Talkin Sox with Dan

Where baseball fans gather for commonsensical, opinionated Red Sox banter.

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Beyond Stupid

I wasn’t watching the Red Sox game on Sunday. I didn’t see one pitch. Instead, I was busy watching the Patriots piss away a victory against the suddenly pesky Arizona Cardinals. At home. In a week where both the Ravens and the Jets lost.

But I digress.

The Sox were north of the border, completing an utterly meaningless three-game series against the equally as awful Blue Jays. It was the top of the seventh inning, and the Local Nine found themselves in a scoreless game with two outs. Pedro Ciriaco delivered a single, and Jose Iglesias stepped to the plate. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Ciriaco swiped second base.

Enter Idiot.

Bobby Valentine sent pinch hitter Daniel Nava to the plate to relieve Iglesias. In the middle of his at-bat. In a 2-2 count. In a game that most literally means nothing. Nava, who was probably just as uncomfortable as the 22-year old Iglesias, promptly grounded out on the first pitch he saw. Inning over.

I have no issue with Valentine attempting to win ballgames in the final handful of weeks of the season. Of course that is until he starts acting like a total assclown on the field.

If Valentine is truly determined to pile up as many meaningless wins as he can, here is an idea: Pinch hit Nava for Iglesias before the young shortstop even digs in the batter’s box. That move would have at least been justifiable, given the fact that Nava would be hitting from the left side, making it more difficult for the right-handed throwing catcher to nab the soon-to-be stealing Ciriaco. Let’s not forget that any hitter prefers a fresh count rather than being thrust into a two-strike situation.

Valentine is still employed by the Red Sox, and I’m not sure why. But if this latest act of utter stupidity does not force ownership’s hand, I don’t believe anything will. Count on Valentine managing this team throughout the remainder of the season–that includes the three-game series in New York to end the year.

 

Clearing the Air

Lately, I’ve read a couple of blogs and heard more than one sports radio caller advocate for bringing Bobby Valentine back next season. Their commentary almost always has to do with the idea that the mess that is the 2012 Boston Red Sox is not Valentine’s fault. He inherited a dysfunctional clubhouse. He can’t be held responsible for the rash of injuries that befell this team. He cannot control the fact that the starting pitching staff has been collectively and consistently awful since jump street. You could go on and on.

The fact is that these individuals are largely correct. If you were to slice up a blame pie for this team, Valentine would not come close to getting the biggest serving. But that certainly does not mean he should be at the helm when the Red Sox take the field in 2013.

It feels like years ago, but the Red Sox took a quality first step in refocusing their organization when they shed a quarter of a billion dollars in a post-trade deadline line deal with the Dodgers just a few weeks ago. It is absolutely vital that they continue to operate in that same fashion. Every move GM Ben Cherington and the Red Sox make must done with an eye towards the future. And Valentine is not part of it.

Cherington, not Larry Lucchino, must find Terry Francona Part Two — a highly respected manager of people. I’m not sure if that is John Farrell, Terry Lovullo, Ryne Sandberg, or someone else.

But it is certainly not Valentine.

Advice for the Red Sox: Farrell, Morales, Ortiz

It’s not that these September games don’t matter at all. There is plenty of room for evaluating guys like Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway, and Ryan Kalish. However, every move that this organization makes going forward must be done with an eye towards the future. The 2012 Boston Red Sox are officially about the 2013 Boston Red Sox

Here are nine pieces of advice for a ball club in desperate need of putting its best foot forward.

—Do what you have to do to pry John Farrell from the Blue Jays. If Toronto’s GM Alex Anthopoulos demands a player like Clay Buchholz or even Daniel Bard (yes, that Daniel Bard), you move on–because that’s ridiculous. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Farrell should be the top candidate to replace Bobby Valentine.

—Bring David Ortiz back on a one-year deal. I love these tough-talkers who call into radio shows and proclaim how they’re sick of Ortiz, how he’s a baby, and the Sox need to move on. Get real. I wouldn’t necessarily offer him arbitration, but Ortiz has to be the anchor of that lineup next season. And remember: A pissed off Ortiz is a productive Ortiz.

—Sign Cody Ross this offseason and never let him play right field again. Ever.

—John Henry must empower GM Ben Cherington. He is an intelligent, qualified executive who deserves more autonomy. If that means somehow lessening the importance of Larry Lucchino, so be it. Wins are more important than selling commemorative bricks.

—Give Franklin Morales a fair shot to start in 2013. I’d go to battle with that guy as my fifth starter any day of the week.

—Integrate some patience this offseason. The Red Sox have gotten away from their bread and butter–taking pitches, working the count, and wearing down the opposition. You can get away with a couple of free swingers like Will Middlebrooks, but for every young, anxious hitter, you need two players who are willing to take what is given to them. ESPN’s Jeremy Lundblad explores this in more detail here.

—Trade Jacoby Ellsbury in the offseason. Fans will undoubtedly gripe, but it is the best decision. Here is why.

—Find a way to harness Alfredo Aceves. He is undoubtedly volatile, quirky, and, at times, troublesome. But he is a weapon, a guy who can pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen, spot start, or even close an occasional game. If he proves to be detrimental to the team, cut bait.

—Do not be afraid of bad publicity. When discussing the idea of firing Valentine before season’s end, WEEI’s Rob Bradford advocated the idea by saying “rip the band-aid off.” I don’t necessarily agree with firing Valentine now, but Bradford’s point is actually a good one. This organization has gotten away from what is most important: Assembling a quality team that is capable of playing consistently good team baseball. Are there going to be bumps in the road along the way? Sure. Rather than compromising what is best for the franchise in order to avoid a few potholes, hit them head on. Face the music and learn from the mistakes.

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