Dog Days

Three legged dog days, that is. While we were swamped with work and then took a holiday over Independence Day, a lot happened to the Sox. Or in some cases, didn’t happen. Interleague play wrapped up (did we mention how much we despise the concept of interleague play? If not: we HATE it). Clay Buchholz’ back failed to improve. Mike Cameron was DFA’d then shipped to Florida with a bag of money in return for, well, air. John Lackey sucked all of that air out of Fenway with another horrid effort. Adrian Gonzalez was named player of the month and Dustin Pedroia cracked two homers from the cleanup spot. And last night Jon Lester hurt his left lat, putting him out of the rotation for a couple weeks minimum, maybe more.

And while the Sox lead the Wild Card charge and trail the Yanks by just a couple of games (have we mentioned how impressed we are by the Yankees? If not: we’re impressed – this is one of the great smoke and mirrors jobs ever concocted by Brian Cashman, truly astounding, and Yanks fans should be proud), all is pretty dicey. The Sox currently field a rotation of Josh Beckett, Andrew Miller, Tim Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves, and John Lackey. This is a rotation that, to use a graduate school term we learned in a post-structuralist philosophy seminar, blows. If the Sox can somehow ride their offen– er, wait a second, I forgot: the typical lineup these days features Darnell McDonald, JD Drew, Yamaico Navarro, and Jason Varitek. So let’s start over. How about just “yikes”.

So it looks like, for the near term, the team is “Beckett and Miller, then a bunch of filler”. It has a ring to it. Tough times ahead, it appears. Let’s see if our team can just hang in there and then get healthy for the end of the summer. In the meantime, yikes.

25 comments… add one

  • I am disappointed that you did not bring up how much I hate interleague play.

    attackgerbil July 6, 2011, 8:16 am
  • I detest it. And I just posted in the prior thread about the ASG as well. That this exhibition game in which rosters are chosen by fans, the manager doesn’t select one of the best pitchers (in Sabathia), and the best players don’t even play, has any impact on real, vital post-season games is a disgrace to the sport, a complete insult to fair play. Thinking about the ASG and that it determines ANYTHING makes me seethe with anger.

    SF July 6, 2011, 8:19 am
  • I like interleague play because the Sox historically fare well against the NL, but aside from that I’m not a fan.
    I’m SHOCKED that Sabathia isn’t on the All Star team. That’s a pretty glaring omission.

    Atheose - SF July 6, 2011, 8:27 am
  • Nice saying, but I’m not sure even Miller is a sure thing. If he turns into one, that’s a far better pickup than anything Cashman has done (young, left-handed). Lackey though was a worse signing than Burnett and they both blow. I hope Lester is okay. Unlike Dice-K and Lackey and Crawford, he would be a real loss and especially against the Yankees.
    I give Cashman little to no credit actually. He’s had 13 years and he’s still throwing the same shit against a more expensive wall. The only “prospect” they trust in the rotation? A guy with 60 starts to his credit and a 4.97 ERA in them. So next year will be the same garbage. Except Colon and Garcia will be due significant raises and multiple years. Meanwhile, not one of the vaunted Yankee pitching prospects will have made significant progress.
    All that talk about Yankee prospects is just that – talk. They have exactly no ability to turn them into actual major leaguers. They have to go to other organizations to turn into anything. The old Earl Weaver saw about making them relievers first doesn’t even work when you have pumpkins like Cory Wade and Luis Ayala clogging the pen. Hell, their prized prospect at catcher should be in the majors right now and starting. Martin is showing that he’s much better suited to a backup role.
    This Yankees team is not so different from the versions we saw in 2004-07. They hit but the pitching is nothing to bank on. Smoke and mirrors, indeed. /seeth

    James YF July 6, 2011, 8:59 am
  • Based on his past history, Miller definitely seems like a temporary “lightning in a bottle” spot starter. He’s never really been tested over a full season (though he did pitch 107 innings at age 23), so it’s possible that he’s just now figuring it out, but I don’t have much confidence in him. Having said that, I have yet to see any of his starts so I don’t even know how his pitches look.
    I’m surprised that Hughes has been a ‘bust’ so far; when he first debuted his stuff looked nasty, so I can’t help but wonder if bouncing him around between starter/reliever screwed him up. I have no idea what they should do with him now though. Garcia and Colon aren’t long-term solutions, but they were two fantastic acquisitions by Cashman.

