Tag:Boston Red Sox
Posted on: July 2, 2010 9:11 pm
 

Jimenez, Price aligned for All-Star Game

If American League manager Joe Girardi chooses to start Tampa Bay's David Price in the July 13 All-Star Game -- a very real possibility given that Price led the AL in ERA (2.44) and wins (11) on Friday -- the coast is clear.

And if National League manager Charlie Manuel gives the nod to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez -- which seems a slam dunk -- that should work, too.

In the first season in which baseball will deem ineligible any starting pitcher working on the Sunday before the All-Star break, the view from several days out looks pretty good.

Of the top AL starters, only the Angels' Jered Weaver (who leads the majors with 124 strikeouts), Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann and the Yankees' CC Sabathia currently are projected to start for their clubs on that Sunday.

Among the NL's top starters, only the Mets' Mike Pelfrey is slated to start on Sunday, July 11. But depending on what manager Jerry Manuel does with his pitching on the club's off-day on Thursday, July 8, that could change.

Price, a serious candidate to start for the AL, is scheduled to make his final pre-All Star start for Tampa Bay on Wednesday, which would leave him plenty rested for the Anaheim game. And if Girardi looks in a different direction, Seattle's Cliff Lee (last first-half start next Friday), Boston's Jon Lester (Friday) and Clay Buchholz (Tuesday), the Yankees' own Phil Hughes (Friday) and Texas' Colby Lewis (Wednesday) all should be eligible.

Jimenez makes his final pre-All Star start on Thursday and, assuming good health, should be a foregone conclusion to start for the NL in Anaheim.

As for the rest of the NL's top starters, things are setting up very nicely for Manuel: Florida's Josh Johnson (final first-half start slotted for Wednesday), St. Louis' Chris Carpenter (Friday), Adam Wainwright (Saturday) and Jaime Garcia (Thursday), Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (Saturday), Atlanta's Tim Hudson (Friday or Saturday), Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo (Friday), the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday), San Diego's Mat Latos (Wednesday) and San Francisco's Tim Lincecum (Wednesday) and Barry Zito (Thursday)  all should be fresh for the game.

Likes: Great move by Texas acquiring catcher Bengie Molina. Look out, this is the strongest team the Rangers have had in several years. ... The wheels came off the wagon horribly in Arizona, but make no mistake: Fired general manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch are good people. ... New Arizona manager Kirk Gibson's first game in the dugout, of course, is against the Dodgers. Who else? ... The All-Star break just around the corner and Texas, Atlanta, Cincinnati and San Diego in first place. ... The new concert DVD from Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band, Live in Hyde Park. Very, very good. Great song selections, tremendous playing and some breathtaking camera work of both the band's work and the crowd in Hyde Park. ... Quaker Oatmeal Squares for breakfast. ... Ben & Jerry's Milk and Cookies ice cream.

Dislikes: It's July, so here comes the July 31 trade deadline, a time that you would think would get a baseball writer's juices flowing. And it does mine, too -- it's fun to see the moves as they're made -- but it's also become one of my least favorite times of the year because there is so, so much wrong information that will be produced this month. And ferreting out the truth from the fiction is next to impossible. The sad, simple fact is the journalism bar at times is lowered today, and this is one of them.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Summer
"It turns me upside down"

-- The Cars, Magic

Posted on: April 22, 2010 12:29 am
 

Even the schedule working against Orioles

Baltimore's epically horrible start (2-14 following Wednesday's loss in Seattle) is the perfect storm of a whole lot of things going wrong, from bullpen meltdowns to miserable situational hitting, but the Orioles aren't getting any breaks from the schedule-maker, either.

That the Orioles knew this spring that they would start off with as rugged a schedule as anybody in baseball is no consolation as they plow through their worst start since the 0-21 beginning in 1988.

The O's are in the midst of playing 18 of their first 28 games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Tampa Bay. And of those other 10 games, seven consist of a West Coast trip to Oakland and Seattle (which ended Wednesday night against the Mariners' Felix Hernandez).

