Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tim Wakefield Live!

With the Red Sox making a huge trade to acquire a #49 (you may have heard) it made me wonder. What about the other #49? What about Tim Wakefield? How did he do while I was scoring the game? I figured his would be interesting. He played for a long time, in many roles. How did he do? Well, let’s see.

Right away I saw I was going to have to change things up. Since Wake pitched as both a starter and a reliever, my projections would be off. My totals too, for that matter. His lack of wins per appearance makes more sense when you realize he was a middle reliever for a lot of those. In fact, check out his games in May of 1999. On the 9th, he comes in for a regular one-inning save. Then, on the 22nd he gets the start and goes 8.1 innings for the win. This is not typical behavior.

But, overall, how did he do? A 3.54 ERA is about what I would have expected. Solid, if not spectacular. Just like Wake. He also performed better as a starter than as a reliever while I was watching. No wonder I was always a bit nervous with him as a close.

I find it really interesting that I apparently missed seeing him for the last seven years or so of his career. How odd that he didn’t pop up once or twice after 2005.

As for the projections? Meh. As a starter, a ten win season with a mid-tree ERA. As a reliever, 25 saves with an ERA over four.

But, the numbers were never the whole story with Wakefield. It was his ability to do whatever you needed, and do it well. From closer to starter to mop-up. All in one month if that’s what the team needed. 

That’s pretty valuable.

How did Wake do while you were watching?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Where to Begin

After all, I started writing three different blogs today, on three different topics. All had to be scrapped when the Red Sox made ANOTHER huge deal that needed to be discussed.

So, where to begin? How about the beginning.

The first deal was one I love. The Red Sox acquired Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers. They had to give up Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, and Josh Pennington. I'll admit that Shaw was the only one I was all that familiar with. But, Dubon and Pennington look to be top 25 type prospects. The first thing that I thought was humorous was the reaction to losing Shaw. I know he was highly overrated his entire time with the Sox. But, if anything should tell you his value, it's the fact that the Sox had to add two more players (plus a PTBNL) to the deal along with Shaw just to get back a middle reliever. Perhaps the people who were considering him a star in the making were overreaching a wee bit? But, of course, the Sox didn't just get back a middle reliever. They got back an elite arm. Throw him in a bullpen with Kimbrel, Kelly and a healthy Smith? The Sox are going to be closing out some games in style, no matter who the starter is. If you can get a key addition to the major league club for a back-up third baseman and a couple kids, I have to love that. 

Oh, and speaking of starters, the Sox got one of those too. The best one they could. The Sox added Chris Sale to the tip of the rotation. (Or, heck, second or third maybe.) Of course, he didn't come cheap. Anywhere close to cheap. But, again, they didn't give away anything from the big club. Of course, you're not getting Chris Sale with a package headlined by Henry Owens. So, the Sox had to part with top prospect Yoan Moncada. It had to hurt a little, right? But, his name doesn't start with a "B" so I'm cool. The Sox also threw in Michael Kopech and his 105 MPH fastball, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz. Yup. Like I said, it needed to hurt. But, again, these were all minor leaguers, and in return the Sox got one of the best pitchers in the game.

Yes, the farm system is less stacked than it was before. But, you now the main reason the farm was a little thin? All the studs are in Boston. Benintendi, Betts, Bradley, Bogaerts, Vazquez are all in Boston. There's your youth. There's your future. Those guys are starring in Boston for the next few years. Why do you need more guys in the farm? You know what you needed? Another starter in Boston. So, trade what you don't need to get what you do. Sounds like the perfect plan to me. And, remember, not every prospect pans out. You know who does pan out? People who already have.

So, sure. Reliever are quirky as a group. And Sale can be a bit of a nut case. But, they've proven they can play at a very high level. And, now they're on the Red Sox. How does that not make you excited.





Heck, where were you putting the kids anyway? Isn't it better to take that potential talent for a spin and see what it gets you? After all, it just might get you an ace.

Or even another one.

Friday, December 2, 2016

My Problems with the New World Series Home Field Advantage

By all accounts, Major League Baseball has changed the way it determines home field advantage for the World Series. For years, they used to simply alternate between leagues. Then, they changed it to the league that won the All-Star game. Now it appears that home field advantage will be given to the team with the best regular season record.

I have a couple problems with this.

