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December 29, 2008

Make Some Cents

The Red Sox inked Brad Penny to a one-year, $5 million deal and also signed Josh Bard to a season’s worth of work for $1.6 million. In one day the Red Sox were able to sign two players whose given and family names are also words. (Yes, “brad” is a word.) Not only that: “Brad” is an anagram of “Bard.”

I’m about as excited about these signings as I was the watershed David Wells acquisition of 2005, but sadly Penny and Bard combined have neither Wells’s soundbite potential nor girth.

Penny’s intrigue does include having bedded Alyssa Milano, but if you’re an MLB player that is about as difficult as falling out of boat and getting wet.

July 31, 2008

Keeping the East at Bay

He’s gone now. Instead of the Marlins, it was the Dodgers who were the white knights of the deal.

The Red Sox receive Jason Bay as previously stated and will pay the remainder of Ramirez’s salary. Manny Ramirez will play in Chavez Ravine, and the Pirates acquire:

  • From the Dodgers:
  • From the Red Sox:
    • Craig Hansen, 2005 first round pick that needs to be salvaged
    • Brandon Moss, outfielder that had no spot in Boston’s current lineup

The Marlins got too greedy and asked for the Red Sox to add more money and three prospects to send to the Bucs to the deal while they would surrender Jeremy Hermida and only one minor leaguer.

I’m not sure what to think of the entire thing yet except that Scott Boras is a scourge on the sport of baseball.

Manny: A Fond Farewell?

Manny Ramirez’s blasting of the Red Sox organization reported by Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com was the crossing of the Rubicon for all concerned.

By the late innings of last night’s game Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus reported a the skeleton of a three-way deal between the Marlins, Pirates, and Red Sox on the site’s blog, Unfiltered. On the same blog a few hours later Kevin Goldstein echoed Carroll’s report but fleshed out the deal with the names of a few prospects from the Marlins’ side. Interestingly (and thankfully), the prospects coming out of Boston’s organization were removed.

The major parts changing organizations were Jason Bay (from the Pirates to the Red Sox), Jeremy Hermida (from the Marlins to the Pirates), and Ramirez (from the Red Sox to the Marlins). The Fish seem to like players from the Red Sox organization named Ramirez.

I’ve defended Manny throughout this most recent imbroglio, but it’s clear he wants out. If the Red Sox are looking for a less controversial player you can’t get anyone more vanilla than Bay, although he does have a fan in Eddie Vedder. For some reason lead singer of Pearl Jam urged attendees of his band’s 2006 concert at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh to vote for Bay as an All-Star. In 2005, Bay hit zero homers in the Home Runs Derby held at Comerica Park.

Although he needed a rock star to stump for him and performed poorly in an over-hyped exhibition, Bay’s production would make him a perennial All-Star if he were in the lineup of either a better team or a franchise in a bigger media market. Should he find himself in Fenway’s left field, the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year will have a tough act to follow. His acquiring team would probably enjoy the fact that he could be a replacement bat for Ramirez but without the incumbent’s antics.

July 17, 2008

Kelly Cashes In

News that the Red Sox signed first-round pick Casey Kelly broke just a few minutes ago. The two-way player was offered a scholarship to play quarterback at the University of Tennessee and would have gone there if the team that drafted him wanted him as a pitcher rather than shortstop.

The Red Sox were thin in the shortstop slot organizationally after moving Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett. First-round draftee from 2005 Jed Lowrie has come around since his lackluster sophomore year in Portland but it seems the Red Sox are not sure that he will break through. Kelly bolsters their talent pool in a scarce position.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked him at 18 in his Top 50 Talents (subscription required). An excerpt of Goldstein’s write-up:

18. Casey Kelly, RHP/SS, Sarasota HS (FL)
What He Is: The son of former big leaguer Pat is an excellent two-way athlete with good bloodlines.
What He’s Not: An especially adept hitter, other than the power.
In A Perfect World He Becomes: A big power right-hander.
Backup Plan: Even as a shortstop, he’s a first-round talent because his kind of power is rare for the position and he’s a top-flight defender

I will just have to get over my bias against people with two first names, but it does help that his name has cutesy alliteration.

April 20, 2008

John Marzano, 1963-2008

John Marzano, former catcher for the Red Sox, Texas, and Seattle, member of the 1984 Olympic team, and MLB.com commentator died yesterday of an apparent heart attack.

Here he is playing Nolan Ryan to Paul O’Neill’s Robin Ventura. Marzano was the picture of a South Philly tough guy and he will be missed.

Photo taken August 28, 1996, courtesy of AP Photo/Loren Callahan.

April 11, 2008


Like the drummers in spinal tap, right-handed Red Sox relievers always wonder what doom awaits them when Mike Timlin nurses his way back to health. Bryan Corey need wonder no longer: he was designated for assignment so that Timlin would be available for the Yankees series.

