Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco Giants’

It’s time to say goodbye to Mike Lowell; have fun in Texas.  Let me say this: it’s been one seriously great ride.  He was the 2007 World Series MVP for a reason, but unfortunately age happens.  He was the epitome of professionalism.  Talk about classy guys.  Mikey Lowell, ladies and gentlemen, was just about the classiest guy you could find, and his presence in the clubhouse will surely be missed.  Get ready for a standing ovation.  But like I said, age happens, and Theo does have a job to do.  It’s unfortunate that we have to send him off like this, but what other option do we have? The trade would give us catching prospect Max Ramirez, who’s leading the Venezuela Winter League in home runs.  But he’s had some wrist problems, so we’ll have to wait for his medical records to clear.  Then the question becomes, who will replace him? Or conversely, who’ll play first base, being that Youk can move over to third.  And as a result, Youk could save us a lot of money; the market doubles for us because of that flexibility, so we have the freedom to pick and choose someone who’s right for us and who comes at the right price.  I’ve heard we’re talking to Adrian Beltre, but believe me, I would be infinitely more enthusiastic about us talking to Adrian Gonzalez.

Remember Manny Delcarmen’s tragedy of a second half? Turns out he had shoulder fatigue for three months and didn’t say anything about it until September 30.  That’s just infuriating.  I mean, I don’t really know what to do with that.  Theo had him receive a cortisone shot that same night, but after the car accident he was dropped from the postseason roster anyway.  But that’s not the point.  Either you want to help your team win, or you want to help your team win.  If something’s going on, your team has a right to know, no matter how badly you want to play.  As a fan, it’s hard not to play what-if in these situations; with a healthy Delcarmen down the stretch, who knows what would’ve happened.

In an attempt to cover the holes in our bullpen made by the Braves, we signed Scott Atchison to a one-year deal with two options.  He spent the last two seasons in Japan and previous pitched for the Giants.  He had an ERA above four that year.  Whatever; he’s another option, and a bullpen built around options and flexibility is a bullpen poised to win a championship.  Besides, we still have Paps, Bard, Ramirez, and a hopefully healthy Delcarmen.  I think we’ll be okay.

We also acquired Boof Bonser from the Twins for pitching prospect Chris Province.  Bonser isn’t great.  He has a career ERA above five and missed all of last season due to labrum and rotator cuff tears.  But he adds depth to the staff; he’ll have a chance to try for a depth spot in the rotation.  But more likely, think of him as 2010’s Paul Byrd but with one conspicuous difference: the name.  The Boston Red Sox now have a pitcher named “Boof.” Add this to Red Sox Nation’s to-do list for the offseason: preparing to take Boof Bonser seriously come April.

The Yankees traded for Curtis Granderson.  Let’s remind ourselves that this was no feat of business managerial genius.  The Tigers, affected by Detroit’s suffering economy, couldn’t carry his salary anymore.  That’s the theme of this offseason for them; they lost Edwin Jackson, too.  They got four players in return who aren’t as good as either and probably never will be.  It’s a sad situation, but one the rest of the baseball world is taking note of.  Point being that if you’re in need of some talent but want it on the cheap through trade, talk to Detroit.  I’ll bet they’d be willing to listen.

And perhaps most importantly, the Jason Bay plot thickens.  Our offer of four years worth sixty million dollars was rejected because he wants a fifth year.  But we’ve publicly stated our commitment to not offering a fifth year; in fact, we’ve said that if someone else offers him a fifth year, we’re just going to assume that he’s leaving Boston and that’s it.  So far, the Mets haven’t done so; their offer was comparable to ours.  The Mariners are also unlikely to offer the fifth year; they’re more interested in keeping Beltre or signing Lackey.  The Angels have more or less dropped out in order to focus on pitching.  And the Yankees just acquired Granderson.  So more waiting seems to be in line.  Bay wanted to test the free agent market, and he’s testing it.  He’s looking for something specific and good luck to him trying to find it.  I’d rather watch him walk away than break the bank.  In fact, if he doesn’t take a more flexible approach, he could find himself in a bind, because guess who’s also a free agent: Matt Holliday.  And guess who the Red Sox are also interested in: Matt Holliday.  Holliday played pretty well for Oakland.  He struggled at the plate initially, which is to be expected from a guy coming over from not only the National League but Coors Field, with all that thin air.  (Which is something you have to keep in mind when looking at Holliday’s career stats, by the way.) In the end, I agree with Curt Schilling: I’d go with Bay because he’s been tested and proven.  All I’m saying is that the presence of Holliday, who unfortunately is represented by Boras, could soften Bay up a bit (in addition to jacking up his own paycheck because until Bay cuts teams some slack, Holliday would effectively be considered the only available elite left-fielder).  So could our reported interest in Mike Cameron, who would be more than happy to switch from center to left for us.  That’s not likely, but it’s a possibility.  But we’d only seriously consider him after both Bay and Holliday become unavailable, and something tells me that may not be an issue.

