Calling all lip readers: Jacoby does it again

October 2nd, 2008 → 1:07 pm @

I wanna know what Justin Masterson said to (what I assume was) second base umpire Kerwin Danley after last night’s eight-inning permanent highlight reel snag by Jacoby “Mr. October” Ellsbury in center. Judging from the grins on both of their faces, I’m guessing it was something along the lines of, “holy shit is he incredible”…

Post Categories: 2008 Playoffs & Jacoby Ellsbury & Justin Masterson

In which I weigh in way too late on the whole Santana brouhaha

December 4th, 2007 → 11:17 am @

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been strangely quiet as of late – and that silence has continued even after my return from a glorious, two-and-a-half-week trip to Southeast Asia. (I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: nothing says romance like reading a bio of Pol Pot on your honeymoon.) I’ve avoid my usual laundry list of excuses.

I will, however, say this: I’ve always been reticent about jawing off when I have no real idea what I’m talking about…and such is the case with all of the sundry Santana trade permutations. I don’t mean the specifics of a possible trade — no one knows those except for Theo, Bill Smith, and Brian Cashman. I mean that I don’t know enough (and what’s more, haven’t done the work) to be able to make any kind of responsible or intelligent observations about whether this or that scenario makes sense. I don’t have the drilled-down numbers on Jacoby; I haven’t run the projections on Santana; I sure as hell don’t have any sense of what the pool of pitching talent is like in next few amateur drafts; I don’t know where else the Sox (or the Yankees) would spend that $130 mil or so it’ll likely take to lock up Santana…well, you get the idea. And even if I did have all of this info and even if I had done all of this work, I still would be so many light years behind where the Sox front office is in terms of brainpower, man hours spent hunched over spreadsheets, cumulative knowledge, and on and on, that it would be silly for me to start soapboxing about why this or that scenario makes sense.

Which leaves me with…emotion. Emotionally, I don’t want to lose Jacoby, and this is even after the wife grew besotted with him after a recent lunch they shared together. Emotionally, I’m in love with homegrown teams. Emotionally, I want to go into battle with a roster that includes four homegrown players (Youk, DP, Jed Lowrie, and Ellsbury), two guys that the Sox should rightly get credit for growing (Tek and Papi), and a couple of hired guns (JDD and Manny). Emotionally, I want Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz and Papelbon and Manny DC and yes, even Craig Hansen to round out a rotation that’ll be anchored by Beckett and Dice-K for the next half-decade or so. Emotionally, I’m nervous about paying a premium for a pitcher’s post-30 years. And, dare I say it, emotionally I find something a little, well, gross, about the prospect of the Sox going out and buying the best left-handed pitcher in the game to augment what’s arguably already the best rotation in baseball.
But the Sox front office doesn’t get paid to traffic in emotion – and thank goodness for that. Emotion would have ended up with Nomar and Pedro still collecting paychecks from Yawkey Way and, in all likelihood, with a 90-year championship drought.
At the moment — at 10:02 am on December 4 — it sounds as if the Sox are actually close to a deal, one that would keep Ellsbury in Boston and send Lester, Lowrie, and Coco to Minnesota. (Sigh. Coco. I still love the guy.) If it happens, it could be a great deal. And if it happens, it’ll be worth paying attention to what happens to Lowrie down the line. Plenty of times, those third names that no one has ever heard of end up turning into pretty good players. It was Lester, after all, who was headed to Texas four years ago as part of the aborted Manny for A-Rod deal…

Anyway, if that deal does go down, the Sox will have to be the pre-season favorites…through, say, 2010. As an NL exec told Jayson Stark, a rotation that consisted of Beckett, Dice-K, and Santana, to say nothing of Schilling and Clay “Oh No-No You Don’t” Buchholz, “might just be the best team in the history of the frigging universe.” It would also complicate Tito’s job. Seriously: which of these guys do you sit down to tell he’s going to be a fifth starter?

Post Categories: 2007 Hot Stove Season & Coco Crisp & Jacoby Ellsbury & Johan Santana & Jon Lester

Hello, I must be going…

November 9th, 2007 → 9:54 am @

I know…this is my second reference to the same Phil Collins album in a year and a half! Incredible. (Somehow, I didn’t make it to the Genesis reunion tour. I did see the Police last week at MSG. Not so good. But I digress.)

Anyway – I’m heading to Hong Kong. And Cambodia. And Vietnam. Not for an investigation into the state of semi-pro baseball in Asia; I’m actually heading out on my delayed honeymoon, which will keep me offline until after Thanksgiving… which means I won’t be able to opine on the Sox’s re-signing (or non-re-signing of Mike “Lunchpail” Lowell (nickname courtesy of reader Scott Laton), or on the anti-A Rod sweepstakes, or on Murray Chass’s ongoing effort to write the stupidest column in the history of the world. (Seriously – I have no idea where to even think about beginning with today’s effort. Every time I think he can’t get any dumber he writes something that impresses me anew.)

