Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Is Carl Pavano a bum?

The topic says it all.

I have been away from the internet for a few days seeing my dad and visiting old friends on the picturesque Isle of Wight. The Yankees seemingly haven't been playing that great but nor have the Red Sox. The Bronx Bombers have a seven game lead and the magic number is down to 26.

Anyway, Carl Pavano...

If you haven't read this yet then I suggest you do. It tells how our $39.95m man had a minor car accident but decided that he needn't tell the ball club about it. This guy just tries his best not to help himself. I keep trying in my mind to try and find a defense for his actions but I'm failing miserably. Either my brain is fried or Pavano really is a bum.

It's one of the two.

2006 - In memoria?

Not surprisingly, tonight's line-up didn't trouble the scoreboard operators too often, and for the second time in 4 days the Red Sox box-score line starts with a 0...

So to illustrate what has happened this last month, a simple table - the first two columns show our season to date performance, the second two, the last 30 days...


MLB Rank

Last 30 Days

MLB Rank














































































So much has gone wrong in the last month that is difficult to grasp... and for all that people want to assign blame to Theo and the inactive front office, no GM in baseball - none, not even breakfast feeding Brian and his unlimited resources, could cope with all that has gone wrong since the trading deadline.

And to cap it all off today, David Ortiz was sent back to Boston to get further tests on his irregular heartbeat - at least let us hope for one positive story line over the next 30+ days... get well soon Big Papi.

A terrible middle

0-3 in Seattle, our manager literally coughing up blood...

And this...

Crisp CF
Cora SS
Loretta DH
Youkilis LF
Lowell 3B
Hinske RF
Lopez C
Pena 1B
Pedroia 2B

Gabbard SP

for real?

So from the projected starting 9 back in April, 4 of them make the lineup tonight, only 2 of them at the position that was envisaged... and none of them named Ramirez or Ortiz...

Jon Lester was sent to the 15 day DL to make room for Pena - given the belief that Wakefield will make it back to the Sox during the next home-stand, it is not difficult to believe that we have seen the last of Lester this year.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A positive start

Well a few posts ago I said that this road-trip would tell us a lot about the 2006 Red Sox, and the trip has gotten off to as good a start as could have been hoped for - and tonight (at least) one of the most criticized members of the 2006 team came through when it was sorely needed. Watching the Sox game on the out of town scoreboard as the inning's went by and the Angels kept recording 0's would only have been made more enjoyable if the Sox hadn't largely been doing the same thing!

On a slight down note, the much criticized one had to leave the game having just walked his first (and given I tried saying nine quite a few times after his last outing, let me just luxuriate in the number one for a while... ) batter leading off the 7th inning (having only thrown 71 pitches) with a cut on his right middle finger - as I was at Safeco I didn't see pictures of the offending cut - but hopefully it was a cautious removal by our manager, rather than a rotation hole next Tuesday kind of cut... ?

Given the Sox also received good news on Manny's knee, some positive words from Varitek (likely that he will be back playing baseball in a week - either rehab or with the Sox) and news that Wakefield may only be days from returning, this week is ending on a more positive note than it started.

Game 126 at Safeco Field

Well after my 6th experience of Safeco, although my first since 2002, I can safely say that Safeco is my favorite of the new stadiums, and despite the fact that it was a Yankee - Mariners game there were enough advance fans from Boston to suggest there will be a good turn out the next few days.

Surprisingly given the number of Yankee fans that were evident for the couple of days I have been here, they were very quiet for the whole game - perhaps not helped by the fact that RJ gave up 4 runs early, and the bats never really got going.

What was also entertaining, was Mariners fans giving A-Rod a lot of grief in his 9th inning PH appearance - I may have joined in to be polite. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The backlash

It seems that the Sox have worn out the welcome that was extended during the cowboy and idiot era, when it seemed the whole of America wanted to jump on the Red Sox train.

I can understand (but not agree) with the way the local media have jumped all over the Sox after the past weekend, but it seems that everyone wants a piece of the action. I don't mean to turn my contributions on this blog into a "you will never believe what hack X has said today" but this really is fertile territory at the moment - clearly a lot of bad-will exists, and this past weekend is being used as the excuse to let it all air - needless to say, not many of these stories were being published as the Red Sox stayed in first place through the first half of the season...

There are two that I want to comment on - one for the general comment that I want to address, one I want to get into specifically.

The first was Buster Olney's piece on Monday under the headline "Red Sox putting money into team?" (behind the ESPN Insider wall) where Buster, after specifically stating that "George Steinbrenner has rightly been criticized over the years for exorbitant spending", basically goes on to state that the Sox should be making those same spending decisions if they want to compete - because while they may not have the Yankees resources "the Red Sox have money".

