Tag Archives: Will Middlebrooks

Clay Buchholz’s Love Doctor Mailbag: ‘A Lonely October’ Edition

clay-buchholz lindsay clubine

The 2014 season didn’t exactly go as scripted for the Red Sox or for right-handed starter and former ladies man Clay Buchholz, who now leads a quiet domestic life with his wife (model Lindsay Clubine) and their two daughters. Injuries forced ol’ Buck from the saddle for a time in the middle of the year, but Clay is trying to re-insert himself into the conversation as a front-end starter as the team closes out 2014 and looks ahead to bigger and better things in 2015. Buchholz was kind enough to lend his legendary insight to Fenway Pastoral by answering some questions from readers during a recent off day.

Clay,

Can you please have a sit down with Will Middlebrooks and figure out what’s going on? He’s gripping that bat awfully tight these days and it’s hard not to conclude his personal life with Jenny Dell is having some sort of impact. What is he out of his league with her? Are his struggles the universe’s sick way of re-establishing a balance? I’m worried this chick is like the ultimate Reverse Slumpbuster.

-Greg from Whitman

Greg, these strikeouts have to be pretty frustrating for him. I think the poor kid’s just trying too hard. You may be on to something I suppose. But remember, Will did have some injury issues earlier this year, so I’ll give him a mulligan for that. Then again, I am pretty worried that this NFL sideline reporter gig Jenny’s got now is going to create some tension. At least when she was with NESN, she and Will were in the same city and got to go home together at the end of the day even on road trips. I don’t think I’d want my wife anywhere near these handsy NFL dudes for four months – or Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts for that matter.

Clay,

What do you make of this whole Jonathan Papelbon controversy? He grabbed his crotch while staring down the crowd in Philly, which was booing him as he walked into the dugout. Classless, disgusting act if you ask me…

-Marianne from New Bedford

Marianne, you sound like a proper lady and I understand where you’re coming from. But I remember years ago, I used to meet plenty of nice dames by making eye contact from across a crowded club or dance floor and doing that exact same move. I’ve got to assume Pap spied somebody in the stands who he thought was pretty cute and he probably just forgot where he was for a brief, ill-fated moment.

Either way though, Pap’s got to recognize the life and times he lives in. This ain’t the old days anymore – the camera is always trained on you. Just look at this shot of me walking back to the Fenway dugout recently – smartphones just zeroing in on me like a rockstar. Guys in our shoes are afforded a lot of things, but fixing yourself in public is one of those luxuries that you lose in the process. Sigh.

Embed from Getty Images

Clay,

Did you see that A-Rod joined LinkedIn? Would you ever consider joining a career networking site to supplement your off-the-field earnings? I’m sure you’ve got some good years left in the tank, but everybody needs a fall-back plan right?

– Rick from Springfield

Rick, I don’t have any fancy “ARod Corp.”-like side ventures going on right now. I like to fly a bit lower on the radar. I don’t need some broad who saw me six years ago at some Penthouse party back when I was dating Erica Ellyson triangulating my whereabouts using some weirdo stalker algorithm. I leave my past in the past, my friend. (Which, incidentally, is a pretty good motto to live by if you’ve ever been into that whole dating porn stars thing – they just don’t age very well…).

Buchholz networking

Clay back in his heyday, doing some true “social networking.”

Clay,

On average, you take 25.6 seconds to fulfill your off-the-back-of-the-mound baseball massaging, sniffing, snorting, deep-breath pre-pitch routine. This pace is by far the slowest of any pitcher on the Red Sox staff and third in all of major league baseball behind David Price and Jorge De La Rosa. You better start speeding it up a bit – Tom Werner just joined a committee that’s looking at creative ways to speed up the ball game and I’ve got to assume your name’s gonna come up as a culprit to be reckoned and dealt with.

– Mary from Lynnfield

Mary, pitching is an art and the baseball field is, as a practitioner of said art, my milieu – my stage, if you will. A good performance, top-notch entertainment cannot be rushed. A guy like Tom Werner who made his hay using a canned, 22-minute sitcom format cannot possibly understand this principle.

Clay,

You’re slated to start the last game of the season at Fenway against the Yankees. You could in theory be the last pitcher to pitch to Derek Jeter before he hangs it up for good. It’s a pretty hot ticket right now – people could be paying $300 a pop for tickets if the Yanks are OK with his last game being in Boston. Will you give him something to hit as part of some unwritten baseball player “bro code”? You know, one ladies’ man to another?

