40 Days until Pitchers & Catchers

Happy January 2nd! The first day of your New Year's Resolutions, after maximum relaxation on January 1st! 

courtesy New York Times. Used without permission.

courtesy New York Times. Used without permission.

 

Royce Clayton was born on January 2nd, 1970. He played 17 seasons with 11 different teams, including 7 different teams in his final 5 seasons. The last eight games of his career, in 2007, were spent with the Boston Red Sox. In his first game with the Red Sox, he scored a run in an eventual one run game. He didn't score a run, or drive in a run in any of his other appearances. For his contributions, he was awarded a World Series ring. Not too shabby!

After 17 big league seasons, I'm sure Royce Clayton was just happy to have a chance to play on a World Series team. 8 game or zero games. 1 run or no runs. It doesn't really matter. You could argue that without the run he scored, the Red Sox play extras, end up effecting the rest of the season. Maybe it causes more losses. Maybe they don't win the division. So, 1 run is worth the ring. 8 games is worth the ticket to the duck boat parade.

 

 

41 Days Until Pitchers & Catchers

Happy New Year! We are 41 days from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training camp for the Boston Red Sox. 

ts41

Tom Seaver wore 41 during his entire career, so it seemed appropriate to kick off the countdown with one of the greatest to wear the number. He wasn't the greatest to wear 41 for the Boston Red Sox(arguably John Lackey owns that title, though the competition is thin), but he gave it the ol' college try. 

Seaver's lone half season with the Red Sox, and his final in the big leagues, was respectable, but a knee injury prevented him was facing the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series. When Seaver's season started, he thought he might end up with the Mets, but that didn't work out. Imagine his luck when the team he did get moved to, faced his old club. 

As we closed the book on 2016, it seems everybody is looking forward to 2017. Maybe 2017 will be like Tom Terrific's last season. Solid, with a couple unexpected turns. We could all benefit from such a season. 

What's Happening To The Red Sox?

On August 18th, the Red Sox announced Dave Dombrowski as the president of baseball operations. The Saturday prior to that, Red Sox owner John Henry told Ben Cherington that the team was talking to Dombrowski. 

Although announced today by NESN that play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo would be replaced next season by Dave O'Brien, Orsillo was first told about 10 days ago. 10 days ago is right about the same time Dombrowski was agreeing to join the Red Sox.

Obviously Dombrowski isn't involved in this, but it's really interesting that both of these things were decided within about 24 hours of each other. 

So here's a conspiracy theory; John Henry and co. are selling the team. By bringing in Dombrowski, a known commodity to do well with trades, he can take a fully stock minor league system and improve the team without totally sacrificing the talent they've acquired and home grown in the minors. Ideally a strong showing in 2016 showcases the franchise and Henry and co. pass the team over to another owner. Dombrowski sticks around as long as ownership remains, but moves on when the sale is complete.

How does Orsillo play into this? By removing a well liked fan favorite like Orsillo, it allows a future owner to handpick their own talent, without creating any negative light right away. 

It's a stretch, but is it really? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Game 51 vs. Texas Rangers:Ila Borders

Ila Borders never played for the Boston Red Sox or the Texas Rangers. She never played with a team linked to Major League Baseball. She did, however, play parts of four seasons with independent league baseball teams. On this day in 1997, Ila Borders made her professional debut with the St. Paul Saints, becoming one of the first woman to play in integrated men's baseball. Toni Stone and several other women played in the negro leagues. 

Though Borders never played on a major league team, she did play with several former major leaguers. Esteban Beltre is the only former teammate to have played with the Red Sox, Rangers, and Saints while Ila Borders was a teammate. Perhaps her most famous teammate was JD Drew, who at the time was holding out for a larger signing bonus with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Ila Borders struggled through much of her brief career to find consistency to her pitching style. It wasn't until her third season that she found some semblance of success. Using an approach where she consistently threw three innings per start, she had a 1.67 ERA over 15 games. Her success didn't translate into looks from big league clubs, and she decided to retire during the 2000 season.

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of talk about various Red Sox players finding ways to improve their game. Whether video hitting coach Dustin Pedroia helps out Mike Napoli and Hanley Ramirez, or David Ortiz takes a few days off to work on his swing, it seems the entire team is looking for ways to improve their game. 

You have to wonder if one of Ila Borders teammates with MLB experience chimed in with support on how her career could improve, or just ways to make things stick a bit better. Chances are it was a combination of things. Since we're allowed to think outside the box, I'm going to go out on a limb and say the pitching staff rallied around the first female in modern day baseball to find ways to keep her career going. Just like I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Red Sox are having team meetings to sort out how they can right the ship before it's too late. 

