What – you want more on the Mitchell Report?

December 13th, 2007 → 6:46 pm @

Lots and lots and lots and lots of actual and virtual ink will be spilled on the Mitchell Report, which is going to make life hell for a whole mess of people. I’ll resist added too much of my drivel and will instead limit myself to some few quick points on issues such as…

Roger Clemens. Why, you might ask, would a sure-fire Hall of Famer risk his reputation and legacy over these last five or so years by taking PEDs? People asked me that question again and again during the pre-season frenzies of last season and 2006. I have no way of knowing; for some reason, Clemens won’t talk to me. But I do have an idea: because he has never, in his entire life, had to deal with the consequences of his actions. He can act like a teenage mutant ninja freak and throw broken bats across the field and it’s chalked up to competitive fire. He can demand ludicrous contract clauses like Hummers and private transportation and he’s indulged. Why, after years and years of this, would he suddenly think that the rules applied to him? (Clemens is far from alone in this regard; this is something that crops up again and again in ballplayers, who are constantly reminded that the normal rules of society–stay faithful to your spouse, clean up after yourself, don’t eat McDonald’s for breakfast–don’t apply to them.

I Love (the fact that I’m not playing in) New York. Plenty of teams’ fans are going to be crowing/letting out a huge sigh of relief…so long as those fans aren’t rooting for the Mets and the Yankees. A quick scan of what is destined to become known as the list shows current and former New Yorkers including Kevin Brown, Paul Lo Duca, Mo Vaughn, Todd Pratt, Ron Villone, David Justice, Chuck Knoblauch, Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Lenny Dykstra. Does that mean that other teams–like, say, the Sox–are (or were) any cleaner? Hell no. It just means no-one else had a clubhouse attended that got popped.

The non-inclusion of any of the Idiots: Earlier today, what turned out to be a fake list was leaked; that one included names like Nomar, Johnny Damon, and Trot Nixon, along with other usual suspects like Pudge, Pujols, and Milton Bradley. (Later in the day, well-circulated rumor had Varitek also on the list.) Back in 2005, a member of the Sox’s front office physically shuddered at the thought of what would happen in Boston if news ever broke about someone on the ’04 team roiding up. It looks like that won’t happen…for now, anyway. That brings us to…

Eric Gagne. Gagne, as everyone now knows, was on the list, which can’t be a surprise to anyone. (Also included in the report is news that the Sox inquired about Gagne’s supposed doping before acquiring him at the deadline.) It turns out that the biggest favor Gagne may have done Boston is sucking ass for the second half of the season–now, at least, no one can point to him as one of the reason’s for the team’s success.

That’s all for now. I’ve written plenty about steroids in the past, including last August, when I wondered why no one was wondering about Roger, and way back in October ’06, when I mocked the press’s surprise that Clemens had been fingered in he Grimsley affidavit. I also tagged Jason Giambi a gutless punk, ripped into the Players Union for defending the players’ right to destroy their livers, lamented the fact that Jose Canseco seemed to be the only honest guy around, and talked about how Bill James compared steroids to going through a divorce. (Sort of, anyway.)

More later, I’m sure.

Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Eric Gagne & Jason Giambi & Jason Grimsley & Jason Varitek & Johnny Damon & Nomar Garciaparra & Roger Clemens & Steroids & The Mitchell Report & Trot Nixon

Process vs. results, part 4183 in a continuing series: the myth of the 3-0 double

January 26th, 2007 → 12:03 pm @

Longtime readers will know that Murray ain’t my only obsession; I’ve also been fixated on the notion of process versus results, especially as it relates to baseball (and stock picking). Honestly: who else do you know that could incorporate Robert Rubin’s economic policy and why the Boston media doesn’t write about the positive things happening in Red Sox Nation? (On two seperate occasions, no less?)

There’s a strained way that this relates to Trot Nixon and one of the most discussed at-bats of the 2004 World Series. The scene: Game 4, 3rd inning, bases loaded, 2 out, Sox leading 1-0, Nixon at the plate with a 3-0 count. Jason Marquis serves up a meatball that Trot nails; the ball is mere inches away from being a grand-slam. (The fact that that ball didn’t leave the park speaks to Trot’s diminished power…but I digress.) The Sox were roundly praised for giving Trot the green light on 3-0, especially with Marquis struggling and a walk scoring a run. Except Trot wasn’t given a green light; he simply blew the sign. Taking a pitch was arguably the right move: Marquis was struggling, there was nowhere to put Trot, and Shaggy McShouldaBeenSeriesMVP was on deck. In the end, it didn’t matter, Terry’s a genius, and Trot’s folk-hero status is brought up one more notch. But it’s worth pointing out that the play didn’t go down as planned; it went down despite not being planned…

Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Process v. results & Trot Nixon


January 23rd, 2007 → 8:56 am @

I’m a little late on this, but I wanted to offer up one last tip of the cap to Christopher Trot Nixon. (There’s a much funnier tip of said cap here. What I want to know is, who is this Jose guy?) In 2003, I “won” the right to buy playoff tickets on the Green Monster and therefore was at Game 3 of the ALDS, a game which was, in my mind anyway, the highlight of Trot’s career in Boston. (This is an image I’ll never forget. And it was great right up to the point when Trot started thanking Jesus for guiding the ball over the wall. Which made me wonder: what did the A’s do to make Jesus hate them so much?)

