Tag Archives: Marco Scutaro

This Is Where It Gets Interesting.

Wasn’t that the way this season was supposed to look? In three games the Red Sox starting pitchers (Buchholz, Lackey and Beckett) threw 21 innings, gave up six runs and the Sox won all three games. There was some good defense, timely hitting and a whole lot of badassery emanating from the mound in Anaheim (not L.A.).

Yesterday was Beckett’s turn. Making his second start since returning from the DL, and getting his first win since my birthday (April 10), Becks was solid, throwing seven innings and giving up just the three. It should have been only one, but Jeremy Hermida’s injury was probably to his head, because he misplayed another out yesterday, extending the second so that the Angels could score twice (he also has seven more strikeouts than hits since he got back). Then again if Scutaro (totally unsung hero of the season) hadn’t shown some clutchitude in hitting an eighth inning slam, Dan Shaughnessy and Boston Dirt Dogs (my two favorite flip floppers) would still be declaring us dead.

This team is starting to look like the one that was tearing people second assholes through much of May and June, until both our catchers dropped off the face of the earth and things went all shitty. The defense still sucks, but the pitching is good enough to power through (maybe yesterday was even a sign that MDC and Ram-Ram are joining the party, as the Sox actually won a game without Paps or Bard) and the winter’s fears about the offense are obviously completely unfounded, as the Sox are second in the league in both runs and homers.

So all you bandwagon fans who haven’t been watching the team and therefore driving down revenues and making it harder for them to spend on more players for next year, it’s time to hop back on. The Sox are going to make this interesting, and I can only hope that the Angels get in Lackey’s way again. (scroll down to the comments by Lackey)

Go Sox.

Done.

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Run Prevention Only Works When You Actually Prevent Runs.

Lollygaggers.

We may be only two weeks into a six month baseball season, but it seems that there is some kind of disconnect going on. I am a huge supporter of Theo Epstein, but “run prevention” is close to being synonymous with “closer by committee” in my book. After 12 games, the Sox are five games back of first place at 4-8, and have not hit, pitched or defended very well. While bringing in guys like Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro to shore up the defense may have sounded like a great idea this winter (even to me), without a truly dangerous core to the lineup, the Sox are not going to be able to compete in the best division in baseball.

Earl Weaver, the legendary Orioles manager, once said that the key to winning in the American League was pitching, defense and the three run home run. The Sox brass definitely agrees with Weaver, seeing as they made defensive and pitching upgrades at the deadline in both 2004 (Orlando Cabrera, Doug Mientkiewicz, Dave Roberts) and 2007 (Gagne, who didn’t work out, but it was the right idea, and Ellsbury coming up from the minors) and won the World Series both times. This winter, without a truly elite slugger on the market, the front office pitched all their moves as part of a “run prevention” philosophy.

This was a smoke screen. With David Ortiz only showing up to the ballpark for the last four months of last season (he tried telecommuting in April and May) and Manny Ramirez doing his steroids in LA, the Sox are missing the third part of that plan, the three run home run, and from what I can see, the first two parts haven’t worked as planned. Marco Scutaro, the guy brought in to end the curse of Nomar, has been unimpressive, posting a .282 average with 1 home run and three RBI. His offense, while average, hasn’t been the problem though. He was brought in to do exactly what Julio Lugo could not and catch the ball, but has failed miserably at that, already making three errors, two of which cost the Sox a game.

Mike Cameron, also brought in to play defense, butchered a simple fly ball yesterday, allowing the Rays to jump on top 4-0 after the first and basically giving away another game. I have nothing bad to say about Adrian Beltre, though he has not dazzled, he has been as solid as he was expected to and his hitting has been as crappy as expected as well. The fact that neither of our catchers could throw out a base stealer to save the life of a child is not helping either.

The long and the short of it is that the grace period on the 2007 title has worn off, the new plan is not working, and if you hear grinding sounds in the background while you watch the Sox game tomorrow night, then it’s likely the headsman’s axe getting sharpened. Something must be done and patience is running short. At least we don’t have to wait long for the carnage tomorrow. See y’all at 11 am.

Go Sox.

Done.

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Run Prevention Working Out Terrifically, Sox Lose.

Raise your hand if you didn’t see that one coming. Now look around. Everybody with their hands up is either an idiot or a liar.

Of course the first Red Sox error of 2010 would end up costing us the game. Of course the new guy who was brought in to stabilize the shortstop position for the first time since 2004 was the one who made the error. Of course it was on a hit by the most relaible shortstop in the game; a guy who has been at his spot for 16 seasons now.

Your turn.

But lets hold back on the whole freaking out thing. Ortiz is 0-7, Lester and Beckett both have 7+ ERAs, and Adrian Gonzalez is still not on the Sox. These are all problems, but not after two games. I agree that David Ortiz may be done, and that, without him in the five spot, the lineup looks a little flimsy, but two games is not enough of a sample size. That is 1.234% of the season.

Give it time and we’ll hope that this run prevention thing works out better next time. We’ll do the whole thing again tonight at 7, with the new guy on the hill.

Go Sox.

Done.

