January 27, 2010

Howard Zinn (1922-2010)

A great American died this evening.
[Civil disobedience] is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government ... Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem.

Wakefield Feels Great, But Rotation Spot Not Guaranteed

Tim Wakefield says he is fully healed from back surgery and he believes he can be a full-time starter.
Last year I was on my way to pitching 200 innings [108.2 at the ASB] and then due to circumstances beyond my control -- I didn't hurt my shoulder, I didn't hurt myself pitching, I hurt my back swinging in interleague -- it didn't happen. ... I think I've earned the right to be a full-time starter and go from there.
Even if Wakefield is healthy, there are still five other possible starters -- Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey, and Clay Buchholz.

Jeremy Hermida avoided arbitration by agreeing yesterday to a $3.345 million contract for 2010. ... You have probably already heard about this, but Ian Browne has some inside information on the Jason Bay contract talks -- and disputes about the health of Bay's shoulder and knees.

The ProJo's Joe McDonald has a feature on outfield prospect Ryan Westmoreland. Gary DiSarcina managed Westmoreland in Lowell (A):
He has zero fear hitting with two strikes on him. ... He's very mature in the field [and] you don't have to tell him things twice. He retains information very well, and he makes adjustments, which is very rare for kids his age.

January 21, 2010

Posnanski

If you click here (or here), you can read Joe Posnanski* on Carlton Fisk's recent comments on steroids and how things are far more complicated than most people want them to be.

* A lot of people think Pos is the best thing that has happened to the sportswriting biz in a long, long time. Maybe they are right, but their opinions seem a bit over the top**. Don't get me wrong, I think he's great, both in quality and quantity. His progressive ideas, deep understanding of history, and willingness to truly think, both before he writes and right there on the page/screen, set him miles apart from his contemporaries. Like Bill James, he is far more interested in having a conversation than telling you "this is how it is". Yet reading his blog, I always feel like he should have gone through the post one more time, tightened it up, fixed the typos, etc.***.

** Has anyone read his book on the Big Red Machine? More people have probably read his Buck O'Neil book. I really liked the BRM excerpt in SI and will probably buy the paperback.

*** But when I read his stuff, it makes me want to write. After I read his Christmas story, besides thinking, damn, that was great, I felt like writing my own I-delivered-newspapers-as-a-kid post****. I didn't do it -- but I did think about it, and I remembered one evening while collecting payment, one guy, somehow my last name came up, and he asked me if I was related to Merle Wood and I said yes (this was in a senior housing complex, so he was likely asking about my father's father, though my father also had the same first name) and this guy got really angry and told me (I wish I could remember the exact quote) how he *hated* him. This guy wasn't the most pleasant guy anyway, but he said it with real disgust. And even now, 30 years later, I wonder what was behind that comment.*****

**** And maybe that is the best compliment I can give about Posnanski's writing, or anyone's writing, for that matter. He makes me think -- and he makes me want to write.

***** Guy's name was Howard Dudley. Whitcomb Woods, Essex Junction, Vermont. Any relatives out there? :>)

January 19, 2010

Will Theo Go To Arbitration?

Deals:
Papelbon: $9.35 million; with incentives, could be $9.5
Delcarmen: $905,000; + $15,000 with 65 appearances
Ramirez: $1.1175 million (approximately)
Hermida: ?
Example
Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez, and Jeremy Hermida filed for arbitration on last Friday. If the Red Sox do not come to an agreement with any of the players today, the two sides will then exchange salary figures. Any hearings will take place between February 1-21. Theo Epstein has never gone to arbitration (this is his 7th off-season).

Peter Gammons reports that the Red Sox had agreed on a 4/60 deal with Jason Bay last July, but after an MRI showed problems with both of his knees, the team dropped that offer to two years.

ESPN and SI are reporting that Felix Hernandez has agreed to a 5/80 deal with the Mariners. Damn. I guess Theo won't be trading for him now.

Jose Offerman was banned for life from the Dominican Winter League for punching first base umpire Daniel Rayburn last Saturday. It's unclear from the video if Rayburn was actually hit, though he did fall to the ground as if he had been shot. ... Which reminded me of this classic Izzy Alcantara clip where he kicks the catcher in the head before charging the mound.

January 14, 2010

Sox Avoid Arb With Okajima

Hideki Okajima agreed to a one-year, $2.75 million contract, avoiding arbitration. It's a $1 million raise over his 2009 base salary. Jeemer will also be eligible for bonuses of $50,000 each for 55, 60, 65, and 70 appearances.

