January 30, 2013

Schadenfreude 151 (A Continuing Series)

Miami New Times: A Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports' Biggest Names
Open the neat spreadsheet and scroll past the listing of local developers, prominent attorneys, and personal trainers. You'll find a lengthy list of nicknames: Mostro, Al Capone, El Cacique, Samurai, Yukon, Mohamad, Felix Cat, and D.R.

Then check out the main column, where their real names flash like an all-star roster of professional athletes with Miami ties: San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland A's hurler Bartolo Colón, pro tennis player Wayne Odesnik, budding Cuban superstar boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz. There's even the New York Yankees' $275 million man himself, Alex Rodriguez, who has sworn he stopped juicing a decade ago.

Read further and you'll find more than a dozen other baseball pros, from former University of Miami ace Cesar Carrillo to Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal to Washington Nationals star Gio Gonzalez. Notable coaches are there too, including UM baseball conditioning guru Jimmy Goins.

The names are all included in an extraordinary batch of records from Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic tucked into a two-story office building just a hard line drive's distance from the UM campus. They were given to New Times by an employee who worked at Biogenesis before it closed last month and its owner abruptly disappeared. The records are clear in describing the firm's real business: selling performance-enhancing drugs, from human growth hormone (HGH) to testosterone to anabolic steroids.
Miami New Times: The A-Rod Files: Every Mention of the Yankees Slugger in Tony Bosch's Records

New York Daily News: Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Gio Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz among baseball stars linked to Miami ‘biochemist’ Anthony Bosch who is target of drug probe by DEA, MLB

Joel Sherman, Post: Yanks hope latest A-Rod drug link provides contract escape

New York Daily News: NY Yankees unlikely to get out of Alex Rodriguez's contract even if MLB hands down punishment for latest steroid scandal

Mike Lupica, Daily News: If MLB is going to clean up its sport, the government has to go after Anthony Bosch, his clinic and his 'patients' - including the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez

Bill Madden, Daily News: Guilty or not, Alex Rodriguez has worn out his welcome with NY Yankees and MLB with newest steroid allegations

January 29, 2013

The Fellowship Of The Miserable

Alan Seigel, Boston Magazine:
In journalism, it's worth noting, there's nothing more embarrassing than having a reporter from the outside come in and break news on your turf. ...

The Boston sports media, once considered one of the country's best and most influential press corps, is stumbling toward irrelevance. The national media not only seems to break more big Boston sports stories than the local press, but also often features more sophisticated analysis, especially when it comes to using advanced statistics. To put it bluntly, "The Lodge" — as Fred Toucher, cohost of the 98.5 The Sports Hub morning radio show, mockingly refers to the city's clubby, self-important media establishment — is clogged with stale reporters, crotchety columnists, and shameless blowhards. ... And we haven't even gotten to Dan Shaughnessy yet. ...

In a landscape where being loud and controversial is valued over being smart and insightful — and over doing the difficult work of investigative reporting — it's no surprise that the Boston sports media keeps getting beat on genuinely important news, like [Yahoo!'s Jeff] Passan's story [last July] about the Red Sox players meeting with ownership. ...

The message to the Lodge is clear: Change, or die the death of utter irrelevance.
A must read.

Seigel names some good Boston writers, including WEEI.com's Alex Speier, who has continued to do extensive and highly relevant writing this winter. Seigel calls him "one of the city's few inventive sportswriters", someone "who specializes in incorporating advanced stats into articles meant for the average fan".

If the Globe, Herald, and ProJo disappeared tomorrow, my following of the Red Sox would barely miss a beat. Give me MLB.com, WEEI.com, ESPNBoston, and SoSH, and I'd be set.

January 26, 2013

Four Red Sox On Provisional WBC Rosters

Four Red Sox players are slated to play in this spring's World Baseball Classic:
Shane Victorino    - USA
Alfredo Aceves     - USA Mexico
Xander Bogaerts    - Netherlands
Jose De La Torre   - Puerto Rico
Sox Prospects:
Bogaerts is part of a stacked infield for the Netherlands, which also features shortstops Jurickson Profar of the Texas Rangers and Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta Braves. This means he is likely to play a position other than shortstop in the tournament, with early signs pointing to third base. Bogaerts, who also reportedly received a non-roster invitation to major league camp today, will report to Fort Myers by February 13 and then leave to join the Dutch National Team before pool play starts on March 2.
The WBC will run from March 2-19. Go Canada!

