Tito talks

I’m going to let Terry Francona be the voice of the blog today. You guys would probably rather hear from him then me, right?

Tito leaves for Fort Myers on Wednesday. He held court with the writers today and here is pretty much what he said — unfiltered.

Communication with Matsuzaka? “I sent him an e-mail
through [a third party]  just kind of
telling him, not to overwhelm him, but just trying to explain to him that I am
aware that there are some cultural differences and welcoming him to the Red
Sox, things like that. But john Farrell went out there and visited with him for
a day and a half, which I think is good, as with all pitchers. Or all new
people, whether they’re players or pitchers. I think it’s great, when we get to
spring training and it’s hello, and you’re not meeting somebody for the first
time, but you’re reacquainting yourself. I think that goes a long way. John
came back and was really pleased with his visit. He said he’s basically a
normal 26-year-old, likes to have fun, quick to smile, threw the ball real well
off flat ground the day he saw him, gave a lot of input during their lunch
together, which was good. Again, we’re at a disadvantage communicating, which
can be frustrating. But we need to get around that as much as we can. “

Communication in games, “From my standpoint, when I go
out there, he’s coming out. That’s not that tough. I’ll put my hand out, give
me the ball. If he pitches great, I’ll pat him on the back. That’s not that
tough. John and Jason [Varitek], they’re going to have to work at this a
little. And they will. But from where I stand, besides the fact of
communicating, which I love to do, it won’t interfere with the game.”

How will the five-man rotation affect Matsuzaka? “Well, I
hope it doesn’t. You know what, he’s thrown a lot of innings. He’s 26, but he’s
got a lot of innings under his belt. He’s made a lot of adjustments along the
way, through his career. And the other thing is too, we have some age in Schill
and Wake. So we may use it this year differently than we have in the past. We
may not skip a guy, we may go ahead and just keep five starters, especially in April.
It won’t completely be different, at least in the beginning.”

Papelbon a closer again? “To be perfectly honest, I
suppose the possibility exists, but I think it’s a very long shot. I think a
lot of things have to happen for that to eventually happen and I don’t see that
happening. The first thing is that he’d have to be medically cleared to do it,
and that’s the reason he’s in the starting rotation. It’s not because we don’t
think he can close. If I had my druthers, he would be our closer. That’s how I
feel. It’s not happening. We have to respect the medical people’s advice and I
do. I’m not fighting it.

“They think for his long term, not only success, but
health, this is the way to go about it. And I understand that, so we’ll do it. Unless
that changed, it can’t happen. On top of that, we’d have to have a bullpen that
was struggling, we’d have to have him as a starter that was struggling, which I
don’t foresee happening. There’s too many things that would have to happen for
him to go back to the bullpen that I don’t think are going to happen. But to
completely rule it out, I don’t know if that’s fair. But you’ve heard what I
just said, it’s a really long shot.”

No chance of Pap being he Opening Day closer: “No, that
won’t happen in spring training, I’m telling you, that’s not going to happen. I
was talking way into the season.”

How will the closer competition shape up? “I have some
ideas how it’s going to unfold. The four right-handers, Donnelly, Timlin,
Tavarez and Pineiro, we’ll sit down and talk to them individually and as a
group when I get down there and explain to them that those are the four veteran
guys that we want to see throw some innings late in the games. We’ll explain to
them that we want them to build arm strength in the beginning; we don’t want
guys going out the first week and throwing 3-0 breaking balls and trying to
have a low ERA in spring training so they can be the closer. As we get into the
spring and we’re gearing it up, we’ll tell them how we feel, what we’re looking
for. And then we’ll put it together. The hope would be by the end of camp,
we’ve got roles for everybody. It doesn’t always work that way. If they pitch
well and throw strikes, it will work that way. And then there’s guys like
Hansen and Delcarmen, where they fit, we honestly don’t know. The way they
pitch will tell us.”

