Friday, August 2, 2013

The Return of Cousin Jason's Cooler

As you may remember, from the end of July through September last year, I posted weekly pieces on the Sox and other random items titled Cousin Jason's Cooler. It is time to dust the cooler off for 2013!

In preparation for writing this masterpiece, I went back and read each of last year's coolers. It was nice to look back at last years Sox sucktitude especially given the way this years Boston team has been playing. I also noticed a theme, the first cooler ran near the end of July in an effort to spur the Sox and the Maineiacs website to bigger things. Similarly, the first cooler of 2013 shows up at the start of August to help Deacon Art post new content on the RSM.  Apparently, the Maineiacs become very busy once school gets out in the middle of June. Anyways, after that lengthy lead-in lets reach into the cooler and see what is good and cold this week:

Sox Pack
1. What a difference a year makes? Last year the Sox were schlepping along around .500 when August rolled around. This season as you all are well aware of it is #walkoffcity! (Credit to Tom Caron at NESN for the hashtag, #waytogoTC) In a magical season, the last two nights have been perhaps the most magical.  First, in the Wednesday PM/Thursday AM 15 inning marathon little brother Stephen Drew channeled his inner JD and delivered the Sox their 9th walk-off win of the season. Then on Thursday night the Sox, after getting shut down by Felix Hernandez for 7 innings, rallied in the 9th for 6 runs to win on Daniel Nava's base hit with an assist from interim Mariners manager Robby Thompson's pitching change gaffe. The 2013 Sox are going places! As a nice addition, while looking for the JD clip on YouTube I found this gem. I guess Stephen has been to #walkoffcity before, jump to the 1:45 mark to see the heroics.
2. While the Sox season has indeed been magical and the Sox look playoff bound, one thing that has this Sox fan somewhat concerned is the amount of work given the Sox relievers, especially Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara. We discussed this briefly during our Trade Deadline Chat on Wednesday night. Of course right on cue, Uehara went 2 innings on 19 pitches, 16 of them for strikes. However, Tazawa gave up the game tying HR in the 8th. The high workload of Tazawa is especially concerning as he is starting to show signs of wearing down. In fact, Junichi has given up more HRs this season than the last 3 combined. Of course, he has also thrown more innings this season than the last 2 combined. Perhaps I am just hyper-sensitive to Tazawa as he is a member of both of my fantasy teams. In fact looking at his monthly breakdown on Baseball Reference, the number of runs, walks, and HRs allowed have been about the same each month but, if the Sox hope to go deep into the playoffs longer outings by the starters and some quality relief innings from pitchers not born in Japan would be helpful. Perhaps the arrival of Jake Peavy moving Brandon Workman to the bullpen will help alleviate some of the work on the Sox Japanese tandem. Speaking of Workman...
3. Impressive work has been turned in by the Sox young pitchers of late, especially two guys that started the year in the Portland Sea Dogs rotation. The aforementioned Workman got his 1st win on Tuesday night and turned in his third straight quality start with fellow Texas Longhorn Roger Clemens in the house to celebrate the 25 anniversary of "Morgan's Magic," more on that later. The fact that Workman has pitched so well in his three starts has some of the Maineiacs, myself included, thinking that Workman should stay in the rotation with Ryan Dempster moving to the bullpen. While, moving Workman is probably the right move given his inexperience and Dempster's history as an innings eater, it is interesting to note that from 2004-2007 working as a reliever for the Cubs, Dumpster Fire saved 87 games. Anyone else remember that Ryan Dempster broke into the bigs with the Florida Marlins? Me neither. Wait a tick, he even did time with the Sea Dogs in 1998, check it out. The other former Sea Dog that has the Maineiacs impressed right now is lefty reliever Drake Britton. #66 has been impressive out of the pen with 6 scoreless appearances to begin his big league career. Manager John Farrell has also been impressed with Britton's poise and competitiveness. Now that Britton and Workman, who started games 1 and 2 for the Sea Dogs in April, are back together in the bullpen let's hope that their early success continues.
4. Another concern for this magical season has been the Sox inability to hit quality pitching such as the Devil Rays Matt Moore and David Price along with the Mariners Felix Hernandez. While over the course of the long season there are going to be nights that the Sox do not hit, it is alarming what top pitchers, especially Price, have done to the Sox bats in the past couple of weeks. This could be the achilles heel come October, especially if the Sox and Devil Rays meet. This is something to watch over the final 2 months.
5. With the trade of Jose Iglesias for Jake Peavy (Ben Cherington, well done sir) the Sox 3B situation is influx. Will Middlebrooks whom looked to be on his way to holding down the position for a long time last season started the season on the hot corner. However, Willie Middle struggled to a sub-Mendozan .192 and has found himself in the role of Anne Hutchinson, you know banished to Rhode Island. Iglesias did a fine job for the majority of his time at 3B but showed his true colors by not being able to hit his weight over the last month in a Sox uniform. Leaving Brandon Snyder and now Brock Holt, whose swing I think looks eerily similar to Wade Boggs maybe it is just the #26, to man third. However, waiting in the wings are both Middlebrooks, whom seems to be upset that he is still on the farm, and the Sox top prospect SS Xander Bogaerts, whom has been playing increasingly more games at third for the PawSox. So the question, in fact it is currently the RSM poll question, is who will be the Sox 3B down the stretch? Do the Sox try to piece it together with Snyder and Holt, do they recall Middlebrooks, or do they hope for a Manny Machado-esque debut for Bogaerts? The other option is to perhaps make a waiver deal for a 3B, however the candidates are limited and do not offer the upside of Bogaerts or even Middlebrooks. The other Maineiacs are in the #FreeXander camp, while I believe that the Sox should bring back Middlebrooks to at least see if he can be what he was last year. Lou Merloni tweeted on Wednesday night that he believes the Sox will bring up Bogaerts on their upcoming road trip, so this conundrum may have closure early next week, stay tuned.
6. In the time that Cousin Jason has been away from the RSM site, I have managed to knock some books off my reading list. First, I finished the ESPN saga Those Guys Have All the Fun, which I began shortly after its release in 2012. Once we finally got that out of the way, I dove into the Francona: The Red Sox Years. It did not take me nearly as long to read this one, in fact I knocked it out in about three days. In a word the book was outstanding. I highly recommend it to any Sox fan, especially those that did not want Tito to leave at the end of 2011. Currently, I am nearing completion of David Halberstam's Summer of '49. This has also been an outstanding read giving a great look into Steve Buckley's favorite, old time baseball. Next on the list, perhaps I'll finally get around to Death to the BCS in time for football season.

