Friday, February 29, 2008

We're underway!

4:05 Hydrocodone is a hell of a drug.

4:06 Boof Bonser does look svelte. And I don't think that's the drugs talking.

4:07 Why is Julio Lugo batting leadoff? I hope Bill James addresses this in the 60 Minutes interview.

4:something Mastsuzaka gets out of innings one and two by inducing double plays. No control problems. All signs point towards a Beckett-like domination of the American League in year two. His new arsenal of pitches was simply dazzling. He will probably win 30 games. At least.

4:36 I need some pudding.

4:37 MLB TV is failing me. Switching over to WRKO.

4:38 Jon Rish and Joe Castig are talking about this. I fight the urge to switch back to NESN.

4:41
Rish notes that Hideki Okajima looks to have bulked up in the off season. Joe Castig notes that Buscher is not a good name for ballplayer (you know, the "bush league" connotation and whatnot). Chuckles all around.

4:58 Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey is showing me something.

5:02 Youk goes yard with a two run dong. Athletes Performance is paying off already! Or perhaps it's the intense ping pong training. Either way Youk is on pace for a huge season.

5:04 Tek makes it back to back dongs and we're on our way. Sorry Slowey, it would appear I jinxed your ass.

5:10 Slowey has unraveled with two walks after the two dongs. Gardenhire makes the call for Nathan. Remy: "Well, they're gonna ask Nathan to get them 15 outs in this game." It's the Mayor's Cup. Throw pitch count out the window.

5:12 The Twins did not bring in Nathan after all. They brought in Bryan Bass. Hey, it's spring training for Remy and Orsillo, too. Oh, by the way I switched back to NESN. I'm a sucker for pictures.

5:16 You know what else I'm a sucker for? Pudding! Garçon, another round please!

5:18 A Jed Lowrie sighting. He's in at short for Lugo. The Twins get to see what they're missing out on. Timlin sets down the side in order. Fourth inning over.

5:29 Pedroia gunned down at home plate. Yup, still slow. Clearly his Athletes Performance training was all for naught. Great throw by the young centerfielder. Torii who?

5:30 Non-roster invitee Gil Valazquez drives in non-roster invitee Joe Thurston! 4-0. Remy: "Great to see the young guys coming through." Both Thurston and Velazquez are 28. I love how sometimes "young" is synonymous with "non-roster invitee who I have never heard of."

5:42 An inning later Kottaras hits a double down the right field line off Joe Nathan. Do I smell backup catcher controversy? No? How about we start a grassroots movement.

5:45 Crispus Attucks drives in Kottaras with a single up the middle. 5-0. Carlos Gomez, the aforementioned young Twins centerfielder, makes a wild throw home allowing Crisp to advance to second. Oh how they miss Torii Hunter.

5:53 Nice AB by Lowrie against Joe Nathan. Worked the count full and drew a walk. Nathan did not look terribly sharp but still managed to strike out the side.

5:58 Brian Buscher just went yard off of Tavarez. 5-1. "How do you like my surname now, Joe Castig?!!??!"

6:00 Brandon Moss boots the ball in his first chance at first base. This looks to be more moot than before. Oh well.

6:04 More drugs for me. Note: This development is unrelated to Moss's error.

6:31 Ah, it's the bottom of the 8th and Dan Kolb, one of gents in contention for a spot in the bullpen, is on the mound. Let's see what he's got.

6:38 The good news: Kolb looked okay, getting two batters to ground out after surrendering a leadoff single. He then walked a batter and followed that up by inducing another ground ball for the final out of the inning. The less good news: The first four batters Kolb faced wore numbers 79, 80, 68 and 77. The awesome news: On the second out of the inning Kolb covered first base flawlessly—clearly he's been taking spring training drills seriously.

6:46 Remy is impressed with Joe Thurston's wheels. Frankly, so am I. Alas, it was a groundout. Still, a 2-for-3 night for the Pawtucket-bound Thurston.

6:51 Three-run blast for Kottaras! 8-1. George is the star of the game with his four RBI. Somewhere (very likely at the Fort Myers Bennigan's) Doug Mirabelli just pooped his pants. The grassroots movement is picking up steam. Where there are not spring training story lines we shall invent spring training story lines! "Varitek-Kottaras 2008" bumper stickers coming right up!

6:59 Rally time! Two out, two run single in the bottom of the 9th and the score is 8-3.

7:00 Minnesota farmhand Tommy Watkins K's and the game is over. Sox win game one of the five game series. In the history of the Mayor's Cup the team that takes the first game is 13-12* in the series, so obviously this is a huge W.

7:01 This is the last time I blog an entire game. Not sure why I did it, not sure there's anything worth reading here. But the drugs were fun and the pudding, delicious.

*No.

Something to remember me by


Roberto Clemente is my hero.

Today's Agenda

Before we get started, today's forecast: Snow, With a Chance of Orsillo and some passing parasites. It's Mayor's Cup Opening Day and I plan to celebrate in grand style!

Today's Agenda

All times PST
8:23 AM
Compose post detailing today's agenda, complete with wisdom tooth extraction, heavy drug abuse, and live blogging of Game 1 of Mayor's Cup 2008.

8:26 AM
Post something for you to remember me by in case I don't make it out of surgery.

9:30 AM
Have four wisdom teeth extracted.

9:31 AM
Ingest copious amounts of drugs.

9:32 AM - 4:oo PM
Convalesce.

4:05 PM - Infinity
Convalesce while live blogging Game 1 of Mayor's Cup 2008 while high as a kite while eating Snack Packs and Jell-O.

In other health-related news:
Colon seems stronger than expected!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Let the games begin!

Well, it all starts tomorrow, folks. This is why they've been training hard all off season. The title defense begins now. Yes, friends, I speak of the coveted Mayor's Cup and game 1 of the 5 game series with crosstown rival, the Minnesota Twins. It's hard to imagine but the Mayor's Cup was not always the hottest ticket in town. Nope, in fact it was only quite recently that the series 'officially' began.

That said, the Mayor's Cup does have deep historical roots. In the spring of 1910 the Boston Pilgrims and the St. Paul Doublets faced off in a bitter turf war for Hot Springs, Arkansas, supremacy. It seems there was not enough Hot Spring to go around. One afternoon little-used Boston infielder Doc Moskiman got into a shouting match beside the Springs with Doublets center fielder Percy Staunton shortly after Staunton had absconded with the Pilgrim's bath robe. Moskiman was left with nary a garment to cover his loins and several Doublets in the vicinity made sport of his plight. Tempers flared, a wager was made, games were played, and in the end the Doublets took the series in 17 games. The Pilgrims were banished to Redondo Beach, California, for Spring Training 1911. So concludes the first chapter in the legend of the Mayor's Cup.

