No stripes for Unit
Boston Globe baseball scribe Gordon Edes weighs in on the Olde Towne Team in this edition of the Ask Edes mailbag.
Watching Randy Johnson throw that perfect game last week made me sick. Not that I don't admire The Big Unit, but I have visions of him ending up in pinstripes this year. His contract calls for $16 million next year which pretty much eliminates every team in the league except the Yankees from acquiring him. With the amount of good left handed hitters the Sox have on their roster, I can not see the Yankees passing up on him. How far do you think the Sox will go to prevent this from happening? Do you see Schilling being any kind of influence on Johnson?
-- Oscar, NY
A: Oscar, if it makes you feel any better, both Arizona owner Jerry Colangelo and GM Joe Garagiola Jr. insist they have absolutely no interest in trading Johnson, even if the D-Backs are still out of contention come the trading deadline. Johnson is signed through next season, and a personal services deal through 2011, and the D-Backs folks say they won't surrender their ace. Also, the Unit has a full no-trade clause in his deal, and is also a 10-5 veteran (10 years in the league, 5 years with the same team), meaning he could veto any deal. So unless both the D-Backs and the Unit change their minds, no need to worry about the Bombers. And no, I don't think Schilling would be able to persuade RJ that the Sox would be a better fit.
Do you think David Ortiz took less than his "market value" when he signed an extension last week? And if so, why? And could that effect negotiations with the other "Big Four" free agents?
-- Tom, Cambridge
A: Tom, He absolutely did. The two-year deal (plus an option) guarantees Ortiz $12.5 million , or a fraction over $4 million a year. I think there's another team that would have given Ortiz a three-year guaranteed deal in excess of that, probably in the $17 million to $20 million range, though the one thing that hurts him is he is a defensive liability and probably best suited for DHing. But two things to consider: The market is changing, so Ortiz may have had some questions whether he could do much better than the $19.5 mil he'll get from the Sox if they pick up his deal in 2007 ($7.75 million or a $750,000 buyout). Plus, he loves it here, and he should: Coming into the weekend, he was batting 70 percentage points better at home (.322) than on the road (.252) since coming to Boston. The split is 96 percentage points (.341 to .245) this season. I'm planning to point out that disparity in my notes column this Sunday. Ortiz has become a terrific Fenway hitter, making full use of the Wall.
Now that Bill Mueller is on the DL, do you think Kevin Youkilis is ready to become the everyday Red Sox third baseman? More importantly, will he get that chance? Or do you think the Sox will go after someone else should Youkilis slump?
-- Greek God of Mailbag Questions
A: An anonymous query to the 'Bag? It would be prudent of the Sox to line up a backup plan in case Youkilis does become overmatched, though he's certainly off to an auspicious start. Bellhorn is an option for the short term, and Jack McKeon, who had Pokey Reese in Cincinnati, says that Reese would win a Gold Glove at third. But unless Youkilis goes totally into the tank, I think the Sox will ride out the six weeks it is projected Mueller will need before he comes back.
Spending most of my life in Boston and being a lifelong Sox fan, I know how we fans can be extremely positive one minute and brutally negative the next. However, I can't understand how some fans can be so negative this season when the Sox are in first place over the Empire without two of their top players. The Yanks have had their "Dream Team" primarily intact so far this season and the Sox are ahead of them with bench players and call-ups. I 'm sure that sports reporters need to write about the bad as well as the good, but are you surprised that some fans can be so negative when we're in first without Nixon and Garciaparra?
-- Laura Murphy, Anacortes, WA
A: Surprised, Laura? C'mon. We both know that there would be some fans (and media types) who would find something to grouse about even if the Sox had a 10-game lead with 7 games left to play. It's in the New England character, I guess, to complain even in the best of circumstances. But I think even the whiners would grudgingly admit they're pleased with how these Sox have performed.
Will you please go nose to nose with Garciaparra and ask him if he truly wants to remain in Boston and what it will take to keep him here. Then ask him if he is being truthful with his answer. I feel with his BS over the past few months he would like to leave. If so trade him now and get something in return. I feel he would like to leave the RS high and dry! Maybe he can play second base for the Yankees. I am sure this has entered his mind.
