Thursday, May 31, 2012

5/31 Sox Look to Sweep the Tigers

First of I apologize for the lack of game day previews recently it's been a busy time for the maineiacs.  Tonight the Sox (26-24) look to complete the four game sweep of the Tigers (23-27). Josh Beckett (4-4, 4.15) pitches for the Sox tonight with Max Scherzer (4-3, 5.67) going for the Tigers.  The Sox have gotten over the .500 mark for the first time this year with this current 3 game winning streak and they hope to keep it going tonight.  It's amazing how much these two teams have evolved since the opening series in Detroit. Where the Tigers looked like a shoe in to win their division and make it to the ALCS, but they have struggled mightily lately.  The Sox on the other hand saw their fair share of trouble after leaving Detroit, but have been playing great baseball for the last 3 weeks despite playing with a make shift lineup most nights.

I haven't heard any updates on Salty, but we can hope that he's back in the lineup tonight.  I also have not yet heard any word on Pedroia going on the DL or not.  Also no word yet on when Darnell McDonald will be ready, but I look for him to play at least two games in Pawtucket before returning. The lineup juggling will continue tonight, however I would look for AGon, Papi, Youk and Middlebrooks to be in the lineup in some shape or form.  Here is my projected lineup for tonight.

Nava LF
Sweeney CF
Gonzalez RF
Ortiz DH
Youkilis 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Salty C
Aviles SS
Punto 2B

Beckett SP

No live chat tonight so feel free to leave comments here throughout the day with updates and opinions.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Live Chat Red Sox vs Tigers and Celtics vs Heat 5-30-12

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat!  We're chatting live during tonight's Red Sox/Tigers game as well as game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.  Lets-go-bos-ton!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Can Sox Dodge Another Major Injury?

Another Red Sox win of the Memorial Day matinee over the Tigers, paced by a strong start from the winner Felix Doubront ( now 5-2) and another Salty home run, has been overshadowed by Dustin Pedroia leaving the game with a right thumb injury.  After making a diving sliding play at second base, Pedroia left the game and later it was reported he had a "jammed" right thumb.  According to post game reports he may have originally hurt the thumb in an at bat earlier in the game.

In his post game press conference, Bobby Valentine referred to it at first as a "sprained" thumb. But when pressed on that indication, he admitted he had misspoke and did not know what condition the thumb was in, and testing had yet to be done.

Alex Speier was reporting tonight that Pedroia was scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday, because of Memorial Day being observed at all the major medical centers in Boston, he could not get one on Monday.  As someone who works at a major ( for Maine anyway) medical center, I can assure you that if Dustin Pedroia and the Red Sox wanted an MRI done today, he sure as hell could have one.

Let us hope this will be a day to day proposition, and Dustin is back in the lineup maybe even before the Tigers leave town on Thursday. But, something just does not add up here so far, and with the bad luck the 2012 Red Sox have had with injuries all the way back to around New Years Day, with Carl Crawford, the nation has to be worried.

Keep your fingers and thumbs crossed, because with Ellsbury, Crawford, and possibly Ross still over a month from returning to the lineup, losing our unofficial captain would be a very tough blow to survive.
An outfield populated with the likes of Nava, Byrd, Podsednik, and our All Star first baseman does not need to be joined by 2B Nick Punto.

Weekend Baseball Road Trip

I had the good fortune to spend Memorial Day weekend on the road at Hadlock Field on Saturday and on to Fenway Park for the Red Sox- Rays battle Sunday.

First, the Sea Dogs quasi-doubleheader vs. the New Britain Rock Cats on Saturday.  The first " game" was a continuation of Friday's game which had been fogged out after 4 innings.  The Dogs pulled out a 4-3 win paced by the pitching of relievers Marco Duarte and Aaron Kurcz.  Kurcz, who was the second piece of compensation for the Cubs for Theo, gave up a 2-1 lead in the 8th in his first inning on the hill.  But the Dogs paced by a double by speedy shortstop Derrik Gibson had their own 2 run rally  and Kurcz survived the ninth to get the win.  Gibson was drafted in the 2nd round in 2008, and was considered a top prospect.  However, he has never hit much in the minors.  On Saturday, he showed outstanding speed on the bases and range in field.  He could be a big league utility infielder if he can hit at all, but he is nearing the point of washing out as a prospect.

The most interesting offensive player in the lineup for the Sea Dogs  in both games was right fielder Bryce Brentz, a member of the RSM Top 12 prospects list.  He did not exhibit his right handed power, but did hit a blooper down the right field line and showed better than expected speed and turned it into a hustle double.

The highlight of the day, from a prospects point of view, was the second game starting pitcher for Portland, Anthony Ranaudo.  Ranaudo after joining the Dogs in May from extended spring training, due to a groin injury, had had 2 rough outings before Saturday.  And his first inning vs. the Rock Cats was more of the same. Ranuado, in the first, pitched well then poorly to every other hitter.A two pitch ground out to first, walk, K, HBP.  The after hitting Evan Bigley, the next hitter took him over the Maine Monster for 3 quick runs.

Friday, May 25, 2012

2012 Baseball Amateur Draft Ten Days Away

The 2012 Baseball Amateur Draft is a week from Monday on June 4th.  Overall, this year's crop is considered a weak year by baseball scouts and other insiders.  This is to a large degree due to this year's new strict slotting of draftee's bonuses.  This change was heavily rumored to be on the horizon a year ago, consequently many high schoolers who may have gone onto college or junior college signed while the money was there, as did the college juniors diminishing this year's pool.

