October 31, 2003
It looks like Manny is still a member of the Red Sox. At least for now. Boston.com has reported as much on the front page of their sports section. There has been much speculation as to why the Red Sox put Manny on irrevocable waivers. There’s also been many opinions shared as to whether it was the right thing to do.
Here are some links to various sides of the argument:
Baseball Primer – Their take was that is wasn’t a good idea and would only serve to anger Manny. To their credit, they published this early Thursday am, meaning they weren’t privy to some of the news that has been reported on since.
Rob Neyer – Neyer’s thinks it was a good idea, albeit one that wasn’t likely to pan out.
Peter Gammons – As reported yesterday, Gammons feels this was a move that both sides felt was appropriate. In other words, it was designed to get Manny to the Yankees, or at least that is the picture the club wants to paint.
NY Daily News, The Hartford Courant, The NY Post and a bunch of other publications give various reasons why the Yankees won’t/didn’t claim Manny.
Some of the biggest nonsense being floated around is the idea of trading Nomar to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez, conditional on Boston being able to unload Manny. Help me out on this one. Get A-Rod for $25mm a year, unload Nomar for $11.5mm this year and probably no more than $14-15mm per year for 4-5 years on his next contract. Why is that good?
First of all, I admit A-Rod is the best player in baseball, at least as far as positional players. But at $25mm a year he ties up even more money than Manny did. I thought the Red Sox were looking for flexibility. Add to that the fact the Red Sox will also have to assume some part of Manny’s contract should they trade him and suddenly you are paying what, $30mm-$35mm a year to A-Rod??????? Those extra question marks are designed to show you that I’m thoroughly confused by this reasoning.
Best idea in my opinion, is to trade Manny. My bet is that Theo Epstein knew no one would claim Manny, but tried nonetheless, perhaps to prove a point to Manny and his agent, Jeff Moorad. All the while, he has been negotiating trades with other teams. Let’s say the Red Sox can unload him and have to take on a smaller contract, say $5mm a year, and they assume $5mm per season of Manny’s contract. That still leaves them flexibility this year to A.) Sign Nomar longer term or B.) Try and sign any of the other core guys beyond 2004.
If they quickly realize Nomar doesn’t want to be part of the Red Sox beyond 2004, unload him too, or keep him through 2004 and take the 2 draft picks when he bolts to the West Coast. If the Red Sox decide to trade him, his value is still high and I am willing to bet you could get some deep talent in return.
Ok, using my ideas, you have 2 giant holes in the line-up at SS and LF (or 1b as Millar can play left). With the money you’ve saved on Manny and maybe Nomar, the resources are there to sign a big bat and perhaps a stud starter. Yes, I know, the offense won’t be as potent as it was in 2003, working within a budget requires some give and take. One thing that will be true however is that the pitching should be better in 2004.
Ok, enough of this. I get rolling and then realize all I can do is speculate like everyone else. I am eager to see how this plays out and to see what Epstein can finagle.
Unloading Manny would A.) Create payroll flexibility and reduce team tension surrounding his boneheadedness. B.) Allow the Red Sox to acquire a top notch starter, easier said than done given the price required and the competition. Allow the Red Sox to get a somewhat decent leftfield/1b replacement. Given the expected number of non-tenders, I have faith Epstein will grab a quality bat or two at discount rates.
And lastly D.) Provide great fodder for Red Sox fans as we watch the team that acquires Manny handle his day-to-day behavior. Wait, weren’t we supposed to do the same thing when Carl Everett left? Well, that’s the idea anyway.
October 30, 2003
Red Sox place Ramirez on irrevocable waivers
The Red Sox, it is being reported, placed Manny on irrevocable waivers. Sean McAdam of the Providence Journal has the most comprehensive report on the issue.
Basically, this means Theo Epstein is hoping someone takes Manny’s contract so that the Red Sox can spend that money in a wiser manner. Manny gets $20.5mm this year. That money alone would probably be enough to get a front line starter and sign a replacement for Manny, albeit a replacement with inferior stats but most likely a better head on his shoulder.
I mentioned in my 10/25/03 post, this is a dream for me. If some team claimed him the Red Sox will have eliminated a huge clubhouse headache. Manny’s rubbish has been too much to handle since his arrival. According to Art Martone, the Providence Journal’s Sports Editor, Red Sox executives know more about Manny’s behavior than the average fan does. That’s why we are seeing this move.
McAdam writes that George Steinbrenner has the Yankees front office debating this issue as we speak. It comes down to payroll flexibility. Only the Yankees, Mets and maybe the Dodgers could afford him.
Regardless, we’ll find out by tomorrow night if someone claims him. The waiver period lasts 48 hours.
Personally, I think this is the best thing that could happen for the Red Sox. Manny’s departure (along with his contract of course) would provide Epstein with flexibility. The Red Sox led the league in runs scored last year. Much of that was because certain players had career years, but, it’d be a mistake to chalk it up to complete luck. Manny leaving will leave a hole, but not one that can’t partially be filled. In other words, the Red Sox offense will be just fine next year.
This flexibility will allow them to add a starter. Maybe even Millwood, Colon, Maddux or Schilling via trade. I’m going to let this play out especially since Manny could very well be a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2004. Here’s to saying goodbye! Now hit the road Manny.
Late addition: Peter Gammons just weighed in on this topic. He makes the move sound much more a move to help Manny get to New York, rather than just a straight salary dump. In other words it sounds like both Manny and the Red Sox wouldn’t mind a change.
By the way, I was walking in Brookline, MA the other day when all of a sudden a silver mercedes pulls up. Out pops this guy wearing shorts and a trench coat. He looked a bit like a flasher. As he checked traffice to cross the street, I noticed it was the Commissioner himself, Peter Gammons (a/k/a Andrew Jackson. Just check your 20 dollar bills).
October 24, 2003
Some more thoughts on the 2004 Boston Red Sox:
Some more thoughts on the 2004 Boston Red Sox:
I think the Red Sox should trade for Curt Schilling, Jeff Kent, Eric Gagne, Carlos Beltran and then should sign Kevin Millwood as a free agent. I think the team would be marginally better….
….ok, who put this crack rock in my crack pipe? Kidding of course. Did you see how I acted alarmed that someone would give me crack, all the while admitting to owning a crack pipe? Get it? Man, I’m some kind of über-comic.
What were we talking about? Oh yes, the 2004 Boston Red Sox. As I mention in my last post, the Red Sox have much money tied up in very few players. Also in my last post, I included a list of players whose rights the Red Sox control for 2004. The combination of the two lists added up to $105mm or so.
With debt payments and infrastructure costs ahead, I can’t see the Red Sox ownership giving more than $105mm to Theo Epstein. Perhaps they’ll give him $110mm, but like 2003, he’ll hold $5mm for a rainy day (a/k/a the trading deadline(s)).
Ok, so what do they do? For this post, let’s first figure out the holes and some of the possibilities. Todd Walker is not likely to return. His playoff performance might have priced him out of the Red Sox budget. He made $3.4mm last year. I bet he gets $4.5-$5.5 per year over 3-4 years. Epstein won’t go for that, especially given his sub-par OBP and limited range.
So, what is there to do? On the free agent market, Luis Castillo will be the top 2b. Speculation has it that the Yankees will make a run at him, thereby instantly pricing him out of the Red Sox range (and all of MLBs range). The idea being that they move Alfonso Soriano to the outfield, just like in game 5 of the World Series. Then there is Roberto Alomar. He certainly seems to have lost a step. His last effective season was 2001. His past 2 seasons were horrible, at least compared to his early career.
