Monday, June 20, 2011

Miller Time

We have the "official voices" saying, "don't get too excited about Andrew Miller, he hasn't been very good in the majors." Thanks for nothing.

If you haven't written for a major newspaper or have your own show, you know nothing. You can't remember Billy Rohr, Bobby Sprowl, Ken Brett, David Clyde, or Brien Taylor. You add nothing to the discussion, because the chosen ones say so.

Baseball, like most endeavors, is the sum of your individual experiences. Nobody writing blogs with a small following could ever express anything worthwhile. Actually, most of us should probably just crawl back into the sorry, dark holes from whence we came.

But some fans, believe it or not, have watched, studied, or maybe even played and had the chance to succeed occasionally and fail more often because of our love of the game. Yes, none of us are going into Cooperstown, but assuredly, most of "Boston's elite" aren't going in either.

Some of us enjoy watching the development of young, untested players. Maybe we see them somehow as closer to us, mere mortals searching for ephemeral greatness or more.

But what do the pundits have for us? "Go away, little ones. You cannot dare to speak, let alone sit at the table." Only they have the wit and wisdom to discern who will succeed, when and where, simply because. On the other hand, we suffer the forlorn childhood of a Jane Eyre, undeserving of the Rochesters of the fourth estate.

You know who you are. Give it a rest.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hall of Fame Material?

This week there's been an inordinate amount of Johnny Damon for the Hall of Fame talk. It reminds me of Bill James' book, "Whatever Became of the Hall of Fame?"

Both Player A and Player B had lengthy major league careers. Damon is Player A. Player B didn't have the stolen bases that Damon had, but had over 300 more RBI so far, and 160 more homers, AND won eight gold gloves. Very few writers talk about Player B as a Hall of Fame candidate, yet Bill James talked about him as one of the best outfielders NOT under serious consideration.

What do you think?

Player B is former Sox right fielder Dwight Evans. Not that anybody's giving me a vote, but I like the overall excellence of Evans, a superb defensive player over the more limited but speedy Damon.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

In addition to strong starting pitching, successful teams inevitably have a competent closer at the back end. Jonathan Papelbon struggled (IIRC) to a 3.80 ERA last year and had eight blown saves.

Papelbon has made no secret about his intentions, in the Assante Samuel mode of "get paid". Yet, what has the Sox closer been doing lately?

Coming into tonight, in his last ten appearances, he has worked 9.1 innings, and allowed 12 hits, 3 walks, 8 earned runs, and had 14 strikeouts, with 4 saves and a win.

Tonight he allowed a pair of hits to start the ninth, and has come back by mixing his's a 3-2 count with two on and Damon on deck...

Strike three and the Red Sox win. Ugly, but a win nonetheless in the series rubber game.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Crying Game

Tim Wakefield has been with the Red Sox for what seems like a lifetime. He's the little girls with the curl, when he is good, he is very good...but...

Conversely, Andrew Miller lives at the other end of a baseball lifetime. Miller is that tall, lefthanded power pitcher out of Robert Redford's "The Natural", only Miller has struggled to find that elusive command and control that makes electric arms into Cy Young candidates. Miller has a clause that allows him essentially to become a free agent if he isn't on the major league roster by TOMORROW.

This folks, is a no-brainer. Miller has been lights out recently in the minors, harnessing that 97 mph heat and terrorizing International League hitters. Tonight in 5 1/3 innings, he allowed one run, one walk, and fanned ten.
Including tonight, in his last four starts, he has pitched 25 1/3 innings, yielded 17 hits, 5 earned runs, 3 walks and fanned 26.

There was talk that he should be a "nice guy" and wait a few weeks or a month until the Red Sox "need" him. That's not how it works for an ambitious, talented guy, who throws high nineties heat from the left side. If he got hurt tomorrow, would the Red Sox take care of him for life, when he might have a multi-million dollar payday somewhere else?

It's Miller time, and the Sox will find him a spot or they deserve to lose him.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thoughts on a Strange Season

Sometimes the bloom is off the rose, or is it? Have the Red Sox simply become Yankees Light, outspending teams to win? If we examine the 'everyday' lineup, the Red Sox do have "developmental" players.

