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Posts Tagged ‘Yankees’


Since the winter meetings start next week, it is time to talk about some baseball (mostly Red Sox though).

Some of the best off season news is that Joe Morgan was non-tendered by ESPN.  I didn’t mind Jon Miller, but Morgan drove me crazy.  He was a Hall of Fame player, but not a good color man.  They will replaced by the team of Orel Hershiser, Bobby Valentine and Dan Shulman.  Not too wild about Bobby, but Orel provides some great insight in my opinion.

AP Michael Dwyer

I was a bit surprised by the whole Victor Martinez thing.  Not that he left, but some of the details of his departure.  While he was in Boston we occasionally read how he was a catcher- he wanted to catch.  He was willing to play a little firstbase or DH, but he viewed himself as a catcher.  Victor is an elite hitter as a catcher, but only very good as a DH or a first baseman (and a below par fielder).  When you consider the guy who won the Silver Slugger award at the position last year (on a 1 year deal) made $9 million, you see that the price for elite DH’s is not quite as high as elite catchers.  And that is the catch- the Red Sox didn’t want to pay him like an elite catcher when he had shifted to first base or DH full-time.  Position does matter.

Their experience with ‘Tek’s swift offensive decline (and Victor, his conditioning is legendary so it wasn’t that he didn’t take care of his body), left a bad taste in their mouth.  That and the Mike Lowell contract.  They don’t want old guys gone bad being paid big bucks.  They can’t print money like the Yankees can (especially with Fenway no longer being a HOT ticket and NESN ratings plummeting).

During the press conference to announce V-Mart’s good-sized contract it was announced that he was going to back up their catcher and spend most of his time at DH and 1st base.  Huh?  I felt like I got the old switcheroo.  But they are paying him like he’s a elite catcher.  He doesn’t have the thump you want from a DH or 1st baseman.  I will miss his ability to excel against lefties, but I think the Red Sox made a good move.  He was also a great club house guy, who worked well with some of the pitchers (Clay) but struggled with others (is Beckett’s decline coincidental?).  His probable replacement didn’t hit as well, but did a good job with the pitchers.  All starters went into the 7th (and with that bullpen, it was a huge deal).  So the Sox most likely got a defensive upgrade.  Victor worked hard, and showed some improvement but he’s over 30 and his defensive skills won’t drastically improve.  When you have to face the Rays 19 times, and face the possibility of facing the Rangers in the playoffs- you have to throw people out!

AP Photo Jeff Roberson

Of course, now there is talk of the Red Sox picking up Russell Martin via free agency, or swinging a trade with the Dodger for him.  He has been hampered by injury the last few years, but might make a good platoon with Salty. [Update: they have just re-signed, not resigned, Jason Varitek.]

I’ve posted before on the Crawford-Werth debate. Sox officials met with Crawford yesterday.  They plan to meet with Scott Boras (hit the Darth Vader music) about Werth and Beltre before the Winter Meetings.  My BIG concern (really big concern) is the length of contracts mentioned thus far.  Far too long.  I suspect the Red Sox will be quite resistant to commit to anyone that long, especially anyone over 30.

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While fixing the kids’ lunch today, I was watching the Sports Reporters.  They were talking about the economy’s effect on salaries, and just about every team but the NY Yankees.  The salary cap was mentioned, and one of the reporters repeated an oft mentioned error.  I can’t stand it when supposed experts (like this guy and Colin Cowherd) don’t know the facts.  I think Cowherd also passed on this bit of incorrect information.

2008 MLB Salaries

  1. NY Yankees  $209 million
  2. Detroit Tigers  $138.6 million
  3. NY Mets  $138.2 million
  4. Boston Red Sox $133.4 million

It will be interesting to see how it all stacks up come the beginning of this season.  Both the Red Sox and Tigers have dumped salary.  Lots of teams have.  The Red Sox spent more the first few years of John Henry’s tenure as owner.  But these knee-jerk reactionaries refuse to face facts.  The Red Sox have been implementing their plan of player development in order to reduce their salary (they spent more than $143 million in 2007).  They don’t want to depend on high priced free agents.  To compete until they could develop guys like Lester, Pedroia and Papelbon, they spent money.  But to think they ever actually competed with the Yankees salary-wise is silly.  John Henry knew that the Red Sox could not sustain a system where they spent ever-increasing amounts on free agents (as the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes showed, they picked targets and set limits- just as with the A-Fraud trade which the MLBPA, not Bug Selig squashed [sorry Colin]). 

