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Greg Cunningham

Opening Day 2014 posted by Greg Cunningham

Mitch Albom, in his book The Five People You Meet In Heaven taught us that “…all endings are beginnings. We just don't know it at the time..."  Looking back at the end of the 2012 Boston Red Sox season, little did we know the stage would be set for what many would call the greatest come-back season in Red Sox history.  And without the abysmal ending of 2012, it may never have come to pass.

The season had barely begun, and fans were still trying to learn the names of some of the players, when the character of the 2013 Boston Red Sox was firmly established.  While the echo of explosions could be heard at Fenway Park on April 15th, the reverberations were felt for days, weeks, and months after.  The City of Boston was reminded, and more importantly, reminded itself, that we were strong, we would not cower, we would not give in.  We thanked the real heroes in uniform: the police, fire and EMS departments far and wide who worked tirelessly to provide aid and comfort.  We paused to honor and remember the fatalities: Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu and Sean Collier.  We tried to raise the spirits of those who had lost limbs, and those who almost lost their lives after being wounded.  But Boston refused to act wounded, and rose up as one, unified nation.

In what proved to be a stirring moment of foreshadowing, President Barack Obama provided a call to action: “We come together to celebrate life and to walk our cities and to cheer for our teams [and] when the Sox, then Celtics, then Patriots or Bruins are champions again…the crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street…Bet on it!”  The Red Sox did more than bet on it.  They did it.

Continue reading "Opening Day 2014"


Greg Cunningham

Opening Day 2013 posted by Greg Cunningham

I think the Grateful Dead may have put it best:  “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

The great hope and a 2012 team full of what many called “An All Star Roster” quickly morphed into the team we loved to hate.  The Sox lost a game?  The starting pitcher blamed his golf game.  The manager made some comment about a player to the media?  Such a comment about the manager was returned in kind.  The 2012 Boston Red Sox seemed to epitomize everything wrong with professional sports today: highly paid men playing a game meant to be played by children.

But it was Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote about the birth of Spring long before baseball was even envisioned as a game: 

When April with his showers sweet with fruit

The drought of March has pierced unto the root
…(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,

Pilgrimages to Fenway Park certainly were not what Chaucer had in mind.  But like salmon returning upstream to start the process of life anew, Red Sox Nation returns to Fenway Park to breathe new life into the stadium.

Players and coaches will tell you they would much rather play as an underdog and not as the favorite.  Underdogs are easier to motivate; favorites can be too sure of themselves.  If this is the case, the 2013 Boston Red Sox must be in the best place they have ever been to begin the season.  Not one Boston Sports Writer picked the team to win the division this year, and only one picked the team to win a wild card spot.  “Underdogs” is an understatement.  And this year, they seem fine with that.

Continue reading "Opening Day 2013"


Charles Bisbee

Seismic Deal Cleans Sox' Slate posted by Charles Bisbee

As you may have heard, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto were traded to the Dodgers last week for James Loney, pitching prospect Rubby de la Rosa, and an assortment of water-logged baseballs. (I kid, obviously, though baseballs- fresh ones at least- could eventually prove to be more valuable than the players the Sox received).

On paper and from an overall talent perspective, the deal looks atrocious. James Loney is a utility player for a middling squad and the best prospect the Sox received (de la Rosa) projects as a mid-rotation innings-eater. Dan Shaughnessy compared the trade's magnitude to the infamous sale of the Bambino in 1920. 

While the gulf in overall baseball talent is wide, this is a deal that needed to be made. It doesn’t take a chemistry major to have noted the growing toxicity within the Sox clubhouse over the past couple of years, or to understand that Beckett and Crawford in particular were lightning rods for the vitriol directed toward the squad, both from fans and the media. Crawford was always hurt and could never live up to his $142 million contract. Beckett was inconsistent and seemingly lazy. If success were to be reclaimed by these players, it was not going to be in the hub. 

In gutting the nucleus of the squad, the Sox save more than $250 million and give Ben Cherington the opportunity to build his team, instead of continuing to saddle him with Theo Epstein’s band of misfits. This is a clean slate for the Sox. And after the past couple of years, a clean slate may be better than any player the team could have acquired. 

Continue reading "Seismic Deal Cleans Sox' Slate"


Charles Bisbee

Youkilis Trade Needed to be Made posted by Charles Bisbee

Keeping your finger near the pulse of the Boston sports scene while living in Seoul, South Korea is no small task. News is generally filtered through the same outlets, but there is a certain level of detachment. Kevin Youkilis’ departure, for example, didn’t resonate with me in a way it might have were I still living in New England.

Anyway, this trade seemed inevitable for a while. The poorly-disguised bad blood between Youkilis and Bobby Valentine, the emergence of Will Middlebrooks, and the steady deterioration of Youk’s all around game made the decision, if not easy, certainly a clear one for the Sox’ front office. To his credit, Youk handled the situation professionally, thanking the organization and the fans and managing to steer clear of the Valentine topic completely.

