Tag Archives: Curt Schilling

This Week in Boston Baseballing, February 1 – 6

The baseball season is rapidly approaching. Pitchers and catchers will begin to show up in Fort Myers in about a week and position players won’t be too far behind. Some guys, like Daniel Nava, Jon Lester, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr., have already been down in Florida for a few days.

Unless you have a strong opinion about who should bat leadoff or the relative merits of re-signing Stephen Drew, buzz around the team continues to be fairly minimal considering the Red Sox won the World Series last year. That figures to change in the next couple of weeks.

The Leadoff Hitter Debate
On FanGraphs, Paul Swydan comes to the conclusion that Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia are the most logical candidates to take over for Jacoby Ellsbury vacated leadoff spot in the batting order. Ellsbury’s replacement in center is Jackie Bradley Jr. and, at first glance, may seem like he fits the bill since his on-base rate in the minors was strong. However, Bradley does not have a lot of raw speed, nor is he a notably better baserunner than Victorino or Pedroia. That’s leaving out the difficulties JBJ had getting on base at the major league level during his brief stint with the team at the start of the 2013 season.

As Swydan notes, the youngster who could enter the leadoff discussion isn’t JBJ but rather Xander Bogaerts, who showed an almost shocking amount of poise and discipline during his postseason at-bats.

Bogaerts has a keen batting eye, which make him an ideal candidate to hit at the top of the order. He struck out a fair amount in his very brief major league debut, but a) The Book reminds us to not consider strikeouts when constructing a lineup, and b) Bogaerts’ strikeout numbers in the minors were not egregious, and he should adjust as he gets more plate appearances. If he hits right from the jump, he would probably make for a better candidate at the top of the order than would Victorino, simply from the standpoint of being able to see more pitches. Victorino was right around league average, at 3.83 pitches per plate appearance (the American League average was 3.86), but Bogaerts was up at 4.10.

Victorino would figure to get the first crack at leadoff once the season begins. John Farrell seems to be the kind of guy who appreciates continuity so even if Shane struggles at the start of the year, this argument could be a non-starter if the team is scoring runs. Lineup construction is of limited value to begin with and there is no sense putting undue pressure on Bogaerts if it can be avoided.

David Ortiz Lost Some Weight Maybe
Moronic talk radio fodder: What if he’s gotten TOO SKINNY?

The Stephen Drew Saga Continues
In the Tuesday Boston Herald Clubhouse Insider, infield coach Brian Butterfield fanned the flames of uncertainty:

“Shortstop is so demanding, and they get so many groundballs and there’s so many times they’re handling the ball, consistency becomes so important, especially if you’re talking about a championship-caliber club,” Butterfield said. “If you do have a young shortstop and he’s going to be the guy — and we still don’t have a definitive answer on that — he needs to mature quickly and become a consistent defender in order for us to be successful. The groundball that he can get to on time and on balance, you want to get to a point where you know that runner is out. That’s a consistent shortstop.”

Drew was great for the team last year. But it’s worth asking why the Red Sox continue to be interested. Is it because they’re simply not convinced Bogaerts can handle the shortstop position at the big league level? Or is it that Drew could be had for a salary so far below what his production merits that Ben Cherington just can’t pull himself away? Or are they doing Drew the favor of keeping in touch to aid his market? After all, it’s looking like Drew probably did the Sox a courtesy by declining arbitration and a 1 year, $14m contract.

The Team Announces a Stacked 2014 Red Sox Hall of Fame Class
The primary news of the week coming from official team releases was the announcement of the team’s 2014 Hall of Fame Class: Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra and radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione.

Standards for induction are relatively lax:

To be eligible for nomination, players must have played at least three years with the Red Sox and must also have been out of uniform as an active player at least three years.

But let it be known that the team hasn’t had any inductions since 2010, a year that included inductees such as John Valentin, Jimmy Piersall and Don Zimmer. Pedro, Clemens and Nomar all go in together.

Curt Schilling Announces Cancer Diagnosis
Here’s hoping Schilling is able to kick this as quickly as possible and that he gets a fair chance to show what he has as a color man in the ESPN Sunday Night baseball booth.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, August 9 – 15

Boston capped off a tough weekend, dropping three of four in Kansas City to the surging Royals. However, their place in the standings actually improved thanks to Tampa Bay’s six-game losing streak, which finally ended Wednesday night. Last night, the Sox stranded 12 runners to lose the rubber game of the three-game series in Toronto, 2-1, capping off the 10-game road trip.

The Yankees are in town for a three-game series at Fenway beginning tonight. Boston fans will have their first opportunity to boo A-Rod since the announcement that he will be suspended – at some point – for his involvement with Biogenesis.