Red Sox Spring Training Homes 1901-Present
1901 Charlottesville, Virginia
1902 Augusta, Georgia
1903-1906 Macon, Georgia
1907-1908 Little Rock, Arkansas
1909-1910 Hot Springs, Arkansas
1911 Redondo Beach, California
1912-1918 Hot Springs, Arkansas
1919 Tampa, Florida
1920-1923 Hot Springs, Arkansas
1924 San Antonio, Texas
1925-1927 New Orleans, Louisiana
1928-1929 Bradenton, Florida
1930-1931 Pensacola, Florida
1932 Savannah, Georgia
1933-1942 Sarasota, Florida
1943 Medford, Massachusetts
1944 Baltimore, Maryland
1945 Pleasantville, New Jersey
1946-1958 Sarasota, Florida
1959-1965 Scottsdale, Arizona
1966-1992 Winter Haven, Florida
1993-Present Fort Myers, Florida

A few notes of interest:
Four World Series titles in seven seasons of training in Hot Springs and they decide to pack up and leave the Valley of the Vapors for Tampa? There's your curse! I kid. Maybe. Why turn your back on the natural healing powers of the Hot Springs? There must be more to this story. Please also note those World War II years when the Sox trained in Medford, Baltimore, and Pleasantville. A third note of interest, the Sox traitorously joined the Cactus League for seven years from '59-'65.

This is the last we will speak of this

I refuse to believe this is real:

Along with vice president of [redacted] Rob Crawford, Remy was issued an oath of office by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The oath contained the following: "I, Jerry Remy, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of
[redacted]. I pledge to be true to the game, true to our fans and, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and promote all that is great about the beloved sport of baseball and the Boston Red Sox."

Remember when they had a debate? Yeah, that was a sad day for us all—and by "us" I mean baseball fans everywhere. The only saving grace from that whole affair was the fact that Sam Horn had a dais all his own. I like Sam Horn a lot, if for no other reason than because he epitomizes the can-do spirit of America. Tough start to his career but then in a brilliant money-making scheme he outsourced himself to Taiwan! He then achieved great levels of fame by riding the coattails of an Internet message board all the way to a presidential bid. You must respect that. We map out his career trajectory thusly:

  • Red Sox first round pick
  • Fails as a Major League Baseball prospect
  • Relocates to Taiwan where he becomes the highest paid player in the history of the Taiwan Major League
  • Opens batting cages in East Greewaich, Rhode Island
  • Popular Red Sox message board is named after him
  • Hired to work alongside NESN studio host Tom Caron in what can only be described as an effort to add comic relief
  • Says "ka-pow" a lot
  • Runs for president of [redacted]
  • Then, in what is clearly the highlight of his career, this ad gets placed in USA Today
  • Loses election to Remy
What a country!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2008 Preview: Shortstops

Name: Julio Cesar Lugo
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Age: 32
2008 Salary: $9M
Fun Fact: Lugo, a town in northern Italy, is the birthplace of Charles Ponzi, who is remembered as one of the greatest swindlers in American history. In 2007 Lugo pulled off a swindle that would make Ponzi blush when he earned $8 million for being the 27th best shortstop in baseball.

Look, I don't want to write about Julio Lugo any more than you want to read about him. What is it you don't like about him? Is it his scowling face, his incessant cup adjusting, the strange way he uses his arms when he runs, or the fact that he had the worst year of his career in the first year of a 4 year, $36 million contract?

Lugo's .643 OPS in 2007 was forty points behind Alex Cora. It's never good to be forty points behind a hitter who is commonly referred to as "pesky." Lugo's numbers were far better post-All Star break (.280/.322/.406) but not so hot that we could label his regular season anything less than an abject failure.

Am I being too negative? Now for the good news! Lugo is entering the season with a lot more confidence! Also, he makes funny faces. I don't know what this is but I can't stop laughing. Is that Enrique Wilson? Oh dear, that's not enough good news for you, is it? Lugo had a .500 OBP in the World Series. Lugo is fast. Lugo has a strong arm. Lugo, scowly countenance aside, is charismatic and popular in the clubhouse. Lugo has made a full recovery from the stomach parasites that plagued him last season. Lugo only has three years left on his contract....

Julio Lugo
's 2008 ZiPS projection:
.267 AVG/.335 OBP/.382 SLG
77 Runs
144 Hits
35 Doubles
7 Home Runs
62 RBI
52 BB
96 K

Other options at shortstop:
Alex Cora: An adequate utility infielder. We discussed him here.

Jed Lowrie: 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year with questionable range (he's been compared to Carlos Guillen), strong plate discipline, and decent pop. Lowrie's name was a constant in the various permutations of the Johan Santana trade rumors. Baseball America rates him as the 5th best prospect in the International League. He'll spend the year at Pawtucket unless Lugo or Pedroia end up on the shelf for an extended period.

Argenis Diaz: This fellow is on the 40-man roster and apparently he's a slick-fielding, slap-hitting, inconsistent 21-year-old.

Comedian in Chief

On Manny Ramirez:
"Sorry ... Manny Ramirez isn't here, I guess his grandmother died again."

On Jonathan Papelbon:
"Guy pitches as well as he dances. And I appreciate the dress code. Thanks for wearing pants."

On Daisuke Matsuzaka:
"His press corps is bigger than mine. And we both have trouble answering questions in English."

George Walker Bush! He'll be here all wee- err, rather until noon on January 20, 2009. But who's counting....

Catchers Club Outcast

In Gordon Edes nice little profile of young Sox catcher, Zak Farkes, we get an inside look at the Backstop Diner's Club of Fort Myers:

"It's not really what they talk about," said Zak Farkes, who was making his first appearance at a Varitek soiree. "It's what Doug Mirabelli wants to talk about. It was pretty much Dougie telling stories, trying to bait Jason into talking a bit, but mostly him running the show, holding court."

Young man's got the media speak down cold. I suppose that's what a Harvard education brings you. That's about as politely as I've ever heard someone described as a loud mouth jerk. You ever get the impression that Varitek hates Mirabelli but is too polite to say anything about it? By all accounts they're chummy but I don't buy it. Tek tolerates him for the good of the team.

Zak Farkes after a swallow of truth serum:

"It's not really what they talk about," said Zak Farkes, who was making his first appearance at a Varitek soiree. "It's what Doug Mirabelli, that fat $#@&, wants to jabber on about. It was pretty much Dougie telling stupid stories, like the one about the time he almost nailed a Hooters waitress in Pensacola that we've already heard dozens of times, trying to get Jason to play along, but mostly him flapping his lips, hitting on a group of twentysomethings at the next table over even they clearly weren't interested (I think they were actually dudes with long hair, I don't really remember, we were all pretty blitzed), and drinking Bud Light after Bud Light. What a dick."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Know Thy Enemy: Minnesota Twins

"Know Thy Enemy: Minnesota Twins" is first in a twenty-eight part series that will take you, dear readers, all around this glorious nation of ours in order to offer you an inside look at the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of every club in the majors that does not play in the Bronx or the Fens. But Ben, you say, you and that Bryan fellow know virtually nothing about the other teams; you're so busy playing with your Big Papi bobbleheads and scouring the Internet for nude photos of Hazel Mae that you couldn't possibly have time to keep tabs on the opposition. Aha! That's just it, we're not authoring these pearls of wisdom. Nope, instead we're turning to a distinguished panel of experts, some of the finest minds in their respective fan bases. I am sure you'll be impressed by their wit and wisdom. And with that, take it away, Minnesota Twins Bureau Chief Andy Reinsch!

Q: Why should anybody outside of Minnesota be interested in a Twins team without Torii Hunter and Johan Santana?

A: They probably shouldn't. While their success can remain an open question, the organization is likely more concerned with fielding a good team than one that the semi-literate hordes who keep Baseball Tonight on the air would find worthy of their attention. That said, Liriano's coming back.

