Saturday, August 25, 2012

Red Sox - Dodgers Mega Deal

First the details:

Dodgers get:
Josh Beckett
Carl Crawford
Adrian Gonzalez
Nick Punto
12 million dollars

Red Sox get:
James Loney
Allen Webster
Rubby De La Rosa
Ivan De Jesus
Jerry Sands

Now this is mostly a sign that the Red Sox are blowing up the team and starting over.  Beckett, Crawford, and Gonzalez were their three highest-paid players and potentially all had bad contracts moving forward.  The players the Red Sox received are not stars, though Webster and De La Rosa both have potential.  This was a way for Boston to clear a ton of salary.  The Red Sox will only pay $12 million of the contracts on the four players they are moving, thus saving nearly $260 million through 2017.

This is bittersweet for me.  On the one hand, I am happy they are doing something to move forward.  On the other, I have never seen the Red Sox pull this kind of thing before.  A complete rebuilding without clear replacements for the players lost.  Loney will take over at first, but his numbers are not impressive and he will be a free agent after the season.  Boston does not have a clear first base prospect in the minors after trading Anthony Rizzo for Gonzalez and Lars Anderson earlier this season.  Ryan Lavarnway or Jarrod Saltalamacchia could spend some time there and Mike Napoli will be on the market this offseason.

R.I.P. Johnny Pesky

Mr. Red Sox has passed away recently at the age of 92.  He was a great player for the team in the 1940's and 1950's and he kept coming to Spring Training even up to this year.  Pesky will be missed.

Kelly Shoppach Traded

Backup catcher Kelly Shoppach, who has quietly turned in a nice season for the Red Sox was traded to the New York Mets for Pedro Beato.  Shoppach was rumored to be behind some clubhouse dissension.  He was also ultimately expendable because he was a backup catcher and Ryan Lavarnway has done all he could in the minor leagues.  It is time to give Lavarnway a chance at full-time work in Boston.  Beato is a bullpen arm who was sent to the minor leagues for the time being.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pt. 16: Carl Mays

The Hall of Fame has inducted many players who were borderline choices, and many players who deserve induction have been on the outside looking in. I want to look at some players to determine if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Carl Mays comes up in discussions when the Veteran's Committee votes on Deadball Era players. Mays pitched from 1915 through 1929, with his first several seasons with the Red Sox. Mays also pitched for the Yankees, Reds, and Giants.

Mays was a very good pitcher, winning 20 games five times. He finished with a record of 208 -126 with a 2.92 career ERA. Certainly good numbers, but perhaps not quite Hall-worthy.

What really hurts Carl Mays's candidacy however is that one of his pitches killed Ben Chapman. Mays's pitch hit Chapman in the head and he remains the only player to die from an injury sustained in a baseball game. Mays was apparently not remorseful enough about it for this black mark to ever be erased.

THE VERDICT: He is a borderline choice to begin with and the Chapman situation does not help.

Wheeling and Dealing

Boston was not terribly active at last week's trading deadline, but given their record that was probably for the best.  They did make a couple of small moves leading up to the deadline and then made one more move today.

Boston traded Brent Lillibridge to the Indians for De La Torre.  Lillibridge was acquired in the Youkilis trade but was designated for assignment after not playing well for a few games.  De La Torre is a middle reliever in AAA who has put up some decent numbers this year, but at 26, does not have an especially bright future.  He will probably serve as organizational depth and get a call-up occasionally.

The biggest deadline deal for the Red Sox was sending Matt Albers and Scott Podsednik to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Craig Breslow.  Breslow is a left-handed reliever who previously had a stint with the Red Sox back in 2006.  Breslow allows the Red Sox to move Franklin Morales into the rotation permanently.

Lars Anderson was sent to the Indians to get 27 year-old AA knuckleballer Steven Wright.  Wright has put up decent numbers this year but is old for the league.  He will also likely serve as organizational depth.

Today, the Red Sox traded Rookie Leaguer Jeremias Pineda for third baseman Danny Valencia.  I think this likely means the end of Nick Punto in Boston.  Valencia has a lot of power, but not much else.  Pineda is 21 and still in the Rookie League, so he likely does not have a lot of potential despite decent numbers.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Season in Review: 1992

I have no idea what happened between 1991 and 1992.  The offense struggled quite a bit, and that was probably most of it.  Maybe it was the new manager as Butch Hobson took over for the popular Joe Morgan.  Boston finished in last place in 1992.

