Saturday, January 14, 2006

It's Over 

So, the run of 10 straight postseason wins is over. The Patriots have finally lost. I sit here right now feeling pretty dejected. It's a weird feeling. I'm a 10x bigger Sox fan than Pats fan, yet I wasn't nearly this upset when the Sox were bounced last postseason. Maybe it's because I knew deep down that the Sox weren't good enough to win it all (though I thought they could take Chicago), while I felt the Pats were certainly good enough to win another title.

The streak obviously had to end at some point. This team was by no means invincible, but the way they lost tonight was just brutal. The stalwarts of this team were the ones making the blunders. Brady being intercepted by Champ Bailey in the endzone; Brown flubbing a punt return; Vinatieri muffing a field goal he should have hit. In other words -- we were watching the Bizarro Patriots.

There's just not much you can do about it I guess. You're not going to win on the road while committing 5 turnovers. Everything just went downhill following the bogus 40+ yard pass interference penalty.

If the Pats were to play the Broncos tomorrow, it's a closer game. These are mistakes that just don't normally happen. Oh well. We'll be back next season.

One bright spot -- Ben Watson. That was such an all-pro play, I don't even know where to begin. The juxtaposition between Watson and that punk Bailey was so clear as you watched that play unfold. It's a shame there weren't better camera angles because it's very possible that ball was knocked through the endzone. We'll never know though.

The good news: Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers in about four weeks and I can't wait.

What the hell is 'Alligator Button' anyway? 

I'm sure you're all wondering to yourselves, "what the hell does 'Alligator Button' even mean?" Well, I'm here to explain it to you.

My very first memory from Little League was being taught how to properly field a groundball. My coach explained the process as having two steps.

The first step, alligator, was when you squared yourself up to the ball, with both arms out in front of you - your glove hand on the bottom, and your bare hand on top.

When the ball reached your glove, you would essentially snap your bare hand down into the glove, a la an alligator snapping his mouth together.

From here, you would grab the ball with your free hand, and execute the second move, button. This move consisted of simply pulling both of your arms up towards your belly button while rotating your body so that your front shoulder was facing your target.

When done properly, each part of the process would flow smoothly, finishing in a perfect throw to the first baseman.

I chose to name this blog 'Alligator Button' because I felt it represented what is pure and perfect about the game of baseball. Those days I spent on that Little League diamond were some of the best days of my childhood. Hopefully someday I will be able to pass the Alligator Button onto my son.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Update: Manny to the Phils? 

Turns out the entire thing was a hoax. A co-worker was able to gain access to ilovekruk's computer and posted the fake rumors. Though I still don't understand the Speegs619 posts from the phillies.com message board. Were they related? Who knows.

I was able to speak to Ken Davidoff of the NY Daily News today, and he was able to confirm with two of his sources that the Sox and Phillies were indeed talking about Manny. So maybe there is something there after all.

I don't know whether to be upset or relieved that the rumors ended up being false. Manny is Manny. He's gonna knock in a shitload of runs, whether he's upset or not. I've just really been warming up to these defensive metrics, and Manny is rated one of the worst defenders in the game. Although Abreu isn't anything special with the glove, he would have been an upgrade.

I think I was mostly excited because one of the rumors claimed Jason Michaels was involved. I've been in love with that kid all off-season. However, in an article that was released this afternoon, Sox co-GM Jed Hoyer stated that the front office is burning up the phone lines in search of a center fielder, and that they will eventually acquire "a very good" center fielder for 2006. Hopefully Michaels is that guy.

Song of the Day: dredg's Ode to the Sun

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My Mission Statement 

It's presently the wee hours of Thursday, January 12, 2006. Although I've always found writing down goals and objectives to be kind of hokey, I suddenly have the urge to write my own personal mission statement. I just completed the best semester of school of my entire life, and for the first time, I'm incredibly proud of myself academically.

Not a night goes by that I don't lie in bed and imagine myself, four months from now, working with the front office of the Boston Red Sox. My vision is suddenly so clear. I know exactly what I want to do, and I'm going to do everything possible to get there.

I want to be an integral part of a major league front office. A front office that fields a championship caliber team year in and year out. A relentless offense. A filthy pitching staff. I want to be a driving force in a front office that builds a farm system that can only be described as a prospect factory.

