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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Big Surprise in New Yawk

If you had told me before the game that Santana would be out of the game after 4 IP with leg cramps, I would have told you the Yankees win big. Great job by the Twins pen to keep the Yankees nailed down. The Twins need to send the Yanks defense some flowers as well. There were some horrendous plays in the field. Stewart's catch saved the game. Anyone else notice the Yankee fan reaching over the fence trying to slap Stewart's glove? I'm guessing he was trying to knock the ball out of his glove and become Jeffery Meier II.

This game was big for the Twins, because the pitching matchups favor the Yankees for the next 2 games. Radke has been hot in September, though, so maybe he can keep it up.
Red Sox Rag's AL Cy Young Ballot

5. Mike Mussina (NYY): Mussina put up a typical year for him, 17-8, 3.40 ERA, 214.2 IP, 195 SO, 40 BB, 1.08 WHIP. Mussina eats innings and keeps you in ballgames. Rocket is a legend, but Mussina is the ace of the Yankees.


4. Tim Hudson (OAK): One of these years, the little ace is going to win one of these. He's a total bulldog and the only righthander in the Big Three. 16-7, 2.70 ERA, 240 IP, 162 SO, 1.08 WHIP


3. Esteban Loaiza (CWS): Esteban came out of nowhere to propel the White Sox into the AL Central race. At one time, he was my #1 pick, but he faltered in 2 key games in September. Two meaningless wins after the race was over padded his totals. 21-9, 2.96 ERA, 219 IP, 193 H, 199 SO, 1.12 WHIP.


2. Pedro Martinez (BOS): A second straight runner up season for Pedro. Bad luck and a bad bullpen hurt his win total, but the failure to get over 200 IP prevents him from finishing 1st. 14-4, 2.22 ERA, 186.2 IP, 206 SO, 147 H, 1.04 WHIP.


1. Roy Halladay (TOR): He has to be #1. He was a horse all year, chewing up innings and winning tons of ballgames. His ERA is higher than all but Mussina on this list, but his durability offsets that. Plus, he pitches for the worst of the 5 teams represented here. 22-7, 3.25 ERA, 9 CG, 266 IP, 204 SO, 32 BB, 1.07 WHIP.


Honorable metnion to Jamie Moyer (SEA).
Playoff Predictions

OK, we're about 10 minutes from the first pitch, so here are my playoff predictions:


AL
Yankees 3 Twins 1

The Twins have been a nice story in the second half, but the Yankees pitching will overwhelm the Twins.

Red Sox 3 A's 2

The series that scares me most. Lefty starters and the Sox haven't been a good mix. But I think we'll see the Sox starters rise to the occasion.



NL
Cubs 3 Braves 2

Heartbreak once again for Atlanta. The Cubs starters will propel them past the Bravos. I have a feeling Smoltz will either hurt himself permanently or not be able to go.

Giants 3 Marlins 1

The Fish are a great story, but I really don't see them beating Bonds and Co.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Congratulations Red Sox!

The Sox sewed up the Wild Card with a 14-3 drubbing of the O's tonight. I feel more confident about this team's chances than any previous edition of the Red Sox I've watched. I will caveat that this postseason looks like a total crapshoot. Anyone can win. Any of the 8 teams has a shot. Why not us this year?



Proposed Playoff Roster

C- Varitek, Mirabelli
1b- Millar, Ortiz
2b- Walker
3b- Mueller
ss- Garciaparra
lf- Ramirez
cf- Damon
Rf- Nixon
ut- Jackson
of- Kapler
ut- Merloni
of/1b-McCarty

Starting Pitchers:
Pedro
Lowe
Wakefield
Suppan

Bullpen:
Kim
Williamson
Embree
Timlin
Arroyo
Sauerbeck (God help us)
Lyon

I see no point in holding onto Burkett as a reliever. I think we are much better served by having Lyon or Arroyo on this team. I'm not thrilled about having Sauerbeck on the roster. But let's face it, he'll be there, like it or not. And who should we replace him with? Burkett? Mendoza? I think not.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Red Sox Rag's National League MVP Ballot



5. Javy Lopez, C (ATL): Who would have thought, after the last 2 dismal seasons, that Lopez would turn things around so dramatically at his age (32)? Lopez has put up one of the great offensive seasons for a catcher in baseball history and is one of the key reasons for the Braves turnaround on offense (along with Marcus Giles). All this despite the fact that he does not have enough plate appearances to qulaify for the batting title due to Bobby Cox and Greg Maddux stubbron insistence on using Henry Blanco exclusively for Maddux' starts. .326/.377/.681 42 HR 106 RBI 86 Runs



