Monday, May 31, 2004
I wish I could write about yesterday's game, but with it being Memorial Day, I have bigger fish to fry.
c - Javy Lopez .313/.367/.453
1b - Rafael Palmeiro .281/.398/.450
2b - Brian Roberts .261/.330/.346
3b - Melvin Mora .380/.465/.603
ss - Miguel Tejada .319/.374/.503
lf - Larry Bigbie .263/.326/.429
cf - Luis Matos .244/.293/.369
rf - BJ Surhoff .302/.358/.407
dh - Jerry Hairston Jr. .267/.292/.333
Team - .285/.355/.430
c - Ben Molina .291/.315/.456
1b - Casey Kotchman .238/.279/.286
2b - Adam Kennedy .245/.298/.352
3b - Shane Halter .231/.263/.418
ss - David Eckstein .270/.330/.315
lf - Jose Guillen .314/.377/.535
cf - Chone Figgens .287/.325/.440
rf - Vlad Guerrero .348/.397/.601
dh - Raul Mondesi .000/.333/.000
Team - .261/.337/.441
Red Sox - .270/.359/.440
Anaheim - 97.0%
Baltimore - 120.5%
Boston - 97.9%
Anaheim - 19.091
Baltimore - (-19.918)
Boston - (-5.008)
Baltimore's offense seems to revolve around the walk and the single. Their batting average is the highest in the American League, but as far as runs scored, they rank only 8th.
If the O's keep up the 120% OE, that will be the highest since I have been tracking by almost 10 points.
Anaheim is third in the league in runs scored, right below the Red Sox. Their offense is probably the opposite of the Orioles, in that they don't walk very much, and don't hit many singles. The Halos live off situational hitting (RISP especially), and the extra base hit.
Chone Figgens has 7 triples this year. That’s as many as the Red Sox and Orioles have combined.
Both teams run a lot, with the Orioles 45-56 (80%) and the Angels at 40-55 (73%). Both hit and run a good amount, and both managers aren't shy in utilizing the sacrifice bunt.
Monday - Lopez (-4.785) vs. Lowe (-0.341)
Tuesday - Arroyo (5.471) vs. Colon (3.349)
Wednesday - Martinez (18.286) vs. Washburn (8.246)
Anaheim - 44.138
Baltimore - 26.870
Boston - 52.499
Anaheim - 2.2 RpG, 1.41 IPpApp
Baltimore - 2.7 RpG, 1.40 IPpApp
Boston - 2.7 RpG, 1.09 IPpApp
Baltimore played the Yankees last week and surrendered 41 runs en route to getting swept by the New Yorkers. Then they promptly held the Tigers to 12 runs in sweeping them. The O's have been bobbing around 500 since their hot start, and now only sit three games ahead of the Blue Jays.
Rodrigo Lopez was the best reliever in baseball before he got the bump up to the rotation. He gave up 6 runs in 4.7 against Seattle, and 5 runs in 5 vs. the Yankees. So he's improving, I suppose.
The Orioles rotation is over four runs below replacement level.
The theory that the Angels need one more starter to go with Colon/Washburn/Escobar is being tested by Aaron Sele. Ever since he came back into the rotation, he's been as good as he was in his first year in Texas. He leads the Anaheim rotation in runs saved.
Many 'mainstream' baseball fans think that Bartolo Colon is an ace, including some mentioning him in the same breath as Pedro Martinez. Colon has walked more, struck out less, given up more home runs, saved less runs, and pitched less innings (he would need to pitch 10 on Tuesday to tie Pedro). His ERA is also sitting over 5. Right now, he is legitimately the 4th starter on the Angels.
Sunday, May 30, 2004
The Mariners sure showed me.
Since there is very little to be said about this game in an anayltical sense, and I really can't crap on the job Bavasi has done (not because I don't think he's done a good job, but he's easily the most hated GM in the game in the blogsphere), I really don't have much to write about.
Manny Ramirez (yawn) hit another (stretch) long bomb (yawn).
Over on your right, in our stats section, you will see two more entries. They are the current standings for the Eddy Awards, a fun little thing that Jeff Bower came up with at Baseball Prospectus a year ago.
Here is a quick blurb from the article:
This study is designed to identify hitters that had the greatest percentage of their offensive game as a result of walks and hit-by-pitches. This is very different than leading the league in the counting or rate statistics attached to those categories. Ted Williams led the American League in bases-on-balls eight different times, but was such a force at the plate that he still would have been an outstanding offensive player had he walked half as often. The idea is to recognize players who made the slow walk up the first baseline an art form, who were and are somehow able to finagle pitches outside the strike zone despite being less than imposing figures with a bat in their hands.
After monkeying around with various combinations of on-base percentage, batting average and slugging percentage, I tossed them aside and settled on the following formula, calling the result the "Walking Man Quotient"
The American and National League standings are listed now, and will be updated weekly, or whenever I feel like it.
In case you don't read the comments section, I'm looking forward to a Gerbil/Sully fight to the death.
Curt Schilling against Ryan Franklin tomorrow at 2.
Saturday, May 29, 2004
Is it wrong to be excited and somewhat arrogent about rooting for a team that has the best record in baseball? I don't think so.
I just started a new job, running summer conferences at the University of Rhode Island. On staff are three Yankee fans, three Red Sox fans, a Brewers fan (from Wisconsin), and three people that could give a shit about baseball. After last night, I don't think its wrong to walk around as if I was superior to all that root for inferior teams.
Down 4-1 in the fifth, Pedro Martinez was struggling. He had a uncharacteristic loss of composure in the dugout, taking out frustrations on his jacket. The display was so bizarre that Derek Lowe wet himself (again).
Of course, because of Messers Youkilis and Ortiz, the Sox led 6-4 the next time Pedro walked to the mound, and he kicked on cruse control for the next two innings, before Embree set them up, and Foulke shut them down.
As an aside, I am very worried about Foulke after his crappy spring.
All kidding and Joe Fan bluster aside, last night's game was a good one to win. Not only did it keep the Sox in first place, but the win also gave the Sox their first grand slam of the year (David Ortiz) and gave them a win over a team they need to beat.
Good job. Clap clap clap. Dirty Water.
This post was brought to you by the Fans of WEEI. Red Sawx Tawk.
Friday, May 28, 2004
c - Dan Wilson .293/.328/.390
1b - John Olerud .262/.377/.362
2b - Bret Boone .231/.289/.394
3b - Scott Spiezio .261/.310/.437
ss - Rich Aurilia .222/.285/.278
lf - Raul Ibanez .269/.337/.485
cf - Randy Winn .229/.301/.299
rf - Ichiro Suzuki .329/.374/.406
dh - Edgar Martinez .257/.344/.415
Team - .260/.323/.375
Red Sox - .270/.359/.440
Seattle - 97.3%
Boston - 97.1%
Seattle - 2.492
Boston - (-4.773)
Friday - Piniero (0.381) vs. Martinez (17.557)
Saturday - Garcia (19.450) vs. Wakefield (16.943)
Sunday - Franklin (4.567) vs. Schilling (26.118)
Seattle - 16.275
Boston - 52.499
Seattle - 2.8 RpG, 1.12 IPpApp
Boston - 2.7 RpG, 1.09 IPpApp
No real analysis, as a new job has me running ragged right now.
- Cal State Long Beach's Jered Weaver lost last night for the first time all year. His E.R.A. swelled from a downright deity-like 1.25 to a merely ridiculous number, 1.68. I still think he will edge Rice's Jeff Niemann as the nations's number one pick.
- Francis Bacon wrote, "Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes, and Adversity is not without comforts and hopes."
It's a bumpy ride to the promised land. Deal with it.
For one thing, a 15-2 loss helps a team avoid underperforming its pythagorean.
- For some good material on this weekend's opponent, the Seattle Mariners, check out one of my favorite blogs, USS Mariner.
- I will be at Fenway tomorrow again. Supposed to be a beautiful day.
- Have a nice long weekend.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
The two strangest things in baseball have happend in the last two days.
1. Daryle Ward hit for the cycle. Daryle Ward!
2. The Red Sox have tagged the vaunted Oakland A's staff for 21 runs in two games.
The Red Sox as a team have hit .378/.484/.595 against the A's, and only Kevin Millar really isn't hitting (seems to be a theme this year). Why?
To be honest, I have no idea why the normally unexplosive Red Sox offense struggled to score runs against such worthy opponets as the Rangers and Indians, but are hitting the Athletics thus far. Last night, a Bobby Crosby 3-run error didn't help. Mark Redman walking Manny Ramirez to face Jason Varitek didn't help either.
As a final aside, Kevin Youkilis has been very impressive in his short stint in the majors thus far. I don't expect he will keep it up, but he has been pretty fun to watch so far.
