Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Big Papi’


It was a long, frustrating season. There were many times I wanted to give up on them. Mostly I wanted to fire Farrell. But the frustration of this season doesn’t lie at just at Farrell’s door.

  1. The Missing Papi. Yes, his play was missed. More than that was probably his presence. Some of those young players needed him in tough times. It is hard to know but I suspect things would be different in the clubhouse controversies.
  2. Clubhouse Controversies. Price was seriously out of control. The fans just want you to perform as you have for years. It really isn’t complicated. But he thinks he can act like Ted Williams. I understand him being frustrated with the media, but not the fans. I didn’t think he was a good fit here, and still don’t think he was. He treatment of Eck was similar to Manny’s antics that got him gone. Part of me hopes he’s gone. Pedroia struggled with leadership during the Machado events, and not reigning in Price.
  3. Injuries. There were the guys who missed serious time, especially the starting pitchers. Stephen Wright missed the season. Rodriquez was not right even when he was pitching. Price was in and out. Fister actually had some good starts, but that you had to rely on him was crazy. But when your depth keeps getting hurt or can’t throw strikes this is what happens. But it was the injuries that hampered guys: Bogaerts, Betts and Moreland all had injuries that put them in prolonged slumps. Pedroia was having a good season before his knee became too much of a problem. Hanley’s shoulder had an unknown effect on his play.
  4. Sloppy Baseball. There were too many “error repeaters”, guys who kept making the same mistake. I love Benintendi but he ran into too many outs. He wasn’t the only one. There was some sloppy defense at times.
  5. Farrell, Farrell, Farrell. He “protected” players. Fine. But he needed to correct players. He didn’t need to protect Price in the Eck incident. He made so many mysterious moves. He’d play guys who struggled for guys who were playing well. Too many mystifying moves, and not just in the playoffs. You play Devers and put Marrero in late for defense. But Farrell plays Marrerro based on the “match ups” despite the actual statistics that screamed, play Rafael.
  6. Dombrowski. The Sale move was great. Moreland played well, but this team had no power. The pen needed help due to injuries from last season, which should have been addressed. His was a mixed report card.
  7. The B’s regressed. Some of it was injuries. Some was struggling to get out of funks or the sophomore wall. I think we’ve seen the best of Bradley. Betts and Bogaerts had injuries and should be better next year. Benintendi worked through the problems and likely learned some important lessons. But their missing production was a serious problem for this team.

This will be an interesting off season. It began with a bang. Finally Farrell was fired. He was never Dombrowski’s man. But you don’t fire a guy who just survived cancer. They should have let him go after last year’s sweep and kept Luvollo. But he lost the clubhouse in addition to the bonehead moves that probably had Dombrowski throwing darts at his picture.

