February 27, 2013

Middlebrooks Leaves Game With Injury: "Right Wrist Soreness"

Will Middlebrooks injured himself on a check swing in the first inning of Wednesday night's game against the Orioles, and left the game.

There was some worry that he had suffered a serious injury, but according to tweets from several beat writers, this was nothing but a "scare". X-rays were negative - "right wrist soreness" is what the Red Sox described it as - and Middlebrooks thinks he can take batting practice tomorrow.

February 26, 2013

That Makes One Of You

Bobby Valentine:
I thought I did a hell of a job in Boston.
Well, two of you. Nick Cafardo still thinks you walk on water.

SoSH Chat: WEEI's Alex Speier

Alex Speier (WEEI) answered questions in a SoSH chat today. Excellent stuff. Here's a few bits:
I actually think the Sox' rotation depth could be pretty good - unproven, but impressive. Morales was filthy as a starter last year, and I like using any potential injuries/underperformances of the slated five to see what some of the prospects can do: Wright, Webster, De La Rosa all have upside that can impact the org for the long haul. I'd say that the Sox' depth of starters with major league-ready stuff might be better than anyone's but Tampa Bay's. ...

[I]t's hard to imagine that without a singularly dominant spring that Bard will be in position to open the year in the big leagues. I think, given the depth of his struggles last year and the wait for his return to high-90s velo, the team will proceed with caution and make him prove that he's ready to dominate. Think Buchholz in 2009. ...

I do think Farrell will encourage an aggressive baserunning style. With Ellsbury, Victorino, Pedroia, they have the components to do some things on the bases. ...

Napoli was an overpay initially who now could be a real bargain. Drew, I think, has the best chance to be a steal given his skill level relative to the class of average SSs. Dempster seemed like very fair value to me. Victorino and Gomes were certainly both top-of-the-market signings, though in the case of both, neither prevented the Sox from doing anything else ... [W]hile Gomes was an overpay, he was less of one than Cody Ross ended up being for the D-backs. In other words, I'd take Gomes at 2/$10M over Ross at 3/$26.5M - no-brainer to me.

I think that Bradley will follow a player development path similar to the one that Ellsbury followed. He's so advanced despite relative professional inexperience that I'd guess he starts contributing at the big league level by the middle of this year. ... Ceiling? That's a tough one. Gold Glove defense, and - again, emphasizing ceiling - a guy who can put up .380-.400 OBPs for a few years while being an above-average baserunner (thanks to amazing instincts - though he's not a burner) with perhaps 10-12 homers.

Bradley May Earn Promotion; Aceves Shows Team Spirit

Jackie Bradley might start the season with Pawtucket. ... Gordon Edes says Alfredo Aceves is showing team spirit. ... Tim Wakefield is in camp, working with knuckleballer Steven Wright. ... 2007 WS MVP Mike Lowell is also in Sox camp, working with some infielders.

Mike Napoli will take live batting practice off Clay Buchholz today and is penciled in to play on Friday. ... Buchholz plans on pitching two innings against the Twins on Saturday. ... Felix Doubront will make his spring debut on on Monday against Tampa Bay. ... Daniel Bard feels good about his fastball. ... Dustin Pedroia says his right thumb is as good as new. ... Who is Allen Webster?

Joe Posnanski is now at NBC Sports and his debut column was a look at the rise and fall of Alex Rodriguez. There is not a lot of analysis there, but it is still pretty interesting. ... Since last July, former Boston 1B Lars Anderson has been a member of the Red Sox, Cleveland, Diamondbacks, White Sox, and Blue Jays.

February 25, 2013

Schadenfreude 152 (A Continuing Series)

Bill Madden, Daily News:
Only five batters into the second exhibition game of the spring and suddenly all the fear and trepidation of this forthcoming Yankee season was realized: Bronx Bombers to Bronx Bummers.

