Baseball Thinking

Monday, March 27, 2006

How Are The Former Red Sox Players Doing So Far?

I was curious as to how some former Red Sox players were performing with their new teams, so I did some research. According to Juan C. Gonzalez of the Sun Sentinel, former farmhand Hanley Ramirez has been named the starting shortstop for the Florida Marlins, as well as batting leadoff. I hope it lasts for Ramirez as the Marlins have his counterpart, Robert Andino, waiting in the wings. Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe has reported that former Sox first baseman/outfielder Brian Daubach failed to win a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals roster, being sent down despite hitting over .300 during the spring. Bronson Arroyo was greeted rather rudely in his Reds spring premier, giving up 6 runs and 7 hits in five innings. While Arroyo said he “wasn't pleased with the results” he felt strong in the first couple of innings. We wish Bronson the very best of luck with his new team. Derek Lowe has been lights out during the spring, putting a smile of the face of new Dodger manager, Grady Little. After his first season with LA was filled with controversy, Lowe seems to have his head screwed on straight. Well, for the time being, anyway. His numbers have been impressive going 2-1/3.71/17IP/14H. Let’s see if he stays the course. Edgar Renteria is batting .333 with 3 HR’s and 8 RBI. I’ve read this his fielding has been decent as well. Former third baseman Billy Ballgame Mueller is hitting .382 with the Dodgers this spring, connecting for 3 HR’s and 10 RBI. Mike Myers is 1-1 with a 2.71 ERA with the Yankee’s. Kevin Millar is hitting .289 with 1 HR and 7 RBI with the Orioles. Johnny Damon is hitting .438 in very limited AB’s with the Yankee’s since returning from the WBC. Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher for the past 4 seasons, Doug Mirabelli, continues to have a hot spring with the San Diego Padres, hitting .423 with 3 HR’s and 9 RBI. His teammate, Mark Bellhorn, hasn’t been as hot, hitting at a .182 clip with 1HR and 4 RBI. Another Padre, Alan Embree, is struggling as well, with a record of 0-2, ERA of 6.75, giving up 13 hits in 6+ innings. Pedro Martinez was surrounded by media and scouts alike for his first spring training appearance. He’s only thrown 3 innings thus far. Ball hog Douglas Mientkiewic is the hottest of the hottest, off to a .487 clip with 1HR and 14 RBI. Considering how anemic the Sox offense has been this spring, some of these guys look pretty good. As the infamous sports idiot for WBZ in Boston would say, “Why can’t we get players like this?”

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation

Terry Francona confirmed that high maintenance, Baby Huey’ish southpaw David Wells will be left out of the starting rotation until mid-April. The Red Sox have a couple of off days in the early going and don’t have a need for five pitchers. Wells, of course, isn’t happy. When is this person, who is in constant need of a babysitter, ever happy? While he has been a decent pitcher, he is a pimple on the ass of progress for the Sox organization, as he’s been for every team he’s pitched for.

Tony Graffanino and Dustin Mohr has been nothing short of ultimate professionals as both are lame ducks for their positions. Tony became expendable with the signing of Mark Loretta and the same for Mohr with the signing of Wily Mo Pena. Graffanino has been placed on waivers by the Sox, but started the game on the same day. If he garners any interest from other teams, the Red Sox will pull him off waivers (revocable) and work out a trade with the interested party. According to ESPN, Philly is interested in Mohr, but he could be put on waivers as well. More athletes should act like these two professionals.

The Dodgers released Korean first baseman Hee Seop Choi and the Sox quickly picked him up. By this signing, the Sox seemed to have lost some confidence in Mike Lowell. According to several sources, Lowell’s bat speed isn’t where it should be. This could pave the way for Kevin Youkilis to move back to third base and have both Choi and JT Snow manning first. If Lowell improves, the Sox could send Choi down to Pawtucket as he does have one option remaining.

Speaking of the Dodgers and first basemen, there are whispers of concern for Nomar Garciaparra. While he has been pretty steady defensively at his new position of first base, some are concerned about his hitting. He has been below .200 most of the spring and has yet to show signs he is coming out of offensive funk.

And yet another first baseman has been released, this time by the Detroit Tigers. Slugger Carlos Pena ran out of time with the Tigers as they have decided to get younger at first. Pena, who was born in the Dominican and raised in Haverhill, MA, is a sentimental favorite in New England. Personally, I would love nothing more for the Sox to pick him up and allow him to steady the ship in Pawtucket. He still has a little upside potential and would be realitevely inexpensive for the Sox. He is steady defensively, is a pure first baseman, which is a position the Red Sox are still fuzzy on. Let’s go, Theo, sign the hometown boy and let’s see what he can do.

Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe was correct when he told me he would be surprised if Juan Gonzalez ever put on a Sox uniform. The agent for Gonzalez hasn’t heard from him and is worried about his well being. The Red Sox haven’t heard a word from Juan Gone. He was supposed to report to camp 10 days ago. Rheal Cormier is rumored to be coming back to Boston for a third stay. The Red Sox are still holding out hope that Roger Clemens will come back to Boston this year. He is currently tied with Cy Young for first all time on the Red Sox pitching victories list.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation

Overall, this has been a pretty quiet spring camp for the Red Sox, but there are a few things that just don’t sit right with me. David Wells called Terry Francona an idiot the other day. According to ESPN, Wells, referring to a meeting the two had, said "What went on in that office should have stayed there in that office and it shouldn't have come out to you guys," Wells told The Hartford Courant in Saturday's edition. "So he's the idiot for saying that like that, not me, because I didn't interpret it like that." What is wrong with Flubber? This is a guy who demanded a trade, decided that the trade wasn’t in his best interests and rescinded the request, is on a schedule to make millions of dollars, then calls his boss an idiot. Like many Red Sox fans, I have grown wearing of the man child, the Baby Huey in a uniform.
*Give Tony Graffanino some credit. He is a man without a team and been nothing but the ultimate professional. When the Sox offered him salary arbitration right at the deadline, Graffanino was relieved to know he was coming back to be the second baseman for the 2006 season. The Sox, sans Theo, then traded fan favorite Doug Mirabelli to the Padres for Mark Loretta, effectively making Tony-Graf the lame duck. I don’t understand this whole process. Loretta will be an asset in the lineup, Tim Wakefield already misses Mirabelli and we have a surplus of infielders. I just don’t get it.
*Good news for Terry Francona as he received an extension on his contract and will no longer be one of the lowest paid managers in professional baseball. Long overdue and well deserved.
*Some are reporting that Theo Epstein has been invisible during spring training in an attempt to keep away from the spotlight.
*Kevin Millar (.306 BA), Edgar Renteria (.364 BA) and Derek Lowe (3.0, 0.69 ERA) are all having excellent springs with their new teams. The Yankee’s are concerned about the shoulder of Johnny Damon, who is having a rough spring. Former AL MVP Juan Gonzalez signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox, but the chances are slim that he will ever be on the major league roster. Opening Day is around the corner.

Wily Is Lookin’ for Mo’re – Trot’s Swan Song

Wily Mo Pena was traded to the Boston Red Sox for guitar strumming and fan favorite Bronson Arroyo on Monday, March 20. RSN is displeased that another rock star is gone, but the end result could be more positive, providing that Wily Mo spends more than a year in the Sox organization. Pena has a substantial upside at 24 while Arroyo could be peaking at age 29. This deal appears to signal the end for Trot Nixon, the lame duck right fielder. Nixon, 31, is in the final year of his contract. He has been prone to physical breakdowns over the past 4 years. Pena is in line to take Trot’s job, and not just against left handed pitchers.
Wily Mo is looking to become an everyday player, and he will challenge the hygienically
challenged Nixon for the right field position. Pena possesses decent speed, an above
average gun, and cleanliness, a trait the current right fielder has been struggling with for
several years. Nixon elevated the term dirt dog to a whole new level in his years with the
Sox, as evidenced in his not so clean uniform. He often resembled a homeless man who
pulled an old Sox uniform out of the trash. Nixon also occasionally provided very
awkward moments rambling on about his religious beliefs way too long for the casual
viewer. Thanking the Lord is one thing, but providing a sermon during an interview
is just, well, awkward.
Nixon was a high draft pick as a teen and used his father, Dr. Nixon, as his contract
negotiator. But he really never lived up to the hype following an extremely slow
development period in the Sox’ farm system. Once he became an everyday player, he
was often injured and his chronicled struggle against lefties was infamous. The signing of
Pena officially marks the beginning of the end for Nixon. His days are numbered.
Wily Mo could be the next Big Papi, but probably not. From what I hear, he has an
incredible work ethic, wants to learn more, and will work hard to achieve that. Being
from the Dominican, he is familiar with Ortiz and other Latin players. I for one am excited that Wily Mo is here. Trot, on the other hand, has been pointed to the exits.