I can’t see Epstein taking a stab at Alomar, unless it’s for short money. Alomar historically has been a great lead-off guy: Average/walks, speed and occasional power. Add to that his fantastic glove and Alomar has already assured himself a spot in Cooperstown, but at 36 (he turns 36 on Feb 5, 2004) the risk might to be too great. Short money is the only way Alomar happens. It won’t happen though as some team out there will over pay for his presence.
With the market thin at 2b, there is always the option of shimmying Bill Mueller over to 2b and shopping instead for a 3b. Ok, same exercise for 3b’s. The names you might know include Tony Batista, Joe Randa and Vinny Castilla.
Batista: Career .302 OBP
Randa: Career .341 OBP
Castilla: Career .323 OBP
The only outside option for Epstein would be Randa. His glove is solid and his bat is fairly disciplined. Still though, I don’t see it happening. The free agent options are limited it appears.
So, what happens? My guess is Epstein fills the hole at 2b/3b via trade. If my phone tap between Epstein and Bill James were working, I could probably answer this one, but until it is, your guess is as good as mine.
What next? Pitching. Fact is, had the Red Sox pitched as well as they had in 2002, they’d have not only gone to the World Series, but probably have won it. Epstein’s main upgrades were to the offense, not to the pitching staff. I have to imagine Tony Cloninger’s absence greatly influenced the increased staff ERA, but who knows?
2003 Red Sox ERA – 4.48
2002 Red Sox ERA – 3.75
That’s .73 more earned runs per game in 2003 than 2002. That works out to 118 or so earned runs over the course of 162 games. That is a butt-ton. The first notion for many is to blame the bullpen, but Derek Lowe has to step up and take his medicine as well. His almost 2.00 ERA increase has much to do with it. The 203 innings he pitched weighs heavily in the calculations.
That being said, can Tony help him in 2004? Will Tony even be around in 2004? There is way too much to be determined to answer that. What can be discussed though is if there talent out there and what can Epstein do to get it?
Firstly, Mike Timlin deserves a second shot with Boston. He was a star in the playoffs and was the most consistent regular season bullpen arm. What next? Move Byung-Hyun Kim to the rotation, where he wants to be, and then focus on the bullpen. See? The rotation will be fairly solid:
I suppose adding a # 5 is important, but not as important as solidifying the pen.
Ramiro Mendoza (like it or not)
There is no guarantee Lyon will be back, but the other 4 are locks, baring trades.
What do to? One idea is to use Bronson Arroyo. He was good when they used him in 2003. He would be an ideal long reliever/mop-up man. Or, perhaps, you stick Arroyo in the 5 spot in the rotation. Either way, he deserves to be on the team in 2004.
Another idea is to spend some money and get a top notch set-up man. Oh yeah, and a 2b/3b, and a few other great players. Great idea, huh? Well it stands to reason that if Epstein hopes to affordably do what he wants to do, he’ll have to unload some payroll. I’ve said it here before, I fully expect Epstein to unload one of the big three: Nomar, Pedro and Manny.
This will free up enough cash to round out the roster. Trading Pedro would mandate the acquisition of another top line starter (Schilling via trade, Millwood or Maddux via free agency?). Trading Nomar wouldn’t save as much money as Epstein would probably need. Nomar’s $11.5mm 2004 salary isn’t so overwhelming as to hamstring the team.
That leaves Manny’s $3.7 trillion, I mean $20.5mm. Personally, if some team agreed to take Manny and all of his wads of cash for nothing in return, I’d do it. In other words, a cancellation of the contract. Why? I’d have $20.5mm to spend, that’s. That would probably get me Vladmir Guerrero. Wait, check that nonsense. It would easily get me Guerrero. In fact, if someone took all of Manny’s salary for a bag of donuts, jelly, I’d gladly pay Guerrero $20.5mm. He of the great power, improving patience (.390 career OBP), speed and howitzer for an arm. That’s just me. And that’s just me dreaming, it won’t happen. Guerrero is going to the Yankees and no one would take Manny’s contract in its entirety anyway.
Too many pieces of the puzzle have to fall into place before I can accurately predict the next moves. Teams and players have to decide on various contract options, arbitration has to be offered, or not, and owners have to decide if they’re going to add or subtract payroll before the picture clears up.
Personally, I’d like to see Beltran in one of the OF spots, Greg Maddux in the rotation and Everyday Eddie Guardado in the pen. So, where’s that crack rock?
Andy can be reached at Andy@yankeesredsox.com.
October 22, 2003
Hot Stove Chatter
A few doozies are floating around the web right now for the Red Sox. One has Boston trading Nomar to the Dodgers for Odalis Perez and a handful of prospects. The other is contingent on the first being completed as it has Manny being traded to the Rangers for this youngster named Alex Rodriguez.
I’m not sure about you, but I can certainly see the first one happening, but would be surprised to see the second one happen. Theo Epstein would certainly be clearing out payroll in Nomar and getting a 2-3 starter in Perez, but I can’t seem him unloading Manny all the while taking on an even bigger salary commitment in A-Rod. If there is one player worth a boat load of cash it is A-Rod, but at $25mm per season, I can’t it.
Now, if Epstein can unload Manny and assume a smaller salary chunk in return, I bet he’d do it in an instance.
A-Rod has the following coming to him through 2010:
Figures courtesy of http://www.bluemanc.demon.co.uk/baseball/mlbcontracts.htm
Manny has this coming to him:
2009: Team option $20.0M
2010: Team option $20.0M
Figures courtesy of http://www.bluemanc.demon.co.uk/baseball/mlbcontracts.htm
No way any team that has Manny will exercise the 2009 and 2010 options. So, by making this move, Epstein would be saddling the Red Sox with an addition $63.5mm in payroll, albeit it over two additional years.
On the other hand, there aren’t many SS better than Nomar. A-Rod is one, and it is easy to argue he is the best positional player in the Majors. Still though, this one just won’t happen. Epstein has too many good moves to make that involved cheaper talent. Why hamstring himself with this albatross?
Epstein will definitely try to unload either Manny, Nomar or Pedro this off season, if not 2 or all 3 of them, but he won’t be looking to take on a contract bigger than the one he ships out. While luck certainly played a part in it, Theo showed he can find everyday players for about $2mm a season, so why pick up guys at $12mm+ per season. It doesn’t make sense.
Player 2003 salary
Kevin Millar $2.65mm
Bill Mueller $2.10mm
David Ortiz $1.25mm
While it is true none of those guys had particularly great post-seasons, they were instrumental to getting Boston to the post-season.
I have the Red Sox 2004 payroll at $85.35mm already. That includes only 11 guys too.
Player 2004 salary
*The $ owed Howry and Suppan is for the buyout of their 2004 option.
Next there are a bundle of players that are under control of the Red Sox, but are not signed yet for 2004:
Player Estimated 2004 salary
The players immediately above are controlled via arbitration or are subject to team renewals. So, that combined with the guaranteed contracts puts the Red Sox at $105.745mm.
That still leaves 4 roster spots to fill on the 25 man roster. So, Epstein has his work cut out for him. If the Red Sox want to acquire another 2-3 starter type, they are going to have to make some changes. There is no way they go into 2004 with a payroll over $105mm or so. No way.
That’s all I’ve heard so far in the rumor department. I know the Hot Stove doesn’t really start cooking until November, but it is one of my favorite things to talk about.
If you’ve heard any other rumors, send ‘em my way. Try to include the source.
A couple of high traffic message boards where you can find current info on Red Sox Hot Stove talk:
Sons of Sam Horn – registration required to post, nothing to lurk.
Providence Journal – Red Sox – Your Turn – registration required just to get on the projo site.