As Curtis Granderson trotted down to first base in the first inning of Sunday's Steinbrenner Field opener against the Blue Jays, rubbing his right forearm that had just been hit by a J.A. Happ fastball, the Yankee high command, already holding its breath over a breakdown by any of the many over-38 geezers they're counting on to play critical roles for them this year, braced for the worst.

A short while later the brass got it: The forearm was broken, Granderson will be out a minimum of 10 weeks ...

You're now looking at a team that could be hard-pressed to hit 150 homers and, as an ominous point of reference, the last time the Yankees hit under 150 in an uninterrupted full season was during the doldrums years, 1988-91.

February 24, 2013

Lester Pitches Two Perfect Innings; Rubby Hits 100

Good news from Jupiter: Jon Lester threw 24 pitches over two innings and retired all six Cardinal batters he faced. John Farrell says Lester has made "some tangible adjustments" this spring.

Rubby De La Rosa hit 100 mph with a few of his pitches in the same game. Sounds like he threw a 3-pitch ninth inning!

Also: Pedro Martinez Embraces Role As Red Sox Special Assistant, by Amalie Benjamin

February 23, 2013

Yankees: We Are Evil

Wall Street Journal:
A panel of trademark judges in Washington, D.C., earlier this month denied a request from a private entrepreneur, known as Evil Enterprises, Inc., to register the trademark for the phrase "Baseballs Evil Empire."

Evil Enterprises wanted the exclusive right to market merchandise using that phrase, which was coined in regard to the Yankees by Larry Lucchino, the president and chief executive of the Boston Red Sox, back in 2002. ...

But the Yankees objected, arguing that they had the rights to the phrase — at least when used in connection with baseball.
New York Daily News:
"The record shows that there is only one EVIL EMPIRE in baseball and it is the New York Yankees," the judges wrote in their decision earlier this month. ...

Judges said allowing the company to use the phrase would also cause confusion for customers who mistakenly think the merchandise was endorsed by the Yankees.

February 21, 2013

Links 'N Such

Daniel Bard pitched one inning against Northeastern yesterday afternoon, and struck out three batters. The Red Sox beat Northeastern 3-0 and dispatched Boston College 11-1.

On the first day the 2013 Red Sox played a baseball game, NESN (surprise!) dropped the ball. Yes, the games were against college teams, but that still beats the hell out of whatever the fuck "off-brand poker" is.

Gordon Edes offers some perspective on shortstop Jose Iglesias.

Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports: "Big Papi Takes Swings At Rekindling Idiots Era Magic, Sabermetrics And Retirement"

Pat Jordan, SB Nation: The Pain And Pleasure Of Spring: How I Lost My Fastball But Learned To Love Spring Training

Jonathan Bernhardt, Sports On Earth: No Relief In Sight. Bernhardt damages his journalistic credibility when he calls Alfredi Aceves "a good value that the already light Boston bullpen can't afford to lose". Our 'pen ain't light.

SB Nation's Grant Brisbee ranks 109 off-season moves. Because, why not? (The Mike Napoli and Koji Uehara signings are #s 17 and 19, respectively.)

Robert J. Baumann, Fangraphs: Another Reason Why Rickey Is The Greatest

Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey tells the story of his journey (with his two young daughters) to Mumbai, India, to work with Bombay Teen Challenge, a charity trying to save women and children from the scourge of human sex trafficking.

Fellow Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle will spend the summer away from his family, because Ontario's idiotic breed-specific laws will not allow his entire family (which includes Slater, a handsome mix of bulldog and American Staffordshire Terrier (pictured above)) to live in the province.

Pedro says 90% of his HBP were on purpose. (That would be 127 out of 141.)

Lineups For Today's College Doubleheader

Here are the lineups for today's doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College:

vs Northeastern
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Shane Victorino, RF
Jonny Gomes, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, DH
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
Lyle Overbay, 1B
David Ross, C

vs Boston College
Justin Henry, RF
Brock Holt, SS
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Mauro Gomez, 1B
Jeremy Hazelbaker, LF
Xander Bogaerts, 3B
Jonathan Diaz, 2B
Daniel Butler, C
David Renfroe, DH

The first game starts at 1:30. However, there is no radio or television coverage.

