Masterful decision

I’m not at Fenway today, but I was intrigued by the news that Justin Masterson is going back to Pawtucket to learn how to be a reliever. I think this could pay huge dividends for the Red Sox in the second half, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Buchholz joins him in the pen at some point.

Ortiz took BP in the cage and appears on track for a rehab shortly after the All-Star break.

Buchholz returns to start for the Sox on Friday against, oh yeah, that team that he no-hit at Fenway last year.

I’ll be back at Fenway tomorrow.

Ian.

53 Comments

Masterson will be a much needed lift to that pen when he joins them. I think Buchholz only joins the pen if Colon can’t stay healthy. If Colon stays healthy, Buchholz will be in the pen.

I want too see Dice-K go 7 innings tonight if not 8 innings. Anything less is unacceptable. Throw strikes early in the count and as Orel Hershiser just said finish hitters off.

Is anyone more classy than Mike Lowell in the big leagues? He declined to be on the list for the extra guy that is voted on by the fans. Lowell said it is a popularity contest and he is in a big market, so he declined. I agree with him but that speaks volumes of this guy’s character. If Lowell did not decline he would have won the vote. Dan Shulman was just talking about it during the game. Kudo’s to Mike Lowell!!

A 2 out walk with the bases empty, not good!!

Dice-K walks the tightrope. If your Delmon Young and you just watched Dice-K walk 2 people and load the bases why would you swing at the 1st pitch? I guess you could say he is young and dumb. I’m glad he showed no patience.

Lugo may be the worst short-stop we ever had, but Dice-K has to be the most stubborn pitcher (and player) we ever had. He gives no indication that he understands that (a) he will not be allowed to pitch 120 pitches, and (b) getting us threw 5 innings and 2 runs does not constitute a complete job.

Has Masterson every pitched in the reliever role before?

I think the only reason Crisp is in the lineup and Moss isn’t is Crisp will be dealt away. Crisp sitting on the bench does him and the team no good.

Nice play by Lugo, even though he is bad defensively

Tek and Lugo continue their strikeouts!!

Just to leave it on the record i believe Mike Lowell is an all-star, and he deserved to make the team, hes great, on and off the field.

A hit and run that worked for the Red Sox. That hasn’t happened in a while.

I think Masterson faces the same dilemma as Delcarmen, Hansen and Aardsma. He has issues finding the strike zone with consistency. I don’t know what makes anyone think he will be something more special than what is already out there. I don’t see anything particularly brilliant about this move. At this point, I think it’s more desparation than anything else. If they are going to convert Masterson, there’s not much he has to learn. He has to learn more about game preparation than anything else. Pitching is pitching.

I don’t see Buchholz ever going to the bullpen, again except for a desparation move. He’s a starter, period. You just can’t keep pumping guys to the bullpen. There’s no room out there unless they get rid of some people.

I can’t chastise Mike Lowell too much because he has had some big hits, but Crisp and Tek are hapless. Tek, ahead in the count, swings at a shoulder high pitch and pops out. How can the Sox have scored the second most runs in the American League. They don’t hit at all with RISP.

Ground Hog Day continues!!

Sox do it again. First and Third none out and we don’t score. Bases loaded and one out and again we don’t score.
I’m surprised that they don’t give Youk the hit sign when he is 3 and 0. He has nothing to lose with what’s behind him. Again. a disgrace.

If a similar situation occurs Tito shouldn’t hesitate to pinch hit for Crisp, Tek or Lugo. Stop waiting for them to come around. We can’t afford to give games away.

After a little bit of a shaky start, a nice effort by Dice-K tonight. The Sox need to get some runs this inning and get him a win. He needs to get the Sox through the seventh. I like that he’s throwing a lot more fastballs. It’s the pitch over which he has the greatest command.

Hey everyone,

Another great start by Dice-K. He’s learning the situation — with the Sox pitch a shut out every time and hope that you break the opposing team before you do. With all the frustration with Tek and Crisp, don’t forget Manny R. He’s the all star with the strike out bat. I seriously think the guys should try to hit the ball with their hands. It might increase their batting averages.

Lowell one at bat too late. We could have used it before. The way the Sox are swinging I think that they should look to hit to the opposite field instead of looking to pull the ball– particularly the right handed hitters, and especially Manny. The way he is swinging he has nothing to lose.