Wade Boggs:
Boggs had the worst season of his career in 1992, finishing with a career low .259/.353/.358 slash line.  He was still voted onto the All Star team, but his numbers across the board were down.  It may have been the stress of having his contract up after the season.  He left Boston after the season to join the hated Yankees.

Tom Brunansky:
Brunansky had his best season as a member of the Red Sox in 1992, even though it was still a far cry from his earlier work with the Twins and Cardinals.  He did have the only above-average season by a starting Red Sox position player as he hit .266/.354/.445 and lead the Red Sox in home runs (15), doubles (31), and RBIs (74).

Ellis Burks:
Burks was plagued by injuries in 1992, but generally played well when he was in the lineup.  Burks hit .255/.327/.417 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs and five stolen bases in just 66 games.  When he was out of the lineup, Boston had to scramble to find a replacement.

Roger Clemens:
Clemens is one of the few players that really had a good year in 1992.  Clemens finished third in the Cy Young race that year and 14th in the MVP race.  He also was named an All Star.  He finished the season at 18-11 with a league-leading 2.41 ERA and 208 strikeouts.  He also lead the league in shutouts and WHIP.

Mo Vaughn:
Vaughn started to reach his potential in 1992 after a difficult rookie season in 1991.  He was not quite the hitter he was expected to be yet, but he did finish second on the team in home runs (13) and RBIs (57).  He put together a slash line of .234/.326/.400, not great numbers, but he was starting to show some improvement.

Billy Hatcher:
Hatcher was acquired by the Red Sox from the Reds in July for Tom Bolton.  He immediately brought an infusion of speed to the Red Sox and even pulled off a steal of home in 1992.  He hit .238/.282/.311 in 75 games for the Red Sox.

Jeff Reardon:
Reardon broke the career saves record in 1992, one of the first big individual accomplishments I remember as a fan of the Red Sox.  Reardon did not have a great season in 1992, but he did save 27 games.  He was traded to the Braves at the August trading deadline.

Jody Reed:
Reed was another hitter who declined in 1992, but he still lead the team in a number of categories, such as hits (136), runs (64), and stolen bases (7), while continuing to play steady defense.  Reed hit .247/.321/.316 in 1992, with only 27 doubles after three straight seasons of more than 40.

Frank Viola:
Viola came to the Red Sox as a free agent in 1992 from the Mets.  He was a 20 game winner in 1990 but his numbers dipped a bit in 1991.  Left-handers have not historically done well in Fenway, but Viola managed to go 13-12 with a 3.44 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 238 innings to make an effective number two starter to Roger Clemens.

Scott Cooper:
Cooper had been a highly-touted infielder for awhile and he made it to the big leagues full-time in 1993.  He split his time between first base and third base and hit .276/.346/.383 with five home runs and 33 RBIs.  He also showed a very strong throwing arm.  He would make a lot of errors but that had more to do with Vaughn's erratic defense than Cooper's.

1991 Topps #21 Joe Morgan

In this series, I look at my first team set: 1991 Topps.  This was the set I started my baseball card collection with.
One of the first things that really stuck out to me about Topps, as opposed to the other brands released in 1991, was the fact that Topps created cards of managers.  Joe Morgan, not to be confused with the Reds great player, was a reasonably successful manager, helping the Red Sox to division titles in 1988 and 1990.  Both years they were eliminated easily by the Oakland Athletics.  1990 was a down year for the offense, but Morgan rode a surprisingly effective pitching staff to the division title.  He got career years from Tom Bolton and Dana Kiecker, as well as good seasons from Roger Clemens, Mike Boddicker, and Greg Harris.

Underrated Player of the Year: 2003

In this series, I look at one player per year from 1991-the present who came out of nowhere or had a great year that no one really noticed or expected. 
Wow did Bill Mueller come out of nowhere to have a great year in 2003. Mueller had always been a solid, if unspectacular player, over the years. He had played with the Giants and Cubs before going to the Red Sox as a free agent in 2003.

His play in 2003 though was completely unexpected. Mueller surpassed expectations and caused Shea Hillenbrand to be expendable. He was a talented defensive third-baseman and set career highs in virtually every offensive category. Along the way, he won the Silver Slugger, the batting title, and hit grand slams from both sides of the plate in one game.

Mueller hit .326/.398/.540 with 19 home runs, 85 RBIs, and 85 runs scored. He finished twelfth in the MVP vote.