Random Shooters
- Interesting Tweet of the Night: at 10:35 on Friday night, Jon Lester tweeted out his Temple Run score, which would have been during the bottom of the 9th. No word on whether chicken and beer was involved.
- Tuesday night the PR machine had a reunion to celebrate Joe Morgan and the 1988 Red Sox that won his first 12 games as a manager and 19 straight at Fenway on their way to the AL East pennant, in the aforementioned "Morgan's Magic." Hard to believe it has been 25 years since Jody Reed, Todd Benzinger, and company played so hot for my 11th summer on earth. Oh yeah, Roger Clemens was also on that team. The Rocket joined Joe and Dave on the WEEI broadcast on Tuesday to reminisce the '88 team and talk about other things. While Clemens may have helped Dustin Pedroia get going by urging Pedey's HR to get up on air, to me he still sounds like an arrogant SOB.
- Let's hope Jake Peavy will be lights out tomorrow in his Sox debut, got to think his experience in the NL West will allow him to overmatch the Diamondbacks. Hopefully, Peavy will be more Mike Boddicker and less Erik Bedard.
- With the addition of Peavy and if Clay Buchholz ever pitches again, the Sox should have a very nice rotation going forward. Although the stinker's of Lester and Dempster the last two nights don't bode well.
- We have a lot of fun during our live chats, our last being Wednesday night. A usual suspect missing from the chat was J-Rod, where is Mr. Richmond?
- The Cousin Jason clan spent some family movie time watching Disney's Robin Hood from 1973 tonight. This 40 year old film is a classic and anytime you get to hear Roger Miller it is going to be a good time. It did get me thinking however, with all of the baseball father/son combos in its history, why are there not more father/son/daughter combos in music history? Weird, anyways enjoy the musical styling's of "The King of the Road."

