Boston Red Sox

 Looper had another strong outing as a stater goin 3.1 innings and allowed no runs on 4 hits.  Skip Schumaker hit two homeruns while Edgar Gonzalez, Chris Duncan, and JRod had one apiece.

The New York Dail News is reporting that Los Angeles Angels officials may move ahead with plans to suspend Gary Matthews Jr. or void his five-year, $50 million contract if the outfielder doesn’t come clean on his alleged purchase of human growth hormone.

Talk out of Chicago is there in no new deal in sight for Mark Buehrle.  The White Sox will probably not be willing to over 3 years or pay the big buck that he would want for signing a shorter deal.

Roger Clemens is creating a lot of buzz, again.  Seems he stopped by Yankee camp to watch Andy Pettitte pitch.

Check out Ken Rosenthal’s latest entry.  Very interesting article about the relationship between a GM and angent who happen to be father and son. 

 Southeast beat SLU 5-2 at Capaha on Wednesday.

 

2006 Finish:  86-76, third place in the AL East

Manager:  Terry Francona, 4th year as Red Sox manager

Comings: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, SS Julio Lugo, RF J.D. Drew, RHP Joel Pineiro, LHP Hideki Okajima, RHP Brendan Donnelly, LHP J.C. Romero

Goings: SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Gabe Kapler, RHP Keith Foulke, 2B Mark Loretta anyone.

Offense:  DH David Ortiz is the focal point of one of the league’s best offenses.  Last year Ortiz hit .287/.413/.636 with 54 HRs and 137 RBIs.  LF Manny Ramirez put up his typical numbers of .321/.439/.619 with 35 HRs and 102 RBIs.  Drew was brought in to play right and add more power to the lineup.  This to me was the worst fit of player/team this offseason.  How will the Boston fans react to a passive Drew who seems at times not to care.  3B Mike Lowell enjoyed his first year in the AL rebounding from a disappointing 2005 by hitting .284 with 20 HRs and 80 RBIs while playing Gold Glove defense.  1B Kevin Youkilis stabilized first with a line of .279/.381/.429.  Not a typical 1B due to lack of power, he did a good job in the leadoff spot.  CF Coco Crisp’s first year in Boston has to be considered a disappointment.  Coco played in only 105 games due to injury and hit .264/.317/.385.  Poor numbers for a guy that is supposed to be a leadoff man.  C and captain Jason Varitek played in only 103 games and hit only .238.  Lugo was brought in to play short and possibly leadoff.  Rookie Dustin Pedoria will be given the opportunity to win the second base job.

Rotation:  Did the Red Sox sign a starting pitcher?  Dice-K mania has hit the Northeast and early reports are he might actually be as good as advertised.  RHP Curt Schilling is back to pitch in what might be his last year in Boston.  He has been quite vocal that he is not happy that the front office have not offered him a contract extension.  RHP Josh Beckett really struggled in his first year in the AL. He posted an ERA of over 5.  He will turn 27 during the season, so he is still young, and I still think he can be a Cy Young canidate.  RHP Jonathan Papelbon will move in from his role as the closer to join the rotation.  The jury is still out if this will happen due to the fact the Red Sox did not go out and get another closer.  He got shut down before the season was over due to shoulder problems and the Red Sox medical staff feel it is better for his health if he pitches every 5th day.  RHP Tim Wakefield is still in the rotation and still has his reliable knuckleball.  LHP John Lester was having a very good season before being diagnosed with cancer.  Is now cancer free and been good so far this spring.

Bullpen:  A lot of good arms but the job of closer is still up in the air.  Piniero seems to be the early favorite.  RHP Mike Timlin is still one of the best setup men in the game.  RHP Julian Tavarez served as Manny’s spokesperson is very durable.  RHPs Manny Del Carmen and Craig Hansen are both very talented but young.  Donnelly and Romero were brought in to provide even more depth.  If no one steps up to serve as the closer, Papelbon could be pushed back to the bullpen.

Prospects: 

 Jacoby Ellsbury-CF-Sox first rounder in 2005, has been off and running since he signed.  Was named the best and fastest baserunner and best defensive outfielder in the Carolina league.  Promoted to Double A and performed better than expected.  He hit  .308/.387/.434 in 50 Double A games.  In 146 pro games, has a 73 to 73 K to BB ratio.  Could be the Sox’ starting CF by 2008, trying to help the Beantown fans forget about Johnny Damon.

Lars Anderson-1B-Possibly the best high school power hitter in the 06 draft.  Led all high school players in California with 15 homers last spring.  Was considered a first round talent but slid to the 18th round due to signability issues.  Has been compared to Carlos Delgado.  Big kid, standing 6-5 but weighing only 190 lbs. so he could get even stronger.  2007 will be his first pro season.

Kris Johnson-LHP-Missouri kid, went to high school as Blue Springs and then attended college at Wichita State.  Drafted by the Red Sox 40th overall in the 2006 First Year Player Draft.  Had Tommy John surgery in April 05 and was back on the mound in February 06.  Throws three solid pitches with a fastball that sits 88-93, a hard curveball, and a changeup.  Was on a tight pitch count,  but he posted an ERA of 0.88 in 31 innings.  Will start the year at high A Lancaster.

Analysis: The Red Sox spent a lot of money to get back to the World Series.  I would think Francona would be on the hot seat and another 3rd place finish could cost him his job.  If  Matsuzaka is half as good as advertised he should have a good first year.  The rotation is good if healthy and the bullpen has a lot of good arms.  I believe that J.D. Drew will laswt in Boston no more than 2 years and Boston will be eating that contract.  Everyone knows how good the offense is, so it would not be out of the question for the Sox to return to the Fall Classic.

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