Wednesday, March 25, 2009


There are two teams that have me worried. And the Orlando Magic are not one of them. The Celtics may have lost tonight, but an 84-82 defeat with only 17 minutes and 4 points from Kevin Garnett is nothing to be ashamed of. The Magic may have secured the inside track to the East's 2nd seed, but judging by the crowd noise tonight, Orlando will seem more like home for the C's.

Even without KG, the Celtics probably should have taken this one. They turned the ball over 18 times, and their strategy down the stretch seemed to be to draw fouls instead of make shots. Orlando seemingly tried to give this game to the C's, attempting stupid 3 pointers. Dwight Howard had 0 4th quarter points.

But a possible playoff match with Orlando doesn't seem that bad. When healthy, the Celtics are a better team. Not only that, they have playoff success, and the confidence that brings.

C's play the Hawks in Atlanta Friday night.


Photo Credit:
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack


Curt Schilling announced his retirement the other day. As if we didn't know that was going to happen. The only thing that surprised me was that it needed announcing.

Curt has 20 MLB seasons under his belt, 3 World Series rings, an immaculate postseason record, 216 wins, 3,116 strikeouts, and a 3.46 ERA in a hitter's era. So does he get a plaque in Cooperstown?

Here are the arguments for and against induction, followed by my conclusion.

The Argument for Induction:
Curt is one of, if not the best postseason pitchers ever. In 19 stars, he's 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA. In 133.1 IP, he's struck out 120, walked 25, and has a WHIP of 0.968. He was the 1993 NLCS MVP, the 2001 World Series co-MVP, and we all remember The Bloody Sock (the namesake of this blog). In World Series play, he's 4-1, with a 2.06 ERA.

He was a 6 time All-Star, and started the game twice. His 3.46 career ERA came in a highly offensive and steroid influenced era. The League ERA during his career was nearly a run higher (4.41).

He's 15th all-time in strikeouts, and 13th all-time in K/9IP. He's got 83 complete games and 20 shutouts. He has the 2nd best strikeout to walk ratio of all-time at 4.38.

He had three 20+ win seasons (2001, 2002, 2004). He had eight seasons of 15+ wins. He finished 2nd in Cy Young voting 3 times.

He changed the history of franchises. When he came to Arizona, they won their first World Series in his first full season. When he came to Boston, the Red Sox won their first title in nearly 9 decades, largely thanks to his 21-6 record in the regular season, and his 3-1 record in October.

The Argument Against Induction:
Curt's a phenominal postseason performer, but do 19 games make a Hall of Famer? Two full seasons of dominance weren't good enough to get Roger Maris into Cooperstown. Bret Saberhagen also had two utterly dominant seasons, and he's not in. There's no denying Schilling's place among the best postseason players in the game, but is 19 games worth a ticket to the Hall?

To me, there are two kinds of Hall of Famers. Compilers, and dominators. Compilers are consistent over long stretches of time. Every year, they get their 17 wins, or 25 homeruns; and over time, they have impressive numbers. The dominators have stretches of a few seasons in which they obliterate their competition. Think Sandy Koufax's 6 year stretch of unbelievable dominance. And of course, the all-time greats, the Babe Ruths, the Walter Johnsons - they're both compilers and dominators.

But Schilling is neither. His career totals are not overwhelmingly impressive. 216 wins is  very good, but not great. He's 80th in wins, tied with Charlie Hough, and 3 behind Kenny Rogers. Tommy Bond has more wins. David Wells has more wins. Frank Tanana and Jamie Moyer have more wins.

He is 15th in strikeouts all-time, but this is the Age of the K. 3,116 strikeouts are impressive, but when hitters get struck out 100 times a season without batting an eye, is it really that impressive? I'm not saying it's easy, but 3,000 Ks don't mean what they used to. There are 16 members of the 3,000 strikeout club. Before 1998, there were 10. So in 11 years, the club has grown by 60%.

One stat Schilling has compiled is home runs allowed. He's given up 347. That's 26th all-time.

Schilling wasn't a dominator, either. No Cy Young Awards reside in his trophy case. He never led his League in ERA, only led in WHIP twice, only led in strikeouts twice, only led in wins twice.

He finished 2nd in Cy Young voting three times. Two of those times, the winner received all the 1st place votes. In 2001, Schilling received two 1st place votes, compared to Randy Johnson's 30.

His early career is full of inconsistency. He was a journeyman, traded from Boston to Baltimore to Houston to Philadelphia. He was great in '92 and '93, then returned to his inconsistent ways before emerging as a #2 type pitcher in his last years with the Phillies.

