Blog Archives

Hot Stove Is Heating Up…

…but where are the Boston Red Sox?

Yes, I know, Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has been tasked to slash payroll.  So he isn’t about to hand out 324 million dollar contracts to anyone, no matter how prolific a player/pitcher they may be.

But…something??

Thus far, the Sox’ moves have consisted of outrighting to AAA their third catcher from September, Juan Centeno; adding 5 guys to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule V draft; designating pitcher Brian Johnson for assignment, then outrighting him to AAA once no one claimed him (big surprise); non-tendering infielder Marco Hernandez and pitcher Josh Osich (then re-signing them to lesser deals); trading backup catcher Sandy Leon for someone light years away from the majors and losing reliever Trevor Kelley on waivers…oh and wait!  As I blink, they just selected a 21 year old Double-A SS named Jonathan Arauz in the Rule V draft!! Wow…and now I blink again and infielder Jose Peraza is in the fold too!!

Scintillating.

The biggest names have just recently signed:  Stephen Strasburg re-upping with the Nationals, Gerrit Cole with the aforementioned 324 mil from the Yankees and Anthony Rendon cashing in with the Angels.

A lot of the lesser names have signed as well.  Kevin Gausman, Michael Pineda, Kyle Gibson, Didi Gregorius, Howie Kendrick, Drew Pomeranz, Tanner Roark, etc.

Not that the Sox need any of those guys in particular.  But a little bit of a slow start to the offseason, no doubt.

I guess I shouldn’t worry all that much.  There are still plenty of bodies out there.  Then again, also not a ton of good ones either.

On top of that, Bloom’s best track to improve the team may be by trades.  Actually, that is his best move to shave salary.  Not sure he’s going to get much for most of his trade options.

For example, rumors abound that other teams may be interested in David Price since his price tag looks a lot cheaper compared to some of the silly contracts being thrown out in the last couple of weeks or so.  But those rumors also say that either the Sox would have to eat some of that cash, or “throw something of value” along with Price in order to clear that contract.  There was some mention of outfielder Andrew Benintendi being that “something of value”.  Benny had a subpar year last year.  But is young and presumably has room to grow still.  So throwing him in a deal to clear other salary seems a little steep.  Then again, the farm system is bare.  So what minor leaguer would be “something of value”?  Would they actually trade one of their few good prospects, whoever they are?

Example #2:  Rumors also abound that the Sox are “aggressively shopping Jackie Bradley Jr.”.  It’s about time.  But about three years too late.  Who’s going to give the Sox anything for a guy who can’t hit, but will make 8 figures next year through arbitration?

Unless the Sox try to trade Mookie Betts, which I have been in favor of if he truly does not want to re-sign here, or inexplicably deal someone like Xander Bogaerts or Rafael Devers, how much will they get in return for ANYONE in a trade?

I’m actually wondering if the Sox are seriously considering dealing Betts this winter.  I don’t think they are, to be honest.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  But it won’t be great if he walks for nothing next offseason.  A trade deadline deal cannot be ruled out.  But if the Sox are in contention at the deadline, how can they deal him then?

Unless this is a true “bridge year”.  But how can that be true if Betts, Bogaerts, Devers, J.D. Martinez and Benny return in that lineup?  Sure, the pitching staff is more than suspect.  But how can this group of guys not be at least competitive?

Not to mention if Bloom walks in here and they AREN’T in contention at least somewhat this season, he will not be a popular man around town.  Not without divulging some sort of future plan…which you know he will not.

The way the 40-man roster stands now, with its current 38 players, there are holes all over the place.  Even if those stud players mentioned above stay and produce, pitchers like Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi (& Price?) rebound and contribute, the fact remains that there is all kind of dead weight still from those guys on down to the end of the roster.  Not to mention several minor leaguers that aren’t ready for prime-time.

Also…please don’t try to sell us on Dustin Pedroia playing 120-130 games at second base next year either.  Actually, don’t even get me started on Pedey here right now.  You all know how I feel about him.  Great career here, feisty little player over the years, lost some respect for him in recent years with his behavior, but in the end, he is simply done due to injury and it’s time to go.

So let’s get to work Chaim.  More than Arrauz and Peraza for sure.  At least maybe re-sign Rick Porcello back to that one year deal he wants to try to reset his value.  He was brutal last year.  But at least he takes the ball every 5 days.  More than you can say for most of the rest of the starters still here…oops…shortly after I wrote this, Porcello inked a one year deal with the Mets.  Oh well…

Changing gears a smidge:

In one more piece of recent Red Sox news, Dwight Evans had a renewed chance to make the MLB Hall of Fame the other day as he appeared on the Modern Baseball Era ballot.

