Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Eric Gone, Yay!

"What can I say? I saved the day, I guess. Eric doesn't get the company."
-Mike Lowell, et. al.

So the Eric Gagne era in Boston is over, as the embattled reliever filed for free agency this afternoon. This means the Boston Red Sox will get not one, but two first-round draft picks as compensation for losing this class A free agent. Although it doesn't mean that David Murphy, Kason Gabbard (who pitched brilliantly in the only non-World Series game I attended this year), and the heralded Dominican prospect are coming back, it does mean the Red Sox didn't just give these guys up for an April Fools' joke.

I mean, we all know what happened to this guy. He was brought in as Okajima burn-out insurance, and he didn't insure anything. Maybe he was Red Sox Lead Insurance for the opponents. He was beyond terrible, and his performances didn't indicate at all that he should have been put on any kind of playoff roster. As a result, a guy like Julian Tavarez was totally snubbed, and that's a shame.

His contributions lost several points for Terry Francona, as Francona decided to see whether he could be trusted in a close game after coughing up a lead in almost every single close game situations he was put in. Of course, the fact that Francona did this while the Red Sox' division lead dwindled to 2.5 wasn't exactly the best timing for it. Seems like we've talked about timing a lot in the last few days.

All I can say is thank goodness he wasn't the difference between a win and a loss during a playoff game. You could argue that Game Two against Cleveland was another classic Gagne performance, but the only two guys left in the bullpen were Lopez and Lester, both of whom got shelled just as badly. He didn't have to pitch Game Seven, or even Game Four of the World Series. Eric didn't get control of the company, and that's a good thing.

At the time, the Gagne trade looked like a good one, a trade rooted in the good principles of Prospect Theory and a trade that looked a lot like the one that ensured the Red Sox the division title in 1995 with Rick Aguilera. But upon closer inspection (and this is totally second-guessing), you could see that even before being traded to Boston, Gagne's production started to fall. He surrendered runs in three of his final seven appearances in Texas. And then the Boston disaster happened.

I was pretty glad when the Red Sox chose to pass on Gagne last offseason. He had pitched fifteen 1/3 innings in the last two seasons. People have given a ton of reasons to explain Gagne's dropoff (the most damning would be steroid allegations during his magical save run in the LA Times). But what do you expect from a guy who has pitched 15 1/3 over the course of two years, then you expect him to maintain what he had previously done over the last two months of a six-month baseball season? It's kind of a bummer.

It's also a bummer because despite the fact that he's a Boras client, Gagne seemed like a pretty decent dude. He never flipped off the fans, he never popped off to the media, and he never criticized "Johnny from Burger King" for booing him after getting lit up. He admitted that he was terrible, and he honestly seemed to feel bad about it. Watching him just chill out in the bullpen during Game Two of the World Series made me realize how terrible he felt, and I couldn't help but feel bad for the guy. But alas, he did get his World Series ring, and in some kind of weird way, that makes me feel better about everything.

I appreciate Eric Gagne for this attitude. I honestly do. From a slightly more sarcastic standpoint, I also appreciate his contributions, because if not, HYD Baseball wouldn't have been as exciting in September and October.

On Lowell (Part 2)

The second part of this post, like the last nine or so, is about Alex Rodriguez and the possibility of him playing third base for Boston. As I wrote in my "Getcha Popcorn Ready" post, bidding for Earthquake-Rod must, MUST consider all the implicit costs for bringing this guy in. The fact that I'm certainly not alone in quitting means a great bit of lost revenue. Just out of public relations disasters, this guy is going to cost this team a lot of money. I truly do believe that a bank would have a better PR day if it announced that Eric Mangini just hacked into the computer system and stole all the customers' data. This franchise would lose a great deal of its fan base, because there has never--EVER--been an individual hated as much as this guy. We know the reasons.

Which brings me to today's Steve Buckley article in the Herald. Buckley asks if it's really so bad if A-Rod wears a big B on his hat next year. After all, every annoying person in the world is going to do that anyway. What's one more? Read every post since the World Series on this blog. That's one more.

Buckley wrote about how Manny Ramirez was continuously hounded during the Sox/Indians playoff series in the late 1990s. I was at one of the games in 1999, and I was one of the guys who chanted "Manny's Hitless." There's a difference between hating a guy and ragging on a guy for bad postseason production. Manny never did anything to actually incite this level of hate. Maybe pimping a home run or two. The dudes we hated were Wilfredo Cordero and ESPECIALLY beanballer Jaret Wright. Punk.

But the reasons for those hatreds--Cordero beating his wife with a telephone while on the Sox and Wright drilling Darren Lewis twice, resulting in Lewis missing the rest of the '98 series and an early '99 brawl--were mere child's play compared to the catalog of A-Rod's services. And to reiterate a comment I posted today, the days of Manny hatred, Wright hatred, Cordero hatred, and Reggie Jackson hatred was before everything was magnified through the age of the Internet and ten real-time sports channels.

Buckley also writes about how A-Rod can adhere to a "Red Sox Way" like Randy Moss adhered to a "Patriot Way." I already ripped my boy Oz apart for the Randy Moss comparisons in the record comment session. Francona does a good job managing personalities, but do you really think there's a "Red Sox Way" that eliminates selfishness and behavior like A-Rod's? Should we ask Curt "Let's Play For Tampa" Schilling? How about Manny? Get serious, Buck.

In Part 1, I talked about how how Mike Lowell was 33 years old. Alex Rodriguez is 32.

(Hey, you never know, he might be older, like those odometer-rolling Dominican players. He is Dominican, right? No, wait, he's American. No, Dominican, no, American, no, he's not going to play at all, no, okay, he's Dominican, but he's also American, yeah, he's American, okay, this is my final answer, he's American. I digress.)

So why would the Red Sox balk at giving Mike Lowell a four-year deal, but be open to giving Earthquake-Rod a longer deal at twice the money? Is this logical to ANYBODY?

Sure, it's probably true that Mike Lowell could really fall off in 2008 or 2009 or 2010 or 2011. His 2005 season was bad. Really bad. The Red Sox, by paying him a big sum for these years, might be talking about paying a guy $15 million for a season like 2005. Ouch.

But it's not like spending like this on older veterans is something against the Red Sox' system. We could talk about Nancy Drew, who will be 32 in November and almost 36 when his contract expires. And Nancy's bad 2007 season was not as much of an anomaly (please refer to Drew's 2002 stats) as Lowell's bad 2005 season.

Let's face it: A-Rod is looking for a longer deal than a four-year deal, and he's the only other free-agent alternative for this team. Unless you move Youkilis to third base and try to pick up fellow Boras client Carlos Pena, who is allegedly looking for $15 a year after...oh, ONE good season in his entire career. The Red Sox can either finagle a trade (which will cost quite a bit, especially if they're throwing in guys other than Coco and a guy like Pauley), sign A-Rod (which is drowning in these implicit costs as well as the fact that they're going to have a 39-year-old personality problem making $30 million in 2015), or keep Mike Lowell. Sure, it means the Red Sox are gambling with a 37-year-old making something in the vicinity of $14 million, and this is not the most favorable position.

But, with all things considered, it's the best option out there.

On Lowell (Part 1)

I'm not going to talk about A-Rod anymore until the rumors start swirling that he's negotiating with Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, and the rest of the clowns in the front office. Maybe if the price isn't right, he'll take a year off and be the next host of Sox Appeal.

This move, financially, makes no sense for the Red Sox, especially when you factor Mike Lowell into the occasion as an alternative. The general consensus in this town is that the Red Sox are not going to want to pay Mike Lowell for a long-term deal. I know that he's leavin, they must have their reasons. And those reasons would be that Lowell is going on the age of 34, and if they were to give him four guaranteed years, that means he will still be making quite a bit on the Red Sox payroll until he's nearly 38. And the Red Sox have balked repeatedly on giving players long-term deals past the age of 35.

Signing Captain Intangible was because there was basically no alternative. If the Red Sox didn't sign him to that contract, their starting catcher for the next four years would have had to be Dougie or Kelly Shoppach. By the way, they face the same thing next year when this contract retires. Let's just say the Sox are hoping George Kottaras or Kevin Cash really get it together.

I find this Lowell situation to be a similar situation as the Varitek situation. What are the options? Re-sign Lowell, get into the drama of the A-Rod thing, or trade Coco Crisp, a guy like David Pauley, and probably a third prospect to a team like Minnesota, Atlanta, or San Diego (I'm thinking they're not going to re-sign Mike Cameron unless they agree to pay his salary entirely in greenies). Nick Punto's .210 average doesn't sound too appetizing. Chipper Jones or especially Kevin Kouzmanoff might be reasonable options for the Red Sox, though. This actually might be something worth arguing for.

Earthquake-Rod

This will be my second-to-last post on the Yankees' Former Third Baseman. Expect my last post, addressing for the last time the possibility of this guy coming to Boston, to come in the next few minutes.

I am proposing one more name for this guy, and Earthquake-Rod might be a suitable one.

There are many reasons for this, with the least important one being that if I were to guess, I'd guess Alex lands in San Francisco. With the exit of Barry Bonds, the Giants are not only going to be a bad team next year, but they're also not going to have the one-man star power than puts people into the seats since the year after they made it to the World Series. People aren't going to attend ballgames there. Earthquake-Rod might actually put people into the seats. And nobody in San Fran will dislike the guy no matter what, so he can be as much of a jerk as possible. Worked for Bonds.

A-Rod's second similarity to an earthquake is the fact that no matter how many seismic rays he'll make by mouthing off to the media, people will still show up to the stadium. Just like how people keep on inhabiting California.

The most important part of this nickname, of course, would be the fact that his big announcement had to happen during the World Series. The most notable news event that ever interrupted a World Series already in progress would have been the Loma Prieta earthquake during Game Three of the 1989 World Series. It also made a lot of headlines. Alex Rodriguez and Scott Boras would have loved if their announcement successfully interrupted the World Series, or garnered as many headlines. This earthquake caused a then-record $6 billion of damage. If possible, I'm sure that A-Rod would love to be paid $6 billion for his damage.

