Me and Julio: the 2nd half drags on the offense (it’s not who you think)

August 22nd, 2007 → 9:50 am @

It’s been a curious season…to say the least. While I know I remain in the minority in claiming that thus far this season, Coco has been the team’s MVP — and as far as I’m concerned, it’s really not even that close — there are likely a much higher number of folks who share my sentiment that Hideki “Darkman” Okajima and Mike “Don’t Call it a Comeback” Lowell are the next two most valuable members of the Crimson Hose. (Why Okie and not Paps? Well, Papelbon was expected to dominate; Okie has saved the bullpen time and time again, and more than a few times has enabled JP to be in a position to get that save in the ninth. As for Lowell, well, he’s picked up an oddly anemic offense.)

But the fact that I consider a center fielder who was almost booed out of Boston a linchpin of the team doesn’t begin to describe the oddities we’re witnessing.To show you just how weird, here’s a quick pop quiz:

Who’s been he worst offensive player on the Sox since the All-Star break?

Nope, you guessed wrong.

And wrong again.

And wrong again.

The correct answer? Kevin Youkilis, who’s put up a .210 BA and a .653 OPS. The only other regular player that comes close to this level of ineptitude has been V-Tek, weighing in at .229 and .669. Here’s the rest of the starting nine (post AS-break only):

Papi: .326, .982
Man Ram: .302, .914
Lowell: .345, .901
DP: .338, .830
Julio “Down by the Schoolyard” Lugo: .326, .810
CC Rider: .290, .774
JDD: .271, .735

So what does this mean? Well, for one thing, it might mean that Youk — who’s been striking out and swinging at bad pitches more than I’ve seen in the past — was talking to himself more than Dustin when he warned of the exhausting rigors of a baseball season. (Seriously, can you imagine wind-up Pedroia ever running out of gas?)

It also shows something interesting about the nature of baseball fandom. My purely unscientific poll shows that some large majority of Sox fans view Julio as the biggest drag on the offense, followed by Coco and Drew; in fact, Lugo is handily topping Tek and Drew in a lot of offensive categories — including RBIs — and is only two ribbies behind Youk (61 to 63) even though he’s hit in the 1 or 9 spots 93 percent of the time; Tek, meanwhile, has gotten 81 percent of his ABs in the 7 spot; Youk has had 85 percent of his in the 2 or 5; and Drew has somehow racked up 73 percent in the five hole.

The moral of the story? If you’re gonna suck, do it in the latter half of the season. By that time, your numbers have been seared into folks brains, and your season-long averages won’t ever look truly atrocious. Maybe next year, Julio. Maybe next year.

Post Categories: 2007 Season & Coco Crisp & Hideki Okajima & J.D. Drew & Julio Lugo & Kevin Youkilis & Mike Lowell & Oblique references to Simon and Garfunkel songs

Now playing at shortstop…Dave Kingman

July 25th, 2007 → 11:40 am @

Yet another one of Feeding the Monster‘s astute readers (are there any other kind?) sends in this interesting observation: Julio Lugo has six HRs and 47 RBIs, while Derek “Cap’t Intangibles” Jeter has 7 homers and 49 RBIs. This is somewhat remarkable, considering Jeter’s hit further down (usually second or third) and is on a Yankees team that’s leading the league in many offensive categories; Lugo, meanwhile, suffered through an 0-for-June. That’s not to say that the two are anywhere close to being at the same level: Jeter has .401 OBP, good for 10th in the AL; Lugo’s .290 puts him 85th. (Who woulda thunk that Lugo would turn into a SS version of Dave Kingman? Kingman’s career averages: 25 HRs, 76 RBIs, .301 OBP. Lugo’s projected ’07 totals: 11 HRs, 76 RBIs, .290 OBP.)

(An aside: in response to Jack’s query on yesterday’s GD post, “catholic |Ààkaθ(…ô)lik| adjective 1 (esp. of a person’s tastes) including a wide variety of things; all-embracing.”)

