PhilSox Blog: March 2008


Red Sox Grab Matsuo

Monday, March 31, 2008
After a hot-stove season where I had to sometimes really search for things to post about, today is opening day and I have so many things to touch on that I had trouble figuring out where to begin. But after the lackluster start that Lester had last week and the poor showing of Buchholz over spring training (10.03 ERA) I decided that the Red Sox picking up another hurler was probably the biggest news of the weekend. The newest bit of Japanese for Sox fans to learn is Teramasu Matsuo, the free agent that the pick-up from Independent Shikoku League.

Matsou was the league MVP last season, posting a 15-3 record over 30 starts. He boasted a 1.72 ERA and 159 strike-outs, and his '06 season wasn't shabby either!

Matsuo is reporting to extended spring training in Florida and we'll just have to wait to see when and in exactly what capacity we get to see his first pitch in a Sox uniform.

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Canseco’s Motives?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
For those of you who have been pining away for the next literary masterpiece from Jose Conseco, the waiting is almost over. Scheduled to be release on April 1st (like that doesn't say something!) is his newest tome, "Vindicated: Big Names, Big Liars, and The Battle to Save Baseball," which it is safe to assume will be written with the same middle-school flair (and writing level) as his first book, "Juiced." Of course the less than cerebral writing won't be the only thing that the two books have in common as the new release is said to contain new names. According to various press outlets, we'll* read about Roger Clemens (yawn) and what Jose knows about the Rocket's use. We'll also hear about how Canseco shot up Magglio Ordonez with some drug or another while the two were teammates on the White Sox. But the claim he'll et the most mileage out of is that he introduced Alex Rodriquez to a drug dealer named "Max" while Canseco and A-Rod were both on the Rangers. Excerpts from the book were apparently leaked and state that Canseco is claiming that A-Rod asked him for the introduction, but that Canseco never saw him actually using taking anything.

The "…Battle to Save Baseball" portion of that title invokes all sorts of thoughts about a valiant soul who's trying, though brutal honesty, to set things right again. Canseco portrays himself as one who wants to weed out the liars, believing (so it seems) that this is the only real way to break free of the steroid era in baseball once and for all.

While this is all very romantic andJose 'Guido' Canseco wonderful, it is important to remember a few realities. First, Canseco was successful as a baseball player because he cheated. He was not caught because he was (is?) an excellent sneak and an accomplished liar. "Juiced" was billed as a "tell all" book. The problem there (well, one of them) is that it didn't tell all, or at least that's what Canseco would have us believe. Now we have his second installment, with some new names. Add all this together and it, to be honest, smells funny.

The version of the story at Sports Illustrated shows a photo of Canseco all "Guido-ed" with his slicked back hair and his necklace-thing behind a suit and shirt minus the tie. He certainly dresses the part of an underworld hood, which seems like truth in advertising. When questioned about giving more details, Canseco asserted that he wants to wait to see if "they" call him a liar again. This must reference the initial reactions to "Juiced", and in the end, many of the claims that Canseco made in that volume bore out to be true.

In the end, Canseco's motives seem obvious to most. OK. Maybe we can give a ratio of 9/1 – 90% needing rent and hair gel money, 10% zeal for justice. That might even be too generous, though.

*Well, not "we'll", really. I'd opt for a root canal before picking up "Vindicated". I'm still not totally over my experience reading the first half of "Juiced".

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Even at .500...A's 5 - Sox 1

(PRE-GAME NOTES) What can I say... The Lord giveth and then he taketh away.

Manny hit his 491st jack in the sole bright spot in today's Red Sox loss. The low? Well, today's three strikeouts for Tek makes him zero for eight with 6 k's! Moss was nowhere near his second home run in the majors today, as he had three k's of his own. Lester gave up 6 hits and 4 earned runs in 4 innings. Also, Tito showed some questionable logic when he put Lopez in to face a left-handed Jake Cust (who drew a walk.) So, not a lot to focus on for a positive spin, you know.