Henry doesn’t want the Yankees to be in a completely different stratosphere when it comes to salary (they may near the $100 million gap this season).  But they also don’t want those team who receive revenue sharing to just pocket the cash.  They want them to spend money on players’ salaries so ALL teams are better increasing the competition and the MLB product.  As a result, I don’t find the talk of a salary zone by John Henry to be disingenuous.  Whether or not it is good for the game is up for debate.  But to take the comments out of context, including historical context, is unfair, and not solid journalism.

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Remains to be Seen       Globe Staff (Jim Davis)

Remains to be Seen Globe Staff (Jim Davis)

A second Red Sox post in 2 days?  Yes, because the Hot Stove is overheating!

Coco Crisp is now a Kansas City Royal (sorry, dude).  I’ll miss his superb defense despite his weak arm.  Obviously Theo and Terry think Jacoby will make the necessary adjustments to return much better next season after going through some disappointing slumps this season.

Ramon Ramirez is now a Red Sox.  He pitched well in relief for the Royals last year with a 2.64 ERA and 70 Ks in just over 71 innings of work, giving up only 2 HRs (a key stat).  He can help solidify that Red Sox bullpen which struggled before Justin Masterson joined it.  The Sox may have plans to return Justin to the rotation (I wrote this before reading the Buzz).  But maybe not…

Reports are that the Sox are making a run at A.J. Burnett, a John Henry favorite from his days as Marlins’ owner.  This may trigger a bidding war, which may be exactly what the Red Sox want (though the Yankees may return the favor over Teixeira).  I’m not sure why the Sox want him.  He’s often injured and can’t seem to put it together despite having great stuff.  Without ‘Tek, this would be an even riskier move.  I’m not so wild about this.

Nothing yet on the rumored trade of Julio Lugo to the Tigers for an equally bad contract on a pitcher.

Tony Mazzarotti thinks the Red Sox will offer Mark Teixeira the biggest contract in Red Sox history.  The Red Sox want him.  Afterall, they once drafted him.  He is productive, patient, a great defender and a great clubhouse guy who can lead.  In other words- Manny without the baggage.  This is why they didn’t pick up Manny’s option- they’d rather spend $20 million on a guy who is younger and low maintenance.  They might not get him, but it won’t be for a lack of effort and resources.  Both teams remain mum on Teixeira.  They want to work behind the scenes, much like the Yankees did with Damon.  That’s how Theo likes things too.  The Yankees have far more to spend, even if they drop $150 million on pitching.

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He doesn’t put up the most spectacular stats.  But J.D. Drew just happens to come thru at the right time.  Bad back or no bad back.  His grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS last year.  His key home run against the Angels this year.  His power surge while Big Papi was on the DL this year.

Last night was just unbelievable.  I was getting ready to turn off the game and hit the hay.  I was going to give the Red Sox one last half inning.  After a whole series of utter futility with RISP, Pedroia came up with an RBI hit that opened the floodgates.  Papi cleared the bases with a long overdue home run.

In the 8th it was Crisp’s lengthy at bat, fouling off pitch after pitch, that finally resulted in an RBI single to tie the game.

In between Papi and Coco, you had Drew driving a rocket into the right field seats to drive in 2.  Then, after walking Bay to get to Drew (and the lefty on lefty match up) Drew got his 5th hit in 8 tries (if I remember right) off Howell to win the game.

He gets paid a good chunk of money.  He’s not flashy, but he plays great defense in right field.  And he gets important hits (leading the Sox in game winning hits this season).  Here’s hoping that Drew and Papi have rediscovered their swing, and that last night was not a fluke.

The young, resilient Tampa Bay Rays are confident they have what it takes to close out Boston in the AL championship series.

