Monday, June 30, 2008

Now on to more important matters...

The Sox lost two out of three to the Astros over the weekend. Okajima's latest transgression did them in yesterday. I'm sorry to keep repeating myself, but the Red Sox squandered another great start by Josh Beckett. I can only hope this lull is caused by the interleague malaise. Now comes a real meaty part of the schedule when the Sox can prove themselves, a week on the road vs. the Rays and Yankees.

A lapse of concentration in the grueling baseball schedule is to be expected, especially on the road against a little seen NL opponent. But if the Red Sox want to put their stamp on the division, they need to take care of business over the next seven days. I think they need to go 4-3 on this trip at least to show that they're not as vulnerable on the road as they appear.

Rasner solid but Perez dominant

It's the temporary end to interleague play for the Yankees. They'll have to give up an off day later in the season to finish their series with the Pirates. I wasn't quite there on my prediction of a slug fest in Queens on Sunday but I was right about it looking ugly, at least from the Yankees side.

It was the first time the Mets have taken a season series from the Yankees since 2004. With what the Yankees have been throwing out there to pitch this weekend, it's actually pretty impressive that they actually split this four game set.

Oliver Perez had great stuff yesterday. He easily over matched the Yanks in the first three innings, but after the fourth the Yankees could easily have worked up his pitch count as you could tell he didn't have as much stuff as early in the game. Several of the Bombers started hitting the ball hard but the just couldn't get enough on it to get it out.

Now they'll head across town again to start up a three game set with the Rangers. The Rangers can rake at the plate, but they have zero to no pitching. It might be ugly but the Yanks need to take two out of three especially when they have a big four game set with the Sox over the holiday weekend.

The Yankees also called up Brett Gardner. Gardner is a on-base machine who steals bases and that's about it. He's like Juan Pierre but he can take a walk. The hope is probably that Gardner will spark the offense or steal a few key bases late in games. If anything he might just light a fire under Melky Cabrera who has slowly gotten worse and worse this season.

I would imagine that this might also be an audition for Gardner to replace Cabrera. I would imagine that any deal Cashman might pull the trigger at the trade deadline would probably include Cabrera as he still has projection and value left.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pettitte gets his revenge on Johan

Last time Pettitte lost to Santana he had Kyle Farnsworth to blame. This time he beats Santana thanks to a surprising 1-2-3 inning from Krazy Kyle. Pettitte was great except for the two mistakes he made that Ramon Castro and David Wright made him pay for.

The turning point of the game however, had to be Jose Reyes getting picked-off second with two outs and David Wright at the plate. Now if Reyes was at first and he was trying to take second to get in scoring position for Wright and Pettitte used his best move to get him, then you couldn't really be mad at him. But he was foolishly trying to take third base with two outs, a worthless accomplishment since he would score on a base hit regardless of being on second or third, and it wasn't even Pettitte's best move.

People keep trying to pin what's wrong with the Mets on a specific spot i.e. the manager or the GM. I think the problem with the Mets is obvious: Jose Reyes. He could easily dominate the game causing havoc at the plate on the base paths while stealing hits and runs in the field. Yet he always looks apathetic to the situation and he never uses his head. He ran them right out of the game yesterday with that lapse of concentration and his apathy spreads throughtout that clubhouse.

It does seem amazing that the Yanks could give up 15 runs in nine innings on Friday afternoon and then allow only two over the next 18 innings on the road. It's probably a bit much to expect similar dominance from Darrel Rasner after he has been pretty bad in June, going 1-4 with a 7.00 ERA over five starts this month.

Maybe the Yanks get lucky and end up with another Sidney Ponson type start from Rasner and Oliver Perez decides to walk the Yankees to victory. This game could get very messy, very fast.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Splitting the Big Apple

Last night did much to alleviate my pessimism over the afternoon blowout at the Stadium. Sidney Ponson showed why he keeps getting chances in the majors. As long as the clubhouse attendants keep the beer out of the clubhouse he seems to be able to focus and utilize all the talent in his pudgy arm.

His stuff was good last night. He had some trouble controlling his curve ball, but he had a good fastball that was sitting at around 92-94 for most of his time out there. Plus something has to said about the guile he used to escape several jams including a bases loaded nobody out situation in the second and another base loaded situation in the third.

Ponson wasn't mowing them down in Texas but he was doing enough to win games and with the Yankees, all he has to do is give them six innings of three or four run ball and the offense should carry him.

He may not last long but after last night he may throw a few manageable games before his departure. Today the Yanks will again battle Mr. Johan Santana and he will again face Andy Pettitte. Santana was solid that first game except the Yankees did manage to tag him for three home runs. Pettitte also pitched well, but had the misfortune of having Kyle Farnsworth follow him into the game.

You wonder when all those home runs are going to start catching up with Johan. Last season he was third in baseball in home runs allowed, and this year his totals are down slightly but still not good for a pitcher getting paid as much as he is getting.

I suppose it's a testament to his ability that long balls never beat him because he rarely gives them up with men on base. Anyway the Yankees don't usually hit him hard but they always scrap together a few runs off him and if Andy keeps pitching they way he has, then that should be enough.

