December 9, 2018

How About Enjoying 2019 Before We Start Worrying About 2020?

It's December 9. About six weeks ago, the Red Sox won the 2018 World Series. It was the team's fourth championship in the last 15 seasons. The Red Sox won a record 108 games - and the entire team (almost) is returning next spring. Mookie Betts was nearly the unanimous choice for AL MVP. Nathan Eovaldi re-signed at an extremely reasonable price.

But many members of the Boston sports media believe Red Sox fans should be in a perpetual state of worry and agitation, no matter how or what the team is doing. Read or listen to certain people and you'll be told that the team is relying too heavily on hitting, relying too heavily on pitching, hitting too many home runs, not hitting enough hone runs, scoring runs "the wrong way", beating up on only shitty teams, having just a few hot hitters, etc. Even having everyone on fire is a cause for concern, because that means a big slump is coming very soon.

So what should we be concerned about right now? ... The 2019-2020 off-season!

That's Rob Bradford's take. He also appears to believe the Red Sox are now trailing the Yankees in doing what needs to be done for the future:
See what the Yankees did ...

The challenge for the Red Sox will be to execute what Brian Cashman was able to for the Yankees ...
If you want to worry about the 2020 roster, I won't try to stop you. But keep in mind that pitchers and catchers are still two months away from reporting for 2019!

I'm not claiming that what Bradford is writing about is not real. Obviously, the front office is thinking about these things; they have been thinking about the 2020 team for many years. But I have no say in running the Red Sox and I see no benefit (or point) to worrying about something that may not even be an issue in eight months.

The Gift of 2004 caused me to take a much shorter view of the Red Sox. I'm far less concerned about the team's future than I was back in the dark times. In fact, I don't think "worry" has been a part of my Red Sox vocabulary for quite a while. I'm still enjoying the memories of 2018 and I'm looking forward to more of the same in 2019. I can't see too much further ahead than that.

Except Mookie. Seriously. Do NOT let Mookie go!

December 6, 2018

Red Sox & Nathan Eovaldi Agree On Four-Year Contract

Nathan Eovaldi has agreed on a four-year contract with the Red Sox, worth $67.5 million. Boston was aggressive in bringing Eovaldi - who will turn 29 next February - back for 2019 and beyond. The deal will not be official until the right-hander passes a physical.

Eovaldi did not attend the premier of the Red Sox 2018 World Series highlight video, but he received the loudest cheers. His six innings of relief in Game 3 of the World Series - at 18 innings and seven hours, the longest postseason game of all-time - is one of the most enduring memories from last year's championship. Manager Alex Cora: "Nobody's going to remember who won that game. Everybody's going to remember Nate Eovaldi. That was the moment. When I went home I was like, 'This is it. Now we go.'"

David Price likes this news. ... A healthy Eovaldi at just under $17 per? What's not to like? It's good to also know he can fill in as closer, in necessary.

Chad Jennings (The Athletic) explains why Dave Dombrowski jumped into Free-Agent-Assassin mode: "While the most glaring hole is in the bullpen ... there are plenty of relief options to sort through. Relievers should be easy to find down the road. The rotation market could run dry quickly."

Jon Heyman, FanCred: "Happ is Yankees' next pitching target. They didn't want to go past 3 years on Eovaldi, who is a hero in Boston anyway." ... HA!
Most WAR Since 2013 (Position Players)
Mike Trout        -  53.3
Josh Donaldson    -  37.3
Paul Goldschmidt  -  36.3
Mookie Betts      -  35.2
Trout is on another planet, but please note that Mookie played 0 games in the majors in 2013 and only 54 in 2014. And he missed 26 games last season.

WAR Per 162 Games, Since 2013
Trout        -  9.75
Betts        -  8.85
Donaldson    -  7.61
Goldschmidt  -  6.60

Yankees Stiff Support Staff, Assistant Hitting Coach, Analytics Liaison To The Coaching Staff, Trainers, Clubhouse Attendants, BP Pitchers, Etc. On Postseason Shares

Daily News:
It was widely speculated that David Robertson led an effort to stiff a bunch of Yankee employees.