October 19, 2003
It took him a while, but ESPN’s Peter Gammons finally shared his views on the ALCS. Gammons brings up some excellent points. He also, as is his want, makes some generalizations. He does that better than anyone.
First Gammons quote:
What some in ownership are asking Theo Epstein is whether blurred vision at a time of crisis management is what they want leading the Boston Red Sox.
An amazingly important question by Gammons. Are the Red Sox as solid a team in the post-season as they are in the regular season with Grady at the helm? Is Grady capable of handling the team in pressure situations?
As I’ve said before, I honestly don’t know if Grady choked or if he thought it was the right baseball move. If you ask Grady, he said 4 managers called him to tell him they’d have done the same thing. Well sure Grady, what are they going to tell you, that you you’re an idiot? “Grady, Lou Pinella here. Tough luck in game 7, but it’s your fault, you’re a moron.”
Another Gammon blurb:
Now, management wonders whether Grady Little can come back in the face of the backlash, or whether he even wants to come back to a region that wants an Operation Free Fenway.
Can Grady survive in an environment where most Red Sox fans feel he made the wrong move, including yours truly? Will the fans boo him out of Fenway each time he takes a stroll to the mound? Does Grady even want to come back given the second-guessing?
I don’t know the answer to those questions. I know that I wouldn’t have a huge problem if Grady came back in 2004. If he picks up where he left of in the ALCS and leaves spent pitchers out to die, then I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong. My biggest concern is if he can function with so many people second guessing him. This brings me to the last Gammons quote:
Understand, those of you where the Red Sox are not a life-and-death matter, this goes beyond vilification. This is pure, unadulterated hatred for a wonderfully decent man who was a large part in the centrifugal force that held together a team that had a few dysfunctional parts, not to mention the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" bullpen.
I have to assume Gammons feels comfortable saying this based on what he reads in the paper and what he hears on the radio. The Red Sox fans I speak to on a regular basis about baseball and all things Red Sox don’t hate Grady Little. They might be in shock over his decision and might even want him fired but also understand there is much to managing a team that is difficult to understand and there are usually many factors in any decision that has to be made. Not all Red Sox fans are the venom filled yahoos Gammons constantly makes reference to here in Boston. He is guilty of drawing conclusions based on 1% of the fanhood (ok, it might be a bit higher that 1%), specifically those who are loudest, those with microphones and those who say the most controversial things.
Peter G., I implore you to grab a beer with me and some of my baseball loving friends someday. We aren’t all like that, yet we still consider ourselves passionate baseball fans. Red Sox fans are capable of having thoughtful baseball discussions. It’s true and I think we are the rule rather than the exception.
I’d like to leave you with an excerpt from an e-mail I received from my friend Dave, a diehard Red Sox fan, the day after the game 7 loss. Dave was at Yankee Stadium for game 7.
I don’t have the energy to describe my thoughts about the game here, other than to say that the Boston media’s and fan’s criticism of Grady Little is overblown and a bit unfair, I think. (Basically, I don’t think that the decision regarding Pedro in the 8th was as easy and simple as we now seem to be making it out to be.) I spent the day feeling totally overwhelmed by all of it. We’ll talk about it over a few beers sometime — and probably for many, many years.
I sat in the upper deck in left field, in the section behind the left field foul pole. Not far from where Boone’s shot landed. I will never forget the vision of that ball screaming toward the left field pole as I hoped — for just a second — that it might go foul and then seeing the ball getting bigger and coming toward us. From where I was, the ball just fell out of view once it passed down below the upper deck. (From our seats, you lose the sight of the left field corner). But I didn’t need to see it land.
For the last 17 years, I thought that the despondency that I fell into after the sixth game (and seventh game) in 1986 was the result of an unhealthy obsession with the Red Sox as a 14 year old kid and that a loss couldn’t grip me again in the same way as an adult. But that same feeling is back.
I think that sums up with great accuracy the feelings many Red Sox fans had after game 7. There’s no cursing, just a thoughtful glimps into one Red Sox fan’s mindset the day after.
October 18, 2003
Game 1 – 2003 WS
Still weak in the knees…..deep in depression….writing this from the ledge of an office building….
You’d be surprised how many office building ledges have internet access.
It’s the bottom of the 6th and the Marlins are up 3-2 in game 1. I haven’t watched much of the game, I just don’t have any interest. I did note however, an amazing amount of anti-Red Sox sentiment in Yankee Stadium a good 44 hours after game 7 of the ALCS.
I thought Yankee fans didn’t think of Boston as a big rival. Could have fooled me. People are actually wearing Babe, Bucky, Bucker, Boone shirts to the game. In another display, some fans hung a banner that says “Cowboy Out” with a picture of a disheveled Pedro Martinez.
I’m not sure how this makes me feel. Good I suppose because it confirms what Boston fans have always known, that Boston is New York’s biggest rival and that the Red Sox do keep Yankee fans up at night.
On another note, Grady Little defended his actions today. I must admit that my tone has softened a bit since two nights ago. While I still think it’ll be virtually impossible for Grady to effectively manage next season, I do think that Grady honestly believed leaving Pedro in was the best baseball decision. That is important to note as it I no longer think he was simply deferring to his ace pitcher.
Why do I think this? I haven’t a clue, just a hunch.
The biggest question is who will replace Grady should he get his pink slip? Is any manager capable of leading this Red Sox team? More to the point, is any manager capable of leading this team with this fan base? No manager will satisfy the fan base. It’s just the nature of the job. So now it becomes, who can handle the pressure of the job better than Grady does today? Good luck with that one.
Look at the Chicago Cubs? Their game 6 collapse was terrible and was caused by Dusty Baker leaving Mark Prior in too long. What is being said about it in Chicago? Quite a bit actually, but the volume of finger pointing in Chicago is nothing compared to the finger pointing in Boston. The circumstances were different sure (game 6 vs 7 and the foul ball in game 6), but Chicago has accepted Dusty’s decision and will gladly have him at the reigns in 2004. The same cannot be said for Boston fans feeling towards Grady.
Many tough decisions ahead for Theo. Namely, who stays and who goes. The following are arbitration eligible(player/2003 salary):
Player 2003 Salary
Trot Nixon – $4mm
Byung-Hyun Kim – $3.25mm
Jeremy Giambi – $2.0mm
Scott Williamson – $1.6mm
Scott Sauerbeck – $1.55mm
David Ortiz – $1.25mm
Doug Mirabelli – $0.805mm
Damian Jackson – $0.625mm
Casey Fossum – $0.3mm
Gabe Kapler – $0.3mm
Taking a look at those names, they made $15.68mm or so last year. All of them will expect a raise. Who is expendable? My guess is we’ll see all of them back except Kim. You might also see Kapler, Giambi and Jackson set free if they are unhappy with the Red Sox initial offers. Theo has to cut money somewhere, and unless he can unload a big contract, he’ll have to trim the fat from the lower paid players.
Speaking of Giambi, did anyone else find it odd that Mr. Giambi, that is the father of Jeremy and Jason Giambi, was only shown on Fox rooting for Jason’s team? I don’t know if Mr. Giambi even made it to Fenway.
He is the father to both Jeremy and Jason, right? Maybe he just likes Jason more.
October 17, 2003
Red Sox regular season and post season grades:
In preparing this piece, I had to figure out exactly who played for the Red Sox this year. I counted 46. Holy lord, that is a ton of people. So, to keep this a reasonable exercise, I will be lumping several people into the “incomplete” category.
