9.12.02: WELCOME BACK!
(ERA / WHIP) - Career Direction
Martinez (2.22 /
.90) STEADY - Still one of Elite Five
Lowe (2.38 / .96) UP -
The #2 we've been looking for
Wakefield (2.97 / 1.07)
UP - Best W/K ever. Low HRs. Best yr. since '95
Fossum (3.09 / 1.30) UP
- Blossoming from LR to SP was well-handled.
Embree (2.77 / .88) UP -
Monstrous Season. Can he repeat it?
DON'T LET MY
FOOT CATCH YOUR ASS ON THE WAY OUT
Oliver (4.66 / 1.67)
GONE - Arguably as good as Castillo...
Castillo (5.28 /
1.45) BYE - 48 GS (01-02) but OBA went from .220 ('99) to .280 ('01)
Arrojo (4.83 /
1.36) C-YA - Effectively early in relief. Shoulda stayed there.
Hermanson (7.63 / 2.09)
#$%&#$ - What it'd be like to lose your wallet, if it had $7M in it.
Burkett (4.86 / 1.52 )
SCHIZO - 2.57 / 6.97 Home/Away ERA; 3.80/6.34 Pre/Post AS Break
Howry (5.27 / 1.24) ? -
Verdict still out. 4.20 ERA overall.
Urbina (3.24 / 1.20) TOO
$$$ - 31 for 36 in SVO - Effective, but worth $7-8M???
Haney (4.20 / 1.40)
REPLACEABLE - .817 OPS vs. L, .719 vs. R (for a lefty?)
Gomes (4.40 / 1.40) &
Banks (3.98 / 1.39) DITTO
Ramirez (1.04 OPS, .608
SLG, .783 Slg/.604 OBP in SC POS) STEADY - Doesn't hustle,
Injury-prone. But he HITS.
STEADY - Not as good as last two yrs in KC, but fighting injury last
(.306/.340/.477) UP - Since AS Break - striking out less, improved
BA by 20 pts., but only 4 HRs
(.309/.349/.522) DOWN - Worst yr. since Rookie in category incl.
P/PA, G/FB went from 1.10 career to 0.73
STEADY - Despite SC POS batting woes, has been good hitter. Would be
ideal 1B candidate.
UP - Face it, he's outplayed Sanchez
BACK - Good spirit, Good PH, I'd bring him back despite defensive
WYSIWYG - Numbers mirror his career; 224 of 586 outs Ks last 2 yrs.
DOWN - All Numbers are off, has hit .200 Aug/Sept. when Sox needed
(.233/.370/.366) MIXED - Does one thing well, and defense in left
was atrocious. More 25th man than 4th OF
(.208/.286/.392) EXPCTD - Who waited for Little to use Mirabellia vs.
L ( .323/.417/.724) instead of 'Tek (.255/.313/.382)
EXPCTD - Actually hit better than expected, w/Good D, as well as
insurance for Nomar
(.266/.333/.390) ??? - Seemed ready to break out last year
(.293/.371/.489), instead regressed to rookie yr. levels
ZIPPO - Skills haven't gone South this fast since Shawn Kemp started
using. At All-star game last yr.
HAHAHA - Laughing all the way to the bank. A Tony Armas-quality
Agbayani - Kills
Lefties, which would be useful, esp. with lefties Floyd, Damon &
Nixon as our other OFs
F. Sanchez - Not likely
to be any worse than the other Sanchez w/the bat, and he costs
Jaun Pena - Pitched well
at end of season, seemed finally to recover from arm surgery. Could
be bullpen arm.
P. Crawford - Seems
unlikely to regain form, struggled all year with injuries and
recurrent back problems
J. Hancock - Not ready
for prime time.
Youkilis- Double-A OBP
machine, who will be in the Sox INF before you know it. Probably
The starting staff is
relatively set, due to Burkett's $5.5M contract and Fossum's
late-season pitching. The team will likely pick up another arm or
two, and could really use a #3, but that shouldn't be too hard to
find. Wakefield is clearly a possibility, but his flexibility almost
requires the team to try to get another starter, since Wakefield can
be plugged in almost anywhere. Urbina's probably gone, which is
something of a shame since Ohka has really come into his own this
year. But I don't feel he's so hard to replace, it's just that there
certainly isn't anyone on the farm. If the Sox resign Embree, they
might simply pick up one more arm and go with a committee approach.
However, Embree will command a nice price on the market this year
and may exceed the Sox's budget. But he was probably the team's most
effective second half reliever, so here's hoping they do. Overall,
the pitching looks good, provided the team does what it must and
gets a front-line starter, and at least one gas-pumping reliever.
But looking at the Braves, it's apparent that the legions of
washed-up starters are full of potential lights-out relievers.
Hitting poses more
problems. Arbitration cases such as Nixon, Daubach, and 'Tek failed
to progress this year, and there's nothing in the minor leagues to
replace them with so-called, replacement level players because the
Sox farm is full of below-replacement level players. Still, were it
not for Nixon's defense, his bat could be replaced. Floyd should be
talked into playing first, if at all possible, (which he should
agree to given his recent injury woes), with the $3M Daubach would
make going toward his salary. The Sox should be able to find a 4th
OF/DH somewhere. Not that they ever did this year, but you have to
expect better choices than the team made this year. What moves other
then cutting players or getting Embree and the two deadline deals,
did Port actually make? Objectively, they need a corner outfielder,
a backup catcher, a first basemen. These aren't hard positions to
fill. But someone needs to take some action. Moves need to be made
because holding this hand won't get it done.
The core team has the
potential to be great. We all know this. However, year after year,
there are injuries (2001), glaring holes (Starting Pitching, 2000),
or befuddling inconsistency (1918 to present). This year, half
the starters put up thier worst batting performances in four years
(Nixon, 'Tek, Garciaparra, first base). Obviously, that won't do.
