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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, 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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Jon Lester Can't Contain Youkilis, White Sox

Kevin Youkilis tortured his former teammate Jon Lester last night at Fenway Park, launching a three-run blast (his eighth of the season) off the southpaw to lead the White Sox past their red counterparts in the second game of this four game set.

The transformation of Youk's play since being traded to Chicago has been absolutely stunning and just goes to show that chemistry inside a major league clubhouse is not meaningless, despite what some would like you to believe.

Most of Lester's problems Tuesday night stemmed from poor control as the lefty threw 27 pitches while allowing a pair of runs in the first inning. It was the same version of Jon Lester that we have seen for the most part of this season. The one that gets crushed by good offenses and works semi-magic against lowly hitting teams. Whatever the problem may be, it's not good for the Red Sox who need him to be dominant in order to achieve their goals.

It wasn't all bad for Boston though. In his second game this season, Carl Crawford picked up three singles, an RBI and three stolen bases. Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits in the game as well as a stolen base, his first of the year.

Adrian Gonzalez and Will Middlebrooks each picked up an RBI-single in the game and Kelly Shoppach hit a two-run bomb while batting in place of Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the eighth inning. None of it was enough to earn Boston a win though, as Kevin Youkilis made sure of that. There Bobby, chew on that.

Junichi Tazawa relieved Lester after the fourth inning, putting together four of his own, allowing four hits and one earned run to save Boston's bullpen from a mess in the coming days. His ERA with the Red Sox this year is .84 in limited innings.

After starting five games for the Red Sox, and pitching admirably, Franklin Morales was moved back to the bullpen where he made an appearance Tuesday. The southpaw pitched a perfect inning to lower his ERA to 3.10 on the season.

Boston will look to take the final two games of this series, starting tonight with Felix Doubront facing Pedro Hernandez. Maybe Doubront should be a bit more careful with former teammate Kevin Youkilis than Lester was.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

For Once in 2012, Red Sox Get Good News

Before I type perhaps the most important words spoke this season, let me apologize for the lack of activity over the last several days. Things have been tough and aside from baseball, life will be life. Today in the world that is Boston baseball, life got just a little better for the Red Sox due to the revelation that David Ortiz is not likely to become the most vital member of the team to hit the disabled list this season.

There's a but though. Big Papi, after learning through an MRI today that his Achilles is not strained or ruptured, will get a second opinion on Wednesday and make the final decision as to whether he should take the trip that several of his teammates have unfortunately taken this season. As of right now, he doesn't expect that to be the case, saying that a weeks absence is the most likely scenario.

Missing their most consistent slugger this season for a week will test the Red Sox' will power like no other injury has this season, but the horizon does hold hope. It could have been much worse. Ortiz could have ended his season, much like Ryan Howard did in the playoffs last year, which would have spelled doom for Boston.

As for right now, Bobby Valentine will likely use the freed-up designated hitter spot to rest his recently returned outfielders such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and play Daniel Nava whose playing time has been crunched due to the returns of both "star" players.

As soon as we receive any new updates on the injury to David Orriz, we will surely bring you them here. Right now things look positive, but the way 2012 has played out, cross your fingers and prey to the mighty lord that nothing unexpected pops up.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

How The Tables Have Turned on Youkilis Trade

CHICAGO, IL- JULY 3:  Kevin Youkilis #20 of th...
CHICAGO, IL- JULY 3: Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Chicago White Sox rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run scoring teammate Alejandro De Aza #30 during the first inning against the Texas Rangers on July 3, 2012 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
On Sunday, Kevin Youkilis sent a heartfelt letter to all of Red Sox Nation through, thanking them for support and reiterating how blessed he was to play and learn in the Boston organization. After reading the letter and reading the many fans comments underneath it, I realized how much the tables have turned since his being traded to the White Sox.

When Ben Cherington was secretly shopping the 33 year old third baseman and Will Middlebrooks was raking, the consensus was Youk needed to be traded in order for the rookie to flourish and for the veteran to get a chance to play and get his career back on track. Now that he's gone and he is producing in Chicago, there are a good number of fans bitter about the deal that sent him away.

