Sunday, January 29, 2006


In the clear light of day, I am sitting and looking at the 2006 Red Sox, and I have to be pretty pleased. They are a contender, still, and have gotten younger in the process. They've acquired a young ace-quality starter, dumped an albatross contract at short, and have two guys in Crisp and Youks who are entering the supposed prime of their careers getting a shot at being core contributors. While I am not sold on either player's defensive abilities at their new positions, you have to be a little excited to watch them hit.

Meanwhile they have a strong core of experienced players to provide leadership and stability. Varitek, Ortiz, Schilling, Nixon and the newly acquired Snow (I am a huge fan of this signing) know how to win, and create a clubhouse culture that fosters winning.

There will probably still be a deal with Alex Gonzalez, and it's pretty hard for me to believe Dustan Mohr is the answer for a Nixon platoon-mate, but if this was the group we went to war with in April, I wouldn't complain. We still have a surplus of pitching to carry us through injuries or get us a missing piece come July. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2006 Red Sox have a chance. Regardless of what happens now, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Well, it's done. In retrospect, I always assumed Theo-gate would be the biggest operatic theme of the off-season, but I think the Crisp Saga tops it. After all the ballyhoo, an "acceptable" deal was reached.

According to ESPN tonight "Along with Crisp, Cleveland sent reliever David Riske and backup catcher Josh Bard to Boston for Mota, third base prospect Andy Marte, catcher Kelly Shoppach, a player to be named and cash." Needless to say I am ecstatic Manny Delcarmen was not added to the bounty, so I am not out-and-out complaining.

At this point the deal looks good for both teams, with Crisp's and to a much lesser extent Riske's big league performances very nearly balancing Marte and Shoppach's upside and Mota's talent. The Sox are desperate for a CF and are buying into Crisp's PECOTA projections, so this plus the Red Sox's obvious weak bargaining position explains the cash/PTBNL and the inclusion of the barely alive form of Josh "The Somewhat Undead" Bard. OK, I am kidding, I understand Pawtucket needs a decent backstop.

Everyone is nervous about this deal, Indian and Sox fans alike, and I guess that more than anything else says it's probably fair. I in my most insane moments imagined Crisp getting freaked out by playing in Boston, hitting lead-off, playing CF, and playing Boston (not a typo) and completely shitting the bed, while Marte fulfilled all expectations, Shoppach put it all together, Mota pitched all year, etc. This is the worst-case scenario, and quite frankly from a risk-only perspective the Sox have the worst of it because all of our eggs are in one basket. If Crisp fails, the trade immediately deteriorates into the Chernobyl realm from the Sox perspective.

Fortunately Crisp does in fact appear to be a solid player and projects well for 2006, although as I have mentioned too many times already, his CF defense is at best a work in progress. Still, when the alternative is Adam Stern, much as I root for his success, I have to look at what Covelli has accomplished, suck it up, and say it: welcome Coco, and cowboy up. From here on in, I am behind you, to the point of excess.

Note: As I write this, my wife is bordering on criminal annoyance by counting down the seconds until I have to stop thinking about the Red Sox. Case in point.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

This Just In: Shapiro A Total Douche

I blame myself to some extent. I just assumed that Shapiro was going for Delcarmen INSTEAD of Mota, since, you know, Mota "failed" his physical. But no, Shapiro is requesting that the Sox send Delcarmen in ADDITION to Marte, Shoppach, Mota, and one of Jed Hoyer's first two children. Again, I am using all caps for emphasis.

In return he will send over Coco Crisp, David Riske, and Josh Bard (maybe). One, has anyone ever gone from well-rated to hideously over-rated faster than Crisp? Christ, with Marte everything written is over-rating; he's never done anything. Crisp in three days has gone from a young, somewhat cost-controlled left-fielder who may or may not be able to play center and bat lead-off to a phenomenal defensive center-fielder and a better hitter than Johnny Damon any day of the week.

Riske is a set-up man with good peripherals (lately) who eats a lot of innings as a set-up guy but doesn't appear to thrive in the fire (hence Gammons reportedly referring to him has a 6th inning guy - woo hoo!). Bard is completely, utterly useless. He could perhaps be an extra character in The Drew Carey Show. That's the role I see him in.