Upon returning to Fenway last week, Youk was met warmly by the faithful, who showered him with a chorus of what we know were “Yoooouuuk”s and not “booooo”s. Youkilis doffed his cap in his typically abrupt, all-business way, and proceeded to collect 5 hits and a home run in the three-game series. Youkilis appeared classier next to Valentine, who continued his petulant child routine and blamed Youkilis for their strained relationship.

A change of scenery could do wonders for Youkilis. At 33 years old, he should still have enough lead in his pencil to produce a few more solid years for a surprisingly contending White Sox team. At the same time, it was a move that Boston had to make, given the factors mentioned above. Give new GM Ben Cherington credit for making a difficult decision that, while maybe unpopular, was absolutely necessary. 

Continue reading "Youkilis Trade Needed to be Made"


Richard Kagan

A Tough Loss to Boston posted by Richard Kagan

I was following the score on the internet.  And turned it off with men on 1st and 2nd base with one out in the 9th.

I didn't want to see what could happen.  Now, I know.  Cody Ross, tagged Matt Thornton for a walk-off 3 run shot in the 9th to win it for Boston, 3-1.  I thought, could a 1-0 lead hold up in Fenway Park.  Not likely.  And, this was a wasted performance by the starter, Quintana who threw a 5 hitter and shut down the Red Sox offense.  Till Thornton came out and blew the save.  The Sox then brought in Addison Reed, their closer and he gave up the shot by Ross.  This a tough loss.  It's baseball.  Sometimes you win these type of games, now the ChiSox knows how it feels to be on the other side.  Don't let this happen again.  Close out these type of games.  A team has a few of these losses per season.  Enough.

Continue reading "A Tough Loss to Boston"


Greg Cunningham

Opening Day 2012 posted by Greg Cunningham

Exactly one year ago this week, I wrote the line, “…and if all is well in September, a slow start to the season will be laughed at as the playoffs begin.”  Oh the humanity (and the irony).

It is possible no other team in the history of the Boston Red Sox caused as much heartbreak as did the 2011 team.  A season that began like the Titanic righted itself and sailed along with great promise during a summer that listened to talk of World Series games being played once again at Fenway Park.  But when T.S. Elliot wrote "April is the cruelest month," Red Sox fans would have eagerly agreed, until September brought cruelty that even Elliot could not have envisioned; Fenway Park became a modern day "Wasteland” and lay dormant and barren during the month of October.

As the Fall continued, things didn't get much better in Red Sox nation.  Instead of talk of MVP's and free agent signings, Sox fans spent much of the off season talking about fried chicken and beer; as comfort food may have been the intended scapegoat of 2011, Red Sox Nation watched yet another casualty fall, and bid goodbye to once beloved (and still beloved by many) manager Terry Francona.

Writer and inspirational speaker William Arthur Ward wrote, “Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.”  We can only hope the men that make up the 2012 Boston Red Sox are more prone to breaking records and not prone to just breaking down.
 

An unfortunate end to a season might be forgiven, as winning often cures all.  But with a lackluster start to 2012, the maelstrom of issues from last season continue to swirl around Fenway like gusts of wind on a cool April afternoon.  

Continue reading "Opening Day 2012"


Joe Halstead

The Detroit TIgers Must Approach This April Like the Playoffs posted by Joe Halstead

It is said- and correctly so- that while a pennant may not be won in April, a pennant may be lost in April.

On this note, the Detroit Tigers have immediate cause for concern. Their early schedule- in the month of April alone- includes two more games against Boston, a three-game home series with the Tampa Bay Rays (April 10-12), a four-game home series against the American League Champion Texas Rangers (April 19-22) and, just to pour a bucket of salt water over the wounds incurred, a three-game series in the Bronx Apr. 27-29.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland is known for using his entire roster liberally. OFers Clete Thomas and Andy Dirks, and 2Bmen Danny Worth, Ramon Santiago and, eventually, Brandon Inge, might see significant playing time.

But, should they?

The Tigers made substitutions in the 2011 post-season out of necessity. They were beat up, and running out of players. Luckily, some of those substitutes stepped up in a big way, such as UT Don Kelly and Santiago.

However, the Tigers are at nearly 100% health, and they need their front line to do battle with the American League's best. 

So, here's hoping that Leyland doesn't tinker with his team too much. Obviously, he wants OF Delmon Young to continue what he's been doing for the Tigers since last August, which is to drive in runs. Surely, Leyland would also like to see one of his second basemen grab the brass ring. So far, all we have are multiple second basemen who play competently enough to hit .250 and turn the double play when necessary.

