Payday for Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon marches to the beat of a different drum. Or, in his case, to the twang of a different banjo.

The Red Sox closer has jigged to Irish music in his skivvies drinking a Bud Light. This was on the field. It was also televised.

During games, he wears his intensity on a scowled mask he presents to his opposition. My Dad calls it his “mean face”, and tells us how effective a “mean face” he has at least six times an at-bat. It’s really quite annoying. Mixing in a smile every once in a while would be nice, Pap.

But, more to the point, Papelbon has eschewed signing a long-term extension through the first six-plus years of his career, instead opting to take his chances through the arbitration process in hopes of a major free-agency deal. There is no rule necessitating players sign multi-year contracts, but more often than not players chose to sign an extension which may buy out a year or two of free agency.  Since contracts in baseball are guaranteed, a player who gets hit by a tiny rogue-meteor while bird watching in the Pacific Northwest during the first year of a three-year deal still collects paychecks for the next two years, despite having a sizable dent in his head. (See: Pavano, Carl for the New York Yankees. 4 year, $40 MM deal signed in 2005, he collected every penny, and pitched approximately nine innings over four years).

So, long story short, Papelbon’s choice is high-risk, high-reward. He makes the most he possibly can during the time leading up to his eligibility for free agency, but if he dislocates his shoulder playing Wii bowling, it likely costs him millions of dollars. To the benefit of both himself and the Red Sox, however, Cinco-Ocho has remained healthy throughout his tenure in Boston, and this winter holds a substantial pay raise for the 30 year old closer.

When this season began, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Papelbon was going to be given his walking papers after the Sox closed out their 2011 World Championship this Fall***. People pointed to the price tag, as well as the presence of closer-in-waiting Daniel Bard holding down the 8th inning  as reason enough to hand Papelbon his walking papers at the end of the year. More recently, though, voices have started to emerge calling for Theo Epstein to think seriously about ensuring that “Shippin’ up to Boston” remains a 9th inning tradition for years to come.

Far from simply rebounding from an off year, Papelbon has put together a superb contract year. Entering tonight’s game, he had a WHIP under 1.00 (0.95), and a sub-three ERA. More impressive is his K:BB ratio, which is staggering at better than 8:1. His fastball velocity is consistently back up to the mid-90s, and he’s spotting pitches as well as he has since 2008. No opponent has crossed the plate against Pap since July 16th against Tampa, and his only blown save of the year came May 9th against the Twins. He entered that game with two men on and two out in the eighth, and a bloop single scored the man from 2nd to tie the game.

I know this because I was there. Four and a half hours, any number of $8 beers, and a pretzel while watching the Sox win in 11. Not a bad evening.

Monster stats aside, however, this off-season might end in frustration for number 58. While he’ll likely be pointing to Mariano Rivera as a comparison, the chances of Papelbon finding a multi-year deal for $15 MM is looking exceedingly unlikely. More accurate might be the deal Rivera’s setup man inked, Rafael Soriano’s 3 year, $35 MM contract (ignoring his ridiculous opt-out clauses). $12 MM for a closer who has averaged over 37 saves a year for his career seems reasonable, especially considering his clean bill of health. Teams are going to be reticent to shell out tens of millions of dollars for closers on multi-year deals, simply because a number of those contracts have ended less than favorably. Francisco Rodriguez, for instance, signed a similar deal in 2008 (3/$37), and was shipped this year to Milwaukee after getting in any number of altercations with any number of relatives in New York.

It’s safe to say that the Mets regret the K-Rod signing.

With that in mind, teams might be more amiable to pursuing any of the closers in the 2012 free agent class, hoping to sign someone from the Matt Capps mold or take a flyer on a Broxton/Nathan/Lidge injury rebound project. Jose Valverde’s option is likely to be exercised, and Soriano is still laughing about his contract too hard to even contemplate opting out. Eliminating the small-market teams from the Papelbon Sweepstakes, simply because they can’t tie up a large chunk of payroll in a single position, many teams across baseball simply aren’t a fit.

So, as it turns out, there are only a select few teams who would be willing to commit both the years and millions of dollars required to have Papelbon on board through 2014 or so.

