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Home » Monthly Archive » January 2006

January 31, 2006

Stopgap Measure

Alex Gonzalez agreed to a one-year, $3M deal yesterday to play shortstop for the Red Sox in 2006. Gonzalez’s career 245/291/391 doesn’t set him apart from the other infielder named “Alex” the Red Sox already have; Cora’s career line of 244/310/349 is not spectacularly worse than the former Marlin’s.

Perhaps the differentiator is in the quixotic field of defensive metrics for which there is no widely accepted objective measure. Gonzalez does come out ahead in number of games played at short with 880 compared to Cora’s 373, so the former wouldn’t not need readapt in the infield. In those games played at the pivot, Gonzalez had a zone rating of .841 versus Cora’s .860. Also, I can’t tell which Alex Gonzalez is which at Baseball Musings. Let me know if you figure it out.

January 30, 2006

MLB Using RSS for Product Placement

Perhaps I’m overreacting, but I don’t think RSS should be used to advertise products. I am committed to keeping my site ad-free. What do you folks think about this? Here’s the e-mail I sent to mlb.com:

MLBAdTo whom it may concern:
I have an RSS news ticker on my blog that is derived from a Google search of RSS feeds for “red sox.” Today I noticed that an ad for 2004 Red Sox DVD Set appeared on my site. I am extremely alarmed that mlb.com is now using RSS as a way to promote its goods and services. Here is the link.

By choice, I have kept my site ad-free. It appears that mlb.com is taking advantage of technology to insert itself as a commercial presence through a typically non-commercial medium. I believe I do enough to promote the league by owning a site that encourages discussion about baseball and I highly resent that MLB would take advantage of RSS for advertising purposes. I have rejected other advertisers who would pay for that space.

Best Regards,
Joanna Hicks

January 30, 6:30 PM Update: I thought the service that provides my ticker may have slipped in an ad, but I did a search of RSS feeds through Google News and the DVD set is appearing as a news item. I am sure this goes against the Google News philsophy, which you can read at this link. I found a method to get in touch with Google News through this feedback form. If you would like to take a stand against advertisements via RSS as I do, please do drop them a line. I recommend including a link that shows the current results of a search for “red sox” on Google News showing the results below.


January 31, 9:10 AM Update: I corresponded with Dave Winer, the pioneering software engineer and leading contributor to RSS 2.0. He stated that this is actually a common use of RSS and not one that he endorses. Since this is my first encounter with such a feed item, I was taken aback. I’m taking steps to ensure that no further advertisements without my consent appear here.

January 29, 2006

Wise Old Saws for the New Year

kadomatsuleftI’ve unearthed new content to spiff up the Quotable page: baseball terms from The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary. The book is a time capsule of evocative phrases from the days of nickel sodas, but does shy away from modern jargon and controversy. Under the entry for “juice,” for example, there is no mention of steroids. You won’t find an entry for “greenie,” either.

kadomatsurightThere’s also a television section on my About page now. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I watch way too much of it.

Happy New Year, to those that celebrate it according to the lunar calendar. Although most of Japan switched over to the Gregorian calendar with the Meiji Restoration, folks in the rural areas, like my great-grandparents, followed the lunar calendar. When they came to Hawai‘i, they brought this tradition with them. Pictured here are kadomatsu, which are placed on either side of doorways. The pine represents longevity and the bamboo symbolizes health. The kadomatsu are designed to shelter kami (spirits), who will then bring wellness to those in abodes so adorned.

January 28, 2006

Done to a Crisp

The first move since Theo Epstein returned was a big one, indeed. In matching wits with the impressive Mark Shapiro, the Boston/Cleveland deal changed somewhat from what was originally announced.

