The Red Sox Already Have Most of the Pieces in Place

A good team is like a finished puzzle. All the pieces fit into place, they connect, they work together, and when the puzzle is completed they present a solid, unified masterpiece.  Remove a piece and you have a hole.  Replacement pieces maybe be able to fill the hole, but generally leave gaps or don’t fit in the empty space at all.  Mike Lowell is a missing piece that does not have an adequate replacement on the current Red Sox roster.  Combine Lowell’s absence with Pedroia needing to miss a game or two to be with his hospitalized pregnant wife, and the infield is in shambles.  With the trading deadline fast approaching the team would do well to well to address the need for a quality back-up corner infielder, and possibly take a look at the outfield as well.
Roy Halladay is the current hot and sexy piece of meat up on the trade block, and you can’t really have too much pitching, but the Red Sox do not need another ace.  We also don’t need to sell the farm to get a guy who is in the last year of his contract, will be a free agent next year, and is not likely to stick around Boston after the 2009 season.  Money talks and the Red Sox are not going to give him a blockbuster long term commitment.  We’ve got too much young talent coming up. (And, seriously, lets all take a moment and realize how fortunate we are, not too many teams, if any, are enjoying this position.)  If Theo and company are smart, and they are, they’ll take a good long look at shoring up the bench and maybe, if the right deal comes along, shaking up our suddenly inconsistent bullpen a bit.
It may seem backwards, but having a good bench is an essential foundation for any team.  Of course you need to build a talented and durable starting nine, but if one of them goes down for any reason who’s going to be responsible for keeping the castle on the level?  The back-up guy.  We’ve been spoiled in the outfield for the past few years with Coco Crisp, the guy was a rock, there were no worries about who was going to pick up the pieces when Ellsbury struggled or JD Drew needed a band-aid.  Thank goodness Ellsbury has figured out to hit like a major leaguer and JD Drew been fairly durable so far this year, knock on wood, throw salt over your shoulder and pray to whatever higher being you believe in that this continues. Do you want to see Baldelli or Kotsay responsible for day to day outfield duty?  Didn’t think so.  It begs the question, who is available at a reasonable price?
We need a decent back-up corner infielder, and a solid back-up outfielder.  After watching them play all weekend I’d like to propose  first baseman Mark Teahen and outfielder David DeJesus.  Teahen is currently hitting .294, a solid 19 doubles with 9 home runs. His skills are not going to rock anyone’s world, but we’re not looking for the second coming of Kevin Youkilis, we’re looking for a nice option to fill in for him when and if Youk has to move to 3rd to cover for Lowell.  David DeJesus is hitting a steady .256 with 18 doubles and 6 triples, and would be a nice compliment to the our current starting outfield.  It’s and easy one stop shop would stabilize the infield corners and add some depth to the outfield in one fell swoop.  Who do we send to Kansas City?  Rocco Baldelli, Jeff Bailey, and Julio Lugo, even if they don’t want Lugo, we’ll just pay his contract and say he accidentally got shipped in the same box as the others.  Mark Kotsay gets to stay by virtue of being able to reliably play either outfield or first base.  Depending on how Clay Buchholz performs on Friday the Red Sox can throw him or Brad Penny in the mix as well.  Kansas City needs pitching help and either one of the two would give them a boost.  If they want a prospect how about Anthony Rizzo?  Talented, but unproven, his path to the majors right now is mostly blocked by Kevin Youkilis’ long term contract and the up and coming Lars Anderson. It would be a win all around, we unload some dead weight while sprucing up the bench and the Royals get reasonably talented players in return.
No matter who the Red Sox decide to move or who make a deal with, we easily have enough resources to grab the best of what’s available.  We should be able to get what we need and not lose anyone truly valuable.  And besides, sometimes you just get lucky, Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb anyone?

Beckett Leads Sox Into All-Star Break

                Sox Cruise Past Royals With 6-0 Win

Josh Beckett led the Boston Red Sox with a complete game shutout on Sunday afternoon to lead the Sox to a 6-0 win over the Kansas City Royals as the Red Sox head into the All-Star break with the best record in the AL, 20 games above .500.

With Boston (54-34) now heading into the break and with five Sox members part taking in the festivities in St. Louis, the Sox couldn’t have hoped to end the first half of the season on a better note as Beckett allowed three hits through nine innings of masterful work.

Beckett’s 100th career victory joins him with Tim Wakefield as the only other American League starter to have 11 wins.  The Red Sox jumped on Royal pitching in the first with a Kevin Youkilis RBI single and then in the fourth with three RBI’s from Aaron Bates, David Ortiz, and Jason Varitek.  Bates had his best game in a Sox uniform as the first basemen went 3-for-4 from the number nine spot.

