The latest Hall Call

Roberto Alomar, the best all-around second baseman I’ve ever seen, is now in the Hall of Fame, and rightfully so. Bert Blyleven is also a worthy selection and probably long overdue.

The one omission that puzzles me is Jack Morris. I know his ERA (3.90) is never going to wow anyone. But talk about a guy you wanted on the mound in a big spot. Throughout his career, he gobbled up innings and won big games for his team. Morris was a key member of the dominant 1984 Tigers. In fact, between 1979-88, he averaged 17 wins for a team that was in the thick of the race in many of those years.

Then he moved on to the Twins in 1991, and not only won 18 games in his first year there, but turned in one of the most memorable performances in World Series history — that 1-0, 10-inning gem that beat John Smoltz and the Atlanta Braves in Game 7.

The next year? It was on to Toronto, where Morris equaled a career-high with 21 wins. Again, his team won the World Series. That gave Morris three rings for his career. He would get a fourth by the next year, despite being in personal decline at that point.

For the majority of his career, he was a front-line pitcher and finished with 254 wins. I think that there is such a thing as “clutch pitching”, and pitchers like Morris, John Smoltz and Curt Schilling to name three — defined it. Morris received 311 votes for a percentage of 53.5 votes. he finished fourth in the balloting, trailing the two Hall of Famers and Barry Larkin.

We’ve seen other players have their totals spike up and get in after results like that. This was year No. 11 on the ballot for Morris, so he still has four more chances.  

41 Comments

The year Jack Morris won 21 games with Toronto his ERA was 4.04. It was when Morris uttered his famous “wins are the best barometer of a pitcher, not ERA.” I’d say that too if I had a high ERA. Morris played on a lot of good teams in his career, which greatly aided his win total. In the past two seasons, we’ve seen writers give the Cy Young Award to Felix Hernandez and Zach Greinke because they had low ERAs, despite winning few games. I’d say that doesn’t bode well for Morris to make the HOF.

I think Jack Morris is one of the most underrated players on the HOF ballot nowadays (he was not underrated by his opponents!). His higher ERA is a product, I think, of the fact that he was a complete-game machine– he finished what he started, runs surrendered or not. Not unlike Halladay now– he finishes what he starts about half the time, and sometimes he gives up a few runs in the process. Oh, well– he still gets the CG, and usually gets the win. Morris was not unlike that– he would give up some runs, but you knew he was going to give you a very good chance to win the game. And he was clutch in the post-season. Morris should be in the HOF, IMHO.

Looks like Beltre’s signing with the Rangers is official– 6 years, about $96 mil, if I read that right. Good for him– I thought he’d get paid pretty well. Looks like Michael Young will DH to make room for Beltre at 3B. We’ll see him again on Opening Day!
Garry, I’m with you– no slight on Blyleven, who was deserving in his own right, but between Blyleven and Morris, I’m choosing Morris EVERY TIME. He is indeed a winner!

I agree with you Ian. I think a very good case can be made for Jack Morris. His high ERA is somewhat of mystery to me. I just did a pretty comprehensive comparison of his stats to Blyleven’s and they are very similar except that Blyleven struck out more hitters. Of course, Morris pitched in Tiger stadium with that short right field for many years. Given the choice of Blyleven or Morris on the mound for a must win game, (and I watched them both pitch a lot), I’m going with Morris every time. He’s a winner…….period! However, Blyleven is the more memorable of the two to me because he had possibly the best curve ball in the history of the game.

Interesting that the Red Sox picked up Max Ramirez on waivers from Texas– the same player we were going to get if we had completed that Lowell trade to Texas! Go figure– Theo got his man! We must be having some serious catchers tryouts… GO SOX!!

Hey Ian!

I know that its been awhile since I signed on to this column, but the prior comment raises a question in my mind. The Sox now have 3 big league catchers going to Spring Training to compete, in addition to whoever they invite from their minor league system. Theo did offer VMart $42.5 Mil. to remain with the club. Had VMart said yes, do you think the Sox would have not pulled the trigger on either the Gonzalez or Crawford deals? I’d have the same question with Beltre. If he had accepted the club option, would the Sox not gone after one of their “big fish?”

