Baseball Thinking

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation – Tampa Bay Devil Rays

The Red Sox are in need of some offense. In the AL, they are 10th in BA, HR’s,Total Bases, Slugging, 11th in Runs, Hits, SB’s,13th in Triples, while 4th in GDP’s. When the Sox win scoring 8 or more runs, which has happened only 3 times, they have scored 1 run in the three subsequent games. When the pitching goes south, the team can’t win the slugfests once popular with this team…..The bottom 4 hitters in the lineup strikes fear in the eyes of Little Leaguers everywhere, but not pro players…..The Tampa Bay organization is having a tailgate party for fans Saturday afternoon, beginning at 3PM…..Mark Loretta needs a day or two off, as his average has fallen from .260 to .230 since his Patriot Day heroics…..Is it me, or does it seem if the opposition scores 2 or more runs early, the Sox have absolutely no chance of winning?.....Josh Beckett is looking pretty ordinary lately, while Tim Wakefield has been the teams best pitcher, although he is 1-4…..Devil Ray prospect Delmon Young, brother of Tiger Dmitri Young, whipped his bat at a replacement umpire after being ejected in a game vs. Pawtucket. He could have cause serious injury. Stick a fork in him….The Rays have had their share of injuries as Jorge Cantu, Rocco Baldelli (he lives on the DL), Aubrey Huff & Julio Lugo are all out of the lineup….Carl Crawford is back in the lineup after missing time due to the death of his grandmother…..The early returns show that the Reds got the bargain of the year in offloading Wily Mo Pena and acquiring Bronson Arroyo, who is off to a 4-0, 2.34 start. Bronson began last year 5-0…..Red Sox hitters are making # 4 and 5 starters look like # 1’s…..Infielder/outfielder Ty (Cy) Wigginton is a streaky player, and he is on an offensive hot streak right now. Defensively, he sucks though, committing two errors in one inning last week at Fenway…..Jerry Remy offered free merchandise on his website the other night. The site had so many hits that it crashed – died…..Beers are on me .....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation - Cleveland Indians

The Boston Red Sox open a 3 game series against the Cleveland Indians Tuesday and they will not face C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia, injured on opening day when pitching against the Chicago White Sox, is currently on a rehab assignment and will not return to the lineup until the first week of May. He threw 67 pitches in a simulated game in KC Saturday and reports are that everything went fine…..Coco Crisp returns to Cleveland after his off-season trade to the Red Sox (for Andy Marte and Guillermo Mota). Unfortunately, he is still on the DL for the next few weeks…..Indian manager, and former Sox catcher, Eric Wedge, missed a game April 17th to be with his wife during the birth of their first child, a son…..General Manger Mark Shapiro has done a fantastic job in his three years on the job, taking over a crumbling empire from former GM John Hart and building a contender, all with a payroll of 57 million bucks…..The Indians thought they upgraded their shaky middle relief, but that hasn’t been the case thus far…..Reliever Steve Karsay has been demoted to Triple A Buffalo…..Seemingly not missing a beat from last season, the Indian’s offense ranks near the top in the AL…..Despite several promotions, fans are not swarming to Jacob’s Field, even though Cleveland fields a top team…..The Tribe had six sellouts all of last season, one being on the Coco Crisp bobble head giveaway…..The Indian’s are coming off a ten game swing, going 4-6, including losing the last two games to a Royal’s team that had lost ten straight…..

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation - Toronto Blue Jays

The Red Sox spent their off-season loading up on pitching and defense. And so far, the stats support that. Gone are the days of bashball and errors. The name of this year’s game is the opposite. Heading into the weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Sox find that they no longer are near the top of most offensive categories. They are 9th in the league in BA (.264), have the 3rd most strikeouts, 11th in runs scored, 12th in home runs and 9th in total bases. Toronto is near the top in most offensive categories. But as the pitching stands, the Sox are leading the ways in several categories. They are 1st in the AL for team ERA (3.78), 1st in starter wins, tied for 1st in complete games, 1st in saves, near the top in walks and strike outs and 2nd in runs allowed. The current edition of the Red Sox is the polar opposite of the past three years. Let’s see how this translates with the fans over a complete season……Lot’s of former Florida Marlins greeting each other in Toronto, as Josh Beckett, AJ Burnett, Alex Gonzalez, Mike Lowell…..Jays outfielder Vernon Wells, no relationship to the pork bellied, gimpy kneed, trash talking porker pitcher the Sox employ, is having another sensational season. Fresh off of winning another gold glove, manager John Gibbons went so far as calling him a future AL MVP. Only time will tell…..Former Sox third baseman Shea Hillenbrand is in the midst of a slump. The extremely impatient hitter has only one walk so far…..Johnny Damon’s face imprint can still be seen embedded in the centerfield padding. Rumors are swirling that his hit has cause him to stutter even more. That is so sad for the New York media…..Former Manchester Fisher Cat is off to a solid start at second base. Another former Cat, Gustavo Chacin, beat the Red Sox at Fenway last week. Chacin had 16 wins for the FisherCats in 2004, during their championship run…..Josh Towers has started 0-3, with a 9.24 ERA…..Former Jay Derek Bell was busted for cocaine recently. He just couldn’t keep off that pipe…..