Update: A little pregame note that deserves mentioning. According to Chad Jennings's Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankee Blog, Dave Robertson is in New York and ready to go. Robertson has been nothing short of spectacular at both Double A Trenton and Scranton. He posted a 1.39 ERA with 74 Ks in 51.2 innings between the two levels with most of the numbers coming at AAA. Opponents were also hitting a paltry .153 against him as well for the season.

Robertson could be what the Yankees are looking for in the eighth inning and I would rather see him get a chance to crash and burn beforeGirardi starts running Farnsworth or Hawkins out there again. Speaking of Hawkins lets hope this move means he is on his way out. The Yanks got their extra draft pick out of him so now I think this failed experiment can end.

Friday, June 27, 2008

MLB just gets dumber and dumber

As I type this out right now the Yankees are getting pummeled by the Mets 12-5 and the Mets are looking to add more. Check that, make that 15 -5 since Carlos Delgado has just made Russ Ohlendorf and Latroy Hawkins his bitches. But I'm not upset about the impending loss and the possibility of the Mets taking tonight's game as well.

Yes, the Yankees pitching looks abysmal right now and frankly this back end of the rotation is. But it's hard to blame the Yankees as a team for not showing up today, since they hard to deal with the absurdity of having to play a night game in Pittsburgh before flying out to play the Mets, who have been in New York for the past four days including an off day yesterday, in a day night doubleheader.

But the worse part is that the Pirates refused to move up the game time last night because they felt they would lose out on ad revenue and fan attendance. The fact that the Pirates don't understand that when the Yankees come to town they are going to bring in heaps of money is stupid in itself, but when they could see the weather was going to be awful and they wouldn't be able to get it in only serves as more evidence as to why they are one of the worst run franchises in baseball.

Major League Baseball should have had the game scheduled for the afternoon anyway, since it was a get away day. They are constantly doing this to teams and it needs to stop. I can't imagine that they lose that much revenue when a game is played in the day as opposed to at night. If they did do you think the Cub's schedule would include as many day games as it does? The Cubbies seem to do just fine.

Anyway the Yanks can't complain too much when the pitchers they are sending out are Dan Giese and Sidney Ponson. Even a team as flaky as the Mets will destroy pitchers of that caliber. Hopefully, Brian Cashman has something up his sleave and he is just praying that these guys don't explode before he can find a real solution.

C.C. Bullcrap Factory

Why does the media keep pushing this idea that MLB teams will be falling all over themselves to sign or trade for C.C. Sabathia? Perhaps they will, but I have yet to hear anything from actual MLB clubs about this. The sports media just keeps pumping up this story.

It certainly wouldn't surprise me if a team signed Sabathia to an absurd 10-year, $150 million contract this winter. But why?! Look at his career stats. Yes, he won the Cy Young last season, but in 2008 he's back to his old mediocre self. Has anyone learned anything from the Barry Zito catastrophe?

Zito basically parlayed one excellent season five years ago into one of the lucrative contracts in all of baseball. Did anyone notice his pedestrian performances in the subsequent seasons? Man, the Giants were hoodwinked. Sabathia is about to do the same thing only he didn't have to wait as long Zito. The lesson of Zito, Sabathia, Mike Hampton, Dice-K, Carl Pavano and others is this; don't pay so much for pitching. It's a total crap shoot.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Re-hash on Giambi's 'stache

Recently because Jason Giambi's mustache has been taking on a transparent, Larry Bird quality to it, he colored it darker. I guess it just wasn't turning out as robust as he wanted it to. I wish I had the foresight to challenge Jason to a mustache growing contest and put some money on it. I would have what he has in about a week. How long has he been working on his, a couple of months? I could've had about 100 grand of his salary by now. I think Giambi's success at the plate isn't related so much to his wispy facial hair as it is to the fact that this is a contract year for him.

The Sox are Halfway Home

Last night the Red Sox played their 81st game, so they are exactly halfway through the season with a record of 49-32. Now considering they had to go to Japan, have had nearly everyone on the DL at some point, got in a brawl, and had the D-backs, Phillies, and Cardinals, (3 playoff teams) in stupid interleague play I would say the Sox have had a good first half. They are in 1st place and on pace to win 95-100 games, which should get them in the playoffs. They will slump alittle in August like they always do, the Yankees will go 24-5 in August like they always do and once again there will be a battle for the division and hopefully a 7 game series in the ALCS.

In the second half the Sox need to worry about getting and staying healthy and getting some middle relief help either on the trading market or have someone in the bullpen already set it up. I am looking at you Craig Hansen. Last night was awful, but last Sunday you were great, what's the deal? Are you going to throw the slider for strikes or not? The Sox should be fine and I look forward to the second half.

As far as the rest of baseball, I don't see anyone coming out of no where and getting into the playoffs. NL: Phillies, Cubs, Cards, D-Backs. AL: Sox, Yanks, White Sox, Angels. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


In my blog from 6/20/08 I said that Curt Schilling has 2998 K's. He has over 3100. The number 2998 refers to the number of hits he's allowed in his career. Sorry folks.
By the way, why can't the Sox buy a hit when Beckett is dealing? Last night, the Sox squandered 8 innings when Josh allowed only 2 runs.
It's reminiscent of the 13 strike out game that he lost a month or so ago.

