It’s once again time to inject some opposing viewpoints into this blog. Since the Detroit Tigers will be visiting Friendly Fenway tonight, I contacted Sam of Roar of the Tigers. I asked Sam to answer a couple questions for me since it’s a RotT is an amazing Tigers blog. Sam, thankfully, agreed. I asked the same questions I asked all my visiting fans. I wonder how the answers compare. Here we go:
When did you start blogging? I took over Roar of the Tigers in June 2005. But I had been blogging elsewhere since 2001, and I had been blogging about baseball since about 2003. Long story there, I won't bore you with it. Suffice to say that a Red Sox messageboard played a vital role.
What is the theme/goal of your blog? Roar of the Tigers is a blog about the Detroit Tigers, written by a crazy person, for crazy people, or perhaps for mostly-normal people who have the ability to appreciate a little crazy in their lives. Also sometimes the only way I can express my feelings about a player or game is via Terrible Cartoons, and it's nice to share those with the Internet.
Which member/group of the Tigers are you most confident in?Miguel Cabrera. I would say Brennan Boesch but as he's still a rookie, I'm waiting to see if the other cleat is going to drop on his adorable head. Which member/group of the Tigers concerns you the most? Pitching. I am too used to thinking of Bondo as injured to trust him with my heart, Verlander throws too many pitches, Scherzer is very hot-and-cold, FredFred (that's Rick Porcello) had to be sent down to the minors already this year, and who the hell is even in the 5th slot for us these days? Armando? Poor bastard. The bullpen, aside from Papa Grande and Phil Coke's Magnificent Mohawk, has been awfully inconsistent. Well, I guess Eddie Bonine has been ok. But nobody even knows he exists, so he doesn't count.
Which member of the Red Sox scares you the most? (Yes, you have to pick one) Clay Buchholz. I'd be afraid he would sneak up on me and steal my laptop. Which member of the Red Sox do you like the least? I don't know how closely you read RotT or whatever, but I am actually a dual Red Sox and Tigers fan. I live in MA these days. I don't generally hate on the team, although I have loads of anecdotal evidence that Kevin Youkilis and Jonathan Papelbon are both asswipes off the field, and Dice K is starting to make me hate him on the field. That might be partly Scott Boras' fault, though, because Scott Boras ruins everything. What’s your prediction for the upcoming Red Sox/Tigers series?The Tigers will probably drop at least 2, because the Tigers always seem to lose when I see them at Fenway. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say the number “36”? Three feet. Seriously, that was the first thing. My second and third thoughts were 'pentagon' and 'krypton', so... I get the feeling this is not what you were aiming for. The fourth thing I thought of was Brad Thomas, Aussie Extraordinaire. There's your baseball.
I hope these questions offer some insight into the Visitor’s Section. (If you have a question you wish I had asked, let me know. If I do this again with other visiting teams, maybe I’ll use it.) Thanks again to Roar of the Tigers for helping me out. I wish the Tigers luck.
Heathcliff Slocumb pitched for the Red Sox in 1996 and 1997. He was able to save 31 games for the 1996 club. He picked up another 17 in the first half of the 1997 season. Not bad totals, really. But it’s the “half” part of that 1997 season that is really Slocumb’s legacy.
Closers are an interesting breed. There are the elite, lights-out closers. Papelbon is a good one. Billy Wagner looks to be one as well. Then, there are the other guys. Guys who collect saves, but may look particularly dominant doing it. Imagine Dice-K as a closer. When you look it over, in a vast majority of his innings, he doesn’t give up three runs. He would save a large majority of his chances. He’d be a good closer. Would anybody like watching it though? Slocumb was one of those. So, by the middle of the 1997 season, Boston was tired of it. Whether it was perception, or performance, everyone was ready to dump him. So, they did. At the trade deadline, he was shipped off to Seattle for a couple minor leaguers. Anybody who’s reading this blog certainly knows that the two minor leaguers were Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe. Varitek, obviously, went on to have the best catching career the Red Sox have ever seen. Lowe ended up being an all-star as a closer…and as a starter. In fact, he started the 2002 game. So, in exchange for Slocumb, the Sox got four all-star appearances. Not too shabby. Theo didn’t even get that when he traded away Nomar. Or Manny, come to think of it. Or Hanley. Hmm.
My only specific memory of Slocumb didn’t come when he was with the Red Sox. I’ve mentioned before that I was at the home opener in 1998 when Slocumb came in as a member of the visiting Mariners. His attempt to “save” a 7-2 lead failed spectacularly. We all joked in the stands that the Sox had a chance once he entered the game…even if nobody really believed it. The Sox scored three runs off him on three hits on their way to winning the game.
So, while his time in Boston won’t be remembered as fondly, Slocumb himself certainly will. Would the Sox have won the World Series in 2004 without Lowe and Varitek? I doubt it. That makes Slocumb a pretty important piece of Red Sox history. Just ask Dan Duquette.