    Atheose - SF July 6, 2011, 9:27 am
  • “Having said that, I have yet to see any of his starts so I don’t even know how his pitches look.”
    I was wondering the same thing. Fangraphs breaks down of these goodies and it suggests that Miller is no different as a pitcher. He’s throwing the same pitches in the same quantities. His fastball is showing +1 mph but I don’t read all that mush into it.
    As for Hughes, what kills me is he’s no better than when he first came up. In fact, he’s worse. I don’t see how that’s not a huge failure on the part of the organization. But then Joba got all of 43 starts in the majors (and 15! in the minors) before he was deemed a failure. And Kennedy got all of 12 starts in the Brox before he was shipped out.
    This organization is clueless. So clueless in fact that I give them zero credit for Colon and Garcia. If it weren’t for Tony Pena in winter ball they don’t sign Colon. They also signed Millwood and Silva. Throw enough shit aginst the wall and some of it will stick.

    James YF July 6, 2011, 9:38 am
  • “…this is one of the great smoke and mirrors jobs ever concocted by Brian Cashman, truly astounding, and Yanks fans should be proud), all is pretty dicey….”
    again we agree sf…twice in one day…what’s up with that?…anyway, if i can trot out our old friend, the “house of cards” analogy, that’s what i feel like with this yankee team, particularly the pitching…sure, give cashman all the credit in the world for the magic act, but don’t forget, this wasn’t plan A…cliff lee and pettitte were…whoops…i’m actually glad, not just for how it turned out, but that it gave a guy like nova a chance to pitch…now it looks like they will be taking that away with the return of hughes and colon, but that’s not exactly bad news to see those guys coming back…i always harp on the “it’s a long season, anything can happen” rant, but this is such a perfect example…the sox started the season in the inarguable position of having far superior starting pitching than the yankees, at least on paper…with the surprises of colon, garcia, nova, and now hughes return, the yankees actually have, on paper, surplus quality starting pitching…WHAT???!!!…and the sox, well, you said it quite well, and injuries can really change the landscape quickly, especially when the starting staff is affected with multiple issues…
    “…Thinking about the ASG and that it determines ANYTHING makes me seethe with anger….”
    the only thing that it determines sf is that bpud is a complete idiot…

    dc July 6, 2011, 9:49 am
  • The handling of Joba was ridiculous. In his first season after transitioning from reliever to starter (at age 23) he had a league-average ERA, and they completely gave up on him as a starter and sent him back to the bullpen.
    Ian Kennedy I can understand trading away because his ceiling and peripherals weren’t terribly promising, and it was absolutely worth it to bring back Granderson. But Joba has the skill and pitches to succeed as a starter and they barely gave him the chance.

    Atheose - SF July 6, 2011, 9:51 am
  • i gotta disagree with you james…nova has been a pleasant surprise…no, he’s no jon lester, and he probably never will be, but he’s given the yankees some much needed decent pitching at the back of the rotation…i don’t know what the plan will be for resigning one or both of colon or garcia, but it’s unlikely that they will be highly sought on the free agent market…most teams won’t want to take the risk on them, even if they do end the season the way they’ve started it…and if the yankees throw a few mil and years at them, so what…it’ll still be cheaper than what they were willing to give lee…i’d love to see the young guys come to the majors, but another year of seasoning and steady work in the minors with coaches that are focused on just them, is not necessarily a bad thing…for whatever reason, the yankees decided they weren’t ready yet, and colon and garcia were available…i have mixed emotions about montero…i think we might have seen him had jorge continued to struggle…and he can’t be any worse defensively that what we got…martin has cooled considerably, and cervelli never was hot, so you have a situation where montero could step in, but it probably means cutting cervelli loose, something the yanks don’t seem to want to do…