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation – Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays come into Fenway for a three game series beginning Tuesday at 7:05. The Rays are 7-6, two games behind Boston in the AL East. The pitching match ups are as follows: Casey Fossum (L) vs. Matt Clement (R); Curt Schilling (R) vs. Doug Waechter (R); Tim Wakefield (R) vs. Scott Kazmir (L). The Rays swept the Kansas City Royals over the weekend. Tampa Bay has shown patience at the plate, leading MLB in walks. Carl Crawford will face Matt Clement Tuesday, nine months after hitting a stinging line drive that hit Clement in the head. Clement faced Tampa Bay on August 29th and received the W in a 12-3 Sox win at Fenway. Casey Fossum is in his second season with the Devil Rays, after a one year stint with Arizona. He is just 28, but seems as if he’s been around a lot longer. Jonny Gomes is off to a hot start, hitting .300, with 5 HR and 14 RBI. Third baseman Ty Wiggington is also warm, hitting .293 with 5 HR and 13 RBI. Tim Wakefield is 7-0, with a 3.18 ERA vs. Tampa since 2003. The current Sox lineup has hit Fossum at a .241 clip, Waechter at a hit happy .339 pace and Kazmir at .214. “Three Dog” is the new nickname for Crawford, given for his propensity for the triple. He had 19 during the 2004 season, 15 in 2005, and already has one this year. Jorge Cantu has 1 HR and 8 RBI, while batting .258 thus far. He is coming of a fine performance in the World Baseball Classic. The Rays have hit 19 home runs in their first 13 games, a record for their franchise. That puts them 3rd in the AL. In comparison, the Sox have hit only 12 (thrid from the bottom in the AL). On the other end of the spectrum, the Sox has a staff ERA of 3.96, good for 2nd in the AL, while the Rays have a combined 5.84 ERA, next to last in the AL. Six of the 7 Devil Ray victories have been of the come-from-behind variety. Keep an eye on Russell Branyan, who is hitting .364 3/7 against Matt Clement.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation - Seattle

Opening Day was perfect, in every sense of the word. There was one bizarre finding, though. I was daydreaming during some of the ceremonies and happened look up at the rafters, wondering why they didn’t paint some of them. As I was gendering, I noticed a noose hanging from one of the aforementioned rafters. I pointed this out to several paying fans who all agreed that it was pretty spooky. I have attached the picture for your viewing pleasure…..The Seattle Mariners are in town, and the Sox hope to take 3 out of 4 from them. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz have excellent numbers against all of the Seattle starters…..Don’t forget that Monday’s game is an eleven o’clock start, as it is Marathon Monday, as well as Patriot’s Day, in MA…..Itchiro Suzuki is off to a slow .238 start for the Mariners…..Old friend (or foe?) Carl Everett has signed with the Mariners for 2006 and fired some shots across the bow of the Chicago White Sox organization. While he has always been pretty much high maintenance for each team he has played for, he consistently puts up some solid numbers year in and year out…..Every hit Ramirez has is of the single variety…..Mark Loretta is quietly struggling, while Kevin Youkilis has been better than average at first base….Kevin Millar is hitting home runs again for the Orioles.....Enjoy the holiday.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ramblings From The Nation - Opening Day

Opening Day was a blast. Fenway Park is looking pretty spiffy and the weather couldn’t have been better. Of course, I spent a portion of the game with a gang of professional 12 ounce curlers. How early to these people start drinking?.....It was nice to see pitching coach Dave Wallace hobble his way around the dugout before the game. He left soon after. Shea Hillenbrand received a nice ovation when introduced before the game. After the game, his teammates told him that Beckett was jawing over the fact that Hillenbrand started to trot to first, thinking it was ball four. The former third baseman then threw out a few expletives in the direction of Beckett from the visitors locker room…..I thought the fans gave Keith Foulke the appropriate response as he was introduced, as I hardly heard a boo….I saw Carl Yastrzemski before the ballgame chatting it up with the parking attendants. I instantly flashed back to my early teen years when I delivered the Sunday Globe to his home. What an a-hole. More on that later…..I hope the fans display some patience with Wily Mo Pena…..Adam Stern is quick, but he can’t sing at all…..Jerry Remy has a small bald spot on the back of his head…..Lucky Larry Lucchino was very gracious with a lot of the fans before the game, flashing his championship ring around….I stood in an area on the third base line that was used as a beer counter in the past. There is a noose hanging from the rafters. More on that later as well. Imagine paying close to one hundred dollars for parking? Some vendors require that you assume the position over the hood of your vehicle and take it like a man……Bronson Arroyo is tied with David Ortiz in home runs. Why can’t we get hitters like that?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Pre-Opening Day Notes

