Boston Red Sox

Seeing Red

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Seeing Red

By Michael Felger

Whats next, the Red Sox forming a partnership with Peyton Manning?

What, A-Rod wasnt available?

Hey, Felger! This is wonderful. I couldn't be happier with the start of the "best team ever." Maybe some of those yahoos will finally shut up and logically, not hysterically, assess the Red Sox. I mean really, besides Gonzo their talent is no better than last year. Maybe worse. They picked up Crawford, who I believe will be a total bust. He will press big time and will never be able to handle it when the Red Sox Nation turns on him. And they will. Solid baseball teams are built up the middle. The best team ever should have a stud catcher, a stud shortstop and a stud center fielder. Saltalamacchia, Scutaro, Ellsbury. Doesn't strike fear in my heart. Pitching. Lester, he'll be good. Buchholz, I think he'll be good. Lackey, stiff. Beckett, bigger stiff. I honestly think Dice K might have the best year of them all. Bullpen? Yeah, right. I don't see Mo Rivera walking out of there. They lost two pretty good offensive players in Beltre and Martinez. I'm not so sure Gonzo and Crawford will even match their production. My prediction is a long, disappointing year for Pink Hat Nation. And management. Love it!SteveChester, NH

Red Sox backlash, anyone? I guess this is what happens when you sell membership cards to become a fan, endlessly promote Sox-themed dating and quiz shows during your broadcasts, over-sell Truck Day, cater to people who more interested in Sweet Caroline than the sport, make sure that 95 percent of the media that covers you is in the bag, subject your fans who do care to Jim Rice after games, and, last but not least, go into business with one of the most hated athletes in New England (LeBron). Did I miss anything?

Hey, FelgerWith all these lineup scenarios, having Ellsbury and Crawford 1-2 is ideal. No. 3 Gonzalez, No. 4 Youk, No. 5 Ortiz, No. 6 Pedroia and No. 7 Drew. I know it screws with his left\right thing, but that's the reality of having a left-handed heavy lineup. What is your best batting order? I'm curious.KenWhitman

1. Ellsbury. 2. Pedroia. 3. Gonzalez. 4. Youkilis. 5. Crawford. 6. Ortiz. 7. DrewCameron. 8. Saltalamacchia. 9. Scutaro.

All I know is that Pedroia is a perfect No. 2, Gonzalez is a prototypical No. 3 and Youkilis is most comfortable bating cleanup. Build everything else around that.

Hey, FelgerIf we only could get J.D. Drew into the game. When he connects, his body should be used for the MLB version of Jerry West, an instructional photo. This year let's try to PUMP-JD-UP instead of always pointing out his good 'ol boy persona.FaithWorcester

Youre right, Faith. I feel bad that weve been so hard on him. From now on, I wont point out plays like the ones from Tuesday, when he soft-footed it into home and was thrown out, and then later held up going after a ball in right field. From now on he gets nothing but support.

Felger,If Jethro misses his first three questions on the SATs, you might not panic because he has a lot more to go, but it's probably safe to say he's not going to the Ivy League. FrankBoston

Interesting analogy. So youre saying the Red Sox are headed to Northeastern?

Mike,Remember this one, "If the Celtics dont win, it wont be because they missed Perkins." Out of the group of Perkins, Kristic, Shaq and Jermaine ONeal, Perkins might be the healthiest -- and thats saying something. If they are using Big Baby and Kristic as centers come playoff time, I think we will need to get in the Delorean and rewrite Celtics media coverage history once again.How could Ainge know Shaq would get hurt again? Well, with J.D. Drew, dont we just assume 40 games off per year, so why would anyone have looked at the recent history and mileage on Shaq and Jermaine and stamped them injury resistant and playoff certified? Its a joke and Im still waiting for the punch line.Peace,JakeBoston

Keep it coming, Jake. And remember, Ainge has had lapses like this before. Ricky Davis. Rasheed. Stephan Marbury. He sometimes makes moves as if he were managing a fantasy team, with no thought with regard to the actual team. It really boils down to this: He traded Perkins because he was relying on Shaq. Im sorry, but thats just plain dumb.

