Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pedro From the Past

I was having trouble. I wanted to post something today about Pedro, obviously. But, I was having trouble. Not that there was nothing to say about him, obviously. There's always plenty to say about the best pitcher in at least a couple generations. No, the problem is that I've said most of it already. So, I decided to cheat a little. I decided to share some links to all the stuff I've already said about Pedro, since I really can't tell it any better than I already have.

I did try a short recap the other day. If you missed it, check it out here: Pedro

When Pedro was elected to the Hall of Fame, I decided it would be fun to record just how he performed when I was in the ark watching him. Spoiler alert - we has amazing! How do your numbers compare? Pedro Live

Three years ago, I wrote about my small collection of Pedro Salsa. I still wonder if anyone actually bought these to eat, or if everyone was saving them unopened like I did. Pedro Salsa

Of course, Pedro scorecards are some of my favorites. I talked about a few of them here: May 6, 2000 September 4, 2000  June 8, 2000

As you might expect, Pedro games made up a good chunk of my list of best games I'd ever seen. I should redo this this at some point and see if new games should be added. What does your list look like? How often is Pedro on it? Best games

Also as you might imagine, Pedro cards have a special place in my baseball card collection. I feature them every once in a while. Here's the most recent one. From the Pedro Binder

I even wrote about him at least once when he was with the Phillies. Just Like the Old Days

If you're writing the Red Sox alphabet, could "M" be for anyone else? M is for...

I'm sure that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Pedro. He's such a big part of Red Sox history, he was a big part of this blog.

It's been so much fun!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pedro

I’m almost positive I’ve told this story before. But, hey, it’s my blog. A while ago, a friend of mine was mentioning one of the pitchers on his fantasy team. He wondered how he had pitched the night before. I told him I didn’t know how he finished, but remember seeing some in-game stats and he wasn’t doing well. He had already given up a run or two in the first few innings or so. My friend just looked at me and sighed. He said, “Boy. Pedro just ruined you for other pitchers, didn’t he.”

That’s exactly what Pedro did. He ruined me for anyone else. How can I appreciate Curt Schilling and his 20 wins? The guy’s giving up runs and baserunners all over the place. How can a 3.50 ERA be your ace? What do you mean the guy didn’t strike out 15 batters?

That’s why Pedro’s going into the Hall of Fame.

It’s all been told and retold countless times. There was Pedro, and there was everyone else. I remember when Curt Schilling was traded to the Sox, there was a lot of talk about having a co-ace. So, I decided to make a list, and find ten stats where Pedro was better than Schilling. It didn’t take long. Over and over again, Pedro’s worst numbers for the previous five years were better than Schilling’s best numbers over that timeframe. There’s Pedro, and then way down there, Schilling. I already mentioned how Pedro made almost any other starter on the Red Sox staff part of the best duo in baseball. He could make a mediocre staff lead the AL in ERA, just about by himself. If he was on your fantasy team, you really didn’t need any other quality pitchers.

But, those are just the numbers. They only tell half the story. Granted, it’s a really nice half of a story.

I always loved Pedro’s swagger. And, not just because he wanted to drill the Bambino in the ass. But, watch Pedro after he strikes a guy out. He doesn’t pump his fist. He doesn’t jump in the air. He just walks off the mound in a circle looking disgusted. As if he can’t believe he actually had to waste time throwing the batter three strikes. Everyone knew the guy had no chance…even the batter himself.

Pedro changed bathroom breaks. When you were in the stands watching the game, people didn’t file down the stairs after the Red Sox finished batting. When Pedro was on the mound, you went to the bathroom when the Red Sox were batting. I saw a great picture once of a lonely guy waiting in line at a concession stand in an empty concourse. Then you saw Pedro on the mound in the monitor over his shoulder. Pedro was pitching. You sit down and watch.

Because, you never knew when Pedro would make history. I’ve mentioned before that when Derek Lowe threw his no-hitter, I didn’t even know he had one going until the seventh or eighth inning. When Pedro was on the mound, you started counting down immediately. The number of outs remaining for him to finally get his no-hitter, or maybe the number of strikeouts left for him to finally reach 21.

Pedro was the first Hall of Famer I was really a fan of. I was too young for Yaz, or Rice. Even Boggs wasn’t in my wheelhouse, even though I saw him play at Fenway once or twice. But, Pedro was the first one who I got to really enjoy at the time. To appreciate what I was looking at in real time…if you can ever fully appreciate what Pedro accomplished every fifth day. It was something else.


And I can’t wait for my first visit to the Hall of Fame with him in it.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

From the Pedro Binder



2004 Topps American League ERA Leaders

Is it possible to forget how good Pedro Martinez was? Not really, of course. But, I do sometimes forget how good he was for how long he was. His best seasons were so off-the-charts amazing, that I tend to be underwhelmed by the years where he was merely dominant.