Boston’s Playoff Odds Now Stand At 93.7%
Based on the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds report, the odds that the Red Sox make the playoffs now stand at 93.7%, with the team making the tournament 63.4% of the time as the AL East champs and 30.2% of the time as a Wild Card participant. Simulated wins projection has the Red Sox at right at 93 victories. While the Red Sox averaged 93.2 wins during the 10 years leading up to the 2012 debacle, it is hard not to have a special appreciation for the team’s success this season.

MLB Will Begin Using Instant Replay in 2014
Major League Baseball’s announcement that it will institute instant replay next season came with the claim that 89% of past incorrect calls would be reviewable under the new rules. Boston already had one game end in a loss this season – when Jerry Meals called a sliding Daniel Nava out at home – that may have gone the other way had replay been available.

Koji Uehara Vests His 2014 Contract In Style
During Tuesday night’s 4-2 victory in 11 innings against Toronto, Uehara earned a win as Boston recorded its 19th victory in its final at-bat. It was his 55th appearance, meaning that a $4.25 million option for 2014 has officially vested and Koji is likely to be a Red Sox for a second season. The vesting option increases to $5 million if Uehara finishes 35 games. As of Friday, he had finished 24.

Payroll Obligations for 2014 Now Stand At Roughly $110 Million
Boston already has most of its core officially on the books for next year with two notable exceptions – Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester, who can either be bought out for $250,000 or be extended for one more year at $13 million. In other words, Boston has a significant decision to make regarding Lester. The idea of yet another guy on the team making $13 mil may be too enticing to pass up, but if the Sox are bullish on Lester’s ability to maintain ~3.0-WAR value into his mid-30s, they might be able to get better value extending his contract a few years at a lesser annual average.

Stan Grossfeld Wrote A Pretty Strange ‘Where Are They Now?’ Profile of Curt Schilling
Curt provided only one surprising bit of news in the article – that he suffered a heart attack in November 2011. Although his reluctance to share the information with the general public is transparently phony, it was probably trumped by Grossfeld’s implication that he only caught wind of the information because a “visitor” mentioned it in passing to Schilling during the interview (conducted at Curt’s daughter’s softball game).

Curt’s wife Shonda (could she be considered a ‘visitor’??) believes her husband is lucky to be alive, but not because the heart attack was particularly serious: “I don’t know how somebody would not kill himself, honestly, over what he has had to endure,” she says.

Shonda Schilling probably gives fantastic wedding toasts.

Ayla Brown rendition of ‘God Bless America’ to replace ‘Sweet Caroline’ at Fenway in 2010

BOSTON–In what can only be considered a preemptive attempt to curry political favor should Scott Brown win Tuesday’s special election to replace legendary Senator Ted Kennedy, the Red Sox plan to silence the celebrated voice of Neil Diamond at Fenway this season.

The shocking news was originally buried within a presser posted on the team’s MLB.com news releases page last Friday announcing minor league transactions. Within the release, disguised as a primer on potential impact players such as 41-year-old left-handed relief specialist Brian Shouse, the Red Sox announced that a recording of Brown’s daughter, Ayla, will replace “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the eighth inning during all games played at Fenway Park during the upcoming 2010 season.

Brown, who has showcased her singing voice once or twice locally since appearing on American Idol, recorded the rendition of “God Bless America” on January 8 prior to performing the national anthem for the BU-BC hockey game at Fenway Park.

Club officials privately admitted to Fenway Pastoral that the timing of the release on the Friday before a long weekend was not a coincidence. After further questioning, the release was mysteriously edited and now merely highlights the relatively lackluster careers of journeymen such as Gil Velazquez, Fernando Cabrera, Jorge Sosa and Shouse.

According to a club executive speaking on condition of anonymity, the team believed they could successfully bury news about the cancellation of the playing of “Sweet Caroline” after local beat writers did not initially report the signing of the veteran Shouse until nearly two weeks after the transaction was posted on news wires.

As would be expected, the replacement of “Sweet Caroline” with an Ayla Brown cover was not received kindly by Red Sox fans.

“Right now, it’s probably the only thing Massachusetts can agree on,” said Barry Taylor of Jamaica Plain. “‘Sweet Caroline’ is awesome and everyone loves it. I’ve seen a lot of frustrating defeats at Fenway where the only good thing about the game was hearing Neil Diamond.”

In fact, even staunch republican Curt Schilling, who has campaigned hard for Scott Brown on his blog, 38 Pitches, planned to denounce the decision on his blog sometime after the election.

“‘God Bless America’? Where are we, Yankee Stadium?” asked incredulous Cambridge resident Joseph Graham. “The team is going to regret this decision.”