Comparing the talent, it's not appreciably worse than the Yankees,
for all they spend. But execution is happening on thier side, and we
can only wait for the execution of our current Sox team.
A Step Late, Hit Short, and
9.9.02: As we look back, again, at this failed
season, it’s apparent that the difference between winning and losing
was very small. You know this without even looking at the one-run
losses (23). We have one of the best run-differentials in the league
yet have a middle of the pack record. This year has to have set a team
record for 5+ run innings. When these guys hit, they can be dangerous.
But for some reason they’ve hit only intermittently since May. It
seems that this is a team that’s just short of the necessary
fissionable material to sustain a chain reaction. Clearly the bullpen
was a problem from day one, but no action was taken to shore up this
unsightly mess until it was too late. The pick up of Embree was a nice
move, but Little immediately worked him to death, since he knew he
couldn’t trust anyone else back there. Another set-up man to work with
Garces has always been the plan with the Sox, be it Rod Beck or Rheal
But this year, Port, who’s been here and should
know better left us short. We lose Lowe & Beck out of the bullpen and
what do they do? Nothing. Frankly, the starting pitching isn’t much
worse than anyone else. It would’ve been nice to get Weaver, but I
don’t think it probably would’ve been worth it. The real problem, like
anyone in Red Sox nation needs to be told this, is sinking 400 useless
ABs into a position that is relatively easy to man effectively. I
refuse to believe there isn’t another Daubach or Adam Hyzdu out there
- a veteran minor leaguer with a little pop in need of a chance. In
fact, why were we even playing Daubach in the outfield? Why? Because
Manny got injured and the Sox didn’t think they needed to get another
outfielder. But if they had, Daubach could’ve played first base, and
this outfielder, say, Cliff Floyd, could pinch hit, sub and DH. Are
the Sox trying to pass off that there wasn’t ONE player out there who
could’ve done a better job of filling that position than Jose Clark?
How about a right-handed outfielder (like Agbayani) who can also spell
Nixon or Damon against tough lefthanders. And they give us Rickey.
He’s useful, but the team needed another outfielder. Beyond the
failure to act that cost us most of June against the national league,
when we really needed another bat off the bench, there are some
players who need to bare the brunt of the criticism.
First in line is Garciaparra. When he’s hit,
we’ve clobbered people, but he’s one of the emptiest .300 hitters this
year. And because he refuses to walk (Henderson has drawn more walks
with a third of the ABs) he ends up not getting on base appreciably
more often than Daubach, Nixon, Varitek, or Baerga. He’s probably
still feeling the wrist injury, but whatever the situation, he’s been
a good player this year, not the great one we expect. And then when
you add in the surly distance, 22 errors, and a lack of catalyzing
leadership, you wonder if Noamar is worth the big bucks in 2004.
I poo-poo the Ramirez critics. He leads the
league in hitting with runners in scoring position and he’s got an OBP
80 pts higher than any other regular. What can he do when he's always
leading off the inning? Sanchez does the little things, but he also
barely breaks .320 in OBP. ‘Tek, Nixon and Daubs are not great
players, and their inconsistency is galling, but they’re also
relatively cheap, homegrown (more or less) talent, of which the Sox
are dreadfully short. Damon’s second-half slide was tough, and cried
out the need for another legitimate outfielder to spell him. Speaking
of outfielders, Floyd’s comments about the clubhouse don’t bode well,
but admittedly, any clubhouse is better when it wins. Blaming Little
may be a little too convenient. Clearly the team lacks an individual
of character to take the team upon his emotional shoulders. Ramirez
and Nomar aren’t leaders. Nixon has the potential, but leaders get in
people’s faces, and need to produce to back it up, and Nixon was
pretty average for a corner outfielder. I don’t want Mo back, but the
team needs someone who is willing to say something to anyone on the
team about their play or conduct. The person who it might be, is Derek
Lowe, in concert with ‘Tek. But they’re a little young just yet and
prone to their own concentration lapses. But they do have the
necessary honesty and fire.
In the end, this team did a lot of things well,
but none of them were the little things. Still, I believe we could’ve
won with them this year, had management been more proactive in solving
their firstbase problem (in shades of 2000's 3rd base
problem which festered through a similarly awful June & July - at
least the Duke tried - he traded Tankersly for Sprague (who the
following year hit .300 for Seattle).... oy vey!), and diagnosed the
bullpen problem earlier. They say the difference between a .250 hitter
and a .300 hitter is no more than one hit a week. This year that
could’ve made all the difference. Then again, they’d probably have
squandered it on a 15-4 victory.
Sox Spell Relief:
Certain things are simply too taxing for words, such as explaining the
reasoning behind your personal philosophy, discussing what is wrong with
radio and television these days, or witnessing the Sox hit with runners
on. How many cans of dog food must we produce before we stop waking up
next to a dead horse? We can only assume they're using a gun because
they damn sure can't do any damage with their bats. Grady still can't
seem to figure out when to pull his starters. Before the 8th inning
might be a good plan, but since Little's frightened to call any name but
Alan, Bob or Oogie, you can understand a little of his predicament (and
we certainly feel his pain every time he takes the ball from a starter).
