Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Learning from Lester

It’s becoming clear that the Red Sox never had/have any intention of extending Jon Lester. Unless it was to the contract they offered in the spring. They weren’t going to make that kind of commitment to a pitcher as old as Lester is. Whether they never want to sign a pitcher who is 30, or don’t want to sign a contract that ends when a pitcher is 35, Lester is too old. This begs the question:

How do you expect to have elite talent?

After all, no matter when you sign a player, aren’t you going to be signing them up to their 35ish year old season? Right now, Lester would get a 5-7 year deal pushing him past 35. But, if you went after him two years ago, wouldn’t it take a 7-9 year deal? So you’d still be paying for the 35 year old season? Any elite free agent is going to be looking for the contract to take him to his mid-30’s. So, if you decide you never want to do that, you’ll never have elite talent. Is there a chance in hell that plan could work?

Well, it sort of did last year.

Isn’t that the year that makes one think the strategy at least has a chance? Everyone on the team was either a young guy at the end of his initial contract, or an older free agent on a short term deal. Two exceptions come to mind. Lackey is an older free agent who was towards the end of his deal. And Pedroia, whose disaster of an extension might be the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. Other than that, the team looked like what the team is now becoming.

They’re setting up to have a young core. Bogaerts and Bradley and Middlebrooks and Holt and Vazquez and Betts and Workman and De La Rosa. They’re the ones filling the roles that Lester and Ellsbury and Pedroia filled in 2007 and morphed into in 2013. The young group that plays a role one year, and leads a few years later, just before their contract expires and they want big deals. Then you fill it in with short term vets. Whether it’s Schilling and Lowell, or Victorino and Napoli.

From there, it’s just changing the names. Lester leaves, so you get a prospect/pick in return. In a few years, Middlebrooks is shown the door, without so much as an offer of an 8-year deal. Then Bogaerts. You just have to hope that with all your extra prospects and picks, you can find enough quality to keep the team stocked with talent. From there, you can add key pieces, and depth.

That’s the one thing that separates this plan from, say, the Rays and A’s. There’s money available. They can overpay Victorino for a short deal. They can pay Carp more than he’d get elsewhere to be a key player on the bench. The money can be used to get you depth. Something “small market” teams can’t do. So, there’s the turnover and flexibility of the Rays, with the depth of the Yankees. It’s an interesting theory.

The main flaw is depending on prospects. Sure, the pure mass of them increases your odds. Right now the list of Sox top prospects is longer than I can ever remember. The hope is that one of them is a stud, and three of them are damn good. The rest are roster filler. That’s something you can build around. Don’t get the stud? It’s much much tougher. Get one fewer all-star? That’s a problem.

It’s an interesting idea. I don’t know if it can work. I hate depending on prospects. They’re way too risky for my blood. But maybe, just maybe, the sheer volume of prospects they get from this plan assures the success. Maybe it could work.

It kind of already did.

Monday, July 28, 2014

He Scored!

April 19, 2014

Today’s scorecard comes to us from Andrew (9). This is the first scorecard he’s ever completed. Congratulations Andrew! Let’s take a look at it, shall we?

The first thing I notice is that Andrew took some artistic liberties with the Section 36 logo in the corner. Luckily, I happen to like the “filled in” look to it as well. I also see that he must have gotten some bad information on the starting pitcher. I also notice a logical assumption went awry in the lead-off spot. Why wouldn’t you think Grady Sizemore would be in center field? He’s not a right fielder. Otherwise, the card looks fantastic. Everything I need to know is right there for the taking, and I can follow the game batter by batter. Well done!

How about the game itself? Well, starting with Sizemore, we can see that this isn’t exactly a world championship line-up. As a day game following a night game, this one is lacking in star power. (Assuming you consider AJ Pierzynski star power) Herrera, Holt, and Ross found their way into a line-up that already included Sizemore, Bradley, and Carp. How did the Sox win this game?

Felix Doubront. (Nope, not Clay Buchholz) Felix pitched into the seventh, giving up only two runs. Tazawa and Koji took care of the rest. It allowed the offense to scratch out four runs, and that was all they needed.

