Jed Lowrie and the Sudden Chance to Shine

What is the first thing that you think of when Jed Lowrie’s name is brought up? ::crickets:: Is he a guy who has battled injuries and still yet to blossom or is Lowrie a guy that will turn out to be a first-round bust? Most Red Sox fans I talk to about Lowrie shrug him […]

The intangible benefit of Pedroia

The Sox lineup, as always, is a meat grinder. They have four players in the top 20 in the American League in pitches seen per plate appearance (P/PA) and Pedroia ranks seventh at 4.27 (behind Youkilis who is fourth at 4.36) through 217 plate appearances (Victor Martinez is 11th at 4.12, J.D. Drew 13th at 4.11 while Marco Scutaro is 33rd at 3.92). Pedroia is also second in the league in total plate appearances at 217, behind only Denard Span of the Twins at 218, and leads the league in total pitches seen. Factoring in the entire majors, Youkilis ranks ninth and Pedroia 19th in P/PA.

Sitting in the No. 2 hole in the Sox lineup, Pedroia pesky plate appearances have a ripple down effect. Take for instance last Thursday when Boston beat Minnesota 6-2 on the strength of Jon Lester’s nine-strikeout complete game. Pedroia was 0-3 with a walk and a run against the Twins and Francisco Liriano and was instrumental in knocking Minnesota’s wily lefty out of the game after 4.2 innings with five earned runs on five hits and three walks. Pedroia was in the midst of a 4 for 39 slump at the time that spanned from May 12 to 23 before putting up three hits against the Rays on Monday.

David Ortiz: To Pinch Hit or Not To Pinch Hit?

After Sunday’s win – on a day after a thrilling come from behind opening night, a day on which Josh Beckett signed a contract which gives the Red Sox baseball’s best rotation through 2014, and a day during which we were all recovering from Neil Diamond jumping the shark – all anyone on WEEI could talk about was David Ortiz.

As I sit down to write this column, Ortiz has just popped out to center with Kevin Youkilis on second base, in the eighth inning of a 5-4, Yankee-led ballgame. It’s the second game of the season, and the second time Ortiz has come up against a lefty in a key situation. With Mike Lowell on the bench, it’s worth exploring the question of whether to pinch hit for Ortiz or to let him settle in and see what happens.

And the Season Begins…

MLB Florida Marlins vs Boston Red Sox

And the season begins…

There’s no doubt the bureaucrats “got it right” on this one – pairing the league’s biggest rivals in the 2010 MLB opener. All signs point to a classic, fit with a marquee pitching matchup, palpable hatred on both sides, and the two best teams from the past decade kicking off the new one.

Josh Beckett takes the hill against C.C. Sabathia as the two AL East juggernaughts begin their annual battle for divisional supremacy. Get to your TV at 8:00 pm sharp – or 6 pm if you’re like me in the Mountain Time Zone – and prepare to watch baseball at its finest.

Keys of the Game

Starting Pitcher

Coming off a strong spring, striking out 22 in 19.1 innings while walking just 5, Beckett certainly has the edge over Sabathia, who has looked sluggish in 18.2 IP thus far (15 K, 8 BB). Though spring stats are rarely an indication of long-term success, they are a good indicator of a hurler’s readiness at the season’s onset. If C.C. continues to struggle with his command, he could be in for a long night. Expect Beckett to be sharp as the team gets off to an early lead in the first few innings.

The Turning Point, The Injury Front, and Sleep Tremors

Yankees-Red Sox

The Turning Point

There’s no better way to enter the playoffs than on a hot streak, unless, of course, your opponent is reeling in defeat.

The ninth inning of last night’s game must have put a real damper on the spirit in the Los Angeles clubhouse. After reclaiming their lead in the ninth against the unhittable, untouchable Daniel Bard, the Sox were able to steal the victory away when closer Brian Fuentes unraveled with one out to go.