Asked about the announcement this morning at the Martin Luther King Day breakfast, Martha Coakley responded with a question of her own: “Who the (expletive) is Brian Shouse?”

At least make an effort to hide your chubbies beneath those laptops, Boston sports media

Curt Schilling possibly vying for the late Edward Kennedy’s empty seat in the Senate? Yeah, this story could have legs. A veritable Big-Show blowhard bonanza delivered right to your newsroom desks and radio booths. Somebody called him on the phone!!…He’s been contacted!! He’s not denying it!…He’s being coy now, but just wait a couple days…

Tell us what you think, Bob Ryan. Your head must be spinning with the possibilities, Gerry Callahan. (You may be able to top 500 words with this column…) Don’t straddle the fence on this one, Dan Shaughnessy. Start drinking a couple extra hours before airtime, John Dennis. Guzzle some Listerine and fix your tie, Bob Lobel – someone might call you.

The stronger your opinion, the better. We need to know what you think and we need to know now because in a couple days, this potential goldmine could go away. Big Schill didn’t slam the door on running for Ted Kennedy’s seat and, therefore, he’s keeping that door ajar like a leadoff walk in the ninth inning. Surely, January’s election would rival The Dave Roberts Steal in sheer excitement were Schilling to enter the mix.

Are these pseudo-politico-baseball puns working for you guys? We know you can do better. Just do it fast. In a couple days, there is a strong possibility Schilling will grow tired of seeing his name in the headlines for such a ludicrous idea and abandon it in favor of something a bit less…involved. Wait too long, and your thoughts on the story will seem more awkward and out of place than when Gary Tanguay pretends he likes sports.

Perhaps you can play a role in scaring No. 38 away from doing something regrettable.

Retire to the nerdery with your calculator, Curt Schilling

What’s the problem? It isn’t enough for you to embarrass us by contributing blog postings to the Web site for WEEI, a sports radio station whose callers routinely lend evidence to the notion that the general population is getting dumber? Are you not sated by your uncanny ability to offer up your opinion (often on said radio station as a ‘caller’) on hot-button topics having nothing to do with you? Are you bored with your trite, exclamation point-riddled Twitter updates that make teenage girls’ Facebook status updates sound like verses of T.S. Eliot by comparison?

Your name means something to fans in this town. You symbolize a refusal to go down quietly in the disgrace of seemingly certain defeat. Simply put, you were a warrior who pitched hurt and won under extreme pressure back in October of 2004. Your Curt’s Pitch for ALS charity work is applauded, admired and worthy of the utmost respect. Hell, you wrote the damn letters on your bloody cleats…we get it.

But there’s nothing heroic or admirable about a retired athlete spending his post-ballplaying days developing a video game centered around slaying fictional creatures in fantastical lands of make-believe. Sure, you won’t be doing much of the actual “creating.” But recent news stories have you playing an integral role in your start-up company 38 Studios‘ development of a fantasy video-gaming franchise, code-named Project Copernicus.

Code-named Copernicus? Is this being developed in your treehouse? Will Shonda be serving you and your colleagues Ecto Cooler juice boxes and Teddy Grahams while you sit on beanbag chairs?

Now, this is not an indictment on video games, video game makers or video game players. This is a criticism of your assumption that your investment in the next World of Warcraft-esque cult/franchise/religion/phenomenon is a perfectly suitable career move for a retired baseball player.

Why can’t you take up fishing like the late Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr? Become a dentist like Jim Longborg. Or go golfing with Fred Lynn? Or become a pitching advisor like Luis Tiant? Or race stock cars and wrestle alligators like Mike Greenwell?

We have tried mightily to keep you in the small fraternity of former Red Sox players with total immunity from any objection or ridicule. But this is the last straw. You’re officially out of the club. Johnny Pesky may have held the ball back in the day, but he spent the next 60 years working for the team, doing manly things like hitting fungoes to rookies learning the ins and outs of the Fenway Park outfield.

You’re just always going to be that member of the family that everybody tolerates but rolls their eyes at as you walk away. You want to become a beta-tester for a video game that will further decrease the already long odds that the more socially awkward members of society ever have sex (with a person). What next?

This is not the way we wanted to remember you. But, frankly, you’re not leaving Red Sox fans much choice. Your awesome 2004 season seems like a long time ago.

Next time you’re invited to Fenway for some old-timer’s reunion or legends appreciation night, have the decency not to stand too close to guys like Rice, Evans, Yaz, Pesky, Ortiz, Wakefield and Lynn. Those guys invoke various feelings of pride and dignity. Lately, all we can manage to do when we look or listen to you is snicker.