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…

WTF Pete?!

So the opening of NHL free agency was a few days ago.  And the Bruins did absolutely nothing.  Now, they couldn’t really do much, seeing they are within 2 millions dollars of the salary cap.  They have some restricted free agents to sign.  The money being thrown around on Day One was absolutely silly.  Foolish.  And they didn’t really lose anyone of tremendous significance.

You may say losing Jerome Iginla was significant.  I say no…well, maybe.  I’m not giving a 37 year old player a 3 year deal for 16M plus.  No matter how great his career has been.  No matter how well he meshed with Krejci and Lucic.  No way.  But they certainly need to replace his production.

Losing Chad Johnson, Shawn Thornton and Andrej Meszaros was definitely not significant.  Side note:  How did Thornton get a 2 year deal from anyone, for 1.2M per?  And 4M plus for Mez?  Wow.  That pretty much defines the silly money right there.

I’ve generally been a fan of Peter Chiarelli over the years.  I always appreciate his honesty.  Most of the stuff that comes out of his mouth you can take at face value.  While other GMs in town lie through their teeth.  But right now I wish Pete would start lying.  Because I have no interest in hearing what he has been saying lately.

The biggest news from him during the free agency period may have been that they are fielding offers for Jordan Caron.  Jordan Caron?  Someone wants him?  But…who cares anyway.  Caron has not cashed in on any of his many chances.  Time to move on.  Certainly not big news.

Ok maybe the biggest news from him during this period has been regarding the moves he is NOT making.  He is NOT trading Brad Marchand.  He is NOT buying out anyone.  He is looking at some trades…he may do some, he may not.  All somewhat disheartening to hear.

There are several buyout candidates on their current roster.  When you are up against the cap and need to still sign restricted free agents and also bring more production in, you need to consider this avenue.  As much as they may not want to.  I will admit, I do not know the exact rules on who you can buy out, how many players you can use it with, or if there is a total dollar amount or whatever.  But there are plenty of candidates for it.  One should at least go.

Chris Kelly is a no-brainer.  3M a year for the next 2.  He is a serviceable player, but not at that dough.  Not when you need the space either.  See ya.  I’ve heard that he may not be eligible because he was hurt last year.  I hope that is not true, but too bad if it is.  Adam McQuaid is another at almost 1.6M.  B’s have defensive depth and he is a 3rd pairing D at best anyway.  But his may be an injury thing too.  As much as I appreciate Greg Campbell and even Daniel Paille, 1.6M and 1.3M respectively is far too much for a 4th line forward.  Especially when they have kids seemingly ready to contribute on the 4th line at short money.  Any combination of these guys could go.

And not considering trading a guy like Marchand is a mistake.  His contract was joke from the beginning.  But his production and presence on the ice does not match the dollar amount.  He used to provide both some point production and some peskiness that may have approached the dollar figure.  Especially in the playoffs.  Not in the last couple of seasons. Money could be better spent elsewhere.

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a number of times.  I’m going to say it again:  Consider moving Zdeno Chara.  37 years old, Claude plays him too much unnecessarily in the regular season.  Has worn down in the playoffs the last couple years (admittedly, injuries have contributed too).  7 mil a year on the books for the next 3, 4M the 4th year.  Still a top notch D-man.  But things will only get worse.  To me, it’s good business to see what you could get for him on the market.  The return will only go down over the rest of his contract.  They still have Seidenberg, Boychuck and all the kids to back up the move.  They could sign a vet for much cheaper to fill a hole at the bottom of the roster.  It just makes too much sense to me to consider it.  Why does no one ever talk about it?  It’s not like he has spent his whole career in Boston, like Bergeron.  That may be different.  But you have to consider this option.  Especially when Krejci, Soderberg and Boychuk will be due after next year.  There is more money you will need.

Regardless, I’m willing to give Chiarelli more time this offseason to figure it out.  It is still early.  But he needs to do something.  Moving Loui Eriksson up to the first line and throwing Justin Florek or Matt Fraser up to replace him on the 3rd and doing nothing else doesn’t excite me.  Nor will it excite anyone else.