Boston gets:

  • Josh Bard, C
  • Covelli “Coco” Loyce Crisp, CF
  • David Riske, RHP
Cleveland gets:
  • Andy Marte, 3B
  • Guillermo Mota, RHP
  • Kelly Shoppach, C
  • A player to be named later
  • $1M
The red items indicate details that were not mentioned prior to Mota’s physical. See what raising a few qualms over a player’s condition can do for you? Shapiro is on his way to mastering the art of using a big market team like an ATM, as Billy Beane advocated in Moneyball. And the Red Sox, perhaps feeling the pressure brush away the insinuations of its front office’s dysfunction, acquiesced to Cleveland’s additional demands. It could have been worse for the Red Sox, as Manny Delcarmen’s name was thrown into the mix at one point.

More impressive, Shapiro lined up his transactions so that he could have another center fielder waiting in the wings if he had to relinquish Crisp. Reliever Arthur Rhodes passed his physical yesterday, so he went to Philadelphia in exchange for Jason Michaels.

It is this type of planning and foresight I would expect from an organization that claims it wants to be more like its intrastate brethren, the Patriots. The Red Sox might be able to plug media leaks, but if all they are doing is keeping mum on unfavorable deals as they are being finalized, they’ll still have some explaining to do.

My Time is Water Down the Drain


After nearly three hours of staring at this screen, I managed to get tickets to two games. I’ll be going to the July 31 game against the Cleveland Indians and the August 31 match-up versus the Toronto Blue Jays. For the Jays tickets, I got the “Walkway Traffic Advisory.” Truth be told, that warning should apply to three-quarters of the seats at Fenway given the odd angles and narrow aisles. The warning could have read “Avian Flu Advisory”--after three hours, I’m still buying tickets.

There must be a better way of doing ticket sales that is still scalper-resistant. As a non-season ticket holder, I’m disappointed to see that the special ticket privileges that Red Sox Nation members used to have aren’t being reinstated as of yet. In fact, renewals for 2006 aren’t even being offered at this time.

Sitting outside of town
Everybody’s always down
(Tell me why)

Because they can’t get up
(Ahhh... Come on and get up)
Up from the waiting room

January 27, 2006

Act Globally

World Baseball ClassicBaseball has always been defined as something intrinsically American. But how do you define “America”? For me, the word is evolving into something ever more worldly and abstracted; more of a concept and a lifestyle than a static, geographically limited identity.

At first blush, one might limit the term to mean only a citizen of the country of the United States of America. There are 34 other countries in North and South America and their populations total 550M, or 65% of the total population of the two continents. Although the first definition of “American” in the American Heritage Dictionary is specific to the US, the second usage is the more inclusive “of or relating to North or South America, the West Indies, or the Western Hemisphere.”

On Opening Day 2005, 25 percent, or 205 players, originated from Latin American countries. There were also fifteen Canadians. Estimates of minor league players from countries other than the US hover at approximately 48%, which means that the MLB of the future will continue to be more diverse.

With the World Baseball Classic, MLB is attempting to unbrand its players and teams from the league franchises and resell them in their countries’ colors. For all the ballyhoo about making this a showcase for the game and birthing a global sports phenomenon, to me the event is more a slick promotional package to make headway into untapped consumer markets. It’s not an affirmation of love for the game--it’s commoditization

Baseball used to open hearts and minds. Now it opens wallets and trade barriers; just read this Forbes article on the MLB’s strategy to grab market share.

Ken Burns touchingly documented the game and emphasized how baseball is a reflection life and society in the United States. I’m not so callow to think that money and baseball have never been bedfellows, but with the huge amounts of revenue at stake, the connection has never been more manifest.

As much as the typical US baseball fan may say she yearns for the days of yore, I believe the tepid reaction to the WBC by fans in the US has an economic basis. For the most part, these fans have already invested their dollars into their chosen MLB team. Given ticket prices today, that investment is not trivial. If one of the stars of the WBC should be injured, there will undoubtedly be a hue and cry in that player’s MLB fanbase. In fourteen other countries, however, the fans don’t have major league teams of their own. The classic probably holds more meaning to them.

