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Tag:Boston Red Sox
Posted on: December 29, 2008 10:46 am
 

Celtics Weekly: C's still the team to beat?

It started out as a Christmas vacation for the ages. The Pats could gain a playoff birth in the final week of the season, the Sox could land Mark Teixeira and be on their way to another title, and the Celtics could win 20 in a row by knocking off the Lakers at home on Christmas day.

It didn't quite turn out that way.

But with the Patriots season over and with the burner on the Red Sox Hot Stove Report turned down to a simmer, we turn our attention fully to the Celtics (and Bruins I suppose). So after a pair of West Coast losses are the C's still the team to beat? The answer to that question is an simply: Yes.

While the loss on Christmas day to the Lakers was disapointing, it in no way proved that Los Angeles is the better team. At times L.A. even looked desperate as Luke Walton and Lamar Odom uncharacteristically tossed up threes (the two had made a combined 11 3-pointers the entire season coming into the game and knocked down 2 each against the C's) and the ever improving Rajon Rondo was able to pick apart the Laker D even though he was mired in foul trouble from the openning whistle.

Then the following day, putting aside the "let down" factor of having a long winning streak snapped, Golden State is just one of those teams that can't necissarily be stopped by a good defense. The Warriors are a team of free-shooting point-scorers that take bad shots and, if they make them, are impossible to stop. The Celtics ran into them on a hot night, just like the Lakers ran into a Sacramento team that had a hot hand last week and lost. Those things happen.

Here are several reason why the Celtics are still the best team in the land:

1) It was just a loss. Sports analyst and fans alike played up this Christmas day matchup to be some sort of NBA finals equivalent. The fact of the matter is that it was just one more notch in the loss column for Boston. It counts the same as the losses to Indiana, Denver, and Golden State. In the long term, all that matters is that the Celtics finish the season with a better record than the Cavs and Magic.

2) The Celtics are getting better. After their record setting 19th straight win Greg Dickerson asked Kevin Garnett if the Celtics could get better, to which he responded "hell yeah" several times (with apologies to all of the children who might have heard him). One of the things Boston's big man stressed was that the C's had to play consistent defense and not allow any period of let-up for the entire game. Last night against Sacramento the Kings never scored more than 17 points in any quarter. Thanks for the pep-talk KG!

3) Boston is not satisfied. After Los Angeles beat the Celtics on Christmas Day there were streamers and confetti raining down from the ceiling like they had just won the NBA championship. What non-sense. Boston has become a championship city and after the Patriots went 16-0 and then lost the Superbowl, the athletes and fans in this town know that winning streaks and regular season records can be forgotten, but championship remain in the rafters forever.

Posted on: December 15, 2008 3:32 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2008 3:38 pm
 

GM for a Day:Diamonds in the "non-tendered" rough

                                        

Friday marked the date when teams sent a load of non-tendered players packing to join the already crowded free agent pool. Of those players, a large amount of whom are bottom-of-the-barrel type athletes, there are to be found a few possible sleepers:

Ty Wigginton - Probably the most sought-after non-tendered player on the market. Wigginton was let go by the Astros after signing a deal with them only a year ago. The now former Houston third baseman hit .285 last season with 23 homers in just 386 ABs. Wigginton is just 31 years old and is very consistant, hitting at least .275 with 22 HRs in each of his last three seasons, not to mention that he is versitile (having played second base for Tampa Bay two years ago) and can be picked up relatively cheaply at around $3.5 million a year. Apparently the Giants, Indians, Pirates, and Reds have all already shown interest.

Chris Capuano - After undergoing his second career Tommy John surgery Capuano didn't play at all during the 2008 season and was subsiquently not offered a contract by the Milwakee Brewers. In 29 starts in 2007 the lefty posted a 5-12 record, 5.10 ERA, and 132Ks. While those numbers are far from impressive, in his previous two seasons, which took place after his first Tommy John surgery, Capuano went 29-24 with a 3.99 ERA and pitched at least 220 innings both years. He might have to start the year on the DL, but the 30 year old is capable of keeping the ball around the plate (3:1 career K:BB ratio), and, if healthy, eating up some innings. For a couple million, this guy could be a steal for teams who are contenders but still have holes in their starting rotations like the Blue Jays, Twins, Cardinals, or even the Brewers.

