Monday, April 28, 2014


I have moved the posts on this site to  Please update your bookmarks and follow me over there.

If you're looking for Red Sox tickets, click here. You can find any event tickets you want at the Authority.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Opening Day... and more

Very quick update. Was at Fenway for Opening Day. It was predictably awesome. Other than the rings, banner etc, a few unexpected surprises: Was interviewed for WBZ radio in Boston, and got my picture taken with Boston iconic Police Officer Steven Horgan:

Took hundreds of pictures, you can see some of the best ones on Flickr here.

Today is the first Red Sox Nation watch party of the year. Come join us at Schank's South on MacLeod Trail. All baseball fans welcome, we should be easy to spot.  Starts at 11 AM, details here.

If you're looking for Red Sox tickets, click here. You can find any event tickets you want at the Authority.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

2014 MLB Predictions

I'll never learn. Every year I subject myself to the punishment of putting predictions in writing that inevitably look awful in retrospect. Although not as bad as certain professional sports writers who against all odds manage to predict their own division exactly backwards. I can't give this picture enough love:
Screenshot courtesy of SOSHer BannedByNYYFans

At least you gotta give CHB credit for making predictions knowing how much ridicule he is exposing himself to.

Anyhow, I'm going to try something a bit different this year. Instead of specific records or division standings, I will aim to make one radical projection for each team and division. I don't expect to get too many of them right, but at least this maybe entertaining.

Let's start with our favourite division:

AL East:
"Best division in baseball" won't have any wildcard teams, although every team that doesn't have a maple leaf on their logo will have a reasonable shot at winning the division.

Boston - I don't want to be called superstitious, but I predicted 86 wins last year and the season ended with duckboats. So, I'll keep this simple and predict 86 again. (And hope I'm wrong again!).  I have more Red Sox predictions here.
Tampa Bay - Their pitching staff will disappoint, keeping them from going over the 90 win mark - could even drop all the way to 4th place.
Toronto - After a disappointing 2013 with such high expectations, they will disappoint even more in 2014. Canadian GM Alex Anthopolous is smart enough to see that and Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will have a new place to call home by the time the dog days of summer roll around. I bet they wish they still had Henderson Alvarez.
New York - Injuries and age will finally catch up with them and they'll struggle to reach .500 (I feel like I've made this prediction for about the past 10 seasons. EVENTUALLY it will have to be right, no?). Some controversy over whether to keep starting Jeter when he's hurting the team by being on the field, will be alleviated by it not mattering once they drop out of the race.

AL Central:
There will be a pennant race into late September. Tigers will not be assured of a playoff spot.

Chicago - White Sox will not be the worst team in Chicago this season. Not a bold prediction? The Cubs won more games than them last year.
Cleveland - Jason Kipnis will firmly entrench himself in the "Who's the best 2nd baseman in the league" argument, but that won't be enough for the Indians to go from making the playoffs to not winning more than 81 games. It's called "regression to mean".  Sorry, Tito.
Detroit - Will struggle to win 90. Biggest disappointment outside of Georgia.
Kansas City - PLAYOFFS! Maybe even a division title.
Minnesota  - The Yankees will be wishing they still had Phil Hughes, and the the Twins will battle Cleveland for 3rd place and maybe even break the .500 mark.

AL West
Injuries to key Rangers and A's players will keep this division from being as strong as it was the last few seasons. But the rest of the division will still be looking up at these two.

Houston - Won't be the worst team in the league the 2nd half. 70 wins within reach.
Los Angeles - 4th place.
Oakland - Hard to believe this they are back-to-back reigning division champions. Won't 3-peat, but may get the 2nd wildcard spot.
Seattle - Improve to close to .500 but not in any playoff contention. For a change, they have the bats but not the arms.  Until a July trade to acquire David Price from Tampa.
Texas - Prince Fielder is going to love the Texas Heat. In spite of all the injuries they've suffered before the season even started, they will win the division for only the 3rd time this century. (Note: the other two times they made it to the Fall Classic).

NL East
Washington will run away with this division with very little competition.

Atlanta - Sorry peach state, no playoffs for you.
Miami - Will battle Atlanta for a meaningless 2nd place in this division. Jose Fernandez will end up ahead of Clayton Kershaw in Cy Young balloting.
New York - This team could win 90 games! Said Sandy Alderson, not me. They do have a really good future. But the future won't arrive in 2014 as they will finish in last place.
Philadelphia - They will make a smart trade at some point in the season. When Ruben Amaro Jr. is your GM this is as bold a prediction as it gets.
Washington - Only 100 win team in majors.  21 year old (yeah, really) Bryce Harper is named MVP, Strasburg could take the Cy.

NL Central
Cincinnati and Milwaukee will remind St. Louis that there are still some competitive teams in this division. But Pittsburgh won't be one of them.

