Tagged: Pitchers

hell of a life, kid

Congratulations, Lester, for the nod and for the fantastic season.

  

From last year, taking the Red Sox to its final win for the World Series, to a no-hitter, and one of the most solid performances of any Red Sox starter this year, to being the one to kick off the post season, game one.

Hell of a life, kid. Live it, love it, enjoy it.

All photos from Boston.com
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27 September: SF vs LAD

Innings watched: From the top of the 7th to the end.

Observations:
– In some way, the Dodgers have been a collector of previous Red Sox hot shots. And now those guys get another post-season shot.
– Joe Torre in a LAD unifrom.
– LAD closer Saito… there really is a trend of hiring Japanese players.

Highlights:
– The hit that broken the Dodgers out of the 1-1 tie.
– The “show of emotion” as the broadcasters called it, at the end of the 8th.

Dodgers also announced the pitching rotation for the first three and Lowe has the privilege of starting the series. I wonder if the postseason clinch is a trend of the Torre touch? 

ah haha

OK, I know pitchers are key to the games. I know pitchers invest a lot and teams therefore invest a lot in pitchers and into their arms to throw 100+ pitches at speeds faster than a majority of us will ever push out cars.

But, seriously, I have to chuckle when I see these two articles gracing the same front page:
Colon put on DL for swinging too hard.
Wang sidelined for running bases.

I mean, c’mon. These guys all had to learn to hit and run as kids to even make it up to the majors. It’s basic range of motion and cardio. It’s athleticism and being in shape. We’re not asking them to hit Ortiz and Drew scopes. Just swing. If you miss, fine.

Oh dear.

Welcome back, Colon

It took a bit of run support, but Colon got his first win since last June.

The biggest beneficiary in this venture is Colon himself.

The Red Sox signed him with hopes of bringing a CY Young pitcher back to his glory. Into a minor league contract. How much risk has the front office assumed? Not much, really. Worst case scenario, he’s a bust. There are many minor leagues who spend most of their careers there. Colon would just go down as the man who once was. Best case, he recovers his health and resumes throwing heat. In that case, not only did the Sox gain a pitcher with proven record and experience, but they did so at a bargain price.

The team already had many strong pitchers. And a well-rounded group at that. Varying by age, style, and experience, the pitchers provide a powerful lineup backed by a powerful offense. They were already on a winning streak. They have secured their lead in the eastern division with confidence of maintaining that lead. What’s one game to lose if the gamble on Colon didn’t pay off?

Colon, on the other hand, had everything to gain in this. He could save his career. He could make it back to major leagues as a starting pitcher. He could rebuild his value and bargaining position for the next contract. He, very simply put, could become another great.

So the gambled paid off. And Colon picks up his first win as a Red Sox player. He looked strong. Fortunately, he also had the run support from the offense.

Nicely done, Red Sox.

Featuring: another future pitcher

I am wholy impressed by how the Red Sox had picked out some superb young players. And how those players are being to show their raw talent.

Sure, we’ve got Dice-K with his 7-0 streak. We’ve got Beckett who is still considered one of the strongest pitchers in major league. But the starts this week are the new kids. The guys who broadcasters still call “the next generation of pitchers” as if they haven’t been considered full pitchers yet.

Masterson is one of the newest examples. I remember watching him at Fort Myers during spring training. He didn’t really do well down there. But time and warming up into the minors have treated him well. He gave the Red Sox two impressive starts, rendering his first to a no-decision which was not his fault.

What awes me about Masterson is his sheer physical pressence. Even in a sport of big guys, at 6’6″ he is on the taller end. It’s not the height though. As a rower I am constantly surrounded by guys that tall and sometimes a few even taller. But with gangly limbs like that, the kid is only going to get stronger. I would hate to be on the otherside of his pitch.

Indeed, the Sox has invested in the next generation of players. But I bet even some of them are surprised by how quickly the investments are paying off.  

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It’s been over 24 hours. But how can you not like a kid that talks like this?

And, the Roster

Depending on which version you want… the official Red Sox website, if they had updated recently.

… or the Globe reporters’, which features pictures of a very familiar roster.