As Sox fans it is difficult to complain about inequality in baseball when our team has, and uses, the massive resources that it has at its disposal, but when are baseball writers going to wake up to the fact that we do not compete on an even playing field? That $65 million, no matter how you cut it, cannot simply be overcome by being the brightest guy in class?

The second one is astonishing - written by Jon Heyman - As the Monster turns details 'all' that has gone wrong in Boston and the glee apparent in sticking the knife is palpable... and explicit at times.

The key section for me -
Big mistakes were made. Boston never should have let Johnny Damon go, replaced him with serial outmaker Coco Crisp (1 for 19 against the Yankees) or, worse still, compounded the errors by giving Crisp a three-year, $14.5 million extension. Epstein never should have traded viable starter Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena, eventually leaving a virtual tryout camp in the rotation, one that continues to fail.

Epstein's inability to make an impact deadline deal left the team shorthanded, and perhaps even depressed. Some think he overshot in his attempts. "If you'll notice, except Arizona [which made a waiver deal to get Livan Hernandez], none of the Moneyball teams made a trade,'' one critic said. "They all make trades too complex. One-for-one isn't in their vocabulary. They'll say, 'I'll get you this player' and they don't even have this player.'' And another critic added, "It's very difficult to make a trade with these guys. They're always trying to trade guys they don't actually have.''
The bile that is evident in that section is incredible - no evidence to support the numerous assertions is offered, it seems simply stating them is fact enough - some of it directed directly at Epstein, but some of it, more interestingly, is wrapped into a anti-Moneyball statement.

Part of the media game is clearly to build up a story, and as much mileage can be gained knocking down the story as there is in building it in the first place, but wow, the worm, not the monster, has turned quickly!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things...

Well I think we learn a lot this week - the team either shows it has the abilty, and the will, to bounce back from a horrendous couple of weeks, or... it doesn't...

Given the difficulty of the schedule this week, it is difficult to guage what bouncing back will look like - is it 5-4, is it 6-3... or is 4-5? And for a west coast swing, it is a very strange schedule - in order, 3 in Anaheim, 3 in Seattle, 3 in Oakland - and sadly I miss the Sox by a day in Seattle, although I will be at Safeco on Thursday, to root, root, root for the home team.

To start off the trip we go for the apparently weak part of our rotation - Snyder tonight and Lester tomorrow, who will face the rookie Joe Saunders, fresh from a poor outing against the Rangers and Kelvim Escobar, fresh from a great start against the Rangers, respectively.

What I would be fascinated to see tomorrow is the NESN ratings - I guess that 10pm ET starts are the ratings low for Sox games, and after this last weekend, how many Sox fans will still be there 3 or 4 innings in?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The night after the afternoon after the night before

Well if it was hard to wake up a Sox fan this morning, nothing that happened today made it any easier. Yankees fans in my office smiled, smirked, grinned, laughed - you name it, and frankly, I found it difficult to raise any protest.

And then to finalize the insult, I had to take a meeting with my Yankee loving boss, in his office, with the Yahoo Game-Tracker on in the background, as the Sox wasted a very strong effort from Wells and Foulke to lose a fifth straight game... and he politely remarked... it doesn't seem right to gloat when it seems so easy...

In sport it is all too easy to react, and over-react, to the immediate. But right now, some 18 hours after an incredibly bone-headed managerial move, to cap a weekend of bone-headed managerial moves if I am being honest, I still can't find it in my heart to say something that would justify Francona's actions last night.

I have seen blog entries today that defended Francona's use of Papelbon - ranging from "we can't bring in Papelbon for 6 outs every time we are ahead" to "if the rest of the bullpen can't hold a 2 run lead what does it matter"- and frankly - you are wrong - there is no defense for his his non-use of Papelbon to start the 8th... none.

Having lost 3 games to our division leader, the Sox had a chance to rescue something from the series, to set up some momentum for today's game - to show the world that 3 bad games are just that - 3 bad games - so frankly, we had to bring in Papelbon to get those 6 outs, we had to care that the rest of our bullpen couldn't protect a 2 run lead... and the opposite issues - we could have worried about those today, or tomorrow, or the next day... the next time it mattered.

So are there any positives to be taken from the lost weekend?

Well there were - Manny, Ortiz, Wells, Schilling, Papelbon even Foulke showed they were up for the fight, but today these positives seem a bit like finding a shiny penny in the gutter the day I have been told that I need to settle the national debt by the weekend...

Monday, August 21, 2006

How sweep the sound

The bats cooled off but the concentration remained as the Yankees scored the winning run on a wild pitch to get out the brooms. For five innings Cory Lidle and David Wells exchanged zeros on the scoreboard before Melky Cabrera singled, stole second and came home on Bobby Abreu's RBI double into the gap in RCF.