The star of the game? I could give it to David Ortiz and his home run. But, I’m going to give it to superman Brock Holt. At this point we were just starting to understand his true powers. But, look at that. He tripled in the go-ahead run in the seventh, and then scored an insurance run. Pretty important contribution.

The goat? A few candidates. But, of the players who were hitless, Sizemore had the most at bats. So, his 0-4 at the top of the order get him the horns.

But, it didn’t matter. The offense pulled it together enough to get the victory.

And the scorecard shows how it happened.

Thanks Andrew!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

In The Media Guide

In my collection, I currently have every Red Sox Media Guide dating back to 1998. I love flipping through them to see what tidbits they contain. I figured that if I liked it, you might enjoy taking a look along with me. So, I had a random number generator select a page from the 2011 edition to talk about today.  The random number generator selected pg 229.

Page 229 concluded the entry for Dennys Reyes, and starts the entry for non-roster invitee Jason Rice. I generally find the first and last pages to be the most interesting. The first page has all the vital information, while the last page usually has all the “personal” information. Unfortunately, the Reyes entry is too cut off to be all that exciting. Although, the fact that he has never been ejected is interesting. Not quite as interesting, though, as the fact that the Sox found that important enough to include “ejections” as a standard entry in everyone’s chart. I also like how it’s in a “single-game highs” chart, as if you could be ejected more than once in a single game.

What about Rice? We can see that he’s a 25-year old right handed pitcher. He hasn’t played in the major leagues. One of my favorite sections of any entry is the “acquired” information. It’s almost as exciting as the “transactions” portion. In this case, we see that Jason was a Rule 5 selection from the White Sox. That was back in 2008. So, he had been hanging around the minor leagues for a while. His career highlights actually look pretty good. Which, I suppose, is why they’re highlights. But, 11.42 Ks per nine innings is pretty good.
I wonder how you get to be the Sea Dogs Citizen of the Year.

With numbers like that, I have to wonder why he wasn’t able to move higher up the ladder. As a middle innings guy, he would seem to be a nice fit. But, he only made it to Pawtucket with the Sox. But there were certainly some good tidbits on his first page.

Just like every page.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why Wasn’t Liverpool Playing the Revolution?

During the World Cup, someone wondered what it would take to get America excited about soccer. One response was the common opinion that America likes watching the best. As long as they considered their national league, MLS, to be so inferior, their interest in soccer would lag behind. How to get MLS up to snuff? One way was using the AFL-NFL theory that once MLS can prove their mettle against the real teams, it would go a long way.

Naturally, I immediately thought of Liverpool and the Revolution. From all accounts, all the owners in Boston get along pretty well. This would seem to be the perfect opportunity to help each other a bit. The Revolution could use an EPL team to match up against to try to show their worth. I imagine that John Henry wouldn’t mind expanding his LFC fan base in New England. Why not have a “home” and home series with the Revolution? They can each get some additional ticket sales in their building. What would be the downside?

The only thing I could come up with was embarrassment. Maybe LFC would be afraid of losing to a lowly MLS team. But, couldn’t they just slough it off as a training exercise? Like when a college team sometimes beats a MLB team in spring training. Sure, they beat them when the MLB team wasn’t trying and wasn’t playing their best players. It doesn’t mean anything. Just like last night, when Liverpool was resting anyone good. Or, maybe the Revolution would be afraid of being embarrassed. Losing 15-0 to the LFC back-ups wouldn’t exactly scream “level playing field.” I decided that MLS wouldn’t let that happen.

Then I noticed that last night, a few MLS teams played EPL teams. They lost, but the world didn’t end. And, I bet none of those match-ups had the same mutual benefit that LFC-NER would have produced. None of the EPL owners had their own location in the States trying to sell their merchandise. No other MLS owner had an owner from across the Pond that they had such a great working relationship with.

You know me, I love cross-pollination. I love it when different industries user their assets to complement each other. I don’t know why it didn’t happen here.

Why weren’t the Revolution at Fenway last night?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Who’s a Seller Now?

