July 31, 2008

Jason Bay To Red Sox As Manny Dealt To Dodgers

According to the Globe:
Boston gets Jason Bay from Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh gets Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss from Boston and 3B Andy LaRoche and AA pitcher Bryan Morris from Los Angeles.

Los Angeles gets Manny Ramirez from Boston.

Deadline Day

We're out with the dogs for the day. SoSH will have snips of, and links to, every single tidbit posted about the Red Sox today (newest Manny stuff is here for now; non-Sox matters are here).

Something Else #15: The December Sound


I learned recently that a JoS reader is in a band known as The December Sound (myspace). This person was kind enough to mail me a copy of the band's debut CD. I was quite impressed, so I'm featuring them on this off-day.

The December Sound released three EPs before this 13-song eponymous CD (also known as "The Silver Album"), which took about two years to complete and hit stores last year. The Boston Globe wrote about the band in November 2007.

Here is some of what has already been written about them:
"The nastiest, noisiest noise we've heard for a while ... intoxicating blend of noise and melody ... Buzzed-out guitars that blur together in absolute sonic bliss ... ethereal, reverb-soaked vocals and plenty of distortion ... chiseled soundscapes ... drowsy space-age atmospheres ... insistent rhythms softened by some drifting vocals ... unique combination of loud, pounding rhythms, rippling, effects-laden guitar and sweet vocals ..."
With the band's permission, here are mp3s of three songs: No Heaven Like Hell, Drone Refusenik, and Reminder. If you like what you hear, buy the CD!

As Manny Situation Gets Uglier, Tenative Trade In Place

Manny Ramirez, to ESPNdeportes before Wednesday night's game:
The Red Sox don't deserve a player like me. During my years here I've seen how they [the Red Sox] have mistreated other great players when they didn't want them to try to turn the fans against them. The Red Sox did the same with guys like Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, and now they do the same with me. Their goal is to paint me as the bad guy. I love Boston fans, but the Red Sox don't deserve me. I'm not talking about money. Mental peace has no price and I don't have peace here.
Shit, this has gotten ugly.

Why does it have to be this way? Why does the Red Sox front office, regardless of who is in charge, feel obligated to trash its star players on their way out the door? And why do the players, even with their wounded pride, feel the need to lash out at an organization which has treated them pretty well over the years?

If Red Sox management wants to cut ties with Ramirez after this season -- and a very good argument can be made for doing so -- why can't they simply explain their reasons? Why can't it be strictly business? I'd respect that, as I believe most fans would. Why does this current ownership group, which makes a point of saying they do not run the team according to the whims of the fan base, have to resort to media leaks and childish smears designed to turn the fans against a player? As long-time fans, we deserve better. And the players deserve better.

***

Here are three of the many links out there:

Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus:
The Commissioner's Office has been informed of a deal involving the Pirates, Red Sox, and Marlins. The Commissioner has to sign off on any deal involving cash considerations of more than a million dollars, and there was clearly going to be cash involved in any deal involving these teams. ...

There's still a lot of haggling but my scribbling notes make it look like the structure of the deal is:

Marlins get Manny Ramirez, one prospect (Red Sox), and cash (likely covering Ramirez's remaining salary)
Pirates get Jeremy Hermida and three prospects (two Marlins, one Red Sox)
Red Sox get Jason Bay and John Grabow
Palm Beach Post:
The Marlins have reached a tentative agreement to acquire Manny Ramirez from Boston as part of a three-team deal that will send Jeremy Hermida and three Florida prospects to Pittsburgh, an American League source said Wednesday night.

Officials with the Marlins and Red Sox did not confirm the deal but the source said a tentative agreement was reached about 10 p.m. Wednesday.

The Marlins will get Ramirez for Hermida, right-hander Ryan Tucker and two other prospects, with those four players being flipped to Pittsburgh for outfielder Jason Bay and left-hander John Grabow.

The Red Sox will send the Marlins enough cash to cover the remainder of Ramirez contract, as well as an unnamed prospect.

Pittsburgh gets Hermida and two prospects -- two from Florida and one from Boston. One of the Marlins' prospects is believed to be Tucker.
Jon Heyman, SI.com:
The Marlins and Pirates are both said to be haggling with the Red Sox over a prospect or two in a potential three-team blockbuster that would send embattled superstar Manny Ramirez to Florida in what could rank as the surprise blockbuster of the century. ...

The Red Sox have talked to other teams about Ramirez, but their talks appear to be centered on the Marlins now. People involved in the discussions say several combinations of players and teams are being discussed, but in just about all of them Ramirez would wind up with the Marlins. No deal has been agreed to yet, and it's still possible Ramirez could remain with the Red Sox, though it's now believed that the deal will be consummated close to Thursday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline.
Sean McAdam, ProJo:
As if dealing away Manny Ramirez wasn't complicated enough, the Red Sox last night were working feverishly to move the controversial outfielder in a three-team deal involving the Florida Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates that, if completed, would give the Sox a power bat to replace Ramirez in left field and some bullpen help.

The basic structure is this: the Red Sox would send Ramirez (and cash to pay his remaining salary) and a prospect to the Marlins. The Red Sox would get two or three prospects back from the Marlins, and send them and a prospect of their own to Pittsburgh and the Sox would get outfielder Jason Bay and reliever John Grabow. The Pirates would also get Jeremy Hermida from the Marlins.

July 30, 2008

G109: Angels 9, Red Sox 2

Angels  - 000 305 001 - 9 16  0
Red Sox - 000 020 000 - 2 8 4
A horrific sixth inning -- walk, home run, single, groundout, double, error, single, stolen base, error, sac fly, error, double, groundout -- put this one out of reach. Low point of the season so far.

Tampa Bay edged Toronto 3-2, so the Red Sox fell to 3 GB. The Yankees whipped Baltimore 13-3 to stay 4 GB.

And the trade rumours continue to swirl around Manny Ramirez.

***

Joe Saunders (3.10, 135 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (3.83, 115 ERA+)

The Red Sox try to avoid being swept by the Angels for the second three-game series in 13 days.

But first: Rays/Blue Jays at 12:30 PM and Orioles/Yankees at 1 PM

Jim Rice, Hypocrite

Jim Rice, talking to Kevin Kennedy and Rob Dibble (XM Satellite Radio) about Manny Ramirez (my emphasis):
Manny Ramirez is really not a part of the team, he's in the back, in the trainer's room, not really taking a leadership role. If he was a leader, he would be with the rest of his team and honestly, over the last couple of years, he hasn't been a leader and that's not very good. Now, I don't know if this is true, but Manny Ramirez may be making a big deal over some things so he can become a free agent. You heard his comments, if he becomes a free agent, he may be able to make some more money and maybe he's trying to [tick] off someone with the Red Sox so, at the end of the year, he can maybe get some more money and some more years if he becomes a free agent.
Not living in New England, I don't hear a lot of what passes for Jim Rice's analysis, but what I have heard is shockingly vapid and soaked in ignorant cliches. And here we have him rambling on about something he admits at the outset he knows nothing about.

How much of a team leader was Rice as a player? Not much, if I recall. And isn't Rice a strictly a studio guy? How often is he in the Red Sox locker room? And how is "I don't know if this is true, but ..." any different from "I'm about to totally pull some made-up stuff out of my ass and I expect you to believe it -- ready? Here goes ..."?

You'd think that Rice might be able to offer some insight into what it feels like to be the punching bag of the Boston sports media. Sadly, no. Instead, he happily steps into the shoes of the men who undeservedly tarred him years ago.

And as YFSF points out: "[T]his comment comes from a guy who shoved a 57 year old man after being removed for a pinch hitter in the heat of a pennant race."

Boston Globe, December 18, 1988:
On the night of July 20, [Red Sox manager Joe] Morgan ... sent Spike Owen up to bat for struggling slugger Jim Rice.

An outraged Rice pulled Morgan into the dugout runway and tried to start a fight. Morgan, a former hockey player, held his ground, and the two had to be separated by other players. Rice sulked off to the clubhouse while Morgan emerged from the fray saying, "I'm the manager of this nine." ... Rice was suspended for three games.
Rice was 35 years old at the time, one year younger than Ramirez is now.

