Playing nine innings while enjoying John Lackey's subtle climb to fan-favorite status ...
1. The sentiment that the Red Sox should have done everything they could to keep Jonathan Papelbon has grown stronger in the two years he's been gone. While the Sox have struggled to find consistency and health at closer, he's continued to rule the ninth inning for the Phillies just as he did here for six years. As he's done so, the evidence mounts that he is the rare closer who can maintain his excellence and consistency for the better part of a decade, and thus worthy of a lucrative long-term deal. I still can't reconcile the idea of giving a closer $50 million over four years, but I might believe that the Red Sox lament losing him more than the Phillies will lament paying him.
2. Dustin Pedroia is third in the American League in baseball-reference's version of WAR, is hitting .333 with an .873 OPS (his career best is .869 in his 2008 MVP season), has put up a 330/.405/.495 slash-line so far in May, and seems to make at least one brilliant defensive play per game. The reminders of how fortunate we are to watch this guy on a daily basis shouldn't be necessary, but man, he sure has been delivering a lot of them lately anyway.
3. If the Red Sox do end up having a special season, Jacoby Ellsbury's winning hit Saturday will be one of those clues along the way that we like to reminisce about anecdotally. But to me, the best indication I got all weekend that things are going well for the Red Sox is that Clay Buchholz's sore collarbone is nothing to be particularly concerned about. It just feels like that was the kind of thing that would have cost him 4-6 weeks last year, just because, you know, that's how last year went.
4. While staring with wonderment and awe at Jose Iglesias's .519 batting average on balls in play this season, for some reason it dawned on me that there are at least a couple of presumed good-field, no-hit shortstops who are getting it done with the bat so far this season. Arizona's Didi Gregorius was a lock for the All-Name Team, but the rookie is making a case for the All-Star team with a .926 OPS in 124 plate appearances. The Giants' Brandon Crawford has an .812 OPS and 25 RBIs. And the Brewers' Jean Segura is on the short list of MVP candidates in the NL, with eight homers and a .942 OPS.
6. I wouldn't call it a full-fledged career revival quite yet, but old friend Jason Bay has been contributing to the Mariners this season (.787 OPS, 5 homers in 121 plate appearances). And he's doing it from an unusual spot in the lineup – he's been the Mariners' leadoff hitter in four of the past five games.
7. Don't worry about Ryan Dempster. Just accept that this is what he is – a mid-rotation starter who pitches a lot of league-averageish innings, can pile up the strikeouts on his best days, battles his control from time to time, and ultimately has peaks and valleys that are more than tolerable in the long run.
8. In 25 games this month, Mike Trout has 8 homers, 26 runs scored, 8 steals, an 1.162 OPS, and a .354/.432/.729. In a related note, those who confidently predicted regression in his sophomore season have been awfully hard to find lately. And in another related note, remember how close the Angels came to acquiring Miguel Cabrera in 2007?
9. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
Because sometimes, it really is random.
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.