Hey, at least this Japan trip is officially over.

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Crunch Time

Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The Red Sox have had to make some adjustments during this current visit to Japan. While many Japanese delicacies were available to the team, Kevin Cash still prefers his Cookie Crisp cereal. Unfortunately, there were no bowls available for the new back-up catchers breakfast, so bullpen coach Gary Tuck was utilized to help Cash.

"Breakfast, as you know," said Tuck, "is the most important meal of the day.

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2008 Season Opener: Sox 6 - A's 5

Manny was pumped after knocking in two in the tenth!(PRE-GAME NOTES) Thank you, Jesus, for delivering me from the hot-stove desert into the promised land of the 2008 season! Thank you further for the base running error by Emil Brown, because that is truly what gave the Red Sox today's win. Thank you XM Radio for allowing me to hear the Brandon Moss homer in the top of the ninth that tied the game. Thank you, that allowed me to watch Paps in the bottom of the tenth squeak out his first save of the season. Thank you for this victory over the Athletics of Oakland.

Baseball is here! The Red Sox are a half game up on the Yankees (and everyone else, for that matter.) All is right in the world, at least until tomorrow.

What a game for an opener! Manny gets 4 RBI, thanks in part to the psychosis that so many opposing managers who like to IBB Ortiz to get to ManRam (Even in games such as this where Papi is hitless and Manny already has two RBI. Go figure.) J.D. Drew, a late scratch because of something back related, is replaced by Moss who comes through in the clutch. My favorite moment was Ellsbury's simply amazing catch in center that almost surely saved a run from scoring. I'd like to describe it to you, but you have to see it to understand.

I was up rather late last night so I did not get up for the first pitch, but I did tune in on ESPN 2 early enough to see the three run 6th that gave the Sox a short-lived lead. I then followed the game with a succession of ESPN, XM, and (that Jesus for acronyms, too!)

I won't be working late tonight, so I'm planning on setting the alarm to watch Lester (who I think is going to have a break-out season) take the mound tomorrow.

Finally, thank the Lord for baseball itself. It is truly a miracle!


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Is Howard Destined to Leave?

Monday, March 24, 2008
Without getting into any detail, the Philadelphia Inquirer posted a blurb in its "Phillies Notes" for today that, for me, seems to indicate the beginning of the end of Ryan Howard's time as a Phil. PI mentions Miguel Cabrera's gigantic contract extension with Detroit (8 years, $153.3 million) new starting point for Howard in future negotiations with the team. While Howard cannot become a free agent until 2011, some speculate that the Phillies would be looking to negotiate a long term deal much sooner. Is it realistic, though, to expect Philly to lay out that kind of dough?

Howard recently got his hand a bit deeper into the franchise's pockets after winning an arbitration hearing that got him more money than any player ever with less than 2 years service ($10 million). Their 2007 payroll was $89,428,213, with another $7 millions going out to Jim Thome. This year's payroll is (so I'm hearing) already going to be over $100 millions. Bringing Howard into Cabrera's "ballpark" would essentially double his yearly bill. Jimmy Rollin's current 5-year, $40 million contract ends after 2010. Chase Utley's 7-year, $85 million is good through 2013.

Do Philly fans need to be thinking about life after Howard today. Surely not. The season is about to start and we have every reason to believe we'll see Howard smack home run 300 in a Phillies uni. But after that? Well, let's not kid ourselves. The Phillies need to do this! Howard is the greatest thing to come from their farm system in a long, long time. The team likes to throw chunks of money at guys like Freddy Garcia, Adam Eaton, Rod Barajas and Wes Helms (with out much payoff) but took Howard to arbitration. Then the media (at least many of them) acted surprised when Howard won. Also, if they (the Phils) keep doing this kind of thing to Howard for the next two seasons, he just may decide to move on regardless of the offers.

So, the question then seems to be as to whether Phillies ownership reads guys like Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News. He's calling for the ownership to sell the team because of their unpreparedness to do what's going to win a championship. Or, on the other hand, do the powers that be look only at dollars in vs. dollars out?

