Tag:Red Sox
Posted on: April 13, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Dice is Plural for Die

That's what Matsuzaka seems to be doing out there on the mound when it's his turn in the rotation. The Red Sox are stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place; they can't waive him--he's owed too much money. My guess is that they'd love to waive him, but it's not really a matter of the money that makes them continue to "roll the dice." If Daisuke fails, it was an embarassing baseball move four years ago when they paid over $50M to the Seibu Lions just to be able to negotiate a contract. It was considered a steal when they signed him to six years and $52M, but added to the $50M posting fee, it was merely a solid contract offer. If Matsuzaka fails, this bid by the Red Sox was a big mistake.
But how many tries does one player get? Matsuzaka hasn't been the player they envisioned since his second season. If only those World Baseball Classics counted toward his Red Sox contract. He was voted the MVP of the inaugural and second Classic. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, he just doesn't seem to pitch with the same fervor as he does when it is world competition. Perhaps the level of competition is overwhelming at the Major League level? This would be a valid point, except Japan has won both World Baseball Classics. Apparently their players are at least on par with US players. Also, let's not forget that US players are on many of their home teams' rosters.
Looking back on Matsuzaka's stats over the years, it would be hard to argue that he has earned his contract with the Red Sox. If he had been paid just the $52M from the contract, it still would have been money poorly spent, compound that with the posting fee, and it becomes a mistake of huge proportions. The real winners here were the Seibu Lions who pocketed $51,111,111 just for allowing Matsuzaka to negotiate with the Red Sox. That's enough money for them to pay their entire payroll for over two years!
In 2010, Matsuzaka had an ERA of below 4.00--following only one game! On August 5, 2010 the Red Sox faced the Cleveland Indians. Matsuzaka pitched quite well; he pitched 8 innings, allowed 5 hits, 1 earned run, walked 2, and struck out 6. His ERA after that game was 3.96; it was the only game that he ended with a cumulative ERA for the season of under 4.00. His next start a few days later, corrected that anomaly. It continued to get worse until his second to last start on September 26, 2010 in which he pitched 8 innings, allowed 2 earned runs, walked 1, and struck out 7. He didn't pitch terrible against Cleveland for his first start of 2011, but it certainly wasn't expected to be leaps and bounds better than his second start of this year.
Daisuke Matsuzaka has a no-trade clause in his contract. This is fairly normal, and I'm glad the Red Sox gave in on that demand. It was a reasonable concession as Matsuzaka was excited to play for the Red Sox. He was taking a chance on the situation, and I can certainly understand his desire to make sure that the Red Sox didn't undermine that by trading him away. I imagine that Matsuzaka would not accept an outright assignment to the minors where he could continue to work out his mechanics, timing, or demonic possession that has been affecting him over the past couple of years. I think it's time for the Red Sox to bring Matsuzaka and his translator into the office and tell him that he has an injury and is going on the 15-day disabled list. This way, he can save face, and the Red Sox can explain that it wasn't a mistake to sign him, but he's been trying to work through an injury. Whatever their decision, they have to do it soon. I realize that they don't have many options for starting pitching to turn to, but Tim Wakefield is still on the roster and there are minor leaguers that can give at least comparable results--Felix Dubront comes to mind.
Posted on: April 8, 2011 11:11 pm
 

This is How You Treat Us?!

