About last night; Globe refuses to write about Mike Timlin’s high-wire act; Nomar! Nomar! Nomar!

September 15th, 2006 → 10:54 am @

First things first: thanks to everyone who came out last night to hear me talk about Feeding the Monster at Professor Thoms’. Chris, the always delightful man behind the bar, has some more copies of the book on stock; if you want to get a signed copy, pick one up from Chris during the Yankees series this weekend and I’ll come in and (inscrutably) personalize for you. (Line of the night, coming from Chris after I signed a book for his friend: “What in the world does that say?”) PT’s is at 219 Second Ave, south of 14th Street on the west side of the street.

A couple of other things about last night: I know fewer people want to watch the Sox these days. On the one hand I understand that; on the other hand it baffles me. I’ll never tire of watching baseball, and will never tire of watching the Sox. I love how Pedroia turns the double play; I love how Youkilis is perfecting the “what the fuck!” both hands on the helmet look; I even love watching lefty Lenny. I do not, however, love watching Mike Timlin pitch the ninth. Apparently, the Globe isn’t much enamored of that, either: in today’s game write-up, there’s almost no information about the actual game itself, as most of the article is dedicated to a discussion of whether or not Manny will play again this year. (My bet: nope.) In case you’re actually wondering what happened in Baltimore, Ian Browne has the skinny on redsox.com. A quick summary: Ortiz is getting walked a lot without Manny in the lineup; Mark Loretta is following in the Todd Walker-Mark Bellhorn tradition of unlikely offensive forces coming out of 2B (even though Loretta was at first last night, with Youks in left); Timlin gave up a first-batter double in the bottom of the ninth with the Sox clinging to a one-run lead before escaping from a 1st and 3rd, one out situation.

Finally, judging from last night’s Q/A, there’s still a whole lot of interest in the shortstop formerly known as Nomah. So here are the three interview outtakes I printed back in June:

* Nomar on his Achilles injury and 2004

* Nomar’s not always that thrilled about Boston

and finally:

* Nomar on being traded to the Cubs

There’s lots, lots more about Nomar in the book — and lots more about the enigma known as Manny, the other hot topic last night — so if, for some odd, unknowable reason, you haven’t picked one up yet, do it now. (Providence/Boston are folks can do so next week and have me sign said book at one of my appearances.)

Post Categories: Feeding the Monster Outtakes & Feeding the Monster Readings & Manny Ramirez & Nomar Garciaparra

Rewind: The day of the sale; the free agent class of 2000

September 10th, 2006 → 10:32 am @

I’ve been running around a lot the last few days, which has been a mixed blessing — on the one hand, it’s spared me from watching Mike Timlin (or, for that matter, the rest of the Red Sox bullpen) — but it’s also kept me from my normal, obsessive-compulsive posting. (I know: 16 posts in ten days isn’t something to apologize for. Thus: obsessive compulsive.)

So: here are a couple of flashbacks from way back in June. Despite knowing full well the considerable risks involved with writing about Manny, I’ll offer up a June 26th post on the free agent class of 2000 and what it means for Manny’s future with the Sox.

And even though I know no one’s yearning for the 2001, here’s an excerpt from the book that revisits December 20, 2001, the day the Yawkey Trust finally chose the new owners of the Red Sox.

So enjoy. Or, at the very least, distract yourself from 19 losses in the last 25 games.

Post Categories: Feeding the Monster Sneak Peeks & Manny Ramirez & Red Sox ownership

For fans of DP

September 5th, 2006 → 9:01 am @

53 at bats, 9 hits, 2 HRs, .170 BA, .200 OBP
Manny Ramirez’s stats as a September call-up with the Cleveland Indians in 1993

39 at bats, 4 hits, .103 BA, .125 OPB
Dustin Pedroia’s stats (so far) as a late-season replacement with the 2006 Boston Red Sox

(Thanks to The New York Times‘s Sunday “On Baseball” column by (gulp) Murray Chass for pointing out the Sept. stats. The relevant stats box isn’t re-printed online.)

Post Categories: Dustin Pedroia & Manny Ramirez

Manny, Wily Mo go to keep Papi company

August 29th, 2006 → 5:13 pm @

August 29, 5:00 pm Red Sox press release


BOSTON, MA–Red Sox outfielders Manny Ramirez and Wily Mo Pena will return to Boston on Tuesday to undergo further examination by team Medical Director Dr. Thomas Gill.

Ramirez has appeared in just one of Boston’s last five games due to soreness in his right knee. Pena has missed the last three games due to soreness in his left wrist.

Both players are expected to be further examined on Wednesday.