And one more thing about Youkilis is that he has faced some pretty good pitchers. Redman, Hammond, Bradford, Hudson, Rincon, Halladay, Hentgan, Batista, Adams, Lightenberg, Lilly, Lopez, Zambrano, Baez, and Sosa. There are some crappy pitchers there, but even the bad ones tend to be tough on righties.
And it doesn't get any easier. Tonight is Mulder vs. Arroyo.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
I was fortunate enough to sit in the very first row of Fenway Park’s Green Monster seats last night to watch Boston dismantle Tim Hudson and the Oakland A’s. It was a thorough beating, commencing in the first inning and subsiding only when the game was well out of hand in the eighth inning.
Curt Schilling was not his typical overpowering self but he was his typical very good self. He struck out just 5 all night but only began to lose his command a bit when medicine he took to relieve pain in his ankle wore off after the fifth inning or so. Still, he finished the seventh inning and his outing with an impressive strikeout of righty killer Eric Chavez. Lenny Dinardo and Jamie Brown finished the Athletics off.
It was a remarkably upbeat game to attend. The Sox attack was methodical and consistent. Every player in the lineup contributed, except Kevin Millar of course, who stranded 9 men on base thanks to his 0-for-4 effort. Johnny Damon led the game off with a sharp single. Mark Bellhorn hit a 2-run home run off Pesky’s pole and finished with a career high 5 RBI’s. Manny hit a double fifteen feet to my left off the top of the Monster and a home run fifteen feet to my right – both wicked shots. David Ortiz smoked two doubles, Brian Daubach was on base three times, Jason Varitek had three hits, Youkilis a double and two walks and even Pokey chipped in with two hits. The Fenway faithful embraced Kevin Youkilis with chants of “Yooooouuuukkk”, almost as if to let the kid know that they were all perfectly comfortable with him playing everyday as a result of Bill Mueller’s bad news. “You’re our guy for the next six weeks," the crowd seemed to say. "Let’s see what you got.”
Another warm moment came in the bottom of the eighth inning when Andy Dominique came to bat for the first time in a big league game. The crowd, cognizant of the fact that it was Dominique’s debut, simultaneously rose to its feet with a raucous ovation despite the game’s result being well in hand. Even feint chants of “Andy, Andy, Andy” could be heard from various Fenway sections. Dominique struck out but I still have to imagine that having 25,000 Sox fans cheering wildly for him has to rank as one of his life’s highlights.
I know it would be one of mine.
Redman and Lowe tonight. Hopefully Derek can turn things around a bit.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Tonight's pitching matchup should be quite a treat and I will be fortunate enough to be on the Green Monster to witness it. As has been stated here, Tim Hudson comes into the game with some awfully shiny numbers but his K-rate is down by an enormous margin. To say the least, it's bewildering. Brian Daubach has actually been the Sox's most successful hitter against Hudson over the course of his career. I imagine he will start tonight. Manny also has a respectable history against Hudson. Pretty much everyone else, like most of the league, has struggled mightily against him.
The only two A's with any sort of track record against Schilling are Erik Karros and Mark Kotsay, two of Schill's former AL West foes. Neither have fared particularly well against the big right-hander. It is difficult to imagine this A's offense, currently ranked 10th in the American League in OPS and 11th in runs scored, getting much going tonight.
It should be a fantastic pitchers duel between two of baseball's best hurlers.
Hudson's numbers are unbelievable. A 3.95 K/9 and a 1.07 WHIP? And look at defensive efficiency rankings, courtesy of Baseball Prospectus. Oakland is in the lower half of the league.
I have absolutely no idea what to make of this.
First some news. Byung-hyun Kim is being sent back to Korea to get a second opinion on his back and hip problems. Already, Red Sox fans are divided into three camps. "Wait and see" people that want to see what comes back, "This is terrible" people that are saddened Kim might not contribute to the Sox again, and "Good riddance to bad rubbish" people, that are assholes.
c - Damian Miller .291/.352/.402
1b - Scott Hatteberg .302/.388/.465
2b - Mario Scutaro .292/.326/.385 OR Mark McLemore .160/.192/.200
3b - Eric Chavez .244/.366/.463
ss - Bobby Crosby .230/.283/.437
lf - Bobby Kielty .229/.317/.438
cf - Eric Byrnes .295/.377/.467 OR Mark Kotsay .229/.286/.264
rf - Jermaine Dye .281/.346/.515
dh - Eurbiel Durazo .284/.358/.493
Team - .257/.329/.418
Red Sox - .267/.353/.436
Oakland - 96.4%
Boston - 97.7%
Oakland - (-6.891)
Boston - (-6.754)
Currently, Oakland is on a 5 game winning streak, and have won 8 of their last 10. They have the third best record in the American League. In that time, the A's offense rebounded, improving from 'crap' to 'competent'.
As a team, the A's don't hit and run. They don't bunt very often. They do, however, steal at an impressive rate, 16/20 (80%). That's the best mark in the American League so far, though the only team that has run less has been Toronto. Despite the lack of running, the A's are 7th in the AL in bases gained by stealing. The Red Sox are 9th.
The three best A's hitters so far this year have been Scott Hatteberg, Eric Byrnes, and Eurbiel Durazo. On the Red Sox, they would rank 2nd, 7th, and 9th.
Random trivia for no reason at all: Ken Macha played under Danny Murtaugh, Chuck Tanner, and Dick Williams.
Murtaugh has won 2 World Series, Tanner 1, and Williams 2 (in 4 tries). Macha might a member of one of the best non-Yankee "Manager Families" in baseball right now.
Tuesday - Hudson (21.421) vs. Schilling (22.184)
Wednesday - Redman (11.771) vs. Lowe (-0.136)
Thursday - Mulder (20.150) vs. Arroyo (8.532)
Oakland - 25.685
Boston - 46.924
Oakland - 2.3 RpG, 1.13 IPpApp
Boston - 2.6 RpG, 1.09 IPpApp
The A's bullpen haven't allowed a run in 13 innings, and 5 games. It looks like the troubles that cropped up in the various Yankee series have been exorcised. Bradford and Rincon have seemed to get back on track also, each cutting down walks and improving strikeout rates over the last two weeks.
Former Sox farm-hand Justin Duchscherererererer is their best reliever. If you don't remember who he was traded for, wait until Wakefield pitches and see who's behind the mask.
Tim Hudson right now is a study in DIPS. He is a groundball pitcher (gb rate is 2.12), yet he has only given up 62 hits in 68.3 innings. His DIPS era is 3.65. His actual ERA is 2.90. He's the second best pitcher in the American League right now, despite only striking out 3.95 per nine. I don't know if it's luck, or the A's infield defense. It's bizarre though.
Monday, May 24, 2004
Now more than three weeks into the month of May I think it is fair to say that the Boston Red Sox offense is showing some signs of life. The team that mustered just 103 runs over the whole month of April has already scored 125 runs in May. Without question, weaker competition has something to do with this but the bats have indeed come alive and there seem to be some identifiable remnants of the juggernaut lineup of 2003. Let us explore.
- The Sox hit at a .260/.349/.417 clip throughout the month of April. In May thus far, they are hitting .273/.357/.455.
- Johnny Damon, he of the .693 April OPS, has posted a downright two-thousandesque .871 OPS in May. This is a good sign as Damon has been a notoriously slow starter throughout his career. That he has cut short that slow start by a good month or two this season may just mean we will see something resembling the player the good folks of Kansas City saw at the turn of the century.
- Manny has been Manny again this month. He is raking again, like he does every month. His two towering home runs this weekend, both absolutely no-doubters, were yet two more reminders of why it is such a pleasure to have this guy in a Sox uniform. What a hitter.
- Jason Varitek is showing that 2003 was no fluke. He is now almost undeniably one of the top five catchers in the game. While Scott Boras’ hope of getting four years and $10MM per like Pudge may be a pipe dream for his 33 year old client, I think the Sox may have to entertain either the term or the rate of the contract, most likely the latter. Incessant talk of his invaluable intangibles aside, Varitek is as productive as any catcher not named Jorge or Ivan. He has been one of the best Sox hitters in May, pounding the ball to the tune of a .302/.413/.524 line.
- Mark Bellhorn, an on-base wonder-boy from the get-go this season, has begun to hit a bit. He has raised his slugging percentage 77 points thus far in May and now stands at an above second-baseman-league-average .400 for the year.
- Even Kevin Millar has contributed this month, albeit almost solely on the on-base side of the offensive ledger. Millar’s .407 OBP has been an upgrade over his out-crazy April. Still, his slugging remains below .400 for both the season and the month, an unacceptable figure for a player that has done little more than just slug over the course of his career.
- Pokey’s May numbers: .274/.338/.435
AL avg. SS numbers: .275/.322/.406
Don’t get me wrong, it’s been nice getting this kind of production from Pokey and all but I wouldn’t expect it to last.
