Archive for July, 2008

Selling the Drama

I didn’t think Theo Epstein had it in him. I was confident that the Boston Red Sox were just going through the motions of trying to trade Manny Ramirez. I thought that all of the trade talk this past week was designed to show Manny that the Sox tried to grant his wish for a trade, but due to Manny’s bad attitude no one wanted him. I thought that this would be the motivation that Manny needed to put up monster numbers the next two months of the season and ensure the giant free agent contract that he so desired.

I guess I was wrong.

Goodbye, Manny. Hello, Jason Bay!

Why trade arguably the greatest right handed hitter in Major League history? For starters, Manny has always been about Manny. He doesn’t care about the game of baseball. He doesn’t care about the fans, and he sure as hell doesn’t give a crap about his teammates. If he did he wouldn’t have put himself in this situation.

Boston has always been a blue-collar, hard working city that prides itself on supporting a baseball team that always plays hard and gives 100%. That’s why guys like Trot Nixon, Gabe Kapler and Dustin Pedroia are fan favorites. The fans put up with Manny’s laissez-faire attitude as long as we could, but eventually his act grew tired.

Manny was set up to be the sixth Red Sox player to have his number retired at Fenway Park. He was going to be the guy would tell our grandchildren about, the same way we heard stories about Ted Williams. Manny was that good.

But that wasn’t enough for Manny.

Manny thrived in the spotlight, and if it wasn’t shining on him, another version of Manny would appear. The Manny that pouted and pulled himself from the lineup. The Manny that would never play through the same pain that each and every one of his teammates were playing through during the course of a long season.
The Manny that called out management and quit on teammates.

Don’t think for a second that dealing Manny across the country is going to change anything. He’s still going to be the guy that doesn’t run out ground balls and flops around the outfield. How will Manny’s defense be now that he’s actually going to have to cover some ground, without a 37-foot-tall security blanket right behind him? How will Manny’s numbers be affected going from an offensive paradise at Fenway to the land of the long fly-ball out?

These questions are going to be answered sooner rather than later. Manny can now be Manny, for as long as he wants to.

I’m just glad I don’t have to watch it anymore.

New York State of Mind

Don’t look now, but the New York Yankees have climbed to within three games of the AL East co-leaders Sox and Rays and are in Boston for a three-game set at Fenway Park that starts tonight. Like a bad case of athlete’s foot, New York refuses to go away. These guys have been decimated this season with injuries to Chien-Ming Wang, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Add to that the disappointing pitching from Ian Kennedy and Philip Hughes, plus the media circus of the A-Rod/Madonna/Cynthia Rodriguez/Lenny Kravitz Quadangle, and it is a miracle that these guys are still in contention. What is Hank Steinbrenner pumping through the air conditioning ducts to keep these guys motivated?

I’m not sure that the Yankees have enough pitching to make a long run at the playoffs, but you can be certain that Hank Steinbrenner will mortgage the future at next week’s trade deadline to at least make it interesting.

Objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits

  • I don’t know what Joba Chamberlain’s problem with Kevin Youkilis is, but if he hits Youk again tonight, I hope he gets his face smashed in with a Louisville Slugger.
  • You can tell that autumn is here when the leaves change color, and you can tell it’s almost August when Manny Ramirez starts faking another injury. This season it’s his sore knee. It never fails.
  • The attendance at Tropicana Field for the last two games for the Rays was about 12,000 and 16,000. That equates to 30.1% and 40% of total capacity. I know that it’s not the temperature in Florida that’s keeping them away. It’s always fair-weathered in the dome.
  • Big Papi David Ortiz rejoins the Sox tonight after a long layoff. This might be the big move at the trade deadline that everyone has been hoping for.
  • Speaking of the trading deadline… I really hope that Boston deals Manny to the Mets for prospects, takes those prospects and adds a top-line Red Sox prospect to the mix, and makes a deal for Matt Holliday. He would make people forget about Manny pretty damn quick.
  • Playoff atmosphere at Fenway tonight, and there is no one better to have on the mound than the best big game pitcher in baseball, Josh Beckett.

Go Sox!

Makes Me Wonder

The three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins was exactly what the Boston Red Sox needed. The Sox have been going through the motions lately, getting little to no production from Manny, Lugo, Ellsbury, and Varitek. Even Jonathan Papelbon has been getting hit. These guys had looked like a shell of their former selves.