The new slotting system allows each team a set amount of money to sign their picks.  The first overall pick in the draft is slotted at 7.2 M, and all of the following picks through the first ten rounds are calculated as a percentage of the first pick.  The teams with extra picks get to spend extra money as each pick is worth a certain amount.  Red Sox are 10th in money to spend at about 6.8M, interestingly the Rays are 4th from the bottom, and Yankees are also in the bottom 10.  Teams do not need to stick at the slot for any given pick, but must come in at or under the allotted total draft budget.  Failure to do so will result in penalties up to losing a future first round draft pick.  For example if a team's first round pick is slotted at 1.5M, they could pay the player 4M ( or any other amount), but they must not spend this excess on later picks.  This has lead to two schools of thought on this draft.  First some teams will try to draft someone early who will sign for underslot, and save the cash to nab tougher signees who slide.  Or in the example above, teams will spend big early and not sign some later picks at all or for short money.

The Red Sox have two first round picks, 24 and 31. #24 is their own and they have the Phillies #31 for the Paplebon signing.  The Sox also have #37 as part of the Paplebon compensation.  The Sox also pick at 87 and 118 in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

With ten days to go there seems to be no consensus in the mock draft media world on who the Sox may covet.  While perusing Baseball America, ESPN, Sox Prospects, and other amateur baseball blogs, two dozen names or so are thrown out as Red Sox possibilities.  Additionally, with the draft not coming into focus beyond the first 6 picks or so, many if not most names suggested as Sox draft picks are also shown as being taken before the Sox' #24 in other mock drafts.

5/25/12 Sox Open 7 Game Stand with 3 vs. Rays

The Red Sox return to action at Fenway Park after their first off day following 20 consecutive days of action in which they went 11-9.  The open with a 3 game series with division rival Tampa Bay.  The Sox have their front three starters of Lester, Beckett, and Buchholz lined up to face the Rays.  Tampa Bay counters with Alex Cobb, David Price,and Jeremy Hellickson.  Will Middlebrooks gets a night off, at the game's beginning at least, as the starting lineup is as follows:

Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Gonzalez, 1B
Youkilis, 3B
Salty, C
Nava, LF
Byrd, RF
Podsednik, CF
Lester, P

The Red Sox have started the year with 4 wins in 6 tries against the Rays. three of 4 on Patriot's Day weekend and a split of two games in St. Pete.  After this three game set, the season series between these two teams will be half over.

Another story line will be if any of bad blood that began to brew last week in Tampa Bay, precipitated by Adrian Gonzalez " predicting " a home run, and David Price and his twitter pals calling for AGon to be drilled, which he was.

One last lineup note, to illustrate the Rays lack of offense in general and especially with Evan Longoria on the DL.  In place of Longoria tonight, the Rays are playing former Red Sox fill in, Drew Sutton at third.

The Red Sox have been on a streak of winning or splitting series.  Hopefully at least 2 of 3 this weekend will continue this before the Tigers come to town for 4 games starting on Memorial Day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

5/23 Can the Red Sox Actually Win a Series vs. the Orioles?

The Red Sox (21-22) and Orioles (28-16) will conclude their three-game series today during a day game at Boog's, I mean Camden Yards.  Daniel Bard (3-5, 4.85 ERA) will take the hill of thrills today for the Red Sox, while the O's will counter with right-hander Jake Arrieta (2-4, 4.72 ERA).  Bard and Arrieta have very similar numbers so far on the season.  Last night's game featured some outstanding pitching.  It will be interesting to see if these two young right-handers can continue that trend.  Here are some story lines for today's game:
- According to an article today by Brian MacPherson, Bard has been working on his mechanics and release point to try to cut down on the number of walks and overall wildness he has shown in recent starts.  Let's hope he can keep the free passes to a minimum today.
- The lineup will once again feature Gonzo in RF, Youk at 1B, Willie Middle at 3B, and Papi at DH.  No matter what Ben Cherington said about this alignment not being an everyday thing, as long as Gonzo doesn't embarrass himself in RF, the Sox are going to want to get all four of those bats in the lineup.  I'm one guy who thinks this arrangement may be more of an everyday thing that they are willing to admit at the present time.
- Will the O's bullpen continue to be lights-out against the Sox, with the exception of Gregg?
- Speaking of Gregg, is there any residual bitterness lurking beneath the surface with the O's and Big Papi that might come to a head today?
- Can the Red Sox climb back to .500 and win a series against the O's for the first time in way too long?
- What will Scott Podsednik bring to the Sox lineup, basepaths, and center field?
- Will the get-away-to-home day game feature lackadaisical play or a low-scoring game?

We'll be keeping an eye on these story lines and more, from the comfort of our desks at work/school today.  Here is today's lineup:

Aviles SS
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Gonzalez RF
Youkilis 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Nava LF
Podsednik CF
Shoppach C

Bard P

Leave your comments in the section below.  Let's Go Sox!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

5/22 The Quest for Above .500

The Red Sox (21-21) and Orioles (27-16) resume their three-game series tonight in Camden Yards, better known as Fenway South.  The Sox look to take two in a row from the Orioles for the first time in what seems like ten years.  Tonight's game features a showdown of two young southpaws -  Felix Doubront (4-1, 4.09 ERA) starts for the Red Sox while Brian Matusz (3-4, 5.36 ERA) takes the hill of thrills for the Birds.  There are a handful of good story lines to watch tonight, including: the Sox' effort to climb above .500 for the first time all season, will the Orioles plunk Big Papi for his homer and bat flip last night? If they do, will it result in another Sox/Birds brawl? Can the Orioles extend their best record in the American League (what?!?! It's still unfathomable)? Which outfielders will the Sox pluck out of the stands to start out in the grass tonight?

We are not doing a live chat tonight, so leave your comments below.  Go Sox!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Live Chat Tonight at 7:00!

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Deacon's Random Red Sox Trivia

No special theme to this batch of Sox trivia, although question #1 is in honor of Mike Aviles' recent hot streak at the plate.

1. With the exception of Nomar who did this 6 times, who are the only other two Red Sox shortstops since 1950 to score 100 runs or more in a season?

