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Tag:Alex Rodriguez
Posted on: March 12, 2010 1:12 pm
 

Nomar Leaves Behind a Historic Legacy

In a list of greatest players in the history of one of baseball’s most storied franchise, the names at the top of Boston’s list are Hall of Famers. Williams. Yastrzemski. Rice. Doerr. Young. So it is not everyday that a player comes along with enough caliber to crack the top of such a list.

One such player did emerge in the summer of 1997.

Nomar Garciaparra’s emerging talent preceded him. During the mid-90s, the Red Sox had a more than decent option at shortstop in John Valentin. But the prospects of Garciaparra’s bright future earned him the job for Opening Day 1997.

Garciaparra spent parts of nine seasons in Boston from his debut in 1996, but due to an injury in 2001 and being traded in 2004 accumulated only six full seasons. So how can he be considered among the greats of a franchise that has been around for more than a century?

As will likely be the case for sometime, the impact of player like Garciaparra may not be completely recognized until a later point because he played during the steroid era. At the time he was an excellent contact hitter and the star player on a star franchise.

In retrospect, he may have been the most dominant hitter in the game during his tenure in Boston.

Garciaparra’s numbers over that time certainly paint an impressive picture - .323/.370/.553, 178 home runs and 279 doubles during his time in Boston. But it is his versatility as a hitter that made him the best during that time.

Garciaparra was most naturally a gap, line-drive hitter. But he changed his offensive approach so that the team could get the most out of him. During his first two seasons with the club he hit 30 and 35 home runs, respectively, a feat that at the time had been accomplished only four other times in the history of baseball (and two, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, have been linked to steroids). He set records for RBIs by a lead-off hitter and home runs by a rookie shortstop on his way to the Rookie-of-the-Year award.

After those seasons of great power numbers, Garciaparra changed to still be able to put up good power numbers, but increase his on-base percentage and cut down on strikeouts. By his fourth season, the Sox had signed a rather well known power hitter by the name of Manny Ramirez, which took some of the burden of being a power hitter off of Garciaparra.

After that transition, he became a much more balanced hitter. He crossed the 50 doubles plateau twice, and also twice pulled off the very rare accomplishment of recording more doubles than strikeouts. He cemented his legacy as one of the most dangerous hitters by leading the league in hitting in back-to-back seasons in ’99 and ’00 at .357 and .372 respectively (Nobody has finished the season in the A.L. with an average above .372 since George Brett in 1980).

Garciaparra had the ability to do whatever he wanted as a hitter. If he wanted to hit 40-45 home runs, he could have. There were times where it seemed like he could take every single pitch he was given and bang it off of the Green Monster, something he did better than maybe any player in Red Sox history. Ted Williams, in an interview during the 1999 All-Star Game festivities in Boston, said that if any player were to ever hit .400 again, it would be Garciaparra.
 
Red Sox fans are well aware of the impact that Garciaparra had on the diamond for Boston’s teams in the late 90s and early 2000s. But his impact stretched much further than just that. He was drafted and signed by John Harrington and Dan Duquette, the predecessors of the John Henry/Larry Luccino/Tom Werner ownership and Theo Epstein at general manager.

The current Sox ownership saw what affect drafting quality players and revamping the minor league system could have on a franchise. In Garciaparra, the Sox not only got a great player, but someone who was taken as the fan favorite and face of the franchise.

No matter where you rank him in the “Trinity of Shortstops” of the late 90s and early 2000s (to say nothing of Miguel Tejada, Omar Vizquel and others), Garciaparra will get some votes for the Hall of Fame - and deservedly so. A player like Garciaparra exemplifies the reason why players remain on the ballot for 15 years. He is not a first-ballot player, but he will be there eventually.

He was a dominant, versatile hitter, and it is in Boston where he deserved to end his career.

Posted on: August 3, 2009 4:24 pm
 

The Statement MLB's Steroid Users Should've Given

Alex Rodriguez sat at a table at the New York Yankees spring training facility in Tampa, Florida eight days after he admitted to three years of steroid use and delivered a statement regarding his usage.

