Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Red Sox Links and Thoughts 6-20-12

Here are some interesting links I’ve found this morning while sitting at my desk in a small second-floor classroom sweating my face off:

1.  There were many reports yesterday and today of the Red Sox refuting Olney’s toxic clubhouse report:




 All basically have the same quotes from the same players.  I am most interested in the fact that Josh Beckett features prominently in the rebuttal of the toxic clubhouse report.  I had assumed in my last blog post that Beckett would be one of the malcontents around which this report was based.  This isn’t the first time Beckett has publically claimed that this is a good group of guys and a tight clubhouse this year.  I now tend to believe him – at least the group that he hangs around.  Beckett is a great example of an actions vs. words guy.  He does dumb things and it makes you have a negative perception of who he is as a person/player, and then he says things in his interviews which actually make you like him as a person/player.  Which do you believe?  I have to admit - I have been swayed by his comments about this team going out to dinner together, having family outings together, and breaking each other's balls in the clubhouse.  Are his words speaking louder than his actions?  Well, since I am not in the clubhouse to actually see his actions on a daily basis, yes...I guess they are.  I'm confused.

Of course Valentine is going to say what he said to defend his work as leader of this team.  I found it interesting that Bobby V took a shot at Olney, who only months ago were working together at ESPN.  Maybe they had a feud in the cafeteria in Bristol, CT that led to some of this back-and-forth?

I also thought it was interesting who was not featured in the articles.  There has been nary a word spoken, that I’ve heard or read, from Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, or Adrian Gonzalez.  Pedroia is the guy, by the way, who many refer to as the “de-facto captain” of this team.  I still say he is one of, if not the biggest, malcontent on the roster.  Now it appears as though Pedroia has re-injured his thumb and will be out, in typical 2012 Sox fashion, for a month or so (haven’t actually read this, just speculating on my part).

2.  The absolute best report out there that I read refuting the idea of a toxic clubhouse comes from Joe McDonald from ESPNBoston.com’s expletive-laced interview with David Ortiz:


Here are a few of my favorite gems from the article:

“I run this [expletive] clubhouse right here. This clubhouse has no problem. The last problem this clubhouse had was last year when everything came down to what it was in [September], but since then everybody’s cool and everybody’s trying their best to win games.” 

"First of all, this is the Red Sox right here. This ain’t no [expletive] organization that players just walk in for the first day and start doing whatever the [expletive] they want,” he said. “Players, when they walk into this clubhouse, they look around and they want to adjust themselves to what is going on here, and that’s how things are in this clubhouse.”

“We all get along here real well, I can tell you that,” Ortiz said. “There’s not one guy right here that has a problem with any others. We’ve got a bus that we all have to get on and you should see that bus when we are riding on it. If [Olney] means toxic clubhouse because of the players, I don’t know about that. I’m the guy who is in control of that [expletive], so he’s wrong when it comes down to that. 

“Everybody is on the same page -- bullpen, outfielders, infielders, me on the bench, the starting pitchers -- we’re all cool with each other. I don’t know what Buster was pointing at, but it’s something I would like to know because he could be confused about something.”

I mean, wow.  I love these quotes so much, I might print them out and frame them.  What more could you want a leader on a team to do when somebody attacks his clubhouse?  Talk about accountability – Ortiz mentions multiple times that “I run this f****** clubhouse right here” and “I am the guy who is in control of that s***”.  I love it!  I don’t remember ever seeing so many Papi interviews that are laced with expletives as much as I have this year.  The guy has just stepped up in every way imaginable – at the plate, defending his teammates, and putting himself out there as the clubhouse leader to deflect criticism from this teammates.  I also loved the part where he said “First of all, this is the Red Sox right here…”  Here is a guy who says what all Sox fans believe: that the Red Sox are special.  Even if they have been nearly a .500 team over the past calendar year (81-77), here is a guy who still believes being a part of the Red Sox and taking the field at Fenway Park is still something special.


3.  A quick tip of the cap to a well-written article at weei.com by Kirk Minihane on why it doesn’t matter if the Sox clubhouse is toxic or not:


He makes a valid argument and good points throughout the piece.  I tend to agree with some of his points, for instance that this team’s real problems are a lack of quality starts from the rotation and injuries/ineffectiveness from our stars (Gonzalez, Youkilis, Crawford, Ellsbury, Pedroia).  I also agree with his assertion that throughout baseball history there have been many teams with outstanding clubhouse chemistry who went 62-100, just as there are certainly examples of teams with poor chemistry going 100-62 (or thereabouts).  I also agree that there must be some bad apples on the Yankees, Nationals, or Dodgers this season, even though those teams are probably the three best in baseball right now.

But ultimately, I disagree with the notion that chemistry is meaningless.  I disagree that analyzing chemistry is nothing more than “US Weekly” for baseball fans, as Minihane claims.  I have always believed and have always told teams that I have coached the following: teams with quality chemistry will outperform their talent, while teams with poor chemistry will underachieve.

4.  The Maineiacs seem to be in agreement with just about everybody in Red Sox Nation that it is time for Kevin Youkilis to go.  Chad Finn has an excellent blog post making the argument here:


Finn submits a well-written post as usual.  I really liked how he started off the post making sure to pay homage to all that Youk accomplished in a Red Sox uniform, which is astounding looking back on it now.  For a guy who always relied more on grit than talent, he came in third in the AL MVP voting in 2008 and won a gold glove.  He won two World Series rings in Boston and the Nation should be forever grateful to him.