Some of the vitriol aimed mostly toward Bobby Valentine is expected, but it's not really warranted. Youkilis was not going to produce here in Boston and Valentine was not the only reason for that. There were many, dating back to September's collapse and the beer and chicken story.

There were reports of disconnect's between Youkilis and Josh Beckett regarding the source for the Bob Hohler story that the infielder didn't exactly deny back when the media approached him about the issue. Bobby V or no Bobby V, Kevin Youkilis' productive years in Boston were probably coming to a close.

Obviously, the issue with the manager early this season didn't help anything. When your skipper questions how committed you are to the game, it doesn't exactly do wonders for motivation, but the situation here seemed to have soured even before Bobby entered the picture. His presence just stirred the pot.

It was inevitable that fans would turn their frustrations somewhere if Youkilis went to Chicago and revived his career with the White Sox, which is exactly what he's done in the short period since the trade. It didn't help that Middlebrooks ended up fighting a hamstring issue that landed him on the DL shortly after the deal. It was one of those things that always seems to happen on occasion.

Middlebrooks is back to action though, and he had a pair of hits yesterday as well as a homer on Saturday, so the vitriol should be deflected for a bit. The fact that Youk is hitting .333 in July (13-39) with 3 HR and 12 RBI makes it a perfect situation to bag the Red Sox, but it wasn't going to happen here.

Will Middlebrooks is the future at third base. We've seen it for the most part of this season. The tables have turned for the moment and Youkilis is making it look like a bad trade, but it was the right thing to do. Blame Bobby V if you'd like, I agree he ran him out of town early, but just remember it was bound to happen eventually.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Scott Atchison to DL, Junichi Tazawa Recalled

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 26:  Relief pitcher Junich...
The Red Sox were forced to place reliever Scott Atchison on the disabled list with a strained forearm. Junichi Tazawa was recalled from AAA Pawtucket.  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
The Red Sox made a move this afternoon, placing right-handed reliever Scott Atchison on the disabled list with "tightness in his forearm", according to ESPN's Gordon Edes.

Taking his place will be Japanese minor-leaguer Junichi Tazawa in his second stint with the Red Sox this season, after having a successful first half with the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Some believed Atchison has pitched to an All Star level this season, but his role as a middle reliever, for the most part, prevented the 36 year olds name from being mentioned in consideration for the team. He's put up a 1.76 ERA in 46 IP out of the bullpen this season, which is second most in the American League.

Tazawa pitched in five games earlier this season for the Red Sox without allowing a run in 6 1/3 IP, while picking up a save. The 26 year old has been great at AAA as well, posting a 2.55 ERA in 25 games (42 1/3 IP). Whether he can continue to be dependable at the major league level will be determined.

Bobby Valentine will miss Atchison as he has relied heavily on the reliever this season, but hopefully the forearm injury will be minor. According to the Boston Herald, the strain may have occurred against the Yankees before the break when Atch threw 40 pitches out of the 'pen.

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Buchholz, Red Sox Can't Get Past Price in 5-3 Loss

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 14:  Outfielder B. J...
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 14: Outfielder B. J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays homers in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox July 14, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox were bested by David Price on Saturday night, but there were encouraging signs everywhere for Boston in the contest. Pitching for the first time since being hospitalized with gastrointestinal bleeding, the Sox starter notched 8 K's in 6 1/3 IP, but Tampa's lefty was just a bit better.

Going for his 12th win on the season, Price also picked up eight punch-outs, allowing 6 H, 3 ER, and 3 BB as well to even up the series at a game a piece between the division rivals.

In his second game since being activated from the disabled list, Jacoby Ellsbury picked up a pair of hits in four at-bats, one of them a double, raising his average on the season to .229.

Also in his second game since being activated, Will Middlebrooks picked up his 11th HR in just 179 at-bats this season. It was a two-run shot gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth.