That finished, the Orioles open a series in Boston on Friday, entering a stretch in which they'll face the Red Sox and Yankees 12 consecutive times. After that, it's off to contending Minnesota for four games before finally hitting the first "soft" part of their schedule: And eight-game homestand against Seattle, Cleveland and Kansas City beginning May 11.

Meantime, Baltimore's struggling AL East rival, Boston, is in as friendly a part of the schedule as a team could want: The Red Sox are in the midst of playing 20 of 26 games in Fenway Park, where Boston went 56-25 last season.

The Sox opened a 10-game homestand Friday against Tampa Bay, and following a trip to Toronto and Baltimore, they open another 10-game homestand May 3 against the Angels.

At 6-9 and fourth in the AL East, the Red Sox will not have a better time to turn things around.

A couple of other early scheduling observations:

-- The Angels will make a whopping six different cross-country trips this summer to the East Coast. They were in New York to face the Yankees in April, they'll be in Boston in May, New York again in July, Baltimore in August and Tampa Bay in September. June is the only month in which the Angels do not head for the East Coast. Hmmm, think manager Mike Scioscia made someone angry when he complained about the playoff schedule last October? The Angels will fly 50,509 air miles this season, a major-league high.

-- When San Francisco started 7-2, the thought was that we would find out whether the Giants were for real very soon (though getting swept in San Diego this week didn't figure to be one of the crucial test cases): Beginning in Los Angeles against the Dodgers last Friday, the Giants were to face five contenders in six series': The Dodgers, St. Louis (which arrives in San Francisco on Friday to open a weekend series), Philadelphia, Colorado and Florida.

-- The Twins, who hosted the Red Sox for three games last week, play just twice in Boston this season. Minnesota and Boston are finished with each other for 2010 on May 20.

-- Detroit plays the Mets in New York (June 22-24) before facing the Yankees in New York (Aug. 16-19).

Likes: Austin Jackson, Detroit's good-looking rookie center fielder. ... How about Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes in Oakland on Wednesday night, no-hitting the A's until Eric Chavez's sharp single that bounced off of Hughes to start the inning. ... Never a dull moment talking baseball in Detroit manager Jim Leyland's office. ... I applaud Carlos Zambrano's willingness to do anything to help the Cubs, but a temp job as a set-up man? Yikes.

Dislikes: The plight of the independent record stores, which are shrinking as badly as the independent bookstores and, sadly, are probably headed the way of the independent grocery stores and pharmacies. I applauded Independent Record Store Day last Saturday, but when I visited one of my favorites, Lou's Records in Encinitas, Calif., the other day, it was discouraging. They didn't have the Drive-By Truckers' newest CD (The Big To-Do), which makes about the fourth consecutive trip where they were out of what I was looking for. Worse, they're consolidating inventory into one building (it's a funky little place that currently consists of two small buildings, with used CDs in one and new in the other). Which obviously means less stuff. A clerk told me sales have been down 80 percent.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"People get ready, there's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
Don't need no ticket, you just thank the Lord

-- Curtis Mayfield, People Get Ready

Posted on: April 14, 2010 1:27 pm
 

Sore ribs keep Ellsbury out

MINNEAPOLIS -- Red Sox leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury was out of the lineup for a second consecutive game Wednesday with bruised ribs, and the Boston left fielder may wind up missing the entire series here.

"Realistically it might be until we get back to Boston [before he plays]," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before Wednesday's game here. "The soreness is getting more centrally isolated, which is good."

Ellsbury was injured Sunday in Kansas City when he collided with third baseman Adrian Beltre trying to make a play in the ninth inning. He left that game and hasn't played since, although X-rays at least showed that there were no breaks.

Moved to center field this year to accommodate Mike Cameron in center, Ellsbury had multiple hits in four of his six games this season. Without him, shortstop Marco Scutaro hit leadoff Monday and again Wednesday in Minnesota.

"We told him this spring that there would be plenty of times he would lead off," Francona said. "He's good at it."

The Sox just hoped it wouldn't be so soon. Though Scutaro did go 2 for 4 with a couple of singles in Monday's 5-2 loss.

Boston returns home Friday to open a 10-game homestand against Tampa Bay.