4. Jim Thome, 1B (PHI): Say what you will about the Phillies' underachiving (and they have), but it's not Thome's fault. His batting average is down somewhat, but everything else is excellent as always. .268/.388/.566 44 HR 127 RBI 107 Runs



3. Gary Sheffield, RF (ATL): Injuries hampered him in 2002, but he has been full strength all year and has been a terror at the plate. This is what a happy, healthy Sheffield can do. If he were in the AL, he'd win hands down. .328/.419/.602 38 HR 128 RBI 124 Runs 18 SB



2. Barry Bonds, LF (SF): OK, the screaming begins. Why is Bonds #2? He's the best player in baseball. That is very true. He is the best there is, one of the best ever. And he'd get my vote, if he hadn't missed so much time. He may not even play in 130 games this year. He'd win anyway, despite this, if there weren't another compelling candidate who, though his numbers aren't quite up to Bonds, are close enough and will play in almost 160 games. Plus he plays multiple positions. .337/.528/.745 44 HR 88 RBI 108 Runs 147 BB



1. Albert Pujols, 1B/LF (STL): I've covered the argument above. Bonds wins if he hadn't missed so much time. But let's not sell Pujols short. Look at these numbers: .365/.445/.681 43 HR 124 RBI 133 Runs 50 2B



Others receiving consideration were Marcus Giles and Todd Helton.
Go Home Seattle

We are not to be denied! Todd Walker and David Ortiz deliver! This playoff spot is ours! As great as last night was, I wish I had been there tonight. Wow!
Red Sox Rag's American League MVP Ballot

I may not get an official vote, but here's my ballot for AL MVP (Barring any last minute developments)

5. Bill Mueller, 3B (BOS): Mueller was one of the key catalysts for one of the most potent offenses of the post World War II era. While many would look at his HR and RBI totals and dismiss him outright, a discerning eye will note that he's 6th in the league in OPS while manning a more difficult position than the typical MVP positions (1b, OF). His numbers are .325/.397/.540, 19 HR 82 RBI 82 Runs 43 2B.



4. Magglio Ordonez, RF (CWS): Ordonez helped the White Sox awaken from their moribund first half and drive the Sox into contention. He gets my vote over Frank Thomas due both a slightly higher OPS plus the fact that he plays the field. .322/.385/.559 29 HR 96 RBI 45 2B



3. Jorge Posada, C (NYY): Rob Neyer really opened my eyes on the subject of Posada. Giambi's power numbers are pretty, but Posada plays one of the key positions on the field (and he does it fairly well) and his combination of patience and power is perhaps the key component of the Yanks offense this year. .279/.405/.513 29 HR 98 RBI 81 Runs



2. Manny Ramirez, LF (BOS): If Manny doesn't let the team down in early September, he'd probably get my vote for MVP. He's played much better defense this year and has been his usual terror on offense. But I just can't pull the trigger on a first place vote. .325/.428/.587 36 HR 102 RBI 115 Runs



1. Alex Rodriguez, SS (TEX): I know all the arguments about why A-Rod shouldn't be MVP. Normally, I vote for players who influence pennant races. But in the absence of a truly compelling candidate for MVP from a contending team, the door does open for a truly exceptional player from a losing team. All of the above players are worthy candidates, but a case can be made for all for other players on their respective teams. No one player truly stands out. Banks, Dawson, Ripken, are names of others who have done it. A-Rod is the next. .297/.395/.603 47 HR 117 RBI 122 Runs 16 SB


Other candidates who were considered included Nomar Garciaparra, Frank Thomas, Bret Boone and Carlos Delgado.
Great Time at Fenway

I had a great time at Fenway last night with my wife and Father. It was a picture perfect night for baseball. The temperature was in the low 60's all night and the air was relatively still. I was quite comfortable in a T-shirt and jeans. We stopped by Twins Enterprises and picked up new fitted Sox hats for everyone (my old one was, well....old). I loved the closed off set-up on Lansdowne Street.

The game was very entertaining. Suppan pitched fairly well. The home runs were flying as Manny, Trot and Ortiz went deep. There was the usual bullpen intrigue. And in the end the Sox won 7-5.

You can tend to forget, after living in Atlanta for 8 years and going to games with the barely there Atlanta crowd, how fun it is to go to games with fans who hold such passion for the game and hold such knowledge. Sure, Boston has its share of idiot fans, but most are terrific. Listening to the banter back and forth among fans in a particular section is part of the fun of going. Discussing the positives of Johnny Damon's game, lamenting the bullpen, predicting (with great accuracy) that Nomar will swing at the first ptich and pop up. Singing along to Sweet Caroline between innings with 34,000 others (when did that start, by the way..very funny). Love the new scoreboards in left-center with all the cool stats.