(I have an idea about how A-Rod is costing society as a whole a great deal of money, but I'm going to leave that story until Christmas Day. I'll call it "It's A Wonderful $300 Million Life," and the main thesis would be that the world might be better off without Alex Rodriguez.)

Pat wrote this in the record 21-comment discussion: "i can't support an organization that supports a person like alex rodriguez. he's the kind of guy that starts strikes that cause people who really care about the game to run away. and he wouldn't even blink if it happened." I can't agree more. More on that in the next post.

Can You Believe This, Dan Vassallo?

What I can't believe is that you didn't beat me to this. I thought you would have called in sick, taken a personal day, or quit your job altogether to get the following sentence up on this blog:

Joe Torre will manage Scott Proctor again next season.

Nothing could be more comical. Unless you're Scott Proctor. I didn't want to bury my post below, but I had to get this up.

The Impact of Losing A-Bag

Action packed commentary going in the post below. Love it.

We've all been throwing around opinions on A-Bag overall impact. Whose right or wrong, I don't know. Some people, including myself, thinks the team will ultimately be better off. Some people don't. Who knows.

The one thing we do know is that he's gone. So, forgetting his endless distractions and BS off the field, let's take a look strictly at what the implications will be on the field. A number of other blogs have already done some work on this, crunching numbers I have no idea how to crunch. Since a lot of you probably don't read all of these blogs (If you're a Sox fan, why would you? You're basking in the glory of a WS.), but might be interested anyway, I thought I'd lay some of the basics out.

Let's deal with some SABR stuff, which are becoming ever so accurate ways of predicting player and team performance numbers. And when we do this it is important to remember that A-Bag had a career year in 2007. As good as he has been year in and year out, he has never put up a year like this before, and it is unlikely that he will again. He might, but it would be irresponsible to project him based on a year like this. Also, he will never be motivated by money, his only motivation in this game, ever again. So don't be surprised to see a big tailoff, back to 2004 or 2006 levels, next year. The only thing he'll have to play for then is wins, which he doesn't care about the way he cares about money, so he won't be able to propel himself like he did this year.

Based on his averages from recent years, A-Bag is worth about 5 runs per game, which is a lot. A whole lot. What that means is that if you take him out and replace him with an average third baseman (Wilson Betemit happens to be a perfect example), the Yankees would have won 89 games as opposed to 94 this year. If you replace him with a below average 3B, it goes lower. Big difference. Pretty simple.

The interesting, and fortunate thing for the Yankees, is that they catch an automatic break in Win Shares if they get full seasons from Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy in the rotation, which they should. Each of these players could easily be worth a win, and it isn't out of the question that Joba or Philly could do 2-3. If you throw in, oh I don't know, Johan Santana, that would actually project the Yankees to have more wins than they did with A-Bag, even though they lose so much offense.

So while the Yankees offense takes a huge hit on offense (and I'm talking immense, think 60-70 runs, unless they upgrade over Betemit, which they will. More on this in a second.), they are going to get a boost on the pitching side of things. To what extent is yet to be determined, as it is more difficult to predict on young players with small sample sizes than it is for an established player like A-Bag. But if you look at what Hughes did in September, saw that Ian Kennedy was the Minor League Pitcher of the Year, or happened to get a brief glimpse at Joba picking his nose, you know that the upside is big. It's not enough to make up for losing A-Rod in total, but it is enough to make up some of it, and that's big. Had the Yankees lost A-Bag's level of production two years ago, when they didn't have young pitchers ready to step in, they would have been in a lot of trouble.

And this is all without dealing with the offensive side of things, which the Yankees will certainly deal with. The potential influence that Hughes, Chamberlain, and Kennedy could have on next years' club, making it so that they don't have to go out and get a Miguel Cabrera, doesn't mean they aren't going to upgrade over Wilson Betemit. There are a lot of options here, but one that was suggested at the essential RLYW Blog was trading for Morgan Ensberg. I think the reason this was suggested is that an Ensberg/Betemit platoon is certainly less than exciting, or at the very least there are more appealing options out there. However, with this underwhelming platoon, and no other changes to the offense, the Yankees project to lose only 40 runs on the season, scoring 890 instead of 930. This is of course dependent on Posada coming back. That simple change, with Philly, Joba, and IPK performing on levels close to what they project, would by itself make up for the wins lost by the departure of A-Bag. Forgetting a pitching upgrade on the scale of Santana, upgrading at another position, like getting Carlos Pena to play 1B, could make the Yankees, once again, worth more wins even after A-Bag's decision to split.

You can question the reliability of projections all you want, but I look at them on a near daily basis, and they are becoming incredibly accurate. Baseball lends itself to being able to predict performance based on numbers, especially on the team side of things. It's not full proof, but it gives us an interesting perspective to examine. So even if you aren't like me, and think this is a huge deal that the Yankees are losing this much production, you can relax a little bit. The Yankees are already going to pitch much better next year. Getting a 3B in here that is above average, preferably against lefties to make a Betemit platoon make sense, coupled with this better pitching would get us to around the same number of wins this year, which would be playoff competitive. Without doing anything else. And I think the Yankees will do a lot more than that.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where are the Yankees now?

In a place that is just fine, that's where.

The New York sports world has been bananas the last two days on the One Who Doesn't Care issue, as you can imagine. Everyone bouncing all sorts of opinions all over the place. Fine.

Let me tell you where they actually are in the post Perennial Loser Era. They are going to miss his production in the regular season. Before next March, they are going to have to find a way to cope with that loss of production over 162. Weather it is more pitching, a really bigtime bat, or a combination of the two, they are going to have to do it. And there are a TON of options to accomplish this via the trade. After all, we aren't the Oakland A's. We aren't developing all of these prospects to keep them. Some are expendable, and as we are learning, when you pay attention to the farm you can easily, quickly, and consistently replenish the system year after year with strong scouting and drafting.

And all of these options, even if they don't add up to The Phony (Or even come close for that matter. Let's be honest, you can't replace his talent and they will miss him during the regular season.) are better options than resigning The Man Who Doesn't Even Know What Team He Plays For. Yankees fans should honestly be dancing in the streets and celebrating the fact that this guy is gone. Why? Because he is a loser, in every sense of the word. He has a loser personality. He has a loser big game mentality (and I'm not talking April and May here, as DV will let you know). He has a loser character. He's just a loser, and has been his entire career.

So what is he? Ultra-talented. As a matter of fact, he is the best position player since Joe DiMaggio. And you know what else? Since The Big Mental Mess has never won a World Series (and probably never will) every team that has won the World Series since DiMaggio won his last one has done so without a player as talented as Mr. Purple Lips. (Note: I'm purposely not including McGuire, Sosa, and Bonds for obvious reasons. But since they are all championshipless as well, they further prove the point.)

Some people say that personalities don't matter in baseball. This is not true. Maybe it doesn't show up entirely over 162, as was the case with A-Rod, but it definitely shows up in October. Look at how certain Yankees elevated themselves during the championship years. Guys that weren't that good. Same thing for a lot of big October players for the Red Sox this year. Some of this has to do with being a team.

The Anti-Teammate That Wore #13 prevented the Yankees from doing this. And therefore prevented them, at least in large part, from winning a World Series. Had he been back, he would have continued to do so. He was a distraction. A bad teammate. He only cared about himself. These latest happenings are only further evidence of this. He doesn't care about being a Yankee. He doesn't care about playing for any particular team. He cares about money and personal attention. Whatever team will ooh and ah over him the most, and pay him the most money, then sure, that works great.

I don't want guys like that on my team. Guys like that don't win championships. And that's all I care about. Does The Big Regular Season help the Yankees April to September? More than any other player for any team in baseball. He's the best. But what does it matter if you can't win it all anyway? DV and I talk about this point, for both of our teams, all the time. The answer is it doesn't.

You can't build a team for postseason success. You just can't. You have to have a good team, and they have to get hot. But you can build a team that is built specifically NOT to have postseason success. That is how the Yankees were with A-Rod. Guys like this just don't win. Think about the great championship players in every major sport in America during our lifetime. Think about Jordan, Aikman, Jeter, Brady, and Duncan. Think about how many championships those guys won, as the leaders of their team. Then think about how different each of them is from Boras Has Me On A Leash. It's a joke. Same goes for a guy like Bonds. Or T.O. The most talented players in their sports. But their personality and character cause more distractions than their play can solve when it really matters.

The Yankees will be fine. If not next year, then the year after. If not that year, than the year after that. And I'm willing to wait. Making the playoffs every year and losing in the first round doesn't interest me. Winning the World Series does. And that ain't happening with the Loser. And when the Yankees win the World Series, and Mo jumps into Posada's arms one last time after Chamberlain tosses 8 shutout, I'm going to laugh in Ringless' face. Much like DV and all of Boston are laughing in Johnny Damon's face this year. These things have a way of working themselves out.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sox Fans: Will You Quit?

This is more of a prompt than a content- or wit-filled post. Earlier in the year, I believe there had been discussions on this blog about what Red Sox fans would do if this team decided to get rid of Mike Lowell and play Alex Rodriguez at third base. If not on this blog, I've had discussions with my Wilmington and Nashua friends about this topic, and it was split. There was not much middle ground. People were either adamantly in support of A-Rod signing with Boston or threatening to quit if he did.

You know how I've felt about the guy. He sucks.

And the last day has really changed things. Lowell is close to where Ortiz was a few years ago. Maybe not that close, but close. A-Rod has done yet another thing to upstage the Red Sox and to disrespect baseball in his own pursuit of the almighty dollar and the almighty headline. Does this change how you feel about these guys?

Reader/Commenter John just told me he would quit if the Red Sox stooped so low to dignify A-Rod's actions with a contract. I've been on this boat since day one. What do you think? A follow-up question: How high would you bid for Lowell?

(I'd say 4 years, 48 million. Fire away.)

There's More on the Selfish Mutant

The posts are flying today. With DV and I both having a lot to say, don't forget to check out people's comments in the previous posts from today. They are good posts, but have better conversations going in the comments section.

