Monday, April 30, 2012

Gameday Live Chat Red Sox vs. A's 7:00pm 4-30-12!

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs Gameday Live Chat!  Tonight we will be chatting while the Red Sox return home to start a three-game series with the Oakland A's.  Do you have questions or comments about the Sox recent play?  Are you curious what the Fenway crowd's reaction will be to Bobby V tonight?  Do you have Yoenis envy?  You've come to the right place!

Do the Red Sox Mail It In on Getaway Days?

For this post, I’m taking Barry’s hypothesis that the Red Sox have a recent tendency to mail it in on getaway days.  I’m defining a getaway day as a road game followed by a home game (or vice-versa) the next day with no off day in between.  I believe Barry was specifically talking about getaway days when the team is returning home to the comfort of their own homes/beds/wives that night.  I have broken it down into getaway days when the team is headed home after the game and getaway days when the team is headed on the road after the game.  Here are all of the results from 2011, with Sunday’s game added in for good measure:

Date                        Win/Loss            Opponent            Score                  Hits           Going Home/Road?
4/29/12                    L                         White Sox            1-4                        3                        Home

9/4/11                      L                        Rangers                4-11                       9                        Road

8/25/11                   W                        Rangers                6-0                        9                         Home

8/17/11                    L                        Rays                     0-4                        3                         Road

8/7/11                     W                       Yankees                3-2(10)                 11                        Road

7/31/11                   W                       White Sox             5-3                       10                        Home

7/28/11                    L                       Royals                   3-4                        8                         Road

7/3/11                     W                      Astros                     2-1                       6                         Home

6/16/11                   W                      Rays                       4-2                        6                        Home

5/29/11                   W                        Tigers                   4-3                        7                        Home
                                L                        Tigers                   0-3                        4                        Home

5/22/11                   W                        Cubs                     5-1                        12                      Road

5/15/11                   W                       Yankees                7-5                        8                        Home

5/9/11                     W                       Twins                    2-1(11)                 9                         Road

4/28/11                   W                       Orioles                   6-2                       13                       Home

4/18/11                   W                       Blue Jays               9-1                       13                       Road

4/7/11                      L                       Indians                   0-1                        4                        Home

Friendly Fenway?

The Red Sox return home tonight to start a 3 game series with the Oakland A's.  With a win tonight they will finish the month of April at an even .500 with an 11-11 record.  What is that? That doesn't sound like a good record?  If we could rewind to April 1st I would agree.  I would be disappointed with that record for the month of April.  However, given their 4-10 record after the first 14 games, I'll take 11-11 (I'll take 10-12 for that matter).  With a 6-1 road trip the next challenge becomes can we win at home? The first four home games vs. Tampa were good, but the next four were as disastrous as April games can be.  Hopefully the team will be able to get over that hurdle and win at home.  The schedule remains soft so they need to continue their winning ways. In my mind a 5-1 or at worst 4-2 homestand would be acceptable.  Keep an eye on how the crowd responds to the team and the manager.  When they last left town Bobby V was getting booed every time his cap popped up over the edge of the dugout.  It will be interesting to see if he still gets booed.

Clay Buchholz takes the hill tonight against Tommy Millone LHP for the Athletics.  Kevin Youkilis is back in the lineup tonight, further cementing the fact that he took a day off yesterday.  Shoppach is back behind the plate tonight, further cementing the fact that Saltalamacchia should have caught yesterday, and Beckett is a baby.  Aren't I supposed to be optimistic after a 6-1 road trip? Okay, here is some good news.  Last year's #1 draft pick Matt Barnes was promoted to high Single A Salem.  He forced the team's hand by giving up one run in 26.2 innings with 42 K's.  His next promotion would most likely be to the Portland Sea Dogs and it there is a good chance it could come by the end of this year.  Look for Barnes to come to Portland sometime soon along with Xander Bogaerts.

Here is tonight's lineup:

Aviles SS
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Ross RF
Shoppach C
MacDonald LF
Byrd CF

Buchholz SP

Watch for tonight's LIVE CHAT at 7 o'clock to discuss all things Red Sox and more!! Log-in as a guest and join us in the chat. We would love to hear from you.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sox look for the sweep and 7 in a row

It's official, Kelly Shoppach is Josh Beckett's personal catcher.  I know that today is a day game after a night game, but Shop played on Friday night.  I'm sure Salty could have played today if Beckett wasn't a baby.

It's supposed to be a little warmer in Chicago today, however I look for a low scoring game.  It's a get a way day and the Sox return home after the game.  The Sox had a tendency to play spring training type offensive games in these scenarios last year.  Perhaps that has something to do with why the players were whining about the schedule last year.  Hopefully they've gotten over that and they prove me wrong by scoring a bunch of runs today off of Gavin Floyd the White Sox starter.  Hopefully the wind won't be blowing in at gale force from left field.  Cody Ross (2) and Big Papi both lost homeruns to the wind last night.

Here is the line up for today:
Aviles SS
Sweeney RF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Ortiz DH
Youkilis 3B
Ross LF
Byrd CF
Shoppach C

Beckett SP

The Sox are on a roll and look to keep it going today.  A win would put them over .500 for the first time this year.  No Jerry Remy in the booth today.  I'm not a big fan of Nick Cafardo's articles, but I don't mind listening to him work with Don on TV.  I thought he was much more natural than Pete Abraham last night. I also hope that the Rem Dawg is healthy and can get back to work soon. Get well soon Jerry! I would hate to have a repeat of 2010 when he was out for an extended period of time.  Perhaps it is time for NESN to look into hiring someone to split some of the games a la Tommy Heinsohn on CSNNE.  My vote would obviously be for Eck and I'd love to see a couple of games with a 3 man booth.  While we are on the topic of media I have been very impressed with Matt Stairs on the pre-game and post-game coverage.  He seems very comfortable in front of the camera.

No live chat today so leave game comments here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Red Sox-White Sox Sat. 4-28-12

The Red Sox look to extend their winning streak to 6 games with another contest in Windy City, the very windy city for this series.  This is the lineup for Boston vs. Chisox righty Jake Peavey.

Aviles, SS
Sweeney, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez. 1B
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Ross, LF
Byrd, CF
Lester, P

Jon Lester is looking to get back on track after two sub par performances.  Lester is a very key component to the 2012 Sox success, it will be interesting to watch his outing tonight.  The Sox batters will be challenged by the former NL Cy Young winner and hurler of a recent complete game shutout, Peavey.
Hopefully they will respond as they did vs. Perfect Game Phil Humber.

In pitching news, Dice K had a strong rehab outing for the Sea Dogs today at Hadlock Field.  And the latest buzz on Aaron Cook, and his looming May 1st opt out date, is the Sox are strongly discussed recalling him and placing him in the bullpen and leaving Bard in the rotation.  Who is likely to go to make room?  Atchison, Albers,  or maybe option Tazawa ( although he has been effective and should stay around).

No live chat tonight, feel free to leave any comments on tonight's game, Dice K, Cook or any other thoughts right here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Poll Results 4-27-12

The third Red Sox Maineiacs poll has come to a close with 13 votes over the past week.  This was the closest poll of the season, with five answers within two votes of each other.  The poll asked readers what they thought the biggest reason for Boston’s slow start was.  An underperforming bullpen won the poll with four votes.  An inconsistent offense came in second with three votes.  A tough schedule, inconsistent starting pitching, and our manager Bobby Valentine tied for third with two votes apiece.  Nobody voted that critical injuries were the biggest reason for the slow start.  For complete thoughts on the poll from Barry and Brandon, check out the Red Sox Maineiacs Podcast #1 using the “Podcasts” tab at the top of the blog.  Here are some conclusions from the poll results:

- Bobby V led the poll early in the week when he was being booed lustily every trip out of his home dugout at the Fens.  After a four game winning streak, suddenly nobody is talking negatively about Bobby V anymore.  He made an extremely unusual managing decision Monday night when he visited the mound with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning after Trevor Plouffe almost took Fettuccine deep for a two-run walk-off dinger.  Bobby V cracked wise, a couple players chuckled, Aceves nailed down the save, and everyone went home happy.  If Aceves had blown the save there, Bobby V probably would have been vilified for disrupting his rhythm.

