Sunday, April 3, 2011

Game 2--Beltre, Rangers 12 Sox 5, and More

--Still no time to panic, though you are allowed to feel a strong sense of unease.  I do.

--To state the obvious, the pitching looks to be a bit of a problem right now.  I'm more concerned about the relief pitching than the starting pitching, though you would think Lackey wouldn't leave a pitch middle in to a right handed hitter, especially one of Beltre's caliber.

--If you leave the ball up, the Rangers hitters will hit it.  Hard.  Everyone, of almost any caliber or type of pitcher, needs to keep the ball either down or away from them.  Even their 8th and 9th hitters look good.

--The worry with the starting pitching is that we haven't gotten to Beckett and Dice-K yet, who we expect to do badly.  So if the others do as well...

--It's early, but a win today is strongly needed.  You don't want to be swept during the first series of the season.

--A little perspective: The Rays lost 2 straight to the Orioles.  The Orioles are not better than the Rays, I assure you.

--Ortiz hit another homer, good for him.  Then again, so did Ian Kinsler...and Ellsbury looks good at the plate, too.  In fact, the whole Sox offense looks good, except for Crawford, who really looks like he's pressing.  I was guessing at that yesterday, but a golf-swing and miss on a pitch low and away yesterday proved it.

--The Cleveland pitching staff looks helpless.  This against the Chicago White Sox, who don't have a thunderous lineup.

--I won't look at the standings until the Sox win one.

--Lou Gorman was apparently a really nice guy.  That's always said when someone dies, but it's been the overwhelming thing that everyone's been saying about him, even before his 30 years or so in the business.  He was the GM when I first started watching baseball, in 1984, and I remember that during interview spots he would always talk very slowly, very muffled, and that he cared more about the players themselves than is usual for GMs, then or now.  He was the exact polar opposite of Dan Duquette.  I have a very vague memory of maybe talking to him--or at least he was in the same room with me--when I was at McCoy when very young.  This is back when Mike Stenhouse was involved with the team and he gave my Dad tickets, or maybe just AMICA in general.

--Dunkin' Donuts doesn't sponsor Sox games anymore?  No more Dugout?  I saw a Honey Dew commercial on NESN and I almost fell over.

--The Sox pitching coach will be earning his money starting right now.

--I want to see Varitek behind the plate today.  Let's see if he can bring the staff ERA down.  If he is in, and if Bucholz has a good game, I want to see him in there the next day, too.  Even if Salty has a batting average a 100 points higher than Varitek's, it won't be worth it if Varitek calls a superior game and takes hits and runs off the board doing so.  I believe this can happen, and that it has happened.  With the Sox lineup the way it is, they can afford a great game-caller with a weak batting average hitting ninth.

--Castig has gotten even more nasal, if that's possible.

--By the way, why's Lackey the Number 2 over Bucholz?  At this point, Lackey and Beckett are capable of each winning 20, but are presently lumbering innings-eaters.  Let's have the younger guys who've been pitching much better and winning more consistently at the top of the rotation, okay?

--If you have 3 doubles, 2 triples and 2 homers (one a grand slam) hit off you in 3 2/3 innings, now that's a bad day.

--Someone needs to keep the cameras off of pitchers during obvious f-word moments, such as Lackey's yesterday right after Beltre's slam.  They're obviously putting the lens on these guys at those moments so that we, the viewers, can see them mouthing the f-word.

--Completely unnecessary, by the way, as we are saying the same thing at the time ourselves.

--The guys next to me were very vocal against Francona, as if they expected him to pull his starting pitcher, who is getting paid about $12 million this year to win and eat innings, in the fourth inning of the second game of the year.  There's 160 of these left, guys.  Take it easy.

--I see now why sports pros from across the country say that Sox fans are unique in their rabidity for the team.  Every game really is life or death for many of these guys.  These guys yesterday were an example, confusing the second game of the year for an ALCS or World Series game.

--By the way, kudos to my better half, who sat through five innings of a game, at a local restaurant/bar, surrounded by these guys, watching her second game in a row--while not appearing tortured.  Though she still calls "uniforms" "outfits."  I tried to explain that ballplayers wear uniforms and tennis players wear outfits, but she was not deterred.

--She said that she was now a Rangers fan because they at least make things happen.  And said that all teams should use just one pitcher every day.  I took that opportunity to speak about the 1880s Providence Greys, and Old Hoss Radbourne, and how teams then did just have one pitcher, who would often win 40-60 games a season while tossing 400 to 600 innings.  Luckily she was on her second Mojito at the time and so was able to make it through my explanation without her eyes glazing over.  (I did have to explain who Nomar was.)

--Beltre 1, Sox 0 for those keeping track.

--Speaking of Beltre, I didn't know that he'd been offered a one-year, $10 million contract by the Sox last year.  Instead he signed a guaranteed 5 year, $80 million contract with the Rangers.  That's an average of $16 million a year, each year for five years, for those bad at math.  I'd turn down the Sox offer for that, wouldn't you?  Sox fans vilified him, as they had Damon when he left for much more money than the Sox offered.

--As part of that contract, Beltre makes $14 million this year, and one million more each year until 2016, when he drops back down to $16 million a year.  Included also is the stipulation that the Rangers can defer $12 million of the 2016 contract at 1% interest.  Oh, and it's in his contract that he gets uniform #29. 

--Remember that this guy was in the slush pile after 5 very bad years in Seattle, on an exorbitant contract that he landed after his one--and, at that time, only--great season with the Dodgers.  His stats that year, especially the 49 homers, are dubious when compared to those 5 terrible seasons, a drop-off that he has never fully explained.  Then one more great year, this time in Boston, and he uses that one good year again to garner an exorbitant long-term contract.  I hope he does well this year, or else this would form a very questionable pattern of behavior, if you know what I'm sayin'.

--And speaking of money, Cliff Lee said No to the Rangers this past offseason when they offered him a 6-year/$138 million contract so he could return to the Phillies.  That's an average of $23 million per year.  And he said No.  Tough to fathom, isn't it?

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