Playing nine innings while savoring the embarrassed silence from those who detracted Dustin Pedroia during last season's mess ...
1. Since the beginning of the 2012 season, which spans 118 games and 531 plate appearances, Jacoby Ellsbury has hit five home runs. Five. That's three fewer homers than he hit in September 2011, when his Most Valuable Player-caliber performance down the stretch (1.067 OPS in the final month) was buried beneath his teammates' avalanche of beer cans and chicken bones during the infamous collapse. His lack of power since may seem mystifying, and perhaps his emergence as a slugger that season (32 homers, 23 more than he has hit in any other season) is easily dismissed as a fluke. I'm probably among the minority in believing that he will hit for significant power before the season is through, and that his return to full strength from the traumatic injury pictured above still isn't complete. But if he doesn't come around, it'll be fascinating to see how it affects his market value. It wouldn't shock me at all if he signed an Adrian Beltre-style one-year deal here or elsewhere to rebuild his value before diving back into free agency. But such a consideration is a long way down the road.
2. For those of us who have spent the first couple months of the season debating the current and potential merits of Jose Iglesias, a compromise may be near. According to the Providence Journal's excellent baseball writer Brian MacPherson, Iglesias took groundballs at third base Monday, and first took grounders at second base a couple of weeks ago. Nothing is apparently imminent, but given that Pedro Ciriaco is proving to be a mirage, bringing Iglesias back to the big leagues in a utility role might make some sense.
3. Daniel Nava just keeps raking. In 61 May plate appearances, he's at .286/.377/.469, with a couple of homers and 11 runs batted in. It's easy to forget – or at least it was easy for me to forget – that he was actually just as productive last May as well, putting up a .277/.424/.477 slash line with two homers and 15 RBIs in 85 plate appearances. He had an excellent June as well (.892) before falling off in part due to a hand injury. I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it: I was wrong about Nava. He's a legitimate quality major-league hitter. Kudos to the Red Sox for recognizing it.
4. This is Josh Hamilton since the All-Star break last year: 113 games, 482 plate appearances, 434 at-bats, 107 hits, .247 batting average, 21 homers, 65 RBIs, 36 walks, 134 strikeouts. In that span, he's basically produced the equivalent of Pete Incaviglia's 1988 season. Thank goodness the Red Sox learned from their mistakes.
5. This came up in my chat last Friday, and I can't recall if I answered the question or not, but the suggestion annoyed me. No, Yu Darvish doesn't remind me of Daisuke Matsuzaka whatsoever. I suppose the Rangers' ace is what Matsuzaka was supposed to be, but they don't have much in common beyond the ability to throw a baseball righthanded and the same country of origin. Darvish, with his ridiculous repertoire, is a joy to watch. Matsuzaka was exasperating, and that includes even during his scattered outstanding performances, because you were inevitably left wondering why he couldn't perform that way (and pitch aggressively) all the time.
6. Allow me to submit this as evidence that Rubby De La Rosa is going to be a significant contributor in some capacity for the Red Sox before the summer is through: In his last five appearances with the PawSox, he has pitched 18 innings. in those 18 innings, he has allowed 9 hits, 8 walks, and 1 unearned run while striking out 22. While the walks suggest the command isn't quite there yet, he's been untouchable when he throws strikes. And remember, he's no novice – this is a kid who struck out 60 in 60.2 innings for the Dodgers two years ago.
7. Miguel Cabrera's top five career comps through age 29 according to baseball-reference.com: Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., Albert Pujols, and Mel Ott. Yeah, decent company. Cabrera turned 30 a month ago. To me, he's a Hall of Fame lock if he retires before his 31st birthday.
8. Cabrera, whom I hope wins his second consecutive Triple Crown just because it would be an awesome feat, has received MVP votes every season of his career -- including 2003, when he played 87 games and hit .268 with 12 homers, 62 RBIs, and a .793 OPS for the World Champion 2003 Marlins. He finished 27th in the balloting that year, and fifth in the rookie of the year race, behind teammate Dontrelle Willis, No. 3 hitter deluxe Scott Podsednik, Brandon Webb, and Marlon Byrd.
9. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
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.