March 2, 2008


Bosox stand pat, but get better (Richard Griffin, Mar 02, 2008, Toronto Star)

"We have the same team in name, but you look and we're going to get bigger production from (Jacoby) Ellsbury, (Clay) Buchholz, (Jon) Lester," Francona said. "The guys that came up near the end of the year, they have a chance to shoulder a little bit of the load for us. They're young guys that understand how to play, so it works pretty well." [...]

Along with post-season ace Josh Beckett, the returning Tim Wakefield and prized youngsters Buchholz and Lester, it will be the second Bosox year for Japanese star hurler Daisuke Matsuzaka. He should be more comfortable. The team and the pitcher both learned from his roller-coaster rookie experience. The Sox are backing off. They won't force him to change training habits to be like the other pitchers. Instead, they will allow him to go back to things he was successful with in Japan.

"What he wants to do is take the best of both worlds and I'm okay with that," said Francona, who recently received a three-year contract extension. "We don't expect him to do everything like we do in America. He didn't grow up that way. There are some things that we have asked him to do. The shoulder program, that's important. But as far as the amount of throwing, the way he does his running ... we just want him to be the best he can, so we don't get too rigid."

A 13-win deficit is a lot for the Jays to catch up against a Boston team that blends veterans and youngsters so effectively. Perhaps it's better the Jays set their sights on the Yankees and the wild card. That should be their target.

Just keeping ahead of the Rays is a worthy goal, though not realistic in the longer term.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 2, 2008 7:28 AM
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