Also, to my buddy in Tampa Bay, How ‘Bout Dem Bucks finally beating an SEC team. Say what you want about squandered Razorback opportunities, at the end of the game the defense intercepted a Mallett pass to preserve the Buckeye victory!!!!!

I still think Lee Smith should get more consideration than he gets for the HOF…….Go Sox!

Craig, I agree. Lee Smith should get more consideration than he does. I dunno…
Looks like Matt Garza is going to be on his way to the Cubs for– get this– 5 prospects! I guess the Rays are looking to reload! Hmmm…
GO SOX!

Greg,
Can you imagine Matt Garza and Carlos Zambrano on the same team? There won’t be enough room in the Cubs dugout for all the anger management therapists!!!!! He may be a good pick up but the issues keep on keepin’ on in that Cubs dugout. Good thing Pinella left!!!!!!! Well, there shouldn’t be lack of entertainment in Chicago this year!!!! Go Sox….

Hey, if nothing else, Craig, we can get Beam Me Up Scotty to “referee” the brawls between Garza and The Big Z! ;) I was hearing that perhaps Zambrano might be getting traded. Perhaps that won’t happen now, if the Cubs are looking to stock pitchers, instead of unload them. We’ll see! GO SOX!

I was just listening to an interview of Bert Blyleven (who had more than a share of CGs himself), where he was talking about pitchers now compared to his day, and the mythology of needing a pitch count: “Pitch count? Where’d that idea come from? We didn’t have one.” (And he pitched how many years?) Refreshing to hear someone else say it! Way to go, Bert!
GO SOX!

I am willing to bet no pitcher today likes the pitch count garbage…….they are victims of circumstances and the times they live in….Go Sox!!!

If a pitcher doesn’t have it, 30 pitches are too many and 110 pitches aren’t too many otherwise. IMO the key is the communication betwen the pitcher and the pitching coach and the manager to see if the pitcher stays or be yanked.

Hi greg, Hi Craig, Hi Andy!
HI DBenj!!

Hi all! I saw the interview of Burt Blyleven on MLBTV the other day. Laughed my butt off when he said “I’m waiting for the day when I see the 1st pitcher to actually blow up when he throws pitch #101″!!! Funny.
Beautiful here in Fort Lauderdale today. Might lay out in the sun!!! How is it where you are??

Hi Trixie!!!!!
In Vegas the mornings have been cold but the afternoons aren’t bad…..I think you are due to give Trixie’s official “days till P&C report to ST” As far as pitch counts…..Nolan Ryan went 12 innings against the Royals in 1974 and threw 259 pitches. We all know how that shortened his career!!! BTW…Luis Tiant has the record for most pitches thrown in a post season game. He threw 163 pitches against the Reds in game 4 of the 1975 series in a complete game victory. Heck…in 1963 Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal both went CG 16 innings against each other. Marichal threw 227 pitches! Willie Mays ended it on a homerun. And guess what………none of these pitchers missed their next start!!!!!!!!! And I can’t remember these guys being hurt that often…or they just pitched through the nagging injuries. Garry…time for you to weigh in with your thoughts!!!!! You’ve been there/done that! Go Sox…..

Hi Ellen:
In New York is sunny and 30 degree F. Too cold for sunny Fort Lauderdale.
Dallas Green’s grand daughter was killed in the Ariz shooting. The poor girl was born in 9/11/2001, a day of mourning for the nation and her life ended in tragedy. My heart goes to the Green family. May little Christina rest in peace and happiness in heaven!

