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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

DL Party Time!

Well, Nomar will be on the DL for the month of April in order that Trot won't get lonely. Mueller might join the party too. Everyone's panicking of course. Not much to say about that, and that's about all that's going on.

Oh! We had out last home game of the spring today and lost 8-8. I mean, we won 8-8. Wait a second... didn't someone say there are no ties in baseball? All right, so it's not that ridiculous for us to grant the Pirates' request to call the game because they were out of pitchers - in Spring training. The Pirates did get one more pitcher back at the end of the day, though - Sox returned rule 5 acquisition Brooks to the Bucs in a gesture of good will. Or at least that Spring-trainings-almost-over "make decisions" spirit.

Speaking of such... Shumpert released - by his own request? Oh well, didn't really see him contributing anyways.

Most of the above information can surprisingly be found right here

[edit: added link, corrected mistake]

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Yankees in AL East Last Place

Sorry, that headline was too nice to pass up.

The current standings are:

Rays 0 gb
Sox .5 gb
Jays .5 gb
Orioles .5 gb
Yanks 1 gb

All right, so the Devil Rays do a pretty good job beating teams on opening day. Still, it's nice to know that Mussina got beaten up.

I wouldn't be surprised if those of us competing for the AL East title found the 'Rays to be a big spoiler. I remember a few years ago, the Devil Rays were downright awful but for whatever reason, they seemed to beat the Yankees and Red Sox better than a lot of superior teams. I am not predicting that particularly, but I am saying that with a load of games against them for both us and the Yanks, we might find them to be an important - and not always easy - win.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Pitcher Report

On my opinion (must add that disclaimer)...

Pedro is not as strong as he thinks he is, but stronger than other people think he is. He'll have a very good year this year, but I would be shocked to see him throw over 93, just because I don't think he wants to ruin his arm for life.

Schilling is getting better every outing, I think, reading peoples' reports and using some logic. Tonight's outing, when he struck out ten and generally dominated (just allowing 2 earned runs in the almost-seven innings he pitched) was a really encouraging, get-me-the-season-now sign.

Lowe has had some really solid nights and a lackluster appearence or two. Nothing really terrible. Because this is spring training, I think that is a sign that he might have a great, almost-2002-type year. I think the better he does, the less likely he'll be with the Sox (barring another year of a big home-road split, that is).

Wakey has been a typical knuckleballer, even during the spring training. I don't think we can expect his shining moments (like his playoff wins) to last all year, but I think we can expect a typical Wakey year - where he will give everything he can to the team. He should be good, occasionally great, and never dull.

Kim is still on the injured list. I think he has the potential to do some great things this year, but I think that it's possible he'll be off and on the DL for a great part of the season. Shoulder aches are likely to come back with intense pitching. I hope I'm wrong.

Arroyo has been generally good this spring, discluding a few less-stellar moments and a few more-stellar moments. I think he would make one of the best fifth-starters out there because I don't think we'll see him do terribly very frequently at all. I hope he becomes our sixth man, because I think he's improving over time and we would do well to wait until he really comes into his full stride, but until Kim returns he is more than acceptable

Timlin has been blown away by his batters a few times. I don't see Timlin being anywhere near as dependable and solid as he was in the playoffs, but I wouldn't mind (or be surprised) seeing him be a little better than he is now before the season begins. I'm sure he'll get in more work and probably work out the kinks.

Mendoza has been astoundingly good, considering all of his troubles. The fates seem conspiring against him to keep him from being a reliable player on our team (curse of the Bambino(?) some say, but I would be more likely to say it's the karma of taking an ex-Yank), but I am crossing my fingers he goes out there and has a monsterly dominating season.

Foulke seems to be getting his feel for being on our team and for pitching this year. He hasn't had a lot of work, yet, and most of what he's done so far has been dubiously passable. I am not expecting another huge save total nor am I expecting his ERA so low; I think the move and the pressure will get to him a bit. But I think he will be solid, and a positive addition to the team.

Embree has been under the radar a lot this spring. Based on the stats I've read, I think we'll find him a bit more dependable this year, but he won't be the Embree we thought we might get a few years ago. Still, I like what I see his potential to be this year.

Williamson has been mediocre this spring. I think he will be in much better form come the season, but I expect him to be considerably less than he was last Fall. I remember him being less dependable in the summertime; I expect we'll see something in-between. I think he might become a good starter a la Derek Lowe for 2005, but it's a litttttle too early for that to matter.

There are others, but I am not yet sure who else will be with us. I'm not even sure about Mendoza, but I thought that his good return was noteworthy. I am not going to give a lot of opinions on the other guys, since until we know who's with us, some of the predictions would necessarily be futile ones. I am focusing my attention on Brooks and Hamulack and Malaska, but I am not sure about this at all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Counting down...

We were counting down to spring training, and now we're counting down to the regular season. Trust Sox fans - or baseball fans in general- to always look ahead.

I have been refraining from updating my blog with highlights from all the games. Everyone else has been doing enough of that. But I will say a few overall observations. The first is that I think our starting pitching staff should be all right, even if Kim is injured and Arroyo is less than brilliant at times. It appears that Lowe is perfectly capable of pitching in his 2002 form. I'm not saying he will, but I am saying he should be much better than last year. Wakey, Pedro, and Schilling appear to be essentially like themselves. If all we have to worry about is a possibly-not-way-above-average pitcher in our fifth slot, I think we should be happy.

