Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Reality Bytes: Relief

A keen sense of the obvious reveals what all of us know, the Red Sox relief pitching is killing them.

The Sox are 12th overall in pitching (ahead of powers Tampa and KC), 13th in relief pitching, and last in ERA (5.67) in 'close and late' situations, as well as 12th from innings seven to nine.

Looking deeper, we see they are 12th in relief strikeouts per nine innings, 11th in bullpen K/BB ratio, and 13th in OPS. They are only 10th in blown saves, because they are last in save opportunities. They are 11th in save percentage.

Why all the whining about the ineffectual bullpen? Obviously, over the long haul, strength up the middle wins championships, whether it's basketball (Duncan, Shaq), football (Brady et al.), baseball, checkers, or chess.

What options does Theo Epstein have? We have heard that the trade market is lean, and several circumstances argue against trading the young stud arms (Papelbon, Lester, Sanchez, Rozier, Alvarez). First, with so many teams in contention, the supply may be small and the price high. Second, the Sox have options, ranging from promoting an Alvarez or Papelbon, to signing power arm top choice Craig Hansen.

After Curt Schilling returns, somebody goes to the bullpen, probably Arroyo, keeping Wakefield and Mirabelli on track every fifth, and dramatically strengthening the middle compared to John Halama (we're barely knew ya). This isn't a knock on Arroyo, but rather reflecting the reality that behind Schilling, Clement, and Wakefield, neither Wells nor Miller are bullpen candidates.

This also presumes that the current group stays healthy, a tenuous position among the greybeards in the rotation.

So, Theo, we understand you're taking the most 'prudent' option, patience, while doing behind the scenes work with $cott Bora$ and have the minor league guns under the microscope. We're patient, and we're waiting.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Truck Stops Here

The Red Sox played an excruciating baseball game tonight against the Cleveland Indians. The Sox continually battled back, only to have 'gasoline alley' light up the Tribe as Keith 'Truck' Foulke continues to struggles.

Foulke seems to have lost his release point, as his customary pinpoint control vanished, resulting in the Clevelanders rallying from an 8-5 deficit on his watched, capped off by a Travis Hafner Slam (called by me) breaking an 8-8 deadlock in the ninth.

In addition to having command issues, Foulke's normal 87 mph fastball drifted down to 83-85 mph, just a shade ahead of batting practice velocity.

The Sox remain without a reliable closer, as perhaps Foulke needs anoth trip to Birmingham for a tuneup. Hey, we don't care if he's going for medical treatment, mechanical evaluation, or acupuncture, just let something work.

To make matters a bit worse, the Sox went meekly in the ninth, going out 1-2-3 on three pitches. Goodbye ballgame, hello sandwich meat and potato salad.

Somewhere out there, Craig Hansen is smiling.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Res Ipsa Loquitur*

"You're never as good as you look when you win, or as bad as you look when you lose."

Res ipsa loquitur*. The Sox and Phillies exchanged Alphonse and Gaston routines today, as each attempted to give away the game, before the Phillies succeeded, losing 12-8 to the Sox.

The Sox continued to knock the ball around and out of the park, with three more homers, including ones by Mark Bellhorn (5), Manny Ramirez (19), and Jason Varitek (13). Ramirez is a remarkable case, near the league lead in RBI and homers, and now in the top 10 in OPS (.914), despite seeming to struggle for most of the year. He also had his league-leading 10th outfield assist.

Ironically, it was 'small ball' that ignited the 8th inning rally as Johnny Damon laid down a perfect drag bunt against Rheal Cormier. Baseball fans will remember that portsiders have a natural follow-through to the third base side, making fielding drag bunts more difficult.

Relief pitching, thy name is inconsistency, with David Wells surrendering 5 runs in 5 innings, Matt Mantei pitching a solid 6th (so much for the Blass theory), Alan Embree blowing up in the 7th, ably assisted by Ramon Vasquez infield play, and Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke putting the lid on over the last three innings.

From a consistency standpoint, triumphant Terry Francona has to weather Prozac moments when calling to the pen. No wonder the skipper had his 'fake heart attack' earlier this season.

In twenty-two games in June, the Sox have scored 131 runs, and are at .353/.506/.859. For the season, the Sox are at 3, 5, 10, 16, and 22 in OPS (Ortiz, Varitek, Ramirez, Nixon, Damon) and Bill Mueller is at 32. The Orioles are at 1, 4, and 15 with Brian Roberts, Miggy Tejada, and Melvin Mora, and Texas has 8, 9, 11, 13, and 17 with Teixeira, Dellucci, Mench, Soriano, and Young, with Blalock at 34.

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are 1-2 in RBI, both in the top 5 in homers, and Damon (2) and Ortiz (6) are among the leaders in runs scored.

Next up for the Sox is Cleveland, with the Sox missing C.C. Sabathia who worked today.

* Literally, the thing speaks for itself.


When you're riding, only the race in which you're riding is important.
-Bill Shoemaker

The Red Sox achieved a number of milestones this week, claiming first place and going over the .500 mark on the road. Meanwhile, their chief AL East Division rivals the Orioles and Yankees hit some bumps in the road. The Orioles had already been without their ace Eric Bedard, and now Bruce Chen develops pitching lameness. Meanwhile, the Bronx Bombers do the unthinkable, losing 3 of 4 at home to the D-Rays and then two more to crosstown rivals the Mets.

Short memories create long careers. The last game, inning, at-bat, or free throw become indelible history, with focus required on today's contest. Whether in sports or stock trading, yesterday's events can't have carry-through on today's performance for long-term success. The Sox have shown considerable resilience in harnessing adversity and from the catbird's seat, they have the opportunity to perform looking over their collective shoulders. We'll see which is more palatable.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Blass-ted? McYankee speaketh.

Matt Mantei gets celebrated for his 'electric' stuff. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Mantei has plus velocity and a sharp-breaking curveball. However...

Aside from general ineffectiveness, Mantei came into today's action with 24 innings pitched, 18 walks, and 4 hit batsmen in 89 batters faced. He hit one batter in three faced today. He's hit three left-handed batters this season already, not easy for a right-hander with a tailing fastball.

Does Matt Mantei have 'Steve Blass Disease' or at least some variant? Blass was an effective pitcher for the Pirates who developed the inability to throw the ball over the plate or even remotely where he wanted it. Numerous players have suffered from the condition since. Off the top of my head, I can think of Mackey Sasser, Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch, Matt Young (throwing to bases), Mark Wohlers, and Rick Ankiel. I suppose that strictly speaking, only pitchers can have Blass Disease, but let's be liberal and inclusive.

Knoblauch had a well-documented case, because he played for the Yankees, hit Keith Olbermann's mother in the stands with one of his throws, and became the butt of one of Bill Scheft's* jokes "they should send Knoblauch to Cuba, so he could overthrow Castro." I also recall a closeup of Knoblauch LOOKING AT HIS THROWING HAND while throwing (errantly) to first. No wonder the ball didn't end up in the first base zip code.

