High & Inside: An Improbable Baseball Chat — Opening Day Edition

High & Inside: An Improbable Baseball Chat — Opening Day Edition Photo by:Christoph Gelfand

With major league baseball's opening day approaching this weekend and the Red Sox appearing once again like the team to beat (which surely they will be), we talked with Portland baseball guru and rogue hurler Brendan Evans about Sox nostalgia and the club's true chances.

Nick Schroeder: So, Brendan, who are the first three Sox to get cut/flub out of their jobs?

Brendan Evans: Carlos Quentin, Blake Swihart, David Price.

Seems hard to believe a team wouldn't give up a #4 starter for a steamy package of a frankensteined Quentin and worst-contract-of-all-time Rusney Castillo.

How much of Rusney's contract would the Sox have to eat though?

For Rusney alone, the Sox would have to take on at least $45m of dead Roc Nation assets. Or John Henry himself would have to make beats for three Jay-Z tracks and a Fat Joe single. I'd say the Sox are in a good position this year. But the reality is that May 1 will arrive and Joe Kelly will be the closer, Kyle Kendrick is the #4 starter, and a man named Steve Selsky will be playing third base.

I did draft Selsky in a fantasy league. Just in case they need Brock Holt at first because of Hanley's "shoulder issue." Maybe the second round was a bit high, but Selsky can rake. Man, Kyle Kendrick ... you think a Kendrick/Buchholz trade is out of the question? Has that ship sailed?

I take comfort that we won the prospect wars against the Yankees and Phil Hughes, I don't think anyone will miss Buchholz, no.

On the plus side, your 2017 AL MVP Sandy León had two home runs in one inning today. I think that's sustainable. What would León's BABIP need to be at the All-Star break before you see a teenager walking around the Maine Mall in a León jersey? .600?

There's a non-zero chance Sandy León is a missing Molina brother. But even Jose Molina and his .233 career batting average learned to lay off that low and inside curve.

Yeah, once the league realizes León can't hit a curveball the Sox are screwed. Maybe we should keep that out of the paper.

If Swihart had the yips this spring, and Kimbrel and his 6+ walks-per-nine will officially be diagnosed with the yips by June, who's next?

Hmm. Can a DH get the yips?

What's the everyman version of the yips?

I always get toothpaste on the top of the faucet. 37 years of irregularly brushing my teeth and I should be able to spit straight by now. But really, if you have the yips and no one notices, is it really the yips?

The important question is who's going to win the coveted Mayor's Cup, the trophy awarded to the winningest team in that greatest rivalry in sports — Red Sox/Twins spring training matchups. As of this moment, the Sox are 3-2 against the Twins and 1-0 against team USA, who obviously suck.

Yes, of course. Honoring the long history of MLB "mayors," defined as men who played for both the Boston and Minnesota. Viola's Cup; Mientkiewicz's Cup; Pat Mahomes's Cup...

Yeah! Jeff Reardon's Cup! His is a tragic tale, he was fought robbing a bank because the teller recognized him. Moral of the story: don't rob banks if you're the most famous person in town. Tom Brunansky, too, was a bicoastal star.

Didn't Gaetti sign a minor league contract with the Sox in the '90s before realizing he was no Tim Naehring and retiring?

Why can't we just turn back the clock to those halcyon days of early ’90s baseball, when I had the back of every player's Upper Deck card memorized. Earlier today, while looking at the rankings of the 1,357 players who could make a MLB roster, only got as far as number 32 before I'd never heard of a guy: Seung Hwan Oh, relief pitcher for the Cardinals. It's kind of like the first time I didn't recognize the star and the musical guest on SNL (probably 2006 or so...) Out of touch.

Oh, you don't know Oh?

No! If it happens in Saint Louis I do my best to ignore it completely. 

Did you ever read Faithful by Stephen King? I believe he refers to Albert Pujols as a "mysterious bat-wielding wizard who's rumored to play baseball in Missouri."

Yeah, that's off-base.

The WBC was something, huh? How is it that team Netherlands could put together an infield with Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Schoop, Jurickson Profar, Didi Gregorius and Xander Bogaerts all jockeying for shortstop, but the best outfielder they could dredge up was Kalian Sams, 30-year-old journeyman from the Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am league? What's up with the Dutch?

That's an unexplored question! Is Andruw Jones a Hall of Famer in your book?

If I liked the Braves more he would be. He was basically Ken Griffey Jr. but twice as good and one one-millionth as famous. Plus I'm pretty sure he also had back-to-back jacks with his dad, Chipper Jones, but no one talks about that.

If Black Flag were a baseball team, who are you pitching on opening day? You're giving the ball to Dez, right? I know you are!

Kira's the nimble catcher. Chuck Dukowski is basically Knoblauch. Keith Morris is the free-swinging center fielder. Chuck Biscuits is a #2 lefty, a Bruce Hurst type. Bill Stevenson is a switch-hitting high OBP third baseman. Henry is obviously Canseco. And yeah, Dez is the ace of the worst team in the league. The Wily Peralta.

Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven, at least that's what my horoscope said. 

You're right, no one up here remembers those amazing Braves teams. And I thought it was regional, except Andruw played out his career as a bit player on the Yanks like a poor man's Ruben Sierra. Except whoops, the dude was Trout-level good for five years.

You mean the glove-of-Jim-Edmonds-and-the-bat-of-Jose-Canseco-level good.
Trout level good can't really be applied to anyone at this point.

Okay, let's wrap this. Who's your 2017 Sox MVP, and what date's the last meaningful game?

Well, 'Mr. East-Coast Trout' Mookie Betts is my Sox MVP and baseball's #1 two-sport star. And the Orioles superstar Robert Andino once again sinks the Sox with a walk off single against newly re-acquired Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning of game 162, as those who forget history are condemned to always order the wrong thing at Pom's instead of just sticking to the drunken noodles. If that doesn't happen, Sox in six.

Brendan Evans is the owner of Strange Maine.

Last modified onFriday, 31 March 2017 13:43