Man Crush of the Week: Theo Epstein

 

I wouldn't go this far, but Theo did some work this offseason.

The Boston Red Sox were able to trade for Adrian Gonzalez and sign Carl Crawford in the matter of a week, pretty much securing their position as a serious World Series contender in 2011. As a result, former “wonder boy” GM Theo Epstein is already being called “unstoppable” by certain Boston media outlets.

I’m not going to go that far but Theo has, for at least a few days, made me like the Red Sox…and for that he certainly deserves the MCOW this week. Since the whole 2004 thing, the Red Sox have really supplanted the New York Yankess as my least favorite team in baseball. They took on that air of pretension after winning the World Series and Red Sox fans immediately became more annoying than Yankees fans.

But you have to applaud Theo for what he’s done, getting two of the best players at their position in the game…who also happen to be two like-able guys. Now you’re looking at a team core of Crawford, Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis. As much as I can’t stand Youkilis, that’s a team that I can not only watch, but also root for (just a little…quietly).

What’s even more awesome about the Crawford signing is that, by all accounts, Theo just swooped in out of nowhere to make this deal. Apparently he was blowing smoke by throwing money at Mariano Rivera and Cliff Lee, all the while secretly wooing Crawford. In a world where we always get unverified stories by “sources close to the situation”, it’s amazing that Theo was able to pull this off with such stealth.

Plus I had to give out some Yale love, and Theo had a much better week than the Whiffenpoofs.

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Weekly SportsPod – Colin Talks to Sow and Rass About the Red Sox and the Sports Movie Character Hall of Fame

 

The Red Sox surprised everyone by swooping Carl Crawford.

With the Boston Red Sox making some serious power plays in the last couple weeks, I had to bring on Northeast baseball expert Eric Rasmussen to get some insight. We’re also joined by Josh Sowers, and all three of us discuss which sports movie characters would have a shot at the Hall of Fame in their respective sports.

Finally we conclude with a little college hoops talk, where Rass gives us his Final Four picks and Cinderella Upset Alert. You don’t want to miss it, believe me. Enjoy.

Weekly SportsPod – Colin Talks To Rass and Sow 120910

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No-Hitter = No Career

If only I were two years older

 

Tonight, John Lester accomplished one of the most sought-after feats for a pitcher: he threw a no-hitter. When it was mentioned that Lester is only 24 years old, I got to thinking about other young studs who have burst onto the Major League scene with no-hitters early in their careers.

Unfortunately for Lester, the list isn’t pretty.

Here are all of the pitchers in the last 10 years to throw a no-hitter at the age of 25 or younger, accompanied by their career statistics. *WARNING* If your name is John Lester, you might not want to read any further.

 

Jose Jimenez: Threw a no-hitter for the Cardinals on June 25, 1999 at the age of 25 (although he is Dominican, so it’s possible he was 35). His career was shaky at best after that, adopting the closer’s role with the Colorado Rockies for four years. He saved 41 games in 2002, but still managed to lose 10 games.

Bottom Line: career record of 24-44, 4.92 ERA in 7 years.

 

Eric Milton: Threw his no-hitter at the age of 24 for the Minnesota Twins on September 11, 1999 to beat the Angels. He notched double-digit victories in four of the next five seasons, with a high of 15 wins in 2001.  His career steadily declined after signing for big money with the Reds, and now when you mention his name people say “Who? Oh yeah, him. Wait…oh ok yeah yeah I remember. What happened to him?”

Bottom Line: career record of 87-84, 4.69 ERA in 10 years.

 

A.J. Burnett: No-hit the Padres at the age of 24 while pitching for the Marlins on May 12, 2001. Burnett has gotten a lot of money since then in exchange for being one of the most inconsistent pitchers in baseball. He’ll look unhittalbe one game and then give up 10 runs the next. Needless to say his dedication and heart have been questioned.

Bottom Line: career record of 73-70, 3.81 ERA in 10 years. Not terrible, but nowhere near expectations.

 

Bud Smith: Oh boy. This is pretty much the name I was thinking of when I came up with this list. The youngest pitcher (21 years old) on the list, he tossed a no-no on September 3, 2001 to beat the Padres. There’s just no way to make this guy’s career look good. He went 6-3 that year for the Cards and 1-5 in 2002 before he went to the minors, never to return. The Good News is he did pitch with me in the Golden Baseball League in the summer of 2006. So he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.

Bottom Line: career record of 7-8, 4.95 ERA in two seasons. Sad, but hey, he can always say he threw a no-hitter in the Major Leagues.

 

Anibal Sanchez: Came to the Marlins along with Hanley Ramirez in exchange for Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett before the 2006 season. He made the move look good afer throwing a no-hitter on September 6, 2006 to beat the Diamondbacks at the ripe age of 22. He finished that season strong, going 10-3, but ran into arm trouble shortly thereafter. He started only 6 games in 2007 before scheduling his date with the operating table, and has yet to appear in a game since.

Bottom Line: career record of 12-4, 3.24 ERA in 1+ seasons. Promising start, but will he ever pitch again?

 

Justin Verlander: If Lester has a ray of sunshine, it’s Verlander. After a Rookie of the Year 2006 campaign, he threw his no-hitter on June 12, 2007 at the age of 24 in the midst of another stellar season. He finished 5th in the AL Cy Young Award voting that year, but 2008 has been a different story. This season he is just 1-7 with a robust 6.05 ERA. Is it possible he peaked a little early? Time will tell, I suppose.

Bottom Line: career record of 36-24, 4.02 ERA in 2+ seasons. Displayed Hall of Fame stuff, but throwing 104 miles per hour every pitch for 60+ starts takes a toll on the old elbow.

 

Clay Bucholz: It was scary how much Lester’s no-no resembled his teammate’s from less than a year ago. Bucholz baffled the Orioles on September 1, 2007 with a mid-90s fastball and a knee-buckling 12 to 6 curveball. The Sox were careful with Bucholz, and limited his innings for the rest of their championship 2007 season. He secured a spot in the starting rotation this season, but has struggled thus far (2-3, 5.53 ERA) and is in danger of getting sent back down if he doesn’t straighten out.

Bottom Line: career record of 4-5, 4.15 ERA in the middle of his first full season. There’s still hope for him, but history dictates a long, mediocre career.

 

As you can see, the history of youngsters throwing no-hitters does not bode well for Jon Lester’s career. Whether it’s injuries or inconsistency, bad things seem to happen to people who throw no-hitters under the age of 25.

If there’s anyone who knows how to stay humble, it’s Lester, who survived cancer to even be able to throw his no-hitter. Everybody’s rooting for you to buck the trend, Jon, and I hope you do.

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