Game 50 vs. Texas Rangers: Ron Mahay

The Boston Red Sox continue their slide into obscurity, and they are now 3-7 in their last 10 games. Eduardo Rodriguez is a pleasant surprise, but right now the team needs four more of him. That, and they need an offense to match when the pitching is going right. It's like they've been thisclose to putting things together. It seems every other day the Red Sox are losing games 6-2 or winning 7-3. 

Dustin Pedroia has reportedly helped Mike Napoli and Hanley Ramirez with minor tweaks to their hitting that has resulted in immediate changes. Big Papi took a few days off to work on his swing, and returns tonight, hopeful of seeing changes. 

Ron Mahay is the poster boy of making changes that impacted his career and the success of the teams he played on. He was drafted as an outfielder, and after a brief stint in the big leagues as an outfielder, he opted to change his ways and became a pitcher. He spent an entire offseason pitching in Australia, crafting his transition to being a full time pitcher. The results were a fourteen year career with the Red Sox, Rangers, and six other teams. 

The connection here is that perhaps the Red Sox need a little more time to get things together. The AL East is still wide open. That seems to be a theme of the last ten posts or so. It's also very likely that I'm holding out hope that 2015 isn't quickly becoming an also-ran year much like 2014 was. As we've seen with the previous World Series runs, regular dominant rotation cycles is the key to a championship. Timely hitting as well. Neither seem to be happening right now. 

Perhaps the ghost of Ron Mahay success will help turn things. 

Game 49 vs. Texas Rangers: Justin Germano

Eduardo Rodriguez became youngest Red Sox pitcher to win his major league debut on the road since Billy Rohr of the 1967 Red Sox. He though 7.2 scoreless innings and struck out seven. It's hard not to consider the ramifications this could have of the rest of the season if it turns out that Rodriguez is a legit starting option.

It's hard to guess the path of a player's future. Just ask Justin Germano. If Germano gets into a game with the Seattle Mariners this season, it will be his 8th team in 10 seasons. Germano appeared in just one game for the Red Sox, and had two appearances as a Texas Ranger. He's had equally brief stops at the major league level with the Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds. You really just need to check out his B-Ref page

For what it's worth, Germano was awesome in his one Red Sox appearance. In the lost season of 2012, in a meaningless game against the New York Yankees, Germano shut down the Yanks after entering the game with a deficit. The Red Sox never dug out, but it wasn't because Germano didn't pick them up. For one magical day, he was lights out in the Red Sox / Yankees rivalry.

It's impossible to say whether Eduardo Rodriguez has a big future ahead of him, or if he'll have something like today's starter, Steven Wright. Wright is looking for his second career victory in his fifth career start..while being 8 years older than Eduardo Rodriguez. 

The hope here is Wright and Rodriguez end up becoming lightning in the bottle that helps turn things around for the 2015 Red Sox. 

Game 48 vs. Texas Rangers: Gabe Kapler

First, a few things about May 28th.

On May 28th, 2013, the Red Sox were 32-21, in first place, and had Ryan Dempster pitching. Dempster lost, but pitched well enough to win by allowing 2 runs over 7 innings.

On May 28th, 2007, the Red Sox were 35-15, in first place, and had Curt Schilling pitching. It was vintage Schilling. 7 innings, 1 run, 10 strikeouts.

On May 28th, 2004, the Red Sox were 30-18, in first place, and had Pedro Martinez pitching. He wasn't vintage but he was efficient, throwing 7 innings and striking out 9, though he allowed 4 runs.

No recent Red Sox team has won a World Series with a record below .500 as of May 28th on any given season. The 1967 Impossible Dream reached the World Series, but they were only a single game below .500 on May 28th that year.

That being said, it's still too early to completely count out the 2015 Boston Red Sox.  Highly touted prospect Eduado Rodriguez takes the mound tonight. Over the course of 100 minor league starts, Rodriguez has an ERA of 3.23. He currently has a 2.98 ERA with the Pawtucket Red Sox, and has a complete game to go along with 8 starts. If he has a solid outing, it could turn things around for the Red Sox.

Eduardo Rodriguez joins a long line of players to join the Red Sox at a time when the team is looking for a spark. Around the same time in 2003, Shea Hillenbrand was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for closer Byung-Hyun Kim.

Another trade in 2003 may have helped spark the team as well. A player who has been called Dave Kapler, Gabe The Babe, and he makes women swoon.

