Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some Red Sox Thoughts

So, the big six game swing through Toronto and New York that I mentioned last week; how is it going? Pretty damn well so far. I am not going to lie, when I posted a desired mark of 3-3 over this six game span last Thursday, I really felt like that was a reach. I was fully expecting a 2-4 or worst case scenario a 1-5. Now, the Sox have clinched a 3-3 mark over these six games as they sit at 3-1 with two to play. And let's face it, right now 3-3 would be disappointment. And I now think 4-2 is how it will end up, but with Sidney Ponson going for the Yankees tonight and Jon Lester for the Sox tomorrow, a sweep in New York really doesn't seem out of the question. I don't want to get ahead of myself at all here and even the 3-3 worst case scenario is not bad in the big picture, but if the Sox can somehow manage the 4-2 or 5-1, then all of a sudden they are sitting at 77 or 78 wins with 29 games - and 20 home games! - to go. Couple that with the 2.5 game lead they currently have opened up in the Wild Card and the deficit in the AL East being cut to 3.5 games, and come Thursday evening, there is a chance that you could be feeling really, really good about the team seeing October.

And that brings me to my next point, which is something I should not have to tell you but I will anyway. This weekend's series with the White Sox is huge. It's not just huge in the sense that all the team's remaining series are huge from here on out. It is also huge in the hypothetical.

Consider this; if the Sox end up pulling out the division and the White Sox win the Central, then those two teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs assuming that Tampa then captures the Wild Card. So what does that have to do with anything? Well, if both Sox meet in the Division Series and each has an identical record - not so far fetched seeing as there is just a half game difference between them now - then homefield advantage will go to the team that won the season series. After the split in Chicago a few weeks ago, now whomever wins the series at Fenway over the weekend will win the season series. I know chances are greatly against it coming to that type of tie-breaker between those two teams considering that if the White Sox win their division and the Red Sox take the Wild Card, the only way the two teams could meet - assuming the Angels finish with the best record in the AL which they should - would be in the ALCS and the division winner is going to get homefield in that series regardless. So, I know it's a long-shot that a tie-break will come into play between the two Sox, but it's not that much of a long-shot and let's not forget that the regular season tie-break last year came into play in giving the Red Sox homefield over the Indians in the ALCS.

And that is part one of this piece. For the second part, I don't want to speak to soon, but I do want to throw a parallel out at you.

This little run of tough wins in tough locales is starting to remind me some of the "well I guess they are really good" moment from the 2004 season when after running off a 17-2 streak (with only 6 of those games on the road) against primarily also-rans with the exception of LAA (Toronto, Chicago, LAA, Detroit, and Texas) they headed out to Oakland to face the first place A's who had two of their three best pitchers going (Barry Zito and Tim Hudson with Mark Redman being the "other pitcher"). In case you forgot, the Red Sox swept the A's in that series and it really wasn't that close as they beat them 8-3, 7-1, and 8-3. Many people point to the Nomar Trade and the Varitek/A-Rod/Bill Mueller Game as the defining moments of that season and when "things turned around", but whenever I think of THE defining, "these guys are good!!" moment from 2004 I think of that blitzing in Oakland. The first two events were flashier, but the Oakland series I think was a lot more telling.

So what does that have to do with 2008? I'm not sure exactly. I guess my point is though, if you are looking for a sign as to how good a team is or whether or not a "turning point" has officially been reached, don't just latch on to one game. Latch onto a series of games. And if you are looking for a series of games to latch onto, winning a couple of tough road series in late August after struggling mightily there for most of the season is a really good place to start.

Now, they just need to seal the deal in New York. Easier said than done of course.

One last note:

There was a lot to like about Monday night's victory in New York, but if you had to ask me my favorite part, it was the sequence that lead to the Red Sox two out, three run, fifth inning rally which was definitely the key moment in the game. The conversation really begins with Coco who drove in the first of the Sox three runs with a single to right. On that play, Lowrie went first to third, which setup Coco stealing second and Jeff Bailey driving both of them in with the biggest hit of the game in my opinion, his two-run single to deep third. While Bailey's hit was obviously huge, the play was setup first by Lowrie going first to third and then by Coco stealing second. Consider that if Lowrie does not go first to third there then Coco can't steal second and the Sox have first and second for Bailey's AB instead of second and third. With guys at first and second, maybe Lowrie scores from second on Bailey's hit and maybe he does not, but obviously there is no chance of the second run coming in. Not to get all corny here, but that is great baseball and if you ever wonder why it is my favorite sport, look no further than the above.

Whoops, before I could publish this, it just broke that the Sox have acquired Mark Kotsay. Here's my quick take:

To find out what type of player Mark Kotsay is, all you really need to do is look at his 162 game average from From there (noted below) you can see that he is an average to slightly above average major leaguer that does everything suitably but nothing great. However, he has always had a reputation as a very good defensive center-fielder and in looking at his zone-rating (the seemingly go-to stat for fielding which I have no idea how it is calculated) he matches up very comparably to Coco Crisp both last year (.897 for Kotsay and .911 for Crisp) and this year (.827 and .822 respectively). So is it fair to call Mark Kotsay a slight upgrade over Coco Crisp for their bench? I say yes.

One other thing I'd like to throw out there is the idea that Kotsay will get a bit more playing time than many would anticipate between now and October. If Ellsbury continues to struggle, I could see Kotsay getting a good bulk of at-bats down the stretch because in big games, they can't just give away outs which is what Ellsbury has been doing since June it seems. Also, Kotsay can play first base so he is another option to throw out there until Mike Lowell comes back. Anyway, take a look at Kotsay's 162 game average stats below and try and tell me he is not a nice addition to the team. Of course he's not a huge piece, but he is definitely somebody that will come in useful and I firmly believe the team is better with him a part of it.

Mark Kotsay 162 Game Average:

.282/.337/.415 (Avg/OBP/Slg)

80/12/68/10 (Runs/HR/RBI/SB)

And while we are here:

Manny in LA - .379/6/21/1.108 OPS

Bay in Boston - .341/4/20/.914 OPS

Red Sox record since: 15-7

Dodgers record since: 11-13

Read more!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dodgers with Manny: 11-12, Sox with Bay: 14-7

LA has Manny Mania! And a losing record since he came on board.

If ever there has been a more stereotypical LA sports story than the city falling in love with a guy like Manny Ramirez and his flash and bat while not noticing that he has done nothing in terms of actually improving the team's record then I can't think of it. Other than rallying around a rapist. Oops, sorry, an "alleged" rapist. But that's a different sport so I digress.

Case and point; the Dodgers after being swept in a four game series in Philadelphia are 11-12 in the Manny Era and one game under .500. So they were a .500 team before and a bit under a .500 team after. I guess "energizing the team" and "selling dreadlock wigs" are more important than winning these days in LA. Whatever. It should not be a shocker. Sure the team is relevant again, but they aren't better and I guess that is all that people care about out there.

As for the Sox, with Jason Bay they are 14-7. I hate to keep harping on it, but the more the media and the Dodgers keep fawning over Manny, the more I feel the need to bring up the fact that he has done NOTHING to improve the bottom line results of the team. Sorry, the puff pieces have driven me to insanity. I guess I just care about winning more than dreadlock wigs.

Where is the love for Jason Bay?! That is a guy that must be celebrated! Read more!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Some Thoughts

In case any of you guys really care, I have two football drafts today and in both I landed the top spot. Conceivably I could hedge my bets and go Tomlinson in one and Peterson in the other, but I am all about consistency so this year in fantasy I'm going to live and die by my least favorite player in the NFL, Ladanian Tomlinson.

