August 2007

Francona is no Leyland, thats for sure

     Terry Francona is not a good manager.  I will stand by my argument that he is not giving the lineup the best opportunity to succeed, even more so on this day.  Now it probably would not have mattered all that much today, as Wang was nearly unhittable, but I detected a misinformed manager making out this lineup card…again.  I do not know how many times I have to explain myself when talking about JD Drew and Kevin Youkilis.  The best thing they offer from an offensive standpoint is that they both work the count as well as almost anyone, and find ways to get on base, via the walk quite well.  Neither of them possess overwhelming power by any means.  We can sit here and say all we want about Drew.  I know he is better than this.  Maybe he will never recover from the shoulder surgery he had.  Maybe he is still adjusting to the superior league (AL).  Who knows, but he cannot continually be put in situations where he is asked to drive in runs.  I don’t care where they originally thought he should bat when they signed him.  He hasn’t been able to drive in runs, so move him up and let him do what he [always] done best, get on base.  Today Wang was on the mound, and Manny was out due to injury.  The lineup, in my opinion, should have started with Pedroia.  Lugo was sitting because there was a tough righty on the mound.  So Pedroia was going to play.  We only have one middle infielder coming off the bench, and he (Cora) took Lugo’s spot.  This is where Drew comes in.  He is a left handed hitter, so bat him second and let him try and work the count, take some pitches, and do whatever he can to get on base.  After Drew should come Youkilis, he can do the exact same thing that Drew was doing.  Try and get on base for Ortiz, the one hitter that could change the outcome of this game with Manny absent from the lineup.  Give Ortiz every opportunity to drive in runs.  Then our second best RBI man in Lowell, can still bat fifth, right behind Ortiz, to give him decent protection and an ability to try and do what Ortiz will not always be able to do, succeed.  Then Varitek, Crisp, Hinske, Cora, whatever.

     Francona continues to make personnel mistakes and people still seem to praise him.  I have heard two "experts" include Francona as being the best manager this season.  And it is tough to comment on any manger outside of the one that someone watches on a daily basis.  So I am not going to sit here and say whether or not I believe Eric Wedge is a capable manager over in Cleveland.  Because I do not see the moves he makes, and the style he has, any of that stuff.  All I see is the record.  And Francona has a heck of a lot to work with.  Enough talent that they can make him "look" good in the standings.  He is similiar to what I have heard Ken Macha to be in Oakland.  He plays for the home run because we have Theo and Bill James sitting in the front office.  He manages less than a lot of other managers do.  But he makes too many bad decisions when he does choose to manage.  I don’t mind playing for the home run, limiting your bunts, and stealing bases when are you are more certain you can take them.  But I do take offense to making out lineups that don’t give this team the best chance to win.  Or leaving a struggling reliever in too long, etc.  He should be gone after the season.  And if they do win the World Series, which is obviously accepted here, then he will retain this job regardless of that bad decisions he makes. 

     But really, the Yankees did cumulatively pitch very well in this series.  The three starters all pitched well.  Joba looked very good.  Rivera was good.  Farnsworth wasn’t.  But still they gave up a combined six runs in three games.

     Which leads me to the Red Sox.  They pitched fine.  They went into the Bronx and gave up 14 runs in three games.  An average of just less than five runs a game.  They didn’t even use Papelbon and used Okajima only once.  Schilling pitched very well, especially with a lack of velocity.  And this "Big game" pitching will ultimately be his ticket to the Hall of Fame.  It was the lack of offense that hurt this team each game.  They struggle even more than they should against good pitching.  And Jermaine Dye is looking more and more like the move they should have made. 

   

The “C” that means little…?

     This debate that I will start on my own blog, as it was criticized on another blog.  It is the debate of whether or not Jason Varitek should wear a "C" on his uniform, defining his status with the team as the captain.  I don’t condone a public displaying of rank necessarily as we are all human beings first, but when a player like Manny Ramirez sees a big "C" on the chest of Jason Varitek, he might think twice about questioning the valued catcher.  The fact that he displays this "C" on his uniform does not change what he does for this team, which is why I personally do not have a problem with it.  If Jeter had the same physical labeling visible to us, I would not think any differently of him.  And we all know how much respect I have for the Yankee captain. 

     Jason Varitek does a lot for this Red Sox team and the main part of his game that I admire so much, is his ability to work with the pitching staff.  Now I understand that he has to be able to hit to retain his spot in the starting lineup.  If he hit like Mirabelli he would not be the starter, or should not be, at least.  See:  Brad Ausmus.  But Varitek has done enough with the bat, even this season, to be an all around above average player in this league.  The two qualities that he seems to possess so much of:  intangibles and game calling skills, cannot be measured through statisitics, and therefore could be overrated or underrated.  In my opinion they are valued very highly though. 

