Change of Ideas

I’m the biggest Sox fan I know. The Red Sox can do no wrong in my eyes, and the Yankees are the most evil team in the universe.

Who doesn’t prefer the quaintness of Fenway Park over the sterility of the new Yankee Stadium? Who doesn’t prefer hanging Sox over pinstripes? Or Pedroia over A-Rod?

That’s what makes writing this post so difficult. The Yankees are without a doubt better than Boston, and are arguably the best baseball team I’ve seen in the past several years.

I used to argue that New York bought championships, that they couldn’t develop any of their talent and relied on throwing buckets of money at any and all high-profile free agents. Take Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, just to name the 2009 off-season. They committed over $200 million to three guys? I thought that this was a bad thing, and horrible for baseball.

But the more I think about it, I can’t help but think that they’ve got the right idea, and maybe Boston should get off their pocketbook and throw some cash around. Can you imagine if Theo Epstein had given in to Teixeira’s demands and given him an additional ten million? They would be running away with the division. Instead, they get to face him 19 times each of the next eight years, and we’ve already seen how that’s worked out.

Epstein thought it would be better to sign low-cost, potentially high-reward players in John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Takashi Saito, all of whom have equated to bust, bust, bust. To make matters even worse, Boston is now trying to add 38-year-old Billy Wagner. Wagner is fresh off Tommy John surgery and is due to be paid $8 million this year. That’s a lot of money to pay four aging ex-all-stars, all past their prime. What’s next, is Theo Epstein going to make a run at Sandy Koufax?

The last high-profile free agents that Boston signed have been Edgar Renteria, J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo and Dice-K Matsuzaka. I just threw up in my mouth.

If Boston’s free agent scouting was half as good as their farm development, they could avoid these money-pit signings and land some real talent. Is it time to start looking at a new General Manager in Bean town?

I hate that the Yankees are better than Boston. I hate that this may be the norm for the next several years, unless the Red Sox change their off-season approach. I hate that the Yankees are arrogant douche bags that are far too clean shaven for my liking.

But what I hate most, is that New York is primed to win their 27th World Series title this year.

Love to Hate

Let me start by saying that I hate the Rays. With the exception of Evan Longoria, who is obviously a superstar, and Carlos Pena, who goes unnoticed as the Rays’ team leader, I hate every player, coach and manager on that team. Is it sour grapes because they’ve won the season series with Boston? Maybe. But unlike the national media, I do not see these Rays as the darlings of the league. I find them utterly unlikeable, and I can’t put my finger on the exact reason.

Maybe it stems from their stupid name. What exactly is a Ray? Does it mean a ray of hope for a team that had sucked for so long? Is it short for x-ray, to describe the transparency of the fair-weather fans that are suddenly so eager to jump aboard the bandwagon? (Dan excluded, of course.) Whatever it means, it’s a stupid name. Sure, Red Sox is not the manliest name, but at least I know what it means.

Maybe it’s because of Jonny Gomes and his endless string of cheap shots. Or Carl Crawford’s gangster neck tattoo. Or maybe it’s because Gabe Gross looks like he should be selling life insurance instead of patrolling right field. Maybe it’s B.J. Upton’s never-ending wad of chew that never leaves his left cheek. Or Dioner Navarro’s stupid kiss to the dugout after every hit. I even hate Joe Magrane and Dewayne Staats. I hope that they both suffer from non-cancerous polyps of their vocal cords.

I may not like these guys, but I am not going to discount their success playing in and winning the hardest division in baseball. These guys just find every conceivable way to win, and it drives me absolutely nuts. I’ve watched a lot of Rays baseball this year, and I’m pretty sure that they have never lost. This team is giving me nightmares.

Now, being the stubborn Sox fan that I am, I still like Boston’s chances to go to back-to-back World Series, and here’s why. First of all, Boston has a ton of postseason experience. Normally this would be a bigger advantage, but unfortunately Tampa has proved to be oblivious to pressure. Secondly, Boston has the best scouting department in the majors. They have consistently prepared Boston for every postseason opponent the last several years. They can pinpoint another team’s tendencies and weaknesses and exploit them. Thirdly, Boston has not played their best baseball… yet. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim handed the Red Sox this series on a silver platter, with their shoddy fielding and ill-advised suicide squeezes.