Anyway, diagnosing Mantei seems like a reasonable concern. Tim "McYankee" McCarver asked whether Mantei even belongs on the team, after lamenting the Red Sox 'tragic' defeat of the Yankees last year.

My vote is that Mantei does have what we in medicine call a 'form fruste' of Blass Disease. And as Martha Stewart might say, "that is not a very good thing."

*Here are some Scheft references:

Most of the reviewers of his book seem to hate it, so I'll guess that Bill made a lot of enemies in his career.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Quality Start

I've reviewed in the past the very old data about the QUALITY START being a useful statistic. Simply, quality starts result in about 70 percent winning percentage, and probably higher on a good hitting team.

Among the top 30 pitchers in quality starts, Chicago has 4 (Buehrle, Garland, Garcia, and Contreras), Detroit has 4, Boston has 3 (Clement, Arroyo, Wakefield), the Angels have 3, Baltimore has 2, New York has 2, Texas has 1.

Quality start leaders in the AL (top 5) are Kenny Rogers, Roy Halladay, Mark Buehrle, Jarod Washburn, and Matt Clement, the first three with 12 and the last two with 11. Collectively their record is 41 and 12.

The top five in ERA are Rogers, Bartolo Colon, Halladay, Buerhle, and Chris Young with a collective record of 44-16.
The top five in WHIP ratio are Santana, Halladay, Buehrle, Garland, and Garcia. Collective record 46-13.
Top five in strikeouts are Santana, Halladay, Johnson, Jeremy Bonderman, and Clement. Record 42-17.

The top five in K/BB ratio are Brad Radke, Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Carlos Silva, and Randy Johnson. Their collective record is 36-21.

The top five in innings pitched are Halladay, Buehrle, Santana, Radke, and Garcia. Collective record is 39-17.

The Sox team ERA has fallen to 4.65, 11th in the AL, and the K/BB ratio is now 7th. Sox starters are ninth in ERA and 6th in K/BB ratio.

Minor doings. Jon Lester pitched seven shutout innings allowing 2 hits and fanning 10 in a Portland 3-2 loss.

Lenny DiNardo got a victory allowing a run in six innings, and Dustin Pedroia is at .308 after three games with the PawSox and had a stolen base tonight in a 5-1 win.

Van, Damn!

Good for Eric. Eric probably doesn't remember me, but we attended college together back in the Dark Ages, when you could get a pizza at Harvard Pizza for 99 cents. A good pizza, too, tasty with some orange soda.

Numbers are just one of the reasons fans love baseball. Peyton Manning set an NFL record this year throwing X touchdowns. We remember Hank Aaron (755), Ruth (714), and even Mays (660). Statistics are just ingrained as a huge part of the analysis of baseball.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

20 Million Dollar Manny

I don't know Manny Ramirez, but watching him play baseball, he looks pretty happy. Yes, he makes some errors, and some baserunning FUBARs, but he also has a lot of outfield assists and has been ripping the baseball lately.

So you say, he makes 20 MILLION DOLLARS. Mucho dinero, a lotta dollars, serious bling. Is that his fault? Realistically, there isn't any baseball player who earns that kind of money annually, but it isn't just the stars who produce 100 dollar tickets, but the high cost of mediocrity.

I'd guess that every Sox fan in New England would have chipped in 10 bucks to pay Manny if we could be guaranteed the championship. Heck, I got the Sox 2005 jacket, T-shirts, Red Sox Monopoly, a couple of hats, NESN on cable. Feeling like Ben Wrightman?

What would Manny have to do to earn 20 million? Hit .400, 50 homers and 150 RBI, All-Star, Gold Glove and MVP? Sign 1000 autographs a day, 5000, sing the National Anthem, come to your house for hot dogs and beans?

Come on, people, be realistic. We're Red Sox fans and it's never going to be good enough. Never, even a game out after a crummy stretch AND two games up on the wild card. Not so bad.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Bullpen Quotes

Can you fix this mess, Theo?

Tito tells Dave Wallace to warm up the pen.

Does Jason Varitek think this when the pen pals are coming in?

Sox fans talk to Alan Embree before a recent outing.

Can the Sox win with this bullpen?

Enemy batters hear the relief corp is coming in.

Conehead Wisdom for Honest Fans and Dishonest Trade

Beldar Conehead: If I did not fear incarceration of human authority figures I bring pressure to your blunt skull and cause it to collapse!

A pharmaceutical representative came in today with a legitimate concern, ticket scalping. She and her husband (a longtime Pirate fan) had tried to get tickets for the weekend series with the Bucs. Although they couldn't get tickets, scalpers had handfuls, asking 100 dollars pregame and 75 in the third inning.

Being sensible people, they passed and went home disappointed after stopping in a nearby pub. She noticed the scalper came into the pub with 'fistfuls of money' as though he were a drug dealer (obviously she hadn't read Steve Levitt's book Freakonomics and its evaluation of the economics of drug dealing).

Recently a Sox fan living in Pittsburgh (caller from sports radio) noted that his tickets (purchased from EBAY) were confiscated by the ticket scanner as EBAY resale isn't permitted.

So, if you want to get Sox tickets, you need to go through legitimate channels or go without.

Apparently, savvy management can control the isolated flow of contraband tickets via the dreaded Internet, but can't disrupt the unmitigated movement of 'legal' tickets via the street trade.

Hey, I understand the Red Sox fundamental desire- allow no one but the officialdom of the Red Sox to gouge fans for tickets. Yet, I wonder how ticket agencies and scalpers can get 'mass quantities of consumables', when the lifeblood of the franchise, John Q. Public goes empty-handed.

Perhaps legal wizard and mathematics mastermind Theo Epstein and his (fondness intended) statheads can use their books and numbers to make this right.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Agony of Victory

Last evening's exhibition showed the fickleness of the baseball gods, as they turned the proverbial 'laugher' into a white-knuckler by the names of Embree and Foulke. Embree appeared to be throwing the ball better (although arrow-straight) and Foulke, who had pitched far better recently, had nothing, no velocity, no location, and no duende. He did preserve the victory, however.

On the scale of good wins to bad losses, somehow this felt a lot closer to the bad loss spectrum. That makes no sense in any normal reality, because 'a win is a win'. There was no palpable injury or loss, but only unnerving psychic energy dispensed.

As we are almost at the halfway point in the season, perhaps we should call out the Professor, and ask him for a progress report if not a full report card. The stipulation about the grading is that it occurs on an absolute scale, not relative to the players' historical norm.

