Category Archives: MLB

Guide to the 2012 MLB Postseason – Version NL

One last time for Chipper. (Justin K. Aller/Gett Images)

In case you can’t get enough fill of baseball playoffs in the AL, the senior circuit also has it’s own five-team tournament going on. As a Red Sox fan the NL is the more intriguing for me this season because these teams are even farther removed from the debacle that was the 2012 Red Sox. Watching the San Franciso Giants is at no point going to remind me of some miserable point of this past season. But who should Red Sox fans be hoping to play the Athletics (as decided on yesterday). Well let’s take a look.

Atlanta Braves

Why you should: Three words. Chipper Mothereffing Jones. Before the season Chipper declared this as his final season and all he did was put together a solid season (.287/.377.485, 14 HR, 62 RBI) in 112 games. Chipper is the Derek Jeter of the NL. Now before you take that to mean an insult coming from a Sox fan I mean it like this: he is respected across the league, dominated during the steroid era without a smidge of suspicion that he juiced and if he doesn’t get into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot with 98 percent of the vote I’d be stunned. Plus Chipper has one of the great old-school nicknames that Major League Baseball is sorely lacking. Whatever happened to guys named ‘Goose’ or “Oil Can” or “Catfish”. Now we are just lazy. We just hyphenate last names (K-Rod, A-Rod) or shorten last names (Naps, Salty). Moving on from that tangent this team also features some of the best young talent in the game including Jason Heyward (.269/.335/.479 27 HRs, 82 RBI), Freddie Freeman (.259/.340/.456 23 HR, 94 RBI) and the unhittable Craig Kimbrel who had 42 saves this season, just missed out on a sub 1.00 ERA and has one of the best names in baseball.

Why you shouldn’t: Contrary to what I said before, Atlanta actually might bring about the most mentions of the terrible Sox. Both teams had epic collapses last season but the Braves did what the Sox couldn’t and came back with a vengeance to win 94 games and earn a playoff spot.

Washington Nationals

Why you should: This is the first playoff appearance by the Nationals/Expos since 1981. That’s right 1981. This team has never won a

Poppin’ bottles like its DC. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

division (1994 strike robbed it of that) and this year pealed off 98 wins and dominated in the NL East. So in terms of parity this the team to pull for. You can’t say “Oh, I’m tired of the Nationals they are always there.” The Nationals haven’t even been relevant past the month of May since 2002 (as the Expos)  let alone at this late junction in the season.  They have probably the biggest steal of last winter’s free agent race in Gio Gonzalez (21-8,  2.89 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 207 Ks) who is in a three-way battle for the Cy Young award with R.A. Dickey and Johnny Cueto. (Personally I think Dickey should get it but I have always had a soft spot for fantasy fiction loving knuckle ball throwers).  Plus you want good young talent. Let me throw you some Bryce Harper (2.70/.340/.477, 22 HRs, 59 RBIs) who seems to have wiped off that slump he had in the middle of the summer.  The Nationals even have a fun pitching staff without ace Stephen Strasburg with Jordan Zimmerman and Edwin Jackson pitching well entering the postseason.

Why you shouldn’t: That’s a clown question bro but if you want to Natpick (see what I did there) Bryce Harper is kind of a douche plus this might reinforce the decision to sit Strasburg for the playoffs which still seems like the wrong move to me. Other than that there is not a whole lot of reasons not to go for the Nats.

Cincinnati Reds

Why you should: Part of this is going to be a why I will more than why you should. That section starts now. DatDudeBP!  Bradon Phillips might be my favorite non-Red Sox player out there right now. Bro has swagger for days plus the production to back it up

DAT DUDE BP! (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(.281/.321/.429, 17 HRs, 77 RBI, 15 SB) plus he is good for at least one web gem per game. Whether he’s laying out to snag a liner or flipping the ball backhanded out of his glove to start a double play. On top of that he rocks the “hat-titled-to-the-side-slightly” look better than most players including C.C. Sabathia. Okay enough of my irrational love for BP. The Reds play in one of the best looking stadiums in the game, so seeing more HD baseball at the Great American Ballpark is always a positive.  You want young talent too? How about ome Jay Bruce (34 HRs, 99 RBI) and Todd Frazier (19 HR, 67 RBI) all up in your grillmix. Plus they have the most electric closer in the game in Aroldis Chapman. He slowed slightl down the stretch which is a concern but at his best his line looked like this (1.0 IP, 3 Ks, O R, S) 99 out of a 100 times. The other one time was with three strikeouts.  Also love the Reds uniforms. I realize that isn’t a big deal but that red hat with the black brim is one of the best in the bigs.

Why you shouldn’t:  This is another team where it is tough to find reasons to root against it. The Reds haven’t won a World Series since 1990 or a playoff series for that matter since 1995.  Perhaps you can root against the Reds because of Barry Larkin who I still think has yet to make a definitive statement in his time as an analyst on ESPN. Come on Barry, just once say something with some conviction before its obvious. For example: In stead of waiting until  two games left to say you think the Cardinals, with a two-game lead, will win the wild card but the Dodgers still have a chance, you could have said last Friday that the Cardinals will win the Wild Card period.