The Yankees pen saw action in the seventh and Dotel got an out, give up a hit and came out to set up the lefty/lefty match up between Mike Myers and Boston's MVP candidate Big Papi David Ortiz. For once the Red Sox DH couldn't come through as he struck out swinging on three pitches. Scott Proctor came in (yes again) and recorded the final out.

In the 8th Nick Green led off with a double off David Wells, and the former Yankee starter was pulled for Keith Foulke. He pitched great and received a deserved standing ovation from those in attendance. Melky bunted Green over to third and the former Devil Ray came home on a wild pitch to score the all important insurance run. Green had earlier been changed with an error for dropping a pop fly when he cut across Robinson Cano and knocked it out of the second baseman's hand.

Proctor stayed in the game, the glue on his arm tendons still holding and got two quick outs before going full on Wily Mo Pena and giving him something to hit, and hit it he did as he half the deficit with a solo Home Run to RF. The Yankees opted not to go to Mariano as Kyle Farnsworth came in for the save and nailed it down with a perfect inning.

Sweeping the Sox in Fenway in this five-game set was more than anyone could've even dreamed. The 'pen may be a bit banged up going out west but they are going out there part of a team with a 6.5 lead in the AL East. Today's win was nice but it was Sunday's victory that was the sweetest.

I saw all the games and I truly still can't believe it, that was genuinely unbelievable.

Notes: Joe Torre told reporters on the post-game that Mike Mussina will be skipped his next start because of tightness in his groin. Jeff Karstens makes his Major Leaguer debut in Seattle on Tuesday night whilst Jaret Wright will go in Moose's spot on Friday.

Four in the books

As the sun rose and people started to rise to signal the start of another working week in sunny England, the New York Yankees were going through their post game routine of high fiving eachother on the Fenway Park diamond.

I'll get this out of the way now, I agree fully with my colleagues point here about Francona's BP management. If Papelbon starts the 8th then the Red Sox probably win. From now on it's Yankees all the way...

Still, the Yankees had to go out and take the win and that they did. Giambi hit the ball hard four times, possibly hard enough for four round trippers, although he only had two, a double and a long sac fly. He seemed locked in. In the bottom of the 9th everyone knew they just knew that Derek Jeter was going to come through in the clutch. It is just how it seems to happen.

In the bottom of the 9th Ortiz's bad hop double (read zero blame on Giambi here although very Yankee fans seem to want to rip him for this play) led off the 9th, we walked Manny, Mo's athleticism nailed Papi at third on an attempted bunt play but then JoPo allowed the runners to get to second and third with a poor defensive play. Mo walked Lowell and then just flat out blew PH Hinske away, after the first cutter missed it was pure high heat, not what I expected so something I most certainly enjoyed. Mirabelli would ground out meekly and you knew that the Yankees were big favourites in extras.

Giambi ripped his second Home Run of the night, a line drive into the Boston BP, his first HR was a soaring majestic fly, this one was out before you could blink. Craig Hansen then got A Rod to strike out before giving up a double to Robinson Cano. Jorge Posada wrapped a two run shot around the Pesky Pole and that was game.

Mariano returned to pitch a scoreless 10th to get the win, with Ortiz ending the game flying out to Aaron Guiel in RF. What I liked about this win, stratch that, what I loved about this win was the players didn't give up. After Schilling discovered he had a good feel for his splitter he was mowing down the Yankees but they hung around and didn't think 'well we've won three in a row, we don't need this' they got stuck in and ground out the victory.

Ron Villone and Scott Proctor are in dangerous territory with respects to their arms falling off but they still did the job. Giving them both two nights off would be really handy. Tonight I expect Jeff Karstens would be the guy the Yanks go to early if Lidle struggles and with Dotel and Farnsworth available late there shouldn't be a need for Villone or Proctor. Sadly it is Jaret Wright on Tuesday so I doubt they'll get two nights off on the spin.

The Yankees went out and took this game from the Red Sox, the Sox and their manager may of made it a lot easier than it should've been, but the Yankees still had to go out and take it, and go out and take it they did.

Grady v2.0

At least Microsoft have the decency to issue patches to solve their problems...

We have Tito saying before the game - "Papelbon is available to go deep"

We have Tito saying in game to Jon and Joe - "2 innings? Papelbon could go 4"

and then...

Presented with the perfect opportunity to use Papelbon for six outs he chokes... he decides that he has a good thing going here and that he will manage to win tomorrow...

I think that can be his only excuse - 5-3 ahead, bases empty he decided to risk the fragile Sox psyche for the chance to win tomorrow...

Just unacceptable...

What more can I say?

I love this ball club.

It's half past six, Five.tv went off air half an hour ago and missed the bottom of the 9th and the 10th innings, it's lucky I have mlb.tv!

My detailed thoughts after I've caught up on sleep, my housemate is already up and about getting ready for work. I doubt I'll be awake before three.