What should the Red Sox do with their bullpen?

While it was nice to see the Sox get a series sweep of the Twinkies (and now four in a row with a win over the White Sox on Thursday night), it is still apparent to anyone who was watching the games that their bullpen is pathetic (with the exception of Tazawa – he has…marbles!).  If these guys can’t get the Twins out, then you know we have a problem.  Now, Clay Buchholz is also looking like he is going to be a problem on this pitching staff, but that is a topic for another day.  I want to break this thing down using each of the seven available spots, the guys the Sox already have, and the group of guys at AAA who may become potential replacements.  For now, I’m not going to pontificate about potential trade targets.  Here goes:

Spot #1: Closer 
Current Pitcher: Alfredo Aceves
Potential Replacements: Franklin Morales, Daniel Bard, Alex Wilson, Vicente Padilla
Comments:  It is quickly becoming apparent that Fettuccine Aceves does not really have the stuff to be a reliable closer.  On Wednesday night, it looked as though he had no idea where the ball was going when it left his hand.  Salty had to dive several feet in either direction several times just to catch the ball.  He hit another batter, surrendering another precious base runner in a one-run save situation.  I have been an advocate of waiting it out, giving him a full shot at keeping the job, and seeing where we’re at in May.  It is becoming apparent that he has changed his approach in the closer’s role to try to increase his velocity, and he has sacrificed his control.  Also, his mechanics are atrocious.  I think there is now about enough of a body of work that we can say he is not going to succeed in this role long-term.  So what do the Sox do?  I am already on record that I want to keep Bard in the rotation.  I have suggested in the past that Morales be given a shot at the job, but the way he has pitched recently, it doesn’t look like he would be an upgrade.  The best solution left in the system is to groom Alex Wilson to be a closer, call him up in mid-May as soon as he is ready, and if Fettuccine doesn’t have his mechanics figured out by then, plug the rookie in and hope he has a Papelbon-like impact right away, at least until Bailey comes back from the DL mid-season.  Wilson has one of the best fastballs in the Sox system (excepting Bard), and a plus slider, which translates to potential success in a closing role.  If he can show command and comfort out of the pen in AAA, I’d like to call him up and insert him into the closer’s role.  However, this probably won’t happen until mid-May at the earliest, if at all, so for now the job still belongs to Fettuccine.

Alternate Universe??

The Red Sox now appear to be an unstoppable force and the Patriots traded up in the first round, twice!! What in the world is going on here?  Perhaps the Game 7 loss for the Bruins, as upsetting as it was, may have served as the turning point for the other Boston teams. Perhaps they fell on the proverbial sword so the other Boston teams could have a change of fate.  The world works in funny ways I guess. (I don't really believe that these things have any kind of real connection to one another, but I guess that's why we are called maineiacs).  My history as a New England sports fan has led me to thinking this way.

Today's Red Sox game takes us back to Chicago for the 2nd game of a 4 game series.  The Red Sox look to keep their winning streak alive and push it to 5 wins in a row.  Daniel Bard is on the hill for the BoSox and John Danks, the tough lefty is pitching for the ChiSox.  Sox haven't faced a lefty in a while so the lineup will have a bit of a different look.  Hopefully that doesn't mean the offense's production will slow down any.  Danks is a good pitcher, probably their best starter so runs may be harder to come by tonight.  It will be interesting to see how Bard reacts after a long layoff between starts and a brief return to the bullpen.

Here is my predicted lineup for today:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gameday Live Chat Red Sox at White Sox and NFL Draft 4-26-12

Hello Red Sox Fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat!  Join us tonight to discuss all the happenings in tonight's game as Boston looks to continue their mini-winning streak in the windy city.  In addition, tonight's NFL Draft will be discussed.  Submit your questions and comments below!

4/26 How Sweep it is!!

The Red Sox have completed their first series sweep of the year and head to Chicago for a four game set with the White Sox. The White Sox have gotten off to a 10-8 start, not bad for a team that is supposed to be rebuilding. Their pitcher for tonight's game, Philip Humber, threw a perfect game his last time out against Seattle. From the Red Sox perspective let's hope that the perfect game sapped him of his energy and he won't have much left for tonight's game. The Sox do seem to do well against right handed pitchers like Humber, so I don't expect there to be a perfect game for Humber tonight. In fact I don't see him making it through 6 innings.

The Sox have Felix Doubront going to the mound tonight. His last start was outstanding, however the game ended up being a nightmare for the rest of the bullpen and the team. If the world of baseball was ever going to be fair Doubront will get the win tonight. I for one, am excited to watch him pitch and I'm confident he is going to continue doing well. His change up will be key tonight because the White Sox have a number of dangerous right handed hitters like Paul Konerko and Alex Rios who is off to a decent start after a horrible season last year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

4/25 Sox Update: Things are Looking up!

I don't know about the rest of you, but this maineiac is feeling a lot better about the state of our baseball team today after winning two in a row from the Minnesota Twins. It must be the two live chats in a row! Thanks to all of you that checked out our live chat last night. If you haven't checked out one of our live chats you are missing out and you should check in sometime. It's a fun way to watch a Red Sox game with other fans like yourself. We like to discuss serious Sox matters as well as take a comical approach to watching the team, and one of our favorite pastimes is quoting movies like Major League and other pop culture items, plus you can get Jason's Kate Upton clip of the day! It looks like our next chat is going to be Thursday night. We will be discussing the Red Sox game against the White Sox that night as well as the NFL Draft. It will be a sports fans dream!

A couple of nuggets from today's Red Sox news as they prepare to go for the sweep against the Twins:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gameday Live Chat! Red Sox at Twins 4-24-12

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to our gameday live chat.  Join us for tonight's game in Minnesota and submit your questions and comments while the Sox go for two wins in a row.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gameday Live Chat! Red Sox at Twins 4-23-12

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to our live gameday chat for the Red Sox at Twins.  Come and participate with the Maineiacs by submitting your questions and comments.

Deacon's Trivia--Bitchin' 'bout pitchin' edition

Since the topic of the state of the Sox pitching staff has been debated hotly, here are four new trivia questions all concerning Sox pitching of the past.

1. Who is the only Red Sox position player to take the mound for Boston in two different seasons?

2.  On August 4th of last season, Justin Masterson struck out 4 Sox batters in one inning.  Who was the last Red Sox pitcher to have a 4 strikeout inning?

3.  Who was the last Red Sox pitcher to hurl a complete game,  extra inning shutout?

4.  Who was the last Red Sox rookie pitcher to take a no-hitter into the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium?

Good luck at retiring these questions.

Could Marlon Byrd be a Sneaky Good Pickup for the Sox?

I want to take a look at the newest member of the 2012 Boston Red Sox, Marlon Byrd.  We all know by now that the Sox acquired Byrd and cash considerations from our old buddy Theo for Michael Bowden and a PTBNL.  By the way, just for karmic justice, that PTBNL should be a minor league pitcher who shows up to the Cubs only to immediately blow out his elbow, need surgery, and be placed on the 60 day DL.

What I must first say about Byrd is that he is a 34-year-old outfielder playing for his fifth major league team.  He has started 2012 in a 3 for 43 slump at the plate in Chicago.  There is a chance that Byrd has reached that point in every player’s career when they have just lost it, and it is never coming back.  He may have the proverbial fork in his back.  But Sox fans will remember well our own David Ortiz having grossly slow starts for a couple of seasons recently and everybody thinking that he was done, and now we see Papi looking as good as ever at the dish at age 36.  It’s not crazy to think that Byrd is done, but it’s also not crazy to think he can still get it back.

