Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cousin Jason's Cooler Week of August 27th

Looks like there is not much going on in Red Sox Nation since last weeks cooler...except for perhaps the biggest trade in team history. Let's see what is on ice this week, a smaller cooler as school returns tomorrow morning. Which coincides perfectly with a West Coast trip.

Random Shooters
- I think I have found the perfect last name in the form of a Pirates Beat Writer, Rob Biertempfel who writes for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Only way it gets better is if it were actually spelled Beer Temple. Anyways, I'll drink to that!
- With the Republican National Convention in full swing, you have to go to reputable news sources to get these tidbits. Can't wait for the DNC next week. Ann Romney, Republican Base

Sox Pack
1. Looks like the kids will play from here on out. Tonight's line-up features Lavarnway, Kalish, and Iglesias, also a continued dose of Pedro Ciriaco. A great opportunity for the Sox to see what we got to work with for 2013. Which is important because in order to improve with our new found financial flexibility we need to know what pieces we can move as the next 2 free agent markets look bleak. Now if we could only get Salty super glued to the bench! Literally, 30 seconds after I wrote this Salty goes yard, cue it up Brandon
2. More love for the kids comes in the form of Franklin Morales making a trip to the DL with a tired shoulder. I feel like my own right shoulder has been tired all summer, guess I should call in sick to the first day of school tomorrow. Anyways, Morales DLing opens the way for Zach Stewart to make his Sox debut tomorrow night. Hopefully, this key piece to the Youkilis trade will pay dividends.
3. Thanks for the memories to Josh Beckett...I'd write the same for you Nick Punto, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez but I don't have any. "Kid Heat" as apparently Beckett was known as when he was younger, certainly not the last 2 years, was an integral part of the 2007 World Series Champs. So for that I give great thanks. Your welcome for the Fallout Boy clip!
4. Welcome back to Boston, Dice-K Mania! Just as the Japanese sensations big league career began Matsuzaka threw a gem against the Kansas City Royals yesterday. If Daisuke pitches that way for the remainder of the season, is there a chance that the Sox bring him back next year? Probably not, he'll end up in Fenway West playing for the Dodgers, again to loud applause from Red Sox Nation.
5. Watching NESN tonight, where the hell is Jenny? Naoko Funayama just does not cut it. First of all she is terrible, secondly she is terrible to look at, and lastly she sounds like a brand new 54" LED Flat Screen. "Get the new Naoko by Funayama only at Bob's for a new low price of $599. If the Sox win 75 games in 2012 you can also get my Bob-O-Pedic for $399." The answer as Jenny tweets, required to take a week off by NESN and will miss the entire West Coast swing. F-U NESN!
6. Sox Fans, Playoff Tickets went on sale today...for the PawSox! The kids will play at McCoy next Wednesday and Thursday. Great deals too, Group Playoff Packs of 20 General Admission or 10 Box tickets for $100 and a free Daniel Bard Bobblehead! Also Mauro Gomez has been named the IL MVP! Sox 1B 2013?

Until next week, I promise there will be a chaser including another Fenway trip memory, Go Sox!

Trade Thoughts

First off, I love the trade for the Red Sox.  It gives them a tremendous amount of freedom to adjust their roster going forward.

I especially agree with #1 and #8 on the Deacon's list of trade ramifications.  I think the Youk trade, the firing of Bob McClure, and the Dodgers trade were all part of a clear message that the Sox brass is behind Bobby V and he will be here in 2013 and beyond.  Bobby V clashed with Youk - Youk was gone.  Bobby V clashed with his pitching coach - the coach was gone.  The players held a behind-his-back meeting to get Bobby V fired (supposedly led by Gonzo among others), and three of them are shipped off to the west coast.  Bobby V seems to get what he wants out of these owners, who seem too stubborn to admit Bobby V may not have been the best hire.

I thought of #8 as well, that the Dodgers will probably play in the World Series this year.  Right after the trade happened Adrian Gonzalez tweeted something along the lines of, "So excited! I can't wait to get back to the west coast! I hate the cold of the northeast, the shark-infested cluster**** that is the boston media, and that dumb*** of a manager!" (okay, I made that last part up, but the rest of the tweet was basically the same).  I think AGon is going to have a massive remainder of 2012 and beyond in LA.  He was meant to be on the west coast.  All the sabermetrics in the world can't always forecast what will happen when a human being gets taken away from where he grew up and where he feels most comfortable.

Beckett having an F-U stretch drive back in the NL is such a sure thing, I wish they were taking bets on it at the Oxford Casino.  I'd drive over and slap down a couple hundo this afternoon.

How's this for a prediction, again given how the 2012 season has gone for the Sox:

Joe Buck: ...and we're live for game 6 of the World Series here on Fox!  Tonight Josh Beckett starts with the Dodgers' season on the line here in Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees are one win away from winning the world series, which makes me giddy with glee...and the man standing in his path is old rival Josh Beckett.  That's right - tonight Red Sox fans will have to choose between rooting for Josh Beckett in a Dodgers uniform or the Yankees winning the championship!  MUAHHAHAH! I LOVE THE YANKEES!!!

Tim McCarver: You know, the team that wins tonight will be the team that gets better pitching, unless the other team scores more runs.

Joe Buck: Right.  Well the heart of the Dodgers lineup, Ramirez, Kemp, and Gonzalez, has been outstanding in this series, basically winning games 2 and 4 by themselves.  But nobody has been better than Adrian Gonzalez.  If the Dodgers find a way to win the World Series, Gonzalez will definitely be the World Series MVP....and if the Yankees win it, the captain, Derek Jeter, has been sublime as usual in this series.  Excuse me while I wash his balls.

Tim McCarver: garble garble garble...when I played....garble garble garble.

Yes, I'm dreading watching playoff baseball this year already.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Possible Ramifications from Dodger-Sox Deal

The waiver wire megadeal that reset the future of the Red Sox brings numerous other questions.  here are a dozen or so with brief comments and possible answers.  Some of the questions may overlap a bit.