Boston holds a 2.5 game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East. Terry Francona announced that Clay Buccholz will start for the Sox on Friday as Boston takes on the Toronto Blue Jays at the Roger Centre.

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Pedroia To Miss All-Star Game

Red Sox All-Star second basemen Dustin Pedroia will miss Tuesday’s All-Star game to be with his pregnant wife who was hospitalized recently.  Full Story.

Red Sox Trumped By Royals

Boston Falters While Relinquishing Outright Lead To The AL East

With the All-Star break looming, the Boston Red Sox had hoped that their division lead would last through baseball’s summer classic.  

Unfortunately for the local nine, the wheels on the Red Sox offensive brigade have been sputtering as of late causing the Sox lead in the division to dwindle as their 8-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night puts them in a tie with the New York Yankees atop the AL East.

Boston allowed three runs in the fourth, four runs in the sixth, and one run in the eighth as Justin Masterson got the loss for Boston giving up two runs on two hits while recording only one out. Brad Penny started the game but went only five innings, throwing 97 pitches, while allowing three runs on six hits.

Terry Francona’s two through five hitters went a combined 7-for-16 but the rest of the lineup went a mere 3-for-19 as David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia did the most damage for Boston, as each homered for Boston.

The Red Sox will look to get things back on track on Friday with Jon Lester (7-6) on the mound as he squares off against Brian Bannister (6-6).

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Could The Sox Land Garrett Atkins?

            Boston Could Be In The Market For Colorado’s Third Basemen

According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Boston Red Sox could be close to a deal that would land Garrett Atkins from the Colorado Rockies.  The deal is rumored to involve Takashi Saito in return for Colorado’s third basemen.

Saito has also been linked to other trades, most notably with the Texas Rangers in exchange for Hank Blalock.  The Red Sox are exploring corner infield possibilities in case Mike Lowell doesn’t respond well from an injection in his strained right hip as the Sox third basemen has been experiencing discomfort in his hip as of late.

With Boston’s bullpen stockpiled with a plethora of talent and live arms, the Sox could afford to ship Saito away in exchange for protection behind the plate and a solid bat from the bench.

Charlie Is Going On Tour!

One of the original Chowdaheadz employees, Steve Zarba is leaving Chowdaheadz for a bit to go on tour with his band, Burning Streets.
Check them out on Myspace

So Charlie who has been over worked and underpaid (We use the threat of boiling him and eating him if he doesn’t work harder) decided that he needed a vacation and asked if he could join Burning Streets on their national tour. So fearing that he might realize he is the face our business and we have branded him on almost everything we sell we decided to give him a little break and let him join Steve and his band on tour.  The only one catch was they had to update us and take photos on the way.

We will keep you updated on Charlies travels around the country and his vacation with Steve & Burning streets.

Have fun Steve & Charlie

Big Papi Drive In Four Runs To Lead Sox

Boston Takes Rubber Game Of Series With Oakland

On the heels of Josh Beckett’s great performance against the A’s on Tuesday night, Boston’s other All-Star pitcher, Tim Wakefield, looked to follow suit by giving the Sox a win to preserve a three-game series at Fenway Park.

That’s exactly what Wakefield did on Wednesday night as he had his knuckleball dancin’, earning his 11th victory of the season which leads all American League pitchers.  The 42-year-old gave up three runs on ten hits while striking out eight, to win his ninth game in his last 11 starts at Fenway.

David Ortiz homered and drove in four runs for the local nine, with his three-run blast in the sixth inning proving to be a momentum changer for Boston in route to their 5-4 victory over the A’s.

Ortiz homered three batters after J.D. Drew led off the sixth with a blast of his own.  Big Papi grounded out to second in the seventh to provide what would be the game-winning run as Drew scored on the play from third. Jonathan Papelbon was shaky in the ninth as the Sox closer gave up a run but he eventually recorded his 22nd save by striking out Jack Cust.

The Red Sox host the Kansas City Royals on Thursday as Brad Penny matches up against Luke Hochevar.