These guys are ready to fire on all cylinders. Jon Lester is an Ace, Papelbon is pitching lights out, Jason Bay and J.D. are coming up with huge at-bats, and there is no way in hell that Dustin Pedroia has a repeat performance of the ALDS.  I also see Josh Beckett knocking off the rust and regaining his form from past postseasons. This is a team that is ready to take off.

Boston wins this series in 6.

All Star

Baseball has some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in all of sports, but for some reason, when the fans have the chance to select the starters for the mid-summer classic, they have the tendency to pick with their hearts instead of their brains. As much as I like players like Jason Varitek and Ken Griffey Jr., they are not deserving of an All Star nod. With the All Star selections being announced at 2:00 p.m. today, I’m going to jump the gun and give you the players that have truly played like an All Star during the first half of the season.

Although I’d like to make the team entirely of Red Sox players, I’m going to try to be as impartial as possible, which means there may be a Ray or a Yankee on the team. Ugh!

American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer
Pencil him in for the next ten years.

First Base: Justin Morneau
This was a close race between Youkilis and Morneau. Both players have similar numbers. I just think Morneau is better.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
This guy is a great hitter and an under-appreciated defender. His defense gives him a slight edge over Ian Kinsler.

Third base: Alex Rodriguez
After a controversial week in the tabloids, this selection should soothe the Material Girl’s pain.

Shortstop: Michael Young
Sorry, Jeter. I know that this is the last year in Yankee Stadium, but Young is better than you.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Quinton
There have been some great performances by AL outfielders during the first half of the season. These three have been the best.

Designated Hitter: Milton Bradley
Even with one arm, I think Big Papi should be the DH. But I’m afraid that Bradley will hunt me down and beat me to a pulp if he’s not picked.

Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee
11-1, 2.26 ERA. Lee has been the biggest pitching surprise in the league.

Reserves:
Dioner Navarro C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Ian Kinsler 2B
Brian Roberts 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Derek Jeter SS
B.J. Upton OF
Nick Markakis OF
Ichiro Suzuki OF
J.D. Drew OF
Roy Halladay SP
Ervin Santana SP
James Shields SP
Justin Duchscherer SP
Joe Saunders SP
Gavin Floyd SP
Jon Lester SP
Jonathan Papelbon RP
Francisco Rodriguez RP
Mariano Rivera RP

National League

Catcher: Russell Martin
Martin is in a class by himself. Easily the best catcher in baseball.

First Base: Lance Berkman
After an amazing first half, Berkman is the NL MVP.

Second Base: Chase Utley
24 ding-dongs on the season so far. He has carried the Phillies.

Third base: Larry Jones
Grown men shouldn’t be called Chipper, even when they hit close to .400.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez
This guy makes the game look easy. He’s a lock for the next ten years.

Designated Hitter: Ryan Howard
I like that this guy will either strikeout or go yard. There is no in-between.

Outfield: Nate McLouth, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun
These three aren’t the biggest names in the National League, but they’ve been carrying their respective teams.

Starting Pitcher: Tim Lincecum
This kid weighs 120 pounds and throws 98 MPH. The fact that he’s 10-1 and is the lone bright spot on the Giants also helps.

Reserves:
Geovany Soto C
Brian McCann C
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Derrek Lee 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
David Wright 3B
Jose Reyes SS
Miguel Tejada SS
Carlos Lee OF
Pat Burrell OF
Matt Holliday OF
Edinson Volquez SP
Brandon Webb SP
Dan Haren SP
Cole Hamels SP
Ben Sheets SP
Ryan Dempster SP
Kerry Wood RP
Jose Valverde RP
Brad Lidge RP

So there you have it, the official thefoulline.com 2008 All Star Team.

Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

With the fantasy league going so well, I’ve forgotten that I started this blog to actually write about real baseball. So I’m going to knock off the rust, spew some opinions, and hopefully start some discussion.

Last year I wrote a post titled 5 Reasons I Hate the J.D. Drew Signing. This was one of the first things I wrote, and the interesting thing about it is that it was actually referenced on TheSportingNews.com.

So in an attempt to get thefoulline.com back out in the world of baseball opinions, here is an update on the same theme.

6 Reasons I Hate Julio Lugo:

1. He’s a career .271 hitter that’s being paid $9 million a year. The Sox could have kept Orlando Cabrera for the same amount of cash.