Chicago - Jeff Samardzija will be very good. "This is the year!" would be a really bold thing for me to say. I won't. Last place. Again. Not really going out on a limb here.
Cincinnati - With Dusty Baker gone, they will win more playoff games this year than they have in total since winning the World Series in 1990 (Five in 23 years, if you're wondering). Billy Hamilton may have a sub .300 OBP but his speed will allow him to be a key offensive contributor in spite of that.
Milwaukee - Along with Miami, among most improved teams in baseball. Will contend for a wildcard spot.
Pittsburgh - Will miss playoffs.  See Indians, Cleveland.
St. Louis - By the end of the season, neither Adam Wainwright nor Michael Wacha will be this team's ace.

NL West
Three team race with the Dodgers needing to hold off Arizona and San Francisco to repeat. Colorado will open some eyes early before eventually fading.

Arizona - Will be in pennant race through late September. A good offense was improved with the addition of Mark Trumbo, and bullpen was bolstered by removing Heath Bell.
Colorado - Canadian Justin Morneau will like the thin Denver air. 30 home runs within reach. This team will be competitive, but not enough to contend in this division.
Los Angeles - Remember all the drama with the Yankees in the late 70s played out in the press? There will be lots of entertainment for non-Dodger fans this year. Someone will be run out of town.
San Diego - Last place, Bud Black will be unemployed.
San Francisco - A good old Giants/Dodgers rivalry will be rekindled. Giants will contend for a playoff spot, may even overtake LA if they stumble.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Canadian Red Sox News

(USA Today Sports)
The only Canadian that was on our roster, Ryan Dempster, recently announced he was taking the season off. Of course, he did that in the two days between when I wrote a piece previewing the Sox and when it was published so there was the awkward mention on my post about hoping they don't trade him away....

Anyways,  who will be the next Canadian to play home games at Fenway Park?  We have a lack of first base prospects, so maybe the Reds will look for some salary relief in a few years and we'll get Joey Votto? Probably just wishful thinking.  We have lots of catching depth in the minors, but if there's a major injury to AJP or Ross, we may need a shorterm gap.  Would a return by George Kottaras be possible?  What about backup infielders? We need someone who can play 2B if Pedroia is out for a while.  Pete Orr could be available.  (Side note: A friend once asked me if I knew why Orr wore uniform #4. I had no idea. I was given a hint that it involved a Boston athlete. Since he played some third base, I figured maybe he was a Butch Hobson fan growing up? Apparently he shares a last name with some other dude who became famous in Boston wearing #4. Who knew?).   None of the above sound too likely.

Down on the farm we have Vancouver's Keaton Briscoe, who played mainly third base at Greenville last season. I believe he is the only Canadian (player) in the organization at the moment. He was signed by Canadian Red Sox scout Chris Pritchett after the 2012 June draft.

So, who do YOU think will be the next Canadian on the Red Sox roster?  Leave your guesses in the comments below.

More local news, Calgary's own lieutenant-governor of Red Sox Nation, Marc David, is hosting another RSN Watch Party.   It's on Saturday April 12th when we take on the Yankees.  With the Melrose Red Mile shutting down, it's been moved to a new venue, Schank's South on MacLeod.  All the details on the watch parties page.

And finally, yours truly, will be back at Fenway Park for Opening Day. If you're there look for me, if you're watching from the comfort of your living room, let me know if you see me on your screen. I'll be the guy wearing a Red Sox jersey and a hat with a big red B on it. Should be easy to spot (!).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Playing Pepper 2014 Red Sox

Yes, these are salt and pepper shakers
As mentioned previously, the Cardinals blog C70 at the bat at Cards Conclave hosts an annual series where bloggers from each team answer some specific questions in previewing their team's seasons.

As in previous years, other Baseball Bloggers Alliance members also participated Including fellow Canadian Red Sox fan and blogger Allan at The Joy of Sox, Christine from Boston Red Thoughts,  John at The Mighty Quinn Media Machine, Michael at The Pesky Pole, Bryan at Replacement Level Baseball Blog, Dave at Sox vs. Stripes and Dan at Talkin’ Sox With Dan.  To see how these Red Sox bloggers answered these questions, take a look at the Red Sox "Playing Pepper" page at C70 at the bat.

Below are the questions with the answers that I provided. As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts:

1) How would you grade the offseason?
As returning World Series Champions, Boston could afford to deal from a position of strength, and I'm glad the Sox took an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" approach. Which actually sounds strange, since we will have new players up the middle at catcher, shortstop and centerfield on opening day. Behind the plate we've replaced Salty with AJ Pierzynski. I'm not a big fan of his, but we still have David Ross as a capable backup and Ryan Lavarnway may be a decent option as a fill in if something happens. If he's not, we have Dan Butler and Christian Vazquez waiting in the wings. I'll call it a wash. The big offseason loss was Jacoby Ellsbury. Although we will miss his speed at the top of the lineup, I'm very excited about seeing what Jackie Bradley Jr. (JBJ) can do as the everyday centerfielder. I suspect this will be a net loss in the short term, but have little doubt that Boston will get more performance with the $153 million they saved by not resigning Ells than they would with him. At shortstop, Xander Bogaerts (X) is slated to start in place of Stephen Drew. As much as I love superior defense from the middle of the infield, Bogaert's bat will more than offset that. Mike Napoli's hip is still a ticking time-bomb and we did nothing to address first base (other than resign him), but Mike Carp showed he is more than capable to step in if necessary. Our starting rotation returns intact, and we've added some bullpen arms in Edward Mujica and Burke Badenhop. Never a bad idea to stockpile arms. With the caveat that there is still time to make some more changes, as long as they don't make any stupid moves (e.g., signing Drew long term, displacing either X or Middlebrooks; giving Dempster away from free because of the starter's logjam), I'm giving them an A- for this offseason.

