What’s next?

So yesterday’s flurry of moves left the Red Sox active roster at 23.  Red Sox GM Ben Cherington laid out to a large degree what he sees for the team going forward…at least for this year.  But he of course didn’t get specific about everything.  Here’s a look at what I think will happen both short-term and long-term:

*In the immediate aftermath, Anthony Ranaudo will be called up to start tonight and Will Middlebrooks will be called up as well to man 3B for probably the large majority of the rest of the year…until he gets hurt again of course.  Due to the fact that the recent trades also left the bullpen with only 5 guys and with an excess of outfielders, I also expect another move before the game tonight to shore up the ‘pen.  Since losing Andrew Miller, Felix Doubront (and Chris Capuano a bit ago (yes, he still counts), who coincidentally is slated to start against the Sox tonight) leaves the Sox with Craig Breslow as the only lefty in the bullpen, I expect a lefty to arrive.  Likely Tommy Layne, but could be Drake Britton.  The corresponding move would be to put Shane Victorino on the DL…I know, shocking.  Solves the problem for now though.

*Rotation:  I expect Ranaudo’s start to be a one-shot deal.  But he will be back in September at the latest for some major league bullpen seasoning and maybe a start or two.  The rotation appears to be Clay Buchholz/Joe Kelly/Rubby de la Rosa/Brandon Workman/Allen Webster.  Ouch.  But I would hopefully say that this will only be for the rest of the year.  Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Eduardo Escobar, Steven Wright and maybe even Henry Owens may figure into this mix by the end of the year as well.  40 man roster space will have to be created for Owens and Barnes to be added, but there are some expendable bodies on there now (Mike Carp?  Dan Butler?  Alex Hassan?  Jonathan Herrera?  Kelly Johnson?).  But the rest of 2014 could be ugly here with the growing pains of the youngsters.

2015 should have a few of these characters, but I imagine some seasoned vets mixed in as well.  No way can they go into next year with 5 of the above, even if Buchholz takes his head out of his keister.  Despite what people think, I do not expect Lester back next year.  But I would think they get a reasonable facsimile in the offseason.  Some of these arms may be used as bait.  Could be anyone, so somewhat useless to speculate on who exactly at this point.

*Bullpen:  Right now it’s Burke Badenhop, Breslow, Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara.  Double ouch.  Again, I expect a lefty to be added today.  And then Ranaudo to be shipped back down after his start with a guy like Alex Wilson or Heath Hembree taking that spot.  Doesn’t inspire confidence, but there will be shuffling here the rest of the year as well.  Provided they re-sign Koji, which it appears they wanted to send the message that they do by not trading him, they can come up with some bullpen arms between the kids and countless vets in the offseason.  Not worried about that.

*Lineup:  It looks like it will feature the below for the time being:

C:  Vazquez/Ross, 1B:  Napoli, 2B:  Pedroia, SS:  Bogaerts, 3B:  Middlebrooks, LF:  Craig/Nava, CF:  Bradley, RF:  Cespedes, DH:  Ortiz.

I expect Brock Holt to play almost every day still, probably twice a week each for Bogaerts and Middlebrooks.  Once or twice a week for Bradley.  Every once in a while a day for Pedroia and Cespedes.  Despite his recent slide, they seem to like him at leadoff.  So he will find a way to stay in the lineup if he hits.  I expect left field to actually be a strict platoon for at least the rest of the year.  Craig isn’t exactly lighting it up and Nava can hit righties well.  So if it’s not strict, I have a feeling it will be close.  I could be wrong.  I figure Craig to also pick up some starts for Napoli at 1B.  Victorino is hurt again and you certainly can’t expect him to ever be healthy.  So he may be the real odd man out here this year.  Carp and Johnson will be lingering, but there is really no room for them.

In September you will see the return of Mookie Betts.  Not sure where he will play.  But I am ok with giving him more at bats in AAA through the end of their season.  September callups will probably include Herrera, Ryan Lavarnway, Garin Cecchini, maybe Hassan and Butler.  But playing time for them will be slim.  I believe they will stick to the above lineup for a while.  Unless they do something crazy like shut Pedroia down.  I still feel his wrist is bothering him and that’s why his batting stats have suffered.  But no one has the stones in the organization to get him out of the lineup, no less send him to a DL stint.  He won’t do it himself.  We should in some ways applaud him for that.  But this year is a lost year.  Get him ready for next year.

