January 2011

Young optimistic on Beckett

New Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young is in town this week for Rookie Development Camp, and some other events. While he won’t speak specifically about adjustments he will make with Josh Beckett until he works side-by-side with the righty, Young did sound optimistic about where the righty is at going into Spring Training.

“In talking to Josh, he’s a really interesting guy, very possessed on what he does and I’m really looking forward to working with Josh,” Young said. “The main thing is health and it seems to be that he’s very healthy and really looking forward to the start of this year.”

The latest Hall Call

Roberto Alomar, the best all-around second baseman I’ve ever seen, is now in the Hall of Fame, and rightfully so. Bert Blyleven is also a worthy selection and probably long overdue.

The one omission that puzzles me is Jack Morris. I know his ERA (3.90) is never going to wow anyone. But talk about a guy you wanted on the mound in a big spot. Throughout his career, he gobbled up innings and won big games for his team. Morris was a key member of the dominant 1984 Tigers. In fact, between 1979-88, he averaged 17 wins for a team that was in the thick of the race in many of those years.

Then he moved on to the Twins in 1991, and not only won 18 games in his first year there, but turned in one of the most memorable performances in World Series history — that 1-0, 10-inning gem that beat John Smoltz and the Atlanta Braves in Game 7.

The next year? It was on to Toronto, where Morris equaled a career-high with 21 wins. Again, his team won the World Series. That gave Morris three rings for his career. He would get a fourth by the next year, despite being in personal decline at that point.

For the majority of his career, he was a front-line pitcher and finished with 254 wins. I think that there is such a thing as “clutch pitching”, and pitchers like Morris, John Smoltz and Curt Schilling to name three — defined it. Morris received 311 votes for a percentage of 53.5 votes. he finished fourth in the balloting, trailing the two Hall of Famers and Barry Larkin.

We’ve seen other players have their totals spike up and get in after results like that. This was year No. 11 on the ballot for Morris, so he still has four more chances.  

Six weeks until Fort Myers

Hard to believe, isn’t it? Before you know it, the equipment truck will be at Fenway Park, ready for takeoff into what should be an exciting 2011 season.

January has been an eventful month for the Red Sox the last couple of years. In 2009, that was when they struck deals for Rocco Baldelli and John Smoltz. Last year, the Sox ended up getting Adrian Beltre in January, and he wound up being one of the most important players in the ’10 team.

This year? Sorry to disappoint, but I think the bulk of the work has already been done. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler. It has already been a highly productive winter for Theo Epstein. The re-signing of Hideki Okajima should be announced within days. Aside from that, there might be some tinkering here or there. The bench could still use a Bill Hall-type who could roam between the infield and the outfield.

Other than that, here are the main pieces team that will come to Fort Myers:

Catchers: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek.

Infielders: Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, Kevin Youkilis.

Outfielders: Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Darnell McDonald.

DH: David Ortiz.

Starting pitchers: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Relief pitchers: Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler, Matt Albers, Felix Doubront, Hideki Okajima, Scott Atchison, Tim Wakefield.

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