There's an old Saturday Night Live sketch with Will Ferrell where he's a father eating dinner with his wife and family. They try to start conversations, but each time their innocuous beginnings turn into screaming matches. In between the screaming, the family sits quietly and eats, the only noise being the repeated clinking of silverware on plates. For some reason or other, it's exactly how I picture dinner at Bud Selig's house.
Rumblings of changes to the current league and divisional alignment abound. It's about time, honestly. The two leagues not only play under different rules (insane, but fodder for another cannon), they also have a different total membership. Fortunately the baseball blogosphere has stepped up with realignment proposals. For example, Baseball Musings proposes eliminating the leagues and putting five six-team divisions in their place. The six divisional winners plus some unspecified number of Wild Card teams would all make the playoffs. As for scheduling, it would be totally fair, except no. The divisions would play two other divisions on a rotating basis while skipping the three other divisions entirely. While it would make scheduling much easier and more fair, it doesn't accomplish much else. The schedule would still be uneven, favoring some teams more than others based on the strength of their opponents in that given year. The leagues would be lost in the process as well. Not that the leagues are sacrosanct, but easy scheduling isn't a good enough reason to get rid of them.
Over at Fan Graphs, Dave Cameron responds to Buster Olney's reporting for ESPN which broke the story that MLB is considering evening up the number of teams in each league and eliminating the divisions. Mr. Cameron points out that the chief issue with the proposal to eliminate the divisions is mostly travel-related. Removing the divisions and evening out the scheduling would mean, in effect, that the Red Sox would play the Angels as often as they'd play the Yankees. This would mean many more hours of travel time for both teams, a burden which would fall on the shoulders of the players. Somewhat surprisingly neither Mr. Cameron nor I have a problem with that proposal. To me, the divisions serve two purposes: 1) they allow for less travel because they require the teams to play the franchises closest to themselves (supposedly) more frequently, and 2) they promote inter-divisional rivalries. More travel might just be an unavoidable side-effect of a more equitable set up.
In non-realignment news, the Red Sox recent play has them at the top of power rankings everywhere. Baseball Prospectus has them first overall in Jay Jaffe's AL only version, while ESPN and MLB.com both have the Sox first followed by the Phillies. Beyond the Boxscore also has the Red Sox in first place, but they're followed by the Yankees. Oddly, the Phillies don't enter the picture until you reach fifth. In other news, the Red Sox remain on top of the Matt Kory power rankings for a record 1,819th straight week. They are followed this week by, in order, breathing, sleeping, tripping strangers as they get on the bus, my family, dumping all the rolls of TP into port-a-potties, cats, and cracking all the cans open in the grocery store beer isle.
The end of the Mike McKendry Era in Boston has predictably sparked retrospectives all over the internet. Ah, what a glorious 30+ days it was! But, in the words of the great American "Garth" from Wayne's World, we must, "Live in the now, man." With McKendry's moving on to the land of disgusting sandwiches (fries are a side dish, not part of the sandwich. Come ON, people!), a spot has opened up at the AAA level. In short, there once was a man from Pawtucket, but then he went to Pittsburgh so they needed a new man for Pawtucket... Doesn't really have that ring to it. Anyway, that second man is Red Sox catching prospect Ryan Lavarnway who, after crushing at AA Portland, has earned a call up, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Lavarnway can hit, that much is clear. Whether or not he has the defensive skills to be a major league catcher is the question to be answered. In that sense, AAA will be a huge step in proving his worthiness to don the tools of ignorance in Boston.
Derek Jeter came up lame on a fly ball in the fifth inning of Monday night's game versus the Indians. The Yankees have since announced Jeter has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of his right calf muscle. If indeed that is what Jeter has and the Yankees aren't pulling our leg (or our calf muscle! Ha!), then Jeter may not miss much time as Grade 1 is the least damaging of strains and as such limits mobility the least. Of course, Jeter is a 37 year old shortstop so mobility is pretty important. Any small loss of mobility could be a huge problem. Then again, there are those that might argue, how much less mobile can the guy be?
Speaking of Jeter, he's the current leader in Plate Appearances for Active Players While Playing With Only One Team according to the Baseball-Reference Blog. He's about 900 PAs ahead of Chipper Jones. Todd Helton comes in third. The first Red Sox on the list is Jason Varitek, at number nine.
The message board Sons of Sam Horn has an interesting discussion about J.D. Drew's performance this season and what the Red Sox should do about right field going forward. There are lots of moving pieces (Ryan Kalish coming back from injury, Josh Reddick in the minors, Darnell McDonald and Mike Cameron in the bigs) and then there's Drew, whose stats of all stripes don't give much reason for optimism. The consensus at SoSH seems to be they need to upgrade the position. That may turn out to be the case, but Drew is being paid big money ($14 million) this season to be the answer in right field and I don't see the Red Sox turning him into a bench player or paying his salary while he plays elsewhere after two and a half months of bad performance at the plate. I say "at the plate" because in the field Drew has been very good, both to my eyes and by advanced metrics. His defense probably isn't good enough to keep him in the lineup if you know he'll continue to hit the way he has, but it shouldn't be overlooked either. Further, Drew is a rather streaky player and it seems reasonable to think there is one more hot streak in there somewhere. The way the Red Sox have been scoring recently they can afford to wait a bit longer.