Rodriguez appeared uninterested during the recital of the statement he had prepared. His body language showed that he felt annoyed that he had to be there and such an ordeal was even necessary.

Rodriguez is not the only one. The majority of Manny Ramirez’s comments addressing his positive test earlier this season came from the supposedly grounding statements “I didn’t kill nobody. I didn’t rape nobody.”

It is clear that baseball players, especially the ones whose names appear on the now infamous list of 104 who tested positive in 2003, are surprised at the severity in which the fans and media are addressing the issue.

Players who have tested positive revolve the majority of their comments concerning their use around apologies to their teammates and fans, calling their actions mistakes that they wish that they did not make.

In reality, we know that they are saying those things because the media relations department of each club has told them to be apologetic and denounce their actions. But, since are opinions of these players is already significantly lessened, why not have them speak the truth for once?

Below is a sample statement that players who have tested positive should adhere to. It applies to Rodriguez, Ramirez, David Ortiz, or any other of the 104 names on the “anonymous” list.

“First, I would like to thank the fans, my teammates and the organization for their patience through this time. As you all know, I tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug during the 2003 season.

“It is no longer a surprise that steroids have had an impact on the game of baseball. Earlier this decade, dozens of players were using steroids and other substances that are today banned. Before 2003, there was no penalty for using drugs that would affect your performance on the field.

“I was caught up in the PED movement. Players who I knew were not as good as I was were suddenly outperforming me, all the way to newer and bigger contracts. As I investigated and was given information about this issue, the following became clear to me:

“The growing number of players who have used PEDs were doing so without recourse and no penalties. Because their numbers and production was better, they were rewarded. As a human being, I have an obligation to provide for my family as best as I can, and steroids helped me level the playing field.

“I am not proud of my actions, but I cannot entirely regret them. Let me be clear: steroids are exceptionally dangerous when used long term. The consequences can cost you much more than your playing career. I direct my comments here especially toward the young fans of baseball: Steroids are banned in baseball for a reason. It was wrong then, and remains wrong now.

“That said, try to put yourself in my shoes. No one knows that you are using, and there are no repercussions if you test positive. Again, I am not proud of my actions, but whenever a loophole exists, people will always take advantage of it.

“Since testing has begun, I have not used PEDs of any kind, as shown by my lack of positive tests. Testing in baseball has leveled the playing field, which is all that I was striving for from the beginning.”

All baseball fans are still waiting for an honest approach.

Posted on: July 30, 2009 9:52 pm
 

Papi's Biggest Moment was his Worst

The baseball world was already aware that Manny Ramirez was at least at one point in his career using performance-enhancing drugs thanks to his positive test at the beginning of this season.

The breaking news today came from a New York Times report that announced that fellow longtime Boston Red Sox David Ortiz was, along with Ramirez, on the list of 103 players that had tested positive for a banned substance during the 2003 season.

Surprised?

You shouldn’t be.

First, take into account the mathematical odds. There are 30 major league teams, each with a 25-man roster. That is 750 players. If we throw in even another five players per team that average significant enough time to be on the roster, that would give us roughly 900 players who were in the majors in 2003.

That means that one out of every nine players is on that list of being caught using PEDs, or about three per team. Some teams, no doubt, will have significantly more players on that list because of the environment in each clubhouse and the notable players that have already been identified as users: Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, San Fransisco Giants, Houston Astros, etc.

Throw the Boston Red Sox into that distinguished mix.

Second, and this is in no way to be interpreted as racially prejudicial or demeaning, there is clearly a seperate PEDs ring in the Dominican Republic. By that I mean that it seems that in the DR, it is much easier for individuals to obtain PEDs of varying nature.

Believe him or not, if anything that Alex Rodriguez said in his press conference addressing his usage was true, it was that he was a young kid who was able to get drugs that he had no idea what they were, except that it would make you stronger.

