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Home » Category Listing » 2006 News

December 23, 2006

Wreck and Runelvys-ation

Runelvys Hernandez, who was released by the Royals, signed a minor league contract yesterday and will complete for a spot in the bullpen during Spring Training next year. And the award for most likely to repeat Rudy Seanez’s 2006 performance goes to....

Honestly, you can’t have much hope for a guy whose Baseball Reference sponsor says: This page is dedicated to Chris P., aka [sic] “BOOTLEG”. Runelvys Hernandez is one of Bootleg’s favorite metaphors to use when describing “fast start gas cans” [sic]

December 17, 2006

Drawn and Quartered

I jumped the gun back on December 6 thinking that the five-year, $70M deal with J.D. Drew was fait accompli. Instead, the outfielder will undergo a second physical tomorrow because of concerns over the condition of his shoulder.

Drew failing a physical is as shocking as Adam Savage hurting himself in the course of busting a myth.

Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald broke the story yesterday and even the official MLB site is carrying the news, albeit in a sanitized manner.

The original deal may be adjusted in a number of ways, from shortening the term or reducing the total value to adding performance clauses. Considering Drew’s injury history, these are all things that should have informed the parameters of the first offer.

Sometimes in life you do get a do-over.

December 16, 2006

Angels Want to Wear My Red Sox

The Red Sox acquired two former Angels relief pitchers in the wake of the Daisuke Matsuzaka signing.

Los Angeles traded Brendan Donnelly for the all but stalled lefty Phil Seibel. I interviewed Seibel this past summer and you would have a hard time finding a nicer guy. But nice guys don’t necessarily get the breaks they need to succeed in one organization, but perhaps they will get another chance with a change of scenery.

Donnelly is a one-time All Star coming out of his worst year in terms of ERA (3.94) and WHIP (1.344). The front office is wagering that a roughed-up AL reliever will perform better than an NL reliever moving from a pitcher’s haven to a hitter’s park. Given Rudy Seanez’s notable lack of success in 2006, it’s not an unreasonable bet to make.

The bespectacled one can also share pine tar prestidigitation tips with Julian Tavarez.

Southpaw Juan Carlos “J.C.” Romero inked a one-year, $1.6M contract with the Red Sox yesterday to further bolster the bullpen.

Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index tool, I made of a list of the top five hitters in OPS versus Romero with a minimum of ten plate appearances.

  1. John Olerud, 1.715
  2. David McCarthy, 1.423
  3. Kenny Lofton, 1.367
  4. Omar Vizquel, 1.334
  5. Magglio Ordonez, 1.289

Two in that list are retired and one is in the NL. B-R PI also shows that Romero has only given up three homers to Yankees. I had linked to B-R PI’s actual output of my queries, but the links only work if you are a BR-PI beta tester.

December 13, 2006

Matsuzaka Signs With Red Sox

The Boston Herald repeatedly scooped their competitors on major happenings during the Daisuke Matsuzaka negotiations, but did they have to use the deplorable “Dice-K” moniker in their headline announcing the signing?

Matsuzaka signed a six-year, $52M contract after passing his physical at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Seibu Lions made their position known quite forcefully:

According to rumors that appear to have originated in Japan, word may have reached him that the Lions, who are counting on the enormous cash infusion from the Sox, were considering sending him to the minor leagues if he returned. That would have set back his free agency by another year.

Earlier today, another M-named player was secured by Boston. Doug Mirabelli signed a one-year, $750K deal to remain Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher. Are there no other minor league management positions in which 2004 team members may fade away gracefully? Gabe Kapler recently retired and became field manager for the Greenville Drive.

Air Traffic Advisory

According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Scott Boras are on John W. Henry’s private jet headed for Boston. Last night the gap between the Red Sox and Matsuzaka was only $3M a year (with the former at $8M and the latter countering with $11M) over a six-year deal.

It’s safe to assume Majestic is churning out number 18 jerseys as I type this.

December 9, 2006

Dodgy Accusations

“I’m rubber and you’re glue: whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you,” said the Red Sox front office in response to the Dodgers’ allegations of tampering in the J.D. Drew signing.

Boston countered with charges that Grady Little and Dave Jauss, both former Red Sox employees, attempted to contact Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox allege that either Little or Jauss and perhaps both contacted a current Red Sox staff member to acquire Ramirez’s home phone number. I’m sure it was because they just wanted to wish the left fielder happy holidays and see how Juliana and the son were doing.

I don’t have a lot of confidence in the Dodgers’ executive decision making. They canned Paul DePodesta after just one season to go with the more conventional Ned Colletti. Whatever DePodesta may have lacked in media savvy he made up for in his statistical abilities (I found this fine and thoughtful analysis of his very brief tenure by Daniel Julien), but newbie owner Frank McCourt had not the patience to persevere with DePodesta.

There’s also the debt service McCourt assumed in acquiring the Dodgers. The real estate developer has to sell 24 acres of land to pay off the $145M loan he shouldered for his new toy.

It’s a nice trinket. But you know what happens when a little kid gets shiny tschokes: the big kids bully you around. The kid will either learn the street rules or call Uncle Bud for help.

December 6, 2006

Old and Unmoved

When there were rumors that the Red Sox front office may have engaged the Diamondbacks for a trade of Manny Ramirez, I was encouraged. I thought Boston would get a smattering of the young positional talent Arizona hoards.

Then there were stirrings of a deal with the Giants, and my spirit waned considerably. Steve Phillips’s outlandish conjectures that a Barry Bonds signing to replace Manny Ramirez was imminent played on ESPN in a Sisyphean loop. I very much regretted that I was not a religious person and could not resort to supplication against the repetition of such obvious drivel.

