Friday, February 29, 2008


Spring training is in full swing, and workouts have given way to the first games of the year. We've got our first blowouts (Red Sox 24, Boston College 0), our first nail-biters (Red Sox 15, Northeastern 0, wait...never mind), and of course, our first loudmouth sighting. The Yankees (you knew this was coming, right?) Joba Chamberlain, whom it hasn't taken much effort to begin disliking, is setting himself up as the player version of Hank Steinbrenner.

Yes, thats an insult.

Chamberlain, who with a first name like "Joba" obviously has trouble keeping his mouth closed, is talking smack already. Not to the Red Sox (yet), and not to his teammates (that we know of), but to players from the University of South Florida. Because... they... uh... nope, I got nothing.

Speaking at the U.S.F. banquet, Chamberlain said he’d buy dinner to the USF leadoff man if he manages to get on base. One of the reporters asked, 'What if he gets a hit?' “That ain’t gonna happen," said an obviously drunk-with-himself Chamberlain.

Its going to be fun sticking it to this blowhard in 2008.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


If you squint your eyes really hard, you can see a small bit of controversy in Fort Myers. The Red Sox had their latest and hopefully last only semi-controversial happening a few days ago when Coco Crisp, in a disarmingly gentle manner, stated he would welcome a trade if he does not end up as the starting center fielder.


The disembodied voices on WEEI have decided that Jacoby Ellsbury will be the starter based on his stellar output at the end of last year and in the post season, so this means Crisp must be traded. However, the Red Sox have made no such pronouncement. I don't think the Sox would have a problem with Ellsbury starting, but I also don't think they'd mind if Coco ended up as the starter.

Ellsbury hit .348/.394/.530 last year, but that is likely well over his head. He'll have to keep dinking the doubles down the line to maintain that type of slugging percentage. That won't happen, at least not until his real power improves. BP's PECOTA only projects him to hit .287./346/.395 this season, with a VORP of 9.6. That's not bad, but its nothing like what he hit last season, and its not too much different than Crisp's projected .278/.338/.407 and 8.3 VORP. And when you factor in Coco's outstanding defense, the projections get pretty even.

Still, you'd think that the Sox would go with the young guy who has a chance to improve, while trading the valuable veteran. Of course, if Crisp were really valuable, the Sox would have traded him, right? Well, not really, no. Value depends on a number of things. One of those things is quality and another is scarcity. When you have both then you have a valuable trading chip. Think Johan Santana. When you have only one, well, that's when it gets difficult. (And when you have neither, you just cut the bastard.)

The problem for the Sox is that there were about ten starting center fielders on the market this past offseason, and that tends to water down value (which makes the Angels and Giants all the more stupid). If there are ten teams and only one player, that player is going to make a mint, but when its the other way around, ten players and one team, any of those players would be lucky to get a spring training non-roster invite regardless of how good they are. That's an extreme example to illustrate the point, but its a valid point nonetheless.

So, back to Crisp (who's name I keep typing as "Crips"). With few if any teams looking for center fielders, and two center fielders still left on the free agent market (Corey Patterson and Kenny Lofton), the likelihood that the Sox can find a good return for Crisp is pretty much non-existent. GM Theo Epstein isn't going to give Crisp away for nothing, so there you are. Crisp likely won't be going anywhere in the near future, whether he wants a trade or not.

This doesn't mean that Crisp won't be traded later this season. Injuries, both to the Sox and to other teams, have a way of fixing situations like this one.

What I don't understand is why this has to be a problem. From the Sox perspective, they have two good center fielders on their roster. This is injury insurance, as well as both a quality defensive replacement and an excellent replacement base runner in the late innings off the bench. These are luxuries that many teams don't have, and they are luxuries that can help the Sox win games this year.

At some point the market will turn and a good deal will come available and at that point, the Sox will be able to leverage their largess towards value in another area. But for now, both Crisp and Ellsbury can make the '08 Red Sox a better team.