Daniel Cabrera - The Orioles parted ways with this 5 year veteran on Friday after the hurler failed to post a winning record in any of the last four seasons. The 27 year old fireballer ended last year with an 8-10 mark and a 5.25 ERA. While Cabrera's final statistics are by no means head-turning, the fact that through through July first in 2008 he was able to compile a 5-1 record, 3.60 ERA and 10 straight quality starts, is what will land him a spot somewhere next year. Because he has a reputation (well deserved) of being unbelievably inconsistant, he will not be signing with any immediate contenders, but there are teams like the Padres (if they keep Peavy), Athletics, and Braves who have an outside shot at making a run at the playoffs and could afford to take a chance at around 2 million per. I could even see the Red Sox taking at a look at him and turing him into the long relief guy out of the pen, much like they did with Kyle Snyder a few year ago (very similar build and control issues).

Takashi Saito - The belief that the Dodgers are going to make a hard push for Trevor Hoffman has been confirmed by the team not offering 39 year old Takashi Saito a contract. Saito had a productive, but injury plagued 2008 campaign (4-4, 2.49, 60Ks in 47 IP) leading many teams to think his days as a quality bullpen arm are numbered. While not expected to sign anywhere as a closer, the Japanese born right hander could make his way to a legitimate team in need of an 8th inning type arm like the Diamondbacks, Giants, White Sox, or possibly even the Yankees.

Other notable non-tendered free agents include Joey Gathright (KC), Jonny Gomes (TB), Willy Taveras (COL), and Chuck James (ATL).

Posted on: December 11, 2008 3:58 pm
 

GM for a Day: Smoltz + Red Sox = Perfect Couple

Throw a Sox hat on this guy      

For the first time since his successful shoulder surgery in June, righty John Smoltz climbed to the top of a pitching mound earlier this week. Not only did he snap off his full repertoire of pitches, but he turned some heads as well.

One of those heads sat on the shoulders of Theo Epstein.

Smoltz, who is a free agent and on record as saying Boston is one of a very few places he would be willing to sign, is favored to land back in Atlanta where he has spent all 20 years of his career. The Tigers, who are of special significance since Smoltz is a Michigan native, are also interested in the future hall of famer.

Despite his allegiance to Atlanta or reveries of a heart-warming homecoming in Detroit, Boston is the best place for Smoltz.

In my estimation, by stating that he only wants to return to the Braves if they have a realistic chance of winning a World Championship is another way of saying, "Sorry Atlanta, but you are rebuilding and I'm gonna work the market and play for a winner". And who better to fit that bill than the Red Sox who came within one game of returning to their 3rd world series in 5 years?

One selling point is that the Sox have a specific void which needs to be filled: the fourth spot in their rotation. At 41 years of age (42 in May) Smoltz would be asked to be the ace in both Atlanta and Detroit. Putting that kind of presure on a surgically repaired arm can't be healthy...but Boston offers a low-risk option. Even if Smoltz doesn't return to Cy Young form, which is likely the case, he would be considered a success in Beantown if he went 14-8 with a 4.00 ERA...with those numbers he would be considered a flop elsewhere.

The Red Sox also have to think of the future of their rotation. Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden are supposedly still a little ways away from starting the season in the big leagues, but are both penciled in to be in the 2010 rotation. So where can Boston find a decent arm willing to sign only a one year deal? Tah-dah! John Smoltz, because of his recent arm problems, is only looking for a single year deal.

But Smoltz is a former Cy Young winner, isn't it going to cost an arm and a leg to sign this guy? Not so. Where as other 2nd tier hurlers like Oliver Perez (5 years $75 mil), Andy Pettitte (extended contract, $15 mil per year), and Ben Sheets (upwards of $14 mil) are all looking for around $15 million per season, Smoltz is testing the waters at $10 million! That has "steal" written all over it.

