Monday, June 18, 2012

Red Sox Links and Thoughts 6-18-12

Here are some links and thoughts I compiled while sitting at my desk watching students finish work they should have done during the school year:

1.  This is the most interesting/enthralling/compulsively-readable piece I have read in a long time:

http://www.si.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1083748/1/index.htm

Titled "Return From the Dark", it is written by Tony Conigliaro himself (with help from Jack Zanger) and published in the June 22, 1970 edition of Sports Illustrated.  I was thoroughly impressed by a ballplayer’s ability to describe the experience and pain of having his face destroyed by a pitched ball.  I have heard of Tony C’s beaning, of course, being a Red Sox fan, but never before have I heard about all that went into that night, that season, and Tony C’s story.  A must read.  There is also a part two that I have yet to read.

2.  The hot Red Sox topic of the day in the Twittersphere is a Buster Olney blog published today titled, “Boston Red Sox Deep in Dissension”.  Here is the link:


I haven’t read the entire article/blog post because I am not an ESPN Insider.  If you are, have at it.  If you are also not an Insider, here is what I have been able to dig up about the post’s contents:

- There is rampant unhappiness and frustration throughout the Red Sox clubhouse on the part of players and staff.  They are frustrated about the way their situations have been handled and they have been sounding off about their unhappiness to friends, family, and agents.

- Some Sox players (and staff I guess - I’m not sure if this refers to coaches, grounds crew, peanut vendors, bat boys, or who exactly) have already started talking about leaving town as soon as they can to play elsewhere

- Some players have been exhibiting poor body language during games, which can be openly seen “for those aware of the problems”

- “If they don’t win – if the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs – there will be a time when all of the exasperation and frustration is going to spill out spectacularly.”

- “It doesn’t take long to ascertain that the Red Sox are a splintered group, with a lot of players and staff unhappy for a lot of different reasons.  If they do come back and make the playoffs, it’s not going to be because of a united clubhouse.  It’s toxic.”
The timing of this blog post seems a little strange considering the Sox have won 4 out of 5 to climb back to .500, but I suppose it is because Olney happened to be covering the Sox for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. 

It’s not like it is a shock that the Sox clubhouse is toxic.  I don’t think anybody fainted with disbelief when this post was made public.  I do think it is interesting that the post is full of harsh rhetoric, yet it is extremely vague on who exactly is doing all of this bellyaching within the Sox clubhouse.  I found it interesting that he repeatedly used the phrase “among players and staff” instead of just “among players”, leading me to believe that somebody on the coaching staff (or the guy who washes the jockstraps for all I know) unloaded some serious dirt to Olney over some brewskis at the Cubby Bear in Chicago over the weekend.



As far as players go, I can think of four players off the top of my head who would have various reasons to be unhappy with how their situations have been handled:

            - Daniel Bard.  He was obviously unhappy with his demotion to AAA and has basically acted       like a whiny little child all year about his transition to the rotation.

            - Kevin Youkilis.  Everybody and their mother knows that the Sox want to trade him, and the sooner the better.  He’s only playing to try to showcase his health for other teams and he knows that too.

            - Clay Buchholz.  Bobby V dropped a nugget to the press about Clay’s refusal to pitch on Sunday night instead of keeping that info in the clubhouse or manager’s office where it probably belongs.

            - Josh Beckett.  Whipping boy for chicken and beer and golfgate.  His off days are his off days.  His refusal to speak to the media after two straight starts.  His somewhat-mysterious injury and DL trip.

            - Here another one that never gets mentioned, and is a total guess on my part: Dustin Pedroia.  Ever since his lambasting of Bobby V back in April I have suspected that Pede isn’t thrilled with this clubhouse and staff.  I could totally picture him being unhappy and spouting off to fellow players, family, and his agent about it, and I could also picture the line about players making plans to play             elsewhere as soon as they can being about Pedroia.  Probably wherever Tito ends up managing next year.  I hope I’m wrong.  Again, no published reports here, just an inkling.

I have never heard of a baseball team winning consistently and making a playoff run with a toxic clubhouse.  Maybe it has happened, but it would have to be extremely rare.  Therefore, I think it is imperative that Ben Cherington act quickly and decisively here.  Start getting rid of some of these malcontents.  Allow young, talented players in Middlebrooks and Kalish to play everyday.  Trade Youk now.  Make a decision on what Bard is and tell him to either suck it up and like it or trade him too.  Explore trading Beckett back to the NL for fifty cents on the dollar.  Cut out the cancers and allow young talent to sink or swim.  We’ll be better of in 2013 for it, if not 2012.

3.  Here is an addition to the Olney piece by Art Martone at csnne.com:


Martone claims that the Bobby V slip to the media about Buchholz refusing to make Sunday’s start is indicative of the overall clubhouse toxicity.  He seems to put the brunt of the blame for the problems on Bobby V’s inability to keep conflicts under wraps in the clubhouse.  I’m not sure I disagree, but if this is all Bobby V’s fault, then how do you explain last September, which seems to be the root of all this dissension? 

4.  In another example of how up-and-down, topsy-turvy, outhouse-to-penthouse this Sox season has been, on the same morning that Olney publishes his blog that the clubhouse is ready to explode into a catastrophic mushroom cloud, Ken Rosenthal writes an article claiming that he thinks the Red Sox are still a title threat and outlines four reasons for hope: 


How is Red Sox Nation supposed to react here?  Are we supposed to be running for our gas masks and bomb shelters, or preparing for the Sox to start climbing the AL East standings? 

5.  In Brian MacPherson’s game recap from last night, here outlines the spark that Ryan Kalish provided for the Red Sox:


Catching a glimpse of what Kalish can do last night cemented my belief that he should be our everyday center fielder immediately.  His youth and enthusiasm will be good for the dugout, his speed, fielding, and power will be good for the lineup, and his huge schnozz will be uplifting for big-nosed people everywhere.  What’s not to like?

