Puttin’ The Pieces Together

Boston Bruins Re-Sign Matt Hunwick

Matt Hunwick had to shut it down earlier than expected in the 2008-2009 playoffs due to a ruptured spleen, but the Boston Bruins liked what they saw from anyway, as the restricted free agent put up six goals and 21 assists in 53 games last season for the B’s.

The former University of Michigan star made only one playoff appearance against the Montreal Canadiens before having to remove his spleen.  His signing could very well bring about the end of Phil Kessel’s tenure in Boston due to salary cap space.  Hunwick’s two-year extension will cost the Bruins roughy $2.9 million with the defense-man making $1.35 million next season.

Celtics Sign Guard Marquis Daniels

Ex-Pacers Guard Coming To Boston

In an effort to shore up the Celtics back-court, Danny Ainge signed free-agent guard Marquis Daniels to a contract worth $1.9 million.  Daniels will receive a biannual exception if the Celtics and Pacers cannot work out a sign-and-trade deal that would negotiate different terms for Daniels’ deal.

The free-agent will serve as a backup to both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and could be part of a sign-and-trade that involves sending Brian Scalabrine to Indiana.  Daniels averaged just under 14 points last season for Indiana and is part of an offseason where Danny Ainge and the Celtics are revamping and adding significant depth to Doc Rivers bench.

The only other questions that remain for the C’s are the futures of Glen Davis and Leon Powe in Boston and whether or not Ainge will sign another point guard to back up Rajon Rondo.

Sox Can’t Agree To Terms With Bay

                                   Contract Talks Called Off With Left Fielder

After failing to sign Jason Bay to a contract extension in Spring Training, Theo Epstein and company tried pursuing Bay again in the late June but talks have come to a halt by the end of the All-Star break and it looks like Sox fans will have to wait until after the 2009 season to see if number 44 will return to Boston.

Bay is set to become a free agent after the season and it seems as if Sox management and Bay’s agent cannot come to a common assessment on the market value for elite outfielders like Jason Bay.  

Boston will certainly have to ante up J.D. Drew type money if they want to keep Bay manning the green monster for years to come.  Of course, that will be up to Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino, so for Sox fans, in Theo we trust.

AL East Standings

Boston Red Sox:          54-34

New York Yankees:      51-37

Tampa Bay Rays:         48-41

Toronto Blue Jays:      44-46

Baltimore Orioles:        40-48

With a little more than half of the season completed when the Red Sox take the field on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays,  Boston finds themselves three games ahead of their rival, the New York Yankees.

But everyone knows that it doesn’t matter where you stand on July 16, it matters where you stand when game 162 is completed.  So with the local nine set to make a run at their third championship in six years, Boston will need to stay healthy, hungry, and hitting.  There are 15 days left until the trading deadline and it will be interesting to see what Theo Epstein and the Sox do in regards to the trading frenzy.

One thing is for certain, however, and that’s a guarantee that the second half of 2009 will hold plenty of drama between Boston and the rest of the American League East.  Enjoy baseball fans.

Injury Update: Two Sox Ready To Return

Lowell And Lowrie On The Comeback Trail

The Boston Red Sox went into the All-Star break firing on all cylinders, leading the AL East by 3.5 games over the New York Yankees.  So with everything going so well, how could things get better?

With the return of Mike Lowell and Jed Lowrie.

According to Terry Francona, Mike Lowell will start for the Sox on Friday and Jed Lowrie should be back with the big club by the weekend.  So, with things going so well without the two infielders, Sox fans have even more to look forward to with the return of the injured. Here’s more on what Francona had to say.

Show me Yoooouuuk?

This was sent to us from a friend who attended the home run derby last night.

I am a little confused by the slogan “Show me Yoooouuuk”?

I think Nike could have done a lot better on this one.  Cool poster, bad slogan.

(Thanks to Joe T. for submitting this)

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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)