Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Fame’

This is going to be short because absolutely nothing happened this week.  Nothing.  I think this was the quietest week of the offseason.  Then again, it’s always quiet right before Truck Day.  That’s the big story right there; Truck Day is February 12! Right around the corner! Can’t wait.  Seriously.  Can not wait.  It’s been a long winter and I’m ready to see some eighteen-wheelers head south.

It’s basically settled: the Padres will deal Gonzalez, not sign him to a new deal.  I bet he’ll be out of San Diego by this season’s trade deadline.

Jermaine Dye is still unemployed.  I wouldn’t mind at all if he became a last-minute acquisition.  He’s not what he used to be, but he wouldn’t be starting and we could use the extra power.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s still true, so I’ll say it again: look for Theo to hammer out new deals for both V-Mart and Beckett this season.  V-Mart is probably the least complicated of the two.  .336 average, .405 on-base percentage, .507 slugging percentage, 41 RBIs in 56 games, and consistently brings it when batting third.  V-Mart has an OPS of .837; that’s tenth among catchers with more than twenty-five hundred plate appearances through their seasons at age thirty.  The nine guys ahead of him include five Hall of Famers and two who are headed there.  That’s pretty much everything you need to know.  Sign him.  I’m thinking forty million for four years, or something like that.  Maybe throw in some extra cash because of his added value as a first baseman/DH.  By the way, he wants to stay in Boston.

The Beckett situation is a little trickier.  I know what you’re thinking: just offer him a Lackey-type deal and be done with it.  But it’s not that simple.  He’ll probably get something more like Halladay’s deal with the Phillies because of his shoulder.  Lackey has an issue too, but it’s with his elbow, and recovering from Tommy John surgery is very different from recovering from rotator cuff surgery.  We built protection into Lackey’s contract and will look to do the same with Beckett’s.  If Beckett has a problem with that, make no mistake: he will be allowed to walk.  We will not take unnecessary risks with our investments; that much is certain.  And if he walks, there’s always someone like Cliff Lee.  That isn’t to say he won’t be missed.  He will most definitely be missed.  And measures should be taken to avoid a situation in which he will be missed.  Besides, I wouldn’t necessarily be so sure that Beckett won’t agree to the protection.  He loves playing in Boston.  Lackey and Drew wanted to play in Boston badly enough that they agreed to their protections, no problem.  We could reasonably expect Beckett to do the same.

Last but not least, Nomar Garciaparra’s announcement of his retirement is expected to be imminent.  He says he’s determined to play this season if the right solution comes up, but the problem is that it probably won’t come up.  When the announcement is made, I’ll be ready with a tribute.  For now, suffice it to say that, for better or for worse, he was a legend in Boston and would be missed.

If you thought I didn’t want to talk about the Bruins last week, you can imagine how I feel about talking about them this week.  We’re currently nursing a ten-game losing streak.  Ten games.  Four of those were overtime losses.  Quite frankly, it’s just disgusting.  At this rate, not only will we not make the playoffs, but we’ll finish the season in the dregs of the league.  At least the Olympics are coming up, which should cure some of New England’s Bruins-induced hockey ailments for a little while.

Super Bowl tonight at 6:00PM! As a Pats fan, please allow me to say one thing: Who dat? Here’s to hoping the Saints take care of business.  Get psyched.

Surviving Grady

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Finally, it starts to get interesting.

Pitching is Theo’s top priority at the Winter Meetings.  It looks like we’re shifting our focus from Roy Halladay to John Lackey.  That’s very good news.  I don’t want to give up both Clay Buchholz and Casey Kelly for a pitcher who is, in all likelihood, past his prime.  Yes, it’s possible he could be another Randy Johnson, who won four straight Cy Youngs after turning thirty-five, or Curt Schilling, who was a Cy Young runner-up three times after turning thirty-three.  But it’s also possible that he just won’t deliver or that he’ll become a medical liability or, worse yet, the dreaded combination of both.  (See Randy Johnson in pinstripes.  Talk about disasters.) And if you compare the two, Roy Halladay doesn’t even enjoy a complete edge in the numbers.  In his career, he started and won more games, struck out more batters, and had a lower ERA, OPP AVG, and WHIP.  But Lackey’s gone the distance more often (which translates to durability, one of Lackey’s strongest assets) and has allowed fewer earned runs, home runs, bases on balls, and hit batters.  And we land Lackey this offseason, it would be through a signing, not a trade, so we wouldn’t have to mortgage our future.  Besides, we theoretically have some money left over from our decision to not pick up Alex Gonzalez’s option.