Now we have the receipts.

The Bronx Bombers turned greedy with their postseason shares, a percentage of playoff ticket sales that are pooled and dispersed to all 10 teams, issuing the least amount of full shares out of any playoff team, according to an MLB press release.

Robertson, now a free agent, served as the club's player rep and was responsible for chairing ... what one source described as a contentious meeting.

The Yankees players' pool came out to $2.866 million, with the value of full shares equaling just over $43,000. The team issued 45 full shares, along with 21.47 partial shares and two cash awards.

Traditionally, full shares are given to all 25 players on the Opening Day roster, the manager and regular coaching staff. Players on the 60-day DL, such as Jacoby Ellsbury, who did not play a single game in 2018, also received a full share. ...

Trainers aren't guaranteed postseason shares, though it's customary for players to give them a healthy piece of the pot as opposed to what these Yankees pulled this time around.

In years past, folks like the team trainer and traveling secretary, for example, received full shares.
Bill Madden, Daily News:
[David] Robertson, who chaired the shares meeting as the Yankee player rep, was the front man for what appears to be a shameful greed on behalf of the other players. It was reported that assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere was voted only a half share and the analytics liaison with the coaching staff [Zac Fieroh], who traveled with the team all season, got nothing. According to sources, Robertson and his co-conspirators cut a wide swath through the entire Yankee support staff, stiffing trainers, clubhouse attendants, BP pitchers and the like. In addition, they also attempted to have the media's pre-game clubhouse access in Boston cut off in a September game because of the cramped conditions in Fenway Park.

Side Point: Why couldn't the creator of this chart line up the monetary amounts on the decimal points? The only reasons I can think of are incompetence or laziness. (I do this kind of thing in my job. It's not difficult.)

Speaking of lazy, MFY manager Aaron Boone said this recently about Manny "Last-Out-Of-The-Red-Sox-World-Series-Clinching-Game-Maker" Machado:
You hope all players all the time run things out, play hard or give it their all. But [it's] not necessarily the No. 1 thing I look at when I am defining whether a player is giving his all or is a gamer. ... There is an expectation that we have ... a certain way you go about things, and running balls out can certainly play into that. Frankly, it is a little bit down the list as far as what I define what makes a player.

December 5, 2018

Michael Wilbon: Dumber Than Dirt (And Unashamed)

Here is some dirt.

I'm willing to bet that dirt knows more about baseball than ESPN's Michael Wilbon.

This story is a few weeks old, but is worth mentioning. After Mets pitcher Jacob de Grom won the NL Cy Young Award (with 29 of 30 first-place votes), Wilbon vented about the baseball establishment on "Pardon the Interruption":
I'm not with these people. I don't respect their judgment, actually, because I don't value what they value. I value winning the damn game more than the ERA. And therefore, it is analytical hijacking. They want to hijack baseball, they want to impose their will and tell you what's important. I don't share most of and maybe none of their values, and it's absurd.
Wilbon was not satirizing older, fuddy-duddy sportswriters who cannot be bothered to learn anything new and pine for the days when Wins and RBI and Batting Average were the cat's pajamas. No, he meant what he said. (Attention-seeking "hot takes" are so important that having everyone ridicule you as a clueless moron is better than being ignored.)

One commenter at that link noted: "Wilbon has been ranting for many, many months about this. Unfortunately for him, de Grom kept pitching so extraordinarily well ... Wilbon boxed himself in so much that could not admit the obvious, so now he's doubling down on his criticism of 'those people.' ... [H]e's so stubborn that he comes across as an ignorant blowhard."

According to SNY: "Back in September when it became apparent de Grom was the frontrunner for the award, Wilbon called it 'garbage' that he was even considered due to his then-losing record."

