World Series Could Be Harsh Reminder for Sox

Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles June 26, 2013 (photo by Keith Allison on Flickr - Originally posted to Flickr as "Terry Francona", CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27135439

Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles June 26, 2013 (photo by Keith Allison on Flickr – Originally posted to Flickr as “Terry Francona”, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27135439

If the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians do indeed make the World Series, the Boston Red Sox will have a harsh reminder of the front office and on-field talent that once graced Fenway Park. Some of them were practically run out of town on a rail, while others were allowed to leave as free agents. Either way, there will be a lot of Sox ties to the 2016 Fall Classic. Podcast #48 touches on this an many other subjects.

Start at the top with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Terry Francona. Despite all the success, things got so toxic in the front office those two men saw the writing on the wall and ran for the hills. Let’s not forget that most of that young talent the Sox have now were drafted by Epstein. And Terry Francona is one of the best managers in baseball, in my opinion, and players love playing for him. I have no beef with the job John Farrell has done, by and large, but his buddy Francona is better.

Then there is the host of players that once wore a Red Sox uniform or were the team’s property: Cocoa Crisp, John Lackey, John Lester, Andrew Miller, Mike Napoli, Anthony Rizzo, and David Ross. Rizzo went to the Padres in the disastrous Adrian Gonzalez deal. I guess I can understand Miller being traded for Eduardo Rodriguez (though he has yet to be the stud the experts say he can be), but I would have loved to see Napoli, Lester and Ross stay.

Of course, it’s possible that the Dodgers might actually pull off the upset and keep the Cubs away from the World Series. Wouldn’t that be something?

Also in this Episode

  • Who plays third for Boston next year?
  • Is Hanley Ramirez the new Red Sox DH?
  • Is the role of the closer changing in baseball?
  • Bruce Bochy’s incredibly bad overmanaging.
  • My pick for team of the week.

I hope you’ll keep checking back and listening to new episodes of my podcast. If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to email me at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net.

 

 

 

 

Could David Ortiz Retirement Help Sox Land Price?

David Ortiz

David Ortiz
(Photo by: Parkerjh at the English language Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

David Ortiz announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2016 season, this week. In this week’s podcast, Gene Gumbs wonders if that doesn’t improve Boston’s chance of luring free agent pitcher David Price to the team. It is no secret that Price and Ortiz have had some words in the past (mostly through the media), but getting them to bury the hatchet might be a little easier if Price knows Ortiz will be gone after a year, leaving him as one of the team’s leaders. Just a thought.

When he does retire, Ortiz will be one of the few who leave with some gas still left in the tank. Though many have been trying to bury him for years, Ortiz continues to amaze. Five years after his retirement, he should become the first player who played primarily as a designated hitter to be elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.

Look at these numbers:

  • 9 times over 100 RBI (one year with 96)
  • 9 times over 30 homers
  • .284 career batting average
  • .925 career OPS
  • 503 career homers (27th all-time)
  • 1,641 RBI (30th all-time)
  • 584 double (18th all-time)

All this from a guy who was once included as the player to be named later by the Seattle Mariners, and later released by the Minnesota Twins in 2002. And I don’t want to hear about PEDs. He has never failed a drug test. Well, there supposedly was one – but no one in MLB will tell him what he supposedly tested positive for. The rumors are simply petty and jealous comments by cowards on social media and the press. Prove it and I may change my tune, but I do not believe that proof exists.

And Ortiz may be even more beloved in Boston than Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, or Pedro Martinez – especially after informing everyone after the Boston Marathon bombing, “This is our f**king city.”

Maybe he’ll run for mayor. He just might win.

Also in this episode:

  • A look at the MLB awards
  • The assault on fantasy sports continues
  • Craig Kimbrel heading to the Red Sox
  • Olivia Munn the scourge of Green Bay?
  • NHL all-star game format is the dumbest thing ever
  • My pick for team of the week

Once again, thanks for listening every week. You can listen to the latest podcast here, or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

What We Learned in MLB Last Night

mlblogo

A few things became pretty clear in Major League Baseball last night:

 

  1. Matt Harvey cannot easily set aside issues off the field. After he and his agent made a mess of an innings limit controversy Harvey came up pretty small on the field. He allowed 8 hits and seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. That performance is not likely to change the minds of thousands of Met fans who skewered the Connecticut native after he failed to temper the comments of his agent, Scott Boras.
  2. We also learned that the Washington National fans may have been justified in leaving in the seventh inning Monday night, drawing the ire of Bryce Harper, who blasted them. After blowing Monday night’s game late, on Tuesday the Nationals coughed up a 7-1 sixth-inning lead and lost to the Mets 8-7, effectively putting a fork in Washington’s playoff hopes. I wonder if Harper had anything interesting to say last night?
  3.  Teams have managers for a reason. The Boston Red Sox roster showed what happens when players try to think for themselves. A day after Pablo Sandoval and Blake Swihart tried to lay down bunts on their own early in a game on Monday, Rusney Castillo may have cost the Sox a chance to beat the Blue Jays on Tuesday. After David Ortiz singled with one out in the ninth of a 1-1 game, manager Torey Luvullo used Castillo as a pinch runner. Castillo then proceeded to try to steal second base on his own and was promptly gunned down by Russell Martin.