Fresh off my fantastic responses from Tim Wakefield and Jonathan Papelbon, I’ve decided to dip my toe into the TTM waters once again. Who am I choosing this time?
Well, I’m going out on a limb with this one. I’m attempting Red Sox owner, John Henry. I’ve never tried a member of the off-the-field personnel before. I’ve only done players and coaches. But, I figured it was worth a shot. One thing that is different about someone like Henry is that he has a day job. Unlike a players whose main responsibility is to play baseball, Henry has to do something with the company that allowed him to buy the Sox in the first place, right? I can imagine the players and coaches having some downtime during the day. But, the chairman of John Henry Co must have some duties to attend to during the day, correct? So, I’m not expecting a lot form this request. Frankly, a response similar to Wake and Pap would be fabulous.
But, it should be obvious why the attempt is warranted. John Henry has proven himself to be an excellent owner. He cares about the fans, and how they relate to his team. Sure, some of the ideas the Sox come up with are a bit corny. Sure, Henry might not be Mr. Personality. But, the Sox have two rings since he took over. What more can a fan want?
So, I’m excited to see how this one turns out. Anyone else ever had any luck with front office staff? As always, I’ll let you know how it goes.
Deep Drive covers the life and career of World Series MVP Mike
Lowell. It follows him through the lows of cancer, to the high of World Series Championships. On every step of the journey, it displayed how Lowell battled through it all to become the player and person he is now. This book had a different feel to it. It didn’t feel like I was reading a sports autobiography. It felt as if I was reading a self-help book. It was a nice change of pace, though it sometimes affected the flow of the story. The book didn’t follow his life from childhood to World Series. It did a lot of jumping around as life lessons were learned and relearned over time. It was interesting to see how a challenge he faced once, often came up to face him again. It’s also strange reading this book now. The book concludes with the off-season following the 2007 Championship. The copy I read included an update for the 2008 season. Reading the book now, with Lowell on the DL, wishing he were traded somewhere else, and the Sox practically begging other teams to make that happen made me wonder. What would a new update look like? Would the tone of the book be any different? I also notice that the front cover includes a quote from Manny Ramirez, complimenting Mike on how hard he plays the game. The back cover has another quote from many, saying what a great teammate Mike was. So, there are five quotes on the covers of the book. Two of them are from a guy Mike helped run out of town the following season. Things change. This stands as a great read. After the mountains of books published covering the 2004 championship, it’s nice to read some talking about 2007. It’s definitely something to pick up. Even in 2010. Rating: 3 bases
Want the good news? Matsuzaka pitched a great game yesterday. Well, maybe it wasn’t a great game. But, the numbers looked fine when he was done. Yes, the five walks are maddening. I’ve gone over and over what I think of Daisuke’s performances. But, only giving up one run in six innings? I’ll take that every time. The bullpen is supposed to be able to take it from there. More often than not, the bullpen will. Lately? It just hasn’t.
More good news? Victor Martinez is on his way back to the line-up. They couldn’t wait much longer. Anytime you’re missing your #3 hitter, the offense is going to suffer. Even more good news? Jacoby Ellsbury is heading for a rehab assignment. They’re coming. They’re really coming.
So, what happens now? The Sox find themselves at an interesting point in the season. The trading deadline is less than a week away. The Sox are finally getting the players back that they expected to have all along. The standard comment is that the Sox are adding an MVP second baseman, an all-star catcher, and two all-star pitchers to the team at the deadline. Nobody else is adding that kind of talent. Is that enough? Apparently not.
The Sox need an arm in the bullpen. It’s that simple, and that complicated at the same time. Middle relievers are the most inconsistent breed of players I’ve ever seen. The obvious option is to nab another team’s closer. But, the teams with lights-out closers need them. Teams with mediocre closers want too much for them. Plus, there’s always the Gagne factor. Will an elite closer handle the switch to not closing? Billy Wagner did a fantastic job of that last season. But, he was coming off an injury, and was a slightly different case. So, other closers are probably off.
Another team’s middle reliever? That’s all that’s left. How do you find one of those? I have no idea. I’m glad it’s not my job. But, the Sox need at least one more solid arm in the pen. Last year, it was Bard-Wagner-Papelbon to victory. This year, that third guy is missing.
