Monday, December 31, 2012

I Resolve!


Typically, the end of the year is a time for people to reflect on their life, and to make any changes they see the need for. Why do it for the first of the year? No particular reason. Although, I suppose, a July 2 Resolution doesn’t have the same ring to it. A New Year’s Resolution also has the added benefit of only occurring once a year. If you make a New Month Resolution, and fail after three days…you have some obligation to make the same resolution the next month. If you make a resolution on January 1, but flop by January 2, you can wait an entire year before you have to try and make yourself a better person. That’s a handy feature. People also find it nicer to write these resolutions down. Anything written down automatically has more weight. After all, if you take the time to type it out and share it with others, it must be important. Plus, anyone why knows about your resolution will obviously shun you if you don’t stick to it. If you make a resolution in silence, it’s pretty easy to ignore it. Of course, that presumes that anyone is listening, or cares enough to hold you to it. That’s probably not the case here. But, what else am I going to write about on December 31? The upcoming Winter Classic?

The first thing I want to do in 2013 is the same thing I wanted to do in 2012. It’s vague enough that I can both feel like I’ve accomplished it, and still feel like it needs work. It’s perfect. I want to remember to keep the delicate balance between quality and quantity with my posts. I understand that I don’t always have the time available to bring my A-Game. I also understand that it’s possible I don’t have an A-Game. But, if I only posted when I felt like I had written something worthy of a Pulitzer, you may never see another post from me. At the very least, you’d forget about this blog while you waited. Nor do I want to bore everyone with post after post that says nothing. I’m sure you’re thankful for that. So, I want to keep a schedule, without having to keep a schedule. Lately, it seems I’ve posted something at least every other day. That seems to work. If I have more than that to say, that’s cool. If I take three days between posts in order to not mail it in, that’s ok too. As long as I’m not feeling pressure from myself to post something, anything, just to post.

Another thing I say every year is that I want to increase my presence on the other blogs. You all have such wonderful things to say, and I like being a part of that. I also know that I like getting comments on my posts, so I assume that others do as well. I’d like to do my part.

For selfish reasons, I’d like to try to increase my readership. It’s not just that I like seeing the number of hits per day go up. Although, I do enjoy that. It’s also because I like it when everyone plays along with the blog. More readers means more chances of readers doing just that. Not only is it easier for me if people submit things for me to post, but I actually enjoy seeing copies of other people’s scorecards or pictures they took in Section 36. The fact that they help me come up with post ideas is just a little side benefit. I don’t know what increasing my readership involves. It probably just means writing better stuff. So, I’ll try to do that. After all, just getting the name of the blog out there is useless if people come and visit, only to find mindless dribble. (Not that I’d mind it if you liked my facebook page, or followed me on twitter. Can’t hurt.)

I also want to try and trade more. I’ve mentioned before that I have tried buying complete sets, as opposed to boxes of packs. That certainly gives my plenty of things to offer. My only problem is that I tend to dislike the back and forth of trades. The offer, the counter, the counter-counter. But, I’ll try to get over it. After all, making more trades will probably help me with the other three resolutions. So, that’s worth putting the effort into it.

So, there we go. Things I want to try and do in the coming year. If you care, feel free to try and keep me honest. Mocking comments if I’m going astray are encouraged. Or, help me out by contributing to the last two resolutions. Or both. Or, ignore it all completely. Your call.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

He Scored!


Aug 13, 1973

A while ago, I was given a 1973 Red Sox magazine/scorecard. I love getting these old magazines. This one was especially interesting because 1973 was the first year of the designated hitter. The magazine is full of articles or comments about this new rule. There’s also an ad in the magazine promoting the new burger at McDonald's, the quarter-pounder with cheese. Great stuff. Of course, I was absolutely thrilled to discover that the magazine included a (almost) completed scorecard! What better way to dip back into history than looking at an old scorecard? Let’s have a peek, shall we?



The first thing I notice is that it’s a bit sloppy. That’s certainly not a bad thing. Keeping score in a magazine on your knee isn’t the easiest thing in the world. I think it adds to the charm, and the authenticity. This wasn’t scored at home on a kitchen table. Clearly, this person was in the stands watching the game. Fantastic. The other reason the sloppiness is less annoying is that this is a team issued scorecard. They were nice enough to print the Red Sox roster right on the side. (The card also has the rosters for the Oakland A’s on the side of their card. A nice touch.) So, the fact that I can’t quite make out the name of the second batter isn’t a problem. Looking at the list, it’s obviously Aparicio. Even the eighth batter, who sure looks like “Orittin” can clearly be read as “Griffin” thanks to the list. Once you decipher them, just look at those names. Aparicio, Yaz, Cepeda, and Fisk would all end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Harper would wind up in the Red Sox Hall. Not a bad game at all. That’s just the Red Sox side. This was the Reggie Jackson led Athletics, after all. So the HOF count only increases if you look at both teams.