2. Who was the last Red Sox batter to win the team Triple Crown ( leading the Sox in HR, RBI, and BA) twice?

3. Tim Bogar is the third bench coach the Sox have had in the last three seasons.  DeMarlo Hale last year, and from 2004-2010 under Tito was Brad Mills.  Who was Millsie's immediate predecessor?

4. Who was the only Red Sox batter to hit a home run into the right field facade where the retired numbers are displayed?

Since we have made our way to the correct answers on previous trivia posts through our live chats, I realized some of the readers may have seen the post but not the answers.  I will be soon adding the correct answers as a comment to each trivia post, for all to see as they play along.  Good luck on this verion of Deacon's trivia,

5/20 Game 3 vs. Philadelphia

All of Red Sox Nation waits with baited breath to see if Josh Beckett (3-4,4.97) can keep his Philadelphia home run streak going today against Cliff Lee (0-1,1.95).  A victory today would give the Red Sox (19-21) the series win against the Phillies (21-20).  It will be interesting to see what the Sox do with the line up today.  Adrian Gonzalez didn't do anything to hurt the team in RF last night, and in fact he made a really good catch down the right field line.  He also has the best numbers of anyone on the team against Lee.  Papi also did a solid job at first base, so I'd like to see Papi and AGon in the lineup again today.

I imagine that Shoppach will be behind the plate tonight with a day game after a night game.  Despite the fact that Salty caught Beckett last time with good results.  Salty really endured himself to his teammates and fans last night by playing the day after getting 12 stitches in his ear to close a cut.  It was a gutsy performance and he played a good ball game.  That's the type of gutsy performance that we need more of. This team has a reputation for being a bunch of prima donnas but Salty went a long way in changing that last night.  It was good to see.  I also think you will see Byrd in CF today with the lefty on the mound and with Ross being dinged up a little by the ball he fouled off his leg Friday night.  Although if Ross is good to go you may see him in LF with Daniel Nava getting a day off.

Game time is 1:35 check back here for updates.  Let's go Red Sox!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

5/18 Interleague Play Begins

The first interleague series' of the year start tonight.  The Red Sox (18-20) are in Philadelphia to take on the Phillies (20-19) for three games.  There are plenty of story lines for this weekends series so let's break 'em down one at a time.

  1. The first matchup against former closer Cinco Ocho (Jonathan Papelbon).  Which one will show up, Papelbon or his alter ego? With some of the interviews that he's done this week it appears that we'll see Cinco Ocho.  Look for some stellar quotes from him this weekend.  I hope at least two of these games come down to the wire so that he can pitch.  I would love to see him blow a couple of saves this weekend against the Sox.  I don't necessarily wish for him to do poorly all year, I just don't want him to get the best of his former team.  
  2. How will Bobby V juggle the lineup without the benefit of the DH?  He has said that each player (Ortiz and Gonzalez) will get at least on game at 1B.  The organizational approach of the past would have each player getting one day off, one day at first base and one day with Ortiz at 1B and Gonzalez in RF.  I would like to see the team be a little more aggressive than that and start both of them in all 3 games.  You could get by with bad defense for at least the first 6 innings of the game.  Then you can pinch run for Ortiz with an outfielder and slide Gonzalez back to 1B later in the game.  If you can get 2-3 at bats out of Ortiz and then make the switch for defense late in the game with a lead it would be ideal. It's certainly going to be interesting to see what they do.  With Hamels on the hill tonight would Nava in LF, Ross in CF and AGon in RF be the worst defensive OF in Red Sox history?
  3. The Red Sox will miss Doc Halladay, but have to face Hamels and Lee.  Tonight's pitching matchup is Daniel Bard (3-4, 4.30) vs. Cole Hamels (5-1, 2.28).  Will Hamels plunk Will Middlebrooks to continue his crusade of vigilanty justice?  
  4. Can the Red Sox continue their winning ways? Let's face it there is a sense of urgency for the Red Sox right now.  If they are going to start climbing the standings they need to continue winning games and series.  Taking 2 out of 3 or sweeping the Phillies would go a long way in the rehabilitation of this team's confidence.  
  5. When is Kevin Youkilis going to come back? He is playing another game in Pawtucket today, but if that goes well will they call him up on Saturday? Middlebrooks has begun to show signs of decline so the timing to make the move is good.  However, the team needs to have as much flexibility as possible playing in a national league ballpark.  Calling up Youk and having him at less than 100% would not be helpful, so I think they wait until Monday to make the move.  Of course Mr. Double Play Mauro Gomez isn't giving them much flexibility either so maybe they call up Youk as soon as he's ready and send Gomez down.  Then platoon Youk and Middlebrooks for a few days before sending Middlebrooks down to play every day at some point next week.  Again, it will be interesting to see what they do with this situation.  
A lot to talk about this weekend.  Feel free to leave comments here and keep checking back here for updates throughout this afternoon.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

5/17 Game 2 at Tampa

The Red Sox(17-20) look to split the series tonight in St. Pete vs. the Rays (24-14). LHP Felix Doubront (3-1, 4.46) pitches for the Sox and LHP Matt Moore (1-3, 5.31) pitches for the Rays.  The Red Sox have had pretty good success against Moore so far this season.  Once during spring training and once during the regular season at Fenway.  The Rays won last night 2-1.  Even though they lost the pitching continues to be strong for the Sox.  The bullpen did a good Houdini act last night and Buchholz was average.  The two runs were scored against them on a balk and a shallow fly ball that was played into a sac fly by Cody Ross.  Doubront will be looking to shake off getting hit by a ball in bp two days ago and give his third solid start in a row.