I didn't want to say anymore today, but I just saw something that made me change that. Peter Abraham reported on his blog that Robinson Cano did a radio show today, and said that he found out from a friend that The Man With No Team had opted out.

Now, think about that for a second. I'm sure almost all of us on this blog have played sports on some level. I played high school or college basketball with some of you, same for DV and running. So just think about if you were transferring schools. Would you call your teammates, especially the ones you were close with, to let them know you were leaving? So they wouldn't have to hear from someone else?

I would. We all would. Professional athletes, the ones who care, should be no different than us. If anything, they should be CLOSER with their teammates. Especially in baseball. They are like your family for 8 months a year.

On top of that, how about if you were a senior player on a team mentoring a younger player? Might you think to call him? Because that's what Cano was to The Former Third Baseman. Phone call before it leaks to a kid you took under your wing? Nope.

This just shows what kind of guy he is. Even in a year where he put up some of the best numbers we have ever seen in an individual season, where the younger players almost worshiped him, he was still totally disconnected. No matter how it may have looked to me or anybody else on the outside, he doesn't care about the team, and therefore the team doesn't really care about him.

Anybody watch the World Series this year? Both of those teams love each other. Love. Especially on the Red Sox, where there are a million different personalities, they all care about each other. There isn't one bad apple in the entire bunch. Even over-paid underachievers like J.D. Drew are accepted into the fold seamlessly, and that probably has something to do with why he was able to step up in October and make some game, perhaps season changing plays. If I remember correctly his teammates publicly stood up for him (how hard it is to come to Boston and perform right away, etc.), and that has to feel great if you were struggling like he was. That's what a team is supposed to be about. Don't hate. Love.

The Yankees are a team that is on the verge of that, but still seem to be somewhat caught in the middle. The fact that the The Former Third Baseman, who has no idea what a team is (he probably thinks the team name should be his first and last name), is gone and we never have to worry about him again should push us from the middle to the top in the team chemistry category right away.

Getcha Popcorn Ready

This was going to be a comment, but it's too long. Sorry to bump Pat's post, because his is just as good. And this mutant comment would probably make no sense if you don't read Pat's post first. So I ask you to set aside a few minutes and, of course, to "getcha popcorn ready."

He's a franchise killer, an extraordinary distraction, and possibly the most outwardly greedy individual in his sport. He will get the money he's demanding, and once he does, he'll probably laugh in the face of the haters. There was a media circus because of his highly-publicized incident with a good-looking woman. He wrote a poorly-written children's book about his own life and made at least a few more thousand. His agent has a big mouth, and continously makes comments and moves that are considered an absolute disgrace to the sport. His client, of course, eats this up. All of the aforementioned behavior is excusable, however, because he may be the best person on his playing field.

You thought I was talking about the Former Third Baseman? No. I was talking about Terrell Owens. Doesn't everyone talk about how he's singlehandedly making a mockery out of himself and his sport? Yeah, I thought so. Aren't there teams that would flat-out pass on him, not because of the price tag, but because of his character?

For some reason, people aren't putting April-Rod in the same category. But after yesterday's publicity stunt, it's time to do just that.

I vote for the Former Third Baseman's new name to be T.O.-Rod, because that's exactly the way Alex Rodriguez is. Except he's not funny. He's never done funny things like situps in his driveway, raps that contain lines like "I'm back and I'm gettin that chedda" or "It's a whole new year, I'm on a whole new team/ I'm a Cowboy now, no more black and green/ To all those haters who thought I wouldn't get my money/ I'm laughing in your face, ha ha, that's funny." He's never signed a game ball. T.O. is an asshole, yes, there's no doubt about it. But he at least adds a little bit of humor to it. A-Rod has every unsavory quality as Terrell Owens, but lacks T.O.'s only redeeming quality.

It might make me a bad person, but a small part of me hopes T.O.-Rod overdoses on painkillers and succeeds in a way the initial T.O. never did. Last night was just another reason that I will flat-out quit if the Red Sox end up signing this scumbag. The Sox declined to sign Orlando Cabrera because he had character issues. They better do the same thing in this case, because if not, this site will soon move to nyycolbyroyals.blogspot.com.

Teeing Off on the Former Third Baseman

It is a little strange for their to be something else to write about the day after a team that occupies 50% of this blog won the World Series. But that isn't the top story. The story is the Yankees' Former Third Baseman. I'm going to go nuts about how unprofessional, selfish, and disrespectful it is of he and Boras to create that type of situation of and within itself (amongst MANY other things), but first let me say a few quick things on other topics.

First, congratulations to all the Red Sox fans on their club winning the World Series. As DV said in the post below, we have a lot of fun with this, and a big part of that is the small but loyal and intelligent group who come here to read, and more importantly comment about all things baseball. I view it as more of a running conversation than a blog, and we have you guys to thank for that. As much as I like writing and talking about the team I love, I feel the same about the team I love to hate. It wouldn't be right not to congratulate you as well as thank you for allowing us to have some fun in this space.

Second, and more important than the Yankees' Former Third Baseman, it appears that the Yankees are going to hire Joe Girardi as they have made him an offer. It looks like three years for $6 million. It will be shocking if he doesn't accept. Before this was even officially announced, he had a grin the size of Texas in the World Series pre-game last night. He's taking it. And that's great for the Yankees. I love Don Mattingly, but I am glad that I was wrong in thinking he would get it, because Girardi is the man for the job. We'll talk about this at great length at some point after it all becomes official.

Now for the other guy. The first thing I want to bring up is that I am not mentioning this guys' name anymore. Unless it becomes exhausting to keep it up, I may never utter it again, definitely not on this site. And this isn't just because he is leaving the Yankees. That is the least of my concerns. The most of my concerns was again exemplified last night with the story leaking DURING A POTENTIALLY, AND LIKELY, CLINCHING GAME IN THE WORLD SERIES. This is an embarrassment, and shows what kind of character both he and Boras have. It shows not only that he doesn't care about his team, but the game. He had almost fooled me that he cared about his team. And even if he didn't, you could almost live with it. But to not care about the game. That's a joke.

So before I go further, I'd like to propose that we all make up a nickname for this moron, at the very least, to use at How Youz Doin Baseball. Maybe we'll even get one that is so good we'll all use it. The one's I have right now are not appropriate, because I think the guy is so disgusting. But let's come up with some in the comments section. Have some fun with it. DV is usually really good at this stuff. But this has to happen. I need a really good nickname for this loser so I don't have to use his name anymore. For right now I'm going with the Yankees' Former Third Baseman, because it is spiteful on a few different levels. Let's get one that is clever and spiteful.

Let me get my thoughts on the Yankees' Former Third Baseman out there. I'm tired of him. This last stunt has utterly and totally put me over the top. No matter how good he is, I'm just exhausted of dealing with his BS. It never stops. Why? Because he only cares about two things. $$ and himself. There is only so far I am willing to go with a guy just because he is good at baseball. If I am going to root for you, you have to care about something else besides those two things. So mark that down. If for some reason he ends up back with the Yankees at any point (which won't happen if the Yankees are smart), I will never root for him. He has now surpassed a few notables to become Pat F.'s least favorite player to ever play for one of his teams. Any sport. And it's a blowout.

As some of you know and many of you don't, the Yankees' Former Third Baseman's tenure in pinstripes was a roller coaster for me. Unlike a lot of fans, my primary problem with him wasn't his play. Even in the playoffs. DV and I would often talk about this in years past. His personality bothered me. I didn't like his lack of confidence. Actually, considering his talent, it drove me up the wall to the point where I had "trAdeROD" in my AIM profile for quite some time. After the series against Detroit, I couldn't stand to watch a player that talented look like a scared little boy on the baseball field. I also had an elaborate theory about how this dragged the rest of the team down. It became a distraction that their best player lacked confidence, and negatively impacted the team. This drove me crazy. I wanted him gone.

He turned me this year. Not because of his numbers. He put up huge numbers (granted, not as big) in 2005, and he still bothered me to no end. This year he just acted like himself. He was relaxed. Not trying to prove anything. I really appreciated the work he was putting in with the kids, namely Cano and Cabrera. And you can't help but like his work ethic. It seemed like he was having fun, which allowed him to be a better player and a better teammate, and that helped the Yankees. I'm sure it was weird for a lot of people who know me (actually, I know it was), but I became a Yankees' Former Third Baseman supporter. Even after the so-so playoff performance, I still felt that if he came back I would continue to like him moving forward.

Forget that, and not a minute too soon. He showed his true colors, and I'm glad I, the Yankees, and everyone found this out, 100%, before they gave him the $300 million his play is probably worth in this place and time. Because no talent is worth it when they have the type of selfish and phony character that he has. He knew the Yankees' would pay him big, probably bigger than anybody. He also knew he had turned everyone, creating a positive image for himself with the Yankees. He could have become a "Yankee" for the rest of his career and beyond. Most importantly, no other team gives you the chance to win it all, which should be the biggest thing for any player, every year. And he didn't care about any of it. All he cares about is the attention he is going to get for the next 3-4 months and how watching teams bidding over him to become the highest paid player will feed his ego. A simple contract extension with the Yankees, which probably could have been done in a day, wouldn't have been enough of a frenzy for this loser. Not as much of a circus. Nope, that is what a player who cares about winning, cares about his team, and cares about the actual game of baseball would do.

While I'm happy he's gone, this hurts the Yankees in the regular season. It is tough to replace his type of production, and they are going to have to go one of two ways in order to have a seamless transition into the post Yankees' Former Third Baseman Era. 1. Trade for a big right-handed bat. 2. Trade for Johan Santana. I'll go with door #2, but there are a lot of options with all of the chips the Yankees have, and I'll go over all of them. Right now I'm just glad to have someone who is so indulged in himself off of my baseball team, because teams can survive, and even thrive in this type of situation (think Tiki Barber and the New York Football Giants this year). As my father said to me in an e-mail this morning, we didn't win with him, and this could be the start of us winning again without him. After all, as much as we've talked about Torre's lack of World Series lately, he was there 6 out of 8 years before we traded for this loser. Then they went 0-4 with him, including the biggest playoff collapse of all-time and three strait first round exits. I'm not going to miss that. Good riddance.

