Ramble On Sports

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Posts Tagged ‘Josh Beckett’

Red Sox make crucial mistake in parting ways with Francona

Posted by bdowd625 on October 1, 2011

We’re going to miss you, Tito.

I’ll start out by saying that I don’t think Terry Francona was always the best in-game manager. Some of his decisions on the field left me scratching my head, whether it be the insertion of a pinch runner for Adrian Gonzalez in the seventh inning or his extra-long leash when it came to leaving tiring starting pitchers in the game. But I think every fan feels that way about their manager at one point or another, and second-guessing is a part of the job that Francona has always understood.

With that in mind, I think the Boston Red Sox made a monumental mistake yesterday when they parted ways with Francona after eight very successful seasons. Francona’s greatest strength has always been his ability to protect his players in a rabid sports town, a quality I think many of the Red Sox took for granted after a while. Plain and simple, Boston took advantage of its manager this year, as high-priced prima donnas like Carl Crawford, John Lackey and, yes, even my boy Josh Beckett drove the team into the ground. Sure, Francona should share some of the blame for the team’s historic September collapse – no one gets a free pass in that regard – but it was evident that many of the Red Sox had given up on him and the season.

And so Francona became the fall guy yesterday after bringing Beantown not one, but two World Series titles in his tenure. He said his players were tuning him out and that he couldn’t get the team to move together in one direction. It’s a shame it had to come to this after all Francona has done here, but that’s how it works with these millionaire crybabies. You can’t fire 25 players, but you can fire the manager. Boston’s new leader certainly has his work cut out for himself – whomever it may be – and I find it hard to believe he’ll handle these players half as well as Francona did in his eight-year run. We’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, though, I want to thank Francona for all his hard work. He gave this fan base a reason to believe when we thought that elusive championship would never come. I can confidently say his place in Red Sox history is safe.

And now, with the Red Sox season over, I leave you with an excerpt from an essay by A. Bartlett Giamatti, former commissioner of Major League Baseball. If this doesn’t perfectly sum up the beauty of baseball then nothing does.

“The Green Fields of the Mind”

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the
spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer,
filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come,
it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to
buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive,
and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.
Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains
and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.


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A few quick Red Sox notes…

Posted by bdowd625 on July 18, 2010

*  Boston’s 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers last night was HUGE. Yes, it was only one game, but wins like that have a way of turning things around. The Sox were in danger of falling to 51-40 – a measly 11 games over .500 – and surely the complaints about their lackluster lineup would have grown even louder. Instead, Kevin Youkilis saves Boston with a clutch two-out double off of Cliff Lee in the ninth, and wins it with a sacrifice fly in the 11th.

John Lackey actually pitched well for once – hanging with the devastatingly filthy Cliffy from the start – and the bullpen did its part with scoreless innings from Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen (surprise!). All in all, it was an excellent win at a dire time.

*  Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett both had rehab starts for Pawtucket this weekend, and neither was overly impressive. Buchholz got knocked around a little bit, only threw 33 strikes out of 60 pitches and committed a balk. Beckett, meanwhile, said he wasn’t as sharp as he wanted to be. And here we are getting excited about their imminent returns to the big club. Maybe it’s not going to go as smoothly as we had all hoped.

*  This last point is in response to a reader comment (which we would like more of, so please send us your thoughts) about Jerry Remy. Remy – a Red Sox legend – has been in the broadcast booth since the late 1980s and recently overcame a bout with cancer. The reader wondered who would be next in line to replace Remy as color commentator when he calls it quits, ultimately saying he thought Lou Merloni would be his successor.

Merloni, a local guy and former Red Sox infielder, has been a mainstay on WEEI’s The Big Show during the last few years and has made a pretty smooth transition from player to media member. He’s definitely a viable option because he knows the game and the ins and outs of the organization.

To that end, Nomar Garciaparra would also fit the bill. Garciaparra’s departure from the team at the trade deadline in 2004 was unceremonious, so it would be hard to see the team bringing him back in any capacity, let alone having him in the broadcast booth every night. But Garciaparra has also made the transition into the media – taking an analyst position with ESPN – so it’s hard to rule him out completely. He has the exact type of charismatic phoniness that would make him a great commentator.

