ESPNBoston chats Red Sox-Angels
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPNBoston.com baseball writers Amy Nelson, Pedro Gomez and Chris Forsberg stop by to chat about the MLB playoffs and the Red Sox-Angels series.
Nelson will get the chat kicked off at 2:30 p.m. ET. Pedro Gomez chats at 3 p.m. ET and Forsberg finishes things off at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Send your questions now and join the chat Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET!
Amy K. Nelson (2:31 PM)
Hello, everyone. No idea if anyone is out there, but I'm fired up. It's beautiful out today, we're finally going to see a game, and baseball is on TV during the day. Cool.So if there are questions I'll take 'em, if not this will be the easiest 30 minutes on the job ...
Joe (Mansfield, MA)
Can't turn on sports radio without someone screaming and crying about the Red Sox can't throw out base stealers. How much are these people overstating this problem, given that stolen bases themselves are often overrated, that the Angels and Sox finished 3rd and 5th in the AL, and neither team is particularly good at it (Napoli can swing a nice bat, but he's no Molina brother behind the dish).
Amy K. Nelson (2:33 PM)
Joe,In talking to someone in the organiztion recently, it is a huge concern. That person said, you've seen the numbers, it's obvious. That being said, the refrain this week has come from the pitchers: Billy Wagner said, if we keep 'em off base, then it's not an issue. Easier said then done, obviously.
Rob B. (Worcester, MA)
What are your thoughts on the Red Sox shortstop position? Is Gonzalez going to be 100? Nick Green has dead leg, and Jed Lowrie is dealing with his injury still and hasn't played much. Is this position going to cause problems for the Sox?
Amy K. Nelson (2:36 PM)
Rob.I think that question was meant to ask, is Gonzalez going to be 100 percent? I think he will be close. He is probably the least of this team's concerns. What's more of a concern is the lack of depth on the bench, in particular the lack of infield depth.Jed Lowrie is still just not right, and while he says fielding doesn't cause him any pain, you've got to think that every time he dives for a ball and lands on his wrist, it can't be plesant. If there is a serious injury, then the Sox will have to turn to Gil Velzaquez, who was playing in the mexican winter league.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
How do the Angels deal with their bullpen issues in this series? Boston seems to have a distinct advantage in the later innings, especially with Wagner now in the fold.
Amy K. Nelson (2:38 PM)
This, I believe, is the biggest advantage Boston has in this series. Not only are there some doubts about Fuentes' ability to close it out in high pressure situation, but then Bulger has been battling injury. The loss of Scot Shields really hurts the Angels; as recently as a few weeks ago in Boston, manager Mike Scioscia wasn't comitted, it seemed, to Fuentes closing all the time, he seemed to be playing more to matchups, but that's not the case as much anymore. It will be fascinating to see it unfold over the next few days...
eric (oak harbor, wa)
why haven't epstein and co. addressed the issue of lack of depth in the infield? if this comes back to haunt them, such as velzaquez being forced to play due to injury and the sox lose the series, how mad do you think these red sox fanatics will get?
Amy K. Nelson (2:42 PM)
Eric,It might just be you and me on this chat today man...So I have to admit, I haven't asked Theo that question at all, and not sure if many others have. I know Gonzalez and his play has sort of masked the problem to some extent; he's so solid back there. In fairness, Nick Green's injury developed in the last two weeks of the season, when it's all but impossible to do much in terms of help. So that, for sure, is part of the problem...
Brian (N. Quincy, MA)
Amy, I was wondering why Daisuke has not been named the Game 4 starter? I mean there is no way they come back with Lester even if it is an elimination game, right? Also, what is the status with Wakefield? Is he done for the season?
Amy K. Nelson (2:44 PM)
Because if it's an elimiation game then they will bring Lester back. Francona has already said that. As for Wakefield, he wouldn't be here i don't think if he was still holding out hope that he could maybe be on the next round's roster. He's already told some of my colleagues he'd have suergery right away if he knew his season was over. And for good reason, he seems to be in quite a bit of pain.