One of those teams is the Boston Red Sox.

Just think about it.

Advertisements

Royals/RedSox – Game 1 Notes

Full disclosure; I didn’t see much of the first few innings. The Patriots had their 2nd preseason game tonight, and watching every moment of their 28-0 first half seemed imperative. Frankly, I just haven’t had a chance for my Brady fix in months, so I had to absorb all I could while he was playing.

But, back to business. I made sure to see Lavarnway’s first Major League AB, and the fact that he wasn’t an odd shade of green and shaking uncontrollably proves his mental fortitude is far superior to my own. As exciting as seeing another Nava-esque one pitch, one HR scene would have been, Lavarnway made a good decision and stood there ’till he had a strike on him. While (so far) two straight fly-ball outs to medium depth might not be the most exciting debut in the world, I’m sure the Red Sox are pleased that he’s showing some plate discipline instead of hacking away at anything within visual range.

Good to see ‘Tek drive in Stifler in the 2nd; if the Sox are going to make a push into October (or even right the ship during this slump they’re mired in), the backstops are going to need to continue to produce. With Youkilis out for a couple weeks, Scutaro continuing to nurse some injuries, and Ortiz’s heel swelling up like a melon, the bottom third of this formerly vaunted Sox offense suddenly loses some pop. Tonight, 7-8-9 trio is Lavarnway, Varitek, and Aviles, and you better believe that Kansas City is just fine with that combination.

With Butler’s HR, Beckett has allowed a longball in eight of his last ten starts (11 total). Beckett has absolutely been sharp this year, the the numbers are starting to mount. He’s had trouble with that in the past (36 in 2006), but a bunch of those were solo shots. Hopefully this is an aberration rather than signs of what’s to come.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tried to quench some of the fires starting to pop up about Adrian Gonzalez today in a post about the Sox recent skid. A-Gon is not a career .350 hitter, and PETCO park’s cavernous dimesions notwithstanding a move to Fenway wasn’t going to raise his career batting average 70 points. It is somewhat unnerving that he’s only hit 18 home runs this year, but 92 RBI’s and gold-glove defense at first on a .340+ hitter is something I’ll take every day.

I’m tired so this is going to be brief, but I’d like to say hello to Chuck Knoblauch who, after I made reference to him in my last post, is now following me on Twitter. I always knew you had good taste, Charles.

Jim Thome – 600 Home Runs and the Odd Man Out?

In 1998, I was too young to really notice that Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were three times the size of a normal adult male. Still wrapped in the secure blanket of awe, I remember precisely where I was when McGuire hit number 62; one of, if not the singular moment in my life I with which I have prefect recall.

If you were wondering, I was in fifth grade, and at the time I was working on a project my teacher had called the “me-mobile”, wherein I was to construct a balsa wood and fishing line structure which truly encapsulated the essence of “me”. Ironically, I was painting red stitches on a small Styrofoam ball to mimic a baseball. True story.

So it was a crushing but not entirely unexpected plummet to reality when, in late 2007, a Senator from Maine released the self-titled “Mitchell Report”, naming names and officially bringing into question the past 15 years of Major League Baseball accolades. Most of my conscious, poignant memories of America”s Game suddenly seemed cheapened and obsolete; sure, Roger Clemens struck out 20 in a game, and did it twice, but he (“allegedly”) took injections of Vitamin-HGH and Steroidocine between starts.

Not that the writing wasn’t on the wall. It wasn’t the technological improvements in super-aerodynamic wooden bat technology that caused an embarrassment of riches across all offensive categories; ballplayers were taking Greenies, Red-Tops, Lemonheads and Mike-and-Ikes if if meant an extra 20 points on their batting average and two home runs.

Oh, that and horse steroids. Those helped too.

In all seriousness, though, how can we evaluate baseball over the last two decades? SABRE-ologists have indeed made viable inroads in the field of player evaluation, leveling the playing field between monster stats in one area and overwhelmingly more complete players in another. But there are certain benchmarks which are going to present a difficult problem to Hall of Fame voters in the near future.

