Friday, February 7, 2020

Mitt Romney's Letter to Terry Francona's Son





In case you missed it, Mitt Romney has been in the news a bit lately. It seems everyone has an opinion on Mitt and they aren't afraid to share it. There is one story that has a Red Sox connection that not many people knew about until today. The story comes from Nick Francona. Nick is the son of Terry Francona.

Red Sox fans might remember that Nick was deployed overseas with the military during a portion of Tito's time with the Red Sox. Nick went on to work in baseball for a bit and is now in law school. He is a great person to follow on twitter and is not shy when it comes to calling out baseball on a myriad of topics.

I have messaged back and forth with Nick a couple of times and he is a really interesting guy with a lot to say and some great stories. I hope to be able to sit down with him in the near future for an extensive interview about his life and to hear more stories. Speaking of interesting stories, here is the story he posted today on twitter:

In the summer of 2011, I was deployed to Afghanistan. We received mail every few weeks, mostly care packages from family & friends. One day, the pile of mail included a letter that stood out, from the campaign HQ of Mitt Romney in Boston

 
 
The mail was almost always standard USPS care package boxes, so this envelope caught the attention of the Marine passing it out, leading him to ask, “Sir, do you know Mitt Romney?” I said I may have met him in passing at a Sox game, but if I didn’t remember he surely wouldn’t.

We assumed it was just campaign marketing material soliciting a donation. The idea of being hit up for political donations at our austere patrol base didn’t sit too well with some of the Marines, and there were a handful of barbs about Romney being an out of touch rich guy.

A young Lance Corporal from Arkansas with a heavy southern accent, exclaimed, “The balls on this guy!”

I couldn’t really argue, and said that it did come off as rather patrician.
*note: Using words like patrician around Marine grunts makes you sound like, well, a patrician.

A couple Marines said they’d remember his name so they would make sure to not vote for that guy. With a few of the Marines standing over my shoulder, I opened the envelope to find a short hand-written note from Mitt Romney

.
The note, dated 6/21/11, read:

Nick,

I admire your dad for all he’s done to bring baseball championships to Boston, but your service in Afghanistan as a Marine makes you the hero in the Francona  family. Thank you for your service.
Best wishes,
Mitt Romney


The tone quickly changed. One of the Marines quietly said, “That’s pretty cool.” I agreed.

Mitt Romney won a few admirers that day who had been cursing his name just seconds before. It was a thoughtful gesture that meant a lot to me at the time and one I’ll always remember.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Overrating of Derek Jeter Continues




Derek Jeter continues to be overrated. One Hall of Fame voter has decided to include ONLY Derek Jeter on his Hall of Fame ballot this year. He even says that Jeter should be on the Mount Rushmore of sports. I am not saying Derek Jeter isn't great. He is without a doubt a first ballot Hall of Famer. The problem is that Derek has been overrated from day one. It is not his fault but his greatness has been a product of timing and luck. Craig Biggio is who he is most similar to according to Baseball Reference. Nobody is putting Craig Biggio on their Mount Rushmore of sports.

We have now entered a new era of Hall of Fame voting where writers' ballots are no longer hidden. This transparency has made writers use common sense now when they vote. This is a good thing and it should have always been like this. The fact that guys like Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron did not get 100% of the Hall of Fame vote is a joke.

The timing once again is perfect for Jeter who will probably get 100% of the vote making him the first position player ever to get the unanimous vote. This will only further push the narrative that he is one of all the all time greats when in reality he is Craig Biggio.

The overrated notion is best exemplified by his defense. If you ask the normal baseball fan he will tell you that Jeter was a great defensive shortstop. They will tell you about the jump throws, how he dove into the stands and who could forget "the flip"? However, the advanced metrics will tell you that Derek Jeter has always been a below average fielder and in some years, an absolutely horrible defensive shortstop and a liability to his team. Despite this he was awarded five gold gloves. In his average season he had defensive runs saved rating of  -13.  In 2005 he won a Gold Glove with a defensive WAR of -1.8. For his career he had a defensive WAR -8.3.

The Jeter apologist will tell you they go by the eye test. Jeter apologists hate the analytics. You know who else thought he was an awful defensive SS? Brian Cashman, the GM of the Yankees during Jeter's career and Larry Bowa who was Jeter's infield coach. Here is an excerpt from the book by Bob Klapisch called Inside the Empire. This took place in 2006 and 2007. Jeter would play SS every single day through the 2014 season hurting them defensively game after game after game. What a captain!



Friday, November 22, 2019

How Larry Walker is Being Unfairly Punished for Playing in Coors Field




Will this be the year Larry Walker gets enough votes to be enshrined in Cooperstown for eternity? His stats say yes. His stats are most similar to a guy named Duke Snider according to Baseball Reference, Joe DiMaggio is 5th on that list of most similar batters. What hurts Larry Walker's Hall of Fame case the most is The Coors Field bias. Walker had 2,501 plate appearances at Coors Field and compiled an OPS of 1.172. That is dominant. However, how do those numbers compare to other Hall of Famers at Coors Field?