Saint Louis Cardinals

Why you should: Speak of the devil. Who knew that the the Cardinals made it to the playoffs and won World Series in recent years

Kyle Lohse’s time to shine. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

despite Albert Pujols? I kid of course but this season the Cardinals are headed to October while Pujols hits the links (all while being told he isn’t better than that young kid that got brought up in May). The Cardinals didn’t need the epic run it made last season to make it in 2012 but they do have a worse record (88-74).  Perhaps if you liek rooting for outfields the Sox probably should have gone after rather than Carl Crawford like Matt Holliday (.295/.379./.400, 27 HRs, 102 RBI) or Carlos Beltran (.269/.346/.496 32 HRs, 97 RBI) this is your squad. Although at 35 Beltran wouldn’t have been worth it down the road. Or maybe it’d be good to see Kyle Lohse lead a team to a championship as the ace (16-3, 2.86 ERA) after having a largely mediocre career.

Why you shouldn’t: I was really grasping at straws for checks in the pro column for the Cardinals. They won it last season so they’re basically eliminated unless there is some sort of familial attachment or you bet on the Cardinals in the beginning of the season to win it all at some crazy odds.

San Francisco Giants

Why you should:  Let’s poor a little out for Cody Ross. Can’t say enough about how much I loved having him on the Sox this season and hopefully for the next few, but Mr. Ross really got hosed with his decision. He left San Fran who made the playoffs to play for the

Your 2012 NL MVP (Jake Roth/US Presswire)

Henry-Lucchino-Valentine Circus. I still feel like Ross will be pulling for his boys back in the Bay Area and I could get behind that. The Giants are also blessed with what looks to be the NL MVP in Buster Posey.  Buster led the league in batting (.336) while smacking 24 home runs and 103 RBIs all while being a very good catcher for most of the season. He was one of only eight players in the NL to have 100 or more RBIs and the only one to do it in less than 561 ABs (530). Plus his team made the playoffs so he doesn’t have that hanging over him. So I say he slightly edges out Ryan Braun (still pretty certain he was juicing) and Andrew McCutchen, who like the Pirates fell apart down the stretch.

Why you shouldn’t: The Giants didn’t win it last season but two years ago isn’t exactly a Chicago Cubs like streak. Plus it’s unclear how many games they won because Melky Cabrera pumping himself up with testosterone and setting up a fake website to cover it up.

So this is really a three-team race. Despite my man-crush on Brandon Phillips I have to say no to the Reds and even though the Nationals are a great story and an awesome team, they will be there for awhile. Meanwhile Chipper could go out on top of the baseball world with a second ring. You can’t go wrong with any of those three but I got to go with Chipper and the ATL.

-Phil

P.S. Here are my final predictions. Atlanta beats Saint Louis in one-game playoff. Atlanta over Washington in five. San Francisco over Cincinnati in five. Atlanta over San Francisco in six.

In the AL I said yesterday that the Rangers and Detroit meet in the ALCS. Give me Texas in seven and Rangers win it all over Atlanta in six games.

What team is the one to beat in the NL? Which squad is taking the whole thing? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

 

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See Ya Bobby!

Well that was fast. (Patrick Semanski/AP)

If has happened. Not 24 hours after wrapping up the worst Red Sox season since 1965 the Boston Red Sox got rid of Bobby Valentine as manager. In all honesty this is probably the most excited I have been about anything related to the Red Sox since Will Middlebrooks got called up and started raking. I have been against Bobby V’s hiring since last season when he was just a name being tossed around. I never thought he made sense for this team and this season illustrated that in spades.

He clashed with one of the most beloved players on the team and even though Middlebrooks made the Youkilis trade more palatable you can’t tell me that Valentine’s less than healthy relationship with him had no hand in that move. It wasn’t just Youkilis that didn’t like playing for him. I honestly don’t know if there was one player who did. Alfredo Aceves imploded this season and part of it was an obvious disdain for Bobby V. Pedroia seemed to be warming to him slightly but that never seemed like the cribbage-playing marriage he had with Francona.  Didn’t hear a whole lot of talk from Big Papi about how awesome it was to play for him. He quite often down the stretch let Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester throw 783412 pitches despite the pair struggling to get outs into the fifth inning. Plus it is now being reported that this dislike from the players started in spring training when he “loudly questioned the aptitude” of shortstop Mikes Aviles.

Now as every Sox fan knows when someone leaves town or gets run out like Bobby V, the Boston media and the Red Sox front office put out smear campaigns that would put Romney attack ads on Obama look like glowing endorsements. There are going to be a number of bogus stories that come out all offseason about how Bobby V was shooting heroin in the clubhouse, was clubbing baby seals in his free time and (worst of all) purposely put out bad lineup cards. This whole pathetic season was not all on him. He can’t play the games. He also didn’t make all the terrible front office decisions and seemingly stop caring about baseball. John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Ben Cherington aren’t going to be fired but they deserve as much if not more of the blame here and the pressure is now squarely on them to turn things around. If another manager comes in and fails it’s suddenly going to look a lot more like there is something wrong with the organization and not the manager.

Yet Bobby never made sense in Boston. He just didn’t. And the way he handled this terrible season was certainly no indication that it was just because of the losses. It wasn’t just the players though as he called out coaches below him for “undermining” him. That’s right Bobby. Alex Ochoa and Dave Madagan want to have the team do terribly because there’s no possible way they could lose their jobs with bad seasons. As Curt Schilling said, in one of the most candid moments I have ever seen from an analyst, the move was gutless.