Casey Kelly has made a decision: he’s going to pitch.  No more shortstop for him.  I completely agree.  The mound will write his one-way ticket to the big leagues; if he decided to play short, we’d be talking a two-way.

Welcome to NESN, Peter Gammons! He signed a multiyear contract as a regular studio analyst and reporter.  This is fantastic.  Personally, I always thought it was funny that such a prominent representative of Red Sox Nation reported for ESPN, which doesn’t have a major presence in Boston.  Well, the world rights itself eventually, I guess.  And I’ll tell you one thing: Peter Gammons must be thrilled, because any television network is better than ESPN for baseball analysts.  I mean, have you seen “Baseball Tonight?” (If you have, let me applaud you for somehow finding out when it’s on TV.) It’s over by the time it starts, so the analysts never have time to convey any real information.  It really makes you appreciate NESN.

Congratulations to Bill James, who’ll receive the Judge Emil Fuchs Memorial Award for “long and meritorious service to the game.” He’ll be in good company; Hank Aaron and Jim Rice have also received it.  And Bill James definitely deserves it after revolutionizing baseball with his sabermetric approach.  I’m telling you: this game, let alone our team, wouldn’t be where it is today without him.

The Bruins beat the Leafs, 5-2, but lost to the Isles in sudden death.  How we can score five goals against the Leafs and lose to the Isles is beyond me.  The Leafs and Isles are comparable teams, with the Isles only two points ahead.  (Can you believe that? The New York Islanders are third in their division.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled that the Flyers are at the bottom of the barrel, but I never would’ve expected the Islanders to be anywhere but under the whole conference.) We’ve dropped to second, by the way.  Two points behind the Sabres.  We should get back up within the coming days.  The Patriots lost to the Dolphins by a point.  A point! The final score was 22-21! It was just awful.  That’s our fourth loss this season and our second in a row.  It pains me to say this, but the Pats are officially on a losing streak.  That must be stopped.


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The definition of a quality start is a start that lasts for more than six innings, during which the starter gives up no more than three earned runs.  If we go by that definition, Josh Beckett’s outing barely made the cut.  He pitched six innings, gave up four earned runs on seven hits, didn’t walk anybody, and struck out nine.

But the definition of a Beckett-esque start is a start that lasts for more than seven innings, during which the starter gives up no more than two runs, earned or unearned.  And if we go by that definition, it’s hard to see whether Beckett made any improvements at all last night.  He didn’t walk anybody, but he allowed two home runs, both solo shots.  The four earned runs is double the amount the vintage Beckett usually allows, and the seven hits and three-run second inning have to go.

John Farrell made a point of saying that Beckett’s problems can be fixed in short order.  It’s now officially September .  The playoffs begin in thirty days.  That’s roughly six starts.  I have to believe Farrell can fix it before the start of October, but how many more starts will it take? Losses aren’t exactly helping us here.

To be fair, the bullpen didn’t exactly help our cause, even if it did help Beckett’s.  Ramirez pitched the seventh and two batters into the eighth (without recording an out) and gave up two runs.  Delcarmen pitched an out’s worth of the eighth and gave up one run on a two-run shot by Evan Longoria.  Saito pitched the rest of the eighth.  Ramirez, not Beckett, took the loss, because the Rays scored three more runs in the eighth.

The lineup performed less well than it has been recently.  That’s an obvious statement, but I’m going to say it anyway because it’s true.  The final score was 8-5, so the runs had to come from somewhere, but only about half the starting nine got hits, let alone a multi-hit game.  V-Mart singled in a run and walked twice.  Youk went two for four with two doubles and a fielding error, and when Youk makes a fielding error, you know something’s gone wrong.  Bay hit an RBI triple.  Drew batted in a run.  Gonzalez doubled.  And that was it.  Ellsbury and Joey Gathright both stole second base.  And in the bottom of the sixth, with two out on a 3-2 count, Ellsbury made a diving catch to end the inning.  Yet another play of the game.  Basically as a rule if Ellsbury makes a catch, it’s the play of the game.