Ah, maybe, that is, until now. 2B/OF Ryan Raburn had the Spring Training of his life, batting over .400 for a stretch, eventually cooling a bit to a .268 average. However, he still slugged .661, having hit 6 HRs, 2 2Bs and a 3B. That accounts for nine of his 15 hits in the spring.

Continue reading "The Detroit TIgers Must Approach ..."


Joe Halstead

The Detroit TIgers Scratch Out Gutsy Win on Opening Day Versus Boston Red Sox posted by Joe Halstead

It's really refreshing to see the Detroit Tigers win on national televison. Aside from September's telecasts last year, the Tigers usually play just poorly enough to remind ESPN and Fox National to stop carrying Tigers games.

Not so on this chilly but sunny- and sold out- Thursday afternoon.

Justin Verlander cruised along on the strength of a devastating back-door curve ball, mixing in his fastball mostly to keep hitters honest or to get a two-strike count. According to MLB Network's Mitch Williams, Verlander never topped 94 mph.

Cruise control- 8 innings pitched, zero earned runs, 2 hits, 7 strikeouts and a walk. The MVP has returned, although he earned a no-decisoin. Interestingly, it was closer Jose Valverde who notched the win, after blowing his first save opportunity of the 2012 season. Valverde was perfect in 49 save opportunities last year, and in 3 opportunities in the playoffs.

The other Detroit Tiger of note today has to be Austin Jackson, who was 3-5 and, notably, did not strike out a single time. Of course, this is a small sample size, just as small a sample size as if he'd gone 0-4 with 4Ks. It's one game. However, his muted footwork at the plate seems to have led to a faster bat and better pitch selection. AJ looked really, really good.

In fact, it was Jackson who shot a hard grounder just inside third base and past a drawn-in Nick Punto for a walk-off single, scoring pinch runner Danny Worth. The Tigers will need plenty more of this from Jackson if they are to compete in what looks like a more competitive scene throughout Major League Baseball.

Continue reading "The Detroit TIgers Scratch Out Gutsy ..."


Greg Cunningham

Opening Day 2011 posted by Greg Cunningham

Lou Gorman, General Manger of the Boston Red Sox from 1984 to 1993, was asked what he was going to do after negotiations with a player had just broken down.  He replied, “The sun will rise, the sun will set and I’ll have lunch.’’  Somehow, I can hear him saying the same line this week, after one of the worst opening weeks in Red Sox history.  Lou passed away last week, on the morning of the Sox season opener.  What a difference a week makes.  It was just one week ago Red Sox Nation was talking about 100 victories and the best team ever to take the field.  And today, just seven days later, we are looking at a team with a record well below the Mendoza line.

 

This, after so much optimism during the off-season.  As we watched with delight and glee, the Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez, a name so often talked about in these parts, it seems he’s been part of the team for years .  And just when the celebration was winding down about Gonzalez, a late night deal put Carl Crawford in a Red Sox uniform.  Adding to the euphoria was Cliff Lee, sure to sign with the Yankees, until he chose to head to Philadelphia.  Get the duck boats ready!!  Everyone was excited and could not wait for April to arrive.

 

Just a week ago, all this optimism about the Olde Towne Team was enough to bring a smile to even the most pessimistic fan.  And somehow, now six games later, people are worried and scarred.  What if they don’t start hitting?  Maybe the pitching isn’t as good as we thought?  Could the word “Overrated” replace the famous “1918” chant that was finally put to rest seven years ago?    

Continue reading "Opening Day 2011"


David

Buyer or Seller? posted by David

With the Dog Days of August about to begin, now is the time for teams to decide whether they are buyers or sellers – that is, whether they should mortgage their future and go for it this year or trade away their veterans for up-and-coming prospects.  “Going for it” says to a team’s fans that the organization thinks it has a legitimate chance to win it all, but a more conservative approach can send just as strong a message.  While a middle-of-the-pack team may have to acknowledge that this isn’t the year, going out and building for the future – as long as it is not the distant future – can usually be taken to mean that the front office is willing to sacrifice an outside shot at the playoffs in order to increase its chances of winning in the long term.  Buyer or seller, every GM will be busy until tomorrow’s trade deadline.

How ‘bout that?

How about Buster Posey?  The 22-year-old rookie has been on fire since taking over as the Giants’ starting catcher when Bengie Molina was traded to the Rangers.  Though his 21-game hitting streak came to an end on Thursday, Posey has helped San Francisco go 17-8 in the month of July, in the process taking the lead in the Wild Card race.  It won’t be easy to edge Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg, but Posey has a legitimate chance to claim the National League Rookie of the Year award.

