Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You've got to hand it to the Pirates

You've got to hand it to the Pittsburgh Pirates! They sure see the glass as half full!
Here they sit at the trading deadline with a 42 and 61 record... the worst winning percentage in the National League and 13 1/2 games out of first.

And do they trade away veterans for young minor league talent?

They dealt a young player to get veteran starting pitcher Matt Morris!

I guess they are taking my advice to heart.

But guys, I made that suggestion in May... tomorrow it will be August!
Oh well.
Watch them win the division and this trade be the turning point!

Hey Nationals... did you know that you guys stink?

Sometimes do you wonder if Jim Bowden, the GM for the Washington Nationals, is even watching the games?

Hey Jim... did you notice that your team stinks?
I'm not talking "in a slump."
I'm talking "90+ losses."

And for the second straight year, they act a tad bit strange at the trading deadline.
As in "not doing anything."

Last year they had Alfonso Soriano, who EVERYONE in the world knew was splitting via free agency at the end of the year. So what did he do when many teams could have used an impact bat?

He kept him! And let him walk!

And got nothing for him.

This year with some of the biggest teams in baseball needing bullpen help, and the Nationals holding 2 prime chips (Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch) what does he do?

Not only does he hold on to him, but signs Dmitri Young and Ron Belliard to extensions... even though their contracts will be up before the Nats even SNIFF a winning season.

So the Nationals could have received 3 or maybe even 4 pieces to build with for the future... and got Dmitri Young, a player the Tigers cut instead of including on their playoff roster, for the long haul.

Does he think they are a player away from competing?
Or is he betting the same way that referee did?

Either way, bet on 90 losses NEXT year... and Bowden signing Julio Franco to a 10 year contract.

You BET this counts as my Washington Nationals post!

Um, Yankees? What the hell?

Hey Yankees...

I saw you traded Scott Proctor for Wilson Betemit.
Um... what the hell are you thinking?

I mean everyone knew that the biggest hole on this team is the middle relief. It stinks. It might be the very thing that ends the wonderful string of post season appearances and causes the Joe Torre era to end in a meaningless "play out the string" game in Baltimore on September 30th.

So what do you do?
You deal away one of the only decent relievers you have for a guy without a position.

Look, I'm not saying Proctor is the second coming of Walter Johnson, but at least he wasn't a lock to let a run in every time he came up to the mound. He wasn't the problem!

And Betemit... beware of guys with lots of talent who can't hold jobs that are handed to them! If this guy was such a great talent, the Braves would have held on to him, let along the Dodgers.

By the way, another player who can't keep a job that has been handed to him is Kyle Farnsworth(less). Yup, the guy who showed up Torre and Posada and is complaining about his workload despite a bloated ERA is still hanging around.

The rumor mill had the Rockies and Tigers interested in him.
If the Yankees got a ham sandwich, used Kleenex and a BetaMax copy of Howard the Duck... how could you not make that deal?

My trading day analysis!

The Red Sox got Eric Gagne... possibly the only difference maker available at the trade deadline!

And not only does that mean that they signed him! It also means that the Yankees didn't! Nor did the Tigers! Nor the Indians! This trade was made as much to keep Gagne away from the other teams as it was to improve the Sox... AND I LOVE IT!

In fact NONE of the contending AL teams really improved themselves.

The Yankees bullpen got weaker, the Tigers didn't get the bullpen help they need, the Indians are still Sabathia and Carmona and pray for a monsoon, the Angels didn't get another bat and the Mariners didn't get another arm!

Meanwhile the Red Sox bullpen in the late innings is Gagne, Okajima and Papelbon.

How do you like them apples in a short series?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Diamondbacks? Now THAT'S how you rebuild!

Did you know the Diamondbacks just won their 8th game in a row?
Me neither, and I live on the West Coast!

Did you know that they moved into a virtual tie with the Dodgers today?
The Dodgers are the team that I thought was going to stampede into the World Series this year... and a Diamondback team filled with dudes I haven't and you haven't heard from have tied them.

