Wednesday, September 30

Greatest Commentator Ever

For those of you who haven't checked this out on Mariners Blog yet, it is truly a can't miss. I mean, it's just unbelievable.

Doing it with Style

So they're in. After 5 straight losses (that last one is on Vicino) and a week of pitching concerns, the Sox clinched a playoff spot after a 5-2 Rangers loss. Which means baseball, truly the sport of averages, of evening out, will once again, as though 162 games were just meaningless forms, pit the Angels against the Sox to kick off October.

And I have to say, I might be going against the tide a bit here, but I like the way the Sox did it. I think the only way to describe them right now is to say they're playing with a sense of aristocratic ease.

Think about it. First, they allow others to do the work. They hardly lifted a finger the last week. I can say that for certain since I was about twenty yards away from them on Sunday, the only really close game of this stretch, and I'll bet you've never seen quite so many yawns out of a professional dugout. They sort of finished off this season like a British lord, stretched on a divan in a silk robe, with a snifter of brandy, watching the servants flit about in anticipation of a fox hunt or something. I liked it.

Second, they still got some style points. Last night in the 8th, they gave you a bit of flash, reminding you what pretty baseball they can play. But they made their point. To have actually won the game would have been ostentatious. It's like Cassius Clay knocking out Sonny Liston. That big bear of a man was swirling down toward the mat and Clay had his fist raised and could have pounded him into oblivion at any moment in that sequence, but it would have been superfluous, and for that reason philistine. He compared brushes to paint strokes. The Sox already had their 2009 masterpiece complete. No need to ruin it with a victory.

So I'm gonna stick with my gut on this one: the Sox are the class of the 2009 season. They do what's necessary, and they do it with a sense of aristocratic ease. And if they don't watch the hell out, they could get smacked with the business side of a proletarian revolution starting real soon.

Tuesday, September 29

My Bad

Let it be known throughout Red Sox Nation, tonight's terrible loss is on me, I take complete blame.

I had to do it, had to point out how unhittable Clay Buchholz has been, I believed I even used the phrase "Grienkie-like". I should have known better. Any Red Sox fan knows not to give a player, or their team too much credit, for fear of things getting screwed up...but I must not have listened well enough.

Clay Buchholz got absolutely shelled tonight. I'm pretty sure one of Toronto's taters actually hit my apartment building. Every single out was loud from a Jays team that is bashing the ball like the 2008 ALCS Rays all of sudden. Buchholz's velocity seemed down from the beginning, and all of his breaking stuff was catching too much of the plate. None of that mattered, after reading my previous ITM post calling him the second half team MVP, he never had a chance.

One bad start certainly doesn't label Buchholz as unreliable come playoff time, but it continues a concerning trend surrounding the Sox front line pitchers.

The Sox have now lost 5 straight while defining the term "backing into the playoffs". I almost hope the Rangers win later on tonight, so the Sox can earn it on their home field tomorrow night.

Sleep well Red Sox Nation, sleep well.

Monday, September 28

Joe Morgan is a Mental Midget...

It's tough to blog about much from this weekend. The Sox didn't put up much of a fight as the Yankees clinched the AL East. In fact, I was somewhat emotionless during the series....that is until I read what Joe Morgan had to say about possible ALDS pitching situations (thanks to JoyofSox for the Morgan quote):

According to Joe.......

"Jon, a lot of mystery surrounds both teams here as we approach the playoffs. ... When we talk about who's going to start the playoffs for these teams. You ask the Yankees, we know Sabathia is going to start the first game; we do not know who's going to start the second game.
And for the Red Sox, we know Beckett will start the first game, but we do not know what's the condition of Jon Lester's knee or who's going to start the second game there, because of -- you know, Tim Wakefield is struggling, you know, with back problems and back issues....
and then you go to the Yankees, you don't know if they want Pettitte out there because of his experience or are they going to go with A.J. Burnett?We don't know if they are going to take the longer series, so they don't need but three starters as opposed to four if you take the short series, so it's amazing what has been decided after this long a season but what hasn't been decided about this pitching."

There are so many things wrong with this I can't, and won't, go into them all, but how do you forget about my main man Buchholz? know, the guy that has been comparable to Grienke the last few months? And did he not get the "Lester is starting game one" memo the rest of us received (ITM note: while it's not official yet, it's about the worst kept secret in the Red Sox organization right now). If he read any kind of media....even ITM, he would know that Lester was not hit in the knee and is going to BE FINE. And Tim Wakefield!? Really? The man can hardly walk and needs surgery ASAP.

