Sox Sputtering, Need A Boost

Boston Bullied By Bronx Bombers

Lets make something clear.  Red Sox fans, it’s not time to panic.  Yet.

The Boston Red Sox are reeling after losing three straight to the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.  The Sox have fell 3.5 games back of the Yankees and have seemingly lost all confidence.  With the David Ortiz revelation, John Smoltz disaster, and nagging injuries, Boston is 8-11 since the All-Star break.  

Luckily for the local nine, Josh Beckett toes the rubber tonight, facing off against former teammate A.J. Burnett at Yankee Stadium.  The Red Sox need Beckett to be superman and dominate the dynamic Yankee lineup.  If he’s not, and the Sox lose to the Yanks, the Sox season could go south fast and force the hand of Theo Epstein in the upcoming weeks.
With a black hole at shortstop, ineffectivness from the starting rotation, and lack of power from the outfield, the Sox have a lot of issues to address.  Internally or externally, Theo needs to fix these problems or he could finally be found accountable for his mistakes (for the first time).  
Even with everything going so poorly for Boston, a win tonight against the Bronx Bombers could ease the worries of Red Sox nation and give the Sox a much needed boost.

Sox Sweep Blue Jays

Are the Red Sox back on track?

It looks like that train that fell off the track might be repaired and moving forward again. The Red Sox behind Lester tonight won 8-1 and let up only three hits.  The sleeper player that you don’t see in the box score is our new shortstop Alex Gonzalez who probably saved 3 hits and a few runs tonight.  JD drew also knocked in 2 home runs

Consider that in the first inning Lester let the bases loaded with no outs! He then went on to pitch a gem of a ball game. Victor Martinez also homered and the Sox complete the sweep just in time for the Yankees to roll in to town this weekend.

Sox Sign Byrd, Again

Boston Adds Veteran Presence For Stretch-Run

For most people, it’s the early bird who gets the worm, but for Paul Byrd, good things come to those who wait.  
The Boston Red Sox announced the signing of veteran righthander Paul Byrd, who was acquired by the Sox in 2008 from the Cleveland Indians, and went 4-2 with a 4.78 ERA in 49 innings for Boston last year.  This time around, the Sox snagged Byrd who hasn’t pitched at all this season and will most likely be called up to the major leagues when rosters expand on September 1st.
The acquisition of Byrd gives the Sox some more flexibility when it comes to the starting rotation and bullpen.  With John Smoltz and Brad Penny sputtering as of late, the Sox could use another veteran arm to get the job done.  However, issues still arise about how much the 38-year-old Byrd still has left in the tank.  
Nevertheless, Byrd will ease the mind of Theo Epstein and company if one of the Red Sox starters goes down with injury (or ineffectiveness).  On a side note, Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session next Tuesday in hopes of joining the big club sometime before the end of the season.

Sox Can’t Get It Done In Tampa

In a marathon long game that took 13 innings the Sox couldn’t get it done in a game they probably didn’t deserve to win anyway.

Cowbells clanging and fans roaring, what once appeared to be a tidy victory turned into an exhausting 4-2 loss in 13 innings for the Red Sox at their recent house of horrors, Tropicana Field. In the end, amid a contest that started Tuesday night and ended just shortly after midnight on Wednesday, a familiar theme emerged for the Red Sox: It was too much Evan Longoria.

The All-Star third baseman clocked his second homer of the night, a two-run walk-off blast with two outs in the bottom of the 13th against Takashi Saito.-Full Story By RedSox.com

Trade Deadline Day

-2:10 p.m. Red Sox in the mix on most deals
-2:11 p.m. WEEI reporting Sox on verge of signing Victor Martinez
-3:08 p.m. Sox trading Masterson & another prospect (Nick Hagadone) for Victor Martinez.  Deal about done