That said, I was never felt the Trot love like some folks did. He was great in ’03 (really great, actually: he was second on the team in OPS and OPS+, trailing only Manny), but he’s pretty much been al albatross since then, and a powerless one at that. (I was arguing that he should be benched even when healthy back in August.) What he was, however, was always classy, and his departing words to Boston showed that once again: “When it didn’t happen [with the Red Sox], that was fine,” said Nixon. “There’s some other pretty good outfielders on the market. The Red Sox are a big market team, and I understand that. There’s no hard feelings, that’s the game of baseball. That’s what happens in professional sports. Obviously you know how much the [Red Sox] organization meant to me. I’ll always love that city. I’m going to bring that same attitude, that same intensity, to Cleveland.”

Indeed. I don’t know the next time we’ll see a guy who gets kicked out of a game when he’s on the DL. Good luck with the Indians.

Post Categories: Trot Nixon

Look, I said it was just speculation

December 2nd, 2006 → 12:41 pm @

After all that huffing and puffing, it turns out the Sox didn’t offer Trot Nixon arbitration.

This annoys me. Not the fact that the Sox didn’t extend the offer (which would have tied the team to paying Nixon whatever an arbitrator decided he was worth), but because Nixon almost certainly would have gotten in the range of last year’s $7 million salary…which is far more than he’s been worth of late. (Would you pay Gabe Kapler $7 million bucks a year?) Offering arbitration to Keith Foulke, on the other hand, makes a lot of sense: Foulke wouldn’t get much more (if any more) than the $3.75 mil he already turned down…and he only get a one-year deal. So the Sox are basically guaranteed of another draft pick.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Trot Nixon

The return of the original Dirt Dog and more speculation that will likely be made irrelevant by tomorrow’s speculation

November 30th, 2006 → 12:12 pm @

It’s three weeks into the free agency season…and when all’s said and done, here’s what we know about the 2007 roster:

Curt Schilling will be a starting pitcher
Jason Varitek will be the catcher
David Ortiz will be the DH
Jonathan Papelbon will be on the roster

And that’s it. No joke: there are no other untouchables. Youk? Pedroia? Hansen? For the right deal, they could all go. Wily Mo and Coco? Make an offer. Mike Lowell? His $9 mil price tag might seem cheap in comparison to Juan Pierre’s deal, but he could be packing his bags, too.

There are some intriguing possibilities out there, though, at least one of which hasn’t been much discussed, and that’s the possibility that Trot Nixon ends up back in Boston on a one-year deal. Said possibility was raised by Peter Gammons — an unabashed Nixon fan and someone with more than his share of confidantes in the Red Sox front office — when Gammo said Nixon could still accept arbitration from the Sox and end up back in Boston on something akin to a one-year, $7 million deal. In a frenzied free agent market, it’s somewhat shocking how little interest there’s been in the original Dirt Dog: this is, after all, a guy who’s only 33 and had a .974 OPS in 2003. Of course, since then his power has pretty much gone out the window, and he seems more fragile than J.D. Drew…but shit, he still looks like he’d be a decent option for some team out there.

If Trot does end up back in Boston and if Manny does end up somewhere else and if the Sox do end up signing Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew and Matsuzaka — a whole mess of ifs, I know — we could be looking at something like this:

Tek – C
Youk – 1st
Pedroia – 2nd
Lowell – 3rd
Lugo – SS
WMP – left
J.D. Drew – right/center
Coco – right/center
Ortiz – DH

Trot – right/left supersub

Schilling — SP
Matsuzaka — SP
Beckett — SP
Papelbon — SP
Wakefield — SP

Of course, that’s not taking into account who’d come to Boston in return for #24. And that’s sure to be something spicy.

All pure speculation. But a lot better than some of the speculation out there. Like that of Steve Phillips, whose entire career on ESPN has been devoted to showing the world why he no longer has a job as a major league GM. He said — in public! — that Barry Bonds might end up patroling left field.

This makes perfect sense. Except that:
* Bonds has said the whole city of Boston is full of racist jerks and he’d never play here
* The Sox would be getting someone who’s arguably the only person in baseball who could be more of a distraction that Manny
* His barcalounger wouldn’t fit in the Sox’s clubhouse
* He’s a near-cripple
* He’d bring a circus at a time when Theo Epstein has shown a consistent interest in reducing the circus-like atmosphere at Fenway.

Tune in tomorrow, when Phillips explains why Nomar might be included in the Dodgers’ proposed deal for Manny.

