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Posts Tagged ‘Shane Victorino’

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.


Thoughts On MLB Deadline Deals

In MLB on August 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

Well, it’s the day after the MLB trade deadline, and I don’t know about you, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around some of the trades that happened not only last night, but leading up the cutoff as well.

Here’s a few that stuck out.

1. Yankees Trade For Ichiro

Like rainy weather and bitter Sonics fan, Ichiro Suzuki has been synonymous with the city of Seattle. That all changed last week though, when out of no where the Yankees came to town and decided to leave #51 before the series was even over.

See translator for what Ichiro said.

Seeing Ichiro in a jersey different than the Mariners might be strange, but this is 2012; Peyton’s not a Colt, Nash isn’t a Sun, and the world’s supposed to end. This also continues the long tradition of the Yankees obtaining any and all players they want, whenever they want. Not even the Lakers can say that. You thought it was strange seeing the Queen of England speak in a non-formal setting during the Olympics Opening Ceremony last week? Wait until the Yankees sign her to play shortstop once Derek Jeter retires. She’s going to be epic.

2. Dodgers Desperately Wish They Were The Yankees

Speaking of the Yankees, the Dodgers are doing everything they can to try to become NYY-West.

“Do I get to play shortstop again? I better get to play shortstop again.”

After entering Opening Day with what seemed like a ten-game lead in the division, the Dodgers now sit one game behind the Giants (even though they swept San Francisco last week), and are on the verge of getting swept by Arizona.

But at the trade deadline, it was like all of a sudden the owners realized they spent waaaaay too much money not to just buy whomever they please, so they traded for Marlins mainstay Hanley Ramirez, Philadelphia icon and outfield slugger Shane Victorino, and Mariner’s reliever Brandon League. Time will tell if the Dodgers can actually be like the Yankees and become perennial contenders due to their spending habits, or if they will be like every fan in LA wearing a Dodger hat. A wannabe.

3. Giants Right Wrong From Last Year

Last year, the Giants had a chance to get Hunter Pence, but went for the cheap and got Carlos Beltran instead. This season Beltran is having a great year, but the problem is he plays for St. Louis.

“I could have been doing this in a Giants uniform last year.”

Unlike a lot of teams out there, the Giants were quick to admit their mistake and went after the guy they should have gone after all along. The guy who might have prevented the team from having to watch the guys in Arizona jump into the pool last year. Quite frankly, Pence is what the Giants needed all along.

Although now that he’s a Giant, Hunter Pence Bobblehead Night, scheduled for August 31 in Philadelphia, might be a little problematic. Can those things quickly be repainted black and orange, and shipped across the country? Nope? You know what, don’t even worry about it.

4. Diamondbacks Continue To Trade Fan Favorites

Last year, the D-backs made a last second move and shipped Kelly Johnson to Toronto for John McDonald and Aaron Hill. Johnson was popular in Arizona, but nowhere near as popular as Ryan “Tatman” Roberts, whom they shipped to the Tampa Bay for an infielder prospect earlier in the week, then made a move on Astro’s third basemen Chris Johnson.

From one hot city with an expansion team to another.

With Hill becoming the first player in 80 years to hit two cycles in a single season, last year’s trade has so far worked out for Arizona. Regardless of what some are saying, if Chris Johnson’s Grand Slam debut against the Dodgers is any indication, maybe this reshuffling at Arizona’s hot corner might work out too. Either way, it’s always sad to see a fan favorite go.

5. The Rangers Will Be Damned If They Lose A Third Straight World Series

While missing out on a third-straight ring might endear the nation to the hard-luck franchise, the Rangers would rather have less fans and a trophy then consider the implications of expanding their market. Bring in Ryan Dempster, arguably the best available pitcher at the trade deadline.

“With the Cubs, I never won any games or a World Series. With the Rangers, at least I can win a lot of games!”

The A’s might be the best story in baseball right now, and the Angels got a lot better by adding Zack Greinke, but the Rangers have come too far to not do everything possible to get over the hump. Nolan Ryan thinks the team’s fans in Dallas deserve a parade. Heck, even the Mavericks were able to give the city one. Sometimes the world just isn’t fair.

6. Fire Sale In Miami!

No matter how you spin it, the Marlins are up to their old salary dumping tricks again. If they aren’t even going to try, neither am I.

“Everything must go!”

