Results tagged ‘ Terry Francona ’
The first win of the season
goes to my friend Julia, of Julia’s Rants.
Despite an 0-6 start to the season, the Boston Red Sox were able to
capture their first two wins of the season in this past weekend’s series
against the New York Yankees.
With the loss, I have to
write about what’s right with the Red Sox and what’s wrong with the Yankees. So, here it goes…
Why the Boston Red Sox will win…
Pitching, pitching, pitching. Say what you
will about Dice-K, but the Red Sox have, arguably, the best starting rotation
in the American League. Jon Lester has
been one of my favorite pitchers and will be a Cy Young candidate when the
season is over. Despite some early
season struggles, I definitely feel that Clay Buchholz is one of the up and
coming stars and will be solid over the course of the long season. I know that the third starter, John Lackey,
has also struggled, but I feel very strongly that he’ll find his niche in
Boston and will consistently put the Sox in a position to win. Josh Beckett, if he continues to pitch like
he did on Sunday, is back. The Yankees
have a rookie in the 4th spot…the Sox have a former ace and one who
is capable of pitching like the elite pitcher he once was.
You can say that the Yankees
have the better bullpen, but if Jonathan Papelbon falters, the Sox have several
fallback options in former Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks and future
closer Daniel Bard. They have reliable
arms in the pen, and have a proven long man in a guy the Yankees are well
familiar with (Alfredo Aceves). The gap
between the Sox and Yankee pens won’t be as big as experts may believe,
especially since the Sox will be able to be more selective in relief with a
superior rotation that is able to go much deeper into games.
Adrian Gonzalez. Count me as one of those who
believe that Gonzalez will be a monster at Fenway Park. He counteracts anything the Yankees have with
Mark Teixeira plus he has the intangibles.
A few years back, I was constantly looking up to see the highlights of
David Ortiz with another walk-off home run.
I fully expect Gonzalez to be that guy for the Sox, and he is going to
win games with both his bat and his glove.
Disruption. Once Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury get
going (it’s a question of when, not if), the Sox are going to be very
disruptive for opposing pitchers.
Singlehandedly, they have the ability to change the complexion and
momentum of games.
The forgotten hitter. For all the
headlines the newest additions have gotten and the return of players who were
injured last year (like Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia), it is easy to forget that
this lineup still features third baseman Kevin Youkilis. Youk is one of the best clutch hitters in
baseball, and teams will be so focused on stopping Crawford and Gonzalez that
they’ll lose sight of Youk…and will pay a high price for it.
The dead will rise. It is easy
for people to write off David Ortiz and Jason Varitek given their respective
ages, however, they are both consummate professionals who can still perform at
a high level. Like the Toby Keith song
goes, ‘I may not be a good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was’. There’s no doubt that these two will figure
prominently in Sox wins over the summer.
The bench. If there is anything I’ve learned about the
Sox, it is to never underestimate the power of Theo. Time and again, names come out of nowhere to
lead the Sox to victory. They had a
chance to catch the Yankees last September despite fielding a roster of
unknowns. Even on Tuesday night’s game,
the first run of the game came courtesy of a home run by Darnell McDonald. It wasn’t that long ago the Yankees wanted
Mike Cameron as their centerfielder, and here he is backing up the Sox
regulars. I don’t care if the player’s name
is Dork Fumblefingers. If he puts on a
Sox uniform, he is most likely going to hit game winning home runs and make
highlight reel catches in the outfield.
Terry Francona. When the Sox lose, Francona
detractors seem to come out of the woodwork, but he is, in my opinion, the best
manager in baseball. The only place with
greater expectations than New York might just be Boston, yet Terry is always a
show of class and his decision making skills show a deft understanding of now
and the future (i.e., the season). He
garners the most of his roster, and I have no doubt that he’ll right the ship
despite the slow start to the 2011 season.
With the Sox standing at 2-8 entering play tonight, people are quick to
say how poorly comparable teams have finished.
I will argue that when the season is done, the Sox will be the model of
the franchise that was able to successfully overcome such a poor start. In future years, when a team goes on a losing
streak to start the season, the media will be saying ‘but the 2011 Red Sox were
able to overcome…’.
Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, and John Henry. These
gentlemen took a franchise that was “cursed” from the 1923 trade that sent Babe
Ruth to the Yankees, and eradicated the word “curse” from the Red Sox
vocabulary. I also have not heard any
mention of Bucky Friggin’ Dent in several years. These guys have successfully brought two
world championships to Boston, and there is no doubt that they’ll have a third
one in the not-so-distant future (much to my chagrin).