Mike Aviles, who went 2-4 in the game, allowed the Rays to tie it up in the fifth when he made an error that allowed Jeff Keppinger to score. The Red Sox would waste no time jumping back in front though, scoring their third run in the sixth on a botched pick-off attempt by David Price.

The seventh inning is where the game was lost for the Red Sox. Buchholz opened the inning by walking Luke Scott and allowing Keppinger to reach on a HBP. Both runners were advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Desmond Jennings, which ended Clay's outing in favor of Matt Albers.

After intentionally walking Hideki Matsui, Albers walked in the tying run and gave up a sac-fly to Elliot Johnson for the go-ahead run. Boston was never able to get back into it after that. BJ Upton hit a solo-homer off Andrew Miller in the eighth to give the Rays an insurance run that they wouldn't need.

Fernando Rodney put up a clean ninth inning, with a pair of strikeouts for his 26th save of the season. His ERA sits at a ridiculous 0.91 on the season. Whatever effect the crooked hat has on his pitches apparently works. Maybe the Red Sox should try it.

Boston will put Josh Beckett (4.43 ERA) up against James Shields (4.17 ERA) in the final game of the series Sunday night before heading to Chicago to face Kevin Youkilis and the AL Central leading White Sox.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Morales Helps Red Sox Start Second Half on Right Foot

ST PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 13:  Franklin Morales...
ST PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 13: Franklin Morales #46 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on July 13, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
For all of the talk about the struggling Red Sox during the break, there was no such thing on Friday night as Boston got good pitching from Franklin Morales and an offensive boost from Pedro Ciriaco to get past Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays.

Hellickson was good, as he usually is against the Red Sox, but Franklin Morales bounced back from a disaster start against the Yankees to limit Tampa Bay to just two hits over five innings, with three walks, picking up his second win of the season.

David Ortiz jumped on the youngster Hellickson early, launching his 23rd bomb of the year in the first inning to put the Sox out in front, where they would stay for the entire game.

Boston picked up two more in the top second when Pedro Ciriaco hit a bases-loaded single off Hellickson. The fill-in second baseman was 3-3 on the night, hitting in the nine spot. His average since joining the Red Sox is .625.

The lone run scored by the Rays came off Scott Atchison in the sixth inning. Ben Zobrist reached and went to second on a throwing error by Mike Aviles to start the frame. After Atch retired the next two batters, Sean Rodriguez ripped a double to left to put Tampa on the board.

That was all the Rays would muster off Boston's bullpen though. Matt Albers, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves combined for 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief to put it in the books and get the Red Sox off to a good start in the second half.

Saturday night, Clay Buchholz will make his return from the disabled list with gastrointestinal bleeding that hospitalized him for a period of time. If the Red Sox expect to make some noise in the division, he'd better be up to the task. Starting pitching, like Friday's, will be the key to a turnaround this season.

Carl Crawford is expected to be activated Monday after playing with Pawtucket this weekend. The left fielder has battled multiple injuries this season while trying to make a return from wrist surgery. He has yet to play an inning at the major league level this season.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Will "The Cavalry" Help Lead Red Sox to October Baseball?

BOSTON, MA - JULY 09: Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of th...
There's no doubt Jacoby Ellsbury is a game-changer, but can his and others' presence lead the Red Sox to October baseball? (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Because of the way this season has played out in the first half, we have been forced to place every ounce of our hope on "the cavalry" returning, as Bobby Valentine likes to call it. The return of prominent Red Sox players begins tonight in Tampa Bay when Jacoby Ellsbury makes his way into the lineup for just the eighth time in 87 games this season, but will his return and others be enough to carry Boston to relevance in the second half?

According to Gordon Edes' story this morning, Boston has used the disabled list 23 times for 20 players in this disastrous season. With that amount of players suffering injuries, it's no surprise that the Red Sox have struggled to gain anything in the way of consistency. At this point, with less than half the season remaining, is there still time to march back up the AL East ranks with some fresh returning faces?

