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Morning Sox Stuffers 5/25/2011: Adrian Gonzalez Good, McCarthyism Bad

In case you missed it:

--Josh Beckett and Jason Varitek led the Red Sox to their first win in Cleveland this year.

--"IGLESIAS GOT AN EXTRA BASE HIT! it’s a miracle." - Wolf

--Hideki Okajima remains a Red Sox. Just of the Pawtucket variety.


Back In Boston

Red Sox in no-win situation with Dice-K -- Jeff Passan, Yahoo

The word--or, I suppose, onomatopoeia 'ugh' pretty much sums it up.

Is Adrian Gonzalez the best hitter in baseball? -- Kirk Minihane, WEEI

Minihane places him at no. 3. He has my personal choice at no. four for reasons I will get into below the jump, and puts Gonzo behind Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols. Acceptable at the moment, no doubt. But I wonder if April is an anomaly--something of an adjustment period--and May the reality for Gonzo. We've got no way of knowing right now, but if Gonzalez can keep it going into June and beyond, there may be a shift in the balance of power.

Manny vs. Gonzo and much more -- Chad Finn, Boston Globe

For what it's worth, Finn points out that things just aren't the same anymore.

A Hill of a streak: Rich Hill's unlikely path to Red Sox history -- Alex Speier, WEEI

Terry Francona on Bard, Pedroia, Other Stuff -- Tyler Murray, WEEI

"What he did last year was probably hard to duplicate. He was on such a run for such a long period of time," Francona said. "I don't think his command at times is exactly what it was last year, because when he throws the velocity is tremendous. I think there's times when the life through the zone isn't quite the same. Not always, just sometimes. Because you see right now like last night when he makes a mistake, he got hit, and we didn't really see that last year. Now saying that, it's obvious how much confidence I have in him because we go to him almost every time somebody's on base or the game's on the line because of the amount of confidence we have in him."

I suppose my question is at what level between 2010 and 2011 do we stop considering bard an acceptable replacement for Papelbon?

Varitek’s catching up -- Scott Lauber, Boston Herald

There've been a lot of puff pieces on Tek and Salty of late, but more than anything, for me they just emphasize how small the samples we're looking at are. I mean, Salty went 5-13 with two homers over a three-game period back in June of 2008. How good was he after that? For me, nothing has changed: We desperately need a real long-term solution at catcher, and Salty is a ways from proving he's the answer.

John Lackey Progressing -- Michael Silverman, Boston Herald

Pedroia 'a little sore' -- Peter Abraham, Boston Globe

The real story here is the RBI Baseball being played.

Actions speak louder than words for Josh Beckett -- Peter Abraham, Boston Globe

Patrolling the outfield -- Mike Andrews (SoxProspects), ESPN


Around The AL East

Report: Pitchers Lining Up For 'Bartolo Colon Surgery' -- Ed Valentine, SB Nation New York

Rafael Soriano Shut Down Indefinitely -- Brandon C, Pinstripe Alley

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 4 -- Yankees2, Pinstripe Alley

The view from the other side -- Tom Dakers, Bluebird Banter

Jose Bautista And The Ridiculousness Of It All -- Grant Brisbee, Baseball Nation

It's a rare article which so perfectly combines journalistic criticism with humor--to the point where I'm a bit surprised that this isn't from the 'pen' of Ken Tremendous (no offense to Grant, but this is Fire Joe Morgan stuff). I'd like to hearken back to Kirk Minihane now, and his comments on Bautista:

I'm sorry, it's hard for me to look at Bautista's career numbers before and after 2010 and not come to the conclusion that something else other than adjustments in his batting stance and a new attitude might be the reason he's hitting home runs at this pace. Total baseball McCarthyism, I understand, but this is the real world.

I don't mean to single out Minihane here by any means. This whole "jump to steroids" thing is something of an epidemic in journalism at this point. What makes me pick out this quote is Minihane's apt description of this as being "baseball McCarthyism." As a history major, I feel that this period in history where reputation-ruining accusations were made based on the scantest and most circumstantial of evidence was maybe one of those things we were supposed to have learned from. Clearly by its merely having been mentioned the lesson is understood, but if it's not applied, then what good is it?

Are Jose Bautista's numbers garish? Yes. Is the sudden jump unusual? Yes. Is it the sort of thing that maybe you'll make a crack about over a beer during a game? Sure. But don't publish it. It's not like Bautista showed up with a head three sizes too large and a sudden record of road rage. This has gotten to the point where self-improvement is met primarily with suspicion instead of praise. Yes, this is the real world, but that's why it's all-the-more important to not fall into the same old traps as we did so many years ago. Is it really worth risking a man's reputation just so that we can all say "I told you so" if evidence should actually emerge? Hell, we don't even have the pretense that the accusations serve a positive purpose. At least Joe McCarthy was ostensibly on the side of national security.

I'm sure Bautista's shiny new contract is enough to help overcome the emotional trauma, but for now keep unfounded suspicions in bars and livingrooms. It's kind of sad that it's become so widely acceptable to cry "steroids" at the first sign of what should be a feel-good story about yet another all-star who never actually did anything while he was with the Pirates.

Wait, where'd that last bit come from?

Orioles 5, Royals 3 -- Stacey, Camden Chat

Rays 6, Tigers 7 -- BigAl, Bless You Boys

Adjusting Expectations: Should Rays Fans Be Talking Playoffs? -- Steve Slowinski, DRaysBay


MLB In General

Ultimate Base Running Primer -- Mitchel Lichtman, FanGraphs Baseball

Numbers numbers numbers numbers!

George W. Bush and a foul ball -- 'Duk, Yahoo

A reminder: no politics in the comments please.