 

More on the closer: “You can’t just go to spring training
and say the guy with the lowest ERA is going to be the closer. There are way
too many variables. And again, veteran pitchers, not just veteran pitchers but
all pitchers need to come and get ready for a long season. If we do it
differently, we won’t be getting our team ready. Again, in a prefect world, it
will all come together about the 25th of March and we’ll have it all settled.
It’s not always a perfect world. But we’ll do the best we can. If we have to
adjust, we’ll adjust. But hopefully, by the time we get to Kansas City we’ll be in good shape.”

What you look for besides numbers: “How the ball is
coming out of their hand, how they’re locating. Sometimes at the end of the
game, guys are facing the three kids that are going to go to
Lowell. So you just don’t know. A lefty comes
in and gets three lefties out, but they are three lefties that are 21 years old
and he’s never seen that kind of pitch before. You know if he throws that pitch
to Ortiz, he’ll hit it 400 feet. You try to determine the best you can. It’s
not very easy. Go back to ’04, Foulke couldn’t get an out in spring training.
We were semi-panicked. We go to Atlanta,
we just wanted him to get an out for his confidence and then the bell rang and
he was terrific. It’s very difficult.”

Could Hansen win the job? “You know, I don’t know, I really
don’t know. I don’t want to get him in a situation that’s going to hinder his
development. The only way that would happen was if we were convinced he could
take it and keep it. Again, we all view him as a guy that we can count on in
the bullpen for hopefully a lot of years. But he’d have to really pitch well
for that to happen. And I don’t doubt he can pitch well. I hope that happens. I
hope when we leave camp, we have a heck of a decision to make because he’s
throwing the ball so well. That would be great.”

 

More on Hansen: “I had a lot of people ask me this year
when he started struggling, OK, why did he struggle. The name Zumaya comes to
mind, ‘well, he didn’t struggle.’ Well, go back and look at their careers, look
at the minor league innings and see the difference. This kid needs to pitch a
little bit. and because of our situation. He got rushed and that’s not his
fault, that’s our fault.”

 

Talked to Manny at all? “Not recently, I think I talked
to him in early December. I think he’s talked to Pookie and the clubhouse kids
lately but I haven’t been part of that. I think he’s OK, I don’t think there’s
any problems.”

 

“Jason Varitek feels great. Feels great. Physically he
feels fantastic and he’s ready to go.”

 

What is Clement’s status? “He has not started a throwing
program yet. But I believe he is doing very well. There’s some thought to maybe
him starting his throwing program a little quicker because he’s doing better
than normal. Mike Reinhold has been to Pittsburgh a couple of times, Matt has been here a couple of times. And you’ll see him in
spring training along with the rest of the guys, but he’ll definitely be on his
own program.”

 

Jon Lester’s schedule: “Talked to Lester and texted him, Lester
is one of the best text guys I’ve ever seen. You text him and that thing’s back
to you in three seconds. And I told him, I had a conversation with him about a
month ago about being cautious and being slow and he didn’t want to hear any
part of it. But he is a smart enough kid to understand, we have his best
interests in mind. I’m not smart enough medically to know what that is. When we
get down there, I think we’ll sit with him, the doctors and the trainers and
try to put together a schedule with the trainers that we think is in his best
interest. We don’t want to hold him back. If he’s hard worker, which we know he
is, we don’t want to hold him back just for the sake of holding him back. But
we also don’t want to let him hurt himself because he is a good kid and a hard
worker. He’s had a traumatic winter. We
need to be smart in how we handle him and we will.”

 

More on Lester: “I just think he’s a baseball player and
I think he’s worked very hard to try to get back as quickly as he can, which is
not surprising. Again, players aren’t the best self evaluators, they’re not
supposed to be. That’s where we need to step in and just protect him a little
bit. How much we have to, we’ll see. It will be a lot easier when we get our
eyes on him and see how he looks.”

 

“He’s cancer free. The last thing, according to him, are
his legs bouncing back. They’re a little slower to bounce back than they have
been in the past. I think he’s about seven pounds away from being his normal
weight. He’s been a terrific communicator this winter about how he’s been doing
and everything, which I’ve greatly appreciated. He’s a very mature young man.
He’s going to handle this fine. I don’t want to let him go out there and hurt
himself, hurt his arm, just because we thought we needed a guy two weeks earlier.
That would be a very bad mistake on our part.”

optimistic:
“I think we have reason to be optimistic. Everybody is optimistic this time of
year. if you’re not, you’re … I mean, I’m 24 hours from getting on a plane and
that’s a great time of year for baseball people. We have a legitimate reason to
be optimistic. We have some things that should go right. and if they do, it
should be exciting.”