Get something done Pete…

 

 

Addendum…Sox ideas

As promised, some thoughts on what the Red Sox should do heading toward the deadline.  I don’t care if the standings say they are 6-7 games out of a playoff spot.  Just isn’t happening.  Feels like the 2005 team.  Remember them?  World Series hangover baby.  Tito stuck with Millar and Bellhorn for waaaaay too long (cuz they were “his guys”).  Johnny Olerud was lighting it up but not playing (37 RBI in 192 plate appearances, Millar 50 RBI in 519 PA…and yes, I just looked it up).  Foulk-ie collapsed completely.  Instead of Pedro and Schill, it was Wake and Arroyo…and Matty Clement started Game 1 and got shellacked.  Guys like Blaine Neal and Chad Harville were getting time…and who remembers 39 year old Mike Remlinger giving up 14 runs in 6.2 innings over 8 games?  I didn’t…looked that up too.  But I remember Clement…and the general feeling that whole year.  Kind of applies here I think…

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want to sell off ALL of the good players.  But they can certainly sell off parts.  And investigate selling off anyone.  See what the return is.  The Sox will never sell off anyone, so I don’t believe anything significant will happen.  Unless they are as bad as the Bobby V year in August and someone agrees to come in and do them a favor.  But what are the chances of THAT happening again?

*Lester.  Truth be told, I want the guy back.  I would pay him too, despite being 31 by next year.  I waffled on this for a while.  I never thought he was a #1 pitcher on a staff.  But a pretty good #2 at worst.  Pitched under the bright lights of Boston for his whole career and clearly can handle it.  Pitches great in the playoffs.  Gamer.  Thankfully, Beckett was ushered out of town and Jonny Boy seemed to get back to normal.  I was pretty appalled that Lester ended up treating Tito like garbage at the end of Tito’s tenure, when Tito treated him like a son during the cancer years.  Seems like he had his head back on straight now though.  Regardless, he is not worth what he is most assuredly asking for.  But he’s better than what Uncle Larry (Lucchino) is lowballing him with…4 for 70 mil?  Please.  I want him back for the above attributes…plus some veteran needs to help groom the kids in.  Who better than him?  That being said, if he stonewalls, maybe the Sox can see what the return is?

*Lackey.  Move him.  Today.  He’s going to retire?  Please.  He’s just pissed about pitching for 500k next year.  I suppose I would be too.  But he signed the deal.  And they paid him like 16 mil for a year he didn’t pitch.  And another 16 mil for a year Sox fans wish he didn’t.  F him.  I actually supported the signing when it happened…I mean, can you ever have enough pitching?  But then I saw him making faces and calling out his fielders and yelling at players and all that crap and hated him ever since.  Screw him.  Deal him while he is pitching well (besides last night).  Let the 500k year be someone else’s problem.

*Peavy/Mujica.  Get these guys back to the NL, where they can go back to being mediocre, but successful.  Get anything you can for these clowns.

*Buchholz.  God I would like to deal him.  Done with him all around.  Pu$$Y, simple as that.  But you ain’t getting crap for him now.  Best case scenario is him pitching great in 2nd half, with no pressure of a pennant race.  And then unloading him for hopefully something half-decent.  But wouldn’t expect a lot.

*Koji.  Tough call.  I love this dude.  Who doesn’t??  But the fact is he will be 40 this offseason.  They would have to qualify him at about 15 mil to keep him, from my understanding.  Too rich?  Maybe.  The thing I keep coming back to is that some contending team may pay you a ransom for him.  Simply because of that, it is worth considering dealing him.  It just doesn’t seem realistic that he keeps doing what he has done for the last year over the next year plus.  Doesn’t make sense.  He’s always been a damn good pitcher.  But hasn’t lasted too many full seasons.  I’d at least see what the return could be.  Take it from there.  Who closes after he goes?  Who cares?  Kevin Gregg used to save 35+ games a year. Doug Jones.  A lot of stiffs.  Someone could do it.

*Nava/Breslow.  I lump these guys together because their value was never going to be higher than last offseason.  That was the time to deal them.  Keep Breslow now though…and see if you can get a fringe prospect for Nava,  For Chrissakes, they bought Nava for a dollar years ago.  So the Sox win in the end either way.

*AJ.  Release him.  Today.  The guy is a cancer, can’t catch and was brought on to at least hit and hasn’t done that.  If you can get some kid in 3rd grade for him in a trade, fine.  Get him out of here.  Split Ross and Vazquez the rest of the year.  Mix in Butler if you have to.  Or even Lavarnway for that matter when he is healthy.  Just dump AJ.  I feel pretty strongly about this.

