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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

For Red Sox, Playing For Future Means Losing in the Present

As it stands the Red Sox are the ninth worst team in the entire Major Leagues, tied with the also-ugly San Diego Padres. Judging based on their most recent skid, things don't appear to be headed north anytime soon and the team has been forced to admit they are "playing for pride" at this point.

Pride is a major part of any persons life and generally a multi-million dollar ball player will have plenty to go around. This season has been enough to put a dent in the strongest willed, such as fan favorite (and still one of my personal favorites) Dustin Pedroia. The question has to be asked at this point, if the Sox should put this pride on the shelf for the remainder of this season and just continue to lose. I know, it sounds crazy, but bear with me.

As we stand, Boston is undoubtedly in the conversation for worse overall season, especially when one considers that they shouldn't be this bad. The fact remains though. They are this bad, and barring an absolute miracle, they will pack their bags early and go home after the final regular season series in New York on October 3rd.

The general feeling surrounding the season right now is that we're looking toward the future. What better way than a top-10 draft pick come June 2013? Sure, it's not a guaranteed win-win situation, but has anyone paid attention to the Nationals this season? They are living proof of the importance of the mid-summer event.

More specifically, has anyone paid attention to Stephen Strasburg this season? For those who don't know, his existence in the Nats rotation is a product of Washington being the worst team in baseball for a season. The Red Sox have played the part already this season, so why not get something in return?

I understand this scenario would look really bad and probably even hamper ticket sales a bit (god forbid), but haven't the Red Sox already established themselves as terrible? Is there anything they can do in the final month that will change the way fans will perceive this disastrous season?

The Red Sox aren't good now and they won't be at any point this season. That's clear. They can be in the future though, and a top draft pick (preferably a clear-cut ace starter) may be the difference between a perennial loser and a team that rebounds in the near future and puts this mess firmly in the rear view.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Red Sox Set to Turn Tables in Second Half?

BOSTON, MA - JULY 06:  Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of t...
The Red Sox have plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the second half of the season. Jacoby Ellsbury's return is perhaps the biggest of all.  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
The first half of the season was nothing short of a disaster for Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox. There were too many contributing factors to list here, but I'll sum it up and say that injuries, mediocre starting pitching and "clubhouse issues" all played a part in turning Boston into just another team in the AL East.

In a short sample since the second half got underway, the Red Sox have largely resembled a completely different ball-club. The injuries that made for a forgettable first half are healing and the result thus far has been what Ben Cherington envisioned while putting together the 25-man roster in the offseason.

Battling the types of injuries that Bobby Valentine was forced to this season makes it quite hard to get your team in a winning pattern, or as we've witnessed, any sort of pattern at all. Perhaps the first half would have been bearable if the Sox just consistently stunk, instead of flashing championship-caliber play only to entrench themselves in another losing streak.

Having dynamic players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford (When he finds his groove) in the lineup every day changes the outlook of a baseball game in many ways. Just look at the impact Ellsbury has had already. Seven games, hits in five, multi-hits in four, giving him a .355 BA since returning from the disabled list.

Carl Crawford has played four games since making his season debut this past week. It's a small sample, but the left fielder is 6-14 with 6 runs scored and 3 stolen bases. All of his knocks have been singles, but batting second in the order, all he has to do is get to first base. So far he's done so in exactly half of his at-bats.

BOSTON, MA - MAY 11:  Manager Bobby Valentine ...
After struggling mightily in the early months of the season, Clay Buchholz has returned to the form that garnered him consideration for the '10 Cy Young Award.  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Dustin Pedroia didn't spend nearly as much time on the shelve as the other two mentioned, but anytime he's out of the lineup and off the field, Boston misses his presence. Having him back is as important as any other aspect of the team, even with his struggles this season. We know Pedey, which means we also know he can carry the team through August and September if he's healthy. That's the hope.

Offsetting the returns of these three was the revelation that David Ortiz will spend 15 days on the disabled list, but the good news is, it shouldn't be a prolonged stay. The hot bats of Cody Ross, Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury should help to carry the load until Big Papi can return to the lineup.

With all this being said of the offense, it will be the pitching that determines the fate of the Boston Red Sox this season. If struggling starters Jon Lester and Josh Beckett can't get their act together, don't expect a deep run into the playoffs this season. It's true when they say offense sells tickets, but pitching wins ball games. That's been the big issue all season.

Clay Buchholz did his best to instill confidence last night, throwing eight stellar innings of one-run ball against the Chicago White Sox. The bat of Cody Ross may have sent the Red Sox into the win-column, but it was Buchholz' effort that truly won the game. Had he given up 5 earned runs, Ross' homer would have been another number in the box score.

