Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tito Would Be Happy With 4 Outfielders

Terry Francona told the Boston Globe he would be happy to keep Coco Crisp and have 4 options in outfield going into '08. There is no question that Coco is a great defensive player and could be a good late inning option but he is such a streaky hitter it would be a challenge for him to not play everyday. Boston has most of the puzzle pieces in place so they do not need to trade him right now; it may make sense to keep him a trade him at the deadline for a player that could help out in the stretch run. He is also good insurance for when Manny or J.D. get hurt. Coco's agent told the media that he did not want to platoon but he has to say that to try to get the best long term deal for Coco. No team will sign him for big bucks if he only plays 20% of the time next year and hits .250.


Friday, January 18, 2008

'08 Outlook for Jacoby Ellsbury

'07 Season: Jacoby Ellsbury only played in 6 games for the Red Sox before the All Star Game. He was not a major part of the team until injuries forced his permanent call up in September. During the last month of the season he hit .361 with 3 HR's and 17 RBI's. He became an instant fan favorite and demands for him to replace Coco or Drew grew louder. He replaced Coco in the ALCS and in the World Series and became the lead off hitter for the Sox. He hit .360 in the post-season with 3 stolen bases (including the free taco steal).

'08 Outlook: Jacoby's speed and bat bring some excitement to the top of the Red Sox order. He can be a game changer when he gets on base. Ellsbury's defense still has room for improvement but he does cover a lot of range. The Red Sox have been changing their lead off hitter constantly for the last few years looking for a good solution; Jacoby is the solution. He has a good bat and can beat out a few infield singles. The biggest area that Ellsbury need to improve is becoming a more patient hitter, he only had 8 walks in 116 AB's last season. The Red Sox are very good at helping batters become more selective at the plate so Jacoby should improve in this area. He will face pressure from being labeled as the second comining of Tony C. by Red Sox Nation, but he proved he can handle it. The sky is the limit for Ellsbury in '08.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mike Lowell Speaks to Baseball Writers

Mike Lowell spoke at the annual dinner for the Boston Baseball Writers of America and said he would be open to a blood test for HGH but only if it was 100% accurate. He noted that a 99% accurate test would lead to 7 players to test positive. I have to say that I don't agree with Lowell here. There has never been a test for a drug or disease that is 100% positive, even DNA test that are admissible in court are not 100% positive. I understand that a false positive can have a very negative impact on a player's career but baseball can use the test and keep the results private. A positive test could spark a private investigation that must turn up additional evidence before a player is suspended. Players and MLB must work together in to create a workable solution for this problem or it will continue to exist. Take a look at Bill Simmon's article on how steroids can destroy baseball for fans.


Bud Selig Gets An Extension

After presiding over the Steroid Era, baseball owners voted to give Bud Selig more time as commissioner of baseball. The new extension will keep him in charge of MLB through 2012. I guess we have 4 more years of poor leadership to look forward to.


Twins Will Trade Santana Before Spring Training

A Twins official told the Star Tribune that Johan Santana will be traded before the start of spring training. The official believes the Mets offer is the best for them right now even though they are offering players who are not yet ready for the majors. The Yankees and the Red Sox have most likely put their best offers on the table but they may tweak them slightly to get the deal done. Boston will be fine with Santana going to the National League and keeping the young players they have but they want to make sure the Yankees do not beef up their rotation. I think fans in Boston, New York, and the Twin Cities just want a deal done so the teams can move forward. The Red Sox need to determine who the bench outfielder and corner infielder will be in the next month and they can not do that until Santana goes somewhere. Coco, Kielty and Hinske are all sitting in limbo until Twin's GM Bill Smith decides to sh*! or get off the pot.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Get Up Early Or Stay Up Late

The first regular season game for the Red Sox will take place on March 25 and the game is scheduled to start at 6:07 AM ET (3:07 AM PT) at the Tokyo Dome in Japan against the Oakland A's.


'08 Outlook for J.D. Drew

'07 Season: You could sum up J.D.' s season by watching a clip of a weak grounder to second to end a rally over and over again, then watch a clip of the grand slam in the ALCS and you have seen enough. J.D. did not win over Red Sox Nation when he replaced Trot in right. When he was signed fans complained about the big salary for a guy with a history of injury problems, by mid season they were wishing for one of those injuries. J.D. hit .171 in May with no home runs, he started to heat up in June by hitting .325 for the month but quickly went back down in July. In July he hit .213 and failed to hit any home runs. By the time August rolled around most fans were done with him; he needed to have about 3 walk-offs in a row to win them back. He brought his average up but the power numbers were not there. His grand slam in the ALCS was his first real moment where he contributed in a big way and may have set the tone for next season.

'08 Outlook: J.D. was below his career average in almost every stat last season, this can be attributed to switching leagues and the pressure players face in the Hub. With the new lineup for Boston next year he might start towards the bottom of the order taking away some of the pressure he felt last year. He is a good defensive player and does have some speed on the base paths. With the expectation bar set so low for J.D. next season he could win back fans by putting up average numbers. It will be hard for Drew not to improve in '08 which can only mean good things for a team that won the World Series with him in right.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

'08 Outlook for Manny Ramirez

'07 Season: Manny was not being Manny for most of last season; for the first time in 10 years he did not hit 100 RBI's. His 20 HR's was his 2nd worse performance in his career. For the second year in a row Manny started off the season very slowly, batting only .202 in April. Manny picked it up for the remainder of the season before he was injured. He only played in 6 games in September before returning for the post-season. Ramirez did have his usual controversy when he said it did not matter if they won the series against the Tribe. Manny made up for his comments at the plate where he hit .409 for the post-season including his first ever walk-off home run. As of January 15, 2008 he has not asked to be traded.