If you are wondering the top 10 in the draft I am participating in now, as we speak, it's:

Steven Jackson
Marion Barber
Randy Moss
Not Grandmama LJ
Frank Gore

...and the top 10 in my evening draft

Steven Jackson
Adrian Peterson
Tom Brady
Marshawn Lynch
Frank Gore
Marion Barber
Clinton Portis

Anyway, nothing more boring than hearing somebody else blab about their fantasy team, so here are some other thoughts.

1) Darius Miles is a Celtic. Huh. I'd put the odds of him making the team at about 50/50. The high end result for him could be a valuable and atheletic 3/4 and the first or second guy off the bench. Honestly though, it's a risk-free proposition bringing the guy in so why not. Plus, whenever you have the chance to pickup a guy who has acted in both Van Wilder AND The Perfect Score, you have to make that move.

2) Count me as officially worried about Josh Beckett. Both the Drew and Lowell injuries are huge too and nobody seems to be really sweating them. The more time Drew and Lowell miss, the more time Alex Cora and Coco Crisp see in the everyday lineup. I don't like that.

3) Jason Bay is quietly creeping towards equalling what Manny has done in LA. Not like people are moaning over the trade or anything, but after his flurry of action out of the box, Manny has cooled off - as has been MO all year with the streaks - while Bay has just kept on plugging along and producing. A .329 average with 4 HR, 18 RBI, and a .921 OPS works, right? Manny for the record, excluding Sunday's 0/3 is .381/6/21 with a 1.150 OPS. Still great, but the gap is not too substantial.

4) Jed Freakin' Lowrie baby. All the guy does is produce. Honestly, the fact that the Sox took two of three in Toronto seems somewhat surreal to me. Now, if they can manage to take two of three against the Yankees with Tim Wakefield, Paul Byrd, and Jon Lester scheduled to pitch, than color them golden. It will be an uphill climb though as they are matched up against Andy Pettite, Sidney Ponson (they best put up a ten spot on him), and Mike "I may somehow win 20 this year" Mussina. I never like when they are going against two of the Yankees best three starters with two of their worst although in fairness to Wakefield he has been incredibly solid this year.

5) I am spent. After plowing through two, online fantasy drafts today I am done with the computer. Until next time.

Read more!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pennant Race Time!

The good news; after the Red Sox finish up their upcoming three game sets in Toronto and New York they only have nine more road games left for the rest of the year. There is a quickie three game trip in Texas from 9/5 - 9/7 and then a six game trip through Toronto and Tampa Bay 9/15 - 9/21 and that is it. All the rest are home games where the Sox are 43-18.

The bad news; excluding Texas, where they are yet to play this year the Sox are combined 3-12 at Toronto, New York, and Tampa Bay. Even more frightening, they are 0-9 at Toronto and Tampa Bay this year where 9 of their remaining 15 road games are played.

As they embark on the first six of these fifteen remaining road games in Toronto and New York, depending on how the Twins fare tonight (8/21, a Sox off-day) they could either find themselves tied for the lead in the Wild Card race or a game up. There is an arrogance I think of us Red Sox fans, assuming the team will be handed the Wild Card if the whole winning the AL East thing doesn't work out. Well, that is really not the case. Do I think the Red Sox are a better team than the Twins? Yes, I do think that and I'll point to their vastly superior run differential of +117 to the Twins +62 to bolster my claim. But do I think the Twins have the ability to play one or two games better than the Red Sox over the season's final five weeks? Well, yes I think that too.

So, is this supposed to be a call for panic concerning the Red Sox? Well not really unless Josh Beckett is in fact injured. What it is supposed to be though is a wakeup call that the Red Sox have just 35 games remaining and if they want to actually be playing in October, they cannot coast down the stretch as they did last year.

As I said before, regarding the Wild Card they will at best be up one game and at worst tied heading into the final 35. And as for the division, well if they want to take that they have to pickup five games on Tampa Bay between now and the end of the year, and that is going to be very tough unless they can somehow buck this year's recent history trend and go 5-1 or 6-0 against them over the remaining six head to head games. Of course it is possible, but it won't be easy and nobody will hand it to them, which is I think what some people are expecting.

So, how do they make this final push? Here are what I would call reasonable goals to get to the 95 or so wins it will probably take to secure a playoff spot:

1) Split the six games in Toronto and New York (3-3), take 2 of 3 in Texas (5-4), and split the final six games in Toronto and Tampa (8-7). While 8-7 may not be a dazzling road mark, it certainly beats 30-36, which is where they are at now.

2) Their final twenty home games include three against Chicago, Baltimore, Tampa, and New York, and four against Toronto and Cleveland. If they could take 2 of 3 from Chicago, Tampa, and New York (6-3), sweep the Orioles (9-3), and then take 3 of 4 from both Cleveland and Toronto then we are looking at a 15-5 record over these final 20 home games. Whether or not it breaks down like I have spelled out, a 15-5 run at home certainly seems possible and only slightly above the team's current .704 home winning percentage. Factor in the fact that the last seven games of the year will be against Cleveland and New York who should both be in full "playing out the string" mode and I like the chances even more.

So, after all of that, where does that leave the Red Sox? Well, if they can go 23-12 in their final 35 as outlined above they will finish at 96-66 or with the exact same record as they had last year. Last year, that was good for the AL East crown. This year, it will probably only be good enough for the Wild Card. Is that a huge deal? Well yes, if you consider the Angels to be a far scarier team than the White Sox as I do. Regardless, to just get into the playoffs, the Red Sox need to hit the accelerator some and starting now. As I said before, the Sox cannot just coast on in to the playoffs this year, they will really need to push to make the tournament. Obviously, let's hope they do that. It's a legitimate race for the playoffs right now folks. Let's enjoy it. Read more!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Orioles

Monday night I made my first and what will be my only trip to Camden Yards this year to catch the Sox playing the Orioles. I've been making an annual trip or trips to Camden Yards each year since I moved to DC in the Summer of 2002. To say that things have "changed" there post 2004 would be a massive understatement.

Look, since I have been going there the Sox fans have always out-numbered the Orioles fans. But not until post-2004 did that become THE road venue to visit for for Red Sox fans and not coincidentally become an absolute haven for every single out-of-town bandwagon fan and people that give fans of the Red Sox an absolutely horrible name. It has actually gotten so bad down there and I had become so embarrassed to be lumped in with the majority of the Sox fans at those games that I made a mini-pledge to myself that I was taking a year off from going there.

Obviously, I broke that pledge but as you may imagine, a Monday crowd would figure to be a bit more easy-going than a weekend one. This actually was the case which was nice. It was not docile by any means and the Red Sox fans were being vocal but in a harmless way. Plus the yahoo factor was greatly diminished which loosely translates to no "die-hard" fans quizzing other Sox fans in the audience on who the starting pitcher for the Yankees is that day or a person calling for a bunt by Ortiz with two on and no out in the first inning. And in case you couldn't tell, those were both examples of people in my section at a Saturday game there last year. I'm telling you, the vast majority of Red Sox fans I have met at Camden Yards have made me hang my head in shame and my face turn red with embarrassment for walking around in Sox gear.

Anyway, none of that on Monday as despite what Baltimore writers would have you believe, all of the obnoxious fans in my section were Baltimore people. Let's see, you had the fat mother and her teenage son sitting behind us who would not shutup with inane comments which ran throughout the entire game as the mother both vocally ("I paid for it so I better drink it" and "I guess I just need to drink quicker which is okay") and physically got shitfaced. And then you had the group of about 8 sitting in front of us who got up about twice an inning to go to the concession stands (no exaggeration) and left in the 7th inning of a 2-1 game. Again, Baltimore folks both of them so let's not just assume that every single a-hole fan at a Sox-Orioles game in Baltimore is a Boston person.