I don’t think you will see Blake Swihart in September, but he’s a name to keep an eye on for sure.  I think he enters the mix sometime in 2015.  Never know though, maybe he gets a taste.  They’d have to add him to the 40-man too.  But again, shouldn’t be a problem.  As for next year, I think this is wide open too.  Many question marks.  Do they keep Xander at SS?  Is Will any good and if so, will they trade him?  Napoli and Victorino with their contracts down to just over a year…are they involved in waiver deals in August or even in the offseason?  Can Cespedes play RF and will he sign an extension?  Craig, LF or 1B?  When is Swihart ready?  Same catcher tandem to start the year?  Where is Betts going to play?  Etc.  As I’ve said before, I think they use some of these guys and deal for another established bat…maybe it’s Giancarlo Stanton, maybe someone else.  Seems like there are too many bodies still.  If/when that happens, things will certainly shake out.  Anything short of a trade like that, I think we are looking at about the same lineup in 2015.  Could be worse.

 

 

The smoke has cleared…

Wow…what a day!

Red Sox fans are certainly not used to being in this position.  Sellers.  Feels weird…especially less than a year removed from winning the World Series.  Let’s take a look at each deal.  Then consider the future.

*Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes and a “competitive balance” pick:  As I said the other day, I believe the Sox had no intention of re-signing Lester.  So feeling out the trade market was really the only option.  Unless you wanted to keep him on a non-contender…and then get one measly draft pick back in return.  Better to take a chance dealing him.

Gomes’ “intangibles” are wildly overrated, sorry.  And on a losing team, he is just about worthless.  Just getting him out of town works for me.  Love how he says “I’m going to a team in first place and I’m bringing the best pitcher in the game with me…”.  Even though he did say “best pitcher in the game” about Lester, he still made himself the focal point.  What a leader.  Good riddance.

Who saw major league talent coming for Lester?  Didn’t everyone think the Sox would get prospects?  In any event, Cespedes isn’t any kind of savior, but obviously has some pop.  That has been clearly lacking on this years team.  Also not a lot of pop on the horizon from the minor leagues.  Especially in the outfield.  The park should be better for Yoenis.  Maybe he hits .250, but if he’s hitting 35 bombs with the Green Monster helping inflate the numbers, so be it.  Remains to be seen if he is in their long term plans though.  Only signed through next year.  I still feel that they will make a run at Giancarlo Stanton in the offseason and Cespedes may be affected by that move.  Better than expected return for Lester here I say.

*John Lackey and Corey Littrell for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig:  Admittedly don’t know anything about Littrell.  But with all the young pitching prospects the Sox have, he was likely expendable anyway.  Again, Lackey ain’t pitching for 500K next year.  That would have been more of an issue as this lost season wore on.  Good time to ship him out.  I’m not in love with Kelly, but he still may have some upside and is a decent piece.  Hopefully Craig regains some of the form from the last couple years.  Cuz he has been putrid this year it seems.  So unless Littrell becomes a superstar, seems like a fair return for Lack.

*Andrew Miller for Eduardo Rodriguez:  Know nothing about Rodriguez.  But I know enough about Miller.  He has been pretty good, but as I’ve said before, he is just a middle reliever.  They’ll find another one.  My last fond memory of Miller was being at the afternoon game at Fenway on 7/10/14.  Koji choked a save and then they brought in Andrew for the 10th.  Some dude near me on the right field roof deck starts pacing and screaming “MILLER TIME??  MILLER TIME??  IT’S OVER…I’M GOING TO COPPERFIELDS”.  And he did leave.  Miller actually got the win that day too.  Funny.

Anyway, Eduardo seems to be a legit prospect and people are saying Sox got a good one.  I’ll take their word for it.  You have to imagine for the Sox to trade someone within the division, they asked for more.  Thanks to the Duke for this one if it pans out.  Must have killed him to give anyone good to this ownership group…you know, the ones that fired him years ago when the Duke thought he was getting a piece of the team.  Then the Duke was out of major league baseball for like 10 years.  Actually was schlepping around Nashua, NH with an independent team…managed by Dauber himself…Brian Daubach.  Aaaah, great memories…

*Stephen Drew and cash for Kelly Johnson:  I have no use for Johnson, but I have less use for Drew.  So this works for me.  Johnson is on the DL anyway.  I actually thought he could be a sleeper this year, with his power and him playing in Yankee Stadium.  Thought he would get plenty of ABs too, with that wretched Yankee infield.  Turns out he did squat…or even less.  Now he’s here.  Hopefully won’t see him until the rosters expand in September…and not much after that either.  My feelings are clear on Drew, always have been.  What a waste of money this year though.

