Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ramirez-Bay Trade Recap

To Red Sox
Jason Bay

To Dodgers
Manny Ramirez

To Pirates
Craig Hansen (from Red Sox)
Brandon Moss (from Red Sox)
Andy LaRoche (from Dodgers)
Bryan Morris (from Dodgers)

To Marlins
Not a goddamn thing, because they tried to jack the Red Sox for $9 million; yes, that's Manny Ramirez's salary, PLUS a fee. Fuck off and go finish 3rd in the NL East, you motherfuckers. And I thought we had a trading relationship.

To Hell
For cheapness and crimes against humanity, baseball, the Montreal Expos, and the Florida Marlins, Mr. Jeffrey Loria. In hell, Youppi will repeatedly jam the Quebec provincial flag up his ass. On a long metal pole.

To Terry Francona
The peace that comes with knowing your left fielder won't opt out of the game a couple hours before, and knowing that you can't accidentally blow a 5-run lead by putting Craig Hansen in.

To J.D. Drew
The #3 slot in the lineup?

To Pirates GM Neal Huntington
Props. That's some haul for one very good but not All-MLB left fielder. This team has a future.

To Tampa Bay
These nuts in your mouth. He who was to be your big trade acquisition is ours, bitches. Years of Chuck LaMar's ridiculous trade requests have come full circle now that the Rays are buyers as sellers feel the need to keep asking for more. Payback's a grandmother.

To Red Sox fans
Remains to be seen. At best, the current malaise clears up, Bay batters the ball at roughly the same rate as he did in the National League and thus makes the loss of Ramirez a statistical wash, plus defense, and we win the World Series. There are a lot of other possible outcomes.

All that I can ultimately say is that I'll miss Manny Ramirez, but for the 40 minutes there where it seemed that neither Ramirez nor Bay had been traded by the deadline, I was terrified of the toxic environment to come if he stayed.

Remember the feeling of watching total self-destruction? Me too. Now we can hope for 2004 redux (trade angry All-Star for less than equal return, change team environment, win World Series) rather than 2001 redux. Here's hoping, anyway.


It could happen today. And I've gotta say, Finn is right. I'll take no genuine solace from Manny's departure. The only thing uglier than having to trade Manny, however, is having to keep him.

(Thanks to Deadspin for the graphic.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Sent A Letter To The Red Sox, The Other Day/ They Opened, and Read It, It Said They Were Suckas!

Dear Boston Red Sox,

Regarding your performance since the All-Star break, which has been a rapid-fire version of the standard Sox summer swoon, I must say:

You're all better than this. Except maybe Manny Delcarmen. Who hasn't even been bad lately.

Play better or fuck off.

Yours in Christ,


P.S. for Theo--

This proposed three-way deal of Manny Ramirez for Jason Bay plus prospects sounds like the Nomar Garciaparra trade of 2008: a shake-up trade in which a disgruntled though incredibly talented veteran is traded for less than equal talent in return, to shake up an underachieving team. This armchair GM right here signs off on it.

Save me, Kirk Cameron!

We came very close to the apocalypse last night. Oh, it's odd enough that John Lackey of the 7+ ERA at Fenway got a win. But two outs away from a no-hitter? Two more and the four horses come in. As it is, start praying. President Lou Gossett Jr. can't save you now.

But though the Angels won twice yesterday, I'm much more concerned with the win that involved the Sox. I know this isn't an opinion I've seen much, but the difference between Casey Kotchman and Mark Texiera is, though significant, not everything you might expect. Was it a good trade? Absolutely. Was it a great trade? Not unless they resign.

As for Boston, Bartolo Colon can't come off the DL soon enough to take Clay's spot back. Sorry y'all, but shit is getting drastic, and you can only rebuild and contend so much at the same time. The kid doesn't have it this year.

If the Rays hadn't lost Monday and if the Yankees (the team my less-educated Sox fan friends remain fully convinced will win the AL East...hold your panic, or at least keep some of it directed Tampa way, people) weren't currently catching a B'More beatdown, I might be home sick today with a hangover of the worst kind.

One more thing about the Angels and how their demolishing of the Red Sox bodes for any playoff matchup with them: you never can tell. The Indians didn't beat the Yankees in the regular season last year.

But let's focus on getting in the playoffs now. Please.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Game One, Sox-Yankees: A face to hate.

Kill, kill, kill Marty Foster.

False hype, false media, we don't need it, do we?