July 29, 2008

G108: Angels 6, Red Sox 2

Angels  - 002 200 200 - 6  7  0
Red Sox - 000 000 002 - 2 2 1
Lackey was two outs away from a no-hitter -- it would have been the first no-no against the Red Sox at Fenway Park since July 20, 1958 -- but Dustin Pedroia singled cleanly through the shortstop hole into left and Kevin Youkilis followed with a home run off one of the signs above the Monster Seats.

Tampa (Garza: 9-5-0-1-5, 106) shutout Toronto 3-0 to drop us 2 GB. Baltimore held on to beat New York 7-6, so the Yankees are 4 GB.

***

John Lackey (3.02, 138 ERA+) / Clay Buchholz (5.81, 75 ERA+)

In three starts (15 innings) since coming back from the disabled list, Buchholz has a 6.60 ERA and has allowed opponents to hit .328/.403/.557, yet he remains confident:
I'm feeling good and healthy and I feel like the mechanics side of my game has come around. ... The biggest thing for me, when I get in a little bit of trouble, is not going out there and letting it unfold. I've got to minimize the damage.
Lackey has also been struggling lately:
          GS   IP   H BB  K  ERA  AVG  OBP  SLG
0514-0629 9 68.2 48 13 54 1.44 .201 .247 .322
0705-0723 4 23.2 36 6 23 7.61 .346 .387 .577
A pitcher's record is of minimal value in judging his performance, but this is still neat: Jon Lester has begun his career with a 20-5 record and is the first Sox pitcher to be credited with 20 wins in his first 25 decisions -- Tex Hughson (1941-42) and Boo Ferriss (1945) each began 20-6.

Also: Rays/Blue Jays and Orioles/Yankees, both 7 PM

SoSH has threads dedicated to the team's possible interest in Mark Teixeira, Miguel Tejada, Doug Brocail, Jack Wilson, Geoff Geary, and Scott Eyre; news about shopping Manny is here.

Gammons Unleashes More Vitriol

Addition below: Boras meeting.

Following up his comments to WBZ's Dan Roche, Peter Gammons unloads double barrels of venom and vitriol on Manny Ramirez in his latest ESPN column.

Gammons assassinates Manny's character, calling him out as a coward who shrinks from facing certain pitchers and uninterested in anything and anyone but himself and his bulging wallet. Even if some (or even all) of what he says about Ramirez and his teammates is true -- Ken Rosenthal reported that Manny had told several teammates he was considering sitting out the entire nine-game homestand (Yankees, Angels, A's) -- Gammons's indignant and angry tone is highly unusual for a supposedly detached journalist.

But Gammons has never thought highly of Ramirez -- calling him an "overpriced DH" with "the worst contract in baseball." Manny came to the Red Sox thanks to Dan Duquette, a man for whom Gammons has made no secret of his hatred and disgust. Back when Duquette was the Red Sox GM, no Gammons column was complete without a gratuitous swipe at Duquette.

The question is: How much fire is there amid all this smoke?

***

In my post from yesterday, I wondered if there were any extenuating circumstances around the 12 games that Ramirez has not started this season. Adam Hart at Boston Score did some fine research.

***

I was reminded that Manny met with his agent Scott Boras on Friday, July 18 when the Red Sox began their road trip against the Angels. Boras told the Globe's Nick Cafardo: "We'll have a discussion about Manny's future." Manny's unhappiness with Red Sox management was reported by Rob Bradford either later that day or the following day. (Also, Bob Lobel's comments about Manny tanking against Rivera were aired on the morning of the 18th.)

July 28, 2008

G107: Angels 7, Red Sox 5

Angels  - 010 006 000 - 7  9  0
Red Sox - 000 201 011 - 5 11 0
Not much to say about this one, except that the game did not feel as close as the final score.

A two-RBI single from Manny Ramirez gave the Sox their only lead of the game in the fourth. Then Dice-K, who had retired eight batters in a row, walked Figgins to start the top of the sixth. Ten pitches later, the Angels had a 6-2 lead. Kotchman hit a two-run homer, Izturis doubled, Guerrero singled and Hunter blasted a three-run dong.

In the bottom of the sixth, Lowrie's ground-rule double to right knocked in Ortiz (LAA 7-3) and chased Weaver. Arredondo walked Varitek on four pitches, loading the bases with two outs for Ellsbury. Lyndon was the potential tying run, but he struck out.

With one out in the seventh, Youkils and Ortiz singled, but Manny grounded into an inning-ending double play. Ellsbury singled in Drew in the eighth and Manny hit a home run into the Monster Seats with two out in the ninth.

After a shaking beginning in relief of Matsuzaka, Masterson set down the last five batters he faced with ease. Hansen threw nine pitches (eight strikes) in the eighth, retiring the Angels in order.

Toronto beat Tampa 3-1 and Baltimore clubbed New York 13-4, so the top three spots in the East standings remain the same. The fourth-place Blue Jays are now only 7.5 GB.

***

Jered Weaver (4.08, 102 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.63, 166 ERA+)

ALCS Preview!
Angels (64-40)     Red Sox (61-45)
Figgins, 3B Pedroia, 2B
Kotchman, 1B Youkilis, 1B
Izturis, SS Ortiz, DH
Guerrero, RF Ramirez, LF
Hunter, CF Lowell, 3B
Anderson, LF Drew, RF
Kendrick, 2B Lowrie, SS
Rivera, DH Varitek, C
Mathis, C Ellsbury, CF
Atta way, Tito! That lineup kicks copious amounts of ass!

Elsewhere, 7 PM: Rays/Blue Jays & Orioles/Yankees

Gammons Claims Manny Is Sitting Out Against Hard Throwing Pitchers

Extra Bases has a sizable recap of last night's/today's Manny Ramirez coverage.

Particularly interesting are some of Peter Gammons's comments to Dan Roche:
Manny doesn't seem to understand he has an obligation to the Red Sox. ... There's a sense that ... "Let's see, I'm not going to play the two games this season against [Felix] Hernandez." He didn't play the two games against Chamberlain. He didn't play against Voquez. He didn't play against Verlander. I think other teammates look at that and say "Oh, he doesn't want to play against the hard throwers" ... Apparently $168 million isn't enough.
While Manny has missed two Hernandez starts, he did face Hernandez on May 26.

According to Manny's 2008 game log, he has started 94 of Boston's 106 games this season (and appeared in three others as a pinch-hitter).

The 12 games Manny did not start: Game Nos: 21, 37, 40 (PH), 45, 52, 64, 71 (PH), 72, 75, 91 (PH), 103, and 104.

Game # Not Started & Opposing Starter
 21 - TEX  Kason Gabbard
37 - DET Justin Verlander
40 - MIN Nick Blackburn
45 - MIL David Bush
52 - OAK Justin Duchscherer
64 - SEA Felix Hernandez
71 - CIN Edinson Volquez
72 - CIN Homer Bailey
75 - PHI Kyle Kendrick
91 - NYY Joba Chamberlain
103 - SEA Felix Hernandez
104 - NYY Joba Chamberlain
Obviously, there may have been other circumstances surrounding a non-start (maybe someone else could investigate). For example, Game 45 was the second game of a doubleheader and was one of four interleague games among the dozen. With four outfielders -- Manny, Ellsbury, Coco, Drew -- vying for playing time, someone is going to start the game on the pine every single day.

Anyway, are all these guys fastballers? I don't think Gabbard is! And Bailey (who walks more batters than he fans) lasted a mere seven outs! ... And what about the hard throwers that Manny has faced?

Besides the questionable accuracy of what Gammons is saying, I can't help but feel Old Hickory is doing some of the FO's dirty work here.

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

Dan Shaughnessy, Globe, on the Manny Ramirez situation:
It's a shame it had to come to this.
Wow. And, judging from the context, it appears that he expects these nine words to be taken seriously. And he thinks Manny lives in his own private universe?

Is there anyone out there -- anyone at all, aged 9 to 99 -- who feels the CHB truly believes this entire matter is a shame?

First of all, the frenzy over MBM would not even exist if it wasn't for clowns like Shaughnessy trying desperately to stoke the ire of the fan base year after year after year. (Though to the fans' credit, they have resisted the media bait for most of Ramirez's eight years in Boston, usually cheering him wildly.)

Secondly, this tempest gives CHB full reign to do what he loves to do more than anything else: rip the Red Sox and bask in their woes. That hobby has been a bit tougher to indulge since October 2004, when Shaughnessy's gravy train finally derailed, so it means he has to work double-time to stir the pot.

