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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

  Trade Deadline Update: 4:03pm

There has been no official announcement yet, but ESPN.com is reporting that the Eric Gagne trade is done. The reliever, who has waived his no-trade clause after the Red Sox agreed to pay certain contract incentives, will come to Boston in exchange for pitcher Kason Gabbard, outfielder David Murphy, and 17-year-old minor leaguer Engel Beltre.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0


  Trade Deadline Update: 2:39pm

The Globe's Gordon Edes reports that the Red Sox and Rangers continue to work on a trade of reliever Eric Gagne for minor league outfielder David Murphy and lefty pitcher Kason Gabbard. Gagne's contract incentive tied to finishing games is apparently an issue, as Gagne won't be bumping Jonathan Papelbon from the closer role.


As of 1:56, however, Sports Illustrated says that Boston and Texas have agreed in principle on a trade of Gagne in exchange for "prospects" not named in the article. The Sox are now reportedly trying to talk Gagne into waiving his no-trade clause.


Meanwhile, Fox Sports is reporting that any potential deal to acquire Jermaine Dye from the White Sox is "dead" because the two teams couldn't agree on what players Chicago would get in return.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

It strange for me, Kelly, because last September 2nd, I saw Murphy play his 1st MLB Game in Fenway Park & get his 1st MLB hit, a single, from Section 16, in INF Grandstand:

Then from the last row of Sec3, OF Grandstand, I saw K-Gab's MLB Debut & his 1st Victory, over the Atl Braves;

You've been credited in my blog for passing this news on to my readers;

Mike


  Trade Deadline Update: 12:28pm

The Sox announced they have traded pitcher Joel Piñeiro and cash to the St. Louis Cardinals for a player to be named later.


WEEI is reporting that the rumored trade that would bring Jermaine Dye to Boston is looking less likely as time passes. Gordon Edes writes that Dye's agent has not received inquiries about waiving the outfielder's no-trade clause.


According to ESPN.com Insider ($ubscription required):

With just a few hours left before the trade deadline, it appears the Texas Rangers will trade closer Eric Gagne to either the Red Sox, Brewers or the Mets, baseball sources told ESPN's Buster Olney.

But the Brewers and Mets are skeptical that they're the front-runners, which means the Red Sox might end up landing the former Cy Young winner.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0


Friday, July 27, 2007

  This Is Ridiculous, Even for a Yankee

In news having nothing whatsoever to do with the Red Sox, Alex Rodriguez has a chance to hit a home run for the 500th time in his major league career when the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles resume their suspended game from June 28 later today. The game will pick up with the bottom of the eighth inning, with the home Orioles trying to regain the lead. When the Yankees come to bat in the top of the ninth, Rodriguez will be the second batter and will have a chance to push his career home run total to 500. But according to the brain trust at Major League Baseball, it won't be his 500th career home run.

Well, it will be the 500th home run Rodriguez has hit since he joined the major leagues, there having been 499 home runs hit by him previously. It will be his 500th chronological home run. But it turns out that baseball doesn't operate chronologically, or any other kind of logically. So while it will be 500th time Rodriguez will have hit a home run, it won't be his real 500th home run. That one will have already happened, the night before last.

KANSAS CITY - Alex Rodriguez may have hit his 500th home run on Wednesday night. He just won't know whether that's the case until tonight.

While Wednesday's homer was the 499th of A-Rod's career, there is a scenario in which that dinger will go down as No.500, thanks to the June 28 suspended game which will be completed tonight at Camden Yards before the regularly scheduled game.

A-Rod will be on deck when the suspended game resumes in the eighth inning tonight, so he is guaranteed to get at least one more at-bat in the contest. Should Rodriguez go deep in the suspended game, it would officially be the 493rd homer of his career, making Wednesday night's homer his 500th in the record books.

You can't make this stuff up. As I said to some friends earlier today, leave it to Major League Baseball to screw up something as simple as counting.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

Heyheyhey, only the Sox get to be a soap opera teamw


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

  In Favor of Instant Replay

By now, the blown J.D. Drew home run call of last Friday is old news. But it has me thinking about the question of whether baseball should use instant replay.