Gabe Kapler was acquired at the end of June in 2003. At the time the team was middling through a losing month. In Kapler's first two games, he nearly hit for the cycle in his first game, and homered twice in his second game. It's not clear in the box scores if Kapler had a huge part in the turnaround for the Red Sox, but considering his tenure with the team, it's likely it had some impact. 

As the Red Sox hopes begin to become more questionable, the hope is that Eduardo Rodriguez is the answer that the team needs. Can a rookie suddenly become an ace? Doubtful, but maybe a strong performance inspires the rest of the team.

Game 46 vs. Minnesota Twins: Boof Bonser

Don't fret, Joe Kelly. It can always be worse. Just ask Boof Bonsor. 

The Red Sox acquired Boof Bonser from the Twins in December 2009, and he made exactly two appearances before he was shipped out of town.

On June 9th, in a game between the Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians, Clay Buchholz faced off against Justin Masterson. Justin Masterson threw a complete game 2 hit shut out. Yeah, I'm sure you're thinking, " Wow! Where can we get guys like that--oh, right.". Anyway, Buchholz held his own, giving up just three runs over seven innings. He gave way to Boof Bonser. Boof just had to get through an inning. Hell, a single out might have been nice.

Alas, Boof Bonser started his Red Sox career with an infinity ERA. He entered the game, and promptly gave up a walk, single, walk, and another single before Joe Nelson came on and doused Bonser's smoldering fire with gasoline. Nelson gave up a single, home run, another single, a double and a walk before registering an out. 

Yesterday Joe Kelly had a rough outing, but he can take pride in knowing he is no Boof Bonser. Bonser's second(and final appearance) in a Red Sox uniform started off with 3 singles before recording an out. The Red Sox were already behind ten runs, so mop up duty apparently wasn't an easy thing for Bonsor either. 

The 2010 Red Sox team that featured Boof Bonser won 89 games and finished in third place. With the way the American League East is playing out, 89 wins might just win the division. Only 3.5 games separate first place and fifth place, and the AL East leading Rays are only two games over .500. 

If nothing else, that tells you there is a whole lot more baseball to be played. Hopefully not in the style of Boof Bonser.

Game 45 vs. Minnesota Twins: Tom Brunansky

Everybody knows that David Ortiz is the biggest success story the Red Sox achieved with a former Twin, but as 1990 gets further in the rearview mirror, Tom Brunansky risks being left behind in history. 

Brunansky was a member of the 1987 World Series Champion Minnesota Twins and had heroics that helped the team to their first title since the team had moved to Minnesota. The following year Bruno was shipped out to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he logged two season before he started his last season in St. Louis hitting .158. The Red Sox had a surplus of relief pitching, and shipped Lee Smith to St. Louis in exchange for Tom Brunansky.

Bruno hit well the rest of the way, but his biggest contribution to the 1990 season came at the end of the game that finished the season. The Red Sox needed a victory to secure the AL East title, and they earned that win in a most dramatic fashion. Ozzie Guillen hit a line drive to the far corner of right field. In 1990 there was one camera angle, and it only included a diving Tom Brunansky at the initial moment of catching the ball. Imagine Twitter exploding if there was only one obstructed view camera angle? Here's the clip:

Mike Napoli's resurgence over the last five games or so made me think of Tom Brunansky. Napoli was a member of a few Angels teams that reached the postseason. He was jettisoned prior to the 2011 season, first to the Toronto Blue Jays and then the Texas Rangers a few days later. On the Rangers he helped the team nearly win the franchise's first World Series title. Two years later he helped the Red Sox win the 2013 World Series.

What's the moral of today's story? Maybe these guys, Napoli and company, aren't quite as done as many suggest. Maybe they just need a little more than a quarter of a season to get things sorted out.

Lets hope it continues against the Minnesota Twins.

 

Game 41 vs. Texas Rangers: Doug Mirabelli

The 2015 Red Sox continue to struggle to find their footing and put everything together. The pitching is beginning to come around, and the hitters are getting on base...but they're still not quite figuring everything out yet. They're still struggling to get above .500 and get the victory machine rolling.

The Red Sox have stranded 24 runners on base through the first two games against the Rangers, including 8 in the final 4 innings of last night's game. Simply put, they're missing some umph. Umph isn't even a word, but it's what the Red Sox are missing. They are missing either their mojo, or the sense of urgency, or a simple mentality to get fired up. It's not just this Texas Rangers series, it's the 2015 season. The season of malaise continues.