What about the scoring itself? I have to admit that I can’t quite figure it all out. I can make it through the first inning. Harper walks, and steals second.  Aparicio’s groundout to second moves Harper to third. Yaz grounds another one to second, who oddly decides to come home with it in order to get Harper at the plate. Was the infield in? In the bottom of the first? Was that just the way they did it back then? In any event, Cepeda followed with a strikeout to end the frame. Simple enough. During the second inning, things get a little tricky. Cater singles, but somehow makes an out. There appears to be an “nb” notation. Not sure what that means. I should probably try to find a game log, and figure out what exactly Cater did in the second inning. The game follows smoothly from there. An odd scoring mark here and there, but otherwise a nice card.

The player of the game? In this low scoring affair, I’m going with Tommy Harper. He got on base three times, and stole two bases. Can’t think of anything else you would want from your table setter. The goat? Well, there were a few players who failed to reach base on the day. In fact, the whole bottom of the order spent the day off the bases. But, I have to give it to Fisk. The reigning unanimous Rookie of the Year went 0-3. Worse than that, he had a chance to at least tie the game in the sixth. With runners on second and third, and only one out, he grounded the ball to third. The runners had to hold. The Sox, trailing 2-1 at the time, didn’t score in the inning.

That might have been the difference. Though the scorecard doesn’t show it, the Sox ended up losing the game 3-1. The lack of production from the bottom of the order was too much to overcome.

And the scorecard shows how it happened…for the most part.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shipping Up To Boston


So, the Red Sox made another confusing move yesterday. Add another one to the list.

On the surface, it’s a reasonable move. The Sox traded for an all-star closer and a prospect by giving up a set-up guy and a couple prospects. Makes sense to me. The Sox even went to their stock explanation that they weren’t trading for a closer. Much like when they signed Keith Foulke, they simply traded for an elite pitcher. This pitcher just happened to be a closer. Not a bad thing to do at all.

I had the opportunity to see Joel Hanrahan pitch live a couple years ago. When I was at PNC Park, he came in to close out the game. When he entered the game, there was an energy in the crowd. That’s saying something considering the sparse crowd at PNC. If he was good enough to ignite those fans, that was pretty impressive. So, it’s not that I disapprove of the move. The real question is, why?

When I talked about the Drew deal, I questioned the motive. Why would a team in a rebuilding phase sign a middle of the road shortstop to a one-year, $10 million deal? If you’re going to lose a bunch of games anyway, there are cheaper options out there. Was it simply to appease the fans? Look, we have honest to goodness major league talent at every position…come buy tickets! Or, do the Sox actually think they can compete in 2013? Did they fix the most glaring hole in their line-up in order to make a run?

This move confuses me in the same way…but to a larger degree. It’s one thing to admit that Jose Iglesias isn’t ready. They actually needed a body of some sort to play shortstop. You could argue that paying too much for Drew to make the team at least worth watching wasn’t a terrible move. But, what about this one? The Sox have a closer. Heck, the Sox have at least three closers. The Sox even already had a two-time all-star closer. What did they need another one for? Why did they need another one when he is about to make actual money? Why did they need another one when he is going to be a free agent after a year? Why rent an extra closer?

Are they planning on making a run?

This addition does make a pretty good bullpen. Are they planning on having that compensate for inferior starting pitching? The line-up they’ve been putting together isn’t terrible. They won’t lead the league in runs, but they’ll be middle of the pack. That might make for an interesting team, except for the lack of dominant starting pitching. Are the Sox planning on having the bullpen cover for that?

In 2009, the Sox acquired Billy Wagner. It made for an great bullpen. I don’t remember all the players, but the Sox really had two different sets of top bullpens. It was fun to watch. Is that where the Sox are going this year? Say Lester goes six solid innings. Then, the Sox can follow with one inning each from Aceves, Bailey, and Hanrahan. The next night, Buchholz also only goes six innings. They Sox can then use one inning each from a rested Bard, Miller, and Uehara. The night after that, Lackey only goes six. Well, Aceves, Uehara, and Hanrahan are rested and ready to go. If, perchance, a starter can actually go seven innings, one of the pen guys gets some extra rest. If a starter only goes four or five? Morales is there to mop up.

