hitters. Bard got three swings and missed on fastballs of 94, 95 and 97 miles an hour. Napoli never had a chance. This kid is going to be a key pitcher for Boston, probably sooner rather than later. ... The new Green Day song, Know Your Enemy. Good reviews on the new disc, 21st Century Breakdown, so far. I've still got American Idiot heavy in my iPod gym rotation. Great workout music.

Dislikes: Umpire Paul Schrieber did apologize for placing his hand on Detroit's Magglio Ordonez in Wednesday's Tigers-Twins game in Minnesota. But I don't see how he cannot be suspended. If a manager or player touches an umpire, it's an automatic suspension. Don't ever touch the umpire -- it's one of the game's cardinal rules. Rightfully so. Conversely, an umpire can't touch a player. That could cause holy hell if the situation got heated enough. Gotta be a suspension then, right? ... Fleetwood Mac touring under the name Fleetwood Mac. Christine McVie has retired. I'm sorry, but if she's not around and not singing Don't Stop, Say You Love Me and Over My Head, it's not Fleetwood Mac.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You've been telling everybody
"You're just plain in luck
"My wife cooked me neck bones and beans
"And she cooked you chicken and duck
"That's why I don't want you hanging 'round my wife no more
"That's why I'm telling you somebody sure has gotta go."

-- Big Bill Broonzy, Somebody's Gotta Go

Posted on: May 13, 2009 9:27 pm

Sox sit Pedroia one more night

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It's a no go for Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia for a second consecutive evening here, but that doesn't mean bad news for the American League Most Valuable Player or for the Red Sox.

Recovering from a sore groin, Pedroia was expected to return to the lineup for the middle game of Boston's series with the Los Angeles Angels this evening. But the more Sox manager Terry Francona studied the schedule and looked at Thursday's 12:30 p.m. (local time) first pitch, he didn't want to play Pedroia twice within a 24-hour span. So he decided the smart thing to do was to give Pedroia one more day of rest Wednesday.

"I told him after (Tuesday) night's game," Francona said. "And he called me a name I can't use here."

In other words, the response from Pedroia was, I'm healthy enough to return to the lineup yesterday.

"I called him a lot of things," Pedroia said, grinning.

The second baseman took early batting practice Wednesday afternoon and, according to Francona, "looks really good." But this plan, the manager said, "will buy him one more day."

Pedroia's reaction?

"I don't make out the lineup."

Pedroia left Sunday night's game against Tampa Bay with a strained right groin. Since May 1, he's batting .410 (16-for-29) with two doubles, five RBI, 12 runs scored, seven walks and a steal. His seven games with at least three hits is tied for the major-league lead.

He's also tied for the major-league lead with two four-hit games, and his .448 batting average with runners in scoring position leads the AL.

Likes: Dave Roberts in the broadcast booth for Boston television Wednesday night and on into Seattle later this road trip. Get well soon, Jerry Remy. Your spot is being kept warm by a class guy. ... I know I shouldn't, because I hate it when bozos jump onto the field and interrupt the game, but the streaker during the Mets' game at Citibank Field wearing nothing but a stuffed monkey around his waist? Now that's creative.

Dislikes: Ryan Zimmerman's hit streak ending at 30 consecutive games. Hit streaks are fun. Hit streaks are underrated. I'd love to see someone take a run at Joe DiMaggio's 56-gamer. That would put a jolt into our summer. ... People telling me about American Idol have the same effect as those describing their golf outings to me. Zzzzzzz.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I got some groceries
"Some peanut butter
"To last a couple of days
"But I ain't got no speakers
"Ain't got no headphones
"Ain't got no records to play"

-- Talking Heads, Life During Wartime

Posted on: May 12, 2009 9:18 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2009 10:10 pm

Sox hope Pedroia's back Wednesday, DL Youkilis

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The news is good on ailing second baseman Dustin Pedroia as the Boston Red Sox prepared to open a six-game road trip here on Tuesday night. But the Sox did place first baseman Kevin Youkilis on the 15-day disabled list with a sore left side.

Youklis, who last played May 4 in a game against the New York Yankees, is eligible to return next Tuesday, when Boston opens a six-game homestand against Toronto. The Sox recalled infielder Gil Velazquez from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace him.

As for Pedroia, his sore groin felt well enough that he asked to play when he arrived at Angel Stadium on Tuesday. The Red Sox took that under consideration, smiled, and said no.