Enough ranting about the crowd, what I really want to do here is enlighten you on a fact which you may or may not know - and if you don't do fantasy then you probably don't - that the Orioles have an absolutely outstanding offense. Even moving beyond the fact that they lead the AL in runs scored since the All Star break, the true talent of their offense lies in the guys who right now are hitting 1-4 respectively in their order. Consider this:

The average stats for Orioles 1-4 hitters (Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Melvin Mora, Aubrey Huff) are:

.297 Avg / .371 OBP / 18 HR / 74 RBI / 80 RS / 58 XBH

The individual stats are pretty nice too:

Roberts - .295 Avg / .378 OBP / 8 HR / 43 RBI / 87 RS / 30 SB / 61 XBH

Markakis - .303 Avg / .403 OBP / 17 HR / 76 RBI / 88 RS / 10 SB / 57 XBH

Mora - .284 Avg / .342 OBP / 20 HR / 91 RBI / 67 RS / 49 XBH

Huff - .304 Avg / .364 OBP / 27 HR / 87 RBI / 80 RS / 66 XBH

Compare that to the Red Sox now.

Granted, the Sox do not have a set top 4 like the Orioles thanks to injuries and trades. However if you add up the total at-bats from the Red Sox top 5 players this year (Pedroia, Youkilis, Drew, Manny, and Papi) you get just a bit more at bats - 1,966 for the Sox versus 1,883 for the O's a difference of 83 ABs, a big but not massive difference and suitable for our purposes here to compare the Sox top 5 to the Orioles top 4. Let's see how it pans out:

The average stats for the Sox aforementioned top 5:

.300 Avg / .379 OBP / 18 HR / 67 RBI / 73 RS / 47 XBH

Now the average stats if you neutralize the numbers to reflect roughly the same amounts of at-bats per team:

.300 Avg / .379 OBP / 21 HR / 79 RBI / 85 RS / 55 XBH

The individual stats:

Youkilis - .317 Avg / .386 OBP / 23 HR / 84 RBI / 78 RS / 60 XBH

Pedroia - .320 Avg / .364 OBP / 12 HR / 58 RBI / 92 RS / 12 SB / 52 XBH

Drew - .280 Avg / .408 OBP / 19 HR / 64 RBI / 78 RS / 46 XBH

Ortiz - .265 Avg / .330 OBP / 17 HR / 63 RBI / 51 RS / 33 XBH

Manny - .299 Avg / .398 OBP / 20 HR / 68 RBI / 66 RS / 43 XBH

So what does this all mean? First off, the top four of the Orioles lineup is really good. But I already told you that. Secondly, that it took the five best Red Sox hitters from Day One this season to match what the four best Orioles hitters have done. In short, we like to always think that our top guys are at or near the best, and while this has been the case before we should at least acknowledge that this year the top of the Orioles lineup has been outstanding and just as good if not better than the guys that our team has trotted out there.
Read more!

Friday, August 15, 2008

What is going on in China?

I have been watching the Olympics off and on, I try to tune in when Phelps is about to swim, otherwise I only flip there during a Red Sox Commercial or a blowout(Only to find our an hour later we are losing). Anyway here are some news and notes from what I have seen.

- Alain Bernard whose picture I have included above maybe the scariest looking person in the olympics. I personally love a Frenchman who tries to trash talk the USA.

- If those Chinese girls from the gymnastics team are 16 then Ben's daughter Lucy who is only two months old should be starting Kindergarten next weekend.

- Michael Phelps is crazy, I have caught almost every single one of his Gold Medal races in the past week. Last night was maybe one of the more impressive races as he dominated the 200m Medley. Two races to go, they say he is the underdog for the butterfly tonight but if he pulls it out then that makes Saturday that much more exciting.

- I will admit that I have watched some Beach Volleyball, Misty May and Kerri Walsh are smoking there opponents. A piece of trivia for you, Misty May is married to crappy Flroida Marlins catcher Matt Traenor.

- I saw some rowing on TV last weekend, I spent the whole time hoping that the coaches that ride the bikes next to the river to cheer on thier teams would crash it has happened before. I guess it can be quite spectacular.

- Track and Field starts today, it is about time hopefully we can create some more distance between us and China. China is ridiculous this time around, they have been taking semi talented children from there homes for the last 10 years in anticipation of this olympics.

That is all I have for now.

Read more!

Manny's hair

I am hoping that someone out there can explain this to me, how is it that Manny was told to cut his hair by Joe Torre, he waited over two weeks and then came to the game yesterday with just over an an inch and half gone. How is this acceptable?

I think for being a smart ass Torre should make Manny really cut his hair, not just an inch and a half.

It would be really great if he had to wear that shirt as well.

Read more!

Pats Get Lynched

ESPN is reporting that the Pats have signed big hitting safety to a one year deal. I love this signing. Lynch is a 9 time probowler who is known for hitting the snot out of people. I doubt he has what it takes to play every down, but let's face it, we don't need him too. Tank Williams is out for the year, and Lynch can fill that role well.

Think about the options it give the Pats. You put him, Harrison, and Merriweather on the field at the same time, and the opposing QB will have not idea who the safeties are, or who has cornerback responsibilities. It's going to keep them guessing, which is what we want.

Best case scenario Lynch come in and pulls a Junior Seau. When Seau was signed a few years ago he was only meant to play on certain running downs, and thats it. But he showed up and worked his way into the starting rotation. Lynch could do the same thing....

Either way this is a great signing.

Ben Read more!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Again, Four Thoughts for Thursday

1) Gary Sheffield has cleared waivers. Granted, Sheff is past his prime and incredibly injury prone these days. And oh yeah, he has another year at $14M left on his contract. But if the Sox can get the Tigers to pay all of his salary this year and between $8-10M of it next year then wouldn't he be a nice little addition to the lineup?

I don't care what state he is in, Gary Sheffield is always a menacing presence when he steps up to the plate and with Mike Lowell on the 15 day DL and maybe out longer, adding some right-handed pop to the lineup would be much appreciated. This is nothing against Sean Casey, but Sheffield brings an intimidation factor to the lineup that Casey just doesn't. They could play him at times at first base while Lowell is out and at other times in the outfield - against tough lefties maybe? - to give Ellsbury and Drew some time off. Sheffield may not be what he once was, but he would slide very nicely into the five or six hole of the lineup. I know it's not the 2004 Gary Sheffield that the Sox would be getting but he sure would be an intriguing addition.

There is one red flag here, and that is the fact that he wants out of Detroit because he does not want to be a platoon player. Well in Detroit he really is not, but in Boston he most certainly would be for this year and next. He is Gary Sheffield though and I think Tito would find a way to get him into about 80% of the games moving forward this year and probably about 75% next year. Next year is tough though because the Sox have locked up each one of their starting positions for 2009 including DH with the exception of catcher. I still think he could get 450 ABs or so shuffling between first base and the corner outfield spots next year if he so chooses to take on that super-utility role. And let's be honest, at this stage in his career, that is the type of player that he is. He will not find his way - on any winning team at least - as an everyday starter next year.

If they were to pull the trigger on a deal for him - and I seriously doubt they will even with the Tigers picking up a good portion of the tab - they would need to run the playing time scenario by Sheffield, a notorious malcontent. If he says he is cool with it on account of his vocal desire of always wanting to play in Boston then giddyup. If not, then oh well.

2) One more Gary Sheffield thought that I don't think most people realize. He should be a Hall of Famer. Seriously. Over his 21 year career he has an OPS+ of 141. He will retire with 500+ HR, a batting average in the .290s, and 1700+ RBI. Most telling though is that of the ten most comparable players to him via, five are current Hall of Famers (Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Willie Stargell, Billy Williams, and Mike Schmidt) and the other five are recent or current players who are either a lock for the Hall of Fame (Ken Griffey Jr.), a near lock (Frank Thomas), very high-end borderline candidates (Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff), or a former lock who has disgraced himself (Sammy Sosa). Regardless, that is very impressive company.

