Welcome Back Tim Wakefield

Today we feel good.  We’ve won two games in a row and the guys are smacking the ball all over the park.  At the beginning of August we couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a bus, never mind a baseball with a bat, we knew our hitters were too good to continue that way indefinitely, but it was hard to watch them struggle.  As the bats have heated up, pitching has gotten a little ragged around the edges, but Jon Lester pitched well last night, too well to lose a win on a wild pitch, and if Tim Wakefield makes a triumphant return this evening we’ll be getting the brooms out and sweeping the White Sox out of town.  Life is always a little bit more fun and rainbows when the Red Sox are winning.  Hard to believe just a few days ago, Friday night to be exact, we felt completely humiliated by the Yankees and almost ready to toss in the towel on the entire season.  That series, plus the Texas series, is the gravity keeping my enthusiasm over this series in check.
Feeling a little seasick Red Sox fans? This past month has been a stormy ride and opinions regarding the team have been just as volatile.  We’re either doomed to lose, not only this season, but indefinitely after, or we’re playoff bound and destined to win the whole shebang.  The pendulum seems to swing wildly depending on whether the boys from Beantown have won or lost on the previous evening.  I’ll admit to occasionally being caught up in the bi-polar win/loss mood swings, but right now my opinion lies mired in the middle.  Are we good enough to make the playoffs? Yes. Are we good enough to win the World Series? I’ll play it safe and say never say never.
Squeaking into the October show is not going to be a lasting or fun experience if we don’t start finding ways to beat playoff-caliber teams.  We’ve been losing to the Yankees at an alarming rate over the last few weeks, it’s becoming difficult to remember that we started the season series against them at 8-0.  As if the Yankee humiliation wasn’t enough, we also did some losing to our current Wild Card rivals down in Texas and Tampa.  We won against Batimore, Toronto and Detroit.  Detroit may be a first place team, but the other two are the cellar dwellers of our division. The once high flying Blue Jays haven’t been the same since we swept them in May and the Orioles are still waiting for the cavalry to arrive from the farm.  The most frustrating factor in all of this is Red Sox still have the tools to dominate.  This is the same team that went 9-3 playing 4 first place, and currently playoff  bound, teams in a row back in June.  We’ve been scratching our heads since the All-Star Break, wondering where the wheels fell off.  Remember May and June when the team was “boring” and “successful?”  Those days seem like they happened in another season.
We haven’t played ourselves out of contention.  We still lead the Wild Card by a game and a half.  The season is far from over and and I’m not meaning to paint a rain cloud over the Red Sox prospects in this year’s post-season, but volatility does not usually lead to success.
(and yes, I am aware that although the title of this article was devoted to him, Tim Wakefield only made a cameo appearance, but it will be nice to see our All-Star knuckleballer back on the mound tonight. At least I hope it will anyway, the knuckleball can be a little, um, volatile at times.)

Historic Night At Fenway Park

Bay Sparks Comeback As Ellsbury Steals His Way To History

Jacoby Ellsbury’s steal of home against Andy Pettite earlier this season was pretty special, but his steal of third base on Tuesday night against Freddy Garcia was alittle more speical as it brought about a change in the Red Sox record books.  The Red Sox center-fielder registered his 55th stolen base of the season, passing Tommy Harper for first place all-time on the Red Sox stolen base list.

Ellsbury went 3-for-5 on the evening as Jason Bay’s solo-blast in the eighth inning broke a 3-3 tie which eventually led the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory.  Jon Lester went 6 2/3 innings deep but a wild third-strike supplanted Lester out of a tie ball-game as Hideki Okajimi stopped the bleeding in the seventh and got the Sox out of a jam with a strikeout. Manny Delcarmen pitched the last out of the eighth to register his fifth win of the season as Jonathan Papelbon shut the door on the White Sox in the ninth to record his 30th save of the season.  

Papelbon joins Billy Koch as the only other pitcher to have 30 saves in each of his first four seasons.    Boston (72-53) welcomes Tim Wakefield back to the mound on Wednesday as the knuckleballer takes on Gavin Floyd of the White Sox.