The entire process is a violently spinning circle. CHB blows the often silly, inconsequential stuff out of proportion in the public consciousness, then points to the circus he has in large part created and writes: See? The fans are very upset with Player X (coincidentally, their complaints about Player X sound very much like CHB's latest column) and the Red Sox are falling apart.

And on and on it goes.

ESPN Gets Both Starting Pitchers Wrong

Everyone at Fenway Park last night knew the starting pitchers were Sidney Ponson and Jon Lester ... everyone except ESPN, the network that was broadcasting the game.

In the top of the first, the Worldwide Leader showed us which Red Sox were in the field:


Josh Beckett? ESPN did not broadcast Beckett's start against the Yankees on Friday night, but that could still be an honest goof, I suppose -- although it did come right after the graphic showing Lester's season stats.

Now, assuming some production person spotted that error, the logical thing to do next would be to double-check the Yankees graphic to make sure it was correct. But ...

In the bottom of the first, ESPN presented us with this:


Carl Pavano! If he was watching last night's game, he must have been surprised. Pavano last pitched in a major league game back on April 9, 2007! But there he was -- on the field with his new teammate Xavier Nady!

In case you are wondering -- since there is a Red Sox logo and an outline of Fenway Park on the graphic -- Pavano last pitched in Boston on June 27, 2003 (as a member of the Marlins in the infamous 25-8 game). Pavano's only other appearance at Fenway was in a 15-0 loss on July 2, 1998 when he was with the Expos.

July 27, 2008

G106: Red Sox 9, Yankees 2

Yankees - 000 020 000 - 2  10  0
Red Sox - 311 202 00x - 9 15 0
Do you ever wonder when Manny Ramirez last felt pressure during a baseball game?

After his comments of a week ago and his knee problems evolved into a weekend media frenzy, playing before a national television audience for the second straight day, and with his team facing the possibility of being swept by the Yankees and falling into third place in the AL East, you might think Manny would be concerned about having a good game.

Maybe he was nervous. But once the rain cleared and the game began around 9 PM, it looked like Manny didn't have a care in the world. He made a superb catch deep in the left field corner, over by the side door, to end the top of the first inning, gliding over cool as a cucumber. In the home half, he doubled to right-center on the second pitch he saw, driving in the Red Sox's first run of the night. That RBI also gave him the distinction of having the most career RBIs of any Dominician Republic-born player.

Manny ripped another double in the third (and later scored), hit a bomb that was hauled in by Melky Cabrera at the very deepest point in the park, singled in a run in the sixth, and skied to right in the eighth.

He was ably assisted by -- going down the lineup card -- Dustin Pedroia (single, double, run, RBI), Kevin Youkilis (single, 2 runs), David Ortiz (single, home run, 2 runs, 3 RBI), Mike Lowell (single, 2 RBI), J.D. Drew (2 walks), Jason Varitek (double, RBI), Alex Cora (2 singles, run) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2 singles, double, run).

Most of the Sox had their way with Ponson (4-10-7-1-1, 77), as 12 of the 22 batters to face him reached base.

Lester (7-9-2-1-8, 113) was aces once again, stranding one runner in each of the first four innings, falling into trouble in the fifth by allowing four straight singles and a walk before recording an out, then retiring his last nine batters.

It was a perfect, feel-good night -- a welcome tonic before the Angels series that begins Monday night.

***

Sidney Ponson (4.02, 103 ERA+) / Jon Lester (3.20, 137 ERA+)

Ponson's four starts with the Yankees:

22.2 IP, 28 H, 11 BB, 11 K
4.37 ERA, 1.72 WHIP, .318/.412/.477

Boston has scored more than four runs only once in the last nine games (4-5). In that stretch -- dating back to July 13, the game before the break -- they are batting .248 and slugging .356.

The current Boston roster has hit .379/.452/.546 against Ponson in 199 PAs, with David Ortiz (.444/.563/.722) and Manny Ramirez (.404/.481/.511) leading the way.

A loss tonight will drop them to third place.

Win.

Also: Rays/Royals, 2 PM -- Update: Royals 6-1!

Manny Would Not Object To Trade

Update: Additional Manny quotes, as reported by Amalie Benjamin (my emphasis):
Do you feel like they want you to go your separate ways?

"I don't know, that's my idea. ... I know they got me, but enough is enough. I'm tired of them, they're tired of me. ...

When they've talked to you, have they expressed their problem with you?

"Boston is not stupid. They're not going to do it. They can say whatever they want. But when it comes to making a deal, they're not going to pull the trigger, because they know what they've got here."

Are you happy here?

"I'm happy. But enough is enough."

When you say "enough is enough," what does that mean?

"That's it. You've got to ask Tito and John Henry, they know."
Benjamin also got a lengthy quote from Julio Lugo about Manny.

***

Quotes from a telephone interview with Enrique Rojas, ESPNdeportes.com:
"If the Red Sox are a better team without Manny Ramirez, they should trade me; I will not object. I don't have any preferences: I could choose a team that offers me the best conditions or one in the chase for the postseason. I don't care where I play, I can even play in Iraq if need be. My job is to play baseball."

"If they can get a trade, I'd approve it. If they can't trade me, then they will simply have to inform me by the end of the season that they won't use the options and we'll go separate ways. I don't want to be a problem and a distraction to the Red Sox in such a critical moment of the season. I want to help the team, even if that means I have to go."

"I'm a ballplayer with more than 500 home runs and almost 2,000 RBIs. I'm a professional. I don't know how anybody can say I could be making it all up [faking an injury]."

"The Yankees are getting closer and getting stronger, while we haven't done much. I could say that right now there's a strange atmosphere in our team."
So Manny says that he's willing to go play somewhere else (even a team that has no shot at the playoffs) if the Red Sox feel that being without him gives them a better shot at a championship?

What a selfish clubhouse cancer!

Knights Of The Keyboard

Rob Bradford, Herald, on if Manny had not been in yesterday's lineup:
Voices in the clubhouse suggest that the laissez-faire approach taken by his teammates to this point would have had to undergo the appropriate transformation, potentially leading to some sort of intervention, to go along with the club’s inevitable discipline.
Gordon Edes, Globe:
So, while the Ramirez affair has undoubtedly proven a huge distraction -- and, just as in previous trading-deadline melodramas involving him, is highly unlikely to result in a trade -- the current offensive slowdown cannot be laid solely at his feet. Ramirez had hit safely in his previous 11 games (19-for-39, .487) until being shut down yesterday.
Tony Massarotti, Herald:
Ramirez isn't worth the headache anymore. ... Ramirez' skills are deteriorating and his attitude is as rotten as ever ... And, of course, there was 2006, when MARz concluded a cataclysmic, five-game sweep (at home) at the hands of the rival Yankees by quitting on his team at a time when the club was in a state of physical decay.
Me:
In that "cataclysmic" series, Manny went 8-for-11 (.727), with 4 singles, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 7 RBI, and 9 walks. He reached base in 19 of his 20 plate appearances (2 of those were on errors). His OPS was 2.305! ... He played in 10 more games after that series, hitting .160. Maybe Mazz can tell me how a .160 cleanup hitter could have rescued the team.
Jeff Jacobs, Courant:
We're talking about Manuel Aristides Dingbat (MAD) ... [Yesterday's lineup] was posted by the Great Enabler, Terry Francona. Batting cleanup: Alfred E. Neuman, LF. ... Apparently facing disciplinary action and amid much anticipation, Ramirez chose to play rather than sit out a third game with his, uh, sore right knee.
Me:
Jeff, your attempts at humour are not, uh, successful.
Jim Donaldson, ProJo:
Manny is expected to play again tonight, extending his consecutive games streak to two — just 2,630 shy of Cal Ripken's major-league record.
Me:

Games played by Manny (who like every other player in baseball history, has missed more time has he has gotten older):

2008 - 96 of 105 - Pedroia has played more (103)
2007 - 133 of 162 - All regulars (except Varitek) played more
2006 - 130 of 162 - Loretta (155), Lowell (153), Ortiz (151), Youkils (147) played more
2005 - 152 of 162 - Ortiz (158), Renteria (153) played more
2004 - 152 of 162 - Led team in games played
2003 - 154 of 162 - Nomar (156) played more
2002 - 120 of 162 - Missed 39 games due to broken finger*
2001 - 142 of 162 - Nixon (148) played more

* - If Manny had not broken his finger and played in 36 of those 39 games, he would have finished at 156, tied for the team lead with Nomar and Hillenbrand.

