The Red Sox: Moving Forward Without Jason Bay

Earlier today, it was reported that former Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay signed a 4-year, 66 million with the New York Mets.¬† I guess Jason decided that the price for going to a doomed franchise/marginal team that won’t get passed the Phillies was worth $1.5 million per season.¬† Either way, the Red Sox are moving forward and it seems like they have been dead set on moving on in 2010 when contract talks were broken off around the all-star break last season.

To me, the Red Sox definitely have a team in place to make the playoffs, most likely with a wild card bid but they are missing another big bat in the middle of the line-up to make them a true contender.  Here is the defensive layout:

C- Martinez, Tek

1B- Youk, Kotchman

2B- Pedroia

SS- Scutaro, Lowrie

3B- Lowell

LF- Ellsbury

CF-Cameron

RF- Drew

OF- Hermida, Reddick

DH- Ortiz

The only real debatable portion of this is how Ellsbury and Cameron will factor into the outfield.  With Cameron being a better defensive fielder than Ellsbury (no fault of Ellsbury) and with Cameron only playing in 3 of his 1,856 total games in left field, I gave the center field nod to Cameron.  With that said, here comes the line-up I believe will be the best fit for next season.

1-Ellsbury

2-Pedroia

3-Martinez

4-Youk

5-Ortiz

6-Lowell

7-Drew

8-Cameron

9-Scutaro

I highly debated throwing in Scutaro in the leadoff spot because of his OBP last season (.379) but, I still didn’t feel like it was justified.¬† It touts the lefty-righty rotation that Terry Francona loves (until 8 and 9).¬† I absolutely love having a bat like Scutaro in the 9th slot.¬† With Scutaro and Cameron in the final two slots it will take the pressure off of Ellsbury and Pedroia to get things started for the “Giant part of the line-up.”

So, that is the general outlook of the 2010 Boston Red Sox.¬† It’s nothing too alarming as you are really only replacing Bay with Cameron and Gonzalez with Scutaro.¬† I really think this team needs an Adrian Gonzalez or Matt Holiday (or both!) to compete for a title.¬† It truly is a conceivable concept to bring in both because Gonzalez has a cheap contract, the Red Sox have the assets in place to make that kind of trade, and the Red Sox brain trust definitely has the money to sign Matt Holiday to patrol underneath the Monster seats.¬† It’s just a question of the guys who sign the checks wanting to spend it or not.

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My Top 10 of the Decade

With everyone and their mother coming out with decade lists, I figured I would chime in with my top 10 of the past 10 years.  And what a decade it was for the Boston sports fan.  2000-2009 saw 6 championships, 3 from the Pats, 2 from the Sox, and 1 from the Celtics.  Here are the top 10 events I will always remember from the past 10 years.

10) As most of my friends know, I am a die-hard Texas Longhorns fan. 2006 saw the Horns take down Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and the rest of the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl to win the national championship.  Vince Young was flat-out bestial in running for 200 yards and passing for 267 more. My bias aside, it might have been the most exciting college football game of all time.

9) In December of 2000, Dan Duquette inked Manny Ramirez to an 8 year $160 deal.  Ramirez was a stud and helped the Sox bring 2 titles to Boston.  He is arguably the best pure hitter of this generation.  Ufortunately things soured with Ramirez in the last year of his contract and he was shipped out to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline of the 2008 season.

8) Game three of the 2002 NBA Eastern Conference finals was all but over going into the fourth quarter with the Nets on top of the Celtics by 21. Then Paul Pierce inserted his will upon the game and erupted for 19 points in the fourth quarter and led one of the greatest comebacks in Celtics history. A comeback or epic collapse is debatable, however it was one of the most exciting things I witnessed in the NBA.

7) February of 2005 saw the New England Patriots win back to back Super Bowls.¬† They took down¬†Terrell Owens and the ¬†Philadelphia Eagles 24-21. The Pats picked off Donovan McNabb 3 times and thus cemented themselves as the NFL dynasty of the 2000’s.

6) Thanksgiving of 2003 was a time for Red Sox to be especially thankful.¬† We just didn’t know it yet.¬† Theo Epstein sat down with Curt and Shonda Schilling for Thanksgiving dinner and convinced him to waive his no trade clause and come to Boston.¬† Schilling promptly announced he was coming to Boston to win a World Series and beat up on the Yankees.¬† Many had an attitude “we’ve heard this before and good luck pal.” But Schilling kept true to his word and through a bloody sock and all brought Boston its first World Series title since 1918.