-- Robert Boulrisse, Sebring, Fl
A: Robert, the question has been put to Nomar countless times, by myself and others. He maintains he has been consistent in saying he wants to stay here, which is true, although last season in at least a couple of interviews he threw in the caveat that this was the only place he knew, so how could he comment on how it would be to go somewhere else. And remember, the Sox were the ones who proposed trading Nomar last winter; the shortstop wasn't asking to be dealt. So until he proves otherwise, I think we have to take the man at his word.
Has there been any resentment in the clubhouse towards former replacement players Kevin Millar and Brian Daubach? The reason I ask is based on the story I read a few years ago that detailed Mark Portugal's shabby treatment of Daubach. Has that feeling persisted or was it only a personal grudge Portugal had against Daubach?
-- Chris Gallagher, New Haven, CT
A: Chris, Portugal, to my knowledge, was the only player to single out Daubach like that. Millar, of course, is either 1 or 1A as most popular guy in the Sox clubhouse, and Daubach is an accepted veteran.
I bought the MLB baseball package from Dish Network. Now I discover that today's Sox-A's game at Fenway is blacked out here in Hawaii. That's crazy!! What's the point?? And who can I contact about this idiotic policy?
-- Jim Loomis, Haiku, Maui
A: Jim, I don't know the whys and wherefores of the MLB Extra Innings policy, though that does seem insane. I pulled up their blackout rules; I'm at a loss to know which of these apply. I can't imagine that Hawaii qualifies as the home territory for either the Sox or A's. Maybe a more astute reader will notice. Here are the regulations.
Q: Blackout Information
A: All local and national blackout restrictions still apply. In other words, subscribers within a club's Home Television Territory cannot get that clubs' games in this national package. In addition, due to the national exclusivity of both ESPN and FOX, there are no games available for distribution via this package on Saturday day or Sunday night. Please see the below for further detail.
Q: Local Blackout Information
A: If you live in a zip code that is within a Major League Baseball team's territory, that team's games will be blacked out from the MLB EXTRA INNINGSSM game package, but will generally be available as part of your local regional sports, cable or over-the-air affiliate station. Blackouts protect the local rights holders who arrange separate distribution agreements for their exclusive territories.
Q: ESPN Blackout Information
A: ESPN has an exclusive national broadcast window for all Major League Baseball games on Sunday nights; therefore, no telecast can be made available for DBS distribution. As they have rights to night games only, any games which start after 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT) cannot be distributed via DBS carriers out-of-market.
Q: Fox Television Network Blackout Information
A: For Saturdays in the regular season between May 22nd and October 2nd, with the exception of Saturday September 4th and 11th, the FOX Television Network has the exclusive national rights to broadcast games up until 7:00pm ET (4:00pm PT). So, while you will not receive Major League Baseball games on your MLB EXTRA INNINGS channels any of those Saturday mornings or afternoons, you will receive the available Saturday night games that begin after 7:00pm ET (4:00pm PT). For Saturday morning and afternoon games, check out the FOX Network local schedule.
Who to contact? Christopher Tully is the senior vice president for Broadcasting in MLB. Their offices are 245 Park Av NY, NY 10167
If concern about "burst" is holding-up Nomar's progress toward a return to play, has anyone considered having him play second base the remainder of this season?
-- Gerry Brandmeyer, Orland, CA
A: Gerry, not sure I understand the question. I assume you're asking about whether the fear of rupturing the Achilles is what is holding Nomar back. Nomar won't play period-either second or short-if that's a risk., They're waiting for him to pay at a pain threshold that is tolerable and will not impede his performance, and he isn't there yet.
Hello Gordon, My question is: Did you receive my letter concerning the Utilization of Day Time Bleacher Seats which I sent to five top ranking Red Sox officials and, also one to you. You may have commented on my idea which you called "ingenious" but I have yet to heard from any Red Sox official or any member of the Globe Sports Staff. If you did write any material please forward it to me. I'm sure you can relate to my interest.......Doesn't look like I'll hear from the Sox!