Post Categories: Manny Ramirez & Wily Mo Pena

That’s just Manny and his hammies (And it’s just Manny being omnisciently sourced)

August 23rd, 2006 → 11:50 am @

Imagine you’re married to a smoking hot chick. (I say chick only because, judging from the comments and names of people who’ve registered on the site, it seems as if most of the blog’s readers are men. But for the ladies in the house, imagine you’re married to a smoking hot hunk, and substitute in as you wish.) She’s a hellcat in the sack. I mean mind-bendingly, jaw-droppingly good, the kind of sex that leaves you weak-kneed for a day or two afterwards. She also likes football, baseball, and the Three Stooges. She’s funny. She’s smart. She’s interesting. She’s exciting. In the history of wifedom, it’s hard to imagine more than a handful of women who’d ever be able to compete. That’s not to say she doesn’t have her drawbacks: she refuses — flat out refuses — to visit your parents. She hates your friends. And she stubbornly chews with her mouth open. But you can deal with all of this. You happily deal with all of this.

The one thing that’s harder to deal with is those times, once or twice a year, when she up and disappears. Literally just checks out. Oftentimes, these moments come when you need her most: your boss just tore you a new one, or your dog just died, or you’re going in to get that weird lump checked out…and suddenly, she’s gone. Usually she’s back in a couple of days, but sometimes it’s a week. Or longer. The weird thing is, these moments often come immediately after she’s once again blown you away with how amazing she is. She’ll insist on staying at the game in the middle of a thunderstorm, or will surprise you with a pre-paid trip to Vegas…and then, bam, she’s gone. No matter how amazing things were a couple of days (or hours) earlier, that hurts. It hurts bad. And it’s almost impossible to understand.

Ladies and gentlemen, you’re the Boston Red Sox. And that smoking hot wife is Manny Ramirez.


Buried amidst all the carnage of the Boston Massacre, 2006 edition, is how freakishly good Manny has been as of late. During the five games against the Yankees, Manny had 20 plate appearances. He reached base 19 times. Think about that: in five games over four days, Manny made exactly one out. (It’s likely true that, as ESPN’s David Schoenfield argued last week, Manny is among the most unsung superstars in the game, although that’s due more to his silence than anything else.) He had two four-baggers. He had seven RBIs. The pitching might have come up short. The bullpen might have leaked runs like a flimsy piñata. David Ortiz might have had a frustratingly human series. But Manny? Manny really was (as the Fenway PA system reminded us on July 31, 2005) like Superman.

Except all was not right in Manny-world. Friday night, a couple of hours after the first gut punch of a loss and a couple of hours before the second one, Manny hit a sharp ball into the hole. It glanced off Derek Jeter’s glove, and he was given an error. Manny certainly didn’t need the single to improve his average (.329, 4th in the AL), his OBP (.445, 1st in the AL), his SLG (.625, 2nd in the AL), or his OPS (1.080, second (by .008) in the AL). Lord knows he wasn’t looking for that elusive base hit that’d help him snap out of a slump.

But to repeat what’s already become a hackneyed phrase, Manny, being Manny, threw a hissy fit. According to teammates (or according to people in the clubhouse who attributed this to teammates) and club officials, Manny had to be talked into suiting up on Saturday. On Sunday, according to several people privy to the situation, Manny tried to convince an MLB official to give him a hit on the play. And on Monday, according to everyone who was watching the game, Manny, because of his suddenly tightening hamstrings, didn’t play after the fourth inning. He also didn’t start last night’s game (although he did pinch-hit for Dustin Pedroia to lead off the top of ninth with the Sox down a run).

For years, Manny has had tight hamstrings. Manny’s also incredibly limber; the next time you go to a game, watch him warm up. And for years, Manny’s hammies have been the excuse cited by the team whenever Manny’s needed to take a couple of personal days. This is infuriating, regardless of what Manny did in the previous four innings or the previous four days or the previous four days or the previous 12 years. Yesterday, Terry Francona told the media, “He’s just sore. So rather than turn this into a week, try to let him get worked on and get him back as quick as possible.” Was he talking about Manny’s hamstrings? Or his head? Or a bit of both?


Sportswriting is a unique beast. It’s the only type of journalism in which someone’s called on to be a critic, an investigative reporter, and a gossip columnist…all at the same time. (Can you imagine if movie critics were also asked to report on the business side of Hollywood? How do you a pan a movie when the next day you need the exec who greenlighted the project to tell you about an upcoming merger?) It’s also the last place reporters and columnists regular elide from one role to the other (you’re not about to see Maureen Dowd writing news stories from Crawford), and just about the last place omniscient sourcing is permitted. If you can’t think of the last time you read a sentence that began, “According to teammates who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of clubhouse interactions,” that’s because you’ve never read a sentence that began that way.

