Friday, December 27, 2013

Different Jersey Number for Xander Bogaerts

The season of Bogaerts is almost upon us and instead of wearing #72, Xander Bogaerts will now be wearing #2. The number is available now that Jacoby Ellsbury has moved on.

#2 is a classic number and you can already start to picture it displayed proudly in right field alongside #1, #4, #6, #8, #9, #14 and #42. Am I getting ahead of myself? Of course I am but Xander sure looks to be special.

All that needs to be done now is to sign Stephen Drew and move Xander over to third base. As I have mentioned before, the best Red Sox team is one in which Drew is at SS and Xander is at third base.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Do These Sox Fit A.J. Pierzynski?

A.J. Pierzysnki wasn't the best decision by the Red Sox but it was much better than signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a multi year deal.

The best option would have been to sign Brian McCann. It was the one move the Yankees got right this offseason.

Living in Braves country I get to see a lot of McCann and he would have been perfect for the Red Sox. He can hit and I believe he will be able to hit through the life of this new contract. When all is said and done, he will be worth the money and then some for the Yankees.

The Red Sox have some young catchers in the system. Christian Martinez and Blake Swihart look to be the future. McCann could have been the perfect bridge. He could have caught for this year and next and then move into the DH role for David Ortiz (assuming Big Papi signs another one year extension and retires). Nobody can replace the impact of Big Papi in the lineup but McCann would be formidable in that role. If I were the GM, I would have went hard after McCann just like I did here in my addicting text sim baseball game.

McCann and the Yankees made a great decision though, Yankee Stadium is made for McCann.

Pierzyski's appeal is he just signed a one year deal. He comes with the baggage of being disliked by teammates though. However, he reportedly turned down two year deals to come to Boston on a one year deal. You like it when guys are eager to play for your organization.

David Ortiz has known AJ since they were teenagers and he has nothing but nice things to say about him. AJ's best friend is Johnny Damon who has gone on record saying he is a great teammate.

Then there is the matter about his actual production and place on the team. He has hist .321 for his career at Fenway Park but has yet to hit a homer. It is the only AL park in which he has not homered. His OBP is particularly impressive and Fenway isn't really suited for his offensive game. Defensively he is aging and average.

Pierzynski is on board with his role of sharing time with David Ross. He feels that cutting back on his games may help his production.

AJ is used to wearing #12 and that is his preferred choice. However, now that Mike Napoli has signed that number is no longer available. Pierzynski instead will wear #40 in honor Ken Harrelson who wore that number when he came to the Red Sox in 1967. Obviously, AJ and Hawk formed a pretty good friendship while AJ was with the White Sox.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Boston Red Sox Need Stephen Drew

All signs point to Stephen Drew returning to the Red Sox. This is great news! It is great news because Stephen Drew at shortstop for the Red Sox makes them a better team in 2014.

It is also great news because I get to fight on twitter with Red Sox fans who think Drew is awful, overpaid and a pussy.

The Drew bashers are a special breed. They are vehement with their hatred of Drew but never seem to have the facts to back up their hatred.

The combination of Drew and Xander Bogaerts on the left side of the infield is much better than the combo of Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks. If you disagree, then you just weren't watching the playoffs last season.

I know Drew slumped in the playoffs with the bat, but he was perfect with the glove and defense is just as important if not more important in the playoffs than the bat. The ALCS should have taught you that as the Tigers lack of defense helped the Red Sox get to the World Series.

The defensive aspect is lost on so many. If you save two runs with your glove, it means the same as hitting a two run double. Are we clear on this?

Then there is Game 3 of the World Series. Middlebrooks entered the game and the crazy inning begins on an infield single that Bogaerts, now at SS, struggled to get to. I love Xander but he is a pretty average defensive SS. Drew makes that play easily. If you disagree, you were not watching the rest of the postseason.

The controversial play to end Game 3 starts of course with the great play by Dustin Pedroia and ends when Middlebrooks is unable to catch the throw from Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Middlebrooks flat out whiffed. Middlebrooks is a very average defensive third baseman. Bogaerts probably makes that play. He appears to have much softer hands and better reaction time on the hot corner than Will.

Let's talk offense, I keep hearing how Drew can't hit. Well, if the Sox sign Drew he will be replacing Middlebrooks in the lineup. So it comes down to who would you rather have, Middlebrooks at third base or Drew at shortstop? Well, if you go by OPS, the nod goes to Drew .777 to .696. So Drew is better offensively and defensively than Middlebrooks.

With Drew in the lineup you get to put Bogaerts at third where he is better defensively than he is at SS. What I am trying to say is that with Drew, the left side of the Red Sox infield becomes better defensively AND offensively. Imagine that!

Let's now talk about the notion that Drew is always hurt. I am sure you have heard this. This is the same thing that followed his brother J.D. Drew, who I also like to defend.

Below is a picture and here is an article from a site that likes to bash Drew.

Let's break this down. His first full season in the majors was 2007 and he appeared in 150 games that year. He followed that up with seasons of 152, 135 and 151 games played. Then in July of 2011, in his 86th game (that's a lot at that point in the season) he broke his ankle. He was out for the rest of that season and missed a lot of time the following season appearing in just 79 games. Then he came to the Red Sox last year and played in 124 games. What a wicked big pussy huh?

Remember J.D. Drew? He was considered a big pussy too and Red Sox fans would long for Trot Nixon. Nixon was tougher after all. He was a dirt dog and just played harder. I love Trot Nixon but he was not as good as Drew. They had similar offensive numbers but even there Drew edges out Trot in OPS .873 to .828. Defensively it is not close. Drew rivals Dwight Evans as the greatest defensive right fielder in Red Sox history. 

