January 10, 2015

Farrell Offers Early Peek At Possible 2015 Lineup

John Farrell spoke last week about his possible lineup when the season begins on April 6.

It would look something like this:
1. Mookie Betts/Brock Holt
2. Dustin Pedroia
3. David Ortiz
4. Hanley Ramirez
5. Pablo Sandoval
6. Mike Napoli
7. Xander Bogaerts
8. Outfielder (Rusney Castillo/Shane Victorino/Daniel Nava/Allen Craig)
9. Christian Vazquez
Farrell:
The one thing that clearly stands out is we have balance left- and right-handed. I have always liked David in the No. 3 hole. You know he is going to come up in the first inning. I think Hanley gives David some protection behind him. Then you start to create some protection, and we want to keep Sandoval on the left side of the plate as much as possible - so if you sandwich him in between Ramirez and Napoli, you start to have a formidable middle of the order where you're going left-right-left-right all the way through there. ...

I think what Mookie showed in the time that he was in the leadoff spot was very encouraging. His on-base skills have been consistent at every level through the minor leagues. It was the same when he came to Boston. Brock Holt is another guy that could fit into that spot when he is in the lineup on a given day.

Schilling Opens Mouth, Embarrasses Himself Once Again

Curt Schilling believes his Hall of Fame candidacy has suffered because of his conservative beliefs and statements.

In the three years he has been on the ballot, Schilling has received 38.8% (2013), 29.2% (2014), and 39.2% (2015), far below the necessary 75% for induction.

Putting aside the issue of whether Curt Schilling is a Hall of Fame pitcher, his opinion caught my ear, because I've never thought of mainstream sportswriters as flaming liberals.

Speaking on WEEI, Schilling commented on John Smoltz's strong support:
I think he got in because of [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine. I think the fact that they won 14 straight pennants. I think his "Swiss army knife versatility," which somebody said yesterday, I think he got a lot of accolades for that, I think he got a lot of recognition for that. He's a Hall of Famer. And I think the other big thing is that I think he's a Democrat and so I know that, as a Republican, that there's some people that really don't like that. ... Listen, when human beings do something, anything, there's bias and prejudice. ... I do know that there are guys who probably won't ever vote for me because of the things that I said or did. That's the way it works.
Craig Calcaterra of HardballTalk sets the record straight with something entirely foreign to Schilling - facts:
For the record, Smoltz is not a Democrat. He has been reported to be "an avowed Republican," and has been courted for political office in the past by the Republican party. Here are Smoltz's political contribution records. Note the little "Rs" next to the candidates names. Oh, and Smoltz once compared gay marriage to beastiality, which tends not to be a pinko-liberal stance.
And, right on cue, Schilling now says he was only joking, tweeting:
Ok, let me be very clear. If you didn't hear or see any of it, you are relying on some idiots to report a joke as fact. Reliable sources....
You can listen to the interview here. He is not making jokes. Schilling is, yet again, full of shit.

January 6, 2015

Pedro Martinez Elected To Hall Of Fame

Pedro Martinez - who put together two back-to-back seasons more impressive than any other pitcher in major league history (1999-2000) - was elected this afternoon to baseball's Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Martinez - an 18-year veteran who pitched for seven years in Boston, including the magical 2004 season - received 91.1% of the votes (500 of 549) cast.

Martinez posted ERA+s of 243 and 291, respectively, in those seasons with the Red Sox. Those marks rank #9 and #1 all-time. ... ESPN posted pictures from "10 of Pedro's most memorable moments in a Red Sox uniform" and eight of them were from 1999 or 2000. ... Over The Monster picked Pedro's 5 greatest Red Sox games.

Inducted along with Martinez were Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio.

Jayson Stark, while writing about his HoF ballot, shared this about Martinez:
The most seasons with an adjusted ERA-plus of 200 or better of any starting pitcher in history - with five, one more than Walter Johnson. ... The fifth-greatest WHIP of all time (1.05). ... The sixth-best winning percentage ever (219-100, .687). ... A seven-year peak, as computed by the great Hall of Fame historian Jay Jaffe, that tops Maddux, Bob Feller or Koufax and ranks sixth in the entire live-ball era, behind only Clemens, Grove, Johnson, Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver. ... And, finally, there's this amazing stat, delivered by Lee Sinins' Complete Baseball Encyclopedia: Pedro's career ERA, over his 18 seasons from 1992 to 2009, was an unbelievable 2.93, at a time when the ERA of the average starter in the same period was 4.49. So that computes to an ERA that was more than a run and a half lower than the league average. And how many other pitchers in history, who pitched as many innings as he pitched, have ever had a larger differential? Yessir. Nobody.
Here is something I wrote back in June 2006, when Pedro was about to make his return to Fenway Park, as a member of the Mets:
Where would the Red Sox have been if Pedro Martinez had stayed in Montreal? How much different would those seven years - 1998-2004 - have been? If Pedro is not in Boston, does Manny agree to leave Cleveland? Does Keith Foulke sign? Does Curt Schilling agree to a trade/contract extension? Does David Ortiz agree to stay?