1990 Topps Batting Leaders
1 Wade Boggs
9 Jim Rice
1990 TOPPS TIFFANY
18 Carlos Quintana
38 Wes Gardner
70 Mike Greenwell
96 Jody Reed
123 Rich Gedman
155 Ellis Burks
188 Mike Smithson
206 Nick Esasky
245 Roger Clemens
268 Rob Murphy
303 Rick Cerone
321 Joe Morgan MG
338 Dennis Lamp
355 Marty Barrett
375 Dwight Evans
387 Wade Boggs AS
473 Joe Price
495 Lee Smith
529 Greg A. Harris
544 Dennis Boyd
573 Danny Heep
601 Luis Rivera
629 Eric Hetzel
652 Mike Boddicker
663 Fred Lynn TBC '75
676 Randy Kutcher
733 John Dopson
760 Wade Boggs
785 Jim Rice
1. Steve Barr
2. Bill Lee
3. Bob Didier
4. Dick McAuliffe
5. Terry Hughes
6. Roger Moret
7. Juan Beniquez
8. Diego Segui
9. Doug Griffin
10. Lance Clemons
11. Jim Rice
12. Juan marichal
13. Dick Drago
14. Carl Yastrzemski
15. Carlton Fisk
16. Bob Veale
17. Bernie Carbo
18. Fred Lynn
19. Reggie Cleveland
20. Luis Tiant
21. Deron Johnson
22. Mario Guerrero
23. Dick Pole
24. Tim Blackwell
25. John Kennedy
26. Tim McCarver
27. Chuck Goggin
28. Rico Petrocelli
29. Danny Cater
30. Rick Miller
31. Rick Burleson
32. Don Newhauser
33. Dwight Evans
34. Tommy Harper
35. Bob Montgomery
36. Cecil Cooper
Ok. Usually I like the west coast swing. I know there’s no chance of me actually staying up for the entire game, so I don’t even bother. Unlike, say, Kansas City where the games start an hour later than usual. I always convince myself that I’ll just catch the first few innings, but end up staying for the whole thing. Not on the west though. I just wait until the morning and catch the score. Except for last night. No, I didn’t stay up for the whole thing. But, I was able to catch the first six innings. I went to sleep with the Sox holding a good-sized lead, and Lackey working on a no-hitter. I woke up this morning, and saw that they won. Cool Just as I thought. But, then, wait a minute. 8-6? Really? How badly could Lackey have blown up? Wait, what? Lackey had a no-no into the eighth? And the Mariners scored six runs? My first thought was personal fear. My fantasy team has Lackey, Bard, and Papelbon on it. Obviously, those must have been the guys giving up all the runs. But, no. Apparently Manny Delcarmen forgot that he wasn’t on the DL anymore. I’m still not sure how it all played out. But, the Sox won, so I suppose that’s all that matters. Josh Becket makes his start for the Sox tonite. That officially means the entire starting five is just how it’s supposed to be. That’s a pretty wonderful thing to see. I looked at the “series at a glance” on line yesterday, and saw the starting pitching as Lackey-Beckett-Lester-Matsuzaka. It almost brought tears to my eyes. The Sox absolutely need to win this series, if not sweep it. These are the teams, even on the road, that you need to use to make some ground. They have the horses on the mound to do it. The offense will be getting people back soon. It’s time to make that push. Seven games is nothing when you have two months left. Just ask Mets fans.
Not too long ago, the fine author of Night Owl Cards posted a map on his blog. It showed all the states where he had sent trade packages. It was quite an impressive total, as he had colored most of the states in. I noticed, though, that my state was left blank. This looked like a challenge if I’d ever seen one. Night Owl is a Dodgers fan, which is perfect. I had many Dodgers cards that I had no use for. I quickly contacted him, and said I was willing to send him a package so he could add another state. Of course, since the states were colored in when a trade was made, he’d have to come up with something to make it legal. The “something” arrived the other day. It was quite a package.
There are a couple cards that stand out for me. The Bill Bucker is a great one. It is from the 1984 Topps Traded set. So, this was the card that resulted from Buckner coming to Boston. Two years later…game six. I also like the Eckersley card in the middle. Since Eck was such a great reliever, it’s hard to remember him not being a Hall-of-Fame closer. But, here he is on the Sox, before they shipped him off. The Gedman card is a nice one too. In 1984, the Donruss brands were a little harder to come by so I don’t have many in my collection. It’s always great to add another. In just this scan, there are three cards of Hall-of-Famers. That’s a nice package.
So, thank you Night Owl! If anyone has any Dodgers cards to trade, check out his site.
Once you decide that you’d like to collect Red Sox stuff, you notice one thing. There’s a LOT of it out there. Walk into just about any store, and you’ll see t-shirts, and mugs, and stickers, and ice cream looking out at you. It can get overwhelming. It can be nice to focus your collection a bit. I’ve been talking about different areas to focus on, newspapers, bobbleheads, tickets, etc. What if that’s not the direction you want to take? What if you like the variety of a collection that includes a little bit of everything? You can still trim the collection a bit, and add the variety if you collect a favorite player.
