FJM General Red Sox Humor

Worst Baseball Writing Of The Month

Dan Shaughnessy gets eviscerated by Rob Neyer over the recent Globe article wherein the CHB basically asks Ortiz when he stopped beating his wife.

FJM General Yankees

What To Do When You’re Expecting

Jason Keidel writes that the Pinstripes are in Peril.

Well, yes, they are, I doubt they will make as much money as they want(/wont?). But here’s the thing:

Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, along with Nova and Hughes makes it very likely that their perilous peril isn’t quite so.. perilous. I can’t believe it, but for the first time in a long time, I like the pitching heading into spring. Which probably means the Yanks will tank it just to spite my eyes. But hey, the top three of the rotation can eat their crackers in any damn bed they damn please. They are really that good. Maybe a bit old, but not like they are getting worse for wear. That Gentleman’s club trio up top is arguably as good as any three in any club. Look it up, it’s true.


Don’t Let Baseball Get In The Way Of A Paying Gig

Rick Reilly wants you to read about Things that nobody reads in America today:

The online legal mumbo jumbo before you check the little “I Agree” box.

Kate Upton’s resume.

If I had to click “I agree to read Kate Upton’s resume in order to get a look at Kate Upton”, I promise you that I would make it a point to read Kate Upton’s resume. Do we get to look at Kate Upton now?


Required Reading

Ken Tremendous writes about Youk. It’s got a naughty word or two in it, so consider yourself fucking warned.



To read the Washington Post tell it, PH is a fat, lazy slob and Girardi is riding him like a rented mule. When you read the actual quotes, Hughes came into camp early and has been working hard to earn his position as a starter, impressing Girardi, though one has to wonder if Hughes’ various troubles could have been partially the result of a lack of conditioning and/or work ethic. Regardless, it’s good to know that the competition is lively between Hughes, Nova, Pineda, and Garcia to join C.C. and Kuroda in the rotation. Sabathia and Hughes are both slated to pitch today against the Pirates.


But I Thought Vampires Were Cool Now

I’m curious… where did people that could do a bit of easy math live before the intratubes forced them to become sun-starved basement dwellers? The cheapest apartment near a comic book store I suppose. Mom went soft after the cold war ended so I got to move back home, putting my futon and C64 in the cellar. I sprung for my own phone line so my Compuserve connection wouldn’t get cut when someone needed the phone upstairs.
I don’t know about you other nerds, but there is a good reason for my ghastly pallor: I’m afraid that ginger-haired chest-thumpers will give me a noogie.

FJM General Red Sox


I like Alex Gonzalez, mostly because it takes an unbelievable amount of guts to keep playing baseball while your son is in a coma. His is an incredible story. But upon news that Gonzalez has signed a one-year deal with Toronto rather than wait to see whether the Red Sox find a better option before throwing him a few mil, Bob Ryan takes the Seabass love a little too far.

Here’s one thing we can say about Alex Gonzalez.

The ball is hit to short and you can write “6-3’’ in your scorebook without looking up. It’s a done deal.

Absolutely. I mean, the 159 times the ball has been hit to Alex Gonzalez every single time we've written down "6-3" in our scorebooks. Well, except that error he committed. And the 51 times he recorded a putout himself. And the 17 times he was part of a double play. 

But sure, every single time other than the times he didn't, Alex Gonzalez has without fail recorded an out at first base.

So why won’t he be here next year? Did anyone ask the pitchers what they think?

Yeah! I mean, this is a democracy, right? When Theo Epstein decided not to go a fourth year on Pedro Martinez, that was done with the rest of the pitchers' blessing, right? And when he brought in David Ortiz, I'm sure that was done with the affirmation of all the other 1B/DH candidates. And when he traded Coco Crisp for a middle reliever, I'm sure Bob Ryan was asking what the pitchers thought about losing such a sure-handed center fielder. That's what I love about this team: The most successful run in Red Sox history, including the first World Championships in nearly 90 years, has been unequivocally fashioned by asking the players (and Bob Ryan) what they thought about each potential move.

Instead of Alex Gonzalez and the sure 6-3s, we will have a familiar player at short next year. Mr. X.

Mr. X might be Marco Scutaro or Khalil Greene or even Jed Lowrie (if he ever cures his wrist woes), or it could be someone off our radar screen entirely. But it’s doubtful Mr. X will be as soothing to the psyche of the pitchers as Alex Gonzalez, who was the best 162-game defensive shortstop I’ve ever seen in a Red Sox uniform back in 2006 and who wasn’t far from that status during the 44 games he played here in 2009. There’s a lot to be said for relaxing 6-3s, not to mention efficient 6-4-3s and 4-6-3s.

