Tagged: Jacoby Ellsbury

The Beantown Status Report

Papelbon

It’s only May 8th, but the Boston Red Sox are 7.5 games back on the
division leading Tampa Bay Rays, and 6.0 games back on the wild card
leading New York Yankees. With a record of 15-15 (and potentially 15-16 if
the rain slows down today and the Yanks hold on to win), and having only been
above .500 for two days in the first month and a bit, it’s pretty obvious to everyone in
the AL East that if the Sox want to compete, something drastic has to happen – and it
has to happen soon, or I might just start watching Major League Soccer instead.

Drew

You can argue that the Red Sox are starting to put it together. Having swept the
Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers with strong bats and strong
pitching. J.D. Drew, Victor Martinez, and Adrian Beltre seem
to be coming together at the plate. Even David Ortiz has been smacking a
couple out of the park in the last week. Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester,
and John Lackey have seemingly started to come together. Daisuke
Matsuzaka
is back from the DL and has shown signs of strength and weakness,
and even Josh Beckett had a great start to his game against the Yankees
last night, at least until he fell apart. There are signs of light at the end of the tunnel.

Then again, they were swept by the Rays at home over a four game series. They
were even swept by the Baltimore Orioles in Fenway South, and are 2-4
against a team that has been amongst the worst in baseball not just this year, but for
a long …. long time – a team the Sox have beaten 15-17 times per season almost
every year in recent history.

Scutaro

Offense isn’t necessarily a problem. During the off-season, talk was about a
dominant pitching staff and defense, with a relatively weak offense. So far, it’s been
the other way around. The offense has given it’s fans an average of about 5 runs a
game. In the mean time, the pitching staff has an ERA of 4.68, with 13 un-earned
runs crossing the plate. Furthermore, The Red Sox are 1-5 in 6 games they sent to
extras.

But why is everyone in Red Sox Nation worried about the future outcome of this
season? Yes, the Rays are 22-7. The Yankees are 20-8. The Blue Jays are 18-13,
2.5 ahead of Boston for third place in the division. But look on the bright side – it’s
only May 8th. Jacoby Ellsbury is injured, as is Mike Cameron. The
lineup is being shuffled continually. The pitching staff needs to find their groove. It
will happen. Eventually everything will come together and they’ll start to win again.
Beckett, Lester, and Lackey are all proven aces. Buchholz and Dice-K are strong,
strong pitchers. Beltre will find his niche at the hot corner. Ellsbury will come back
and start causing hell at the top of the lineup. The 2010 Boston Red Sox are better
than the 85-win team they appear to be at the moment.

Ellsbury

Let’s put this season in perspective. This time last year, the Yankees were 14-15,
4.5 games back of the leading Red Sox. But starting on the 13th of May, they won 9
in a row, ultimately ending with a 103-59 season and a World Series ring. Similarly,
the Red Sox started the 2009 season with a record of 2-6, and then went on a
13-game winning streak for a final record of 95-67 and a Wild Card championship. It
can still come together. There’s still time, but this is what needs to happen:

Thumbnail image for Adrian Beltre.JPG

  • Stop losing against the Yankees and Rays – In 8 games against these
    two teams, they’re 1-7 … all at Fenway, where they seemingly can’t lose against
    any other team as long as they show up for the game.
  • Start Pitching Like You Mean It – The aces on the mound will come
    together and start throwing 7+ innings per game. They’re too good for it to not
    happen. Buchholz and Dice-K will add a good compliment to the three J’s, and
    the bullpen will come back together, especially when Bonser comes back to put a
    cap on his great spring.
  • Improve Defense – Beltre has 7 errors so far this season (only 14 for
    him through all of last season), so he needs to improve if we have a chance of
    winning. But he’s not the only problem. Martinez needs to improve his throw to
    second to intimidate potential thieves (although the pitchers need to help). The
    offense needs to get healthy once again and do their thing.
  • Get Back Ellsbury – Jacoby is well-known as one of the best lead-off
    hitters in the game. Guaranteed to steal bases, walk, and hit at a .300+ clip, he’s
    essential to a good Sox team (not that Scutaro isn’t doing a great job in his
    absence). Darnell McDonald, Jonathan Van Every, Bill
    Hall
    , and Jeremy Hermida are doing a good job in the absence of
    Ellsbury and Cameron, but you just can’t replace those two players in any
    way.