Can someone at ESPN put us all out of our collective misery and can this guy? Or at least toss him down the stairs to get him on long term disability? Honestly, I could come up with a post like this after every game I hear him call. I get dummer just by listening to him. I'm pretty confident that Keyshawn Johnson, Charles Barkely, and Deon Sanders bring more value to their respective games than Morgan...not an easy thing to accomplish. As fellow ITM writer Joe Murph put it: "I'm pretty sure he stopped watching baseball years ago."

Thank you Joe, for turning an emotionless weekend into a hate-filled rant.

Friday, September 25

Boston's Second Half MVP

Three months ago, I'm sure Clay Buchholz didn't know which way was up. He had been mowing down minor leaguers while watching John Smoltz and Brad Penny struggle (for the most part) at the major league level. He knew he could be effective in the bigs, and other teams did too, which is why at the trade deadline he was one of the most coveted arms on the board.....

THANK GOD, Theo and company kept the asking price for Buchholz at an unreasonable level. You can point to Theo's failures this year (namely Smoltz and Penny), but you have to look at what a difference his in-season moves have made for this ballclub. V-Mart has lifted the offense out of the doldrums, and Gonzo has solidified the end of the lineup while contributing his masterful defense up the middle. The real prize however, was the deal that Theo didn't make. Keeping Buchholz close to his chest has paid the highest dividends, not only for this season, but perhaps in the long haul as well.

At the end of last year, his confidence had been defeated and character questioned, but Clay Buchholz has shoved it all back in everyone's face. I will freely admit that I was one of the many who was willing to deal Clay back in July. I was ready to accept dealing "potential young talent" for a "proven big league arm" or a "middle of the order bat".....turns out Theo got us both without dealing Clay at all.

The sample size may be somewhat limited, but what this kid has done over the last two months has exceeded every one's expectations. I don't care what you say, you didn't know he was going to be this good. His confidence is through the roof, teams have a limited book on him, and hitters are continually frozen by a change up that comes at you with the same exact motion as his mid 90's fastball. The Sox are 7-0 in his last 7 starts, he has the lowest ERA on the staff (3.21 (1.38 in September)), and if you back out two clunker games that appear to be exceptions to the rule, his numbers would be Grienke-like.

If you think about the second half MVP for this Red Sox team, many would point to J-Bay, V-Mart, or even Ortiz (leading the league in taters since early July), but the right answer is Buchholz. A 25 year old pitcher who has shown the entire league that he is far more than a flash in the pan arm who threw a no hitter only to never recover. Will he keep this up? Tough to tell. Odds are he'll come back to earth a little. Regardless, the consistency he's shown has put the league on notice: right now, the Sox have the best 1-2-3 combination in baseball, and they're ready for October.

Wednesday, September 23

Where Credit is Due

Okay, so ITM stalled yesterday, but really it shouldn't go unmentioned, even though we all know it already. The Yankees clinched a playoff appearance Tuesday night with the Texas loss. Hopefully you were aware of the scenario and didn't just wake up this morning to catch a glimpse of that nasty little "z" that sprouted up over night in the standings box like a malignant mole. But there it is nonetheless. So congrats go out from ITM. It was an impressive season for the Pinstripes.

But, that doesn't mean the focus of this post won't be the questions swirling in the Bronx. If I have to spend my week hearing about the Marks (Sanchez and Texeira), I'm allowed to push back a little.

And the big issue is still pitching. Even though the Yanks have held their own in Los Angeles / Anaheim, and although run production and hitting with RISP has been down over the last month, the city is still fretting over the arms. They got some relief the other night when Andy Pettitte came back with a solid performance. But as they get nearer to clinching the league's best record, the focus is more and more on Joba Chamberlain.

After the most recent shallacking, even Joe Girardi is vocally underwhelmed, and sounds like anything but a man prepared to put his playoff success (and therefore his future with the organization) into the kid's hands. The Yankees now look all but certain to take the three-man rotation ALDS series, throwing CC, AJ, and Pettitte. But don't think they're too happy about that second option: Burnett hasn't gotten a win since August 7th in Boston and he seems icnreasingly to buckle with runners on base.

Also, Pettitte isn't the only recent injury concern: David Robertson, the 24 year old righty the Yankees have been using behind Phil Hughes, has been out with stiffness for almost two weeks now. He threw a 20 pitch session yesterday and is reportedly healthy, but the timetable is unclear. The bullpen should be significantly shored with the addition of Joba, but that brings us to the last concern:

Are the Yankees really going to throw Joba in relief in the ALDS, then ask him to start Game 4 of the ALCS? Is this the same guy to whom they were scared to give an extra off day between starts earlier in the season because it threw him out of whack? But he's going to make that seamless transition in October? And when he starts, he's going to go double the innings he's been asked to give since the All-Star break?