    dc July 6, 2011, 10:00 am
  • Hate to break it to YFs here, but based on results Hughes is a significant downgrade from Nova.
    Agreed on Joba. But then the season he was lights out reliever, he was a starter in the minors. He was always better than Hughes too. But who needs actual performance, when you have stuff and build? I mean Joba reported fat to camp!
    The problem with that view of Kennedy is he was the best of the three in the minors. That has to count for something, no? Sure, they got Granderson back and that does mean something. But wouldn’t ‘Zona have taken Hughes or Joba instead? The Yankees valued Kennedy the least and it looks like he’ll wind up as the best of the bunch. That’s saying something. Hell, that they held back Hughes and Joba for Haren also says something.

    James YF July 6, 2011, 10:02 am
  • The only study I’ve seen, by Jay Jaffe, suggests that “seasoning” in the minors makes as much sense as bunting in the first inning. There’s simply no relationship between increased time at AA/AAA and improved performance in the majors. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. The best experience for pitching in the majors is by pitching in the majors.
    Think of it this way: Major league hitters hit pitches that minor leaguers don’t. That’s tautological. Learning to get guys out that can’t hit your best stuff doesn’t help to get guys out who can hit that stuff. You need practice with those better hitters.
    That’s why the Yankees will always struggle to develop pitchers and haven’t yet in the 13 years of Cashman. They have no patience for learning on the job. And their attempts to do so end up accidental (Wang, Nova) or forced (Hughes). Hughes has been terrible as a starter.
    As for Cervelli, you send him down to AAA until/if he’s needed. He has the options. He’s not a major league player, not even as a backup catcher.

    James YF July 6, 2011, 10:12 am
  • “…The Yankees valued Kennedy the least and it looks like he’ll wind up as the best of the bunch. …”
    in the national league james, the national league, and arizona, where they haven’t cared about baseball since getting lucky against mo in’01…the landscape is littered with pitchers who excelled in the NL and absolutely stunk up the place in the AL, particularly the AL east…in the NL with pitchers hitting, you have 4 or 5 automatic outs…the AL absolutely owns the NL in interleague play for a reason: better players….the national league still uses that punch and judy style that seems to value the 2-1 win over the 10-9 slugfest…not that there’s anything wrong with that, i’m just saying that there are factors working in kennedy’s favor…yep, he’s a good pitcher, and the yanks might have guessed wrong on him, but i’m not gonna cry over it…i am crying over joba though…what a waste…and honestly, i can tell by the way you debate a point that if the yankees had kept kennedy and dealt hughes or joba to the NL, and their fortunes were reversed, you’d still be critical of cashman for keeping the guy they valued the least…second-guessing is a lazy copout sometimes…

    dc July 6, 2011, 10:36 am
  • Basically everyone in baseball valued Kennedy less than Hughes and Joba, if we’re to believe the prospect experts and reports at the time. What’s confusing to me is how you, James, selectively employ after-the-fact analysis. So Cashman is ripped for sending Ian Kennedy away instead of Hughes or Joba, but he doesn’t get credit for this season (you know, the one where the pitching is really good and they’re in first)? Ok.

