January 31, 2012

Matsuzaka Throws Bullpen Session

Interesting news from the Mainichi Daily News (via WEEI). Daisuke Matsuzaka threw off a mound first time since having Tommy John surgery last June.
In the team's spring training complex in Florida, Matsuzaka threw his first 11 pitches with the catcher standing in front of home plate and 10 more pitches after the catcher crouched.
"Today is like a warm-up," Matsuzaka said. "I think I'll throw harder next week."
[Matsuzaka] is scheduled to long toss on Wednesday and throw in the bullpen again on Friday ...
Over at SoSH, posters are looking at other pitchers' recovery from TJ - Edinson Volquez, Jordan Zimmerman, and Stephen Strasburg being the last three starters to have the surgery before Dice - and attempting to get a rough estimate of when Dice might return to the rotation. Looking at the rehab schedule of those three "yields a potential return date range of between May 23 and June 16".

Perhaps Ben Cherington is in no rush to panic and sign either Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson to a deal he'll soon regret because he believes the Red Sox can get through the first two months of the season, filling the #5 spot with a variety of arms, trial and error to see who can help during the dog days, and then welcome a (hopefully) well-tuned Matsuzaka back into the fold in June. Anything close to Dice's combined 2007-08 stats (126 ERA+) would be a godsend

January 29, 2012

Selig: Second Wild Card Likely for 2012

Bud Selig is confident that the introduction of two additional wild card teams will take effect this season, though a final decision is not expected for a few weeks.
I really believe we'll have the [extra] wild card for this year. Clubs really want it. I don't think I've ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card. ... It looks to me like we'll have it, because I've told everybody we have to have it. It will be exciting. A one-game playoff and it will start the playoffs in a very exciting manner.
The two wild card teams in each league would play a one-game playoff. (If teams tie for first place in a division, they would play a one-game playoff to determine playoff position.) The winner of the wild card playoff would then play the team with the best record in the league. That would likely mean the end of the rule stating that the wild card team cannot play the first place team in its division, regardless of record (Red Sox/Yankees ALDS, anyone?).

Having two wild cards could mean that a third-place team from a particularly strong division could win the World Series.

January 28, 2012

Valentine: We're Going To Do Something Special

Kevin Youkilis, a master of understatement, says the Red Sox "didn't have the best vibe in the clubhouse" last year.
It was very different. It was noticeable early, but when you win, winning heals all the wounds. But we definitely didn't have the right attitude in a lot of ways. We were worrying about things that we shouldn't have been worrying about and not playing the game of baseball. I think this year, with the coaching staff that's coming back, they saw things we can change. We're going to all can sit down and talk about it ... It's exciting to have [Bobby Valentine] on board. He's really pumped. It's fun to have him going. It's going to be a tougher spring training. We're going to be working our butts off with Bobby. Not that we didn't before, but I think we're going to be hitting a lot more of the fundamentals.
How September happened in Boston, I'll never know. But when it happened I knew I was going to get a chance to do something special. And we're going to do something special next year. Fans feel disrespected. I think the guys get it. ... They went home with a bad taste in their mouth and are going to do everything they can to get that taste out.
Well, according to numerous reports, the players did not "get it" even as the season was acting like the Titanic in mid-September, so we shall see what got got over the winter.

A Red Sox team with a lot to prove could give us a summer of fun - and some of the early projections (found in this flip-floppy Jonah Keri article*) paint a rosy picture for the Red Sox. Clay Davenport (formerly of Baseball Prospectus) has Boston winning 98 games and finishing six games ahead of the Yankees:
Davenport projects Boston to score the most runs in MLB yet again and have baseball's second-best record (behind the Rangers' 102-60 mark). ... CAIRO puts the Red Sox at 94 wins and in first place by a whisker. ... ZiPS calculates Boston for 89 wins and a wild card battle with the Angels.

* - Shorter Keri: Trading Scutaro was stupid, unless the deal works out and makes the Red Sox a better team, which could totally happen, thus making it a great decision.

Roy Oswalt is leaning towards signing with the Cardinals. ... Edwin Jackson says he has received some three-year offers, but is considering a one-year contract that would put him back on the market next winter, Beltre-style.

January 27, 2012

Support Mark Buehrle In Trashing Miami-Dade's Pit Bull Ban

Animal activist (and Miami Marlins pitcher) Mark Buehrle and his family are working hard to get the Florida legislature to pass HB 997/SB 1322, which would end breed-specific legislation in Miami-Dade County. (Sign this petition.)