This in a stark contrast from 10 years ago, when every minor details about the Red Sox roster was ripe with excitement. It peaked with Doug Mirabelli. Up until the point where he was a backup for the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers, there wasn't much to get excited about.

Then he became Tim Wakefield's binky. The man could catch the knuckler like no other, and prevent passed balls and wild pitches like a champ. He became a beloved member of the team by the fans, in a role that otherwise nobody ever notices. His single job became a backdrop for the greatest Day In The Life every created, which centered around Dougie's Going Deep Tonight!

The era of Doug Mirabelli reached its apex on May 1, 2006. The Red Sox had traded Mirabelli to the San Diego Padres for Mark Loretta, and Tim Wakefield struggled mightily without the knuckle whisperer.  On May 1st, Mirabelli was reacquired from the Padres, and Mirabelli received a police escort to Fenway Park in time for Tim Wakefield's start against the New York Yankees. Of course it was the Yankees! This truly was the crazy times of the Red Sox rivalry. The Red Sox won that day, and Mirabelli shored up Wakefield's 2006 season after starting the season with a 1-4 start. 

What does Doug Mirabelli have to do with the 2015 Red Sox? Nobody knows Sandy Leon, nor should they particularly care who Sandy Leon is. He's the backup catcher for the Red Sox, who lost their primary and backup catchers already. Sandy Leon is like the bullpen catcher as far as where he belongs in the depth chart.

The lack of interesting characters wouldn't really mean a lot if the Red Sox were winning. It's only because they're slogging through the season by winning in drips and drabs of victories that there is a focus on the question, "Who are these guys?". 

Their identity hasn't been sorted out yet, and perhaps Sandy Leon is a key to unlocking whatever victorious identity they will have...but currently that's a long shot. Perhaps that'll change. Maybe tonight, Sandy Leon's first start in almost a week, will be the night where things begin to shift.

Game 40 vs. Texas Rangers: Jeff Frye

The Red Sox are entering the first quarter turn of the 2015 season, and there are questions about which direction this team is going. Is David Ortiz old? Is Mike Napoli washed up? What's with this pitching staff? It's almost like they're like a patching staff instead. Patching a win here or there, just hanging on. They just wrapped up their longest road trip with five wins and five losses, and find themselves one victory under .500.

So, what's next? Is Napoli really toast? Is Ortiz just finally old? Napoli and Ortiz went deep last night, and this was after Napoli and Dustin Pedroia had a mid flight heart to heart where Pedroia told Napoli to focus on the stuff he can do, not the stuff he can't.

What was that conversation about? Maybe it was about Jeff Frye defying all odds. Jeff Frye, a guy who missed 2 full seasons and played only 8 seasons at the major league level. What's so special about Jeff Frye? Despite missing key seasons in his career, despite being bumped out of his role by Jose Offerman, despite only hitting 16 career home runs, Jeff Frye was a winner.

What kind of winner? Jeff Frye was at the end of his career when he hit for the cycle as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. A feat as rare as a no hitter, and Jeff Frye locked himself into a list of players that undoubtedly rests somewhere in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Hitting for the cycle is one thing. Hitting for the cycle when you have 16 career home runs in over 2,000 at bats. More than two thirds of Frye's hits were singles. He only had 11 career triples.  

On August 17, 2001, Jeff Frye made history when he hit for the cycle. He only played in six more games after his epic performance. His cycle featured his last major league career home run, double, and triple. He hit five more singles in his remaining games, but he came damn close to hitting for the cycle and dropping the mic. 

How does this all connect to David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, and the 2015 Red Sox? Jeff Frye probably saw that the end was near in 2001. His numbers had decreased, so he made the best of his time and made history on August 17. He was on his way out, but he made a statement that he wasn't done until he decided. 

Chances are, Napoli and Ortiz and the 2015 Red Sox are not done. They have at least a cycle left in them. In ten days we might be laughing off the notion that this year's Red Sox are toast. Hopefully the laughing begins with another win tonight.

Game 39 vs. Texas Rangers: Mike Stanton

Sometimes a player is in the right place at the right time. Mike Stanton is just that player. He found himself on the New York Yankees in 1997, his fourth team in three years. At that point he hadn't quite put it together. Then suddenly everything clicked. It happened to occur at the same time the Yankees launches their epic World Series run between 1998-2000. 