Our propensity for injury this spring is worrying me a little, though, I must admit. Last year, part of the reason that we were so successful is that we had a relatively healthy team for the season. I don't like the fact that Trot has back problems, that Nomar's in a walking cast, that Kim's back is a worry -- although, I can't think of many people who do. The problem is, the way that we were all dealing with the Yankees this spring was to laugh at how quickly several of them will be hurt. Yes, their squad is a liability... but when it comes down to it, you can never predict who will be hurt and who won't. I am hoping that this is the worst of our injury reports for the year, but I hope that our team has enough non-regulars who are able to step up if there come some more long-term problems.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I am almost tired of this...

It only makes sense that this spring would be the time that everyone is discussing trades, contract extensions, and other items on the business side of baseball. It also makes sense that at this point I would be among the many fans just plumb tired of talk, talk, talk.

Yesterday, Gammons told us that he doesn't think Pedro or Nomar will be back. All of a sudden it's everyone's business: ESPN mentions the rumors that Nomar will be traded for Cabrera (why the hell would we try to get him NOW?) and Silverman at the Herald informs us that talks with Pedro have resumed.

I can't help myself from reading every detail of this! I can't! I might just take something to put me to sleep until opening day. Some one wake me up when they sign one of these guys? Bah.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Ortiz and Mueller

I can't imagine Ortiz this year being much worse than the amazing Ortiz of last year. He's slugging away already during spring training (see this article about him) and he is approaching the peak of his career (agewise), as opposed to many Sox about whom we worry because they're past it.

I haven't heard squat about Mueller this spring. Good or bad. I know, he didn't have a very high average for the batting champion. But eegads! he was the batting champion, and damn good at the whole "hitting" thing. Some Sox fans think he's lacking in defense, and naysayers suggest he'll decline this year. But there is not much media on him at all. Personally, I say that he will likely decline a little from his career year, but not in a really terrible way. He was, though people don't really think about this, a good hitter before the year that he was a very good hitter.

A lot of this year's results rests in players like Mueller and Ortiz, who sometimes fly under the radar because they're not one of the superstars whose contracts are almost expired, and yet whose contributions helped bring us to the playoffs last year.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

3:00 game?

Was anyone wondering why the opening game of the Red Sox had such an odd start time of 3pm?

Turns out it was because the game falls on good Friday. Read this article of the game to find out more about that. And apparently this is something that the whole league is being sensitive to - except for Texas, whose game starts at 2:05.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Onion

The Onion has a brief article this week poking fun at the Sox fans. I recommend you check it out if only to become depressed. They have a point, but man, way to kick us while we're down...

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Sox and Yanks Meet - and Greet.

Well, the Sox lost our preseason match against the Yankees. I would be a hypocrite if I chose now to assert that the scores to the games in Spring training hold no value - but still, I will feel all right if I hear reports afterward from observant fans (I could only moniter the scores online today) about how various players performed: who on the Sox gave up 11 runs, for instance.

I saw a picture on ESPN.com of A-Rod and Nomar shaking hands before the Game. Something tells me that will be in every newspaper on the planet tomorrow. The headlines will be different. Some people will like to point out how they appeared friendly as potential teammates should, some will mention that there was a layer of ice underneath Nomar's friendliness, some people will say that A-Rod looks regretfully at Nomar's uniform...


Friday, March 05, 2004

And the games... begin!

Every year, I pay more attention to individual performances during spring training games than to overall scores, since every team is playing around with players, batting orders, strategies... but despite all that, I can't help but feel like gloating to every Yankees fan in sight that the Sox beat Minnesota 5-1 while the Yankees lost in their first game. I can still gloat if I ignore the end results and focus on performances: Lowe was in great shape during his two perfect innings, as Sean McAdam reports and Nomar got a hit, certainly to bode well for the year. However, the Yankees only got three hits at all, and none of them were from regulars.

Today the Sox play with a split squad against BC and Northeastern; tomorrow, however, will include perhaps the only time during the regular season when we see Pedro and Schilling pitch in the same game - certainly worth a view. And Sunday we play the Yankees, who according to MLB. com, are possibly unstoppable. My favorite dumb quote from the article? "The Bronx is the seat of baseball royalty." Pfft.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Steroids to Superstars? For sooth...

I woke up this morning to read this less-than credible-seeming article about how it was "discovered" that Barry Bonds, Sheffield, Giambi etc had been using steroids. I didn't think it was anything groundbreaking so much as a reporter picking up on the rumors and taking a few sketchy "inside sources." But then, I checked out the article about it at MLB.com, which referred to one at the San Francisco Chronicle, and these seemed both credible and identical in information to the first. What's remarkable is how little of a surprise this is to baseball fans. Oh, the players are still denying everything, but what else do you expect from these guys?
A former player, Valentine, said of Bonds,

"Barry Bonds does something at the plate that no other human does, and it has nothing to do with steroids. He has superior baseball skills. He's superior with his eyes and his ability to recognize pitches."

This brings up another issue than who does steroids - the feelings of the players who don't use them about testing and other related issues. Expect to hear from the players' union some more. Expect some more guys from throughout baseball to air their opinions. One thing not to expect: Bonds, Sheffield, Giambi et al to admit this anytime soon. Even if it becomes absolutely clear to everyone else.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Three Days til Spring Training Games...

I finally read the entirety of Gammons' latest article from Sunday, and I have to say: I can't disclude him from my list of BSM (Boston Sports Mediots). His article is grammatically incorrect, containing little new information, and it ignores some alternate possibilities conveniently. It was interesting, however, to hear about how optimistic he is that better defense behind Lowe translates into a MUCH lower ERA, how Nomar has started being the league leader in swinging at the first pitch over time, and how the Orioles think they will contend in our division.

I can't wait til we all have tangible things to write about. Let the games begin... please?

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