We have seen a trend that many of the top-level players who are caught using PEDs have a Dominican connection: Sammy Sosa, Miguel Tejada, Ramirez and now Ortiz, just to name a few.

Thirdly, and perhaps most obviously, was that Ortiz was a castaway from the Minnesota Twins – a player deemed too big, too slow and too one dimensional to play in the majors. That expendable piece of the Twins organization went on to hit 41, 47, 54 (franchise record) for the Red Sox during the ’04-06 seasons.

At the time, we did see a large, very strong left-handed hitter that reminded us of Jim Thome every time the ball jumped off of Ortiz’s bat. He was 28 in 2004, the first year he hit 40+ home runs in a season, which is right in the middle of the prime of a hitter’s career.

While we thoroughly enjoyed Ortiz’s best years in Boston, and the two World Series titles that he and Ramirez helped the Sox win, this is by far the biggest moment of Ortiz’s career in Boston.

Bigger than walk-offs against the Angels and Yankees in the 2004 play off series; bigger than the Red Sox single season home run record; bigger than solidifying himself as one of the best clutch hitters and best designated hitters in the history of the game.

David Ortiz replaced Nomar Garciaparra as everyone’s favorite Red Sox player. He was always outgoing, gregarious and accepting of the media. Even through his recent struggles, Ortiz forced a smile on his face. No one outside of New York (and perhaps a few other teams still looking for ball that he has launched over their fences) had a bad thing to say about him.

Until now.

Posted on: February 8, 2009 9:57 pm
 

Make Steroids Legal? Try it MLB

The dust still has not quite settled yet from the Alex Rodriguez fall out over his positive steroid tests in 2003. While baseball fans are deciding whether or not to be surprised by this, Major League Baseball once again has a very hot issue they wish they never had to handle.

Commissioner Bud Selig will not be able to suspend Rodriguez, but his is likely currently in deep debate with the MLB player's union to decide how to handle this issue, and what to do with the other 103 names who tested positive.

In the end, it is likely that most of the names that fans care about will be leaked, sooner rather than later. Selig and MLB will be forced once again to merely pick up the pieces, sweep up the dust, and try to move on as though nothing happened.

So, since we are crunching as close to rock-bottom as possible, why not try this out:

Lift the ban off performance-enhancing drugs.

Yes, that's right, I said it.

Legalize it.

Selig, despite what his $17.5 million salary might indicate, is not exempt from the economy's downturn. Fewer and fewer fans are purchasing seats, jerseys, and, incredible to fathom though it may be, beautifully hand-crafted Bobble-head dolls (gasp!).

In 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa almost literally held the defibrilaters to baseball and shocked new life into the game. New fans were introduced to the game, and old fans were brought back. It was a glorious time.

Until it became too good. With the "end" of the steroids era came a decrease in the number of 50+ home run seasons and 20 game winners. The fringe fans (we call them "Pink Hat Fans" in Boston) lost interest.

Baseball lost revenue.

So, Mr. Selig, why not lift the ban on PEDs? What do you have to loose? You will now have an easy way to dismiss why the best players under your reign as commissioner were all cheaters and give the fans what they want to see: longer home runs, faster pitches, and a widening of the gap that separates great players from mediocre players.

The players will bring in the guinea pigs, and you will bring in the money. After all, that's what professional sports is all about, right?

Posted on: February 7, 2009 1:36 pm
 

A-Rod Tested Positive for Steroids in 2003

Their names have been run through the mills countless times over the last five years in connection with the seemingly epidemic use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. We already know them:

Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Jose Canseco. Mark McGwire.

And the list goes on.

Although his public appearance has been skewered since he began his tenure with the New York Yankees, who are hated by many merely on principle, Alex Rodriguez was once looked upon as the best all-around player of our generation. His ability to combine speed and power to become the youngest member of baseball's elite 40 home runs/40 steals group elevated his fame and promise to become the eventual home run champion.

Today, however, SI.com is reporting that in 2003, during his first MVP season, and last season with the Texas Rangers before being traded to the Yankees, Rodriguez tested positive for illegal substances twice.

