Archive for February, 2015

The Boys from Boston will hit in 2015.  Will they pitch is the question?

Ramble:  While the off-season additions to the offense are to be applauded (though the money spent was ridiculous), the bats will center around David Ortiz.  If Papi is healthy, thus productive, the Red Sox thrive.  Sandoval, Ramirez, Pedroia, Betts, Bogaerts and Napoli will prosper with Ortiz in the middle who will create a sizable secondary effect for Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.  Sandoval and Ramirez in Fenway could post better numbers than ever before, especially Sandoval.  Napoli, who seemed to just miss lofting that deep fly ball over the Monster countless times in 2014, will have a better than average year as he ends his contract with Boston (and, no, Ben better not re-sign him).  Chili Davis as the hitting coach should spur on the boys through thick, thin and long road trips.  However, no media relationship advice will be offered.

Outfield:   Jackie Bradley Jr had his chance in 2014, but t’was not to be.  His behavior issues in Pawtucket, post-Boston, should earn him an opportunity elsewhere.  Thus, Mookie Betts.  Mookie in center is a good fit.  He covers ground, and Lord knows he will need to with Hanley Ramirez attempting to absorb a quick learning curve in left.  As opposed to Bradley Jr., Mookie was a quick study at the plate.  Shane Victorino in right is not definite.  Shane, along with Allen Craig, are the two veterans without a guaranteed position.  If Victorino hits, he plays.  If he struggles, he’s traded, and traded quickly.  The mystery man is Rusney Castillo.  Victorino stands in the way of required at bats.  Rusney needs to play.  And, as always (well at least the last few years), Daniel Nava stands in the shadows waiting for somebody to ask him to dance.

Infield:  Set.  Naps, Pedrioa, Sandoval and Bogaerts.  Napoli has developed into an above average first baseman.  Dustin is the ultimate dirt dog.  Xander needs to continue to master the small things that make a great shortstop (moving him to third is ill advised).  Pablo, with little range, plays a smart hot spot, less the occasional dirt flop as the ball scoots into left.  Brock Holt brings value at a great price.

Catching:  Ryan Lavarnway went from heir apparent to first baseman/dh suspect for untold reasons.  Christian Vasquez, without David Ross, has a lot to learn in a short time.  The Blake Swihart succession talk must stop.  Blake needs at least one more year riding buses, maybe two.  Ryan Hanigan, given half a chance, may well give Vasquez a challenge for playing time.  Who, oh who, will gather the starting pitching’s confidence?

DH:  Ortiz in the batter’s box is always a sight to behold.  Think Santa down the chimney.  Never gets old.  As rest is required, look for Allen Craig, Napoli and possibly Castillo (get those at-bats)  to find Sunday time as the designated hitter.

Starting Pitching:  Otherwise known as What Makes 2015 A Boom Or Bust.  Buchholz is the number one starter.  When reading the Globe, I marvel at the inability (refusal?) to acknowledge that Clay is the number one guy.  Who else?  The guy who listens to the radio via headset a few rows from the protective netting?  In no particular order or until John Farrell and Juan Nieves are ready to say:  Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson, Brandon Workman will form the two-five spots.  A deep group from which to choose.

Relief Corps:  Perhaps Koji Uehara closes.  Perhaps implies perhaps not.  Alexi Ogando was a quality signing.  Granted, he struggled in 2014 with Texas, but the numbers prior bring hope.  Craig Breslow is testament to why lefty pitchers are reluctant to retire.  Nice to be wanted.  With Junichi Tazawa, Robbie Ross Jr, Tommy Layne, Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree the bullpen will be a strong point through the never ending test of 162 games.

AAA/AA Help:  Blake Swihart (c), Sean Coyle (inf), Derrick Gibson (of), Henry Ramos (of), Henry Owens (starter), Brian Johnson (starter), Eduardo Rodriguez (starter), Miguel Celestino (relief).

Prediction:  First in the A.L. East, A.L. Champion, World Series Champion.

 

So much is wrong with recent developments.  Let me strike at the obvious piece of idiocy:  The Chargers and Raiders sharing a stadium.  Why not have the Red Sox and Yankees share a stadium?  Yes, beyond stupid.  Beyond the one hundred yard stare and bucket of drool.  The Bolts and wanna be Pirates share the same division.  They play each other twice a year.  The LAPD would need the assistance of the National Guard to keep fighting, looting and rioting to a minimum prior to game time.  Then the real trouble starts.