The 2012 Red Sox became exactly what I was afraid they would become under Bobby V; a circus. Now Valentine can take his clown car and the tents and head back to Japan or ESPN or wherever. Would it be too much to ask for one last favor though? Here’s hoping he takes Dice-K with him.

-Phil

How do you feel about Bobby V leaving? Who is really to blame for the Red Sox season? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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The Red Sox Fan Guide to the 2012 MLB Postseason – Version AL – UPDATED

So this is what the new format looks like.

EDITORS NOTE: This article has been altered, specifically in my breakdown of the MVP discussion. Text in bold is my retraction.

Yesterday the 2012 Red Sox season was mercilessly put to rest. For the past couple months baseball has been dead to me, and probably most other Red Sox fans. I haven’t watched many games. I haven’t checked scores every day. In fact its gotten so bad that I really just stopped following baseball as closely as I normally would. But yesterday that ended. There is no indication that things will get any better next season for the Sox but for now fans of the Fens can sit down and watch some playoff baseball without being constantly reminded of the circus going on in Boston.

I have never been one to believe in switching teams and I am not abdicating that now. Your team is your team whether its pounding out 100-win seasons or trotting out minr league lineups with three games left to go against your arch rival. However when your team is not in the playoffs I think its is permissible to favor one team if not openly pull for them.

For example back before the Celtics were what they are right now, from 1996-200 and then the 2006 and 2007 seasons there was always a team that I found myself getting to know and getting behind. From 96-98 it was Jordan’s Bulls because, you know, I was just like every other person in America. Then in 1999 it was the eighth-seeded New York Knicks and their improbable run to the NBA finals. Honestly the Larry Johnson four-point play is one of my great basketball memories from childhood. (The Celtics went 19-31 that season in their sixth straight losing season so cut me some slack. There weren’t a whole lot of pantheon moments from a team with Ron Mercer on it). Then I went for the Kings and Garnett’s T-Wolves during the first two years of the Kobe-Shaw three-peat. Took some time off as the Celtics actually made the playoffs and then in 2006-2007 was all in for Steve Nash and the Suns.

So what does that have to do with baseball? Well everyone knows watching sports is more fun when you have a vested interest. It’s why people love confidence pools and fantasy in football. Every game suddenly has something to watch. So who should Red Sox fans be pulling for this October, since they won’t be seeing anyone with a B on their hat play an inning.

Baltimore Orioles

Why you should pull for them:  A team that no one even expected to have competent players on at this point in the season somehow

Show me that ‘O’ face has got to be the catch phrase for the 2012 Orioles.

managed to win 93 games and push itself into the playoffs while also coming within a whisper of the AL East Division Crown. The

squads $81,428,999.00 payroll is less than half of that of the Sox and this team is still in the playoffs. The rotation isn’t anything to feel fantastic about and on offense they have a number of boom or bust batters like Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds but there is also some exciting young players like Manny Machado that no one seems to have figured out yet. Then there’s the bullpen that has been lights out thanks to a guy named Jim Johnson who had 51 saves this season. Baltimore is that feel-good story this season and has somehow caught every single break with something like a record of 178-0 in extra innings games.

Why you shouldn’t: This is the same team that put the final bullet in the 2011 Red Sox collapse and then stormed the field and celebrated like it they had just won game seven of the World Series. Also Kevin Gregg pitched for this team this season and I am none to fond of that goggled-up d-bag.

Detroit Tigers

Why you should: Yet again Detroit won in the junior circuit of the AL where it never seems like one team dominates. Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had better records than the Tigers while playing in divisions that each had two playoff teams. So seeing Detroit win would be a bit of an upset special although less akin to Baltimore’s due to the talent on the Tigers roster. After blowing up last season Justin Verlander has largely been more ignored this season, and unfairly so. The dude went 17-8with a 2.64 ERA this season while leading the league in complete games (six), innings pitched (238 1/3) and strike outs (239).  Don’t know what pitcher I’d rather watch throw in October. Plus the Tigers have the first guy to win the Triple Crown since 1967

Why you shouldn’t: Miguel Cabrera made it so Red Sox fans cannot hang their hat on Carl Yazstremski being the last player to win the Triple Crown. Oh and Trout’s the MVP and it’s not even close. I was on some sort of drugs with what I wrote earlier.

Oakland Athletics

Why you should: Think of these guys as Baltimore Version Two. Or better yet Baltimore Light. The A’s have the second lowest payroll

Of course Oakland won the AL West. Who didn’t see that coming?

in baseball and all season trotted out guys you had either never heard of or thought might be pitching in a Venezuelan slow-pitch softaball league if anywhere at all. Yet somehow this team did the unthinkable and WON its division over the Texas Rangers. Yes, the same Texas Rangers that have won the AL pennant the past two seasons. Also this team is filled with Red Sox castoffs like Jumpin’ Josh Reddick, Coocoo for Coco Crisp, Brandon “Brother of Santana, Cousin of Randy and childhood friend of Sinorice” Moss and George “It’s the Cataracs” Kottaros.

Why you shouldn’t: This could threaten us with a sequel to last year’s Hadrball. It would be called Hardball 2 with the two silhouetted behind hardball like in the new Taken. It would tell the story of how Billy Beane flew to Cuba to rescue his daughter from Communist nationals and mobsters while also scouting and signing rookie of the year runner up Yoenis Cespedes.

