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Sunday, November 28, 2010

More Holiday Music

Steely Dan classic "Buy Nothing Day" "Black Friday"

Fenway West 11.26.10

Happy Thanksgiving from Fenway West!

Happy Thanksgiving from Fenway West! Time to be thankful for what we do have and not to worry about what we don't have. (Things. Stuff.) Please enjoy Arlo Guthrie performing a Thanksgiving staple, "Alice's Restaurant."

Fenway West 11.25.10

Jason Varitek compared to other Hall of Fame catchers

In a sense, catchers can be compared to quarterbacks. The position of catcher comes with great responsibility as they are the only ones who can see the whole defense at one time as the pitch is thrown, as well as any offensive players who may be on base. The relationship between pitcher and catcher is of utmost importance. The catcher needs to know what each batter is capable of, his likes and dislikes; and also needs to what pitch is best to retire the batter, and what the pitcher’s best choice of pitches in thousands of different situations. It’s no wonder that catchers go on to be great managers. Think Joe Torre.

In a previous post, after questioning why catchers are always judged by their offensive stats before their defensive stats, I speculated on Jason Varitek’s chances of entering the Hall of Fame some day. ‘Guest’ replied with this comment:


sorry but i completely disagre, Tek is not a HOFer. you say other stats besides batting avg (which DOES matter to some extent and he's never hit .300) but what else is there?... yes he's caught 4 no-hitters which is awesome but thats like saying DoN Larsen should be in the HoF just for his perfect game. Its one accomplishment. Teks meant a lot to the Red Sox organization and we appreciate everything he does on AND off the field, but you cannot make a case that he belongs in the hall of fame. no way, no how.

That comment prompted me into comparing Varitek’s numbers, both offensive and defensive, against 8 other catchers who are in the Hall of Fame.

I never said Batting Average does not matter. I said , “I hope that those voting come the time that ‘Tek is knocking on that vaulted door, that they will consider all of his stats equally, and not just his batting average.” Only 2 of them, Cochrane and Dickey, had lifetime batting averages over .300, while Bench, Carter and Fisk were all in the .260’s. I also consider catching 4 no-hitters 4 separate events, not 1 as the commenter did. I would think it is more comparable to a pitcher throwing 4 no-hitters in his entire career.

I took a look at the offensive and defensive lifetime season statistics of HoF catchers Bench, Berra, Campanella, Carter, Cochrane, Dickey, Fisk, Hartnett and compared them to those of Varitek. While his averages could fluctuate up or down (BA, OBP, SLG, OPS and FLD, etc.), his quantifiable stats (games, at bats, hits, runs, doubles, home runs, total chances, put outs, etc.) can only go up. Most of the catchers in the HoF have 17-24 years of MLB action, while 2 of them have fewer years than the 14 of ‘Teks.

Click on the table to make larger

Jason Varitek’s offensive numbers to date compare favorably to the lowest of the 8 HoF’ers, while his defensive numbers place him in the top 3 in 6 of 10 categories.

I know these numbers can be inspected, detected, infected, neglected, selected, bisected, and dissected in 11teen bazillion different ways, but I will leave that to the Jamesian statisticians and simply say, he’s got a shot. Check his numbers when·his career finally does come to an end, factor in his game calling skills and that 'C' on his jersey, then he has an even bigger shot. Carlton Fisk played in 2499 games in 24 seasons, and only 273 were not in the catcher position. ‘Tek won’t play another 10 years, but he’s got a lot of game left in him before he hangs up his cleats.

Note~ I started this post before it was announced that Victor Martinez was signed to a contract with the Detroit Tigers. This suggests to me, that the Red Sox FO may be looking at Varitek mentoring or even possibly platooning with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty is chomping at the bit, Varitek isn’t ready to call it quits, and Salty is really looking forward to the possibility of working with ‘Tek.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Red Sox box score from the past (07.24.04)

It's the off-season and most of the posts in bloggerland from the major media outlets to the smallest of blogs seem to be focused on what Theo 'might' do this winter. In a break from speculation, I offer something that 'did happen', as opposed to what 'might happen.'