As for Trot being tougher and Drew being a pussy? In Drew's five years in Boston he averaged 121 games played. In Trot's last five years in Boston he averaged 114 games played. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Lingering Loss to Tennessee

The Tennessee loss lingers. It may hurt more now than it did when it actually happened and believe me it hurt a ton back then.

As Gamecock fans we are faced with the could haves, the should haves and the might haves. We should have clobbered Tennessee, we could have played for the SEC title and we might have been playing for the national title. Let that sink in for a bit, how do you feel? Yeah, I feel sick to my stomach too.

Let’s be realistic, Auburn would have been a very tough team to beat in the SEC title game. I would like to think our defense could shut down their one dimensional offense, but Alabama couldn’t do it, so more than likely neither could we. We would have been able to score on them, but would it have been enough? Probably not, but who knows. We don’t get the chance to find out.

Chances are a loss to Auburn in the SEC title game would have put us in the exact spot we are in now, outside looking in at a BCS bowl game. That is probably what would have happened but that scenario doesn’t leave the same feeling in your gut as what we may have lost by not beating Tennessee, a team that would end the season with just one conference win...ONE!

Who do we blame? The same guy who said following the game he had a real tough time sleeping. Yeah, I know the feeling!

I like Steve Spurrier a lot. I am thankful for him. He is without a doubt the greatest Gamecock coach ever. He is the main person responsible for the Gamecocks having their greatest run in the history of the football program.

We have a chance to be a top ten team for the third straight year in a row. Spurrier is responsible for that. He is also responsible for turning history on its head when it comes to the rivalry with that smaller school in the upstate.

He needs a statue, a street named after him, maybe even both. He took a mediocre program and made us elite. Being a Gamecock, it is tough not to be a Spurrier fan when faced with those facts. I love Steve. I will say it one more time....I LOVE THE HEAD BALL COACH....but...

....he deserves the complete blame for the Tennessee loss.

His in-game coaching over the past couple years has been mind boggling at times. He has spoiled us. He has raised the bar on our expectations to the point that I am writing about feeling sick over a 10-2 season and a trip to the Capital One Bowl.

In many ways, Spurrier is his own worst enemy. If he hadn’t built the program up like he has we would have been content with the idea it just couldn’t be done here. He has shown it can be done here and now we expect and ask questions when we lose to inferior teams that cost us a chance to play for all the marbles.

The Tennessee loss is inexcusable on so many levels. The refusal to run the ball, the wasting of timeouts and the just hideous clock management are all reasons why we lost to Tennessee and Auburn two years earlier at home. That Auburn loss also ruined our chance to play for an SEC title.

We almost lost to Central Florida earlier in the year due to our refusal to run the football. Coming into the game, the one weakness that Central Florida had was their run defense. Instead of coming out and pounding the ball on the ground, we came out throwing and got behind. Luckily the light went on for Spurrier in the second half as we did what we should have done all game long, run the ball.

Tennessee’s strength was their defensive backs. They were considered a solid pass coverage team. This was something that Spurrier talked about a lot following the game. It was like his way of convincing us and himself that this Tennessee team did have some talent. It left me even angrier, if their strength is their pass defense, then why the hell did we keep on throwing the ball?!

The loss still linger and it still hurts. More than anything, the loss is still frustrating. That is a good sign. It is a sign that our program really is on the move. Which brings me to the phone message left by a good friend.

Unlike myself, my friend grew up in the state and has been a Gamecock since he could walk. He graduated from Carolina with me and bleeds garnet and black.

We talk and text often during games and of course after games. We were both frustrated after the Tennessee loss, scratch that, we were both angry! My friend needed to vent and so two days after the Tennessee loss he called me. I didn’t answer and it went to voice mail. Below is his voice mail accompanied with some pictures to make it a bit more humorous..

WARNING!!!!! There is profanity. Do not listen at work or around children unless you have really good headphones. Enjoy

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Jacoby Ellsbury Leaves the Red Sox for the New York Yankees

Many Red Sox fans are angry that Jacoby Ellsbury is now a Yankee. Some of the tweets have been pretty embarrassing. They were so embarrassing that Deadspin highlighted the stupidity of some Red Sox fans. 

 Ellsbury is not a traitor or even a "trader". The Yankees are a great fit for him. The Yankees had the money, the years and play in a ballpark that fits his swing.

We won't know exactly what the Red Sox were offering but I am guessing it wasn't close to the Yankees offer. It wouldn't make sense for the Sox to sign Ellsbury to this deal. The goal of a well run organization is to build a team from the farm system up. This is not always possible of course but in this situation it was for the Red Sox.

Jackie Bradley is the future for the Red Sox just like Evan Gattis is for the Braves. When you have the young replacement in place, and under team control for the league minimum salary, you don't re-sign the 30 year old veteran that is blocking him to a 7 year deal for over $150 million. You save that money to re-sign players and sign players in areas where your farm system is not producing. The Red Sox were smart to let Ellsbury walk just like the Braves were smart to let Brian McCann walk.

Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley are important because they can be impact players at a very low salary. This enables the Sox to use their resources to improve the team in other areas. You don't spend money on getting a third car when you need to fix the roof on your house. It was a no-brainer for the Red Sox and Ellsbury. Nobody needs to be mad at either of them.

Ellsbury is a very good player but he is not a superstar. The problem is he is being paid superstar money. This could cause an issue with what Yankee fans expect of him. Could he become the 2011 Ellsbury again? Maybe, but not likely. Ellsbury and the Red Sox are the winners in this deal.

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