Monday, June 23, 2008

JD and Other Thoughts

I am the biggest critic of JD Drew, during the offseason I referred to him as the $14 million grand slam. So I think it's fair I give him some praise. Since David Ortiz has gone down Drew has filled his spot beautifully in the line-up. Hitting homeruns, driving in runs, and just being a guy you can count on day in and day out. His defense has been solid, and the throw it the plate yesterday was perfect, one hop up the first base line. If he throws it three feet to Varitek's left, V-Tek is concussed and out for 6 weeks. That is exactly what the Red Sox don't need right now. So well done JD Drew and keeping playing like you are playing and earn that paycheck.

Craig Hansen pitched well yesterday in a tight spot. With a hard fastball with movement and a sick slider he has potential to be a solid bullpen guy. With Hansen, Oki, and Papelbon the Red Sox could potentially shorten every game to about 6 innings.

Yankee fans have you heard? Mike and the Maddog are splitting up. This is bigger than Billy and Christie spliting up. The big question, who stays on WFAN?

Sox Salvage One

It took thirteen innings and about 150 men left on base, but the Sox finally manage to get one on this home series verse the Cardinals. I was most impressed with J.D. Drew's game saving throw to get the runner out at home in the top of the 13th. I don't know how the Sox got a lead off double in four straight innings and couldn't bring the winning run home.

As the interleague schedule continues, I wonder what on Earth they are going to do about the rain out against the Phillies a few days ago. When are they going to fit that one in? That is just one of the problems with interleague play. I can understand one series a year against a natural geographical rival such as Yankees vs. Mets, Cubs vs. Whitesox, or Orioles vs. Nationals, but the rest of it has got to stop. It's a major inconvenience. Those games could be played against other teams within the league that may help determine the wild card race or home field. In the current system, scheduling can turn out to be mighty unfair. For example, hypothetically, what if the Red Sox and Indians are competing for the wild card? Red Sox played the Cubs, Arizona, and Philadelphia while the Indians play Pittsburgh, Washington, and Cincinnati. The strength of schedule is not fair.

Lastly, so long to George Carlin. We'll miss you.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pictures at last: Part II

Here are just a few shots from Yankees vs. Padres from 6/18. The game was Rasner against Peavy and neither pitcher really showed up. Rasner gutted out five innings for the win after the Yankees knocked Jake Peavy around for four runs in four innings forcing him to throw 93 pitches.

I'm pretty excited for the new Yankee Stadium if you can't tell and every time I go to a game I have to take a walk by and maybe a few photos. Top right is Peavy versus Jeter at the start of the game after Damon singled to start the game.

Bottom left is Arod against Peavy. Arod proceeded to jack the next pitch out of the park. Bottom right is just the sweet sight of another Yankee victory on the scoreboard.

I'll be heading to the Stadium again on the July 2 so hopefully that time I will be more prompt with my posting of photos. And hopefully I will be able to get some pictures from different spots around the Stadium.

Now as for today's game, the Yankees needed this win badly, especially after they threw away a good outing from Dan Giese yesterday, or to put it better, after Giese threw away his good outing.

But Andy seems to have found his grove again and the timing is great since the Yankees need him to step up with Wang out. The Yankees got a break when Kyle Farnsworth decided to use his idiocy to their advantage for once. Probably for at least a week we wont have to deal with any eighth inning Farnsworth shenanigans.

Today's game also means that we will be seeing that Jason Giambi mustache for a few more games. He is really seeing the ball well and he is using the whole field now. The Yankees should definitely not pick up his option after this season, but it will be worth exploring the option to bring him back on a short cheaper deal.

The Bombers probably could have gone 5-1 on the homestand, but I guess 4-2 will have to do. They need to pad their record against the Pirates with a sweep before they take on the Mets in a four game weekend set.

Pictures at last

Well I have been pretty negligent in my endeavor to bring you all photos from both Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. I figured I would just put all of them up now in order to get everything out as soon as possible.

The Red Sox pictures are from 6/11. It was a match up pf Bartolo Colon and Gerrit Olson. Colon came out on top as Olson was roughed up for five runs in the first inning. The Sox managed to hang on for the 6-3 victory after Jonathan Papelbon bailed out Mike Timlin in the ninth.

Most of the photos were from early in the game. The top right is Olson taking on Manny, the bottom left is Joey's boy Dustin Pedroia taking his hacks and the bottom right is fat boy Colon dealing to Brian Roberts to start the game. The others are assorted views on Yawkey Way and from my seat.

