Mailbag: The Post-Collapse Red Sox

Scu-Scu-Scutaro. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Eli asks: The collapse of the Red Sox this year was absolutely fantastic to watch but I think people forget that they had the best record in baseball for most of the season and they have a talented roster that is largely going to remain the same. Everybody’s acting like they’re a train wreck of a team but aren’t you at least a little worried they’re going to come out next season hungry, angry and with something to prove?

I agree. This sort of stuff tends to happen after dramatic events, which is why you see a lot of “this team is build to last” or “they have dynasty potential” talk after a team (in just about any sport) wins a championship. We also hear about how a team needs to be rebuilt after every playoff series loss like clockwork. It’s an emotional over-reaction, but it’s just human nature. We feel great during the good times and awful during the bad ones.

The Red Sox collapsed this year because just about their entire pitching staff fell flat on its face during the last month of the season. They also happen to play in an extremely tough division, and a collapse like this takes two to tango. If the Rays don’t get hot down the stretch, Boston is in the playoffs and who knows what happens. I’m willing to bet both Terry Francona and Theo Epstein are still with the team. As Joel Sherman pointed out this morning, the Red Sox won 90 games and were baseball’s biggest disappointment this year. The Cardinals also won 90 games, but they were the game’s best story. It’s all about perception and expectations.

Getting to the actual question … yeah, I expect the Red Sox to again be a really good team in 2012. Hell, they’ve already improved just by getting John Lackey out of the rotation (via Tommy John surgery). It’s harsh, but it’s true. They have a ton of dead money coming off the books in J.D. Drew, though much of it will go towards arbitration and contractual raises. Clay Buchholz figures to get healthy over the winter, as does Bobby Jenks and Kevin Youkilis. Even if they don’t, they’re still right back where they started at 90 wins or so.

I’m sure that team will come out with a chip on its shoulder and all that, but it only lasts so long. The 162-game season can be a humbling experience. I kinda rambled here, but the point I want to make is don’t sleep on the Red Sox next year. They have some very real problems to address (as do the Yankees), but also a boatload of talent and the means to right the ship quickly. I expect Boston to be not just a good team in 2012, but a great team.

The Overused and Abused MRI

For most of us, an MRI is just some test players go through when they’re hurt. It tells us everything we need to know, no questions asked. Phil Hughes lost some velocity? Send him to the MRI tube. However, as Gina Kolata of The Times writes, MRI’s are often overused and misleading. “An M.R.I. is unlike any other imaging tool we use,” said Dr. Bruce Sangeorzan to Kolata. “It is a very sensitive tool, but it is not very specific. That’s the problem.”

The old refrain is that you can find something wrong with any pitcher if you give them an MRI, but many injuries can be diagnosed through a physical exam and patient history. “I see 300 or 400 new patients a year,” said Dr. Sigvard Hansen. “Out of them, there might be one that has something confusing and might need a scan.” It’s a relatively short but really interesting article, give it a read.

Dickerson falls short of Super Two cutoff

MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported on Thursday that this year’s Super Two cutoff is two years and 146 days of service time. By my unofficial count, Chris Dickerson will fall short of that cutoff by just seven days. He came into the season with two years and 48 days of service time according to Cot’s, and I have him on the active roster for 91 days in 2011. That brings him up to two years and 139 days of service time, or one week short.

Had Dickerson qualified as a Super Two, he would have been arbitration-eligible this offseason and another three times before free agency. Instead, he will earn close to league minimum in 2012 before three years of arbitration. In a way, it might have saved his job. Had Dickerson qualified as a Super Two, there’s a chance the Yankees would have non-tendered him rather than pay him a low-seven figures salary. That’s unlikely though, Dickerson’s a useful player since he can hit righties (.341 wOBA) and play pretty good defense at all three outfield spots. He’ll just do that while earning slightly less money in 2012.

Angels to name Jerry Dipoto general manager

Via MLBTR, the Angels will name Diamondbacks’ exec Jerry Dipoto their new GM. That means the Yankees are likely to retain Billy Eppler, there pro scouting director, who was a candidate for the job and even called back for a second interview. Buster Olney says he was the runner-up. Amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer was also up for the job, but he was told he was no longer considered a candidate after his first interview. Epp and Opp will get their shots at being GMs eventually, likely within a year or two, but I’m glad both are back. They do bang-up work.

Open Thread: World Series Game Seven

How crazy was that game last night? One of the best I’ve ever seen, hands down. The whole series in general has been one of the best I’ve ever seen, I’d probably put it right behind the 2001 World Series (the outcome sucked, but holy cow was it entertaining). I was too young to really appreciate the 1986 or 1991 World Series. We can only hope tonight’s game is half as good as last night’s. Yay baseball!

Anyway, here is your thread for the night. Game Seven starts at 8pm ET and can be seen on FOX, and there are no other local sports teams in action. No excuse for not watching now. Talk about the game or anything else you want here. Enjoy.

(video of Gary Thorne’s great call (“Hello Game Seven! Goodbye Home Run!”) via ESPN Front Row)

Hot Stove Notes: Cashman, Sabathia, Swisher

You guys really for Game Seven? I’m stoked, can’t wait. Until the first pitch is thrown, here are some miscellaneous notes from Yankeeland, all courtesy of Joel Sherman (unless otherwise noted)…

  • The Yankees and Brian Cashman have yet another three-year contract already in place, they’re just waiting until the end of the World Series to announce it. This will be Cashman’s fourth straight three-year deal. (link)
  • The Commissioner’s Office sent out a memo today, letting the teams know that the offseason clock has been moved from noon tomorrow to midnight Sunday. That’s just so the offseason officially begins on a Monday. CC Sabathia will now have until midnight Wednesday to opt out of his contract, and free agents can officially negotiate with new teams at midnight Friday. (link and link)
  • Cashman will meet with Sabathia’s agent this weekend to try to finalize a contract extensions for the left-hander. We heard last night that the team has an offer ready to go, and are just waiting to deliver it to CC’s people. (Andrew Marchand)
  • Nick Swisher‘s contract contains a limited no-trade clause, and the Yankees have asked him to submit his list of teams he won’t accept a trade to just so they know what their options are should they choose to move him. Once they see the list, they’ll pick up his $10.25M option for 2012. (link and link)

Yanks re-up with WCBS, Sterling, Waldman for 2012

Yankees radio broadcasts will air on WCBS-AM for the 2012 season, and the club anticipates the return of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman to the Lowes broadcast booth, the Yankees announced this afternoon. While it is tough to imagine life without the dulcet tones and understated approach of what one New York columnist has not-so-affectionately dubbed Ma and Pa Pinstripe, their return to WCBS was not a foregone conclusion. The 2011 season marked the final under a deal with WCBS that had guaranteed the Yanks $13 million annually for the radio rights, and throughout the season, we heard rumblings that WFAN or WEPN 1050 would make a play for the Yanks.

Instead, the Yanks and WCBS have re-upped for one year at undisclosed terms. The team said it has “retained the option to extend the agreement for another year.” Both parties however will “continue discussions about a longer term partnership.” With a handful of potential suitors willing to pay big bucks for the radio rights, the Yanks will definitely ask WCBS for more money. Barring a deal, they could try to buy their own radio station or move frequencies. That this is a one-year deal suggests that ESPN Radio could be involved next winter if they find a station with a signal stronger than 1050. For now, though, we are graced with one more season of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WCBS 880 AM.