Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pre-Playoffs Notes

In 2012, myself and everyone else on the planet predicted that the Blue Jays would win the AL East.  And I've been critical of a few players all season.

Heading into October: Red Sox are in first place, Blue Jays sucked, and despite some challenging times throughout the course of the year, players like Napoli and Salty have put in a decent season.

So, amends must be made.  People like myself must be punished.  Going forward, this means I won't be ranting about Napoli or Salty that much -- a fair punishment, because this takes away half of my writing topics.  I won't even point out Salty's question defense... He has been catching more baserunners lately, though I'm not sure how much responsibility he bares for the wild pitch that placed the eventual winning run on third last night.  I watched the pitch from the Bud Deck and can't find a video highlight.  I know it was scored as a wild pitch, but I didn't have the greatest view and wanted to see the TV shot.

Regardless, I'm punished so I can only comment on how I can't comment on that.  Like 2004, this 2013 roster has a lot of players turning in unexpected career years (Koji, Carp, Nava, the emergence of Iglesias; and hell, Gomes almost counts since he's had only two better seasons).  In spring training, nobody was thinking "Carp is gonna kill it!" when he finally won a roster spot over Lyle Overbay.  And nobody thought "Koji is going to turn in one of the best seasons a closer has ever pitched!" with Bailey and Hanrahan starting the season in the bullpen. These performances are largely based on luck more than anything else; and I wouldn't expect to see them repeated.

But there's nothing like getting lucky in October.  Let's hope their streaks continue.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Patience, grasshoppers

I've had a lot of criticism regarding the Red Sox this season.  With the team playing white hot baseball right now, I've been reluctant to write about it because, honestly, I don't want to jinx it. 

After getting rest (and slumping) in August, Mike Napoli has been one of the key players for the Red Sox this month.  His strikeouts are down -- way down -- and he has 21 homers with 87 RBIs.  He's stayed healthy and vested all contract options, earning him the full amount of his one year deal.  His fielding at first base has been above average as well; though I wouldn't claim it's worthy of a gold glove. (Only reason why I bring that up is because some ESPN analysts are saying Napoli deserves a gold glove.)

Guess that means I have a heaping helping of crow to fuck my face with, right?

Maybe.  There are some troubling statistics to look at, though, before considering whether Ben should give Napoli a multi-year deal. 

First stat: How many stadiums has Napoli homered in?  Six -- Fenway, Yankee Stadium, Rogers Centre, Dodger Stadium, Angels Stadium, and SafeCo Field. 

Second: Of those stadiums, Napoli has hit 9 homers a Fenway, 5 at Rogers Centre, and 4 at Yankee Stadium -- that's 18 of his 21 HR reserve to just 3 ballparks. 

Third: Overall, Napoli has hit 6 homers against both Toronto and the Yankees.  With 12 homers against two teams, Napoli has scattered his other 9 homers. 

Finally, fourth: The quality of pitching Napoli tees off against is still sub-standard.  This month, he's homered against a minor league call up (Evan Reed), another minor league call up (Brett Marshall), a bad journeyman with a 6.04 ERA (David Huff), and Boone Logan.  Logan is the only decent pitcher out of that bunch -- the Yankees also found out that his elbow is injured.  He's currently day-to-day and hasn't pitched in a game since Napoli homered off of him. 

So the fourth stat is filled with 4 bums.  Napoli has doubled off of David Price and Alex Cobb, great pitchers, but he's just not bringing it against great pitchers.  

Like I mentioned, Napoli is striking out less and having a great month of September.  I hope he's working his swing to the point where he'll damage great pitchers in the playoffs, but since his power numbers are greatly weighted to certain teams and bad pitchers, I'm feeling some trepidation.

We just have to wait and see.