Do that, and we’ll be fine. Besides, the Yanks will fall, right? 🙂 Burnett can’t go two
seasons without an injury, and Vasquez will be a beautiful Yanks disappointment this
year.

At least one can hope, right?

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Christmas Gets Sweeter? Maybe …

Javier Vazquez

The Yankees are reportedly close to trading Melky Cabrera among others for
Javier Vazquez, from the Braves. Who’s the winner in this deal? Quite possibly the
Red Sox. While Vazquez is a healthy pitcher, and makes a decent #4 in the Yankee
rotation, I can’t help but think that Melky was a better asset for them, not only for
right now, but also the long run.

Vazquez is seasonally a 10-15 game winner who gives up a decent amount of runs,
but is someone who tends to always stay healthy, and eats up innings like a
homeless guy invited to Christmas dinner. But who will the Yankees throw into the
outfield this season? They have Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher. Granderson
is arguably one of the best center fielders in the game, but Swisher is ranked as average and for some crazy reason is the only Yankee that can’t hit it out of the right field vortex, although defensively he can play anywhere in the outfield, or at first base. Who mans
left field? Does this now mean that they’ll go after Damon if he’s willing to take a pay
decrease? Maybe they give Brett Gardner a chance, or they resign Xavier Nady?
Regardless, I can’t help but think Melky was the best option they had in the outfield
for this coming year, and as a spearhead of the team for the future. Not to mention,
he is/was a fan favorite at Yankee Stadium.

Jacoby Ellsbury

So what does this mean for the Red Sox? With the Yankees bolstering their rotation
further, it gives them a chance to turn Chamberlain or Hughes into a set-up man /
future closer. Getting someone like Vazquez gives them some more flexibility with
their rotation. When the Red Sox signed Cameron and Lackey, they increased their
defensive ability and improved their pitching staff to the point that it was potentially
better than the Yankees. Now, they could be considered equal, meaning the
Yankees have the upper hand with a strong offense. With Jason Bay now with
seemingly no market value, does Epstein put an offer of $60MM / 4 Years back on
the table? It’s obvious Bay is waiting for something from the Sox or another team,
because he clearly doesn’t want to play in Citi Field. And if Epstein was to resign
Bay, it gives him the flexibility to deal Ellsbury to the Padres. As much as I’d hate to
see Ellsbury go, if it means the added power of Bay and Gonzalez, I think I’d
get over it rather quickly. Maybe Vazquez going to the Yanks will push Theo to go
get both Bay and Adrian Gonzalez.

The suspense is killing me …

I Think I Need An Intervention

I can’t sleep tonight for some reason (I think it’s because Lowell has to go through
surgery, although minor 😦 I’ll have a shot of whiskey for ya this week, hun), so I
decided it would be an ideal time to maybe wrap some Christmas gifts and/or work on
a paper regarding String Theory.

Needless to say, the confines of the inter-web were more appealing than either of
those options, so here I am!

Anyway, the point of all this. I realized just now that I must be in baseball withdrawal.
How did I realize this, you ask? I was listening to iTunes, skipping over songs I didn’t
feel like listening to, and I eventually realized that I have been subconsciously
selecting only songs that are heard regularly at Fenway,  for weeks! Turns out, my 25 most-played songs are all either walk-up / entrance songs of current or former
players, or songs played in between innings. Is there a rehab center for that?

