Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash

Photo I took off Javier Lopez coming off the mound in 2008

On Monday, a friend asked what was going on with Javier Lopez. We were tired of trying to figure out what the deal was with Tek and we weren’t holding out hope anything would quickly be resolved with Paps so Javy’s name came up. I started to do some research and then real life got in the way so I was pleasantly surprised to get news on both Papelbon AND Lopez in the same shot.

Before I go on about Lopez, I wanted to point out that Rob Bradford has an interesting take on the Papelbon contract:

But when looking at the first stage of this thing, Papelbon accomplished what he had set out to when first mentioning his payroll progression. He set the standard.

The deal is the largest given to any first-year arbitration eligible pitcher, and is the third-highest agreed to by any first-year arbitration eligible player, behind Ryan Howard ($10 million) and Miguel Cabrera ($7 million).

So when Papelbon speaks, the Red Sox seem to listen. This is something that should make us all very happy. Sox didn’t jump into some crazy, long-term contract, but put it out to Paps that they do value him. So folks can stop worrying that the Red Sox are disrespecting our closer. Yay for putting that behind us.

Now back to Lopez. I spent way too many games in 2008 arguing with seemingly baseball-intelligent people about him. I can’t count how many games I went to where I ended up hearing “Oh no, not LOPEZ!” or “Tito’s putting in Lopez, this game is over” or anything close to either of those. I just have never understood the Lopez hate. And, it seems, neither did the Red Sox. The Sox signed Javier to a one-year contract for $1.35 million. The Sox were so impressed with Lopez that they game him a raise. (Last season he made $840,000.)

In 2008, Javier appeared in 70 games, even winning two of them. In a little more than 59 innings, he gave up 18 runs (16 earned) and struck out 38. Sure he also gave up 53 hits and walked 27 in that same period, but he finished off the year with a 2.43 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and a .245 BAA. Might not be All Star stats, but he was quite solid. It amazes me that people still consider him a detriment to the bullpen. I’m happy Theo sees his worth and signed him up for another year – it’s certainly good for the team.

Now if he can just finish up with a catcher, folks won’t have anything to complain about until the WBC!

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January 20, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment

Look at you, you're young

Photo of David Pauley in 2006 – taken by Kelly O’Connor/Sittingstill.net

So David Pauley’s short-term fate has been determined: Today, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for right-handed pitcher Randor Bierd. Pauley only made two starts with the BoSox in 2008 – his real contributions were with the PawSox where, in ’08, he won 14 games (and lost 4), walked 41 batters and struck out 103 in 147 innings. Charlie Zink, in an interview with MLB.com, gave Pauley a lot of the credit for pushing him during his career year that ended with Zink winning the AAA Starting Pitcher of the Year award. I spent many fun days at McCoy Stadium last year watching each of them pitch and I’ll miss being able to do that this season.

Pauley had been designated for assignment in order to put John Smoltz on the 40-man roster. Can’t argue with the whys. But he was a sentimental favorite of mine and it’s a bit of a bummer to find that he won’t be in Pawtucket in 2009. The unselfish part of me is happy that he is going to a team that might actually have a spot for him on the big team. David has more than paid his dues and I think Baltimore could be a good fit.

And one bit of housekeeping: Entries on the blogs I’ve had previous to this one were rife with trolls and people who just wanted to bash me. I’m okay with that. If you’re going to put yourself out there, you have to expect to get negative reactions as well as positive. Not everyone will always agree with me., nor do I expect them to. So, please, feel free to let me have it. All I ask is that you know of what you write. As someone pointed out in the comments today (and as I mentioned in my first entry here), I’m not a reporter. I have no access and I’ll never “break” a story. When there is baseball-related material to write about, I will. I’ll also be writing about aspects of the game that are important to me. Especially in these off-days of baseball. That’s to say, this is, for the most part, a very personal blog. It’s an op-ed column, if you will. If you don’t want to read about one fan’s views, feelings and experiences with the Red Sox and with baseball in general, you’re in the wrong place. My hope is that people enjoy reading this blog. If you aren’t enjoying it, WEEI.com has a long list of bloggers who might be better suited to your tastes.

Dig me, already pimping for the man!

January 19, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , | Leave a comment

They're always having a good time down on the Bayou, Lord

I love this photo I took at Fenway at Game 1 of the 2007 World Series

My “real-life” work schedule was such last week that I ended up with quite the long weekend. Out of the office from Thursday through today. It sounds wonderful, but makes it difficult to get amped up about heading back out into the cold and snow tomorrow. Especially given that I was really hoping to be home tomorrow to watch the inauguration live.