Don't forget to submit some good name ideas. I need a good one. We all do.

"Lots of Consecutive Professional At-Bats"

That's what Mike Lowell said about this year's Red Sox team. And as much as they did do the Lorenz Curve thing, scoring 9+ runs in some game and then getting blanked for several in a row, you can't doubt that fact about the World Champions. They ran up pitch counts like the Patriots run up scores...because that's their job. Even Nancy. Even Coco during the good part of his season. And that's why some of those 9+ run games happened. There weren't too many home runs, but most of the guys knew their roles throughout this season, offensively.

Frustrating, yes. Flawless? No. But apparently this team is the best in baseball, as much as I thought they'd be a third-place team. Good for them.

Obviously, you also have to talk about the pitching. Beckett. Yeah. The rest of the rotation, even Matsuzaka (because the season doesn't start in August), came through big. The bullpen minus Gagne was tremendous for most of this season.

Not to be lost in the big-picture stuff should be Lester's great pitching tonight. It shouldn't be "Lester survived cancer and won Game Four." It should be "Lester has huge balls and therefore won Game Four."

And I can't believe I'm saying this, but Francona posted his best managerial performance of his career in 2007. There were only a few instances in which he Waited For Seven, which means waiting until the game was out of hand before he pulled starters. He used Papelbon for multiple-out saves when necessary, with one May game sticking out in particular as much as the playoff games. Only things I'll fault him for would be sticking with Nancy and Lugo when they really really sucked, Joe Torre'ing Okajima, and putting in Gagne on two occasions.

The 2007 MVP for the Red Sox? For the American League? For the playoffs? That would be Hanley Ramirez. I was wrong on this trade, and anyone who either knew me before the days of HYD Baseball or who read this blog in the first months know how opposed I was to the Ramirez/Sanchez for Beckett/Lowell deal, but I was very wrong. Those two guys were the cornerstones of this team's success, and there's no way around it. The fact that a $9 million/year contract became less valuable as a result of inflation within the game's parameters also helps. Who would have thought Lowell would be a bargain?

It will take a tantamount kind of performance from Lugo and Drew to validate those signings, though. Inflation hasn't taken away the value of $14 million...nor has it taken away the faraway-ness of 2010 (Lugo) and 2011 (Drew).

Pat and I will be hard at work at HYD in the coming days, as much as I want to take a vacation for about a week and a half. Big things going on in baseball, with the A-Rod opt-out (and terrible timing), the Mitchell report, Lowell and Schilling and their pending free agency, the continuing bastardization of what it is to be a fan of the World Champions, and plenty of other stuff from the rest of baseball. I hope you stay along for the ride, and I hope you enjoyed our first season. We don't have a very wide readership, but it seems like the readership we have is very intelligent, witty, and loyal. Don't think we don't appreciate it a lot.

My parting comment for tonight, as my favorite team is crowned World Champions: Mike Lowell was asked about his free agency by Jeanne Zelasko, which was a pretty classless thing to do. Lowell declined to really talk about it, as his team's season had just ended. A great gesture by the Red Sox' third baseman.

That contrasts to the gesture made by the Red Sox' center fielder in 2005, when he said fifteen minutes after the White Sox sweep that he was looking for "a lot" of money. You know how I feel about that.

And while we're talking about that, this is my real parting comment. The Sox won the World Series with Covelli L. Crisp as their center fielder.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rick Reilly's Dream Game

Game Four is absolutely a dream situation for Sports Illustrated back-page columnist Rick Reilly, who jumped the SI ship to move to ESPN The Magazine a few days ago, and who jumped the shark a few years ago. Let's discuss why: 1) Game Four is in Denver, minutes away from his hometown of Littleton, Colorado. 2) It's a huge game. Obviously. It's the World Series, and there's only one October. 3) It's a feel-good human interest story, which, over the last six or seven years, transformed from Reilly's bread-and-butter column to basically the only column Reilly writes.

Both Aaron Cook and Jon Lester have overcome career- and life-threatening medical setbacks, with Lester's being lymphoma and Cook's being blood clots in his pitching shoulder that spread to his lungs. And now they're facing each other in a clinching/do-or-die game in the World Series. It kind of fills the "feel-good story that has no downside" that was vacated after Rick Ankiel got busted for human growth hormone.

Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe wrote that the Lester story "doesn't get old." I beg to differ, and to Lester's credit, he also begs to differ. "I don’t think I’m any different than anybody else," he said. "It just so happens that I play baseball." Lester wants to talk about the World Series, and doesn't want any kind of special treatment. He should read this blog, which is probably the only place in the world where he hasn't gotten a free pass for sucking at baseball after his courageous recovery. Good for him for saying that instead of becoming a lightning rod for sympathy. A true professional there.

Meanwhile, Cook has a similarly inspirational story. I don't really blame him for not shrugging off the blood-clot recovery questions, but he pulled a Manny when he said there were more important things in life than baseball. Maybe Colorado's not ragging on him for it, but that's certainly not the kind of thing I'd want to hear from the guy my team's counting on to prevent a sweep and stave off elimination for one more day.

Maybe it's because I'm insensitive. But hey, you don't need Dane Cook to tell you that there's only one Rick Reilly.

In other news, Tony Massarotti, who I consider the best baseball writer in this town, lost a few points in my eyes, as he had to bring up the former center fielder again. I guess I forgot that the Yankees weren't in the World Series this year. Neither are the Orioles, so it's equally as embarrassing that Lucchino, Dr. Charles Steinberg, and the Red Sox brass wheeled out Kevin Millar, a member of the Orioles, to throw out the first pitch a few nights ago. Hacks. I also don't understand why Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo is doing the postgame show on Channel 52 (formerly SportsChannel, formerly Fox Sports New England, possibly Comcast Sports Net now). I understand they won the World Series with the Red Sox three years ago. But it's unprofessional on both accounts. Show a little respect for your current employers; you're not on the Red Sox anymore.

Whereas Johnny Damon's behavior is expected, given the fact that he will never turn down an interview about the team he hasn't been a member of since he started talking dollar figures during a postgame press conference fifteen minutes after his team was eliminated. I can't wait for his skills to continue eroding. The stiff.

I understand that tonight might be a game where I see Gagne touch a baseball. I'm mentally prepared for it. But last night, you could tell how gassed Okajima was, and the Red Sox might want to be careful with Papelbon as well. Though they have the chance to clinch it tonight, pitching either of those guys for an extended period of time may result in an outcome similar to Okajima vs. Holliday last night. Tonight's gonna be a bullpen-eating game, and I hope the Red Sox have the sense to manage it carefully. It would be terrific to clinch it tonight, but it is essential to clinch it tomorrow. The need for Papelbon and Okajima is more urgent tomorrow than tonight.

As much as I'm sad to see Coco conclude his Red Sox career by riding the pine, I hope the career's over tonight. Plus, I want to talk about the offseason and write posts with a lower sense of urgency. Let's go, BRS, let's do it tonight.

Larry Lucchino, Get Serious Bro

If you haven't already, read the comments section in DV's post below. He and the boys have a lot of good stuff going on the most recent developments in the World Series amongst some other good topics. Really worth the read.

I don't know how appropriate it is to be taking jabs at the Red Sox when the are on the verge of winning the World Series (in fear of sounding like a whiner). But when I read certain things that come out of Lucchino's mouth, I just can't help myself.

All indications point to the notion that this guy's ONLY function within the Boston Red Sox organization is to give the okay on the most ridiculous and shameless promotions in baseball and constantly remind everyone that the Red Sox are not the Yankees. He was at it again during the playoffs. They have so much more money than us. We are the little engine that could. You don't know what it is like to be expected to compete with a team like that. Those aren't direct quotes. But close enough.

Does he honestly expect anyone to buy into this stuff anymore? Is he that dumb? Does he think before he speaks? Most importantly, is he even aware of his team's own financial situation? Probably not.

At one point, this was certainly true. The Yankees were a beast that was difficult for the Red Sox to keep up with financially and therefore on the field. I would have bought it about five years ago. But I can't take it anymore. The hypocrisy is just too much. And it isn't just Lucchino. Theo gets in the mix too. They were whining about Abreu at the trade deadline last year. Didn't have the money the Yankees did. Then they go out and drop over $200 million on Matsuzaka, Drew, and Lugo! Give me a break guys! Get a grip on reality.

Yes, the Yankees do have a higher payroll than the Red Sox. Yes, they are also worth almost twice what the Red Sox are. But for about four years now the Red Sox and Yankees have spent on an almost even level (as have the Mets), as the Yankees' payroll has sort of plateued while the Red Sox has really spiked. Also, the Red Sox have a lot more money and a higher payroll than everybody else in baseball. I can only imagine what the rest of baseball thinks of Lucchino spewing this garbage while his team has just come off spending the most money of any team this past winter.

So Larry, please. Stop. You just sound dumb. You have a great team in a great market. Much like with the Yankees, a lot of the reason you have such a great team is because of your market and your money. So show a little respect for it. Everybody knows it's the Yankees and Red Sox...then everybody else (expect for you apparently). Nobody wants to hear your whining. Go put the finishing touches on next year's promotion, where the Sox auction off a different position in their actual lineup for all 162 games next year. $3 million to play short! $5 million to be the starter in September! I wish this sounded far-fetched...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rocky Road Ahead?

I understand that the Red Sox are in excellent shape here. But tonight could represent a big swing game in this series. Should Josh Fogg really shut them down, it would be nailbiting time again. And if neither Matsuzaka nor Lester eat too many innings, you're not gonna see 3 2/3 out of Okajima and Papelbon in every game for the rest of this series.

I wrote earlier this week that I figured they'd win the Schilling and Beckett games (I did not figure I'd be at the Schilling game), but have trouble in Games 3 and 4. Game Two, as I just wrote, was somewhat of a red flag, as it looked like the "less-than-four-runs" version of the Red Sox may have replaced the "more-than-ten-runs" version of this team that showed up when facing elimination. If that team shows up against Fogg, it could become a trend, and it's probably not the best way to go.