But wow, seriously, wow. This team doesn't know when it's beat and tonight is the first time I seriously believe that I was watching a team capable of winning it all, I really do.

Good morning and good night.

Edit: My detailed thoughts can now be read here.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

So what next?

The Yankees have taken the first three out of this rare five game set and whatever happens will leave Beantown with a bigger lead in the division than they did when they arrived late on Thursday night. Three high scoring games, which can in part be laid at the feet of the great patience shown by the Yankees hitters getting starters out early and getting into the battered and beleaguered bullpen earlier than the Sox could with ours, however the one major difference was despite giving up runs, our 'pen decided or in better words, were capable of throwing the ball over the plate.

Yesterday afternoon Randy Johnson really sucked it up and battled his way to a W. He didn't have his best stuff but for the first time since he's been in the Bronx, he battled and he seemed to know he wasn't pitching for himself, for personal glory, he was pitching for the Yankees and he knew the pen needed a rest, so he kept going back out there and gutting it out for the club and for his manager. Five runs through seven innings doesn't sound great, but yesterday it was.

Also we all knew last season about the much-hyped frostiness between Randy and JoPo but that has gone. Yesterday we saw them during the Yankee half of the 7th standing standing towards the top step of the dugout chatting away both with smiles on their faces and nodding away, not saying they are best of friends now but their relationship has at least evolved to a professional level, possibly even beyond, Posada's better defence I suspect is a part of that along with Randy understanding that he isn't that dominating front line starter that he once was.

Nearly everyone can take some credit for our performance, Scott Proctor gets a big tick against his name from me, coming out of the pen in the night game on Friday and shutting down the Sox was just sensational, it really was, he has become a massive part of this ball club. Clearly Johnny Damon, Robbie Cano and Bobby Abreu have been fantastic but I'm going to quietly speak up for Joe Torre. The manager gets ripped for his management but on Friday night he had two bullets on the bench, Jason Giambi and Jorge Posada and he decided that the seventh was the inning to use them, and they helped spark that big rally, the seven run seventh inning. Good job Joe.

Tonight it is Schilling v Moose and tomorrow Lidle will face Boomer. Tonight it is a genuine marquee pitching match up live on ESPN. Moose started off great and whilst he has cooled off he is still a fine pitcher. Schilling is Schilling, what he knows though is he has to go seven tonight at least and hand the ball straight off to Papelbon, if he fails to do this then I think the Bombers can win again. Tomorrow is a bit like Friday night, a bit of a crabshoot, got no idea how it'll go.

Still, whatever happens, the Yankees will of taken a step towards the post season, how big of a step we're not sure yet, but it could be bigger than anyone could've imagined...

A hack getting his hacks

Red Sox land is not a happy place this morning, but this man is despicable.

His effort in today's Globe is appalling writing:
  • "The sun no longer shines on the handsome head of young Theo (wonder if he's signed his much-celebrated contract yet). The computer-geek management style has been thoroughly exposed in the last two days"
So now, 4 years into the reign of Theo, we are back with the "young" quips - despite the fact that there are now other, younger, GM's in the game, CHB falls back on young as an insult - Dan, you are an old man, get over it.

I do love the use of irony though - telling an advocate of a sabermetric approach to management that his style has been discredited in two days... I mean you were being ironic, right Dan... sample size... two days proves a style of management is exposed?

And really Dan, 4 years later, you still don't understand that the Sox are more than just stats, or was it that that was just the cheapest, easiest shot you could take?
  • "he might need it to hide from an angry Nation of paying customers who want to know why nothing was done at the trade deadline"
See here is the thing, all right thinking Sox fans know why nothing was done - the right deal couldn't get done at the right price. Does that mean that right thinking Sox fans think that getting nothing done helped the team - no Dan, but we are able to make a distinction.

Of course what the Sox should have done was trade Lester, Hansen and Delcarmen for Jeff Suppan level replacement pitchers, and at least when the Yankees were whaling on them this weekend, they couldn't be accused of doing nothing...

The thing is, if they had done that type of stupid deal, Dan would be writing a story about how the Sox had stupidly mortgaged the future for a bunch of useless arms, but that is the joy of being a journalist at times, power without responsibility.
  • "young Theo, who was unavailable after yesterday's carnage, is getting his lunch fed to him by one Brian Cashman as the Sox threaten to suck all the wind out of what's left of summer."
Again with the young insult.
  • is anybody rethinking that Johnny Damon decision now?
This is part of a theme that really gets to me - the idea that Sox management don't know that losing Damon was likely to hurt them this year, and most likely next as well. Same arguement with Pedro last year - man his loss really killed us, and look at what the replacements have done... Clement... headcase... Beckett... headcase... Wells... fat headcase...