  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia may not be a Sox farmhand, but he's not a 'purchased' hire. After Ortiz, Gonzalez, Youkilis, and Ellsbury, Salty has the FIFTH highest OPS among "starter". 
  • Gonzalez. They had to lay out big bucks, but the FARM brought the player, with Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelley, and Rey Fuentes all legitimate prospects. 
  • Pedroia. Home grown. Problem is the 'under (sized) boy' is showing tread wear. 
  • Lowrie/Iglesias. Out of the system...although Iglesias out of the country.
  • Youkilis. System product. 
  • J.D. Drew. Mercenary. Didn't work out exactly as planned. 
  • Ellsbury. May not make the All-Star team but has a legit claim at this point. 
  • CC (Crawford). Horrendous start, another mercenary, call it what it is. 
After a start of biblical catastrophe, the Sox have recovered beyond our wildest dreams. 39-26, with 37-16 post misery. That's almost .700 baseball, which is just ridiculous in these times. 

After the Big Three (Lester, Beckett, Buchholz) with 24 quality starts, the drop off is still pretty astounding, though with Lackey at three. 

As for Unsung Hero candidates, the leaders in the clubhouse are Matt Albers, Alfredo Aceves, and Tim Wakefield. But the 10th player award is Ellsbury's to lose. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Long and the Short of It

Before the season, most fans would have "known" that catching would be the Achilles Heel for the Red Sox. The team opened with the aging Jason Varitek, and the unproven Jarod Saltalamacchia, the latter long a Sox target for potential.

And the season didn't start well for the pair, with both flirting with the Mendoza Line and neither reminding anyone of Johnny Bench behind the plate.

Where are we now?

...........................GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS

Varitek                31 94 13 22 4 0 3 13 11 28 0 0 .234 .321 .372 .693
                           GP AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS

Saltalamacchia      41 131 17 31 7 1 5 18 9 34 0 0 .237 .296 .420 .716

We can distill it down to 30 runs scored, 8 homers and 31 RBI in a combined 66 games.

The combination of Russell Martin (24 runs, 9 homers, 27 RBI) and Francisco Cervelli (6 runs, 1 HR, 10RBI) have combined for 30 runs, 10 homers, 37 RBI

That's not much of a difference, particularly when adjusted for cost, with the Sox catchers paid 2.75 million dollars and the Yankees (not counting DH Jorge Posada) 4.445 million dollars.

Call it a wash.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Who Deserves an All-Star Berth?

With the season almost forty percent over, which local players and AL players deserve election/selection to the All-Star team?

Recently, we read that SIX New York Yankees led in All-star voting. Well, that's why they call it VOTING, although perhaps ORDAINING would fit. Of course, there is also team distribution to consider...which I'm factoring in.

Catcher: Alex Avila (DET), Russell Martin (NY)
First base: Miguel Cabrera (ANA), Adrian Gonzalez (BOS), Mark Teixeira
Second base: Howie Kendrick, Robinson Cano (vote leader: Cano)
Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta, Asdrubel Cabrera CLE (vote leader: Derek Jeter)
Third base: Kevin Youkilis, A-Rod (A-Rod leads)
Outfield: Jose Bautista (TOR), Matt Joyce (TB), Curtis Granderson, Carlos Quentin (CHI), Mitch Moreland (TEX), Jeff Francoeur (KC)

DH: David Ortiz

BAL  Zach Britton
SEA  Michael Pineda
OAK Gio Gonzalez
MIN  Nick Blackburn
P  Josh Beckett
P  Mariano Rivera
P  Jered Weaver
P  Dan Haren
P  Jose Valverde
P  Kyle Farnsworth
P  CC Sabathia

On the bubble would be Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury, both suffering from team distribution requirements. It certainly looks as though an All-Yankee infield is a real possibility, although neither Jeter nor A-Rod are especially deserving. Jonathan Papelbon has pitched better this year, despite a high ERA, although I don't consider him deserving at this point, all things considered.

As for the MVP and Cy Young Award "leaders" at this point, I'd vote for Jose Bautista and Jered Weaver.