     The Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners seem to have showed us they are probably not as good as their record indicates over the two series that they recently played.  They cannot be judged by one series sweep, I completely understand this.  But I have not believed that either team is as good as their positions in the playoff race.  The Mariners are not average, and but they are definitely closer to average than they are to good.  They are sixth in runs scored and sixth in runs scored away from their "pitchers park."  They are ninth in team ERA, and 11th away from…again…their pitcher friendly ballpark.  Their seemingly strongest strength was their bullpen, and it is still good, but it has fallen to fifth in ERA, in the AL.  They are not a real threat to the better teams if they did in fact make the playoffs.  The only real scary things about them would be King Felix, and JJ Putz come playoff time.  But who knows how the young Hernandez would react to playoff pressure?

     As for the Diamondbacks?  They are young.  They just are not quite there yet.  And as I have stated before, run differential is not everything, but we must take into account that with their’s standing at -38, it is tough to ignore.  I believe that they will be more of a factor next season.  But neither of these teams are out of it.  They are very much in the race.  Both being tied for a playoff spot as I am speaking (Arizona would be in through the Wild Card).  But I feel that the both of them will slowly fade and fall just short of the playoffs.  Seattle may end up finishing around five games out of the race.  But there is the definite possibility that I am wrong and maybe the two teams will face each other for the chance to win a ring.  But I like my original theory more so. 

     For all the talk about Ortiz having such an "off-year" because of a lack of Home Runs/RBI’s, it is safe to say that he is still one of the five best hitters in the AL this season.  Meaning that, in respect to the rest of the league, he is still a great offensive force.  And power numbers do not appear to be "top-heavy" as they have in past years, but it isn’t as if all the great hitters have left, right?  He is still a force to be reckoned with.  And I mean that to a very high degree. 

     Ben Sheets has returned and now they have what they need back on the team…an ace.  Sheets doesn’t wal hitters and strikes out many of them.  If he stays healthy down the stretch, they could make a realistic push for a playoff spot.  I think they fall short by a small margin, but they won’t make it without, that is nearly certain. 

     I feel confident that Schilling will give the Red Sox a chance today.  He is a "Big Game" pitcher.  The problem is that he is an elderly man out there.  And at some point in a players career, it doesn’t matter how well they pitched in the most meaningful of games, they will not be able to get the job done.  But I just have some optimism about his start today I guess. 

Beckett vs. Clemens (Live Blog)

     Ok, this is my first attempt at a live blog.  I am a little hesitant to do it, because I do not want it to take away from the enjoyment of [this] game.  And as we all know, when the Red Sox play the Yankees, emotions run even higher.  But I will give it a shot, and I am leaning toward the opinion that it should be pretty fun.  "Heartland Pinstripes" is doing his version of this from the other end of the spectrum, he being a Yankees fan of course.  To make it even on both blogs (not that this is a competition), he has limited his vocabulary to only nine words.  I have heard a rumor that three of them are:  Giambi, squirrel, and coffee. 

     As for the actual game?  Josh Beckett vs. Roger Clemens.  Two bonafide "power pitchers" going at it.  Clemens not so much using that description anymore, but he is still an above average pitcher, even though he does not throw quite as hard at this age.   Orel Hershieser, Steve Phillips, and that other guy are announcing the game tonight.  It could be worse.  It could be Mark Grace, that guy from the White Sox network that says "He gone" every time an opposing batter K’s, and Joe Morgan the announcer, not the second baseman of whom was actually good.  But anyway, let me post this and then onto the game, I will be refreshing multiple times throughout the night.  Sounds like an ESPN chat. 

     Top 1st:  Nice play by Giambi to make that play on Lugo, but lugo may not even have hit that pitch three months ago.  Pedroia looks at a borderline breaking ball outside.  The little rascal got hit in the elbow.  Pesky little fella.  He would have more heart than any of the munchkins in Oz, the movie, not the show about prison.  If Ortiz can just hit a fly ball to left it will be 2-0.  Yea that’s right complain about that strike, you like to do that often.  Pedroia…you must take that base with Ortiz at the plate.  Foul tip rimmed out, reminds me when I play basketball (that actually rarely happens, I miss plenty of shots, but I don’t rim out many).  Ortiz flies out.  Commercial.

Bottom 1st:  I don’t mind Steve Phillips, but when he talks he shows that he could have been taken far too often as a GM.  Another general manager could have persuaded him to take almost anyone, even Victor Zambrano.  Avoiding that walk to Johnny Damon was huge.  But Jeter doubles.  First pitch breaking ball to Abreu just feels right.  Well, I guess that is ok.  Because I am blogging I missed how Beckett started off Jeter.  What a play by Lowell!  He just barely avoided the seats on that one!  Awesome pitch selection!  I was just about to mention that he should come back with a third consecutive breaking ball.  And a fourth!  Inning over.  Time to stare at the wall.