Instead, two players most recently of Dodger vintage were added to the team: shortstop Julio Cesar Lugo and right fielder David Jonathan (a.k.a. J.D.) Drew. The 31-year old infielder was signed to a four-year, $36M deal pending his physical. The outfielder, also age 31, has agreed to a five-year, $70M contract after opting out of his deal with the Dodgers. One season after the Dodgers had picked up several former Boston players, the tide has turned red.

By signing these free agents, the Red Sox did not lose prospects. A further depletion of their young talent was probably a concern, particularly after having seen so many of their former products perform brilliantly this past season. To name a few, Hanley Ramirez was elected NL Rookie of the Year, Anibal Sanchez threw a no-hitter, and Freddie Sanchez earned the NL batting title.

Lugo and Drew are obviously not the young though untested talent that a trade of Ramirez could net, but the length of their contracts stop them just short of their late 30s and perhaps tides the Red Sox over until the most recent round of irrational exuberance has expired.

December 5, 2006

Less is More

Lester May Attend Spring Training
According to ESPN, Jon Lester could make spring training in 2007. His lymphoma is in remission and his most recent CT scan showed him disease-free.

Arbitration Homesick Blues
On December 3 announced their arbitration preferences. Arbitration was offered to Keith Foulke, but not to:

  • Gabe Kapler
  • Mark Loretta
  • Doug Mirabelli
  • Trot Nixon

Lucky Lunch
Dana-Farber is auctioning a meal with Larry Lucchino. I could be satirical, but the item description is amusing on its own:

Lowest Acceptable Bid: $2,100.00
Starting Bid: $1,000.00
Bid Increment: $100.00
Quantity: 1
Condition: Excellent
Auction Ends: 12/8/2006 5:00:00 PM

Is the guarantee of excellent condition referring to before or after déjeuner?

November 30, 2006

Japanese Pitcher Signed

Not the one you think. Not just yet. The bullpen does need help, however, and the front office made a step towards fixing it.

Today the Red Sox signed left-handed pitcher Hideki Okajima to a $2.5M two-year deal with a $1.75M option for a third year. The soon-to-be 31-year old (his birthday is on December 25) comes from the Nippon Ham Fighters where he most recently pitched 54 and two-thirds innings with a 2.14 ERA. He was drafted in the third round by the Yomiuri Giants in 1994.

As I did with Daisuke Matsuzaka’s name, below are the kanji for Okajima’s name. Underneath each kanji are the hiragana, called furigana or yomigana, which sometimes accompanies lesser-known kanji so that readers know how to pronounce a word. In brackets are the romanization of the characters and finally there is the English translation. Following the tradition of his country, his family name precedes his given name. Although Hideki Matsui’s given name seems similar, the last syllable of Matsui’s is written , which means rejoice or take pleasure in.



おか [o ka]
mount, hill, knoll



じま [ji ma]
island



ひで [hi de]
excel, excellence, beauty, surpass



き [ki]
timber, trees, wood

November 20, 2006

Auld Lang Syne

Gone, Baby, Gone
When rumors of his signing were first leaked, there was confusion as to which “Alex Gonzalez” was in negotiations with the Red Sox. It turned out it wasn’t the Alex S. Gonzalez drafted by the Blue Jays in 1991 but rather it was the undrafted All-Star from the Florida Marlins.

Gonzalez’s defensive play was a revelation to Boston fans. If we weren’t familiar with him before the season, Hub fans certainly were made aware of him during it. Never had we seen someone so at ease in the hole. He committed just seven errors during 2006 and yet has not garnered his first Gold Glove award. This year the honor went to Derek Jeter for the third year in a row, proving all that glitters is not gold.

The shortstop reportedly signed a three-year, $14M contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

Tea for the Mueller Man
My affection for Bill Mueller is well-documented: I made a sign for him for the last home game of the 2004 season and composed this insufficient paean. He was never the best-paid player at the hot corner, but perhaps that is what made him play harder. The former Cub, Giant, Red Sox, and Dodger third baseman has turned in his spikes for a desk job with his last team.

Farewell, old friend.

November 14, 2006

Keep You Posted

At 8 PM tonight it became official: the Boston Red Sox did indeed post the highest bid for the exclusive negotiation rights with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Buster Olney had reported the bid was between $38M and $45M. In actuality the winning bid was $51.11M.

This high bid amount most definitely indicates that Boston will not sign-and-trade the 26-year old pitcher. Also, the team probably wants to lock up Matsuzaka for longer than the three years Scott Boras was telegraphing.

I’ve changed the Countdown here to the deadline for Matsuzaka and the Red Sox to reach a deal. I’m trying to temper my excitement over this development until ink or a stamp from Matsuzaka’s hanko is on the contract, but I haven’t felt like this since Pedro Martinez was traded to Boston.

Seibu, Say Me

Global Awareness
An abundance of confirming reports as well as a link on Major League Baseball’s official site all point to the miraculous: Buster Olney actually broke a major story.

A simultaneous announcement at 8 PM EST tonight by the commissioners’ offices of both the NPB and the MLB will likely confirm that the bidding for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka was won by the Boston Red Sox.

And there is much rejoicing.

Will Nancy Drew be a Hardy Boy?
The Red Sox are in pursuit of former Dodgers outfielder J.D. Drew. He’s not hard to find; just visit your local hospital ward or nab him after he runs through his third base coach’s stop sign. He’ll be the one blocked from all those other phantom teams’ offers by Scott Boras.