Phew, I'm glad I got that off my chest. And now that I did, let's admit that this post was really about three things: 1) a knee-jerk response to a hell of a strong season from the Yankees; 2) somewhat legitimate pitching conerns; and 3) the fact that I'm still scared to death of Daisuke even touching a baseball in October and Josh Beckett's September 2009 Tom Brady impression. And what about Manny Delcarmen? Who's gonna bridge the gap to Wagner? Do you trust Ramirez? Okay, breathe, breathe, it's September. Save some hyperventilating for October.

Jennifer, You Had Me At Jacoby...

We'll give you a pass on mixing up Alex Gonzalez and Victor Martinez a little....especially since you got all of the positions correct.....and because of that dress. Good work Ben.

Tuesday, September 22

A Quick Salute to Tazawa

I'm pretty sure I just learned how to properly pronounce Junichi Tazawa's name about two weeks ago. Just in time to learn the rookie pitcher from the Japanese Industrial League was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a left groin strain.

Honestly, I think Tazawa deserves a Boston salute (no, not the middle finger) for his out of the blue surprising service this season. Coming into the year, little was known about the 22 year old, most knew he had some potential, but never expected to see him dominate the minors and certainly not produce multiple quality starts in the bigs. Sure, his numbers in the majors don't look impressive (7.46 era), but they're incredibly inflated due to a few bad starts that bookended many productive and significant outings in between.

Tazawa helped keep the Red Sox rotation afloat during their darkest hours in August, a part of the season that should not be overlooked. Keeping in mind he was lights out in Portland and Pawtucket (sub 2.50 ERA), he's likely to show up in spring training next year feeling like he can contribute to the major league club yet again.

....and good thing for spell check, I may be able to pronounce his name, but I spell it differently every time.

Greinke tonight, should be a great game for baseball fans who never get to see this stud pitch. Go Sox.

Sunday, September 20

Don't Look Now...

The Red Sox pitching staff is shaping into playoff form at the exact right time, meanwhile, the Yankees are struggling to find playoff-ready pitchers.

The Sox won again today, 9-3 over the god-awful Orioles. Dice-K continued his journey back to 2007 form with a strong outing. Meanwhile, on the West coast, the Yanks got pummelled by Seattle 7-1. The Joba experiment was dealt another blow today as the hurler was shelled for 7 earned runs over just three innings.

So don't look now, but the Red Sox are arguably the hottest team in baseball, the AL Wildcard is in the bag, and the Yanks are struggling to find any consistency. As a result, the Sox sit only 4 games back in the loss column. With the Yanks moving on to face the Angels in So Cal, and the Sox still on their schedule for three games this upcoming weekend, the possibility is there....I'm not expecting it....but, I'm just saying, it's there.

Now I've had multiple conversations with the other ITM writers about the AL East, and they continue to tell me to calm down, we don't need the division, let's get our pitching in order. And while I'm in agreement with them, there is a big part of me that still wants the East, not at the expense of our playoff potential, but still, I want it. I'm just saying...

Friday, September 18

Late September, Sox Win, Life Good

A good start to a long trip. Those first few miles of highway always seem to set the tone, and the Sox put them happily in the rearview with an efficient 3-1 win. Young Buchholz continued his progress, improving to 6-3 on the season, going six strong and giving up only 5 hits and one run, a hanging change to Luke "I've hit how many home runs?" Scott. Tonight marked Buchh's fourth win in five tries. During that stretch of five games, he's thrown 34 and 1/3 innings and given up only 6 earned runs. If that's not a case for the third playoff start, I don't know what is.

The Sox just seem to click in Baltimore - despite lingering under .500 on the road, they're 6 for 7 at the Inner Harbor. Tonight they only got three runs on the board, but they pieced together eleven hits and seemed in control on offense throughout the night. No surprise that it happened in Baltimore - Camden has uncrowned Coors Field this season for the highest stadium batting average, coming in at a cool .288 (Angels Stadium is 2nd at .282, followed by Kauffman and Coors tied at .277).