In my post about catcher's being rated first on their offensive skills and Jason Varitek's possibility of making into the Hall of Fame, I included a photo that every Red Sox fan will recognize- 'Tek feeding A-Rod a leather sandwhich in 2004. That is the game that turned the Red Sox season around and led to them making the playoffs that historic year.

So I will start off with the box score from July 24th, 2004.

Click on box score to make larger

The Lees, Rangers CEO and Yankee fans

I don’t remember where exactly I read this, but it appears that that the Rangers CEO and Cliff Lee’s wife share a common bond- their dislike of Yankee fans.

Not as outspoken as his late father George was during his 37 years in control of the Yankees, Steinbrenner was moved to the airwaves in response to comments made Monday by Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg. Greenberg said in a Dallas radio interview that "Yankees fans, frankly, were awful" during the ALCS games at Yankee Stadium, a remark he later apologized for by saying he had "unfairly and inaccurately disparaged" Yankees fans. The Yankees learned of Greenberg's comments during their meetings, and Steinbrenner said the team informed Major League Baseball that they intended to aggressively respond but agreed to wait a day in deference to the World Series. Steinbrenner said that he spoke with Greenberg later on Monday and believed his tone of apology to be sincere. "He absolutely would be the first one to admit that they were stupid comments and inappropriate," Steinbrenner told 1050 ESPN. "He very much wanted to give a sincere apology. I said, 'That's good that you're apologizing to us, but you need to apologize to our fans. They're the ones you've wronged here.' And he did in that statement."

ESPN also had a post about Greenberg and Yankee fans.

Lee’s wife was reportedly not happy with the behavior of Yankees fans, who threw taunted her, spit at her and threw beer at her.

If you put all that together with the fact that Arlington, TX is only 40 minutes from the Lee’s home in Arkansas, my guess is that Lee will be staying put in Texas.

More on Jason Varitek

The Boston Red Sox FO should take a long hard look at the ongoing negotiations between Hal Steinbrenner (is he the dumb one, or the dumber one?) and Derek Jeter and his agent. ESPN opined that “messy” negotiations, as suggested by Steinbrenner, “It's akin to putting the Rolling Stones together without Mick Jagger. You can't do it.”

The Red Sox have already eliminated any such messiness with David Ortiz, but negotiating still remains with Jason Varitek, who is just as important to the Red Sox as Jeter is to the Yankees.

On the surface, it may appear that the Red Sox are not pursuing Victor Martinez as much as they had declared, especially in light of the attention that he is getting from other teams. Does this mean that 'Tek will be back and mentoring Jarrod Saltalamcchia? Many think Salty is not quite ready for the big leagues, but that the Sox have not cemented a deal with V-Mart as of yet certainly suggests it is a possibility.

Why are catchers always first rated upon their batting statistics?

Why are catchers always first rated upon their batting statistics? I read this post on Bleacher Report a while back about V-Mart, and the author immediately recited his batting statistics, but made did not mention his defensive skills, nullifying stolen base attempts and game calling skills until much later in his post. To the author’s credit, he finally did later mention Martinez’s loyalty to his employer, clubhouse acceptance and respect.

Martinez is making an on-the-field case for why he should get a new contract from the Sox. After a thumb injury sidelined him for almost a month, an offensive surge over the last two months has shown why he's so valuable. In August, Martinez hit .298 with 4 HR and 15 RBI. In September, his numbers have been even better: a .324 average, 6 HR, 23 RBI, and a .941 OPS.

He makes no mention of his other assets until halfway through his post.

Jason Varitek may not be bound for the Hall of Fame, but he should. The first thing that will be looked at will be his batting statistics. Any other position player with a similar set of stats would never be elected in. Factors such as his quiet but strong clubhouse leadership and his game calling skills carry much less weight. ‘Tek prepares himself for a game unlike any other catcher. He does his homework, and knows what pitch to call for every batter in every situation. He has at least 2T of memory.

He’s also called and caught 4 no-hitters, more than any other catcher in baseball history. ‘Tek probably won’t make it to the HoF, but he should. I hope that those voting come the time that ‘Tek is knocking on that vaulted door, that they will consider all of his stats equally, and not just his batting average.