That’s All, Foulkes!
Days after the Red Sox declined their team option, closer Keith Foulke declined his option and became a free agent on November 10.

He was wooed to Boston with a phone call from Bobby Orr. The hockey immortal told Foulke that if a player won a title in this town, he would be forever idolized.

And despite the futility of the past two seasons, there is no way this pitcher, whom some believed should have been World Series MVP, will ever be forgotten in the Hub.

Swing and a ground ball stabbed by Foulke. He has it -- he underhands to first. And the Boston Red Sox are the World Champions! For the first time in 86 years, the Red Sox have won baseball’s World Championship! Can you believe it?

November 12, 2006

Nicked Up

How many times was Nick Carfardo wrong in this article on Daisuke Matsuzaka?

There’s some confusion on whether the Sox could trade Matsuzaka’s rights, but there is precedent. In 1997, the Padres purchased the contract of Hideki Irabu from the Chiba Lotte Marines, but the pitcher refused to sign and said he would only play for the Yankees.

The posting system for the rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka was created because of Hideo Nomo’s 1995 “retirement” from Nippon Professional Baseball and subsequent signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers as well as Irabu’s departure from NPB. Irabu’s situation was completely different from Matsuzaka’s because that deal came before the posting system was inaugurated.

Prior to this system, NPB clubs would not receive compensation for players leaving to play in MLB. Any team signing Matsuzaka will not assume the same terms of his agreement with the Seibu Lions, which is presumably what happened when the Padres bought Irabu’s contract. Furthermore, the negotiation rights are not assignable, as paragraph 11 of the Player Contract Agreement between NPB and MLB states (downloaded from the website of the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association), although a sign and trade is possible but unlikely. If John W. Henry paid $38 to 45M, why would he forgo the advertising revenue from Japanese companies that would defray the cost of the bid?

The Sox would have to work overtime to help Matsuzaka assimilate into the new culture. Korean submariner Byung Hyun Kim never felt comfortable in Boston, nor did Korean first baseman Hee-Seop Choi, who played in Pawtucket before being given his release.

Why do the media always harp on how much more difficult for it would be for East Asians to assimilate in the clubhouse? Is it because we’re so utterly inscrutable?

There is also the typical conflation of Japanese and Korean people, who, if you hadn’t heard, don’t appreciate being confused for one another as the former invaded the latter. Also, it would be awfully hard for Choi to have felt uncomfortable in the Hub, as he did not have a plate appearance as a Red Sox player.

Cafardo was correct in his summary of Nomo’s achievements during his time with Boston, however. In my opinion, he is also right that acquiring Matsuzaka would be a coup for Boston.

Michael Pugh has not yet updated the banner to his excellent site, Matsuzaka Watch. He is no doubt awaiting official confirmation on November 14. As we all are.

November 10, 2006

Matsuzaka to Boston?

So reports the not-so-reliable Buster Olney on ESPN.

But Olney is reporting that the Red Sox may have posted the top bid with a figure between $38 million and $45 million, according to Major League Baseball officials who are monitoring the bidding.

Let’s see if the Red Sox actually do nab Daisuke Matsuzaka, the MVP of the first World Baseball Classic.

What is Coinage Before Decimalisation, Alex?

Surprise Me, Trebek!
Curt Schilling is a deeply religious man but his faith does not preclude him from understanding that stem cell research is perhaps the only way to defeat maladies like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a disease that afflicted his mother. Schilling did stump for George Bush in 2004 following the Red Sox’s victory, but did try to convince the president to support funding for this unnecessarily controversial science.

Faith wasn’t enough to lead Schilling to victory over his Celebrity Jeopardy! challengers, however. In the episode broadcast on November 9, Schilling lost to Doug Savant and Jane Kaczmarek. He did raise $25,000 for Curt’s Pitch for ALS and the Shade Foundation.

Sports Science Sometimes an Oxymoron
On October 27 the Cardinals broke the string of senior circuit failures in the Fall Classic. Red Sox draftee and All-Star shortstop David Eckstein garnered the World Series MVP honor and former Red Sox pitcher via deadline deal Jeff Suppan managed not to embarrass himself.

Both Eckstein and Suppan were both opponents of Missouri’s Amendment 2, which they claimed would enable human cloning. The initiative did allow for somatic cell nuclear transfer, an essential part of stem cell production where a DNA from a non-germline cell (that is, neither sperm nor egg cells) is removed and inserted into an egg cell to produce a blastocyst, which the anti-science and anti-choice cliques believe is human life. The cells from these blastocysts ensure that the resultant stem cells are a genetic match with the donor organism. Researchers hope that by isolating and reproducing the somatic cells (another term for all cells other than sperm and egg) of people with specific diseases the nature of their illnesses could be better understood.

Despite the efforts of athletes like Eckstein and Suppan, Amendment 2 passed. If the Cardinals cloned their World Series titles, they would still trail the Yankees by six.

Return Engagements
The Red Sox picked up Tim Wakefield’s option on October 31, a far more welcome event than what happened last year on Halloween.

Utility infielder Alex Cora re-signed with Boston for two years. The monetary terms have not been disclosed, but his previous contract was for two years and $2.7 million. Another two years of listening to Jerry Remy obsess over Cora won’t be so bad.

October 26, 2006

Grumpy(?) Old Man

I’m Mike Timlin and I’m oooooold! And I’m not happy! And I don’t like things now compared to the way they used to be.

