Sports Opinion & Analysis

Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Pirates’

Dear Ben, I’m Sorry

In MLB, Uncategorized on September 26, 2013 at 3:31 pm

By Chris Hallenbrook

Dear Ben Cherington,

I’m sorry. This past offseason every time you made a major addition I criticized you for overpaying for aging, mediocre ballplayers. I was entirely convinced that your judgment was shot and that thanks to your inability to be bold the best the 2013 Red Sox could hope for was a return to the .500 mark. Well, so much for that. Here’s the rundown of this past offseason, my complaints and why I was wrong.

Shane Victorino – Coming off a pedestrian .255/.321/.383 season with the Phillies and Dodgers, it seemed utterly insane to be giving him $13 million a year for 3 years at the age of 32. I still think the contract was too rich, but his contribution to the team far exceeds his massively improved .295/.353/.453. He has been crashing into walls in right a la Trot Nixon despite playing with pain most of the season. In fact, since August the career switch hitter has been batting exclusively from the right side due to a bad hamstring, and has continued putting up big numbers and delivering the key hits despite not having faced right-handed pitching from the right side of the plate since his days in high school. He’s a gamer.

Mike Napoli – I put Napoli in the same boat as Victorino this past offseason, namely a declining veteran who should have been signed on the cheap, not for top dollar. But as with Victorino, he’s been a grinder, playing through plantar fasciitis, playing in more games than he has since 2010 and producing more than his .258 batting average suggests. Despite slumping across the summer months, he was white hot in April and May, helping the Sox to a badly needed quick start, and is now hitting well over .400 for the month of September. Talk about playing your best when it matters most.

Johnny Gomes – To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to this acquisition because I didn’t see him doing anything notable. Boy, was I wrong about that. Sure he’s only hit .238, but he has been a valuable fourth outfielder, ably filed the holes when guys got hurt and oh yeah, he has hit four pinch hit home runs with a .515 batting average in over twenty pinch hit appearances. He embodies the main cause of the Red Sox’s turnaround, which he articulated a month ago when he remarked that “Heart and hustle are two things you can’t fake. Bring those two things every single day and the baseball gods will reward you.”

Ryan Dempster – Oh yeah, I just loved bringing in a 36 year old pitcher whose career ERA versus the AL East was over 4.00. I’m pretty sure I wanted to have your sanity checked after that one Ben. And admittedly, I’m not too sure I’m willing to take this one back given his 4.46 ERA. Then again, the man eats innings, which is always a plus, and you turned Jose “Iggy” Iglesias into Jake Peavy, who has had nothing but filthy stuff since joining the Red Sox, so it all comes out in the wash.

The Bullpen – As Matthew Perry tells fantasy baseball owners “don’t pay for saves.” I used to say that Theo Epstein needed an Assistant General Manager in Charge of Shortstops. You need an Assistant General Manager in Charge of the Bullpen (or at least closers). Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan have done nothing for this team, and cost assets including Jed Lowrie, JJ Reddick, Mark Melancon and other prospects. Melancon is especially galling as you gave up on him after only one year despite the fact that relievers are notorious for their ups and downs, thereby allowing all Red Sox fans the joy of watching him post an otherworldly 1.38 ERA in 68.1 innings (and counting) for the Pirates. That said, you pulled Koji Uehara out of nowhere and watched as he retired 37 consecutive batters in one of the most dominant closing performances since Dennis Eckersley played in Oakland (further proving Berry’s point).

So all in all, you were right and I was wrong. What do you know, maybe you are more qualified for the job than I am…nah, let’s not push it. I’ll just stick with saying “I’m sorry.”

Confused and Grateful,

Chris Hallenbrook

PS – all stats were as of the end of day on 9/19/13

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @CHallenbrook.


2013 MLB Preview from Someone Who Doesn’t Care

In MLB on April 8, 2013 at 6:22 am

By Chris Carosi

I’m not a baseball fan. I enjoy the game, and I respect the game, but I do not follow it. Case it point: it took me about thirty seconds to start following the Giants since moving to San Francisco from Pittsburgh.

It is a bit easier when your hometown team is the Pirates. Here’s a bit of a strange myth that only baseball can keep going: the Pirates haven’t been to the playoffs since they traded Barry Bonds to the San Francisco Giants in 1992.

