Posted on: June 11, 2010 1:04 pm
In the words of Nationals' radio play-by-play broadcaster Charlie Slowes following the remarkable debut by Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday in Washington D.C., "There's a new mayor in town, and the campaign took one night."
It is permissible to let our imaginations run wild with a player like Strasburg, and not just because everyone else is doing it. However, the fact remains that it is very unlikely that there is a player in baseball right now with the potential to hit 60 home runs, which has long been the most alluring statistical figure in baseball. But the last two A.L. home run champions (37 for Miguel Cabrera in 2008, 39 for Carlos Pena and Mark Teixeira in 2009) have only totaled 76 home runs, which would break the standing home run record by only 2!
As baseball fans, we have to look elsewhere from home runs for a national story. The past few years, the age of the young pitcher has been dominating the national scene. Tim Lincecum has two Cy Young awards by age 25, Zack Grienke took home the Cy Young at age 25 and posted a ridiculous ERA for the A.L., and N.L. teams this season can speak to the utter dominance by 26-year-old phenom Ubaldo Jimenez.
The strikeout has become the new home run. The last generation of great pitchers (Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson) have now been replaced by a younger ensemble of hard-throwing hurlers. It is obvious to say that every team wants Stephen Strasburg, and not so that local diners can cash in on a wide variety of sandwiches called "The Strasburger." Every teams wants him for the national draw that he is getting, in addition to the seemingly limitless pitching talent.
So, the question is: Who would you be willing to part with for Stephen Strasburg?
The Boston Red Sox have 25 players on their active roster, and a total of 34 players have donned a uniform so far this season. They have seven minor league affliates, which would put the total number of payers affliated with the Boston Red Sox at around 200.
There is only one player that I would not give up under any circumstances, even if the trade was 1 to 1, and that is Jon Lester. Lester has, believe it or not, the exact same potential that Strasburg does, except that Lester has already begun to follow through with success. Does this sound crazy?
The sport of professional baseball is over 150 years old. Using <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/historical/player_stats.jsp?c_id=mlb&baseballScope=mlb&teamPosCode=all&statType=Overview&sitSplit=&venueID=&timeFrame=3&timeSubFrame2=0&Submit=Submit" target="_blank">mlb.com's historical statistics page , they list approximately 17,200 hitters who have recorded an at-bat in the majors and about 8,350 pitchers who have recorded an out, with incomplete records dating back to 1871. Yes, there will be some duplicates, but we can very roughly estimate that somewhere around 20,000 people have played professional baseball. Of that number, who has the highest winning percentage with at least 100 starts?
If you guessed Stephen Strasburg, well you'd be wrong. If you guessed Jon Lester, you've earned a sticker for today. With a career record of 49-18, Lester's .731 winning percentage is higher than anybody with at least that many starts. Oh, and he also happens to be leading the A.L. in strikeouts.
Lester has everything that Strasburg has - the size, the pitching repertoire - without the same fanfare because he wasn't the number one overall pick. Lester also has done all of his work in the best division in baseball since he came up, so imagine what his numbers would have been like if Boston played in the N.L. West. Lester has not pitched his last no hitter, and he will win at least one Cy Young Award. At 26 and with the record he has already acquired, Lester is Boston's Strasburg.
As for the rest of the players in Boston, it would depend on what else was included in the deal, but the only other player I would not trade, unless it was 1 to 1 (which would never happen), would be Dustin Pedroia. Rookie of the Year, MVP, and a Gold Glove already, he has batting titles and several more GGs in his future.
The next closest player that I would have initial problems dealing away would be Kevin Youkilis. He plays two positions, is a very consistent .300+ hitter with one of, if not the best, eye in the game, he has the potential to hit 40 home runs and is the cleanup hitter on the team that has scored the most runs in the A.L. this year. But, and this is somewhat surprising, Youkilis is already 31, which means that he is in his prime right now. Nobody expects him to fall off anytime soon, but we said the same thing about David Ortiz, whose last impact year came when he was 31, and we all feel that at 34, he is exceptionally over the hill.
I was thinking that, with respect to the almost 200 players in the Sox farm system, there would be some that I would hold onto. I might have to hold onto Casey Kelly, but he is only in his first year being a full time pitcher, while around the same age as Strasburg.
Lester is a dominant pitcher already, and he would be the one player from this Red Sox team that I would not give up for Stephen Strasburg. <!-- EndFragment-->
Tags: Boston Red Sox, Carlos Pena, Casey Kelly, Charlie Slowes, Cy Young, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Greg Maddux, Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Stephen Strasburg, Tim Lincecum, Tom Glavine, Ubaldo Jimenez, Washington Nationals, Zack Grienke
Posted on: June 26, 2009 2:13 pm
The Boston Red Sox recently completed a three game series against the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital. The Sox took two out of three against the lowly Nationals in a relatively unremarkable series – with one exception.
