Tag:Kevin Cash
Posted on: January 2, 2009 2:50 pm
 

Red Sox fans should be smiling on the inside

CC Sabathia?
Predictable.

A.J. Burnett?
Foreseeable.

Mark Teixeira?
Painful.

Kevin Cash?
Laughable.

These were the questionable free agents over which the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox renewed their rivalry in classic, off-season style. After missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons, the Yankees' front office put their farm system retooling program on hold to pursue many high-priced free agents, and that Sabathia followed the money and signed a highly lucrative contract in New York came as no surprise to Red Sox Nation. The Red Sox showed no interest in acquiring Burnett, as the asking price for the oft-injured starter was far too high.

Sabathia and Burnett were not surprises, but it was the signing of Teixeira that really drew the ire of Red Sox fans at owner John Henry and other members of the front office. Big Tex was supposed to be the Sox's man, the one free agent that the Red Sox not only had a genuine interest in, but also a legitimate chance of signing. But as is the case for many of the Scott Boras-represented players, the Sox decided to play hardball and were beaten out by a few million dollars.

But secretly, Red Sox fans are smiling. Why? Because now almost a decade worth of seasons have now come and gone when the Yankees have tried to buy their way into the postseason by throwing exorbitant amounts of money at talented free agents. The Yankees went through an incredible run in the late 90s, but did so with a perfect mix of home grown talent and free agents, much like the way the Red Sox have won two World Series this decade. Yankees' GM Brian Cashman tried to stand up to the reign of Steinbrenners and prevent them from continuing to ship prospects to other teams for the superstar caliber players, or sacrifice future draft picks for major free agent signings.

Red Sox fans are in a win-win situation. While they missed out on Teixeira, and lost Manny Ramirez, they are still very much contenders for the A.L. pennant, and they have done so with farm raised players. If the Red Sox win, then all is well in the Nation, and who cares how many free agents the Yankees signed? If the Yankees win the division, then Red Sox fans will remain the leaders of a country-wide riot about the Yankees' ridiculous spending habits.

So smile, Red Sox Nation.

Posted on: May 11, 2008 11:52 pm
 

Red Sox Recap and 1st Quarter Report Card

As promised, here is the Red Sox first quarter report card for this season after 40 games.

Starting Pitching: A-
The Red Sox starting pitching has been better than anticipated, with the younger pitchers delivering better performances than was predicted. Josh Beckett missed a few starts, but has rounded into All-Star form and seems poised for another run for the Cy Young Award. Daisuke Matsuzaka has made a lot of improvements from his first year in the majors and has jumped out to a 6-0, but, leading the league in walks, he has still been shaky at times. But together, they look to be as dominant as any 1-2 punch in the A.L. Tim Wakefield has had a typical season thus far, and at 41 years old, that is all the Red Sox had hoped for. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz have both flashed the signs that they are ready to be front end of the rotation starters, but also showed that they are in their first full season in the majors. There is no question about their stuff, but if the Sox want to go deep into the playoffs, they need more consistency from the back end of the rotation.

Relief Pitching: C
And this may be generous. The Sox have had very few arms in the bullpen where they feel secure that they can hold the lead. Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon have been very good for most of the season, although they are likely being overused due to the lack of any other relievers stepping up and getting outs. Manny Delcarmen was supposed to help with the late innings, but he has struggled heavily and has fallen from Terry Francona’s repertoire for tight contests. David Aardsma has been a pleasant surprise, but has struggled with his command. Javier Lopez has also performed well, albeit in very limited duty as a primarily left-handed specialist. A rotation of Craig Hansen and Bryan Corey (who the Sox traded to the Padres today) has shown that neither was ready for major league duty to this point. Mike Timlin started the year on the disabled list and has shown that he has in fact pitched in more games in the history of the major league with the expectation of about a dozen players. Julian Tavarez has been used very sparingly in long relief and has struggled because of his lack of work. The starters have produced a good number of seven inning starts, but that will not always be the case. Someone needs to fill in the middle innings and pitch when Okajima and Papelbon cannot, and those pitchers have not yet distinguished themselves.