(AP Photo)

It Takes More Than Just Numbers To Be An All Star

Tim Wakefield is finally an All Star. In the past few weeks a lot has been made of his 1995 season and how he should have gone that year.  Wake had a legendary season in ’95, but didn’t make his first start for the Red Sox and in the bigs until late May. He was pitching well at the break, but the late start cost him and the All Star spots went to those who had pitched well in the almost 2 months that he missed, as they should have. If the All Star game had been in August Wakefield would probably would have started it. This year he is 10-3 at the time of selection and completely deserving of an All Star spot for every reason that has nothing to do with his current ERA or win/loss record.
Until this year, and with the exception of 1995 or that one night in October 2003, Wake has largely labored away under the radar, almost taken for granted. In 15 seasons he’s had good days and bad days, but he’s always shown up and put the team before himself.  He’s never made excuses for the bad stuff and he’s never drawn any extra attention to his best performances. We could argue why his numbers are or aren’t All Star worthy this year, but that no longer matters since Joe Maddon has officially declared them up to par.  In this day and age of steroids allegations and over-priced spoiled-brat professional athletes perhaps we need to really take a look at what it should take to be an All Star. Would you rather tell your kids to look up to Tim Wakefield or Alex Rodriguez?

Tim Wakefield has been nominated by the Red Sox 7 times for the Roberto Clemente Award (given annually by the MLB to a player deemed committed to serving their community and helping others, 1 player from each team is nominated each year).  He’s done everything the club has asked for on the field and never complained.  He’s on pace to reach 200 career wins early next season.  In 2005 he signed a contract unlike any other in sports, the Red Sox have the option to renew it at the end of every season, no tense negotiations over salary or contract length, no media circus, just one more year, yes or no?  $4 million a year every year is certainly nothing to scoff at.  He could ask for more, he probably deserves more.  He doesn’t get a raise, he doesn’t care about a raise, he just wants to pitch for as long as Boston wants to have him.  When Boston says no he’ll quietly enter retirement.  Not long after signing this unique document Wakefield summed up his thoughts about playing baseball in Boston with these words:
“It meant more to me to have the stability to stay here, I’m a firm believer in loyalty, which the Red Sox have been very loyal to me over the last 12 years, and I want to stay loyal to them. The stability and security is more important to me than trying to be a free agent. I’d much rather stay with a team that I’m comfortable with in a city I love, regardless of the money. At this stage of my career, it really doesn’t matter anymore.”
So what if this All Star appointment is partially viewed as a lifetime achievement award?  Hasn’t he earned the right over 17 seasons of pitching to have his moment in the sun?  I will freely admit that if I were a fan in another city I might feel a little differently, but because I am a Boston fan, and privileged enough to have experienced 15 seasons with him, I can say without a doubt that sometimes what it takes to be an All Star goes beyond the statistics and highlight reels.  Sometimes being an All Star means showing up day after day, doing your job without complaint and giving back to those who have helped you along the way.
Statistics and performance should definitely be the biggest factor in deciding who makes the All Star team each year, but what about guys like Wake who have had season after season of consistent success, while being an exemplary teammate and actively involved in their community? Luckily for Wake, his 10-3 record and early season heroics have brought him the recognition he has earned over the years, not only through his actions on the field, but in the dugout and in his charitable contributions as well.   For all of these reasons, Tim Wakefield is an All Star Major League Baseball can be proud of.

Boston Blanked By Anderson

    Smoltz Falters In Red Sox Debut At Fenway Park

On a night where Nomar Garciaparra made his anxiously-awaited return to Fenway Park for the first time since being traded in 2004, 21-year-old Brett Anderson stole the show for the A’s, throwing a complete game two-hit shutout to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 6-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox. 

Anderson struck out nine hitters, out-dueling John Smoltz, who made his first start at Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform.  Smoltz lasted six innings and gave up five runs on ten hits to one of the worst offense’s in all of baseball. Garciaparra didn’t disappoint in his first game back in Boston, knocking in one run on two hits.

The Sox were blanked by a rookie at Fenway Park for the first time since Jim Abbott in 1989.  Aaron Bates made his Major League debut on Monday night, getting called up from Pawtucket in place of Jeff Bailey who went on the 15-DL with a sore ankle.

Josh Beckett takes the hill on Tuesday for Boston as the Red Sox ace will look to get the team back on track against the A’s.

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Wakefield Selected Along With Five Others

   Red Sox Lead The MLB With Six Players Going To The All-Star Game

The Boston Red Sox will be represented by six players at the Summer Classic on July 14 as Tim Wakefield received his first All-Star selection in 17 seasons.

Wakefield joins Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon as the three Sox pitchers to be selected as Kevin Youkilis, Jason Bay, and Dustin Pedroia were the three position players selected with the latter two picked as starters.  

Boston has the most players selected for the All-Star game with six with the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Mets in second with four players selected each. Many worried that Wakefield would not get the nod due to his high ERA and knuckleball status.  Fortunately for Wakefield and the Sox, baseball fans thought otherwise and voted for the 42-year-old.