Postgame Spread
You guys hangin' out? I'll hang out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My, What A Lovely Tea Party    

Way better than the one where they dressed up like Cleveland fans and wasted all those precious resources.  (Rule #1 of colonial terrorism: don't throw your bargaining chips into the harbor, you dumb shits!)

So, the parade [video] was awesome.  Maybe not quite as perfect, cathartic, and once-in-a-lifetime as 2004... but who cares?  It was the fucking World Series parade!  You cheer.  You connect.  You show your appreciation.  You make eye contact with your heroes, for a moment both instantaneous and neverending.  And you join in with your fellow fans, none of whom have a good excuse to be away from their schools and jobs, to see them do likewise.  When a city ties its fate to that of its team so closely, an event like this can't be missed.

I was lucky enough to be pretty much up at the railings on Boylston St. near Exeter.  Got a great view of everything, though without a camera I can't really share that.  Highlights:

* Theo holding up the trophy for us, like the pimp that he is.
* El Tiante!  That was a nice surprise.
* Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose appearance also snuck up on me.  It's so easy to forget about our newest and coolest toy, since he ended up flying under the radar.  And then suddenly he's looking right at you.  Pretty cool.
* The Dropkicks/Papelbon/Timlin flatbed stopped right in front of us and finished up "Tessie."

Not much else to say.  Except for the following, which I've been thinking over since the series ended:

The Post-Game Celebration
The image of J.D. Drew in a World Series Champion t-shirt has gotta be pissing off an awful lot of National League fans right now.

This year's playoffs had surprisingly few bad (er, "beneficial") calls.  The most contentious calls tended to involve Manny, which means they didn't make any difference in the long run.

The only noteworthy, fate-changing goof was Tim McClelland's safe call in the tiebreaker, giving Colorado the win.  And even then, although Holliday never tagged the plate, he also was never tagged with the ball... so it's not like there was a "correct" call to make there.

The cheapest thing that happened all through the Sox' run was the kid who caught the foul ball in the photographers' pit against the Angels... and that was entirely within the ground rules.

That's part of what makes the Sox' titles feel so pure: they didn't need a Tuck Rule to get it all done.  It's meaningful.

Matt Holliday

Chris and I had the exact same reaction to Holliday's defense: why was even the most minor Manny mistake made into a major malady, when Holliday was given a pass on two more critical game-changing blunders than Manny has on his entire resume (0)?

Well, we know why: habit and laze.  After all, these are announcers and columnists we're talking about.

But the fact remains, Holliday cost his team a chance to tie Game 2 by getting picked off, and his defensive goof in Game 4 allowed Sox baserunners to advance further than they should have, leading to a decisive run.  (They were all decisive, as it turns out.)  Holliday is Colorado's best player, and the likely NL MVP, and he directly took his team out of two one-run games.  Nobody else thinks this is more of a story?

For all that Manny gets crap, he outplayed Holliday both defensively and on the basepaths.  Read that statement again, and consider how awful Holliday would have to be to accomplish that.  He did.  His mental errors didn't cost the Sox a single game.  Not so for Mr. Holliday.  Warrants mentioning.

I'm not saying light the guy up.  But as Joe Morgan would say, the announcers' consistency needs to be more consistent.

Offseasons Are When They Pretend To Try To Trade Manny
And the same question arises again, as it always does: we know Manny's gone next winter, so do we try to get something for him?  Or have we finally reached a mutual admiration stage, where Manny's okay being in Boston, where Boston actually appreciates the most invincible right-handed hitter of his era, and where we finally realize that he cannot be replaced?  I sure hope it's the latter.

Other Likely Changes
We've probably seen the last of Mike Lowell, Curt Schilling and Coco Crisp.  They're welcome back, in my eyes, but given that I currently have nothing against any of them, I'd be just fine keeping it that way.