Monday, September 22, 2003

In New England for the Week

This should be a treat. I get to spend the final week of the regular season at my parents' home in Central Connecticut. The fam and I jetted up from Atlanta yesterday. I'm hoping I get to experience the final playoff push here in my home state. Tonight, I head up to Fenway to catch the Sox and the O's. Jeff Suppan vs. Jason Johnson. Here's hoping Suppan can keep the ball in the ballpark tonight.

This is my first trip to Fenway since mid-May of last year. I was up for my sister's graduation from Suffolk Law School and we got tix to Fenway. Third row behind the Red Sox batting circle. (They use to be front row until they added a couple of rows.) My Dad has a friend through the Navy who has had the tickets for generations. We used to get to use them one or two times a year when I was kid. There was nothing like sitting 3 feet from Don Baylor or Jim Rice as they warmed up in the on-deck cricle. You don't realize how big these guys are until you see them up close and personal like that. (They look even bigger when you're 12).

Anyway, the temperature was in the 30's that day. The freaking 30's in Mid-May (remind me again why I moved to the Southeast, oh yeah, THIS is why). There was intermittent rain (and some snow mixed in) and the game was delayed, but we finally did get to see Pedro, up close. He struck out the first 3 batter (Seattle, I think) on 9 pitches. Simple amazing. He shut the M's down and the Sox did win that day. Hopefully I get better weather today.

I'm planning on checking out all the improvement the new ownership group has made since last year. The enclosing of Lansdowne street, the Monster seats (I'm not sure if you can go look at those or not, i'll find out tonight). And hopefully we'll see the Magic Number tick down at least one more #. (M's have Moyer tonight, so I'm not counting on an M's loss).

Closer Dilemma

The Kim drama the other night really brought home just how dire the Sox bullpen situation is. This team is so resilient, and has played the good teams in the AL so well, I cannot write off their chances to win the World Series based on the bullpen. Especially since the Sox ERA has been around 3.40 in September. However, with Kim's struggles and Williamson's rather obvious arm troubles, we are really hurting to find guys who can close out games. We're going to HAVE to rely on Kim, along with Embree and Timlin to get most of the heavy lifting done. Perhaps we can mix in Lyon and Arroyo to fill out earlier innings as needed. I wouldn't rely on Sauerbeck AT ALL. The man can't throw strikes. Any man who can't throw strikes has no business in important spots of a game. It's just that simple.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

HBO Curse of the Bambino

I watched it last night. I thought it was very well done. It made me laugh a lot. I had no idea that Steven Wright was a Red Sox fan. How appropriate is that? Denis Leary was great, too. It made me sad. Reliving 1986 is always painful. I almost never watch any footage if I can help it. But it was cathartic to listen to other Sox fans describe what they were doing when it happened and how they reacted. I was 15 and tore my bedroom apart. I ripped down the team picture poster that hanging in my room, screamed, cried, you name it. We all knew they wouldn't win Game 7. Not even Bruce Hurst could save us.

Mostly, though, it made me proud to be a Red Sox fan, despite the lunatic fringe that believes in a real Curse. It is an endless story and I am always awaiting the next chapter with great anticipation, no matter how disappointed I was in the previous chapter. You have to say this about the Sox, at least our chapters make for interesting reading. Cubs and White Sox fans usually have nothing going on other than losing (this year being a rare exception).

It's funny, the Red Sox have the third longest drought of World Series titles in MLB history behind both Chicago teams, but we are the franchise who are mythologized (is that a word?) Not that I'm all that surprised. No other franchise has such a star-struck history.

Wild Card Race

Well, it looks like our 2 1/2 game lead is about to go back to 1 1/2 games. We have the bvious schedule advantage. We need to close the deal. I think we will, history be damned. Hope I'm right. I'll be at Fenway next Monday. It will be my first trip since May of last year. (I live in Atlanta). With any luck, we'll be close to clinching by then.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Sox 8 Rays 2

Nice solid win by the boys. It was tough to drop 2 to the ChiSox, but they are a very solid team. Colon was lights out (and only 2 K's!) It's great to see D-Lowe rising to the challenge in September. I've been very critical of Derek and his fragile psyche. The last thing I expected to see was him nutting it up and pitching well down the stretch. But let's give credit, he's been huge, and even has a shot a finishing 18-6. He's changing my mind regarding offering his name around as trade bait in the offseason.

