Thursday, May 26, 2016

Brock Holt Should Get His Number Back

Sometimes it’s hard to be the better person. Sometimes it just drains on you.

I get the feeling it drained on Robert Kraft. He tried to be the better person. He tried to play nice. He tried to take the high road. Then he got pushed off the bridge. The lesser person just kept taking shot after shot at him until finally he had to push back at least a little bit. That’s why he filed the brief yesterday. It was his way of making a point but still keeping the high road. Even though I bet it’s tough for him.

Just like I hope it’s tough for John Henry. Putting on the planned ceremony tonight should be really hard for him.

Because, let me see if I’ve got this straight.

Wade Boggs wanted his number retired. He whined about it every chance he got. He didn’t care that there were team rules about retiring numbers, and he didn’t meet the qualifications. Sure, he played the years. And, the Hall of Fame forced him to wear a Red Sox cap on his plaque when he didn’t want to. But, he didn’t retire with the Sox, so he didn’t meet the requirements. Wade Boggs felt the rules didn’t apply to Wade Boggs. So he threw a hissy fit. Oh, sure the Sox have broken their own rules. A lot. But, it’s one thing for the Sox to decide that Pedro is so special the rules don’t apply to him. It’s another for Wade Boggs himself to kick and scream and insist the rules shouldn’t apply to him. 

For whatever reason, it worked. Like a three year old throwing a tantrum, Boggs kept at it until he got his way. The Sox decided it wasn’t worth it to fight. Or, more likely, they decided that they could use an excuse to sell a few more tickets to a Thursday game in May. They gave in. They were the better person.

To prove it, they went an extra step. Why not make it a two day thing and celebrate the 30th anniversary of Boggs’s AL Champion Red Sox team. Have a little ceremony. It’ll be fun.

So, what does Boggs do at the ceremony celebrating a Red Sox team that lost the World Series? He wears his World Championship ring he won with another team. A ring he won with the Yankees. 

What a slap in the face.

He finally gets his way, and he goes and rubs their noses in it.

So, I hope John Henry wants to cancel the ceremony tonight. I hope he wants to rip #26 off the wall in put it back on Brock Holt’s back. I hope he wants to remove Boggs from the Red Sox Hall of Fame. He won’t, of course. But, I hope he wants to.

I also hope that to make up for it, everyone in the park boos him mercilessly when he’s introduced. It’s what should happen. He’s getting an honor he didn’t deserve, but wanted. Then he acts like a dink about it. So boo him. Boo him all night.

I’m sure it won’t happen.

But I hope at least everyone wants to.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekend Warriors

The Sox certainly knew how to finish off that series, didn't they?

As it often does, it came down to starting pitching. The Red Sox starters did well. Certainly well enough to win the games. With the offense the Sox are currently sporting, that's all they really need.

On Saturday, Joe Kelly came back from the DL. We were all wondering what we would be able to expect from his first start. The issue of "trust" came up again. Would we be able to trust him going forward? Had he turned that corner? Well, I don't know either of those answers. But, carrying a no-hitter deep into a game is certainly a great start. So good that some have even been wondering if he was pulled too soon. He certainly looked like the was at the end of his tank to me, though. But he did a great job, especially early, of fooling the Indians hitters with a variety of pitches. If nothing else, that's one win from a questionable spot in the rotation. At the very best, Cy Kelly is back on track!

Parcel did his best to follow him on Sunday. He didn't do quite as well. And, I'm not sure he deserved a standing ovation leaving after 5.2 inning and giving up two runs. But, after his last outing, you certainly got the impression his poor performance was in fact bad luck. Yesterday he was able to keep things under control, even when a could grounders found their way through. While you'd like a little more length, it's exactly what you look for from Porcello.

Of course, the Red Sox offense could make everyone look good right now. The fact that Jackie Bradley Jr was intentionally walked TWICE on Saturday can't be mentioned enough. With an actual Major League hitter behind him, he was walked twice intentionally, and pitched around another time. He may just be on the hot streak of his life, but right now it;s hotter than the sun. Other teams have certainly noticed.

Which is interesting in that they have, obviously, noticed how well he's hitting...but they're not doing anything about it. Before, following a hot streak you could almost see teams figure it out. Or, at least see him lose it. That hasn't happened this time. Of course, it could happen at any moment. But, the fact that he's made it this long is a great sign. If nothing else he's putting it together for longer and longer stretches of time. And that's great.

That's how you make an all-star season.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I scored!

April 10, 2007

Since he just had his birthday, it seems like a great time to feature one of Josh Beckett's performances. We can take a quick look at the pitchers box, and see just how good. Seven innings pitched, and only two baserunners. Unfortunately they were back to back, accounting for the sole run against him. But, there's certainly nothing bad you can say about that game.

You probably can't say the same for the pitcher following Beckett. Donnelly only managed one third of an inning before being ejected. At the time we all thought it was a pretty weird turn of events. But, it apparently stemmed from and ongoing beef between Donnelly and Guillen of the Mariners. I'm sure that wasn't the sort of game he was looking for. Thankfully the rest of the bullpen was able to close it out.

Not that it apparently would have taken great pitching. Look at all those colored diamonds on the scorecard. Look at all those substitutions. Looks like the offense had it pretty well in hand. I always say that my favorite part about keeping score is being able to go back in time. In this case, back to a time where Dustin Pedroia was batting ninth so that Julio Lugo could lead off. Yikes! Also, I apparently didn't catch Pedroia's number...and didn't have it memorized yet. The rest of the order is also filled with blasts from the past. Mirabelli. Hinske. Pena, for crying out loud. 