The stat-heads are changing the game. I want to be a part of the revolution. I want to learn everything I can about stats, about analysis, about the game itself. It's history. It's future. What wins ballgames? What are the keys to unlocking a player's potential? What are the keys to unlocking my potential?

For whatever reason, nothing fascinates me as much as baseball rumors. They may just be rumors, but they are the foundation of what it means to build a baseball team. Each rumor is a debate. Would this move be good for the team? What are the positives? What are the negatives? Will this trade help us in the long run? With each possible acquisition, these questions need to be addressed. I want to be the one answering these questions and the one pulling the trigger.

That's my dream and I guess only time will tell.

Millar, Baltimore getting close to deal 

Today's Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting that, in a continuing effort to fill out their 25-man roster, the Orioles are in escalating discussions with former Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar on a one-year deal.

Well, you know what. Good for him. I've always liked Kevin. He may not have been the best player in the game, although he was pretty solid prior to 2005, but he was someone I atleast enjoyed rooting for. Baseball is supposed to be fun, and Kevbo proved that. It'll be nice to see him 19 times next season.

Although I did not want him back on this Sox this coming season, I did feel bad for him when he said he hadn't really been approached by anyone in regards to 2006. Well, Kev, here's your shot. Best of luck to ya. Peace.

4 Albums I'm Diggin' Right Now 

Radiohead - OK Computer

Yeah, yeah, it's one of the best albums of the 90s, and I'm only now getting around to it. I always liked Radiohead, but never enough to pick up an entire album of theirs. What a friggen mistake that was. I'm now completely hooked on Radiohead and have since downloaded every one of their albums. Anyways, about OK Computer. Save for Fitter Happier, this album is pretty much perfect. It's sorta dark, very spacey, and 100% original. The perfect atmosphere for this album is in the car at night, with the windows down, and the volume way up. If you don't get lost in Thom Yorke's voice, you need to get your head checked. My favorite song from the album is Lucky, particularly the lines 'pull me out of the aircrash / pull me out of the lake / cause I'm your superhero / we are standing on the edge.'

Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Verrrry different from the generally depressing outpouring of Conor Oberst. The hopeful songs are a total curveball from Oberst. Not only that, but the album is driven by Conor's acoustic guitar. It's a stripped-down folksy album, and he absolutely pulls it off. One of those albums that you love from the very first listen.

The Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I

I guess we'll call it pop music. I don't even know, but it fucking rocks. Bought this album on a whim, and I'm glad I did. The trippy techno beats are my favorite parts of the album. I hear bits and pieces of Weezer, Radiohead, and a million other bands over the course of the album.

Wilco - Kicking Television: Live in Chicago

This two-disc set is of excellent quality for a live show, and the songs are just different enough from the studio versions to keep your interest. Jeff Tweedy's voice is filled with emotion and the guitar solo on At Least That's What You Said is downright fucking fantastic. From beginning to end, this album is entertaining. One of the better live albums I've ever heard.

Honorable Mentions:

Nada Surf - Let Go
Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary
The Fire Theft - The Fire Theft
The Good Life - Album of the Year

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Red Sox acquire the ugliest man in baseball 

The man I am referring to is Julian Tavarez.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that Julian Tavarez and the Red Sox have agreed to a two-year deal with a vesting option. Per usual, the deal is contingent upon Tavarez passing a physical.

No salary figures are currently available, but Rotoworld.com is speculating that the deal is likely worth around $4 million per season, which is fair.

Since being converted into a reliever three years ago, Tavarez has posted ERA+'s of 116, 175, and 125. Not too shabby. Unfortunately, he averages less than an inning per outing. Hopefully he will be able to take some innings away from Timlin, who's arm is probably still sore from last season.

The funny thing is, I didn't really like this signing at all, until I looked more closely at the numbers. Due to Tavarez' ugliness, I figured he was atleast 37 years old. Wrong. He's only 32. I also still had his unsuccessful run as a starter etched in my mind. I wasn't aware how effective he's been since becoming a reliever. In other words, this is a great signing.

Finally the front office is putting a premium on relievers. In years past, the bullpen had been overlooked and once one or two relievers broke down, we'd be signing trailer trash like Jimmy Anderson, et al to fill in. Not surprisingly, the results were disasterous.