After Buehrle signed a four-year deal with Miami this winter, he discovered that his family could not live in Miami-Dade County. One of their four rescued dogs - Slater - is an American Staffordshire terrier, and Miami-Dade is the only county in Florida that has statutes outlawing any dog that looks anything like a pit bull. The dog's actual behaviour is irrelevant. If it exhibits any physical characteristcs of a pit bull - which is not an actual breed of dog, by the way - it can be taken from its family and killed.

Two Florida legislators - Representative Carlos Trujillo and Senator Jim Norman - are working with Best Friends Animal Society to pass HB 997/SB 1322, which would repeal the BSL statute. (Sadly, Ontario is as backwards and inhumane as Miami-Dade when it comes to breed-specific laws - and hundreds of Canadian families have had their dogs killed for no good reason.)

The Handsome Slater:

The Buehrles, continuing the animal activism they did in Chicago, are urging everyone to sign a petition in support of the repeal. (Huge h/t to Big League Stew)

Jamie Buehrle:
When my husband, Mark, became the new pitcher for the Miami Marlins, we were excited to move our family down to Florida and join our team's community.

But then we found out our family wasn't welcome in Miami-Dade County, because one of our rescued dogs, Slater, is a pit bull. We were lucky enough to be able to afford to buy a house outside of Miami-Dade County so we could keep Slater. Many families aren't as fortunate, and they love their dogs just as much.

Because of an archaic exemption in state law, Miami-Dade County is the only county in the entire state permitted to engage in canine profiling. Florida state legislators Representative Carlos Trujillo and Senator Jim Norman are leading an effort, with the help of Best Friends Animal Society, to right this injustice and to repeal the portion of the Florida statute that allows Miami-Dade to kill dogs simply because of their appearance.

No other county in Florida is allowed such unmitigated power over people's pets. It is time that Miamians again enjoy the same right that citizens in Florida's 66 other counties have.

Despite being over 20 years old, Miami’s canine profiling still causes the needless, senseless and unjustified confiscation and killing of hundreds of innocent dogs every year, proving that breed discrimination does not make communities safer, and is impossible to enforce. It's also a waste of tax dollars. Nowhere else in Florida can certain breeds of dogs be summarily killed simply because of their appearance.

It is time to put an end, once and for all, to canine discrimination in Florida and make the Sunshine State a model of humane public policy. Please join me, Mark and our family in standing up for Slater and the dogs Miami-Dade. Help save lives and keep families together by supporting the legislation that will repeal Miami's inhumane breed-discriminatory law.

It looks like non-U.S. residents cannot sign the change.org petition, so I'm asking everyone reading these words to go to change.org and register your support.

January 26, 2012

Sox: Announce Ross, DFA Atchison, Sign Bailey, Make Offer To Oswalt

Scott Atchison was designated for assignment to make room for outfielder Cody Ross on the 40-man roster.

ESPN's Buster Olney states that the Red Sox made a 1/5 offer to Roy Oswalt and a similar pitch to Edwin Jackson (although the Jackson offer may not have been official). Olney says the Red Sox
don't want to get locked into any long-term deals ... [I]f they can get an Oswalt or a Jackson at their offer price, they're OK with that. If they can't, I think they're OK with that too considering they have other alternatives at this point with the rotation.
ESPN's Gordon Edes takes a wider look at the rumours and reports.

Andrew Bailey avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $3.9 million, with another $100,000 in incentives. There are two arbitration cases that remain unsettled: David Ortiz and Alfredo Aceves.

January 25, 2012

Tim McCarver And Madame Khokhlakov

"I've looked at you a hundred times as you walked by, saying to myself: here is an energetic man who must go to the mines. I even studied your gait and decided: this man will find many mines."

"From my gait, madame?" Mitya smiled.

"And why not from your gait? What, do you deny that it's possible to tell a man's character from his gait, Dmitri Fyodorovich? Natural science confirms it."
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, page 385

January 24, 2012

1918 Fenway Park Grand Stand Pass

Notice: The holder of this pass agrees to pay 2 cents to the Club each time same is presented for admission to the park, which will entitle the holder to what is known as a 77 cent seat, conditioned that the holder is also to pay to the Club for the Government a War Tax of 8 cents each time this pass is presented for admission, making a total of 10 cents.