Jacoby and Kotchman provided much of the evening's firepower, along with a home run from Jason Bay, who swung his bat like it was a hot potato. Seriously, one second it was on his shoulder, the next it was halfway flung to the dugout and the ball was sailing into the bleachers. (A personal aside - I've watched many games from the Camden bleachers, but by far the best moment was when I offered my then-girlfriend to warming reliever Rich Garces, if only he would get three outs. El Guapo, as only El Guapo could, looked her over, opened the gate, turned back, shrugged, and hollered "okay." I rushed her to the train after, looking over my shoulder all that week.) Bay later left the game with flu-like symptoms, meaning no more crab cakes before tomorrow's games.

All in all another chilly victory. Someone should measure the correlation between cool-evening baseball and life happiness. Right now I'm thinking the numbers are gonna be off the charts. Another month or so of this and I might just be ready for the first three quarters of Patriots football and some Rasheed Wallace antics. I'll be a calm man. Autumn baseball is just good for the soul.

The Annual Red Sox Rookie Hazing

I have to admit, I love rookie hazing. From wearing tiny pink back packs to forcing foreign players who speak no English to dress up like Dorthy from The Wizzard of Ozz, it just never gets old for me.

The annual ritual appears to be getting more and more creative as the years go by, probably because Dusty is the one thinking of how to embarrass these rookies the most. This year's theme was "The Wizard of Oz.", in addition to Tazarwa as Dorthy, Josh Reddick dressed as Glinda the Good Witch, Dusty Brown could barely fit in his Scarecrow costume, which made it even more funny. Daniel Bard enjoyed his role as the Cowardly Lion...maybe a little too much. Michael Bowden took on the role as the Tin Man. Jed Lowrie was the Wicked Witch of the West. Since Lowrie doesn't have one full year of big league experience, he was forced to dress up again this year, you may remember that last year he was a character from the "High School Musical" series.

I can't imagine the horrible, horrible things Pedey is saying to these guys and making them do. I'm going to do some digging to find out what Dusty was forced to wear/do a few years back when he broke into the bigs.

Click here to head over to for more pictures and video.

Go Sox.

Wednesday, September 16

The Dominance Continues....

Anyone who watched the game tonight knows one thing for sure, the Halos are cursed. There is simply no other way to explain it. They just can't beat the Red Sox, especially at Fenway, it's jut not their destiny.

The Sox did everything in their power to lose tonight's game, instead, Anaheim (and the umpires) gave it right back to them, allowing two separate comebacks that had me screaming like a 12 year old girl.

First the Pats on Monday night, and now the Sox, someone is surely on Boston's side as we've pulled off getting W's in games we had no reason winning.

Anaheim fans have every reason to be upset, the ball 4 call to Nick Green was undoubtedly a strike, especially considering the situation. Name me one other time in recent memory when an ump hasn't rung up a guy to end a game on a pitch that close? Perhaps the ump fell to the pressure of 38,000 screaming Red Sox fans, either way, the Angels just can't close out the Sox.

I'm wondering if Anaheim will even bother showing up against Boston if the standings hold and they meet in the ALDS (totally kidding here, but you can't help but think we're totally in their heads).

So the Red Sox technically now own the 2nd best record in baseball, with only 58 losses. They've rolled off 7 straight wins at the perfect time and have rendered the faltering Rangers effectively insignificant. All that makes it easy to go to bed with a smile on my face tonight

Monday, September 14

A Look at the Schedule

The time has come again to take a look at the calendar, ITM's favorite offday (sort of, with Foxboro filling in) activity. Three weeks of regular season to go. Approximately 20 games. For the first time, we're talking very finite, digestible numbers. Even slight variations in schedule can have a big, big impact this time of year.

The Sox have two gnarly looking series in front of them in the coming week or so. First, as we know well, the Sox have the Angels at home for a 3 game set. The Sox will also have to go to New York to play the Yankees for 3 starting on September 25th. Outside of those series, however, the Sox will not play a team with a winning percentage over .451 (Toronto; next best being Cleveland, at .431).

The Rangers, on the other hand, have a tougher road ahead, at least on paper. Texas will play host to the LA Angels later in the week. That won't be it, though, between the Rangers and the second-best team in baseball. The Rangers have to go to LA on September 28th for a 4 game set. That's part of a brutal West Coast swing that finishes out the season. Before the LA series, the Rangers will be in Oakland. They'll then travel halfway across the country to face the Rays in Arlington, only to return right away for that Angels series. There are no travel days allotted. The games are back-to-back. After leaving LA, the Rangers then trek up the coast to Seattle to face a surging Mariners squad to close the season.