During this series with Minnesota, Boston won the first game 1-0. They rallied back from a three-run deficit to win the second game, and they had the blowout in the third game to cap the sweep. I know that one good series doesn’t make a season, but this could be a turning point for the Sox. They beat a very good team three times, in three very different ways. Boston is finally getting healthy, and this could be when we see the real Red Sox show up.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits:

  • Boston is 34-10 playing at Fenway and 21-29 on the road. Home field is going to be more important than ever this postseason.
  • Some guy named Clay Buchholz is starting for Boston Friday night. I hope that he can do as well as some of the other young pitchers the Red Sox have used this year.
  • Congrats to Evan Longoria for making the All Star team. It’s well deserved and is sure to be the first of many during his career.
  • Speaking of the All Star game… Imagine, if you will, the 9th inning, the AL up by one run. Francona goes to the bullpen, the last All Star game in Yankee Stadium… and out comes Jonathan Papelbon. It won’t happen. But it would be awesome to stick it to the entire state of New York.
  • Dustin Pedroia needs to be in the running for the MVP of the league.
  • Vernon Wells of the Toronto Blue Jays is injured again and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. It’s time for Toronto to concede the season and look towards next year.
  • After dropping three in a row, and losing 13-2 to Cleveland as I write this, you know that the Rays are counting the minutes to the All Star break so they can regroup. This is just a bump in the road. They’ll be competitive all year long.
  • Is A-Rod dating Madonna really newsworthy? Would this even be in the paper if the Yankees were relevant?

The Winner Takes It All, Playoff Preview

After a two-week hiatus from thefoulline.com fantasy league weeks in review, I thought it would be a perfect time to look into the crystal ball and see how the playoff picture is shaping up. According to league rules, four teams make the playoffs: the two division leaders, and the two teams that have the best records. So let’s take a look who’s going to the postseason, and who’s going to be watching from the sidelines.

Teams are ranked in order of win/loss record:

YankeeHaters

After a crushing defeat to the Boston Braves this past week, confidence is running high for team YankeeHater. It feels good to finally beat a McLaughlin. I’ll need to avenge my other loss to The Showstoppers in a couple of weeks to really correct the universe, but a five-game lead in the West Division all but assures me a playoff berth.

Love Boat Captains

LBC made a big splash in the trade market this week, dealing Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb for the always dangerous Albert Pujols. This team needed to improve their offense before the playoffs started, and she might need to make one more deal to add some more punch to her sometimes anemic offensive. Whether she makes another move or not, she’s playoff bound.

Boston Braves

After a humiliating defeat by the YankeeHaters and currently in the midst of a two-game losing streak, the Boston Braves are reeling. But this team has the players to turn this thing around and make a solid push to playoffs. Soriano and Oswalt should rejoin his team soon to add a boost.

The Showstoppers

A six-game winning streak? Is that even possible? The Showstoppers are chewing up teams and spitting them out right now. They have a tough game this week against the up-and-down Lessthanzero, and there is a three-way tie for first in the East Division. Of the three teams, The Showstoppers may be the most playoff ready.

SarasotaRedRays, Chickenheads, LessthanZero

These three teams have had an up-and-down season and are currently on the outside looking in. SRR has really struggled as of late, losing four games in a row. These guys may have peaked too early in the season, but they have the players to turn it around. Chickenheads is proving to be a legitimate threat, winning three in a row. They may have finally found the right combination to make a push towards the playoffs. LessthanZero is the one team of these three that can play spoiler. They’re a wild-card that has the potential to knock off the big boys. The injury bug has hit these guys recently, but they still can still make a big run at any time.

MyBestefforts, Bostonbad boys, Roger’s syringe

Thanks for playing. Three of the nicest owners in the league. Unfortunately, they fell behind the eight ball early in the season and have been unable to recover, although I still have hope that they can beat up on the McLaughlins before the playoffs start.

Eat for Two

My favorite time of the baseball season is right around the corner. No, not the annual American League ass-kicking of the National League in the All Star game. I’m talking about the Major League trade deadline, the time of year when teams make that final push towards the postseason. It’s a time when the hopes and dreams for your team are renewed. The time when general managers and scouts determine which player is a must-have, and who will be the final piece to the World Series puzzle.

It was announced this morning that the Milwaukee Brewers have already made a huge splash in the trade market with the acquisition of C.C. Sabathia. And when I say it was a huge move, I mean gigantic. And when I say gigantic, I mean FAT.

Have you seen Chocolate Cake Sabathia lately? This dude gets fatter every time I see him. What was Brewers GM Doug Melvin thinking, bringing him to the land of bratwurst, cheese curds and dark beer? That’s like sending a diabetic to work for Willy Wonka. This part-time rental is not going to end well.

Sabathia is a great regular-season pitcher, with 19 wins and a Cy Young Award in 2007. But when Chunk-Butt pitches in October, his ERA climbs to an abysmal 7.17. Combine that with fellow lard-ass and big-game blower Eric Gagne closing games, and it’s good night Milwaukee.

My only question is this: Which will be higher, C.C.’s ERA, or his cholesterol?

All Star

Baseball has some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in all of sports, but for some reason, when the fans have the chance to select the starters for the mid-summer classic, they have the tendency to pick with their hearts instead of their brains. As much as I like players like Jason Varitek and Ken Griffey Jr., they are not deserving of an All Star nod. With the All Star selections being announced at 2:00 p.m. today, I’m going to jump the gun and give you the players that have truly played like an All Star during the first half of the season.

