Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lots of updatin' to do... 

First off, David Ortiz is an absolute BEAST. Yesterday, he paced the Dominican Republic to an 11-5 victory over Venezuela by going 2-for-3 with two homeruns, two walks, three RBI, and three runs scored.

Mike Timlin, fired a perfect fourth inning in Team USA's game vs. Mexico.

Oh yeah, Manny Ramirez hasn't missed a beat. Manny was slotted at DH and finished the day 2-for-2 with three RBI and a sacrifice fly. The dude just knows how to hit. The Sox went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles to improve their record to 2-3 overall in the Grapefruit League.

Curt Schilling, who pitched three innings of an intrasquad game Tuesday at the Red Sox's Minor League training complex along with fellow right-hander Matt Clement, has stated that he's working on a changeup and an inside fastball this spring.

"Getting kicked around as much as I did, you get tired of it," Schilling said. "I'm not trying to hit people. But at the same time, hitters were very comfortable facing me last year, much more so last year than any year in the past, obviously. But there's something you can do about that as a pitcher, and you've got to be proactive in doing it. I feel like my command is good enough that I can throw the ball in off the plate and get people off the plate without hurting people."

Well, that didn't stop him from plunking Jeff Natale, a 23-year-old infielder, with such force that the ball ricocheted off Natale's helmet, over the two-story chain-link backstop and into the bleachers.

However, despite the beaning, I like this news. The inside-half of the plate should be used to a pitcher's advantage. Just watch Pedro Martinez or Roger Clemens. Those guys dominate because they can control that inner-half of the plate, which gives them an extra 2 inches on the outside corner. If Schilling can master the inside-fastball, he could be a force this season.

John Flaherty, considered by some to be the frontrunner for the job as Tim Wakefield's personal catcher, retired yesterday.

Flaherty, in a statement, said, "It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing my retirement from Major League Baseball today ... I am grateful to Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington for giving me the opportunity to play on a world class team and my appreciation is not diminished because of the judgment call I am making today ... I started my career with the Red Sox and proceeded to live out my boyhood dreams. Thank you to all of my teammates, coaches, managers and fans for making the ride so much fun."

While it's sad to see him half to walk away like this, his retirement is probably in the best interest of the team. I'm not exactly enamored with any of the candidates, but I do feel like Josh Bard offers the best "upside," atleast offensively. Huckaby is regarded as the better defender, but I can't really speak to that, as I haven't seen either play enough. Obviously, it's going to come down to who can better handle the knuckler. I just wish the Sox would try to swing a deal for Javier Valentin of Cincinnati, but I digress.

Josh Beckett had his debut on Monday, but didn't fare too well. He was focusing predominantly on his fastball (of his 22 pitches through two innings, 19 were fastballs), but Tampa Bay's hitters were sitting on it. Julio Lugo led off the game with a home run, and Jonny Gomes hit a towering solo shot later in the inning. Beckett pitched three innings and gave up five runs on five hits. He allowed two home runs and tossed a wild pitch while striking out two.

"I made some mistakes, mistakes that shouldn't happen," Beckett said. "You learn from it and move on. It's just all about executing pitches, [and] I didn't execute pitches."

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Wells: "I'm staying." 

This from Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe:

"David Wells just met with reporters and said he's rescinded his trade request. He told Theo Epstein, he said, the day before, and that Theo responded with a smile from ear to ear.

Wells said he was healthy and would be ready to pitch in about eight days."

Does this mean the Sox attempt to trade Bronson Arroyo? I can't see the Sox finding a taker for Matt Clement (and I feel he deserves another shot), without picking up a significant portion of his salary. This is definitely a situation that bears watching.

Spring Stats Update 

Finally MLB.com has come to its senses and is publishing Spring Training statistics. I've created a spreadsheet that has incorporated MLB.com's traditional statistics with some sabermetric stats. Rather than filling this blog up with a new spreadsheet for each day, this Excel spreadsheet is available for download and will update daily. It can be found here: 2006 Boston Red Sox Spring Training Stats.

Instead of having to download the spreadsheet daily, it should be set up so you can just hit the "Refresh Data" button, and all the statistics will automatically update.

For those without access to Microsoft Excel, I will be posting an image of the spreadsheet in it's entirely on a weekly basis.

Also, for those not entirely familiar with the sabermetric stats I'm using, most can be found in the following glossaries:

The Hardball Times Glossary

Baseball Prospectus Glossary

The link to the spreadsheet will be permanently posted just before the A.B. logo to the right.

Schilling dominates BC; Sox top NU 

Curt Schilling, in his first spring start, was nothing short of dominant. In four innings of work, Schill allowed just one hit, struck out three and threw 35 pitches. Rule 5 Draft pick Jamie Vermilyea closed out the game by firing two shutout innings.

At the plate, the Sox were paced by Willie Harris's two-run double. Mark Loretta, playing his first game in a Boston uniform, had an RBI double as well.

The Sox swept the doubleheader with a victory over Northeastern University in the nightcap. After surrendering a homer on the third pitch of the game, Matt Clement retired the next six batters he faced before giving way to the bullpen.

Offensively, the offense was led by Tony (trade value rising) Graffanino, who went 2-for-2 with a double and three RBIs and a run scored. Josh Pressley also impressed, going 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs.

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