A Matsuzaka Monday

Here I am, in sunny Sarasota, ready to watch the latest nationally — and internationally — televised edition of the ongoing spring series called Dice-K Mania.

Can he build off that brilliant outing last time out against the Pirates? This will be his longest outing, expect it to be six innings or 95 pitches, whichever comes first.

I’m sure all of you are looking forward to the matchup between Matsuzaka and future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. For my money, Griffey still has the sweetest swing in the game. Love watching him. Griffey is hitting cleanup. Big, bad Adam Dunn is hitting second. I’m sure we’ll feel the breeze from the press box on some of his swings and misses.

Alex Gonzalez is also in the lineup for the Reds, so we get our first Lugo-Gonzalez matchup.

Papelbon will pitch the seventh inning, followed most likely by Craig Hansen and Kyle Snyder.

As for the final pitching spots on the roster, Terry Francona would like to have it settled before the team leaves for Philadelphia on Thursday evening. As Tito himself put it, "We won’t be having a pitch-off in Philly."

ON that note, I’ll be back later.

Ian.

15 Comments

Dice-K looked decent today. A little wild, but the stuff was there. Apparently it didnt matter too much, as 5 no hit innings isnt such a bad day, eh?

A good outing, i guess.

He’s still learning how to deal with MLB hitters. He probably learned : ” hey, those guys won’t chase my pitches, i better throw strikes “.

And he will, i’m pretty sure of that. In a SI article this week, when asked what is his favorite part of being a pitcher, he said : ” outthink the batters and trying new things with them “.

I bet that’s what he was doing today.

The no-no out weighs the rest, walks nulify hits, good outing. With Shill and JB strong it should be a strong pitching year.

Poor Hansen. 5 runs in an inning…that’s gotta hurt.

I always felt that him and Delcarmen were called up to the bigs way too early and for Hansen, it really showed today.

At least he’ll have a chance to fix it all back down in AAA soon enough.

As for Dice-K, if he can be wild and still have a 5-inning no-hitter, now I really can’t wait for the start of the season :-D

I think the Sox front office, and fans of Red Sox Nation, had unreasonable expectations for Hansen and Delcarmen. We thought they would somehow thrive in the big leagues last season, despite needing to get time at Pawtucket. I think they are still both top prospects, and they can be very effective relievers. They just need to spend 2007 at Pawtucket. With guys like Bryan Corey, Javier Lopez and Devern Hansack among others at Triple-A (Travis Hughes and Craig Breslow also pitched well in their spring training appearances), the Sox have options other than Hansen and Delcarmen for the back of the bullpen.

Jeff

http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

Alright. I have a question fo ryou people with the magic stat finding powers. I can’t find this info myself..

I know that Matsuzaka’s fastball tops out at 95-96. What’s his changeup’s velocity?

I watched the game pretty closely yesterday… looks like Matsuzaka’s change-up came in around 80 mph most of the time.

Have the Redsox abandoned their team buffet after games? Maybe its that the steriods era is finally over? In any case, I think Lugo, Crisp, and Pedroia could all fit inside Big Papi’s uniform. That was the shrimpiest line-up I’ve seen since the 70’s. I hope we at least see some speed this year.

Kyle Snyder made the team. Good for him. He’s versatile so he’ll be helpfull in many ways, especially if Tavarez don’t deliver early on as a starter.

They said last spot will be filled by either Delcarmen or Lopez. My toughts are with Delcarmen. My money is with Lopez. One way or another, it will be a short stay.

6 days left.

well rsox_34, you bet your money in the right place Lopez made the cut.

Also Dice-K has nothing to be ashamed about in his performance. When Anibal Sanchez threw his no hitter last year he tallyed 4 BB. Walks allow for the hitter not to get a hit. He also had 104 pitches which might mean he doesn’t need another outing before opening day.

