Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lessons Learned in the Dodgers Series

A good series sweep for the Red Sox this weekend. We also learned a lot of things during this series. Here goes:

-We learned the power of pinstripes. Manny Ramirez got a significantly better reception than Johnny Damon did when he was welcomed back to Fenway Park. Let's see what they did differently while running themselves out of town.

Similarities include the following: Talking contract at an inappropriate time, general Scott Boras underhandedness in negotations, and talking way too much crap on their way out. Saying that the secret negotiations with the Yankees balance out the negotiations with the Dodgers to make sure Manny's contract is not extended, we can keep that all equal. Bringing World Series titles can also be held equal. So this leaves the following:

Manny faked injuries, dogged it on the field, fought Youkilis, pushed Jack McCormick, and pissed off his entire team to the point that they unanimously voted that he had to be traded. Damon went to New York after saying he wasn't going to. Apparently the latter is more unforgivable to quite a few people, as there were definitely people who booed Damon but cheered Manny.

Of course, I would have booed both.

-We got statistical proof tonight that Clay Buchholz is one of the best pitchers in baseball. He could have thirteen wins by the All-Star break. He did not have the best command of his pitches today, especially not his curveball. But his fastball and his pitch selection tonight was superb.

-Felix Doubront is 22 years old. He's not there yet, but he very well might be better than an Abe Alvarez spot starter someday. I have a feeling he'll end up as trade bait (more on this Tuesday night), but he got the job done and then some on Friday.

-Beltre hit a home run and a double from one knee this weekend. He also made an impressive stab at third base that Mike Lowell may have had, but may not have had. As he has not been officially implicated in any steroids scandal, he is slowly becoming one of my favorite players on this team.

-LA is not a bad team, and they did not play a terrible series here in Boston. Red Sox won two out of three hard-fought games. The way the Dodgers worked the count in the first inning Sunday night was impressive. Red Sox are really hitting their stride, and the fact that they're doing it without their outfield is a testament to the players and manager. I don't think the general manager--or anyone--anticipated this level of aggregate performance from the offense. Ortiz and Beltre have a lot to do with it. But if their pitching staff can continue run prevention and their offense can be one of the top-three in the league (as opposed to top-five), the Red Sox, who are now one game back, can actually win this division.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

Hope you didn't hurt yourself practicing the classic Beltre finish over the weekend.

Beltre also has blondish-reddish facial hair. I don't know what to make of that, but it certainly goes right along with all the other quirks he has.

Abe Alvarez was probably the worst spot starter I've ever seen. It amazes me that the Red Sox didn't have one other guy who could come up and spot-start back in 2004.

Buchholz is no joke. I was of the mindset that he simply wasn't mentally ready to get after it. He tended to give up big innings and could cruise along before blowing up. Last night's first inning was a great example of how much that has changed.

Can't say enough how great it is to watch the Sox battle like they have. They're right back in it. They've made up 8.5 games on Tampa in 28 days. That's amazing. And now it's really a three team race to the top with everyone more or less right where they were back on April 3rd. Should be a lot of fun.

--the Gunn

TimC said...

DV,

One key reason for the different reactions for Damon and Manny were the timing. In 2006, the crowd was still composed primarily of fans from the '03-'04 stretch that had a good understanding of everything Damon did. He came back immediately in the next season and the fans were ready for him. This weekend, we had a crowd that was much further removed from the Manny era. With his antics not being nearly as fresh in the mind as Damon's, I find it unsurprising that the reactions differed.

Also, I think that the average fan just does not see things your way here. Signing Manny represented a big shift in how the Sox competed with the rest of baseball. Unlike Damon, he was integral in two World Series winners and losing his bat proved to be a big difference in '08. He was traded to the NL while Damon made a move for the money and signed of his own free will with the enemy. In fact, most of the fans who booed probably did so just because WEEI told them to on their Friday commute.

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

On the facial hair, I'd drop a reference from the movie Fear of a Black Hat, but you have probably never seen it.

Plus, I am already injured so it doesn't matter. More on that during Tuesday night's post.

Tim C,

I usually agree with you here, but I disagree about the "free will" thing. Manny did something unprecedented by pretty much getting traded by his own free will. Not too many players can do that, but not too many players are as disrespectful as Manny was upon his last month in Boston.

Your point on the time elapsed is fair. But if you're to boo one but not both, the one to boo was Manny, not Damon. Of course, as I said, I would have booed both.

jason said...

During the manny return i was at a bar (not a new york bar so obviously not as diverse as pats experience...) and i really got the feeling that they genuinely missed manny, not just his ability to hit but also the manny being manny factor so maybe since damon never gave us much to laugh at and his departure didnt have as big of an effect on the lineup was the reason manny wasnt booed