This committee meets “twice every five years” and covers players, managers, umpires and executives from the 1970-1987 time frame.  It gives everyone in this period a second chance at the Hall basically.

But does everyone actually deserve a second chance at the Hall?

I am not so sure.

The Modern Era’s first enshrinements were Jack Morris and Alan Trammell in 2017.  Then the “Today’s Game Era” (1988-present) committee put in Lee Smith and Harold Baines in 2018.  The winners this year the Modern Era put in Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller (Players Association head).

Are ANY of these guys Hall of Famers??!  I’d say perhaps Miller since he led the charge for collective bargaining agreements, free agency and arbitration.  But none of those players are Hall of Famers.  They just aren’t.

And that includes our old friend Dewey Evans.

Evans was a very good player.  Better in the second half of his career than the first.  Piled up almost 400 homers and 2,500 hits.  And I had no idea until recently that he had more homers in the 1980s than ANY other player.

Those are all nice.  But did anyone buy a ticket to watch Evans play baseball?

We did for Pedro.  We did for Roger (he WILL get in someday, and you know he belongs).  We did for Teddy Ballgame (well, not me, I wasn’t born, but you get the point).

I am not even sure Yaz is a Hall of Famer.  But people that watched him play in his early years swear by it.  And presumably bought a ticket to watch him play.

Not for Dewey.

Loved the guy when he wore the Sox uni.  But not once ever did I think he was a Hall of Famer.

And now, with all of these recent dudes getting in, Cooperstown is getting so watered down, it’s kind of disheartening.

Do we put Evans, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, etc. in because Baines is in?  It’s trending that way.

Evans got 8 of the 12 votes he needed for induction on this committee (75% of the 16 members).  And was next in line behind Simmons and Miller.

Does that mean he is a lock when they reconvene in 12/22?

Say it ain’t so.

You’ll hear more ranting from me soon in my annual Cooperstown column.  But that’s all for now.

Cooperstown 2017…reaction…

The BBWAA…a bunch of frauds?

Well, I suppose we don’t need to go that far.  But did you check out Hall of Fame voting results this week?

I think my induction thoughts were abundantly clear from my previous post.  But some of the stuff I have been seeing from other writers this week has driven me bananas.  So therefore you get to hear about it, like it or not.

First, you have all the ESPN guys…Jayson Stark, Scott Lauber, Jerry Crasnick, Tim Kurkjian…probably all of them for that matter.  I’m sure they are all great guys and although I don’t read their stuff religiously, I have generally liked what they have done over the years.  I could do without them on TV, but that’s a different subject entirely…and there’s a whole laundry list of people I could do without on television.  So that’s not really any kind of bombshell.

But anyway, the big problem I have seen from those guys is that I think they want to add ALL the guys on the ballot to the Hall of Fame.  That statement may be a stretch, however, they consistently complain that they are limited to voting for only 10 players and there are more than 10 qualified candidates on the ballot.  In one recent year, Kurkjian actually said he wanted to vote for 21 players.  TWENTY ONE!!!  He’s out of his mind.

Maybe Kurk (and the others) are too close to the players and want to “reward” them.  Or something.  It has to be SOMETHING.  Because if these veteran sports writers actually think there were more than 10 players worthy of a Hall of Fame plaque, then they are delusional.

Twenty one…holy crap…I have never been able to get that one out of my mind.  Someone has to smack some sense into old Timmy Boy.

Then I ran into someone who tops these ESPN folk:  Some character by the name of Matt Snyder, a writer for CBS Sports.  Never heard of him, but looking at his bio tells me that he played college baseball and worked his way to CBS through various blogs and other websites.  Seems like he paid some dues and ended up in a great position.  Good for him.  I may even admit that I have some jealousy that he can write about baseball for a living.  But I won’t.  In any event, he should know what he is talking about, correct?

Snyder’s bio also tells me that he is a member of the BBWAA.  Uh oh.  Don’t worry quite yet though, he has about 8 more years of service to go to get an actual vote.