It’s ironic that the one country where baseball is played at an elite level for the joy of the sport alone was nearly barred from participation and is only allowed to play because it will receive no revenue from the games.

Baseball is America’s gift to the world, but Selig wants an burgeoning product line to accompany his bequest. And that seems to be the real American way.

January 24, 2006

Words, Words, Words

Here are the top 50 words, excluding definite and indefinite articles, used in the statements released today by the full gamut of Red Sox personnel: John W. Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Ben Cherington. Collectively, they used 695 different words to announce the return of Epstein as general manager of the Red Sox.

Rank Occurrences Word
1. 55 we
2. 40 I
3. 37 in
4. 36 have
5. 32 as
6. 29 our
7. 23 Theo
8. 20 red
9. 20 sox
10. 20 on
11. 17 baseball
12. 17 organization
13. 17 with
14. 16 will
15. 15 has
16. 13 Jed
17. 13 Ben
18. 12 Larry
19. 12 not
20. 11 it
21. 11 been
22. 11 us
23. 10 all
24. 10 during
25. 10 was
26. 10 work
27. 9 general
28. 9 last
29. 9 manager
30. 9 more
31. 9 Tom
32. 8 but
33. 8 were
34. 7 also
35. 7 continue
36. 7 operations
37. 7 weeks
38. 6 John
39. 6 opportunity
40. 6 very
41. 6 office
42. 6 well
43. 6 me
44. 6 what
45. 6 over
46. 6 Hoyer
47. 6 Cherington
48. 6 roles
49. 6 Theo’s
50. 5 vision

There were some provocative words used five times: together, people, them, time, entire, major, direction, return, my, issues, success, one.

Words that were only used once include: heart, soul, dreams, championship, inform, clarity, melodramatic, hope, explained, effectiveness, mythology, worthwhile.

There was no mention of money, years, or contract terms. I wonder if Epstein held out for equity in the team. Neither was there discussion on Willie Harris (the utility fielder was acquired by the Red Sox on January 19th on a one-year, split contract) or the Coco Crisp trade (which hit a snag because Guillermo Mota failed a physical and Mark Shapiro is trying to finagle Manny Delcarmen, according to Rotoworld).

January 23, 2006

In Too Deep

Instead of being able to regale you with my penetrating analysis of the impending Coco Crisp trade, my limited number of neurons have been engaged in a far more mundane task: struggling with the nemesis of web designers near and far.

Yes, Microsoft Internet Explorer, versions 6.0 and 7.0 beta, have mangled my CSS. Every other browser, including Mozilla on Windows, correctly renders my site. But not MSIE, which, with the addition of just a few letters, becomes “misery.” I converted my entry-driven pages (the main page as well as the category pages like Dave’s Diegeses and date archives such as the memorable month of May 2005) to PHP so that those nifty “Recent Posts” and “Recent Comments” don’t change with every context switch as they used to, aptly demonstrating a Movable Type limitation.

But now these PHP pages have the incorrect font size in MSIE, which is so very odd because they otherwise have the correct styling. And, despite what my hosting company and every Movable Type resource is telling me, my CSS is not broken because it still is fine on my HTML pages such as “Meta” or “News.”

If anyone can give shed some light on this issue, please drop me a comment or e-mail.

As for the Covelli Loyce Crisp (as if the nickname weren’t enough, his given name also rolls insouciantly off the tongue) trade, waiting this long to get a center fielder may have weakened the Red Sox’s leverage, but sometimes even an organization with a commitment to the future must make such a swap in the face of an exigent situation. Not that I am in any way comparing Crisp with Pedro Martinez, but Boston traded Carl Pavano to get a proven major league player. Even though Andy Marte was the poster boy for potential star of the future and gave all the farm fans someone to swoon over after Hanley Ramirez was traded, the club needed a player manning the triangle this season. They could have done much worse then come up with Crisp.