Offense: A
The Red Sox have had the best offense in the majors through the first quarter of the season. Their team batting average is above .290 and they have a very good balance of power, run production and speed. Jacoby Ellsbury is doing everything that a leadoff hitter must do, which is get on base and score runs, and Dustin Pedroia leads the league in hits. David Ortiz was the only player to start slow, but he has gotten his swing back. Manny Ramirez should have been the player of the month, and Kevin Youkilis capped the first quarter by having a ridiculous week that vaulted him into the top ten in virtually every offensive category. J.D. Drew has played better so far, and Mike Lowell has come back well from the disabled list. Jason Varitek is, as he should be, focusing on the pitching staff, and the Sox have never looked for much production from him anyway. Julio Lugo has played better at times, but still continues to undercut expectations. If Ellsbury and Pedroia can continue to set the table, the Sox will have an excellent year offensively.

Bench: A
The bench players have been one of the strengths of the team this year. Coco Crisp has been sharing time with Ellsbury in center, and has played with good intensity and has hit over .300. Sean Casey filled in exceptionally when Lowell was on the disabled list, and his replacement, Jed Lowrie, also showed that he was capable of playing on the major league level. Brandon Moss did nothing wrong during his time, and should be able looking for another call-up before the year is over. Even Kevin Cash has performed very well, both in his first year handling Wakefield’s knuckleball, but also at the plate, batting near .400. It is a very comforting luxury for Francona to be able to look to his bench whenever he needs and still feel confident, and also in the young call-ups in the chance of injuries.

Defense: B+
The Sox defense has been good, expect for one man, and that would be Julio Lugo. The Sox have 21 errors, and Lugo has 11 of them. He just seems very reluctant fielding grounders. Most of Lugo’s errors before this season were due to his throws over to first, but this year’s errors have been fielding balls hit to him. Other than Lugo, the rest of the infield’s defense has been good, and Youkilis has been perfect as usual. In the outfield, there have been few mistakes. Ellsbury and Crisp provide Gold-Glove caliber defense and the ability to cover a lot of ground. Drew plays right field well, and Ramirez’s defense in left is sometimes convoluted but for the most part satisfactory. Without Lugo’s errors, the Sox would have a much more respectable overall fielding percentage near the league lead.

Overall: A-
They do have the best record in the A.L., and are likely the best team in the majors right now. They get a minus next to that A because the Diamondbacks have a better record, and because their relievers have struggled so much. They have good enough offense and starting pitching to get them through a seven game playoff series right now, but that could change come October. If they can add another reliever at the trading deadline, it would go great lengths to help the Sox out, but we saw that backfire last year. Considering the injuries, the illnesses and beginning the year in Japan, the Sox are sitting in a pretty good spot right now.

I am putting this report card on my blog, which I do with every recap, and you can access at the last link at the bottom of the recap. Feel free to respond to this report card here, or go to my blog.

Concerning tonight’s game, the Sox received their worst start of the year. Tim Wakefield did not make it out of the third inning. While he normally does well in indoor stadiums, he struggled mightly in the Metrodome. His knuckleballs were frequently left up in the zone, and the control of his fastball was off all night. Wakefield threw an astonishing amount of fastballs, or as Joe Morgan aptly called them “straightballs” because, at 74 MPH, they are hardly blistering. One of the home runs he gave up was on one such fastball that was nicely grooved, belt high. But, Wakefield looked like he was laboring from the first inning, and in this case, the knuckleball just did not flutter in the Sox favor.