I'll be back in a bit with the Yankee Stadium pics.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Schilling Done

Well, it looks like Curt Schilling is headed down the same path as John Smoltz. The path to the operating room and retirement. It was unlikely that Schilling was going to come back this year and pitch effective down the stretch, but as a Red Sox fan you find comfort in seeing your team have one of the best postseason starters on the mound in the playoffs. With the development of the kids, Dice-K back in action next week, and Josh Beckett at the top of the routine I think the Red Sox should be fine without Schilling. The next question is what will "The Mouth", as I like to call Schilling, do next? Could he go into coaching/managing? No, not enough glory. Schilling is an ego maniac. Everyone knows that. Could he become a televanglist? Possibly, but he would have to miss a lot of those Patriot games on Sundays at 1 pm. Could he be headed to broadcasting and ESPN? We have a winner. The Mouth writes on his blog regularly even when he is hurt and during the offseason. This seems just like his cup of tea, and ESPN will hire any former player, especially one willing to get into on-air arguments with Steve Philips and Buster Olney. At any rate, Schilling will be remembered as the horse that brought Bostonians their World Series in 2004. Thanks Curt. I look forward to reading your 300,000 word blog entry today about your current situation.

Is this the end for Schilling?

Curt Schilling will be undergoing season ending shoulder surgery that perhaps will end his career. If it's the last we've seen of Curt, he has left an indelible mark on the game. If he's not a Hall of Famer, he will not be remembered any less for it. The Bloody Sock Game is the kind of thing that goes down in baseball lore. My son will hear the stories and ask me about it. I will not miss his right-wing blogging or his diarrhea of the mouth, but I don't care about that sort of thing very much when watching sports. I appreciated his toughness game in and game out. That's all that matters.

His retirement will certainly arouse a lot of debate about his HOF status. His career is full of statistical almosts. He finished second in the Cy Young voting three times, twice losing to teammate Randy Johnson. He is two strikeouts short of 3,000. He was one out short of a no-hitter last season. But his playoff performances beg the question, how much should that be considered in HOF voting? He was lights out in playoff runs with the Sox and D'Backs, winning World Series Co-MVP with Arizona.

When one takes that into the equation and adds in the fact that he won 216 games with an ERA under three and a half in a steroid-addled, offensive explosion era, I think he should at least be in the conversation for the HOF. I myself am not certain which way I would go.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Joba Rules!

Well I guess I put up the first post, number 100 might as well be me too.

The Joba era looks like it is about to hit full stride. It was another solid outing today and his walk total continues to diminish while the strike outs are starting to sky rocket. It's also a testament to his maturation that he wiggled his way out of some pretty tough jams, including a bases loaded nobody out situation in the second inning.

If Joba continues to step up then Cashman wont have to panic and there wont be as much pressure for him to go out and sell the farm for a big name starter.

It's also nice to see that one of the big three is finally making Cashman look good. Hughes and Kennedy are still going to have to play a big role in the rotation as the season moves deeper and deeper into summer.

Mike Mussina may be a beast right now but obviously no one expects him to continue putting up numbers like he has. Pettitte will be Andy Pettitte, meaning he will continue to pitch well and will probably end up eating up 200+ innings and winning 15 games. Rasner seems to be working fine for right now and hopefully he keeps it up but I don't know how much the Yankees can hope to keep getting out of him. And nobody knows what they're going to get from Dan Giese. I would suspect that he wont be long for this rotation, maybe piecing together a start here and there but not much more.

Hughes and Kennedy will rehab their injuries and probably get some extended time in the minors before the finally get called back up. But they will be back, the Yankees will need them to pick up starts here and there and to eat innings.

Even though it is a lot to put on such a young starter, Joba is the lynch pin for this year's rotation. Every other part of the pitching staff is pretty much a known, but Joba is an unknown. He could be lights out or he could eventually show that he needs more seasoning like his young counter parts. Today's start was just a glimpse of what Joba needs to do for the Yankees.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Media Hypocracy Regarding Randolph

For months dating back to the Mets star-crossed finish last season, the media has been speculating about the fate of manager Willie Randolph's job. In many cases, they themselves have called for him to be fired. Then finally when Met's management pulls the trigger, they question the way they do it. What the hell do you guys want? Isn't that what you hoped for?

I think the New York news outlets are peeved because the Mets didn't call a big press conference and make it all about the media. Here's a special party just for you guys so you can hear about it first. Can I get you a cappuccino or a Peligrino? If you don't kiss the sports media's collective ass, they destroy you in the papers and won't vote for you for MVP or the all-star game or the hall of fame. They're all big babies who constantly need their existence validated. If you don't make it all about them, they smash their toys and won't play with you anymore.

They essentially created a self-fulfilling prophecy and made their own news story. When it didn't happen exactly the way they wanted, they found another target, the Mets management. Now after calling for his head all year, the media makes Willie out as just a good guy who was treated shabbily by the big bad Mets.

Some quick thoughts on the Celtics victory in the finals last night. I'm no NBA guy, but I feel good for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and especially Ray Allen (go UConn). If not for a last minute Super Bowl loss by the Pats, the city of Boston would hold three major sports titles simultaneously. I don't believe that's ever happened. Of course, I don't have the time or energy to research that.

By the way, congrats to us! The next post is number 100! We rule!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Yankees want a Handout

Taxes suck. When you work in New York City you get the tax triple whammy, the fed, the state, and the city all take their cuts. I understand taxes are necessary to run government and provide valuable services to all citizens. What taxes are not for is building multi-billion dollar baseball stadiums. So you can imagine  my surprise that the Yankees are asking the city for another $350-400 million on top of the $900 million we already gave them.  To top it off,  the way the Yankees asked for the money. Actually it was more like a demand concluding with threats that the stadium won't be finished without the money. I am sure if the city doesn't pony up the money Hank will find investors somewhere.