All this progress -- phooey! In my day, we didn’t have this pre-made pine tar when you needed it. You’d have to take down the trees yourself with your bare hands. Then you’d have to distill it yourself with the heat generated from burning the fat of the bear, or hyena, or whatever ferocious wild beast you killed, also with your bare hands. It would take you decades before you even had one smidgen of the stuff to work with, so you never washed.

Just ask Kenny Rogers. He’s old-fashioned like me! He’s got his four-year old son working on another batch of pine tar right now so that it’ll be ready for his great-grandson to use. Ol’ Kenny is gonna die before he ever gets more pine tar to use. And that’s the way it was and we liked it!

Life was simpler back then. We didn’t have no agents with their fancy suits. Why, to get my $2.8 million for next year, I marched right into the Red Sox front office with the crossbow I made from the remnants of those pine tress and guts from the deer I’ve killed. Agents?! Flobble-de-flee!

Hmm... almost three million simoleons, eh? Well, I’m oooooold, but maybe I’m a little happy!

September 30, 2006

Jetting to California

Jethawkslogo

The Red Sox have signed an agreement with the Lancaster JetHawks. The California-based team will be Boston’s Class A Advanced affiliate for the next two seasons. The JetHawks are in the South Division of the California League, an organization whose league factors tend to inflate offensive production. Lancaster in particular skews offensive numbers, a good thing to know if any positional players “breakout” or any pitchers “slump.”

Now that the Red Sox are bi-coastal, it’s time to evaluate if this switch was for the better.

Old Affiliate
Blue Rocks
New Affiliate
JetHawks
Advantage
Name “Blue Rocks,” a phrase prone to puns and doggerel, but rhymes with “Red Sox.” The colors clashed, however. “JetHawks” call to mind mechanized birds of prey, menacing creatures to be sure. The threat is somewhat lessened by the superfluous conflation of the two words. JetHawks
Location On the banks of the Cape Fear River. Blue Velvet and “Dawson’s Creek” were both filmed here. Fastest-growing city in the county. Largest city named “Lancaster” in the world. Site of the California Poppy Festival. JetHawks
Mascots Rocky Bullwinkle, a possible copyright infringer, is joined by Mr. Celery and Rubble. KaBoom, a purple hawk. Blue Rocks
Stadium Frawley Stadium, named after a mayor. Clear Channel Stadium, naming rights purchased by a media conglomerate. Blue Rocks
League Part of the Carolina League, founded 1945. Founded 1941, the California League fell out of commission during WWII but started again in 1945. JetHawks

The new affiliate comes out just slightly ahead.

September 18, 2006

Sea Dogged Determination

Eltrophy

Congratulations to the 2006 Portland Sea Dogs. Last night they won their first ever Eastern League Championship. Some standouts from the five-game series:

Congratulations to the Red Sox Double-A affiliate for defeating Cleveland’s farm club. Perhaps this earns them an invite to Fenway for futures event in 2007.

August 30, 2006

Lester Has Cancer Tests

Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald revealed that Jon Lester has been tested for cancer. The measure was taken as a result of Lester’s enlarged lymph nodes and continual back pain.

I’ll be going to the first game of the series against the Blue Jays, but baseball will be far from my mind. The scourge of injuries as the result of the wear and tear of a long season are understandable, but when potentially fatal diseases afflict otherwise healthy young men, it’s difficult to focus on a mere game.

Good luck, Jon.

August 29, 2006

Ortiz’s Health Question

David Ortiz was a late scratch from last night’s lineup. At first, I thought he was suffering from the stomach flu that afflicted Kevin Youkilis and, more recently, Kyle Snyder. Instead, Ortiz was sent back to Boston because of a recurrence of the irregular heartbeat he had felt during the Yankees series.

Time and again he’s passed the test at the plate. These tests at Massachusetts General Hospital are infinitely more important.

Get well, Big Papi.

August 22, 2006

Busting Out Dustin

Youth is easily deceived, because it is quick to hope. – Aristotle

Dustin Pedroia, the future shortstop or second baseman of the Red Sox, will be in the major leagues shortly (pun unintended). The 5'9" middle infielder’s line is so far this season in Pawtucket is .305 BA, .384 OBP, and .426 slugging. Alex Gonzalez, who has been ailing with a Grade 1 oblique strain, will likely have a spell on the disabled list.

Craig Hansen was demoted before yesterday’s debacle as a direct result of his nudiustertian troubles. Javier Lopez will probably be recalled as well and Kason Gabbard will likely take his spot.

The pitching youth movement is now in partial abeyance. Its sole success story, Jonathan Papelbon, will attempt to bounce back from Saturday’s blown save on the Red Sox’s second tour of the West Coast.

July 31, 2006

Trading Deadline Delirium

I love trading deadline day. I have the Royal Rooters and Sons of Sam Horn message boards up (when they are available) while listening to WEEI online.

Except for game broadcasts, I haven’t bothered to listen to this radio station in quite a while because I despite Dennis and Callahan. But Dale Arnold with guest host Rob Bradford have been pleasant and informative enough (given the lack of action on the Red Sox’s part... so far) and better than the Big Show’s constant, stultifying yammering.

But I’ll make an exception and listen to WEEI for today. Otherwise, I’ll be at the park and dumbfounded as to why Andruw Jones is in a Red Sox uniform.

Yesterday Boston did trade right-handed pitching prospect Luis Mendoza to the Rangers for right-handed relief pitcher Bryan Corey. To make room for the 32-year old, Matt Clement was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Too bad about Mendoza, as I will always cheer my fellow window-wearers.

Updates as events warrant.

