Friday, February 27, 2009

You really have to wonder what Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras are thinking about.

Manny has turned down a $25 million offer from the Dodgers for 2009, with a $20 million player option for 2010. That means that if Manny thinks he can get more on the open market, he can opt out and become a free agent again.

Apparently the issue is over deferred money - when the $45 million will be paid out. Manny apparently wants to get paid out over the two years, while the Dodgers want to spread out the payments into 2013.

Have Boras and Manny been paying attention to what is going on? The economy is in the worst shape it has been since the Great Depression. Good outfielders like Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell are signing for much less than they made last year. That the Dodgers are actually offering a raise over what the Red Sox paid Manny last year is astonishing in this economy.

If I were Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, I would make my offer a final one. Tell Boras that if he has a better offer than the one the Dodgers are putting out there, he should go sign that. It's time to call his bluff and see what happens.

Spring Training games are already underway. Manny needs to decide where he wants to play for 2009.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chad Finn listed his favorite Sox players by position since he became a fan on his excellent Touching All The Bases blog on You can read his picks at the link. Here are mine, although as it turns out there's a fair amount of overlap.

C - Jason Varitek: Tough call between 'Tek and Carlton Fisk, but 'Tek's participation on the two championship teams puts him over the top.

1B - Carl Yastrzemski: As my all-time favorite Red Sox, Yaz had to be on the list somewhere. From 1974, the year I really started to follow baseball, until his retirement Yaz played more games (497) at first than in left or DH, so he gets the spot. Mo Vaughn and George Scott would be in a fight for this spot if Yaz weren't here.

2B - Jerry Remy: Before the NESN gig and the commercials and the Web site, Jerry Remy was a darn good baseball player. All the Remy stuff over the past three decades goes into this pick. Dustin Pedroia would be a close #2, and maybe moves up in a few years.

3B - Mike Lowell: Tough pick here. If I was picking best third baseman, it would be Wade Boggs hands down, but he was such a weird dude with the chicken, Margo, willing himself invisible and stuff, I couldn't pick him as my favorite. Lowell is just the consumate professional, plays hard, plays hurt, great clubhouse influence. What's not to like?

SS - Nomar Garciaparra: Remember how great he was before the Sports Illustrated cover and the injuries and the surliness took over? That's the Nomar I like to remember.

LF - Jim Rice: Jim Ed was the Sox best player of my high school and college years and I always loved watching him hit. Manny Ramirez is probably my toughest exclusion on this list, in spite of the way things ended last season.

CF - Johnny Damon: Johnny was the complete package: the beard, the Jesus haircut and he was a very good player for the 2004 World Series Champions. The Idiots wouldn't have been the same without him.

RF - Dwight Evans: How many outfielders in the last 50 years have had a better arm than Dwight Evans? I have this image in my head of him throwing a one-hop strike to nail a runner at third base; that's always the first thing I think of with Dewey.

DH - David Ortiz: There really isn't anyone else to pick, is there? If you don't love Big Papi, you're probably a Yankees fan.

RHP - Pedro Martinez: Pedro was the greatest Red Sox pitcher I have ever seen, maybe the greatest Red Sox pitcher ever. Fenway Park was electric the nights he pitched; there hasn't been anything like it before or since.

LHP - Bill Lee: The Spaceman is one of the great characters in Red Sox history. One of my favorite Lee quotes: after hearing that Sparky Anderson said before game 7 of the 1975 World Series that "Win or lose, my starting pitcher is going to the Hall of Fame." (Don Gullett? Sorry, no.) Lee's response: "Win or lose, I'm going to the Eliot Lounge."

Closer - Jonathan Papelbon: Just based on his dancing ablity, if nothing else.

Backup outfielder - Dave Roberts: The Steal wins his spot.

Utility infielder - Lou Merloni: I went through a few choices here (Steve Lyons, Alex Cora, Pokey Reese), but it finally came down to Framingham Lou. I always liked the way he played the game and he's a local guy.

Prospect who never quite made it - Sam Bowen: Bowen was a power hitting outfielder who spent most of six seasons in Pawtucket, but never got more than a cup of coffee in the majors (16 total games played). He was a heck of a hitter and fun to watch, but had some obstacles named Rice, Lynn and Evans in his way at the Major League level.