Congratulations to Youk for being nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award! Apparently, Curt Schilling has expressed some interest in Ted Kennedy’s senate seat.  Oh, boy.  Brad Penny, San Francisco’s newest Giant, threw eight shutout innings yesterday.  I’m telling you, there’s nothing like a move to the National League to get a struggling pitcher going.  Speaking of which, John Smoltz was tipping his pitches while he was here.  The Cardinals figured that out and brought it to his attention, and he stopped doing it and is now suddenly solid for St. Louis.  If only he’d realized that sooner.

That’s pretty much all, folks.  It wasn’t a great game pitching-wise, and I’ll take the five runs even though we’ve done better.  It’s not that five runs is such a small amount.  It’s more that we have it in us to score more, so if it’s necessary to score more, we should’ve scored more.  Conversely, you can also make the argument that five runs is enough and it’s the pitcher’s fault for not being able to work with that.  Ordinarily I would agree, but because of Beckett’s string of bad outings, I’ve essentially stopped depending on him to work with any amount because you never know just how bad the outing is going to be.  (There’s something I thought I’d never say.) Obviously baseball doesn’t always work like that and it’s not that simple, and obviously the lineup did its best, but I still would’ve liked to see more.  But it is what it is, and we lost.  It happens.  Besides, at this point I’m more concerned with Beckett’s performance than with the loss itself.  Tonight we’ll win.  Buchholz at David Price.

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I’m going to cut to the chase.  Manny Ramirez was suspended for fifty games today because he failed a performance-enhancing drug test.  He’ll lose a third of his twenty-five-million-dollar salary.  He claims that this drug was not a steroid but rather a medication given to him by his doctor for a “personal health issue” and that he was unaware that this particular medication was banned by Major League Baseball.  He’s the third player to be suspended this year (the first two were Phillies pitcher JC Romero and Yankees pitcher Sergio Mitre).  Last year, Giants catcher Elizier Alfonzo and Rockies catcher Humberto Coto were suspended.  Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and A-Rod weren’t suspended because their use came before 2004, when Major League Baseball started the suspensions.

Let’s think about this rationally for a second, shall we? What do Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Alex Rodriguez all have in common? The prolonged use of steroids for a not-so-brief period during their careers.  Now, I know what Yankee fans are thinking; they’re thinking this invalidates our World Series wins, but that’s just not true.  Manny Ramirez was tested during those seasons.  He said himself that he’d passed about fifteen tests over the course of the past five season.  That includes 2004 and 2007.  And I believe him because there are records confirming it.  If he were suspended for a drug violation today, it’s because of something that happened recently.  And let’s be logical.  What possible reason did he have to use drugs before he was traded? He was a god in Boston, a perennial All-Star and Silver Slugger, and one of the best hitters of his era.  Then, after the trade, a red flag went up in his head that maybe he was coming to the end of the line in terms of how many teams would be willing to put up with him.  This past offseason was the last straw; he saw that his hitting alone wouldn’t carry him through a contract year anymore, and he realized that he wouldn’t have that hitting for much longer.  Then where would he be? On the golf course.  So he panicked.

So I don’t want to start hearing about ’04 and ’07, because that would just be grasping and trying to disprove reality.  Everyone saw the Mitchell Report.  Everyone saw the names that were on it, most of which were already known to have been associated with substance use.  And everyone saw that Manny Ramirez’s name was not one of them.  Now, he says that he didn’t know it was banned and that it was ingested under the supervision of a doctor for a very specific medical reason.  Until that’s proven wrong, we technically have to believe it.  So we don’t even know what substance it is or (technically) whether it was taken for that intent, but supposing it was, it’s most a definitely new incident.  He wasn’t doing that with us.  We have a  clean clubhouse, one we can be proud of, and we have a  team in this city that, let’s just say, wouldn’t be very happy if he’d been doing that, especially on top of all the other stunts he was pulling.  He wouldn’t have been able to get away with it in Boston.  He wouldn’t have lasted as long as he did here.  So 2004 and 2007 are still clean and legitimate, and Bonds, McGwire, and A-Rod are still not.  I hate to burst New York’s bubble, but not even a Yankee fan can twist  this one around.

