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Who is Jason Donald?

06.04.09 at 11:52 am ET
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Buster Olney reported today that in order for the Phillies to acquire Brad Penny, they would have to part with shortstop prospect Jason Donald. In case a deal comes to fruition, allow LEEInks to give you a head-start on who may be the Red Sox‘ next middle infielder.

Donald enetered this season rated the fourth-best prospect in the Phillies organization according to Baseball America. Here’s an excerpt from their 2009 Prospect Handbook:

“Considered an underachiever in college, Donald has overachieved as a pro. Was one of Team USA’s top players in the Olympics. Donald is an offensive player with a feel for hitting. He’s patient but aggressive, pouncing in hitter’s counts and pounding mistakes. He has excellent hands and strong forearms that produce average power to all fields, and he’s developing more pop to his pull side. He’s a solid, smart runner with an average arm. He prepares well and has excellent work habits. A mechanical fielder, Donald grades out as a below-average shortstop and likely won’t be a regular at the position in the majors. He should be average at second base. Donald doesn’t fit the classic third-base profile and may fit better as a super utility player.”

Donald was chosen in the third round out of Arizona in 2006. In a 2008 interview with the Washington Post, Donald explained that he will use the stiff competition he faced in college to his advantage in the majors.

Offensively, Donald has struggled this season for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. As of Thursday he is hitting just .234 with an OPB of .299 and one home run. This comes after an impressive season in Double-A in which he hit .307 with 14 homers and .391 OBP for the Reading Phillies.

Should he be part of a deal to the Sox, Donald wouldn’t be new to Massachusetts baseball. A member of the Cape Cod League in 2004, Donald hit just .206 for the Cotuit Kettleers.

Donald has been a part of trade rumors multiple times since joining the Phillies organization. As recent as last December he was rumored to be headed to Minnesota in exchange for outfielder Delmon Young, who just a year earlier cost the Twins Matt Garza.

Read More: brad penny, jason donald,

Thursday Morning LEEInks

06.04.09 at 9:39 am ET
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Good morning everyone and welcome to Thursday morning’s edition of LEEInks. There’s a good amount to cover, from recapping last night to preparing for tonight’s NBA Finals.

As far as Wednesday night went, it was all about one man: Josh Beckett. In probably his best start in the last two seasons, Beckett carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. (By the way, what was with Dennis Eckersley saying “no-no” every other word? So much for that old NESN commercial about Remy and Orsillo not jinxing pitchers…)

The game featured more than just Beckett strikeouts (he totaled nine through seven and two-thirds innings). Viewers saw great acting from Sox shortstop Nick Green on a play in which he was interfered with by Tigers starter Armando Galarraga. My personal favorite had to be when Gerald Laird tried breaking up the no-no with a bunt in the sixth inning. Sure, it was interesting because Beckett hit Laird his next time up, but I liked it best because I was compelled to rewind and count how many times Eck said, “I don’t like that/I don’t like players who do that.”

(It was five times. God bless Dennis Eckersley and the DVR.)

Bunting to break up no-hitters has long been a faux pas in baseball. Then-Diamondbacks pitcher Curt Schilling was a victim of Ben Davis in 2001, as the Padres catcher broke up Schilling’s perfect game with an eighth-inning bunt.

Thunderstorms in D.C. have pushed back Randy Johnson‘s quest for 300 until 4:35 p.m. today. Want an insider’s take on the Big Unit? Look no further than WEEI.com’s Curt Schilling.

Last night also saw a trade of a potential Sox target. While Nate McLouth was never rumored to be on Boston’s radar, he could have been a nice fit at the right price. The Braves gave up a package that included their third-best outfield prospect, according to Baseball America, in Gorkys Hernandez as the centerpiece. Also sent to Pittsburgh in the deal were right-hander Charlie Morton and Conway, N.H., native Jeff Locke.  Could the Sox have trumped their offer? Almost certainly. Why didn’t they? Time will tell, but if McLouth starts hitting for average in Atlanta this could be seen as a pre-deadline steal.

Speaking of the Braves, Tom Glavine was released yesterday in a surprising move. Buster Olney explains why the Billerica native deserved better by drawing comparison’s to Ken Griffey, Jr.‘s situation in Seattle.

