October 9, 2005

HURRY FEBRUARY:

Melancholy and the Infinite Madness (Christopher Meyer, 10/08/05, Sports Blurb)

The block is crowded now, too many “idiots” failed to deliver and it is time to pay the piper. Kevin Millar is surely gone, as is Bill Mueller unless he is willing to be a bench player. Johnny Damon is gone already, though not just because of the financial realities that will come with the crazy deal the Yankees are waiting to drop in his lap. Instead, it is the rumors concerning the upwardly mobile nature of the latest Mrs. Damon that has become the reason for Johnny’s desire to change venues. After all, New York is the media capitol of the country, and the erstwhile Michele Damon is all about breaking into the world of broadcasting, even if the opportunities come thanks to her (much) more famous husband. The sad thing there is that while New York will undoubtedly take fine care of the his wife, Johnny Damon will not be able to be the personality he has become in Boston, and that could cost him far more than he would ever gain by taking the Yankee silver. Moving on, the pitching staff is sure to go through some changes also. The bullpen will likely be swept nearly clean, there are essentially no standouts there worthy of being retained by the Sox. Mike Timlin is still quality at 40 years of age, but he could well finally take that retirement he talked about a year ago. Chad Bradford and Mike Myers may linger, if there are no other options, but Jeremi Gonzalez, Matt Mantei, John Halama, and Lenny DiNardo may all be out of options. On the starting side Bronson Arroyo may have worn out his welcome, since his music career continues to be a distraction for him. Matt Clement needs to get some work done in the confidence department, but odds are the Sox will stick with him. David Wells is also likely safe if he wants to be, as he surely did better this season than many thought he was going to. Curt Schilling is another story, earning more than seventeen million dollars this season for much less than was expected of him. Perhaps that is the price of his sacrifice for bringing home the trophy in 2004. Odds are the Sox will want to keep Curt around for 2006 since they can hardly find someone of his caliber to become the staff ace. The big questions are how much will he cost for another year, and is there enough evidence to believe that he will return to past form? Time will tell on both of those questions, but one thing is certain – I still do not miss Pedro.

While the bench names may change, there were plenty of bright spots for the team in 2005 – and most will return for another tour. Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon, the aforementioned Wells, Tony Graffanino, John Olerud, and David Ortiz are on the keepers list. As mentioned previously, Johnny Damon is all but gone, but there is still time for things to prove that belief wrong…one can only hope. The big story in the off-season could be what happens with Manny Ramirez. The general consensus around the sport is that ownership has had enough of “Manny being Manny,” and will make every effort to deal him in the off-season. Of course, do not expect the team to just dump him for shiny beads as Theo will not deal a hitter like Manny for anything less than enough bits and pieces to make the Sox better in the end. Whispers surfaced a few weeks ago that Manny might be dealt to the Mets for Carlos Beltran and other considerations, but it seems unlikely that Boston would be willing to take on a contract that could end up being worse than the one they already have in Manny. However, stranger things have happened, and the Sox are well run and well informed. Maybe they know something about Beltran that no one else does. Regardless, that one move could transform the face of the Red Sox for years to come, while allowing the current ownership to continue to put their own stamp on the team and how things are done. Perhaps Dan Duquette took a little too much satisfaction in the World Series win last season.


Nixon should have been dealt years ago and they're stuck with that awful Varitek contract when Shoppach could be starting. But having Jonathon Papelbon, Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen, and Abe Alvarez from Opening Day will be a help and what they need most is outfielders, the easiest spot to fill.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 9, 2005 9:05 AM
Comments

After years and years and years of talk about 1918, the baseball gods certainly had sense of irony in having the Red Sox swept out of the playoffs by a team that hasn't won the World Series since 1917.

As for the BoSox and Yanks, Steinbrenner can sign Damon while dumping Bernie and Manny can go running off to who knows where, but whichever team does the most to solve their obvious pitching problems in 2006 will probably be the only one that makes the playoffs fir the first time in a long time.

Posted by: John at October 9, 2005 9:57 AM

The Sox should have done better than being swept by the ChiSox but perhaps, as was noted after game 3, that this is the ChiSox's year. Then again given what happened to Schilling, Foulke, Damon, Kaplar, the poor performances by Millar, Mueller, etc, and Clement and Renterria not playing as expected getting 95 wins was an achievement.

Getting players is a crapshoot. Look at the Yankees - everyone said they had the best pitching in baseball when they landed Johnson, Pavano, and Wright. Then they ended up having a poor rotation - if they didn't get lucky with Small and Chicon they would have been 10 games out.