Let's not forget the 2004 season's turning point.

2010 Red Sox Highlights

I could probably list 162 highlights of the 2010 season, but will have to settle with these for now:

Jed Lowrie 4/4 against the Yankees in NY

Clay Buchholz & Jon Lester- no Cy Young’s but MLB’s best top 2 starters
Adrian Beltre monster season
Victor Martinez has a great season

Terry Francona finishes 4th in AL Manager of the Year Award

Terry Francona finished 4th in AL Manager of the Year Award voting which was announced Wednesday. Passionate Red Sox fans (myself included) hoped that voters would not turn this into a popularity contest and look at what Francona accomplished given that he was managing a AAA team for part of the year and having the daunting challenge of filling out a different line-up card for almost every game of the season. Ron Gardenhire, manager of the AL Central champs Minnesota Twins won the 2011 Award, and finished ahead of the AL Pennant finished second.

Red Sox Nation can take heart in his 4th place finish, as the only managers to finish ahead of him piloted teams to the post-season. Despite making the play-offs, Joe Girardi received 1 third place vote, his only vote. Despite not making the play-offs, Toronto manager Cito Gaston received 1 first place vote, again, his only vote. (Huh? What happened there?)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Am I a Giants ‘pink hat’ fan?

Growing up in RI, of course I became a Red Sox fan early on. Always was, always will be. There were no NL teams up in this corner of the country back then, or now. The Mets were brand new and were sucking swamp water up until ’69. I recall our family making a trip to the Pittsburgh area when I was young. It was there that I made my 1st trip to see a Major League Baseball game at old Forbes Field. The Pirates are a sentimental favorite for that reason. I am left wondering if the Giants were the visiting team that day. Somehow, though, the Giants became my favorite NL team. I never followed them nearly as close as I did and do the Red Sox.

Many years later, I find myself living in Giants country. I still don’t follow them as closely as I do the Sox, but I always hoped that they win it all in the World Series, and that has finally come to pass. I read many Red Sox posts from major media outlets to small blogs. Following the Sox hard and writing for Fenway West leaves little time to follow the Giants anywhere near as much as the Sox. I try and watch every Sox @ A’s game each year. (I root for the A’s unless they are playing the Sox.) Finances such as they are, I am lucky to get to 1 Sox @ A’s game each year, and consider myself extra lucky to have been able to get into a Sox @ Giants game this past season. Finances again limit my cable TV service to the bare bones basic package, limiting my chances of watching Giants games on the tube. (I’m not much of a bar person anymore, unless I’m up on the stage playin’.) I was able to watch most of the Giants run to their 1st World Series championship since 1954, and their 1st ever as the San Francisco Giants. I have almost as much Giants schwag as I do Red Sox, thanks to the Goodwill store.

So I ask our readers, am I a Giants ‘pink hat’ fan?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Back in the motherland

My nephew up in Marblehead, (or should I say 'Mobblehead'?) is getting married this weekend, giving me a good reason to come back east for the 2nd time this year. I'll be passing right through Boston. I just wish he would've gotten married in September when the Season was still going on. Oh well, I will enjoy myself nonetheless. I just hope my father's car makes it up there. Last year I was driving my daughter up to Logan on a rainy day when the driver's side wiper blade fell off! I'll try and get some posts up next week. I'm still sleep deprived hungover from spending all day yesterday in planes, busses, and planes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A reliever to consider?

The Tampa Bay Rays declined their option on reliever Dan Wheeler today. The Rays had a $4 million option on Wheeler, and a $1 million buyout which they will exercise. The Rays say they are still interested in him for 2011, and he has not ruled out ruling out returning to the Rays.

I found this surprising as Wheeler's $4 million is not out of line with other reliever's salaries after I reviewed a sample of others. Unless you're an elite closer (e.g. Mo, Pap, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Rafael Soriano, Billy Wagner, Brian Wilson), $4 million is not a bad amount for a middle reliever with numbers like Wheeler's- 2010: 3.35 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, Career: 3.84 ERA, 1.22 WHIP

Tampa Bay will be looking to cut expenses. It doesn't look good for the Rays for the near future. Could Wheeler end up in Boston? He is from Rhode Island. I don't know if he has permanently relocated to Florida as did Rocco Baldelli, also from Rhode Island, but he looks good at first glance.