Thank goodness for the dvr!

The time off has given me the opportunity to spend some time doing things other than obsessing on baseball. Yesterday, I spent some time with my massive extended family (I’m one of 50 first cousins on the Donnelly side and that doesn’t even cover the two generations that have followed us) and we found out that one of the Donnellys was on her way, as we partied, to her third tour over in Iraq. She’s on the USS New Orleans (LPD-18). Susan is the mother of two and her husband Brad is also in the Navy and he too has spent some time in Iraq. We are all incredibly proud of them both and the sacrifices they’ve made. They both do something I know I could never do. Susan is, actually one of a few of our family members we have who’ve made their way to Iraq or Afghanistan. All of them, I’m happy to report, have made it home safely and I’m praying for the same for Susan. Regardless of how I feel about the war, I’m so proud of Susan for doing what she is. I’m a big fan of prayers and positive vibes and would appreciate any you could send Susan’s way. (Another of my cousins was in Iraq in October of 2004 during the World Series. I remember writing to him that I would trade the Red Sox winning the World Series for his being home. His response to me? “Don’t be crazy! ” 🙂 )

I take great pride in being American and tomorrow that pride will be swelling. And that’s as political as I will ever get over here.

I’m spending my last lazy morning before going back to work watching Game 4 of the 2007 World Series on the MLB Network. Sure I’ve seen it many, many times now, but it never stops being exciting. Although, in retrospect, I sort of do feel sorry for the Rockies and their fans. To get all psyched up because you’re in the World Series and then just get steamrolled in four games…man that must be gut-wrenching.

Over Buck and McCarver, I can hear the bullpen band. Man, I miss that sound! The Red Sox website has pitchers and catchers reporting in 24 days. So close but so far away.

Programming note: MBL Network is airing “Pride and Perseverance: The Story of the Negro Leagues” tonight at 9:00est. It’s a great way to get a baseball fix while learning a bit about the history of the game at the same time.

January 19, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment

Is it an earthquake or simply a shock?

Photo of Daniel Bard taken today by me at McCoy Stadium

After a ride on Amtrak that included the smell of burning rubber and then an announcement from the conductor using the words “We had to cut out the brake cylinder, but we still have 99% brake power!” we made our way to Pawtucket.

McCoy Stadium was a lot of fun. Although it was a little different than last year in that they omitted the Q&A sessions in order to ensure that everyone had a chance to meet the players and get autographs. This was a little disappointing. It’s nice to see the interactions between the players and just get a small sense of who they are. We did get to see Daniel Bard and Kris Johnson have a cute back and forth regarding this picture that KellyO took of Kris last week at Jillian’s during the New Stars for Young Stars event. Kris just loved it and then signed it and added an “X” to mark the strike he bowled. Unfortunately, Lars Anderson needed to bolt before the event was over so an awful lot of people, including us, didn’t get the chance to meet him. That wasn’t so terrible, though. Along with Johnson and Bard, we met Mark Wagner and Zach Daeges, and all four seemed really into meeting the fans. Even after all the time they were there signing (we were in line to see Anderson, Johnson and Bard for a good hour and a half), once we got up to them, they were in wonderful moods and very gracious.

Being true to my word, I took the opportunity to ask Ron Johnson about Kyle Snyder. Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I get up to RJ and thank him for being there, congratulate him on last season and they pop out with, “So, RJ, what do you hear about Kyle Snyder?”. He paused for a moment, seemingly taken by surprise at the question and then he looked a little confused and said, “Well, I know we haven’t re-signed him. But I really don’t know what’s going on with him. I need to give him a call.” I told him that he certainly did have to give Kyle a call and he laughed and said, “You know, he’s really a good guy. A really good guy.”. Which was nice to hear. I mean, I have no doubts he’s a good guy, but it’s always nice to hear it. So I got the ball rolling…let’s see what RJ can do!

January 17, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment

We like our beer flat as can be

A photo I took of Justin Masterson at the PawSox Hot Stove Party in 2008

This morning, I’m heading down to Pawtucket with KellyO for the Hot Stove Party the PawSox annually sponsor. I’m not sure how unique it is within MLB (The PawSox have been doing it for over 30 years), but I’ve never been to an event quite like it. Last year was my first time down for it and it was pleasantly surprising that, for free, you get to tour the clubhouse and meet with the manager and some members of the team. There are Q&A sessions, an opportunity for autographs and pictures and even free hot dogs! If you’re near the area or can find yourself there easily enough, it’s definitely worth the trip.