Player: regular season grade/post season grade
Andy Abad: Incomplete
Hector Almonte: Incomplete
Bronson Arroyo: A-/B+ During the regular season, he mowed them down. He wasn’t necessarily used in pressure situations, but he did a good job nonetheless. He had one slightly shaky post season appearance, but was otherwise just fine. He might be a useful piece in the 2004 bullpen, or perhaps the 5th starter.
Adrian Brown: Incomplete
John Burkett: C+/C- I don’t think anyone expected to see the 2001 John Burkett during his 2 year stay with Boston, but something close to it would have been nice. His regular season starts were all so similar. He’d often get roughed up in the first. If he didn’t, he’d pitch well for 4-5 innings until the batters were seeing him for the 3rd time. That’s when trouble set in. Too often Grady failed to recognize this(imagine that). His postseason was lousy. Grady had much to do with it. Proper in-game pitcher management would have resulted in a much lower ERA for Burkett. Good luck in your retirement years John. Oh wait, you wouldn’t mind pitching for the Yankees now. Good luck John, now go home.
Bruce Chen: Incomplete
Lou Collier: Incomplete
Johnny Damon: B/B I’ve come to expect much more from Johnny Damon that what he has produced. He is talented, but fails to get on-base like he did in 1999 and 2000 with Kansas City. His fielding is fine, but his arm is the worst I’ve seen. Not only is it weak but his throws just look funny, like he is just learning how to use his left hand. Johnny’s playoffs were much like his regular season. He showed some serious guts in coming back as quickly as he did after the Jackson/Damon tête à tête. I’d like to see more though from Johnny D.
Alan Embree: B-/A- Embree had some very poor moments during the regular season. My guess is that with his new-found velocity, comes serious wear on his shoulder. 2003 marked the second time he spent time on the DL. Once he came back, he seemed much better. His playoffs were just what we hoped for. Aside from allowing a key hit against Oakland with 2 men on, he was otherwise great.
Casey Fossum: D+/n/a Casey had one of the more disappointing seasons I can remember. There was much pressure heaped on him, but at the end of the day it was his mind and body that couldn’t handle the strain. Fossum bounced up and down from Pawtucket to Boston. I hope he can add a few pounds and make a big impact in 2004.
Chad Fox: D+/na His 4.50 ERA hides the real problem. Fox allowed 2 hits/walks per inning. He allowed 19 hits and 17 walks in 18 innings of work. His utter lack of control did way too much regular season damage. Enough in fact that the Red Sox ended up releasing him…where he then caught on with the Florida Marlins, found his control and then won the World Series. Crap.
Nomar Garciaparra: B/D Nomar certainly had a productive regular season. I give him a regular season B because it wasn’t as good as his prior seasons. He has had a decent sized drop-off in his productivity. I’m not sure we’ll see the Nomar of old again, or if this is as good as it’ll get. The playoffs were an utter nightmare for Nomar. 1 RBI in 12 games and only 2 extra base hits. I can’t explain it. No one works harder than Nomar and his prior post season record was fantastic. Bad luck? Bad timing for a slump? Whatever it was, it hurt the Red Sox deeply.
Jeremy Giambi: D/na I had big hopes for Giambi. This is the quintessential Bill James/Billy Beane player. He gets on base and hits for power. Because I tend to agree with those two, I was fired up to see what Giambi could do. Instead, he had a terrible, injury plagued season resulting in season ending shoulder surgery. I say give him one more chance, perhaps he’ll be the 2003 David Ortiz…or the 2003 Jeremy Giambi.
Bill Haselman: Incomplete.
Shea Hillenbrand: C+/na Hillenbrand got off to yet another good start. He didn’t show any power and wasn’t hot at the hot corner, but had some timely hits. I believe moving him was the right idea, however. It cleared the way for other hitters and got one of the dumbest players I can remember, out of the club house. Shea’s various remarks, both while in Boston and Arizona, touched on homophobia, and downright disdain for his former city and teammates. I’m not at all sad to see him go. I hope Byung-Hyun Kim can contribute in 2004 making this trade an even bigger success. More on Kim later.
Bob Howry: Incomplete
Damian Jackson: B+/C- His regular season was far better than his limited post season. Jackson showed versatility in the field and speed on the bases. He wasn’t a productive hitter at anytime, but his other contributions more than made up for that.
Todd Jones: C-/na I know Jones was on the postseason roster, but I can’t really grade him on 1/3 of an inning. His regular season was basically a tale of two seasons. I don’t mean the fact he started the year with Colorado and finished with Boston but rather he was either a 1-2-3 pitcher or got roughed up. His season totals with Boston don’t look all that impressive, but I do recall him providing some quality relief in a few games. Doubt he’ll be in a Red Sox uniform in 2004.
Gabe Kapler: C/D+ His first two games with Boston were great, but then he fell into his normal production levels. Kapler isn’t a great player. There was enough hype about him to warrant his own TV ad while he was still in the minors, but that never translated into starter material in the bigs. Still, he is a useful player to have providing good defense, above average speed, versatility and occasional pop. His postseason was downright bad, at least with the bat. He did a good job in the field though while replacing Damon for the first 2 games of the ALCS.
Byung-Hyun Kim: B+/F+ Much was asked of Kim upon his arrival from Arizona. First he was stuck in the rotation where he faired well enough. Then he was yanked and put in the closer role. He did very well there too. Kim’s unraveling came in the playoffs. It is astounding to me that he could have fallen so far so fast. I’m not sure what happened. I think his role next year should be as starter. He can take Burkett’s spot in the rotation. As for the postseason, I give him the F+ b/c he only had one appearance. That’s tough to judge. His middle finger presentation however, was totally uncalled for and essentially sealed his fate.
Derek Lowe: B/B Another 20 win season would have been nice, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. A 17 game winner isn’t bad though. Lowe’s remarkably poor road record was the main reason he didn’t replicate his 2002 season. I’m not sure there is any way to explain the home/road disparity. Lowe turned into a mini-hero in game 5 of the ALDS, although that will be forgotten given the end result of the 2003 playoffs.
Brandon Lyon: B-/na Lyon’s acquisition by Theo Epstein has to be considered a success. He pitched well beyond expectations, especially for the price (a waiver claim I believe). Arm woes later in the season resulted in too many hits allowed, but at the end of the day, I’m glad we got him.
Pedro Martinez: A-/B- Pedro had his usual solid regular season. He isn’t capable of 200 innings anymore, but the 180-190 he’ll give you will always be solid. Bad luck/poor run support resulted in only 14 wins, but that isn’t the true indicator of his success. Despite his gutsy efforts in the playoffs, his 4.76 era tells you he didn’t do well. 29 hits allowed in 28 innings is very un-Pedroesque. Too bad, proper management would have lead to say 3 fewer earned runs in the postseason. He’s back for one more year in 2004, at $17.5mm. That works out to about $92,000 per innings assuming he gives us 190 of them. As Captain John Millar in “Saving Private Ryan” said, “Earn this…earn it.”
David McCarty: Incomplete
Ramiro Mendoza: F/na Do I have to even write anything here? I do? Ok. Mendoza was the poster boy for the Red Sox 2003 regular season bullpen. Is that enough?
Lou Merloni: Incomplete
Kevin Millar: B+/D Millar’s regular season was more than most expected. Theo got him for a reason, he can hit. He can really hit bad pitchers, but as the playoffs showed, he doesn’t hit good pitchers. Some say his greatest contributions came in the clubhouse. Having never been invited, I wouldn’t now. Not that I have any idea what I’m talking about, but I have to figure that better conditioning would only improve his play. After all the effort to acquire him from the Marlins in the preseason, I was happy to have him. Then I saw him report to spring training with his gut leading the way and I was disappointed. For cripes sake, if I were being paid $3mm per season, I’d hire some sadist to wake my lard-laden body up each morning and work the fat off, though exercise and the like. I could even hire a cook to make sure I wasn’t cheating. At least I’d like to think I do all of that stuff.