Check out this excellent overview of Xander Bogaerts's career to date. ... Two articles about Jason Varitek's new role.

February 20, 2013

Cherington Catches A Carp

The Red Sox have acquired Mike Carp, who had been designated for assignment by the Mariners about a week ago.

Carp, 26, is a left-handed hitter who can play both first base and left field, and represents a better bench option than Lyle Overbay. After a strong 2011 season (.276/.326/.466), Carp slumped in 2012: .213/.312/.341 in 59 games.

Ryan Kalish was moved to the 60-day DL to make room for Carp.

February 19, 2013

Games! And Pitchers!

Here are the Red Sox's pitching assignments for the first few days of spring games:

Thursday vs Northeastern: Joel Hanrahan, Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller, Alex Wilson, Clayton Mortensen, Pedro Beato, Anthony Carter

Thursday vs Boston College: Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey, Oscar Villareal, Terry Doyle, Jose De La Torre, Junichi Tazawa

Saturday vs Rays: John Lackey (one inning or 20 pitches), Drake Britton, Pedro Beato, Anthony Carter, Jose De La Torre, Oscar Villareal, Alex Wilson, Steven Wright

Sunday at Cardinals: Jon Lester (two innings or 35 pitches), Rubby De La Rosa, Junichi Tazawa, Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller, Koji Uehara

Monday at Blue Jays: Steven Wright, Allen Webster, Terry Doyle, Jose De La Torre, Pedro Beato, Chris Carpenter, Anthony Carter

Monday at Rays: Alfredo Aceves (two innings or 35 pitches), Chris Hernandez (two innings or 35 pitches), Daniel Bard, Clayton Mortensen, Oscar Villareal and Alex Wilson

Peter Abraham says if you "extrapolate the schedule out to Opening Day, Lester would start against the Yankees" on April 1.

February 18, 2013

Notes From Fort Myers

John Lackey threw his first live BP session of the spring yesterday and Farrell liked what he saw. ... Clay Buchholz (right hamstring) will throw a bullpen session today. ... Centerfielder Jackie Bradley loves power shagging. ... Joel Hanrahan and Shane Victorino were minor league roommates in 2004.

Felix Doubront needs to pay more attention to his conditioning. ... Daniel Bard feels confident and looks good on the mound. ... Tim Wakefield will be in camp next week to work with knuckleballer Steven Wright.

Alfredo Aceves is already giving John Farrell a headache. ... Rob Bradford looks at why Aceves is still with the team.

The Red Sox play their annual doubleheader against Northeastern and Boston College on Thursday. Farrell said he will use 14 relief pitchers for one inning each.

February 16, 2013

Farrell Drops Lineup Hints

The players held their first full-team workout yesterday, but someone has already asked manager John Farrell about the possible batting order, specifically the No. 3 spot:
If I was to sketch something out, it would be David against right-handers and it might be Pedroia against left-handers. That way it puts Victorino in the 2-hole against some left-handed pitching to take advantage of his splits. The guy that obviously has a lot of production against lefties is Gomes as well. There's thought and variations to it, but that's one of them.

February 15, 2013

Speier: The Blueprint For The Next Great Red Sox Team

Just a retweet (of sorts) of a lengthy must-read article from WEEI's Alex Speier.
The Blueprint: Defining The Path To The "Next Great Red Sox Team"

Tuesday represents a sort of day of baseball renewal, the first official workout of the spring for pitchers and catchers. The guiding mission of the players who will take part in it and the organization they represent now is straightforward: Build the next great Red Sox team.

