Tag:Sean Casey
Posted on: January 26, 2009 10:26 pm
 

Casey Retires Honorably Despite Likely Enhancemen

Three-time All-Star first baseman Sean Casey is expected to formally announce his retirement this week. He will begin work as television analyst for MLB Network sometime before Spring Training opens.

Casey played 12 seasons in the big leagues, and while beginning his career in Cleveland and finishing in Boston, he will be best remembered for his time with the Cincinnati Reds, where he earned his three All-Star appearances.

During his tenure with the Reds, he developed the nickname of "The Mayor" because of his habit of striking a conversation with everyone on and off the field. Casey was widely known as one of the most approachable and friendly athletes in the game.

Off the field, the list of charitable programs in which he is an active member is extensive. Big Brother, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and various Christian-based groups all benefit from Casey's time and star power.

Meanwhile, Casey was also a very good left-handed hitter, compiling a .302 lifetime career batting average, which up until his retirement, ranked him 16th on the active list of qualifying hitters.

He was, for 12 seasons, everything that a professional athlete should aspire to be.

But while baseball looses one of its best, it is likely that they also lost yet another player who used what are today banned substances to elevate the level of his play.

The current Major League Baseball drug policy that was enacted before the 2005 season by Commissioner Bud Selig following the BALCO scandal amended the previous policy to include a much stricter section for performance enhancing drugs. The testing and the punishments became much more rigorous.

Before the 2005 season, a player who tested positive for an illegal performance enhancing substance was given treatment, not suspended, and not even named. Previous to 2002, there was no testing for performance enhancing drugs.

Yes, Casey exhibits model professionalism. It was reported during his tenure with the Red Sox that he could walk from the parking lot to the clubhouse and remember the name of every attendant and employee that he saw on a regular basis.

In 2004, at the age 29, and in the very middle of a hitter's prime, Casey slugged 24 home runs and drove in 99 RBIs, tying a career high. But despite playing in 137, 112, 143 games over the 2005-2007 seasons, respectively, Casey only managed 21 home runs. Casey went homer-less in 69 games with the Red Sox in the 2008 season.

Coincidence? No. Casey was in the prime years of his career, when all good hitters experience a surge in their offensive statistics. Yet, while Casey's batting average (.312, .272, .296, .322) over the last four years of his career remained exactly around his career average of .302, his power numbers drastically declined. And since when has 33 been an age ripe enough to retire?

Maybe it is anomalous. Perhaps he is clean. The fact remains that even if fans have speculated whether or not Casey used PEDs, he was a stand-up character for his entire career. If Casey is ever mentioned in some former senator's report years from now, people will forever have a good memory of him because he was the exact opposite of those most hated by baseball fans (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, etc.)

Any ball club would welcome the Mayor. He was loved during his time in Boston. That he may have been involved with the steroid scandal says a great deal about the era that baseball has gone through.

Posted on: May 13, 2008 10:43 am
 

Red Sox Recap 5-12-08

The Red Sox offense jumped out early but the starting pitching put them in a deficit they would not recover from as they lost three out of four to the Twins. Some thoughts on the game:

Clay Buchholz has a serious problem. He has been the classic “Jekyll and Hyde” example of a young pitcher who has no confidence pitching on the road. Buchholz’s numbers coming into the game were decent for a rookie starter in the A.L., but after tonight’s performance, there is a definite trend, and it is not a good one. While the rookie’s number are sparkling at home, 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA, his road numbers are ghastly, 0-3 with an 8.64 ERA. It is not unusual for a young starter, and all starters for that matter, to find better success at home, but rarely does any pitcher go from near perfect numbers at home to completely unreliable on the road. (And those road numbers include the eight inning, three hit performance in Tampa) Certainly, most players find it easier to perform at home (just ask the Celtics), but Buchholz needs to figure some thing out in his mechanics, because he looks like a completely different pitcher. It seemed like every change-up he threw tonight was above the belt, and since his change-up is his best pitch, he was in for trouble. He had to go to his fastball on more occasions, which was better tonight than in his last outing, but was still not something that he can put away opposing batters with like he can with his change-up. He did feature a good curveball, which he was forced to go to when the change was staying up. Buchholz has good enough secondary pitches, but since his fastball has been proven to be the weakest of his four pitches, he tends to throw the change-up in hitters counts. On most days, what makes him successful is his ability to throw those off-speed pitches for strikes when he gets behind hitters and that keeps them off-balance. But tonight, the Twins saw his change-up was off, and were able to lay off and simply go after his fastball. It will be interesting to see if he makes some adjustment the next time he starts on the road, because the Sox cannot afford this type of disaster every time he pitches away from Fenway.