Two Manny posts from me, from August 2006.

John Henry:
It's never boring here, is it? Were you guys starting to get bored?

Rave

Caution: Happiness and sunshine inside.

Rant

Caution: Naughty words inside.

July 26, 2008

Theo Says He's Open To Trading Manny

From Fox's Saturday afternoon broadcast, bottom of the second inning (small bits of game description edited out; Theo stuff bolded):
Joe Buck: If you don't know why we keep talking about the Manny Ramirez situation, he showed up at the park of a finale of a series in Seattle and said he couldn't play. His knee was sore and he was unavailable. Then an off day. And then after initially posting one lineup card yesterday, Terry Francona found out that Ramirez was not able to go again, according to Manny, and had to change the lineup. ... So Francona changes the lineup last night and then last night met with Manny Ramirez, and this morning met with Manny Ramirez to discuss the situation. And I think Terry Francona's best defense -- it's very hard for anybody not named Manny Ramirez to say "okay that guy's not hurt". Here is a guy who's played 95 games and if you ask Terry Francona, he'll say, well, obviously, we're getting towards August, everybody's nicked up at this point so it's hard for Francona or any one of us or any one of his teammates to say "well, he's not hurt, he's faking it." But what Francona will tell you is if he was hurt, then it's up to him to get treatment, extra treatment on that knee. That never came up, it was never a part of his daily routine and then he just pops up at the ball park and says he can't play.

Tim McCarver: I'm not a doctor, but I would think that if he was hurt, that it would show up on an MRI. They had both knees MRI'd last night. Nothing showed up on the MRI. One question we asked of Theo Epstein, who was in Terry's office today, was that -- is it out of the realm of possibility that Manny could be traded? Theo Epstein's response to that is that Manny has a no-trade clause, but if he would waive -- he said you can tell this -- you can say this on the air, that if he would waive that no-trade clause, that they would be interested in talking to other teams about the services of Manny Ramirez. Now I thought that was a very candid comment from Theo Epstein.

Buck: Well, a couple of times -- I mean, Ramirez was a guy who was signed by the previous regime. Dan Duquette was the general manager at the time, and this group has never really warmed up to him, despite all the production on the field and what he does with a bat in his hand. They put him on waivers in the past, they had him involved in the deal for Alex Rodriguez, which fell apart, so it's not like it's out of the realm of possibility that they would want to do it, but as Theo said, and it makes sense, he's untradeable.

McCarver: Yeah.

Buck: He's a 5 & 10 guy, so he can veto any deal and with these options, he would want any team that picked him up to pick up his contract options for the next two years at $20 million a pop and that's not going to happen.

McCarver: No.

Buck: So it appears, as we sit here on the 26th of July in 2008, that Manny Ramirez will be a player that Terry Francona has to deal with --

McCarver: As he has.

Buck: -- for the rest of the year. The odd thing is that if he was making a statement, Manny Ramirez, here's a guy who has changed his attitude with the media, he's been very accessible as opposed to years past, he wants the Red Sox to pick up a $20 million option for next year, he seems to have acted and played as a guy who wants that option picked up, then to do what he did at this time of the year, if that's what happened, to make a statement, not only disappoints the Red Sox, but sends off alarm bells across major league baseball, that the guy is not to be counted on if he is indeed not injured and just sitting out -- the last two games.

McCarver: You have a guaranteed contract, you're sitting out, it's almost the baseball player's version of extortion. What are you going to do to him? What are you going to do? Dock his pay? You can't do that.
I'm not sure Theo's statement is news -- the club has indicated its willingness in the past to trade Manny in the right deal. But I thought I'd type it out -- and also offer a flavour of how Fox was spinning it.

G105: Yankees 10, Red Sox 3

Yankees - 001 204 030 - 10 13  1
Red Sox - 100 001 000 - 3 6 0
Shit's so thick you could stir it with a stick ...

It's been a bad day ...

Ignore the lower fears ...
***

Andy Pettitte (3.86, 107 ERA+) / Tim Wakefield (3.69, 118 ERA+)

I'll post any Manny news here as quickly as I can.

Lineup:
Pedroia, 2B
Youkilis, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Ramirez, LF
Lowell, 3B
Drew, RF
Lowrie, SS
Crisp, CF
Cash, C
And Rays/Royals, 7 PM

Additional Manny Thoughts

While driving in to work today, I told Laura about the Bob Lobel story. I had not blogged about it, so she had never heard of it.

About a week ago, the former WBZ-TV sports director said Manny was fined $500,000 for the Jack McCormick incident and decided to retaliate against the front office by allowing himself to be struck out by Mariano Rivera on July 6.

First of all, Lobel was way off in the amount of the fine. It turns out it was approximately $10,000-$15,000. And the second part of his "report" is more mind-reading than anything else, along the lines of the way Fox News begins stories with "Someone people say ..." to get the most silly, unfounded rumours into the public consciousness.

Regarding the possibility that Manny threw away that pinch-hitting appearance: If you believe that, then you probably have to believe that J. D. Drew tanked last night to end the game, that Jacoby Ellsbury has been allowing himself to get rung up, etc., etc., efuckingtc. ...

And by the way, strikes 2 and 3 of that at-bat were either balls or the type of borderline pitches that Ramirez often will not swing at. (Maybe he should have been swinging anyway, knowing that Rivera often gets those pitches called strikes.)

And as far as anyone saying, this is another in a long line of Manny Incidents, please remember that the history of MBM can be more accurately described as a long line of incidents blown out of proportion by the media and then used as evidence of Manny's evilness. The reporters know much more about what is going on than I/we do, but they have rarely put their cards on the table in a way that could erase my skepticism.

Right now, this is what we know for sure:
Manny has chronic knee problems
He did not play last night
He went for an MRI, which looked good
There is a shitload of rumours swirling around
However, I now think that this is Manny's last year with the Red Sox. $20 million will go a long way in 2009.

Manny And The MRIs

Something is going on with Manny Ramirez. But once we filter out media bias and sundry shitstirring and concentrate on confirmed facts, it's impossible -- right now -- to figure out what.

First of all, let's be clear about the situation between Terry Francona and Ramirez prior to last night's game. As Jeff Goldberg wrote in his Courant blog, "Francona told the media at 4 p.m. he reserved the right to change it if Ramirez indicated he couldn't go. Shortly before 4:30, the revised lineup was posted without Ramirez."

It seems odd that the Red Sox would have MRIs done on both knees. Both came back clean. Also, before he logged off for the night, Rob Bradford reported:
There are strong indications that if Manny Ramirez shows up at the park Saturday and pronounces himself unfit to play, the team will issue disciplinary actions which could include a suspension.
Bradford's writing is pretty much agenda-free, so perhaps there is some validity to the XM suspension rumours. But what in the world are "strong indications"? Is someone in management yakking to the beat reporters? Were there just whispers among players?

Sean McAdam thinks the Red Sox's relationship with Ramirez may have "reached the tipping point" and there may be
something of a showdown today ... Skepticism obviously exists within the organization about the severity of Ramirez's injury. Ramirez did not seek treatment for the knee on Thursday, an off-day ... Ramirez said Wednesday in Seattle that the knee had been bothering him for the last week, but he has not sought treatment from the training staff.
Would the team suspend Manny because they felt he was faking an injury? The union would have a field day with that one -- and not only because Ramirez, at age 36 with a history of knee problems and of playing when hurt, has not been at 100% for quite some time.

Gordon Edes says that
One player privately called it a disgrace and said he would not be surprised if the team tried to trade Ramirez.
But Edes follows that up with a snide remark that has no place beyond the lines of an opinion column:
He'd been sent to Massachusetts General Hospital during the game to have an MRI of both knees, the Sox evidently taking no chances that their slugger might have gotten confused about which one hurt.
I expect that type of sideways snicker from CHB (who, I'm told, also weighs in this morning), but not Edes.

The few hours between the opening of the clubhouse and the start of this afternoon's game should be interesting.

July 25, 2008

G104: Yankees 1, Red Sox 0

Yankees - 001 000 000 - 1  9  0
Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0 6 0
Update: "Terrible, Terrible Strike Zone"

"Strike 3" to Lowell is circled. As you can see, the baseball was not close to the strike zone.