Yeah, some detractors might say, "the bullpen is too right-handed!" or "we've got way too many pitchers for one bullpen!" Well, folks, you're wrong on both accounts. The Angels haven't had a left-handed reliever in about 3 years, and I'm pretty sure all would agree that they've had one of the better bullpens in the league. As one poster noted on SoSH, "you don't need left-handed relievers, you just need relievers that can get left-handers out." Amen.

And as for the people say we've got too many relievers for one bullpen, they need to be reminded that you can never have enough pitching depth.

Currently, the list of pitchers who have a shot at the Sox bullpen out of Spring Training looks like this:

RH Keith Foulke
RH Mike Timlin
RH Jonathan Papelbon
RH Guillermo Mota
RH Rudy Seanez
LH Lenny DiNardo
RH Jamie Vermilyea
RH Julian Tavarez
RH Craig Hansen
RH Manny Delcarmen
RH Cla Meredith
RH Jermaine Van Buren

Clearly, we'll be able to field six-seven VERY solid relievers from this bunch. The rest can either be trade bait or be stashed in AAA. Seeing a list of 10+ above-average relievers should be a sight for sore eyes if you're a Sox fan. For once, the bullpen may be a strength all season long.

Last, but certainly not least, the acquisition of Julian Tavarez brings back memories of my boy Mark Bellhorn belting a 2-run homer off of Tavarez to break a 9-9 deadlock in the opening game of the 2004 World Series. I can still hear the ball smashing into Pesky's Pole.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Three Batters That Will Bust Out in 2006 

Projection: .284 AVG, .392 OBP, .445 SLG

Projection: .275 AVG, .350 OBP, .504 SLG

Projection: .280 AVG, .395 OBP, .420 SLG

Song of the Day - The Dismemberment Plan's The City

Manny to the Phils? 

This afternoon, a poster from the Philadelphia Phillies message board, PhilliesPhans.com, passed this tidbit along:

"Manny will be a Phillie:

I'm back. I had to come out of retirement to post this.

This is basically a done deal with some minor issues to iron out. I would anticipate a press conference later this week.

Abreu will be involved."

Supposedly this guy is connected, and has reported other rumors that have come to fruition, so let's just play along, and assume he knows what he's talking about.

Now, the framing of "Abreu will be involved" leads me to believe that it isn't going to just be a straight up Manny-for-Abreu swap. Other players will be involved. Earlier this offseason, it was reported that the Phils had interest in Matt Clement. If that interest is still there, a Manny/Clement for Abreu/Michaels/B Prospect swap would be perfect. As of right now, the Phils have no use for Michaels. He's too good of a player to come off the bench, and deserves a starting job.

Bill James projects Michaels at .304/.400/.454 for 2005. He would solve the CF/Leadoff spot perfectly.

Abreu could move over to RF, with the ever-slowing Nixon moving to LF. The defensive upgrade from Manny to Abreu would more than likely make up for downgrade offensively.

It's a deal I'd definitely be willing to make, as I've been high on Jason Michaels this entire offseason.

Jay Payton: Part II? 

On Monday, the Boston Globe's Gordon Edes wrote:

"The Sox also continue to talk with the Dodgers and Athletics about a possible three-way deal involving David Wells, who would go to LA, while the Sox would facilitate the return of Jay Payton to Boston, with Payton presumably happier in an everyday role than he was as a backup last year."

I'll pass. While I think we can land a solid player for Wells, and Payton may well be a solid player, I would only be lukewarm about his return to Fenway. This isn't even taking the BS he pulled last season into consideration. He just doesn't excite me as a player. And any player that pulls fake tantrums to get himself shipped out of town isn't the type of playing I want on my team. I want all 25 guys pulling on the same rope. Jay Payton ain't about that.

Now if you swap Mark Kotsay for Payton, I'll listen. Oakland currently has three centerfielders on their roster (Payton, Kotsay, and Milton Bradley), and it's quite obvious the front office is trying to pry one of them away. A year or so ago, Peter Gammons claimed that several teams rated Kotsay as the best defensive centerfielder in the game. With chucklehead Manny Ramirez in LF and the ever-slowing Trot Nixon in RF, a solid defensive centerfielder will have the opportunity to save tons of runs.

Both Bill James and Ron Shandler project Payton to have a substandard season in '06, while they both project Kotsay to post an OPS approaching .800.

He's the player I want. Jed, Ben -- get it done.

Song of the Day - Radiohead's Airbag

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