Let’s take a look at some of his career stats to see what we may have acquired here.  First off, he is durable.  Byrd has had between 403-580 at bats every season for the last five years, with a 580 maximum in 2010.  During the period from 2007-2011, Byrd played for three seasons in Texas and two in Chicago, including his lone all-star season just two years ago in 2010.  In these five years, Byrd averaged 30 doubles, 12 home runs, 63 RBI, .291 BA, and .347 OBP, as well as playing a slightly above average center field.  Certainly, most teams would be happy getting that kind of production out of their center fielder.  So what gives?  Why would a guy only a year and a half removed from his first career all-star game suddenly be so expendable that the Cubs shipped him out of town and offered to pay most of his salary to boot?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Red Sox Maineiacs Podcast - Reasons for Boston's Slow Start

Here is another episode of the Red Sox Maineiacs Podcast!  This episode was actually recorded first, so it has the distinction of being the First Ever Red Sox Maineiacs Podcast.  In this episode, Barry and Brandon talk about the poll on the right hand side of our blog - what are the biggest reasons behind the Red Sox' slow start.  There is a section around the 39 minute mark (about the offense - we jump right to talking about Bobby V instead) that we cut out to make it a little shorter.  It is still a robust 1 hour and 16 minutes long for your listening pleasure.  Check it out and let us know what you think or let's discuss what was said in the comments section below!

What can Ben Cherington do--right away

I posed this question on Saturday's game thread after another debacle and horrific loss.  The following are a number of generic reactions by a MLB general manager who has a team that is going south fast.  After each action I briefly discuss how this response fits the current Red Sox situation.

1. Stand Pat.  There are at least three reasons why this response fits the current Sox scenario. The ongoing "it is still too early to panic" theory.  The sample size though disappointingly resembling last September is still only 14 games of 162.  The next reason for doing nothing now, is to hold on until the injured stars return,  Crawford in two weeks or so, Dice-K in mid-late May, Ellsbury and Bailey hopefully by June and July respectively.  The third reason and perhaps the most compelling reason to more or less stand pat is the timing.  Very difficult to find a trade partner of any consequence in April or even early May ( this will be referenced again more than once below).

2. Shuffle the deck chairs. In other words make some moves to help the big league club from within the organization.  As far as bullpen help, the candidates at Pawtucket include Aaron Cook, Brandon Duckworth, Alex Wilson, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, Ross Ohlendorf, and bringing back Mark Melancon. One kid ( Wilson ) who should have more AAA innings and a collection of vets rehabbing physical, mechanical or emotional issues.  Bringing in Marlon Byrd for now MAY alleviate the OF depth issue, but Che-Hsuan Lin is the only real healthy option if another OF is needed, unless they want to give Lars Anderson a look in LF.

Unfortunately, the three guys everyone is clamoring for play positions where there is less of a clear opening, or there is a question if any of the three are completely ready.  I am talking about Will Middlebrooks (3B), Ryan Lavarnway ( C ), and shortstop Jose Iglesias.  Middlebrooks would take a DL stint or benching of Youkilis, Lavarnway would need a release of  Shoppach or sending Salty back to AAA ( and according to a report I heard yesterday on Comcast he does have an option left ). Iggy would require making Aviles a utility guy and cutting Punto or MacDonald.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Red Sox Maineiacs Podcast - Red Sox/Yankees Memories

Check out the new Red Sox Maineiacs Podcast! In this episode of the podcast, Brandon and Barry share their best memories of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.  Let's just say April 21, 2012 was not discussed.  We do discuss Barry's marriage to a Yankees fan, the 2003 ALCS, and more.  Check it out!

Potential Trade

According to the Boston Globe the Red Sox and Cubs may be closing in on a deal to send Marlon Byrd to the Red Sox.  The Red Sox are certainly desperate for outfield help and Byrd is off to a slow start in Chicago. Perhaps a new start could jumpstart Byrd who has been an above average hitter at times in his career.  Hopefully Theo and Jed have a mid level prospect that they value more than the Red Sox.  It will be interesting to see who they give up (we can hope that they'll take back Chris Carpenter).

Sox and Yanks game 2 is today.  Doubront vs. Garcia.  There will be no live chat for today's game but there will be a live chat for tomorrow night's 8 o'clock game on ESPN.  So look for that and also keep your eyes out for a new feature on the maineiacs blog.  We will be debuting some Sox talk podcasts soon so keep a lookout for those. One of them will take a look at the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.

Leave comments for today's game here...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Poll Results 4-19-12

The third Red Sox Maineiacs poll of the season has come to a close.  Thanks to the 12 people who voted this week on who they think will win the most games on the Red Sox pitching staff, other than Jon Lester.  Clay Buchholz won the poll going away with 5 votes, Beckett, Doubront, and Bard all tied with 2 votes, and Dice-K picked up one vote as well.  Here are some takeaways from the poll:

1.  Now I’m not so sure that the question is even valid.  The way we worded the question makes it seem as if it is a foregone conclusion that Jon Lester will have the most wins on the pitching staff.  So far, he has yet to record any victories and the way he pitched against Texas Tuesday night makes me wonder if he might finish second or third on this team in W’s.

2.  There is a lot of confidence in Clay Bucks.  He had more than double the votes of any other pitcher.  I figured the poll would probably come down to Beckett or Buchholz, but I was surprised to see the 5-2 total, especially with Buchholz off to a pedestrian start.  I wonder if anybody would change their mind this morning after Beckett’s second straight solid outing last night?

3.  Doubront and Bard both got the same amount of love as Beckett, which I found interesting.  You have to think that Bard especially might be shut down as a starter at some point this season if he reaches 160 innings or so, or even once Dice-K returns and they want Bard to bolster the bullpen.  I would think Bard would have the longest shot to lead the staff in wins of anyone currently in the five-man rotation.  I think all of Red Sox Nation agrees we have liked what we’ve seen thus far in young Doubie.  He has a chance to be a solid second lefty in the rotation for years to come.

Is Rehiring Francona a Crazy Idea?

With the Sox in the middle of a 4-8 start Red Sox Nation is left wondering what has gone wrong.  A level headed Sox fan might look at the tough schedule to start the season and just chalk it up as a bad stretch.  Others might say that if this stretch happened in the middle of the year no one would notice.  Both of those would be valid points.  Once this team faces some weaker competition they may very well get hot and start to turn things around.  But that will just be masking the fact that something just isn't right about this team and what they need right now is a level headed manager who will remain calm and not rock the boat.  Bobby Valentine is not that man.  Just when the team started to play well and had won 3 games in a row he accidentally stirred up a controversy and the team hasn't won since. The man that they need in the dugout and manager's office is...Terry Francona.  

I know the idea seems silly and will be dismissed immediately by most, but for just a moment allow yourself to consider the notion.  Yesterday came the announcement that Tito had changed his mind and decided to attend Friday's 100th anniversary celebration at Fenway.  With the off day today it is only natural to let your mind wander to the idea of firing the current manager.  Certainly it will be discussed a time or too on WEEI and the Sports Hub today. Then the question becomes, if you fire Valentine who are you going to hire to take his place? There is no one on the major league staff or in the minor league sytstem that I believe could handle the job.  So if you look outside of the organization there are not a lot of people available in season.  Gene LaMont for example, probably would not bail on the Tigers in the middle of the year, especially to a team that turned him down four months ago.  If Ben Cherington is thinking this way, and you can assume that it has at least entered his mind even though he wouldn't admit it publicly.  Once he looked outside of the organization the only person that could slide into the job smoothly would be Tito Francona.  You can't tell me that Ben Cherington hasn't entertained the thought and with Tito potentially being in town as early as today it would be easy for Cherington to approach him and ask him if he has any interest in coming back to manage the Sox.  Now I wouldn't blame Tito if he said no way!  However, if anyone would be selfless enough to put things aside and return to his rightful job it's Francona.  The idea wouldn't seem quite so crazy if Theo Epstein hadn't gone through a similar return a few years ago.  So it's not unprecedented.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Terry Francona will be at the Fenway 100th

The news came down this afternoon that Terry Francona has reconsidered declining the Red Sox invitation to Friday's Fenway 100 year celebration.   I am not sure what caused this change of heart, but it is only fitting the greatest manager of entire Red Sox history attend.  I cannot wait to hear the ovation Tito will surely receive, not only as thanks for the 2 world titles, but as a chance to say goodbye as Sox skipper.  It should be interesting to say the least to hear the reaction for Tito vs. Bobby V.

With all living former Sox players, coaches, and managers invited it will be a treat to see who does attend. We can savor the history of our ball park and team for a coupe of hours, and then get on with the business of 2012.

