At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Archive for November, 2007

Buchholz or Ellsbury for Santana ?

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 24, 2007

The Sox are in the hunt for Johan Santana.  The Twins want two young, cheap, excellent-upside players plus two minor league prospects.  And now, Jon Lester, Clay Bucholz, and Jacoby Ellsbury, and possibly Coco Crisp are in the discussion.  I’d really like to see Theo pull the trigger on this one.  Give Jon Lester a plane ticket.  Lester doesn’t get better with every start, he seems to get worse.  He puts men on and struggles to have a clean inning.   And, give Clay Buchholz a plane ticket, too, because a no-hitter doesn’t make Buchholz a solid major leaguer.  Plenty of kids have had a big day in the spotlight.  Remember Anibal Sanchez, who pitched a no-hitter in his 5th MLB start, then whoops, tore his labrum.  Remember Bud Smith, who pitched a no-no for the Cards in 2000 at the age of 21, and pitched his final MLB game at the age of 22 ?  AJ Burnett was 24 when he no-hit the Padres, but he’s 58W-54L since, with 8 trips to the D.L. in 7 years.  Eric Milton, Jose Jimenez, the list goes on.   Meanwhile, Santana brings a career winning pct. of .679, a 3.33 career ERA, and four sub-3.00 ERA seasons.  He strikes out many and walks few.   He has had just one stint on the D.L .- 6 years ago.  At age 28, he could give his next team a great 5 year run as a #1 starter.  I like a rotation of Beckett, Santana, Schilling, Wakefield and Matsuzaka.   Holy Smokes !  Don’t you ?  Schill, sadly, is not expected to be here in 2009.  Send Lester, Buchholz plus two prospects for Santana.  Just lock up Johan for 5 years before the trade gets done.  And if they insist on Ellsbury in a package w Lester and prospects, do it !  Red Sox fans deserve a long, long extension of this heady era of Soxcess, and Santana will help extend it.

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Posted in BASEBALL, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, RED SOX | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

DUSTIN PEDROIA: THOUGH HE BE BUT LITTLE, HE IS FIERCE !

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 13, 2007

That’s the line borrowed from Shakespeare by Red Pollard in the film Seabiscuit, a homage to the competitive heart that shocked the world by beating bigger, stronger and allegedly faster horses.   This sums up how many of us feel about the way Dustin Pedroia handles a large bat while taking a too large swing for his size, which is generously listed at 5’9”.   We Red Sox fans are proud.  We’re bustin’ !

Pedroia doesn’t care that he is thought to be undersized.  He heard it at every level of the minors while hitting .336, .324, and .305 on his way up.   He oozes confidence and has great instincts.  He has proven himself to be a dependable major league second baseman, to be a great team mate and a great glove man.  He made the Sox all-time highlight reel when saving Clay Bucholz’s no-hitter with an impossible turn-and-fire snag behind second to retire a hustling Miguel Tejada.  He only struck out 42 times this year, or once every 12 at bats, compared to once every 9 at bats by a 1939 Sox rookie who also showed great plate discipline —  Theodore Samuel Williams.   Does Dustin belong in Ted’s class ?  Course not.  Ted is Ted.   But there’s something special about a kid that Bill James & Co. say is the most likely active Sox player to get a hit when swinging at a ball outside the strike zone – even better than David Ortiz.   

 Hearty Congrats to Dustin in beating out Hideki Okajima, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joakim Sora, Brian Bannister, Jeremy Guthrie, Reggie Willits, and chief rival for the ROY, Delmon Young.  Dustin, you’ve made us proud, and you will hear from us in April in person, at the old ballfield in Beantown.

Posted in BASEBALL, Dustin Pedroia, RED SOX | Leave a Comment »