In what seems like a somewhat unexpected move, Julian Tavarez was designated for assignment to make room for Sean Casey. The Sox made this move for a number of reasons. First, Tavarez has been struggling, but it was more likely do to the fact that he has not been used often. Terry Francona has shown before how he is uncomfortable to have a pitcher in the bullpen who is a “long”-reliever, and that he likely thinks that to have a pitcher who does not pitch well in one inning, back-to-back game type situations is somewhat of a waste. It is true that Tavarez does need at least two or three days to recover after pitching, no matter if he pitches one inning, or four. Simply, the Sox did not have a need for a long reliever. Secondly, the Sox are running out of players with options. Craig Hansen has some left, but the Sox felt like he deserved to be with the club and he had something to prove. Jed Lowrie was already sent down when Alex Cora was activated. Manny Delcarmen likely has a few, but the Sox seem intent on keeping him with the club. And lastly, the Sox have been involved with trade rumors for a few weeks regarding Tavarez, primarily with the Rockies. What has probably happened is that the Sox are close to a trade with some team, but the logistics have to still be worked out. By designating Tavarez, it gives the Sox ten days to trade him, or he can either accept an assignment to the minor leagues, or opt for free agency. The Sox are probably close to a trade, and Tavarez will probably be sent to another club within the next few days. Do not look for the Sox to get much in return, probably a player to be named later. Tavarez’s end in Boston comes as a disappointment to many, as he was one of the best personalities in the clubhouse. He was always willing to do whatever it took to win, and he was very valuable for the Sox last year, making 18 starts until returning to the bullpen when Jon Lester returned. At least Sox fans will have some great memories, like Tavarez petting Manny Ramirez’s head, or bowling a groundball to get a runner out at first base.

Look for this recap following tomorrow’s game as the Sox begin a brief two game series against the Orioles for the end of this ten game road trip. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

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: May 10, 2008 12:06 am
 

Red Sox Recap 5-9-08

The Red Sox had rallied back only to suffer their second ninth inning walk off defeat in three days. Some thoughts on the game:

Jon Lester had a decent start, going five plus while yielding five runs, three earned, and only walking one. He threw an astonishing 57 pitches through the first two innings, and needed only 41 to record the next ten outs. Lester’s struggles have been oddly inconsistent this year. Last year, we saw a pitcher, much like Daisuke Matsuzaka, look great over the first three innings, and then completely fall apart when the hitters came around again. However, when Lester has struggled this year, some games he will have trouble in the first few innings, and others will be more like last year. It may seem troublesome, but the fact that he is not having the same problem hurt him on every start shows some level of improvement. However, he still has not figured out how to retire hitters effectively. He has taken good steps to attack hitters and force them into pitchers’ counts, and has limited the walks, but he has not developed enough confidence in his pitches to attack them with two strikes. Opposing hitters are staying around too long and running the count up. Lester’s bane will continue to be his ineffectiveness with his pitches until he can decide what his “out” pitch, or pitches, are and until then, we will be tantalized by the starts where he does seem to put the whole package together.

No Red Sox fans are allowed to panic because of Jonathan Papelbon’s two blown saves in the past three days. All great closers have one or two weeks during the season where they seem to have lost it (it happens regularly to Mariano Rivera around mid-August), but he will regain his form. One thing that can be cause for alarm is that because the Sox have had few blowout wins this season, and most of their 23 wins have come on the strength of out-bashing the other team or out-finessing the other team with great starting pitching, there have been a lot of save opportunities. After seeing Papelbon falter at the end of the 2006 season, the Sox made it one of their priorities to make sure he was healthy at the end of the 2007 season. Theo Epstein stressed that Papelbon would rarely be used on more than two consecutive days and will always have a day off after throwing more than one inning, or when he has a pitch count that reflects that he had to labor (usually upwards of 20-25). This season, he has appeared in 17 of the Sox 38 games: exactly half. He pitched in 59 games in both of his first two seasons as closer, and it is ludicrous to think that he would continue pitching at this rate because at this pace, he would finish the year with 81 appearances. However, it may be that he is working a bit too much. He has simply been called on more because of the tightness of the games this year and the struggles by much of the other relievers. Look for Terry Francona to ease off Papelbon a bit, and maybe give him the next two games off, so that he can rest his arm and get what little, if any, confidence he has lost.