Now we all know that calendar prognosticating is about as reliable as tea leaves. The Sox could very easily stumble on the road - they have seven games of travel immediately before playing the Yankees in New York. And the fact that those seven games are against Kansas City and Baltimore doesn't necessarily mean anything. September plays funny tricks. Pitching gives out. New kids come up to teams like the Orioles and the Royals with something to prove.

But you can't help feeling that the schedule edge goes to the Red Sox at this point. And just in case you were too caught up in the Pats comeback to notice - the Rangers just got creamed by Oakland, losing 9-0. That's 4.5 games back in the Wild Card. The Sox have got to take advantage of whatever they're offered.

Should I Pump the Breaks on my Excitement?

Just a quick post here on something I'll be struggling with all I too excited about the current state of the Red Sox?

Sure a 4 game wild card lead coupled with the return of Tom Brady and the Patriots has my tail wagging, but for some reason, I'm feeling the kind of confidence in this Red Sox team that gets me nervous.

This weekend, the entire league saw what they may have to deal with once the playoffs come around. Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz....Judging from Beckett's 5 inning performance Saturday night, we know he's not hurt. We're also well aware of his post season resume.

Sure the Rays are sinking faster than any team in history, save for the Mets (pick a year), and I'm still not 100 percent sold on Beckett being "back", but I gotta believe no team wants to face Boston in October right now.

If Beckett's previous struggles are any kind of question mark, then Jon Lester is the answer. 17 innings straight without allowing a run, on the absolute top of his game. I don't care what fat boy CC's record is in NY, Lester is the top lefty in the game right now. Write that down.

As if the idea of a healthy and on point Beckett/Lester 1-2 combination doesn't get you pumped for a playoff series, enter Clay Buchholz. Yes, there are a lot of unknowns here, but the fact of the matter is he's looked as good as anyone (save for Jonny on the Spot) over his past 4 starts. Consistent confidence and command is something we've been waiting for from Buchholz in the majors, and he appears to have it at the right time. The talent is there, if his confidence continues to snowball, lookout.

So the Dice-K start tomorrow night will likely come with a lot of hype, I'm sure excited. However, this team will be carried to and through the post season on the back of its starting pitching. Right now, you have to be excited about their chances.

Sunday, September 13

5 Innings, a W, and a Reminder

If you take a read through the Boston media after last night's 5 inning, rain-soaked victory, you would think Josh Beckett tossed a complete game 1 hitter, striking out 14. While I'm excited about Beckett's improved performance, I'm not ready to label him "back". In fact, in my opinion, the biggest takeaway from last night's game may not have even been my mind, it was Gonzo....and his reminder to his all.

The defensive wizz at short stop continues to rake in a Boston uniform....hitting about .100 points higher than any Boston short stop in recent memory. Currently, he's hitting .295 with the Sox, has smashed 4 taters (one more than he had all season with the Reds), and knocked in 11 runs from the number 9 spot in the order. No longer do pitchers look at the bottom of this lineup and consider it comparable to one from the NL Central.....and absolutely none of it has to do with Tek.

Gonzo has deepened an already deep lineup, something he wasn't exactly brought in here to do. And oh yeah, he's solidified a defense that has been in the bottom third of the league all year.

That being said, I'm still extremely confused by the questions surrounding who will play short stop for the 2010 Red Sox. You have your answer, he's right in front of you.....pick up his 6 million dollar option, end the questions, and provide a little clarity for a 2010 team that currently has question marks all over the field (think about it, the only positional definites are Pedey, JD, and Jacoby.....especially since we don't know what position Youk or VMart will be playing).

Maybe it's all a ploy and they have every intention on signing Gonzo....or maybe management doesn't like the fact that he's had 88 at bats here in Boston and has yet to walk once. I can see Theo shaking his head from here.

The Sox padded their wild card lead to three games last night, the Yanks lost, there is a double header today, and it's the first Sunday of the NFL season......all good reasons for me not to do any homework today....

Go Sox.

Friday, September 11

Rainout Implications....Or Lack There Of..

Mr. Studly himself, Jon Lester, will get a day off tomorrow after throwing 23 pitches in the first inning of today's postponed game. Game 2 of the day-night doubleheader on Sunday afternoon is scheduled for 5:05pm. Lester will be opposed by James "big game" Shields, the same pitcher he was scheduled to face before today's game was called due to light mist in the top of the first.

The "playoff ace" Josh Beckett, will take the bump tomorrow against Wade Davis (who?). Clay Buchholz , and his masterful changeup, will now start game 1 on Sunday at noon against Ray's righthander Matt Garza in what should be a great matchup.