2. He looks like a velociraptor when he’s getting ready to hit.

3. A major league leading 11 errors so far in only 35 games played.

4. He runs like a bowlegged donkey.

5. He complains about the Boston media… to the Boston media… when they write negative things about him. Memo to Julio: You’re not in Tampa Bay anymore.

6. Julio wears #23. This number should be reserved for great athletes. Guys like Michael Jordan, Don Mattingly, Lebron James, Pete Maravich and Ryne Sandberg have all worn this number with a certain distinction. Lugo should wear #67 until he proves worthy.

This list could be endless. What would you add?

Nothing As It Seems

After watching the Red Sox this past week, I was under the impression that their offense was still stuck in Fort Myers. The dynamic duo of Ellsbury and Pedroia have looked lousy. Big Papi is a shell of his former self and has resorted to diving head first into first base in an attempt to get on, and Manny Ramirez has more stolen bases than extra base hits. I’m tired of the 2-1, or 3-0 games. I want the Sox offense to look more like a beer league softball team.

I can understand the Red Sox struggling against Roy Halladay or James Shields, these guys are good pitchers. What bothers me is when Boston’s potent offense is held in check by the likes of Edwin Jackson and Jon Garland.

But all my worrying was for naught. After doing a little research I found that Boston’s offense is right where it should be. Check out these numbers:

Batting Average: 1st in AL
Hits: 1st in AL
Runs: Tied for 2nd
RBIs: Tied for 2nd

The Red Sox also have Man-Ram leading the league in batting average and slugging % and in 2nd in homeruns and hits.

If Boston can only stay healthy for the rest of the year, they have the potential to put up some great numbers.

Thefoulline.com quick hits:

  • After the latest Roger Clemens scandal, it may be time for him to pick up Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson and move to Siberia. America is officially sick of your crap. I can’t see how this guy could sink any lower.
  • Thefoulline.com staff would like to wish Alex Rodriguex and Jorge Posada a speedy recovery from their recent ailments. Fourth place in the division just isn’t the same without them.
  • Surprising no one, J.D. Drew is sitting out after nicking himself shaving. Or something.
  • Boston faces Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan tonight. McGowan has pitched really well against Boston in the past and has the best sideburns in the league.
  • Dustin Pedroia’s diving stop in the 9th inning of last night’s game reminded me of when he saved Clay Buchholz’s no-hitter last year. D-Ped does not get the recognition he deserves for his defense. He’ll make the All-Star team this year.
  • Has anyone else noticed that Jonathan Papelbon always gives a fist-bump to a Boston police officer when he enters the game? Anyhow, check out this article. It’s pretty cool.

How Bizarre

Strange week for the World Champs. First, they received their second World Series ring in four years, and then they welcomed the biggest goat in their storied history back to Fenway Park. Meanwhile, the enigmatic J.D. Drew is crushing the ball, and Big Papi couldn’t hit a fastball if he were swinging a boat oar. Finally, their 2007 team M.V.P. went on the disabled list… and the team got better. Not to mention, the damn Yankees are in town for three games. Welcome back to the U.S.

Quick hits:

  • I can’t turn away from the television when Jonathan Papelbon is in the game. He’s always fun to watch. He reminds me of a mix between Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky and Nuke LaLoosh from Bull Durham.
  • Breaking News! Julian Tavarez sucks. I wish they had kept Kyle Snyder as their long reliever, and dumped Julian. But who would babysit Manny if he was gone?
  • Speaking of Man-Ram… 10 games into the season, and he’s already ignoring the third base coach and running through the stop sign. He was lucky to score this time. If he pulls this crap again, he should be benched.
  • Manny, please get a damn haircut.
  • Did you see the Sox fan that was building the new and improved Yankee Stadium and buried a Red Sox shirt in the concrete hoping to curse the Yankees? Take that, Hank Steinbrenner. Red Sox Nation is everywhere. Enjoy your new cursed stadium.
  • While I’m on the subject of the Yankees, New York struggled against the mighty Rays and the formidable Royals this week. Let’s see how they do against a real team.
  • I have a feeling Clay Buchholz will bring his A-game tonight. He seems to relish the big stage.

Enjoy the games this weekend.

Go Sox!

