6. Isn't it about time Curt Young got some additional kudos for his work during his first season as the Red Sox' pitching coach? John Farrell was a tough act to follow, an open-minded and extraordinarily prepared coach who deserved the opportunity he has in Toronto. And yet the argument can be made that his successor is getting positive results or seeing genuine progress from more pitchers than he ever did. Josh Beckett is pitching as well as he has since -- well, when? The beginning of the 2008 season? Jonathan Papelbon has found his dominant form. Andrew Miller and Franklin Morales are dropping hints that they can live up to their once-vast promise. Matt Albers has struggled lately but the first half of his season is the best he's pitched in his career. The Red Sox have a diverse staff in terms of ability and stuff, and from this perch it sure appears that Young has done a fine job getting the best out of just about everyone.
7. Ultimate Zone Rating is justifiably regarded as a flawed metric, and it's common sense that the results alone should never be considered be-all, end-all in assessing a defensive player. But the data is fun to consider -- Jacoby Ellsbury, good! Curtis Granderson, bad! -- and it can be an element that helps you arrive at a conclusion even if it is not a conclusion in itself. When Brett Gardner ranged to his left and made an outstanding/exasperating catch on a Marco Scutaro liner in the eighth (Bob Ryan described the play as "the baseball equivalent of catching a ball in Saugus that left someone’s bat on Boston Common"), I peaked at his UZR out of curiosity and discovered he's leading all major leaguers in the metric this season. Then again, Nick Swisher, the Yankees right fielder, has the best UZR in the majors at his position, and he often fields the ball like he suspects someone pulled a pin from it before heaving it from a bunker.
8. My colleague Mr. Cafardo would probably file this under Apropos of Nothing, but between Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones, the Yankees have 16 Gold Gloves on their bench. Though both have been useful as role players this season -- particularly Jones, who has 11 homers and an .868 OPS in 164 plate appearances -- there is also an element of "what if" to both of their careers. Jones was on a Cooperstown path before ballooning in his early 30s -- he hit 51 homers just six years ago at age 28. Perhaps this comes as a surprise, but so was Chavez, who, at age 27, had six seasons in which he hit between 26 and 34 homers and all six of his Gold Gloves. He was Ryan Zimmerman before Ryan Zimmerman.
9. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
Pat Rockett. Great baseball name. Not-so-great baseball player, to be kind, as FanGraphs' Dave Cameron noted in a terrific piece yesterday that searched for the answer to this question: Is Adam Dunn having the worst season a proven good player has ever had? (Short answer: Yup. But read the post anyway. It's good stuff.)
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.