Good afternoon from Anaheim. Fueled by perfect weather, here are some random thoughts on the Red Sox:
• They always say that you can’t fire 25 players, so you have to fire the manager. But the Red Sox have, in essence, fired Kevin Youkilis, Kelly Shoppach, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto.
They also literally fired the pitching coach, Bob McClure.
Those seven people have one thing in common: none of them seemed to much like Bobby, although Carl was coming around near the end. So maybe that means the Red Sox will give Valentine 2013 to show what he can do. That is a legitimate way of looking at it.
Valentine’s greatest strength as a manager is molding teams without a lot of star players into contenders and that will probably describe the 2013 Sox.
The Red Sox stink because they have had lousy starting pitching and a record-setting number of injuries. Their starters have an ERA of 4.94 and the disabled list has so far accounted for 1,318 games lost. Not sure any manager out there could overcome that.
But when the decision is made about who should manage the team next season, it’s hard to imagine who at the table is going to pound their fist and make a case for Valentine.
John Henry and Tom Werner? Don’t see it. Ben Cherington? He never wanted Bobby V in the first place. Any of the other baseball operations people? Nope, they’re with Cherington. The only two players who could influence the call would be Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Pedroia, who hates the Bobby-fueled drama, is out. Ortiz genuinely likes the manager but is smart enough to know what others think.
That leaves Larry Lucchino, who shepherded Valentine into the organization.
Does Lucchino have enough sway over everybody else in the room? That’s probably what it comes down to.
Either that or Henry decides that the idea of three managers in three years is too embarrassing for an organization that used to be envied for its sound decision making.
• Then there is this: It doesn’t look like Valentine is having any fun. During the last trip to New York, at least a dozen people who know Valentine well said they thought that. Why would he want to subject himself to more of this?
Even the press conferences have become awkward. Valentine, who usually likes to banter, sits there like an doomed man waiting for the bailiff to come and forever take him away. Lately he has started picking fights when reporters throw accusatory questions at him.
There will be a few interesting incidents in these last few weeks, you watch. NESN will have more drama than TNT.
• Given the score, you were probably asleep by the time the fifth inning rolled around on Wednesday night. But Jose Iglesias showed why you have to keep his name in the conversation.
With runners on first and third, Alberto Callaspo hit a grounder to second. Pedroia made a quick feed to shortstop and Iglesias grabbed it and threw a strike to first base while being taken out by Howie Kendrick.
A run scored, part of a 10-3 loss. But it was eye-catching how quickly Iglesias made the play and, further, how quick the feed was Pedroia because he knew the kid would be there. Here’s the thing with Iglesias: You have to figure out whether the runs he’ll save with his glove will be more than the runs he will cost you with his bat. Plays like that make you think he’s worth keeping. He really is that good.
• Don’t know whether he’s part of the mix next season or not, but Scott Podsednik is hitting .370 with a .389 OBP over 119 at-bats. He will be 37 in March but he has earned a shot with somebody next season.
• Mauro Gomez can hit. But he’s a DH and he turns 28 next week. It’s hard to see much upside.
• Pedro Ciriaco is a mystery to me. He was just OK for Pawtucket (.301/.318/.406) but has been pretty darn good for the Red Sox (.345/.358/.473), albeit in 148 at-bats in generally meaningless games. Meanwhile he was a Triple A backup all last season for the Pirates.
He’s not a starter, not even Valentine thinks that and he has been Ciriaco’s biggest supporter. But Ciriaco probably can be a decent utility player because of his speed and defensive versatility.
Here’s the question, however: Would you rather have Mike Aviles do that in 2013 or Ciriaco?
• It’s not a matter of if the Red Sox sign Cody Ross to an extension before the season is over, it’s a matter of when it happens. Both sides want to get it done.
• Remember this, baseball fans: Nothing you see in September is real. The biggest mistake you can make evaluating players is basing anything on the final weeks of a season, especially for a team fighting to stay out of last place.
• Ortiz has to shut it down, right? What would be the point in having him play another 10 games or whatever? Get rested, get healthy and come back hitting bombs in 2013. That is the best idea now.
• Alfredo Aceves is headed down the same road with the Sox that he did with the Yankees. He is undeniably talented and he has a lot of heart on the mound. But his behavior finally caused the Yankees to let him go and the Red Sox may have do the same eventually.
After James Loney made a nice play to end the eighth inning on Wednesday night, Aceves spiked the ball across the diamond and glared at the Angels dugout. This in a game the Sox were losing by seven runs.
Aceves was a happy-go-lucky dude when the Yankees called him up back in 2008. He was fun to talk with and teammates seemed to like him. But somewhere along the way he let his anger at not becoming a starter get the best of him.
• I’m one of the voters for AL manager of the year. If you feel strongly about somebody, feel free to drop me an email.
• The Red Sox (62-69), Phillies (61-69), and Marlins (59-72) are in a bizarro pennant race to see who is the biggest disappointment in baseball.
• As part of the new ESPN deal, the network can now grab up to six Red Sox games for Sunday Night Baseball.
• Daniel Bard will be activated tonight. Here’s hoping that he pitches well and is free of whatever robbed him of his talent.
It would be a shame if the ill-advised decision to make him a starter led to Bard losing what made him so special coming out of the bullpen. Had the Red Sox simply made him the closer when Jonathan Papelbon left, none of this would have happened.
Catch you later on with the game preview. Now that you’re done reading this, get back to work.