pedro martinez
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August 27, 2003/September 1, 2003

I've stopped work on this site and moved my daily Red Sox comments to a new blog: Joy of Sox.
I have, however, decided to continue updating the 2003 Schedule and Pedro's log.

 

August 26, 2003

Four days ago, Pedro Martinez lay in a hospital bed receiving intravenous fluids for dehydration while running a 101-degree fever. Yesterday, he threw 87 pitches over 6 innings, allowing 6 hits, 2 walks and a run  (although never topping 91 mph). He lowered his league-leading ERA to 2.29 and (despite his time missed so far this season) reclaimed the league lead in strikeouts. But that isn't enough, because Martinez didn't cure cancer between innings or figure out how to bring peace to the Middle East while sitting on the can. ... 

Obey Pedro quotes Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe from Bob Lobel's radio show: "[Pedro] might have been sick, we have to take that on faith that he was sick, but there's certainly reason to be suspicious of some of these guys right now and he's one of them. He blows off the team picture, he's been hypersensitive this year, he's lugging around 9 wins on August 22nd which is hardly Cy Young caliber. I'm sick of him, you know? He's a great pitcher when he's on. He's become 3/4 of a pitcher that you cannot count on anymore. It's unfortunate that he got sick so we hope he gets well, how's that. But I think as many have said, you got to be near-death-bed to be not pitching that game last night under the circumstances." And with the Red Sox winning their fifth in a row, sweeping the Mariners and Pedro giving a gutsy performance, Dan shows he is blinded by his hatred of Pedro to give it even a little rest.

Gerry Callahan (Herald pay column) wrote:

It must be tempting for the owner to say: "For crying out loud, Pedro. You're making $17 million a year and you're going to let some out-of-work mall cop who is sitting in his mother's basement eating bean dip with his fingers and thinking he's Sam Kinison drive you out of town? Are you THAT sensitive?'' ...

Few Boston athletes have received the kind of love and affection that Pedro has felt since coming here. ... but if his skin were any thinner you could see through him. This is a man with the heart of a lion and the ears of a rabbit. Presumably Pedro wants to play somewhere without hecklers, without critics, without cranks or curmudgeons or pessimists ... The irony is that Pedro draws motivation from the hecklers and the doubters, the very people he is planning to escape. ... He needs them in the press box or on the radio, and he needs them to say that he can't do it. He needs to hear that he's too small or too fragile, or he's not really sick. He thrives on the intensity and the demands that come with pitching in Boston ..."

The Herald's media reporter Jim Baker wrote that Miller emphatically stood by his story (it was an interview, not eavesdropping), adding that Pedro said: "They're criticizing me because I'm black and Dominican.'' Nashua Telegraph reporter Alan Greenwood backed Miller's account and Jimmy Golen of AP wondered if Pedro misunderstood he was on the record. ... Two things. First, if Martinez is sincere about not talking to the media, he shouldn't talk to the media -- at all -- on the record or off. Because at some point, he might say something that is simply too hot (like "I'm getting the hell out of this town") for a reporter to keep under his hat. Second, I don't think it is a coincidence that the two of the three players (Pedro and Manny; I suppose Nomar is considered "white") giving the media the cold shoulder have dark skin. ... Oh and Michael Gee already sees Martinez in pinstripes.

And as the non-baseball questions piled up before the game, even Gump had had enough: "I think this conversation is over now. You know, this is waste of my time and yours, too. ... This is not even worth talking about." Good for you, Gump. Also, Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News writes that Kevin Millar admitted he is "keeping a list of writers who disparaged the team." Now this is what I think the players should have been doing for at least the last 3 seasons. Identify the a-holes and simply shut them out; give the fair and balanced writers a scoop or two. In that way, you punish the idiots, you show that being an objective journalist has its rewards and you let the players connect with the fans through the daily papers.

Yankee Match-Ups: Lowe/Contreras, Pedro/Pettitte and Wakefield/Clemens. Because of an extra day of rest due to an off-day, Martinez will open the Yankees series in New York on September 5.

 

August 25, 2003

Kevin Millar: "It baffles me that all the media and all the fans want to bash the Red Sox in August. There's a lot of baseball left. There are going to be negatives, but why not jump on this team's back and have fun with it and pull for this team and write good things about this team, because when this team is in the wild card or [wins] the division title, this is going to be a fun team to root for. ... I love this team and I love this city, but some of the things you see and read ... It's 2003. ... [The past] makes zero sense to me." Millar's comments in his MLB diary were perceived by the Boston sports media as a slam on the fans, but it was clearly an expression of befuddlement (and annoyance) at the media's harping on past Boston losses, some of them decades and decades old. Millar's right; it makes no sense.

In related news: in the wake of Pedro Martinez's missed start due to severe pharyngitis, a fever of 101, abdominal discomfort, vomiting throughout the night, and an elevated white blood cell count (30% above normal), the talk of various mediots in Boston (though not all of them) is that he wasn't all that sick. One moron posted on his website that Pedro begged off his start because he had the "sniffles." [Plus, the selfish bastard missed the team photo shoot.] Sean McAdam noted that the opposite was true: "... one of the first things Martinez told team physician Bill Morgan early Thursday morning was that he had to find a way to make his scheduled start against the Oakland A's that night."