We'll see in the coming weeks if Lester, Beckett and the rest of the rotation can carry Boston to a run at the World Series. Right now, the chances of at least a playoff run look pretty good at just one game behind the Angels and Tigers in the wild card. The offense appears to be clicking and it should only get better when Ortiz returns. So, can the Red Sox turn the tables in the second half?




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Andrew Bailey Expected to Resume Rehab in Coming Days

OAKLAND, CA -  JUNE 17: Andrew Bailey #40 of t...
With Andrew Bailey expected to resume his rehab in the coming days, Boston hopes to get some of what Oakland did while the reliever was healthy.  Getty Images via @daylife)
According to NESN.com, Red Sox reliever Andrew Bailey is once again close to a minor league rehab assignment after throwing a 30-pitch bullpen session without any further setbacks. Bobby Valentine says the assignment should come in the next several days.

Bailey had started to progress recently before being shut down with discomfort in his throwing arm. At the time, the Red Sox said that the pitcher was progressing well ahead of schedule, so the setback was not a major concern.

Because Bailey is a reliever, his stint in the minors should be shorter than that of teammates Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury recently. If he does start rehab within the next few days, there's a chance he could be pitching in a big league game very early in August. That's of course if the injury-prone hurler avoids further complications.

Though Boston's bullpen has been a strong point most of the season, an extra productive arm is always needed. Especially if Bailey can get back to pitching the way he has while healthy in Oakland. We should soon find out if the Sox will get any return on the $3.9 million shelled out to him. To this point, he has earned exactly $0.00 of his paycheck.



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Rolling Red Sox, Cody Ross Walk-Off in Finale Against ChiSox

BOSTON, MA - JULY 19:  Cody Ross #7 of the Bos...
BOSTON, MA - JULY 19: Cody Ross #7 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with teammate Dustin Pedroia #15 after hitting the game winning walk-off three run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox during the game on July 19, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
In the business that is major league baseball, teams don't get much for a mere three million dollars these days. The Red Sox picked up a lottery ticket during the offseason and did they ever hit the jackpot with Cody Ross. Just ask the White Sox who were owned by the outfielder over the last four games, including a walk-off 3-run bomb Thursday night.

Ross may have technically won the game, but he wouldn't have been afforded the opportunity had it not been for Clay Buchholz' dominance of the potent White Sox offense. The righty threw eight innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits with six strikeouts and a walk.

White Sox starter, Jose Quintana, was just a bit better than Buchholz though, preventing the Red Sox starter from picking up a win. The rookie pitched eight innings also, without allowing a run on just five hits to lower his season ERA to 2.30 in 70 1/3 IP.

Dustin Pedroia picked up a single in four at-bats in his return from the 15-day disabled list and Adrian Gonzalez was 2-4 with a pair of singles to raise his average to .298 on the season.

Boston will welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to town Friday night for a three game set at Fenway Park. Struggling starter Josh Beckett will take on Aaron Laffey who is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA on the season. The Red Sox are now 9.5 games behind the Yankees in the division but just 1.0 game behind the Angels and Tigers for a wild card spot.




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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Change of Plans: David Ortiz Headed to DL

BOSTON, MA - MAY 20:  David Ortiz #34 of the B...

After saying yesterday that a DL stint was unlikely, plans have changed for David Ortiz as he will in fact take a trip to the 15-day disabled list.  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Yesterday I wrote here that the Red Sox had finally received a bit of good news this season. That was in reference to David Ortiz' Achilles injury, which he didn't expect would cause a trip to the disabled list, rather just a chunk of rest.

Today we got confirmation that the curse of Theo Epstein lives on, and it's pulse is still quite strong. According to Bobby Valentine, after getting a second opinion, David Ortiz will in fact become the latest Red Sox to receive a two-week band-aid aka the disabled list.

In Big Papi's place, Boston will call up minor league slugger Mauro Gomez, who leads the Pawtucket Red Sox in several offensive categories this season. Obviously the hope is that Gomez can provide some punch from the plate to replace Ortiz' output.

In a short stint with the big club this season, Gomez hit .308 with 3 doubles and 3 RBI in 26 at-bats. He did not have a homerun while with Boston.

With Adrian Gonzalez recently experiences some back issues himself, Gomez figures to get some playing time at first base as well as DH. Bobby Valentine would likely use the free position to give some rest to banged up regulars and recently returned stars over the next two weeks (fingers crossed).



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