Look for this recap following the series finale against the Twins as the Sox go for the split. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link to my blog.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 26, 2008 10:30 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-25-08

The Red Sox lost their first extra inning game of the season, and now have lost a season long three straight games. Some thoughts on today’s game:

Kevin Cash had a lot trouble handling Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball tonight. Wakefield had a good start, but did get into trouble by giving up too many walks. In his last start, the Rangers were taking the philosophy of simply swinging early and often against Wakefield, and while they did put up some runs against him, he was able to cover eight innings. Tonight was much different for Wakefield, who has an excellent record pitching in the Tropicana Field, seemed to have more control issues than usual. Cash looked reminiscent of Josh Bard’s attempts to field Wakefield knuckleball, as even when the pitches were strikes, the balls were still bouncing out of Cash’s glove. It was the first time that Cash has caught Wakefield indoors, where Wakefield says that he is more comfortable and he gets more movement on his pitches, and Cash was probably having trouble picking up the knuckleball in the lights on the top of the dome. It is generally accepted that when a knuckleball is dancing so much that even the catcher cannot handle the strikes, it is that much more effective, but that was not the case tonight. In addition to Cash’s struggles, Wakefield had poor command all night, often looking as if he lost the grip on his pitches. He also reverted to throwing more fastballs than is wise.

The early season ineffectiveness of the relief corps and the short starts delivered by the starters has heavily taxed the Sox bullpen. Javier Lopez, though he recorded a big out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the night to send the game into extra innings, is very much over worked. Mike Timlin was seen going back and forth from the Sox clubhouse to the bullpen, and he may not be completely healthy. Through in the fact that the Sox’s two best starters, and two pitchers most likely to eat up innings, were missed in their last two starts, the Sox bullpen desperately needs a respite. The Sox have a strange mix of pitchers in their bullpen, being compiled of either stars, or aging veterans, or younger and inexperienced pitchers who seem on the verge of always being out of a job. However, this bullpen will find success if the starters can string together multiple starts of seven innings or better, so that pitchers that could use a day off do not even have to start to warm up. Also, the Sox have seemed very reluctant to use Julian Tavarez. True, he may be the least effective one-inning man the Sox have, although Timlin is trying hard to take that away from him, but a well-rested Julian Tavarez is certainly more effective than an overworked David Aardsma. Tavarez is the Sox long-relief man, and the only one they have in the bullpen, but if the starter only goes five innings, and especially if the game is tied or they are losing, the first man out of the bullpen should be Tavarez. He believes that he has a rubber arm and can pitch as often as the Sox need him to, but while the Sox struggle to find their rhythm as a complete pitching staff, Tavarez may be more effective in one inning duties rather than long relief work.

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game as the Sox try to end this recent skid. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 22, 2008 10:48 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-22-08

The Red Sox got another come-from-behind win, despite having Josh Beckett scratched from his start. Some thoughts on the game:

With Josh Beckett sidelined with a stiff neck, David Pauley got the call from triple-A Pawtucket did a decent job filling in. Considering that Pauley was a few minutes away from making his final preparations for a start tomorrow with Pawtucket when he found out that he would making his four career start. The Sox would have liked to see him get through five innings, and five runs in four-plus innings does not count as a quality start, but given the nature of the circumstances, it could have gone much worse. Pauley showed some flashes of what has gotten him a 1.17 ERA in three starts in the minors this year. He retired all of the first six batters that he faced in order, keeping hitters reaching for his very good sinking fastball. When he keeps it down, he can make it break away from left-handed batters, and he compliments it with a good breaking ball to righties. But, once the Angels came around for the second time, and started getting on base, Pauley started leaving a lot of his pitches up in the zone. He is still only 24 years old, and he seems to be headed toward a major league job somewhere in the next few seasons. It is unlikely that the Sox will be looking to trade Pauley, as he is close to being in big league form. Remember that Curt Schilling is likely in his last attempt at his pitching career, and Tim Wakefield will be 42 by the end of the year, and the Sox will need at least one more starter in the near future. At the very least, Pauley will have a chance to compete for that spot.