     Top 2nd:  I have a rather difficult decision to make coming up here.  I don’t have enough food at my place, so I must get some.  I may order a pizza, but I don’t really want it all that much.  I think I am going to go that direction though, after all it is tough to fine much else to be delivered.  What Lowell has done this season has been remarkable.  As he steps to the plate.  I loved that AB by JD Drew against Joba last night by the way.  It was great baseball.  Very intense to me, and there wasn’t even sound at the sports bar I was at.  Just got under that a little too much Lowell.  I guess the Yanks D felt like showing up tonight.  Well Drew has drawn a walk.  Even though it is only 3-0.  It is official now.  JD Drew has walked.  And this is exactly why Drew is perceived as being overrated.  A lot of fans are not aware of the true value of the walk.  If he hit .280 and had Cano’s patience, he wouldn’t be good.  But he gets on base.  This year is a little off kilter with the rest of his career though.  Clemens has walked back-to-back batters.  Coveli Crisp is up to bat now.  Three outs. 

     Bottom 2nd:  That first strike to Matsui was questionable.  He gone!  Ok, I do not condone the use of that phrase.  Shea Hillenbrand is garbage.  I do love Beckett’s curve, as the announcer was referring to.  Giambi popped out, I didn’t feel like writing it, but chose to in the end.  Rather than showing "Home Runs" in that graph, they should have showed "Slugging."  We should be training the average fan during the game about stuff like this.  Ahh, the dreaded walk from the opposite spectrum.  1-0 Yankees.  And yes, that 2-seam fastball was definitely up in the strike zone.  Good pitch in the full count.  Too many pitchers will revert back to the fastball.  Damon wasn’t fooled.  Unbelievable.  3-0.  Finally!  Not insurmountable by any means however. 

Top 3rd:  Time to order a pizza!  I am calling Domino’s right now.  This reminds me actually of the time I got called by the number (000) 000-0000.  I have to say that this was kind of freaky.  It turned out to be Blockbuster, but still.  I just ordered a pepperoni pizza.  And Lugo did a nice job of moving the runner over.  You must execute that bunt for a base hit otherwise it is a lost cause.  Third base is not all that important in this situation.  And Ortiz flies out. 

     Bottom 3rd:  Bad baserunning.  I don’t mind being aggressive, but you cannot get thrown out going back to first.  That wouldn’t have happened to Jeter.  And yes I am showing my respect for Jeter.  If he had AROD’s talent he would easily be the best player of all time.  Of course that really isn’t all that fair.  Combining "Mr. Intangible" with "Talent Galore."  I might as well create a player that has Frank Thomas’ body/offense, but also plays SS and plays it better than Ozzie Smith could ever dream of.  Not too mention this creation of mine pitches and can throw harder than Nolan could.  Hinske fell down.  Come on.  Nice effort by Coco, I really thought he had that, it seemed to float for a while.  That is two hard hit balls in a row this inning.  Santan is getting hit well, it looks.  Unless Cleveland had seven straight seeing-eye singles.  Great pitch by Beckett to Posada, the magnitude of it is greater on the Boston side.  Giambi goes down swinging. 

     Top 4th:  Quick inning!  Drew reminds me of a little leaguer sometimes though.  One with an incredible eye of the strike zone, but he just doesn’t have that "clutch" mentality.  I still stand behind him being [good] but hits are good too!

     Bottom 4th:  Cano shows his lack of patience.  Cabrera is about to be out.  Pizza just arrived, I amy skip the next half inning or so, to eat.  I will obviously still be watching.  Well< i jumped to conclusions on Melky.  He was safe.  Time to eat!

     Top 5th:  5 pieces of pizza later and I am wondering why I put my body through this.  I could have eaten something healthy and the end result would have been much better.  But I have already made the decision.  Varitek drew a walk.  Coco is going year right here.  The odds that he does?  Not good.  Full count now as he let a fastball go by.  And he strikes out.  Now former "Rookie of the Year" Eric Hinske steps up to the plate.  He is like a movie that keeps producing bad sequels.  "Halloween" maybe.  Not that he is terrible coming off the bench, but he has been so far this season.   I am surprised Hinske didn’t strike out.  Come on Lugo, rip one into the gap!  Lugo is out.  If we can somehow take like 12 more walks we could possibly win!

     Bottom 5th:  Jeter K’s.  Another defensive blunder.  Not an error, but an out that probably should have been.  You cannot give [this] offense especially, these extra outs.  AROD made me feel better though. 