So in reality, this rain out means nothing in the grand scheme of things. The Sox will still run out their top three pitchers against a Tampa team that is both injured and morally defeated. Anything less than winning two out of three would be a severe let down.

The Sox remain two games ahead of the overachieving Texas Rangers for the AL Wildcard as the Rangers were also rained out tonight.

Four important September baseball games and a Patriots season opener over the course of 4 days, priceless....Go Boston.

Wednesday, September 9

Dice-K: Coming to a Rotation Near You

In what was perhaps the most anticipated class A start in recent memory, Dice-K threw 89 pitches over 6 2/3 innings for the Salem Red Sox earlier tonight against Winston-Salem....essentially a good division three college team. He gave up one earned run and a walk while striking out seven. While the competition is surely questionable, the significant amount of swings and misses, while commanding his strike zone is a key takeaway.

After providing the details of his start, NESN went on to report that it was called his last rehab expect Dice-K to start in what will likely be a very meaningful game for the Sox....most likely a home game against the Halos early next week.

Maybe it's the time away, or perhaps it's just the utter shambles that is the current stat of the back end of the Sox rotation, but I for one am really excited for Dice-K's return. Stay tuned for a version of ITM throwing Dice-K under the bus if he gets shelled.

ITM note: how is this Ranger team still winning? Don't they know how much they're overachieving, and that on paper, they're just not that good?

Looking Ahead, Joba foils Sox again

A few quick, premature thoughts on playoff possibilities. More specifically, the pitching concerns that are getting harder and harder not to address.

Word coming out of New York today is that the Yankees currently favor moving Joba into the bullpen. For the remainder of the season and, potentially, the playoffs. After last night's game, Girardi told reporters: "There's two different divisional series. In one, you need three starters and in one you need four. I'll leave it at that." Joba's last start came on September 4th, where he was pulled after giving up three runs on six hits in three innings. The new Joba rules appear to restrict him to three or four innings per start. Presumably, if he starts in the playoffs, the gloves will come off. But based on his performance since the re-implementation of the Joba rules, it's unclear whether the Yankees want to rely on him for anything quite so important.

That's particularly significant to Sox fans for this reason - the Yankees look more and more to be a lock for the best record in the AL (5 games up on the Angels for the moment). Given the choice, it looks like they're going with the three-man rotation ALDS. That means that if the Sox can get the Wild Card, they'll be in the four-man rotation series. So we can all congratulate Clay Buchholz on locking down that third spot, but it's just not going to be that easy. The Sox will need a 4th starter for the playoffs.

Paul Byrd goes against the Orioles tonight. It's a start to watch, for both short and long-term reasons. Is he going to earn that fourth spot? Are the Sox going to look to Daisuke? A weakened Wakefield? More questions than answers, but more and more, it looks like New York is going to require that the Sox come up with a solution.

Tuesday, September 8

In Game Post: Sox Sign Cuban Shortstop

The Sox have jumped out early on the O's tonight, but a bigger story in my mind is the breaking announcement of the signing of Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias to a four-year Major-League contract. The contract is set to begin in 2010, and the Sox added the shortstop to the 40-man roster. The deal is reportedly for $8.25 million.

Iglesias is considered an elite defender, having drawn some scouting comparisons to Ozzie Smith, perhaps minus the back flips. In typical Red Sox fashion, there are questions about his offensive ability.

This following information and quotes are from a Full Count post on the Red Sox’ international amateur shortstop signees in July:
(Iglesias) is considered a very athletic player with good speed who plays dazzling dazzling defense. Even so, there are questions about his ability to hit enough to justify an investment along the lines of the Sox’ rumored offer. He has shown little power in his Cuban career, though he was very young for the competition while playing in the Cuban National Series.

Dayan Viciedo, a 19-year-old power hitting third baseman whom the White Sox signed to a four-year, $11 million deal out of Cuba this offseason, played in several international tournaments with Iglesias. At the Futures Game in St. Louis, Viciedo offered the following scouting report on his former teammate and countryman:

“He’s a very good fielder in particular. You can put him anywhere,” said Viciedo. “He can play third, short and second. He’s a very good player.”

Asked about Iglesias’ hitting, Viciedo paused to consider his answer. “He defends himself,” said Viciedo.

Iglesias defected while playing at a tournament in Canada last August.

That said, one international scout for an American League club suggested that his team, like the Sox, believed that Iglesias might have legitimate offensive ability. The scout suggested that Iglesias has the hand-eye coordination that could project to make him a viable No. 2 hitter.