Q: I remember that Liriano fellow. He was pretty good. What's going on with him?

A: He's now well more than a year out from Tommy John surgery, and has been cleared to join the regular pitching staff in preparation for the 2008 season. Ron Gardenhire has announced his intentions to "baby" Liriano, so there may not be more than 150 innings worth of opportunity to watch him in 2008. But with Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projecting a 3.42 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning, he may still be worth watching.

Q: That's not a whole lot of innings. I assume they've bothered to employ other pitchers?

A: In point of fact, they have. After Livan Hernandez, 2008's adventure in stout veterans, Minnesota's oldest starter will be 26. At the moment, the most plausible rotation features 24 year olds Kevin Slowey and Francisco Liriano, 26 year olds Boof Bonser and Scott Baker, and Hernandez. The bullpen remains largely intact, and could gain some stability with a healthy return by Jesse Crain from shoulder surgery.

Q: I don't know who any of those people are. Can you at least assure me that one of them is "in the best shape of his life"?

A: Indeed I can. During a regrettable sophomore campaign resulting in an 85 ERA+, Boof Bonser was repeatedly criticized for his conditioning and weight. Early returns say he's lost around 30 of last season's listed weight of 260. Having seen him personally at TwinsFest in January, I can confirm that he is noticeably thinner. He's still got a fat guy's name to match his fat guy goatee though.

Q: You haven't captured my interest yet. What about these position battles you mentioned?

A: Brendan Harris, imported from Tampa Bay with Delmon Young and Jason Pridie, will compete for the second base job with semi-incumbents Nick Punto and Alexi Casilla. Harris offers a real offensive upgrade over Punto and Casilla, but as is common with any new player, Harris' ability to conform to the "say the black, do the red" attitude towards Spring Training's unique liturgy will be more important to Ron Gardenhire than it probably should.

Q: Don't they need a CFer too?

A: Spring Training holds a three-way competition for the spot between Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, and Jason Pridie. All three would be adequate flycatchers, and each has some appeal. But Gomez needs further time in the minor leagues to develop both his power and his plate discipline. And Span's hot finish to 2007 still hasn't marked him as an MLB starter. Jason Pridie is, so far, the only of the three to really hit AAA pitching, with a .318/.375/.539 in 274 PAs at AAA Durham in 2007. I think he'd be the best choice for starting CFer on Opening Day and though tepid, ZiPS endorses my position.

Q: Tossing it around in my head, that doesn't look like much of a lineup.

A: The appropriate question would be, "Is this the 718 run offense of 2007 that lost its only regular to slug over .500 or is it the 801 run offense of 2006 that retains its young, talented core?". For every talented offensive player, 2007 had a corresponding sinkhole of outs that could be monstrously upgraded with only an average offensive performer. Handing the 3B job to Mike Lamb, the 2B job to Brendan Harris, and installing Kubel and Young as LF/DH regulars all offer marked improvement. But it's a young lineup and the on-base talent necessary to really make the lineup really go is scarce. I think 760 runs is a reasonable, if optimistic, outlook for the 2008 lineup.

Q: So where does that leave the team? Make a prediction?

A: Even with Santana's loss, I think the return of Liriano, the development of Baker, Slowey and Bonser, and a more stable bullpen will keep the team in the upper third of AL staffs. If they allow 750 runs, this will look like an 82 win team.

Andy Reinsch is a Twins fan presently living in Chicago. He named his cat after Lew Ford and believes the entire baseball world would be different if Corey Koskie's ground-rule double in game 2 of the 2004 ALDS had stayed in the park.

Bonds to Rays?

This exciting news was greeted by different people in a number of different ways.

If you’re a casual baseball fan the first reaction is of course laughter.

If you're one of those chumps with a Red Sox blog the first reaction is, "Please, God, make this happen."

If you’re an indignant white man the reaction comes in the form of an exceedingly clever quip like, “Tampa Bay lost the Devil in the off season so it’s only fitting they replace him with Barry Bonds.”

If you’re Ken Rosenthal, you’re not likely to pen a “Clemens playing in ’08 would be bad for baseball” column anytime soon.

But, if you are, like me, a keen baseball mind who is all too aware of subtle shifts in power in the American League East, your first reaction is likely, “Yes, if these Rays get 100 games from Bonds at DH they really could compete for the Wild Card.” Well, maybe not just yet. But look, strong defense all over the diamond, two emerging top-flight starting pitchers in Kazmir and Shields, 19 games against the Baltimore Orioles, the tantalizing Evan Longoria at third, tremendous speed in the outfield with Crawford, Upton, and Baldelli, not to mention Cornelius Clifford Floyd backing up Bonds at DH. Oh well, more to come on the Rays when our house expert chimes in with an all-encompassing season preview in the days to come.

My second reaction was one I’m sure I share with many: “Oh my, this acquisition would really shake things up on the Rays all-time roster. To wit:

Carl Crawford
Wade Boggs
Barry Bonds
Jose Canseco
Fred McGriff
Carlos Peña
Damion Easley
Charles Johnson
Ozzie Guillen

On the mound? Dwight Gooden of course!

Bryan: You forgot Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus, righteous indignation that Bonds has not been yet signed (subs required). We get it Joe: Barry Bonds is still good. Your articles have made their point. Really. We know. No, I'm serious: we get it. Nobody's arguing with you. Can we move on?

Monday, February 25, 2008

2008 Preview: Third Basemen

Name: Michael Averett Lowell
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Age: 34
2008 Salary: $12.5M
Fun Fact: Mike Lowell shares his middle name with a small university in Virginia whose affiliation with the Baptist church ended following a disagreement over a student group's gay pride event. Don't worry, Mike Lowell is totally not a Baptist. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

A year ago at this time Sox fans were still debating the wisdom of a proposed Todd Helton for Mike Lowell swap. Some welcomed the trade, citing Lowell’s woeful 2005 (.236/.298/.360) and his struggles in the second half of 2006 (.257/.315/.424). Others were keen on retaining Lowell, citing his defensive prowess and Helton’s own, albeit less severe, decline. As it turns out the 34-year-old third baseman had a career year in 2007, setting personal bests in hits (191), RBI (120), batting average (.324), and on-base percentage (.378).

Late last season it became trendy to say that Mike Lowell was the Sox MVP. That was misguided and a clear indication that we took Big Papi and his 1.066 OPS largely for granted. My minor quibble aside, there is no denying that there were stretches last season, particularly in the early going, when Mike Lowell seemed to be driving in every crucial Sox run. Add to that the World Series MVP and I think Sox fans are quite content to have Lowell in the fold for another three years.

In the early stages of Spring Training the only talk surrounding Mike Lowell seems be about his budding ping-pong rivalry with Dustin Pedroia and his thoughts concerning regime change in his ancestral homeland.

Mike Lowell's 2008 ZiPS projection:
.272 AVG/.333 OBP/.429 SLG
70 Runs
150 Hits
40 Doubles
15 Home Runs
64 RBI
50 BB
63 K

Other third base options:
Kevin Youkilis: We discussed him here. He can play third and play it adequately. This was not a case where a guy gets sent across the diamond because he can't hack it at third—Hi, Hinske! In his career Youk has played 118 games at third and made 11 errors. Not too snaby. Oh and he blogs. Or used to blog. We'll have to wait and see.