Sean Casey and Alex Cora both were scheduled to play in their last rehab game with Pawtucket tonight, and come off of the disabled list this weekend. But due to bad weather on the east coast, the game was canceled. Since this series with the Twins goes for four games and wraps up on Monday, the Sox could decide to get them in another game this weekend in Pawtucket, and fly them out to Minnesota to arrive on Sunday, or wait and have them meet up with the Sox when they travel to Baltimore on Tuesday for a two game series. The weather does not look like it will improve Saturday, but it is unlikely that the Sox will bring both of them to Minnesota after such a short rehab. When they do return, Brandon Moss and Jed Lowrie will almost certainly be sent back to triple-A.

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

Posted on: May 7, 2008 12:12 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2008 12:14 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 5-6-08

The Red Sox won their fifth straight game behind an excellent start by Tim Wakefield. Some thoughts on the game:

Tim Wakefield delivered his best start of the year thus far, throwing strikes early and often, and dominated the Tigers’ stagnant offense. The Tigers took an approach to Wakefield that the Rangers took earlier this year, as they swung early in the count and did not wait for Wakefield to throw too many pitches. In the game against the Rangers, Wakefield gave up eight hits and five runs, but the Tigers were much less effective making contact. Tonight was the only other night, besides the Rangers game, that he did not yield a walk. Even though his delivery does not change with runners on base, almost anyone can steal a base against him, and with the occasional passed ball, a runner on first who reached on a walk can easily come around to score without the opposing team recording a hit. Wakefield settled in and worked fast as he normally does, and retired at one point 16 straight Tigers. Wakefield lowered his ERA to 3.33, and now Josh Beckett (4.19 ERA) is the only starter with an ERA above 4.00. With the back end of the bullpen a little taxed, Wakefield’s eight innings were that much more helpful. It also allowed for a rare occurrence, as both pitchers for the Sox tonight were both over 41 years old, since Mike Timlin pitched a scoreless ninth for the Sox fourth shut-out this season.

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz went back-to-back in the seventh inning to provide most of the offense. Ramirez has been in a mini-slump, entering the game with just 5 hits in his last 32 at-bats. But, more importantly, he broke out of a bad power slump, as his home run was his first since April 20. A lot of players tend to be pressing when they get close to a milestone, and with Ramirez on the edge of one of the most historic milestones in all of baseball, he has been racking up the strikeouts with alarming frequency. Alex Rodriguez went through a similar funk last year as he approached 500 home runs, but after a week or so, the great players tend to get back in their groove. Ramirez had an excellent batting practice session today, and the home run capped a very good offensive night. It is very encouraging to see Ortiz drive the ball with explosive force, and his home run was likely between 440 and 450 feet. He has been given a few days off over the past few weeks, and he has responded well going 11-25 (.440) with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI over his last six games. Since he really seems to be having trouble with his knee, look for him to be given more frequent off days, especially after Sean Casey comes back off of the disabled list, which he is eligible to do on Friday. Also, Ramirez and Ortiz have now hit home runs in the same game an astonishing 45 times in their career with the Red Sox, and seeing as they have only played together for a little over five seasons, that number is even more impressive. Not only are they the “gold standard,” as ESPN commentator Joe Morgan refers to them, for productive 3-4 hitters in the game today, but they may be the best of all time.

The Sox entered the Tigers series with a very surprising statistic: they had had as many home runs as they did stolen bases (26). The Sox also recorded two stolen bases in one game recently, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the only time such an event has occurred for the Sox for at least the last 50 years. With Jacoby Ellsbury, Coco Crisp, and Julio Lugo, the Sox may have more speed now than they ever have, and we would have to go back to the 1910s-1920s with Sox teams that included Hall of Famers like Tris Speaker. If he starts to play more regularly, Ellsbury may break Tommy Harper’s club record of 54 steals. But, if not this year, then the Sox may as well already begin penciling in Ellsbury’s name.