Here’s the list (in no particular order):

  1. Let it Rock – Kevin Rudolf ft. Lil’ Wayne (Jacoby Ellsbury)
  2. **** With Dre Day – Dr. Dre (Dustin Pedroia)
  3. Somos De Calle – Daddy Yankee (David Ortiz)
  4. Man in the Box – Alice in Chains (Kevin Youkilis)
  5. Alive – Pearl Jam (Jason Bay)
  6. Bombtrack – Rage Against the Machine (Mike Lowell)
  7. Kryptonite – 3 Doors Down (Jason Varitek)
  8. Living Hard – Gary Allan (Josh Beckett)
  9. Wild Thing – The Troggs (Jonathan Papelbon)
  10. Rebirthing – Skillet (Justin Masterson)
  11. Stranglehold – Ted Nugent (Daniel Bard)
  12. Rockstar – Nickelback (Josh Beckett)
  13. Stand Here with Me – Creed (Manny Delcarman)
  14. Stronger – Kanye West (Daisuke Matsuzaka)
  15. This is Why I’m Hot – MIMS (David Ortiz)
  16. Shipping up to Boson – Dropkick Murhpys (Jonathan Papelbon)
  17. How Bad do You Want it? – Tim McGraw (Tim Wakefield)
  18. Push It – Rick Ross (Kevin Youkilis)
  19. Cherub Rock – The Smashing Pumpkins (Jacoby Ellsbury)
  20. The Kids Aren’t Alright – The Offspring (Jed Lowrie)
  21. I Use what I Got – Jason Aldean (Jon Lester)
  22. Black Betty – Ram Jam (Mike Timlin)
  23. Tessie – Dropkick Murphys
  24. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
  25. Dirty Water – The Standells

Personally, I can’t wait to add some new music to my playlist in April! Who has a time
machine?

Lowell’s Thumb a Blessing in Disguise

Thumb Injury

Today’s physical in Arlington came up with a radial collateral ligament
tear
in Mike Lowell‘s right thumb. Some Red Sox fans feel this is a
bad situation, whereas others are jumping for joy now that Lowell is sticking around
in Boston. He is scheduled for surgery just after Christmas, and should be out for
6-8 weeks. In other words, he should be healthy for Spring Training, and while his
throwing programs may be halted, the rest of his training program should be able to
go on as per usual, preventing him from a long recovery. Personally, I see this as a
blessing in disguise, and this is my reasoning:

  1. Lowell comes back in Spring Training and gets traded some time into the
    year
    : If this happens, either we can make the trade for Max
    Ramirez
    again, as double jeopardy doesn’t apply in baseball, or Epstein
    could look to another team that needs a decent DH. His value should be higher if
    Boston will still front the bill and he has proven himself to be healthy. If Max
    Ramirez was indeed a potential trading piece for Adrian Gonzalez,
    Epstein will find another way to get the prospect, or he will rearrange his
    bargaining chips and find another way to Gonzalez.
  2. Mike Lowell

  3. Lowell comes back in Spring Training and stays with Boston for the entirety
    of the year, playing 3B
    : If this happens, Boston keeps the offensive
    power of Lowell, while sacrificing the speed he lost last year, and taking a risk with
    his rumored decrease in defensive ability (which could become increasingly more
    true if his hip gets any worse). With the increased defense on the left side thanks
    to Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron/Jacoby Ellsbury, it
    shouldn’t be TOO much of a problem for the team. Who knows, maybe he’ll pull
    the hidden ball trick out of his hat a couple times this season to make up for his
    lack of physical ability (he’s
    done it twice before
    , afterall).
  4. Lowell proves to be a liability in the field and sits on the bench: If
    this happens, either Casey Kotchman becomes an everyday starter at
    first and Lowell sits on the bench, or Epstein has to work out a trade for a decent
    corner infielder during the season. The best way to account for this is to find said
    corner infielder before the beginning of the season and make Lowell work for a
    starting spot. However, I’m happy with Kotchman as a defensive replacement if
    Lowell doesn’t work out, as his strong defense will solidify the infield.
  5. Lowell turns into a part-time player in the field: If this occurs,
    Lowell would play fewer games, meaning Kevin Youkilis would play 3B
    on occasion while either Kotchman or Victor Martinez would find more
    time at 1B, potentially meaning Jason Varitek could find more time behind
    the plate. While I don’t feel Varitek should be behind the plate any more than
    necessary, it’s not a terrible alternative if Lowell can’t play everyday anymore.
    Lowell could also be used off the bench as a pinch hitter in crucial situations,
    which we all know he tends to thrive in.
  6. Mike Lowell

