Saturday, January 29, 2011

Heaven Can Wait

Heaven can wait, but Spring Training?

With the Celtics on the left coast, the Bruins on break, and the Patriots watching the Super Bowl, we've got awhile to go before waking. But what are the issues, the concerns, yea the heartbreak moments that Sox fans await?

1) Josh Beckett. Last season Beckett was more Glenn than Josh, with a stratospheric E.R.A. and more time on the DL than on the mound. If the Sox REALLY are championship driven, does anyone think that Beckett isn't a key?

2) Backstops. I'm not worried about Saltalamacchia being Mackey Sasser, Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch, or the originator, Steve Blass. I'm also conflicted on the "personal catcher" thing. I had a catcher call for a pitchout once on a three-two pitch. Really. At Harvard. Maybe that was his commentary on my abilities...but it was so long ago, that all I can remember is shaking him off.

3) Contract year. Will the real David Ortiz please stand up? But I do think J.D. Drew will play well in his Red Sox swan song...holding place for Ryan Kalish. Call me old-fashioned, but I actually like an outfielder who can run AND throw...unlike so many the Sox have had over the past few years. Maybe they're still remembering Jose Tartabull throwing out Ken Berry in 1967.

4) Injury bug. Everything the Sox and Dustin Pedroia are saying sounds good. And I've heard from my sources that Youkilis is swinging the bat well. Still, you don't know until you know, do you?

5) Competition. I'm not for naming Marco Scutaro ANYTHING. Scutaro had a WAR (wins above replacement value) of 2.1 in 2010, compared to first ballot Hall of Famer Derek Jeter's astronomical 2.5. Of course, Jed Lowrie in less than half a season had 1.8. By the way, 5 is all-star level.

Terry, Terry, Terry. Do the right thing, baby. The job is a competition, and if Lowrie is healthy (Scutaro, too), then he might just beat him out.

6) Pap smear. Now I'm not saying that Jonathan Papelbon (eight blown saves, 3.80) had a lost year last year. His WAR rating is sliding like magma from Vesuvius in 29 AD.  We'll need another Pliny the Younger to give Pap's fall proper description.

7) Ell's kitchen. Jacoby Ellsbury pulled off a bigger heist than the Brink's Robbery, taking the Red Sox for 2.4 million. Okay, the Sox don't like the adversarial process of having to put down their stars.

8) LOOGY. Lefty One Out Guy. Star of the day, who will it be, your vote may hold the key... does anybody think Oki-Dokey is still the one? Well, that's a competition among so many, from Rich Hill, to Felix (The Cat) Doubront, to Andrew Miller, to Jesse Orosco (just kidding about Orosco). Is Frank Tanana still available?

Friday, January 14, 2011


With still a month to go until spring training, what's interesting these days?

The Yankees response to the Sox off-season was to unload their coffers to Rafael Soriano.

Here's the skinny on Soriano's last two years against Papelbon's. They've both pitched about the same number of innings, with similar strikeout totals, and save totals. Of course, if you look at the WHIP numbers, Soriano has a pretty decided edge. Papelbon's been an intriguing personality and mostly effective closer up until last season. What I can't understand is how a guy who views himself as one of the best relievers in the game has so limited development of secondary pitches. Is that the most professional development available?

I hope that Papelbon has an Eckersley-like Cy Young/MVP 1992 season, but the career trajectory for Papelbon doesn't inspire confidence in that outcome.

The most intriguing story for the Sox isn't the catching, but who plays shortstop. Marco Scutaro had a solid year last season, with his statistics NOT so different from Derek Jeter (really). But is a health Jed Lowrie a better overall player?

I can't stand Scott Boras, but he delivered the goods for his clients. He got a Mendoza line (.196/.325/.407/.732) power hitter (Carlos Pena) 10M, got Beltre 80M, and Soriano 35M. If the AMA got Boras as representation, then maybe I'd join (just kidding).

If the bullpen shapes up with Papelbon, Bard, Jenks, Wheeler, Doubront, Wakefield, could be worse.

The big three of Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Vlad Guerrero are out there? Right? What if they all signed with Baltimore? Maybe I'll just grab a pig and take a flight...

And that doesn't count Johnny Damon and Russell Branyan (.215/.319/.483/.802). Where's Branyan's Carlos Pena money?

Albert Pujols' money? What is that?
Who is Pujols? (from Here are his 'comps'.

The most important question mark on the team for 2011? For me, it has to be Josh Beckett. We all know he's better than 6 wins, an ERA of 5.78, and 20 homers allowed in 127 innings. But is he the 'Beckett of old' or an "old, injured Beckett"?