See? Controversy doesn't have to be so bad.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


There wasn't a lot of mystery here. The Sox wanted Terry Francona to stay, and Francona wanted to stay. The only questions were exactly how much he should be paid and for how long. This afternoon the sides finally agreed upon a number and a length of time.

Francona is exceedingly competent, and unfailingly prepared. Not only does he know how to handle people's egos, but he handles the media and fans with a deft hand as well. Looking past Francona's record in Philly and hiring him after the '03 season was one of GM Theo Epstein's biggest coups. This contract is good news for all Sox fans.

Francona's contract puts him in the upper echelon of managers, as he should be, but doesn't break any new ground for managers. In fact, I think Francona's contract makes it hard for other managers to make the argument that they deserve similar money. There are two managers making $4M a year and they have won two and four World Series a piece. All management has to say is, 'how many World Series have you won?' and the argument ends right there.

While this may not break any new ground for managers, its pretty good for both Francona and the Red Sox.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


While most major league teams go to spring training hoping to figure out a fair percentage of the roster, the Red Sox go into camp this season with very few questions to answer. Due to almost all of the (World Series Champion) roster returning, the Sox themselves do not have much to do this spring training aside from simply getting ready for the year ahead.

There are three spring training battles however. Nobody would describe them as battle-royales, more like royales-with-cheese. And, no, I don't know what that means. Anyway, to the battle stations!

1. Center Field - Barring serious injury or Coco Crisp turning into Grady Sizemore, this is really a question for the immediate present. After not being dealt this winter for Johan Santana, the Red Sox are essentially committing to Jacoby Ellsbury as the center fielder for the Red Sox in 2009.

However, Crisp and his gold glove-level defense* are still on the roster. And, with a number of fly ball pitchers in the rotation and the bullpen, playing Crisp, despite his offensive offense (a term I just don't hear enough of) isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. (The Red Sox won the World Series with Crisp starting through most of the ALCS last season, remember?)

Still, at minimum, Ellsbury is the future in Boston. Crisp has made it known that he would like a trade if he isn't going to play every day, but off the top of my head, I can't think of a team that would be willing to trade anything of significance for Crisp at this stage. Maybe the Twins would still be interested, but they likely don't fancy themselves a contender this year, so trading for a veteran like Crisp probably doesn't suit them well.

Theo is likely working the phones to see what the market is for a good field no hit center fielder. I don't imagine playing one or the other will result in any substantial difference in the Sox record, at least through the first few months of the year. Therefore, Theo can bide his time a bit, and wait to see what deals come to him. In any case, expect Ellsbury to be the starter beginning sometime before the All-Star break, and ending sometime in about a decade.

2. 5th Starter - The Sox were entering spring training with five starters penciled into their five man rotation. Five men for five spots. Perfect. Nothing could mess that up... poop. Oh well. Schilling's injury threw a monkey wrench through that sugar glass window.

An injury of this nature could wreck the season for another team, but the Sox were prepared. Clay Buchholz, who's name I've just recently learned to spell, should be the fifth starter coming out of Ft. Myers. The Sox are making noise about using His Craziness, Julian Tavarez or Kyle "Not Bronson Arroyo" Snyder, but neither of those pitchers is half the pitcher Buchholz is. True, the Sox will have to manage his innings, but there's no reason they can't do that from the rotation.

We know what we'll be getting from Tavarez and Snyder. This isn't to denigrate them, there's a reason they're on the roster, but unlike last season when the Yankees started the year with a record of -8-7,000, the Red Sox are going to need to win to stay in first place. That means getting quality outings as often as possible. Which is why they need their best pitchers to throw for the big club, and not Pawtucket.

Buchholz should be and very likely will fill Schilling's shoes.

3. Back End of the Bull Pen - TGNG. That's Thank God No Gagne. The Red Sox won't have to worry now that Frenchy McSteroids has taken his arsonist ass to Milwaukee. Minus FMcS, the Sox have some slots filled. Which slots are those? Well, funny you should ask. How do you like them apples?