Let’s hope that Dice-K can avoid walks.

Dice-K got away with it this inning following that ruiness lead-off walk. Two line drives-one at Youk for the double play and, after the triple, a line drive to Lowell. Normally I would say that he is getting tired- but when you look at the alternative with our bullpen ?????

Dice-K wanted to finish this game tonight!! I like that mentality from him.

That looked like the Okajima of last season. Twins didn’t get any good wood against him. His fastball was well located, sneaky fast.

Time to get some runs!!! Momentum is on there side. Another solid start from a Boston starter. Dice-K’s best start of the year, hands down!!

Maybe Oki Dokie has found himself a little bit. Didn’t like the walk but he did what he needed to do. Maybe this was a little boost to his confidence.

Go Gremlin Boy!

Come on Manny!

Gsm–I wish Pedroia was a gremlin, put some water on him and then all of a sudden you have a whole bunch of them, lol.

LOL! Excellent Brian.

Manny comes through.

Manny with a clutch hit, nice!!! That is what it is all about.

Manny in the clutch!

Good to see Papi over there clapping. He wouldn’t be doing that if his wrist was hurting. I also don’t see any real brace on there. Maybe he’ll be ready to go after the All Star break…….. wouldn’t that be wonderful!!!!!!

From what you read I am expecting Ortiz in late July sometime. That would be a great sight too see him in the Red Sox lineup.

Ramirez’s hamstring is just fine. He ran pretty hard there.

Good to see Manny go the other way with the pitch instead of trying to pull it.

Let’s hope the fans get behind Pap and motivate him to pitch the way he can!!!

Come on Pap, finish ‘em

Manny going in the clutch, Papelbon not blowing a save, Oki holding his own, Dice-K solid — there is something wrong with the universe!

Tampa Bay also lost — everything is upsetting the balance. Can I stand it (LOL)

The best defensive team at the corners. What a great stop by Youk. Papelbon gets the Twins in order. I don’t remember the last time Papelbon came in and got the side in order. What a game, great defense by both teams, well played. Boston picks up a game with a T.B. loss earlier.

From a pitching perspective, a text book win. Pap isn’t blowing them away like we’re used to seeing. But at least he’s throwing strikes.

See you all tomorrow.

I had a chance to watch a game on my TV instead of my crappy computer monitor and it was great! What an exciting game. Dice-K looked great after a shaky start in the first and Oki came up huge, good game for Lugo with a nice play at short and a hit, and Dustin and Manny! Pap gets a nice easy save. Nice plays by Youk at 1b. Even Coco almost hit one out. Happy Happy!!

Oh man, oh. It was tough to being a Sox fan for the past 2 weeks. The SP was solid but the inconsistency of the BP continued and hopefully will end after JM returns as a reliever. There was always someone in the BP who faltered. One day it was Delcarmen, Hansen, the next day Aardsma or even Pap. It seems that Oki has turned around.
Dice K deserved a big W last night.

It’s really important that the Sox finish strong before the All Star game because the rest of their July schedule is really tough. They have six with the Angels, three with the Yankees and three in Seattle where they have been recently getting spanked. Seattle is also playing better ball now. Their All Star break is shortened by a day since they have to travel to the West Coast. Starting with Japan, this has been a really tough travel season for the Sox.

Observations: Ellsbury hit two balls very hard last night. Maybe that’s a sign of good things to come. Crisp has warning track power at Fenway. He might have three or four more home runs at other parks on balls he has hit very well at Fenway. Manny got a key hit, but only because the infield was in. He was still well behind a mediocre fast ball. Youk is a marvel at first base. He could win a second gold glove this year. Ellsbury has yet to make an error as a major leaguer and has many defensive gems to his credit. Could he be a gold glove contender?

Prediction: If Tek hits .265 for the year, the Sox win the East going away. If he starts to hit, the bottom of the order becomes a whole different animal to deal with……. plus, he drives in a bunch of runs because we know the guys in front of him are going to hit. I believe, even more than Papi, Tek is the one guy in the order who could make the biggest difference in the offense (along with Ellsbury).

Observations: (no whine! — this time anyway)

The Sox winning that game last night was disturbing because it reflected the major problems this team has.