Thanks Terry for coming to our party

Melancon sent down to Pawtucket

According to Nick Cafardo's twitter account and the Boston Globe Mark "beg for mercy" Melancon has been sent down to Pawtucket with Junichi Tazawa being called up to Boston.  This move should not come as a surprise (the Deacon predicted this during last night's live chat) he needs to get his confidence back and he can't even do it in a mop up role in the big leagues so there really were no other options then sending him down.  As of a month ago the relief pitchers who were expected to pitch the 8th and 9th innings are both no longer on the active roster.  Those jobs now belong to Padilla, Morales and Aceves.

Today's pitching matchup: Josh Beckett RHP vs. Derek Holland LHP.  The Red Sox player with the best numbers vs. Holland is Nick Punto and he's not even in the lineup.  Josh Hamilton has good career numbers vs. Beckett so look to that matchup early on tonight to see how Beckett is throwing.  If he can get Hamilton out early that should be a good indication that Beckett will have another strong start.

No word yet today on the status of Kevin Youkilis and his groin injury.  If he has another night like last night he may be the next to go with Will Middlebrooks called up to take his place.  Mike Aviles made a strong case defensively last night for Jose Iglesias to be called up as well.  Although he has not hit well at all in Pawtucket.

No live chat tonight.  So leave your thoughts and comments here.  Here is today's lineup:

Aviles SS
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Ross RF
Ortiz DH
Youkilis 3B
Shoppach C
McDonald LF
Repko CF

Beckett SP

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gameday Live Chat Red Sox vs Rangers 4-17-12

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to another gameday live chat hosted by the Red Sox Maineiacs.  Come chat with us and add your questions and comments during the game.  The Sox will try to back back from a 1-0 shutout loss against the two-time defending AL champions at 7:00.

National League Predictions 2012

First of all, let me go on record staying that the National League is awful. They let the pitchers hit for crying out loud. When was the last time they won the World Series? Correction, I was just informed that the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series last year. How the hell did that happen? Was that part of the Anheuser-Busch sale to InBev? Anyways, here we go they are obviously late but as the god's honest truth I haven't even looked at the NL standings yet and may not before the season is over. I'm not even sure that I will get every team listed. Are the Las Vegas 51's in the NL West? Correction, I was just informed that the 51's play in the Pacific Coast League, but what is the difference really?

NL East
Philadelphia- Their pitching staff is impressive (Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Pap). They have some good hitters when they are all healthy. Mostly, I'll pick them as a shoutout to my college roommate Jason Winchenbach as being a PA transplant this is his team, and I really want to beat them in the World Series so that I can win some Yuengling from him.

Washington- Solid young pitching with Zimmerman (Jordan), Detwiller, and that Strasburg cat. Good young line-up too, expected to get better with the arrival of Bryce Harper. Davey Johnson can live like it's 1986 all over again. Too soon?

New York- Everyone else is picking them to finish last and perhaps be the worst team in baseball, which is a mortal lock that I will pick them to go places...and be laughed it when they suck. Like the Twins in my AL predictions, resurgence from Jason Bay, Johan Santana, and John Franco, he's still their closer right?

Atlanta- They have some nice hitters (Heyward, Freeman, McCann) as well as some good arms (Hanson, Jurrjens, Kimbrel, etc.). However, I can see the arms in the bullpen breaking down after last year and Fredo Gonzalez is no Bobby Cox.

Miami- This is a team that has all the makings of dysfunction. Ozzie Guillen, a gazillion $ worth of free agents, Ozzie, Hanley Ramirez upset at being moved to 3B, Ozzie, their best power hitter is now named Giancarlo, Ozzie, that hideous new ballpark and uniforms, did I mention Ozzie?

Does Kelly Shoppach Deserve the Credit for Boston’s Success Against the Rays?

I’m writing a piece on Kelly Shoppach today.  I know I said I would write about the remaining four bullpen pitchers in short order, but this topic dawned upon me yesterday, and I feel the need to expand on it for 1,500 words or so.  Since the remaining four bullpen guys are already down to three, I need to get cracking on that column as well.  I know you’re all quivering in anticipation.  Here goes:

Let’s forget about the Red Sox’ 1-0 loss on Patriots Day for a moment, and really, any professional baseball game that starts at 11am and forces big leaguers to get out of bed and to the ballpark near the time they are usually going to bed after a night out at the Foxy Lady (am I right, Mo?) should be considered an anomaly and cannot be included in any trending discussions, okay?

Now that we have that out of the way, I want to discuss the wild success of the Red Sox over the weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Specifically, I want to elaborate on what I believe may be a behind-the-scenes reason for said success.  Kelly Shoppach.  And not just for his “I need to slide, oh crap I’m way short, I need to dive, I just caught a cleat, and I just ate second base” slide either. 

            Quick aside: I posted on this blog that the Rays’ B.J. Upton smashed a pie into Carlos Pena’s face during a post-game interview after Pena had hit a grand slam, and that this is the type of fun light-hearted stuff that healthy clubhouses do.  I bemoaned the fact the Sox players never seem to do such fun stuff.  Well, the way a lot of Sox players gave Shop crap for his slide reminded me of such tomfoolery and made me think that maybe this Sox team can gel into a healthy-functioning unit.  Another point in Shop’s corner.  Back to the article...

No, I’m talking about the fact that Shoppach played for the Rays for the last two years, and may have had some insider information that he was able to pass on to his teammates before the four game set…er, three game series (we’re forgetting about the Patriots Day game remember?).  Think about it – who knows a pitching staff full of young pitchers better than a backup catcher whose job it is to catch bullpen sessions, notice tip offs in the delivery (more on this below), coach pitchers on their approach to hitters, and generally help develop who these young pitchers are?  Who knows more than a guy who sits in on every meeting with the pitchers and other catchers with coaches and scouts as they prepare their approach for two straight seasons? 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sox Go for the Sweep (part 2)

If we've said it once, we've said it a hundred times: this Red Sox season is going to be entertaining if nothing else.  Comments from Bobby V about Youk has touched off a media/Twitter feeding frenzy this morning in the Nation.  See the post below for thoughts on that topic and add your own thoughts/questions in the comments section.  As for today's game, the Sox go for the four game sweep of the Rays at the traditional Patriots Day 11 am start.  Here is the starting lineup for the Sox:

Aviles SS
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Ortiz DH
Ross LF
Sweeney RF
Punto 3B
Saltalamacchia C
McDonald LF

The pitching matchup has young righty Daniel Bard making his second major league start against right-hander James Shields.  Bard showed signs of why the Sox want him in the rotation in his first start in Toronto, now he needs to take it a step further on the home town mound.  Shields had an outstanding 2011 after a disappointing 2010 - which will it be in 2012?

No live chat today, so feel free to leave your questions, comments, or random bits of knowledge in the comments section of this post.  Go Sox!

Valentine Rips Youk

Well, we are nine games into Bobby V's tenure as manager of the Red Sox and he has already made one of his trademark "throw a player under a bus" comments to the media.  Valentine told WHDH-TV on Sunday in regards to Kevin Youkilis that, "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason".  Youkilis responded this morning by stating, "I'm more surprised than anything.  That's not what I see. I go out every day and play as hard as I can.  The only time my emotion has ever been questioned is when I've been too emotional."  Dustin Pedroia, upon getting to the clubhouse this morning fired back at Bobby V saying, "I really don't know what Bobby is trying to do but that's not the way we go about our stuff around here.  Maybe that works in Japan".

Now that the Patriot's Day lineups have been released, we see that Youkilis is not in the lineup, and instead Nick Punto is hitting 7th and playing 3B.  Clearly Youk did something to piss Bobby V off.  We officially have our second Red Sox controversy of the season (first being should we move Bard back to the closer, answered by Fettuccine nailing home two saves recently) - a rite of spring up there with red-breasted robins and The Masters.  The Sox media and Twitter are buzzing around this story like flies on a hambone left in the sun.

**Update***: Bobby V's response during his media briefing this morning, "There's a perception that I'm going to criticize players in the paper or in the press, so as soon as I say something that's construed as criticism, it's going to be misinterpreted.  I totally apologized. The last thing I want Youk to think is that I was questioning him."  It was not a managerial tactic, Valentine said, "That wasn't meant to motivate."  Valentine initially approached Youkilis about a groin that was sore on Sunday, which is why Youkilis is out of the lineup, according to Valentine.  Sounds like Bobby V is back-pedaling faster than Darrelle Revis.  No no!  Nothing to see here!  We're fine!  Youk's groin is tweaked, nothing more!