 

Is Wily Mo an option at first base? “I
don’t think so. We have Hinske. You know what, I shouldn’t say that. We might.
During spring training, we might do that, we’ll see. “

Will Wily Mo

get enoug hget at-bats? “There’s a pretty
good chance he’ll be our only extra outfielder. You count Hinske as our fifth
outfielder, Wily mo can pick up all the extra at-bats in center left and right.
Maybe in the last couple of years, we’ve had Gabe and somebody else. That will
end up probably being 400 at-bats. that’s enough for him to get in a groove and
help us and put up some numbers.”

 On the Helton trade that didn’t happen: “I wouldn’t
comment on that. Those were trade rumors that seemed to be coming more from
them than us. I made a couple of phone calls because of it to make sure players
understood what was going on. But that wouldn’t be very respectful on my part.”

Lowell a leader? “I hope so, if he has, that would be
good. He’s a leader type guy. I count on him a lot. He has a very good
understanding of this game. When I called him, the way he answered the phone was,
‘now hitting sixth for the

Rockies

’. He’s got
a good grasp of what’s going on, he’s been around the game long enough, he
knows. He’s easy to like. Nobody is trying to run him out of town.”

 A different Coco in ’07?
“He’s doing well. He’s fine. Coco had a
reputation of being a real good fastball hitter. We saw that in Spring Training.
And then the first five or six days of the season, we also saw that. And then
all of a sudden he got hurt and we didn’t see that. It’s easy to forget that
he’s a good player and a guy that’s getting better. He should be able to show a
lot different type of approach offensively this year because he’s healthy. He
was battling that finger and then he was battling his shoulder. He had no
ability to make any adjustments. When the ball changed plains or changed
speeds, he couldn’t do it. it was very tough for him. he was fouling back
fastballs over third base that he was normally running into and hitting with
some authority and wasn’t able to do it.”

 Confidence in Pedroia? “At some point, you have to be
willing to play young players. I have no problem letting this kid play. We have
Cora too, which I think helps a lot. We reward so many players for physical
ability and then sometimes when we’re sitting around, we question their mental
makeup. This kid, his physical attributes are sometimes in question by people
because he’s not a 6-foot-6, strapping big guy. But his mental attributes are
off the charts. There’s probably a lot of different ways people can help you
win. I think it will show up as people watch him play. “

“He found out last year how good major league defense is.
He came back twice a game shaking his head because the ball would leave his bat
and he thought he had hits and he didn’t. An outfielder would run it down or **** would go in the whole and throw him out. But he has a unique style of
hitting. He swings very hard. He almost swings uphill, but he can get the
barrel of the bat to the ball pretty consistently. He has the ability to give
us some offense. He swings hard, but he squares the ball up pretty consistently.”

Does Pedroia need to change his swing? “If you’d ask me
that as a pure scout, I’d say yes. After watching him and talking to him,
that’s the way he does it. For him to even get this far, he’s had to be
somewhat of a phenomenon. He’s a little guy that doesn’t run fast. He knows how
to play the game. His hand-eye coordination must be phenomenal. And he swings
hard, but he hits the ball and makes contact. He really doesn’t loft the ball. He
hits a lot of line drives.”

How will Matsuzaka be handled this spring? “We will treat
him like every other pitcher. Understanding that there have been some cultural
adjustments to make. What we try to do with every pitcher and every player is
we try to take spring training and get them ready to be successful during the
regular season. We’ll do the same thing with Daisuke. We’ll talk to him, though
it will be through a translator. But we’ll see what he needs, we’ll talk to him
about what we think, we’ll communicate. We’ll let him go show how good they can
be.”

