Baseball Thinking

Monday, May 15, 2006

Does 120 Million Pay for Mediocrity?

Since the start of the 2000 season, the New York Yankees have spent 1.07 billion dollars on their players. Think about that. That is in the billions, not millions. The figure doesn’t include the tax penalties, but does include, however, the 2006 season. Even one billion dollars (think of Austin Powers with his pinky finger in the corner of his mouth) can’t buy a Major League Baseball championship.
That brings us to the 2006 edition of the Boston Red Sox. While the combined salaries have decreased over the past two years after reaching a high of 127 million in 2004, the Red Sox have remained competitive, winning almost the same amount of games in 2005 (95) as the Cleveland Indians (93), although the Indians had less than 1/3 the salary ($41,000,000) the Red Sox had. Does 120 million (current payroll) buy a mediocre team?
As of this writing, the Sox were tied for 1st in the AL East with the Yankees, one game ahead of the surging Toronto Blue Jays ($71,000,000). They have the 3rd best record in the AL behind Chicago ($102,000,000) and Detroit ($82,000,000), just ahead of Texas ($68,000,000). They currently stand 6th in Major League Baseball, behind the upstart Cincinati Reds ($60,000,000) and the St. Louis Cardinals ($88,000,000). So with the second highest payroll in MLB, the Sox currently have the 6th best team. Shouldn’t this type of cake buy a better team, such as the number one team?
The Red Sox started off their first week in fine fashion, establishing the early AL East lead with a 6-1 record. Since then, they are barely above being a .500 team, going 15-13. Shouldn’t that kind of cake buy a team better than .500? I love cake, by the way.
Long gone are the high scoring Sox from the previous 3 years, when they were near or at the top of most offensive categories. They are now a middle of the road offense who can’t hit in the clutch. The Sox are 19th in MLB with runners in scoring position and 21st in batting with the bases loaded. One hundred and twenty million clams doesn’t buy clutch, I guess. All this displays is mediocrity.
The current edition of Red Sox Nation is based on pitching and defense. As advertised, the defense has been spectacular, ranking first in MLB. The pitching has been decent, but they have similar stats the 2005 team had during the same time period last year. Again, middle of the road, nothing spectacular, and certainly not worth $42,000,000 that has been spent on 12 arms. The Seattle Mariners ($87,000,000) and Oakland Athletics (62,000,000) have similar pitching records with less payroll commitments.
So where does that leave us? To date, we love our one hundred twenty million dollar team that is playing .500 ball. Is it true that only mediocrity can be purchased for such a large amount of money? Or is it money unwisely spent. The remaining 75% of the season should answer these questions. Stay tuned, Red Sox Nation.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation – Around MLB

The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly looking to trade Kevin Millar. Millar, who spent the past 3 years with the Boston Red Sox, has been slumping at the plate to start the season, hitting at a .218 clip with a .320 OBP. I can’t seem to justify this, but I think Millar would be a great bench player for the Red Sox. He is incredible in the locker room, still has a little pop, but definitely lacks defensively. I think he would be more valuable than Dustin Mohr (.176/.243). And while JT Snow was brought in for defensive purposes, Kevin Youkilis has been the man. But JT does provide a left-handed bat. I’d rather have a bench duo of Stern/Millar than Harris/Mohr. What do you think?
Former Sox shortstop Edgar Renteria is riding a 25 game hitting streak to being the season with the Atlanta Braves, hitting .340. I think everyone is Boston is quietly happy for his success. While he struggled in Boston, he is known around MLB as a solid guy. Keep it up, Edgar.
Nomar Garciaparra is riding a nice little hitting streak for the LA Dodgers. Last week he hit a game winning grand slam, then followed it up with two game winning hits on consecutive nights. I happened to catch his wife, Mia Hamm, on an edition of Cold Pizza earlier in the week, and she said he isn’t getting too high during the good times or too long during the pressing times. He has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers after spending the first couple weeks on the DL.
While Barry Bonds is attempting to tie Babe Ruth for second on the home run list, the San Francisco fans don’t seem to care too much, as they have failed to sell out during the past three games.
Former NH Fisher Cat Russ Adams has been bench in Toronto by manager John Gibbons. He has errors in 4 consecutive games. Some in the organization feel it’s strictly mechanical, but Russ hasn’t adjusted. Here’s hoping the former Manchester, NH, resident finds his way soon.
Methuen, MA, and Northeaster star first baseman Carlos Pena is in the Yankees organization. There is reportedly a clause in his contract that allows him to be released if he isn’t called up to the show by a specified period. The Chicago Cubs are in dire need of a solid defender with some pop. Carlos would make a good fit.
Blue Jays GM JP Ricciardi is nervous about sending out left Josh Towers for his next start, given his 0-7 record and 10.09 ERA. Towers is out of options and is getting shelled each time out. JP is scouring rosters looking for a replacement.
Former Sox centerfield Johnny Damon broke an 0-11 slump against his old team. He feels that the fans were “vicious” upon his return to Fenway. Boo-freakin’-hoo.
Randy Johnson is old. Period.
David Ortiz snapped a 2-24 slump, going 4-4 against Mike Mussina and the Yankees on Wednesday night.
David Riske is on a rehab assignment in Pawtucket, while Cocoa Crisp was pushed back another week due to the flu. David Wells continues to progress.
If your going to the Texas Rangers series over the weekend, make sure you check prior to traveling. The forecasts aren’t conducive to playing. Learning from their mistakes during the cancelled Yankees game last week, the Sox will be more proactive with the fans for upcoming cancellations.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

YaHoo!! WEEI Loses Broadcast Rights To Most of Red Sox Games!