5)¬† The 2001-2002 AFC Divisional playoff game will forever be remembered as the “Tuck Rule” game.¬† Tom Brady was sacked and fumbled the ball to the Raiders, game over.¬† But with the magic of instant replay and a little known rule the Pats were catlike utilizing their nine lives. While many will remember this game for that reason, I will forever remember it because of Adam Vinateri’s game tying field goal in the driving snow and wind from 46 yards out.¬† The degree of difficulty of that kick was outrageous let alone the pressure.¬† He would later kick a much easier 23 yard field goal into overtime to win the game and sending Lonnie Paxton into the end zone celebrating via the snow angel.

4) 2008 was a dream matchup for the NBA Finals featuring the new look revamped Boston Celtics against Kobe Bryant and his LA Lakers.¬† In game 4 the Celtics were down by 24 points on the road. While the trio of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce garnered all the headlines, it was Eddie House and James Posey¬†who were huge in the come from behind win that pretty much buried the Lakers. Ray Allen made Sasha Vujacic¬†look pretty silly as he crossed him over and hit the game winner with less than a minute left.¬† While this was the most important moment of the series, Mike Breen’s call in Game 2 while the Celtics blew out the Lakers¬†will always play in my head.¬† “And the Celtics are flat-out¬†EMBARASSING¬†the Lakers!”

3) Danny Ainge finally brought in some help for Paul Pierce in the summer of 2008.  What a supporting cast it was! The ping-pong balls went the wrong way for the Celtics in 2008 and they ended up with the 5th pick in the draft. This was a blessing in disguise.  Ainge traded the 5th pick in the draft, Wally Sczerbiak and Delonte West for Ray Allen on draft night. Later on that summer Ainge turned and traded with Celtic great Kevin McHale.  The Celts picked up Kevin Garnett in exchange for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, and Gerald Green.  This paid immediate dividends as the Celtics won their 17th banner that season.  Since the trade the Celts have flirted with 70 wins each season.

2) The most heart stopping event of the past decade came from the legs of Dave Roberts in 2004.  After Kevin Millar worked a 4 pitch walk off of Mariano Rivera in the 8th inning Game 4 of the ALCS, Terry Francona summoned Roberts to pinch run. After 4000 throws over to first, Roberts took off and swiped second base. He was then knocked in by Bill Mueller and the Dead Sox became very much alive and pulled the greatest comeback in sports history coming back from 3 games down to beat the Yankees and move on to the World Series where they would handily beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 4 games.

1) The New England area had a period of time where they were¬†pure dominant in sports. The Patriots won 3 Super Bowls defining themselves as a dynasty. The Red Sox erased 86 years of misery with not one World Series win but two. The Celtics picked up some hardware as well.¬† The names Brady, Pierce, and Schilling will forever be remembered as Boston heroes. Boston sports fans were absolutely spoiled and most of us just haven’t realized yet.¬† Actually we come to expect these kind of things from our teams.¬† And why shouldn’t we?¬† Boston is far and away the greatest sports city in the nation.

Random Thoughts

Every once and a while I have all kinds of random thoughts that pop through my head.  These little thoughts are nothing I can really make a full post about but with all the thoughts through the week I can make a post out of them.  Here are 10 thoughts that occurred to me over the past week.

*Tiger Woods has gone through hell and back the past two weeks because of his extra marital affairs.¬† Why hasn’t Tom Brady received not even the slightest bit of criticism in fathering 2 children with 2 different women?

*In checking my calendar, I realized it was mid-December.¬† That can only mean one thing.¬† Brett Favre’s annual choke job is underway.

*The Yankees have acquired Javier Vazquez¬†for Melky¬†Cabrera and prospects. Haven’t the Yankees been down the Vazquez road before and didn’t it turn out less than favorable for them?

*Who is this imposter on the Celtics wearing number 42? And what has he done with Tony Allen? Wait. This is very much a good thing. Lets hope it stays that way.

*Speaking of the Celtics, rumor has it KyptoNate¬†Robinson wants to come to the Celtics. Two trade possibilities: Marquis Daniels straight up or Bill Walker and JR Giddens. I don’t want to lose Marquis Daniels and I don’t think I am in favor of rescuing another player (malcontent) from the Knicks. (See Marbury, Stephon)

*Fans in this region are quick to criticize but are hesitant to give praise. There is a sick love for Tom Brady and people will never even sneeze in his general direction. But people have to be fair and say that the production of Lawrence Maroney has been huge this season for the Pats. With Brady playing banged up, he is not able to be Tom Terrific. Maroney will not rush for 100 yards consistently but he has vastly improved and shown flashes of being a hard-nosed runner.  Just what the Pats need to compliment the passing game.

*The Bruins¬†have been able to stay in playoff contention (around the 4 or 5 seed) without Milian¬†Lucic¬†or Marc Savard¬†the better part of the year.¬† That’s impressive. Tuuka¬†Raask¬†has a GAA of 1.97. Also very impressive for the rookie.

