Monday, October 29, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gold Glove Caliber

11 hours until game time. With Youk sitting I was wondering if they would move Jacoby to lead-off, drop Dustin to second or keep Dustin in the lead-off and move Drew to second. Well, wonder no more. NY Times is reporting that Jacoby will be lead-off tonight. It may not make a huge difference, especially if Jacoby gets on base a couple of times and works it into a run. That being said, I like the fact that our line up has been putting pressure on pitchers early. Moving Drew to the second spot would make up for Youk being out of the line up. But I guess with the pitcher batting 9th you would be lowering Jacoby's threat factor.

Which is more likely to happen, as Earl asked earlier the words "Dante" and "Bichette" being used or DiceK going yard? Chicks dig the long ball.

By the way, read the last line of the NY Times article to figure out the title of this post.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Something to read on the day off

I think we all agree that since late in the 2004 season (possibly sooner), there's been a large contingent of Sox fans which are...well, pretty much awful. This article describes that in great (probably too much) brutality. Sox fans in general are now basically seen as another version of Yankees fans, only worse because (1) our team is actually winning now, and (2) most non-Yankees fans sort of liked the Red Sox before the fans became insufferable.

That said, this article is fantastic - probably the best thing ever written about being a Red Sox fan. Check it out.

Now on to Coors field


So it occurred to me that tomorrow night will be the very first time I have watched a game played at Coors Field. I missed the last/first time the Sox played there in 2004. That being said, I do remember talking to X on the phone as he drove through a crazy thunder storm with golf-ball sized hail to a game only to turn around because of snarled traffic.

Anyway, I am too lazy to look up our record from those games but we scored 20 runs on 36 hits including 4 homers. The team's OPS was .991. Granted the 2007 Sox are different from the 2004 Sox, but it is safe to say the two teams are built in similar ways, thanks to in-Theo-we-trust.

That being said, there is a lot of talk about how the Rockies have started to figure out Coors field. From humidors to failed pitchers the Rockies have tried a lot of angles. The 2007 team is focusing on defense. According to Slate writer Eriq Gardner who provided all of the above links, the Rockies have "tied the National League record for the fewest errors in a season (68) and set the Major League record for the highest fielding percentage (.989)". The expansive outfield and the high altitude will be interesting variables in Saturday nights game 3. As will Ortiz at first and Manny being Manny in a BIG left field.

Thoughts?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

WS Game 2 thread

People who post here are awesome.
People who don't, aren't.

Things I didn't know before today, but should have

- For all their winning in the LDS and LCS, the Rockies really weren't hitting much. I mean, check this out - in the NLCS, five of their eight regular hitters had an OPS of .513 or below. (They were marginally better in the NLDS.)

- Jayson Stark mentioned that the Sox outscoring opponents 43-6 in the last four games was second most in postseason history. Which is crazy. First was the 1996 Braves: in Games 5-7 of the NLDS they beat the Cardinals 14-0, 3-1,and 15-0 (series MVP: Javy Lopez), and then beat the Yanks in Game 1 of the World Series 12-1, for a differential of 42-1.

Sort of spooky: They swept the NLDS (beating a team from LA); in the NLCS they won Game 1 but lost the next three, only to win all three must-win games and the pennant; then they crushed the opponent in Game 1 of the WS. Problem is: the Yankees won that Series, 4-2.

Remember that time...

...when the Red Sox play in the World Series and you all basically abandon this so-called Red Sox blog. That was awesome.

Last night: utter, total dominance. Beckett continued to be on, the Rockies offense couldn't do anything, and the insane hitting (10+ runs) continued. You have to assume the Rockies' long break really hurt them - their number one starter and middle relievers couldn't find the strike zone, except to leave the ball up, begging for a double. I like when they called in Speier to put out the fire (bases loaded, 2 outs) and promptly walks the next three batters. (Hey, at least his ERA didn't suffer.) But it sure also seems like a moot point - even had they pitched up to potential, they still would've lost that game.

Fun fact: the Rockies have won 20 of their last 22 games! And they've only lost once on the road since September 14! That's amazing!

Win three more, please.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What the???