Felger, You DB!So I took my daughter to the Bs game against the Rangers last month. We both left pretty disappointed as the Bs looked unprepared, lazy and unmotivated until it was too late to salvage the game. Basically, the hockey equivalent of a Charlie Sheen concert. But after Monday nights debacle I asked myself what would have been better: To go to a game where the team collectively looked like it had been roofied during the pregame skate and thrilled they decided to actually try for the last eight minutes of the third period, or getting your hopes up as the Bs were on the verge of blowing out the Rangers, only to be let down yet again as you witness yet another lackadaisical collapse? Im still torn.What I am not confused about is what this team is. If its the same team that fell to pieces last May, why are Bruins fans still shocked and awestruck when this still happens? So is it exactly the same team? No. Lucic has morphed into a Gary Roberts-type impact forward. Horton is absolutely an improvement. Marchand is not only more than what we expected him to be this year, hes also that irritant that we hoped Begin was going to be last year. But the coach is the same, the captain is the same. And the GM is the same. Oh, and they score more and fight more now. But ultimately, it still adds up to a team culture where failure is accepted as the cost for getting better. On other teams, the price for failure is losing your job. But those responsible for the failures of the Bruins have been allowed to skip out on the tab so far. If Mike Vrabel worked for the Bruins he could wheel kegs of High Life into North Station after every game and bring back the empties for a deposit. Thats how bad it is. Failure, choking and games like Monday nights loss should never be thought of as more of the same, expected or acceptable. Forget the results themselves, just that perception is a major problem that needs to be dealt with immediately. But the only person holding people accountable on Causeway Street right now is the freaking Bear in their promos. You know what I want? Chiarelli gone. Remove the safety net for everyone. Everyone will be on notice that results matter. No more deals that look like state jobs. No more pat-on-the-back pressers after chokes. Think it wouldnt work? Calgary gave their GM, Darryl Sutter, the gate after limping to a 16-18-3 record. After that, the Flames went 24-11-8 because they knew that once the GM was axed any one of them could be next. They dont want to get dealt to Long Island or sent to Abbotsford. With one move, everyone employed by that team became motivated by self preservation at the very least. I say give it a try here. This team is long overdue for a major shake up. The best-case scenario is this team and coach get a Jenks-sized fire lit under them and do some major damage in the postseason. The worst that can happen will never be as bad as last season, and at least Cam wont have to take out a restraining order to keep PC from talking to Ryders agent about an extension.MikeAttleboro

Well see, Mikey. I sense that Neely has brought at least some accountability there, but not enough. And I also agree that Chiarelli would be the place to start. Hes the one who picks the coach and picks the players. Just axing Claude wouldnt be enough.

Then again, the Bruins could go all the way and quiet all the skeptics.

Just kidding!

Mikey,Now you're talking right up my alley. My gosh. Between Claude him and Chris Kelly Ive had enough. Mike, why on earth in a "meaningless" game does Seguin only play eight minutes, eight freaking minutes? Really!!! All I hear from the B's media is that Claude is disappointed in the third-line production. No kidding, CLAUDE! Kelly sucks (Wheeler offsides = Kelly trying to shoot). He's Dan Paille, except he's a center. I hope the call comes from CamPeter to have Seguin on the playoff roster. Get him the experience in the playoffs. Its our future cup on the line. You want production on the third line? Move Kelly to the fourth and have a RyderPeverlySeguin or even PeverlyCampbellSeguin combination on the third line. I know this past game was soooo important . . . did I see Chara play 25 minutes? Good job, Claude. You have screwed up this team all year (i.e., the goalie situation). He's an okaygood coach, but I truly believe he is holding this team back. At this point Claude needs to go. I have had enough and yet I am destined to see this team disappoint in the playoffs again! My bet is he wins enough to keep his job, just to drive me crazy for at least another year. DaveWoburn

Ive said it a million times. Claude is a very good coach for a bad team. But I have seen nothing that would lead me to believe he is the right guy for a great team. Too regimented. Too system-oriented. Afraid to turn his players loose. I hope he proves me wrong in the postseason, but Im not holding my breath.

I also now believe this: Whoever the next coach is, that persons top priority should be developing Seguin into a top 10 player. If Claudes not the right guy for that job, then ax him. Unless Seguin turns into a star, the Bs are destined to be playoff fodder.