January 24, 2013

Pedro Rejoins Red Sox As Special Assistant To GM

UPDATE: Pedro talks to the press!


Pedro Martinez has taken a job as a special assistant to General Manager Ben Cherington.

I am thrilled to be returning to this organization and to the city I love. Ben Cherington's meetings this week have been outstanding. It is an honor to be back with the Red Sox and help in any way I can. I am grateful to our leaders; I believe in them, and I thank them for allowing me to return to the field and help us win again. My heart will always live in Boston.
We are very excited to have Pedro onboard with us and back in the Red Sox organization. He was one of the game's most dominant pitchers and without a doubt a beloved figure in Red Sox history. Similar to former teammate Jason Varitek, who joined the baseball operations staff in September, Pedro will be involved in several areas, including the evaluation, mentorship, and instruction of young players in spring training and throughout the season.
Besides working with Boston's young pitchers and doing some scouting in the Dominican Republic, Pedro will also be in charge of keeping Don Zimmer a safe distance from Fenway Park.

Cherington: "We're A Strong, Deep Team"

GM Ben Cherington:
I think a lot of our heavy lifting is done ... [W]e've added strength to a lot of different areas to the roster, a lot of areas we had holes in, I think in aggregate we feel pretty good that we're a strong, deep team with a chance to be deep in a lot of areas to match up with anyone. We think this is a team that will be very competitive, going to contend and match up with any team in the AL East.
Matt Sullivan (OtM) looks at the "melee" in the Red Sox's division:
From the top to the bottom of the division, every team in the AL East can justify the idea that they are a contender in 2013.
Mike Napoli has avascular necrosis in both hips, but says he'll be fine by Opening Day, April 1. ... Daniel Bard is feeling good. ... Manager John Farrell has been travelling around the country, meeting with various Sox pitchers, like Bard, John Lackey, and Felix Doubront.

Terry Francona was on The Big Show yesterday. Alex Speier has a wrap-up. Speier also wrote a lengthy column/review on/of Francona's book.

January 22, 2013

Ten Years Ago, Red Sox Signed Ortiz

On January 22, 2003, the Red Sox signed former Twins designated hitter David Ortiz. Chris Jaffe (The Hardball Times) has a look at the signing.

Francona: The Red Sox Years is on book store shelves today. The Globe's Chad Finn has a review.

Brendan O'Toole (Over The Monster) asks: "With myths shattering all throughout the sports world, is there any role left for mythmaking in baseball?"

Truck Day is February 5. Two weeks!

January 20, 2013

RIP: Earl Weaver And Stan Musial

Earl Weaver (82) and Stan Musial (92) have died.

This was staged, but it's pure Weaver - who hated wasting outs (naughty language galore):

And an argument (some fuckin swearing in this one, too):

Weaver: "This ain't football. We do this every day."

January 19, 2013

Seven Sox Avoid Arbitration, Ink Deals for 2013

The Red Sox came to terms with seven arbitration-eligible players yesterday.
                  2013 Salary
Jacoby Ellsbury    9,000,000
Joel Hanrahan      7,040,000
Andrew Bailey      4,100,000
Alfredo Aceves     2,650,000
Daniel Bard        1,862,500
Franklin Morales   1,487,500
Andrew Miller      1,475,000
The team has also signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a $4.5 million contract for 2013.

Craig Breslow is the only remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player.

January 17, 2013

Red Sox And Napoli Finally Agree On Contract: 1/5, With Incentives

Rob Bradford, WEEI:
According to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox and Mike Napoli have reached an agreement on a one-year deal. (UPDATED: According to another major league source, the deal is for one year with Napoli getting a $5 million guarantee. The deal includes incentives that could increase the value of the contract back to roughly $13 million if Napoli does not spend any time on the disabled list due to a hip injury. The contract is strictly a one-year deal — it does not include any team, vesting or mutual options.)

The two sides had been renegotiating an agreed upon three-year, $39 million contract since concerns arose regarding the free agent first baseman’s hip after a team-administered physical on Dec. 10. The original deal was agreed upon on Dec. 3.
Nice work by Ben Cherington on this one. (WEEI's Alex Speier on what it all means.)

The Red Sox also signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million. Salty earned $2.5 million last year.

January 15, 2013

Francona Hits Back At Sox Owners - Book Excerpts

Sports Illustrated will be (or already is) is running an excerpt from Terry Francona's book Francona: The Red Sox Years (written with Dan Shaughnessy). In the article - "Too Big to Succeed" - Tito faults the current Red Sox ownership group for spending too much time on the team's public image.
Our owners in Boston, they've been owners for 10 years. They come in with all these ideas about baseball, but I don't think they love baseball. I think they like baseball. It's revenue, and I know that's their right and their interest because they're owners — and they're good owners. But they don't love the game. It's still more of a toy or a hobby for them. It's not their blood. They're going to come in and out of baseball. It's different for me. Baseball is my life.
Theo Epstein is quoted as saying:
They told us we didn't have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle. We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We'd become too big. It was the farthest thing from what we set out to be. [That] was evidence to me of the inherent tension between building a baseball operation the way I thought was best and the realities of being in a big market ... which had gotten bigger than any of us could handle.
During one meeting, Tom Werner
talked about slumping television ratings and whined, "We need to start winning in more exciting fashion."
One thing the players were always asking for was getaway day games. The owners would never go for it. They couldn't have more day games because the ratings were already suffering, and that would have hurt worse.

January 13, 2013

HoF Cheaters, Mayor Canseco?, Sox Links

Bryan Grosnick, Beyond the Box Score, January 9, 2013:
When a player uses a substance banned by Major League Baseball, they immediately get labeled a "cheater", someone who breaks the rules of the game in order to give themselves or their team an unfair advantage. But many players have done this over their careers ... many of whom are in the Hall of Fame. By their own admission, both Hank Aaron and Mike Schmidt have used "greenies" ... amphetamines that are considered performance-enhancing drugs. Players like Gaylord Perry threw spitballs, a pitch deemed illegal by the rules of the game.

These players don't seem to be considered with the same type of venom as Bonds and Clemens, both of whom will likely not reach the Hall this year. But aren't these players, by definition of the term, "cheaters" as well?

What makes a player a "cheater?"
Rob Neyer, SB Nation, January 8, 2013:
I have another, bigger issue with Verducci's argument. While he seems to acknowledge that amphetamines and spitballs constituted cheating, just like steroids, he seems to consider the latter far worse because of its impact. Why does the impact matter. I'm trying to imagine a player's thoughts here ... "Gosh, those amphetamines seemed to help a little, so even though it's cheating I think they're okay to use. But golly, these steroids everybody's talking about ... I'd better not mess with those, because they seem to help a LOT."

That just defies everything we know about human nature and, specifically, the nature of world-class athletes. If there's a small advantage to be taken, big-time athletes will take it. If there's a larger advantage to be taken, they'll take that. ... [T]he notion that baseball before steroids was a pure game, a fair game, is (to use one of Verducci's words) a canard.
Michael MacDonald and Colin MacDonald, Beyond the Box Score, January 10, 2013:
Bonds did not set the rules. He played within rules that were set, implicitly and tacitly, by the guardians of the game.

The purpose of rules is to establish and enforce level playing field. But if rules are written but are not enforced, like when umpires call a letter high pitch a ball, they are not real rules. Players must adjust to the game as it is called. When baseball celebrated the 1989 A's without reservation, when it glorified McGwire and Sosa, and when insiders chose not to see evidence that would dash their illusions, they sent a clear message to Bonds and those who came late to steroids.

Sadly, Jose Canseco will not (cannot, actually) run against the proudly ignorant right-wing bully/buffoon/world-class asshole Rob Ford in Toronto's mayoral by-election:
I do want to run. It's a good cause and I know I can do well. But I am not a citizen so it's a moot point. Unless the rules are different.
The rules are not different.


Alex Speier, WEEI: "Pipeline Overfloweth? Why Outlook For Red Sox Pitching Prospects Is Promising"

Gordon Edes ESPNBoston: Sox Prospect Bradley Full Of Promise

Mike Andrews has the projected 2013 lineups for Pawtucket, Portland, Salem, and Greenville.

January 6, 2013

An Observation

If I was in the market for a Red Sox shirt, I'd snap up a Francona jersey if I saw one.

An neat observation: Tito wore #47 and he helped bring us World Series championships in 2004 and 2007!