Keeping this recap impartial, there is a very big difference between analysts who call players like Jose Reyes and Grady Sizemore the “most exciting players in the game,” and the fact that Jacoby Ellsbury is actually getting it done, at all levels, as an exciting player. Reyes and Sizemore are both fast, and tend to be involved in flashy plays, but, at this very early point in all three players’ career, Ellsbury has delivered more than Reyes and Sizemore and the other “exciting” players. He has the ability to change the way his team plays. His play is not only infectious, but he draws so much attention when he is on the bases that hitters can come to expect more fastballs, and enjoy the chance to bat with a runner in scoring position. The bursts of power are unexpected, but no less appreciated, by the Sox, and his ability to make improvements, finally lifting his average over .300 while creeping his on-base percentage nearer to .500, is what makes him truly exciting. The Sox have had a lot of great players, but it is a rare occurrence to watch the development of one.

The Sox banged out an impressive 16 hits, and while they have had good pitching, their winning streak has been driven by their offense. Looking at their line-up, seven of the nine starting position players are batting over .300, one of the exceptions being David Ortiz, and the other being back-up catcher Kevin Cash, who fills in for Jason Varitek while he battles the flu. Ellsbury is short just a few at-bats of qualifying for batting average and on-base percentage, but with him included, the Sox have six of the top 25 batting averages in the American League. With their performance today, the Sox drove their team batting average to .303, which is a full ten points higher than second place, which happens to be the Angels. The thing is that the Sox won the game today with a triple-A minor leaguer making his fourth career start, where the Angels, with John Lackey injured, had their number one pitcher on the mound. The Sox do not have the best pitching, but they have the best offense, and the best combination.

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game against the Angels. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 15, 2008 11:02 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-15-08

 

The Red Sox sweep the two games series against the Indians, winning both games on a ninth inning home run. Some thoughts on the game:

For the second straight night, the Sox got a ninth inning home run to break a tie, this time it is Jason Varitek providing the dramatics against Jensen Lewis. Varitek hit his third career pinch hit home run, as Kevin Cash had started the game to catch Tim Wakefield. Varitek is probably the Sox best pinch hitter, with a near .300 lifetime batting average with almost 100 at-bats. Even with some of the offense sputtering at this early point in the year, the Sox have hit in the clutch, late in the game and with runners in scoring position. And similar to last night, not to take anything away from Varitek’s achievements, but Cleveland has a serious issue to resolve in their bullpen. It seems that Rafael Betancourt is the best choice to fill the closer hole for the short term, but the Indians must decide whether he can hold onto the position for the long haul, because it is nearly impossible for a team to win series in the playoffs with a closer-by-committee.

Jed Lowrie made his major league debut for the Sox, and drove in the first three runs that the Sox scored. Lowrie is a switch-hitting infielder who was rated as the top middle infielder in the Sox farm system at the beginning of this year. It speaks to his versatility that his first game in the big leagues is not at one of the middle infield positions, but at third base. He is solid on the defensive side of the ball, but he may have some issues at the plate that he needs to sort out. He has a slightly upper cut swing that especially shows on high pitches, which can lead to a lot of strikeouts. Understandably a little anxious at the plate, he simply needs to cut down on swinging at close pitches when he is ahead in the count, and try to flatten out his swings on high pitches and he could be a very productive utility infielder. And if Julio Lugo does not pan out, and it does not seem like it will, as he grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded even though he had three singles earlier, he could be a replacement for Lugo at short, or even Mike Lowell at third.

It is almost always difficult to evaluate a start by Tim Wakefield, because even when his knuckleball is dancing and hitters are swinging and missing, he may be walking a lot of hitters and having to hit with the bases loaded. It seems like the quality of his starts tend to be based on the amount of run support the Sox put up behind him. Since they did not score a lot when he was in the game, some may not be impressed with the production of the 41 year old veteran to this point in the season. But, Wakefield seems to be on top of his game and is responding very well to a new battery-mate. All the Sox can hope for from Wakefield is starts where he keeps the knuckleball down and does not make mistakes by giving hitters something easy to hit, which he did tonight.

