Joe Torre has finalized his roster: Josh Phelps wins the backup 1b roll over Andy Phillips, Wil Nieves beats out Todd Pratt for the backup catcher slot, and Sean Henn lands the final bullpen spot over Ron Villone. Sorry to see Pratt lose this battle, but I’ve got 5 bucks that says Wil Nieves doesn’t make it until the All-Star break as Jorge’s #2. Also, as we all knew, Pavano starts opening day.
Friday, March 30th, 2007
The Boston Globe jumps the gun and releases its Baseball Preview a day early. Peter Gammons was on ESPN Radio this morning making his predictions. We are officially in that golden time where all things are possible and nothing is sure. Soak it up. This is one of the best weekends of the year.
Gordon Edes, Bob Ryan and Amalie Benjamin all pick the Sox to win the division and the World Series. Shaughnessy somehow picks the Blue Jays to win the East, with the Sox as the wild card and the Tigers as the champs.Gammons split the difference, picking the Sox to win the East and the Tigers to win it all.
ESPN, meanwhile, publishes its All-AL team. A-Rod and Cano are the Yanks’ reps. David Ortiz and a new Sox acquisition we’ve apparently missed here at YFSF, "Manny Rodriguez," are the Sox’ entrants. A-Rod and Santana are predicted to win the big awards (booooring). They also inexplicably predict Alex Gordon to win the AL ROY. Why? Matsuzaka won’t be "as spectacular as Gordon" and would need 16-18 wins and low-3 ERA "to get everyone to get past his not-really-a-rookie status."
Let the arguments begin!
Thursday, March 29th, 2007
Seth Mnookin keeps trying to rebut Murray Chass’ increasingly bizarre "stories" on the Red Sox. He should know by now that it’s no use. This latest one is a doozy, possibly even worse than the J.D. Drew "tampering" allegation that not only was factually incorrect but illogically so, as well.
The Red Sox will never acknowledge that publicly. But in private, at least some members of their ruling triumvirate — John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino — have told a person who works as a consultant in Major League Baseball that had they been unable to sign Matsuzaka to a contract, they would still have considered the enterprise a success because he wouldn’t be on the Yankees. …
But as the negotiating progressed, the Red Sox grew intrigued, and they offered more than the $5 million to $6 million a year they had originally planned as their ceiling. …
But [Papelbon's] exit from the starting rotation presumably weakens it. It now has two 40-year-olds, one of whom, Tim Wakefield, had a losing record last season that might have made the difference between the Red Sox making and not making the playoffs.
There you have it. If not for Tim Wakefield’s 7-11 record, the Red Sox would have made the playoffs. Oh, and all that scouting the Red Sox did since seeing Matsuzaka pitch in the 2004 Athens Olympics? Didn’t mean a thing. They were only intrigued until the last two weeks or so.
I don’t doubt that the Sox would have taken at least some solace in the fact that even had they not signed Matsuzaka, they would have been keeping him from the Yankees, but that’s a far different sentiment than what is being purported here. No editor in his or her right mind should ever let this kind of unsourced crap into a newspaper.
We’ve got Bill James, you’ve got Dionne Warwick. Not only does Yankees "team psychic" Azra Shafi-Schelierini mistakenly think that "all Mets fans are happy", but she may very well be spending quality time monitoring Jason Giambi’s BMs. And by "BMs" we don’t mean "Bar Mitzvahs".
Joe Torre, watch your back.
Wednesday, March 28th, 2007
Reports have it that George Steinbrenner’s daughter filed divorce papers against husband Steve Swindal. How this affects the future of the team is pretty unclear right now. In a way, this isn’t worth posting about. It’s news, but there’s not much on which to comment. Say he’s indeed out as successor. Is that bad news for the Bombers? Is Brian Cashman’s future less secure? Is it good news? What do/did we know about Swindal anyway? It’s an impossible question to answer. More interesting is the speculation that George is behind the decision to divorce. This is speculation on my part of course. Still, could he have ordered the divorce as a preemptive firing as a message to others in the organization that he hasn’t lost his Georgeness yet? Is Howie Spira involved somehow?