I’ve never covered football, basketball, or hockey, but I have covered politics, business, and crime, and baseball is the only arena I know of in which everyone — from the players to the agents to the coaches to the managers to the front offices — is fully expected to lie. After he signed with the Yankees, Alan Embree never copped to telling the Red Sox he was going to sign with a team on the West Coast before ending up playing for the Yankees, the Red Sox never called him out, and Embree’s agent kept saying how disappointed Embree was about the whole thing. A lot of the time, reporters aren’t privy to these types of prevarications. Sometimes, however, they are, and sometimes people — the front office, players, etc — tells reporters something but tells them they can’t attribute it to anyone, even anonymously. And since there’s the absence of those “requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature” clauses, viola: omniscient sourcing.

This, I assume, was the case with Sean McAdam’s column in yesterday’s Providence Journal. “Think about that,” McAdam wrote. In the middle of the Sox’ three most dispiriting losses of the season, suffered at the hands of the team’s archrival, Ramirez sulked about losing credit for a meaningless single that didn’t even involve an RBI. …
[W]ith his team’s season in the balance, Ramirez intended to sit out to protest a scorer’s call? Would Jeter do that? Would David Ortiz? Would, in fact, any other player in the game?”

For anyone who saw Ortiz making a mad dash for second, sausage-link legs akimbo and arms furiously pumping, in the botttom of the ninth on Sunday knows the answer to that question. (Ortiz’s hit, a sharp shot down the first base line, was flubbed by Jason Giambi. Unlike Jeter’s play with Manny, Giambi wasn’t charged with an error, and Ortiz was given credit for a double.) McAdam, one of the most respected (and one of the best) Red Sox writers, doesn’t cite his sources. That’s not, I’m sure, because he doesn’t have them; I was able to independently confirm the basic facts with a couple of phone calls from my apartment in Manhattan. But sportswriters aren’t supposed to use the pedantic sourcing found on the front page. And because of that, sources expect they won’t be linked to a story…even as a generic “teammate” or “club official.” Still, in many quarters, fans were outraged at McAdam for writing his column instead of at Manny for up and disappearing at another crucial moment.


Thirty-eight years ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren told Sports Illustrated the order in which he read the newspaper: “I always turn to the sports section first. The sports section records people’s accomplishments; the front page nothing but man’s failures.” New Englanders, with their near-religious devotion to the Sox, expect the sports section to record people’s accomplishments more than most places. New Yorker’s don’t explode in outrage when players are caught acting like morons (or horny teenagers). Bostonians do…but this outrage is directed at the messengers, not the message. I understand that, and I’m sure McAdam does, too. But it doesn’t change the reality of the situation.

Post Categories: Manny Ramirez & Media reporting & Sean McAdam & Sports Reporters

You know we’ve got to find a way: Red Sox 2006 edition

August 20th, 2006 → 3:51 pm @

“I feel like somebody just kicked my ass. Actually somebody did…That was fucking unbelievable.”

Thus spake David Ortiz in the wake of Friday’s twin killing; one can only imagine what his mood was like after yesterday afternoon’s abomination. Ortiz (putting up monster numbers for the fourth straight year) and Manny Ramirez (putting up monster numbers for the 12th straight year) are far and away the best 3-4 combo in the game; at this point, there’s legitimate debate about whether they’re the best ever.

And right how they’re toiling for a team that appears to be heading quickly down the toilet. There’s a lot of time left in the season, and even after a frighteningly bad stretch, the Red Sox are still only 4.5 games out; a pair of wins tonight and tomorrow will bring them back within 2.5. Admittedly, that doesn’t seem likely. And admittedly, this appears to be a Red Sox team that will miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Are the Sox squandering one of the last remaining years of Manny and Papi?


Ever since the trade deadline, there’s been a lot of chatter — online, in print, over the airwaves — about the Red Sox’s long-term plan versus a focus on the present. I’m at least partially the cause of (or at fault for, depending on your perspective) this discussion because of a scene in the introduction of my book, where I write about a senior staff meeting the Sox held in the days immediately following last year’s playoff loss to the White Sox. In that meeting, Theo Epstein spoke frankly about the future of the organization. “In general, we’ve had a lot of success in player development,” he said. “We’re going to need a lot of patience, because there’s going to be a lot of failure. It could get rough. … Sooner or later we might need to take a half a step backward in return for a step forward. … What if we win 85 games [next year]? We’re bringing up some young players that are going to be better in ’07 than they will be next year. And they’ll probably be even better than that in ’08. … We can be both a large revenue club [that can afford to sign high priced free agents] and have a strong farm system. But it’s probably not going to be a seamless transition. This year we had a great year. We will probably be worse next year.”

In my book, Epstein’s comments — made less than a month before he walked out of Fenway in a gorilla suit — are offset against those made by Larry Lucchino. This scene has been interpreted as Epstein throwing in the towel for 2006 and Lucchino wanting to go for it year after year.

