Archive for the ‘Terry Francona’ Category

Here Comes the Sun

The sun did rise today.

The birds are singing, and things seem to be OK.

After watching the Red Sox get out-hit, out-pitched, outplayed and out-cheered the last three nights, I wasn’t so sure that was going to happen. But here we are – it’s a new day and we have the damn Yankees to focus on.

There’s a lot of baseball left to played. Let’s turn this thing around. quick hits

  • After receiving threats in the mail a few days ago, Sox players avoided fans in the stands like they had the ebola virus (with David Aardsma being the exception, but I think he may have a few screws loose anyway).
  • Walking into the game last night and seeing ex-Sox player Bill Lee in attendance signing autographs I thought was going to be a good omen. It wasn’t.
  • Evan Longoria is a great ballplayer, but after watching him interact with the young fans in the crowd, I think he is an even better person. Within two years, this guy is going to be the most popular player in baseball.
  • With Terry Francona picking the reserves for the All-Star Game, I think Longoria just secured a spot on the roster.
  • Funny observation of the night: The Red Sox coaches warm up as if they are playing that night. I watched as Brad Mills and Luis Alicea played some long toss before the game. After watching the Sox bullpen implode last night, they could have used them.
  • Three games, three dumb moves by Francona. Game 1: Not pinch hitting Sean Casey for Lugo in the 9th inning. Game 2: Having the ice-cold Jason Varitek pinch hit. Game 3: Keeping Craig Hansen in the game too long and having him walk half the Rays lineup.
  • Bonus dumb move from Game 3: Having the above mentioned Varitek do a hit and run with the slowest guy on the team standing on first base. It was a recipe for failure.
  • Manny sucks.
  • What a relief, Boston has four games against the Yankees.
  • 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay Rays feels like 100 right now.
  • Thanks to the Rays fan who jump started my truck in the parking lot after the game. I take back some of the bad stuff I’ve said about their kind in the past.

All the Right Moves

The Red Sox made a few smart moves yesterday. The first was a no-brainer, re-signing Terry Francona was long overdue. This guy doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Two World Series titles in four years is impressive, doing it in the pressure-cooker of Red Sox Nation is extraordinary. This guy is adored by his players and respected by all of Major League Baseball. He is truly one of the good guys in the game. When talking about the game’s great managers, Francona should be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony Larussa. Although his new contract is nothing to sneeze at, I really wish Theo Epstein made him the highest paid manager in the league.

The second move was signing 2005 Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract. Although Colon has had his share of injuries the last couple of years, he could be a decent insurance policy if any of the Sox pitchers gets injured. He won’t make the team coming out of Spring Training, but maybe he can get in shape in Triple A and make a difference when it’s time for the playoff push. This guy has won twenty games in a season twice. He hasn’t forgotten how to pitch. Let’s see how he does when he gets in shape and the Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell gets a hold of him. Either way, it’s a low-risk, low-cost, possibly high-reward scenario. updates

I want to remind everyone that there are still spots open for the inaugural Fantasy Baseball league. Please spread the word to your friends and family and have them sign up. It should be a lot of fun. Thanks again to Matt McLaughlin for setting it up. To sweeten the deal, we are working on a prize package for the winning team consisting of original merchandise. So if that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will.

Also, Dylan and I are heading down to Fort Myers on Thursday to watch the Red Sox play Boston College, and I’ll be taking some pictures to add to the site. I’m not an expert photographer, but I’m sure anything will be better than the glamour shots of ourselves that are on the site now. On a related subject, Dylan and I and couple friends of ours are “shipping up to Boston” for a few days in May to check out the Sox. Unfortunately the Kansas City Royals are in town while we’re up there, but any baseball at Fenway Park is good baseball.

The birth of a dynasty

The Boston Red Sox are World Champions. It’s nice to see that they were finally able to break the three-year curse that has plagued them since 2004. Even though this was a four-game sweep, there was some great baseball being played. Colorado proved to be a dangerous team that never quit, even up to the last pitch thrown.

I can’t say enough about this team. From the manager all the way down to the role players, everyone contributed. It seemed like someone different would come through each game. One night it was Beckett, then Ellsbury, Pedroia, Lester, Lowell, Timlin, Kielty, Okajima, Papelbon. Someone always rose to the occasion. This is truly a team for the ages.

Let’s start with Terry Francona. Everything this guy touched turned to gold during the playoffs. Start Papi at first base? Put a rookie in to centerfield? Start Jon Lester in game four? Pinch hit Kielty? All of these moves were money. Francona showed that he knows his players, and in turn they want to perform well for him. I also like that Francona was playing for the win last night. He threw most of the bullpen at the Rockies last night. These guys were running on fumes and still got the call. If the Rockies had rallied back and won, Boston would have been in trouble. Oh well, we know how that ended up.

I think it’s time for the Sox to make Mike Lowell an offer he can’t refuse and lock him up for three more years. This guy has solidified the third base position for Boston and should be rewarded. As for A-Rod, who cares. I don’t care where he ends up, as long as it’s not with the Yankees.

The Red Sox are loaded with young players that can flat out play. Lester, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youk, Papelbon, Buchholz, Delcarmen, Dice K are all under 30 years of age. This is a franchise whose brightest days are still ahead of them.

Check back tomorrow for the Red Sox Year in Review.

