Monday, April 06, 2009

Batter up: Boston Red Sox

It's that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a team who you know fully well won't win. In honour of an popular Internet meme, we're presenting lists of 25 things tangentially about each Major League Baseball team. At bat: The Boston Red Sox.
  1. Clay Buchholz, who threw a no-hitter in 2007, didn't even make the team. Their pitching staff is pretty loaded.

  2. They're projected to score the most runs in the American League. They have eight solid hitters (and then there's 'Tek. And then there's 'Tek!). They're not a consensus pick to beat the Cubs in the World Series for nothing.

  3. First baseman Kevin Youkilis actually batted more in the cleanup spot than anywhere else in the lineup last season. He hit .299/.399/.569 batting fourth, pretty on par with his season averages.

  4. Jon Lester is could be viewed as the ace by the end of this season than Josh Beckett, but there's not much drop-off between the pair of them.

  5. Daisuke Matzusaka has a lot of pitches and you will see all of them, usually by the end of the first inning. He doesn't work deep into games, but that's half his charm.

  6. Shortstop Jed Lowrie (.258/.339/.400 in '08) is a big X factor for this season, although he's probably not going to be hitting like a superstar. At third, Mike Lowell is coming off an injury-marred year (he OPS-plused 103, which is adequate).

  7. Leftfielder Jason Bay's first minor-league manager when he was in the farm system of a team which no longer exists was Ottawa resident Tim Leiper, how about that?
    "Leiper still never has seen anyone, from the minors or majors, so utterly destroy spring training pitching.

    "... The Expos, at Leiper's urging, decided Bay would begin his career with a high-A affiliate in Jupiter, Fla." — Adam Kilbore, Boston Globe
  8. Jose Canseco is linking former Sawx slugger Manny Ramírez to steroid use. Of course, it's dirty pool to put that in the Red Sox preview just because they both played in Boston, but not at the same time.

  9. Ten of the 25 players on the Opening Day roster were born outside the continental United States: Three in Japan, two in Canada, two in the Dominican Republic, two in Puerto Rico and one in Jamaica.

    The Red Sox do not have a black player born in the U.S., notwithstanding whoever the player is on utilityman Nick Green's Yahoo! Sports page. That's not a reflection on the organization, as much as some people would like it to be ... the sport is getting more international all the time.

  10. Canadian George Kottaras made the team as the designated Tim Wakefield wrangler. He caught another knuckleballer, Charlie Zink, all last season in Pawtucket.

    The best way to catch a knuckleball, as Bob Uecker once said, is wait for it to stop rolling and pick it up.

  11. The team that used to be famous for plodding baserunners (see, Rice, Jim, Game 6, 1986 World Series) had a 77.4% stolen-base success rate last season, second-best to the Oakland Athletics . Even if Jacoby Ellsbury (50-for-61 to lead the American League) is factored out, they were still successful almost three times out of four.

  12. He seems to personify what makes Boston teams insufferable, but it's hard to completely hate second baseman Dustin Pedroia. He was the first middle infielder since Zoilo Versalles in 1965 to be elected American League MVP while hitting less than 30 home runs. Players with a balanced skill set have been traditionally overlooked in MVP voting, so it's good it's changing.

  13. The bullpen was a trouble spot at times in '08. Sidearmer Justin Masterson is going to be in the 'pen from the start of the season, which helps.

  14. C'est la vie: Being a Blue Jays fan whose all-time favourite ballplayer is Ted Williams and whose favourite sports figure is another Red Sock, Bill (Spaceman) Lee.

  15. Masterson's sidearm offerings break in on left-handers and they already have two good lefty options in the bullpen,Javier Lópezand Hideki Okajima. It will be hard to get much off them in the late innings. Right-hander Manny Delcarmen has punched above his weight the past couple seasons.

  16. The wannabe wordsmiths who write the headlines are going to love Daniel Bard once he matures into a major leaguer.

  17. Only two of the top five articles on the Boston Herald website at this writing are about the Red Sox, who haven't a World Series in more than 17 months. Celtic Nation has spoken.

  18. The franchise which shrewdly gauged the best-before of Pedro Martínez and Nomar Garciaparra is rolling with 37-year-old catcher Jason Varitek, who couldn't hit a right-hander. Which of these things is not like the other?

  19. Minor-league slugger Lars Anderson, who's at Double-A Portland (the one in Maine), will man first base before too long. It won't be much longer until the Red Sox are sending him on some goodwill trip to Stockholm to stake out that player pool the way they have with Japan.

  20. Junichi Tawaza, the Japanese phenom signed late last season, is going to be in Double-A. pointed out every AL East team has a Japanese player of note in its system, except the Blue Jays. Hey, it's not like Japan has won the first two World Baseball Classics.

  21. The Red Sox ended their affilation with a single-A team because its park was hitter-friendly and they didn't want it to skew their evaluation of young hitters. Talk about leaving nothing to chance.

  22. Reliever Mike Timlin retired after last season. He was the last active player in the majors from the 1992-93 Blue Jays.

  23. Fun fact: Lowrie will be the first switch-hitter to start on Opening Day for the Red Sox since the immortal Spike Owen in 1988. A funner fact is that he's not Julio Lugo.

  24. You're excused for wanting to smash Dustin Pedroia's face into a bowl of mashed potatoes after seeing his spot for for MLB 09: The Show.

  25. Pedroia referred to the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez "as a dork" during a puff-piece magazine feature. He needs to hire UFC president Dana White to advise him on more creative insult methods.


Greg said...

You should have heard the boos at the Rogers Centre during the WBC whenever that commercial was on for MLB 09 in-between innings.

I'm not sure that smarmy arrogance on Pedroia's part had the effect Sony intended.

sager said...

The worst part is the Holiday Inn guy's talents were wasted.

He was in that commercial with Cal Ripken Jr. ...

Ripken: "I was baseball player for a lot of years."
Holiday Inn guy: "Where was that, in Jamaica?"

Anonymous said...

I thought it was pretty funny, actually. Mix a little more bran into your diet, Neate, and turn that frown upside down.