Wakefield will not be on the WS roster...I wonder if they are thinking about setting Beckett up for three starts, or if Lester will get the call...

I guess that Bryan Corey or Tavarez will now be added...

Monday, October 22, 2007

2007 AL Champions

Okay, I'm awake, and back at "work". A couple initial thoughts while I enjoy my coffee:

- what a series. Cleveland really is a great team, and it says tons that the Sox took three in a row from them.

- The score - an asswhoopin' - didn't reflect just how tense 3/4 of the game was.

- Last night's win pretty much showcased everything about the Sox which got them here: patient hitting; the ability to wear down the starter so even if he frustrates them (Westbrook arguably outpitched Dice-K), he has to leave early, and the onslaught against the bullpen (usually tired late in a series) begins; impressive defense; an incredible bullpen.

- the team's health (Beckett, Okajima, Schilling, Ortiz, Manny, Daisuke) is a huge part of their success so far; compare this to the Angels or Indians (you hae to assume CC was exhausted). Anyone still upset about sitting all those players in September now? Brilliant late-season managing in my opinion.

- Yes, the Sox caught some breaks the last games, especially those two Lofton plays last night. But this was after getting NONE the first 4-5 games. As they say, it all evens out I guess.

- Wedge's managing just got worse and worse as the series progressed - by this game he was being downright stupid in my opinion. As for Francona, I didn't care much about the Crisp/Ellsbury thing (I mean, it has to be Ellsbury, but the whole thing reminded me too much of Bellhorn), but his pitching management wasn't great this last game - both Daisuke and Okajima were left in too long.

- this offense at Coors - should be fun to watch.

More later.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

SOX ROX

Wow. Sox in the World Series. I've gotta go to bed now - 2 hours of sleep. But lots to talk about tomorrow.

Game 7 open thread

Okay, really now...earlier today I found at least 5 sites (including mlb.com) which said gametime was at 8:00 EST. But that was a lie - Fox coverage begins at 8:00. So seriously: where can you find info on the first pitch? Because those of us watching the game from GMT+1 don't like getting up any earlier than we have to.

Then again, Eric Karros's hair is a sight to behold. He reminds me of this guy.

Game 6 -- Game night in Boston Proper

What a great night out in Boston...

X and I watched both game 5 and game 6 at Costello's
. Apparently, X has some association between luck, the Sox, and lesbians. Actually, the details are hardly what you think. Needless to say, it worked out both nights! I'll save the details for game 5 for the bottom. Honestly, even the EMACULATE performance by Josh Beckett didn't top last nights game for sheer-joy. We can argue that point if you'd like, but frankly game 6 was the most recent must-win-game. And what a game it was.

Daisy and I joined X as Manny approached the plate with 3 men on and no men out. Life looked pretty sweet. I wasn't worried when Manny went down 0-2, because at this point you'd have to live under a rock to not know Manny is the best in the league at batting in 0-2 counts. He worked it back to 3-2, sweet. Carmona came in low and hard. Manny chased to no avail. Lowell looked in and takes a bad cut at something up and away. The short pop-up was caught easily by Trot Nixon. Just as it looked like Nixon was going to be labeled the nation's next least favorite son. JD Drew, the face of current Red Sox busts stepped to the plate and final opened up a small place in our collective hearts. 4-0 just like that! Costello's erupts. Packed from the start, a crowd of Bostonians revel together as though they are all at the game. High-fives every where. X even ran up and down the bar giving strangers high-fives! The crowd of course, dug it up. The breaks we have not been getting came in bunches last night. Whether or not the mighty Indians have been rattled remains to be seen. My guess is that they will jump right back with even the slightest offensive rush. But last night they looked a bit shell-shocked from the start. Drew's blast blew away any doubt that the Sox would go meekly. While their two errors raised the blood pressure of Cleveland Heights. Last night was quite a win and it appears that the momentum is swinging our way. The Sox just have to show that they can also hit mediocre pitching, not just C.C. and Carmona.

Did I miss anything?

Sadly, I watched absolutely none of last night's game, because I was on the plane leaving Finland. So I'm done with having to watch playoff baseball in Finland...from here on out it's all from...Israel! Only six hours ahead, so it's WAY easier to watch from here.