Chaser
- Let's take another trip to Fenway from Cousin Jason's past. August 6, 2003 Cousin Jason journeyed to Fenway with a few of his Pittsfield peeps. This trip was memorable for several reasons, one of the peeps 12 year old son was making his first trip to Fenway and we got lost, in both directions, thanks to Cousin Jason's internal GPS. This led to the now infamous "Yo, Buddy" being born as the mighty Edbo Miller stopped to ask a cabbie for directions by bellowing "Yo, buddy, you know the way to the T?" Of course Edbo was a high school mate of the Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield and it was his son Nickbo's first game. The fourth member of our party was Earl Anderson, a close friend of Butter's. On the way out of Boston, we got headed towards the Cape, needless to say it was a late night. The game itself was memorable for a couple of reasons, the Sox taking on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County within the boundaries of the Republic of California. The first memory of the game was an at bat by David Ortiz with Manny Ramirez on first. The count was 3 and 2 so Manny was running with the pitch, Papi proceeded to foul off pitch after pitch, with Manny running on each one. Needless to say after about the 5th foul ball Manny walked back to first, noticeably pissed off that he had to keep running, classic. The second memory was the great game-saving catch that Johnny Damon made on a ball in left-center before crashing into the wall. As far as a first game for Nickbo, he got to see Pedro throw a complete game in the 4-2 win despite giving up 10 hits and a HR from Nomah! Good times.

4 comments:

  1. I'm going to reach into the cooler and get myself a cold beverage before I sit down and read Jason's cooler....Give me another minute...

    Ok I'm back.

    Morgan Magic.

    In many ways this 1988 team is underrated in Red Sox history. For people of mine and Jason's generation the 1988 team is like the Impossible Dream of 1967 for the Deacon's generation. It cemented my love of the Boston Red Sox. I was too young to really remember the 1986 team. I have very brief memories of getting woken up out of bed just in time to see the collapse of game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

    I have very clear memories of listening to the games of Morgan's Magic on the radio while camping at Peaks Kenny State Park. Usually lying in bed in the pop up camper with the game playing on an old fm/am dial radio. I very clearly remember listening to Todd Benzinger's game winning grand slam and jumping out of my sleeping bag to celebrate with 2 other maineiacs (the youngest of which was only 4 years old at the time). It often doesn't get the credit it deserves, but the 1988 Morgan's Magic Crew, was just that, magic.

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    1. It's kind of cool to think that this 2013 Red Sox team of underdogs may be cementing new young Red Sox fans throughout New England. #walkofcity

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  2. Nice to have the cooler back as the Sox "Magical" summer continues.

    As far as points 2 & 3 above, I think they re intertwined. The issue of overworking Uehara and Tazawa (#2) and the emerging young pitchers. (#3). I think the answer to helping especially Tazawa in high pressure innings will be the kids. Britton is all ready the best power arm they have for late innings, and apparently the plan going forward is to have Workman out there, too. And yesterday they finally recalled Rubby De La Rosa, they need to find out ASAP if he can help in the pen. And do not forget Stephen Wright.

    One of the lessons of Morgan Magic is how fast a team can rebuild all the way back to contending with some youthful energy, a couple established stars and the right manager. Sound familiar??

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    1. The Sox certainly have plenty of young power arms at their disposal as the Deacon mentioned. Not to mention that Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo could figure in to that mix as well if the need arises. Speaking of young power arms Henry Owens struck out 11 in 6 innings of work the other day in his Sea Dogs debut and didn't give up a run.

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