January 21, 2006

Scouting the Scout

Earlier this week I gave an all-too-brief synopsis of Ray Fagnant’s talk at the Boston SABR meeting. It may have been because the World Series championship ring he wore had some sort of memory-erasing effect that only now I have been able to shake. Ray was actually featured in a chapter of the book Minor Moments: Baseball’s Best Players Recall Life in the Minor Leagues. Publisher’s Weekly summarized his story:

... Ray Fagnant [was] a career minor leaguer who was playing for an insurance company’s slow-pitch softball team when a Connecticut club signed him as an emergency catcher. Just a few weeks after leaving the insurance team, Fagnant hit a home run off star major league righty Jack Morris, who was in the minors temporarily to rehab an injury. Fagnant bought 25 newspapers the next day and clipped the box scores.

Who better to learn about scouting than someone that is so impassioned about the game? Other points that Ray discussed:

There are peculiarities to scouting the Northeast. Scouts often speak of the “senior effect” in the kids they look at, meaning that a player has shown all that he is capable of by his senior year in high school. Scouts in this region, however, have found that a player here may not show his abilities until after this generally accepted milestone. Consequently, scouts here may exercise more patience than their counterparts in the West.

When on his journeys, if Ray spots what he thinks is a potential major league player, he notifies one of three crosscheckers to observe the player in action. If the potential player passes the crosscheck, he is seen by another crosschecker who oversees a larger territory and has the knowledge to compare prospects from different regions. Most major league clubs have this structure or something like it. The Red Sox have more heavily invested in amateur scouting since John Henry acquired the team.

Collegiate players who want to be seriously considered for professional baseball will use wooden bats during batting practice. Of course, the more outstanding of these players will be invited to wooden bat leagues outside of the NCAA schedule, such as the Cape Cod Baseball League.

A scout may be considered successful if once out of ten times a player he scouted makes the major leagues, so they have it a lot easier than major league hitters. A large part of Ray’s job is to find good organizational players who may never make it to the show but would good role models for the young players as they advance through the ranks. In fact, this is his favorite part of the job because at that level they it truly isn’t about the money: it’s about playing the game you love.

Ray spoke of the naïveté of players he finds along the way. When kids find out that he is a scout, the first thing they want to do is get an agent. They dream of Craig Hansen contracts while Ray hasn’t even decided if he’s going to alert his crosscheckers. One youth said that he’d sign, but he wanted “a three-figure deal.” Ray was kind enough to inform the player of the concept of place value. I wonder if it was Carl Pavano? Just one of the players Ray scouted.

When driving between scheduled stops, if Ray sees lights on at a field, he will always drop by to see what’s going on. You never know what you might see. It fits in with his motto, “Never let anyone fall through the cracks.”

January 19, 2006

Welcome Back, Epstein

So, we weren’t pining away after Theo Epstein in vain after all. The Great Theo has returned according to a statement released on NESN just minutes ago.

In other news, the Easter Bunny was just seen in Fall River, Santa Claus sent me an apologetic note for not giving me a Big Wheel with sound effects, and the Tooth Fairy just recently gave me investment advice as astute as Warren Buffet’s.

More later when I actually fully comprehend what has just occurred and details emerge.

Death Wish VI: Cornrows for Cuties

Who could have predicted that the right-handed pitcher with the balletic windup claimed off waivers on February 4, 2003 would have played such a pivotal role on the 2004 Boston Red Sox world championship team? Bronson Arroyo was the at the center of two crucial plays that season: the extra innings comeback victory of July 24 and the garboil at first base in Game 6 of the ALCS.

As one of my readers, Pine Tar Helmet, has pointed out, Arroyo is the antithesis of Alex Rodriguez. The pair faced each other high school in Florida, and even then Rodriguez outclassed everyone around him and was distinctly aware of that fact. In contrast, the young pitcher was never in the spotlight until he was picked up by the Red Sox and had his first seven-figure salary last year. Rodriguez had his first seven-figure year in 1997 when he was 22 and has been chasing the dollar signs ever since.

