Friday, February 20, 2009
Evaluating the Starters. (Starter Jackets, that is.)
Smoothing and spinning the hat I always understood, but why did you have to slam the hat, Jazz? That hurts your scalp, yo. Never understood that. Just for that, get out of my house. Twelve times!
Anyway, with as many starters as the Red Sox are going into this season, what we've got is equivalent to DJ Jazzy Jeff's closet circa 1992...only in some cases, it's circa 1993 but quite clearly 2009. Starter and Reebok Pumps were signs of spoiled youth, clever theft, or just plain "coolness" in my middle school days; nowadays, you can't even pull that look with a straight, or crookedly ironic, face in Williamsburg.
I think the elements of success are in this rotation, but who will be in the front of the closet and who in the back? Let's make the natural comparison
JON LESTER: Custom "MASS APPEAL" Jacket
Clean, simple, and reliable for years to come, it would seem. There are definite innings concerns for him next year, but what can't be denied is that he took a major leap forward. Some regression is very possible; a slide is not likely.
As for the jacket, you can wear it for years to come. It's not retro. It is what it is. Mass appealin'.
JOSH BECKETT: Authentic black Los Angeles Raiders Jacket
The cream of the Starter lot, so as with any old school style, it has a chance of appearing played out. Don't believe it. Beckett has been playing a good year-bad year pattern lately, but his BABIP was up last year while his strikeouts weren't significantly down. I'm not saying he'll pitch a 2007-esque season. Just that he will pitch much closer to that. (AND that 2008 wasn't even much of an off-year.)
If his oblique wasn't ripped to shit, we might be celebrating back to back championships right now, and Beckett knows it. You think he's that type? As one cat who wore this jacket would have put it, Don't believe the hype.
DAISUKE MATSUZAKA: Custom Claw Money Jacket
Is this a great jacket? A hideous swirl of stripes? Something I admire but couldn't possibly wear?
Did Daisuke Matsuzaka have a great season last year? A lucky weird one? Can he actually keep living on the razor's edge? Will he ever become a, gulp, 6-inning pitcher?
In order, my answers: Yes, Yes, Yes, Almost, Somewhat, Yes, Yes. His worst case scenario is better than the best case of pitchers his age. He's gaining confidence in his stuff, even if that confidence takes a most peculiar form: "You don't want to swing? Take your base. Whatever." Even with all the hard-to-watch starts to come, I delight in three more years of Daisuke and hope Boras doesn't screw us out of more.
TIM WAKEFIELD: Old "Pat Patriot" New England Patriots
Wakefield will end the season in the bullpen. The regular season, that is. And that's my optimistic view.
From his earliest days in Pittsburgh, Wakefield looked like a man out of time, and that was when there were still other knuckleballers in the league. Now? Well, not to say it isn't a physical task, but when your back and shoulder are acting up as you throw 65 mph wobblers in, the end is nigh. I hope he's good enough for the early season. I hope that he doesn't obliterate the catching situation. (Varitek, the day you dreaded has come at last...c'mon, catch the dancing ball.)
This jacket looks cool on a young man, meh on an older man, and just old on an old man. God bless Tim Wakefield, but his time is nigh.
JOHN SMOLTZ: Atlanta Braves Jacket
If he succeeds, as PECOTA seems to believe, it'll be the same old Smoltz. If he fails, it'll be the same old injury-prone Smoltz. He'll give all his has any which way. You have any doubts on this? Who do you think we signed here, Steve Avery? Nah, that would never happen.
BRAD PENNY: Simple, clean San Francisco 49ers Jacket/ Hideous Los Angeles Clippers striped jacket
Penny's 2007 was really good. Really, really good. Like David Ortiz's.
Penny's 2008 was really awful, largely due to injury problems. Much, much worse than David Ortiz's. And he's a starting pitcher, so his concerns are more concerning even than those upon a stout slugger.
What are we going to get out of Brad Penny? Simple. Awesomeness. Or awfulness. What, you wanted a prediction?
CLAY BUCHHOLZ: Three-tone Florida Marlins cap
I like teal, in spite of the 1990s and uniforms. I like black. I like white. The mix on this cap? Not so much. Clay's got three plus-plus pitches but needs to learn the mix. AAA for now, kid.
MICHAEL BOWDEN: This Kansas Jackhawks jacket, as worn by this man.
No self-respecting man would wear this jacket. No self-respecting contender relies on a kid like Bowden when he doesn't yet have two solid pitches to rely on. He might have decent results if forced into action this season, but at what cost?
JUSTIN MASTERSON: Space Cadet Uniform (not made by Starter)
This guy is one of the strangest two-way pitchers I've ever seen, and his future is either as a solid starter or an excellent reliever. For now, his value is in the bullpen; if Saito and Ramirez find their comfort zone, though, and any of the current starters are slipping, everything changes.
It's nice to have a full closet, no?