Varitek--- A the most important player on the team
Mirabelli--- B has a tough act to catch

Millar--- C+ the corner position should be a power spot
Olerud--- B- the professor considered incomplete
Bellhorn--- C+ swing batter, batter
Renteria--- B- remember it's relative, not absolute scale
Mueller--- B- definitely an uptrend
Youkilis--- I incomplete, through no fault of his own
Vasquez--- D+ not an asset

Designated Hitter:
Ortiz--- A Senor Octubre has been Senor Season

Damon--- A Everything you want in a leadoff hitter
Ramirez--- B Stats suffer by comparison, but still productive
Nixon--- B You can't get an A as a platoon player
Payton--- B- Points off for whining, but productive nonetheless

Schilling I Incomplete
Clement A A is for All-Star berth deserved
Miller B- Not bad, not great
Arroyo B- Inconsistent as off late
Wells B- When he was good, he was very good
Wakefield C+ Trying to find his groove
Gonzalez C Limited action

Halama C- Not a factor
Myers B+ Getting the lefties out
Mantei C Waiting.......
Embree D Has he lost it?
Timlin A The Energizer Bunny
Foulke C+ Better than you think, mediocre but not average

Francona B+ You try winning with a 'C' bullpen.

Monday, June 20, 2005


What words best describe Sox fans? Passionate, loyal, obsessed, angry, insatiable? Last year the Sox did the unthinkable but possible, actually won the whole enchilada.

At times, it seems as though we're back to square one, led of course, by critical works like my 'panic button' picture, the daily flaying of Edgar Renteria by much of the sports radio rabble, and our latest whipping boys, Alan Embree and Jay Payton.

Embree, to his credit, acknowledges that he's underachieved. Payton just wants to play. Embree has a pretty fair post-season track record and done poorly in relief this year. Payton has a more mediocre dossier but has performed admirably off the bench.

Let's spread the wealth, with our 'wish list'

Jason Varitek - just lay off the high, hard ones.
Kevin Millar - if you have to carry the piano while running, don't play it Mark Bellhorn - contact...think contact
Edgar Renteria - don't listen to these nitwits, just have fun
Bill Mueller - keeping icing the knees
Manny - be yourself, and don't be
Johnny Damon - remember, money isn't everything; talk to Kapler
Trot Nixon - don't feel bad about the lefties, Payton has to play, too
David Ortiz - don't ever change
Curt Schilling - get well
Terry Francona - a healthy Schilling will boost your IQ 20 points
Keith 'Truck' Foulke - 2 mph on the fastball
Tim Wakefield - wind resistance
Matt Clement - continue to find the tight slider
David Wells - sharpen up the curveball
Bronson Arroyo - a third pitch
Wade Miller - reducing the pitch count
Kevin Youkilis - P.T.
Dale Sveum - decision analysis software, and a sense of humor
Matt Mantei - command
John Halama - a comfortable pillow for the bullpen

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Running in Place (W8-0) 38-30 GB 3

The Sox won behind erstwhile ace Matt Clement, who moved to 8-1, 3.48 as he makes a bid for an All-Star berth.

Sidelights included two hits and a walk from Trot Nixon, leading off in place of an injured Johnny Damon, and two hits and a homer from malcontent Jay Payton, who has performed well in limited duty (.328/.459/.787) and .500/.923/1.423 the past week.

Alan Embree starred in 2 innings of 'Dawn of the Dead' with three strikeouts and no walks, in a 'Baby Steps' move in from the gangplank.

Reality Check. The Sox remain three games back behind the Orioles, who are rumored to be discussing dealing for Andy Pettitte for Jorge Julio and Jay Gibbons. The O's have full coffers from the spoils delivered by MLB via the Washington Nationals and continue to play good baseball.

The Sox are 1/2 game behind the Twins in the Wild Card race, and 1/2 a game ahead of both Texas and (huh?) the Tribe. The Yankees are two games back having gotten well after playing the Pirates and the Cubs.

Absent Curt Schilling, with inconsistent relief most of the season, we have to consider the Sox very fortunate to be competitive.

We can't know what Curt Schilling can give us, in terms of quality or quantity. The pitching staff largely righted itself this week, although the bullpen remains a sore spot.

We can't know where the Craig Hansen negotiations are, or whether Hansen might be able to contribute this season. Hansen is a special case as he is believed to be closer to the majors than other top choices. Can Hansen's fate and Johnny Damon's be linked? How do the Sox view Brandon Moss for the future (as a rightfielder)?

We also know that it's a seller's market for trades, and the Sox have hot commodities that realistically have a possibility to become cornerstones. Jon Papelbon has been terrific lately, and Jon Lester pitched another 6 innings today, giving up a run and fanning 10. Trading either for a rent-a-player doesn't make sense.

Peter Gammons mentioned that the Sox have had offers for Bill Mueller (and a replacement in Kevin Youkilis) but are reluctant to deal Mueller.

Overall, it's hard not to be puzzled by what this team is right now. It's reasonable to expect at least as good if not better offense, mediocre defense, and better pitching, either from the existing staff or via a couple of moves. The most 'economical' would involve 'hope' moves; the Sox might get a better preview of Papelbon and Lester by bringing them up to Pawtucket to face AAA hitters rather than throwing them directly into the fire. A successful audition at Pawtucket might give Theo the impetus to go for it with the kids instead of via bids.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Pen still leaking (L2-0)

The good news: my wife and I went out to see Revenge of the Sith instead of staying home to watch the Sox-Pirates.

The bad news: heard the collapse of the pen ending the five game winning streak solution.

Solutions? Letterman must have answer
10) Alan Embree to take over for Alan Greenspan
9) Hey Jay Payton, wanna pitch?
8) Theo, it's okay for you to take one for the team on the bullpen.
7) Craig Hansen, wipe that Cheshire cat smile off your face.
6) Ditto Scott Boras
5) Jeremi Gonzalez can't do any worse than Halama. Really.
4) Come on Tim, you got a few more pitches in you.
3) Move the wall back a few feet.
2) We got Cla-mation for the Nation.
1) Bring back Dave McCarthy

It's All Good, Right?

Coming off of a World Series Championship, we have to love everything about the Red Sox, right? I'm sure you have a couple of 'sore points' about the Sox, Fenway, and the Ballpark Experience. Add 'em.

1. Concessions. A friend went to Fenway this week and bought four waters, high quality H2O. Total $17.00. The commodity of the 21st century. A bleacher ticket to Game 1, 1975 Reds at Red Sox cost me $4.50. Still got the stub.

2. Obstructed view seats. Nice picture in The Globe yesterday. "Well, nobody holds a gun to your head to buy the seats." Caveat emptor.

3. Boorish fan behavior. No matter where you sit, it seems that there is always an obnoxious, cursing, drunken fan no farther than three sheets, er seats, away. That's a fact, Jack. 'They' say that Fenway is doing a better job policing this behavior. Didn't work for my daughter and me last September 24, 2004, when the ushers took away the drunks in the eighth inning.

4. Imperial attitudes. Ballplayers, movie stars, doctors, lawyers, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers have a right to attitudes about everything from religion, to politics, to various social issues. There's no reason to think that "Jolting Joe Blow" has an opinion that is any better than my next door neighbors or yours.