Can Beckett improve? “He gave up a lot of long homers.
Everyone wanted him to throw more cutters. This kid was battling last year
trying to throw 200 innings and staying away from blisters and shoulder
problems. If he falls in love with a cutter or a two seamer, he’s liable to
come up sore. We’re trying to battle a fine line here. There’s going to be some
give and take and trial by error to what is right. The good news is that the
kid still won 16 games. There were some bumps in the road along the way. He
competes his rear end off. He loves to pitch. I think there’s better days ahead
for him, which bodes well for us.”

 

 

50 Comments

I think that Beckett can definitely pitch like the ace that he’s capable of being.

He just needs to face his demon – the fear of blisters. His curveball is one of the best in the league, but he fears that if he throws it too much his blisters will return. He can’t just keep on trying to sneak the No.1 past guys like A-Rod and expect not to give up 36 bombs.

Ramirez and Sanchez were two of our best prospects, and we gave them up to get Beckett – and THEN we signed the guy to a 3-year extension in the middle of the summer! I don’t want this deal to be remembered in infamy – it doesn’t have to be this way.

Lester is very intriguing to me. On one hand, if he’s totally healthy he’s without a question our best prospect (better than Buchholz or Ellsbury for sure). After Schill and Wake leave after 08, we’ll need Lester to help fill the rotation. He’s got tremendous stuff and has ace potential.

But the most immediate concern for the Sox is the closer situation. Apparently Taverez is pitching very well for the Dominican Republic, so we might not have to worry too much about the 7th inning. Donnolley and guys like Timlin can handle the set-up role, and hopefully Pineiro will be the closer that he was advertised to be. I just don’t wanna mess with Papelbon’s arm – he’s far too valuable to ruin because of a bullpen problem.

Matsuzaka will be our ace next year; I don’t think there’s a shred of doubt in my mind about that.

I might not have read all of the thread but did I miss the part about JD Drew?? What are his feelings about him??

I didn’t see anything about Drew. Maybe he’s not even on the team. All anyone says is, Hope he doesn’t get hurt.

Maybe they’re worried about jinxing the guy.

Not much to say about Drew at this point. he’s been dissected all winter long. Time to see him get out there and play!

Ian, thanks for posting all of this in a mostly uncensored fashion. The articles regarding these sessions always piece together quotes to form whatever they want to say. It’s much better and more revealing in context instead of piecemail soundbytes. Much appreciated.

One more week!

I second douglas’s sentiments. I realize that it’s not practical to put everything in an article in the paper or a piece on SportsCenter, so it’s nice once in a while to be able to read pretty much everything that a manager had to say. Besides, if you could print everything every manager and player said, you wouldn’t need sportswriters, just transcriptionists.

Thanks, Ian.

Tavarez’s problems are that he can’t handle pressure (see st louis playoffs: and redsox season until they were out of contention) therefore how he performs in the dominican league really has nothing to do with having to worry about the 7th inning or not.

If everyone really likes big, raw transcripts like that, I’d be happy to post them more often. I was just thinking that we as reporters are privileged to a lot of good background information that never makes print, and this is a good way to bring readers inside the game a little more.

Don’t get me wrong, I also appreciate your write-ups because you have good insights and can sometimes reveal some subtext that we aren’t aware of… But yeah, this is cool to see too. Fun stuff, Ian.

Ian, I also like the whole conversation right there to read, so, more please, whenever you can.
Vince, are you saying there is no pressure in the Dominican league? When I read that the Sox had gotten Tavarez, I thought,”Why?” We all saw what happened in 04, why would you go out and get him? But I supposed the reason was that he could help get the Sox to the playoffs and then take a break until the next spring. The baseball gods thought otherwise. Maybe he could get counseling like John Smoltz did and come back as a good pressure pitcher. He is a mystery, that Tavarez.

I like to mix it up on this blog and give you guys and gals whatever kind of insight you want or need. So please, if you have any other ideas to make this a better blog in 2007, do not hesitate to ask. The worst I can do is say no :)

Ian, I enjoy the full transcripts as well. I understand that, as a reporter, you don’t have room to include everything in your stories. Since this blog is informal, it seems like the ideal place to post full transcripts for the complete insights. Thanks for the details!