Iglesias, 19, is slated to play for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League beginning in October. He played 75 games for los Vaqueros de La Habana of Cuba’s major league Serie Nacional during the 2007-08 season, batting .322 (101-for-314) with 11 doubles, four triples, 39 RBI, 51 runs scored and 17 walks. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Iglesias was 17 years old when that season began. A right-handed hitter, he posted a .329 (81-for-246) average against right-handed pitching. A native of Havana, Cuba, Iglesias established residency in the Dominican Republic before signing with the Red Sox.

Just another reason to be excited about the future of the Boston Red Sox. Here's hoping they can keep me excited about the 2009 playoffs with a win tonight.

Sunday, September 6

A Few Post Game Thoughts....

(AP photo)

Fortunately for me, because of a weekend wedding I missed the previous two Sox games, text messages from the other ITM writers assured me it was bad, real bad, so I guess I shouldn't complain. It felt like I hadn't watched a Sox game in a month, so today was a great afternoon of baseball. Here are some general takeaways:

-Jon Lester: The most consistent pitcher on the staff this year tossed another gem. After going 7 solid innings, not allowing a run and striking out 8, he admitted he didn't have his best stuff. "Today was a battle, not only with their good-hitting lineup, but with myself," he said. "I was trying to do maybe a little bit too much at times and not staying within myself. I got myself into some trouble, but made some pitches when I had to." Man, if I put my dirty clothes in the laundry basket my wife considers the day a about hard on himself.

-The Ace: I know calling Lester the "co-ace" or even the "current ace" is disrespectful to Beckett, but if he keeps giving up 8 taters a game, and the big lefty continues his domination, how much longer can that really be offensive? (My general conclusion is until Lester outperforms Beckett in the playoffs, but who knows).

-Pedroia and Papi: Unfortunately for me, I have both of these players on my fantasy team....and considering I was fighting for a playoff spot this week, they officially sank my battleship. Pedey made an unbelievable play in the field early on today, but neither the big lefty, or the tiny righty have been able to get anything going at the plate. Good thing for them, Jacoby and V-Mart have picked up the slack.

-Speaking of V-Mart.....Are any of his hits ever of the insignificant variety? Joe Murph and I were talking about it the other day, every time the Sox are in need of a timely hit, V-Mart seems to be walking up to the plate, and he gets it done. Man love.

-Alex Rios: It's been tough to figure out the Whitesox and their recent moves...but a real disappointment has to be Alex Rios. Granted, he has been having a down season all year, but there were a lot of people out there who expected a change of scenery would jump start Rios and his quiet bat. That certainly hasn't been the case however as he has gone 4-for-46 over his last 12 games and continues to bat in the 8th spot with an average below .250. (ITM note: again, unfortunately for me, he is on my fantasy team, not a starter, but on the team's bad for the "Roger Dorn's Revenge" clubhouse).

-The Wildcard: The Rangers can't seem to solve the Orioles, losing again today and sliding 3 games behind the Sox in the wildcard standings. There is something mentally comforting about being 3 games up on a team instead of 2, I'm not sure what it is, but it's a big number for me. And you can forget about the Rays, they're out the picture, especially with their difficult upcoming schedule. Joe Maddan can die his hair fluorescent green if he wants, I'm calling it, they're donski.

And oh yeah, the Yanks lost today too. Good day all around. Go Sox.

Friday, September 4

Meet the Mets!

Regardless what the final fate of the 2009 Boston Red Sox is at least we can hang our hats on the fact that they are not the New York Mets. That is not a dig on the Mets or their fans, okay it kind of is, but this was too good not to pass along.

The Wall Street Journal took the time to put together a Monopoly board detailing the tragedy that is the 2009 New York Mets, entitled Metssloppily. By far my favorite is the Money for Nothing on the right hand side of the board where we discover the Mets will pay Bobby Bonilla $1.1 in deferred salary from 2011-2035 totaling just under 22 million dollars if my math is correct, and it's probably not.

Mets fans will lay awake at night knowing they will live in the shadows of The Curse of Bobby Bonilla until at least 2035, possibly longer if the final figures of the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme are ever revealed.

Let me finally say that I will be first in line to buy the 2009 New York Mets DVD when it's released in stores, probably titled, The 2009 NY Mets, at Least They Weren't the Jets. The DVD is essentially going to be a 1 hour and 30 minute long blooper reel.

