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Archive for April, 2012

Red Sox Pound Oakland Pitching for an 11-6 Win

After coming off a 6-1 road trip where they hit the ball well and scored a ton of runs, the Red Sox offense continued their torrid hitting at friendly Fenway tonight against the Oakland A’s. If I had to judge this year’s Oakland team by the first six innings of last night’s game, I would say the A on their hats stood for a minor league class A team. The better players in their lineup are Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Kurt Suzuki and recently acquired Brandon Inge.

Clay Buchholz looked terrific as he showed excellent control with all his pitches throughout six innings of the game. He had a good curveball along with a 93 mph fastball and a biting cutter. His control was excellent the first six innings. If it was a six inning game he would have pitched a masterpiece. Unfortunately it was the usual nine inning game. He looked to me like he started to get a little tired even though his pitch count was low. After a hit, a walk, then two straight outs, it seemed as though he would get out of the jam. But another walk, a hit, and a three run homer by former Sox outfielder Josh Reddick got everyone a little nervous. The five runOaklandinning made the score 11-6. Bobby Valentine decided to keep him in the game but to no avail as he gave up another hit and then hit the next batter. Valentine saw enough and Buchholz was headed to the shower. I think the 7th inning would have been his last anyway but because of the bad inning Valentine ended up having to use five pitchers out of the bullpen to pin this game down. That’s what puts a lot of wear and tear on the bullpen and that’s why the relief staff gets worn down by mid-August.

Buchholz did get the win thanks to the two home runs by David Ortiz, a two run shot off the light tower in left center field by Darnell McDonald and a three run blast by Mike Aviles in the fifth inning. Dustin Pedroia and Mike Aviles both made good defensive plays to get out of jams and preserve the win. Aviles, especially, has shown a lot better range at shortstop as some of us thought. He’s playing similar to Scutaro did last year for the Sox with more power at the plate.

Marlon Byrd is doing a nice job since coming over to the Red Sox. He has a good bat and is a decent outfielder. I like Darnell McDonald because he is a long ball threat and always has good at bats.

The Red Sox are beating up on the teams they should be winning against. Once they get Ellsbury and Crawford back full strength they’ll have an even better lineup. They need Ellsbury more than Crawford because they can get by nicely in left field with either Ross, Byrd or McDonald. The one man they cannot afford to lose from an offensive standpoint is David Ortiz. He is the heart and soul of this lineup. Make no mistakes about it.

Radio Interview on WGAM with The Home Team

Listen in on my interview with WGAM talking about my appearance at Fenway Park for the 100th year anniversary and my opinion on how the Sox are doing so far this year.

Rangers Corral Red Sox Again With a 6-3 Win

Red Sox pitching cooled off the Texas Ranger bats tonight at Fenway. They only gave up six runs in this game which seemed like a squeaker compared to Tuesday night’s 18-3 debacle. Josh Beckett started the game and pitched pretty well. He was staked to a two run lead in the second when Kevin Youkilis hit his first homer run of the year to left field with David Ortiz on second base. Beckett gave up a run in the third on a walk and three base hits but his big mistake came in the fourth inning when he threw a fastball to the inside part of the plate to Texas catcher Mike Napoli . The ball landed in the last row of the Green Monster seats in left-center field for a two run homer. That gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead which they would not relinquish. Red Sox pitchers better start throwingNapolimore curve balls and change-ups or else he’ll continue to crush the ball against them. He just wears Sox pitching out.

The bullpen couldn’t hold the score at 3-2.  Lefthander Franklin Morales came in the game in the eighth and  gave up a  hit, a couple of walks, a hit batsman and a double to none other than, you guessed it,  catcher Mike Napoli. The Sox came back in the bottom of the ninth to score a run but fell short against formerMinnesotacloser Joe Nathan.

