Links: Some more Papi reading and trade rumors analysis

The David Ortiz conundrum is reaching national status. His eyes checked out, so there’s not many reasons left for his decline. Either he’s way older than we thought, or there’s something wrong with his head. Last night’s long homer and the seven game hitting streak notwithstanding, we still have to have some doubt as to when and how much Papi will rebound. Here’s one exit strategy, given by Craig Calcaterra at THT.

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2008 Offseason: Free agents of interest

The Red Sox have some needs to address, but it appears that their roster and stable of near Major League-ready talent doesn’t have a lot of space right now. Thus, it seems that a trade is the most likely route this offseason; nevertheless, here is what is potentially available on the free agent market (links point to all recent MLB Trade Rumors articles tagged to that player). We’ll start with two of the bigger names, then focus on the Red Sox needs for any potential good fits.

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Pedroia, Sox romp in Bowden’s debut

With injuries decimating the Sox lineup, Boston showed its positional depth and flexibility yesterday. Dustin Pedroia could get used to this whole cleanup hitter thing. The 5-9, 180 lb Pedroia went 4-4 with a walk in his first start in that role, moving himself into 1st place in the AL batting race. Pedey will fill the number 4 hole again today against Gavin Floyd.

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Todd Jones picks the Angels to win it all

Wow, I’m having trouble finding people who will say that they’ll take the ALDS, much less the World Series. If they manage to plow through Boston and the Yankees with an ailing roster, they deserve to win it all. But Mr. Jones’ reasons aren’t terribly convincing, in my book:

My pick to win the pennant, however, is the Angels. They have the best team. Notice I said team. They hit, pitch and play defense. They’re like an N.L. team with a DH. Two of their speedier guys, Reggie Willits and Chone Figgins, are like David Eckstein times two. They get on base for the aircraft carrier who is Vlad Guerrero. This guy can hit when he’s sleeping. Their bullpen is deep, and K-Rod already has a ring.

Every time he mentions the Angels, you could substitute Red Sox in there and it would be true, maybe even more true. As the saying goes, “Anything you can do, we can do better.” We actually have three speedy guys in Jacoby Ellsbury, Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo. They have a combined 70 SB this season; Figgins and Willits’ total? 68. Our team leads the AL in OBP, and our #1 and #2 guys, Dustin Pedroia (.380) and Kevin Youkilis (.390), get on base more than Chone Figgins (.393) and Orlando Cabrera (.345). And if Vladimir Guerrero is an aircraft carrier, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are the whole North Atlantic Fleet. The key for them is they hit when they’re awake, not just in their dreams. And as deep as their bullpen is, ours is deeper and better, and Jonathan Papelbon is the top closer in the AL. Paps may not have a ring yet, but he’s itching to get one.

Look, the Angels are a good ballclub, and I still don’t think we can sweep them. But with the injuries they’re dealing with and down 0-1 with the way it went on Wednesday, it’s going to take a mammoth effort just to reach game 5.

ALDS Game 1: Sox continue to own Lackey

Steven Krasner has tonight’s lineup for us on the ProJo blog.

Pedroia 2b
Youkilis 1b
Ortiz dh
Ramirez lf
Lowell 3b
Drew rf
Varitek c
Crsip cf
Lugo ss

Beckett p

[Live blogging the game]

As I write, starter John Lackey is falling apart in the 3rd inning. The Red Sox have gone ahead 4-0 on two solo home runs by Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz, and an RBI single by Mike Lowell. The Sox have tallied 8 hits already, and the only reason this game is not over already is that Julio Lugo was called out at 2nd on a VERY questionable steal call to end the second, and J.D. Drew grounded into a double play to end the 3rd.

Josh Beckett is just in control; his fastball has been humming at 97-98 mph since the first inning, so you know he’s pumped. He just struck out Orlando Cabrera on a nasty pitch on the corner. His command is on, and I have yet to see even so much as a hard foul off of him thus far.

Mark it down, Sox lead this series 1-0.

[Session 2]

Here it is, 7th inning stretch, and Beckett’s only given up 2 hits and thrown 88 pitches. The way this is going, Beckett’s gonna go eight and Papelbon will finish it off just to intimidate them. The Angels got nothin’ all night, and if they keep up their horrible road play, this series is all but over. If the Sox get ahead like this, the Angels’ small ball tactics won’t be of much use to them.

The Halos are pretty banged up, but look for them to play Guererro anyway on Friday in order to get one better bat into the lineup. They’ll probably DH Juan Rivera.

Ervin Santana in the game now. Coco Crisp has made a couple of heads up reads in centerfield already tonight, more than making up for a weak 0-3 at the plate tonight.

[9th inning]

Never mind, Beckett’s out there throwing gas in the ninth. Can you say complete game shutout? That’s a nice way to start the playoffs, with a very nice running, sliding grab in left from Jacoby Ellsbury.

If Lackey wins the Cy Young over Beckett this year, I’m gonna puke.