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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Felix Doubront Looks Sharp Against Yankees

With each day that passes, we get closer to regular season baseball. In spring training there are always certain jobs that can be had and others that are locked up. Some years teams have more pressing issues than in previous years. In 2012 the Red Sox most pressing issue is the fifth starter role.

The candidates for the job seem endless but the real possibilities are actually quite slim. One of the most intriguing options available to the Red Sox is Felix Doubront.

The young lefty from Venezuela lost a year of development in 2011 due to nagging injuries but this spring he looks determined to regain his status among the top Red Sox pitching prospects. His performance tonight against the Yankees cant hurt his cause.

Doubront pitched four innings in his start against the Yankees, allowing two hits, no runs, a walk and three strikeouts. Coming off of a subpar outing his last time out, Bobby Valentine has to be impressed with Doubronts ability to bounce back tonight. We'll have to tune in after the game to see what the Red Sox manager thought of the performance.

You never have to wait for my opinion though. Naturally I cant wait to put my opinion out there, hoping to spawn a friendly debate here and there. So lets get active on the comment board and talk about this. What do you think about the Sox fifth starter situation? Who is your current favorite for the job?

Tune in later for a full recap of tonights game.

Red Sox Take on Yankees Tuesday, Does the Outcome Matter?

Tonight will start a new chapter in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. Not really but it sounded good right? Ive seen that phrase on several sites today so I decided to explore the issue, does this game mean anything?

Sure it means something. It means that the two teams are a day closer to baseball that counts, it means Bobby Valentine and Joe Girardi will oppose eachother for the first time in this rivalry, and it means that a handful of Red Sox prospects will face the Yankees for the first time in their careers. As far as things that matter in baseball though, this game is as meaningful as the next spring training game.

The most important thing for the Red Sox will be Felix Doubront. The Venezuelan lefty is a candidate for the fifth spot in the starting rotation so his progression could be vital to the Red Sox.

The lineup for the Red Sox looks like this.

Aviles SS, Pedroia 2B, Ellsbury DH, Salty C, Middlebrooks 3B, Anderson 1B, Linares CF, Kroeger RF, Hassan LF, Doubront P

With the exception of the top four in the lineup, its all minor league guys. Just another day in Spring Training.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beckett Pitches Four Innings, Sox Beat Marlins 5-3

Josh Beckett had some trouble finding himself in the early innings of this one but he was able to minimize damage and eventually settle down to put in four solid innings in the Red Sox win.

In the first inning of this one Beckett hit a pair of batters and walked one forcing in the first run of the game. He was able to retire Terry Tiffee to get out of the inning without further damage though.

In the second inning Beckett allowed a walk before retiring the next nine in order to finish up his outing. Overall not a bad performance, save for the first inning.

The Red Sox' first run came from the two players fighting for the shortstop position. Mike Aviles had a triple followed by a double from Nick Punto to get the Sox on the board. Aviles made a statement in this one with a triple and a double.

Cody Ross and Kelly Shoppach each had an RBI in the fourth to go ahead 3-1.

The Marlins first run came in the first when Josh Beckett walked Chris Coghlan to force in a run. Aaron Rowand drove in the second run off Andrew Bailey with a single to center in the sixth and the tying run was brought in on a sac fly in the ninth, forcing the game into extra innings.

It was Infielder Pedro Ciriaco who drove in the go ahead runs with a two run homer in the ninth inning. And thats the wrap for this one, another spring training game gone and another day closer to meaningful baseball. Stay Tuned.

Five Red Sox Prospects to Watch For in 2012

With spring training baseball in full swing there's alot of attention on prospects. Spring training is the biggest way that an up and coming player can fight his way onto a big league roster. In this post I will give you my top five Red Sox prospects to watch for during the 2012 season, with my opinion of course. (These are the prospects I consider closest to the big leagues, there are some higher ranked prospects that are further away.)

5, Ryan Kalish

Ryan Kalish made his major league debut back in 2010 showing some promise but was still expected to start 2011 in Triple A to continue his development. That plan was scratched early when Kalish injured his shoulder attempting to catch a ball in April. The shoulder injury took him out of play until August when he made a short lived attempt to return to action. He played just ten games before being sidelined again, this time for a bulging disk in his neck. Rough season to say the least.

If Kalish had been healthy in 2011 he would likely be the starting right fielder heading into 2012. He may have lost a huge opportunity in 2011 but 2012 offers a new opportunity to the young outfielder, with Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney fighting for playing time there is a chance that Kalish could outshine one of them and get some playing time. I get the feeling that Bobby Valentine would not be opposed to giving the kid a chance to stabilize the right field position. Keep an eye on Ryan Kalish in 2012, he could surprise us.

4. Jose Iglesias

Spring training has been a good chance for Jose Iglesias to show off the skill that got him signed, his defense. Most everyone in the Red Sox organization knows by now that the young Cuban shortstops glove is major league ready, its his bat that lands him close to the bottom of this list.

The question on everyones mind going into the middle of March? Can the Red Sox settle for the lack of offense in order to save hits up the middle? And if they can, should they?

My opinion is this, yes the Red Sox could afford the lack of offense, but they shouldnt. Mike Aviles should be the starting shortstop on Opening Day. Its no secret that Iglesias has struggled at the plate recently, but I think he can make huge strides in 2012. Just not in the majors.

Several times I have heard the Rey Ordonez comparisons but I think Iglesias is capable of more. He just needs time. Were not running out of time by any means, as he just turned 22 in January.

Look for Iglesias to be in Triple A until September, but once he gets his chance when the roster expands look for him to make the most of it.

3. Felix Doubront

Going into the 2011 season it was expected that Felix Doubront would play a major role on the big club. Things didnt go as planned though as injuries made 2011 a lost season for the Venezuelan righty.

Now that Doubront is healthy there is a chance he could make the big club out of spring training, possibly as the fifth starter. Either way 2012 will be a pivotal year for this young pitcher, he will either prove that he can handle the rigors of pitching in professional baseball or he could end up just another promising talent whos body couldnt hold up. It will be interesting to watch his progression in 2012.