Manager - Joe Morgan: Morgan Magic really was magical. The firing of John McNamara and his replacement by Tollway Joe woke up the team and drove them to the 1988 division title. Morgan was also the Pawsox manager for most of my childhood. The Sox fired him in favor of Butch Hobson, which may have been one of the worst decisions in team history.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Been pretty quiet on the blogging front lately. I have been spending more time on Twitter and Facebook lately, plus I just haven't had a lot to say. But, here's a few thoughts...
  • I'm watching Ken Burns Baseball on the MLB Network and they're playing the 1975 World Series. Game 6 just gets more amazing as the years go by. Carbo's homer to tie the game, Dewey's catch and Fisk's home run are the most remembered moments, but it was an amazing game from beginning to end.
  • One of the great things about Fenway is that watching a game played in 1975 doesn't look all that much different from one played in 2009.
  • Not sure why, but I'm feeling a lot more interested in the World Baseball Classic this time around.
  • I'm watching President Obama's address to Congress. He gives a great speech. I haven't been this inspired by a president in oh, at least 8 years.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Haven't done this in a while, but I'm trying a quick posting via email. Let's see how it works.
I had to laugh at Josh Beckett's response to a question on A-Rod at his press conference over the weekend down on Fort Meyers.
"I'm really, really good at minding my own business."

I'm betting A-Rod wishes the rest of the world followed Beckett's philosophy.

Windows Liveā„¢: Keep your life in sync. Check it out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A few Sunday night thoughts...
  • I really enjoyed reading my Sunday sports section today. There were articles about actual baseball. Not steroids, contract discussions or how the economy is affecting the free agent market. No, I got to read about Jason Varitek's return and the competition for the backup catching position. Spring training is underway, and not a moment too soon.
  • Thanks to Bismo, I'll be going to Opening Day at Fenway Park! Thanks, Bis!
  • MLB Network was featuring four home run games today, including Mike Cameron's with Seattle and Carlos Delgado's with the Blue Jays. Maybe this wasn't the best programming idea. There have been only 15 games in major league history where one player hit four home runs. Three of them happened in 2002-03, right at the height of the Steroid Era. Prior to Cameron and Shawn Green in 2002 and Delgado in 2003, there had only been 3 four homer games in the previous 40 years. Doesn't it just make you wonder if all the juicing going on was involved in the sudden outburst of four homer games?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Well, he sort of did the right thing.

As everyone already knows, Alex Rodriguez came out of the steroid closet to Peter Gammons on ESPN yesterday, admitting that he had been using steroids during the 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons while playing for the Texas Rangers. A-Rod hit over 150 home runs during that three year span.

I don't necessarily buy that he suddenly saw the light and stopped using in 2004. He didn't seem terribly sincere. I think he did enough to keep himself out of the baseball purgatory occupied by the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmiero. People are very willing to forgive these guys if they just come out and admit they did wrong. But I don't think we've heard the whole unvarnished truth. A-Rod just said enough to keep his image from being further tarnished, but not much more.

I think that MLB and the players union should go one step further, though. They should agree to release the other 103 names on that list. If they don't, they just keep inviting speculation and rumor about the other players on it. The names will inevitably leak out, probably in dribs and drabs, prolonging the pain of this and bringing the whole thing up again each time. Wouldn't it be better to get it all out there and shut it down once and for all?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I guess the nickname "A-Fraud" took on a new dimension today.

Sports Illustrated reported today that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003 under a confidential testing program in place at the time. The records were obtained by the government and apparently A-Rod was one of 104 players on the list of players that tested positive.

A-Rod hasn't denied anything, basically saying that reporters would have to talk to the union.

Once again, a baseball icon is shown to be dirty. Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Palmiero and now A-Rod? Nothing surprises me anymore, but Rodriguez was one of the guys constantly held out as clean. He was going to surpass Bonds and take the home run record out of his dirty hands. Now that's gone and A-Rod's reputation, and potentially Hall of Fame chances, have taken a huge hit.