  1. New manager. Looks like it will be either Alex Cora, Brad Ausmus, or Ron Gardenhire. I’m surprise Gabe Kapler isn’t in there. Of those three, I only want Cora. I’ve wanted him as manager for a few years now. He’s smart, articulate, gets analytics and builds relationships. He seems to have good EQ. Gardenhire apparently has good EQ as well, but is old school and doesn’t like the analytics that Farrell seemed to ignore or his book was a  few years old. Ausmus has a low EQ and struggles in dealing with the press. We don’t need Farrell part 2. Cora, please. Whomever it is they need to build a good staff. Perhaps Butter got complacent but they didn’t seem to fix fielding problems. Too many hitters had prolonged slumps and Porcello never quite got his mechanics figured out this year. That shouldn’t be happening. Update: Gardenhire was hired by the Tigers.
  2. New slugger. I’d like J.D. Martinez, but that would necessitate a move like trading Bradley. Both Benintendi and Betts can play center field. Bradley may help get you pitching. Hosmer is another option and he’d fill the hole at first. But they need a solid veteran slugger who can help change the club house culture like in 2013.
  3. Surgeries have begun. Ross was first, and the least significant. E-Rod’s surgery was overdue and hopefully will resolve his issue with the balky knee so he can trust it again. Hanley’s shoulder surgery was probably overdue. Perhaps he returns to a fearsome hitter instead of the shell of himself he was this year. Pedey should have one on his knee but it may be a problem going forward. This does create some short-term issues. E-Rod won’t be ready to begin 2018. This means you need Wright and Price healthy and ready to go. Assuming you keep Price after sitting him down and telling him he’s been an ass. Who knows when and for how long Pedroia will be healthy. They need a good back-up plan for him. Nunez would be a great one, if you can convince him to come back.
  4. Good-bye Chris Young. He was pretty useless this year. Does this mean Castillo gets another chance? Or does Brentz finally get a chance? Brentz may add some power to the line up. If you go for Martinez, you have Sam Travis ready to play first. He’s not really a power bat, at least yet. Unless you want to move Devers there instead of Chavis. Devers and Chavis would give you 2 power bats at the corners. I’m not sure Chavis is ready for the big leagues, so now you need Devers at 3rd with Marrero as the utility/defensive replacement. Tough decisions, to be sure.All of this is why you need a manager who can work with the young players, unlike Farrell.
  5. 6-man modified rotation? Having Wright is a big advantage if he’s healthy. He could give you one start per starter per month. Sale could get some rest throughout the season so he’s ready to dominate when you need him too. Not May but September and October. In between those irregular starts, the knuckleballer can provide long relief. Now that Farrell is gone he won’t be a pinch runner and messing up his shoulder on slides.
  6. The Unexpected Moves. Dombrowski can’t stand pat. They barely beat the Yankees, but that doesn’t mean they are the better team. The Series-bound Yankees have figured out what the Red Sox haven’t in 2 tries: how to win in the post-season. Their many young stars are progressing. The Sox have to get better too.

This is a crossroads kind of off-season. They will either get better or worse. If better they will be in contention for championships. Worse, and the next few years will be just as frustrating as this one, or more. Now is when Dombrowski has to earn his keep.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


The 2014 season seemed promising for the defending World Series champion Red Sox. They returned almost all of their starting rotation. The missing member of the 6 primary starters from the previous season was its weakest link: Dempster. The bullpen was largely intact as well. The pitching seemed to be ready to go. The one mystery was how Buchholz would bounce back from the injuries that hampered him for the 2nd half of the season.

They had a number of new players in key positions. Two were highly touted rookies Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. Ellsbury would be missed in terms of offense but they hoped to make that up with Xander’s estimated production to be far greater the Stephen Drew’s. I was not wild about the signing of Pierzynski but his offense was expected to compensate to the loss of Saltalamacchia (he was go from .273 to a paltry .220 with the Marlins). The hope was for Middlebrooks to bounce back.

The plan was slightly altered when Grady Sizemore had an awesome camp and make the opening day roster. Looked great but then he failed to produce at the same pace. Or nearly any pace.

But I get slightly ahead of myself. All the breaks that went their way in 2013 didn’t in 2014. The new replay system seemed stacked against them in the first month as everyone tried to adjust. Lots of blown calls seemed to go against them. Some of these were game changers, or so it seemed.

Another thing that went right in 2013 is that a high number of players who played above their means. They had above average seasons, often career years. Saltalamacchia, Nava, Carp had career best seasons. Papi hit exceedingly well for his age. He hit for average and power. Napoli bounced back to have a good offensive season as did Victorino. Part of what went wrong was regression to mean for the players still on the roster, and not on the injured list.

The main problems initially were a lack of production from the outfield. Nava was pressing and in a big slump to start the season. Victorino was hurt and the combination of Sizemore and Bradley hit about .220. Middlebrooks continued to struggle. The offense was stagnant. Even Pedroia and Papi got off to a slow start. Seemed like the only guys who didn’t were Napoli and Xander.

Buccholz was just plain horrible. New reliever Mujica was too, and blew some games early. Peavy just couldn’t buy a break.

