Clay Buccholz, Tiger Woods – Erratic Play Microcosm of Painkillers??

RedSox_Clay_Buchholz_2013

I was going to have a long conversation about this, and I’m not making any claims or allegations that any of these athletes are partaking in any of these drugs. But one makes you wonder when these guys go through debilitating back injuries, return “normal”, but then have so many focus and mechanical issues that don’t seem day-to-day consistent.

Woods has shown glimpses, glimpses mind you, of his old game where he also showcases he can still win a major at any point. But most of the points lead to failure, and more bewilderment of how physically he is capable, but simultaneously is stunted mentally still. And we are almost a half-decade in from the crazy situation that began his new mold.

Buchholz had gone through a back surgery, and a surge of medications to keep him physically pitching, and since mid-2012 this guy hasn’t been the same since. But he has.

One some games, Buchholz looks like one of the best pitchers in baseball. Other times, it seems like he’s totally not there. His change-up is there. Sometimes. His fastball is there. Sometimes. His control is there. Sometimes. His health is there. All the time recently, according to the Red Sox brass.

Even for a blogger, it is wrong to claim that a player’s performance is deteriorating based on an outside situation when there’s no evidence, or sometimes even when there is. Red Sox fans cobbled together Troy O’Leary’s decline toward the divorce of his wife in the early 2000s. We overlooked and were shocked to see Vin Baker’s quick departure from the Celtics organized by the hand of alcohol abuse.

I don’t know much about Tiger or not passionate enough to assume, but something I always wondered about how Buccholz can be so bad, but still sustain enough talent and prowess to be a great pitcher. I’m only running with the odds; if he had the yips he’d be out of the league. If I want to play the odds, thinking about whether his withdrawal from stopping chew or possibly adding/stopping painkillers seems a decent discussion.

There isn’t any discussion right now, and there should be. Clay Buchholz can easily be a number 1# and has shown it in the past. Just because we won a World Series doesn’t mean I don’t care about his future with us. But as someone who does care, I’d like to know more about why he disintegrated when hitting has declined to its lowest in decades.

Why isn’t he doing the same. What is holding him back. If it isn’t his health, since he is starting on the mound and will possibly for 2015, what other events could lead him to such an erratic play? Seeing how big the epidemic is in the Northeast, how it has taken a few star players down in the amateur and pro leagues, and seeing how his talent is still there on some days, I’m just looking at the odds.

Dusin Pedroia’s Struggles and The 2B Decline

Dustin Pedroia’s best year will be remembered as coming about in 2011, and we will not see a grand exposition of his talent that great from now on. And the Red Sox fan, as well as the general fans of baseball, will come to realize this in 2014.

He still will be a great player. But his 4K performance against the Reds is a sign that his consistency in contact and pestering pitchers won’t be as stable moving on forth. He’s getting a little bit slower, garnering only two steals nearly 25% into the season (and with a green-light holding manager to boot).

This isn’t even a knock on Pedroia due to his surprising start, but more to the history of 2nd basemen and how they fare after their 31st birthday. Fangraphs had brought it up last year questioning how much Cashman should invest in Robinson Cano. There was even a better one that I wished was titled better, since the article can be a template/warning on all 2nd basemens’ value after their prime.

Adding to the last article, which talks of how the position puts a lot of physical stress on the players, Pedroia’s mentality toward the game has only accelerated the process. At the same time, it is that same mentality that makes him such a tough out, such a great hitter, and such a gold glove fielder.

The sad thing is, at some point ( and we could be talking 2017 here, folks) the wear n’ tear will outmatch his aggressiveness, and he won’t live up to the caliber that will be needed to get the Sox another title. I’m sure the organization’s recent contract was given to him as sort of a deferred-style setup, whereby the assume he’ll produce for the next 4-5 years, and he’ll essentially be paid $20+ million per year doing so.

It also helps because if he does continue to produce, they don’t have to go through the arbitration process or headache situation of whether they should pay a 38-year old player one extra year. Especially at a point where it becomes a marketing issue of having your face of the team retire as Red Sox.

Where it doesn’t help, and where the Red Sox might’ve created a dangerous situation down the road, is their long-term plan for Mookie Betts. You now have a situation of a player in decline alongside a rising star in the minor league ranks. You have a fanbase that wants to win, and a player that defined winning for this team for a decade. You have the statistics of all the 2nd basemen that have come and gone, and you have a trade-friendly contract that can be dealt if they choose to go that route down the road.

The Red Sox don’t sacrifice players in their system unless they get a valuable need in return, and 2012 might be looked back on how it brought about mistrust of management toward outsourcing talent in the free agent/trade market.

Betts, along with Jesse Owens and Bogaerts, might be the guys they want to be on the field in 3 years. Jon Lester and Pedroia made this team great for a long time; sadly, our young talent is knocking on the door, asking when that time might be up. Lester is more about the money, and the Red Sox have a choice to determine a future with Lester.

As with Pedroia, his future depends on being great. If not, the Red Sox will be coming upon one of the hardest decisions this organization has ever faced.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia Scouting Report (2012 & Beyond)

Saltalamacchia Recent Updates

Saltalamacchia Analysis

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is going to be a great hitter in 2012. He has had one year where management protected him by giving him playing time and trusting his growth. He had Varitek as a mentor for one full year. He has had many upgrades to his batting style and mechanics. And now he has a mostly full spring training without the pressure of becoming the main catcher for the Red Sox staff.

What makes last year such a good year, and what last year might showcase for this year, is that he had been a good hitter at the bottom of the lineup where the offense was extremely erratic. You had JD Drew who missed a great deal of time, and was pretty useless providing offense when playing. You had Carl Crawford who struggled through the entire season. You had Marco Scutaro who didn’t heat up until late in the season. And you had the left-fielder by committee that put very few people on base for Salty to drive in.

Salty himself was very erratic, but had very little protection for his bat as many pitchers pitched around him. He didn’t help his cause either by chasing bad pitches. Now with Cody Ross, Mike Aviles, and a healthy(er) Crawford in the bottom of the lineup, it solidifies offense that will not only protect Saltalamacchia, but allow him to produce regularly, and get better balls to put in play.

Having runners-on-base consistently will give him consistency that he didn’t have last year. This consistency will allow him to grow, to gain confidence in his bat, and become a huge force at catcher for years to come.

2012 is the year of the Salt. You heard it here first.

Jose Iglesias Scouting Report (2012 & Beyond)

Jose Iglesias Recent Updates

March 27th 2012

Jose Iglesias has been optioned to AAA-Pawtucket by the Red Sox. Iglesias and veteran infielder Mike Aviles has been battling for the shortstop spot during Spring Training.

It has been mentioned that management wanted to have Aviles play over Iglesias, but that Bobby Valentine wanted to sacrifice the bat and have great defense with Iglesias starting instead. Management won out, possibly because the need to get at-bats for the 22-year old phenom so his bat can be better for 2013. Remember, he has had only 1 homerun in his 3-year minor league career.

Craziness: Manny Picked the Red Sox to Win In 2009

We constantly bash the guy, and all he has to say is the most practical comments of any athlete of our time.

I’m sorry, I miss Manny Ramirez, and the Red Sox will never be the same without him. A dickhead, but can you have any hard feelings for the guy after this interview with Nick Cafardo? One quote from the interview:

I picked them to win. I thought they had the better pitching. I couldn’t believe it.