But what does that mean? What are the on-field implications of such a lofty ambition, and what was the process that led the team not only to establish that goal but also to define it?
Kevin Youkilis, February 14:
To negate all the years I played for the Boston Red Sox and all the tradition, you look at all the stuff I have piled up at my house, to say I'd just throw it out the window, that's not true. I'll always be a Red Sock.
Kevin Youkilis, February 15:
I was talking about just the history of who I am. I went to (the University of Cincinnati), so I'm a Bearcat. I'm a White Sock for life and after this year, I'll be a Yankee for life. ... Chicago weakened me. I've got to watch what I say ... I'm excited to put on the pinstripes - the full pinstripes - and be a part of it.

February 13, 2013

Who Is Held In Higher Regard By Ownership: Francona Or Valentine?

Nick Cafardo, Globe, February 11:
[W]e wondered, of the two deposed managers — Terry Francona and Bobby Valentine — which one is held in higher regard by Henry and the Sox owners?

Francona, who managed two championship teams, albeit with great talent, or Valentine, who had a record number of injuries and chaos during his year at the helm?
Nick thinks it's Valentine.

I'm not kidding. He really does. Here's the link.

February 12, 2013

Ortiz Takes Some Swings

WEEI has video of David Ortiz's first swings in the cage today. It's worth just listening to for the wonderful thwack of bat meeting ball. Ortiz - who suffered a right Achilles tendon injury last summer - says he is "at about 90%".

Dustin Pedroia insists that the blame for 2012 lies with the players and not ex-manager Bobby Valentine's fault. He also looks forward to playing with Stephen Drew. ... John Henry expressed optimism about the upcoming season. ... John Farrell wants this year's team to be "relentless".

Jon Lester is impressed by the slimmer John Lackey. ... Felix Doubront and Craig Breslow have some shoulder discomfort. ... Clay Buchholz suffered a mild hamstring strain doing some fielding drills today.

February 11, 2013

Comings And Goings

You can't tell the new players (and coaching staff) without a scorecard.

John Farrell — Manager
Greg Colbrunn — Hitting Coach
Victor Rodriguez — Assistant Hitting Coach
Juan Nieves — Pitching Coach
Arnie Beyeler — First Base Coach
Brian Butterfield — Third Base Coach / Infield Coach
Torey Lovullo — Bench Coach
Ryan Dempster - signed 2/26.5 free agent contract (2012: Cubs/Rangers)
Joel Hanrahan - obtained in trade with Pirates (2012: Pirates)
Koji Uehara - signed a one-year contract (2012: Rangers)
David Ross - signed 2/6.2 free agent contract (2012: Atlanta)
Mike Napoli - signed 1/5 free agent contract (2012: Rangers)
Stephen Drew - signed 1/9.5 free agent contract (2012: Diamondbacks/A's)
Lyle Overbay - signed minor league contract (2012: Diamondbacks/Atlanta)
Brock Holt - obtained in Hanrahan trade with Pirates (2012: Pirates)
Jonny Gomes - signed 2/10 free agent contract (2012: A's)
Shane Victorino - signed 3/39 free agent contract (2012: Phillies/Dodgers)
Which Way Did He Go?
Cody Ross - Diamondbacks (signed 3/26 free agent contract)
James Loney - Rays (signed 1/2 free agent contract)
Aaron Cook - Phillies (signed free agent contract)
Scott Atchison - Mets (signed minor league contract)
Rich Hill - Cleveland (signed minor league contract)
Daisuke Matsuzaka - Cleveland (signed minor league contract)
Mark Melancon - Pirates (part of Joel Hanrahan trade)
Vicente Padilla - Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (Nippon Professional Baseball League)
Scott Podsednik - unsigned free agent
Mike Aviles and Matt Albers are playing for Terry Francona in Cleveland

February 8, 2013

Three Main Pre-Season Magazines: Red Sox Will Finish Last Again

The three main pre-season magazines - The Sporting News, Lindy's, and Athlon - are on the newsstand and all three publications pick the Red Sox to finish in last place for the second straight season.