Post Categories: Derek Jeter & Julio Lugo

Memorial day reading: pitching prospects, offensive scuffles, Gold Glover Julio Lugo (and FTM)

May 25th, 2007 → 12:15 pm @

It’s Memorial Day weekend, it’s 90 degrees…and I’m moving. Perfect timing! But I haven’t forgotten my blogalicious duties, so without furtherado, this wrapup/compendium:

* Some good news on the Sox’s home-grown pitching talent front and some thoughts about why it’s best to remember the all of the implications of every action. Jon Lester has been ripping it up at Pawtucket to the tune of around .8 Ks per inning and a 1.62 ERA. We all saw lefty Lester’s potential last year, and we all hope he’s back in the bigs soon. One thing we might all not know: if the infamous A-Rod for Manny trade had gone down in the winter of ’04, Lester wouldn’t be here…because he was slated to go to Texas as part of the deal. In other minor-league news, Clay Buchholz is getting raves at AA (to the point of folks saying he out-dueled Clemens earlier this week). The Sox were able to draft CB because of the compensatory pick they got when Pedro signed with the Mets. Every rational person would admit that, thus far, Petey hasn’t been worth his annual salary in New York. If Clay develops into a reliable fourth starter — and people are talking about him as much more than that — he’ll definitely be worth his. (One last interesting Buchholz note is that he dropped as low as he did in the draft because of a laptop theft in high school. I got arrested in high school (and did lots of stuff I should have been arrested for but wasn’t) so I’m fully in favor of second chances…

* Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Rob Bradford’s work. He has a recent couple of pieces worth checking out. His most recent post in his always-worth reading Herald blog, The Bradford Files has several interesting tidbits, including details of Sox players’ off-season workouts (I’m not going to be trying those anytime soon) and part of a Q/A with Eric Hinske. These are the types of things blogs should have: interesting notes that wouldn’t make it into the paper and standard-fare Q/As that aren’t jaw-droppingly revelatory but are interesting nonetheless. (One especially interesting note is Hinske’s thoughts about Theo’s relationship with the players.) And a Herald article from a couple of days ago is another example of why I’m a fan of Rob’s: a evergreen feature on Sox advance scouts Dana Levangie and Todd Claus actually teaches you something about the team you might not know even if you were an obsessive reader of all things Red Sox related…

* Speaking of evergreens, Gordo has a nice piece in the Globe about the job of official scorers. This is an perfect example of a story that oftentimes wouldn’t make it into the paper for all the wrong reasons: because it seems obvious to everyone on the inside. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that’s not the case for your average reader.

* Two interesting perspectives on the Sox’s recent successes…and reasons why they might not be the winningest team in baseball when all is said and done. The ProJo’s Sean McAdam weighs in on the J.D. Drew’s struggles and the bullpen’s successes. McAdam finds Drew’s offensive suckitude troubling (you’ll get no argument from me there) and the bullpen’s lights-outedness unlikely to continue (ditto). But — and this is a big but — it seems like there’s a logical inconsistency behind thinking a consistently good player won’t return to his level and a group that’s collectively over achieving will fall back to earth. The Telegram-Gazette‘s Bill Ballou looks at all of the Sox’s underachievers (Crisp, Drew, Hinske, Pineiro, and Manny) and sees an illustration of Francona’s skills as a manager: one of the ways he keeps the clubhouse functioning smoothly in a tough-to-play-in town is by showing faith in guys when they’re scuffling. As Ballou notes, sometimes in pays off (Damon and Bellhorn in the ’04 playoffs) and sometimes it doesn’t (Bellhorn and Millar in the ’05 season). One point I’d add: it’s not always just that Francona is showing patience; sometimes it’s that the players are acting like whiny little punks (Millar in the ’05 season).

* Speaking of Manny, if the Sox weren’t tearing it up, we’d be hearing a lot more about his general suckiness, a topic Edes covered earlier this week (and one that’s been receiving some attention over at SoSH). Edes talks to the scout that signed Manny about his seeming hesitation at the plate. It’s hard not to get a tinge of panic when watching him walk back to the bench after being called out on strikes one more time; on the other hand, I was with the Sox in 2005, the Gammons “he just doesn’t care out there” year, the “I’m worried about my mom and her blood transfusions” year, the black-hole until late May year. History says there’s no reason to expect this to be any different. Emotions worry otherwise.

* And finally, for everyone out there who thinks the Lugo signing was, based on the evidence thus far, an unmitigated disaster, here’s an interesting factoid: John Dewan, author of The Fielding Bible, says Lugo’s been the fourth best defensive shortstop in all of baseball.


That’s it for now. It’s gonna be a hot one this weekend, and you don’t need to be back at work until Monday. That means, of course, that it’s an absolutely perfect time to read Feeding the Monster, which is available from Amazon for only $17.16 (cheap!). And, of course, free signed and personalized bookplates are here for the asking. They’re really nice. Seriously: ask anyone you know who has one. Or just write in. But whatever you do, act today.