Games People Play

This fantasy baseball league is sucking the life out of me. I can’t focus at work. I’m ignoring my kids. I spend too much time making blockbuster trades in my mind. All with the hopes of winning the prestigious title of “Best GM on thefoulline.com.”

I’ve been scouring other teams’ lineups trying to figure out their secret formula for success. Is having seven shortstops a good thing? Can my team win without any Yankees on it? Should I have focused on pitchers? Did I over think, and put too much stock in some potential up-and-comers? Should I have just used the damned Auto Draft?

Please help me if you know the answers to any of these questions.

thefoulline.com quick hits

  • Last night Dice K lived up to his hype. Let’s hope he can do this all year.
  • Has anyone seen the greatest clutch hitter in baseball? He wears #34 and spits on his hands a lot. If found, please return him to the Red Sox ASAP.
  • Attention, Eric Gagne: I guess it wasn’t the city of Boston that caused your woes last year. It’s that you suck.
  • It took all of three games, but I am done with J.D. Drew and his candy-ass excuses for the rest of the year. The Sox should send him down to Pawtucket to “rehab” his back, and bring up someone with heart.
  • I’m not sure how to pronounce Cub’s right fielder Kosuke Fukudome’s name, but he might have the greatest name in Major League history since Rusty Kuntz.
  • Fantasy Baseball causes Attention Deficit Disorder.

Land of Competition

I’m sorry to make this such a short post, but with thefoulline.com war room up and running for tonight’s draft, resources are running low. So here are a few quick hits.

  • The Sox split their Japan series with the A’s. Considering that they traveled across the world for this goodwill tour and still walked away with a win, it’s not too shabby. Plus, there are now a million Japanese fans who are part of Red Sox Nation.
  • Maybe it’s time for John Henry to create Red Sox World.
  • Jon Lester consistently pitches well for the Sox, but he always seems to give up a 3-run home run. Hopefully this will change with experience.
  • J.D. drew loves to toy with fans’ expectations of him. He teased us with 7 RBIs in the first two games, then pulled a typical Drew move and removed himself from the opener with “back stiffness.” It’s a long season, he’s going to need to play with a few aches and pains eventually. But why would this season be any different?
  • I wouldn’t take J.D. Drew in the 20th round of the fantasy draft. Dylan can have him.
  • What type of bizarro world are we in when Julio Lugo and Brandon Moss are looking great, and Big Papi and Jason Varitek look like it’s their first day of spring training?
  • Did Manny’s early success at the plate leap frog him into a first-round draft pick?
  • There is still an outside chance the Sox will go 161-1.
  • Did you hear about Jose Canseco’s new book? He claims that A-Rod was constantly hitting on Canseco’s wife. I hope no one tells this to Derek Jeter. I wouldn’t want him to get jealous.
  • Brandon Moss was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket today. Something tells me he’ll be back.
  • I guarantee that I will not pick any Yankees under any circumstances in tonight’s draft.

Just to echo “The Commissioner” Matt McLaughlin, let’s all have fun this season. Good Luck.

Turning Japanese

I wasn’t too excited about the Red Sox cutting their spring training short to travel halfway around the world for a couple of exhibition games. The Sox will have a hard enough time defending their title without having to fight jet lag, and it’s obvious that MLB is trying to capitalize on Boston’s recent success now that they are the best baseball team on the planet. But after watching today’s game, and seeing how excited the Japanese fans were to watch the World Series champions, I think maybe MLB got it right when they chose the Sox to be international ambassadors for baseball.