Of course, the main requirement of this is that you need to have a favorite player. I guess it could even be a group of players. Maybe the current pitching staff, or the 1984 team, or leftfielders. Then, the collection would involve anything out there featuring one of those players. Take, for instance, Pedro Martinez. If you wanted to collect his items, you could include: his baseball cards, magazines with him on the cover, matchbox cars, cereal boxes, salsa, bobbleheads, pictures, jerseys, autographs, and on and on. Jere, of A Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory, once commented that he liked Rich Gedman. A player of his ilk tends to limit the quantity of items out there, and makes it more about the chase. That’s a great thing too. A player collection can also be tailored to fit your budget, or space. Maybe you won’t get the Pedro autographed, game used, World Series jersey. But, you can still open it up to a lot of other items.
Really, the only drawback to the player collection is the player themselves. Imagine having a really complete Johnny Damon collection, and them have him leave for New York? Or, what about that expansive Roger Clemens collection? Can you even admit that you have that? The list of cautionary tales goes on and on. It might be a good idea to wait until a players career is over, and make sure he stay OK. Again, take Pedro. At this point, he’s done the worst he can do…bolted the team for the Mets. But, he’s still lovable, and should be a safe bet as his career winds down. He should be a fine choice to start a collection of. I’m sure there are many more. Or, you could just go for the player, and ignore any consequences. It’s all about being a fan.
I still wouldn’t mention that Clemens collection, though.
…before 40% of your starting rotation returns from the DL.
Yup. The Sox lost 3 of 4 over the weekend. Yup. They now trail the Yankees by 6.5 games. But is there any good news? Yup. Tons of it.
The most important good news is that there are still 11 weeks of the season left. The Sox still play the Yankees ten times this season. They still play the Rays six more times this season. More good news? The Sox expect to have Beckett and Buchholz back in their proper spots in the rotation when their turns come up. That’s a pretty big deal. Adding an ace and an all-star to the rotation makes everything fall back into place. Wakefield can go back to filling out the bullpen. The Sox don’t need a starter of the week to pitch in games. It just makes everything better. After that, Pedroia should be returning in a couple weeks. The offense is starting to show that they’re in over their heads. A collection of second stringers can only play like stars for so long. Eventually everyone remembers why they’re second stringers. It will be nice to have one more question mark removed from the batting order when Dustin shows his face. After that, the rest of the injuries should start healing themselves. Martinez and Ellsbury are huge pieces of the offense. Varitek is a very useful piece as a back-up. They’ve stayed within shouting distance waiting for reinforcements. You can’t ask for much more than that.
But, the Sox are getting more than that. The Yankees lost two starters over the weekend. Yup. Now it’s their turn. Sure, Burnett hasn’t been blowing the league away or anything. But, when you lose a starter, it naturally means that you need to put in someone who wasn’t already good enough to start. Pettitte was an all-star this year, and a key lefty on the staff. Missing him for a month could be a blow to the team. The Sox play the Yanks for four games in NY Aug 6-9. The Sox should have their full rotation. The Yanks won’t. That’s a nice advantage.
The trade deadline is only a couple weeks away. Plenty of time for the Sox to add a bullpen arm, and an outfielder. Things can only go up from here.
Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t know you’re making.
Not too long ago, I received a surprise package in the mail from Thoughts and Sox. It’s always nice getting the mystery package in the box. It’s like an added element of suspense when you start ripping into it. And, when I did, what did I find?
A bunch of older Sox cards from my wantlist! It was great. There were stars, nobodies, and everything in between. They were from one of my personal collecting dead zones in the early eighties. Look at a small sampling of what was sent.
I like the look of the 1980 set design. It’s clean and simple. It’s always nice to remember Fred Lynn as an all-star. He should have been one several more years with the Sox. I mostly remember Bob Montgomery as an announcer, so it’s always nice to see him on a player card. The 1981 design is a bit cutesie with the hat, but it works. Any time I can add a card of Dewey without a moustache, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Take a look at that “’81 Batting and Pitching Ldrs” card. What is with that picture of Lansford? Was that really the best headshot they had? Don’t they have professional photographers on the staff? The same guy must have taken the picture of Rice on the ’83 Topps card. I hope people didn’t use that picture when they were discussing how “clean” Rice’s career was.
It all added up to a great package. Thank you to Thoughts and Sox for adding some gems to my collection.
God bless the internet.
Players Included: Joe Morgan (mgr), Marty Barrett, Mike Boddicker, Wade Boggs, Dennis Boyd, Ellis Burks, Rick Cerone, Roger Clemens, John Dopson, Nick Esasky, Dwight Evans, Wes Gardner, Rich Gedman, Mike Greenwell, Greg Harris, Danny Heep, Eric Hetzel, Randy Kutcher, Dennis Lamp, Rob Murphy, Joe Price, Carlos Quintana, Jody Reed, Jim Rice, Luis Rivera, Lee Smith, Mike Smithson
Best Picture: Dwight Evans. I’m not positive what Evans is doing in this picture. My guess is that he’s trying to check his swing. So far, he has succeeded. The grimace on his face implies extreme effort. He’s not looking anywhere near where a ball would be, so I’m guessing it’s already behind him. He’s simply giving it everything he can to save a strike.