2. Ryan Lavarnway

When the Red Sox signed Kelly Shoppach in the offseason they made one thing clear. They plan on letting Ryan Lavarnway season in the Minors a but longer. Problem is he may end up forcing their hand. There is no debate on whether the young catcher can hit, his defensive capability is whats up in the air right now.

I have a feeling that the Red Sox may have had another reason for signing Shoppach though. In case they couldnt come to terms with David Ortiz. If this had been the case, they could have used Lavarnway as their DH. With David Ortiz signed and Kelly Shoppach now the backup catcher, where does that leave Lavarnway? Possibly in Triple A but not for long.

Lavarnway proved in 2011 that his bat is major league ready and he will continue to show it in 2012. Last year he hit 30 homeruns before the All Star break in the minors, he wont get a chance to do so in '12 because he will be in Boston by then. Mark my words and come the All Star break we can discuss it. Barring injury, Lavarnway will be in Boston to stay by July.

That brings us to numero uno on this list. The top Red Sox prospect in alot of peoples eyes, Will Middlebrooks.

5. Will Middlebrooks

Will Middlebrooks started the 2011 season at Double A Portland, where he hit .302 with 18 homers and 25 double in 371 at bats. This performance earned the third baseman a promotion to Pawtucket where things werent so peachy. In 56 at bats for the PawSox, Middlebrooks hit just .161 with 2 homers. He didnt give up though, redeeming himself in the Arizona Fall League hitting .300 in 56 at bats with 4 homeruns and 11 RBI.

With Kevin Youkilis around for 2012 and the Red Sox holding an option for 2013, some think that Middlebrooks wont see Boston in 2012. I disagree. Did anyone see Youk last year? By mid season he could barely stay on the field. The Red Sox do have other options at third, shifting Aviles over would be a possibility but if Middlebrooks is raking at Triple A why shouldnt he get a shot at the least? Watch closely in 2012, a series of unfortunate events could open a window for this young third baseman.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jon Lester Leads Red Sox Past Orioles 6-1

In his first real start of the spring, Jon Lester was able to hold off the Orioles. Lester pitched four innings in the game, walking four but only giving up one hit and allowing a run. The walks would be a concern if we werent in mid march but at this point he is likely trying to get a feel for facing hitters again. Lester had this to say about the walks.

“About halfway through the second finally got into a rhythm, I had a hard time figuring out where the plate was. I was just missing on a lot of pitches. I felt good and ended up limiting the damage, that’s the main thing.’’

Dustin Pedroia knocked in a pair of runs in the second inning with a double but was theny thrown out at the plate trying to score on Jacoby Ellsburys double.

Robert Andino scored the lone run for the Orioles when he walked, stole second and was driven in by Adam Jones.

Aaron Cook made his spring debut for the Red Sox in this one throwing two innings, allowing two walks, no runs and striking out one. Cook had this to say after the game,

"It felt really good, the first inning I was a little amped up, I felt like a little kid. I was able to make some pitches and get out of the inning. Got a lot of groundball [outs] and that's what I need to do."

Jon Lester's ability to minimize damage and get through four innings was an encouraging sign from this game. As was Aaron Cook's performance. The Red Sox will be easy on the throttle with Cook but there is a chance he could ready mid april or at the start of May. A groundball pitcher like Cook could fare quite well at Fenway Park, especially with gold glovers in Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez as well as former gold glover Kevin Youkilis manning the infield.

Thats the wrap for Sundays game. Visit often for Red Sox news and other cool articles, updated several times daily. You wont want to miss the action when the season starts!

Red Sox Beat Rays 5-0 at Fenway South. Aceves, Bard Making Their Case

The biggest story in this one was Daniel Bards ability to get the same hitters out twice, something he hasnt had to do yet in a game. It was the biggest challenge he has faced in the early part of his transition and he didnt disappoint. Bard finished with 3 IP, 2H, 2BB, and a K, while not allowing a run.

Three of the Red Sox five runs were gifts in this one. One came when Salty walked to force in a run and two came on a BJ Upton error. Adrian Gonzalez doubled in the fourth followed by a double from Kevin Youkilis to drive in the fourth run. The fifth run wouldnt come until the ninth inning when Josh Kroeger had an RBI double. Lars Anderson and Darnell McDonald each had a double in the game.

Alfredo Aceves relieved Daniel Bard in the fourth inning and went on to throw three scoreless innings as well. His line, 3IP, 2H, 0BB, 0R, 2K. In his two starts this spring he hasnt allowed a run in five innings. Bobby Valentine will have a hard time putting him in the bullpen if he continues to pitch like he has. Look for him to keep having success, hes that kind of guy. He will fight his way into the starting rotation.

Daniel Bard Pitches Three Scoreless in Red Sox Win Over Rays

With the season approaching it is vital that the Red Sox solidify atleast four spots in the rotation before April 5. Thus far Daniel Bard has given Bobby Valentine reason to be optimistic.

Bard pitched three solid innings in the Red Sox 5-0 win over Tampa Bay Saturday allowing two hits, two walks, no runs and striking out one.

He had a bit of trouble in the first inning, after getting two outs on just five pitches he lost command of his fastball and walked Ben Zobrist on four pitches. Matt Joyce made Bard work in the next at bat, working a full count and fouling off three pitches before grounding out. Bard ended up throwing 20 pitches in the inning, 12 of them for strikes.

Bard had to throw 16 pitches in the second inning and 12 in the third, finishing with 48 in three innings. This was the first time that he has faced the same hitters twice in a game and he actually faired pretty well. He threw the least pitches in the third inning and allowed just a single to Matt Joyce.

I am one of the people that have been excited to see Bard move into the rotation. As the Spring rolls on I am even more excited. I know it will be a work in progress but I love Bards pure stuff. I see no reason why he cant succeed if he can master a changeup. His fastball and slider are already well above average.