Now in my opinion, one of two things need to happen: 1) Bloomberg should tell the Yanks to have A-Rod pay for the balance on the new stadium. or 2) 8 million New Yorkers should have a say the next time the Yankees what to try to spend their way to the world series. (that should be in about 2 months when their pitching staff really starts to have problems. CMW is out indefinitely and having no idea what the young kids will do, getting a quality starter has just become necessary to get to the playoffs.) 

$350 million is a lot of money that could do a lot of good for this city. Improving education and infrastructure should be the top priorities for the city over the next ten years. Preserving the naming rights to a baseball stadium in the Bronx should not be a priority. After all the Mets are having Citigroup pay for a portion of their new stadium.
I think the Yankees could survive with a stadium that costs $1.3 billion to build. (This is the current tab on the stadium thus far.) I hope Bloomberg doesn't cave and give the Steinbrenners their handout.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Just when you think it's getting better it gets worse

So I guess it's the worst case scenario for Wang and the Yankees. Making up his starts is going to be difficult, especially since he was finally getting back into his groove.

Now logic dictates they look to pick up a new ace. I don't know if I see that happening. It's going to take a lot for them to pry Sabathia away from Cleveland, but if they could get him at a decent rate then he is the logical choice.

Beyond him there are few viable candidates at the major league level to replace a pitcher of Wang's caliber. The Yanks could also just hope that they can ride the youth for the rest of the season. Hughes will be back after the all-star break and Kennedy should be back soon.

Dan McCutchen was lights out during his last start at AAA when he threw a complete game shut out. Jeff Marquez has been solid too, but he doesn't really have the stuff to be what the Yankees need.

I guess the one good thing to come out of this injury is that it will lock Joba into the rotation for good this season. No one will be able to argue that he should move back to the bullpen now.

Interleague Fun

The Red Sox took two out of three from the Reds this weekend. I hope this is a sign that they will bulldoze through the NL has they have in the past. If not for squandering another impressive outing from Justin Masterson (and his weird delivery) the Sox would've swept the Reds. Then again, they did overcome a blown save from Papelbon the following night. Sometimes you win when you're not supposed to and vice versa.

The Sox keep showing their depth as the offense continues to roll without Papi and without Manny on occasion. Undoubtedly, they will not be able to keep up this winning pace, but the more victories they can put in the bank now the better off they will be during the tough times.

Lastly, can we just pencil in Jacoby Ellsbury for two steals every night? Not only is he merciless on the base paths, he's a gold glove caliber outfielder, and in recent games, he's shown a bit of power. He's the AL version of Jose Reyes.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bitter sweet victory

Usually you can't complain when you win a game 13-0 to complete a sweep that puts you firmly over the .500 mark. But this of course could be a turning point in the season for the Yankees.

The Yankees will have to hold their breath until they determine the severity of Wang's injury, but obviously if you saw him limping down the dugout steps you know he will definitely miss some time.

Now there will be a ton of talk radio that will say the Yankees have to go out and sell the farm for C.C. Sabathia. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Now I'm not saying the Yankees shouldn't explore the possibility of getting Sabathia, just that they shouldn't panic and make a move that doesn't make sense with their new found youth movement. Though this could all be a moot point depending on the status of Wang.

Until something is known for sure I am going to enjoy the solid weekend effort from the Yankees. They got quality outings from every starter, their bats put up big numbers, and they won the close game when they had too.

Next up is the Padres. They have some dangerous players but the Yankees need to take two of three from them at the Stadium. Especially on Wednesday since that is the day I'll be heading down there for the game.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Joba does his thing

Joba is finally starting to show why he belongs in the rotation. It wasn't his best outing as evidenced by his four walks, but he was solid through six and only gave up the one run. That is exactly what the Yankees want out of him.

Soon he will be going seven or eight innings and striking out 10 every other start. Ok, that might be a bit much to ask for but he will definitely start to dominate as he continues to find his groove. It shouldn't be to surprising that he had some control problems as Joba has yet to pitch on the road.

It may sound like a pretty lame excuse, but rookies in every aspect of the game will often times perform better at home than on the road. Joba will learn how to adjust to that in time and with experience.

Tonight its Moose who gets the call. Like I've mentioned in previous posts, Mussina has been the savior of sorts for this early season Yankee rotation. Hopefully he keeps it going against Wandy Rodriguez who has been nasty so far this year.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What is wrong with Josh Beckett?

Has anyone but me noticed that Josh Beckett really hasn't been that great this season? I know it's tough to complain about a pitcher that shut everyone down in last season's playoffs. However, this year in almost every start he has that one bad inning when he gives up 3-5 runs. Granted, the Sox will win the majority of his starts. It's not like he's become Jared Wright. He's just lacking a certain something this year.

