2011 Red Sox Will Challenge 1927 Yankees for Title of Greatest Team in Major League History
by Eric Ortiz on Sun, Jan 2, 2011 at 7:41AM 362
The Red Sox have won 100 or more games three times in their 110-year existence. They will make it four in 2011. But this team has the potential to accomplish something even bigger than winning 100 games. The last time the Red Sox reached the 100-win mark was 1946, when they went 104-50-2 and lost the World Series to the Cardinals in seven games. Prior to that, the Red Sox posted 101 wins in 1915 and 105 in 1912. Both seasons ended with World Series titles. Will the duck boats be rolling through the streets of Boston again next fall? Bookmakers like the Red Sox’ chances. Current odds put them at 9-2 to win the 2011 World Series. Only the Phillies, at 7-2, are bigger favorites, with the Yankees not far behind at 5-1 shots. Championships, of course, aren’t won in January. But championship teams are built during the offseason, and Theo Epstein has put together a roster that would make Branch Rickey proud. Look at the starting lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Dustin Pedroia, 2B Carl Crawford, LF Adrian Gonzalez, 1B Kevin Youkilis, 3B David Ortiz, DH J.D. Drew, RF Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C Marco Scutaro/Jed Lowrie, SS Speed. Power. Plate discipline. This lineup has it all. Good luck finding a hole from 1 to 7. Saltalamacchia is a bit of a wild card, but the 25-year-old could be ready for a breakout season. And whoever is the starting shortstop -- Scutaro or Lowrie -- gives the Red Sox one of the toughest No. 9 hitters in the game. Besides a potent offensive attack, the Red Sox will boast airtight defense, perhaps the best of any team in baseball. Turn to the bench, and manager Terry Francona has plenty of options. Mike Cameron, OF Darnell McDonald, OF Marco Scutaro/Jed Lowrie, INF Jason Varitek, C Youth, experience and versatility will ride the pine like lions waiting to hunt. Depth won’t be a problem, especially with players like Ryan Kalish, Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick on the farm. In 2010, the Red Sox scored 818 runs (second-most in the majors), or 5.1 per game. They hit 211 home runs (second in MLB) and posted a .790 OPS (tops in MLB). The offense, with even more weapons now, could demolish those numbers. Yet one run is all it might take to win a game on some days with the starting staff the Red Sox have assembled. Jon Lester, LHP Josh Beckett, RHP John Lackey, RHP Clay Buchholz, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP Lester is a Cy Young winner waiting to happen. Beckett will notch more than six victories. Lackey should be better equipped to avoid the one-bad-inning syndrome. Buchholz has become a force. And Dice-K might be the best No. 5 starter ever. The Japanese right-hander is the only pitcher in the rotation who’s never been an All-Star, but this could be the year he ends that streak. Every Red Sox starting pitcher has something to prove. While the Phillies might be the popular choice as the best rotation in baseball, don’t be surprised if people are singing a different tune come October. When Red Sox starters have to hand the ball to the bullpen this season, Boston fans won’t have to have to cover their eyes and pray. The weak link in 2010 could be one of the best relief corps in the business. Tim Wakefield, RHP Scott Atchison/Matt Albers, RHP Hideki Okajima, LHP Dan Wheeler, RHP Bobby Jenks, RHP Daniel Bard, RHP Jonathan Papelbon, RHP Okajima is the only known left-handed quantity. But youngster Felix Doubront has talent and should see some action. Rich Hill, Lenny DiNardo and Andrew Miller also could contribute. The right-handers in the mix all bring experience and different styles to the fire. Need long relief? Call on Wakefield to disrupt hitters’ timing. Need a middle-inning specialist to get key outs? Wheeler knows how to do the job, and Atchison proved serviceable last season. Albers could be a diamond in the rough. Want heat? Jenks and Bard throw seeds. Want to turn out the lights? Papelbon is pitching for a contract, so trust he will be ready to show he’s far from washed up. Reliability and consistency -- foreign concepts to Boston’s bullpen last season -- will be common words associated with this group. Every day should feel like Christmas for Curt Young, the new Red Sox pitching coach. The former A’s pitching coach didn’t have anything close to the horses he has now, and Oakland’s staff posted a 3.56 ERA last season, the best in the American League and fourth-best in the majors. Imagine what he can do with a Grade A collection of arms. The Red Sox were slated to win about 95 games last year. They won 89 despite injuries to Pedroia (a former MVP) and Youkilis (a possible future MVP). Add them back, along with the new players and a healthy Ellsbury, and 100 wins doesn’t just appear plausible. It seems downright inevitable. So does a date with history. The 2001 Mariners won 116 regular-season games to set the American League record for most wins in a single season and tie the 1906 Cubs for the major league record (though the North Siders accomplished the feat in 152 games). Both those teams failed to win the World Series. The Cubs lost to the White Sox in six games in the Fall Classic. The Mariners didn’t even make it that far, falling to the Yankees in five games in the ALCS. The Red Sox have no intention of suffering a similar fate. The way they are constructed, they could surpass the 116-win mark, but nothing less than a World Series title will make Boston happy. The 2011 Red Sox possess all the pieces to have a season for the ages. If everything falls into place and the breaks go their way, they could do more than set records and become champions. They could do more than take their place on Immortality Peak and end up being mentioned in the same sentence as legendary clubs of the past: the 1929 A’s, the epic Yankees teams of the ‘30s, the 1970 Orioles, the 1976 Reds. The 2011 Red Sox could accomplish a feat that has never been done. They could unseat the 1927 Yankees as the greatest major league team of all time. That would be something to celebrate.