Sandy Koufax in his first no-hitter, age 26, same as Dice-K, also had 5 BB, along with 13 K’s. However Dice-k pitched 5 innings, Koufax 9. Over the next 4 innings Dice-K could have come to 10 K’s, in he gained control.

Dice-K should be just fine. I pencil him for 15 or 16 wins and a ratio BB/K of 1/3.

I might add 200+ IPs, 180 Ks and 3.70 ERA. Well, not bad.

Maybe a Cy Young run too, but that’s fan talk here. ROY ? Maybe. Am i pushing too far ? If i am, well, i don’t care ! Fans will be fans.

Spring Training is almost over and opening day is 5 days so I think its a good time for predictions.

NL West: LA Dodgers

Ya can’t deny the level of starting pitching the Dodgers have this year. Great starting pitching wins titles IMO. The lineup is not powerful at all and thats before they gave up JD Drew, now it is extremely weak, but this is the NL, a terrible league where mediocre teams thrive, so if they can manufacture runs which their lineup is very capable of doing especially with the arrival of Juan Pierre, a 60 SB guys, this team will win the West.

The padres will be runner up and come very close to winning the west as they have a way better line up than the dodgers, that being said it is still weak with no major big bat. The starting pitching is very underrated but one of the best in the NL IMO.

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

Another very mediocre team but more stable than any other team in this division. The Cubs spent a lot but spent a lot on some sketchy guys. The astros don’t have the starting pitching depth thanks to the inevitable loss of Clemens IMO or the bullben dependiability to thrive as Brad Lidge is still trying to fight a way nightmares of the Puljos homer in 05. The Cards got Mulder and Carpenter to anchor their staff which is very good and look good enough down in the bullben. The lineup can be summed up in one word and will be the reason why the lineup will stay very consistent: Puljos.

NL East: NY Mets

The Mets are a juggernaut, by the NL standards, thanks to their spending last year and the club of overpayed pieces actually meshed well last year. Team chemistry is key to any winner IMO and their squad should be even tighter this year. The offense won’t be a problem but much like their NY counterpart thieir starting pitching is very, very shady. With the loss of Pedro last year and the reports that he’ll be back late in the year the man the Mets are leaning back on as their ace is Tom Glavine. Glavine is old and is not what he used to be but will give their team a consistent outing game after game. I can’t even recall the rest of their rotation which is part of the problem. Their bats will lead them to the top of the division while the Braves and Phils end up behind. The braves will return to a fragment of their glory thanks to a good staff and a good lineup, bullpen’s not that good though. While the phils have an above average rotation and Howard, Utley, and Rollins in their lineup. The Phils are a potential sleeper this year IMO.

Now to the superior, more important, and the only league anyone really cares about.

AL West: A’s

SI had the Angels winning the division and the world series to that I say What?!!?! The Angels have a good starting rotation alibi some injury problems with Bartolo Colon and now Jered Weaver but Ervin Santana and John Lackey are very very good pitchers who can hold down this staff IMO. But the lineup is mediocre to say the least. Its Guerrero and thats it. Guerrero will be walked A LOT and know one else has the great of ability to drive in runs except for Juan Rivera but he’ll be out till mid summer. The A’s have one of the best Staffs in all of baseball IMO with a healthy Rich Harden and very possible breakout years for Joe Blanton and Dan Haren. Also they have one of the premiere closers in the game in Huston Street who, when healthy which could be a problem, can shut a team down every day. The lineup is not that great but is good enough with a potentially reinvigorated newly DHed Piazza and the continuing rise of Nick Swisher and the star power of Eric Chavez. Plus you never know if Bobby Crosby can tap his huge potential.

