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Best season ever…

August 14, 2009

I had the honor of pitching in front of Cal Ripken. I got to pitch in front of Craig Counsell when he was at a Gold Glove caliber of play in Arizona. Scott Rolen, Mark Lewis, Mickey Morandini, all of them.

I never pitched in front of a player that had a better defensive season than Alex Gonzalez did when I was in Boston. Not sure what the defensive statistics say about that year, but I know as a staff we were all in love with the guy every day he was at SS.

Great shortstops, much like great center fielders, take athleticism to a new level, Alex certainly did that. Pokey Reese was another one. Their play in and around the bag, their ability to go into the hole, do things other guys never attempt, effortlessly, is one of the magics of the game of baseball.

Pitchers are selfish in this sense. I never EVER cared whether Jason got a hit or not when I was pitching. Sure I wanted him to go 4-4 and hit 4 bombs, but if he didn’t it did not matter to me. I just needed to know, had to know, that he was committed to every pitch he was putting down. He always was.

The same thing applies to defense in the field. Sure you want everyone to get 4 hits a night, but that’s not going to happen. So recognizing that, what I wanted above all else was that guy who took as much, if not more, pride in his glove work and defense as he did in hitting. That’s Alex.

In addition to being a fantastic teammate, he can flat out play defense as well as anyone I ever suited up against, or played with.

It may not get the coverage it deserves, since he’s not hitting 350 and doesn’t have 20 HR’s or 100 RBI’s, but he’ll win games, he’ll make the staff better, and he’ll make a difference.

Getting both he and Kotchman (even with Youk being a Gold Glover) reminds me of bringing in Cabrera and Dougie M in ’04. Theo understands the dramatic shift in approach an above average defense can give a team.

I can remember pitching TO the left side of the infield with Alex and Pokey out there, same with Orlando. That’s huge. You cannot quantify it in numbers, but it has a direct impact on pitchers that control their fastballs.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2009 1:25 am

    Thanks for putting this up. It inspires confidence.

  2. bosoxyaz8 permalink
    August 15, 2009 6:18 am

    Heck even if he hits .110 we will be a better team.

  3. Chris S permalink
    August 15, 2009 8:49 am

    Hi Curt,

    The stats say that Alex Gonzalez was the second-best SS in the majors in 2006, behind Adam Everett (though quite a long way behind), with a UZR/150 of 16.9. That metric measures range, arm strength/accuracy and errors to give an ‘ultimate zone rating’. Unfortunately, his UZR/150 this year has dropped to 4.0, largely due to his range declining significantly (age?). That still makes him an above-average fielding SS in 2009, but not an exceptional one, which I guess is what the Sox are hoping he’ll be. He’ll still make the highlight-reel plays when he gets to the ball…he’ll just get to it slightly less often, if the numbers are right.

  4. Andrew permalink
    August 15, 2009 11:07 am

    Batting average aside, this guy is GOOD. In 2006 he had a .985 Fld% ( 7 E, in 305 A.) This year his league range factor is 4.33 well above average. I’m really looking forward to seeing this guy play!

    (I bet Papelbon is to re: Nick green v. the A’s)

  5. Don Levine permalink
    August 15, 2009 1:18 pm

    Gret move by the Sox to get Alex back.

  6. Miguel permalink
    August 15, 2009 8:22 pm

    Hey Curt! I’m glad to read this nice comments about Alex González. In Venezuela we’re very proud of all our shortstops since Alfonso “Chico” Carrasquel, Aparicio, Concepción, Ozzy Guillén to Vizquel (the best that I’ve ever seen) Alex González and so on, the list is quite large! I remember Orel Hershiser used to say almost the same thing about Vizquel when they played together in Cleveland. But I have a question for you. According with your comment, do you think that boston’s defense with the addition of Alex will help to boston’s pitching staff to get a better performance. I think that is the key to get the play-off! Thank’s and We miss you! From Caracas Venezuela. Miguel.

  7. August 16, 2009 7:43 am

    Mr. Schilling
    First off I’d like to say that I love your blog and thanks for the continued insight from a players view. Secondly this may be inappropriate but we are holding a benifit for my mother and father due to his 8 year battle with non-hodgkins lymphoma, we are having a charity softball tourament August 29th and 30th in Dracut MA. I was wondering if you would be so kind to donate a signed ball or something for the raffle. If so it would be great, if not I completely understand and if this is a bother I am sorry for your time. Thanks and continue with the great column.