Now I’m not saying these guys are dopes (exactly), but it does seem to me to be the perfect example of why it is always important to stop and take a minute to think before you speak or act – MLB players included. If you don’t, you had better be prepared to take responsibility for the fallout.

Report: Don Orsillo Ousted From Red Sox Network

 

Don Orsillo

Thousandrobots at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In a report on NBC, and later expounded on by Chad Finn of the Boston Globe, Don Orsillo will not be returning to the NESN broadcast booth after this season. It is inconceivable to me that the network would let the best local broadcaster not named Vin Scully leave. Orsillo’s perfect balance or professionalism and humor has made him an incredible asset to the Red Sox and New England fans.

Orsillo’s contract expires at the end of the year, and Joseph Maar, NESN’s VP for programming and production, has been looking for a way to get rid of him. The waited until the last minute to even pick up his contract option for this season.

Full disclosure here, I have known Don for the better part of twenty years, and even worked as his color partner on some American Hockey League games in Springfield, MA many moons ago. I continued to get to know him when he worked AA minor league baseball for the New York Mets, and then again when I worked for Major League Baseball for five years in the press box at Fenway.

Having said that, my outrage isn’t because of that. The guy is just GOOD. I subscribe to MLB TV and get to listen to the local guys all over the country. Along with Scully and guys like Dave Sims in Seattle and Dick Enberg in San Diego, Orsillo is one of the best to listen to.

Reports are that Dave O’Brien, who currently works on Sox radio and does multiple sports with ESPN, will be replacing Orsillo. Dave is fine and a good man, but Don has been in our living rooms for ten years, and he and Jerry Remy (and often Dennis Eckersley) have built up a great rapport. This is just more news to make a depressing 2015 baseball season worse.

I am sure NESN knows they have people over a barrel because it’s the only game in town for Sox TV, but I’ll likely be spending more time listening to Joe Castiglione on the radio. If there’s a God in heaven, someone at NESN will come to their senses and fix this.

I’m not holding my breath.

Ben Cherington Out, Dave Dombrowski in in Boston

Boston-Red-Sox-LogoIn what was an inevitable move – and in my mind a needed one – the Boston Red Sox made a bold choice by hiring Dave Dombrowski to be President of Baseball Operations today. In effect, he would have become Ben Cherington’s boss. The Red Sox press release indicated Cherington declined to stay on a general manager. It’s likely he declined because he was asked to do just that.

Someone had to pay the price for the horrendous pitching staff assembled from the free agent market, and two high-priced position players in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval who have underwhelmed. The good thing for Boston is that they got a guy in Dombrowski with an impressive track record who has the ability to right the ship.

Dombrowski was released from his contract with the Detroit Tigers this season after building a team that won four straight division titles. The loss of Max Scherzer to free agency and the decline of Justin Verlander spelled trouble for Detroit this year. The Tigers waived the white flag at the trade deadline by unloading David Price and Yoenis Cespedes.

Dembrowski has also served stints as GM for the Montreal Expos and Miami Marlins. His hiring is a shift for Boston, who for the past dozen years have had young GMs in Theo Epstein and Cherington. Cherington was part of a World Series champion in 2013, but truth be told it was with a team mainly put together by Epstein. The bulk of the young talent on the Red Sox today and in AAA Pawtucket, guys like Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, and Mookie Betts, were also all signed by Epstein.

This year is lost, but the young kids are getting plenty of at bats and innings now, and we’ll see more of that when September arrives. Now the Sox have a man at the helm that can fix the mess that Cherington made – and not a moment too soon.

Red Sox Cut Ties With Mike Napoli

Red Sox logoThe Boston Red Sox shipped Mike Napoli and cash to the Texas Rangers today for a player to be named later. Napoli was mired in the worst season of his career, despite having surgery in the offseason to correct an issue with sleep apnea. He was hitting just .207 with 13 homers and 40 RBI.

Napoli was on fire in spring training, regularly launching balls over the fence, raising hopes that he would anchor a fearsome Boston offensive attack with David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez. Sadly, it was not to be – not just for him, but Ortiz and Ramirez as well.

It’s been a long year in Boston, to be sure, but Napoli’s departure does give the Sox a chance to what rookie Travis Shaw can do when playing on a regular basis.

I’m sad to see Napoli go. He was a class act and had a lot of big hits for the Red Sox over the last three seasons. He also turned himself into a gold glove caliber first baseman, though even that escaped him at times this season.

It was unlikely Boston was going to re-sign him when his contract expired at the end of the season, so I guess it’s good they got something for him while they could, but I’ll always remember Napoli’s work ethic and the beard that had its own zip code during the 2013 World Series run. He’s only 33 and hopefully still has a lot of baseball left in him.