A lot of teams would kill for his relative consistency and quality innings, but I think a lot of us thought that he had turned some kind of corner last year, that he would become a dominant ace like a Clemens or Santana. Right now he's "just" a quality, workhorse, number one starter. I know it's lame to complain about this, but no one else seems to have noticed that Beckett has taken a small step back this season. I will reiterate that I have no problem if he ends up 18-10, 3.80 ERA, 180 strikeouts as I suspect he will.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Home Away from Home

Check out Jayson Stark this week. Isn't this something we have all been talking about for a month.

From enemy territory

The Yankees needed that win last night and more importantly Chien-Ming Wang needed that win. Wang hadn't won since May 2 and hadn't pitched well since a May 13 no decision against the Rays. The Yankees need him more than ever to right the ship and hopefully this start helps put him back on track.

Today I will actually be going on a mission into enemy territory, taking in a game at historic Fenway Park. As big a Yankee fan as I am, I am a bigger fan of the game. And though Fenway is hostile territory and it can be cramped and dirty (I know Yankee Stadium can be too), I love the history and uniqueness of the park and I don't like to pass up an opportunity to experience a game at Fenway.

I think it is in the interest of fans on both sides to make at least one trip to both stadiums. It gives you an appreciation for how the other side lives especially when they take on someone other than their arch rival. And if you're a Sox fan or just a baseball fan you should do all that you can to get to Yankee Stadium before it closes.

After all, some of the greatest players to ever grace a a diamond played there and seeing where Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle built their legends is priceless.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It just gets worse for Roger

And people thought Barry Bonds was getting it bad.

I had heard about this earlier today but couldn't find a link until Pete Abraham at the Journal News put one up. It seems Roger has another drug to dodge. It seems he had his own personal drug of choice to increase his endurance. Perhaps both on and off the mound.

How do you approach this as Clemens? He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would take kindly to someone questioning his manhood, but he wouldn't want to admit that he was actually using it as a performance enhancer.

Sorry Roger, this is no bad dream. You just got called out for using Viagra. Bet he never thought he would have to deny that. Oh, well at least he can get a new endorsement contract and follow in the foot steps of fellow Republican Bob Dole.

Griffey Jr. and 600, What Does It Mean?

First of all, congrats to Griffey for his 600th home run. It's easy to feel good for him. He's an entertaining player, by all accounts a good guy, and there's no evidence thus far that he juiced. But this accomplishment, significant as it may be, has been affected by the time period when Junior played. We've become desensitized to home run milestones reached by players whose salad days were in the steroid era. Unfortunately, Griffey falls into that category.

I think the steroid era forces us to really look whether a player was really one of the best of that time and not just at arbitrary numerical milestones. Here is my list of players from the past 15 years or so who will get HOF attention, and whether I think they will be in or out. For the sake of brevity, I will not be looking at pitchers for now, only power hitters who have reached 400+ home runs. I am basing my lists on whether I believe they are the top players of their era regardless of numbers. Feel free to argue with me. In fact, I hope you will. Let me know who I'm forgetting about.

In: Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds.

Out: Mark McGwire, Juan Gonzalez, Jim Thome, Rafael Palmiero, Gary Sheffield, Jeff Bagwell.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rivera does it again

Well that's twice now for Mo. It seems to be how Rivera works. His bad outings tend to come in pairs close together. Every once in a while he gives up a couple but he should settle down and be his old self again. Though, his emotional response was very unusual, but hey everyone let's it get to them sometimes.

While watching today's game I couldn't help but become preoccupied by the fact that Mike Mussina was going for win number 10 on the season. A number that would give him the American league lead in wins and leave him one behind Brandon Webb for the Major League lead. Like every baseball fan in the country I was shocked when I realized what kind of a season Mussina is putting together.

9-4 with a 3.82 ERA is something the Yankees would have killed for from Moose during spring training. Whether he lasts into the second half remains to be seen, but he is a big reason the Yankees are at least .500.

They really should have taken three of four from the Royals this weekend. The Yankees desperately need to get firmly beyond the .500 mark. They keep slipping under and then scratching their way back over. If only Chien-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte pitched the way they were supposed to they would be making their move by now, especially with Arod stepping up.

One final note about Yankee world. I haven't had much time to judge all the Yankees draft picks from last week but I am happy that an arm as big as Gerrit Cole's fell to them. Cole is 6-foot-3 and has a projectable arm that already touches the mid-nineties. His mound demeanor might need some work according to some scouting reports, but the Yankees took the biggest talent available and that's what matters.

Thankfully they also drafted a decent left handed arm in Jeremy Bleich out of Stanford. The only complaint about the pitching in the Yankee farm system is the noticeable lack of left handed pitching and hopefully Bleich can help the situation. They also took a couple of promising catchers which will aid another position in need after landing the catching duo of Jesus Montero and Austin Romine in Charleston.

My favorite pick this year was Pat Venditte out of Creighton. The Yankees drafted him last year in the 45th round but couldn't sign him. He has fringe stuff as a pitcher but he is a novelty in that he is ambidextrous. I would love to see him get on the mound, throw right handed to Manny and then run to the dugout grab his other glove and take on Big Papi left handed. It would definitely be a sight to see.