In the frenzy of planning, I also haven’t had a chance to congratulate the Gold Glove voters on getting at least one position right this year (Youk at first) or castigated them on ridiculously blowing what should have been a no-brainer (Coco in center). (Another aside: if, indeed, Coco ends up patrolling center for some other team next year, which wouldn’t surprise me, I will, as most of you likely know, be disappointed. I really love watching that little dude patrol the outfield…and I still think he made a huge difference this year. And I’m not just saying that because the wife had lunch with Jacoby yesterday and came away cooing about how “nice” and “smart” he is.) I also haven’t had a chance to voice my respect for the deal Curt took to stay in Boston. I know – anyone making $8 mil a year isn’t exactly roughing it – but Schill clearly could have made more on the open market. It’s rare these days that an athlete says “it’s not about the money” and means it; here was a situation in which one actually did. And despite my efforts to be clear-eyed about this whole business of baseball thing, I’m glad #38 will be retiring in Boston uni…and I hope when he gets elected into the Hall (and as far as I’m concerned, there’s no longer any real question as to whether he should make it) he’ll be wearing a Sox cap.

One last bit of housekeeping – any new commenters won’t be able to post until I get back. But by all means sign up and send those comments in; I’ll wade through them as soon as I pay my bills and get over my jetlag.


Post Categories: 2007 Offseason & Coco Crisp & Curt Schilling & Honeymoon & Jacoby Ellsbury & Kevin Youkilis & Mike Lowell & Phil Collins

Sorry, dude: you’re on the bench tonight…

October 22nd, 2007 → 10:33 am @

2007 ALCS Stats

Player 1: .500 BA, .576 OBP, .929 SLG, 1.505 OPS, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 10 R, 1 2B

Player 2: .292 BA, .424 OBP, .542 SLG, .966 OPS, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 7 R, 3 2B

Player 3: .333 BA, .375 OBP, .519 SLG, .894 OPS, 1HR, 8 RBI, 3 R, 2 2B

Player 4: .409 BA, .563 OBP, .727 SLG, 1.290 OPS, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 1 2B, 5 R

It’s an enviable position to be in, for sure…but next weekend’s games in Colorado mean one of these big four thumpers is going to be riding the pine at any given point. If you were just taking a gander at these numbers, you’d figure either player 2 or player 3 would be the odd man out, right? That’d mean that you’d be benching either Papi (Player 2) or Lowell (Player 3). My guess is that player 1 – that’s Youk, for those of you who haven’t figured it out by now, with Manny being Player 4 – is going to be the odd man out, at least at the beginning of any given game, but there’ll be plenty of chances for him to get in (filling in after a pinch runner, defensive replacement, etc).

Just to be a mild contrarian, I think there’s a good argument to be made for Youk to be starting lineup, displacing the consensus ’07 MVP at third. Youk is a good hitter on a torrid streak, and worse hitters have stayed white hot at crucial times: Think Bellhorn—whom I would have named co-WS MVP along with Foulke—and his game-winning homer in Game 1 of the ’04 WS along with his .700 SLG/1.263 OPS, or Todd Walker with a line of .349, .400, .778, 1.178 OPS as 5 HRs—out of 15 hits!—in the ’03 playoffs.

That’ll be one interesting thing to watch (along with the weather), when the Series gets to Denver next weekend. Another lineup development that should get some attention is situation in CF. I’ve been a fan of Coco’s all along, and the game-ending catch last night (I can’t find a pic or video clip, even in 101-page photo essay. Anyone else have any luck?) shows why. But Jacoby clearly is more comfortable at the plate, even if he’s not even close to comparable in center. (Check out the picture accompanying the story announcing that Jacoby would start Game 6 as evidence.) He’s good, to be sure…but we really have witnessed an historic defensive year from Covelli…if I was forced to decide, which, thank god, I’m not, I’d probably platoon them.
Lots of other things to discuss and mull over, of course, and hopefully we’ll all have time to do just that in the days to come. For now, congrats, folks. We’re going to the Series.