     Top 6th:  My cat "Red Sock" is a little disappointed with the game so far.  Or maybe he is unsatisifed with his dried up, sorry excuse for food, that eats every day.  He is pretty spoiled though, anytime I get sushi he gets a few pieces of it.  Not too mention he had a piece of my prime rib sub from Quizno’s earlier.  Now, it isn’t exactly great prime rib, but if you have never had prime rib, then it is probably pretty good, I would think.  Ortiz has got to get something done here.  he was hitless last night, and is so far tonight too.  Thank you Ortiz!  Nice play by Cano though.  I wonder if everyone else hits "Caps lock" as much as I do during my typing.  It happens multiple times per blog.  I still don’t like Youkilis hitting fourth.  I would rather have Lowell here.  What does Youkilis do better thanb anything else?  He draws walks.  Therefore, he should bat ahead of Ortiz.  Now Drew is up.  He could tie it right here.  This is where $14 million should be earned.  I don’t think he will do it, but there is always hope.  2-0 count.  He could try and draw a walk, or he could sit on fastball.  It was low.  Now, he should take the walk if it is there.  And let Varitez try and knock someone in.  The walk will move a runner into scoring position and put the go ahead run at the plate.  3-1.  Drew got a hit, and Youk took the extra base.  Good at bat.  Now Varitek is up.  Fastball, fastball, fastball right here.  I was wrong and so wasn’t Varitek.  Nice eye!  Three outs, but a run.  Must start somewhere.   

     Bottom 6th:  Way to catch the ball Drew!  And Hersheiser’s comment, "Who is on their game more so, Beckett or Clemens?"  Beckett is facing the better offense in his defense, he has settled down nicely, although has fallen behind in the count to both posada and now Giambi.  And falling behind in the count has resulted in two singles by Posada and Giambi.  Here I would throw a first pitch breaking ball for a strike again, to try and get ahead on Cano.  He went with the fastball and Cano was expecting it, but it was hit right at Hinske, luckily.  That was a great play by Lugo, Cabrera just beat it out.  Saved a run, more importantly.  They should have showed Damon’s stats against the Red Sox, while with the Yankees.  I doubt that "animosity" described stemmed from the rivalry heated between the A’s/Red Sox or the Royals/Red Sox.  Nice play!  Pheww!  Inning over.

     Top 7th:  Vizcaino in.  Coco is not locked in today, that is for sure.  What is funny about Steve Phillips comment is that Coco has, what seems to be a pretty good eye, but he has has never had an OBP over .345 in a relatively short career.  He brings some things to the table; speed, defense and decent offense.  But he is not an on base machine.  And he still could improve so I don’t want to say this is the best he will ever be.  Hinske makes [another] out.  Typical Eric Hinske I guess.  Lugo is up.  He has worked the count into his favor…again in this at bat.  2-1.  3-1.  A walk would be great here.  Put the tying runner up in the form of Pedroia.  Not to mention continue the inning.  And now Pedroia comes up in a big spot.  Pedroia fails.  Inning over. 

     Bottom 7th:  Jeter lines out to center.  Abreu fakes a strike out.  Then actually does strike out.  Limit your fastballs against AROD here.  I have mentioned before that he seems to hit all his home runs off fastball, altough I STILL do not know where to find this information.  I do know that his overall performance off the fastball is much better than off other pitches he has faced, which is expected.  And so much for the curve, as ARod launched a homer off of one.  Gagne time?  Delcarmen went last night, and they are down three.  Could go to Timlin too.  Okajima maybe also.  And the new pitcher is…Lopez.  Makes sense, keep forgetting we brought him back up.  Matsui singles.  lopez does not get it done.  And in comes Timlin to clean up his mess.  3-1 count on APhil.  Good Seger reference Hersheiser.  Although I do not like Bob Seger even to the slightest degree.  Timlin succeeds.  I have definitely demolished my comments record tonight.  But it isn’t fair of course, with this being a live blog. 

     Top 8th:  I don’t know much of Dane Cook’s "work," except for "Employee of the Month," which was awful.  But he annoys me in these commercials he does about baseball.  I would like to know how much he knows about baseball to begin with.  Farnsworth should be going after whoever is at the plate (referring to Phillips’ comment), they have a three run lead with the bases empty.  Ok, my prediction:  Lowell singles, Youk walks, Drew homers to tie the game (very bold, but I am trying to be optimistic).  One-third of my prediction is right.  Good call in that Phils game.  YOUKILIS!  A single run separates us.  Come on JD!  In all fairness to Drew, that second strike was outside.  It wasn’t even as close as it originally appeared after viewing it with "K zone" afterward.  That put him in a position where anything but a fastball would kill his AB.  And it did.  Varitek is going to crush a fastball here, but will strike out if it is something else in the strike zone.  He walked.  And Coco is coming up.  Pitching change……..By the way, I have 51 comments!!! Jason at "Heartland" has 281.  have to be consistent ump!  Coco is out. 

     Bottom 8th:  Lugo scares me when he has to throw the ball.  If only he was as fast as "The Flash" and could run to the base.  Having this superhuman speed would also make sure that any ball in the ballpark WILL be in out.  This blog is also my longest in length now too.  Ok, ninth inning. 