As for the BoSox I think they overachieved in 2004 so there wasn't enough changes made or holding onto some players to get better in 2005. Huge changes will have to be made. The Manny situation is interesting - if they do get rid of Manny how does Ortiz do without Manny batting behind him? When Manny was out teams would pitch around Ortiz.

Posted by: AWW at October 9, 2005 10:30 AM

Mannie is not going anywhere. 1. He is the best hitter of his generation. 2. Without Mannie, Ortiz reverts to his Minnesota production. 3. Boston would need to pick up milions of his salary to get anyone to take him so they would be paying for the privilege.

Not that it matters. The Tribe is the new power other than the Yankees of course.

Posted by: Bob at October 9, 2005 11:24 AM

I feel about the Yanks signing Damon the way NRO feels about Bush appointing Miers.

The last thing they need is a .300-hitting no-field-no-throw centerfielder whose defense they can watch deteriorate over 5 years of the (overpaid) contract.

They already went throught this with Bernie, and he started out a much better player than Damon.

They need someone who can run, field, and throw. If they can get those qualities, then they can make do if the kid only hits .250 with a .325 obp.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 9, 2005 11:26 AM

should add: it was great for the real Sox to demolish the New Englanders.

This White Sox run is a big thumb in the eye of the Cub-owning Trib.

Not just b/c the South-Side rivals are winning, but b/c their bete-noire Mayor Daily, is a big Sox fan and is along for the ride. He was at Fenway for the clincher and has been all over the news here b/c of it.

Can't buy that sort of positive publicity. Should put a dent in the Trib's get--Daily campaign.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 9, 2005 11:32 AM

Bob:

If they can get Beltran, who's actually capable of playing the outfield, they ought to.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 11:39 AM

The Mariners are in desperate need of a top pitcher, but with both Boston and NY looking for pitching, the M's will once again be left holding the empty bag or overpaying for someone on the downside of their career.

Of course, they need much more than just a pitcher. It wouldn't surprise me to see them overpay to get Varitek to shore up their mess at catcher. That would certainly help Boston out of their situation.

Posted by: Patrick H at October 9, 2005 11:43 AM

Jim in Chicago,
If you aren't already reading Right Wing Nuthouse, go there http://www.rightwingnuthouse.com/ now. Mr. Moran is producing some great writing on the Pale Hose run.

Posted by: JimBobElrod at October 9, 2005 11:56 AM

Trade Guardado for a young starter or two & even while you develop them you've got:


Felix
Madritsch
Meche
Piniero
Jeff Harris

Soriano, Mateo & Putz in the bullpen

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 12:10 PM

oj - Shoppach is a career backup if he makes the majors. Varitek's contract was rich but he's a player you want on the field. The Renteria contract was folly, they would have been better off with Orlando Cabrera for $6 million.

Posted by: pj at October 9, 2005 12:22 PM

They lost the division and the playoffs because Varitek batted.

Posted by: oj at October 9, 2005 12:31 PM

Who said Limbo is gone?
Welcome friends to the emerging Era of the Tampa Bay DevilRays.

Posted by: sducks at October 9, 2005 1:32 PM

The M's won't shell out much for a catcher because they're going to bring up Jeff Clement in 2007 at the latest--possibly late 2006. They're going to look for pop in LF--I'd trade Morse & someone out of the bullpen for someone with halfway decent numbers.

Meanwhile, Madritsch is going in for surgery again and Meche continues to be lousy--though he's been fantastic out of the bullpen, so hopefully he'll end up there. Fortunately, I expect Moyer to be back next year, hopefully pitching only at home, where he was undefeated. We'll sign at least one FA pitcher, the question is whether or not we'll overpay for someone mediocre.

The dirty little secret is that the M's have almost as much cash to play with as Boston & NY. Not quite, but closer than most teams. Money won't be the problem in finding a pitcher, but the allure of playing for a playoff team instead of the Mariners is going to hurt.

Posted by: Timothy at October 9, 2005 4:09 PM

Night Game -- Paul Simon

There were two men down
And the score tied
In the bottom of the eight
When the pitcher died

And they laid his spikes
On the pitchers mound
And his uniform was torn
And his number was left on the ground

Then the night turned cold
Colder than the moon
The stars were white as bones
The stadium was old
Older than the screams
Older than these teams

There were three men down
And the season lost
And the tarpaulin was rolled
Upon the winter frost

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 9, 2005 6:06 PM
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