Four different sources have independently reported the positive tests to SI, and the substances are reported to be testosterone and a designer anabolic steroid called Primobolan.

These tests were part of MLB's 2003 anonymous drug testing, which is a slight misnomer. The tests were anonymous only to the extent that the actual names of the players (of which there were 104 in 2003) were not released.

However, with the impeding trial against Bonds and BALCO, those lists and other related documents were unsealed to determine whether or not Bonds had perjured himself to federal investigators. Bonds is not being tried for steroid use, but only for lying. If admitted, this list will be used to help determine whether other players knew of Bonds alleged steroid use at that time.

With the opening of these documents comes the fallout for Rodriguez. While Canseco mentioned that the sequel of his first book Juiced would include a section detailing Rodriguez's steroid usage, many dismissed this claim.

Over his career, Rodriguez has been able to stand beside the fact that he has been remarkable consistent over his career, never achieving too far over or too far little of his career averages. With the fact that four sources have independently confirmed this news, it will be difficult for Rodriguez to side step the issue as when Canseco accused him.

Rodriguez will not be punished by MLB because of his positive test because there was no penalty for a positive test in 2003, as the tests were supposed to be anonymous. A suspension from MLB, however, is likely the least of Rodriguez's worries at this time.

Posted on: May 7, 2008 12:12 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2008 12:14 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 5-6-08

The Red Sox won their fifth straight game behind an excellent start by Tim Wakefield. Some thoughts on the game:

Tim Wakefield delivered his best start of the year thus far, throwing strikes early and often, and dominated the Tigers’ stagnant offense. The Tigers took an approach to Wakefield that the Rangers took earlier this year, as they swung early in the count and did not wait for Wakefield to throw too many pitches. In the game against the Rangers, Wakefield gave up eight hits and five runs, but the Tigers were much less effective making contact. Tonight was the only other night, besides the Rangers game, that he did not yield a walk. Even though his delivery does not change with runners on base, almost anyone can steal a base against him, and with the occasional passed ball, a runner on first who reached on a walk can easily come around to score without the opposing team recording a hit. Wakefield settled in and worked fast as he normally does, and retired at one point 16 straight Tigers. Wakefield lowered his ERA to 3.33, and now Josh Beckett (4.19 ERA) is the only starter with an ERA above 4.00. With the back end of the bullpen a little taxed, Wakefield’s eight innings were that much more helpful. It also allowed for a rare occurrence, as both pitchers for the Sox tonight were both over 41 years old, since Mike Timlin pitched a scoreless ninth for the Sox fourth shut-out this season.

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz went back-to-back in the seventh inning to provide most of the offense. Ramirez has been in a mini-slump, entering the game with just 5 hits in his last 32 at-bats. But, more importantly, he broke out of a bad power slump, as his home run was his first since April 20. A lot of players tend to be pressing when they get close to a milestone, and with Ramirez on the edge of one of the most historic milestones in all of baseball, he has been racking up the strikeouts with alarming frequency. Alex Rodriguez went through a similar funk last year as he approached 500 home runs, but after a week or so, the great players tend to get back in their groove. Ramirez had an excellent batting practice session today, and the home run capped a very good offensive night. It is very encouraging to see Ortiz drive the ball with explosive force, and his home run was likely between 440 and 450 feet. He has been given a few days off over the past few weeks, and he has responded well going 11-25 (.440) with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI over his last six games. Since he really seems to be having trouble with his knee, look for him to be given more frequent off days, especially after Sean Casey comes back off of the disabled list, which he is eligible to do on Friday. Also, Ramirez and Ortiz have now hit home runs in the same game an astonishing 45 times in their career with the Red Sox, and seeing as they have only played together for a little over five seasons, that number is even more impressive. Not only are they the “gold standard,” as ESPN commentator Joe Morgan refers to them, for productive 3-4 hitters in the game today, but they may be the best of all time.