Sir Varge (Ipswich)
Amy where can I get a Gil Velazquez Red Sox jersey?
Amy K. Nelson (2:44 PM)
in the Mexican winter league?
Amy, I saw on your twitter that you were at the workouts this week. In talking to the players and coaches, who seems to be more confident about this series, the Angels or Red Sox?
Amy K. Nelson (2:46 PM)
Theo,I don't like to read into that much, because going into the last series between the Twins and White Sox last year I would have told you there would be no way the White Sox would pull it off. There seemed to be a lot of strife in the clubhouse and yet they won that play-in game, so it's very tough to tell. Most people would have said the Red Sox had no confidence after going down 0-3 in '04, yet we all know what happened there...
Amy, which games, if any, will Varitek catch?
Amy K. Nelson (2:48 PM)
We don't know yet. Varitek said yesterday he himself had no idea. It's a strange situation, for sure ... I think we might have answers today when we get to the park about who will be catching Beckett. If the Red Sox lose today, I would expect Martinez to catch tomorrow because they will need his bat.
Are the Sox already in Lackey's head?
Amy K. Nelson (2:49 PM)
I think John Lackey is the last player you have to worry about. He is hard core; Lackey really doesn't care what anyone thinks of him and he said yesterday he didn't have to answer for reasons why maybe some of his teammates don't rise to the occasion.
I think the Sox have the advantage for the simple fact that the Angels have it in their heads that they cannot beat this team in the post season. what do you think?
Amy K. Nelson (2:51 PM)
I know that's a trendy topic, but again, I don't know. When Torii Hunter seemed to reference it a few weeks ago in Boston, I gave it some credence, but I think the players in particular hate these questions. I do know, though, that if the Angels lose tonight, it will be recycled and you have to think it might have some sort of impact on some of them ...
Amy K. Nelson (2:52 PM)
I just re-read my answer and that was terrible. Do over. OK, let's try again. I think that on some sort of level it will creep into their minds, especially if they lose tonight. But for others, like Hunter, like Lackey, I don't think it ever really affects them. That's just their makeup. THey get angry and just want to go out and beat Boston, not wallow and wonder why they can't.
Joe (Redwood City, CA)
Was Baldelli going to get some starts against LHP this series, or was the plan for JD to start all the way? How much of an impact will his absence have?
Amy K. Nelson (2:54 PM)
Could be very big. Francona even said he knows how important Baldelli's bat would be, especially when the team goes home to face kazmir and Saunders, both of whom Baldelli has great numbers against.Baldelli knows it too. last week he was telling me how well he does against them and anticipated being on the roster because of it. But that was before he was injured.
Jay (Burlington VT)
What are your thoughts on shortening the season 8pm starts in either NY or Boston at the end of October will not be pretty
Amy K. Nelson (2:56 PM)
Don't get me started! no one likes to hear media members complain, and I don't blame you, but it affects not jsut us, but fans at home too. I know Selig has tried to institute changes but I had a few players make a great suggestion:For instance, if the world series is being played by teams that are not on the west coast, then play them earlier, no need to start so late. Have some flexibility with the times depending on who is playing. But with TV controlling the process to much, it will be hard to affect much change.
G (Newcastle, UK)
Amy, how much do you think the Red Sox will miss Baldelli's bat off the bench?
Amy K. Nelson (2:57 PM)
Amy, have they declared the lineups for tonight? If so, do you know the Sox lineup?
Amy K. Nelson (2:58 PM)
Not for Boston yet. We'll get that when we go to the park.
Richard (Charlotte, NC)
Do think the Wagner deal was good for the Sox or is it another Gagne mistake, your take on this please
Amy K. Nelson (2:59 PM)
I don't see how that's even a legitimate question. Wagner has pitched well, for a guy who's 38 and a year removed from TJ ... and even he said, don't compare me to Eric Gagne, nor should we. I think he's exceeded expectations, considering no one really knew what to expect and that his next pitch could be his last.
