No Winners in White Sox Fiasco

Adam LaRoche Chicago White Sox

Adam LaRoche (photo by By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “Adam LaRoche”) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons}

When the whole mess with Adam LaRoche and the Chicago White Sox started last week, I only felt bad for one person – LaRoche’s son, Drake. That 14-year-old kid has had a hell of a lot put on him simply because his father wanted to teach the White Sox a “lesson” and walk away from the game on principle.

So before we nominate LaRoche for Father of the Year, think about that. Let’s also remember that, while $13 million is a lot of money, LaRoche is also a multimillionaire. It’s not like you and me walking away from a $50,000 job and having to worry about not being able to feed our families. It’s far from that.

And what about the young man going to school? I know LaRoche once gave an interview where he said “We’re not big on school,” but wouldn’t the Father of the Year make sure his kid was prepared for his future?

Look, I get it’s cool for a boy to be able to hang out with pro baseball players. Kids love that stuff. I worked in Division I college athletics for years. I sometimes took my kids to games or on road trips, but I never took them into a locker room. That is not where they belong.

The White Sox and LaRoche could have reached some middle ground. The White Sox totally mishandled the situation and LaRoche overreacted, in my opinion.

Perhaps LaRoche saw the end of his career was near and this was an easy way out. I don’t know. All I know is that Drake LaRoche has to take on part of a burden he didn’t ask for and doesn’t deserve.

In Podcast #41, host Gene Gumbs talks about that and a number of other things happening in Major League Baseball spring training camps.

Also in this Episode:

  • Jim Kaat presented an interesting idea on how to make MLB less “tired”
  • The injuries in LA continue to mount with Andre Ethier now out 3-4 months
  • Travis Shaw is making things difficult in Red Sox camp
  • A look at the NCAA Tournament
  • Steve Pikiell lands men’s basketball job at Rutgers after reach NCAAs with Stony Brook
  • My pick for team of the week

I appreciate you listening and following me 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 here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

Spring Training Press Conferences Entertaining

Grapefruit league logoIt’s snowing here in New England, but it’s spring in my mind. Baseball spring training has begun! In podcast #38, host Gene Gumbs bounces around the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues to talk about some of the happenings.and comments made in the pre-season player press conferences, which are always entertaining.

Leading the list is Washington’s Bryce Harper, who has already floated the idea of a $400 million contract when he becomes a free agent in a few years. In this age of Monopoly money, is anyone surprised? And considering what the top pitchers are getting now, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Harper gets 40 mil for 10 years when he becomes a free agent in 2019.

Anyone want to start a pool on how fast the Red Sox start offering Pablo Sandoval to anyone who will take him in exchange for a bag of balls? The Jenny Craig soap opera began right at the start of spring training. After manager John Farrell and others said that they expected Sandoval to show up slimmed down and ready to go, Sandoval appeared looking just like the Michelin Man again, saying that no one in the organization ever asked him to lose weight. First off, I call BS. Second, even if they didn’t, should they have to?

In the same vain, how long do you think it will be before Dan Duquette gets fired in Baltimore. He was a horrible GM in Boston, and proving to be the same in Baltimore. This is the guy who said Roger Clemens was washed up. The same Clemens who went out and won four more Cy Youngs elsewhere. He’s completely botched this off season, leaving the O’s to take the bottom of the barrel of the remaining free agents. Buck Showalter can only overcome so much.

Also in this Spring Training Episode:

I appreciate you listening and following me 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 here or at ggumbs@sbcglobal.net. Please let me know what you think!

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.

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!

MLB All-Star Game Talk Highlight of Podcast #14

Sports Microscope PodcastNow that the MLB All-Star Game actually means something, the composition of the roster becomes a little more important. While the fans have the say-so in the starting lineup, the players have a vote for some of the reserves and pitchers, and the respective managers get to round them out.

The American League roster is led six Royals and skippered by KC manager Ned Yost. The Cardinals placed five players on the NL roster, and manager Bruce Bochy made a couple of questionable choices and left off at least one huge name.

Also in this episode:

  • Talk about the US Women’s World Cup title
  • Why soccer will never surpass football’s popularity
  • Bryce Harper‘s decision not to participate in the Home Run Derby
  • Rick Porcello‘s do-or-die start on Wednesday for the Red Sox
  • Mike Scioscia‘s KO of former GM Jerry Dipoto
  • Is Justin Verlander‘s career on the wane?
  • 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 topics for further episodes. Enjoy!