The Sporting News

AL East
Blue Jays
Red Sox

Pithy Red Sox Comment: "They spent a ton of money, but it remains to be seen whether it was spent wisely."

ALC - Tigers
ALW - Angels
ALWC - A's over Blue Jays
NLWC - Giants over Reds
ALDS - Tigers over Yankees; Angels over A's
NLDS - Nationals over Giants; Dodgers over Cardinals
ALCS - Angels over Tigers
NLCS - Nationals over Dodgers
WS - Angels over Nationals

AL East
Blue Jays
Red Sox

Pithy Red Sox Comment: "No real stars among the seven newcomers, but solid additions, and they should help fumigate the clubhouse. It will help if Jon Lester remembers how to pitch and John Lackey can bounce back. Look for a big year from Jacoby Ellsbury."

ALC - Tigers
ALW - Angels
ALWC - Yankees, Rangers
NLE - Nationals
NLC - Reds
NLW - Dodgers
NLWC - Atlanta, Giants
AL Champions - Blue Jays
NL Champions - Nationals

AL East
Blue Jays
Red Sox

Pithy Red Sox Comment: "The Red Sox need so much to break right to contend in the AL East. ... In reality, this is Year 1 of a lengthy rebuild, and even though the Red Sox hope and expect to remain competitive, it's probably going to be another season or two before they restore their status as legitimate contenders."

ALC - Tigers
ALW - Angels
ALWC - Rays, Rangers
NLE - Nationals
NLC - Reds
NLW - Giants
NLWC - Cardinals, Dodgers
ALCS - Tigers over Angels
NLCS - Nationals over Giants
WS - Tigers over Nationals
USAToday Sports (Paul White)

AL East
Blue Jays (88 wins)
Red Sox (87)
Rays (87)
Yankees (83)
Orioles (79)

ALC - Tigers (94)
ALW - Angels (95)
ALWC - White Sox, A's
NLE - Nationals (102)
NLC - Reds (89)
NLW - Giants (93)
WS - Tigers over Nationals

Like White, none of the magazine's other seven writers picked the Red Sox for the East or for one of the two wild cards.

February 7, 2013

1952-53: When Red Sox Pitchers Didn't Bat Ninth

In 1952 and 1953, Red Sox manager Lou Boudreau experimented in a handful of games by moving his pitcher out of the ninth spot in the Boston batting order. In 14 of 18 games, the Red Sox pitcher batted sixth:
1952            Pitcher             BOP
April 15        Mel Parnell         7th
May 10          Mickey McDermott    8th
May 11          Mel Parnell         8th
July 27   (G2)  Willard Nixon       6th
July 30         Dick Brodowski      6th
July 31         Ralph Brickner      6th
August 7  (G2)  Willard Nixon       6th
August 9        Mel Parnell         6th
August 11       Sid Hudson          6th
1953            Pitcher             BOP
May 30    (G1)  Mickey McDermott    6th
May 30    (G2)  Willard Nixon       6th
August 22       Mickey McDermott    6th
August 23       Mel Parnell         6th
August 28       Bill Henry          6th
August 29       Mel Parnell         6th
August 30 (G1)  Hal Brown           7th
August 31       Mickey McDermott    6th
September 1     Willard Nixon       6th
The main pitchers were Parnell (5 times), Nixon (4), and McDermott (4). Brodowski, Brickner, Hudson, Henry, and Brown each did it once.

Those 18 games are the only times in Red Sox history - since Babe Ruth batted in the cleanup spot in 1919 - that a Boston pitcher has hit any place other than ninth. ...

During spring training in 1952, Austen Lake of the Boston Evening American wrote that Boudreau "has a high brain polish and the ability to improvise". Lake said that Boudreau's "elastic mind" allows him to "mak[e] the best use of the materials at hand" rather than resorting to "the mouldy orthodoxies" of the game.