Slumping In July Doesn’t Mean Goodbye, But It’s Still Frustrating

It’s that feeling again. You know, the one in the pit of your stomach? That particular feeling where things are going completely wrong and all you can do is watch the inevitable? Like a car wreck on the highway, you don’t want to rubberneck, but you somehow can’t turn your eyes away from the carnage.  Been watching much NESN lately? The Red Sox have given up the A.L. East lead and then imploded Tuesday night just when the game was in hand and there was a chance to get a game back from the Yankees.  Last night?  You know you faithfully watched all nine innings of that fiasco, hoping for some sort of rally.  We were cruising until the week before the All-Star Break, what in the name of Don Zimmer has happened?  After Tuesday and Wednesday night I’m almost too disgusted to try to figure it all out.
Luckily the answer is fairly easy. We haven’t been hitting.  Earlier this spring it would have been considered sacrilege to criticize Jason Bay, even though he hasn’t really been hitting since April when he hit .324.  After his hot start his batting average dipped to a still respectable .264 in May, but has cooled by 30-plus points a month in June (.230) and July (.192).  His current total on the season is .251.  JD Drew, hitting .092 less in July than his June average of .292, needs to pick it up too.  Unfortunately the problem does not stop there and only gets bigger.  Kevin Youkilis has not been hitting either.  It was an improbability that his .400 start would last for long, but even dependable old Youk has been in a funk at the plate, .244 in June and .230 in July.  Mr. Greek God of Walks himself had four strikeouts last night and only managed a .302 OBP this month.  Not fair to compare it to April’s .505, so we’ll compare it to May’s .441. I’ll leave Pedroia out for now on the grounds that until last night he was the only (ONLY!?) Red Sox hitter currently posting an average above .300, Jacoby Ellsbury has re-joined him at that apparently unreachable level, scraping in at .300 even, but Pedroia has seen his share of struggles this year too.
Sidenote: Nice year Ellsbury has going for himself, he’s been hot, hitting .318 since the All-Star Break, and its been fun watching him develop and put all the pieces together, so what if he’s not a leadoff hitter?
We’ve seen a huge drop in production in the heart of the lineup through June and July. With everyone slumping at once we’d be dead in the water no matter what, but compounding the problem is the fact that the Red Sox lineup is not designed to overpower anyone this year.  Everything has to be ground out, we have to have production up and down the lineup to be successful.  We have a team of great contact hitters, but without replacing Manny with a similarly fearsome hitter and Big Papi just not up to par, there is no one to count on for a towering blast when you need it mosts a solid hit sure, but no reliable, instant game changing fire power.  With the trading deadline upon us it’s time to find a another bat.
On to pitching.  The John Smoltz experiment aside, and his ERA is still under Matsuzaka’s by a full run by the way, we really can’t find all that much fault in the starters. Beckett has found his gear and is cruising with a 2.43 ERA and 7-2 record in June and July.  Lester is turning out Pedro-esque stats for June and July with ERA’s of .185 and .186 respectively with 72 Ks.  Penny has been respectable (lets hope last night was just a hiccup) and the Red Sox need to quit messing around with Clay Buchholz and bring back Wakefield.  Yeah, yeah, he’s “hurt.”  How convenient, Wake goes down just in time to parade Buchholz for the trade deadline.  Buchholz is good trading bait now, get Wake off the DL and back on the mound, he was winning games and giving us innings.  I’m still not convinced we desperately need him, but the way things stand now I’d give up Buchholz and a little more to get that Halladay fellow everyone keeps making a fuss over.  The bullpen, Tuesday night aside, is still doing a solid job.  Papelzaka is putting men on, posting high pitch counts and getting lucky, (we won’t count Tuesday night, and he REALLY needs to clean that up NOW) but overall I don’t think we can hang too much of this slump on the mound.  We should have won Tuesday and had opportunities to comeback last night.  We can’t win if we don’t score runs.
They were boring in Spring Training.  They came out flat in April.  They cruised through May and June with barely a ripple in pond.  The Red Sox are lacking in personality this year.  The quiet, hard-working professionalism displayed by this team has merits, but part of the reason the 2004 Idiots were successful is because they were idiots.  They worked hard, but they played for fun.  Has our team gotten a little too professional and lost sight of the fun and games that made us successful in the first place?  There is no Kevin Millar to remind us all that playing Major League Baseball is living the dream and every day spent on the field should be enjoyed like the childhood fantasy it largely is.  Loosen up guys, relax,  and play with the spirit of the Little Leaguers you all once were.
The good news?  Time is still, just barely, on our side.  It’s not likely that a team can get smoking hot in July and maintain that pace all the way through October.  Calm down New York, July counts for nothing on its own.  We’ve got plenty of time to get back in the groove and hit our stride in heading into September.