3) The popular concern for the Patriots heading into training camp was the cornerback situation. Apparently, if you believe what the Globe's Mike Reiss has been reporting (and I do as he is for my money the best beat reporter by far covering any of the Boston teams) then this unit actually looks okay and has the potential to be much better than expected, buoyed by second round pick Terrence Wheatley and free agent pickup Fernando Bryant. The secondary may also add veteran John Lynch to the mix which I guess is a plus. If the Pats were ever to lineup Lynch and Rodney Harrison at safety at the same time they would certainly be one of the most intimidating units - from a hitting perspective - in the league. Unfortunately they would also probably be the oldest and coming from a defense that already features Teddy Bruschi, Harrison, and maybe Junior Seau I can't exactly say this is a good thing. Still, you can never have too much good secondary depth, especially now that free agent acquisition Tank Williams is gone for the year and from that standpoint I really think a Lynch signing would help.

And now comes the "but" from above. While the secondary has the potential to be better than expected, a rash of injuries on the O-line has the potential to ravage the season. With both Matt Light and Stephen Neal hurt and the looming OxyContin mess with Nick Kaczur, the Pats could be starting the season VERY under-manned in that department. That aint good folks. We saw what shaky O-line play could do in the Super Bowl and while that is an extreme example, no QB no matter how good can do what they want to do without protection. Let's remember the late Bledsoe Era when he spent most of his time (slowly) running for his life, taking sacks, and throwing bad picks. I'm not saying that is destined to happen but with the exceptions of a truly awful defense or a truly awful QB, nothing can sink a season like poor play from the offensive line. The first two are unlikely to happen so if the Pats are going to have a big Achillies Heal this year, more than likely the offensive line will take that title.

4) Just for fun, Jed Lowrie's 550 AB RBI pace is now up to 126 after 2 RBI in each of the last two games. Like I said, that number is really not sustainable seeing as he has a good but not spectacular .451 slugging percentage (comparable to Dustin Pedroia's .459 for reference). Still, it's fun to throw the RBI pace out there because it is so impressive. I really could not be happier about the Red Sox DP combination of the present and future in Pedroia and Lowrie.

Read more!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Can the C's Get Redz Back?

So this is of interest. The below is taken from a story by Chris Broussard on earlier reporting the Cavs acquisition of Bucks point guard, Mo Williams:

The acquisition of Williams may spell the end of Delonte West's brief tenure in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have been embroiled in contract talks with West, a free agent who became their starting point guard after being traded from Seattle last February.

I have said it a bunch of times before, but wouldn't Delonte West be the perfect backup for Rajon Rondo? He can run the point adequately - and better than Eddie House - and he can shoot, play defense, and rebound too. What is not to like? It always seemed like Delonte's best fit would be as a 20 minute a night backup on a good team and the Celtics right now are that team. Maybe West wants to start somewhere and if that is the case then I can't fault him too much, but if he wants to win, play decent minutes every night, and return to a city that he knows and where he was a crowd favorite just a year and a half ago then Boston has to be on his short-list. It's a fit for Delonte and it's a fit for the Celtics, so let's make this happen. Everybody wins.

Read more!

Fantasy Football

As we know, the Football season is fast approaching and with that comes Fantasy Football. In the interest of spicing up RootbeerandBacon over the football season I am starting a Fantasy Football legue for R&B writers and Fans. Let me know if you want in I think we will cap at 12 teams and already have about seven spots filled so leave a comment and let me know. Read more!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Things to Ponder While Not Playing Madden

1) You may have noticed that it has been a bit quiet around RBB lately. Well I can only speak for myself here, but there really is just not a lot to talk about. With that said, I plow on...

2) The Red Sox trudge on right now with three good starting pitchers. That is the good news. The bad news is that the rest of their rotation is filled out by Clay Bucholz who is bringing back memories of Jeff Suppan the way he has been getting shelled lately and ???? in place of Wakefield. While I endorse the idea of ???? being filled by AAA knuckleballer Charlie Zink, we really have zero idea how things will play out with him. Call it a hunch on my part but I think he'll do okay. If he can give six innings a start and only allow three runs or so then I say mission accomplished. If he somehow manages to channel Tim Wakefield's 1992 rookie campaign with the Pirates (8-1 over 13 starts with a 2.15 ERA and 1.21 WHIP) then awesome. I'm not saying that that should be expected, but a guy can dream right?

3) With the pitching staff in the state it currently finds itself, for the first time all year I think I can say that the Sox are actually missing Curt Schilling. Not once have I thought that all year, but now it would be pretty nice to rely on him instead of Clay Bucholz wouldn't it? I really, really like Clay but it just isn't working out for him right now and I don't know how much longer he can get the ball every fifth day. I'm not saying "cut the bum" and I'm not saying "trade the bum", I'm saying put the guy in the bullpen along with Justin Masterson where he can potentially the help the team more now and maybe rebuild some confidence for down the road. Clay Bucholz to the bullpen not withstanding, the real fun of having Schill on board right now would be the possibility of a Bartolo return and the Red Sox featuring the fattest back-end of the rotation in recorded history.

4) Manny v. Bay Update

Manny Ramirez on the Dodgers:

19/40 (.475), .543 OBP, 3 doubles, 4 HR, 13 RBI in 10 games

Team is 5-5

Jason Bay on the Red Sox:

14/43 (.326), .383 OBP, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 8 RBI in 10 games

Team is 7-3

Isn't this playing out pretty much exactly how we expected? Bay is doing pretty good, but not great. Manny is destroying the ball in LA. And the Red Sox have won seven of their ten games. Call me crazy but I think the last nugget is the most important.

5) Let's not go burying the Rays just yet on account of them losing their best player in Evan Longoria for three weeks and their third best player in Carl Crawford for most likely the season. Their front three in the rotation of Scott Kazmir/James Shield/Matt Garza are still excellent and they should be able to keep the team reasonably afloat for the - supposed - three weeks that Longoria will miss. I say supposed because the diagnosis of "fractured wrist" does not really seem like a three week injury to me. It seems like a lot more. I could be wrong though.

6) Yeah, Lester kind of sucked against the White Sox on Friday but he has earned a mulligan for that one on account of how steady he has been all year. But the real story is the fact that you HAVE to feel a lot better right now than you did a few weeks ago about the Sox front three after Beckett and Dice-K's dominating performances over the weekend. I at least kind of always felt like Beckett would right himself but I was always a little less than certain on Dice-K. Well since his first post-DL start against St. Louis when he got bombed he has given up just six earned runs in seven starts - throwing out his stinker against the Angels. Very nice. I know it's easy to cherry-pick and toss out the one bad outing but the whole team played so poorly in both of those Angels series which also came while the Manny situation was reaching it's apex that I am choosing to give everyone a pass there.

7) In reading a Jayson Stark MVP chat on on Monday, he brought up something that had never really crossed my mind; Kevin Youkilis as an MVP candidate. While he did not say that Youkilis was a front-runner for the award, he did mention that he should be in the conversation. If you are wondering, the debate was between Carlos Quentin of the White Sox and Josh Hamilton of the Rangers.

Having never thought about Youkilis as an MVP I had not really given consideration to his merits. So I did some digging and learned that currently he is in the top 10 in the AL in OBP, SLG, RBI, AVG, and is tied for 14th in homers. He should be able to crack the HR top ten however because two of the guys ahead of him - Manny Ramirez and Evan Longoria - will be easy marks to pass for obvious reasons and if he can pass those two who are 1 HR and 2 HR ahead of him respectively, he'll crack that list. Long story short, Kevin Youkilis will probably finish the year in the top ten in the league in all three triple crown categories. Pretty good and I will admit a TON more than I anticipated.