Alex Gonzalez: Really good in 2006. Indispensable for 2010.

I'm sure the fact that Gonzalez will be 33 next year won't in any way change his ability to get to the ball compared to what it was when he was 29. I'm also sure that it won't have any effect on his noodle bat — you know, the one that made him a replacement-level player last year, even after you factor in his good defense.

Did anyone ask the pitchers whether they like run support? How about whether they like going further than the first round of the playoffs?

Because a team like the Red Sox needs at least a league-average shortstop, no matter how nice Bob Ryan's scorebook looks.

FJM General Yankees

Reason(s?) Why The World Series Isn’t Over

I know one reason: neither team has won four games. But if that’s not a good enough reason, Jon Heyman has a few others.

FJM The Media

The Straw Has Been Grasped

Dan Shaughnessy this morning writes one of the weirder things I've ever seen — even from him!

Anybody else spooked by that center-field door opening when the Red Sox were batting in the bottom of the ninth 10 days ago? It was a moment. We’d just witnessed the apocalyptic implosion of Jonathan Papelbon and all the air was sucked out of Fenway as sad Jed Lowrie came to the plate. Suddenly, the door flew open. It was as if the Babe, or Dom DiMaggio, or any number of ghosts of Octobers past popped in for a visit. Red Sox third base coach DeMarlo Hale told Chone Figgins that the ghosts were in play. Figgins alerted the umpire and Torii Hunter went over to close the door. “I have no idea how it opened,’’ said Hunter.

Maybe Dan's sharing a wink with us, knowing that we know that he's the creator of one of the worst "curse" theories ever to gain widespread traction in the brainless sports media. But I doubt he's that self aware. 

But if the Sox, God forbid, go another year or two without a World Series ring, remember this date. It's when Dan's next book was born.

FJM General Yankees

A Tripod View of “Yankee Universe” With Three Broken Legs And Ugly Shoes

Filip Bondy draws a map surveying the core of the Yankee Universe.

“The Yankees have been a brilliant, cohesive unit this season, but really they are three teams masquerading as one.”

Brilliant and cohesive in a disjointed, subversive way?

“They are the young kids, like Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, on their first winning joyride.”

Toss out the dismissive attitude (and redundant phrasing) when talking about two players who have been up and down to the bigs for three years aside and consider that Hughes and Chamberlain both made the post season roster in 2007. More importantly, each has had media scrutiny unlike what any player usually receives by this point in their career and have spent most of their lives winning, often brilliantly, as pitchers for teams that generally win more often than not. How interesting would it be to read an interview with Phil Coke, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, or Francisco Cervelli, who have no major-league playoff experience in their short (and far-less covered) careers until last week? Or if you want to be a bit more tongue-in-cheek when penning a flip phrase like “winning joyride”, go ask Jerry Hairston about making the playoffs for the first time after 12 well-traveled years in the bigs, or Alfredo Aceves being a relative late-comer to the game of baseball and what his life was like coming through the Mexican League before getting a minor league contract at age 25, finding himself pitching on the biggest stage a year later. Never mind, that’s too much work. Instead, just throw a double-hook barb for no good reason:

“They are the veteran mercenaries, like A.J. Burnett and Johnny Damon, having a good-old, pie-faced time, with one eye on the paycheck.”

Back that bus up just to make sure you roll over a few other names while swerving to squash Damon and Burnett while driving this article. Why no mention of ARod? Tex? Swisher? CC? Pettitte mentions Sabathia when talking about this ‘core concept’, saying, “it’s just as sweet for me to see CC, Joba..” As an aside, it is curious that Pettitte gets a pass for his detour through Houston as a free agent. Maybe it’s because that canny bit of self-interest brought the Yankees the draft pick that landed Hughes. Anyway, instead of just letting Pettitte’s statement of camaraderie stand (and throw out this hogwash idea for an article), twist it like soft-serve:

“So they embrace the change, as they must.”

I have no idea what that means in any way whatsoever.

“And, of course, they are the Core Four – Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.”

Three of those “core four” are the highest-compensated players at their positions in the Major Leauges. But because they are “core Yankees”, they keep both eyes on the prize. And should they bring it back to the Bronx, it shall be more theirs than anyone else on the other two teams?