Post Categories: 2007 Season & Clay Buchholz & J.D. Drew & Jon Lester & Julio Lugo & Manny Ramirez & Rob Bradford & Sports Reporters

Guess who’s back…back again

February 6th, 2007 → 8:42 pm @

I’m almost certain I’ve already used that lame, ripped-off headline after disappearing for three days or so. But I’ve found — especially when I have other things going on and when it’s so motherfucking cold outside it takes all of my energy to go out to get milk — that this whole keeping-informed-to-the-extent-that-I-feel-like-I-have-something-to-add-to-the-conversation stuff is hard. And yes, I know, I could just blather on about a subject about which I have nothing to add…but I’m not at that point. Yet.

Anyway, to keep the whole Slim Shady thing going, way back when I did the whole “cleaning out my comments” schtick (twice, actually); it’s time for a reminder. I’m all for throwing some elbows and letting the invective (or the freak flag) fly, but once a conversation has run its course (or once people start being truly offensive), I’ll cut things off. Don’t take it personally, folks…

Post Categories: Grateful Dead & Julio Lugo

Here we go again: In defense of (or at least an argument for) J.D. Drew

December 6th, 2006 → 10:12 am @

Last night brought a couple of much-anticipated Red Sox moves: the signings of J.D. Drew (5 years, $70 million) and Julio Lugo (4 years, $36 million). From a pure economic standpoint, these signings are either crazy expensive (you’re not going to hear the end of “but they could have signed Johnny for $52 million” for a good while) or pretty damn cheap (is J.D. worth $4 million more a year than Gary Matthews? Hell yeah).

J.D. will come to Boston with a lot of expectations…a lot of low expectations, that is. There were petitions urging the Sox front office not to sign the guy. He’s been repeatedly labeled a lily-livered pansy, a guy who’s soft, who can’t play hurt, who lacks fire.

Here are some thoughts — and observations — on that.

* We’d all do well to check out exactly how good a player Drew is. He has the 25th highest slugging percentage of all active players, and the 15th highest among active players under 35. He’s posted a career line of .286, .393, .512. His OPS is .905, compared to .924 for David Ortiz (and an otherworldly 1.011 for Manny). And he’s a better fielder (and baserunner) than either of the Sox’s Big Two.

* I have a hard time believing that a player gets to be a major leaguer while being truly “soft,” just as I think it’s usually a load of crap when we all debate about whether this or that player can or can’t handle being booed. By the time you reach the majors, you’ve pushed through enough so that you damn well better be able handle some catcalls. And it’s incredibly difficult to make the physical commitment to being a professional athlete while being a big-time wuss. Drew makes me nervous, but not because I think he’s a crybaby; he makes me nervous because I worry he might have one of those bodies that’s just not that durable. If that’s the case, we just committed to five years of Drew renting space on the trainer’s table.

So why the rep? It could be because, unlike, say, Trot Nixon, Drew comes off as a more passive player — there’s not the helmut slamming or frequent cursing. (Drew and Trot have averaged pretty much the exact same number of games played per year in their careers. Go figure.) Drew’s also never particularly endeared himself to fans, so when Manny sits out for last month of the season despite a clean MRI and medical clearance from the team, it’s because he knows his body better than anyone, yada yada yada. But we’re all too ready to label Drew, who’s not only never played in Boston but has never played in the American League, as a bust from the get-go. Maybe he will be. But let’s give him a chance.

Tony Massarotti has a little item showing what the Red Sox’s lineup would look like if the season started tomorrow. I’ll throw in career BAs, OBPs, and SLGs:

Julio Lugo, .277, .340, .402
Coco Crisp, .282, .329, .416
David Ortiz, .283, .374, .550
Manny Ramirez, .314, .411, .600
J.D. Drew, .286, .393, .512
Mike Lowell, .273, .339, .463
Jason Varitek, .269, .348, .450
Kevin Youkilis, .275, .379, .423
Dustin Pedroia, NA

Papi, Manny, and J.D. wouldn’t exactly be a modern-day Murderer’s Row — Ruth and Gehrig both had slugging percentages of over .750! in 1927 — but they’d be pretty damn good.

Meanwhile, the assumption is that any effort to trade Manny is losing steam. I can only assume that means there’ll be a news conference announcing his new destination within the next couple of hours…

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & J.D. Drew & Julio Lugo