Sunday, July 15, 2012

Smitty's Sunday Mailbag - Jilted Boston Fans Edition

How do you fell about Ray Allen’s decision to go to the Heat?  Disappointing certainly from a Celtic fan’s viewpoint. - Steve S., Scarborough, ME
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Honestly, I was shocked. If the relationship between Allen and point guard Rajon Rondo had really deteriorated to a point that the two couldn't play together any more, then I can understand him opting to play somewhere else. For me the real shocker is that he opted to go to Miami, who is essentially Boston's biggest rival right now. The Heat eliminated the Celtics from the last two postseasons, and I didn't get the impression that there was any love lost between the two franchises. I guess it just shows how much the culture of the game has changed. Can you imagine Kevin McHale signing on with the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons late in his career? Isaiah Thomas running the point in Chicago? That's basically the equivalent. We're not talking about Steve Nash, who has 0 rings, trying to get one late in his career by joining the Lakers. We're talking about someone who has won a ring, leaving a championship-caliber team (the Celtics were one win away from the NBA Finals) and going to the team that knocked them out of the playoffs. The part that I find funny is that Ray Allen thinks that the Boston fanbase is going to be understanding. Have you met the Boston fanbase, Ray? You're Johnny Damon. Roger Clemens. Eric Mangini. 
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The good news for Celtics fans is that while Ray Allen's perimeter game certainly makes the Heat more formidable, Boston is poised to make a run without him. The addition of Jason Terry gives them a veteran scorer who has embraced his role as super-sub (a la James Harden in Oklahoma City). Terry, who won a ring in Dallas, also has the ability to play both guard positions which is something Allen did not bring to the table. A healthy Avery Bradley gives them a substantial defensive upgrade at shooting guard as well. So Boston's going to be all right, and if they can stay healthy, they may even be better than they were this past season. The only real question that remains is who is going to get booed louder when the Heat come to Boston, LeBron or Ray Allen?

What is with the Sawx and their terrible trades this season? Earlier, Cherington traded for Marlon Byrd who has since been released and now Youk, who may have been slumping but is still Youk, for Lillibridge (batting under .200) and Stewart (ERA over 6.00). AND they paid $5.5M on top! Am I missing something oh swami of the sports world - The Dude, Chesapeake, VA

Let's review some of Red Sox GM Ben Cherington's trades since taking over:

*Traded Josh Reddick, Miles Head and Raul Alcantara to Oakland for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney.
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Sweeney hit .373 with 11 doubles in April. Since then he's hitting .224 with 6 doubles and has yet to hit a home run this season. Andrew Bailey has been out the entire injury with a thumb injury. By comparison, Reddick is 10th in the American League with 20 home runs. Meanwhile 21 year old Miles Head (1B) tore through the California League (.382, 18 HRs) and was promoted to AA. On the year he's hitting .362 with 27 doubles, 20 home runs, and 69 runs batted in. At least Alcantara hasn't blossomed yet. He's 5-8 in 17 starts with a 5.38 ERA in A-ball.

*Traded Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to Houston for Mark Melancon.
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Melancon managed to get himself demoted to AAA until early June after starting the season by compiling a 49.50 ERA in just 4 appearances; not easy to do. While he's pitched well in his return (1 earned run in 13 2/3 innings) and lowered his ERA to 6.89, he hasn't been pitching in pressure situations which is what Boston brought him in to do. While Lowrie and Weiland are both on the DL in Houston right now, Lowrie has put together a solid campaign for the Astros hitting 14 home runs and leading NL shortstops with a .343 on base percentage.

*Traded Michael Bowden and Hunter Cervenka to the Cubs for Marlon Byrd.
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Byrd lasted about a month and a half in Boston uniform. The former all star started the year in a 3 for 43 funk with the Cubs before getting traded. While he hit .270 with the Sox he struck out 21 times and walked just twice, he was released on the 12th of June. Bowden has posted a 7.45 with the Cubs since the trade and since been demoted to AAA but has started to find his form down on the farm. In 13 games with the Iowa Cubs Bowden has a 2.12 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a .180 average while striking out 20 in 17 innings. The 22 year old Cervenka, who was a player to be named later in this deal, has an ERA of 2.00 in 14 minor league relief appearances since joining the Cubs' single-A affiliate Peoria. He's struck out 26 in 27 innings while allowing just 21 hits.

*Traded Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox for Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart.
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In 15 games since the trade, Youk has hit .316 (18/57), is driving in a run a game and has an on base percentage over .400. Typical Youkilis numbers. Lillibridge is 2 for 15 in a Red Sox uniform which has actually lowered his average to .167 from .175 at the time of the deal. Stewart currently isn't on the Sox roster instead heading straight to AAA where he's made 4 starts (1-1 3.74 ERA).

So yeah, in terms of value, I think you could argue the Sox have lost every single one of those trades so far. There's a chance Andrew Bailey could change that, but even if he does, you're looking at a record of 1-3. And that's a stretch to say Bailey will be worth more than Reddick moving forward. I know the issue with Youkilis was driven by clubhouse chemistry (seems to be a common issue in Boston right now), but I'm shocked the Sox couldn't get more than Lillibridge, at best a utility infielder, and Stewart (career ERA 5.92). As for the other deals, I don't know what to tell you. It will be interesting to see what the Sox do at the deadline, and to see what exactly Cherington's plan is. I'll tell you what though, if he keeps making deals like this, he won't be around very long.

That does it for this issue. As always a special thanks to everyone who wrote in. And remember, as the great G$ Meyer says Reading is for Winners, especially when you read Smitty's Mailbag.

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