How about José Bautista?  Bautista leads the power-happy Blue Jays with 75 RBI and a .585 slugging percentage (teammate Vernon Wells, who is second, has driven in 55 and slugged .515), but more impressively, leads the majors in homers.  The journeyman played for Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh before finding a home in Toronto, and while he has always shown some pop, the Dominican native’s previous career highs were 16 homers (2006), 63 RBI (2007), and a .420 slugging percentage (2006).

Continue reading "Buyer or Seller?"

Boston Red Sox News

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Buyers and sellers spar for deadline deals (Reuters)

By Larry Fine NEW YORK (Reuters) - Visions of acquiring a difference-making player for this season or possible future stars stir the imagination of Major League Baseball fans ahead of Thursday's trade deadline. Rumors are rampant, with Boston Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester becoming a prime figure in deadline scuttlebutt after last year's World Series winners scratched him from Wednesday night's scheduled start against the Toronto Blue Jays. With the struggling Red Sox (48-59) 12 games off the pace in the AL East and Lester (10-7, 2.52 ERA) poised to become a free agent in the offseason, it was widely expected the southpaw would be dealt to a contending team. Another top-flight pitcher, David Price (11-7, 3.08 ERA entering Wednesday's games) of Tampa Bay, has loomed as a prominent candidate for a trade by the small-market Rays after a dismal start that left them 24-42 by June 10. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Felix Doubront traded to Cubs after being demoted to Red Sox bullpen (Big League Stew)

The Boston Red Sox have traded another pitcher — just not the one every baseball fan is waiting to hear about . The Red Sox sent Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday for a player to be named later, ending Doubront's unhappy stint in the Boston bullpen. FOX Sports' Jon Morosi first reported a deal was close. Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported it was done.  Source: Red Sox have traded Felix Doubront to the Cubs. @jonmorosi had it close. — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 30, 2014 As @alexspeier said, Doubront goes to the Cubs for a PTBNL that will BN after the Rule 5 draft. — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 30, 2014 Doubront — 2-4 with a 6.07 ERA — was increasingly   unhappy about his role in Boston to the point of speaking out publicly last weekend, telling MassLive.com : "The thing is, if the (Red Sox) say I have to prove myself, I already did man," he said. "It’s (messed) up. So if these guys say I have to pitch to prove whatever, no, they already know what I have. I showed them what I have, as a reliever and as a starter. "For me, they don’t see the numbers, they don’t care what I’ve done in the past. It’s hard to be happy like that with these guys. "First of all, I’m not a reliever," he said. "They know that. They just, you know, it’s hard but I don’t know what they’re doing. I know they’re not doing the right thing for me. That’s what I know right now at this moment. I’m an employee just following the order but they know I’m not happy. I don’t know what they’re going to do in the future but I’m don’t want to be a reliever the whole year, that’s what I know." The trade makes sense on both sides. First, it rids the Red Sox of their Doubront problem. He had a few good starts last season, but has been largely ineffective in 2014. Doubront made 10 starts for Boston, but has been a reliever since mid-June. He gave up six runs in two-thirds of an inning Monday, his last appearance for the Red Sox. The Cubs get a pitcher who is still relatively young, 26, and under team control for the next few seasons. Doubront will be arbitration eligible in 2015 and won't be a free agent until 2018. He doesn't figure to be ace, but Doubront can help the rebuilding Cubs and perhaps turn into an effective middle-of-the-rotation starter. In Chicago, he'll be reunited with team president Theo Epstein, who was the Red Sox's GM in 2005 when Doubront signed there as an international free agent. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @MikeOz [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

ESPN announcers to call game atop Green Monster (The Associated Press)

BOSTON (AP) -- ESPN announcers will call Sunday night's Red Sox-Yankees game from atop Fenway Park's Green Monster. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Orioles say they won't dangle young arms for trade (The Associated Press)

The Orioles apparently won't give up some of their young arms to get pitching help this season, and that likely means Jon Lester won't be coming to Baltimore. Dan Duquette, Baltimore's vice president of baseball operations, said Wednesday that he has no intention of dealing away young pitching talent before the non-waiver trade deadline ends Thursday afternoon. ''Some of the long-term prospects for our pitching we think are very valuable for the long-term sustainability of the organization,'' Duquette said. I think with our young pitchers we would be conservative and we would try and give them a prolonged trial in the big leagues before we would trade them.'' So if the Boston Red Sox want young pitchers such as Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy or Hunter Harvey for Lester, they will have to look elsewhere. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Cubs acquire struggling LHP Doubront from Red Sox (The Associated Press)

Theo Epstein was the first person to take a chance on Felix Doubront. The Chicago Cubs acquired Doubront from the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday in exchange for a player to be named. Epstein, the president of baseball operations for the Cubs, was Boston's general manager when Doubront signed with the Red Sox as an undrafted free agent in 2005. Cubs manager Rick Renteria said he didn't know very much about Doubront, and the team said it would announce in the next couple days where he would begin with the organization. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

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