I also loved the comp to Trot Nixon.  Perfect comp.  A guy who outperformed his talent in his late 20’s, then crashed in his early 30’s due to various injuries, then was out of baseball by his mid 30’s. 

Finally, filed under the sad but true file is this nugget in his post on what the Red Sox can expect to get in return for Youk:

A minor-leaguer with a reasonable chance of sticking in the big leagues would be more than enough. Two decent minor-leaguers would be a windfall.

Yes, the once-mighty Youk would be lucky to fetch one average minor leaguer in return.  Let’s hope Ben C pulls the trigger this week.  Like, today (checking ESPNBoston.com’s headlines…..darn, not yet).

5.  The Red Sox Maineiacs’ #7 Prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. has got the call from Salem up to the AA Portland Sea Dogs.  WEEI.com had a good write-up about it today:


 This is an admittedly gushing article aimed at highlighting all of Bradley’s talents, but man, it sounds like we have a gem coming up through the system here.  If Deacon Art’s assertion that the Sox have next-to-no chance at re-signing Jacoby Ellsbury beyond 2013, then it looks like this kid will be his replacement in 2014 and beyond.  Now we need to organize a Maineiacs Sea Dogs trip to scout out Bradley and Brentz, as well as the cheap (by ballpark standards) Shipyard they have on draft at Hadlock Field.  Clear the calendars boys!

6.  Finally, in non-Red Sox MLB news, I came across this interesting article on cbssports.com:


 Basically, the Rocks are going with a four-man rotation and an eight-man bullpen.  Each starter will be on a 75 pitch limit.  Obviously, the bullpen will be used on a daily basis to fill up the middle innings.  This is the first time I have heard of any team doing something like this, although I’m sure it’s been done before.  I am always fascinated when a team does something outside of the norm of how MLB teams are always constructed and deployed.  The usual chours of “what the hell are these guys doing” begins, and if it doesn’t work out, then they are able to say “see!  I told you!  Just stick to what has worked since 1892!”

But I say good for the Rocks.  What do they have to lose?  They’re light years behind the Dodgers in the NL West.  A lot of teams would pick up somebody off the scrap heap and trot him out there once every five days because that’s what you’re supposed to do.  But what if this kind of works?  Think about it – a lot of teams these days have young pitchers on innings/pitch count limits (again, pitch count limits make more sense, but for some reason it is always reported as innings limits).  For example, Stephen Strausburg is supposedly on a strict innings limit this season and will be shut down once he reaches that limit.  What if the Nats are in a pennant race at the time, and without Strausburg they finish a game or two out of the playoffs?  Wouldn’t you rather have 75 pitches per start of Strasburg for the last three months of the season than 100-110 pitch starts through August and 0 pitches from him in September?

Regardless of how it works out, I say kudos to the Rocks for trying something new. 

Until next time, I’ll keep sweating and scouring the internet for interesting articles for your reading pleasure.

3 comments:

  1. Great stuff as usual, Brandon. I have to admit my first thought was, "How can they hate each other? The roster changes like six players a week!"

    My internet connection is slooooow at home. Did the players show their support for Valentine in any of the articles, or was that not addressed in Olney's original piece?

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  2. Now that you mention it Matt, I did not read a single quote from any of the players backing up Valentine or declaring support for him. All of their comments were along the lines of, "the players on this team are tight. We get along. It's a good group of guys. There are no problems that I know of in regards to the guys on this team". So maybe the toxicity that Olney dug out exists not between players, but only between players and the manager.

    Also, I mentioned in my links and thoughts piece on Monday that Olney's blog post (which again I did not read all of - I do not have ESPN Insider) repeatedly referred to frustration and unhappiness "amongst players and staff". If the problems were about players, then why would he use that phrase instead of just "amongst players"? Maybe the pitching coach, hitting coach, bench coach, bullpen coach, etc. are unhappy with the way they are treated by the current Cherington/Valentine regime and those are the people who griped to Olney.

    If the "we hate Valentine" angle is true, then in my opinion it still reflects poorly on the players on the roster. The narrative after last September's collapse was that Francona had lost the clubhouse and nobody was listening to him anymore. So out he went and now three-and-a-half months into the Bobby V era, the players are unhappy with him too? Whatever happened to buying in to a coach's message and all pulling together as a team? What does this group want - to choose their own manager? To have Ortiz be a player/manager (I'd go for that idea btw)?

    Some of the Maineiacs have claimed they would like to see Valentine be fired right now. I would like just the opposite. I would like some of the Sox leaders - Ortiz perhaps - to come out publicly in support of Valentine. What is bringing in another new voice in the middle of a season going to accomplish? I say get on board with the guy we have or get out. Even if he is a condescending jerk.

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  3. Lots of good stuff here Brandon. People need to stop referring to Pedroia as the captain because he is clearly not the captain of this team, Ortiz is. Pedroia is more of an annoying little gnat that leads by example when it comes to his effort and hustle, but I don't think he has the slightest idea of how to run a clubhouse like Ortiz does.

    As far as the toxicity goes it only takes one guy (my guess would be Youk, because he has snitched before) to feel that way and tell Olney about it and then wham-o you have the report that came out on Monday. It may be a toxic place for one player because he doesn't like it here anymore or he's on the outside looking in when it comes to camaraderie. Maybe the team is just very clique.

    They clearly don't like Valentine, but they can still win despite him. So they need to get over that and just win ballgames. IMO Bobby V hasn't cost them any games with his management since the first 2-3 weeks of the season so they can win with him as manager they just need to pitch better and get timely hitting.

    Lastly, they need to trade Youk now, like yesterday.

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