And then the real problems started. Napoli injured a finger and was never the same. Middlebrooks got hurt, again. This “forced” them to re-sign Drew and shift Xander to 3rd. For the first time in his career, shortly after the switch, Xander entered a big, ugly slump. Unknown to the rest of the world, Pedroia was still hurt and not productive at the plate though he still played stellar defense. But he was the only one. Okay, Bradley was playing fantastic defense. Xander struggled at third, and they couldn’t throw a base runner out.

The changes started to come fast and furious. They gave up on Sizemore and cut him (he was hitting .216 at the time and hit a slightly more respectable .243 for the Phillies). Pierzynki was cut (he hit .254 for the Sox and would go on to the Cards and hit .244 for them on the way to the playoffs). Peavy (1-9, 4.72) was traded to San Francisco where he was 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA helping the Giants make the playoffs. Amid tons of chatter about signing an extension, Lester was traded to the A’s who he helped make the playoffs. Lackey was sent to St. Louis whom he helped make the playoffs. Noticing a theme here? Let’s not forget trading Miller to division champion Baltimore.

One plus was that Christian Vasquez had the opportunity to show he can handle a staff and throw out runners. His production was not great, but he stopped the other teams that ran at will on Boston early in the season. Those runs saved amount to something important.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


It was a roller coaster ride for Red Sox fans this weekend.  At one point they were staring into the abyss, thinking the 2011 was utterly sunk.

Picture This in Fenway!

Thursday night the Red Sox and San Diego Padres reached a deal to trade Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes for the long lusted after Adrian Gonzalez (A-Gon).  The Padres got top prospects in Kelly and Rizzo.  Sox fans have been hyping Kelly’s skills since he was drafted.  He still projects by many scouts to end up a #2 or 3 starter on a competitive team.  Rizzo has displayed the ability to hit at a high level, though there are still some pitches he struggles with at times.  He is a very good defensive first baseman.  I think he has more promise at this point than Lars Anderson has demonstrated.  I was really hoping they’d send Lars west, but was disappointed.  So, the Padres should see these guys in the Bigs in 2012.  Fuentes, if he makes it, will be later.

The Sox have coveted A-Gon for years for good reason.  He has lots of power and still hits for a high average.  Considering he hit well in a pitcher’s park, his power and average should only increase in Fenway.  Unlike Big Papi, he’s not a pull hitter.  He uses all of the field, and many of his hits are to left field.  Lots of his outs too.  But those outs will hit or fly over the Monster.

In previous seasons he struggled against lefties.  But in 2010, the light bulb went on and he hit better against lefties than righties.  One theory is that his shoulder injury forced him to use a lighter bat so he was able to wait abit longer before beginning his swing (hey, Papi & Drew- worth a shot).

He’s also a very good defender at first base.

Credit to Theo, who keeps a tight lid on things like this.  He like to work quietly.  Rumors were coming out about talks, but word of the actual trade didn’t come out until Saturday.  Which is part of what created the scenario.

BUT ….. the Red Sox only had until 2 pm today to work out an extension with A-Gon.  If you are going to give up 2 top tier prospects, you want more than one season of a guy regardless of how good he is.  And they started the process VERY far apart.  He reportedly wanted Texiera money.  He is THAT good, people.  But the Red Sox are reluctant to sign ANYONE to an 8 year deal.  Especially since he had shoulder surgery this off season.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


The season opened with so much promise.  Suddenly the Red Sox were 2-6, getting slapped around on the West Coast.  And now their depth has evaporated.

  • Lugo and Kotsay began the season on the DL.
  • Lowrie’s wrist injury returned.  He’s on the DL and may need surgery.
  • Dice-K is on the DL with shoulder fatigue, well before Smoltz is available.

But it isn’t just injuries.