Naturally, Pedro is pissed. According to WBZ reporter Jonny Miller, Pedro said: "I will make $17.5 [million in 2004], and then I'm out of here." ... Pedro denied that report. Tony Massarotti believes Pedro uttered the statement, but "there is the question as to whether Martinez was on or off the record, particularly when he declined to be recorded when the same radio reporter asked him to go on tape." ... Jim Baker wrote an ESPN Insider column that said, in part:

There are two sides to playing for one of the most popular franchises in all of sport. On the positive end of things is that they have more money than most and will happily you give a nice slice of it if you are of a certain talent level. What is more, people will shout your name in the street, give you the thumbs up ... When they're not going well, some people will take time out of their busy lives and light up the phones at sports talk radio stations to question your integrity, heritage and right to walk the face of the earth. ...

Two things are at work here, and they seem to be feeding off each other to bad effect. The first is that it is human nature to blame the shortcomings of a team on its best players, no matter how well they are doing. They are much more visible targets than the supporting players, who often are the real reasons a club is not performing. ... The second is Martinez's vision of himself as victim and martyr, which, again, makes sense given some of the treatment he has received. What he must realize is that it comes with the territory of being among the very best and that a thicker skin is in order -- either that or a car without a radio on which to listen to sports talk. He must also realize that the most vocal fans do not necessarily represent the majority opinion.

If anyone doubts Martinez's guts and willingness to play in pain, they should remember his performance on October 11, 1999 against Cleveland in ALDS Game 5: six no-hit relief innings with his back hurting so much he said later that he wanted to cry out after each pitch. ... Clearly, Martinez shouldn't stand anywhere near a New England radio and he should certainly not click on websites like this. ... I'm sure if you asked every Red Sox player every day how he felt about the city/fans/media, you'd probably get some harsh statements, so I'm curious how this will all play out. During the Yankees game Monday night, the YES men sympathized with Pedro (although they did not mention his denial, which annoyed me). ... Fan discussion here and here ...

So Walker is back in the second spot. Jeff Horrigan of the Herald agrees with Gump that "the swapping of lineup spots helped neither batter." I looked at the box scores -- and they are both dead wrong. Mueller played in all 16 games and reached base in 25 of his 74 plate appearances. Walker played in 13 games (11 starts) and was on base in 8 of 46 plate appearances. So I'm supposed to believe there is no benefit to the Red Sox if its #2 hitter has an on-base percentage of .338 or .174? (Further Futility Note: Three of Walker's times on base came in one game; in the other 12 games his OBP was .119. That is not a typo.) The move of Mueller to #2 helped the Red Sox increase its chances of scoring runs, which I thought was sort of important, especially at this time of the year.

Some writers feel the AL East title is out of reach. ... On August 21, a video of Kevin Millar lip-synching and gyrating to "Born in the USA," was shown for the crowd at Fenway Park. Scott Sauerbeck said the video is actually about 10 minutes long (only 2 minutes was shown). This video MUST make its way onto the internet. ... Also, all of the box scores and play-by-play from last week are now complete.

 

August 23, 2003

While the schedule is up to date, last week's play-by-plays (Tues/Wed/Thurs) will not be posted until Monday.

 

August 18, 2003

I'm not able to watch the Red Sox on the weekends, but Sunday's game -- to judge from the comments here -- sounded like a very lackluster display from a team fighting for a playoff spot. And Gump was asleep at the switch on Friday night, as well. Bottom of the 8th, Seattle up 8-5. Todd Jones (in his second inning of work; why?) has loaded the bases. No one is warming up as Jones walks in a run. Now, admittedly, I wouldn't have put money on the Red Sox coming back in the top of the 9th, but why the hell isn't Grady trying to keep his team in the game? Is a 3-run deficit the point at which you wave the white towel? The Seattle sportscasters were dumbfounded that Sauerbeck wasn't ready to face Olerud (after the bases-loaded walk). And it wasn't like Gump had decided it was "Jones or bust". He actually DID get Sauerbeck up, but at the exact moment he was needed in the game. This is far from an isolated incident.

Can Boston's offensive schizophrenia (unprecedented slugging one night and impersonating the '62 Mets the next) be traced to Gump's total passivity? If the club isn't hitting well on a particular night, there seems to be no effort at taking a different course of action during the game. If they're flat through the first few innings, it's damn near a sure bet they'll be flat all the way through. And that will drive a fan -- certainly this fan -- totally nuts.... It's too late to fire the manager now and barring a World Series title (ha!), Gump is gone after this season. That'll be a happy day, but I'll also wonder why the front office let a golden chance slip away by not dumping Gump months ago. ... I would like Grady Little to look at the standings and take to heart this bit of advice: "Every game counts. Even those you gave up on weeks and months ago, you moron." ... It's a pipe dream, though; this idiot couldn't manage a lemonade stand. 

More props for Theo: "I was sick of the age jokes, so I took steps to quickly be known as, instead of the 29-year-old general manager, the GM who had no clue how to build a bullpen. I took care of that early." ... A Yankee blogger explains an ingenious way to intentionally bat out of order to avoid having your crappy hitters come to the plate. ... David Heuschkel notes that: "Eleven times in his 23 starts, Burkett has given up all his runs in one inning." That is weird. ... BP adds some new stats!