I love a fastball under the chin (a woeful analogy given football as the subject), but this sudden development (I’m being polite) the Spanos family has placed before the city of San Diego is both mean and without warning.  This dance began better than a decade ago.  I applaud the full court press (again, a woeful analogy given football as the subject) applied by the Chargers lead assassin, Mark Fabiani, but the sudden announcement of the ridiculous San Diego-Oakland axis may as well cause celebration for the continued Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Is anybody happy?

I shall back up.  Splashed across the L.A. Times 2/20/15 edition summed the frenzy of football fields:  Farmers Field, Roski’s City of Industry Field, Stan Kroenke’s Hollywood Park Field (the real deal) and now the bat shit proposal of the Chargers and Raiders sharing a field (holding hands, grooving, playing Grateful Dead tunes).  Reread that reality.  Think not twice, but thrice and dare to discover any thread of sense.

Farmers Field (an insurance gonglomo, not Billy Bob in overalls) was announced circa 2/11.  Roski’s stadium of a badly named city seeking a football team in 4/08.  Consider that time frame.  Do you remove long cooked food from a dormant oven to serve a party of twenty?  Stan Kroenke, a man with a plan and money to make the plan, hits Tinsel Town in 1/15.  Boom.  Done.  Truly done.  But, no.  The Spanos family, forever miffed at San Diego mayors (too many to count since the Spanos ownership) and hoteliers reluctant to raise overnight rates (tax), create a relationship gone bad.  So bad, in fact, that partnership with their enemies from the north, in an effort to strong-arm the locals into panic, propose a bad drive up the 5, to watch the Chargers play football.  The Carson site is another Farmers/Roski moment.  Highly unlikely.

Returning to both the idiocy of the deal and the L.A. Times refusing thought, I offer page D7 from the 2/20/15 issue, “It takes any remaining steam out of both of them (Farmers Field and Roski’s City of Industry).  Never say never in this process, . . .”).  What?  That ranks with definitely maybe.

Returning to Mr. Kroenke and his purchase of Hollywood Park, this is the return of the Rams.  The Chargers or Raiders (to a lesser extent) are not moving to L.A.  The Rams will land in Hollywood Park.  Kroenke understands the local politics (re:  Inglewood voters happily committed to the stadium and associated development coupled with a more than willing mayor and city council).  Would the NFL want to split the L.A. market with a second team?  Most doubtful.  Additionally, why give up two existing healthy NFL markets to shove two teams into one town?

As for “no public money” for either the Inglewood or Carson site, we’ll see.  I find doubtful that the ballyhooed guaranteed magic of preferred seat licenses will fill all necessary construction accounts.  Sure, L.A. has the ability to sell more preferred seat licenses than either St. Louis, San Diego or Oakland, but, past experience indicates an extended hand at some point.  However, this more than likely public assistance is less likely with Kroenke’s Hollywood Park efforts (I understand the Walton clan has spare change lying about).  The amount of financial detail missing from the Carson project is noteworthy.

Regarding the Carson project, aka, the Chargers and Raiders love fest, if this lunacy is pursued enjoy the circus that develops over the former owner of the proposed site, Shell Oil and the residue left behind.  Convince me that the Spanos family will kindly overlook the numerous and legally required extraction wells to remove methane gas from the site.  How about the nearby ground water polluted with industrial solvents?  Watering the stadium grass with that toxic brew?  The words “health risk” are not sought after in any land development.  Especially one that will seat 68,000 people.

Mayor Faulconer and the San Diego city council have received the final warning shot.  Even though the chance of the Chargers beating the Rams or Raiders to L.A. is extremely low, if San Diego wants to keep the Chargers, the time has arrived to settle on one of the two downtown areas or a reconstructed Q.  The Spanos family, if they want to stay in San Diego as stated many instances prior, need to realize that public assistance is impossible.  They have a multitude of financial options which they need to explore and develop whether from NYC investment banks, hedge fund managers or fellow rich folk searching for investment opportunity over a ten to fifteen year period.  Remember, my San Diego State Aztecs need a football field.