But he would have voted for 10 guys (Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Raines, Mussina, Schilling, Pudge, Edgar, Sosa and Sheffield).  If he had more than 10 votes, he would have also added Vladdy and Walker, wouldn’t be opposed to electing Hoffman, Wagner and Lee Smith and also would have given strong looks to Kent, McGriff and Posada.  18 guys right there.  Posada??  Really??  And he also must be too young to have lived through Lee Smith.  To make this a little more comical, he left Manny out and would have voted for Mark McGwire if he was on the ballot.  McGwire??  Wow.  I get that he has a personal PED rule where he leaves players out that were suspended while there has been a joint drug agreement in place.  That’s why there is no Manny.  And he has a right to his opinion.  But you honestly can’t tell me Manny is out and ALL the other kingpins of the steroid era are in.  Common sense has to take over at some point, no?

You have to read the actual piece to “appreciate” it, I think:

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/the-10-players-id-elect-to-the-baseball-hall-of-fame-and-those-who-would-miss-the-cut/

But wait, it gets better!  Three days after that post, after the results came out, he writes another piece where he tries to dispel a couple of “myths”.  The first being how the vote totals change each year.  In theory, what he describes makes sense, for the most part anyway.  I’ll give him some more love and you can read what he wrote here:

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/time-to-dispel-two-big-myths-about-baseball-hall-of-fame-voting-results/

What he wrote doesn’t change the fact that he still wants to put like 18 guys in the Hall.  Or that if you are changing your minds on guys over the years…more than once anyway…that probably means that he doesn’t belong.  Or the fact Tim Raines went from 24.3% in 2008, dropped to 22.6% in 2009 and then got to 86.0% in 2017.  That’s way too big a swing.  Were ALL of the voters whose votes had lapsed not voting for Raines and ALL the new voters now voting for him?  Hard to fathom.

The second myth is that the Hall is being watered down because of “lesser” players getting in nowadays.  He presents some facts, that may be true in theory.  But again, common sense needs to prevail here as well.  A smaller percentage of players are getting in the Hall nowadays based on his numbers.  But that only means plenty of mediocre players got in the Hall over the years.  That bumped those old numbers up.  He neglected to mention the Veteran’s Committee putting all kinds of unqualified guys in the Hall in the past.  To the point where the Veteran’s Committee had to be completely revamped.  If we took away some of those players, the numbers may be more in line.  And that’s just one aspect of what happened in the history of Hall of Fame voting.

I’m very sorry for what seems to be a personal attack here, Mr. Snyder.  But maybe you’ll get some more readers from me posting your links.  So perhaps you should actually thank me.  Regardless, this stuff is just a microcosm of the baseball writers of the day.  I’m sure this covers a great deal of the BBWAA.  We’ve already talked about the writer who voted for Schilling for years, but is now stopping because Schill started bashing the writers.  And the guy who sent in a ballot a few years back with only Jack Morris’ name checked off and no one else.  Because he felt “Morris’ career predated the steroid years, so he was voting for him and skipping everyone else because he couldn’t be sure who did ‘roids and who didn’t after that.”  And the writers who won’t vote for certain players on the first ballot, because they aren’t “first ballot Hall of Famers.”  And on and on.  Just not ideal.

Cripes, I have read some preliminary thoughts from some of these writers about 2018 Hall of Fame ballot projections.  Chipper Jones and Jim Thome lead the first timers and they certainly warrant consideration.  But I have also heard the names of Johnny Damon, Omar Vizquel, Scott Rolen and Andruw Jones get some early love.  What?!  Why not throw Scott Podsednik and Guillermo Mota in there as well…

So now that I have gotten completely carried away on something not many likely care about, let me leave you with this:

Everyone has their opinion on who makes the Hall.  I certainly have mine.  No one is wrong, sad to say.  But what’s the bottom line on determining a Hall of Famer?  I can tell you that one time long ago, I was watching Pedro Martinez throw one of those complete game, 3 hit, 17 strikeout gems at a watering hole in Boston with a friend.  Well, it started in the bar.  In the 4th inning, my buddy said “let’s hop on the T over to Fenway and see if we can get into the game.”  I actually agreed, even though the game was almost half over.  We got there in the 6th inning and probably still overpaid a scalper for “seats”.  And the building was rocking for the next 3 innings.  Worth it.  Now THAT is a Hall of Famer.

I can tell you for certain that not once have I said to anyone “hey, Mike Mussina is pitching tonight.  Let’s drop everything and watch!”

But maybe I am just an “Internet Tough Guy”…

 

 

Playing catch-up…baseball edition…

*David Price.  A couple of weeks ago, I said I wasn’t concerned about Price, despite his bad numbers.  I still can’t say that I am concerned.  But I have to tell you, we really need to see more…and soon.  13 starts into the season, 7-3, 4.63 just ain’t gonna cut it for $31 mil.  Especially when the rest of the staff sucks, other than a knuckleballer that could implode himself at any time now.