Except, we all knew this might hurt us, and the moves were in part made to stop Dan writing in 2007 and 2008 headlines along the lines that "keeping the pieces of the 2004 WS team together was a dumb move - the young computer geek has been proven to be a sentimental idiot... wonder if he has signed that celebrity contract yet?"

Unlike you Dan, Sox management are held to account for their output, and they will be held to account in 2008, as they are being in 2006.
  • Too-good-to-be-traded Manny Delcarmen coughed it up in relief again yesterday and was part of 11 straight balls and two bases-loaded walks in a five-run Yankee sixth.
You see, he is 24 (why is young not used as an insult here) and really despite never having pitched at this level he should be able to deal with the best lineup in the majors with no hiccups... and dammit now he has tripped, we should really trade him... where is Jeff Suppan these days?
  • The cruise is over and so is the free ride for Theo. No disgrace in that
So if there is no disgrace Dan, what the hell is this article about... using the young insult three times in the article... calling him a geek... talking about hiding from an angry nation...

Man, if anything was designed to get me back on the "sinking" ship, it is garbage like this that is aimed at the absolute worst type of fan, the fan that thinks he is entitled to something, that these types of performances are a personal slight... if that is your audience Dan, you are doing a great job.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A new Boston massacre

This is just pitiful - I may be making a blogging descent into madness watching this team try the patience of Sox fans everywhere. To his credit, Neil M is proving a true gentleman throughout - but perhaps that is because gloating would seem too easy when men play boys, and your reserve CF takes three different routes to get to a ball that, had he caught, may have meant we were still in the game.

In baseball, there can be nothing, nothing... worse than watching a pitching staff that simply cannot find the strike zone.

I appreciate that we are looking at a fantastic line-up that seems to have patience coded into their DNA, but this is just appalling. Josh Beckett hangs around long enough to walk a career high, and needless to say AL season high, nine men... seriously, 9 men in just 5 2/3 innings... 17 outs, 9 walks... ... ...

So after the 9th walk, we go to the pen, with the bases loaded, and our relief pitcher delivers 4 pitches so far divorced from the strike zone, that Cano couldn't have begun to think about taking his bat off his shoulder...

And then... as I am screaming at the TV to get Delcarmen to throw any ball over the zone, he does, and it is an out at the CF wall, except our CF isnt playing, our 4th OF is playing center, and his route to the ball is as ugly as anything you will ever see in Fenway as he drifted back and left, before working out that he should be going "other" left and sticking his glove in the air as if it might help...

Ugly, ugly, ugly.


I guess the answer is to come up with men on, and less than two outs!


Our manager thinks that Javy Lopez should bat 5th behind Manny, ahead of Pena...

We are in the bottom of the 3rd, Manny saw one called (bat on his shoulder, taking all the way) strike in his first at bat. Unless he comes up with men on, and fewer than 2 outs, how is he ever going to see a pitch today?

The Game 2 Ugliness

Well that was just grim - game 1 went pretty much as expected, with Johnson DFA'd after the game to allow us to remove Foulke from the DL.

Game 2 however... the longest 9 inning game in AL history, and one of the ugliest in recent Sox history.

I don't have many doubts that Jon Lester can be a strong member of our rotation for years to come, but games like this, at this time of year, aren't where he should be learning to pitch. I don't have many doubts that Craig Hansen can be a very valuable member of our bullpen in years to come - but like Lester, he is learning to pitch at the wrong time, in the wrong place. But the Sox needed them to pitch better than they did yesterday, and sadly... the Rolling Stones weren't right, you don't always get what you want, or what you need!

But there are two people that I do have significant doubts about, magnified by yesterday's performances - Timlin and Francona.

As pointed out at Feeding the Monster, it wasn't Timlin's fault, it was <insert any hitters name here>. Mike, they may not have been firing on all cylinders recently, but if 11 runs aren't enough for you... you need to start being a relief pitcher for the Celtics. Timlins' problem with inherited runners was very evident last year, and I am not sure what evidence Tito has seen this year that has changed this viewpoint, but to bring Timlin in, in that scenario is inviting him to fail... and apparently he decided that he would very much like to accept that invitation!

And Tito... it is our dear manager that keeps issuing these invitations to fail, his inability to recognize the best places for our reliever's to succeed, his inability to recognize when a pitcher is at his limit... and frankly, watching him sit in the dug-out at the moment, he just looks beat. Whether he doesn't think he has the cards to win, or just doesn't recognize the situation that is staring him in the face... who knows, but he certainly doesn't inspire much confidence at the moment.