  • Big Papi is doing nothing to alleviate the fears of Red Sox Nation.  I’m ready to consider sitting him for a game or two to see how Chris Carter does.  Maybe he can help generate some offense.
  • Ellsbury and Pedroia are also hitting under .200 so far.
  • Lester and Dice-K have had 2 lousy starts apiece instead of looking like Cy Young candidates.  Dice-K’s one inning wonder put an incredible strain on the bull pen, which was already working too much with the problem with the other starters.

They really needed Wakefield, the old guy, to go deep into the game.  He did, going the distance.  He carried a no-hitter into the 8th and gave up 2 runs.  But the middle of the order finally produced today- 8 runs worth.

Just one game, but maybe it will restart their hopes and help them turn the corner in their first big slump, which has lasted the whole short season.

Read Full Post »


In the midst of juggling my 3 jobs, I’ve decided to come up for air and talk some Boston Red Sox.  Many commentators are focusing on their offense, as if it won’t get it done.

Let’s look back at last season.  We had a less than healthy Papi, a nearly crippled Mike Lowell, an injured Josh Beckett and an absent Wakefield.  Turns out our starting shortstop had a fracture in his wrist too.  Both our hitting and pitching were in trouble.  And we were one win away from the World Series.

This was because Dustin Pedroia continued to improve, and Youk had a career year.  Jon Lester discovered how to pitch deep, and strong.  Dice-K was one lucky guy with a big WHIP and low ERA to garner a good win total.

I’m not as pessimistic about this season as some people.  Yeah, no Money-Ramirez.  That also means far less drama. Jason Bay, while not the one man wrecking crew that an interested Man-Ram can be, is a very good hitter and a better defender who will give you a good effort night after night.  Papi no longer has to worry about his wrist, and Lowell will be healthy.  I don’t expect the 2007 Lowell, since he’s 2 years older, but he should still put up respectable offensive numbers for a 3rd baseman.

What excites me about the 2009 Red Sox is the pitching staff.  We seem to be witnessing a return of Beckett 2007, which means he could be a dominating pitcher now that he’s healthy again.  He has been that guy in Spring Training (yeah, it’s only Spring Training), which he wasn’t last year. 

Although we aren’t sure what we are going to get from Penny and Smoltz, if they flounder we could have Buchholz 2007 to step in.  He seems to have regained a good arm slot, and his confidence.  He’s not the tentative pitcher who was giving up runs like a 2-for-1 special was going on.  Lester has offered us no reason to doubt he’ll continue his domination of hitters.  He’s confident and strong.  With Penny and Smoltz, the Red Sox can occasionally rest Lester, Beckett, and especially Wakefield.

The bull pen should be better (though bull pens are tempermental things).  Masterson was the key to making it steady last year.  If Delcarmen can be consistent (which he seemed to be after Masterson joined the pen), and Saito can set-up and occasionally close, we can have a healthy, aggressive Papelbon for the playoffs.

Pitching wins championships, and the Red Sox have a championship caliber pitching staff.  While their offense will not reach the heights of the 2003-4 Red Sox, it should be more than sufficient to provide the runs this staff needs to be very successful.

Read Full Post »


The Red Sox have signed a bunch of people to 1-year deals.  In the last few days they have reached agreements with pitchers Brad Penny, John Smoltz and Takashi Saito.  They have also signed OF Rocco Baldelli and OF/1B Mark Kotsay.  All but Kotsay are coming off seasons in which they have had injury or illness problems.  What is going on here?

The Red Sox are putting together a roster that has the ability to compete with the Rays and Yankees THIS year.  They are not locking themselves in to any long term contracts, so if any of these guys doesn’t recover, it is not a huge hit.  Particularly in terms of the pitching, these moves allow their prospects to develop and they won’t have to trade someone at a discount (like they did Coco Crisp) if/when the particular prospect is ready.

For instance, let’s say Bowden or Buchholz shows he is ready to take up a spot in the rotation in 2010, they won’t have to trade Smoltz or Penny.  However, if Brad Penny has a great year the Red Sox could decide to commit to him long term.  I like the flexibility this provides.  Unlike the Yankees, they have not locked themselves into anything for the next 4-8 years.  They can adjust on the fly.