Papelbon, Okajima, Snyder, Tavarez, Timlin, and Vasquez would seem to be locks based on a combination of performance, salary, and service time. That leaves one slot left to fill.

So who will the Sox get to fill that last slot. There are a few contenders to that most precious of thrones. The 'big' names go thusly:

Brian Corey (pros: good control; cons: doesn't throw hard), David Aardsma (pros: throws hard; cons: doesn't know where its going), Craig Hansen (pros: doesn't snore anymore; cons: not a very good pitcher).

Unless Hansen takes a step forward, I expect him to end up back in AAA ball. I think the Sox are going to be very careful with him after trying to force his way into the bigs. Corey is an intriguing option. He seems to pitch effectively where ever he is, but since he isn't a hard thrower and he isn't left handed, he keeps needing to prove himself. I wouldn't be surprised if he was the last guy to make the pen.

*The Gold Gloves are such a joke that I don't even like using them to describe defensive quality. However, by most accounts, both visual and statistical, Crisp played an outstanding center field last season.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Time to get our title defense on.

Pitchers and catchers report to Ft. Myers today. I'm not scheduled to report for another month, but I am supposed to report to work (and write a report), so I'll just say this: it couldn't have come soon enough.

Go Sox!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Its an exciting time of year here in Red Sox land (also known as 'my head'). We celebrated truck day in the typical fashion, by wearing as much Red Sox gear to work humanly as possible. We are starting to read stories in the Boston papers about players turning up 'in great shape' or 'in the shape of his life.' You never seem to read what a tub of goo someone is, or how many ho-ho's they ate over the winter, or how Curt Schilling hurt his shoulder shoving chicken wings into his gullet at Wing Bowl.*

Yes, the team is assembling for another run down in sunny and perfect (at least for two months before it gets run over by another 'storm event') Ft. Myers. This is the time of year when we all dream, my friends. We dream of the impossible, the downright improbable, and the likely. For example, Roger Clemens shutting his pie hole, Mike Lowell hitting .330+ again, and Johnny Damon professing his love for the Yankees. Again. Still, there is much work to be done, roster decisions to be sorted out, injuries to be accounted for, and predictions to be written, and then denied.

Turning to the '08 Sox, if you didn't know better you might mistake this team for the '07 (World Champion) version. To be sure there are similarities, but there are also differences. Probably the biggest change will be that the Sox won't be relying on Ol' Curt again this year. That's not to say they won't leave the light on for him, but the magic shoulder fairy (Jaime Farr) is gonna have to come down and rub a combination of pixie dust, IcyHot, and horse tranquilizer on there. Personally, I wouldn't expect Eli Manning to throw that touchdown pass again, if you know what I'm saying.

Without Ol' Curt hanging around, the Sox are going to have to patch a hole in their rotation. For any other team that could be a huge problem, but for this team, its just a large problem. Actually, this just proves yet again how smart, prepared, forward thinking, and straight up coated in awesome Theo Epstein is. And no, you can't bring up J.D. Drew. A week ago the Sox were headed into camp with six guys for five rotation spots with Ol' Curt, so some quick math here... carry the two... multiply by eight... move the decimal... and there you have it: now, five guys for five spots. Follow me, to the '08 Red Sox rotation:


My non-sexual mancrush on Buchholz makes it difficult to rank him fifth, but I'll get past it. *!happy place!* The danger here is that two are very young, and one is very old. To win, we need full seasons out of all those guys. One injury and instead of bringing up Buchholz, we're putting Tavarez back in there, which as we all know, often results in my fist repeatedly banging against things. This is to be avoided at all costs. Not because of the things, but because of my fist. I'm old and fragile.

There are some other options, but the Red Sox don't seem to be interested in trading prospects for 'proven innings eaters.' Frankly I don't blame them. Still, the potential for injury is there, which could serve to derail the Sox title defense.