Adam Darowski (@baseballtwit) posted some interesting numbers on twitter. Current members of the Hall of Fame had a combined 1,764 plate appearances and registered an OPS of .974 He broke it down by each individual Hall of Famer using OPS:


Larry Walker 1.172
Ken Griffey Jr. 1.147
Vladimir Guerrero 1.134
Mike Piazza 1.115
Craig Biggio 1.091
Chipper Jones 1.035
Rickey Henderson .910
Ivan Rodriguez .882
Tony Gwynn .882
Barry Larkin .861
Jeff Bagwell .847 

Why a Return to the Red Sox Makes Sense for Ellsbury and the Red Sox




The Yankees released Jacoby Ellsbury yesterday while still owing him $26 million. In all, the Yankees paid Ellsbury $153 million and they didn't exactly get their money's worth. Kudos to Ben Cherington who was the Red Sox GM when the Sox chose not to match the Yankees offer for Ellsbury.

Chaim Bloom is now in charge of the Red Sox and he is under the directive to cut payroll. More than likely Mookie Betts will be traded and the Sox are also looking to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.. If the Red Sox were to trade both of those guys just for prospects the Red Sox would cut approximately $30 million off their payroll. They would also need outfielders. Guess who plays outfield and is cheap? That's right, Jacoby Ellsbury.

According to reports Ellsbury is in Arizona rehabbing his myriad of injuries with the goal of playing baseball in 2020. He will more than likely get a minor league contract from a team and then make the MLB league minimum salary if he makes the big league club. Of course the Yankees will continue to pay him. Can you imagine Ellsbury resurrecting his career with the Red Sox as the Yankees pay him? How sweet would that be?

Of course the issue is whether not Ellsbury can get healthy enough to be productive. Ellsbury last played in 2017. In his last month of action he hit .337 with 6 stolen bases and an OPS of .912. It might make sense for the Red Sox to take a flyer on him.

As one AL Executive said on Ellsbury playing in 2020 "It is a very low risk and high reward type of deal for a team to make"

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Mookie Betts to the Dodgers?




As we head to the end of November, the Mookie Watch is starting to intensify. It seems inevitable that Mookie Betts will be traded at some point this offseason. Many of the trade scenarios don't make a lot of sense. The Braves for example have been rumored to be interested. I just don't see the Braves pulling the trigger. The Braves have built up a great farm system but don't have the money to sign Mookie to a long term deal when his contract expires. I can't imagine the Braves wanting to put a huge dent in their farm system to acquire a one year rental. The Dodgers though? That makes perfect sense.

Mark Feinsand of the MLB,com floated this possible scenario: Mookie Betts to the Dodgers for Joc Pederson, Dustin May and Keibert Ruiz. The Dodgers, like the Braves, have a loaded farm system and they will have a year of trying to sell Mookie on Los Angeles and the money next offseason to lock him up on a long term deal. Getting rid of Mookie doesn't make the Red Sox better but if the powers that be have decided there is no way they can keep him going forward this package of players makes a lot of sense.

 Pederson is slated to make $5 million next year and like Betts will be free agent after the 2020 season. The Red Sox would save $15 million next year. Pederson is an average defensive outfielder with some pop at the plate. Nobody will confuse him for Mookie but it allows the Sox to remain competitive next season as they begin to gain more financial flexibility.

 Dustin May is the Dodgers top prospect who is sure to be a fan favorite at Fenway. In over 34 innings of work he struck out 32 and walked just 5.

 Ruiz is a catcher who has yet to make his MLB debut but was ranked the #20 overall prospect by Baseball America. He should be MLB ready for the 2020 season.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Could Jason Varitek be the Next Red Sox Manager? One Person Close to Varitek Would Love to See it




David Ross is the latest former player without managing experience to get a manager's job. When Jason Varitek was playing he was viewed as a guy who would be a great manager one day. Varitek retired in 2011 though and has not been mentioned as candidate for any of the managerial openings the last seven years.

Speculation was that Varitek didn't want to manage. That would make sense to a certain degree. He doesn't need the money, Varitek made over $67 million in his career. Managing also isn't for everyone. Many former players miss the game but not the everyday grind. Could that describe Varitek? Maybe but there is one person who wants Jason to manage one day and that is his wife Catherine. She tweeted this out earlier today.



 As speculation continues about Alex Cora and his role in the Astros cheating scandal, the Red Sox appearing to change course with their spending and their new hire of Chaim Bloom, could Varitek be a candidate for the Red Sox manager's job the next time there is an opening? We know Mrs. Varitek would love to see it.

Tweet at me @thepeskypole and let me know if you would love to see Jason Varitek as the Red Sox manager one day.

Don't forget to check out our 1967 Red Sox baseball simulation.