Wednesday, September 2

In a word; Studly

I couldn't pass up posting these videos. Not only has Jacoby been flashing some amazing leather out in centerfield, he's been getting it done at the plate too. Save for T Murph's boy JD Drew, Jacoby is the hottest hitter on a team that is chalk full of guys swinging the bat well right now. There is something to be said for his season-long consistency as well.....

The gift that keeps on giving....

Beckett vs Garza tonight in what should be a great game. Too bad only 8 or 9 people will show up to the stadium to watch it. Go Sox.

Sox set the tone....and don't allow a SB?

Just a quick morning post about something I didn't pick up on after last night's game....stolen bases. Tampa, who was dominated by both Jacoby's defense and Papelpon's fastball in the late innings, failed to steal a base against the Sox last night.

This has to be a first right? I mean, they stole like 23 bases against us in a game earlier this year didn't they? Maybe that by itself is the immediate impact of getting rid of Brad Penny. Thanks Brad, but if you start throwing gems and holding runners on in San Fran, I'm going to bash you.

Not only did the Rays not steal a base, but their fans didn't turn out for the most important game of the year for Tampa thus far. Only a little over 17 thousand decided to go and watch a great baseball game. No wonder why they shipped Kazmir out of town, they'll need to start charging 20 bucks a beer to keep their 65 million dollar payroll at this rate. The kids go back to school and no one shows up, simple as that (then again the Rays are 12th in the AL in attendance anyways).

The Sox turn to Beckett tonight in what is a must win game for Tampa. With Papelbon and Wagner both likely unavailiable tonight, the ace will need to go deep into the game.

So the Sox have set the tone. Tito showed last night, by going to Papelbon for a 6 out save (something he's never done), that he wants to eliminate the Rays in this series. Maybe a few stolen bases and a thousand more fans will keep the Tampa's season alive tonight.

Tuesday, September 1

Game On (Not the Overpriced Bar Outside Fenway)

The Red Sox begin a 3 game series with the Tampa Bay Rays tonight which is arguably their biggest series of the 2009 season. As each series comes and goes we'll probably say that another 4-5 times, but that doesn't make it any less true today.

The Sox have a 4 game lead in the Wild Card over the Rangers and they are up 5 on the Rays. This series gives them the opportunity to knock the Rays out, or let them right back in the race. Winning 2 out of 3 in Tampa, a place that has been very unkind to the Sox the last 2 years (1-5 this year), would leave the Rays 6 games back with a month of baseball left and all but out of the playoffs.

The Sox will start on the right foot with lefty stud Jon Lester on the mound tonight, the Rays counter with Andy Sonnanstine. Sonnanstine has had good success against the Sox in the past, same for tomorrow nights' starter Matt Garza. Ok Garza pretty much owns the Sox, but Beckett did beat him (not sure if Garza took the L in that game) earlier this season on Sunday night baseball.

Thursday night will feature what both teams hope is an aces of the future match up as Buchholz squares off against David Price. Neither of these guys have lived up to the expectations as the next big thing, but they are still young. Buchholz looked great against the Blue Jays, and I am very curious to see how he deals with the noise at the Trop if he gets into some trouble. Buchholz seems like he either cruises through a game with very little trouble, or the wheels shoot off in 4 different directions and he lights the bullpen on fire before leaving in the 5th inning after getting rocked.

In the beginning of the season I picked the Sox to win the division and the Rays to win the Wild Card, today it doesn't look like either of those outcomes are likely. The Ray's never really seem to hit their stride this year. We asked RaysAllDay blogger Devon Rogers about this years Rays and he offered the following:

"As for the fire, IMO, the Rays do not have the same fire. They lost some key guys in the clubhouse like Cliff Floyd, Jonny Gomes, and Eric Hinske, who didn't necessarily provide much on the field, but were great for the clubhouse. The Rays did not bring in anyone that has lit that fire from last year. They thought Pat Burrell would be that guy in the clubhouse and produce big numbers, but it hasn't worked out that way."

The Rays always have the fire when they play the Sox, but it's interesting that they haven't been able to replicate last year’s success. Sox fans can attest to this, no team will ever be like the 2004 team championship team (see the 2005 edition of the Sox).

After trading long time ace Scott Kazmir to the Angels we'll see what kind of fire the Rays play with. Kazmir was a well liked teammate and apparently that deal was not a popular one in the clubhouse. Although the Rays received two young and highly valued prospects, the move was largely seen as a way to cut Salary; Carl Crawford and Akinori Iwamura are free agents after the season.

The dog days of August are behind us, it's now September. There is one month of baseball left to decide who plays this fall and who his the links. Game on!

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