My whole internal debate was piqued tonight after I accidentally surfed onto ESPN2 just as Jim Thome launched the 600th home run of his career, and 2nd of the night. Kudos to Thome who, by all reports, is as Gomer-Pyle nice as he seems. 600 home runs is 596 more than I hit in my life, so if I had a vote to cast he’d be a first-ballot Hall of Famer without much debate. 600 home runs should seem an automatic entry, but a closer look at the eight-man club serves to highlight how pervasive an issue steroids have been over the past 20 years.

In order, the 600 home run club is the following;

  1. Bonds — 762 HR, can flex his forehead
  2. Aaron — 755 HR, still doesn’t know the name of the fan who accosted him after 715
  3. Ruth — 714 HR, quite possibly the least healthy human being, ever
  4. Mays — 660 HR, Say Hey! Maybe the best player ever with Cobb, Williams, Mantle, etc
  5. Griffey — 630 HR, revolutionized wearing a hat backwards.
  6. A-Rod — 626 HR, dated Madonna and Cameron Diaz, who overnight took on physiques of  MMA fighters. Can ‘roids have a contact-high effect?
  7. Sosa — 609 HR, the man corked his bat. Does that even work?
  8. Thome — 600 HR, most applicable adjective is “Galoomph” when describing him.

Of that list, Ruth, Aaron, and Mays are already in Cooperstown, with Griffey’s stats indicating he’ll follow whenever he’s eligible. Bonds, A-Rod and Sosa all have had ties to performance-enhancing drugs (or corks), and as such will have their credentials called into question. So, of the five players who reached the 600 HR plateau post-2007, three are anything but locks for the Hall.

To put things in perspective, there are 24 players in MLB history who have hit 500 home runs.

28 players have amassed 3000 hits, which is seen as a threshold for enshrinement.

So, the question I pose now is this; is Jim Thome bound for a bronzed plaque in baseball’s Valhalla?

Thome: .277/.403/.557, 600 HR, 1657 RBI, 2260 hits

Griffey: .284/.370/.538, 630 HR, 1836 RBI, 2781 hits

Just as another means for comparison, Thome’s career WAR is 70.8, while KG JR’s was 78.5 (WAR is a measure of the number of wins a player added as compared to a distinctly average player at the same position).

My prediction? Thome’s likeness will find immortality in an Indians cap the first year he’s eligible. While the 600 home-run club comes along with an hefty dose of skepticism following the indelible mark that was the steroid era, Thome has never been implicated in any wrongdoing. While he might not have accumulated the hit totals present with the majority of candidates (Andre Dawson, a borderline HOF’er, had 500 more hits than Thome), MLB needs a clean, controversy-free player to follow Griffey into the hall, if only to re-affirm the integrity of the game.

Plus, he’s just such a galoomph.

Sox/Mariners – August 13th

As a committed and diligent amateur reporter for the Boston Red Sox, tonight I’ll be providing live-updates of their game tonight against Seattle.

Translation: last night’s activities caused me to wake up and vow never to do them again. I have to honor that commitment for at least one evening, if only to assuage my guilt.

So as with everything, this will be an evolving process. I can’t imagine this will be the only time I either decide voluntarily to do real-time updates or have some assuage-ing to do, so hopefully a system will emerge and the end result will be clean.

So, enjoy. If you’re reading this feel free to leave any suggestions/hate-mail in the comments. I’ll be updating periodically throughout, ideally each half inning.

——————————–

Saturday 8/13 — Red Sox @ Seattle

So, that wasn’t ideal. If you made it through all that, congrats. If you didn’t, I don’t blame you, because it was way too long.

______

Top of the 9th: 1, 2, 3. The Sox didn’t even make League sweat during his short inning of work.

5-4  Seattle, Bottom of the 8th: Morales and Aceves combine to shut the Mariners down in the 8th, leaving just a one-run hurdle for the top of the ninth. Brandon League in to try and close it out for the Mariners. Keep in mind, this is the same team that just recently lost about 35 games in a row. Chip and a chair.