Just close your eyes for a minute and picture a playoff rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, and Smoltz....beautiful, isn't it? And unlike all the Peavy go-getters out there, this is actually realistic!

This deal makes perfect sense for both next year and the future...not to mention that fans will go nuts with such a big name signing. Don't expect Smoltz to be a 20 game winner, but he would, hands down, be the best number 4 starter in the league.

Posted on: December 4, 2008 1:44 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2008 1:49 pm
 

GM for a day: Lowell/Teixeira "Not about money"

I know that Major League Baseball is a business, but I also know that sometimes the game and the players in it have more at stake than just the bottom line.

I love the thought of having Mark Teixeira in the Red Sox lineup next year and with the winter meets right around the corner that might very well become a reality very soon. But at what cost?

When I say cost, I'm not referring to a dollar amount, but I'm speaking about the way the organization will be remembered for years to come. With the signing of Teixeira the Red Sox will most likely be shipping Mike Lowell off elsewhere as Youk makes the move to third. This is the same Mike Lowell who was the MVP of the 2007 World Series and signed with the Sox for $10 million less than he could have elsewhere.

Are we so fickle that we are willing to turn our back and end a relationship with a person who was our hero only a year ago and threw away $10 million to maintain this relationship? He said he stayed because of the teammates, the fans, and the town. He stayed because we are supposedly the best fans and organization in baseball, and if we want to prove that and earn the respect of players around the league so they might do the same as Lowell did, we shouldn't settle for throwing Lowell out the door.

Signing the best free agent out there doesn't make us a good team, having the right mix of guys that complete their roles perfectly is the formula for success, and Lowell is one of the pieces that helps the Red Sox succeed. Keeping that in mind, I'll leave you with Lowell's words from a year ago when he signed his 3 year $37 million deal with Boston:

"I have financial security so I'd like to believe I'm not all about money," Lowell said. "I feel like I'm more of a baseball player than a businessman. I kind of weighed where I felt comfortable, where I thought I could produce the best with the team that has a chance to win a world championship, and it was Boston. On top of that, we just won and I think I played with a set of teammates that are unparalleled and with a manager the same way and with a fan base that's unbelievable.

"I think all of those came into play. I really don't believe that everything should be about money. I've had teammates in the past that have gone to other places and sometimes they have second thoughts because they took more money elsewhere. I just didn't think my happiness should just be bought by dollars."

Doesn't that sound like a guy you want playing for your team?

Posted on: December 2, 2008 3:14 pm
 

Jim Rice Hall of Fame bound?

Perhaps I'm merely biased and simply love the idea of another Red Sox star being inshrined into baseball's holyland, but when faced with the question as to whether or not Jim Rice should be voted into the Hall of Fame this year my answer is a resounding Y-E-S!

The voting writers claim that in order to be considered as a candidate for Cooperstown you must be a "dominating" player of your generation. Here are several reasons why Jim Rice was just that:

Career Prime: During the 12 years of Jim Rice's prime (1975-86), he hit at a .303 clip while averaging over 30 HRs and 107 RBI a season. He hit over .315 4 times, 4 times had more than 120 RBI, and also hit 39 or more homeruns 4 times. That is outstanding.

All-star teams: Jim Rice was selected to 8 All star teams during those 12 years in his prime. The four years he wasn't selected were 1975: finished 3rd in MVP voting and 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting; 1976: common Sophomore slump (still hit 25 HRs); 1981: injured, only accumulated 451 ABs; and 1982: WON THE MVP.

MVP Caliber: In addition to winning the MVP in '78, he earned a top-5 spot in the MVP voting 5 other times as well as votes in 2 other years (13th and 19th place).

Other honors: Rice twice won the silver slugger award for best hitter at his position and in his only World Series appearance against the Mets in 1986 hit .333 with 6 walk, 6 runs, a double, and a triple in 27 ABs.

15 years has been a long time to wait, but a 1st ballot Hall of Famer and 15th ballot inductee are both inshrined together. Let the anxiety begin.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com