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Boston Red Sox: Is Adrian Gonzalez a Legit Candidate for the Triple Crown?

Boston Red Sox Executive Vice President and General Manager Theo Epstein knew what he was getting in to this past offseason when he acquired Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres.

The acquisition was made in exchange for outfielder Reymond Fuentes, right-handed pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and a player to be named later.

The question is, did the Red Sox know Gonzalez might be viewed by some as a legitimate Triple Crown Candidate in his first year with the club and worth every dime of his 2011 $5.5 million contract?

A batter earns the Triple Crown when he leads the league in three specific categories, those being, home runs (HR), runs batted in (RBI) and batting average (AVG). The Triple Crown generally refers to leading a specific league such as the American League (AL) or National League (NL) in these three major categories.

Through the first 63 games, Gonzalez leads the AL in runs batted in with 57, is second in batting average at .338 and has 12 home runs, eight home runs shy of Jose Bautista’s AL-leading 20.

Gonzalez is on pace for a .347 average, 148 runs batted in and 31 home runs.*

If these numbers come to fruition, his projected average and runs batted in maybe enough to lead the American League but his home runs may fall shy for a league leader.

The glimmer of hope may be that 81 of his games played will be at one of the smallest ballparks in all of major league baseball, Boston’s Fenway Park.

Fenway, known as a hitter’s park, especially for left hander’s with a short right field porch, makes it entirely possible that Gonzalez hits in upwards of 45 to 50 home runs which just may be enough to lead the AL.

The triple crown hasn’t been won by any player since 1967, 44 years ago, coincidentally by a former Red Sox player named Carl Yastrzemski. 


*Source: Yahoo Sports

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Kansas City Royals: Long Shot Tim Collins Makes Royal Cut for Opening Day Roster

I’m writing this article as a follow-up to MLB Prospects: Kansas City Royals‘ Tim Collins Pitching Taller Than He Really Is.

5′ 7″, 175-pound Tim Collins wasn’t on the 40-man roster when camp opened up for the Kansas City Royals on February 14, in Surprise, AZ. In fact, Collins wasn’t even drafted.

He will, however, be on the team’s opening day roster as Kansas City hosts the the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

A unique story to say the least—to learn more about Collins’ rise to the major leagues please follow this link

Collins’ fastball reaches in upwards of 95 mph or higher, probably about 10-12 mph more then when he signed at about 145 pounds.

He’s gained strength and put on weight, having been training with a program set up by trainer Eric Cressey, who’s catered to Red Sox superstars including Curt Schilling and Kevin Youkilis at his gym, Cressey Performance in Hudson, Mass.

Collins was acquired by the Royals on July 31, 2010 from Atlanta, along with pitcher Jesse Chavez and outfielder Gregor Blanco in a deal that sent pitcher Kyle Farnsworth and outfielder Rick Ankiel to the Braves.

That all came just 17 days after Collins had been shipped to the Braves by the Blue Jays in another trade. Collins fit in nicely with the Royals’ Triple-A club at Omaha, posting a 1.33 ERA, two wins and four saves in 15 games.

Collins received word from coach Ned Yost this morning that he had made the roster, the Royals returned (LHP) Robert Fish, a Rule 5 guy, to the Angels to clear a 40-man spot for Collins. He and Robert Fish were the only two lefties in competition for bullpen spots.

Rule 5 provisions mean Fish must remain in the big leagues for the entire season or be offered back to his former club. While there are notable exceptions—Joakim Soria for example, (ironically the closer Collins will be setting up for)—few Rule 5 picks make it.

Through nine outings this spring, Collins has pitched 10.1 innings with a 2.61 ERA and 12 strikeouts, including a scoreless ninth versus the Diamondbacks on Saturday for the save.

Collins throws unusually hard for a pitcher that’s 5′ 7″ and his delivery makes it difficult for batters to follow and pick up on the ball. 

Collins will earn a significant pay increase from the construction job direction he was headed towards before being discovered. He will earn a reported $417,000, which is the major league minimum. 

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Boston Red Sox: Daisuke Matsuzaka Pitching Himself out of Rotation

It’s been a horrific spring training so far for Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka. 

He’s pitched just one clean inning in nine chances this spring. Matsuzaka was hit hard again on Thursday by the Florida Marlins, giving up five hits, five earned runs and two walks in 3.2 innings. 

In his three spring training starts, he’s allowed 11 earned runs on 12 hits, five base on balls and three home runs in 8.2 innings. 

But the Boston Red Sox aren’t going to panic yet, claims Terry Francona. Matsuzaka’s their fifth starter for a reason. 

Still, his performances have been troublesome to watch.

The Red Sox won negotiation rights to Matsuzaka by posting a $51.1 million bid back in November 2006, which led to his six-year, $52 million contract through 2012. He is now in the fifth season of the deal and will make an estimated $10 million in 2011.  

Sure, it’s only spring training, but am I the only one losing confidence in Dice-K’s ability to pitch? 

It’s been 600 innings of ups and downs for the Japanese sensation. He still has a tendency to try to make that perfect pitch, which helps his strikeout rate but not his walk rate or WHIP.

Matsuzaka was quoted as saying, “At this point, I need to think why I didn’t perform as I expected.” He went on: “I’m not too worried about it.”

Well I’m glad he’s not worried about it, but I know I am.