The top of the eighth inning was the killer for the Red Sox. Morales throws a 96 mph fastball and has an excellent curve ball. His big problem over the years has been his control.  After loading the bases by giving up a hit, an intentional walk, followed by another walk he then hits pinch hitter Craig Gentry in the foot allowing a run to score. Bobby Valentine had Vicente Padilla warming up at that time. He must not have been ready because Valentine let Morales pitch toNapoli. The big right handed hitter got another fastball inside and hit a missile off the wall in left center field that scored two more runs. Did Bobby Valentine get confused or was there something physically wrong with Padilla?  Matt Albers came in and got a double play to end the inning. Should he have started warming up earlier and been called in the game to faceNapoli? The result tells us that there should have been a right hander facing both pinch hitter Craig Gentry andNapoli. The Ranger lineup is hot right now and you have to make it a little tougher on them in any way you can.  The good news is that Beckett pitched well. The bad news is he still got the loss. A day off today might do them some good. Things won’t get easier, however with the Yanks coming into Fenway.

Will Cody Ross ever hit a curveball this year? I haven’t seen it yet. The book on him is strictly fastball hitter.

Texas Humbles Sox and Lester with an 18-3 Pounding

Last night’s performance by John Lester might have been his worse since being in a Red Sox uniform. His command  was terrible as was his cut fastball.  His curveball was nowhere to be found and he threw very few change-ups.  The Rangers got to him in the second for four runs in which he gave up a two run homer to the designated hitter Mike Napoli. It was a bomb that cleared the monster seats in left and landed in Somerville. That homerun seemed to deflate Lester. He seemed to lose his aggressiveness and focus after that and never got it back. He went out to the mound in the third and promptly gave a hit and two walks and then got the hook.

The Ranger hitters did not let the Red Sox bullpen off the hook. Scott Atchison came in and couldn’t keep the Ranger base runners from scoring. By the end of the third it was 7-0 Texas. Matt Albers did a decent job but it was a different story for Mark Melancon. In the eighth inning he couldn’t even register an out. He gave up a three run missile shot to Josh Hamilton that might have been the longest ball hit to right field since Ted Williams’ red seat blast. It went over twenty rows up the bleachers. After a
walk he then gives up a two run shot to Nelson Cruz. I never saw so many pitches down the middle of the plate since watching the Home Run Derby during the All-Star break. Texas has an awesome line-up and may be the best team in the American League. They’re loaded with talent and there’s no way you can beat them if you constantly throw pitches down the middle of the plate.

Everyone thought the Red Sox bullpen was going to be a problem after leaving spring training. Well, last night solidified that concern because the pitching, starter and bullpen, was atrocious.

I can just hear it now, “the problem has to be the situation that occurred over the weekend with Valentine, Youkilis and Pedroia.” That’s a bunch of hogwash. Once a player goes out on the field his focus should be totally on his hitting, fielding, base running, etc.
That’s whether he likes or dislikes his manager. There have been many players and managers who have not gotten along. Players and teams still have good years. The Yankees are a good example when Billy Martin was there.  Earl Weaver and the Orioles are another example and how about Dick Williams and the whole 67 team. There are many more examples where players didn’t get along and yet teams still won and players had good years. I realize its different now. Managers try to discipline a player behind closed doors and still end up getting fired. The Red Sox need to pull together, play good fundamental baseball, and be aggressive on the field.

The other thing I wonder about is if the Red Sox have enough talent to make the playoffs this year. That’s a discussion for another day.

Red Sox Celebrate Opening Day with a 12-2 Trouncing of Tampa Bay

You couldn’t have scripted it better. The pre-game festivities were terrific and the team followed with a 12-2 win against the Rays. Three of the four Red Sox broadcasters from radio and TV were the Masters of Ceremony. Jerry Remy was left to guard the broadcast booth. After announcing the trainers, consultants, medical staffs, physical therapists, dentists, proctologists, coaches, managers, players and starting lineups from both teams they finally announced Johnny Pesky.  The fans went wild with a five minute standing ovation.  Johnny, one of the most beloved Red Sox of all time, with some help, walked out on to the field. It was great to see him out there. He was the man who moved me to shortstop when I signed with the Red Sox way back when.  He later gave the “Play Ball” proclamation over the microphone and the ballgame was about to begin.