5. Indignation at treatment by 'them'. Fans and media have a right to criticize players who underachieve through lack of effort, lack of concentration, or lack of professionalism (alcohol, drugs, or 'carousing'). We don't have a right to criticize players families, backgrounds, or other strictly personal issues. We understand that players can't overachieve every day, week, or season. We do expect players to show up focused, rested, and sober.

Fans love guys who show up on time, don't whine, and give it 100% every day. Guys like Varitek, Nixon, and Ortiz clearly 'get it'. I'm sure that a lot of other guys do, too, and we know that management is working to get all 25 guys on the roster and those who want to be on the same page.

Friday, June 17, 2005

LaRussa Dogma and Dirty Water Time (W6-5)

One of the worst elements of baseball is the constant matchup manipulation in the late innings with mediocre pitchers substituting for other mediocre pitchers to face mediocre hitters. This continuation of the LaRussa Doctrine, inspired by such 'great' relievers as Darold Knowles lives on. Meanwhile fans die of old age and new fans disappear with boredom. Or course, it often works, like tonight.

Instant replay in baseball may never come, but plays like tonight's drop of a double play ball deserves replay. "It destroys the flow of the game," the purity of the game. Not as much as the constant substitution of relief pitchers.

Jay Payton grouses because he's not getting enough face time, i.e. at bats. Payton's a valuable guy to have on a team, runs well, and has some pop. Granted he had 28 homers at Colorado in 2003, a feat that didn't even get him resigned at Coors. Reality Check absolutely wants every major league player to want everyday action. Payton's 162 game career projections are 17 homers, OPS .778. Johnny Damon's are 14, OPS .782, and Trot Nixon's are 24 homers .863. Does Payton think he's better than Damon or Nixon and deserve more P.T.? Puh-lease. Oh yeah, he pinch hits for Nixon and grounds into a DP. That may be the definition of irony.

Jason Varitek makes the plate block of a lifetime, stretching across his body to catch Manny Ramirez's throw on the short hop, backhanded, while blocking the plate with his backside leg. Incredible.

Edgar Renteria triples to lead off the eighth and gets stranded at third. What's the chance of that happening? I'd guess that the statistical chance of that happening is less than 10 percent. I can't find that data. Anybody got that? Theo?

The Sox get another runner to third with no out in the ninth, and it's Dirty Water time. Sox win on a Damon roller through the drawn in infield. Guns don't kill teams, statistics do?

Minor Setback. Meanwhile Abe Alvarez and Kason Gabbard get lit up like Christmas trees for the PawSox and Sea Dogs tonight. Whatever. Theo says on WEEI that he's not going to trade the future for rent-a-players. You are truly the man, Master Theo. At least until tomorrow...

Sox in the Hall

Which current and former Sox players have Hall of Fame credentials yet aren't in the pantheon of stars at Cooperstown?

On the mound, it's impossible to overlook Pedro Martinez, the best pitcher of his generation, albeit without the durability and numbers of Roger Clemens. If I had to win one game, Pedro in his prime was the guy. Luis Tiant remains deserving, but I wonder whether Luis will ever get there. He played for some bad teams and doesn't get as much credit as he would have had the Sox won the series in his era. Curt Schilling had a slow career start and has had a gangbusters finish. The black and grey ink stats at plus his postseason heroics (bloody sock not included) argue that he's going to Cooperstown, 200 wins or not.

I'm a closet Dwight Evans guy whose defense and second half of his career gets him in. Unfortunately, the first years of his career drag his candidacy down, and Dewey's probably going to have to be content with Bill James' notion that he's the best right fielder not in the Hall. Jim Rice was the dominant right-handed slugger of his era, although 'surliness' and relative career brevity limit his possibility. Rice was a much better defender than acknowledged (think about Greenwell in left) and had the Sox had him in the post-season in 1975, maybe the 86 years was a mere 57. Manny Ramirez seems like a lock from this viewpoint.

David Ortiz is coming into his own, and at age 29 has already played in 7 post-season series, winning 5 of them. 'Cookie' could be a 400+ homer guy with a lengthy and healthy career. As Joaquin Andujar would say, "they have a word for it in English - youneverknow."

In the infield, Nomar Garciaparra presents enigmatic possibilities. When healthy and happy, Nomar was among the best hitters of this era, could run, and made spectacular plays, although objectively he was an average overall defender (check the numbers). Unfortunately, the NFL mantra 'ability and durability' hurts Nomar. Can he get in without a few more stellar seasons? Ask Tony Oliva, who won three batting titles, led the league in hits five times, and was an eight time All-Star.

Is Winning Boring?

Amidst the 'Moneyball' teams, Boston, Toronto (Ricciardi), Los Angeles (DePodesta), and Oakland (Beane) we note variable success. The Sox (and a lot of cash) validated the concept last season, Toronto is good for their payroll, the Dodgers are competitive, and Beane, er, pulls up the rear.

BUT, I ask are the Sox as 'interesting' taking a lot of pitches, getting on base via the walk, wearing out the starter, and hoping for the three-run homer? Winning is everything, and I wouldn't trade the World Series title for 240 homers and losing, but I hope that the Sox are developing more complete players in the minors.

Last night Ted Sarandis expressed great reservation about the talents of Millar and Bellhorn, to name two starters. They aren't great players, and you don't buy great talent for 'shoestring' salaries (wouldn't I like to live on theirs, each over ten times mine). They do what they do. They play adequate defense, get on base, and contribute. You want fifteen all-stars on your team? Root for the Yankees.

Wouldn't it be terrific to see homegrown Ichiros and Beltrans, some guys who can run and make spectacular defensive plays? Yes, what have Ichiro and Beltran ever won, but here's hoping that Hanley, Pedroia, Moss, and the stud pitchers can bring not only winning but a bit more athleticism and excitement to the lineup.

A Simple Thought

Before we have any more naming ceremonies at Fenway, maybe it's time for a simple monument to remember Victoria Snelgrove.

If her family found it appropriate and desired, maybe a small plaque somewhere inside the ballpark would be fitting. The plaque could be dedicated in a private ceremony, away from the bright lights that surround everything Boston Red Sox.

Tragedies like this young girl's recur because we forget too easily. Nothing like this should ever happen again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Better Dead than Reds? (W6-1)

The Red Sox swept the Cincinnati Reds behind outstanding starting pitching from Bronson Arroyo, and relief efforts from Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke. Arroyo (5-3, 4.26) had eight strikeouts, yielding six hits, two walks, and one run in seven innings. Timlin pitched the eighth, and Foulke fanned the side in the ninth.

Offensively, the Sox banged out another ten hits, with two apiece by Renteria, Ortiz, and Ramirez. Johnny Damon and Edgar Renteria each scored two runs, and Ortiz had 3 RBI with 2 for Mueller.