Elsewhere, it has been decided that Ted Williams's signature on a piece of paper allegedly agreeing to be frozen after his death is genuine. It may be, but I've always thought that Ted's signature/autograph was on that paper long before anything else was written on it. As noted in the SI article (read about it here), Williams never signed any official papers "Ted Williams"; he used "Theodore S. Williams."

No other postings this week, as I'm off to Vermont to visit family and friends and do a book store appearance at the Barnes & Noble in South Burlington, August 21, at 7pm. If any northern Vermonters are reading this, stop by and say hello.

 

August 15, 2003

The count was 1-1 to Frank Menechino in the bottom of the second (4:10 pm) when the power went out. It took a little while to realize it wasn't a fuse and it wasn't just my Washington Heights (Manhattan) building. About 16 hours later, electricity was restored. So I missed an epic 10-pitch AB by Manny leading off the 9th against Keith Foulke -- cbfbfbfff - which ended with a game-tying Ramirez home run -- Mannyball tops Moneyball. (Alan Embree was also key.) Steven Krasner said it ranks at "the top of the list of the numerous emotional, improbable and important wins" this season. ... Grady reaffirmed that the rotation would be set so that Pedro would pitch in both upcoming series against the Yankees.

The Red Sox were in first place on June 11. Since that time, they have remained in second, and it has seemed that whenever the Yankees lost, the Red Sox simply could not win to take advantage. I looked at the schedule and it turns out the Red Sox have been taking advantage of Yankee loses much more than I had imagined, though not as much lately. On days New York lost, Boston went 14-5 (2-0 from June 11-30, 8-2 in July and 4-3 in August). The problem has been on days the Yankees have won. Boston simply has not been able to keep pace, going 17-16 (8-4 from June 11-30, 6-8 in July, 3-4 in August). To finish things off, Boston has gone 4-4 on Yankee off days.

 

August 14, 2003

Derek Lowe's excitement over striking out Durazo in the fifth inning last night was the perfect end to what Grady rightly called "one of our bigger wins of the season." Kevin Millar added: "We needed someone to cowboy up." It was a tense situation. Boston led 4-2 and Lowe had just walked Tejada to load the bases with 2 outs. And then he went 3-0 on Durazo. But he bore down, threw a called strike, and then got Durazo to whiff at the next two pitches for the inning-ending strikeout. Boston tacked on three more runs a bit later and Williamson, Sauerbeck, Timlin and Kim all worked one inning each to preserve the win. I would have liked to have seen Williamson throw a second inning and perhaps not used 4 pitchers, but it's a small gripe. ... Interview with Johnny Damon in Oakland Tribune ... Seattle Times on 4 teams fighting for 3 playoff spots. ... "The House That Dewey Built" makes the point that Trot Nixon is one of the 10 best hitters in baseball this season. ... And in what has been an all-too-rare occasion this summer, Boston is able to win on a night the Yankees lose.

August 13, 2003

Nate Silver of BP: "The Red Sox ended Tuesday night four games behind the Yankees in the AL East. What are the odds that they can make up that deficit to take the division? And, failing that, what are their chances to edge out the A's for the wild card?... " According to this, Boston has a 8% chance to win the East and a 55% of making the playoffs (down from 70% two weeks ago).

Tuesday night's lineup against lefty Barry Zito:

Damon CF
Mueller 3B
Garciaparra SS
Ramirez LF
Millar DH
McCarty 1B
Kapler RF
Walker 2B
Varitek C

Varitek is the team's best hitter against LHP -- 1.173 OPS -- so of course you should bat him in the spot where he'll get the least number of plate appearances against Zito. (And viola, he drove in all 3 Sox runs.) Oh, and make sure to put him right after the loser whose on-base average since July 1 is .230. ... And McCarty? Batting 6th?!? Jesus. ... Ortiz is 4-8 against Zito, who has a reverse split, both this season (.676 OPS from LH/.632 RH, with all of the difference coming from slugging) and over the past 3 years (LH .733/RH .609). ... And how much of an upgrade is Gabe "1 Hit in My Last 16 Games" Kapler over Nixon against such a LHP? Gordon Edes hints that maybe weakening the offense at this point might not be the best idea. ... And Mulder, who pitches tonight, has had a similar split over the last 3 seasons (.747/.694) so of course it was no surprise to hear that Gump apparently plans to sit Ortiz both nights.

Inside the "Mind" of Grady Gump: 1st inning, Damon on first, two outs, Ramirez up, Damon thrown out trying to steal on 2-0 count. ... 4th Inning, Damon on first, no outs, Mueller fouls off five pitches on a full count, Damon not running on any of them. ??? ... There was perhaps no clearer picture of Bill James's bullpen philosophy than Ken Macha's move last night. In the 8th inning, Boston (trailing 5-3) had men at second and third with no outs and Mueller, Garciaparra and Ramirez coming up. The A's went to their top reliever, Keith Foulke, because clearly this was the most important point of the game. (I hope Grady, who had been ejected, was watching and taking notes.) And Foulke was up to the challenge, retiring six straight hitters, allowing no runs to score and saving the game. James never pushed for a "bullpen by committee" -- he advocated using your best reliever when he is most needed, not savings him for some save-by-rote in the 9th inning. ... And as far as I can tell, not one writer, for either Boston or Oakland media, noted that fact.