As David Ortiz walked to the plate in the ninth against a left-handed Fuentes, hearts were simultaneously dropping all over New England. Two outs, down one, no one on, and Ortiz hasn’t been able to touch lefties since 1945. The game was all but over…

Projecting the Playoffs, The Case for Kotchman

MLB: Angels v Rangers September 26, 2007

With just 20 games left and a 4 1/2 game lead in the Wild Card, what exactly are the chances for our beloved Sox to play in October? Baseball Prospectus seems to think they’re pretty high, but Texas has life yet.

And who, exactly, is the Red Sox’ most unappreciated player. Surely, it couldn’t be Casey Kotchman. Though he doesn’t always see the field, he provides stability at a key position on the diamond, while simultaneously solidifying the team’s outlook at … catcher?

Projecting the Playoffs

With just 20 games remaining in the regular season, the Sox’ Hunt for Red October is getting stronger by the day. At this juncture, with this team, a 4 ½ game lead in the Wild Card is a considerable advantage. Don’t get cozy though, as one hot or cold stretch can completely change the complexion of this race. Still, it’s looking pretty good for the Sox, as Baseball Prospectus gives the Red Sox…

Go Early, Go Often: Fire Brand’s Best of April

Tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays marks the final game of the first calendar month of the season; and what an April it was. From the panic that set in BWNNH (Before Wake’s Near No Hitter) after a 2-6 start, to the exhilaration of winning 12 out of 13 including a le-gen *wait for it* DARY sweep of the New York Yankees AB (Anno Bay – In the Year of Our Bay), April has been all Red Sox fans could ask for.

Who would have thought after the first week of the season that April would end with the Red Sox atop the American League with the league’s best winning percentage?

Today we look at the best performances of April, culminating in the Fire Brand Player of the Month award.

The good, the bad, and the Tek

Early season series against top flight division rivals are always difficult to measure. It’s been said time and time again that the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees are likely to play themselves all around .500 against each other by the time this season shakes out and the team that outperforms against the rest of their schedule has the upper hand in the race for the division. That said, it’s never easy to swallow being beaten in your own house by a team you’ll be battling with all season long.

Given that it was the first three games of the season, a whopping 1.9% of the full slate of regular season games, it’s difficult to draw any firm conclusions without being beaten over the head with comments about sample size. But as it is the regular season and no longer the fruitless analysis of in game Spring Training analysis, it is fair to point out a few things that were both good and bad omens, directionally speaking.

Red Sox Madness Final Four: Ellsbury vs. Pedroia

After two grueling rounds of match ups, we now know the Final Four contestants in the first annual Red Sox Madness tournament. In a late run, (primarily thanks to Paul and I’s get out the vote campaign for Jon Lester in last night’s podcast), Jon Lester eeked out the closest battle of the tourney yet over Kevin Youkilis 45-42. Lester will battle fellow #1 seed and starting pitcher Josh Beckett in the second of our Final Four matchups.

The top half of the draw pits the top two hitters in the Red Sox lineup. Which tablesetter’s success means more to the Red Sox chances in 2009? Is it the upstart #3 seed Jacoby Ellsbury or the reigning AL MVP and #1 seed Dustin Pedroia?

Remember, the simple question is “who’s success is more important to the overall success of the Boston Red Sox in 2009?” Vote away after the jump!

Red Sox Madness: Lester vs Youkilis

In preparation for the best two weeks in sports, starting with the Final Four, running through the Masters with a little thing called Opening Day sandwiched in the middle, we idly pass the time with our Red Sox Madness tournament. As expected, Josh Beckett joined the upstart Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia in the Final Four. Today the final region battles to join them.

In what is expected to be the most heated battle of the second round, #2 seed Kevin Youkilis battles #1 seed Jon Lester for the right to meet Beckett with a trip to the finals on the line.

Remember, the simple question is “who’s success is more important to the overall success of the Boston Red Sox in 2009?” Vote away after the jump!