*Gomes.  It’s a matter of time before he starts squawking about losing PT to guys like Holt and Betts…infielders just now learning to play the outfield.  His intangibles are so totally overrated, it is laughable.  Get him out of town before he becomes a cancer like AJ…if it’s not too late.

*Carp.  Haha, who wants this joke?  Why in the world did the Sox not bite in the exhibition season, when teams were “sniffing around” him?  You can find a Mike Carp anywhere.  I think they did find him in Brock Holt…except Holt may be better.

*Drew.  Just the name is enough said.  The signing was a joke…on so many levels.  I think I covered all that.  But if you eat salary, a contender may take him.  Do everything you can to drum up interest.  And then give him away and cut your losses.  He broke up the no-hitter tonight.  See if anyone bites on that!  ANYTHING!!

*Bogaerts.  Don’t even think of dealing him!  But during this horrific stretch, is a wake up call to Pawtucket out of the question?  Although I would be surprised if it happened, I actually would not be opposed to it.  Maybe this stretch before the All-Star break is the time to do it?  May also allow them to give a stretch of time at the big league level to Cecchini as well.

*Kid pitchers.  Time to make some decisions here.  As noted yesterday, they all can’t play here.  They all won’t fit on the 40-man roster at the end of the year.  Some are going to have to be dealt.  Barnes has struggled a bit in Pawtucket.  Britton has as well, but maybe that is because he is not used to pitching out of the ‘pen.  But the others are pitching very well.  Rubby, Webster, Ranaudo, Owens, Workman up here.  Even Steven Wright (though not a kid, but maybe he is as a knuckleballer?).  Time to deal from a position of strength.  Get a young OF prospect.

Regardless, the Sox need to be active at the deadline…or before.  Wishful thinking I know.  Ratings.  Money.  Uncle Larry.  But maybe some sense is out there to be had…

 

 

Mookie-time??

I have to say, I am still undecided on whether I like the Mookie Betts call up at this time.  I have strong opinions on many Red Sox items.  But I am still up in the air on this one.  Maybe throwing thoughts down on paper will help me out.

On one hand, I have been saying all year to “play the kids”.  The Sox won the World Series out of nowhere last year.  They had a team full of serviceable major league ballplayers, but really only a couple of superstars.  Other than Koji and Nava, none of the players really had a “career year”.  They all just meshed together well and basically everything fell all into the right places.  Quite frankly, it is still hard to believe.  They have also won 3 World Series’ in the last decade.  They have a pretty good amount of prospects in the minor league system (at least pitchers).  In reality, the time is probably right to start implementing kids.

On the other hand, where I was completely willing to watch the Celtics lose every game last season in order to get the best pick they could for the recent, supposedly deep, draft, I am unsure I really want to watch the local baseball team tank completely.  It’s kind of the line the Red Sox management team is straddling as well, albeit for vastly different reasons.  I just want them to be competitive because I love baseball and want to see winning action.  We all know the Sox want to do it for ratings and anything else that leads to them making more money.  Even though they will tell you that is not the case.  Sure.

In any event, I was all for them working in SOME of the kids from the start, regardless of whether that meant losing a few extra games in the name of development.  I certainly didn’t think that this method would kill any chances the Sox had this year if they did that.  If the veterans they had continued to do the same things they really always had in their careers, then this plus the kids should have made this a contending team again.  I also left open the possibility of working more kids in over the course of the year, as there would be injuries, there would be underachievers, and there would be guys that you could move for value at or near the trading deadline and not sabotage the chances for the current year.  I actually thought they MAY be able to straddle that line with some success, while also acknowledging the chances of back-to-back World Series Championships were likely slim anyway.

What I didn’t count on was most of the players not even coming close to what they have done in their careers.  As well as a couple of lingering injuries.  And a re-signing that made absolutely no sense.

