June 23, 2006


Red Sox pick Cox closing teams out (Conor Nicholl, 6/22/06, MLB.com)

Bryce Cox faced a jam of epic proportions.

With Miami runners on first and third and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday night in the College World Series, Cox was set to face John Jay, the Hurricanes' best hitter.

"I was fired up," Cox said.

Protecting a precarious 3-2 Rice lead, Cox went right after Jay. The center fielder, batting over .360 for the Canes, quickly fell 0-1 on a slider low and inside. After a ball, Cox threw another mid-80s slider that bore in on lefty Jay's hands.

He fouled the ball straight down. Set up at 1-2, Cox tossed a 97-mph heater outside, before coming back in with another inside slider. Jay tried to check his swing, but couldn't hold up. Two outs.

Now facing Danny Valencia, the clutch cleanup hitter who hit a go-ahead grand slam for Miami in the Super Regional Final against Ole Miss, Cox unleashed another barrage of high-90s fastballs and mid-80s sliders. The best contact Valencia could muster was a foul tap down the third baseline.

Cox struck him out on a filthy 85-mph slider to preserve the victory and keep Rice in the drivers' seat.

"That last slider was the reason that I didn't have much of a career in the big leagues -- I couldn't hit it either," Owls head coach Wayne Graham said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 23, 2006 11:39 AM

Except the playoffs will feature the Blue Jays, the White Sox, the Tigers and the A's, so it won't matter what role he's playing if it's in Bawston.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 23, 2006 2:55 PM

If the Red Sox can sign most of the players they picked, it would likely be their best draft ever. I know they have a big budget for it.

Posted by: pj at June 23, 2006 2:56 PM

Of course it matters. 2006 isn't special.

Posted by: oj at June 23, 2006 3:01 PM

Hmm. Seems to me Sawx fans were saying the same thing about Hansen right around this tme last year. Plus ca change.

The only Cox who'll make a difference in the AL East this year is playing for Trenton right now.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 23, 2006 3:42 PM

"If the Red Sox can sign most of the players they picked, it would likely be their best draft ever. [Emphasis added]"

Other than perhaps Kansas City, for which team would that statement not apply?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 23, 2006 4:47 PM

Hansen's more than ready to close, Delcarmen too.

Posted by: oj at June 23, 2006 5:00 PM

Raoul - Most teams have a budget, talk to the prospects before the draft, and draft players they're confident they can sign within their budget, plus a group of hard signs intending to sign one-third. If one signs, they rescind offers to the others so as to stay within budget. The Red Sox approached this draft with an 8-figure budget for signing bonuses. For most teams, it's one-third that. So the Red Sox may be planning to lay out enough money to sign most if not all of their picks. And they drafted a lot of hard signs - about a dozen players looking for first- or second-round money, and more for third-round money.

oj - I don't think there's any way they're converting Papelbon to a starter this year. You just can't stretch his arm out quickly enough, he's too valuable in the pen, and you've got a four-man playoff rotation in Schilling, Beckett, Wakefield, and Lester. As Jim says, Bryce Cox probably won't be available much -- they'll rest his arm, like they did with Hansen last year. But I do like the idea of moving Paps to a starting role in 2007.

Posted by: pj at June 23, 2006 8:44 PM

Hansen, ready to close?

His peripherals at Pawtucket say otherwise.

19 walks in 28 innings? Yikes. Gotta love that 19/20 bb/k ratio tho.

Please Mr. Francona, make Hansen your closer, and while your at it, return Coco Chanel to leadoff.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 23, 2006 9:26 PM

Aren't you tired yet of getting this stuff wrong?

Beckett looks great. Manny's hatting you. Gonzo is blowing Hanley's doors off. Loretta and Lowell have been tremendous. Lester looks like a #2 or #3 starter. The bullpen is getting younger even as it pitches better... They're in a transition year and in first. Not bad.

Posted by: oj at June 23, 2006 10:08 PM

Manny's living off his walks, and his obp compared to his ba is running way above his career norm. Once that comes back to earth, I'll have a brand new Yankee cap -- better get me the 2006 world champion version.

Beckett?!? snort. He's just got his e.r.a below 5. Congratulations.

Gonzo? Well, if he had enough at-bats to qualify -- which he doesn't b/c the Sawx, realizing the disaster he is at the plate, have essentially been platooning him with another stud, Alex Cora, the G-man would 172 out of 180 players in mlb in ops. Impressive.