Derek Lowe is getting a bit testy, and while he's got a point, the only way to shut up his critics is with a strong showing on the mound ... Pedro Martinez will not get any extra rest because of Boston's off-days August 18 and 28. His starts will be: Saturday (Seattle), August 21 (Oakland), August 26 (Toronto) and August 31 (Yankees at Fenway).

       W   L  GB
NYY   71  46   -
SEA   72  47   -
OAK   69  50   3
BOS   68  51   4

That is not good. ... But it's better than this piece of crap, which might be the worst piece of (ahem) journalism I've seen all year. I can't bring myself to quote any of it -- except to say that Donaldson is closer to the Bobby Sprowl of columnists than the Pedro -- but, hey, the Yip Dawg loved it.

 

August 12, 2003

I stayed up until 12:32 am for that? Tim Hudson was masterful -- facing 28 batters and throwing 93 pitches in a complete game 2-hitter -- but the Red Sox did absolutely nothing to try to counter that. They managed two infield hits for the game, hit only 3 balls to the outfield and had a stretch where only 2 of 8 batters hit the ball past the mound. ... And what will it take for Todd Walker to be benched (or, preferably, sent to the South Pole)? A .239 OBP in July didn't do it, and an OBP of .167 so far in August isn't doing it. No range at second and a tendency to hack at anything short of a throw to first hasn't done it. How about leading off the 6th inning right after Pedro threw 33 pitches and escaped a bases-loaded jam caused in part by his (Walker's) bobble of a double-play ball by hacking at ball 1 from Hudson, who had thrown 52 pitches in 5 innings, and grounding out to second? Nope. Gump probably took him aside and told him he took a good swing at a tough pitch. Tim Daloisio at Musings from RSN echoes the concern over Walker. ... Pedro had no fastball and questionable control and lasted only 5 innings. Sure was a good idea to have him "send a message" by throwing 128 pitches against the Angels. Unbelievable. ... Fossum threw an ugly 6th, then Jones retired Oakland on 12 pitches with a 1-2-3 7th inning. So assuming the A's wouldn't be batting in the 9th, did Jones, who has pitched only once in the previous 5 days, come out for the 8th? No, it was Scott Williamson. Clearly, Grady hadn't yet reached his nightly quota of mindnumbingly stupid moves. ... Damn, Gump, did you consider getting Embree and Kim up too? ... I really can't take much more of this shit.

Baseball Prospectus reports: Pete Rose and Major League Baseball have reached an agreement that would allow him to return to baseball in 2004, and includes no admission of wrongdoing by Rose. ... MLB has denied the story. ... Loooooong discussion at Baseball Primer; Doug Pappas weighs in. ... Bill Mueller in the Oakland Tribune ... Was Brandon Lyon ever seriously hurt at all? ... Theo says Bronson Arroyo is in the starting rotation plans for September and 2004. ... Let's hope Burkett sees more success with his new-fangled splitter tonight.

 

August 11, 2003

Tonight's game -- which begins a critical road trip -- should be a good one. Pedro Martinez (8-2, 2.32 ERA) v Tim Hudson (10-4, 2.64). Martinez is second in the AL in ERA, behind Esteban Loaiza (2.24); Hudson is right behind Pedro at #3. Martinez leads the league with a 1.85 road ERA; Hudson is second with a 2.35 home ERA. ... In Pawtucket, Bronson Arroyo pitched a perfect game against the Buffalo Bisons Sunday. He struck out nine in the 101-pitch outing. ... George Kimball's Herald pay column on Suppan can be read here. ... Some day, maybe in the distant future, Pedro will drill Ray Knight. ... Rafael Furcal became the 12th player in history to turn an unassisted triple play. ... Someone who claims to be part of the Boston sports media has begun a blog that is a humorous response to the Boston Dirt Dogs site (especially here). Say hello to Red Sox Yip Dawg.

Same as it ever was. More unbridled stupidity in Sunday's loss to the Orioles. Nixon and Ramirez both thrown out trying to steal in non-stealing situations. Isn't Manny's quad bothering him? So why the F is he trying to steal? Gump, as he has in several other instances, passed the buck after the game, saying they were on their own. Hey Grady, you're the manager -- you can take the green light away if you want. Moron.

Grady made a number of other dumb moves in the Baltimore series (and the ones he'll make (you think he won't?) in Oakland and Seattle will be magnified at least three-fold), but one stands out as prime Gump. It was in the 8th inning of Friday night's game. Kerry Ligtenberg had allowed a single to Millar to load the bases and walked Varitek to force in a run, cutting the Orioles' lead to 4-2 with only one out. Gump sent Nixon up to hit for Kapler and Hargrove (who probably had to be restrained from running over and kissing Grady) brought in lefty Buddy Groom, who was waiting to face lefties Walker and Damon. Gump thought he'd get Nixon to face Ligtenberg, but he actually allowed Hargrove to exploit the lefty-lefty match-up for 3 batters instead of 2. Groom didn't need to face all three, of course. He struck out Nixon and got Walker on a groundout. End of inning. End of threat. And, effectively, end of game. ... 

