Playing nine innings while watching Helmet-Boy A-Rod on an endless loop ..
1. Don't bail on Mike Napoli yet. Sure, solid contact feels like a moral victory at this point, and he's going to break Mark Bellhorn's single-season record for strikeouts. Bellhorn still managed a few memorable moments when it mattered, and Napoli might as well. His career regular-season OPS from September 1 on is 1.001, with a .614 slugging percentage and 33 homers in 440 plate appearances. His postseason OPS is .829. Maybe this slump, as gruesome as it is, will be balanced by a hot streak during his season of ridiculous ebbs and flows.
2. I've been saying it's inevitable for about three weeks now. Well, this time it's really inevitable. Ultra-inevitable. Uber-inevitable. The Red Sox have to call up Xander Bogaerts before September 1 roster expansion, and hopefully a couple of weeks sooner than that. I get keeping him in Pawtucket for the moment. It gives Will Middlebrooks a two-week window to hit a few over the Monster and lay off the breaking balls away, to prove the lessons learned can be applied. And it gives Bogaerts a few more games to get acclimated to third base abd hit a few more ropes off Triple A roster-fodder before he comes up to help with the Red Sox' phobia against lefties.
3. For those who fret that Bogaerts is getting too much hype and could go the way of Andy Marte, Baseball America's No. 9 prospect overall entering 2005, here are a few differences:
* Marte made it to Triple A at age 21 (he turned 22 in October of that year). Bogaerts turns 21 this October.
* Marte's strikeout rate spiked in Triple A. Bogaerts made enormous strides in identifying which pitches were ripe to hit during his time in Double A.
* According to Baseball America's 2005 Prospect Handbook, "[Marte's] body has gotten a little thick over the past two years and might need monitoring." Prescient. Marte got out of shape in a hurry, while Bogaerts has dedicated himself to staying in condition to play shortstop.
* Finally, Bogaerts is in no danger of being traded, after his first Triple A half-season, for the modern-day likes of Edgar Renteria. The Braves saw a flaw in Marte that doesn't exist in Bogaerts.
4. Jose Iglesias is up to .281 with the Tigers. His on-base percentage is also .281. His batting average on balls in play for the full season stands at .371. Do with that information what you will, but you have to figure the Tigers are fairly pleased with their end of the deal so far. The flares are falling again.
5. The lawyers are the only winners in Jack Clark's PED accusations against Albert Pujols. Clark's always been a jealous jerk and it feels like the same sort of thing here. What's interesting to me is that Clark once had a season with the Cardinals that would have fit right in to the heart of Pujols's career. In the rabbit-ball season of 1987, Clark hit 35 homers, walked 136 times, and led the NL in on-base percentage (.459), slugging (.597), OPS (1.055) and OPS+ 176. That would qualify as the fifth-highest OPS+ of Pujols's storied (and hopefully not sullied) career.
6. The MLB Network is pretty great. There's really not much about it I'd change. Harold Reynolds gets a lot of grief, but I find his blank resistance to the truths in sabermetrics to be tolerable because of his genuine enthusiasm for the game. He'd be a less-accomplished Joe Morgan otherwise. Instead, he's your likable uncle who tells apocryphal stories about back in his day, when grit and hustle and a well-place sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning made up for a .668 career OPS.
7. Actually, not that big on Greg Amsinger either. I mean, he's fine and all, at least for a guy who comes across as someone who took rush week a little too seriously.
8. Based on results over the past two months, shouldn't we begin thinking of Felix Doubront as the Red Sox' No. 2 starter, if not a candidate as the ace? Or do we not quite trust him enough to give him such responsibility? He had a hiccup over the weekend against the Royals, but he hasn't gotten enough credit for his prolonged run of superb pitching.
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.