Of course, having been here, we've witnessed Jimy's daily faith in the
bullpen and its plentiful returns, even when we had to keep bailing out
Ramon in the 6th. The last couple months it was hard to help but wonder
if Little's ambivalence toward using set up men in the 8th and possibly
7th and their subsequent rust was only exacerbating Little's crisis of
faith. Well, buddy, we're right there with you. But doesn't it feel like
the team must do SOMETHING? The Duke would've already dug up a couple
stiffs and given them to Kerrigan to resurrect. Anything, one wishes,
but Banks, Arroyo, Haney and Castillo - the four horsemen of the late
inning Sox apocalypse. Little himself seems to be desperate as well,
stepping quicker and more forcefully in using the pen after the Burkett
fiasco on Sunday, and even resorting to a sac bunt to keep Varitek from
hitting into a double play, but the fact remains Nixon, Baerga,
Hillenbrand, Tek, Sanchez and Clark all had chances to bring in the
Sox's third run with a single, and all failed to get a hit. Doesn't get
a simpler than that. Nomar seems to have scuffled bad for the last six
weeks, with only about a week of good hitting that promptly abandoned
him. We need his doubles. We need Floyd to get an RBI other than with a
solo homer. And we need to run off a serious win streak now because,
frankly it's pretty unclear whether we'll be playing in two weeks, and
at that point it won't matter how well rested the pen is. But rather
than gnash our teeth, let's pull our hearts together and wish for one
last burst of Sox brilliance lest the strike come and we decide we're
better off without the heartbreak of the Sox in July and August.
Friday August 16, 2002
Some thoughts before the next wave (of nausea)
I am joining the Twins
game in progress, as has been my late custom in an attempt to break the
bad ju-ju around the Sox. (And anyone who has not done something like this
is not a dedicated Sox fan in my opinion.) Sidenote: I have already sworn
off televised games after watching the ninth-inning Haney/Urbina meltdown,
and the other the utter PASTING the Rangers put on us. I made it through
the fifth inning by increasing the pace of the alcohol consumption, but
was still far too sober though the entire second inning.
Of course, last night
it was clear no matter where you came in, it was the same old sox. As I
indicated, Floyd again was frustrated with a man in scoring position,
striking out. At least Grady got 'Tek out of the six hole. I was enthused
with Nixon, no less for the fact that he went the other way with the
lefty, which is what he needs to do in Fenway as well. But, and I am not
the first, but Garciapara with a pop out. Nomar seems intent on pulling
everything and it's driving me to distraction. Judging from the increased
power during this period, I think he is making some kind of adjustment and
it's a work in progress. I am still amazed this man won a batting crown,
as a righty - an impossible feat, and his wrist was screwed up the entire
year. So, I am going to bet it's sore, and he'd tell us that's how it's
going to be, at least he's popping the ball, right?
Random effusia - Manny.
Well, I guess you could say he's just a dumb blonde sometimes. Castillo
with an encouraging outing. I still would still keep the proverbial bullet
in the chamber when he's pitching. Willie Banks almost inspires more
confidence. Almost Grady. Almost. Whoa, boy. But all in all, I kept
thinking to those dog-days of June, when there would be long stretches of
six men retired. We subsisted entirely of making a big inning and putting
4-7 runs on the board in that one inning. It seems almost as though,
confronted with this new bounty, the team has gotten a little
over-anxious. My gosh, isn't it a sox season when before August is out,
you're counting 5-6 games swung by the balance of a play. Now that's
happened in the last three weeks.
the end, I was happy because 'Tek got on, and Damon came up with a man in
scoring position, and so did Nomar. They didn't produce, but it happens.
You keep holding your finger to the air wondering if they have a 7-8 game
streak in them or if they're really this .500 team staring you in the
mirror. Of course, a dash of Pedro is always good for what ails you. Gosh,
remember when it was only him? Now we have Lowe and, well.... and least
they have Lowe. Remember 'ole 5-inning Ramon and the rest of the
reconstructed crew? Give ole' Dan Duquette some credit, he lined up a team
that received nothing from its minors and the barest thing until the last
week, and they've been great. Even after Duke eschewed his practice of
salvaging arms, and actually got a guy who can throw some gas. Of course,
Hermanson we hardly know ye. Pena? God he looked good for two weeks in
May. Down with an injury. Ole' No-Hit Paxton Crawford, who fell on a glass
after pitching a no=-hitter? He's on the DL again. Of Course, if Duke were
here, he'd have resurrected a couple bodies, given them a rouge and sent
them into the pen. Heck, if Kerrigan were there they'd somehow work. I
still believe Garces was a key figure in this Vodoo. But you knew that
Port had blown the whistle on teh whole shenanigans when Garces didn't get
his extension, but don't get me started on the old black magic.... just
gimme a taste, and a 6-game winning streak...
With last night's big
victory, the tide is out again on that angry, self-flagellation that is Red
Sox fandom. And so, while we're waiting to exhale once again (and that's no
mistake - any sox fan can check their interior barometrics and tell you they
haven't opened a series with a while (six tries), if not the exact number.
So as we await the verdict, in prelude to a Petey outing, that haunting
thought, wow, if they win today, and Pedro's pitching tomorrow, my God, we
could have a three game winning streak. Sox Logic: Well, they'll obviously
lose tonight. (Internal barometric says - No 3-game winning streaks in more
than a month.) But as we still have yet another dawning of hope (remember
coming home to Texas, having clubbed a dozen homers, only to turn out a
barely more than half that number of runs against the Athletics?), it's time
to take a look at the situation before our Hyde side re-awakes
This is clearly the good
news. The team has suddenly come alive with the long ball slugging 50 in the
33 games since the break. During that time, Nixon (.606) has slugged like
Ramirez (.619) and Nomar (.596), giving the team real punch, and helping the
team to an OPS (.839) equal to that of the Yankees in the first half (.835).
During this time they've also out-homered the Yanks 50-44. Trot has really
showed himself to be a second half player the last couple years. Every one
has pitched in, with the exception of Rey Sanchez, and given Merloni's hot
bat (9-28 since the break, 6 of them for extra-bases), we might expect Grady
to spot him a little more.