The Phillies Should Blow The Whole Darn Thing Up

In MLB on July 9, 2012 at 10:26 am

The Phillies won a World Series in 2008 (vs. the Rays) and lost one in 2009 (vs. the Yankees). Every year since, it’s seemed they’ve tried to make big moves to not only get back to the top of the mountain, but become perennial title winners as well. Over the years, they’ve brought aboard Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Hunter Pence and Jonathan Papelbon. They’re paying $104 million dollars just in Lee, Halladay, Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley alone. The team has been dropping bills to try to win rings.

So far, it hasn’t worked out so well for them.

Objective correlative for 2012 season.

This season, the Phillies have been bad. Really bad. I mean, almost as ugly as those old “Saturday Night Special’s” they wore in 1979.

They can’t pitch, they can’t hit, they can’t run bases, and they can’t play defense. Their relief pitching has been atrocious, and the best play Papelbon’s made so far was stopping a fan from running on the field (although, given how hilarious that was last time, it probably would have been more entertaining than anything the team’s shown this season).

Profile picture for life.

With so much invested in the Phillies roster, you’d think by the All-Star Game they’d have better than a 0.8% chance of making the playoffs, wouldn’t you?

Maybe those Saturday Night Specials aren’t so bad after all.

Going into the break, the Phillies are thirteen games under .500, with a record of 37-and-50. Their payroll is the second highest in the league, at $173,458,939, which is roughly $22 million (give-or-take) less than the New York Yankees. If you divide the Phillies payroll in half (since we’re only half-way through the season) then divide by the number of wins the team has produced, the Phillies are paying $2,344,039.72 for each win. In comparison, the Minnesota Twins have an almost identical record (36-49) and are only paying $1,306,736.11 per-victory.

No matter how you spin it, that is a bad investment. That is JP Morgan bad investment.

There are a lot of theories in the City of Brotherly Love on how to make the team pay a little less for each win. The team’s already been making minimal strides by shipping Jim Thome back out-of-town as fast as he arrived, and if Shane Victorino’s late scratch from Sunday’s game against the Braves means anything, he’ll soon be rested up and playing for a new team by the week’s end.

This picture is not relevant to the article.

If you’re the Phillies, that’s simply not going to cut it. I know the team doesn’t want to blow it all up before Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard return (which he did yesterday), but the Phillies have too much money invested for so few wins, especially when they’re paying Cliff Lee $10,750,000 for his one win of the season so far.

“Can you guys dump some Gatorade on me? This is the best day of my life!”

The first thing the Phillies need to do is trade 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels to a team who would be interested in a half-season, gun-for-hire rental. Teams like the Dodgers, White Sox, or Angels, who are in the fight but just need a little bit more pitching to get them over the hump.

After the Phillies trade Hamels, they need to back up a dump-truck filled with money to his house and try to re-sign him the day free agency starts. Hamels himself even said he’d be open to such a circumstance.

Think about it, right now the Phillies still owe Hamels $7.5 million for the rest of the season, and at that price, he simply isn’t worth it. He is still relatively young, and it’s a gamble he might not return to the team if traded, but considering how the Phillies are a bunch of overpaid old guys anyway, they are facing a serious rebuild mood very, very shortly. They could use Hamels as a valuable trade bait to acquire high-valued prospects. Apparently, the Phillies are asking for four-or-five prospects, but should lower that price to two-to-three, and hope really, really hard that they get him back.

The rest of the plan is relatively easy. The team is old and overpaid, and needs to get younger and cheaper. Victorino’s pretty much already gone, so while they’re at it, they should trade Lee to another team on the cusp and load up on even more prospects. Follow through with the rumors that pitcher Joe Blanton and third basemen Placido Polanco are also available. I know dumping salary is probably not exactly what you were expecting when I said something about making those wins cost a little less, but let’s be serious, this year’s a wash, look toward the future. The odds are so against the team making the playoffs that it would be better to dump salary, and add young, fresh faces that may or may not even play this year.

The beauty about this tactic is that even if the team gets loaded in the farm levels, you’re still the Phillies, meaning you’re still a team like the Yankees who can pretty much buy whomever you want, whenever you want. Dump the older guys who are not earning their keep, get a bunch of cheap, fresh new faces who will either one day become the old guys you overpay, or trade them for veterans to fill the roster.

Normally I’m not the one to toss a grenade in a clubhouse, just because things aren’t going the way management expected (unless you’re the Phillies, Red Sox, or Lakers, apparently) and usually I’m the one to say “the roster’s got too much talent to give up on,” when it looks like the nuclear option is about to take place. Normally (I think) I’m like that, but with 0.8% chance of the post season, and roughly 2.3 million dollars per win, every day they don’t meet expectations is just too damn expensive.

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