There was a poll on today's recap about where Ramirez and Ortiz stand in history in terms of 3-4 combinations. 
I'll throw some other combos out there to keep in mind:

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game as the Sox try to make it three straight against the Tigers. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)

Obviously, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

Willie Mays and Willie McCovey

Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. (although Maris did not sustain the numbers that Mantle did)

Mickey Cochrane and Al Simmons

Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews (hold the record for most times two players for the same team hit a home run in the same game, 75)

Fred Lynn and Jim Rice

These are just a few, to get the juices flowing...(no pun intended)

Posted on: April 28, 2008 6:42 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2008 6:44 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-26-08

The Red Sox lost to their fourth straight game and second in a row to the Rays. Some thoughts on the game:

Clay Buchholz pitched an absolutely great game. This is the type of start that the Sox dream of from their number five starter. Many people will say that the Sox were looking to get too much out of him by sending him out for the eighth inning, but Buchholz was getting stronger as the night was going on. He made the one bad pitch, the hanging breaking ball to Akinori Iwamura, which accounted for all of the runs that the Rays got. The biggest problem that Buchholz was having up until tonight was his struggles with opposing hitters during their second trip to the plate. Tonight, he handled the Rays much better, changing his speeds and going after hitters the second and third time around completely different than he did earlier. He got into no clear rhythm as the night went on in terms of the way he was attacking hitters, and because all three of his pitches were working, the Rays were simply guessing. Iwamura guessed off-speed during his at-bat in the eight and happened to guess right. Terry Francona was right to send Buchholz back out, as he was breezing through the later innings, and he has pitched better against left-handed batters this year than he has righties anyway. The Sox will be exceptionally pleased with the way he mixed up his pitches and kept the Rays off-balance. Buchholz had only given up one hit through eight innings, and even with the home run, has now given up only two runs to go along with 15 strikeouts over his last two outings, which span 14 innings.

The reason the Sox lost had little to do with Buchholz and Iwamura’s home run. The Sox only managed one run, and have to be concerned with the lack of offensive production. Of the Sox’s five hits tonight, all five were singles, and only one of them left the infield. Because injuries and illnesses have forced the Sox to do quite a bit of shuffling in their lineup, the Sox need to show soon that they can score runs on the road. A problem for the Sox this season has been their lack of offensive production playing away from Fenway Park. This is not unnatural, but four runs over the first two games, especially at a venue like Tropicana Field where they have had good success driving in runs in recent years, is by no means fruitful. The Rays do have a few of the best statistics in the A.L. for their relief pitching, but the Sox will be facing much tougher bullpens as the season plays out.

Speaking of injuries and illnesses, add Sean Casey to that list. Casey injured himself as he was rounding third and scoring a run in yesterday’s game. To replace Casey, the Sox recalled Brandon Moss from triple-A Pawtucket. Because of the surplus of outfielders that the Sox have enjoyed recently, Moss started doing work and taking lessons at first base during this spring training. Still, Moss’s recall may seem slightly puzzling. Mike Lowell is on a rehab assignment, and played in the field for the first time today as the Pawtucket Red Sox took on Buffalo. He is expected to be ready to rejoin the team shortly, which will add another infielder to the Sox bench as Jed Lowrie can return to being a back up rather than a starter. But the Sox have a player at Pawtucket named Chris Carter, who was acquired as the player-to-be-named-later in the deal that sent Wily Mo Pena to the Washington Nationals last season. Carter had very impressive numbers for triple-A Tucson (in the Diamondbacks system) and in his brief stay in Pawtucket last year. Although he seems to be a natural designated hitter, the Sox have placed him at first base since it seems unlikely that the Sox will have an opening at DH for some time. He could have been a likely call-up to replace Casey. Another option would be to go with another pitcher, like the recently demoted Craig Hansen. Hansen is by no means a lights out reliever, but he can pitch for more than one inning at a time and could help out the bullpen, which is looking strained at this point in the season. Though, if the Sox continue to get eight solid innings from the number five starter, that may become moot.

Look for this recap following tomorrow’s game as the Sox try to avoid a sweep and stop this loosing streak. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 20, 2008 4:31 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2008 4:31 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-20-08

The Red Sox came from behind to win again, slipping past the Rangers for their fourth straight win. Some thoughts on the game:

Kevin Youkilis is one of the most underrated players in major league baseball. For writers and fans outside of Boston, it is easy to overlook him. He was not a high draft pick, did not have the fanfare when he made the big leagues like a player such as Jacoby Ellsbury, and he made his debut in the season after the Sox won the World Series in 2004, so there were no postseason heroics for him to be noticed by. But it undeniable that Youkilis is one of the all-around better players in the majors. He always starts the season out hot, but he does own a career batting average over .280, but his lack of dominating power does not draw him much attention. Throw in that Youkilis is a Gold Glove caliber first baseman, and an above average third baseman, and he is definitely in the higher tier of corner infielders. He may not be the best option for a fantasy team, but the Sox need to ride Youkilis in the early part of the season, because over his two full seasons in the majors, he has declined after the All-Star break.