    Nick-YF July 6, 2011, 10:47 am
  • since the yankees currently have no openings for the 3 b’s on the major league roster, i assume that you’re suggesting they cut colon and garcia now, and maybe trade nova or hughes, or even let cc walk after the season ends…good strategy, for losing…since there’s no value in pitching in the minors…why not start kids really early and bring them to the majors right out of little league…that way you maximize the years you have them, and they can learn to get major league hitters out right out of the chute…i mean, i have no way of knowing when a player is “major league ready”, and obviously the yankees don’t either…

    dc July 6, 2011, 10:50 am
  • the “Beckett and Miller” thing was expedient. I couldn’t come up with anything that rhymes with “Aceves” and I was certainly not going with “Beckett and Lackey”.
    Miller has looked serviceable to me. But it is a very small sample against mediocre competition. He seems to struggle with his control a bit. No complaints yet, but I would predict a certain downtick in his results as he faces the AL more regularly.

    SF July 6, 2011, 11:08 am
  • James, you’ve made your stance on the Yankees developing quality starting pitching abundantly clear. Why does every post have to turn into your personal feelings on that topic and Hughes? Many people agree, some disagree, but overall it’s clear: You are disappointed with Cashman and the job he’s done preparing the Yankees for the future on the bump and that Phil Hughes is a bust. Trust me man, I agree to a degree, but it’s just getting tiresome to always have the same conversation. It’s not like Beetlejuice or Candyman, no matter how many times you say it we are still “stuck” with what we have.
    I think this could be a good thing for Miller. Obviously you don’t want any player Sox or otherwise to get injured, but this will give Miller the chance to prove if he can cut it in the bigs. Hard for me to admit this but I’m rooting for him.
    As for you SF, you know my feelings if you are the Yankees or the Red Sox injuries should never be an excuse. (Not that you are making one, just in general) The Sox will be fine, as the Yankees have showed. They are winners and they will find a way to win, even with Darnell McDonald in the lineup. Just thank your lucky stars Theo has you guys in a position to try and withstand all of these injuries.

    John - YF July 6, 2011, 11:56 am
  • may make a suggestion to tweak your comment a bit john?:
    change “stance on” to “obsession with”
    ;)

    dc July 6, 2011, 12:19 pm
  • John, what is the difference between an “excuse” and an “explanation”?
    Honest question. If CC Sabathia’s shoulder explodes, Mark Teixeira flies into an upper east side condo, and Curtis Granderson gets a sprained neck at a local strip club, and the Yankees plummet in the standings then I will know exactly why their season failed. That’s not excuse-making.
    I think this is all semantics – what probably bothers you is the tone of the explanation, not the facts on the ground. If the Sox have to go without Lester and Buchholz the rest of the way is there anything wrong with speculating that this is what might do the Sox in?

    SF July 6, 2011, 12:50 pm
  • They are winners and they will find a way to win
    Also, I have no idea what this means. Honestly, I don’t. Can you help me understand? What makes them “winners”? Having won before? If that’s the case, then the Sox have a whole lot of non-winners on their team too. Do we just get to go with majority rules?
    Mind you: I don’t think the Sox are “losers”, either. I just don’t think that there is something intangible that will magically bring them success. Either they perform or they don’t, either they exhibit skill or they don’t.

    SF July 6, 2011, 12:54 pm
  • Ugh. Lackey. Easily the worst decision Theo’s ever made, especially given it wasn’t really a signing that *needed* to happen at the time, and Lackey wasn’t the type of pitcher you get regardless of need. I remember being excited, simply because Lackey was a good pitcher and it’s not my money, and I don’t think even the deal’s detractors thought it would turn so bad so quickly, but it’s a pretty solid example of why you don’t go out and sign anything but truly elite pitchers (or low-risk, high-reward types) in free agency.