Harry H. Frazee
I saw this on eBay.

January 23, 2012

Red Sox Sign Cody Ross

Outfielder Cody Ross has agreed to a one-year contract (at about $3 million) with the Red Sox.

Ross, 31, hit .240/.325/.405 (105 OPS+) for the Giants in 2011. In his career, he has a .912 OPS against lefties (.282/.349/.563).

However, his slash stats for the last three years show a huge drop in power:
       AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS
2009  .284  .347  .612  .959
2010  .287  .340  .543  .883
2011  .234  .336  .362  .698
Ross has played all three outfield positions for the past two seasons. Games played:
       LF   CF   RF
2010   23   89   54
2011   83   22   35
From an optimist's point of view, a bench with Ross, Nick Punto, and Mike Aviles has a lot of versatility.

TSN 1952: Too Much Night Ball Harmful

Night baseball may not have crippled more players than bursitis, but close observers agree more and more with the passing of the years that the arc lights have cut short the careers of many of the hired hands.

Joe DiMaggio pointed out, in discussing his retirement, that he could have played with the Yankees two years longer if Larry MacPhail had never introduced the arcs to the majors. Hank Greenberg has expressed the thought that the majors may have to adopt some variety of the two-platoon system to keep their athletes able and alert under the pressure of modern conditions. ...

The significant statement, "The day of the ten-year man is past," has been voiced often enough to become a cliche.

In view of this, it is saddening to observe that the two leagues scheduled a record number of night games for 1952. ...

But the effect of night ball on the health of the players is not its only disadvantage. Over any extended period, a heavy night schedule must destroy the interest of millions of young fans - through irregular eating and sleeping - the ticket buyers of tomorrow.

There was a time when the average youngster of grammar school age could see every week-end game, even if he couldn't always buy his seat. The free school tickets amounted to season passes for active traders in the lavishly-distributed pasteboards.

But few are the kids who can talk their parents into taking them often to games from which they can't hope to arrive home before midnight. The little fellows turn to the neighborhood movies, or to television. They never develop the fanatic interest which made their fathers and grandfathers the customers of today.

It's a story as old as the fable of the goose which laid the golden egg. The shortsighted assassin of that fabulous fowl no doubt lived to regret his greed. It is safe to predict that many major league club owners will have a similar experience.
The Sporting News, March 19, 1952

Few, also, were the kids who lived within driving distance of a major league ballpark. I guess they had been already written off as lost causes.

The TSN editors also bemoaned a "talent pinch" in the majors, stating: "There just aren't enough high grade ball players to go around." That was one reason why kids not being able to watch night games was so bad. They would not be inspired to play baseball, further diluting the sport's talent pool.

This is certainly odd talk during what is usually celebrated as baseball's "golden age".

January 21, 2012

Scutaro Traded To Rockies

The Marco Scutaro trade rumour that came and went yesterday returned as the team dumped salary and sent the shortstop to Colorado for right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen.

Mortensen, 26, split last year between AAA and the Rockies. Mortensen had a 3.86 ERA in 95 innings for Colorado. He has also pitched for the Cardinals (2009) and A's (2009-10).

A Sox source told The Globe's Nick Cafardo that the team would platoon Mike Aviles and Nick Punto at shortstop. Gordon Edes has the same info: "Sox believe they can get by w/Punto/Aviles at short until Iglesias is ready" ... That would be 20friggin13, at best, would it not? I need a drink.

Punto started a whopping six games at shortstop last year and 31 games in 2010. Aviles has not played the position regularly since 2009.

Aviles Enjoying Right Field; Scutaro Trade Rumour Comes And Goes

Mike Aviles was playing right field for Ponce Leones in Puerto Rico this winter ... and loving it.

While he had not played the outfield since he was a college sophomore, he says he adapted quickly.
I also surprised myself at how much I actually like it. I actually really love it. ... Being a lifelong infielder, the first game or two, my first reaction was coming in. As an infielder, you're taught to charge the ball all the time whereas as an outfielder you're not really charging the ball every single time. You kind of go back before you go in. It's one of those things where you get the repetition. The more repetition I got, the better I got at it.
The outfield at the Red Sox's new spring training park in Fort Myers is similar to Fenway's, giving Aviles some idea of what he'll be dealing with up north. Aviles hit .317/.340/.436 with the Red Sox last year and has a .299/.344/.470 against left-handers in his career.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post reported yesterday that the Rockies were "close to acquiring" Marco Scutaro. Not more than an hour later, Renck tweeted that while a trade was discussed, "it appears now [it] won't happen." ... Boston GM Ben Cherington stated: "Nothing to report." ... (How the day might have gone.)