I always felt that the press surrounding the Mota physical always reeked of a set-up, and that media-wise in general Shapiro was stoking the fire under the Boston FO to force a deal with the leak his FO later complained about. By getting the Sox' ultra-rabid fanbase fired up about a new centerfielder he put incredible pressure on the Sox to get the deal done somehow, some way, and then tried to bait-and-switch his way into Delcarmen. Or so I thought. I would have given him some credit for gamesmanship there, especially in light of his underestimating his own fanbase's averse reaction to the deal, but this is just wretched, stinking, avarice.

I hope the Sox stay far, far away from Shapiro unless he comes back to earth. This whole thing has left a very sour taste in my mouth, and I will not be looking favorably on the Indians this season. In the past I barely looked upon them at all, but now I will focus the stink-eye on them - that's right, the stink-eye - and delight in their demise, or worst-case scenario be disgusted with their wild-card scramblings. Hopefully the former.

Yes, I am taking it too personally. I'm a Red Sox fan. It's what we do.

Cirque du So Lame (like my puns)

I am annoyed now. Following the Red Sox offseason has begun to resemble working in far too many aspects. The endless communications (via messageboard, but still), the grandiose plans and expectations, the false hope, and then the poor execution and politically based roadblocks that ensure failure.

Some of the stories are success stories (at least in my mind) like the Theo Epstein saga. Theo signs! No, he's pissed! Theo leaves! Theo is working behind the curtains like the Wizard of Oz, but will never come back! Wait, there he is! He's back! No, he was just delivering lunch. Wait again, he really is back?! Yay! But Dan Shaughnessy is throwing his feces at him! Is that really necessary? Why Dan, why?!?

I'm ecstatic Theo is back. Everyone who wants the Red Sox to win World Series' (plural) should be pleased by this outcome. But wouldn't it have been nice if he didn't leave? Wouldn't it have been nice if he was here and had the sack to say "You know what, we don't value Christ as much as Christ does, or that douche in New York does. Let's get a centerfielder now, and not waste time and energy pretending we did everything we could to keep Christ. I know he's the Son of God and all, but in the end winning is better than looking nice, and we won't win with a shitbum in center." That would put me in the position of liking the current Red Sox General Manager without being annoyed. That would be good.

That would also put me in the position of being pleased with the 2006 Red Sox center fielder. I'll say this - I am higher on Adam Stern than most people are. I think he has a shot at being a major leaguer. He has decent tools, works hard, and has put up some decent numbers in the past. He doesn't have much pop, but that has hardly been a prerequisite for success at the centerfield position. I think he'll turn into a decent 4th outfielder. Still, when your payroll is hovering around $120 million, he is probably not your starting CF when there are better to be had.

In fact, your starting centerfielder should be someone like Coco Crisp. In fact, except for the deal getting leaked to a Cleveland fanbase who went apeshit (it should be noted that much of the Sox fanbase, and most baseball analysts, also went apeshit) Coco Crisp IS the Red Sox centerfielder now. I firmly believe that Mota went through the physical just fine, but Shapiro told his doctors to kill the deal...either because of the fan backlash, or because he wanted a free pass to go after Delcarmen. There isn't a single pitcher in the bigs who would pass a physical whose outcome had to be the statement "he will pitch every day you need him for the rest of the year". It just wouldn't happen.

Currently we are in the middle of a rumor firestorm involving like 10 centerfielders. Seriously. People are just making shit up. It's fun, for about 15 minutes, and then you start to get a little annoyed that we still have no centerfielder, none of the proposed trades make any sense when you put yourself in the other team's shoes unless the Sox give up somebody that makes you uneasy, and the only thing actually HAPPENING is that we signed Dustan Mohr. I live in San Francisco. I have seen Dustan Mohr. This is no bueno.

I'm glad the front office is not making stupid deals (while I wasn't really on the Marte for Crisp bandwagon, I could understand the logic in spite of Coco's never really succeeding defensively in CF). I don't want Shapiro to get Manny Delcarmen in a stupid stunt like the "failed" physical. I don't want to overpay in any way shape or form right now, not for the likes of Luis Matos or Austin Kearns. But what I'd really like is to stop hearing about it. The way this off-season is shaping up, everyone is going to hold out until it's obvious they make a win-win or go with what they have until July. We don't need to speculate on 9-player trades that will never happen. We don't need sportswriters making up trade rumors to sell newspapers and insert themselves into the story. And apparently, if deals are in the works, we don't need leaks. Amen.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


The latest rumor, per Boston Dirt Dogs is that Ken Griffey Jr. will be coming aboard in a deal involving the newly-signed Bronson Arroyo. I suspect most people's first reaction, as mine was, is "NO! They call him Mr. Glass!" This is a very valid sentiment.

