Sunday, January 11, 2009

More Saito On A Sunday Morning

Good morning. It's still dark and still snowing here in north central Connecticut, but it's the dry type of snow that looks like it is piling up bigtime but really isn't. Since it started snowing early afternoon Saturday, there are only five inches of new white stuff on the turf. But it's nice to look at, at least it WILL be when the sun peeks over the horizon. But that's enough about winter's cold charms...let's talk baseball, in particular the new Boston Red Sox reliever Takashi Saito. First up, Theo Epstein with an explanation of what approach the Sox have been taking this off season, especially since the Teixeira Yankee signing...

"...what we're trying to do this offseason is accumulate as much pitching depth as we can possibly have, Epstein said. There's not a team out there during the season that isn't looking to gain some pitching. We've taken some educated gambles on pitchers that are geared to build that depth now, at the right price, rather than during the season, when it's very difficult to do, and you have to give up prospects. We feel like if we build a really deep stable of pitching it will serve us well throughout the year. If we build up enough pitching depth, we can trade someone to possibly fill one of the other spots on the club. We're thrilled to add Takashi to our bullpen, Epstein said. He's done an amazing job. He's been just about as good as anyone in baseball. Takashi has been just a dominant pitcher in the major leagues. We already have Jonathan Papelbon at the back end of our bullpen. With the guys we can roll out there, I think we have a chance to dominate."

Peter here, and that sounds dead on accurate to me. I like that word "dominate." A team can never have too much pitching...we Red Sox fans have learned exactly that in the past. I knew little of Takashi Saito until I did some research late yesterday in preparation for writing this very post.

Saito, 38, has played three seasons in America, all with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who originally signed him to a minor league contract when he came over from Japan. He quickly became one of the National League's top relievers. In 2007, Saito saved 39 games, made the All-Star Game, and posted a 1.40 ERA. In his three-year career, Saito has a 1.95 ERA in 189 2/3 innings with 245 strikeouts. And those are great numbers. If his elbow is recovered fully, and Boston gave him an MRI along with an extensive physical examination, he will be good to go by spring training. His eventual role would be a mid-inning reliever, one who could be very valuable if, say, Timmy Wakefield can only go five plus innings (I think we might be seeing that during the season) and Tito Francona needs an effective pitcher to get the team into the seventh inning, where the Boston 'pen is rock solid. Saito will be needed...his health and elbow have to cooperate, however. I hope they will.

And here is what the man himself, the newest member of the Boston Red Sox, had to say about his elbow, and other things. He was attracted to the Sox because he personally knows Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima, our Darkman. Here we go....

"Honestly, it feels great," Saito said through an interpreter. "I'm pretty confident it will hold up through the rest of the season."
"The biggest thing is, flat-out, they're a contender," Saito said. "I think any professional playing a sport is going to want to win. We're always playing for a championship ring, and I think the Red Sox have a very high possibility to achieve their goal. I think that's the biggest part."

Peter again. If he wanted to go to a winning ballclub, well, he sure picked one. I have to wrap this. When you click on this post's title, it will transport you instantly to the Red Sox homepage of the Boston Globe. Once there, you'll find any and all the Sox news you'd want on a Sunday morning. Enjoy your day and the rest of your weekend, and as always, BE WELL. Shalom. L'chaim (to life). See ya soon...your comments are always welcome and always answered. Thanks for stopping in.


At 1/11/2009 11:09 AM, Anonymous johnbee418 said...

Quick quiz: How do you win a baseball game?

Maybe it's the winter weather, but I simply cannot become giddy about this past week's signings and agreements by the Red Sox. Low payroll, good talent, incredible promise...but giddy-less. At least to this old guy.

Let's look at what we have, or will have come April. Our third baseman is iffy until he shows he has fully recovered from his hip ailments. And when he does, he will still be, what? 35? 36?

Our shortstop batted something like .193 for over the last 30-odd games last year. And he's YOUNG. His back-up, Senor Lugo, he of the reptilian stare, draws about $9 million dollars per annum, can't cleanly field a routine ground ball hit right at him, and always looks as though he needs a Harley to track down any grounders more than 20 feet away. Second and first are well stocked.