Count me amongst those who wouldn't resign Lowell to anything but a two-year deal.  Much as I like him, and much as he deserves an exception to the organizational rule against signing old farts, I don't want Lowell's age 37 season to happen here.  Not so much because of the money, but because of the planning.  It takes a job away from a younger, potentially more effective player at that point.  This is as good a time to move on as any, both for the Sox and for Lowell.  I wish he'd stay, but on the team's terms.  If not, I wish him the best.

Curt?  Thanks, bye.  I'll take my chances with the kids.  If he ends up staying, again, fine by me, but they sure don't need him.  I'd be fine going to war with Beckett, Buchholz, Lester and Future Dice (the one who can get past the 6th) next season.

Same with Coco.  No complaints here, nothing but appreciation and thanks.  But he deserves to go somewhere and start.  Heck, Colorado needs an upgrade in center field over Sullivan and Spilborghs, their set of several stiffs.  And the Rocks even have a young 3B to send us in Garrett Atkins, should Lowell be out.  Hmmmm.  (Actually, Curt would go nicely in Colorado as well... they could use some veteran leadership beyond Helton, and he'd get along with the Jesus freaks in the clubhouse.  Francis, Jimenez, Morales, Schilling, and Fogg/Cook plus that offense would make them prohibitive favorites to get back to the Series next fall.)

But we'll see.  Hopefully, Theo will see that the time to sign his next overrated free agent is a long, long way away.  A reliever or two, and replacing the hole at 3B one way or another.  I think that's all that needs to happen.

That's It
And with that, the season is over.  There's nothing left to do now but wait for the best part of any championship offseason: the barrage of Sports Illustrated commercials.  L'chaim!


  • Hmmm...

    1) Right on about the rotation. If Schilling will sign at a big discount, for 1-2 years, then maybe you go for it, but it's probably not the best deal for either him or the Red Sox.

    2) I think you guys should give Lowell a three year deal if that's what it takes. He's still an excellent defender, and there's nothing interesting out there on the 3B market, as far as I recall. I guess you could move Youk to 3rd and sign someone for 1st, but I don't really see the upside since it downgrades your defense and probably doesn't upgrade your offense. Lowell will decline, but he's a decent bet to be ok for a while yet, and he clearly loves hitting in Fenway. If you have to eat his 2010 salary, when hopefully he actually is blocking somebody, it won't hurt your payroll situation much at all. There's some risk, for sure, but you can afford it, easily I would say. 4-5 years, on the other hand, just say no.

    3) I'm not sure Coco would be much of an upgrade for very many teams.

    4) With regard to the treatment Manny gets vs. the treatment Holliday didn't get... I don't know. One bad error aside, Holliday is an excellent left fielder defensively and Manny is horrible defensively. The Rockies had bad defense at only 2 positions this year, 3B and RF, and while their defense has been overly praised, it was great, partly because of Holliday (if not a very large part). So piling on Holliday for one bad error doesn't make that much sense to me. It happens to everybody. The baserunning gaff, on the other hand, was stupid. But again, his team got their asses kicked to an extent that minimizes how much that can really be the story.

    Manny gets too much flack compared to other bad defenders (esp. Jeter obviously, but there are plenty of more egregious offenders who get a free pass, particularly since Jeter would probably be a very good defender at any other non-catcher position). Still, he is up there with Raul Ibanez and Richie Sexson as one of the 5-10 worst defenders in all of baseball (and those may may all be in the worst 5). So, despite having defended his defense in the past, and despite continuing to think he's a great player, I'm not sure piling it on isn't justified.

    On the other hand you could just as easily say that since his horrible defense is such a known quantity, there's no point in pointing it out, since there's no good way for Boston to rectify the situation. That's probably the case, but that doesn't mean to me that Holliday should be getting worse than Manny.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 12:15 PM  

  • When Holliday got picked off, Buck and McCarver treated it appropriately, mentioned it again at the top of the next inning, and then moved on.

    They were still talking about Manny "slowing down" to flip his helmet off rounding third the next night.