The fans loved him immediately. His first start at Fenway - his third start in 1998 - was a two-hit, complete game shutout. Right away, there were chants and fans waving signs and Dominican flags. Pedro soaked up all the adulation and gave it right back. He was never shy about his love and respect for the city and its fans. He loved pitching in Boston as much as we loved having him in our uniform. And when he wasn't cold-blooded on the mound, demanding your constant attention, he was dancing on the bench, being taped to a dugout pole, simply enjoying himself.

We were spoiled. Martinez pitched so well, for so long, that when he became merely the best pitcher in baseball, we were disappointed. He had set the bar too high.

In the 1999 regular season, he allowed more than 3 earned runs only twice in 30 starts. He allowed 0, 1 or 2 runs in 24 of 30 starts!

After 12 starts in 2000 - on June 19 - his ERA was 0.99. 0.99! Some of the season-ending numbers for Pedro in 2000 (and the second place finisher):

Batting Average Allowed: .167 (Hudson, .227)
On-Base Percentage Allowed: .213 (Mussina, .291)
Slugging Percentage Allowed: .259 (Colon, .371)
Home ERA: 1.84 (Mussina, 2.90)
Road ERA: 1.66 (Wells, 3.24)
Hits Per 9 Innings: 5.31 (Hudson 7.52, only 3 AL pitchers below 8.00)
Baserunners per 9 Innings: 7.2* (Mussina 10.8)
Strikeouts/Walk Ratio: 8.88 (Wells, 5.35)

*: New major league record, breaking the old mark set by Guy Hecker in 1882.

And finally, perhaps Martinez's most overpowering start: September 10, 1999 - 17 strikeouts in a one-hitter at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees did not hit a fair ball on any of his final 52 pitches. During the final two innings, with their team losing 2-1, even Yankee fans were on their feet cheering.
***
There was no other player I enjoyed watching on a baseball diamond more than Pedro Martinez.

The power, the finesse, the intelligence, the domination, the fun. And since his playing career ended in 2009, he has remained a source of joy, his stories and insights always witty and knowledgeable.

Next spring, Pedro, a biography written with the Herald's Michael Silverman, will be published.

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!



95 days until Opening Day!

December 29, 2014

Strange Things Happened In 2014

Some strange and unusual things happened on major league baseball diamonds in 2014. Jayson Stark tells you about them - as only he can. Here are two:
There were 37 players who scored four runs (or more) in a game at least once in 2014. Our man Jose Molina, on the other hand, scored four runs all year. In 80 games. And in 247 trips to the plate. Do you even have to ask how many other players in history got that much playing time and scored that few runs in a season? That would be none. Of course. ...

We guarantee Boston's Mike Carp will never forget his first and only trip to the pitcher's mound (April 24, against the Yankees). He faced seven hitters -- and walked five of them, making him the only man in the past 90 years to walk five hitters in one inning. Amazingly, he only gave up one run, thanks to the miracle of a Brian McCann double-play ball in the middle of all that.
Xander Bogaerts is one of Christina Kahrl's 11 "picks to click" in 2015:
No more distractions, he's a shortstop and gets to settle in. ... [I]t's going to be fun to watch as Bogaerts quietly clouts 50 extra-base hits ... Skip any disappointment, his stardom begins now.
Rusney Castillo batted .405 in 10 Puerto Rico Winter League games. Alex Cora, manager of Criollos de Caguas, said:
He's ready to play in the big leagues. Mentally, we were very impressed with his approach. He didn't try and pull too much. Most of his hits were back up the middle, right-center. Defensively was the part that caught our eye. He did a really good job in center field. He has a feel of where to play guys after that first at-bat. We liked what we saw.
Also: Building the bullpen.

December 24, 2014

Dance

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Sharing some holiday music while I wish for the return to the true tradition of Christmas.

December 19, 2014

Red Sox Trade Middlebrooks To Padres

It's a trade that comes as no surprise. The Red Sox have sent third baseman Will Middlebrooks to the Padres for catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Hanigan, 34, will likely be the backup catcher to Christian Vazquez in 2015

After a strong showing after his call-up in 2012, Middlebrooks slumped badly in the next two seasons, managing only a .265 on-base percentage in the last two seasons.