1) Tek is done for the season offensively. He is a clutch hitter but will continue to bottom out on average. That’s just the way it is. he’s tired and stressed because of the losing streak of the Sox. Keeping an erratic pitching staff in order is burnout.

2) The bullpen is unstoppable if they have to face a batter or two. Having to go more than that unglues them. Manny D, Hansen — they all do well with one or two batters but beyond that they fall apart. Masterson in the bullpen is a reflection that they are desperate for a solution. If Masterson comes in then Hanson (or Timlin) go away. I don’t see Timlin though because they dumped some money in his lap in resigning him but I could be wrong.

3) Manny is done for the season. He’s not even improving. Tito is playing him in clutch for some miracle to happen but it won’t. Manny will hit .280 and not find another home run again till maybe September. He and Tek are bullet holes in the lineup.

4) Ellsbury will start hitting a bit but teams have figured him out and he can’t overcome it. He’ll hit with mistakes and that’s it. He can’t hit inside and it’s his great weakness and he’s not overcoming it. If anything it’s getting worse.

5) Papelbon’s days as a dominant closer are waning fast. He was unstoppable last season but right now teams are figuring him out and he’s being scouted like crazy and that has weakened him. He’s no longer dominant because everyone knows how to hit him. He will still be a great closer but he has weaknesses that teams will exploit.

6) The stress level on that team is unbelievable. Every game they win is a struggle. That wears you down. Unlike Tampa bay which is having fun out there the Sox are struggling to stay afloat. After the All Star Break watch the Sox tumble down fast. Last night’s game showed that they can’t generate offense to beat a team. They only one because of Dice-K.

Next Year:

If the Sox hope to win a series next year (I’m writing off this year at this point — but I could be wrong) they need to make some changes:

1) Lugo. We’re stuck with Lugo. We have to live with that. He’s getting better defensively but this is too much of a pressure cooker to live with with his level of talent.

2) Manny — Manny needs to stay I think. I think once 2008 goes away and a contract is in place we’ll see the old Manny back. This year is a loss. He’s just too much under pressure to perform and as much as he denies it, he’s breaking under the strain.

3) Dice-K
Dice-K had to overcome a language barrier and a mentality barrier and has done remarkable. He’s won 9 games for us and in fifteen starts has only had a couple of disasters. We all complain about his walks — but nobody and I mean nobody gets home. He’s remarkable. Manny D. would give up fifteen runs at that point. The pitcher knows how to pitch when the clutch happens. Keep him.

4) Oki
Oki is a fine pitcher and is coming back from the grave. We should absolutely keep him.

5) Manny D.
Try him one more year and then trade him. He’s got electric stuff but the pressure in Boston to perform is unrelentless. IMHO he will be traded next year.

6) Hansen:
Hansen will see the minors before this year ends. He doesn’t have the talent yet too hold a lead but will in time I think. It all depends on his confidence level.

7) Drew:
Like Lugo, Drew is a frustration at bat. He can’t hit but he’s a great defensive outfielder and that’s important. However, with Ortiz’s future in doubt, we may need another power hitter in the lineup.

Welcome comments.

Jon L. is going for the sox tonight after his shutout against the Yankees. I think that he will go 7 strong innings

Dave, that little rant ought to send the Sox on a 15 game winning streak.

I’m not ready to write off the 2008 season. The Sox have too many quality players and they have excellent starting pitching.

Manny is under pressure to perform to the tune of $20 million next year. His option belongs to the Sox and he needs to perform to earn it because if he doesn’t, the Sox won’t pick it up and nobody else will pay an aging outfielder with a slowing bat who now seems injury prone that kind of money. He worked out harder in the off season this past year than he ever did before. It might turn out that rest would have served him better.

Don’t let one game fool you. Lugo is a bonehead and he’s not on his way back to anything.

Ellsbury is young and will adjust. He has hit over .300 everywhere he’s been I expect he’ll be close to that before this is all said and done. People have put so much emphasis on speed that they have forgotten he is a big strong kid. Both pitches he hit hard last night were inside. When he turns on a ball, he can generate some pop. He’ll be fine.