5-4 Seattle, Top of the 8th: Another GIDP for the Red Sox, as Gonzalez’s single is erased when Pedroia’s ground ball up the middle is stabbed by Jamey Wright who turns the 1-6-3 double play. Ortiz then hit a ball almost as hard as the one some kid launched off me during my freshman year of high school, but unfortunately Ortiz’s ended up foul. The ball hit off me, by the way, went at least 450 feet. Our center fielder turned and sprinted directly away from home plate and the ball still landed well over his head.

But I digress. Ortiz walked and was lifted for McDonald as a pinch runner. On a 2-0 count, after staring down at third for a sign, Reddick took a pitch and McDonald left for 2nd. The throw seemed was online, and McDonald got called out. He chirped for a bit, but left back to the dugout without much protest. The replays showed it was the right call.

5-4 Seattle, Bottom of the 7th: Albers struck out Ichiro and Gutierrez in short succession, before he was yanked in favor of Franklin Morales. Excellent outing for Albers, 1.2 innings with 3 strikeouts and no walks. He was perfect save for an infield single. Morales froze Ackley with a fastball to end the inning.

This game has been boring outside of the bottom of the first and the top of the 6th. I’ve got a good feeling about this half inning, though.

5-4 Seattle, Top of the 7th: Ellsbury reached for the third time tonight, but Crawford bounced into an unlucky double play as Ackley was headed to cover 2nd when Ellsbury took off. One of those nights for the Red Sox, and time is running out to mount that comeback.

5-4 Seattle, Bottom of the 6th: Albers in for Beckett, who threw four good innings and one awful one. Albers allowed an infield single on another questionable decision by Mike Aviles, but escaped otherwise unscathed. The way he carries himself on the mound sort of makes him look like a fatter version of Josh Beckett. Food for thought.

5-4 Seattle, Top of the 6th: That’s more like it. The official scorer for tonight’s game, apparently determined not to dish out any errors, credited Marco Scutaro with a triple on a ball that Casper Wells should have caught in left. The error/triple proved immediately costly, as Ellsbury launched his 20th home run of the season, a two run shot about ten rows back in right. Ells becomes the first 20/20 player for the Sox since Nomar. Crawford followed up with solid contact, but Gutierrez tracked it down in center. With the shift on and mired in a power slump, Adrian Gonzalez fooled everyone by bunting a ball to the vacated area on the left side of the infield for a single. That set the stage for Dustin Pedroia, who went with a pitch away for the 2nd 2-run home run of the inning.

Ortiz hit a ball physically through Carp at first, defying physics, logic, and the shift. Reddick K’ed, and while Aviles ripped a single to right, ‘Tek ended the inning when he lined out to 2nd.

One note: Josh Reddick has done a tremendous job as the every-day right fielder this year, but he really needs to work on pitch recognition and selection. Scouts have noticed that he struggles against anything with a bend to it, and it’s showing. That being said, he’s hitting above .300 still, and last night he hit a home run the landed in Vancouver, so what do I know, right?

5-0 Seattle, Bottom of the 5th: Wilson “doubled” past Aviles down the line to left, but the Sox third baseman didn’t exactly put a particularly athletic effort into his fielding attempt. After Ichiro struck out on Beckett’s best curve of the night, Aviles misplayed another ball he should have charged, allowing Gutierrez an infield single. Beckett struck out Ackley and then walked Carp, loading the bases for Wily Mo Pena.

Wily Mo did what Wily Mo does; he swung as hard as he possibly could as a few pitches, didn’t come close to making contact, and stuck out. Becket out of a bases-loaded jam, and the deficit holds at 5.

5-0 Seattle, Top of the 5th: Ortiz walked, but Reddick, Aviles, and Varitek all had a competition to display the most futile way to record an out. Varitek won, FYI.

5-0 Seattle, Bottom of the 4th:  Nothing happening for Seattle as Beckett is back to looking like a starter who doesn’t give up five runs to a group of guys batting .200 as a team. Wells struck out looking, Josh Bard flew out to right, and Rodriguez grounded out unassisted to first.

Can someone please give Josh Bard a concussion test? Seriously how is he alive.