Hall of Famers: Wade Boggs, Jim Rice
Future Hall of Famers: Roger Clemens
Reason the buy the set: Unless you’re a die-hard Randy Kutcher fan, the main draw is going to be the trio of stars. Lee Smith adds another player worthy of adding to a collection.
Overall Reaction: In 1990, Topps once again went with a bolder design. The colorful broders certainly make a statement. It’s up to you to decide if the statement is, “Yippie!” or “Run for your lives!” I see no problem with the design. I like the way everything is displayed on the front of the card. It’s a solid, but by no means spectacular, set.
It’s once again time to inject some opposing viewpoints into this blog. Since the Texas Rangers will be visiting Friendly Fenway tonight, I contacted Texas Rangers Cards. I asked him to answer a couple questions for me since it’s a great Rangers blog. He, thankfully, agreed. I asked him the same questions I asked all my visiting fans. I wonder how the answers compare. Here’s what he had to say:
When did you start blogging? My first post was on January 15, 2008. I've tried to do six posts a week since. I take Sundays off.
What is the theme/goal of your blog? Collecting the Texas Rangers. I try to follow the current team and talk about past players while posting pictures of my Rangers collection. I try to showcase both cards and memorabilia but most of the posts end up being cards.
Which member/group of the Rangers are you most confident in? Michael Young is the first name that comes to mind. He seems to be a steadying influence with the younger players and a team-oriented guy. He also produces no matter what. If the Rangers had a captain I don't see how they could go with anyone other than him. Besides Michael I always like to see Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Vladimir Guerrero, and Elvis Andrus in the lineup.
Which member/group of the Rangers concerns you the most? The pitching. Always seems to be a weak area with Texas. The addition of Cliff Lee and Darren Oliver helps. Rich Harden has been about the disappointment I feared that he would be. Hopefully Feliz, Francisco, Lewis, and Wilson can all live up to their potential.
Which member of the Red Sox scares you the most? (Yes, you have to pick one) Kevin Youkilis. He's gonna hurt you day in and day out at the plate.
Which member of the Red Sox do you like the least? Don't really have an entry for this category now that Manny Ramirez is gone. There are very few players that I actively dislike but he is one of them.
What’s your prediction for the upcoming Red Sox/Rangers series? Going to go out on the edge here and say that the series will split 2-2. Perhaps I should go more after the series last year but it's hard to discount Fenway.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say the number “36”? Four more than Jon Matlack's number.
I hope these questions offer some insight into the Visitor’s Section. (If you have a question you wish I had asked, let me know. If I do this again with other visiting teams, maybe I’ll use it.) Thanks again to Texas Rangers Cardsfor helping me out. I wish the Rangers luck.
The announcers certainly knew. They couldn’t stop talking about it. Adam Wainwright gave a fist pump after getting out of an inning. Clearly, he wanted to win. The players were standing on the top step of the dugout watching the action. Clearly, they wanted to win. Players who were no longer in the game didn’t go back to the clubhouse. They stayed in the dugout. Clearly, they wanted to win. Apparently the only people who didn’t want to win, who didn’t remember that it counted, were the managers.
Almost as often as Buck and McCarver mentioned how much the game counted, they mentioned rules that needed to be put in place because the managers didn’t care. A starting catcher that was removed from the game could go back in to catch if the back-up catcher is injured. They mentioned how the American League had designated a player as eligible to return to the game if another player was injured. You know what would be easier than creating all these odd rules? Actually play the game as if it counted.
You know why they don’t have that rule about catchers in the regular season? Because managers don’t pull their starting catchers in the third inning on a whim. Because the games, even in April, count. Why on earth would Joe Mauer be on the bench? When the AL was trying to come back in the bottom of the ninth, they had the following players scheduled to appear…the back-up DH, the third string third baseman, and the back-up catcher. Huh? Can you imagine the outrage if Friday night the Yankees were trailing by two runs, but Girardi had elected to pull three starters so sent in three back-ups? In the critical ninth inning, he only had one player on the bench.
By the end of the night, I couldn’t name half the National League line-up. It was a joke. Fox had been promoting the game leading up to last night. I should tune in since I’d get to see great players like Pujols and Ichiro. They didn’t mention very often that I’d only get to see an at-bat or two of these great players.
Once again, my night was ruined by Yankees. Three of them, really. Phil Hughes lost the game. Joe Girardi had no idea how to manage. And former Yankee Joe Torre ruined the All-Star game by starting all this “rewarding” players, and getting everyone in the game garbage.
It was on this day in 1999 that the best all-star game of them all was played. OK. Maybe I’m a bit biased, but it was a pretty darn good game. The rosters were full of actual stars, which is always good. And, not just stars. That game had some truly elite talent. Now that it’s been more than ten years, we’re able to really evaluate just how good the players ended up being.