Floyd seems to be
pressing a bit with men in scoring position - he's 1 for 7 in those
situation, 13-27 in others. And to those who have watched the games lately,
while 'Tek has raised his average quite well the last 8 weeks his bugaboo
remains hitting with men in scoring position, where his numbers
(235/306/347) rival those of Tony Clark (211/278/366). And it's not your
imagination, thanks to Grady's lineup cards, or dumb luck, Tek has faced
that situation 98 times in 76 games, compared to Hillenbrand (124),
Garciapara (125), Nixon (100) and Daubach (99). And for those who don't
think Manny is earning his money - check out his Scoring Position line -
(412/590/750). Damon's pretty impressive as well (319/439/500), but
Daubach's more so - (293/365/616). Aren't you happy we finally traded for a
DH/OF so Daubach can play 1B full-time? And as much as I wish they'd done it
earlier, I couldn't be more pleased with whom they acquired. The real
question is, what is Daubach, our second or third (behind Nomar) most
dangerous hitter with men on base doing hitting behind 'Tek, our most anemic
one? Tek should hit eighth, where he can get some walks ahead of Sanchez,
who moves runners over well, putting him in scoring position for Damon.
Perhaps Hillenbrand and Daubach can flip/flop home and away. Hillenbrand is
hitting poorly at home (262/304/373), and great on the road
(.341/..367/.591); while Daubach has the opposite malady (296/358/558) vs.
(254/333/408). Daubach leads the team in home homers with 10.
If anyone you know calls
for Carlos Baerga with the man in scoring position - shoot this man. Baerga
is great to start off - he's hitting .342 with no one on, his only hitting
.222 with men in scoring position. In fact, and hold your hankies, but Offy
was the best reserve in that circumstance (306/403/435) with Lou close
behind (297/386/378). I hope the team gets another bat like that before the
August deadline. We won't need to carry the full complement of pitchers in
the post-season, and a good pinch hitter could've made the difference in a
couple of these ballgames.
What can one say that
hasn't already been witnessed. Given Burkett's bizarre home-road ERA
disparity (2.31/6.51), I could almost feel fine having Burkett start a game
3 if it were at home. And Wakefield is capable of some amazing things,
though, I have always wondered if his knuckler could break in October like
it does in August. Assuming things begin to come together a bit, you have to
think about using Hermanson as a starter instead of Fossum. Hermanson is the
kind of fellow you could feel a little more comfortable starting a road
post-season game. More so than I feel with Fossum, or, truth be known,
Wakefield. I'd rather see him in the 6th/7th making his knuckler look
positively standstill in comparison to what the batter has seen already that
night. Of course, we're talking post-season and not now. Now, it certainly
looks like we need a middle guy. But if Embree and Howry can pitch like they
did last night, a move of Fossum to the bullpen again might make sense. He
benefits from the fact the starting staff is all righties, so as a middle
guy he will force moves. Team him with whatever you can scavenge from
Castillie Arrobanks, and you're not in bad shape. I wouldn't mind seeing the
team grab one more reliever to go with the bad, truth be told. I'd just as
soon leave Castillo or Arroyo of as well as Banks - leaving room for both on
the post-season roster. Though he's been ineffective lately, I still hold
out hope for Haney, presuming he's not placed in any Jim Burton situations.
Personally, I'd love to see the Sox go get Flash back. He's in the last year
of his Cubs contract, so the risk is minimal - a little money for a month or
two of work. And you have to like having another seasoned reliever in the
The Angels are El Fuego,
going 21-7 since the break. Their pitching has been great, but here's the
little known key - Anahiem has 8 games left with Oakland, but they simply
feast on left-handers. Both team's starters have been lights-out since the
break, but I see the Angels overtaking the Mariners. Of course, we won't
know until the very end, since the last two series between the Angels and
Mariners are two of the last three series of the season, 6 of the last 9,
with a four-game series with Oakland serving as the intro.
So, in fact they aren't
lying. If the Sox can stay in the race until Sept. 15, they've got a very
good shot at the Wild Card. Of course, Red Sox nation knows that's a big
if.... however, can you imagine the shoe on the other foot for a moment?
What has happened to your
pitching, since the break teams are hitting .295 against you and have raised
their SLG% by 60 pts. in the second half. Three of your starters are
battling injuries or just returning from them, while a fourth seems to be
getting pounded regularly. You have a roster full of outfielders, yet you
can't seem to find two corner ones that can field or hit for average. There
may be a big hole at third base, and you have to worry about your closer who
has shown a balky shoulder this season.
Okay, maybe being the
yankees isn't so bad - watch out, Nick Johnson has started to hit, taking
off where Ventura left off. I don't hold out much hope for Spencer Vander
White, but Bernie is hitting the hell out of the ball, which makes their
first four pretty damn scary. Still, in a short series, these guys have a
number of players who strike out a lot nad don't hit for terrific average.
Truth be told, which
bottom five would you rather have: Posada, Johnson, White, Mondesi, Ventura
or Floyd, Hillenbrand, Daubach, Varitek & Sanchez? Think about all those
Posada passed balls. Think about the nightly adventures on leftfield.
Ventura's sub-.250 average. Mondesi's general cluelessness.
Given that their pitching
looks as vulnerable as it has in years (note to Brian Cashman:
Recent Sox experience has shown that collecting a bunch of 36-40 year old
pitchers is like dancing with the devil as far as getting 34 starts a
season), this could be the year for the Sox. The Yanks have played very well
the last week, I am looking for them to have a lot more trouble when they
pull into Seattle, then return home for the Angels, while the Sox have a
short 3-game lunch with the Rangers. A week from now it'd be nice to see the
Sox 3-games back. I think it will happen.
Sunday August 11, 2002
Only a fellow Red Sox fan, and
might I add an intelligent one, can understand the revelatory joy to hear
someone say exactly what you're thinking. True, I read the Globe, Herald
(sometimes) and Projo (more often, McAdams is one of the better Red Sox
journos), but the fact is those guys rarely say anything of any substance.