The first is pretty minor. This is inconvenient for fans. As it is, fans are asked to buy tickets to earlier round games before they know when they are. Like last season. The Sox didn’t know if they were going to be the second or third seed for quite some time. That would determine whether they would host games one and two, or three and four. It almost came down to Sunday before they found out if they would play on Wednesday or not. So, if you’re a fan buying a ticket to Home Game 1, is that mid-week? Is it late week? That’s annoying. At least you knew when the World Series was. If you bought game 1 tickets, you knew the date of the game. The only question you had was if it would be played or not. You didn’t need to clear your schedule on two potential days. Now, even World Series games would be up in the air, potentially until just a couple days ahead of time. That’s really annoying.

My other complaint is on a larger scale. Go back in time to 1903 and the first modern World Series. There were two pretty distinct leagues, the AL and NH. Each league crowned a champion, like it had always done. But, which league’s champion was better? Only way to find out is to have them play. So they did. For the pride of the league. As the Series became a regular thing, swapping home field advantage seemed as fair as any other. Then, they decided to fix it to the all-star game. That made sense. Which league got to host the World Series? Why, the league that was the best, of course. After all, the Cubs weren’t in the World Series because they were the best team in Chicago. No, they were in the Series because the NL decided they were the best team in their league.

But, making home field based on regular season record takes the league right out of it. Now it’s determined by how teams perform against a selection of teams. Not even the same selection of teams. So, it’s not an award to the League. It’s an award to the team. That seems wrong. 

Bob Costas has been known to refer to the World Series as the “MLB Finals.” After all, with all these playoff rounds, it’s not a series between leagues. It’s a tournament. This is one more step towards that. It takes the league element completely out of it.

At this point, why bother with the two leagues? Why not take the sixteen teams with the best records, no matter which league? Better yet, do what I suggested to do years ago.

This is just one more step towards sanitizing the whole thing. It’s getting farther and farther from the original intent. It’s losing the charm. It’s losing the meaning.

It’s just another tournament now.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I Scored!

September 19, 1999

Let’s go quite a few years back, and check out a game from a playoff stretch run. This game is from late September1999, a year that the Red Sox would win the Wild Card, and make it to the ALCS before Pedro could carry them no farther. Let’s see how this one played out!

My favorite part about this card is the pitchers box. Check out Derek Lowe doing his best Andrew Miller impression. He entered the game in the sixth inning, and finished the game from there. He struck out three, while only allowing one baserunner. Not a bad performance at all.

The second thing I notice is the number three hole in the line-up. Not only is it weird to see Jason Varitek in that spot, it’s weird to see him wearing #33. Well, weird at the time. This is the first game I scored where Varitek wasn’t wearing #47. Does that make this card more valuable?

I know I say it every time I do a 1999 game, but I still can’t get over the rest of the line-up. Pedro really did carry this team all by himself, didn’t he? Damon Buford in the two-hole? Scott Hatteberg at DH? Wow.

But it worked, because the Sox had one inning big enough to seal the deal. The four-spot in the second was all the pitching would require in this game. The Sox added on three more just for fun to make sure Tim Wakefield could cruise until Lowe finished it off. 

The player of the game? Tempted to go with Wilton Veras and his key bases loaded single. But, I’m giving the nod to Nomar Garciaparra and his insurance two-run homer. The Tigers had just inched their way closer by scoring a run in the fourth when Nomar got it right back. 

The Goat? Everyone on the Red Sox got a hit in this game, so there’s nothing super-obvious. But, the aforementioned Damon Buford was the only player not to drive in or score a run. His 1-5 in the second spot wasn’t the sort of production you’re looking for. His strikeout in the second was particularly annoying because the first six batters in the inning had reached base before him.

But, of course, it didn’t matter. The Sox pounded out seven runs despite his best efforts to the contrary. The pitching did its job to seal the deal. Another convincing win from the hometown boys.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

List of 36: Things I'm Thankful For

1. Mookie Betts
2. Playoff Baseball
3. Hanley's return
4. Papi's Farewell Tour
5. Pictures with Section 36
6. Division Championships
7. Prospects
8. Facebook likes
9. Drew Pomeranz
10. San Diego All-Star uniforms
11. David Ortiz bling necklaces
12. Xander Bogaerts
13. Pictures with signs
14. Star Wars Night
15. Wally gnomes
16. Instagram followers
17. BB-8 baseball statues
18. Cy Porcello
20. Pictures in tank tops
21. Papi's Ceremony
22. Pictures with Logos
23. Releasing the Kimbrel
24. An expansion
25. Singing Dirty Water
26. Scoring
27. Andrew Benintendi's future
28. Twitter followers
29. Panda getting healthy
30. Pictures in Section 36
31. Jackie Bradley's glove
32. Sandy Leon
33. A good book
34. Ortiz's career
35. 2017's potential
36. Readers!

How about you?

What people are reading this week