That’s not accurate. Epstein and Lucchino were both, in their own ways, discussing the team’s approach to dealing with the public, not its approach to dealing with the team. That hasn’t changed much: take advantage of what you have, don’t mortgage the future, search out possible bargains, and spend big money when you find someone worth it. This Sox administration has always been willing to trade its prospects so long as it felt like the deal made sense — it was Jon Lester, after all, who was set to go to Texas along with Manny during the week or so in which it looked as if A-Rod would be playing in Boston. And last month it was Lester (along with Coco Crisp) who would have gone to Atlanta for Andruw Jones.

What’s more, it’s hard to look objectively at this year and see a team that had decided to throw in the towel. The 2006 Red Sox have a $120 million payroll. Among this year’s new acquisitions, there’s Mike Lowell, a $9 million third baseman. The Sox spent $5.5 for two middle relievers, and a combined $6 million for a shortstop and second baseman. That, right there, is higher than the Florida Marlins payroll, and more than half of that of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Instead of Mike Lowell, Alex Gonzalez, Mark Loretta, and Kevin Youkilis — a $15 million infield — the Sox could have had Andy Marte, Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, and Youkilis — a $1.25 million infield (slightly more if you factor in the money the Sox sent to Atlanta in the Renteria-Marte deal). Instead of Rudy Seanez and Julian Tavarez, the Sox could have begun the season with Sanchez and Hansen, for a savings of about $5.5 million. Instead of Beckett, they could have begun the year with a rotation of Schilling, Wakefield, Clement, Wells, and Papelbon, with Foulke out there as the closer, Lenny DiNardo as a backup starter, and Arroyo sent packing for Wily Mo Pena, who would have been the team’s full-time center fielder. That, my friends, would have been a rebuilding year.

Instead — and despite the fact that the Sox were basically held together in 2005 by spit, luck, Damon, Ortiz, and Ramirez — Boston made a series of moves it thought would both allow the team to compete in 2006 and compete down the road. (I’m not going to argue the Damon non-signing again. The Sox couldn’t have re-signed Damon unless they’d offered him a seven-year deal. And I still think within a year or two we’ll all be glad Johnny’s not picking up his annual $13 million check from Yawkey Way.)

So what happened? Well, where do you want to start? Jason Varitek hit like a shell of his former self; then he got injured. Trot Nixon hit for less power than at any point in his career; then he got injured. Matt Clement, David Wells, Tim Wakefield, and Keith Foulke all spent (or are spending) serious time on the DL. Coco Crisp got injured and had a harder time adjusting to Boston than was predicted. Mike Timlin got injured and stopped looking like an ultra-durable 33-year old and started looking more like the 40-year old he actually is. Seanez and Tavarez were both busts. That’s a whole mess of crappy luck. The real mystery isn’t why the Sox are sucking right now; the real mystery is how they managed to do so well for so long with so much going wrong.


But back to the trade deadline. Let’s say the Sox had pulled off one of the blockbuster deals that was being discussed. Let’s say they’d acquired Roy Oswalt. Or Andruw Jones. They’d both be worth between 7 and 8 win shares for the two months remaining in the season — and that could, potentially, be enough to make up for the lost ground with the Yankees. Except these were trades, and in most iterations of these trades, the Sox would be losing Crisp, Lester, and perhaps another player. Lester and Crisp are projected to be worth between 7 and 8 win shares each over the season’s final two months…which leaves a net gain of zero. Having Andruw Jones in center would undoubtedly have made the Red Sox a better team…but the rotation would still be relying on two guys closer to AARP membership than they are to their teenage years, and the non-Papelbon bullpen would still be frighteningly shoddy. Oswalt would have bolstered the rotation, to be sure…but he wouldn’t have done anything about the relief, and wouldn’t have done anything to help bolster the offense. This is, after all, a team that yesterday relied on Javy Lopez for protection after Manny drew a couple of intentional passes.

How about Bobby Abreu, whom the Yankees picked up for chump change (in terms of what they had to give up)? As Gordon Edes and Nick Cafardo pointed out in yesterday’s Globe, Abreu would have cost the Sox $27.7 million for a season and a third. That’s a lot of cake. Instead, they got Eric Hinske for a little less than a season and a third at a cost of just over $4 million. Last year, Abreu had 17 win shares; Hinske had 12. And if twenty million dollars can only get you a net gain of five win shares, you’re not spending your money wisely. (A quick aside: the Sox haven’t made a decision to forego high-priced free-agents; to the contrary, they’ve decided that in order to cough up the money for truly valuable free-agents — those in their late 20’s as opposed to their late 30’s — they need to spend their money wisely.)

I’m not saying win shares are the be all and end all of evaluating players; like every metric, it’s flawed. Clearly the Sox thought straight up deals of Crisp and Lester for Jones or Crisp and Lester for Oswalt were worth it: they would have pulled the trigger on either one of those. But start throwing in other young pitchers in their first year of MLB service, and a good deal becomes a bad one.