And so Game 3, in which Beckett has to carry as much weight as has ever been asked of him by the Sox - frankly he needs to carry the ball a long way - but equally Timlin is right, to get us back in this series, the bats do need to be patient with RJ - they have shown they can be patient with him, but today they need to stay that way til they get him out of the game.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lowell Error sparks Yankee victory

Neil H informs me that I concentrate too much on the Sox during these Yankees/Sox games, he may be right. Whilst the Yankees were good today it was Mike Lowell's error in the 7th on a dropped catch off the bat of Derek Jeter that started the wheels in motion. The Bombers would go on to plate four more runs in that inning and essentially win the game giving first blood in this long battle to the Yankees.

This is a bit like Sly Stallone's, The Contender, there are five rounds, two prize fighters and the first round hasn't delivered a knock-out blow. So a solid 10-9 round to the Yankees, good hitters, great patience at the plate, that was a real tick for me, and a solid outing by Wang allowing him to record his 14th win of the season.

Other good points included Mariano Rivera and Kyle Farnsworth sitting with their feet up all night. Scott Proctor came in and did a solid job and Myers got his man Ortiz. TJ Beam pitched the 9th which means that we have a handful of fresh arms for tonight's game. If Ponson came give us six then we should be delighted, however that is a pipe-dream I fear.

So a good start for the Yankees, we'll be back again to play again in just over two hours time.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Detroit Tigers - part 2 of 2

Well that effort tonight makes it a good time to write about the pitching of the Tigers - a very strong outing by Bonderman, followed by another 1-2-3 by Jones as the Sox lose another series, almost simultaneously with the Yankees moving ahead of the Orioles in the Bronx.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Tigers offense is above average, but not enough above average to make them owners of the best record in baseball.

So on to the pitching staff -

League Rank



























Some nice #1 rankings there, and a clear part of the Tiger story. And the starters individual numbers clearly are the building blocks -









































Rogers aside, the Tigers rotation is having a career year - and I can say that without doubt for Miner! However, it is not just the starters, the bullpen has also been very strong -

League Rank















So the moral of the story... an average offence with a well above average pitching staff = sure fire run to the play-offs and a decent chance at progressing from the AL... and 2 out of 2 so far from the Sox in Fenway.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Great baseball moves of our times

So we trust Seanez enough that his game log looks like this - but having gotten an inning out of him, our peerless manager leaves him in...

ok, our bullpen is tired, I can understand wanting to rub the magic lamp one more time...

but groundout... walk... single... walk... anyone else want to vote for a new arm at this stage?

oh well, apparently we are carrying 13 pitchers so they all have someone to speak to out there in the bullpen...

Detroit Tigers - part 1 of 2

Clearly I am not the first to wonder just how the Tigers have managed to transform themselves from a team that was a joke as they celebrated not taking the all time loss record in 2003, to the team on pace for 100+ wins in 2006.

A detailed year by year analysis of how the Tigers have improved can be found over at Baseball Prospectus (subcription required) - with a hat tip to The House That Dewey Built. However, what did we all miss - all the things that the Tigers have done were in place pre-season - why break out in this fashion, this year?

I will look at the pitching tomorrow - that is probably the bit that people had 'predicted' - the joy of being as bad as the Tigers for as long as the Tigers is that you get a lot of early draft picks, and the organization was lauded for picking up good young arms, even if it was felt that all that "learning in the majors" was a painful experience to watch.

How has the hitting fared this year?

League Rank



































As you can see the Tigers are above average in BA and SLG and in scoring runs, but they are not the most patient lineup - a point made by Buster Olney this morning - again you need a subscription to read. So as a team the Tigers are doing ok on the hitting side, not close to the Sox, which suggets there is more in this story on the pitching and/or fielding front.

Are there many Tigers hitters delivering more than we could / should have expected?







































Well, Carlos Guillen aside, none of that lineup is having a career year - but what does stand out, is how close to career averages every single member (Young excepted, but it hasn't quite been a normal year for him to date) of the team is performing. Yes a number of them are below career level, but some of that will be attributable to the Comerica effect.

So nothing particularly standout there - but between starting this post, and reaching this (in)conclusion, the Tigers have put 5 runs up against the Sox in the first 3 innings - they are doing something right!

Monday, August 14, 2006

A nice few days, and quite a week ahead

Well today was as beautiful a day as I have ever spent at a ballpark - 77 degrees at game time, though it felt warmer than that sitting in the top deck at Yankee Stadium.

Despite my Red Sox affiliation, Yankee Stadium is just too close by not to go to as often as possible, to the extent that I have a 1/6th share in a Yankees season ticket - I am on the Red Sox waiting list for a full season ticket, but after the "lovely" letter that I got from the Sox last week, I have decided to stop holding my breath...

When I go to the Stadium, I am never there to root for the Yankees, just to enjoy the game - and if the away team happen to win while I am there... well it makes the journey home all the better. So today's victory for the Angels under stunning blue skies was pretty much perfect - from my buddies call of the 5-4-3 A-Rod DP two batters ahead of A-Rod getting to the plate, to my call of his stat-padding HR to left in the bottom of the 9th the moment... all good!