I also thought the Red Sox did a great job bringing in Tim Wakefield and Jason Veritek to throw out the first ball. The two have had terrific careers with the Red Sox especially helping to bring the World Series championship to Boston in 2004. Having two of the all-time Red Sox greats Dwight Evans and Hall of Famer Jim Rice be their catchers added a little more spice to the occasion.


There was a ball game to be played and the man with the most pressure on him was  Josh Beckett. Fans and media alike were not very happy with his performance in Detroit where he gave up five home runs to the Tigers. Facing Tampa Bay would not be a picnic either. They have a good lineup and an outstanding pitching staff. But this would be Beckett’s day. He mixed his pitches in and out and threw more fastballs than he did in Detroit. His velocity topped out at 91mph but he did not give the Rays many fat pitches to hit. It was a very good outing and it made Bobby Valentine and Red Sox Nation very happy.

The offense gave Beckett some breathing room after a shaky second inning . They scored three in the third, one in the fourth and  eight in the eighth inning  to put the game away. This was against what is supposed to be the best pitching staff in the American League. Their big lefthander David Price had a terrible day throwing eighty three pitches in three innings and at times couldn’t find the plate.

Kelly Shoppach had three hits. Youk and Gonzalez had three RBI and the clutch hits kept coming in this game. The only negative was the injury to Jacoby Ellsbury. He got hurt while sliding into second trying to break up a double play. After throwing the ball to first base Ben Zobrist landed on Ellsbury’s  right shoulder. If he’s out for a long length of time it will be very hard to replace him. Sweeney and Cody Ross  are not the everyday player Ellsbury is. Ijt will really hurt this ball club especially with Crawford out of the lineup. We don’t need any more bad news from this team.

Bard OK in His First Start but Sox Lose to Jays 7-3

All eyes were on Daniel Bard tonight in Toronto to see if he has what it takes to be a good starting pitcher for the Red Sox. I was not necessarily impressed by his outing except for the fact that he was able to throw 96 pitches and still had good velocity on his fastball.

Bard’s best pitch was his slider. He used it for his strike-out pitch which is surprising for a pitcher who has a 97 mph fastball. The problem with his fastball is that it’s straight as a string. He threw his best fastball against the American League’s top slugger Jose Batista in the third inning striking him out.

Bard needs a two seam fastball, which sinks and tails, to go along with his straight four-seamer. He also needs a changeup which will keep hitters a little off balance. His command was good early in the game and then in his later innings. He should improve his control and he’ll build his stamina the more he pitches. Right now he’s a thrower and not yet the pitcher he’ll need to be to have success as a starter. He has a chance to be a successful if he can put everything together. Most pitchers learn how to pitch in the minors but Bard will have to learn in the Major Leagues. It looks like he has the talent to be very good.

On this night Red Sox hitters could not put together a big inning against the Jays. Kyle Drabek, also a fifth starter, kept the Red Sox hitters from mounting any serious attack against him. His fastball moved and he featured a good breaking pitch. Ellsbury continues to struggle but Kevin Youklis broke out with two hits in the game. However, he hit into a rally busting double play in the 6th with runners on first and third. Saltalamacchia struck out in the 5th with a runner in scoring position. The Sox left a lot of men on base in this game. One thing I’ll say about the Red Sox offense, though, they’ll battle you right down to their last out. They scored two in the ninth last night but fell short. By the way, have there been any Carl Crawford sightings?



Red Sox Come From Behind For First Victory of the Season

The pitching was excellent and the offense came through in the clutch as the Sox got their first win of the 2011 season. Felix Doubrant had a good outing but threw 105 pitches in five innings of work. That is unacceptable for a starter. The Red Sox need him to go at least seven innings in future starts. However, it was good to see him keep a good Toronto offense from scoring more runs in the ballgame.