The Sporting News agreed, noting that "Boston's young, resourceful manager is no slavish follower of the so-called 'book'. He does his own thinking. He doesn't let Abner Doubleday do it for him."
You can read the rest of my article at The Hardball Times.

February 6, 2013

Lackey: "I'm Going To Pitch Well"

A slimmer John Lackey - now healed from TJ surgery - says his right shoulder had not been well for three seasons, and he vows to have a good season in 2013.
It's fresh for me again. It's a restart in a lot of ways for the team and for myself. There's time to change things. That's a challenge and I like a challenge.
David Ortiz may not be fully recovered from an injured right Achilles tendon, but he says he will be ready for Opening Day against the Yankees.
I'm able to do the agility drills without any pain, which I wasn't able to do before, so that's a good thing. When I was injured those used to cause me a lot of pain, and I don't have any pain when I do them now.
GM Ben Cherington said Ortiz is on schedule and the club has no concerns about his health. ... The Red Sox named Dana Levangie as their bullpen coach. ... MLB.com has a look at top prospects Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.

A Handful Of Tracers from Francona

Reading Francona, I thought I would give some of the accounts of Terry Francona's playing days the "Tracer" treatment.

In Bill James's Abstracts from the 1980s, Rob Neyer (who then worked as James's assistant) would note a story from a player's biography or Baseball Digest and attempt to track down the details of the tale. Neyer called his reports "tracers". Since Dan Shaughnessy, Francona's co-author, acknowledged that "Books like this are impossible to write today without a website like baseball-reference.com", I was curious how the various stories checked out.

(Note: My noting of any inaccuracies in the following remembrances is not meant as a criticism of the book. I am enjoying the book, and I fully expect to enjoy the entire book, especially the 2004 section. Consider this post an exercise in picking nits.)

A couple of days later [after his big league debut], Little Tito led off, went 0-5, and got thrown out at the plate in a 1-0 loss. (page 25)

Francona made his debut with the Expos on April 19, 1981 in Houston and Shaughnessy gets the details of Tito's pinch-hit appearance correct (he grounded out to first). The game in question here happened in Atlanta on April 23, four days later. Francona did lead off and he did get thrown out at the plate. But he went 0-4 (he had five plate appearances) and Montreal lost the game by a 2-1 score.

In parts of ten seasons in major league baseball, he hit .274 with 16 homers and 143 RBI, playing 708 big league games for the Expos, Cubs, White Sox, Indians, and Brewers. (page 26)

All of the numbers are correct, but Francona never played for the White Sox. He did, however, play 102 games for the Cincinnati Reds.

"There's one other stat that nobody knows about," said Dustin Pedroia . . . "He is the only player with a minimum of 1,000 plate appearances to never work an 0-2 walk. How awesome is that? He had no fight in him. None! That's unbelievable." (page 26)

I don't know if Francona is the only player to do so, but it's true. He did not draw a walk in any of the 72 plate appearances in which he fell behind in the count 0-2. If Pedroia loved that factoid, he'd be ecstatic to know that Francona also never worked a walk after a 0-1 count (which happened 196 times)! As Shaughnessy notes, "He swung at almost everything."

"When I got to the dugout [on his first trip to Fenway Park] and looked out and saw the park, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I hit against Mike Boddicker in that series. And against Roger Clemens. I pinch-hit, and I fouled off a ton of balls. He finally got tired of it and threw one about 100 miles an hour, and I struck out." (page 27)

Francona was with Cleveland in 1988, and visited Fenway for a series on September 9-10-11. He DH'd against Boddicker in the first game. In the second game, he pinch-hit against Clemens in the eighth inning. He struck out on four pitches, fouling off one pitch (called strike, swinging strike, foul, swinging strike).