My love of the Sox-Yankees rivalry has been deeply tempered by all the bullshit that seemingly must come with it. A case example of this has been the Papelbon-Mo Rivera "rivalry" that has all the New York papers talking, still.

Prime pickings, of course, is the New York Post'stenuous "article" only publishable as article rather than pure opinion because of a surprise false media member. Al Leiter?

"Some guys, apparently Papelbon is one of them, I wish they would engage their mind before they opened their mouth," said YES analyst Al Leiter.

"You're in Yankee Stadium, and to insult Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of the sport, is not smart."

I'm not even going to touch the greatest closer of all time thing, because there's an argument to be made there. (Although Eck is my pick.) Let's just go back a second to the actual, unadulterated quote from Pap:

"If I was managing the team, I would close. I'm not managing the team, so it don't matter. ... We've both earned that right; us, by winning the World Series and having the opportunity of having our manager there and our team being represented, and Mariano by what he's done for this role, we're in Yankee Stadium and blah, blah, blah. It's not that easy. Everybody thinks it's a cut and dry answer, but it's not."

Does that sound all that impetuous to you? Curiously, Papelbon isn't even arguing his right to close due to his accomplishments: rather, he's

a) Honestly asserting the confidence all closers should have, as in, "Yes, I should be closing, because I'm the best, and the day I don't think I'm the best is the day my downfall begins." Of course if he's managing, he'd be closing! If I was managing, I would kick Pedroia's scrawny ass off the diamond and play 2nd base! If he didn't want the 9th inning, there would be the problem. Closing is a psychologically difficult task. Seriously.

b) Re-stating the "to the victors go the spoils" doctrine, an old one that once gave the All-Star manager the right to pick so many players from their own team, especially if said manager was Joe Torre.

There is no insult here. Except that Al Leiter is already falling down the slippery slope from genuinely talented analyst to Yankee speakbox. Here's hoping he finds a fireable offense to fall into so he can go off to Seattle or some other city where he can get a grip again. The Post is just being the Post. And George Vescey's hope that in "the Papelbon era" a more acrimonious rivalry may be re-ignited is optimistic thinking. The days a pitcher could have his arm broken under a dog pile have been long gone.

I'm not even buying the "hot" label on this Yankee team right now: Too many wounds, too many wrinkles, and with Jorge Posada likely to need the 1B/DH slot as a crutch for the remainder of his career, not much chance they're going to end up with Mark Texiera. Until I see this Yankee team beat an elite team, ideally on the road, I'm not buying the hype on their return.

And yes, this would be one such chance for them. Bring it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Tale of Two Sweeps


1. Angels: First place in the AL West, weak offensively but deep in all pitching aspects.

2. Mariners: Bad. Now with Felix Hernandez!

The Clay Bucholz Game

1. Horrifying. Sox get shelled.

2. Kinda good, by the youngster's standards. Two rare homeruns account for the three runs in his 5.1 IP, and he was unhittable at times. Red Sox scrap to win in 12 innings.


1. Scores 8 runs total. Leaves plenty of baserunners on in the eminently winnable second game.

2. Scores 11 runs in the regular 27 innings. Leaves plenty of baserunners on in the eminently winnable second game. Wins it anyway.


1. Makes the "Vlad Guerrero and pray for eight walks" lineup look like Murderer's Row. A particularly irritating performance is given by Manny Delcarmen (pictured above, with bloody nose and anus) in letting in the winning runs in the third game; if he could be relied upon, Tim Wakefield's excellent start likely wouldn't have been extended into the 8th inning in the first place.

2. Yesterday. Justin Masterson. 2 2/3 perfect innings pitched. 27 pitches, 20 strikes. I'm already dreaming of this situation repeating itself:

Daisuke/Wakefield/Bucholz (?): 6-7 IP.
Masterson: 1-2 IP.
Papelbon: Game over.

Final feeling:

1. Dejection. Josh Beckett tired off something awful in the second game, as (sorta) did Tim Wakefield, but this team couldn't hit shit. Also, K-Rod (and that stupid nickname) makes my blood boil, so just seeing him come out twice, successfully, knocked three months off my life expectancy.

2. Highly qualified satisfaction. Hey, it's just the Mariners, even if it's also the first (yes, first) road sweep for the Sox this year. The offense was still inopportunistic. Perhaps Papi's presence as much as his bat could change things. Hell, if the overall swing in emotion gets Jacoby Ellsbury's batting average up to .270, I'd be content.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Craig Hansen nearly stopped my heart.

Dear God, Tito, did you have to give the kid on the job training today?