What’s encouraging is that the over-performance and the under-performance plus injuries seem to be, at the very worst, evening out. The Red Sox have averaged 5.43 runs a game this month. In order to reach 900 runs for the season, the team would have to score 5.69 runs per game for the rest of the season. Sustained quality play from Bellhorn, Varitek, Manny and Damon along with improved numbers from Ortiz, Millar and whoever is playing third base and finally solid comebacks from Nomar and Nixon and this team can do just that.
Nice to see the bats back.
Finally, my condolences to all that knew and loved Doug Pappas. If you haven't read his work, do so. He was THE authority on the business of baseball and his contributions will be missed.
The Boston Dirt Dogs site reported last Friday that Tony Conigliaro's #25 will be retired by the Boston Red Sox after Ellis Burks retires (half way down).
For an excellent rendition of what Tony C was read Shaun Kelley's post from SoSH called Tony Conigliario Forty Years Later: A Remembrance.
When I was growing up, I was in awe of the Red Sox history. That's before I knew about the racism, the incompetence, and the managerial malpractice. I loved learning about the history of the Boston Americans. The people from that time were larger than life. Cy Young, Smokey Joe Wood, Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper, Babe Ruth, Joe Cronin, Jimmy Foxx, Lefty Grove, Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Mel Parnell, Dick Raditz, Carl Yastrezemski, Tony Conigliaro, Jim Longborg, Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Luis Tiant, Bill Lee, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst, Dave Henderson, Mike Greenwell, and Ellis Burks.
When I was twelve, I went to see the Pawtucket Red Sox quite a bit, and saw such gentlemen as Mo Vaughn. When Vaughn made it to Boston, I felt like I grew up with him.
Some thing happened between when I was twelve and now. I grew up. Speaker was a member of the KKK. Ruth was an alcoholic, as was Foxx. Grove, Williams, and Yaz were assholes. I realized that I can root for them to win, but I can't look up to them. Baseball players aren't mythical beings that used superpowers to hone their craft. They are ordinary human beings that have enough skill at something to make a living doing it.
Because of that realization, I no longer look at baseball players as heroes. I look at them as men. I work hard at not being a slave to sentimentality.
And that is essentially what the discussion about Tony C having his number retired has become. A agrument over the value of sentimentality. Tony C was from the Boston-area. He hit a obscene amount of home runs at a young age. He was handsome, and his decline was tragic (thanks to a Jack Hamilton fastball).
First, a digression.
If you read my Hall of Fame pieces from a few months ago, I tend to err on the side of exclusion of honors. If you are a borderline Hall candidate, you don't make it. The Hall of Fame is the highest honor that the sport can bestow upon it's players. A number retired is the highest honor of each team.
The Red Sox, despite 102 years of existence has only retired five numbers. Under the old Yawkey regime, the rule was in the Baseball Hall, 10 years as a Red Sox, and retired as a Sox. The standards were relaxed to retire 27 in honor of Carlton Fisk, who retired as a Sox Blanc. The other retired numbers are 1 (Doerr), 4 (Cronin), 8 (Yaz), and 9 (Williams).
Doerr is a HOFer, and the best 2b the Red Sox ever had.
Cronin served as a shortstop, and team manager. He was the first player ever to become president of a league. (As an aside, I would take his number down. According to most histories of the era, he was as much to blame as Yawkey, Collins, and Higgins for the fact the Red Sox were the last team to intergrate.)
Yaz and Williams are all-time greats.
Back to Tony C. I don't think his number should be retired. I think that there are too many other Red Sox who were better than he was that haven't had their numbers hung. The points in Tony C's favor just aren't enough to convince me that #25 should be retired, and #10 (Grove) or #3 (Foxx) aren't. I know he was a local boy. I know he was very prolific in the home run category. I know he was insanely popular. I know the beaning ruined every chance he had to be named as one of baseball's elite players.
Sentimentality is a result of hero-worship in this case. Little New England boys loved Tony C in the 1960s. They honor him in their minds, and tell us how he was larger than life until his fate was met with a Jack Hamilton fastball. Unfortunately, we aren't little kids any more. "Because I loved him" isn't a strong enough argument to say Conigliaro in the same breath as Williams.
Two questions to ponder...
1. If there is a disservice done in not retiring Tony Conigliaro's number, why wasn't it done when he was alive? Why wait until 15 years after he died?
2. Wouldn't you be pissed if you were Harry Agganis' kids?
(By the way, Agganis, the Golden Greek, was a first baseman from Lynn that played for the Red Sox in the 50s. According to reports of the time, just about as much glowing praise was written about him as Conig. Agganis died of a pulmonary emballism before he turned 26.)
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Doug Pappas, the chairman of the SABR Business of Baseball Committee and regular contributer to Baseball Prospectus, died on Thursday from heat prostration. He was 43.
If you ever click the links over on the side, you know I have both Baseball Prospectus, and Doug's own blog linked. Doug was one of my favorite bloggers, due to his writing style, and his wealth of knowledge on the business of baseball.
Dewey's House gives our deepest condolences to Doug's friends and family.
Friday, May 21, 2004
- Derek Lowe has really shot himself in the foot with his start to the 2004 season. Essentially, to realign his E.R.A. with that of the most highly compensated pitchers, say around 3.25-3.50, he would need be stellar from here on out – as in somehow-miraculously-revert-back-to-2002 stellar. In looking at his monthly splits since 2002, I noticed that only in September of last season did he manifest anything close to his 2002 form. To say the least, it would be an awfully big stretch for any General Manager to consider Lowe worthy of either big bucks or a long-term commitment, much less both. Still, as long as folks like Bill Bavasi and Chuck LaMar are populating Major League front offices, mediocrities everywhere can still hope for their payday.
- Bronson Arroyo faces Toronto ace Roy Halladay tonight. Orlando Hudson, Reed Johnson, Frank Catalanotto and star Vernon Wells have all begun to swing the bats well. Amazingly, this Toronto offense has been strong in the month of May despite little production from three of its most heavily relied upon players. Eric Hinske, Josh Phelps and most surprisingly, Carlos Delgado all continue to struggle.
- Go to boston.com, look at the Johnny Damon shaving pictures and find the one of his fiance. Just trust me.
First, David Ortiz has signed a 2 year contract extention (with option). Terms to be announced. Off to the game.
c - Kevin Cash .236/.293/.368
1b - Carlos Delgado .232/.328/.406
2b - Orlando Hudson .270/.348/.461
3b - Eric Hinske .212/.289/.329
ss - Chris Gomez .289/.368/.382
lf - Frank Catalanotto .346/.383/.478
cf - Vernon Wells .286/.365/.429
rf - Reed Johnson .295/.357/.450
dh - Josh Phelps .245/.298/.361
Team - .267/.336/.405
Red Sox - .264/.347/.436
Toronto - 98.8%
Boston - 95.8%
Toronto - 0.645
Boston - (-8.529)
Toronto is hitting much better now from their time in Devil Ray land the first six times the Sox have faced them. However, the last time the Blue Jays have homered was against Pedro at the Sky Dome. That's a serious power outage.
Tosca, despite being brandished as a 'Moneyball' manager, meaning he doesn't hit and run/steal/bunt.
He still doesn't hit and run or steal much, but the Jays have laid down 8 sacrifices, which is 4 more than the Red Sox, and 8 more than Boston players not named Pokey.
All things considered, Kevin Cash is hitting better than Carlos Delgado. For that matter, so is Pokey Reese.
Friday - Halladay 15.139 vs. Arroyo 9.606
Saturday - Lilly 3.097 vs. Martinez 14.534
Sunday - Batista vs. 5.159 vs. Wakefield 13.406
Bullpens - Toronto 20.031
Boston - 40.850
Usage - Toronto 2.9 RpG, 1.03 IPpA
Boston - 2.7 RpG, 1.08 IPpA
Arroyo's numbers only count time in the rotation. I don't think I explained RpG and IPpA. They are simply Relievers per game, and IP per Appearance for the bullpen.
Toronto's best bullpen pitcher this year has been Jason Frasor, by a good amount. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the closer role before the end of the year, since Terry Adams has been hemorrhaging saves.
Michael Nakamura is striking guys out at a scary rate.
Tosca skipping Pat Hentgen for a start deprived us from Halladay/Pedro IV. Four times the #1 and #2 pitcher in baseball from 2003 would have matched up before Memorial Day. I do feel a little cheated.
Valerio de los Santos sucks.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Here's where Mark Bellhorn currently ranks among qualified Major League 2nd Basemen:
Remind me again, aside from when Derek Lowe starts, why would Tito ever play Pokey Reese ahead of him?
