Archive for the ‘Jonathan Papelbon’ Category
On to Cleveland for the Boston Red Sox.
Let’s start with good news – the Indians starters for the three game series.
Josh Tomlin, Mitch Talbot and Fausto Carmona (already 0-1, 30.00 ERA).
They should help get the Red Sox bats going.
Tomlin is a finesse pitcher who is prone to giving up a home run. The Red Sox beat Tomlin last August with Adrian Beltre hitting a grand slam.
Says Indians pitching coach Tim Belcher, “He’ll make a mistake out over the plate and it’ll go a long way. It’ll go 450 feet. I guarantee that’ll happen at least two-dozen times this summer if he makes 34 starts in the big leagues.”
But on the plus side, Tomlin beat CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander in head-to-head duels last year.
Indians Pop Quiz
Shin Soo Choo and which other player are the only 2 MLBers to hit at least .300 with 20 HR and 20 SBs in both 2009 and 2010? Answer below.
Indians Fast Facts
- Choo is off to a cold start – 1 for 12 with 6 strikeouts. But Travis Hafner is looking good at the plate.
- The Indians turned in MLB’s first triple play of the season with old friend Orlando Cabrera playing a role.
- Grady Sizemore is starting a minor league rehab stint – coming off knee surgery.
Red Sox Warm-ups
Jeremy Lundblad shares 5 things to know about Josh Beckett for his season debut. The Red Sox need vintage 2009 Beckett – when he was 8-1 following a Boston loss. Ian Browne channels back to Beckett’s big 2007 ALCS victory against Cleveland which came when the Sox were down 3-1 in the series.
Over his career, Jonathan Papelbon owns Cleveland writes Gordon Edes. Pap is 1-0, 1.38 ERA, converting all 10 of his save opportunities.
Here’s hoping manager Terry Francona starts Jarrod Saltalamacchia Tuesday night. He delivered nothing while batting but no way was he responsible for the atrocious pitching in Texas. Salty says he is prepared for the long haul.
Jonah Keri makes the case Carl Crawford should continue to bat seventh against left-handed pitchers. Not exactly what Red Sox fans had in mind for the team’s $142 million investment.
ESPN’s week one MLB Power Rankings are out – with the Red Sox landing at number 7. The AL East teams are MLB beasts with Yankees #1, Blue Jays #8 and the unbeatable Orioles #9.
Pop Quiz Answer
Former Red Sox farmhand and current Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
Catching Prospects. Excellent post by SoxProspects on the Red Sox top catching prospects. Boston has numbers but no sure-bets. It will be interesting to watch if a player emerges as a top-quality prospect. With the injury history of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek, someone may be needed this season. My top two for long term: Ryan Lavarnway and Adalberto Ibarra.
Hill in Bullpen Mix. Milton, Mass. native Rich Hill is in the mix for a spot as a lefty reliever with the Red Sox. Sean McAdam looks at how Hill now throws sidearm to add some deception to his delivery (since he has lost velocity due to a shoulder injury). There is a crowd competing for the last two bullpen spots – but always room for a lefty who can get outs. We will see if Hill can deliver.
Sox Stat Nuggets. Gary Marbry calls out Jonathan Papelbon as ranking number two among relievers in “really tight situations” – 7th inning or later, ahead by one or score tied, with two outs and runners in scoring position – over the last four years. Nice spot for Pap but his current issue is not his career – but rather, the big drop-off from career norms last season. A couple of other interesting pitching stats also in this post.
Nava Looking to Stick. Last season, Daniel Nava emerged from nowhere into the Red Sox outfield mix – due to injury and an extremely memorable first major league at-bat (grand slam) writes Brian MacPherson. With Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron back from injury and Carl Crawford signing, Nava has been pushed back off the radar. But if last season proved anything, it was: stuff happens during the season. Looks like Nava will land back in Pawtucket – with the chance to prove he belongs back in the majors if not with the Red Sox, perhaps somewhere else.
What are your top Red Sox blog posts picks for the week?
Think Spring. For those of us in the Northeast, Over the Monster did a public service documenting all the dates we need to know about Spring Training (and get our minds off of snow). Only ten days to Red Sox truck day.
Red Sox Cuban Connection. I always look forward to Alex Speier’s podcasts on the Red Sox farm system. The latest edition reviews the growing number of Cuban players among Sox prospects. Every Sox follower knows about SS Jose Iglesias. Here are two more players to watch this year: OF Juan Carlos Linares (he’s an older prospect – 26 – and could move fast) and C Adalberto Ibarra (hurt last year – more of a bat than a catcher). Sox Prospects does a deeper dive on Linares.