*I might be the only person to say it. But we have to be realistic and say that Mike Lowell is on the back nine. To be honest it was his fault for shunning Philadelphia to come to Boston for less money. Baseball is a business, just ask Bronson Arroyo. In baseball one has to be like Johnny Damon. Sign for big money, win a World Series and move to the next highest bidder.

* Predictions: The Texas Longhorns will win the national title is both basketball and football this year.

*RIP Chris Henry. It is truly an unfortunate set of circumstances for a man who looked to be on the cusp of finally turning his life around.  And kudos to Chad Ochocinco for putting his persona aside and not making the situation all about him by wearing number 15 last weekend.

Where’s the Defense?

Being a Providence College basketball fan has not been easy over the last decade or so.  Since their run to the elite eight in 1997, led by Austin Croshere, God Shammgod and company they have been a mediocre program.  As a fan, I have high unreachable expectations for a small school team in the premier conference in college basketball.  Up until 2 years ago the problem was Tim Welsh. I will say nothing further about him because my blood pressure will skyrocket in nanoseconds.

Last season was the first in Providence for Keno Davis, fresh off a 28-5 season with mid major Drake.  There was much excitement amongst the PC faithful because Welsh was gone and there was fresh blood coming in.  Davis was blessed with a senior class featuring Weyinmi Efejuku, Geoff McDermott, and Jonathan Kale. He also walked into having an experienced point guard in Sharaud Curry who had to redshirt the year prior to Keno coming to town.

The Friars had 19 wins last season, most in recent memory for the school.  However, in reality they easily could have won 4 more games off the top of my head. That season the team seemingly could not put 2 halves together all season.  They would either sprint out to a 15 point first half lead or find themselves fighting back from that same 15 point deficit late in the second half. While they have no doubt been a fun and exciting team to watch, the argument can be made that they are equally frustrating.

Keno¬†Davis’ second season has proven to be no different from¬†his first in terms of results. The head coach brought in an exciting freshman class in Vincent Council, Duke Mondy, and Johnnie Lacy. They are led by fifth year senior Sharaud¬†Curry and junior Marshon Brooks. The team is long on offense but could not be paid to play defense. (No NCAA pun intended.)

Keno¬†is from the Mike D’antoni¬†school of basketball. He of the 7 second shot clock, jacking threes, and playing no semblance of defense. It is the belief that the offense is the best defense that makes me sick. What makes me even more angry is that Keno¬†believes throwing up 110 points against George Washington will be a recruiting tool that recruits will love.¬† News flash to Keno, recruits want to go to a program that wins.¬† Mike D’antoni’s¬†philosophy has never helped the coach do anything in the NBA and Davis is proving that to be true in the NCAA.

Syracuse came into this season unranked and because of their harassing 2-3 zone defense they have beaten North Carolina, Florida, and California. These teams were all ranked high than the Orange. Not anymore. 

Until Keno realizes that defense is a must in basketball, the Providence Friars will maintain what has been true about them for years.  They are exciting albeit frustrating to watch and they will be headed to the NIT year after year.

The Argument for Jacoby and Clay

Yesterday morning news broke all over the internet that the Boston Red Sox were “working hard” on acquiring 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres.¬† With this news, I promptly went through a¬†plethora of emotions.¬† I understand the need for a “big bat” in the lineup with the loss of Jason Bay as well as Mike Lowell.¬† Who will replace those 50 homeruns and 200 RBI’s?¬† In order to get something of value you have to give up value.

Gonzalez the number one overall pick in the 2000 draft, hit .277 with 40 home runs and 99 RBI’s playing at pitcher friendly Petco Park.¬† He is no doubt a stud and a cheap one at that.¬† He is currently under contract through 2012 making at the most 6 million a year.¬† Throw him in Fenway Park surrounded by Pedroia, Youk, and VMart and one can imagine that statline he can throw up.

Unfortunately, in order to acquire him the Sox would have to trade an arm, a leg, and numerous other assets.  With the Red Sox signing Mike Cameron and John Lackey earlier this week the Sox have the flexibility to  move fan favorites Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz.  GM Theo Epstein has deemed young stud Casey Kelly untouchable.  The more I think of this potential move the more I become very uneasy.  I am not a fan of trading proven players.  And to me Jacoby certainly proved himself all of last season as one of the most exciting players in baseball and Clay came on huge down the stretch.

Jacoby upped his batting average from a .280 rookie campaign to .301 last seaso, stole 20 more bases, and his on base percentage rose 20 points as well.  Saying he has game changing speed is a vast understatement.  With he and Mike Cameron in the outfield there is virtually no way balls will be dropping in for cheap hits.  If Ellsbury is traded I have to wonder who will set the table for the Sox? Marco Scutaro? Please.