Worth noting. Mark Bellhorn fanned once tonight, his 71st in 61 games. Bellhorn has now struck out in over 30% of his at-bats. Still, he has an on-base percentage of over .350 and continues to play steady defense. Last year Bellhorn's Win Shares stats produced All-Star numbers (really) and I keep rooting for him to turn it around. I have never seen a player swing and miss more often.

At the other extreme, Kevin Youkilis strikes out only 8% of his at-bats and Johnny Damon 9.4%. Youkilis has walked 12.5% of his at-bats and Damon 12%. Damon entered tonight's game with a .396 OBP and an .869 OPS.

Old Friends. Shea Hillenbrand is hitting .306, but has minimal chance to make the All-Star team unless Cy Young clubhouse leader Roy Halliday (10-3, 2.33) comes up lame. Doug 'ball-hog' Mientkiewicz is hitting .206 with 7 homers for the Mets. Freddy Sanchez comes into town Friday with the Pirates, hitting .271, but with no homers in 115 at-bats. Dave "Mr. Class" Roberts is hitting .287 with 10 steals for the Padres. Not enough good things can happen to Mister Roberts. At last count, Gabe Kapler had just 3 homers and was hitting .153 for the Yomiuri Giants. Ouch.

Rolling Moss Gathers No Stones. The first place Sea Dogs win again, with three more hits for 21 year-old Brandon Moss including a homer (10). Moss was hitting about .220 a month ago and has been on a tear. Dustin Pedroia (.323) and Kenny Perez also had three hits. The Sea Dogs have won six in a row.

Shop Talk. Visiting the Respiratory Department, I commented how Sox fandom becomes almost an addiction. Asking how many people there watched the game last night, EVERYONE raised their hand. I asked if everyone watched the game every day. Sharon Drown, whose son Erik pitches in the Cardinals minor league system, replied, "Of course not. Sometimes we listen to the games on the radio if we're working in the yard."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Theo Reads Riot Act; Sox Respond (W7-0) 35-29

Following Theo Epstein's put up or shut up warning, the Sox responded with their third consecutive quality start, as David Wells (5-4, 4.54) threw seven one-hit innings to stop the Reds, 7-0. Wells didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning and had the Reds off balance all night. Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke completed the whitewash.

Offensively, Manny Ramirez (14) homered for the third straight game, and the Sox cranked out ten hits and garnered five walks. Trot Nixon, Bill Mueller, and Kevin Millar each had two hits.

Coming and going. Terry Francona returned to skipper the club after a day off at his daughter's graduation.

Minor achievement. The Portland Sea Dogs have regained first place in the Eastern League, although uber-prospect Hanley Ramirez is on the DL. Brandon Moss continues red hot for the Sea Dogs, raising his average to .295 at last count, with nine homers. Moss was hitting about .230 less than a month ago, but has been on a tear. Jared Sandberg now has 15 homers for the Sea Dogs, and Chris Durbin and Dustin Pedroia continue to hit over .300. David Murphy, overmatched for much of the season has also been swinging the bat better, raising his average to .232 and he has two homers in the past week.

Standing in Place. The Orioles lead the Astros 6-1 in the eighth as they seek to maintain their three game lead on the Sox.

Star Wars. David Ortiz is the top vote-getter in All-Star ballot returns, joined by Varitek and Ramirez as leading candidates at their positions.
Miraculously, for the most part, the balloting reflects achievement so far.
C - Varitek
1B - Tino Martinez
2B - Brian Roberts
SS - Miguel Tejada (leading MVP candidate)
3B - Alex Rodriguez
OF - Manny Ramirez
OF - Vladimir Guerrero
OF - Ichiro

Leading pitching candidates:

Kenny Rogers
Roy Halliday
Chris Young
Johan Santana
Mark Buehrle
John Garland
Mariano Rivera
Joe Nathan

The All-Star game will be played July 12, 2005 at the Tigers Comerica Park.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Pitch Count (W10-3) GB 3 ?

Football mentality. Judging each game as though it were the NFL weekly tilt.

Tonight's game would have been the Buffalo overtime win with David Patten getting knocked out, fumbling, but 'recovering' because he was out of bounds. One more strange play was Willy Mo Pena's attempt to catch Manny's homerun and deflecting it into the stands. Maybe Manny deserved a break.

Matt Clement, 7 wins in 63 games, had his slider and cutter working to the tune of 9 strikeouts, and Matt Mantei closed it out with his usual, er, command. Clement, the victim of no run support as a Cub, has felt the opposite while on the Sox. Clement also got his tenth quality start.

Maybe we fans shouldn't be so high on our own personal '8itch count', but a lot of the games have been painful to watch, amidst struggling pitching and inconsistent offense.

Maybe a decent homestand will calm the spirit of the nation. Three games out of the wild card with injuries and inconsistency aren't so bad.

Freak Show

The Sox have worked overtime providing unusual plays for their fans. Last night in the 8-1 thrashing of the Cubs, Johnny Damon AND Kevin Youkilis came up in the same inning with the opportunity to hit for the cycle. Didn't happen, no matter. We got to watch Tim Wakefield chug around the bases and saw a Sox pitcher get a hit for the second game in a row.

Tonight, we've already seen Ken Griffey, Jr. whiff twice, Edgar Renteria get a double when the Reds centerfielder broke in on a ball over his head, Jay Payton with a strange swing double off the wall, Bill Mueller tag out a runner oversliding a base, Manny with a bloop ground rule double just behind first base, and Manny take third base on an errant throw back to the pitcher.

The Baseball gods like having a good laugh at someone's expense.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Fooled by Randomness

As the Sox face the Cubs at Wrigley tonight, a few thoughts come to mind. First, it wasn't that long ago that Wrigley had no lights, so night baseball didn't exist there. Second, absent interleague play, the only way a Sox-Cubs tilt could exist would be in the World Series, an unlikely matchup.

The Sox enter the contest at 32-29, 17-9 at home and 15-20 on the road. The Sox are 18th in RPI, an ESPN contrivance designed to measure schedule-adjusted performance. Boston has only scored nine more runs than it has allowed, so their record is not far from what is expected from baseball's Pythagorean Theorem.

Terry Francona must reminisce for the 'good old days' of Philadelphia, when he had Curt Schilling. If you had told the average Sox fan that Curt Schilling would miss the first half of the season, that Manny Ramirez would hit .250, that Edgar Renteria would generally be mediocre except for one road trip, that Tim Wakefield would struggle, and that Keith Foulke would have an ERA of nearly six, and that the bullpen would be 13th in the AL, you might guess that the Sox would be eight or nine games behind right now.

Incredibly, despite all this mediocrity, the Sox are 3 games out in the loss column in the AL East and 4 games out for the Wild Card. Take out the rose-colored glasses.

Like the Yankees, the Red Sox suffer when compared with recent history, and when examined under the gilt microscope of salary escalation. Whether we accept it or not, the Sox are 'Yankees Light' in terms of payroll, although probably don't have as much accepted deadwood on their roster as the New Yorkers (Giambi, Bernie Williams, Kevin Brown).