Moreover, the Arroyo signing is a good one for the Sox. Bronson, in spite of some glaring meltdowns in big games, is an underrated player. He is obviously the most tradeable commodity the Sox have. He is young, eats up innings, and is, declining K/9 rates be damned, not a bad pitcher. He's never been on the DL. He is cheap. He plays guitar, and makes bad hair decisions. There is nothing not to like.

Even assuming Griffey holds up for 500 ABs and produces like he's capable of, he is 36 years old (exactly the age we, certainly I, have been citing as the crap years of Captain Caveman's fat contract with the MFYs)and would serve only as a bridge to Ellsbury. Is that fair market value for Arroyo? Probably not, but we could be in a position where we simply cannot get fair market value in any deal for a CF.

If Griffey holds up to the numbers he put up last year, even with some regression, for another two years, I like this deal. His OPS last season was .942. He hit 35 dings in under 500 ABs. In Fenway that number is likely to increase, which hopefully means other guys will see better pitches. He helps the team if he stays on the field, although not IN the field, where his defense is careening into Bernie Williams territory. Fortunately we have defensive whiz Adam Stern to bring into blowouts.

If he "pulls a Griffey" and is on the DL by May (in Vegas the odds on this can't be good, probably like 8/5) then we've given Arroyo away for no reason, and people are skulking down Yawkey Way carrying tire irons. It's possible that given the disparity in the contracts, and the value of the players, that the Sox would get a prospect back too. We'll see how it plays out. Once again, the 2006 offseason can be described with one word: ambivalent.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Wait for it...

Happy New Year loyal Red Sox fans and obsessives. It didn't take long for 2006 see a flurry of activity in the completely unfounded trade rumormill. The actual trading front of course remains wholly inactive, and quite frankly the wheels are starting to come off the bandwagon as we are still without an all-star SS and CF, and have a (gasp) platoon situation at one, possibly both corners.

I will be the first to acknowledge that the hole in CF is glaring. That's right, glaring. Even now, I can feel it focusing it's eerily angry gaze on me, bathing me in it's bitter and unnecessary glow. The outstanding question remains: there was absolutely no way in hell Christ was coming back - if you wanted Reed why not pull the trigger when you had some leverage? At this point he's quite a bit more expensive - and quite a bit more agreeable - than Michaels given their difference in age. Crisp is really out of the question in spite of the bizarre fantasies of some of our more delusional compatriots. Of course, one of them has to materialize, because as nifty as it would be to have the league's only Canadian Jew patrolling center, it sounds like Stern needs a little more seasoning to be at all productive in the bigs.

Otherwise, I am content with our current position. Given the available options, I am perfectly happy with Cora at SS for a season (or half-season). As I dedicated far too much effort to earlier in this blog I believe he will mirror Renteria's offensive performance (with the exception of one staggering weekend against the Evil Empire) while giving us more leather at short, for far shorter money.

I live in San Francisco and love the Snow acquisition. He hit .313 with runners in scoring position in 2006, and .373 with RISP after the all-star break, and watching him that was the outcome you expected when he stepped into the box. His glove is impeccable, and he is a great clubhouse guy (which to me means preserving an atmosphere where you believe you will win). He can only help Youks and the other rookies. Plus, he saved Dusty Baker's son; that has to count for something.

At third, I think Lowell will produce, and I think Youks will make the most of his opportunities there, or will bring something valuable back via trade. If not, Marte is ready to step in. We are stocked there, and no, I don't perceive that it's a problem.

With Manny sticking around, and the relative ease with which we should be able to pick up a serviceable platoon-mate for Nixon, the offense will provide runs for a pitching staff that is (on paper at least) much improved from last year. At the end of the game, it's about sscoring more runs than you let in. Until this team proves it cannot do that with regularity, why worry? Remember, this team was .500 at the all-star break for the past two seasons.

Right now you can bet that every conversation includes one or more of the names Marte, Lester, Papelbon, and Pedroia. As bored as I am right now, I am sticking to the "no news is good news" position until that changes.