Buchholz was fantastic down the stretch last season.¬† He did finish at 7-4 with an ERA above 4.¬† However those stats don’t tell his story.¬† After dominating at the triple A level, Clay came up and featuring a knee buckling curveball mixed with a magnificent changeup.¬† From August on he went toe to toe with baseball’s best in Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, and Matt Garza, not losing to any of them.¬† The idea of a rotation in which Buchholz is the 5 starter behind Lester, Beckett, Lackey and Dice-K has me craving October 2010.¬† This team is near unbeatable in a series.

I am a proponent of trading uncertain prospects.¬† The Red Sox gave up Brian Rose, Carl Pavano, and Tony Armas Jr. for a man named Pedro. At the time these were three premier prospects in the game.¬† How did that work out for all parties involved?¬† In November of 2003 the Sox traded Jorge De La Rosa, Casey Fossum, and Brandon Lyon for Curt Schilling. This promptly led to the first Red Sox World Series win in 86 years.¬† Sure the Red Sox lost Hanley Ramirez but they did get Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. This is one time in recent history that prospects panned out.¬† My point is it does not happen often. Kevin Garnett was brought to town with the same principle with the Celtics only really losing Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes.¬† Gerald Green mind as well be working at McDonald’s right now. The Pats brought in Randy Moss for a 4th round draft pick.¬†

Given the choice I am more inclined to give up Casey Kelly, Ryan Westmoreland, Junichi Tazawa, and Lars Anderson for the likes of an Adrian Gonzalez. With that I can live with a lineup that looks a little something like this.

CF Jacoby Ellsbury, 2B Dustin Pedroia, C Victor Martinez, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 3B Kevin Youkillis, DH David Ortiz, LF Mike Cameron, RF JD Drew, and SS Marco Scutaro.

A rotation of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Clay Buchholz. With Bard setting up Papelbon at the end of the game.

Yes, yes I like that very much.  Keep Jacoby and Clay in Boston!

The Life of a Fan

Anyone with half a pulse has a  passion for something in this world. I am deeply passionate about sports, Boston sports to be more specific.  I invest a fair amount of my time following the Red Sox, Celtics, and Patriots.  I am currently working on a passion for the Bruins as well.  It is fair to say that I live and die with every pitch, dribble, and snap count.

I am also an opinionated individual.  Many will argue that I might even be a bit stubborn in my beliefs, a point that I find debatable. I thoroughly enjoy talking sports with friends and family.  I also enjoy writing.  It is with these facts that my friends and I decided to start this blog.  Like me, they are devout Boston fans.  They too, have wept both in sadness and in glory because of the experience that is being a Boston sports fan.

I am of the opinion we would be doing ourselves and others a great disservice if we did not share our thoughts and ramblings with anyone would pay attention.  It is with this knowledge that I formally introduce you to Not the Common Fan.

Enjoy.

SP15

Sox Sign Pair

Earlier today the Boston Red Sox signed both John Lackey and Mike Cameron to multi-year contracts further adding to the puzzle of the 2010 team.  Below are the two deals that finally became official this afternoon.

Mike Cameron, 2-years $15.5 Million:¬† This is a fence deal for me as I can not figure out where I sit.¬† I am more leaning toward the¬† negative side of things because I do not think that bringing in a 37 year old veteran who has a career batting average of .250, exactly what he hit last season in Milwaukee, is an essential asset to improve this team.¬† Granted, Mike Cameron is coming off of his best defensive season and has Gold Glove potential each season but, I’m still not sure the juice is worth the squeeze here.¬† Will Cameron’s defensive prowess be enough to make up for a lack of offense?¬† Not likely. The big question remains as to where Cameron will play (the majority of his career has been played in center field) with Jacoby Ellsbury in center already and an opening in left field there are certainly decisions that need to be made by Tito and the gang.

John Lackey, 5-years $82.5 Million: I am definitely on board this train.¬† John Lackey adds to an already solid rotation which features three high end talents that could sweep many 3-game series on a regular basis in Beckett, Lackey, and Lester.¬† With these three guys healthy it would be almost impossible to lose a playoff series.¬† Lackey has had a somewhat shaky career at Fenway but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest because it’s a lot different pitching against the Fenway faithful than it is with them rooting for you.¬† Lackey went 11-8 last season with a 3.83 ERA and has a career 3.81 ERA.¬† Lackey’s postseason ERA is 3.12, basically saying this guy is a gamer and someone who could easily thrive at the Fens which carries a playoff atmosphere for 95% of the regular season.

More Sox talk tomorrow…