Thanks to Matty for pointing out that Fogg wasn't really that impressive against the Red Sox; they just couldn't get it together in that game. And his total season stats aren't that good. However, this guy's "dragon slayer" reputation, beating all the top pitchers (including Beckett) in the league (though he didn't help himself in the tiebreaker against Peavy), gives me a feeling that he's a big-game pitcher. At this point, I'd fear him like I fear Andy Pettitte. The fact that he beat both the Red Sox and, as Pat said, "inexplicably" shut down the Yankees, means he's pretty legit. Despite having less-than-dominant stuff, from what I know about the guy, he always "inexplicably" beats guys.

The two-run performance Thursday and the fact that Matsuzaka's going against the Rockies offense doesn't make me feel much better. As much as the Dennis and Callahan team on WEEI want to talk about how terrible they are, the fact that there are five guys on the team over ninety RBIs (the Sox have two) means they do not, in fact, suck. If Brad Hawpe actually did suck as bad as he has in the last two games, he wouldn't be a major leaguer. (Maybe that's not true--Lugo did keep his job after June...)

The series is far from over, and tonight's going to be a game where a lot of questions about the makeup of both of these teams are going to be answered.

Speaking of questions, if this game goes seven and Game 7 is on November 1st, what are the Dane Cook commercials going to say?

Introducing The GM In Vermont

Since the beginning of the World Series, life has taken me from the point where I wasn't going to Game 2, to the CF bleachers during Game Two, and now I'm watching Game Three from Vermont. This is my life. And this is our country. Let me try to throw out some observations from the first two games before the point where I have missed possibly all three of the most impotant games of the Red Sox season.

Game One. I am generally skeptical on the globally-accepted street cred of momentum, but there definitely is a mental edge gained in such a huge Game One blowout. Now Colorado is thinking about this "eight days' rust" thing. And if the Sox were to lose behind the most influential playoff performer for some reason, it would be equally mentally devastating.

The radio on Thursday and Friday was absolutely obnoxious. Nobody really wants to remember how overwhelmingly bad the Red Sox were a mere seven days ago. This team can go from very hot to very cold in an extremely small period of time--as well as the other way around. The Lorenz Curve Red Sox are alive. People are predicting this team to roll over Colorado by ten runs every night. Though I do believe that this Rockies bullpen especially is not that strong, let's not get carried away here.

Oz hit it first: The Red Sox could only muster two runs off of Ubaldo Jimenez. You know, the dude who has four major league wins under his belt. Lowell provided the only extra-base hit. Despite seven walks and six hits, they couldn't get guys across the plate. They couldn't string those hits together. And this is a function, partially, of Jimenez pitching reasonably well.

But why can't this team hit rookie pitchers? This has driven me absolutely nuts since about 2003. Does their scouting suck? (I'd say no, because of the Holliday pickoff scouting report, but seeing that they are so bad against pitchers they see for the first time, you have to wonder.) What is it with these guys?

It could also spell a bigger problem: They might have gone back into the Games 2-4 terrible mode. And it's not fair to ask Matsuzaka and Lester to throw back-to-back shutouts.

The Positives: They still had four hits (including Lowell's RBI double) and SIX walks with two outs. Someone on the radio compared this to third-down conversions in football. Good call. On Wednesday, the thing that turned it into a blowout was that fifth inning rally. And that whole thing happened with two outs. Maybe two-out hitting is the best indication of whether a team's hot. Game One's two-out production especially was one of the most impressive thing I've seen from the 2007 Red Sox.

It's definitely a bummer that this team can only trust two relievers with a one-run lead, but wow, those two people were absolutely incredible on Thursday. I was lucky enough to sit in the center field bleachers on Thursday, and from that vantage point, you can tell how good everyone's stuff was. Schilling's was good, Papelbon's was very good, but Okajima's was great. He was deceiving, his command was perfect, and the concerns about him being tired have to be gone. Gotta credit Francona for shutting him down the way he did. (Unless it meant putting in Gagne).

I will talk about it more later on, but the Sox should seriously consider paying Schilling top-dollar for a one-year deal. Once again, I understand this is something the April version of me would laugh at.

A brief Game Three preview in a few minutes. Free tacos for everyone.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Can the Rockies Win this Series?

Not if they lose tonight. There aren't going to be any more miracles for this miracle team if they go down 0-2.

If they were to win however, things could get interesting. Coors Field is not a fun place to be a visiting team, especially when Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester are your Game 3 and 4 starters. But they have to win Game 2 first. At this point, I'd say that's unlikely. But Josh Beckett becoming one of the best postseason pitchers of all-time seemed unlikely (very unlikely), about 6 months ago, and look where we are on that front.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are probably putting the finishing touches on making the wrong decision with their managerial position. It isn't that Don Mattingly is a bad candidate. It is that there is a better one (Pena) and a much better one (Girardi). But they won't want to look like they are doing wrong by Torre and Mattingly in the same week, so I don't see how he doesn't get it. It's too bad too, because Girardi probably would be perfect for this team of youngsters.

In even more interesting news, more and more reports are surfacing about the Twins interest in moving Santana over the off-season, and the Yankees interest in acquiring him. First, remember that "reports" are the funniest thing in baseball. Second, I find it hard to believe there is any steam behind this thing when Cashman is spending 10 hours a day interviewing managers.

For now. On a lot of levels this trade makes sense for both sides. Santana is a no-brainer for the Yankees. And for the Twins, interestingly enough, Melky Cabrera is a big attraction. Bigger than you might think considering his age, low salary (for four more years), and Tori Hunter's departure coupled with the lack of available replacements. Bronx and I had a long discussion about this whole thing yesterday.

The only problem for the Yankees is not giving up too much. The Twins are reportedly asking for Wang, Kennedy, and Cabrera. That is the definition of too much. I know Wang wasn't good at the end of the season, but he has the most wins in baseball the last two years combined. Ian Kennedy was the Minor League Pitcher of the year, and will come into next season as a top 10-15 prospect in baseball. Melky Cabrera isn't a star, no. But his offensive and defensive VORPs (Value Above Replacement Player) both quietly made it into the top 10 amongst the 30 starting center fielders in baseball this year. Santana is the best in the game, granted. But he is coming off one of his more human seasons (by his standards), has only one year left on his contract (for which the Yankees would undoubtedly have to put together a monster extension for the deal to go through), and he has a lot of mileage on his arm for someone of his age.

If the Yankees could get a fair deal in place (Wang, Cabrera, and one of Gardner/Clippard/Horne/Sanchez/Marquez/etc. in the mix), they have to do it. Even if they slightly overpay in terms of prospects and/or finances, they should go above and beyond to do it. Why? Mariano Rivera doesn't have that much left. At some point, and it will be sooner rather than later, he isn't going to be the same. We already saw signs of it last year. And one thing a team does need to win the World Series (for all the crapshoot talk we've had here in the last few days, and I believe in it) is a good closer. Santana probably doesn't make them that much better during the regular season (subtracting Wang and Melky's contributions). But he gives them a better chance to win in October. Not to many more chances to do that with Mo closing games. Maybe one year. Maybe more. But maybe one.

Enough, this was supposed to be a World Series post. You can see I'm happy about the way my team's season ended.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Foggy Logic

Brian Corey and Julian Tavarez must have been the people who slashed Terry Francona's tires in Philadelphia on Fan Appreciation Day. That's really the only explanation of why they are still not on the playoff roster for the World Series, while Eric Gagne and now Kyle Snyder are both on the roster. I've already written a post about this; I'm moving on.

Again, I don't want to get ahead of myself, but the Red Sox are going to have some interesting moves to make this offseason. By the way Wakefield was talking today, I wouldn't be surprised if he retired. The stuff about how his recovery time is, for some reason or another, taking longer and longer and longer, is unlike anything I've ever heard him say before. It was like he conceded the fact that he was old and may no longer be effective. And at the same time, I think the Red Sox might actually want to consider one more year of Curt Schilling, which would break the heart of all seventeen Tampa Bay Devil Rays fans. In this market, with Joel Piniero getting $7 million a year, I'd probably keep 38pitches.com around for another year at $14-15 million. It would really be good for the young guys (Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, Matsuzaka) to have him both as a teammate and, even if he sucks at pitching, a second pitching coach on that bench. No, I can't believe I'm saying this, either.

Let me say this one more time: Did you see that catch Coco made? He apparently banged up his knee pretty badly, which makes the Ellsbury decision easier. The harder decision is who to bench during the games in Denver? Obviously it's gonna be an Ortiz/Lowell/Youkilis platoon using first base. But would there be an option to do the switcharoo with this configuration: Ortiz at first, Lowell at third, Youkilis in left, Manny in right? None of these would feature new positions for anyone. Contrary to what Tim McCarver said, Manny played right field in Cleveland, but complained until he was put in left field in Boston. In this case, the guy who would be missing the time would be Drew, and despite his home run in Game 6, I'm still not convinced he can hit.

Though it is the National League.

This is me first-guessing Colorado's decision to not pitch Josh Fogg in either Game One or Game Two. This guy owned both the Yankees and, most importantly, the Red Sox during the regular season, throwing what I considered the best non-Kazmir performance against the Sox all season. It's nice to know he'll only be pitching twice if the series goes seven.

If the series goes seven, though...Fogg vs. Matsuzaka...someone hand me the cyanide pill.

I like the matchup between Beckett and Jeff Francis. Not much more to say about this, really, because I'd like the matchup between Beckett and Walter Johnson at this point. And yes, I do understand how I felt about him around the beginning of March. Plus, you heard it here first: In Game 5, he'll hit at least one home run.

I also like the matchup between Schilling and Ubaldo Jimenez. You can talk about Jimenez how he has pitched well in the playoffs and how his ERA is 3.30 in his last ten regular season starts. Heck, you can talk about how the entire Rockies' staff has the lowest ERA in baseball (or so I heard on the radio today). Schilling's not a lock by any means, and a loss wouldn't surprise me at all in either of the Schilling/Jimenez games. But I'd say Schilling gets the edge. If Josh Fogg were pitching against Schilling, I'd give the Rockies the edge.