Doug Mirabelli: C+/B Being the personal catcher for Tim Wakefield isn’t too bad. It guarantees you one start in every 5 games. Mirabelli has had success against lefty pitchers in years past, but this year he was awful. He showed overall power though, enough for a .448 SLG. That is probably more than one can expect or hope for from a back-up catcher. His post season was decent enough with him getting 4 hits in 11 tries. He is a good player to have behind Jason Varitek.
Bill Mueller: A/D How happy were you when he won the batting title, all the while playing great D? How angry were you with him during the playoffs. Night and day. His postseason slump was horrid. No RBI, lousy D? Yikes, what a nightmare.
Trot Nixon: A-/A- I still don’t know what to make of Trot. To me, he always seems on the verge of greatness or the minor leagues, I don’t know which. I’ve seen him hit too many important home runs while at the same time seen him make awful plays in the field to be able to access his worth. Looking strictly at his stats, he had a great season. His .975 OPS was good for 9th in the majors and 4th in the AL. He hit 4 post season home runs. I don’t know, I’m just not buying it. Statistics alone however, he’s a star. I’m confused.
David Ortiz: A-/C- His success surprised many. His ability to go the other way with pitches made him a terror at Fenway. At the same time, his road numbers were more than solid. Was this a career year? Hard to tell. He was highly touted in the Twins minor leagues and even put up some decent seasons while with the Twins, so perhaps this is his norm. Like so many other Red Sox batters, he was inconsistent in the playoffs. He’ll be back in 2004, just at a much higher price, say $3mm or so.
Robert Person: Incomplete
Manny Ramirez: B+/C There’s just too much bs with this guy. Everything he does. Even his home run trots are a topic of debate. To Manny’s credit, he put up respectable #s. His presence led to only 1 intentional walk to Nomar all season. To say Manny’s 2003 was satisfying would be a lie though. He is being paid $20mm to hit .350, score 130 runs, hit 45 home runs and drive in 145 rbi. His performance since joining Boston hasn’t cut it. His defense has improved, but I think that is more a function of him learning the Monster. He has an advantage out there seeing as he plays it 81 times a year (hopefully more). I am still waiting for one of Manny’s Clevelandesque seasons. One that includes driving in 165 runs. Really, that is not too much to ask. As for his postseason, it started off and ended poorly. He had a memorable home run in game 5 of the ALDS. It was especially memorable to him, as he watched is sail into the seats for several minutes. Manny needs to devote more of his brain to this game. Right now, he is playing on instinct. He never knows the significance of where he is or what situations are confronting him. If he could learn to concentrate and become a student of the game, who knows what levels he could achieve. In the meantime, I just have to face the fact that ever time I mention his name, I’ll be shaking my head. If I could, I deal him and use that money in a better way.
Ryan Rupe: Incomplete
Freddy Sanchez: Incomplete – I was really hoping to have Freddy as the everyday 2b in 2004, but in an effort to gear up for the 2003 postseason run, Theo unloaded him. Best of luck Freddy. With Todd Walker filing for free agency, perhaps Epstein can reacquire Sanchez. Doubtful though.
Scott Sauerbeck: D/na Sauerbeck fell apart after his first two appearances with the Red Sox. He couldn’t find the strike zone. Sauerbeck is a talented pitcher, but for some reason was so ineffective that Grady only used him once in the playoffs. Sauerbeck has said he’d take the same money as he got in 2003 to stick around in 2004, just to prove he can pitch. I’d like to see him return.
Rudy Seanez: Incomplete
Jason Shiell: Incomplete
Jeff Suppan: D/na Another bust trade deadline acquisition. Suppan, in my mind, wasn’t worth what we gave up in Freddy Sanchez. Of course had he and Sauerbeck been effective down the stretch, I wouldn’t be saying that. I believe the Red Sox had a $4mm option or a $500k buyout on Suppan next year and they took the buyout.
Mike Timlin: B+/A+ Mike Timlin was one of the few reliable bullpen arms in 2003. He let up his fair share of home runs, but otherwise, gave a solid performance almost every time on the mound. His postseason was fantastic. Timlin dominated, hitting 95mph with his fastball and getting batters to swing at his sinkers.
Kevin Tolar: Incomplete
Jason Varitek: A-/A- Many people have suggested David Ortiz was the MVP of the Red Sox, but my vote is with Jason Varitek. He put up career highs in HR, RBI and SLG. During the playoffs, he was one of few Red Sox bats I actually was happy to see at the plate. Who can forget his block of the plate against Eric Byrnes in game 3 of the ALDS.
Tim Wakefield: B/B+ The Red Sox player with the longest tenure, Wakefield, was solid in his starting role during the season. He has a knack of keeping his team in the game on most occasions. His ERA was a full run plus higher than 2002, but that’s because 2002 was an anomaly. His 2003 4.09 ERA was more in line with his career results. Wakefield was the most effective starter in the playoffs and despite being on the mound for Aaron Boone’s game winning blast in game 7 of the ALCS, without his fine play in the playoffs, specifically his 2 wins, there wouldn’t have been a game 7 of the ALCS.
Todd Walker: B/A Walker was on fire out the gate in April, but slumped badly in the 2nd half. He picked it up again in late September and carried that success over into the postseason. His 5 home runs led the squad and he had moments of defensive brilliance. I doubt we’ll see Walker at 2nd base in 2004, unless he is willing to settle for $3mm or so.
Matt White: Incomplete
Scott Williamson: C/A- Like all of the other trade deadline pitcher acquisitions, Williamson was awful. His 6.20 ERA can’t be explained. There was concern of shoulder trouble, but that proved to be a non-issue. Perhaps jumping into the fire that is Boston sports took its toll on Williamson. He got his act together just in time to be closer in the postseason with great success, game 5 of the ALDS notwithstanding. He will start off as the closer in 2004.
Steve Woodward: Incomplete
Coaching Staff: Given that Grady was let go today, I feel I needn’t say much more. He has taken a beating in the media and with the fans. Because I don’t know of any person out there who would do a better job, I am concerned with his dismissal. Don’t go thinking Joe Torre is going to land in Boston, it just won’t happen. Who is left? A bunch of retreads and a few interesting candidates out there that have little to no experience. Even Jerry Remy’s name has been mentioned (Jerry, please think this through. Do you want to be hated in 3 or 4 years? If you don’t win the World Series, you just might be. You are too good an analyst to subject yourself to the torture of managing the Red Sox).
I think we will end up seeing a coach that adherer’s to managements philosophy. In other words, there won’t be any guess work in what the next manager does. No debates over strategy as it will mostly be by the stat book. No gut-feeling moves. Kind of like how Billy Beane and Art Howe operated in Oakland. If you’ve read Moneyball, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If I haven’t mentioned it before, it is a great look at how Theo Epstein and John Henry will probably manage the Boston Red Sox for years to come, at least as far as strategy, not necessarily handling people.
As for the other coaches, I think we’ll see Dave Wallace and Ron Jackson back, but don’t have a clue on the others. Hopefully, for their sake, we’ll find out soon.
Thanks for a great season fellas. Here’s to another one in 2004, only a bit better.
Andy can be reached at Andy@yankeesredsox.com.
October 16, 2003
Game 7 – 2003 ALCS recap
I can’t say I’m surprised.
You just knew the Yankees would pull game 7 out. Good luck to them versus the Florida Marlins.