こんにちは, Tigers!*

Saturday, March 22, 2008
Everyone else in my house was in bed last night when I sat down in front of my laptop to watch the Red Sox take on the Hanshin Tigers. I must say, it was an interesting experience.

On, there was no English play-by-play. Listening to the Japanese announcers was fun bordering on hilarity! Even the between pitch banter was funny to listen to, given the fact that I understood almost none of it. It was a little bit of a pain trying to follow the game because the on-screen graphic for score and count was on and off throughout the time I watched. I finally fell asleep about the 7th inning, but found out this morning that the Sox held on to win, 6 - 5.

Some noteworthy points. Buchholz looked a little less that impressive, giving up 4 of the Tigers 5 runs. I still believe that there is some correlation to this and the fact that the Japanese baseball is smaller that the MLB official size. Buchholz has several balls in the dirt and at least one wild pitch that moved runners.

Papi and J.D. Drew didn't seem to mind the difference in ball size, both hitting jacks in the first inning. Another cool thing to see was Dusty Brown gunning a speedy Fujimoto in the bottom of the ninth to help Papelbon get the save. But where is Cash? After all that news about Mirabelli being released because Cash can handle the knuckler, I don't even seem him listed on the 40-man roster. He came into pinch hit for Ortiz in the game (more confusion) but is still listed as a non-roster invitee? What's going on there?

As much fun as it was to watch the Sox in a game where there was a bit more emphasis on winning than in the Spring Training games, I'll still be very glad when this Japan trip is over and we can all concentrate on April.

*Translation: "Hello, Tigers!"

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Fatherly Pride

Thursday, March 20, 2008
Recently, my mother, who loves to shop online, found something the just had to order for my four year old, Steven. When we were waiting for it to arrive, she described it as some "some sort of ball" that had something to do with the Red Sox. When it finally came, we say that it was a regualtion baseball, with the words "Boston Red Sox" on one side and the old fashioned logo on the other. Not only was it "dirtied", as in mudded like balls are when prepped for games, it came with a holder that looks like a Fenway seat! (OK, maybe not a Fenway seat, but a ballpark seat, and it folds up, too!) She said she only paid like $10 for it, but I thought it was pretty cool, and so did Steven, whose been staring at the three baseballs I received with the SI World Series package with lust in his eyes.

Steven goes to a preschool program at our local YMCA. Today they were scheduled to have show-and-tell. When I got up this morning, my wife says to my son, "Tell your father what you're taking for show-and-tell."

"I'm taking my baseball, Dad!" he exclaims. "I'm gonna tell then how the Red Sox won the World Series and how this is the old-time logo, and then I'll show them how to throw a curve, just like you showed me."

After advising him not to actually "throw" the curve as part of the demo, I just stood and smiled and realized how my plan to guide my son toward proper fandom is really working!

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Thanks, Hank!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The lastest in Hank Steinbrenner's jabs at the Red Sox was his comments about Jonathan Papelbon. In terms of keeping the Red Sox - Yanker rivalry interesting, I want to say "Thanks!" to the big Junior Windbag from the Bronx.

It all started, of course, when Hank made the comments about Red Sox Nation and expressed his delusion about how the United States should be subtitled "Yankeeland". The, Paps, when asked by The Courant about Hank's insult, stated:

"I don't know if he's trying to stir things up or not. I sure as hell don't
care, because he sure as hell hasn't stepped foot on a baseball field. He needs
to just stick to pencil-pushing, I guess.

Hank didn't like this. He responded:

"Being insulted by Papelbon is like being attacked by a mouse."

and then...

"So now, all of a sudden, this player, this 20-something kid who really doesn't
know his way in the world, comes out with a personal insult. There's no excuse
for that."

Somehow, Hank doesn't see how saying that Red Sox Nation is a "bunch of $#@!" might just be construed as insulting. No, in his mind, gentle ribbing was made into horrible mudslinging by Papelbon's assertion that Hank never played baseball. He hasn't ever played, has he?