Alex Cora: We discussed him here. Youk is obviously the first option. Cora has precious little experience at third but he can fill in on a day when both Lowell and Youkilis can't go and the results would not be disastrous.

Tito's Back

Three more years!
Three more years!
Three more years!
uh...
Three more years!
Three more years!
Three more years!

And so it begins...

When I said, 'unlimited potential for unintentional newspaper headline comedy,' I really meant it.

Sox don't confirm a deal on fragile Colon

Bryan: A fragile colon?

Ben: Now this from a few days ago, "Guillen leaves door slightly open on Colon." Sounds messy. Also, "Report of interest in Colon has strong whiff of implausibility." Implausibility and...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Recasting the Best Picture nominees

No Country for Old Men
Sheriff Ed Tom Bell: A laconic, soon-to-retire small-town sheriff.
Mike Timlin: The guy’s seen it all and he’s got four World Series rings to show for it. You’d like to see him ease his way into retirement but then you’re in the ALCS and the Indians have two runners on with nobody out and the elderly righty gets the call to pick up the slack for his struggling partners.

Llewelyn Moss: A man who flees with $2 million in drug money he finds in the desert.
Craig Hansen: Young man got his $1.3 million signing bonus and while he did not flee he’s hardly been heard from since.

Anton Chigurh: An assassin hired to recover the drug money.
Jonathan Papelbon: Probably more nuts that Chigurh. Thankfully he just breaks batters' spirits rather than their skulls. Although he has not been asked to recover Hansen’s signing bonus he has filled the closer role originally slated for Hansen rather adequately.


There Will Be Blood

Daniel Plainview: An obsessive loner who hits it big in California's turn-of-the-20th-century oil rush.
J.D. Drew: He’s a loner and five years, $70 million = striking oil.

Eli Sunday: A charismatic evangelical preacher and faith healer.
David Ortiz: A charismatic evangelical preacher and faith healer.


Michael Clayton

Arthur Edens: An eccentric and brilliant lawyer who suffers a mental/existential breakdown.
Manny Ramirez: An eccentric and brilliant hitter who is due for another "episode" in which he demands a trade.

Michael Clayton: The fixer.
Scott Boras: Scary thought, eh?


Juno

Juno MacGuff: A pregnant teen.
Bartolo Colon: Yeah, I said it.

Paul Bleeker: Michael Cera
Nobody replaces Michael Cera.


Atonement
No, they'd have trouble with the accents and there's nothing I hate more than bad British accents. I'm looking at you, Costner.

Sox sign Bartolo Colon

Minor league deal. I like it! No risk and potential for minor rewards. In the next several weeks Colon's got to show that he can be far better than he's been the past two seasons if he wants to leave Fort Myers on the 25-man roster. But if he is in any kind of shape to pitch every fifth day (and how couldn't we have serious doubts about that) it would allow the Sox to be more cautious with young Buchholz.

I think the only real concern here is if you're the dude in the clubhouse who stocks in the in-game snacks. Because that job just got a whole lot more difficult. Colon's rapidly expanding waistline aside, when healthy he has a rubber arm and he's only 34 (staggeringly). It's been a rapid decline for Colon over the last two years: A Cy Young in 2005, 10 starts in 2006 with a 5.11 ERA, and then in 2007 19 starts with a 6.34 ERA. Red flags abound, but I like it. Low expectations, zero risk, and unlimited potential for unintentional newspaper headline comedy. For example, 'Yankees hammer Colon,' 'Colon ripped by Rays,' 'Colon battered by Blue Jays,' and, the pièce de résistance, 'Royals get a taste of Angels' Colon.'

Saturday, February 23, 2008

2008 Preview: First Basemen Recount

Name: Brandon Douglas Moss
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Age: 24
2008 salary: $390,000
Fun Fact: Moss wore number 44 last season; this season he wears 55. If he continues at this pace Moss will be wearing number 253 when his career concludes in 2026.

Brandon Moss has been working out at first base. I post this nugget in lieu of giving the first base preview a re-write. If Moss can hack it at first he would be a better bench option than Sean Casey. Yes, I know that the boys can hardly contain their excitement about having someone as nice as Casey in the clubhouse. I don't discount the importance of "clubhouse harmony" but let's talk about baseball. Moss's ability to play the outfield would give the bench a great deal more versatility than Casey could offer. Furthermore, his presence would make Bobby Kielty expendable and would allow the Sox to avoid filling a roster spot with a fifth outfielder, thus enabling them to keep a additional arm in the bullpen. Essentially, Moss would be the '08 version of Eric Hinske, only he'd be better. Moss has sported a nice OBP throughout his minor league career and plays an above average outfield. The strikeouts are a bit of a problem (148 for Moss at Pawtucket last season) but so too is Casey's diminishing potency. Of course, this is all moot because the job is clearly Casey's. I remain intrigued.

Manny Signs With Boras: The Conversation

Scott Boras: Hi Manny, my name is Scott.
Manny: Hi Scott.
Boras: Do you want to sign with me?
Manny: Sure.

I mean seriously, what else would there be?


Ben: Hmmm, I had imagined the conversation going totally differently. Here's how I saw it:


Scott Boras: Hi Manny, my name is Scott.
Manny: Hi Scott.
Boras: Do you want to sign with me?
Manny: Will you represent Eno Guerrero, too?
Boras: Sure.
Manny: Okay.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

2008 Preview: Second Basemen

The year is 2007; the month is May. Alex Cora is batting over .400, Dustin Pedroia under .200. Red Sox fans, displaying a characteristic lack of patience, demand a change in the starting lineup. The clamoring for Cora grows so strong that a series of articles begin popping up that seem to assume Cora will become the starter in a matter of days. That's the solution to our problems: Alex F'ing Cora.

The year is 2008; the month is February. Having finished last season with a .298 OBP and 3 home runs, Alex Cora returns to a familiar role: light-hitting utility infielder with a great glove. Reigning rookie of the year and World Series standout, Dustin Pedroia, is firmly entrenched as the Sox starting second baseman.


Name: Dustin Luis Pedroia
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Age: 24
2008 salary: $420,000
Fun Fact: Dustin Pedroia's hometown, Woodland, California, is sister cities with La Piedad, Mexico. La Piedad is the birthplace of Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Yovani Gallardo. Pedroia and Gallardo are sisters.

You know what's most impressive about Dustin Pedroia's 2007 season? The strikeouts. In 520 at-bats he had only 42 of them. To put that in perspective, among the regulars Mike Lowell had the second lowest strikeout total with 71, four Sox batters had more than 100 K's. Not bad for a rookie. Add to that a .317 average, 39 doubles, only 6 errors in 1,141 innings, and intangibles to burn and you've got one hell of a young second baseman. And he's making damn near the league minimum!

We should have no concern about a sophomore slump. For one, this off season Pedroia joined Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, and Kyle Snyder at Athletes' Performance in Arizona. So we know he'll be fit. Meanwhile, his attitude couldn't be less of a concern—the guy will probably be named the captain the second Varitek retires (presuming, of course, that by this point Papi has also... assuming that ever happens). Pedroia is the bridge between the 2004 group and the core group of the future. He stepped right in as the attitudinal surrogate for the departed Trot Nixon.