Obviously, if Jacoby Ellsbury returns to the MVP caliber player we had the pleasure of watching last season, Boston's lineup will be in much better shape than it has been to date. A dynamic leadoff hitter of his abilities can completely transform a teams offense. We saw how the run-producers carried the way at times last season, so can they do it again?

In order for Boston to win 90 games, they must play to a 47-29 record the rest of the way. That's a .617 winning percentage, .117 points higher than they have played through the first 86 games of the season. Is it possible? Of course. Likely? I'm not so sure. Can you see this team right now winning 3 out of every 5 games for the rest of the year?

The offense has help on the way with Ells and eventually Dustin Pedroia and possibly Carl Crawford (I know, we're speaking theoretically), but can the bats overcome the increasingly mediocre starting pitching employed by the Red Sox thus far?

Clay Buchholz is set to return this week, but he didn't make a huge effect on the team while he was healthy and we know he's a slow starter, so it may take him a couple to get to form. Boston doesn't have a couple starts, the time for patience has passed. The only way the Red Sox make the postseason is if good things happen now.

Winning 90 games should be enough to get the Sox a playoff spot, but it's far from a realistic expectation with the way this team has played. The cavalry can only do so much before the guys that have been around have to step up and be productive.

Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz will have a profound effect on the success in the second half. Returning players like Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Andrew Bailey will help improve areas that have been lacking, but there is no help on the way for starting pitching and that's where this season will be won or lost.

I'll continue to root for the Red Sox, win, lose or draw, but my expectations for this season are realistic. I have a hard time picturing a run at the postseason with the dynamic of issues surrounding the team. The cavalry should help the Sox play good ball for the remainder, but don't expect them to carry the team to October baseball.

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Red Sox Must Acknowledge Problems Internally, Work to Fix Them

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 18:  Bobby Valentine #25 of...
Bobby Valentine has been at the center of media report's of "dissension" in the Red Sox organization since he began as manager of the team.  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
This morning, as has been the theme lately, more reports of "internal issue" with the Red Sox were publicized by ESPN's Gordon Edes. Much like his co-worker Buster Olney a while back, Edes painted a picture of severe communication issues in Boston's clubhouse, with many levels of the organization suffering from the problem.

Of course, Bobby Valentine and others entrenched in the problem deny that there is any real disconnect and as Edes points out, overblown is a commonly used word when referring to the situation. With each report though, and each writer that speaks of this, it becomes just a bit more clear to me that this really is a big deal for the team.

When the Olney story came out, I was one of the first to completely blast him for it. At the time, we knew there were struggles internally, but I know I wasn't ready to believe they were to blame for much of the on-field issues plaguing the Red Sox. It may be time to wake up and realize that this is a big deal and because of it, Boston will miss the postseason once again this year.

Maybe I'm jumping the gun a little here, but I don't think so. Is it crazy to think that these things could have a large impact on how grown men go about their business? Read the story from Edes and you will see what I'm talking about.

One of the things implied by the writer has to do with the pitching coach situation. Bob McClure and Valentine don't quite see eye to eye and rarely communicate. Any chance that has something to do with the horrid pitching put on display by the Red Sox this season? It probably doesn't help that Randy Niemann is in the picture as well. Think McClure would acknowledge that he needs an assistant?

It's obvious, at this point, that Boston has many issues on and off the field, but who takes the blame, if there is any? Is Bobby V doing something wrong, or was he just thrown into the fire?

The manager was brought on to help the situation, but wasn't he set up to fail with this team? If you look at the way Tito was treated last season, did anyone expect that Valentine was going to make these grown men act the part?

It's my belief that this season is for the most part a semi-bridge year. Bobby Valentine was brought in to take the attention off that. Wonder why Ben Cherington didn't open the wallet? It was partly the luxury tax threshold, like he said, but he also knew this team had too many issues to fix via free agency.

So instead of trying, he put together a team that should have been competitive, while not quite good enough, so the Red Sox could say they tried. Instead, this is what we got and that's fine. I've been in favor of a bridge year, but just come out and say so. It will go a long way with the fans, especially those with any common sense.

Instead of dragging every level of the organization through the mud, just end all of this internal issues talk and go public with it. Tell the fan-base there are problems that will be fixed by next season. It's my belief that such a statement would go a long way with the true fans of the Boston Red Sox.

This season is probably the source of massive ulcers in Ben Cherington's stomach, but he has to work past it. The way he treats this season will define his tenure as general manager, I've said it before. Let's see if Theo's successor can paint a better long-term outlook than he did before escaping the reigns of the three headed monster.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Does Jon Lester-Cole Hamels Deal Make Sense For Red Sox?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15:  Jon Lester #31 of the ...
Jon Lester's season has been a large disappointment to this point, but would a trade for Cole Hamels from the Phillies make any sense at all?  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
This morning a fellow Red Sox fan brought up a trade rumor he had apparently discovered via Twitter. The proposed deal was Jon Lester for Cole Hamels and conveniently it came after Peter Gammons reported that Lester is "deeply unhappy" in Boston. It's an easy trade to ponder, but does make a bit of sense for the Sox, or either side?

Jon Lester has been a massive disappointment this season, easily in the midst of the worst stretch of his career in the major leagues, but does that mean the Red Sox should trade off his relatively team friendly contract for a rental that would need a new contract to stay in Boston after this season?

Sure, the Phillies would likely jump all over this deal. They're in last place just like the Red Sox and would be able to pick up an established big league starter with 1-2 potential for a player likely to walk after this campaign. What's not to love about it if you're Ruben Amaro Jr.?

Not only would the Phillies pick up a major league ready starter to replace Hamels immediately in their rotation, they get him at a very discounted rate. In total, Lester's deal--signed before the '09 season--was just $30 million over five years, with a $13 million team option for a sixth year in 2014.

Cole Hamels on the other hand would wear a Red Sox uniform for the remainder of this season and walk via free agency. He's not going to get what he's looking for from Ben Cherington and the Sox. Is it worth it to rent him for the rest of a season in which Boston sits 10 games back in the division?

Oh and here's something else to think about. Is Cole Hamel's the type of immediate impact-pitcher that can flip the switch on this dim season? He's 10-4 with a 3.20 ERA for Philadelphia this year, but if his presence isn't enough to carry the Sox into contention, why bother?

If the Red Sox intend to trade Jon Lester, which I'm not opposed to, it needs to be under the right circumstances. Lester-Hamels is not the right scenario for Boston. If I trade him, it's to somehow acquire a front-line starter under team control for a few years at a decent price. Not for a guy that's going to walk in two months.

This trade rumor likely has no traction and is just that, a rumor. It's the kind of thing that we see when the Red Sox are at .500 during the All Star break and 10 games out of relevance. I highly doubt that Ben Cherington would even take the phone call if it was made. Well, at least I hope not. Either way, don't expect to see a new southpaw at the front of Boston's rotation come July 31, unless of course Philly's willing to throw Cliff Lee in a two-for-one deal.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sandoval, Cabrera Lead NL to Rout of AL in MLB All Star Game

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 10:  National League Al...
KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 10: National League All-Star Melky Cabrera #53 of the San Francisco Giants attempts to give a five to American League All-Star Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees after Cabrera hits a two-run home run in the fourth inning during the 83rd MLB All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium on July 10, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Image credit: Getty Images via @dayli
The result of last nights MLB All Star Game gave the Red Sox one more disadvantage, if say, they got it together and made an unlikely run at the World Series. Justin Verlander, the reigning Cy Young and MVP Award winner, was tagged for 5 ER in just 1 IP to give the National League home-field advantage in the Fall Classic.

Ryan Braun, the reigning NL MVP, and Melky Cabrera were the stars for the senior circuit, each going 2-3 with a combined 3 RBI's to lead the rout. For the third year in a row, the American League was downed by the opposition.

Pablo Sandoval had just one hit, but it proved the biggest one, a bases-loaded triple in the first inning off Verlander. Between him and the previously mentioned slugger's, they accounted for six of the eight runs scored in the game. Dan Uggla and Matt Holliday each picked up an RBI as well to put the bag over the AL's head.

David Ortiz, the lone member of the Red Sox on the team, went 1-2 with a single, but was unable to do any real damage as part of an impotent six-hit attack from the AL.

Matt Cain pitched the first two innings, allowing just a hit, and was followed by ten other pitchers from the NL that put together an 11-pitcher combined shutout of the AL team.

Matt Harrison pitched the fourth inning for the AL and allowed the RBI-single to Matt Holliday and a two-run bomb to Melky Cabrera. The game was scoreless the rest of the way, but the offense could do nothing against the stellar NL pitching.

With the All Star game in the books, we wait until Friday when the Red Sox head over to St. Pete to face the Rays and hopefully start their comeback tour. Even if the postseason is out of reach this season, it would be encouraging to see the Sox finish strong instead of fall apart like last season. At least then we can have a glimmer of hope that things will be better next season.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Should Carl Crawford Bite The Bullet, Have TJ Surgery?

BOSTON, MA - MAY 20:  Carl Crawford #13 of the...
Having recently stated that his elbow could blow out at any time, would it be in the Red Sox best interest for Carl Crawford to have tommy john surgery now?  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Carl Crawford's sophomore season has been as much or more of a disaster than his freshman. The only upside may be the fact that he's yet to swing his bat in a game at Fenway Park this season. There's optimism that he can turn it around when he returns, but when exactly will that be? He's earned over $20 million this season and hasn't played a game past AAA.

Crawford recently stated that his ailing left elbow "could blow out at any time". If that doesn't instill confidence, I don't know what will. Since his rehab was reset and he's required to sit for seven days, it's not expected that he will return until the end of July, leaving just August, September and hopefully October. That's if his elbow doesn't fall apart the way his bat did last season.

Since he hasn't contributed a lick this season and there's zero chance that he will earn a quarter of his $20 mil, wouldn't it be smarter for the Red Sox to shut him down and focus on finally getting a full season of return from the former star outfielder?

If there was a great chance the Sox were headed for the October dance, and there was a gaping hole in left field, then maybe it would be worth getting Crawford back and setting a date for Tommy John surgery during the offseason. Even in that scenario though, it would be iffy.

Is it worth losing a chunk of next season, when the Red Sox may be in a better position to contend, just to have him for the final two months of a season in which Boston is 9.5 games out of first place? There's a chance the wild card can be had, but is Carl Crawford going to have a profound effect on that?

If he's willing to admit, on multiple occasions, that his elbow is a liability, it's obviously a problem that needs to be fixed. I'm not a fan of risking the entire '13 season for the final months of this less than ideal '12 season. Do the surgery, get back as soon as possible next season and try to get back to the game-changer he once was in his St. Pete days.
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Red Sox Head to Break With Too Many Question Marks

BOSTON, MA - MAY 02:  Carl Crawford #13 of the...
One of the many question marks for the Red Sox after the break revolves around Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford. What will Boston receive from the outfield duo?  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
The Red Sox head into the All Star break having lost three of four to the division rival Yankees and five of six total on the season. After another loss on Sunday to conclude the "first half", Boston sits at dead even with many question marks surrounding the second half of the season.

This team has easily been the most inconsistent I've watched in years. Maybe it's sad to say, but the days of consistent losing were perhaps better because you knew what to expect on a given night. Since the '04 and '07 seasons though, that kind of season is unacceptable and rightly so.

In a Market like Boston, with a payroll that's higher than any other not named the Yankees, expectations are high and that's the understatement of the decade. People expect to win here and anything other than a playoff push is considered an utter disaster. At the mid-point, this group defines the phrase and the question marks in the second half run aplenty.

Can Jon Lester, whose consistency has been coveted by the Red Sox since he came onto the scene, regain his form and give the team a chance to win every time he goes out like they have grown accustomed to? If not, expect the Sox to remain a mediocre team.

Josh Beckett has recently battled a shoulder issue and he looked horrendous last time out. Can he battle through the season and give a quality start every fifth day? He's been good at times, but others he's looked nothing more than a fifth starter on a .500 team.

When Jacoby Ellsbury finally returns to action, after being sidelined since April 13, can he provide the offense a much-needed spark or will the time away from the game prove to be an obstacle that takes time to work through? He's a vital part of any chance this team has of re-grouping and chasing down the Yankees, but he as well, is a question mark at this point.

The questions keep coming, seemingly never-ending with this team. Carl Crawford admitted his elbow could "blow out" at any time. Does that make you comfortable that he can get back this season and give the Red Sox some return on that disaster of a contract?

Clay Buchholz is recovering from gastrointestinal bleeding and is expected to resume after the break. Will he be the guy pitching to a sub-2.00 ERA when he returns? Or the guy that takes forever to get warm and in the meantime allows nine runs per nine innings?

What about that other vital part of the team? The guy named Dustin Pedroia, the spark plug for the offense. From a team noted for downplaying injuries, one has to wonder just how severe this thumb thing is, and how long it will keep one of the best defensive second baseman sidelined.

Are you catching my drift here? This team is much worse off now than they were heading into the season with September fresh on the mind. The second half is like a visually impaired person piecing together a puzzle. The pieces must fall exactly into place or there's no hope of figuring out the entire thing.

I still have hope, only because that's what fans do, but it isn't exactly an overwhelming sense that things will go right. If they do, I can say I told you so, and if they don't, I can pride myself on having believed until the end. This season, that may be the only win-win.
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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ben Cherington Will Define His Tenure as Red Sox GM at 2012 Trade De adline

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 25:  Newly named Executiv...
The stance taken by Red Sox GM Ben Cherington at 2012's non-waiver trade deadline will have a big impact on the rest of his tenure.  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Typically there are two stances a baseball team can take at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The general manager is faced with the decision of whether his team is in contention and therefore buyers, or if they're planning on an early vacation, chances are certain players can be had for the right price.

The 2012 deadline has become a bit more complicated due to the addition of a second wild card in each league, meaning far more teams can realistically consider themselves in the race for the playoffs. More teams in contention equals more buyers. This new format could work in the Red Sox favor this season.

After splitting a day/night double header with the Yankees on Saturday, the Red Sox are now just one game over .500 and 8.5 games out in the AL East with one to play before the All Star break. It's a hard thing to admit if you're a fan, but this team, the way it stands, is going nowhere in a hurry.

Red Sox-Yankees Split Day/Night Double Header

BOSTON, MA - JULY 7: Pedro Ciriaco #77 of the ...
BOSTON, MA - JULY 7: Pedro Ciriaco #77 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates with Daniel Nava #66 of the Boston Red Sox after scoring a run in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees during the second game of a doubleheader at Fenway Park July 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
After dropping the first two to the Yankees, Boston was able to salvage the night game of a double header on Saturday, beating New York 9-5 on the strength of Pedro Ciriaco's 4-5, 4 RBI night in his second game with the Red Sox.

The Yankees scored 11 runs total on the day, all coming via the long-ball, with Andruw Jones accounting for three of them, all solo shots. New York hit seven homers off Red Sox pitching on the day.

Four of those came off lefty Franklin Morales who had been stellar in his previous starts against the National League, but was unable to get out of the fourth inning in the afternoon game of the double header. He gave up 6 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, with 2 K in just 3 1/3 IP against the homer-happy Yankees.

After Morales was removed, newly added Justin Germano came in and pitched 5 2/3 innings of relief, allowing 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB with 7 K to finish up the game and save the Red Sox from a complete disaster in game two. You could realistically say he won the second game for the Sox by saving the bullpen.

In game two, the Yankees again jumped out to a lead in the first inning with Mark Teixeira hitting a three-run shot off Felix Doubront, but the lefty was able to settle in and give the Red Sox an opportunity to score some runs. He went 6 1/3 IP, allowing 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB with 6 K.

Pedro Ciriaco, playing in his second game with the Sox, drove in four of the Sox' nine runs with two doubles and a single, one of the doubles coming in the sixth with the bases juiced.

Adrian Gonzalez picked up three hits (two doubles) to raise his average on the season to .284. The homerun power is still non-existent, but he's showing signs of a turn around with the bat. If the Red Sox do anything this season, they need him to perform.

Nick Punto, Ryan Sweeney and Mauro Gomez each had an RBI as well to help lead the Red Sox to a 9-5 victory in game two. Gomez had three hits in the game (2 doubles), he has a .421 BA since joining the Sox.

The Red Sox will look to split the four game set tonight with Ivan Nova facing Jon Lester. Sad fact of the day? Nova's ERA is almost .30 points lower than Lester's at 4.05 compared to 4.33. If the Sox are to walk away with a win tonight, they need the Lester of old, end of story.

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pitching Fails Miserably in Red Sox Loss to Yankees

BOSTON, MA - JULY 06:  Hiroki Kuroda #18 of th...
Hiroki Kuroda #18 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the game on July 6, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
When I say the pitching failed miserably last night, it wasn't just the Red Sox. Josh Beckett and Hiroki Kuroda were equally ineffective in a high-output game that came down to a battle of the bullpens. Unfortunately, the Yankees, led by Mark Teixeira, came out on top.

There were 18 runs scored in the contest and 10 of those came before the second inning began. Josh Beckett looked awful against a competent team, battling command issues with all of his pitches in the first. The Yankees took advantage and tagged him for 5 earnies, seemingly putting the Red Sox in a deep hole early.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Kuroda was equally as bad. Ryan Kalish put the first run on the board with a sac-fly and Adrian Gonzalez followed with an RBI double off the monster in left to make it 5-2.

With Cody Ross and A-Gon on base, All Star snub Jarrod Saltalamacchia came through for another big homerun, a 3-run shot to make it a brand new ball game.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Red Sox Need to Intensify Rivalry With Yankees

Long-time Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martíne...
Back when Pedro Martinez pitched for the Red Sox, the "best rivalry in sports" was in its prime. Boston needs to find a way to get back to that.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tonight when the Red Sox come back to Fenway Park and take on their "rivals", the Yankees, it will be the start of the most important part of this 2012 season. With 61 of their final games to be played against teams over .500, we will soon find out what this group is made of.

Perhaps the most important thing for the remainder of this season would be intensifying the "rivalry" that once existed, but has sadly disappeared over the last several seasons.

The days of mitt-punches, brush-up's and benches clearing brawls have faded as quickly as the happiness from that last World Series title. The only battles the two teams engage in at this point are purely baseball related, which as we know, is a far-shot from what it once was.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dustin Pedroia to be Placed on 15-day DL

BOSTON, MA - MAY 28:  Dustin Pedroia #15 of th...
BOSTON, MA - MAY 28: Dustin Pedroia #15 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park May 28, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. Pedroia later left the game with an injury to his left thumb. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
"Dustin Pedroia is headed to the 15-day disabled list, according to a major league source". That was tweeted by The Boston Herald's Scott Lauber this afternoon. The move will come after Pedroia re-aggravated a torn abductor muscle in his thumb, sustained in the final days of May.

The Sox second baseman has already missed several games with the nagging injury and his play seems to have declined quite dramatically since jamming the thumb. Some, including myself, expected the Red Sox to make this move after the initial injury. This is now the third time he's had an issue with it.

We love Dustin Pedroia for his all or nothing style of play and passion for the game, but this was one of those instances he never should have had control over. It would have been better for the team if this were sorted in the beginning of June, instead of July with a tough schedule ahead.

As far as I know, a counter-move has not been reported yet. With the versatility of Brent Lillibridge and Nick Punto's ability to play second, the Red Sox may use the roster spot to fill another need for this weekends series against the Yankees. Perhaps another reliever.

Either way, the Red Sox should count their lucky stars if Pedey comes back on or around the 15 day mark as expected. Not sitting him after the first, or even second instance, was foolish and may have cost them arguably their best player when he's healthy. As soon as we know more details, you can find it here.

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