But I got home in time to switch on the Red Sox and see Francona head out to the mound to call in Papelbon with an 11-7 lead, the day after Papelbon pitched 2 innings for the win... it seemed like an early call to me, the hits that Hansen had given up in the 9th to reach that situation weren't exactly hard hits, but I didn't realize that Papelbon had only thrown 24 pitches on Saturday (thanks to the Fox national blackout) - so ok, and things would have been ok if Cora had turned the relatively straightforward DP chance that was presented to him, but he didn't, a run scored, and more anxiety for a nervous Nation still fidgety from the 1-5 road trip. When the game eventually finished, following another nice play by our 3rd baseman (and genuinely, how did #13 not get awarded another E for his first inning play) the Sox stand just 1 game back.

This time last week I blogged that a lot of Sox fans were particularly nervous after a poor week, and despite an even poorer start to this week, our 3-3 run actually enabled us to pick up a game on the Yankees - although we should be (very) careful not to ignore strength of schedule in making that call.

The week ahead, finishing with a long 5 game set against the New York 9, has the ability to be momentum setting for the rest of the season - the Sox have 3 against the suddenly reeling Tigers (0-5 over the last 5 days), while the Yankees have 1 more against the Angels, and a 3 game set against the Orioles before the wrap-around weekend series. I really am interested to see how the Tigers play the next 3 days - we are either playing them at the best, or worst, of times.

The Sox took 2 of 3 in Detroit, the Yankees should have swept them in Comerica, and truthfully, my baseball brain struggles to comprehend how a team that finished 20 games under .500 just last year, and looked to improve themselves by adding Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones, can be on pace to win 105 games this year, despite that 0-5 run. Needless to say, that baseball brain of mine struggles to believe that the 34 game improvement we are facing can be explained by the two words that most people turn to... Jim Leyland... Clearly Leyland has a part to play, as do Rogers and Jones, but I guess the largest part of the improvement is attributable to the continued improvement of the young arms in the Tiger rotation and pen. I hope to blog about the changes in this team over the course of the next 3 days to see if this is another case of false perception v reality.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Brooms in Missouri

Swept by the Royals... is it really just over a year ago that we were making fun of the pinstriped 9 for their 3 losses in Kansas City, MO? (and as an early aside, did anyone living outside of Missouri know that the Southwest MO region is "America's new live entertainment capital"?)

Let's look at a little objective evidence from the AL as we scream at Theo for not getting pitching help at the trading deadline..

Date: 08/08
Teams Scoring 4 runs (or less): 6
Teams scoring 4 runs (or less) who won: 1

Date 08/09
Teams Scoring 4 runs (or less): 10
Teams scoring 4 runs (or less) who won: 4

Date 08/09
Teams Scoring 4 runs (or less): 4 (but potentially 5)
Teams scoring 4 runs (or less) who won: 0

So teams that score 4 runs or less, have a .250 winning percentage*... or roughly the winning percentage of the Kansas City Royals!

I have to admit a little negative thought entered my brain when I was thinking about this game. I thought that Curt, fresh from his "we each have to step up in the breach" speech, which was only missing references to beaches, streets and fields for the full effect, might stay in the game just a little too long to prove he was the guy for the job...

and guess what... he did, but it still comes back to the fact - we have to score more than 4 runs a game against a team that has allowed 40 more runs this season than any other team in baseball, which translates to a team ERA 43 points higher than the frightning rotation of the Baltimore staff...

nothing about that last paragraph makes nice reading...

So we head back to Fenway with tails firmly between legs, but the last AL East team that was swept in KC^ went on to win (cough, cough) the AL East last year - let's all hope for a repeat!


* If my Econometrics professor is reading this, I apologize, I am trying to make a point, I will write out 100 lines about faulty methodologies...

^ And if anyone reading this thinks that I actually checked to make sure that none of the other AL East teams had been swept in KC since the Yankees last year...


I will not abuse my Wilcoxon Matched Pairs Signed Ranks Test...
I will not abuse my Wilcoxon Matched Pairs Signed Ranks Test...
I will not abuse my Wilcoxon Matched Pairs Signed Ranks Test...
I will not abuse my Wilcoxon Matched Pairs Signed Ranks Test...
I will not abuse my Wilcoxon Matched Pairs Signed Ranks Test...

oh come on, give me a break, the Sox just got swept, I abused a statistical test for comedy purposes... I know it isn't relevant...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Life without the internet or Sky television...

...is Hell.

So I have moved house and the internet and Sky TV weren't here waiting for me, wasn't overly amused. The Sky man came on Friday but said he couldn't install a dish as there were trees in the way and I needed a special roof top dish to get a signal. So another company was called and as of today, I now have Sky back with all its NASN watching capabilities. However it doesn't end there, I have Sky in my room and not just Sky, Sky with a remote TV link so I can change the channel from up here. Bonsa.