“I just thought he was really cocky,” said Arroyo of the Yankee third baseman.

Still a relative bargain with his 3-year contract estimated to be worth $11.5M to $12.M, Arroyo is projected to accrue a total VORP of 55.5 from 2006 to 2008 according to the Baseball Prospectus. Meanwhile, a player such as Kevin Millwood inked a 5-year deal for $60M with only a 36.3 for his 3-year VORP total. It’s understandable why Arroyo’s agent, Gregg Clifton, advised against this deal. The 28-year old starting pitcher probably could have netted a deal similar to Derek Lowe’s 4-year, $36M contract with the Dodgers. Instead, he gave his team a significant hometown discount. Perhaps Arroyo is banking on a lucrative music deal after he’s finished with baseball. With this multi-year deal, I do hope for a larger commitment on his part to the team and no new music releases.

To be sure, Rodriguez is a multiple league MVP winner, will likely be a Hall of Famer, and could possibly break the all-time home run record. But Arroyo was and always will be world champion.

January 16, 2006

Winter Meeting

Very few things can get me up early on a frigid holiday morning. At the top of that short list would be anything baseball-related. So, I stirred early, bundled up, and made my way to the Friends Meeting House in Cambridge. It would be my first SABR Boston Regional Meeting. It’s incredible to be with a group of people who share the same obsession. I’d say it’s a bit like a support group except rather than forcing you to try and wean you from the addiction they enable it. The chair of the Boston chapter, Seamus Kearney, convened the meeting and introduced the new “Research Miniatures” presentations. This format lets members share smaller scale research projects. Today’s five Research Miniatures covered a wide array of topics:

Mike Fields, a student of the sabermetrics course taught at Tufts by Andy Andres, presented “The ‘Moneyball Effect’: Inefficiencies in the Free Agent Market.” He worked with fellow student Zach Kolkin to determine if general managers have are now overpaying for the skills lauded in the book. Comparing the free agent markets of 2000-2001 to 2002-2004, Fields showed that GMs were indeed paying more for on-base percentage for hitters. However, inefficiencies in the market for pitchers still exist as there was not a high correlation between salary and BB/9 or K/9, which were the stated variables expressing control pitchers. Fields also conjectured that front offices who are looking for the next unexploited skill may have devised a more reliable and predictive model for defense and that are beginning to use this metric as a competitive advantage.

Next, Paul Wendt gave a presentation on the rosters of both the National and American League teams of Boston from 1900-1901. He demonstrated that the NL team was one of the most stable teams in the history of professional ball before they were ransacked by the upstart AL team. I had an inkling that in this particular period of baseball history the AL was seen as a minor league in comparison to the NL, but Wendt confirmed that. I only recognized the big names of the lineups; I have a lot more to learn about the deadball era.

After lunch, Kearney gave a little talk on Gardner Day at Fenway. He had chanced upon an odd picture of Ted Williams on a giant chair at a local eatery and decided to unearth the exact circumstances of what brought about such event. He learned that on August 24, 1946, people from Gardner, the self-proclaimed “Furniture Capital of the World,” came out to Fenway en masse for day in their honor. Johnny Pesky delighted the crowd by taking one of the velocipedes (what we now call tricycles) for a spin.

To me, baseball and poetry mesh together like hand in perfectly broken-in glove, an opinion I thought I was alone in holding. Joanne Hulbert proved me wrong, however. Her specialty is deadball era poetry and she was collected over 1,200 poems to date. After her reading of “The Boston Obsession,” a poem she found in which the speaker wended through his day and each person he met responded to his quotidian questions with baseball talk, she shared assorted snippets from journalists of the past. The lyricism and wit of these past writers are things that I wish were in greater abundance today.