I’m doing this because this venue allows it. Let’s do this.

Bonds was thin and a League MVP more than once when he played for the Buccos. That’s the last thing that happened for them.

American League  East

The only division in baseball I can actually list the teams. Why? Yankees and Red Sox are burned into my medulla via ESPN. I’m going to go ahead and say that the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry will be key for this division. Also, the Rays get shafted with travel expenses by the League every goddamn year and that’s what they get for existing in Florida.

Because I pay attention to uniforms more than baseball, I realize the team name is just “Rays” and not “Devil Rays” anymore. That sucks. I mean, it’s just a ray of light? It’s intangible. Is it a particle or a wave? What does the color blue have to do with it? You can’t ride it like an underwater horse. The team is dead to me.

Who will win the division? Baltimore Orioles

What? Why them? Because no one has ever seen an oriole win anything

Dark horse: Toronto because Canadians are overrated as a people by rule

Was this a big deal? I don’t know who this is.

American League Central

Allow me to educate YOU about the American league Central from a casual baseball fan: “There’s a team in Kansas City?”

The Royals might be the most irrelevant sports franchise in the big 4. What was the last thing they did well? Be near some really good brisket? I think largely the Major Leagues are home to the most evil franchises in the U.S. The ones that keep their payroll purposefully low so the owners make a huge profit. Read also: Pirates, Pittsburgh.

But this division has the darker, cooler Chicago franchise. If I was a Chicagoan, I would never be caught dead rooting for a team that has a baby animal as their mascot like the Cubs. Just silly. Rooting for an article of clothing is much better.

Who will win the division? Detroit Tigers

What? Why them? Because they have descended back to earth

Dark horse: Minnesota Twins because Prince is from the Twin Cities.

Prince. Huge Twins fan.

American League West

Ah, the AL West, home to Jeff Gibby’s A’s and now the Astros, who moved over from the NL. See I knew that shit. They also have snazzy new unis that are very awesome. The Rangers won the pennant two years in a row recently but lost the World Series both times. I really enjoy that. Besides my surrogate relationship to the A’s via my current residence, this division sucks… I think.

Who will win the division? Oakland!

What? Why them? Elephant logo on their jerseys

Dark horse: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Located in Orange County South of Los Angeles

“Look at those angels… in the outfield…!”

National League East

Lots of heavy hitters in this division that is only slightly less annoying than the AL East. Philly sports I just loathe with abandon due to their strange entitlement and this. The Braves are a respectable but unlucky franchise and the Miami Marlins are just useless. That’s all.

Who will win the division? The Mets 

What? Why them? Because they are the Clippers of Major League Baseball

Dark horse: Seattle Mariners because seriously who would see that coming?

Okay, Mets, let’s talk about this. A baseball that somehow grew a body? That is some psychedelic shit right there.

National League Central

Home to my hometown Bucs, this division is dominated by the Cardinals year-in and year-out it seems. While the Cards remain the most successful franchise no one can remember, the rest of the division deals completely in raising expectations and disappointing leagues of unnecessarily loyal people. The Reds, Brewers, Pirates, and especially the Cubbies haven’t done a damn thing since Pete Rose had this haircut more often in public.

Who will win the division? Pittsburgh Pirates

What? Why Them? It has to happen at some point

Dark horse: The Pirates also. Just let it happen.

Look! The Pirates have a pierogies race. That is so Polish and awesome.

National League West

Home of my favorite team, the Giants. They are the defending champs and they are extremely strange when compared to other teams. From a media perspective, they are the best team to not have any kind of backing by the media. They’ve won the World Series twice in the last three years with no credit.

Buster Posey is a beast. That’s about it. Elsewhere the Dodgers succeed and fail by the phases of the moon and Jonathan’s Diamondbacks I have no clue at all. This division is always competitive. See that sounded pretty informed.

Who will win the division? Not the Giants so… Colorado?

What? Why Them? Working on it… Well, they do wear purple and that counts for something.

Dark horse: Arizona. There’s a lot of support from this blog for them I think.

world series trophy brian wilson

This guy exists.

So there you have it. There should be some time of fund built just in case I am actually right. I’ll see you at the games!

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