    Manny's defense is worthy of some head-scratching, sure, but when you keep hearing about his bad choice of positioning in the field - like Francona is going to let him make that kind of strategic decision on his own - or mental errors while baserunning, when really the outfielder made a good throw and the catcher made a good tag, or whatever... it gets old real fast.

    By Blogger Chris, at 3:11 PM  

  • I don't disagree.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:50 PM  

  • I strongly disagree with the assessment that they got their asses kicked too badly. That was the heart of what I was saying: Games 2 and 4 were 100% winnable games, and Holliday put them at distinct disadvantages in both. He was picked off as the tying run in Game 2, and allowing a runner to advance to third, leading directly to a precious Boston run.

    In one-run games, those mistakes are HUGE! Swing those two plays the other way, add some "anythoing can happen in extra innings" Rockies magic, and a 4-0 sweep becomes a 2-2 tie. Not such an ass-kicking then, is it? And certainly not that implausible a scenario. Far from certain, but if you keep taking those kinds of opportunities away from your teammates, you're not going to win those kinds of games.

    If the uniforms were switched, Boston would be burning to the ground over both of those plays. But it's Colorado, so I guess nobody cares?

    Also, I thought the Rocks' OF defense worked the other way around... that Hawpe was awesome and Holliday was shaky. My admittedly unsourced impression of the prevailing wisdom is that Holliday's defense is considered to be a weakness of his game, and a potential detriment to his MVP candidacy. Feel free to give that wisdom as little importance as it's worth, but just the same I'm curious to know where you get your info from.

    Either way, that's what informs my objections. If Holliday's not considered a premium defender, his goofs should have been more of a point. And frankly, even if it weren't, you'd think the tabloidesque announcers might have made a bigger thing out of a supposedly sure-handed fielder booting a ball in Game 1 and booting another in Game 4, a one-run game. To say nothing of the ball he booted in the tiebreaker against the Padres. If he's a great defensive left fielder, isn't that trend a BIGGER story? I sure don't recall any studly plays from Holliday out there that offset them.

    Regardless, Chris makes the point I wanted to make. The real story isn't so much that Holliday should have been drawn and quartered, but that if Manny's gonna get drawn and quartered, do it to the white guy too.

    As for the pickoff... yeah, not really related to Holliday's defense or whatever, but that's much more of a Manny point. There would have been a prime-time special on ESPN dedicated to Manny being a doofus if he'd been picked off like that as the tying run.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 3:51 PM  

  • Also, for public record, here's what I said privately about Coco:


    I think you significantly underestimated Crisp's trade value. Will Crisp regain his power? Maybe not, but the potential is there, he's young, and his contract is affordable enough that he sells himself. Here's some teams I'd list as potential landing spots for Coco:

    * San Francisco (Randy Winn and Dave Roberts? bleech)
    * Colorado (Spilborghs?!? Fuck that douche)
    * San Diego (freq. Sox trade partner; Cameron's gone)
    * St. Louis (Edmonds is old, Crisp fits their m.o. for outfield bats, i.e. unspectacular)
    * Washington (huge hole in CF... Nook Logan?!? Crisp would be cheaper than Andruw, Cameron et al)
    * Atlanta (Andruw's gone)
    * Texas
    * Minnesota (classic el-cheapo Twins move; go cheap w/ Crisp instead of keeping Toriiiiii)
    * White Sox (Crisp > Podsednik, and a glut at 3B... hmm)
    * Blowrioles (another classic Baltimore move... why have one Corey Patterson when you can have two?)

    Ten options, none of whom would choke on Coco's contract.

    I honestly do think he'd be perfect for Colorado, where they don't need him to hit and he'll be able to rebuild his doubles production fairly easily. He'd hit eighth in that lineup, causing havoc for anyone who tried to pitch around him to get to the pitcher spot. And who would you rather have, Willy Taveras or Coco Crisp? Equal speed... probably equal defense, to be conservative against Coco... and Coco has 800+ OPS upside, based on his Cleveland career. And it allows them to kick an NL turd like Spilborghs or Sullivan to the curb where they belong.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 3:52 PM  

  • Whoops... in my Holliday comment, first paragraph:

    "picked off as the tying run in Game 2, and allowed a runner to advance to third in Game 4, leading directly to a precioussssssss Boston run."