It didn't start out that easy for Stanton. In 1995 he was traded to the Red Sox from the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline. The Braves went on to win their only World Series title that season, while Stanton's Red Sox were swept out of the 1995 ALDS by the Cleveland Indians. Exactly one year later Stanton was traded to the Texas Rangers, a team that was charging towards their first postseason appearance. 

The Texas Rangers had the same fate as Stanton's Red Sox, except they managed to pull out a single victory against the 1996 Yankees in the ALDS series loss. 

It makes sense that Mike Stanton went on to join the Evil Empire. If you can't beat them, you might as well join them.

The Red Sox and Rangers are both struggling to pull themselves above the .500 mark. The Rangers are at least above .500 for the month of May. The Red Sox just reached .500 for the month with their last victory. Of course, the Red Sox did just go 5-5 on a road trip that took them north of the border and then to the west coast. 

Chances are the Red Sox need this series to turn out well for them, as approaching the quarter mark of the season with a middling .500 team isn't going to work out for a full season. At this point, the phrase Small Sample Size begins to wear off. There is some time left, but not a whole helluva lot.

 

Game 38 vs. Seattle Mariners: Robert Petagine

Roberto Petagine had 233 career home runs, three gold gloves, two batting titles, and an MVP award under his belt. He also managed to go almost seven years without a home run at the major league level.

You see, Petagine was a player who logged five mediocre years in MLB before taking his talents to Japan, where he became an offensive juggernaut over the course of six seasons. The Red Sox took a flyer on Petagine prior to the 2005 season, but between ability and injuries, he never duplicated the numbers he displayed in Japan.

Taking a look at Petagine's home run log, it's amazing to consider that he went 2,512 days between MLB home runs. 

Petagine didn't work out for the Red Sox, and he was let go before the 2006 season. The Seattle Mariners took a flyer on Petagine, much like the Sox did, and this time Petagine made sure he didn't go 2,512 days without another home run. His first home run came in his first at bat with Seattle. It was also his final homer with Seattle and at the major league level. 

Petagine returned to Japan for one more season and added 10 homers to his career numbers there. 

The Red Sox and Mariners are both currently under .500, but the Red Sox started the road trip off in last place. They're now in 3rd place. Sure, it doesn't mean a lot at Game #38, but it shows some promise. There is no Roberto Petagine-type player in either lineup today, but Daniel Nava is still searching for his first home run of the season. He's way off from the 2,512 days without a home run, but it'd be a nice thing if he ended his home run drought with a home run or two today.

 

Game 37 vs. Seattle Mariners: Jose Offerman

In November of 1998, the Red Sox officially kicked off the Jose Offerman Era. Mo Vaughn wouldn't re-sign, so the Red Sox went after Offerman. Offerman was great in his first season with the Red Sox. Then, it went downhill, fast.

By 2002 the Red Sox were able to ship Offerman off to the Seattle Mariners as part of a conditional deal. There's not a lot of information to explain what exactly a conditional deal is. It doesn't say the Mariners paid for Offerman. It doesn't say he was a player to be named in an earlier deal. There's nothing, anywhere, to suggest what a conditional deal is.

Maybe the Red Sox sent Offerman to Seattle as a peace offering. A 'sorry' for the bamboozle they pulled with regard to acquiring Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. 

Little did Seattle or Boston know that Offerman's most infamous moments were still ahead of him. Between his assault on another player in an independent league game in Connecticut, and his assault on an umpire in a Dominican Republic winter league game, Offerman has kept himself busy. He apparently has not been to the United States since his bat incident, and only recently had his lifetime ban from the DR winter leagues lifted. Interestingly enough, after his ban was lifted, he went on to be the manager of the DR winter league championship team for the 2013-2014 season.

Hopefully the Mariners and Red Sox can avoid any Offerman inspired violence!

Game 36 vs. Seattle Mariners: Thanks For The Help

Let's just run down a few key acquisitions made by the Red Sox that had some dealings with the Seattle Mariners.

July 31, 1997: Seattle Mariners trade Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to the Boston Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb. 

August 6, 2003: Boston Red Sox pick Mike Myers up off waivers from Seattle Mariners

February 20, 2013: Boston Red Sox purchase Mike Carp from Seattle Mariners

Lowe and Varitek undoubtedly helped the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series. Mike Myers and Mike Carp were more bit players, but I will consider them as additional gifts from the Seattle Mariners.

Sure, the Red Sox sent Jamie Moyer to Seattle in return for Darren Bragg, but the Mariners didn't win a World Series with Jamie Moyer, so arguably the Red Sox have made it out on top of the trade history between the two teams.

Today's a short post, but that's the way it goes!