On October 27, 2004 — you remember that day, right? — John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino sat in a hotel suite in St. Louis. “We don’t really want to go for it in any particular year,” Henry told me. “We want to be competitive every single year. Larry thinks we can expect to make the playoffs eight out of 10 years. I feel like we can do 10 out of 10.”

I asked what the difference was between going for broke one year and staying competitive every year.

“You’ve got to keep your eyes on both goals,” Lucchino said. “You can’t go for broke without some longer term perspective and you can’t have a longer term perspective, particularly in Boston, without some kind of annual focus on getting to the postseason. We have to operate on both dimensions every year, and I think we have. There’s a lot of focus on what we’ve done at the major league level and our post-season success and all that but if you look below the surface, we’ve had a pretty good couple of drafts the last couple of years. And commitments to player development.”

That was Lucchino talking, not Epstein. It’s true that Epstein warned of the possibility of needing to take half a step back before the team could take a step forward…but not because he was advocating that. He was advocating a more tempered public relations approach. The Red Sox have been on the verge of an aging team for several years; all things considered, they’ve managed to make that transition pretty gracefully.


As of late, I’ve been accused of being an apologist for the Red Sox administration. I understand where that comes from — in Boston, anyone who doesn’t turn into Chicken Little is accused of being an apologist. But the fact that I understand where the Red Sox are coming from does not mean I think they’ve executed their plans brilliantly. I’m no baseball scout, so I won’t try to pretend to know what to look for when it comes to evaluating pitchers. I do know this administration has a mixed record (at best) of picking up pitching talent. There are obviously reasons (beyond the 2003 World Series; Mark Bellhorn had a great 2004 World Series and no one’s throwing cash at him) the Sox felt Josh Beckett was worth $30 million. I don’t know what they are, and the past month has made me wonder if any of us will ever know. The failure of Seanez and Tavarez this year would be easier to take if it hadn’t been preceded by the failure of a lot of other middle relievers the Sox thought might succeed, from Matt Mantei to Chad Bradford to Ramiro Medonza…the list goes on.

This season has been hard to stomach, but I understand what’s going on: shitty luck plus aging players is no recipe for success. I also understand why it didn’t make sense to go all in this year: all in still likely wouldn’t beat the Tigers or the Yankees. If, in a year, Beckett’s ERA is still hovering around 6.00 and the young guns in the bullpen are still coughing up runs, I’ll be more upset, both at the time and for the future. After all, we only have two more years of Papi and Manny anchoring the middle of the batting order.

Post Categories: David Ortiz & Feeding the Monster Sneak Peeks & Josh Beckett & Larry Lucchino & Manny Ramirez & Oblique references to Marvin Gaye lyrics & Red Sox ownership & sabermetrics & Theo Epstein & trade deadline

It’s only because I’m in a pissy mood that I’m letting myself do this. (Or: the old Manny, Ortiz, and PEDs debate)

August 19th, 2006 → 8:10 pm @

There’s a wingnut hanging out over here who is trying to bait me into an argument about why Manny and Ortiz are roiding up. I know this is wrong, but when I’m in a particularly bad mood, a good beatdown always of cheers me up. Comments by said baiter (screen name: pepsicorp) are in itals.

Ahh, the old Ortiz always had power claim. Of course, it’s pure BS. Lifted this from an ESPN post:
Theory 1: Always had power, just couldn’t hit as well. One poster says he had a season where he hit a HR every 16ab in MN (it was actually closer to 17). But in Boston he’s hitting HRs every 10ab. Heck of an improvement from 25 yrs old to 30. Another said he never made good contact in MN although he hit 270+ 4/5 seasons.

Ortiz has always had power. In fact, it’s one of the reasons the Sox wanted him — because their scout in the Dominican couldn’t get over what a superstar he was down there. In 2001, he hit .234 but had a secondary average of .400 — a sign of a player who could be on the verge of a breakout. If you’re interested, check it out.

Theory 2: MN coaches don’t know how to coach Ortiz. Nice theory b/c the Twins clearly sucked but they did have competant coaching. TK won 2 WS and manager of the year (you had Williams and Little). Ortiz is the only player from that horrid era of Twins play that left and became a better hitter. Others, like Knoblauch, McCarthy, Cordova and Meares clearly had their best hitting seasons in MN. Obviously, the Sox did have him look at his swing differently but a 40HR improvement based on coaching? Not a chance.