Great article on Gonzo. Breaks your heart.
Amy K. Nelson (2:59 PM)
Thanks very much. I have so much respect for him as a human being. Very sad.
Amy K. Nelson (3:00 PM)
Ok with that, I'm off. My esteemed colleague, Pedro Gomez, will follow me now and do a far better job, I'm sure. We'll be back with updates on ESPNBoston.com later in the day and I'll be tweeting from the park. Tonight, we'll be doing a chat thorughout the entire game so check it out. Thanks
Pedro Gomez (3:02 PM)
Hi everyone. Just got here.
Who is more important to their respective lineup: Ellsbury or Figgins?
Pedro Gomez (3:04 PM)
I would say they're both huge, but I'd have to say Ellsbury because he's the one Red Sox player with blazing speed, whereas the Angels have several speedsters and can get by without Figgins.
SUNDAY GAME- Any idea what time it will start. I can't believe MLB/TBS hasnt announced. I guess it comes down to putting the most popular teams in prime time. THX
Pedro Gomez (3:05 PM)
Jay, it looks like the Pats may play a role in this. It's not finalized, but I'm hearing a noon Sunday start so they don't conflict with the Pats at 4.
Corey Gardiner (Waterville, ME)
Why is it that EVERY ESPN dude/dudette says the sox will give up too many stolen bases, thus losing. HELLO every team will be able to sleal off from Boston. If thats the deciding factor of the series than why go out and get martinez???P.S. Michelle your beautiful~~
Pedro Gomez (3:08 PM)
Corey, there are concerns over being able to stop the Angels from running because it could very well be a factor. But, like you say, it's not a big secret that Sox catchers didn't do well this season throwing out runners. In fact, they threw out less than 10 percent. But, it didn't stop them from winning 91 games.
Joel (Washington, D.C.)
Pedro, I know that this is looking way into the future, but do you see Wake coming back next year? I know his annual option is a bargain, but it seems like he just can't stay healthy for a full season.
Pedro Gomez (3:10 PM)
Joel,Wakefield definitely wants to come back. He will have surgery to alleviate the herniated disk in his lower back and will, in all likelihood, receive a contract offer to attend spring training and the club, and he, will see where he's at at that point. It will entirely be based on his performance in spring training whether he makes the club or not.
Mike Greenwell (New York)
Pedro, looking forward to the game tonight. I've a feeling that the Angels NEED Game 1... If they lose tonight... the past might start creeping into their minds... That said, who do you like tonight? Like your reporting by the way... and you may very well match/outdo Amy in chat capability... but you're going to have trouble matching those looks... Just saw her on an ESPN video interview... wow
Pedro Gomez (3:13 PM)
Mike,I can't argue on the looks department. I'm certainly no match for Amy. As for your question, the Angels probably need Game 1 more than the Sox. These clubs have played each other three times in the last five years and the Angels have never beaten the Sox in Anaheim during that time. 0-5 actually. Given that, and with Beckett slotted for Game 2, tonight is probably huge for the Angels
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Pedro, who do you think will come through as a positive "surprise" in the series?
Pedro Gomez (3:14 PM)
Keep an eye on Billy Wagner. He's been throwing around 96 and looks like the old Billy Wagner. He also pitched back-to-back games, a first since his elbow surgery.
Pedro, any idea if Lowell will play each game? They could play him at 3rd in games 1
Pedro Gomez (3:16 PM)
marc,Barring a setback with his hip, the Sox would love to have Lowell play every game. They love his clutch hitting and run production. They haven't made a decision on whether Varitek will catch any games. If so, that could mean one game out for Lowell since Youkilis would move to third base and Victor Martinez to first.
Noon on Sunday? 9 AM in LA?
Pedro Gomez (3:17 PM)
That's not written in stone. Just what I've overheard as the possibility.
Hey Amy, Very excited about playoff baseball as well. one quick question. Anymore info on why Rocco Baldelli was left off the Sox playoff roster? Thanks.