On the way to work today I passed by Yankee Stadium. The sign said 6 more days until opening day. This was very early in the morning and they hadn’t changed it yet. But the point was made. We’re very close, so very close to actually talking about what’s happening on the field.
Last year I compared the Red Sox’ backstop to an oven-browned piece of bread. It wasn’t received entirely well. One commenter even used the dreaded "for shame" quip in taking me to task for my concise critique of our contracted catcher. As it turns out, my observations (of a player who, it must be noted, is one of my favorites) weren’t too far off, and Varitek skidded to a .238 average, .325 OBP, 87Ks in under 400 ABs. This isn’t an "I told you so", since I take no great pleasure in observing that 2006 was clearly a low point in Varitek’s career.
Returning to Fort Myers, we heard about what great shape Varitek was in, his health returned, his tank refilled. But this spring training the Captain has done very little to dispel fears of his waning skills, despite this supposedly rediscovered health. A .108 batting average. A .189 slugging percentage. One (yes, that’s right, ONE) extra base hit, a home run last week. So following up on last year’s dreadful campaign, a key player of the Sox enters the season with massive question marks. Say what you will about the unknown performances of Daisuke Matsuzaka and JD Drew in their new league or the unknown healthfulness of Jonathan Papelbon: my own biggest query rests with the captain of the team: will the 2002-5 Jason Varitek ever return, or are we in fact witnessing the steep and irreversible decline of a career, right before our eyes?
Not only did Pedro Martinez pitch the best game ever by a Red Sox hurler against the Yankees … Not only did he pitch what are arguably the best two seasons ever in Major League history … Not only did he bring a baseball championship to Boston after 86 torturous years with stellar starts in the ALCS and World Series … (Never mind the five innings of no-hit relief in the 1999 ALDS, the crushing of Clemens and the Yanks in that year’s ALCS, the one-hitter against Tampa, the five Ks in the ’99 All-Star game, the electricity he created every night he pitched, etc. etc. etc.) …
Not only that, but Pedro Martinez brought David Ortiz to Boston:
After the 2002 season ended, I knew there was a chance I was not going back to Minnesota. I never thought it would happen the way it did. I was released. Not long after that, I was out to dinner at a restaurant in the Dominican named Vesuvio when I ran into Pedro Martinez and his cousin. We started to talk. Pedro made a call to Jack McCormick, the Red Sox’s traveling secretary, and I think Jack called Theo Epstein. It didn’t take too long for Epstein to call my agent, Fernando Cuza, and before I knew it we had a deal.
What if Pedro hadn’t made that phone call, bro? What if I had signed somewhere else? What if I didn’t get the chance to play in Boston, where people are as crazy about baseball as they are in the Dominican?
The best pitcher and one of the most clutch hitters of our generation. All for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. Yeah. I’ll take that.
(Hat tip: Joy of Sox).
Tuesday, March 27th, 2007
The Herald reports the Sox have established their Opening Day bullpen, choosing Javier Lopez over Manny Delcarmen. Lopez had a good spring, but so did Delcarmen. The Sox will have three lefties — Okajima, Romero and Lopez — in the pen. That seems a bit much, and given the two, I’d rather have Delcarmen in there.
That is what Joe Torre had to say about returning to manage next season. Okay, so it is not quite as stirring of a sound byte as Patton’s promise to the Phillipines (edit: gerbil, you are an idiot. Signed, future gerbil), but Torre’s quote in a story by George King in the NY Post has a ring to it, especially since "a ring to it" may be exactly what it would take despite Steinbrenner’s assurances at the start of spring training. Cashman says Torre will have to wait until after the season, just like Mo, Jorge, and in theory, ARod. How well must the Yankees do in ’07 for Joe to keep his job from your perspective? From Stein’s? Maybe it will be holding on too long, but I think I would like to see Torre manage the Yankees through their move across the street.
TAMPA, Fla. – One Japanese pitcher has thrown 17 innings during spring training, allowing 13 hits and five earned runs. He has walked 12 and struck out 19.
