Playing nine innings while presuming David Ortiz is going to let his ESPN Insider subscription run out ...
1. In all seriousness, I feel the same way about the media sometimes -- specifically sports radio -- as Papi does. Oftentimes, the transparent caterwauling about and microsurgery of every potentially controversial issue gets to be too much, and that's coming from someone who at least gets paid to pay attention to it. But let's also admit that Ortiz probably isn't feeling this way had the Red Sox, say, given him a two-year, $30 million contract two weeks ago. The big fella is sensitive, he's never had a huge payday, and it wouldn't be the first time frustration with his contract has led him to burst with frustration about ancillary things. Quick, Dr. Charles, have the engraver whip up another plaque, pronto. Preferably one made of platinum.
2. The second act of the Daniel Nava story is even more amazing than the first, to the point that I'm not quite sure what to make of him now, other than that he belongs somewhere in the major leagues. The 29-year-old's slash-line this season is phenomenal -- .340/.455/.519 -- and while it's hard to see a corner outfielder without much home-run power or speed becoming an essential player to the Red Sox, he is a guy who has always hit in the minors, with a .317 batting average and .911 OPS in the six seasons since they found him in someplace called the
Frontier Golden League. Perhaps his best bet is to go to the National League and play out his early 30s as a John Vander Wal/Jim Eisenreich type, but hey, I've underestimated him before.
3. I think in general Bobby Valentine has done a pretty decent job this season, though he'd be nowhere near my top five if I ranked all of the current managers. Top half, maybe. He's manipulated the bullpen well but may well burn them out, he bunts way too much, he saw something that made him think Franklin Morales could start ... lots of pros and cons so far, and the season isn't half over. I do think it would benefit him to knock off his casual, passive-aggressive, oops-did-I-just-say-that? revelations, though, such as noting that Clay Buchholz passed on a chance to start last Sunday. It stirs the hornets' nest with the media -- something he is well aware of and possibly addicted to -- and it drives the players nuts. I'm not sure who shoots him more hate lasers these days, Dustin Pedroia or Jon Lester.
4. Loved Bobby V.'s comment to my colleague Nick Cafardo when he was informed that a scout said Angels phenom Mike Trout reminds him of Valentine as a young player. “As a matter of fact, he’s the only player I’ve ever thought was a similar player.’’ While some might take that as another foray into the depths of Bobby V's ego, consider this: As a 20-year-old shortstop in Triple A in 1970, Valentine hit .340 with a .910 OPS, had 14 homers, 16 triples and 39 doubles, and stole 29 bases. Those stats suggest a similar skill-set, don't they?
5. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia emerging as an All-Star-caliber catcher -- arguably the most pleasant development of this season so far given his likability and what he's endured to get to this point -- I'm not sure I get the rush to ditch Kelly Shoppach and call up Ryan Lavarnway. I know Lavarnway has heated up recently -- he's up to .306 with 7 homers and an .877 OPS at Pawtucket -- but it benefits him to catch every day down there, and with Saltalamacchia seizing his opportunity, it's a good situation with the defensively steady Shoppach as the backup. Lavarnway's day will come soon enough.
6. Aren't you fascinated and encouraged by the decision to convert Franklin Morales back to a starting pitcher? (He made 15 starts for the Rockies from 2007-09.) The 26-year-old lefty has the repertoire and stuff to succeed, and the talent has never been in question -- he was the eighth-ranked prospect in the game by Baseball America just four years ago, a spot behind Clayton Kershaw and two ahead of David Price. But his downfall with the Rockies was his control -- he walked 5.3 batters per 9 innings during his four-plus seasons in Colorado, compared to 2.8 since coming to Boston last year. Someone here is doing some good work with him, because not only is his walk rate down, but his strikeout rate is up. I'd love to have seen the reaction of Rockies executives when they learned he threw 65 of 80 pitches for strikes in his his start at Wrigley Sunday.
7. Six current Red Sox were ranked among the top 36 prospects in baseball prior to the 2007 season by Baseball America, including the No. 1 prospect overall. Counting them down, there was Salty (36), Jacoby Ellsbury (33), Morales (30), Andrew Miller (10), and the No. 1 prospect ... Daisuke Matsuzaka. Do with that what you will.
8. Maybe it's because my optimism regarding this team has grown with the five-game winning streak, or maybe it's just my usual delusions kicking in, but I genuinely believe both Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez will be significant-to-huge contributors before the summer is through. I know its foolish to put much stock in aesthetics, but Gonzalez's swing has looked much better lately. He's close, people.
9. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
Love Coop, but that has to be the worst hat-uniform combo the Sox have ever had, doesn't it?
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.