In fact, they find it humorous anyone would believe the team’s psyche might have been irreparably damaged when the Red Sox kept their pennant hopes alive with the second-biggest comeback in postseason history. …

Thursday night’s loss is the type of defeat that might destroy some teams. But the Rays have rebounded from difficult situations all season and believe they have the makeup to complete the job against Boston.

I’m sure the 2003 A’s, 2004 Yankees and 2007 Indians all thought the same thing.  They all thought there was no way the Red Sox could beat them.  This is not any of those teams.  No Damon, Pedro, Schilling, Manny etc.  Now there is no Lowell, and Beckett is hurt too.  I can understand their confidence- they are a good team and the Red Sox are a damaged team.  Sometimes things happen like we think they will, and sometimes strange things happen.  I’m hoping for the strange things.

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While I was on vacation, my dad gifted me with Dan Shaughnessy’s book Reversing the Curse: Inside the History-Making Red Sox Championship Season.  It is one of the MANY books to be written about the 2004 World Series Champions.  This book was actually written as the season progressed, and like the movie Fever Pitch, had the good fortune to be completed with the Sox actually winning the Series for the first time since 1918.

Dan Shaughnessy is an interesting figure in Boston sports.  He grew up in New England (not to far from where I grew up) so he loves Boston sports teams.  The down side is that he is incredibly cynical about Boston sports.  He’s seemingly omnipresent, but his presence is not necessarily a welcome one.  To his credit, he seems to actually show up in the locker rooms to talk to guys rather than hiding in the safe confines of his office after a particularly acerbic piece.  As a result, he is not as endearing a figure to people like me as, say, Bob Ryan or Peter Gammons (why doesn’t he have a book on this????).

The book covers the series from the horrific end, for Sox fans, of the 2003 ALDS.  It covers what happened then and how that event set up the changes that took place in the off season.  After chapters on both of those, he goes month by month to cover the season’s ups and downs.  He uses a nearly conversational-style, often changing time frames which can be confusing.  But he also offers some quick biographical sketches of some of the key figures, like Johnny Damon, David Ortiz etc.

Being CHB, he does not gloss over the various dramas that did inflict the team that season- Nomar’s nearly eternal pout, Pedro’s Dominican Diva act while trying to negotiate via the press, Manny Being Disruptive etc.  He also includes some “insider” information, such as Nomar being informed of the “Trade We Rejoice Never Happened” (that would be Manny for A-Fraud) as it happened.  His public shock and dismay was a sham.

At times the book is burdened by Dan’s cynicism.  He can’t let “the bag job”, as he refers to the Henry-Werner group’s purchase of the team, go.  It is wearisome at times.  But this does not outweigh the many positives of the book.  Nor do the quotes of players using profanity (not a book for the kiddies, folks).

As the Sox rallied to defeat the Yankees I found myself crying all over again.  Who could know that when the Yankees didn’t put them away, the Sox would not just win 4 in a row, but 8.  Kevin Millar was spot on that night.

He also covered some of the more immediate changes that took place after winning the World Series.  I caused me to ponder- what if they had signed Orlando Caberra as I’d wanted.  No Rent-a-Wreck and the wasted 2005 season.  No overpaying Julio Lugo for his weak offense and mastery of committing errors.  The Sox would be well-positioned for Jed Lowry to take over the shortstop position.  Orlando provided steady, often spectacular defense, and enough offense.

Either way… this book is a must for the Red Sox fan.  He writes as one of us, but with more behind the scenes knowledge than one of us.  Even if you don’t like CHB, you’ll appreciate his book.  After all, it has a happy ending.

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After just 1 loss some of th Rays’ fans were panicing.  Now that they have lost 4 out of 5 games, and their lead is merely 2 games (with the Red Sox still to play tonight), they must be lining up to jump off the bridge.

I heard some talk radio guys whining about Red Sox fans this week.  That we are now acting even more entitled than the Yankees’ fans.  I didn’t hear the context.  I suppose success does create expectaions.  When your team has never had a winning season before … you can be a bit defensive and envious.