Sometimes when you are ripping off a band-aid, you think it might be painful. You generally slowly rip it from your skin, cursing as hairs are being pulled off with your band-aid.
Of course, sometimes, the band-aid comes off like that. No pain, no incident.
That must what last nights game felt like for the Red Sox.
Tampa scores a run to tie it? Pop, Damon and Ramirez homer.
Get a few runners on against Schilling? Bang, two groundouts.
Get a few on against Embree with the tieing run at bat? Call in Foulke, game over.
Boring game to write about, fun game to watch. Kinda like when you play your little cousins in wiffleball, and keep hitting home runs. It's awesome, because you're hitting homeruns. Sucks because they are off 9 year old girls. Maybe that's just me.
Good pitching, generally good defense, good offense...dull win.
However, Mark Bellhorn is now up to 38 games with one of the Three True Outcomes (BB, K, HR). I say he goes the whole season.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
- Curt Schilling takes the mound tonight for the Carmine Hose while Rob Bell toes the rubber for the Devil Rays. Facing Rob Bell is fun for the whole family. I can't stress this enough. Between 2001 and 2003, Bell yielded an .875 OPS to opposition batters. For a little perspective here, Alex Rodriguez has an .876 OPS thus far in 2004. Carl Everett had an .876 OPS last year and Derrek Lee had an .872 OPS in 2002. The fun part about facing Rob Bell is that everybody becomes an upper echelon offensive contributor. Go get 'em, Pokey!
- Kevin Millar looked brutal last night. While he hasn't been quite as terrible thus far in May, it is still worth noting that he is currently slugging .363. Among Major League right fielders, Millar currently ranks 24th in slugging - right behind the big bopper himself, Ichiro!. Among firt basemen, he would rank 23rd, sandwiched between notable sluggers Doug Mietkiewicz and J.T. Snow. All of this makes me wonder; if Kevin Millar isn't hitting, which he has not been doing for at least 10 months now, what the hell is he contributing to the Boston Red Sox? It reminds me of my favorite quote from the late football coach John McKay who had this to say after another agonizing Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss:
"We didn't block very well today. But we made up for it by not tackling."
Millar hasn't hit very well. But he has made up for it by not running or fielding.
- And now for the weekly "Olney's counterfactual drivel" segment...
Today we get this gem:
"Jeter's at-bats tend to get more focused in the postseason; his plate discipline improves as he picks and chooses from pitch to pitch."
So naturally, Olney has done his homework and noticed that Jeter's postseason on-base is significantly better than his career regular season on-base. Oh wait. No he hasn't.
regular season: .313/.385/.455
Virtually the same numbers.
If the Red Sox lose tonight, I promise to write a heavily researched entry on Rob Bell with an undeniably positive spin.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
I would like to preface all of this by saying that it is always wise to temper enthusiasm when said enthusiasm stems from a victory over the Devil Rays.
That said, there were some damn good signs tonight.
- Tim Wakefield, after two crap outings in a row, pitched very well tonight. He allowed just 5 baserunners in 7 innings and had D-Ray hitters flailing for much of the night. This was a good sign but Sunday's start against a suddenly awakened Toronto offense may be a better barometer to decide where Wake really stands.
- Really, really nice to see the offense go off in the 7th. Hadn't seen that in a good while. Double, double, bunt single, double, home run. 5 runs, 0 outs. Man I miss that. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come.
- His performance will rightfully be overshadowed by Randy Johnson tonight but Jason Schmidt pitched a complete game shutout at Wrigley tonight, yielding just 1 hit and 1 walk in the process. I think we can safely declare him all the way back from off-season elbow surgery.
Randy Johnson just threw a perfect game against the Braves.
Oh yeah, and the Sox beat the Devil Rays.
I'm moving this week, so I'm stealing this post from my post at SoSH...
c - Toby Hall .275/.306/.338 OR Brook Fordyce .184/.244/.237
1b - Tino Martinez .300/.407/.540
2b - Geoff Blum .208/.256/.390
3b - Aubrey Huff .211/.277/.331
ss - Julio Lugo .284/.322/.485
lf - Carl Crawford .300/.349/.421
cf - Rocco Baldelli .284/.342/.373
rf - Jose Cruz Jr .200/.295/.383
dh - Bob Fick .164/.225/.288
Team - .241/.303/.371
Red Sox - .267/.348/.436
Tampa - 95.0%
Boston - 96.2%
Tampa - 4.970
Boston - (-10.788)
Tampa has a shit offense. That's really the long and the short of it. They have a few pretty good offensive players, but only Tino Martinez is hitting above where he should be, and Aubrey Huff, Bob Fick, Geoff Blum, and Jose Cruz creating a gigantic sucking noise from various spots in the batting order.
Tampa not only doesn't have a good raw offense, but they are underperforming as well. Tampa has been aggressive on the basepaths, perhaps to a fault. They have stolen 72% of the bases they try to, though.
Fun sample size stat: An offense of 9 Kevin Youkilises (Youkilisi) would be expected to score 2266 runs.
Tuesday - Wakefield (10.029) vs. Hendrickson (4.861)
Wednesday - Schilling (19.065) vs. Rob Bell (2004 debut)
Thursday - Lowe (5.677) vs. Zambrano (1.273)
Bullpens - Tampa (21.835) vs. Boston (40.571)
Usage - Tampa 2.7 RpG, 1.22 InnPApp
Boston 2.6 RpG, 1.10 InnPApp
The numbers are runs saved, which I have talked about on here quite a bit.
Bronson Arroyo would be the #1 on this staff by almost 5 runs.
Zambrano's last two starts have lasted a combined 6.3 innings and 12 runs. He has had mixed success against Boston, posting a 5-2 record, 5.19 ERA, and is 1/3 in save opportunities.
Probably the most interesting match up of the series will be Mark Bellhorn vs. Mark Hendrickson. It's a player that doesn't swing at borderline pitches against one that throws little more than borderline pitches.
Monday, May 17, 2004
Baseball is funny file: By the time Memorial Day rolls around, the #1 and #3 pitchers in the Cy Young voting would have faced off four times. Pedro also hasn't faced a man not named Halladay, Vazquez, Sabathia, or Ponson yet. Except Joquin Benoit. Which one of these isn't like the other?
ESPN has Cleveland facing off against the White Sox tonight at 7.
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Kevin Youkilis makes his major league debut today against Pat Hentgen. He's playing third and hitting eighth.
Who takes more pitches in this game, Bellhorn or Youkilis?
The answer is Bellhorn, 21 pitches (4.2 PpPA) saw more than Youkilis 16 (4.0 PpPA).
You know, last year I never got caught up in the whole Cowboy Up thing. It was a fun little slogan for the people on the team that actually had seen a horse. It was kinda stupid for 45-year-old accountants to wear cowboy hats and say it, but I think a lot of things are stupid. Plus it gave Yankee fans fodder to distract them from their personality-free brand of DroneBall that the 2003 New York outfit threw on the field.
For the first time of the 2004 season though, the whole 'spirit' of 2003 team came through.
The Red Sox staked out a two run first, with some help from a balk (most exciting play in baseball), a Wacky Pitch!, and an infield single (who said small ball doesn't work. Right, logical people). The Sox tacked on another run with the Mark Bellhorn sacrifice fly plated Pokey Reese.
Par the course so far, in the bottom of the 6th, the Red Sox then promptly gave back the lead when Derek Lowe gave up a single, double, sac fly, and hit by pitch. The score was run to 3-1.
Then the Red Sox sieve defense took over, as, with Vernon Wells on third, and Josh Phelps on first, Eric Hinske grounded a ball to short. Reese flipped to Crespo, who threw it to first. Hinske beat out the relay. Jerry Remy mentioned how far away from second Crespo was positioned, making the double play almost impossible to turn. Lo and behold...
Hinske stole second, Simon Pond walked. Greg Zaun grounded a ball to third, which Mark Bellhorn threw away, scoring Hinske. Showing his typical pose, Lowe hit Chris Gomez with the next pitch. Terry Francona brought in Alan Embree with the bases loaded and two outs.
Embree retired Orlando Hudson with a ground ball to third.
The bats were silent in the 7th.
A funny thing happened in the 8th though. In a tie game, one where the pitching and field had let them down for one inning, the bats woke up, and the defense held. The best part about it was that it was the offense capitalizing on the mistakes of the Toronto defense.
Kerry Lightenberg comes in and Manny Ramirez reached on a infield single, and a throwing error by Gomez moved him to second. Jason Varitek was hit by a pitch. Brian Daubach thought it was 2001, and doubled in Ramirez. Millar thought it was May 2003, and singled in Varitek. Pinch runner Gabe Kapler scored on a Wacky Pitch! and Millar took third on a throwing error, this time by Zaun. Caser Crespo thought it was 1998 (or the last time he could hit, I'm assuming it's high school) and doubled in Millar.