To sum up:
The Red Sox have won 100 or more games three times in their 110-year existence. They will make it four in 2011.
Theo Epstein has put together a roster that would make Branch Rickey proud.
Speed. Power. Plate discipline. This lineup has it all.
Depth won’t be a problem.
One run is all it might take to win a game on some days with the starting staff the Red Sox have assembled.
Lackey should be better equipped to avoid the one-bad-inning syndrome.
Dice-K might be the best No. 5 starter ever.
Dice-K could be an All-Star
While the Phillies might be the popular choice as the best rotation in baseball, don’t be surprised if people are singing a different tune come October.
The bullpen could be one of the best relief corps in the business.
Every day should feel like Christmas for Curt Young, the new Red Sox pitching coach.
100 wins doesn’t just appear plausible. It seems downright inevitable.
The way they are constructed, they could surpass the 116-win mark
They could do more than take their place on Immortality Peak and end up being mentioned in the same sentence as legendary clubs of the past: the 1929 A’s, the epic Yankees teams of the ‘30s, the 1970 Orioles, the 1976 Reds.
They could unseat the 1927 Yankees as the greatest major league team of all time.
As my good friend June would say, you were WROOOOOOOOOOONG.
I'm really just curious how many media outlets will spin the story that way instead of ol' folksy Cliffers taking "less" money to play where he was comfortable (although the average annual value is higher than the reported offers that the Yankees and Rangers made even if the sixth year isn't guaranteed).
Had the Yankees signed him for the same dollars you can bet there would be another outcry about disparity. But the Phillies? Nope, this is just old friends reuniting!
Gammons on ESPN: "I checked (with) somebody in the Red Sox front office asking if they had heard and the response was 'there's no way Manny would', that they believe that Manny would test positive for steroids. So I mean, he didn't exactly leave Boston on the greatest of terms and they thoroughly believe that he would not be doing steroids, in any way."
There goes ol' Gammo, defending the Red Sox and saying it seems Manny just decided to start juicing in LA, without a shred of evidence except "the Red Sox said so." Ridiculous.
Selena Roberts Doesn't Really Have a Reliable Track Record
Whether or not anything - or everything - Roberts writes about Alex Rodriguez in her character assassination book is true, there seems to be a certain number of people (PeteAbe, for one) who are calling anyone who questions anything Roberts presents as "blind" or "homers" or being "in the tank."
I strongly recommend reading it, as it details how Roberts pulled a Nancy Grace and buried the Duke Lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape in the press, and when it was revealed that they were innocent, essentially continued to bury them rather than admit she was wrong.
I'm sure the initial leak of the steroid test was sent to Roberts because people had read her hatchet jobs in the past, and figured she'd bury Rodriguez (come on, why else would only his name of 104 surface?). Rather than print that report in the paper, she decided to cash in - cha-ching - and write a full book about it. How best to flesh out the book? Well, you're going to need to find more things to assassinate his character with.
Does Roberts reveal any sources, or back up any of her claims? No, of course not.
Again, I strongly suggest you read the ShysterBall article. It's a great bit of work to get you thinking that things printed in black on white aren't always so black and white. Whether or not A-Rod is a jerk or a liar or a cheater isn't so much the point as where Roberts tries to mix in her own opinions frequently in with facts to present a completely slanted picture.