     Top 9th:  Hinske, if you can not make an out, then it will be a very big accomplishment.  You have been on base three times agaisnt Mo in your career in ten AB’s.  After searching for those stats, they just said it on ESPN.  That was a ball!  Should be 1-1.  BS!  Should be 2-1, but is instead 1-2.  And he makes an out.  What a surprise!  Down to Pedroia now.  Another tough loss! 

     Thanks for stopping by guys. 

    

     So the White Sox rolled over for us this weekend.  And we had absolutely no control over the outcome.  Basically, they gave us 46 runs, but earned their seven runs.  At least this is what I have been hearing.  I mean, I understand the troubles of this fairly talented team throughout the course of this season.  They cannot hit, they can’t pitch, they can’t seem to wake up without hitting the snooze button first.  They are the worst team in baseball outside of Tampa, according to their record.  Of course it isn’t fair to compare them straight up with NL teams, or even outside of the division really as far as "wins and losses" are concerned.  But really, give the Red Sox a little credit, please.  They scored 10+ runs in four straight games.  They knocked around Buehrle a little, who has a 3.50 ERA and is a pretty good pitcher as some may forget.  They crushed Vazquez for seven runs in six innings, and he now has a 3.89 ERA after the shelling.  They swept a doubleheader, which is not easy to do against anyone in baseball, almost for the simple fact these are humans playing the game.  Back to Javier Vazquez for a second.  This is the same pitcher who in his last ten starts has thrown out [seven] quality ones.  And some of the opponents who he did this against were not pushovers by any means:  Seattle, Detroit (twice), The Red Sox, Minnesota, Toronto.  It isn’t like he threw all seven of them against the Royals.  And against the two pitchers mentioned above, who are [both] having good seasons, the Red Sox scored a total of one run in the first 5 innings against Buehrle, and the first 4 innings against Vazquez, COMBINED!  Meaning what?  That they figured these pitchers out on these particular days.    Just for some statistical fun/getting my point across some more…Buehrle is actually 8th in the AL in ERA+, while Vazquez falls in at 17th, both of course being in the top 20.  And during this doubleheader; Drew, Manny, and Varitek all received days off.  Just another added plus in this conversation.  The point is, the Red Sox had something to do with this.  A lot as a matter of fact.  When the Yankees went on their recent tear against sub-par teams, we all understood who they were playing, but the way they went about it was very impressive regardless of the opponent. 

     Kruk and the boys were discussing pitchers worthy of "Cy Young" candidacy on last night’s "Baseball Tonight."  And at the end of the discussion Kruk says "Escobar deserves to be a serious candidate right there with Josh Beckett."  I don’t know everything else that was said in this conversation, but what I do know is that they are both worthy of being considered, but that there are others that should be included in this discussion too.  And a few that are even more worthy.  Some names that are serious candidates in the AL:  Haren, Escobar, Johan, Beckett, Bedard, Carmona.  There are a few others like Sabathia, Lackey, etc, who should not be ignored either.  Beckett obviously has a few things going for him; "East coast bias," which seems to be more of a fact than just a theory.  Wins, which has a lot to do with the rest of the team’s success.  Let’s not ignore payroll, which gives a team a much better opportunity to put players around any given pitcher.  So they must strip away the payroll aspect, which in turn can help in the wins category.  Don’t ignore "wins" altogether necessarily, but look at the pitcher’s mentality rather than his record.  Beckett is a gamer, as are some of the others.  It isn’t solely because Beckett has 16 wins that he is labeled this by me.  It is the fact that I have faith in him when the later innings roll around (which is the result of watching him frequently).  In innings 1-3 Beckett’s opponents have an OPS of .665, innings 4-6 it is at .620, and innings 7-9 it is .591.  This is an indication that maybe he gets stronger throughout the game.  And from watching him freaquently, he does struggle early in some games.  But his worst inning statistically is actually the third inning, rather than the first.  And his strongest innings seem to be second, fourth, and seventh based on these stats.  But he did win a World Series MVP which helps his "Big Game" cause.  Although this did occur some time ago, and he was a different pitcher then.  Point is, Beckett deserves serious consideration, but others do too.  And if Beckett loses to Santana or Haren, etc, then I have no problem with that at all.  The voters must look beyond wins and losses though.

     Speaking of "Cy Young" candidacy.  Whoever the broadcaster’s were for Saturday’s White Sox/Red Sox game on FOX, were off base.  I will only use this one comment to show how they were just that.  One of them said "Tim Wakefield tends to get overlooked when speaking of Cy Young candidates."  This is not an exact quote, one built on memory.  But this is an absurd comment at this juncture in the season.  Wakefield has 16 wins, which is what the comment seems to be built around.  He is 22nd in ERA+.  He has pitched well recently and unless he some miraculous finish should not be considered in this discussion.  His 22 innings of scoreless work is amazing, and from a fan’s standpoint even more so as it is built from the emotion of watching it, or the "Gameday" version of it anyway.  But this doesn’t alone when the award.  And if you look at the 16 wins, then don’t forget the 10 losses either.  It is mostly because he has had a decision in every game as to why he has so many wins.  He is now an above average pitcher based on his season so far, but A) who knows how he will finish, and B) How much does he even know where his knuckleball is going?  I mean, he can control the secondary pitches that he uses on occasion, but the knuckleball has a lot to do with the wind and all that good stuff, and that is he has only been a little above average over his career.  He is not a viable candidate, at this point, period! 