*Felix Doubront for “Player to be Named Later”:  Felix basically talked his way out of town.  Well, he pitched his way out of town, but his words did nothing to help him.  His whole tenure with the Sox was disappointing, to state the obvious.  But after coming into camp in 2013 out of shape, he eventually had a decent year and was key in the World Series.  I thought he would springboard off that in 2014…not into greatness, mind you.  But take another step forward…#3 starter perhaps?  He was atrocious.  Then spouted off about getting demoted to the bullpen, despite being given plenty of chances to stay in the rotation.  Then he quit in his last appearance for the Sox.  6 runs in 2/3 IP?  Awful.  Paved the way out of town.  Don’t know who the Cubs are sending yet, but it’s actually a decent gamble for the Cubs to be truthful.

I remain mystified as to why they did not entertain offers for Koji Uehara.  Doesn’t make sense to me with all the factors I cited in my last piece (age, contract status, potential for breakdown, ability of teams to “fall” into closers, etc.).  But other than that, the Red Sox seemed to make the most out of this day.  I wouldn’t have minded seeing guys like Carp, Mujica, Breslow and Badenhop departing, but you really aren’t getting much for those bums, so you may as well keep them.  For now anyway.  And with Victorino’s injuries and Buchholz’ wild inconsistency, now is not the time to talk about trading them either.

We’ll chat about the future next…this year and beyond…

Keep the line moving…

Jake Peavy is gone.  Thanks for helping the Sox in 2013.  But 1-9, 4.72 ain’t gonna do it for us this year.  Can’t even believe that they got a couple bodies for him.  Maybe they make it, maybe they don’t.  But the return is acceptable.  Keith Law is some kind of minor league expert for the four letter network.  But how he thought you could get anything more for Peavy is beyond me.  I don’t care what your “sabermetrics” tell me.

Who is next?  Who should be next?  I’ll tell you here:

*Jon Lester–I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.  A few things.  I am never in favor of giving long term contracts…to anyone.  In any sport.  But I think the circumstances dictate giving one to Lester.  Lackey may be gone.  Buchholz is unpredictable.  Doubront hasn’t panned out.  Peavy is gone.  There are 7 kids next in line, but who is to say any of them will make it?  Makes sense to give the “leader” his deal.  Bring stability to an uncertain staff.  Take them to the next generation.  Maybe the Sox have to eat some dough.  So be it.  They have it.  Better Lester than some dude that you don’t know if they can’t handle Boston at all.  Even if he isn’t a true “ace”.  Just do it.

But I don’t think the Sox had any intention from Day One of re-signing him.  Real lowball initial offer.  Just like Damon and all the rest.  The owners can tell the fans “we tried to sign him”…though the fans know better…or they should.  Bottom line…seems like the Sox don’t want him back by their negotiation efforts.  Lester is going to test the market…and some team (Yankees?) will break the bank for him.  May as well send him out at the deadline and see what the return is.

Again, to be clear, I do NOT want to do this.  But I feel it has come to this point.  See what’s out there.

*Koji Uehara–I don’t know why this is even debatable.  LOVE this dude.  But he is a 39 year old closer.  The Sox’ FOURTH choice to close last year.  Someone who hasn’t put in a lot of full seasons since he has been in the States, due mostly to injury.  Free agent at end of the year…though they can tender him at a cool 15 mil or so at the end of the year (a la Drew).  If someone is willing to back up the truck, why are we waiting?  Even if they are willing to give SOME sort of decent return?  We know closers are fungible, so is Koji, whether Sox fans are willing to admit this or not.  Not going to win anything this year…makes total sense to deal.  What are they waiting for?

*Andrew Miller–Putting up some serious numbers this year.  But in close situations he is losing games.  Is he piling up Ks in meaningless situations?  Maybe.  May have finally harnessed his talents, but are you willing to gamble 3 years, 21 million in the offseason that it is permanent?  Me neither.  Middle relievers are interchangable.  Someone else will have these numbers next year.  Deal him for something now.

*John Lackey–Tough to consider dealing Lackey AND Lester.  But Lack ain’t pitching for 500K next year.  So see what’s out there.  Take it from there.

*Clay Buchholz–OK, this is pushing it.  And the value would be low.  So it may be better to keep him for now.  See if he throws a no-no in September against minor leaguers and maybe his value goes up in offseason.

*Breslow, Badenhop, Doubront, Mujica–Ain’t gonna get a case of sunflower seeds for these guys, so may as well keep them.  Maybe put Felix back in rotation and see if you can soak someone in the offseason.