Dustin Pedroia's 2008 ZiPS projection:
.292 AVG/.359 OBP/.431 SLG
75 Runs
160 Hits
44 Doubles
10 Home Runs
62 RBI
51 BB
43 K
42 Times being compared to David Eckstein, but better

Name: José Alexander Cora
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Age: 32
2008 salary: $2M
Fun Fact: Alex Cora is not a member of the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association. Surprisingly, he is a member of the Congress of Romanian Americans.

Tough conclusion to the off season for Mr. Cora. Other than, well, I'm stumped. Honestly, Alex Cora may very well the least remarkable player in the majors. We're talking about a player whose career highlight is probably his 18 pitch at-bat against former Red Sox all star(!) Matt Clement, in which Cora fouled off 14 consecutive pitches before blasting a 2-2 pitch out of the ballpark. I like him just fine, but what can one say about the slap hitter who's good with glove other than that he's a slap hitter who's good with the glove?

Well, for one he's a great bunter. You do remember what a bunt is, right, Red Sox fans? Furthermore Cora has the ability to play both second base and shortstop and play them exquisitely. He can play third base adequately and first base in a pinch. Also, he's the emergency catcher. Cora is a valuable guy to have around and last season he came up with some big hits late in ball game, especially during that hot stretch of his early in the season. My one knock on him is that it would be nice to have a utility infielder who could offer some element of speed off the bench.

Alex Cora's 2008 ZiPS projection:
.241 AVG/.311 OBP/.330 SLG
27 Runs
49 Hits
8 Doubles
2 Home Runs
21 RBI
13 BB
23 K
Countless shots of him mugging it up with Manny

Other second base options:
Keith Ginter: 31 year-old non-roster invitee has not appeared in the majors since 2005 when he logged 25 games at second base for the Oakland Athletics. He hit .247 with 15 homers and 62 RBI last season for the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate, Buffalo, last season.

Joe Thurston: 28 year-old non-roster invitee did not appear in the majors last season. Thurston was originally drafted by the Red Sox in 1997 but did not sign. Last season Thurston hit
.301 with five homers and 61 RBI between Philadelphia's Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.

Jed Lowrie: Hot shot prospect who currently plays shortstop but may be better suited for second base. He struggled mightily in the Arizona Fall League and likely won't see any major league action until September when the roster expands.

Joe Posnanski

Friends of Me and Pedro Down By the Ballpark,

Hi!

How are you doing?

We'll soon be starting a series, entitled "Know Thy Enemy," introducing you to the other 28 teams in the game, and their hopes and dreams for the season. (A certain navy blue-and-white team will not be included in this series.) For this series, we have contacted the great Joe Posnanski in the hopes he will write a Royals preview.

We are serious about this.

Until then, enjoy Zip Jones.

Ben: Zip Jones, Boston's biggest only JD Drew fan.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Haiku Review

Schilling breaks silence
Says he'll follow Sox orders
We all await Clay


Pen has open spot?
Competition is quite fierce?
Not this year, methinks


Papelbon checks in
Says he hunts with Eli M.
Please hold Cheney jokes


Wake says he's healthy
It's too bad that "healthy" means
More Mirabelli


"I'm never leaving"
Says catcher Mirabelli
Please, please, please, please go


New pitch for Okie?
Crafty lefty befuddles
Bats rendered useless

Happy President's Day

Friday, February 15, 2008

2008 Preview: First Basemen

Name: Kevin Edmund Youkilis
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Age: 28
2008 salary: $3M
Fun Fact: Wikipedia says, "Youkilis had one line in the 1994 romantic comedy Milk Money" which was shot in Cincinnati and starred Melanie Griffith as a hooker with a heart of gold."

In his second season as the Red Sox full-time first baseman, Kevin Youkilis earned a World Series ring, a Gold Glove*, and the distinction of having the most potent sweat glands in Boston since Hall of Fame shoo-in Patrick Ewing was soaking the floorboards at Cambridge Rindge and Latin. Perhaps it is those overactive sweat glands that are to blame for Youk's severe post-all star break drop-off. His average dipped from .328 in the first half to .238 in the second half and his OPS fell from .921 to .747. While his drop in home runs and RBI was not nearly so pronounced, Youk's strike outs shot up from 40 in 293 ABs in the first half of the season to 65 in 235 ABs in the second half. Recognizing that he wore down in the dog days of summer, this off season Youkilis joined fellow Red Sox Dustin Pedroia, Manny Ramirez and Kyle Snyder at Athletes Performance, a state-of-the-art training facility in Arizona. He arrives at spring training a very bad man, and $3 million richer.

Youkilis offers versatility in the field. He's able to spell Mike Lowell at third base and can play a bit of left field in a pinch. As made famous in Moneyball, he is a master of working the count and drawing walks. His approach at the plate seems to have gotten under the skin of the Yankees, who dislike him and have made a practice of throwing baseballs aimed at his body. And sometimes his head. Frankly, I can see why he might rub the opposition the wrong way. Something in the way he carries himself. I suppose in this respect (and I mean this in the kindest way possible) he's the Red Sox version of Jorge Posada. The Yankee hate makes my appreciation for him all the more resolute.

*Youkilis was the Gold Glove winner on the strength of an absurd errorless games streak. I know I'm partial to unnecessary theatrics when I say that I consider his two finest moments in the field to be his flawless handlings of Julian Tavarez's lawn bowling escapade.

Kevin Youkilis's 2008 ZiPS projection:
.286 AVG/.388 OBP/.444 SLG
79 Runs
136 Hits
35 Doubles
12 Home Runs
69 RBI
71 BB
100 K

Name: Sean Thomas Casey
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Age: 33
2008 salary: $700,000
Fun Fact: Sean Casey is the Mayor of Casterbridge.

Sean Casey is destined to be a fan favorite. White, slow, affable, and rarely utilized are a killer combo. There's a reason he brings with him a moniker like "The Mayor." As long as we're on the subject of his nickname, I'd like to state that we need a NESN ad featuring Casey and Tom Menino and we need it now.*

In a former life Casey was a three-time all star with the Reds who had enough pop to get more than twenty balls out of the yard in multiple seasons but he is now on his last legs. And frankly, how could he run fast anyway when he's got babies to kiss and old ladies to hug? A career .301 hitter... with a career .366 OBP, last season Casey slugged a timid .393. A nice pinch hit option if you're hoping for a single, Casey is a a left handed batter who has hit .326 against left handed pitching over the past three seasons. While certainly a better fielding first baseman than Eric Hinske, and a more reliable hitter, the Sox do lose some versatility on their bench by replacing a man who can play multiple positions with a aged first baseman. Casey says it is a dream to play for the Sox and there's no doubt he'll bring a great attitude and be well liked in the clubhouse. Welcome to Boston, Sean Casey.

*I don't have NESN on my cable package, please tell me such an ad already exists.


Sean Casey
's 2008 ZiPS projection:
.283 AVG/.346 OBP/.388 SLG
46 Runs
116 Hits
25 Doubles
6 Home Runs
55 RBI
34 BB
48 K

Other first base options:
Carlos Peña: That's his name, right? That local kid who the Sox picked up off waivers a couple of years back. He's still somewhere in the system, right? Was it Portland last year? Anyway, I always liked him. Nice stroke from the left side.

Carlos Quintana: Laugh if you must, but Carlos is now fully recovered from the automobile accident that had him on the shelf for, oh, 14 seasons. He's back and in the best shape of his life. Why, just last week he won
the WBO welterweight crown.