Another potential problem area while I'm focusing on the negative here, is at catcher. Jason Varitek's best years are likely in the past, but he is still an upper echelon catcher. This speaks more to the league-wide talent level at catcher than anything else. Regardless, the Sox don't have anyone who can step in if (/when) Varitek gets hurt. You want 500 at-bats of Doug "Swing-and-a-miss!" Mirabelli? Hey, I love the sole patch as much as the next guy, but it takes more than well placed facial hair to hit in the major leages. Or so I've read. If Varitek goes down the Sox could be in some trouble.

So, whats the point of all this rambling? Just this: Its spring training time, and I couldn't be happier.

*This would be completely true except for the fact that I just made it up.

Monday, February 04, 2008


OK - I'm an idiot. I misread Gammon's blog. It wasn't Gammons who said the block quote below, it was "an unnamed Red Sox official." In the words of El Guapo's Ghost, someone "probably having a beer at the Corner Clubhouse."

So, in light of my lousy reading skills, let me amend my previous post (which I will leave up as a monument to my mistake). Get ready for my...

New and Improved Post: Now With Facts!

What exactly is Gammons trying to prove with a dumb quote like that?

Thank you very much!!

(in light of the above, kindly disregard the next hundred or so words...)


Via the fabulous, Peter Gammons asserts in his blog that Red Sox fans should get used to the idea of Josh Beckett pitching for another team after 2010, the final year of his current deal. The actual quote, in its entirety, is as follows:
We'd better enjoy Josh Beckett the next three years. Because we won't be able to sign him after his deal is up after 2010.
I say the following as a Gammons lover: how the hell does he know? Beckett may leave Boston after 3 more years, but then again he may not. Gammons may know lots of people in the industry, and he may be a first class reporter, but theres no way he can predict the future. That statement is simply ridiculous.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


That was some seriously f'd up sh*t.


Who cares about my Superbowl pick. This is a Red Sox blog after all, and nobody even cares about that. Still, for posterity's sake, heres my call:

Patriots 38, Giants 17

Exciting stuff, no?

Saturday, February 02, 2008


If anyone has any doubts about the contract the Red Sox signed Josh Beckett to one year ago, they should evaporate into the ether after hearing of Johan Santana's new deal to pitch for the Mets. Santana's new deal reportedly pays him $150M (plus a small amount insignificant enough for me not to mention here, but still more than I'll make in the next 7 years) over the next seven years. For the math-retarded (me included), that breaks down to about $21,430,000 per year.

Contrast that with Beckett's deal, which will pay him $9.5M for this upcoming season, $10.5M in '09, and a $12M club option which, except for injury potential, the Red Sox would exercise right now.

But this doesn't really hurt the Red Sox that much. Beckett was always going to get his money if he pitches well, and he's in Boston for three more seasons. A lot can change in that time. Santana's new deal really hurts the Cleveland Indians. The Indians have reigning Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia under contract for just one more season. Sabathia isn't the pitcher that Santana is, but he's close, and he's two years younger.

Sabathia is going to make $9M this year, but he can get more than twice that on the open market. The Yankees and Mets are both going to be looking for a starter next off season, as both have some serious money coming off the books after this season (Pedro, Delgado, and Alou for the Mets, and Giambi, Mussina, Abreu, Pettitte, and Pavano for the Yankees). The Red Sox, Dodgers and Angels could also kick Sabathia's proverbial tires as well.

Sabathia will have to take a serious hometown discount to stay in Cleveland as its doubtful that the Indians will be able to throw money around like the bigger market teams. If that was going to happen though, it likely already would have. Somewhere around late July the Indians are going to have to decide if they can win it all this season, because if not Sabathia could be on the move.


In actual Red Sox news, the Sox signed Sean Casey to fill their Mediocre-Veteran-Hitter slot. I'll get more into the roster crunch later on this month, but for now, I'll rank this move as Three Yawns.