This outing is big news for Red Sox fans. If Bard is successful in the rotation and the trio of Lester, Beckett and Buccholz stay healthy we are looking at a very good rotation. At this point I like the chances. Heres to hoping Bard can continue to develop without setback.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

5 Best Red Sox From the Past 10 Years

As a young guy I was a Red Sox fan in the teams most recent glory days. The last ten years have witnessed many changes for the Sox, from ownership to players and everywhere in between. The Sox rose from lovable losers to World Series Champions and there has been no shortage of great players in this time. Here I will give you my Top Five Red Sox players of the last decade, starting with an honorable mentioned followed by number 5 on my list.

Honorable Mention: Jason Varitek

Jason Varitek never had an MVP calibur season, never won a batting title and never won a homerun title. He is still one of the top Red Sox to play in the last ten years. The influence Tek had on the Red Sox players and fans alike is immeasurable. The man caught four no hitters, won a pair of World Series titles ,made three All Star appearances and accumulated over 1300 hits in his career. Surely not Hall of Fame numbers but they dont need to be. His value to the Red Sox could never be measured with numbers. Enough said.

5. Curt Schilling

The reason that Curt Schilling is on this list is simple, 2004. Schilling spent three seasons with the Red Sox from '04-'07. His first season with the Sox he went 21-6 in the regular season and then led the Red Sox to their first World Series in 86 years. The heart and determination he showed in those 2004 playoffs make him one of the greatest Red Sox of the last decade. He didnt fare as well in the 2007 playoffs but still got a win in the World Series making him a big part of both Red Sox championships of the last decade. Need I say more?

4. Dustin Pedroia

The "muddy chicken" makes this list for several reasons. His all around play on the field being the first but not necessarily the most important.

Take a look at these career highlights from Wikipedia.

3× All-Star selection (2008, 2009, 2010)
Silver Slugger Award winner at second base (2008)
World Series Champion (2007)
2007 AL Rookie of the Year
2008 American League MVP
Fielding Bible Award (2011)
2× Gold Glove Award Winner (2008, 2011)
AL player of the month Winner (July 2011)

You would typically see this from a guy in his tenth or twelvth year right? Pedey has just over five. His first full season was 2007, he ended up winning the Rookie of the Year and helping the Sox win a World Series. I think this one is pretty clear cut at this point.

3. David Ortiz

Perhaps David Ortiz is the best DH ever. Theres no question he is the best the Red Sox have ever put in the on-deck circle.

In 2003 Big Papi signed a contract with the Red Sox. This was his breakout year. Once given the opportunity, Ortiz produced 31 homers and 101 RBIs but It was 2004 that cemented Big Papis place in Red Sox history. The two game winning hits against the Yankees in the ALCS were probably the most exciting games I have ever watched. If it werent for Big Papi the Sox may still be waiting for that ring. Im thankful, are you?

2. Manny Ramirez

Okay say what you want about "Manny being Manny" but when he stepped into the batters box "being Manny" wasnt so bad. In his time with the Red Sox Manny was arguably the best hitter in the game. Not just the best hitter but the most clutch as well.

In 2001, Mannys first season with the Sox he produced a .306 batting average with 41 HRs. 2004 was the season that everyone remembers though. Ramirez led the league with 43 homers, was third with 130 RBI and alongside David Ortiz, led the Red Sox to their first World Series victory in 86 years. Ramirez was named MVP of the 2004 World Series.

2007 was a down year for Manny but he still helped the Sox win another World Series. Being a huge factor in both Red Sox World Series of the last decade qualifies Manny for this spot. Even with all of the controversy surrounding his off the field behavior. When he was on the field he produced. Period.

The Number One Red Sox of the last decade is debatable I suppose, especially since the player I chose only played two seasons for the Red Sox in the last ten years. Those two combined with his prior seasons were enough for me to consider him the Best Red Sox of The Past Decade.

Number 1: Pedro Martinez

In his years with the Red Sox, Pedro Martinez was simply amazing. Never again have I seen a Red Sox pitcher even approach Pedro's calibur. If you have been a Red Sox fan atleast ten years you will agree with me.

In the seven years that Martinez pitched for the Sox he had an ERA of 3.00 or more just once. His lowest strikeout total came in 2001 when he pitched just 116 innings, still striking out 163. He won back to back Cy Young Awards with the Red Sox in 1999 and 2000. Do I need to say more? No, But I will.

Like most of the players on this list, the main reason Pedro makes it is 2004. In the regular season he posted a career worst 3.90 ERA but it was forgettable once the postseason rolled around. Martinez and Curt Schilling anchored the Red Sox to a World Series victory with Pedro giving a dominance performance against the Cardinals to lead the Sox to victory. I think we can all agree that Pedro is the best pitcher to wear a Red Sox uniform in the last 15 years at the very least. In my opinion though he is the greatest Red Sox player of the past decade.

Its not hard to notice that this list revolves mostly around 2004. There is a reason for that. It was the best Red Sox season of the past decade and far beyond that. Its only fitting that the best Red Sox season of the decade would feature some of the best Red Sox players of the decade.

Another Honorable Mention goes to Nomar Garciaparra and Johnny Damon as they were a big part of the 2004 season. (Im still bitter that Damon went and signed with the Yankees)

Pirates Get to Padilla, Roll Past Red Sox

The Pirates' newly extended Centerfielder shined in this game and led the Pirates past the Red Sox with a score of 7-4.

Andrew McCutchen had two doubles, a single and two RBI in the game, leading the offense for the Pirates in this one.

Clay Buccholz made the start for the Red Sox and went three innings giving up two runs on three hits with a strikeout and a hit batter. After the game Bobby Valentine said that Buccholz' curveball looked midseason form and his stuff was sharper than his last outing. The stat line may not look the way Clay would prefer but at this point its not important. Getting his stuff up to par and getting control of his pitches should be the goal. Once he can do that the results will come.

Vicente Padilla, who is fighting for a spot in the rotation, got rocked in the fifth inning giving up five runs on five hits. Surely it didnt help his chances of making the rotation.

David Ortiz and Darnell McDonald had good nights offensively with Ortiz homering and McDonald had a homerun and a double. With McDonald fighting for a job he will need to take advantage of his opportunities, which he did on Friday.

Michael Bowden pitched a scoreless eighth and is impressing Bobby Valentine. He seems poised to get a good look in the bullpen, giving him a chance to try to prove he can pitch at the Major League level.