Gump does not think even one move ahead of the opposing manager. He has no plan. I wouldn't be surprised if Grady had no clue that Groom was warming in the pen; he was merely thinking that Nixon would be a better bet against the righty instead of Kapler, never entertaining the thought that Hargrove would change pitchers. ... If the Red Sox make the playoffs, how in the hell will they do anything with this pudding-brained idiot calling the shots? When does he pull the starter? Which relievers does he bring in and when? When to pinch-hit? How does he go about short-circuiting the opposing manager's likely moves? Grady Little has given no indication he can do any of these things. ... Would it be better if the Red Sox failed to make the playoffs than have to deal with the frustration of their manager gumping away a series that should have been won? ... I'm not ready to answer that one, yet. ... Right now, I must clear my head of all things Gump for a few hours, before Hudson throws his first pitch to Damon ...

 

August 10, 2003

Kevin Millar hit the 10,000th home run at Fenway Park. Only Wrigley Field (10,738), Yankee Stadium (10,247) and the now-defunct Tiger Stadium (11,113) have had more dingers. In other homer news, Manny Ramirez hit his 100th as a member of the Red Sox (in his 1,388th at-bat), making him the fastest player in team history to 100, edging out Jimmie Foxx (1,390 at-bats). ... Article on Mr. Youkilis. ... Sean McAdam writes:

For the Red Sox, the race for the playoffs begins in earnest tomorrow. That begins a stretch that sees the Sox play 25 games, 23 of which are against teams battling for the playoffs. ... In an effort to handicap the race, we asked another A.L. GM and a longtime scout to assess the field. ... both experts predicted that Seattle would be the team to miss out on the playoffs. ... The GM believes the Yankees will win the wild card; the scout picked the Yanks to win the East. ... Both scouts see the Red Sox ending their playoff drought.

GM: "The biggest question to me is whether (Derek) Lowe and (Tim) Wakefield step up and help support Pedro (Martinez). ... they just have to get through the next few weeks, because they'll take advantage of that schedule in September."

SCOUT: "[I]f the Red Sox are ahead on Labor Day, they will win the wild card. If they're not, they're in some trouble. As Derek Lowe goes, so goes the Red Sox rotation. ... it will be interesting to see how the Sox do against good pitching (in the West) because A.L. East pitching isn't very good this year."

Oakland Matchups
Mon: Martinez vs. Hudson
Tues: Burkett vs. Zito
Wed: Lowe vs. Mulder
Thur: Wakefield vs. Lilly

 

August 9, 2003

Game One: Ugh. Well, there's 2:42 of my life I can't get back. On two occasions, Lowe gave back a lead Boston had just taken -- in the top of the 2nd and top of the 7th. Absolutely maddening. Boston led 4-3 after six inning. Facing Lowe, Fordyce singled and Roberts walked to start the top of the 7th. Some SoSH posters thought Grady left Lowe in one batter too long (Matos, who doubled in the tying run). I don't agree. With Matos coming up, Lowe had thrown 80 pitches and 9 of his 15 non-K outs had been on the ground. The pen was warm already (good work, Grady!) but I had no problem with Lowe facing Matos. ... Now, why Gump left Williamson in for five batters -- K, intentional walk, single, single, single -- I cannot fathom. That is where the game slipped away -- after the strikeout, Williamson threw 14 pitches, 13 of which were balls. Gump was snoozing and by the time Sauerbeck came in, the score was 8-4. ... And as soon as I post Ortiz's non-single streak, it ends as he singles in the 4th. ... Good game from Mirabelli and Nixon hit his 100th career home run.

Game Two: &*%^$#@. Red Sox now 4 back of New York, still 1 ahead of Oakland for the wild card.

After various mediots raised a fuss about Pedro leaving the club for last week's Pan Am Games opening ceremony in the Dominican Republic, Martinez has this to say when asked about heading to Oakland early (he opens a series with the A's on Monday night): "Did the media give me permission?" And this is such a big deal because we know the Red Sox lost the last game before the All-Star break to Detroit because the team was crushed to learn that Pedro would not be cheering his mates on from the bench. It appears the Red Sox lost Friday's doubleheader because they knew Pedro would be leaving very soon and their hopes for victory this weekend look slim indeed. Yes, most major league teams send their starting pitchers for an upcoming series on ahead of the rest of the team -- but oh, Pedro, how could you? ... Despite his Friday start, Casey Fossum will go back to the bullpen.

 

August 8, 2003

The Globe reports that Ramiro Mendoza will either accept a minor league assignment to Pawtucket or go on the 15-day disabled list (Todd Jones will remain in the bullpen). Asked if Mendoza was physically okay, Grady Little said, said, "I feel like he is." But Theo Epstein noted, "We're going to talk to our medical staff about that." ... The Herald said Mendoza apparently cleared waivers and thus might have to be released if he and the club cannot agree about a trip to the minors. ... Mendoza was part of a 20-minute meeting with Little, Epstein and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas on Thursday. ... The Hartford Courant says Mendoza will be DL'd because of tendinitis in his right knee. ... Ron Chimelis adds his thoughts. 