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You can almost taste it; Opening ‘Day’ nearly upon us

I'm also really excited.

Like a distant tide, you can almost smell baseball season. And no,  not in the haven’t-washed-my-jock-since-last-spring kind of smell. It’s like an invisible energy that fills the city every early April. The texts start going out and coming in: “meet up b4 game?”… “bball tavern @ 5” … “I’ll perform any favor you can think of for your ticket” … buddies start making plans to come home, and beer sales go through the effing roof. Whatever the signs are for you, because it is unique and personal to each of us, one thing is as certain as taxes: Father Fenway comes out of his winter hibernation this Sunday.

As I have always maintained, Boston is a better place when the Sox are playing, and better even still when they’re winning. The cold, white, sissy-repellent that litter the streets during the cold months has melted away, and for those brave enough to bear it (or for those simply forced to) we have earned ourselves the right to another season of Red Sox baseball.

"Right here... Right now... I'm peeing."

With so many new faces this year, there is an unfamiliar air of uncertainty… kind of like the beginning of in 2004 and 2007 seasons. Like everything else in New England, there is no gray area, you either can’t wait to see the boys of summer hit the diamond, or you are already calling for Theo’s head on a blunt spit.

Let me settle all for everyone: We have the best 1,2,3 in all of baseball, the best number 4 pitcher in the game (Dice K) and our fifth starter is either a member of last year’s all-star team or a young stud with top-of-the-rotation stuff.

Our lineup is a mixture of solid doubles hitters with power and speed sprinkled in for garnish.

Our fielding consist of about a zillion combined gold gloves, a new left side of the infield that seems to be meshing with the right side, our new catcher behind the plate looks great and we’ve tacked on three (what will prove to be) terrific new starters in Cam, Scutaro and Beltre.

Cameron kinda looks like Willie Mays Hayes. Hopefully Big Papi swings better than Serano this year and even though the Papelmoose/Wildthing comparison is an easy one... Buccholz is definitely Ricky Vaughn.

Clay Buccholz

The Red Sox will win 98 games this year (like they always do) and narrowly lose the division to the Yankees, which is OK because the Yanks are a team built like winning the regular season is their goal. It’s an exciting season we’re on the doorstep of… And all I want for October is a World Series.

Go Red Sox.

StartMattCassel

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A Completely Biased, Utterly Subjective Preview of the 2010 Boston Red Sox.

So, We Gonna Do This, Or What?

With pitchers and catchers reporting TOMORROW (as well as many of the guys already in camp), it’s time that we take stock of what has happened to the Red Sox in the past few months and accept some realities.

Jason Bay is gone. He’s a Met now. The Sox let go of a guy who hit 36 home runs and had 119 RBI and replaced him with Mike Cameron. It scares the crap out of the fans, but after long contemplation it was the right thing to do. We’ve been through this before. Theo didn’t want to give Pedro Martinez the third year because his guys told him that Pedro was going to break down half way through the second year. What happened? Pedro broke down in the middle of the second year and the Mets over paid for two more seasons. Somebody saw something in the MRIs of Bay’s joints (shoulders and knees) that made them think that he isn’t going to age gracefully. I trust in Theo, because he knows more than me, and Bay strikes out too much.

With that reality comes that this team has been rebuilt in a different image. The front office took one of the teams weaknesses and turned it into a strength. Run prevention, also known as pitching and defense, has become a focus, as opposed to run scoring, which was definitely a more visible issue at times last year. The reasoning is that they don’t need to score as many runs if they don’t allow as many, and it looks good to me, but then again I thought closer by committee was a good plan too.

That thought in mind, I really do like the acquisitions. Anybody who complains about the Lackey signing (now) is a complete effing idiot. The Sox just added another Josh Beckett to the team, along with the old Beckett, who is in a contract year. That gives them three aces, a complete wildcard in Matsuzaka, a guy who is developing into a solid number 3 (for this season) in Buchholz (the fifth man), and the third winningest pitcher in franchise history as a sixth starter. Not bad.

The key to how Theo moves forward and how the offense works is likely to be Adrian Beltre. He is a guy who has put up a 48 homer, 121 RBI season, and six other seasons of 20 or more homers in his eleven seasons in the bigs. He also spent the last five of those seasons in in Safeco Field, the worst possible place for a right handed power hitter. He still hit 25 or more home runs in three years, and 19 the other. Last year was full of injuries (to the testicals) and futility. Moving into the best possible ballpark for right handed power hitters, Beltre is going to hit 30 home runs, have 100 RBI and win another gold glove, and for this reason the offense will be fine.

Scutaro and Cameron are both solid pickups who improve the defense and will provide stability in the lineup. Cameron makes the defense better not only by being himself, but by moving Jacoby to left, where nothing will get down. Scutaro  is a solid defender who should have won a gold glove last year but everybody just keeps voting for Jeter, and also had a career year in his first shot at an everyday job.

