Sunday, August 02, 2009

Just got back from a wonderful 4-day weekend in Vermont with A. A lot has happened since Thursday, so here are a few thoughts.

Manny and Papi: We were in the car driving up to Vermont, listening to the Red Sox pre-game show on Thursday afternoon when I heard about the New York Times story saying that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were on the 2003 list of players that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Was I surprised? Not even a little bit. No player surprises me when he tests positive for a PED. We already knew about Manny, of course. The fact that Papi showed up on the list was disappointing, certainly, but hardly a shock. Ortiz went from 20 HR, 75 RBI, and an .839 OPS in 2002 to 31, 101 and .961 in 2003, his first year with Boston. Can anyone be surprised that Ortiz had a little help in accomplishing those improved numbers?

The thing that surprises me is how vehement Ortiz was during spring training in talking about punishments for PED users. Why would he speak up like he did, advocating 1 year suspensions for positive tests? Why not just keep his mouth shut if he knew he had been a user? Why paint an even bigger target on his back? That's the part of this that baffles me.

The Championships: It seems that every article about the Ortiz revelation is accompanied by a reporter questioning whether the Red Sox 2004 and 2007 World Series championships are "tainted". I say no, and here's my reasoning: you can't tell me that there weren't several PED users on every single team. The playing field was essentially level. Some players on the Red Sox were cheating, but there were players on every other team that were cheating as well. If you could somehow show that Manny and Ortiz were the only players in baseball using PEDs then, yes, I would say those championships are tainted. However, we all know that's not the case. If the Red Sox two World Series championships are tainted, you may as well ask if every World Series title in the last 15 years or so was tainted as well.

The Trade: Theo's annual July 31 extravaganza netted the Red Sox the big bat they really needed in Cleveland C/1B/DH Victor Martinez. Martinez is an excellent hitter and gives the Sox some backup in case Varitek or Lowell should go down for an extended period. Martinez is 30 and is signed through 2010, so this isn't really just a rental (or maybe it's a long-term rental).

I really like this trade, although the Sox had to part with some pretty valuable players. We all know what Justin Masterson can do in the bullpen, plus his value as a spot starter. Baseball America had Nick Hagadone listed as the Red Sox #3 prospect (behind Lars Anderson and Michael Bowden, and ahead of Daniel Bard.) Bryan Price started the year well at Greenville, although he had a bit of trouble when he got promoted to Salem in the Carolina League.

My initial thought? This could wind up being a good deal for both teams.


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