Sunday, April 18, 2010

What the F Do You Do At Fort Myers?

This is a serious question. Pitchers and catchers reported to Fort Myers on February 19th. Position players reported on February 22nd. That is two freaking months ago. Everyone on the team theoretically did conditioning, training, complaining about sore shoulders after surgery, and baseball fundamentals for two weeks, then played four freaking weeks of practice games, minor league games, and halves of major league games that didn't count. Therefore, there are some fundamental things that shouldn't be happening, you know, when the games start to count:

-Routine fly balls dropped by outfielders.
-Routine fly balls going over outfielders' heads.
-Third basemen crashing into left fielders on pop-ups.
-Shortstops crashing into left fielders on pop-ups.
-Fast guys trying to stretch routine singles into doubles.
-Slow guys trying to stretch Fenway Park wall-ball singles into doubles.
-Third base coaches waving runners in with no outs and arguably your two hottest hitters up next.
-Catchers throwing the ball into center field.
-Pitchers looking clueless fielding their position and throwing balls in the dirt to first.
-Utility guys looking more uncomfortable in the outfield than Kyle Lohse did this weekend.
-A guy once dubbed the "Next Mickey Mantle" looking like he was facing Saturday's version of Ubaldo Jimenez every single game of the season. The same guy, known for a keen eye, leading the league in strikeouts.
-A top-five lefty in the league not realizing that the baseball season starts on April 4th, not June 4th, year after year after year.

These things are all baseball fundamentals and things that should be resolved before the freaking season starts. It makes me start to wonder what the F these guys do all spring. I've spent enough time in the industry to know that there's more golf than baseball activities during these six weeks, and to know that there is either social or financial discipline (or both) for players working the count in spring training games. And I also know that the media, hungry for stories when there are no stories to be told, gets in the way of some things, especially now with blogs being the norm for most metropolitan newspapers. But after watching the first twelve games in the 2010 Red Sox season, I am wondering if these guys ever work on fundamentals or ever work on preparing themselves for the season. It looks like the mid-1960s country club "Gold Sox" culture again. Wouldn't be a problem if they're winning. But they're 4-8.

Maybe the arrogant general manager is so high on his own perceived brilliance that he thinks his Gold Glove run-prevention defense will take care of itself, like they're fielders on Nintendo baseball in the early 90s who automatically catch everything that comes close to them. Perhaps because of this assumption, he and the over-loyal manager decided that baseball fundamentals were not necessary to spend too much time on this spring. Maybe the arrogant leadoff hitter is so high on his perceived brilliance that he can make completely boneheaded baserunning moves because he has the speed to make up for it. Well, Usain Bolt couldn't have made it to second on that play. Maybe nobody told Adrian Beltre about how things work at Fenway Park, where the wall is close to second base and wall-balls aren't automatic doubles.

These are all things that should not have happened. And if these games ultimately cost the team a playoff spot, the manager and the general manager should both take the fall with their jobs.

Jon Lester needs to wake up and realize that the baseball season is underway, and that these games count as much as the games in September.

Mike Cameron needs to learn how to drink unleaded coffee and have it dawn on him that he was brought in to catch balls that wouldn't be caught by most outfielders, not the other way around. Coco Crisp didn't get a free pass for a kidney stone; why should he?

JD Drew is an absolute embarrassment. He's got a great eye, I've heard. If you have a great eye, you don't lead the league in strikeouts. Theo Epstein should be absolutely ashamed of himself for all of his Drew-pimping he's done, because, as I postulated last week, this is not a new thing. He has been a complete drain on this team for extended stretches multiple times throughout his career here. Yeah, I did the research:

In 2007, he posted the following stretches.
April 24-June 6: 121 PA, 5-101, 0 HR, 20 , 3 GIDP, .487 OPS.
Within this stretch, over 35 plate appearances, he went 3-28, 8 K, 2 GIDP. After 7 hits in 3 days against his brother's team, he went 0 for his next 12 with 3 more K's.
Later in the year, he went 11-65 in 74 PAs, 16K, .503 OPS.
He also went 7-47 in 57 subsequent PAs, 12K, .497 OPS.

In 2008, he had these gems. People only remember June and one at-bat in October.
37 PAs, 4-31, 7 K, 3 GIDP
52 PAs, 6-40, 8K, 3 GIDP
19 PAs, 2-17, 3K in the team's last 42 games, during which he never went on the DL.

In 2009...
26 PAs, 2-22,8K, 3 GIDP
1-16, 1K
57 PAs, 3-47, 18K

I thought you were gonna ask me about that. Is it time to look past the one month, two home runs, and one line on the stat sheet? This guy is a complete disaster.


Anonymous said...


I saw Peter Abraham refer to the front office approach this year, especially in terms of the defense as "win prevention." So far, he's right on target.

But in all seriousness, this team looks awful. Defensively they have been pathetic. You mention the dropped fly balls--you might see two or three in an entire season. There have been that many thus far. The shame of this situation is that the offense has been even worse. And nothing was more telling than having the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th on Saturday with no outs and not getting a run home. That's inexcusable. You get that run, you get a win. They got neither. And really, you knew Ortiz wasn't coming through there--and with Victor Martinez on the bench, you'd have thought that would be THE time to pinch-hit for Ortiz. But that's not what happened and the Sox lost. And I have a feeling we'll be dealing with that type of result more often than we should this year.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

You gotta admit, however, that Victor is a GIDP machine right now.