Vince, the Dominican league, and the Caribbean World Series, are both high pressure situations for the natives involved. I think you will see an improved Tavarez in 2007. He gained confidence last fall, and he has posted decent seasons before. He can do it again, though hopefully as a middle reliever and spot starter, and not a closer.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

I have no doubt to the natives there is high pressure, but one offseason tournament with no bearing on major league stats will not make a career choker a force. He fumbled in the 2004 ws, and yes, he had a great september after a terrible year with the sox last year, and here’s a surprise, it was when the redsox were 10 games out of first and the race was over. Tavarez cannot get it done under pressure so if you go with a 6 man rotation and he is the 6th starter, he may be effective, other than that he is nothing more than a 6th inning, or 13th inning reliever to me. Behind donnelly, the japanese guy, timlin, and maybe even pineiro.

Sort of off topic, (but not really,) Bronson Arroyo signed an extension today, so any hopes he’d somehow make his way back to Boston are pretty much shot. Wily Mo! You’d better be as good as we all think you can be!

He most likely will be. I feel like WMP is a slightly overlooked feature of this hopefully very good 07 team. I think he will develope quickly and continue to do what he showed he could do at times last year.

Go Sox

Thanks, Ian, for giving us so much of the “inside scoop” on all things Red Sox. We are so anxious out here on the West Coast for the season to get underway! I agree with rrossi about WMP now that Arroyo has signed a good extension with the Reds. Good for Bronson, he deserves it. Wily Mo better “bring it” and show us what he’s got this season. He played miserably this winter when he played in the Dominican league. I still have my doubts about him. Hopefully he will make us believers! LET’S GO, RED SOX, LET’S GO!!!

Ian thanks for the transcription of the Tito interview, I hope he doesn’t mind being called by his Dad’s name. :-)

Side note, saw an article by Dan Perry on another site, he was reviewing the things that needed to be improved from last year for the RedSox to ‘get the bang for their freeagent buck’. He mentioned the defense. Wait no he mentioned the ‘The troublesome defense,’. I was a little shocked that anyone would call the defense that set the record for games without an error as ‘troublesome,’ the defense that set the team fielding percentage record as ‘troublesome’. Lets just say I didn’t think much of the rest of his article after that stupidity. I would have sent him a personalized ‘Car Talk Dope Slap’ email but the site doesn’t let you email their reporters. Question, am I allowed to post a link to the article here?

Vince, you write as if Julian Tavarez has never had a good season. Look at his year-by-year stats and you will see he has had several effective seasons. True, he struggled in the 2004 World Series, and he was atrocious as a middle reliever last season, but there is no reason to believe he won’t be effective this season. He will be in a middle relief role, not the main set-up man or closer. And he will spot start as well. If the Sox use a six-man rotation at times this season, it will be Wakefield and Lester and No. 5 and No. 6, not Tavarez, unless someone is injured.

Regarding Wily Mo Pena, I know that we missed Arroyo last season when the rash of pitching injuries occurred, but long term (even right now), Wily Mo is more valuable to the Sox than Arroyo. If given 500-plus at-bats, Pena will likely hit 30 homres and knock in 100. He has the ability to hit around the .300 mark as well. I am glad Wily Mo is here, and Arroyo is in Cincinnati. We have a deep rotation and a decent bullpen. Wily Mo has the potential to become an all-star caliber outfielder. Maybe he will play left once Manny moves on after 2008.

I agree that the Sox defense is definitely not troublesome. Manny is mediocre in left. Lugo is average at shortstop. Otherwise, the remaining position players are solid. Of course, Pena is a work in progress defensively in right, but he is adequate in center.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

I never said he never had a good season, I said when the pressure’s on, he never rises to the occasion. I did previously say he could be a decent 6th inning pitcher or mop up role/extra inning guy and spot starter.

How do you possibly get offended when somebody wonders about the sox defense by citing last year’s defense as a reason to justify their team this year?