"Everything really is good," manager Terry Francona said. "He stretched and he reported in way better than we expected."

Even so, the last thing the Sox want to do is take an unnecessary chance with last summer's American League Most Valuable Player. Especially with first baseman Youkilis missing his seventh consecutive game Tuesday night with a sore left rib cage.

So Nick Green was in the lineup at second base and hitting ninth for the series opener against the Angels, and Jeff Bailey was at first base and batting seventh.

So the Sox were set to go to battle Tuesday night with 23 players, two short of the maximum.

"We're trying to use patience," Francona said. "It's not an exact science. If we ever make a mistake, I guess we want to react on the side of caution."

As for playing short-handed, which the Sox have been doing since Youklis left the Yankees' game, Francona said, "It reminds us of how much we like our guys," Francona said. "Guys are stepping up."

The hope is that Pedroia will be back in action on Wednesday night. Over his past 10 games, the second baseman is hitting .410 (16 for 39) with two doubles, five RBI, 12 runs scored, seven walks and a steal.

Posted on: May 12, 2009 9:06 pm

Ortiz on Manny: "It confuses me"

Leave it to David Ortiz to put things into perspective when asked whether he's "reached out" to Manny Ramirez since Ramirez's 50-game suspension.

"It's hard, man," Ortiz said. "You can't even reach out to Manny when Manny was here. Manny changed his (phone) number. Who knows? Manny's on his own, always.

"There were times when we were playing together and said 'Let's meet at noon ... and have lunch and go to the field' and he'd say, 'Oh, OK.' Next thing you know, you can't reach him. And you just talked to him an hour ago."

It might be awhile before Ortiz even has a chance to speak with his old Boston slugging buddy. For one thing, Ramirez hasn't surfaced publicly since last Thursday, when his suspension was announced. For another, not only does he have a different number (again), according to Ortiz, but Ortiz says, he hasn't even spoken with Ramirez since late last season.

"I don't know what I would tell him," Ortiz said. "I haven't talked to (the media) about that and I won't. I don't know what to tell you.

"That's not the guy I know. That guy worked hard every day. It's going to be something crazy and hard to deal with."

Ortiz says that his memory of Ramirez in Boston is that of a guy who declined even pain medication from the trainer.

"The trainer would give him Tylenol, and he'd throw it in the trash can," Ortiz said.

Asked if he is upset with Ramirez, Ortiz thought for several seconds.

"It confuses me," he said. "But that's something I don't really want to talk about now."


Posted on: May 1, 2009 6:44 pm

Dodgers-Giants best rivalry? E-Forbes

I about choked on my Quaker Oatmeal Squares this morning when I saw that Forbes magazine picked the Los Angeles Dodgers-San Francisco Giants as baseball's best rivalry.

What are those guys, high on Red Bull? Stricken with the swine flu? No wonder the economy is tanking if this is the way they go about their coverage.

There is no way the Dodgers and Giants are anywhere close to the game's best rivalry. Not anymore. Trust me, I thought about it often this winter as Manny Ramirez sat on the free agent market like dinner  equidistant between two sloths.

If Giants ownership was intent on winning, they would have zeroed in on Manny for two reasons.

One, because they ranked last in the majors in homers last year and power is a clear need.

Two, because not only would Ramirez have strengthened their own lineup, it would have seriously wounded the Dodgers'.

Meantime, if Dodgers ownership was hell-bent on winning, they wouldn't have risked Ramirez landing with the Giants.

As things turned out, the Dodgers played it perfectly. They not only landed Manny, but they did so with a deal (one year, $25 million) that won't hurt them in the future. (Had the Giants at least made more than a few inquiries, by the way, they also could have drawn Dodgers' blood by driving Ramirez's price up).

So hurray for the Dodgers, and because of it, the only way they're going to miss the playoffs is if vice-president Joe Biden causes such a swine flu panic that Bud Selig cancels another postseason.

Yes, the Giants' $83 million payroll is very respectable, ranking 13th in the game in 2009. And yes, they've got a bunch of debt to pay down on AT&T Park, and they've done a very admirable job of being responsible with their finances (the Barry Zito contract notwithstanding).

But when you're talking baseball's best rivalry, you have got to go with two clubs that keep the pedal to the metal all the time. Two clubs that will do anything to win -- in the summer and in the winter.