Thanks to the droves of the fans of Red Sox Nation that follow the Sox all across the country, the Nationals recorded three consecutive days of their biggest crowds ever at Nationals Park.
Nationals Park opened for the 2008 season and drew an average of 29,005 fans per game. Due in part to the struggling, but mostly the fact that the Nationals (in case you haven’t noticed) are really bad, attendance has dropped to 22,343 per game.
Opening after 34 years without baseball in D.C., Nationals Park was a $611 million investment made to bring America’s Pastime back to the capital. While the Nationals organization is currently in very dire straights and could glean a great deal from observing how the Red Sox operate, they have one thing that the Sox should pay close attention to.
A shiny, new ballpark.
There are a great deal of baseball purists who relish the antiquity of Fenway Park, the last remaining mainstay from old-time baseball. Every Red Sox fan knows the tale of the historic landmark.
It opened in 1912, just days before the Titanic sank, and has housed baseball legends for nearly a century. The list of Hall-of-Famers is as remarkable as the park they played in.
And in the large picture, Fenway Park remained very much unchanged. Only recently, since the John Henry/Tom Warner/Larry Luccino partnership bought the Red Sox, has the dynamics of the park changed. Yet with all of the changes and face-lifts, Fenway remains one of the smaller parks in the league, but with more demand for tickets than any other city.
I have only been to one other park besides Fenway (where I have visited about a dozen times), and it was the Nationals Park in Washington. The stadium is absolutely stunning, and not just because of the flat-screen televisions that are scattered at every turn.
Nationals Park features everything that fans and players would put into a “suggestions for improvements” box at Fenway. In addition to a much more clean and spacious interior, the concessions and restrooms are more modern and much more available. The walkways, entrances and exits are designed to get massive amounts of people in and out of the ballpark as quickly as possible.
Almost the entire Sox roster had never been to Nationals Park before, and all were taken by the modernity of the place. Some were saying that the visitors’ clubhouse was bigger and better equipped than the home clubhouse at Fenway.
I appreciate the nostalgia of Fenway Park as much as anyone, and nothing can replace the memories of the old stadium. But it is time that the Red Sox put the Friendly Confines to rest and build a stadium that reflects two recent World Series titles and a bevy of young talent.
The Sox recently sold out their 500th straight game at Fenway. The popularity of the Red Sox has stretched so far that there will always be a demand for the tickets, and as soon as John Henry & Co. add more seats, they immediately get bought up and sold out.
The Sox plan for a new ballpark should be centered on opening in 2013, which means that the original Fenway will be in operation for exactly 100 years. The new stadium can have more seats and concessions, but with roughly the same dimensions of the old park, including the Green Monster and Pesky’s Pole.
If the new park had only 5,000 more seats, that would mean that over 400,000 more people would be able to see the Sox play. We all love Fenway, but it is not going to last forever, and they should take advantage of the 100 anniversary as a was to market a new park and show the fans that they truly appreciate Red Sox Nation.
Posted on: May 26, 2009 6:42 pm
In a big day for Red Sox news, the biggest story is that David Ortiz has finally been dropped in the lineup. Terry Francona released his lineup for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Twins, and it has J.D. Drew in the third spot, with Ortiz taking Drew’s position in the six hole. Ortiz has not been anywhere but the three position in the batting order since May 2005, when he and Manny Ramirez were sometimes swapped as clean-up hitters.
After having a decent series from May 19-21 against the Toronto Blue Jays, picking up three hits including his first home run of the season, he then went 0-for the series against the New York Mets. He was benched yesterday while the Sox faced a tough left-hander in Francisco Liriano. His batting average recently dipped below the Mendoza line and now stands at .195.
Dropping Ortiz down to the six hole seems like a big move, but it is more to maintain the continuity of the rest of the lineup. This way Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay remain largely unaffected, or at least, will not have to move in the lineup. They will benefit from Drew’s higher on-base percentage and better speed.
In other news, Clay Buchholz, pitching for triple-A Pawtucket, took a perfect game into the ninth inning of the PawSox game yesterday against the Louisville Bats. A leadoff single broke up the bid, but Buchholz retired the rest of the hitters in the ninth on his way to a one-hitter. He is now 3-0 with a 1.60 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched for Pawtucket.
Buchholz has been absolutely dominating in the minors this season, and yet he could not seem to get a roster spot in Boston. However, this last performance may have done it. In news related to Buchholz’s performances, the Boston Globe reports that Brad Penny is on the trading block.