Tonight also begins the first of at least four games that will not feature a Kobe-LeBron matchup. Oh well, NBA fans will just have to settle for the league’s two best teams. While rummaging through what the web is offering going into Game 1, I came across this interesting LA Times article on how many more cracks Kobe will have at a title.

A great deal has been made about Kobe Bryant‘s inability to win a title without Shaquille O’Neal. Rather than inquiring about his rear-end’s flavor, a certain someone is pulling Kobe.

As for the Finals, SI’s Ian Thomsen breaks down what each team needs to do to win. Note the emphasis on Pau Gasol, who had all he could handle last year with the Celtics.

In keeping with basketball, Kevin Garnett doesn’t expect Dwight Howard to be back in the Finals any time soon. According to C’s owner Wyc Grousbeck, KG recently guaranteed that the Celtics will get banners 18 and 19 in ’10 and ’11, respectively. Let’s hope he fares better than Mo Williams did last week.

Lastly, yesterday saw the retirement of Patriots safety Rodney Harrison. Harrison will now begin his broadcasting career with NBC. Colleague Greg Cameron put the hard-hitter’s career in perspective while Chris Price compiled Harrison’s greatest hits (surprisingly, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” isn’t on there).

That’s all for this morning, enjoy the Sox and NBA Finals.

Read More: Dennis Eckersley, Josh Beckett, NBA Finals,

And a Designated Hitter, if you have one

06.03.09 at 4:11 pm ET
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Which would make for a funnier lede: comparing David Ortiz to Ed Sprague or comparing him to Mark Lemke? Considering Lemke’s .187 average with the Sox is better than what Ortiz is doing now, I’m going with Lemke.

That’s right, just six days after writing a LEEInks entry that suggested they bronze Jacoby Ellsbury’s cleats and send them to Cooperstown (his hitting streak was broken hours later), I am officially writing the “they’ve got to do something about Ortiz” entry.

This isn’t exactly a ground-breaking entry, I know. There have been conspiracy theories and potential solutions to Boston’s DH problem since the early stages of Papi’s slump. Here are a few that I find most interesting.

Bleacher Report has a pretty interesting piece that questions whether or not booing Ortiz would be beneficial to the Sox and their struggling slugger. At first thought the idea seems ridiculous, but just remember that Yankee Stadium booed Derek Jeter out of his ’04 slump.

Bill Simmons writes in ESPN: The Magazine that Ortiz may be lying about his age. I know, I know: Feeding the Monster said that Theo and Bill James looked into that before they signed him. Simmons has it covered. Damn sports guy.

Meanwhile, the rumors continue to swirl regarding who the Sox might acquire to solve the DH problem for at least the rest of the season. In all honesty, has anyone heard of a potential deal they would like the Sox to do? Victor Martinez would command too much, Jeff Francoeur might be the hitting equivalent of Daisuke Matsuzaka as far as being frustrating to watch goes, and here’s the latest one: Corey Hart. People like him for his speed, but if you ask me (I know, you didn’t), the guy’s little more than a Wily Mo Pena impersonator at the plate. All power, no average.

Then there’s the questing of what should happen to Ortiz himself. The airwaves and blogosphere seem to be taking a liking to the idea of sending him down to the minors, but the idea of Ortiz failing to produce at Triple-A is probably scarier than him not hitting major-league stuff.

Bottom line, if there’s a solution out there, it hasn’t surfaced yet. Until it does, it would be shocking to see Theo take the wrong deal for the wrong guy. Your thoughts, Red Sox Nation?

Revs Returning To Form

06.03.09 at 2:14 pm ET
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With the excitement still buzzing at the Patriots organized team activities at Gillette Tuesday over the return of a certain quarterback, another homecoming was being celebrated on the Revolution practice fields about 100 yards away.

Taylor Twellman participated in his first practice since playing in the Revs 2-1 win over D.C. United the previous weekend, a game in which Twellman gained the penalty that set up the game-winning goal in the 90th minute. Twellman had not played with the Revs since the previous Oct. 25 after suffering severe whiplash symptoms from a blow to head in a game on Aug. 30 by former LA Galaxy goalkeeper Steve Cronin. The Revs certainly felt the sting of Twellman’€™s absence breaking a six-game winless streak the night he came back. After his first practice Tuesday, he said he felt pretty good.