Podcast #13 Highlights Red Sox Resurgence

Sports Microscope PodcastJust when you thought it was time to start throwing shovels of dirt on the Boston Red Sox 2015 casket, the boys show some signs of life. In episode 13 of the Sports Microscope podcast, host Gene Gumbs takes the team’s pulse and sees reason for optimism. Or could it be just another typical Red Sox ploy to break their fan’s hearts? Either way, it becomes more likely that Boston will be buyers come the trade deadline if things continue they way they are.

Other Stuff Not About the Red Sox:

  • Phil Mickelson’s bad day
  • The US Women’s World Cup Team reaches final game
  • The St. Louis Cardinal juggernaut
  • The continued greatness of Albert Pujols
  • Steve Matz: The greatest hitting debut for a pitcher – ever
  • 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. Got a comment or a suggestion for a future episode? The Sports Microscope loves mail and we look forward to your feedback. Enjoy!

Podcast #11 Talks Bud Black Firing

podcastsMonday’s firing of Bud Black by the San Diego Padres is the lead topic of conversation in episode #11 of the Sports Microscope podcast this week. Black, one of the sharpest managers in baseball, took the hit for “inconsistent play,” as General Manager AJ Preller put it. Frankly, I think it is just another attempt by Preller to remake the Padres in his image and bring in a manager that he can have more influence over. I sincerely doubt Bud Black will be unemployed long.

Also in this episode:

  • The Boston Red Sox freefall
  • A trip around MLB
  • A US Open Golf Tournament preview
  • The end (almost) of the winter sports season
  • 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. Enjoy, and I look forward to hearing your feedback!

Even Diehard Fans Switching Off Red Sox

broken tv I am not sure how much more of it I can take. I’ve been a Boston Red Sox fan for over fifty years. While I am thrilled the team broke the curse and has brought championships home to Boston, four of the last five years have been perhaps the worst I have ever had to suffer through. If things hold, they will have finished last in the AL East in three of the last four years.

It’s not because they are losing – lord knows the Sox have had some bad teams through the years – it’s the way they are losing while having a huge payroll full of “talent.” Last night’s 13-10 loss to Toronto, which featured a NINE-RUN inning by the Jays, might have been the straw that broke my remote’s back. As much as I love listening to Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy, I have spent more time turning off NESN this season than I have watching it!

Now I’m on record as saying the Red Sox pitching staff was ill constructed and a huge mistake. I stand by that, and they have done damn little to try and change my mind, outside of the recent promotion of Eduardo Rodriquez, who wasn’t even part of the staff when the season started. Clay Buchholz has been the only guy in the original starting rotation that has been anywhere close to good.

What I am having a harder time wrapping my mind around is how bad the hitting has been. Outside of Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, and Xander Bogaerts, the hitting has been inconsistent, bordering on AAAish. Hell, the way some of these guys are hitting, I’m not sure Holt shouldn’t be in the lineup every day somewhere. At least he gets on base!

I don’t put this squarely on the shoulders of John Farrell, though you wonder if at some point a change might have to be made just to get the player’s attention. Frankly, the guy I think who needs to have his feet over the fire is Ben Cherrington. He sold the owners a bill of goods on this “no ace” pitching staff, brought in guys I think are defensively liabilities in Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, and Rusney Castillo, and told Red Sox nation this was a team that could compete.

Is the season over? I hope not – but I am rapidly losing faith and patience. When the level of anxiety and frustration from watching my favorite baseball team get so high that it starts to affect other parts of my life, it’s time to switch off before my television becomes a casualty and what’s left of my hair goes down the drain.

 

Sports Microscope Podcast #8 is Here!

podcastsEpisode eight of the Sports Microscope podcast is online! In this week’s edition, host Gene Gumbs pays tribute to the Sacred Heart University baseball team for capturing its fourth Northeast Conference tournament and earning a trip to the NCAA Division I tournament, takes a look at the state of Red Sox Nation, hops around Major League Baseball, and wonders about the thought process of some disgruntled NFL players.

All that and more can be found in the Sport Microscope podcast that is available here and on iTunes every Tuesday.

Have comments or suggestions for this or future episodes? Feel free to leave me a message. Thanks for listening!