David Ortiz: A solid option at first base during World Series play.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Advil, Coffee, Mangu and Egg















Still the best there ever was.

• "I dominated that era and I did it clean," he said. "I can stand by my numbers and I can be proud of them."

• "I wish that they would check every day. That's how bad I want the game to be clean," said Martinez, who had his best years with Montreal and Boston from 1997-2003. "I would rather go home [than] taint the game."

• "I have a small frame and when I hurt all I could do was take a couple of Aleve or Advil, a cup of coffee and a little mango and an egg -- and let it go!" he said.

Looking at the NYT article on Pedro today — after the Photoshopping was completed — he apparently said "mangu," a traditional Dominican dish (and not "mango," which ESPN reported), and which makes a little more sense, but that's harder to find a decent picture of mangu than a mango. So the mango stays. Plus, we know Pedro has a history with mangos. Some more highlights from that article:

• “I can breathe, you know what I mean? I can breathe. It’s like a big glass of cold water when you’re really thirsty. That’s how bad we wanted Johan.”

• "Every time I get the ball, it could be the fifth position, the sixth, anywhere you want to put me. When you give me the ball as a starter, I’m the ace that day. I’m the guy styling. I’m the guy everyone’s expecting to have fun, and that’s going to be me.”

Pitchers, Catchers and Memories

That's right: today was the day. Six weeks until REAL [EXPLETIVE] BASEBALL. I, for one, am ready to go now. But I'll have to wait.

The players are probably getting together tonight, curfew-free, at that Florida delicacy: the mini-golf course. I'm just kidding. They're probably drinking. But my memories of Florida, and Spring Training, are pretty much limited to a handful of stadiums and mini golf courses with names like Blackbeard's Cove and Pirate Adventure, littered along four-lane roads. We went to Spring Training when I was 10 — my mother, two younger brothers and I. And we loved mini golf. We played it as often as we wanted to, which was pretty damn near all the time between the games, it being the best time-filler this side of Disney World. Which we loved. The Spring Training trip, however, was about the baseball. Despite living just outside of D.C., we were Red Sox fans by dint of my having been born in Boston and indoctrinating the others. It wasn't hard, as the Orioles were going through a historically bad stretch at the time. We were there to see the Sox, and some other teams, but it quickly became a race to see as many games and play as much mini golf as possible.

I loved it. I was fascinated by the different pirate-themed courses; if my mom suggested with go to Captain Kidd's, I would suggest that we really try Treasure Island. There was always the chance that it was a lot better, and it was a chance I was willing to take. I thought there were probably thousands of people who knew exactly which course was better than the next, and I, a kid from up north, was wide-eyed at this world. I just wanted to fit in (it's a very silly thought in retrospect). Every intersection was thrilling, a new world with new places with the added advantage that I had a chance to beat my brothers on the course, or get really upset while failing to do so.

There were a lot of fights over mini golf. I probably won most of the games, given that my three-year age advantage over my next oldest brother was almost certainly at its most relevant, and my youngest brother was a peanut. Mom probably won a few as well. But when I lost, I probably set off chain reactions, predictable among three young boys and a single mom criss-crossing Central Florida in a minivan through strip malls and rickety baseball stadiums. Inevitably, a spark at one end of the car would lead to a blowup in the other. And just writing it now makes me realize what an absolute and unbelievable saint my mother was for doing all that. I don't think I can adequately describe to you what jerks we could be, and those trips were entirely for us. Spring Training? I'm fairly sure she hasn't been to a baseball game since. But I have. I've been to literally hundreds in stadiums everywhere, and the city to which we lived the nearest didn't even have a team at the time. I wonder what effect the Spring Training trip had on that. She was taking us on the trip, I think, so that we could feel "normal," but the long-term effects have been much stronger than that.

I love you, mom. And I love just thinking about that trip. But more than that, I love that hundreds of families just like ours are about to do what we did 20 years ago, some for the same reason we did: to feel normal. I'm ready for the games now, but I'm sure Blackbeard, and his legion of pint-sized, club-toting, sunburned followers, is not. It's time to make some memories.

Update from mom: It was the best trip ever. Seven games in seven days. You left out the water park. I think we ended up picking up Grandma at Great Grandma's and going back to Disney World on that trip. It was the one where we stayed at the Polynesian and Steven got the never ending Caribbean amphibian t-shirt, so big he wore it for about 10 years. Glad the investment paid off, not just on the shirt, but on the three of you and baseball. Note: I have been to a game since, chaperoned G's class one year at Fenway and JaJa took us girls once a year to Comiskey for a night game, so I had to carry on the tradition in some way.

Feel the love today

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Live Blogging the Live Blogging of the Clemens Hearings

Ben: This Just in! Roger Clemens not just a ballplayer, also a human being.

MORE TO COME.

Bryan: I'm skeptical, reading Jayson Stark's play-by-play:

Rep. Elijah Cummings started his questioning by making sure Clemens knew he was under oath -- "and you know what that means? Is that correct?"

"AFFIRMATIVE," the Rocket replied.

Rep. Cummings then praised Pettitte as being "one of the most respected players in the major leagues and one of the most honest people in baseball."

"AFFIRMATIVE," Clemens responded.

But when Cummings then confronted Clemens with Pettitte's testimony that the Rocket had told him he'd used HGH, and asked Clemens if this was true, Clemens gave him a stern, "NEGATIVE."

"So you did not tell Mr. Pettitte you used Human Growth Hormone?"

"NEGATIVE. ABORT SCRIPT," Clemens said.


--

Some more good stuff:

"Mr. Pettitte said he had 'no doubt' about his recollection. ... Why would he tell Congress that one of his closest friends was taking an illegal performance-enhancing drug if there was any doubt in his mind?"

• "If that conversation never happened, why would Laura Pettitte remember that conversation?"

• "What possible reason would Mr. Pettitte have to fabricate a statement about you, his friend?"

Clemens isn't looking at his sharpest and is getting HAMMERED (according to Stark). Reminds me of this. The real one, obviously:



--

We've switched over to CNNSI, just to switch it up. We've got an "AM I ON TV?" moment already, courtesy of Indiana Rep. Dan Burton:

"Burton concludes by saying he doesn't see evidence of Clemens lying and grills McNamee. "This is really disgusting. You are here as a sworn witness, and yet we have lie after lie after lie! I don't know what to believe! I know one thing I don't believe -- and that's you!"

Oh snap!

Burton is better known (or no longer known) as the guy who called President Clinton a "scumbag," then admitted he had a child out of wedlock. From Salon circa '98:


Earlier this year, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., the powerful head of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee and a major critic of both President Clinton's personal behavior and his campaign fund-raising techniques, startled the country by suddenly admitting that he had fathered a child out of wedlock.

At the time Burton said his announcement was due to an upcoming article about his personal life in Vanity Fair magazine. He also issued a challenge to reporters at that time: "As far as peccadilloes and all that stuff, man, they could go from dawn till dusk digging around trying to find out stuff about that ... There's nothing else to learn."

As it turned out, with perfect postmodern irony, Vanity Fair chose not to publish the exposé of Burton's behavior that prompted him to "out" himself. But as investigative reporter Russ Baker, the author of that unpublished article, discovered when he continued his inquiry, there was in fact a great deal more to learn about the congressman's behavior.