Rodriguez is intensely concerned about his image. He's seen how guys who deny steroid use have been villified, Bonds and Clemens topping the list. He's also seen that guys who admit to using performance enhancing drugs and express regret are, if not totally forgiven, at least they're not made baseball pariahs. Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi are probably the two best recent examples of this. I'll be surprised if A-Rod goes into a Bonds/Clemens denial mode. I fully expect that he'll throw himself at the mercy of the court of public opinion and take his chances.

I guess we'll see how it all unfolds over the next few days. And, of course, the other question is: Who are the other 103 players on that list?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Friday is the happiest day of the year. Truck Day!

OK, maybe that's a bit of an overstatement, but the Red Sox equipment truck departure for Fort Meyers is one of the first signs that the end of the winter is in sight. And considering how snowy, cold and miserable this winter has been, the end can't come soon enough.

So, as the team starts assembling in Florida, here are five questions I think need to be answered in Spring Training:
  • Who is the shortstop? Jed Lowrie has to be the front-runner based on his play at the end of 2008, but there are 9 million reasons why you would have to consider putting Julio Lugo back there as well. I like Lowrie a lot, so I'm hoping he ends up with the job. I could be very happy with him and Pedroia as the Sox keystone combination for the next decade or so. Given Lugo's performance the last couple of years, I think he's going to be a very expensive utility man.
  • Who's healthy? Injuries to David Ortiz, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell are probably the biggest reasons the Red Sox didn't repeat as World Series champions last year. Beckett, especially, has to show up in shape and contribute at his 2007 level if the Sox are to compete with the Rays and Yankees. While I don't expect Papi to return to his 2006 54-homer form, I don't think a .300, 25-35 HR, 100-120 RBI year is out of the question if his wrist is OK. And I really expect a guy as professional and hard-working as Mike Lowell to come back at or near 100%. Oh, and when you talk about injuries, there's always J.D. Drew. There's a guaranteed three weeks on the DL at some point during the season.
  • Can Youk and Dustin stay at last years level after signing big contract extensions? An unqualified yes to me. I don't think the security of a long term contract is going to change the way these guys play the game one bit.
  • Will Theo pick up the Catcher of the Future? I'll be surprised if something doesn't happen, if not during Spring Training, than by the July trading deadline. It might cost Buchholz or Bowden to get it done, though.
  • Can any of the "damaged goods" signings contribute early? I would guess that Penny and Rocco will break camp with the team, while Saito and Smoltz spend some time in extended Spring Training. If I was a betting man, though, I would put money down that Smoltz will be the biggest contributor to the team come September and October.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

That was a heck of a game. Arizona and Pittsburgh both score in the last few minutes. Pittsburgh scores last and wins the Super Bowl 27-23.

I still don't like 'em, but congratulations to the Steelers for a great win.

Three pre-Super Bowl thoughts:
  • John Tudor appeared at a local card show today, so I got him to sign the Pawsox All-Time Team cards I have (up to 13 players now!). Tudor was a very good left-handed pitcher that came up through the Red Sox system and pitched five years for Boston. He was then traded to the Pirates for Mike Easler because, y'know, the Red Sox thought they needed more DH-types and fewer lefty starters back in the '80s. Tudor had his greatest success with the Cardinals, pitching in two World Series with them. His best year was 1985 when he went 21-8 with a 1.93 ERA in 275 innings and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting to a pre-drug problem Dwight Gooden. He was a friendly guy and there weren't a lot of people there so I had the opportunity to chat with him for a few minutes. We talked about the Pawsox and how the ballpark had changed since he had played there. Very cool to meet him.
  • My beloved iPod Touch was having a problem. The iPod is designed so that the music stops playing when the headphone jack is pulled out. The problem was that it was doing this when the jack was just jostled. Needless to say, this became annoying pretty quickly. My iPod was still under warranty, so I made an appointment to see a Genius at my local Apple Store. J. and I went over there yesterday and the service couldn't have been better. He looked into the jack with one of those gadgets the doctor uses to look into your ears and saw that one of the contacts was bent. To resolve my issue, he gave me a new iPod! Actually, I'm pretty sure it's a refurbished one, but it works fine. This is the kind of service that keeps me an Apple customer.
  • Last but not least, my Super Bowl pick. I'm pulling for the Cardinals, but I don't really think they're good enough to score many points on the Pittsburgh defense. My score: Pittsburgh 24, Arizona 13. See how I did later!

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