– Rod from Plympton

Everybody wants to force this sex symbol vs. sex symbol narrative on us, Rod. I’ve had it. Sure, the ladies love me and Derek and all that but I think we’re both pretty bashful about it. As for deliberately grooving one into his wheelhouse, I think that would probably be pretty insulting. Having said that, I think it’d be pretty rude of him to take me deep if I accidentally hang one in the strike zone. We’ll see what kind of gentleman this guy really is come Sunday…

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NESN reporter Jenny Dell’s scoop on Will Middlebrooks’ offseason work at 2B called into question by people with opinions

It was only a matter of time.

middlebrooks

WMB as Pedroia’s backup? Watchdog journalists are questioning whether he has the mechanics.

Jenny Dell has officially broken through with her first major “get” thanks to her privileged access to a player on the Red Sox.

During a segment featured on NESN Daily, Dell dropped a potentially significant bombshell upon Red Sox Nation last night: Will Middlebrooks, Boston’s starting third baseman and her current boyfriend, has been taking ground balls and “working out extra” at second base this offseason. Dell cryptically floated the news and refused to elaborate.

Media analysts, industry experts and professional linguists believe that if the report is true, the team is working Middlebrooks at a different position in an effort to expand his role with the team in case Boston re-signs Stephen Drew and opts to move Xander Bogaerts to third.

Jenny on ledge

Jenny Dell is standing by her story about her boyfriend Will Middlebrooks’ extended work at second base this winter.

As one analyst from the Poynter Institute noted, “The team doesn’t really have that clear-cut, utility infielder that really rounds out a true contender. Sure, there are a few guys like Brock Holt on the 40-man roster. But if Middlebrooks is able to serve as insurance against a Pedroia injury, the team will really enjoy a measurably higher amount of roster flexibility.”

It should be noted that Middlebrooks did indeed put in some time last summer working out at second base in case the team needed him in a pinch prior to Holt’s September call up. He even played four errorless innings at the position in San Francisco in August.

However, long-time media critics speaking to Fenway Pastoral on condition of anonymity are having a hard time digesting the veracity of this particular report.

“Will doesn’t have the touch OR the soft hands required to consistently work around the second base bag, initiating double plays, turning over tosses from the shortstop, fielding short-hops from the catcher on steal attempts,” observed one journalism ethics watchdog. “He’s got a good throwing arm, but that would be largely useless at second base. I don’t know how Jenny Dell – of ALL people – doesn’t know that. What games has she been watching these past two years?”

Said another respected observer, “He’s probably just having a little bit of fun is all. I wouldn’t read too much into it. It’s January for crying out loud. Maybe everybody should just freaking relax and see where things actually stand in March. I don’t know why people are getting all up in arms about this. The real question is can Will lay off the high fastball and hit for a consistent average.”

Added a Pundit Who Says Lots Of Stuff On the Radio, “I start at third base on the station’s softball team and I had to fill in at second one day due to an injury. It was a hard transition! The footwork and the timing and the angle at which the ball leaves the bat? All that stuff is so different at second base. I have grave concerns about this whole thing if it’s true. WMB better check himself.”

This Week in Boston Baseballing, October 25 – 31

Boston’s weekend in St. Louis started off pretty rudely Saturday night thanks to a baserunner obstruction call against Will Middlebrooks that gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in the 2013 World Series. However, that loss would prove to be the team’s last defeat of the season. Boston would come back to win a tight game the next night thanks to a gutsy effort from Clay Buchholz on Sunday. The Red Sox managed to beat Adam Wainwright for a second time on Monday before heading home and clinching its third World Series championship in the last 10 years on Wednesday night. It was the first time the team had clinched a world title at Fenway Park since 1918. There will be a parade in Boston on Saturday.

Game 6 itself wasn’t much of a game in the HOLY SHIT GAME 6! way that some other Game 6’s in the team’s history have played out. Shane Victorino hit a double off the wall with the bases loaded in the 3rd inning off Michael Wacha. John Lackey made the lead stick from there. The Red Sox had a 99% win probability by the 7th inning and Carlos Beltran’s RBI single only moved the needle down to 97%.

Game 6 win probability
Source: FanGraphs

Koji The Man On Front Pages
Boston Sports Media Watch had an exhaustive rundown of all the daily newspapers’ headlines on Thursday morning. Eleven out of the 15 papers featured on BSMW opted for variations of photos of Koji Uehara celebrating in the arms of catcher David Ross and other teammates. The Red Sox closer went from one of the least appreciated, recognizable guys on the team in his middle relief days to one of the most popular players on the team. But surprisingly, it was The Boston Herald coming through with maybe the best and most unique front page.

