Jacoby Ellsbury: one play does not an MVP make. Or lose.

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In last night’s Orioles-Red Sox game Robert Andino hit an inside the park homer. Big play. Probably the biggest of the game.  It was a ball that looked like Jacoby Ellsbury was going to catch, but he didn’t.  Here’s the play. It was a great job getting to it, but yeah, you want to see him squeeze that with so much on the line.

But was it more than just an unfortunate play for the Red Sox? Was it the sort of play that changes the character of Ellsbury’s season?  That seems ridiculous, but in a world where people think that his one home run on Sunday night against the Yankees was enough to give him the MVP, it’s inevitable that someone will seize on this one play and make a sweeping pronouncement about it too.

An inevitability borne out on CSNNewEngland last night by Steve Buckley and Lou Merloni, who think that Ellsbury’s failure to catch that ball meant the world.  “Good outfielders make those plays in late September,” Buckley said.  “An All-Star-caliber, American League MVP makes that play,” added Merloni. Here’s the video.

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Note that each of them then agree that, yeah, if the Red Sox make the playoffs, Ellsbury is still their guy.

Call me crazy, but the only thing sillier than saying that the MVP award is contingent on how your team does is saying that it’s contingent on one play among thousands in a six-month-long major league season.  If you subscribe to that notion you’re not giving out an MVP award. You’re giving out a “highlight of the year” award.

It’s a long season. The full season — not just its best and worst moments — matters.  On the basis of the full season an MVP vote for Jacoby Ellsbury is completely defensible. Depending on how much you value his defense compared to Jose Bautista’s, it may actually be compelled. But it’s certainly not something that one play can or should bestow or take away from the guy.

Dustin Pedroia leaves game with a sprained left wrist

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Bad news for the Red Sox today. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was involved in a collision at first base with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. Pedroia stayed in the game at the time but was replaced by Josh Rutledge in the second.

The injury: sprained left wrist. Which, no, is not good, but there was some initial concern that he may have aggravated the knee which has been bothering him of late. They’ll no doubt provide an update after the game. As of now, the Sox lead the Sox 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

 

Brad Ausmus is not a fan of the Tigers’ schedule

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Everyone in baseball has a tough schedule. The season is a grind. Some teams, however, due to weather and happenstance, have stretches which are a tougher grind than others. The Tigers are in one of those right now.

Detroit played the Astros on Thursday night, and lost in a three-hour and thirty minute contest. It was a getaway day, er, night, and they didn’t get to Chicago to face the White Sox until the wee wee hours of the morning on Friday. Waiting for them: a double header which was to start at 4pm. The first game of it was rained out, though, so they woke up after a short “night’s sleep for nothing. Then the nightcap was delayed over an hour, giving them another late bedtime. On Saturday it was another double header, so it was another early wakeup and another long day at the park. And, of course, another day game on Sunday, before a flight to Kansas City.

This stretch has made Brad Ausmus grumpy. Here he was after Friday night’s late finish:

“Give some credit to the White Sox pitchers, give some credit to the schedule we have. We’ll try to get about 5 hours of sleep and come back tomorrow and play two more.”

He was particularly miffed at the scheduling of two doubleheaders in a row:

“You can’t control the weather but I think it would have been prudent to play the second game tomorrow in August,” he said. “That would have made a lot more sense to me.”

Ausmus did note, however, that it’s not the White Sox’ job to make a schedule that is convenient for their division rivals.

You can look at this in a few different ways. One one level, Ausmus is understandably upset about a particularly arduous stretch of games. On another level he’s probably trying to protect his players, who have looked flat, by changing the subject from their play to the schedule. On a different level, you could say that he’s making excuses for a team that is underachieving. And, of course, those three things are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, though, that the Tigers have lost seven of ten, are five out of first place, four games under .500 and could conceivably leave their series with the Royals this week in dead last in the Central. Ultimately, extenuating circumstances like the weather and an unfortunate schedule don’t save a manager whose talented and highly-paid team struggles like the Tigers have. If they don’t turn it around soon, Ausmus could be hitting the bricks and the Tigers could be fixing to sell off and rebuild.