A few takeaways from my perspective, before the Valentine remarks this morning:

Deacon's Trivia Third Edition

1. This year Dustin Pedroia did not homer in the home opener, snapping a streak of three straight years in which he had.  Who is the only other Red Sox batter to hit a home run in 3 consecutive Fenway openers?

2. Before Pedroia, who was the last Sox second baseman to hit a home run in a home opening game?

3. Who holds the all time Red Sox record for home runs in a single April?

4. Now that the Sox bullpen picture seems to be brightening, it leads to this question: who holds the Red Sox record for most saves in a season?

Good luck.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sox Want to Bring Back Crisp? is reporting that the Red Sox are "actively" exploring the outfielder market. They wonder if Coco Crisp may be a fit. 

Crisp has been displaced to LF in Oakland by Yoenis Cespedes. Crisp hit an average of .272 in three years in Boston with a three year OBP average of .331.  Health has always been Crisp's issue, having only played 124 games combined in 2009 and 2010.  But, Crisp stole 49 bases for Oakland last year (tied for most in AL with Brett Gardner) and was able to play in 136 games.  

After watching Repko try to dive for a fly ball and miss and Ross completely misplay a fly ball in the 5th inning today, having Crisp in the outfield defensively would be an upgrade.  In his 10 year career, Crisp is a +20 player according to the sabermetric stat Rtot, or "Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Avg", which is the number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made.  However, in 2011, Crisp was an even 0 and he hasn't had a season higher than +5 since 2007 when he had a career high +25 with the Red Sox.

In conclusion, if Ellsbury is going to be out until after the all-star break, I believe they could do worse than bringing Crisp back.  The question is what they might have to give up for him.  It was mentioned on the MLBTradeRumors site that the A's desperately need infield prospects.  I would think it would be worth a mid-level infield prospect for an upgrade in defense, and the OBP and SB potential Crisp could provide.

What do the rest of the Maineiacs think?

Sox go for the sweep

In a battle of young lefthanders the Sox go for the sweep of the 3 game series today with Felix Doubront on the hill against Matt Moore for Tampa.  Hopefully the Sox offense will continue to grind out at bats to wear down Moore and get into the bullpen as early as possible.  Here is my line up prediction for today:

Aviles SS
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Ross CF
McDonald LF
Sweeney RF
Shoppach C

No live chat today.  So leave your comments here before, during and after today's game.  Yesterday we won two games in the row for the first time since a doubleheader sweep on August 27th, 2011 against Oakland.  When is the last time the Sox won 3 in a row?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Game 2 vs. Tampa Bay

Game 2 Tampa Bay Series

The Sox try today to win two in a row for the first time since August 2011.  Clay Buchholz takes the mound trying to improve on a shaky first start in Detroit.  He will be faced by Jeremy Hellickson who took a shutout in the ninth for a win in his first outing.

Without Jacoby Ellsbury, who was officially put on the DL today with Che Hsuan Lin called up , here is today's Sox lineup

Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzazlez, 1B
Youkilis, 3B
Ortiz, DH
Ross, CF
Sweeney, RF
Saltalamachhia, C
Mac Donald, LF
Bucchholz, P

No live chat today, feel free to leave any comments here.  Looking for Buchholz to rebound, as did Beckett yesterday, from his first start.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ellsbury update

First Andrew Bailey just before the season started and now 7 games in it appears that Jacoby Ellsbury is going to miss significant time.  WEEI is reporting that Ellsbury suffered either a sublexation or separated shoulder and will be out for 6-8 weeks.  This injury is potentially devastating to the Red Sox.  Unlike catcher, infield and pitcher the Sox don't really have anyone in AAA ready to step in and do the job for an extended period of time.  This is where Ryan Kalish would have been able to step in and fill the void, but I don't believe that anyone that they have in Pawtucket now can step up and do the job.

What will Cherington and Valentine do with the roster? Che Tsuan Lin was scratched from the Pawtucket lineup tonight so it appears as though he is on his way to Boston and Ellsbury is headed to the DL.  I also believe that this injury makes it necessary to scrap the 13 pitcher idea and get a little more versatility on the bench.  Justin Thomas would be a strong candidate for release which would open up a spot on the 40 man roster for someone like Pedro "Caramba" Ciriaco, Nate Spears or Jason Repko.  Lars Anderson is already on the 40 man roster and he has been playing LF in Pawtucket so he could be added, but I believe that he needs more time in the outfield at Pawtucket before he is ready to play there in the big leagues.

The Real Opening Day!

The home opener is finally here. After a tough road trip to start the season and nearly a 48 hour stretch with no game it will be nice to see baseball at Fenway. I don't know about the rest of you, but I hope that the 100 year anniversary celebration gets over with quickly so we get down to playing baseball. I'm tired of this ownership group acting like the show is more important than the team and the games, but that's a topic for another day. Today feels like an opportunity to start the season over...

In my adult life as a Sox fan it seems that the offense never really gets rolling until they get home and play in the ballpark that the team is built for. I look for Cody Ross and Salty to get there bats going on this homestand as well as Ellsbury. However, the big story today will be Beckett and how he bounces back from a bad first start. If history is an indicator then hopefully he'll have similar results to last year. When he had a poor first start and bounced back strong with good 2nd start against the Yankees on a Sunday night. However it happens they need to find a way to win today and then find a way to win two games in a row for the first time in a long time (August 27th, 2011).

We are not running a live chat today but check in here for predicted and actual lineups, score predictions and other general discussion topics...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Poll Results 4/11/12

The second Red Sox Maineiacs poll has come to an end with 19 participants casting their votes.  To the surprise of no one who has been watching the telecasts, NESN’s new hire Jenny Dell ran away with the poll and the hearts of RSM’s readers with 7 votes.  You could say she absquatulated with our hearts.  Vicente Padilla came in second with 4 votes, Aaron Cook and Ryan Kalish tied for third with 3 votes apiece, and Jose Iglesias came in fifth with only 2 votes.  Here are some conclusions we can draw from the results.

1.  There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of faith amongst our readers that young Jose Iglesias can help the team this year.  Or perhaps that he will ever be able to help this team.  It would sure be nice to have him as a vacuum on the left side of the infield, but is it worth having an automatic out at the bottom of your lineup?  He is off to a 1 for 14 start with one single at Pawtucket this season, essentially validating every negative aspect of his game.

2.  Interesting that the readers have faith that Ryan Kalish will make an impact on the team this year, even though he starts the season on the 60 day DL and may not be back until the last month or two.  I wonder – did Kalish voters not realize the extent of his injury, or do they have that little faith in the likes of Cook, Padilla, and Iglesias?

3.  Aaron Cook and Vicente Padilla finished within one vote of each other.  Both have started the year off well, although only Padilla is on the big league roster.  Padilla finished second in the poll, which may have been influenced by his one quality outing (or perhaps my Bullpen Breakdown column!  Yes?  Anyone?).  Cook finishing in a tie for third is interesting since he couldn’t crack the opening day rotation and has to be with the big league team by May 1 or he can opt out of his contract, meaning he may very well have no impact on the Sox’s 2012 season at all.  Or, he may replace Beckett in the starting rotation by the end of the week when Beckett goes on the DL with a case of thumbuphisassitis.

4.  Jenny Dell.  Say it with me again.  Jenny.  Dell.  She seems to be a hit with Red Sox Nation.  She has big…upside and a great set of…interviewing skills.  If you judge “impact” in the question by the amount of Red Sox fans that sit up straight on their couches when she’s on the screen and hit up Google image searches between innings, then I will have to agree that Dell was the right winner for this poll.  Good luck Jenny.  You’re already off to a better start than those bums you interview before and after the games.

Check back for a new poll coming soon!