The offense needs to step up tonight and score enough runs to win the game.  A win tonight can get them back on the right track and help them head into Philadelphia this weekend with confidence.  Ultimately if the starting pitching continues to pitch well and give us a chance to win every game we are going to win a lot of games.  According to multiple media reports Adrian Gonzalez predicted that he will hit a home run in tonight's game.  So hopefully he's right and hopefully there are 3 people on base when it happens.

Here's my projected lineup for tonight:

Aviles SS
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Gonzalez 1B (you can put it on the board...yes!)
Middlebrooks 3B
Ross RF
Nava LF
Byrd CF
Shoppach C

Doubront SP

Keep checking back here for updates throughout the afternoon.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Live Chat Tonight at 7:00!

Hello Red Sox fans! Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs gameday live chat!  Come chat with us and submit your questions/comments below: Go Sox!

5/16 Game 1 at Tampa Bay

The Red Sox (17-19) square off against the Tampa Bay Rays (23-14) tonight at Tropicana Field in game 1 of their brief two game series.  RHP Clay Buchholz (4-1, 8.31) that's right take a look at those stats again. Buchholz is 4-1 with a 8.31 era, just goes to show how flawed the win stat is for SP's.  RHP Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 2.95) pitches for the Rays.  With Dice K looming it is possible (only possible) that someone will be removed from the rotation in the coming weeks.  Despite a better start last time out I believe that Buchholz still has a ways to go to prove that he is right.  Out of the 5 starters I believe that he is the biggest question mark at this time.  A great start tonight, 7 IP and <3 runs would go a long way.

The lineup should be similar to the last 4 games vs. RH starting pitchers.  With Nava, Sweeney and Ross in the OF.  Salty at C and the IF remaining the same.  Here is a projected order:

Sweeney CF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Gonzalez 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Nava LF
Ross RF
Salty C
Aviles SS

Join us tonight at 7pm for a live chat!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Easy Stretch/Tough Stretch

Back on April 22nd, the baseball gods and the weather gods cooperated on giving Red Sox Nation a  much desired rain out at Fenway vs. the Yankees  one day after the embarrassing blowing of a 9-1 lead, which became a 15-9 loss.  At that time the Red Sox finished a brutal opening portion of their schedule featuring games with all of last year's AL playoff teams plus the Jays, with a record of 4-10.

At that juncture, we all looked forward to a long "easy" stretch in the schedule. The upcoming 22 games would be completely played versus teams who finished 2011 under .500.  So how did it go?  First the good news, the Sox began the stretch with 6 straight wins on the road and finished with 5 consecutive wins at home. Now the not so good news.  In between those two win streaks the Sox went 2-9, for an overall 13 wins and 9 losses for the "easy" stretch.  And pending tonight's other results will be 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 games out of first, still in fifth place.

So they did not make up all the ground we were hoping for. However, they did play at a .591 clip, which is a pace that if carried throughout an entire season would give a team about 96 wins.  96 wins will very likely win the AL East this year.

One other fallacy of the "easy" schedule also came into play.  Just because a team is under .500 one year does not keep them from being a contender the next.  Also, at any given time of any season, any team can play well.  For example as of May 15 two of the so called bad teams we just played are in first place, one in our own division: Cleveland and Baltimore.  In addition, Oakland is over .500.

Poll Results 5-15-12

Hello Red Sox fans!  The sun is shining out my window, birds are chirping contentedly, and the air is full of mirth and merriment.  Yes, things are bright and merry in Red Sox land - four wins in a row, four quality starts in a row, and the Red Sox have won these last four games 29-8.  The Streaky Sox have continued their 2012 tendency to string together wins and losses.  They have already had two losing streaks of three games this season, along with two more losing streaks of five games each.  Conversely, the Sox have strung together winning streaks of six, three, and the current four-gamer.  So let’s hope they keep building their current streak, the birds keep chirping, the sun keeps shining, and the Sox win just one for the Wakester.

On to the poll results.  The fifth Red Sox Maineiacs poll closed with 8 votes.  This is our lowest vote total of the year.  I’m not sure if people did not feel like my new poll question was vote-worthy, or if our blog traffic is decreasing.  Or perhaps early May is just not poll-voting season.  Either way, Jon Lester was the run-away “winner” of our poll for who needs to step up the most with their play/leadership with five votes.  Adrian Gonzalez came in second with two votes, and Dustin Pedroia came in third with one vote.  Here are some takewaways:

- It’s hard to argue with a vote for Lester.  The key to the Sox turnaround over this past weekend was the starting pitching.  As the most talented pitcher on the staff and the potential ace, Lester is the key.  If he can start turning in quality starts most every time out, this team will begin to be the contender it can be.  But if Lester can’t put the team on his back and stop a losing streak, or take on an opponent’s ace and win, or put umpire’s strike zones out of his head and bear down, then this team is in trouble.  It might be as simple as that.

Tim Wakefield Day at Fenway

Things are feeling a lot better around Boston today after 4 wins in a row.  That's fitting because Red Sox fans should be in a good mood to honor one of their all time greats.  His Red Sox career really was amazing, his stats were not, but his story is.  As fans we had a chance to root for a unique player.  During his career there were 2-3 other knuckleballers who came and went, but for anyone born after 1984 he was the person that you thought of when you thought of knuckleball pitchers.  He was ours, we owned that unique entity for roughly a decade and a half and it was a lot of fun. He handled himself with class and humility.  He gave every average Joe Sox fan the feeling that they could play for the Red Sox if they could just master this elusive pitch.  Thank you Tim Wakefield for the amazing memories.  Coverage starts at 3pm today on NESN so be sure to check out the ceremony.

