Archive for September, 2010

Red Sox Officially Out

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

For the last few weeks, the Boston Red Sox were hanging on to the slimmest of hopes to remain in the playoff hunt.  But as the New York Yankees were able to win a few games recently, the magic number has finally reached zero.

With a chance to end up with 90 wins this season, the Sox are going to finish third in the very tough A.L. East.  There record with five games to go in the season has them in a dead heat with the Texas Rangers in the West and five games behind Minnesota in the Central.  But that is the curse of playing in the toughest division in baseball.  Without a doubt the wildcard will be either New York or Tampa Bay as they are half a game apart, and Minnesota also vying for home field advantage.

I know that I’ve stated this before, but it was impressive that the Sox made it last this long.  I thought for sure that they would have been eliminated a while ago after having key player after key player either be lost for the season or have a stint on the DL.  Yes, of course I get the fact that a team like the Red Sox who had $168M in salaries (including players who were on the books but on other teams) should be able to to have other players on their team who should still be better than the more frugal teams.

And I also know that I have brought this up earlier, but in the end it was the pitching that did them in.  Very highly paid starters had terrible seasons:

Player Salary
(millions)
Starts W L ERA
John Lackey $18.7 32 13 11 4.47
Josh Beckett $12.1 20 6 5 5.77
Daisuke Matsuzaka $8.33 24 9 6 4.72

Jon Lester $3.75 31 19 8 2.96
Clay Buchholz $443K 28 17 7 2.33

The first three cost over $39M this year (add about another $8.5M for the amortized posting fee for close to $48M) and combined for a 28-22 record.  On the other hand, the saving grace hasn’t been the pitchers acquired via free agency or trades, but the two homegrown kids who totaled a record of 36-15 while hardly a burden on the ownerships’ wallets at just over $4M.  Lester will end up around second in the league in wins and fourth in ERA, and Buchholz will finish second with his ERA just a few points behind leader Felix Hernandez.

The bullpen was spotty as well as the season progressed.  When Jonathan Papelbon wasn’t blowing saves (similar to Sunday night against the Yankees), he would make the outing an adventure; there never seemed to be an easy 1-2-3 ninth for him.   Daniel Bard provided some energy in the setup roll, and is apparently the heir to the closing roll.  For the most part, the rest just weren’t good.

To go along with all of these issues were some bad loses down the stretch.  From September 10th, Boston lost two-of-three games in Oakland, to Toronto and to Baltimore (a .395 team they were 9-9 against this season).

But the injuries definitely was thing that kept them out of the postseason.  They played a good chunk of the season with Mike Lowell at first, Bill Hall at second, newcomer Ryan Kalish in the outfield, and a slew of other minor leaguers to fill in.

And we that, the baseball season in Boston will go quietly into the night, with nothing more than gobs of trade and free agency rumors that will over saturate the airwaves and blogosphere… I’m sure I will be writing one soon anyway.

Patriots Week 2 Recap: New York Jets

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Well, that didn’t go according to plan.

And not a single thing I thought would happen ended up being the case.  New England’s offense and defense were very good in the first half; that was about the only thing that I got right.

Then the second half was anything but.

[Before I forget, that catch to with a minute left in the first half by Randy Moss was unbelievable.]

Watching Brady throw two picks, trying to exploit a Darrelle Revis-less Moss instead of continuing to use Wes Welkers and his new toys, the tight ends, just was too much to watch.  The running game gave them nothing, forcing third-and-longs on every series in the second half, and then not converting.  Then the Jets looked like the Patriots in the first half offensively, just marching down the field at will.

I know that the Patriots aren’t going 16-0 (again) and weren’t going to run the table in the AFL East this season, so maybe in the grand scheme of things, a road loss to the Jets might not be something to keep them out of the playoffs.  But if the defense can’t keep a supposed-suspect offense from constantly marching down the field, and if the offense gets shutout with 3 major players on the Jets defense out, then the wins might be hard to come by with their schedule.

Patriots Week 2: New York Jets

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

The season opener for the New England Patriots is in the books and ended much better than I initially thought it would.

Yes, everyone has been saying that the offense was going to be fine, though there are questions in the running game.  And since then, they traded away their former first-round draft pick and a sixth-round pick next year, for a fourth-round pick.  With Laurence Maroney now gone, there is an abundance of old running backs to go along with the younger BenJarvus Green-Ellis (25); Sammy Morris (33), Fred Taylor (34) and Kevin Faulk (34).

But the idea that there is not one but two viable receivers at the tight end position is what I think makes this offense extremely powerful.  In the end, I think that there will be just too many options to cover that Tom Brady can just stand there and pick a defense apart.  He was able to do just that in Week 1 over the Cincinnati Bengals, but a true test will be this weekend against the New York Jets.  The key match that will be the focus of attention will be Randy Moss (who is apparently going to play harder for a contact) versus Darrelle Revis (who just got his payday after a long holdout).  Assuming that Wes Welker (who looked like he never had ACL surgery in the offseason) will draw Antonio Cromartie, that would leave plenty of options still for Brady.

The defense was the big question mark coming out of the preseason, with a very young crew of in the backfield.  Against the much-ballyhooed Bengals offense, they practically shut them down for the first half.  I don’t know if Cincinnati was able to figure it out in the second half, or the fact that the Pats went into a prevent-defense since they were up 31-3 very early in the half, but 3 touchdowns were scored.

So the week 2 matchup between these two rivals will line up as these two questions: Can the high-powered New England offense out-gun the great New York defense?  And, can the struggling Jets offense put up enough points against a young Pats defense?

I don’t think that New York will be limited to field goals all season long.  Baltimore has one of the top defenses in the league, so it can make any defense look terrible.  But on the flip side, I don’t think that the Baltimore offense is that great, so it made the Jets defense look fantastic.  So with the shortened week to give both sides less time to heal, this should help the Pats with the trip to the Meadowlands.

Red Sox Racing for their Tee Times

Monday, September 6th, 2010

With 20 games left in the 2010 season, the Boston Red Sox are limping their way to the finish line of what will be remembered as a miserable season that was marred by injuries but was seemingly within reach until the end.

John Lackey Dejection

John Lackey has underperformed for the 2010 season.

The most frustrating part was that despite it all, it wasn’t the injuries that finished them.  It was the players who were on the field and couldn’t perform that did them in.  Josh Beckett and John Lackey both received large contracts and both shown otherwise on the field.  Jonathan Papelbon will likely end up with stats that will show he was an above average closer, but everyone will remember the save chances that were blown.  And while the injuries forced Boston to use bench players or Triple-A players, hitting seemed flat all season long.

Now on one of those dreaded West Coast trips, the Red Sox have dropped two to the Oakland A’s; the first game getting shut down by surprise started Trevor Cahill while Boston’s own ace this year, Clay Buchholz couldn’t even get an out in the second inning.  The second game Lackey actually pitched well, except he couldn’t hold the 2-0 lead in the seventh, and closer-of-the-future Daniel Bard couldn’t seem to get an out.  One more game in Oakland, three in Seattle, and then a slew of tough games at home and on the East Cost… the Yankees aren’t playing the rest of their games in Texas for anything to change.

While they are not mathematically eliminated, there is no way that the Sox would be able to catch up to the Rays for the wildcard spot nor the Yankees for the division.  And because of this, the roster is mostly made up of Pawtucket players who are looking to get some major league time for the Sox to either a) showcase them for potential trade-bait in the offseason, or b) look to see if these players can help the Sox in the future.

There’s always next year.  Again.