Really though, by teaming Kalish with Middlebrooks in the lineup, the Red Sox could begin to establish two home-grown talents that could be cornerstones of this team for years to come.  And who’s to say that Ellsbury is going to come back and be totally healthy or effective?  If it’s 2010 all over again for Ells, then Kalish should be our CF for the rest of the year.  If Ells does come back healthy and productive, Kalish should become the everyday RF and Ross can find platoon duty.

6.  According to this article by Sean McAdam csnne.com:


Nava’s suicide squeeze last night was not due to a sneaky managerial decision, but because Nava’s hand still hurts too much to swing a bat right-handed.  So my question is, “why is Nava still on the active roster and not the DL”?  If his hand hurts too much to swing at all right-handed, then he can’t be able to generate much power left-handed.  I would DL him and bring Lars Anderson back up to platoon in LF with Ross.  Lars has raked in AAA and deserves more MLB time, IMO.  Or they could go with the defense of Che-Hsuan Lin.  Either way, why carry around an ineffective Nava?

That’s all I got for today.  Feel free to weigh in on any of my opinions or links below.  And if you’re still reading this, do yourself a favor and scroll up to link #1 and read the SI article from 1970 by Tony Conigliaro.  You won’t be disappointed.  

4 comments:

  1. I'd say you've got your finger right on the pulse of the Sox clubhouse. I think you can add Carl Crawford and the medical staff to your to your list of things to gripe about. Carl made a comment the other day in the press that his schedule for rehab changes everyday and he's not sure when he's going to be able to begin a comeback.

    It does seem a little strange that these clubhouse rumors come out only when the Red Sox play on the National stage. I think they are slightly exaggerated but only slightly.

    Interesting rumor on CSNNE SportsCentral tonight that Josh Beckett confronted Kevin Youkilis at some point this season about being the leak in the clubhouse about last years chicken and beer story. Could possibly explain a little bit more about why Youkilis is struggling and Youk could be the one talking about playing elsewhere because he knows that everyone else in the room hates him.

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  2. First a quick comment about Tony C before jumping into this year's Sox. I have been burned by this statement before but I believe I have the original SI with the article you referenced in a box of old Red Sox programs and baseball magazines. Since Tony C was my favorite player as a kid I vividly remember the SI cover, it was mostly black with an oval center containing Tony's picture with his swollen shut black and blue eye.

    Onto Buster Olney's comment about the Sox clubhouse being a "toxic" atmosphere. Today on Rich Kimball's show, Sean McAdam declined to characterize it as such, but agreeing it is " far from cohesive". I first read Buster's comments online yesterday, and I also first thought of Dustin Pedroia and secondly, Adrian Gonzalez. Of course the more likely cast of malcontents are also involved I am sure.

    I believe and think they will trade Youkilis during this week's homestand. Middlebrooks and Kalish will play every day. This will solve the lineup congestion, but I think it will have only a little impact on the toxicity unless Youkilis is the source of 90% of it. I doubt that.

    As far as Valentine calling out Buchholz as some type of prima donna for refusing to pitch Sunday, two things jump to mind. First, Clay saying he felt he needed more time is not refusing to pitch. Secondly, the same as every time Valentine opens his mouth it makes no sense. Just like when he ripped Youkilis early in the season. he picked the only time Youk was producing all year, and he has not produced since. So much for managerial motivation. This time Valentine cannot have it both ways, he cannot take credit from Nick Cafardo and his other cronies, for outing Buchholz while at the same time Valentine is breaking his own right arm patting himself on the back for his genius in spotting starter's ability in Morales. I am not saying Valentine is the blame for a majority of the toxicity, but I would still fire him now. And I think Cherington would too if it was really his choice.

    Speaking of Ben Cherington brings us to the thorny dilemma he is in. The reason for the seemingly contradictory columns stating the Sox are poisoned vs. Rosenthal's they can still win the AL East is BOTH viewpoints are completely TRUE. The Red Sox could make moves to eliminate some discontent and positional overlap and still be a contender. If either Crawford or Ellsbury contribute anything from late July on ( not to mention if both do) this will more of a boost than any other contender can do by trade. Adding Bard and Bailey to the pen is again more bullpen help than will be available on the market. But of course, this year could blow up in our faces as well. As much as Beckett is despised, if he is hurt more than is being told to us that would be a tough blow to overcome, but not impossible if Lester came to life along with the other rotation members.

    I particularly liked Rosenthal's comment on the Yankees not staying this hot. As I told a coworker today, for every nine game segment of the rest of the year, the Yanks will not go 9-0 in them all ( obiviously) and it's probable they do not win 9 in a row again this year. it is still doable and that is the root of Cherington's dilemma.

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  3. Just one more note, I do have the ESPN insider and just read Olney's whole post. In reference above to the contradictory columns, in the SAME column where Olney is pouring out the toxicity angle, he goes on to say that " but the Red Sox can undoubtedly still win it". He then goes on to compare them to the late 1970's Bronx Zoo and rehashes how the recovery of the injured players could make a big difference.

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  4. The time is now Ben Cherington. The team seems to have a little momentum going again with a 3 game winning streak. He needs to clear out the malcontents right now. Of course the most obvious one is Youk, he's the only one really unless you want to count the manager. Youk needs to be traded now and allow the roster to smooth out and see if they can keep the ball rolling. Middlebrooks needs to play 3B, Gonzo needs to be back at 1B full time and Kalish needs to be in CF with Nava, Ross and DMac handling the rest of the OF spots.

    Hopefully Pedroia's injury wasn't too serious tonight as this team needs to get healthy and get on a roll the last thing they need is to lose him for an extended period.

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