Can Salty Hack it in 2011? That’s the big question posed by Fire Brand of the American League. As I have written before, the Red Sox are taking a big gamble on the catcher duo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek getting them through the season (and hopefully, playoffs). I like Salty long term as at least a platoon catcher. But until he demonstrates he can contribute an entire season at the big league level, I am uneasy (especially teamed with an older player who was hurt much of last year). And check out the blog’s post on Jonathan Papelbon. I am less bullish on Pap – maybe the combination of contract year and bullpen competition will reignite the fire in him.
Top Red Sox Prospects. Each year, I eagerly await Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook. It’s out and Peter Abraham lists the top 30 Sox prospects. I like Josh Reddick at #4. I think he breaks through this season to become a factor in the J.D. Drew 2012 replacement sweepstakes.
What were your top Red Sox blog posts of the week?
The Red Sox bullpen was a major disappointment last season and Boston has devoted considerable attention and resources to the pen to straighten it out.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the Boston Herald, “I do think we have reason for optimism (about the bullpen). We have some guys that can make guys swing and miss. We have maybe a couple extra arms, hopefully, if something happens, which it always does. We have some competition for jobs. We have some left-handers that want to show what they can do, and we have a need. It’ll be interesting. I’m looking forward to it.”
Let’s look at the various strategies deployed:
- Competition. The Red Sox took a page from Bill Belichick’s book – position competition is good. Adding Bobby Jenks gives Boston options should Jonathan Papelbon falter again (or if a good trade offer for Pap comes along – following up on recent trade efforts).
- Power arms. The addition of Jenks also lengthens the Red Sox ability to bring heat – along with Papelbon and Daniel Bard.
- Deep depth. Dan Wheeler joins Scott Atchison as a steady, durable arm ready for innings 5, 6 and 7.
- Last year doesn’t predict next season. Welcome back Hideki Okajima with a low-cost contract.
- Bring on the troops. Matt Albers, Andrew Miller, Rich Hill, Robert Coelho and the PawSox crew. Relievers can come from nowhere to have good seasons. The Red Sox have the resources to play the numbers game to increase their chances of getting someone at the right time.
- Sixth starter. Tim Wakefield, Felix Doubront. Wake is the primary long reliever – and emergency spot starter. Ready to move into the rotation if needed. Doubront will wait in the wings in Pawtucket.
Around the Bases
- One More Draft Pick? The Sox still hope free agent 2B Felipe Lopez signs with someone because it would add to next June’s draft haul. Over the Monster notes the Red Sox would get a supplemental first round pick, which would give them five of the first 55 picks in the 2011 draft.
- Key an eye on Lavarnway. C Ryan Lavarnway is getting close to being in the Fenway discussion writes CSNE’s Sean McAdam. This is a big season coming up for Lavarnway to show he can play in the upper minors.
- Tejeda emerges at 2B. Another Sox prospect to watch this year is Oscar Tejeda, who had a breakout season in low A ball. Middle infield prospect with some pop in his bat. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo places Tejeda #6 among 2B prospects.
- Iglesias number three. Mayo placed Jose Iglesias #3 among his top shortstop prospects.
Red Sox Bring the Heat
Over the Monster delivered some interesting analysis on how Red Sox starters and relievers can dial up fastballs. The Sox have excellent fastball pitchers – which is a big factor in overall staff (and team) success. Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon – who both faded in 2010 – are players to watch this year.
Why Red Sox Target Football Players in Draft
In recent years, the Red Sox have graded “athletes” highly in the amateur draft. Full Count’s Alex Speier explored baseball players who were multi-sport stars with Red Sox prospect OF Brandon Jacobs and Red Sox amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye in a podcast. I like the approach – but let’s see how it pays off. Ryan Kalish should be the first major league test case.
What’s next for Lars Anderson?
Lars Anderson had a big door close on him with the Red Sox acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez. Red Sox Beacon painted a pretty bleak future for Anderson – questioning his hitting potential. While I am not ready to give up on Anderson, the upcoming season at Pawtucket will be key to reestablishing himself as an MLB caliber player.
Pretty Quiet on the Western Front (of the AL)
Fire Brand of the American League previews the American League West. The early line shows Texas and Oakland to be the class of the division. The Rangers could still use a top starter, while I like the A’s picking up Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui to go with a good pitching staff. The Angels are solid but unspectacular. Mariners are King Felix and pray for rain.