Josh Towers starts Tuesday's game for the Toronto Blue Jay's, with Gustavo Chacin and Ted Lilly rounding out the series. Towers held the Sox to a .258 AVG last year. For 2005, he led Toronto pitchers in ERA, Wins, BB's, WHIP & innings in 2005. David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Cora and Kevin Youkilis are the only Sox to hit better than .300 against Toronto last season. Mark Loretta, Mike Lowell, JT Snow, Alex Gonzalez & Wily Mo Pena have never faced Towers or Chacin. Most of the Sox from the 2005 season have had decent success, up and down the lineup, against Chacin. The World Series and AL pennant flags have been relocated and placed above the press box and below the Fenway Parks sign. Opening ceremonies will include the gigantic flag unfurling from the green monster, as well as a flyover. I am very excited to see the changes made to Fenway, the fifth year for improvements. More to follow.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ramblings From The Nation - Baltimore

Contrary to popular belief, the acquisition of Kevin Millar by the Baltimore Orioles didn't drive up ticket sales. The attendance for the second game of the season at Camden Yards was a little above 16,000, while the next day was even worse. The announced attendance was 13,194. That should be short lived, though, as the Red Sox visit Baltimore and bring along a band of merry marauders. Call is RSN South, one of my favorite trips of the year.....I think Miquel Tejada is going to have a monster year, with decent protection in the lineup and the soap opera from last year behind him. This is a guy who, prior to last year, averaged 123 RBI/year over the previous 5 season.....Speaking of the soap opera, does anybody know where Mr. Viagra, Rafael Palmeiro, is hiding? I hope he remembered to take those earplugs out, where ever he is.....Manny Ramirez was burning chalk running to first on a single in the 4th inning. I wonder if he pulled a Roger Clemens and put Icy Hot on his cockadoodle doo. It was refreshing to see Manny hustle like that.....Still don't understand the signing of Rudy Seanez. He's got an career ERA over 4, and that is mostly in the pitcher friendly NL. He was already with Boston before and didn't impress. He's done nothing so far, and looks mean. LOL. I am not impressed with the so called strength of ours - the bullpen. In close games, Terry Francona goes to Mike Timlin and Jonathan Papelbon. In blowouts, he uses the rest of the pen.....Wily Mo Pena was the only position player who didn't get into the 14-8 blowout of the Orioles. Hmmmmmmmm. Conspiracy theorists, you may begin.....It took only 17 pitches for the Sox right fielders to produce 4 outs. Willy Mo Pena swung and missed at 4 straight pitches before taking the fifth, inspiring a Bronx cheer from Red Sox fans in Baltimore. He swung and missed at the next two. Trot Nixon replaced him when his next AB came up and didn't fare much better.....Speaking of Papelbon, how much respect has he earned from Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett over the past few days? I got in trouble tonight for now switching the laundry around. ;-)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation

I saw Pedro Martinez pitch on ESPN Thursday night and he looks fat…..I also saw Kevin Millar hit a double, arriving safely,barely, as the ball came into second. He looks fat…..I am in baseball heaven as Comcast is showing a free preview of MLB InDemand, offering a twenty dollar savings off the normal 179 normal price. What a deal…..What is it about the Oakland Athletics and their uniforms? Even the pip squeeks of MLB look like they have morphed into the Hulk as soon as they put one on. I should add a few to my wardrobe…..There was a young man from Nantucket…..As I watch Thursday Night Basball on ESPN, I came up with an idea. Each of us should donate a buck and buy Chris Berman a couple oxygen tanks. Whenever a sentence lasts more than 4 seconds, he is gasping for every last breath. He is fat.

Ramblings From The Nation

Here are some idle thoughts from a man who has too much time on his hands. I will work for food. Is Red Sox plural or singular? Keith Foulke said all the right things after taking a seat while watching Jonathan Papelbon close out the game in Texas. He said that he was a Red Sox and would do anything to help the team to win. This annoys me. I need to know what the proper terminology for players who refer themselves as a Red Sox. Red Sox “sounds” plural, but is it? To say you are a Red Sox sounds incorrect. What is correct? Red Sock? If you have the answer, please email me….. I got fired up when Josh Beckett got fired up, who in turn fired up Curt Schilling, which fired up Papelbon. I was fired up……. Trot Nixon’s cap is in mid season form, already wrinkled and dusted …. The Yankee’s weaknesses were on display in Oakland as the defense committed three errors and the bullpen wilted in a 9-4 loss to the Athletics. Johnny Damon throws like a girl ….. David Ortiz hit into two DP’s for only the fourth time in his career ….. Manny Ramirez is off to a slow start, going 1/10…..Tim Wakefield’s catcher, Josh Bard, treated Wake’s pitches as if the ball carried the bird flu…..Former prospect Hanley Ramirez drove in 3 in his second game with the Marlins….. …..During the 5th inning of the Texas game, I started to wonder if Foulke could successfully close out the game. This was on my mind until the bottom of the 8th, when Papelbon began his warmups. I was ascared…..I watched the blooper show featuring Jerry Remy and enjoyed it…..Tom Caron from NESN has new specs and has removed the go-t.....Joanie loves Chachi.