Now, before going on a whole Youkilis for MVP mission, consider that Carlos Quentin has far more HR and RBI than Youklis (32 to 20 and 90 to 76 respectively), a higher OPS (.947 to .934), and has scored more runs for whatever that is worth (82 to 70). Youkilis has Quentin in doubles (29 to 21), triples (4 to 1) and batting average (.315 to .284). So yes, Kevin Youkilis is having a great season and definitely the Red Sox MVP to date (with Pedroia and JD Drew not too far behind) but no he is not the AL's. Still, a top 5 finish for Youk - which seems likely and possible - is still a great season for the guy and he deserves I think more recognition than he is receiving.

8) The whole Jed Lowrie Experience is working out pretty well huh? Right now it seems that the only rational next step to take with Julio Lugo is to employ him as an extremely expensive backup and then let him take over Alex Cora's role next year. What impresses me most about Lowrie is how he seems to rise to the occasion time and again. Right now he has 24 RBI in 114 AB. Say what you will about RBI - they are too team dependant, not sustainable, etc - but the clip that Lowrie is playing at right now would work itself out to 114 RBI over 550 ABs or roughly a full season. It's not like he is really playing over his head either as a .281/.344/.421/.765 line seems about right and what we would expect. Again, the RBI pace is probably not sustainable but if you are asking me if Jed Lowrie is on the short list of Sox right now that I would want up in a big spot, my answer is a strong and confident, "YES".

9) Call me crazy, but I would really enjoy a third act of Employee Number 8 in Boston. Couldn't he handle the PJ Brown role? He always seemed to enjoy passing so he couldn't be any worse of a ball-hog than Sam Cassell. And finally, wouldn't it just be fitting? Come on folks, let's get a groundswell going for the return of Antoine. If they stick him towards the end of the bench, pay him the veteran's minimum, and institute a strict "no shooting threes" rule I think it would work out okay. I'm not going to lie, I would LOVE IT if this could happen.

10) Paul Byrd eh....why not? Like most junk-ballers, he can either be on or off, without much middle-ground. With the state of their rotation as it is today I see this as a low risk proposition. It could work out okay or it could blow up in their face with Byrd getting shelled a few times, but regardless I am sure they are not giving up much and this certainly addresses a need for them at the moment.

It's kind of ironic that Paul Byrd is winding up on the Sox seeing as the SF Chronicle broke a huge story about him receiving HGH the day of Game 7 of the 2007 ALCS. The timing there could not have been worse. I'm not saying the distraction brought upon his team via this story was the reason Cleveland lost to the Sox last year, but it sure didn't help. Anyway, he's our HGH user now.

11) And finally, my wife started a new job a few weeks ago. The only reason I say this is because one of her co-workers is Big Z, Zydrunas Ilgaskus' sister. Apparently she is very tall (no surprise) and beautiful (big surprise). Beyond the fact that I think this is kind of funny and the odds of me one day meeting Big Z and hanging with his entourage have now slightly increased, I really say this because armed with this piece of information I decided to look up how much money he has made in his NBA career. I knew it was a lot but I was floored when I saw the true details. Big Z has made about $102M. Or about $17M more than Paul Pierce has made in his career. $102 M for Big Z. Crazy right? It really does pay to be an NBA seven-footer with an above average skill-set.
Read more!

Happy Madden Day!

So the Olympics are in full swing, the Patriots are getting into the swing of things with one preseason game down and three more to go, and the Red Sox have been ok and things for them might be looking up with two of Tampa’s best players hitting the DL. Of course none of those things matter, at least not for today, because today is the day that Madden 2009 comes out.

This is particularly exciting for me as I have not been able to buy and play the best version of Madden for quite a while, as I have a Wii and before that a regular Xbox. But several months ago I purchased my own XBOX 360 and I am now ready to play Madden the way it is meant to be played in HD with surround sound.

Now to there are some critics of Madden out there who say that there are no differences from year to year except for the players. I beg to differ and this year is example of no big changes but plenty of small ones that will be appreciated by serious gamers.

- The first big change is the addition of My Skill, this allows the computer to adjust the AI each game depending on your past performance. A big problem with Madden for me has always been that I get good then no one can touch me, and the game becomes less interesting.
- In the game play they have added slide protection, formation subs on the fly and rivalry games. I have always enjoyed the rivalry games on NCAA so I am excited to see this feature.
- They have improved the animation for both catching and juking. This is key because when you watch a replay it can be frustrating to see up close how awful the receiver looked and how it real life the ball would have bounced off his helmet.
- They hired away the designer of one of the NBA street games and he upped the animation of things like rain, snow and even the grass, it will be that much better on my plasma.
- They have added Madden Moments, which is a scenario from last season that they have you either duplicate or approve upon. They have had things like this in the past so I am not sure why it is being touted as a new feature.

So I will be picking up my copy from the North Beverly Gamestop at around noon today. I reserved my copy when I picked up NCAA 2009. I will give you a review after I have actually played it, I have challenged fellow R&B writer Ben to a game that hopefully we will both post about, we are giving each other some practice time and limiting ourselves to the crappy teams i.e. the Chiefs, the Dolphins, the Raiders etc. That is all for now.
Read more!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

4 Thoughts for the 4th Day of the Week

1) If I was in-market, I'd probably try and catch the Pats preseason opener. Or at least the first few series while the starters were in. I'm in DC though so I'll miss it. Oh well. Wait a minute! They are playing the Ravens and I just checked and the game will be on our answer down here to NESN, MASN. Sweet!! (That's the Peter Angelos owned Mid-Atlantic Sports Network for those of you who may be curious.)

2) Other than the Pats having a chance to beat up on Old Man Favre and watch him throw some inexplicable picks twice this year I think the best thing about him landing in the AFC East is that now there is a man in the division even more unlikable - from a fan's standpoint at least - on a national stage than Bill Belichek. Sure he'll always have the Peter King's of the world on his jock but I have not talked to a single person this offseason who does not pretty much think the guy is an asshole and wishes that he would just go away.

3) So the Sox are making a move to claim Brian Giles off of waivers eh? Sign me up for an endorsement there. While Giles is not the player he was during his prime in Pittsburgh (OPS+ of 156, 157, 150, 177, 145 between 1999-2003) he still is a very capable hitter. This year, calling the most extreme pitcher's park in MLB, Petco Field home he has a 124 OPS+ and is hitting .296 with a .391 OBP. While he does not hit for much power these days (only 6 HR to date), he still does obviously hit and get on base very well. Granted, I have no idea where they'd play him and he seems to be an insurance policy if Mike Lowell's a little more hurt than he lets on or Papi aggravates his wrist but I guess the logical answer would be that they would move him to first and Youkilis to third. Actually that answer really isn't obvious considering that Giles has been a corner outfielder for the bulk of his career, I'm just not sure where they would fit him in the scheme of things. I know their outfield is a bit undermanned since Brandon Moss left but Giles would require more PT than Moss - and I'd say Coco too for that matter - so I'm just not exactly sure where he fits. He also puts a bit of squeeze on Sean Casey's playing time if in fact he is going to be used at first.

Reading between the lines here though, I'd take this move as a sign that the team may still be a little worried about David Ortiz' wrist. He's been back for almost two weeks now and has just 1 HR to show for it. Of course I could be wrong though. Regardless, I love the idea of picking up a quality and patient hitter to add to their team some how, some way. It may be a bit tough to find at-bats for him moving forward but I think Tito can do it.

As for what they have to give up, well I have no idea. My guess is that they just need to pickup the balance of his salary and throw one low-level prospect into the deal to make it work for the Padres as it seems like a salary dump to me. There is also a club option for $11M on Giles' contract for next year and I'm sure the Red Sox won't pick that up. So considering that all the Red Sox conceivably have to give up for a full time player with an OBP near .400 is just some money and a low-level prospect? Again, sign me up.