    By Blogger Jeff, at 4:02 PM  

  • Well, THT's much improved defensive statistics indicate that he's very good. His Revised Zone Rating was third in baseball this year (for LF), after Eric Byrnes and Geoff Jenkins, and he committed only two fielding errors and one throwing error over the course of the season (though outfielders in general don't commit very many errors). His 47 out of zone plays were tied for second after Byrnes' 48 with Jason Bay. Generally speaking, one season of fielding statistics isn't enough to judge. So, it's worth noting that in 2006 he was 8th in RZR and second in out of zone plays, and in 2005 he was 6th in RZR but made very few out of zone plays. All of those are AL and NL combined, so RZR clearly likes him quite a bit.

    I don't have access to UZR (part 2 here) prior to 2007, but it loved him this year also, ranking him second behind Soriano.

    He doesn't fare nearly so well in Tangotiger's fan scouting report, but he's not in the bottom third or anything, and our eyes obviously have their own problems. PMR doesn't like him that much either, putting him at slightly below average. There's probably some additional insight in this chart, but I'll be damned if I know what it is.

    So, I may be overemphasizing RZR and UZR when I say he's really good, but they're the systems that make the most sense to me and that I have the easiest access to. In any case, nothing really says his defense is bad, for a left fielder, and two systems agree that it's very good (for a left fielder). Either way, I don't think his defense should be considered a liability to his MVP candidacy, except insofar as his biggest competitors (Prince Fielder aside) play more demanding defensive positions.

    Now, as to whether it's bigger news if he's a good defender... I guess I'm kind of a longue durée kind of guy on this. If there was some evidence that he was failing consistently in high pressure situations, maybe that would be something but I'm perfectly happy to chalk up a few miscues, even in the world series, to kind of a those are the breaks line of thought. Major gaffs or the kind of thing that happens to everyone at some point or another during the season happening at the wrong time? I feel like I don't know and I can't know so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt rather than labeling him a choker or whatever. Piling on bad defenders who more than make up for it with their bat, when there's no easy way to resolve the situation, is also stupid, but at least we can say they're really bad defenders.

    And while your point about two one-run games is well taken, I still say the Rockies got housed. I never felt like they really had a prayer to come back when they were down, and I never would have felt like they could hold a lead if they had gotten one (OK, they had one briefly, but whatever). I thought there was going to be more parity in that series than people were expecting and I felt thoroughly refuted watching the two teams play.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 6:47 PM  

  • Now, now... if there's one thing the Rockies had, it's prayer.

    How is the out-of-zone determination affected by the large outfield?

    By Blogger Jeff, at 7:26 PM  

  • I don't know how RZR accounts for park effects, if at all. I don't know how UZR does either, but I know that it does.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 7:41 PM  

  • Wait, I should add that as I understand it, every stadium has the same number of zones. So on some level, each zone must be larger in CO. Intuitively, that says to me that he should get extra credit for his numbers, if park effects aren't adjusted for, which they may be.

    The thin air at Coors also decreases the hang time of fly balls, I think, so theoretically one could imagine that it would be even more difficult to make OF plays, generally. However, if that's adjusted for, we might be tempted to think it's been overadjusted for. I really don't know.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 7:46 PM  

  • Oh, and finally, RZR and UZR use play-by-play data provided by different companies (STATS and BIS, though I forget which is which), so when they both agree it's a good sign.

    UZR hates Ichiro while RZR (and most everything else) loves him. The difference there is probably the play-by-play data each system is working with (and maybe how each system deals with Ichiro's ball-hogging).

    By Blogger Jesse, at 7:50 PM  

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