Roberts explains that Rodriguez (then a shortstop) was tipping pitches too early. Normally a shortstop will let his teammates know what pitch is coming or the location of said pitch so they can adjust their defense accordingly. She goes through a complete explanation for most of the "evidence" of how Rodriguez tipped pitches. Well, he's supposed to. Jeter does it. It's how you let your teammates know what to expect.
She's claiming Rodriguez tipped too early. And as evidence:
At least one teammate in a very gentle way did say, "Hey, you might be tipping a little too soon out there." But one player trying to be diplomatic told me that he said, "I think you're tipping a little too soon," and the response from Alex was, "What are you talking about?" I don't think Alex was irritated at the player; I think he felt that he had been scrutinized too closely, that someone else was trying to tell him how to do his job.
One guy says "hey, you might be tipping too soon" and Alex says "what do you mean?" BAM! There's your gotcha moment!
Both (Doug) Glanville and (R.A.) Dickey were reluctant to believe the allegations, which are a part of Selena Roberts' forthcoming book "A-Rod," until further information is made available, but neither could be sure that it didn't happen either. "I certainly didn't know or see anything like that," said Glanville. "Obviously if that's true that would be insane. I don't remember hearing anything about that when I was there. Of course it would be egregious and unforgivable."
"From personal experience, I can tell you I've seen nothing or heard nothing that would support any chapter in that book that says that," said Dickey. "Then again, it's not so far outside the realm of possibility where you could dismiss it because obviously it could happen. It's mind-boggling."
Not to (Shane) Spencer. The journeyman outfielder said that while he never saw or heard of other players doing that, he wouldn't have been surprised if Rodriguez wasn't the only one doing so. "I'm sure it does happen. There are friends of friends. I'm sure there are catchers out there that have told guys what's coming. Hopefully it didn't happen [in Texas] and hopefully it didn't happen that often."
The allegations, which were first made public in a New York Daily News story on Thursday, are in Roberts' book, which will be released on Monday. In a phone interview with SI.com, Roberts said that over the course of a couple years, some people with the Rangers began to detect a pattern whereby Rodriguez would appear to be giving away pitch type and location to hitters, always middle infielders who would then be able to repay him in kind when he was at the plate, with his body movement. According to Roberts' sources, "If it was a changeup, he would twist his glove hand. To indicate a slider, he would sweep the dirt in front of him and he would bend in the direction of where the pitch was going to be, inside or outside." Roberts' sources stressed that this only occurred in games that had long since been decided and was done for "slump insurance. You can count on your buddy to help break you out of your slump. There was no intent to throw a game or change the outcome."
That explanation wasn't sufficient for Glanville or Dickey, who said "There's no situation that would ever justify him doing that on any level. That's somebody's ERA that's somebody's livelihood, that's somebody trying to provide for their family. I'm holding on to the belief that it's not true. No one with a conscience could do that. Blows me away."
Dickey does, however, have first-hand knowledge of Rodriguez's involvement with calling pitches. "My first year there (2001) there were a couple of games where he called the pitches from shortstop or helped the catcher called pitches, in a couple of my starts I know he did that," he said. "Einar Diaz was our catcher and Alex did that on occasion on a couple of my starts. I never knew it until after the fact but he helped [our] catcher out a couple times. But as far as giving away pitches I couldn't speak with any amount of knowledge on that subject."
Gammons, the "most respected baseball reporter in the country," just had this to say on ESPN Radio this morning (slight paraphrase):
"The Yankee bullpen is a mess. Joba will be back in the 'pen soon enough. Maybe if Mellon-Con can hold down the (setup) role this will be delayed or won't happen but chances are you'll see Joba in the setup role soon enough."
Besides the fact that the Yanks need Joba in the rotation now and in the future, Gammons is suggesting Joba's role should be defined by a kid with 1+ innings of major league experience, not by someone like Brian Bruney who will be back soon.
I'll also wage dollars to donuts that if Melancon were a Red Sox, Gammo wouldn't have pronounced his name as if it were a fruit and vegetable convention.
Baseball Tonight analysts say "yes" and then go on to speculate how the season will play out based on one or two games.
Case in point: the Red Sox (1-0) look great and should "run away" with the division on the back of Josh Beckett, the Phillies (0-2) are done, and have a "World Series hangover" and the new Yankees (0-1) can't handle the pressure of New York (although they played in Baltimore).
Hey, Did You Hear SportsCenter Moved to the West Coast?
