Monday, March 27, 2006

Around the Horn - SS

Well another day and we are closer and closer to spring training. Some quick notes: Dustin Mohr will be heading out of Boston pretty soon and the Sox will be getting nothing for him. Mohr's great spring did not go unnoticed by other clubs and there are plenty of teams who are interested. Unfortunately, his out clause in his contract makes him a free agent on the 30th, meaning clubs are in no rush to give up something when they don't need to. Poor Tony Graf was put on waivers the other day, securing his exit. The sox are still looking for a suitor, but will cut him by wednesday if they dont find anyone in order to not pay him they full years worth.

Beckett full of steam against philly....good thing....i like it

Foulke looks impressive....I like it

Schilling has not hit anyone in the head lately.....I like it

Coco is a cool guy his is speedy (2 stolen bases the other day)....i like it

Varitek is struggling at the plate, hitting a monster .125...ouch

I dont know about you but I am so ready for this season to start


BUT


Around the Horn - SS

Alex Gonzales, Alex Cora

We saw my thoughts on Cora under the 3rd base section so I'll concentrate on our newbie. I will say however, that I like Cora much better at second base than I do at 3rd. Alex Gonzales...our star free agent pick up of the off season. And he wasnt even our first choice, but with the stellar defensive skills I'll take that flashy leather anyday. All accounts point to Gonzo whipping out a great year defensively. He was sold as a defensive guy and, if what we have seen in Florida so far is any sort of preview, than any Fenway ticket holder should keep the camera out to get that killer shot of Gonzo doing his catch the ball throw the guy out thing. One thing to think about is his past. The man has been in sunny Florida his entire career. Is a switch to Boston in April going to hurt him. I hope not. Offensively he is not as stellar. Hitting .118 this spring there is definetely something to be desired there. But then again it is only spring training...than again am I making excuses because I love defensive baseball. Gonzo will be the starting SS, but the question is can he pick it up defensively?

Alex Gonzalez is the story of 2 men here : First guy does everything defensively except turn triple plays on the first pitch of the game. Man is solid. Second fellow struggles at the plate and worries me a ton. He will hit 9th, which is a good spot for him. But if Lowell struggles as well it could be a quick bottom of the order. Another wait and see.

For a grade, Im giving him 2 because I run this show and I am biased for the guys defense.

Offense : D (D+ says the bias guy in me)
Defense : A

I guess you cant get it all!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Around the horn - 3rd Base

Quick hits here...Sox yankees played the other day and threw balls at each other. Unfortunately Shilling wasn't there to practice his inside fastball on someone's head. Wily Mo hit the ball far; Adam Stern is making a case for himself with yet another great game; Damon looks like a douchbag; there are rumblings of a Mohr for Rheal Cormier trade with the Phillies; Schilling 'felt good' while giving up 5 runs to minor leaguers; and Foulke looked good in his minor leagur outing. All and all, not too shabby for 9 days until opening day. Also, Rocket will be at the Texas opener game, invited by Rangers owner Tom Hicks so hopefully the Sox can put on a show.

But here it is

Around the Horn - 3rd Base

Mike Lowell, Alex Cora, Kevin Youkilis

Ok, first Lowell. The overpaid veteran has been stellar defensively and rather unimpressive offensively thus far this spring and last year. Acquired in the Beckett trade, Lowell brings another veteren (and completely new) face to the Sox. Last year Lowell won his first gold glove of his career, but struggled something might at the plate hitting .236 and sluggng .360. So far this spring is hitting .270 and slugging .405 with no HR and 1 RBI in 14 games. With luck, we will get around a .270 - .275 average out of Lowell with some great defense from the right hander. While he has put up some good numbers in the past, he has never hit better than .293 and has a career average of .272. His high in homeruns was in a breakout 2003 where he had 32 HRs and 105 RBIs, but last year was a huge drop for Lowell in nearly every offensive catagory. Despite last years woes, we can expect good defense from the hot corner and we can hope that the inviting wall in Left brings a resugence of Lowell circa 2003. Expect Mikey to hit at the bottom of the order, making a decent 7 8 hitter.

Alex Cora. Cora is our utility everywhere player; he is second on the depth chart on 2nd, SS and 3rd. This spring, he is hitting .214 while slugging .500. Cora is not a bopper, nor a massive offensive threat. However standing at 6'0 and weighing a nifty 200, the utility man is ideal for his role of back up everywhere. Slick defensively, Cora is pretty much everything you want out of your backup. His weaknesses as a utility player are his speed (not terribly fast but is able to pick his moments going 7 for 9 last year as a backup in Boston) and his bat. While there are, in my opinion, better utility players (Chone Figgins of the Angels) Cora is up there in terms of fielding and versatility. Career fielding percentages are as follows : 2nd in 385 games at .982, SS in 373 games at .970 and 3rd in 5 games at .750. His inexperience could hurt him at 3rd, but there is always Youk who could switch over from first in a pinch. Expectations for Cora at 3rd? Adequate replacement for Lowell who will definetly need his days off. Overall his versatiltity adds much to his value. He also has minor (one game) in the outfield.

Officially, Tony Graf. is 3rd on the depth chart, but I am going to assume he is outta here soon, probably to the Mets considering their woes with Matsui and the retirement of Boone. So I put Youk as the emergency option at third, but I'll look at him when I get to the 1st basemen.

Overall at 3rd base : C+

offensively C-
defensively B-

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Around the Horn - Catcher

So, with the regular season starting just so darn close, I'm gunna pull a redsox.com on you and go a little position by position. Keep in mind the trades that will/must happen soon : Dustin Mohr (although he has an opt out clause that he can take the 30th making him a free agent, which means that the sox will get little to nothing for him) and Tony Graf. (Mets?). Keep your eyes open for that, but in the mean time lets start with the Catcher.

Jason Varitek and back-up back stop Josh Bard

Bard was part of the Cleveland deal that brought Coco into town. He won out the back up/Wake's catcher duties after John Flarety retired and Ken Huckaby went down for a while with a tweaked knee and was not able to do much for the spring. In 2005 with the Indians, Bard played in only 34 games, collecting 16 hits in 83 ABs for an average of .193. This is not stellar, however, the backstop was not brought in for his offensive skills fortunately. All reports from Fort Myers say that Bard and Wakefield are meshing quite nicely and Bard is taking well to the dancing butterfly. It will be interesting to see how he compares to Mirabelli during the season. This spring the switch hitter out of Texas has put up decent numbers (.278 BA, .333 SLG, .742 OBS) n 9 games this Spring. Traded away were Kelly Shoppach to the Indians (.148, .185, .509 in 12 games) and Doug Mirabelli tothe Padres (.478, .957, 1.512, ouch in 9 games). While Mirabelli's spring numbers are off the charts and really make Bard look foolish, remember that Mirabelli in his career (.241, .425, .753) was the perfect back up to Tek and that in Beantown, the back-up back stop deals with Wake. And that offensive numbers, while important, do not take into account the rapport with the knuckler. That being said, Mirabelli was great with Wake, and I was sad to see him go, but we got something for him. Bard, more importantly is turning out to be a adequate defensive replacement for Mirabelli and a good tandem with Wake.

Jason Varitek
With the Captain, the Sox have one of, if not the, best catchers in all of baseball. Another switch hitter, Tek has very few holes in his swing; particularly batting right handed where he absolutely crushes left handed pitching. So far this spring, Jason has seen limited action because of his involvement in the WBC, where the catcher showed why he was so valuable (.375, .714, 1.089) in 7 ABs. Varitek is also very well respected around the league for his ability to call pitches, to work with different pitchers and his scholarly approach to the game. While his only weakness as a catcher may be his arm, at merely average, Tek represents as close to the full package as you can get. With many young arms either in Boston or waiting in the wings, look for Tek have yet another huge year at the plate as well as behind it, juggling the old goats with the new kiddies

Catcher grade : A-

Fantasy Time

Alright folks, Fantasy Time. Whats my team? Who are my players, sleepers, great draft choices?

Around the Horn
1st base : David Ortiz, Mark Texeira
2nd base : Mark Loretta
3rd Base : Eric Chavez, Mike Lowell
SS : Carlos Guillen
Catcher : Victor Martinez
OF : Coco Crisp, Maglio Ordonez, Tori Hunter
Bench : Clint Barnes, Shawn Green, Jacques Jones

Starters : Dontrelle Willis, Kerry Wood, Danny Haren, Brad Radke
Relievers : Mariano Rivera, Danny Turnbow, Tom Gordon, Justin Duchscherer

Problems to be addressed : Outfield; i like Crisp, he is going to have a huge season, other than that I don't have any boppers. Anybody know of some sleepers.
Starters : Kerry Wood is unrelieable at best, and might even be in the bullpen this year, leaving me with Willis and Haren with Radke as a 3,4 guy in my book. My wins are going to get me in trouble. Suggestions?
Utility : Right now, I have Lowell slotted in there, and while I think he could have a resugence in Boston, his spring numbers are killing me. Ill give him a chance during the year, but my string is pretty short here.