How hot is David Ortiz? He has five doubles, two triples and five home runs -- and no singles -- since July 26, when he poked a game-winning hit off the left field wall to beat the Yankees. Since then:

7/27 NYY  1-3, triple
7/29 Tex  2-5, 2 doubles
7/30 Tex  0-3
7/31 Tex  1-2, HR
8/ 1 Bal  0-1
8/ 2 Bal  0-4
8/ 3 Bal  3-4, double, 2 HR
8/ 5 Ana  2-4, 2 doubles
8/ 6 Ana  1-3, triple
8/ 7 Ana  2-3, 2 HR

 

August 7, 2003

Count me among the fans who disagree strongly with Gump's decision to have Pedro pitch the ninth inning last night. Boston led 4-1 in the top of the 9th against a non-rival and Martinez had thrown 108 pitches. He had thrown 128 and 111 in his previous last two starts. Bill James notes that relievers (even ones like Benitez) rarely blow 3-run saves; no matter who you throw out there, you'll win 97% of the time. McCarty's error didn't help (indeed, if he makes the play, Pedro probably has a 1-2-3 inning), but it was only after Quinlan's single and Eckstein's double that Kim started warming. Pedro was up to 121 pitches. He hit Erstad to load the bases (the score was 4-2) before striking out Salmon to end it. ... There is simply no logical reason for working him that long on August 6. Was anything wrong with the pen? Embree had pitched only .2 innings in 7 days, Kim had pitched twice (3 innings) in 5 days; Sauerbeck could have been used. Were Grady and Pedro attempting to shut up Martinez's various critics, who have wailed and moaned about his Pan Am trip? It's not out of the question. But with starts against Seattle, Oakland and New York coming up, that could be a high price to pay. There simply is no margin of error for Boston in this playoff race.

Damn! The Yankees managed to dump Benitez onto the Mariners. Was Benitez aware of the irony of his comment: "I don't think I had to prove to New York what I can do. New York knows what I can do." ... CBSSportsline.com continues to have a difficult time getting correct pitch-by-pitch data. These were its errors in Tuesday night's 10-9 Boston win:

Batter         CBS           Reality
A1 Erstad      Pop LF        Pop SS
B1 Damon       cb            bcb
A2 DaVanon     cbffbb        cbffb
A2 Quinlan     bcsbb         bcsfbb
A3 Anderson    FC to SS      FC to 1B
B3 Nixon       cbbb          bcbb
B3 Walker      PB            WP
B3 Walker      SAC at 2B     Groundout to 2B
B3 Millar      csf           csbb
A4 Eckstein    PB            WP
B5 Ortiz       PB            WP
B5 Walker      c             bcb
A6 Molina      FO deep RF    FO to CF in LCF
A6 Salmon      single CF     single off LF wall
A7 DaVanon     bfc           cfb
B7 Nixon       hit to CF     hit to LF in LCF
A8 Eckstein    6-3           5-3
B8 Nixon       ssb           fsb

And errors in last night's 4-2 win:

Batter         CBS           Reality
B3 Mueller     c             b
A4 Salmon      c             b
B4 Walker      bb            cbb
B4 Varitek     cfbbfbffff    cbfbfbffff
A5 Quinlan     c             s
B5 Mueller     cfb           cf
B6 Millar      bb            bbb
B6 Walker      bbcsb         cbbsb
A7 Quinlan     bcbcb         cbcbb
B8 Mueller     bbbf          bbbc
A9 Kennedy     c             cb

 

August 6, 2003

Jeremy "He apparently really is hurt" Giambi was put on the DL yesterday and Dave McCarty, acquired via waivers from Oakland, joined the club as a defensive replacement at first base. McCarty and Damian Jackson should strengthen the right side of the infield in late innings (Todd Walker has been abominable). ... Kevin Youkilis did not reach base last night ... Here is an interesting look at the Sox hitters at home and on the road (dated Aug. 5). ... Tony Massarotti in the Herald: "Suppan was actually in position for a win before Sox manager Grady Little curiously summoned Todd Jones..." [my emphasis] Again, Grady's choice made no sense -- it looked like a white flag move, but Boston was up 9-7 at the time. I suppose Jones was a better option than Mendoza (who had been warming earlier), but maybe not: in his last 6 appearances (including last night), Jones has allowed 10 earned runs in 5.1 innings. And since Mendoza is signed through 2004, Jones may be the one hitting the bricks when Fossum returns Friday. ... Pedro tonight.

 

August 5, 2003

Jeff Suppan makes his debut tonight against the Angels in Fenway. It's his first start for the Red Sox since Sept. 17, 1997. Suppan is Boston's 25th pitcher this season, one shy of the franchise record set 1995 (a record that should fall this year). ... In noting that MLB will be guaranteed at least $500 million from 2005-2009 from licensing deals, Bud Selig seemed to contradict his usually gloom-and-doom statements about the game. Noting that MLB's licensing revenues have grown each year since 1998, Selig said this new deal is "a manifestation as to how strong this sport really is." ... Fourteen of Boston's last 15 runs have been via HRs, including 12 solo shots. ... More on Theo ... In defense of Bill James ... Kevin Youkilis will attempt to break Kevin Millar's minor league mark of consecutive games reaching base (71) tonight in Pawtucket. The actual record is unknown. ... Bob Ryan and Bill Reynolds wonder if this is the year:

            W   L   Pct. GB    RS    RA   Pthag*
New York   67  42  .615   -   582   473   66-43
Seattle    68  43  .613   -   568   430   71-40
Boston     64  46  .582   3  673   572   64-46
Oakland    64  47  .577   4   504   427   65-46

One of these teams will be at home in October.

