Friday, February 22, 2008

Spring Training Thoughts

Here's a couple of thoughts that I've had during the only time that I wish I was in Florida:

+ Coco vs. Jacoby, who do you choose? Last year Jacoby Ellsbury came up to the bigs and made the most of his time. He hit for average (though no power), ran like crazy (though the Sox don't like to do that too much) and played a pretty good centerfield (thouhg not better than Coco Crisp). He played in 33 games, had 114 plate appearances (not including the playoffs) and posted these numbers: .353/.394/.509. Make no mistake about it, those are some terrific statistics, but he amassed them in essentially a month's worth of work. One has to wonder, was this just a fluky streak?

On the other hand, Crisp has posted back to back years of .264/.317/.385 in 105 games and .268/.330/.382 in 145 games, which are numbers much lower than anything he did in Cleveland. Though he does have sensational defense and probably should have won the Gold Glove this year. The numbers are pedestrian, but Crisp has maintained that he's been injured for the last two years. One has to wonder, is he serious?

If you're Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, what do you do? Do you trade the veteran and cross your fingers that the rookie does well? Do you keep the veteran and send the rookie back to AAA for more seasoning? Here's what we do know, Ellsbury isn't going to hit .350 for the entire year and he is going to go through a slump. But where is he going to level off at? .310? .290? .270? He's probably not going to hit for much power, but how many homeruns will he have? 10? 15? 20?

While he hasn't been the answer to Johnny Damon, Crisp has been consistent in Boston and you know what you have in him. Ellsbury is the wild card, he could be terrific, he could be Crisp, he could be worse. Depending on whether you're an optimist or a pessimist depends on who you keep. If you trade Crisp now, you're getting 50 cents on the dollar. Trading Ellsbury at his peek value, you're getting $1.50 on a dollar.

One thing not to consider is the fans' love of Ellsbury. There are some people who wouldn't trade him straight up for former Twin Johan Santana. These are the same fans who will boo the crap out of him if he's batting .197 for April.

+ Curt Schilling dishes it out, but he can't seem to take it. I am a media yenta; I care about the feuds between the press and the players. I find the behind-the-scenes dealings between the two factions fascinating, especially considering each camp (for the most part) can't stand one another. That's why the little slap fight between Schilling and Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy cracks me up.

On Sunday, Shaughnessy wrote a scathing column pretty much calling Schilling a lying fat ass when it came to his injury. Up until Monday, Schilling hasn't said anything about the injury to the press, but decides to give an impromptu press conference that morning, only he didn't invite anyone from the Globe. This is a complete BS move.

Shaughnessy probably wasn't going to cover the press conference, he's notorious for his hit-and-run style of writing a hatchet job and not showing his face in the clubhouse/locker room for weeks. The people which were going to be hurt by this snub are Sox beat writers Gordon Edes and Amelie Benjamin. I have no idea whether Benjamin or Edes have done anything to piss Schilling off other than have the gall to work at the same paper that Shaughnessy works at. Anyway, Edes was forced to write the story while watching the live feed from NESN.

Schilling routinely calls Shaughnessy CHB (which stands for Curly Haired Boyfriend, which is a nickname the great Carl Everett gave to him when he was flipping out on Edes one day) and has not hid his intense dislike for the writer. In his blogs and on message boards he's given Shaughnessy a tough time, and that's fine. I'm not defending Shank (another nickname), but if Schilling is going to rip Shaughnessy, he has to expect to get ripped back.

And taking his revenge out on his innocent colleagues isn't the way to settle the score. Schilling is one of the first people to admonish someone for painting all ballplayers with the same brush. He should listen to himself.

+ Pedro Martinez showed up at Mets camp with a gigantic smile and told everyone that he has been clean, steroid free and essentially that proves he's been the best pitcher of the generation.

I have to agree.

From 1997 through 2003, his highest ERA was 2.82. The league's minimum ERA was in the mid 4's. Take a peek at his numbers, they are eye-popping:

Pedro's Stats

Add in the fact that he's had to deal with Bunyon-esque sluggers, a tighter baseball and smaller ball parks and it can be argued that these seven seasons are the greatest seasons ever.

There was a lot of off-field baggage that came with Pedro Martinez, he was petulant and often felt that he was the target of an imagined snub or turned small differences into bigger molehills, but the Red Sox and Major League Baseball will never see a pitcher like Pedro Martinez ever again. His 1999 17 strikeout, one-hit (a homer by the immortal Chili Davis) game against the New York Yankees was the best and most dominant game that I've ever seen pitched.

As we get further and further from the steroid era, Pedro Martinez will get the proper accolades that he deserves and will one day be seen as the right-handed Dominican Sandy Kofax.

He was that good.

+ Andy Pettitte cheated, sort of came clean, then came “all the way” clean and is now a paragon of integrity. Roger Clemens cheated and lied about it and he's (to quote another infamous HGH abuser Debbie Clemens) “been treated worse than Hitler.”

What does that say about America? We're suckers for apologies and Roger Clemens is an idiot for not realizing this. I pretty much feel the same way that most of America feels, Clemens is a dirt bag who tried to throw everyone in the world (his wife, his mother, his best friend and his agents) under the bus in order to make himself look innocent. It's not working and if it wasn't such a disgusting act of cowardice, I'd almost feel sorry for the dumb Texan.

Aside from that, my take on this entire mess is that it sucks for baseball that the best hitter (Barry Bonds) and one of the best pitchers (Roger Clemens) were doped up. And it sucks more for baseball that their plan for fighting this was a two-pronged attack of ignoring the problem and then denying the problem existed. Once again, the fans (the real guardians of the game) are the ones who end up getting screwed in the end all in the name of greed.

The good news is that Bud Selig has recently signed a contract that will allow him to stay the commissioner of baseball through 2011. This is after he renegged on his promise that he was going to step down after his contract finishes up at the end of the 2008 season. Once a car salesman, always a car salesman.

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