*Jonny Gomes–Maybe someone else will buy the “leadership” crock.  Although he does hit lefties.  He and Nava make a pretty good LF platoon I admit.  But on a losing team, and Gomes being an impending free agent…if someone bites, let him go.  His huge ego takes up too much space in the locker room anyway…

*Stephen Drew–Goes without saying.  MAYBE this would have been a good signing…if they were the same team as last year.  Shiiiii-iiite, I saw him make a few stellar defensive plays tonight.  But never liked this signing…they couldn’t have given him 3 mil?  Maybe someone else will take the bait.  Move Xander back to SS to see really if he can hack it.  Just shouldn’t be here period.

*Shane Victorino–While he is hot and “healthy”!!  Ok, wishful thinking.

*Mike Carp–Really, are we even talking about this arsehat??  He requested a trade recently.  Does he know he is Mike Carp?

Think that covers everyone.  Consider packaging prospects for a bat…not likely until the offseason, but see if that angle hits.

It’s just time to face facts.  Sox are done.  Look at the future.

 

 

National League All-Stars

In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game played last week, here is my National League All-Star team.  Better late than never…again.  21 position players, 13 pitchers, each team represented.  (S) for starter.  Comments below each position.  The NL team was harder to pick than the AL squad.  Lot of players close together.  Though I refused to take some of the stiffs that Matheny actually took in real life.

C:  Yadier Molina, StL (S), Jonathan LuCroy, Mil, Buster Posey, SF

As noted in the AL column, not a huge fan of taking 3 catchers.  However, there were actually SIX NL catchers all pretty closely lumped together and worthy of consideration.  SIX?!  Since there is technically no DH on the NL ballot, I chose an extra C.  How?  Glad you asked.  The others were Devin Mesoraco, Cin, Miguel Montero, AZ (both of whom made the actual team) and Evan Gattis, Atl.  Montero’s average was in the .260s and Mesoraco and Gattis both missed enough time in the first half so that their at-bats wouldn’t qualify for the batting title, if they were in the mix for that, that is.  That kind of reasoning worked for me.  Take all six if you want.

1B:  Paul Goldschmidt, AZ (S), Anthony Rizzo, CHC, Freddie Freeman, Atl

I actually thought about Matt Adams here as well…but then I thought that was funny.  Justin Morneau is having a nice year.  But he gets penalized for being in Colorado (more on that later).  Pretty cut and dried group in my eyes.

2B:  Dee Gordon, LAD (S), Chase Utley, Phi

Thin.  Daniel Murphy? Neil Walker?  Nope.

3B:  Todd Frazier, Cin (S), Anthony Rendon, Was, Aramis Ramirez, Mil, David Wright, NYM

Frazier is a no-brainer.  Taking 4 third basemen is easier because Rendon can play 2B…as he is doing again with Zimmerman back (well, he was for a bit) in Washington.  Aramis is always steady and Wright pretty much has to be the Mets rep.  Either he or Murphy and I’ve already laughed at Murphy as an All-Star.  That leaves the Fat…er, I mean, Big Panda on the outside looking in…as he should be.

SS:  Starlin Castro, CHC (S), Troy Tulowitski, Col, Hanley Ramirez, LAD

Yup, penalizing Tulo for Colorado too.  And why not?  His numbers are great again and he gets on the team (I suppose partly as the Rockies’ rep too).  But how does .417/14/35 at home and .257/7/17 on the road this year sound?  Awful.  The park effect is real folks.  That’s why I have a good chuckle when people think Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer.  It’s laughable that he is even on the ballot…first year maybe, but going on 5 next year?  If he ever gets in the HOF, may as well throw Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla in there too.

OF:   Giancarlo Stanton, Mia (S), Andrew McCutchen, Pit (S), Carlos Gomez, Mil (S), Yasiel Puig, LAD, Billy Hamilton, Cin, Justin Upton, Atl

Thought the starters were pretty obvious.  Puig may have a case based on his popularity, but the others’ numbers are better.  Puigs’ numbers are pretty comparable to some of the guys left off, but it is an All-Star Game for the “stars” and for the fans and who they want to see, right?  Right or wrong, that puts him in.  Many thought Hamilton couldn’t hit in the majors and he got off to a slow start.  But he has come on nicely.  And I am definitely not rewarding Charlie Blackmon for a fantastic April…in Colorado.