Loretta? .729 ops. Slightly higher than I'd expected. I would've said around .700, which is where he'll probably finish the season. He's riding an absurdly hot May. Can't see why you're bragging about that ops tho. If he was on the Yanks, he'd be carrying Robby Cano's bags to the team bus for him.

The bullpen? Completely reliant on Pamplemousse. Who, as you correctly note, should be starting if the Sawx had any other options.

Lester? 3 starts. 2 wins against 2 of the weaker hitting teams in baseball, a very mediocre performance against one of the best hitting teams. Still anything's an improvement over what you've been getting from the bottom of your rotation.

What does that leave? Oh, right. Lowell having a good season, so I missed one.

I agree it is a transition year for the Sawx, and they should be happy to finish 3rd behind the Yanks and Jays. Problem is, all you Sawx fans have been talking about this team as if it's capable of winning the AL east and doing something in the playoffs.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 23, 2006 10:33 PM

Meanwhile Philip Hughes celebrated his 20th birthday -- it's tomorrow -- by pitching a no-hitter for 7 innings, finishing with 1 hit, 2 walks, and 10 strikeouts through 8. That's what a quality young arm looks like.

Be afraid Sawx fans, be very afraid. You'll be seeing this kid in September, once the rosters open up and the Yanks have put some breathing room between themselves and the Jays -- sorry Raul.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 23, 2006 10:41 PM

Defense...Pitching...David & Manny is all it takes. The Yankees have none of the above. The Blue Jays might actually be the best team in the East.

Here's Manny's pace before tonight's monster game:

On Pace BOS 537 96 154 42 105 126 0 0.2868 0.4215 0.5624

Posted by: oj at June 23, 2006 10:46 PM

They're trading Hughes for Jacque Jones as you speak.

Posted by: oj at June 23, 2006 10:46 PM

Steinbrenner in the end won't trade Hughes for Jacque Jones, it would cause too many fans to have heart attacks, they've all fallen in love with Hughes. The Yanks are more likely to give up on this season than make that trade.

Posted by: pj at June 23, 2006 11:29 PM

It won't be Hughes, but George has decided they have to have Jones, so they'll get him.

Posted by: oj at June 23, 2006 11:42 PM

Hey! Inside baseball! For real!

Posted by: jgm at June 24, 2006 2:09 AM

Prer Manny you'll notice that even those numbers only come out to .986 ops, below his usually 1.000 + std (tho last night's feast on the Phillies crap pitching changed that). And only 30 pts higher then the cut-off for our bet. 30 pts that'll be made up when his abnormally high obp compared to b.a. comes down.

(That's a low blow bringing up Jaque Jones. I don't think the Yanks'll pull the trigger on that trade tho, even if its for a bag of baseballs and a sixer of Milwaukee's Best. 2 years ago maybe, today, not. I hope.)

For the record, I like the way the Sawx are going with the kids. And I look forward to the new gen of Yanks and Sawx competing at a high level. I'm just less impressed with Lester and Hansen than Sawx fans are. Tho I do think Youkilis should've been given an everyday job about 2 years ago. I like him almost as much as I like Nick Johnson, who was my fav Yankee prospect for a long time, and who's near the top in baseball in terms of ops this season.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 24, 2006 12:21 PM

He's coming off the longest hitless stretch of his career which lowered the BA and Ortiz has been cold for weeks while they've battled rain almoist every series. It'll get hot soon and so will those two. Bragging about how little you're losing your bet by is the epitome of the loser mentality.

Posted by: oj at June 24, 2006 12:27 PM

Make my hat the world champion 2006 model.

(Just read that you lot are checking out Jeff Weaver. Man, will he ever be great at the Fens. Being a Yankee fan this season is fun, fun, fun.)


Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 24, 2006 1:00 PM

That's the point btw. Manny's having a lot of long hitless streaks this season, no? Started off cold. And his b.a. last year wasn't quite up to stnd, was it?

You're only shot is the fact that the Sawx finish w/ Baltimore. Manny'll have to hit about 6 homers in that series to win, since the rest of September he'll be facing the likes of NY and Minnesota.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 24, 2006 1:04 PM

No. He had one, during a particularly tough trip for the Sox.

He hit .292 last year. He's at .296 now. He's slugging over his career avg though. Summer's coming and he'll heat up, but, more importantly, Ortiz will.

Posted by: oj at June 24, 2006 1:09 PM

Jim in Chicago:

Any link to the Red Sox want Jeff Weaver story? My dad is a Yankees fan from way back and I'd send that to him just for the considerable laugh potential.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at June 24, 2006 6:20 PM