‘€œObviously, [I’m] a little off fitness-wise and fatigue, but it;s nice being back,’€ the forward said. ‘€œIt’€™s going to be on a day to day basis. Sixty-five minutes was a lot extremely fast. You have the stimuli of the crowd and the first game going so we will see how it goes but it’€™s not going to be a full 90 for a while.’€

While Twellman’€™s return was the most notable, the Revs injury report seems to be dwindling as of late. Defender Chris Albright was upgraded from ‘€œOut’€ to ‘€œDoubtful’€ recovering from surgery on his left knee to repair the lateral meniscus in mid-April. Head coach Steve Nicol said Albright will most likely join the team full time in practice today or Thursday and is hoping to be in the game on Sunday at Gillette against the New York Red Bulls. Gabriel Badilla (bulging disc) and Mauricio Castro (hamstring strain) are still listed as ‘€œOut,’€ but participated in running and stretching drills during practice.

‘€œI think we are focusing on consistency,’€ said midfield Shalrie Joseph. ‘€œIt’€™s all about getting our healthy bodies back. With Taylor back this past week and Matt (Reis) missing a few games it has all about trying to stay healthy and get in that rhythm with the 11 guys that started the game and starting to build the cohesiveness and that unit that we had a few years back.’€

The Revs are prepared for its first back-to-back home series of the season and are hoping to continue the momentum against the Red Bulls on Sunday, the last place team in the Eastern Conference. The Revs are 8-1-3 against New York at Gillette.

‘€œWe do have a couple of games in hand on some teams and were getting players back all the time,’€ Nicol said. ‘€œIf we keep picking up points at the same time we’€™re in a good position to make a challenge.’€

King James or a Stubborn Prince?

06.03.09 at 2:11 pm ET
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LeBron knows the way to the back of the sports page better than most of you know the route to your kitchen.  His post-game drama provided more excitement Saturday than the Orlando Magic breaking its 14-year NBA Finals drought.  LeBron’s lack of sportsmanship was what won headlines as he stormed off the court following a Game six Cleveland Cavaliers defeat at Amway Arena refusing to shake hands with the Magic or speak to the media.

That one simple gesture, or lack thereof, has been the topic of heated contorversy over the past week approaching the NBA Finals tomorrow night. Alright, LeBron carried the Cavs throughout the postseason and had every right to be miffed at the loss but I’m sure Delonte West and Mo Williams were no happy campers and they still found a way to stay on the court.

LeBron spoke to the media yesterday calling himself a winner and said he found it hard to congratulate his opponent after just having lost. Come on LeBron, every middle and high schooler knows the importance of sportsmanship. It seems LeBron could use a little coaching in post-game etiquette.

For example, at least Eric Mangini and Bill Belichick made an effort, however little it may have been, after the Patriots beat the Jets in the first game following their 2006 break up.

Or maybe Chris Paul could have reminded LeBron about their secret hand shake to remind him how it’s done.

He could have just watched the hand shake refusals of past players to see how bad it looks.

Yet there is one consolation for LeBron — at least he will not be in anymore of those puppet commercials with Kobe.

Rodney Harrison, we hardly knew ye!

06.03.09 at 10:40 am ET
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Today marks the end of an era in the National Football League, as Rodney Harrison closed the curtain on an illustrious 15-year career.

Harrison was taken by the San Diego Chargers in the 5th round of the 1994 NFL draft out of Western Illinois. The career that the hard-hitting safety had wasn’t exactly expected on that April afternoon over a decade ago.

Harrison leaves the gridiron for the bright lights of broadcasting with NBC Sports, most likely as a member of the peacock’s Football Night in America. NBC auditioned Harrison for a future job during this year’s Super Bowl pre-game coverage.

Check out the stats on Harrison. Despite contact with certain pharmaceutical products, this strong safety should be in line for a bust in Canton, Ohio. Harrison twice played in the Pro Bowl, in 1998 and 2003.

Just ask former Ravens head coach Brian Billick about his feelings on Rodney Harrison. Actually, Billick’s affection for the former Patriot was caught on tape by ESPN, so no need to ask the question.

The HGH suspension, aside, Harrison certainly found himself some controversy during his 15 years in professional football. After then-Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt said that the Patriots were “ripe for the picking”during the 2005 playoffs, Harrison gave Vanderjagt a new nickname.

Harrison was also named the NFL’s dirtiest player in a 2004 player’s poll. In this interview with SI, the title doesn’t seem to affect him much.