The Red Sox had a great first season under Theo Epstein. Hopefully it is the start of a long line of successful teams. Honestly, 2003 was much more than I could have ever hoped for or thought was possible. Here’s to hoping the off-season treats them well and we see them advance even further in 2004.
As for the game itself, there were plenty of opportunities. Seeing Mariano Rivera working 3 innings, Joe Torre would have had to come back with Contreras, Kline or Weaver. That was appealing, but I knew we had to get them out in the bottom of the 11th, to no avail. Too bad.
Congratulations to both teams.
Ok, you didn’t think I’d end my last post-season column like that (Red Sox post-season anyway), did you? Time for some talk about what when wrong in game 7.
1.) Grady Little
2.) Pedro Martinez
3.) Grady Little
Does that sum it up? Sure Pedro pitched a nice game…through 7. He had no business telling Grady he could keep going in the 8th. No business whatsoever. But ultimately, the responsibility of managing pitchers falls in Grady’s lap. Grady should have weighed the fact that his pitcher had already thrown 115 pitches and pulled him when Matsui came up. This outcome really falls squarely on Grady’s shoulders. There is no other way to say it.
This is quite a disappointment. To be so close and fail is crushing. It was really what I expected though, especially when the Yanks tied it 5-5. Heaven forbid the Red Sox get blown out. No, instead they have to play one of the most pressure filled games in my lifetime. Instead they have to lose it in extra innings. Could it have been anymore painful?
So, there you go. Theo has his work cut out for him. I fully expect to provide move by move feedback on the Red Sox off-season throughout the next few months, so I won’t go nuts here, but the first order of business is Theo canning Grady. I’m not saying that is what I’d do, but I am certain it is what Theo will do.
Why? Because his manager didn’t do the right things when it mattered most. End of story. Who is a possible replacement? I haven’t a clue, that’s not my problem.
The next thing will be for Theo to try and trade one or more of the following: Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, BY Kim and Ramiro Mendoza. I don’t imagine he’ll have much success with any of them save perhaps Nomar.
Why will Theo try this? He can get far better value for his dollar whether it be through trade or free agency. Nomar, Manny and Pedro will make up roughly 50% of the Red Sox payroll. That is far to much tied up in 3 guys. The trend with salaries is heading downward, gone are the $20mm , $17mm and even $15mm contracts. It’s just not good business.
Theo will be aided by a high number of MLB non-tenders, so perhaps he’ll have good major leaguers to pick from as replacements, but trading any of the aforementioned guys will be tough because every other team is in payroll reduction mode.
I’m probably getting far too ahead of myself and am writing this in a terrible state of mind, so I’ll wrap it up.
Keep your heads up Red Sox fans.
Can I also make a request? Can we quit it with the “Yankees Suck” stuff? It is obvious they don’t. They just kicked our collective asses, so quit it with the low-grade Yankee bashing. It makes us look like fools.
If you have criticisms of the Yankees, use your head and put together something you can actually prove.
That’s all. I’ll be back soon with some Red Sox 2003 regular season grades as well as some playoff grades.
Andy can be reached at Andy@yankeesredsox.com.
October 15, 2003
Game 6 – 2003 ALCS recap
After game 5, I showed these numbers representing a select group of Red Sox players playoff stats through game 5 of the ALCS:
Player AB R H HR RBI .Avg .Obp .Slg
Ortiz 37 2 5 1 4 .135 .256 .243
Millar 40 1 8 0 1 .200 .256 .200
Nomar 39 2 8 0 1 .205 .295 .231
Mueller 36 0 4 0 0 .111 .220 .139
Back-ups* 38 2 6 0 1 .157 .157 .184
*Kapler, Mirabelli, Jackson, Brown and McCarty.
Here’s what those same chaps did tonight in game 6.
Player AB R H HR RBI .Avg .Obp .Slg
Ortiz 5 1 2 0 3 .400 .400 .400
Millar 5 0 2 0 1 .400 .400 .400
Nomar 5 2 4 0 0 .800 .800 1.200
Mueller 5 2 3 0 0 .600 .600 1.000
Back-ups* 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
While none of them hit any home runs, they clogged up the bases enough to generate some quality run production.
Ok, boys, now do the same tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, game 7 of the 2003 ALCS could be one of the biggest games in decades! The Boston Red Sox versus the New York Yankees. Winner goes to the World Series. Wow. That is heavy duty.
Pedro Martinez (Yankee fan favorite of the year) and Roger Clemens (Red Sox fan favorite of the past 7 years) square off in a doozy. I’m sure I don’t have to say this, but the Red Sox bats have to come out swinging and making serious contact. Roger tends to get himself into trouble early in games, but has a knack for escaping with only letting up a run or two. The Red Sox need to pounce and get 4 or 5 runs if they hope to win.
At the same time, Pedro has to have his stuff from the first inning on. He admitted after game 3 (Does anyone remember game 3? Didn’t something interesting happen?) that it took him a few innings to find his stuff. During the first 4 innings, Pedro let up 4 runs while only hitting 87-88 with his fastball. That was all New York needed. By the time he was hitting 91-92, it was too late.
Anyone notice Nomar is starting to grow a goatee? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him change a personal hygiene habit before. He is such a man of routine. Perhaps I was seeing things, but it did look like he is starting to grow out the facial hair. That’s all I’m going to say about that. No point in me bring it up, I just thought it was interesting.
Tomorrow’s atmosphere should be charged. Fox stands to benefit especially since it’ll be the only game tomorrow. Chicago and Florida finish up tonight. As I write this, the Marlins are up 7-5 in the top of the 7th.
Should that score stand, the Cubs have no one to blame but themselves. I don’t care about the Moises Alou foul ball play in game 6. That fan did what any other fan would do. First off, the ball was in foul territory, and more importantly, it was going to land in the stands, not the field. The umpire agreed obviously because he didn’t rule fan interference.
Of greater importance, Chicago Cubs fans can’t pin their season, or their post season failures on any one play. They had too many chances to win that game and blaming some unlucky fan is the easy way out. He wasn’t the one throwing meatballs to Marlin hitters, he wasn’t the manager who clearly left his starting pitcher in too long (I’ve said all along that Mark Prior will have Tommy John surgery within two years. Of course I’ve been saying that for 2 years now.), he wasn’t the Cubs team that allowed 5 hits and committed 1 error in the 8th inning. The Chicago Cubs completely blew up in game 6, not the fans.
Trust me Chicago Cubs fans, don’t cling to anyone event as reason for continued failure. The way out of losing tendencies is to win. Just win. If you don’t win, well too bad, try again next year. No excuses.
Back to game 6 of the ALCS. I’m sure you’ll recall that I had an interesting line-up proposal for Grady. Well, thank goodness he didn’t listen. Ortiz, Mueller and Millar all came through. Congratulations to them, now do it again.
On a side note, game 7 stands to be one of the hottest tickets of all time. This game has the added twist of a major enemy of New York. Pedro Martinez is evil in Yankee country. The one benefit of this is that I don’t think we’ll see Pedro signing with the Yankees in 2005 as he publicly mentioned this year as a contact ploy.
The issue I’m getting at is safety. You might not have caught it, so read what Dave Anderson of the New York Times wrote about game 7 in Tuesday’s edition. I’m not sure about you, but I fully expect the fans of the New York Yankees to be on their best behavior. Any battery throwing would obviously be premeditated and would result in serious criminal charges. In addition, Yankee Stadium management knows about the threat and presumably will have the largest security force on staff in their history. If not, shame on them.