P:  Clayton Kershaw, LAD (S), Adam Wainwright, StL, Johnny Cueto, Cin, Zack Greinke, LAD, Julio Teheran, Atl, Madison Bumgarner, SF, Stephen Strasburg, Was, Craig Kimbrel, Atl., Rafael Soriano, Was, Aroldis Chapman, Cin, Jonathan Papelbon, Phi, Francisco Rodriguez, Mil, Huston Street, SD

Ugh…I hate being a hypocrite.  But admittedly I am being one here.  This is what I wrote in the AL piece, “My inclination is to take way more starting pitchers than closers and certainly middle relievers…etc…”.  Then for the NL team, half the staff is closers.  Well, at least the real team had 3 middle relievers and I didn’t take any of them here.

Just looking at the numbers…there are some NL starters I left off that are having decent years and merited consideration.  But they didn’t wow me in the end…talking about guys like Tim Hudson, Tyson Ross, both Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija before they got dealt to the AL, Alfredo Simon and his 12-3 record, Cole Hamels, hell, even Josh Beckett.  And Jake Arrieta is having a great couple of months.

But Soriano, Pap and Street have ERAs hovering around ONE.  Pretty impressive.  K-Rod has been great all year.  Chapman is averaging 2 K’s an inning.  And no one is better than Kimbrel in the NL.  Felt like for these purposes, they outweighed the starters’ contributions.

 

American League All-Stars

In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game played last week, here is my American League All-Star team.  Better late than never.  21 position players, 13 pitchers, each team represented (as much as this pains me, I suppose since the roster is so damn big, everyone should have a guy there at the very least…though they don’t do that in the NFL).  (S) for starter.  Comments below each position.  The AL team was actually not that hard to pick.  Not as many great candidates as one may think.

C:  Salvador Perez, KC (S), Yan Gomes, Cle

Perez is pretty much a no-brainer.  Gomes is my choice as the backup.  Plays full-time and numbers are decent enough.  MLB took Derek Norris and Kurt Suzuki as backups.  Those guys have OK numbers, but split time with others on their team.  If you can’t play full time on your own team, you are not an All-Star.  There are better candidates for Minnesota than Suzuki.  I see no use for 3 catchers either, especially when the pool is thin.  Put it this way, if AJ Pierzynski hits like he normally has in his career, he may have been the backup.  And he just got released.

1B:  Jose Abreu , CWS (S), Miguel Cabrera, Det

Either way is fine.  Miggy is still great, though homers are down.  Can’t ignore the rookie’s numbers.  Yeah, they are calling him a rookie.  Albert Pujols was actually back to meriting consideration here, but felt like he didn’t have enough, comparatively speaking.

2B:  Jose Altuve, Hou (S), Robinson Cano, Sea, Ian Kinsler, Det, Brian Dozier, Minn

Not enamored with taking 4 second basemen.  But the first 3 are legit.  And despite the low average, Dozier fits as the best Minnesota candidate, in my opinion.  Suzuki was a lukewarm option and the only other legitimate option was probably closer Glen Perkins.  Decided his numbers weren’t dominating enough to add to the squad.

3B:  Adrian Beltre, Tex (S), Kyle Seager, Sea, Josh Donaldson, Oak

Did you know that Beltre had over 2,500 career hits?  Neither did I, until recently.  He keeps doing what he is doing for a couple more years and now we are talking Hall of Fame consideration.  I feel like this came out of nowhere.  Seager is having a nice year.  Donaldson has a low average, but has the power numbers.  Was an MVP candidate last year and team is doing great this year, so feel like he is a worthy candidate in the end.

SS:  Derek Jeter, NYY (S), Alexei Ramirez, CWS

Been through all this in the previous Jeets post.  Weak crop.  Erick Aybar?  No thanks.  JJ Hardy?  Maybe, but where has the power gone?  Wonder if the Red Sox left Bogaerts at short and he was something like .280/8/40 by now instead of slumping horrifically…maybe he gets a third nod at SS.  What is done is done, however.

OF:  Mike Trout, LAA (S), Adam Jones, Bal (S), Michael Brantley, Cle (S), Jose Bautista, Tor, Brandon Moss, Oak

Trout and Jones are obvious.  You could argue Bautista over Brantley, but really doesn’t matter.  Moss is a nice story, but also having a pretty good year.  So he makes the cut.  Maybe could make a case for Cespedes, but took Moss instead.  Alex Rios is having a decent year, without power though.  Alex Gordon?  Nah.  And Melky Cabrera was .301/11/44, last I looked…just couldn’t consider it overall though.

DH:  Nelson Cruz, Bal (S), Victor Martinez, Det, Edwin Encarnacion, Tor

‘Nuff said.  Lots of numbers here.  David Ortiz always wins this vote by a landslide.  Not this year.  He can’t even make the team with these guys.