Posted on: April 8, 2010 12:02 am
Edited on: April 8, 2010 12:15 am
 

Boston's delicate Ortiz situation

The last thing the Red Sox need this early in the season is a full-blown crisis with designated hitter David Ortiz, but they're teetering on the brink of one.

Yes, it would have made sense on paper for manager Terry Francona to use right-handed hitter Mike Lowell as his designated hitter against Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte on Wednesday instead of Ortiz, who staggered into the game 0-for-7 and already is showing signs of stress by profanely lashing out at reporters after Tuesday's loss.

But Francona isn't managing on paper and, right now, he's not even managing for one night.

He's managing for the rest of the season. And one man he cannot lose in 2010 is Ortiz.

At least, not until an apparently deteriorating Ortiz reaches the point of no return.

And two or three games into a season is not that point.

One month ago, during a conversation in Francona's spring training office, we talked about the possibility of Boston using Lowell as a DH in certain situations. You know, platooning with Ortiz.

"I really don't want to look at [Ortiz] like that," Francona said. "He's our full-time DH. For us to be as good as we want to be, if he is the full-time DH, we're probably a better team.

"If we ever got to the point where he wasn't, something went wrong. That's not what we're looking for."

That's especially not what the Red Sox are looking for two and three games into the season.

Ortiz was hitting .367 against Pettitte over his career when Wednesday night's game started. Lowell was at .345 against Pettitte.

Ortiz struggled badly against lefties last year, going .212 against them with a .298 on-base percentage. The Sox were -- and are -- hoping that those numbers are simply a manifestation of his overall struggles last year and nothing more. Career, including last year, Ortiz is hitting .261 with a .337 OBP against lefties.

"You get into some bad habits, and he was trying to cheat to get to pitches anyway ... you start doing that with lefties, now it opens up both sides of the plate," Francona said this spring. "Because David, I think, career-wise his numbers certainly are lower against left-handers, but they were still dangerous.

"If he's hitting, he's going to hit. We usually pick a guy who he doesn't see well off of to give him a day off, anyway. That's not a problem.

"But we don't want to turn him into a platoon player."

Starting Lowell in place of Ortiz on Wednesday maybe would have made sense, given what has to be considered an alarming start for Ortiz (even if he doesn't see it that way).

But that would have sent a distressing signal to Ortiz, who could easily read that as an early vote of no confidence, and it would have needlessly fueled the Ortiz/Lowell platoon DH debate that is in the beginning stages.

"In my opinion, tonight would have been a good night to play Lowell," Francona told reporters in Boston before the game. "It would have been a bad night not to play David.

"Since they won't give us two DH's, I kind of have to make a decision."

You bet that decision will be to back Ortiz, and to do everything he can think of to get Big Papi going.

As it was, Ortiz went 1-for-4 in Wednesday's 3-1, 10-inning loss. He singled home Boston's only run, but he struck out twice and grounded out in his other three at-bats.

He's now hitting .091 for the season, and while he's even losing support in Fenway Park, he's right, it's still way too early to render any final judgments.

And Francona is right in that Wednesday night would have been a bad night not to play Ortiz.

As the manager said one month ago, if the Red Sox reach the point where Ortiz isn't the full-time DH, then something went wrong.

Three games into the season, it's a little early for things to go permanently wrong.

Isn't it?

Posted on: April 5, 2010 12:37 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2010 4:08 pm
 

Beckett: Four more years (in Boston)

Fresh from their Opening Night pounding of the dreaded Yankees, the Red Sox this afternoon formally will announce a contract extension for ace Josh Beckett, $68 million over four years.

As colleague Danny Knobler chuckled when we talked not long ago, not bad for a pitcher with a 9.64 ERA. That's where Beckett's stands now after the Yankees clubbed him for five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings Sunday night.

In all seriousness, though, the larger meaning of this beyond New England's boundaries is that it continues to emphasize the most important thing in today's game: You'd better build your team with young pitching, because less and less of it is available on the free agent market. At least, fewer impact pitchers are getting out there.

Beckett and Roy Halladay each was supposed to be a free agent next winter. Not now: The Sox have locked up Beckett, and the Phillies over the winter acquired Halladay from Toronto then signed him to a three-year, $60 million deal.