* Expected W-L is derived from Bill James's Pythagorean theorem: RS [squared] / (RS [squared] + RA [squared]).
This formula was designed to relate a team's runs scored and runs allowed to its won-lost record.

 

August 4, 2003

Why won't Gump move Walker down in the order to clear his head like he did with Damon several times? Walker has been an automatic out for at least five weeks. In July he "hit" .206/.239/.308. ... Interesting essay on Jeter and overratedness.

Dave Sheinin opened his Washington Post article -- Red Sox Nation vs. The Evil Empire -- with the following sentence: "By this time most years, the New York Yankees have demoralized the Boston Red Sox, either by having opened up a commanding lead in the American League East, or by making a trade-deadline deal that everyone knew was soon going to produce the commanding lead and, inevitably, the division title." ... Is that true? I can't offer any history of deadline deals, but let's see if in "most years" the Yankees have demoralized the Red Sox (as of August 3) by a commanding divisional lead. Let's go back 30 years (I have bolded the team with the better record) : 

        Red Sox      Yankees 
1973    57-50   1   60-51    
1974    57-48  --    52-54  5 
1975    66-42  --    55-52 10 
1976    48-55  15   63-39  -- 
1977    60-43  --    59-47  2 
1978    67-39  --    59-48  8 
1979    64-41   8    58-49 15 
1980    52-50 12    65-38  -- 
1981    30-26  4     34-22  --   (as of 6/11; strike ongoing 8/3) 
1982    60-45       50-50  8 
1983    53-51  8     56-47  4 
1984    54-51 17     54-52 17 
1985    54-59 12     56-46  9 
1986    61-42  --    58-48  4 
1987    49-56 14    64-42  -- 
1988    62-43  --    60-44  1 
1989    52-53  2    51-57  5 
1990    57-48  --    41-63 15 (last) 
1991    50-53  8     47-53  9 
1992    49-55 13    48-57 15 
1993    59-47  3     60-48  3 
1994    52-55 16     67-38  -- 
1995    50-39  --    45-43  4 
1996    49-60 15    64-44  -- 
1997    52-59 18    63-45  6 
1998    65-45 15     78-28  -- 
1999    57-49  6    63-42  -- 
2000    55-49  3    58-45  -- 
2001    60-47  5     66-43  -- 
2002    64-45  4     68-43  -- 
2003    63-46  4    67-41  -- 

That's actually 31 years (the teams were tied in one season, 1993). New York has had the better record in 17 of those years, Boston 13. That's 57%. In 8 years, the Red Sox were in first place on August 3; in 12 years the Yankees were in first -- but half of those have come in the last 6 years. And even in those six years, only 1998 could be termed "demoralizing", and the Yankees were doing that to the entire league that summer. In 1999, Boston was 6 games out on August 3, but made the playoffs before losing the ALCS. In New York's 12 years in first place, Boston was 5 or more games out in 8 of them. In Boston's 8 years in first place, New York was 5 or more games out in 4 of them. The Yankees have been ahead of the Red Sox on August 3rd 17 out of the last 31 years. Is that "most years"? I don't think so. It looks like another case of perception clouding reality.

 

August 3, 2003

Everyone loves Theo. ... Pedro Martinez, in the Dominican Republic to take part in the opening ceremonies of the Pan Am Games, will do his between-starts throwing at his brother Ramon's pitching school. ... This is one silly sentence: "The Sox, who batted .295 as a team and averaged 6.3 runs per game over the first 104 games, have hit only .225 and averaged just two runs per game over the last three." Hmmm, 104 games v 3 -- which is more indicative of the team's true ability? I'm as pissed as the next guy at the recent noodle bat syndrome (and now it's four games), but puh-leeze. ... Jayson Stark on the deadline deals: The Red Sox were the biggest winners. "[I]t's safe to say that nobody maneuvered his way through the transactions maze better [than Epstein] ... The Red Sox had next to no prospects to trade. Yet, over the last few weeks, they still found a way to reel in the three best relief pitchers who changed hands ..."

 

August 2, 2003

The pitching staff looks very nice, so the bats have gone into hibernation. Pat Hentgen was masterful, never topping more than 87 with his fastball and hitting every single one of his spots. It didn't look like the Red Sox tried to adjust as the game went on, and they went quietly. ... Damon's home run to open the ninth made the second Orioles run very important and showed once again that Gump Little is a reactive manager. Everyone fawned over him for pinch-hitting Ortiz against the Yankees last weekend, but that was an anomaly -- and it was an obvious move; the praise was like congratulating a 12-year-old for tying his shoes. In a game where you need to be two steps ahead of the other guy, Gump is always at least a step behind. 