Nomar

I don't want to join the bandwagon in Nomar bashing. He's been very, very disappointing for the last month and all year on the road. You can't knock his overall numbers (unless you're comparing them to past Nomar seasons). He's had a solid season and has been a big contributor to the Sox success this year. Just not lately. Nomar has been huge in the playoffs in the past. I'm expecting to see him rise to the occasion this year (should we make it). Let's rally behind Nomar.

Bullpen still blows

Just thought I'd throw that in there.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Jayson Stark Picks Red Sox to Win it All

But do we want anyone to pick us?
Pedro Comes Up Big

Another strong start from Pedro today. Eight shutout innings as the Sox finally take a series from the O's. Having to work, I didn't get to see the game at all.

M's Collapsing

When I went to bed last night, the M's seemed safely ahead of Texas 4-1 after 7. Given their bullpen, I was rather amazed to wake up and find that they had blown the game. I've hear various theories as to why they are playing so horribly since the All Star Break. Their young pitchers are gassed, their offense isn't balanced enough, Ichiro's slump...It's probably a combination of them all. I just hope it continues.

Aaron Boone Watch

.202/.257/.295
Yuck.

Feeling Good

Life as a Red Sox fan is full of highs and lows, ups and downs. I'm in an up phase right now. The Sox are playing solid ball (Monday not withstanding) and look to have a good shot at making the playoffs. I think if they go 11-6 and finish at 96-66, they should make it with relative ease. That would be their best regular season record since 1986 (95-66). Unfortunately, both teams have similar bullpens. Let's hope that doesn't translate into similar results.

Monday, September 08, 2003

I'll Say it Again, the NL Must Suck Hard

Bet it all on the AL team to win the series this year folks. If the Sox acquired 3 of the NL's top shelf relievers, and THIS is what they can do against AL teams, then NL teams must suck hardcore.
Nomar Bails Pen Out

As usual, the Sox offense rides to the rescue. Now, will the pen give it right back as they are wont to do? Or will they "cowboy up"?

An aside, that is the first big, late inning hit I can remember Nomar delivering in a LONG time. Maybe my memory is failing, but it seems to me he's failed a LOT in late inning pressure situations lately.
Invitation to the Red Sox Bullpen

I'd just like to take this opportunity to invite the entire Red Sox bullpen to go f*** themselves. A more overrated bunch of rag arms, I don't think I've ever seen. The NL must be an inferior league if guys like Sauerbeck, Williamson and Kim were considered terrific relievers. If the Sox miss the playoffs or lose in the playoffs, it will be because of Y-O-U. The Sox offense may bail them out YET AGAIN tonight, but that doesn't change just how damaging this hideous bullpen is.

May I also repeat what I said a few weeks ago. THESE ARE THE FREAKING ORIOLES.

Can't Jump on the Negative Without Saying This

Kudos to the rest of the team for their amazing effort in New York this weekend. A reverse Boston Massacre would have been sweet. (An aside: my first Sox game ever was Game 3 of the Massacre in 1978). The Sox have really pounded Yankee pitching this year. I don't think they're any better than we are. There are no dominant teams in either league. If we get in the dance, anyone has a shot. We must get in.

P.S. It was no coincedence that the bullpen played almost no role in our victories over the Yankees.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Sorry For the Lack of Posts

Time is a precious commodity in my household. Sometimes, I'm just not going to have time to post anything. This is a hobby for me, so I suppose there's no need to apologize, but I thought I'd throw that out there anyway.

Great Win Tonight

It was nice to see the offense rise up for Pedro and put a spanking on Andy Pettite. So often Pedro pitches well and gets zero support from his mates. Tonight he only had to go 6. There is a guy on a website I visit that argued last week the Pedro's record vs. the Yanks and Pettite's record vs. the Sox showed that Andy was clearly superior in Sox-Yanks matchups and that Andy would ultimately be the more valuable pitcher in years to come. He also arued that Pedro's ERA's and peripherals didn't matter and shouldn't be taken into account because the Sox don't ever win with Pedro on the team, therefore, he can't be that valuable. That's a nutshell version anyway. I won't go into it again here, suffice to say that the great Baseball Enlightenment that is sweeping baseball (A's, Red Sox, Jays) hasn't quite reached everyone yet. Bet this guy loves Joe Morgan's commentaries.

Passing the Test?

Everyone was saying that the Sox needed to survive their brutual August stretch in order to have a shot at the playoffs. Well, in the last 23 games encompassing series with Oakland (twice), Seattle (twice), Chicago, New York (one + one in progress), Toronto and one game with Philly, the Sox are 14-9. How many out there would have been thrilled with those results?

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