First off, get your facts straight: Ortiz didn’t play for Jimy Williams. Second, Ron Gardenhire was Ortiz’s coach in 2002. And if you’re going to tell me you think Ron Gardenhire is a brilliant manager I have some swampland in Florida to sell you. Maybe you missed the 2004 ALDS? The current Twins regime is notorious for relying on speed, pitching, and defense as opposed to power — to the point where they’d discourage people from going yard in favor of moving the runner along. In fact, this is exactly what they did to Ortiz, telling him to hit the ball to the opposite field as opposed to swinging for the fences; that’s why Ortiz said the Twins wanted him to “hit like a little bitch.” (From an article on why the Twins have’t had a player hit 30 home runs in 19 years: “Boston’s David Ortiz has become one of the game’s most feared sluggers after never reaching his full potential with the Twins, a point that Ortiz has made many times by criticizing the organization’s conservative approach to teaching young hitters. Minnesota’s philosophy: Go to the opposite field and form sound fundamentals before letting it rip. ‘It’s not that anybody is against hitting home runs,’ Gardenhire said. ‘It’s just that first the process comes with learning to hit and be a hitter.'”) Third, while Knoblauch may have had his best years by average in MN, he had consecutive seasons of 17 and 18 home runs in New York…after topping out at 13 in MN. Two of Cordova’s top 3 HR years came after he left Minnesota. Pat Meares was a lifetime .258 hitter — he sucked when he played for the Twins and he sucked when he left. And I have no idea who McCarthy is. (If you’re talking about Dave McCarty…well, then you’re talking about Dave McCarty.) Finally, Ortiz’s batting average — which you seem to equate with being a good hitter — didn’t spike up after leaving the Twins; his power did. In 2000 and 2002, the only two years in MN in which he had more than 400 ABs, he hit .282 and .272, which isn’t hugely off line with what he’s done in Boston: .288, .301, .300, .284. And over the past three years, Ortiz has hit .271 on the road…which would seem to indicate that the Sox were right when they thought he would be the type of hitter who could take advantage of Fenway.

Theory 3: PEDs. Why is this hard to grasp? In MN Ortiz was an extremely well liked player known for being aloof and lazy with a poor work ethic and being injury prone.

I’ve never met someone who was extremely well liked and known for being aloof, lazy, and with a poor work ethic; that’s just asinine. If he was aloof and lazy with a poor work ethic, he wouldn’t have been well liked. Another reason the Sox wanted him — besides the power he showed in the DR — was the fact that he was both well liked and known for his ability to keep a clubhouse loose. And he was injury prone because he was a big guy with balky knees who was stuck playing first base on artificial turf. Since coming to Boston, he hasn’t played in the field, and he hasn’t had to play on turf.

The Twins, a playoff team now, let him go for nothing and Boston was the only team that gave him a chance.

Terry Ryan has said exactly that…just as he’s said that letting Ortiz go was the biggest mistake of his career. What’s more, the Yankees also wanted him — but they had a logjam at first/DH, with Giambi and Nick Johnson both on the roster.

27 yrs old and he hadn’t even hit 60HRs in his career. Why wouldn’t he try some PED to improve his then failing career? I would’ve, you would’ve.

Look, just because you’re a cheater — or a wanna-be cheater — doesn’t mean everyone is. Plenty of players have seen spikes in their power from 25 to 30. In fact, plenty have seen spikes at age 27, the year Ortiz arrived in Boston. There’s Stan Musial, who’d never hit more than 19 home runs before age 27; in his next eight years, he topped 30 six times and 35 three times. There’s Dave Winfield, who never topped 30 home runs before age 27. There’s Dwight Evans, who didn’t top 20 homers until he was 26 and didn’t top 30 until he was 30. And, since I know you heart the Twins, there’s Gary Gaetti, who hit 5 home runs in a full season at age 25 (sandwiched between a 20 and a 21 hr season) before hitting 34 when he turned 27.

Theory 4: Twin fans secretly hate Ortiz for sucking for them and becoming good for another team so it must be sour grapes.

This is the best theory I’ve heard so far.

Well, I can’t prove this one if you don’t believe it. Red Sox fans became more hated than Yank fans over the years so you have some ammo here but I don’t really care.

That doesn’t even begin to make sense.

Since Seth is so high and mighty on the integrity of the game, I’d like to know his thoughts on PEDs on the Sox. You have a former pitcher who said it was everywhere. Manny came from Clev, a team that should clearly raise eyebrows.

My beef with Giambi wasn’t so much that he juiced, but that he juiced and now is moralizing about the reporters who uncovered it. Anyway, you’re talking about Paxton Crawford, right? The guy who played in Boston two years before Ortiz got there? I’m sure there are players on the Red Sox who have used PEDs. There might still be; I have no idea. The only people we know were juicing are those who’ve been implicated by their grand jury testimony or tested positive.

As for Manny, this is his 12th year in a row of remarkable consistency. During that time, he’s never hit more than 45 home runs and he’s never hit less than 26. Assuming he makes it to 37 this year, it’ll be the eighth year in a row (not counting his injury-shortened ’02 campaign) in which he’s hit between 37 and 45 homers. Compare that to the odd, late-career spikes for the folks we can reasonably guess used PEDs:

* Sammy Sosa hadn’t hit more than 36 home runs in a season before he put up 4 straight seasons of 66, 63, 50, 64.