    Paul SF July 6, 2011, 1:10 pm
  • SF, I wasn’t saying you were making an excuse by any means Pal. My apologies if it came off that way.
    Obviously if CC’s arm explodes no amount of “knowing how to win” could offset that…
    But…My stance on this has always been that the Sox and Yankees have the resources and should have the capabilities (both in and off season) to withstand injuries. Theo has put together a team that is more than capable of keeping the ship afloat while some of their injuries heal. Even more so than Cashman. If Lester is done for an extended period of time (God forbid) then Beckett can step in. Theo has prepared his team with a 1 and 2. So he needs to dig a little deeper into the organizational depth to help get them by, but they are still somewhat prepared to deal. In the Yankees case if CC went down (God forbid) Cashman would have to use his resources to find a replacement. It’s a combination of preparedness (Theo) and resources (Theo and Cash), that’s really all I am saying.
    I think knowing how to win and the calming influence it brings is a BIG part of sports. In both the Yankees and Red Sox case there is most definitely a sense of knowing how to win. It’s the ability to stay calm and deal during periods of time when you may not have your best players on the field, being able to weather the storm. Don’t get me wrong, talent is a big part of that, but having guys like Pedroia, Youkilis, Papi, etc…in the clubhouse and on the field during a time when all seems to be going wrong is definitely a positive.

    John - YF July 6, 2011, 2:06 pm
  • I think “knowing how to win” can be better explained as “veteran experience”. If you’re a younger kid and you see a key player go down with an injury, it can change your mindset. If you’re a veteran though, you’re used to dealing with team injuries and knowing that the team will somehow find a way to fill in the gap. It’s simply the ability to continue playing consistently despite changes in the makeup of your team.

    Atheose - SF July 6, 2011, 2:14 pm
  • It’s a long-standing debate, the experience thing. But you need to win to “know how to win”, so that’s already a big Catch-22. A different sport, but the Bruins this year had one guy, Mark Recchi, who had really won anything. Bergeron had won Olympic gold I believe. But for the most part the team was filled with guys who hadn’t won anything at all, and two key players in the Playoffs were Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin, who were rookies. When Josh Beckett won with the Marlins he hadn’t done anything, but look what happened. My guess is these guys are all so good they have all won something at some level, but a nary few ever win a World Series, and many team field squads with very few “winners”. I think it’s a red herring in a lot of ways.
    And it isn’t that I don’t value experience. But I don’t think experience trumps savage injury. The more talent the better, in my opinion. I don’t want to rely on the fact that Papi has “been there before”. Ever. I want to rely on stud pitchers and hitters.

    SF July 6, 2011, 3:04 pm
  • Oh I absolutely agree that a player’s overall skill and their health are more important factors. But past that a lot of the game is mental, and experience helps.

    Atheose - SF July 6, 2011, 3:26 pm
  • “…John, what is the difference between an “excuse” and an “explanation”?…I think this is all semantics …”
    exactly…the difference is subtle…i suggested here a week or so ago that the yanks seemed a little snake-bit injury-wise lately…i was whining, yeah, but like you sf, merely offering it up as a possible factor affecting the team going forward…there seems to be some stigma attached to “making excuses”…not sure why exactly…unless your team is filled with only replacement level players, you’re bound to lose something when you replace an above replacement level player with one that is likely valued lower than replacement level…otherwise that replacement guy would probably be starting over the starter…sf gave a few examples, but let’s say for another example, gonzo stubs a toe…tito can start papi at first base, and DH mcdonald…or maybe he moves youk back to 1st and starts sutton at 3rd…any way you look at it, it’s a downgrade from gonzo…so, is theo open to criticism because he wasn’t better prepared to cope with an injury to one of his starters?…i think not…pitching is even more dicey because there’s greater exposure than with 1 position guy…unless somebody really steps up, losing lester for any length of time is bound to hurt the sox…finding someone reasonably capable is on theo, whether it’s in the system or the scrapheap, but finding another jon lester is an unreasonable expectation…so in that sense, it’s a reasonable explanation [or excuse] to suggest that the sox and the yanks are not the same teams without their full complement of first-teamers…injuries are not within the control of the gm…stuff like the draft, player development, signing guys that suck or just aren’t a good fit, overvaluing or undervaluing free agents, bad trades, etc…those are things things within a gm’s control, and open him up to criticism or praise…

    dc July 7, 2011, 9:34 am

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