Multimedia: Projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam, from Oakland
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. He discusses the the Red Sox' challenges in the month of April, Clay Buchholz's tenuous hold on the fifth starter job, and J.D. Drew's health questions.
-The Red Sox have opened their season away from Fenway Park in six consecutive seasons, including this year.
-Boston was 1-3 last season at McAfee Coliseum. Since 2005, they are 4-9 in Oakland.
Red Sox vs. Joe Blanton
-Manny Ramirez, 9 for 15 (.600), 2B, 2 BB
-Dustin Pedroia, 3 for 8 (.375), 2 2B, BB
-David Ortiz, 5 for 15 (.333), HR, 2 BB
-J.D. Drew, 3 for 9 (.333)
-Mike Lowell, 4 for 14 (.286), BB
-Julio Lugo, 6 for 23 (.261), 2 2B
-Jason Varitek, 4 for 16 (.250), 2B, BB
-Kevin Youkilis, 3 for 12 (.250), 3 BB
-Jacoby Ellsbury, 1 for 5 (.200)
-Coco Crisp, 2 for 12 (.167), 2B, BB
-Sean Casey, 0 for 4, BB
-Alex Cora, 0 for 3
Blanton is 2-1 with a 3.76 E.R.A. in six career starts against the Red Sox.
A's vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka
-Kurt Suzuki, 1 for 2 (.500)
-Mark Ellis, 2 for 6 (.333), HR, BB
-Emil Brown, 1 for 5 (.200), BB
-Travis Buck, 1 for 7 (.143)
-Daric Barton, 0 for 1, 2 BB
-Jack Cust, 0 for 1, BB
-Jack Hannahan, 0 for 1, BB
-Rob Sweeney, 0 for 2
-Dan Johnson, 0 for 3
-Bobby Crosby, 0 for 5
Matsuzaka is 0-1 with a 3.00 E.R.A. in two career starts against Oakland.
GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT: Yesterday, you may recall, we linked to a Wall Street Journal statistical analysis that ranked Terry Francona 16th of the 20 managers listed. I made no comment on it, mainly because I thought the study was horribly flawed. (I only linked to it because I thought it was interesting. Not accurate, but interesting.) The flaw: Any system that spits out a conclusion showing a manager who's won two World Series in four years -- in a place where they hadn't won any World Series in the previous eight decades, a place where the pressure to win was all but suffocating, and with a team that, while very good, wasn't really head-and-shoulders better than some other teams -- to be in the lower quarter of all his peers, is clearly (clearly!) focusing on the wrong data.
And toward that end may I present Bill Reynolds' column on Michael Holley's excellent new book Red Sox Rule. Managing, writes Holley, isn't about writing out lineups or when to pull pitchers or whether or not to call for the hit-and-run, even though, says Reynolds, these are the things "that’s the fodder of talk shows and the morning newspaper." (And, perhaps most importantly, the Internet; I'll give Bill a pass on this one, since he's past the age where he's online-savvy.) It's about "managing people, no easy task in this age of huge salaries and guaranteed contracts, this age of agents and entitlement, this age of people who question anything anyone says, never mind someone who controls their fate." Francona's brilliant -- brilliant -- at that part of the gig. And that's the part the WSJ study completely ignored.
World Series championships aren't the be-all, end-all of a manager's competency -- Cito Gaston is living proof -- and I wouldn't want my defense of Francona to boil down to "He has two rings, doesn't he?" But WSJ was trying to take all subjective measures out of the analysis and focus directly on whether or not the team performs better or worse under each manager. Watching Francona handle this team over the last four years -- particularly last September, when he stood up to mounting hysteria as the lead over the Yankees dwindled and continued to do the things that best positioned the team for the postseason, a strategy that paid off as the Sox played their best baseball of the year in October -- convinces me that any study showing he's costing the team games isn't capturing the whole picture.
You can have Ron Gardenhire, Bruce Bochy and Ned Yost (who were 1-2-3 in the WSJ study). I'm sure they're fine managers. But I'll take Terry Francona, thank you.
STATE OF BIG PAPI: David Ortiz discusses a number of topics, including his surgically repaired knee ("It feels good one day and some other day it feels like [expletive]") with the Globe's Nick Cafardo.
ONE MAN'S CEILING . . . Barry Zito, the losing pitcher against Torre's Dodgers, continues to look like the biggest free-agent bust of this generation. The San Francisco Chronicle's Gwen Knapp buries him after yesterday's performance.
IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW YOU GET THERE: The Pirates blew a 9-4 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, but still managed to pull out a 12-11 win over the Braves. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) It spoiled the return to Atlanta of Tom Glavine, who left after five innings with a lead. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
A DIFFERENT WORLD: Most places -- this one included -- react harshly to players who leave for the riches of free agency. But Minnesota is gentler, kinder, and folks there had a warm welcome for Torii Hunter when he returned to town with the Angels last night. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
LAW OF THE LAND: The blog The Big Leadhas an interesting interview with ESPN's Keith Law, who says, among other things, that the Blue Jays -- for whom he was working when the deal was completed -- negotiated a terrible contract with A.J. Burnett ("a two-year player option, and I don’t see why any club would ever give a player an option like that . . . [you're] ceding your upside to the player and locking in your downside") and that baseball's real fans don't care about performance-enhancing drugs. ("The fans who are most up in arms over PED usage are bandwagon fans -- they didn’t care much about baseball, but they jumped on the train to complain about it, and when it’s over, they’ll disappear again.")