Cant wait to share my opinions once the season starts! Heres to a Red Sox World Series in 2012!!

Papelbon Brown-Nosing Phillies Fanbase

When Jonathan Papelbon signed with the Phillies last fall I was happy for him. For a long time I had liked Pap and respected his ability to shutdown the ninth inning, but the last couple of years my patience had grown thin with him. Even with his stellar 2011 season I cringed when he stepped into a must win game. So when Papelbon signed in Philadelphia I was never disappointed. I knew he would sign somewhere else, you probably did as well. No hard feelings right? There might be now..

Papelbon recently made comments that suggest he may be sucking up to the "Philly Faithful", saying things such as “The Philly fans tend to know the game a little better being in the National League, you know, the way the game is played.”

Maybe hes trying to damper the effects of underperforming his salary, which he will or maybe he just wants to make a good impression. Who knows? Its Papelbon we are talking about. His ego has always been bigger than it should be. The question I would ask though, if Phillies fans know the game better then they should realize that they just paid 50 million dollars for a closer that has posted his two career worst ERAs in the past two seasons right? If you havent cursed at him yet, read on.

Theres no chance Pap would have signed with the Yankees right? I mean its an unwritten rule in baseball, Red Sox players are not supposed to sign with the Yankees. The few that have done so in the past have been all but exiled from Red Sox baseball for life, so Papelbon wouldnt have thought about it right? Wrong. When Papelbon was asked if he would have listened if the Yankees called him he said this..

"Well no question. It's not hate them [Yankees] when you play in between the lines. There's a fine line here. That hate and that passion to beat them was in between the lines and that was it. I would have to say yes to that. I would have definitely entertained the decision to go to the Yankees if that was there, but obviously it wasn't. For me being in Boston it was just a situation where the Red Sox didn't really come at me the way I was expecting to come at me this off-season and I told my agents the first team that shows me interest and shows me loyalty I am going to show that right back to them and that was Philadelphia."

Come on Pap give me a break, please. I can understand that you may have been bitter the Sox didnt come at you but did you really give them a chance? Signing less than three weeks into the offseason sounds like a man jumping at the first pay day to me.

Although we all knew this would be the outcome, couldnt he just go to Philly and shut up? You are not a member of the Sox anymore so please keep your comments to yourself. Unless you wanna wear a cold bud light when you step into the visiting dugout at Fenway of course.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Beckett Looks Good As Sox Lose to Cards

Yesterdays Spring Training game saw the Red Sox lose to the Cardinals 9-3 but it wasnt all bad. Josh Beckett looked good in the three innings he pitched allowing only two hits, no walks and throwing 24 of his 30 pitches for strikes. Beckett has looked quite comfortable so far this spring and hopefully it will carry over to the regular season as he has a chance to be the Red Sox Opening Day starter.

Felix Doubront made relieved Beckett and struck out the first two he faced before loading the bases but inducing a grounder to get out of it. He also put two men on in his second inning before being relieved by Jesse Carlson who gave up a triple that cleared the bases.

The difference in the game came in the eighth inning when Chris Carpenter and Garrett Mock allowed six runs (five earned) to give the Cards a 9-3 lead. So far the Epstein compensation looks like a bust. The kid can throw hard (he hit 95 yesterday), but thus far he hasnt shown that he can command his pitches and get tough outs. He was expected to be in Pawtucket to start the season anyways but he hasnt helped his case this spring.

The Red Sox will face the Pirates tonight at 7:05 pm with Clay Buccholz getting his second start of the spring and Vicente Padilla slated for relief.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

5 Players Vital to Red Sox Success in 2012

After posting about Clay Buccholz this morning I started to think about some other players that will be vital to the Red Sox playoff hopes in 2012. Some of these players arent superstars and wont be expected to perform at that level, some are coming off injury, and some are settling into new roles. Whichever the case may be, each of them will play an important role if this Red Sox team is successful in 2012. So I put together a list of 5 players that will be vital to the Red Sox getting back to the playoffs. (Not in any particular order)

1. Clay Buccholz' ability to stay healthy.

As the third starter in the Red Sox rotation Buccholz' ability to stay healthy is vital as it solidifies the starting rotation. With the uncertainty in the Red Sox rotation at this point it makes Buccholz that much more important. When healthy he has the ability to baffle opposing hitters, see 2010 if you need proof. Losing significant time to injury would be a disaster for the Red Sox as they have little in the way of starting pitching depth.

2. Carl Crawford needs to bounce back in a big way.

In the offseason following the 2010 season the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford to a hefty contract to be their left fielder. The thought was that Crawford would compliment Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield and in the lineup. Things didnt exactly go as planned. A drop of 50 points in batting average coupled with over a 50% drop in the stolen base category and a .694 OPS made 2011 a disappointing debut season. The Sox are going to need more from their supposed star left fielder. Period.

3. Jarrod Saltalamacchia's ability to lead the pitching staff.

With Jason Varitek retiring in the offseason, Salty is going to have to step up. While he made strides in 2011 he will need to work off of them and become a solid leader of the pitching staff. Kelly Shoppach should be able to help him in that department as he is an established veteran. Look for Salty to step up this year and take over this team.

4. Andrew Bailey needs to be healthy.

Theres no question that when Bailey is healthy he can be dominant. His Rookie of the Year award and 2.07 Career ERA are evidence of that. The problem is he has had trouble staying on the field. The young closer has spent significant time on the disabled list the last two seasons, with his only full season coming in 2009 as a Rookie. If he's healthy he should be able to match Papelbons production. Its a rather large "if" though. The Red Sox will need him healthy to solidify their bullpen if they are going to make the playoffs.

5. Josh Beckett needs to shake off the things that went down this offseason.

A tough September led into an offseason filled with reports of beer and fried chicken being consumed during gametime. Josh Beckett seemed to be the ringleader and the media made sure he paid for it. Beckett needs to forget all of this and just pitch. The Red Sox are banking on him doing just that. As the "ace" of this team he has to perform and perform well if the Red Sox are to contend in 2012. Without an effective Beckett you are left with two quality starters in Lester and Buccholz, one of which hasnt pitched since June 2011. Behind them are question marks at this point and another wouldnt be good.