Observations:
– Lugo, as much as we cringe, is still shortstop.
– Cash replaces Mirabelli.
– Schilling very much an unknown, leaving Backhholz to take slot # 5, much to many fans’ joy although the kid is still struggling with control
– Lester takes slot # 3
– Wakefield is back and looking as sharp as ever
– Pedroia remains by far the shortest kid on the field
– Ellsbury makes the 25-man roster

A lot of familiar faces. In fact, almost completely identical. For a Red Sox fan to see a returning champion team… it’s a new feeling, something we have not experienced in living memory, and it brings goosebumps. To 2008, a brand new season with many high hopes.

Whom to feature?

Final thoughts before I hit the sack.

The Red Sox has four games to play in Japan. Two exhibition games against Japanese teams and two against the A’s as the season opener.

A lot of the focus has been on Beckett and his back problems and how he might not be pitching in the opener against the A’s. There there’s the speculation on who fills in the “ace” slot and well as who gets the honour of taking the first game.

All this comes down to symbolism, really. The concept of an “ace” is identifying one individual who is deem the “best” and the one to get the team started on the right foot. It’s no guarantee that he will get the team a win. It’s no guarantee that there is one clear ace in a team.

For the Red Sox, there was. Beckett had the only 20 wins in the majors last year (it pleases me to still see his stat sitting on the mlb.com page with the gigantic number 20). He was the pitcher that gave the team their few wins in the end of the month when the team went through a slump of sorts, dropping the 10+ win lead over the Yankees down to periously close to 0. His second game led to the pivotal turn-around on a losing streak against the Indians for the ALCS. There’s something about the way he pitches and the way he works that encourages the team and makes them think they can win. It is Beckett that made me understand the term and the meaning of an “ace.”

Part of it, I suspect, is psychological. Yes, he pitches well. But even the games when his pitching was not as clean as it could be, the team’s offense would be more aggressive and the run support would start coming in. There’s something about the assurance of having one of your strongest teammates playing side-by-side with you.

So, back to the opener. No one has mentioned who would pitch in the exhibition games. Well, technically, they don’t count towards the season, yes, but those are more of outreach or ambassadorial functions, aren’t they?

Dice-K: By default would probably have had to pitched at one of the two games against the A’s, partly because he’s in Japan, and mostly because he still remains a Japanese symbol and MLB wants to convey the gesture of appreciation and friendship by giving the Japanese another chance to watch their greatest star play one more time. But all that is trumped by his expecting his second child. As a woman, I say, good for you to get your priorities straight.

I have to ask: is he *that* good? I have watched him pitch only a couple of times, even on tv. I had not been impressed. He’s not bad. But I find that he’s not all that awe-inspiring, to be honest. I am more impressed by his compatriot Okajima.

Lester: I’m glad he is given the consideration. He truly is one special kid. And inspiring. Looking beyond all that emotional stuff, though, he has provided very solid outings lately in the spring training games. He’s delivering and he’s delivering as a starting pitcher. He already showed that he could by finishing off the World Series for the Sox. It would be oddly nice to have him pitching the next official game, the opener, wouldn’t it?

Wakefield: Is, to me, the true star of the spring training season. I was lucky to watch his start last week. Crisp, solid, clean, confident are words that come to mind to describe his performance. So far, two appearances, five innings, 0.00 ERA and 2 hits. The best of the batch. Remember the heart-breaking news last fall that he would not be playing in the World Series? Remember how his shoulder injury was gut-wrenching news to the Red Sox fans? Especially after an impressive 17-win season, at age of 41. Few fans know the Red Sox long enough to remember a team without Wakefield. He first joined the Sox in 1995. He has been on the team the longest- now, in a world of trades and free agency, *that* makes his a true Red Sox player both in heart and in uniform. And he intends to stay to hold the record as the most games won, pitching for the Red Sox. He currently ranks second with 154, trailing to Cy Young and Clemens’ 192. If I haven’t made my case on how he is a Red Sox lifer- he just did for himself. He probably wants to shoot for 200 and he wants to stay long enough to do that.

So, with all that, if it can’t be Beckett, Wakefield deserves the honour to start the opener. Ace or not, Wakefield has poured his heart and soul for the Sox longer and more sincerely than anyone else. And I would love to see him given the nod.