You can read the rest of the article
here.

--

Deadspin has this bit of gold:

Nothing will ever beat this:
Congressman: "Mr. Clemens, do you recall bleeding through your pants in 2001?"
Clemens: "I do not."
Well, that's a relief.


--

Back to Stark for a second:

"Since he's under oath, any chance one of these Congressmen could ask Roger what the heck actually happened when he threw that bat at Mike Piazza? He didn't really think that was the ball, did he?"

NEGATIVE!

--

According to the NYT's Bats blog, our Congressmen are not up-to-date with the rules of the Hall of Fame:

In clearly the most befuddling question of the morning so far, Representative William Macy Clay, Democrat of Missouri, asked Mr. Clemens “what uniform you will wear into the Hall of Fame.”

Clemens hesitated and said with the merest of smiles he could muster. He said, “Can I state that I didn’t hear that question?”

“That is fine,” Clay said.

Clay is apparently unfamiliar with a rule, passed before 2003, that no longer allows players to choose what team they go into the Hall with. This was widely seen as a response to Wade Boggs' signing with the (DEVIL) Rays under the promise he would wear that cap into the Hall, a promise that was never made, say those involved. The Hall changed the rule, and Boggs' plaque features a Red Sox cap.

--

Should Congress be talking about baseball?

That's what Steve Goldman asks over at Baseball Prospectus. His answer is that yes, Congress has every right to talk about baseball, even with a war and economic crisis at hand, and digs into the Constitution for his evidence. He also says that the Clemens hearing is superfluous and unnecessary after the Mitchell Report hearings, a bit of theater that is decidedly wasteful. It's a good read after the headline groan.

--

Best thing I've read all day:

But I'm not crazy. The Suns didn't have a chance of winning a title two weeks ago. Now? They're an intriguing choice. And they definitely have a higher ceiling. They have upside. Isn't the definition of a good deal one that betters the state you're in? If the basketball gods exist, Shaq will find the fountain of youth in the desert instead of a fountain of gravy. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I really am.


Yeah, it's not about Clemens. It's Simmons' column about the Shaq trade.

--

This has started to move too fast for me. The Times is talking about Democracts going after Clemens, and Republicans going after McNamee; ESPN is talking about illegal B-12 shots, and CNNSI is comparing Clemens' size from one era to the next. Which begs the question: aren't they all supposed to be watching the SAME thing?

--



--

Bam.

"I've listened to you very carefully," Cummings said. "And I take you at your word. And you're telling me that Andy Pettitte is an honest man, and his credibility is pretty much impeccable. … You said you were misunderstood. But all I'm saying is, it's hard to believe. It's hard to believe your story.

"I hate to say that," Cummings concluded. "You're one of my heores. But it's hard to believe you."

And with that, the hearing is done. My fingers hurt. I have new respect for Will Leitch.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fact or Fiction: Clay Buchholz

  1. He was a high school sprint champion.
  2. He won the letter 'Y' in a game of poker with Cla Meredith when the two were teammates in A ball.
  3. He was arrested for stealing 29 laptops from his high school and selling them.
  4. He turned down scholarship offers to play wide receiver at Texas and Notre Dame.
  5. He has a tattoo of the Texas state flag on his left biceps.
  6. He was drafted with a pick the Red Sox received as compensation for losing Pedro Martínez to free agency.


1: Fact, 2: Fiction, 3: Fact, 4: Fact, 5: Fiction, 6: Fact

Respect Due













Oh my, look at the way he's guarding that truck. Inspiring. A Roman sentinel for the modern era. Obviously he's a fan of the blog.

Can you believe Terry Francona is still awaiting a contract extension? What more must he do? He owns a couple of rings, he has averaged 94 four wins in four seasons as the Sox skipper, he has pieced together a solid working relationship with the flakiest left fielder in the history of baseball, he is adored by the bloodthirsty Boston media, and by all accounts he is a wonderful human being.

And yet the Sox front office acts as though it has doubts about his future as a successful manager. This disrespect is hardly a recent development. Last season Tito was the eighth highest-paid manager in the league, situated between the middling duo of Bruce Bochy and Phil Garner. This off season Joe Torre signed a nifty 3-year, $13 million deal with the Dodgers and all he's done of late is get bested by Tito on a regular basis. Well, that and become a noted green tea enthusiast. I realize being the eighth highest-paid manager in baseball is nothing to sneeze at, but Terry Fracona sports the highest post-season winning percentage (.710) amongst managers who have managed at least 20 post-season games and he is unsigned beyond this season. Puzzling. I'm not concerned, an extension will come, but it is long overdue.

Mr. Henry, give Tito his money. Dolla dolla bill y'all!

BNJ: You're right that this disrespect is not recent. In the Stephen King/Stewart O'Nan book Faithful, they take turns ripping Francona to shreds for no other reason than they feel like they must kill the manager. King does it mostly, which mars the good half of the book — Fanboy O'Nan just talked about getting autographs and bringing his glove to games, which spoke for itself. But anyhow, about Tito. They'll get it done. Last September's bullpen usage was masterful, setting them up for the playoffs. Yeeeeeah.

Monday, February 11, 2008

2008 Preview: Catchers

We start with the backstops. While a few other spots on diamond are occupied by shaky commodities (Flugo aka F'ing Lugo) or tantalizing young talent (the Navajo fellow, Jacob whats-his-name), the Red Sox catching tandem is very much a known commodity. Save for the ill-fated Josh Bard experiment, Jason Varitek and Doug Mirabelli have shared time behind the plate for seven consecutive season. Staggering really, when you consider the nomadic tendencies of nearly all backup catchers. Varitek enters the final year of his 4-year, $40 million deal and Mirabelli returns on another one-year pact. This could be their last go round. But I doubt it.

Name: Jason Andrew Varitek
Bats: Switch
Throws: Right
Age: 36
2008 salary: $11M
Fun Fact: Varitek was 0-7 with two walks and a run scored in the 1984 Little League World Series. Obviously he is a choker in the clutch. Give me Yadier Molina any day. (Note: no Yadier Molina, please).

Ah, the captain.* Many of us grimaced a bit at the four-year deal Varitek signed prior to the 2005 season, but we'll call him the consummate leader and move along. Still productive enough at the plate, patient as ever, and of course the intangibles ain't going anywhere. The pitchers, they say he calls a great game. And when your pitchers have the second best ERA in the majors you tend to agree with them. Plus his pop (17 dongs last year) comes in handy. Last year he had a tendency to disappoint in the clutch, hitting .219 with runners in scoring position and an alarming .162 with two outs and runners on. Last year we won the World Series. He's onto something.

*It irks me every time I hear an announcer say, “Varitek is the first Red Sox captain since Jim Rice in 1989.” That's true, but just once I’d like to hear one of them say, “However, although Maurice Samuel Vaughn lacked the official title and the corny ‘C’ on his jersey he sure as shit was the captain of those mid-nineties Red Sox teams. It was unfortunately the case that the ballclub was not then in the business of doing things that, A, made sense and, B, so much as hinted at the presence of organizational amity.” End needless aside before the gatekeeper scolds me for being backwards looking. BNJ: The gatekeeper is pleased with your work, and here's a recent article about Mo building low-income housing.

