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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Dau-back?

Brian Daubach, a fan favorite in his stint with the Sox, is heading back to his favorite team this spring with a minor league contract in hopes of earning himself a spot on the club. Check it out here.
I think it will be great to have the fellow around again. My one concern is that he seems to do his best work when he's a starter, and I'm not sure that's what we need right now. Weren't we looking for benchmen? Well, who knows. He could surprise us. Ortiz did. And the emotional factor of having him back is great. Check out the pathos, from the article above:
"One of the most bittersweet moments of Daubach's disappointing season occurred when he hit a decisive double June 9 to beat the Sox, 3-1, in Chicago, spoiling a strong outing by his friend Tim Wakefield. Daubach fought back tears afterward as he tried to describe the emotion of beating a team he never wanted to leave."
Welcome to the Sox again, Daubach.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Ah, those Yankees

Despite his fainting fit the other day, Steinbrenner was checked out of the asylum *cough* er, I mean hospital.

He's perfectly healthy, they say. Does this mean he is no longer going to make reactive, abrupt, all-around BAD moves this offseason? All I can say is, I hope he keeps on being crazy, because I like this Sox team and I think the Yanks have done much less to improve themselves.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

No A-Rod Under the Tree

The deal seems really dead this time. Seems. Who knows what's happening under the radar, but speculation on that point is worthless. I hope we get started now on Nomar's contract negotiations... I know, we've tried that, eh? I still feel like it's possible. If not... well, he's got one more year with us.

We signed the Reese, in other news. Pokey Reese is pretty good second base solution considering our remaining options. I have always liked this guy, since back when he was in the minors. He may not be an offensive Walker, but he's the kind of player that will always be helpful on defense and a wonderful addition to the bench whenever Francona decides to start Bellhorn.

I would be happy to walk into Spring Training with our team as it is; no additions and no deletions.

Monday, December 22, 2003

"Final" deadline Tuesday

While Larry Luccino's statement was not taken as Gospel by anyone, the A-Rod/Manny trade seemed a lot less likely these last few days until tonight. The fact that Hicks has set a final deadline for the talks (4pm Tuesday) indicates both that talks have been continuing (something most people knew anyway) and that we will finally know - supposedly - on that day.

Unless something catastrophic happens before then, that might be the next time I update.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Deal is dead?

According to this statement by Larry Luccino, the deal between the Sox and Rangers is "dead." Now, whether it is permanently deceased remains to be seen, but I think that it's clear that Theo, Larry, and John have some decisions to make. I don't see them wanting to enter next season without a shortstop on ink for many years, which means that if this deal really is gone, they will likely retry the Nomar front. Will Nomar be too disgruntled to accept a decent offer? Will Sox fans be too disappointed to accept him back in the fold? I don't think so: enough New Englanders are feeling relief that the deal died; Nomar himself seems to genuinely like Boston at least enough that a deal is possible. I didn't say probable.

In a state of suspense...

The first restructuring of A-Rod's contract was rejected by the union. However, the fact that it reached the union means it is only a matter of time and effort before Alex Rodriguez will be our new short stop. There are still a lot of questions: where will Nomar end up? For whom will we trade him? We should find this all out in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

The Big Deal is Imminent

Every source under the sun is saying that the deal with Garciaparra, Ramirez, Rodriguez et al is close to being completed as of today. I won't hypothesize as to the other players included because that report changes by the minute.

Tejada's signing was for about 12 million a year, and Nomar apparently still wanted another 25% (for $15 mil a year) - an amount which our ownership does not feel comfortable shelling. I hate this. I really hate this... but, it seems like that's all we have as options now.

First I hear of a done deal will be relayed.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Folks, Meet Foulke... Our New Closer

The title about says it all. Foulke has accepted the Red Sox' offer for a 3-year, $21 million contract (with a fourth-year option). It's now looking like we not only have the best starting rotation in the majors, but perhaps the best bullpen too... I might be biased, but not that biased. This is GOOD. In addition, we have the possibilities of using Williamson or Kim as bargaining chips for a second baseman.

