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It has certainly been a curious case, for  free agent Jason Bay, in his first time on the free agent market.   He had been offered big money by the Red Sox to lock him up with a franchise that is certain to be in the mix for post season play for many years to come. But, it seems for Jason Bay its not about the money. For some reason, he does not want to take residence in the New England area.   The Red Sox have moved on as well, signing Mike Cameron as a suitable short term replacement.

In Jason Bay, you are talking about a player who was not the all world prospect coming up through the minor leagues. However, a light went on in the end of his minor league career which led to his recall with the Padres before suffering a beamed ball just a few at bats into his Major League career. The following season Jason Bay and and Oliver Perez were the young major league ready talent sent to the Pirates for Brian Giles.  In Pittsburgh, he became a productive player and an all-star for the Pirates. But, there was not enough talent around with Bay, and it was clear he wanted out to play for a contender. He got his wish when he was traded to the Red Sox in the last minute Manny Ramirez trade.

Its not clear what type of fit Bay is looking for. His agent is not doing him any favors as he could have signed near his hometown in Seattle, but negotiations dragged on and the Mariners looked elsewhere and acquired Milton Bradley.

Will he go back to Mets? This is  a team that traded him away early into his minor league career. He is clearly one of the best bats left in the market, with Matt Holiday the only other comparable player. From what has transpired this off-season with Bay,  he comes off as sort of a player with some baggage. In the end, he will go with the money. That either takes him to Mets or the Cardinals (if Holiday talks break down). Forget Boston, that train has left the station.

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When I was growing up in late 1970s, if you were not a Reggie fan, you certainly were a  Jim Rice fan. Rice went on to play his entire career with the Boston Red Sox.  In little league, we would imagine we were Jim Rice and try to emulate those home run blasts.   I am not sure why it took Jim Rice this long to enter Cooperstown, but I guess his relationship with the writers played a big factor in all of this.   Sometimes how you finish your career, is how everyone remembers you by.  As he mentioned in his speech today, Jim Rice had his career batting average drop below the .300 mark his last year in the majors.  Also, had he reached the 400 home run mark, he certainly would of been in quicker as 382 just fell short. However, a career slugging average above .500 is probably what got him into Cooperstown.

As for Rickey Henderson, I remember him coming up in the late 1970s, and he was the talk in most baseball circles with the flat out blazing speed. I didn’t get to see much of Lou Brock’s  career, but Henderson and the 100 bases stolen in a season sure made him a star. Back then, you didn’t hear as much as you do today about what the ideal lead off hitter must possess. But, Henderson transformed the lead off batter position with the speed and power combination.  As we saw today in his speech, Henderson has the type of personality you’ll never probably see again. His references to people like Tom Trebelhorn, Charlie O, Billy Martin, George Steinbrenner, Dave Winfield and others shows us how long he was part of the game.

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The Quad takes into account both counting stats in Times on Base, and Total Bases and the rate stats in On Base Percentage, Slugging average.

Below is the top 10 overall finishes in MLB over the course of the 2008 season (either American League or national League results). If a player makes it to the top 10 list, its really a great accomplishment.  The fact that Albert Pujols made the top overall in 3 of 4 catgeories, and got beat out by only Chipper Jones in On Base Percentage shows that the NL MVP voters got it right.

Dustin Pedroia placed 8th in times on Base, 10th in Total Bases, but was absent on any other top 10 finishes.  The American league numbers  were way below the National League at the top  of the heap. Albert Pujols was the most impressive offensive force in 2008. The fact that he was playing somewhat hurt makes this offensive display even more of a standout.

Times on Base

  1. Albert Pujols 296
  2. David Wright 287
  3. Nick Markakis 283
  4. Lance Berkman 279
  5. Grady Sizemore 279
  6. Hanley Ramirez 277
  7. Jose Reyes 271
  8. Dustin Pedroia 270
  9. Ichiro Suzuki 269
  10. Chase Utley 268

Total Bases

  1. Albert Pujols 342
  2. Ryan Braun 338
  3. David Wright 334
  4. Ryan Howard 331
  5. Miguel Cabrera 331
  6. Josh Hamilton 331
  7. Aubrey Huff 330
  8. Jose Reyes 327
  9. Chase Utley 325
  10. Dustin Pedroia 322

Slugging

  1. Albert Pujols 653
  2. Ryan Ludwick 591
  3. Chipper Jones 574
  4. Alex Rodriguez 573
  5. Carlos Quentin 571
  6. Kevin Youkilis 569
  7. Carlos Lee 569
  8. Lance Berkman 567
  9. Milton Bradley 563
  10. Ryan Braun 553

On Base Percentage

  1. Chipper Jones 470
  2. Albert Pujols 462
  3. Lance Berkman 420
  4. Joe Mauer 413
  5. Matt Holliday 409
  6. J.D. Drew 408
  7. Nick Markakis 406
  8. Hanley Ramirez 400
  9. Brian Giles 398
  10. Manny Ramirez 398

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I can’t think of a better way for Tampa’s Rocco Baldelli to go out in his career with the team that drafted and developed him. The crack of Rocco Badelli’s bat sent the ball over the outfield wall in Citizen Park. This tied the game 3-3 and certainly had many of the Philly faithful ready to jump off a bridge.  This hit had the Fox broadcast crew scrambling to find a recap of the incrdible comeback that Baldelli had endured since Spring Training when his career was in doubt.

