Playing nine innings while wondering if Andrew Miller is the only one who misses Bob McClure/Randy Niemann ...
1. Without even taking salary, age, or any other factor beyond current ability to effectively pitch a baseball into consideration, trading Josh Beckett straight up for Allen Webster would have been a heck of a deal for the Red Sox. Given the circumstances of how it really went down, I don't know that heist is a strong enough word. After watching Webster's debut in the Red Sox' 5-4 extra-innings loss in Sunday's nightcap versus the Royals, it would not surprise me if he's this team's No. 3 starter well before October rolls around.
2. I'm pretty sure I brought this up in my last Nine Innings column a couple of weeks ago, but it's a mea culpa worthy of reiteration: I was so wrong in dismissing Daniel Nava as a Quadruple A guy who was emblematic of the lack of major league talent late last season. He can hit quality major league pitching, and he keeps improving. He's a valuable part of this team, and I'm glad he is. Excuse me while I cease underestimating him now.
3. I've never been more enthused about a player returning to the minor leagues with a sub-.100 batting average than I am about Jackie Bradley Jr. I suppose that's damning with faint praise, but it's not intended. He wasn't ready. When he is – and it may well happen this season – he's going to be a terrific all-around player. Maybe the results weren't there, but the clues about his bright future were everywhere.
4. As far as Papi's word choices during his speech Saturday are concerned, I'll be obnoxious about it and stick to what I said on Twitter in the aftermath of his pitch-perfect moment:
As far as I'm concerned, Papi's two-year contract is worth it just for that.— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) April 20, 2013
Sometimes the appropriate word might not be an appropriate word, if you know what I mean. Gotta love Papi.— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) April 20, 2013
5. No, I'm not sure Ryan Dempster's 12.4 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio is sustainable, but he's generally been exactly what the Red Sox hoped he would be when they signed him as a free agent over the winter. A lot was made of his struggles in Texas (5.09 ERA in 12 starts last season) and whether he could adjust to the American League successfully after 14-plus years in the National League. But he actually adjusted last year – in six of his starts for the Rangers, he pitched at least six innings while giving up two or fewer earned runs. A couple of terrible starts at the beginning of his time in Arlington skewed his final stats, but overall he was better than dependable.
6. I hate to suggest any connection whatsoever between the tragedies of the past week and something as trivial (if relevant in our city's healing) as baseball. But when Jacoby Ellsbury tapped the "Boston Strong" patch on his jersey upon scoring a run Saturday, I couldn't help but wonder: Is it possible that this extremely likable team's connection with the community increases the chances that he sticks around after the season, all offers being financially equal? I've always had the sense that Ellsbury was never quite comfortable here. But the clubhouse is as good as it's been since he came up in '07, and I wonder whether he's realized that his bond with this city in the six-plus years he's been here is stronger than he knew. I'm probably reaching, but it did cross my mind.
7. Stephen Drew is batting .100 in 34 plate appearances for the Red Sox. Jose Iglesias is batting .206 in 37 plate appearances for the PawSox. Man, this is a debate no one is winning right now.
8. From what I gather, the concern in New York is that Alex Rodriguez returns to the Yankees before Derek Jeter does. At this rate, I think there's a better chance of seeing Jorge Posada in pinstripes again before either of them comes back.
9. As for today's Complete Random Baseball Card:
It's easy to see Papi and Mo as kindred spirits in Red Sox lore – they're both passionate, charismatic, emotional sluggers who aren't/weren't always perfect but who never lack/lacked for heart. Mo's note to the city he left but never left behind was a generous reminder of that.
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.