But in the end, the truth of the matter is the the real difference between Papelbon's comments and Hank's is that Paps are for real. Hank's is all so much B.S., the intent of which is to make headlines and beef up a rivalry that Yankee fans have sort of tired of since it stopped being like the rivalry between a hammer and nail. Now that things are a bit more even, Hank wants to get the stuff stirred up because, in the end, it's all about the dollars. Just ask the teams that the Yankers "subsidize".

The rivalry does make the season more insteresting. If the majority of the Yanker fans that I know weren't prone to resort to horrible profanity and slurs against my mother when I make a valid point while discussing things, I'd be even more happy. But as it is, I want to say thanks to Hank. While he wants to do business with John Henry and he's a major contributor to the Jimmy Fund, he can keep pretending that his jabs at the Sox are about fun and passion when they're really about dollars and cents.

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I Don't Get It

Monday, March 17, 2008
What does this mean?
“If you've got any mirrors in your house, go look at them,”

Charlie Manuel, Phillies Manager, said this to the press recently about the teams abysmal spring training performance. (Read here.)

I'm upset, too. But someone clue me in on just what the heck that line means. Please!


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Hamels Not Happy?

The latest player who has forgotten what a lucky stiff he is: Cole Hamels of the Phillies. Cole doesn't have enough time in to qualify for arbitration, so he had to settle for the $500k the Phillies are giving him instead of the $700k that he wanted. While no one would have been upset if the Phils had given him the dough, I can't help but think how happy I'd be if I were in his shoes!

Top Three Reason Cole Hamels Should Be Happy:

3. This is his wife, Heidi*...

2. $500,000 is a good deal of money. When you complain about $500k, it isn't because you "need" more, it's because you believe you're worth more. Yes, Hamels had 15 wins in 28 starts last season. The year before he was 9 and 8 in 23 starts. He has some history of injuries. Is it so much to ask that the 24 year old put in a little more time before we assume he's the next Nolan Ryan?

1. He's playing baseball! His job is to play a game. In the end, this is the reason why I hat to hear any of these guys complain.

*Yes. That is ex-Survivor star (season 6), ex-Playboy pin-up, Heidi Strobel!

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Special Day for Dice-K

Saturday, March 15, 2008
Tomoyo, the wife of Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, gave birth to the couple's second child this morning. The story on the MLB site doesn't include the name of the baby, the couple's first son. One of the most talked about situations in this past off-season, the timing was an issue for Sox fans as it was unknown whether he'd be able to make the trip to Japan for the season opener against Oakland. MLB is now reporting that the birth (mother and son are said to be fine) all but assures Dice-K's inclusion in the Japan trip. This, of course, is welcomed news because of Josh Beckett's ailing back and Curt Schilling's recent (and very much expected) inclusion on the 60-day DL. Without Dice-K, the Red Sox were probably looking at Wakefield and Lester to start the two games against the AL East Althletics. While checking some links o gather a few details about Matsuzaka for this post, I stumbled across a story about some other special days in his history. Now, this is probably old news for folks in the know, but in case this is not true, let me pass on the story of the 1998 "Summer Kōshien", Japans national high school baseball championships.

Matsuzaka pitched a 140 pitch complete game shut-out to get Yokohama High School into the quarter finals. The next day, he pitched a 250 pitch, 17 inning masterpiece to lift his team over PL Gakuen. The
next day, he started in the out field, but came in and threw 15 pitches in relief, getting his third win in three days when Yokohama scored 7 runs in the eighth and ninth innings to win the game and put them into the final. Matsuzaka started that final game, and got his fourth win in as many days with a perfect game! It was only the second shut-out ever in the history of "Summer Kōshien".

I suppose we can assume that the Japan fans will be as happy to see in the line-up as we are?

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2008 Predicitons

Thursday, March 13, 2008
I've updated this ti include MVPs, ROYs, and Rolaids Relief Man for both leagues. I was reminded of these omissions by this contest. The original post was on 3/11/08.