And finally, for my sleeper pick for the job: Kevin Millar. Millar has the personality and knowledge of the game to be a great color guy. The only problem? He may be too much of a clown. Millar, who created the “Cowboy Up” slogan back in 2004, was the perfect guy to help Boston end it’s 86-year World Series drought. But can he be professional enough to be taken seriously in the booth? That remains to be seen. Still, he’s made some appearances in studio on NESN and Fox and brings the right presence to the broadcast. Maybe I’m just seeing him through rose-colored glasses because he was part of my favorite Red Sox team of all time.

So who do you think will end up replacing Jerry Remy when he finally decides to hang it up? Leave your suggestions here.

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Lackey laughs all the way to the bank

Posted by Bill Koch on December 15, 2009

John Lackey?
All of this excitement over John Lackey?
The Boston Red Sox generated all of this buzz by overpaying for a No. 3 starter who masquerades as an ace?
Please. Boston just ignored all of its alleged cutting-edge statistical analysis and signed a pitcher to a bloated contract who, according to the numbers that the organization values so highly, is on the decline. The Red Sox did this at the expense of upgrading their offense, basically waving goodbye to Jason Bay and a chance to get into the Matt Holliday sweepstakes, and are heading into the 2010 season at least two bats short of a line-up that can realistically challenge the New York Yankees.
Lackey is ready to put pen to paper on a five-year, $85-million contract sometime soon, this year’s top prize in a very average free agent pitching crop headed to Boston. He brings with him a handful of red flags that should be waving before too long and sticking the Red Sox with more dead money on their payroll, cash that it can’t afford while John Henry’s personal financial empire is in the tank and Boston’s revenue stream stagnates in its ancient ballpark.
Lackey’s been on the slide since 2007, when he won a career-high 19 games and posted a career-low 3.01 ERA. That season was the last in a run of five years where Lackey made at least 32 starts and threw a low total of 198.1 innings in 2004. That number climbed to a career-high 224 in 2007.
What followed was Lackey’s inevitable decline as he turned 30. He’s spent significant time on the disabled list each of the past two seasons, starting a total of 51 games, and his WHIP has risen in each season to its worst levels since his 1.33 in 2005. His Ks/9 innings has dropped every season since a career-best 8.6 in 2005 – it was just 7.1 last year – and he’s allegedly supposed to be a power pitcher. To put that in some perspective, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s career Ks/9 innings total is 8.5 in three seasons. Do you view Dice-K as a power arm? Didn’t think so – and neither is Lackey anymore. He’s a two-pitch guy with a dying fastball.
Lackey also struggles to go deep into games and will sap the strength from Boston’s bullpen, with opponents crushing him at a .316 clip on pitches 76-90 of his outings last year and hammering him to the tune of a 1.34 WHIP on pitches 91-105. Even in his best year, 2007, Lackey relied on the Angels’ strong bullpen (K-Rod, Scot Shields, Justin Speier, Darren Oliver) to routinely get him out of jams in the late innings – his WHIP on pitches 76-90 was an astronomical 1.58. That makes Lackey a five- or six-inning guy at best with Dice-K and Tim Wakefield already in the rotation. Hope Boston’s middle relievers have very good insurance policies on their shoulders and elbows.
Even more damning for Lackey are some of the names who pop up as statistical comparisons for his career to this point on http://www.baseball-reference.com. I’ll throw a couple of them out there just for fun – Kevin Millwood, Matt Morris – before I get real serious with a couple you Red Sox fans might know – Bartolo Colon and Brad Penny. You paying either one of those overweight, out of shape, No. 5-starter wanna-bes $85 million to come back here? I didn’t think so.
You can make the argument that Boston is trying to go the pitching-and-defense route by signing Lackey and making it public yesterday that they’re turning up the heat on a Josh Beckett extension. A rotation of Beckett, Jon Lester, Lackey and Dice-K is enough to make people happy on paper. Don’t be naïve enough to think it’ll last much past 2010. The fact that Boston is publicizing the Beckett talks and said nothing about being a player for Lackey should tell you something. The Red Sox are laying the groundwork to let Beckett walk, already planting the first seeds of what is sure to be a growing public relations war as spring training approaches. They’ll paint Beckett as the greedy bad guy for not accepting whatever their offer is, just like they did with Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez and all the rest – not that Boston should have broken the bank to bring those players back. That’s not what I’m saying. I just don’t think the Red Sox should have to use the lemmings who make up their Red Sox Nation to kick those guys in the ass on the way out of town, and Beckett could be next. We’ll be left with Lackey – and we’ll be unimpressed.

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