Supposedly, we’re also seriously pursuing Rich Harden.  I like that less.  He’s got a 3.39 career ERA with 783 strikeouts and a record of fifty and twenty-nine, but he’s never thrown two hundred innings in a season and has only made more than twenty-six starts once.  Durability? Not so much.  But he’d be a good bargain option, arguably a better one than Smoltz or Penny, because he’s pitched in the American League.

Speaking of pitching, the Braves cleaned out two of our peripheral relievers.  Wagner signed a one-year deal worth seven million dollars to close for them.  I would’ve liked to see him come back to Boston, but he did give us fair warning that he wanted to close, and we don’t exactly have a vacancy in that position.  One day later, the Braves signed Saito also, to a one year deal worth just over three million plus incentives.  I’m not too torn up about it.

Say hello to the latest shortstop to don a Boston uniform: Marco Scutaro.  If I sound cynical, it’s because I am.  He’s wearing Number 16; the last Boston shortstop to wear Number 16 was Edgar Renteria, so here’s hoping this time around will work out a little bit better.  Let’s not kid ourselves: he’s a veteran.  He’s a career .265 hitter with fifty home runs, 294 RBIs, and 297 walks to his credit.  But he’s thirty-four years old.  There’s a reason why the deal was only for two years.  It’s worth eleven million dollars plus a dual option.  Things that made this possible: the draft pick we’re getting from the Braves that will offset the one we have to give to the Jays, another undisclosed team pushing hard for Scutaro that forced the issue, and Scurato has reached that point in his career when he really wants a ring.  (Ironically, Alex Gonzalez signed a one-year deal with the Jays earlier, worth close to three million plus an option.) Either way, we now have a shortstop who is not Dustin Pedroia.

That needs to be cleared up once and for all.  Dustin Pedroia said he would be willing to play shortstop if the team needed him to.  But the team wasn’t about to let that happen.  Trust me.  You don’t move a Gold Glove second baseman to short because you don’t want to spend some money.  You don’t do that for a number of reasons.  Not the least of which is the fact that it doesn’t solve anything.  Fine; you move your second baseman to short.  Now you need a second baseman.  Sure, the market for second basemen is more fluid than that for shortstops, but not when you’re talking about second basemen as good as Dustin Pedroia.  Also, the caliber of Pedroia’s defense at short would be comparable to, if not worse than, any career shortstop on the market, with the obvious exception of Julio Lugo.  Thirdly, shortstop is no defensive walk in the park.  It’s the most difficult infield position.  And that means it carries a higher probability of injury, especially for someone who’s not used to it.  So we would have lost valuable playing time from him, both in the field and at the plate, had he made the switch.  Would he have been capable of doing so? Absolutely.  If anyone could, Dustin Pedroia could.  If there’s one ballplayer who embodies the don’t-tell-me-I-can’t-‘cause-I’ll-show-you-I-can attitude, it’s him.  Not to mention the fact that in 2003 he was the NCAA National Defensive Player of the Year at short.  And he’s actually in a better position to play shortstop at the Major League level now than he was when he first came up, due to his offseason workouts and in-season conditioning that have made him lighter and faster.  But even though he’d use his baseball acumen to compensate, his range would leave much to be desired.  And sometimes, in pressure situations in that part of the field, the range of the shortstop is what it comes down to.  It would have put considerable pressure on Mike Lowell to improve his range as compensation, that’s for sure.  So while I’m not doubting Pedroia’s ability to make the switch, I don’t think it would be a good for him or the team in the long run.  The team wasn’t actually serious about that possibility anyway.  Ultimately, Theo never would have allowed it.  Thankfully, it’s a moot point now either way.

But that would explain our earlier interest in Placido Polanco.  After the Tigers declined to offer him arbitration, we made a call or two.  But like I said, we don’t need a second baseman, and even if we did, he was all but off-limits.  The Phillies have since closed the deal.  So much for Chone Figgins, who ended up signing a four-year deal with Seattle.

Last but not least, we extended arbitration to Bay earlier this week.  (We declined offers to Baldelli and Byrd.) That means that, even if he signs with someone else, we get compensatory draft picks.  So the saga continues.

Congratulations to Joe Castiglione, Dave O’Brien, and Jerry Remy for landing on the ballot for the Hall of Fame’s Frick Award, honoring the baseball’s best announcers.  They definitely deserve it.