I suppose because they have to talk to these guys every day, and we all know
about those who run with nuns (later join the church).
But when I read Kevin Hench's
partial comments in today's 'Notes' section of the Globe, I let out a Hallejulah.
Heck, for all of Grady Little's ridiculous assortment of non-moves, he
catches less hell than John McNamara. Varitek? I don't get to see
many games but I almost threw the TV out the window, when, with a man on
against the A's and desperately in need of baserunners, he swung and fouled
off 3 or 4 out of the zone pitches, then waited on a fastball that was right
on the outside corner. WHAT THE #&%! TEK! And then to watch each
day as he plummets through a floor, that Grady insists on batting him FIFTH?
With eight homeruns, he hits in front Hillenbrand, who this year is better in
almost every offensive category?
Since I'm on
a roll, what is Grady's problem with pitching. During this streak he has
run Urbina up to nearly 50 pitches (Note to Grady - if you insist on bringing
in your closer in the 8th, you'll likely have to pull him in the 9th if men
get on base. The guy just doesn't have the juice to face more than 5 or
6 batters). He ignored El Guapo since his return, judging much of July's
relatively decent work by the occasion where he left the Handsome One in for a
second inning, as everyone who has followed the Sox for the last few years
screamed at him. His steadfast decision to use Offerman, even as Clark
was beginning to show faint signs of life (between the two, who was more
recently decent, aye, even an all-star??). In fact, I have nothing but
contempt for Little's handling of the Bullpen and bench. But obviously I
could go on for a while.
Suffice to say, that living in
Lafayette, IN and having followed the Sox since I was 8 years old and
developed a passion for Freddie Lynn and the Sox in that fateful '75 season (I
can't remember exactly how but it's almost as if it was ordained. Of
course, ever the rebel, living in '74 in the Cincinnati area, probably served
as encouragement to root against the (former) hometeam in '75).
I stayed up, TV sound turned
down in my room through the night of Game 5. I remember vividly Lynn
crashing into the wall in Game 7, crumbling onto the ground and screaming for
someone to pick up the damn ball. I don't remember a lot of those years, but I
remember that (and the Phoenix series of the Celtics, and the weird, wild Gar
Heard game). I remember vividly the bullets pouring down Schiraldi's
forehead as he peered in for the sign, and was reminded at that moment of
Outlaw Josey Wales talking about the fear in a shooter's eyes. For 27
years I have been growing this heartache, carefully cultivated by everyone
from Jim Burton to Calvin Schiraldi to Mike Brown (with the Steamer carrying
the curse, like Legionnaire's disease through it all), ah all the names.
I am thankful that you guys
and particularly Hench's Hardball seem not to be soft-headed like the sports
radio fans I hear during rain delays. And I suppose you know the
fraternity of misery that unites us and offers that little solace there is in
a Titanic-esque Groundhog Day existence that seems looped around the Sox's
neck like a noose.
Thanks again for affording me
a little light during the dark, annual late summer collapse of the Bridge on
the River Kwai. Oh, wait that's the Red Sox...
Tuesday July 9, 2002
Baseball by George
7.9.02: The Yankees have won the American League
pennant for the last four years running, and just this past week they reminded
us that this dominance isn’t likely to stop anytime soon (Of course, they said
that about the Roman Empire, right?) by picking up Raul Mondesi and Jeff
Weaver in trades.
For Mondesi, the trade was a simple dump of a
ludicrous salary from a team that could no longer afford to shoulder it, to a
team that would barely notice that it was now carrying one more. "A lot of
teams are complaining, and why are they complaining?" Steinbrenner said in a
story published in Newsday on Saturday. "The deal we made for the right
fielder, they could have made that deal. Same with this young man (Weaver).
What he's going to make this year, next year, it's not a big money grab. This
is just good trading.
Okay, let’s break it down. How many teams could
realistically have traded to pick up $12.5 million of the $18.5 Mondesi is
owed over the next season and a half. The Dodgers, Red Sox, Rangers and Mets
jump to mind, but none of them have the television revenue that Steinbrenner
does. In ’01, the Yankees took in $145 million in TV revenue, with the Mets
($112) and the Dodgers ($92) a distant second and third. According to CNN,
the Yankees payroll to begin the season was over $17.5 million higher than the
next big spender on the block, the Red Sox. That was before they decided to
take on mssrs. Mondesi and Weaver (although they do lose the HUGE salary that
Ted Lilly was making this season: $237,150)
Of course, comparing the Yankees to the other top
tier teams isn’t the problem, it’s when you get to the bottom-rung players
that you see the real problems. How can the Pirates or Expos realistically
compete against someone with the ability to spend four times as much as them
while still making money. And as we see all of the shady accounting that
breaks up major corporations like Enron, Global Crossing and WorldComm, it’s
hard not to give a shout to the fact of how teams that own their television
networks decide to recognize revenue from their TV deals. From Business Week,
“Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, for instance, is likely to pull in over
$200 million from his YES network but reportedly will claim only $54 million
as local-TV revenue,” and they also mention that “The effective tax (what
teams pay to revenue sharing) is actually much lower than that because teams
get to hide substantial revenue from stadium and local-TV deals and also to
liberally deduct expenses related to stadium operations."
One could point
to the Weaver trade and say that the Yankees traded from a strong farm system,
one that has given them current starters Alfonso Soriano, Bernie Williams,
Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Orlando Hernandez, Nick Johnson
and Jorge Posada. My question would be, how many of them did they get
through the draft? We all know that scouting in other countries costs money,
with teams paying huge figures to set up camps in all parts of the world, not
too mention the bidding wars that happen for some of the players when they are
ready to sign. Until baseball wises up, uses collective money to develop
players in other countries and institutes a global draft, this will be just
one more area to widen the disparity between the haves and the have-nots.