Well, sorry, Arnie, but there will not be a Boston- Philly matchup this year in the Super Bowl — Philly just got upended in the Wild Card round by Green Bay! ;) Maybe next year!
Ellen, great to hear from ya! We’re doing well here, and getting more snow! This will be our third significant snow this year– we got 8″ on Christmas Day! ;) Paradise for me, but not anyone else! (Just put all snow on my front lawn, guys, back up the truck!…) ;) Good thing that snow came over the holidays, otherwise we’d have a lot of snow days to make up! ;)
Wow, Andy, that is incredible to hear about Dallas Green’s granddaughter! Prayers to Christina’s family!
I hope you’re doing well, Ellen! Is your back doing any better? Gonna be ready for Opening Day? ;) Pulling for ya! GO SOX!

Greg, I was predicting a Eagles/ Pats Super Bowl but not hoping for it. I dislike the Eagles so I am glad they got knocked out of the playoffs.
It’s unspeakably sad about Dallas Green’s granddaughter. What a tragedy.
Greg, we have a nice snow storm going now, with a predicted low of 9 degrees. You’d love it.

Arnie, I think a Pats- Eagles matchup would have been fun, but I didn’t think the Eagles would get past the Packers. GO PATRIOTS! GO SOX!

Hey! EllenC!

Nice to receive your greeting. Sorry to read others’ comments that you are having some physical/medical problems. I hope you put those in your rear view mirror right quick!!

Was in Florida for a week in Mid-December. I have been asked to prepare the history of the golf club I belong to in Cleveland, which has played host to a long and distinguished list of golf tournaments. Spent part of the week running around in the North (World Golf HoF and St. Augustine), as well as the PGA History Library in Port St. Lucie, spent part of the week visiting my sister and bro-in-law and playing golf in the Villages, and part of the week having a pre-Christmas celebration in your neck of the woods, in Boca Raton with my Mom (aged 85) and my step-Dad (aged 93), both of whom are remarkable. Hope to get back for another week in early March during Spring Break.

I still can’t get over that Theo was able to acquire Gonzo without having to give up Clayboy. I figured he was a goner for sure if the Sox were to get serious about Gonzo. I was sorry to see Casey Kelly go, but given the alternative, I’m not that upset. I only hope that everyone is right, that a long term deal is in the freezer for Gonzo, and will be brought out at the right time to minimize the cap-effect for this year, all signed, sealed and delivered.

With the way I understand the deal has been structured, Gonzo will make less money this year than Beltre (the guy he is effectively replacing) made last year, they will replace VMart and his salary with Salty, who is basically at salary minimum, and then next year, the Sox will have Drew, Cameron, Dice-K, Scutaro and Big Papi money off the books (as well as perhaps Paps money), meaning that the salary to eventually be paid Gonzo should be absorbed into the current Sox budget at its current level.

Now I know things aren’t quite this rosy — the salaries being paid to Youk, Pedey and JonL keep contractually increasing, Jacoby will get an arbitration-induced salary increase for this year, and, if he stays around, will eventually look for “Borass big money.” If we are seeing the real Clayboy, his salary is going to jump pretty high, pretty fast, and I suspect the Sox will look to bring back some of the currently highly paid players at the end of the year (I wouldn’t mind JD @ $10 Mil. per, or Big Papi @ $7.5 Mil. per) or they will need to be replaced, and we have seen what some of their replacements might cost (Adam Dunn @ $15 Mil. per, Adam LaRoche @ $8 Mil. per, I doubt, if Nick Swisher hits the open market at the end of 2011, he would accept less than the $10.25 Mil. he is optioned for in 2012), but still and all, I think kudos need to go to Theo for the way he manages the budget.

I would expect the Sox to replace JD from within the organization, which means a minimum salary to start with. If Tazawa bounces back from surgery well, and Pimental is the real deal, they could be added to the staff in 2012 @ salary minimum, and I expect the Sox will manage both the catcher and ss positions at lower salary ramifications. Different than Yankee thinking, the Sox, particularly last Summer, have demonstrated that they don’t need All-Stars at every position in order to succeed.

If Stolmy Pimental lives up to all of his hype this year in Double or Triple A and/or Tazawa bounces back from surgery, it will make trading Casey Kelly that much less significant.

