Kevin Youkilis played in Boston tonight for the first time since his trade to Chicago, and I must say, I am pretty tired of everyone saying how Kevin Youkilis was the heart and soul of the Red Sox for the last decade. NO HE WASN’T. He was a bench player for the first two years of his career in 04-05.
Then his next two seasons weren’t All-Star level numbers. In ‘06 he hit 13 HR and 72 RBI with a .279/.381/.429 slash line. Yes the slash line is decent, he didn’t hit for the power than first basemen are expected to have. In ‘07 he hit 16 HR and 83 RBI with a slash line of .288/.390/.453. Slash line good, but still not on par with the All-Star first basemen of the league.
It wasn’t until 08 that he showed his true potential with his big MVP type season. He really only had 2 (would’ve been 3 if he didn’t get hurt in 2010) high level seasons.
As much as I like Youkilis, he was hardly a main reason why we won 2 World Series. I guess people forget about the MVP numbers Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz put up all those years.
This post is inspired by a great TED Talk I watched a little while ago called How Great Leaders Inspire Action. And since it is the unofficial halfway point of the season and the Red Sox ended the first half miserably by getting trounced by the Yankees, I thought I would look at them to see why they always seem to fail in comparison to New York.
Yes, I know they have been riddled with injuries, but they still have a very able team that should not be at .500 with Lester and Beckett.
So here’s what I have thought about. The Yankees clearly inspire their players more than Boston does. The Yankees thinking is Why > How > What while Boston is What > How > Why. Let me explain:
The Yankees say why are we a baseball organization? And the answer is to win championships. How are we going to do that? By acquiring true professionals that are highly skilled and immensely talented. What do we do? We use all our resources to accomplish this goal.
This is where Boston has tended to differentiate from this ideal. They used to think this way, as of recent years they tended to think backwards. They say “what are we going to do?” We are going to go out and acquire players that are talented and successful. How are we going to do that? We are going to use our resources and sign players to big, long-term contracts. Why? Because the Yankees do the same thing and they are always successful.
People buy into the WHY you do things and not WHAT it is that you do. This is where Boston has fallen off recently. Here, I think is how to remedy the problem. Trade away Lester, Beckett, Dice-K, and Lackey. They can get a pretty good package of prospects for at least Lester and Beckett. Dice-K and Lackey are good salary relief, even if you have to eat most of Lackey’s contract. I think Crawford can still turn it around and be very productive in his tenure in Boston. They need to instill on the players WHY they are here. They are here to win championships. How are they going to do that? By conducting themselves professionally, grinding out every game, every at-bat. What are they going to do? Win ball games. David Ortiz is the last player from ‘04 who seems to have that mentality right now. I don’t know what goes on in the clubhouse, but he has got to get them going in the right direction.
(there probably already is) for when a reliever blows the save and gets the win. It’s worse than a vulture. I”m not sure what it would be called but in my head I picture the starting pitcher just staring at the reliever and thinking “You dick!”
The All-Star rosters were just announced, and as always there were some huge mistakes on the rosters. First of all, I’d like to point out that Mike Napoli getting voted in as a starter is a joke. He is not putting up All-Star numbers. He should not be in the game. But of course, Ron Washington would’ve probably just chosen him to be there anyway. That brings me to my first snub:
He has the second highest OPS among starting catchers behind Mauer. He is having a career year and deserved to be there. Big mistake on the fans, the players, and Ron Washington for him not being there.
Kipnis is having a fantastic first full season in the Majors. He’s hitting .275 with 11 HR and 46 RBI. 19/20 for SB. I’m not saying that Kinsler doesn’t deserve to be there as he is the only other 2B on the roster, but Kipnis should have been there too.
How is this guy overlooked?? Josh Reddick is having a stellar season now that he’s getting a chance to play every day. I always liked him when he was in Boston, and now he’s showing what he can really do. He’s got better numbers than Granderson (Reddick is hitting .260/.342/.517 with 18 HR and 39 RBI 8/8 SB with 34/74 BB/K while Granderson is hitting .243/.347/.510 with 23 HR and 46 RBI 6/9 SB with 45/91 BB/K). Also, keep in mind Reddick is in the middle of the worst lineup in the American League.
Another guy who is overlooked because of their cellar-dwelling team. Willingham is having an All-Star year. He has a higher OPS (.913) than Jose Bautista (.908), Adam Jones (.897), and Granderson (.857), all three of which are All-Stars.