Also, each time the Yankees make a deadline deal,
which seems to happen every season, they lose no compensatory picks, as they
would have if they signed these players as free agents. Thus, being a team
that has the money in the payroll to take on an extra salary or two at the
deadline has the dual effect of costing you nothing now (if it was budgeted
into the payroll, as it is on the top three-to-five teams) and nothing later.
In fact, since teams looking to unload salary don’t ask for REAL prospects,
nor do they get compensatory picks, and often, as was the case of the Mondesi
trade, are forced to pay some of the salary later, it makes sense for the
Yankees to only go after the very best in free agent talent. Every season
there is a mid-level talent that got signed to a too-long-a-term deal that
will be available under this discount plan.
There’s no doubt that the Yankees run their
business wisely, as we have all seen the Orioles and Dodgers spend boat loads
of money only to finish nowhere near the playoffs, but once the financial
numbers get skewed to the point they’re reaching, and they widen by the year,
there’s no reason to talk about “level playing fields” but just trying to keep
the disparity from being so steep. There will never be a salary cap, and
George Steinbrenner will always benefit from owning the New York team, as
opposed to baseball benefiting and the owner being happy that the league
allows him to own a franchise. Talking about this to Yankees fans will always
open you up to hearing that you are just jealous. What’s the answer, you say?
Say it along with me, “Yankees Suck!”
Scott Gleason, a former writer for
RotoWire.com, shows his hatred of the New York Yankees through song with the
www.benderband.com. Download their aptly titled song
Mother and Child Reunion is only a
I was at the no-hitter Dave Morehead (he wore #23) pitched in 1965 (with all
apologies to my teachers at Weymouth High School -- my mother let me go to
Fenway for that one last game in 1965, before the long winter), and I also saw
Monbo pitch one in 1962 (I was not there for Earl Wilson's, though).
On Saturday, my daughter, who, of course shares the DNA of a true Sox fan,
called me from Fenway to tell me that she was there for this one! This is
tremendously exciting to me.
My son and I also were on hand when Mike Boddicker pitched a gem against the
Yankees (can't remember the year -- this is what happens when you get old!),
and the Sox won 15-1. We just happened to get tickets at the last minute (we
could only get two, and they were boxes only 15 rows from the field). Mike
Greenwell hit a grand slam, inside-the-park home run during that one.
Back when Morehead pitched, though, we had no post-season hopes. In fact, if
I remember correctly, there were only a couple of thousand fans in the
stands. My friend Elaine and I were among them. (She had a crush on
Morehead, what can I tell you?)
Even though I'm in upstate New York (Schenectady), I am in awe of Derek Lowe.
Maybe this year, we won't have to root for ABY (Anyone BUT the Yankees), but
instead can root for the team we love.
Wanda Fischer -- Weymouth High School Class of 1966
Shea Hillenbrand part XXXVII
April 6, 2002:
Many people think that Shea Hillenbrand is one of the worst third-basemen in
the major leagues. However, you need to understand that he was a rookie that
year and batting .263 with 12 HRs last year. At
statistics show him most comparable to Jimmy Collins through age 25. Now
obviously, Jimmy Collins made the Hall of Fame and played for the Red Sox for
quite a while. So why is it that every Red Sox fan (or most of them) find it
easy to jump on Shea and yell and scream at him? Aside from that that's the
way they are, it's because he doesn't fit their genre of third basemen. Did
Wade Boggs ever bat .263? Hah! Fat chance, he did. When fans look at Shea
Hillenbrand, they see a 25 year old who shouldn't have gotten a shot at the
first place replacing John Valentin.
The fact is, Shea Hillenbrand is a good player. Maybe he doesn't hit for
power now, but he will eventually. Dwight Evans projected him to be a 30 HR
guy. Maybe he doesn't hit for average, and maybe he never will. The highest
I ever project him to hit is .290. But those are good statistics... 290 with
30 homers. You know, not everybody needs to hit over .300 with over 40 HRs
like Troy Glaus and Scott Rolen. I, personally, am quite fine with a .263
hitter, he gets the job done about 2.5 times out of 10 at-bats, which is
pretty good considering getting the job done 3 times out of 10 is a superstar.
The problem with people these days is most of them cling to their
stereotype positions and expect people to fill these stereotypes. They expect
a third baseman to hit with a lot of power. They expect a SS to have good
fielding and hit for average. 2B is supposed to have stellar defense, and a
1B is suppose to hammer those pitches to the moon. Outfielders have to have a
mix of power, speed and average, and so do catchers.
But there are plenty of good people out there that don't fit that
stereotype. John Olerud, for example. While Seattle may have stuffed the
ballots in 2001 for the All-Star Game, it was a well-deserved election. Bret
Boone, another example. Everyone was so surprised at his breakout year. Not
just because it was him, but because it was the position. There were
basically no shortstops that went against the stereotype. All this means that
it doesn't matter what position you play. Your talents can be utilized at
every position. If I had to choose either a 1B that had not-so-great defense
with a bad knee that once hit 70 homers and a 3B that averages about .240 with
50 HRs, both in their late 30s, or a 1B that has stellar defense, hits over
.300 and hammers 11 HRs that is around 37 and a .263, 12 HR guy entering the
prime of his career, I'd choose the latter.
There is no cause to get on Shea Hillenbrand. The poor guy is trying! There's no reason to get on him because he didn't hit .300, because he didn't
jack 40 homers. And you cannot get on him because of his defense. He had 4
errors after the All-Star Break compared with 14 before. If that's not
improvement, I don't know what it is. Recently on projo's boards, someone
pointed out that Hillenbrand was forcing himself to take pitches,
particularily one that was a BP fastball right down the middle, then hacking
at a pitch around the eyes. Someone else compared him to Wade Boggs (oh, the
irony...) but was quickly negated when the reader replied that Boggs knew
which pitches to take and which not to. That doesn't matter! The thing here
is that Shea Hillenbrand is TAKING the pitches.The strike zone will come.