We beat the Lightning and the Leafs.  Not so much the Habs.  We lost, 1-5, to Montreal.  Ugh.  That was just an awful game to watch.  Even with that loss, though, we’re in first place in the Northeast! Finally! One point ahead of the Sabres, but I’ll take it.  But the most significant B’s news this week has nothing to do with wins and losses.  Marc Savard signed a seven-year extension.  Ladies and gentlemen, that could very well be the highlight of the regular season.  It’s going to have a hugely positive impact it’s going to have on our future.  There is arguably no other center in the league who is as multi-faceted and deeply talented as Marc Savard.  Things aren’t as cheerful on the football front.  Talk about awful games to watch.  The Saints defeated us, 38-17.  Yeah.  Awful.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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Don’t look now, but we just won two in a row! At the very least, we win the series, but from the way we’ve played over the last two games, a sweep is well within our grasp.  After a 7-2 victory, I have to say I’m feeling it.  Seven runs scored in a single game is the way it should be, and we haven’t seen that in a while.  More like seven runs scored in a single week.  But it looks like we’re slowly but steadily getting back on track.  Just ask the Yankees.  Their winning streak has been duly snapped.  By the A’s.  That is not something to be proud of.  And in a fantastic display of carpe diem, we shrunk their first-place lead to one and a half games.  Onward to first.  Give it a few days.

Lester was brilliant as usual; no surprises there.  With 109 pitches, he gave us quality through seven and a third, gave up two runs on eight hits, walked two, and struck out nine.  Best lefty in the game right here.  Fine, one of the best, as everyone else would say.  We know he’s the best in the game.  Eventually it’ll occur to everyone else and they’ll figure it out.  Probably just around the time Lester rolls into town to dismantle their lineup.  Bard was solid.  Ramirez took twenty-two pitches to finish the ninth.

And now for the offense.  It’s been too long since we had a proper spread to discuss, so I’m looking forward to this.  Ellsbury went two for five with two RBIs on two doubles, a theft of third, and a pickoff on second.  From the leadoff spot.  He’s finally getting used to it up there; all that time in the bottom of the lineup let him focus more on improving himself and less on the pressure of living up to his spot.  And he’s looking good in Number 1; every time he bats there, he looks better and better.  If he stays comfortable he’ll be even more of a tremendous asset.  Pedroia walked and scored.  Drew hit and made a throwing error.  Bay, ladies and gentlemen, went two for three with a walk and a run.  It’s about time.  Lowell, Tek, and Green all hit and scored.

And now for the grand finale.  Or rather grand finales.  We had two long balls.  Both for multiple runs.  Papi hit what amounted to an absolute bomb off the photographer well in center field.  With runners at the corners.  In the first inning.  So in the first inning, Big Papi hits a three-run home run.  Wow.  Just wow.  That one speaks for itself, no? So does the next one.  Two-run shot in the eighth ended up in the Monster seats for Adam LaRoche.  Welcome to Boston.  I think you’ll like it here.  What is it about these guys from the Pirates who come over to the contender of all contenders and suddenly their best comes out? I have no idea, but I hope it continues.  Theo Epstein must be very pleased.  One thing LaRoche has to learn if he keeps going yard: you have to take your helmet off when you enter the dugout.  If you don’t, everyone will start pounding it.  Hard.  Repeatedly.  It’s quite funny.  But other than that, LaRoche can keep on doing what he’s doing so far.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it’s done.  One thing I will say is that the O’s went two for twelve with runners in scoring position, and we went two for six with the same amount of hits: ten each.  Which means that the O’s had more opportunities to score than we did.  That’s the pitchers’ responsibilities, so there’s an area of improvement right there if John Farrell needs something to work on.

The Cards acquired Matt Holliday, who went four for five in his St. Louis debut, tying his career high of hits in a single game and racking up the fifteenth four-hitter of his career.  This completely overshadowed the fact that Julio Lugo, also debuting for St. Louis, went two for five with a triple and a home run.  Good for him.  I think the National League pitching will help him out.

Jim Rice is being inducted into the Hall of Fame today.  Congratulations! Like I said, it’s definitely about time.  After twenty-five years and fifteen tries, you’ve earned it.  You’ve most certainly earned it.

David Hernandez at Smoltz.  I think the best thing for Smoltz to do here would be to not lose.  Rather to win and keep the momentum going.  We’re at home and facing a less-than-intimidating opponent, so the matchup should be a good one for Smoltz.  That’s not to say he can’t handle a bigger stage, that’s just saying it should be relatively easy for him to win this one.  Then again, I thought it would be easy for him to beat the Nationals and I was wrong.  Still, like I said, we’re at home, we’re in our division, it’s the second half, the postseason is in sight.  It’s a different atmosphere, so maybe we’ll see a different, and hopefully better, side of Smoltz.

AP Photo

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