The bullpen will be one area that Theo will be looking to rebuild. Could Dan Wheeler be an addition to the Red Sox bullpen? (It's not as if he was a Yankee.)

Giants win the World Series, Renteria is MVP

Fifty-six years of torture for Giants fans ended tonight in Texas as Tim Lincecum defeated Cliff Lee, THE Cliff Lee, not once, but twice. Lincecum pitched 8 brilliant innings allowing only 3 hits and 2 walks while reaching double digits, 10, in the strikeout column. In the 2010 post-season, Lincecum beat Derek Lowe, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee twice, this after winning Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009. Former Red Sox player Edgar Renteria, won the MVP Award, which was clinched for him by hitting a 3 run home run in the 7th inning, which was all that was needed to win the 5th and deciding game. Besides hitting at a .412 clip for the Series he made several defensive brilliant plays in the past 5 games, as well. Manager Bruce Bochy called for several unexpected plays that ended with positive results in this unlikely run for the World Series Championship. Every Giant player that was interviewed after the game gave credit to the team before his own self and performance. Many of the players paid respect to the great Giant players that came before them and never won a World Series in those 56 years.

This is the 1st World Series ever won by the San Francisco Giants, and the 1st World Series Championship for the Giants since the New York Giants won it in 1954. The Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series in over 100 years. The Giants have now moved to the bottom of that list. The Cleveland Indians have not won a World Series since 1948, while the 2 Texas teams have never won a World Series since those clubs entered Major League Baseball.

Although Edgar Renteria won the MVP Award, and deservedly so, there were many members of this Giants' team who made significant contributions to winning the Series- closer Brian Wilson, lefty specialist and former Red Sox reliever Javier Lopez, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez  (another former Sox), Juan Uribe, Matt Cain, and Cody Ross, among others.

This 'bunch of castoffs and misfits' fought and scratched and clawed their way to their division title, the NL Pennant, and a World Series Title in an unlikely 5 games. The Giants' pitching staff help the hard hitting Rangers to a sub-.200 batting average, and a total of 10 runs in the 5 games, 2 of those games being shutouts.

Congratulations to the Giants for winning the 2010 World Series!

Giants 3 Rangers 1 BOX SCORE

Bumgarner (who?) shuts down Rangers, Giants up 3-1

Madison Bumgarner wasn't even old enough to buy a beer when he made his first Major League appearance on June 26th, coincidentally against the Red Sox. He turned 21 on August 1st, and has become the 4th youngest rookie to win a World Series game, as the Giants opened up the Series lead winning their 3rd game against 1 loss to the Rangers. Bumgarner seemed to have no idea that he was supposed to be a nervous wreck in a game of this importance. This is magnified by the fact that his battery mate Buster Posey is only 23 years old. Bumgarner was totally in command as he threw 106 pitches over 8 innings, allowing only 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 6 Rangers. Bumgarner almost denied 2nd base all night to the Rangers. If not for Juan Uribe's bobbled ground ball in the 7th inning, the Rangers would have not landed a runner on 2nd base.

Posey and Bumgarner make up the 1st all-rookie World Series battery since Yogi Berra and Spec Shea in the 1st game of the 1947 World Series. Aubrey Huff and Posey both homered to lead the offense. The Rangers had been shutout only 5 times in the 2010 regular season, and have now been shut out twice in a little over 36 hours by the Giants. The Series continues tomorrow with a rematch of aces- Cliff Lee of the Rangers and Tim Lincecum of the Giants. Lincecum said he's feeling calmer now that he's got 1 World Series game and win in the books. He did win game #1, but it wasn't his best performance. He'll have to be on top of his game tomorrow, as you just know Cliff Lee will make adjustments and will not implode the way he did in the Series opener. In that game, the Giants chased him out of the game before the 5th inning was over.

Giants.com replay and videos

Giants 4 Rangers 0 BOX SCORE

World Series Game #3 goes to the Rangers

I don't think anybody would have predicted that either of these 2 teams would sweep the other in this years World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers. The Giants won the 1st 2 games at home, and Texas won tonight's contest.