Herald Front Page 10/31/2013

The timely shot was taken after Jonny Gomes slid in safely at home to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead on Victorino’s wall ball. Our favorite part is on-deck hitter Xander Bogaerts joining Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz to help synchronize the safe call on Gomes along with the umpire. It is perfect and – as good as Uehara has been this year – this is the more appropriate lasting image of the 2013 team and its incredible season.

David Ortiz Wins World Series MVP
In almost any other year, Jon Lester’s two shutdown starts to beat one of the NL’s best in Wainwright twice would have earned him the MVP. But thanks to his well-documented, otherworldly performance, Big Papi had the MVP honors wrapped up pretty early.

Going into Game 6, Dave Cameron pointed out that:

Ortiz has played in 13 World Series games. In six of them, he has either scored or driven in a run on the play with the largest win probability added in the game. In other words, he has scored a run or had an RBI on the most important play of the game in almost half of his World Series games.

St. Louis finally decided not to pitch to Papi on Wednesday. Ortiz walked four times – three intentionally – and scored two runs. So to amend Cameron’s note:

Ortiz has played in 13 14 World Series games. In six seven of them, he has either scored or driven in a run on the play with the largest win probability added in the game. In other words, he has scored a run or had an RBI on the most important play of the game in almost half of his World Series games.

The Obstruction Call and the Role of Intent
Sam Miller at Baseball Prospectus summed up the Will Middlebrooks obstruction issue pretty soundly in a piece posted Sunday morning. Many Red Sox fans have argued over intent – or more specifically the absence of clear intent to obstruct. But the rulebook, as it stands now, basically goes out of its way to exclude the need for interpretation of a fielder’s intent.

…At the end of Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment, it lays out this exact scenario: “For example: if an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.” It’s so specific. It is as though this play happened and they wrote the rule immediately after with a play exactly like this one in mind. And the rule they came up with is… ambivalent! “He very likely has obstructed the runner.” Not “he has,” but “he very likely has.” Probably. Maybe. Up to you to decide. Use your best judgment. What am I, God?

The guess here is that come next year, sufficient language will be written into the rulebook to ensure that the grounds for the call made against Middlebrooks will either be set in stone with some less ambivalent, more specific parameters. Or, if MLB really wants to keep things interesting, it could open up such plays as judgement calls that are reviewable on replay.

Jacoby Ellsbury Is Probably A Goner
ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote in the wake of the euphoria Thursday morning that the Red Sox center-fielder is probably headed elsewhere, based mainly on how far away the team and his agent were two years ago.

According to sources: After the 2011 season, for which Ellsbury finished second in the American League MVP race, the Red Sox offered him a deal that fell slightly short of $100 million. The counter-offer from agent Scott Boras, according to sources, was for a deal of about $130 million. The gap in the negotiations was too large to bridge at that time.

There is a possibility that with GM Ben Cherington now fully at the helm, the gulf may narrow. But odds are that gap is even larger now, especially with Cherington coming off the high of a World Series in which several bargain bin guys contributed. He may very well be licking his chops at the chance to find this offseason’s version of Shane Victorino.

Cardinals Play-by-Play Man’s Laughter Turns to Misery
As Marc Normandin on Over the Monster wrote, the best part about Kolten Wong being picked off first to end Game 5 was that Cardinals play-by-play guy Michael Shannon took the Red Sox to task for even holding the runner on first base. Shannon even began laughing, calling the whole thing “silly.”

(From the Washington Post)

(From the Washington Post)

John Henry Explains His Newly Purchased Newspaper Project
John Henry said all the right things in an editorial from Saturday in which he explained his purchase of The Boston Globe and Boston.com. The piece is chock-full of lofty language and platitudes regarding civic responsibility and encouraging influential thinking and being a catalyst for activism. The Red Sox principal owner even went so far as to cite his political idealism that budded in the 1960s when he joined the civil rights movement and volunteered to assist in presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy’s campaign.

John Henry globe

It’s still difficult to get a good read on Henry’s angle here. But the guy deserves some credit for outlining in such detail his intentions for acquiring an embattled business.

I soon realized that one of the key things the paper needed in order to prosper was private, local ownership, passionate about its mission. And so decisions about The Boston Globe are now being made here in Boston. The obligation is now to readers and local residents, not to distant shareholders. This, ideally, will foster even bolder and more creative thinking throughout the organization, which is critical in an industry under so much stress.

Meanwhile, Henry’s plans for Boston.com are vaguely grandiose. But, unfortunately, the continued polarization of pay-worthy content and the garbage people will only read for free likely means more moronic stories such as a local woman finding a green pepper that looks like a Red Sox “B” as she prepared a taco prior to Game 6.