Valerio de los Santos came in just in time to allow Pokey Reese to sacrifice (!!!), recording the first out of the inning. In a 7-3 game, it is very important to move the runner up to third. Damon struck out. Bellhorn walked, after getting spun around on a very high, very close fast ball. Ortiz doubled in Crespo and Bellhorn. David McCarty remembered the rest of his career and struck out (suck out?).
On the bunt, I don't get it. No reason, no method. No idea.
The Red Sox then held the Blue Jays the last two innings, using Scott Williamson and Keith Foulke, which was like using two nuclear warheads to kill a fly.
I'm as big a fan of massive retaliation as the next guy, but there was no need to use Williamson for a third day in a row, and use Foulke in a 6 run game. Call me stupid, but isn't Jamie Brown, the guy just called up from Pawtucket, the perfect guy to eat up those two innings? If not, why is there a wasted roster spot on a 12th pitcher?
I don't know either.
Several more notes:
*The groundball/fly ball chart on the right has been updated. Hooray!
*Yes, I have heard the Beltran rumors. And no, I will not write about it until it happens. As we learned from ARod, it's better to say nothing and wait and see.
*Byung-Hyun Kim got knocked around in Pawtucket tonight. I'm more convinced than ever that he is hurt, and the ineffectiveness is due to returning too quickly.
*Bronson Arroyo vs. Pat Hentgen tomorrow at 1:05 pm. Day time in Toronto!
Friday, May 14, 2004
- Gotta feel for M's fans. With every right to do so, the fellas over at the USS Mariner have been killing Seattle GM Bill Bavasi and manager Bob Melvin. Bavasi threw his team under the bus yesterday, saying;"They don't play offense," he said of his players. "They either don't know how to play offense or they can't.
Yes you are right Bill. But more to the point, there is no real sense in publicly making disparaging remarks like that when the team could not have reasonably been expected to hit in the first place. It's unreal to me that it never occurred to this guy that adding players like Spiezio, Ibanez and Aurilia might not result in the offensive windfall Bavasi obviously thought it would.
See Sox fans, could be worse!!
- I hope folks can stay relaxed over the Sox's struggles of the last couple of weeks. Frustrating though it may be, this team is too talented to continue to play as they have been. Hang in there.
- Joe Sheehan writes a pretty scathing indictment of San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean today. It's a pay article but who cares? Any true baseball fan without membership at BP is missing out bigtime. Sheehan points out that, like Bavasi, Sabean has placed far too much faith in medicre-at-best players. Surrounding Barry Bonds with the likes of Jeffrey Hammonds, Dustin Mohr, Michael Tucker and company is downright criminal.
- Our old buddy Casey Fossum takes the hill for the Snakes tonight for the first time ever. The guy has been unhittable in three starts in Tuscon and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Fossum have an excellent season. His peripherals have always been fantastic and I would be shocked if one of these years he didn't put it all together and become a fine Major League pitcher. Maybe this is the year.
- Soxaholix has one of his best entries ever today. Ridiculous.
- In an unrelated story, my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvnia, makes its first NCAA lacrosse tournament appearance since 1989 on Sunday in Annapolis as they take on the United States Naval Academy, the nation's #2 team. Exciting stuff.
- I am really busy this weekend so I do not know how much I will be able to post but I will try and get a weekend recap of sorts up before Sopranos time Sunday night.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
There is a plague on the Red Sox, and it involves Mark Bellhorn.
It of course is not Bellhorn the player, but it's fans that see his batting average, and his strikeouts and say he isn't any good. The see him non-chalantly toss the ball to first, and say he's just like Todd Walker.
It's all crap.
Mark Bellhorn is at a disadvantage with the general fandom because his skills just happen to be contrary to the typical "payoff" skills that we've been taught by sports casters and high school coaches are important. His batting average is in the neighborhood of .221. He looks slow and sloppy on the field. He strikes out A LOT.
Unfortunately, none of that really matters in the world of baseball production.
Bellhorn's batting average is .221. But his on-base is .384! That means he gets on base 38% of the time. More importantly, that means that he is only out 62% of the time. When an offense is scuffling, you need less outs wasted, not more.
Bellhorn's fielding is derided by scouts and fans alike. I don't know why though. He has made two errors at 2nd base. On the team, thats more than three-times less than Bill Mueller. He's made less errors than Marcus Giles, Adam Kennedy, Orlando Hudson, Bret Boone, and Fernando Vina. His Zone Rating is better than Boone, Kennedy, Vina, Jose Vidro, and 14 other second baseman. Ulitmate Zone Ratings put him as an above-average defensive 2b. No one has been able to prove to me he's an average 2b, never mind a bad one. My ears are open.
As I said before, Bellhorn makes an out 62% of the time he steps in the batters box. Among the regulars, the only men that are better are Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek. That is 90 plate appearences that he has recorded an out. Forty-four percent of those outs have been via the strike out. Ironically enough, 44% is the same percentage Pokey Reese has grounded out. Can someone please explain to me, without using tired cliches, but actually prove to me, why Bellhorn's strikeouts are worse than Reese's ground outs. Or Nomars pop outs last year.
If you want to see the calibre of baseball fan you are dealing with, ask what they think of Mark Bellhorn. It will answer a lot of questions.
Joy of Sox links to a story in today's Buffalo News. Having lived 20 of my 24 years here in Boston, I have become quite adept at identifying hack sportswriters. Well this very well may be the most hacktastic article I have ever read. Something named Bob Dicesare took these shots, among others, at Ramirez;
"Manny Ramirez took a one-day leave from the Boston Red Sox on Monday to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Let me know when he opts to become a naturalized human being.
A Dominican? An American? It matters not. Ramirez is, and always has been, an arrogant, standoffish soul, and no oath of citizenship can alter the base reality of the man."
How many times do you think this chump has even spoken to Manny? To issue such hurtful remarks, surely he must know Manny awfully well.
His email address is at the bottom of the article and I encourage anybody and everybody to let Mr. Dicesare know just how dispicable this piece is.
How does crap like this even get past an editor?
I didn't get to see much of the game so I do not have a lot to say on it. Cliff Lee struck out 8 Red Sox in 6 innings and ran his record to 4-0. The Indians are a decent reliever or two from being a pretty good team.
Curt Schilling faces Miguel Batista tonight up in Toronto. The Blue Jays seem to be in a bit of turmoil after yesterday's heartbreaking loss in Kansas City. Eric Hinske, with men on first and third and trying to protect a 1-run lead, did his best Roger Dorn impersonation and laid down next to a Mike Sweeney ground ball. The ball went into the left-field corner and Carlos Beltran scored the game-winning run all the way from first base. Jays reliever Terry Adams threw his hands up in the air in frustration and had this to say after the game: "I made the pitch I needed to make, and he put the ball on the ground," Adams said. "It's out of my hands after that."
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
To your right, you will see some changes.
Those changes my friends, are links. Click on them and you will get to read people such as us I talk about their teams. Its's fun.
ALso coming soon, hopefully, is an additional page or two that has all the stats that I work on, and stuff like that. Right now, I am in the middle of looking at tendencies between groundball/flyball pitchers. A running total will hopefully be posted soon, so that you, the reader, can also track the progress.
Baseball is fun
I was fortunate enough to attend last night's game. Pedro was awesome and the official suck-pump of Dewey's House, David McCarty, was the game's hero. Onto the impressions...
- A day after becoming an American citizen, Manny took the field with a miniature American Flag in his hand. The crowd stood and cheered but it was an undeniably lukeworm reception for what ought to have been an overwhelmingly warm moment. Imagine if he had done this Opening Day of 2002 or in a postseason game in October of 2001? The ovation would have gone on for hours. For more insightful political commentary than I can provide, I would send you to Pandagon but I will just say that I don't think that American pride is at an all-time high these days.
- The first two innings were terribly frustrating. The Tribe had three ground ball hits, all three of which I thought should have been outs. I know the scientific evidence says that Mark Bellhorn is, at worst, a slightly below average defender. But the anecdotal evidence is mounting that this guy just can't get it done in the field. While one hit went off David Ortiz's glove and was clearly his fault, a Jody Gerut single to Bellhorn's left and an Omar Vizquel single up-the-middle were not hit terribly hard and appeared to be reachable.
- Pedro retired the final 16 batters he faced. It was a glimpse of the old Pedro. He was routinely hitting 92 MPH on the gun and had all his pitches working for him. Matt Lawton, who victimized Pedro last Thursday night with a lead-off home run at Jacobs Field, struck out three times and looked hopeless in the process. He gave up five hits but it should have only been two. He gave up two runs but should have been zero. He had eleven strikeouts. Pedro was dominant.
