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About Alex Speier

Before he joined WEEI.com, Alex covered the Red Sox for several New England and national publications, including the New Hampshire Union Leader, Boston Metro, Boston Herald and Baseball America. Alex graduated from Harvard, where he served as the captain of the debate team, an experience that has been of surprisingly little use in press boxes across the country.

 
COLUMNS
Alex Speier
04/29/2009 - 4:13am
It was fun while it lasted for the Red Sox. The 11-game run came to a sudden and unexpected halt on Tuesday. Once the Sox put the wood to the Indians to jump out to a 5-1 lead in the second and a 7-3 lead entering the bottom of the third, a 12th straight ‘W’ seemed inevitable. The Sox, after all, had not lost any game all year in which they’d held the lead after three innings. Nor had Boston lost any game in which it had held a lead of four or more runs.
Alex Speier
04/27/2009 - 5:07am
Ultimately, it was a series of three games that embodied why meetings between the Red Sox and Yankees have long been considered must-see events. The weekend was rich with moments that had never been seen before and may never be seen again by most who bore witness to them. The signature moment of Sunday night’s 4-1 Red Sox victory over the Yankees at Fenway was a straight steal of home by Jacoby Ellsbury. A perfect storm of circumstances permitted the event:
Alex Speier
04/26/2009 - 4:50am
For the Yankees – or any other team investing big money in a free-agent pitcher – the fear is that they get what A.J. Burnett produced on Saturday. That doesn’t mean that New York or any other club is quaking about the prospect of a $16.5 million-a-year pitcher giving away a six-run lead in every start. The Yankees have every reason to believe that Burnett’s almost unfathomable inability to hold onto a lead that grew to a half-dozen runs after three innings was a rare – and perhaps one-of-a-kind – occurrence.
Alex Speier
04/25/2009 - 4:28am
The Red Sox’ 5-4 win over the Yankees was a rare triumph indeed - in fact, it was one-of-a-kind. The Red Sox trailed, 4-2, entering the ninth against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. But the future Hall of Famer gave away the lead when Jason Bay battered a ball to left-center, barely clearing the Green Monster for a game-tying two-run homer.
Alex Speier
04/23/2009 - 11:32am
Plenty of attention has been devoted to the status of Jason Bay’s next contract. The question of whether the free-agent-to-be will be with the Red Sox beyond the 2009 season looms over his performance this year. That issue will reverberate throughout this season. Increasingly, Bay’s significance in the Sox lineup is apparent. In the sixth spot in the batting order, he offers an impressive combination of power and patience, someone for whom totals of 30 homers, 100 RBIs or 100 walks would not come as a surprise.
Alex Speier
04/22/2009 - 2:40am
No baseball game? No matter. Rain may lead to the cancellation of a ballgame, but it can do nothing to prevent an education in Five Things on the eve of a day-night double-header between the Red Sox and Twins.  JOIN THE CLUB, NICK GREEN...AND BE CAREFUL, FOR SHORTSTOP IS A DANGEROUS PLACE IN BOSTON
Alex Speier
04/21/2009 - 8:45am
Afterwards, the emotion was pure. Hunter Jones had some mementos in his locker after he recorded a scoreless ninth inning – a pair of authenticated balls for the first and third outs of the inning, as well as an authenticated lineup – but he also had something more.
Alex Speier
04/20/2009 - 6:02pm
It’s easy to forget how far the Red Sox came in a stretch of five games. It was less than a week ago that things could have gotten messy in a hurry. The team had sunk to last place with a dismal 2-6 record. The starting shortstop (Jed Lowrie) and an 18-game winner (Daisuke Matsuzaka) had both landed on the disabled list. The bullpen had been torched. The lineup had been feeble.
Alex Speier
04/19/2009 - 3:59am
The Red Sox received the right tonic at the right time. The Orioles may have come into Boston with a 6-3 record, having won series against the Yankees, Rays and Rangers, but that mark was something of an illusion. Baltimore arrived in the series having permitted 69 runs in nine games, an average of 7.7 per contest that ranked as the worst in baseball.
Alex Speier
04/18/2009 - 4:17am
Cooperstown-electee Jim Rice was flipping through the pages of the Red Sox pre-game media notes when he stopped at the notes on the hitters. He pointed to the name at the bottom of the page and wheeled towards David Ortiz. “You’ve got to start hitting your weight,” Rice bellowed. Ortiz, featuring a meager .176 average, .293 OBP and .206 slugging mark prior to last night’s game, seemed amused by the challenge. “It’s coming up,” he grinned. “First I’ve got to get to (Dustin) Pedroia.”
Alex Speier
04/18/2009 - 3:40am
The magnitude of the Red Sox’ comeback was immense. The team was down by a touchdown and extra point in the top of the second inning, as the Orioles clubbed Boston starter Brad Penny mercilessly.
Alex Speier
04/17/2009 - 7:52am
There hasn’t ever been much mystery to what Brad Penny does on a mound. That remained the case in the right-hander’s Red Sox debut. In his first inning with his new club, Penny unleashed 15 pitches. Of those, 14 were fastballs. The hard-thrower rarely veered from that approach, sticking with his bread-and-butter pitch for 65 of his 86 (75.6 percent) offerings against the Angels.
Alex Speier
04/12/2009 - 3:23am
Facing elimination in a playoff series? That’s a must-win situation. A three-game losing streak in April? Clearly, the same dire consequences are not in play. Certainly, the Red Sox had not moved to DEFCON 1 on the basis of three defeats – two to the Tampa Bay Rays at home and another in the series opener against the Angels on Friday – in the season’s first week. Even so, it would be tough to say that there wasn’t some hint of elevated stakes in the fifth game of the young campaign.
