When the Red Sox really get going like they did this past weekend in Toronto it becomes next to impossible for me to imagine them losing. It seems whomever they put on the mound has a good game. Gonzalez and Youkilis crush pitch after pitch, and if anyone does make a play against the Sox, well, the game was likely out of reach for them anyway. Then games like last night's happen that snap you back to reality. The reality is that 162 games is a long season. You're gonna lose some of them no matter how good you are and there's no shame in losing a game started by your fifth starter against an opponent's best starter on the road after an off day. Of course I'll have to add some drama to that story when I re-tell the wife to explain the large hole in our TV set.
The repeated and assuredly continued failure of major league umpires is something baseball should and can fix and Jonah Keri of Fan Graphs continues to fight the good fight to improve umpiring in baseball. There is not a 100% guaranteed fix, but baseball certainly can improve upon the going rate by a lot. This isn't to say umpires do a bad job, though some may, but on the whole even the best umpires with the best training and in the best condition will make mistakes because they are people and that's what people do. Replacing people with machines, which are more exact and not subject to the suggestion of catchers, pitch type, pitcher reputation, or surly crowds, will result in more correct calls. And shouldn't that really be the goal?
For more on the topic, Steve Slowinski at D Rays Bay has a what-if piece on a recent missed call that may have resulted in a one game swing in the AL East standings.
The fine folks at Replacement Level Yankees Weblog have a post up that, while not the point of the article, features a comparison of league averages over the last three seasons. It's instructive, I think, to see the numbers back to back to back. The run scoring environment is down again this season after taking an initial step down last season. Context is vital when looking at stats, so check it out. If nothing else it'll make you appreciate what David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez are doing this year.
Speaking of Big Papi, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan has an article up about the ten free agents in line to get over-paid. The list includes both Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon. Mr. Passan spends a fair bit of time bemoaning the system which leads to players making big salaries, but the truth of it is, as players sign with the highest bidder, they likely aren't also signing with the most reasonable bidder (see: Werth, Jayson, etc.). The truly elite talents are the ones that, by most 'current' market standards, will be over paid. But is it truly being over paid? If the market can support Mr. Superstar's salary then Mr. Superstar, by definition, is not over paid. He might be paid more money than a fan or a writer thinks he's worth, and that fan or writer could be correct, but that's the way the system is set up.
As for the specifics, Passan spoke to "an agent" who guessed Ortiz would get a one year, $14 million deal while Papelbon would get two years and $25 million. I think if the Sox could sign both to those deals now they'd do it in a heartbeat. The Ortiz figure seems about $4 million too high but on a one year deal it almost doesn't matter.
Carl Crawford was booed by Rays fans on Tuesday in his first at-bat back in Tampa as a member of the opposing team. I found it odd. Did any Rays fans really expect Crawford to remain in Tampa? Was there any serious attempt made by the Rays to resign him? I can't imagine affirmative answers to either question. I know Crawford said the Rays never spoke to him about an extension suggesting that the team knew his departure was a fait accompli. Forget Rays fans, is there anyone in Tampa who would have accepted a $30 million deal when a $142 million was also on the table?
Andrew Miller was at it again last night for Pawtucket. Miller walked one while striking out ten for the Pawtucket Red Sox against Charlotte. The lefty who has walked one and struck out 22 in his last three starts, has an opt-out deal in his contract to leave the Red Sox organization and become a free agent that he can trigger today if he wants to. A source told the Globe's Peter Abraham that the Red Sox will move him to the rotation rather than risk losing him to free agency and, quite likely, the desperate Yankees, whom it seems will sign a Care Bear to pitch if it can get the ball over the plate.
Finally, David Pinto of Baseball Analytics has an interesting look at Adrian Gonzalez's approach with runners on base versus with the bases empty. No great insight from me here, but it's worth checking out. Lots of pretty colors too, so if you're cat is around, call her over. She's gonna love this one.