I have always been a baseball traditionalist. I detest the designated hitter almost as much as the wild card. I see no reason why weekend and holiday games shouldn't be played during the day, even (especially!) in the postseason, so the next generation of fans can attend or watch. I don't think players' names should be on their jerseys. And if given the chance, I would abolish interleague play.

Yet I have come to the conclusion that instant replay not only could be employed effectively but should be.

There are reasonable arguments against it, but they don't stand up on careful consideration.

To those who feel that instant replay would usurp the authority of the umpires, I content that it is no more a usurpation than the recently adopted practice of conferring with the entire umpire crew over questionable calls. The umpires still have the final say, but with the added advantage of additional views.

Technology can be good for the game, if it is used prudently. As a lifelong fan and a disciple of baseball tradition, I say bring it on.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 4

Ummmm, without the wild card, there is no 2004 World Series triumph.

Without the DH, there is no David Ortiz.

Just because something was done forever doesn't mean it can't be improved upon. Would you prefer that Fenway still feature Duffy's Hill as well?

Believe me, I am well aware that the Red Sox have benefitted from both the wild card and the DH. And since those things are part of baseball, I have no problem with taking advantage of them.

But if baseball had neither of those things, the Red Sox may still have won a World Series. The game would be very different, and who's to say those differences would not have been good for the Sox?

Forgot to address your last point. I am NOT opposed to changes. If MLB decides to change the height of the mound next season, I won't go ballistic. Expansion? Fine. 162-game season instead of 154? More games for me to watch. But the changes that I tend to dislike were pretty much made for one reason--$$$$--and have brought about some problems, IMO.

Avoiding change at any cost isn't a good thing. Neither is embracing change for the sake of change.

I completely agree with your view on replays. With the proper limitations, it could (and would) be very beneficial.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

  Stream of Consciousness

Thoughts from the past few days, in no particular order:


In his post-game press conference after this afternoon's game, Terry Francona announced that right-handed relief pitcher Joel Piñeiro will be designated for assignment tomorrow to make room for lefty Jon Lester, who is being called up from AAA Pawtucket to start tomorrow night against the Cleveland Indians.

Piñeiro, 28, who was signed by the Red Sox as a free agent last January, is making $4 million dollars from his one-year contract. He was used primarily as a starter throughout his major league career, which prior to coming to Boston was spent entirely with the Seattle Mariners.

Back at the beginning of spring training, I was skeptical about Piñeiro's capabilities. Coming into 2007, he had a career ERA of 4.48, 2004 through 2006 were each higher than that, each season worse than the last. Why anyone thought he might be a viable closer candidate was beyond me. The last 3 1/2 months have validated my concern: after losing the closer job to Jonathan Papelbon in spring training, he went on to compile a 5.03 ERA in 31 appearances. I suspect Theo Epstein has been trying to trade him but found no market.


The big news should be Lester's return to the major league club for the first time since August 23, 2006. But there's another young pitcher who has been demanding attention lately: Kason Gabbard. This kid pretty much flew in under most people's radar, being 1-3 with a 3.51 ERA in four starts and three relief appearances last year.

This year, though, is shaping up quite nicely. Despite a lousy start in Seattle on June 28 (3 1/3 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 6 BB, 2 K, 1 HR) he has been solid and seems to be getting better. After his complete game shutout against Kansas City the week before last, he turned in another strong performance against the White Sox yesterday, allowing just one run in seven innings.


But back to Lester, about whom a bit of caution is warranted. In 15 appearances last summer, he had a 4.76 ERA. That is certainly respectable, but not dominating. Considering that his WHIP was 1.65 and opponents' batting average was .294, you could argue that he wasn't ready to come up yet. Granted, his worst outings were in the month prior to his cancer diagnosis, and it could very well be that the decline in his performance was due to his illness. Even before that, though, he was walking as many as he struck out in almost every start. Here's hoping he improved his control down on the farm.


Incidentally, with the non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching (July 31 at 4:00pm EDT), rumors are that both Gabbard and Lester may be "on display" for potential trading partners. In the meantime, Julian Tavarez is expected to head out to the bullpen, which will settle the rotation until Curt Schilling comes back.