  8. Papifan permalink
    August 17, 2009 10:15 am

    I think Gonzalez is a pretty decent player, but he is not as good as Orlando Cabrera, because of what Orlando does offensively. I am and will be forever be perplexed that Orlando Cabrera was not pursued by the Sox at the trading deadline. I don’t know whose feathers he ruffled in 2004, but that person or people has hurt the Sox with that attitude. I am guessing this is the case, because it is the only logical explanation I can come up with. Cabrera is a gamer and the Sox would most likely still be ahead of the Rangers if he had been acquired as they have got pretty much zilch from that position offensively for the month of August. It is almost like there is a conspiracy by the Red Sox management and the media on this one. I was watching the Baseball Show and Sean McAdams made the comment that Cabrera is not being pursued because the Sox don’t think it is much of an upgrade. I could not believe my ears on that one. I sometimes think that you are dead on about the media and wonder what game are they watching. The Twins, smartly picked this guy up and did not give up a lot for him. Rumor had it the A’s offered him up to the Sox and were declined. I am still in shock. Any thoughts on why this guy gets no respect from the Red Sox or just a case of management not wanting to admit a mistake was made by not signing him in 2004. Although it is not all bad, because I believe they got Jacoby Ellsbury, with the compensatory pick that year.

  9. dano_in_ny permalink
    August 18, 2009 2:41 pm

    1) Nobody has addresed Alex Gonzalez’ injurie(s) and why he is going to be a positive because by the only measure we know, he is now a worse defensive shortstop than Nick Green. And everyone seems to wax sentimental, is no one thinking about this?

    2) Curt, I know you have doubts about moving Lowell out of there, but don’t you think that it will help preserve him this season to DH him the rest of the way?

    3) Ok, so for Bill Clinton and everyone who took PED or stood on a witness stand, it is human nature not to tell the truth to expose a new fact, if it is to your short-term benefit not to. I just find it melodramatic to expect human nature to be any different. In the absence of the ability to do retroactive tests, all you have to do is look at a graph of player’s performance during the period and you can pretty much judge the ones who definitely did it. Add to them the ones who did it and still didn’t perform any better. e.g. Andy Pettitte was already at a high level. Then you know who did it. But who cares? Judge the era for what it is and move on.

  10. dano_in_ny permalink
    August 18, 2009 2:43 pm

    BTW, I find that Curt’s transparency and that you can even count on him READING my entry, even without responding, is an honor…Thanx

  11. August 19, 2009 7:34 am

    Hopefully this move helps. He is having a great season!

  12. j chase permalink
    August 20, 2009 6:44 pm

    Thank you for the inside track on AGon. I was very pleased the Red Sox got him. Since he got into the line up, he has already shown his worth. Good deal!

  13. fear the fish permalink
    August 22, 2009 1:06 am

    I will always love AGON for the bomb he hit against
    the evil empire in 2003, GO FISH!

    Having said that, I’ve never seen a hitter with a .238 Batting average
    and a .238 OBP

    He made Renteria (see 97 world series) expendable because of his bat, but has since been on a steady decline lumber wise

  14. Mike Carney permalink
    August 25, 2009 12:29 pm

    Hey Curt,
    Have to say since you faded out of baseball I couldn’t be happier. There wasn’t a big mouth or a personality in the last 15 years I couldn’t stand listening to more then you. My wish came true when your shoulder started acting up 2 years ago. There is a god! Hopefully you keep quiet, remain irrelevant and the baseball writers continue to think that your body of work isn’t good enough for the Hall of Fame!

  15. Linda Dower permalink
    September 3, 2009 3:00 pm

    Curt

    I think you would make a GREAT PITCHING COACH.
    I was not always a baseball fan, but have been for quite a few years now and you are one of the main reasons why.

    You were always devoted and dedicated and it showed.

    I think the sox were very lucky to have you there.

    I loved watching you pitch and I really admire you.

    I truly think that anyone would be lucky to have you as a coach.

    Thanks for everything!!!!

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