I was in an extreme state of Nirvana in Florida for the past week,using my time there very wisely observing Boston Red Sox pitching and catching,as well as Batting Practices. I think I actually made it to the field before the players and coaches did.
OK,so my favorite subject in baseball,especially Red Sox baseball is PITCHING. And after making so many field observations, and speaking to some pitchers and coaches, I will share my Preseason Pitching Ponderings with you. I am fairly straightforward on this subject,and realize that this is a very touchy subject…..and everyone has their favorites – but here goes.
Clay Buchholz started as a bright light, that eventually partially fades in order to join the masses. He is newly buff,and confident and steady, now that’s important!! He is calmer on the mound,and is learning to trust Varitek’s calls more. He wants to be successful this time around, so he is working hard. I still believe in my gut that they are putting him out there to be seen (“Highlighted”) to use him in a trade sometime this year. Clay’s not stupid,he knows it too. Whatever happens,as he ages,he will gain the experience he needs to succeed.
Justin Masterson is a SUPERSTAR. He is the Future Horse of the Boston Red Sox, no question. He is strong and well-grounded, a real clubhouse guy. He will pay his dues and go wherever they want him, starting or bullpen, because he knows it will pay-off in the end. The kid is so powerful, and has so much time to hone his skills and take his aggression down a few steps. I look forward to seeing him pitch for many years to come, and there should be a fat paycheck soon for that boy. I still remember seeing him stare-down A-Rod in September.
Daniel Bard is a lanky kid with a spitfire fastball that you can’t even see!! And it’s consistent too, he will go down to the minors to work hard and put his time in,and I think that they will be using him a bit at Fenway this summer too. The kid has great stuff, very exciting to watch.
Junichi Tazawa is a phenom, a gifted boy that will learn to control his arm and hit his spots in the minors this year. I think he may have been dissappointed to be sent down, but we are so loaded with pitching,we can afford to take our time to get these kids game-ready.
Michael Bowden is an intense power pitcher that has been great as a starter in the minors,but may be used in the Sox bullpen before year’s end. He, like Masterson needs to control the aggression impulse and take things more calmly. He will be extremely valuable.
I cannot speak of pitchers without mentioning my elation of personally observing the gifts that both of our new veteran pitchers on my happy list have to give to us as fans. Watching Takashi Saito pitch in last Friday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was a thrill. The man has some very powerful stuff, and is very healthy and ready to go. I have no doubt that he will be instrumental to us earning a top spot in the AL East in 2009.
And Brad Penny, my other top pick will be another strong addition to the Red Sox starting lineup. What a powerhouse arm, I find myself worrying that he may dislocate something in his pitches!! If he can stay healthy, it will not only be a great year for him, but for our Red Sox.
As always, I enjoyed watching the funky throws of Okajima and Lopez, and it’s a religious experience watching Beckett and Lester throw lights-out stuff. Our Captain surely has his workload full this year wrangling all these studs and colts together to create a winning season. (And I predict that John Smoltz will be quite a handful.)
This year will prove to be a thrilling grind for players and fans alike, so enjoy!!!!
May the Sox be with you all.
Back to the cold March days in New England.It seemed like yesterday that the hot sun was on me and I was watching the Boys of Summer while sipping an ice cold lemonade and cheering my heart out from my dugout seats at City of Palms Park.It was yesterday!!
Arrived in sunny Florida on the 1st day of spring (Vernal Equinox) and scored an upgrade in my car rental. Drove straight to City of Palms Park so I could catch BP and team warm-ups for some great photos.We all cheered in the concrete shade as the woman wrote in the day’s lineup on the wall. Excellent!! Went back to my seat and met Michael Bowden and Daniel Bard. For all the fans who watched the St.Patrick’s Day game on tv, the Leprechan who was in Jerry’s booth…works at the park !!
Pedroia and Youkilis and Drew and Papi were all in great form at Batting Practice. Youk did not play until Monday though. I was excited to see Brandon Moss play,even though he was on the opposing team. He was such a good kid, not his fault he was traded so they could get rid of Manny. Clay Buchholz was great on Friday,he seems to have a lot more confidence now,and more power to his pitches too. Varitek’s stance is different now,less movement,more hits…great!! JD Drew was hit in the wrist by a pitch and had to leave the game. Later on in the game when the kids came in for the veterans,Kottaras was on fire. Some older guy in the stands got hit in the head by a ball,and had to be taken out by ambulance. Final score was Red Sox 11, Pittsburgh Pirates 4.
I noticed that Terry Francona was not at the game and thought it was strange. Turns out that he was in Quantico, VA. to watch his son graduate from the U.S. Marine Corps. Officer Candidate School. Congrats to the Francona family.
City of Palms park sold out 83 straight games as of Friday and keeps breaking attendance records daily.
Lots of new additions to the army this year. Extra work for Farrell and Tek to fit in before opening day to get all those different arms in top playing shape to compete. Some big city papers and online articles are calling my boys “The Walking Wounded”. Maybe so, but that just shows the confidence that the front office and team have in the 2009 additions, and returning injured of 2008. As long as they have backups for the players when they get injured, they are OK. J D Drew is an incredible hitter and outfielder, but may not play everyday because of his back. Jacoby Ellsbury is not used to playing a full season, and no longer has Coco to back him up. Rocco Baldelli will be a good fill-in or replacement for them when needed, and has a great arm. Mikey Lowell has not yet run down at Spring Training, so he is cautiously optimistic of having a healthy year, and we do not have Mark Kotsay to fill in yet until at least May. Smoltz will be added to the rotation in June, and Penney and Saito look to be good additions to watch. I hope to see more of Michael Bowden this summer, he has a steady powerful arm and does not waiver. I think that even if one or two of our guys get injured, there is enough backup to be stellar throughout the season. So, don’t be angry at the people who say “Walking Wounded” to our Sox, because flying under the radar has it’s advantages. Enjoy the warm Florida sun boys, because soon you’ll be SHIPPING ON UP TO BOSTON ! Go Sox !
May The SOX Be With You.