To recap, I was totally fine with Xander being the SS, Middlebrooks the 3B and Bradley Jr. being the CF at the start of the year.  If the other 6 spots held their own and the great players were still great players, I figured the offense would be fine.  Unfortunately, although Gomes is about the same, Nava plummeted back like he was managing his college team.  Victorino has been hurt the entire time (we knew he would be hurt, but not basically the whole first half).  Napoli was hurt for a bit and I feel he has underachieved when not.  Didn’t love the AJ deal, but for 1 year, I suppose I would be ok.  He would at least hit and maybe we could move him at the deadline.  Work in Vazquez this year with Ross and with an eye to start next year.  But AJ hasn’t really hit.  And more importantly, Pedroia and Ortiz, even though Ortiz’ power has been pretty much there, are playing WELL under their career norms.  Throw in the fact that even the role players that contributed last year, such as Carp and Ross, haven’t been good either.  The Pedroia thing isn’t getting nearly enough play.  It could be that his wrist is still hurt and that is affecting his bat.  If it is, force him to sit by putting him on the DL and make it right.  I’m starting to wonder if his career is heading down the Youkilis path.  Youkie played hard all the time and threw his body around so much that it broke down earlier than most players.  Wonder if Pedroia is going through the same thing, especially considering his size.  Maybe that’s why he bit on the seemingly lowball extension.  He knew it.

Sssssoooooo, there goes that idea.  Then Bradley has sucked more than we thought (at the plate) and Will sucked and then got hurt…and…although Xander at least hit and was developing at SS, the Sox panicked and inexplicably signed Stephen Drew.  Not only is Drew worthless, but Bogaerts has struggled since being pushed back to 3rd.  Not to mention that there will be no room for Middlebrooks when he comes back AND he blocks Cecchini from getting any kind of cup of coffee this year to get his feet wet.  What a joke.  The biggest joke is that they actually caved and gave Drew his prorated 14.1 mil from the qualifying offer that he turned down over the winter.  As I said last year when he signed for 9.5 mil, when they gave him his 10 mil this year, with presumably no interest from ANYONE both of those years, couldn’t they have signed him for 3 mil???!  Who were they competing with?  Who wanted this stiff?  But I digress…

As for Betts, he was not one of the prospects I was expecting to see this year.  Especially since he was only a second basemen at the start of the year.  I figured he was quite a ways away.  Additionally, I figured he would have to learn a new position and that may take time…and it would happen in the minors.  (Kind of bothers me the Sox are seemingly panicking where they are having guys like Betts, Holt, Cecchini and maybe soon Middlebrooks learning new positions on the fly, instead of perfecting them in the offseason…story for a different day).  Mostly, I was thinking the above guys in the field and then some of the pitching prospects.  As they have started to with Workman and de la Rosa (Rubby should have stayed and someone else moved or released or something…again, a story for a different day).  Then maybe work Ranaudo, Britton, Webster, Barnes, etc. in relief toward the deadline and September, with an eye to rotation spots next year and beyond.  Kind of felt Owens was in the same boat as Betts, not here until at least 2015.  Figured some of the young pitchers would also be auditioning for trades…after all, not enough 40-man roster (or rotation) spots for all of them.

Betts has only played a handful of games above Single-A and is learning a bunch of new positions on the fly.  Yes, he has passed every test, at bat and in the field.  But is this pushing it?  If he comes up and looks foolish, does it stunt his growth?  Is he going to be a worse hitter than Bradley?  I’ve long held that the Sox keep their players in the minors for way too long, but I was ok with it in this case.  Just seems too fast.

At this point, I really don’t believe the Sox are going to make some noise in the playoffs however (or to GET to the playoffs, for that matter).  They aren’t that far away in the standing now, with several teams between them and a spot though.  The indications are there that it just isn’t going to happen however.  Even though they will never admit it, some of the vets are surely comfortable after the win last year.  It subconsciously affects them, I am sure of it.  Some of the guys just actually suck, like Drew and Carp.  AJ has brought a “Beckett-type” attitude with him, I am sure of that as well.  That can never be a good thing.

To me, after half a season of evaluation, it is time to start moving some of these vets while they can get something of value for them.  Even a box of baseballs for some.  It’s just not the same feeling.  I’ll detail some of those thoughts in another piece.

But where that leads me to on Betts…is that as this appears to be a season of going nowhere, the Sox may as well have him up and give him regular at-bats until the All-Star break at least.  If the results are bleak, they can ship him back quickly.  If there are positive results, they should play it out kind of like how they seem to be riding it out with Holt (who saw that one coming, by the by?).  But there is no harm in seeing Mookie play a few games at the major league level, I have come to that conclusion.

 

The REAL NBA season?