And right now, that's still Yankees-Red Sox. They go at it for a ludicrous number of hours each time they play, they've met in October three times since 1999 and they spent each winter thumping each other over the head with their wallets.

I'm tired of the excessive hype. And unless you live and die with the Yankees or Red Sox, I bet you are, too. But that's a rivalry. Comparatively speaking, the Giants-Dodgers is recess at the local elementary school.

I know Forbes compiled its list by crunching some numbers ("we looked at every season since 1950 and tabulated how many times the two clubs had finished first and second in their division and how often they'd finished the season within five games of one another. Weighted equally with those two stats in our methodology is how much the meetings matter to fans -- in other words, how much extra money people are willing to pay for a ticket").

What I also know is, if Giants-Dodgers is what their numbers spit out, then it's a bunch of hooey. Because these aren't the days of Giants pitcher Juan Marichal clubbing Dodgers catcher John Roseboro with a bat.

The top current modern rivalries (not counting Interleague play)?

Here you go. And I guarantee this is more accurate than the folks who obviously have been drinking buttermilk long after its expiration date at Forbes:

1. Yankees-Red Sox. In a league of their own -- and yes, it's run by U.S. Mint, not Tom Hanks.

2. Cubs-Cardinals. The fact that the Cubs can't get to the World Series only enhances it. Besides, these are two of the top four or five baseball towns in the land.

3. Mets-Phillies. They hate each other.

4. Dodgers-Giants. Their fans don't like each other, but it's not hate. It's more in the way they prefer to not eat moldy sourdough.

5. Red Sox-Angels. Both stadiums are full when they play, no doubt because they've met in three of the past five Octobers.

6. White Sox-Twins. The proximity of the two teams, the fact that they both regularly contend in the AL Central, Ozzie Guillen's mouth, A.J. Pierzynski's act, the mutual admiration between Guillen and Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire, the fact that the Twins channel Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and refuse to go away. ...

Likes: Joe Mauer back on the field in Minnesota. ... Mark Buehrle of the White Sox on the mound. ... They're doing a very, very nice job over at the MLB Network. If you haven't watched yet, you should. And if you can't find it among your 200 channels, if you've got cable -- no matter the provider -- you have the MLB Network. You just need to find it. ... Ghosts of Girlfriends Past looks like a swell idea for a film.

Dislikes: Had to hit the television mute button watching actress Denise Richards sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh-inning stretch of Friday's Cubs-Florida game. Wow, was that bad (and I speak as someone who can't carry a tune in a bucket, to I can both identify and sympathize). But in the booth with Len Kasper and Bob Brenly, she seemed like a very pleasant and intelligent gal.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Young girls
"They've taken husbands, every one
"Young men
"They're all in uniform
"They've gone to graveyards, every one
"They're covered with flowers, every one
"Young girls have picked them, every one"

-- Pete Seeger, Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Posted on: April 26, 2009 8:46 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2009 1:48 pm

Short Hops: Hot Pirates, returning Lugo, etc.

A baseball season is a series of tests, and even with its pitching going gangbusters, Pittsburgh is being tested right now. The Pirates lost catcher and cleanup hitter Ryan Doumit to a broken wrist last week and then disabled shortstop Jack Wilson on Sunday with a sprained left middle finger.

Meantime, outfielder Nate McLouth missed the weekend series in San Diego after suffering a strained right oblique during batting practice Friday.

"We're going to have to really pull it together," manager John Russell says.

The Pirates did so in Sunday's 8-3 win over San Diego. Shortstop Brian Bixler, recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis, punched a two-run double and catcher Robinson Diaz singled home two more runs.

The Pirates can't necessarily plan on that sort of success every day from their role players, and losing Doumit, especially, for what is expected to be eight-to-10 weeks will hurt. But the Pirates do appear built better this year to withstand such injuries with veterans such as Eric Hinske, Craig Monroe and Ramon Vazquez and rookie catcher Jason Jaramillo.

"Neal (Huntington, Pittsburgh general manager) has done a great job," Russell says. "Depth is one thing as an organization we've focused on. Acquiring talent, developing our talent and having good drafts. It was tough to trade Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady last year. But coming out of spring training, there's a lot more depth than last year."

The Pirates especially will lean on Jaramillo, acquired last December for Ronny Paulino, with Doumit out for an extended period.

"It's tough," Pirates pitcher Zach Duke says. "He's our guy. He's our leader. We want him back there. J.J. is a capable catcher. He works his butt off and we're comfortable with him behind the plate. He's stepped in nicely.