Before teams pack up and head home from the lands of grapefruit and cacti (or, in the Sox case, head to the land of the rising sun,) I wanted to weigh in on the upcoming season and make soem predicitions to see if I really know as little as I think I do about everyone but the Phillies and Red Sox.

My Predictions:

Most Improved Team - Giants

I think once the focus is off the Barry Bonds, the rest of the team is going to step-up and be surprising.

Most Opposite-of-Improved Team - Rockies

Last year was a fluke. Pure and simple.

Greatest Decrease in Attendance - Giants

More wins not withstanding, less Barry, less gate.

Greatest Increase in Attendance - Rays

These guys are about to come out of the cellar and I think we'll see the fans come out of the woodwork.

Most Surprising (Good) Team Performance - Reds

Just a gut feeling.

Most Surprising (Bad) Team Performance - Padres

No reason why they should sink, but I think they will.

Manager of the Year - Joe Torre

Not quite "worst to first", but close.

Scapegoat of the Year - (3-way tie) Bud Black (Padres), Clint Hurdle (Rockies), Joe Girardi (Yankees)

The first two because a bad year after a good year always gets blamed on the manager, unless there are a ton of injuries. Girardi? No matter what he does, Hank is going to give him grief for not winning it all.

Most Surprising (Bad) Pitcher - Johan Santana

Again, just a gut feeling. Don't get me wrong, he's not going to be horrible, but no 20 wins, no Cy Young, no World Series. It's not sour grapes. There is just too much hype for him to live up to, while batting, to boot. I'm thinking 32 appearances, 2 complete, 14 wins, 3.30 ERA.

Most Surprising (Good) Pitcher - Jon Lester

Jon is going to win 20 this year and take up the Schilling slack. 33 starts, 1 complete, 20 wins, 2.89 ERA.

Most Surprising (Bad) Hitter - Prince Fielder

I don't think he'll have another year like last. Again, not horrible. just average. 29 HR, .296 BA.

Most Surprising (Good) Hitter - Alex Rodriguez

As much as it pains me, I think A-Rod will be AL MVP again. The only reason it is surprising is because the team will do worse and no ne would think that A-Rod could do that good two years runing! 61 HR, .340 BA, 152 RBI, and a Gold Glove at 3rd!

Alex Rodriguez - NYY

David Wright - NYM

Cy Young AL
Justin Verlander - DET

Cy Young NL
Jake Peavy - SD

Evan Longoria - TB

Kosuke Fukodome - CHC

Rolaids Relief Man AL
Jonathan Papelbon - BOS

Rolaids Relief Man NL
Takashi Saito - LAD






*Red Sox9765
White Sox8874
Blue Jays8082










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2008 Phillies Projections

These also are from a combination of sources.





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2008 Red Sox Projections

The following charts and graphs are based on a combination of data gathered from Bill James and ZIPS.




These pie charts are based on the batting data as seen above. They show the ratios of various events based on projected at bats.











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Shelley Duncan is Full of #$%!

No long commentary. No wordy argument. Just two things. Shelley Duncan said of his slide into second base "There was no spiking in my eyes." Now I ask you. Does this look like the slide if a guy who's trying to beat the throw and get to the bag?

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Photo Issues on This Blog

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I recently decided to move my personal domain hosting to a new provider. In the process, all the images I had hosted vai the old host have been lost. I have back-ups of all of these, but I need to get them to the new server. In the mean time, there are a lot of photos missing frim past posts.

Sorry 'bout that!



Uncanny Comparison

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


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Top 10 Reasons the Yankees Annoy Me

Sunday, March 02, 2008
10. Living in the past - Yankee fans were always the first to yell about how the Sox hadn't won a series since 1918. They're all "here and now" when it suits their purpose. But in every other argument they resurrect artifacts with more fervor than Indiana Jones. Just to name a few... Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and every mention of about 21 of their 26 World Series titles.