1. Is this deal a signal that Bobby Valentine has won the war with the players and will return for 2013?

Personally I do not think this opportunity to unload a quarter billion in payroll dollars had anything to do with the manager's situation. But I do see how it could be spun that way.  The best way to illustrate how murky the manager's future still is, is to quote two Boston media vets who are close to the team.  In this past week's Ask Nick mailbag on Boston.com Nick Cafardo's repsonse to the question of Valentine's future was " I do not see any way that he does not return".  On Saturday's Comcast Baseball Show, Sean MacAdam answered the same question with " I do not see any way in which he returns".  To still be determined, but everyone here knows I think he has to go.

2. Will the Red Sox now sign Jacoby Ellsbury to a long term, big money extension?

The school of thought on Ellsbury had been since the Crawford and Gonzalez acquisitions, the Red Sox could not have 3 20M players on one payroll and Ellsbury's and Crawford's skill sets were too similar to pay 2 guys the same big money.  So we have a definite answer to CAN the Sox give big bucks to Jacoby? It is now a definite YES.  But the key questions are WILL the Sox want to do this and equally important does Ellsbury want to stay? I still think the answer to the last question is no.  And if the Sox are truly going to be more "disciplined" ( Ben's word from the presser) do they give a Crawford size deal to Ellsbury, who actually turns 30 next year?  With Jackie Bradley in the pipeline, I still would give odds that Ellsbury is traded this off season.

3. Does David Ortiz finally get his multi year deal?

A this moment, the closest thing to middle of the order hitter under contract for 2013 is Will Middlebrooks.  Ortiz was their only effective power hitter this year.  But the current achilles injury ( which looks like is going to end Papi's 2102 season) muddies the water.  With no one else seemingly giving contracts to DH only guys, Boston may be his only option.  I bet the Sox bring back on a one year deal, with the slightest chance they do a 2 year deal.  To further boost the middle of the order for 2013, I think they sign Cody Ross to a 2 or 3 year deal, as well.

4. Who else gets traded this week ( before Sept. 1)?

I think there will be more players moved, but no more blockbusters.  ( although on the day the Dodger deal was finalized, Cafardo casually tossed out that Lester and Ellsbury had been put on trade waivers that day).  Likely candidates could include Aviles, Cook ( who helped his value Sat. night), Padilla, maybe Aceves, and Ross would have a market but I think Boston would like to keep him. Podsednik, maybe.

5. How much more of a housecleaning of veteran players is ahead?

Any other big work would seemingly come this winter.  Do they completely unload all the vets ( Pedroia, Lester, Salty, Ellsbury)  or do they build around these guys.  At the moment the trade news broke anything seemed possible, but after Cherington's Saturday press conference, I do not believe they are looking at a all kids multi year rebuild.  With the payroll flexibility they now have, there is no need to go all kids.  Is there?

6. Who do they spend all this money on, or do they spend it at all?

Almost immediately, even before the official announcement, the names of the only two big name free agents for this winter were tied to the Sox and their new cash windfall by fans and some media members.  These gentleman are Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton.  In my opinion both of these two are horrible fits for Boston, and even if they were a fit, both big time risks for long term deals.  One problem with all this new found cash is that this winter free agent ( and next years, too)  are lean.  A couple of maybe interesting names: Mike Napoli and Nick Swisher ( but surely not at the Jayson Werth 126M level that Swisher has said he is shooting for).  Instead of signing free agents, I think the Sox may trade for players who are maybe getting too expensive for their current teams.  But I do not expect their payroll to get anywhere near 175M again for a few years.

7. Do the new openings in the lineup move the timetable for Xander Bogaerts ( and other kids)?

One of the problems with getting Xander to Boston at age 20 sometime next year was where to play him if he cannot stay at shortstop, which most scouts feel is true.  Now left field is wide open, as would be first ( or maybe third if Middlebrook is converted to first??)  I would not force feed Bogaerts to the bigs, but if he continues to rip up the minors, there is no reason to hold him back.

8. Will the fan base continue to smile if the Dodgers make the World Series?

This deal seems to have overwhelming approval of Red Sox Nation, but what happens if Josh Beckett wins a couple of World Series games with AGon being the WS MVP?  I think this year stunk enough, so Sox fans will still buy this deal, but there will be griping if  LA wins.  Wait and see.

9. Does dumping AGon and Crawford so soon into their big time deals discourage other free agents from signing here?

Ben Cherington admitted they considered this, and the so called toxic clubhouse may not help either.  But money talks, if the Sox want a free agent and offer the most money, they can sign guys.

10. Does this deal mean Ben Cherington is free of Larry Luchino's shackles?

I think the short answer is no.  This deal could have as easily driven by LL as Ben.  This winter's deals may shed more light on this question.  The firing of the manager would also be a signal of more autonomy for Cherington.

11. Will the relentless marking of the " Red Sox brand" ease?

Will the Sox stop playing Sweet Caroline like Pete Abe and other media members cry for , or will they stop selling Fenway bricks or turning every pre-game into a Tom Werner television show?  Unlikely, but if they do go younger a slight ticket price decrease would be a good gesture.  Nah, that would be as unlikely as dealing your top three contracts in one mid-August trade.

12.  Does Red Sox Nation have the patience for a rebuilding ( bridge year or two?)

According to every Boston pundit there is no way you can rebuild in Boston.  I disagree to a point.  If the Sox imply they are building a team for 2017, then yes I agree fans will not take that.  But if the Sox play guys like Middlebrooks, Lavarnway, Iglesias, Kalish, de la Rosa, with the killer B's on the way plus a couple of young additions from outside, the fandom would eat this up after the toxic '12 season.