- Literally the very next pitch after I explained to my girlfriend that Gabe Kapler could hit lefties pretty well, he hammered a ball over the Green Monster. So I was feeling pretty smart....
- Literally the very next pitch after I finished explaining to my girlfriend that David Ortiz was overmatched by the tough lefthander, C.C. Sabathia, Ortiz turned on a fastball and put it 20 rows up into the seats in right field. I was happy to sound like a dolt.
- While I have been down on him a bit this season, I have to admit that Terry Francona managed a helluva game last night. Pinch-running Crespo for Ortiz and pinch-hitting for Reese with Daubach and then McCarty when Eric Wedge went to the southpaw Scott Stewart was tremendous. I also think he handled Pedro perfectly.
- Keith Foulke is awesome.
Tim Wakefield faces Cleveland's young promising lefthander, Cliff Lee, tonight at Fenway.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
-So Byung-Hyun Kim is no longer a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Seems harsh after three starts but such is life when you have a manager that seems as inept as his predecessor with respect to handling a pitching staff. Kim was awful last Wednesday night, don't get me wrong. But I thought he was pretty decent last night. He gave up two runs in the first inning on three Fenway specials - wall scrapers. Balls that would have been outs in literally every other Major League park. In the second, he gave up another two runs chiefly because Dave McCarty is useless (how's your chin, bro?) and also because Kim and Varitek became mixed up on a particular pitch and not one but two runs scored on a passed ball. Then after setting down the Tribe in order in the third, Kim retired the first batter of the fourth and was only allowed to face three more batters. Lenny Dinardo came in and, in succession, gave up a single and a sacrifice fly. I guess the point I am trying to make by reviewing Kim's outing in detail is that it is the job of the beat writer or the casual fan to simply worry about results. Yes, BK gave up five hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings. Yes, Kim threw just 45 of his 85 pitches for strikes. But isn't it the job of a management team to dig a bit deeper. How many balls did the Indians hit hard off Kim? Two? Three? And sure he threw a lot of balls but he was right around the plate all night. Isn't that simply symptomatic of a player showing a little rust after missing virtually all of Spring Training? I think Kim caught a raw deal here. Still, he now moves to the bullpen and perhaps he can quickly recapture some of his command in some low leverage innings. Meanwhile, Bronson Arroyo will take his place in the rotation. He is someone in whom I have confidence but I hate to see the Sox fail to use someone of Kim's ability optimally.
- Manny is now a U.S. citizen. Congrats, Manny! Take this with a grain of salt because it is definitely an observation from afar, but I think when Manny is old and reflects back on his life, he will regard 2004 as a watershed year in his life. He is on a great team, putting up some of his best numbers, comfortably communicating with the media for the first time and is now an American citizen. I'm happy for him.
- Pedro on the hill tonight and I will be in section 29. I imagine it will be low-scoring. C.C. Sabathia has been tough this year and Pedro really seemed to own the Tribe last Thursday.
Monday, May 10, 2004
Couldn't the same points have been made, only like this, in today's Gammons piece.
"It's always about hitting, and the lack of it, and the fact is that except for the odd lunar alignment -- such as in 1995 -- it comes back to the hitting, and lack of it.
There is a reason the Yankees and Red Sox are what they are, 5 and 1 games back of where they were through 31 games in 2003 respectively, specifically because the lineups they can afford at $107.3 and $64.85 million respectively, have under-performed thus far. Boston got to this day in first place because they were fortunate the Yankees’ offensive underperformance was greater than their own.
For all the Angels' strong bullpen arms, the reason they survived so many injuries in the first month is their lineup, in which GM Bill Stoneman has invested $51 million in a slew of hitters that compliments their average starting pitching and tremendous bullpen quite nicely. Oakland has struggled, not simply because its big three has been worse than normal, but because their offense ranks just 10th in the American League. Ranking 5th and 1st respectively in runs scored in the NL currently, you can see exactly why the Cubs and Astros are such favorites.
New York and Boston are the two highest-revenues franchises, and they need that revenue for hitting because neither team has many homegrown position players; OK, Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter may have come up through the respective systems but they are still in the minority on both clubs. The Angels drafted a few of their position players but Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Guillen and David Eckstein shoulder much of the load…"
And so on and so forth.
There are so many counter-examples to the worn and downright inaccurate adage, "pitching wins", that it is hardly worth mentioning. Right off the top of my head I can name the 2002 Boston Red Sox and the 2003 Los Angeles Dodgers as teams that led their respective leagues in runs allowed and yet did not even sniff the postseason. And of course there are countless examples of teams that hit a ton but couldn't prevent runs for the life of them and so those teams failed to experience great success as well. Fact is, there is no magic formula for winning baseball. It's not pitching well, it's not hitting well, it's not having a great bullpen and it's sure as hell not making outs.
You just have to try and score more runs than your opponent and whether that be by consistently winning pitcher's duels or consistently outlasting your opponents in slug-fests doesn't really matter.
It's such a tired point but I needed to rant a bit after seeing that Gammons piece.
I am going to eat something so I can throw it up if BK pitches like he did last Thursday night.
Big stupid loss. Stupid, stupid loss.
Yesterday's loss makes me cringe, because it was a winable game from the onset. There were three decisions that were made in the game yesterday that befuddled me.
- Starting David McCarty
- Picking Malaska to face Carlos Beltran
- Not pinch hitting McCarty in the ninth
You have a first baseman/outfielder who has a very good reputation with the glove, yet really can't hold his own with the bat. He starts games because of the overrating of his contributions, and he's seen as a good clubhouse guy.
Of course I am talking about Terry Francona. I'm assuming that is why 43 plate appearances have been wasted on first baseman/outfielder with a .205/.295/.359 line.
The last three years:
As a lefty: .296/.365/.519
As a righty: .292/.362/.492
As a lefty: .337/.412/.687
As a righty: .233/.395/.500
Assuming you want to flip Beltran around and bat right handed with the bases loaded, Francona went with Mark Malaska. The options?
vs. LHB .176/.222/.176
vs. RHB .333/.429/.500
vs. LHB .100/.091/.100
vs. RHB .188/.278/.313
vs. LHB .087/.115/.217
vs. RHB .167/.286/.375
There was some mention of Embree not being available, but no one really told Alan Embree. "I haven't pitched that early in a game since the season started," Embree said. "Are you going to waste it on one batter?" (Boston Globe) According the situation, Malaska would have been the worst choice, based on this sample. Last year, it would have been like tossing Scott Sauerbeck out there.
End result? Bases clearing double, game goes from 3-2 to 6-2 with one swing of the bat.
This is a small issue, but McCarty sucks. He sucks very, very much. Scott Sullivan on the mound, and while he usually keeps righties from doing anything, he turns lefties into Manny Ramirez. On the bench is Brian Daubach.
McCarty hits. By hits, I mean he creates an out, which for all the shit I give him, he does do at a fairly prolific rate. Daubach would have been a better pick.
Anyway, the struggling Cleveland Indians come to town tonight. Byung-hyun Kim pitches against Jeff D'Amico in a rematch that started the 4 game Sox win/5 game Indians loss streaks.
I have heard Scott Boras is good, but if Derek Lowe thinks he is getting $10-12MM per over 4-5 years, he had better hope that Boras is damn good. Lowe yielded 5 walks and 5 hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched yesterday. His E.R.A. is now over 5 for the year and Sox management, while obviously concerned over Lowe’s performance, have to be privately chuckling at Boras’ ridiculous contract talk. Rewarding a player based on one season is imprudent enough. Rewarding a player based on one season that occurred two full seasons prior is downright lunacy. Lowe has every right to pursue as much money as he can. The Red Sox have every right to determine their own market value assessment for Lowe. Foolhardy though it may be, I think there are other franchises that will take a look at Lowe’s win total and reward him based on it. Lowe will not be a Red Sox next year.
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Pokey Reese hit 2 HR's.
Jason Varitek stole 2 bases.
David McCarty hit a HR (still sucks).
G38 went the distance.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
I arrived at Copperfield’s if not at five on the nose, pretty darn close. I don’t know what it is but I love that spot for pre-gaming. I went to the end of the upstairs bar and parked myself, sipped my first beer and waited for my pal Fenny to arrive. I love that end of the bar at Copperfield’s because above the back bar on the wall at that end is a black and white photograph of the two most laughably disingenuous athletes of my conscientious time as a Boston sports fan, Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens. I just find the picture to be hilarious, the same way I might find a picture of Haim and Feldman to be hilarious. Anyway, good crowd at Copperfield’s and as my crew started to arrive, the good vibes started.
