Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Your Job is Your Credit

Here's a bunch of random stuff in no particular order:

... Well, the day finally arrived (actually, two days). Mark Bellhorn was designated for reassignment, and Kevin Millar was benched. I've spent way too much time on both these guys this season, and now that they're either no longer with the team, or have a decidedly diminished role, I wonder who'll I now focus all my negative energy.

OK, maybe that's overstating it a bit. In fact, I had long ago resigned myself to the fact that Bellhorn might actually never get another hit as a professional ballplayer, and in fact, I was willing to accept his role on the team as the "go-to strikeout guy" as long as he continued to play well in the field. And that's exactly what he did. Then he got hurt, the Sox traded for Alex Cora and Tony Graffanino, Bellhorn did a rehab stint in Pawtucket that included a lot of whiffs, and now he's unemployed. Hopefully things will work out for the guy.

Millar is a different story altogether, though. I've made it abundantly clear that I'm not a big fan of his ability to hit into clutch, rally-killing double plays, or his penchant for an ill-timed error. Still, I have to give the guy credit for taking his demotion without the usual complaints on how this team can't win without him (like this gem from last season). Also, if you're Millar, this probably makes defending your case a little tougher:
Millar is just 4 for 30 (.133) in his last eight games, and the drop in his power has been a story all season. Millar has just four home runs, after a career-high 25 in 2003, his first season with the Sox, and 18 last year. Only 25 of his 99 hits have been for extra bases. His struggles on the road have been even more pronounced: only seven of his 47 hits have been for extra bases, with no home runs. He has gone 182 at-bats since his last homer, June 4 in Fenway Park.
Um, yeah, that's not very good. And while those numbers don't really surprise me (I mean, I've seen almost every Sox game this year; I seen Millar play), a quick look at his career numbers almost defy logic:

Year Tm    G AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO     BA   OBP   SLG
1998 FLA 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.500 0.667 0.500
1999 FLA 105 351 48 100 17 4 9 67 1 0 40 64 0.285 0.362 0.433
2000 FLA 123 259 36 67 14 3 14 42 0 0 36 47 0.259 0.364 0.498
2001 FLA 144 449 62 141 39 5 20 85 0 0 39 70 0.314 0.374 0.557
2002 FLA 126 438 58 134 41 0 16 57 0 2 40 74 0.306 0.366 0.509
2003 BOS 148 544 83 150 30 1 25 96 3 2 60 108 0.276 0.348 0.472
2004 BOS 150 508 74 151 36 0 18 74 1 1 57 91 0.297 0.383 0.474
0.292 0.366 0.491
Yep, that's right, Millar is a lifetime .292 hitting coming into this season. I would be more inclined to believe that John Olerud wore a helmet in the field because he was making a fashion statement. What's even more amazing is that while with the Marlins, Millar played 26 games at third base, but only made three errors on 24 chances, which given his track record with the leather, should qualify him for some sort of Junior Gold Glove award or something.

So barring injury, it looks like Olerud (and maybe even Petagine) will get most of the work. Sounds good to me, and the fact that Millar's on board, is one less thing Francona has to worry about that's not Manny-related.

... Speaking of Francona, there have been some rumblings among fans that he should be fired. Evan Brunell, in a 4 million word post, disagrees. Look, Francona can be frustrating at times, but on what planet does it make sense to fire a guy who's 20 games above .500? Not only that, when was the last time the Red Sox were in first place in the division? Fans have whined all season about Bellhorn and Millar (see above). And now, apparently with nothing really to complain about, have turned their attention to Francona. Jeez. I wonder why people hate Red Sox fans with such a passion. It's dopey stuff like this. Take some advice from Lloyd Dobler and find more interesting ways to occupy your time.

... Speaking of chilling out, Peter King seems to have his undies wrapped a little too snug. Here's what he said in yesterday's MMQB:
"...I am grateful that Ramirez was such a stud in helping the Red Sox win the World Series last year. But he disgraced the uniform before this year's trading deadline by refusing to go into a pennant-race game when his team needed him, taking a day off even though his team had another day off the next day and Trot Nixon was hurt. The latest straw: Ramirez took another game off last Wednesday in Detroit. This means Terry Francona, in the span of three weeks, did not start Ramirez FIVE TIMES so the latter could either get his brain clear or get his body rested. I realize the Red Sox will not be as good offensively after Theo Epstein trades Ramirez this winter. But I can't wait to watch a Manny-less team in 2006, whatever the outcome."
First of all, I think it's kind of tough to say Manny's been a "disgrace to the uniform" primarily because he plays a game for a living and he's not a cop or a fireman. And in all honesty, I think Manny's been disgracing the uniform since he started wearing his El Guapo style -- about four sizes too big -- but that's a whole other story. Yeah, Manny took another game off. Is this news? Haven't we already had this discussion? And when you write things like, "But I can't wait to watch a Manny-less team in 2006, whatever the outcome," you're just setting yourself up for the inevitable "that's what you get" deluge of emails when Boston starts 2006 10 games under .500. Remember Lloyd Dobler.

... Finally, Chris Chase has a link to possibly my all-time favorite commercial. I mentioned it briefly back in May, but I didn't know that you could actually watch the commercial on the internets. There's nothing like watching a bunch of millionaire athletes rapping about a car dealership. Too funny. And remember, "at Easterns, your job is your credit."