"You can ask anybody in here, if he hits .250 and calls a good game and blocks everything, we'll be more than happy."

-- After taking the first two games of their series with the Yankees before heading into battle one more time Sunday night, more good news is on deck for the Red Sox: Shortstop Julio Lugo is through his rehabilitation period and is expected to be in the lineup Monday night in Cleveland. And while Lugo hasn't exactly come close to living up to expectations since he signing with Boston, there is this: Among the 11 American League shortstops with at least 300 plate appearances in 2008, Lugo's .356 on-base percentage was second only to Derek Jeter's .360.

-- We'll never know if there would have been the usual scouts or SAT administrators behind the plate, but we just missed a matchup of Princeton University products over the weekend when Russ Ohlendorf started for Pittsburgh on Sunday while San Diego's Chris Young will go Monday in Colorado. When Pittsburgh played San Diego last September, Young and Ohlendorf missed each other by just a day as well. They are two of only three pitchers in Princeton baseball history to be named Ivy League rookie of the year (Young won in 1999 and Ohlendorf in 2002).

-- Maybe a day off last Wednesday against Detroit helped Los Angeles Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who homered and had a career-high four RBI in Sunday's 8-0 win over Seattle. Kendrick has been having a miserable time this season and is still hitting just .258 after his 4-for-5 day Sunday. Most noticeable has been  his strikeout total -- 14 in just 66, a rate of one per 4.7 at-bats as opposed to the one per 5.9 at-bats last year. Manager Mike Scioscia said it was a combination of mechanical flaws and Kendrick pressing. And what bothered the manager as much as the whiffs were the weak, rollover ground balls Kendrick was sending to the left side of the infield.

-- Update on two disabled Angels starters: John Lackey worked two innings' worth of an extended spring training game in Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday, same as Ervin Santana a day earlier. The duo each will have another extended spring training outing this week, Santana on Wednesday and Lackey on Thursday, and if it's still all systems go, they'll each likely report for rehabilitation assignments at Class A Rancho Cucamonga. The program would put Lackey and Santana back in the Angels' rotatoin sometime around mid-May.

Likes: Glad to see Pittsburgh pitching coach Joe Kerrigan back in the game. ... Watched San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the probably No. 1 pick in this June's draft, on Friday night and the kid is the real deal. Very, very impressive. Column coming on him later this week. ... Somehow managed to miss the entire NFL draft. Aw, shucks ... not. ... Closer Trevor Hoffman activated in Milwaukee. ...

Dislikes: Detroit catcher Matt Treanor about to undergo hip surgery? Say it ain't so! Now he and wife Misti May-Treanor, the Olympic gold medalist, can rehab together. She's still recovering from a ruptured Achilles heel suffered on Dancing with the Stars. Another reason why I don't dance.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Our house is a very, very fine house
"With two cats in the yard
"Life used to be so hard"

-- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Our House

Posted on: March 1, 2009 9:18 am

Boston's Beckett strong early

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- This time of the spring always comes with a qualifier: It's early. Looks and impressions can be deceiving.

But lots of what you see and observe at this time of year can be telling, too. And what Boston pitching coach John Farrell is seeing from ace Josh Beckett could present big trouble for the American League East and other Red Sox opponents this summer.

After battling back and oblique problems for much of 2008, Farrell's gauge so far this spring has Beckett looking more like he did in two seasons ago, when he dominated at 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA, than last summer, when he was 12-10 with a 4.03 ERA.

"He's throwing the baseball more like he did in '07 than '08," Farrell says. "The ailments he had to contend with, his back, his oblique ... that's all cleaned up."

Not only is Beckett far better physically than he was for most of '08, the fiery look in his eyes that meant trouble for others as he was leading the Red Sox to the '07 World Series title is back, too.

"There's an apparent demeanor about him right now," Farrell says. "Every time he's stepped on the mound in the bullpen, this is what it was like in '07."

Beckett, who is slated to pitch Sunday afternoon's Grapefruit League game against Minnesota, tried to pitch last October with a torn or pulled oblique -- depending on whom you believe -- and it did not go well.

In one start against the Los Angeles Angels in the AL Divisional Series, Beckett was hammered for four earned runs and nine hits in only five innings.

In two starts against Tampa Bay in the AL Championship Series, the Rays torched him for 10 earned runs and 13 hits in just 9 1/3 innings.

