Sunday, May 19, 2013

Red Sox 27-17 May 19, 2013

Been gone for a long time.  The job, and getting a lot of reading and writing done.  But I've been watching (or listening to) most of the games.  Missed maybe 3 or 4 all year so far, maybe.  Here's what's been going through my head about the Sox, and about baseball in general, lately:

--The new one-game Wild Card playoff format is unbelievably bad, I've realized, and here's why.  Imagine you're the Red Sox, for example, and you win the Wild Card over the next team, the Tigers, by, let's say, five games, which is a lot for a Wild Card lead.  Anyway, since the top-2 Wild Card teams play in the one-game playoff, the Sox, who won by five games, play the Tigers.  The Tigers, of course, pitch Justin Verlander, possibly the one best pitcher in the majors.  He strikes out 12 and wins a complete game shutout, and the Sox are out of the playoffs.  Is that fair?  The format exists this year not to make it more interesting for the top two teams, but to make it more interesting for the middle-level teams, three or four of which will finish between one to three games away from the second spot.  Soon it'll be like hockey or basketball, where almost every team is in, or close to, the playoffs.  This is better for the owners, of course, but not for the game itself.

--Pedro Ciriaco isn't doing it for me this year.  After today's game, he's committed six errors in extremely limited playing time, and is hitting below the Mendoza line.  This is a far cry from last year, when he hit (it seems) about .300 and played great defense.  Right now, he's a glorified pinch-runner.  What happened?

--John Lackey is 2-4 with a 3.30 ERA.  And he's slim.  And he's not complaining.  Finally.  Not bad for $15.25 million per year for the past three years, including this one.

--Speaking of money, David Ortiz has made over $112 million (mostly for the Sox) over his career to, essentially, swing a bat.  And for the Sox, and even for Boston itself, he's been worth every cent--if anyone can be worth that much to swing a bat and to represent sport in a major city.

--Lester and Buchholz are finally pitching like they should--at the same time.

--Hanrahan never did it for me, anyway.  But Bailey can't spend any more time on the DL, especially when you consider last year.  If he does any more, you can't consider him a good signing.

--Uehara is amusing.

--I've probably said it before, but I'll do so again: Minnesota should not have an open-air stadium.  Target Field looks beautiful (and its ground crew is run by the guy who used to do Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium for many years), especially with the tan limestone and cityscape in the distance, but it's a mistake for the Twins to have an open-air stadium.  And without a great team, the novelty of it will wear off, fast.

--Ellsbury has been in a long, very quiet, slump.  (Napoli has, too, but not for as long.)  Currently he's hitting about .250, with an on-base percentage around .300.  That's bad in general, but it's catastrophic for a lead-off hitter.  How about Victorino there, and Ellsbury 2nd, or whatever, to let him get himself on track again?  Bradley may not be the answer next year, but I'm not sure Ellsbury is, either.  I have his autograph, so I want to be wrong, but he's got a lot to prove, since he's a free agent at the end of this year.  If the year ended now, I wouldn't resign him, no matter how much Sox gear he sells for the ladies.  (Yes, the management would take it into consideration when considering his free agency.)

--Pedroia's having a great year.  He's a great hitter almost anywhere in the lineup.  He could hit productively, with a high average and on-base percentage, between the first and the fifth spots in the lineup.  When batting cleanup, which he has the last few years when Ortiz was out, he drove in a lot of runs, too.  An amazing hitter who should have a long and productive decline phase, which shouldn't start for quite awhile yet.

--Saw Cecil Fielder on Tim McCarver's show for a short time, so I looked him up on, which I use to look up all players' stats, and the salaries mentioned above.  Anyway, he ate himself out of the major leagues.  His last game was at age 34.  The site mentioned above kindly listed his weight at 230 pounds, which is way off, I assure you.  Even now, he takes up the entire lens of the camera.

--Who're the only two American League batters to lead the league in RBIs for three consecutive years?  Answer: Babe Ruth--and Cecil Fielder.

--Speaking of whom...His son, Prince Fielder, will be making $23 million per year, every year, for the Detroit Tigers, until the year 2020.  By that time, he would've made over $225 million playing baseball.  Prince Fielder is hitting below the Mendoza line in his playoff games.  His playoff batting stats are, to be kind, abysmal.  A-Rod has been much better in the playoffs, despite his reputation otherwise.  Ewwwww......

--Tim McCarver is a terrible broadcaster, by the way.  His enshrinement was a joke.

--Daniel Nava is quietly hitting close to .300, with close to a .400 on-base percentage and close to a .500 slugging percentage.  Unbelievable!  Happy for the guy who hit a grand slam on the first pitch he ever saw in the majors--and hadn't done much since.  He was bought from an independent league team for $1.  Literally.

--To show the opposite, Julio Iglesias, who was hitting about .360 and playing Gold Glove defense for Boston when he was sent down to Pawtucket when Stephen Drew came off the DL, was benched for three games recently by the Pawsox manager due to his bad attitude.  His benching started in about the seventh inning of a game I attended.  He was his typical magician self in the field, but he wasn't running out ground balls, and he must've said the wrong thing at the wrong time to the manager.  This won't get him brought back up anytime soon.  He deserved the chance for his defense alone, but his attitude won't help hide how offensive he can be, if you catch what I'm sayin'.  But he has a major league career, even if he bats ninth for bad teams his whole career, just for his defense alone.  He'll give his teams a few wins a year just with his glove.

--Saw a Twins outfielder make a homerun out of a double for Pedroia when he went after a fly ball, and it bounced off of the heel of his glove and over the outfield wall.  (This should really be a 4-base error, rather than a homerun, but I don't know if the rules allow for such a thing.)  Anyway, I haven't seen that happen since Jose Canseco infamously let a fly ball bounce off his head and over the wall.

--A friend of mine imitates how Jenny Dell seems to point with her chest.  I mentioned that Dell does it better, which didn't help matters.  Jenny Dell seems to be having fun with a thankless job.  And she's definitely grown on me, since I said in the beginning of the year that she's no Heidi Watney.