Cherington likes the Red Sox starting rotation, though he does not yet know which five pitchers will be in it. He does admit that "we have more questions right now than Tampa Bay and New York" but adds Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz are "motivated" for the upcoming season. Woo-hoo. ... Catcher Ryan Lavarnway is the subject of a few articles.

Also: Bill James offers "a totally, utterly, insanely completist list" of the Top 100 pitching duels of 2011.

January 19, 2012

Orlando Cabrera Announces Retirement

Orlando Cabrera, one of The 25, has announced his retirement.

He came to Boston from the Expos in the four-team trade deadline deal between the Red Sox, Expos, Cubs, and Twins. Cabrera hit a home run in his first plate appearance for the Red Sox; he banged a clutch walkoff double on August 17. Cabrera played in 58 games for the Red Sox, batting .294/.320/.465.

Cabrera had 11 hits in the historic and unforgettable ALCS against the Yankees; only David Ortiz had more (12). In the top of the 11th of ALCS Game 4, Cabrera made a diving catch to his right on Alex Rodriguez's line drive with one out and a runner at second.

Manny Ramirez and Cabrera, during the ALDS

Cabrera and Pokey Reese, celebrating a Red Sox win

In the aftermath of The Slap, Cabrera informed the Yankees
that the ALCS would be going to a seventh game.

January 18, 2012

Martin Luther King & Derek Jeter: Look To The Cookie

ESPN's Wallace Matthews boldly claims that Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter
is a symbol of the kind of America Dr. King hoped one day to live in.

When he said in his most famous speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character," he could well have been talking about Derek Jeter.
The sentiment is bizarre and barf bag-worthy, for sure. It is also a gross misreading of history.

Matthews's scant evidence for linking Jeter to King is the fact that Derek's father is black and his mother is white. Which, I hasten to add, Derek had absolutely nothing to do with. (How many other professional athletes come from mixed-race parents? David Ortiz's wife is white; why doesn't cute little D'Angelo embody anything noble?)

King was not the avuncular can't-we-all-get-along figure - the fuzzy flipside of angry Malcom X - for whom we now thank for a day off work. In the 1960s, he was considered a dangerous radical. He risked his life constantly and minced no words when it came to criticizing the United States for its shameful and criminal record on human rights and war.

In 1967, King called the US "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world", a country on "the wrong side of a world revolution". And while he did wish, as Matthews notes, that every person should be judged by the content of his or her character and not by skin colour*, he also urged everyone to "move beyond ... smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent".

* - Or, for that matter, by UZR.

King made the clear and obvious connection between the US's increased militarism and the poverty of millions of its people:
We are spending all this money for death and destruction, and not nearly enough money for life and constructive development . . . when the guns of war become a national obsession, social needs inevitably suffer.


A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.


When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.


There's something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, "Be non-violent toward [Selma, Alabama segregationist sheriff] Jim Clark," but will curse and damn you when you say, "Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children."

One of King's aides, Reverend Hosea Williams, called him "the militant of the century". The FBI tapped his phone, and threatened and blackmailed him, suggesting that to avoid unseemly details from his private life becoming public, he might want to consider committing suicide. ... After his assassination, decades pass, his militant statements get white-washed from history books and/or dumbed down for mass consumption, and he becomes a "hero" on a postage stamp.

In Vietnam, King said the US had once again "fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long".
Now they languish under our bombs and consider us ... the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. ... So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe?...

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.
That speech could just as easily apply today to Iraq or Afghanistan. Or any of the other countries the US is currently (or will soon be) bombing. When I hear a baseball player speaking those words to the nation - not once, but many times - then maybe I'll consider a comparison to Dr. King.

Dr. Harry Edwards, a sociologist and activist, says that Jeter's absolute avoidance of saying anything substantial should be seen as a sign of racial progress, not a character flaw. "It is unfair and uninformed to expect 21st-century athletes to replicate the kind of stands taken by past generations of athletes." That is unadulterated bullshit.