Pedro Gomez (3:18 PM)
Jay, Pedro here, not Amy.The reason is the Sox don't feel comfortable about Rocco's health right now. He suffered the hip flexor injury over the past weekend and didn't make it back on the field. They can't go into a playoff series with a 24-man roster. They felt more comfortable with Brian Anderson as their right-handed bat off the bench.
Mike Greenwell (New York)
This time next year... will Figgins be suiting up in the ALDS for the Sox? Red Sox that is...
Pedro Gomez (3:19 PM)
While no one knows for sure, this is probably doubtful. Lowell is still under contract for 2010.
Hey Pedro! Why is Tito going with the youngster over Dice-K in Game 3? I mean I like the kid and all but he has a tendency to fall apart every so often, and Zaka has pitched well recently. Is there something the skipper knows that we don't?
Pedro Gomez (3:21 PM)
RJ,Clay has probably earned the right to get this start. Dice was hurt for all those months and just came back and he was definitely impressive against the Yankees a few weeks ago. Mostly, they have more of a track record with Buchholz in 2009 than they do with Dice.
Justin (Madison NJ)
What are the chances of a red sox yankees ALCS? and if so how many games do you see it going? Im feeling 7.
Pedro Gomez (3:25 PM)
Justin,Well, Vegas certainly agrees since both of these clubs are favored to meet in the LCS. If so, it just seems like seven games would be in the stars, at least the baseball stars.
Mig Granger (Minneapolis)
Should we expect to see a dominant Beckett for game 2 or will he resemble his late season decline?
Pedro Gomez (3:26 PM)
If his postseason track record is any indication, I would expect the dominant Beckett. He has won six straight playoff games, which is just two short of the MLB record of eight by El Duque.
Wyatt Ronan (South Egremont, MA)
Pedro, I find it hard to believe that Jason Varitek is remotely satisfied with Boston's catching situation. Do you think he will catch Beckett in Game 2, and if so who will sit out? Lowell, Youkilis, or Ortiz? Also I know Varitek or the club has an option for after the season, do you think either side will extend Varitek's contract?
Pedro Gomez (3:29 PM)
Whatt,Varitek may not like what's happening, but he's such a professional that he has not shown any dissatisfaction. He's actually sat down with Victor and helped him with Boston's pitchers. that's just to underscore what a pro Jason is. Don't be surprised if it's Martinez and not Varitek in Game 2, that's why they allowed Martinez to catch Beckett in his last two starts. As for next year, neither side can stop the other from the option. If the Sox pick up the option, they owe Jason $5 million. If Jason picks it up, he gets $3 million. It will all come down to whether Jason wants to come back in what could be a reduced role.
Since Baldelli did not make the ALDS roster due to an injury, it is possible that we could see him replacing Anderson on the roster for game 3 if he is healthy by then, assuming Anderson gets a bump or bruise? The Game 3 and 4 starters are lefties who Baldelli hits very well.
Pedro Gomez (3:31 PM)
Mark,Possible, but very doubtful. MLB would not look kindly to a "bump or bruise" suddenly flaring. It would have to be a legitimate injury. Given that, if Anderson was taken off the roster during the series, the Sox would automatically lose him for the LCS. MLB rules proibit a player from playing in the next series if they are taken off the previous series. Can't imagine the Sox would take that chance.
Pedro Gomez (3:32 PM)
All, thanks for the questions. Enjoy tonight's game. I know I will. Take care.
Chris Forsberg (3:34 PM)
Greetings everyone. Having been staked to an eight-run lead by All-Stars Nelson and Gomez, I'm here for mop-up duty. Not sure what's left to ask, but let's get some quality Gil Velazquez talk going as we wait for the Red Sox and Angels to (finally) play some baseball tonight.Remember to join us for tonight's in-game chat. Plenty of special guests and expert opinions on tap. Drop by our new Red Sox blog around game time to dive into that.Let's dive in.