The frosting on the cake of course is the tabling of the A-Rod for Manny trade talks. Apparently the Sox' first priority is at least trying to resign Nomar. Hey, if it doesn't happen... at least we'll know that we tried to keep our star shortstop before we try for a new one. This feels good.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Changes in the East

A few knowns: Pettite is in Houston. Translates: Yankees lost a solid starter, giving the Sox a clear advantage in the starting rotation. Toronto has Miguel Batista now, with a solid rotation evolving.

A few good bets: The Yankees picking up Brown looks like a strong possibility. If he stays healthy, then he might be better than Pettite was. Boston's advantage would shrink considerably in that case. Of course, Boston's still pursuing the whole Rodriguez deal, which would change things - though how positively really depends on who we'd get for Nomar.

A few random possibilities: Baltimore bidding on Nomar seems a possibility - and we'd likely just leave it a possibility, because of the negative effects of having our ex-star in the AL east, but still. Foulke, now, seems merely a possibility, despite the Red Sox altering their offer for him to include a fourth year - because sentimentality seems to be pushing for Oakland. Leaving... who to close? Williamson? or do we include a closer in the Nomar trade possibility?

All the sources are voting for the Sox to lead the AL East as things currently stand... but if things get shaken up / stay stagnant / evolve in just the right way... all bets could be off.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Wheeling and Dealing

I guess I'm not the only one who feels like this is a particularly fierce Hot Stove Year... check out Boswell's Column in the Washington Post.

The latest news is that Pettite has agreed to Houston's offer. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the MFY (Yankees, for the uninitiated) had a pitching rotation consisting of Mussina, Vasquez, nada, nada, nada? I've never been this unintimidated by the Yankees in years!

And finally, back to the fiercest thread of them all in the baseball world: ARod? Nomar? Manny? ...I have to say that this whole deal is finally making sense to me. It seems pretty indisputable now that as much as Nomar says on the radio he'd love to stay with the Sox, the price isn't right. I mean, last spring he apparently turned down a four-year, $60 million offer - that's $15 million a year. So all the wishful thinkers who imagined that if only Henry would offer Nomar $12 million he'd stay... are wishful thinkers. Of course, we really can't blame this on Nomar because we have no idea how much is his agent. One thing I have to say is: I want this figured out soon. If I have to get used to A-Rod on our team and Nomar out west, I want to get acclimated well before the season.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Malaska

In their continued attempt to bolster our pitching staff, the Red Sox acquired lefty Malaska from the Tampa Bay Rays' waivers. He only played a bit for the team last year (16.0 innings, in 22 appearances), having been quickly promoted from AA to AAA to the majors, but his numbers were quite impressive: a 2.81 era and a .232 opposing batting average.

It appears that with or without Foulke, we should have a solid pitching squad next year. I only hope that we don't focus on pitching at the expense of our league-best offense.

Walker et al

Well, Walker's officially parting ways with our Red Sox, and he's taking with him five other free agents. I'm not surprised by any of them really, and he's the only one I'm going to regret losing. Walker wasn't a stellar defenseman, but he was a solid hitter and he was someone who wants that spot and can at least play second base for us. Adam Kennedy seems the most likely replacement, and that will only happen if we deal Nomar.

According to the Dallas News, it seems clear that Texas wants A-Rod out of there. The newspaper had an article about the possible trade, a column that bashed A-Rod and even remarked that Manny might be transacted from Texas to New York (!!), and an opinion poll on whether their star player actually deserved his MVP. Their owner is being less upfront to the media, saying that he still expects Rodriguez to be the shortstop next year... but another article says that the deal should be completed, if it is, by the end of the Winter Meetings that begin friday. So we don't have long to wait.

If this happens, who do we get in centerfield? Now, I'd just love to nab Guerrero after he was unceremoniously dumped by the silly, silly Montreal Expos *cough*MLB*cough* but the 15ish million he should earn doesn't seem to be in our budget. I might be surprised, but it just doesn't seem possible. I hope Theo has a plan for all of this.

Second Base and Other Problems

In the shadow of the prospect of the A-Rod trade, the Sox still have some key issues. Namely, the one that is an issue regardless of what the trade is: second base.