MIKE LOWELL: SO LONG, GOOD LUCK, GOD BLESS

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 10, 2007

Nobody barehands a ball and fires from Fenway’s 3rd Base Line better than Mike.  No one since Brooks Robinson.   No one hit in the 5-hole and protected Manny until Mike stepped in.  Nobody in the Sox Clubhouse brought a more balanced sense of self and team.  Nobody came through as often as Mike Lowell.  Lowell was the Sox Most Valuable  position player.  One can’t easily discount Big Papi as the perennial Sox MVP; he beats Lowell in every category but RBI.  But while David is watching tape and contemplating his next bedazzling fashion move, Mike is snagging liners and snapping off rocket-like throws.  He may have err’d in April & May, but he was a Gold Glover from June to October.  AND I AM GOING TO MISS HIM !   Place your 50 cents on Lowell leaving for a 4-year $60 Million contract elsewhere.  Ball Players are as human as you and I.  They’re just thinner and better coordinated.  Imagine yourself with a winning lottery ticket with two convertible options:  Would you really opt for the 3-year $45 Million over a guaranteed $60 Mill ?   Mike is as good as gone.   So get ready for Theo’s next big move:  Subtract Mike Lowell.  Move Youk to Third Base.  At first base place one 32-year old player with a lifetime .306 BA and 518 HR, a guy with 156 RBI, and 54 HR in 2007 with two recent gold gloves at the toughest position in baseball; a guy with Ortiz-like power to hit in the 5-hole.  What a lineup ! — Ellsbury leading off, followed by Pedroia, Ortiz, Manny, A-Rod, Youk, Tek, Drew & Lugo.  Can this lineup run ?  Can it score 900 Runs ?  Can it reduce the AL East competition to rubble ?  Can it make the A-Rod commemorative hand bag the hottest seller at Twins Enterprises on Yawkey Way ? Is your stomach turning ?   Yes, yes, yes, and yes !   Sorry guys & gals.  We’ve tolerated unspeakable pain in the past.  We will adjust.  Good Luck and God Bless, Mike Lowell.  Hello, A-Rod, in the parlance of pirate T-shirt around Fenway, Jeter no longer suck you in a way that calls your manhood into question.

Posted in BASEBALL, Mike Lowell, RED SOX | 3 Comments »

MR. RED SOX THE JOHNNY PESKY STORY

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 4, 2007

 
THE JOHNNY PESKY STORY, MR. RED SOX, By Bill Nowlin. Rounder, Cambridge, Mass. Published in 2004, written by Bill Nowlin, with a posthumous Foreward by Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky’s 277 page story scores a solid B. 

You never forget Johnny Pesky once you’ve met him.  I have a friend who met Johnny in 1975 when he was  a kid in the Babe Ruth league in Pittsfield.  Johnny told the youngster  he would put a scout on him since the Sox were looking for young talent just like him.  That comment could raise a kid’s confidence along with his BA.   

That kid, now an adult, will always love Pesky, which is a common occurence.  You see, Johnny touches people on an emotional level.  No one gets more love when appearing at Fenway.  And no one belonged more on a parade Duck  with the 2007 Champs than Pesky. 

But, this book shares the details of Johnny’s life without charming the reader the same way Pesky charms everyone in real life.  This book is a straight accounting.  Author Bill Nowlin is very good, but he is  no story teller.  (See Tom Adelman.) 

John Paveskovich started from nothing, the son of Croatian immigrants.  His positivism &  grit helped him win the job of clubhouse boy with Portland in the PCL when minor leaguers like Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams came through.  In 1936 Johnny was doing Ted’s laundry in Portland.  Six years later, he was playing with him at Fenway Park.  

Red Sox historians will be pleased with the details of Johnny’s career.  The story of his minor league years fascinates. He shows up to compete with 65 others signed to Rocky Mount of the Piedmont League, each rookie bearing their own gloves, their own shirts and shoes.  They were from the the uncoddled masses, playing in a simpler time in small town America. Then Johnny builds a bridge to his manager, Hall of Famer Heinie Manush and his pro career is launched with a .325 season.    A solid performer, a shining teammate, a vital cog who thus ascends while excelling at every level. 

 Johnny’s life endures like a stone house.  65 years after his Fenway debut, he is still with the Sox, having played the roles of shortstop, third baseman, manager, coach, broadcaster, consultant, icon, and link from the past to present. 

He played with Ted Williams and hit balls to Yaz, Rice, Garciaparra and Ramirez.    His marriage to Ruth Hickey lasted 60 years until her passing in 2005.  He still makes appearances at Fenway and throughout New England.  I met him a year ago and asked him how good he thought  Jonathon Papelbon could be. “As good as Roger Clemens”, he said with a wink.  He told me exactly what I wanted to hear.  And I will always remember him for that.