As for the internet, the engineer was meant to install it today but isn't coming, so after nearly a week of no net I was getting a tad peed off, so I went out a bought myself some microfilters and set up my old broadband and it is working (for how long, I'm not sure) So your NYY blogger is back, and before reading his 602 e-mails he watched four condensed games, and the Yankees won three of them, my brief thoughts are as follows:

Cory Lidle was very impressive, got a lot of ground balls, did much better than advertised.

Randy Johnson's slider was flat, lucky to pull out a win there.

Mike Mussina looked poor early doors struggling with the strikezone and leaving balls up in the zone, unluckily Adam Lowren was just filthy and that game was gone.

Jaret Wright was great again, he went 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA over the past week, I'll take that.

Giambi looks like he's heating up again now there isn't so much pressure on him. He can carry a line-up so to have him start stinging the ball again is great.

Big 9th inning HR by Jorge on Friday to break the tie, I love that kid.

All is all, a bad week to of missed, but a great week for Yankee fans.

I look forward to seeing you tonight other Neil, it has been a while!

Holding out for at leat another week

Well I was just about to do a post that was broadly sympathetic to the themes expressed here and here when a Yankee fan (you know who you are) got me all upset... which leads to this post...

This hasn't been a great week for the Sox - a split series with the Indians who, despite being a strong pick for the AL Central in the pre-season, are a terrible team that everyone know's the Sox should sweep... and then a series loss to the Rays, who everyone knows that great teams either sweep or go home...

Well an exaggeration on both counts, but when combined with a trade deadline where the Sox did absolutely nothing, as the Yankees made two good pick-ups, has created a media momentum shift in favor of the Yankees, that makes these results harder to take... despte having a record that is 8 games worse than the Tigers, and continued question marks on a rotation that will need a miracle to succeed deep in the post season, ESPN rushed to annoint the Yankees the #1 team in baseball.

But there have been positives this last week - Ortiz and Manny continue to re-write Red Sox record books, Wells and Johnson continue to exhibut signs that they can contribute in the next couple of months... in the same way that there have been negatives - injuries to (apparently) every catcher in the Red Sox system, to Nixon and to Lowell, combined with the type of bump in the road that we should have all expected for Hansen and Delcarmen at some point - if those two get over the hump we are still fine, if they don't...

This week the Red Sox have 3 at the Royals, 3 at home to the Orioles while the Yankees travel to Chicago for 3, then 3 at home with the Angels... - if the Yankees increase their Division lead by going 6-0 that is one thing, if they increase that lead going 3-3 that is something else, but this is (for me anyway) a week to early to start worrying to greatly about the season ahead for the Sox.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The deadline day deal that never was - The Rocket

Roger Clemens must be my favourite subject, I seem to find any legitimate excuse to write about him, but one day after the non-waiver deadline passed, the man with 343 career wins is the lead story over at ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark is reporting that the Astros owner should've allowed the Rocket to move to Boston and join the Red Sox. He says in the article that both clubs even discussed possible players that could be moved is a potential deal, but nothing came about, and Roger would never clear waivers so he's stuck in Houston for the rest of the season.

Now personally I am glad that he won't be suiting up in Red Sox as he is my favourite player, so seeing him suit up for our arch-rivals would be galling to say the least. The Cubs moved Maddux believing that he deserved another shot at post season glory and it would've been nice to see the Astros do the same, but on the other hand, in Houston he can't hurt the Yanks until the last week in October, if at all.

Apparently Clemens to the Red Sox was close, I do wonder how close the Yankees got to bringing him back to the Bronx, I'm sure if he was available then Cashman would've been working those phones. In the end though the Red Sox stood still, but they nearly got arguably the biggest fish that wasn't even on the market...

Drinking from the well - and a Red Sox trade deadline comment

How many pitches did I see from tonight's game - one, just one... timing is everything!

There are really only so many times...

I think someone said it here... 5 walk off hits this season, 12 in his Red Sox career, 2 in the last three days... unbelievable! For tonight though, look at Mike Lowell's face when he watches Ortiz's hit from the dugout.



Only joking - I think (as I said leading up to today) the Sox could have used a rotation upgrade, I think they could have done some addition by subtraction in the bullpen (either Tavarez or Seanez), but if the price was Hansen and Lester as widely speculated today, you have to say that the team made the right move.

Having just finished Seth Mnookin's Feeding the Monster which highlighted the friction between Larry L and Theo E over the veteran / prospect debate, I also think that today's non-moves are absolute proof that Theo is solely in charge of the baseball operations side of the Red Sox - the price that he wanted to return as GM.