May 2006

Rocket pursuit lands with thud

You have to give the Red Sox credit. They broke out the video, they made the recruiting trip, they pulled out all the stops. In the end, a Hall of Fame pitcher from Houston decided to stay in Houston.

In reality, this thing ended the second Drayton McLane emptied the vault and offered to pony up the pro-rated $18 million. Oh well, it was just too comfortable for Roger in Houston. You can’t really begrudge him for that.

Now, it’s time to figure out what the Red Sox are going to do with their rotation. Obviously there are no complaints with the front three: Schilling,Beckett and Wake. That’s a solid trio. But Clement is a mess and we have no clue what Wells will be able to deliver.

Perhaps the answer will come internally with Lester by about July.

Is it worth trading a major prospect for D-Train?

later,

Ian.

Heartbreaker

Yes, it is one of my favorite Led Zeppelin songs and it also seemed like an appropriate headline for tonight’s game. I am not in Toronto. I’m enjoying three days of downtime before joining the team in Detroit and New York for the final two legs of the trip.

I had a great day, enjoyed the weather, chased my three sons all around the earth, and put my toes in the frigid Atlantic Ocean.

Caught some of the game on the radio, but didn’t really watch any of it. When Varitek hit the homer, you had to think they were going to win, but the loss of Timlin was never as glaring as it was tonight. They are going to be scrapping for success in that eighth inning over the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, I’ll be on ESPN 890 AM from 5 to 7 p.m. if anyone wants to listen or chime in. Yes, shameless plug, but what the heck. My wife made me do it.

Later,

Ian.

Newsy Sunday

Sunday mornings are usually among the slowest when it comes to pre-game news in the clubhouse. Today was different from the moment I walked in. The lineup card, which is posted the first step in the door right in front of where Johnny Pesky’s locker resides, had Coco Crisp leading off and playing center field.

We thought it was a day early, but Terry Francona said this morning that all along Sunday was a strong possibility and he just didn’t want to throw it out there in case something changed.

The good news of Coco’s return comes with the bad news of Wily Mo Pena going on the DL. He’ll get his wrist examined a little more to see what the deal is.

Manny is out of the lineup for another day as his back and knee are both bothering him. Youk is hitting cleanup. Willie Harris is playing left.

And now we find out Timlin also goes to the DL with a shoulder strain. The Red Sox don’t have much of a bullpen today. Papelbon and Foulke are both unavailable because of how much they’ve been used lately. That leaves the late innings up to Tavarez, Seanez, Delcarmen, Riske and Van Buren.

No decision made yet on Wells, but Francona reports he was riding the exercise bike last night, which was certainly encouraging.

More later,

Ian.

Boomer belted on knee

Fenway came to a quick hush tonight when David Wells crumpled to the ground in agony after taking that Travis Lee laser off his surgically repaired right knee. It seemed like such a cruel twist of fate, Boomer looked awesome tonight, just like the guy who pitched so well down the stretch last year.

Oh well, deep contusion is the early report. That beats a fracture.

And the Red Sox finally got Kazmir. More later.

Ian.

A night off

I won’t be at tonight’s game. Instead, I will be rocking at the Garden watching Pearl Jam.

But everyone please feel free to post and let me know what i missed during tonight’s game. I want details, details and more details, and then maybe I won’t have to watch the NESN re-run or the condensed game on-line.

Beckett has been hot. I would imagine he will keep it up for a while. And speaking of hot, I think Manny has smoke coming out of his ears right now.

Coco still leading man

For those of you who might be wondering if there is a leadoff controversy in store, considering how great Youkilis has done since Coco has been out, consider the issue to be over.

Terry Francona made it clear today that Coco will lead off when he comes back, which figures to be Monday night in Toronto. Youkilis said he doesn’t care at all, and that spots in the order are irrelevant.

Personally, I agree with Tito. The team is much better off with the Coco-Loretta combo at the top. Loretta is such a great bat handler that they’ll be able to capitalize on Coco’s speed.

In other developments, Damon and Posada aren’t playing tonight.

More later,

Ian.

-15

When I woke up this morning after a short night of sleep and drove to Fenway Park for the annual privilege of playing in the Boston-New York media game, I never dreamed that our team would get 0 runs, 5 hits and 10 errors. That is a linescore from ****.

Yes, we lost, 15-0; The NY squad had 11 hits and three errors to go with their 15-spot. This was a bad day from the start. We were down 7-0 before we took an at-bat. And yes, i made one of our 10 errors, fielding a ball super cleanly at second base and then airmailing the throw to first, Chuck Knoblauch style.

From a personal standpoint, the day wasn’t all bad. I finally broke my 0-fer in media games (this was my fifth career game) by raking a single up the middle. I flew to center in my other at-bat. It is a good feeling to get a basehit at Fenway, it was long overdue. And i want to give a shoutout to my boy Mark Feinsand from Yankees.com, who got a serious rope of his own, right up the middle.

The Boston team has a score to settle when we go to the Bronx on June 7 for our rematch.

Before that day comes, I want to say that the NY team has some real good players. Jack Curry of the NY Times can rake and is a terrific third baseman. Anthony McCaron of the NY Daily News has a deadly bat. Tyler Kepner also of the NY Times, though not overpowering, has terrific control and threw a five-hit shutout over eight innings today. That is impressive stuff. Tom Verducci of SI fame is also one of their better players, a slick shortstop and a good hitter, but he wasn’t even there today. Good thing for us.

