April 2006

Stern follow up

Little did I know when I posted that last blog that Adam Stern was going to be the most prominent figure of this game, making a bold, diving catch to save it for Papelbon.

The easy thing would have been for Stern to play the ball on one-hop as one or two-run single that would have made it either 7-5 or 7-6. But instead, he threw caution to the wind and made a tremendous catch.

  Frankly, I think the Red Sox will keep Stern on the roster until Coco returns. He’ll at least get to play against righties and serve as a valued defensive replacement, which definitely helped the Sox win this game.

  The one thing the Red Sox don’t want for Stern is for him to rot on the bench. As long as Coco is out, he won’t.

What an ending to tonight’s game. Manny finally has his big night, but he gets rendered to footnote status after they can’t hold the lead. Big, big hit by Youkilis with two outs in the eighth after Gonzalez strikes out. This kid can hit and he’s not scared.

You have to like the way the Red Sox are playing right now. It’s not like they’re winning with mirrors. They’re basically just playing winning baseball, mixing up hitting, pitching and timely D.

Schilling tomorrow. Talk to you then.

Ian.

Should Stern stay or go

After Thursdays game, the Red Sox have an interesting decision to make. Adam Stern’s Rule 5 eligibility requirement will be fulfilled so the club can option him back to the Minor Leagues.

Before Coco’s injury, it was a no brainer that they would do so. But what about now? Do they keep Stern up here to keep facing righties until Coco gets back? Or do they let him go to Pawtucket and concentrate fully on his development without the pressure of playing for the Red Sox. When you are suiting up for the Red Sox, development is very secondary to winning. And if Stern keeps taking lumps up here, you have to hope it doesn’t damage his confidence in any way.

  If they do decide to send Stern down, they could bring Willie Harris up and have him split center field with Dustan Mohr. Harris is a proven utility player who can offer spark and speed. Stern had been on a high for a little bit after his Team Canada exploits, and that seemed to carry over into his play. But he’s leveled off the last few days.

   Stay tuned on this one, it will be an interesting decision either way. I’d like to hear what you guys have to say about this.

   

Something to build on

Mark April 17 down as the first true character win for the 2006 Red Sox. Every team with championship aspirations needs games like this to bring them together. If there could be a qualm with the first 12 games of the season, it was that the Sox were too dependent on 3 men — Schilling, Beckett and Papelbon.

  This was one of those great wins where it seems like everyone who got in the game did something for the cause. Youkilis legging out the infield hit in the ninth was huge. And Loretta was in the catbird’s seat with Ortiz lurking in the on deck circle. He worked the count to 2-0 and then crushed it. Ballgame.

   Loretta needed a hit like that to get him going. Another underrated development today was Manny crushing two balls, though he didn’t get a home run to show for either one. This might not exactly be going out on a limb, but I really think Papi is going to hit 50 this year.

   Anyway, I had a good couple of days off, but i’m looking forward to getting back to Fenway tomorrow.

Until then,

Ian.

Bye for now

It’s been a fun first 11 games, but I’ll be taking the next two off before returning to the ballpark on Tuesday.

I’ll spend Easter at home with my family and then Monday is my wife Amy’s birthday. So here’s a shoutout to the lovely wife. Happy b-day!

Anyway, i’m sure i’ll be keeping tabs on the games from home, and perhaps even make a random posting or two. It should be fun to see Beckett tomorrow.

I’ll talk to you all later.

Ian.

Boomer back on DL

Yes, it is official, David Wells is going back on the DL with knee woes. a right knee sprain is the official word. he will undergo the same series of shots (synvisc) that Foulke had during Spring Training.

Unless things get out of hand in the bullpen the next two days, DiNardo will start Monday against the Mariners.

Interesting lineup today. Stern CF; Cora 2B; Ortiz DH; Ramirez LF; Youkilis 3B; Snow 1B; Pena RF; Bard C; Gonzalez SS and Wake on the mound.

more later, i need to write my notebook.

The Schill and the shortstop

So who among you predicted that Alex Gonzalez would be the hitting hero in tonight’s game? Whatever this guy gives you offensively — and it probably isn’t going to be much — is a big-time bonus.

Other random musings as I stare out my enclosed window in the press box and watch rain pour onto the field.

Schilling is back more than even his biggest backers could have predicted. He looks in complete control right now, able to reach back for whatever he needs at any time.