'08 Season: This year will mark the point where Manny has played more games for the Red Sox than for Cleveland. He has Hall of Fame numbers and has found more comfort in Boston; he even speaks to the media now and then. His workouts have been documented and his preparation for hitting is exceptional. Manny would have had his typical numbers last year if he remained healthy so there is no reason to believe he is in a downward trend. Only a fool would bet against him getting 100 RBI's in '08. Defense will never be his strong point but you will get the occasional web gem followed by a train wreck in left. Manny is surrounded by players he likes on the Red Sox and has been much more of a team player in the last two years. Francona knows how to handle the Manny situations perfectly and always makes sure that he is in the lineup when needed most. Manny will continue to deliver in '08 and may even talk more about finishing his career in Boston. A few more typical Manny years will ensure a red #24 hanging between #9 and #27 in right field.


MLB Gets Grilled On The Hill

Bud Selig and Donald Fehr are in the middle of testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee. Their testimony has been filled with squirmy answers as to why they were not responsible for the Steroid Era in baseball. Bud Selig thinks there needs to be more testing and year-round testing for PED's. Donald Fehr does not commit to off season testing and says it needs further investigation. Fehr sums up his attitude towards drug testing when he is asked if players have a misunderstanding of post-season testing when he said that he hopes they are not under a misunderstanding because they might use steroids and fail a test. He is more concerned that a player might get caught by the system than ridding the sport of steroids. Selig continues to play the tough guy role when the Steroid Era took place under his watch. Many people will say that Congress should not get involved in baseball but without some outside action Fehr and Selig will continue to ignore the problem.


Tejada May Be Charged With Perjury

In his opening statement for the hearings on steroids Congressman Henry Waxman said he will send a letter to the Department of Justice to ask them to open an investigation into Miguel Tejada's lying to Congress. Tejada told a congressional investigators that he did not provide Rafael Palmeiro with steroids and that he had never used them himself.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Steroid Hearings Start Tomorrow

The first round of Congressional hearings into steroid use in MLB will take place tomorrow beginning at 9:30 am (6:30 Pacific). Bud Selig and Donald Fehr will both testify about new information uncovered in the Mitchell Report. The hearings will be broadcast in their entirety on ESPN as well as on CSPAN. You can watch the hearings online here.


Yanks Say They Are Out of Santana Sweepstakes

This may not be the last time we have heard this with Hank at the helm but the Yankees are reportedly out of the Santana race. An unnamed Yankee official told ESPN radio that they have dropped out of talks for the Twins ace. That leaves the Twins with 3 choices: continue to negotiate for some young players from the Mets, take the Red Sox offer, or keep Santana for the season and let him go into free agency next fall. The Mets do not have the number of players who are ready to play in the big leagues as the Sox do so Boston will once again be the front runner. Since the Sox have not traded Coco yet it appears they are still interested in Santana.

UPDATE: Hank says the report is not true but they never had a formal offer for the Twins...whatever Hank


'08 Outlook for Mike Lowell

'07 Season: Mike Lowell had a career year for the Boston Red Sox. It was the first time in his career that he batted over .300 and he hit 15 more RBI's than his previous best season. He was just 9 hits shy of a 200 hit season. Lowell led the team in RBI's and finished the season as World Series MVP.

'08 Outlook: It will be tough for Lowell to repeat the numbers he had last season but he should still put up good numbers. He is a very good defensive third basemen and has become more patient at the plate. If J.D. Drew starts to hit next season Mike could see some better pitches. He now is used to American League pitching and he will should be in a better offensive lineup next season assuming Manny is more productive and Jacoby is the hitter fans think he is. Lowell was at the top of his game last season and should not drop off too much, expect him to hit .290 or above with 100+ RBI's.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Roger* May Not Testify To Congress

Roger Clemens* may not testify to Congress because his lawyer believes it would interfere with his lawsuit against McNamee. What a load of crap. He files a lawsuit for the sole intention of avoiding answering questions under oath. Clemens' lawyer has also said they will not turn over the tape that was played at a news conference last week. Clemens did not play the entire tape to the media. Roger* wants to keep this as a "his word against mine" situation where he controls the questioning. He is playing a game he can not win in the court of public opinion. Roger can delay his admitting use of PED's but he will not chance the public attitude about him with this approach. The common advice to someone who has found himself in a hole is to stop digging. Will someone please take the shovel away from Roger?


'08 Outlook for Julio Lugo

'07 Season: Lugo signed a 4 year contract to play short for the Red Sox and to use his speed when he got on base. Unfortunately for Boston, he was not on base very much during the first half of the season. The Mendoza Line was wishful thinking for Lugo in June when he hit an unbelievable .089 for the month. Lugo made some big plays in the field but also booted an easy grounder to ruin Schilling's perfect game. Julio turned it around in July with a 14 game hit streak and a 7 RBI game. He ended up batting .280 for the second half of the season. Lugo had a career high 73 RBI's and his second highest stolen base total of 33 last season.

'08 Outlook: Lugo's batting average was about 40 points below his career average last season so we should see some improvement at the plate. Getting more than 70 RBI's in the '08 season is going to be a stretch for him especially when he bats in the 8th or 9th spot. Lugo will continue to be a decent defensive shortstop and his speed will help. There will be much less pressure on him in the upcoming season as the fans have now accepted him and won't be calling WEEI to ask why Cora is not playing short every time he gets out. Cora will bat in the upper .200's with over 50 RBI's and 30 SB's. He will be a productive guy at the end of the order but he will not be the hero of the team and I don't expect #23 shirts to be sold out any time soon.



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