Along with Timlin he was one of the more enthusiastic percussionists of the pen, so if they miss a beat or two tonight, it might be because Corey is no longer thumping away.

April 8, 2008

Ceremonial First Pitch

Beneath a crisp blue sky and choreographed to a soaring soundtrack performed by the Boston Pops the 2007 World Champions received their rings today at Fenway.

Banners for the five previous championships, 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, dropped in sequence. Just as it had three years ago, the enormous 2004 banner unrolled over the entire left field wall. Then the 2007 banner unfurled, battling against updrafts to billow stubbornly before settling.

Greats from the Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots brought their respective trophies with the rings to a table. Johnny Bucyk had the heftiest burden and made no show of taking the shortest route possible to respite. Bill Russell, Danny Ainge, John Havlicek, Bobby Orr, and Tedy Bruschi were among the attendees.

Representing the 2004 Red Sox were Brian Daubach, Curtis Leskanic, and David McCarty. Johnny Pesky did not call Leskanic a son of bitch on camera, but later Number Six managed to slip in a “goddamn” while hoisting a smaller version of the 2007 banner up the flagpole in center field.

This time Carl Beane did not announce each coach, staff, or player’s name this time, nor did Terry Cashman sing a Red Sox version of “Talkin’ Baseball.”

Instead, recognizable movie themes were timed with players’ entrances:

  • Superman: Pesky and Jason Varitek
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark: Josh Beckett
  • James Bond: Kevin Youkilis
  • Star Wars: Manny Ramirez
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Bullpen
  • I’m Shipping Up to Boston: Jonathan Papelbon
  • Dirty Water: David Ortiz

While walking towards the flagpole to Ramirez and Royce Clayton were in profound conversation. “Manny’s telling him he can get a lot of money for the ring on eBay,” quipped my friend.

During the playing of the anthem, one Boston Pops member turned around to take a picture of the United States flag on the wall.

From behind that flag Bill Buckner emerged. The ovation was lovingly long. He made his long walk from the wall to the mound, obviously moved but at a loss as to how to respond. His hands alternated between being tucked in his pockets and wiping away tears. As he stood on the mound he murmured quiet “thank yous.” After tossing a strike to Dwight Evans they hugged. Years of misplaced blame were purged in those few precious moments.

Pesky stood at the microphone with his bat on his shoulder. As a proper gentleman should before undertaking any task of great import he doffed his cap. “Let’s play ball.”

March 2, 2008

Imagine Nation

For the second time in four years the Red Sox visited the White House and were feted by the president on the South Lawn of the White House. On Wednesday, February 27, George W. Bush spoke lucidly on one of the few issues in which he is expert — baseball. The other topics in which he has experience — evading military service, drug and alcohol abuse, pilfering elections, and the like — are not discussed in polite company.

President Bush made mention of “the Mighty Red Sox Nation,” practically recognizing it as a sovereign state. Fanfare such as this and the fact that the Red Sox outdrew the Yankees in road games incited Hank Steinbrenner’s rant in The New York Times’ Play Magazine.

“Red Sox Nation?” Hank says. “What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”

The feature chronicles Hank’s ascent to the Yankee throne (and descent into madness) thanks not to his talents but because of the divorce of Steve Swindal, the former heir to imperium, from George’s daughter Jennifer. It also described the architecture and embellishments of the new Yankee Stadium, which called to mind rallies at Nuremberg rather than a leisurely day enjoying the national pastime.

If the stadium’s exterior, with its limestone and granite façade, is self-consciously retro, the interior will be thoroughly modern.... The team’s interlocking “NY” logo will be everywhere, from the door handles to the latticework. Lining the so-called Great Hall that runs from home plate to the right-field foul pole will be huge two-sided banners, with Yankee legends in black-and-white on one side and more recent superstars in color on the other. The Yankees are eight years removed from their last world championship, but it’s hard not to regard the new stadium, with its over-the-top evocation of Yankee mythology, as an in-your-face assertion of Yankee might, a pointed and — depending on your perspective — either desperate or reassuring reminder that the team is less a baseball club than an American institution. It will be Red Sox Nation’s version of hell.


As hellish as the current administration of the United States is, I much prefer my team visiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the site of a true monument of democracy. Such sojourn means more than erecting a cenotaph to long-past greatness.

Photos courtesy The White House and The New York Yankees/Associated Press, respectively.

February 24, 2008

Schilling Expresses Relief

With the signing of Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract, Curt Schilling demonstrated marked relief.

“This is awesome! That butterball eats so much, most of the food that supplies the big league club will have to be trucked down to Pawtucket. There won’t be as much food around here to tempt me to break my weight clause.”