Lower rent gambles such as Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller, and Wade Miller (where's Stu Miller?) don't create long-term payroll inflexibility. Of course, we don't know whether or when Curt Schilling will return and Edgar Renteria's ten-spot (ten million bucks) may end up sticking in the Sox craw.

The Sox team this year is a transitional team, in-between major free agent defections and a minor league system growing in both strength and depth. Any team with a 130 million dollar payroll doesn't want to say it's rebuilding, but the Sox are, rebuilding the rotation and the infield.

The Sox have high hopes for Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, and Brandon Moss, and optimism for their young pitching led by Jon Papelbon, Jon Lester, Anibal Sanchez, and Mike Rozier. Papelbon had an eight inning shutout with 12 strikeouts last night. Abe Alvarez seems to be finding himself in Pawtucket as well.

Presuming the Sox can hold onto most of their top pitchers, their biggest need is corner power (ideally from first base), while they can hope that Manny Ramirez regains his stroke.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Pen-Stained Sox Lose Again (L7-6) GB 4 1/2

A friend (Yankee fan) and I discussed the sorry state of baseball the other day, with the embarrassment of riches that encourages 'quality at bats', extended pitch counts, and getting into the opponents bullpen. The strategy worked somewhat on Carlos Zambrano today, but not as well as his baserunning that produced a foot injury.

Unfortunately for the Sox, Wade Miller also proved a victim of lack of pitching parsimony and he departed with the Sox trailing 5-4. As customary recently, the bullpen failed again, yielding two Cub runs in the eighth, and a Sox rally fell short, dropping a 7-6 decision to the Nomarless Cubs.

The defeat was the fourth in the past 5 days as the road trip continues to extract its toll.

Trot Nixon got the Sox off to a fast start in the first with a three-run shot to left center, followed by a second inning dinger by Bill Mueller.

Pen-Stained Sox. The Sox era for June has risen to (gulp) 6.92, and the Sox pen is allowing a league leading .812 OPS. They are next to last in K/9 innings, 12th in K/BB ratio, and 11th in WHIP ratio. Aside from Mike Timlin, nobody has been really effective, although Keith Foulke has pitched better recently.

The Sox are still second to Texas in offense, and if the pitching had been even mediocre, they would be challenging for the lead.

The question for Theo Epstein is what alternatives he has, for example, bringing up Abe Alvarez or Jeremi Gonzales from Pawtucket and giving up on (or finding a DL spot for) John Halama or Alan Embree. Clay Meredith seems to have found himself at Pawtucket, but I expect they'd like to have him get more experience first. If they brought up a starter, they could move Tim Wakefield to the bullpen, where his versatility and a change of scenery might help.

All things considered, it's probably best not to try to push Papelbon or Lester up from Portland until September callups; not that Theo's calling me, but I'd rather not make the Bagwell trade all over again. DO NOT TRADE OUR FUTURE FOR SOMEBODY ELSE'S PAST.

Obviously, Curt Schilling is a wildcard, but I don't think anybody can expect anything from him until further notice. In other words, you can't count on what you don't have.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Maybe a day off will be good medicine. Here are some places to visit on a night off. Overview and ratings comprehensive minor league site PawSox, the 'taxi squad' PawSox stats Portland, the 'launching pad' where the premium prospects are Sea Dogs stats Wilmington Blue Rocks stats Greenville of the Sallie League

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Tears of the Gods

Terry Francona announced that Kevin Millar would play left field and Manny Ramirez would sit out the final game of the Sox series in St. Louis. The baseball gods have rewarded Francona's decision with rain, both in the Gateway to the West and in The Hub as cats and dogs come pounding down.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heav'n in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
---William Blake

A poetic interlude in a spell of twelve games with six wins and six losses against the Yankees, Orioles, Angels, and Cardinals. Some will argue that the Sox have found their grip on the handlebars during this stretch, but that sounds like sister-kissing logic around here. The Yankees are not even Tony Massarotti's 'Fortune .500' team (make a fortune, play .500) now, the Orioles outplayed the Sox and got beat by David Ortiz, the Angels series was ugly, and the Cardinals have phlebotomized the Sox to the point the socks aren't blood red anymore.

Do the Sox deserve a mulligan, with Curt Schilling injured, Manny Ramirez playing like he's hurt, and the pitching staff wallowing in self-pity? I'll give 'em one, as long as they DO NOT TRADE AWAY THE FUTURE for somebody else's past.

One final question, if you had to rank the Sox top 5 players, AS IS (e.g. Curt Schilling is broken and can't be counted) who would you want for one game right now?

1. Jason Varitek - two-way excellence
2. David Ortiz - spiritual leader and clutch bat
3. Johnny Damon - moves down a little being banged up
4. Trot Nixon - if he could only hit lefthanders
5. Matt Clement - best of what the Sox have

Again, do not trade the future for somebody else's past.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Redbirds and Deadbirds (Down 9-2 in the 8th)

Admittedly, the Sox have faced a tough schedule recently, with the Yankees, Orioles, Angels, and Cardinals. Unfortunately, as much as we desire, they can't play Kansas City, Tampa, and Detroit enough.

Of course, it's not bad enough the Cardinals have been beating us like a rented mule, we have to humiliate ourself by throwing at (excuse me, how do you know?) Cardinal batters. Maybe it was a Drysdalian intentional walk.

Signs outside the Red Sox offices?

Wanted: pitching;

Don't ask, don't tell.

The Sox stump to beat the slump on the hump, as the pitching continues to beget, er, complaining. The Sox team ERA rapidly approaches 5.00 and the bullpen continues to struggle.

Four Rent. The bad news. Edgar Renteria has grounded into four double plays in two games. The good news is that Edgar makes Mark Bellhorn's strikeouts look better.

Minor adjustments. The PawSox have played better recently, behind the offensive production of Justin Sherrod and Roberto Petagine, and Cla Meredith now has an ERA of 1.69. Abe Alvarez has allowed only 54 hits in 69 innings, a major improvement for him.

At Portland, Jeremy West, Dustin Pedroia, and Chris Durbin are all over .300, Hanley Ramirez is the top prospect, and Brandon Moss has raised his average to .293 with a phenomenal streak. Jon Papelbon, Jon Lester, and David Pauley have all been solid in the rotation. One wonders whether before trading any of the top guys away, especially the starters, whether they deserve a shot at a higher level (even AAA) lest we get 'Bagwelled' under a new regime.

At Wilmington, Anibal Sanchez (1.93), Jose Vaquedano, and Luis Mendoza have all pitched well. Presumably, all the High A guys won't be capable of helping before 2007.

Feeling a draft? As silly as it is for me to comment about minor league prospects whom I've seen only in limited action on the tube, it's ridiculous to comment about college and high school draftees. The learning process between college and professional baseball usually demands TIME, and after waiting a lifetime for a title, I'm content to rebuild the organization the right way, rather than the quickest way.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Do you really care?