***

A few more games like tonight's and I will have completely changed my position on keeping the human element in umpiring.

Home plate umpire Marty Foster embarrassed his entire profession tonight. It's bad enough that no one raises an eyebrow when media talk about umpires having their "own strike zones". But when an umpire is inconsistent all night long, often batter-to-batter -- then it's time to start thinking about phasing out the men in blue.

I have argued in favour of having on-field umpires having the final say in all facets of the game -- for better or worse -- for more than 30 years. However, pitch calling has gotten much worse in the past five years and if the technology now exists to negate the imperfect human eye and render a truer decision on what has actually happened on the field, then why not take advantage of that? As it stands now, I am in full support of MLB's plan to have an off-field arbiter ruling on fair/foul disputes. I'll be thrilled if it's in place by the playoffs (Selig's stated goal).

There were so many blatantly wrong calls tonight -- most of them going in favour of the Yankees (Update: he sucked all night long). I'll comment on the worst one. With Kevin Youkilis representing the tying run at first base and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Mariano Rivera worked Mike Lowell steadily away. Ahead in the count 1-0, he took what looked like ball 2 for strike 1, then fouled off three outside pitches, took ball 2, and fouled another pitch off. Rivera's 8th pitch was well inside and a bit high, clearly off the plate. Foster called it strike 3.

The normally reserved Lowell exploded. He jumped straight up in the air and when he came down, he was giving it to Foster at a volume and intensity I have never seen from him. I have no doubt he was talking about other calls that night in addition to the one that had just retired him. He was quickly ejected. J.D. Drew was also called out on strikes -- ending the game -- but at least that strike 3 was actually a strike.

Beckett (7-9-1-1-6, 110) allowed nine hits, and only a 10-hopper to the shortstop spot with the shift on for Jason Giambi put the Yankees on the scoreboard. And it was Foster's bogus strike zone that set it up. Beckett fanned Johnny Damon and got Derek Jeter to ground back to the mound. He got ahead of Bobby Abreu 0-2, then threw him strike 3. Foster called it a ball, and Abreu promptly singled to center. Alex Rodriguez also singled and Abreu raced to third. Because of the runner on third, Lowell was playing closer to the base. Giambi's squibby grounder went right to the spot where Lowell would usually be positioned. The ball barely rolled out of the infield, but the run scored.

The Red Sox got only three runners to second base -- and no one to third. Their best shot at tying the game came in the eighth. Kyle Farnsworth took over for Chamberlain (7-3-0-1-9, 103) and gave up hits to Jed Lowrie (opponents had been 0-for-their-last-28 against the Mop) and Coco Crisp. Joe Girardi summoned Rivera, who struck out Jacoby Ellsbury and got Dustin Pedroia to tap back to the hill.

Oh: JtC threw yet another pitch at Yook's head, this time on an 2-0 count in the seventh inning. Both benches were warned.

***

Joba Chamberlain (2.52, 163 ERA+) / Josh Beckett (3.98, 110 ERA+)

Showdown!

Plus: The Large Father returns!

The Sox went 26-19 without Ortiz -- a .578 winning percentage, which would work out to a 93.6 win season. Boston's offensive numbers actually improved (slightly) with Flo out of the lineup.

And, thanks to Kansas City, we are tied for first place.

MLB.com:
Chamberlain pitched six strong innings against the A's on Saturday afternoon but came away with his seventh no-decision in nine starts. ... He has not given up more than three earned runs in any of his starts. ... [Beckett] fired a complete game in his last start, though it was in a losing cause. ... Beckett has given the Red Sox at least six innings in 10 of his last 11 starts. In seven Fenway starts, he [has] a 4.82 ERA.
Joba's stats in his nine starts: 47.2 IP, 44 H, 22 BB, 54 K, 2.64 ERA (.249/.337/.316).

George A. King III, Post:
The A's can't hit and the Twins' bowels lock every time they enter Yankee Stadium, so the six wins [following the All-Star break] have a "So What?" feeling attached to them.

The Red Sox ... can hit - and are getting Yankee-killer David Ortiz back from the disabled list tonight - and don't wet themselves upon seeing the Yankees.
Beckett understands that It. Is. On.



Also: Rays/Royals, 8 PM

July 24, 2008

Jose Vidro Sucks ... As Do The Yankees

Junior asks the question:
Can a baseball franchise be declared clinically insane?
And offers the address of the year:
"I Want To Be The Mariners' DH"
c/o Jim Riggleman
.266 OBP Lane
Ridiculously Low Slugging Percentageburg, WA 98134
***

Elsewhere, Jere approves of "Yankees Suck" chant.

As do, I assume, The Soxaholix:

Something Else #14: BC-DC

On Halloween Night in 2005, the Black Crowes wrapped up their US tour by masquerading as their own opening act at Chicago's Riviera Theater.

They called themselves BC-DC, dressing up like Angus Young (schoolboy shorts, tie and cap) and playing three AC-DC songs: "Rock N' Roll Damnation", "Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be", and "Highway To Hell".

You can see some video here and here.

July 23, 2008

G103: Red Sox 6, Mariners 3 (12)

Red Sox  - 002 001 000 003 - 6 11  0
Mariners - 000 102 000 000 - 3 11 2
Sweep! The bullpen was the story today.

Justin Masterson -- After Buchholz allowed a game-tying home run to Jose Vidro in the sixth, he walked Adrian Beltre on four pitches and allowed a single to Jeremy Reed. Masterson, who had begun warming when Boston had a 3-1 lead, came in (so much for Terry Francona's wish for a 10-run lead for Masterson's first relief appearance). The bald rookie was up to the high-leverage task, however, needing only seven pitches to whiff both Kenji Johjima and Bryan LaHair. He then set down the Mariners in order in the seventh (L9, 4-3, L7) and eighth (3-1, K, 5-3).

Hideki Okajima -- Got two quick outs to start the ninth -- the second one on a stupendous running catch in short left-center by Jacoby Ellsbury (who had ended the seventh with a over-the-head grab after sprinting to the warning track in left). Then Jeemer walked pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo on four pitches. Out came Tito.

Manny Delcarmen -- With the winning run on first, MDC fell behind Willie Bloomquist 2-0, got two fouls, and then a grounder to second. On to the 10th. MDC retired Ichiro Suzuki on a fly to short center and fanned Jose Lopez and Raul Ibanez.

Jonathan Papelbon -- Opened the 11th by being unable to field Vidro's chopper down the first base line. It probably should have been an error on Bot, but Vidro got credit for a hit. Beltre, swinging for a heroic dong, struck out on four pitches. Yuniesky Betancourt singled to right-center, and Vidro (who had been off with the pitch) raced to third. But Johjima grounded a 1-2 pitch to third and Lowell started a routine 5-4-3 double play.

(In the top of the 12th, the Red Sox scored three times. Ellsbury singled to right and took second on Dustin Pedroia's grounder to second. Drew was intentionally walked. Kevin Youkilis's fly ball to deep center glanced off Bloomquist's glove for an error, loading the bases. Mike Lowell singled to left, scoring two runs. After a pitching change, Sean Casey singled in the third run of the inning.)

Craig Hansen -- With one out, Bloomquist's chopper hit off Hansen's glove for a single. Ichiro flew out to center, but Lopez singled and Hansen began nibbling, walking Ibanez to load the bases. After John Farrell came out and told him to get his head out of his ass, Hansen fell behind Vidro 3-0 (grrrrrr) -- putting Boston one errant pitch away from what would have been a highly annoying loss -- then got a called strike before getting a routine, game-ending ground ball to Pedroia.

Buchholz pitched well for five innings, allowing only four hits (one of them a solo home run from Ibanez) and striking out six. He also picked Ichiro off first base in the first inning. HH finished with a 5.1-7-3-2-7, 98 line.

Also: Rays 4, Athletics 3 and Yankees 5, Twins 1.

***

Clay Buchholz (5.88, 74 ERA+) / Felix Hernandez (2.95, 135 ERA+)

Afternoon baseball at Psycho Field!

After needing 37 pitches to get through the first inning in his last start, Buchholz will alter his pre-game routine, so that, as the Herald puts it, "his first inning feels more like his second or third". HH:
When I get maybe three-quarters of the way through, [I'll] sit down for a little bit in the bullpen and then when I get up, finish the rest of it. They'll try to manipulate me sitting down and getting back up for the first time and see how that works, and maybe we can break that first-inning barrier that's there right now.
Batters are hitting .349/.431/.581 against Buchholz in the first inning this year (51 PA).