Not that I have too many Yankee fans reading this, but I know them to be a knowledgeable bunch that appreciates baseball and winning, lots of winning. Sure there are the 1% that make fools of themselves through their behavior, but every team has that. Yes, even the Red Sox have that, or should I say, especially the Red Sox have that.
Here’s to a good close game tomorrow and let’s keep it on the up and up guys.
Andy can be reached at Andy@yankeesredsox.com.
Game 5 – 2003 ALCS recap
Heading to New York for game six down 3 games to 2, isn’t ideal. Maybe good pitching does always beat good hitting.
D-Lowe certainly had a rough night, but he did keep the Red Sox in reasonable range of a win. It goes back to the offense. It has been non-existent.
Check out these 2003 post-season stats from a few Red Sox bats through game 5 (ALDS and the ALCS stats included):
Player AB R H HR RBI .Avg .Obp .Slg
Ortiz 37 2 5 1 4 .135 .256 .243
Millar 40 1 8 0 1 .200 .256 .200
Nomar 39 2 8 0 1 .205 .295 .231
Mueller 36 0 4 0 0 .111 .220 .139
Back-ups* 38 2 6 0 1 .157 .157 .184
*Kapler, Mirabelli, Jackson, Brown and McCarty.
That says it all right there. Your regular season, 3, 5, 6 and 8 hitters are, as my brother says, “crapping the bed.” Add to it no contributions from the bench (in fairness to Brown and McCarty, they’ve had a total of 3 ABs between them) and you have a team down 3-2.
Ortiz and Millar are each slugging below their weight and Mueller is slugging below Damien Jackson’s weight, which is quite an achievement.
Fact, I tend to get very negative when discussing Red Sox players who aren’t pulling their share. Fact, it doesn’t make them hit better. I realize each of the guys above were keys to one of the best regular season offenses ever, but at the end of the day, the biggest games of a player’s season and career are in the playoffs. Perhaps this is telling, or perhaps the sample size is so small I shouldn’t draw any conclusions.
“Arrgghh,” that’s all I can muster.
Tomorrow we’ll have John Burkett yet again responsible for the Red Sox season. He faces Andy Pettitte. It’s a mismatch on paper but stranger things have happened. Here is what I expect Grady will do:
cf – Damon
2b – Walker
ss – Nomar
lf – Manny
dh – Ortiz
1b – Mr. Cowboy
3b – Mueller
rf – Nixon
c – Varitek
What I would do:
cf – Damon
ss – Nomar
2b – Walker
lf – Manny
c – Varitek
1b – Mr. Cowboy
dh – Mirabelli
rf – Nixon
3b – Merloni
Basically, you stack the line-up with righties where you can. Sure you have a short right field porch in Yankee Stadium, but the fact is Ortiz hasn’t hit so why not put Mirabelli in. He has a good career record vs. lefties and has some pop. Let’s face it, what Grady has been rolling out there hasn’t worked, so mixing it up can’t hurt. Put the Governor at 3b and who knows, perhaps he’ll get a hit. That’s better than what we’ve been given to date.
Maybe he should even bench Millar in favor of Kapler despite the glove concerns.
It is very depressing that I even have to consider the garbage I just wrote above. Well, tomorrow is a new day and maybe we’ll see some Red Sox offense.
Misc. As my Yankee fan friend Peter mentioned in his article tonight, Fox has really done a lousy job with this series. They have cut into virtually every inning to squeeze in more ad time. I know this is a business, one that allows Pedro to be unhappy with his $17.5mm pittance next year, but for cripes sake. Fox missed 50% of the Red Sox scoring tonight. Amazing. No apologies from Joe Buck and interestingly enough, no words out of his mouth until about 10 seconds after Manny had crossed home plate. It was odd.
I have enough issues with Fox as it is but sports shouldn’t be one of them. Where oh where are Sean and Jerry. Don and Jerry would do too. I really should be listening to the WEEI broadcasts, but I lost my AM antenna. My loss.
October 14, 2003
Game 4 – 2003 ALCS recap
You’ve got to give Tim Wakefield credit. He didn’t have it in the first inning last night, but found it and kept it in the second inning. As has been the norm, Mike Timlin and Scott Williamson nailed it down in the eighth and ninth respectively.
Considering the craziness of game 3, this game went about as smoothly as could be hoped. Baseball was the focus, that was refreshing.
Continuing themes: Nomar and Bill Mueller are still struggling. To Kevin Millar’s credit, he played some good defense last night and did have a key walk. Still, if the Red Sox can get these three rolling, it’d be nice.
Derek Lowe v. David Wells today. I don’t care to think about this one too much, so let’s just get the game started and see what happens. There were some rumors that Wells hurt his groin during the game 3 festivities, but he denied any injury. Perhaps a Yankee physical therapist gave his groin a good work-over. I will add that Derek Lowe has been a good guy to have pitch at Fenway this year.
Looking back on the bullpen altercation in game 3, I am really surprised at some of the comments I’ve read. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg said Pedro should be arrested. Bloomberg’s reasoning was that Don Zimmer is 72 years old. He failed to tell us at what age a man can be grabbed by the head and sent to the dirt.
He’s such a big Yankee fan, Mayor Bloomberg is. Being born in Medford, MA, I honestly think his rooting for the Yankees is from the heart and not a vote based tactic. Really I do.
The trio in the booth is still wearing on me. McCarver is just brutal. I am starting to feel bad about my criticisms of him as he has frequently stumbled his way through segments and realized it at the last moment. He has had to apologize. I guess that’s how he wins over fans. He makes them feel sorry for him thus causing the fan to root for him, strictly for survival. That might be giving him too much credit.
Bret Boone has done an decent job considering he is new at this. Joe Buck sure isn’t afraid to tell Boone he isn’t providing enough analysis. Must be part of breaking in the new guy.
October 11, 2003
Game 3 – 2003 ALCS recap
That was no fun. On so many levels, that was just no fun. The Red Sox lost and the site of 72 year old Don Zimmer bouncing off the ground made me sick. Regardless of whose fault it was, the Zim/Pedro confrontation, still isn’t good to see.
Because baseball generally isn’t a contact sport, I can’t recall any similar incidents to today’s. The one sports incident that I do think of occurred in the 2001-2002 Bruins round one playoff series against the Canadians. Kyle McLaren clotheslined Richard Zednik putting him out of the playoffs. I think McLaren was just playing hard and happened to catch Zednik the right/wrong way. Anyway, it stunk and so did today. Pedro seemed to be defending himself and reacted by grabbing Zim by the ears and tossing him to the ground. At first I figured it was Garcia b/c I saw a bald head, but when I saw it was Zim, I was stunned.
Without benefit of replays, it seemed a one sided affair. I thought Pedro had singled out Zim and took care of him. I really thought Pedro had lost his mind. Thank goodness replays showed Zim making the initial move.
Then we had a member of the ground’s crew in the Yanks pen. What happened? I haven’t heard the details on this one yet, but I can’t wait. That was a first.
Anyway, the game itself, the baseball portion, was disappointing. Pedro didn’t have his good fastball until after the damage was done. Or I could say the damage was done while he didn’t have his good fastball. Once he started hitting 91 and above, he was able to keep the Yankees bats off balance and dominated for the rest of the game. During his power outage, he threw a ton of curves. He didn’t seem to use his change-up much.
Roger Clemens pitched well. Despite the already high tension in the air to start the game, Clemens kept cool and handled the 4th inning fireworks with ease. In the end though, it came down to some key bats in the Red sox line-up just not getting it done.