Niko (Los Angeles)
Amy, Sox fan here. Wondering why B. Anderson, rather than Reddick is on the playoff roster.
Chris Forsberg (3:35 PM)
I'm guessing playoff experience played a part. Not that Anderson has a ton, but he did appear in the ALDS last season with Chicago. As we've all heard plenty of times this week, experience is important in the postseason.
Any idea what time Sunday's Sox Angels game will be??
Chris Forsberg (3:36 PM)
As long as it's not 4:05, everything is OK in Boston sports, right? Here's hoping it's an early start, but, as last I heard, MLB is keeping us all in limbo.
Chris Forsberg (3:37 PM)
Big game with Patriots vs. Broncos. I'd be stunned if they bumped up against each other. Speaking of which, if we run out of quality Sox talk, don't hesitate to send your Patriots questions to fill up this half hour.
Pedro do you think Beckett is upset that he's no longer looked at as the ACE of the Sox.
Chris Forsberg (3:39 PM)
Beckett's certainly a prideful man, so I'm sure he's a bit stung to be No. 2. But, let's face it, Jon Lester was absolutely brilliant late in the season. I think Beckett understands how important he can be in this series if he brings the typical Beckett postseason performance.
Alex Gauthier (North Smithfield, RI)
Why pick Anderson over Baldelli?
Chris Forsberg (3:40 PM)
I think Rocco just needs a bit more time to get healthy. If you're a team in the postseason, I think you're hoping your starters eat up most of those innings and you don't ever have to rely on a 4th or 5th outfielder.
Where are you in the first ever Bodies issue of ESPN the Mag?
Chris Forsberg (3:41 PM)
Wait, they ended up using the Chara shoot over me? Lame. No love for the new guy.
kevin (deerfield, IL)
Do you think this is varitek's last postseason with the red sox?
Chris Forsberg (3:43 PM)
If I remember right the Sox have a reasonable option ($5 million) on Varitek in 2010. So long as he's OK with a reduced role, I don't see why you don't consider bringing him back. Should be one of the more interesting offseason story lines for sure.
Hey Pedro, thanks for the info on Baldelli. I want to know how you stand on the World Series possibly ending in early November? I personally think that is football weather not baseball weather. Your take?
Chris Forsberg (3:45 PM)
Let's pretend the Red Sox make the World Series against Philadelphia. And it's a seven-game series stretching until Nov. 5. I predict we get a snow-out in one of those. But also think of the potential. Ortiz hits a home run and Fenway fans are chucking snow in the air a la Bruschi's interception. It's the pre-Winter Classic Classic.
chris great to see transition over to espn boston, are you going to be doing some of your high school sports reporting or is that left behind.
Chris Forsberg (3:47 PM)
Thanks for the kind words! I sure hope we sneak some high school sports into the mix. Sure, Massachusetts isn't the Texas and Florida's of the world, particularly when it comes to national recruits, but there's some amazing athletes in these parts. I hope I get to share a few of their stories here. And people are already salivating for an ESPN version of the Forsberg 5, no?
Chris Forsberg (3:49 PM)
Blah, I went and deleted a great question on why you should watch the Sox over the Bruins (hey, I'm a rookie chatter). Well, truth be told, I'd rather watch a hockey game than a four-hour baseball game, too. But, hey, it's postseason baseball! Get excited. I hate to compare the ALDS to a one-game playoff, but how much fun was that Twins-Tigers game. I think baseball should go to a 1-1-1 format instead of this 5-7-7.
Hey Pedro. Would you agree that the most important offensive players for the Red Sox this series will be Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Ortiz? I believe this since it is almost assumed that Martinez, Youkilis, and Bay will contribute and any production from Lowell, Drew, and Gonzalez at the bottom of the order is just additional support.
Chris Forsberg (3:50 PM)
Well put. I don't disagree with anything you say there. I'm interested to see if Ortiz can whip up any of that October magic. And we certainly remember how vital Ellsbury was in 2007.
Kevin (Milwaukee, WI)
What adjustments do you think the Sox will make in order to prevent the Angels from running?