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

As Deadline Approached, Sox Got Their Man

Mets & Sox Agree On Deal For Billy Wagner

Low and behold the Red Sox finally got their man.  Billy Wagner agreed to waive his no-trade clause and come to Boston after Theo Epsetin agreed to one of his demands, which is that the Sox cannot pick up his $8 million option for 2010.  

However, the Sox do have the right to offer the left-hander arbitration next season.

This means if Wagner leaves Boston to become a closer for another team in 2010, the Sox would receive two draft picks as compensation for the reliever leaving.  The Red Sox will send two players, which will be named later, as compensation to the Mets for the Wagner deal.

The flame-throwing lefty was hesitant about coming to Boston for three reasons.  He didn’t want to have his option picked up, he didn’t want to be offered arbitration, and he didn’t want the strain of pitching every other day.  It looks like the 38-year-old will get two of his wishes granted as the Sox will look to appease Wagner, who is coming off of Tommy John Surgery, by pitching once every three days.  Wagner has looked sharp in his two outings this season, pitching scoreless innings in each of his outings.

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Breaking News: Wagner to Boston Trade Imminent

Image Courtesy AllAroundPhilly.com Image Courtesy AllAroundPhilly.com
Various Reports Suggest Wagner Trade is All But Done
The Globe’s Nick Cafardo and Newsday’s David Lennon are both reporting that the trade sending Billy Wagner to the Red Sox is just about finalized. An announcement from Boston’s end is expected sometime this afternoon.
Stay tuned on this one!
— Dan Zappulla, Chowdaheadz Blog Contributor.

Dice-K Strong In Rehab

Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka started his road back to Boston by pitching three shutout innings in a Gulf Coast League game in Fort Myers, Fla, on Monday.

Thanks to the satellite system the Red Sox use to track all their Minor League affiliates, manager Terry Francona was able to watch Matsuzaka’s performance.

Over 37 pitches, Matsuzaka allowed one hit and no runs, walking none and striking out four.

“Everything was pretty good,” said Francona. “Good breaking ball. He commanded his fastball. He stayed down. Threw some good changeups. It was generally really positive.”-Full Story from Redsox.com

Wagner Waitin’

Will Wagner Come To Beantown?

Billy Wagner has asked the Boston Red Sox to guarantee that they will decline his  2010 contract option as well as not offer him salary arbitration.  Pretty hefty demands from a 38-year-old pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery.

Nevertheless, the demands are clear and Wagner has the power to approve or disapprove any trade that he’s involved in.  So, if Theo Epstein and the Red Sox want to acquire the $3.5 million relief pitcher, they must guarantee that he has the opportunity of pitching as a closer for another team next season.

For what would be a two-month rental, the idea of Wagner in a Red Sox uniform has rubbed some players feathers the wrong way, most notably, Jonathan Papelbon as Cinco Ocho thinks the Red Sox bullpen is “just fine” without Wagner who is sixth on the all-time saves list. Boston has until Tuesday to work out a trade with the New York Mets, but he could come to Boston if the Mets release him as the Red Sox would be responsible for the money owed to Wagner.

If Wagner proves to be healthy, he could be a valuable asset to a Red Sox bullpen that includes only one left-handed reliever in Hideki Okajima.

Boston Tees Off Against Contreras

Lowell & Drew Power Red Sox Past White Sox

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)


The Red Sox teed off on long-time foe, Jose Contreras, on Monday night in route to a 12-8 victory over the Chicago White Sox.  With Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox in town, the Sox sent Clay Buchholz to the mound in hopes of leading the Sox back to their winning ways.

It turned out Buchholz wasn’t the one who lead the Red Sox charge, instead it was Contreras as the Cuban right-hander allowed only one earned run but committed two errors on his way to allowing seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. Chicago held a 4-1 lead in the third inning before a two-out implosion from Contreras led the Sox to a six-run inning marked by an error on a David Ortiz dribbler which resulted in five more runs scoring. 

Mike Lowell capped off the six-run inning with a three-run monster shot.  J.D. Drew also homered for Boston as Ramon Ramirez got the win, his seventh of the season.  Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out two, while topping out at 97 m.p.h on the radar gun after six days of rest.