* Mark McGwire had never hit more than 50 before hitting 52, 58, 70, 65 in consecutive years.

* In his first four years in the bigs, Jason Giambi hit between 20 and 33 home runs. Then, according to his grand jury testimony, he starts juicing. Voila! 43, 38, 41, 41.

* After hitting more than 30 hrs exactly once before he turned 30, Rafael Palmeiro had consecutive years in which he hit 39, 39, 38, 43, 47, 39, 47, 43, 38.

* And, of course, there’s Barry Bonds. In his first 14 seasons, he topped 45 home runs once (and 40 three times). Starting at age 35, he hit 49, 73, 45, and 45.

Let’s hear Seth’s version.

My version? My version is that in the current environment, it’s hard to say for sure anyone’s 100 percent clean (although Manny is as close to a model of non-juicing consistency as is possible and there’s a whole boatload of reasons why Ortiz has blossomed). My version is also that if you want people to take you seriously, you should come up with something – anything – to back up what you’re trying to say. If not, you just sound like a moron. Correction: an aloof and lazy moron with a poor work ethic.

Ahhh…I feel better already.

3 AM SUNDAY MORNING EDIT: Not surprisingly, pepsicorp answered with another inane comment. Only slightly surprising is the fact that I again took the time to answer. It’s below. This time, it’s my responses to his comments that are italed.


Hey, nice. You answered me posts. I’m actually impressed. Still, we have issues. The main issue I have with you is that you don’t know anything but apparently hung around the team for a year. That seems like you’re lazy/aloof or willfully blind. Either you know some players are cheating or you don’t – and odds are very good that that someone on the team uses. What % of players use? I’ve heard as high as 75% or as low as 10%.

However, I can’t imagine someone who has the access you do doesn’t know more than what you’re speaking of. I’m really hoping we’re not going to be reading an article from you in a few years telling us how you’re another victim and can’t believe players were hiding this from you. Enough columnists already wrote that article.

Lazy, aloof, willfully blind — or not physically in people’s homes when they would be using. I’ve written that I think the media was (and is) too credulous; it’s not my fault you haven’t bothered to look that up. I’ve also written that the clubs themselves have no idea who is or isn’t using — in an age when players change teams constantly, and an age when contracts are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, why, in god’s name, would players let team officials know they’re juicing? And finally, I’ve written that without a solid testing program — and the current one most definitely is not — we’ll never truly have any idea who is or isn’t clean, and because of that, everyone will be suspect. Try using a teensy, tiny amount of the time you spend writing comments on other people’s blogs actually doing some research.

Further, your defenses of Ortiz aren’t that sound. Ortiz was coached by Gardy one year, before that it was the TK era. And it was that era (94 or so to 2001) where the Twins clearly sucked. Still, no other Twin that left became a better power hitter. Knobby hit more a few more HR (best seasons in NY were 17 and 18, in MN it was 11 and 13) but only once did he even hit higher than his career slg avg. If the Twins organization was so bad you’d expect more hitters to leave MN and improve. Ortiz is the only player from that period that did. And he improved by a lot. And maybe the Sox were able to predict his future greatness but they took thier time to sign him – he was a free agent for 5 weeks. This sounds more like a defense after the fact.

In Knoblauch’s highest HR year in Minnesota, he hit about 72 percent of what he hit in NY (13 versus 18). During Ortiz’s last year in MN, he hit about 65 percent of what he hit the next year in Boston (20 versus 31) — and in Boston he was hitting in a park that rewarded his swing, with a team that encouraged power-hitting, and with protection from the best-hitting team in the history of the game.

Wait — let me guess: now you’re going to say that Ortiz went from 20 to 31 to 41 to 47. True. In 2002 (20 home runs) he had 412 ABs. In 2004 (41) he had 582 — meaning he had 1.4 about times as many chances to hit home runs. 582 ABs in MN in 2002 would have produced about 28 home runs…which means that, once you adjust for at bats, he hit about 68 percent as many home runs in 2002 as he did in 2004. By 2005, he was hitting in front of Manny Ramirez. And you can’t get better protection than that.

Finally — and I really do not know why you can’t get this through your thick head — the Twins have said they not only badly bungled that situation but that it was a defining mistake of that era.

Further, one of the reasons Ortiz hates TK was that TK thought he was soft and wouldn’t play hurt. Hence the rep.

You also state that the Twins didn’t let hitters hit HR. Not exactly true.

I’ve never in my life come close to saying the Twins didn’t let hitters hit home runs; I said they didn’t emphasize it, and they discouraged it when it came to Ortiz. The Twins have also said this. Repeatedly.

In 2000, Jones hit 19, Ortiz 10.

In 2000, 102 players hit more than 19 home runs.