Suddenly, you don’t need any aces. You need decent starters. A quality start is plenty, even with a moderate offense. Is that the plan?

Could it actually work?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Wantlist


I’m sure you’ve all been wondering when I was going to post my 2012 Red Sox wantlist. Ok. None of you even noticed that I didn’t do it, did you? Well, I’m giving it to you now anyway. Ready? Here we go.

Topps Family of  Products
            Any Red Sox inserts
            Any Red Sox SP

There. That was quick and painless. What’s with the short list this year? I tried something new in 2012. I’ve mentioned before that I have been attempting to make my collection self-sufficient. So, I purchase blasters. I keep the Red Sox, and sell the rest (that I can). Use the money to buy a blaster. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. As you can imagine, I wasn’t getting the turnaround on a blaster I would like. From one blaster, I’d get a couple Red Sox cards, and a handful of cards I could resell. I started to realize that if I bought complete sets, and break them up, I could do better. The entire 2012 Topps set didn’t cost much more than a blaster. Then, I would get the entire Red Sox team set in one shot. I would also get a pile of stars that could be flipped. It was great. The only drawback? (other than it not being quite as much fun?) I only got the base cards. So, I’m still missing any sort of insert or short printed card from these sets. I think it’s still worthwhile to go with this route…for the time being. It just means I need your help.

I’m assuming that with the number of SP and inserts out there, I don’t really need to specify which ones I don’t have. Odds are that it will take a while before somebody sent me a duplicate. Besides, I’m not even sure I know the names of all the insert sets out there, or which Red Sox cards are short printed. So, I’ll just take what I can get and go from there.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

Monday, December 24, 2012

List of 36: Things I Wouldn’t Mind Seeing Under the Tree on Christmas



1. 1934 Diamond Stars Lefty Grove
2. 2013 Fenway Park calendar
3. Brick from Fenway Park
4. Ted Williams autographed “All-Century Team” panoramic photo
5. Kevin Millar autographed 2004 WS Ball
6. LFC Ball
7. 1914 Cracker Jacks Harry Hooper
8. 11x14 photo of Pedro at 1999 ASG
9. Red Sox Coffee Mug
10. 1999 All-Star Game ball signed by Pedro Martinez
11. Ball signed by Garciaparra, Meintkiewicz, and Saltalamacchia
12. 1912 T207 Duffey Lewis
13. Alan Embree Autographed 2004 WS Ball
14. Pedro Martinez Starting Line-up Figure
15. Fenway 100 Seasons Tervis Cup
16. Red Sox Trash Can
17. Kelly Clarkson autographed 2004 WS ball
18. Fenway Park Dirt
19. 1914 Cracker Jacks Joe Wood
20. Red Sox Mousepad
21. Keith Foulke Autographed 2004 WS Ball
22. Josh Beckett Replica Home Jersey
23. Will Middlebrooks Jersey-T
24. Grady Little Bobblearm
25. Millar/Youkilis “The Streak” bobblehead
26. Fenway 100 Seasons Game Hat
27. 1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemski
28. Gabe Kapler Autographed 2004 WS Ball
29. 1999 ASG Press Pin
30. 2004 WS LR Used Champagne Bottle
31. Game used Gatorade Towel from 2004 World Series
32. 2010 Winter Classic puck
33. Pedro Autographed GU Welch’s Toast Bottle
34. 1952 Topps Johnny Pesky
35. Pokey Reese Autographed 2004 WS Ball
36. Baseball Display Case

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Red Sox 1-36: 18 is for…

18 wins by Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008

You forgot about that, didn’t you? You completely erased Dice-K’s 2008 season from your memories. But, that’s too bad. Maddening Matsuzaka went 18-3 that year. That’s pretty impressive.

Or is it? Basically, this season is the perfect analogy for who Dice-K is as a pitcher. Yes, he got 18 wins. But, we all know that wins mean very little when it comes to pitching ability. What about some other numbers? He had a 2.90 ERA that year, third in the league. But, he only threw 167.2 innings. He led the league by holding batters to a .211 average. But, he walked a league leading 94 batters. He didn’t give up a hit all year with the bases loaded. But, he loaded the bases fourteen times that year. What did all that mean?