Did you know that they won their last 3 games with walk off hits and are firing on all cylinders as a team?

Me neither... and I follow this game pretty closely.

They haven't lost since last Friday and have put together a team that, save for the out for the rest of the season Randy Johnson, is devoid of a single player from the 2001 World Champions.

How the heck are they doing it?
Defending Cy Young winner Brandon Webb is having an unspectacular year.
There is no dominating force on the offensive side.
Eric Byrnes is having a nice year, but isn't on anyone's shortlist for MVP.
And he's the only regular batting over .289.

Their rotation is OK, but certainly not a repeat of Big Unit and Schilling.
Closer Jose Valverde is doing fine, BUT COME ON!

This team could be the most anonymous team to make the playoffs since the 2002 Angels. (Who, in case you forgot won the whole kit and also the kabootle.)

Not to get all Butch and Sundance on you, but who are those guys?
Let's say they get into the playoffs and stay hot and win it all...
Could we then call the Diamondbacks "The Team of the Decade"?

And how stupid would that make teams like the Pirates, Reds and Royals feel that the D'Backs could rebuild despite falling hopelessly into debt?

And how frustrating would it be for title starved franchises like the Indians, Cubs, Giants and Astros to see the D'Backs win twice in a decade with 100% roster turn over.

And, sorry Pat and Christin, but how bad does that make the Devil Rays look? The team that started the same year as them has a chance to make the playoffs for the 4th time... and the D'Rays are still in search of their first 71 win season!

Watch them keep winning...
If I figure out how they are doing it, I'll let you know.

It was ugly, but it was a win

The great Papelbon blew a save and it wasn't a pretty game.

But there are no points for style, just results.
And thank GOD for the Devil Ray's minor league bullpen!

So I'll take the win and the series win...
and a 9 game lead...
and the chance for a series sweep...
With Dice-K on the mound.

Oh and not to be a gloating Red Sox fan but
I can't be the only guy who has noticed that Johnny Damon has been really terrible this year, am I?

Two double plays tonight, including a backbreaker in the 9th?
Even the people on my favorite Yankee blog are beginning to wonder if Damon is still on the Boston payroll.

Maybe Theo knew something we didn't.
Hell he knew when to get rid of Nomar... maybe he knew that was all there is with Johnny!

I won't doubt you again!

Oh yeah...

Numbers can be confusing...

So wait a minute!
Does A-Rod have 500 home runs or what?

That weird make up game made it so confusing that I'm not sure if he has 500 home runs or maybe 3,000 hits and the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

But with the Yankee loss and the Red Sox win one number ISN'T confusing.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Reds... PLEASE trade Ken Griffey Jr.

Dear Cincinnati Reds,

Hey! It's Sully. I have a favor to ask you and I think you'll wind up thanking me in the end. Well here it is... for the good of the game and the eventual good of the Cincinnati Reds... TRADE KEN GRIFFEY JR! NOW! TO A CONTENDER!

Look, I know it will be tough. There's nothing else to cheer for in Cincy this year as the once proud Reds have the most losses of any National League team and are well on their way to their 7th straight sub .500 season.

But the whole "Second generation Griffey star" just isn't working. Oh it seemed like a great idea... kind of like Barry Bonds part 2. And adding Griffey to a team that missed the post season by a tie breaking playoff game looked like the beginning of an NL Central dynasty.

One winning season, a new ballpark, 5 managers and a lot of injuries later, it's been sad to see one of the greatest players we'll EVER see wasting away playing meaningless games.

Well now he is healthy, and pounding out homers at a Hall of Fame clip without a whiff of controversy nor any of his friends sitting in jail for him.

Do Griffey a favor, do the passionate and casual fans a favor, and ultimately do yourself a favor... and send him off to a winner.

For Griffey's sake, you give him a chance to shine on the national stage again. Remember his first time? He crushed the Yankees with 5 homers in 5 games and scored the series ending run from first in the bottom of the 11th.

I am positive he has a few more moments like that. Why not find out with him on the Angels, Dodgers, Mets or Tigers?

And the Reds can get a young player or two and get the albatross of his contract off their ledger.

The Reds someday will be good again (if the Tigers could, anyone could.) But why punish Griffey and the rest of baseball?
With all of his injuries, there are already too many "What ifs?" in his career.

Trade him now! Give him a post season moment and a chance for a ring to cap off a Hall of Fame career!

Just not to the Yankees.



The week in review for the supposed AL East race

When we woke up last Friday morning, the Red Sox had the second best record in baseball and the biggest lead of a division leader with 7 over the Yankees.

Then the Yankees went on an unreal tear. They won 6 out of 8 games (a .750 clip!), winning all 6 in a row. The offense was unreal peeling out an AVERAGE of nearly 12 runs a win including 21 runs in the series finale with Tampa.

Alex Rodriguez continues his rampage through the American League and the Yankees looked invincible.

As we wake up THIS Friday morning we see the Red Sox now have the best record in baseball and their lead over the Yankees has widened by 1/2 a game.

How is this a pennant race?

If the Yankees can't even maintain the status quo while playing .750 ball, how are they going to GAIN ground when they aren't playing AAA teams like the Devil Rays and the Royals?

Speaking of the Devil Rays, the Red Sox play them... starting today.
Maybe if the Yankees play a little better than .750 ball they could catch up... even a little.



Heyyyy Contenders! Step right up! Get yourself a barely used right handed slugger to add to your line up! Willy Mo Pena, who crushed a home run tonight and went 4-5 tonight is the answer to your line up woes!

Just send along a decent relief pitcher and we'll call it a deal!
Let the bidding begin!

Don't be shy! He's a great slugger! Why we sabotaged our pitching staff last year just to get him!

(Hope the bidders don't find out he has only 2 base hits since July 5th before tonight.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Man! They should fire up the Emergency Broadcast System for an event this monumental.

This might be like the moon landing. Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when Willy Mo Pena singled in the 3rd inning in Cleveland?

You must understand, if you spotted me 2 strikes and gave me a major league catcher, I could strike out Willy Mo Pena.

Cliff Lee should be fined $100,000.

I wonder if Bud Selig was there. He really should be for such a once in a lifetime event

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Keep spinning those wheels, Yankees

Another night and another Yankee blow out... beating up the powerhouse Royals who ran themselves out of a bunch of rallys.

And once again that win results in exactly zilch in the standings.
Dice K out pitched C. C. and lo and behold the MAGIC NUMBER IS DOWN TO 56!

Keep beating up those tomato cans Yankees all you want... you guys are still more than a week behind.

You think Lester was scared of Cleveland after beating the OTHER big C?

Cleveland? HA! Jon Lester stared down The Big C and struck him out! 6 solid innings including an escape act in the 4th (bases loaded, 1 out and Cleveland doesn't score) and all of a sudden the Red Sox don't just have a feel good story... they have a five man rotation BEFORE Schilling comes back!

Why does it take Carl Pavano years at a time to recover from his injuries but Lester can come back from cancer in 11 months?

Oh well.
No time to dwell on that.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Can You Chicken Littles Relax Yet?

This is a personal plea to all of my fellow Red Sox fans out there panicking:


Everything is OK.


Don't believe me?
Let's look at it from this angle.

When we woke up on Friday morning, the Red Sox had a 7 game lead on the Yankees.
The biggest lead of any division leader.

This weekend, the Yankees took the Devil Rays to the woodshed by winning 3 of 4 scoring 7, 17 and 21 runs in their last three games. It was an offensive showcase unprecedented in the Yankees storied history.

As we go to bed on Sunday night, the Red Sox have a 7 1/2 game lead.

Even with that outburst, the Yankees LOST ground.

Manny is on a tear and have you noticed that Lugo and Crisp are contributing as well?
Noticed that not only have Okajima and Papelbon remained unhittable, but DelCarman and Lopez have been doing their jobs as well?

Noticed that Gabbard has been lights out, Lester is on the way and Schilling is healing?

Our hitting and pitching are improving?
Is THAT enough to quit your annoying premature panicking?

How about the fact that not only do the Red Sox have the biggest division lead, they also have the most wins in ALL OF BASEBALL?

Will that help untie that noose?

How about this fact? The Yankees are more than a week behind us? If they win EVERY GAME next week and the Sox lose EVERY GAME in that same week... the Sox are still in first place.

And yes, the Yankees went on a great run in June and now another one in July... but they haven't been within a week since May 9th.

They were 6 games out on May 9th... they haven't been that close since early May.
It's now late July.

And we have 13 more games with those same Devil Rays.

Look, there are some great exciting races going on in baseball right now. And they don't involve the Red Sox and Yankees!

A race means you check the standings everyday to see who is in first place. Since April 18th, it's been the Red Sox in the East.

The Dodgers and Padres change places. The Tigers and Indians have been neck and neck. The Mariners are breathing down the Angels throat, the Cubs are charging on the Brewers and Mets seem Hell bent on letting the whole division back in.

Those are races.

The AL East is just the net result of two annoying fan bases (which I am part of one).

In denial Yankee fans who can't come to grips with the fact that they don't have a playoff team this year...

And self loathing Red Sox fans who forgot that the "My God we're doomed" mentality should have died in 2004.

The sky isn't falling.
The lead is expanding.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The 1996 Rangers... if only they had a bullpen

The Texas Rangers are one of those franchises I just can't picture winning a World Series. I just can't. I can imagine the Devil Rays sneaking in. And I bet the Washington Nationals will some day put a good team on the field. But the image of a victory parade through storied Arlington is not something I can envision.

They are a strange franchise. They've been in Texas my whole life (they moved there in 1972.) They've had an amazing number of great characters as manager. Ted Williams, Whitey Herzog, Billy Martin, Don Zimmer, Bobby Valentine, Kevin Kennedy, Johnny Oates and Buck Showalter. They've had 5 MVPs. A future President owned the team.

And yet what are the most memorable moments in Rangers history?
The Nolan Ryan no hitters...
The Kenny Rogers perfect game...
Um... hmmm...
David Clyde starting that game as a teenager....
Oh yeah! That moment when a ball hit Jose Canseco on the head.

Pretty sad...
And the history of the Rangers, not to mention the path of the Yankees and all of major league baseball, could have been changed if the Rangers had a better bullpen in 1996.

Bear with me.

Joe Torre's first taste of post season managing with the Yankees wasn't pretty.
The Yankees played the Rangers in the first round of the 1996 playoffs and as difficult as it is got us to remember now, but the Yankees had a mild playoff drought of their own. They went from 1981 to 1995 without playing into October. And the previous year they were stunned in extra innings by the Mariners and eliminated.

Showalter was let go and Torre brought in. The team won the division but promptly lost game 1 on a complete game effort by John Burkett.

Suddenly the waves of panic came to Yankee land. They were poised to have another first round defeat and in all likely hood, Torre would be fired and it would be the Bronx Zoo all over again.

The Rangers took a 4-1 lead on two homers by Juan Gonzalez (who would go on to hit 5 in the series) and it felt like the Yankees were on their way to a humiliating sweep.

But guess what? Unlike game 1, they had to go to the bullpen... and the Rangers pen was awful. How bad? Their closer Mike Henneman had a 5.79 ERA. When you closer is letting up nearly 6 runs every 9 innings... that's a problem.

The Yankees tied the game in the 8th on a Cecil Fielder single. Yankee relievers Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland combined for 4 2/3 shutout innings, with Wetteland getting out of a bases loaded jam in the 9th. Torre used 4 pitchers to get out of another bases loaded jam in the 12th and the Yankees won it in the 12th on a single, walk and error. The chance of a 2-0 lead squashed by the bullpen.

It didn't seem to matter in game 3 as the Rangers seemed poised to take a 2-1 series lead when Darren Oliver took a 2-1 lead into the 9th. Again, not trusting his bullpen, manager Johnny Oates gave Oliver the chance to complete the game like Burkett did in game 1... even though he had only 1 complete game all year.

The tired Oliver let up back to back singles to start the innings and they both scored on Henneman, giving the Yankees the win and a 2-1 lead in the series.

The Rangers broke out to a 4-0 in game 4, but the Yankee bats drove Bobby Witt off the mound in the 4th and the bullpen lost the game in the 7th.

The Yankees went on to beat the Orioles and Braves to win the 1996 World Series, starting the greatest dynasty of the Free Agent era.... 4 Titles, 6 pennants 11 straight playoff appearances under Torre including 10 division titles.

The Rangers faded... appearing in 2 more playoff series, both against the Yankees, and getting swept both times. In fact the powerful bats were held to a total of 2 runs... not per game... in BOTH SERIES COMBINED! Then the 2000s led to Pudge Rodriguez leaving, the failed A-Rod experiment and a merry go round of managers and starting pitchers and very few meaningful games.

Imagine how things would have been different if that Rangers team had a bullpen.
The Rangers might have advanced to the ALCS... and maybe to the World Series.
They would have had a defining moment and perhaps built upon that to be a genuine powerhouse, not only in the West but also in the AL.

And a first round loss probably would have spelled doom for Joe Torre after his first year. George was still in a spit fire mood instead of the mellowed possibly sick man he is today.

Torre would have been gone and George might have tried to bring back Showalter... or Pinella... or waited a hear and snap up Davey Johnson when the Orioles dumped him.

No harmony in the Bronx... no great run.

For Yankee haters it would have been heaven...
If only the Rangers had a bullpen!

Hey umps! J. D. Drew needs all the help he can get!

UMPS! Do me a favor, OK?
Try not to blow any calls involving the Red Sox. And ESPECIALLY don't blow an obvious home run call off the bat of J. D. Drew.

Look, this is a lot of pressure I know, but think of it from our point of view. Any sensible baseball fan knew this signing was truly moronic. And to the surprise of nobody, he's stinking up the joint.

So on the off chance that he actually does something right, like smack a 3 run homer in the first inning... don't blow the call.

We have 4 more years with this chump. Let's try to have a few decent memories, OK?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I guess I'm supposed to feel nervous

Um... I'm supposed to be nervous, right?

My Red Sox friends are panicking as if the Sox just hired Don Zimmer to manage. I even got an e mail from a dude in Australia asking me if I am scared.

Meanwhile my Yankee fans friends are gloating as if Boone just homered off of Wakefield again.

Am I missing something?
Don't my Red Sox still have the biggest lead of any division leader?
Don't they have the second highest win total in baseball?

Aren't the Red Sox a full WEEK ahead of the Yankees?

I'm not exactly shaking in my boots yet.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Magic number


Come on Dice K.
Come on Devil Rays.

Keep chip chip chipping away

Hey Joe... the glass is actually MORE than half empty!

The Yankees should be in panic mode right now. Nobody can say "It's early... there's a lot of baseball to be played."

It's not early. It's past the All Star break. It's mid July. Soon it will be late July and teams will be getting reinforcements at the trade deadline.

And here, now well past the half way point of the season, the Yankees remain a sub .500 team... 10 games behind the Red Sox... 9 games out of the Wild Card.

If they are going to go on a wild 1978 or 1995 run to burst into the playoffs... time is running out. And there is no room for error.

In order to get to 95 wins, the Yankees needed to go 52-24... win at a .693 clip.
And when Roger Clemens is on the mound against Tampa Bay, that should be a win 11 times out of 10. I don't care that Scott Kazimir was on the mound... Kazimir is a nice pitcher but he isn't Johan Santana or Steve Carlton in his prime.

So what happened? They cashed in one of their 24 losses. They have 11 weeks left, meaning they can barely afford to lose 2 games a week and they let Pat and Christin's favorite team win.

So how did Joe Torre react?
What rage did he express?

"I have no trouble sleeping tonight, other than the final score."

Um... Joe. Glad to hear the new mattress is working for you, but you are aware that the final score is the only thing that matters at this point, right?

"You really have to let go of the final score because of a lot of times you can't control it. "

Is Joe a Calvinist? Does he believe the games are predestined? I always thought the final score was controlled by the team that plays the best and winds up winning!

"I learned through my years of doing this that even though everything is judged on winning and losing, it's the tenacity of the team."

Ah! It's that they are trying hard!
Play hard guys and win or lose, we're going to Papa Gino's after the game.

I didn't realize sub .500 teams with a $200 million payroll get credit for trying hard against one of the worst teams in baseball.

You don't want to play your team with a sense of urgency, Joe?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Feels good to be amongst my people

I'm in L.A. working on a shoot and after work tonight, I stopped by Sonny McLean's in Santa Monica to catch the last few innings of the Sox game.

I realized how long it had been since I was around other Sox fans and it felt good to be cheering for OUR boys... especially during a win.

I sat next to a young guy who was a die hard Sox fan and Woburn native living in L.A. He was complaining about Doug Mirabelli and telling me how he's on his "boo list."

I said "you know it's a good season when the only guy on the boo list is a backup catcher."

He replied "Oh, there's a lot of players I'll boo and that I've had it with."

He proceeded to list off 10 players, nearly half of the roster, that he was fed up with. The List included the Captain, Jason Varitek and 2004 heroes Curt Schilling and Mike Timlin.

Here we are, our team in first by 10 games AFTER the All Star break and this guy wants to clean house on nearly half of the players.
Ladies and gentlemen, the most insecure fan base in sports!

I wonder how big a lead it will take for this guy to accept 40% of the roster.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A lousy end to a great first half...

Well THAT was a strange way to end the first half of the season.

Julio Lugo, Javier Lopez and Jeff Bailey come up big but Dice-K, Manny, Papi and Varitek come up small.

Go figure.

And of course J. D. Drew pops up to end the game and the Sox are swept out of Detroit.
And the Yankees won their series against the Angels and go into the All Star break on a roll.

And I am sure many of my Red Sox fan friends, especially the brilliant Late Night with Conan O'Brien writer Dan Cronin, are panicking. In fact I am waiting for Cronin's inevitable e mail saying we need to cut Dice K.


Let's look at some numbers...
The Red Sox have the best winning percentage in baseball.
They have the biggest lead of any contender.
They are nine games in front of the Yankees in the loss column and ten in front of the Blue Jays in the loss.

The magic number to eliminate the Yankees is 67...
66 for the Blue Jays.

In other words if the Red Sox just play one game over .500 the rest of the way during their final 75 games (16 of them against Tampa Bay), then they will finish 91-71.
And the Yankees will need to go 49-28... winning 2 out of EVERY 3 games.

And keep in mind, neither Papi nor Manny have busted out yet.
If the Red Sox get to 95 wins (a 42-33 clip) the Yankees would have to win nearly 70% of their games.

So let's relax... enjoy the All Star break... give the pitchers a nice few days off... and come back to play some winning baseball.

Seriously Cronin... untie the noose.

Rivera tied Franco... is that an honor?

Mariano Rivera recorded his 424th career save this week, putting him tied at #3 on the all time list.

And what legend is he tied with? Fingers? Sutter? Henke? Gossage?

John Franco.

If anything shows how much the save stat has been cheapened over the years, it is the fact that John Franco has the third highest total.

Franco shouldn't be top three in ANY stat except maybe "Most Nobody Beats The Wiz commercials."

And even then he would rank 4th behind Esiason, Simms and of course the best, Namath.

I always wondered how this family got to celebrate Christmas with Joe Willy.