Manny Ramirez retired today. It's the end of an era that should have probably ended a couple of years ago. This isn't Manny being Manny as his attitude has so affectionately been described, this was Manny getting out with the last shred of respectability that he could leave with. If he had stuck around, he would have undoubtedly been suspended. The last time he was suspended it was for 50 games; I don't recall right off what the suspension for subsequent issues involving performance enhancing drugs (PED's) is. Would this have been a one year suspension? If so, did Manny just speed up the inevitable? He retired rather than face the humiliation of another suspension. Another suspension would have brought his career to a halt anyway.
Manny hasn't been exceptionally relevant in baseball for a few years now. If you are into fantasy baseball, do you remember when Manny was his generation's Ryan Braun? He was a first round pick, which as an outfielder is huge. My guess is that you probably didn't even consider drafting Manny in this year's fantasy baseball draft. If you did, other owners in your league snickered as you picked him up, but secretly hoped that he didn't perform to 75% of what he used to do, and probably still could do. If so, he was a steal. Imagine picking up a player in the 20th round of the draft that batted .275, hit 20 homers, had 85 RBI with 75 runs scored--that would be the find that won your league!
Thanks for the memories Manny. You provided that lethal combination with David Ortiz that got the Red Sox a couple of World Series rings this century. You provided a bit of comic relief in an otherwise stodgy old sport. It was fun cheering for you to take those massive swings against the rival Yankees, and be successful. I remember hearing that the Red Sox signed Manny and thought: this is the guy they need in the middle of their lineup. I wasn't excited about the amount of money, but wasn't it great when the commissioner's office devalued the contract so that it ultimately became less than what he would have gotten if he had gone and resigned with the Cleveland Indians with the contrac they offered? Still eight years and $160M was a lot of money to a guy that was arguably a poor outfielder with a bat.
I remember being at the Philadelphia Phillies game that first time they were playing interleague play at Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia. I had seats right over by the third base line and quite near the front--it was the section of the stands that juts out very close to the foul line. Manny made an amazing catch while sliding into the wall that night. I was so close to the play that I couldn't see Manny because he had disappeared below the level of the wall. He got up with that wry smile that he had when he knew he just exceeded people's expectations of him, but not his own expectations. The guy I had gone to the game with had gotten up to go to the bathroom; when he got back, I told him that he had just missed the play of the game.
I remember that same smile while watching the Red Sox against the Yankees--I forget the year and the circumstances. I do remember the opposing player. Enrique Wilson had just nutted a fly ball over the left field wall in Yankee Stadium. Manny somehow got to the spot at the wall where the ball was going over. It seemed like he was jumping seven rows into the stands to rob Wilson of his homerun, but it was probably just the front row. Because it was Manny, it was larger than life. Enrique was rounding the bases in the fashion of a person who had known that he hit it out of the park. As he rounded second, the look on his face went from glowing delight to bewilderment; why were his teammates not lauding his achievement?! He looked at Manny, and there was that wry smile. Manny had not only robbed Wilson of that homerun, he had robbed the entire Yankee team and all of their fans in attendance, watching on television, and those that would later find out as they watched the highlights.
I just wish those were the ilk of memories that flooded my thoughts. Instead, I'm stuck with the memories of how Manny left Boston, how his attitude became bigger than the team could handle. I remember the irritation I felt when Manny refused the Dodgers' contract offer of one year and I believe $20M. He wanted two years and $50M. Nobody else was bidding anywhere near that, but he refused to believe that his career was ebbing. He got big money and two years from the Dodgers. I don't believe it was $50M, but I think it was close. I really stopped paying attention during that ordeal. Manny was overpricing himself, and distancing himself from his adoring fans. The game was no longer the game that it was while he was playing in Cleveland. It was no longer the game/business it was while playing in Boston, where he was worth the hassles because he truly was one of the few difference makers in the game. This was Manny's narcissism. Unfortunately, there were still some that were willing to feed that hubris.
Posted on: April 7, 2011 10:25 pm
 

Signs of Hope

The good news has to be that Jon Lester pitched a true gem tonight against the Indians. Kudos to him for doing his part to get the first Red Sox win of the year, unfortunately, he couldn't pitch the entire game. The bad news has to be that Daniel Bard lost the game again. This wasn't a full-out wheels-off-the-bus sort of meltdown like he had his previous outing; this was merely that lone run that was one run too many. The fact that he could lower his ERA while inking a game ERA for himself of 9 isn't so promising. I have faith in him, I just need to see reciprocity from him soon.
This whole situation reminds me of that infamous circumstance that Grady Little got himself into by leaving Pedro Martinez in one out too long. Pedro was having trouble getting wins that year because the bullpen kept giving away his leads. They had solid guys in the bullpen that year too; they just couldn't pull it together. Was it complacency? Did people tell them that they were supposed to be that good, so they started to believe it? Regardless, is Jon Lester going to start having those same situations arise? We all know this is a bad thing to feel like as a starting pitcher, as a manager, or as a fan. Grady Little got fired at the end of that year--thank goodness. We as fans hung our heads. But as a starting pitcher when you can't feel comfortable handing over a lead to your bullpen, you know they just start to try a little too hard for a little too long. They try to make every pitch perfect, and work through Jello-arm and dead-arm because they feel like the team needs them to.
The Red Sox don't need anyone to try to be the hero on the mound. They have a very nice pitching staff, from the starters to the closer. Each guy has got to have the comfort of knowing that the guys around him are capable of bailing anyone out on any given night.
The pitching effort by Lester was fantastic tonight, but let's not forget that Fausto Carmona did nearly an equal job. I'd take Lester's nine strikeouts and three walks over Carmona's four strikeouts and two walks. I was excited to see that Fausto may have returned to his front-of-the-rotation ability. He was exciting a few years ago and has had his share of injuries and setbacks.
I'm a little worried about the Yankees visiting Fenway tomorrow and having Lackey start. I know he's still a quality pitcher, but his confidence didn't seem like it was in the correct spot the other night after the Rangers beat up on him. Here's hoping that we don't have to hear about him never pitching well against the Yankees. Goodness knows we need a guy to step up for the Sox and do his job while all the others are doing their jobs too.
Posted on: April 5, 2011 3:56 pm
 