Good luck, Mike!

MLB Trades and News Featured in Podcast #17

Sports Microscope PodcastThere have been a flurry of MLB trades in the last few days as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches. One of the biggest saw the Colorado Rockies trade Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and a couple of prospects. In Podcast #17, host Gene Gumbs tells you why this was a poor trade for the Rockies and a bad sign for the future of the franchise.

The Kansas City Royals, New York Mets and Anaheim Angels have been very busy as well. Jonathan Papelbon finally got his wish and was shipped out of Philadelphia, but Cole Hamels is still waiting to find out where he’ll land.

Your host also laments the embarrassing effort the Boston Red Sox have put out the last few days. There is real worry in Red Sox Nation that this season could go from bad to ludicrous. Is it time to bring up all the young pitchers and send Joe Kelly, Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello and Wade Miley to the sin bin?

Also in MLB trade deadline episode:

  • The Minnesota Twins need to make a move
  • Are the San Francisco Giants the best team in the NL?
  • A-Rod’s performance this year shows he never needed PEDs
  • Did the Mets do enough?
  • KC moves put them at the head of the class
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Enjoy and thanks for listening!

Shane Victorino to Angels – Does This Mean Sox are Sellers?

Red Sox logoShane Victorino was traded to the Anaheim Angels this afternoon, in exchange for infielder Josh Rutledge. This begs the question if the Red Sox have officially thrown in the towel and will start moving some other pieces, or if this move is just to thin out the logjam in the outfield.

There has been talk that teams are interested in Mike Napoli, whose bat has started to come alive lately, and several teams looking for bullpen help might be interested in Koji Uehara.

Rusney Castillo was called up from Pawtucket and is in the lineup tonight, and after shelling out $72 million to sign him, Boston has to find out what they have. They also have to decide what they are going to do with Jackie Bradley, Jr., Daniel Nava is ready to come back to Boston as well, and they still have Allen Craig. So there’s no doubt the Sox have too many outfielders.

I personally sad to see Victorino go. Injuries aside, he plays the game the right way and has a good time doing it. He’s a class act and will be missed in that clubhouse. It doesn’t hurt that he’s hit over .300 in his last twenty games.

In the meantime, the Cole Hamels watch continues. I still would like to see him, and his relatively budget-friendly salary for the next three years, in a Sox uniform.

Ben Cherington May be the Biggest Red Sox Problem

Red Sox logoAs the 2015 Red Sox season continues to descend into the abyss and the frustration of the fans increases, I think it’s fair to ask if ownership should take a good, long look at whether general manager Ben Cherington should continue being the one making the decisions for the franchise. Look, every GM is allowed a mistake or two, but Cherington and company continue to make them at an alarming rate.

To be fair, Cherington has done some good things, including:

I haven’t found many others, to be honest. And before you give Ben Cherington credit for the well-stocked minor league system and great young players, realize that the majority of these guys were drafted or signed during Theo Epstein’s tenure that ended after the 2011 season. This includes:

Now let’s look at some of the missteps that have led to two straight embarrassing campaigns:

Get the theme from above? You can blame David Ortiz and Mike Napoli for their sub-par seasons if you want, but if you look at the list above you’ll see that a lot of the problems with this team are because of Cherington’s decisions. Building a starting rotation of guys who let the population of third world countries get on base, and throwing money at guys on the free agent/international market just for the sake of making a splash does not work.

To his credit, Cherington has stepped up and taken responsibility, but it may be time for ownership to actually hold him accountable. Cherington certainly did that with Juan Nieves when he fired the pitching coach for not magically transforming the mediocre talent he handed him.

There’s no doubt that player performance is a big part of the problem this season – and Cherington can’t change that – but the Red Sox general manager seems to be getting a little bit of a pass. I hear far more writers/pundits being critical of John Farrell and the players rather than the architect who designed the sinking ship.

MLB Trade Deadline Focus of Podcast 16

Sports Microscope PodcastThe MLB trade deadline is only ten days away and as teams jockey for post-season position, general managers need to decide if they’ll be buyers, sellers, or stand pat. Podcast #16 breaks down some of the big names on the block, and which teams might be interested.

Will Cole Hamels finally be traded, or did Ruben Amaro wait too long? Which team can afford the high-rent district of Johnny Cueto?

One thing is for certain, the Boston Red Sox season has flat-lined, and the carvers are putting the finishing touched on the headstone. Red Sox fans don’t have to look any further than Ben Cherington for blame. The general manager put together a sub-par pitching staff that has lived up their mediocre career statistics.

Also in MLB trade deadline episode:

  • Would the NY Mets dare trade a young pitcher to get a bat?
  • The impressive run by Zack Greinke
  • A big week for the Kansas City Royals
  • Albert Pujols hits #549, passing Mike Schmidt
  • Zach Johnson wins his second golfing major
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. Feel free to leave feedback and ideas for future episodes. Enjoy and thanks for listening!