Giants 2 Rangers 4 BOX SCORE

San Francisco loves Newy Scruggs

Newy Scruggs of NBC in Dallas-Fort Worth was in San Francisco to cover the World Series for that station. On Wednesday, he was reporting from McCovey Cove when he had this to say on air:
"This is San Francisco, and I can tell you, right over there -- there's some people smoking weed -- because it's coming this way. I'm standing here and I'm like, 'That's not cigarettes! That's weed, That's weed!'"
Besides here on Fenway West, the video clip has been making the rounds on Facebook and other sites, and did not go unnoticed by Jimmy Fallon, who used the video in his 'Remix the Clips' segment on his show last night. In the video below, Newy Scruggs makes his appearance at about the 1:30 mark, but make sure you click on 'part 2' to see how the bands drummer remixed parts of all 4 videos.

Scruggs' report is the most likely reason that police presence was increased around the Cove last night. Nonetheless, Giants fans were looking to get a photo of "The Weed Guy" as he is now known in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the original clip, you can hear the anchors back in Texas asking "Is it legal there?" "A little bit more liberal, maybe?" (Just a little more open minded if you ask me.) McCovey Cove "is a beautiful place to do that."

Later that night, Newy went looking around McCovey Cove and had this to say:

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com/video.

Game 2 – Go Cain! Giants win 9-0

Matt Cain was huge tonight going 7.2 scoreless innings, leaving the game with a 2-0 lead. He has pitched 21.1 post-season innings so far without giving up an earned run. The 2 runs would be all the Giants needed, but they were far from done after Cain left the game. Javier Lopez continues to be lights out for the Giants as he came in for the last out of the 8th inning to sit Josh Hamilton back down.

Darren Day-O O’Day came in to pitch for the Rangers in the bottom of the 8th inning, and quickly got 2 outs before Buster Posey hit an innocent little single. Pitching coach Mike Maddux and manager Ron Washington had no idea how much walking (no pun intended, keep reading) was in store for them in the remainder of that inning. In comes Derek Holland who threw 11 straight balls, and 12/13 balls, walking in a run. Exit Holland, enter Mark Lowe who walked in another run on 6 pitches, (16/19 balls if you’re keeping score.) Edgar Renteria singled in 2 runs after 3 balls, 2 strikes and 2 fouls. Exit Lowe, enter Michael Kirkman who threw 2 balls before finding the plate. The Giants feasted on fastballs as that was the only pitch the Rangers’ staff could get over the plate. Kirkman gave up a triple and a double before registering the final out. Totals for just the bottom of the 8th inning- Giants 7 runs, Rangers 6 mound visits, Rangers 55 pitches, Giants 11 batters.

Who needs to run when you keep getting free passes? The Rangers walked 4 Giants in a row in that inning from hell (for the Rangers, anyhow.)

More Random Thoughts

Not too long ago, I had noticed that Eric Hinske seems to be a good luck charm for whatever team he’s playing for, as he made it to his 4th post-season this year with as many different clubs (Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, Braves.) Edgar Renteria has been having similar luck with the Marlins, Cardinals, White Sox, and now the Giants. His home run in the 5th put the Giants on top 1-0, and they never looked back.

The Giants’ post-season pitching staff of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and Bumgarner are all products of the Giants farm. The last team to do that? The ’86 Red Sox- Clemens, Hurst, Boyd, and Nipper. Is anyone else tired of the corny Taco Bell commercial with Joe Girardi and Mo? Tim Wakefield went from the Pirates to the Red Sox and wears #49. Javier Lopez went from the Red Sox to the Pirates to the Giants and wears #49. #56 O’Day (TEX) pitched to #56 Torres (SFG.) O’Day won that match up, about the only thing the Rangers did win all night.

Giants 9 Rangers 0 BOX SCORE

Giants lead the Series, 2-0

More from the "Only in San Francisco Department"

This video clip comes from the NBC affiliate station in Dallas. Newy Scruggs can't believe what he's seeing right outside of AT&T Park. He does compliment Giants' fans as being a lot nicer than New York fans.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com/video.