2:11 PM: Sean McAdam on WEEI passed on the Buster Olney tidbit (Stop rolling your eyes! I can see that from here. Yeah, never was Gammons more missed....) about the Red Sox being in on talks for Miguel Tejada.

2:53 PM: Kip Wells? Do we want all the questionable pitchers named “Wells”? Would the Pirates pitcher be an Arroyo or Wakefield or a Suppan? We might find out in an hour or so if this deal goes through.

June 20, 2006

Interview with Keoni DeRenne

A few weeks ago I interviewed Keoni DeRenne, an infielder who is currently on the disabled list for the Portland Sea Dogs. Since we’re both from Hawai‘i, there was an implicit understanding between us about what it means to uproot oneself to pursue a dream. Here is most of our conversation; I had to leave out the part about Sid Fernandez and the ’86 Mets (but you know I had to cheer for them then; I was living in Hawai‘i at the time). This interview can also be found on the Royal Rooters message board.

JH: How often do you return to Hawai‘i?

KD: I go back every off-season. I have family there and also in California. I’m very excited because my sister is going to have her first baby. It will be my first niece.

JH: Do you get involved with the baseball community in Hawai‘i?

KD: When I’m back in the islands I give one-on-one lessons on Sundays. I also run 10 to 12 clinics or camps every off-season.

I think baseball is resurging in Hawai‘i. There’s the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League, which started just last year. It’s a Division I NCAA summer league that gives kids that are away for school most of the year a chance to play in a competitive league. A lot of times it’s hard for parents and friends of Hawaiian kids to be able to see the players in person, and it’s a chance for them to continue to play and develop.

There’s also been talk of bringing back Hawaii Winter Baseball. A lot of great players were on HWB teams, like Ichiro Suzuki, Mark Kotsay, and Todd Helton. It also was a way to showcase Hawaiian players like Benny Agbayani and Shane Victorino.

Continue reading “Interview with Keoni DeRenne” »

June 6, 2006

It’s Getting Drafty in Here

For the first time, MLB’s First-Year Player Draft will be broadcast live from the studios of MLB.com. Thrill to the idiocy and frugality of the Kansas City Royals. Stand awestruck in the pronouncements of the John Schuerholz society.  Experience the frisson of waiting expectantly for the decrees of Theo Epstein’s brain trust. The Red Sox have four picks of the first 44 and seven in the first 103, including 27th and 28th picks in the first round.

I’ll be making updates throughout the day to track the progress of the draft.

First Round Update, 1:35 PM

27: Jason Place, right-handed center fielder, Wren High School, South Carolina
Reportedly has the power (a lacking asset in the farm system), speed, and arm to be a potential corner outfielder. He was Class AAAA Player of the Year according to the South Carolina Baseball Coaches Association.

28: Daniel Bard, right-handed pitcher, UNC Chapel Hill
Can reach 96 miles per hour on the radar gun. Control and consistency is a concern, however. He has a Wikipedia entry.

Supplemental First Round Update, 2:20 PM

40: Kristofer Johnson, left-handed pitcher, Wichita State University
Twenty-one year old coming off a Tommy John surgery. Redshirted in 2005 with four appearances with four starts, going 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA.

44: Caleb Clay, right-handed pitcher, Cullman High School, Alabama
New to pitching with a low 90s fastball.

Second Round Update, 2:30 PM

71: Justin Masterson, right-handed pitcher, San Diego State University
Playing for the Wareham Gatemen, this potential reliever was a Top 30 Cape Cod League prospect in 2005.

Third Round Update, 2:50 PM

83: Aaron Bates, right-handed first baseman, North Carolina State
As a sophomore in 2005, named third-team All-America by Baseball America and first-team All-ACC. Was also a Top 30 Cape Cod League prospect in 2005, like Masterson. Could be moved into a catching role.

103: Bryson Cox, right-handed pitcher, Rice
In 17 appearances in 2005 went 1-2 with three saves. He had a 3.86 ERA in 18.2 innings pitched with 24 strikeouts and 14 bases on balls. Rice plays in the same division as the University of Hawai‘i, the Western Athletic Conference.

Fourth Round Update, 3:38 PM

133: Jonathan Still, right-handed catcher, North Caroline State University
Transferred from Stetson, where he was second-team Atlantic Sun Conference in 2005 as a sophomore.

Fifth Round Update, 4:20 PM

163: Dustin Richardson, left-handed pitcher, Texas Tech
Transfering from Cowley College, in 2005 he pitched 33.1 innings with 27 walks and 17 strikeouts while turning in a 5.94 ERA. He appeared on the ESPN reality series Knight School, which featured sociopath Bobby Knight. At Cowley he was dominant, throwing 24 straight shutout innings.

For rounds six and above, information on the draftees becomes scarce. Names and links, when available, should suffice.