Very excited that both Beckett and Lowell played well in their first games back from the DL.  The Red Sox have adjusted well to the recent rash of injuries.  And there have been plenty.  They didn’t give up, but have continued to play well.  Good news as well that they seem to have cured their road issues from earlier in the season.  Dustin Pedroia has been quite impressive, showing that size does not matter when it comes to playing baseball.  He’s been the everyday player to lead the team everyday.  You can’t say enough about how important he has become to this squad.

Not only are the Sox closing in on the Rays, but the Angels as well.  It would be great to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  This should make for an exciting 3+ weeks as we move to the end of the regular season.

Update: The Sox failed to capitalize.  But the Rays have given them another chance on Sunday- so far the Sox are up 2-0 midway through the game.

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This year the baseball trade deadline has prompted to some very exciting deals- if you cheer for the Yankees and the Angels.

The Yankees are repeating the pattern of the past, though with a bit less luster.  They are taking on additional payroll (with that ever end???) and sending back prospects or low money guys in return.  First they bring over Xavier Nady and his .320+ average to fill their hole in left field, as well as giving them a right handed bat that has been missing to restore balance to their line-up.  That deal also brought them a solid left-handed reliever.  The analysts basically agree this deal was a steal for the Yankees.  They have Nady signed for next year at an affordable salary, and an option for Marte.  So, this is not a rent-a-player situation.

Marte’s presence allowed them to  ship out Farnsworth, which saddens me.  The hard throwing relief pitcher was hittable often enough.  In return they pick up an aging Ivan Rodriguez.  He started the year slowly at the plate, but has brought his average up to about .290.  So, they add a strong bat behind the plate, replacing Posada who is done for the year.  From the Tigers’ perspective, this move surprises me since they seemed to have climbed back into the AL Central.  This is basically a salary dump.

They have positioned themselves nicely for the stretch run in an organization where failure is not an option.  The weak and vulnerable Yankees of April-June are once again gone as Brian Cashman made some wise moves internally (some forced by injuries to guys who weren’t performing as expected), and brought in some guys to address the remaining weaknesses.  All we can hope for is that they lack chemistry.  Only they could do this because they added millions in payroll.

The Angels also made a really good move in picking up Teixeira for Kotchman.  That is a big improvement in my book.  Though he might be a rent-a-player.  But the Angels see this as the year they could go all the way.  They have the pitching, and needed 1 or 2 more good bats.  Teixeira is the piece they needed to avoid a repeat of last year’s playoff sweep at the hands of the Red Sox.

If you haven’t noticed, the Red Sox payroll has been decreasing over the years.  They are showing greater financial restraint, but this may come back to bite them like it did in 2005.  They are trying to dump Manny and his primadona act.  His recent actions seem to be mostly about his desire to make more money.  It is hard to avoid thinking that he no longer wants the Sox to pick up that option because he wants another $100 million contract- which seems unlikely with his diminishing skills.  But Scott Boras only makes money on Manny if he does get a new contract instead of the option.  So ….. this round of Manny Being Moronic seems to be driven by money since he sure is hitting well for a guy with a bum knee.  But he seems to play better when there is drama going on, so who really knows.

The only remaining possibility out there, after the Phillies, Mets and Dodgers have all denied any interest, seems the Marlins of all teams.  It is reported the Red Sox could get either Josh Willingham or Jeremy Hermida and a prospect in return.  I doubt anything will happen though.  Maybe the Marlins think Manny will actually put some fannies in the seats there.

The Rays have been mentioned in rumors, but I couldn’t see them picking up any of these guys, contrary to what I hear on the local sports radio.  The owners don’t want to spend that much extra money, and they don’t want to give away their prospects.  You aren’t getting any of the players traded for Johnny Gomes, folks.  They have survived a stretch where they have not produced many runs, which is a positive.  The local jock talkers think they have the guns to score lots more runs.  I suspect this latest stretch was a “regression to mean” after some superlative play.  The real Rays are somewhere between those 2 offensive extremes.  Longoria has been killing my fantasy team the last few weeks (as have a few other guys- I even dumped Ellsbury which may come back to haunt me).  But the re-constituted Yankees will surpass the Rays until A-Fraud does his typical October disappearing act.

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