After being given such a dubious distinction, Harrison tried his hand at officiating. The results of this experiment were captured in this story for ESPN.

Rodney Harrison’s career will be judged not by his refereeing skills or his Chris Berman-esque nicknames, but it will be judged on how he performed on the game’s biggest stage, the Super Bowl.

Harrison ends his career with a pair of Super Bowl rings with the Patriots, including an interception in Super Bowl XXXIX against the Eagles. However, when the words Super Bowl and Rodney Harrison will be paired together, this infamous moment will almost certainly come to mind.

Considering the outcry by sportswriters about pro athlete’s and their use of steroids, will Rodney Harrison ultimately end up in Canton? He certainly has the numbers to warrant a bronze bust and yellow jacket.

To quote mathmaticians the world over, the numbers don’t lie. And for No. 37, the chapter on playing football closes, and the chapter on retirement and broadcasting begins.

Read More: New England Patriots, NFL, Rodney Harrison, Super Bowl XXXIX

Wonderful Wednesday Morning LEEInks

06.03.09 at 10:40 am ET
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Good Morning and welcome to the Wednesday edition of the LEEInks!

Leading off is our belovedRed Sox leaving Comerica Park with a fairly impressive 5-1 win in the Motor City. Dice-K earned his first victory on the season and helped manager Terry Francona get the 500th of his Red Sox tenure.

Our very own Rob Bradford recaps last night’s game with a focus on Francona’s meteoric rise to the managerial elite. Francona will be a guest on today’s Dale and Holley show as a part of Red Sox Wednesday.

Also on the diamond, San Francisco Giants living legend lefty Randy Johnson goes for win No. 300 against the Nationals tonight. The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell takes a look at the Big Unit’s illustrious 21-year run, but this blogger will always remember this moment of Johnson’s career.

Moving off the diamond, and onto the ice, the Penguins got their first win of the Stanley Cup Finals. Thanks to Maxime Talbot’s two goals, the Pens won 4-3 in front of their home crowd at Mellon Arena.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gene Collier attributes the Pens win to a healthy serving of luck. Any win against a formidable team like the Detroit Red Wings, certainly gets filed under the lucky category.

WEEI.com’s very own Chris Price even weighed in on the Stanley Cup Finals. In case you missed it, here’s his column linking the Wings to another dynastic team that New Englanders know and love.

Seemingly, the only news being made on the hardwood is the “handshake-gate” scandal surround LeBron James. However, there is a great bit of news involving Magic shooting guard Mickael Pietrus.

This season, Pietrus has been wearing shoes endorsed by his Laker counterpart Kobe Bryant. With the Finals around the corner, Pietrus is kicking his kicks to the curb.

Keeping with the topic of sports fashion, have you ever been at a game and seen a random jersey of a player long since gone from the team’s roster? If you love such sights, check out Straight Cash Homey, a wonderfully snarky look at athletic apparel from a “bygone” era.

And yes, if you’re wondering, the site’s name does come from this infamous Randy Moss quote.

Well, hope you enjoyed that special Wednesday morning brunch buffet of LEEInks. Enjoy this beautiful Wednesday and stay classy, New England!

Read More: Mickael Pietrus, Pittsburgh Penguins, Randy Johnson, Terry Francona

Match-ups and this Porcello guy

06.02.09 at 10:53 am ET
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Detroit Hitters against Daisuke Matsuzaka

Curtis Granderson– .444 AVG/.500 OBP/.889 SLG in 9 AB (1 HR, 2RBI)

Placido Polanco- .200/.333/.200 in 5 AB

Miguel Cabrera– .250/.500 /.250 in 4 AB (2 BB)

Magglio Ordonez– .111/.200/.222 in 9 AB (1 2B, 5 K)

Brandon Inge- .143/.250/.143 in 7 AB

Gerald Laird- .250/.250/.250 in 4 AB

Adam Everett– .000/.000/.000 in 3 AB (2 K)

Active hitters who have never faced Matsuzaka: Clete Thomas, Ryan Raburn, Ramon Santiago, Jeff Larish, Dane K. Sardinha, and Josh Anderson

Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday LEEINKS

06.02.09 at 10:06 am ET
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You know what’s worse than Mondays? Mondays on which no sports are played. Last night, for example, my viewing choices boiled down to the Yankees, College Softball, or AA baseball. Not much of a choice, really.