We sat down in our seats about five minutes before the first pitch and I was able to get the lineups onto my scorecard;
Fresh off a 4-year, $11MM extension, Angel Berroa leads the game off with a slow chopper to 3rd that results in an infield single. It wasn’t an error but I swear at least 20 3rd basemen make this play. Bill Mueller charged hard (but not quickly), released quickly (but not accurately) and Berroa beat it. Tony Pena then hit and run, effectively staying out of what otherwise would have been a sure double play as Pokey Reese retired Beltran, 6-3. Then, capitalizing on Wakefield’s slow delivery, Berroa swiped 3rd and with 1 out, Mike Sweeney was able to score Berroa with another 6-3 groundout. 1-0 Kansas City.
Things were quiet until the top of the 3rd when the Red ox’s gloves once again failed them. More specifically, Mark Bellhorn’s glove once again failed them. Bellhorn is a Dewey’s House favorite so I do not want to mud sling but he has been terrible in the field this week. His error during a run-down with men on 1st and 3rd led to Kansas City’s 2nd run. In the home half of the third, the Sox got to Kansas City starter Jeremy Affeldt a bit. Johnny Damon hit a solo home run and the Sox were able to push across a second, game-tying run as well. Kevin Millar doubled home Mark Bellhorn, who had followed Damon’s home run with a single.
The Royals blew the game open a bit in the 5th. Five hits and a Bill Mueller error led to 4 Royals runs. The Fenway crowd grew uneasy.
Again, things stayed quiet until the Red Sox half of the 8th. This time Doug Mirabelli came up with the big hit, doubling home two Red Sox runs. The lead was 6-4 going into the ninth.
Mike MacDougal started the bottom of the ninth for the Royals and given the way the Sox have hit of late, there seemed to be little hope around the stadium for a Red Sox comeback. That changed quickly. Johnny Damon walked and Mark Bellhorn followed with a game tying 2-run home run. The place erupted. Ortiz then struck out and Manny walked. As he is known to do, Millar popped up. Jason Varitek then pinch hit for Gabe Kapler and roped what appeared to be a sharply hit single. But Juan Gonzalez took forever to get to the ball. Manny Ramirez never stopped hustling and third base coach Dale Sveum sent him. Gonzalez finally got the relay into Relaford who turned and fired but too late. Not so late of course that Ramirez should not have slid (he didn’t) but still, too late. Sox win, 7-6.
It was the most exciting regular season game I have attended in some time and I can’t wait to get back to Fenway tomorrow to see Curt Schilling for the first time in person.
I am really pumped for the SoSH bash.
Friday, May 07, 2004
All is right in the world. The Sox are back in sole possession of first place.
These are the Sox I know and love. Great starting pitching, solid offense and dependable relief work. Pedro shook off a woeful 1st inning going 7 strong, yielding just two singles and two walks after the first. Alan Embree worked the eighth and Keith Foulke finished the Tribe off in the ninth. Offensively, three Red Sox shouldered the load. After the Red Sox cut the Indians lead to 2-1 in the sixth, with two outs and nobody on Manny Ramirez hit another memorable home run. For all the press about how aloof and hell, even dumb folks seem to think Manny is, there is entirely too little written about the mad tactician he is at the plate. Ramirez drove a sharp 1 and 2 C.C. Sabathia slider into the right field seats for a game-tying solo home run. I am not sure there is another hitter (maybe Pujols) that could have driven this pitch the way Manny did. The other two offensive stars for the Sox were its double play combination. The pair combined slugged 1.000 for the game as Mark Bellhorn had 2 doubles and Pokey Reese a double and a triple.
I will be in attendance for tonight’s game against Kansas City. I will try and keep a fairly detailed ledger of the game and report back here as best I can. Tomorrow is the annual SoSH bash so again I will be at Fenway to watch a fellow member take the hill. Let’s just say I have every intention of being in no shape whatsoever to be able to report back on that game.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
I missed probably the best matchup of this young season because I went to go see Lewis Black.
He is very funny.
But because of that, I completely missed my first game of the season. On Monday, I missed the third through ninth innings because of the Roots (amazing in concert), and yesterday, my friend Bobby turned 23. My exposure to the game was interupted by exposure to Dos Equis, and Newcastles.
So despite my best efforts, I have actually caught some of the Cleveland series.
Anyway, tomorrow begins the Kansas City Royals series. The Sox will win. How do you like THAT for anaylsis?
So the Red Sox won last night and they broke out in a pretty big way. David Ortiz homered twice and Bill Mueller hit a key three-run blast that gave the Red Sox an 8-5 lead. That’s the good news. I feel compelled to point out the bad news because here at Dewey’s house we try and keep an even keel. When the Sox lose, even five straight, we try not to panic. By the same token, I believe it is necessary to not get overly excited over any one win or string of wins.
Byung-Hyun Kim sucked last night. He just did. His command was shaky all night and when he could find the plate, Tribe batters were able to get pretty good wood on the ball. Hell Omar Vizquel’s corpse homered off of him. Further complicating matters was the fact that Bronson Arroyo came in and pitched beautifully. Many will clamor about how Arroyo ought to replace Kim in Boston’s rotation but it’s bunk. Kim has the longer track record of success and will be just fine. Also, wasn’t it kind of nice to have a guy to stop the bleeding early on a night where the Sox starter clearly did not have his best stuff? I think Arroyo, despite his removal from the rotation, will prove to be an invaluable asset for the sox. Our 6th starter is better than most teams’ 3rd.
The defense, again, was pitiful last night. A routine grounder went right through Mark Bellhorn’s legs. The official scorer charged Kim with an error for a wide throw on a pick-off play at first base. I thought Brian Daubach should have had it but either way, it was terrible baseball. Finally, Kevin Millar kicked a ball right at him in right field that led to a run. Imagine being Johnny Damon with Manny on your right and Millar on your left. “Johnny, your responsible for 87% of the outfield, the other fellas will handle the remaining 13%.” Man do I miss Trot.
Pedro faces C.C. Sabathia tonight. It would behoove Pedro to regain some of his form if he would like to earn the sort of money he thinks he is worth over the next 3 or 4 years.
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
You know what, I'm not upset about the loss.
Sure, I threw things when Derek Lowe got rocked in the first. I swore when Bill Mueller couldn't make a throw, and Lowe showed his inner Loweness again. I was mad, when in a five run game, Terry Francona pulled Mike Timlin for Mark Malaska to get the lefty/lefty matchup.
But it doesn't matter because the offense is showing signs of life.
In the 4th, they pieced together a few hits and scored a run when David McCarty grounded into a double play. Sure it sucks that McCarty, who is a tall Pokey Reese, was hitting 6th, and it sucks how much he sucks, but Daubach and Varitek got singles, and the inning would have probably have been bigger if their was a hitter up with the minimum competency required to keep a job in the major leagues.
In the 6th, Manny Ramirez hit a bomb, watched it, and put his head down and walked to first. Indians pitcher Jason Davis said something to him. Manny said something back and continued on his route around the bases. Personally, I like it when hitters admire their handiwork, within reason. In my thinking, Manny was well within reason to watch. He hit a complete bomb. I'm not a big fan of pitchers walking toward a hitter, and screaming at him. Ah, well, que sera.
In the ninth...Double, walk, ground out, single (scores Daubach), home run, single, ground out, strike out. Four runs, and could have been more if David Ortiz/Bill Mueller/Manny Ramirez got just one hit in that rally. No matter. By the way, the speedball Manny struck out on was nasty. Unfortunately for Mr. Betancourt, I get the feeling if he throws it again, Manny will crush it. He was right on it, just a little bit late.
Today we have some Kim against some D'Amico. If you see someone named Kim today, wish her luck. Every little bit helps.
- Why is this lineup swinging at so many bad balls? In the first alone, Johnny Damon struck out waving at a 57-footer, Jason Varitek swung at a ball in the dirt and Manny swung at a first pitch at his neck. What made this offense so potent last year was its strike zone command. Aside from Bellhorn, nobody seems to have any.
- I am not sure I can take many more David McCarty at-bats.
- Derek Lowe is nuts if he thinks the Sox ought to give him 4 or 5 years at $12MM per. There are simply too many variables that come into play when the pitcher is downright incapable of striking out even a decent portion of a crappy lineup. Aside from Omar Vizquel's 1st inning double, Jody Gerut's double in the 4th and Matt Lawton's 6th inning two-bagger, all of Cleveland's hits were grounders that found holes. But such is life as a pitcher that relies on batted balls being converted to outs as heavily as Lowe does. Sox batters pounded grounders all night, only theirs did not find holes. Mark Bellhorn's 7th inning fielder's choice and David Ortiz's 3-6 groundout in the ninth come to mind.
- During the Cleveland half of the fourth, I was as frustrated as I have been with a Red Sox team in a long time. Two errant throws and a kicked ball by Pokey. It was embarrassing. I know these things happen but when your offense is struggling, which will happen from time to time, you bear the hell down in the field. So what happens? The Sox claw a run across in the top half of the 4th, get within 1, and then the fielders kick the game away in the 4th. It manifested such a gross lack of concentration and foucus. Whatever. Moving on...