The player of the game? I hate to, but I need to give it to Kevin Youkilis. Not that he had a bad game, but he really only earned the honor because he was the only top guy not subbed out halfway through. But, two doubles and two runs scored is a pretty good say from the second spot in the order.

The goat? Looks like I need to hang the horns on the aforementioned Pedroia. He was one of only two starters not to score, and the only one without a hit. I know you probably can't expect a great game from the nine hole. But, everyone else was off the charts, making his struggles stand out.

But, of course, it didn't matter. The Sox put up four in the first on their way to an amazing fourteen. Even without Josh Beckett on the mound, they probably would have won easily.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Happy 36th Birthday Josh Beckett!

Today we wish a very happy 36th birthday to former Red Sox ace Josh Beckett!

I talk about Beckett a lot. He happens to be a great example to use in several common talking points.

Worried about trading away future prospects? Remember the Josh Beckett-Hanley Ramirez trade. The Sox traded away a young Ramirez, even though he was their top prospect. It hurt to give up on that much potential. It hurt even more when Hanley lived up to just about every inch of it. A perennial MVP candidate is not something you want to see from a player you trade away. But this trade shows that there's something more important than what you give up. It's what you get back. In exchange for Ramirez, the Sox got their ace. A young one too. Beckett would lead the Sox, in every sense of the word, to the World Championship just a couple years later. Even after seeing Hanley fulfill his promise, Sox fans can't help but be happy with the trade. So, when people rush out to mark every prospect in the system as "untouchable" they should remember that every prospect should be available, at a price. Especially if the price is someone like Josh Beckett.

I also mention Beckett when I talk about Pedro Martinez. Josh Beckett is the closest thing I've seen and felt to Pedro. The only difference is that Pedro did it for seven seasons, and Beckett for about seven days. I've often said that the different between Pedro and other Red Sox "aces" like Lester, or Schilling, was the expectation. When Lester took the mound, I expected a well-pitched game, and knew the Sox would have a shot to win. A really good shot. When Pedro took the mound, I knew the Sox were going to win. The only question was whether Pedro would allow even a run. The only other time I've felt like that was with Beckett during the 2007 playoffs. First, he completely shut down the Angels. Then the Indians. Then, the Sox went down 1-3, with Beckett scheduled the next game. Was there anyone who didn't automatically make the series 2-3? Beckett was going to win and send the series back to Boston. The idea of him losing never entered my mind. After he won that one, he embarrassed the Rockies in game one of the World Series. Reminding the hottest team in baseball that he wasn't about to be stopped. Just like Pedro would have.

Is there anything else you need to know about Josh Beckett? He was part of a huge trade. He made us all glad he was. He was absolutely filthy dominant in the playoffs as he won a ring with the Sox.

What else can you ask for?

Happy 36th Birthday Josh Beckett!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Jackie Bradley Jr is the Best Outfielder in Baseball

I'm not even really sure it's close. I don't even have to bore you with the numbers. You all know it just as well as I do.

Will he stay that way?

I have no earthly idea. Neither do you.

After all, we've asked this very question before. Is our answer any different? Maybe. Just maybe.

I look back at that previous post, and I see some of the questions becoming answers this time. He had just started a hot streak, since he was finally getting at-bats. Prior to that, he spent so much time looking over his shoulder at his replacement, or up at the scoreboard at his anemic average, that he didn't have any time to look at the pitcher he was facing. Of course he couldn't hit. The Red Sox put him in a bad spot, and he couldn't get out of it. It's hard to get hits when you're riding the bench because you're not hitting. It's hard to learn how to hit the inside fastball when you only see one a week, and spend it trying to prove to everyone you
can hit an inside fastball. It was a mess.

This year is different. No looking over his shoulder. Heck, the utility infielder is starting in left. Who could possibly be putting pressure on Bradley. He also started out well. He didn't start May with a .125 next to his name in the box score. That's huge. Because, he's going to slump. It may be a lengthy slump. But, when you fall from .300 to .275, that's much different that starting out a .205. There's a comfort level there that has never been there before.

Because, this isn't entirely shocking. Oh, sure none of us were expecting Tris Speaker to be patrolling centerfield this season. But, he's always shown he could hit. He was never a defensive specialist who struggled to keep his spot in the lineup. His performance improved every time he was promoted. There's no reason whatsoever that we should have expected anything below "solid" at the plate. I think we all fooled ourselves by setting phony bars. "Boy, with that glove, I'm ok if he hits .250" or something along those lines. Sure, we were stating the truth. But, we were also creating artificially low expectations. So, when he struggled we were more apt to worry. Think of our reactions to David Price this season as opposed to Clay Buchholz when they struggle. Give up a hit, and one was getting the benefit of the doubt, while the other wasn't. 

Jackie wasn't. We weren't fair to him that way. 

So, this is what we get from Bradley now. He still has the incredible defense. But, now he's free to hit as well. No nit picking. No stressing. Just getting out and playing. When a slump comes, he'll be free to work himself out of it. A hitless game against Felix Hernandez doesn't mean he'll get demoted the next day. It just means King Felix is a really good pitcher who sometimes gets opposing hitters out. He has a margin of error that he's never had before, and he's taking advantage of it. And that's really really fun to watch.

Especially from Section 36

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