-- Wm. "Hubba" Mazenkas, Medford, MA and Las Vegas, NV
A: Forgive me, "Hubba," if I somehow overlooked your suggestion. Are you saying you think the Sox were inspired by your missive? If that's the case, then they owe you your props. But to be honest, I think they've been kicking the idea around for awhile. They ran a dry run back at the start of the season, using ushers as fans during BP.
All these people are asking about players the Sox can't get (lack of prospects or free agent status) or who play positions where the team is already strong. To me, the biggest needs are better production at 1B and 3B, as well as one more reliever now that Arroyo is in the rotation. How about Edgar Martinez? Seattle is struggling and looks like they might throw in the towel. I think Edgar said he's retiring after this season, so Seattle might as well get some talent for him while giving him a chance for a ring. He'd fit in great as a DH, with Ortiz at 1B and Millar rotating thru 1B, RF & DH. Also, how about Joe Randa at 3B if Mueller's knee is a major problem? He's a solid gap/doubles hitter, he's good defensively, and I believe he's only signed thru this season. Neither one of these guys would cost very much in terms of talent. Do you think that either of these players would be obtainable, or that the Sox would be interested?
-- Alex Fisher, New York, NY
A: Alex, Edgar has no-trade protection as a 10-5 guy: I don't think he's interested in going anywhere. Randa makes sense, and bears watching. You are correct about him being in a walk year, and the disappointing Royals might be persuaded to unload him.
I was thinking about Marty Barrett and the Hidden Ball Trick the other day. You never seem to see this anymore. When was the last time a Sox player attempted/pulled it off? How about in the major leagues?
-- Holly Davis, North Kingstown, RI
A: Holly, incredibly, the wonderful baseball website, Retrosheet, has a complete list of hidden-ball perpetrators and victims. (http://www.retrosheet.org/hidden.htm). It hasn't happened since 1999, when J.T. Snow of the Giants caught Dodgers pitcher Carlos Perez. Barrett and Sox shortstop Jody Reed collaborated to catch Jim Traber of the Orioles on Sept. 5, 1988. In a 2002 game against the Expos, Tomas Perez of the Phillies tried the hidden-ball trick and nearly got Brian Schneider, but it was ruled that Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal had called time out, and the apparent out was nullified.
Since .300 is the mark of a good hitter what is the on base percentage comparable number? and what about on base plus slugging. Do you think it is a meaningful stat and what would be the standard for a good hitter not just a slugger?
-- richard perkins, east sandwich, ma
A: Richard, last season the Sox led the league with a .360 on-base percentage; the league average was .333. They also led with a slugging percentage of .491; league average was .427. Generally, the league OBP is around .330, a team OBP between .300 to .345, and players' OBP are around .250 on the very low end to around .450 or so, high end. The stat people who have devoted much study to the topic say that just adding OBP and SGP to get OPS gives one a distorted view, that OBP is of much greater value, and they've adjusted their formulas accordingly. But as a broad measure of a [player's performance, yes, certainly I think OPS is a useful tool.
I was checking out minorleague baseball.com recently and saw that Manny Delcarmen is back pitching with Sarasota. Can you give an update on his condition/progress. Thanks. PS. What happened to the minor league notebook in the Sunday globe?? A lot of Sox fans are interested in the development of their prospects.
-- Derek Frederickson, Boston, MA
A: Derek, I believe Bob Hohler is reviving the minor-league notebook as we speak. Check Sunday's paper. Delcarmen, who is coming off Tommy John elbow surgery, has made three starts, totaling eight innings, as the Sox bring him back slowly. He was 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA. It's encouraging that he's back on the hill.
Mr. Edes, the site name you gave in your recent mailbag: jewishmajorleaguers.com is incorrect. It is jewishmajorleaguers.org. Also, there is another site: http://www.jewsinsports.org/ that folks might find fun as well.
-- gail fuhrer, montague, ma
A: Gail, thanks for the fix, and the added info.