All right, I'm sure this is all over the Boston papers, but from 1999 on the Sox are 13-3 in must-win playoff games. Which is ridiculous. But not ridiculous enough - let's make it 14-3, please.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Next? Game 6 Thoughts

Well, I guess we'll have to see.

A few nice trends from last night's game (could they be called trends after one game?).

Pedroia is squaring the ball up and they are now landing away from Indians.
Cleveland's bullpen showed they can and will give up runs.
Crisp needs to sit down for a game...
Beckett is ridiculous...
JD Drew got on base a few times and clocked a double...

So, what does this mean?

If the Sox can continue to hit the "hard throwers", then they should be able to replicate their results against Carmona. Of course, the flip side of that is Schilling. Yes, outstanding post-season numbers...But, before this year, you could count on a bad outing (See Game 2) as an aberration. This year, however, he was never consistent. Hopefully he rebounds. The good news is that the Boston pen is VERY rested. I imagine the Lester will be quickly called upon should trouble arise.

The key is to get out to an early lead and put pressure on Carmona. Cleveland's D doesn't make too many mistakes, so you have to capitalize on walks, and play some small ball. Making them play catchup is preferable because the back end of Boston's pen is very strong.

Of course, the offense is much better at Fenway. I am predicting a 7-4 Boston win.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Aw, crap.

So, any guesses as to the number of times Buck or McCarver bring up Manny's comments ("who cares") tonight? I'm getting angry at them already, and game time's not for another 9+ hours.

[For the record, (1) it's true, the world will not actually end if the Red Sox lose, (2) anyone who thinks a guy with an OPS over 1.5 truly "doesn't care" is a moron, and (3) "it's not the end of the world" is probably the exact right attitude the team needs to take if they're going to win. If they press tonight, they're doomed.]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Well then.

Yesterday's game wasn't quite a "must-win", but it was definitely a "please-win". No dice. So the Sox have to win 3 in a row to stay alive. They've done that 3 times in recent memory: 1999 ALDS (vs CLE), 2003 ALDS (vs OAK), and 2004 ALCS (vs NYY). This team can absolutely do it again, but it's hard to feel super optimistic. Yes, we can only hope Beckett will continue to be amazing; but the way things are going I feel he could pitch a complete game 1-hitter and still get the loss.

Earl's Red Sox Keys to the Next Three Games:
1) Start scoring runs.
2) In each game, score more runs than the Indians do.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

File under "poop"

Yikes. Well, I suppose we can analyze Daisuke's performance all day. His numbers (K's, BB's, H's) were a tad bit better then against the Angels, but these are the Indians, so it still translated into more runs (as predicted). And he again didn't make it out of the 5th.

But Matsuzaka wasn't the story here - it was the lack of offense. Westbrook utterly shut them down, and frankly made them look silly. In the end they actually saw 3.85 P/PA, only a little lower than their season average (3.94) - this is surprising to me, since it seemed they swung at everything. I suppose there were a few battles (Coco, Manny) to raise that number near the end. But that's just it - just as they seemed to get to Westbrook, Wedge went to the bullpen, and that was the ballgame. Of course, Ortiz making contact with the batted ball, Manny's non-walk (that ump was awful, for both teams), and not scoring after loading the bases with 0 outs were all absolutely huge plays - take out of even one of those and it may have been a different game.

So the Sox are down 1-2; not a time to panic, but a win tonight seems rather important. I'm expecting a high-scoring affair - you have to assume Wake won't do much, and Byrd's success against the Sox is probably from the small sample size. We'll see. Best case scenario of course is rain - which is forecasted - allowing Beckett to pitch Game 4 with full rest...

Link to tonights weather forecast in Cleveland.

Link to a Finnish cover of "YMCA". (As I'm sure you know, everyone here dresses and acts just like that guy. It's pretty awesome.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

ALCS Analysis...So Far and Beyond

OK...there is way too much panic in the air in Boston. Let's face it. The reality of the situation is that the Sox fared very well against the two Cleveland aces, and they were a missed sliding catch away (Sizemore grabbing Youk's sinking line drive with Ellsbury on second) from a 2-0 lead. The fact that Gagne, Lopez and Lester couldn't shut down the Indians doesn't concern me much.