Francona enjoyed his final days in the majors playing for young Brewers manager Tom Trebelhorn. He knew he was the 25th man on the roster, so he did all the little things. He pitched an inning against Oakland ("I struck out Stan Javier on a knuckleball") when Trebelhorn was out of bullpen arms. (page 28)

On May 15, 1989, Francona pitched the eighth inning for the Brewers against Oakland. The A's were up 12-2. He retired the side in order, striking out Stan Javier for the third out.

"We'd had a dispute with Ken Kaiser early in the [1989] season," Francona remembered. "About two months later, he was working home plate for one of our games against the White Sox. I was sent up to pinch-hit, and first base was open, so they ordered an intentional walk. Kaiser and I were yelling at each other the whole time. Every pitch. Carlton Fisk was catching, and he couldn't believe it. Finally they threw ball four, and as I was starting down the line to take my base, Kaiser said, 'I make 3,000 calls a year!' and I hollered back, 'And 2,000 of them suck!' That did it. He tossed me." (page 28-29)

Francona was intentionally walked three times in 1989, one of which came in the eighth inning against the White Sox, on July 15, 1989. However, there are four things wrong with that game: Francona started as Milwaukee's designated hitter, Fisk was not catching (he was Chicago's DH that day), Kaiser was not behind the plate (in fact, he was not part of the umpiring crew at all), and Francona was not ejected.

I saw that Francona drew a non-intentional walk against the White Sox on May 2, 1989, but Fisk did not play that day and Kaiser was not in that umpiring crew, either.

Going through the other games in which Francona walked, I found July 9. Francona entered a game against Baltimore in the sixth inning as a pinch-runner for Milwaukee's DH. Francona batted in the seventh and with a runner on second base and two outs, was intentionally walked. Ken Kaiser was the home plate umpire. There is no note of an ejection in the box score, but Mike Felder pinch-ran for Francona after the BBI. It's quite possible this was the game Francona was referring to.

Late in the [1989] season, he used the oft-limping Francona as a pinch-runner.

"That was Trebelhorn being nice," Francona remembered. "With about ten games left, I'd mentioned to a couple of guys that I needed to get in eight more games to trigger a $25,000 bonus. The next day I pinch-ran. And again for another bunch of games. I remember thinking that Trebelhorn was crazy, but then I pinch-ran in the next-to-last game of the season and got my number. I mentioned something to Trebelhorn about it, and he said, "It's my way of saying thanks.' That went a long way with me."
(page 29)

Francona was last used as a pinch-runner for the 1989 Brewers on July 28, so this story cannot be completely accurate. Francona played sporadically through August and September, but then (with about ten games remaining in the season) Trelbelhorn started Francona in four consecutive games, and five out of six games (Games 151-152-153-154-156). Francona also started the final game of the season, so he played in seven of the final 11 games, which may have triggered a bonus clause.

In April 1990, Francona stepped to the plate in the eighth inning of an 18-0 Brewers rout of the Red Sox. It was Marathon Day in Boston, the only 11:00 AM start in baseball every year. Facing right-hander John Leister, Francona went out on a sinking liner to center. A few days later Trelbelhorn called him into his office and told him he was being released.

The fly ball in Boston was Terry Francona's final major league at-bat. He finished his playing career on the same diamond where his dad made his big league debut after meeting Ted Williams in 1956.
(page 29)

The details of Francona's last AB on April 16 are correct. (And his father, Tito, did make his debut at Fenway, on April 17, 1956.) However, Terry Francona did not finish his playing career at Fenway. He appear in one additional game, in Texas, pinch-running for Dave Parker on April 19. He was three days shy of his 31st birthday.

(On May 5, Francona signed with the Cardinals as a free agent. He played 86 games with the Cardinals' AAA team in Louisville, batting .263/.291/.379. He tried to come back in the spring of 1991, but additional injured ended his professional career.)

February 5, 2013

A-Rod: "Been Hidin' Out And Layin' Low, It's Nothing New To Me"

Daily News:
Alex Rodriguez is taking his wildest swing yet in his fight against steroid allegations: The Yankees and MLB are conspiring to push him out of the game.