I’ve always thought that Dice-K was very honest with himself when it came to facing batters. He knew which hitters he could get out, and which ones he couldn’t. He didn’t mind base runners. He knew that having people on base didn’t matter in the least if he struck out the next guy to end the inning. It looked like he knew that there were three or four guys in every line-up he knew he’d have trouble with. He also knew there were three or four guys he had no problem with. So, like any decent pitcher, he would pitch carefully to those he had trouble with so he could attack those he didn’t. So what if you walk three guys to load the bases if the next three strike out? It was like every batter he faced was either Manny Ramirez, or Jose Iglesias. Any pitcher would pitch carefully to Manny. Don’t give him a pitch to hit. If he makes an out hitting a bad pitch, great. If he takes the walk, that’s fine too. If Manny was followed by Iglesias in the line-up every day, Manny would be walked plenty of times by every pitcher. That was Dice-K.

Now, he ended up throwing plenty of pitches doing that. Which is why he only threw the 167 innings. But, did that come from the American way of handling him? Looking at his numbers in Japan, he certainly walked his fair share, and threw plenty of pitches. Remember the legendary high school game where he threw 250 pitches? Even in 17 innings, that’s a ton of pitches. Nobody worried about that then.

So, wrap that all together and what do you get? 18 wins for the Sox during the season. It may have been annoying to watch. But, was it all done with a plan?

18 is for 18 wins from Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Collecting the Sox: Calendars


I couldn’t help but chuckle the other day when I saw that the 2013 Red Sox calendar was on sale. How did they print that, I laughed to myself. How did they find twelve players they knew would be on the team in time to print a calendar? I had to go see how they did it.

Turns out, they didn’t do it. As I glanced at the featured players, I saw Mike Aviles smiling back at me. OK. He was a relatively recent change. They can’t be expected to be that on top of things. Then, I saw Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez staring at me from their own months.

So, that’s how they did it. They just went with players not on the team anymore. I guess it was a better idea than giving Daniel Nava a month. I’d probably rather be reminded that A-Gone was once on the team than remember that Pedro Ciriaco still is. I wonder if any of them made the Dodgers team calendar too.

I’ll probably still buy the Red Sox one though. Why? Because I have a problem. I collect things. To be fair, a calendar is a bit of a different collectable. It actually has a useful purpose. They aren’t baseball cards, whose only purpose appears to be filling up binders. They’re not bobbleheads, whose only purpose is to clutter up a shelf. I actually need a calendar so I know what day it is. You know, in case I really need to know what day it is when I’m not near a computer, or cell phone, or tablet.

OK. Maybe saying I need one is overstepping a bit. But, it actually is useful. It hangs on the wall by my desk, and gives me what I need in one quick glance. Once it’s been up there for a year, I can either throw it away or store it in a cabinet. The choice seems pretty obvious to me. Plus, since I don’t really “need” one I can wait out deals. I don’t need to buy a calendar in December. I am perfectly happy to muddle through for a couple weeks in order to get one on clearance. So, it’s not that pathetic.

And, as collectables go, calendars are nice ones. They have a major downfall, which they share with many collectables. What do I do with them? They’re pretty big, so it’s not like I can have 20 of them hanging on the walls. Plus, having out of date calendars out in the open just seems like asking for trouble. But, right now I don’t mind keeping them stacked in a pile, and only flipping through them once in a while.

For that purpose, they’re great. They’re colorful. The wall versions have nice big pictures of Red Sox players. Some of them are fun. I have one that was given away to help support animals. Each month has a picture of a Red Sox player and their dog(s). How great is that? Plus, there’s the historical aspect of them. I can flip through the 2003 edition, and see some of the players who were on the team that year. Or, at least the year before. That’s pretty neat.

They also have the page-a-day versions. Admittedly, they don’t seem to be as collectable. However, I did save every page for a year once. I have all the pages in a plastic bad. Have no idea what I plan on doing with them. Maybe wallpaper the room?

What else should I do with them?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Conclusions I Drew


I’ve got nothing.

I swear, every time the Sox make a move this off-season, I get more confused.

The Sox apparently decided that they couldn’t afford a light-hitting shortstop for a year. So, they signed a veteran to come in and fill the spot until Iglesias is ready. That makes perfect sense. Some people might say that stellar defense makes up for a lack of production. But, since Drew is apparently above average in the field, that’s not such a big difference. The only confusion with the move comes from the first sentence of this paragraph. It’s incomplete.

You can’t afford a light-hitting shortstop for a year…if you intend on competing. If you’re going through a rebuilding year waiting for this en masse arrival of the prospects, you can have a year of a weak shortstop. You can lose 100 games no matter who you have at short. So, why would you sign a guy for almost $10 million? It’s a complete waste of money…unless you think you’ll compete.