I have to tell you, what is going on in this particular NBA offseason is FAR more exciting than what happened in any recent ACTUAL NBA season.  I’m so down on the NBA these days.  Just not the same as when I was a kid and spoiled by the Bird-era Celtics.  Totally different game.  Fundamentals are lacking.  No one boxes out anymore.  Too many 1 on 4′s.  Too many guys shooting threes.  Too many isolation plays.  Too much “showtime”.  But I digress…

But this offseason?  Interesting.  I’m actually paying close attention to what is going on right now.  I know nothing about these kids that will be drafted.  But this draft has been hyped for seemingly two plus years.  So how could you not get excited about it?  I was hoping the Celtics would tank all year, even though I have no idea if any of these draftees are/will be any good.  Just seemed like a better path than getting a bunch of average veterans to be mediocre for years.  Lose this year, MAYBE the draft will help the C’s get better quickly.  OR trade a ton of these picks for proven talent.  Get better that way.  Seemed like a great plan.

Throw in the fact that all these major players are opting out of their contracts and are free as well.  Thankfully, Jo—El Anthony was one that opted in with his player option for the Celtics.  So at least we got him.  God, that guy is terrible.  I guess there could be worse 13th men.  But LeBron, ‘Melo and I’m sure a few more are bound to opt-out as well.  Adds intrigue to the whole offseason.

Now, don’t think I am saying that the C’s have a chance at the major guys opting out.  No F’n way LeBron comes to Boston.  Nor Melo (thank God on that actually).  Nor Bosh if he opts out.  Etc.  We know major free agents don’t come to Boston.  It’s just how it is.  And that’s ok.

The C’s can still get back to championship level.  Maybe not soon.  But there are ways.  And they have armed themselves to be players over the next several days.  With a ton of picks, some expiring contracts with value, a couple of players with value and trade exceptions…blah, blah, blah.

What will they do?  No friggin’ idea.  Kevin Love has of course been the big story.  I actually don’t see that happening.  And I don’t mind it.  He’s a great player, no doubt.  But if you bring him here with Rondo, you still are missing pieces to form a championship team.  You say Sullinger?  He’d probably go in a trade.  Dirk Nowit–er, I mean Kelly Olynyk?  Nope.  Avery Bradley?  Nope.  Chris Babb?  Ok, you get the picture.  If the C’s trade for Love, what’s left?  And will Love re-sign beyond the one year he has left?  I’m not doing a deal if he doesn’t.

Rondo is a different story.  It’s been no secret I’ve wanted him out of town for a long time now.  The fact that they made this petulant baby (redundant?) the Captain is a total joke.  He was a nice 4th piece in the (recent) Big Three era.  But a top 2 guy?  Nope.  Doesn’t play D as good as he used to.  Still can’t shoot jumpers or free throws.  Disappears on occasion.  I’m just done with him.

So the more I think about it, the more I am ok with tanking one more year.  Originally I wanted this to only be a one year tank.  Didn’t think I could do more than one year.  But then the C’s didn’t tank enough.  #6 pick?  Not good enough.  But combined with all their other picks in the near future, it may be ok.  Just going to take longer.  Somehow I am ok with that.  To me, better than one year of Love and Rondo…or several years actually.

There has been rumors of trying for the #1 pick.  Depending on the cost, I’d be all over that.  The top 2 in Wiggins and Parker are supposed to be the real deals.  If they stay at 6 and Embiid falls…well, that may be value too…but that scares the BEJESUS out of me.  Too many red flags already with him (cough, Oden, Bowie…).  One recent mock had the C’s taking him at 6 and a guy from Europe that can’t come over for 2 years (Saric) at 17.  Intriguing, but jumping up to get one of the 2 potential studs seems like a better idea to me, depending on cost.  I’m also just rooting against taking Shabazz Napier at 17 as well.  Everyone locally seems to want him here…UConn and all.  I’m good for now.

End result for me, is if the C’s get a good player at 6 (or an even better one at #1…though I really don’t think that will happen either), a contributor at 17, Sully and Olynyk keep developing, they get value in a Rondo trade (useful players AND picks), maybe get value for a sign and trade for Humphries, or a Bogans contract package, yada, yada, yada…and then “tank” again, it could be a good thing.  All of that and the picks they have in the future, plus maybe a Bradley deal and quite possibly, Gerald Wallace’s expiring contract may have some value…also, can they revisit getting Asik from Houston for Bass and Green (there’s some D and rebounding in the middle for minimal cost)?  Add it all up, and it may be a better scenario than people think.

But…I am ready for anything over the next couple of days and weeks.  I KNOW Danny will do something, good or bad.  He will do SOMETHING.  Let’s see what happens…