4) Color me very curious to see how this weekend series against the White Sox turns out. The Sox have been absolute trash on the road all year, and extra awful against good teams. Therefore this four game set in Chicago against the first place White Sox will go a long way towards telling if the team really has fixed itself (relatively speaking) or if the 5-1 mark post-Manny is just a reflection of playing the Royals and A's. To be honest, I'd be content with a split. Read more!


So as Ben has already touched on Brett Favre is a New York Jet, I am trying to think of how that should scare me as a Patriots fan. HMMMMM thinking Hmmm thinking, I got nothing, absolutely nothing scares me about this move by the Jets. The last time that the Pat’s played him was in Green Bay on November 19, 2006. We won that game, what was the score you may ask, 35-0. Favre didn’t play that long after he hurt his elbow, he ended the game 5 for 15, with 73 yards.

Welcome to the AFC East Brett, instead of getting your ass kicked by the Patriots once every four years, you get to see us twice. Including week 2 when the coach will pound you while you are still trying to learn the mangenious’s offense. The best thing is the coach won’t do it because of Favre he will do it because of his complete and utter hatred of Mangini and the Jets in general.

If nothing else I am thrilled that he is a Jet, because I am tired of this will he or won’t he, should he be a Viking blah blah blah. The Packers mishandled this, and so did Favre, and now the Packers are getting back at him, they could have sent him the Vikings where he could have competed for a Super Bowl Berth, or to Tampa Bay where he would have at least had a shot at the playoff. Instead he is headed to the AFC east to he will have to face the defending coach of the year, the defending MVP, the defending, AFC Champs, twice a year. Welcome to the East Coast Favre. Read more!

Welcome to the AFC east Mr. Favre, We Hope You Enjoy Competing For Second Place.

Late last night Brett Favre became a Jet, a New York team that does not play in New York. He should find it refreshing to play in a larger market, and in a region with somewhat better weather. But, it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the other things that will come along with playing in the AFC east.

First, he is now the QB for a team that has been rebuilding for the last two decades or so. He is playing for a team that allowed Coles to leave in free agency only to trade for him a year later. Perhaps more importantly he is playing for a team that loves to draft kickers. Okay, enough making fun of the Jets... for now. but still this is a team that has had a tough couple of seasons, and made every attempt to sign every single free agent on the market this offseason. Honestly, I think that they did a fantastic job addressing their three biggest needs. The shored up the line on both sides of the balls through signing Damion Woody, Alan Faneca and trading for Kris Jenkins and drafting Vernon Gholston. Now, they have traded for an outstanding quarterback who can come right in and replace that guy with the tear away shoulder. Still, none of these guys have played together, some are new, some are coming from a different conference. Favre has managed to give himself the label of a primadonna, so he may have some trouble leading this team right off the bat. If they gel, they could end up going from the bottom of the barrell to...second place.

Which leads me to my next point; Favre is going to have to transition for being teh quarterback of the best team in his division by far, to being the quarterback of a team that best case scenario will be a distant second in the division. The Patriots won the division by nine games last year, and look to have actually improved many parts of their team going into the fist preseason game tonight.

Can Favre get used to not being the powerhouse in a subpar division? Can he lead a relatively new team? Will he adjust to playing in a huge market? Lot's o' questions.... Read more!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

K-Rod for Cy Young...No Thanks

There seems to be a strong likelihood right now that Francisco Rodriguez is going to set the single season saves record, surpassing the 57 set by Bobby Thigpen in 1990. Considering the fact that Rodriguez currently needs just 13 saves in his team's final 50 games to break this record I'd say he has a pretty good chance of achieving this feet. By no means is this a gimme - he would need to put forth a 42 save a year pace through the end of the season - but still I think the chances are quite good. His team after all has the best record in baseball at 70-42 but has done this with a run differential of "just" +47. This tells me - along with the fact that Rodriguez already has 45 saves - that they play in and win a lot of close games. As a point of reference, that +47 run differential is one worse than the 66-45 Rays, 4 worse than the 61-51 Yankees, and 48 worse than the 64-49 Red Sox.

So, what does this have to do with anything?

Well resident BBTN genius, John Kruk is now apparently putting forth the "K-Rod for Cy Young" argument on account of his lofty and potentially record-setting save totals. This should not be all that shocking really though as Kruk lobbied for Russ Ortiz as a 2003 NL Cy Young candidate after he lead the league in wins with 21 despite having a pedestrian 3.81 ERA and 1.31 WHIP and striking out just 149 batters in 212.1 innings. Ignore the wins, and you have a solidly, slightly above average pitcher right there. Of course ironically enough, the NL Cy Young that year went to a different closer, Eric Gagne.

In Gagne's defense however he was pretty amazing that year beyond his 55 saves. While that number may excite some, I am astounded by his 137 strikeouts in 82 innings, his 1.20 ERA and his 0.69 WHIP. I am normally against closers winning the Cy Young, but in a down year for starting pitcher candidates then a closer who posts numbers like Gagne's certainly needs to be in the discussion seriously. Obviously Gagne was that year and he won the award running away by scoring 28 of 32 possible first place votes with two each going to Jason Schmidt and Mark Prior who did not have bad years themselves. In hindsight you could probably even make a case for each of those guys over Gagne, but in 2003, during his crazy saves streak, there was no stopping the Eric Gagne Hype Machine. For the record, Schmidt went 17-5 with a 2.34 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 208 K's in 208 IP while Prior went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 245 K's in 211 IP. I'm a sucker for K's so my vote probably goes to Prior there, but whatever.

Of course the ironic postscript to that little sidebar is that Gagne was able to achieve that dominance thanks to steroids and now both Jason Schmidt and Mark Prior's careers have been pretty much ruined by injuries.

Back to my main point though and that is whether or not Francisco Rodriguez should even be in the running for Cy Young. My answer is unequivocally, "NO" and the reason for that is that if you take away the frivolous stat of "saves" he is not even the best American League closer this year. Actually, he's really not even that close.

Here is what I did.

I looked up all the AL closers who have pitched roughly the same amount of innings as Rodriguez. Here, I found 8 other pitchers who fit the criteria. I then looked at five, what I would deem more telling categories than saves for dominance and value to a team. I scored each pitcher a number between 1-8 for each category depending on where they ranked versus their peers in the group. If they were the best they received a "1" for the category, if they were second best they received a "2" and so on. Below I have the results for each category and pitcher. Keep in mind, the lower, the better.

The Pitchers and Their Stats (after all 8/4/08 games):

Francisco Rodriguez - LAA (48.2 IP, 51 K, 2.40 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .189 BAA)

Joakim Soria - KC (51.2 IP, 54 K, 1.57 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, .189 BAA)

Jonathan Papelbon - BOS (48.1 IP, 57 K, 2.05 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, .200 BAA)

Joe Nathan - MIN (45.2 IP, 49 K, 1.18 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, .185 BAA)

George Sherrill - BAL (46.1 IP, 50 K, 4.27 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, .237 BAA)

Mariano Rivera - NYY (48.1 IP, 58 K, 1.49 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, .178 BAA)

CJ Wilson - TX (46 IP, 40 K, 5.28 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, .265 BAA)

Huston Street - OAK (48.2 IP, 47 K, 3.88 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .237 BAA)

The Categories:

Innings Pitched
Batting Average Against

The Results:

Joakim Soria - 10 pts (1 IP, 3 K, 3, ERA, 2 WHIP, 1 BAA)

Mariano Rivera - 10.5 pts (4.5 IP, 1 K, 2 ERA, 1 WHIP, 2 BAA)

Jonathan Papelbon - 18.5 pts (4.5 IP, 2 K, 4 ERA, 3 WHIP, 5 BAA)