He's showing an effort to solve a problem, and we should not get on him for
that. I personally would rather have Shea Hillenbrand over Gordon Edes any
day. We're slamming Shea for trying. We're slamming him for having ENOUGH,
the key word here is ENOUGH...talent to make the major leagues and try and
adapt to please the fans. We should be slamming ourselves for sitting on our
fat asses and complaining about Shea Hillenbrand. Or Pedro. Or Rey Sanchez. Let them do their jobs. They've proven they can do it. Don't slam them. I
would rather have Rey Sanchez hit .250 and have no errors than hit .350 and
lead the league in errors.
Quite frankly, leave him alone.
Monday, February 18, 2002
From recent indications it appears
Duquette will be asked to leave the Red Sox organization immediately following
closing. Bob Lobel reported that Duquette told a close friend "I'm telling
everybody I'm the GM... they can fire me if they want to, but I'm telling
everyone I'm the GM." Duquette also told reporters that the new owners
"were looking forward to working with him." Reached by phone, Lucchino told
Shaughnessy that he was "surprised" Dan (Duquette) would say that and offered
an official "no comment until close." As Gordon Edes reported, the
Port-Thomas-Epstein-Melvin transition team is ready to roll...
Duke supporters fire back
"I'm going to get beat up for this one, but someone has to ask
it. When should the Red Sox consider trading Pedro Martinez and Nomar
"...Give me a break, will you. By what stretch of the
imagination will it be in the new owners' best fiscal interests to strip this
team of its most valuable parts?
Do you really think they're nothing but a bunch of Carl Icahns?
That they'd have gone to all this trouble if their only purpose were to
dismantle the franchise and sell off its component parts?"
January 14, 2002
Will new owners yell 'fire sale' in crowded ballpark?
On the fire sale timetable, I don't foresee much action until
the end of the season.
Here are my reasons:
(i) The Henry/Werner/Lucchino group is (and will be) riding a decent wave of
publicity (except maybe on Dennis and Callahan). They've no good reason to
ruin it during the season, especially if the team is playing well.
(ii) During periods of relative calm, any good organization makes hay on the
most vulnerable fronts-- they will really be talking turkey with more limited
partners, especially those that can add value like waterfront real estate to
the group. They will also be busy talking to pols about the new park-- very
hush hush and behind the scenes. They probably learned from the Kraft fiasco
to have the cards in hand before betting their entire pot.
(iii) IMO, really good PR has a cause-and-effect component. Last year, many
fans, even those with casual interest probably felt cheated that the three
cornerstone players of this squad didn't play a single game together. It will
be difficult to make a move in the middle of a season to get rid of any one of
them without their having played a season together. If the Sox don't get a
playoff berth this year (and I suspect go deep enough in the playoffs to make
the team some real money), the owners can come back with:
"Hey-- we tried it their (the JH/DD/Yawkey Trust) way and it didn't work. It's
costing us a tremendous amount, and we don't want to raise ticket prices, etc.
Now we're going to try it OUR way-- through building from within for the
future." Then there will be a Saturday night massacre in which DD, JK, half of
the front office staff-- coaches, scouts, minor league personnel, and ONE star
player will go.
My suspicion is that the player in
question will be Martinez. Although undeniably great and in his prime, I don't
think that Martinez embodies the Sox in the way a home grown everyday player
like Nomar does. Plus, as an ace pitcher, he could go for a king's ransom (of
Baseball America-approved prospects) to a contender (especially if his arm
proves itself to be sound this year). Position players by their very nature
will always go for slightly less. Manny, being the player with the highest
valued contract, and the least utility-- he has to play a corner outfield
position in the NL, and can DH in the AL-- will be the hardest to move.
(iv) The most clear indication that something is up with finances will be the
Sox inability to pull the trigger on a trade (for an IMPACT player) at
mid-season. Injuries or ineffectiveness at 2B, 3B, or the pen may necessitate
a move, but it will be a waiver deal for a player like Sadler, or for a mop up
relief pitcher. Rolen will still be there, but there will exist "contractual
There will be two forces opposing one another on the PR front this year. If
the Sox fare badly and look to be out of it pretty soon after the All Star
break, the new owners will point not to the Marlins' or to the Padres' fire
sale, but to that of the White Sox, who traded away vets in the middle of a
season in which they were less than 5 games out of the wild card race. Sox
fans (and perhaps some of the media) OTOH will point to a playoff appearance
as THE important measure of success. If the Sox look to have salted away the
wild card by late August, it will be very difficult for the new owners to save
face after getting rid of a vet, or a star player-- it'll be worse than
suspicious-- it'll look like the fix is in.
moffatram - "Your Turn"
December 24, 2001
The Media is Killing Us?
CUT TO: New
Hampshire School. Kay leads a group of children into schoolyard. -day
KAY: (to the
children) Come on, Nancy -- keep together, everyone. Blanche -- Okay, all
right... (then, when Kay notices Michael standing beside his Cadillac) How
long have you been back?
been back a year. Longer than that, I think. (then) It's good to see you,
Country road. Michael and Kay are walking together as Michael's car follows
behind. A boy on his bike passes, followed by his dog. -day
BOY: (as he
passes) Come on, Dano!
working for my father now, Kay. He's been sick -- very sick.
KAY: But you're
not like him, Michael. I thought you weren't going to become a man like your
father. That's what you told me...
father's no different than any other powerful man -- (then, after Kay
laughs)-- Any man who's responsible for other people. Like a sportswriter or a
KAY: You know
how naive you sound?
Sportswriters and presidents don't have men killed...