The bullpen, which has been maligned, crucified, cursed and threatened by terrorists during and after the Detroit series came through in  high fashion last night. In particular Scott Atchison, who pitched three terrific innings, utilized all his pitches and had excellent command with them. He works fast so the defense is always on their toes when he pitches. He, deservedly, got the win in this game. Aceves came into the game in the ninth inning with a two run lead. I’m sure Red Sox Nation were holding their breath when they saw him warming up. After two bad outings in Detroit would he finally come through with a save and a win for the Sox? You could see the determination in the way got ready to pitch. This night threw the ball like he did in most of his outings last year. He featured a 95 mph fastball and a sharp-breaking curve that got the hitters out and secured the victory.

We have to give credit to the offense once again coming from behind but this time with the victory. The spark plug second baseman Dustin Pedroia was the hero as far as I was concerned. He hit the home-run in the 6th to make the score 2-1 and then started
the ninth off with a double down the left field line. After a wild pitch that moved him to third, Gonzo hit a sacrifice fly to tie the score. After two walks by the Jays closer Santos, Sweeney came through with a base hit to right field scoring the go-ahead run and finally a wild pitch plated the fourth run.

It was a terrific ballgame and of course doesn’t solve the problems the Red Sox are having with the bullpen. Some hitters are off to terrible starts like Ellsbury and Youkilis. Ellsbury is pressing and trying to pull everything to right field. Someone better tell him to think up the middle and stop pulling the ball. Youkilis is the opposite. He’s  hitting a lot of balls to right field and not finishing his swing with a good follow-through. I’m sure they will turn things around as they play more.

This win was a good one for the Sox and game they had to win. It was also good to see Bobby Valentine get his first victory as the Red Sox manager and to see him and all the players with big smiles after the game. They must feel some of the pressure off their backs. Well, at least until the next game.

Sox Lose Opening Day Pitchers Duel to Tigers 3-2

It’s too bad when you have to face baseball’s best pitcher on Opening Day or at any time for that matter. Justin Verlander, last year’s MVP and Cy Young Award winner, was everything and more against the Red Sox today. He had his usual high velocity fastball along  with a  knee-buckling curve and a changeup that keeps hitters off balance  and guessing  what will come next. He gave up only two hits in eight innings and only one Red Sox runner got as far as third base during his outing. He was expected to be good and he was.

John Lester was also expected to be good and he was, although not as good as Verlander. You could see the desire and aggressiveness in Lester’s demeanor throughout his seven innings of work. That’s good news for Red Sox Nation. I think his biggest mistake was his reliance on the split-fingered fastball too much. He had a very good fastball and had success with it when he needed a strikeout. The only mistake he made was a high fastball to Tiger catcher Alex Avila that he hit down the left field line scoring Johnny Peralta for the first run of the game. Overall, it was a very good outing for Lester. It’s too bad he had to go head to head with Verlander.

Aviles and Pedroia made some slick double plays early in the game to take away any threat by the Tigers. There were no tough plays for the Red Sox defense in this game thanks to Lester’s good performance. The Red Sox offense made a terrific comeback in the ninth inning of this game to tie the score. They did it against the best closer in the AL last year with thirty nine out of thirty nine saves. Pedroia doubled to right, Gonzalez got a base hit to left, Ortiz followed with a sacrifice fly knocking in the first Sox run of the season. Sweeney then lined a double to right tying the score 2-2. Valverde now had the distinction of being perfect again but this time with a one for one in blown saves in his one appearance.

The Sox bullpen could not hold the lead in the bottom of the ninth when Austin Jackson got a bases loaded base hit down the left field line to end the game. Padilla, Melancon, and Acevas did not do a good job. There is a concern about the bullpen and will be until the right people are in place. It’s only one game and the team shouldn’t be judged by it.

Can the 2012 Red Sox Make Fans Forget About September 2011?