Post Categories: 2007 Playoffs & 2007 World Series & Coco Crisp & David Ortiz & Jacoby Ellsbury & Kevin Youkilis & Manny Ramirez

Jacoby Ellsbury: we will be seeing you in October

September 6th, 2007 → 9:21 am @

Scratch everything I wrote below; that applies to the old rules. The new ones say that any player can replace any other player that’s on the DL…which means Ellsbury can (and I’m pretty confident will) replace either Clement or Donnelly. Thanks to the Union Leader‘s Alex Speier for the clarification (and to reader Lenny Harris for prompting my query). For anyone interested in how Manny’s return (and Ellsbury’s surge) will play out, check out Speier’s piece on that very subject. I’d be shocked if Ellsbury took any serious time away from Coco, who I continue to view as the best center fielder playing right now. Drew (despite also turning in impressive performances in right) wouldn’t surprise me quite as much…

There are lots and lots of arcane rules in baseball; the rules dictating playoff rosters aren’t even close to the weirdest or hardest to understand, but they’re what’s most relevant today…so in response to a query by reader Aaron Cohen, here’s my (undoubtedly insufficient) effort to explain just who can, and can’t, play come the playoffs.

The short answer is, only the 25 guys on the team’s active roster as of August 31, plus anyone who was on either the 15-day or 60-day DL on August 31…which would mean no Clay Buchholz, no Jon Lester, and no Jacoby Ellsbury. The longer answer is, well, almost anyone. Or at least anyone on the team’s 40-man roster.

Let’s back up. I can’t find anyplace that lists the team’s roster at as of last Friday, but I think it looked something like this, including guys on the DL:

Josh Beckett
Curt Schilling
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Tim Wakefield
Julian Tavarez
Jonathan Papelbon
Hideki Okajima
Eric Gagne
Mike Timlin
Manny Delcarmen
Kyle Snyder
Javier Lopez
Matt Clement (60-day DL)
Brendan Donnelly (60-day DL)

Kevin Youkilis (1B, 3B)
Eric Hinske (also can be listed as an outfielder)
Dustin Pedroia (2B)
Alex Cora (2B, SS)
Julio Lugo (SS)
Mike Lowell (3B)
David Ortiz (1B, DH)

Jason Varitek
Kevin Cash
Doug Mirabelli (15-day DL; activated on 9/1)

Manny Ramirez
Coco Crisp
J.D. Drew
Bobby Kielty

Since teams are allowed to replace anyone who is injured for the playoffs, that means that, assuming Clement and Donnelly remain out of action, the team has two pitching spots to play around with; both Lester and Buchholz are eligible for those spots (but, of course, that’d mean that one of the team’s 12-active roster pitchers would need to be left off).* There are also three catchers who are eligible for the team’s two catching spots.

You’ll notice that Ellsbury is not listed anywhere above, and since he’s not a catcher, that would seem to indicate his lack of availability for postseason play. This isn’t entirely true: if one of the five outfielders listed above (I’m including Hinske here, who can be listed as either a corner IF or an OF) gets hurt, or “hurt,” the team can use Ellsbury to fill his position. Barring an actual, season-ending injury, that makes Bobby Kielty the most likely candidate for a phantom pull/strain/etc. Now is that all clear?

(There’s more discussion of sundry roster rules in this Bradford Files post.)

* Playoff rosters can change series to series, a fact which is especially relevant when discussing someone like Buchholz, who is on a strict innings diet.

Post Categories: 2007 Playoffs & 2007 Season & Alex Speier & Clay Buchholz & Jacoby Ellsbury & Roster Rules

Hello, I must be going

December 14th, 2006 → 9:10 am @

I know — the second time I get to reference that album! If I wasn’t dashing to catch a flight, I’d even find a link. So here’s a quick rundown: yup, as some of you know, I need to get to Boston to take a physical; if not, Simon & Schuster might not agree to release the paperback of Feeding the Monster. Oh, and also, I’ll be signing books at the Prudential Center B&N today from noon until 2; after that I’ll be running around to Boston-area bookstores signing their stock, so if you don’t make it to the Pru you’ll still have a chance to get an autographed copy. (I’ll post a full list of those stores later.) And, of course, there are those book plates

Post Categories: 2007 Offseason & Coco Crisp & Curt Schilling & Honeymoon & Jacoby Ellsbury & Kevin Youkilis & Mike Lowell & Phil Collins

Hello, I must be going

June 27th, 2006 → 4:48 pm @

I can’t tell you how many years I’ve wanted to reference this. Anyway, I’m off to Boston, where I likely won’t be able to keep up my normal frenetic posting schedule. But don’t worry mom and lonely guy sitting in his basement: I’ll be back on pace soon. And tomorrow there’ll be a Sneak Peek from back in 2003 in honor of #45’s return to Fenway. In the meantime, enjoy (and argue about) Nomar, read about how close the Sox came to passing on Papi, and enjoy tonight’s game. I know I will.

Post Categories: 2007 Offseason & Coco Crisp & Curt Schilling & Honeymoon & Jacoby Ellsbury & Kevin Youkilis & Mike Lowell & Phil Collins