Theo Epstein is a self-professed admirer of Patriots coach Bill Belichick – and how he reacted to the disappointing 2010 season from closer Jonathan Papelbon is a classic Belichick move.
The Patriots’ M.O. is everyone competes for their position – always.
The signing of Bobby Jenks is a visible message to Pap – perform like the closer we expect or be prepared to step aside.
As Scott Lauber writes, Papelbon – with his one year at a time contract approach – has been priming himself for his contract year.
Now it’s time to perform again – to get the big bucks, long-term deal Papelbon will seek. And the Red Sox would like nothing better for the 2011 season (and they are prepared to worry about 2012 later). But if Papelbon doesn’t perform, Boston has Plan B ready to go.
Around the Bases
Minor league guru John Sickels released his top 20 Red Sox prospect list. He did not give a “grade A” elite ranking to any Boston farmhand. RHP Anthony Ranaudo – a 2010 draftee – placed number one, followed by LHP Drake Britton and SS Jose Iglesias. Current assessment – deep in quantity but not top-tier in quality. But a bunch of the prospects played below AA last season, so it will be interesting to see if they can advance in status as they move up the ladder.
Fire Brand of the American League did a deep dive on new righty reliever Matt Albers. I like the signing for bullpen depth but see Albers more as Scott Atchison insurance than as a key contributor.
MLB Trade Rumors ran through potential homes from Manny Ramirez. I think the Rays are the best fit – but Manny would need to take short money and possibly accept a part-time role. I don’t see the Blue Jays interested – new manager John Farrell lived through Manny’s “dog days” in Boston.
Lastly, don’t relax yet. Rob Bradford writes Theo Epstein’s history says he keeps shopping late in the Hot Stove season. Possible pickups: lefty reliever and Bill Hall-like utility player who can help out in the infield and outfield. Jon Heyman ran through his bargain list of remaining free agents (I still like Brian Fuentes for the Red Sox). And Peter Abraham chipped in with his All-Available Team.
SI’s Joe Lemire placed the Boston Red Sox at the top of a special offseason edition of SI.com’s MLB Power Rankings.
No surprise given the close to flawless (I would kept Victor Martinez and let David Ortiz walk) Hot Stove season that Theo Epstein and crew have put together.
The New York Yankees check in at six while the Tampa Bay Rays manage to place 11 even with having 13 players in the “subtraction” column and no notable additions.
It has truly been a winter of good fortune for Boston, as Rob Bradford wrote.
Red Sox Keep Getting Better
Things continue to break Boston’s way with the Sox signing reliever Bobby Jenks.
Sean McAdam spoke with Jenks’ former bullpen coach with the White Sox who gave him the thumbs up. The coach – Art Kusnyer – said Jenks still has great stuff and “can get it done.”
At a minimum, Jenks gives the team another power arm – and he should light a fire under Jonathan Papelbon’s butt.
Boston signed a slew of other relievers to deals, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
I agree relievers are a fickle bunch and last year is not always a good predictor of next season.
Matt Albers bears watching but at best is Scott Atchison competition.
I like the Andrew Miller signing – but mainly with a focus on finally getting him to realize his potential as a starter.
I see Rich Hill as a better candidate for a lefty out of the bullpen. I think old friend Lenny DiNardo is more likely Pawtucket material.
Last Bullpen Point
Matthew Leach wrote, “Of baseball’s 10 best starting staffs in 2010 (measured by ERA), exactly three made the playoffs. Meanwhile, six of the top eight bullpens could be found on postseason teams.”
These numbers support why Jenks is a big signing. You need bullpen strength and depth.
Around the Bases
- Hats off to Ian Browne who this week wrote an in-depth review of Epstein’s pursuit of Adrian Gonzalez and also did an interesting look at the American League East. Both are really good.
- Bradford wrote how compensation-wise, the Rangers would be a good landing place for Adrian Beltre. The Red Sox would gain pick #26 in next year’s amateur draft if Beltre goes to Texas. They lost #24 for the Carl Crawford signing – but gained #19 when Martinez signed with the Tigers.
- Alex Speier looked at Crawford’s speed dimension. Bottomline: Bill James says, even if his speed declines, it will still be a weapon. How much of weapon will be a big factor in determining if the Red Sox get their money’s worth.
- Got to like how Mariano Rivera insists the Red Sox were a “real” option as a free agent signing. The Sox explore every option.