The next interesting or controversial thing Jeter says will be the first. To the public, he is a bland, cardboard cut-out of a man, a cipher content to play baseball and offer up the most cliched, content-less statements. (He was photographed welcoming a known sociopathic war criminal to the Yankees clubhouse, though.)

Through a quirk of fate, Derek Jeter was born into a mixed-race family. He has faced racism and has gone on to have a successful baseball career. (Back in 2005, another ESPN writer, Gary Gillette, called Jeter the "second coming of Jackie Robinson". Now we have a King connection. When Jeter is inducted into the Hall of Fame, I predict he will be portrayed as more important to humanity than Jesus Christ.) But the mere fact of his existence has nothing to do with Martin Luther King.

A more appropriate analogy for Jeter would be:
It's half black, half white, and totally bland and unsatisfying.

January 17, 2012

Crawford Has Left Wrist Surgery

Carl Crawford had arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist today after feeling soreness during his hitting routines earlier this month. GM Ben Cherington said Crawford would be in left field "for the bulk of the regular season", but he likely will not be ready by Opening Day.

Peter Abraham, Globe:
Crawford felt soreness when he started his offseason hitting workouts around Jan. 1. He had an MRI that showed cartilage damage and arthroscopic surgery was recommended. Crawford has had wrist issues in the past but the discomfort had always passed. Having such pain at this time of the year was a red flag.

Cherington did not rule Crawford being eligible for Opening Day. But it sounds like he could miss the early part of the season.
Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston (my emphasis):
Crawford has experienced soreness in the wrist in the past, according to Cherington, including at the end of the 2011 season, though the decision was made at the time that he go through his usual offseason routine. That changed, Cherington said, when Crawford reported continued soreness.
Hell of an off-season, Brownie.
The Red Sox and Jacoby Ellsbury agreed on an $8.05 million contract for 2012, avoiding arbitration. Cherington said they did not discuss a multi-year deal. ... The team has also signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Franklin Morales to one-year deals. ... And David Ortiz ($16.5) and the Red Sox ($12.65) exchanged numbers.

An Interview With Robert Creamer

Robert Creamer began following baseball in 1931. He saw Babe Ruth hit home runs. He wrote for Sports Illustrated when it debuted in the mid-1950s. And he has written many baseball books, most notably biographies of both Babe Ruth and Casey Stengel. (N.B.: He also said some extremely nice things about my book on the 1918 Red Sox.)

Graham Womack of Baseball Past And Present interviewed Creamer recently. And the entire interview is a must-read. (Thanks to Dave Pinto of Baseball Musings for the tip).

Some snips:
What still excites you about baseball?

That's easy – the wonder of "What happens next?" When I'm watching a game between teams I'm interested in, sometimes that wonder — and the fulfillment of it, as in the sixth game of the 2011 World Series — can be excruciatingly exciting, and its fulfillment as you watch and wait can be almost literally incredible. ... I have occasionally quoted my long-ago family doctor who once said to me, "Baseball is a game of limitless dramatic possibility." We've come close to the limit — Bobby Thomson's home run 60 years ago, the Cardinals last fall — but we haven't reached it yet.

Who's the greatest baseball player you covered?

Willie Mays. Period.

If steroids had been a part of the game when Stengel and Ruth were players, do you think they would have used?

Sure. Yes. Absolutely. Hell, for decades before the big scandal about steroids in baseball, clubhouses used to have plates or dishes filled with little candy-like pills players gulped or chewed on routinely. My mind is gone – I forget what they were called ... Uppers? Bennies? I can't recall. But that was standard. Athletes are always looking for an edge and that was a way to get them fired up. I have never been as upset by steroid use as the moralistic holier-than-thou baseball writers who vote on the Hall of Fame. What a bunch of self-important phonies!

I mean, you'd think all an ordinary player would have to do is take steroids to hit 70 home runs or bat .350. But I think McGwire was telling the truth — he took steroids to hold back distress, to make him physically able to play the game. Steroids don't make a player good. Think of the hundreds, even thousands of players who have been in and out of the major leagues and who may have dabbled in steroids and think how few have hit 50, let alone 60 or 70 homers. Sure, every two-bit hitter in the lineup seems able to drive the ball over the outfield fences, but that has as much to do with the dimensions of the fields and the dimensions of the players, even without steroids. ...

January 16, 2012

Gammons: Red Sox Sign Vicente Padilla

You say Pineda, I say Padilla...