Schilling, by the way, had a terrific rehab start in Pawtucket last night. He continues to say he has never felt better, which I truly hope isn't just denial. We need him down the stretch and we need him in the postseason. And Schilling needs to finish strong if he hopes to land a decent contract for next year.


While I'm on the topic of pitching, I must say that I've had my first serious disappointment of the season in the way Francona handled the starters last week. Regular readers know I am not a Francona-basher. But what was with sticking by Tim Wakefield Tuesday night against KC, even when he started coming unglued? It wasn't as if the bullpen was worn out one day after Gabbard's complete game, during which I don't think anyone even got up to warm. He did the same thing Wednesday night with Tavarez, who had no business staying in as long as he did in the fifth inning.


I am now going to switch gears and take credit for Julio Lugo's recent hot streak. While others were ready to write him off, I was pulling for the guy. I know, I'm a sap, but I can't stand to see our players sucking so badly. So I suggested to my Red Sox girlfriends that we make Lugo the target of a postcard shower.

A postcard shower is an idea someone came up with a few seasons ago. Quite simply, we "shower" a player who is struggling or slumping with postcards containing anonymous messages of encouragement and support. We sign the postcards simply "The BOSTONS", an anagram whose meaning we reveal on the postcards.

In any event, toward the end of June, I decided no matter how unpalatable to some of the ladies who weren't feeling particularly warm and fuzzy toward Lugo, he desperately needed our help. I suggested that we try to get as many postcards in the mail as possible by the first of July.

He got his first hit of the month on July 5 against Tampa Bay. Since then, he is hitting .400, has brought his overall average up to .225 from a season-worst .189 on July 7, and currently has a 12-game hitting streak.

Coincidence? I think not. The Triumphant Mama calls it "the power of the shower."


Though we didn't shower him, Coco Crisp has also brought up his batting average nicely after a horrible start in the first three weeks of the season. Crisp hit .330 in June and .333 so far in July for a season average of .277.

Manny Ramirez, of course, has had his own hitting problems. A notoriously slow starter for the last couple seasons, this year has been the worst yet in time it has taken Ramirez to come alive. He hit just .202 in April before getting it together, at least in terms of average, which now sits at .295. Unfortunately, his power numbers are way down, with a slugging average of just .494 compared to .613 on this date last year and .577 in 2005.

Then there's David Ortiz, whose average is way above normal even though the home runs are down. Big Papi is currently batting .321, far better than on the same date in 2006 and 2005 (.277 and .302 respectively). But he has only 16 home runs. It could be that as major league batters have learned to pitch differently to him, Ortiz has starting hitting differently, with the result being more hits but less power.


I think I've babbled enough for one post. Chew on all that while I hit the hay. Later.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 2

I was one of those very skeptical ladies. Yet, with your 'guidance' I sent the postcards. And I know a few other folks who did as well.

Thanks for reminding us the real reason behind the postcard showers!

Great points Kelly! I am really interested to see how Jon does tonight. I really hope he has a fantastic game to celebrate his return to "the show". Lord knows we need to keep the wins going. Thanks for the bday wishes on myspace! I loved the pic of "the boys" and very belated bday wishes to you, my fellow Cancer.
Cassie


Thursday, July 19, 2007

  What's with the Stranded Baserunners?

Eight more LOB last night. That wouldn't bug me nearly as much if we hadn't lost the game by one stinkin' run. I mean, this team has been leaving men on base at a rate of at least eight per game for a few weeks now. I mean, nine of their last 11 losses were one run games. Where are the dramatic come-from-behind wins? Where are the walk-offs? Where are the hits when we need them most?

I was going to spend my lunch hour writing an in-depth analysis of the Red Sox' current dearth of situational hitting, but I decided it would be more therapeutic to have a little fun with a pathetic situation.

What are the chances that Terry Francona has this stuck to his telephone?

Maybe the guys need an instruction manual.

Is divine intervention necessary?

Or for those more inclined toward eastern spirituality:

And for us beleaguered fans, I wonder if this vanity plate is available...

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 2

Love the post! I've been reading for a while now. Good stuff on here.