Can the Red Sox compete? With this line-up? They could. If every member of the line-up, rotation, and bullpen matches the best year they’ve had since 2010, the Sox will win 100 games. I’m not really holding my breath. But, this line-up could be sneaky good. Without Iglesias, there isn’t an obvious hole. Nobody scares you…but nobody’s easy either. They might not be terrible.

But, here’s the problem. If the Sox wanted to compete in 2013…what’s with the other moves? Why trade away Crawford and Gonzalez last season? Why sign Victorino and Napoli instead of Hamilton, or Greinke, or Haren, or Sanchez? Why have they been overpaying for mediocrity if they want to win in 2013? (Assuming that there’s ever a reason to overpay for mediocrity.)

So, they can’t possibly expect to win in 2013. Then why sign Drew?

Is anyone else getting dizzy?

Does this mean a trade is in the works? Is Iglesias gone? Is Drew really filling the hole to get to Bogaerts? Is Bogaerts gone? Is Drew holding the spot for Iglesias after all, but the Sox don’t want to rush the shortstop of the future?

Do you need to pay a placeholder $10 million?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Card of the Week




1988 Topps Red Sox Team Leaders

If you have a Wade Boggs player collection, does this card belong in it?

Long ago, card companies realized that stars drove their products. The more chances they had to put stars on cards, the better. Leader cards were a great way to do it. Not only did it allow them to fill an extra star card for each team, but it actually served a purpose. Sure, they could put Boggs in a “Hit Kings” or “Superstar” subset. But, that’s really just another card. But, to make a card listing the leaders at different categories for each team is actually useful.

The design for this card is interesting. Especially when contrasted with the 1988 base cards. Those cards I always liked because the team name floated over the picture, and was even obscured by some of the detail in the photo. The player name similarly wrapped itself around the photo without getting too much in the way. For the leader cards, Topps went in the complete opposite direction. They created the cloud look, that completely obscured the edges of the photo. I can’t quite decide if it works, or not. But, it’s definitely one way to go.

The photo is a nice way to grab a couple Red Sox in one shot. It’s not the world’s most exciting action photo. But, neither is it a corny posed shot. For some reason, it works for me. I’d try and stump Jere and ask him when the picture was taken, but I’ve learned my lesson.

Overall, it’s a nice looking card.

But, is it a Boggs card?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I’m Not Sensing a Plan Here


The Red Sox continue to baffle me with their off-season moves. I keep assuming that they’ll make a move that makes sense of all their crappy moves. Something like, “Oh, they saved money on a first baseman so they could sign Josh Hamilton.” Or, “Oh, they saved money in the outfield because they traded for Giancarlo Stanton.” But, they keep filling up their roster, without adding any talent. So far, they’ve done nothing with that fantastic financial flexibility but save money.

They traded away Adrian Gonzalez, and replaced him with Mike Napoli. Anyone think Mike Napoli has more talent than AGone? Didn’t think so. In fact, Napoli is coming off a terrible year. We’ve been told that that was a fluke. We just need to assume that he’ll return to the numbers he put up during his career year a couple seasons ago. If we’re allowed to do that for Napoli, why doesn’t Gonzalez get the same option? Wouldn’t it be more likely that Gonzalez returns to the numbers he put up for an entire career as opposed to the ones Napoli did once?

They traded away Carl Crawford, and brought in Shane Victorino. Again, Victorino had a terrible year last year. But, we’re supposed to hope that he can return to the numbers he put up a couple years ago. Sound familiar? So, we can assume that Victorino will put up numbers like he used to, but we can’t assume that Crawford will return to form? Even though Crawford’s numbers were much better than Victorino ever had, and he did it for a lot longer than Victorino did? What am I missing here?

You want to tell me that Beckett and Dempster are a wash? Fine. You’d be wrong…but at least you can make an argument that it was worth saving the money. I’d still rather have Beckett who has shown that he can pitch in the AL, as opposed to Dempster who has shown he can’t.

But, that’s not even the real issue. Like I said, if you want to sign lesser players to save money, that’s fine…as long as you use the money for something. The Sox saved, what, $25 million by making those three changes? But, they filled up all their roster spots in the process. If they had used that $25 million on Josh Hamilton, for instance, that would have been one thing. But, they didn’t. They’re just making the team worse, and pocketing the money?