MLB.com:
[Hernandez] was sharp in his first post-All-Star start, holding the Indians to four hits and two runs over six innings, striking out nine along the way. ... Lack of run support had been a problem for Hernandez, who had to make due with an average of 3.47 runs in his first 17 starts.
Also: Athletics/Rays (0.5 GA) at 12:40 PM and Twins/Yankees (3.5 GB) at 1 PM.

Pedroia - Hitting On The Road

This is slicing it pretty thin, but ...

Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in 23 consecutive road games, tying Pete Rose and Joey Cora for the 4th-longest streak by a second baseman since 1956.
Johnny Temple   1960-08-21 - 1961-06-09  - 33
Luis Castillo 2002-05-05 - 2002-07-16 - 27
Steve Sax 1985-06-27 - 1985-08-24 - 24
Pete Rose 1965-07-01 - 1965-08-23 - 23
Joey Cora 1997-04-17 - 1997-06-10 - 23
Dustin Pedroia 2008-05-31 - 2008-07-22 - 23
Those are 2B only. The post-1956 record for anyone is 44 games by Derek Jeter (August 20, 2006 to May 28, 2007). Justin Morneau (34, June 22, 2006 to September 15, 2006) is the only other player with a streak longer than Temple's.

The Boston team record (since 1956, the earlier year for which complete play-by-play data exists) is Nomar Garciaparra's 24-game streak in 1998.

***

Jonathan Papelbon is the first pitcher in Red Sox history with 30 saves in three consecutive seasons: "It's good to be in the Papelbon Club."

SoSHer mabrowndog looks at the remaining schedules of Boston, Tampa Bay and New York. Re the Rays:
September looks absolutely brutal, with 27 games in 26 days, only 10 of them at home. They've got just one lousy off-day, and that comes on the road between series at Fenway and the Toilet. It's also their toughest month of the season in terms of schedule strength.
Starters for the weekend Yankees series:
Friday,   7:00 PM: Joba Chamberlain / Josh Beckett
Saturday, 3:45 PM: Andy Pettitte / Tim Wakefield
Sunday, 8:00 PM: Sidney Ponson / Jon Lester

July 22, 2008

G102: Red Sox 4, Mariners 2

Red Sox  - 100 300 000 - 4  9  0
Mariners - 000 000 020 - 2 5 0
Drew donged in the opening frame and Dice (7.1-5-2-3-6, 99) mowed down the Mariners in the first seven innings, moving the Red Sox to only 0.5 GB the Rays in the East.

A bunt single from Ellsbury and a line drive down the left field line from Pedroia started the Boston fifth. Drew made it 2-0 with a sac fly to right. Manny singled and Lowell doubled home FY. After Yook walked, Lowrie lofted a sac fly of his own -- 4-0 Sox.

Matsuzaka ran into trouble to start the eighth -- a single from Lahair (his 1st MLB hit), a one-out RBI double from Ichiro (snapping Dice's string of 24.2 consecutive scoreless innings) and a run-scoring single from Lopez -- but Okajima got out of trouble and Bot pitched a perfect ninth.

Oakland whipped Tampa Bay 8-1 and the Yankees (now 3.5 GB) took care of the Twins 8-2.

***

Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.65, 164 ERA+) / R. A. Dickey (3.73, 106 ERA+)

In seven road starts -- only 37.2 innings, though -- Dice's ERA is 2.15. Opponents are hitting .152 and slugging .220.

In his three July starts, Matsuzaka has allowed only one run in 18.1 innings (though he has allowed 12 hits and 13 walks). Opponents, while hitting only .188 this month, have a .342 on-base percentage.

Matsuzaka has a lower ERA in his five no-decisions (1.59) than he does in his ten wins (2.14).

Dice's opponents' OBP: After 0-1 count: .255. After 1-0 count: .409.

Matsuzaka is at his best in high leverage situations:
          PA   AVG   OBP   SLG
High 61 .096 .213 .096
Medium 210 .207 .332 .310
Low 115 .253 .383 .432
Which explains (somewhat) why he can have a 1.38 WHIP and a 2.65 ERA.

Also: Twins/Yankees and Athletics/Rays, both at 7 PM

Red Sox Asking About Marte

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "One team source said Boston's interest in reliever Damaso Marte has heightened. The Red Sox are one of nearly a dozen teams to have inquired."

However, Theo Epstein says:
The asking price [for quality relievers] is sky-high right now. It just doesn't make sense. ... The bullpen we have is essentially the same one that won a World Series a year ago.
Essentially the same people perhaps, but certainly not the same results. Still, I don't think the Red Sox will do much at the deadline. The pen is really the only area that could be tinkered with and it seems more likely the Sox will try Masterson and other AAA guys instead of going after a similarly questionable (but costly) arm.

David Ortiz collected two singles and a walk in four plate appearances for Portland: "I'm very close to being 100 percent. Very close. Not too far away."

Jason Varitek played the last game before the All-Star break despite an infection that rendered him pretty much blind in his right eye: "It was the scariest game I've ever played."

Bartolo Colon will throw long toss (120-150 feet) today and have a mound session in Boston on Thursday. ... Michael Bowden allowed three runs in 4+ innings in his Pawtucket debut last night. He allowed seven hits (including five doubles), but no walks. He struck out four, throwing 84 pitches.

New Stat Watch: SCHYCRL-GHW-OH,L (from FJM)

Holy Shit Did He Really Say That Watch (also via FJM): Twins general manager Bill Smith:
Who do you want, a guy who's 10-15 with a 2.80 ERA or a guy who's 16-8 with a 7.00 ERA? I'll take the 16-8.
Wow.

Fighting Terrorism At Yankee Stadium

New York Post:
Security guards collected garbage bags full of sunblock at the entrances to Yankee Stadium over the sweltering weekend, when temps hit 96 degrees and the UV index reached a skin-scorching 9 out of 10 - a move team officials said was to protect the Stadium from terrorism. ...

Four weeks ago, Stadium officials decided that sunscreen of all sizes and varieties would not be permitted, a security supervisor told The Post before last night's game. ...

The Stadium does sell 1-ounce bottles of Arizona Sun SPF 15 for $5 - a huge markup that makes its beer seem cheap. ...

An hour after being asked about the sunscreen ban, Yankee spokesman Jason Zillo told The Post that the rules would be changed to permit 3-ounce containers.
(Thanks, Art)

July 21, 2008

G101: Red Sox 4, Mariners 0

Red Sox  - 000 020 020 - 4 11  0
Mariners - 000 000 000 - 0 8 0
Lester, working on 12 days rest, was superb (7.1-8-0-0-6, 103), throwing only 60 pitches (and 48 strikes!) through the first six innings. His sinker was outstanding.

After allowing two singles to start the eighth, Lester got a line out before another single banged off his shin to load the bases. Jonathan Papelbon came in and threw two pitches, getting Raul Ibanez to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Bot then pitched a perfect ninth: 6-3, 3U, L4.

Boston got on the board in the fifth when Coco Crisp walked with one out and Jason Varitek lined a home run to left (not a typo!). Jed Lowrie's bases-loaded single brought home two insurance runs in the eighth.

In addition to his dong, Varitek singled and walked, Lowrie singled twice and walked, Crisp singled and walked three times, Manny Ramirez singled three times, and Kevin Youkilis singled, walked and was HBP.

The 6-7-8-9 spots in the Sox order reached base 13 times in 19 opportunities -- and scored and drove in all four runs.

The Rays two-hit the Athletics 2-0 and the Yankees routed the Twins 12-4. So the standings remain the same: Boston 1.5 GB, New York 4.5 GB.

***

Jon Lester (3.38, 128 ERA+) / Jarrod Washburn (4.83, 82 ERA+)

After a string of four superb starts, Lester has experienced problems in two of his last three outings:
                 IP  H  R ER BB  K  PIT
Jun 5 TBR W 6.1 8 1 1 0 5 109
Jun 12 BAL W 7 7 2 2 1 3 101
Jun 17 @PHI W 7 6 0 0 1 5 99
Jun 22 STL W 7.1 9 2 2 1 3 101
Jun 28 @HOU L 5 9 6 6 0 3 76
Jul 3 @NYY W 9 5 0 0 2 8 105
Jul 8 MIN W 7.1 9 5 5 3 6 117
We need a win.