Last year, among others, Justin Masterson, Jed Lowrie and Michael Bowden were there. This year, Lars Anderson, Mark Wagner and Daniel Bard are some of the players scheduled to attend. So it’s a great opportunity to meet some players who might be doing good things for the team sooner than we think!

It was a bit anti-climactic to get no information out of Varitek or Henry after last night’s meeting, but what did I expect? Henry is notorious for keeping things close to his chest and if they did make some headway, I’d imagine Tek wouldn’t be stupid enough to sabotage that by talking about it. So, once again, we wait. I hate waiting.

The “flipper” for this blog on the front page of WEEI.com promises that I have “something to say” about Kyle Snyder. Well, I’d have more to say if we could find out anythiing on him. I’m thinking I’ll have to use my brief time with Ron Johnson today to find out if he’s heard anything. Hey, it’s worth a shot, right?

Last year, much to my own horror, I called RJ “coach”. Afterward remembering how much Terry Francona hates to be called that and wondering if it was a manager issue and RJ shared his dislike of the word. I never found out but at least getting this down will remind me to not make that same mistake again.

According to weather.com, it’s two degrees in Pawtucket right now. Two. The good news is, by the time we get down there it will be 13 degrees! Heat wave, baby! Hopefully, I’ll have some photos and maybe even a story or two to share when I get back. Until then, stay warm peeps. Stay warm.

January 17, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , | Leave a comment

Hot Stove on a Cold Day

Was this REALLY the best abbreviation WEEI.com could find for "Assistant"?

Was this REALLY the best abbreviation WEEI.com could find for "Assistant"?

I’ve given up trying to figure out when the WEEI.com gig begins. I’m aiming for sometime in January, but who knows, really? 🙂 The plan is to have this domain forwarded to the new one, so folks shouldn’t miss a beat when it finally happens. Thanks to everyone who’s been asking about it!

I was going to rant about Paul Byrd deciding he wants to spend time with his family so he plans on not starting the 2009 season until halfway through, but I decided to focus on someone who DIDN’T make me want to punch him (currently, anyway): Kevin Youkilis.

Sox and Youk came to an agreement on a four-year, $41 million contract extension that comes with a $13 million club option for 2013 or a $1 million buyout. So we get Youk for another four years. Team could do much worse. Youk could too. SO now we have a first baseman and a second baseman we know will be sticking around for a while. Knowing that they’re be out there makes me very happy. See? I’m easy to please.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading to Pawtucket for the annual “Hot Stove Party” the PawSox throw every year. For a total cost of $0, you can meet some of the new blood (including Lars Anderson, Mark Wagner and Daniel Bard), hear manager Ron Johnson talk about the upcoming season, buy tickets for the 2009 season and wander the halls of the clubhouse at McCoy Stadium. It’s well worth taking the trip!

Incidentally, my dream of taking over the PawSox website has been killed. It has been brought into the fold by MiLB and is now “one of them“. For all the complaining I did last year about the site, I’m a bit bummed that the PawSox have been forced to assimilate. I’m hoping this change means more access to info on the team and the players. If that happens, I’ll have little to complain about in that area. Right?

January 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hot Stove on a Cold Day

Was this REALLY the best abbreviation WEEI.com could find for "Assistant"?

Was this REALLY the best abbreviation WEEI.com could find for "Assistant"?

I’ve given up trying to figure out when the WEEI.com gig begins. I’m aiming for sometime in January, but who knows, really? 🙂 The plan is to have this domain forwarded to the new one, so folks shouldn’t miss a beat when it finally happens. Thanks to everyone who’s been asking about it!

I was going to rant about Paul Byrd deciding he wants to spend time with his family so he plans on not starting the 2009 season until halfway through, but I decided to focus on someone who DIDN’T make me want to punch him (currently, anyway): Kevin Youkilis.

Sox and Youk came to an agreement on a four-year, $41 million contract extension that comes with a $13 million club option for 2013 or a $1 million buyout. So we get Youk for another four years. Team could do much worse. Youk could too. SO now we have a first baseman and a second baseman we know will be sticking around for a while. Knowing that they’re be out there makes me very happy. See? I’m easy to please.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading to Pawtucket for the annual “Hot Stove Party” the PawSox throw every year. For a total cost of $0, you can meet some of the new blood (including Lars Anderson, Mark Wagner and Daniel Bard), hear manager Ron Johnson talk about the upcoming season, buy tickets for the 2009 season and wander the halls of the clubhouse at McCoy Stadium. It’s well worth taking the trip!