- The game ended on an up note for me. It was nice to see a bit of the fight that characterized the 2003 team as the Sox were able to climb within 1 run. Rafael Betancourt, the Tribe's hard-throwing right handed reliever, blew a fastball by Manny to end the game. It was a fun matchup to watch.
- My main man BK takes the hill today. A win today would probaly go a long way restoring some goodwill with the inane sect of Red Sox Nation that still thinks the kid's a choker.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
On Friday night, a documentary covering the ups and downs of the 2003 Boston Red Sox season will open at theatres in and around Boston. It is entitled, “Still We Believe”. While the film features heretofore-unseen footage from the clubhouse and front offices, the bulk of the film focuses on the season through the eyes of a number of fans. The film represents the latest example of an unprecedented level of media saturation that focuses not necessarily on what happens between the white lines but rather how “Red Sox Nation” reacts to what happens between the lines. So much has been written and covered about the game’s “most knowledgeable fans” or “baseball’s most passionate city” that merely associating one’s self with “Red Sox Nation” now supersedes even love of baseball when it comes to being a Red Sox fan. Players like Kevin Millar repeatedly stroke the fans saying things like “you haven’t played baseball ‘til you’ve played in Boston” (Really, Kevin? Because your ex-mates in Florida might claim you haven’t played baseball ‘til you have won a World Series). Pedro speaks up and writers wonder how “the nation” will react. Manny doesn’t run out a fly ball and talk-show callers speak of how you can’t get away with that in this town. An ugly self-importance now pervades Sox fans. The documentary got me thinking “still we believe what?” And so I would like to share my beliefs as a Red Sox fan while addressing some of what Alex Belth would call the “Red Sox loving mooks” out there.
I believe that being a Red Sox fan is special. It means you have been through and endured quite a bit. But so have Indians fans and Braves fans and Mariner fans and A’s fans and Cubs fans. Feel fortunate to be part of such a large and passionate fan base but never carry on with an air of superiority. Other cities love their teams too. Also Red Sox fans, do not act like you are owed anything. Relish the fact that you get to take in the greatest game in the world in a historic park. Relish the fact that year in and year out you get to root for one of the consistently competitive few in baseball. If, God willing, the Sox win the World Series in our lifetime, feel fortunate. Do not feel unfortunate when the club falls short.
I believe that a Red Sox fan cheers wildly for his or her team and leaves the booing and cursing to the mooks. It is in this area where the fandom has lost its grip. Sure there are other parks where fans can be nasty but up until 1999 or 2000, Fenway was never this way. Now, “Yankees Suck” and “A-Rod’s an A-Hole” shirts sell like hotcakes outside of Fenway. Byung-Hyun Kim was booed when introduced before Game 3 of the 2003 ALDS. Hell even Manny heard some boos during intros the same night. You cheer like hell or you keep quiet. Negativity has no place at the game. There is enough interactive media out there now so that any voicing of displeasure can be done ex post facto and away from the diamond.
I believe that one ought to carry out his or her Red Sox fandom completely devoid of self-awareness. More than anything I have been confused by the general discussion by Red Sox fans about Red Sox fans. Go to a bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and nobody talks about how passionate everyone down there is about Crimson Tide football. They just are. In Boston, you are more likely to hear a fan discuss other fans than they are to discuss the merits of the sacrifice bunt. This was not always the case. Sox fans were knowledgeable and loved engaging one another about real baseball talk. Except for the rare occasion, I can no longer just strike up good baseball talk in and around Fenway like I once could. Too many mooks more interested in cursing and drinking and booing and, worst of all, doing the goddam wave.
Part of what makes the Red Sox a historic and valued sports franchise is their fans. I do not want to diminish their importance. But try and keep in mind that we love the Red Sox not because we want to be part of something cool but rather because we love baseball. That we are part of something cool is simply the byproduct of our collective love for baseball here in New England. A true fan knows a true fan immediately and in the rare instance the two should cross paths, the conversation can be memorable and enriching. My hope is that mooks give way to the true fans in the days, weeks, months and years to come.
Let’s all try and keep baseball and the game itself at the fore of our Red Sox attention and come down from this three or four year self-important trip we have been on.
And then we can revert back to our buffoonery the night the Sox win the Series.
In their last four games, games started by sensations Ryan Drese, Joaquin Benoit, R.A. Dickey and Jake Westbrook, the Red Sox have hit at a .242/.342/.333 clip. I am not really sure what to say about this other than that it is no reflection of the team's true ability to hit, Nomar and Trot or no Nomar and Trot. For any of you sensing an inexorable free fall into full-blown panic mode, I invite you to take in this piece over at Larry Mahnken's Replacement Level Yankee Blog. It was written the morning after the Sox completed their three game sweep of the Yanks and the Bombers stood five games out of first place. He urges New York fans to stay the course, that it is a long season, that the Yankees were too good to stay dormant for an extended period of time. Eight days later, the Yanks are a game out of first and winners of six in a row. So hang in there, Sox fans. The timely hits will come.
Tonight, Derek Lowe opposes Jason Davis. While I probably have said this about each of the last four opposing pitchers, I think tonight presents an especially juicy breakout opportunity for Sox bats. Davis, at best, has been shaky thus far in 2004. He has started five games, won zero of them and lost two of them. He sports a 4.91 E.R.A. and has a crappy 1.70 WHIP.
The agenda-driven will try and point at Pedro's public comments Friday night to account for this slide. Try and block it out and hang in until the Sox lineup starts swinging the bats the way they are capable of swinging them.
Monday, May 03, 2004
I wrote this last week:
"...this roster is built to succeed with exceptional regularity and it is difficult to imagine even a hypothetical scenario in which things could go all that awry."
Guess I forgot it was baseball.
The Sox hit just .245/.336/.337 over the weekend en route to dropping three straight to a Texas Rangers team that is looking more and more like it may have some staying power in a competitive American League West division.
Jeff's point is a good one. No one area of the game wins on its own. There has been a popular sentiment that this Red Sox team will be a better one because "pitching wins". Of course the more apt saying would go something like "consistently scoring more runs than you yield wins". Just as last year's team could be frustrating at times because a lineup of historic significance often was backed by average to below average pitching, this team too will frustrate if the bats do not get going. Instead of losing in 12-10 type games like they would from time to time in 2003, the Sox will lose 3-1 type games if the offense continues as such this season. There are just 7 teams that have scored fewer runs than the Sox.
I don't expect run scoring to be a long-term problem but I did think this weekend illustrated the point that winning is difficult without offense, just as it is without pitching.
On to Cleveland and Schill's on the hill.
My enthusiasm about being translated into French has tempered to the point where I am thinking about going over there with a peashooter to conquer Paris.
After winning six in a row, eight of nine, and 11 of 13, the Red Sox came crashing down to earth under the weight of a Texas team that seemed to play like a coked-out 5-year old on the prowl for more Pixie Stix. After a nap. The Texas W. Rangers took all three games after a rare rain delay pushed the Red Sox to play two doubleheaders in three days. Not taking anything from Team Dubbya, but that couldn't have helped the Soxos Rouge.
Why did the Bostonians lose?
Easy, they didn't score any runs off the theoretical bottom of the Rangers' pitching staff. The Sox missed Kenny Rogers, and Chan Ho Park, proven pitchers in that they have gotten the richest playing baseball, and scoring nine runs in three games against such moundsmen as Ryan Drese, Joquin Benoit, and RA Dickey. Talented pitchers all, but not exactly the creme de la creme (damn French). The worst part about the offensive implosion? Three of the runs came in the final inning of a 8-2 tally.
Yes, my friends, for all the lamentations that defense is what it takes to win, the Red Sox lost three games on the futility of their offense. In taking the microsizing of five games, the Red Sox won the games they scored six and seven runs, had great pitching, and shoddy defense, and lost the games with good pitching, good defense, and horrible offense. I wish I could say the offense was maligned because of the usual suspects named Reese, Kapler, and Millar. Millar actually hit, and Kapler/Reese didn't have enough at bats to really merit them as a reason for dragging down the offense (Reese actually hit a little bit too).
Bill Mueller, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez however did not. Combined, they hit .143/.211/.143 for the series. Considering those three hitters are pretty much the entire offense (save for flashes out of Damon, and Bellhorn's walks), as they go, so go the team while they are holding the bats.
Either way, in the marathon of 162, the Red Sox stand now at 15-9 after the first turn. Up coming is a four game series against the Cleveland Naps, at Jacobs Field. Hopefully the Sox bats can wake up, and take advantage of a suspect Indians pitching staff.