On the American League side, Pedro Martinez was the starting pitcher. What he did in this game was legendary, striking out five of the first six guys he faced. He’ll be on his way to the Hall-of-Fame. Probably on the first try. Catching him was Ivan Rodriguez. I-Rod might be the best combination of offense and defense the catching position has seen since Johnny Bench. Whispers of PED use would be the only thing stopping him from first ballot Hall-of-Fame election. On first is Jim Thome. With a bat in his hands, he’s about as good as it gets. He’s been slowly climbing his way up the all-time home run leaders list. He has a good shot at a spot in the Hall. Roberto Alomar was at second base. Most people consider it an outrage that he wasn’t elected to the Hall-of-Fame in his first ballot. He appears a shoe-in for election next year. Cal Ripken was the third baseman that year. Maybe you heard about him when he went to the Hall of Fame on his first try. Nomar Garciaparra was the starting shortstop. His career fell apart. But, his numbers as a shortstop are still pretty elevated. The outfield included Manny Ramirez and Ken Griffey Jr. Manny might be the best right-handed hitter ever, and on his way to the Hall. Junior was named to the all-century team later that year, and will waltz into the Hall-of-Fame. Could he be unanimous? Kenny Lofton rounded out the outfield. At DH was Rafael Palmiero. He was a borderline HOFer before the PDH era caught up with him. So, to recap. Ten starting positions. Six locks for the hall of Fame, if they’re not already in. Two more on the cusp. That’s amazing. How about this year?
It’s a little early to say, since much of the starting line-up is from the new comers. David Price is a toss-up at this point. Joe Mauer certainly looks like he’s well on his way. Miguel Cabrera will probably be borderline. Robinson Cano is at least the third best second baseman in the AL at the moment, let alone all time. Evan Longoria certainly has the potential for greatness. Derek Jeter will be in the Hall, whether he deserves it or not. Ichiro Suzuki might just make the Hall. All he does is hit singles, but people seem to like that. Carl Crawford is at least a borderline guy at the moment. Josh Hamilton is too old to get the kind of career numbers he’ll need to be great. David Ortiz won’t have the stats to get past the DH position. So, it tonight’s game, let’s say there are four or five guys who look like HOFers. Not bad, but not up to the ’99 standards. What a game that was.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the passing of George Steinbrenner. If I was a Yankee fan (shudder the thought) I can’t imagine not loving an owner who would throw money at the team all day and night in order to win. As a Red Sox fan, I can’t imagine a better villain on the other side.
That guy on the mound for the Red Sox yesterday. I didn’t recognize him. The box score says it was “Matsuzaka.” I wonder if he’s related to Daisuke Matsuzaka, the guy of 100 pitches. Maybe some distant cousin?
The Sox closed out the road trip by taking the series from Toronto. Now, obviously, a 2-4 road trip isn’t exactly something to get excited about. But, I really only ask for a .500 road trip, so they were only a game off of that. And, if you add in the rag-tag line-up they were using, I’ll take the 2-4. Hopefully the Sox can just keep things close until the Calvary comes back.
Unfortunately, that seems to get farther and farther away. Beckett made a rehab start, so that’s promising. All the broken bones look like they’ll take some time to heal, though. This being July, it makes you think about doing something at the deadline. Unfortunately, with injuries it’s not exactly that clear.
At the moment, the Sox are missing two starting pitchers. One might think it was a perfect time to get involved in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. And, that might have made some sense. The Sox don’t need long-term help. They could use the rental. Of course, that means one of the starters needs to go to the ‘pen once their all healthy. But, it would only be for a half season. Then, things would be back to normal next season. And, it would make for an entertaining rotation for the rest of the year. But, the price would have been too high for a rental that you hopefully wouldn’t need in August. (I know. You always need Cliff Lee.) So, it wasn’t all that bad that the Sox let him go to Texas. Another possibility would be a lesser tier pitcher. Someone that wouldn’t take a lot of prospects, but would be a nice fill in for a month or two, and you wouldn’t mind having as an extra part. Maybe a Ted Lilly type? But, it would appear that the injuries to the rotation will take care of themselves sooner than later. What about the line-up?
The big off-season talk was acquiring Adrian Gonzalez. His bat certainly would be useful in the middle of the line-up while the Sox are playing with spare parts. The problem? The only healthy guys the Sox have play his position. He could play first, or DH. They’re pretty well taken. He could play first, and move Youk to third. But, third is also pretty well taken. So, that would remove him from the equation. Unless, I suppose, you just trade for him now, and put Youk in left field once a week until Beltre leaves after this season. But, that’s probably not practical.
