Playing nine innings while wondering why it’s taking so long for the hot stove to preheat …
1. I’d be fine with it if the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval to a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $90 million or so, which sounds like the low end of the going rate. Fun player, good hitter, better than he looks like he should be defensively, and has a pretty healthy sample-size of coming through in big spots. But I have to admit, one of the reasons I thought he’d be a good fit here is that getting out of AT&T Park, a pitchers’ haven where even long fly balls allowed by Jake Peavy often come to rest in a glove near the warning track, would greatly benefit him. So it was much to my surprise when I looked up Sandoval’s home/road splits and realized he’s been habitually superior at AT&T Park in comparison to his road performance over the course of his career. At home, he’s a career .313/,365/.488 hitter. On the road? .277/.328/.443. I still think Fenway would perfectly suit him. But the surprise is that his AT&T Park has as well.
2. Jackie Bradley Jr. should have won the Gold Glove in center field. He played the best center field this season I can recall witnessing. We all know why he didn’t win — his inability to hit cost him his job, though he did still play 127 games in the majors this season. Adam Jones, the winner, is a good center fielder who hit 29 home runs for the division champs. In an ideal world, those last two items would have no bearing on a fielding award whatsoever. But it does.
3. I have no beef with the results of theFielding Bible Awards, which is determined by a panel of intelligent baseball folks who had Bradley second in the majors to the Mets’ Juan Lagares, a brilliant defender in his own right. It’s worth noting that Jones finished 13th in the balloting here — one spot behind Mike Trout.
4. Daniel Nava is getting all kinds of love for his defense during the ’14 season. His advanced metrics were excellent, baseball-reference had him at 1.5 defensive WAR, and the Fielding Bible had him seventh among right fielders — two spots ahead of Gold Glove winner Nick Markakis — and sixth among multi-position players. As someone who appreciates the imperfect value of these metrics, I have to admit, I didn’t see it with Nava. He strikes me as an improved defender, but not someone who should be considered anything more than a little above average.
5. Jason Heyward received every first-place vote among the Fielding Bible’s dozen voters as the best defensive right fielder. He was sixth in the National League in WAR and fourth in defensive WAR, and you’d better believe that the Red Sox will be in on him if the Braves foolishly make the 24-year-old unsung star available just because the conventional offensive numbers aren’t what they were expected to be … yet.
6. I wrote about Hanley Ramirez as a potential relative bargain — particular in terms of contract length — as a free agent, but I did not come right out and admit that I hope the Red Sox sign him. So consider this such an admission. He has his flaws, but hitters with his pop and production are scarce these days. I’ll take the bat. You can worry about the baggage.
7. A-Rod allegedly admits to PED use, Alfonso Soriano retires, and so I believe we can almost close the book on that Yankees-Rangers blockbuster in 2003 — you know, the one that was originally perceived as the Yankees trumping the Red Sox again. The only active player left who was part of or rumored to be part of any A-Rod deal that winter is Jon Lester, who was headed to Texas with Manny Ramirez in the Red Sox’ original swap. Thank goodness that didn’t happen, and on so many levels.
8. To put it another way: From a Red Sox perspective, Aaron Boone’s decision to play pickup basketball that offseason — which led to him blowing out his knee and the Yankees’ pursuit of A-Rod — more than makes up for his home run in Game 7 in 2003. He crushed Boston temporarily. But his injury was the impetus for the salvation.
9. As for today’s Completely Random Baseball card:
Because sometimes, it really is random.