"The standard he sets for himself ... walking away last year, I know he wasn't pleased. We have a lot of quality pitchers here, and this is not to degrade them in any way. But Josh is our leader. He sets the tone.

"Granted, it's only February, but the tone he's set in this camp is important."

Likes: Hate to see John Smoltz in a uniform other than Atlanta's, but love to see him still pitching. He says he's ahead of schedule following his shoulder surgery, though he's still not expected to pitch before June. But if he and Brad Penny (shoulder issues last year) return to form and join Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester and even Clay Buchholz, one Red Sox strength by mid- and late-summer should be the depth of their pitching. "This group has a chance to be exceptional," pitching coach John Farrell says. ... Sign in the Red Sox clubhouse: "Work hard, play hard, listen hard." I may hang that one in my daughter's room. ... You can tell it's fund-raising time at PBS when they run Roy Orbison and Friends: Black and White Night. Have to say, though, that never gets old. It's an exceptional concert, with guests Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello and others.

Dislikes: No concerts are lining up with my spring travels so far. There isn't a lot of down time at this time of year, anyway. As a writer, you're usually in a team's camp by 8 or so in the morning, and it's often dinnertime or later until you're finished interviewing and writing (and, this year, shooting videos). Still, it's fun when you happen to be somewhere where there's a show -- in the past in Florida I've seen Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett and Bonnie Raitt, among others. So far, though, no go this spring.

Sunblock day? Yessir. On a roll here with a bright sun and temperatures near 80. But alas, on the eastern side of the state, at least, it is supposed to rain Sunday and cool down into the 60s through midweek.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day

"Don’t gimme that look, that’s right, let’s get sweaty
"Let’s get real sweaty
"I’m talkin’ rainforest sweaty
"I’m talkin’ swamp sweaty
"Let’s fill the bathtub full of sweat"

-- Jackie Moon, Love Me Sexy
(Or, as you better know him, Will Ferrell, in Semi Pro).


Posted on: December 10, 2008 8:59 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2008 5:11 am

Teixeira talks heating up

LAS VEGAS -- The market for Mark Teixeira is taking shape, according to agent Scott Boras, and while still fluid, it is described as having reached the stage where the slugger could make a decision "in a short period of time."

"He's received offers from numerous clubs," Boras said Wednesday at the winter meetings. "We've been on the phone all day. Now we'll have meetings to go through the economic process."

At least five clubs are seriously in on Teixeira, and sources familiar with the talks say at least four of those five have offers of at least eight years in to him: Boston, the Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. The New York Yankees have been involved in the discussions but have not made an offer.

The Red Sox, who were in meetings late into the night Wednesday, is widely thought in the industry to be the leader of the Teixeira sweepstakes.

It is believed that at least one of the offers ranges up to $176 million, or an average annual value of $22 million per season. However it plays out, one person with knowledge of the talks said he expects Teixeira to command a larger deal that the seven-year, $161 million package pitcher CC Sabathia has agreed to with the New York Yankees.

Boras declined to discuss specific teams or contract terms -- he wouldn't even confirm the number of clubs seriously speaking with the free agent -- but said Teixeira is weighing several factors, including family and economic considerations, team strength, ownership and commitment to winning.

"It's not something that is imminent," Boras said. "We're going back and forth with the teams. It's moving in the right direction. I can't tell you a time frame."

The five teams involved in the talks fit various parameters of Teixeira's expectations. It is believed by some that Teixeira, who is a Maryland native, prefers to play in the east. However, Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who has spoken with Teixeira, said this week that he thinks Teixeiria's experience in Anaheim last season would make him amenable to returning.

Boras said Teixeira has met with all of the teams with whom he's currently speaking, and they've addressed his desires.

As for the winning part of the equation -- in a comment that seemed to describe the travails of the Nationals and Orioles -- Boras said, "If a team's building and can't immediately win, then they have a lot of answers as to why that will be a short (window) until they do."

Boras has evidence of that in his fleet of clients with Ivan Rodriguez, the catcher who signed with Detroit before the 2004 season. The Tigers were wretched, and three years later they were playing in the World Series.

Among the things Teixeira is asking for is a no-trade clause. After bouncing from Texas to Atlanta to the Angels over the past two seasons, and now empowered to protect himself via his first trip to free agency, Teixeira is said to be insistent on that.

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