We all knew this winter would be wild, just did not expect it to start in August.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Can the Sox pull a mid-August Mega Deal

Reports that began around mid afternoon are swirling the Red Sox are close to one of the biggest trade in their history.  First it was reported the Dodgers put in a waiver claim on Adrian Gonzalez, newsworthy but star players are often floated onto the waiver wire.  But then an hour or so later, it was reported that Josh Beckett has also been claimed, and it turned out also by LA.  The possibility of both traded in one package intensified.  Then around 6 pm Gordon Edes of ESPN first reported followed by others that in return for a package of kids plus James Loney the Red Sox would send Gonzo, Beckett, Nick Punto AND Carl Crawford to LA. WOW.

It is not a done deal, but Loney and Gonzalez were scratched right before game time from their respective lineups.  Stay Tuned

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Red Sox vs. Angels Live Chat 8-22-12

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cousin Jason's Cooler Week of August 20th

As you can tell between the return of school and the continued struggles of the Sox it has become increasingly difficult for the RSM to post new content, even looking in the cooler is becoming tougher as the games go by. We'll give it a go though and see what we got iced down this week.

Random Shooters
- Since in-service began today for Cousin Jason, let's reflect on the summer. Great weather, plenty of quality time spent with the youngsters, good summer!

Sox Pack
1. The drama continued last week with reports of "the meeting" in New York at the end of July. Let me go on record as saying who gives a flying (expletive). I wrote something similar to this upon my return from Fenway in the wake of the Josh Beckett saga, let's just play baseball and stop worrying about all of the other minutiae.

2. We have mentioned that Xander Boegaerts has been promoted to AA Portland where he is tearing the cover off the baseball. The Sea Dogs are stocked with a whose who of Sox prospects right now with Boegaerts, Bradley, Brentz, Travis Shaw, and Company. The Dogs are home the next 2 weekends to close out the season, if you get a chance to get to Hadlock Field do so and catch these future Sox. I believe the Cousin Jason clan is looking into a Labor Day weekend trip. Hopefully, Jackie Bradley who was hurt (ankle) running the bases in New Britain last night will be healthy by then. According to Manager Kevin Boles via Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald's twitter Bradley is day to day.

3. Happy Trails to Bob McClure, it appears that he gets to go on an Aerosmith album..."Permanent Vacation." Not sure that this move will benefit the Sox over the final 6 weeks but this move has been obvious since McClure and Bobby V's struggle to co-exist became known. The dismissal of the pitching coach did lead to our Beat Writer Tweet of the Week with the King of Social Media Pete Abe chiming in with "No word on the job status of Troy McClure." Anytime you make a Simpson's reference, it's a solid tweet!

4. Carl Crawford has been shut down to get Tommy John surgery in order to be ready for 2013. Best of luck to CC. This has led to the return of Daniel Nava, in the line-up DHing to open the Angels series. The line-up has been juggled tonight to include Ciriaco leading off, Pedroia second, and Ellsbury third. Apparently, this is the first time Ells has ever hit 3rd as a pro. In other moves, Vicente Padilla, the Nicaraguan Nightmare has been activated and Danny Valencia has been optioned.

5. Jimmy Fund Telethon is going on today. What a great cause the Sox have been part of for decades. A model for all of Major League Baseball.

6. This week will decide the fate of the Sox in September, a string of victories will most assuredly lead to another month of the same and a string of defeats will probably lead to the chance to see some of the kids play including Jose Iglesias. As much as we would love to see the Sox streak into the post-season probably need to play the kids to see what we have to work with for 2013.

Until next week, Go Sox!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cousin Jason's Cooler Week of August 13th

The cooler is chalk full this week as the Sox open a series in Baltimore. Let's open the chest up and see what's on ice:

Random Shooters
- Best wishes to Barry and his Washington Academy Raiders football team as they have begun their pre-season workouts.
- Final thoughts on the Olympics. Thoroughly impressed with the spectacle that London put on, especially the opening ceremony. Great to see the good ole USA atop the medal count as well. As I posted on Twitter (@mcihusky) the bar has been set very high for Rio de Janeiro in 2016 after London and Beijing.
- After an 0fer first week in Fantasy Baseball, my team the Jenny's Dell's are quickly rising up to 4th place with a showdown rematch with Deacon Art's juggernaut this week. Watch out the sweaters are off and the Dell's are coming!

Sox Pack
1. Everyone and their brother has written, posted, or Tweeted something about the passing of Johnny Pesky so the RSM would be remiss to not chim in with their own thoughts. Pesky was the epitome of a Red Sox. It will seem odd to not see Spring Training or opening day at Fenway with out #6 around. It will be interesting to see what the PR machine of the Sox have in store to honor Pesky when they return home. More on my favorite Johnny Paveskovich story later in the cooler.
2. During our impromptu chat, which is not posted on the site, last Thursday in Cleveland all of us at RSM wrote the Sox 2012 season off. However, I read today that the Orioles hold the 2nd wild card spot only 5.5 games ahead of the Sox. With the Sox rolling into Baltimore for 3 games, it is not out of the realm of possibility that with a sweep the Sox could still be in the wild card race heading into the weekend. Deacon Art near the All-Star break wrote about the difficult Sox schedule in the 2nd half, is it possible that schedule could help the Sox make the post-season? Currently Tampa and Baltimore are tied for the two wild card spots, Oakland is 0.5 games back, Detroit is 1.5 back, and the Angels are 2.5 back. The Sox play the Orioles 9 more times, the Devil Rays 6 more times, the Angels 6 times, and the A's 3 more times. Throw in 9 more with the Fighting Steinbrenners, 4 with the Royals, 3 in Seattle, and 6 more with Canada's team to complete the Sox schedule. Given the amount of games left with teams in front of them in the standings, I would like to retract my writing off of the Sox at least for the time being.
3. Andrew Bailey will make his return to the Red Sox tonight after pitching very effectively in Pawtucket. His return should help immensely an overworked and struggling bullpen. With September 1st quickly closing in the bullpen should also get some helpful arms with the return of Daniel Bard and perhaps Mark Prior, who has struggled of late, and Alex Wilson, among others. This boost to the bullpen could help the Sox make the push we have all been waiting and hoping for.
4. Just when it looked like the Sox were getting the best of the injury bug that has plagued this team the last 2 seasons, in an image reminiscent of Nomar in 2001, Willie Middle gets hit on the wrist and has his season ended pre-maturely. Throw in the complications that David Ortiz is having recovering from his heel injury and the Sox are back to the piecemeal line-ups they threw out in mid to late May, coincidentally when they perhaps played their best baseball. Let's hoping Ciriaco, Valencia, Podsednik, and Company can replicate that stretch. Of course the pitching was the key to that run, just as it will be for the remainder of the season.
5. Former GM and current Orioles GM Dan Duquette visited with Dennis & Callahan this morning to discuss the removal of Johnny Pesky from the dugout in 1997, which the Duke put on manager Jimy Williams, although Duquette himself moved Pesky into other duties. However, this was apparently another of Williams' "managers decision." Duquette to his credit did state that the situation could have been handled better. The Duke also said the difference between the Orioles success and the Sox struggles has been pitching. Thanks for that newsflash! The Sox are currently 26th in starters ERA, while the Orioles have a negative run differential they would make the post-season if it started today thanks to a solid bullpen, whom the Duke called the strength of the team. Let's hope the Sox pound the O's starters the next 3 nights to avoid said bullpen, and continue to build on the starts of Buchholz and Lester in Cleveland.
6. The highlight of Monday for me was this outstanding piece on Boston.com titled "VitaCoco presents: $#*! Dustin Pedroia says." The highlight for me was Cody Ross, he was extremely funny, just another reason the Sox need to bring the King of the Bat Flip back next year. See for yourself.