Before the start of the series, did anyone think the Sox would be up 2-0 after facing Carmona and Sabathia? Possibly, but not likely. Ok, they didn't lose to Carmona, but the result is the same. And, honestly, I don't think we'll see Gagne and Lopez in key situations again in this series.

Beckett was dominant in Game 1, and I expect more the same from him in Game 5 against Sabathia in Cleveland. But, let's not jump that far ahead, yet...

Tonight's Game
Daisuke v Westbrook

In my opinion, Diasuke can have his crappy one inning in this one and be just fine. The reality of the situation is that Westbrook is going to have trouble with this lineup. He walks a fair number of people and gives up a lot of hits. If the Sox stay patient, they should be fine.

Diasuke can't nibble too much in this one. He's had a ton of success when pounding the strike zone. If he gets an out or two in to the seventh, giving up 4 runs or so, the Sox should be fine.

Tomorrow's Game
Wakefield v Byrd

A ton of questions here...The most pressing of which would be Wakefield's health. Knowing Wake (not personally, of course) he would not go out there if he didn't feel that he was up for it. After all, he is not being pressed by circumstance into starting. Beckett could go. So, you have to think that he is ready.

The next question...What about Byrd? He is a pitch to contact guy who gives up a lot of HRs. He also wins a lot of games (averaging just over 6 innings per start) But with a 4.59 ERA and only 88 Ks on the year, you must believe that he got a lot of run support. September was rough for him...He sported a 5.21 ERA giving up 48 hits (6 HRs) over just 38 innings while going 2-3. He was effective against the Yankees in the ALDS.

So, while I am confident the Sox win Game 3 (tonight), the pitching matchups lead to too many questions to have any confidence about Game 4. Can a healthy Wake run with Byrd? Absolutely. Byrd will have to be on his game...Wake will just have to have movement on the knuckler.

The difference maker for Byrd is probably tonight. If the Sox unload on Westbrook, Byrd will be under tremendous pressure to stop the bleeding in Game 4. This bodes well for the Sox.

My feeling is that the Sox need these next two games if they want to survive this series. Partly because Sabathia will be better next time out, as will Carmona. If Beckett's outing is negated by a good Sabathia outing, that puts the series squarely on to Schilling and Daisuke. Of course, both of those starts will be at Fenway...But I wouldn't want to HAVE to win both of those...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Game time: 2:07am (EEST)

Maybe I should've just stayed on East Coast time. Oh well; I'm going to try to watch it online. Anyone up for a game thread?

I have nothing interesting to say about the upcoming series (other than Sox in 7), since Andrew has already written a medium-sized book on it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Good NYT reading

So it's a total cheap shot to quote Boston-area sports radio to make a point that Boston is obsessed with the Yankees (typical of NY sports writers). I mean, sports radio sucks, especially in Boston. And yet, their Suzyn Waldman jokes are pretty damn funny. This is perhaps the first time I've ever enjoyed something from Boston sports radio - and I read it in the Times.

Also from the NYT: Paul at YFSF discovers some amazing articles from when Manny was a kid in Washington Heights. I know he was a big deal even back then, but I hadn't read anything from the time.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

WS matchup thoughts

Is there anyone (outside of Greater Phoenix) not rooting for the Rockies? Doesn't having the D-Backs (outscored by 20, which is way worse than the 2006 Cards) in the World Series just sound horrible?

And while I know it's cool to root for the Indians (I honestly really like that team), doesn't an Indians-Diamondbacks World Series sound unbelievably lame?

Of course, if it's Cleveland-Rockies, we'll get everyone screaming "Cleveland-Rox!". And Drew Carey will be the spokesman. And we can't have that. I'm getting ill just thinking about it.

So really, the only acceptable outcome is Red Sox-Rockies. Which, in spite of my biases/preferences, would be my pick based on the matchups (though it might take them all 7 games to get there). Yes, we'll have to put up with "SOX-ROX on FOX", but it's still the best-case scenario.