Chris Forsberg (3:51 PM)
Besides keeping Varitek on the bench? ::rim shot:: I hope you're not suggesting throwing over to first more often. The first game that goes past 2 a.m., I'm swearing off baseball for good.
Chris Forsberg (3:52 PM)
I just wanted to add my thanks to Amy and Pedro for doing all the real work here. Honored just to follow them up.
keith barber (north attleborough)
do we know the start time for sunda's game yet?
Chris Forsberg (3:53 PM)
Kickoff at 4:15 p.m., baby! Potential flurries at Invesco for this one... Wait, not the game you were looking for?
If they dont bring wake back they're crazy.
Chris Forsberg (3:55 PM)
Can you even imagine a Red Sox team without Wakefield? It's like imagining a Patriots team that doesn't have some veteran linebacker come out of semi-retirement in November.
Troy (Huntington, WV)
To answer Kevin from Milwaukee.. The adjustment will be to not let them get on base! Haha.. Go sox
Chris Forsberg (3:56 PM)
Isn't that the truth. Walks could kill the Red Sox in this series. I think the Angels run on every chance they get. Should be fun to watch.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Chris, who do you think has the "most to prove" in this series?
Chris Forsberg (3:58 PM)
Has to be the Angels, right? Until they break this hex, the pressure will always be on them. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I feel like the Red Sox can play loose this entire postseason. No tremendous expectations on them.
There's a rumor going around that Tek is catching Game 2, can you confirm or deny? Is anything official yet?
Chris Forsberg (3:59 PM)
Nothing official, though it seems to make sense. You know Francona will not bench Varitek the entire series and if there's one game you want him in, it's catching Beckett.
bah weep (ma)
thoughts on the lucic deal?
Chris Forsberg (4:01 PM)
Bah Weep! Great deal, right? I love that he's already saying he wants to be a Bruin for life. If there was a cookie cutter mold for the type of player Bruins' fan most enjoy and want, he's it. Plus if we restore Fight Cub on ESPN Boston, Lucic will clearly be a familiar face in that feature.
Hey Chris, What happens if Drew goes down? Can we really put trust in Brian Anderson?
Chris Forsberg (4:02 PM)
Well, that's the thing. You really just gotta cross your fingers this time of year and hope you don't end up relying on your bench guys. I can't imagine why you'd even think J.D. Drew might get injured.
Do you feel that Beckett will be dominant against the Angels in game 2 as your counterpart Pedro does? The guy has given up 11 runs in 22 innings against the Angels with 4 in Game 3 last year.
Chris Forsberg (4:03 PM)
I'll drink the Kool-Aid. It's the postseason. He seems healthy (at least far more healthy than he was trying to carry the Sox in Tampa last year). I think it's more likely we see vintage Beckett.
John (Danvers, MA)
Hey Chris, I was wondering if anyone else has noticed that Brady hasn't been stepping into his throws? Any thoughts?
Chris Forsberg (4:05 PM)
We're in chat overtime, so it's no-holds barred now.... I don't see it. I think Brady has looked quite well moving in the pocket. I don't see any hesitation. He looks much, much more comfortable since the preseason. I think it's safe to put the knee talk behind us.
What up Chris! Who do you think has the edge in the Moss/Bailey match-up? And do you think that edge will be a factor?
Chris Forsberg (4:06 PM)
It'll be one of the key areas to watch. Moss wouldn't give Revis too much credit after the Jets game, blaming safety coverage for his quiet day. It'll be interesting to see if Denver locks Bailey in 1-on-1 coverage and tries to take away the underneath stuff to Welker.
Chris Forsberg (4:09 PM)
Alright, that's enough B.P. We gotta save some of this energy for tonight's sure-to-be-marathon live chat. Remember to drop by the Boston Red Sox Blog on ESPN Boston for all the festivities.
Chris Forsberg (4:10 PM)
Everyone get their naps in, stock up on snacks, and we'll see you around game time for all the fun.