And, you can’t even say they Sox are bridging to the kids. They’ve clogged up all their spots with mediocre talent. The Sox have two shortstop prospects. They can only use one of them. The Sox have Ryan Lavarnway, a top catching prospect…who’s probably more of a first baseman. Too bad. They’ve got Naploi clogging first base for at least the next two years. What about Kalish and Bradley? They’re stars in the wings. Well, they have Victorino now for three years. Does this mean Ellsbury is definitely gone next year? Or, are they going to use the $25 million they saved on him? If they do, they don’t have a spot left for two kids. What about those pitchers they got from LA? Sorry, the rotation is set for the next two years.

Maybe they can use the kids as trade chips? That’s the whole point of having prospects in the first place. So you can trade them away before they become busts. So, you package Lavarnway, Bradley, and Bogaerts together and shop them around. What are you trading for? A first baseman? Then what do you do with Napoli? Can’t trade him. A second baseman? Nope. Shortstop? Not if Iglesias is the real deal. Third baseman? Nope. Clogged up, hopefully. Pitchers? Then you have to move one of the ones you have.

So, I don’t get it at all.

What was the point of making us watch a less talented team?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Three Years of Josh Hamilton


That’s what people wanted. They didn’t want a long deal. Those are always anchors to the teams. Sign everybody for short years, even if it’s for a bit more money a year. What were the Angels thinking? Hamilton won’t be worth that much money in five years.

I’m guessing that the Angels were thinking, “Now we actually have Hamilton”

People always talk about “bad contracts.” Those last few years of a long-term deal, the teams are always overpaying the player. Maybe. But, overpaying is overrated. Let’s look at some recent bad contracts. How about Barry Zito? Terrible contract. People said that at the time. People have said it for a long time. And, Zito probably is overpaid. The Giants overpaid Zito as he led them to their second World Series championship in three years. Where’s the problem? Would they have been better off without Zito on the team? Not sure I you can say they would. Why was the contract so bad?

What about the worst contract in the history of sports? The Alex Rodriguez extension? ARod is tremendously overpaid. Can’t really deny that. But, let’s say the Yankees were smarter than they were, and signed him for a shorter deal. What if their deal with him ended after last season? What would the Yankees do differently now? If he were healthy, wouldn’t ARod be the best third base option available? He’d be at least as good as Kevin Youkilis, right? Really, wouldn’t the Yankees have been smart to sign ARod to an extension last season just to make sure they didn’t have to settle for Youk or Mark Reynolds? With their long contract, don’t the Yankees avoid that problem?

I know, if he were healthy. But, as Carl Crawford showed us, players can get hurt during the second year of a contract too. Heck, Ellsbury showed us that a player can miss two seasons due to injury before they even reach free agency. So, injuries can hit during a contract of any length. Think Victorino won’t get hurt because it’s only a three year deal?

Speaking of Crawford, didn’t he and Gonzalez just illustrate the problem perfectly?

In essence, the Sox just did with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford what people want them to do with other free agents. They had them for two years, and now don’t have to worry about overpaying them three years from now. But, what did that do for them? Imagine that Gonzalez instead of agreeing to big money actually accepted a two-year deal, and now signed with the Dodgers. Now the Sox are stuck with Mike Napoli at first? They wouldn’t be better off with Gonzalez there? Or, what about Crawford? If the Sox signed him to a two-year deal, and now he signed as a free agent in LA. The Sox had to replace him with Johnny Gomes? This is the sound strategy of building a team?

The people who complain about bad contracts get too worked up in the money. It’s not like these players with bad deal become terrible. They almost all end up being decent players at the end of their contracts. Probably not the superstars they were when they first signed. But, at least as good as the available replacements. It’s not like the Yanks are missing out on Longoria because they’re stuck with the ARod contract.

It’s all about your other options.

Now, I understand payrolls. Some teams can afford to pay $25 million to an average third baseman. That’s a revenue problem that is better saved for another day. But, some teams can. If they can, why don’t they? Otherwise, they end up in the same mess the Sox are in. Plenty of mythical financial flexibility…nobody to use it on. How does that help a team?

If you want good players, you need to pay them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Red Sox Should Sign Dice-K


What if the gave him one year, and gave him full control of his pitching?

I’ve mentioned something similar to this before. I thought it was worth trying when he just had a year or two left on his deal. Now, I think it’s an even better idea.

Basically, Daisuke Matsuzaka was a legend in Japan. Probably still is. He was a superstar that had done everything he could before coming to the United States. When he was first joining the Red Sox, there were few questions about what he would become. The only ones that were out there, though, related to the transition to the American game. How would he handle a five-man rotation? He’s used to throwing a lot more between starts than major league pitchers do. He’s not used to being taken out of games after just a little trouble. How will that all work?