The RSN. The fan base for the Sox is the most
passionate and fervent of any that I’ve experienced. I am not saying that Yankees fans aren’t
passionate, but Sox fans are like no other.
They stuck by their team when championships were only something their
grandparents or great-grandparents had ever experienced. Yankees fans get spoiled by championships in
almost every decade. The Sox fans have a
greater understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a true
champion. I am not one of them, but I
Why the Yankees won’t win…
Pitching, pitching, pitching. As great as
CC Sabathia is, he is still not a sure thing.
He has his moments where he struggles.
I know, like all pitchers, but there is something special when a pitcher
like Roy Halladay takes the mound. Win
or lose, you expect the team to win. I
expect the Yankees to win when CC is on the mound, but it is not with the
confidence that I’d have if Halladay were a Yankee. After CC, there is nothing but question
marks. A.J. Burnett has pitched well to
start the season, but he always starts good.
It is how he finishes. If he
reverts to 2010 A.J., the Yankees are toast.
Phil Hughes and the decreased velocity are a concern. He finished poorly last season, and he has
yet to pitch lights out this year. At
this point, I am really not sure what Hughes lies ahead. After Hughes is a rookie, Ivan Nova, who has
pitched well, but how will he perform the second time around when opposing
lineups get used to him? Can he make the
necessary adjustments? As it stood, the
ceiling for Nova was much lower than it is for guys like Brian Matusz or Jeremy
Hellickson (or even Michael Pineda). Is
he in the rotation because he has the potential to be great or is it because
none of the other prospects are ready. I
remain fearful that it’s the latter. I’ve
heard that Nova’s future is in the pen, and that doesn’t bode well for the
rotation. In the fifth spot, who
knows. Freddy Garcia has yet to pitch
due to rain delays. Bartolo Colon is
waiting in the wings if Garcia stumbles, as are Kevin Millwood and Carlos
Silva. None of the options instill
The bullpen looks great on
paper, but already this season, there have been failures by Rafael Soriano and
Joba Chamberlain. Pedro Feliciano is on
the DL and I heard that he had a setback today.
Luis Ayala is headed for the DL so the Yankees are already looking to
Scranton-Wilkes Barre for replacements.
One of these years, Mariano Rivera is actually going to show his
age. Will this be the year?
Aging lineup. Mark Teixeira is already
31? Seriously, we are already in the
midst of another April chill for Tex. He
started strong this year (thanks to Opening Day in March), but he went 0-fer
against the Sox. He was as much responsible
for me writing this post as anyone.
Derek Jeter has continued to show his age and is providing evidence that
his down season in 2010 may be a sign of things to come. Jorge Posada feels like a fish out of water
at DH. He’s done at catcher so where’s
his long-term potential with this team?
Alex Rodriguez looked great during spring training, but he is getting
older. Question marks continue to dog
Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. The
Yankees are a great offensive club, but their hitters just don’t put fear in
you. If they don’t hit, they can be beat
as Josh Beckett proved on Sunday night.
In October, you’re facing the best pitchers in baseball. If the Yankees can’t hit the best, they can’t
be the best.
The bench. Don’t get me wrong…I love Eric Chavez and I
am glad that he’s a Yankee. But I am
concerned that injuries may force the Yankees to play Chavez more than they
should, exposing him to potential injury.
What if Derek Jeter is done? Is
Nunez ready to take over at short? I really
don’t expect this to be the year that Jeter goes south, but you have to
recognize that it could happen. It
eventually happens to all superstars.
Hank Steinbrenner. Eventually,
Hank is going to make an impulsive move that he’ll regret. I am sure that he has a Jay Buhner like trade
that he’ll force causing the Yankees to relinquish a prime prospect for an
aging past-his-prime veteran in an effort to shake things up.
The off-season. As difficult as last season was,
there is the potential that this off-season will be even more difficult. CC Sabathia can opt out of his contract, as
can Rafael Soriano. If the Yankees lose
Sabathia, they won’t be able to recover.
As the season progresses, the Sabathia opt-out is going to get more and
more ink. Hopefully, it doesn’t become a
Who knows that the 2011
season holds in store for the Yankees and the Red Sox, but I can assure you,
that both teams will be in the thick of things come September. I will never be fooled by Boston’s slow start. This is a very dangerous team and one that
can never be underestimated.