As far as the game goes there is only one story line: Josh Beckett (2-4, 5.97).  All eyes will be on him since his last start was so poor and the off field issues like the golfgate fiasco.  Ultimately it all comes down to performance, if he pitches well all will be forgotten (somewhat ;)   RHP Blake Beavan (1-3, 4.32) pitches for the Mariners.  The lineup has a couple of more interesting decisions to be made today.  Specifically at Catcher.  With a day game after a night game and a RHP on the mound there is no reason to start Shoppach today unless someone is willing to admit that he is Beckett's personal catcher.  Here is a look at a projected lineup:

Sweeney CF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Gonzalez 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Nava LF
Ross RF
Salty C
Aviles SS

Beckett SP

For those of you thinking that the Red Sox' sellout streak may come to an end today with a 4 o'clock start on a weekday, lucky for you the Red Sox brass thought ahead and scheduled Tim Wakefield Day.  I wonder how the knuckleballer feels about being used to extend a phony sellout streak?? Sorry I couldn't resist...things are just a little too positive around here.  As always leave your comments below.

Monday, May 14, 2012

5/14 Sox Open Short Two Game Series vs. Mariners

The Red Sox (15-19) look to continue their hot streak tonight at Fenway against the Mariners (16-20).  It will be a pair of LHP on the mound as Jon Lester squares off against his hometown team and Jason Vargas takes the mound for the Mariners.  This is a quick two game series for these two teams and the Red Sox have their supposed best two pitchers going.  This will be a test to see if they can turn around their early season struggles.  The 3,4,5 starters pitched well in the Cleveland series and Doubront and Bard have arguably been the teams two best starters.  We need Lester and Beckett to step up.

The Red Sox lineup seems to be clicking and it will be interesting to see what the manager does with the lineup.  The last 3 games were all against righty starters so he'll have interesting decisions to make at Catcher and OF.  I have been saying for two weeks now that if Shoppach is Beckett's catcher than Salty needs to catch the other 4 games instead of a L/R platoon. Salty seems to have really taken charge the last couple of games I bet he's in their tonight with Lester on the mound.  Nava is a switch hitter so I think you'll still see him in LF, Ross stays in RF and I believe that Byrd will play in place of Sweeney.  That leaves the question of who bats leadoff? The options are Pedroia, Nava and Aviles.  Here is my best guess at what the lineup will be.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

5/13 Sox Look to Win the Series

The Red Sox look to win their third game in a row against the Indians today at 1:30 on NESN.  If they do they will win the 4 game series against the Indians.  If the Indians win it will be a split of the 4 game series.  Daniel Bard (RHP, 2-4) takes the mound for the Sox while old friend Justin Masterson (RHP, 1-2) will start for Cleveland.  Bard deserves a better W-L record because he has been perhaps our best starter early in the season.  Bard has been doing a good job being efficient with his pitches and going deep into games.  He has been kept in a couple of games too long which has hurt his overall statistics, but he has pitched well.

Things seem to be a little more optimistic in the Nation this morning.  Two wins in a row will do a lot for a baseball team and it's fans.  This is not the first time we have won two in a row this year, but I think last night was really encouraging because it was in my opinion their best pitching performance from inning 1 to 9 of the season.  Cleveland only had 5 baserunners all night.  Adding to that optimism is word that several injured players are getting closer to returning.  Pete Abraham covered it well in his notebook on this morning:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sox go for 2 in a row

The Red Sox are leading 3-0 in the bottom of the 5th in their bid for two wins in a row at home.  Doubront has been pitching great.  There is plenty to discuss including Dice K's rehab start for Pawtucket today and game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals for the Celtics.  They currently trail in the 2nd quarter.

Feel free to leave comments and check back here for updates of both the Red Sox and Celtics games.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Live Chat Tonight at 7:00pm!

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat.  There is a lot to talk about tonight in Red Sox Nation - Beckett, Buchholz, Bobby V, etc.  Come submit your comments below!

The Neutering of Bobby Valentine

I read a great article by John Tomase on the Boston Herald online this morning titled, “Light ‘em up, Bobby Valentine. Time for manager to live up to his legend.”  It summed up better than I could my feelings about what may be the biggest shortcoming in a season full of them: namely, our new manager has failed to do the job he was hired to do, or be the person he was reported to be.  Check it out here:

This article inspired me to put together a little timeline of my own off the top of my head, which has led to where we are with our new manager.

- Bobby V is hired to turn around the culture in a clubhouse that had become entitled and lackadaisical at the end of 2011.  His history of being a fiery, passionate personality who is not afraid to speak his mind seems perfect for the role of calling out and changing the behavior of complacent veterans on the roster

- Bobby V claims every team member should ride the bus during spring training because that’s what teams do

- Bobby V then sends a limo to pick up Beckett

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Deacon's Morgan Magic Trivia

Right now Sox Nation looks for more than a little magic from any quarter.  Here are some questions concerning 1988's Morgan Magic.

1. How many games in a row did the Red Sox win at the outset of Joe Morgan's tenure?

2. On July 20th, near the beginning of Morgan's Magic, the manager received credit for taking control of the club by getting into a shoving match with Sox superstar Jim Rice.  Who did Morgan use as a pinch-hitter to replace Rice provoking the melee?

3. In the same game as the Rice incident, the Red Sox won 7-5 in the tenth on whose three run walk off home run?

4. During Morgan's Magic the Red Sox extended their home winning streak to 24 games.  On August 14th vs. the Tigers the streak, which began on June 24, ended. Who was the losing pitcher?

Hopefully the Red Sox and all of you are successful in recalling a little of Morgan's Magic

Red Sox Lacking Talent and Intangibles

There are two ways that baseball teams can win a lot of games: be very talented, or have strong intangibles.  Talented teams (think the Red Sox and Yankees of 2003-2009, or the Rangers more recently) can afford to be sloppy with their intangibles.  But there is no overlooking the importance of big-time talent to succeed in the MLB.  According to this post by David Schoenfield for the ESPN Sweetspot blog:

Every playoff team from 2009-2011 has had at least one player with a +5.0 WAR (Wins Above Repko, or Wins Above Replacement, whichever you prefer) or higher.  Most have had at least two +5.0 WAR guys, and many have had three or more such players. 

