Talkin Sox with Dan

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

Archive for the tag “Miguel Cabrera”

Handing Out Hardware

With the playoffs well underway, it is a good time to look back on the season that was and pick a few winners. I’m going to select the manager of the year, top reliever, rookie of the year, Cy Young, and MVP. Expect a short blurb explaining my choice following each selection. Both leagues. Boom.

Manager of the Year

American League — Buck Showalter. This is really a no-brainer for me. Showalter took a team that I typically like to make fun of, given their usual display of inept pitching, to the playoffs. The Fighting Showalters topped 90 wins and possess a brilliant bullpen — both of which are direct reflections on the manager.

National League — Davey Johnson. The Washington Nationals had the best regular season regular in the bigs. Read that again.

Top Reliever

American League — Fernando Rodney. He didn’t lead AL circuit in saves. Jim Johnson took that. Rodney, however, was spectacular. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a pinch-hit walk-off home run off of the Tampa Bay closer in May in way in what was supposed to be one of 12 different jumping off points for the Red Sox. It was a blip on the radar for Rodney was downright dominant. His .60 ERA was the best by any reliever who tossed more than 50 frames. Cy Young votes are in order.

National League — Craig Kimbrel. You could make a good case for Aroldis Chapman, but Kimbrel is my guy here. He allowed seven earned runs all season, led the NL in saves, and is about as reliable as it gets.

Rookie of the Year

American League — Mike Trout. And I refuse to get into why.

National League — Bryce Harper. It might seem like I’m copping out, but I’m not. It was a tough choice. Todd Frazier is a guy I like a lot–kid’s a good player. And he looks like a true big leaguer. But Harper is the real deal, the total package. He was two bags away from a 20-20 season and scored 98 runs. His promotion was not a sure thing, but his arrival has been. Get your proverbial popcorn ready.

Cy Young

American League — David Price. If you lead the league in wins (20) and ERA (2.56), you’re probably going to get my vote. If you’re putting up those numbers while conducting business in the AL East, you’re definitely getting my vote.

National League — R.A. Dickey. I will be perfectly honest here — my gut reaction is to look for a guy who isn’t Dickey, who isn’t throwing a knuckleball consistently. It’s probably that same train of thought that led Tony La Russa to start Matt Cain in the All-Star game. Let’s not make the same poor decision. Dickey was the best pitcher in the Senior Circuit in 2012. A sub-3 ERA, 230 punch-outs, and 20 wins does the trick for me. Long live the knuck.

MVP

American League — Mike Trout. If Ted Williams can win the Triple Crown and not win the MVP, then so can Miguel Cabrera. There is no clear-cut choice here. There are no wrong answers. No one is an idiot for choosing Cabrera over Trout. If you believe Trout is the Most Valuable Player, that does not mean you’ve turned your back on traditional baseball statistics. It’s funny how a MVP race can turn into a New School vs. Old School statistical holy war. Let’s please not make it that–it takes away from what these two super special players have done in 2012.

I love Cabrera. I really do. He is like Will Hunting in Good Will Hunting. Hunting finds organic chemistry to be easy, second nature. He doesn’t have to try to learn advanced mathematics–he just gets it. Cabrera is a pure, natural hitter. Some people were just put on this planet to hit. It is power and precision at its finest. All of that said, Trout is still my choice.

Trout’s defensive prowess in center field was second to none. When he wasn’t scaling fences, he was running down balls that were gappers off of the bat. His combination of speed and power is truly remarkable. He scored 129 runs and stole 49 bases. His OBP was .399. Trout’s impact on the Angels was tangible when he was recalled. His fingerprint was on nearly every game he played in. He was the Most Valuable Player of the American League.

National League — Ryan Braun. He’s not going to win the MVP. And it’s because of his positive drug test from this time last year. It’s 2012, not 2011, and Braun hit nine more home runs than he did yesteryear when he won the MVP. He stole 30 bases and got on base at a .391 clip. It wouldn’t be difficult to make the argument that Braun had a better year than he did in his MVP campaign in 2011. Buster Posey is absolutely excellent, but I dare you to remove the stigma of Braun’s positive test from last year and vote for someone else. I’m not sure you can.

