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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
12/09/2008 - 10:18am
LAS VEGAS—The Red Sox are all but certain to make some of the biggest splashes this offseason. Already, the team has shown a willingness to explore virtually every available avenue for improvement. All the same, in the immediate future, no news is good news for the Red Sox.
Alex Speier
12/06/2008 - 10:18am
On Thursday, Junichi Tazawa’s introduction as a Red Sox was major international news. A sizable contingent of media members gathered at Fenway Park to observe this unusual introduction of a heralded Japanese amateur who was making the leap to play Major League Baseball. On Friday, the Indians announced in a press release that they had signed right-handed pitcher (and former Sox hurler) Tomo Ohka to a minor-league deal. There were no meet-the-press introductions. The news flickered across sports news tickers for a few moments before quickly disappearing.
Alex Speier
12/04/2008 - 10:18am
There was never much mystery about what Dustin Pedroia wanted to do. The 2008 MVP did not make a secret of where his priorities stood as he considered whether or not a long-term deal was in his best interests. At one point, in conversation with team officials, Pedroia contemplated the prospect of crushing a ball, but then watching with dismay as it settled into an outfielder’s glove on the warning track. He imagined feeling a pang of remorse not just about the out, but also at the potential loss of perhaps $50,000 in arbitration or free agency.
Alex Speier
12/02/2008 - 10:18am
Major League Baseball’s winter meetings kick off next Monday in Las Vegas. By that time, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek will have to decide whether or not to accept an offer that could be the best he will receive this winter. The Sox underscored their interest in bringing back Varitek for at least another year by offering their longtime catcher salary arbitration last night. Varitek has until Sunday to decide whether to accept or reject that proposal.
Alex Speier
11/25/2008 - 10:18am
Junichi Tazawa seemed unlikely to inspire half of New England to spend a day hitting the refresh button on their browsers while tracking the progress of his flight to Boston. The amateur pitcher from Japan will not elicit the rock-star following that accompanied Daisuke Matsuzaka’s arrival two years ago. Even so, Tazawa offers a reminder of the significance of the Red Sox signing of the right-hander in 2006.
Alex Speier
11/20/2008 - 10:18am
The Hot Stove has officially been ignited. Two weeks after the conclusion of the G.M. meetings, and a couple weeks prior to the winter meetings, the Red Sox started reconfiguring their roster for the 2009 season. One month after they were eliminated in Game 7 of the ALCS by the Rays, Wednesday’s trade of outfielder Coco Crisp to the Royals in exchange for reliever Ramon Ramirez offered some sense of the direction that the offseason is starting to take. Here is a look at the different pieces of Boston’s offseason puzzle that were impacted by the deal:
Alex Speier
11/19/2008 - 10:18am
Complacency would be understandable. Dustin Pedroia, in his second year with the Red Sox, followed a Rookie of the Year season by winning the Most Valuable Player award. Teammate Kevin Youkilis finished third in balloting for the award. For two players who had spent their baseball lives defying skeptics, the moment is rather striking. In their amateur careers, scouts defined both members of the right side of the Red Sox infield by their shortcomings.
Alex Speier
11/12/2008 - 10:18am
Amidst the discussion about how to handle the free-agent status of Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, one suggestion has been notably absent. No one has argued for a transition from the longtime backstop to another catcher who is currently in the organization. It would be easy to conclude that catching represents an organizational weakness, that the Sox—whose 2008 playoff run relied heavily on depth in the minors—feature a glaring hole in their minor-league system. Some evaluators outside the organization view the situation that way.
Alex Speier
11/06/2008 - 10:18am
DANA POINT, Calif.—In one sense, this winter’s free-agent class of pitchers appears to represent a gold mine: a class headed by 2007 Cy Young winner CC Sabathia also features a postseason hero (Derek Lowe) and pitchers with legitimate swing-and-miss arsenals (Ben Sheets, A.J. Burnett, Ryan Dempster, Oliver Perez). In another sense, the group can be viewed as fool’s gold, set to command wealth that is unlikely to ever spread back to the teams that pay to acquire them.
Alex Speier
11/05/2008 - 10:18am
DANA POINT, Calif.—Will anyone blink? Jason Varitek has never made a secret of his desire to remain a member of the Red Sox. The Red Sox, for their part, have never made a secret of their respect for the catcher’s impact on both the pitching staff and clubhouse. Yet with Varitek now a free agent, he and the only club for whom he has ever played must now figure out if a shared hope can become a reality. In theory, both sides want to continue their relationship, but the details of a potential deal may prove thorny.
Alex Speier
11/04/2008 - 10:18am
DANA POINT, Calif.—Rewind three years. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein had abruptly resigned on Halloween. One week later, in the absence of a new head of baseball operations, Boston arrived at the 2005 G.M. meetings in California with a four-man team of Craig Shipley, Ben Cherington, Jed Hoyer and Peter Woodfork in charge of the team’s decision making.
Alex Speier
10/31/2008 - 10:18am
WEEI.com writers Rob Bradford and Alex Speier go toe-to-toe to sort out which local pro sports team is next in line to deliver a title in Boston. Join Rob and Alex in the Great Debate on Friday, October 31, at 3 p.m.
Alex Speier
10/20/2008 - 10:18am
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The 2008 Red Sox were undone in part by a strategy that nearly sabotaged their 2003 season. The Tampa Bay Rays are advancing to the World Series in part because they were able to lock down four wins in the American League Championship Series without a defined closer manning their ninth innings. On Opening Day of 2003, the Sox began a faltering first foray into a closer-by-committee experiment at Tropicana Field. The team entered the bottom of the ninth inning of the season opener against the Devil Rays holding a healthy five-run lead.
Alex Speier
10/17/2008 - 10:18am
The transformation of the Red Sox is complete. Five years to the day after they endured one of the wrenching defeats in team history, the Red Sox underscored that they are defined by a new narrative in a new era.
Alex Speier
10/15/2008 - 10:18am
On one side, a third baseman discussed the season-ending surgery to treat a chronic condition that left him barely able to move. On the other, a third baseman and outfielder reveled in the distance they had traveled since returning to the field from potentially season-ending injuries. The very different outlooks for Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell and Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and left fielder Carl Crawford explain a great deal about why Tampa Bay now stands on the cusp of the World Series.
Alex Speier
10/14/2008 - 10:18am
In their run of five playoff appearances in the last six years, the Red Sox have experienced enough roster turnover to achieve a fundamental change of identity. Just two members of the current lineup were part of the team’s playoff roster in 2003. Despite the altered composition of the team, one element seemed a constant. Amidst the change, David Ortiz remained a force capable of dominating the playoffs. 
Alex Speier
10/12/2008 - 10:18am
LOAD IMBALANCE Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay have batted in the same inning six times this series. The Red Sox have scored in all six innings, amassing nine runs in that time. In the other 14 innings of the series, they have scored just once. Particularly since David Ortiz is 0-for-6 with four walks and no runs batted in this series, the significance of that pattern is fairly plain. The team right now depends almost entirely on Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay to start and sustain rallies.
Alex Speier
10/11/2008 - 10:18am
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— While much has been made of Daisuke Matsuzaka’s almost unprecedented 2008 season, it has been easy to ignore what might have been the most critical part. A trip to the disabled list may have been the pivotal event in allowing the Red Sox starter to claim victory in last night’s opener of the American League Championship Series.
Alex Speier
10/10/2008 - 10:18am
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The similarities between the Rays and Red Sox squads that will face off in the American League Championship Series are far-reaching. Both teams feature deep pitching staffs and lineups that emphasize grinding at-bats. Yet one of the most important shared traits is among the least discussed and, in some ways, most unlikely. In recent years, both Tampa Bay and Boston were accused of far-reaching defensive shortcomings. Now, the two have emerged among the best fielding teams in baseball.
Alex Speier
10/09/2008 - 10:18am
The transition has been nearly seamless. Justin Masterson, after flying through the Red Sox system in less than two years as a starter, has made the move to the bullpen seem effortless.   The right-hander needed just two weeks of fine-tuning in the minors to prepare for a move to the bullpen in July. It took exactly one outing after Masterson was called back up to the majors to demonstrate the success of the experiment.  
Alex Speier
10/07/2008 - 10:18am
In some ways, it was less important that Jed Lowrie delivered a walk-off hit than that he had the opportunity to do so. Last night, Lowrie secured a place in Red Sox history. The rookie shortstop’s game-winning, two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 3-2 win over the Angels punched his team’s ticket to the American League Championship Series.
Alex Speier
10/06/2008 - 10:18am
There was a time when baseball lifers would have scoffed at the notion that the Red Sox would view Jon Lester as the best option to win Game 4 of the Division Series against the Angels on Monday night. A left-handed pitcher, some theorized, could never succeed with a left-field wall beckoning right-handers from just 310 feet away.
Alex Speier
10/04/2008 - 10:18am
The Red Sox closer fired a 95 m.p.h. fastball up in the zone, and Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick could not hold back on a checked swing. The game-ending strikeout registered as the sixth-straight out recorded by Jonathan Papelbon. The adrenaline-charged pitcher punctuated his team’s 7-5 win by shouting and beating his chest. The demonstration served as the pronouncement of the alpha closer.
Alex Speier
10/03/2008 - 10:18am
The July 31 trade deadline was fraught with vulnerability. The Red Sox badly wanted to part ways with Manny Ramirez and knew that their options to replace him while maintaining a playoff-caliber club were limited. The Sox faced a Bay-or-bust proposition. Two-time All-Star Jason Bay of Pittsburgh loomed as the lone outfielder on the trade market whose production could sustain Boston’s title aspirations.
Alex Speier
10/02/2008 - 10:18am
ANAHEIM—For years, the Angels and Red Sox have been presented as a study in contrasts. The teams seemed to represent stark philosophical differences in the Division Series in 2004 and again in 2007. In both seasons, the prevailing assumption was that Boston would try to bash its way into the Championship Series, and the Angels would rely on fundamentals and traditional offense (bunts, hit and runs, etc.) to advance.


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