Two other key pitchers had their free agency delayed over the past several months, too, with Detroit signing Justin Verlander to a five-year, $80 million extension and Seattle signing ace Felix Hernandez to a five-year, $78 million deal in January.

Posted on: March 8, 2010 11:56 pm
 

The Beltre-Lowell tango in Boston

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Not long after third baseman Adrian Beltre arrived at his new home, he and Mike Lowell had a talk. It wasn't a major summit. The two were simply out on one of the practice fields when Lowell approached him, the two said hello and they then carefully broached the 800-pound elephant in the infield.

Lowell, 36 and recovering from thumb surgery, is being moved out to the Shady Acres Rest Home by the Red Sox.

Beltre, who will turn 31 on April 7 and is signed to a one-year, $10 million deal for 2010 with a player option for 2011, is replacing him.

The complicating factor, of course, is that Boston had Lowell traded to Texas over the winter but the Rangers nixed the trade after Lowell failed the physical because of the thumb.

So Lowell, due $12 million this year, is rehabbing while in a holding pattern. The Red Sox quietly pray he shows enough this exhibition season that they'll be able to trade him.

"Most people probably think it's uncomfortable," Beltre says. "But for us, not at all."

That the two are co-existing this spring is a tribute to Lowell's class and grace as one of the club's elder statesmen, and to Beltre's ability to walk gingerly through what is undoubtedly, at times, an uneasy start with his new employer.

"It's not easy," Beltre says. "He's been one of the best third basemen in the big leagues for the last 10 years. I've been a big fan of his. For me, he has one of the best [sets of] hands of any third baseman. It's just a situation where he's been hurt the last couple of years. ... It's not easy to be in his situation. Everybody knows he can play.

"We both want what's best. He wants to play. I want to play."

Lowell was the MVP of the 2007 World Series. He's been a good player for the Red Sox and pure class in the clubhouse. Yet, he committed the cardinal sin of getting older and breaking down. The hip. The thumb. The gray hairs.

He's a fan favorite and beloved by the Red Sox. But, hey, it's a business.

"He's a guy we really respect," manager Terry Francona says. "It can be a little bit difficult, to be honest with you. He's a guy who's earned that. He's been in the game a long time. All those things we talk about loyalty, he's earned it.

"Then, as an organization, we make decisions and they can be hard on guys sometimes. I think they really recognize that.

"So we just try to handle it the best we can. That's about as honest as I can be about that. Sometimes our evaluation doesn't match the player's evaluation And we understand that, too. And they can't. They never do. Anywhere."

Likes: Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia barking good naturedly at somebody across the clubhouse the minute I opened the door at 8 a.m. the other morning. The guy never stops, even before the coffee has kicked in. ... You've got to pull for young Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, one of the nicest guys in the game. ... Long-time Boston radio man Jonny Miller, who always has asked all the hard questions for WBZ and whose non-stop work in the face of nasty back problems is an inspiration. ... I'm perfectly fine with The Hurt Locker winning the Oscar for best picture. I'm really, really happy Avatar, the most overrated flick of the year, didn't win. ... The Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central Falcons opening the boys' basketball District Tournament this week at Blissfield. Go get 'em, Falcons.

Dislikes: Exhibition games have barely started and, already, players are dropping left and right: St. Louis' MVP Albert Pujols (back), Minnesota closer Joe Nathan (elbow), Cubs reliever Angel Guzman (shoulder), Dodgers catcher Russell Martin (groin) and Kansas City third baseman Alex Gordon (broken finger) for starters. Martin is probably out four-to-six weeks minimum. Gordon is expected to miss at least two or three weeks. Guzman probably will be sidelined for the entire season and the Twins continue to hold their breath on Nathan. Meantime, the Cards say they aren't concerned with Pujols. Yet. Yikes.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"If midnight is an awful hour
"Baby, why does it come so soon?
"If midnight is an awful hour
"Baby, why does it come so soon?
"It never brings me happiness
"Always leaves me filled with gloom"

-- B.B. King, Midnight Blues

Posted on: January 4, 2010 8:09 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2010 9:15 pm
 

Beltre agrees to deal with Red Sox

The Red Sox are on the verge of adding a new third baseman, agreeing to the framework of a one-year deal with Adrian Beltre for roughly $9 million, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

The deal, contingent on Beltre passing a physical examination and with a vesting option for a second year that is believed to be worth $5 million, is another move toward general manager Theo Epstein's goal of improving Boston's defense without taking away from run production. Beltre is a two-time Gold Glove winner who batted .265 with eight homers and 44 RBI last season in Seattle.