Today, Carson Kressley of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Team will throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park. Okay, so I'm a little envious, because I'll never be throwing out the first pitch for a game anywhere, but that's just an aside.

For at least part of this week on sports radio (self-proclaimed 'Nitwit Radio'), WEEI reveled in bashing the inappropriateness of Cressley's appearance, with Gerry Callahan labeling him a 'fruitcake'. Callahan has something of a track record with his previous METCO diatribe, and the show spent some of the next day trying to dance around the issue (one suspension being enough pain in the proverbial purse).

I didn't hear Larry Johnson's diatribe yesterday, but on the Wallach and Dickerson show, they were almost apologetic for Johnson's sermonizing about the gay and lesbian community.

Although I don't think anyone really has a percentage of what percentage of people are gay, we know it's substantial and we also know that physiological underpinnings exist. Researchers from the prestigious Karolinska Institute found hypothalamic (part of the brain) activation on PET scans in gay men in response to exposure to male sweat chemicals. This mimicked the hypothalamic response found upon exposure of these chemicals in women. Straight men exposed to these chemicals had activation of the part of the brain modulating olfaction (smell). Their conclusion was that pheromones are likely important, although they stopped short of determining causality.

Previous studies have also suggested a possible genetic relationship to homosexuality as identical twins are statistically more likely to share sexual preference than fraternal twins.

All of which brings us back to the Red Sox and major league baseball. I have no idea how many gay players have played on the Red Sox or in major league baseball. As a baseball fan, I'd be happy to see consistent effort and play; it doesn't matter to me whether player A is straight or gay, as long as he can play.

As a matter of preference, I'd prefer the clubhouse be filled with 'good guys' who create an environment where diversity is not only accepted but welcomed. As an organization, I'm sure the Red Sox want people of every national origin, creed, race, color, and sexual orientation to come to Fenway, and ideally buy every form of Red Sox paraphernalia imaginable to Ben Wrightman.

There are 'good people' who feel compelled to hate women, black Americans, other minorities, poor people, rich people, gays and lesbians, and kids who climb on rocks. The same people clamor about the importance of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with 'liberty and justice for all'. In my world, praying at the cross in the morning and burning it on a lawn at night smacks of more than a little bit of hypocrisy. Accepting intolerance only breeds more intolerance. That's just my take on it.

Maybe I'm oversensitive because my cousin, a gay man, was killed in a hate crime, before 'hate crimes' actually existed. So be it.

I'm realistic enough to know and to accept that I won't change anyone's opinion, ever, but I care and I hope you all do, too.

Highbrow to Lowbrow. The bullpen preparing for the postgame meal.  Posted by Hello

Francona in the Dugout?

Rubens' DANIEL or Terry Francona contemplating a pitching change? Posted by Hello

Roy Lichtenstein painted the summary of yesterday's game in 1963.  Posted by Hello

Picasso's vision of a bullfight. Why does this remind me of the Red Sox vision of the bullpen? Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 04, 2005

No Pen Pals. 2 out of 3 Ain't Bad (L13-6)

Baby we can talk all night
But that aint getting us nowhere
I've told you everything I possibly can
There's nothing left inside of here

And maybe you can cry all night
But that'll never change the way that I feel
The snow is really piling up outside
I wish you wouldnt make me leave here

I poured it on and I poured it out
I tried to show you just how much I care
I'm tired of words and i'm too hoarse to shout
But you've been cold to me so long I'm crying icicles instead of tears

And all I can do Is keep on telling you
I want you
I need you
But there aint no way I'm ever gonna love you
Now dont be sad
Cause 2 out of 3 aint bad
Now dont be sad
Cause 2 out of 3 aint bad

You'll never find your gold on a sandy beach
You'll never drill for oil on a city street
I know youre looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks
But there aint no Coup de ville hiding at the bottom of a CrackerJack box

I cant lie I cant tell you that i'm something i'm not no matter how i try
I'll never be able to give you something something that i just havent got Well theres only one girl that I will ever love and that was so many years ago
And though I know i'll never get her out of my heart
She never loved me back, ooh i know

I remember how she left me on a stormy night
She kissed me and got out of our bed
And though I pleaded and I begged her not to walk out that door
She packed her bags and turned right away

And she kept on telling me
she kept on telling me
she kept on telling me
I want you
I need you
But there aint no way i'm ever gonna love you
Now dont be sad Cause 2 out of 3 aint bad

Fortunately, I had a graduation party to attend so I didn't have to watch the latest bullpen atrocity. Bronson Arroyo rebounded from several tough starts to pitch six innings of two-run ball, only to have most of the bullpen come in and ignite the Angels into scoring 11 runs in three innings without MVP Vlad Guerrero. Kevin Millar came out of his season-long slump with two homers and a double for the Sox.

Futility defines most of the pen currently, as almost everyone out there struggles to make good pitches and get guys out. From the front end of the pen to the back, consistency remains elusive. General Manager Theo Epstein has to make some decisions concerning either the talent level, the usage, or some combination.

The two bright notes for the Sox were the play of Portland and Pawtucket as both had walkoff homers to win. Portland scored three in the ninth, behind a walkoff homer by David Murphy (2) who has struggled at AA. Brandon Moss (3 hits, .288) continues his surge and it was a treat to watch (Comcast CN8) Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia (2 hits). Murphy, Alberto Concepcion, Chris Durbin, and Jeff Bailey each had two hits. Portland pounded out 15 hits and had some quality at-bats in promoting the organizational approach. Additionally, Kason Gabbard showed a good changeup and overhand curve from the left side.

Portland won the second game 6-4, behind strong pitching from David Pauley (3-1, 3.02) and two homers from Brandon Moss (.294/.363/.500/.863) who has been absolutely on fire the past ten days. .

In Pawtucket, Justin Sherrod (7) had a three-run blast to left center with two outs in the ninth to seal a come-from-behind victory. Little Luis Figueroa had homers from each side of the plate including the game tying homer in the ninth. Juan Perez, a Dominican lefthander looked sharp for the PawSox in a game broadcast on NESN. George Lombard had three hits and scored three runs as well.

I've been harping on the bullpen for it seems like forever, but the Sox aren't going anywhere without improved pen performances.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Smoke 'Em Inside (W7-4) Games Behind 2

The Red Sox welcomed the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, USA, Planet Earth for a three game series at Fenway Park. David Wells, coming off his victory over the Yankees wasn't as sharp, giving up 4 runs in 7 innings, including a Chone Figgins home run.

Meanwhile, the Sox struggled against Kelvim Escobar, who had a nasty change up working for 6 innings. However, the Sox dope-slapped Brendan Donnelly and Scott Shields for 6 runs in two innings, highlighted by a three-run double by Johnny Damon in the eighth to supply the margin of victory.