Clearly, I want the Yankees
to win, and I am hopeful they will, but Boston, even at 2-9, is still the best
team in the American League from top to bottom.
That may change by the trading deadline, but as it stands today, the Sox
are still a team capable of 100 wins.
Julia, I’m out…
And so the wagers begin…
With the Yankees 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday
night, Julia of Julia’s Rants scores the first victory of the season. Of course, all things considered, a
meaningless loss in March is hardly anything to fret about. But still, a win is a win, and I am obligated
to write a post about Red Sox manager Terry Jon Francona.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Julia did send me some information to help get a head
start: Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota on
April 22, 1959. So, is that it? Am I done writing about Francona? Sweet!
Seriously, when I was a kid, the Red Sox were so easy to
dislike because I did not have any sense of attachment to their players and
their manager was usually someone that I felt indifferent about. Darrell Johnson, Don Zimmer (sorry Zim!), Ralph Houk, John
McNamara, Joe Morgan, etc. The names
just ran together to me and had no particular meaning. It culminated in 2003 when Grady Little left
Pedro Martinez too long during Game 7 of the ALCS. It was a game that the Sox probably should
have won, but ultimately lost when Aaron Boone homered to advance the Yankees
to the World Series.
When Boston decided not to renew Little’s contract in the
off-season and chose to go with Francona, I probably had similar thoughts to my
perception at the time the Yankees announced “Clueless Joe” (a/k/a Joe Torre)
as their manager. Here was, in my mind
at the time, an unsuccessful major league manager the Sox think they can
re-cycle. Francona had been fired from
his only previous managing gig with the Philadelphia Phillies so I was very
quick to dismiss his hiring.
Boy, was I ever WRONG!
Putting everything known about Francona aside, all he has
done is win two world championships for an organization that could not win a
World Series since my grandmother was a teenager. He eliminated the phrase “Curse of the
Bambino” from the vocabulary of all baseball fans and has established the Red
Sox as one of the premier organizations in all of baseball.
Francona, the man, is perhaps one of the classiest acts in
major league baseball. To a fan of
Boston’s chief rival, Terry has been nothing short of the consummate
professional since his first day in a Red Sox uniform. He is always so humble, and his teams always
so prepared and unwilling to quit. He
has changed my perception of the Sox and has given me a reason…a very strong
reason…to hold the Sox in great respect.
I look forward to the day when Terry decides to step away from the game
so that I can go back to hating the Red Sox!
I remember Terry when he came up with the Montreal
Expos. He was not a great player and
only accumulated 16 home runs and 143 RBI’s in 10 seasons with 5 clubs. He did manage to pitch one game in 1989,
striking out Stan Javier.
His minor league managerial career began in 1991 with the
Chicago White Sox organization. He made
it to the big leagues as third base coach with Buddy Bell‘s 1996 Detroit
He spent four seasons as the Phillies manager from 1997 to
2000 but was fired after failing to finish higher than 3rd
place. In Philly, he did get the chance
to manage his future Red Sox ace Curt Schilling setting the stage for their
eventual and highly successful reunion.
When he was hired by the Red Sox, he had been the bench
coach for the Oakland A’s.
Terry and his wife Jaque live in Brookline,
Massachusetts. They have four child (one
boy and three girls).
For a largely undistinguished playing career, Terry is a
Hall of Fame manager in my opinion. I
may trash talk about the Red Sox but one thing is certain…I will never say a
bad word about the man who is arguably the best manager in baseball.
Julia, I am out!
I owe the great Irish ranter from Boston a huge apology…
I posted a blog last night, and said Julia of Julia’s Rants (loser of a recent bet that you may have heard about) couldn’t post a blog about certain Yankees that I have mentioned in the past, like Billy Martin, Catfish Hunter and Thurman Munson. Unknown to me, Julia had already written a blog tribute to Number 15 and had to trash it as a result of my blog. When my son was little, he was constantly changing the rules of any games we played to suit his advantage. It used to drive me nuts. So, of course, that’s exactly what I did to Julia and I am sorry.
Nevertheless, her choice for an alternative second Yankees blog is terrific! She wrote about the late Bobby Murcer. I could never imagine what it must have been like to follow a legend like Mickey Mantle with unrealistic fan expectations. But Bobby handled it with class and dignity. Bobby was a great ballplayer, an awesome broadcaster, and wonderful human being.
Excellent choice, Julia! Two terrific blogs in a row! Keep up the great work!
