Monday, January 12, 2009

Jim Rice makes it to Cooperstown

I said last year that I'd be happy to see Jim Rice make it in, but I thought he was one of those "just shy guys", and that both Dwight Evans and Andre Dawson were more deserving. I stand by what I said, but I also remain very happy for Rice that he finally made it, on his last year of eligibility.

Rickey Henderson, of course, was a no-brainer, as much as Tom Seaver, Cal Ripken, Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Bob Gibson. Henderson was not only the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, he redefined the position. Sure, he could be an annoying showboat, but as the saying goes, "it ain't bragging if you can back it up", and Henderson always did. He got in on the first ballot, as he should have.

Here's what I don't understand and never did:
Why did Rice have to wait 15 years? If he was deserving this year, he was deserving last year, too, and in fact he was deserving on his first year of eligibility. Rice didn't get any more hits, RBI or homers between his last game on August 3, 1989 and today. His statistics were the same that day, just as they were when he was eligible in 1994 (and didn't come close to induction) as they are now. Either the guy's a Hall of Famer or he's not. Exactly how could a voter look at the same guy, with the same stats, the same history and the same strengths and weaknesses, and say "he's not a hall of famer, sorry", do that again year after year after year, and then suddenly decide at the proverbial last minute "Ok, NOW he deserves to be inducted".

I have a little trouble with voters who don't have the courage of their convictions.

Then there are the guys with BETTER numbers, who don't get voted in until later (or possibly never). Candidate #1 is Mr. Andre Dawson. Again, I don't begrudge Rice his plaque, I'm just saying I can't understand why Rice is going to be in Cooperstown while Dawson still isn't. Candidate #2 is, of course, Dwight Evans, who won't ever get in, unless the veterans committee does the right thing some years from now.

In any case, congratulations to Jim Rice. After he's inducted, the next thing that should happen is his #14 should be retired on Fenway's right field facade, alongside Bobby Doerr, Joe Cronin, Johnny Pesky, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Carlton Fisk and Jackie Robinson. That'll be a great ceremony, even better than the one in Cooperstown next summer.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Give me your tired, your poor...

2008 statistics

Pitcher 1      45 appearances, 47 innings, 4 wins, 4 losses, 18 saves 2.49 ERA, on the Disabled List for 2 months with a partially torn elbow tendon.

Pitcher 2      6 appearances, 28 innings, 3 wins, 2 losses, 2.57 ERA, on the Disabled List after June 2, due to shoulder surgery

Pitcher 3      19 appearances, 94 2/3 innings, 6 wins, 9 losses, 6.27 ERA, on the Disabled List for two months with shoulder tendonitis and bursitis

Player 4      28 games, 80 at bats, 4 HR, 14 RBI, .263 BA, .344 OBP, on the disabled list from the beginning of the season to the beginning of August with a mitochondrial disorder

Player 5      57 games, 178 at bats, 1 HR, 16 RBI, .202 BA, .279 OBP, on the disabled list 3 times for a total of 3 months with sprained left ankle and right triceps

Those are the players signed by the Red Sox since they lost out on Mark Teixiera at Christmas. None of them were worth a damn at any point last year, and all of them were signed for peanuts, in the desperate hope that Boston will have signed five nominees for comeback player of the year. Can you guess who’s who?

Pitcher 1 is former Dodgers’ closer Takashi Saito, who will be a setup guy, along with Justin Masterson, Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima. Saito saved 39 games in 2007, but the Dodgers cut him loose this winter after his elbow literally fell apart last year. We now have three Japanese pitchers. Don’t tell ME that Boston is a prejudiced, xenophobic town!

Pitcher 2 is future Hall of Famer John Smoltz, who’s been signed as the 6th (or 7th ) starter. He turns 42 on May 15. He’s faced over 14,000 hitters in his career (400 more than Dennis Eckersley), has started 466 games (30 more than Curt Schilling) and has 13 more career saves than Mike Timlin. He’s my favorite pitcher ever to wear #29, though he’ll have to buy it from hitting coach Dave Magadan if he’s going to have that uniform number with the Red Sox. They don’t even expect Smoltzie to appear until at least the end of May, possibly later. That’s ok, though. They don’t need him right away, because they also signed…..

Pitcher 3: Brad Penny. He started the 2007 All Star game for the Dodgers, and went on to win the National League Cy Young Award with a 16-4 record. Last year his shoulder gave out, and it remains 6-5 and pick ‘em whether or not Penny actually has anything left in the tank or if 2008 was the beginning of the end.

Meanwhile, Player 4 is prodigal son Rocco Baldelli. Three or four years ago, Baldelli was the next Carl Yastrzemski, Torii Hunter or Mickey Mantle, only in an ugly Rays uniform. He could do it all: hit triples, homers, move runners over, knock them in, and run down everything hit to any field. Then he got hurt and stayed hurt. A hamstring injury became chronic fatigue, which then became a mitochondrial disorder, and now, according to Mass General Hospital, something called “channelopathy”, which I suppose means either his CBS, his A&E or his HBO are sick. We have good service from both Verizon and Comcast here in Boston, so Baldelli should be all better now. And he’s from Woonsocket, which gives us our token Local Boy. This means we finally have a replacement for Brian Daubach and Lou Merloni.

Player 5 is Josh Bard, the pivotal 9th string catcher. It’s important to have that key guy on your roster who can hit .202 and let by dozens of passed balls.

We still don’t have a first string catcher or a proven, dependable shortstop. However, we now have five guys who spent a combined 15 months on the disabled list last year. Remember, this is adding to a roster that ALREADY includes JD Drew, Julio Lugo, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. Those four guys combined for close to nine months on the DL during the 2008 season. Damn, I’m excited about 2009, aren’t you?