5-0 Seattle, Top of the 4th: Update from the last inning before I go any further: Ackley grounded out to first with Beckett covering. Now, wasn’t that exciting?

Rough inning for Hernandez; after getting ahead of Ellsbury 0-2, he walked him and promptly sent him to 2nd on a throwing error. Crawford bounced a ball over the mound, and again Hernandez’s brain farted up on him when he wasn’t sure which base to throw to. Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to Carp at first, and then things got a little dicey. With one out and Ellsbury on third, Pedroia sent a fly ball to medium depth in right. Ichiro, who still has one of the best arms in baseball, settled under it and fired an absolute beam to the plate, clearly ahead of Ellsbury. After a heavy collision at the plate, in which Josh Bard probably shouldn’t have survived, the umpire initially called Ellsbury safe when, after a solid five seconds, Josh Bard’s completely unconscious body dropped the baseball.

Hernandez was not happy. Then the umpires thought about it for a moment, and reversed the call. This made Francona unhappy.

Terry will now be watching the remainder of the game from the clubhouse. Ellsbury, though, was clearly out.

5-0 Seattle, Bottom of the 3rd: Dustin Ackley did something, but it happened really quickly and I was in the kitchen getting something to eat. He’s not on base, though, so I can say with certainty that he’s out. I was back in time to see Beckett strike out Mike Carp on a high fastball, and Orsillo and Remy just stole my thunder about Beckett’s curveball. He got caught in the first inning with a couple lazy fastballs and seeing-eye grounders, but his curveball looks sharp.

Heidi Watney (Heidi, I’m single. Call me!) did an in-game piece where she said that Pena, now 29, considers himself a “smarter hitter” at this state of his career. That’s good, but he really couldn’t digress too far to begin with.

5-0 Seattle, Top of the 3rd: Mike Aviles sent a scorching bullet down the third base line for the Sox first baserunner of the night. In actuality, it was a little nub that ended up about 40 feet up the line. Beggars can’t be choosers. Varitek quickly bounced into what should have been a double play but for a poor throw by Wilson that Hernandez wasn’t able to scoop. Scutaro obliged and gave Seattle another chance to turn the twin killing, and this time they managed to get it right.  Unconventional, but another three up, three down for Hernandez.

When the bottom third of our order is Aviles, Varitek, and Scutaro, the top six need to put it into overdrive. Or at least shift out of park.

5-0 Seattle, Bottom of the 2nd: Josh Beckett shouldn’t buy a lottery ticket tonight. On a good pitch low and on the outside edge of the plate, Jack Wilson reached out and landed an accident just in front of Reddick in right. Stifler Reddick looked like he might have had a play on it if he’d laid out, but that’s significantly easier for me to say from a laptop in my TV room than it would be in real life. Ichiro erased Wilson’s single when he sawed his bat off into a 3-6-3 double play. Gutierrez ended the inning on a crisp play by Scutaro.

So now I’m sitting here muttering “noonan” at the TV on each of Hernandez’s pitches. Helluva Saturday, folks.

5-0 Seattle, Top of the 2nd: Pedroia, likely the shortest cleanup hitter in MLB history, led off with a foul pop handled by Carp at first. After Ortiz didn’t hit a home run as I predict he will four out of five times he’s at bat, Reddick grounded out 6-3. Six up, six down for Boston.

5-0 Seattle, Bottom of the 1st: Josh Beckett, having easily his best season since 2007, grooved a first-pitch fastball to Ichiro, gambling that he wouldn’t swing. He swung, and some fan 560 feet from the plate ended up with a surprised look and a souvenir baseball. The homer was just Ichiro’s 2nd of the season, and after one pitch the Sox found themselves sitting in a one-run hole. Gutierrez followed with a single to left, Ackley a double over Reddick’s head in right, and Mike Carp brought both in with another single to right. Wily Mo Pena, who struck out approximately 600% of the time during his tenure with the Red Sox, managed to fly out to center. Casper “Almost as pale as the Ghost” Wells took out his frustration for being traded for a guy named “Fister”, and launched another fastball out over the wall in left-center. Josh Bard, another former Sox cog, struck out looking on a nasty curveball. Mercifully, Luis Rodriguez squibbed out to the pitcher to end the inning.