- After skipping last week, let's get back to more stories of my adventures to Fenway. This week takes us back to July of 2002. Myself and Barry traveled to Boston with my parents to take in the sites and the Sox vs. the Devil Rays. Most of you remember that in July of 2002 the most Sox of all, Teddy Ballgame passed away. The Sox PR machine didn't disappoint in their production to honor ole #9. We were fortunate that this tribute took place during our visit to Boston. During the off day Monday July 22nd the Sox opened Friendly Fenway to the masses to pay homage to Ted Williams. In the afternoon, fans got to enter Fenway through the garage door in CF and walk around the the warning track. We got the opportunity to look inside the scoreboard in LF, go into the visitors dugout, which has a bathroom at the end near the camera well, and into the RF seats near Pesky's Pole. Barry and I were photographed standing near the pole by a photographer from a local Massachusetts newspaper, I'm sure given our ugly mugs that one wound up on the cutting room floor. During the evening the Sox did their tribute extravaganza for Ted, which we also attended. You can actually watch this tribute as NESN televised it and later made a DVD of, if you can find a copy. The tribute was outstanding from our seats in the RF Boxes. Images of Ted Williams on the scoreboard in CF, hanging from and in the Monster, which was in it's final season without the Monster Seats. However, the best part of the tribute was when Sox past and present took their positions on the diamond in uniform to honor the Splendid Splinter. The 100 Anniversary of Fenway festivities were eerily reminiscent, however in 2002 the players came out of the Sox dugout. This is where my favorite Johnny Pesky memory comes from, as players took the field it was a who's who of Sox lore, but seeing Pesky in uniform sprinting to his SS position at age 82 with Barry laughing and repeatedly hitting me saying "Look at Johnny Pesky!" was the highlight of the night. The next night we returned to Fenway for the game vs. the Devil Rays, still officially named that then. This was the second game of a day-night doubleheader, which I didn't remember until I looked it up on Baseball Reference. The Sox took the day game 22-4 roughing up Tanyon Sturtze. In between games, rain fell in Boston causing the night cap to start late. This paid dividends for Barry and I as we were able to more a few rows behind home plate near the end of the game as fans left early to catch the T. Unfortunately the Sox wasted a solid D-Lowe performance as Ugueth Urbina gave up a 2 run double to Andy Sheets and a 3 run bomb in the 9th to Jared Sandberg in the 9th after Chris Haney loaded the bases to start the 9th. Jesus, the Devil Rays line-up was awful in 2002 and the Sox bullpen was too! A couple of highlights, we got to see Rickey Henderson in the Sox line-up, my boy Shea Hillenbrand had 2 hits, and we had fun shouting Dirty every time Rey Sanchez did something good for the Sox. Hey, we were in our 20's and imbibing as Barry pointed out in a chat this was our only trip to Fenway together after turning 21. After the game, Barry and I ventured to the Boston Beer Works where we say the most memorable note of the night, the passing of Ned Martin whom was present at the Ted Williams Tribute the night before. We were shocked at this news, however after a few more adult beverages we did what any reasonable 20 something Sox fan would do...we jokingly blamed ourselves for Ned Martin's death! Needless to say this was by far my most memorable trip to Fenway.

Until we re-fill the cooler next week!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Double Fisting in the Red Sox Clubhouse

Here's the weekend update from the Red Sox clubhouse...

Beer is allowed after road games. So I'm not going to get into the John Lackey double fisting ordeal too much but here are my two cents.  He and his situation are example #1 of why injured players should rehab away from the team.  No good can come from being around the team too much when you can't contribute.  Two, this isn't high school, if the players don't cry after every loss that doesn't mean that they don't care.  So, to those people who equated Lackey drinking beer after the game to him not caring about the game that they just lost, you need to grow up and realize that you are covering professional athletes and grown men not teenagers. Enough of that on to the update...

We'll start with the bad news.  According to multiple reports Will Middlebrooks broke his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch in the 9th inning last night.  The Red Sox will likely call up recently acquired Danny Valencia to take his place.  If true than he will be out for the rest of the season.  Middlebrooks was having an outstanding rookie season and was one of the few bright spots during an otherwise miserable year for the Boston Red Sox.  As a fan of the team I feel upset because we've been robbed of watching another month and a half of one of our key building blocks of the future.  Ben Cherington must be feeling snake bit in his first year as GM of the Sox as it seems that every time something good happens, like a winning streak for the team or a hot streak for a player, it comes crashing down.  Hopefully Will can come back strong for the start of next year and be a key piece for this franchise for years to come, he certainly has the potential.