I don’t expect to suffer the distractions next year that I faced in 2010, so hopefully, you all will be hearing more from me. Is that the Good News or the Bad News (lol)?

D. Benjamin…

I read your comment about Ohio State, finally..finally beating an SEC team in the bowl. It’s about freaking time! Did you notice how the Big 10 ( or should I say little 10 did on Jan. 1?) Ohio State and Va. Tech had the easiest path to a BCS Bowl. Ohio State played nobody this past season, same with Va. Tech. Only team Ohio State played that was worth anything was Wisconsin, and we all know how that worked out for them? Remember back in Sept. when Ohio State beat Miami and all the Ohio State fans were all “horny” over that win? The Hurricanes proved to be worthless, the Canes lost at Virginia ( I could get 11 guys to beat Va. ) and Miami lost at home to South Florida and got blown out by Notre Dame in El Palso. Once again, Nuff said. If Ohio State was in the SEC, they would have lost to Alabama, Auburn, and LSU. Alabama made mince meat out of Michigan State and the Spartans tied for first with two other teams in the Big 10. Once again, nuff said. I’m not even a fan of any of the teams in the SEC but that is clearly the best conference in the nation. In recent years, three different teams have won the National Championship from the SEC and tonight Auburn could make it four different teams. A side note here, I’m pulling for Oregon, the head coach is from Manchester, NH…I will always pull for the New England guy. I believe the difference is the “speed” the SEC has at linebacker and the speed they have on the outside on the DL. The ends on the DL can fly, like the linebackers. The skill positions, every conference has speed at RB, WR, and CB.

I’m guessing this will be Drew’s final year with the Red Sox. I believe we will see Kalish in r.f. to start the season in 2012 and beyond. I’m guessing we’ll see Kalish start this season at Pawtucket and we’ll see him in action with the Red Sox sometime this season. He will not develop as a player watching big league games in 2011. I believe the only way Kalish starts the year with the big club is an injury to Drew or Ellsbury or (gulp) Crawford.

I’ve been a big fan of C.C. One thing people will notice about Crawford, he bust his tail every single game, he plays hard all the time. He is a very quiet competitor! Crawford can impact the game without even having a hit, he’s that good. I assume the happiest guys that Crawford signed with the Red Sox are Wakefield and Varitek, also Salty as well. lol. The best thing about having Crawford in left, he already knows how to play the monster. No learning on the job with the 37 foot wall.

It should be a fun season. Once again, Boston has a chance to win 95+ games and that is all we can ask for. I’m expecting Beckett to bounce back this year, and Lackey’s walk total should go down in 2011. My confidence in Lackey is low, about the same level I have in Dice-K. Boston has spent roughly 190 million on Lackey and Dice-K. Ouch!

The winner of GB at Atl. will win the NFC. Pats win by 10 over the Jets. Ravens at Steelers, what a game that will be. Maybe O.T. in Pitts. on Saturday.

I do have to agree, Morris would have been a guy you’d want in that big pressure situation…. but many would say the same of Burt B. and it took him till his final year to make it to The Hall. Should you worry, maybe….
But consider this: The Ballot will be filling up with the ‘elite’ of the steroid era ‘superstars’ (What the WWE calls their rather large athletes) such as Bonds and Clemens who should fare about as well as Big Mac, Palmeiro, etc… Even Jeff Bagwell, never directly implicated in a PED story, will be cast under the shadow of every Steroids Era ‘bigman’. This should (hopefully) make way for players such as Morris, Larkin and other deserving and deemed ‘clean’ All-Stars to pick up some needed votes.

Hey! BosoxBrian!

Good to hear from you again. For a guy who professes not to have much “rooting” interest in college football, you sure do work over the Ordinary 10, err 11, err 12 (lol).

I hope you are right about the Sox for the coming year. I’ve got to believe that the Yanks will get Pettitte to come back for one more year, ‘cuz if they don’t, they have an enormous rotation hole to fill. You should see my Yanks-loving son-in-law react to the prospect of the Yanks re-acquiring Carl Pavano. About the way most Sox fans would react to the prospect of the Sox re-acquiring Zazu (lol).

What about Dice-K? Do you think the Sox could trade him to the Phils for Joe Blanton? Do you think they would, or should?

Great having a chance to joust with you again.

Greg,
To answer your question on a previous blog, yes, we’ll be in Arlington for opening night against the Rangers. FYI, ticket prices are absolutely off the charts compared to last year. Figures, since the Rangers did so well. Guess Nolan wants to recoup a few bucks. We’re in section 18, row 4, seats 1,2,3. $225 a seat. Can you believe that? I paid 90.00 a piece last year and even that is pushing it! It really is a beautiful venue for baseball, though there’s no comparison to the atmosphere at Fenway. I can’t justify season tickets because we don’t have that kind of time / $ to play with in the summer, since we travel with my son’s team so much. We have bleacher seats for the 2nd and 3rd games, out behind center field. Those are fun seats to sit in when the weather’s not blistering hot and humid. April is a good time of year to catch a ballgame in Arlington. We’re looking forward to seeing Beltre play the corner again….Should be a great opening series!

Jim, color me jealous! That would be a blast to go to Arlington! HAVE FUN!
MAYBE I’ll be able to get a ticket to see them play the White Sox at the end of July (at US Cellular, or whatever they call that stadium now…)– I will be in the area at that time!
DBen, by the way, I agree with Brian– the SEC, as a whole, is the best conf. in college football. And no, I am not an alum of any of the conf. teams– my school doesn’t even have a football team! The conf. we’d be part of in football, the Big East, is a sham of an AQ conf.! :/ But, like Brian, I LOVE college football!
GO SOX!

D. Benjamin…

I don’t have a “team” that I root for, nor is their a “team” out there that I root against. I think I’ve been consistent on here when it comes to talking about college football. I love watching the college game, I think the bowl system sucks and they need a playoff but most if not all agree with that opinion. I believe the SEC ( Will I ever sway your opinion on that??? ) is heads and shoulders above the other conferences. The top tier teams anyway, that has been proven for the last handful of seasons or so. I guess you could say, I call it the way I see it.

Same with the Red Sox, I don’t get blinded by them. I felt a year ago they were the third best team in the division, injuries or no injuries. Last time I checked, Papelbon was healthy last year and blew several games. He had the worst year of his career. So when people talk about the injuries with the 2010 Red Sox, they have a point but they are clearly not seeing the bigger picture. Outside of Bard, the bullpen was a total mess! Not to mention Lackey and his lackluster year. Dice-K was up and down, mostly down. When Beckett was healthy, he showed little. Francona ( your birthday pal ) showed everyone last year ( some of us already knew it ) that he isn’t the problem when it comes to the Red Sox. Francona will always make some “eye brow” raising moves but what manager doesn’t?

What’s the difference between Blanton and Dice-K? I don’t see much if any difference, so I am against that trade. I can live with Dice-K as the 5th starter, safe to say, Theo and the baseball ops. dept. misread him! Dice-K is what he is, he’ll give you some solid starts and some not so solid starts. That translates into a 5th starter. When he blamed Victor Martinez for his awful outing in NY against the Yankees, the respect I had for him was lost that night. Be accountable and responsible. Dennis Eckersley gave up Gibson’s HR in the 1988 World Series and he stood by his locker and answered everyone’s questions.

It’s always fun to joust! Always.

‘Morning to all. I was just looking at MLBTraderumors.com
and saw a note about the Rays possibly looking at Johnny Damon.
I was thinking about how it must feel to have been one of the really big names,having boatloads of money thrown at you just a few short years ago, to being a guy who has hardly had his name mentioned this off season. That’s got to be a real gut check as well as a reality check. But I think that greed and his ego brought it all on. He has been quoted as saying he has an interest in playing for several different teams. That seems just like a not so very attractive junior high school girl trying to get invited to the cool girls party.
He went from being a big fish in Bostons smaller pond to a teeny weeny tiny fish in that huge fishbowl called Yankee Stadium. Now it seems that since he was tossed out of that fishbowl that he is laying next to it flapping around waiting for anyone to put him back in the water so he doesn’t die.
I kind of feel sorry for him. Just kind of, but not much.

Don’t shed any tears for Johnny. In his mind he will always be one of the greatest, so he’ll be happy no matter what.

I have fond memories of Johnny D from 2004 when he really was a HUGE part of the WS team. Also, I remember that strange play in Yankee stadium when he was chasing a ball hit by Youk, I think, and he crashed into the wall, but the ball rolled on top of the wall and finally fell to the field. An awesome play.

I think a while from now when Damon looks back on his career he will find that his days in Boston during the “idiot” era were his fondest. I know I will remember those years. That was a fun team to watch and that team was having fun….no worries…be happy. This year’s team I think will be an intense team. Go Sox!!!!

Craig, I think you are right about Damon. That “Idiots” 04 team was a fun bunch to watch!
It looks like Rafael Soriano will remain in the AL East– he apparently has agreed to be the setup guy for Mariano for 3 years, reportedly $35 mil. Another former Ray that doesn’t seem to mind hanging around in the AL East!
GO SOX!

I went to a baseball clinic in Mes,AZ today. The event was sponsored by the local Christian Church. My grandson, along with several hundred Little Leaguers, both boys and girls, attended. One of the Major League ballplayers was Adrian Gonzolez. The crowd was broken into about 8 groups with each player taking about a half hour talking about his expertise. Gonzolez gave them a few tips on hitting. After the clinic and speeches by the players, which included the role God played in their lives, they graciously gave out autographs.
Clearly, as the press idicated with Gonzolez’s signing, he seems to be a very religious person and hopefully his demeanor will rub off on some of the Sox players during the season. Surpisingly, he did not seem to be a very big person that I would have expected of a first baseman and a power hitter. It is good to see Major Leaguers give back something to their fans. I am sure that the adults, as well as the children, appreciated their time. PS- I have already indoctrinated my granchildren to be Bosox fans. We could use all of the help that we can get.

Thats great Phil!! I bet it was fun for the kids and you too.

I’m sure that your grandkids will be the kind of RedSox fans their grandpa can be proud of!!

Jack Morris doesn’t have the numbers, in ANY sense, to be in the HOF. Blyleven beat Morris in their few playoff appearances as well, if you want to talk about “clutch” pitching. And seriously, other than wins, Morris has almost no statistical argument for being in the HOF.

What I’m more surprised by is that you make a case for a pitcher who is at best a marginal HOF’er, but take no mention of Palmeiro nearly getting ignored, and Bagwell only getting 40% when he should have been a first-balloter. Both of these guys TRANSCENDED hitting. Bagwell is clearly one of THE best all-time at his position, if not the best, and Palmeiro has some prestigious numbers that only a very select group can match. Why do they get so few votes? Because of steroids? Now, someone needs to explain to me why this is fair, when they played IN THE STEROID ERA. When EVERYONE used steroids. EVERYONE. Athletes cheat, if they’re given the opportunity to. It’s a plain and simple fact. And Bagwell and Palmeiro (Bagwell only was suspected of it too, which makes it even more egregious) may well have been on steroids, but it didn’t give them a competitive edge that significantly changed their numbers, because the majority of the pitchers they faced? Steroids. The majority of the other hitters in their era? Steroids. And somehow Jack Morris, a guy with totally unremarkable numbers, but a “clutch” reputation, will get as many votes as he did, but two great hitters who dominated their era can’t even get 50%.

Hey Greg. Happy New Year to you! I guess that there are many of you are in a state of shock over the Patriots losing to the Jets! Now everybody can jump on the Steeler’s band wagon as they move on to the Superbowl. LOL. We can all be pretty optimistic about the Red Sox for the upcoming season. Theo has done a pretty good job during the off-season. There has been no end of posts urging him to acquire Adrian Gonzales and he has done that! The only question mark in mind is the usual problem at shortstop. Hopefully Scutaro will reduce the number of errors this season. Thankfully, there will be a lot less errors at third base with the return of Youkilis to his natural position. I am really looking forward to spring training! Take care. Paul

Hey, Paul! Good to hear from you! Happy New Year! The shock wore off quickly, regarding the Patriots. If we are going to implode like we did, we don’t deserve to win the game– simple as that. The Jets know how to pounce on a rival that is not playing well. We didn’t deserve to move on.
Phil, I have read similar things about Adrian. Great to see he came to the camp, and that your grandson got to see him in action!

Pap avoided arb, signing for 1-yr, $12 mil. As I understand it, Jacoby is the only other player (or at least major player) who is arb eligible. We’ll see if he can agree on at least a 1-yr deal. Coming off an injury year, that may not be a bad thing. GO SOX!

Yeah, Ellen, I noticed that. Looks like Theo keeps his no-arb streak going! Good for Jacoby– I hope he has a solid rebound year! GO JACOBY! GO SOX!

Let me see if I have this straight:
In 2009 I received a raise because I met or exceeded my goals for the year. In 2010, my goals are not met and my production was way off from the previous year. In 2011 I should expect to receive a raise for not meeting goals or retaining the productivity from the prior year.
ONLY IN BASEBALL!!
I’ve said before that I certainly chose the wrong career path.

PS Jacoby and the Sox agreed to 2.4 million.

Hey everyone, hope you all had a great holiday season and that the New Year brings you all happiness and good health.

It’s been a busy off season for the Sox. Most recently there has been a lot of discussion about contracts for Ellsbury and Papelbon. I agree with the opinion of most that Pap is significantly overpaid. It’s not even so much his performance as it is what he does. I’m still not a huge fan of “the closer” and I think it’s ridiculous to pay a guy $12MM who is likely to only give you 70 innings. My gut tells me Bard or Jenks would be at least as effective in the role. As far as Ellsbury is concerned, many think he doesn’t deserve the raise he got after missing most of last yerar. Well, a player that brings what he does to the table is a bargain at $2.4MM. Also consider this……in 2009 he hit .300, stole 70 bases, scored a bunch of runs and played some magical outfield. For all that, he got a $40K raise. No team is going to give a 3rd year guy a huge raise if they don’t have to. His raise if fair and deserved from his prior performance. You can’t just look at last year.

Most think the Sox are improved with the addition of Gonzalez and Crawford. No doubt they both bring a lot to the Sox. The outfield will be magical with Crawford and Ellsbury out there and we’re going to see excitement on the bases like we’ve never seen before. Youk, Gonzo, and Papi have to be licking their chops. They’re going to get a lot of chances to hit with at least one runner in scoring position with those two speedsters at the top. However, the infield will be weaker in my opinion. Youk is an average third baseman so the left side will be weaker. I also think there is a huge hole behind the plate. I think it likely Tek will be the best option back there.

The starting rotation will remain one of the best in baseball and the bullpen is improved significantly. The Rays have been taken apart to a certain degree but still have enough to play .500. The Yankees are old. The Division is the Sox’ to lose.

Maybe we’ll have a pitching coach that will demand pitchers practice things like holding runners on base, fielding their position and pitching ahead in the count. Maybe he’ll demand that Papelbon think more about pitching, and less about “the stare, the deep breaths, the drama, and how cool he thinks that all is.”

Ellen, maybe it will be a better back year. Drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing. Arnie, hope you’re still thinking about meeting us in Albuquerque in April. Dave, here’s hoping for a little more control on the wet weather. Greg, looking forward to the blog if you’re going to do that. Craig, the leg still hurts, but I’ve been swinging the club some. Maybe this will be the year we get to play a round together. GO SOX!

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