Chavez injury takes chunk out of Seattle's great D

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Seattle’s new regime made defense a priority during the offseason,
acquiring elite fly-catchers Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez to team
with Ichiro Suzuki for a three-center fielder outfield and the results have predictably been dramatic.

Last season the Mariners ranked 11th among AL teams in runs allowed,
but so far this year they’ve been by far the best team in the entire
league at preventing runs while slicing their ERA from 4.73 to 3.59.

Improved pitching has obviously played a big role, but a dramatic
change in the quality of the Mariners’ outfield defense has been an
overlooked component. Or at least it was. Chavez suffered a torn ACL in a collision Friday with Yuniesky Betancourt, knocking him out for the remainder of this season and possibly part of 2010.

Chavez is a corner outfielder who was hitting just .273/.328/.343, so
at first glance you might think that his injury would actually help the
Mariners, but his glove in left field was a huge asset. In fact, with
Chavez, Gutierrez, and Suzuki playing 80 percent of the left field,
center field, and right field innings Ultimate Zone Rating ranks the Mariners’ outfield as the best in baseball defensively at 22.2 runs above average.

Jarrod Washburn is one of the most extreme fly-ball pitchers in the league, so it’s no coincidence
that his ERA has improved from 4.67, 4.32, and 4.69 in his first three
years in Seattle to 3.29 this season. Washburn hasn’t become a new man
at the age of 34 and his secondary numbers show him as the same
mediocre pitcher, but having three center fielders chasing down
everything in the gaps made him look a lot better.

Seattle’s outfield defense will still be plenty strong without Chavez,
because Gutierrez is an amazing center fielder and Suzuki will probably
win his ninth straight Gold Glove in right field, but with Wladimir
Balentien now in left field they’ve gone from spectacular to merely
very good amid rumors that Washburn is on the trading block.

Mark Buehrle had “definitely no more than three” beers before saving Game 3 of the ’05 World Series

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David Ortiz is not the only Sox player who will see his number retired this week. In Chicago, retired White Sox starter Mark Buehrle will have his 56 retired as well.

He definitely earned it. He won 161 games in 12 seasons with the White Sox, defining what it meant to be a workhorse starter in the 21st century, tossing 200+ innings in every full season he pitched on the South Side. And, of course, he helped lead the White Sox to a World Series victory in 2005, starting the Chisox’ Game 2 victory, tossing seven innings.

He also got a save in that series. That came in Game 3, which went 14 innings, thus necessitating Buehrle’s services after Ozzie Guillen went through eight other pitchers. Buehrle only had to toss three pitches in a third of an inning to get that save, but he got it.

And, as he writes in The Players’ Tribune today, he did it with a slight handicap:

The thing a lot of people talk about with that one is this rumor that I drank a few beers before I got the save in our Game 3 victory.

There’s been some stuff that’s come out on that topic, but I feel like you all should really hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. So, here goes….

In short: Yeah, sure, O.K. fine, so I had a few. I can admit to that.

But you gotta let me explain.

He explains that he didn’t think he’d be pitching that night, which was a fair guess at the time. And that he got his drinking done pretty early, checking in with the coaches a lot. So, fine. But how many beers did he have?

And it was just like one or two beers . . .

. . . It was only like three beers….

Max.

Definitely no more than three, though.

I swear.

Mmhmm.

All of this, of course, makes one think about the whole Chicken and Beer incident in Boston. And how that became so overblown that it cost people their jobs and stuff. The only difference there is that (a) the guys drinking the beer were in no way coming into any games; and (b) the Red Sox lost. Change (b) and Josh Beckett and company become legends.

Anyway, congratulations on your honor, Mark. You earned it. Have a beer on us.

Red Sox claim Doug Fister off waivers

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SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports that the Red Sox claimed Doug Fister off release waivers from the Angels.

Fister, 33, opted out of his contract with the Angels the other day after posting allowing seven runs on 16 hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 15.2 innings at Triple-A Salt Lake City. He was presumably told that he would not be making it to the big club any time soon. With Boston’s pitching injuries, specifically to Eduardo Rodriguez, he may have a better shot of pitching in the majors for the Red Sox.