Last Game of the Road Trip

Hopefully the Red Sox can end their road trip with a win today.  The pitching matchup looks favorable, but you gotta play the game.  The Red Sox have done very well against Romero historically and Lester looks to be off to a good start.  We will not be running a live chat today so we can use this post for running commentary in the comments section.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Red Sox at Blue Jays Gameday Live Chat 4/10/12

Hey Red Sox fans!  The Maineiacs will be running a live game chat tonight at 7:00pm using Cover it Live!  We will be following all the action as the Sox take on the Blue Jays in game two of their series North of the Border.  Are you still aglow in the glory of win #1?  Are you upset that Bobby V appears to be glued to the bench during games?  Come discuss!

RSM Top 12 Red Sox Prospects

Here are the pre-season (yeah, we know the season has begun) RSM rankings of the top up and comers in the Red Sox system.  Around the first of each month, we will re-evaluate and re-rank if needed.

1.Xander Bogaerts-- A close choice at the top, but since we are MAINEiacs, we will go with the Maine connection.  Xander signed with Boston, right after starring for Aruba in the Senior League World Series, here in Bangor.  He has been described as the most exciting offensive player in the Sox system since Hanley Ramirez.  A shortstop for now, he is projected to be a 3B or OFer when he fills out.  Last year at age 18, he hit 16 HR in the SAL, a very young age for that league.  This year he is assigned to Salem only one step below the AA Sea Dogs. Could he reach Portland this year??

2. Will Middlebrooks-- Ranked #1 on many prospect lists for Boston.  He came to life at AA last year, hitting 18-80-.302 for the Sea Dogs.  He struggled in a brief 56AB cameo in AAA, but it was designed to get him off to a fast AAA statrt in 2012.  He is the heir apparent to Kevin Youkilis, not out of the question that could happen before 2012 is over, almost certainly in 2013.

3. Anthony Ranaudo-- Top pitcher on the list, a 2010 draftee, was ranked as high as #2 in that draft, but junior year arm issues, dropped him to the 30's where the Sox grabbed him.  He split his first pro season between Greenville and Salem. A guy with at least the stuff of a 2 or 3 SP, could be a number one type guy.  He will join the Sea Dogs in April.

4. Ryan Lavarnway--The story is he has a great bat already, 34 HR's last year including 2 with Boston, but can he be an everyday MLB catcher defensively?  The organization feels he has made great strides, he is much more valuable behind the dish, but if need be would make a solid DH/1B type.

Deacon's Trivia-Week 2 edition

1. Which member of the 2012 Red Sox had an uncle who played for the Red Sox?

2. Who was the last Red Sox player to hit a home run over the Green Monster and " into the net"?

3. In 2005, then Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo released a CD, what was the name of the CD?

4. Who was the last Red Sox pitcher to get the win while on the mound in his MLB debut?

Red Sox All-Time Brothers team

This is a product of trouble unwinding after a first Sox win of the year.  In honor of the the three "brothers" contributing here on this site with me, here is a team made up entirely of past and present Red Sox  players, who also had brothers play in the bigs.  This is off the top of my head, so I may have missed some, but this team includes some of the biggest Sox names of all time, some not so greats, and brothers of greats.

C Rick Ferrell  ( Wes)

1B Adrian Gonzalez ( Edgar)

2B Denny Doyle (Brian)

SS Julio Lugo (Ruddy)

3B Glenn Hoffmann ( Trevor)

OF JD Drew (Stephen, Tim)

OF Dom DiMaggio (Joe, Vince)

OF Tony Conigliaro ( Billy)

DH Jose Canseco (Ozzie)

P Pedro Martinez ( Ramon)

P Wes Ferrell ( Rick)

P Ken Brett ( George)

P Mike Maddux (Greg)

P Ramon Martinez (Pedro)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Red Sox Gameday Live Chat 4/9/12

Hey Red Sox fans!  The Maineiacs will be running a live game chat today at 7:30pm using Cover it Live!  We will be following all the action as the Sox try to get their first win of the season north of the border.  Have you hit the panic button?  Do you have questions or comments?  Follow the chat and post questions or comments below:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Column: Bullpen Breakdown

For my first column of the year, I’m going to tackle the hot topic of the week in Red Sox Nation – the bullpen.  Now, I started writing this column before the bullpen meltdowns over the opening weekend.  I have tried not to let the first three games of the season affect my comments here.  What I have attempted to do is break down each of the eight pitchers the Red Sox kept to start the 2012 season in stat-centric manner.  Of course, my own subjective opinions of each pitcher are also involved.  As always, feel free to generate discussion about any of the following in the comments section below.

This is part one of the column, covering the four relievers who figure to start the season pitching at the end of games.  Check back for part two on the other four relievers shortly:

Pitcher: Alfredo Aceves 
Projected Role: Closer
Upside:  Aceves is handed the closer’s job after being squeezed out of the rotation competition.   Aceves is durable and versatile: he led the majors in innings pitched as a reliever last year, held opposing hitters to a .193 average, and sported a 2.03 ERA.  His career record of 24-3 (.889) is the best winning percentage of any pitcher in big league history with at least 14 decisions.
            But how will Aceves fair with the move to the closer role?  Instead of a long reliever with several innings to set up his four pitches, he’ll have to focus on getting only three outs.  Bobby V said when he appointed Aceves to the closer’s role, "He loves competition," Valentine said when asked why he selected Aceves. "He's one of the better competitors I've seen.”  That is why I believe Aceves can become a top-notch closer.  After all, the last AL reliever with an ERA below 2.10 in at least 90 relief innings was Mariano Rivera in 1996 – the season before he became the full-time closer.
Downside:  Aceves doesn’t have great control.  Last season, only Andrew Miller had a worse strikeout-to-walk rate on the Sox staff and he hit 15 batters.  Plus, stats say he was lucky in 2011:
  • ·      The league average BABIP was .298, but opposing hitters had only a .235 BABIP against Aceves.  This is partly an outcome of good infield defense, and partly indicative of a lot of at 'em balls in 2011.  
  • ·      Also, Aceves’ xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching, or a pitcher’s performance based on controllable outcomes) was 141st of 145 pitchers with at least 100 innings last year.  That ranks him beside such names as Clay Hensley and Andrew Miller. 
      Rating: Aceves will have to find a way to miss more bats in 2012, to say nothing of having to survive the media scrutiny of his new role at the back of the Red Sox bullpen.  Despite his rocky start to the season, I believe he eventually has upside in this role.  Above Average

Tigers Series Wrapup

First off, the Tigers were very impressive this weekend and deserve a lot of credit.  Cabrera and Fielder are the best R/L handed hitter combo since Manny/Papi in their primes.  They are going to be a nightmare all season long.  The key to their lineup, however, was Austin Jackson at the top IMO.  Very tough team.  In last year’s opening series, as we all remember, the team that eventually represented the American League in the World Series swept the Red Sox.  The way the Tigers looked this weekend, that may happen again.

Second, the Sox showed resiliency and explosiveness offensively today.  Gonzalez and Pedroia are swinging well and we got contributions up and down the lineup.  I don’t think anybody doubts that the Sox are going to be among the league leaders in runs scored again this season.

Now obviously the pitching staff is in shambles.  The focus is on the bullpen, but if we could get a starter to go 6 or 7 strong innings, there wouldn't be so much pressure on the bullpen in the first place.  Beckett was abysmal and Buchholz was not much better.  I feel like it is last September all over again.  More than anything, their downfall last Sept. was due to a lack of pitching depth and their inability to find starters who could get through 6 innings.  The Bailey injury and subsequent Aceves/Melancon meltdowns have gotten the most discussion, but I feel like the most important issue facing this team is finding some quality starts.

Stephen King's New Novel

The 2012 Boston Red Sox.  Is this the worst 3 game start in Red Sox history?  To be fair even Stephen King couldn't write stuff this terrifying!!  It has to get better right?

The Sun Did Rise...

No question yesterday was a frustrating day for Sox fans.  You know with Josh Beckett pitching batting practice for the Tigers and all.   While yesterday was filled with the optimism that we would bounce back from an opening day loss, today it is much harder to be optimistic.  According to multiple interviews the players are all saying the right things: "it's just two games", but for the fans it harder to feel that way after what we experienced last year.  Right now it feels like last years start all over again and we all have the memories of last year fresh in our minds so a repeat seems inevitable.  Similar to last year's start it seems as though all of the Sox weaknesses have been exposed in the first two games and none of the opponent's have surfaced.

