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&$%#@*&!

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  July 7, 2008 12:13 AM

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Alex Cora: He has no power or speed to speak of, has the range of Derek Jeter carrying Tim McCarver piggyback, and those heady plays Remy is always raving about curiously never seem to show up on replay. Memo to Theo: Call up Jed Lowrie, a superior player in every way at this point, and send Cora far away to Single A Lancaster, where he can impart his wisdom without tempting Francona to do something crazy, like actually putting him in a major league ballgame.

Julio Lugo: The worst. At what? Why, everything. Haven't you been watching? (All right, that was a sweet leaping catch on the line drive, and it's always nice to see Jeter look foolish. And he's better than Cora. So he's the second-worst. My apologies, Julio. Keep on keepin' on.)

Terry Francona: I think I've made it clear the past four years how I feel about Tito: He's the best Red Sox manager of my lifetime for countless reasons, and I dread the day he is no longer in the Boston dugout. But his loyalty to Jason Varitek at the expense of the team's won-lost record is beyond maddening - it's downright inexplicable. Varitek cannot even come close to hitting competent major league pitching right now - you know the hideous numbers since the end of May - and there's a damn reasonable chance he'll never hit again, at least from the left side of the plate. Yet at least three times in the past 10 days, Francona has let him hit - or, even worse, used him as a pinch hitter - when a game's outcome was in the balance. I hate to insult Tito by comparing him to a human turnip, but it's exactly the sort of thing Grady Little would do. I understand Francona's admiration for Varitek, and there may be another day when showing faith in him is justified. But right now, it's almost as if Francona would rather lose the game than potentially embarrass Varitek by sending up someone in his place. The sad thing is, he's actually embarrassing him by letting him hit.

The All-Star Captain Who Calls A Good Game: Three thoughts on the tattered remains of Varitek: 1) At this point, it's a good at-bat when his particle-board Louisville Slugger shatters into a million little pieces and the runner advances. 2) I spent the afternoon at the Sea Dogs game, and came away immensely impressed with Portland's young catcher, Mark Wagner. Then I realized my perspective was probably skewed because I've been watching the 'Tek/Cash combo for 80-something games. Joe Girardi would look good behind the plate right now. 3) A.J. Pierzynski's peers must really despise him.

Mariano Rivera: Jeter is 34 and has four homers, five steals, an OPS+ of 97, and a slugging percentage 35 points lower than Coco Crisp's. Jorge Posada is 36 and now throws like Scott Hatteberg circa 2001. And A-Rod, while still a child by Yankee standards at 32, is supposedly hitting fungoes with a 49-year-old Madonna. The Yankees' core is getting old (and A-Rod is gettin' old, if you get my drift, and you do), and yet Rivera keeps calmly mowing 'em down at age 38 while showing Jonathan Papelbon how it's really done. Will this guy please just age already?

Okay, that was somewhat cathartic. We'll get back to the usual blog-geek cheerleading from mom's basement tomorrow . . .

As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

Marc Sullivan, perhaps the most blatant nepotism case in modern baseball history, had an OPS+ of 14 in 160 at-bats for the 1987 Sox, putting up a line of .169/.198/.238. Varitek, over the last 28 days, has gone .114/.222/.171. I'm not sure what my point is here, but I'm fairly certain it's not optimistic.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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