Tag: Pablo Sandoval

Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello is back in the Red Sox’s rotation after missing a month


After missing the past month with a triceps injury Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello is off the disabled list and will start tonight against the White Sox.

Porcello has had a miserable first season in Boston, going 5-11 with a 5.81 ERA in 20 starts after coming over in an offseason trade from Detroit and signing a four-year, $82.5 million contract extension.

Porcello had a 3.43 ERA for the Tigers last season in what appeared to be a breakout year at age 25, but posted a 4.51 ERA from 2009-2013 and has never struck out more than 7.2 batters per nine innings in a season. He’s owed $20 million in 2016, $20 million in 2017, $21 million in 2018, and $21 million in 2019, so much like Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez he’s a big part of the Red Sox’s plans whether they like it or not.

Video: Tarps are no obstacle for Pablo Sandoval

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 7.19.48 AM

This may not be the most thrilling and high-intensity catch of the year, but Pablo Sandoval certainly gets points for difficulty:

Let’s all argue about team chemistry again

Giants Celebration

Team chemistry arguments are pretty played out. Yet people still try to turn team chemistry discussions into zero sum arguments and employ caricatures and straw men of their perceived opponents in the debate to make their case. It’s almost always baseball writer driven, of course, and the latest example comes from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

It’s the usual fare. A story of people talking about chemistry after the fact rather than before the fact (please find me an example, anywhere, where “good chemistry” stories appeared in newspapers before the winning, not vice-versa, and no, standard spring training optimism stories don’t count). A story in which the writer has a preconceived notion about team chemistry and finds several players who give him quotes which fit into those preconceived notions. Quotes like this one from John Lackey:

“It’s really undervalued,’’ St. Louis Cardinals veteran starter John Lackey told USA TODAY Sports, “especially in today’s world with all of the numbers guys.”

We can put all kinds of numbers on players’ talent, from RBI to WAR, to ERA to FIP, but when it comes to the heart and soul of a clubhouse, there remains no measuring stick.

“The numbers guys can’t quantify that one,’’ Lackey said, “so they don’t want to believe in it.’’

John Lackey, by the way, was a big part of the “Chicken and Beer” Red Sox of 2011. Back then he said this in response to all of the media people who claimed that team’s collapse was all about bad chemistry:

“Guys having a beer after their start has been going on for the last 100 years,’’ Lackey said. “This is retarded. It’s not like we were sitting up there doing it every night. It’s not even close to what people think.’’

What about reports of players drinking in the dugout? “They [media] just see how far they can go,’’ he said. “That’s just a flat-out lie.’’

Is he willing to acknowledge that mistakes were made? “I guess. Sure. They’re being made in every clubhouse in the big leagues, then. If we’d have made the playoffs, we’d have been a bunch of fun guys.’’

Which is absolutely true. A few better pitching performances a few more wins and the Sox would’ve been in the playoff lottery, the Chicken and Beer Brigade being just as famous as the 2004 Idiots.

Giants pitcher Jake Peavy had this to say:

“We’re in a game today where everybody wants to think they can formulate, or come up with some kind of number,’’ says Giants starter Jake Peavy, who like Lackey, has won World Series titles with two organizations. “You turn on some of these baseball shows, and nobody wants to talk about the San Francisco Giants, because numbers can’t explain how we won last year.

“They don’t want to talk about clubhouse chemistry.”

You can place some numbers on that, Jake. Numbers like 2-0, 1 save, 0.43 ERA, 21 IP, K/BB ratio of 17/1, 9 hits allowed. That’s Madison Bumgarner’s World Series line. Or how about 2.17? That’s your own ERA after coming over to the Giants in a trade, significantly improving a battered pitching staff down the stretch. Or 8? That’s the number of position player starters the Giants had with an OPS+ over 100. Or 1: the number of managers they have who are considered the best in the game today. Or “many” being the number of people who have come to believe that Brian Sabean is among the best at filling holes on seemingly flawed teams and turning them into winners when it matters. Chemistry may be nice, but talent, in all of its forms, matters more.

And the distribution of talent across the season matters. Baseball is not a 25-man vs. 25-man contest in real time. Matchups matter and Bruce Bochy is really good at making sure he matches up better than you most of the time. Timing matters too. People like to talk about how, say, the Dodgers have more talent than the Giants. Maybe so over the course of 162 games last season or this season. But in world where ten teams make the playoffs, the overall talent discussion is irrelevant. Who, among those ten teams, plays better in October is what determines which team wins the World Series and the Giants performance in October has been a function of applied talent over a short period of time in three of the past five seasons, not chemistry. Unless, that is, you think Madison Bumgarner’s heroics last year, Pablo Sandoval’s .500/.529/1.125 line in the 2012 World Series or Edgar Renteria hitting .412 with two homers in 2010 was all a function of good vibes. Good players — of whom have a track record for high-level performance and an extraordinary amount of talent — are why the Giants have a fist full of World Series rings.

But, as is often the case, the pro-chemistry people will likely respond to me with some variation on “you never played the game so you don’t know.” Well, they’re right. So let me defer to my cosmic associate. His name is Jim Leyland, and he knows a thing or two about baseball. Here’s what he said to the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore 2010 when asked about how Pudge Rodriguez was aiding the Washington Nationals’ team chemistry:

“Take all that clubhouse [stuff] and all that, throw it out the window. Every writer in the country has been writing about that [nonsense] for years. Chemistry don’t mean [anything]. He’s up here because he’s good. That don’t mean [a hill of beans]. They got good chemistry because their team is improved, they got a real good team, they got guys knocking in runs, they got a catcher hitting .336, they got a phenom pitcher they just brought up. That’s why they’re happy.”

Those brackets hide a lot of references to horse excrement in case you’re not familiar with Mr. Leyland’s patois.

I’ve said this 100 times before and I’ll say it 100 times again. Working with people you like is way better than working with people you don’t like. Having guys in the clubhouse who make your life and job better is always preferable to having guys who make it work. I’ll even grant, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I’d always try to get rid of bad seeds if I ran a team, at least as long as their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play.

But good chemistry doesn’t make teams win. Good chemistry is a product of winning. And bad chemistry is, very, very often, a product of guys reacting poorly to losing (just ask Cole Hamels about that). To suggest that the “numbers guys” are mistaken when they say that talent trumps that stuff is just bunk.

Red Sox trade Mike Napoli to the Rangers

Mike Napoli

Update (8:08 PM EST): The Rangers are getting cash from the Red Sox in addition to Napoli, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The Red Sox will get a player to be named later or cash.

Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli was a late scratch from the starting line up for Friday’s game against the Tigers. WEEI’s Rob Bradford is reporting that the Rangers are acquiring him in a trade with the Red Sox. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe confirms the deal.

Travis Shaw was originally in the Red Sox lineup as a third baseman, but started at first base and Pablo Sandoval started at the hot corner.

Napoli, 33, is in the midst of the worst offensive season of his career, hitting .207/.307/.386 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI. The veteran of 10 seasons can become a free agent after the season. Napoli had limited no-trade protection, and the Rangers were on the list, but he agreed to waive it in order to move to a contender.

The Rangers have a dearth of power from the right side. Catcher Robinson Chirinos (currently on the 15-day disabled list) and third baseman Adrian Beltre have hit the most home runs as right-handed hitters with nine each. First baseman Mitch Moreland has trouble with left-handed pitchers, so Napoli will likely share first base with him in a platoon situation. The Rangers entered play Friday in third place at 54-53, 5.5 games behind the Astros in the AL West.

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

Justin Verlander

Blue Jays 10, Tigers 5: I was in Detroit over the weekend and interviewed Justin Verlander on Saturday for an upcoming story I’m writing. Part of that conversation focused on what sorts of adjustments he plans to make as he ages, how he expects to change and maybe rely on secondary pitches more as his velocity decreases, etc. Short version: he doesn’t plan to change and still thinks he can do everything he could do several years ago. I mean, he wasn’t a jerk about it, but he more or less said that he sees no reason to make adjustments now.

The fastballs he tried to throw by Jays’ hitters in pitchers’ counts that they bashed the hell out of yesterday say something different.

Cardinals 3, Padres 1: Rookie Tommy Pham homered, doubled and drove in three in his third big league game. That has to be a stage name, right? Like his agent is some vaudeville veteran and has this thing about shortening names that are perceived as “too ethnic” because the houses in the sticks won’t book his acts? “Look, Tommy. I know you and the rest of the Phamtonestovich family are very proud of all of your accomplishments, but BELIEVE ME, you’ll want to be “Tommy Pham” when you play Peoria!”

Rockies 6, Diamondbacks 4: De La Rosa beat De La Rosa in this one. Nice outing for De La Rosa. Tough break for De La Rosa, however. Troy Tulowitzki hit a three-run homer. Off of De La Rosa, natch. After the game De La Rosa said he pitched well. De La Rosa, however, admitted he had some stuff to work on.

Rays 8, Yankees 1: The Rays end a seven-game losing streak, with Erasmo Ramirez’s only blemish coming on an A-Rod homer. That notwithstanding he pitched six innings of three-hit, one run ball. Ramirez is 7-2 with a 2.17 ERA since joining the rotation on May 14.

Brewers 6, Reds 1: And eight-game winning streak for Milwaukee, including all seven games of their road trip. Taylor Jungmann allowed one run on four hits in eight innings. They’re only two games behind the Reds for Not Last in the NL Central.

Red Sox 5, Astros 4: Hanley Ramirez hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh. Ryan Hanigan and Pablo Sandoval each had three hits for the Sox, who have won three straight series.

Phillies 4, Braves 0: Philly snaps a six-game losing streak by breaking through with a four-run tenth inning. Nick Masset allowed most of the damage via loading the bases and having his replacements allow inherited runners to score. Dana Eveland allowed one of those inherited runners across. Then after the game both were designated for assignment. Tough day at the office.

Pirates 5, Indians 3: The Indians scored three times off Gerrit Cole early but then he buckled down and retired the last 16 men he faced to win his league-leading 12th game. Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking double in a five-run fifth.

Orioles 9, White Sox 1: Adam Jones had two doubles, Steve Pearce had three hits and Jonathan Schoop hit a homer in his first at bat since mid-April as the Orioles avoid the sweep. The White Sox made four errors on the day.

Royals 3, Twins 2: Eric Hosmer doubled in Lorenzo Cain for the walkoff win. The Twins weren’t without highlights, however, as Ervin Santana came back from his 80-game drug suspension and went eight innings striking out eight.

Cubs 2, Marlins 0: The Cubs aren’t scoring runs but are still winning thanks to a nice streak from their starters. The latest nice outing: Kyle Hendricks shutting out the Marlins for seven and a third, allowing five hits, one walk and striking out six.

Mariners 2, Athletics 1: Rookie Mike Montgomery’s streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings ended on a Sam Fuld homer, but he was cool all the same, going five and two-thirds and getting his fourth win. The Mariners turned double plays in three consecutive innings.

Mets 8, Dodgers 0: Steven Matz looked great again, pitching six scoreless innings and striking out eight. Wilmer Flores went 4-for-5 and drove in three. The Mets took two of three in this series, which many were figuring would be a disaster following their awful homestand. I guess they just needed some California sun.

Angels 12, Rangers 6: Earlier this season when the Rangers were looking surprisingly frisky I and many others observed that the pitching wasn’t likely to hold up. Guess it’s ceasing to hold up now, as the Angels outscored the Rangers 33-8 in the three-game sweep. Albert Pujols hit his 25th homer while Kole Calhoun homered and drove in four.

Nationals 3, Giants 1: A three-game sweep in Washington, where the Nats have won nine straight. The Giants played the Sunday night game then had to fly back to California with no day off today. Sunday Night Baseball is dumb. UPDATE: Just learned that the Giants stayed the night in DC and then are flying back to San Francisco this morning. I can’t decide if that’s better or worse.