Jason Varitek's 2008 ZiPS projection:
.249 AVG
.350 OBP
.408 SLG
50 Runs
96 Hits
20 Doubles
13 Home Runs
63 RBI
56 BB
102 K
146 Pink jerseys sold
1 World Series title
46 Plaudits from Schilling

Name: Douglas Anthony Mirabelli
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Age: Immaterial as long as Tim Wakefield is around.
2008 salary: $550,000, of which he owes $550,000 to Wakefield.
Fun fact: Mirabelli was college teammates with Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge on the 1989 College World Series champion Wichita State Shockers. Generally considered a big jerk, which is immaterial here.

What? What do you want me to say? A big floppy mitt, a barehanded batsman, strikeouts with runners on, slow as Shaq. But then, wait, what's this? A giant blast over the Monster that came off the bat as if it were struck by Paul Bunyan himself! I resent Tim Wakefield for prolonging Mirabelli's career, but those majestic taters make us giddy. At any rate, Mirabelli is here to knock down knuckleballs just as he's been doing for the past seven seasons. Production at the plate is beside the point. And hey, here's this wonderful nugget: Last season with 2 out and runners in scoring position Mirabelli hit .368 with an .846 OPS. Only 19 at-bats, but yeah, that is a better situational average than either Papi or Manny. Viva la Mirabelli!

Doug Mirabelli's 2008 ZiPS projection:
.246 AVG
.318 OBP
.355 SLG
35 Runs
68 Hits
15 Doubles
5 Home Runs
36 RBI
29 BB
65 K
1 Horrific soul patch

Other catching options:
George Kottaras: Acquired from the Padres in exchange for David Wells, Kottaras projects as a serviceable catcher with some pop and a keen batting eye but hardly seems to be the heir apparent to Varitek. Suspect defensive capabilities.

Dusty Brown: It looks this fellow is on the 40-man roster. If I were to attempt to impart knowledge regarding his exploits as a ballplayer I'd be talking straight out of my ass. Apparently he plays the guitar.

Kevin Cash: Unable to find a major league deal, Cash has accepted an invitation to rejoin the Sox on a minor league contract. I suppose he backs up Kottaras at Pawtucket and is a likely candidate to fill in once again at the major league level if Mirabelli or Varitek are out for a spell. Randy Moss is a fan.

How Youkilis Will Spend His $3 million













Deal is done. Here's where the money is going:

  • Recoup the investment loss in Slump Buster energy drink ($100,000)
  • Impending Wedding ($500,000)
  • Residual payments to Michael Lewis for placement in Moneyball ($200,000)
  • 1 BR North End love nest ($1.1 million)
  • Hitting the shit out of the ball (free)
  • Donations to his foundation, now that he's out of hair ($200,000)
  • Giving to Sean Casey mayoral campaign ($100,000)
  • Ruling the Yankees ($138.48 for instructional 2004-07 DVD set with free Super Saver shipping)
  • General owning of AL East ($500,000)
  • Nancy Kerrigan-like takeout of Erik Bedard before Seattle series ($20,000)
  • Bet on Pats to go undefeated next year ($181,000 at 25-1)
  • Jacoby Ellsbury signed baseball ($159)
  • Chips ($88,702.52)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Whither the Truck?

I’ve been scouring the Internets this evening in an ill-fated attempt to answer what should be a very simple question. Has anyone heard from the truck upon its safe arrival in Ft. Myers? The truck departed Fenway yesterday around 10 a.m., this much we know. But what then? It should be there by now, nearly 36 hours later. I’d suggest that perhaps the driver is a lollyagagger, but such a designation simply does not fit his profile. I'm beginning to worry. I think we take safe passage for granted, forgetting that not so long ago the annual Massachusetts to Florida expedition was rife with peril. Survive the Yankee road agents, ford the mighty Potomac, tempt fate with a pass through the capital of the confederacy, avoid debilitating intoxication at popular juke joints. A gauntlet full of would-be plunderers and don't even get me started on the terrors of northern Florida.

Bryan: Wow, this has the makings of a scandal. Okay not really. But imaging a rivalry so intense that teams are f*cking with each other's trucks, like slashing the tires or putting in little tree fresheners that smell like Posada's jock. Or his hands.

Ben: You act like you don't remember why Butch Hobson was fired. Have you forgotten Truck Wars 1992-94? When the Red Sox and Yankees, finding their on-field products less than satisfactory, engaged in various other battles to keep the rivalry on life support. Surely you remember when aging slugger Jack Clark was hired to be Dan Dority to Hobson's Al Swearengen. In spring of '93 the Red Sox truck was looted by the Matt Nokes Seven and they were forced to play without bats, balls and cups for the first week of spring training while a second truck full of supplies made the treacherous journey south. And that's why Hobson was fired. Well, that and finishing no better than fourth place during his three year stint. And certainly the cocaine package didn't help his cause any. But it was mostly Truck Wars. Then the strike came, and with it an end to Truck Wars.

Bryan: The Matt Nokes seven. Me and... six other guys. I just remember the time we thought we saw Butch Hobson at the MVY airport. That's the gift that keeps on giving.

Ben: We saw Butch Hobson? Now you're just making stuff up.

We Love You Buchholz



We love you Buchholz, oh yes we do
We love you Buchholz, and we are true
When you're not pitching, we're blue
Oh Buchholz, we love you



"Dr. Love thinks that a relationship between Bagandbnj and Clay Buchholz has a reasonable chance of working out, but on the other hand, it might not. Your relationship may suffer good and bad times. If things might not be working out as you would like them to, do not hesitate to talk about it with the person involved. Spend time together, talk with each other."

BNJ: Clay?
Clay: Yes
BNJ: Let's talk.
Clay: Okay.
BNJ: ... [stares dreamily into Clay's eyes]
Clay: ...
BNJ: ...
Clay: So, uh, are we going to talk?
BNJ: [snaps out of it] Uh, yes?
Clay: What about?
BNJ: ... [more staring]
Clay: Hello?
BNJ: What?
Clay: ...
BNJ: ...
Clay: I'm outta here.

Jesus, that hat is big.

Hello, Red Sox Fans

This is more or less our mission statement:

First, we are united under Clay Buchholz.

Second, we realize that we only get so many Red Sox seasons, and we're happy to be starting another one.

We love the Red Sox. And then there are the times when we curse the games and curse ourselves. The losses seem to hurt us more than we enjoy the wins, but they're precisely equal parts of the game.

For years, we were losers. Pathetic, dramatic, terminal losers. Losers you could count on: losers you could trust. By the time 2003 ended, we had lost so many times, in such grand fashion, that you could call it artistic.

The 2004 supernova has been photographed one thousand times from one thousand different angles, and is very much a closed case. We won't talk much about it here. Nor will we draw any authority from the 2007 Red Sox. Our blog is about the fucking brilliance that is the 2008 Boston Red Sox, win, lose or draw. There is no storyline going in. We intend to make one.

Who are we? We were once called "hilarious kids" (by us, we think) and we hope to live up to that. Where we are doesn't really matter, but we bracket the country. As the new version of Red Sox fans has followed us from one side of the States to the other, we've resisted inclusion in any "Nation" that resembles the one bearing our team's name. That's not us. We're going to root for the Sox in our own way, in the only way we know how. We don't love them because they win or because they lose. We love them because we do.

- Bryan