Saturday, July 30, 2005

I came out of radiation isolation in style last night as we took a family trip to Fenway Park for last night's matchup between the Twins and Red Sox. It was R.'s first ever game at Fenway, so it was a very exciting evening for all of us. Both of the kids had a really good time, and I was reveling in having the family around me after several days of basement exile. R., like her brother, was really into scoring the game, and I was enjoying passing the tradition down to her.

The game itself was very entertaining. Bronson Arroyo started for the Sox and pitched very well, giving up three runs in 7 and 1/3 innings. He kept the Twins pretty much off balance all night. He was followed by Timlin, then a very ineffective Mike Myers in the 9th. Myers gave up a 2 run homer to Jacque Jones, which made it 8-5. Happily, Curt Schilling came in to shut the door and get the save.

On the offensive side, the Sox opened up the scoring on the bizzaro play of the year. With two on, Johnny Damon hit a single off Carlos Silva (who pitched quite well). Jones missed the cutoff man and the ball skipped by catcher Joe Maurer, scoring Bill Mueller. Silva backed up the play and threw wildly back to Maurer to try to get Tony Graffanino. The ball went over to Justin Morneau, who threw over to third baseman Luis Rodriguez to try to catch Damon, who was about 1/3 of the way down the 3rd base line. Damon ran toward home and Rodriguez throw bounced off the back of Johnny's helmet. Damon scores. A hit, two errors, three runs and Ron Gardenhire's worst nightmare, all on one play.

The other big blows were a solo home run by Bill Mueller, and an 8th inning grand slam by John Olerud off J.C. Romero in the 8th. Romero had only given up 11 extra base hits in 469 appearances by left handed batters over the last four seasons, so it was quite an accomplishment, and gave the Sox some breathing room, which they ended up needing in the 9th.

Of course, swirling over all of this was the latest Manny Ramirez controversey. To give you the short version, first Manny refused to play in Wednesday's finale of the Tampa Bay series, citing a previously promised day off. This despite the injuries to Trot Nixon and Matt Clement, and Terry Francona asking Manny to play with the Nixon situation being what it was. Then a report surfaced that Manny had asked to be traded, citing a "lack of privacy" for his family in Boston. Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino confirmed the report on his regular Thursday segment on WEEI, saying that this had been an annual event since the Henry/Werner/Lucchino group had taken over the team.

Given all this, the reaction to Manny last night was decidedly mixed. There were certainly a number of boos from people who thought Manny had let the team down on Wednesday, but also a lot of cheers in his support.

Now reports have surfaced that the Sox are trying to trade Manny in advance of the trading deadline tomorrow. The big rumor is a three-way deal involving the Mets and Devil Rays where Manny would go to New York, the Sox would get Mike Cameron and Aubrey Huff and the Rays would get a basket of prospects from both the Sox and Mets. Manny was even scratched from the lineup tonight with all the rumors floating around.

My take? First, there is no question that Manny should have been out there playing on Wednesday afternoon. Even though the Sox ended up winning the game, with Nixon out they were offensively weakened at both of the corner outfield positions with Millar playing left and Adam Stern playing right. Manny needed to be in left field in support of the team when they really needed him, not selfishly sitting on the bench.

As far as trading Manny? I have mixed feelings. There is no way to get equal value. Manny is a better hitter than practically anyone you are going to get to replace him. This doesn't even compare to the Nomar trade last year. Although Nomar was probably an even more popular player with the fans than Manny is, he simply wasn't producing at anywhere near Manny's level last year.

Of course Theo Epstein showed last year he'd be willing to do anything he feels is necessary to improve the team. It's going to be really interesting to see what, if anything, happens between now and the trading deadline tomorrow.


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