Although I’d like to make the team entirely of Red Sox players, I’m going to try to be as impartial as possible, which means there may be a Ray or a Yankee on the team. Ugh!

American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer
Pencil him in for the next ten years.

First Base: Justin Morneau
This was a close race between Youkilis and Morneau. Both players have similar numbers. I just think Morneau is better.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
This guy is a great hitter and an under-appreciated defender. His defense gives him a slight edge over Ian Kinsler.

Third base: Alex Rodriguez
After a controversial week in the tabloids, this selection should soothe the Material Girl’s pain.

Shortstop: Michael Young
Sorry, Jeter. I know that this is the last year in Yankee Stadium, but Young is better than you.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Quinton
There have been some great performances by AL outfielders during the first half of the season. These three have been the best.

Designated Hitter: Milton Bradley
Even with one arm, I think Big Papi should be the DH. But I’m afraid that Bradley will hunt me down and beat me to a pulp if he’s not picked.

Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee
11-1, 2.26 ERA. Lee has been the biggest pitching surprise in the league.

Reserves:
Dioner Navarro C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Ian Kinsler 2B
Brian Roberts 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Derek Jeter SS
B.J. Upton OF
Nick Markakis OF
Ichiro Suzuki OF
J.D. Drew OF
Roy Halladay SP
Ervin Santana SP
James Shields SP
Justin Duchscherer SP
Joe Saunders SP
Gavin Floyd SP
Jon Lester SP
Jonathan Papelbon RP
Francisco Rodriguez RP
Mariano Rivera RP

National League

Catcher: Russell Martin
Martin is in a class by himself. Easily the best catcher in baseball.

First Base: Lance Berkman
After an amazing first half, Berkman is the NL MVP.

Second Base: Chase Utley
24 ding-dongs on the season so far. He has carried the Phillies.

Third base: Larry Jones
Grown men shouldn’t be called Chipper, even when they hit close to .400.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez
This guy makes the game look easy. He’s a lock for the next ten years.

Designated Hitter: Ryan Howard
I like that this guy will either strikeout or go yard. There is no in-between.

Outfield: Nate McLouth, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun
These three aren’t the biggest names in the National League, but they’ve been carrying their respective teams.

Starting Pitcher: Tim Lincecum
This kid weighs 120 pounds and throws 98 MPH. The fact that he’s 10-1 and is the lone bright spot on the Giants also helps.

Reserves:
Geovany Soto C
Brian McCann C
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Derrek Lee 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
David Wright 3B
Jose Reyes SS
Miguel Tejada SS
Carlos Lee OF
Pat Burrell OF
Matt Holliday OF
Edinson Volquez SP
Brandon Webb SP
Dan Haren SP
Cole Hamels SP
Ben Sheets SP
Ryan Dempster SP
Kerry Wood RP
Jose Valverde RP
Brad Lidge RP

So there you have it, the official thefoulline.com 2008 All Star Team.

Here Comes the Sun

The sun did rise today.

The birds are singing, and things seem to be OK.

After watching the Red Sox get out-hit, out-pitched, outplayed and out-cheered the last three nights, I wasn’t so sure that was going to happen. But here we are – it’s a new day and we have the damn Yankees to focus on.

There’s a lot of baseball left to played. Let’s turn this thing around.

Thefoulline.com quick hits

  • After receiving threats in the mail a few days ago, Sox players avoided fans in the stands like they had the ebola virus (with David Aardsma being the exception, but I think he may have a few screws loose anyway).
  • Walking into the game last night and seeing ex-Sox player Bill Lee in attendance signing autographs I thought was going to be a good omen. It wasn’t.
  • Evan Longoria is a great ballplayer, but after watching him interact with the young fans in the crowd, I think he is an even better person. Within two years, this guy is going to be the most popular player in baseball.
  • With Terry Francona picking the reserves for the All-Star Game, I think Longoria just secured a spot on the roster.
  • Funny observation of the night: The Red Sox coaches warm up as if they are playing that night. I watched as Brad Mills and Luis Alicea played some long toss before the game. After watching the Sox bullpen implode last night, they could have used them.
  • Three games, three dumb moves by Francona. Game 1: Not pinch hitting Sean Casey for Lugo in the 9th inning. Game 2: Having the ice-cold Jason Varitek pinch hit. Game 3: Keeping Craig Hansen in the game too long and having him walk half the Rays lineup.
  • Bonus dumb move from Game 3: Having the above mentioned Varitek do a hit and run with the slowest guy on the team standing on first base. It was a recipe for failure.
  • Manny sucks.
  • What a relief, Boston has four games against the Yankees.
  • 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay Rays feels like 100 right now.
  • Thanks to the Rays fan who jump started my truck in the parking lot after the game. I take back some of the bad stuff I’ve said about their kind in the past.