Peter Gammons is reporting that RHP Vicente Padilla, 34, has agreed to a minor league contract with the Red Sox. The Herald says the deal will pay him $1.5 million if he makes the big league club.

MLB TradeRumours:
Padilla made only nine appearances for the Dodgers in 2011, all in relief, before neck problems ended his season in June. ... [I]n recent years the 34-year-old has been a swingman and spot starter ... He has reportedly been hitting 95-96 mph with his fastball this winter in Nicaragua, and has said he wants to fight for a rotation spot.

January 14, 2012

Four Weeks

Truck Day is Saturday, February 11, four weeks from today.

("Green Death" - rallying cry for 2012?)

January 13, 2012

Matsuzaka Article, Decoded

A few days ago, I posted a screen-shot of a less-than-ideal translation of a Japanese news story about Daisuke Matsuzaka's on-going recovery from TJ surgery. It was pretty much the laziest way of sharing the article.

Matt Kory of Over The Monster did some actual work, however, and tried to make sense of it. So ... a bit of logrolling in our time.

January 12, 2012

Theo: Parts Of 2004 Were As Contentious As End Of 2011

Theo Epstein, WEEI:
There were periods in 2004 that were just as unproductive and contentious in the clubhouse. But guess what? We were 2.5 games out of the wild card in mid-August of 2004 and we got hot and we went 45-11 down the stretch instead of 11-45 or whatever it was this year [7-20 in September; 18-29 after August 9], and we ended up toasting those idiosyncrasies and the personalities and the extra-curricular activities and became a great bunch of guys. I know the salacious details are good fodder to talk about, and, don't get me wrong, there were a lot of things that happen and never should happen in the clubhouse, but don't look past the losing [as] the prime driver of all of this. If we had won a couple more games and gotten hot in the playoffs and won the World Series it would have been such a fun-loving group, all these personalities that came together in the end. It would have read a lot more like 2004. The difference was that we lost our last game and in 2004 we won it.

Ted Williams, 1940: "If I Were a Free Agent, I'd Sign With The Dodgers"

In August 1940, Ted Williams was still 21 years old and in his second season with the Boston Red Sox. And he was thinking about how much he'd be loved in Brooklyn.
Thanks to Larry Granillo at Baseball Prospectus for posting the article from the August 20, 1940 edition of the Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph-Herald.

Pedro Talks About Verlander's MVP, Steroids, And His Ties To Boston

Pedro Martinez was on WEEI on Tuesday, discussing various aspects of his career and his sterling seasons with the Red Sox.

Martinez says he was tempted to use steroids when he was with the Dodgers, trying to get to and establish himself in the major leagues. However Pedro declined the drugs not because it was cheating, but because he was told that "there are certain areas of a man that will get damaged". Once Martinez made it to the bigs,
I was never interested. I was so willing to prove to everybody that I could do it. ... I wanted to prove everybody so wrong. I finally did it. I'm thankful for not ever taking anything illegal.
Talking about not winning the MVP in either 1999 or 2000 and the fact that Justin Verlander won the AL MVP in 2011, Martinez hints that racism was involved and singles out two BBWAA writers - George King and LaVelle Neal III - who actually left Martinez completely off their 1999 MVP ballots. (King explained that he felt pitchers should not be eligible for the MVP, even though he voted for two pitchers, David Wells and Rick "4.41 ERA" Helling, the year before. No one else listed Helling on a ballot.)
I was kind of pissed off at first [when Verlander won], but then I went to realize that [the voters] are going to have to live with that label on their back. If anyone calls them prejudiced or racist for not voting for me, everyone will have to understand that it's their responsibility for not voting for me at that time. I feel kind of bad, but at the same time, I was really happy that the pitchers who really deserved it like Justin finally got the monkey off their backs ... Now, after, what, 11 years [since 1999], I see that they finally voted for another pitcher. Guess what: That pitcher is American. I was a Dominican-born player. That made me feel kind of awkward about it. If you compare my numbers to Justin's, not taking anything from what he did, my numbers were way better.
Pedro also talks about his 17-strikeout, one-hitter against the Yankees in 1999 (New York hit only eight fair balls that night), his relief effort against Cleveland that October, and (yes) Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.
I'm a Bostonian. I consider myself a Bostonian. I believe my best years, my most important years, were in Boston. Part of my heart is in Boston. The other part is with my family and my own interests. I don't have anything bad to say about my years in Boston. Honestly speaking, which is not very often that you'll have an All-Star speaking honestly, I love Boston. I miss Boston. I miss the fans. I love the fans. I loved living in Boston. I'm actually thinking about selling my house in New York and buying back in Boston to actually go back.