In a 5-0 hole against the reigning Cy Young award winner. Glad I chose such a delightful game to liveblog.

No score, Top of the 1st: Ellsbury got jammed by a good slider from Felix Hernandez, breaking his bat and popping out to short. Crawford, hitting 2nd in place of Pedroia who took Youk’s spot in cleanup, sent a ground ball towards center, but Dustin Ackley quickly collected and threw to first for the out. Gonzalez, who thankfully took a break from filming terrible Dunkin Donuts commercials, made solid contact with a fastball down, but hit it directly at Gutierrez in center. 1-2-3 for the Sox; Beckett in to face Ichiro.

Pregame (9:57 PM): Not much stirring for the Sox, though Youkilis is out of the lineup again due to a case of “general soreness”. As my father astutely pointed out, Youkilis fouls a ball off his left leg at the very least once per game, so the fact that he’s sore isn’t particularly surprising. Also, according to the Boston Globe, J. D. Drew has begun his rehabilitation from a shoulder injury. Can you hear that noise? That’s the masses rejoicing.

Or was it a yawn? Actually I think it was a yawn. Take your time, J.D.

Getaway Thursdays

There aren’t too many days during the regular season that a baseball fan has to sit back in quiet reflection without that annoying distraction of nine innings of baseball. Today is one of those days. The hometown nine dropped the series-sweeping game in Minnesota last night, with Jon Lester playing the martyr for a beleaguered Red Sox bullpen. In a game where all of the top three out of the bullpen (Albers, Bard, and Papelbon) were unavailable, Francona decided a running-on-fumes Lester was a more viable option than a clearly rested and refreshed Randy Williams.

With all due respect to the career minor-league nomad, I’d tend to agree. Williams has done admirably thus far in his tenure with the big club, but Jon Lester remains one of the top arms in the American League.

So, as with most things I approve us, Tito’s decision blew up in his face. Lester,  clearly gassed, walked his fifth of the night, and the Twins tacked on some insurance off Aceves to take the final game 5.2. On the plus side, Aceves didn’t balk. So we’ve got that going for us.

But, with the dearth of news to report on today, I thought I’d take a look back at one of the less heralded moves of the 2010 trade deadline– the acquisition of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty was a centerpiece of a deal that sent Mark Texiera to the Braves back in 2007,and was advertised as a switching hitting catcher with a huge frame and a high power ceiling, but limited defensive abilities. His tenure in Texas was spent in direct competition with Taylor Teagarden, which should have won awards for the two most ridiculous last names in baseball at the time. Eventually the pair split time with Gerald Laird, whose most notable characteristic is that he is quite slow.

Saltalamacchia eventually was relegated to the minors, however, when he began suffering from what those in the quasi-medical profession refer to as the  “Knoblauch Syndrome”. For those unfamiliar with the diseases’ symptoms, please refer to former Yankees and Twins 2nd basemen who, hilariously, almost overnight forgot how to throw the ball to first. These weren’t ordinary misses, either; some of the mortar shots he fired off ended dozens of rows back, causing severe physical and psychological damage to shoe in its path**

Anyway, Jarrod was sent back down to the minors because he was having a whole lot of trouble getting the ball back to the pitcher without having to have the shortstop field a one hopper first. Additionally, his power ceiling, long the light at the end of the sub-par defensive tunnel, had failed to reach its true potential. As such, amongst a flurry of activity on July 31st was a small report that Ranger AAA catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchi had been traded to the Boston Red Sox for three minor leaguers; Roman Mendez, Chris McGuiness, and “some other guy” (PTBNL  or cash).

At the time, few thought much of the deal. Salty, a castoff from the Rangers shelved in the minors, hadn’t lived up to his much-hyped fanfare, and was a middling prospect at best. Of the three players the Sox parted ways with, one’s most notable trait is that his first name spelled backward is almost Nomar, and the others is that his last name couldn’t be more Irish if he’d painted it green, white, and orange. All in all, a deadline dominated by Cliff Lee and Dan Haren left Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fly to Boston free from additional pressure and expectations.