Under circumstances like these, it is very easy to attribute a realistic outcome, like a player putting on weight or declining in ability because of age or mediocrity, with an anomalous behavior, like using performance-enhancing drugs.  It’s so easy in hindsight to say, “Come to think of it, so-and-so was looking a little paunchy or played a lot better at just about the time a handful of the hundreds of Major League Baseball players were using, so therefore so-and-so must have been using, too.” But to do that would be unfair and detrimental to the teammates of that one misguided man.  Like I said, there’s no proof that Manny was using in 2004 or 2007, and there’s definitely no proof that anyone else was, and backsliding like that in a situation like this would be unreasonable.  We won those because we were superior, because we were the better team.  The curse was broken, our years of misfortune after misfortune have concluded.  We don’t have to feel guilty about winning cleanly and honorably.  So the way I see it, we have two options: we can let masochism get the better of us and write off an entire team’s accomplishments because we’re scared of being labeled as naive, or we can dare to believe in the magic of that team’s capabilities and feel good about them.  Why should we erase our glory and achievement? I mean, it’s true that we don’t know for sure whether Manny was using in 2004 or 2007, and it’s true that we don’t know for sure whether his teammates were using as well.  But we do know that others who were using at that time and even before that were discovered with ease long before today.  And we do know what does and does not go on in our clubhouse and what the guys are and are not willing to tolerate.  And based on all of this, nothing has changed; we can still look at ’04 and ’07 without asterisks or question marks.  Finally, something that always comes to mind in times like these is what these ballplayers are teaching the kids.  But how are we setting a good example for kids if we arbitrarily smear the good names of guys who weren’t involved with drugs? We’re setting an example of cynicism, bitterness, and doubt.  That’s not how we grew up as fans.  And that’s now how the next generation should grow up, either.

As for Manny Ramriez, we don’t have that many details yet, and I hope for his sake that he’s telling the truth.  I hope for his sake that, immature and self-centerd as he is, deep down he knew better than that.  And if it comes to pass that he didn’t, if it’s shown that he’s just like the rest, then all I have to say is that it’s a new and altogether dismally pathetic chapter in the saga of Manny being Manny.  I always said Los Angeles and Manny Ramirez deserved each other; Manny puts on a show, and Los Angeles loves to watch.  Well, they’ve got one interesting show on their hands now.  I emphasize that, no matter what, all signs point to him ingesting this substance only recently, after 2004 and 2007.  And I also emphasize that, no matter what, there’s really no excuse.  If this is the new Manny being Manny, I don’t want to know about it, and I congratulate Theo again on a very successful trade.

Getty Images

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What is up with it? I’ve never been able to figure it out. As the nation’s most populous state, California has five baseball teams: the A’s, the Giants, the Angels, the Dodgers, and the Padres. And all of them, at some point during any given season, are a force. At some point during any given season, all five teams mix quality offense with quality defense and give their division leaders a run for their money. And there’s usually a strong California presence in the playoffs; they’ve got some hardware to show for it. The Angels won it in 2002, preceded by the A’s in 1989, the Dodgers in 1988 and 1981, the A’s in ’72, ’73, and ’74, etcetera.

But when you actually sit down to watch the California teams play ball, and you really focus on their style, it’s impossible to see how they’re so good. They play baseball as if the outcome of the game didn’t matter. Their style is very loose and laid-back, something not uncommon to CA. But intuitively it’s counterproductive. You can’t win a World Series if play like you don’t care. Can you? Maybe in years past, but not anymore. This is the age of sabermetrics, and it’s led by people like Theo Epstein and Billy Beane, who, because of his lack of funds, isn’t that much of a threat anyway. My point is, the California style of lackadaisical ball will probably put you on top in the regular season, and it’ll be good for some October thrills and chills, but it won’t get you a ring. Not anymore.

To win a World Series, you need a front office that knows how to crunch numbers in all the right places and that has enough money to go out and get the right guys. And you need intensity. You’ve all seen “Fever Pitch,” right? The intensity that surrounds Boston baseball is what brought Curt Schilling here. It’s what keeps Josh Beckett on his toes. And sometimes it makes for painful losses, but it’s part of who we are and what we associate with a good season. Intensity is a big part of what drives a team to the top.

The Oakland A’s may be good, and the Oakland A’s may be in second place by only 2.5 games, but when the Oakland A’s beat us by five runs, it’s a bit of an insult to the way Red Sox Nation conducts its business. Historically, the A’s have been able to match us, so it’s not surprising that the end of our winning streak has come from them. But it’s not like we aren’t exasperated with that. The road hasn’t been our friend thus far this season. It’s early, sure, but this is the time to start good trends, not bad ones, and starting this road trip on a sour note isn’t that auspicious in my book. And Wake needs all the offense he can get. Well, I guess that’s what happens with Harden on the mound. What can you do? Play them as much as possible and learn their weaknesses just in case we have to face them in October.

Let’s gear up, then. Another late start tonight. Hopefully, Beckett will bring.

Tim Wakefield, 5/23/2008


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