2009 ALDS Game 1: Offense, defense flounder 0-5

Anytime you get shut out in the playoffs, it isn’t good. The Angels got their first playoff shutout ever last night on the strength of a 7.1 inning, 4-hit start by John Lackey. The 6-6 horse came out looking good, and it wasn’t until the 6th inning until we got a chance to do something against him. When he allowed a two-out single to Dustin Pedroia and walked Victor Martinez on four pitches, I was sure that he was falling apart; give him credit, he came back and got Kevin Youkilis to end the threat.

UPDATE: Credit home plate umpire Joe West, rather. That was clearly a walk. I was actually getting from my car to my TV during that at-bat, and I just reviewed the GameDay data.

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2009 ALDS Preview: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Now that we’ve clinched our playoff berth as the AL wild card, it’s time to scout our competition. First up, the LAAoA. If that ain’t a mouthful. The Red Sox have owned them in the postseason, but they are not as weak as they were last year. Here’s a quick look at how we stack up side by side.

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Arguing balls and strikes: they’re no angels

For those of you who watched the Red Sox come back last night in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, I have to say, it’s pretty clear that we caught a break with Nick Green’s walk. So the Angels do have a legitimate beef, according to PITCHf/x. It hurts to lose a game like that, but I don’t know that it should have caused dissension or even fighting in the clubhouse. Now Brian Fuentes has come out and accused Boston fans of intimidating the umpires. That’s a little too much – even Angels catcher Mike Napoli hestitated to support his closer on that one. At least Torii Hunter had a better attitude about the whole thing; it’s not just that at-bat, but both teams had plenty of opportunities to put the game away earlier.

Not to jinx or anything, but given the way the Halos are playing against Boston and NY this year, I’m really not too worried about them, come playoff time.

2008 ALDS Game 1: Lester shines, 4-1

It was a well-pitched game by John Lackey, but a 2-run home run by Jason Bay would put the Sox ahead to stay. Welcome to the playoffs, Jason. Jon Lester settled down to throw seven strong innings, and the Sox pushed across two more runs against Scot Shields in the 9th to seal the deal. 1 game to none, Red Sox.

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15-7: Ellsbury, Pedroia lead in comeback win against the Halos, 7-6

On the first warm night in Fenway, David Pauley was called in to make an emergency start for Josh Beckett, who was pulled for “neck stiffness”. There isn’t much detail about how serious the injury is, but it is being said that Beckett has the flu bug that’s been going around. On a night when the Sox offense generated 7 runs on 16 hits and a walk, he was good enough that the Sox pulled it out yet again for their 6th straight win, 7-6.

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Red Sox have an offer on the table for Santana

Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press writes today that the Boston Red Sox have the leading offer for Johan Santana thus far. According to him, the Sox are offering four players for one guaranteed year of perhaps the best left-handed pitcher in the last decade. The purported deal would send Coco Crisp, Jon Lester, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson to the Twins in exchange for Santana. Part of the stipulations would be that the Sox get a window to try and negotiate a contract extension with Santana, who could be looking for 6 or even 7 years at $20-25M per season.

If this report is true, the Sox could acquire Santana without breaking up the big league club at all, no small feat. Lowrie is very talented, but with Julio Lugo locked up for three more years and Dustin Pedroia having five years until free agency, the middle infield looks to be set. Masterson had an awesome run in the middle of last season, but his ceiling is probably as a #3 starter. If this deal gets done, Boston could feature perhaps one of the best rotations from top to bottom in baseball history. Seriously. But don’t break out the champagne just yet. The Yankees are still in the bidding, mind you, so don’t be surprised if the Twins take this offer and go demand more from them. New York is in desperate need of a front-line starter (unlike us), and could give in to Minnesota’s demands. Theo Epstein is probably counting on this to happen.

Theo has set a deadline for the negotiations with Minnesota, and wants to try to get a deal done before the Winter Meetings on Dec 3. Minnesota made a six player blockbuster deal yesterday, and acquired a badly needed power prospect in Delmon Young. While Young is capable of playing center, the Twins are used to having Torii Hunter there, and could want a better defensive option, thus making Crisp desirable.

Twins’ Santana looks to be too pricey

It’s been a while, but as we gear up for the Winter Meetings next week, the Twins have named their asking price for two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana. After Santana declined their extension offer of 4 years and $80M, the Twins are trying to maximize their return on him before he walks. Santana does, however, hold a partial to full no-trade clause (conflicting reports on what it says exactly), so he likely has to approve of any trade. Imagine a rotation spearheaded by Santana, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. That top three could be legendary for a long time. There’s no question you would want to add a guy of his caliber, but the main question has been, how much would Santana cost to acquire?

John Heyman reports that Minnesota would want Jacoby Ellsbury AND either Clay Buchholz or Jon Lester in return for the prize lefty. From the Yankees, they are asking for Melky Cabrera and one of three pitching prospects: Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or Ian Kennedy. In my mind, Ellsbury holds an edge over Cabrera because of his speed, better defense and (most importantly) less service time.

From our perspective, that is definitely asking too much for only one guaranteed year of Santana. He is signed for 2008 at about $13M, but is expected to require at least 5 years at $20+ million after that in order to re-sign. If I were Theo, I’d have to consider trading one of these three players, but not two of them. If I had to choose one, I’d say that Lester is the most expendable. Since the Twins are trying to acquire a centerfielder to replace Torii Hunter, no doubt the Sox will try to offer them a package including Coco Crisp. I could maybe see a deal with Lester, Crisp and another prospect happening. Failing that, trading Ellsbury and a lesser pitching prospect would not be a bad option.

The good thing for us is that we are not desperate for pitching. Our league-best rotation from 2007 is still intact, so we are not under any pressure to make a move. But with the Yankees in the bidding, we have to at least have a seat at the table. Heyman also mentions that the Mets, Dodgers, Angels and Mariners have shown interest in trading for Santana.