Felger,After blowing a 3-0 lead by giving up five unanswered goals to the Rangers, it's time for Neely to pull a Lamoriello and fire Julian before the playoffs. It has to happen.Mark Melrose

Not a prayer. Im obviously not a fan, but even I believe thats nuts. Too late. If the Bs go down early in the playoffs again, Mark, youll get your wish. If the Bs fall in the first or second round, I dont see how he keeps his job. A conference final berth would probably be enough for him to survive, but depending on how it ended might still draw some consideration. If the Bs make the Cup Finals, were stuck with him another year at least.

Felger,Don't forget to mention Marchand's Seventh Player Award. He was definitely more than I expected.JamesManchester

Duly mentioned. Now lets see if the little guy can do it when it counts.

Hey, FelgerAs of now the Bruins would be the No. 3 seed in the East and have to play the Canadiens. I think that this would be the worst possible opponent for the Bruins. After all that has happened between the two teams this year I think there would be too many off-ice distractions that the Bruins dont need in their first-round series. I mean, sure, it would be a very entertaining series from a fan's perspective, but for the sake of the team and the goal of a Stanley Cup, is this who the Bruins want to play in the first round?Ryan

Nope. Its a bad matchup, both on the ice (Montreal has won 9-of-12 meetings over the last two years; Tim Thomas has worse numbers against the Canadiens than any other team) and off the ice. The Chara investigation is still on-going, and Pacioretty may return during the series. The fans are going to be worse than usual and thats saying something. Even in victory that series is going to take a lot out of the Bs.

But you know what? Im done complaining about it. Its happening. The standings havent really moved in two months and theyre not going to move in the next three days. Im resigned to it. Rest up. Its going to be a doozy.

--

Yo, Felger,I don't have a lot of time to really delve into explaining my point, but here's the top-line topic: Parents are the reason their kids aren't playing baseball anymore. Baseball is a game that takes time, energy and intelligence to enjoy on all levels. Basketball and soccer is your "weeeeee" thing. There are kids running everywhere, its disorderly . . . and, frankly, fun to watch for 60 minutes. But give me a wall, a tennis ball and my mitt as a kid and I was set for hours, Hell, I'd be set for hours now and I'm a 34-year-old dad.Jeff

A: Jeff is responding to our discussion of this Wall Street Journal article that detailed how participation in youth baseball has gone way down in the past decade. Its my belief that part of the reason is that too many important Major League Baseball games start too late and kids arent able to watch them. I think more day baseball in MLB would help the cause.

But after watching the Sox this week I think MLB should be thankful they've played mostly at night. The last thing you want to do is subject the youth of America to that team right now.

Read Felgers weekly column on Mondays. E-mail him HERE and read the mailbag every Thursday. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Drellich: Pomeranz, league's second-best lefty, knows how to be even better

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Drellich: Pomeranz, league's second-best lefty, knows how to be even better

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz may not actually be the No. 2 starter for the Red Sox in this year’s presumed American League Division Series. Maybe the Sox will mix in a right-hander between Pomeranz and Chris Sale.

Still, everyone knows which pitcher, in spirit, has been the second-most reliable for the Red Sox. A day after Chris Sale notched his 300th strikeout and on the final off-day of the regular season, it’s worth considering the importance of the other excellent lefty on the Sox, and how much he’s meant to a team that’s needed surprise performances because of the lineup’s drop-off.

Per FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, Pomeranz is the second-most valuable lefthanded starter among those qualified in the American League (you know who's No. 1). He's one of the 10 best starters in the AL overall.

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Pomeranz, 28, was a first-round pick seven years ago. But he didn’t exactly blossom until the last two years. He has a 3.15 ERA in 165 2/3 innings. His next start, if decent, should give him a career-high in innings after he threw 170 2/3 last year.

Pomeranz is a 16-game winner, just one win behind Sale. The value of wins and losses is known to be nil, but there’s still a picture of reliability that can be gleaned.

Is this the year Pomeranz became the pitcher he always envisioned he would be?

“I don’t know, I mean, I had a pretty dang good year last year,” Pomeranz said, referring to a 3.32 ERA between the Padres and Sox, and an All-Star selection. “I think these last two years have been kind of you know, more what I wanted to be like. But I still, I don’t think I’m done yet, you know what I mean?”