The last Research Miniature was Bill Nowlin’s exploration of Charles Dryden’s account of a foul ball mishap. In 1903 in a game against Philadelphia, Dryden described how a foul ball flew into a nearby bean cannery’s whistle, jamming it into a position so that it blew continuously. Workers, thinking that it was a signal that their day was over left the factory. In doing so, a huge vat of beans was left unattended and such a huge amount of pressure that it blew up. The flying foodstuff reached the fans, causing much commotion. “One man went insane,” stated Dryden solemnly. Nowlin scoured articles from every Boston area newspaper for any corraborating details to no avail. It turns out that it was a bit of humor from Dryden, who was honored in 1965 with the J. G. Taylor Spink Award and was known for jests.

The guest speaker was the dynamic and engaging Ray Fagnant, a scout for the Red Sox whose territory encompasses the New England states, New York, and New Jersey. Red Sox fans have a lot to thank this man for; he’s the force behind the signings of Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen. As a former catcher who made it to the minor leagues, bolstered by an MBA in information systems and statistical analysis, and mentored by highly regarded scout Bill Lajoie, he combines all the attributes I would want in someone seeking talent. Fagnant put to rest any notions that there are front office wars between the scouts and the statisticians.

Finally, two authors also presented their new books. Peter Nash talked about Boston’s Royal Rooters, a history of the legendary fan group that helped propel Boston baseball teams to championships. Nash brought with him a portrait of Michael “Nuf Ced” McGreevy that hung in the Third Base pub, the ball thrown by John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald to open Fenway Park in 1912, as well as the baseball that ended the 1912 World Series, which had been absconded by a Royal Rooter from New York Giant right fielder Josh Devore.

A new autobiography of Tris Speaker was dramatized by author Tim Gay. Along with the aid of Seamus, who ably re-enacted Speaker at the dish, Gay recreated the last three games of the 1912 World Series. The subtitle of his book, “rough-and-tumble,” aptly describes baseball of that era. In Gay’s opinion, the Red Sox had purposefully thrown Game 7 and pocketed the proceeds from that illicit interaction because they were bilked of their pay for the games played at the Polo Grounds. The gatherings of the fans, politicians, and players at McGreevy’s bar were not all about fun and games.

It’s a long wait until the next meeting in May 20th, which will feature Bill James. I should make a countdown on this site for that, shouldn’t I?

(In the interest of full disclosure I will mention that I did badly on Mark Kanter’s trivia game during lunch, getting only five correct out of 40. Time to brush up on my MVPs, Cy Youngs, ROTYs, and other bits of knowledge prior to 1980.)

January 14, 2006

Welcome Back

Well, the names have all changed since you hung around. But those dreams have remained and they’re turned around.

So, here’s my new domain. Someone stop me before I make a hackneyed “Seinfield” reference. I’m still getting accustomed to the new application, so if you experience any odd behavior (on the site; I’m not talking about your bizarre neighbors), please be sure to e-mail me.

On second thought, it might be amusing to hear about your quirky neighbors.

I hope you find that this new hosting company is faster. On the publishing side I have found that it is. My company also supports PHP, so I plan on adding a few more bells and whistles here and there. Thanks for following along.

January 11, 2006

Add It Up

Cardinal In
Julian Tavarez, the 32-year old right-handed relief pitcher, is on the threshold of being signed by the Red Sox today for a 2-year, $6.7M contract. Apparently there is a vesting option which will activate a third year if certain statistical milestones are reached.

Red Sox fans will of course remember Tavarez from his World Series performances from 2004. In the 8th inning of Game 1 he relinquished the homer off Pesky Pole to Mark Bellhorn with Jason Varitek on base. Varitek had reached on an error by Edgar Renteria, oddly enough. Despite 4 errors, Boston rebounded with that 2-run shot to win the series opener and set the tone for the rest of the series. Tavarez also pitched a shutout 9th inning in Game 3, but his offense could muster only a single run.