Yahoo! I read an article in the Boston Globe sports pages that made my day. After years of broadcasting Boston Red Sox games, WEEI will no longer carry all of the games. Beginning in 2007, the bulk of the games, along with the pre and post game shows, will be broadcast on WRKO. Yahoo!! And if you reside in southern or central New Hampshire, you know exactly what I’m talking about. WEEI is a sports format, weak AM radio station in Boston. In an effort to expand their range, they have launched sister stations in Worcester, MA, and RI. Unfortunately, their expansion never included NH, where the number of MA transplants are staggering. It is next to impossible to receive the station clearly in this state unless you are standing on top of a 1,000 foot high hill or live in a house made of aluminum. I have often emailed the radio station asking why they wouldn’t expand up here. They responded that I could listen to the station on the internet, but have you ever tried to weed wack your lawn while holding a laptop? I almost wacked my power cord. It’s next to impossible. I remember driving to Portland, ME, to take the ferry to Novia Scotia. I had WEEI on the radio before tucking it away into the ferry. When I drove the car off the next morning, WEEI was still the selected channel on my radio, and I was in Novia Scotia!! Another country! Man, I was ticked off. WEEI promised they would not head to the greener pastures of satellite radio. Too bad, as I would have become a subscriber.
So, looking forward to 2007, WRKO will broadcast 132 games, leaving WEEI to the remaining 30 games. I think (and the Sox said it would NOT be confusing to the fans) that WEEI will broadcast Friday games, morning games, afternoon games (except weekends), and games which fall on a blue moon. Nevertheless, everyone in southern and central NH will be able to receive the broadcasts, without having to continuously search the radio bands when driving through different towns, hoping there is somewhat of a fuzzy signal of an affiliate station licensed to carry the game. Yahoo!!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ramblings from the Nation – Toronto Blue Jays

Fresh of the series sweep against the New York Yankees (yes, technically, according to MLB rules, the Sox won the series, via the sweep), the Blue Jays come into town for their second visit. The Jays have won 4-6 so far. JP Riccardi has done a decent job rebuilding this club, although questioned for the big contracts of unproved closer BJ Ryan and AJ Burnett, who is once again on the DL. Many of the baseball experts feel the Jays are winning like the Red Sox did during their championship year of 2004. Time will tell…..Josh Beckett faces Doc Halladay in the series opener Wednesday…..Beckett has given up 12 runs in the past 4+ innings…..Halladay has gone 6-0, with a 2.01 ERA, over his past seven starts against the Sox and Yankees…..Shea Hillenbrand is OK after colliding with Gary Sheffield at first base last week. Shef has been out of the lineup ever since, and might make a trip to the DL with a bad wrist…..Troy Glaus was in a 6-39 skid until he went 4-5 and 4 RBI against the Orioles Monday. Why couldn’t he continue the slump until after he left Fenway? He comes into Fenway with 8 HR’s and 22 RBI…..For the Sox, these are games 7 & 8 of the 19 game series…..10 players from the Manchester Fisher Cats, the AA team of the Jays, have made the big league roster. The latest additions this year are Casey Janssen and Steve Andrade. I watched Janssen’s first MLB start and he did pretty good against the Orioles. He is 0-2, with a 6.30 ERA. Another former Fisher Cat, Steve Andrade, a member of the 2005 team, was recently called up by the Kansas City Royals, making him the 11th Fisher Cat to make the bigs, first with another team….Pitcher Jason Frasor was optioned to AAA…..Reliever Scott Downs returned recently from the bereavement list and is back in the pen…..

Monday, May 01, 2006

Dudley Dooright, I Mean Mirabelli,Saves The Day

Dudley Dooright, I Mean Mirabelli,Saves The Day

Over this past off-season, in an effort to shore up the porous Red Sox defense, general manager Theo Epstein traded fan favorite Doug Mirabelli, the primary backstop for knuckle baller Tim Wakefield, to the San Diego Padres for steady second baseman Mark Loretta. Once the deal was announced, this guy was immediately worried. While Loretta is a fine player, the loss was great. As most Sox fans know, catching the fluttering knuckle ball is no steady task. Just ask All-Star catcher Jason Varitek. He has struggled mightily behind the plate when Wake pitched. And as Sox fans have witnessed, Josh Bard went straight to catcher’s hell. He already had 10 passed balls so far, which would have led to a major league record if he continued to catch. Along comes Dudley Dooright. Dougie was traded back to the Red Sox Monday and flew all day in an attempt to make the game against the Yankees, which Wakefield was pitching. Plans were in the works to get him to the game as quickly as possible, including landing a helicopter on local buildings, police escorts, and I think the Concord was even mentioned. Just like a NY script, Mirabelli arrived at Fenway Park around 7PM, minutes before the start of the game. He received a police escort to the players parking entrance, and exited the state owned vehicle already wearing his familiar number 28. As he exited, fans applauded on Yawkey Way. He went into the locker room, spoke to Wake, and put on his spikes. He received a thunderous ovation when he first took the field, and an even louder one as he took his first AB of the game. Here he comes to save the day!!