Also: A's/Rays and Twins/Yankees (4.5 GB), both at 7 PM

Baseball Prospectus - Free Until Sunday

Christina Kahrl, BP:
From July 21st through 27th, Baseball Prospectus is throwing the doors open! If you’ve always been curious what's behind the pay curtain, it's time to announce our annual free peek into everything we've got ...
Joe Sheehan looks at the AL in the second half of the season:
The Red Sox are the best organization in baseball, and they have the best team in baseball. ... They have adapted to the David Ortiz injury by creating a superior defensive outfield and getting Manny Ramirez off the field full time ... The primary weakness is the bullpen ... they should hold off the Rays and Yankees down the stretch. ...

[The Rays] are not a fluke [but they] will slip back a bit and not make the playoffs. ... The Yankees will be the beneficiaries of that. ... there should be enough here for the Yankees to pass the Rays and take the wild card.

Ellsbury Should Not Be Leading Off

It's time to drop Jacoby Ellsbury to the bottom of the Red Sox lineup.

Having Dustin Pedroia (.470/.500/.680 since June 22) and Kevin Youkilis (.359/.425/.709 since June 11) at the top of the order would be the best use of the team's resources right now.

Gordon Edes documents Lyndon's decline:
In his first 25 games this season, Ellsbury struck out just seven times in 92 plate appearances and walked 13 times. He had an on-base percentage of .396.

In his last 26 games, Ellsbury has struck out 22 times in 119 plate appearances, and walked just four times. ... a .234 on-base percentage ... he has just one stolen base and has been caught stealing three times in that span. ... He also has knocked in just five runs in his last 35 games.
Since June 1, Ellsbury is slugging .300 (and .267 since June 29). Ellsbury and Coco Crisp each have an 83 OPS+. By comparison, Julio Lugo is at 82.

Ellsbury hasn't attempted to steal a base since July 5. In yesterday's game, there was a perfect spot to run. The Red Sox had just grabbed a 3-2 lead. Ellsbury was on first with two outs. Crisp had stolen second earlier in the inning, the 29th consecutive steal against Angels catchers. Even after the count went to 2-0 on Pedroia, Ellsbury did not budge. Pedroia singled, Ellsbury went to third, and Drew struck out to end the inning. Francona insists that Ellsbury "doesn't seem to be pressing".

(As far as stealing bases, it isn't just Ellsbury. The entire team seems to have hit a wall on June 17. In the 25 games before then, the Sox were 24-for-29 in steals. Since then -- also 25 games -- they are only 8-for-17.)

Also: Justin Masterson has been called up as David Aardsma heads to the disabled list with a right groin strain.

In talking about possible trade deadline moves, Michael Silverman notes that Michael Bowden makes his AAA debut tonight -- and could help in the pen in September.

David Ortiz hit a tater in each of his three Pawtucket games. He begins his three-game stint with Portland tonight.

July 20, 2008

Wordle

The Glossary, in the form of a Wordle "word cloud":

G100: Angels 5, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 002 000 100 - 3  6  0
Angels - 020 000 03x - 5 7 1
Boston gets swept in Anaheim.

The Blue Jays finally did something worthwhile, beating Tampa Bay 9-4 this afternoon. The Red Sox remain 1.5 GB, while the Yankees (2-1 winners over the A's) are now 4.5 GB.

***

Tim Wakefield (3.60, 120 ERA+) / Jered Weaver (4.03, 98 ERA+)

July 19, 2008

G99: Angels 4, Red Sox 2

Red Sox - 020 000 000 - 2  8  0
Angels - 000 000 40x - 4 9 0
***

Josh Beckett (3.94, 110 ERA+) / Joe Saunders (3.07, 134 ERA+)

Game thread here.

Also: A's/Yankees at 1 and Blue Jays/Rays at 6.

July 18, 2008

G98: Angels 11, Red Sox 3

Red Sox - 020 100 000 -  3  5  0
Angels - 300 143 00x - 11 14 0
With Tampa Bay's 2-1 victory over the hapless Blue Jays, Boston dropped back into second place (0.5 GB) for the day.

In Pawtucket, David Ortiz homered for the second game in a row.

***

Clay Buchholz (5.70, 76 ERA+) / John Lackey (2.46, 167 ERA+)

SoSH series preview. Although LA is 57-38 (one game better than Boston's 57-40), their expected record is only 50-45. It's the biggest differential in the majors -- Atlanta is the opposite, underperforming by seven games.

The game thread should be at Ish's blog, which also shows you what happens when J.D. Drew goes hiking. If Ish is unavailable, check out ThreadSox.

Also: Rays/Blue Jays and Athletics/Yankees.

Speaking of the Yankees: "[T]here is no ignoring the math. ... The Red Sox need to stumble and the Yankees must play their best ball of the season to keep the Red Sox from winning their second consecutive AL East title." ... "Why has a team that entered the season with championship dreams been little better than average through the first 95 games?"

Papi In Pawtucket

Globe:
Batting third, Ortiz popped up in his first plate appearance, homered in his second, lined out in his third, and walked in the sixth inning. ... [H]e saw 21 pitches and made contact on six, while nine were balls.
Pawtucket won the game 15-6. (Justin Masterson allowed two runs in 1.1 innings.)

Also: Post-game comments from Ortiz and Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson. Reports from the ProJo, Herald and redsox.com.

July 17, 2008

Something Else #13: Lou Reed

We are driving down to New York City this weekend for a wedding. Shortly after Laura and I met in 1985, she began working as a nanny, the first of many non-traditional jobs we have taken in order to concentrate on our writing careers. Matt was 4½ back then ... he's now 27 and getting married!

In 1989 -- my third year in Brooklyn -- Lou Reed released New York, an album of 14 songs packed with poetry, rage, sadness, bile, and humor. Scattered through the lyrics are names and places familiar to anyone who lived in New York in the late '80s: Eleanor Bumpers, Michael Stewart, Tompkins Square, Jesse Jackson, Morton Downey, Rudy Guiliani, Howard Beach.

On tour that year, Reed generally played the album from start to finish.
Caught between the twisted stars
The plotted lines
The faulty map
That brought Columbus to New York
Betwixt between the East and West
He calls on her wearing a leather vest
The earth squeals and shudders to a halt ...

I'll take Manhattan in a garbage bag
With Latin written on it that says
"It's hard to give a shit these days"
Manhattan's sinking like a rock, into the filthy Hudson
What a shock
They wrote a book about it, they said it was like ancient Rome ...

Murray Chass, Blogger

It's true (apparently).

FJM takes a peek.

Second Half Thoughts

Dan at Red Sox Monster invited me to take part in Blogger Roundtable: A look at the second half of the season.

What I said:
The Rays are the bigger threat. ... The Yankees ... have too many holes to scare any rational Red Sox fan. ...

I still believe the bullpen guys can do the job. ... Risking a prospect or two at the deadline for bullpen help seems nearly pointless. ...

[I]t would be nice if the top of the order re-learned how to take a walk. ...

Ortiz will be back at #3, with Drew dropping back to 5th.
The other three participants: Robert Munstis (The Bottom Line), Ian Bethune (Sox & Dawgs) and Cam Smith (Who Made You Mirabelli?).

July 16, 2008

All-Star Game MVP: Drew

National - 000 011 010 000 000 - 3  13  4 
American - 000 000 210 000 001 - 4 14 1
MVP: J.D. Drew (2-for-4, 2-run HR, BB, SB)

Terry Francona:
[Drew] might have been a little more of an MVP if we went a couple more innings. He might have pitched. He's been begging me a long time to pitch, and we almost got close.
The game lasted 4:50 -- the longest ASG by time -- ending at 1:37 AM. It matched the National League's 1967 victory -- 2-1 win in 15 innings.

When I was a kid, the American League never won an All-Star Game, losing 11 in a row from 1972 to 1982 (and dropping 19 of 20 dating back to 1963 and 24 of 26 (!) from 1960-1982). Since 1997, the AL is undefeated, going 10-0-1.

Receipts Show Clemens Received HGH From Radomski

Daily News:
Confessed drug supplier Kirk Radomski has provided documentary evidence to the government showing that he shipped drugs to the Texas home of Roger Clemens, who is under investigation for perjury after telling Congress he never used steroids or human growth hormone.