The Sox entered the Tigers series with a very surprising statistic: they had had as many home runs as they did stolen bases (26). The Sox also recorded two stolen bases in one game recently, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the only time such an event has occurred for the Sox for at least the last 50 years. With Jacoby Ellsbury, Coco Crisp, and Julio Lugo, the Sox may have more speed now than they ever have, and we would have to go back to the 1910s-1920s with Sox teams that included Hall of Famers like Tris Speaker. If he starts to play more regularly, Ellsbury may break Tommy Harper’s club record of 54 steals. But, if not this year, then the Sox may as well already begin penciling in Ellsbury’s name.

There was a poll on today's recap about where Ramirez and Ortiz stand in history in terms of 3-4 combinations. 
I'll throw some other combos out there to keep in mind:

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game as the Sox try to make it three straight against the Tigers. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)

Obviously, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

Willie Mays and Willie McCovey

Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. (although Maris did not sustain the numbers that Mantle did)

Mickey Cochrane and Al Simmons

Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews (hold the record for most times two players for the same team hit a home run in the same game, 75)

Fred Lynn and Jim Rice

These are just a few, to get the juices flowing...(no pun intended)

Posted on: April 16, 2008 11:39 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-16-08

The Red Sox lost a marathon full of poor pitching to the Yankees, the first of a two game series. Some thoughts on the game:

After such a long game where the offenses dictated the game, it is almost difficult to remember who the starting pitcher was. Clay Buchholz had his worst start of his professional career, allowing seven runs in three plus innings. Buchholz never had it from the start, allowing back-to-back home runs to Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez in the first. Buchholz’s worst problem this season, and it was manifested very clearly against the Yankees tonight, was the ineffectiveness of his fastball. His fastball is regularly 90-91 MPH and will occasionally top out at 92. But most of the damage that the Yankees did against Buchholz was against his fastball. The two home runs in the first were on fastballs, as was Derek Jeter’s and Chad Moeller’s lined shots that drove in runs. Buchholz has above average off-speed stuff, and there is no question that his change-up and curveball are his best pitches. But he needs to work on locating his fastball better, because in the low 90s and straight as an arrow, the hitters can simply lay off of the off-speed stuff and wait to connect on the fastball.

Kevin Youkilis fouled a ball off of his toe, but remained in the game for a few innings, and even took his next at-bat. But he did get it tapped, and was wearing a toe guard on it when he came up to the plate. He was replaced after that at-bat by Jed Lowrie. Youkilis was favoring his left foot very heavily when he was walking back to the dugout after he looked very uncomfortable striking out. It looks as though this will not turn out to be serious for Youkilis, but it is going to leave a serious amount of discomfort on his left foot. It will be the type of injury that a player can play through, as Johnny Damon did a few years ago, and Youkilis is the type of player to grind it out, especially as the Sox are now short on infielders.

Speaking of injured infielders, in a not-so-surprising move, the Sox placed utility back-up infielder Alex Cora on the 15 day disabled list. The move comes after the Sox had already called up rookie Jed Lowrie, a middle infielder from Pawtucket, to fill the spot of Mike Lowell, on the disabled list with a sprained thumb. Cora is a good guy to have on any ball club. He has a very high baseball IQ, and will definitely be a coach when he decides to retire. He is a great help to Boston's young infielders and always has a positive influence on the team. And he is a very sound fielding infielder and a left-handed bat off of the bench. Before the Sox signed Julio Lugo two off-seasons ago, Terry Francona and Theo Epstein had both voiced that they would be satisfied if no replacement was found and Cora was the opening day shortstop. That may seem like it is stretching it a bit, but it is always good to have a guy like Cora on the bench, especially when Lugo is struggling, which unfortunately seems to be most of the time.

