Hope everyone’s Monday was good, but I know Johnny Damon’s wasn’t. He went 0-for-4 in his return to Fenway Park. I’m not sure why Peter Gammons didn’t think that Damon would get booed. I’d say the crowd was about 70/30 booing/cheering (they definitely weren’t saying boo-URNS.) until Damon tipped his cap before his first AB. It was a classy move and sounded like it swayed some of the boo-birds, evening out the amount of Damon’s detractors and supporters.
On the other side of things there may not have been a happier guy Monday than Tim Wakefield. After Josh Bard struggled behind the plate with Wakefield’s knuckleball, Theo Epstein made the move to get Mirabelli back from the Padres sending Bard, a minor league pitcher and cash to San Diego for Wakefield’s favorite battery-mate. Bard, who was stabbing at the knuckler, was (obviously) using the wrong approach. Because the ball sinks so much, especially Wakefield’s, stabbing at it is probably more difficult than trying to hit it. Mirabelli arrived with much fanfare, receiving a police escort to the stadium while changing in the car on the way. Not quite Superman in a phone booth, but the BoSox got the win and Wakefield pitched well.
On a side note: the “Looks like Jesus. Acts like Judas. Throws like Mary.” catchphrase is hilarious. It’s one of the more creative “burns” I’ve heard or seen in baseball in recent memory.
A thought on the game-When David Ortiz came up with two on in the 8th, I thought he should’ve been walked. I would gladly load the bases and pitch to Manny Ramirez any day before I pitched to Papi (unless Ramirez is hot). I don’t think Ortiz has to remind any of us what he’s capable of in close-and-late situations. Manny is Manny, but I have more confidence pitching to him. It may even be a situation that calls for Mariano Rivera to be warming up in the event Ortiz gets up with a man in scoring position. I’m not second guessing Joe Torre in any way. I’m not an idiot. I’m just stating my preference in choosing the lesser of evils.
Watched the video of Esteban German being struck in the face by a fly-ball he lost in the sun. It’s not a pretty sight and made me wince and cry out in sympathy-pain. German (pronounced her-mon) stayed down a while and trainers tended to his lacerations for some time before he got to his feet. German worked his tail off as a utility infielder for the A’s before going to the Rangers and now the Royals. He’s taken well to his role-as a utility player or “super-sub” for the Royals and is still getting used to the outfield. I hope he recovers quickly. His versatility is a bright spot for a KC club with little to look forward to other than the return of Zack Greinke and the probable debut of Alex Gordon this season.
With his catch against the wall in right-center field on a deep fly off the bat of Tim Salmon, Mark Kotsay proved again last night why he should’ve won the Gold Glove over Torii Hunter last season and why he should win it for the first time this year. You can argue until you are blue in the face that Hunter is the best defensive center fielder in the AL and the only point I will agree on is that he makes a lot of highlight reel plays. That’s not to say Hunter’s not an elite center fielder, but Kotsay rarely leaves his feet because he doesn’t have to and he has arguably the strongest center field arm in baseball. Hunter only played 98 games last season due to injury, but deserves credit for holding up physically while playing half of his games on the Metrodome turf over the last several years. Call it a matter of preference, but defensively I’d take Kotsay over Hunter six times out of 10. Grady Sizemore is slowly moving into their class.
It was good to see Barry Zito have a strong outing, but I will not be happy if he signs with the Halos in the off-season. I’m hoping he ends up with former A’s pitching coach Rick Peterson in New York with the Mets. I know Giants fans may not like seeing him go to San Diego or to the Dodgers. There’s a chance he could end up across the Bay with the G-men. How much would Giants’ fans like a rotation consisting of Morris, Zito, Lowry and Cain if Schmidt isn’t re-signed?
I whole-heartedly disagree with Baseball Tonight analyst Jeff Brantley’s pick of Jonathan Papelbon as his #1 guy to start a franchise with over the weekend. Even if he wanted to take a pitcher, you can’t go with Papelbon. He’s been a shutdown closer, no doubt (and how smart do I look for getting him near the last round in my 15 team 5X5 fantasy draft?), but he also hasn’t blown a save and had to rebound yet. Everyone says that’s the true test of a closer. Granted if he keeps pitching the way he is he won’t ever have to go through that, but it’s inevitable. If he wanted to take a young pitcher, Johan Santana, Francisco Liriano, Scott Kazmir, or Felix Hernandez would’ve been better picks. The other analysts went the smart and popular way picking Albert Pujols.
Enjoy all the games on tap today. Mark Buerhle has already given up a three-run bomb to Pronk and C.C. Sabathia looks good in his return from a torn oblique. I love early morning baseball. It’s better than fresh coffee for getting the day started. Brad Halsey is taking Rich Harden’s place in the rotation versus the Angels today. If Halsey can trust his fastball, his other pitches should prove effective. Have a great Tuesday.