Loretta is gone and you have a rookie there now, nearly guaranteed to do worse defensively, lugo is a supreme defensive downgrade from agon, who was arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball and then you have lowell and youk who were solid to begin with, so there is no upgrade. Manny is what you make of him, crisp did not change, drew and nixon will prob be around the same since nixon was aquainted with the sox difficult right field but drew is naturally the better fielder….That to me is a downgrade, you lost a gold glove middle infield, why wouldn’t that be a concern? Anytime you upgrade for offense something like that is going to happen, I don’t think it will damper the sox, but they are not the same legendary defensive infield they were last year.

our “legendary” defense didnt get us anywhere last year. yes we are guarunteed to do worse then last year as far as errors go, but for a sox team its not too bad. hopefully we will make up for it with far less hits and more k’s. The offense will cover the rest and then some. Is Lugo really that bad, I keep hearing things about his “d” but ive also read he’s actaully better then average. Either way he will make up for it in offense as a big upgrade from alex. I’m not too worried…let the games begin, lets kick the elderly yankee’s butts. The Blue Jays look pretty good too, let us ALL not forget them.

I was strictly talking defense when I talked about the infield, I think the sox are better than they were last year. Elderly yankees? You’re joking right? Were you there for the offseason?

The bluejays couldn’t get within single digits of first place last year, they became worse this year, the sox got better, and the yankees also improved, there is no way the jays overtake first.

Sorry but a) He was talking about last year’s stats when he called the defense troublesome, b) their defense is what kept them in the race for so long. When they were setting the record for games without an error is when they were plowing through the NL East and moving away from the ‘Yacks’, then the injuries started to mount to the pitching staff which caused the downfall. The Defense was the best and most consistent part of the team last year.

Umm, well actually, playing the NL is what got you past those “yacks” even after interleague you were only 6 games over 500 vs the AL, so it wasn’t the starting pitching injuries but more injuries to 300 rbi of the yankees offense that had you guys out in front.

Yes, the defense was in fact the best and most consistant part of the team last year.

A link to the article would be sweet too.

Where can I pick up a bottle of the Julian Tavarez Hatorade? I heard its a top seller

Kansas city and Tampa never, boston, NY, atlanta, typically around october.

I dont think the jays are worse, they have a full year of halliday and burnette, not to mention the big hurt.

Vince, interleague play is part of the schedule. If the Sox lost a bulk of their interleague games, you would bring that up. They win all the interleague games, and you criticize that. The Sox did sweep the Mets, one of baseball’s best teams last year. And they swept the Braves on the road, no easy task, even when the Braves were mediocre as they were in 2006. The key to a good team is winning the games you should win, which the Sox did in interleague play, but didn’t against the lesser teams of the AL.

As far as defense is concerned, like I said, the only mediocre defensive players on the 2007 Sox are Manny in left and Lugo at short. The remaining position players are solid defensively. Defense will not be an issue. The Sox only true question mark in who will close, and will that person be effective. I’m not concerned about Pedroia or the rest of the bullpen. They’ll be fine. And if Drew gets injured, we have Wily Mo, who I think can become one of the better power hitters in the game. The Sox are deep and talented all around this season. Theo and John Henry did an impressive job. We have the horses, now it’s time for them to do what’s necessary to win the race.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

Seems to me the more accurate statement is “The only real question mark is the sox closer, if you believe all the other question marks will work themselves out” which, you seem to believe.

Yes, interleague is part of the schedule, but I said it last year and I’ll say it again this year, it is a less important part. It is less than 20 games and you do not play them the final 2-3 months of the regular season. As soon as the sox went on a rampage against the NL last year I brought it up and was grilled about how they were mediocre against the AL and it would come back to bite them and then they ended up under .500 against AL teams.

So yes, all games on a 162 game schedule can potentially be important, but interleague is not nearly as important a measure of how good your team is compared to how you perform against your own league. The Yankees were what, 10-8 against the NL last year? They ended up with a playoff birth and the best record in baseball (with the Mets), so interleague really just does not prove very much.

yankeevmm – isn’t it a bit of a sweeping generalization to say Tavarez cracks under pressure?