Alex Speier
04/10/2009 - 3:17am
As last season ended, so it began. The Red Sox and Rays, competitors in last year’s American League Championship Series, became reacquainted in a three-game series to commence the 2009 season. And, just as they did last October, the Rays showed that they were capable of taking two out of three games at Fenway Park.
Alex Speier
04/09/2009 - 12:42am
Last year, the Red Sox and Rays exchanged volleys throughout the year but spent much of the year incapable of breaking serve. The home team swept the first four series of the year between the two teams until finally, in September, the Rays broke the spell by taking two of three at Fenway. This year, the back-and-forth started a bit earlier. After the Red Sox claimed a 5-3 victory on Opening Day, Tampa Bay rebounded with an impressive 6-2 win at Fenway Park. (For a recap, click here.)
Alex Speier
04/08/2009 - 1:18am
Jason Varitek got off to a strong start in his quest to achieve the near-impossible. The catcher is coming back from the sort of season that typically signals an irreversible slide. Players in Varitek’s age bracket (he turns 37 on Saturday) have rarely come back from offensive seasons as bad as the one he had in 2008 to achieve the status of even an average player. Last year, as a 36-year-old, Varitek hit .220 with a .313 OBP with a .672 on-base plus slugging percentage. His OPS+ was 73, meaning that his OPS was roughly 27 percent worse than the league average.
Alex Speier
04/07/2009 - 7:48am
Surely novelty has to count for something. Monday’s postponement of the scheduled game against the Rays marked the first time the Red Sox home opener had been cancelled since April 11, 2003. It was the first time the club’s Opening Day game got scuttled in a generation, dating back to a snow-out in Chicago on April 6, 1982 (no word on whether the White Sox had been planning on wearing shorts that day). So at least the Sox had that going for them … Which is nice.
Alex Speier
04/06/2009 - 12:50am
Just a few years ago, the hallmark of the Red Sox was the merciless destruction of pitching staffs. Historically powerful offenses from 2003-05 had a winning formula that was anything but subtle. The Sox, quite simply, would decimate their opponents with the force of a sledgehammer. The formula has undergone some revision in recent years. With a line of potentially dominant arms that stretches from Boston to Pawtucket to Fort Myers, the Sox are now viewed as a team whose elite run prevention is the foundation of a run at – and perhaps through – the postseason.
Alex Speier
04/04/2009 - 11:16am
Our panel of Curt Schilling, Rob Bradford, Cyn Donnelly, Kirk Minihane, Mike Petraglia, Jon Rish and Alex Speier - with a brief cameo by Gary From Chapel Hill - peers into the crystal ball in an attempt to see the future of the Red Sox' 2009 Opening Day roster:   ROTATION   1. Which incarnation of pitcher will Josh Beckett be for the Red Sox this year? Will he most closely resemble the 2006, 2007 or 2008 version?  
Alex Speier
04/04/2009 - 12:56am
The neverending spring training is finally nearing its conclusion. Remarkably, despite the fact seven full weeks elapsed from the reporting date for Red Sox pitchers and catchers to the time that the club migrated north for the regular season, few salacious storylines emerged. The time in Fort Myers was characterized chiefly by a quiet professionalism.
Alex Speier
03/30/2009 - 8:48am
The visit by the Red Sox to central Florida to play the Braves on Monday will offer yet another reminder of a still-foreign concept. John Smoltz, after 21 seasons with Atlanta, is preparing for life with a new major-league team. A pitcher who seemed all but certain to spend his entire career with one big-league club is instead rehabbing from shoulder surgery with the goal of a mid-summer unveiling in Boston. The concept is shocking. And yet, in a sense, it is not the most jarring professional move that Smoltz has had to make.
Alex Speier
03/28/2009 - 11:59am
As he learned to play baseball, Jed Lowrie – like almost everyone else in the Northwest – found it impossible to resist the temptation to imitate Ken Griffey, Jr. Everyone wanted to be the iconic Mariners outfielder, and to a degree, Lowrie was no different. When hitting tennis balls with a baseball bat in his back yard, Lowrie would turn his baseball cap around. Though naturally right-handed, he would try to mimic Griffey’s left-handed swing, an early hint of his future as a switch-hitter.
Alex Speier
03/25/2009 - 7:15am
FORT MYERS, Fla. – No one will confuse the Red Sox for a small-market team anytime soon. Nonetheless, because of a roster that features an ever-increasing number of young, affordable players, the days in which the team could be lumped only with the Yankees in free-spending ways have moved further into the rearview mirror.
Alex Speier
03/24/2009 - 3:32am
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The announcement of Curt Schilling’s retirement brought into sharp relief the significance of the deal that made the pitcher a Red Sox. A compelling argument can be made that the trade that brought him to Boston from Arizona was the biggest in franchise history since the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
Alex Speier
03/24/2009 - 12:25am
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Brad Penny looked outstanding in his first game activity against major-league hitters since last Sept. 15. The big right-hander needed just 33 pitches to get through three innings, allowing one walk, no hits and striking out three. He showed impressive velocity, registering a 93-95 mph fastball with good life that he moved up and down in the zone to elicit plenty of swings and misses in his outing. The outing was a marker of major progress for Penny over the past six months.


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