I don’t see the problem with the bullpen being facing multiple hitters. The problem is the first hitter, and falling behind in the count and walks. How many times has Hansen or Delcarmen come out to start an inning with a three run lead and walked the first or first and second batter. Then they get behind in the count to the third hitter and have to throw something very ordinary down the middle of the plate. Before you know it, the three run lead is gone. It’s command and control, or more accurately, the lack of it that has been the bullpen’s downfall. The exceptions have been Lopez and Okie Dokie who have let a lot of inherited runners score, but at least for the most part, they throw strikes.

Dave,

And I thought I was hard on the Sox, LOL….

If I were calling the shots, I would make only few adjustments this year (if I could) and a few next year:
This year:
(1) Move Lugo and Hansen, if I could (probably not doable, but would try)
(2) Move Coco (especially if I could off load Lugo and/or Hansen as well) but only after Papi is proved healthy and the whole team for that matter
(3) Bring up Bobby Kielty (when will he be ready to go?)
(4) Make internal bullpen moves as we are doing with Masterson, etc.
(5) Maybe trade Colon for a BP arm? would that work? maybe contracts prohibit that, don’t know?

Next Year:
(1) Definitely move Lugo and Hansen (if not already done)
(2) Trade Coco (if still outstanding as well)
(3) Settle starting pitchers (replace Schill in rotation permanently) and settle bullpen (no Hansen)
(4) Keep Ramirez unless he really tanks this year

The Sox SP is solid. The Sox has to score runs with bases loaded or runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. I am confident that the Sox is playoffs bound at least as a WC. However, with the way they are playing, whether the Sox will go beyond the first round of playoffs heaven only knows especially w/o the home field advantage.

Boston Herald is reporting that SOX are indeed inquiring with other teams and possibility of upgrading at the short stop position, also catcher as well (longer term). Don’t know how they can accomplish that, but at least they are trying to fix the problem. Not sure why Jed Lowrie is not part of that solution, maybe he is — maybe they don’t think he is a Dustin Pedroia.

Here is my moves for this year:

(1)Trade Lugo
(2) Trade for a bullpen arm
(3) Either send down or trade Hansen
(4) Get another backup catcher who’s name isn’t Cash

Hey guys,

Great comments.

1) Naturally I agree unloading Lugo would be a great idea but remember that whomever replaces him will struggle the first year — it’s a rule it seems so make the move next year with a fresh team.

2) Do something about Lowrie. He will not stay with the team rotting in Pawtucket. That’s for quality players like Lugo.

3) Cash is fine. He’s a backup catcher and has a better throwing arm than Jason Varitek. He keeps Wakefield pitching (and he’s been spectacular) and that’s all you can ask of a backup catcher — ya a hit would be nice but that’s why he’s the backup catcher.

4) I struggle about Coco. he’s a good defensive outfielder and has a decent bat — it’s not great but it’s decent. He’s a good all around player and most teams would be happy with him. The problem is that Ellsbury looks so much better than him — he looks better than 90% of the outfielders in the league. Ellsbury is NOT the standard — he’s the exception. Any team would be happy with Coco Crisp. I’d say he sticking around though is not a great idea with Manny, Ellsbury, Drew and Moss. Too many bodies. One has too go and Crisp — who already whines too much about playing and oversells himself should go. He’s not a team player. He’s a ‘look at me’ player.

5) Hansen:
Hansen has good stuff — he really does and he’s young. I don’t think it may be time to get rid of him. Send him down and season him. He’s a good arm. For Manny Delcarman — give him 2009 season. If he hasn’t improved then it’s the time to say goodbye to Manny D.

6) Varitek
Lots of complaining about Jason and I understand it. He’s out of gas at the plate but nobody manages that pitching staff like him. He’s also NOT getting injured and getting the flu and strep throat is NOT getting injured. However, it’s true that Jason’s days are fewer as time goes on.

7) Finally Manny
I love Manny…when he’s hot at the plate he’s unstoppable. He’s also a VERY underrated fielder. He’s made some great catches. He has heart and it’s very clear he’s trying his heart out to get the job done. We’ll see.