Wilbon was yelling at clouds in August, as well. This exchange is amazing: "I'm big on wins. ... I don't care what the ERA is. ... Win - The - Damn - Game. [He doesn't get any run support] Okay, you gotta hang tough then. [Hang though?] Yeah, don't allow any. [His ERA is 1.81] I don't care about his ERA. ... There are some nights when you gotta do a better job, when you gotta give up nothing or one because your guys aren't hitting."

Of course, giving up "nothing or one" was pretty much what de Grom did all summer long. He allowed two runs or fewer in 26 of 32 starts. In games in which he allowed NO runs, the Mets went 4-4. I guess de Grom should have been even "tougher" and allowed -1 runs.

Sarah Langs, Twitter (I reorganized her info):
Jacob de Grom: 1.70 ERA, best in MLB. He went 10-9 & Mets were 14-18 in his starts
Lucas Giolito: 6.13 ERA, worst in MLB. He went 10-13 & White Sox were 14-18 in his starts
That's the same number of pitcher wins and same team record... for the best and worst pitchers in MLB.
I was wondering what baseball will do when every single fan watching a game is more enlightened than the announcers, but then I read some of the other comments below that Awful Announcing story and realized that ignorance will never come close to going out of style.

Something I Learned Today: Wilbon believes that ERA - which the National League began officially compiling 107 years ago - is part of the tyrannical analytic movement that is ruining baseball.

December 4, 2018

White House Visit Will Show An Acceptance (Or Tolerance) Of Trump's Callous Inhumanity

Members of the 2018 World Champion Boston Red Sox will travel to the White House next spring, the latest professional sports team to participate in this truly idiotic ceremony, which has always struck me as similar to those moments (in past centuries) when a returning explorer or heroes of a great battle were granted an audience before the king.

One guesstimate of the date of the Red Sox's visit is Thursday, May 9, which is an off-day after a three-game series in Baltimore.

Sam Kennedy, Red Sox President: "We've accepted and we're going to go ... Like in the past, it's an invitation. It's not a mandatory command performance. It's a great opportunity for the players ... to go to the White House and get a behind-the-scenes tour and get the recognition they deserve for a world championship."

Perhaps I'm old and in the way, but I fail to grasp how a visit to the White House will grant the Red Sox players "the recognition they deserve" for winning the World Series. Didn't winning the trophy in front of a world-wide television audience and being written up in newspapers and magazines and websites and having a huge parade through the streets of Boston, and receiving generous World Series shares and World Series rings give them the proper "recognition"? Do they really need to be thanked or congratulated or blessed or knighted by a racist blowhard moron to feel they are truly the champions of baseball?

Manager Alex Cora has criticized Donald Trump in the past:
I'm going to use my platform that right way. I'm not going to embarrass anybody. Actually, I'm going to represent probably four million people from back home the right way when we go there.
Right after Boston beat the Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series, Peter Dreier and Kelly Candaele of The Nation wrote that the Red Sox should stay far away from the White House:
Do the Red Sox want to allow Trump—whose presidency is rooted in appeals to racism, sexism, and immigrant bashing—to bask in the glow of their victory?

Does it really make sense for the Red Sox—who this year had nine players from five different countries (Hector Velázquez from Mexico, Eduardo Rodríguez, William Cuevas, and Sandy León from Venezuela, Xander Bogaerts from Aruba, Eduardo Núñez and Rafael Devers from the Dominican Republic, and Tzu Wei-Lin from Taiwan) as well as four African Americans (David Price, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brandon Phillips), two American-born Latinos (J.D. Martinez and Christian Vázquez), and one Jew (Ian Kinsler) on their 40-man roster—to ask those players to ignore Trump's divisive comments and policies that degrade immigrants, people of color, and Jews?
Red Sox management may try to distance itself from Trump's inhumane policies, but accepting this invitation and then meeting and posing for pictures with him constitutes a measure of acceptance or tolerance of (or agreement with) what he has done during his time in the White House. Despite the team's possible denials, the Red Sox's participation in the ceremony will represent a stamp of validity for what Trump has done.