After all, if they’re no longer in the cellar, they shouldn’t be sellers…right?

This was really my point when I wondered why people were so eager to define this team. Why did we need to decide their fate on July first? Why did they need to decide if they were buyers or sellers a month before the deadline? Who knows what will happen by then?

And, we still don’t. We’re less than two weeks from the deadline, but I don’t know if a five game winning streak should change any plans. At least, it shouldn’t if they had the right plans to start with.

I’ve been saying for quite some time that the Sox should be buyers and sellers. Their farm system allows them to do exactly that. Does a NL team really want Jake Peavy? He can be moved, and the Sox have the prospects to fill in for him. Even during a pennant race. So, sell. But, does Giancarlo Stanton finally become available? The Sox can certainly part with some prospects to get that deal done. So, buy.

Frankly, there’s only one problem with the combined approach. The teams who want to buy what you’re selling are very likely the people you’ll be competing with the rest of the season. It would be tricky to make a trade sending Peavy to Baltimore, for instance, even though they might be in the market for a veteran starter. Baltimore is a team you’re hoping to pass on the way to the division. Even an NL team, like the Dodgers, could end up haunting you. Usually when you’re a seller, the other teams don’t concern you as much.

But, they can still make it work. They can find destinations for their spare parts. There might even be upgrades available at positions where they need them. Frankly, they have so many prospects that they need to do something. They can’t fit Victorino, Nava, Gomes, Bradley, Holt, Carp, and Betts in their outfield. They have two young catching prospects, and five infielders. They need to package them to get something back. Even if it’s just an all-star, instead of a legend. They need to pick prospects to keep, and trade the rest to get some quality.

Quality would be helpful during a playoff hunt.

Monday, July 14, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2000 Impact

There’s a lot to like about this card. Of course, there’s a lot not to like as well.

You probably guessed that I like the way the picture was handled. It was able to extend all the way to the end of the card. There’s no border to confine it. No limiting graphics. Everything is placed so that the picture can surround it.

The “Impact” logo is at the top, but still manages to float in the picture. Pedro’s name, position, and Red Sox logo are similarly allowed to be included in the picture, as opposed to being a hindrance to it. Even the brightly colored border doesn’t trim the picture away. The opaque quality allows your eye to follow the picture as far as it needs to go. Simple white lines give design, without being distracting. There’s no foil anywhere, so you can read the entire card without giving yourself carpal tunnel from all the twits and tilts to catch the light.

The picture is pretty standard. Pedro maki8ng a face as he prepares to embarrass a batter. Nothing too exciting about it, but nothing wrong with it either. I do like how you can clearly see his cut sleeve flapping in the breeze.

But, that border color? Really?

A sort of salmon reddish pinkish thing? Not quite the shade I would have gone with. But, that’s just me.

Or maybe it’s not. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

In the Media Guide

In my collection, I currently have every Red Sox Media Guide dating back to 1998. I love flipping through them to see what tidbits they contain. I figured that if I liked it, you might enjoy taking a look along with me. So, I had a random number generator select a page from the 2009 edition to talk about today.

It went with pg 100

Page 100 is the second page of the entry for Angel Chavez.

Yup. Angel Chavez. He was a 27 year old infielder for the 2009 Red Sox organization. He never reached Boston, and was released after the season.

What tid-bits might we find on his page?

We see that in 1999 he made his pro debut in the Venezualan Summer League. He led that league in HR, H, 2B, and RBI. Not a bad debut.

We see that his only major league action came with the 2005 Giants.

The Phillies claimed him off waivers from the Giants, but then traded him to the Orioles.

He had 74 minor league homers when the Red Sox signed him as a minor league free agent. That;s not a bad total.

Of course, there's more great stuff on that page.

Just like every other page.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Red Sox 1-36: 35 is for…

35 outfield assists by Tris Speaker 1910 and 1912

Yup. That’s another team record.

Yup. It’s another team record that won’t be broken.