Manny looks awful at the plate, but how long can that last? He tok a good 30 minutes of extra batting practice before the game, and you know he’ll keep breaking down the tape until he solves his glitch.

Jason Varitek also doesn’t look right at the plate from either side, which is strange, because he’s usually a fast starter.

It’s going to be fun to see Coco get back out there. This team obviously loses a little spark without him and I think Loretta is feeling it. My sense is that Coco and Loretta are going to play off each other quite a bit.

Elusive momentum

It’s amazing how quickly things can change. The starting pitching had been lights out for five games in a row, and the last two nights, Wells and Clement haven’t been able to make it out of the fifth inning.

How can anyone know what to make of Wells at this point? Has he just gotten old overnight here, or is it simply a matter of a guy coming back from knee surgery and not having it his first time out there?

The next time Boomer takes the ball — Marathon Monday against the Mariners — it figures to be a must-see game.

  With Clement, you’d just like to see some consistency. He was so good last time out in Baltimore, and tonight, he was the complete opposite. Is he always going to be one of those up and down guys, or can he take his game to a level he’s been seeking for a while?

The good news is that the front three of Schilling, Beckett and Wakefield is looking strong, very strong.

  I’m sure the Red Sox aren’t too upset that Felix Hernandez isn’t pitching this weekend, but i’m kind of disappointed. I’d love to see this kid pitch. He’s supposed to be something. Oh well, they go to Seattle twice this year, so i’m sure we’ll see him at some point.

Ian.

Tavarez enters the mix

Reasonably quiet afternoon at Fenway today. I suppose the main news wrinkle entering tonight’s game is that Julian Tavarez will be eligible to pitch for the first time this season.

The bullpen has been so hot and the starters have been eating so many innings, that the Red Sox honestly didn’t miss Tavarez at all during his absence. That being said, his addition figures to be huge. This bullpen is loaded right now.

Tavarez has great control, he’s not afraid to pitch in big moments. But he needs to demonstrate some self discipline to survive in this environment.

Honestly, I was at City of Palms Park that day when he punched Joey Gathright, and to these eyes, it seemed completely unprompted. Tavarez basically just snapped. Gathright was just frustrated because Tavarez inadverdently stepped on his arm as he slid into home, and then he gave the pitcher a little nudge. Punching Gathright twice in the noggin wasn’t very intelligent, so hopefully Tavarez learned a lesson because the Red Sox are going to need him in that bullpen.

  More later,

Ian.

The Boomer

OK, so I was wrong on my Boomer prediction. He wasn’t exactly mowing them down those first two innings.

At the same time, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Wells was fairly atrocious during the first few weeks of last season, and from late May on, he was their best pitcher. He’s just one of those guys that when he misses his location by an inch or two, the results are going to be ugly.

  The Crisp signing was pretty unique. He just got here, yet the player and the club are already comfortable enough with each other to make a commitment through 2010.

Do you realize they will pay Crisp less than half of what they would have paid Damon if JD had accepted the four-year, $40 million offer? Quite a savings, and i’d be surprised if Damon and Crisp aren’t very similar from a numbers standpoint over the next four years. The one thing that could make the Damon/Crisp exchange a bad one is if Andy Marte develops into a superstar.

More later,

Ian.

Game 7 — the roll continues

You think Josh Beckett is fired up enough when he pitches? Talk about a guy who seems every bit as intense as the city he now performs in.

Beckett was hollering and screaming after his shaky first inning, and you have to love that display of emotion.

The team itself? This is a pretty good roll to start the season on. They are getting it done with their pitching and defense. The offense has kind of just gotten it done when needed, and wait until Manny starts hitting.

Mike Lowell with three doubles and four hits in his first game at Fenway. It’s hard to believe that Lowell won’t make a significant improvement this season just by the sheer fact of playing 81 games in this park.

Do you all realize how good Papelbon has been so far? Five outings, two baserunners. Good morning, good afternoon, good night. Just completely lights out.

Now they put the ball in Boomer’s hand tomorrow night. I think everyone is wondering what type of stuff he will have after the way he struggled in both Spring Training and his start at Pawtucket.

As Joe Torre used to say, "Boomer is Boomer."

Personally, I think he’ll be OK. i think the adrenaline rush of being at Fenway in front of a packed house will help Wells to a decent outing his first time out.

How was that for random ramblings — aside from the three typos I had the first time before my lovely wife edited it and told me to fix everything?

talk to you all tomorrow,

Ian.

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