I'd give Jimenez the edge over Matsuzaka. So that means I'll give Josh Fogg a big edge over him. Game Seven was a courageous effort by the $103 million man, but you can tell he's a guy who was pushed over the limit the last month or two of the season. He's pitching much better now that he's using his non-fastball pitches every pitch. But if your guy's tiring after eighty pitches, you know there's some kind of problem. Big edge to Fogg.

That leaves Game Four: Any Lester start in the World Series would make me pace around the living room and drink about four Mountain Dews so I can keep my intensity level up all night. Better tell the folks at Cumberland Farms to restock the Chill Zone syrup. Needless to say, I'm not confident at all.

If the Red Sox can win the games they're supposed to win--Schilling and Beckett games--they will win the World Series in six. Colorado's got a deeper rotation than Boston does, and they are allocating their resources inefficiently by starting Fogg in Game Three instead of Game Two, in my opinion. If this series goes seven, Colorado will win.

This brings me back to my original point. The fact that Eric Gagne is on the roster means that there's an outside chance he will get to not just hold, but throw a baseball in this series. That diminishes the Red Sox' chances to win a World Series at an alarming rate. If the Red Sox cough up a game in the bullpen, like in the ALCS, it means they will need at least one, if not two, heroic pitching performances.

And with the use of the term "heroic," improbability is implied. Simply put, the Red Sox better not cough up a game with their bullpen. More to come from me early during tomorrow's game.

Weighing in on the Next Yankees Managers

First, thanks to everybody who got involved with the post below. Great discussion.

The World Series starts tomorrow. I'm not sure who Colorado is playing, but I've had my Tulowitzki jersey on all week. Let's Go Rockies.

That said, there will be a lot of news, but I'm going to try not to get to much Yankees stuff in here for the next week or so. They are going to dominate the off-season, at least in terms of coverage (we will have to wait to see if they dominate in terms of results), so the next week should be about Colorado and the team they are playing on this blog.

So before that starts I wanted to get my thoughts out there on the next Yankees manager, and I'll try to be brief, because for me there is an obvious choice.

There are three known candidates. Here is my definitive order for who is the best fit:
1. Joe Girardi
2. Tony Pena
3. Don Mattingly

Let me quickly tackle them in reverse order.

Don Mattingly. It has become a cliche, but truly a great Yankee. He is the first memory I have about the Yankees. His name, that he was really good, and that everybody in my family loved him. And everybody, not nearly just my family, still loves him. When the lineups are introduced, he still gets as loud, if not the loudest cheer, from the fans. It isn't the main reason, but this is a reason you cannot hire him. If he isn't any good, how do you fire him? Even if he is good, as we have seen with Torre, things can get dicey when you are the manager of the most storied team in all of sports. It is the nature of the beast. At this point, the Yankees can't afford to lose this sort of relationship, perhaps the most important they have outside of Jeter. That said, he has no managerial experience. He is quiet. He will manage a lot like Joe Torre, because he is a lot like Joe Torre and learend a lot of what he knows about managing from him (so what would be the point of the shake up?). He isn't assertive. Have I mentioned he has NO MANAGING EXPERIENCE. I love the guy. Really I do. But I want someone who has managed a team before. And if we are going to make a change (which is the right move), let's actually make a change. Don Mattingly is going to basically be Joe Torre.

Tony Pena. The players love him, especially the young guys. He has an ability to connect with people instantly, you can see that, and you love that. Has a personality that would be very good for the Yankees right now. Has managing experience. More importantly, has experience managing a team where a majority of its top players are very young, which is the team the Yankees will have next year. Very different from Joe Torre. Won a Manager of the Year, so we know not only does he have experience, but he can manage. His only problem is there is a definitively better candidate.

Joe Girardi. Really a perfect fit for the job. Young. Former catcher. Total opposite of Joe Torre. Has a repoire with all of the Yankees veterans. As a former catcher, will be perfect for the young arms that are going to be the centerpiece of this team in 2008 and beyond. Anyone who has watched him in the YES booth knows how incredibly intelligent he is when it comes to pitchers and pitching. Actually, he is intelligent about every aspect of the game. And this is his main selling point. He is a mix between old and new school. Yes, he is a student of the game, in the most ancient sense of the term. But he is also very open to all of the new ways of thinking available to present day managers. He was said to be a tireless worker in Florida, using all of the information he could get his hands on to make himself, his players, and his team players, blending the old of baseball with the new. This is what the Yankees need. I can understand the concern that his fire might be too much for veterans on the club who are used to Torre. But the fact that Girardi has played with Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, and Rivera will give him the backing he needs, and maybe they will even like the change to a more enthusiastic and emotional managerial personality. Further, young players feed of that stuff, so he'll be golden with them. The main issue would be the media and if he ever felt threatened by the front office. As we saw in Florida, it has the potential to be an explosive situation. And that was Florida. But all in all, this isn't enough to keep this guy out of the Yankees dugout. He is exactly what the Yankees need.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Joe Torre

I wrote a very sarcastic post below, but the principles underlying it are truths. Eric Wedge and Terry Francona had just about nothing, if anything at all, to do with the outcome of that series. Just like every manager in every postseason series. I know DV and Bronx in particular have been very critical of Joe Torre's body of work since 2000, so that post may seem like a shot at them. It is not, because they are just reitterating what many people, both Yankees fans and not, feel about Torre and the Yankees recently. You have a great team. Win the World Series often. If you don't, at least a big part of that falls on Joe Torre.

This is ridiculous, and I am going to break down why in detail. But it all comes back to one simple idea.

YOU CANNOT BUILD OR MANAGE A TEAM IN A WAY THAT IMPACTS POSTSEAONS SUCCESS. It is a crapshoot. A test of who is hottest. Of who gets the big hits. Of who gets the unexpected big pitching performance from a no-namer. Of whose ace actually pitches like one. Etc. This is applicable to General Managers as well, but for now we'll just keep it to managers and Joe Torre.

With this point in mind, it is also important to note that managers don't have an incredible amount of impact on their team in comparison to say a football or basketball coach. Often times when we praise or criticize a manager in baseball, we are just doing so because there team has or has not performed. DV, and many others, often bring up Torre's poor managerial record prior to coming to the Yankees. You know what is chiefly responsible for that? He had bad players. A lot of people point out Torre's outstanding record since coming to the Yankees. You know what is chiefly responsible for that? He had good players.

This is what leads us to the most important point about Joe Torre individually, and what makes him not an okay manager, not a good manager, but a great manager. Because we cannot diminish the role of a baseball manager totally. No, it is not basketball or football where perhaps a great system or playbook can make a team play above it's talent level. But it does have great importance. Most notably, if you are a manager that has a great team, make sure they get great results over 162 games. Over that large sample size, a good or great team should be able to flex it's muscle. For a team like the Yankees, with that level of talent, it HAS to. Not making the playoffs is unacceptable. Joe Torre. 12-12.

Before you tell me that a lot of managers could do this, consider how long 12 years is. Also conisder the Mets and Willie Randolph this year. A team that had by so far and away the best talent (and most money) in the National League, wasn't the best over 162 games. They played it cool over the summer, showing up when they had to, and then paniced in September. Part of that personality that caused their demise falls on the manager. This never happened to Joe Torre. Consider the 2006 Red Sox. A team that entered Aug. 1 with the best record in the AL East and missed the playoffs completely, and now are in the World Series with essentially the same team. Yes, Francona deserves some credit for the way his team played over 162 this year. He also deserves the same amount of blame for the way the same team played last year, where he lost at least some of his players (Manny), when he needed them most. This never happened to Joe Torre.

There are countless other ways of showing just how difficult 12-12 playoff appearances is, no matter how good your team. Since 1996 when Joe Torre took over as manager, 22 teams have played in the World Series (not including this year). Of those teams, none besides the Yankees and Braves have made the playoffs for two consecutive seasons after they made the World Series. If you take out the Yankees' six appearances and the Braves' two, that leaves 14 teams to participate in the WS. Of them, only the '97 Indians, the '02 Giants, and the '04 Red Sox and Cardinals made the playoffs in the following year. Ten teams since '96 who made the playoffs and won it all couldn't even get back there the following season.

This shows you that it isn't easy to get to the playoffs. Joe Torre. 12-12. And I'm still holding that the manager doesn't have too much influence on this. To get to the playoffs 12 years in a row, you have to have good players. And that he did. But what he could influence, he did. And mostly, that is avoiding disaster (Mets '07). Never lose your team. Make sure they play hard and don't quit. Maneuver around injuries. Mostly just make sure that your team plays to it's potential over 162 games. Joe Torre did that every single year. 100%. Didn't fail once, like many other managers in baseball, not just Randolph '07 and Francona '06, did over that timespan.

We can sit here and criticize Joe Torre, or any manager, for their in game tactics. I am certainly one to do it often, especailly in the heat of the season. But when you step back and look at it, it really doesn't matter that much, as long as, once again, the tactics aren't disastrous. NoMaas, who I respect a lot as baseball people, thinks Torre plays too much small ball, and that he should sit back and let the offense go to work. I, on the other hand, get on him for not playing enough small ball. And I'd like to think I know something about baseball. So two people who know about baseball criticize the manager in two totally different ways on the same subject matter. Can't win. And I understand that.

I'm also the first one to criticize Torre's use of his bullpen. And it is true, he has ruined or shortened a few careers. But at the end of the day, he got the most out of every one of these arms for at least one year. Then the Yankees found a new one the next year. And each year they made the playoffs. So maybe there is something to the idea that these middle relievers are expendible, and can be burned for the teams' benefit. Maybe not. A lot of the managers who save their relievers have them nice and rested...and then don't make the playoffs. Who knows. I don't. And neither do you. It worked for Torre.