  7. Lowell platoons with David Ortiz as the DH: It was proven
    last year that Ortiz sometimes has trouble with quality pitching nowadays, so why
    not sit Lowell on the bench and use him against certain starters, or LH pitchers?
    Platooning these two players gives you the most optimal DH situation every game,
    and leaves a power hitter on the bench in case you need that bat later on in a
    game. Also, with Lowell being a DH, you get the capability of platooning him at 3B
    whenever someone else needs a day off, while keeping him fresh as well.

In my mind, the only bad thing that can come from this is that you’re stick with a $12
Million man sitting on your bench and/or eating up a spot on your 25-Man Roster that
could be used for another arm in the bullpen or a more capable utility fielder.
Although, the 25-Man Roster can be altered throughout the season, and others will
almost definitely get injured, so it’s not really an issue.

As you can see, it’s win-win for everyone in Red Sox Nation.

Mike Lowell

Looking to 2011

With the signing of John Lackey and (potentially) Mike Cameron, I
can’t help but look to the future. Epstein always said he was building for the future,
and this is what it looks like for 2010:

With Adrian Gonzalez:

  1. CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 2B – Dustin Pedroia
  3. C – Victor Martinez
  4. 1B – Adrian Gonzalez
  5. 3B – Kevin Youkilis
  6. DH – David Ortiz
  7. RF – J.D. Drew
  8. LF – Mike Cameron/Jeremy Hermida
  9. SS – Marco Scutaro

Without Adrian Gonzalez:

  1. CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 2B – Dustin Pedroia
  3. C – Victor Martinez
  4. 1/3B – Kevin Youkilis
  5. DH – David Ortiz
  6. RF – J.D. Drew
  7. LF Mike Cameron/Jeremy Hermida
  8. 1/3B – Casey Kotchman (Adrian Beltre)
  9. SS – Marco Scutaro

That lineup looks significantly more powerful with Adrian Gonzalez in there. If
Adrian Beltre signs instead, you’re looking at something slightly different.
Either way, even if you keep it the way it is now, you’re looking at a team that can
support the superior pitching staff. World Series caliber? Maybe not. Our offense
probably can’t beat that of the Phillies or the Yankees, but when all is said and done,
adding Adrian Gonzalez means a Boston team that’s somewhat equal (on paper,
statistically, anyway) to the offensive numbers of the Yankee collective. Even if
Epstein deals Jacoby Ellsbury to San Diego with Clay Buchholz,
you’ve got a decent outfield of Drew/Hermida/Cameron, and if you add someone like
Xavier Nady to that mix, you’re looking at a great team with Adrian Gonzalez
spearheading it. Welcome to the playoffs.

Now, a look at the pitching staff.

With Adrian Gonzalez:

  1. SP – Josh Beckett
  2. SP – John Lackey
  3. SP – Jon Lester
  4. SP – Daisuke Matsuzaka
  5. SP – Tim Wakefield
  6. RP – Hideki Okajima
  7. RP – Ramon Ramirez
  8. RP – Ramon Ramirez (this is going to be a confusing year … )
  9. RP – Manny Delcarman
  10. RP – Boof Bonser (Or maybe Michael Bowden?)
  11. RP – Daniel Bard
  12. CL – Jonathan Papelbon

Without Adrian around you essentially have the same setup, except you see
Buchholz in the rotation and probably Wakefield in the ‘pen. Either way, arguably the
best staff in baseball. Where the bullpen lacks in depth, the starting rotation makes
up for in pure number of Aces. Three Number 1 guys and 2 interesting additions in
the back of the rotation equals quality starts more often than not, and a solid rotation
to help the relatively lacking offense.

