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Posts Tagged ‘Sergio Mitre’

Last night’s big story was Clay Buchholz.  Last night was exactly why there was no chance Buchholz was going to be traded, not even for the likes of Roy Halladay.  Who knows? We may have a future Roy Halladay on our hands.  One who throws mostly off-speed pitches and keeps opposing batters guessing until they suddenly realize they’ve been called out.  In all seriousness, the Clay Buchholz who started last night’s game was the same kid who no-hit the Orioles in his second Major League start.  The Clay Buchholz of 2009 is not the Clay Buchholz of 2008, and Red Sox Nation can be very happy about that.

He pitched just over eight full innings.  He gave up one run on three hits.  He walked two but struck out nine.  He threw 107 pitches, 67 of them for strikes.  Half his pitches were four-seams (topping out at ninety-five miles per hour), a quarter were changeups, and the rest was a very effective mixture of two-seams, sliders, and curveballs.  I’m going to let those numbers speak for themselves.  It doesn’t get much sharper, more precise, more efficient, or just generally better than that.

That’s a lot more than I can say for Okajima, who relieved Buchholz in the ninth and who was taken out after pitching to two batters and allowing a run but failing to record an out.  Paps came on and took care of the last two outs of the game in five pitches, four of them strikes.  There was a fist-pump involved.  That’s how you know you’re on the home stretch.

We won, 3-2.  RBIs for Pedroia, Gonzalez, and V-Mart.  Ellsbury went two for five with a double and a triple, and Pedroia went three for four.  Drew recorded one hit and walked twice, but don’t let that fool you.  Since returning from the disabled list, he’s hit .364 with five home runs and an on-base percentage of .462.  In that time, the team’s gone eight and three.  And those numbers look an awful lot like his numbers from last June, when Ortiz was on the disabled list and he really stepped up to the plate, both literally and figuratively.  Just sayin’.

Wakefield will miss his next start due to more back trouble, so Lester’s start will be moved up, followed by Beckett and Buchholz.  We optioned Tazawa to the Gulf Coast League Red Sox but will probably reactivate him in time for the White Sox series, which starts Friday.  (There’s this rule that you can’t recall an optioned player for ten days or until the season ends, and the GCL Red Sox’ season ends in time for that series, which is why he’s not with Pawtucket.) And finally, Tito and John Farrell have stated that health is not a factor in Josh Beckett’s recent downturn, which is the result of a severe lack of command in the lower part of the strike zone, as per usual when Beckett has a downturn.  Farrell is confident that this can be fixed quickly.  Good.  So let’s fix it.  Because this stretch has been dire.  Take Friday’s outing as an example.  Although his nine strikeouts accounted for more than half the staff’s seventeen that night, which was the most by a Red Sox staff in nine innings since April 8, 2001, he walked five batters.  He hasn’t done that since September 16, 2006, and it’s only the third time he’s done it in his entire career.  Over his last four starts, he’s allowed twelve balls to leave the park, as opposed to zero over his previous five starts.  In his first twenty-two starts, so that’s more than five times as many starts, he only gave up ten.  So yeah.  I’m in favor of fixing it.

Unfortunately, we have to contend with the fact that Sergio Mitre one-hit the White Sox in the Bronx.  The final score was 10-0.  Well, isn’t that just lovely.  That’s exactly what we need right now, isn’t it.  Whatever.  It’ll come back to bite them somehow.  I’ll bet Ozzie Guillen had some words for his team, though.  Anyway, in keeping with our focus on ourselves and not on the competition (if you look back while you run a race, you’ll slow down), we’re taking on Roy Halladay this afternoon, and who is on the mound for us but Paul Byrd.  He hasn’t dealt a Major League pitch since the end of last season, so this should be interesting.  Still, I keep the faith.

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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.

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