Finally, and most importantly, what a manager does in the playoffs REALLY has very little impact on the outcome of a series. Again, I'm right there nitpicking his every decision every October. But at the end of the day, playing Matsui over Duncan or vica versa matters very little. What did the Yankees in this year was a 19 game winner two years running absolutely stunk the joint out in two of the four games. Nothing else. He pitches well, they probably win the series. Same goes for Eric Wedge and C.C. Sabathia and/or Fausto Carmona. Same goes for Terry Francona and Josh Beckett. Every series has one, and it is rarely if ever the manager.

Joe Torre didn't make Scott Brosius, a pedestrian offensive player, get every big hit he could possibly get in the postseason during the championship years. He also didn't make A-Rod and Matsui's bats go silent '04''06. Nor was he responsible for Chien-Ming Wang this year. Players decide October, not managers. But players are humans, not robots. Teams need to be managed (not coached, hence the term), over 162 games. There are injuries, personalities, slumps, motivational issues, lineup shakeups, etc. that need to be maneuvered around in order to give your team the best chance to win over 162. Joe Torre did this every single year. The regular season accomplishments the Yankees have had under him stand on their own. No one else has even been close.

And at the end of the day, that is the only thing he has had any influence over. There was never a miss the playoffs disaster. He had good players, and they always played well over 162. No matter what. He got lucky and managed some really clutch teams '96-'00. The '01-'07 teams weren't so clutch. But they were there every year, and part of that is on him. We will criticize the next manager too. Let's just hope that we can criticize him in October, because it isn't that easy to get there. Joe Torre. 12-12.

All Eric Wedge's Fault, Francona's a Genius

Eric Wedge, he's such an idiot, it's his fault his team didn't win. Just like Joe Torre. It's his fault his two best pitchers, who were two of the best in the game, pitched terribly in all four of their combined starts. It's his fault his DH couldn't get a hit. It's his fault that two of his bullpen arms, each of whom recorded ERA's under 2.00 on the season, imploded at different points in time. All of these things are Eric Wedge's fault, and it is his fault the Indians lost this series. Just like Joe Torre.

Terry Francona, what a genius. Too bad Joe Torre couldn't have been more like him. Francona won this series for Boston. By himself. He showed Beckett how to pitch like that. He showed J.D. Drew, who hadn't had a meaningful hit in his career, how to hit the Grand Slam that ended the series. He showed Kevin Youkilis how to be the 2007 version of Mickey Mantle. What a manager. Joe Torre should pay attention to the way Francona manages. It will be a full proof way to win the World Series at his next managing job. After all, 12 strait playoff appearances and four World Series Championships is an "embarassment" and a "failure". But he didn't win it every year, and every year they lost, it was his fault. He should be more like Francona, who won this series for Boston. By himself, because his players played great. But he is more like Eric Wedge, who lost this series for Cleveland because his players didn't play well.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cheating Rafaels Beside Palmeiro

Nobody is going to tell you about this, because sports media is hideously two-faced and soft about steroid users in all sports, except for maybe track and cycling. Instead, you're going to hear about his unbelievably great season, and his unstoppability (yeah, I just made that word up) during this year's American League Championship Series.

What a wonderful story, I read in the Herald a few days ago. Indians' reliever Rafael Betancourt, who apparently used to be in the Sox' organization in the late '90s, transformed his career in Boston's system as he used to be a shortstop. He converted himself into a relief pitcher, and then dealt with a bunch of injuries. Then, in 2002, everything changed, writes Alex Speier:

After Betancourt pitched in winter ball in 2002, the Indians took a flier on him. Betancourt dominated, producing a 1.73 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 52 innings at two minor league levels in 2003. The performance earned a call to the majors, and Betancourt hasn’t looked back.

Heartwarming. This is the way the article ended. There was no mention of his steroid suspension days before Rafael Palmeiro got busted. Nor was there in any Betancourt-related article in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer (at least not lately). I understand that it was over two years, ago, but I think it's say that the media claims to take such a hard stance on steroids, talking about how they're ruining sports, but fail to even mention which guys are the ones dumb enough to get caught. This should go for Giambi, Betancourt, Juan Rincon (whoa, I bet you didn't know about that one--who's to blame for it?), and anyone who's been busted. The problem goes beyond Barry Bonds and Rick Ankiel.

The only article I've read all week that even mentions Betancourt's drug abuse was Bill Simmons's running diary. I'm not his biggest fan, but you gotta give the guy credit for actually either remembering something from so long ago or actually doing his homework.

New news that broke after I was planning on writing this Betancourt post is the news on Paul Byrd getting busted for buying 25 grand worth of HGH and possibly dealing it. Wow. This will get plenty of press, and provide yet another distraction for the Indians. The last few days are reminding me a little bit of the Sunday front nine during Happy Gilmore's Tour Championship: things just keep on getting worse. Look at the cabbage they're in now.

The Mitchell steroids investigation is something I'm sure Pat and I will talk about immensely upon the end of this postseason. They're saying they're going to name names and everything like that.

But what's the point of naming names if those names are just going to be forgotten in a few days anyway?

I'm Picking The Dolphins

I didn't get up in time to confirm this, but I'm pretty sure the sun rose in the west today. After last night, I don't really know what to think about the world. There are only a few things I know about this world: The sun rises in the east, Pat hates Dustin Pedroia, the Patriots win every week, and Nancy Drew will choke in any important situation with runners on base.

Of course, that last thing didn't happen last night. Nancy drilled a grand slam to center field last night, effectively ending the conversation of "Fausto Carmona's going to bounce back big time" and amplifying the aforementioned panic of Indians fans around the world. It wasn't even a particularly bad pitch (though it wasn't good...and Josh Beckett once said "good pitches don't get hit"). Drew just decided he wasn't going to bust out the "weak ground ball to the right side" swing and do what he was brought here to do: drive the ball. Good for him. More on this later on.

Schilling pitched okay. I definitely don't consider last night one of the best outings of the season, and it was nowhere near where he was during the brilliant Game 3 outing against Anaheim. But, on the other hand, he wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. There were plenty of Boston fans wondering if he was going to bounce back, or if Game 2 against Cleveland was an indicator of things to come. Maybe the Future Devil Ray was finally far enough over the hill that he was starting to pitch like a Current Devil Ray. It was weird, because he had pitched so friggin well only six days earlier. I argued it was just a bad start, and that even the 2007 version of Beckett had bad starts.

I'm going to sound McCarver-obvious, but this game was far from over after Nancy's home run, no matter what Shaughnessy wrote in today's Globe. Big props to the folks responsible for the third-inning six-run explosion, especially Fausto Carmona. Walking guys to start an inning is usually not a good way to go. I'm going to sound obnoxious and arrogant by saying this, but it looks like all the "he totally got over those back-to-back Ortiz walkoffs in 2006" theorists were wrong. Props to Lugo for his big hit and props to (gulp) Ellsbury by making another argument about why poor Coco shouldn't be in the lineup.

Another reason why the Patriots are gonna lose today is the fact that Eric Gagne inexplicably got the ball to protect a ten-run lead last night and he actually did it! Gagne pitched a 1-2-3 inning. A Nancy Drew grand slam in a huge spot accompanied by an Eric Gagne 1-2-3 inning means that nothing in sports will make sense this weekend. Dolphins, 38-17.

I understand that people have a right to get excited about Nancy's home run last night. The fact that he did a fist pump rounding the bases suggested that he actually cared about this one, too, which is nice. And it's definitely true that he FINALLY did what the Red Sox are paying him to do. But let's not go overboard here. The number of times I heard the term "worth every penny" on TV last night was more than one. I understand that this team spends $160 million to win a World Series, but $70 million for one swing after an entire season (and it could be five seasons) of futility? These are the same people who will threaten to jump off the Tobin Bridge if Boston loses tonight. Talk about hyperbole.

Nancy Drew did not solve the Mystery of the Seventy-Million Dollar Contract Saturday night. But he certainly provided us with some clues.

I'm Back, Dustin Pedroia, and Joe Torre

I was over in Ireland for a family wedding for about 10 days, so I apologize for the lack of activity on my end. It was probably for the best, as I it gave DV and the boys some space to let the Red Sox talk take over, as it should.

A lot happened while I was away, with both teams. I was able to follow pretty much all of it. It seems like we had an absolute field day with the Yankees on this blog. I really don't have much to say about a lot of it, as it can mostly be chalked up to what happens after a tough series loss. Question the general manager, the manager, players who didn't peform, etc. The only thing I want to talk about, and am going to talk about at great length, is Joe Torre, his run as the Yankees manager, and his mistreatment on this blog, not only by DV but by pretty much every commentor. With everybody else (Cashman, Wang, A-Rod), it is a matter of opinions, of which there are many and rightfully so. With Torre it is a matter of facts. More on this later.

The only other thing I want to talk about is Dustin Pedroia. You have no idea how happy it makes me that the 'Lil Slapper Who Could did that. It is well publicized that I don't like Dustin Pedroia. I also admit this isn't for anything else other than he is a Red Sox who annoys me with his intensity, and if he was a Yankee I would probably love him. That said, this play is simply phenomenal. Not even because a self-proclaimed "intense" 5'7" midget made about as fairyish a play as you can make (although this factors in!). It is, obviously, more because of the way Boston, their players, and their fans reacted when A-Rod made the exact same play. I was highly critical of this play myself. But if I could somehow re-create a list on this blog of the away messages, profiles, quotes, etc. from the hundred or so Red Sox fans I know after A-Rod made that play, I would. The high comedy would be incredible. "The (you fill in the blank--expletive) play of all time by that (you fill in the blank--expletive) A-Rod." Not to mention Schilling and Nixon, who had a field day with it for the enitre off-season. "Bush league!" I wonder if it is all these things now that the 'Lil Slapper That Could made the exact same play. Just hysterical.

Friday, October 19, 2007

That's the smell of panic

Unlike Manny Ramirez, who isn't really panicking much about the possibility of the Red Sox' season being over (and that's all he was trying to say in those comments, so shut up, you idiots), you can tell that there is a little bit of panic in Cleveland right now.

The 7-run inning against Tim Wakefield and Manny Delcarmen seems to be a long way away. Since then, there have been back-to-back-to-back home runs, an off-day, a night where C.C. Sabathia really didn't look good (he looked worse than in Game 1, I think), and a dominant performance by Josh Beckett. The Good Beckett really showed up last night, as he has many times this season.