Going postal

The Red Sox mailed it in for last night’s game. Terry Francona put out the worst lineup of the year to face a pitcher that has some good success against Boston.

I don’t know if Curt Schilling pissed off Francona, or wrote something bad about him on his blog, but there was no way the Red Sox were going to win for him. With Manny still faking his injury, and Big Papi taking a game off the to rest his knee, the Sox had absolutely no power in the lineup. Heck, even J.D. was given the day off. Drew was coming off a good series in Baltimore where he had a couple of doubles and several walks. It was nice to see him being selective at the plate and actually getting on base. So why take him out and lose that momentum?

In case you haven’t seen it here is the lineup and batting averages of last night’s starters.

Julio Lugo DH .239
Coco Crisp CF .269
Dustin Pedroia 2B .325
Mike Lowell 3B .321
Bobby Kielty RF .250
Kevin Youkilis 1B .287
Jason Varitek C .261
Jacoby Ellsbury LF .370
Alex Cora SS .236

That was not a typo above – Julio Lugo was the designated hitter for last night’s game. How does that make any sense? He’s batting .239. He was possibly the worst player for that spot. What’s next? Is Doug Mirabelli going to be a pinch runner?

I understand that Francona wants to get guys like Kielty, Cora and Lugo extra at-bats, but not all of them at one time. There should be at the maximum one weak link in the chain… not three!

The race in the AL East is still close enough that every game counts. Boston is up by five games with a big series against New York this weekend. The Red Sox can’t afford to give up games to bottom feeders like Tampa Bay.

Dice KO’d

Daisuke Matsuzaka has been horrible during his last two starts for the Red Sox. His ERA is an absurd 16.88 in September. After allowing 8 runs to the Baltimore Orioles last night, he looks like a shell of the pitcher who not long ago appeared to be the future ace of the Sox pitching staff.

Coming over from Japan, major leaguers had no prior experience with Dice, so the first time against these teams he was showing stuff they had never seen before. Now that he’s going through these lineups a second time, the players are getting used to him – his slow wind-up, his weird butt wiggle, the variety of off-speed pitches.

Also, Dice isn’t throwing as many first-pitch strikes as he was earlier in the season, so he’s getting into more batter counts, allowing the hitters to wait on his fastball. When Dice K isn’t locating his fastball for first-pitch strikes and keeping batters off balance with the off speed pitches, he looks downright ordinary. He’s finding out that he can’t just throw fastballs past major league hitters.

As good as Dice K was in Japan, the talent over there pales in comparison to Major League Baseball, and a drop-off in performance was to be expected. Consider this: he is technically a rookie and has 14 wins playing in the toughest division in the league. If this was anyone else, they would already have his name engraved on the Rookie of the Year award.

Another thing to consider is that Dice K was used to pitching every 6th day in Japan. Pitching every five days and routinely throwing over 100 pitches per game may be wearing him down. If I were Terry Francona, I would give him his next scheduled start off. The Sox have a comfortable lead in the standings, and some guy named Clay Buchholz who’s proved to be a pretty good pitcher is ready to take his spot in the rotation for a game.

I’m really not worried, and here’s why: Dice K is respected by his teammates and members of the organization for his tireless work ethic and loyalty to his team. He is a true professional who will make the necessary adjustments to be a big part of the Red Sox playoff run, in this season and many more to come.

J.D. Drew struck out in the clutch? What a relief.

I can appreciate that Terry Francona is well known as a “player’s manager.” Guys love to play for him. He’s loyal to his players, keeps problems in house, and never bad mouths a player in the press. He knows how to manage a game, which is evident by the 2004 World Series. He surrounds himself with good people, like pitching coach John Farrell, who has come in this year and helped turn the Red Sox pitching staff into one of the best in the majors. He has stuck with Julio Lugo and Dustin Pedroia this year even after their horrible starts, and they have both become big contributors.

Here is my problem: J.D. Drew sucks. This guy has been killing the Red Sox this year. He is incapable of producing the clutch hit. It’s like he’s a cyborg that’s wired to only have multi-hit games when the Sox are either playing a really bad team or are up by 10 runs.

This guy is notorious for grounding into a double play at exactly the most crucial part of the game. This week he has struck out with the bases loaded more times then I would like to remember. And it’s not just that he strikes out. I would be ok with him striking out if he actually swung the bat, but he will watch two strikes go by and then on the third strike, he’ll do some sort of weird half chop at it. It never fails.

I was watching the game last night against Toronto, during the 7th inning with the Sox holding to a one-run lead. J.D. was up with the bases loaded and one out. Since I knew there was no possible way that he would get the clutch hit, I found myself hoping he would strike out, avoiding the double play and giving the guy behind him a chance for some RBIs. It’s a sad day when I cheer that he only caused one out.JD Drew is the Tin Man

The other thing is that if J.D. Drew is going to remain in the lineup he at least shouldn’t be batting fifth. Put someone in that slot who has more than 7 home runs and 49 RBIs. Pitchers in the AL have been pitching around Big Papi and Manny Ramirez all year to get to the Tin Man.

Mr. Francona, you really are a good manager, but you can’t change this guy. Some Hall of Fame managers have tried. If Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa can’t get this guy to perform, don’t beat yourself up when you can’t. You’ve supported him this year, and have given him every opportunity to succeed, but this time it looks like the player’s manager is getting played.