There’s more smoke and mirrors in this Globe piece from Gordo, although it’s not Edes’s fault: he’s just reporting the disinformation coming from various MLB execs. But the explanations offered up for why Manny wouldn’t want to go to San Diego — he’s not familiar with NL pitchers, the big dimensions of Petco would be bad for his power numbers, the Padres wouldn’t want a $20 mil a year guy — seem pretty silly. It’s hard to conceive of Manny being afraid of any pitcher, anywhere. And anyone who’s seen him plant a ball on the pike knows he’s not too concerned with the dimensions of whatever field he ends up playing on.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Daisuke Matsuzaka & Manny Ramirez & Peter Gammons & Steve Phillips & Trot Nixon

Christopher who? The case for Wily Mo

August 14th, 2006 → 12:43 am @

In 1993, Lou Gorman chose Christopher Trotman Nixon, an 18-year-old left handed hitter, with the Red Sox’s first round pick (and seventh overall). Nixon signed with the team that same summer; this August marks his 13th year with the organization. For the last eight years, he’s been the team’s regular right fielder. When Trot went down with a strained right bicep on July 30, most of Red Sox Nation groaned: the last thing the team needed was an injury to one of its catalysts. Instead of Wily Mo Pena backing up Nixon, now the team would have Gabe Kapler backing up Wily Mo…and how could that be a good thing?

It’s true that, in an abstract world, having Gabe Kapler third on the depth chart instead of second would be nice. The problem is that we don’t live in an abstract world. And as Wily Mo has shown over the past week, there are a lot of good reasons he should be the regular right fielder even when Nixon comes back. This month, Pena has 5 home runs and 10 RBIs. (Manny has 3 homers and 9 RBIS, Papi has 4 and 5.) Even after a horrendous start to August — before Saturday’s game, Pena’s batting average for the month was .205 — his August OPS (.894) was higher than Trot’s for the season (.822). Look at the season as a whole and it’s not even close: WMP’s slugging percentage is more than 100 points higher than Nixon’s (.549 to .426), his OPS not much less than that (.917 to .822).

As I wrote in Feeding the Monster, last year Kevin Millar demonstrated the extent to which players can hold a team hostage. Even while vying for the position as the worst everyday player in the American League, Millar made it clear that he’d piss and moan if Francona sat him. Towards the end of the year, when he was finally platooning at first, Millar anonymously badmouthed Curt Schilling in the press. Later, he made up inane t-shirts that read “Fuck Everyone”; somehow, that slogan didn’t catch on the way “Cowboy Up” did. (The back of the shirts read, “2005 Sox: All We Have Is Each Other,” which only made sense if by “have” Millar meant “have knives in each other’s backs.”)

Nixon is much too classy (and talented) a guy to pull that kind of crap. And he deserves a lot of respect. He’s a loyal player, he works hard, and he’s put up some impressive numbers in his career. From 2001 to 2003, he averaged 26 home runs a year; in 2003, he pushed his average above .300 and had an OPS of .975, good for fourth in the league. (He trailed only Manny, A-Rod, and Carlos Delgado.) As good as that is, there’s a decent chance Wily Mo could top it. He’s only 24-years old. His power is awe-inspiring; as Alex Speier pointed out in last week’s Union Leader, Pena can launch balls even when he gets his bat sawed off. In the past two weeks, he’s hit four home runs of more than 430 feet, and one more that nearly decapitated a fan sitting on the Green Monster. (Thanks to gator92 for the hit-chart link.) Unlike Manny, who gets his incredible power from his nearly perfect balance, Wily Mo’s power is oftentimes in spite of his balance. If he ever developed a stroke like Manny’s, he’d be able to hit balls into the Citgo sign.

Still, the most likely scenario upon Trot’s return is that he’ll be back as the Sox’s regular right fielder, with Wily Mo getting the lion’s share of starts when there’s a lefty on the mound. Trot’s a veteran and he’s in the walk year of his contract. He’s also the original Dirt Dog: the pine tar on the helmet, getting thrown out of games while on the disabled list, etc.

That would be a shame, and not just because WMP has a .705 slugging percentage against righties. The future is now, and his name is Wilfredo Modesto Pena.*#


One more note to the WMP saga. The baseball season is a long one. Playoff spots are won over months, not weeks, and trades (and signings) should be evaluated over years, not months. When Bronson Arroyo began the season on a tear — both on the mound and at the plate — and the Red Sox’s pitching imploded, there was plenty of moaning about what a mistake the Red Sox’s front office had made. (One half-season even convinced some writers who had been in favor of the trade when it was made to come down against it. And yes, I’m looking at you, Shaughnessy.) Let’s examine this again when the season’s over. And then again when next season’s over. And then again when the 2008 season is over, because it’s only at that point that Pena will be eligible for free agency.

* Before I get a bunch of emails and comments about small sample sizes and how a couple of good weeks can make someone like Todd Walker look like Babe Ruth, let’s remember that Pena has been heralded for his power for as long as he’s been in baseball. The knock on him has been that he has bad plate discipline, and he does still strike out a lot. But he’s clearly been learning, and the fact that David Ortiz has taken him under his wing can only be a good thing.

# Pena’s full name actually appears to be Wily Modesto Pena, but Joe Castiglione called him Wilfredo Modesto on Saturday, and that’s too good not to use.

Post Categories: Trot Nixon & Wily Mo Pena