Maybe 2010 is still the bridge year, though. It’s hard to imagine this when you add
over $30 Million in payroll, but hear me out.

Joe Mauer

The 2010 Free Agent market includes the likes of Joe Mauer, Carl
Crawford
, Cliff Lee (as he likely won’t sign an extension with Seattle),
and Brandon Webb. Epstein always preferred the 2010 market over the
2009 market, and he always said he was building up for it.

Brandon Webb

With Ortiz’s $13 Million coming off the books along with Victor Martinez’s $7.1 Million,
Beckett’s $12 Million and Varitek’s $3 Million, not to mention $19.5 Million owed to
Alex Gonzalez, Mike Lowell, Julio Lugo, and Billy Wagner, you’re looking at significant
money coming off the payroll.

In 2010, if you add Adrian Gonzalez, you’re
looking at a team payroll of about $150 Million. Upon the completion
of the season, it will drop to about $83 Million.

So what do you do in the 2010 offseason? You break the bank. You give contract
extensions to Beckett (who’s going to want a Lackey-like deal) and Martinez (who’s
going to want around $10 Million a year). After letting Ortiz and Varitek go, you go
out and sign Mauer (if you can pry him from Minnesota and the Yanks), Crawford (or
you trade for him during the 2010 season and sign him longterm), and either Lee
(who will want a Sabathia-like Contract) or Webb (who will want Lackey-like
terms).

Let’s run the figures again. 2011, pending all those moves, would bring the payroll
back up to between $160-$170 Million. Expensive, but look at that
potential Roster:

  1. SP – Cliff Lee (or Brandon Webb)
  2. SP – Josh Beckett
  3. SP – John Lackey
  4. SP – Jon Lester
  5. SP – Daisuke Matsuzaka
  6. CL – Jonathan Papelbon
  7. C – Joe Mauer
  8. 1B – Adrian Gonzalez
  9. 2B – Dustin Pedroia
  10. SS – Marco Scutaro
  11. 3B – Kevin Youkilis
  12. LF – Carl Crawford
  13. CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
  14. RF – J.D. Drew
  15. DH – Victor Martinez (keeps him fresh, but can give Mauer days off
    behind the plate without the team losing offense)
  16. RP – Daniel Bard
  17. RP – Tim Wakefield
  18. RP – Hideki Okajima
  19. RP – Manny Delcarman
  20. RP – Junichi Tazawa
  21. BC – Mark Wagner (Mostly a security policy in case the in-game
    catcher gets injured, so the DH doesn’t have to go behind the plate, making
    the pitcher have to hit)
  22. IF – Jose Iglesias (or Jed Lowrie if Iglesias isn’t ready for the
    bigs)
  23. IF – (Someone who can back up Youkilis at third)
  24. OF – Mike Cameron
  25. (Utility Fielder)

For $165 Million, if that can’t win a World Series, nothing can.

2007 World Series

2010 Lineup Full of Nobodies

  1. CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 2B – Dustin Pedroia
  3. C – Victor Martinez
  4. 3B – Kevin Youkilis
  5. DH – David Ortiz
  6. RF – J.D. Drew
  7. LF – Jeremy Hermida
  8. 1B – Casey Kotchman
  9. SS – Marco Scutaro

Looks a little weak, doesn’t it? No more Jason Bay, no more Mike
Lowell
. No more pop from the right side. Correction – no more pop. Period.
Good luck with Matt Holliday and Adrian Beltre, Theo … we all know
how well you work with Borasshole. Might as well just give up on both of those
players and treat this as the true bridge year you were talking about, because it
looks like Jeremy Hermida and Casey Kotchman are going to be our
starting fielders on opening day. Maybe if you’ve got some horseshoes up your ***
you’ll have an outside chance of competing for the Wild Card, but I wouldn’t count my
chickens.

Not to mention you blew it with Rich Harden – he offers the idea of playing on
a one year contract, and you let him go to Texas? You better have something big up
your sleeve coming after this Mike Lowell deal, or my head might explode.