Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No Sheffs In This Kitchen, Thank You

Good to see the numbers and the man agree: Ortiz needs no Manny protection to thrive.

Meanwhile, ProJo reports on the possibility of Gary Sheffield coming to Boston after a failed stint in Detroit. It seems to be a one-sided desire so far, but let's review why it would be a bad idea:
  • He's a 40-year-old power hitter. They don't tend to age very well, particularly without the aid of third-party substances.
  • He's coming off a season where he spent a good month on the DL and he has a history of wrist problems.
  • He doesn't play well with others. I was looking forward to a season where someone didn't spend time at the front of the sports pages for saying something incredibly idiotic. He's also a bit of a tool.
  • I just might have to bring back Weird Mitigating Factors.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Schilling, the Hall, and a Number on the Wall

Yes, I know: I'm definitely not the first to bring up this conversation and we've got five years to gain some perspective before the writers start voting, but assuming an argument like Joe Posnanski's is effective enough to push Curt Schilling over the borderline and into the Hall of Fame, you'd have to figure we'd be seeing a ceremony to put 38 up with the rest of the retired numbers the following season, right?

Sure, Schilling's length of service with the Sox doesn't meet the 10 year requirement the team has maintained as part of its retired number policy, but - and again, this is assuming he grabs a spot in the hall, because I don't see the Sox throwing two of their requirements out the window - weighed against the legend of the bloody sock and two very important championship rings, falling a few years short of the mark doesn't seem like such a big deal.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Trails, Josh Bard

Did not see this coming: the Sox cut Josh Bard today, killing Bard's second Boston stint before it could begin and opening up the lanes for George Kottaras to join the big league club three years after they acquired him in a trade with San Diego for David Wells and a case of meat pies. It's a surprise because Bard seemed to be filling the role: he'd hit very well in his 13 spring training at-bats and caught Wakefield successfully, making him seem like a logical choice for the backup backstop. ProJo attributes the decision to Kottaras's lack of minor league options and the ability he's also demonstrated in catching the knuckleball under live fire. I guess the Sox see enough of the catcher of the future in Kottaras to want to both avoid the risk of a waiver claim and give him a season of tutelage under Varitek. It's too bad they had to do so at Bard's expense, but at the very least I think he's hit well enough thus far to earn himself a berth somewhere else.

Hat tip to Red Sox Now

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No Shortstop Competition? No Problem!

Hey, so looks like Lowrie wins the competition because he's got better tendons...somewhere Robin is sighing in relief. Actually, I don't think this tough break for Lugo is the end of the fight for the starting job; Lugo's injury not withstanding, he certainly didn't sound like he'd back down from the fight, even if it means he has to prove himself after the season starts. Whether or not he gets the chance probably depends entirely on Lowrie: if he establishes himself from the get go in Kevin Youkilis in 2006 style, Lugo will find himself out in the cold faster than you can say "J.T. Snow." If he struggles...well, I guess the precendent there would be Dustin Pedroia, but I think if Theo was as high on Lowrie as he was on Pedroia, Lugo wouldn't be on the team.

In any case, I'm not worried. Lugo has a reason to come back strong and Lowrie is tearing the cover off the ball in Spring Training and setting himself up for a nice start next month. Let the competition continue, I say; we win no matter what.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Recession Pricing: Red Sox Get It, Yankees Do Not

As the Projo Sox Blog points out, Peter Gammons published a piece today comparing dollars spent on pitching by the Red Sox and Yankees this offseason. The relevant paragraph that really warms the cockles:
So as the Red Sox prepare to sign Lester for five years and $30 million, they will pay Beckett, Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Clay Buchholz less than $36 million this season. Compare that figure with what the New York Yankees are paying two of their pitchers. If you include two $3 million bonuses CC Sabathia will receive during the 2009 season, Sabathia and A.J. Burnett will make $36.5 million. Boston has 2009 obligations to Beckett, Lester and Matsuzaka for $21 million.

What makes this comparison even better? I'd take Beckett, Lester, and Matsuzaka (let alone the other guys on this list) over Sabathia and Burnett (particularly Burnett) any day of the week.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Do the Sox Have Better Chemistry Than the Yanks?

Shotgun Spratling of The Blue Workhorse recently shot me an email to alert me to the site's preview of the 2009 Red Sox. As far as conclusions go, it's not too surprising: our team is good, our team has some question marks, if our team overcomes their question marks, they'll probably beccome the best of the best for this year. What did jump out at me was the lede from the second paragraph of the preview: "The Red Sox have better chemistry than the Yankees do and that allows them to play well together."

Whether or not you believe chemistry has an impact on team performance is a contentious issue, but not one that I'm going to address here apart from saying that a congenial workplace is usually a more enjoyable place to get work done and that can lead to better performance. That said, even outside of the world of statheads and traditionalists, people who study management haven't come to a complete agreement about the relationship between chemistry and productivity. However, even if you do happen to believe that players who work together well win more ball games, you have to question whether or not Blue Workhorses's statement is still true in 2009.

In 2003 and 2004, the Sox rode their reputation as a group of fast and loose ballplayers into the annals of Winning Teams With Great Chemistry. The reputation is still there - or so it seems, if a sports blog is including it as part of a team preview - but the steady attrition of players from those teams to other ball clubs makes that judgment feel superficial. Think about it: if you were to name the loosest guys on the Sox, who would you pick beyond Ortiz and Papelbon. Youkilis and Pedroia are more crazy than loose, Lugo/Lowrie is a non-entity, Lowell is laid back, and everyone else - if they've established a presence at all - seems to prefer to let their bat or their glove do the talking. It's not a bad thing, but in terms of measurement I don't think this team has better chemistry than the workmanlike Yankees...I think it's about the same.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

J.D. Drew and His Back 'O Stiffness

Look, we all know that J.D. Drew has back problems. So maybe the plan of sending him back to Boston to get an injection for stiffness in his back is just as precautionary as Francona says it is...but I'm a little freaked out by the news. For better or for worse - and I'll admit, for the most part it's really been better - Drew is one of the lynchpins of Boston's offense. There are already a few question marks where offense is concerned for 2009 and adding more unknowns into the equation makes the Sox that much less competitive in the wild world of the AL Beast. I'm not throwing in the season by any means, but the scrunity on Drew will get that much more intense when he comes back on Friday.