MICHAEL: Oh --
who's being naive, Kay?
- DanlMac, "Your Turn"
December 6, 2001
What I'll Miss About Carl
Carl Everett is likely to be dealt before the start of next
season. Many will breathe a sigh of relief. Many will rejoice.
Not I. I’m a Carl Everett fan. And I won’t apologize for being
I’ll miss him.
In fact, I wish we had eight more just like him.
I know, I know. He was a distraction. He’s out of control. He’s
Say what you want. You can’t persuade me that this guy doesn’t
belong on the team.
Okay, okay. Let’s go over the negatives. What are they,
exactly? He was hurt last year. Yeah. That sucks. He wasn’t as terrific as he
should have been. He tried to do too much to compensate for his injuries. He
was miserable this season against lefties. He has a short fuse. He has a
problem dealing with authority. He has a problem dealing with pointless,
arbitrary rules. Like getting on a damn bus when the boss says so. As a
result, he upsets certain kinds of people. People like Jimy Williams. (This
may, in fact, be a POSITIVE.)
Anything else? Speak now, or forever hold your peace. Or piece.
Here’s what I liked about the guy, and what I’ll miss.
I loved the way Everett pounded himself
on the head with his bat when he struck out. That’s the kind of guy I want on
my team. Not guys like Derek Lowe and Darren Lewis who bitch and moan when
someone shows up to work a half an hour late. (Anyone who even NOTICED that
Everett was a half hour late should apologize for watching the clock rather
than focusing on their own damn jobs.)
I loved the way he ran the hell out of every routine ground
ball, every pop up, every easy fly out.
I loved the way Everett shouted “GO! GO! GO! GO! GO!” when
Donnie Sadler was on first and the game was on the line. (Sadler didn’t go of
course, thanks to Jimy, and the season was over.)
I loved the way he twitched and jerked like a psycho-killer
when he was at bat. Like his blood stream was chock full of some nasty-assed
amphetamines. Scared the hell out of me. I want players like that. Players
that scare the hell out of me. Why? Because if I’m scared, imagine what
the opposing pitcher is feeling.
I loved the way he went full-throttle after every ball hit his
way. (I hated the way this practice led to injury.) I loved that he thought he
was a better fielder than he really was.
I loved the way Pedro and Nomar took his side in his battle
against the media.
I loved the way Pedro referred to him as “Doctor Evil.” I loved
that this cracked Everett up.
I loved the way he irritated the hell out of Dan Shaughnessy.
In fact, I loved the way he wore out his welcome with the entire Boston press
corp. Anytime these loons get their knickers in a twist, you know that
something is going right.
I loved the way he exposed Derek Lowe to be the selfish, petty
prig that he is.
I loved the way Manny wore an Everett jersey during his first
Red Sox interviews with ESPN.
I loved every one of his at bats. I always felt that something
MAJOR was about to happen. Even if it didn’t, you somehow knew that it could
have. Or that it should have. Or would have, if the damn umpire had let him
take the space that was rightfully his.
I loved the toothpick. Crazy and dangerous. A ball is coming at
you at 90-plus miles an hour, and you've got a sharp piece of wood in your
mouth. I like that. We need more guys with toothpicks. More guys who don’t
give a damn if they tear the hell out of their gums and cheeks as long as they
get a hit and look mean as hell doing it.
I loved the way he arrogantly trotted around the bases after a
home run, and then touched his heart and pointed to the heavens, as though the
Powers That Be didn’t notice his delightfully smug self-satisfaction.
I loved the way he spoiled Mussina’s perfect game. I
immediately thought of the nice aliens in Galaxy Quest. “NEVER GIVE UP!
I loved that he grabbed his crotch and spat after showing up
the pitcher who nailed him earlier in the game. We need more guys with that
nasty, in-your-face attitude. I’ve been rooting for nice guys for too long. In
my thirty-nine years most of my votes have been cast for nice guys who
finished last. Enough of that nonsense. Give me guys like Pedro who wish for a
time machine so they have the opportunity to plunk Babe Ruth in the ass. Give
me guys with that perfect “TAKE THAT” lack of class. Enough of the thoughtful,
generous, kind-hearted talentless losers. Give me some difficult, cranky,
driven, talented winners.
I’m deeply concerned that we won’t get equal value for Carl.
Keep him. He isn’t the first Boston athlete with an attitude.
If Red found a way to deal with Russell, then Joe can find a way to deal with
Ah, what the hell am I talking about? He’s gone.
- DanlMac, "Your Turn"
December 6, 2001
Subject: Total Revenue:
Yankees vs. Red Sox
New York Yankees:... $242,208,000
Boston Red Sox:....... $176,982,000
That seems about right. $66 million a year difference. So
basically, if the Red Sox had the same amount of money as the Yankees, Dan
Duquette could have taken his 2001 roster, with all its warts, and added Roger
Clemens, Jason Giambi, Bernie Williams, and Mariano Rivera, and still turned a
Gee, I'm glad the Yankees don't win because of their financial advantage.
Also, they break down expenses into two categories. The first is "player and
pension compensation" This number is $117 million for NY and $118 million for
Boston. Thus, these numbers represent ONLY MAJOR LEAGUE payroll. Where are the
signing bonuses paid to draft picks and international free agents, plus
contractual buyouts, located on these books?
The only other expense category is "National and Other Local Operating
Expenses" This is where it has to be! Now, there are other things in here,
like hotels and airfare I bet, but those have to be almost equal across each
team, so any differences here are related to differences in what teams spend
on scouting and player development. Look at the disparity:
Red Sox....... $55,799,000
Disgusting. That's a $28 million difference in scouting and development. In
order to match the Yankees in that area, Boston would have to cut its major
league payroll by more than 25 percent.
- DieHard3, Your Turn