Trying to Keep a Level Head

Disinfectant

It took awhile, but all of the puke is cleaned up. No, I’m not talking about the vomit that derived from the Red Sox pitching staff since Jon Lester left the game on Thursday afternoon. Instead, I’m referring to my own. My gag reflex was triggered after watching Alfredo Aceves waltz into yesterday’s game, armed with a three run lead. A cupcake save?

Please.

This was a Cadbury Creme Egg sitting in a basket on the kitchen table on Easter morning. Just take it. It’s yours.

But no. Austin Jackson recorded what seemed like his 28h hit of the series. Brennan Boesch promptly slapped a chopper up the middle that went for a single after Dustin Pedroia was able to knock it down but unable to record an out at second or first. Finally, Miguel Cabrera (man, that dude can mash–not that we weren’t aware of that) cleaned up the mess by dispatching a middle-middle fastball beyond the left field fence. Tie game. Brutal.

Two innings later, in the bottom of the eleventh, the Red Sox had a white-knuckle grip on a two-run lead. Mark Melancon, desperate to prove his mettle to his new teammates (and fans), relieved Franklin Morales (2 IP, 0 R, 3 K’s). The muscle of the Tigers’ order was due up. Boesch graciously grounded out the first base. That proved to be the calm before the sh*t storm.

Cabrera singled to right field. Prince Fielder hit a cue shot through the vacated left side of the Red Sox infield. A wild pitch by Melancon allowed Cabrera to waddle his way to third base. Fielder wanted nothing to do moving into scoring position, so the possibility of a double play was still in order. Delmon Young didn’t cooperate as he lifted a sacrifice fly to center field. Alex Avila followed by hitting a two-run home run to right field, sending Comerica Park into a walk-off frenzy for the second time in three games.

Vomit.

——

Remaining Calm

So look, it’s been three games. The Red Sox have not recorded a victory. They came close twice. Let’s not let this get the better of us. Here is your medicine. Overdose on it.

  • Detroit is a good team. It is not easy to open on the road against a team that was in the ALCS last season (and they’ve gotten considerably better). The Tigers are flat out good. You got swept in their house. Is this what you wanted? Absolutely not. But it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
  • 5 IP/3 ER’s/4 K’s/ and a loss. That was Beckett’s line in his first start last season. It was in Cleveland, and the Sox desperately needed a win after being swept in Texas. Beckett did not step up and deliver what his team needed. Somehow, he still went on to post a 2.89 ERA. So Yes, Beckett got lit up on Saturday afternoon, but that doesn’t preclude him from succeeding this year. In fact, it is likely that he will pitch well Friday’s home opener against Tampa Bay, a team he performs notoriously well against.
  • Click riiiiiiight here.

——

The Bullpen

It looks bad. I know. Last night, I almost internally conceded that Daniel Bard must go back to the bullpen. But after a night of sleep, I realized that I am not ready to do that. Bard, for now, should remain in the rotation. This is not an argument of what is more important: A fifth starter or a closer. That needs to be made extremely, extremely clear. Bard has the ability and the opportunity to develop into a top half of the rotation starter (see: C.J. Wilson). And that is exponentially more important than a closer. For Bard and the Red Sox, 2012 is the first step in that process of conversion.

At the same time, I am a realist. Bard and the Sox could not have predicted Andrew Bailey was going to go down–at least not this early in the season for this long. Bailey’s injury changes the dynamic in the Red Sox bullpen. I get that. As much as I’d like to, I’m not going to jump on the ‘Bard must be the closer’ bandwagon after three games, two of which the bullpen effectively blew. Could Bard end up closing games due to poor performance by some combination of Aceves/Melancon/Morales/Vincente Padilla? Absolutely. I’m just not ready to make that determination quite yet.

Finally, keep this in mind–we do not know if Bard can close. I’m sorry, but we don’t. He is the same guy who imploded down the stretch in 2011 for the Red Sox. He lost his ability to throw strikes consistently due to a poor arm slot. His pitches flattened, and he was hit hard. Do not be the individual that advocates for Bard being moved to the closer role simply because he is different than the current cast of hopefuls.

What we do know is that he create swings and misses, something that is sorely lacking in the bullpen right now (Morales aside). If and when he is shifted out of the rotation and back to the bullpen, it will be because his ability to avoid contact in late inning, high leverage situations–not because he is the elixir to all problems that ail the Olde Towne Team.

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