More Q & A
Q-What impresses you most about Smoltz?
A-The entire body of work. In addition to being a #1 starter the guy was a HOF closer, who else can make that claim short of Eck? This guy was a stopper as a starter, and a closer. That he’s still a dominant power pitcher at his age, with that many innings is incredible. I’d trust the Sox to have done the medical homework and given the arms they now have they’ll be able to mix and match with the back end of their rotation (which could feature 2 front end guys) as the schedule and their health permits.
Fast forward to October, damn, how would you like to start a series facing Beckett, Smoltz, Lester and Dice?
Q-What’s your favorite moment competing against Smoltz?
A-Guys like John don’t elicit favorite moments, at least not for me. I always wanted Glavine or Maddux, but never because they weren’t as good, but because I knew my offense wanted no part of Smoltz. Glavine/Maddux were frustrating but ‘comfortable’ 0-4’s, John was a painful one and I know of some guys that got “Smotzitis” quite often.
Q-Were you surprised that Smoltz left the Braves to sign with the Sox?
A-Nothing surprises me anymore. I’m surprised at the amount of untruth’s being spewed by someone, but nothing surprises me anymore. The club put a value on him and that value didn’t match what John wanted. After almost 20 years with a team, doing what he did, as a player you always hope for and sometimes expect more loyalty, but that’s just not what teams do anymore, if they ever did.
Q-What is the value of approaching the 2009 season with more than 5 viable starting rotation candidates?
A-Too numerous to list. If you can avoid “accumulation” incentives like starts and IP, and you can get the staff to buy into the process of keeping everyone fresh for August to September, which is not as easy as it sounds, it’s huge. Like I said earlier, you enter October with a healthy fresh Beckett, Smoltz, I don’t care who paid what for whom, you are favorites in any series, 4 or 7 games, no matter who you are playing.
Q-What is your impression of Baldelli as a hitter when healthy?
A-Another great sign in my opinion. First off the big piece is he’s a kid that was raised understanding what baseball means to the New England area and that he really wanted to come here says something about his makeup. That’s a big deal to me. As a hitter? Rocco is one of the 2-3 best high fastball hitters in baseball, bar none. He has the rare ability to go up waaaay out of the zone high, and hammer balls. Very few guys can do that. Many are aggressive up there but few produce in that area. It’s not a great strength to have since good pitchers don’t live up there, but you can KILL mediocre pitching which consistently makes mistakes up in the zone. He’s incredibly aggressive. I liked that facing him because I felt I could get more chase than normal. He’s a superstar athlete, run, throw, smart player. I always felt he was an exceptional baserunner and a ‘smart’ player. Didn’t miss cut off men, never a base behind where he should be, always in the right spot. Little things, little things that will come into play in the role he’s going to be asked to fill. I hope he’s healthy because I’d really like to see him put together all the stuff people have raved about since he signed.