Thefoulline.com’s Quick Hits, the International Version

  • MLB.tv used the Japanese broadcasters for today’s game. I didn’t understand a word they said, but I still preferred it to Jerry Remy’s incoherent babble.
  • Dice K has proven that he is Japan’s version of Elvis.
  • J.D. Drew has 7 RBIs in two games. He is on pace for 567 RBIs this season.
  • I always found it funny that the Red Sox assign their rookies uniform numbers more appropriate for an offensive lineman or wide receiver. I’m pretty sure that Jed Lowrie didn’t dream about wearing #82 for a major league team when he a kid. I wonder if this increases their motivation to make the team, so that they can get a good number.
  • Jonathan Papelbon was given #58 as a rookie and he kept it, but we all know he has a few screws loose.
  • In an attempt to fix his dismal batting average of the past two years, Coco Crisp is now wearing batting gloves. It has to help, right?
  • The Sox lineup has the chance to be special this year. A batting order of Pedroia, Youkilis, Papi, Manny, Lowell, Drew, Varitek, Ellsbury, and Lugo could wear down an opposing pitching staff and put up a ton of runs. Plus, this lineup gives Francona the flexibility to move players around if they aren’t performing well.
  • Thefoulline.com’s public enemy #1, Jon Weber of the Tampa Bay Rays, is batting .211 this spring training. Public enemy #2 Doug Mientkewicz of the Pirates is hitting .273 with one measly RBI in 16 games. This just proves that you don’t mess with foulliners. Karma will come back to haunt you.
  • Speaking of foulliners. Thefoulline.com inaugural fantasy league baseball draft is only three days away. We still have three spots to fill. If we don’t have ten players, the league will be disbanded, and we will never see Dylan chose J.D. Drew with his first round pick. Find a friend and sign them up!! There will be a great prize package for the league champion (me). Email me with any sign-up questions.

Have a happy Easter!

Worth the wait

They say good things come to those who wait. Boston fans remained patient even when down three games to one. After being outplayed by Cleveland for three straight games, the Red Sox have battled back and have forced game seven.

Curt Schilling pitched a gutsy game last night (7 innings, 6 hits, 2 ER, 5 strikeouts, 0 walks), improving his postseason record to 10-2. He got into some trouble early in the game but was able to execute his pitches and get out of the jam. I’m not sure what I think of the 90-mph-fastball-Schilling. He doesn’t have that extra gear to blow the pitch by the hitter. I find myself on the edge of my seat when he tries to pitch inside to lefties. It seems he either gets the batter to pop up or hit a monster home run to right field. But to his credit, he has come to grips with his new style of pitching. He knows he’s not the strikeout pitcher of past seasons, so he relies on out-thinking the hitters. He was just what Boston needed last night. A big performance from a big game pitcher.

While we are still on the subject of waiting, there was a J.D. Drew sighting last night. After a long season of Drew performing below expectations, he blew open the game with a first-inning grand slam, 3 hits and 5 RBIs. This is exactly what Drew needed to get a clean slate from Boston fans for next season. Last night he was worth every penny spent on him. Suddenly, $14 million a year doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

All series long, people have been saying Boston needs other players besides the big three to step up. Last night it finally happened. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis were awesome at the top of the order, getting big hits and setting the plate for Boston’s big hitters. If these two continue this hot streak, I don’t see anyone beating them. The Sox even got some production from their 8 and 9 hitters. Wonderboy Jacoby Ellsbury further enamored himself with Boston fans with an RBI and his all-out hustle. Even Julio Lugo contributed with a big double and two RBIs.

Everything seems to be clicking with Boston right now: Two quality starts in a row from their pitchers. The offense appears to be out of its funk. Heck, even Eric Gagne pitched a decent inning. But like Winston Wolfe said in Pulp Fiction, “Let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet.” The Indians are a good team. You can be sure that they are going to leave it all out on the field tonight.

Thefoulline.com baseball news and notes:

  • I have a lot of respect for Terry Francona. He really cares for and trusts his players. He gives them every opportunity to succeed. He catches a lot of flack for his loyalty to his players, but his guys play hard for him. Let’s hope Boston management does the right thing and locks him up with a long-term contract.
  • Before game 6, Fausto Carmona stated that he won’t be intimidated by anyone, especially not Curt Schilling. Wow! Way to back that up. You really showed them. Another bad playoff performance. He is turning into the skinny version of C.C. Sabathia.
  • Travis Hafner is in a bad funk right now. He hasn’t had a hit in a couple of games and really appears out of sorts. Maybe it’s because his helmet is crushing his huge head. Have you seen this guy’s melon? His head makes his helmet look like the ones little kids eat ice cream out of.
  • Coco Crisp has played his last game in a Boston uniform. He will be dealt in the offseason. Thanks Coco, you were fun to watch play centerfield.
  • Maybe Cleveland shouldn’t have printed all of those 2007 World Series T-shirts when they were up 3-1.
  • I really hope Boston resigns Mike Lowell. If they decide not to, I can see them ignoring A-Rod and going after the Florida Marlins’ Miguel Cabrera.

That’s all for now. Huge game tonight. Let’s keep this thing rolling.

Go Sox!