These guys have all shown they have major league tools.  All we actually need from Rocco is to start against lefties and be ready to pinch hit in the late innings of tight games.  We lose nothing when it comes to defense with that late substitution.  The guy can also hit and run the bases.

If he can’t bounce back as well as hoped, we have the insurance of Mark Kotsay should Drew or Ellsbury suffer an injury.  We aren’t having to dip into the minors like last year and bring up guys who either can’t hit or can’t field.

In the case of Saito, we have a proven closer just in case something happens to Papelbon.  Redundancy, or insurance, depending on how you look at things.

They Red Sox will also have the salary flexibility, as Gammons noted, to pursue a player another team deems too expensive as the trade deadline approaches.  Imagine one of our starters in the outfield gets injured.  He notes that Detroit may decide to dump some salary.  They could pursue Magglio without entering luxury tax territory.  Financial prudence in these tough times, with a commitment to win.

Yes, they didn’t get the big bat they wanted.  But they have the bats needed to ‘protect’ Big Papi.  The problem was injuries, not talent.  If Papi and Lowell are healthy we have a line up to compete with any other AL team.  I don’t buy this fear about being unable to produce runs.  Lowrie can hit, he slumped after an injury to his hand.  The only weak link in the line up will be catcher.

Theo provided some solid depth without breaking the bank or tying up resources for years to come.  He’s sticking to the plan to develop prospects.  All we need now is a catcher.

Read Full Post »


One of my good friends was IMing me on Facebook the other day.  We talked about ministry and moved into a common passion- baseball.  He asked if my Sox had bought up the good players yet.  He kiddingly expressed a common sentitment- that we are the Yankees Jr.

Since the new owners took over the Red Sox have signed precisely 2 big bucks free agents: Dice-K and J.D. Drew.  They inherited Manny (Pedro came in a trade).  They have built this team on trades (only Schilling was a big dollar, big name guy at the time), prospects and under-valued free agents (Big Papi for instance).  Yes, they have re-signed a few guys.  But they have done nothing like the Yankees.  Admittedly, they may break from their pattern with Teixeira (he fits the citeria for them to break the pattern).

The Yankees are trying to out-Yankee themselves this off season.  They want to return to the playoffs and World Series dominance.  Can’t blame them for that!  And they realize that pitching is how you get there.  On this level, the offers to Sabathia and Burnett make lots of sense.  They are trying to rebuild a championship quality team- which last year’s team was NOT.  They didn’t re-sign lots of high-end contracts and they have a big revenue stream working for them.

Here’s what I don’t understand:

  • They basically pled poor by asking for more public funding for their new stadium.  Quite the mixed message.  That’s like saying you need help paying the mortgage while you continue to buy expensive toys or status symbol cars.  Are they next in line for a Federal Bailout?
  • They overpaid, grossly, for Sabathia.  The highest competing offer was about $100 million.  They went to $161 million.  I cries either desperation or Sabathia not wanting to play there except for such an outrageous deal.  He’s very good, but he’s not the best left-handed starter out there. 
  • His great girth is reason for caution for a long-term deal too.  Will he become the next Sidney Ponson, or will he be able to pitch well like David Wells?
  • More curious is his weak record in the playoffs, and particularly against the arch-rival Red Sox.  In other words, CC does great against fair-middling teams but struggles against top-tier teams.
  • They are also over-paying to keep Burnett from signing with the Braves.  He’s got great stuff, but is in his 30’s and hasn’t been healthy except in contract years (hmmmmm). 

So, the Yankees are spending money they inadvertantly claim they don’t have, at a premium when they don’t have to, for long-term deals on guys who are risky (see Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito).  The Yankees continue to make a big splash, but the waves overwhelm the other people in the pool.  They aren’t just accumulating talent (which is fine) but doing it in a reckless, gawdy fashion that disrupts the economics of baseball in a dangerous way.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »