The boo-boo tally: Boston vs the Bronx

September 24th, 2008 → 12:58 pm @

Well, folks, it’s official – for the first time since 1994, the Yankees won’t be playing October baseball. Whatever you think about New York, it was an impressive run.

The Sox, meanwhile, will be going to the playoffs for the fifth time in seven years since the Henry-Werner-Lucchino gang took over, a stretch that includes the most exciting baseball playoff series in history and two world championships. (Read all about it in Feeding the Monster, the only all-access to the team’s current management and the ’04-’05 seasons. It’s available at Amazon for only $10.20 – cheap! And, as always, personalized, inscribed copies are still available.)

Plenty will be written about all of the above, of course. What I want to do is take a quick look at accumulated boo boos of the 2008 campaign. Everyone from Hank Steinbrenner to the sad-sack fans I work with have been whining about all the injuries those fragile souls in the Bronx have had to endure, and, to be sure, there’s a long list. But has it been all that much worse than what the Sox have faced?

Let’s go to the numbers.

The Yankees DL list includes, most prominently, Posada, Wang, and Joba, with Posada and Wang missing most of the season. They’ve also had A-Rod, Matsui, Damon, Pettitte, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy on the 15-day list and Brian Bruney out for 60 days. And, of course, there’s Carl Pavano. (Hughes’ and Kennedy’s problems weren’t due to injuries as much as to ineffectiveness.)

The Sox, meanwhile, have had five of their six pre-season projected starters on the DL: Schilling was lost for the year before the season started, Colon was on the 60-day, Daisuke and Buccholz both did 15-day stints, and Beckett has been out of commission twice. (As far as pitching goes, Timlin also did two turns on the DL, but that might have helped the team more than anything else.) Offensively, Lowell has been sidelined twice, Lugo was lost for the season, and Ortiz and Drew both did their time. (Casey – twice – and Cora also got banged up enough to move off the active roster for stretches.) Oh yeah: they also had Manny mope his way out of town.

Is that worse than the Yankees? You could make a case either way; what’s certain is that the Yankees’ haven’t been snake-bitten to an unprecedented, or even all that unusual, degree. Ortiz has been considerably more hindered than A-Rod, and the Lowell-Drew injuries have been more lingering than anything the rest of New York’s offense had to deal with. Wang and Posada are obviously enormous losses, but the Sox’s rotation has had to deal with more injury-related interruptions than the Yankees. And Tek…well, yeah.

So why were the Sox wearing their champagne goggles last night while Girardi had the distinction of being the first Joe not to lead the Yanks to the playoffs in well over a decade? In a word (or three), home grown talent. But that’s a subject for another day.

Post Categories: 2008 Playoffs & 2008 Season & Hank Steinbrenner & Injuries & Red Sox & Yankees

Torre, Theo, the RS bullpen, and the black plague

May 2nd, 2007 → 11:52 am @

Like I said below, I’m going to be getting to some things a bit late…

A month into the season, we’ve seen a bunch of interesting things.

* The Yankees have been sucking. They also appear to have picked up the pesky black plague bug that infected the Sox last August.

* There’s going to be lots of talk about whether or not Joe Torre should be fired as long as the worst $200 million team in history stays in last place. Or third place. Or second place.

* Last night notwithstanding, the Sox’s bullpen has been lights out.

* Hideki Okajima is a stone-cold stud.

* Despite some disappointing performances at the plate — i.e., everyone in the starting lineup save for Youk, Ortiz, Drew, and Lowell — the Sox are, overall, doing fairly well offensively.

* This whole Schilling-Beckett-Dice K thing could work out pretty well.

And now for some quick thoughts on the above:

* Brian Cashman is getting some heat for the Yankees roster and it’s age/failure to produce. That’s not entirely fair (although not entirely unfair, either). The injury thing is hard to predict — Mussina is getting on in years, sure; on the other hand, but Wang could have reasonably been expected to stay healthy. And while Cashman has exhibited some creativity/flexibility in jettisoning some of his overpaid veterans, he’s still saddled with guys like Jason Giambi — and Giambi, at least according to almost everyone surrounding the Yankees — was one of those Steinbrenner “I have to have him RIGHT NOW” players that Cashman seemingly had little to do with.

* The Torre defenders out there are right when they say there’s only so much he can do — he’s not out on the field. But — and this is a big but — two areas that Torre most definitely can effect are a) bullpen usage and b) keeping a bunch of spoiled brats (er, I mean athletes), focused and motivated over the course of a long season. In regards to a), Torre has a Dusty Baker-esque tendency to abuse his bullpen, a practice that cost the Yankees at least one trip to the World Series (in 2004, when the Yankees had to depend on the ghost of Tom Gordon) and could very well lead the team down the road to ruin this year. As for b), I’m a firm believer in the notion that sometimes good managers need to go just because a team needs a change. Torre’s been very good at keeping a highly efficient and generally successful team on course. His laconic style might not be so good for a team in crisis. (Quick digression: I also put some of the blame on Captain Intangibles, who, much like Jason Varitek, seems to view his role solely as someone who sets a good example on the field. Jeter could, and should, have stepped up any number of times this year. Take spring training: the best things he could have done for the team were defend Pavano when Mussina was whining and embrace A-Rod to quell the ongoing talk about conflict there.)

And…I gotta run. Looks like I’ll have to address the Red Sox part of this equation later on.

Post Categories: 2007 Season & Brian Cashman & Injuries & Joe Torre & Yankees

Today’s game set for 1:05 pm; ML tryouts set for 4

September 2nd, 2006 → 8:27 am @

So what’s the latest? Ah, yes: Curt Schilling will miss his next start with a strained lat. Papelbon left the game with pain in his shoulder. And Papi won’t be coming back until next week at the earliest. Look at it this way: the Sox could field a pretty decent team with guys who are injured plus some AAA-scrubs. For those keeping score out home, the folks currently out of commission are:

Matt Clement
Jon Lester
Jonathan Papelbon
Curt Schilling
Tim Wakefield

Jason Varitek

Alex Gonzalez

Manny Ramirez
Trot Nixon
Wily Mo Pena

Designated hitter
David Ortiz

Check out tomorrow’s Times for the obligatory Murray Chass column about how those whiney Red Sox need to suck it up and start winning some ballgames.)

Post Categories: Injuries & Murray Chass

And then there was one: Boston Red Sox, Job edition

August 30th, 2006 → 4:41 pm @

As in: one position player playing where he played on Opening Day. That’s right, folks: Coco injured himself last night on that diving catch. So maybe we don’t want him to make quite so many great plays in the outfield after all. Let’s hope no one else joins the ranks of the walking wounded today; there’s only one guy — and that’s not a misprint — on the bench: defensive specialist, er, immobile catcher Javy Lopez. (There are only 20 guys total in uniform today (21 if you include Coco), with Wells sent back East to “prepare” for his “start” and Papi, Manny, and WMP making appearances at Boston-area hospitals.) If anyone else goes down, we might see a Foulke to Beckett to Timlin DP combo by the end of the afternoon.

(But hey, Schilling did make it to 3000 K’s, although he whiffed Nick Swisher and not Milton Bradley as I’d predicted. I’m glad he got that, because it sure doesn’t look like he’ll get the win: the Sox are trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the third, and with three players in the lineup hitting below the Mendoza line, I can’t imagine these guys are up to making up any big defecits. Or any defecits, for that matter.)

Post Categories: Coco Crisp & Curt Schilling & Injuries

Take a deep breath (Searching for positives edition)

August 30th, 2006 → 12:19 pm @

Well, it hasn’t been a good month. For real. To wit:

* The Sox record of 8-20 is the worst single-month record since John Henry and Tom Werner bought the team.
* The team has lost 12 of its last 14 games on the road, the worst stretch since 2001. (You remember 2001, right? Jimy Williams, Dan Duquette, and Carl Everett? Good times.)
* They Old Towne Team has lost 13 of its last 16 and 18 of its last 24 games. August is only the second time the Sox have lost more than 20 games in a month since 1966, and the first time the team’s had three losing streaks of five or more games in a single month since 1985. (On the overly optimistic side, that means that if precedent holds, Boston should be back in the Series next year.) Needless to say, the team has the worst record in baseball over the last month.
* August breaks a streak of 13 straight months of over-.500 ball.

It’s not likely to get better anytime soon: there’s not a day off until September 7, and 19 of the last 30 games are versus winning teams. If only the Sox could limit their games for the rest of the season to NL teams. And the Orioles.

Let’s see, what else? Four members of the starting nine are on the DL, and another — who happens to be the best righthanded batter of the past decade — is in the hospital for tests. David Ortiz, the best thing to happen to Boston baseball in a long while, has spent two nights over the past 10 days in Mass General due to an irregular heartbeat. (As Mark Loretta said yesterday, “In all my years you’ve seen injuries and you talk about how every team has injuries, but we’re well beyond that stage.”) The team’s best pitcher over the last month has a body that resembles Bill James‘s more than it does Billy Beane‘s…and he might be traded in the next 30 hours. The active roster is almost unrecognizable. Kyle Snyder, Bryan Corey, Mike Burns, Javy Lopez, Dustin Pedroia, Carlos Pena, Eric Hinske…is this the Red Sox or a reclamation league?

Yup, it’s bad. I’ll take a deeper look at all of this in the next couple of days, but right now I need to head out to an Indian restaurant for lunch (which I’m sure will put me in an even better mood).

In the meantime — and I know, this will be hard — I’ll seek out things to look forward to. Last night, Coco made a helluva catch to rob former clubhouse snake Jay Payton of a hit, which was doubly satisfying; maybe he’ll have some more of these and less of these. I love watching Pedroia. When Carlos Pena fell, headfirst, into the stands in the early innings of his first MLB game of the year, I held my breath — please, god, not another guy on the DL — but I also was weirdly heartened by that type of effort. Hopefully Ortiz will be okay and we can go back to watching him obliterate Jimmie Foxx’s Red Sox single-season HR record (50, 1938). Regardless of whether he has a chance to notch up any more saves this year, Papelbon is a the best baby-faced bulldog anyone’s seen in a while. It’s an open question as to whether the Sox will have more hits than Schilling will have strikeouts in tonight’s game, but Curt will hit 3,000 K’s. And after holding things together with spit and luck, the Sox are, finally, a team with nothing to lose. (Except for games, I mean.) If they pull of some weird, total eclipse string of wins it’ll be a comeback of 2004 proportions. And if not, well, that’s pretty much expected at this point.

So for those of you going to Thursday’s game, do a solid and give these guys a standing O. You can’t blame any of the guys who’ll take the field for what’s been happening, from Cora to Loretta to Youks to Lowell. If Manny and Ortiz (and WMP) come back, you sure as hell can’t blame them, either. (Fine: Coco’s been a disappointment. But if you boo him he might cry. And you don’t want to see him cry.) (You can boo Mike Timlin, but only once, and only for blowing all those games and making those idiotic comments about the offense. After that you need to think back to what he did for this team in ’03, ’04, and ’05.)

I’m not kidding. Give them a standing O. Trust me, you’ll feel better, both about the team and about yourself. We can — and I’m sure we will — go back to complaining and analyzing what went wrong soon enough.

Post Categories: Coco Crisp & Curt Schilling & Injuries