  • 193: Zachary Daeges, left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing third baseman, Creighton
  • 223: Kristopher Negron, right-handed shortstop, Cosumnes River College
  • 253: Rafael Cabreja, left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing center fielder, James Monroe HS, New York
  • 283: Ryan Kalish, left-handed center fielder, Red Bank Catholic HS, New Jersey
  • 313: Kyle Snyder, right-handed pitcher, Wellington Community HS, Florida
  • 343: Brandon Belt, left-handed center fielder, Hudson HS, Texas
  • 373: Ryan Khoury, right-handed shortstop, Utah
  • 403: Jordan Craft, right-handed pitcher, Dallas Baptist University
  • 433: Matthew LaPorta, right-handed first baseman, University of Florida
  • 463: Jorge Jimenez, left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing third baseman, Porterville College
  • 493: Tyler Weeden, right-handed catcher, Edmond Santa Fe HS, Oklahoma
  • 523: William Reddick, left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing left fielder, Middle Georgia College
  • 553: Lars Anderson, left-handed first basema, Jesuit HS, California

June 1, 2006

Interview with Phil Seibel

The year 2004 was not only momentous for the Red Sox, but also for Phil Seibel. The left-hander out of the University of Texas made his major league debut against the Orioles that season, and a few days later pitched three and two-thirds hitless innings against the Yankees. Unfortunately, the year also saw Seibel undergo Tommy John surgery after the World Series, which caused him to miss the 2005 season. Now back on the mound, the 27-year-old Seibel began this season at low-A Greenville before being promoted to Portland where he has appeared in six games for the Double-A Sea Dogs. I sat down with Seibel after he notched his first win since coming back from the injury.

JH: So, you got your first win this year yesterday. Congratulations.

PS: Thank you. It’s been tough to get wins because I am only on the mound five innings at a time because of pitch count. But when I’m out there I do my best to give the team a chance to win.

Since I’m rehabbing, I have to be stretched out gradually. Since the surgery, I’ve had stiffness and the cold makes it trickier.

JH: Describe the rehabilitation process you are going through.

PS: There’s overcoming mental barriers, like regaining confidence in my arm and getting used to its limitations. But it’s also physical. I have to learn trust my arm more and how do I attack a hitter.

In a way, it keeps things fresh and interesting since preparing for a game can be so routine. It has also helped me mechanically. I have cleaned up the things in my delivery that led to the injury in the first place. I’ve worked out the kinks.

My velocity is back to normal and I feel stronger. I feel that when I need to rear back it’s there. It’s been a roller coaster ride to recovery, but soon I’ll be more accustomed to the grind of pitching every fifth day.

JH: How was your injury diagnosed?

PS: It happened after I had gotten called up in September of 2004. One day I threw out of the bullpen and I knew something was wrong. It took me five days to get back to normal and even then something was amiss. We tried all sorts of rehabilitation procedures, but finally I got an MRI that revealed a torn ligament.

I was beating my head against the wall for so long trying to figure what the issue was; it was a relief to know what the problem was at last. Once we knew the diagnosis, we could get to the solution.

I have no regrets, no qualms about what I had to go through because it has helped me know myself and my pitching better.

Continue reading “Interview with Phil Seibel” »

May 29, 2006

Walking Wounded

Just when the Red Sox appeared to be getting healthy with Coco Crisp’s return, two key players were put on the disabled list.

Wily Mo Peña, who had been playing sporadically lately, has a sprained left wrist that warranted being pulled from the lineup at the last minute on Saturday. He won’t be accompanying the team on the upcoming arduous road trip that has the AL East division leaders facing division nemeses Toronto and New York in two series that bookend a match-up against the scorching Detroit Tigers.

Mike Timlin was placed on the disabled list retroactive to May 26th due a right shoulder strain. Manny Delcarmen was recalled from Pawtucket to shore up the bullpen.

Speaking of Mannys, Ramirez has had the last two games off to rest an ailing back, which has not been deemed a serious setback. Better to take time off now against the under-achieving Devil Rays than the next ten games.

David Wells’s injury from the May 26th game turned out to less serious than it looked initially. There was no structural damage to the southpaw’s knee but an MRI did reveal a deep bone bruise. He might even make his next scheduled start against the Blue Jays this Wednesday.

As the Yankees proved when they won a series at Fenway despite injuries, Boston must also face the class of the American League with depleted ranks on their home fields. How the Red Sox perform in the next three series will reveal much about the teams’ relative strengths.

April 11, 2006

Thinking Long and Short Term

Oh No, Coco
Coco Crisp’s ill-advised steal attempt on April 8th resulted in a broken knuckle. I’d hate to say “I told you so,” but here’s another example where a steal wreaked havoc, and not in a good sense. At least the depth chart of the Red Sox outfield goes deep as the triangle in Fenway, with Wily Mo Peña and Adam Stern as options. In a surprising move, Dustan Mohr, not Willie Harris, has been called up from Pawtucket. One would think Harris was the first option, but the former White Sox utilityman will remain with Boston’s triple A affiliate for now.

Crisp will be in a splint for ten days and will then be reevaluated. This injury could shelve the Red Sox center fielder until the end of April or the beginning of May. The Crisp/Mark Loretta tandem was picking up momentum: Crisp had scored six runs and Loretta two RBIs but got on base at a .429 clip in the season to date.

I haven’t seen an announcement on whom Terry Francona will use to hit leadoff, but Kevin Youkilis’s patience, demonstrated by a .471 OBP, makes him the best choice. Adam Stern’s speed does not a leadoff hitter make.

Eons of Ortiz
David Ortiz signed a contract extension yesterday that locked up the league’s premiere designated hitter until 2010. The four-year, $52-million deal lifted the spirits of Red Sox fans almost has high as Big Papi hits his clutch home runs. Here’s to many more covers of video game, jars of salsa, tubs of applesauce, comebacks of remarkable and epic nature, and cameo appearances in photos of Tim Kasey.

March 29, 2006

Springtime on the Farm

Chris Kline of Baseball America has been touring spring training camps and posted his observations on the Red Sox yesterday. Most of the column inches were devoted to the Red Sox advanced class A affiliate Wilmington Blue Rocks. With the return of first baseman Ian Bladergroen (or, as he appears to be known, “The Blade”) and first round draft picks shortstop Jed Lowrie and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the Blue Rocks look to compete in the Carolina League once again. If there is any doubt about what homegrown players up the middle can do to form the foundation of a championship team, please refer to the Yankees of the late 90s.