Mike Timlin was ineffective for the third time in four appearances this season. He gave up four runs in one inning, with Jason Giambi once again paying his respects to Timlin. In fact, if Giambi’s three at-bats against Timlin are removed from his stats this year, then his numbers of .139 BA, two home runs and six RBIs, drop to .111-0-6. As was said in the recap from Monday, when Julian Tavarez came in and limited the damage, the job of Timlin and Tavarez is to come in and stop the bleeding while keeping these types of games close when the Sox are behind. Tonight, neither came anywhere close to doing that, both totaling eight runs allowed. Truth be told, Tavarez still looked burnt out from his two and two-third innings effort on Monday. However, with David Aardsma looking increasingly sharp and reliable, it is going to be up to Tavarez and Timlin to hold their weight over this stretch of 20 consecutive games.

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game when the Sox try to earn a split of this two games series with the Yankees. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

Posted on: April 16, 2008 11:38 pm
 

Red Sox Recap 4-16-08

The Red Sox lost a marathon full of poor pitching to the Yankees, the first of a two game series. Some thoughts on the game:

After such a long game where the offenses dictated the game, it is almost difficult to remember who the starting pitcher was. Clay Buchholz had his worst start of his professional career, allowing seven runs in three plus innings. Buchholz never had it from the start, allowing back-to-back home runs to Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez in the first. Buchholz’s worst problem this season, and it was manifested very clearly against the Yankees tonight, was the ineffectiveness of his fastball. His fastball is regularly 90-91 MPH and will occasionally top out at 92. But most of the damage that the Yankees did against Buchholz was against his fastball. The two home runs in the first were on fastballs, as was Derek Jeter and Chad Moeller’s lined shots that drove in runs. Buchholz has above average off-speed stuff, and there is no question that his change-up and curveball are his best pitches. But he needs to work on locating his fastball better, because in the low 90s and straight as an arrow, the hitters can simply lay off of the off-speed stuff and wait to connect on the fastball.

Kevin Youkilis fouled a ball off of his toe, but remained in the game for a few innings, and even took his next at-bat. But he did get it tapped, and was wearing a toe guard on it when he came up to the plate. He was replaced after that at-bat by Jed Lowrie. Youkilis was favoring his left foot very heavily when he was walking back to the dugout after he looked very uncomfortable striking out. It looks as though this will not turn out to be serious for Youkilis, but it is going to leave a serious amount of discomfort on his left foot. It will be the type of injury that a player can play through, as Johnny Damon did a few years ago, and Youkilis is the type of player to grind it out, especially as the Sox are now short on infielders.

Speaking of injured infielders, in a not-so-surprising move, the Sox placed utility back-up infielder Alex Cora on the 15 day disabled list. The move comes after the Sox had already called up the rookie Lowrie, a middle infielder from Pawtucket, to fill the spot of Mike Lowell, on the disabled list with a sprained thumb. Cora is a good guy to have on any ball club. He has a very high baseball IQ, and will definitely be a coach when he decides to retire. He is a great help to Boston's young infielders and always has a positive influence on the team. And he is a very sound fielding infielder and a left-handed bat off of the bench. Before the Sox signed Julio Lugo two off-seasons ago, Terry Francona and Theo Epstein had both voiced that they would be satisfied if no replacement was found and Cora was the opening day shortstop. That may seem like it is stretching it a bit, but it is always good to have a guy like Cora on the bench, especially when Lugo is struggling, which unfortunately seems to be most of the time.

Mike Timlin was ineffective for the third time in four appearances this season. He gave up four runs in one inning, with Jason Giambi once again paying his respects to Timlin. In fact, if Giambi’s three at-bats against Timlin are removed from his stats this year, then his numbers of .139 BA, two home runs and six RBIs, drop to .111-0-6. As was said in the recap from Monday, when Julian Tavarez came in and limited the damage, the job of Timlin and Tavarez is to come in and stop the bleeding while keeping these types of games close when the Sox are behind. Tonight, neither came anywhere close to doing that, both totaling eight runs allowed. Truth be told, Tavarez still looked burnt out from his two and two-third innings effort on Monday. However, with David Aardsma looking increasingly sharp and reliable, it is going to be up to Tavarez and Timlin to hold their weight over this stretch of 20 consecutive games.

Look for this recap after tomorrow’s game when the Sox try to earn a split of this two games series with the Yankees. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)
Keep the Faith.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com