The office has busied me, but before week's end, I hope to lay down my NL review and a little tale of two sweeps. Needless to say, sweeping the Mariners isn't as satisfying as being sweeped by the Angels is dejecting. More on that later.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Midseason Review Part 1: Who's living on Front Street?

This brilliant piece of East Coast-ish mid-90s sound was a one-off group, 1st Down, consisting of Phat Kat and the brilliant and much missed Jay Dee/J Dilla. It's also a good way to look at the leagues as we head into the second "half" of the season, because over 162 games, baseball teams don't so much win their divisions/wild card as they prove themselves playoff worthy. Those who don't? They're pretenders to the throne. They're living on Front Street.

AL East

1. Red Sox: Living on Possible Dynasty Street.

There's a lot to be proven here--the bullpen, David Ortiz's health, and Clay Bucholz are all question marks, and it remains to be seen if Daisuke can consistently reach the 7th inning or if Josh Beckett can recover his dominant form--but flawed though they (and every other team in the majors) are, the Red Sox are in pole position. The only surprise to many people is the team chasing them.

2. Rays: Living on Beautiful Youth Street.

Most people laughed when Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system predicted 88 wins for the exorcised, no longer deviled Rays, and they had history to back them: this team has won 70 games ONCE, and it was exactly 70 wins at that. But Chuck "The only thing that keeps this organization from being recognized as one of the finest in baseball is wins and losses at the major-league level." LaMar isn't in control anymore, and at some point, if you keep getting top draft picks and use them properly, you can acquire an assload of young talent.

The losing streak that handed the Red Sox their slim division lead may or may not be indicative of problems to come, but I wouldn't go expecting a return to the mean here. And regardless of how this year ends, the Rays will be around for years to come...

3. Yankees: Living on the corner of Front Street and Failed Youth Street.

Cano's sucked. The corpse of Hideki Matsui will probably be decomposing on the sidelines for the rest of this season, and Johnny Damon isn't coming back soon either. Hughes and Kennedy aren't exactly Spahn and Sain just yet, if they're ever going to be. Making the playoffs last year, several of my Yankee fan friends have said, may have been the worst possible thing that could have happened last season, and has left the Yankees trying to rebuild and compete at the same time.

But their youth is too young and their aged should be applying for AARP membership considering their frailty. (Mussina excepted...for now.) No wonder the Yankee fandom got so up in arms over Papelbon's All-Star comments, comments only stupid for their honesty. They had to get excited about something; unfortunately, much like the excitement over Hawkins wearing Roberto Clemente's number ("Hey! Paully wore that!"), it really made Yankee fans look like a douchebaggish mass. If our fanbase wasn't beating Yankee fans nearly to death, I would go on at further length here, but, well, they are. Sigh.

4. Blue Jays: Living on GM Vacancy Street.

I'll miss you, J.P. Riccardi. Maybe Billy Beane's hiring.

5. Orioles: Living on Meh Street.

Better than expected (and looking like geniuses for pitching Erik Bedard), but this is still a fairly uninspired mass of talent regardless of the surprising results. Daniel Cabrera is never going to be what he could be, either. On the bright side, trading Audrey Huff and George Sherrill could get a disturbingly big windfall. Baseball GMs can be that dumb and that desperate.

AL Central

1. White Sox
: Living in an unknown address.

What the fuck? Is the team I saw play the most uninspired baseball I've ever seen (in 2007's late-season four-game drubbing by the Red Sox) really in first place the year after?

Well, Carlos Quentin is laughing right now at the D'Backs as he has his monster season and Arizona struggles for every run. John Danks for Brandon McCarthy, which I thought was idiocy at the time, was actually a brilliant trade. (Although I sure wish Frank Thomas could come back to the ChiSox, just so I could call them Frank-n-Danks.) Gavin Floyd is pitching over his head for now, Jose Contreras has shown signs of life, and statistically, this is the most balanced team in the AL.

I still don't fully believe in this team, not this year. But I don't see anyone else winning a very weird AL Central either.

2. Minnesota: Living on North Front Street.

North Front Street is a fine neighborhood. Good schools. Beautiful houses. Just no real chance at genuine contention in spite of appearances to the contrary. Oh, I hate seeing the Sox play them, especially since rookie twirlier Nick Blackburn has our number. But Brandon Harris and Mike Lamb are the left side of their infield, Carlos Gomez is getting his training on the job and it often shows, and Livan Hernandez is on pace for about 320 hits, which would be dead ball-era-esque.