DOWN IN FRONT

Beautiful... simply beautiful


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

  A Rational Look at the Standings

Mike Puma of the New York Post was positively breathless as he wrote about how the Yankees, with their win last night and a Red Sox loss, "gain another game on the Red Sox to pull within eight games of the AL East leaders." Over at the New York Daily News, Anthony McCarron was equally jubilant in pointing out that the Yankees "are 5-1 since the All-Star break and have moved within eight games of the Red Sox." A thread on the Yankees' MLB message board is full of giddy fans talking about how the Yankees have gained four games in the standings in the last ten games.

Does their elation mean we should be worried? If you look at the last ten games out of context, panic is absolutely warranted. A view of the wider context indicates otherwise.

While Yankees fans and media look at a ten-game period as an indicator of the rest of the season, smarter folks (like me) remember that a month ago, they were also crowing about closing the gap. At that time – June 18 – the Yankees were...

...8 games back, a lead they maintained until...

...the next game. Then they started losing ground again.

Another way to look at it is that New York was 12.5 games back on June 1, which is when the current Red Sox .500 slide began. They have picked up a total of only 4.5 games since June 1. In other words, all the Yankees have managed to do in the last 10 games is make up the four games they gave back since the last time they were 8 games back.

Being a firm believer in the power of a visual image to drive a point home, I looked at the Red Sox' lead over the Yankees since the beginning of the season, and generated a simple graph showing what has happened.

What the Yankees are doing in the standings is taking a step forward and a step back.

Which is basically what the Red Sox are doing, except instead of doing it every two weeks, we're doing it every day. Game results since the All-Star break have gone win-loss-win-loss-win-loss. Ugh. Combine that with a three-game losing street preceded by a four-game winning streak prior to the All-Star Break and you have a continuation of June.

Theo had better be working on a shake-up trade before the deadline.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

Should the Sox worry?...NO! They have an eight game buffer. If they were five back they wouldn't need to worry. The have the better team by far this year. The Yankees are in shambles. Pettitte had a nice outing but Clemens hasn't been great and without the pitching, the Sox are safe.

BeegcellentBaseball


Thursday, July 05, 2007

  Congratulations Red Sox All-Stars

The Red Sox will bring six players to next week's MLB All-Star Game in San Francisco. That's more than any other team this year.

David Ortiz was voted by the fans as the starting first baseman. Pitchers Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon were selected by the AL team manager and coaches. Outfielder Manny Ramirez and third baseman Mike Lowell were chosen as reserves by their peers. And the fans picked Hideki Okajima for the final roster spot in voting that ended earlier this evening.

Each and every one of them deserves this honor.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

It was a Great Voting Campaign, especially by Texting A5 to 36197(Okajima)


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

  All-Star Analysis: Final Vote

In case you missed the news, the All-Star rosters were announced last weekend. The Red Sox will send at least five players to San Francisco next week. Here are all the American League All-Stars as of now:

One of the following pitchers will also make the roster via the fans' Final Vote program:


Because Final Vote ballots can be cast through 6:00pm Eastern time on Thursday, I will begin my analysis on the 2007 American League All-Star team with a look at the five candidates.

Bonderman, Escobar, and Halladay are starters, so in terms of appearances and innings pitched, it's like comparing apples and oranges. But the performance stats and per-inning numbers are telling. Okajima has by far the best earned run average, 0.88 compared to Neshek's 1.34 with the others all above 3.00. Okajima also leads the field in opponents' slugging average with a measley .191. Neshek has the edge in opponents' batting average at .197 to Okajima's .212. (No, I haven't figured out yet how the slugging average can be lower than the batting average, but I'll work on it and report back.) Neshek also beats out Okajima in WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) 0.69 to 0.78. Bonderman is the clear leader in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 4.24, ahead of Neshek (4.08), Okajima (3.70), Halladay (3.61), and Escobar (2.86)

Just because the pitching roster is already loaded with starters, it seems sensible to go with a reliever for the final spot. Okajima and Neshek match up fairly well, but I give Okajima the edge because of the rock-bottom ERA.


Coming Monday evening: a look at first base.

Addendum: Obviously, I never got around to any further All-Star analysis. And since the All-Star game is over, I won't bother.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0


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