P:  Felix Hernandez, Sea (S), Masahiro Tanaka, NYY, Jon Lester, Bos, Max Scherzer, Det, Chris Sale, CWS, Yu Darvish, Tex, Scott Kazmir, Oak, Garrett Richards, LAA, David Price, TB, Corey Kluber, Cle, Koji Uehara, Bos, Fernando Rodney, Sea, Greg Holland, KC

My inclination is to take way more starting pitchers than closers and certainly middle relievers.  Great starters are infinitely more important to their team and that is why they get the big bucks, as they say.  Closers historically get hot for a year or three, but unless they are Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman, they inevitably fail and fall back into middle relief or the minors or out of baseball.  Very few of the elite ones that can do it for 10 years plus.  Middle relievers are usually failed starters AND closers.  So even though they can be dominant, it usually doesn’t last.  And if it does, they will go back to another key role.  But look at two middle reliever All-Stars from last year, Steve Delabar and Brett Cecil, both from the Blue Jays.  Both are no better than average (maybe worse) this year.  Hideki Okajima was an All-Star in 2007 for the Red Sox…no idea where he is now.  I do get that sometimes middle relievers are key…such as if they come in with the sacks juiced and 1 out in the 7th inning and have a 1 run lead…while the closer comes in fresh at the start of the 9th with a 3 run lead and gets credited with a save.  If they both close the door, who is really better?  But we all know getting the last few outs can sometime take a different animal, mentally for sure.  So I give some leeway for that.

Anyway, King Felix is a pretty obvious choice to start, though if Tanaka was healthy and if Sale didn’t miss time, arguments could be made for them as well.  Scherzer’s ERA is high, but he is still pretty dominant and is reigning Cy Young winner, so can’t complain there.  Lester and Price don’t have the win/loss record, and Price’s ERA is also higher than I would like.  But Jon belongs with his overall numbers and Price is Tampa’s rep.  Richards and Kluber kind of came out of nowhere, but both have excellent ERAs and average over a strikeout an inning, so are worthy.  Kazmir is a nice story having a nice year.  Can’t exclude Darvish as well…good numbers on a bad (though injury ravaged) team.  Mark Buehrle made the real team, but despite his 10-1 start (now 10-6), his overall numbers just didn’t compare.  Didn’t see a lot of other starter candidates for the team out there really.  Dallas Keuchel?  John Lackey?  Nope and…nope.

As for the relievers, Koji has been dominant since he took the role midseason last year.  No-brainer there for me.  Rodney has been very good and Holland has been as well.  As stated earlier, maybe could’ve made a case for Perkins.  The other big admission was Sean Doolittle of the A’s.  Having an outstanding year, but still leaving him off.  Why?  Going back to the middle relief thing.  A great deal of his numbers were accumulated as a middle reliever.  And he gets penalized for that unfortunately, in my world.  Jake McGee has closed some games and pitched great.  Same deal.  Zach Britton of the Orioles too.  Wade Davis and Dellin Betances have been exclusively middle relievers.  And have been dominant.  But not All-Stars in my book.

 

Jeter…All-Star ridiculousness…

One word…nauseating.  Granted, I did not watch every second of this game.  Skimmed through it pretty good.  I actually watch the introductions though.  It’s kind of cool to see guys like Josh Harrison, Tony Watson and Charlie Blackmon get to take some bows among the greatest players in the game.  Cuz they had absolutely no business being there.  Story for a different day though.

Nope, this post is about our boy Jetes.  Now, full disclaimer…I am a Red Sox fan…haha, yeah, you had no idea.  And I will also preface this whole thing by saying that I do recognize Jetes as being a great player over a long period of time.  Certainly deserving of many of the accolades that come his way.  I do respect him.  But let’s cut it out with “the Captain of Baseball” crap everyone was saying.  Jetes and Jason Varitek are two of the most overrated players in the history of baseball.  The way they still talk in Boston about how Varitek “called a great game” in his day still makes me violently ill.  Please.  Had nothing to do with the fact that he caught Pedro, Schill, Beckett, D-Lowe, Lester, etc…with regularity.  Always loved when he got praised after great games, but when Buchholz sucked the year after his no-hitter, it was always “Bucky partied too much”.  Always got credit, never the blame.  Ok, off track…