I’m definitely considering a trek down to Delaware to watch the team live. Of course, there are those three prospects to observe, but you can’t forget the undeniable appeal of a team that has three mascots. Not only do they have a 6'7" boulder named Rubble, but a blue moose named (appropriately enough) Rocky Bluewinkle as well as the matchless Mr. Celery. Of the three, the one I find most intriguing is Mr. Celery. He’s healthier than the food mascots you’ll find at MLB parks, particularly the trotting tubular meats in Milwaukee and the prancing pierogies of Pittsburgh. I think he’s had a problem with stalkers, however, so be sensitive when you seek him out.

Kline also devoted a paragraph to the low profile, switch-hitting utilityman Alejandro Machado. Kline interviewed the recently hired farm director Mike Hazen, who said Machado has “been outstanding. His versatility allows us some options with him and that’s his strongest suit.” I’ve been a Machado fan since I saw him play in Pawtucket last year and I hope he’ll get another chance to play with the MLB club when rosters expand. In fact, I’ve written about Machado in every one of his eleven major league starts with the Red Sox; here’s to many more.

March 24, 2006

Choice Pickup

Nice to meet youNice to meet you, Hee-Seop Choi. It’s surprising to me that this left-handed first baseman was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox today. Somehow, no one saw value in the 27-year old and he escaped the attention of some twenty-odd general managers. Not only does Choi make only $725K, he even has an option.

With a surfeit of corner infield options, the Red Sox can mix and match between Choi, Mike Lowell, J.T. Snow, and Kevin Youkilis. If one of them becomes hot, he can be traded for needs that may arise, much like Shea Hillenbrand was for Byung-Hyun Kim. (I understand that by 2004 this transaction had soured, but Kim served his purpose well in 2003. He bolstered the bullpen as closer in September and had an ERA of 0.00 that month.) Or, if one remains cold, he can be unloaded without leaving a hole.

Flexibility, infield options, and youth in one fell swoop. The team is not be the same troupe of lovable misfits of 2004. But it may be turning into something better.

March 20, 2006

A Peña For Your Thoughts

Even when Bronson Arroyo signed his contract extension back in January for a bargin price there was a sense it wasn’t for keeps but for positioning. The three-year, $11.5M contract, which was signed against his agent’s wishes, made Arroyo too tasty a morsel for baseball’s first team to resist. This morning, the Red Sox traded the right-handed pitcher for the powerful, 24-year old, right-handed right fielder Wily Mo Peña, now officially a former Red.

In my opinion, the Red Sox got the better end of the deal. The general rule is not to trade a pitcher for a position player. In this instance, however, the age of the players and the probable trajectory of their worth override conventional wisdom. Furthermore, a few of the more pressing needs of the teams were satisfied, and, in the Red Sox’s case, the future of the outfield assumed a younger, healthier aspect.

The oft-injured Trot Nixon needs an insurance policy and platoon mate, and Peña fits the bill. According to Peter Gammons in his Insider column, Austin Kearns or Adam Dunn would have cost at least a touted pitching prospect like Jon Lester, if not more. But they were willing to part with Peña for Arroyo and $1.5M.

I wonder if the Reds considered that Arroyo is trending towards more and more flyball outs as he ages and that Great American Ball Park is more of a home run park than Fenway. It may have worked into the equation, but, in Cincinnati’s estimation, the paucity of pitching and Pearl Jam cover bands in their town prevailed.

This trade overshadows and probably renders further irrelevent the signing of Juan Gonzalez to a minor league contract. He’s a shell of himself now; the impressive production he generated from 1992 to 2001 compared to his abrupt decline appears suspicious. I was shocked his team picture actually captured a look of levity.

Johnny Pesky, who is never short on smiles, had his leg broken by a foul liner this past Saturday. It was the one time he didn’t have his eye on the ball. Pesky plans to make the Red Sox home opener on April 11 regardless of the injury. Get well soon, Mr. Red Sox.

March 18, 2006

Radio Free Red Sox

Red Sox Global Media, Inc. threatens to encompass yet another medium. After this season WEEI may lose the right to broadcast Red Sox games. The Red Sox are pondering the purchase of a 25% stake in WBOS, an FM station owned by Greater Media and whose format is described on the Boston Radio Dial as “modern adult contemporary.” I’ve had issues with the personalities on WEEI, primarily Dennis and Callahan, who on repeated occasions showed their intolerance of minorities, so I advocate the move.

For the Red Sox, owning a share of the FM station would enhance sound quality and perhaps give them greater control over the representation of their franchise. For WEEI, it would be an opportunity to see if its their content or their contracts that grant them the largest sports radio market share in the country.

Monday’s Weiner Whiner Line promises to be lively.

March 14, 2006

2008 Is Enough

At last, a contract extension totally lacking in drama or intrigue. Those Christmas cards Terry Francona sent out must have made an impact; his contract was extended for two more years. The front office was probably highly motivated to avoid a return visit of the circus surrounding Theo Epstein’s contract negotiations, making Francona’s renewal a footnote in Red Sox’s offseason thesis on (mis)management.

Of Red Sox managers who have presided over more than 300 games, Terry Francona is second only to Joe McCarthy in winning percentage for their first two seasons. His in-game management often leaves me scratching my head, but the numbers, as well as the championship, are hard to refute. Let’s see if he remembers his lessons from the 2005 season and does not allow his bench to lie fallow.