In the Baltimore 7th, Bigbie led off with a double and was bunted to third. The score was 1-0 and Williamson was warm in the pen. This was clearly the most important point in the game. Which means you want to your best available pitcher in the game. This would have been the time to bring in Williamson. But Gump sat on his hands and watched as Fordyce banged Burkett's first pitch into left center. 2-0. (Now, of course, Williamson could have surrendered a home run, but as we are told ad nauseam, you don't want to get beat with your third best pitch. Likewise, you don't want to lose with a tired, ineffective arm on the hill. Grady didn't make the move to what was probably the better arm (just like he failed to do Thursday (Jones over Embree in the 11th)).

Mueller was unavailable after getting a wisdom tooth pulled, and Grady did not take advantage of what bench he had, letting Giambi "bat" in the 8th (he struck out looking). And after Damon's homer, Walker, Nomar and Manny hacked away like their cars were double-parked. Pathetic. ... Although I did get a chuckle out of a line by redsoxjock: "I wonder if Giambi does that in batting practice too, just stands there looking at pitches with the bat on his shoulder and after 10 mins or so just strolls out and says 'That's me.'"

Also: On Batista's 4th inning single, Damon ran in like hell and dove and couldn't come up with the ball. This has happened about four times in the last week. Does anyone on the Red Sox think Damon might be playing too deep? 

Scott Miller of CBS decides he wants a toehold on the Bosox Bandwagon:

Nobody has had a better year than Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, and his roll continued this week. ... Already, Boston has statistically one of the better offenses in baseball. Now, they're armed to give the Yankees some serious trouble. ... Williamson is one of the new additions to a suddenly formidable Red Sox 'pen. ... The Sox figure to carry 12 pitchers the rest of the way -- a luxury their potent offense helps provide.

Also making that possible are players like Damian Jackson and Kevin Millar who can play multiple positions.

 

August 1, 2003

According to Theo Epstein, Williamson and Timlin will be used as a right-hand setup men for Kim, while Sauerbeck and Embree are the lefties. Jones is the middle reliever and Mendoza is the long man. The big question is, barring an injury, is what happens next Friday when Fossum returns. From here, it looks like Mendoza is the odd man out. ... Suppan will start Tuesday at Fenway against Anaheim. ... This team is built for October. ... 

Boston wasted another decent Pedro start last night, and now despite the fact that his ERA is 2.42 -- take out that 10-run outing against Baltimore and it drops to 1.75 -- the Red Sox are only 10-9 in Pedro's starts. ... The trade-deadline rivalry between Boston and New York gets coverage in: New York Times, Newsday, Baltimore Sun, and Los Angeles Times.

The Theo Lovefest is just getting started. Art Martone asks:

What do you think of this trade: Byung-Hyun Kim, Scott Williamson, Scott Sauerbeck and Jeff Suppan for Shea Hillenbrand, Freddy Sanchez, Phil Dumatrait and a minor-league player to be named later? And this talent exchange: Kim, Williamson and Sauerbeck for Bob Howry, Steve Woodard and Chad Fox? And this switch in the starting rotation: Suppan for Casey Fossum? All of which was accomplished, by the way, with the added benefit of extra at-bats for Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar and David Ortiz? As we sit here, the morning after the trading deadline ... that's what the Red Sox have done since Opening Day.

Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus:

Theo Epstein ... has positioned the Red Sox to be the AL's most dangerous team down the stretch of his first year as GM. ... The turnaround is stunning. For a modest cost, the Red Sox have not only picked up the two puzzle pieces that make their entire plan work, but they've upgraded their bullpen from a collection of high-risk, high-reward question marks to perhaps the game's best. ... The question I've been getting peppered this week on the radio is, "Who's going to win the AL East?" ... With the addition of Williamson, however, I believe the Sox have moved well ahead of the Yankees. They're the clear favorite. ... If the Red Sox do make the playoffs, they're going to be downright scary ... it might just take extraordinary happenings ... to keep this team from winning it all.

An American league scout tells the LA Times:

I really think the Red Sox did great. They got another solid starter, they got help in the bullpen. I still feel the Yankees' biggest problem is right field. Karim Garcia is not going to get it done. That's their weakness. Both teams have helped themselves but I think the Red Sox really helped themselves. I would say they might have the edge."

Tom Singer, MLB.com:

Boston, with a relentless offense convincingly superior to that of the Yankees, now has a starting trio to match the Andy Pettitte-Mike Mussina-David Wells combine operating in the Bronx. ... they have reason to feel a lot better about their title chances then they did when they got their wake-up calls Thursday morning. ... the Red Sox essentially bagged both Sauerbeck and Suppan for Sanchez, who has made a career out of being a hot prospect but is a 25-year-old with 32 games of Major League experience. That's E-P-S-T-E-I-N if you're engraving the Executive of the Year Trophy.

Several New York writers do not like the Boone-for-Claussen deal, seeing it as a panic move rather than something that can really help the team. And check out the New York Post:

The Yankees began yesterday desperately needing an eighth-inning pitcher and a right fielder, so naturally they obtained a third baseman. After 13 months of not caring a whit about makeup by acquiring dubious guys Armando Benitez, Raul Mondesi, Ruben Sierra and Jeff Weaver, the Yanks suddenly prayed at the altar of character again by landing gritty Aaron Boone. ... Cashman insisted this was about getting a player that by the end of the GM's description sounded like a cross between Mike Schmidt and Mother Teresa ... 

Finally, "Exploring the cult of the Rem-Dawg" and a link to Prospect Report.

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