Federer vs. Nadal

Other than baseball and football, tennis is the sport I pay most attention to, believe it or not. So I'm going to take a few minutes to write about the French Open. Basically, Nadal bludgeoned Federer into the ground. Nadal looked full of vigor and had seemingly boundless energy. He managed an unconvincing smile during the pre-match photo (a sure sign that he was all business) then bounced on his toes the way a boxer would before a bout.

Federer on the other hand seemed listless and resigned to the fact that Nadal was in control of this. R-Fed came close to making it a game at 3-3 in the second with a chance to break, but he didn't win a single game after that point.

If not for Nadal, I believe Federer would have three straight French Opens to go with his almost incomparable resume. But every Magic needs a Larry. Every DiMaggio needs a Williams. Every Brady needs a Manning. Federer vs. Nadal might be the most compelling rivalry in sports. Rafa is far closer to beating Roger at Wimbledon than Roger is to beating Rafa at the French. I hope they meet in again in a rematch of their Wimbledon final from a year ago.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fight Night At Fenway

I love to see a first place team get pissed and start a real cock fight. CoCo was justified and I am glad things were settled on the field. The Sox won the game and that makes 6 in a row against the Rays. Hopefully the Rays will come back to earth after this series.

As for the fight between Manny and Youk, I heard through the grapevine that Youk was upset Manny took his time getting into the brawl and said something about it. I have to take Manny's side on this one. About 30 people already had CoCo's back, and the last thing the Red Sox need is Manny on the DL with a herniated disk from body slamming Evan Longoria. I like Youk, but it is not his place. If Coco wanted to say something, fine. Even if V-Tek wants to get involved, fine. Youk doesn't need to get involved. I guess this is one of those stories that we will never really know what happened. (Useless Manny decides to write a tell all book) We will see if this has any lasting effects on the team in the next couple weeks. I say no.

Manny Ramirez stat line...

Two hits, one HR, five RBI, one fight with Kevin Youkilis. It was a weird night at Fenway. Coco Crisp's ejection resulted in Chris Carter making his major league debut and getting the first two hits of his career. Jon Lester gave up a few hits, but the Rays could never string anything together. The Sox were actually out hit 9 to 8 but won by 6 runs.

I must admit, I liked Coco's piss and vinegar last night after getting hit by a pitch. I've never seen him get fired up about anything. Unfortunately it seems like that energy carried over into the dugout when Youk and Manny got into a spat about something and shoved each other. I guess we'll never know why.

I'll say one thing for the Rays. For this entire series, every time I thought a Red Sox hitter had smoked one to the gap, BJ Upton was there to snag it. The Red Sox have some rangy outfielders. Jacoby and Coco dive and catch balls with regularity (Jacoby hurt himself on such a play last night). With Upton you think he'll never get there, but he continues to close on the ball and ultimately makes a clean, routine catch for the out. He deserves some consideration for a Gold Glove.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sox make it 5 Straight against Rays

Boston won its fifth straight against the Rays last night. In doing so, the Sox regained first place in the AL East. Josh Beckett was strong through 6 innings, while a lineup without David Ortiz produced the necessary offense for a win. If the pitching remains solid, I don't think the Red Sox will falter without Ortiz. The rest of the lineup is hitting well and the absence of Ortiz allows Manny Ramirez to get his ABs from the DH spot.

With Manny as the DH, Jacoby Ellsbury and CoCo Crisp can Co-exist in the outfield. This has three benefits. First, a happier clubhouse with Ellsbury and CoCo playing everyday. Second, the Red Sox are exponentially better defensively in outfield with the speedy duo of Ellsbury and CoCo. Third, allowing CoCo to play everyday increases his potential trade value. When he plays everyday, teams are reminded of what the centerfielder can do. With Ellsbury a full-time player its seems that trading CoCo is inevitable. (probably for bullpen help later in the season)

The Sox try to sweep the Rays tonight at Fenway with John Lester on the mound.

One final note related to Dan's post earlier this week. Jermaine O'Neal WILL NOT opt out of the last two years of his contract. (Worth about $44 million) That's a shock! What a squadouce.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Red Sox Roll at Home

Keeping to form the Red Sox beat the Rays 7-4 last night in Fenway. This win came behind a solid performance from rookie Justin Masterson who threw 6 innings allowing 4 runs. This is the second time this year the Sox have brought Masterson up and he has given them a solid start. With the injuries the Sox have had it's good to know you have a kid in AAA who can come up and eat some innings.

Another bright point last night was Craig Hansen. Hansen has been a talked about prospect since the Red Sox drafted him in 2005 and has struggled throughout his big league career. I know his ERA is high and he did get into a little trouble last night, but he did manage to get out of it without allowing any runs. I am sick of seeing Manny Delcarmen suck it up, so I hope Hansen has turned a corner and can become a reliable bullpen guy Francona can count to get 3 outs in the 6th or 7th.

Now let me throw a bone to the Yankee fans. It's bad, I get it, but if you look at the whole picture it's not that bad. Before the season who were analysts talking about in the AL: Boston, Seattle, Cleveland, Detroit, New York, and maybe LA. Now, basically 60 games in what do we have? Boston? Where everyone thought they would be. Seattle? Done. LA? give them the AL West and a first round playoff loss now and save their fans about 4 months. Detroit? Done in a week. Cleveland? Done by the All-star break. New York? In a battle in the roughest division in the AL.