Thankfully things are somewhat back to normal tonight, with the Red Sox starting a three-game series against the AL Central-leading Tigers tonight in the Motor City (Insert bailout joke here). Tonight, Daisuke Matsuzaka gets the ball against Rick Porcello, who is the subject of an interesting little feature in today’s Detroit Free Press, highlighting the fact that the rookie has won five straight games without throwing more than 95 pitches each outing. Of course, he’s only lasted more than six innings in one of them, but hey, that’s modern baseball for you.

Most of the  Free Press’ sports section is given over to coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals, which resume tonight in Pittsburgh with the Red Wings holding a 2-0 series lead and hoping to pull off back-to-back Cups. Today, Michael Rosenberg wonders if time might be catching up to Kris Draper, Helene St. James thinks that Henrik Zetterburg is in line to become the next Red Wings captain, and Ben Schmitt presents a guide to Pittsburgh lingo, which to me doesn’t sound much different than the Chicago Swerskian dialect. But maybe I’m reading it wrong. You can also play “Smack the Penguin,” which is not nearly as dirty as you probably wish it was.

On the other side of the divide, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spotlights Rob Scuderi, while columnist Ron Cook says the Penguins need more from Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

If you’ve watched ESPN for any amount the last couple days, you know that the NBA Finals start Thursday, which is a long wait for us hoop junkies looking for an NBA Finals fix. The reason for this is that David Stern likes to watch us suffer. And TV. Always, always TV. While you wait, George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel has an update on Jameer Nelson, Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times breaks down the Laker game plan, Michael Wilbon and Peter Vecsey share their take on l’affair du Lebron, Chris Bosh has a record deal, Jeff Van Gundy will stay on ABC’s broadcast team despite objectivity questions, and Charles Barkley can get away with anything.

And for reading all that, here’s a bonus parody video at the expense of the TNT “Inside the NBA” crew. Try getting that song out of your head now.

Eagles Soaring Through Postseason Play

06.02.09 at 5:46 am ET
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We always knew that Boston was a darn good baseball town. A certain group of ballplayers situated on Chestnut Hill have good reason to supplement that assertion. 

Boston College’s baseball team has had quite the interesting postseason journeyto say the least. After losing to top seed Florida State, 7-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, the Eagles set out on a wild postseason ride filled with thrilling comebacks, improbable victories, and quite a few extra innings.

In their second game of the ACC tournament, the Eagles turned to sophomore infielder Mickey Wiswall for a little power. The Stoneham, Mass., native provided the Eagles with a pair of homers and 5 RBI on the day in a 7-3 victory against perennial powerhouse and 13th-ranked Georgia Tech.

BC kept the bats going, defeating yet another ACC opponent with an illustrious history, in Miami.  The Eagles were able to more than weather the storm against the Hurricanes finishing the ACC tournament’s pool play with a 10-1 victory.

Sophomore pitcher Pat Dean fired 5 strikeouts and sprinkled eight hits over a brilliant seven innings to help the Eagles surrender just four runs against two top-20 programs on consectutive days.

The Eagles then flew to the Lone Star state for NCAA Regional play in Austin.  The Eagles landed the region’s third seed and faced the Texas State Bobcats in their first game.

Boston College was down three in the ninth, and then delivered one of the biggest comebacks that college baseball has seen in quite some time. The Eagles strung together five hits including John Spatola’s go-ahead three run dinger for an 8-7 win.

Don’t believe me? Check out these highlights posted onto Youtube by Austin NBC affilliate KXAN and see for yourself.

The Eagles the faced annother most illustrious baseball program in the  Texas Longhorns.  Let’s just say both squads were in it for the long haul.

The Eagles and Longhorns played 25-innings, a new NCAA record for longest baseball game.  Manger Augie Garrido’s squad was lifted by the left arm of reliever Austin Wood who provided the Longhorns with 13 innings of shutout relief.

Wood surrendered just one hit to BC’s TonySanchez.  Sanchez’s base knock came in the 19th inning.

Much to the chagrin of the BC faithful, Texas won the game on an RBI single by Travis Tucker with one out in the 25th inning, after over seven hours of baseball. 

Despite the loss, BC was alive for another game, today against Army. The Eagles were involved in yet another close game, losing to Army 4-3.

This wild postseason journey was the first for BC 1967’s Summer of Love. The Eagles finished 34-26 on the season.