Will it take winning the Division title, the American League Pennant or the World Series to make you forgive and forget the 2011 September Red Sox collapse? There are still a lot of fans angry with ownership over letting Terry Francona, Theo Epstein, and Jonathan Papelbon walk away after last season.  Will you stick with this team if they get off to a bad start or will you criticize Bobby Valentine for players who are not performing up to their abilities?

We all have our opinions, of course, and I respect your opinion, even if you’ve never played a baseball game in your life. It doesn’t matter because that’s the fun of analyzing the players, the manager and general manager throughout the season. Predicting where the team will finish is a lot more pressure packed, though. If you pick the Red Sox to finish third in the division you’ll root against them most of the season. If you pick them to win then you’ll curse them every time they lose a game. Is it possible for us to just enjoy the baseball season and not take wins and losses personal? The answer is no, not in Fenway nation. They’re bums if they lose and heroes if they win. There’s no in between for most of us.

With that being said I’d like to give you my analysis and prediction for the 2012 Red Sox season as the roster is made up on opening day. The first big setback, as we all know, is the loss of Andrew Bailey for a good part of the season. This is a critical loss and  someone has to fill in the gap. I see where Bobby Valentine picked Aceves. Keep in mind this is temporary. I don’t like bullpen-by-committee. It never works.

The starting staff is set in the first three spots with Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz. I wouldn’t worry too much about the fourth and fifth starters. I think Bard will develop as a good starter and Felix Doubront will give you some good games and if both end up with five hundred or better records by the end of the season they would have proven to be very helpful to this team. The key to the success of this team lies in what the big three will do. I think Lester will win twenty games this year and Beckett and Buchholz will each win between fourteen and eighteen games apiece. That’s if they stay healthy and don’t miss any starts. Teams have won championships without twenty game winners.

The offense is good enough to score a lot of runs this year. I don’t see Ellsbury having the same year power-wise but he should hit for a high batting average and steal bases. Can Kevin Youkilis come back and knock in a lot of runs? He better or it will be a long season. Carl Crawford will help the offense when he gets back and we know Gonzalez, Pedroia, and Papi are players who produce year in and year out. Cody Ross looks like a good pickup. He’s shown some power and defensive skills. Offense should not be a major problem throughout the year.

On defense, the Sox are very good on the right side with Pedroia and Gonzalez. Youkilis may have lost a step but he’ll do a good job catching balls he can get to. The big question mark is shortstop. A lot of fans wanted to see Jose Iglesias start the season but the Sox elected to go with Mike Aviles and his bat. He doesn’t have near the range that Iglesias has but is a better hitter. I would have gone with Iglesias to give him experience early in the season. He won’t develop any faster in Pawtucket.

The other concern I have is with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He improved somewhat last year mostly early in the season. I thought he made a lot of mistakes the second half and did not catch very well in September. I’m talking strictly his defensive skills. What he did get, which should help him this year, is playing last year on a regular basis. He should be better this year but he’ll have to prove he can do the job defensively on a daily basis.

I truly believe this year’s Red Sox team can get to the World Series again but all the pieces have to fall in place. They’ve got to get healthy and stay healthy. The starters, especially the big three, have to win games by being aggressive and staying focused. Whoever closes has to do the job day in and day out. Avila will have to do a good job defensively at shortstop and the rest have to play well all year. Bobby Valentine will have to keep control of the team in the clubhouse and on the field if they have a chance to win. This
should be one of the more interesting years in Red Sox history.

The opening day bell is ready to ring in Detroit on April 5th and all Sox fans are looking forward to a World Series Championship. What else would you expect from Red Sox Nation?

3/28/12 – Rico on the Red Sox (Boston Baseball Magazine)

Rico on the Red Sox

by Boston Baseball Magazine

Boston Baseball welcomes back Rico Petrocelli for another season. A two-time All-Star during his 12-year playing career with the Red Sox, and a key member of both the 1967 Impossible Dream and 1975 American League Champion Red Sox teams, Rico shares his thoughts on the Red Sox with us each month during the 2012 season. 