Because if you didn't, you obviously didn't watch SportsCenter.
Rather than giving us more highlights or information.. on OPENING DAY of Major League Baseball, ESPN decided in their wisdom to give us tours of their new studio and information about the neighborhood, and every graphic flash said SC LOS ANGELES in huge letters and the hosts talked about their new offices, etc.
This is shit only the anchors really care about. Mention it once, and move on! People watch SportsCenter for... sports.
It's not like ESPN is Magellan navigating uncharted waters here... FOX Sports has had their studio in LA for years now.
So at the WBC today, Alex Rodriguez in an interview about his teammates says this about Jose Reyes:
"I wish he (Reyes) was leading off on our team, playing on our team."
Of course, the knee-jerk, drum up conrtoversy media immediately is turning this into a slam on Jeter, and A-Rod will have to issue an apology and Mr. Cool Derek can simply ignore it like water off a duck's back.
Let's be serious though... he was talking about a lineup with that guy at the top of it, not having him play shortstop for the Yankees. if anyone should feel "slighted" it would be Johnny Damon, the current Yankees leadoff hitter, since that's actually what Alex said.
This is starting to become Central Park Sunbathing-gate all over again. The guy invites his daughters to the DR workout and he's a jerk for that, too.
Oh, and sorry about the slight vacation. The site's back up and running now.
Forget about Joba Chamberlain being in the rotation - he needs to go back to the bullpen. From Day 1 of spring training. No ifs, ands or bugs.
With a top three of Sabathia, Burnett and Wang, and with Pettitte on the back end, Joba is most needed in the bullpen now, especially since Mariano Rivera is coming off shoulder surgery.
This way the Yankees New York Yankees can keep Joba's innings under control, and if Rivera needs a little extra time to be ready for the season, Chamberlain can be the emergency closer. If Rivera is right for the start of the season, then Chamberlain has the eighth inning and the Yankees are that much more of a force.
An eighth-inning dynamo is much more important to the Yankees now than a back-end starter, and besides, the Yankees have candidates for that fifth spot, including Phil Hughes and Alfredo Aceves.
There are some people in the Yankee front office who are convinced Chamberlain is best-suited for the bullpen anyway because of his emotional makeup and arm. Many scouts I've talked to say the same thing. In some ways, Chamberlain is like Jonathan Papelbon in makeup and talent. He lives for the competition every night.
When you are a starter, you have four days to kill between starts. When you are in the bullpen, you have to be ready to go every game.
This way Chamberlain can basically be a two-pitch pitcher, slider and fastball. He can mix in the curve, but he does not have to depend upon it as much as a starter, who needs three pitches to work the lineup, and this would mean less stress on his shoulder.
Chamberlain can just roll out of the bullpen and be that Raging Bull that Yankee fans have come to love. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, and when you step back and look at the situation now, Chamberlain looks great in the bullpen.
The Yankees should plan on it now. Joba is the perfect fit for this bullpen.
I'm not going to go off on the same rant again about how you should have your best pitchers throwing the most number of innings, etc etc, but it's the mentality of "that's what we saw him do!" that causes these sorts of ridiculous reactions. Nobody would have considered putting Roger Clemens in the bullpen to be a setup guy in his prime, would they? Why did the Twins move Johan Santana out of the bullpen? Who is more valuleable to a team: vintage Pedro Martinez, or vintage Scot Shields?
Stop with the comparisons to Papelbon. Joba can be emotional as a starter - it worked for Clemens and Pedro.
Let me give you another couple of examples:
A restuarant is in need of an emergency line chef for a night, and thus picks a recent graduate of a prestigious culinary academy to fill in and make soups for an evening. The soups are a great hit, and even though the chef studied for years and was well known as a classical french chef, the only job he is ever offered is making that same soup every night because heck, we know he can do that.
Rembrandt agreed to paint his cousin's house with him. All of the town agreed this was the finest painted house in all of the burgh, and wished Rembrandt to paint their houses for them as well. Rembrandt let them know he was an artist, not a house painter, but the townsfolk all agreed they would never buy his paintings because they wanted him painting houses.
Of course these examples are ridiculous, but so is the suggestion that Chamberlain is best used in the bullpen.
It was all a tease. It's like I'm a freshman in high school and the cute girl I had a crush on said she'd go to the dance with me.
Then she changed her mind.
While notorious cock-tease Bob Raissman reported that the firing of Joe Morgan and possibly Jon Miller from Sunday Night Baseball was imminent, it turns out he was incorrect.