ALCS

Ok, Sox fans...Time to appreciate what your team is doing. Get over the inferiority fears...The Yankees are gone. The Sox won the division, the Yankees were the Wild Card. The Sox advance to the ALCS, the Yankees do not.

But...some Sox fans are saying that the team is not better than the Yankees if they can't beat Cleveland. Not true, but let's take a look at the matchups.

CC v Beckett
Sabathia is left-handed. The Sox don't hit left-handers very well. That is bad. But, the Sox have Beckett. The back end of the Sox bullpen is better. So, keep this one close and have it be decided between Borowski and Paps.

Daisuke v Carmona
This is not good...Unless the good Daisuke shows up. The Sox were shut out by this kid earlier this year. But that was in Cleveland. He beat the Yankees in Cleveland. Can he pitch in Fenway? We'll see.

Schilling v Westbrook
Schilling.

Wakefield v Byrd
Seeing as how the Yankees got 10 runners on in 5 innings against this guy, I've got to say he doesn't stand much of a chance against the Sox lineup. But how will Wakefield fair?

Then back to the top...
The Sox should try to win this in five because it might get a little hairy after that. Pitching Dice-K second sets Schilling up for Game 7. But do we want to go that far???

Great place to watch the playoffs

I'm in Finland. Not much interest in baseball here in Finland, it turns out. Very hard to watch games - impossible, it would seem. Finland's illustrious role in baseball history, other than a variant called Pes├Ąpallo, is that it was the birthplace for John Michaelson, who pitched 2 2/3 innings for the Chicago White Sox in 1921. And that's it. Really.

I just got my internet connection going, so only now found out about the Sox and Yankees, which is ridiculous. Rather than go back to old posts to comment, I'd add:

- I know the Sox are rolling, but the Indians are a tough team. And I seem to remember another 3-game sweep of the Angels by the Sox, after which time they struggled for 3 8/9 games. Obviously that turned out all right, but I'm not ready to be cocky yet.

- Mets fans must love that Kaz Matsui's a big part of the NLCS Rockies team.

- Joba/Ankiel: Will Leatch (Deadspin founder) made the same comparison as well. He's maybe a bit too sympathetic about the bugs, but his new blog for the Times is quite good (especially the first post). If more sportswriters were like that...

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Partial List of players with as many or more RBI this postseason

Than the highest paid player in baseball:

Kaz Matsui
Yorvit Torrealba
Casey Blake
Geovany Soto
Daryle Ward
Trot Nixon (4AB)
Jeff Baker (1AB)
Asdrubal Cabrera
Mark Reynolds
Augie Ojeda
Doug Davis (P)

As Planned???

The Sox complete the sweep of the Angels and looked to be firing on all cylinders. They pitched extremely well, they had very good at-bats, and their fielding was flawless *(with the exception of Manny overrunning a line drive).

Now, they sit and wait until Friday when they will play Cleveland or NY. With the way that series is shaping up, one might think it will go five. Wang pitches for the Yankees tonight on three-days rest. Where is Mussina? Then, my guess, Pettitte in Game 5, if necessary.

What does that mean? Probably Phillip Hughes against Beckett in Game 1 (if the Yankees prevail) or Carmona against Beckett in Game 1.

Either way, let's hope this series goes 5...Although, with the way the Sox are playing, it might not matter who is pitching.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Would you have believed me if I told you in April.....

That we would watch a game in October, being called by Don Orsillo, in which JC Romero was the losing pitcher, and it eliminated Romero's team from the playoffs. We you have believed that none of us would have really cared that much?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

HOLY CRAP WE ALMOST FORGOT

Today's the big day. Congrats Ben, wherever you may be.

Manny.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what things would be like had the big trade pre-2004 happened. We'd have A-Rod and Magglio Ordonez - this year's likely MVP and MVP runner up - in addition to David Ortiz. That would go down as one of the scariest lineups in history. And it'd probably also avoid some of the ridiculous soap opera BS (fueled by media and fans) we've endured much of for the last 3 seasons.

But I like this better:













Meanwhile, in New York, maybe Joel Sherman was right: Joba is a key player in this series.