9. The pinstripes - I'm sorry. I just don't like the look, on anybody. Pinstripes don't symbolize speed, grace, or anything related to sports. They symbolize staunch, stuffed-shirt, pomposity.

8. The emblem - Again, Yankee fans may argue that it is the most popular insignia ever, almost as universally recognized as, well, the swastika, but I fail to see the beauty. Who the hell came up with that font? Take a look at it broken apart:

7. New York City - I know it hasn't been cool to complain about NYC since 9/11, but for every good/great thing about that metropolis, there is at least on bad/horrible thing. The last time I was there, I stood next to a man pissing in a bottle at 2 in the afternoon. We were in front of FAO Schwartz. Any questions?

6. RDD - Retail Delusional Disorder - You see, Yankee fans talk about a how the Yankee emblem and Yankee gear is the most popular of all teams. While this is certainly true, the fans never talk about just why. Sure, they have a huge fan base. No argument there. But the Yankee logo has become a fashion statement. There is a rather large segment of the population that wears the logo not because they know anything or care in the least about the Yankees. They have as much loyalty to the Bronx Bombers as they do the Dolce & Gabbana, or Fendi. Then you need to add in the rapper crowd that wears Yankee colors as a statement, but not the statement, "New York Yankees are the finest in baseball." I believe that if you could round up every person in the country that owns an article of officially licensed Yankee gear, that less than half would be able to tell you who the current manager is, how many rings the Yankees have, or what song is played at the end of games at Yankee stadium.

5. No Heart - While many teams (especially the Red Sox) have high priced talent, the Yankees players, more often than not, seem like hired guns. They smile little and they seem more like 1960's FBI agents than guys who get paid a ton of money to play the wonderful game of baseball.

4. No Loyalty - Yankees have no objections to taking the high-priced, high talented player that they ridiculed and screamed profanity at the season before. They took Damon, they tried for Martinez (after all that who's your daddy crap.)

3. The Rules - No, not the Joba Rules, though they annoy me, too. I'm referring to the no facial hair, no long hair, no personality, no style, no fun rules. Like I said, 1960's FBI.

2. The Steinbrenners - I always get asked the question about why I can stomach the Red Sox $146 million budget, but the Yankees payroll annoys me. The answer is the ownership. I can't impugn the business sense of these lads. They've created one of the most successful businesses in the world. But I'm not particularly interested in the business side of baseball. To me, it is the downside, to be sure. But if there is any doubt that business is the prime motivator for the Steinbrenners, I need to be versed. Sure, they make moves to win. But these moves are made with all the passion of an Exxon board meeting. Success is what they crave. Defeating the foes. Making as much money as humanly possible. Being able to pat themselves on the back. There is no love of baseball exhibited. There is absolutely nothing done in the name of fun. But worst of all, it is the ownership that is 50% responsible for the hatred that many feel for the Yankees. It's not the fact that they win so much. It's stories like that of Billy Martin, and now Joe Torre, showing the true hearts of the men at the helm, that sour so many to the Yankees.

1. The fans - Finally, the other 50%. The reason why the Yankees are hated is the people who love them. This vulgar group of sophomores that spends more time jeering at the Red Sox than they do cheering for the Yankees when the two teams play. The real reason the rivalry stays so heated no matter what. The way they can never, ever admit that anything the front office does was a mistake. The way the lambaste Sox fans for doing some of the same things that are accepted in Yankee fan circles. (Accents being the first thing that comes to mind.) While nothing could ever ruin the game for me, these folks come the closest. The constant ranting about 26 rings, blah, blah, blah. They try to sell you their team, ,talking about how wonderful and winning it is, then cry and moan about the "Pink Hat Brigade", the neo-Sox fans who have become Sox fans because of the team's recent success. Isn't jumping the bandwagon exactly what they'd like us to be doing? The issue isn't jumping on the bandwagon, its the wagon that gets chosen. Most of all, I get the impression that most of these fans are truly happiest when they are actively making some other, non-Yankee fan miserable.

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