It doesn’t look like it worked all that well. The Red Sox tried to turn him into and American starter, and destroyed what they had. Before his rookie season, SI ran an article on him. In it the author mentioned that all pitchers have shoulder trouble that shows up in an MRI. It’s just what happens. Pitchers can pitch long times with terrible looking MRI’s. Not Dice-K, though. Despite the ton of pitches he threw in Japan, his MRI was clean as a whistle. Then, four years into his American career, he needs Tommy John surgery? Maybe he was doing something that worked for him. Maybe he was doing lots of things that worked for him. Maybe they should let him try it again.

So, sign him for one year. He can’t make that much, right? He was only making seven or eight million a year with the Sox. That’s the going rate for a platoon left fielder. So, sign him. Then, give him free reign. If he thinks it’s better to only pitch every six days, let him. The rotation can work around it. If he can pitch better knowing he won’t have a quick hook, don’t give him one. Tell him he’s pitching seven innings, and exactly seven innings, in every start. It’s up to him to make it seven innings. If he throws 70 pitches, good for him. If he throws 170, he’ll be tired. But, he’s pitching seven. If he wants to throw 100 pitches on his off day, let him. If he wants to run seventeen miles the day of his start, let him. See what happens.

Maybe he’ll crash and burn. Maybe the Sox will lose almost all of his starts. Thank goodness he’ll just be the fifth starter. The Sox lose most of those starts anyway. Chances are, he’ll win a few just by luck anyway.

But maybe, just maybe, he’ll respond to the familiarity. Maybe he’ll be the Daisuke he could be.

Wouldn’t that be worth the risk?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

WikiPedro



A few days ago, I was trying to remember when Pedro Martinez was traded to the Red Sox. From the google search, I landed on his Wikipedia page. What a fantastic read that was!

I don’t want to say I forgot how good Pedro was. It’s impossible to have seen him pitch, and not remember how good he was. But, it was eye opening to see it all in print again. I know you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, but the relaying of his statistics was enough for me.

One of my favorite stats related to his ERA in 2000. His ERA that year was 1.74, to lead the league. In second place that year was Roger Clemens, and his 3.70 ERA. So, Pedro’s ERA was less than half of his nearest competitor. That’s not even my favorite part. The difference between the ERAs of Pedro and Roger that year was 1.96. If you add 1.96 to Roger’s 3.70, you get 5.66. An ERA of 5.66 would rank you somewhere in the mid-thirties on the AL ERA league leaders. So, the difference between #1 and #2 was the same as the difference between #2 and #32. And, that’s not even my favorite part. You see, in 2000 Pedro gave up 128 hits in his 217 innings. That works out to giving up 5.31 hits per nine innings. 5.31 HITS per nine innings. The #36 person in ERA gave up more than 5.31 RUNS per nine innings. The difference between the number of runs Pedro gave up per nine innings, and the number of runs Clemens gave up per nine innings is more than the difference between the number of runs Clemens gave up per nine innings and the number of hits Pedro gave up per nine innings. A 5.31 ERA would be lower than the team ERA of any AL team in 2000.

That’s my favorite part.

It was just so unfair.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Two Months Left!

The prize

That’s right, there are only two months remaining in the 2012 Section 36 Scavenger Hunt!

The bad news? More than a month of the contest has already passed by. The good news? It’s not nearly too late. You still have two full months to get out and find the items. You still have two months to take pictures and send them in to me. You still have time!

You don’t have to wait to send in all your pictures at once. Send them in as soon as you get them to make sure you don’t forget! Hate to have you miss out on a great book, and some great cards, just because you didn’t want to send me more than one e-mail.

Don’t feel overwhelmed. A good chunk of the items should be easy for anyone reading this blog to locate. A strong entry won’t take you months to put together. Frankly, I bet most of you have a good portion of these items sitting in your house as you read this. Take a winter afternoon and pull them out for a picture. If you’ve ever been to Fenway Park, you probably already have pictures of some of the items. You’re already well on your way.

Find those items!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Is This a Plan?


The Sox have finally signed enough players to form a starting line-up. With the addition of Shane Victorino, I can finally start thinking about possible line-ups for 2013. Unlike past years, this one is fairly easy to put together.

Ellsbury
Victorino
Pedroia
Ortiz
Napoli
Middlebrooks
Gomes
Saltalamacchia
Iglesias

Or, something along those lines. In honesty, that’s not a terrible line-up. It’s probably not good enough to cover up for poor pitching like the last couple editions have been able to. It’s a place to start.