If you told me to offhandedly recap Pedro’s Red Sox career, I would say best ever for the first five years, ignoring his injury year in 2001, then sort of tailed off. Which, would be correct. He was amazing in 1998. Legendary in 1999, and somehow even better in 2000. Then, 2001 was a pit of a waste, before he came back and should have won the Cy Young in 2002. Then, he started to show his age. After all, he only went 14-4 in 2003, and 16-9 in 2004.

Then I look at this card, and see him sitting on top after leading the league in ERA during the 2003 season. Really? Not only that, but he led the league with a 2.22. I actually mentally discount a 2.22 ERA when I look over Pedro’s career. After all, he had three seasons during his career lower than that. That’s insane.

So, I’m glad to have cards like this once so I don’t take Pedro for granted. Even in the years I remember as subpar, he was a league leader.

No wonder he’s in the Hall of Fame.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Playing with Personality

Rick Porcello won his first game in, like, a year last night. Some wondered if that would be the game he finally came around because it would be the first one in a while with Ryan Hanigan behind the plate. There was speculation that the return of that comfort zone might be enough to snap Porcello out of it. Which it was.

If course, that ignited the long-standing debate over personal catchers, and whether pitchers should just be able to throw any catcher. Which, of course, they should be able to. In a perfect world, the pitcher should just be able to put the same level of comfort and trust into any catcher the Boston Red Sox deem worth of putting into the line-up.

Really, that should apply to any issue of player comfort. A batter should be able to hit in any part of the order. A reliever should just come in whenever his name is called. They’ve been telling them that since Little League. You do what you need to do.

But, that’s the big distinction. The Red Sox aren’t in Little League. They aren’t in the business of making better players. They’re in the business of winning games with the players they currently have. So, they owe it to themselves, and their fans, to put the team in the best position to win each and every night.

Sometimes that means putting players in spots or roles where they’re most comfortable.

So, sure, in Little League a coach might tell Clay Buchholz that he’ll be throwing to whichever catcher is back there. He needs to learn how to deal with the different circumstances. He’s young. He’ll be better served if he learns to adapt. Which might be the difference. As a high schooler, or even a college kid, it’s all about the player showing a team what they can do. You want to show that you can throw to any color chest protector. But that all reverses once he’s in the majors. Now it’s all about the team dealing with what it has.

So, would it be nice if everyone was Brock Holt? Of course. Imagine if every player could just wake up, see which position he’s playing that day, and just go hit. But, there’s a reason why Brock is such a great story. That doesn’t happen all the time. So, with the rest of the players, they have a choice. They can just tell everyone they’re going to change things up all the time and deal with the lack of production that results from it, or they can put players in their best position and get the benefits of increased production.

Other businesses do it. You don’t tell a layer who’s shy and quiet to go into the courtroom. Sure, any lawyer should do whatever you ask of them. But, that’s not putting your firm in the best position for success. It’s the same with baseball.

So, you can wish that Clay or Rick didn’t feel better with one catcher over another. You can hope that Pablo Sandoval can switch between first base and third base effortlessly. You can hope that Dustin Pedroia hits as well no matter where in the line-up you put him.

Or, you can accept that players are humans with their own set of preferences and quirks. You can accept that some players are better suited for different things. Then, you can assemble your team based on getting the most out of every player on the roster.

Wouldn’t that make the most sense?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Which Yankee Ruined the All-Star Game more?

I’m starting to change my mind.

I’ve always thought it was Joe Torre. After all, he’s the one who selected players for the team not because they deserved to be there, but because they were Yankees. (His answer, not mine) He’s the one who had to come up with creative ways to get his Yankees players into the game, and the starters out of the game. (Again, his answer, not mine.) So, that really accelerated the whole “starter plays maybe two innings so the scrubs can play too” problem baseball has. It’s because of that style that Torre actually ran out of players, making a game end in a tie. It’s because of that that the best All-Star game in professional sports is weakened every year because players who have no business being there are playing most of the game. It’s awful.

But, I’m starting to change my mind.

I think it might have been Nick Swisher.

Remember when Swisher won the final vote for the team, beating out Kevin Youkilis in 2010? He was credited with winning because of his social media presence. Every report after his selection said the reason he was selected was his massive twitter following. He was able to reach 1.3 million people telling them to vote for him. That’s why he won. Every article about his selection credited his stats. Not his baseball stats. When they talked about Joey Votto winning the vote in the NL, they mentioned his baseball stats. No, when they talked about Swisher, it was all about his Twitter stats. MLB couldn’t have been more proud of him for making the team based solely on his popularity.

Now I see the mess that is the 2015 All-Star selection process, and think…this is all Swisher’s fault.

Everyone kept complaining that the Royals were stuffing the box. They were getting too many players on the team. Baseball needed to fix it. But, they were ignoring the real problem. The problem wasn’t the Royals fans voting too much. They problem is that it’s exactly what MLB wants. That’s why they still let fans vote. That’s why they opened up internet voting. They don’t care about the quality of the game. They only care about the buzz around the game.