But yes, this is going to happen all season, especially early because Francona prioritizes getting the work in over winning baseball games. This is not spring training.

Patrick said...

i would say on a scale where 1 is mild frustration with a series and 10 is my 2007 outburst, this was a solid 7.

in about a month lester will decide he's one of the 10 or so best pitchers in baseball just as he always does. that will get coupled with lackey's consistency, beckett going on one of his hot streaks, and at least one of wakefield/buchholz/matsuzaka pitching well, and the sox will win 15 of 20.

the concern remains if this team will be able to win when they don't get dominant starting pitching. we touched on this after the yankees' series talking about if they could grind out enough at bats when they aren't going well offensively. so far they have not done that in favor of rolling over a lot with the bats. to a certain extent this was to be expected. you look at the sox offense on paper and you see a team that could be really good, could be not so good, and will probably end up being above average largely due to some torrid streaks at home.

perhaps more concerning, because it was not expected, is the sloppy nature of their play thus far. not just defensively, but on the basepaths and otherwise. there was certainly an expectation that even when they weren't getting dominant starting pitching, their defense and play in other areas would be tightening things up. so far that has not happened. the good thing is this is a lot easier to correct, and i fully expect them to. they just happened to hit a rough patch early. i am no stranger to that as a yankees fan. what will probably go a long way towards deciding what kind of season the sox are going to have is if they can get the offense straightened out. they are certainly capable, but something has to change. the first thing you look at is the lineup, but i'm just not sure how you do that.

Anonymous said...

DV - Good post.

Here's another question- Is there any reason you wouldn't run on the Red Sox at every opportunity?

To answer your question, I don't know what they were doing at Fort Myers. Probably practicing calculating OBP and learning why RBIs don't matter.

Some of this stuff you can put on management, some of it you can't. Whatever you might practice in spring training isn't really going to make up for a complete lack of focus, general stupidity, or unsubstantiated hubris.

I have always been a believer that when professional athletes fail to excute at a high school level, it's hard to put that on the manager or general manager. You have to expect that your guys or going to come through on those types of plays.

To put it in the context of business, that would be like me committing 15 spelling errors in an email, but then having someone put the blame on my boss for not having me practice spelling at the beginning of each quarter. In other words, I generally go more toward player accountability on issues like this.

One other thing I would point out is that the Rays might be my least favorite team in major league baseball, even moreso than the Yankees. At least with the Yankees, you have the excitement of the rivalry, plus I can send offensive text messages to Ross Kaplan all day long, knowing that he won't have the courage or fortitude to fight back.

The Rays are just an annoyance through and through. I don't really like their players/manager, they don't have fans, and they continue to beat up on the Red Sox, who even in a down year like this still have (I feel) a better overall team. They just drive me crazy. They're like the University of Southern Maine of the MLB. Not at all relevant at any level, but annoying none the less.

Two last random points:

- Garnett is an idiot and Paul Pierce is a drama queen.

- The trailer for "The Other Guys" starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg looks absolutely hilarious. I'm hoping Will Ferrell can revive his languishing career in this movie.


Ross Kaplan said...

Wow great call from Jon Bandi. Just watched that trailer, you have to love the cameo from the former CFO of Dunder Mifflin.

So I was at the gym earlier and much to my surprise and delight, something other then a crappy reality show was on thanks to it being Patriot's Day in Massachusetts, on a side note, if that's not the best name for a holiday than I don't know what is. So of course I'm going to watch the Red Sox-Rays over Say Yes to the Dress, and what do I see, but BJ Upton jack a 3 run shot. Even before then the crowd and the team just looked dead and we just passed the midway point in April. You know things are bad when Ortiz gets a huge hand just for drawing a full count 2 out walk. That does not bode well for Theo's team of defensive all stars.

jason said...

although tony larussa is the best manager in the majors, i still have to question some moves he made in that 20 inning game.. namely pulling holiday so early in a double switch, then having pujols intentionally walked 3 times after that with a pitcher coming up

Patrick said...

mike vaccaro, a columnist for the new york post, said something along the lines of tony larussa managed that game as if it was an inconveniencing his time with crossword puzzles and sudoku. he was making the point that if the mets fire manuel, how much of an impact would it really have, because a manager can only do so much. i agree with this point, and it relates to bandi's point above that at some point, for baseball in particular, it's about your players performing. both a general manager and a manager are usually responsible for the players that are there, so they do have to answer for that. but once the players are there, a lot of it is on the players themselves to perform to their capabilities. i do believe the manager sill needs to do his job well, and that his ability to do this impacts the team. but again, at some point the players have to do their jobs, and if they aren't that may be largely outside the manager's reach. outside of maybe the DH issue, francona seems to be doing his job, and the players just aren't getting it done.

Anonymous said...

I want to see how j flu feels about the derogatory usm comments. It may be april nineteenth but francona has to flip a buffet table. I can't type on a phone.

The gm at the boston event.