Sidenote: interestingly enough, the World Series Champions from those three seasons have had only two (’11 Cardinals), one (’10 Giants), and two (’09 Yankees) such players as opposed to loaded teams like the ’09 Red Sox (four) and ’11 Phillies (five).  Again, that ’09 Sox team should have brought home the third Red Sox championship of the ’00 decade, but I digress.

This is all a fancy way of saying that the teams that succeed have great players.  Not just a collection of good players, but great players.  There were only 33 players in the major leagues in 2011 who had a +5.0 WAR (23 hitters, 10 pitchers - WAR’s inclusion of defense into its formula makes it slightly harder for pitchers to have a high WAR number and makes it even less effective for tracking relief pitchers).  Simply put, you need at least one and preferably 3-4 of these best 30-40 players on your team in order to succeed and make the playoffs in the MLB.  I know what you’re thinking – I’m a genius who has uncovered a groundbreaking new theory of modern American sport.  Hold on, it gets better.  This is where I turn this piece back to the sinking ship that is the 2012 Boston Red Sox. 

Meanwhile in Other Boston Baseball News

If you haven't had a chance to check out this video from the Harvard Baseball team take a look.  It's gone viral and it is hilarious.

Turn Back the Clock Night at Fenway

The Red Sox(12-18) kick off a four game series against the Cleveland Indians(17-13) tonight at Fenway and they're bringing some old friends with them.  Also, Jerry Remy will be back in his rightful spot along side Don Orsillo on the NESN broadcast tonight.  RHP Derek Lowe (4-1) is the starting pitcher for the Indians tonight in Game 1 and Johnny Damon comes to town as well. The Deacon has been beating the drum for Damon to get his heroes welcome when he steps into the batting box and we'll see if he gets it tonight.  The lineups have not been posted yet so we don't know if Damon will play for certain, but I think it's a safe bet that he'll be in there, if not tonight than sometime soon.  Will he feel the love? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Hopefully Remy can bring some new pitchers with him and maybe some healing powers.  This pitching staff needs a wake up call.  Is it too soon to start talking about rebuilding? Maybe a little, but if the Sox are still in last place with a losing record by the end of this month and into June it will be time to go into full rebuilding mode.  With tonight's Red Sox starter Josh Beckett (2-3) being the number one trade target.  Hopefully starting tonight he will pitch well enough that someone will want to take his salary and give up some prospects.  This team does have a lot of talent on the DL but I hope we have learned from the past that you can't rely on those guys to come back and save a season. It just doesn't work that way.  They can certainly improve the team, but not rescue it.

Here is my predicted lineup for tonight's game:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Live Chat Tonight at 8:00

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat!  Tonight we will watch the Sox take on the Royals in game three of their series.  Come chat with us below!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Live Chat Tonight at 8:00pm!

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat!  We're coming to you live during tonight's Red Sox-Royals game, as well as game 5 of the Celtics/Hawks series.  Leave your questions and comments below!

5/8 Road Sweet Road

The Red Sox (12-16) take on the Royals (9-19) tonight in game 2 of their series at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City.  The Sox have enjoyed road cooking so far this season, as they have amassed an 8-6 record on the road as opposed to 4-10 at home.  The Royals have the worst home record in the major leagues at just 2-13.  It seems like both of these teams would rather be playing in the other's park.  The Sox look to continue Kansas City's home troubles by sending Daniel Bard to the bump.  Bard looks to build off his last two starts, when he lasted 7 and 6.2 innings and recorded 7 and 6 K's respectively.  Bard looks to improve his Sox-rotation best 4.38 ERA (sad but true) and build on his 2 wins.  He is opposed by young left-hander Danny Duffy.  Duffy is averaging 95.3 mph on his fastball this season, which is the highest mark in the American League for a starting pitcher.  The young fireballer is 2-2 with a 3.57 ERA and has 26 K's in 22.2 IP this season.  The Sox face their second left-handed pitcher in a row and will face another one tomorrow night in Bruce Chen.  Ryan Sweeney and Salty Dog have to be wondering if they will start any games this series.  My guess is that both will sit again tonight, and both will start tomorrow during getaway day.   The biggest story in Red Sox Nation heading into tonight's game may be how Will Middlebrooks will follow up his incredible 2 HR performance on Monday night.  Here is my projected lineup:

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

For you betting fans, the money line has favored the Red Sox tonight since it opened at -135, but it has moved down to Red Sox -110.  Apparently the early action likes the Royals and Duffy.  I like the Red Sox tonight and think they're a pretty good bet at -110.  The over/under is 8.5.  I think the under is a good bet tonight.  I think both young fireballers throw a good game and we come out with a 4-2 Sox win.  They are due for a relatively low-scoring victory.

A couple of other bets around the MLB tonight that look attractive are the Rays at +126 with James Shields going against the Yankees with Ivan Nova.  I also like a couple of favorites with the Jays and Romero at -115 over the A's and Parker and the Nationals and E. Jackson at -117 over the Pirates and A.J. (deep ball) Burnett.

One more bonus bet for you tonight is the Boston Celtics +2.  I believe the Celtics close out the series tonight in Atlanta in a big way.  That Hawks team looked crushed and defeated on Sunday night.

Go Sox!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Live Chat Red Sox @ Royals 5-7-12

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat!  Are you fed-up with extra-inning losses?  Are you somehow keeping the faith?  Come chat with us about it below!