Mike Myers got the victory in relief with a Perils of Pauline 8th, and Keith Foulke got the save, despite three singles allowed in the 9th, stranding the bases by striking out Steve Finley with hard stuff up and in after working the lefthander down and away. A great call by Varitek and great execution on that pitch by Foulke.

The Sox had only seven hits on the night and didn't hit the ball hard for most of the evening. Bill Mueller had two hits and two walks and Mark Bellhorn had a hit and two walks. Bellhorn has his strikeout percentage down to a shade over 26 percent (down from 28 percent) and the Sox have 6 hitters with a walk percentage of at least 12% and four with at least 14.6%.

The Sox moved to within two games of the Orioles, losers to Detroit 4-2.

Safe at Third? The Sox completed the first third of their season today, with the major issues being relatively mediocre team defense, and struggling pitching. The Sox are 12th in ERA, 7th in K/BB ratio (usually a good predictor for ERA), and 10th in WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). The Sox are 11th in both starting and relief ERA (4.78, 4.81 respectively) and 6th in K/BB as starters and 12th as relievers. They are 13th in OPS allowed, and 14th out of the bullpen.

Minor league action. The Sea Dogs pounded New Britain 10-2, behind 5 innings without an earned run from lefty Jon Lester (3-1, 2.98) who had 6 strikeouts and only one walk. Lester has been outstanding lately. Brandon Moss raised his average to .276 with 2 hits and 3 runs scored, and Chad Durbin had two hits raising his average to .308. The Sea Dogs have been getting excellent starting pitching from Lester, Jon Papelbon, and David Pauley. Manny Delcarmen (4-3, 3.68) has also been more effective recently out of the bullpen.

At Pawtucket, Richmond hammered the PawSox 9-4. Justin Sherrod had 2 homers for the Sox and Chip Ambres add another.

Wilmington was rained out.

In the local kid update, right-handed pitcher Eric Drown remains in extended spring training with the Cardinals after undergoing shoulder surgery last fall. Drown pitched at the University of Connecticut before signing as a free agent with the Cards. He pitched most of last season with the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League, before being shut down with shoulder problems.

Picture Tells a 1000 Words

Check out the bottom graph in the series. Young Master Theo has to be pondering this reality. The AL graphically, from The Hardball Times.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Memories. Gone.

Originally published at by Ron Sen (6-21-2004)

Spankees and Our GangHow much do I hate the Yankees? I’ve already violated my first rule, i.e., I shall always refer to them as the ‘hated Yankees.’ Hating the hated Yankees doesn’t obsess me. I detest okra, artichoke (artichoke ‘ya), and have negative feelings about Egg foo yung, ABC (American Born Chinese) heritage or not.

Yes, I’ve sat in the bleachers at the House That Ruth Built, without the smallest desire to join the legions of New Yawkers celebrating the laundry adorned by NY.Among the greatest hated Yankees ever, yea the greatest ballplayers ever, I recognize Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, Berra, Ford, Rivera, and others. The apotheosis of the Murcers, Munsons, Kubeks, and Richardsons I can’t accept. Hated Yankee devotees fawn over memories of ‘Donnie Baseball.’ Mattingly had the textbook swing and the golden glove, but his career stands as much for playing with injuries as it does for his accomplishments. Mattingly to Cooperstown? As a paying customer, yes, as an enshrined member, no.

Last season, Alfonso Soriano epitomized the ‘Pride of the Yankees.’ Soriano, a terrific young all-star, blessed with speed and power. Enter A-Rod, surely at the top of his game. Exit Soriano, who needs him, he’s got holes, isn’t a great defender, strikes out too much.

Not just on the field, the hated Yankee mystique extends into the broadcast booth, where more Homers reside than on the Simpsons. “Yankeeeees, win, Yankeeee win!” trumpet the hated Yankee broadcast crew, surely replacing syrup of ipecac as the most powerful emetic agents in Red Sox Nation.

On the field, the Bombers reportedly have a bunch of ‘great guys.’ Paul O’Neill, my second favorite. O’Neill played in nineteen postseason series, for five Series champs, batted .288 for his career, homered 281 times, and holds the major league records for water coolers dismembered and objections to third strike calls. He fanned legitimately on called third strikes fewer times than Rick Barry committed fouls during his entire NBA career, which excepting technicals, was none.

The hated Yankees have ‘ruined my summahs’ all too many times. I can’t recall exactly when the suffering began, but the lowlights burn in our corporate memory far brighter than any evanescent comets streak upon the heavens. The collapse of 1978 and late-season revival allowed the nefarious New Yorkers the chance to inflict maximal damage via Banjo Bat Bucky Dent. 1978 paled in comparison to last season’s Apple Pan Grady when the Sox skipper turned Chicken Little in allowing Pedro Martinez too much roasting time in the eighth inning. Aaron Boone’s dramatic game-winning homer did allow us a measure of ‘schadenfreude’ after all, however, when the Marlins trumped the hated Yanks in the Series.

1918. The number that Spankee fans tattoo on their ample backsides or foreheads, next to the ‘666’. More than a number, 1918 represents the tradition, the obligation, and literally the psychopathology of despising the hated Yankees. Peter Gammons’ father allegedly promised on his deathbed a series victory for Our Gang in our lifetimes. I gotta go take my vitamins.

Good News and Bad News (L9-3) 4 GB

The Sox rudely interrupted last night's effort of good baseball with another lackluster performance tonight, pounded by the Orioles 9-3, absence the dread pirate Brian Roberts, day-to-day with a shoulder injury. Tim Wakefield got cuffed around by Geronomo Gil (three-run homer), Miguel Tejada (HR 14, Nomar's better?), and Sammy Sosa (HR 5) as Wakefield fell to 4-5, 5.03.

Sox highlights? Manny had a two run single in the 'it's alive' 3 run seventh, Trot Nixon threw out a runner at the plate, and Bronson Arroyo got a confidence boost retiring four consecutive batters.

Terry Francona must be getting close to the threshold for recurrent chest pain.

Big Picture. "You're never as good as you look when you win or as bad as you look when you lose." Maybe Earl Weaver owns that quote. The Sox fell to four out in the division and 2.5 games out in the Wild Card battle as we come up on the one-third mark of the season.

"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true."- Homer Simpson. In the words of Billy Beane, "if he such a good hitter, then why doesn't he hit better." The Sox are second in runs scored (tied with NY and behind Texas) and 12th in pitching, ahead of the pitiful Rays and Royals. The Sox just aren't playing with a full deck; they've got a couple of jokers, but no ace.

Minor league hopefuls. The PawSox are tied at 3 in the 11th against Norfolk and old friend Brian Daubach. Abe Alvarez started for Pawtucket and yielded 2 runs with 7 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

The Sea Dogs fell to New Hampshire 4-1, as both Pedroia and Ramirez drew the collar, but Brandon Moss had two more hits to raise his average to .268.