In 2008, Matsuzaka posted his best statistical season in a Red Sox uniform, going 18-3 with an ERA of 2.90 and a .211 batting average against. Great, we may have gotten our money’s worth that season, but what has Matsuzaka done since?

Matsuzaka has some work to do after underperforming over the last two seasons.

Injuries and control issues have been at the root of his problems. Over the last two years, Matsuzaka has gone 13-12 with a 5.22 ERA.

A downward trend, to say the least, and his performance this spring only adds additional support to what’s probable for 2011. But let’s hope for the best, right?

The Red Sox probably won’t take his rotation spot away from him; he’s being paid too much money for that. However, they might find an excuse to put him on the DL this season if his recent performance continues.

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Boston: Why Josh Beckett Holds the Key to the Red Sox Winning the World Series

It’s no secret that in 2010 Josh Beckett probably had one of his worst years, if not the worst year of his Major League Baseball career, depending on who you talk to. He finished 6-6 with only 127 innings pitched and an ERA of 5.78.

Aside from all the team injuries, Beckett’s lost season was a HUGE reason why the Red Sox finished out of playoff contention in 2010.

The Red Sox were still able to win 89 games and finished seven games out of first place in the American League East.

At the close of the 2010 regular season, Terry Francona stated, “not everything has gone right. But you can bet Beckett is going to go home and work. He needs a clean slate, that will be good for him.”

Theo and the Red Sox brass went out this offseason and made the necessary acquisitions by adding Crawford and Gonzalez, making them one of the most potent lineups in baseball.

However, we all know that good pitching beats good hitting. Francona stated, “If you pitch, you give yourself a chance”. With the same usual suspects in the Red Sox starting rotation going into 2011, someone needs to step it up aside from Lester and Buchholtz. 

In 2010, Lester was 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA and striking out 225 batters while Buchholtz won 17 and lost seven while only allowing nine home runs in 173 2/3 innings and an ERA of 2.33. 

Lackey and Matsuzaka are what they are, if Lackey and Matsuzaka can give you a combined 22-25 wins and 370-400 innings pitched, Red Sox nation should take it and run.  

If Wakefield gets to start in 2011, they’ll probably be spot starts here and there; whatever innings he can eat up provided there’s not too much damage, will help the pitching staff. 

So what does this all mean? It means that Josh Beckett needs to step up and at least be three quarters of what he’s been in the past.

If Beckett can win 15 games and pitch anything close to 170-200 innings, he puts the Red Sox in serious contention to win the 2011 world series.

With Beckett’s focus, attitude and Clemens like demeanor on the mound, I see no reason for him not to have a bounce-back year. 

After a shaky 2002 season in Florida where he finished 6-7 with a .462 winning percentage and a 4.10 era, Beckett bounced back the following year by leading his team to the World Series against the New York Yankees and winning the World Series MVP award.  

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Tim Wakefield of Boston Red Sox, Recipient of Clemente Humanitarian Award

Voted on by baseball fans and members of the media, the Roberto Clemente Award has been given annually since 1971 to the Major League Baseball (MLB) player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individuals contribution to his team”. 

Named after 12-time All-Star and Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente in 1973, the award was named after Clemente died on New Year’s Eve 1972 while trying to deliver supplies to victims of the Nicaragua earthquake.

Each year, a panel of baseball dignitaries selects one player from 30 nominees, one from each team. Some of the past receipts of this award were such baseball greats as Mays, Carew, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett, Albert Pujois and Derek Jeter.

This marked the eighth time Wakefield was nominated by the Red Sox, but the first time he’s actually won.

The 44-year-old righty was recognized for his selfless actions on Thursday, accepting the award at a news conference at AT&T Park in San Francisco prior to Game 2 of the World Series between the Giants and the Texas Rangers

When you think of Tim Wakefield, you think of two things: his dependability and his famous knuckle-ball that’s kept him in the majors all these years.  

Wakefield broke into the majors in 1992 with the Pittsburgh Pirates (ironically the team Clemente played his entire career with). He has been with the Red Sox since 1995.

Wakefield has helped those in need in both Boston and his home of Melborne, Florida. Since 2004, the knuckle-baller has been affiliated with Pitching in for Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing specifically earmarked grants designed to improve the lives of children across the New England region. The program encourages kids to participate in special events and to learn crucial life skills. 

Every year, Wakefield is among or near the top of the list in community appearances by Red Sox players. Before every Tuesday home game, he runs the Wakefield Warriors program, in which he invites children from the Franciscan Hospital and the Jimmy Fund to visit with him and watch batting practice.

Wakefield and Pitching in For Kids has helped Franciscan Hospital raise more than $900,000. Wakefield participates in the Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon, which last year raised $4.5 million.

Wakefield is a 193-game winner in the Majors—179 of those wins coming for the Red Sox. He made the All-Star Game for the first time in 2009 and is the longest-tenured member of the Red Sox. Only Cy Young and Roger Clemens have won more games in a Red Sox uniform than Tim Wakefield.

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World Series: The Fall Classic’s 10 Greatest Moments

Of course we could all speculate on the greatest moments in World Series history.

But as you will see, I’ve taken moments from many different eras and tried to compile what I believe to be some of the World Series’ greatest moments.

Some may surprise you, and others were probably forgotten about.

Let’s take a look.

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