On to the NL side of things, where Wright got robbed of a start at third and Kemp stole the starting spot of McCutchen or Braun.
Miguel Montero is having another quality season after signing a big extension with Arizona. People think Molina is the best defensive catcher, Montero is once again leading the league in CS% with 51%. I wouldn’t say he’s worthy over any other catcher that’s on the team, but he deserves to be in Kansas City.
LaRoche, like Konerko, is a highly overlooked player. He’s a solid defensive first baseman with a good bat. He is leading all NL first basemen (yes even Joey Votto) in RBI with 49.
How LaHair got in, I will never know. I guess all the players who only saw LaHair play in April voted for him because since then he’s hitting .250/.343/.448 with 5 HR and 8 RBI in May and .231/.286/.400 with 3 HR and 6 RBI in June. Oh, and he’s only hitting .079 against Left-Handed pitching. No platoon player, in my opinion, is worthy of an All-Star nod.
He should be in the starting lineup for the NL, instead he won’t even be going to KC. Jose Altuve certainly deserves to go, I won’t gripe about that, but Dan Uggla? Dan Uggle is hitting .235 while Phillips is hitting .288. Phillips leads all NL second basemen with 46 RBI and is a gold glove defender. Uggla, not so much.
This guy is having a fantastic season as Houston’s shortstop. He’s leading NL shortstops with 14 HR and .833 OPS. I would gladly substitute him in for any shortstop on the NL squad.
There are quite a few NL Outfielders that got snubbed, but I won’t go into them all so I’ll just list them:
Going with the rumors of the Dodgers looking for offense, I thought I would examine some potential trade candidates for the Dodgers, besides Lowrie and Lee.
Since just about every player not named Jerry Hairston, AJ Ellis, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp are underperforming, lets start in the outfield.
Candidate #1: Jonny Gomes
While Gomes isn’t a big defensive guy, he’s certainly performing better than any other outfielder LA has. He has always provided a big bat and that’s what the Dodgers need.
Candidate #2: Carlos Quentin
While this seems less likely because of the return the Dodgers would need to give the Padres, it would definitely benefit them. Quentin is hitting a phenomenal .322/.443/.644. The only questions are whether he can stay healthy, as he has had health issues the last couple years. Quentin would provide a very nice addition to the lineup with the R-L-R combo of Kemp, Ethier, and Quentin.
Candidate #3: Adam Lind
Even though Adam Lind did not have a spectacular start to the season, he tore it up at AAA after Toronto sent him down. Although its a small sample, he’s hitting a .364/.417/.909 in his first 4 games since getting recalled. If Adam Lind can continue to produce like he did in 2010, I would expect to see the Dodgers interested as an upgrade over Loney.
Candidate #4: Ty Wigginton
While he doesn’t have the ability to produce quite as much as the other three, he would act as a respectable upgrade over either Loney or Uribe. His .250/.317/.398 line isn’t great, but he can still show that pop that the Dodgers are missing without Kemp or Ethier in the lineup.
Alright so this is my first blog ever, but I’m planning on packing quite a bit of my opinion and information into it. And what better way to start off this blog of baseball then with one of the great festivities of the MLB: The All-Star game.
Now, I’m a firm believer that the starters for the All-Star game should be those who perform the best. That is why it drives me crazy when I see people who don’t have All-Star caliber seasons get voted in. Look, I get it, they’re on your favorite team, but that doesn’t mean you have to vote for them. I don’t vote for every player on the Red Sox (in fact, only Boston player that I voted for was Ortiz).
A guy like Mike Napoli, for instance, hitting .240/.345/.456 with 12 HR and 30 RBI, should not be in the All Star game when AJ Pierzynski, who is hitting .278/.327/.489 with 10 HR and 42 RBI having one of his best years isn’t even in the top 3 for votes (Last recent check for top three catchers is Napoli, Mauer, who is deserving having a bounceback year, and Matt Weiters). And Russell Martin is fifth in voting? Come on. The guy is hitting .193. We might as well invite Rickie Weeks to play too.
So here is my opinion on who should start the All Star game, unbiased of what team they are on, because even though I am a Red Sox fan, I am still a true baseball fan.