Incidentally, my dream of taking over the PawSox website has been killed. It has been brought into the fold by MiLB and is now “one of them“.  For all the complaining I did last year about the site, I’m a bit bummed that the PawSox have been forced to assimilate.  I’m hoping this change means more access to info on the team and the players.  If that happens, I’ll have little to complain about in that area.  Right?

January 16, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | 5 Comments

No amount of stoned makes you feel okay

I’ve had enough time to prepare for my debut on WEEI.com, but I didn’t. I didn’t prepare at all. Really didn’t think I needed to. Heck, I’ve been blogging about the Red Sox for almost four years and I never prepare, I just write. So I figured that, when the time came, I’d be fine. Just start typing and something will come. Of course, I didn’t take into consideration that “the time” would come during the off-season. A time when I, generally, am lazy about blogging. Where I blog every day (sometimes two or three times a day) during the season, I usually blog every other day during the off-season. It wasn’t until I got word today that the blog is finally moving to the new digs, that it hit me I should have a plan for, at the very least, my inaugural post here.

Great. What the hell am I going to write about? I’ve written about Youk (and let me go on record, again, as saying I’m quite happy we know who will be on first and second for the next few years) so I want to write about something else. Just as I’m about to scour the Internet for something fabulous to ramble on about, I notice Alex Speier has a blurb that John Henry will be meeting with Jason Varitek and that he talks about that on Comcast Sports Net at 6:30 tonight.

Generally, I’d rather pour acid in my eyes than watch Comcast Sports Net (unless they’re airing a basketball game), but I decided that it was worth watching because, if for no other reason, I really want to know what’s going on with Varitek. The idea that the principal owner is making the trip to Atlanta tonight to talk to Tek without Scott Boras (hiss!) present, fascinates me. So Mr. Henry hands me something to write about. It’s just like during the season. Yay information!

Photo of Manny taken by me at Fenway in 2005

Whilst I wait for “Sports Tonight” to begin, I’m sitting through Comcast’s original program “Manny being Manny” and, voila, I have something else to write about. This program was created months after Manny was traded. Months. And it features many local sports writers (Rob Bradford, Sean McAdam, Gerry Callahan and CHB, most notably) dishing on Manny. As I sit and watch this 30 minute program, it occurs to me that it was only created to give Red Sox fans the finger. “See! We told you all along that Manny was ‘bad’ and you didn’t believe us!! Who’s laughing now??”

I hate smug. And you don’t get any more smug than creating a program about, arguably, one of the best hitters in MLB and one of the, historically, most popular players in Red Sox history, solely for the purpose of sticking it to the fans. We know Manny was an ass in the way he worked his way out of town. We don’t need this shoved down our throats. Thanks anyway.

So here I am. Thanks, again, to everyone who made this opportunity possible. If you’ve followed me here from “Toeingtherubber.com” you’ll know what to expect (and thank you!). Pretty much the same as always with a few less curse words thrown in. If you’re finding me because you frequent WEEI.com, welcome and thanks for stopping by. I’ll never claim to know it all and I’m sure there will be many times that what I write makes you bang your head, but I love the Red Sox and baseball in general, and enjoy writing about both. Please feel free to leave comments (or drop me a line!) and tell me what you think because I’m always eager to hear what other folks think, even if you don’t agree with me.

Even during the off-season, the plan is to blog every day. Sometimes the spirit hits more than once a day, though, so keep checking back. There will definitely be more tonight after we get some info about the meeting between the Captain and Mr. Henry.

Incidentally, I’m not a reporter. I have no special access and I have no specific orders on what to write about. I have an affection for the entire team but especially for the players who don’t always get the spotlight. (This is where I give my shout-out to Kyle Snyder!)

This blog is going to be one fan’s ramblings about the game, the team and the players she loves.

You’ve been warned.

January 16, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment

I'm just going to ramble for a few minutes

Work is absolutely insane and I’m just worn out.  But the news about Jim Rice, the John Smoltz and Rocco Baldelli signings, and an opportunity to meet Bronson again have kept me happy throughout the insanity.