Even crazier? He had 30 assists in 1913,and 29 in 1914. That’s just insane. I’ve mentioned before that I always wondered why people didn’t just stop running on him. I mean. Usually the best outfielders have low assists because runners don’t even try. So, I wondered if Speaker had the kind of arm that people kept trying. But, after 30 of them? I think it’d be time to change the plan. Then I found out the real reason. He got lots of those assists on double plays. As the pivot man.

His speed (and the dead ball era) allowed him to play so close, that he could be the pivot man on a 6-8-3 double play. I don’t care how fast you are, or what era you’re in. That’s pretty close.

I know that many things about Fenway have changed since Tris Speaker roamed the outfield. But, the dimensions are the same. Sometimes when I’m sitting in the stands and looking out at the field, I wonder just how close he would need to play in order to make the pivot. I assume he wasn’t on the infield dirt. Five steps back? Ten? Did he get assists on a lot of 8-3 groundouts?

Which always leads to another question. If people didn’t hit the ball far enough to make Speaker play more than 5-10 steps behind the infield, why is the centerfield fence 420 feet away? Why would they waste all that space? If the left field wall was 310 feet away and people, wrongly, assumed nobody would ever reach it, why was center so deep?

Was it because people did hit it out there? Was Speaker just that good? Were hits out that far just that rare? Speaker was part of the golden outfield at that point. Could the other two outfielder cover for him on the rare instance that one went to deep center? Could the Red Sox do that today? I wonder how shallow someone like Mookie Betts play in center if Bradley was covering for him in right? How many balls really go out there? Would it be worth the trade-off of cutting down every ball up the middle?

Of course, Brock Holt isn’t a baseball legend.

35 is for the 35 assists by Tris Speaker in 1910 and 1912.

Friday, July 4, 2014

From the Pedro Binder

2000 Skybox Dominion Strikeouts League Leader

This seemed like a good one for today.

I've discussed league leader cards in this segment plenty. There's a great way for card companies to get as many star players as they can in a card set. Why take up two cards when you can get both Pedro and Randy on a single card.

I will admit, though, that I'd prefer they spend at least a little time thinking about the design.

Look at this thing. How long did it take to think up? Let's put the player in front of the league logos, on a white background. We'll throw their names in the middle somewhere. Done!

They even put the names in foil, to make them hard to read. But, no team names. No team logos. No strikeout totals to see how well they did. Just slapped a picture on the card, and called it a day.

Pretty darn lazy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

She Scored!

June 26, 2014

I received a tweet from Melissa recently (@UKfan1129 if you’re twitterpated) showing off her completed Section 36 scorecard! Let’s see how it looks, shall we?

Right away, I see something I like. On Posey’s at bat in the first inning, he hit a double. There’s an arrow in the box, which I assume indicates the direction the hit went. I’ve seen other people do this, and always wondered why I don’t do it as well. It’s an easy way to add some useful information to the card. I also noticed that much like Jim, she’s an experienced NL scorecard keeper. She knew enough to leave everyone batting in the pitcher’s spot on the one row. I would have been tempted to start putting Gutierrez’s scores in the next row, but would have quickly run out of room. Good job by Melissa there. I also like the diagonal lines between innings. I tend to use the “X” taking up the whole next box. Frankly this is because I need the big reminder not to score in that box. But, the card looks a little more cluttered because if it. But, there are no mistakes. It’s a trade-off Melissa, apparently, didn’t need to make. I’m a little jealous.

It’s also lucky that this card captured Duvall’s first ML appearance, as well as his first home run. The point of any card is to record history, and this one certainly does that. What a break.

How about the game itself? Melissa was probably happy, because the Reds went away with the victory. The pitching held the Giants to a single run, allowing the minimal offense to do its job.

The hero of the game? I’d be tempted to give it to Jay Bruce and his three hits. But, of Brandon Phillips’s two hits, one was a home run. So, I’m going to give him the nod.

The goat? Joey Votto needs to do more from the three-hole. A big 0-4 does not help the team score runs.

As we know, it didn’t matter. “Chappy” came in and closed it out, and the Reds added one to the win column.

And Melissa’s third ever scorecard shows how it happened.

Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

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