Poll Results 5-7-12

In lieu of a 5,000 word post where I lament every ill currently facing the Sox (and let’s face it, it would take at least 5,000 words to do so), I thought I would make a nice innocent post re-capping last week’s poll question.  Let’s see if I can get through this without an all-caps scream session, an overabundance of exclamation points, or a call to fire the entire team and replace them with the opening day Pawtucket Red Sox roster.  Here we go…

The fourth Red Sox Maineiacs poll has come to a close with 12 votes over the past week.  The question was which Sox player currently off to a hot start would end up having the best overall season in 2012.  Mike Aviles ran away with the poll with 6 votes, Cody Ross was second with 3 votes, Jarrod Saltalamacchia came in third with 2 votes, Ryan Sweeney came in fourth place with 1 vote, and Junichi Tazawa garnered exactly zero votes.  Here are some conclusions from the poll results:

- Mike Aviles ran away with the poll with 6 votes.  I voted for Aviles, and it was mostly because he seems like the surest bet to get consistent at-bats throughout the season.  Once Jacoby and Crawford get back, everybody else on the list will be in a platoon situation.  Of course, if the Red Sox fall 15-20 games behind in the AL East, then they may want to get a look at Jose Iglesias at shortstop, so who knows?  Aviles was already demoted from the leadoff spot for one game this past week, only to be replaced by the horror show that is Nick Punto.  Aviles was quickly re-instated to the leadoff role, but he has been steadily regressing to the mean after starting off with an unsustainably high BABIP.  On the bright side, Aviles has shown some pop and he has played a solid shortstop, so for the foreseeable future, he will remain our leadoff hitter and everyday shortstop.

5/7 Road Warriors?

The Red Sox(11-16) open a 3 game series in Kansas City(9-18) tonight, and just like the end of the first home stand they need to get out of town. This time after losing 5 in a row at home.  Hopefully the road will be kind to them like it was in Minnesota and Chicago.  Tonight's pitching matchup is Felix Doubront LHP vs. Jonathan Sanchez LHP.

According to multiple twitter accounts the Red Sox are not planning any roster moves today.  That comes as quite a surprise since they played a 17 inning game yesterday and taxed the pen pretty good.  They need Doubront to give them a big performance tonight.  The bullpen will likely come down to Padilla, Miller, Mortensen, Aceves with Beckett and perhaps Bard being used in an emergency.  You have to think that Morales, Atchison, Albers and Hill are not available.  Aceves likely wouldn't be available but his right arm is made of rubber.  I also wouldn't be surprised to see them use Doubront and Bard tonight and get a complete game and then have Beckett start tomorrow instead of Bard.  Nothing is out of the question at this point.

Here is my predicted line up for today:

Aviles SS
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Ross LF
Ortiz DH
Middlebrooks 3B
Sweeney RF (may get his first start against a LHP since McDonald may need a day off after pitching yesterday if not he'll be in this spot and playing LF with Ross in RF)
Shoppach C
Byrd CF

Doubront SP

Tune in for a LIVE CHAT tonight during the game.  Check it out and prepare to be entertained.  Let's keep the faith!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

5/6 Game 3 vs. Baltimore

Clay Buchholz vs. Tommy Hunter today in game 3 of the series with the Sox looking to snap a 4 game losing streak.  Here is today's lineup:

Aviles SS
Sweeney RF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Ortiz DH
Ross LF
Salty C
Middlebrooks 3B
Byrd CF

Buchholz SP

The Celtics play game 4 tonight at 7.

For you betting fans, the line for today's game is Boston -1.5.  With the Red Sox' recent production, it looks like the Orioles would be a good bet today to either win the game outright, or at least cover the spread.  The over/under for today's game is 10 runs.  With Buchholz and journeyman Tommy Hunter on the mound today, plus some sunshine and warmth in Boston, that number could easily be the third inning.  So if you're looking for gambling advice for today's game, I would take the Orioles +1.5 and over 10 runs.  I hope I'm wrong on the first bet.  It all depends on whether Clay Buchholz can begin to show he is capable of being the pitcher we all want him to be.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

5/5 Happy Cinco de Mayo Sox Fans

Hopefully the Red Sox can celebrate with a victory today.  They've got a quick turnaround after last night's late extra inning game.  Bobby V has shuffled the lineup pretty significantly.

Sweeney RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Gonzalez 1B
Aviles SS
Salty C
Ross LF
Middlebrooks 3B
Byrd CF

Cook SP

Two former Rockies face off in today's game, both Cook and Jason Hammel of the Orioles played together for Colorado.  Many players from each team have good career numbers against the pitcher they are facing.

The Red Sox are 3-7 in their last 10 games against the Orioles and 19-18 over the last 3 seasons.  That should tell you all you need to know about the state of our baseball team.  For anyone who believes that the Sox have more talent or are a better team than the Orioles right now, the record says otherwise.  Any excuses used to explain it away are just that, excuses.  It was mid May last year when this team took off. If the Sox are going to compete for the division or a playoff spot in 2012 they need to start playing winning baseball and soon.  The "it's early" argument still holds true, but it's starting to run out.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Live Chat Red Sox vs Orioles 5-4-12

Hello Red Sox Fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat! There is a lot to talk about on a Friday night - the Sox look for revenge for game 162 of 2011 against the Orioles, the Celtics are playing game 3 against Atlanta, and our old foe Mariano Rivera may never throw another pitch again.  Come chat with us below!

5/4 Chance For a Little Redemption

The Red Sox (11-13) open a 3 game series against the Baltimore Orioles (16-9) tonight at Fenway. Jon Lester LHP faces off against Wei-Yin Chen LHP in a pitching matchup that should favor the Red Sox. There are thunderstorms in the forecast for Boston between 6pm and midnight, so it could be an interesting night weather wise. Any Red Sox players who were here last year certainly have plenty of motivation going into this series. I can vividly remember watching Baltimore celebrate their walk off win in game 162 last year like they had actually won something. A sweep this weekend certainly won't change last year any, but it will go a long way towards giving fans like us some redemption.