January 11, 2012

The Problem With Batting Average, In 12 Words

Why is batting average a seriously flawed metric for measuring a hitter's worth? Quickly:
I have three coins. You have five coins. Who has more money?
On a related note, Joe Posnanski writes about early baseball scribe (and proto-basement dweller) F. C. Lane.

January 10, 2012

Matsuzaka Also Tone Up Even Elbows!

The wonder of Google translation!

(P.S. Nice hair!!)

Matsuzaka is apparently well ahead of schedule. Daigo Fujiwara of Nikkan Sports reports Dice-BB will pitch a bullpen session by the end of January.

Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook, Justin Germano Signed To Minor Deals

The Red Sox have signed pitchers Carlos Silva, Aaron Cook and Justin Germano minor league deals.

Silva had a 4.22 ERA and 1.274 WHIP in 113 innings (21 starts) for the 2010 Cubs. In 2011, he pitched 36 innings at three levels of the minors for the Yankees before going on the disabled list with shoulder stiffness in early June. He was released a month later.

Cook (a sinkerball pitcher) appeared in 18 games (17 starts) for the Rockies last year, with a 6.03 ERA and a 1.691 WHIP (allowing nearly 12 hits per 9 innings). While his 2011 BABIP was inflated (.345), his WHIP has been too high for the last three years. Pitching coach Bob McClure worked with Cook in Colorado.

Germano pitched in Korea last season after making nine appearances with Cleveland. In 2010, he had a 3.31 ERA in 35.1 innings for Cleveland. He has also pitched in San Diego for three seasons.

The Red Sox announced the signing of an additional 11 players to minor league contracts, with spring training invites.

Longtime Mets coach Randy Niemann has accepted a job as the Red Sox's assistant pitching coach. Neimann had been with the Mets for 24 years and worked with Bobby Valentine from 1997-99.

Bobby Jenks has had a second surgical procedure on his back and will not be ready for the start of spring training.

Mike Andrews of Sox Prosepcts gives an overview of the Boston farm system for 2012. ... Jarroid Saltalamacchia says the Red Sox players have long since closed the door on 2011 and are looking forward. ... Ryan Sweeney is gritty.

January 6, 2012

The Hardball Times: Doing All The Driving

My first article for The Hardball Times:
On Sept. 2, 1996, the Red Sox beat the Mariners 9-8 in 10 innings in Seattle. Boston's left fielder, Mike Greenwell, batting eighth in the order, drove in all nine of the Red Sox runs. He set a major league record.

After flying out to right-center to lead off the top of the third inning, the Gator hit a two-out, two-run home run in the fifth, a grand slam with no one out in the seventh - putting the Sox ahead 6-5 - a two-run double down the left field line in the eighth - tying the game at 8-8 - and an RBI single in the top of the 10th to give the Red Sox a 9-8 lead. Unfortunately, Boston manager Kevin Kennedy stayed with reliever Heathcliff Slocumb in the home half of the tenth, denying Greenwell the opportunity to take the hill and pick up a save.

After the first inning, Boston managed only six hits, and Greenwell had four of them. He finished the day with a WPA of 1.051 - the third highest for a Red Sox batter in Retrosheet history, and only the sixth Red Sox batter to ever top a 1.000 WPA. Greenwell also drove in Boston's first run the following night, making it 10 RBI in a row.

Before Greenwell's one-man show at the Kingdome, there had been two instances of a player driving in all eight of his team's runs.

George "Highpockets" Kelly went 4-for-4, with three home runs and a single, for the New York Giants on June 14, 1924, in an 8-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Nearly 14 years later to the day — June 12, 1938 — Philadelphia A's second baseman Bob Johnson drove in eight runs in an 8-3 win over the St. Louis Browns in the first game of a doubleheader. Johnson had two homers and a single.

I started wondering which players with big RBI days had driven in almost all of their team's runs — eight of nine, nine of 10, 10 of 12, etc. I went to Baseball Reference's Play Index and did some digging. ...
See The Hardball Times for the full article.