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Thursday, June 24, 2004


A few nights ago, a couple of buddies and I went to watch the Lowell Spinners at the Vermont Expos. It was a horrible night for baseball – drizzle, a rain delay, and too many hungry mosquitoes. On the flip side, we watched some decent ball for $6, got a beer and a sausage (better than anywhere around Fenway) for $7 and a fifty-cent program (I can’t recall the last time I purchased something that is still in my possession that only cost fidie-cent.) It is certainly a bargain and the promos involving children really make this a fun evening for a fam. For the classic family of four, it is probably a better value and entertainment product than a crappy movie produced by the media moguls at the corporate owned multiplex (I really didn’t mean to jump on the soap box). As an added bonus, the crowd was treated to a couple of celebrities in attendance: the Logger and Martin St. Louis.

Now back to the game, the Spinners only had two prospects in the lineup: ninth round pick, Van Der Bosch leading off as the DH and starting pitcher, Swindle, taken in the fourteenth round.

In Van Der Bosch’s first appearance, he hit a double the opposite way on a low liner down the third base line early in the count. VD-B’s second and third at-bats were very unimpressive. Both were uneventful hits to the short stop early in the count for easy put outs. In all three at-bats, VD-B did not work himself into hitter’s counts and it appeared that he could not get around on the pitcher’s fastball. He is not a prototypical Red Sox hitter, at least in these three at-bats.

On the mound, Swindle is a southpaw with a side-arm delivery. The first thing that came to mind was future LOOGY. He dominated the three lefties in the Expos lineup. The trio went 1-for-5 with a single and three strikeouts.

Swindle kept all hitters off-balance with his changeup that consistently got batters out on their front foot. The changeup was his out pitch this evening. Perhaps, Swindle’s changeup was particularly good or no one in the Expos’ lineup had a clue, but a side-arm guy’s out pitch is usually a breaking ball/slider not a change up. It would be interesting to watch him in another outing to get a look at a breaking ball.

Swindle threw 50 pitches; 38 for strikes with five Ks, no walks or dingers. He is certainly a Red Sox type of pitcher that “pounds the strike zone.” Swindle was ON this night.

Of course, one night or one season is not a good barometer for determining a minor leaguer’s prospects in the Show. But it sure is interesting to watch and follow kids at the start of their pro careers that one day made determine the fate of a Nation; Red Sox Nation that is.

News and Notes

· Last night was a prime example of the risk inherent with groundball pitchers like DLowe, they can pitch well and balls still find holes that lead to runs.

· What’s in the water down in Tampa? I’ll be finding out shortly - going there this weekend - but the Rays should not convince themselves that they are contenders yet. The other Florida team, the Marlins, would make a good trading partner with the Rays. The Marlins could use an outfielder, short stop and a catcher. The Marlins are unlikely be able to deal for a catcher but Jose Cruz and Julio Lugo would be nice in Miami. The pair is only keeping the positions warm for B.J. Upton and Delmon Young. The Rays could use the number of pitching prospects in the Marlins system.

· Jason Grimsley was traded to the O’s for Denny Bautista, even though the Rays over took them in the standings. It looks like the two-headed GM monster is not giving up. As Rany and Rob on the Royals states In exchange for four months of a second-tier wormkiller in the bullpen – Grimsley has never had an ERA below 3 in his career – we get a Grade B pitching prospect…. Allard won’t get the credit he deserves for turning one of his lemons into a pretty sweet lemonade… If Allard makes out this well when trading the rest of the touchables, a return to respectability might come sooner than I thought possible. The trade gets even more shocking. Jason Stark of ESPN.com reports that they signed him to a one-year extension before announcing the deal.

· If the reports were true regarding the crap Jose Contreras’ family was dealing with, then I am glad they are out of harms way. Hopefully, Contreras reuniting with his family will be an even bigger distraction.

· Kevin Brown (strained lower back) definitely will not pitch this weekend, as Torre found out his starter probably won't conduct a bullpen session until Friday. Initially, he believed Brown would possibly toss yesterday and tomorrow.Brown may be on track to face the Sox in next week’s series.

· Leskanic is certainly a better option in the pen than baked mAlaskan but he should not be used in high leverage/close games. His walk rate throughout his career has been close to terrible. The Sox need another southpaw in the pen like Buddy Groom, B.J. Ryan (my favorite), or Mike Myers.

· If the Royals still think all offers are insufficient, Baird contends the club is willing to gamble on getting compensatory draft picks when Beltran signs with another team after the season…The gamble centers on whether Beltran signs before the Dec. 7 deadline for a team to offer arbitration to its own players who become free agents. Since the Royals don't plan to offer arbitration, they won't get any draft picks if Beltran signs after the deadline. – The "gamble" should not be when Beltran signs with another club because the Royals should offer him arbitration regardless. Beltran will not accept the Royals offer because he will loose out on millions by not signing a large multi-year deal. Baird should have no fear in Beltran busting his budget by accepting arbitration. The “gamble” is Baird and his staff’s ability to make the right picks or investments (the average first round bonus is around $1.75 million) with multiple first round selections. The above scenario is going to be academic anyway. Beltran will be traded; Baird’s statement is just to increase his leverage.

· A scout’s take on Dioner Navarro, the likely centerpiece of any big MFY trade: There's sure a lot of hype on that guy, but I still have a lot of reservations," said one scout. "Physically, he's got the tools. No question about that. But he doesn't do a lot of things instinctively that I like to see in a catcher. If the mental makeup connects with the physical tools, they've got a good player. But to be honest, the more I've seen him, the less I like him."


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