The Sox bullpen came through well tonight, as Hideki Okajima picked up the save with Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable. David Aardsma is proving that it was a good decision to keep him on the roster, recording some key outs over the past two games, getting out of a tough situation in the eighth. Seeing how the Cleveland bullpen handled the two games, it showed just how important it is to have a bullpen with the confidence to close out the game. Not only does it help add up wins, but it keeps player morale up. Fans and players alike do not have to start biting their nails as soon as the team brings in that night’s ninth inning guy. Be it either Papelbon or Okajima, the Sox do not have to worry about that issue.

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game against the Yankees, the first of a two game series in New York. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 6, 2008 2:10 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-4-08

The Red Sox lost their first game played in their third different country in three weeks in what was Toronto's home opener. Some thoughts on today's game:

Shaun Marcum pitched one of the best games that a non-Roy Halladay Toronto starter has tossed against the Sox in some time. His stuff was not overpowering, but he did have great command of his changeup, which he was using effectively in the early innings against lefties, and later against the right handed batters. But, when you rely on an 85 MPH fastball to compliment your other pitches, especially when you are pitching well, you get over-confident. The pitch he threw to J.D. Drew was only a little harder than batting practice, and Drew connected for the home run. But the Jays have to be very encouraged by his first start.

Drew did two things tonight that he had not done at all through the first five months of last year, and made only marginal improvements in September and October: hit in the clutch and hit with two outs. He looked off on his first two at-bats, but got a pitch he could handle and tied the game with the three run homer. However, it may not be as much cause for celebration as it seems. Drew is still making the same errors at the plate that he was falling to last year, and that is trying to pull every thing into right field. He needs to try to go to the opposite field, otherwise he will have another year of .270-12-70.

The Red Sox bullpen trio of David Aardsma, lefty Javier Lopez and Manny Delcarmen failed to keep the game tied, and then close, when the Sox batters were starting to gather some momentum. Aardsma took the loss, even though all he did was walk a batter who scored along with the baserunner that Lopez allowed a hit to after Delcarmen inherited both. Delcarmen has a spot on this team, no question. But he final spot, which will be decided once Josh Beckett comes off of the disabled list, is a contest between Aardsma, Lopez, and Bryan Corey. Corey has looked very good in this short season, and has appeared in four of the Sox five games. He seems to be the front runner of that race right now, but even after Beckett comes back, and it is likely that Aardsma looses his spot, the Sox will have another decision a week later when Mike Timlin comes back from the 15 day DL. It will then be between Corey and Lopez and while it would seem that Lopez would have the advantage as a "lefty specialist," he hasn't pitched well against lefties, and Corey has pitched well against both sides. All three of the relievers are out of options.

The news was officially released that Beckett will come off of the DL in time to start Sunday against the Blue Jays in the finale of this ultimate road trip. Beckett will face Halladay. Look for Beckett to throw around 75-85 pitches, or six full innings, which ever comes first. It is his first start, and the first time he has thrown in a game in almost a month.

Kevin Cash looked very comfortable in his first start catching Tim Wakefield's knuckleball. He did not record a passed ball, although Wakefield was charged with one wild pitch, and he made several good catches of foul tipped balls. Wakefield looked comfortable on the mound, with only one inning of difficulty in his first start of the season. Cash also knocked a double into the left center gap in the third inning, the first hit for the Sox on the day and what would be one of only two extra base hits all day. Cash is a very good defensive catcher, and anything that he does offensively is purely gravy for the Sox. He will be an improvement in both departments over Doug Mirabelli.

Look for this recap after tomorrow's game as the Sox try to even the series with Clay Buchholz's first start.
Keep the Faith.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com