Texas Rangers

Why you should: Isn’t it about time for the Rangers. Two straight seasons of devastating losses in the World Series. Can’t help but feel for that squad and it’s Dallas Cowboy-worshipping fan base. Would it really be fair to have Tony Romo, of the five-interception fame, at quarterback and see your team miss out on a World Series all in the same month? Oh, okay Philadelphia fans I guess you’re right. The Rangers also have a couple of Red Sox castoffs including Adrian “Don’t touch my head” Beltre and David “Missed Out on a Golden Marketing Campaign with the Dropkick” Murphy (s). Also seeing a guy like Michael Young win a ring would be good to see. He has been one of the most consistently solid players in the league for so long and still barely gets recognized for it.  And fianlly the Rangers red alternate hat might be one of my favorite in baseball.

Why you shouldn’t: If the Rangers win a World Series with Mike Napoli on its roster it might transform Naps into an even mightier beast and with how much he feasts on the Red Sox that just isn’t a risk you’d want to take. Also Ian Kinsler is a poor mans Dustin Pedroia who acts like a rich man’s version. Don’t want to see that crooked-nosed, high-socked wearing troll win much of anything.

There is another team in the AL playoff hunt but if you would even consider pulling for the Yankees then you clearly started for the Red Sox post-2004 and need to be dragged into the street and shot. Or at least stop pretending to be a Sox fan.

For my money I throwing it in with the A’s. I like what Baltimore did this season but you know the farther they get the more the Red Sox failures will hurt. The Tigers seem to be in the playoffs every season and won’t have to shock the world again next season to get back. The Rangers have been winning in recent seasons and still have a window open. Oakland just has that perfect storm of humble nobodies who don’t make sense being there and would just be the best story. Plus I have never really stopped loving Josh Reddick.

-Phil

P.S. My predictions for the outcomes of the first round. Rangers over Orioles in the one-game playoff. Then Rangers over New York Yankees in Four. Detroit over Oakland in Three.

Which AL team is going to win it all? Want to tell me how stubbornly stupid and behind in the times I am on the MVP discussion? Drop a line on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or blast off in the comments.

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Rough Days

Outside of the Captain, the Yanks don’t even look like a playoff team. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Will the Yankees make the postseason? I’m not even sure anymore. The pitching has been inconsistent, the hitting has been practically non-existent and the injuries are piling up. After losing last night to the last place Red Sox, the Bombers find themselves in a tie for first place once again with the Baltimore Orioles. After last season’s historic collapse of the Sox, the Yankees appear to be poised for a follow-up.

This team is banking on the return of Andy Pettitte to save this season and when he and Nova return to the rotation, it could become a better team. The success of the Yankees was built on depth, which can lead to a good regular season record, but in the post season it is all about starters. What pitching match up would the Yanks be favored in? I believe it is a fair question to ask whether or not they can make it to October because it is clear they can’t go far if they get in.

Follow our live tweets on the end of the baseball season with the hashtag #SurvivingSeptember. Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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Guess Who’s Back

No it’s not Brett Favre, Michael Jordan or Roger… wait he’s making a comeback at age 50. Well if he can do it, so can we. After a long hiatus from the sports blogging world I’m back to give the New York sports fan a voice.

Before I really get into the Yankees chances to make it to the Fall Classic this season, or the Giants on their quest to repeat, the most exciting time in Buffalo when the Bills are so optimistic, or even the latest episode of “As the Jets Burn,” I’ll do my penance. Since I have been missing in action for so long I want to tell the world that I want to see the Boston Red Sox turn things around and fast.

I haven’t handed in my pinstripes. I haven’t grown my hair or beard, but I miss the rivalry. The only place it exists this season is on the dozens of nationally televised meetings between the former titans of the American League east. And that’s my problem. The Sox are embarrassingly bad this season yet the games still take four plus hours and are still nationally televised meaning we have more Buck and McCarver games. Could you imagine if the Yankees and Royals had every game on Fox or ESPN? It would be something like this season except the Royals don’t have nearly as many sticks in their line-up so we wouldn’t have to sit through four or five pitching changes before the seventh inning and see starters get rocked.

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Gonzo is well gone-zo. (SI.com)

Now the Red Sox have officially thrown in the towel trading away this season and possibly the next as the injured Carl Crawford won’t ever have a chance to prove he deserved his contract in Boston. Adrian Gonzalez is the kind of player who could really kill the Yankees as a left-handed power hitter, and a gold-glove caliber first baseman. Instead the Sox are left with James Loney to play first. How many more games of this do we have to watch?

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After only one season will Red Sox and Valentine chuck up the deuces? (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

As an outsider I see this move as a vote of confidence from ownership to Bobby Valentine. They got rid of bad blood and bad contracts to hopefully give him new pieces that he can work with next year and possibly beyond. The elephant in the room however is second baseman Dustin Pedroia. He represents the organization right now to a fault. Pedroia has openly spoken out against Valentine several times this season. When the star player and coach or manager aren’t a united front the locker room will remain divided. On the Herd with Colin Cowherd this morning former Boston hero Curt Schilling said he did not believe Valentine would be back and suggested a fresh face should take over. Schilling believes that with the success of young first time managers like Robin Venture in Chicago the Sox should bring in Jason Varitek to manage. Personally I like the idea after seeing how Joe Girardi has worked for the Yankees.