“The Core Four are tearing up October again, turning it into their own private senior community. It can’t last forever, we keep worrying. For now, it’s still great fun to watch.

It very well may be great fun, despite each word in that article doing its sincere best to ruin it.

FJM General Red Sox

The 95-Win ‘Mediocrity’

Why do I bother?

The Orioles have not been the Sox' only punching bag. The Sox are 11-4 against Toronto (another doormat) and went 11-7 against the inferior National League. That leaves the Sox at 46-45 against everyone else. All of this suggests the Sox are far closer to being a mediocre team than they are an elite one.

Tony Massarotti earlier in the week ran this column, saying the Sox are not actually a good team because, despite their record, the way they achieved it leaves something to be desired. This is reminiscent of the J.D. Drew debates a week or so ago in which Drew's detractors seemed more fixated on the way Drew achieved his excellent production, as opposed to focusing on his actual production.

One key difference is that the Red Sox in the postseason would be playing only the good teams. No Baltimores or Torontos to beat up. Only the Yankees, Tigers and Angels, if the season ended today. Teams against whom the Sox have posted a .607 winning percentage. Add in the Phillies, whom they could face in the World Series, and the winning percentage is .613, a 19-12 record.

FJM General Red Sox

Sounds Like a Job for…

It's been refreshing over the past few years to read the collective work of Amelie Benjamin and Adam Kilgore in the Boston Globe. The two writers have covered the Red Sox well, and their youth has proven beneficial, as they've both incorporated more comprehensive statistics into their analysis and reporting than, say, Nick Cafardo. Kilgore especially has even included OPS+, ERA+ and UZR in his stories for Web and print, while both liberally use WHIP and OPS, stats that some baseball writers still ignore or downright disdain.

That makes this morning's story by Benjamin about J.D. Drew all the more disappointing. The story as a whole is good enough, and certainly worth writing given Drew's just-completed month of August. Yet it seems a Drew defender's work is never done.

FJM General Red Sox

Jerk Doubtless

Does J.D. Drew sacrifice golden lab puppies to Satan?

Does he feed off the souls of the unborn between innings?

Does he read "A Modest Proposal" and think to himself, "Pansy"?

He must. How else to explain the venom continually directed his way by the Boston press corps?

This Sunday, Nick Cafardo (I know, I know, fish in a barrell) twice — twice!openly pined for someone else to be patrolling right field other than Drew.

FJM General Red Sox

When Wins Mean Nothing

From today's Worcester Telegram & Gazette:

At 42 years and 11 months old, Wakefield has had the best first half of his career. This is the earliest he has reached 11 wins. In 1998, when he finished with 17, he didn’t get his 11th until July 16. In 2007, when he also finished with 17 wins, Wakefield got No. 11 on July 22.

Look, I love Tim Wakefield, as we all do (or should), and it's interesting that this is the earliest date by which he's ever reached 11 victories. But this is not the best first half he's ever had, league-leading win total notwithstanding. And that's no reflection on Wakefield. He's a very good pitcher. His career ERA in the first half is 4.25, so he's actually performing worse than his average.

Here are his actual best first halves:

  • 1995: 7-1, 1,61 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 10 starts, four complete games, one shutout, 59 hits in 78.1 innings.
  • 2001: 6-2, 2.58 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 9 starts (plus three games finished and two saves), 8.2 K/9, 77 hits in 94.1 innings.
  • 2008: 6-6, 3.60 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 97 hits in 122.1 innings.
  • 2006: 7-8, 4.05 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 103 hits in 115.2 innings.
  • 1998: 10-3, 4.29 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 110 hits in 123.2 innings.
  • 2003: 6-4, 4.10 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 110 hits in 116.1 innings.
  • 2005: 8-7, 4.05 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 116 hits in 117.2 innings.
  • 2004: 5-5, 4.17 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 108 hits in 105.2 innings.
  • 2009: 11-3, 4.31 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 113 hits in 108.2 innings.

Of the 13 seasons in which Wakefield was more a starter than a reliever in the first half, this is his ninth-best, i.e., one of the worst first halves of his career. Which just emphasizes how good he's been for the Red Sox.

Another reason why wins should be disregarded when considering how good a pitcher is or has been, and why sportswriters should be better than citing them as anything more than a stat we all are accustomed to following.

Oh, and in 1995, Wakefield reached 11 wins in 14 starts. Last night, Wakefield won his 11th game in start No. 17. So, in an arguably more accurate and telling sense, it's not the earliest he's reached this mark either.