The team would be looking to move Penny for two reasons. Firstly, the Sox need to make room for Buchholz. There is no reason for him to stay in the minors. Secondly, the Sox will use Penny as an opportunity to bring in some kind of bat off of the bench. The players whose names that have been thrown around, such as the Washington Nationals’ Nick Johnson, will be too expensive for only a deal involving Penny.
But, the Sox could hope to pick up a player in the same way that they got Mark Kotsay last year, but this player will likely be able to contribute more off of the bench. But, the Sox will be bearing in mind that by the All-Star break, the Sox bench will likely be Kotsay, Rocco Baldelli, Nick Green, Julio Lugo and George Kotteras. That bench is pretty solid and fills the need offensively, so Penny may be exchanged for something else.
Tags: Boston Red Sox, Brad Penny, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Francisco Liriano, George Kotteras, J.D. Drew, Jason Bay, Julio Lugo, Kevin Youkilis, Louisville Bats, Manny Ramirez, Mark Kotsay, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Nick Green, Nick Johnson, Pawtucket Red Sox, Rocco Baldelli, Terry Francona, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals
Posted on: April 28, 2008 6:42 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2008 6:44 pm
The Red Sox lost to their fourth straight game and second in a row to the Rays. Some thoughts on the game:
Clay Buchholz pitched an absolutely great game. This is the type of start that the Sox dream of from their number five starter. Many people will say that the Sox were looking to get too much out of him by sending him out for the eighth inning, but Buchholz was getting stronger as the night was going on. He made the one bad pitch, the hanging breaking ball to Akinori Iwamura, which accounted for all of the runs that the Rays got. The biggest problem that Buchholz was having up until tonight was his struggles with opposing hitters during their second trip to the plate. Tonight, he handled the Rays much better, changing his speeds and going after hitters the second and third time around completely different than he did earlier. He got into no clear rhythm as the night went on in terms of the way he was attacking hitters, and because all three of his pitches were working, the Rays were simply guessing. Iwamura guessed off-speed during his at-bat in the eight and happened to guess right. Terry Francona was right to send Buchholz back out, as he was breezing through the later innings, and he has pitched better against left-handed batters this year than he has righties anyway. The Sox will be exceptionally pleased with the way he mixed up his pitches and kept the Rays off-balance. Buchholz had only given up one hit through eight innings, and even with the home run, has now given up only two runs to go along with 15 strikeouts over his last two outings, which span 14 innings.
The reason the Sox lost had little to do with Buchholz and Iwamura’s home run. The Sox only managed one run, and have to be concerned with the lack of offensive production. Of the Sox’s five hits tonight, all five were singles, and only one of them left the infield. Because injuries and illnesses have forced the Sox to do quite a bit of shuffling in their lineup, the Sox need to show soon that they can score runs on the road. A problem for the Sox this season has been their lack of offensive production playing away from Fenway Park. This is not unnatural, but four runs over the first two games, especially at a venue like Tropicana Field where they have had good success driving in runs in recent years, is by no means fruitful. The Rays do have a few of the best statistics in the A.L. for their relief pitching, but the Sox will be facing much tougher bullpens as the season plays out.
Speaking of injuries and illnesses, add Sean Casey to that list. Casey injured himself as he was rounding third and scoring a run in yesterday’s game. To replace Casey, the Sox recalled Brandon Moss from triple-A Pawtucket. Because of the surplus of outfielders that the Sox have enjoyed recently, Moss started doing work and taking lessons at first base during this spring training. Still, Moss’s recall may seem slightly puzzling. Mike Lowell is on a rehab assignment, and played in the field for the first time today as the Pawtucket Red Sox took on Buffalo. He is expected to be ready to rejoin the team shortly, which will add another infielder to the Sox bench as Jed Lowrie can return to being a back up rather than a starter. But the Sox have a player at Pawtucket named Chris Carter, who was acquired as the player-to-be-named-later in the deal that sent Wily Mo Pena to the Washington Nationals last season. Carter had very impressive numbers for triple-A Tucson (in the Diamondbacks system) and in his brief stay in Pawtucket last year. Although he seems to be a natural designated hitter, the Sox have placed him at first base since it seems unlikely that the Sox will have an opening at DH for some time. He could have been a likely call-up to replace Casey. Another option would be to go with another pitcher, like the recently demoted Craig Hansen. Hansen is by no means a lights out reliever, but he can pitch for more than one inning at a time and could help out the bullpen, which is looking strained at this point in the season. Though, if the Sox continue to get eight solid innings from the number five starter, that may become moot.
Look for this recap following tomorrow’s game as the Sox try to avoid a sweep and stop this loosing streak. (To view all previous recaps, follow this link.)