Tim Wakefield had a highly unusual start, giving up five runs but only threw 47 pitches in the first five innings. The knuckleballer did have his struggles, but he did tend to scatter base runners over eight innings. Much like Jon Lester in the previous night, he pitched well enough, and long enough, to give the Sox a legitimate chance to win. Although the five runs are a bit more than most would like, it is a fair exchange for eight innings pitched. As with Lester, the best the Sox can hope for from a veteran pitcher with a unique, and unpredictable, pitching delivery is that he can keep the hitters in the game until they can come around to put together some runs.

The Red Sox fell into the trap that the Rangers struggled with last night. They did produce 13 hits through the first eight innings, but they were scattered, as the Sox did not produce a run until the seventh. With Manny Ramirez ejected early after arguing, the Sox found it difficult to string together some productive at-bats early in the game. But the Sox once again showed why they are the most productive offensive team in the majors from the seventh inning on. The Sox ability to come back in games is due to their ability to not help opposing pitchers by swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. Most relief pitchers try to get the strikeout by setting up hitters with pitches that are out of the zone, but close to being strikes. The Sox have one of the most patient lineups in the league, and the more pitches that a reliever has to throw, the less effective he becomes. J.D. Drew and Sean Casey had two of the best at-bats that the Sox have gotten so far this season. Both are lefties facing the Ranger’s left-handed closer C.J. Wilson, and both worked the count into their favor, and neither swung at balls as Drew walked to load the bases, and Casey walked to drive in the go-ahead run.

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s Patriots Day game, when the Sox go for the four game sweep against the Rangers in the earliest game of the season. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)

Posted on: April 10, 2008 11:21 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-10-08

 The Red Sox salvaged the series against the Tigers, winning the rubber game of the three game series. Some thoughts on the game:

David Ortiz is really struggling. He looks extremely frustrated with every at-bat. He still managed to get on base today, and even with a .083 batting average, he has a much more decent on base percentage. But, Terry Francona really needs to give him a day off. He was seen walking around today in between batting practice sessions with a large ice pack on the knee that was surgically operated on this offseason. Even on the plate apperances that he draws a walk, he looks uncomfortable and frustrated that he is not given anything decent to hit. He has also been changing his batting stance. Last year, Ortiz was standing straighter in his stance than he had in previous years, probably because of the discomfort of the knee, but it lead to a higher batting average, but less power. Ortiz was standing almost straight up for the first few games of this season, before returning to a more crouched position for Wednesday's game. Nevertheless, Ortiz needs to sit down, get his stance in check, catch his breath, and try to get on track.

Mike Lowell was placed on the 15 day disabled list with a sprained right thumb. It wasn't thought that the injury, which he sustained Wednesday night, was severe enough to go on the DL. But a significant amount of swelling and pain in the area led the Sox to the move. They called up prospect infielder Jed Lowrie, the next in the line of recent Sox farmhands that is supposed to make a nice splash into the big leagues. It is probably too early for Lowrie to be brought up, but Alex Cora also injured his elbow taking grounders at third, so the Sox felt the need to have another middle infielder. Lowrie's main position is shortstop, but he has experience at second as well. It is unlikely he will get many at bats and will be used only for emergencies, and possibly a day game after a night game situation.

Sean Casey and J.D. Drew are doing an excellent job on offense for the Sox. Nothing spectacular was expected at the beginning of the year, as Drew struggled so much of last year, and Casey was supposed to be a bit player this year, filling in only on occasion. But both have provided steady offensive production. Casey is a lifetime .300 hitter and had a BA over .360 against lefties last year. Drew is leading the team with a .440 BA over this young season, and his swing is much improved from last year. He is not getting on top of pitches as much as he was last year, which lead to the innumerable ground balls to the second baseman. Although people felt that Drew should not try to pull everything so much, he really has corrected the problems but simply getting udner balls a little more and getting more line drives than grounders.

Look for this recap after tomorrow's game, the first of the season against the New York Yankees. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
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