FJM General Red Sox

Debating Matsuzaka

Daisuke Matsuzaka is on the disabled list, a victim — to hear the Sox tell it — of the World Baseball Classic and the inadequate timing that provided for him to get ready for the season.

That leads Bob Ryan to write in this morning's Globe:

May we agree on one thing?

Daisuke Matsuzaka was not worth $102 million.There's a lot of financial craziness out there in modern professional sport, but we have not yet reached the point where a third or fourth (and in this case, fifth) starter is worth a total investment of $102 million for six years.

There's really not going to be any kind of debate about this, is there?

Well, for one thing, Bob, Matsuzaka isn't dead, so using the past tense on a pitcher with two three years left on his contract (plus the remainder of this season) seems a little unusual.

For another, Matsuzaka to this point has been worth $30 million, according to Fangraphs — 60 percent of the amount the Red Sox are actually paying him in a contract not yet halfway to completion.
Because I understand, Bob, that there is a lot of the financial craziness out there in modern professional sport, and some of that craziness includes the complexity of Matsuzaka's contract. Since you're paid well by the Globe to analyze said professional sports, I would hope you can understand such complexities: The Red Sox are paying Matsuzaka $51 million, not $102 million. The chances are good that Daisuke will easily end up being worth more than that by the end of his deal.
Now, yes, they did pay the infamous $51.111111111 million posting fee, and to some extent that was a reflection of how much the Red Sox valued Matsuzaka. But it was also a reflection of how much the Red Sox valued obtaining the most famous Japanese pitcher ever, how much the Red Sox valued making inroads into a heavily populated baseball-crazy market theretofore dominated by their fiercest rivals, and how much the Red Sox valued spending money that wouldn't count toward the luxury tax.

No one is going to miss a starter with an ERA of 8.23 and a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of 2.20. No one is going to miss someone against whom opponents are batting .378 with an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of 1.091. No one is going to miss someone who routinely gives up four- or five-run leads.

True, but the Red Sox will miss — and have missed so far — a starter who entered this season with an ERA of 3.72 and a WHIP of 1.32. A lot of people have missed someone against whom opponents batted .222 with an OPS of .679. A lot of people have missed someone who finished fourth in last year's Cy Young voting.

I understand Matsuzaka can be frustrating — both to watch on the mound and listen to after a poor performance. Ryan later in his piece seems to indicate why he apparently doesn't like Daisuke: He's a "nibbler."

What we’ve seen at his best is a guy who throws in the low 90s and who has decent auxiliary stuff. We have seen that, in common with pitchers in his basic category, he needs to hit spots to be effective. He has got to locate that fastball on the corners. If he can do that, everything else has a chance to work.

In other words, he’s like a hundred other guys.

Really, Bob? Because his results in 2007 and 2008 were like eight other guys — one of only nine starters in the American League to post an ERA+ over 120 and pitch at least 350 innings in that span. Names like Halladay, Beckett, Kazmir, Sabathia, Lackey. For that matter, let's look at it this way: Only 23 AL starters even managed 350 innings in those two seasons. Only 19 posted an ERA+ over 100. Matsuzaka was sixth.

Later, Ryan contradicts his own opening statement.

Understand that over half the $102 million John Henry paid to obtain Dice-K’s services was a posting fee to his old club. So the just under $9 million he gets in actual salary might be something approximating market value for a pitcher of Dice-K’s caliber.

But that’s not the way he was billed.

Matsuzaka has been worth about $15 million per season so far. In 2007/08 he was one of the 10 best starters in the league. Perhaps Ryan's expectations were a tad high. Because the Red Sox are a much better team with a healthy Daisuke Matsuzaka — who so far has been easily worth more to this ballclub than what they are paying him.
FJM General Yankees Steroids

Lupica’s 8-Ball: Yankees Ignore Outlook

Although he made an admonition that the Yankees are dissing the Magic-8, Mike Lupica congratulated Alex Rodriguez on his surgery.

The good news for Alex Rodriguez, who was due for some, is that the first of the surgeries on his hip was classified a success by his doctors. The even better news for Rodriguez, at least for the time being, is that he has now managed to change the subject, from steroids and Cousin Yuri to his rehab.

That “time being” eight seconds, which is how long it took for me to read that paragraph and also is the length of a successful bull ride, as long as we’re prosaically straddling Alex’s hips.