Beckett Poised to Jumpstart Red Sox Season

Hopefully Josh Beckett can get the Red Sox started on the path everyone believes they are destined to go down this year. I'm not sure what sign Beckett is, nor do I particularly believe in astrology, but everything seems to be aligned to make this a nearly perfect situation to begin a bounceback year for both Josh and the Sox.
Josh Beckett is a big game pitcher; there is no better proof than his 2003 World Series MVP Award against the New York Yankees. More relevant to Red Sox fans was his pitching against Cleveland in 2007 that sparked a comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the ALCS. His record in that series was a stellar 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA; this effort garnered him the ALCS MVP Award. He continued that effort with a winning effort in the World Series that year in game one against the Colorado Rockies by pitching seven innings and only allowing one run off six hits, with nine strikeouts.
This game is not of the same magnitude as those previous, but the Red Sox need a jumpstart, and Beckett may be just the person to give it. His psyche still tells him that he's capable of being the ace of that staff, even with great young pitchers in Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. He's still got the heart of a champion, and he knows how to carry a team that needs a lift.  
There are other factors that may lead to a breakout game by the Sox. Red Sox hitters aren't accustomed to long losing streaks, and the mix of veterans and young players should lend to a hitters' delight tonight. It's also the Cleveland Indians; this isn't to say that the Indians aren't a good team, it's just to state the obvious that they aren't on the same level as the Sox. They can certainly beat the Sox on any given night, but I'd be willing to bet that out of 100 games, the Sox would win 95 of them with current lineups. This isn't the Indians team of the early nineties when Manny roamed their outfield, and Bartolo Colon aced a staff that annually made them contenders. This is a team working with some young talented players to rebuild.
Josh Beckett will undoubtedly get these young and veteran free-swingers to flail hopelessly at his pitches. He worked on some mechanical issues in the spring, and showed some comfort in his last outing of the spring when he pitched five innings allowing only one hit. Those mechanics are starting to feel more like second nature to him, hopefully that means great things for the Red Sox. They certainly need a shot in the arm at this early juncture in the season. Hopefully one of the most clutch pitchers in recent memory can prove that he's just the guy to give the ball to.
Posted on: April 4, 2011 7:45 pm
 

Are the Red Sox in Trouble?

The Red Sox got swept in a three-game series against the Rangers to start this season. Sure the Rangers are a very good team; they were in the World Series last year, but are they that good? Or are the Red Sox just stinking up the joint to start the season? Nothing has gone particularly well for the Sox.
The hitters aren't firing on all cylinders, though some normally slow starters are showing some very nice early signs of life for the first time in a few seasons--David Ortiz are you listening? Thank you for hitting this April. Carl Crawford is being moved down in the batting order to seventh to take the pressure of the guy. He's apparently trying too hard. Woudln't you be trying super hard after signing a 9-figure deal in the offseason to play for one of the most storied franchises in baseball history? I'm not a fan of moving a guy down after three games. It's too small of a sample size to lower his confidence even more. Can you imagine the conversation in Tito's office: Carl, we're moving you down in the order to try to get you out of this funk that you're in. We think you're trying too hard. Carl sulks away from the office thinking he's the third-worst hitter in the Sox lineup; he's only better than Saltalamacchia and Scooter. If his confidence was waivering before, just think how it is now. Tito just pushed him off the ledge! Thank goodness Crawford is the professional that he is. He was able to understand that it was not a blow to the confidence the team has in him, but only a way to allow him some time to work out the kinks. He bounced back nicely with a couple of hits in his first game batting out of the seven hole. Crawford will be fine, and his stats will adjust as the year goes on, as will his confidence. I'm sure Francona will put him back at the front of the lineup once he shows signs of life.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com