The Red Sox have scored 65 runs in their last seven games as the Sox bats have come alive in the past week.  Daisuke Matsuzaka threw three innings of shutout ball in his rehab start for the Gulf Coast league Red Sox which could spell good news for Theo Epstein and company.  Jon Lester squares off against Freddy Garcia on Tuesday night at Fenway.   

Monday’s Lineups are in…

‘Tek Rides the Pine as V-Mart Gets the Nod

It’s not overly surprising, but Jason Varitek is on the bench once again in favor of Victor Martinez, who will be catching the red-hot Clay Buchholz in tonight’s series opener against the White Sox. Here are the lineups for both squads, courtesy of Boston.com’s Extra Bases blog:
Red Sox
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. Jason Bay, LF
7. Mike Lowell, 3B
8. J.D. Drew, RF
9. Alex Gonzalez, SS
— Clay Buchholz, RHP
White Sox
1. Scott Podsednik, CF
2. Gordon Beckham, 3B
3. Jermaine Dye, RF
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Paul Konerko, 1B
6. Carlos Quentin, LF
7. A.J. Pierzynski, C
8. Alexei Ramirez, SS
9. Jayson Nix, 2B
— Jose Contreras, RHP
— Dan Zappulla, Chowdaheadz Blog Contributor

Payback From Boston

Sox Pound Yankees As Tazawa Dazzles

The Boston Red Sox showed no hangover from Friday nights loss as the local nine, led by Kevin Youkilis, jumped on A.J. Burnett early and often on Saturday with the Sox beating the dreaded Yanks 14-1 at Fenway Park.

Junichi Tazawa managed to stay out of trouble all day by allowing just eight hits and two walks through six shutout innings of ball.  Tazawa earned his second victory of the season and solidified himself as the number five starter in the Sox starting rotation.

The Red Sox responded to the Friday night beating with a spanking of their own on Saturday as the 14-1 pounding, led by Kevin Youkilis’ six RBI’s, lands Josh Beckett on the rubber against C.C. Sabathia on Sunday night. Boston looks to win it’s second straight and push to 5.5 back of the Yanks on Sunday as the Sox look to win the rubber game of the series with New York.

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Insert Knuckleballer

Wake In, Penny Possibly Out

According to Adam Kilgore of the Boston Globe, Tim Wakefield will start for the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday as the Sox take on the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park. With Wakefield back in the rotation means either Brad Penny or Junichi Tazawa will be the odd man out of the starting five.

After giving up 10 hits and eight runs in four innings, Penny looks to be the person on the move.  Where that will be is still yet to be determined.  It could hinge on the effectiveness of Junichi Tazawa today against the Yankees, to see whether or not Tazawa or Penny will fill the last spot in the Sox rotation.

Penny has won one of his past 11 starts with Boston and for a pitcher that features mainly just one pitch for a strike, the bottom line is that Penny just can’t get it done in the AL East.  A la John Smoltz, maybe it’s best for Theo Epstein and Terry Francona to give up on the reclamation projects and cut another fish, like Penny, loose.

If the Red Sox can make by with Tazawa or possibly, Penny, until Daisuake Matsuzaka comes back, Boston could be a danger as the wildcard in the playoffs.  But than again, there may be too many “ifs” in that sentence and the Red Sox future.


Help On The Way?

Red Sox Claim Billy Wagner Off Of Waivers

With Red Sox fans in need of some good news after a 20-11 beating handed to the local nine by rival New York, Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the Red Sox were the team that claimed Billy Wagner off of waivers from the New York Mets and have four days to work out a trade for him.

Wagner, 38, would join Hideki Okajimi as the only left-handed reliever in the Sox bullpen.  The left-hander had elbow ligament replacement surgery last September and was expected to miss the entire 2009 campaign but due to a speedy recovery, made his 2009 debut on Thursday, striking out two Atlanta hitters in route to a perfect inning of relief.  

A deal would most likely involve the Sox sending a second-tier prospect to the Mets and the Mets eating some of the $3.5 million still owed to Wagner.