Aaron Cook was recalled yesterday with Jose Iglesias being sent down, a long with the hope that we might get to see the future of the left side of the infield for one game. It will be interesting to see if Dan Duquette is in town tonight with the Orioles. If he's in the house I'm sure he'll get some air time on NESN.

Dennis Eckersley is scheduled to be alongside Don Orsillo in place of Jerry Remy. That will be a good reason to watch the game no matter what the score. We all love the Remdawg, but Eck is the best of the rest.

Is the sellout streak coming to an end sometime soon? Or has it already? Here is an interesting take 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

5/3 Off Day

The Red Sox have a much needed off day today after losing 2 out of 3 to the Oakland A's.  Not much news to report, but keep checking the twitter box on the right hand side of the redsoxmaineiacs blog throughout the day for updates.  

A couple of tidbits:

  1. NESN issued a statement this morning saying that Jerry Remy will be out for another week while he recovers from a sinus infection.  I think I speak for all of us when I say, I hope that's all that it is.   NESN also announced Jerry's replacements for the next week.  Dennis Eckersley will work tomorrow's game as well as next week's series at Kansas City and Peter Gammons will be joining Don Orsillo May 5-6 against Baltimore.  Get well soon Rem Dawg!!
  2. Jose Iglesias will be sent back to Pawtucket when it comes time to put Aaron Cook on the roster according to  The report didn't say when the move will come.  I for one hope that they keep him on the roster and give him a start on Friday against Balitmore.  Then send him down after the game to make room for Cook in time for Saturday's start. 
If there is anymore breaking news look for it in the comments section below, and feel free to leave your thoughts about the Oakland series and the upcoming one vs. Baltimore as well. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Live Chat Tonight! Red Sox vs. A's 7:00pm

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs live chat!  Are you eagerly anticipating the MLB debut of 3B Will Middlebrooks?  Do you want clarification on the dizzying array of roster moves the Red Sox made today?  Come chat with us about it!

#1 RSM Prospect Called Up From Pawtucket

Yesterday's roster confusion has become a little bit clearer today, but as usual with the Red Sox, a new issue may have cropped up.  Will Middlebrooks has been called up today and according to some reports he will be in the lineup as long as he gets to Fenway in time for the start of the game.  Middlebrooks has been tearing the cover off the ball in AAA.  Hopefully he saved some hits for the big league team! I'm excited to watch him play.  With Youk being on the DL look for Will to get an extended shot to show what he can do.  Let's hope that Bobby V doesn't screw that up.

Aaron Cook has also been added to the roster according to CSNNE and he will be starting in the place of Josh Beckett on Saturday.  Beckett is supposedly still sore from his last start.  I'm assuming this is the teams way of protecting it's starting pitchers early in the year.  Beckett threw 126 pitches in his last outing so he may need the extra rest.  Now the speculation will begin about whether or not Beckett will go on the DL.  I doubt that he will.  The next roster move will probably have Iglesias going back to Pawtucket with another pitcher being called up for the bullpen.  I have a feeling that young Jose may get one start before he gets sent down.  It could come tonight, and Mike Aviles could use a day off so why not give him one while you have a legit back up SS on the roster.  The lineup is TBA because of the Middlebrooks situation.

Tonight's pitching matchup is Bard vs Brandon McCarthy.  The Sox offense needs to get back on track and hopefully get an early lead.  This seems to be a better team when they get out to a lead (with a couple of exceptions obviously).  Wouldn't it be exciting to get a glimpse of the future of the left side of the infield tonight with Iglesias and Middlebrooks even if it is just for one night.  

Join us for our special edition, 3rd chat of the week, tonight at 7 o'clock!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

RSM Top 12 Red Sox Prospects--May Update

It is time again to do our rankings of the very best prospects in the Red Sox system, and to see how April treated the kids.  We use several factors to rank including talent, projected major league skills, age, and how close they are to helping the big club.  Not everyone's rankings use the last factor,  and by doing so you may see some prospects higher on our list than others ( ex. Alex Wilson).  Behind each name the number in brackets is April's ranking for that player.

1. Will Middlebrooks {2}--Will moves to the top of the list with an unbelievable April in Pawtucket.  He hit 9 home runs ( out homering all the other players on the list combined, they had 8) with 27 RBI's and a BA of .348, his OPS was an other worldly 1.104.  Putting this month on top of his all ready known defensive skills and the rest of his minor league numbers, and we may change the name of this monthly recap to the Middlebrooks Market Report.  But despite ripping the ball, the Sox seem to want to get him as many AAA at bats as possible, witnessed by the May 1st recall of Jose Iglesias to help cover an injury to Kevin Youkilis.

2. Xander Bogaerts {1}--If not for the torrent of offense showered down by Middlebrooks,  Xander very likely would have stayed at #1.  His raw numbers pale to Middlebrooks, but as a 19 year old playing high A ball, Bogaerts if off to a very good start.  He has 2 homers with 10 RBIs while hitting .278 and an OPS of .828.  Even as a teenager if Bogaerts can have a May and June to match April he could be at Hadlock Field by July.

Gameday Live Chat Red Sox vs. A's 5-1-12

Hello Red Sox fans!  Welcome to another Red Sox Maineiacs Live Chat!  Are you a fan of cold-weather baseball?  Would you like to bemoan the fact Nick Punto is once again in the lineup?  Submit your questions and comments below!

Deacon's " Way Back, Way Back" Trivia

1. Two players hold the record for most grand slams by a Red Sox rookie.  One is Ellis Burks, who is the other?

2. Who holds the Red Sox record for the most home runs in a single month of May?

3. Who was the last Red Sox batter to lead the AL in home runs more than once?

4. The MLB record for home runs in a game is 4.  No Red Sox batter has ever done this.  Two batters who have hit 4 in a game have played for the Sox during their careers.  Who are these two home run hitters?