Rocco battled back slowly from the disease that nearly ended his career. When Carl Crawford went down with a devastating injury towards the end of the season, it was fitting that Rocco was able to step in and stabilize the lineup.  Nobody expected Rocco to play this crucial a role and he showed flashes of the talent that once had him pegged as a future star.  The talent is still there, but the fact is at this point it is hard for him to play back to back games.

Just like the Atlanta Braves of 1990s, who over their run had seen alot of their homegrown players eventually change addresses as their farm system continued to pump out younger, cheaper alternatives.

The Rays and Rocco have a mutual interest in reuniting for 2009.  However, this is a business and each party will do what is in their best financial interest.  Rocco will certainly draw interest, and at this point the Rays have said they will wait and see. The Rays seem only likely to offer a minor league deal which probaly means an end to their relationship. Rocco is from the North East and and raised a Red Sox fan. His exit from the Rays is likely.   Rocco Baldelli is as good of a person as he is talented. It will be sad to see him go.

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The easy thing to say is that the Red Sox will just roll through the Cigar City and make a return visit to the World Series.  What we witnessed in Spring Training is that this young Tampa Bay Rays squad is a fiery bunch.  Thanks go out to Shelly Duncan for the spikes up play . That play brought this team togther and showed that this year would be different.   That was followed with the Rays coming into the Bronx Bombers home and completely making them look like the doormats of the American League East

Even early on with the Rays leading the division, everyone in the media and beyond said that it was the  Red Sox who would eventually take the division crown.  This Rays put an end to that and went out and won 90s plus games. They are used to being thought of as soft based on the franchises track record.

That is the thing with the playoffs. Its a gut wrenching display of wills and desire. There will be ups and down and the teams that get to this point have heart and substance.  This weekend and tonight will be a defining moment on Rays history.

For comparisons, you could look at Bobby Cox who made it look so easy with all those back to back division crowns,  but found out it takes some luck to nail down the championships.  Or, you could look at the Cleveland Indians from a few years ago who were staked to a 3-1 lead and looked like they would take down the  Yankees.

Time will only tell how this story plays out. The Rays seem to be in a favorable position playing at home with their star pitcher in James Shields taking the hill.  The fans will be out in full force. The Heckler will be out as well.  Besides the high performing Upton and Longoria, this game might come down to those role players like Rocco Baldelli or Willy Aybar.   Or, it may be the talented Carl Crawford who puts on another hitting clinic. I can’t wait

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The remarkable comeback of the Boston Red Sox to prolong the ALCS is payback. I’ll bring you back to 22 years ago (has it been that long?) . The Red Sox had the champagne on ice in 1986.  This comeback the Red Sox pulled off does not have the one inning drama and the Mookie Wilson hit through the legs the way that game did. However, the person taking the blame for this game is Joe Maddon. Here is how you blow a 7-0 lead:
Red Sox seventh (Runs: 4, Hits: 4):
Balfour pitching. Lowrie doubled to right. Varitek flied out to center fielder Upton. Kotsay flied out to center fielder Upton. Crisp singled to left, Lowrie to third. Pedroia singled to right, Lowrie scored, Crisp to third. Ortiz homered to right on a 1-0 count, Crisp scored, Pedroia scored. Wheeler pitching. Youkilis flied out to right fielder Gross.

Red Sox eighth (Runs: 3, Hits: 3):
Bay walked on four pitches. Drew homered to right on a 0-1 count, Bay scored. Lowrie flied out to left fielder Crawford. Casey pinch-hitting for Varitek. Casey struck out. Kotsay doubled to center. Crisp singled to right, Kotsay scored. Crisp was out advancing, right fielder Gross to first baseman Pena to shortstop Bartlett, Crisp out.

Red Sox NInth (Runs: 1, Hits: 2):
Howell pitching. Pedroia grounded out, third baseman Longoria to shortstop Bartlett to first baseman Pena. Ortiz struck out. Youkilis infield single to third. On Longoria’s error, Youkilis to second. Bay was intentionally walked. Drew singled to right, Youkilis scored, Bay to second.

Did I mention I named my cat Mookie?

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Believe It!

Evan Longoria looks like a Rookie, but does not play like a Rookie! Greg Oden (from NBA) does not look like a Rookie, but plays like a Rookie. Thats what I heard on Jim Rome.

Ron Darling is a decent announcer in the time I have listened. Both on the TBS broadcasts and on MLB.tv covering the Mets.

Note. If Kamzir gets out of the first, he usually lasts the game. He is competitive despite his youth and I expect him redeeming himself tonight.

Pena just hit the long ball. The pre-game feature on how he came over to this country as a young kid must of given him luck. Evan follows with the Bomb !

Diced !

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