         

78 Wins and Counting…

     Sweeping a double header is definitely an encouraging sign.  Especially when your team outscores the other team 21-4.  And Eric Gagne performing well is also encouraging.  That is three straight scoreless appearences for Gagne.  Over the three outings he has thrown a total of three innings, allowing four base runners and striking out four.  And the first two innings of the three were meaningful, showing that maybe, just maybe, he can work out as we had hoped.

     I wish I could have seen that Yankees/Tigers game last night.  But I was not going to stay up that late, so I would not have finished it, and I cannot watch the game anyway, because my connection might be the equivalent of dial-up.  Maybe not that slow, but it is closer to that than it is to me enjoying streaming video.   

     I found this out on Neyer’s blog the other day, but did you know that a save was earned in that 30-3 losided victory of the Orioles the other day?  Yes, Wes Littleton earned a save for that.  Inexcusable rule!  They must change that.  I mean, yes he kept them from scoring what ended up being 27 runs over his three innings of work.  But Eric Gagne two weeks ago could have accomplished that, even some freak clone mixed with Todd Jones and Byung Yung Kim’s DNA could have finished this game out. 

     Speaking of Todd Jones, is there any team out there that feels as if the game is over when he trots out of the bullpen?  I can hear the opposing players saying, "Oh no, its Todd Jones!  We might as well pack it up boys, Todd Jones is coming in."  It isn’t as if he has been terrible over his career.  He has actually been decent.  But they should just start the inning with a man on first, and the batter with a 3-0 count.  Then his 1.5 base runners per inning can assume what was inevitable anyway.  I don’t know how he had such a good season with the Marlins in 05.’  Maybe I am bitter because I saw the worst of Jones, as he was absolutely terrible in his stint with the Red Sox in 2003. 

     Sticking with the bullpen theme, that Angels pen is really struggling.  They are 10th in ERA in the AL .  This is a pen that a lot of people, myself included, thought was the best in baseball.  But Rodriguez seems to put himself in precarious positions quite often (even though he generally gets out of them).  And on July 14th Scot Shields’ ERA was 1.66, it now sits at 3.59.  He was arguably the best setup man in baseball recently.  And not to say he cannot re-establish this title, but simply that he is not currently holding it as we speak.  This is coming the night after their three best arms out there threw three scoreless innings, to complete a shutout of the Blue Jays. 

Wes Parker?

     I admit, I had never knowingly heard the name Wes Parker.  And as some of you may have heard, he is the greatest defensive first baseman of all time.  According to the Rawlings "All Time Gold Glove" team at least.  Which is not definitive or a completely accurate measurement of defensive ability.  The "Gold Glove" winners are not always deserving of the award.  See:  Jeter, Palmeiro.  But the majority of the time, I would say that a good player wins the award.  And we should not expect anything less as these are so called "Experts" making these decisions.  So they must have at least some knowledge about this game if we appoint them with this stature.  But defensive statistics are not what their offensive counterparts are.  And let’s just say that the defensive stats in past decades are not even close to as reliable as the ones used to evaluate range, etc, in the modern decade.  So I really have little idea of how good Wes Parker was back in the 60′s.  I notice that he won six "Gold Gloves."  And that he was fairly sure handed with his glove.  But what I don’t have access to, is his "Zone Rating" or John Dewan’s "Plus/Minus" system, or even "The Hardball Times" statistical tools.  But we did not have those back then.  So I have to base some of the viewing on what the awards and the "experts" are saying.

     But am in no way am I saying that Parker should not have won.  All the other choices seem logical enough.  Maybe they weren’t the absolute best ever at their respective positions, but they all seem to be in the top tier at whichever "zone’ they covered.  Some of the comments below the Associated press article on ESPN, have arguments/comments by viewers.  Like; Ryne Sandberg should have won.  Don mattingly should have won.  But like usual they mostly seem to be subjective.  And why not, the stats weren’t reliable, and nowadays no one wants to seem to admit that defensive statistics actually matter somewhat.  So their reasoning is built around who they saw perform, and "Fielding Percentage" of course.  Which are not the right ways to evaluate this sort of thing.  And it is harder to figure out who is the greatest defender of all time than it is to figure out who the greatest player of all time is.  And no, I don’t have the answers for either, but can and will dish out my opinions on them.  But will be much, much more confident in the greatest player of all time discussion. 

