Monday, February 03, 2014


Baseball lifers always have a fascination with the grizzled veteran types, the Michael Youngs (recently retired). Living in the past, veteran experience, savvy sometimes make a difference.

But usually talent and youth (over the intermediate term) prevail.

I couldn't care less about the private lives of baseball players. Whom they date, what they do on their days off don't matter to me. I care about what they do between the lines, their attitude towards their job, and both their potential and production. Will Middlebrooks has a serious 'hole' on breaking stuff (sliders) away. When Jacoby Ellsbury was a young player, it was the summer of 4 to 3, as inside hard stuff tied him up.

Middlebrooks may always be a high strikeout guy, but has anybody checked out Mike Napoli's 'K' totals? Middlebrooks is an adequate defender (obstruction aside) and can probably hit 25-30 homers with 75-85 RBI if the Sox can free themselves from the Stephen Drew "binky" and move on to a low salaried, player under control.

Maybe Middlebrooks is some kind of Hannibal Lecter, cancer in the clubhouse. I doubt it. He seems like an affable, articulate young guy, hungry to make his bones in the bigs. Sure, he struggled at times, but he also got hurt crashing into the padded wall going for a ball. Did he get Ellsburied by the Sox medical staff? I have no idea. Can we give the young guys a break?

I'm not saying that John Farrell and the 'brain trust' have to hand him the job. But let him fight for it, and see how it shakes out.

And if it doesn't work out for him, at least he seems to have a more than acceptable "parting gift".

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Million Dollar Baby

David Ortiz had a remarkable campaign in 2013, culminating in a World Series championship and a Series MVP. He's made it clear his priority (as is his right) is compensation.

But when sportswriters around America start declaring what the Red Sox should pay their DH and for how long, I cringe.

At the end of the day, you get paid whatever you and your employer agree upon. There is a "market price" for everything...and value is what you get and price is what you pay. David Ortiz is entitled to get whatever he can for his family and himself. But the Red Sox have little protection should age, time, or other factors change Ortiz' value. And Ortiz' leverage is limited to  free-spending American League teams without a surfeit of older players with probable DH roles.

It's certainly true that players often get paid for what they've done versus what they're likely to do. It's hard to project an older DH. Who are the comps?

Harold Baines had 25 homers and 122 RBI in two years for the White Sox and Orioles at age 38 through 39. Dwight Evans had 19 homers and 101 RBI during the same age for the Red Sox and Orioles. Yaz had 38 homers and 168 RBI for the same age. Edgar Martinez had 38 homers and 175 RBI for those two year with the Mariners. For the prior two years, Martinez had 61 homers and 231 RBI. In other words, time tends to cause mean reversion.

Maybe Ortiz, modern nutrition, athletic training, and 'supplements' have reset the clock. But while sentiment says 'yes', history and reality usually say 'caution'.