Boston Baseball:  Rico, after the Red Sox’ season ended last September, the media picked up on the fact that some of the starters were drinking beer and eating chicken in the clubhouse while the games were still going on.  While Jon Lester expressed regret and vowed to make better choices in the future, John Lackey said that this happens in every clubhouse and that this would never have been an issue if not for the team’s September collapse.  So I ask you: is this standard procedure around baseball? Was too much made of it? Was the media simply looking for a scapegoat?

Rico Petrocelli:  It never goes on!  I don’t know of any team that allows players to be in the clubhouse during the game, eating or drinking beer. That’s stuff you don’t do.

Sometimes a starting pitcher, when he comes out of a game, might go straight to the clubhouse to ice their arm and they may have a beer, but that’s a different story.  He’s out of the game, he’s done his job. I’ve seen guys do that.  But the rest of the team belongs on the bench.

Often the pitchers on a club are a pretty close bunch.  They stay together and root each other on.  They’re out there during the game.  Whether it’s the guy who pitched the day before, or the pitcher who’s going the next day, he’s on the bench throughout the game, and he goes out there after the game and shakes hands. That’s what you do.  You’re getting paid whether you pitch that day or not. Sit on the bench and be there for your team!

BB:  So you didn’t think the media made too much of this — you thought it was a legitimate problem, a sign that something was wrong in the Red Sox clubhouse.

RP:  The media didn’t make too much out of it at all.  How about the beating that Jacoby Ellsbury took in 2010 for not staying with the club? He was hurt, and he wasn’t on the bench.  He was rehabbing or he was home, whatever it was, and everyone got all over him, so why wouldn’t  they get all over these guys?

BB:  As a former shortstop and third baseman, I have to ask you about the Red Sox’ decision this spring to send Jose Iglesias down for more seasoning and give the starting job, for the time being, to Mike Aviles.

RP:  At first I thought that I would like to see Iglesias start the season.  Just let him play.  Pinch hit for him in the late innings if they have to.  I know the big-league pitchers would be ahead of him, experience-wise, but he’s got to learn sooner or later.  We know he can field.  The hitting thing…

Spending two more months with Pawtucket doesn’t hurt him, and it doesn’t hurt the club.  But in Triple A, believe me, you don’t learn that much.  The only development that’s going to take place in Triple-A is that he’ll get two months older!  How many at-bats is that over two months, 150?  I’d rather he got those 150 at-bats in the big leagues. As long as he’s doing the job in the field, and Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherrington explain to him what they’re going to do — “We’re going to break you in slowly, we may pinch hit for you in the late innings, don’t get discouraged, just learn what you can. You have some great players around you in Youkilis, Pedroia, and Gonzalez” — that’s the way I would go. Man, I can’t wait to see that infield playing together!


Daniel Bard


I disagree that he is going to develop further down in Triple-A and come up in June or July and suddenly be a major leaguer. The only way to be a big leaguer is to be a big leaguer.


BB:  The other big news out of spring training was the move of Daniel Bard to the rotation. Do you think Bard will be successful as a starter?

RP:  I like Bard as a starter, because he’s got three pitches, but he has to maintain his control over a longer period of time.  As a reliever he’d pitch one inning out of the bullpen, and he has good stuff and can get away with it. He’s got to really become a pitcher now instead of just a thrower.  Can he do it?  I think he can, but it may take some time and some patience. Even if he struggles at first, he may find his groove as a starter as the season goes along.  The other thing is that he can always go back to the bullpen. We know he can be extremely effective in that role.

BB: Along those lines, what’s your impression of the new bullpen duo of Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey?

RP:  Oh, they’re legit!  But if the Red Sox decided to put Bard back in the bullpen, they would find a role for him, that’s for sure. One thing we know is that you rarely finish the season with the same 10-11 guys in the same roles as they started with in April!  I’ve been hearing good things about Daisuke Matsuzaka. If he comes back later in the season and is pitching well, he could provide a big boost for this team, and that might be a chance for Bard, if he hasn’t really embraced this opportunity to start, to return to the pen.