It’s Clear About Nomar Garciaparra

I read the MLB news notes recently and found a tidbit that was far too common. Dodger first baseman, Nomar Garciaparra, found his way back to the DL on Opening Day. It appears he pulled a rib muscle the day before, swinging away. I don’t claim to be a member of the medical profession, but I find it curious that all of his muscles seem to be detaching themselves from the bones in his body. My, what could this be related too? Bad bone structure? Not enough milk mustaches? Maybe soccer training with Mia? Call me skeptical, but I think, and I am going way out on a ledge here, but it might be, could be, possibly be related to the juice. Yes, that juice. As I mentioned, I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV. Let’s just call it a hunch. NESN (New England Sports Network) recently had a show featuring Jerry Remy bloopers, and Nomah was in one of them. He was a skinny shortstop, really skinny. In literally weeks one winter, he put on 35 pounds of muscle and adorned the cover of SI. Hmmmmmmmm. Call me skeptical.
Don’t get me wrong, I was with all of you screaming “Nomah” at Fenway. I still have his 1999 All Star shirt stashed away in my extensive sports collection. But come on. You can’t feel bad for this man. How bad can you feel for a guy who’s made more than 50 million clams during his career? What did he spend this money on? I think it’s “clear”. This is the same guy who reportedly turned down 60 million smackers at the end of the 2003 season. What a bonehead move that was by his agent, Arn Tellem. Irrational thinking. He will never come close to that figure as his career winds down exponentially. He has played in only 143 games since the end of the 2003 season.
One distinctive moment that stands out for me is during a Sox/Yankee’s game in 2004, the same night when Derek Jeter and Garciaparra defined who they are. That moment happened on a warm July evening at Yankee Stadium, in a 13 inning masterpiece. You know the game. During the 12th inning, Derek Jeter raced from the shortstop position into foul territory, diving into the stands to make a catch and coming up bloody. That same evening featured a sulking Garciaparra sitting in the dugout, refusing to pinch hit for his manager. That is the lasting memory I will have of Garciaparra, as he was traded 30 days later to the Cubs. And yes, he missed almost half of that season due to his wrist injury.
The next time, if there is a next time, Garciaparra is on a televised ballgame, take a close look at him. Watch his bat speed. See if you can hear the hissing as his nostrils flare or see the tiny horns growing out of his head. And when he swings, listen to hear what pops out next. As the roid investigation continues, we should see his name crop up once or thrice. The truth is clear.

Will The Patchwork Infield Work For The Sox?

The Boston Red Sox spent a portion of their offseason on their infield, concluding with a complete turnover of each base and shortstop. No longer with the team are Kevin Millar, Billy Mueller, Edgar Renteria & Tony Graffanino. Instead, these positions are manned by Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, Alex Gonzalez & Mark Loretta, respectively. And it appears that this is a short term fix. Lowell is signed for two seasons, while the rest are working on one year contracts, which sets us in motion for a completely different infield to start the 2007 season. But will this patchwork infield do the job?
Lowell’s struggles at the plate last season are well documented. During the first 75% of spring training, he continued to struggle. During the past 2 weeks, however, he has stepped up to the plate – literally. The third baseman has been swinging a good bat, despite many reports that his bat had slowed considerably. But there is no question that he can still play the hot corner as well as anybody. Will he be the guy that averaged almost 25 HR’s and 95 RBI over the 2000-04 seasons? Or will he be the post-roid guy who connected just 8 times last season? Gonzalez is considered to be the best MLB shortstop who hasn’t won a Gold Glove. As this may be the case, he is considered an offensive liability. He is trying to rediscover the stroke he established in 2002-2003, when he hit 41 HR’s and 156 RBI during that span. But that was pre-roid. The good news is that he can be hidden at the bottom of the batting order. Loretta brings a career .301 batting average, along with the ability to move the runners over, to Fenway Park. He also had a poor 2005 season, but that was due to injury. And then there is Youk. Fan favorite Youkilis is playing a new position. How much will this, and the fact that he is now an everyday starter, play into his production? RSN is hoping that their defensive skills can overshadow the possibility of poor offensive production. Time will tell. And the 2007 season should field a new infield as well.