As easy as it would be to equate last year's start and lasts year's finish to this year it doesn't have to be that way.  It is a different season and there will certainly be different results (that's the scary part).  It feels like this team could spend the season fighting for 4th place with the Orioles or they certainly have the ability to fight for a playoff spot (thank goodness for the 2nd wild card spot).  We don't know what's going to happen all we can do is watch the games and hope for the best!!

Here are a few of the hot topics facing us today:
Is Bobby V capable of righting the ship?
Where do you think the Sox are going to finish in the AL East?
How badly do the Sox need Crawford to come back and can he be the player he was in Tampa?
Is Beckett a lost cause and this year's Lackey? (pun intended)

Let's hash out these topics and more in the comments section...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Red Sox Gameday Live Chat

Hey Red Sox fans!  The Maineiacs will be running a live game chat today at 4:00pm using Cover it Live!  Follow the chat and post questions or comments below:

Game 2 Boston @ Detroit

Game day is finally here, but we've still got about 6 hours until first pitch (unfortunately, the game is on FOX, so we will have to wait until Sunday for Jenny Dell to come back into our lives).  Today's game is certainly not a must win, but it is important for this team to avoid a bad start and avoiding an 0-2 start would be nice.  Plus the schedule doesn't get any easier over the next two weeks.  Here is a look at today's matchup.  Let us know your line up and score predictions in the comments section.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Long Off Day

The day off after opening day is always the longest off day of the year.  We just get started and we are raring to go and then we have to wait 48 hours for another game.  Totally lame.  Plus, it's even longer after a tough loss like yesterday.  Despite the tough loss on opening day there is plenty to be optimistic about heading into Saturday's game.  I'll divide them into 4 categories: home runs, triples, doubles and singles. Home runs being the top performers and singles being the biggest disappointments.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Deacon's Opening Day Trivia

Question 1: Who was the last Red Sox batter to hit two home runs on Opening Day?

Question 2: Who was the last Red Sox pitcher to throw a complete game victory on Opening Day?

The next two we did not get to use on the air

Question 3: Now that Jason Varitek has retired, before 2012 who was the last catcher besides Tek to start on Opening Day for Boston?

Question 4: Joe Castiglione is beginning his 30th season as radio broadcaster....who was the starting pitcher for the Red Sox in Joe's first broadcast for the Sox?

Throw your answer to us through Twitter or here in the comment section.

Heidi Who?

Wow...All I can say is wow.  This just in from old friend Jeremy in Boston: "she's an upgrade"

2012 Here We Go

American League Predicitions 2012

I'm late to the party but, still before first pitch. I know Jimmy Traina, the A's and Mariners played last week in countable games...

AL East
Like the rest of us, I cannot pick this division with any semblance of reason as my emotions get in the way. Alas...

Boston- Who did you think I was going to pick? The best pitching staff in the division, there I said it. Now the wrath and fury of Red Sox Nation can rain down on me if the pitching ends up in the tank. FYI Their offense will be pretty damn good too.

Toronto- I'll join the bandwagon Brandon. Let's get the Jays back to their glory days of the early 90's and the infancy of the Sky Dome...I mean Rogers Centre, which asks the question why is Center spelled differently in British English and American English? And why do the British and Canadians think this word ends with -re? Oh yeah, the Blue Jays- John Farrell would look great in the Sox dugout, their offense will be there, and Morrow/Romero is a very good 1/2 combination.

Tampa Bay- The Devil Rays (They will always be the Devil Rays!) have very good starting pitching, albeit with question marks (gasp!) such as will the real David Price please stand up, how many quality innings can they expect from Matt Moore, can Jeremy Hellickson improve on 2011. I'm with the Deacon their bullpen sucks. Kyle Farnsworth? How many people in America have had their fantasy teams screwed over by this Ricky Vaughan impersonator? Probably no one's other than mine but still. And their offense is still Punch, Judy and Eva Longoria right?

Opening Day is finally here

Well gentleman opening day is finally here.  Time to put the predictions to the test and start playing games for real.  I feel like a kid on Christmas morning, excited to open up a new present but not sure what I'm going to get.  You can't beat the optimism of opening day however.  Don't forget to check out the WZON BBQ with Deacon Art trivia if you are in the Bangor area.  Lots of good Sox talk there to kick off the new season.

I want to use this post as a running diary of the opening day events and game.  I'll kick it off with my lineup prediction for today:

Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Ross LF
Saltalammacchia C
Sweeney RF
Aviles SS

Lester SP

Feel free to let me know your line up thoughts and any other thoughts (score predictions) in the comments section.  How do you all feel? Confident? Nervous?  I just can't wait for the game to begin.  2012 here we go!!   Happy Opening Day everyone!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Aceves is Awesome

A couple items of note in Gordon Edes' column tonight on

- Sounds like Art may have hit the nail on the head in terms of the reasoning behind 13 pitchers: "Valentine said he not only didn't expect to go with 13 pitchers through the season, he may not go past this road trip, a six-game tour of Detroit and Toronto" so after the early off-days maybe they will swap a pitcher for a utility man.  Don't stop believing Ciriaco!

- Aceves is the best.  Although I'm a little disappointed with his nickname of "Ace".  I would have gone with "Fettuccine" know, Alfredo? Although I would probably then be punched in the face, and it would be embarrassing to be punched by a man named Fettuccine.

- Anywho, here are some gems from the column:    "I'm real excited -- of course I am," he said. "It doesn't look like it, I know. I have a pretty bad face. But I'm [happy] and pretty excited." Gold.

- Then Edes asked Ace if he would need to make an adjustment to become a closer, to which Ace replied "None. None. None."  Then Edes asked if having four pitches would be an advantage, to which Ace replied, "You will see".  Finally, Edes asked what his entrance music from the bullpen would be, to which Ace replied, "You will hear".  A journalist's dream, that Fettuccine is.

- Needless to say, I am very excited for every single column featuring quotes from Aceves this season.

Here is the video from with these quotes and a few more gems from Fettuccine's teammates:

WZON Opening Cookout

For anyone in the Bangor area tomorrow, April 5, WZON's annual Opening Day cookout is going from 11: 30 to 1:00.  It will be in downtown Bangor at the Penobscot Plaza at the RE Store.  Dale Duff and Clem LaBree will hosting a live show.  I will be there with Dale and Clem doing some Deacon Art Red Sox trivia. They will be serving up some free hot dogs and soda.  Come on down and get some free lunch and mingle with a bunch of other Sox fans.  A great way to begin Opening day.  See ya there.

Deacon Art

Opening Day Roster is Official

Update at 2:57 EST: So Padilla, Atchison and Thomas are not on the 40 man roster, but need to be added.  These moves have not been announced yet, but are expected soon.  I assume that Andrew Bailey, Rich Hill and Ryan Kalish will be moved to the 60 day DL to open up a spot.

Although, Stolmy Pimentel, Oscar Tejeda and Drake Britton may be on the bubble for being released/waivers.

Well it's official the Sox are keeping 13 pitchers to start the season.  Thus, starting a new trend? (I knew that Bobby V was smarter than everyone else).

Scott Atchison and Justin Thomas got the final two roster spots (we already assumed that Bowden and Padilla were going to make it).

Some good news for the PA announcer in Detroit...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Poll Results

The inaugural Red Sox Maineiacs poll results are in, and in a shocking upset, the Red Sox have been picked to win the AL East this year.  In a related story, all three of the posters so far on this blog have predicted the Sox will win the World Series.  Conclusions drawn from the poll:

1.  The Collapse of 2011 has not dampened the Sox spirit of this group.  Whether that makes us diehard fans or gluttons for punishment remains to be seen.

2.  It was a terrible poll question.  It was like asking a group of democrats who will win the presidential election, or a Google employee what their favorite search engine is.  I'll do better with the next one.

3.  Nobody believes in the Blue Jays!  There's plenty of room on this bandwagon!  Sigh.  I can't quit you Blue Jays.

Sox Pitching Staff All Thumbs??

After two of our key pitchers visited a thumb specialist in Cleveland, we know have the official bad news that new closer, Andrew Bailey is out until the All Star break or so after surgery.  A few quick thoughts on this:

We did acquire  a second pitcher who saved 20 games last year in Mark Melancon, who could inherit this role.