Felix Doubront who has struggled lately will be skipped this time through the rotation.  According to manager Bobby Valentine he also may be a candidate for the DL.  Prince Felix has been our most consistent starter so far this year, but he is starting to wear down.  After pitching about 87 innings last year for Pawtucket, while battling injuries, he is now over 120 innings for the season and it's starting to show.  Doubront has proven that he is a big league starting pitcher and will be a key part of the starting rotation in 2013 and beyond.

The waiver trade period has begun and so far I've seen reports that Mike Aviles, Nick Punto, Carl Crawford and Kelly Shoppach have been put on waivers with Punto and Crawford already passing through.  I'd be willing to bet that by the time the month is over nearly the whole roster will have been put on waivers.  Is it too late for Ben to be bold?

When will the Red Sox start to play for the future? I wish they would just start now and get it over with.  They need to stop kidding themselves by thinking that they are going to make a run and get into the playoffs. Although I believe that they could call up Iglesias and start playing Lavarnway everyday and it would be an upgrade over what they have now.  Ryan Kalish has certainly shown that he needs to play everyday at Pawtucket for a while before he is ready.  If Ellsbury is going to be traded during the offseason I think it's too early to count on Kalish to be the everyday CF or RF.  With Middlebrooks being hurt there are already reports that the Sox will call up Danny Valencia.  Which would be another lost opportunity to call up Iglesias and let him play everyday with Mike Aviles playing 3B.

The Red Sox continue their series with the Indians today in Cleveland.  Check back here for updates and leave your comments below.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It is Beyond Time for Bobby Valentine to GO

What began as murmurings as far back as April has become a full fledged tidal wave of debate and speculation in Red Sox Nation.  Should Bobby Valentine be fired?  And the answer is a resounding YES.

As this is being written, the Red Sox have fifty games to go, after another discouraging loss today.  They sit at 55-57.  The season has been a continual parade of a bad stretch of games followed by just enough of good games to get the hopes up.  Then another losing streak follows.  They have been the definition of a mediocre ball club all year.

To get to 90 wins and to have any wild card hopes, the Sox need to go 35-15 ( .700 winning percentage) from now on.  Does anyone have the remotest hope that this team can go 35-15 under Valentine?  No, there is no evidence of this happening.  Is there any chance the Red Sox could catch fire under an interim manager ( Bogar, Arnie Beyler, anyone) and play .700.  Do not bet the house on it, but this would not be the first pro sports team to catch lightning in a bottle after a managerial/coaching change.  Maybe a change would not improve the Sox, but it sure as hell will not make them any worse.

And for those of you who say the players own responsibility for all of this mess, not Valentine, ( and more on that in a moment) this would constitute a final 50 game trial for all the players.   If the club does not light up the sky under the new guy all the more reason for Ben Cherington to unload any and all of the players this winter that he can.

Peter Abraham of the Globe posted a spirited defense of Valentine just days ago.  The first half of his piece seems to blame the current and previous front office members for most of the mess.  This may very well ring true be is completely irrelevant of the case against Valentine.  Pete Abe also states Valentine gets high marks for building a bullpen on the fly and his handling of this bullpen. Personally I think Valentine's use of the pen has been weak especially in two areas: always having guys warm up 2, 3, or even 4 times in a game and in his penchant for using 4 guys in the sixth inning and not having any one left for match ups in the 8th or 9th.  Plus he has worn guys like Padilla and very likely Aceves out.

Abraham also credits Valentine for getting most out of all the scrubs he has used due to injury.  If he gets credit for their success, why is it the star players get complete blame for their disappointing seasons, not Valentine.  You cannot have it both ways.

But the "in game" skills of Valentine are not the reason he should go.  First to the rationale that this is entirely on the players.  Again to quote Peter Abraham's piece " they need to significantly change their roster not the manager."  The point so many are missing here is it is not an either /or proposition.  Yes, the players take a big share of the blame, that has nothing to do with the fact that Bobby Valentine has failed in every way as manager of your Boston Red Sox.  He has not communicated  or led this team.  He also has not come as advertised.  He was supposedly a glib, hard ass, take no prisoners manager when it came to his players, the media, or anyone else.  He is NONE of that.  He can barely speak coherently enough to get a point across.  He has not really taken any player to the woodshed publicly all year ( unless you count the half hearted swipe at Youkilis early in the season).  If he was truly some brash," I am in charge here" guy don't you think he could have found a few targets so far this miserable season.

As Lou Merloni, a survivor of the 2001 Joe Kerrigan Red Sox said on the Comcast Baseball Show, this team's issues have only smoldered near the surface because everyone in the clubhouse has still believed they can win it all.  But, Lou asked, what happens when they reach the point where they know it is over?  How bad will it get?  And I add, how would a complete meltdwown help the 2013 Boston red Sox

One possible response to this year's debacle is to go young in 2013 trading some vets for more kids and have then join Middlebrooks, Doubront, Kalish, Lavarnway, etc. if this comes to past does anyone want Bobby to be the guy to lead these kids and rebuild the Red Sox?  Does any one believe that Valentine lasts beyond the end of his contract which expires at the end of 2013?  Then why wait another day.  Start rebuilding this franchise by admitting their (Lucchino's) mistake and fire him now.

I may not have stated my case sufficiently but I know something is horribly wrong with this team and I know Bobby Valentine is not the manager for this team.  In an attempt to sum up I refer you to 1960's Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.  In 1964 while hearing an obscenity case, said I shall not define it ( hard core pornography), BUT I KNOW IT WHEN I SEE IT.

Bobby Valentine has failed as Red Sox manager... I know when I see it.