It’s also probably not practical to simply replace players who are hurt. Let’s pretend that the Rangers were willing to let Ian Kinsler go. You add him, and then have both Kinsler and Pedroia on the roster pretty soon. That’s overkill. So, you need to try for a lower tier guy again, as a fill-in. Well, the Sox already have one of those. How about catcher? That’s a better idea. If Joe Mauer were on the block, he could be brought it. Like Beltre, V-Mart could be gone after this season. You could figure something out once Victor comes back, and have his replacement moving forward. But, Joe Mauer isn’t available. And, the next best catcher is V-Mart. So, that’s not helping. I can’t think of an available catcher that’s an improvement over Cash. (Is I-Rod available?) So, that’s a no.
The outfield? That’s, maybe, where something could be done. Right now Ellsbury is still out. Cameron apparently is going to miss some time periodically with his sports hernia. So, an actual replacement might just work. I’ve heard the name Jayson Werth tossed around. Not a bad idea. Bring him in now while Ells is still down. Once everyone’s back, you assume he can find enough playing time subbing for Cameron and Drew to make it worth the rental. Not a bad idea…assuming the rental price is low enough. The Sox still have all their outfielder for another year. Another name I heard was Scott Podsednik. He’d be cheaper. That might not be a bad direction either. That’s my idea. Grab Podsednik for a prospect, and call it a deal. After all, the bullpen still needs some help. And bullpen arms often require overpayment.
The 2004 season started off with a lot of promise. It also started off with a lot of disappointment. The good news? The Sox had Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke. The bad news? They were without Nomar Garciaparra and Trot Nixon. How would that play out?
In the case of this scorecard, it would show in the line-up. Gabe Kapler got the call in right field. Pokey Reese was at shortstop. You can also see that, for some reason, Cesar Crespo was playing for Damon. I forget why Damon wasn’t playing. Another scorecard shows him leaving the game before early, and he didn’t play in the next game. So, that didn’t bode well for the Sox either.
Another thing not on the card didn’t bode well. The opposing pitcher was Roy Halladay. So, no Nixon, Nomar, or Damon and they have to face Doc. Was there anything good going on for the Sox? Yup. It’s found in the pitcher’s box. The Red Sox starting pitcher was Pedro Martinez. To start the year, some media members had demoted Pedro to co-ace, along with Schilling. Pedro needed to show us all something to prove that wasn’t the case. It looks like he did a pretty good job of that. He pitched into the eighth inning, and struck out seven batters. He had as many strikeouts as base runners. That has to be a good day. Even opposing Halladay, Pedro was able to pick up the victory. Foulke was able to show off a bit, picking up a save of more than one inning. It was pretty much exactly how the Sox drew it up.
How did the Sox score their runs? Thunder. Three home runs accounted for all the scoring. The Blue Jays run was a solo homer, so all the runs in the game scored off home runs. It’s also interesting to note that two players had two hits off Halladay. Once was Cesar Crespo. Pedro always had trouble with hitters like him. Sometimes, you make enough contact and balls fall in. The other player with two hits? Manny Ramirez. In that case, it was just Manny once again being able to hit the best pitcher’s best pitches. So, he managed two singles of Doc. Once a reliever came in? He launched the home run. Amazing.
So, the ace of the staff stayed true to form. The new closer showed exactly what he could do. The record setting offense picked up where it left off the year before, even against one of the best. The Sox bounced back from a lackluster home opener the day before. The team was well on its way to finally ending the championship drought.
There is a lot of talk this week about where free agents will end up. I know, they’re not baseball free agents, but it makes me think about baseball. Specifically, Mark Teixeira.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I found the press coverage and the decisions of Teixeira, and other similar free agents, interesting. Teixeira seemed to narrow things down to Washington and New York (and, maybe, Boston). There was a lot of discussion as to what kind of man Teixeira was. Was he a greedy money grabber? Did he want to win? In the end, Teixeira chased the rings, and went to New York. It wasn’t a unique decision. Since the mid nineties, free agents have been flocking to the Yankees. Many have even taken less money, just to get a chance to get a ring. People have hailed them as “winners” by hitching their star to a championship wagon. But, that’s not happening this week.
LeBron James has, of course, decided to reveal the team he will be playing for tonight. As the ESPN wheels get rolling there are several rumors as to what the results will finally be. Maybe it’s the Knicks, or the Heat, or the Nets. Maybe the Bulls or the Clippers. What you don’t hear are the Celtics or the Lakers. Why not? Wouldn’t that be the baseball way of doing things? Take the Celtics, for example. Rasheed Wallace retired, which frees up a mid-level exception or some other jumbled term from the NBA salary structure. I know it’s not “max money,” but it’s a bit, right? Why isn’t LeBron calling up Danny Ainge and saying he’ll take that slot. After all, he’s a winner, and he wants to win. So, obviously he’d take less money to join the defending Eastern Conference Champs. If he wins the next two NBA titles in a starting five of Rondo, Allen, LeBron, Pierce and Garnet wouldn’t his career be set? He’d be a winner. Bingo.