At this point in the season its impossible to know which of these guys will fill their roles adequately. If the Red Sox are to make the playoffs it will be because the majority of these guys were able to step up.

Clay Buchholz Impressive in First Start Since June

Having Clay Buccholz in the Red Sox rotation last September could have changed things signifiantly. Instead of sending underwhelming pitchers to the mound in his place, the Red Sox would have had a chance to win another game out of every five they played. The difference may have been dramatic and the Sox could have made the playoffs and even went further. Who knows?

Before Buccholz went on the DL with soreness in his back that turned out to be a stress fracture, he was 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA. At the time of the injury Buccholz was just starting to turn it on. Some might remember the game he pitched 3 innings before an hour rain delay and still pitched 2 more when the game was resumed. Things were looking bright at this point for Clay and the Red Sox, then came the "minor injury" that ended his season early.

The Red Sox offense was able to carry the load at times but in September the load got too heavy. Add Clay Buccholz to the picture and maybe they win one more game, which is all they needed for a playoff berth. This is all history though, and as much as I like to dream, it is time to move on. Buccholz made that easier yesterday with an encouraging first outing this spring.

In his first start since June of last year Buccholz pitched two innings, walking two and striking out two without allowing a hit. After the game he said that "everything felt good". This is probably the most encouraging sign of this spring. The next few days will be critical in seeing how the righty rebounds.

David Ortiz had a homerun and a double in the game. Daniel Butler hit a three run homerun, Will Middlebrooks had a pair of hits and an RBI, and Jose Iglesias had a hit as the Red Sox won the game 10-2.

Bobby Valentine a Welcome Source of Energy

Spring Training for the Red Sox in recent years past has been about fundamentals, getting in shape and avoiding injury. This is the way Terry Francona ran things and for a while it was sufficient. The Red Sox were perennial contenders for most of Franconas tenure, but after 2011 a change was needed. Mission accomplished, things have changed.

The difference between Valentine and Francona is quite noticable. Francona takes a more laid back approach to managing, not often becoming actively involved with the skills on the field , instead he managed those skills and did his best to use each one individually to the teams advantage. Valentine is different all together, his hands on approach hasnt gone unnoticed. Hes that guy thats seemingly always behind you when you turn around, watching and happy to offer up his advice and even instruction when needed. When Im sixty one years old I hope to have half of the energy this man possesses. The attention that he gives to every small detail of the game should help this team turn things around.

There are some question marks heading into the season, such as the back end of the rotation and the shortstop position. Valentine seems to be doing his share to make sure that these things are set in stone to start the season. He has already played an extra exhibition game to give every player an adequate look. When April 5 rolls around Bobby Valentine will have the best players available to him on the field, whether they make six figures or seven. A welcome change when you think about John Lackey taking the mound every fifth day instead of mop up duty like he should have been doing last year.

While none of this serves as a disrespect to Terry Francona, it was just time to part ways. Tito brought our city two of the most glorious seasons in franchise history, winning a World Series in 2004 as well as 2007. For that, this Red Sox fan will be forever grateful. I wish Tito the best in whatever he chooses to do and I welcome Bobby Valentine to Boston.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Josh Beckett Sharp in First Outing Since "Beergate"

Today saw the Red Sox play host to the Minnesota Twins in the first Grapefruit League game of Spring Training. Thats not the most exciting part though. A pair of Red Sox pitchers came away with solid outings, an encouraging sign for Bobby Valentine.

Josh Beckett got the start for the Red Sox pitching two innings giving up a hit and no runs with a pair of strikeouts. Getting on the mound had to be a welcomed experience for Beckett after the offseason that he and other Red Sox players have had with the beer and fried chicken issue among others.

Andrew Miller showed good signs as well pitching two scoreless innings and showing good command of his pitches. The Red Sox are hoping that Bob McClure can get Millers career back on track, a tall task but we shall see.

The story for the offense was Lars Anderson who hit a grand slam in the seventh inning, breaking things open for the Sox.

With this one in the books we will look forward to the next exhibition game. With each one we get closer to playing meaningful baseball. Mark your calendars for April 5th, the Sox will be in Detroit facing the reigning Cy Young award winner/ AL MVP Justin Verlander. Rough way to start the season but nevertheless I will be bringing you the headlines.

Felix Doubront Drawing Praise in Red Sox Camp

2011 was a lost year for Felix Doubront, the Red Sox prospect who was almost sure to make an impact after getting several looks in 2010. Doubront showed up to Spring Training in 2011 out of shape and battling soreness in his elbow, followed by a groin injury which made his season a forgettable one. Now seemingly healthy, Doubront is looking to move quickly back to the top and possibly claim the fifth spot in the Red Sox starting rotation.

Doubront made his first start on Saturday against the Boston College Eagles, pitching two solid innings allowing just a single while throwing 15 of his 20 pitches for strikes. Even with the outing coming against a team at a much lower level, it didnt go unnoticed. Bobby Valentine said this about the lefty,

"He threw all his pitches extremely well. Seems like he's probably a little ahead of the rest of the pitchers with his command and stuff right now. He's looked that way since he's been here."

The fact that Doubront didnt give up a run in his two innings is encouraging but more so is the 15 out of 20 pitches going for strikes. Spring Training, especially in the first couple weeks is about getting a feel for your mechanics and building strength that will be needed when the season gets started. This time around Felix Doubront is clearly ahead of others.

In 2011 the young left hander was criticized for showing up to camp out of shape, something he seems to have changed this year. The key for this kid will be whether or not he can stay healthy for a full season. If he can do that odds are he will be pitching every fifth day at Fenway Park come April. Adding a productive young lefty to the rotation could be exactly what the Red Sox need to compete in the AL East in 2012.

Yankees Beat Phillies, Red Sox Take on Twins

Part of being a Red Sox fan means keeping as much tabs on the Yankees as we do on our beloved Red Sox. Everything that happens during the Yankees season directly impacts the Sox, which makes it my job to keep you informed.