Sadly, it all hasn’t helped my brain much so I’m still struggling to be coherent.  🙂  Given that my EEI gig probably begins some time late Wednesday or Thursday this week, the timing couldn’t be worse – BUT I’m out of work from Thursday through Monday, so that should give me plenty of time to get focused and start pumping out the entries again.

In the meantime, I’m taking the easy way out.

*  It was pointed out to me in comments on the previous post that I didn’t make any mention of Rickey Henderson making the  Hall of Fame.  I like Rickey and I’m happy he was elected into the Hall.  But the story there would have been if he WASNT picked to make the Hall this year.  My focus was on the man who deserved to be elected in many years ago but had to wait until his last year of eligibility before he got bumped over to the Veterans Committee.  I make no apologies for that.

*  Raise your hand if back in 2001 you thought in 2009 Derek Lowe would get a four year, $60 million contract.  If your hand is up, you’re a liar.

Rob Bradford is reporting that Alex Cora has agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the New York Mets.  Cora is one of those “average” players that I have a strong affection for.  It saddens me that he won’t be with the Red Sox, but I’m happy that the New York team he landed with doesn’t play in the Bronx.

*  Seriously.  How is it January and I haven’t heard ANYTHING about Kyle Snyder’s status?  There’s no one out there who can hook me up with some information?  Goal for 2009:  Score an interview with Kyle.  Hey, it could happen!

Greg Montalbano was at the Lowell Spinners Alumni dinner last night.  It was inspiring to see him there, looking so well and speaking so fondly of his time playing baseball.  We need more Greg Montalbano stories.  We need to hear more about the unsung heroes in baseball and not just the superstars.

*  Unrelated to baseball:  Watching Bill Hicks tonight and then catching about 5 minutes of Dane Cook made me miss Bill Hicks (and good comedy in general) immensely.  Really, people, stop lining Cook’s pockets.

*  Kelly O’Connor took some fabulous photos at the Boston Baseball Writer’s dinner AND the New Stars for Young Stars event.  Go see her amazing photos here.

Finally, by popular demand:  (This is from last year, not this year’s show, but it serves its purpose!)

January 14, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

I’m just going to ramble for a few minutes

Work is absolutely insane and I’m just worn out.  But the news about Jim Rice, the John Smoltz and Rocco Baldelli signings, and an opportunity to meet Bronson again have kept me happy throughout the insanity.

Sadly, it all hasn’t helped my brain much so I’m still struggling to be coherent.  🙂  Given that my EEI gig probably begins some time late Wednesday or Thursday this week, the timing couldn’t be worse – BUT I’m out of work from Thursday through Monday, so that should give me plenty of time to get focused and start pumping out the entries again.

In the meantime, I’m taking the easy way out.

*  It was pointed out to me in comments on the previous post that I didn’t make any mention of Rickey Henderson making the  Hall of Fame.  I like Rickey and I’m happy he was elected into the Hall.  But the story there would have been if he WASNT picked to make the Hall this year.  My focus was on the man who deserved to be elected in many years ago but had to wait until his last year of eligibility before he got bumped over to the Veterans Committee.  I make no apologies for that.

*  Raise your hand if back in 2001 you thought in 2009 Derek Lowe would get a four year, $60 million contract.  If your hand is up, you’re a liar.

Rob Bradford is reporting that Alex Cora has agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the New York Mets.  Cora is one of those “average” players that I have a strong affection for.  It saddens me that he won’t be with the Red Sox, but I’m happy that the New York team he landed with doesn’t play in the Bronx.

*  Seriously.  How is it January and I haven’t heard ANYTHING about Kyle Snyder’s status?  There’s no one out there who can hook me up with some information?  Goal for 2009:  Score an interview with Kyle.  Hey, it could happen!

Greg Montalbano was at the Lowell Spinners Alumni dinner last night.  It was inspiring to see him there, looking so well and speaking so fondly of his time playing baseball.  We need more Greg Montalbano stories.  We need to hear more about the unsung heroes in baseball and not just the superstars.

*  Unrelated to baseball:  Watching Bill Hicks tonight and then catching about 5 minutes of Dane Cook made me miss Bill Hicks (and good comedy in general) immensely.  Really, people, stop lining Cook’s pockets.

*  Kelly O’Connor took some fabulous photos at the Boston Baseball Writer’s dinner AND the New Stars for Young Stars event.  Go see her amazing photos here.

Finally, by popular demand:  (This is from last year, not this year’s show, but it serves its purpose!)

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Boston Sports Media, Housekeeping, Players, Randomness | , , , , , , | 9 Comments