Sources say the embattled Yankee star is "scared" that bigger forces are at work to try to discredit him and sink his career. Holed up in Miami, Rodriguez has been huddling with an army of lawyers and PR people as the performance-enhancing drug scandal enveloping him intensifies.

"He's scared, because he thinks this is so unbelievably false, and he's wondering who could be behind this," said a source, referring to last week’s Miami New Times report linking A-Rod to an alleged Miami-area performance-enhancing drug scandal. "He thinks something could be going on larger than anyone might think."

The source added that Rodriguez is wondering if the Yankees or even Major League Baseball are behind the latest controversy.
Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated:
The notebooks reported to belong to Florida wellness clinician Tony Bosch connect New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez to a staggering array of drugs and supplements to be used literally morning, noon and night and through multiple delivery systems, including lozenges, creams and injections. ...

The notebooks contain a trove of information from 2009-12, especially about Rodriguez and a suggested volume of doping almost unheard of in baseball. The documents released by the New Times connect Rodriguez to at least 19 drugs and supplements, including the banned substances testosterone, HGH and IGF-1, and define one doping regimen that includes as many 19 injections: four subcutaneous injections of IGF-1, nine shots of CJC (a growth hormone releasing hormone) and GHRP (growth hormone releasing peptide), and six shots of HGH at 2.5 international units.
Bill Madden, Daily News:
If A-Rod truly is a victim here, his reputation smeared, his career in such jeopardy, then why is he in hiding? Why isn't he shouting to the world he is innocent? Why isn't he calling his teammates, assuring them all these damning things they've been reading about him — purchasing HGH and testosterone from Bosch's clinic, receiving house calls for personal injections from Bosch — are all B.S., made up by forces out to destroy him? Why hasn't he reached out to the commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig, to tell him the same thing? ...

[Why] is he doing all his denying from an underground bunker through those anonymous spokespersons and statements from his lawyers?

Truck Day!

The Globe should have pictures later this morning. (Here they are!)

"Big Things Ahead" is this year's motto.

Pitchers and catchers are due to report on Sunday, but several pitchers are already in camp, including Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales.

February 3, 2013

How Can The Red Sox Not Draft This Guy?

There is a high school baseball player from Boca Raton, Florida, with the unlikely name of Fenway Parks.

This is apparently a true statement.

(There is also a five-year-old boy out there named Wrigley Fields.)

February 1, 2013

Could NESN's Baseball Broadcasts Get Much Worse?

For the past nine years, Russ Kenn had been the coordinating producer for NESN's Red Sox broadcasts. The Globe's Chad Finn reported in early January that Kenn - who navigated "that delicate balance between the expectations of his bosses and those of diehard viewers" - was leaving for another job.

I have been a persistent critic of NESN's many failures to concentrate on baseball. So what might Kenn's departure mean for fans who want nothing more than to watch a Red Sox game in its entirety? After seeing some of Finn's tweets last night, it sounds like the broadcasts could actually get worse in 2013.
@GlobeChadFinn: NESN has hired Mike Baker as remote coordinating producer for Sox telecasts. Worked at NESN from 1984-'93. Most recently freelanced at ESPN.

@GlobeChadFinn: Curious to see how the Sox broadcast changes. Former producer Russ Kenn was a baseball guy with stature to challenge goofy suggestions.

@mikewichter: i dunno, chad. Looks like a few goofy suggestions got through the last few yrs.

@GlobeChadFinn: Yeah, which should make you wonder what didn't ... Trust me, he fought the power.

@brendan_myers: Given the silly hijinks in the booth, particularly the last season or two, I can't imagine it can get worse. Can it?

@GlobeChadFinn: Oh, yes. It can get worse if there's a yes-man in there now. Russ wasn't that.

@brendan_myers: There have been more and more missing plays (even home runs) because of "schtick." They wanna fix things, might start there.