I know he’s pitched better recently.  But take the other night.  I know it sounds stupid to get on a guy that threw a complete game 3-hitter and only lost 2-1.  But let’s look a little deeper.  Price has had some games in which he got bombed, inflating the ERA.  He also has had some games where he gave up some runs right out of the gate.  This game?  A few things that an bona-fide ace should just not let happen.

Top of 4, Chris Young gives the Sox a 1-0 lead by dropping one in the seats.  What does Price do?  Gives it right back in the bottom of the 4th when he hangs one to Brandon Belt.

Bottom of the 7th.  Price is at 60-something pitches and cruising right along, despite the blip to Belt.  Then he throws like 30 pitches against the murderer’s row of Matt Duffy, Brandon Crawford, Trevor Brown and Jarrett Parker.  No runs, but…he should be blowing those guys away on at least half the pitches.

Bottom of the 8th.  Gives up leadoff homer to .190 hitting (.208 in 53 career at-bats) Mac Williamson.  Who??!

A three hitter against a National League team without Buster Posey and basically only Belt as a real threat is no huge accomplishment.  I’ll take it…but combined with his postgame comments about how “I have 7 wins and about a 5 ERA, I will get better.”  Should he be happy he has a near 5 ERA in the middle of June?  I don’t think anyone else is.

*This is why the Sox need to go get Yordano Ventura.  Well, there are many reasons.  The rotation stinks.  The organizational pitching depth is thin.  But most importantly, you may be able to get Ventura cheap…or cheaper than previously anyway.

If Kansas City truly does want to unload him, then he is worth a shot.  Sure, the numbers are down and he is flammable.  But he is still only 25 and throws gas.  Supposedly he is being “mentored” by Pedro Martinez.  Can that be a bad thing?  Pedro was a hothead and threw gas.  I’m not saying Yordano is going to be Pedro.  But I am saying Ventura is absolutely a risk worth taking, if the price is right.

*Hey, did you all know that Ichiro Suzuki is only 5 hits away from tying Pete Rose’s all-time hit record of 4,256?  Haha, no he isn’t.  I am combining his 1,278 hits in Japan with the 2,973 he has in the States.  And no, for the record, I don’t count his Japan hits.  Those are equivalent to hits accumulated in the minor leagues.

I broach the subject simply because for the past couple of years I have anticipated a lot of hoopla around Ichiro once he got “close” to Rose.  I figured a lot of jamokes would try to combine the totals and make a huge deal of it as he approached the number.  Especially since most of the people related to baseball would love for any way to erase Charlie Hustle from the record books.  I figured they’d be all over this…as bogus as it would be.  I am actually amazed I haven’t heard a peep.

That being said, being 27 hits away from 3k in the States alone is pretty impressive after his late start in the country.

*Madison Bumgarner in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game festivities?  Sign me up!!  Why the hell not?  The stodgy old baseball people will never let this happen.  But the game is for the fans and I guarantee the fans would eat it all up.  Just do it!!

*Joe Kelly to Pawtucket, Clay Buchholz to the bullpen.  I still want John Farrell fired…more on that later.  But I’ll give him some credit for making these moves, and the Fat Panda move at the start of the season, among other moves that he normally wouldn’t make.  Of course, Dave Dombrowski most assuredly gave Farrell his approval to make them.  But still…Farrell isn’t kowtowing to the veterans, as he has historically done.

In any event, Kelly stinks.  This has been no secret.  The St. Louis Cardinals always seem to know the right guys to get rid of (hello, Allen Craig!).  Why he has not been tried in the bullpen for one inning max is beyond me.  Maybe it’s because Curt Schilling is right.  Schilling, you say?  Pfffft…that guy is a gasbag!  That may be true.  But he knows pitching.  And in an interview earlier this week, he said “there is no ceiling to the numbers if Kelly had a baseball IQ.”  Ouch!  Schill then went into detail for his claim, basically saying that he doesn’t learn, but has amazing stuff.  So why aren’t coaches straightening this stiff out?  Got me.  Seems that it is then on the player.  And at 28 years old (Happy Birthday yesterday Joe!), that is not going to change.  Time to try something else…like the bullpen.