In 2001, Koskie 26, Hunter 27, Ortiz 18.

In 2001, 46 players hit more than 27.

In 2002 (Gardy’s first year), Hunter 29, Jones 22, Ortiz 20. Sure, Ortiz blames MN for his failures as a hitter but remarkably NO OTHER hitter has. Amazing that Ortiz was singled out solely by the staff.

In 2002, 38 players hit more than 29. As I — and about every other media outlet in the country — have pointed out, the Twins had gone 19 years without a player hitting 30 home runs; 478 players had seasons of 30+ in that time, or about 27 players per season. The Twins haven’t had a player with an OPS of over .900 since 1996; last year, there were 27 players who had OPS’s of .900+. The Twins have been a crappy power team for years. That could be because the front office is stupid, or it could be because they’ve de-emphasized power in favor of small-ball, defense, and pitching.

You note that Winfield, Musial et al showed spikes at these ages. However, these players certainly had different career paths. There was no question about them at age 27 (Ortiz’ 1st year in Boston). They were complete players. Ortiz was a washout. A bit of a difference.

That he wasn’t able to stay healthy in his early 20s is blamed on turf? And now that he’s a DH on grass no more injuries. I suppose that makes some sense although that’s also very convinent. The big advantage, supposedly, for PEDs is much faster recovery time.

You suppose that makes sense? How is that very convenient? Perhaps you’ve heard of Occam’s razor. (Wait a minute: of course you haven’t.) It states that the simplest answer is usually the correct answer. What makes more sense: moving Ortiz off of artificial turf and not playing him in the field made him less prone to injury? Or Ortiz decided he was going to use steroids and therefore hatched a grand scheme to switch to grass and become a DH by pissing off a manager who’d left Minnesota a year earlier and then using his Jedi mind tricks to get the Twins to ask him to slap hit singles to the opposite field? Finally, if, as you say, Ortiz was “washed up,” why wouldn’t he have decided to start juicing before — say, in 2000 or 2001 or 2002. You know — the years that are now acknowledged to be the steroid era.

You mock me for making accusations with no fact. Well, since I’m not a reporter and have no access I don’t have much to go on.

Every single thing — everything — from my post and this response was based on “reporting” I did on the this new-fangled thing called the Interweb. Using high-tech, top-secret journalist tools like Google. You don’t have much to go on because a) you don’t have much to go on and b) you’re a moron.

However, we also know that the Twins organization and the Sox org have both been tied to steroids so I believe it is fair to suspect some players. If you don’t think so fine, but it does call into question your journalistic curiosity.

I’m not sure why you think you know anything about journalism, but let me give you a some quick lesson. It’s not “journalism” to go throwing around accusations in the total and complete absence of facts. That’s recklessly irresponsible. I don’t think it’s fair to call anyone into suspect in the absence of a single shred of evidence. What you’re citing isn’t evidence; it’s not even particularly suspicious, although I do realize you’d need a combination of a tiny amount of smarts and a teensy bit of curiosity to actually sit down, dig up some stats, and crunch some numbers.

But, for the record, there are lots of things I’m curious about. I’m curious about the inner workings of the Bush White House. I’m curious about Scientology. I’m curious about global warming and astronomy and the nature vs. nurture in human developement. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or the resources to go out and write books about all of these subjects. I wasn’t writing a book about steroids, although if I’d somehow stumbled upon any evidence — say, a syringe sticking out of someone’s ass — I’d have done everything I could to figure out what was going on. Right now there’s an MLB-endorsed committee granted near-prosecutorial powers and run by the man who helped broker peace in Ireland, and thus far they haven’t come up with any bombshells. I don’t know why it’s surprising that I didn’t either…especially since that wasn’t what I was working on.

Wouldn’t you like to know if the best hitter since Ted Williams is cheating?

I actually know that — or am pretty sure I know that. Barry Bonds was cheating. David Ortiz doesn’t come close to being the best hitter since Ted Williams. He’s not close to the best hitter currently in baseball. He’s not even the best hitter currently on the Red Sox.

Manny has been remarkable consistant – so were Palmerio and Juan Gonzalez – the hitter he most closely resembles. Ortiz was a washed up player who couldn’t stay healthy – now he’s an MVP canidate.

The steroid cloud is going to stay over a lot of players until people know what happened. Part of that will be good reporting. You credit the Red Sox wining on money, smarts and nerve. Shouldn’t you also determine how much ‘roids played a part?

It’s fitting that your email handle is “brat” — you have that rare combo of zero intellectual sophistocation and a petulant belief that whatever dumb thought comes into your head is not only correct but deserves being shared. Most people move beyond that when they’re 12. I’m know I deserve part of the blame for indulging you. Don’t worry — it won’t happen again.

Post Categories: David Ortiz & Manny Ramirez & Paxton Crawford & Rampaging morons & Steroids