If the Yanks can stick around and play well in August, like they always do, the Rays and Jays will fade (as much as I like the idea of them making the playoffs). The AL Central will continue to beat the crap out of each other and the AL West is a one team division. Now, the Yankees can't mess around anymore. They need to start winning series against the Jays, Rays, and Twins. They need to go get an 8th inning guy. They need some people to get healthy. So, at 28-30 in early June, my money is on the Yankees and the greatest baseball player of our generation (A-Rod). If the Yanks don't take the wildcard, I ask you, who has the fortitude to last until October?

Want to Feel Poor?

Check out SI's list of the 50 Wealthiest Athletes. Some of these guys are real head-scratchers. How does Floyd Mayweather Jr. get $20 million in endorsements? And who is Jermaine O'Neal's agent? Some of the NBA salaries really confuse me. It seems like everyone in that league makes at least $10 million. I'm not a hater and I don't begrudge these guys their money... unless they suck. My view is that their product, the sports, make billions, so the players deserve the lion's share of all that cash.

Rough Day for Joba

Joba had it rough in his first big league start. His long first inning cost him half of his pitches for the game. His stuff was still good though and his wildness can be attributed to the fact that he isn't used to pitching every five days yet. Baseball is a game of routine and Joba has been used to pitching just about every other day.

Nothing to fear, though. The more he starts the better his control will get as he gets his arm on schedule. It is worth noting that only one of Joba's four walks came on four pitches. Every other walk came on a two strike count. A couple of calls and he might well have made it to the fourth or fifth.

I'm more worried about Edwar Ramirez's three walks without recording an out. Ramirez imploded like this once last reason and it cost him his job. He has to challenge hitters to be successful so the walks are especially troubling.

Tomorrow might not be any better as the Yanks throw Moose against Jesse Litsch. Litsch hasn't been great against the Yanks but he has been pretty good. And you must be throwing pretty well to be 7-1.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It's Joba Time

It is a sad state of affairs in Yankeeland when they can't even take a series from the Twins. The Yanks have always owned the Twins and last night they should have won that game. The offense has been much better since Arod came back but the pitching has suddenly gotten worse since they started getting run support.

Old reliable Andy Pettitte had been solid for three starts but for some reason he couldn't hold a lead last night. A lot will be said about Farnsworth losing the game last night and that it should have been Joba in there, but it is a mistake to think that. Sure Joba might have kept the game tied for one more inning, but there is no guarantee that the Yankees win the game even if Joba pitches.

The starter, not the reliever, was the reason the Yankees lost. Joba is not replacing Pettitte, but who would you rather see out there tomorrow Joba or Igawa? I'm sure that's all I have to say. Maybe if Joba is pitching from the start then the Yankees have a 5-1 lead in the eighth and Farnsworth doesn't even get up in the bullpen.

It is wrong to expect Joba to do too much too soon since the Yanks are rushing him into the rotation. They should have sent him down to Scranton in order to get his pitch count up and to get him used to starting again rather than trying to work him into games late for multiple innings. It is a small sign of desperation and a sign that though Cashman wants to keep up the appearance of competitiveness during this season, he also feels that developing talent is more important than winning. And he is right.

David's Wrist in a Sling

The Sox finished 4-6 on this road trip. They closed strong by taking three out of four from the Orioles. However, they received some bad news about Papi yesterday when they learn of a torn tendon in his wrist. Ortiz hasn't been himself all season, and if he has to miss the rest of 2008 to have surgery, I don't think the offense will suffer that much. They will miss his power though, and will have to continue to 'manufacture runs' as they have been doing. A team's season largely depends on how it is able to adjust to injuries.

Up next for Boston is the division rival Rays at Fenway. The Rays cannot be considered a surprise or fluke anymore. The Sox had better show some intensity and resolve in defending their home turf. It's these series that can determine who wins the division. I know some think that the division doesn't matter, but I'd rather not have Boston messing around with the wild card later in the season.

I am very intrigued to see Joba Chamberlain's first start later this week. My guess is the Yanks won't let him go more than 5 innings or 100 pitches, which ever comes first. Why do they handle Joba like a Ming vase and just throw IPK and Phil Hughes to the wolves? Is it because they actually think that Joba has a future, and the other two are throw aways? Any thoughts, Yankee fans?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Manny's 500th

Manny Joins an Elite Club

Manny Ramirez became the 24th player to enter the 500 homer club. He has the 4th highest batting average among sluggers in this club. People should remember that the Red Sox have put this guy on waivers more than once. This means any team could have had Manny if they were willing to pay his $20 million/year salary. Now, the Red Sox are stupid for doing this considering Manny is one of the best pure hitters of this era and clearly never juiced. Even more stupid, all of major league baseball for letting that deal go by. What if Vlad Guerrero or Ryan Howard were put on waivers this winter? Would no one pick them up?

The Red Sox have been playing better against the lowly O's and I hope they continue to take advantage of weaker teams. The Red Sox need to tally some wins on the road and remain confident even when they leave the comfort of Fenway.