If I were to say that I haven’t taken pleasure in some of the turmoil happening in Beantown this year, I would be lying. The off field circus has been a comedy of errors and filled the airwaves of football heavy sports radio with plenty of fodder, but the on-field product is close to unwatchable. This season my favorite games to watch were Kuroda vs. Darvish and Kuroda’s two hit shutout against the Rangers. I get excited for Yankees v Texas and Yankees v Detroit this season not Boston vs New York. I have wondered in the past if this blog has any power to jinx the teams we write about and now I fear we may have jinxed the rivalry entirely.

-Erik

Yankee fans how do you feel about the Red Sox struggles this season? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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You Might Not Have Noticed But Carl Crawford Is Kind of Killing It

What’s that? Carl Crawford is actually playing baseball…well? (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Soxpocolypse has been made this summer very, very ugly. The last few weeks there have been more stories/videos/interviews in which everything except for the play on the field has been discussed than anyone would ever want. Especially for a town like Boston that, while fanatic and a touch obsessive (OK more than a touch), still loves baseball. The whole situation has turned me and I’m sure many other fans off of baseball.

While every sports writer across the country has been writing piece after piece about the cancerous clubhouse, Bobby V’s failed management and the bratty players the baseball has really gotten ignored. When your team’s playing as poorly as the Sox have been that’s not really a bad thing. But aside from robbing Sox fans of a competitive season the fiasco has also made us all overlook some (if very few) positives. That has been especially true in the past couple of weeks.

I think it’s time to fix that. There are two guys who have jumped out for me while Alex Ochoa was getting sunflower seeds in his face. Clay Buchholz is the first but the second might come as a surprise.

Clay Buchholz is 11-3 and has been crushing it in every start since a rough start to the season. Would he mind talking to Jon Lester and Josh Beckett? (Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE)

It’s…wait for it, keep waiting., hold the suspense just a little bit longer.

Carl Crawford.

That’s right I said it. Carl Crawford has been a bright spot this season. He missed 18545 games to start the season (estimated) but since he has come back he has looked a ton better from the disaster he was last year.

For all you non-stats lovers you may want to skip down a bit because now we’re going to take a good long look at some numbers.

Crawford has played in 28 games so far this season which is a pretty solid sample size. Thus far this season is batting splits are .288/.311/.495 which compare favorably to his nine-year average with Tampa Bay which are .296/.337/.444. Favorably would be an understatement to how they look compared to his first season in Boston when he put up .255/.289/.405 which other than slugging were all career lows. His only worse season slugging was his first full one in the majors.

Something that can’t be ignored when it comes to his improvement his where he is batting in the order. Last season the Sox struggled to slot Crawford in never really finding a good spot for him. This season he has more consistently been put either in the two-hole or seventh. Seventh seems to be the spot that works best for him. He is 5-for-16 in that spot this season after batting .315 there last season.

This year he has been utilized more in his traditional spot which is second. When David Ortiz was healthy and KevinYoukilis was still on the team that spot was reserved for  Dustin Pedroia. With Ortiz injured and Youkilis gone to Chicago Pedroia has moved to the third-spot which opened up space for Crawford who has batted .277 in the spot. While that average is not going to blow anyone away he is a career .302 hitter from the two-hole.

Also good to see is Crawford’s uptick in slugging. At .495 he is on pace for a career high. Granted it won’t be for a full season and there’s still a lot of baseball left but more extra bases is a good thing. In fact if Crawford played the same number of games this season as he did a year ago, and hit at the same pace,  he would end up with 140 hits, 42 doubles, nine triples, 14 home run and 88 RBI. Compare that to 129, 29, seven, 11 and 56 from last season. The 42 doubles would be a career high, the 88 RBI would be the second best mark of his career and the nine triples and 14 home runs would be right in line with his career averages. Remember we signed him to be the player he was, not turn in to a 35 home run guy.

Some may still have some complaints. His on-base percentage isn’t particularly appealing at just .315 but Crawford has never been a guy that worked the count. Not every baseball player falls into the Moneyball mold.

Another weak spot is what was supposed to be Crawford’s greatest strength; his speed. Crawford has only three stolen bases this season putting him on pace for 14 in the projections I calculated. But delving a little deeper could explain things. First off he is coming off an injury. No, not one to his legs but to his wrist. You may have noticed that most players slide head first when stealing second base

Keep it up Carl, Boston is a lot easier to play in when you don’t suck. (David Richard / AP)

which would leave Crawfords wrists heavily exposed. Also he has only made three attempts (all successful) on a team that doesn’t steal often. The Red Sox are 26th in the league in stolen bases (58) and 28th in attempts (76) this season. Not exactly a team of Ricky Hendersons.

It might also be pointed out that Crawford’s batting average on balls in play is higher than last year (.321 compared to .299) so a little more luck has gone his way. That’s not totally fair though since his career mark is .328. So the first incredible nine years he had with Tampa Bay were all luck? Yeah I didn’t think so.

Finally, his fielding has been, well, not great as evidenced by his Web Gem caliber effort on Wednesday night that allowed a pair of runs.   But who cares I’m trying to be positive here.

So what does this all mean? Well it’s tough to say because even though 28 games is enough to make some more accurate estimations and projections it’s not enough to really wipe last year away. After all through 28 games this season the the Pittsburgh Pirates were 12-16 and now they’re right in the playoff hunt. Still it’s nice to see at least somebody is playing better than  last season, since just about everybody else is playing worse.