Francisco Rodriguez - 21.5 (2.5 IP, 4 K, 5 ERA, 6 WHIP, 4 BAA)

Joe Nathan - 22 points (8 IP, 6 K, 1 ERA, 4 WHIP, 3 BAA)

Huston Street - 26.5 points (2.5 IP, 7 K, 6 ERA, 5 WHIP, 6 BAA)

George Sherrill - 31 points (6 IP, 5 K, 7 ERA, 7 WHIP, 6 BAA)

CJ Wilson - 39 points (7 IP, 8 K, 8 ERA, 8 WHIP, 8 BAA)

So, what has all this taught us? Well, of the eight closers with roughly the same amount of innings as K-Rod, he is the fourth or fifth best and clearly in the second tier of them with Papelbon and Nathan and behind the undisputed two best of the lot in the AL to date, Joakim Soria and Mo Rivera. If Rodriguez was at least in the discussion about best AL closers of 2008 then maybe I could wrap my head around him being pushed for a big postseason award if he were to reach some gaudy save total like "60". He clearly is not though. To win the Cy Young, you are supposed to be the American League's best pitcher, and Rodriguez is not even his league's best closer.
Read more!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Few Thoughts on Monday

1) So far, so good with Jason Bay right? With three in KC next on the schedule, we could be looking at a six-for-six start. Then, if they can manage at least a split in Chicago, where they always seem to struggle we could be headed for an 8-2 or maybe 7-3 first ten days of the Jason Bay Era. I'll take that.

2) Now that Jed Lowrie has proven a capable and decent major league player, might it be time to bump him up to the two-hole? He seems a better fit there than the bottom of the lineup and with that they can move Youkilis into the cleanup spot after Papi and put Lowell seventh. No knock on Mike Lowell with that demotion, it just makes the lineup a whole lot deeper. What do you think about going Pedroia, Lowrie, Papi, Youk, Bay, Drew, Lowell, Varitek, Ellsbury?

3) I'm not a big Team USA hoops guy but I saw on this morning that Jason Kidd got benched in the second half of their game against Russia in favor of Chris Paul. At this moment, I see absolutely no reason why Jason Kidd should be receiving playing time over Chris Paul under any circumstances except in the cases of blowouts. Isn't the big thing with this team that we are going to take back the Gold for America? And if that is the case, shouldn't the team be relying on I don't know, the best point guard in the NBA instead of an aging superstar? I'd understand it if Chris Paul was a shoot-first point guard but he is not. He lead the NBA in assists last year. So why then would you play Kidd over Paul for any other reason than Kidd is the longtime, superstar veteran who has "earned it". Kidd very much has "earned" a spot on the team thanks to all he has achieved in a Hall of Fame career, but if the goal of the team is to actually win the Gold Medal as opposed to playing with the biggest and most famous names of the past ten to fifteen years then Kidd should only be seeing the court during mopup duty while most of the point gaurding should be done by Paul and also Deron Williams.

4) I always thought it did not get any worse than the man-child, loser Red Sox fan as portrayed by Jimmy Fallon in the insufferable Fever Pitch. But now I am seeing these Brett Favre lunatics in Green Bay and all of a sudden I feel like patheticness is getting redefined. Fallon's character was a Hollywood created caricature. He was a tool and he was annoying but you could see some semblances of some actual Sox fans in there, just in an over-exaggerated and obnoxious portrayal. But these Packers fans...I mean these people are real. They stage rallies to let Favre come back, and cheer his arrival back to Green Bay on a private jet, and wave signs in homage of him. Can they get a life please? I mean seriously. This is a guy that has the exact record in Super Bowls as Kurt Warner and who last got there over 10 years ago. What am I missing? I know he is BRETT FAVRE and all that, but seriously. Get a life. The guy is not THAT good. What do I think of when I think of Brett Favre? I think of the guy with a penchant for throwing awful interceptions at the worst possible time and I think of a guy who is a royal pain in the ass and now I think of a guy who has inspired a legion of wingnut fans who are embarassments to themselves and who if they don't watch may one day find themselves looking on screen at a Jimmy Fallon type portraying them in a wretched movie.

5) And if you care, here are my top 21 guys for Fantasy Football. I'd go deeper than this with sleepers and such but I have not given enough thought to them yet. I have the first pick in the big league that I am doing this year so I've really been studying how I think the top 20 will play out and who I will take with my 2nd and 3rd round picks (picks 20 & 21). Keep in mind these rankings are for the league that I am doing where all touchdowns are created equal AKA 6 points for a TD regardless of who amasses it. Therefore, a QB is of the utmost importance.

Without further ado....

1) Ladanian Tomlinson
2) Adrian Peterson
3) Brian Westbrook
4) Joseph Addai
5) Steven Jackson
6) Tom Brady
7) Clinton Portis
8) Larry Johnson
9) Marion Barber
10) Peyton Manning
11) Frank Gore
12) Ryan Grant
13) Randy Moss
14) Marshawn Lynch
15) Braylon Edwards
16) Drew Brees
17) Willis McGahee
18) Maurice Jones Drew
19) Tony Romo
20) T.O.
21) Reggie Wayne

So what do I want to do?

Despite hating the guy, I am 100% taking Tomlinson with my first pick, assuming health of course. After that it is kind of crap-shoot. If Drew Brees is on the board when I pick, I'd probably grab him but I doubt he will be. I am still not sold on Tony Romo either. With that being said, if Brees and Edwards are still around, I'd probably take both of them at 20 and 21 and then take the best remaining WR and RB at 40 and 41 with my next picks. Figuring that a Reggie Bush could still potentially be around later. However if Brees is off the board then I'm taking the best remaining WR and the best RB and then holding out for a QB until the slightly later rounds. Depending on how things go, I may grab one at 40, 41 or if not there then 60, 61. I'm not really sure why you would care about this, but it at least helped me get my strategy on paper.
Read more!

Weekend in Review

It was a light sports weekend for me, I of course watched the Red Sox games, and I caught Sportscenter blowing the Manny in a Dodgers uniform out of proportion, but other than that there was a whole lot going on but here is what I have from the first weekend in August.

- I love Jason Bay, I don't care how many reporters give us a bad grade on this trade I think it was perfect. He fits in well witht he whole attitude of the team, he is a hard worker, he hustles, he walks, and so far he has played a significant better Left Field than Manny ever did.

- Manny came out of the gate swinging in LA, and even anounced that he would like to stay in LA for the rest of his career. They can have him, they seem to be the haven for crazy former Red Sox fans who didn't like the stress of Boston, and love being nobodies in LA. Derek Lowe of course is the prime example since he is Bat Shit Crazy in my eyes.

- Paul Pierce got put into handcuffs in LA this weekend. Thankfully he was not driving drunk, was not arrested wasn't even given a ticket, and seemed to be smart enough to calm down and parked his car for the night after the incident.

- We have the first preseason game on Thursday it will be interesting to see how th CB since apparently any of the 20 that we have on the roster right now could end up being the starter.

- The xgames were this weekend, I will be honest I did see some of it, you can say what you want about them but they are all pretty spectacular athletes.

- Olympic games start Friday, who would have guessed that the Chinese would have ended up regulating the press and restricting Web access, I mean they promised to be good for the two weeks of the Olympics, we had to believe them right?

- Brett Favre is back, who the hell cares I am sick of reading, or hearing about him.

- Futures at Fenway is coming back this year, and I will be there for my Bachelor Party so it should be pretty exciting especially since it is described as a family day at the park.

So that is about it for now, see ya.
Read more!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Manny Aftermath

have to chime in on the Manny trade. No, I'm not going to offer any analysis simply because my view of the trade is right in line with everybody else's whom I have talked to. To put it plainly:

A) It had to be done. Clearly the organization had tired of Manny and it was for the best for all parties for him to move on.

