October 9, 2003

Bret Boone: Announcing God

First things first, Bret Boone is a great baseball announcer. On Wednesday night, about four innings into Game One of the ALCS, I told everyone in the Baseball Primer chat room I was in that I thought Boone was doing a great job. I was mocked and called several very unkind names.

But I held strong to my opinion, despite the criticism, and even wrote on this blog about how well I thought Boone did in his first taste of announcing. Well, Boone was back in the booth for Game Two of the ALCS last night and I thought he was awesome.

He was interesting, he was insightful, he added a ton of humor to the broadcast and, most of all, he got into arguments with Tim McCarver in just about every inning. McCarver would say one of his random cliches and Boone would immediately chime in with his disagreement. They would then argue about it for the next minute or so, after which time McCarver would say something like "well, I guess I was wrong." I heard him say something similar to that about 15 times last night, which is about 100 times fewer than he should have said, but still an improvement.

I even heard McCarver questioning his stupid remarks as he was saying them, simply because, for once, someone was in the booth who was willing to do something other than just go along with whatever crap came out of his mouth. It was a real treat listening to Bret Boone during last night's game and it was even better listening to McCarver, as Boone hassled him.

I'll say this for McCarver, he showed a sense of humor about himself that I didn't expect. McCarver and Boone were talking about fans heckling them while they were coming into the stadium before the game and McCarver said someone asked him what color he was going to dye his hair next year.

You may remember I made a snide comment about McCarver's horrendous, bright orange dye-job in yesterday's blog entry. I figured McCarver's hair was pretty much off-limits for discussion, but he showed a decent sense of humor by actually bringing it up himself.

The actual game last night was one of the worst of the post-season thus far, but that says more about how awesome the other games have been, because last night's game was certainly decent.

Andy Pettitte got the start for New York and did very well, holding Boston to 2 runs in 6.2 innings. Of course, it didn't hurt that he faced a lineup that included Gabe Kapler, Damian Jackson and two guys (David Ortiz and Trot Nixon) who can't hit lefties.

Boston has one of the best offensive teams in recent memory, but they also have quite a few holes in the lineup when a good lefty is on the mound. Bench strength, specifically finding a couple of right-handed platoon-mates for Ortiz and Nixon, should be a priority for Theo Epstein and company this off-season.

I suspect Red Sox fans are not too happy about last night's game, especially after the optimism the Game One win no doubt created, but taking one out of two in New York to start the series is a big accomplishment. They should feel good about the first two games, especially now that they are heading home for three in Fenway, with Pedro going on Saturday.

Since I have surprisingly little to say about last night's game, I want to discuss a really good article I read on BaseballProspectus.com yesterday.

BP's Jonah Keri did an interview with San Diego Padres' General Manager Kevin Towers, part one of which was posted on Baseball Prospectus yesterday afternoon (I think part two will be up at some point today, and both articles are free, so check them out).

I thought Towers' responses were incredibly thoughtful and intelligent and I was extremely impressed by the honestly and bluntness he showed. He didn't dance around questions or speak in double-talk, he answered everything directly and actually gave insight into the organization's thoughts and plans.

Asked about acquiring a new catcher this off-season, Towers said:

"I'll say that we're looking at two or three guys on other clubs, two AL guys, one NL guy. All three play for three of the eight playoff clubs."

When is the last time you heard a GM be that specific while answering a question like that?

Of course, upon reading that I immediately started wondering who the three catchers are that he is talking about? I think one is definitely Twins' catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The other name that immediately came to mind was Marlins' backup catcher Ramon Castro. I'm not really sure who the third guy he is talking about could be, especially since Towers discussed and sort of dismissed Benito Santiago earlier in the interview and hinted that the acquisition would be a trade, thus ruling out Ivan Rodriguez, who will be a free agent.

As a Twins' fan, I'm not sure what they should do with Pierzynski. He is one of the best and most durable catchers in baseball and he is still very young, much younger than I think most people would guess. Go ahead, take a guess for how old A.J. Pierzynski is...

He's 26. See what I mean? On the other hand, the Twins are in a position where they are going to have a bit of a payroll-crunch in the next couple years and they have the best catching prospect in baseball waiting in the wings. At some point in the near future, Joe Mauer is going to be ready to play and when that time comes, Pierzynski's services will no longer be needed.

The question is whether you trade him now, when you can get the most value in return for him while also saving money, or if you hang onto him and wait to make a move until Mauer is ready to step in and replace him. If you deal him now, you'll get a better return, but you'll also create a hole at catcher that Mauer likely isn't quite able to fill yet, meaning Matthew LeCroy could become the starter. If you wait to deal him, you get to move Mauer along at his own pace and you get to keep Pierzynski on the team, but you also have to pay him and run the risk of not being able to cash him in for as much value down the road.

It's a tough call and I'm not sure what I think they should do. Once the playoffs finish up, I'm sure I will think about this situation and the other major decisions the Twins need to make this off-season, so you'll have to wait for my official thoughts until then.


In the official "Crappy News" story of the week, I read the following on MLB.com yesterday:

"MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins left-handed pitcher Johan Santana is scheduled to have minor elbow surgery next week to remove a bone chip."

Uh oh. In my opinion, there is no minor elbow surgery for a young starting pitcher. Twins' GM Terry Ryan was quoted as saying the bone chips had no impact on Santana's pitching, but I seriously question that statement based on his final start of the year. He got knocked around by the Yankees and his fastball barely topped 90 MPH the entire game. Needless to say I am a little concerned about The Official Pitcher of Aaron's Baseball Blog.

Here's hoping Johan's elbow is just fine and it simply needs a little "cleaning out." If I have to read the words "Johan Santana" and "Tommy John surgery" in the same sentence at some point in the near future, I think I might just cry.

That's all for today. Oh, and by the way, you may want to check back here over the weekend, because I think I might post a rare weekend entry at some point. The Vikings have a bye, the Twins are done, and the Gophers play tonight, so my weekend sports schedule is pretty empty. Well, there are these two baseball playoff series going on, I guess, so maybe I'll write about those...

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