The team also signed 41-year-old LHP Brian Shouse to a minor league deal. Shouse pitched for the Red Sox back in 1998. (Oddly, the first three seasons of Shouse's major league career were 1993, 1998, and 2002.)

January 13, 2010

Holier Than Thou

So Mark McGwire made some comments yesterday about his steroid use. I don't give a shit what he said, but I did like this, though, from SoSHer maufman:
What's next? Will Snoop Dogg admit he smoked pot in the '90s?
I wanted to point out two posts by John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters. He rightly calls out the sports media for its pompous, holier-than-thou attitudes, its ignorant and infantile criticisms, and its ever-changing benchmarks of what constitutes appropriate honesty and contrition.

January 12, 2010

New Computer

My Dell XPS 8000 arrived this afternoon.

Processing speed: laptop:XPS8000 as Lowell:Ellsbury.

I am very happy.

January 9, 2010

Matsuzaka Injured Right Leg Before WBC, Kept Condition A Secret

The Globe's Peter Abraham reports that Daisuke Matsuzaka told a Japanese magazine that he suffered a leg injury while training for the WBC. He then kept his condition a secret from the Red Sox, even as his altered mechanics led to a shoulder injury.

Dice:
Early on in January 2009, I hurt my right inner thigh. I consider movement around my hip joint a crucial part of my pitching motion. It happened during my exercise to strengthen my hip joint that I incorporated into training since 2008. I may have pushed myself just a little too hard. ...

I didn't want to be the center of concern for people. I didn't tell the trainers. Fortunately, I was in charge of my own training, so if it started to hurt, I could adjust to not hurt myself. But pitching while hiding the injury was very difficult. ...

My plan after the WBC was to heal myself while keeping my turn in rotation. But the condition didn't get better as the season went on. ... I couldn't use my lower body well, and I could not use my full body to generate the power. My fastball was not effective, therefore I lost effectiveness of my other pitches. In hindsight, it was impossible to continue faking the whole season, it was too much mental stress. ...

I didn't want to show my weaknesses. I didn't want them to think I was making excuses. I would rather be criticized than ridiculed for making excuses. ...

I am very sorry for making you worry. I assure you that the (2010) season will be a great season. I am going to redeem what I lost in 2009.
You're not "making excuses". You're fucking hurt.

Idiot.

I remember Theo Epstein's comments back on September 30 to Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti on WBCN. It was in reference to J.D. Drew not playing every day, but it still applies here.
One of the things we actually tell our players in the minor leagues is you need to be more honest with us about when you're hurting ... With the way we built this team, I would rather have a right fielder who plays at a very high level who plays in 130 games rather than someone who plays hurt, plays at a lesser level, and ends up playing 155. ... Now I have respect for the guy who guts it out all the time, but sometimes they can cross the line and be fool-hardy.

January 7, 2010

Like A Puma! Like A Leopard!

It's a highlight reel, but damn.


SoSHer Cumberland Blues:
I'm not really a fetish guy, but that video is serious leather porn.

January 6, 2010

Ken Burns Seeks Fans' Photos For New "Baseball" Episode Focused On 2004 Red Sox

Ken Burns and Florentine Films are working on a new episode of its Baseball documentary series, focusing extensively on the Red Sox's 2004 season.
To tell this story from the fans' perspective, we are doing something new for us — we're combing New England for personal photos taken by fans showing their jubilation in the days following the 2004 victory. ...

The types of photos we're seeking include: scenes of celebration taken in the hours and days after the 2004 World Series win, congratulatory signs posted in homes or businesses, memorabilia left at grave sites of loved ones (there were several reports of this happening throughout New England), and anything else that may be relevant.
If you have anything that might qualify, send it to photos@florentinefilms.com.

Also, if appropriate: post/blog about, or let other Sox fans know about, the search. I'm sure there are some real gems out there.

The episode is scheduled for broadcast this fall.

January 5, 2010

Ellsbury Moved To LF

Jacoby Ellsbury will play left field this season, with Mike Cameron in center.

Terry Francona:
[LBJ] was worried that it was a demotion, which it is not. I kind of insured him of that. I just think we're tying to put guys where we think they can make the biggest impression. Cam was great, for a guy who is 37-years-old and played center field his whole life, he said, "Hey, I'll play anywhere." So it was just a decision based on what's best for our team.
Ellsbury's arm is better suited for left, where he played a total of 80 games in 2007-08. He'll have no trouble playing somewhat shallow since he'll have less ground to cover behind him and he should get straighter caroms off the Wall.