B) The Red Sox lineup is obviously better with Manny Ramirez than Jason Bay but the Red Sox team is probably better with Bay.

C) More than likely the Red Sox were not winning anything this year as presently constructed at the beginning of the day on 7/31/08. Some of that had to do with the Manny sideshow. Some of it had to do with the fact that they are a flawed team - bad bullpen, Josh Beckett reverting to 2006 form, and a blackhole at the bottom of the order. Moving Manny alleviated some of that problem. Now, either they are galvanized by this move or they fall short of the playoffs because they traded the centerpiece of their lineup. It could easily go either way.

D) Maybe they gave up kind of a lot. Paying Manny's salary plus Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss? Whatever. That money to Manny is not coming out of my pocket so I could really care less, losing Craig Hansen is addition by subtraction in my book, and Brandon Moss probably never would have moved beyond fourth outfielder status on the Big Club anyway. Were they fleeced a bit? Probably some, but they were pushing deadline and HAD to get the deal completed so if it took a Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen then so be it.

Now, some things I have heard about this deal....

1) I was emailing back and forth with a sales rep I do a lot of work with in NYC. He's a huge Yankees fan. He was ecstatic. If I were in his shoes, I'd feel the same way.

2) Another common refrain I have heard is, "I think Big Papi will really be hurt by not having Manny behind him in the lineup". That sounds good in theory but if you look at the actual numbers, they really do not bear that out.

Consider this:

Over the last two Septembers - of '06 and '07 - Manny played in a grand total of 13 games (7 in '06 and 6 in '07). During that same time span, David Ortiz played in 48 games (22 in '06 and 26 in '07). From that you can see that David Ortiz logged steady time without Manny in both of those months and played in 35 more games over the last two Septembers. And what are Ortiz' numbers over those two Septembers?

In 2006 - .292/.480/.667 with 7 HR and 16 RBI

In 2007 - .396/.517/.824 with 9 HR and 27 RBI

Enough said right? Yes his walks were up in both years without Manny behind him as he walked more in September than he did in any other month in both years, but I'll take an OBP of around .500 anytime. And when he did hit....I don't think I need to explain how incredible the above numbers are. Those are some early 2000's Barry Bonds type numbers there.

Long story short, let's not go writing Big Papi's obit just because he lost Manny Ramirez hitting behind him.

3) The drop off from Manny Ramirez to Jason Bay is not as dramatic as one may think on account of Bay's OPS+ of 135 compared to Manny's OPS+ of 140. Not a huge difference there right? Well right at face value, but when you consider that OPS+ represents the percentage above league average, that says that Manny is roughly 5% better than Jason Bay. 5% would be a small number in dealing with an average around 100 or so but when the league average is around 800, that number will obviously be magnified. How much?

Manny's OPS this year is currently .926. Jason Bay clocks in at .894. That difference of .32 points of OPS is large but not catastrophic. Bay will now slide into being third on the Red Sox in OPS behind JD Drew and Kevin Youkilis. Manny was second. So yes the team takes a hit there. Not a huge hit, but not a small one either.

4) My Jason Bay Story

Heading into the fantasy draft for my keeper league in 2006, the roughly ten best offensive players were off the board and "kept" for 2006. These players were A-Rod, Pujols, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Vlad Guerrerro, Manny, Miguel Tejada, and Michael Young. That list may look weird but you have to consider the positions they play, their 2005 seasons, and also what owner had what players. Regardless though, the above is not important.

What is important is that going into the draft there was a consensus first overall pick in Mark Texiera, a consensus second overall pick in David Ortiz, and then there was a scrum of players at 3 through 6 who all were relatively equal heading into the season. These players were Chase Utley, Carl Crawford, Jason Bay, and Miguel Cabrera. I sat at 6 that year and figured to get whomever was left of those four. I wanted Crawford or Bay and I got "stuck" with Miguel Cabrera. I say "stuck" because it felt that way at the time, but of those four guys, Cabrera turned out to easily be the second best of the group after Chase Utley.

So why was I so hot on Jason Bay? For starters, he was coming off of a .306/32/101 season where he scored 110 runs and stole 21 bases on top of that. That's a nice five tool player right there. In addition, Brandon Funston wrote an article on the Yahoo Fantasy Page entitled "Draft Day Dilemma: Bay vs. Abreu". For whatever reason, this article stayed up on the Fantasy Main Page for what seemed like an eternity in the spring of 2006 so whenever I went to our league site I saw this article and it stoked my flames for Bay even more. I wanted Jason Bay to fall to me and while I doubted he would, I was really hoping and praying. Well not praying. And that is why I said earlier I felt I got "stuck" with Miguel Cabrera.

Looking back, that whole scenario taught me a very important lesson about fantasy which is that if you are torn between a "boring" lock and an iffy new and exciting player, it's normally best to go with the lock. In 2005, Bay was coming off of a year - his second in the bigs - where he hit .306/32/101 with 110 RS and 21 SB. Cabrera was coming off of a year - his third year in the bigs - where he hit .323/33/116 and scored 106 runs but only had 1 steal. It's easy to see how Bay would be enticing but Cabrera was definitely the more know and surefire commodity at the time. Bay did not have an awful 2006 season (.285/36/109) but he wound up the 45th ranked player in Yahoo as opposed to Cabrera who wound up 16th. Has Bay approached his 2005 levels since then? Simply put, no.

So what is the whole point of this story? I have no idea. It's just that whenever I think of Jason Bay I think of that whole draft saga and especially the "Draft Day Dilemma: Bay vs. Abreu" article so I just find it funny that he is now on the Red Sox.
Read more!

He's Your Problem Now Joe

So Manny is gone, I was all pumped up that I was going to do a big post about it last night after it was finally announced who was going where. Then I started to think about it, I watched Baseball Tonight, and I read and, and I listened to WEEI. Almost every writer and I have read said we were the losers in the trade, and on paper it really is hard to argue with that logic. We are not as good as we were a day ago but even if they don't win the World Series I think they won yesterday and here are my reasons why.

- Everyone talked about how we traded away a Hall of Fame hitter and we did not get one in return. I will agree that Manny will someday stumble his way into the Hall of Fame and probably make some kind of jackass speech, but he is not a Hall of Fame player anymore. He has not hit over .300 in two years, his home run total has dropped every year for the last three years, he is an adventure in Left Field, and they always said he had great baseball knowledge how is that true he never seemed to know how many outs there were or where he was supposed to throw it. He is a Hall of Famer but that does not mean he is still playing like one.

- This trade was about Chemistry, it was about 23 guys(1 guy apparently wanted him to say, all signs point to the human blackhole we overpay to play shortstop) who could not deal with his drama anymore, it is about a manager who has had to babysit a 36 year old man for the last 4 months, it is about the player who was so fed up with Manny's antics that he leaked the story about him pushing the traveling secretary, and it is about Big Papi who finally admitted he didn't like speaking for Manny anymore. You watch the Sox could pick it up now, Bay is a hustler just like Youk, and Lowell, and he will fit right in and will be a good replacement on the field and a great replacement in the dugout.

- Let's all be honest it was either now or October, Manny was not going to stay here, he couldn't deal with the stress anymore, he couldn't deal with management actually wanting him to play to earn his 20 million dollars.

- Everyone also says that we lost 2 first round draft picks because of Manny being traded. I would just like to point out that would have been only if we offered him salary arbitration and he rejected it. If Manny is a free agent and no one wanted him cause he is a head case then we would have been on the hook for him again anyways.

- This isn't a point about how they won, it is a fact Scott Boras is a horses ass and 98% this whole issue can probably be attributed solely to him.

So there are my reasons I think we won, Manny was a Cancer in the clubhouse just like Nomar was before him. This is for the best whether they win another world series or not. He is Joe Torre's problem now.
Read more!