JR LOSES IN RETURN TO CHICAGO
The San Jose Sharks lost last night’s game, 6-5, in Chicago against the Blackhawks in a shootout. The Sharks, who had trailed by three goals at one point, rallied to tie the score. But the Blackhawks won the shootout 2-0.
Charles Cherney, Chicago Tribune
It was appropriate that the final shot in the shootout was delivered by Jeremy Roenick. But there were no heroics as his former Phoenix teammate, Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, blocked the shot with his chest. I can still remember the Coyotes fans screaming “Hob-ee-BOOOO-lin”! Unfortunately, I wasn’t pulling for him this time. Roenick blamed the miss on indecision, as he had planned to go short side on Khabibulin, but changed his mind at the last second. Perhaps the loss had more to do with the fact that JR was raised in Boston! Just kidding, Julia!
By tying the Blackhawks in regulation, the Sharks still picked up a point to put them atop the overall NHL standings (tied with the Detroit Red Wings). But the team was disappointed with only a single point.
“You never want to take satisfaction with one point,” said right wing Devin Setoguchi, who scored twice for the Sharks. “That’s not our mentality.”
JULIA, THIS TITO’S FOR YOU…
Considering Julia spent so much writing a draft about Thurman Munson that never reached her blog, I will post this photo of Tito for her.
Oops, not that Tito!
Per Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org), here is Tito’s highly successful Red Sox managerial record:
2nd in AL East
Won World Series
2nd in AL East
Lost in ALDS
3rd in AL East
1st in AL East
Won World Series
2nd in AL East
Lost in ALCS
I look forward to Julia’s final pro-Yankees blog!
Have a great day, everyone!
Julia (of Julia’s Rants) has graciously reduced my sentence by one blog! Yeah, I am free! Well, I guess I will be after this blog!
For my last Red Sox blog, I thought long and hard about what player I wanted to write about. I thought about David Ortiz since I think the man is personally responsible for the end of the Curse of the Bambino. He gave Manny Ramirez huge protection in the line up, and he instilled a ‘don’t quit’ attitude in the Red Sox clubhouse. For the life of me, I still don’t understand why the Minnesota Twins released Big Papi…or why Brian Cashman didn’t react quicker.
Cataffo/New York Daily News
I also thought about manager Terry Francona. For years, Red Sox managers were always guys that you loved to hate. Even though he later occupied the Yankees bench along side Joe Torre, I couldn’t stand Don Zimmer when he was the manager of the Red Sox. With Tito, the Red Sox finally had a manager who commands respect. I am hopeful that Joe Girardi will one day be the man that Tito is today.
Ultimately, I decided to go with the Man of the Hour. Fresh off the newly signed contract, Jon Lester seems to be the most appropriate current Boston player for my final Red Sox blog.
So, here goes my final blog as a temporary but involuntary member of the Red Sox Nation…
Future 20-Game Winner
I first became aware of Jonathan Tyler Lester in 2006. I had started to hear about the latest Red Sox pitching phenom early that year (he made his major league debut on June 10, 2006 at Fenway Park).
In his first game, Jon pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up 5 hits, 3 runs, and 4 walks. He also had 4 strikeouts. He received a no-decision, but the Red Sox lost the game to the Texas Rangers, 7-4.
Over the next couple of months, Jon pitched very well. He had racked up 7-2 record, with 4.76 ERA in 81 1/3 innings by late summer. But on August 27, 2006, he was scratched from a start in Oakland against the A’s. The reason listed was a sore back, and there were concerns it was related to an auto accident that had occurred earlier that month. He was placed on the DL, and sent back to Boston for further tests. On August 31st, it was reported that Jon had enlarged lymph nodes. A few days later, the doctors confirmed that he had a treatable form of anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
In December of that year, after a sixth round of chemotherapy, the doctors reported no evidence of visible cancer cells and declared that Jon was in remission. It will be a five year process before Jon can be declared cancer free, but it has been all good so far.
Jon was born in Tacoma, WA on January 7, 1984. He graduated from Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma. He was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year for Washington in 2000. He had the opportunity to go to college on a scholarship, but opted to sign with the Boston Red Sox after being selected in the second round of the 2002 draft (57th selection overall).
Following the cancer treatments of 2006, Jon’s velocity had returned by mid to late 2007. He returned to the majors in the summer and finished the year with a 4-0 mark, 4.57 ERA and 50 strikeouts.