Boston clearly was headed in a different direction at third base for 2010, and the failed Mike Lowell trade to Texas didn't deter the Sox.

At 30, Beltre is five years younger than Lowell. And though Beltre long since has lost his 48-homer power (his career-high came in 2004, his last season with the Dodgers), the thinking is his offensive numbers should improve in Fenway Park as opposed to Seattle's pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. Until he was slowed by a groin injury that limited him to 111 games last summer, Beltre had hit 25, 26 and 25 home runs over the previous three seasons.

Spring training in Fort Myers could be awkward if the Red Sox are unable to trade Lowell before he theoretically proves this spring that his surgically repaired thumb is healthy. The trade with Texas -- which still could be renewed -- was nixed by the Rangers when physicians determined that Lowell was in need of surgery.

Lowell underwent thumb surgery last week, and recovery time is expected to be six-to-eight weeks. It is still expected that the Red Sox will trade him, it's just a question of whether it happens before or during spring training.

Posted on: December 29, 2009 4:35 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2009 5:21 pm
 

Bay-watch finished, Mets' winter looking up

Whether he wants to or not, slugging outfielder Jason Bay is on the verge of becoming a New York Met. Bay and the club have agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth $66 million, CBSSports.com has confirmed, with a fifth-year option that could boost the package into the $80 million neighborhood.

The deal is pending Bay passing a physical examination and, as such, the Mets are not confirming that an agreement is in place.

Barring any surprises with Bay's physical, the move will accomplishes one of the Mets' chief offseason goals, which was adding a slugger who will man left field and make manger Jerry Manuel's lineup more dangerous. It also should silence critics who were chattering that the Mets' dalliance with Bay was "just for show", a transparent attempt to placate their fans while making an offer they knew Bay would not accept.

In the end, they got it done.

Now, regarding the "wants to" part: The Mets made their initial offer to Bay coming out of the winter meetings in Indianapolis some three weeks ago and have been waiting for an answer ever since. Speculation, of course, has been strong in some quarters that Bay must not have wanted to become a Met very badly because, if he did, talks between him and the club wouldn't have dragged along for so long.

But in a chilly winter on the free agent market in which Boston cut bait with Bay and signed outfielder Mike Cameron, and Seattle, San Francisco and the Yankees -- all clubs looking for a big, middle-of-the-order bat -- Bay's options pretty much dwindled to just one. And that one was located with a Queens ZIP code.

However Bay was delivered -- and there's a lot of dollars here to sooth any disappointment the Canada native might have felt when Seattle didn't step up, or when Boston pulled its offer -- there is no doubt that it's a victory for the Mets.

It's not a guaranteed victory, because we've been through this before with them: They traded for Johan Santana two winters ago and signed free agent closers Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz last winter and failed to make the playoffs both years. Much to their fans chagrin, the Mets have proven in recent years that they're a different breed and often add up to less than the sum of their parts would appear.

But they have needs to fill as the time since their last playoff appearance (2006) lengthens and the back-to-back NL champion -- and Mets' NL East rival -- Philadelphia Phillies (who already have traded for Roy Halladay and signed Placido Polanco this winter) continue to swing for the fences.

Though he's now 31, considered a mediocre outfielder and batted just .267 for the Red Sox last summer, he also walloped 36 home runs and finished with 119 RBI.

With a healthy Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran (it's never too late to start knocking on wood in advance of opening day with them) and with slugging third baseman David Wright, Bay will give the Mets another presence that should make life difficult for opposing pitchers.

But their job is not finished. They still need a catcher -- free agent Bengie Molina remains the most logical bet -- and pitching (bullpen help, especially).

With the Mets, the job is never finished. But with Bay poised to change his workplace address to Citi Field, ever so cautiously, there again is hope.

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