Instead, ESPN will add Steve fucking Phillips to the broadcast booth. This is the same Steve Phillips who was a complete failure as Mets GM and then was asked by ESPN to hold mock press conferences as the GM for every other club. This is the same Steve Phillips who hates OBP so much that he calls players who walk a lot "selfish." This is the same Steve Phillips who has made it a habit of being wrong on Baseball Tonight for about four years now.
What the hell is ESPN ownership thinking? At the very least just throw in Rick Sutcliffe and a bottle of cheap gin instead.
Also sorry I've been absent most of the last week. I came down with bronchitis, but it seems to be getting better now.
Seriously, there is no excuse for this. Remember, the BBWAA denied Law and Rob Neyer membership because they don't write for traditional newspapers. Looks like the choices the BBWAA decided upon were much, much better. Do these guys even follow baseball? I mean, they're paid to do so, right?
There's a reason Vegas won't set odds on the 2009 season yet, and no respectible establishment will - nobody has any clue who will be on which fucking roster yet. vegas will start posting lines after the first of the year (and I'll buy my annual ticket at that time).
So either Yahoo! is hard up for stories, has an affiliation with BetOnline and is trying to promote it, or it's in bed with Boston.com (which would explain this year's heavy anti-Yankee stories). My guess is A and C.
Does Anyone Think this ESPN "Titletown" Thing is Anything Less than an Excuse to Crown Boston?
It's almost as stupid as last year's "Who's Next?" competition.
Seriously though, it's obvious it's a setup to give Boston the title. Besides it being stupid and me not caring at all about the results, when the inevitable happens it will simply go to further show ESPN's love for Beantown.
Normally, this is where I'd pick apart the article and point to where the author is completely wrong. I'm not going to do that this time, because the entire article is wrong.
Instead, I will sum up O'Connor's reasons for wanting to have 80 innings of Chamberlain instead of 200 for many seasons to come:
No longer as much of a "bogeyman"
Not as menacing
Blends in too much
Doesn't inspire unbridled dread in opposition
Fastball with vile intentions tamed
Was born to seek and destroy through late-night raids
Chamberlain is a reliever
Chamberlain is a devastating reliever
He requires three out adrenaline rushes
Joba should succeed Mariano Rivera
His mentality screams that he should be Jonathan Papelbon
Doesn't look like himself
Chamberlain is a manic slasher
He feeds on vulnerability and disappears into the night
He is too human
Does not inspire widespread panic
With well founded arguments like these, how could anyone disagree? My guess is O'Connor contacted Bill James for help in researching this factual and well researched treatise on how a player is best utilized.
Once again, people who are paid to watch and report on baseball are not able to successfully do either.
Flashback to last night's Orioles-Yankees game. 8th inning, Kyle Farnsworth in and the game is tied at 8. The Orioles broadcasters are Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer. The following is a very close paraphrase:
Thorne: Normally this is where you'd see Joba Chamberlain, tie game. Palmer: Well not now, you know Joba can do the job but now they're having to rely on Kyle Farnsworth. Thorne: It's a big loss for the Yankees - you need to win the games you are supposed to win. With a so-so starter and a great bullpen, you should win those games, but with a good starter and a lousy bullpen, you're not going to win those games you should win. Palmer: Farnsworth has a lot more experience, but he's not Joba Chamberlain. Thorne: Up until a week or so ago, he was their 8th inning guy. This whole issue was so poorly handled by the Yankees. They said in spring training that he was going to the bullpen, and that he's their setup guy this year and that's it, end of story. Then a week ago he starts being used for multiple innings in games you wouldn't use him normally, and when someone asks Girardi, he says that they're stretching him into a starter all of a sudden. Palmer: Of course two weeks after Hank Steinbrenner says that's where he wants him. Thorne: Just really poorly handled.
Of course Cashman stated in spring training that Joba was to pitch about 165 innings this year, and that he'd need to spend time in the bullpen in order to limit his innings before moving to the rotation. Inning counts have been a huge point of his ever since the "Joba Rules" of 2007. There was no surprise involved. Cashman laid it all out, clearly. Sorry you didn't get the memo, Gary Thorne.
Also that nonsense about "winning the games you should win" being possible only with a good bullpen and not a good starter? What kind of insane Mike and the Mad Dog nonsense is that?
Are most baseball announcers/writers/broadcasters/mediots really so dense that they prefer 80 innings from a great pitcher instead of 150?