As for our team, our catcher Mike Petraglia should be commended. He had to endure all 15 runs behind the plate. Mike is a good catcher, he always plays hard. Now, we just have to give him some pitching and defense in NY and I think the bats will come around.

More later,

Ian.

Adjustment made

Curt Schilling challenged himself to make adjustments last time out and that’s exactly what he did. He said he was overthrowing his fastball, so tonight, if you noticed, the radar gun readings were consistently in the low 90s and the man’s location was pinpoint. His split was the best it has been all year.

If Schilling can successfully make the adjustment from a fireballer to a painter — a low 90s painter– that can only bode good things for the Red Sox. This guy is such a smart pitcher that you have to think he will make the necessary adjustments.

Much like Bill Parcells’ press conferences were must-listen when he coached the Patriots, a post-start Schilling presser falls into the same category. He is entertaining and insightful and nearly always gives you some choice annecdotes.

Tonight he spoke of how a friend of his who has ALS and e-mails him before every start told Schilling, "I lost the ability to talk and
to walk, and if all you have to do is make an adjustment on your fastball, get
your frickin [butt] out there and make an adjustment."

Well put. I also enjoyed listening to Schilling talk about how this version of the Yankees, minus Matsui and Sheffield, needs to be stomped on. Most pitchers would say, "They’re still a Major League team" and then utter a bunch of other boring cliches. Schilling is realistic and he notes that this is the time to pounce on those Yankees.

Did everyone enjoy watching Alex Cora tonight? I wonder if the Red Sox would be better suited having Cora in the lineup more often. He does all the little things and is a better hitter than Gonzalez. He also holds his own defensively.

Obviously the big concern tonight was Foulke. He had nothing. It seems as if he’s sort of hit a plateau. You wonder if he is ever going to regain that level that made him such a great closer two years ago. I’m not seeing it, but who knows.

Boomer in the rotation on Friday. That’s great news.

As for the fact that he’s not talking to the media, big deal. I think we’ll all survive. His quotes were taken out of context? I was there. He should know better. How long has he been around now? He should know how the game works. When he says things, it’s going to get in print and fans and other players are going to interpret it however they wish.

To me, David Wells is the Charles Barkley of baseball. He talks first and thinks later. Whatever. He should just pitch, and talk to the media only about his own pitching and not wax poetic on his opinions of issues, unless he is prepared for the fallout when those opinions are aired!

Oh well, that’s all for me.

Ian.

A Rocket re-entry?

OK, we are getting to the final stages of decision time for Roger Clemens. His agent is no longer acting as if Roger is leaning toward retirement, even though all of us knew that he was not going to retire in the first place.

Why not Boston?

I think people are too quick to just assume that Clemens will take the comfort of pitching at home in Houston. Assuming this really is his last go-around, why not finish where you started?

Why not pass Cy Young in wins on the team’s all-time list. Why not pass Cy Young in shutouts on the team’s all-time list? Clemens is tied in both of those categories. Why not gain closure with the fan base that originally embraced you and helped enhance your early legend?

Why not have a happy ending in Boston, then get No. 21 on the facade in right next to Yaz and Ted and Bobby D. and Joe C. and Pudge?

If I’m Rocket, and trust me i’m not, I would pick Boston. It is easily the most enticing alternative.

The money is going to be the same eveyrwhere. Probably about $3.5 million per month. He is perhaps the greatest pitcher of all-time, and to bring him back to this situation and give him that type of ending, I think the money is worth it for the Sox.

How about going into a postseason series with a rotation of Beckett-Schilling-Clemens-Wakefield in any particular order? Those four, plus a bullpen of Timlin, Foulke and Papelbon, with Hansen probably playing a role later in the year, and you’re talking about the best collection of arms in baseball.

It’s not as if the Red Sox need to make any more of a sales pitch than they already have. They’ve done the video, they’ve told him they will show him the money, they have one of his best friends in life (Al Nipper) as the pitching coach. First base coach Bill Haselman was once his personal catcher. The circumstances are all right. The stars seem to be aligned.

It is now up to Rocket, and Rocket only. Here’s hoping he makes the call that Red Sox players, journalists and fans are hoping for, and comes to Boston, creating the best storyline of all.

Ian.

A stolen victory?

What a gutwrenching way to lose on Wednesday night. Papi smashes a two-run shot to turn a three-run deficit into a one-run deficit. The Sox get a gift when Tejada falls down as he’s about to throw Wily Mo out at first.

And then, Willie Harris comes off the bench to run for Wily Mo. Never did it enter my mind that Willie Harris would try to steal. Trot is a gap hitter with power, so in my mind, Harris is in the game so he can score on a double or get to third on a single.

Trot Nixon is one of those guys you want up in the clutch, particularly against a hard-throwing righty. Those are the type of guys that Nixon has feasted on over the years. But the bat was taken out of his hands.

Harris admitted after the game that he had seen the hold sign on the first pitch. He did not see it prior to the second pitch, so he took off. Harris was told by either Francona or one of the coaches after the game that when the hold sign is on for the first pitch, that implies that it’s on for the whole at-bat. Harris took the blame and admitted he screwed up.

I thought it was very classy for Francona to avoid answering the question about whether Harris missed the sign. This is why guys like playing for Tito. He didn’t see any gain in criticizing his player publicly, yet we found out from Willie that the message got across where it needed to — behind closed doors.

Willie Harris can be a sparkplug for this team. He’s not Dave Roberts, but he does have good speed. I just hope that next time he’s in that situation with a guy like Trot at the plate, he doesn’t take the bat out of his hands.

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