Of his 20 seasons, only 10 didn't suck.

Schilling is a great pitcher, and his place in Phillie, Diamondback and Red Sox history/lore is secure. If there were a Hall of Fame just for postseason play, he'd be a first-ballotter. But he does not belong in the real Hall of Fame. He lacks big career numbers, and he lacks individual years of dominance. He was never the best pitcher in his League. And when he was 2nd best, it was a distant 2nd. He has three World Series rings, but always on teams with complimentary elite pitchers like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Josh Beckett.

Jack Morris has 254 wins and is not a Hall of Famer. Bert Blyleven, well everyone knows that story. Schilling will probably get in because of his postseason play, his high profile, and his World Series rings. And I won't protest or be outraged. I'll just quietly disagree, and engage in the argument when it is presented.


Possible super lame nickname for the Red Sox outfield:

The Triple J Ranch

For the first time this century, the Red Sox start a season without Manny Ramirez penciled in as left-fielder. It's still strange. But necessary. Manny's offseason demands hopefully demonstrated to even the most ardent Manny apologist (Bill Simmons), that he is a spoiled brat and a loose cannon.


Jason Bay's the left-fielder, and he's the most reliable of the three starters out there. He hit .293 in his time with the Sox last year, and had 101 RBI between the Sox and Pirates. He performed solidly in October, which had been a concern. He hit .341 in the playoffs with 9 RBI and 3 HR.

With his performance last year, it seems he's back to his usual form. An average hovering between .290 and .300, a very good OBP that approaches .400, and a tidy .550 slugging percentage.

I'm very interested to see where Bay ends up in the lineup. It could be 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, even leadoff. He's versatile enough to do an adequate job wherever he hits, and he seems to have the disposition of someone who'll do what he's asked without a problem.

Jacoby Ellsbury's overrated until proven otherwise. We all fell in love with him in September and October of 2007. But since then, he's been strictly mediocre. Yeah, yeah, he steals bases. Whoopty doo. But what good are stolen bases if you can't even get ON BASE?

Ellsbury's 0 for 14 in the ALCS was a major reason the Sox lost the series. Nobody else wants to say it, but it's the truth. His .280 average was nice, but batting average isn't as important as OBP. His was .336. That's only .023 higher than Varitek's. He also struck out twice as often as he walked. At the very least, Ellsbury and these subpar numbers were far from leadoff material.

Until he proves otherwise, I'm afraid he's a bottom of the lineup player.

Then there's the Great Enigma in right field. JD Drew. A man capable of this...

And this...

also has multiple yearly flings with the disabled list. He had a .408 OBP last year, but only played in 109 games. This year, he's already gotten cortisone injections for his back. It's strange. He's got some bizarre form of hypochondria. He always thinks his back is hurting him.

Nobody's going to call him Iron Man anytime soon. But he's still a solid ballplayer, and the Sox still desperately need his production, when he happens to make it in the lineup. He had 6 RBI in the postseason, not great, not bad. He had a .250 average in the LCS (bad), but had a .379 OBP (good). In two years with the Sox, he's had some big hits.

He'll hit around 20 HRs, maybe more. He'll flirt with .300 and end up in the .280 to .290 range. RBIs might be hard to come by, depending on where he ends up in the lineup. He may even be the leadoff hitter for a good part of the season.

Brad Wilkerson will be a backup outfielder when the season begins, but I don't see much of a place for him once Kotsay returns. Jeff Bailey can play the outfield and Wilkerson is a pretty light hitter.

Rocco Baldelli is one of the players Sox fans might be most anxious to see. The Woonsocket product was once one of the best up-and-coming players in the game. His ability to play every day has diminished, but he can fill-in for Drew or Ellsbury against lefthanders (he hit .292 vs. LHP last year).

A serious question with Baldelli is this. Drew is liable to miss a few weeks at a time. Ellsbury doesn't need much rest, but there's a good chance he hits .150 in his first 200 at-bats and needs to be replaced. Is Baldelli up to playing everyday for 2 or 3 weeks at a time?

Mark Kotsay and Jeff Bailey are also options. Kotsay is out until at least May. Bailey can latch on as an outfielder and can play first base, so I think he's likely to make the 25 man roster, especially with Kotsay out. With Wilkerson's offensive troubles, Baldelli's health problems, and Kotsay's injuries, Bailey might be JD Drew's #1 backup out there in right.