Bloody Sox

Red Sox Rants — and other random opinions about sports

Archive for the month “January, 2009”

All-Time Red Sox Team: First Base

A lot of players have stood over at first base for the Red Sox in the forty years I’ve been a fan, but three of them stand out. First, is Carl Yastrzemski, who played 765 games at first, mostly in the 1970s. But Yaz can never be thought of as anything but the left fielder for the Red Sox, so we will turn to the other two standout first basemen:

If I were basing this choice strictly on offense, Mo Vaughn would be the hands down winner. In 1996 he batted for a .326 average while amassing 44 homeruns and 143 RBI — yet he only finished 5th in the MVP voting — huh? He was an all-star three times for the Red Sox and MVP in 1995.

But fielding does matter on my team, and that’s why Kevin Youkilis is the other Sox first baseman of note. He holds the record for most errorless games in a row by a first baseman, and won the gold glove in 2007. But his offense ain’t bad. We’ll see if 2008 turns out to be a career year, or a typical year. Youkilis gets on base and he makes the pitcher pitch. In addition he can play third base, and I also award points for versatility.

So my all-time Red Sox first baseman is Kevin Youkilis. Next up: Second Base


All-time Sox team: Catchers

Well, with spring training about a month away, it’s time to fill these space with some really useless chatter. (What, you think my previous comments are pretty useless?!) So this is going to be the first installment in a series naming my all-time Red Sox team.

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Eligible players had to have played the bulk of their careers with the Red Sox during the era in which I have been a fan — which means starting in 1969. So, Ted Williams, Frank Malzone, etc… are not eligible.
  2. Only players who spent three or more years with the Sox are elligible (so Dustin Pedroia is not yet eligible).
  3. Only the player’s performance as a Red Sox player counts (so if I name Dennis Eckersley my closer, I only get the Eck at the end of his career).

Make sense? Anyway, to get this show on the road, I’ll begin by selecting my all time Red Sox catcher. Really this comes down to two men: Jason Varitek and Carlton Fisk.

When I first considered the question of who was the best catcher in my Red Sox experience, I thought, “This is a no brainer; Carlton Fisk!”  But looking over each player’s stats with the team, I find they are remarkably similar. In fact, Fisk hit 162 home runs in a Red Sox uniform and Varitek has (so far) hit 161. Both players are hard-nosed, old-school catchers. Varitek is renown for his preparation and ability to work with pitchers.

Fisk, however, was a special player during his time. Rookie of the year in 1972. Seven-time all-star in a Red Sox cap. Top ten in MVP voting three years. Fisk is a New Englander. And, finally, Fisk is at the center of one of the great Red Sox moments of all time — his thrilling walk-off home run in Game Six of the 1975 World Series. 

So, my all-time Red Sox catcher is — yes, it is a no-brainer afterall: Carlton Fisk.

Next up: First Base

Voters serve up Rice dish!

Congratulations to Jim Rice, newest member of the Cooperstown elite.  It took 15 years, but Jim Ed finally scaled the walls of the Baseball Hall of Fame. As I have already written, I approached Rice’s candidacy with two minds. The purest part of me thought, “No, Jim Rice was not a great enough player to be inducted into the hall of fame.” But then I thought that if I were choosing a team, I’d select Jim Rice in his prime over many of the players who are in the hall.

So I am glad he has made it in. I think playing for the same team for 16 years also merits reward. That’s been very rare, and getting rarer.

The empty “failure”

On the Boston Globe’s Tony Massarotti once again characterized the Yankee signing of Mark Teixeira as a Red Sox failure:

… given where the Red Sox are today in the wake of the Teixeira failure, we have no choice but to move forward and ask the only question that matters: Where do the Sox go from here?

Since when did deciding you weren’t going to over pay for a player constitute a failure? This is getting to be a tired refrain from Mazz. The Red Sox offered MT (or “Empty” as I now refer to him) more money than any Red Sox player has ever made — more than Carl Yastrzemski, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Jim Rice, Nomar Garciaparra, Manny What’shisname, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, or Ted Williams — and not just for four years, but for eight! And Empty turned it down to go to the Yankees. Fine.

NOT A FAILURE. A wise business move. Don’t overpay for talent — something I wish the Sox had exercised two years ago when they signed J.D. Drew… but that’s another story.

Now the Sox are turning their attention to other matters. I hope that Rocco Baldelli is able to overcome his chronic illness. He seems like a great person and a hell of an athlete. Healthy, he will really help this team in ’09. I love signing Smoltz — although a guaranteed $5 million for a 41-year-old pitcher coming off shoulder surgery seems a little high. But I think there is a good chance he can bolster the pitching staff at the all-star break and beyond.

Some are suggesting the signing of Smoltz and Penny means the Sox will be willing to part with Clay Bucholz to acquire Jarrod Saltalamacchia… I hope so, but I wouldn’t count on it. For all his bloodlessness, Theo seems to have a crush on his own draft picks. Look how long he hung onto Craig Hanson!

Nevertheless, I fairly pleased with the off-season so far. I think the Yankees might be a little better than last year, but I don’t think they’ll run away with it. And there’s even a chance they’ll implode the way Detroit did in ’08. I mean, this is a team with some egos almost as big as their paychecks… and that’s some mighty big.

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