The breaking ball was making people look silly, and that's what happens when he's really on. After all, he retired six...no...ten...no...nine Indians in a row according to Tim McCarver. What a hack. Nevermind Beckett's overpowering fastball. There were shades of that Anaheim game last year, which I think was the best game I've ever seen him pitch. And the way he goes out there, there's actually very little fear that he's going to get out of jams. As much crappy stuff I've said about this guy, especially at the beginning of the year, I'll give him credit. I haven't felt this way since the good Pedro years.

It was very nice to see Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis actually start to hit the ball again. Them getting on base so that Ortiz can do something is crucial to this team's success, even if it means he's hitting a sac fly every time up.

It would be nice if Coco got another hit in a Red Sox uniform. But that's likely not going to happen, as even I believe he's earned a spot on the bench in favor of Ellsbury, at least for tomorrow night. He looks more lost at the plate right now than he has been all season. Forget the botched bunt--he's chasing balls out of the strike zone and looking really, really, really bad while doing it. Meanwhile, Ellsbury honestly did get over a month's worth of at-bats, and that's enough to prove he deserves at least a shot.

When the Sox actually started running up the score, that whole rowdy dynamic at Jacobs Field died off considerably. You could tell that those fans were panicking. And if you read Cleveland.com, it just confirms this notion. The Indians aren't really too too confident about Fausto Carmona pitching another beauty tomorrow night. Schilling is just coming off of a bad start, nothing more. It seems like Cleveland fans are panicking, while Boston fans have, for better or for worse, may have already written off the season three days ago. I can't believe I'm saying it, but I'm excited because there's more panic there than here.

P.S. It's hilarious how everyone--everyone--is seeing right through the tasteless move the Yankees pulled on Joe Torre. Randy Levine and the younger Steinbrenners are a complete laughingstock right now, and that's great.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Well, Joe, in life, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end

...including this incessant "is Torre staying, is Torre going, is Torre staying, is Torre going" kind of thing. It was more of a tired topic than my Coco Crisp gimmick.

Before Bronx's comment on Torre unfortunately buried underneath ten more on my last post, I had a little bit of an opportunity to mull the entire Yankees 1-year, $5 million offer, which would have still made him the highest-paid manager in baseball. The performance incentives are definitely something I hadn't really heard about before, but it definitely was an interesting way of doing business. It actually reminded me a lot of what sometimes happens to player (most notably, what's rumored to happen to Andruw Jones this coming offseason).

You had a bad season, you had a series of bad seasons, and we don't want to pay you. However, if you're hungry enough to want a long-term deal (something that is very doubtful in the case of Torre, if you think about it, as he's not getting any younger), you best perform in this mofo. Happened for Nomar, gonna happen for Jones, and maybe the Yankees were sending Torre a message of "you're no more respected than a player." For whatever it's worth.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I'm a HUGE Torre detractor, and I think what he's done with this team, especially in the last seven years, ought to be viewed as an absolute embarrassment. He's had the best players on paper. He's had monster performances, especially by everyone unexpected in 2006 and A-Rod, Jeter, and Posada in 2007. His pitching tools...okay, maybe not flawless, but probably good enough to get by. A team with the guns the Yankees had has no business doing anything but winning the division by about ten games. But somehow, they didn't.

But still, giving essentially a one-year job interview to such a tenured veteran of baseball, especially someone who for some reason has commanded perhaps an unprecedented level of respect, is certainly a slimy thing to do. I didn't see Randy Levine's impersonation of Randy Parker on Christmas morning, but from what Bronx wrote, it sounded like a pretty low thing to do. Upon any kind of thinking, however, you can tell that Bronx was right: The Yankees definitely tried to throw Torre under the bus by getting fans to think "he turned down a lucrative contract to add a thirteenth year to what he said were the twelve best years of his life!" And why throw a made man (Bronx's term) under the bus? Look what happened when Tommy DeVito did it. Not a good way for Levine/the Steinbrenner sons to start, as far as public relations go.

But at least they don't make Yankee fans buy membership cards so they can prove their fandom to their friends. And at least they don't whore our their ballpark for a dating show. I digress.

Of course, this debate is gonna make this Torre/Yankees thing drag on even longer. Unfortunately, in life some bad things never seem to come to an end.

The End of an Era

Thursday or Saturday could mark the end of possibly the most unfair era in Red Sox history. Upon the conclusion of Boston's participation of the postseason, center fielder #10 Coco Crisp will have likely played his last game in a Red Sox uniform.

The Red Sox are ready to start 2005 first-round draft pick Jacoby Ellsbury in center field in 2008, and deservedly so. His speed and defense are tantamount, if not superior to Crisp's, and he has better offensive skills as well. He has been compared to a young version of Johnny Damon.

Of course, it was Damon to whom Crisp has been compared since the day he arrived. Crisp has been scorned his entire career in Boston because no matter what he did, he couldn't one-up whatever Johnny Damon did in his four years with the Red Sox. From the leadoff spot, to the CF position, to the Red Sox Propaganda Nation Card spokesman, he was expected to fill the role vacated by Damon when he decided to leave Boston for New York (who, by the way, did not offer him the most lucrative contract in that off-season's bidding war: Baltimore and the Dodgers both outbid the Yankees).

"Coco Crisp is not Johnny Damon," said Theo Epstein, as quoted in a January, 2006 Chris Snow article in the Boston Globe. "He's his own player, and he brings his own strengths. Johnny was an outstanding, elite leadoff hitter and center fielder. It'd be unfair to ask Coco to fill those shoes."

Unfortunately, those dumb, stupid Boston fans (and bloggers) expected him to do just that, and ignored the immeasurable positive impact he made during his two years here. Including the best defense I've seen in my life and a torrid 41-game stretch in which he hit .366 and OPS'ed .996, a main reason this team won the AL East, Coco Crisp made countless positive contributions to the Boston Red Sox in 2006 and 2007. However, all he'll be remembered for is being the guy who couldn't escape Johnny Damon's shadow.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Possibly The Last Red Sox Game Preview of 2007

I just kinda realized that I wrote all there is to write in the previous comments section, as far as Francona and the decision to pitch Wakefield last night goes. Clearly, Wakefield didn't have it, specifically in the fifth inning. Before that inning he pitched quite well. But that's the nature of the knuckleball. Too bad Travis Hafner couldn't go up there every time, because he looked especially silly against Wakefield.

One more thing: A comment on the comebacker. That could have been a double play if Wakefield let it go by. It could have been a double play had he caught the ball. It was just bad luck, as Dale and Holley were saying early this afternoon on WEEI. Little plays like that--or like Youkilis catching that foul ball--can tilt a game one way or another, and you can't help but say the Red Sox were unlucky.

Of course, as I believe Thomas Jefferson once said, the harder you work, the more good luck you get? Good luck usually pays off when your lineup is as good as Cleveland's. More to say about that in a bit.

It is still very possible for the Red Sox to somehow pull this series out of their butt, as I wrote earlier today. Beckett's pitching tomorrow, and as good as Sabathia is, he's going to have to pitch a no-hitter to outpitch Beckett tomorrow night. Bear with me as I write off Game 5 as a Boston win, putting the series at 3-2.

I don't understand why everyone is so quick to write off Curt Schilling as toast after one bad outing in Game 2. Granted, he was pretty friggin bad in Game 2. But has he really fallen off that much from where he was on October 7, when he pitched that gem to clinch the ALDS? As crazy as it is (and believe me, because that's the day I ran my marathon), that Sunday was only ten days ago. Pitchers (even Beckett) have bad outings. It doesn't mean their season is over. Once again, bear with me and consider the possibility that this series could still very much go seven.

If I had more than an hour a day to work on this blog, I'd write more about Manny's pimping of his home run, about which Shaughnessy pulled an overreaction of about a 7 on a scale from one to Joe Buck. A more notable part of Manny Being Manny this week was his press conference, as he gave a lot of "if we lose, there's always next year" kind of comments. I understand the virtues of patience, and the fact that it's probably coming from the front office to some extent (after all, they shut down Buchholz and are placing other priorities over winning this year). But when you are seven wins away from the World Series, you have to have a little bit of urgency. When you spend over $200 million in an offseason, it's no longer a rebuilding year. It's time to win now.

The fact that, according to Manny, the clubhouse is "relaxed," is a problem with me. This team has not played with a sense of urgency since John called me on the phone every time Nancy Drew got a hit. I wish someone were in there to light some firecrackers in that clubhouse. Maybe Vince Coleman's got a free night this weekend.

The Cleveland lineup is better than the Red Sox' lineup, from top to bottom, minus the exception of a healthy Ortiz, Manny, and maybe Mike Lowell. There's not a single easy out in their entire lineup, and nothing but props to Mark Shapiro for so many years of rebuilding, not bailing on his boys after the 2005 collapse and 2006 underachievement. I've believed for at least three seasons now that his front office has the most consistent philosophy, and the fact that his boys are a win away from the World Series is a testament to his patience, hard work, and willingness to sign injury-prone right fielders on the wrong side of their thirties with immense trouble against lefties (.224 this season) to one-year contracts instead of five-year contracts. The difference between $3 million and $70 million in this case is irrelevant.

I mentioned in a post-marathon interview that I'd like to have dinner with Coco Crisp and Dustin Pedroia. I would especially like to do that tomorrow night. I'd tell them to GET A FRIGGIN HIT! I understand that they've both contributed profoundly to get the Red Sox to where they are, but it means nothing if they don't get a hit now.

I would also be scared that if I said something like that, Pedroia would slap my dinner out of my hands. His A-Rod impersonation last night didn't get much press because he was unsuccessful, but there is ABSOLUTELY no excuse for what he did.

If you made it all the way through this post, I appreciate it. I had a lot to say. Hopefully you'll have a lot to say in the comments. Hopefully the Sox can pull something out tomorrow.

And hopefully Featherston didn't actually jump off the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the last week. I haven't heard anything from that crazy dude since his last post on HYD.