AL Central: Tigers

The Tigers, needless to say, vastly over acheived last year as their rookies carried the team and led them to the World Series. These rooks haven’t even matured yet and that makes them even more dangerous. The bullpen is above average with flame throwers Zumaya and Rodney to name a few and the “he had 37 saves?” Todd Jones as their closer. The lineup got a major boost with the addition of Gary Sheffield who the through spring training looks like he hasn’t lost much. The lineup last year was good even without a real legit big bat and now they have one which could get them over the hump as one of the leagues great offenses. If Liriano played this year I’d have the Twins to win it again but hes not and although the Twins are very good on all aspects of the game (Nathan in the pen, Morneau and Mauer in the lineup, and Santana) they are not good enough to lock it up in this powerhouse division. Another team to watch out for is the other sox with their very potent offense ok pen and staff. 3rd place for them probably. A major sleeper is the Indians.

AL East: Red Sox

As much as it pains me to potentially jinx this team I gotta put em here. The obvious major improvement of the rotation with the bringing in of Dice-K is the main factor but there are some others too. Schilling still wants to show he is still a top pitcher and coming off a very strong year last year with 15 wins and a good ERA hes shown hes healthy and will be just as good as last year if not better IMO. Beckett is a puzzle to say the least. The pressure off of him unlike last year thanks to Dice-K should help and the main factor why he did so bad is he went from the **** that is the NL to the extremely powerful AL East. I think adjustments will and have been made and I think he’ll bring down that huge ERA he had last year. Plus lets not forget Beckett won 16 games last year. He showed flashes of brilliance last year but they were overshadowed by his very poor performances. Breakout year? very possible. Then you got the change of pace in Wakefield who will just about guarnteed give u a lot of innings every year and should be consistent enough. Then thanks to the decision to solidfy the pen Papelbon is gone so that leaves Tavarez. He did great in the starting role in the last month of the year and might harness a shade of that which is all the sox are asking. I don’t see him lasting the whole year in this spot though with the return of Lester or maybe even Clemens. With the moving of Papelbon to the closer role the biggest ? was answered and ended making us realize that this bullpen could be very good. R they the best? no way but the reason that couldn’t find a closer to replace Pap was because these guys are role players who can eat up the 6, 7, or 8. Donnely is consistent, Romero is usually good, and Piniero has potential plus there are many lefty arms this year to combat the lefty blitz of the Yanks. The lineup is very very good but the only reason it does not get the recognition the Yanks lineup gets is that well its not as good but more importantly there is less star power. Lugo is a great addition to fill in the leadoff spot and Youkilis is and OBP machine and is poised for a breakout year as this’ll be only his second year playing a full schedule. Ortiz and Manny will be Ortiz and Manny and the new 5th man JD Drew, despite the constant criticism, is a pure hitter who is also an OBP machine and swing is tailored made for Fenway. Lowell has the potential to get 25-90 if he can get a little more feet on those doubles (all 40 something of em), Varitek will bounce back with the absence of the WBC and being healthy now. Coco can run wild now and is healthy, and Pedroia could be ROY or at least have a good year, ya gotta stress hes a 9 hitter and no one expects much either than to do his role.

The Yankees have the best lineup in baseball thats a fact, but the Starting pitching and pen is will be their demise this year. The staff is already getting injured (Pettite and Wang), Pavano is an injury risk and it doesn’t seem like hes thrown a pitch in the majors since 03, Igwaga is not showing his worth in spring training and I think will be mediocre in the MLB, like a Japanese Jaret Wright. The Yanks reliance on old pitchers who have injury problems will sting eventually and Wang will not get as lucky as he did last year meaning less run support and more of those grounders finding holes. The pen is ok with Proctor, Fansworth, and Rivera anchoring it but the facts are Rivera is getting on in years and is starting to show it. He doesn’t come out just about every day anymore and might even get injured like last year. Proctor is the only other consistent reliever, with Fansworth being either 98 mph fastball good, or 98 mph fastball hit 450 feet bad.