As for Jeter, couldn’t get enough of him Tuesday night.  I have no problem with him being at the All-Star game at all.  In all seriousness, look at the shortstop crop in the AL this year anyway.  Maybe Alexei Ramirez starts, but he is no great shakes.  Erick Aybar makes the team?  Yikes.  Maybe if Stephen Drew is doing what he did last year and wasn’t hitting about a buck-forty, he makes it.  Double yikes!!  So Jetes actually had a legit case to start anyway.  That is, if he could actually play SS anymore.  Hasn’t had range in years…despite all the Gold Gloves.  And of course he almost makes a great play right off the bat.  That’s where his rep comes in…he always did elevate his game when the lights were the brightest.  More on that later…

But Jeter making the start, leading off and some hoopla?  Of course!  And who gives a rat’s arse that Wainwright grooved pitches to him so he got a hit?  That’s what you do in these exhibitions.  Whoops…this isn’t really an exhibition…this time it counts.  What a joke.  If it counts, why are the aforementioned stiffs getting into the game, no less getting multiple at-bats?  Why are we running as many guys out there as we can?  Etc.  Just a dumb idea to have this game count.  But that’s the kind of stuff you do at All-Star games.  Celebrate great players.

Make no mistake.  Jeter was fortunate as well.  What happens if he gets drafted by any other team?  Especially a smaller market team?  Does he have the same career?  OK, you could probably say that about many players.  But the fact is, he came up through a legendary organization that contends way more years than not.  A club that spends money.  He has been surrounded his whole career by perennial All-Stars and numerous Hall of Famers.  Are we even talking about Derek Jeter if he toils for the San Diego Padres his whole career?  Again, this may be unfair to speak of, because again, the fact is, he played for the Yankees and “it is what it is”.  But let’s not dismiss the environment.

As I said above, Jetes saved his best moments for when the lights were brightest.  That of course is the sign of a big-time player, I wholeheartedly acknowledge this.  But it’s pretty easy to do, since he was in the playoffs every year.  If he’s not surrounded by the talent he has always been surrounded by, the Yanks don’t always make the playoffs and his legend diminishes a bit.

Let’s look at some of his historic plays as well.  Two stand out in my mind…probably cuz I keep hearing and seeing the damn things.  The first was July 1, 2004, the game that greased the skids for Nomar’s exit from Boston.  In a pretty big game (for the regular season), an intense one anyway, Nomar sat…didn’t even pinch hit.  While Jetes bloodied his face diving in the stands to snare a foul pop up.  Sure it was a great play.  But to this day, it is probably overrated because his supposedly equal or better counterpart actually sat himself down in a game against a bitter rival.  THAT was what made the story.  My recollection is (though it could be a bit fuzzy) is that Pokey Reese made a couple of great plays that game as well.  But Pokey is no Jetes, so that part didn’t matter.

Second historic play?  Game 3, 2001 ALDS against Oakland.  Jetes is backing up way over near the first base line and tosses a backhand flip to the plate to nail Jeremy Giambi, who would be the tying run.  Give Jeter the credit for being in a good position to make a play.  His instincts took over and he made an accurate toss and an admittedly great play.  But if Giambi slides, he is safe.  Why did he not slide?  No idea.  Pretty obvious case.  Especially when the on deck hitter is right in front of you telling you to hit the deck.  If Giambi slides, are we even still talking about this play?  Of course not.  Giambi’s idiocy was more of a factor in that play than Jeter’s positioning and toss.  Simple as that.  Enough of that one please.

Couple thoughts about him getting praise about “what he has done for the game” and his leadership.  What exactly has he done “for the game”?  Showed up to play every day?  Not to get caught juicing (everybody cheats somehow!)?  Hugged some babies in the stands?  What has he exactly contributed to the game, besides being a great player?  Help me understand that.  I guess the best thing we can say about him is that he never got in trouble off the field (that we know of), like many of his clown teammates.  And that he seemingly acted professional around the game.  Some probably give him extra credit for all the hot chicks he has toted around too…

As for leadership, and coincidentally “clown teammates”, if jeter was really the leader everyone claims him to be, he would have moved positions when that fraud Alex Rodriguez came to town.  Juice or no juice, A-Rod was an infinitely better shortstop than Jetes, there is no debate about that.  It would have been better for the team if A-Rod played short and Jeter played somewhere else.  But “the Captain” would have none of that.