Of course, the trade possibility is INVOLVED in this issue, because we would always have the possibility of trading for a second-baseman with either Manny or Nomar's transaction. And, as the Nomar-loving world would have it, there are always the persistent pleaders for a Nomar-to-second-base move. Since gaining A-Rod means gaining a lot of salary, this "possibility" seems idyllic but impossible. Who then are our options?

We'll find out Monday if Chicago White Sox offered arbitration to either Roberto Alomar or Graffanino. Detroit is close to a deal with Vina. Other possibilities, if all of these prove impossible grabs, there's possibilities of trying to nab Rey Sanchez, Pokey Reese, or any of a number of less noteworthy infielders. I'm honestly not very happy with any of the options, after having read all the stats on every free agent second basemen and ones who are in prime "trading" range. Not one seems to hold a candle to our own Walker... who, it appears, will not be "our own" after all.

What's Theo got up his sleeve? I can't believe he's letting the second-baseman issue slide in favor of other trades; the only possibility is that he already knows who he wants and is taking steps to get him. Now, a few risky people have offered the possibility that the Red Sox put in a bid for Kaz Matsui, but latest reports at MLB.com continue to favor the Mets although there is the clause that he's been communicating with "four other clubs." I don't really think that Matsui is "it," however. All I can imagine is that the second baseman is going to come from a trade that Theo's manufacturing with Manny and/or Nomar.

What's interesting is that while the A-Rod-Manny rumors are intensifying, little is intensifying about anybody's interest in Nomar. Obviously, that trade is highly dependent on the former, but you would imagine someone out west would be expressing more than lukewarm interest in one of the game's premier shortstops. Anaheim was the team that seemed most likely, but they certainly haven't made any public leap about it. In addition, their second-baseman Kennedy is "all right" but not really even as interesting as Walker, even after his ALCS MVP in 2002.

Sigh.

We'll just have to wait through this long December to find out what Henry and Epstein decide. That, and watch the sites and blogs. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Hot Stove: Shortstops Simmering

As if getting a new star pitcher in Schilling and a brand-new manager in Francona was not enough excitement in the Red Sox Nation for a week, it seems talks are heating up between Henry and Rangers' shortstop Garciaparra.

A deal of this magnitude could not, it seems, depend on anyone but the owner. It's really too bad we weren't dealing with the Rangers owner from a while back *cough*Bush*cough* because negotiations might have been a little more interesting what with the creative language and all, but things have enough weight anyways to keep us riveted.

I must admit, Nomar has always been my favorite Red Sox player, because he was homegrown, because of all his quirky rituals, because even though he's not as smooth as other shortstops, he also makes these fantastic plays you can't imagine anyone else pulling off. My heart pulls for keeping him with the team that watched him grow from Rookie of the Year to batting champion to All-Star.

However, to be a real Red Sox fan, you have to be flexible in your loves. When we lost Roger, we were ready to curse him with the rest of the Yankees; we were just as ready to accept the fantastic foursome (Ortiz, Walker, Millar, Mueller) that sparkled for us last year. Rodriguez, reputed as the best shortstop and perhaps the best player in baseball, might be just the player we need to turn "1918" into a number of no significance. And he did deign to include the Sox as one of only two teams on whom he'd be willing to bestow his presence.

That's just the problem though. We all cringed when Manny had his hissyfits last year, and we were mostly offended when he said his dream was wearing the pinstripes in the Bronx. How much of an improvement will it be to gain a fellow who wants to be either on the Yankees or the Red Sox - either one, likely, because he wants a good chance to win a World Series - and in the end, will probably regret his choice if something goes wrong. He got the royal treatment in Texas, yet he still found a way to clash with his current manager. We'll get a fellow whose numbers might just beat Nomar again - but who might just ruin the clubhouse of comrades that brought us into October last year.

I just thought I'd get this out now - because if next week, Rodriguez finds his way to Fenway Park, he will become a man newly Baptized into Bostondom, and then I'll open up to him. But now - while the minds of Red Sox nation are weighing the odds and the advantages... I thought I'd say my piece.

Friday, December 05, 2003

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