The wrist is still a worry and he’ll likely need Tommy John surgery in the offseason but it’s also nice to see that that contract we signed Crawford too might not end up looking so awful. At least Sox fans have got to hope. We’re stuck with him for the next five years anyway.

-Phil

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Shut Up and Play Baseball

I believe what Bobby is saying is “I hate my team. Just toss me so I don’t have to sit in the clubhouse anymore.” (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

In Boston the 2012 Red Sox are what might be called a disaster. While down in Houston the Astros might see a 57-60 season as a humongous improvement, in Boston it isn’t. At least in the Boston that has been born from the past decade.

Yahoo Sports reported yesterday that the Red Sox players had a heated meeting with upper management about Booby Valentine and how he, to put it lightly, doesn’t seem like a good fit. To put it like it probably was; He effing sucks.

But hold on. This isn’t going to be a damnation of Bobby V. I’ve been against his hiring from the beginning. I didn’t like his fit and although I’m certainly not going to say he should stay, all of this season’s failures can’t be dumped on him. (Although his reported remark of “Nice inning” to Will Middlebrooks was a bit too much. What’s that? My Middlebrooks bias is showing? Thanks I’ll cover that up).

It also can’t just be blamed on injuries, granted it seems like the Sox have had just about everyone short of the guy chucking peanuts in the crowd on the 15-day DL this year.

It also can’t just be blamed on bad luck or curses or beer and chicken or pill-popping or whatever other ludicrous story has come out over the last year. Some true and others part of the (mandatory) smear campaign needed when someone leaves Boston.

No the majority of the blame, somewhere around 98 percent, belong to the players. You know those guys that actually play the game. The guys that go on the field and have the most direct impact on it’s outcome. Those guys.

I don’t remember anyone calling for a World Series MVP for Terry Francona when Josh Beckett was mowing down batters in 2007. I can’t seem to recall the millions of Epstein player shirts that got sold when Dustin Pedroia won AL MVP. Perhaps I was just oblivious to that.

When the team does well the players get the bulk of the praise. Tito and Theo got theirs as well but not nearly as much as the players and rightfully so. The players PLAY the game. A manager can only make the best lineup decisions he can and bring in guys from the bullpen. A GM can only put together the best talent he can afford.  The players have to put all that together and they haven’t.

Now they want to bitch and moan about Bobby V? Adrian Gonzalez and (no surprise) Dustin Pedroia have supposedly spearheaded this. Pedroia had an incredibly tight relationship with Francona and he clearly doesn’t get along with Valentine no matter what he says to the press.

But Adrian? What happened to God’s plan? Is this no longer part of it? Come on man you can’t shrug off last year’s loss as divine providence that humans can’t understand and then this season point the finger at someone else. Gonzo has hit better since the All-Star break but Bobby V isn’t swinging the bat for you. He’s not why you turned into the best singles hitter this side of Ichiro.

I would get it if Bobby V came in to the clubhouse and snapped guys hamstrings. Or put out lineups with Ciriaco batting in spots 1-5 while Pedroia was asked to start and throw 140 pitches. Or if he told Beckett to throw 86 MPH meatballs.  Or if he kidnapped Lester’s family and threatened their lives unless Jon went out and got lit up every start. But that’s not what’s happened. The Sox ridiculously talented roster (and they are talented) just isn’t producing.

So quit it with the excuses and take a page out of the book of the best franchise in this city (Hint: They are called the Patriots) and do your job.

-Phil

What’s the biggest problem with the Sox? Should Bobby V get fired? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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The Day The Red Sox Season Ended

I feel ya’ Felix. (AP)

Game 97. That is when I gave up on the 2012 Red Sox Yell at me, tell me I’m a fair-weather fan or whatever you want but I’m done. I’ve been trying to write with optimism and think well if this happens or that happens the season can be turned around.

That was for games 1-96. Not 97. Has the season been a loss? Not entirely. There have been some fun moments, many delivered by one Cody Ross, but this isn’t a team that’s going anywhere.

All season they have gone through huge bouts of depressing losing streaks. Then there have been little runs of success where it looks like things are coming together only to have that hope crushed a few days later.

Take the past week. The Sox went 5-2 after the All-Star break with series wins against a pair of solid teams (Tampa Bay and Chicago the AL version). Things looked good. Ellsbury and Crawford were back. Gonzalez was hitting home runs again (gasp!) and even though Ortiz got injured signs on t weren’t too bad.

Four days later and the Sox have gotten swept by the Blue Jays, seen Jon Lester find new ways to pitch poorly, and last night again fell victim to the Texas Rangers and Mike Napoli.

Quick aside: I love me some Naps. I hate how he crushes the Sox but as a player and a dude I have no complaints. Just goes out and mashes.  Plus as a Sox fan my estimation of his value is probably skewed by 118 percent since he’s hitting something like .780 with 67 home runs and 235 RBIs in his last six games against the Sox.  Those numbers may not be what you’d call accurate but you get the idea.

So last night as I watched Naps and Co. hammer the Sox 9-1 it finally hit me.

Even though he owns the Sox, I got mad love for Naps.

What am I hoping for anymore? I want this team that can’t pitch and goes through flat offensive spells to trade away more prospects to get some more talent in hope that they might be able to grab the last wild card spot? Because really that’s what the ceiling for this team is as currently constructed.