Manager Total Seasons Years WP* W** L** WP**
Joe McCarthy 3 1948-1950 0.606 192 117 0.621
Terry Francona 2 2004-2005 0.596 193 131 0.596
Bill Carrigan 7 1913-1929 0.494 131 92 0.587
Don Zimmer 5 1976-1980 0.575 139 98 0.586
Grady Little 2 2002-2003 0.580 188 136 0.580
Jimmy Collins 6 1901-1906 0.548 156 117 0.571
Jimy Williams 5 1997-2001 0.540 182 142 0.562
Darrell Johnson 3 1974-1976 0.539 179 143 0.556
Dick Williams 3 1967-1969 0.545 178 146 0.549
Ralph Houk 4 1981-1984 0.525 148 122 0.548
Pinky Higgins 8 1955-1962 0.502 168 140 0.545
John McNamara 4 1985-1988 0.521 176 147 0.545
Kevin Kennedy 2 1995-1996 0.559 161 135 0.544
Joe Cronin 13 1935-1947 0.539 165 139 0.543
Joe Morgan 4 1988-1991 0.535 129 110 0.540
Ed Barrow 3 1918-1920 0.512 141 121 0.538
Eddie Kasko 4 1970-1973 0.539 172 152 0.531
Lou Boudreau 3 1952-1954 0.497 160 147 0.521
Patsy Donovan 2 1910-1911 0.520 159 147 0.520
Butch Hobson 3 1992-1994 0.472 153 171 0.472
Johnny Pesky 3 1963-1980 0.451 146 175 0.455
Hugh Duffy 2 1921-1922 0.442 136 172 0.442
Billy Herman 3 1964-1966 0.413 128 182 0.413
Lee Fohl 3 1924-1926 0.349 114 192 0.373

*Career with Red Sox
**First two seasons with Red Sox

February 22, 2006

Curtis Edward Gowdy

I didn’t grow up in the New England area nor was a big baseball fan when I was a child, so I don’t associate Curt Gowdy with the Red Sox. Instead, when I hear his warm, open voice I think of the football games I so devoutly followed as a child.

Gowdy died on February 20th at the age of 86. For decades he crisply relayed on-field feats to his enrapt audiences. My favorite memory of Gowdy is of him narrating a special on the 2004 Red Sox. Unlike the NESN and MLB offerings, I haven’t seen this program available on DVD. I believe it was only show on the Boston-area Fox affiliate. His voice was somewhat weathered with age, but I could hear the joy in his voice during his recounting of that splendid season. Rest in peace, Mr. Gowdy. I’m glad you could see the Red Sox take it all before you left.

February 13, 2006

Divine, Enshrine, Combine

Keep On Trucking
It was more like Plow and Truck Day due to this weekend’s blizzard, but it was a magnificent sight nonetheless. Monolithic moving trucks lined up along Van Ness Street to receive the team’s equipment and transport it to Fort Myers. The semis don’t just carry the mundane bats, balls, and rubbing mud, but also the burden of fans’ expectations for another season that will see their club in the playoffs.

Sports Illustrated’s John Donovan projects the Red Sox to finish third in the AL East behind the Yankees and Blue Jays. He bases his prediction on the flux caused by the completely revamped infield as well as the question marks that hover over Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke. What I find questionable about Donovan’s logic to me is that he states these pitchers’ statistics from 2005 and presumes that it is a trend rather an anomaly. In my view, the injuries Schilling and Foulke sustained were the primary cause of their poor showings, although the Red Sox closer also seemed to have some mental issues that exacerbated the physical ones.

Just do what R. Crumb says and keep on truckin’.

Shine On
The Red Sox Hall of Fame welcomes seven new members for its 2006 class:

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you read Bresciani’s interview at the Royal Rooters message board. He used to be part of the Knothole Gang at Braves Field and has also been inducted into the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame. In the interview, Bresciani divulges that there are plans to eventually make the Red Sox Hall of Fame an actual place.

Rink Synch
Rather than renovators Fenway Park will play host to Boston College hockey in December of 2006. The idea had its origins in the Fenway Sports Group, a Red Sox venture between the MLB team and the university to help the later with garnering leverage with both fans and corporations. The collaboration also publicized BC’s switch from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. No wonder Doug Flutie got those exceptional foulball seats last season!

This refactoring of Fenway reminds me of the pictures you can find at the Boston Public Library’s Sports Temples of Boston of the field being used for football.

February 7, 2006

On and Off the Record

The Red Sox are looking trimmer both on the field and in the payroll by completing two signings to avoid arbitration. Right-handed starting pitcher Josh Beckett inked a one-year, $4.325M contract and center fielder Coco Crisp signed a one-year, $2.75M deal. An official announcement of the signing of shortstop Alex Gonzalez, formerly of the Marlins, was also released yesterday.

A rousing round of musical numbers accompany the new Boston players. Mike Lowell used to wear 19 with the Marlins, but now former teammate Beckett will be adorned with this prime number. Lowell will be wearing 25. The number 21 has not been granted to any Red Sox player since Roger Clemens pitched for the Olde Towne Team.

The club is using new-fangled gimmickry to lure Clemens back into the fold, according to Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald. Clemens will be presented with a sleek video consisting of fans’ supplications for his return. Red Sox chairman and television mogul Tom Werner knows what will capture the hearts, minds, and eyeballs of his club’s fandom: the re-entry of the Rocket. But how many more stages does the 43-year old pitcher have?

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 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.

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 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 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 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 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.

Boston

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

Chicago

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

Seattle

  • 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.

Hadlockrenovations

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