Terse Predictions: 2013 World Series Game 3, Boston @ St. Louis

Probably tragically inaccurate forecasts as the Red Sox and Cardinals meet tonight at Busch Stadium for a pivotal swing game with the 2013 World Series knotted up at one win apiece.

1. The sloppy defense in the first two games is contagious. Each team will commit at least one error in Game 3.

2. Boston will have five runners LOB in the first three innings.

3. Jake Peavy will give up at least one run in the first two innings.

4. Peavy will lay down one successful bunt in the ballgame.

5. St. Louis starter Joe Kelly will throw less than 90 pitches.

6. A total of three home runs will be hit in the ballgame.

7. Will Middlebrooks will double sometime in the later innings.

8. Quintin Berry will pinch run but will not steal any bases.

9. Brandon Workman will come into the game before the 8th inning.

10. At least one Red Sox hitter will start and see single-digit pitches overall in the game.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, Sept. 20 – 26

The Red Sox won two of three at home against the Blue Jays over the weekend and then split a two-game set in Colorado that was bookended by two days off on Monday and Thursday. Boston has just three games left in the regular season against the Orioles at Camden Yards beginning tonight. The team will then have four days off leading up to Game 1 of the ALDS at Fenway Park on Friday, October 4.

Boston Clinches the American League East
On Friday night, the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays to secure the 2013 AL East crown. The Red Sox remain in a fight with the Oakland Athletics for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. As of Friday morning, Boston was two games ahead of the A’s for the best record in the AL. The team’s 96 wins is the most since 2007 and the team has a chance to at least match the 98 wins it had in 2004 with a couple of victories this weekend. A series sweep would give Boston 99 wins, a benchmark last achieved in 1978.

Red Sox AL East champs

Anyway, it would be fair to say that team owner John Henry is…uh, reasonably excited but maybe slightly jaded and underwhelmed by simple feats like merely “Winning the American League East.”

Sox ownership cheering clincher

Boston’s Run Differential On Par With 2004, 2007 … and 1950
The Red Sox enter tonight’s game with a run differential of +190, which is 10 runs better than in 2004 (+180) and 20 runs behind the 2007 team (+210) that paced the AL from wire to wire. The Gold standard for dominance, however, was the 1950 team, which had a run differential of +219.

Is The Playoff Rotation Set?
Boston will run out Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey over the weekend against Baltimore. This could very well be the playoff pecking order starting next Friday, although things could certainly change between now and then.

Jake Peavy threw 110 pitches in his win Wednesday night in Colorado. There is a pretty good chance he’ll start one of the ALDS games and it might make sense to make sure it happens at Fenway Park, depending on how seriously the Sox deem his home/road splits since becoming a Red Sox. Peavy has thrown only 21 of his 64 ⅔ innings with the team at Fenway Park, but he went seven innings in each start and struck out 22 batters in those 21 frames. Who the Sox face may be a primary factor. One of Peavy’s home starts was against a potential ALDS opponent, the Detroit Tigers, on July 25. In that game, he went 7.0 IP, 7 K, 2 BB, 3 HR and 4 ER.

Ticket Demand for the Postseason Is Strong
According to TiqIQ, the average price for an ALDS ticket is $373. However, so far the lower-end resale market looks reasonable. Tickets for standing room only and bleachers range from about $100-200. (Pictured below, nearly 300 tickets for Section 36 are available for Friday night’s Game 1).

TiqIq Fenway ALDS

On Todd Helton Night, Will Middlebrooks Has His Own Todd Helton Night
Bobbleheads were doled out, family photos incorporating a purple-clad horse were taken, and the man of the hour even hit a timely first-inning homer. But Will Middlebrooks paced a vicious Boston attack that included 15 runs by hitting two home runs and collecting seven RBI. If the young Red Sox third baseman keeps this up for the next decade and a half, we may just be seeing WMB receive a commemorative horse in the shadow of the Green Monster someday.

Helton night ruined

Incidentally, why don’t the Red Sox incorporate horses into their on-field celebrations anymore? Watching Johnny Gomes kick beer cans into the stands is fun – if a bit dangerous – but, back in the day, watching players wave to the fans from the top of police horses always felt kind of classy.

Mo Vaughn on police horse

Red Sox Rookies Enjoy Some Good Old-Fashioned Hazing
Boston rookies Drake Britton, Brandon Workman, Xander Bogaerts, Allen Webster, Steven Wright and Brock Holt were photographed wearing Scottish kilts earlier this week.

Look kids! Team-building doesn’t have to involve sodomy!

Sox rookies in kilts