Cousin Jason's Cooler Week of August 6th

Welcome to our third edition of the Cooler. Let's see what is good and cold this week:

Random Shooters
- With the Sox mired in their season long malaise, it has been a little easier to switch over to NBC to checkout the Olympics. I was mesmerized with the teamwork and skill demonstrated by Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings on Sunday night. It is easy to see why they are the best ever to play beach volleyball. A thought did occur to me as I was watching their quarterfinal match, how do countries pick their beach volleyball teams? Do they just make a call for any pairs that want to play some volleyball on the beach to show up and play, taking the best teams? Do these teams partake from their own coolers in between matches? If this is not the system, maybe it should be that would make for great television.
- Another Olympic related shot, how impressive of an athletic specimen is American 100 meter dash champion Carmelita Jeter?

Sox Pack
1. Looks like the Sox medical staff might be accurate in their claims that Carl Crawford doesn't need surgery on his elbow, as CC has been on a tear. Let's hope it continues and he helps the Sox make a playoff push. If he doesn't then neither will the Sox as he is a keep piece to their success, as Rob Bradford wrote on WEEI.com on Monday.

2. In the words of Sonny and Cher, "the beat goes on" concerning no only the Sox but the saga of the manager. On Monday there were several articles written clamoring for Bobby V's head, led by John Tomase of the Herald. My first thought was isn't Tomase a Patriots beat writer, what the hell is he doing weighing in on the Sox shouldn't he be at training camp. My second thought was not a bad read with some valid points. Later on Monday, Pete Abe wrote an opposing viewpoint story on Extra Bases, which also was a good read with valid points. In the end the owners of the Liverpool FC showed up in Boston, they own the Red Sox too apparently, who knew?, to give the dreaded "vote of confidence" to the manager. GM Ben Cherington even got behind Bobby V, well as much as he did in the off-season. So the saga continues, one quick note how the hell did Bobby not get run in the 9th last night defending Pedroia. Paul Nauert, the 1st Base Ump last night knew he F'd up and gave Pedey a long leash then ran him for a snide comment on the Murphy walk. There was no way he was going to run Bobby knowing that is what he want, dink! Watch out today though as Nauert has the plate, Bobby might get run exchanging line-up cards.

3. Also the same old, same old with Josh Beckett. He makes it through the deadline, pitches great one time through the Tigers line-up and should have been out of the inning unscathed had the infield grass not been soaked last Tuesday night, remember I was there. Instead his back tightens up and he implodes before leaving to boos, because Sox fans have had enough of Beckett. Pete Abe continues to rail on Beckett for refusing to talk to the media after games, Beckett goes on Boston radio station WAAF yesterday morning to promote his philanthropic endeavor Beckett Bowl and answer a few questions. Here is the transcript. Prior to Beckett's start today, David Ortiz speaks out supporting his boy, Beckett. Should be an interesting day in the Fens, if Beckett lays an egg against the Rangers, it could get real ugly. Stay tuned.

4. Alex Speier with an interesting Tweet and corresponding article on WEEI.com in regards to the Baseball America Tools Survey ranking the top tools in each level of minor league baseball. That Jackie Bradley won nearly every category in the Carolina League, of which he is no longer part of, is not interesting but rather that Ryan Lavarnway was voted the Best DEFENSIVE Catcher in the International League. The skill that most feel is Lavarnway's weakness is voted the best by a reputable baseball publication, either Lavarnway is much improved defensively or the IL is filled with horrendous backstops.

5. Speaking of Lavarnway, Nick Cafardo tweeted last night about his dislike of the Sox currently carrying 3 catchers. While most of us Maineiacs feels that the work of Cafardo leaves a bad taste in our mouths, he may have a point. Especially with the news today that the "Nicaraguan Nightmare" Vincente Padilla was put on the 15 day DL to recall Clayton Mortensen, who is racking up the frequent flyer miles between Boston and Pawtucket. The move was necessitated by the unavailability of Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa this afternoon leaving Aceves, Melancon (who stayed in the game much too long last night), and Miller as the only options to follow a guy coming off a back spasm issue. The Sox either need to send Lavarnway back down or ship Shoppach out of town, enough of this playing short-handed crap. Especially given Brian Mac's article in the ProJo quoting Bobby V as stating "pennants are won in the bullpen." Although in recent articles since the trade deadline it sounds like some of the Sox brass might be souring on Jarrod Saltalamacchia, as I read a couple of rumors that they explored trading him or Shoppach.

6. A couple of positive notes, Adrian Gonzalez continues to be red hot and according to Gordon Edes via Twitter this morning David Ortiz was running the bases hard.

- Beat Writer Tweet of the Week goes to Pete Abe for last nights "Pedroia just said his favorite cartoon character was Buck Rogers. I might be wrong." In regards to Pedey's 8th inning tirade. Followed closely by Pete Abe's response to a tweet asking whether Middleborooks was in contention for the Rookie of the Year, "Google "Mike Trout" and get back to me." Pete Abe becoming the King of Social Media

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Recap of Cousin Jason's trip to Fenway (and the Sox Clubhouse)

Trip Recap

Cole's first trip to Fenway proved to be a success, partially. The Sox got the win, albeit rain shortened, and thanks to the rain Cole saw the whole thing. He was a real trooper staying up way past his bedtime, finally calling it a day at 11:30. As far as the game goes the Sox got to Verlander early via running up his pitch count and late via a 4 run 4th, thanks to some control issues and some luck on Carl Crawford's grounder through Omar Infante's wickets. Josh Beckett looked outstanding until Infante's infield single seemed to rattle him. Infante's hit could solely be attributed to the wet infield grass. Beckett would later leave with back spasms, and to boo's from the Fenway crowd. Which seemed laughable to me since at first pitch it appeared that Fenway was only 2/3's full. Also from the chatter around me, many pink hats in the house. Special shout out to the 2 ladies sitting in front of me that kept standing up blocking my view of the plate to wave to apparently people below us to the right. The highlights of the night for me were mostly off the field related, I loved the Narragansett in the can, that the Sox opened the rain delay by playing "Umbrella" by Rhianna, and the showing of the Olympics on the Jumbotron to chants of "USA, USA, USA!" All in all a good trip to Fenway, until we meet again in September you old ballpark!