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS, RED SOX, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

BARRY BONDS: SKIP THE TRIP TO COOPERSTOWN

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 2, 2007

Barry says he won’t come to Cooperstown.  Are you OK with that ?  I am.  But why do so many of us think  that Bonds should be excluded from the Hall despite the transgressions of those already in the Hall ? Babe Ruth was an unreliable,  game-skipping, drinking, smoking, fornicating machine of a man so self-centered & immature he couldn’t remember anyone’s name & thus called everyone “Keed”.   And he’s in.   Ty Cobb was an antisocial, bitter, racist, violent character who went into the stands at the Polo Grounds and beat senseless a cripple he suspected had called him a racial epithet, a nasty name that Ty himself used everyday for others.  And he’s in.   Ban Johnson & JG Taylor Spink conducted their businesses, the American League and The Sporting News respectively, for decades with shamelessly racist and biased designs to keep African Americans out of Baseball until 1947.  And they are in. The Hall of Fame isn’t Disneyland or Kindergarten.  It’s somewhat like a Revival Tent complete with sinners.  So why draw the line at Steroids  ?   Why pick on him ? Sure he chemically altered his body to produce 762 Home Runs instead of about 550.   There is no debate about that once you read GAME OF SHADOWS.   So what if he won’t talk to the media ?  So what if he disassociates himself from his team mates and has a private locker room with throne-like chair ?  Who cares ?  He’s a baseball player.  We don’t have to take him fishing.  He’s not coming over to grill and play jarts.  He’s not getting a Christmas card this year.  And frankly, HE DOESN’T CARE.  He has more money than he’ll ever need.  He has a knack, like Pete Rose, of maintaining an orbit of followers and enablers.   So let’s be at peace with that and move on to the issue at hand:   Keep out anyone who could go in based solely or largely on the abuse of records through the use of steroids.  KEEP BARRY BONDS OUT OF THE HALL OF FAME.  And that’s not all.  KEEP MARK McGWIRE OUT, TOO. Baseball’s long ago track record is indefensible but 50 wrongs do not make a right.  Let’s do the right thing as often as we can going forward and honor the game and it’s fans, the crown jewels of Baseball, the people who come together to enjoy the game & its  history, and the community of Baseball.   Barry has threatened to boycott his assumed induction if the record-breaking ball is now displayed at the Hall with an asterisk.  That is Barry’s right.   Let’s respect his rights.  He’s entitled.  Let’s go further.  Let’s resolve to forgive and support Barry when inevitably the hammer finally falls on him.   His drug dealer is still in jail for refusing to testify to a California Grand Jury.  He has income tax problems.  He will never be inducted into the Hall of Fame.   A career 550 HR hitting, 100-RBI, .320 hitter is going to be barred from the Hall of Fame because he cheated in order to become a 762 HR hitting physical oddity.  He has to live with the legacy of being one of the most disliked & disrespected baseball heroes of all time, right alongside Ty Cobb, for whom there is no legacy of justice and peace.  Leave Barry Bonds alone.  And leave him out of the Hall of Fame.

Posted in Barry Bonds, BASEBALL, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

CURT SCHILLING: FREE AGENT

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 1, 2007

CURT BELONGS IN BOSTON UNTIL HE HANGS IT UP.  He’s a member of the family.  His efforts were historic.  He’s John Wayne.  He’s Tom Seaver.  He’s a Kennedy.  He’s a corner nibblin’, strike throwin’, smooth talkin’ guy in a bloody sock who is always ready with 500 well chosen words.  He’s Jimmy Doolittle sneaking into Tokyo shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He is Harrison Ford’s brainy Professor Jones with a bullwhip handle protruding from his briefcase.  He’s cranial, anal, bold, ballsy, and he backs up his words with action.  He’s also turning 41 this month.  He’s also a shell of his former self in throwing ability.   But there’s a chance he could be an effective 4th starter next year and notch up to 12 wins, although he probably won’t ever start 25 games in a season again.    Father Time is a beezer and the Curt Man will only be pitching as long as his connective tissues are not inflamed.   He’s going somewhere next year where he’ll start, post an ERA around 4.00, almost never issue a walk, and average 5.0 IP per outing.  He’ll make a difference where ever he goes.  He’ll take the heat off his teammates.  He’ll donate his heart and resources to the community.  He’ll teach young pitchers  to study and execute.  He’ll make that team better.  If God is a baseball fan, he might just send Schill to the Cubs, a team that may begin a turnaround as soon as Sam Zell & Tribune sell the team to owners that have a clue.   And then Schill can be Tom Seaver when with Boston in ”86, who helped get those young Sox get to a Series before he lost it suddenly, career over.   Then again, if God is a baseball fan, perhaps her heart will be with the 16,000,000 members of the Nation who want Curt to stay home and foster the development of kids named DelCarmon, Buchholz, Lester, and Papelbon.  Count me among those 16,000,000.  He’s a member of the family.  I want him to stay, but if he goes, I wish him well, and will keep my eye on him.  He may leave us, but he will never be far from our hearts.

Posted in BASEBALL, RED SOX | 3 Comments »