The bullpen is also better than it was at this point last season simply for the fact that Daniel Bard has been through the league once. He is not ready to replace Papelbon, who is not done, but he is ready to step into that eighth inning role that Phil Hughes was so successful in for the Yanks last year. Papelbon has been getting a lot of flack lately because of the way that the season ended, and for his perceived mercenary attitude about his contract situation, but nobody can really see it in his stats. He was 38-41 in save opportunities and had a 1.85 ERA. He is going to be a free agent after 201, but people need to chill out about that now.

And there’s also that core, who we know are going to be good and who we have gotten to know. Pedroia will put up his traditional great season, Youk will get better like he does every year, Jacoby will hit .300 and steal 75 bases, and Lester will continue to crush the souls of those who doubt him. Victor is poised for a big (payday) season and if Ortiz is the guy we had in the second half of last year then it wouldn’t be too ridiculous to see 40 bombs (he was that good for the last three months).

There are still questions to be answered, moves to be made, and lots of beer to be drank, but with the team as it is today, Theo has done a good job of building the 95 win team that is his goal every year. He has improved his team while his chief rivals have gotten worse. The Yankees offseason was not altogether awful, adding Javier Vasquez to the rotation was a good solid move (even if the last time we saw him he was giving up a GS to Damon in Game 7), and Curtis Granderson will make the outfield defense better. However, their lineup lost two gamers who always came through in the clutch in Matsui and Damon, and replaced them with Granderson, whose batting average and OPS have dropped each of the last few seasons as his home runs went up, and Nick Johnson, a good player when healthy and a rarely healthy player. That is a minus situation for them.

My prediction? 112-50. World Series Champs.

What can I say, I’m a Sox Fan.

Go Sox.

1 Day.

Done.

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Happy Truck Day, Red Sox Nation.

Still Better Than Christmas and Kwanza Combined

Is there anywhere else in the world that the simple packing and departure of a moving truck makes a whole region sit up and celebrate? There are already guys down in Fort Myers wearing Red Sox uniforms and taking BP, tossing balls around and working out, but for the majority of Red Sox nation, today is the true start of the countdown to spring.

Today the Red Sox pack up the equipment truck and move their whole operations down to Florida for six weeks. Today Adrian Beltre, John Lackey, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro put their stuff on the list of things to head to City of Palms Park. Today the sun wil be a little warmer, the clouds a little less grey and the region a little happier.

Today is Truck Day. We’ve made it.

Go Sox.

6 Days.

Done.

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Johnny Damon to the Red Sox? Why Not?

Hopefully solving this problem.

Ever since the end of the season, and all of Theo’s “Bridge Year” crap, the Sox have been in a state of flux. The departure of Jason Bay (unless……), the attempted trade of Mike Lowell, and the signings of Scutaro, Cameron and Lackey have in many ways opened up more questions than answers. Among the biggest are Who is going to be in center, Cameron or Ellsbury? What will Lowell’s role be (if he stays with the team after surgery)? Where in the hell are we going to get runs from?

Of course, the huge boner I get just thinking about Adrian Gonzalez in a Red Sox uniform is one answer to many of the questions, and may still happen, but with the Sox payroll building up towards the magic $170 million mark (including benefits and other crap which players can afford with the millions they are getting paid), where luxury tax kicks in, there aren’t many other options for adding to the roster.

No seriously, that's what's inside of a baseball.

As an aside, I have to say that I agree with John Henry in his stance on Baseball’s current revenue sharing plan. If the big market teams are going to pay the small market teams to keep things competitive, then those teams that get the money should be required to spend it. The Yankees (the only team above the tax number last season), had a bigger payroll than the bottom four teams combined. The owners of those teams should be required to keep a certain minimum salary level for players so that the money from the Sox, Yanks and others isn’t just going to lining the pockets of assholes (the aforementioned owners), and the fans actually have a reason to actually go out and support them.

With this in mind, the Sox are looking for a cheap way to improve their offense. I say that option has been masquerading as a vastly overpaid, weak armed, beardless outfielder in New York for the past four seasons. Ever since he ditched the Sox for the Yanks following 2005, Johnny Damon’s abilities to play the outfield and get on base at the top of the lineup have been declining, but he does still have some pop in his bat, and could probably play a pretty good first base with his range and talent for catching the ball. He would need to learn a new position, and given the Sox’ hopes to improve the defense this offseason (as they have already done with Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro) this would be a deviation from the plan.

The upside of the signing is that Damon (formerly Captain Caveman) is one of the guys that will fall prey to the “Abreu Effect” by which productive veterans (24 HR, 82 RBI, 107 Runs, .854 OPS last year) end up sitting around until the new year (coming soon) and then sign bargain basement one year deals for the chance to prove themselves again. Damon could very well end up as one of those guys, and one year/$5-6 million might just get it done (even with Satan/Scott Boras as his agent). He also would not have to be hitting leadoff or second, but could slide into the eighth spot and protect guys like Ellsbury at the top of the lineup. Combined with Cameron, and considering the fact that there was no offense out of the Shortstop position last season (sure to be improved upon by Scutaro), Damon could definitely fill the offensive hole left by Bay.

And it gives me an excuse to show this all the time:

Just a thought. Merry Christmas, be safe, and our best to you from the Ballpark.

Go Sox.

56 Days.

Done.

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