Another Japanese pitcher has tossed 17 2/3 innings this spring. He has given up nine hits and four earned runs with seven walks and 19 strikeouts.
Care to guess which one is superstar-in-the-making Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox and which one is supposed rotation filler Kei Igawa of the Yankees?
Peter Abraham goes the snide route in the Journal News this morning, tarnishing an otherwise fine article with a needless comparison of the two Japanese pitchers based on their spring training statistics. Although, as commenter d-1 notes in a thread below, Abraham wisely stays away from extrapolating to his logical extreme — that Igawa will be nearly as good as Matsuzaka — he still can’t resist saying Igawa might be the better "bargain."
Forgetting for a second the lunacy of declaring someone with no track record a bargain a week before the season even starts, extrapolating those spring stats over 200 innings gives two entirely different pitchers:
208.2 IP, 106 H, 83 BB, 224 K, .906 WHIP
200.2 IP, 153 H, 142 BB, 224 K, 1.47 WHIP
By comparison, no pitcher in baseball had a WHIP below 1.00 in 2006. The top 3 in WHIP were Santana, Carpenter and Halladay, all 1.10 or below with ERAs below 3.20. Sixty-five MLB pitchers had WHIPs below 1.47, including Tim Hudson (4.86 ERA), Mark Buehrle (4.99) and the much maligned Gil Meche (4.48). Jeff Weaver’s WHIP last season was 1.51 (with a 5.76 ERA). Jason Marquis’ (6.02) was 1.52.
If Igawa can pitch on a level with those pitchers, he will be a bargain considering what they received in free agency. If Matsuzaka pitches on a level with Santana, Halladay and Carpenter, he too will be a bargain considering what Zito and Schmidt received in free agency. The comparisons logically shouldn’t go much further than that.
Monday, March 26th, 2007
As Paul noted over the weekend, Carl Pavano may be the Yankee’s starter on opening day, and Mark Feinsand in the Daily News has more on the story. Torre’s mum on the topic until later this week, but Feinsand says it sounds like some of his teammates are behind him. "This is a big chance for him," Jason Giambi said. "I know what it’s like to have to come basically back from hell. I know what it’s like; I’ve danced with the devil a few times down there."
That’s a fairly candid statement from Giambi without actually saying anything, akin to his non-specific apology to fans a couple years ago. His performance on the field (well, in the box at least) has won a good number of Yankee fans over, though I know there are many that think Giambi "got away with it" and will be forever tainted by whatever that thing was that he was sorry about but wouldn’t give a name. I don’t think that Pavano is the kind of pariah that Giambi was; he’s more a long-running bad joke, and his path to redemption is much shorter. In the spirit of forgiveness (or more honestly, necessity) I hope that Jason is right about Carl in this case, and there is good reason to be confident, as it certainly will not the first time that Pavano has escaped the icy clutches of the ninth circle.
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Dan Shaughnessy’s column today — a parody of Curt Schilling’s Q&A sessions on his blog — is very funny.
Not only does it capture the stereotype of many of the more enthusiastic postings there, but he even refers to himself as the CHB. Will wonders never cease?
Update: Schilling responds to Shaughnessy, and he apparently didn’t see as much humor in it as I did:
The only response I have to Carl Everett’s Curly Haired Boyfriend is this.
“First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win”
Putting his inherent ’toolness’ on display for all the world to see did far more than I could ever hope to do by trying to explain what a dope he is.
I think Shaughnesy has proved his "toolness" via his writing in far better cases than this one, but AG is right. This is definitely a war in which all of us — including the fans and the bloggers — are spectators.
The draft is over, and the YFSF community has gathered to
mourn mull over the results. Any discussion of trades, waivers, anger at Brad for choosing Jason Bay and Ryan Howard for the "crappy" team can be spouted here.
To start things off, I’m willing to make a very generous offer — Greg Norton for Albert Pujols. I’ll be waiting.
Sunday, March 25th, 2007
Saturday, March 24th, 2007