Red Sox Put Offer To Halladay On Table

According to Gordon Edes the Red Sox have made a strong offer to Toronto for Roy Halladay.  The deal includes Bucholz, Michael Bowden, and outfield prospect Ryan Westmoreland.  Stay tuned folks!

Beckett Spins A Gem, Improves To 7-0 At Fenway

Red Sox Offense Comes Alive Against Cahill

Josh Beckett struck out ten in 7+ innings of work on Monday to give the Boston Red Sox a 8-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics and Beckett his 12th win of the season.

Boston’s right-hander becomes the first 12-game winner in the American League as the Boston bullpen continued it’s dominance with Daniel Bard and Manny Delcarmen each pitching an inning of scoreless relief to help secure the Red Sox victory.

Jacoby Ellsbury led the offensive charge with three hits and Dustin Pedrioa homered in the first inning to spark the night for Boston’s offense as newcomer Adam LaRoche continues to impress, going 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI.  

Clay Buchholz takes the mound for Boston on Tuesday as he will square off against Vin Mazzaro of the A’s.
(AP Photo)

Adrian Gonzalez Coming To Boston?

Sox Pursuing San Diego First Basemen

It has been no secret that the Red Sox offense has sputtered for the better part of June and July, so would the Sox try to land a middle-of-the-order bat to help solidify their lineup?

Sources say that the Red Sox are in on the Adrian Gonzalez chase, who could be shipped from San Diego for a the “right” package of prospects.  Gonzalez, 27, would move Kevin Youkilis across the diamond to third and most likely spell the days of Mike Lowell as Boston’s third basemen.

Adding a dynamic bat like Gonzalez would help solidify the Red Sox offense for 2009 and beyond and the left-handed hitting first basemen comes at a relatively cheap $4.75 million.  For more on this story.

Jim Rice: Hall Of Fame Status

Former Red Sox Outfielder Inducted Into HOF

Jim Rice had to wait until his final year of eligibility to be selected into the Baseball Hall of Fame but it didn’t matter for the former Red Sox outfielder as Rice was inducted into the Hall alongside Rickey Henderson on Sunday.

Rice is the only player in baseball history with at least 35 home runs and 200 hits in three consecutive seasons as Rice had a career .298 average with 382 homers and 1,451 RBIs. The Red Sox legend also will have his number retired by the Red Sox after spending his entire career in a Sox uniform.

(AP Photo)

Reelin’ Sox Swept By Rangers

Buchholz & Boston Embarassed By Texas 

The Texas Rangers swept a series with the Boston Red Sox for the first time since the 2004 season with a 3-1 victory over the Bo-Sox on Wednesday night.

With Clay Buchholz on the mound, Boston hoped a fresh face could turn Boston’s luck around but a strong outing from Texas’ Dustin Nippert rubbed dirt into Boston’s wounds as the Red Sox have now lost five straight and stand two games back of the New York Yankees.

The Red Sox have a day off before arriving back at Fenway Park to take on the Baltimore Orioles.  Boston looks to Brad Penny to set straight the Red Sox ship on Friday as Penny squares off against Brad Bergesen of the Orioles.

(AP Photo)

Sox Acquire LaRoche, Trade Lugo

Busy Day Of Trading For Red Sox Front Office

In an effort to help bring security and insurance to a slumping Red Sox offense, Theo Epstein pulled the trigger on two trades on Wednesday landing Aam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chris Duncan from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Boston acquired first basemen Adam LaRoche for two prospects, Agenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland.  Both midlevel prospects figured never to play any role with the big club and LaRoche had worn his welcome in Pittsburgh amongst the Pirates reshuffling of players.  

Later on in the day, Epstein traded Julio Lugo to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Chris Duncan who is batting .227 on the year with five home runs and 32 RBIs for the Cardinals. With the Red Sox lineup scuffling as of late, the Red Sox decided that the addition of two bats to the bench could help shore up some offensive problems and improve the mojo of a lackluster lineup.  

The trading deadline is looming on July 31 and Theo Epstein has made it no secret that the Red Sox are going to be actively pursuing any opportunities that make this 2009 ball club better.