Showing off his relatively svelte figure to the group of media people he cornered, Schilling also stated his hopes that Colon might contribute to the major league club this season. “And if he manages to make the roster, I’ll be sure to stand near him so I’ll look even thinner than I appear now.”

Terry Francona, who signed a three-year extension today, had some concerns about both Schilling and Colon in the same clubhouse. “Wouldn’t that much mass potentially warp the fabric of the space-time continuum?”

“Or would they be more like a binary star system, like 61 Cygni?” When questioned about whether Colon or Schilling could still be considered stars, Francona backed off the twin star comparison. “Now that I think about it, Cygni is made up of two K class stars, which are on the smaller side. These guys are more Class B, but no where near the size of Class O.”

February 22, 2008

Why Manny Chose Boras

Manny ambled into the Fort Myers training compound, the sun barely tinging the horizon with light. Earlier than his teammates, earlier than most Red Sox coach staff, as usual.

He was surprised to see Daisuke already there getting a massage.

“Hey, man. You here pretty early, eh.”

“Yeah, had to get some massage therapy,” the pitcher replied, looking up from the table drowsily.

Rolling his right shoulder, Manny thought a back rub before sitting for hours in front of the television analyzing pitchers would be ideal. “Can I get one, too? Just feeling a little tight around here, you know.” The slugger gestured to his back.

The masseur cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Well, I am supposed to only treat Mr. Matsuzaka, but since no one else is around, I could, maybe, after I’m finished here....”

Manny sensed the awkwardness of the situation. “Oh, no, no, no it’s okay, man. I don’t want you to get in trouble or anything.” To put everyone back at ease, he changed the subject.

“I’m gonna negotiate my next contract and get me my own guy,” he smiled broadly while stretching. “Getting old, you know. I ain’t got no pop no more.”

Matsuzaka chuckled. “It’s not easy getting perks out of the Red Sox. Mr. Henry, Mr. Lucchino, Theo... they are smart businessmen. That’s why I got Boras.”

“I don’t know, I don’t hear a lot of good things about that guy, you know. It’s all money, money, money.” Manny turned away to make his sojourn to the video room.

“He got me that Lincoln Town Car.”

Turning around slowly with delight shining across his face, Manny asked, “Could you give me Boras’s number? Oh, and Dice-K, you can tell your guys to stop looking for that Skyline GT-R for me. I bet Scott can get that included in my next deal.”

February 7, 2008

Cold Shoulder

Overly vigorous campaign sign waving for John McCain, long hours of MMORPG testing, reaching too far to pat himself on the back, or some combination of the three has torn Curt Schilling’s rotator cuff.

When the hurler went against Red Sox team doctor Thomas Gill’s advice and opted for season-ending surgery upon the recommendation of his personal orthopaedic surgeon, Craig Morgan, the Red Sox threatened to void his contract. Per the collective bargaining agreement, a third doctor was consulted. David Altchek, the medical director for the Mets, agreed with Gill’s assessment. In the end, Schilling decided against surgery, but will be out until the All-Star break at the very least.

In the battle of medical school credentials, Altchek graduated from Cornell, Morgan went to Emory, and Gill attended Harvard. All are board-certified orthopaedic surgeons. At both ends of the spectrum, Altchek boasts Carl Pavano and Pedro Martinez as patients. Morgan has testimonials from Schilling, Paul Byrd, and Jeff Brantley on his practice’s site. Massachusetts General Hospital, where Gill practices, is more discreet about its clientèle, although it does note that Gill is also the Patriots’ Head Team Physician.

That expertise will be brought to bear on Tim Wakefield in 2008, as well as the needs of the young arms of Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. File the Johan Santana blockbuster under “sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.”

At the moment, Gill might be preoccupied with providing psych referrals for a number of Patriots players.

February 1, 2008

A Mayor You Can Understand

Not because he’s a common man, but because he enunciates.

Sean Casey is known as “the Mayor” because of his affable nature; he’s the friendliest player in baseball five years running according to Sports Illustrated polls.

On second thought, he went .296/.353/.393 in 143 bats, which is all too common. But, his .363/.929 to .285/.716 left/right split compliments Kevin Youkilis well (.290/.815 to .287/.854), if that could even be seen as a problem that required fixing.

Casey inked a one-year, $700,000 deal today. He joins reliever David Aardsma, who came to Boston earlier this week from the White Sox in return for minor leaguers Willy Mota and Miguel Socolovich, as the latest Red Sox acqusitions.

These aren’t earth-shattering deals, of course. The alternative could have been days of torturous deal-making with Johan Santana’s agent Peter Greenberg while bidding farewell to either Jacoby Ellsbury or John Lester. Mike Lowell and Casey attempting to out-nice each other will make for a fun-filled 2008.

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