Sleeper of the day : Clint Barnes. This ked was having a stellar year and running away with rookie of the year honors before he fell down the stairs and broke his collarbone. Grab him if you can and look out for some bi numbers, assuming he is completely healthy as he says he is. Low risk cheap pickup.

Bye Bye Bronson

In an act that really tweaked my nerves, the Sox, as everyone is aware of right now, sent versatile right hander Bronson Arroyo to the Cincinatti Reds along with cash considerations for the big man with high expectations and a low (LOW!!!) on-base percentage: Wiley Mo Pena.

First, Bronson: Bronson was one of my favorite sox. He had loyalty, and not just loyalty, I'm talking serious, I only want to play for the sox Loyalty, with a capital L. At 29, Broyo was not exactly young, but hey, he was not old either. With a high leg kick that almost hits third base, the rocker led the team in quality starts last year. With an ERA around around 4 and potential to win around 12-14 games every year, the kid was great insurance against an injury to one of our dinosaurs. Sure he would have started the season in the bullpen and would have pitched incredibly well there in long relief spot start. Bronson, in January signed a major home team discount in order to stay with the Sox. The GMin charge at the time, Hoyer (Wesleyan grad.), had told the pitcher that there were no plans for him to be traded and, even against the advice of his agent, who said the discounted contract would make Bronson vulnerable to trades with low-market teams (agent Cleo), Arroyo signed. Ok, did the Sox wrong my man? No, they did not. It is a business and a tough one ("pieces on a freakin chess board man! - Bronson), but there was no trade clause in the contract. It is painful and tough news. And I am disappointed, but hey, thats the game. Bronson, we will miss you and wish you the best of luck and a great season. Prove us wrong.

Second: The new Mo! Honestly, I was initially extremely upset by this move. I had kind of tracked Wily Mo the last couple of years and was not impressed. He has power and a little speed and supposively a good arm, but did THEO WATCH THE REDS RED SOX GAME LAST YEAR???? He was horrible. But he is young, and raw. This is a very unTheo move and after doing a little more research I have changed my stance from horribly disppointed to merely disappointed and intrigued. I think we will miss Bronson and Mo is a wait and see on my part. TO me, this trade is a risk, give up versatile pitching for a high potential, possibly low production guy. Again, Wily Mo, prove me wrong. Take a pitch or two and please get to know the right field corner. As I see it. It is a wait and see.

Third THing: Did the trade hurt the Red Sox rep? Are players going to be less encouraged to sign with the sox because of the all business mentality shown through this trade? Maybe, but doubtful. People hurt here, Bronson, obviously, and a little less under the radar, but none the less important: non-roster invitee Dustin Mohr, who has been having a monster spring. The arrival of Wily Mo means goodbye Bronson and goodbye Mohr (as well as Juan-Gone but really who cared?). Both instances are painful for the respective players, and I was encouraged by Mohr and his abilities to be our 4th or 5th outfielder, but everything was done to 'better the team' or so we will see. Will players not play here because of the business of the Sox? Yes they will play here, but it is a risk. As it is everywhere. Should the Sox think about offering players no-trade clauses? No, I like that policy and too many teams have gotten screwed by selfish players with massive contracts. Are players going to continue wanting and demanding no-trade clauses, particularly now? Yes. Job Security. Sorry guys.

Point Being: Bronson, we will miss you something wicked and we hope you freakin tear it up in Cinnci; Wily Mo, welcome to the sox, I hope youare as good of a person as Bronson and I hope your production levels rise. Red Sox,I know it is a business, and I forgive you because you did nothing wrong, but thats a tough call there boys.

Also read Bronson's letter on the Phoenix Red Sox Blog :
http://www.thephoenix.com/soxblog or on the links to the right.

Welcome to the New SOX

Alright everyone, I want to welcome you to the rantings and ravings of a dedicated sox fan trying desparetely to follow his team while in Paris. It is tough but, het someone needs to do it right?