No one and I mean no one on this team can pitch consistently well. I don’t mean Pedro in 2000 levels I just mean someone that might put together consecutive solid starts. When Aaron Cook is turning into your most reliable starter you know there’s a problem.

So the rumor is the Sox are trying to trade for Josh Johnson or Matt Garza to sure up the rotation. I like both of those guys and if the price is right it’s something the Sox should pull the trigger on. But not for this year. If either of those trades are made it won’t be for this season. It will be another young player for the future like Ellsbury.

But the Sox can’t go into trade negotiations with the idea that they’re making trades to save this season. Unless the Nationals are willing to part with their entire roster there is no trade that makes this Sox team more than a middling squad that might, possibly win a trip to play for the chance to be sacrificed at the altar of the Yankees (God that hurts to type) or Rangers.

Another aside: The Yanks traded for Ichiro. They needed a corner outfielder and they got one but anyone that thinks this is some terrifying trade for the rest of the league is delusional. His numbers will go up just like every other player that goes to Wiffle Ball Stadium but his addition doesn’t make the Yankees scarier. Oh no, a .260 hitter with a .280 OBP that can’t hit for a ton of power. What can anyone possibly do to neutralize that? My prediction is his numbers will creep up (.280 BA or so) and he’ll be a nice replacement for Brett Gardner but it’s not like the Yanks are getting Ichiro of 2006 or something.

But I am not one to just give up hope without having some plans to make things better. I think there are some things the Sox can do to gear up and not make this a trend over the next few years.

No. 1- Get Jacoby Ellsbury an extension. The dude absolutely crushed it last season and even with the injury has had good numbers this year (.300/.338/.414) this season. He is the Sox most marketable and legitimate star player and without a doubt there best all around player, narrowly edging out Dustin Pedroia. He needs to be locked up and that needs to be done yesterday. (As an addition to this also give extensions to David Ortiz and Cody Ross).

No. 2- Use this season as a loss and start bringing up some of those prospects to see what sticks. Jose Iglesias is supposed to be our shortstop of the future right? Let’s take a look at the future right now. Mike Aviles has been solid but Iglesias is the what’s next. (Unless the Sox are holding out for Tulo in which case never mind). Also getting Ryan Lavarnway (who secretly was the only guy hitting during the collapse last season) back to the majors so we might have a catcher that isn’t as feast or famine as Salty.

It’s not you Bobby. You’re great. We still want to be friends. (Rick Yeatts/Getty Images).

No. 3- Make a trade for a young starting pitcher but don’t give up Matt Barnes. Barnes should be the only untouchable player (or at least the most untouchable player) in the minor league system. Barnes is the next ace for this squad, assuming it comes from the farm system. Granted he’s still young and a few years from the show but he flat made dudes look stupid while pitching for Greenville (how does a 14.13 K/9 ratio sound?) and he’s looked good in Salem so far and this is just his first season as a pro. Anyway if you can swing a deal to grab Josh Johnson or Matt Garza, both young arms that obviously have talent. Great but don’t give up the farm thinking they’ll make you a contender.

No. 4- Get rid of Bobby Valentine. It’s not his fault that the Sox have faltered this season, well partially, but not entirely and that’s not why he should go. He just doesn’t fit in with the Sox. It’s great that he didn’t take players BS and what not but he ran Youkilis out of town and it just still seems like he’s trying to win the city and team over and it’s August. He’s not the right fit. It’s not that he’s a bad manager or the reason for this failed season, he just isn’t the answer. It’s like if you hired Wes Anderson to direct a remake of Pulp Fiction. Is he a good director? Yes. Could he do Pulp Fiction? No. Well unless you wanted  Bill Murray as Jules Winnfield. Say what again you fuzzy little foreigner!

I will admit that I am at a loss as to who the Sox should get as the manager.

No. 5- Get in a time machine and don’t sign Carl Crawford or John Lackey or Dice-K or…

This won’t fix all the Sox issues. It doesn’t make Lester and Beckett figure it out. It doesn’t make the bullpen much better but it puts the team  in the right direction because right now they are going to other way.

Unless you like teams hovering around .500 that might make a wild card berth every few years. Then you can just move to Toronto.

-Phil

You still believing in the Sox? How can they fix things? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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What The Hell Happened To Jon Lester?

That’s the confidence you want to see. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

I blame myself.

For some reason I have recently had a bad string of luck with buying player shirts. Admittedly I buy so many of them that I’m bound to have players do poorly at some point. My current roster goes as follows; Ortiz, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Beckett, Bard, Crawford, Gonzalez, Ross, Saltalamacchia, Middlebrooks and Lester.

That doesn’t count Varitek, Keith Foulke, Pedro Martinez and a bunch of others
like Carl Everett (that’s right), Mark Loretta (I know) and Trot Nixon (my
favorite one I ever got). Oddly enough I never got a Garciaparra but that’s beside the point.

Most of the players have continued or have been great since I got their shirt,
that was until last season. Last year I purchased a Crawford, Gonzalez and Lester and this season I grabbed a Ross, Middlebrooks (interestingly enough the
day before Youkilis, a shirt I also have, was traded) and Saltalamacchia.

Crawford was a huge disappointment, Gonzalez has turned into a glorified singles hitter, Middlebrooks suddenly looks like a rookie and Salty swings and misses like he’s trying to hit a fly with a toothpick. (Ross is doing alright though which is nice).