With that being said, the Yankees played their exhibition opener against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday. The Yankees came away with an 8-5 victory in the game with Curtis Granderson having a homerun and a double. Hunter Pence got the Phillies on the board in the first when he took Ivan Nova deep for a 2-Run HR. Cole Hamels gave up a run in his two innings of work. Fans also got to see the debut of Jonathan Papelbon, former Red Sox closer. Some of you might remember him for allowing the walkoff hit to Baltimores Robert Andino last september, but lets put that behind us. For now anyways.

I wanna talk about Ivan Nova quickly before I move on. Am I the only one that thinks the hype from Girardi and others surrounding the Yankees is a bit unwarranted? He won 16 games as a rookie in 2011, but he never looked like a 16 game winner. His K/9 was a low 5.33 with his groundball ratio sitting at 53.2%. Those stats reflect a pitcher that relied heavily on the defense behind him, which could cause him problems in 2012. With an infield comprised of two aging veterans in Jeter and Rodriguez we could see more of those grounders turn into basehits. (Lets face it Yanks, A-Rod doesnt have much range left) If Nova wants to produce at the Major League level in his sophomore year its going to require some fine tuning. Im sure Nova will win some based solely on the run support he will be given, but will he be as productive as the Yankees are banking on?

The Yankees also sent their two prized pitching prospects to the mound in this one. Manny Banuelos walked a pair in two innings and Dellin Betances walked a pair in just an inning, neither giving up a run.

The Red Sox play their first official Grapefruit League game today against the Twins with Josh Beckett expected to start. Beckett comes into 2012 looking for redemption after a disappointing end to the '11 season followed by embarrasing accusations that he was the ring leader in the "beergate" scandal. Historically Beckett excels in odd numbered years, nobody is sure why, but look for him to change that this year. This will be a make or break year for Josh and the Sox will need him to produce if they want to win the division.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Red Sox Beat BC Eagles by Much Smaller Margin

The Red Sox didnt have such an easy go of it in the nightcap of todays doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College. The Sox won the game 6-3 with Felix Doubront impressive in his two innings, only allowing a hit. Doubront threw 20 pitches, 15 of which were strikes.

Ryan Lavarnway continued to hit the ball well going 2 for 2 with a single and a double.

Junichi Tazawa gave up two runs on four hits in his two innings taking over for Felix Doubront.

Felix Doubront was the biggest winner in this game. He drew praise from Bobby Valentine, with Bobby saying that Felix looks to be ahead of the rest of the pitchers in terms of his control at this point. This outing is only the beginning but if Doubront can build on his success tonight he could end up with the fifth starter spot come Opening Day. I guess we will have to tune in and see where things go from here.

Top Red Sox News For 3/3/12

Here are a few stories for us Red Sox fans to take a look at while we evaluate what todays doubleheader meant to us. 

Red Sox Unload on Northeastern For 25 Runs

Carl Crawford Setback Due to Wrist

Can Salty Take the Heat?

Cody Ross Hits Two Homers in Red Sox Win

Red Sox Unload on Northeastern

It comes as little surprise but its news nonetheless and thats why Im here. The Boston Red Sox beat up on the Northeastern Huskies this afternoon to a tune of 25-0. The doubleheader played annually between the Red Sox and The teams from Northeastern and Boston College arent official Grapefruit League games, but they are the start of the action on a yearly basis. Its something we as fans look forward to just for that reason. Nobody is silly enough to think that the results of these games matter a whole lot but I will give you some of the highlights courtesy of Boston Herald Sports Online.

The biggest story of the game was Cody Ross who had two homers, one of which being a grandslam and both going over the replica green monster in Left. If Fenway plays to Ross' strengths as well as it seems we may have another Kevin Millar or even Jason Bay story on our hands. Both guys made careers out of hitting the ball over the Green Monster.

Ryan Sweeney, Ross' expected counterpart in right field once Carl Crawford gets back, had 4 hits and 5 RBI in the game. One of the hits being a homerun to right field.

Jon Lester pitched two solid innings and allowed just a hit with two strikeouts. Michael Bowden pitched a pair of perfect innings. Justin Germano pitched a pair of solid innings as well, giving up a hit in his first inning and nothing in his second inning.

So as you can see there was alot going on in this game. The 25 runs scored by the Red Sox speaks to that. This game virtually means nothing but it gave Red Sox players a chance to shake the cobwebs and get the adrenaline flowing. The Sox are facing Boston College as I post this so I will get you the scoop on that as soon as its over.

HGH Blood Testing Started, Players React

Ive read a few articles in the past day regarding HGH blood testing, which is officially underway after random testing during spring training and the offseason was agreed upon by the players union. Though I havent heard anything from the Red Sox yet, Im sure we will in the coming days. From what Ive read so far not everyone is fond of the new approach.

Yankees' Phil Hughes reportedly said "Its just like getting blood taken for a physical", but Seattle Mariners' Miguel Olivo had a different experience saying "It's just not right. They took so much blood from me, I almost passed out. Even when I went to eat at night, I threw up."

Most players seem to agree that testing on game days wouldnt be right, which makes sense. In my experience giving blood I can say that it can be painful and I could see it affecting the throwing arm and swinging a bat. So I dont think it would be right to take blood on game days but I really dont see a problem with testing on off days during the season, or possibly during the All-Star Break. Im all for making the game as fair as possible as long as it doesnt interfere with performances. For instance, taking blood from a teams starting pitcher the day hes pitching could have an effect on his performance, which should never happen just for the sake of PED testing.

I think once the kinks are worked out of the new program it will be good for the game. The only fear I have is that MLB is going to take this too far. It seems they are implementing new policies yearly involving PED testing. Im against PED's as much as the next guy but how far will they take this? In January, Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Bautista said he has been tested sixteen times over the two years since his power numbers skyrocketed. I can see where some could be weary but sixteen times? If the guy tests clean ten times in a row maybe its time to cut him some slack and accept that maybe he just excelled once given the opportunity to start.