Theo Epstein:
It came down to the fact that Cameron's experience is almost exclusively in center and Jacoby demonstrated in 2007 and 2008 that he can be an impact corner outfielder defensively. We are more than comfortable with Jacoby in center. We just feel that -- for now -- this alignment puts us in the best position to win games.
Peter Gammons remembers Rickey Henderson telling him how the physical toll of stealing so many bases made it tough to cover center field.
Ellsbury really wants to be a great offensive player. Boras is smart enough to know that a Gold Glove is not going to go to arbitration the same way that hitting .300 and stealing 80 bases will. ... He played left field in the Cape League. They'll play Ellsbury in left field 80-100 games a year, rest his legs a little bit, and maybe it will keep him fresher over the course of the season.

With Short Contract, Beltre Betting On Strong Season

This is interesting. The Herald says Adrian Beltre
turned down more money from at least two teams -– he had a four-year offer early in free agency and then a three-year deal for roughly the same annual value as the deal the Red Sox offered -– but he chose Boston with an eye on having a big year for a contender and then hitting the market again next year.
This could be yet another case of a Boras "mystery team(s)" with sacks of money to burn, but I'm sure Boston's was not the only offer Beltre received. Either way, he should be extremely motivated to have a strong year -- he's rolling the dice on doing well and hitting the market again next winter.

SoSHer bosockboy:
Bottom line Theo has found the best way to balance short term and long term interests of the club. There looks to be a clearly defined overhaul coming after 2011, with Drew, Cameron, Scutaro and possibly Beltre moving on after 2011 as well as 60 million or so coming off the books after this season. They have tremendous flexibility over the next 2 offseasons to add an impact bat, extend Beckett and VMart, and to add in young players like Iglesias, Reddick and Kelly.

They also have the farm fully intact to pull the trigger on a major deal if it arises in July, and 4 picks in the Top 50 this June to bolster the farm even further. Just tremendous flexibility in all respects....I'm a huge fan of this offseason. He found a way to make us very competitive during a transition period for the club.
Example
Re our lineup: the downgrade in left should be offset by an entire season of Martinez behind the plate and having Scutaro over Green/Seabass at shortstop. I plugged in a possible 2010 lineup:
Ellsbury
Pedroia
Martinez
Youkilis
Drew
Ortiz
Cameron
Beltre
Scutaro
into Baseball Musings' Lineup Analysis. This lineup -- if they repeated their 2009 OBP and SLG -- would be expected to score about 5.85 runs per game, almost one-half run per game more than the 2009 Red Sox scored (5.38).

The best lineup the Red Sox could trot out (for 5.91 R/G) with those numbers is:
Martinez
Youkilis
Ellsbury
Drew
Pedroia
Ortiz
Cameron
Beltre
Scutaro
Ellsbury does not bat either #1 or #2 in any of the top 30 lineups.

I'm also extremely curious how the front office's emphasis on strong fielding/run prevention (I expect to hear it called "the new Moneyball") will pay off.

January 4, 2010

Red Sox Sign Adrian Beltre

Peter Gammons reports the Red Sox have signed Adrian Beltre:
Beltre 1 yr. Deal for $9m with player option for $5m. Physical coming
Crasnick adds that there is a $1 million buyout for 2011.

Discussion at SoSH.
Example
Gordon Edes, ESPN:
The Boston Red Sox have made an offer to free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, according to a major league source, but are facing competition from other teams, a list that could include the Orioles and Angels.

Terms and timing of the offer were not disclosed, but given the likely drop in Beltre's market, it would make sense for the Red Sox to have offered a two-year deal worth about $16 million to $20 million. ...

The source had indicated last week that even after the Mike Lowell trade with Texas was nullified by the Rangers, the Red Sox had quietly continued their pursuit of Beltre ... with Beltre close to making a decision.

January 2, 2010

Rask Mask

Check out the mask Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask wore for the Winter Classic game against the Flyers at Fenway Park yesterday.

Artist Luke Dobie: "If I was going to have an angry looking bear coming over the Fenway Park press box, why not have a bloody Yankees jersey hanging from a tooth?"

Boston won the game 2-1 in overtime. (Great photos, too!)

(Thanks to Richard for sending the 700 Level link.)

January 1, 2010