So the two examples you give were the regular season when it counted with the Red Sox and the 2004 world series. The first one is a cop out because if a team is a contender in the first few months of the season, then Tavarez has been good plenty of times in the early part of the season. In 2004, when he was with the Cardinals (contenders right the way through), he had a 2.38 ERA.

The other one you mention is the World Series – this is not the only clutch situations during these playoffs. For example, the NLCS in 2004. In Game 6, with the game tied and in extra innings, he pitched 2 scoreless innings in the 11th and 12th inning, picking up the win, and saving his team from elimination. In Game 7, with his team 4-2 up, he pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning in the eighth. Given this, you might be able to say that if he wasn’t so clutch in the NLCS, his team wouldn’t have gotten to the World Series.

In fact, even calling him a choker based on the World Series is a bit harsh. Yes he gave up the home run to Bellhorn (who was hitting a ridiculously hot streak). This was the one hit (that just stayed fair) that he gave up in his two innings pitched during the World Series. Yes he shouldn’t have given up the homerun but to call choker because of this is a bit harsh

Finally, in the nlds, he pitched 2 and 2/3 scoreless innings.

I am by no means saying Tavarez is clutch – I just do not think that he is a “career choker” like you think.

Comparatively it’s funny when sox fans, lifelong haters of Bill Buckner for being a “choker” bring up this argument. it is not a cop out, tavarez in 06 was consistantly unclutch throughout the season with the games on the line, so much so that this very blog was including him with seanez as the “EZ brothers”.

If you’re going to include his playoff numbers, don’t pick and choose situations.

Since 1997 with the giants in the DS he has given up 4 er in 7.2 innings on 8 hits.

CS: 4 er in 9.1 innings on 8 hits.

and in the WS: he was brilliant in the 95 ws (12 years ago for the indians) but had a 4.50 era for the cards in 04.

The totals in the playoffs: 1997 with the giants: 4.50 era

2004 with the cards: 2.61 era, but he also lost two games in the postseason and gave up 3 hrs.

2005: even worse, 7.71 era (4 er in 4.2 innings). He has given up 6 hrs in 30 innings.

and with the redsox he had a poor regular season in relief. My exact sentiments were that he would make a good 6th inning reliever and nothing more critical than that.

Ah I see I should not pick and choose situations when a) that is exactly what you did in your response and b) bringing up statistics is the only way to disprove your sweeping “career choker” statement. Would you prefer me not to use stats and make braod sweeping statements like yours?

Also, not all Red Sox fans are Buckner haters. By all accounts he was an excellent player and should never have had his career defined by one moment. I think a lot of Red Sox fans can appreciate that.

Overall, Tavarez has been an effective reliever in his career. I think he will regain his form this season. As for Buckner, it is unfair to call him a choker. The guy’s back was so injured that he could not bend over. And even if he could bend over, Mookie Wilson would have beaten the throw. If you want to lay blame, John McNamara is more appropriate. He could have played Dave Stapleton as a defensive replacement in the ninth. If you consider his numbers and longevity, Buckner belongs in the Hall of Fame. Sure, it was frustrating and heartbreaking to lose when you are one strike away from winning the World Series, but it is definitely wrong to define Buckner’s career by that one play.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

The only numbers I excluded were his 1995 numbers with the Indians 12 years ago. It would be like saying Jaret Wright is a dominant CS pitcher because of what he did for the tribe in 97 as a rookie.

In fact, I then later included the fact he was dominant in ’95 with his overall career performances. So, what, exactly am I leaving out? Or is that a generalization of my so called “generalizations”?

Yes, glad to see 21 years later sox fans are able to admit Buckner was not a “choker”, I guess him moving to the middle of nowhere in the midwest and vowing never to return to boston was a product of sox fans never accusing him of anything for the past two decades. It is easy to forgive something that happened so long ago.

Right, put it this way – given Tavarez was extrmely clutch in the entire 95 World Series – 3 2/3 scoreless innings – and given that he cam through in two of the most clutch situations you can imagine (Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS in 04, where he saved his team from elimination), do you still feel he is a “career choker”?

Would it comfort you if I felt that I think he is a choker in recent memory and I think his natural rise in era from NL to AL is not an adjustment but just a fact of life? And that I value what he did in the last three playoff series and all of last season as a reliever more than that he did for two games two years ago cancelled out by two other ones and what he also did more than a decade ago? Cause I can agree to that.

Benson needs surgery, I am not sure when the Orioles will ever become good again. Maybe Brady Anderson needs to roid up for 50 hrs again.

Ah yes that would comfort me a lot because it is what I was getting at. If he is a choker in recent memory, that does not make him a career choker, given he has been around for fiteen years. That was my point. Looks like we’re in agreement anyway.

I know we are supposed to give Drew a chance and all that, but why does he get $14mm a year gainst Catalanotto who gets around 10mm less a year but has a higher career hitting percentage in a tougher league? And who has far less risk of injury?

Vince, I know that you are passionate about baseball – and as a Yankees fan you don’t care for the Red Sox – but you were, born in 1986, weren’t you? Many people on this blog were old enough to remember Buckner’s play. I, for one, was 18. And as a die-hard Sox fan, I admit that I was upset with Buckner, but I didn’t hold a grudge. Most Sox fans didn’t. Buckner’s miscue was perpetuated by the media – in Boston and nationwide. It was the media that magnified his error, not the fans. You may not know, but when Buckner returned to the Sox in 1990, he was greeted with a standing ovation at Fenway Park. Just as Grady Little’s decision impacted Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, John McNamara’s decision to keep Buckner in the game when he couldn’t bend over impacted what happened in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Calvin Schiraldi allowing three consecutive singles and Bob Stanley throwing a wild pitch also contributed to the Mets’ comeback. And, remember, that was Game 6. The Sox were ahead again in Game 7 and lost. The way the Sox lost in 1986 was heartbreaking, but few fans remained angry with Buckner even a year or two later. If anyone is to blame for keeping the error alive, it is the media.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

Jeff – I fully agree. One correction though from an earlier post, so far as I know the Sox were not one out away from winning the WS when that happened. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that it was a tie game and the game would have gone to the bottom of the inning.

I think the Sox had two outs before the Mets rallied with three singles and a wild pitch before Wilson hit the ground ball under Buckner’s legs. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

I see what you mean, I thought you meant just in relation to Bucknor’s error. Yes you’re right, they were only an out away. Was it a tie game when Bucknor’s error happened?

Yeah, after the three singles and the wild pitch, it was a tie game with Ray Knight on second. So, if Buckner cleanly fielded the ball, likely Wilson would have beaten Stanley to the bag, so there would have been runners on first and third with two out.

Just for clarification there were 2 outs and at one point two strikes, followed by three singles and a wild pitch to tie the game, and then the buckner error.

I’m going based on what Buckner said himself, he obviously had some sort of anger towards the area of boston and I find it hard to believe it was a result of temporary frustration from Redsox Nation as a whole.

Vince, I think that Buckner is bitter over the fans who blamed him for the loss, but he is most bitter over the media’s treatmentof the story. I read one story where he is still disgusted to this day about the reporter who called and asked if he had contemplated suicide. This was not long after Donnie Moore committed suicide. Moore was the California Angels closer who surrendered Dave Henderson’s game-winning home run that saved the Sox from elimination in the 86 ALCS and helped them battle back from a 2-0 deficit.

Jeff

http://www.bosoxbanter.mlblogs.com

We wouldn’t have gotten to the World Series in the first place if Buckner wasn’t on that team. He had like 26 homers and 100 rbi’s. He had bad legs. Well all knew he was a defensive liability in late innings. It was the manager’s fault for leaving him in.

ok, more like 18 homers. But he still helped carry them to the postseason.

I said this before and I’ll say it again. JOHN MACNAMARA was the reason we lost to the Mets not Buckner. Dave Stapleton should have been put in that inning…game over…RED SOX WIN! All of the nation is far past the pain and know clearly that Buckner is and was one of the greatest, classiest guys to ever don the uniform. It was natural for the fans of Boston to feel snake bit but it wasn’t long at all before they realized they never would have gotten the chance if Billy Buck wasn’t on the team!

Lars

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