The Sox Clubhouse

On the trek to and from Boston, I was able to catch Mut and Merloni on WEEI. Mut was very high on the Sox trading for Justin Masterson while Lou mentioned that he would be surprised to see Beckett make it through the rest of the season without going on the DL. Nice foreshadowing by Sweet Lou, although he predicted a shoulder issue rather than the back, based solely on Beckett's lack of velocity this season.

However, the topic I really want to discuss was brought up on the drive home. That issue is the Red Sox clubhouse and chemistry. Joel Sherman of the NY Post wrote an article on July 31st about the players pleading for Bobby Valentine to be fired. This came 2 months after M&M guest Buster Olney wrote about the same issues. This was discussed at length by Mut, Lou, and Buster. Olney stated that it is not hard to see or hear about the issues, claiming that they are "being shouted from mountaintops." He also mentioned that come the Sox falling out of contention or the off season these issues will be dealt with one way or the other. We also have the managers returning salvo from his weekly appearance on "The Big Show":

What are your thoughts on Buster Olney's comment to WEEI saying that there is a lot of discontent in the Boston Red Sox locker room towards the manager?
"He's also discontent that I wouldn't go on the show with him when he does Sunday Night Baseball and he's crying a little here because I wouldn't let him interview me in the fourth inning. So, we have to understand the source here. I understand Buster. He's really a hard-working guy. He's so hard-working he's always on these talk shows that he has to make sure he's gathering information for you guys. Who gives a darn what he says about that situation? Why don't we hear about Kirk Gibson and how many of the players don't like him or about Jim Leyland and who's upset with Jim Leyland's pitching moves? This is absolutely ridiculous, but I think it's good drama so let's keep the ball rolling and maybe it will get Buster more air time. That gets him more tweets and that's how he gets paid" (deadspin.com).
So will all of this rumbling, here is my take on this. Could it possibly be that the issues in the clubhouse are not any greater than those of any other MLB clubhouse, but rather are magnified because of the seemingly thousand reporters that cover the Sox on a day to day basis? Probably not, but what if the Boston media and fans are this teams own worst enemies? How many articles have been written about off the field items about this team since this past offseason? We have the Globe exposé of the chicken, beer, and video games shenanigans, the Globe article slandering Tito Francona as a pill popper, the whole managerial experience from last fall and winter, Josh Beckett's golf outing, Bobby V's comments and continuing feud with Kevin Youkilis, the aforementioned articles on chemistry by Olney and Sherman, Clay Buchholz charity excursion to the casino with esophagitis, Tito's clubhouse visit in New York, even Orel Hershiser's decision to go after the Sox dugout for having some laughs on Sunday night. No wonder this team looks like they are not having as much fun as the idiots of 2004. How would you carry yourself if every move you made was being scrutinized by a hoard of reporters who stumble over each other to get the scoop out first, just follow them on Twitter some game night it is ridiculous the number of redundant tweets.

I also have heard it is a matter of trust, that the Sox lost they're fans trust because of all of these issues. Are these the same fans whom have turned into the LA Dodgers fans, arriving late and leaving early? Seriously look at how many empty seats there are in Fenway at first pitch, even the first pitch of the 2nd inning. I'm calling bullshit on all of it. We love(d) these guys because they were like us, right down to eating chicken, drinking beer and playing video games.

Do I believe that the Sox have issues within the clubhouse? Certainly, communication being a big one, between the front office and coaches, coaches amongst themselves, coaches and players. But what team doesn't have issues? Do I believe that these same issues would be as big a deal if this were the Seattle Mariners? Well no, but also the Mariners suck! Do I believe that is team has as healthy a chemistry as say 2003, 2004, or 2007? No but those teams were once in a lifetime groups that we just happened to get in a 5 year span. Do I believe that the Sox media and fans hurt the Sox chemistry? Not necessarily but what if we show some love, worry only about the on the field stuff, and start throwing around Manny hugs for the next 2 months? This team has the talent needed to win, but it's got to damn near impossible to go out and play a game when every minor issue is going to be front page news the next day and possibly for the next 11 months. Let's let it go Red Sox Nation and become the Royal Rooters once again.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

RSM Red Sox Top 12 Prospects-August Edition

As August 1st has rolled around this will be our last in season ranking for the top 12 prospects in the Red Sox system.  The minor league regular seasons end on Labor Day weekend, so our next report will be a post season ranking of the future Sox stars.

The August list has 11 of the same 12 names from July but with some shuffling of the list. Numbers 2 & 3, as well as 4& 5 have flip flopped.  Also four of the younger prospects on the list have moved up 2 or 3 spots each.  Here is the list as of the start of August. The offense stat lines used are HR/RBI/BA/OBP/SA for hitters and W-L/ERA/ K to BB ratio for the pitchers.  The number in brackets after the names are July's ranking.

1. Xander Bogaerts  {1} With only the slightest hiccup in July, Bogaerts has solidified his #1 ranking. Xander, who participated in the Futures Game in Kansas City,  hit 3/12/.259/.337/.432 in July to bring his yearly stats to 15/59/.283/.360/.479.  As a nineteen year old shortstop he has put up these impressive numbers, especially the 15 dingers and .360 OBP. There is still debate among scouts if he can remain at short as he continues to fill out.  But you can bet in 2 or 3 years Xander will be at SS, 3B, or the outfield at Fenway.

2. Jackie Bradley, Jr. {3}  Bradley suffered through his first down spell for the season in early to mid July at Portland, but he turned it back on recently.  In July he hit 4/15/.274/.356/.479.  For the year his combined A/AA stats still show an incredible OBP of .441. With a bit of a recent Portland power surge, Bradley is at 7 homers for the year, to go with 23 stolen bags.  And of course, despite all of the wonderful offensive numbers, it is his wizardry in center field that really has his managers
 and scouts buzzing.  He has been called the best "instinctual" outfielder many have ever seen.  Jackie Jr. should see action at Fenway some time during 2013.