The Blue Jays are once again a sleeper in this divison but poor managing (another player/manager brawl possibly?) and the lack of depth in the rotation could lead to 3rd. Burnett has never proven he can stay healthy leaving Halladay to alone anchor the rotation. The pen is solid with BJ Ryan, one of the best closers in the league, at the helm. And the lineup is very good with Wells, but i don’t see Frank Thomas to be as effective this year without the motivation to prove his former team wrong.

AL Wild Card: Yankees

NL Wild Card: Padres

Well there you go. playoffs will just be there cuz i already previewed the teams.

[U]NLDS[/U]

Padres over Mets

Dodgers over Cardinals

[U]ALDS[/U]

Yankees over Tigers

Red Sox over Twins

[U]NLCS[/U]

Dodgers over Padres

[U]ALCS[/U]

Red Sox over Yankees

[U]World Series[/U]

Red Sox over Dodgers

The Padres over the Mets really?

I think their rotation has a distinct possibility of surprising a lot of people. Glavin and El Duque are both solid, Maine had a good year last year, and I think Pelfrey and Perez could surprise a few people. It’s their bull pen that looks the shakiest right now. Either way I still pick the Sox to win it all.

With Pap in the pen how cool would it be if the Rocket became our number 5? 4 aces and a knuckleballer? Ahh good dreams.

I’m not really sure which spring training you have been watching. Rivera showing his age? He added a changeup and do batters batting 4/31 this spring give you the feeling that he will struggle? Let’s not write him off until he gives reason to, he said recently he feels healthy enough to pitch until he is 43.

Igawa has not shown his worth? He makes 5 million a year and he has a sub 3 era this spring. In fact, his numbers are in the spring ballpark of Matsuzaka, though nobody expects them to have even numbers during the year. The point is, how is he not showing his worth? Matsuzaka: 17.2 innings. Igawa: 17. Why is one an ace and the other Jaret Wright?

Vizcaino had solid numbers last year and has been added to the bullpen from the johnson trade, Bruney has a 1.50 ERA in the spring with ridiculous k/9 and K/BB ratios and he had a sub 1 ERA down the stretch last year in the regular season and the playoffs. Myers is a lefty specialist that gets the job done and Ortiz was 2/11 against him last year with a home run and a shift infield single.

All Yankees relievers projected to make the team have had solid springs.

Those are facts. Not wishful thinking.

Not to mention guys like Britton, Villone or Henn, Veras, Karstens, Bean and an assortment of other prospects have either shown mlb success already or are ready to, to call the Yankees bullpen their demise makes zero sense from an objectional standpoint.

Their rotation is a difference of opinion, obviously. That will either succeed or fail, but Wang is missing two weeks in the beginning of the season, this isn’t a crisis. Neither is Pettitte who won’t miss any regular season starts. Pavano is an injury risk, but he is healthy. And if any of these guys truly do get injured (which u failed to mention that I think Mussina is prob wantign to stay effective as badly as schilling), there are guys like Sanchez, Hughes, Karstens, Rasner, Ohlendorf and other prospects that can fill the void. Just like the Red Sox, the Yankees have plenty of depth on the farm for this season. You won’t see any Sidney Ponson’s or Jason Johnsons on either team. And Clemens can very well go to the Yankees or neither team as well.

Schilling’s numbers have been dropping each year, and I don’t think any season he isn’t trying to prove he can pitch. If you think his numbers will exceed last year’s that again, is wishful thinking.

The Yankees have two starters under 30 and 4 under 35. The Red Sox have 2 starters under 30 and 3 under 35. Who’s rotation is old again?

And yes, just like the Yankees, you guys have pitchers like Bard, Bucholtz, Cox and Lester to come up from the minors, but your sighting one team’s doom and the other’s glory, when they are in the same situations. Did Schilling or Wakefield pitch all of last season? No. Did Papelbon? No. Just like Mussina, Rivera, and Pavano. And Andy Pettitte, has thrown back to back 200+ inning seasons, yet he is injury proned. You know he’s been healthier more consistantly than schilling since 2005? Let’s actually look at the situation, please.

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