2) Will the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury be significant?
No. Yes, you won't replace his 6 wins (bWAR) overnight, but barring injury, our outfield defense is set and has lots of depth. JBJ will be starting in CF; Victorino can play there if necessary, and Grady Sizemore is a long shot, but may become a viable option if he returns to form. This team should have learned last year that it's better to have several good players, than a couple of superstars surrounded by average players. The Red Sox have lots of good players and enough depth in the outfield to absorb the loss of Ells to the always and still hated Yankees.

3) Which roster battle will be the most intriguing during spring training?
Barring injury, I don't think there are any real battles. I hope the Red Sox don't use exhibition game stats to determine starters. I'm fairly confident Dustin Pedroia could go hitless in March and still be the opening day second baseman.  That said, if Middlebrooks takes a step backwards, and Garin Cecchini shows he's ready for The Show, there could be some controversy at the hot corner. But ultimately I suspect this will be more media and/or fan fueled than an actual front office plan, and Middlebrooks will be the opening day starter regardless.

4) What rookie, if any, will make the most impact on the team?
Despite JBJ being our opening day centerfielder last year and playing everyday for the first couple of weeks until David Ortiz came off the DL, and then getting called up a couple more times, before coming up for good in September, I was surprised to see he is still rookie eligible. So are Brandon Workman, Allan Webster and Drake Britton who could all be a big part of this year's arms in Boston.  But who am I kidding. Xander Bogaerts has a shot at being the Rookie of the Year, after already having been a big part of last year's postseason in Boston and his bat should have an immediate impact on the 2014 team.

5) What will be the final record of the team and where will they finish in the division? 
Last year I predicted 86-76 and a 3rd place finish, and we ended up World Champions. I'm not going to admit to being superstitious, but I don't want to upset the balance in the Universe, so I'll stick with the same prediction, and hope for the same incorrect result.

6) Which player from your team do you most enjoy watching?
There are so many likeable characters to choose from. It's easy to pick perennial favourites (Canadian spelling, eh?) such as Pedroia or Ortiz. And recent newcomers such as Gomes and Victorino seemed to become immediate fan darlings. Lester going from cancer survivor to team ace makes him a sentimental choice for many as well. And Koji’s crazy high five dugout celebrations are loved by all fans. And Daniel Nava? He goes from being cut by his college team to hitting a grand slam on the first pitch he sees in the majors.  But ever since I saw him play in Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League, as a teammate to the much more heralded Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, I’ve been a big fan of Will Middlebrooks. After some struggles last year, I look forward to watching him bounce back and show some gold glove caliber defense and become a legitimate power threat with 30+ home runs.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Playing Pepper Preview 2014 edition

(Craig Wieczorkiewicz / Midwest League Traveller)
Every year, Daniel Shoptaw, who runs a Cardinals blog at C70 at the Bat, and is the  President of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, does a project he calls Playing Pepper, where he gets other teams' bloggers to preview their team. Last year I participated and among my prophecies I correctly forecasted John Lackey's surprising good season, and said I was excited to see Xander Bogaerts debut, but I suspected it wouldn't be until September.  I was off by about 10 days. (Of course, I also foresaw a 3rd place finish, but even I'm not perfect).

This year I will be answering the following questions.

1) How would you grade the offseason?
2) Will the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury be significant?
3) Which roster battle will be the most intriguing during spring training?
4) What rookie, if any, will make the most impact on the team in 2014?
5) What will be the final record of the team and where will they finish in the division?
6) Which player from your team do you most enjoy watching?

Look for an updated post on or around Feb 20th with my musings on the above.
UPDATE: Post is here

Meanwhile keep checking at C70 at the Bat as other team's previews start being posted.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 Hall of Fame results

It's been said by thousands of baseball fans, thousands of times, thousands of different ways.

The Hall of Fame, and the voting process is broken!

Someone should listen to Bill James already.  Anyways, in spite of many deserving players being left out for various ludicrous reasons, the BBWAA did manage to elect three players who definitely belong in Cooperstown. Congratulations to Misters Maddux, Glavine and Thomas.  Although none of them played for the Red Sox, or were Canadian, I did have all of them on my final ballot.   Major complaint this year by fans everywhere is about who got left out, not which unworthy player got in. At least Morris is off the ballot.

Shop online for tickets to the Red Sox such as those hard-to-come-by Red Sox Yankees game tickets.