Now, just over a year later, the Red Sox seem to have tapped into that reservoir of talent that had eluded teams for so long with Saltalamacchia. Splitting time with the “ionic” Jason Varitek, #39 has appeared in 73 games for the Red Sox, and in 270 plate appearances has hit at a .253/.319/.469 clip, with 11 homers and 38 RBI’s. His .788 OPS ranks sixth amongst AL catchers, and, when combined with Varitek’s stats, Red Sox backstops have produced nearly as well as any in the league. On top of that, Saltalamacchia has cut down runners with respectable efficiency (a hair over 30%), admirable considering a number of his starts find him on the receiving end of one of the best knuckleballs in league history.

The spare parts we shipped to Arlington in the deal have had distinctly divergent paths. Mendez, a right-handed starter for Texas’ A-Ball affiliate, is 9-1 with a 3.42 ERA and nearly a 4:1 K/bb ratio, which is truly quite impressive for a 21 year-old. McGuiness, however, just has a cool name. He’s batting just a Werth-ian .218 on the year, with one longball in 200 PAs. He’s striking out nearly twice as much as he walks, and that pretty much the opposite of what you’re supposed to do in baseball.

Suffice it to say, the Red Sox may have found a catcher in the rye (my apologies to Mr. Salinger) with Saltalamacchia. With Ryan Lavarnway just putting up ridiculous numbers between Portland and Pawtucket this year, we may see two young, power-happy catchers manning the plate for years to come.

Also, we’d move seamlessly from “SaltyTek” to “Lavarnamacchia”, which would be just fine with me.

 

If you use twitter, you should follow me @ShopAtMartland. I won’t tweet about baseball all the time, but when I do, it’s Dos Equis. Wait, what?

 

**events described herein may not be entirely accurate. Or even remotely accurate.

Welcome to the Big Leagues

And so begins a foray into the world of having a legitimate website. One night after learned that Tim McLelland obviously has some not-so-subliminal issues with Eric Bedard and the strike zone he deserves, Lansdowne Daily is born. For anyone who has read anything of mine in the past, welcome, and I sincerely hope you like hearing about baseball. For those newcomers who took time to pry their nose away from a Bill James fielding bible, don’t expect to see overtures about UZR, VORP, or really any other Sabermetric porn here. To be honest, handling operations above addition and (limited) subtraction makes me sweat.

With that said, baseball is convenient in that it lends itself to painfully excruciating analysis on a daily basis. While I might often replace “analysis” with “baseless hyperbole” with alarming frequency, at the very least the abundance of activity from Spring Training through the end of October will keep it fresh.

The overwhelming majority of the topics presented here will relate to and focus primarily on the Boston Red Sox, as domain name itself implies. Other teams and events around the league won’t be eschewed completely, but if you’re here looking for some nitty gritty about the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, a Royals minor league affiliate, you’re plain in the wrong place.

Additionally, if you’re looking for in-depth information on the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and you’re not blood-related to a player on that team, you have a serious mental condition requiring immediate medical attention.

In addition to the be-all and end-all of sports news that is ESPN.com, I’ll make use of and reference to a number of other baseball resources which you should all follow as well. MLBTradeRumors.com has become a source where occasionally players themselves learn they’ve been dealt, and Tim Dierkes has amassed quite possibly the most cohesive baseball resource on the internet. Cot’s Baseball Contracts (http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/) is where I’ll by citing most of my contractual tidbits from, as I discuss both existing albatross deals (Vernon Wells) and incorrectly hypothesize about extensions for superstars on the rise. BaseballReference.com makes an appearance as well, because making exactly sure what Tim Nearing’s career OPS was — .785 — is clearly vitally important.

That’s all for the time being; it’s been too hectic a day to say a whole lot more. I’m going to try to work out how to link up Facebook and Twitter and whatever else helps get the word out in the near future, but feel free to spread the Good Word. Also, if you or someone you know feels like helping make this look more original, rather than a stock theme I clicked ‘apply’ on, feel free.