     Anyway:  Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith, Willie Mays.  Is anyone going to be able to give a valid argument as to why any of these players should not be on this list?  Griffey could very much be argued.  Especially since Andruw Jones didn’t make the cut.  But they are all good defensive players.  So it seems to be accurate enough to interest me.  But having Derek Jeter on the ballot was absolutely indefensible. 

      

    

    

That’s What I’m Talking About!

     So Eric Gagne’s struggles continued last night.  I was watching the game, or maybe I should say reading the game in MLB’s "Gameday," and the Sox gained the lead in the bottom of the eighth.  And I knew it was Gagne coming in.  Papelbon and Okajima had been used earlier in the day during game 1.  Delcarmen had been used in the top of the eighth, so he wasn’t going to pitch another inning, especially since he was ineffective.  So Gagne comes in and I had to look at runs crossing the plate in alphabet form.  I was very upset, I must say.  The Yankees had already won and we could have stayed six games up on them.  But Gagne pulled another "Byung Yung Kim" and blew a critical situation.  But there was a positive in this game.  The Red Sox fought back and hit in the clutch, that is very enlightening.  In June they would have lost this game 4-0.  In April they would have won 5-4.  But yesterday they lost, however,  showed signs of life and fight in the process.  Not to mention, hit well against one of the best bullpens in the game.

     I know that Jason Giambi wasn’t suspended for his admittance to using PED’s.  I was watching some of the obnoxious, semi-entertaining "Around the Horn" writers debate it the other day.  And I was kind of torn on the subject of him being disciplined.  On one had, as Marrioti pointed out, he admitted to using and should be suspended, Jay thinks.  I can see his point of view.  But I can also see the rest of the panel’s point, which was "He should not be disciplined because it will cause other players to withhold their PED use."  This second view I do agree with somewhat, but how many athletes, that are currently playing, are going to come out and admit their usage as Giambi did?  I mean [no one] else may do it.  Giambi may be the last one to do so.  Retired players, or when a player retires,  may admit their indulgence, but I highly doubt that anyone else admits to using, unless they fail a drug test.  And at that point, the truth will be out anyway.  So Selig could go either way on this, maybe this is one of those times where a seemingly meaningless fine should be placed on Giambi, just to have some kind of penalty.  $50,000 or something close to that.  Then he still gets to play, and it isn’t too extravagant of a penalty.  I don’t know what the legality of fining a player in this situation would be, just a thought though. 

     Chris B Young has five home runs in the past five games with the completion of tonights lopsided victory against the Braves, in which he actually went hitless.  His OBP is actually below .300 over the course of the season, and his OPS+ is below average.  But he has yet to turn 23.  He is learning the game, and should be a fine player for years to come. 

     Clay Buchholz started the first game of his career yesterday.  I didn’t get to see it because of work.  And I would have gone back to watch it, but my new T1 connection is garbage.  Maybe the company should get in touch with "Cyberdyne" to ensure a technological upgrade.  After all if they can create a computer chip that can cause the world to end, then they can probably give me some bandwidth to work with. 

     Speaking of rocking a good bullpen, the Red Sox duplicated last nights feat and earned a "W" in the process on this night.  I wouldn’t have used Papelbon with a five run lead against the bottom three in the order tonight.  But they did. 

The Greatest Lineup Ever Assembled

     Coral (West Coast College Student) and I were trying to come up with "The Greatest Lineups" that we could assemble the other night on instant messenger.  And I threw out some names, as did she, but now that I have the time to research it, I will give my conclusion on the great debate.

     Let me give a premise though.  Imagine that every player that ever existed is walking around in a giant field for no apparent reason.  And a friend and I are choosing our two teams to compete against each other.  It makes it easier to know that I have to compete against someone.  Because I am choosing the players i want to give me the best chance to win, rather than just a team of players that I like.  And the odds that we would choose identical teams is obviously very unlikely, although similiar teams would probably be fairly unavoidable.  I am going to have a starting lineup, and one starting pitcher.  And every player happens to be in their prime.  So just think we are choosing every player at their best.  This seasons Craig Biggio wouldnt be walking around this field.  All players are at their peaks.  We can each choose the same player since we have some kind of cloning machine or something (we have a special machine for Bonds’ giant head).  And yes, we have a cloning machine, might as well, right?  I mean it is already very improbable to have every baseball player to exist hanging out in the same field ready to play a baseball game, so two young adults can get their point across.  And the lineups have a DH, because, well, it is my creation to begin with.  And I have no idea who he is picking.  So I am choosing my lineup regardless of who the opposing pitcher is.  Here we go!