Bottom line, a little too much of the whole Jeter thing Tuesday night.  Surprised he didn’t win MVP.  Or get to hit in the Home Run Derby on Monday.  A little disheartening to see all of that and have no mention of another 15 time All-Star who left us too early several weeks ago…Tony Gwynn.  With all of this pageantry, I cannot wait to see what the next 3 months bring across Major League Baseball.  At least hopefully the Yankees will be out of it…

 

 

 

LeBron is going home…whoop-de-do…

I’ve got to be careful what I write here.  I don’t want to offend LeFraud.  He’s going “home”.  Probably just because he wants to be loved so much in his hometown and all of Northeast Ohio.  He must feel bad about the whole “Decision” process from 4 years ago.  Gag…

I could care less about what LeBron does.  I’m far from a Cleveland Cavalier fan.  But what those clowns did 4 years ago, starting with the whole televised “The Decision”, to the dancing on stage with all three morons down in Miami…just foolish.  I understand that these days the NBA seems to be more about entertainment, rather than actual basketball.  And it’s ALWAYS about money…we all know this.  But someone should have told LeBron and the other idiots that this whole scenario was a pretty bad idea from the get-go.  In reality, he shouldn’t have even NEEDED anyone to tell him it was a bad idea, despite his young age.  Pretty obvious.  Especially if he was worried about what people would think of him.  It actually still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, despite James’ greatness on the court.  That’s never going away for me.  It is remarkable how Cavaliers fans now are ignoring it for the most part I feel.  Guess that’s what happens when you never win.

And James IS great on the court, no question.  But he does always seem to look for the easiest solution at every turn.  I suppose if I was in his shoes I would do the same…I mean, look at his first tour in Cleveland.  It was him and most of the time, some other flotsam and jetsam.  OK, Mo Williams and Big Z Ilgauskas and guys like that were decent, but by and large, not championship timber.  So who could blame him for wanting a few other bona fide superstars around him to make title runs every year?

Who could also blame him for wanting a max contract this time around?  He has never been the highest paid player on his TEAM, no less the entire league, so in that context, he deserves a max deal.  Despite the fact that no one deserves this type of dough.  Or that this ignores the fact he also makes a zillion dollars in endorsements.  But whatever.  I know that in my career, when I see useless stiffs making more money than me, that makes me upset…so it’s all relative.

I have to say that even though this whole “decision” process has been much more low-key, I am still not a fan of it.  There were still some theatrics to the whole thing.  Giving a story to a Sports Illustrated writer?  Why?  Because that writer (and the magazine itself) have been highly respected for years?  And this is supposed to change our impression of LeBron this time around?  Because he wanted to leave ESPN out of this for this time?

I’ve heard all kinds of talking heads spout many ideas about why he chose this route.  Who knows the truth?  I’ve also heard people say that this time around the move was “classy”, “tasteful” and saying, “I respect the hell out of him for it”.  WHAT?!  Joke.  For this to happen, it all had to be orchestrated carefully to make sure it all happened definitively in the end.  That includes the trade of two players to the Celtics for nothing (not that the two players the Celts got are difference makers.  But they still got them for nothing).  Prepping the letter.  And everything else.  I know the story was told “through Lee Jenkins”.  But does anyone think LeBron really came up with all that himself?  I’m sure most of the letter was pre-crafted to make him look good and then LeBron signed off on it.  People are acting like he sat down and penned it himself and Jenkins proofread it for spelling and grammatical errors or something.  Doubtful.

In any event, even though I am done with any offseason “performances” by James, I AM excited that he finally picked a place.  Now all the other free agents can make their plans too.  The teams can do what they need to and we can see how the league will take shape.  Locally, we can see what Danny Ainge will do with the 17 mediocre players and satchel of draft picks he has.  He can’t possibly keep all of the “assets”, can he?  I’m not sure what trade options are out there, especially with Kevin Love now considering Cleveland.  But Ainge has to be able to make some moves, no?  I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, my first move is to unload Rondo.  This is no secret.  There HAS to be some sort of market for him.  As the team is currently constituted, Rondo is not coming back after next year.  He’s already said he is looking forward to testing the free agent market.  The Celtics would be extremely stupid to give him a max deal that he wants.  A team that trades for him would presumably, at the very least, want him as a one-year rental, not a trade deadline rental.  So I would think it behooves other teams to make a deal for Rondo sooner, rather than later.

Around the rest of the league, no surprise to me that ‘Melo is going back to the Knicks.  More money for him there…seems like that is why Chris Bosh went back to the Heat.  The Heat’s max money is greater than what any other team can give him.  And I suppose he will be the focus there now, even if D-Wade comes back.  Still surprising that he wouldn’t jump to another team (Rockets) that had plenty of money to give him and plenty of talent around him.  Kind of a surprise to me.  As is Gordon Hayward getting 63 mil.  And anyone giving a 37 year old Vince Carter a 3 year, 12.2 million dollar contract.  This is only the beginning.

At least LeBron is done…and now we all can move on…mercifully…until the introductory press conference of course…