In October, Jon started and won the deciding Game 4 of the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver. He pitched 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball, and only gave up 3 hits and 3 walks, and had 3 strikeouts.
Bill Greene/Boston Globe
As Jon moved to 2008, he had gained 25 pounds from the year before (almost all muscle) and looked to be in great physical condition.
On May 19th, with the temperature only 56 degrees, Jon and the Red Sox faced the Kansas City Royals, and he promptly threw a no-hitter. With 130 total pitches, to go with 9 strikeouts and 2 walks, Jon threw first pitch strikes to 20 of the 29 batters he faced. The game was highlighted by a diving catch of a sinking liner in the 4th inning by Jacoby Ellsbury.
In July, Jon made his debut at Yankee Stadium. Unwilling to yield to the mystique and aura of the Stadium, he threw a complete game five-hit shutout.
Jon finished the successful 2008 campaign with a 16-6 record, 3.21 ERA, and had 152 strikeouts. He became the first Boston southpaw since Babe Ruth (1916) and Lefty Grove (1937) with as many as 15 wins, 30 starts, 200 innings, 150 strikeouts, and sub 3.50 ERA in a single season.
Yesterday, the Red Sox and Jon finalized the much anticipated 5 year contract for $30 million. The contract includes a club option for 2014. “Everyone is excited about it,” 2B Dustin Pedroia said. “You want to play for a long time with those guys you came up with. Jon is going to keep getting better and better. I’m sure by Year 5 of that deal he’s going to be an even better pitcher than he is right now.”
That doesn’t bode well for AL East opponents, including my beloved Yankees. It’s no wonder the Red Sox held Jon out of trade discussions involving the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Josh Beckett, and Johan Santana over the years.
I wish #31 the very best…well except when he makes the trip to the Bronx or the Bombers travel to Fenway. Jon is a champion competitor, a true ace, who plays the game the way it should be played. He deserves our respect, but clearly the pleasure of watching him pitch is all ours…
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
SO LONG RON SILVER…THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!
Granted, it’s not sports-related; however, I would like to acknowledge the passing of actor Ron Silver who died Sunday at the age of 62. He had been fighting esophageal cancer for the past couple of years.
Through the years, Ron has been involved in so many television and film roles dating back to The Mac Davis Show in the early 70′s. More recently, he had a recurring role on “The West Wing” as a slick strategist for the president.
He was a very good actor, he commanded your attention when he was on screen, and he’ll be sorely missed…
AND FINALLY, YANKEES NEWS…
Ah, let’s talk about the Yankees! I love it! Yankees, Yankees, Yankees…24/7 from here on out! Yeah!
- The Yankees routed the Philadelphia Phillies today, 12-0. Nick Swisher played first base, and had 3 RBI. Joba Chamberlain pitched three shutout innings of two-hit ball. He also had 3 strikeouts. Kei Igawa continues to pitch well, but I’d definitely take the ‘sell high’ approach with him (even if it means paying part of his contract to unload him).
- LP Zach Kroenke, 25, who was chosen by the Florida Marlins in December’s Rule 5 Draft, was returned to the Yankees on Monday. He has been assigned to AA Trenton. Sorry, Zach, but I am glad you had a miserable time in the Florida training camp. Welcome back…
- Both 2B Robinson Cano and P Damaso Marte received good news from the results of their respective MRI’s. Cano has bursitis of the right shoulder, and Mare has inflammation of the left shoulder. So, both should be back in action before long…
- Good luck to former Yankees C Pudge Rodriguez who has signed a one-year deal with the Houston Astros.
- In a non-Yankees note of interest to most likely only me, Denver Broncos QB Jay Cutler had a very acrimonious meeting with new head coach Josh McDaniels over the weekend, and has demanded to be traded. The Vikings deny interest, but the Minnesota papers seem to follow every step of the action between Cutler and the Broncos with great detail. I personally think Jay would look pretty good in purple and gold…
It is great to be back in Yankeeville! Hopefully, my guys won’t let me down next month when the Great Showdown II with Julia of Julia’s Rants takes place (the weekend series between the Yankees and Red Sox on April 24th through 26th).
With all sincerity, I do want to thank Julia for the incredible sportsmanship and good humor that she displayed during our first showdown. I know, without a doubt, that it would have been no different had she lost. We are very privileged to have her as one of our leading bloggers, and she continues to work harder than anyone I know at making MLB Blogs an incredible experience for everyone.
But with that, I will still say…Go Yankees! J