     1)  2B  Joe Morgan

     2)  LF  Ted Williams

     3)  CF  Willie Mays

     4)  DH Barry Bonds

     5)  1B  Albert Pujols

     6)  RF  Babe Ruth

     7)  3B  Mike Schmidt

     8)  SS  Nomar Garciaparra

     9)  C  Johnny Bench

      Second Base-  Joe Morgan, as annoying as he can be as an announcer, is probably the best second baseman to ever play the game.  His 75′ and 76′ seasons were completely ridiculous.  He finished each season with an OBP over .444, stealing over 60 bases in each, and winning a gold glove in each.  From the second base position!  As long as he didn’t share his opinion too much, he would be welcome. 

     Left Field-  Ted Williams may be the greatest player ever.  Top 5, no question.  Batting him second to keep the righty/lefty platoon as long as possible.

     Center Field-  Willie Mays is tough to argue with.  There were a few others I could have gone with.  Griffey, Dimaggio, Mantle, etc.  But I figured I would go in this direction.  He could do it all and more.

     Designated Hitter-  Barry Bonds was a great left fielder, before he grew out of his body.  So since the 02′ version would be my choice (all accusations aside) I put Williams in left, so Bonds doesn’t trip over his own feet. 

     First Base-  Albert Pujols.  Controversy huh?  Wait till we get to the SS position.  Pujols before this season was considered to be the best player in baseball.  But he has a year that is still really good, but AROD overshadows him and all of a sudden he seems to be second.  He is young, I know, but has created 9.5 runs per game.  He will be as good as anyone, ever,  if he continues this pace.

     Right Field-  Babe Ruth.  I feel like I sold out taking Ruth.  But no one will argue this pick.  I could have gone with Frank Robinson or Hank Aaron, etc.  But passing on Ruth may hurt me if my opinion of modern day players turns out wrong. 

     Third Base-  Schmidt may be the best defender this position has ever seen.  Some have said Rolen may be better, but it is incredibly close from what I hear.  Could have gone with a few others as always, but settled on Schmidt.

     Shortstop-  Nomar in his prime was incredible, and yes I get to choose these players, so I go with one of the greatest offensive forces ever at the position.  He was [ok] on defense.  And I had faith in him on either side of the ball when the game was on the line.  AROD would be the best SS ever had he stayed there.  But I would choose Nomar over ARod because I want someone who will come through in the big game, or at least makes me feel more comfortable.  It was so hard to decide, I just went with my heart I guess.  And Wagner had easier competition (my opinion) and never saw a slider (from what I hear).

     Catcher-  Johnny Bench.  Is anyone going to truly argue this?  Sure I could have chosed Berra or a few others.  But come on, Bench was awesome. 

     Starting Pitcher-  Pedro Martinez of course.  There is more than one capable choice here, but in his prime he was the best, in my opinion.  Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax probably would have been my next two choices. 

     And when I say "prime."  Peak years.  Not necessarily singular.  Brady Anderson for a season, was a heck of a ballplayer.  But I am not going to choose a player because they had one very good season.  And I actually feel bad even mentioning Brady Anderson in this blog to begin with.  But what’s done is done. 

     So there is my incredible lineup, set up for my fictional sandlot game, with whoever my fictional friend is. 

    

    

Dice-?

     I think Dice-K must have thought a quality start was six runs in six innings, rather than 3 runs.  And Andy Sonnanstine has two-hit us over 5 innings.  And did I mention that this is Tampa Bay?  It isn’t over, but this is a garbage performance on both sides of the ball.  Even if Sonnanstine is pitching well today, we still should have managed a few runs off of him, or at least more than two hits. 

     The question of who is better between Joba and Phil Hughes is answered right here:  http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/chamberlain-or-hughes-whos-got-better-mechanics/.  Well maybe there is no answer and may not be one for many years.  But this at least is an attempt to give us an answer. 

     A clutch win can still happen in Boston.  Proven last night.  Gagne struck out the side and the Red Sox had a walk off win.  You did hear that right.  A walk off win! 

     Why do a lot of people shrug aside the comparison of modern day players to that of legacies.  No one can ever replace a legacy, that is understood to most.  But it is very likely that a player of today can actually be better.  And a lot of us our stubborn in our approach.  The legacy of a "legacy" has been sinking in for many years.  It is tough to take an objective stance when evaluating a player who can do no wrong in one’s own mind.  I can understand some of that.  But I like to think that I can eliminate a lot of the bias when I make comparisons. 

     As for yesterday’s comparison?  Jay Buhner is not Roger Maris.  But I think it was a little closer than people will feel comfortable with.  I think Maris should be sitting right outside the "Hall," staring through the window at his 61-homer display, while Buhner should be looking at Maris from afar.  But Maris is a lot closer to Buhner than he is to the truly [great] Hall of Fame career that Frank Robinson had.  And Buhner played in Seattle, while Maris played in media friendly New York.   

     Eric Bedard has greatness written all over him.  He gave up three earned in seven innings his first start against the yankees this season.  And the second time around he two-hit the best offense in baseball.    The Orioles could be scary to [all] teams if they could get some bullpen help and maybe another bat before next season begins.   

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