But, is it a plan? For the second day in a row, the Sox have overpaid for a decent player on a three-year deal. Unlike the Napoli deal, though, signing Victorino doesn’t present a serious downgrade from where the Sox were last year. Replacing Ross with Victorino (if that’s what happens) changes the skill set, but probably not the level of talent. With that in mind, I don’t have as much of a problem with this signing as I did Napoli. But, what about the plan?

Are these fillers? The short contracts would certainly suggest that. Are they just here to kill time until the youngsters are ready? If that’s the case, why overpay for them? Just take whichever player takes the bait, lose your 100 games, and get ready for 2014. Do the Sox think this is a team that can compete? If that’s the plan, why didn’t they sign better players? Hamilton, for instance. Or, keep the better players they already had?

I’m still afraid that they’re trying to fool us into thinking the team can compete. “Look everyone. We’re spending all that money we have. We have a top payroll. That must mean we’re good. Come watch us!”

I don’t know what to make of all of this.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How Many Catchers Does One Team Need?


I’ve been waiting. I’ve been wondering. I’ve been patient.

Now, I’m confused.

What’s the plan? What are the Red Sox trying to do? What do they hope to become? Are they rebuilding? Are they going for it? Are they waiting?

The Red Sox traded away a ton of money last season. It was to gain this mystical financial flexibility people talked about. I’ve wondered all along what they planned to do with all this flexibility. Especially given that this year’s free agent class was terribly weak. There was no Carl Crawford out there that teams needed to clear budget room for. There was no Cliff Lee that clearly would demand nine figures. Where was the money going to go?

Were they even interested in spending it? Was 2013 supposed to be a wash year. Lose another 100 games, and be ready when all the kids evolve together in 2014. They’d have to, of course, ignore the fact that this plan never works. But, at least it would be a plan. The overpaying of Papi seemed to support this plan. Sure, it was a lot of money. Sure they paid for past performance. But, it was something for the fans to hold onto during the down times. At least Papi would still be there to enjoy.

Then came the Napoli deal. Talk about overpaying. And, what’s the point? Is Napoli going to bring fans to Fenway during a bad season? Not likely. Is he a stud first baseman that the Sox couldn’t wait on? Not even close. He’s probably the best first baseman out there, at the moment. But, that’s not important unless you’re trying to win now. However, if you’re trying to win now, why not just keep the first baseman you already had who is much better than Napoli?

I’ve been waiting on a plan. I didn’t get a plan.

I got scared.

Maybe this front office really is clueless? Maybe they don’t know what they’re doing from one day to another. Are they just trying to pay the team enough money that fans can’t yell at them when they lose? If they have one of the highest payrolls, we’ll assume they were actually trying?

There better be a big shoe that drops because of this. Hopefully we’ll find out that Josh Hamilton adores Mike Napoli, and will follow him wherever he goes, no questions asked. Or, we’ll find out that Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the apple of Washington’s eye and the key piece to trading for Gio Gonzalez. Because without that, I don’t know what to think.

Other than the fact that I’m terrified.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I Scored!


August 19, 2000



There is just so much good stuff going on with this scorecard. But, I’ll start with the pitcher’s box.

Anytime the name Pedro Martinez appears in that box, you know it’s a good game. How’d Pedro do on this day? I’d say he lived up to expectations. Seven innings pitched. Three hits. No Walks. Ten strikeouts. Not a bad day at the park. Three baserunnes in seven innings? Yeah, that’s a 0.43 WHIP. Some persepective? The next guy gave up two hits in only two innings. But, that’s just the beauty of watching Pedro pitch.

What about the offense? So often Pedro would pitch great, only to be stymied by the offense and their lack of scoring. That wasn’t the case on this day. The Sox got the only run they would need in the very first inning. I’m sure we all sat back at that point, assuming Pedro wouldn’t need any more than that. Just to be sure, the Sox added on eight more. The big bat was swung by Lou Merloni. Yup, that’s right. Lou Merloni. From the six spot, he went 3-5, drove in three runs, and scored two of his own. Quite a day for the Sox third baseman.

The goat of the day? I really want to hand it to Brian Daubach. Going 0-3 from the two spot when the teams is scoring in bunches is just frustrating. But, at least Dauber drew a walk. Mike Lansing didn’t even do that. Four infield groundballs were all he could muster on the day.

But, of course, it didn’t matter. The offense did more than enough when the best pitcher in history was on the mound.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

What people are reading this week