Catcher in Reply
Another one of “The 25” is no longer with the Red Sox. Doug Mirabelli was traded straight up for veteran second baseman Mark Loretta of the Padres. A savvy move since Dustin Pedroia is not yet ready for primetime although he hopefully will be by 2007. Having Pedroia in the middle for years to come would be a welcome change from the Spinal Tap drummer syndrome that has plagued that position.
In this town it’s easy to get sentimental about these players, even a backup catcher. Much of his allure is drawn from his workmanlike approach to catching the most whimsical of pitchers, Tim Wakefield, a Red Sox icon. As much as losing Mirabelli will be a blow to the casual fan’s psyche, this trade offers Boston a chance to capitalize on an older player’s comeback year. Loretta will be coming from a park that depressed his offensive production to one that will likely complement his strengths. I like how his 450 career strikeout total compares with his 413 walks, and his career OBP is a respectable .360. Pedroia would do well to follow his patient example.
The Red Sox offered arbitration to Johnny Damon, Tony Graffanino, and Bill Mueller. Matt Mantei, Kevin Millar, Mike Myers, and John Olerud were not extended the same.
Olerud announced his retirement prior to being declined arbitration. Barring those who had to hang up the spikes due to injury, I wonder if he was the first player to do so following his first experience in the minor leagues? Mike Myers was signed almost immediately by the Yankees, who lately have taken to collect our left-handed castoffs, for a two-year, $2.4M deal.
I don’t believe Boston will get compensation picks if Damon signs with a Secret Team, but I’ll double check the CBA to make certain I’m correct on this. Mueller may reunite with Grady Little at Dodger Stadium or play with the Pittsburgh Pirates in their delightful park. If he chooses the later, I would love to see what painting he would make for the PNC jumbotron; the Pirates have their players participate in video vignettes to show as they take the plate. He could paint his name to the rhythm of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.”
What Bobby Cox wants, John Schuerholz goes and gets. On the wishlist was a veteran shortstop to mind the hole that Rafael Furcal left. At first blush the Red Sox didn’t seem the ideal fit since they had Edgar Renteria for just the first season of a four-year contract. A disappointing season it was, but most likely an anomaly. Boston had also traded away its top shortstop prospect recently, so there was no heir apparent to the Snoopy spot.
And yet, for Renteria and $11M, Andy Marte arrived on the Boston sports scene. In a twist on par with any deus ex machina found in Greek tragedies, an offseason that began as a comedy of errors was transformed into winter epic featuring not one but two pickups of staggering talent that were worth the ticket price.
Marte is a major league-ready third baseman, so Kevin Youkilis will either have to learn first base quickly or ready his bags for a change in scenary. Unfortunate, because he’s near the nadir of his trade value. Moneyball has been out in paperback for over a year and the market inefficiencies and hype that added lustre to his reputation have all but faded.
From what I’ve read so far, Andy is dandy:
As for the lack of a shortstop, Miguel Tejada wants to be traded. There are four years and around $48M left on his contract, which is quite a bit short of Manny Ramirez’s $57M over three years. Tejada’s OPS of .815 falls short of Ramirez’s 1.008 as well.
The Epstein hangover has been superseded by holiday season binging. If this is what the Red Sox have to serve up, I’ll take seconds.