3. Matt Barnes {2}  Barnes' slip down one spot really has more to do with Bradley continued hot season, more than any regression by Barnes.  That being said, Barnes has had the least successful month of his pro career.  Of course, if Matt pitched every month like he started 2012, he may have bypassed the big leagues to go straight to the Hall of Fame.  His July numbers were 0-3/4.98/24 to 5.
These lesser numbers are probably attributed to getting deeper into his first full pro season, and after going 7-1 the first 3 months the record was bound to even out.  Still his K/BB ratio for the year is 122/20.  With the July numbers it seems that Barnes will not pitch at Hadlock Field until 2013.

4. Ryan Lavarnway {5}  The power hitting catcher was recalled to Boston on August 1st, as the Sox continue to corner the market on Yalies ( hello, Craig Breslow).  Expected to come up after a deadline deal of Kelly Shoppach, the deal did not happen (yet), but Ryan joins the Sox as Daniel Nava was DL'd.  Lavarnway has worked hard all year at AAA on his catching defense, which is considered his question mark.  His bat is thought to be big league ready.  However, his numbers at Pawtucket are no where near his combined AA/AA/MLB power stats of 2011.  For the year at AAA he is hitting 8/43/.295/.376/.439.  For the month of July his numbers actually sagged with only 1 HR while hitting .233 with a OBP of .290. He moves up one spot from last month because of his nearness to being big league ready.  Let's see if his recall is a real shot to shine, or is just roster filler for now.

5. Bryce Brentz {4}  The Sea Dogs right fielder with the right handed power bat has had an up and down season at Portland. His overall stats are pretty good at 13/52/.272/.337/.444. But July was a downer overall hitting 3 homers but batting only .200 with a 250 OBP.  Brentz has not completely mastered hitting the breaking ball and still does not command the strike zone in his at bats.  The expected late season promotion to Pawtucket ( a la Middlebrooks 2011) may not happen, but Bryce should be the opening day RF in Pawtucket in 2013.

6. Blake Swihart {8} The 20 year old catcher continues his season long climb up the RSM rankings. The 2011 first rounder moves up the list largely due to two factors.  First his long term projection of being a first class big league hitter, and it should be long term.  He should spend another 3 or 4 years in the system.  Unless the Red Sox move him out from behind the plate to expedite his path to Boston. The other reason for his ascension up our rankings is the strong offensive season he is putting up in the South Atlantic League, which is a level or two above someone his age often is at.  His line for the year is 6/41/.255/.298/.395.  Not outstanding numbers but solid, and 3 of 6 home runs have come in July as Blake continues to improve.

7. Garin Cecchini {9} In his second pro season, Cecchini continues to meet his high school rep, as perhaps the best pure hitter in the 2010 draft.  An injury in his senior year of high school dropped his draft stock and the Sox gladly scooped him up in the fourth round. For the year the third baseman at Greenville has hit 4/54/.302/.383/.428.  He has also been very consistent, with his July averages mirroring his yearly totals almost exactly.  With another year or two of these kind of numbers as he graduates to Salem and Portland,  Garin may insert himself into the debate as to whether Will Middlebrooks is the Sox third sacker for the next decade.

8. Jose Iglesias {6} It continues to be the same song second chorus for Iglesias.  Can he hit enough to bring his superstar glove to the big leagues?  From his numbers at Pawtucket this year, the answers range from " Don't Know" to " No".  One thing still in his favor Jose is younger than we all think.  He does not turn 23 until January, so even another entire season at AAA means he could be a 24 y/o starting shortstop in 2014.  But I think you can hear the clock ticking on Iglesias.

9. Brandon Jacobs {12} Brandon is into his second month of returning to the RSM Top 12, and with an exceptional July he nearly pushed up another spot or two. In July Jacobs hit 4/18/.284/.348/.461  Besides Bogaerts and maybe Brentz,  Jacobs is the top power hitting prospect in the system.  He also can run some with 14 stolen bases on the season to go with his 10 home runs and 51 RBI.

10. Henry Owens {13} The tall 6'6" lefty drafted last year from a southern California high school has continued to pile impressive numbers at an advanced level for the youngster.  His seasonal line is 10-4/4.50/ 110 to 37.( and he won number 11 on August 1st).  Some scouts and minor league watchers go so far as to suggest Owens may be the number 1 prospect the Red Sox have, due to his age, left handedness, and the numbers he is compilng.

11.Brandon Workman {11} The Longhorn is continuing to impress at Salem.  His line for the year is 7-6/3.28/94 to 19.  His July numbers included 2 more wins and a 32 to 4 K/BB ratio.  Many observers have been expecting his recall to Portland for weeks, but with deadline addition of knuckle baller Steven Wright to the Dogs rotation, Workman may continue to toil at Salem.

12. Anthony Ranaudo {7}  All you can say for Ranaudo is that 2012 has become a lost season,  between injuries coming out of camp and some arm fatigue in July ( when he has pitched just 3 innings).  Add to fact that when he has pitched ( only 9 games and 37 innings ) he has not pitched well.
It is way to soon to write off such a hyped prospect, but at the least Anthony will likely return to Portland in 2013 to begin the year, short of a unexpected remarkable August.

The second bakers dozen

Deven Marrero ( who by the way has 2 cousins in pro ball, not brothers as I said last month)
Junichi Tazawa
Alex Wilson
Travis Shaw  ( promoted to Portland on Aug. 1st, after a line of 16/73/.307/.413/.548 at Salem)
Sean Coyle
Drake Britton
Stolmy Pimental
Christian Vazquez
Ty Buttrey ( made his pro debut on August 1st.)
Chris Henandez ( recently promoted to AAA from Portland)
Alex Hassan
Jeremy Hazelbaker
Michael Almanzar

And finally our David Chester update ( if anyone out there does not get this ask any of the Maineiacs).
The huge Lowell Spinner first baseman has hit 6 home runs to lead the team along with 18 RBI.  Chester is hitting .232 with an OBP of .314 while slugging at ..432.

We will do this again in early September after the seasons end.