What do you think about the new testing policy? Is MLB taking it too far? What concerns do you have on the issue? Let me know in the comment section.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Red Sox Will Have Chip on Their Shoulder in 2012

The reputation of the Red Sox took a major blow this offseason when it was reported that their famous collapse in 2011 could be mostly blamed on beer and fried chicken in the clubhouse, and Terry Francona losing focus due to a prescription drug problem. With that being said, could this be a good thing for the Red Sox?

I have posted recently about Red Sox players needing to assume leadership and things of the like, which do need to happen but maybe the best thing for them will be the chip on their shoulders. Never before had a team blown a nine game lead that they had going into September. The media coverage was overwhelming, people wanted answers. Then came that article in mid October of last year. Titled "Inside the Collapse", the article effectively ruined the reputations of several members of the Red Sox including manager Terry Francona.

The main group implicated was Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey. They were the main "culprits" in the "beer-gate"scandal and not many have forgiven them. Ive said a few times lately that I feel this thing was seriously overblown and highly doubt that it had any real impact on the season. Lackey's been ineffective his entire tenure with the Red Sox, Clay Buccholz didnt get his stress facture playing MLB 2K11, and I dont think Terry Franconas "drug abuse" made his pitching staff ineffective. The real problem in September was clearly a lack of depth in Sox starting pitching.

The reason that Im mentioning all of this is to help provide a mental image of exactly what happened, if you dont already know. Now, with that mental image try to imagine yourself in this situation. You would wanna make 2012 a year of reckoning right? I believe the Sox will use 2011 to their advantage. Look for them to take out their anger on the AL East.

Carl Crawford Setback Due to Wrist Inflammation

According to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe, Red Sox leftfielder Carl Crawford has been put on medication and instructed not to take swings today. Crawford had offseason wrist surgery recently and isnt expected to play Opening Day.

According to the article Crawford said the doctor doesnt think its a big set back, more of a precaution. This concerns me though, we all remember Nomar right? Wrist problems derailed his career in no time. Healthy wrists play a huge part in swinging a bat, so hopefully this really is a minor setback. If Crawford misses significant time the rest of Bostons front office may end up apologizing to John Henry.

Lineups Released For Annual College Doubleheader Saturday

The lineups for Saturdays doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College were posted in the clubhouse this morning with a note regarding Texas Independence Day and pointing out the players that were born in Texas. The list was quite long. Here are the lineups.

In the first game against the Northeastern Huskies looks like this, Iglesias SS, Ellsbury CF, Pedroia 2B, Gonzalez 1B, Saltalamacchai C, McDonald DH, Sweeney RF, Ross LF, Middlebrooks 3B, Lester P.

The second game against the BC Eagles will feature this lineup, Aviles SS, Lin CF, Youkilis 3B, Ortiz 1B, Punto 2B, Lavarnway C, Kroeger RF, Hassan DH, Repko LF, Doubront P

If you hadnt noticed Ortiz will be playing first, a position he played twice the entire 2011 season. Other then that it looks as expected. We'll have to wait until tomorrow to see how things go. Ill be waiting patiently to bring the news to you. With my opinion of course.

Boring Day in Red Sox Nation

I dont know about you but I cant wait until April 5th, the day the Red Sox open the season in Detroit. The way its looking it will probably be Jon Lester going up against Justiin Verlander. Things can obviously change from now until then but I hope not. Im anxious to see how the Sox open the season against the reigning AL MVP. Also anxious to see how Prince Fielder fares in Detroit where he signed a monster contract in the offseason.

What Im more curious to see is how the Red Sox lineup shapes up by then. Will Sweeney start in right or will it be Ross? Aviles or Punto at short? Who will play left if Crawford not ready? Will Ellsbury stay in the leadoff spot? I cant wait to see how Bobby Valentine handles these things. We know by now that hes a good talker, but is he as good at managing a Major League team?

I guess Im just excited to get my first season blogging underway. Thinking of things to talk about during the offseason are tough, especially when you want to write articles that will be read. 2012 should bring plenty to talk about so stop by Red Sox News on the Daily! And satisfy your baseball cravings with me. Im really looking forward to my first season blogging, so help make it a good one!! Get involved and lets talk baseball. No more booze and fried chicken, just baseball.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Will Jon Lester Finally Make Leap to Ace Status?

Will 2012 be the year that Jon Lester finally fulfills his ace potential? Red Sox fans have been waiting patiently since he threw a no-hitter in 2007.

Hes had flashes of that no hit stuff on many occasions over the last few years, but hes never been able to sustain it for a full season. Lester's ERA usually hovers in the mid- 3's, never dipping below 3.00 in a full season of work. His 76-34 career record is excellent, and by the end of each year he manages a respectable ERA. He just never seems to make the jump into ace territory.

If you watch him pitch a few times you will quickly figure out a problem he has. His temper. His talent is unquestionable, but he gets inside his head way too often. Some games it may take a homerun and others a call that he doesnt agree with, but you can count on him losing his rythym at some point. It makes a really frustrating game when you know that he has the talent to overmatch any hitter in the game, yet he lets his temper get the best of him and things seem to unravel fast. I can remember watching a game last year against the Blue Jays where he took his head out of the game over a bad call, and ended up getting the hook before the inning was over. Imagine how frustrated I was. Well you probably dont have to, Im sure you have witnessed it as well.

So when does Jon Lester find a way to control himself and let his talent take over? When does he finally make the leap from respectable to the excellence that we all know he is capable of? If its not 2012 the Red Sox will need it to be soon. Hes more than capable, and I believe it will be soon. Lets cross our fingers that 2012 is the year.

Sox Lose "B" Game 6-5 Twins

Its official, the Sox have lost their first game of the season. The Red Sox played a "B" game today against the Minnesota Twins, losing 6-5. The game wasnt originally scheduled but the Red Sox scheduled it to give all of their pitchers adequate work this spring.

Alfredo Aceves started the game, throwing 26 pitches, 17 of which were for strikes. He was followed by Daniel Bard who threw 25 pitches, 15 for strikes. Each gave up a pair of hits and a run in an inning of work, respectively.

Jesse Carlson gave up a two run Home Run.

Ryan Lavarnway hit a Home Run in the first inning, and Jose Iglesias had a single and a walk. Will Middlebrooks had a single, And Nate Spears hit a two run triple.

