So I walked two miles through the freezing, blowing snow for a thin meal of gruel to bring you today’s entry. That, or I walked a hundred yards for Eggs Mazatlan.
At least the snow was real. Promise.
Anyway, we’ve got a full slate for this week’s In Case You Haven’t Been Keeping Up With Current Events, so let’s get to it.
I’ve weighed in on the Colon signing previously, but there were a couple of interesting tidbits this week. First, from
Andrew Jackson Peter Gammons himself,
Red Sox conditioning guru Mike Reinhold is satisfied with what he’s seen in Bartolo Colon’s shoulder and pitching coach John Farrell likes his velocity, so there was nothing to lose.
If you’re looking for validation, Buster Olney’s got you covered:
Heard this: The Red Sox team doctors were pleasantly surprised by the condition of Bartolo Colon’s arm when they examined him.
Neither offers any guarantees, obviously, but it’s mildly promising.
Which is nice, considering that Keith Law had gotten the following quote from a front office official this offseason: “his medicals are a disaster.” I still don’t think we’re going to get much, if anything from him, but if his velocity is adequate it’s not unreasonable to predict we could get a couple of league average starts out of the righthander.
In the Colon piece linked to earlier, I also mentioned that I’m somewhat interested in Freddy Garcia as a candidate for some second half innings. Which meant the following Gammons bit was of significant interest:
Freddy Garcia checked in at Fort Myers to be examined Wednesday. Garcia hopes to be back in August, so if the Red Sox were to have a rash of pitching injuries, they will have a means to compare shoulder examinations and see his progress.
As with Colon, it seems to be another obvious “can’t hurt” move.
Hansen: All Growns’d Up?
For the record, I’m not one who yearns for all of the off the field details that inevitably result when a bunch of 20 something athletes – some of whom are rich – are thrown together for months at a time. I may not pine for the days when the Mick’s antics were glossed over in nod nod nudge nudge wink wink fashion…er, actually, yes I do. I wish fervently that I was kept less informed about the bullshit (you may have noticed a distinct lack of Clemens coverage hereabouts…this is not an accident).
All of that said, I do find some of the language employed towards oblique references to carousing hilarious. Witness this aside from Tito on Hansen:
I think he’s grown up. That doesn’t mean it all clicks in this week. He’s young, and did not necessarily make the best decisions all the time. I hope [the maturity] shows up on the field.
What these kids do off the diamond is something I regard as none of my business. But that won’t prevent me from laughing at the linguistic machinations managers and front office employees will resort to to hint at underlying issues.
But perhaps you prefer to take the comments literally? When Baseball America says of Hansen:
Hansen did hit a couple of speed bumps after his resurgence, missing three weeks in August after he banged his forearm when he slipped and fell against a nightstand.
You think, sure, that’s just what happened. Hell, it’s certainly possible.
For my part, however, I think there are a couple of things to read between those lines. Not that I want to.
Masterson: Bullpen or Starter?
Many baseball observers – including Rob Neyer – have mentioned Justin Masterson as a potential asset to offset the potential loss of Schilling’s innings. Which based on his minor league performance to date, not to mention the performance I saw firsthand last summer in his second AA start, is eminently sane and reasonable.
But the question remains: will be contribute as a starter or a reliever? As discussed previously, many think his arm profiles better in the bullpen. What I hadn’t heard was a Red Sox opinion on that subject.
Until this week.
On the 28th, the enterprising and stupidly attractive Amalie Benjamin secured the following quote from Senor John Farrell:
If you want to profile him out, he looks like a reliever just with the pitch mix that he has, a different arm angle that he pitches with. But until he’s fully developed the ability to use three pitches – the slider is going to be a big pitch for him – our plan is going to [be to] continue to start him, but knowing that we wouldn’t hesitate to move him to the bullpen if he shows us he can contribute this year.
Not quite case closed, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for him to get a start in the big leagues.
Putting The Young Pitchers’ Struggles in Context
Jon Lester (1 IP, 2H, 4 ER, 4BB, 0K) got knocked around yesterday . Clay Buchholz (2 IP, 5H, 4 ER, 1BB, 1K) got knocked around today. So obviously we’re screwed, and the sky is falling. Dogs and cats living together, you get the idea.
Just as it is for Johan Santana (2 IP, 3 ER, 4H, 0BB, 1K) and the Mets, and Erik Bedard (2 IP, 3 ER, 4H, 2BB, 1K) and the M’s.
If you hear me argue that Bedard, let alone Santana, should be the expectation for either Buchholz or Lester this season, you have my permission to involuntarily commit me for psychiatric evaluation. But let’s also not write off their minor and major league histories on the basis of a poor spring training outing.
The Crisp Update
In his interview with Dennis and Calahan, Grandmaster Theo was fairly blunt about the poor prospects for a Crisp trade. One of the primary issues being the plethora of available center field free agents, a few of whom are still available (Lofton and Patterson, primarily).
But that doesn’t mean that our diligent front office hasn’t been working the phones, attempting to extract blood from the proverbial stone. Earlier this week, Gammons had this to say:
The Cubs have talked to several teams about Matt Murton, including the Rangers (Marlon Byrd) and the Red Sox (Coco Crisp), but neither team will trade a center fielder even up. Boston wants Murton, who took his parents to the first game of the World Series last fall at Fenway, but are wary of trading Crisp because speed players like Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury can so easily break down with leg problems.
And then today the always timely MLB Trade Rumors updated us on the prospects of a Crisp trade to either of the Chicago ballclubs.
The only thing I’d add to that particular account is the fact that it’s not necessarily Gomez’s ’08 season that blocks a potential Crisp-to-the-Twins trade, but the subsequent seasons in which Crisp is due better than $6M per. Affordable under most circumstances, but not when you have a Gomez in house waiting in the wings.
As just about everybody is aware at this point, Hankenstein continues to disgrace himself and his club  by running his mouth at every given opportunity. His latest verbal failing came in the context of a NY Times article, which quoted him as saying the following:
“Red Sox Nation?” Hank says. “What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”
Hankenstein’s obvious mental limitations aside, the above is actually an argument worth considering, given the Pinstriped ones obvious brand strength. So consider it I did, by looking at – gasp! – some actual numbers. From here. What do they tell me?
That the Sox are really giving the Evil Empire a run for their money.
For example, the Red Sox average road attendance in 2007 was? 38,641. The Empire? 37,227. 2006 saw the Sox temporarily bested, 38,028 to 36,098, but 2005 saw the Sox back on top, 37,735 to 37,036. The 3 year averages? Sox are 37,491, while the Yanks are 37,430.
So we win. Narrowly, it’s true, but a win is a win. Which isn’t bad for a city of 590,000 competing with a city of 8.25 million.
Looks like people do honestly prefer good to evil. Who would have guessed?
 From an actual email from one of my actual Yankee friends (I know, but he’s an excellent guy): “he blows. i hate him. just when i was starting to actually like the yankees again, he happens. bums me out.”