But the worst fall has come with Lester. I waited until last August to get his
player shirt. Since then the man who beat cancer and threw a no-hitter has collapsed in on himself. He went 3-3 and had his ERA go up by almost half a run
while being at the center of ChickenBeerGate. Then this season things have
gotten even worse.

Yesterday was the breaking point. After a great start to the post-All Star break with a pair of series wins and the return (a successful one at that)
of Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia the Sox dropped the
first two of a weekend series against Toronto at home and needed Jon to
pitch well in the finale.

I guess well is a relative term but in no world is a line of 4.0 innings, 11
earned runs, five walks and nine hits considered ‘pitching well’. My god how
much worse can you possibly pitch. Lester seems to be finding a new way each time out.

He has not gotten further than the fifth inning in each of his last three starts. He has seven quality starts all season. His ERA is 5.46. 5.46! C’mon
man. For a guy with a career ERA of 3.75, which includes this ghastly year, that is awful. Scratch that, that would be awful for anyone that makes a living
attempting to get major league hitters out.

His fastball velocity is down. The cutter isn’t as effective and his curve ball
just looks like a ball he throws into the dirt. He isn’t hitting his spots and
every start he just always looks like he’s laboring to throw strikes.

People have floated the idea of trading him and that a change in scenery could
help him. Maybe that’s true but who is going to want to trade for him? Hmm where is that sound of crickets chirping coming from? Plus there has to be
some explanation for this. You don’t just lose it that badly without an explanation.

Well he’s not on the DL, and he claims to be feeling fine and just frustrated so there leaves only one reasonable (another relative term) one. The navy blue
Lester player shirt that is folded up in my dresser.

I’m sorry Jon, I should have just gotten a Luis Tiant throwback.

-Phil

What’s wrong with Lester? Is he a last cause? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

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Season Half Over. Glass Half Full?

Not afraid to admit it. Ellsbury is the best looking Boston athlete outside of Tom Brady.

Today might just be the best day of the season for the Boston Red Sox and they haven’t even played a game yet. First of all the first half is entirely behind them. The All-Star break has a weird way of washing away the mediocrities of the first half and giving a little bit of optimism back to teams on the fringe of contention. It’s almost like a mini-opening day. (Although for teams like Colorado it’s just another Friday).

But that doesn’t even measure up to the real reason to why today is a great day to be wearing a red ‘B’ on your hat or to have Red Sox stitched across your shirt (Count me in for both at the moment). The long awaited, often debated, never hated return of Jacoby Ellsbury is today.

That’s right the Red Sox are tempting fate by letting Ellsbury return to the team on Friday the 13th, but who believes in B.S. like bad luck and curses? (Oh that’s right, a lot of stupid Sox fans who bought a Dan Shaughnessy book in 1990.) But that’s old news.

What is actual news is that Ellsbury will be back with the team tonight as the Sox take on Tampa Bay and according to Bobby Valentine he’ll be in his customary leadoff spot.

Couldn’t really have more pressure on a guy returning from an injury could you? Where as Carl Crawford just needs to play decently when he returns and Bucholz can just chip away at his bloated ERA, Ellsbury is seen as the savior of the season.

He was the Red Sox best player by a long way all last season and the team has waffled without him. It wasn’t just his shoulder that was crushed back in April it was the offense as well it seems (save for Big Papi. By the way a belated congrats to the best DH ever on his All-Star nod).

Ellsbury’s return to health should kick off a return of a number of key players from injuries as Will Middlebrooks, Clay Bucholz, Dustin Pedroia and Andrew Bailey (haven’t heard that name in a while huh?) are also on the mend and should be back soon.

Middlebrooks needs to come back and pick up where he left off because as Youk rips up the AL Central that trade is looking increasingly poor. Pedroia was still playing pretty well before going on the DL considering his thumb may or may not have been ripped entirely off his hand. Bucholz was getting into a groove before whatever it is that happened in his stomach and Bailey could make a bullpen that has been up and down more steady.

But the return of Ellsbury is the biggest in-season acquisition the team could make, trading deadline aside. He smacked 32 home runs last season and hit over .300 while stealing a ton of bases and anchoring the outfield defense. He lost the AL MVP to Justin Verlander (deservedly) but very well could have taken the award.

Suffice to say Sox fans won’t just be hoping he can contribute. They’ll want him to save this team. Is it unfair to put the hopes of the entire team on the shoulders of one player who is coming back from injury? No. Is it what I and the rest of Boston are going to do? Yes.

This team has played well for stretches, heck just a couple of weeks ago they were a 1/2 game back in the wild card standings but a lot of injuries have hurt the team and getting this one off the books will help.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The Sox 43-43 disastrous first half isn’t just because of injuries. Adrian Gonzalez turning into the greatest singles hitter ever isn’t because of injuries. Jon Lester going from staff ace to whatever you’d call him this year isn’t because of injuries. Beckett has had injury issues but when healthy he hasn’t been too great.

Really what can save this team is the return to health of players who have already contributed (Ellsbury, Middlebrooks, Pedroia), the continued success of those players who have remained healthy (Ortiz, Salty, Aviles, Doubront, Aceves, Padilla, Ross) and a return to any semblance of their former self from players like Lester, Beckett and Gonzalez.

So welcome back Jacoby. Now go out and start this team’s turn around. (No pressure though.)

-Phil

Can the Red Sox turn this season around? Let us know on Twitter (@seeuinoctober) or in the comments.

 

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