NEW YORK -- Greetings from Yankee Stadium, where Game 1 of the ALCS will take place tonight.
It's still very weird to see 2004 Red Sox hero Derek Lowe wearing pinstripes in October.
"They gave me a chance and I took it," Lowe said as he wiped champagne out of his eyes after the game on Friday night. "I'm grateful for the opportunity. I never expected I'd be playing for the Yankees."
Lowe, who is from Michigan, is excited about facing the Tigers in the ALCS.
"A ticket nightmare," he said, "but really fun."
A few other thoughts and observations:
- CC Sabathia went nine innings and 121 pitches on Friday and had Joe Girardi tried to take the ball from him, he would have had a fight on his hands.
"That's what I'm here for. That's what I play the game for. I guess I should feel a little pressure or something like that, but I don't," Sabathia said.
The Yankees spent a lot on Sabathia but they also did their homework and knew that his personality could handle New York and all that comes with being a centerpiece player.
This is where the Red Sox fail so badly, spending money on free agents who either can't handle the spotlight or don't care to.
Players pick teams based almost entirely on money. It's up to the teams to be smart about how they spend it. Guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and John Lackey never grasped that their contracts also came with a responsibility not to complain, roll your eyes or leave it to others to set the tone. Sabathia gets that.
- Hearing a lot of people say that it doesn't matter who the Red Sox select as manager, fixing the roster is more important. Two words: Buck Showalter. There are times the manager can make all the difference.
- Based on the feedback from fans, John Farrell would not be a universally popular choice as manager given his rocky two years in Toronto. But the Red Sox require somebody who can maneuver through the maze of internal politics at Fenway Park and Farrell can do that.
- Red Sox starters this season: 48-72, 5.19 ERA, 1.42 WHIP. It's fashionable (and easy) to blame Bobby Valentine. But no manager was going to win with that wretched rotation. The Red Sox had Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka make 29 starts. They were 5-18 with a 6.51 ERA.
- Speaking of Valentine, turns out he was exactly right about Kevin Youkilis not being as good as he once was. He ended the season hitting .235/.336/.409 with a career-low 60 RBIs and only 15 doubles. Youkilis also had a -4.5 UZR at third base and ended up the season with a 1.3 WAR.
That said, Youkilis could be a very valuable player for a contender if used as a DH and first baseman and given enough days off.
- Rubby De La Rosa was in Boston on Monday to meet with team officials. The 23-year-old righthander was obtained from the Dodgers in August as a player to be named later. De La Rosa has tremendous potential and could make a run at a rotation spot in spring training.
- RHP Anthony Ranaudo, who pitched only 37.2 innings because of injuries, will play winter ball in Puerto Rico. The Red Sox invested $2.5 million to sign him in 2010 out of LSU.
- Maybe it's just me. But it seems telling Farrell hasn't said, "I do not want to be manager of the Red Sox." Until he does, you have to consider him as an option.
- Given all their shortstops (Jose Iglesias, Xander Bogaerts, Deven Marrero,
Jose Vinicio, Tzu-Wei Lin) the Red Sox would seem to have some trade chips.
- Bryce Brentz, who is playing in the Arizona Fall League, could take the same path Will Middlebrooks did to the majors: Look good in spring training, mash in Pawtucket for a few weeks then get a chance when an opening presents itself.
- Hope you are enjoying the playoffs. Even if your team finished last, it's hard not to appreciate how great the division series were. We'll have coverage of the ALCS, NLCS and World Series. Then the GM Meetings and hopefully a new manager. Plenty of baseball to come.