American League Nation League
C - A.J. Pierzynski CWS C - Carlos Ruiz PHI
1B - Paul Konerko CWS 1B - Joey Votto CIN
2B - Robinson Cano NYY 2B - Brandon Phillips CIN
3B - Miguel Cabrera DET 3B - David Wright NYM
SS - Asdrubal Cabrera CLE SS - Jed Lowrie HOU
OF - Mark Trumbo LAA OF - Carlos Beltran STL
OF - Josh Hamilton TEX OF - Andrew McCutchen PIT
OF - Mike Trout LAA OF - Ryan Braun MIL
DH - David Ortiz BOS
Now I will defend my choices.
Catchers: Pierzynski, as I states above, having a career year and having the best season of any catcher in the AL. Ruiz, leading the MLB in AVG. Not to mention very solid defensively and has carried the Phillies offense without Howard or Utley.
First Base: Paul Konerko does not get the love he deserves, he is a future Hall of Famer and still gets it done with the bat and the glove. He’s hitting .332 with a higher OBP and SLG than Fielder. As for Joey Votto, I think it’s pretty self explanatory. He is the best first baseman in the game right now. He just does everything so well, he’s on his way to another MVP season.
Second Base: Until recently, I thought Kipnis could be starting at 2B for the AL. But then Cano started heating up and the race was over from there. His numbers are far and away better than anyone else’s.
As for Brandon Phillips, this was a tough choice. Jose Altuve and Aaron Hill would also be solid choices, but I went with Philips because he’s got the whole package. He’s got speed, power, everything you want from a second baseman. Not to mention he’s the best defensive second baseman in the NL.
Third Base: I chose Miguel Cabrera over Adrian Beltre for a couple reasons: Cabrera is outslugging Beltre, even in an underachieving lineup in Detroit, and the fact that Cabrera moved over to third and has done a pretty decent job over at the hot corner. As for David Wright, he’s having a fantastic year. He’s got an OPS over .1000, way beyond any other third baseman in the NL.
Shortstop: This is one of the more controversial positions to chose because there are a couple guys that are deserving to start. I chose Asdrubal Cabrera over Jeter and Andrus because he’s got the power that isn’t shown with Andrus, and he is an anchor in the middle of the Cleveland lineup. He’s also a highlight reel defensive shortstop that makes some incredible plays, and I would enjoy possibly getting the chance to watch him make some in the ASG.
I decided to go with Jed Lowrie to start because he is, by far, having a great season in Houston. He was traded from Boston, finally healthy and getting a chance to play every day, and he is making the most of it. He’s leading all MLB shortstops in HR with 14 and has the highest OPS of any NL SS, not counting Tulowitzki. Another reason I didn’t go with Castro or Desmond was because their strikeout to walk ratio is horrendous. Castro is 8/54 BB/K and Desmond is 13/64. Lowrie has a healthy 33/50 BB/K ratio.
Outfield: These were the most difficult picks to make, because there are so many great OF this year. Hamilton, a no-brainer, another MVP type season. Mark Trumbo, a very much improved player from last year, absolutely raking this year. I decided to pick him over Adam Jones for the reason that Trumbo has led the Angels offense all year. He was raking before Trout came up, and while Pujols was still in his slump. Speaking of Trout, he is my third selection to start. I had Bautista, but I changed my mind and decided to go with Trout. Even though he has only played 54 games, he has ignited this LA offense, he plays gold glove defense, and he already leads the AL with 21 SB with only 3 CS. Not to mention his slash line of .345/.402/.543.
And in the NL, Beltran is having the best season of any National League OF. Ryan Braun is still dominating opposing pitching even with Fielder gone (who knows why they still pitch to him) and I chose Andrew McCutchen to start over Carlos Gonzalez because CarGo’s numbers were greatly inflated from Coors Field. In fact, he is hitting nearly 100 points higher at home than away. Although Melky is having a fantastic year, and I love that he’s having a career year (especially since he’s doing so well after the Yankees got rid of him, and I have him on my fantasy team), but I think those three are just having better years than him.
Designated Hitter: I think this is a pretty obvious choice, David Ortiz is the best DH in the game, no question. Encarnacion is having a stellar year, but his numbers fail in comparison to Ortiz. And Adam Dunn, he’s hitting .214. Not very All-Star like.
I won’t touch on all of the pitchers that are in consideration to start the ASG because I don’t know who will be allowed to pitch, but my early vote is for Chris Sale and R.A. Dickey.
So that is my opinion on the ASG and I hope you enjoyed reading through this because I enjoyed sharing my thoughts.