And the Delmon Young- Matt Garza trade that looked so even wasn't. At all.

Oh, and Brett Favre wants to be the Vikings QB. Sorry, Minnesota. At least The Hold Steady have a new record out.

3. Detroit: Living in a halfway home just off of Front Street trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives after a Josh Hamilton-eque crack binge.

This didn't work out as you expected, eh? I knew this team was flawed. (Ahem, and I also KNEW that the Indians were taking it this year.) Galarraga is still their only pitcher better than league average, Miguel Cabrera is a first baseman now (and not that good at that, either), Sheffield's body is giving way after many mainly injury-free seasons whipping that bat violently, just in time to make the Tigers' trade for him look like a clearly bad idea, and Edgar Renteria is apparently back to Wreck-A-Ria status. Is he old or does he just hate the AL that much?

Who cares. The Tigers could still be this year's late-season chargers, but I think people are overestimating their chances to do so. You know how hard a huge run is to pull off? Just look at the Rockies now.

4. Royals: Living on a duplex on Front Street.

Yawn. No comment.

5. Injuns: Kicked off of Front Street and living on a reservation, wrapping their children in small pox blankets.

Cliff Lee is pitching out of his mind, and the Indians are still in last place because their team totally forgot how to hit, then lost the punchless Victor Martinez to injury. (Which at least puts a more positive light on his 0 HR performance in the months before.) Fausto Carmona too, for awhile. Asdural Cabrera and Travis Hafner have been out for the year since Opening Day; unfortunately, they've been in the lineup all that time, being out and making outs.

Matt LaPorta sounds like a hell of a slugger (although the Brewers still got a deal on CC "No Periods" Sabathia), and Mark Shapiro is the sort of GM that can turn a last place season into a talent-acquiring adventure. Cleveland got hit in the head with the losing stick this year, but they won't be in the bottom half of the division long.

AL West

1. Angels:
Living in the same old McMansion on Very Good Street.

Yep, it's an Angels team: great pitching, somewhat iffy offense, more so than ever in both cases. Will need 11 straight shutouts in the playoffs to actually win the World Series, but just might get it. The Official A's fan of Vaughn's, Professor L-P, insists that Joe Saunders sucks and his record is an abberation, and both Ervin Santana (whose real name is Johan! he changed it due to you know who!) and the Younger Weaver Brother can be gotten to on occassion. As for John Lackey, hopefully he'll pitch in Fenway again in the playoffs: you know what results from that.

So, yes, this is a team that can win it all. Assessing them further than that, I can't do from what little I've seen. I'm looking forward to the Sox-Angels series after the break, I'll say that much.

2. Athletics: Has a house on Front Street, but usually just sleeps on the beach.

Lineup: Horrible. Pitching rotation: The Duke is excellent, the rest are adequate. Bullpen: Still squeezing the last life from the 2004 Red Sox 'pen. (Embree and Foulke together makes me wish they pulled Leskanic out of retirement. Memmmmories...) This has been a good rebuilding season. Let's not call it more than that, now.

3. Rangers: Lives in a van. But it's a slick van. Hydrolics and shit.

Milton Bradley and Josh Hamilton have both been amazing and excellent pickups. Ian Kinsler is playing out of his mind. The Rangers actually have more wins than the Rays and Red Sox since June 1st. But these being the Texas Rangers, they still can't pitch, so I still can't say I care.

4. Mariners: Homeless.

The Mariners don't know lucky shit from shinola. Success last year was bad for the Yankees this year, but an absolute catastrophe for the M's, who traded their future for a pissy French-Canadian they may manage to trade this coming deadline. Already. One player they couldn't trade: the departed Richie Sexson. Another they won't be able to trade: recent signing and no longer league-average pitcher Carlos Silva. Mercy. Pass the gauze.

NL review tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Give up no runs, lose no games.

Good time for a goose egg; better time (bottom of the 8th) for the only offense the Sox could muster off stingy Minnie pitching; excellent time to hear David Ortiz is swinging (hard) pain-free; best time to start the easy conversion for Justin Masterson into the bullpen. (Easier than the alternative of bullpen to starter, anyway, not that Yankee fans can tell. Seeing Joba's rutabaga-sized mug holding an iced coffee on a poster on the side of my nearest Dunkin' Donuts is still jarring to me every morning, but it also reminds me of how happy I am that he isn't svelte and handsome as well as beloved by the Yankee faithful. Then I wouldn't much like him.)