Left field is nicely covered. Right field looks like a bedraggled Quonset Hut recently painted over to sparkle it up. But the creases, cracks, rust, and mildew show through. It is NOT a stable structure. Center field...oh my. The young fellow named Jacoby has so much promise. But he demonstrates it in flashes, in spurts. He's a rabbit in a turtle's race. And the 162 game season is exactly that...a turtle's race.

We have a Designated Hitter who is terrifying. But did last year's weaknesses indicate the future? Is David over the hill? I have fears he might be because what has been mentioned as the cause of his weaker hitting, a problem with his LEFT wrist, does not compute. David's swing is one-handed. He lets go with his left hand. It's his RIGHT hand that controls his bat. And the lack of M.R. (I refuse to speak the saboteur's name) behind him in the batting order is not material (legal speak). The whole world knew all year long, from spring training on, that M.R. was a traitor, and provided no threat to pitchers from his number 4 spot in the order. This year will define David Ortiz's value and future.

So, bad-mouthing here? Woe-begone? Nervous Nellie? Not at all. Our Sox have the best team in the league. Our pitching staff is superb. And our lack of a catcher who can hit at least his weight will not be any more depressing than it was last year.

My basic fear at this point in the Hot Stove League schedule is that the Sox' management has over-looked the answer to my opening question. How do you win a baseball game? You simply score at least one run more than your opponent.

So far, Theo has been storing up arms. And quick feet, a la Mark Kotsay. But bats is what we need. Desparately. And Theo ignores Sean Casey's .330 batting average. Oy Vey. Oy Gevalt. Boy, do we need a Mazel Tov before too long, from somewhere. I hope Theo uses some of our money to do a Mitzvah for us, or the season will be very, very long.

Oh, and I know, I'm a gloomy Gus. So bring some sunshine into my thinking, Sox. Help me out here. There's snow to be shoveled and I'm growling at my dog.

At 1/11/2009 3:59 PM, Blogger Peter N said...

Hello to you, do I have a response, or two, or...

I expect Mike Lowell to be healthy, or the powers that be will never let him play in pain as he did last year. He gets better with age.

LUGO will not start at SS...the Sox are desperate to rid themselves of that overpaid, often injured person. Lowrie was on fire for much of last year.

JD was great in right when he was healthy, and he WILL be. Jacoby is a star in the making, and our left fielder who came here in place of Sir Ick (Manny) is so good at playing the Monster.

Big Papi? Thank goodness for him! But we don't have the best team in the league except in spirit, in faith. I HAVE FAITH. Red Sox Nation faith.

Be careful...your dog loves you! As do I. Blog friend Peter. I have faith in you.

At 1/11/2009 4:04 PM, Blogger Peter N said...

'08 Jed stats...G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
2008 BOS 81 260 34 67 25 3 2 46 1 35 68 .258 .339 .400

At 1/11/2009 4:58 PM, Anonymous johnbee418 said...

"I expect Mike Lowell to be healthy, or the powers that be will never let him play in pain as he did last year. He gets better with age." (Peter)

I may not be as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I always was. (johnbee418)

Sorry, Peter, but I couldn't resist the chance. But seriously, we have some critical "ifs" facing us, due to the injuries Fate sent to us last season. Mike Lowell, Sr. the way, I'm not a fan of Julio's, but he's on the roster, is sucking up a load of money, so let's use him any way that's productive...J.D. Drew, Papi Ortiz, and on top of those stalwarts, we've got all the new signees Theo has come up with.

I personally feel we will out-pitch both Major Leagues next year. But we've got to score runs. There is a philosophical problem existent in BeanTown which says, (in words or substance), "Take as many pitches as you can so as to wear out that pitcher...never mind that you'll always be facing a two strike count...take those pitches." Well, I think that's balderdash.

Statistics show us that at least 65-75% base runners are on base because of base hits. Only the balance reach base due to walks or hit-by-pitch, or errors. That means you must swing the bat in order to hit the ball in order to reach base and score runs. Wasting good pitches is NOT productive. This is a whole nother itch I have so we'll let it go for another time. I've merely pointed out we have question marks that may make our road to glory a bumpy ride. So, be nice...I'm really a mensch.

At 1/12/2009 5:28 AM, Blogger Peter N said...

JB, we have team question marks EVERY year, but your points are, as always, great ones. Funny line, too! Thanks,,,have a great week.


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