Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 AL East Predictions

80 minutes and counting until 2011 kicks off! So I thought it was only fitting that we start the 2011 predictions. I have elected to break it up by league and Division and will try to post 1 new division a day for the next week or so. (In the end it will be a good test to my motivation, especially when we have to look at the NL).

Now for our own backyard. AL East standings at the end of this year (drum roll)

Red Sox 97 wins
Yankees 95 wins
Rays 88 wins
Toronto ~.500
Baltimore ~.500

Essentially, I have to go with the fact that the Red Sox had, on paper, the best off-season. It was a lot of fun to watch the line up last night (last preseason game). Jacoby, Pedroia, Crawford, Gonzalez.... HOLY COW! Per the previous post, if the starters can improve slightly, the offense holds or improves, and the bullpen improves a lot we should be in good shape to take the East. Of course, this is barring the injury bug that crushed us last year.

Per X's point, the Yankees are too rich and have too much talent to discount. That being said, I do think they are vulnerable. They haven't had the injury bug in a while and they have some aging players. In the end, if they stay healthy I think they are a lock for the wildcard.

Tampa Bay will give it a good run, but will fade. Especially, after Manny hits 20 HR in the first half and checks out mentally. Their pitching is good, but young and that might work the first time around. But as hitters in the AL East get more looks they will start to lock in. So I see a pretty significant second half fade.

Toronto will be above average as will Baltimore. I think Baltimore has some up and coming pitchers that will make it interesting. But neither team has the depth to last deep into the season. I can't wait for the huge slump the O's will experience at some point in the second half. Showalter will blow his cool in some completely crazy way.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sox Starters Unpredictable at Best

When I look through the Sox starting rotation, I know that I should feel pretty good about the guys they have. Look at the names: Beckett, Lackey, Lester, Buchholz, Matsuzaka. Throw into the equation that spring training starts literally mean nothing, and what are you left with? Gut feeling and that is all.

Having Matsuzaka as your number 5 guy is impressive. Was he good last year? For a number 5, he was fine. You'd like to see more innings from him, but 9-6 with a mid-4's ERA is not terrible. Again...for a number 5. And does last year's performance mean anything this year? Not really. The Sox have made some tweaks in his regimen. Now it is wait and see.

Lester has developed into one of the premiere left-handers in the game. He's the one guy the Sox can hang their hat on.

Buchholz emerged last year as the clear number two in the Sox rotation. But, like Dice-K, he is still an unknown.

The clearest part of this puzzle is that the Sox need more from Beckett. Lackey, despite local criticism, had a typical Lackey year. I think, with his associated price tag and previous playoff hype, Sox fans expected a number 1 when he arrived. But, Beckett's season last year was abysmal by Beckett standards. He hasn't had a great spring training, either. But, as stated above, spring training means nothing. The Sox can't have another year of 6-6 with an ERA near 6 if they expect to make a series run. The need a healthy Beckett.

This rotation could go either way. It has the potential to be the deepest in the majors. It also has the potential to be middle of the pack.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Down the Line - Sox Dcoumentary

I had read some good stuff about this documentary (now airing in mlb network) about the behind the scenes work of the Fenway Park workers. I was pretty happy to sit down and watch given that baseball season can't come soon enough.

Some pretty good stuff, mostly about how the clubhouse kids work silly hours to basically clean the spikes of the players and unpack their bags when returning from a road trip.

My real problem with the show was the complete fictional timeline the producers create. Granted, I am nitpicking here. The real story is about the dedicated employees who are probably underpaid, overworked,etc. But if the producers are going to pretend that this is a "real" timeline, then make it a real timeline.

The documentary starts with rain coming down and the tagline "2:32:Red Sox due home from West Coast trip any minute."

Then they proceed to tell how the guys work all night to get ready for the game the next day. Cut to Fenway park "the next day." And they show pregame coverage of the game. Batting practice, fans mulling about the Stadium. In the footage, the CF scoreboard clearly shows the date as July 15, 2010 (more on that later). The "game" proceeds. Wake takes his warm ups, their is a rain delay, and the Sox win in the 11th.

All good, except

Returning from a West Coast trip? July 15 was the first game after the All Star break.

July 15 was started by Wake. But the Sox lost.

The Sox did win a game vs TEX on the play they showed (a Youk walk off Sac Fly), but that was July 17. There was even a fan in the pregame coverage carrying a Cliff Lee sign, which makes since as Lee was the pitcher in the Saturday the 17th game.

So why did the producers have to take liberties with the facts? Did they not think people could check this stuff? Silly.

Other than that? Decent stuff.

Oh and why is mlb2K11 showing Longoria as this big time HR hitter? I mean, you had, what 22 HR. Same as JD Drew.

Monday, March 07, 2011


Wow...despite the new additions to the Sox, I just can't seem to muster any excitement, yet, for the upcoming season. I guess one might attribute it to the excitement around the Bruins, or maybe just the success of the Sox in general.

Could it be that rooting for a team like the Bruins reminds one of the 86-year struggle Sox fans went through? Is there more excitement in a team struggling to win rather than one that's recently won?


Is it the professional demeanor of the Sox?


Is it the band wagoners that are just enjoying the winning and buying all the tickets making it next to impossible for others to go?

I'll tell you what a big portion of it is for me (and LISTEN up Sox Front Office and NESN). It's the incessant advertising. In between almost every pitch the camera pans Fenway (or other ball park) and a burn appears on the screen. Orsillo or Remy's voice reads the copy. Or...Friday night games...Not only do you get the countless commercials, but you get the booth guests.

It is NOT the speed of the game. If allowed, Remy and Orsillo could lay out strategies and options for the next pitch. The director would not cut 10-12 times in between each pitch (except to maybe show player positioning and pitch calling).

Nope...the Sox have commercialized the game to death. I understand that they need revenue to compete. I guess. I do make the trips to the New York area (family down there), and I'll watch the Yankees or Mets games. Aside from the fact that their announcers aren't very good, you at least don't get killed with non-stop product placement. One can't enjoy the game when one feels they are watching 3 hours of commercials. It isn't cohesive. The game has a flow that NESN and the Sox don't want to get across on television. They are too busy trying to suck pennies from their viewers.

The Bruins games have very little of this. The games keep moving. The announcers provide great play-by-play and thorough analysis. The Sox brass have made big moves to bring back TV viewers by acquiring players. They should look, however, at their over-advertising as the next move. Maybe then, we can start to enjoy the televised games.