Posts Tagged ‘Josh Hamilton’

New Sox pitcher Ryan Dempter (AP)

By all accounts, most Red Sox fans are supposed to be depressed, disappointed by the free agent signings this winter.

Count me as one of the minority. I did not want them do what they had in the past, and the Punto trade freed them from: long term deals. That deal gave them 2 young pitchers for the future. They have a few prospects, particularly in the outfield that are going to be ready soon. Locking up Hamilton and another outfielder just didn’t make sense to me.

One thing I noticed is that they addressed one of the issues that plagued them last season. They signed players who have a solid approach at the plate, work the count and get walks (here is a great article about plate approach). This slipped away from them last season. It allows them to wear down pitchers, allow other guys to get a good look at a pitcher’s stuff increase the odds of getting a pitch you can drive. The guys they signed also have swings suited for the confines of Fenway Park. Last year, their offense didn’t dominate at home. They seem to have fixed that too.

Napoli, despite his hip condition, has hit the ball well. Yes, it is only Spring Training (just insert this often). And he has defended well. This is a good sign. Defense matters too! While I don’t expect him to win a gold glove, it looks like he’ll at least be adequate.

The same can’t really be said for Johnny Gomes in left field. It gets ugly out there. Hopefully his offense will make up for it. He seems a better candidate to fill in at DH when Big Papi is on the DL, which will happen to start the season but hopefully won’t start a trend. Gomes can hit. But he was also part of transforming the club house. Victorino will play solid defense in right (or center if Ellsbury gets hurt, again). But how he’ll hit is still a mystery. They want loose guys and these guys seem to fit that bill. The 2004 Sox had Millar, Damon and Pedro to take the pressure off when the team was struggling. That is what was missing in September 2011. And last year.

Drew hasn’t done much thanks to a concussion. There is just something about Drews and Boston. But thankfully Iglesias’ visit to Pedroia this winter paid off in a better approach at the plate. His swing is much better and he’s making more contact and better contact (6 extra base hits so far (3/16)). This may give them the opportunity to trade Drew to the Cards now that Furcal is hurt. Time will tell.


Read Full Post »

Photo by Christopher Evans

As many have noted, the Red Sox have hit the reset button on the team. The unthinkable happened as many people’s grandest dreams have been fulfilled; Beckett is gone and so is Crawford’s albatross of a contract.

I’ve been on record for not liking the Crawford deal, even before it happened. I hoped it would work out. It hasn’t. He is (was?) a very talented guy. But the burden of the contract, and Boston, worked against him. Even in a recent interview, he couldn’t avoid talking about being a $20 million/year man.

In Tampa, the expectations were not high. The team hadn’t left the basement of the AL East until 2008. So Carl only played on a winner for 2 years, and no one expected them to be any good. The Ravine will be more to his liking. People show up late and leave early. What they really care about is the Lakers. The Dodgers? Eh.

Beckett remarkably exhausted all of the good will from 2007 and what should have been in 2008. He was dominant last year until late August. And never recovered. Worse, he didn’t seem to accept any responsibility (unlike Lester), continued to do stupid things (unlike Lester) and continued to stink (unlike Lester). He probably has some injuries, but significantly he’s lost velocity on his fastball (not a good sign going forward). Dodger fans got a taste of our frustration as Beckett gave up a home run to the first batter he faced in Blue.


Read Full Post »

In the course of ministry, hard spots are inevitable. It could be a set back, a conflict or perhaps an illness. They cannot be avoided. They are part of the providence of God. They are for your sanctification.

Do you remember that often? I mean between the whining, complaining and the pity parties you throw. We all do that. But do we remember they are intended for our maturity?

 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1 (ESV)

How is that, you might ask. One important thing is perseverance. James 1 points all Christians in this direction. Pastors are no exception from that instruction. We should not be surprised when the hard spots hit. Pastors, just like lay people, will have their faith tested in order to produce steadfastness, otherwise known as perseverance. There can be no maturity without perseverance. You can’t excel at anything without perseverance. Ask any great musician. Ask a woodworker or a computer programmer. Perseverance through boredom (that’s been a tough one for me), pain, disappointment and more.


Read Full Post »

While I was trying to be patient in the airport yesterday I realized I didn’t have enough lite reading for the flight.  I was nearly done with the novel I had brought.  There lay 2 copies of Sports Illustrated.  No discernable owner.

The June 8th issue has a This Old House extendo ad.  It included an article on Danny Wuerffel and how his role in Desire Street Ministries has changed since Katrina.  He has been involved in helping rebuild New Orleans.  Desire Street is hoping to expand beyond New Orleans and begin ministries in other cities that focus on community development to transform inner-city neighborhoods.  I didn’t know he was the son of an Air Force chaplain.  But it is great to see this covenant child own the faith of his fathers and live for Christ and His kingdom.  Danny is about both personal salvation and the societal implication of Christianity.  You don’t see that often in SI.

The June 2 issue had a great article on Josh Hamilton.  His story was inspiring- a great story of redemption.  He was a great kid from a church-going family who excelled at the American past time.  He was drafted by the Rays and had superstar written all over him.  But then there was a car accident.  It was during his rehab that he met some of the wrong people.  Soon he was drinking and using drugs.

He hit bottom repeatedly.  He spent his signing bonus on drugs.  He nearly destroyed his marriage- and was kicked out of the house at one point.  He borrowed money for drugs from his father-in-law.  He was kicked out of MLB.  It was waking up after a binge in a trailer full of strangers, and nowhere to go that was the last bounce off the bottom.

He’s been sober since around November 2005.  He was picked in the Rule 5 draft, meaning he was left unprotected, by the Cubs and traded to the Reds.  He worked himself into the Major Leagues in 2007.  And the Rangers were watching, trying to get their hands on Josh.  The Reds’ price- Edison Volquez.  The Rangers tried numerous combinations, but the Reds held firm.  Volquez was their target.  Finally the Rangers bit the bullet.  Both teams have been well-pleased.

Hamilton is currently hitting .315 with an OBP of .365 and a slugging percentage of .573.  He has 17 HR and 69 RBI.  He has a shot at winning the triple crown.  He is a fan favorite for his accessibility as well as his performance.  He now talks to all kinds of community groups, staying as long as it takes to answer every question.  He always goes back to James 4:7- Humble yourself before God.  Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you.  His descent into oblivion is being used by God for his good and the good of others.  God not only redeemed him, but his folly and idolatry.  I’m a sucker for these stories. 

Volquez?  8-2 with a microscopic 1.32 ERA, and 91 Ks in 75 innings.  Impressive.

Read Full Post »