According to sources with close knowledge of the investigation, Radomski has discovered shipping receipts for a package of two kits of human growth hormone that he sent in late 2002 or 2003 to Clemens at the pitcher's palatial mansion in Houston. ...

"I can't imagine that there's any truth to that at all," said [Clemens' lawyer, Rusty] Hardin. "We'll find out one day Roger never received or took the stuff." ...
Sure we will, Rusty. You run along now.

July 15, 2008

Faux Closer Controversy -- Papelbon & Rivera Say The Exact Same Thing

Here is the back cover of today's Daily News:


The story's headline: Jonathan Papelbon Says He Should Close All-Star Game Instead Of Mo

"I think I should get the shot."
The guy's got a lot of nerve, huh? Reading that statement from Papelbon, who is a relative upstart in the closing game compared to Rivera, it's no wonder New Yorkers are ups--

Oh, wait ... that's a quote from Rivera himself!

Here it is again, with more context (and some bold!):

Mariano Rivera: "[W]e're here in Yankee Stadium. I think I should get the shot."

It's typical of the brand of "journalism" practiced at the right-wing Gotham rag. Tell only half the story and then splash a huge lie on the back page attributing the damning quote to someone who never said it. If you read the article, it's clear it was Rivera who said he "should" be the closer tonight!

This is what Papelbon said:
If I was managing the team, I would close. I'm not managing the team, so it don't matter. ... We've both earned that right; us, by winning the World Series and having the opportunity of having our manager there and our team being represented, and Mariano by what he's done for this role, we're in Yankee Stadium and blah, blah, blah. It's not that easy. Everybody thinks it's a cut and dry answer, but it's not.
It's also a non-issue. If anything, Rivera's statement is slightly more outspoken. Big deal.

Here are tonight's lineups:
National League           American League
Hanley Ramirez, SS Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Chase Utley, 2B Derek Jeter, SS
Lance Berkman, 1B Josh Hamilton, CF
Albert Pujols, DH Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Chipper Jones, 3B Manny Ramirez, LF
Matt Holliday, RF Milton Bradley, DH
Ryan Braun, LF Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Kosuke Fukudome, CF Joe Mauer, C
Geovany Soto, C Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Ben Sheets, P Cliff Lee, P
Click on over to Ish's blog for the All-Star Game Thread.

What's New?

Josh Hamilton can hit a baseball.

RSM tipped me off to an article on Butch Hobson.

In and out today. Anything else worth reading?

July 14, 2008

Red Sox Prospect Wins Futures MVP

Che-Hsuan Lin, a 19-year-old center fielder from Taiwan currently playing in Greenville (A), hit a two-run home run on the first pitch he saw in yesterday's Futures Game at Yankee Stadium (pics). The World team beat the US team 3-0 and Lin was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

X-rays on Kevin Youkilis's left triceps (Daniel Cabrera HBP) were negative. Francona: "He's OK. He got hit in that funny bone, and at the time, he didn't feel real good."

Jonathan Papelbon picked up his 100th career save yesterday. ... Manny Ramirez is posing for more pictures from inside the Wall. ... A first-half report card from the Herald's Michael Silverman.

In addition to giving Jon Lester (125 IP) and Josh Beckett some extra rest, the rotation for the second half sets up Beckett, Tim Wakefield and Lester to face the Yankees on July 25-27.

Meanwhile:

Jorge Posada did not appreciate A.J. Burnett's fist pump after he fanned Dumbo with two men on to end the sixth inning. Someone who catches Joba Chamberlain has no business getting peeved at another pitcher's antics. ... Reggie Jackson, negotiating the price of a painting with the artist: "Are you Jewish?"

July 13, 2008

Linescore Palindrome

I have no idea how often it happens -- a low run total (000 010 000) should not qualify -- but it happened today.

July 13, 2008:
White Sox - 311 010 113 - 11  22  3 
Rangers - 133 000 32x - 12 17 1
***

One of my favorite linescores of all-time is from August 2, 1996:
Yankees - 000 000 000 3 - 3 8 0
Royals - 000 000 000 4 - 4 8 1

The Standings Look Nice

            W  L  PCT   GB   RS  RA  DIF  EXPWL 
Boston 57 40 .588 --- 495 396 +99 58-39
Tampa Bay 55 39 .585 0.5 433 387 +46 52-42
New York 50 45 .526 6.0 436 412 +24 50-45
Toronto 47 48 .495 9.0 399 376 +23 50-45
Baltimore 45 48 .484 10.0 439 449 -10 46-47
The EXPWL is each team's expected record, based on their runs scored and runs allowed.

Tampa Bay has been a tad lucky so far, outperforming their Pythag by three games. Based on how everyone has played, the Red Sox "should" have a 4.5-game lead, with the Blue Jays and Yankees both 7 GB.

G97: Red Sox 2, Orioles 1

Orioles - 000 000 001 - 1  7  1
Red Sox - 100 100 00x - 2 7 0
The Red Sox are back in first place (.5 GA)!

This was a long game (3:32) filled with plenty of baserunners, but very few runs. Boston stranded 11 runners in the first five innings. And until Aubrey Huff's single in tyhe ninth inning, Baltimore had six hits, seven walks, a hit batter and a stolen base -- and still had no runs.

Bot allowed three singles in the ninth, but slammed the door on the longest "first half" in team history (97 games) by retiring Melvin Mora (who stranded 11 runners all by himself).

Pedroia singled and took second on Freddie Bynum's throwing error in the second, then scored on Drew's double into the left field corner. Casey doubled to start the fourth and eventually scored on Pedroia's force out.

Cleveland beat Tampa Bay 5-2 and Toronto dispatched New York 4-1.

***

Daniel Cabrera (4.40, 95 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (2.84, 152 ERA+)

Terry Francona announced the rotation to start the second half, which begins Friday night in Anaheim:
0718 @ Angels   - Clay Buchholz (6 days rest)
0719 @ Angels - Josh Beckett (9 days)
0720 @ Angels - Tim Wakefield (7 days)

0721 @ Mariners - Jon Lester (12 days)
0722 @ Mariners - Daisuke Matsuzaka (8 days)
0723 @ Mariners - Clay Buchholz
This will give both Josh Beckett and Jon Lester some extra rest.

At 1 PM:
Rays/Spiders
Yankees/Blue Jays

July 12, 2008

Ortiz Update

According to Terry Francona (via the Globe), David Ortiz will play three games with Pawtucket July 17-19, take a day off, then play three more with Portland on July 21-23.

If all goes well, Flo could be back in the Red Sox lineup for the July 25 game against the Yankees. Tito:
That's not etched in stone but that's what we're looking at.

G96: Red Sox 12, Orioles 1

Orioles - 001 000 000 -  1  3  0
Red Sox - 207 100 02x - 12 15 0
Wakefield (7-2-1-1-6, 98) was stupendous yet again and a grand slam from the Sultan of Sweat (Kevin Youkilis) in the third put the game out of reach.

Tampa's 8-4 loss in Cleveland means the Red Sox are only .5 GB in the East.

Only four Baltimore batters reached base: Kevin Millar's two-out single in the second, Ramon Hernandez's solo home run to begin the third, Adam Jones's two-out walk in the third, and Nick Markakis's double in the ninth. At one point, Red Sox pitchers retired 18 Orioles in a row.

Liz had nothing. After retiring the first two batters in the first, J.D. Drew and Manny Ramirez hit home runs on consecutive pitches. With one out in the third, Dustin Pedroia singled, Drew walked, Manny was HBP, Mike Lowell walked to force in a run, Yook went deep for a four-spot, Sean Casey walked, Lance Cormier relieved Liz, Jed Lowrie flew out to right, Kevin Cash singled, Jacoby Ellsbury singled and Pedroia doubled in two runs. 9-1.

Yook finished the night with six RBI. Drew reached base four times, and he and Manny both scored three times.

***

Radhames Liz (5.94, 71 ERA+) / Tim Wakefield (3.75, 115 ERA+)

Liz has pitched against the Red Sox only once, a start on August 31, 2007 (3-4-2-3-3, 72). No Boston batter has faced Liz more than twice.

Here is how the current Orioles have done against Wakefield. Cabin likes him (26 PA, .458/.500/.958).

Also: Yankees/Blue Jays at 1 PM and Rays/Spiders at 7 PM