Reportedly, Alfredo Aceves was more than a little unhappy with losing out on a rotation spot.  The closer's role could be just the carrot to get him back on board.

Franklin Morales and possibly Padilla could be in the mix, but both are less likely.

For those who are all ready calling for Daniel Bard to move into the closer's job: he has not much more experience at closing than starting.  Let him go as a starter and let's see what he can do there before considering to see if he can close.

The starters could actually be a salvation to any thinned out bullpen.  Last year our bullpen pitched the second most innings in MLB ( only the Orioles pitched more).  In other words, our starters in 2011 pitched too few innings.  This must be reversed by our new all Sea Dogs alumni rotation.

Finally on Andrew Bailey. It seems it would have been more fitting last winter if we had traded Josh Reddick for Melancon, and should have traded Jed Lowrie for Bailey.  Just sayin'

Oh yes, about the other pitcher who had his thumb examined by the specialist.  Josh Beckett was told he spent all of last September with his thumb up his ass, take it the hell out and pitch.

Manager for my fantasy "crazy" team

Written by Brandon in the comments section of Brandon's 10 predictions for 2012:

Can we start an alternate fantasy league where the categories are:

birds flipped
brawls started
catchers' signs ignored
sitting alone on the end of the bench scaring the living bejesus out of everyone

and maybe add...

Gatorade buckets tipped over/crushed with a bat
objects thrown onto the field
angry crotch-grabbing gestures
and f-bombs caught on live television

The top three picks in some order have to be Padilla, Aceves, and Carlos Zambrano...who else is taken in the first round?

If anyone can control a clubhouse with Aceves, Padilla and Zambrano it's this guy...

Red Sox roster picks

This was going to be the post where I predicted the whole 25 man opening day roster, but we would all have the same 21-23 guys so let's boil it down to the last two spots.  So according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe the Red Sox roster has come down to 6 players for two spots.  The players are:

Dan Butler
Pedro Ciriaco
Nate Spears
Jason Repko
Justin Thomas
Scott Atchison

DL bound:
*It doesn't sound like Beckett is going on the DL

Let's duke it out in the comments section to see who we think will fill out the roster.

10 Random Predictions for 2012

The following are 10 random predictions for the 2012 Major League season.  Some are Sox-centric; others are not.  I tried to come up with “12 for ‘12”, but came up two short - much like the Red Sox bullpen will this year.

1.  Both the AL and NL playoff participants are not decided until the last day of the season, and at least one play-in game needs to be played to determine a second wild card.  Pundits and fans nationwide exclaim that the last day of 2012’s regular season is “the most exciting day of baseball ever!”, before remembering we all said that about last year’s day 162 as well.

2.  The top five vote getters for AL MVP in some order are: Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Carlos Santana, and…Billy Butler.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  Billy Moobs Butler.

3.  Adrian Gonzalez (2011 NL export) outperforms 2012 NL exports Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder on his way to a .335+, 35+, 130+ season and wins the AL MVP.  Adrian told Matthew Berry and Stephania Bell on the Fantasy Focus podcast that his shoulder has been injured for the past two years, he had off-season surgery to clean it up, and now he feels as though he can swing through the ball better than any time since 2009.  Yes, please.  Sign me up.

4.  Brian Wilson’s “Got Heem” will become the trendy strikeout call of 2012.  It’s the new sensation sweeping the nation! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, do yourself a favor and watch the video below: 

Monday, April 2, 2012

2012 National League Predictions

Here are the rest of my predictions for the 2012 MLB season...

NL East
Atlanta Braves – The Braves come out on top of the best divisional race in baseball.  Freeman, Heyward, Uggla, and McCann is a solid middle of the order, Bourn/Prado are top-notch table-setters, they have the best closer in the game, and a plethora of young arms in the rotation.  Plus, they have the feel good Farewell-to-Chipper tour for karma purposes. TOMAHAWK CHOP!

Philadelphia Phillies – What a boring pick this is.  I so badly want to put them down as finishing fourth in this division, but I keep staring at that Halladay, Lee, Hamels trio and putting them back in the top two.

Washington Nationals – Can the young guns learn how to win games when it matters most after years and years of losing? Does anyone realize their CF is an Ankiel/Bernadina combo?  Will the Desmond/Espinosa combo get on base enough? Questions upon questions with this club.  I did read a great article this spring about how Davey Johnson’s teams have always made great strides in his second season, followed shortly thereafter by clashing with this owners and getting run out of town, but still.

Miami Marlins – This team could win the division.  They have the talent to go to the World Series.  They also have the volatility to land here in fourth place.  Reyes is brittle, Hanley is bitter about moving to 3B, Zambrano is insane, and Ozzie Guillen might be insane or might be a genius. 

New York Mets – I don’t see them as the worst team in baseball (the Astros, Cubs, and Orioles are offended at the notion), but they have no chance in what is suddenly the second-best division in baseball.

2012 American League Predictions

Here are my predictions for the 2012 MLB Season.  I have broken them up into two segments because they are lengthy.  What can I say?  I am verbose.  I’m not sorry.

By the way, shouldn’t we keep track of these and see who gets the most right by the end of the season?  Loser buys a round or two of yeasts at a local establishment?  I love throwing myself into researching a sporting event and meticulously planning my predictions, only to never win the contest…you know, like my March Madness pool every year.

Here goes…

AL East
1.  Boston Red Sox – In comes Bobby V into the clubhouse and out goes the fried chicken and beer.  Pundits have spent so much time squabbling about SS (it was Marco Scutaro people!! Mar-co Scu-tar-o! We didn’t trade away Barry Larkin!) and the 4/5 pitchers this spring they forgot the 1-5 spots in this order are the best in baseball, and the Sox have amassed some good pitching depth.

2.  New York Yankees – Getting older, but not getting gone.  A lack of superstars on this team, but they have quality guys at most positions who know how to get it done.  Granderson regresses to his norm, Pettite is better than expected, Pineda is solid despite his horrible start, and I am sad I no longer have Jorge’s name or Matsui’s earlobes to make fun of.

3.  Toronto Blue Jays – Young hitters continue to mature (Rasmus and Lawrie rake), Romero and Morrow anchor an above-average rotation, Farrell pulls the right strings, and they deal for one more impact pitcher at the deadline.  Second year in a row I predict they make the playoffs.  You heard me.

4.  Tampa Bay Rays – Price is legit.  Shields is inconsistent.  Moore is wildly unproven.  Hellickson is loved by some sabermetricians and derided by some scouts.  Niemann and Davis are replacement level.  Longoria is their only scary hitter.  Their manager wears silly glasses daily.  Wait, why am I supposed to be afraid of these guys again?  Second straight year I predict a fourth place finish for this club.  You heard me.

5.  Baltimore Orioles – any time you can hire a control freak who hadn’t managed in four years and a failed GM who had been out of baseball for nine years, you have to do it.

12 reasons the Sox will win the World Series...or will they?

*Read Deacon Art's 12 reasons posted below before you read this*

I agree with many of the Deacon’s 12 reasons why, but I’m not totally sold yet.  So here’s is my list of 12 reasons and I’ll let you know at the end if I think they will win the World Series or not…

1.    Expectation Level- I could not agree more.  I love the lower expectations for this year’s team and the motivation it provides.  However, this type of motivation tends to wear out over the course of a long season.

2.    Dominant Offense- Again I could not agree more I believe this offense will be dominant.  So much so that I took 3 Sox with my top four picks in my for money fantasy baseball league.   They will score a ton of runs and I believe Salty will start an upward trend of offensive production much like Varitek did early in his career.  Not much not to like here.

3.    Front of the Rotation- The top 3 of the Red Sox rotation might match the others, emphasis on might, but not exceed.  Too many question marks here.  The top 3 are basically the reason for last September’s collapse.  The Buchholz injury was really the start of the gradual downfall.  Then in late August and September Beckett and Lester could not step up and stop the bleeding.  Beckett’s pattern is one good year and one bad and last year was mostly good so that doesn’t bode well (and we found out today that he has a thumb injury).  However, I do believe that Lester and Buchholz will be very good this year and both make the All Star team.