But, again, that’s not his style (I assume). I don’t expect him to be wearing a Celtics or Lakers jersey at the end of tonight. I’ve often said that the only thing I ever liked about Curt Schilling is that he came to Boston to make the difference. He didn’t go to a team that was already winning, and go along for the ride. He looked at a team and said, “I’m the difference maker. If I go there, they’re a contending team.” (Yeah, I know, Boston was pretty good before he came, but you get my point.) It looks like LeBron is doing the same thing. Other than the Heat who already added Chris Bosh to a team that was already playoff caliber, LeBron is considering himself the difference maker. He’s not riding on coattails. He’s going for it. I like it.
I just wish more baseball players made the same decision.
Not too long ago on the radio, the hosts were discussing old t-shirts. They were trying to decide who had the most outdated slogan on a t-shirt. It made me wonder…what’s the most outdated Red Sox shirt I have? Right away, I came up with two contenders. Since I can’t decide which is more out of date, I figured I’d share both of them with you.
The first one is titled “Red Sox Triple Threat” and proudly displays pictures of the players the Red Sox would use to win their games. Which three did they pick? Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, and Phil Plantier. The disturbing part is that it was Plantier that made me buy the shirt. I saw it from across the store, and instantly recognized that squatting batting stance. Really, at the time that wasn’t a bad trio. Boggs was a future Hall-of-Famer. Clemens was at the top of the league as a pitcher. Plantier was clearly an up and coming superstar. Since then? Boggs became a Yankee and rode a horse. Clemens jilted the Sox to move closer to Texas (you know, by moving north), and became a cheating disgrace to the game. Plantier was shipped off to the west coast in short order, and never came close to his projections. But, they were still a Triple Threat.
The other shirt I thought of I have worn more recently, so it probably should be the winner. It clearly states that the Red Sox fans should Believe. After all the Red Sox are armed and dangerous at Fenway Park. This would lead us to have 1993 pennant fever! Wait. 1993? Pennant fever? Let’s look at the records. The Sox finished 1993 at 80-82. Not exactly the record of a contender. In fact, the Sox finished in fifth place in the AL east, 23 games behind the leader. Yup. 23 games. So how did anyone think there should be pennant fever? Well around the all-star break that year the Sox went on a bit of a winning streak. The made up a few games rather quickly. Everyone had dreams of “Morgan Magic II” and got a little bit more excited than they should have. Cue the t-shirts.
So, those are my entries for most outdated Red Sox t-shirt. Does anyone else have any even better? Feel free to share your most outdated t-shirt with us. (keeping it PG would be nice) If you e-mail me a picture of you wearing the shirt, I’ll be sure to include it in a later post. And, for you non-Red Sox fans, you can play along too. What the most outdated t-shirt you have related to your favorite team?
I had asked someone not too long ago what the record was for most former all-stars on the DL with one team at once. It looks like I have to amend that question to what the record is for most current all-stars from one team on the DL at once. The Red Sox currently have three players slated to be in the all-star game in a week on the DL. That’s just an amazing number. Some teams don’t have three selections. The Sox have that many that they can’t use. Oh, and they have the second most wins in the majors.
I’ve discussed before my solution to the all-star selection process. This year, my solution would be especially relevant for one reason. It would have Stephen Strasburg on the all-star team. Does he deserve to be there? Under the current selection process, probably not. We could go back and forth on that for a while. But, in my solution he would be on the team, and not take away a slot from a more deserving player. It would be perfect. It’s the best way to reward deserving players, and let the fans see whichever players they want to see.
As for the Red Sox selections, not a bad group of players. Pedroia and Martinez were probably locks. It’s too bad that neither will be participating. It was nice to see Clay Buchholz get the nod. As someone who has stated that he should be in the bullpen, it’s still nice to see him rewarded for his fine start. Adrian Beltre was another easy choice. He’s been carrying the Red Sox all season. Jon Lester is well deserving as well. As the acting ace of the staff, he’s done all the Sox could ask for in the first half. As for the final member of the Red Sox party…raise your hand if you would have predicted it two months ago. Nobody? David Ortiz came back from nowhere to put together one heck of a first half. If you’re looking for reasons why the Sox have stayed near the top despite the injuries, he’s a big one. What a great thing to see.
Sox left off? Hopefully the Youkilis issue will be corrected on its own. It’s interesting that the clean-up hitter on one of the best teams in baseball needs to duke it out with Nick Swisher in a fan vote. Oh well. The Papelbon omission was surprising as well. Not that I’m going to argue he deserved a spot. But, I would have expected his name to be enough to get him in. Personally, I wouldn’t have a relief pitcher anywhere near the all-star game. But, that’s another story. Frankly, the way they use the pitchers during the games these days, it will be all relievers on the roster pretty soon. None of the teams will want their starters messing with their schedule to throw a couple innings…even if it “counts.” Pretty soon, all the starting pitchers will just ask out of the game, and you’ll have ten relievers on the roster. They’ll all go the inning they’re used to going, and everyone will be happy.