Player AB R H RBI BB LOB
Nomar 4 0 0 0 0 5
Ortiz 3 1 0 0 1 2
Millar 4 0 1 0 0 0
Mueller 2 0 0 0 1 0
Nixon 3 0 0 0 0 1
Yikes. Mr. Cowboy, the batting champ, and the former batting champ have been awful. I mean really awful. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t want Nomar up in a crucial situation. I’m sure it is just a slump, but couldn’t it have ended with the regular season?
Nixon and Ortiz have each had hits in the playoffs, but they didn’t play well today.
The Red Sox are back in a very tough and frightening situation in game 4. They have to put the outcome of the season squarely on the back of John Burkett. At the same time, the Yanks get to roll out David Wells. I know who I’d prefer. This is why the Yanks get to me. Not the players on the team, but rather the holes they have. They have a good squad, but it should be much, much better. See, having David Wells as your 4th starter is a luxury. They can afford it. Why shouldn’t they have David Wells as their 4th starter? Then again, how in the world do they not have an everyday RF or DH?
At $180mm in payroll, how is this possible? The Yankees should be better than they are. More on that topic some other day.
Tim McCarver gave kudos (the compliment, not the delightfully refreshing snack bar) to Posada for throwing out Ramirez in the bottom of the first. He said it was a great play because Jorge had to stay back to collect strike 3 on Ortiz before making the throw. While it certainly was a decent play, it wasn’t as good a play as McCarver made it out to be. Ramirez, like David Ortiz, Kevin Millar, Doug Mirabelli and Todd Walker, rate a 1 out of 10 on the newly created Andy’s Speed Scale (ASS – where 1 is a glacier and 10 is light). I might have had a chance of throwing Manny out. Posada certainly is a good enough defensive catcher, much improved in fact, but that wasn’t a great play. I’ll leave McCarver alone now. He can’t help it.
Wait, one more. McCarver said Pedro was 5’ 8 ½”. Not to quibble over facts, but he is listed as 5’ 11”. Not sure where he gets this stuff. Maybe I’m wrong on this one, having never met Pedro, I could very well be, but I think I’d have heard of it before.
October 10, 2003
Game 2 – 2003 ALCS recap
No surprise to see the Yankees claim game two. They are tough at home and Red Sox fans should be happy to take 1 of 2. With their game 1 win, the Red Sox now have home field advantage.
Derek Lowe’s stats say one thing, but I saw something different. Reading the box score, one would get the impression that he pitched a poor game. While he didn’t have his good stuff, he did seem to have enough to keep the Red Sox in it. Scott Sauerbeck allowed a two run double to Posada in the seventh making it 6-1 at the time. Had Sauerbeck retired Posada, Lowe’s line would have been:
IP H BB R ER K
Lowe 6.2 7 3 4 4 2
Not great, but not bad either.
As it turns out, Andy Pettitte pitched a good game. The Red Sox had opportunities in the first 2 innings, but could only muster 1 run. Too bad too, grabbing a few extra runs could really have put a damper on the Yankees chances. Or not.
Not that I called it, but Nomar had 2 more pop-ups. I don’t get it. From what I understand, Nomar is a slave to routine, that much is obvious. Some would say obsessive-compulsive, so I bet Ron Jackson isn’t able to offer much in the way of useful advice. Useful from Nomar’s prospective. Something might have to change in the offseason though. While he is still an excellent player, he lacks the OBP he once had. That OBP was largely driven by his ability to hit for a high average. Now that he is in the .300-.310 range, his OBP has dropped. Take a look:
Nomar .Avg .Obp .Slg H BB HR R RBI SB
1997 .306 .342 .534 209 35 30 122 98 22
1998 .323 .362 .584 195 33 35 111 122 12
1999 .357 .418 .603 190 51 27 103 104 14
2000 .372 .434 .599 197 61 21 104 96 5
2001 .289 .352 .470 24 7 4 13 8 0
2002 .310 .352 .528 197 41 24 101 120 5
2003 .301 .345 .524 198 39 28 120 105 19
While he is still quite productive, gone are the .400+ OBPs. At quick glance, you might say “well yes, but did you notice he keeps having 190+ hits and 100+ rbi?” Sure, but those hits and rbi are spread out over 156 games and not the typical 140 or so he played from 1997-2000. His production per game is down in some important categories.
I could speculate all day about why he has fallen off a bit. The most obvious reason might be his wrist, but perhaps pitchers are now pitching him differently or even perhaps he has lost a step or two. If that last statement is true, it might mean he can’t quite get around on some pitches, or that the bad balls he used to get to for hits, he now pops them up or just doesn’t hit them as hard. Here’s to hoping Nomar is just in the midst of a 2 year slump and that he returns to the .350+ average and the .400+ obp. I know, I’m never happy.
Big game tomorrow. BIG GAME!!! Pedro vs. Roger. How great is that? Ever since that 1999 game at the Stadium where Trot Nixon took Roger deep with a 2 run shot, this head to head match up has been the best in baseball.
My guess is we’ll see the following:
Damon – cf
Nomar – ss
Walker – 2b
Manny – lf
Ortiz – dh
Millar – 1b (time to Cowboy up Kevin, no extra base hits, 1 rbi)
Mueller – 3b (you too Bill)
Trot – rf
Varitek – c
That isn’t a big surprise. The only question mark is if Johnny is really ready.
Sorry about my last post. I referred to Mark Williamson, but the Red Sox pitcher is Scott Williamson.
October 08, 2003
Game 1 – 2003 ALCS recap
Tim Wakefield came up big. It would have been nice to see him get through 7 full, but 6 isn’t bad. I can’t believe I can’t just be happy for the win. Instead I have to tell you how it could have been better. Cripes!
As I mentioned in yesterday’s notes, we saw Mike Timlin and Mark Williamson. Alan Embree even made an appearance. Basically Grady Little trotted out the only 3 bullpen arms we really should see this series if the Red Sox want to win.
The first game couldn’t have gone better for Red Sox fans. No one collided with anyone and the Red Sox are going to leave New York with at least 1 win. Ok, enough of the happy stuff.
The New York Yankees have been here before, they know how to win. Given the amount of post season experience they’ve had over the last several years, they certainly know how to approach a game 2 down one game. Derek Lowe and Andy Pettitte will be the starters.
Lowe pitched an inning on Monday night and will have had 2 days rest, but will be going on 4 days rest since his last start. Pettitte last pitched last Thursday, so he is going on 6 days rest.
It sure is nice seeing Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz pick it up. Even Kevin Millar and Trot Nixon came up with 2 hits each. 4 of the 5 bats I mentioned in yesterdays column as having slumped in the ALDS all came through big going 9 for 16 with 4 runs scored and 4 rbi. Now, if Bill Mueller can get straightened out, we might have something.
I don’t know about you, but Nomar has looked awful for the past month. He hit .190 in September and after Wednesday’s game 1, he is hitting .240 in the playoffs. I’m certain it has been discussed before, but have you noticed the amount of pop flies to first or shallow right he has hit? Also, he can’t seem to get around on the inside pitches. The pattern has been to bust him in with fastballs and sliders away. Hopefully he’ll snap out of it and go on a tear similar to the one he had in August. The good news is that he’s still contributed.
Ok then, game 2 in the Bronx. The Red Sox need to get a quality start out of D-Lowe…and 3 or 4 home runs would help…and strong bullpen work would be a bonus. That seems like a reasonable request.
By the way, I just saw that Theo Epstein shaved his head too! Well not completely shaved, but he did get a whiffle (that’s local talk for a buzz cut) as did Grady. Holy smokes, I didn’t see that coming. I wonder if business people would ever consider shaving their heads to get their sales numbers higher? If you showed up at your stockbroker’s and he had a shaved head, what would you think? I’ve got to think about that.