As for Bucky, I honestly can’t believe they went this route…to mop-up man.  I didn’t think they would release him.  And they can’t send him to the minors.  Perhaps a trade, but that wouldn’t happen overnight.  And with the organizational pitching depth being so thin, unfortunately, it is probably a good idea to keep him around…because when he is right (physically AND mentally), he can be dominant.

I think everyone fully expected him to get yet another phantom injury and spend a month on the DL and then several more weeks in Pawtucket on rehab…until he felt like he wanted to pitch up here again probably.  I would’ve likely still done that.  Because now you may completely lose the fragile (physically AND mentally) Bucky by burying him at the back of the ‘pen.  Maybe it was a new method to get him to take his head out of his arse.  We will see how it works out.

Unfortunately, I bet we see how Bucky responds to the demotion sooner rather than later.  The next time the Sox need a 5th starter, I would bet good money it is him.  Sigh…and I’m not going to expect different results.

*Psycho Steve Lyons said on a recent broadcast that “Hanley Ramirez is a Gold Glove first basemen.”  Also, “Name me who’s better out there now?”  ALSO, “He has made the infielders around him BETTER.”  Ummmmmm…Hanley has been serviceable at first.  But those comments from Lyons are borderline grounds for termination.

*Something that may only interest me…but I found it funny.  A week or so ago, the Sox called on the immortal Noe Ramirez to close out a blowout loss.  Noe comes in and can’t see the signs Vazquez is throwing down.  So Vasky wipes his hand in the chalk around home plate.  Presumably he can now see them.  I thought he had glasses?  Anyway, Noe then proceeds to give up back-to-back bombs.  I found a lot of humor in that for some reason.  Guess actually seeing the signs didn’t matter…

*If Jackie Bradley Jr. and some other prospects that are highly touted but have been deemed expendable can get me a legitimate #2 starter, I am doing it.  I’m still not buying in, sorry.  He’s gotta do it at the plate for a longer stretch than a month at a time.

I don’t dislike the guy, but I also don’t like him now being lumped into the “untouchable” group with Xander and Mookie.  He is not on the same level and too many people are putting him there.  Sure, he has value if he hits .250 and plays his exceptional defense.  But maybe Andrew Benintendi can do that too.  Or some other dude.  I’m striking while the iron is hot.  Let’s see what’s out there.

*Carson Smith is out for the year, Roenis Elias is in Pawtucket and as previously mentioned millions of times, the Sox rotation is not good.  But don’t tell me that Wade Miley is the answer.  5.27 ERA in Seattle as we speak.  Seattle…isn’t that a pitcher’s park?  I’m all set, but thank you.

*Finishing up with more Johnny Farrell.  God, I hope he never has to manage in the National League at all.  We saw what that would be like in the 2013 World Series, when it looked like he had no idea what a double-switch was, among other head-scratchers.  And we were then reminded on Wednesday night.

Tight game in San Francisco.  No need to go to your bench early.  Just because they took Bumgarner out and put in a righty, in a 1-1 game, there was no need to hit Travis Shaw for Josh Rutledge in the 7th inning.  Rutledge is not all that great, but Shaw has been slumping.  What’s the difference at that point?  Maybe later in the game for Rutledge, sure.  But when you have Vazquez and Price “hitting” also, it would’ve likely been better to save Shaw for later regardless.

Then the 9th.  Hanley gets on 2nd with no out, as Williamson drops his fly ball.  Nice gift.  I’m not sure I would’ve had Bradley bunt next, but probably would’ve leaned that way.  A hot hitter in Chris Young was up next and with one out a fly ball gets the tying run home.  With cool bats behind Young, it may have been the best move.  I guess you can’t blame Farrell for Bradley taking two close strikes to fan, but still…

So Young is due and Farrell HITS for him.  The guy is on fire, but just because it is supposed to be a righty-righty matchup and he still had David Ortiz at his disposal, Farrell feels like it is the move to make at this time.  Stupid because 1.  Young is hot, against lefties and righties.  2.  They would undoubtedly bring in a lefty to face Papi.  3.  They wouldn’t pitch to Papi regardless, with first base open and cold or terrible bats to follow.  How does he not see this?

Papi predictably walks.  Shaw predictably K’s against the lefty Lopez.  Marco Hernandez, hitting for Vasky, probably predictably grounds out and the game is over.  And Rusney Castillo was used as a pinch runner for Ortiz, so the only bat left on the bench to bat for Price if it got to that point?  Sandy Leon!  No one left if necessary for extra innings either.  Solid effort…keep up the great work Johnny…

 

 

%d bloggers like this: