For those Red Sox fans out there grousing about Theo Epstein electing to replace Jason Bay with Mike Cameron, and Mike Lowell with Adrian Beltre (for far less money, too), remember that a run prevented is just as good as a run scored.
And with Cameron in center field pushing Jacoby Ellsbury to left, and Beltre taking over the hot corner, Epstein got himself two very nice upgrades on the defensive side of things.
Cameron covers so much ground he once literally broke his face on a horrific collision with Carlos Beltran (who also covers a lot of ground) when both were with the Mets. The play came on a ball Ellsbury and Bay wouldn’t have been close to catching.
And Beltre, for his part, can pick it and throw it like few other at third base. He is also quite adept at ranging far down the left field line and catching balls over his shoulder.
The folks at Red Sox Monster are plenty aware of Beltre’s talents, posting a video of his defensive highlights while with the Mariners. It’s a little on the lengthy side (8-plus minutes), but oh-so-impressive.
So don’t despair Boston fans. The Red Sox’s improved defense should help offset the loss of offense, and the money saved helped bring John Lackey to town. Now if Lackey’s elbow will just hold up, and if Beltre would just wear a cup …
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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.