Tavarez had a 3.43 ERA with 66.2 innings pitched and Baseball Propsectus projects 3.4 VORP in 2006. Who can truly predict how a reliever performs from season to season? Stockpile them as you can and see who might have a breakout season seems to be the stratagem; once just wishes the munitions weren’t so expensive. At least Trot Nixon will have competition for the club’s most disgusting headwear.

2B or Not 2B
The roster continued to expand with the news that Tony Graffanino and the Red Sox avoided arbitration by inking the second baseman to a 1-year, $2.05M deal. With the recent signing of Mark Loretta, at least the team has options for one middle position.

January 8, 2006

New Sensation

Since real Red Sox news has been about as slow as J. T. Snow making his way down the first base line, I’ve had time to make updates to this site’s subpages:

  • The News subpage is now fully operational. Clicking on Old Hickory gives you access to the most recent feeds from the Boston Red Sox official site, Boston Herald, Providence Journal, Boston Globe, Rotoworld, and baseball headlines from the Associated Press. So much for my attempted boycott of the Globe spurred by Steve Silva’s irresponsible use of Civil Rights era picture. As demonstrated by the Theo Epstein saga, this news organization is such an integral part of the Red Sox news scene that it is difficult to be comprehensive without including their feed. I would have liked to include the Hartford Courant but they do not have a Red Sox or even baseball specific feed, surprisingly enough.
  • I’ve added a countdown to the Sea Dogs’ Opening Day and made the Countdown page a place for the webcam at the corner of Lansdowne and Ipswich courtesy of Fenway Views. For some reason the webcam inside of Fenway displayed by Weatherbug hasn’t been updated since October last year. Hopefully it will go live again once the season starts.
  • Also see About, Meta, and Red Sox Links for some nifty updates if you haven’t been there in a while.

(The title of this post was inspired by the song “New Sensation” by INXS. I loved that song and video. It had frenetic stop motion and an exposure rate that allowed for neon lights to write words in the air. Waxing nostalgic about the 80s, I checked on some of my former obsessions. I was surprised by the number of suicides of these past idols. Michael Hutchence died in 1997. I hadn’t realized until recently that another musician who broke out in the 80s, Paul Hester, the drummer for Crowded House, killed himself last year. As Stuart Adamson of Big Country did in 2001, Hester hung himself. It’s bizarre that a seemingly fun-loving decade also cultivated self-destructiveness in its wake.)

January 6, 2006

How Old Can You Go?

J. T. stands for “Jack Thomas” Snow, in case you didn’t know, not “Jaded Trouper.” He turns 38 on February 26th and as a nice pre-birthday present signed a 1-year, $2M contract with the Olde Towne Team today. The Red Sox are determined to transition Kevin Youkilis to first base, so he and Snow will split that duty. He’s Olerud Version 2 with a little less glove and pop. In addition to manning the bag at first, Snow will be able to save small children at home plate should they stray from the dugout.

Much like Kevin Millar of last season, Snow’s power dropped off precipitously; his slugging went from .529 in 2004 to .365 in 2005. But unlike Millar, Snow is a steady clubhouse presence. What he lacks in charisma and quotations he makes up for with the his calming veteran presence. He’s been in the presence of egos the size of steroid-distorted skulls so he will likely be able to withstand the media glare of Boston. As long as he doesn’t go the way of Tony Clark circa 2002, this will improve the team for 2006.

January 5, 2006

Start Spreading the News

Now that I have an RSS ticker for news, I often see odd headlines scrolling by that begged to be read. Today, an unsigned feed from the New York Times popped up. Intrigued, I clicked the link and got This Day in Sports: January 5, 1920. It’s the 86th anniversary of the selling of Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and not even Dan Shaughnessy noticed. His most recent column his is attempt to stir the Patriots’ pot in advance of the Super Bowl. Only those Red Sox-obsessed New Yorkers even bothered to note this date, and that person wouldn’t even ascribe their name to the piece.