Most pro athletes say there’s always room to improve. Pomeranz, however, was able to specify what he wants. The focus is on his third and fourth pitches: his cutter and his change-up. 

“My changeup’s been really good this year,” Pomeranz said. “That’s something that still can go a lot further. And same with my cutter too. I still use it sparingly. I don’t think me just being a six-inning guy is the end of it for me either.

“You set personal goals. You want to throw more innings, cover more innings so the bullpen doesn’t have to cover those. Helps save them for right now during the year.”

Early in the year, Pomeranz wasn’t using his cutter much. He threw just nine in April, per BrooksBaseball.net. That led to talk that he wasn’t throwing the pitch to take it easy on his arm. He did start the year on the disabled list, after all, and cutters and sliders can be more stressful on the elbow and forearm.

That wasn’t the case.

“The reason I didn’t throw it in the beginning of the year was because half the times I threw it went the other way,” Pomeranz said. “It backed up. Instead of cutting, it was like sinking or running back. I mean, I pitched [in Baltimore] and gave up a home run to [Manny] Machado, we were trying to throw one in and it went back. So I didn’t trust it.

“Mechanical thing. I was still trying to clean my mechanics up, and once I cleaned ‘em up and got my arm slot right, then everything started moving the way it was supposed to and then I started throwing it more.”

Pomeranz’s cutter usage, and how he developed the pitch heading into 2016, has been well documented.

The change-up is more of an X-factor. He threw five in each of his last two starts, per Brooks, and it’s a pitch he wants to use more.

“It’s been good,” Pomeranz said. “I think I could throw it a lot more and a lot more effectively, and ... tweaking of pitch selection probably could help me get into some of those later innings too.”

Well, then why not just throw the change more often? Easier said than done when you’re talking about your fourth pitch in a key moment.

“I throw a few a game,” Pomeranz said. “Sometimes you feel like you don’t want too throw it in situations where you get beat with your third or fourth best pitch. I mean it’s felt — every time I’ve thrown it it’s been consistent. It’s just a matter of, it’s something me and Vazqy [Christian Vazquez] talk about, too." 

(When you hear these kind of issues, which most pitchers deal with, it makes you appreciate Sale’s ability to throw any pitch at any time even more.)

Speaking on Wednesday, the day after Pomeranz’s most recent outing, Sox pitching coach Carl Willis said he thinks the change-up’s already starting to have a greater presence.

“He’s kind of always had a changeup, and he hadn’t had any trust or conviction in that pitch,” Willis said. “I was really excited last night that he used the changeup more. He threw it. He doubled up with it on occasion. Something that’s not in the scouting report.

"It’s his fourth pitch and he seldom threw it in a game and he’s in a situation where, OK, the change-up’s the right pitch, but location of whatever I throw is going to outweigh [selection]. Now he’s starting to gain that confidence [that he can locate it]. 

“I think that’s going to make him an extremely better pitcher. I thought it was a huge factor in his outing last night. Because he didn’t have his best velocity. He really did a good job of changing speeds with the changeup, and obviously with the curveball and being able to give different shapes of the pitches.”

The Sox already have the best left-hander in the AL, if not anywhere. The AL's second-best southpaw happens to pitch on the same team, and has tangible plans to be even better.

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

BOSTON — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of the the Yankees, MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre, and players who can’t take criticism from broadcasters.

In a spot Thursday with WEEI, Werner made clear David Price’s handling of Dennis Eckersley was unprofessional.

“Boston is a tough place to play,” Werner said on WEEI’s Ordway, Merlonia and Fauria. “Some players thrive here, and some players don’t. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.”

“I thought there was a way of handling that. It wasn’t handled appropriately. If I’ve got a problem with Lou [Merloni], and I hear something he says on the radio, I’ll say to Lou, ‘That wasn’t fair.’ ”

Werner also called the team’s relationship with the Yankees “frosty” following the public sign-stealing saga that resulted in fines for both clubs.

“The fact is, I do think this was a minor technical violation,” Werner said. “I start with the fact that this was unfortunately raised to a level it never should have been raised to.”

Werner also insinuated he did not approve of how MLB and Torre handled the disciplining of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who receieved a four-game suspension for his part in a fight against the Tigers (reduced on appeal to three games).

“Do you think Gary Sanchez got an appropriate punishment?” Werner asked.