Finally, I hope the Sox will not see Masterson as a permanent bullpen artist. He’s a great starting pitcher and I don’t want his career as a setup man defined right now. Next year will mean Colon is gone (don’t see him coming back), Schilling is gone and that leaves:

Beckett, Lester, Wakefield???, Dice-K and perhaps Clay B. I can understand the problem but if Wakefield retires — which I can’t see why he would — that would mean that if Masterson wants a job he can only chose the bullpen. We’ll see.

Bosoxbrian,
Me??? Hard on the Sox. Just because I think they will be in last place by the end of the year does not mean I’m hard on the Sox. I just find that hard to believe (LOL)

Half of the Sox problems will be solved if they can score that run on 3rd with less than 1 out every time. It’s not too much to ask!

Dave, surely you are joking that you think the Sox will be in last place by the end of the year. If anyone has read my posts on Sox and Pinstripes lately, you will see that I am frustrated as well, but let’s think cleasrly here. The Sox are good. They have flaws, but they are good. Just a few comments on some of the recent comments I have read.

1. No way Craig Hansen should be traded. He has electric stuff. He just lacks confidence. The guy is still young, and he is still developing. It is important for us to have patience with our prospects. Daniel Bard is another prime example. He has great stuff, and is starting to put it together in the minors. It takes time for a pitcher to combine stuff with confidence in the big leagues. Some adapt faster – like Masterson. Some don’t.

2. Dave, you wrote that Drew “can’t hit.” Have you been watching the Red Sox since June 1? Give credit where credit is due.

3. I agree about replacing Cash. Dusty Brown is a solid defensive catcher who can hit, and he has experience catching knuckleballer Charlie Zink (who is a prime candidate for a spot start, or trade bait). Brown and George Kottaras are platooning at Pawtucket.

4. dgneubert, Bobby Kielty is struggling at Pawtucket. Jeff Bailey is a better option than Kielty, thus the reason Bailey was called up for another short stint.

5. Garry, I agree with you about Varitek. It is crucial for the Sox lineup that Varitek starts to get hits and knock in runs. Right now, the bottom there in the order is dismal with Crisp, Varitek and Lugo.

6. I fully agree about jettisoning Lugo and giving Lowrie a chance.

7. Jacoby Ellsbury needs the All-Star break. His wrist is still sore, and he hasn’t had time to recover since Many is DHing and Crisp was suspended. I think Ellsbury will have a strong season after the All-Star break.

8. Like Hansen, Delcarmen should remain in Boston. He has experienced ups and downs, but he is a badly needed power arm. He was one of the AL’s top set-up men in the second half last year. I think he will return to form this year as well.

9. I’m not convinced about Okajima. I really don’t think the Sox should bring him back next season, unless he dramatically improves.

10. I think it is shortsighted to say Papelbon’s days as a dominant closer are waning fast. Even the best closers are not untouchable at times. Paps has been throwing his splitter way too much. If he focuses on overpowering hitters with his traditional fast ball, he will be fine. If you look at his losses and blown saves, they have mostly resulted from dinkers and bloops. You can’t help that, unless you strike out every batter you face, of course.

I am frustrated like everyone else, but it’s important to look at the big picture. The Yankees are not a serious threat with their starting pitching. The Rays top three starters are not accustomed to tossing 200 innings, so they are bound to tire in August and September. And, as bad as Boston has played and as good as Tampa Bay has played, it’s still just a four-game deficit.

I took a deep breathe, recovered from my insanity over the weekend and regained my common sense, which tells me that the Red Sox are good – flawed, but good – and they can play October baseball as long as the bullpen rebounds and Ramirez and Varitek start hitting.

Jeff
http://www.soxandpinstripes.com

If Manny and Papi recover we will be fine — and very tough to beat, as last year. Our SP is too good, and if we start hitting, that will take just enough pressure off pitching to stabilize the pen. If Manny and Papi do not recover, then both the SP and the pen will need to be outstanding to have any chance.

Having said that Coca, Varitek, and Lugo, the 7, 8, 9 spots have to recover to some degree somehow as well. Three near automatic outs every time through the order is tough to over come on a nightly basis.

Good to see Varitek with the night off. He needs to work on getting his bat back. Spend more time in the cage and looking at video. Someone like Varitek who is so hands on when it comes to the pitching staff, has very little time to focus on hitting. Perhaps this night off will get his bat going again. Francona said Varitek will catch Beckett tomm. afternoon.

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