It's a troubling sign that 7.1 IP is the longest Daisuke has actually gone this season, but it was excellent pitching, followed by Okajima and Papelbon pitching in their '07 fashion, so let's just consider it one to build on. We'll see if the shoulda-been All-Star can keep it rolling.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Having been treated with civility for my nearly five years in New York City, whether I was wearing the navy cap or the red cap, I've just gotta repeat Deadspin's sentiments with even more feeling:

You motherfuckers need to stop.

This shit is wrong and it shames me almost as much as it should shame you.


Sox lost last night in too familiar a fashion (grab small lead late, lose lead because of lack of set-up relief, lose game) to recount. Another good start by Wakefield, and another good start wasted. This team needs to limp into the All-Star break without losing much too more ground, because the last three series have served to undo a lot of good.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Back from break...a little late.

It has been a long time, barflies, but June became the month I squandered most of my vacation days while working double time at the road office to make up for it, so sadly, the ol' barangrill went a bit to seed. I'm also sorry to come back to this state of affairs.

Bullpens and relief pitchers are funny things. The relievers so critical to 2004's success, especially in the extra innings of the middle of the ALCS, fell flat on their faces in 2005, in no small part because Keith Foulke's knees died for our sins during said series.

The seemingly boffo (TM, Variety) Eric Gagne trade didn't work because...well, there's a myriad of reasons best summarized in the famed phrase "Gagne sucks" (or "Gagne suces" in his native tongue), but apparently saving meaningless games for a sub .500 team and holding leads for a World Series contenders are bananas and pomegranates.

And without even touching upon Jon Papelbon's uptick in blown saves, because he still looks quite right, it's apparent that Hideki Okajima's present fall from form has hurt the team immensely, because Manny Delcarmen has come into the set-up role, and Manny Delcarmen is no '07 Okajima. No, no, no, no.

Last night, in a game a frustrated Sox team really could have used to stay within 1.5 games of the best team in baseball/first place Rays (and no, I still can't believe I typed that phrase), the Sox got the best of the Floridians in the Inefficiency-Off between Daisuke Matuszaka and Scott Kazmir (5 IP a piece, 4 runs for Scott, 1 for Daisuke). That's the good part.

Then came the odd but not wholly surprising appearance of Hideki Okajima in the 6th inning. Tito gets 3 points for putting him into a clean inning (Okajima's ERA is deceptive, since he's allowing more inherited runners to score than even Mike Timlin did in a similarly deceptive [recurring theme] 2005 season) but -5 points for the earlyness of this. Unless the plan was to pitch Okajima 2 innings, I just don't think he's the 6th inning pitcher. Hansen or Aardsma, anyone?

And then came the 7th.

And there went the lead. Craig Hansen ultimately took the loss because in a reversal of order, Hansen relieved for Delcarmen (supposed new 8th inning man, in for an ineffective Aardsma, who probably shoulda been pitching the 6th...) because Delcarmen could get no one out. Six pitchers in all, essentially the whole bullpen minus Papelbon, got into this game, with only Javier Lopez and Okajima somewhat undisgraced. And there's your game.

Four of the five losses the Medias Rojas have currently strung together are of the one-run variety, but although the sabemetrician's maxim is that one-run games are something of a matter of luck, these particular losses have either been caused by

a) Blow-ups by the setup men, or
b) Games made close by not-quite-successful 9th inning rallies. In other words, the sort you can't expect to win.

What it all adds up to is that it feels like it's 2005 all over again to me. My hope is that Big Bartolo comes back good and healthy, so we can throw a new set-up man into the mix. Here's a hint who: newspaper headlines can't help but call him Masterful.

And, oh yeah, in schadenfreude news, the above happened. A few things to note:

1) Cynthia and Alex's children's names: Natasha Alexander and Ella Alexander. Want a son much, Alex? That's not naming, that's branding. The only thing possibly dumber would be if both the Rodriguez girls' names had the initials HR in them. But even that arrogant stupidity wouldn't be original.

2) Cynthia may have left Alex for Lenny Kravitz. Alex might be shacking up with (swallows a small bit of throw-up) Madonna. This would mark the first time a marriage broke up and the shattered pieces both went to (considerably) older mates. And as far as Madonna is concerned, this would again mean that, if you believe Jose's tales of hooking Alex up with a PED dealer, A-Rod is just following Jose Canseco's lead. Years after the expiration date, no less. (Shudders again.)

Get A-Good lawyer, A-Rod!

(Shudders again at bad joke.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


(Back from long vacation filled month. Some actual posts to come. Honest.)

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