Thats the wrap up for the most part. Stop back for the next big Red Sox story at Red Sox News on the Daily!

Reports Say Extended Postseason in 2012

Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that MLB is very close to announcing the new 10 team playoff format, effective in 2012.

There has been speculation this offseason that MLB could implement the new playoff format as early as 2012. It looks like it may be 2012 after all.

What does this mean for the Red Sox?

By expanding the playoffs to ten teams, you will now have two wildcard spots in each league. The way this will work appears to be a winner takes all, one game playoff between the two wildcard teams. This format opens the door for possibly a third place team in their respective division to advance to the ALDS.

The thing that I like personally is the emphasis that it will put on winning the division to avoid the one game playoff. Any baseball fan knows that anything can happen in a single game. Teams will be forced to fight tooth and nail to win their division. Another possibility would be a one game playoff between the Red Sox and Yankees. Could it get any better?

There is a downside in my opinion. Placing the fate of two teams into a single game seems silly. Maybe a three game series? It would seem more fair, but its looking like it will be a single game for now. The problem I have is this, baseball is not football. They are nothing alike. In football you can have a one game playoff. In baseball it shouldnt even be considered. Baseball is a game of averages, which plays well in 162 games. More times than not in a five or seven game series the better team will come out on top. Is that going to happen with a single game? Even the Astros can beat a first place team in a single game. That doesnt mean they belong in the playoffs.

Tell me what you think. Do you like the new playoff format?

Who Will Take Over For Jonathan Papelbon?

Back in November new General Manager Ben Cherington and the Red Sox waved goodbye to perhaps the best closer to wear their uniform. Papelbon signed a four year deal worth 50 Million dollars with the Philadelphia Phillies early in the offseason.

Ben Cherington had said that the Red Sox would like to keep him around, but it was unlikely at that price. Not many teams would be willing to pay that kind of money for a closer, even one of Papelbon's calibur. Paying that kind of money for a reliever is risky, if not down right crazy. ( Bobby Jenks may have helped them with their decision.)

So instead of forking over the 12+ mil a year that Papelbon got, Cherington aquired Andrew Bailey from the A's and then settled on a deal worth just under 4 mil for one year. Cherington also aquired Mark Melancon from the Astros for productive, but often injured Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland. Melancon is under team control until 2016, making this a very good trade for the Sox. How will these two affect the Red Sox bullpen in 2012? Lets take a look at 2011.

Lets first look at the presumed replacement for Jonathan Papelbon.
When the Red Sox aquired Mark Melancon and announced that Daniel Bard would compete for a spot in the rotation, Melancon was expected to take over the role. Then Cherington aquired Andrew Bailey. A closer with a little more experience but only pitched 41.2 Innings in 2011.

Bailey was Rookie of the Year in 2009, when he made the Opening Day roster with the Oakland A's. He finished 2009 with 26 Saves and a 1.84 ERA. 2010 was another great season for Bailey, statistically as he finished with 25 Saves, and a 1.47 ERA in 49 IP and made the All Star Game for the second time. Bailey spent time on the DL in 2010 with elbow problems and had a minor surgery after the season.

As I pointed out, Bailey has spent time injured two seasons in a row while barely getting over 40 IP in each season. So what we have is a young pitcher with incredible talent when healthy but a question mark as to whether or not he can stay healthy. 2009 was the only season he had pitched without a stint on the DL. Can he stay healthy in Boston? Only time will tell.

Now lets examine Mark Melancon. Melancon made his Major League debut in 2009 against the Red Sox, pitching a pair of scoreless innings before being optioned back to AAA and then recalled later in the season. He was traded to the Astros in 2010 and finished the season with a 4.22 ERA in 22.1 IP. 2011 was Melancons breakout season. He was put into the Closer spot where he thrived, finishing the season with an ERA of 2.78 and 20 Saves on a horrendous Astros team.

It seems at this point that the closers role in Boston will be given to Andrew Bailey to start the season. Dont be suprised if things look a little different down the road. If Andrew Bailey gets injured or underperforms we can expect Melancon to get his chancr to be the Red Sox closer.

News For The Day 3/1/12

As you look at the date in the title, get excited! Barely over a month and we will have a reason to roll out of bed again! Opening Day, April 5th in Detroit. You wont miss a bit of action if you follow Red Sox News on The Daily!

Heres the news for the day.

Luke Scott Calls Red Sox Fans Arrogant, Vulgar

Kalish Making Progress, Resumes Throwing

Sox Pitchers Working on Their Gloves

Alex Wilson Aiming For Spot in Rotation

As you can see its not the most exciting day for Sox fans, but Im commited to bringing the latest headlines to my readers. So here they are. Enjoy!

Just Another Day in Red Sox Nation

Theres not really alot to talk about today in Red Sox Nation. Im sure that will change after 1 pm, when the Red Sox officially start playing baseball again. The Sox are set to take on the Minnesota Twins in a "B" game this afternoon, with Daniel Bard getting the start and some of Bostons top prospects slated for the game.

This may not seem exciting, but if you are as tired of hearing about beer and fried chicken as I am, you should be excited. This game may actually give reporters something productive to talk about. Hopefully.

Even though this game in reality means nothing, it signifies the start of a new chapter. A chance to turn the page completely on 2011. Once 2012 gets rolling we should see the articles regarding 2011s collapse fade away. With reporters finally having something better to talk to about. Until September anyways. If the Sox have any kind of lead going into September, expect to see more then a few references to 2011. Whatever sells newspapers I suppose.

Dont expect to see the same results in 2012 as we witnessed in 2011 though. Bobby V will make sure of that. This Spring Training seems to be a camp on getting back to fundamentals and honing basic baseball skills. Which seems to be the best direction to go with this team. I respect Tito for the Championships he gave us, but in his final seasons he seemed a little lost. Bobby Valentine, who sometimes resembles the Energizer bunny, knows exactly which direction he wants to take this team.

Im gonna end this now because at this point Im rambling my random thoughts on the season. But hey, what else is there to say on March 1st? Hopefully we will have a little more to talk about after 1 pm today. I'll be waiting patiently to offer up my opinion, count on it.