At first I wasn’t happy with the news ticker because I’m not able to customize the feeds. But the somewhat random nature of it is beginning to appeal to me. It’s based on a Google search for RSS feeds tagged “red sox” and therefore leads to articles that I would otherwise not know of. Once I get better idea of how to convert the RSS to HTML and a new host that has the server side support I need for this, the “News” subpage will be populated. You can access it by clicking on Peter Gammons’s noggin. And he thought getting into the National Baseball Hall of Fame was a grandiose tribute.

January 4, 2006

Trade Rumor #1159

According to numerous baseball rumor sites such as MLB Trade Rumors, a three-way deal between the Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Seattle Mariners is close at hand.


  • Gives: Bronson Arroyo, Tony Graffanino, and a player to be named later
  • Gets: Will Ohman and Jeremy Reed


  • Gives: Ohman, Corey Patterson
  • Gets: Graffanino, Raul Ibanez, and cash


  • Gives: Ibanez, Reed, and cash
  • Gets: Arroyo, Patterson, and the player to be named later

Ohman would provide the Red Sox with a much needed left-handed relief pitcher with the departure of Mike Myers. He is coming off of Tommy John surgery, but in assuming that risk the Red Sox do not have to fully cave to the demands of the inflated bullpen market

Reed is a young, cost-effective option for center field. He won’t provide the offense that Johnny Damon took with him to New York City immediately, but he may eventually and Boston would not be burdened with a long-term contract of an aging marquee player. According to the scouting report on ESPN, he has line drive power to all fields, so he would make good use of the wall. I have visions of Bill Mueller’s 2003 season dancing in my head. I’m not saying Reed would be the batting champion, but he certainly could get a lot of doubles at Fenway Park. Baseball Prospectus projects 98.3 VORP for 2006 to 2009 and 18.8 WARP. In comparison, Damon totals 79.8 VORP and 17.8 WARP for the same period, with 2006 being the only season where Damon would outpace Reed in VORP.

It’s doubtful the player to be named later is a high profile prospect, so I’m amenable to this deal. I would have preferred that Matt Clement were part of the deal instead of Arroyo because the later is more consistent while making less money, but that obviously would not have made sense for the Mariners.

As for the other rumor with various permutations of Andy Marte and Julio Lugo: I choose to ignore them for they put my sanity at risk. Marte came at the price of Hanley Ramirez* and for him to be flipped for Lugo doesn’t seem to show a long-term commitment to maintaining a stream of talent to be promoted into the big league team.

*In my feverish haste, I recalled this trade incorrectly. Marte came from the Braves for Edgar Renteria, of course. Thanks, BlackJack. It was the earlier deal for Beckett that packaged Ramirez that left a hole in the hole, depth chart-wise.

January 1, 2006

Have Another Seat

Most everyone knows about the restoration of Fenway Park’s .406 Club and interior façade into open-air seating replete with corporate sponsor naming gimmick courtesy of EMC. I’m surprised more folks didn’t complain about the renaming of the section since it was originally a tribute to Ted Williams, but there will be a section of 406 seats called the Ted Williams Lounge.

Not many know about the construction currently underway at Hadlock Field, homefield of the Portland Sea Dogs and my favorite minor league park. Even though Hanley Ramirez won’t be roaming the infield, there are many other things to look forward to. Perhaps 2005 first round pick Jacoby Ellsbury will go on a run in Wilmington and get promoted. Matt Van Der Bosch will be tearing up the basepaths and Edgar Martinez will continue his evolution from position player to pitcher. And Portland will see the opening of a grandstand in right field much like the Monster Seats at Fenway. Once completed, these will be the only seats where one may catch a home run ball. Along with the additional 390 seats, the Sea Dogs will also be playing on new turf.

They still need to do something about the visitors’ bullpen, though.


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