At least the New York tabloid writers had a field day:
DOOM BUGGY...STUNG!...Tribe, bugs put bite on Yanks...Yanks victim of insecticide...Bombers in 0-2 hole after bugging out ... "termites in the bat rack, not Lake Erie midges" ... Joba Buggin' ... "here is a new Joba Rule: He is not lord of the flies" ... Now they're in a swarm of trouble ...
..."the eighth inning was a giant Midge-Stake by the Lake for the rookie right-hander"...SWAT'S UP...BUGGIN' OUT...could be zapped tomorrow...Reality Bites for Yanks..."they have a Perfect Swarm to thank"...Andy Pettitte's gem gets lost in the buzz...and the best/worst:

"A-Rod's October Gnat Happening"

Tension at the office

I'll take this break from the playoffs to note that in yesterday's ESPN Keith Law chat he made this comment on a potential Johan for Jose Reyes trade.


"That wasn't a rumor - it was something a writer made up and claimed made sense for both sides, which is true if you assume Omar has an IQ of 12. "

Interesting because that was from Buster Olney's blog only a few days earlier. I wonder what Keith and Buster will talk about the next time they run into each other at the water cooler in Bristol.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

New thread

Given it's the playoffs, and the Red Sox are in said playoffs, we should probably be posting more. I'm of course the worst offender, as I seem to never have anything interesting to say (other than
"I'm going to the game!!!!! :) :) :) !!1!!" or "Josh Beckett is awesome!!!!"). X, the smart one, has a bad habit of introducing new interesting topics in the comments. So, here's a new thread, focusing on two burning questions I have:

1) What's the best first name in the playoffs - Ubaldo or Asdrubal?
2) Any predictions for tonight?

(My answers, in no particular order, are "5-4 Sox" and "Asdrubal".)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

So, uh...

...I just found out I'm going to the game tonight. My work has season tickets that we share; I won the Game 1 lottery. Which is weird because I never win anything.

Holy crap. Hopefully tonight will extend my Sox-Angels playoff game record to 2-0.

Update: In comments, GR correctly pointed out the obnoxiousness of this post. Sorry about that - I was a bit in shock. If it helps, I'll be traveling for work outside the US for every other playoff game, so will only read about the results.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Greatest Game Ever

I know the memory is so fresh and it will take some time to see where this one falls out.....

But I am really going to have to think about this game last night and where it ranks. Seriously top 5. Game 7 2001, Game 6 1975. I think the Mazeroski game might make the list, but I didn't see that one obviously. Game 7 of the 91 series (Morris shutout). Both game 6s in the LCS of 1986 - the Hendersen HR and the Mets 16 inning game (after tying in the 9th).

This was even better than the Dave Roberts game since the Sox were down 3-0. If they win that game and then lose game 5 or even game 6, that steal/game is really just a footnote. Should the Rockies win the WS or even just get there, I think this game will grow in "importance."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Rotation is Set

Beckett in Game 1, Daisuke in Game 2, and Schill in Game 3. Wake in the pen...

That means Schilling will have a ton of time in between starts.

Also, Lester had two solid innings in relief yesterday...I wonder if that is in the plans?

Not to Scream Over Small Things, but...

Tom Singer of MLB.com wrote the following about the Red Sox and Angels:

"Both teams may regard this as the biggest obstacle to the World Series: The Red Sox went 5-2 against Cleveland and see so much of the Yankees, they're always willing to take their chances with them; and the Angels held their own while splitting 10 games with the Indians, and always like their karma against the Bombers."

A couple of small points to make here. One, both teams are whole-heartedly focused on this series because it doesn't matter if you don't make it out. Two, the Indians are playing much better ball than the Angels right now, and probably the Sox. Three, I am not sure the Angels or the Sox don't view the Yankees as the biggest hurdle, especially the Sox (losing a large portion of the last 10 games against them). The Sox are "always willing to take their chances with" the Yankees? I don't think they're scared, but my guess is they'd rather go LAA, Cleveland on the road to the Series than have to play the Yankees...

I know it is Tom's job to drum up interest in this post-season matchup. The rest of his article is interesting, but just took it a little too far...