Which is why they’ve come up with that annoying hashtag voting that is clogging up my timeline a full four days before the votes even count. That’s why MLB doesn’t care that the worst SS in the AL is starting the game while the best one didn’t even make it. Would the twitter buzz be anything close to what it is now if Xander was inserted as the starter? Would my timeline have been all Sox all the time on a Monday off day if the team was selected properly using numbers and talent?

If that’s what MLB wants, I guess that’s their call. If they want the All-Star game to just be about buzz, it’s their decision. I wonder if they’ve noticed that it doesn’t work for the other leagues. The NFL is the most buzz-centric sport in history, and nobody watches the Pro Bowl. But, if that’s what MLB wants, I can’t stop them.

Just stop telling me Jeter should be in the Hall of Fame because of his all-star game appearances. They don’t mean a player is any good anymore.

God help us if the Hall of Fame ever goes to hashtag voting.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

From the Pedro Binder



2001 UD Ovation

This card blows my mind for one simple reason. Look at that foil usage!

This might be the first time in the history of metallic foil that it is used in the correct places. Pedro’s name? Wonderfully clean and unfoiled. Pedro’s position? Right there clear as day. The team Pedro plays for? Crisp and prominent. The card company logo? Beautifully obscured in impossible to read foil. The card’s brand name? Also hidden away unless you tilt the card 36 times in the light. It’s amazing.

Oh, sure the Red Sox name is in foil, but as repeated information that’s just fine. Pedro’s number is also in foil. But, in this case, it’s printed right next to the picture displaying a very large #45. For this card, that works out perfectly.

The rest of the card is about what you’d expect from Ovation. There’s the baseball textured background. Ovation sure loves to incorporate a baseball into its cards. There’s the clean what to contrast with the smaller picture. That contrast sure does make Pedro pop out of the card. I actually like the semi-circular sepia for that very reason. It makes it look like Pedro is pitching in front of a brown disk. It allows the card to have some depth that is lacking in most other offerings.

All that comes together to form a very nice card. Even if my scanner seems to think that the right edge is nothing impressive. We all know better. Well done, Upper Deck.


I don’t get to say that very often.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hanley or De Aza?

Last night, I got in a little bit of a Twitter discussion about the left field situation for the Red Sox.

Jared Carrabis tweeted out that De Aza should be playing left field. He never wanted to see Hanley there again, and he didn’t care about Hanley’s bat.

I responded that it sounded like a foolish plan, and that Hanley’s defensive woes were vastly overrated.

The response from Mr. Carrabis? That he could think of four or five plays in the game last night that De Aza made that Hanley wouldn’t have made.

That’s not an uncommon response. People are under the impression that Hanley’s defense is killing the Sox in left. That if even an average outfielder were out there, the Sox would be winning a lot more games. As you know if you visit here a lot, I think defense is generally overrated. I would expect that an adequate athlete should get to most balls. Sure, the superior defenders get to more. But, they don’t get to enough to make up for any loss of production at the plate. Basically, Hanley’s bat makes up for the few balls he can’t get to in left. If that weren’t the case, Jackie Bradley Jr would be the Sox starting center fielder. Would have been for quite some time. But, even his superb defense couldn’t make up for his lack of hitting. And, he only had to make up the difference between himself and Brock Holt. Or, Rusney Castillo. If he can’t bridge that gap with a once in forever type glove, why can De Aza make up an even bigger difference with his glove?

It was the four-five plays in last night’s game that really stuck with me. People really think there’s that much of a gap? Let’s take a look. I checked out the MLB summary to see how much action Alejandro De Aza got out in left field.

Bot 2: Pillar doubles to left with two outs. Martin out at “home” 7-6-5
Bot 5: Martin flies out softly to left with one out.
Bot 6: Reyes flies out to left with one out.
Bot 6: Donaldson doubles to left, scoring a run.
Bot 6: Bautista flies out to left center ending the inning.
Bot 7: Colabello grounds a single to left with one out.
Bot 9: Donaldson flies out to left with one out.

That’s it. Seven plays. Which four or five do you not think Hanley would have made? Can we agree that Hanley would have fielded the groundball single in the seventh? The others?

You could maybe argue that only De Aza makes the play to nab Martin. Maybe. Although, I could argue that Bogaerts probably nails him at home, instead of third. Maybe you could say he doesn’t get to Bautista’s flyball to the gap…although Mookie looked like he’d be in pretty good position if he knew that Hanley would have been there. Maybe you could say that Hanley doesn’t reach Donaldson’s flyball, and it falls for a double. Although, in the bot of the ninth in a two run game, De Aza is probably in there for defense anyway.

So, really. Look at the plays the left fielder had to make last night. Which ones get by Hanley? Do you think De Aza stopped Donaldson from getting a triple in the 6th? Doubt it. Are there 4 or 5 plays? 2 or 3?

Any that cost the Sox the game?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that Hanley is a great defender. I’m not that crazy. I definitely think De Aza is a better one. That’s why I’d have him in left for the ninth. I’m just saying Hanley’s offense more than makes up for the plays he may not make in the field.


Otherwise Jackie Bradley Jr would be your AL MVP.