The Sox are one game up in the Wild Card race with 3 to play. And a day after Jacoby Ellsbury’s dramatic home-run that will hopefully inject some life into this team, all people are talking about is John Lackey’s post-game tirade against the press.
For those who don’t know, Lackey — who was seen swearing and showing up his manager on television when Terry Francona removed him from the game last night — went on a tirade against the media after the game because a TMZ reporter texted him 30 minutes prior to the game to ask him about filing for divorce from his wife, who is currently battling cancer.
Now Lackey, who continues to make Carl Everett look like Albert Einstein, has created a distraction in the final days of a season for a much-hyped team that is on the edge of crumbling. He may be the only player in Red Sox history who could make fans think JD Drew isn’t so bad. Between rolling his eyes when teammates don’t make plays, his historically terrible season, and cursing out his manager (who has stood by him all season) for taking him out of a close, must-win game given said historically terrible season, Lackey is making a strong case for most hated Sox player by Sox fans ever.
While we’re on the subject of Lackey, I know a lot of people think his filing for divorce is a terrible thing and feel so bad for his wife. And it is a terrible thing. But don’t feel bad for her because of this. That’s what you get when you marry somebody strictly for money. How do I know she married him strictly for money? Well, then, did she marry him for his good looks, his intellect, or his charming personality?
Meanwhile, this Red Sox team is arguably the least enjoyable Red Sox team of the last 16 years. Sure, the 2001 team had a lot of selfish jerks and that team imploded late in the season. But, at that point, the Sox still hadn’t won the World Series yet, and they had fought through an incredible number of injuries to key players like Pedro, Nomar and Tek to stay competitive until September. The 2006 team also imploded late in the season, but they were competitive for most of that season and we got to watch Papi’s push for the team home run record. But this team, with it’s huge payroll, superstar line-up and 100-win expectations were SUPPOSED to dominate this year. But right from the opening bell and their 2-10 start, this team has been a terrible disappointment, and hard to root for. Still . . .
The Red Sox have signed Carl Crawford, and you’d have to be a lobotomy patient or a Yankee fan not to like this deal.
Just days after trading for Adrian Gonzalez, the Sox signed the best position player on the market. And, just like that, inserted themselves as favorites heading into this season. In case you forgot, this is the team that won 89 games last year . . . without Gonzalez and Crawford, and without Youkilus, Pedroia and Ellsbury. AND, with Beckett and Lackey having sub-par years.
Forget losting Beltre and Martinez. Beltre’s entire miserable career has been a classic case of monumental underachievement. His best two seasons: Free agent years. Some poor sucker is going to sign him and condemn his team to mediocrity. Victor Martinez? A very good hitter, but a sub-par catcher whose best days are already behind him.
Forget the money. The Sox aren’t suddenly jacking up their payroll. In fact, with the money they had coming off the books, the price they’re paying for Gonzalez and Crawford is essentially a wash. And they have more money – including JD Drew’s ridiculous contract – coming off next season. This isn’t a case of the Sox suddenly spending a lot. This is a case of good fiscal management.
Forget that this team is lefty-heavy. Yeah, they have a lot of lefties. But, both Gonzalez and Crawford have good numbers against lefties. And, as mentioned earlier, the Sox have two right-handed MVP candidates coming back into their lineup in Youkilus and Pedroia.
Forget about the Yankees signing Cliff Lee. The Crawford deal appears to have made the Yankees overreact, and go up to a seven-year offer for Lee, which they stated they didn’t want to do. Seven-year deals for position players are one thing, as they are historically much more durable and consistent. Pitchers, on the other hand, are much less predictable, even when they are healthy. And they are always one-pitch away from a blown-rotator cuff. AND, while Lee has enjoyed an excellent couple of years, he’s also been plagued by injuries during his career. Seven years is too much for any pitcher. Don’t be surprised if Lee is good for the first two or three years of this contract, then is an anchor for the rest of it. And, even with a good Lee, you still have to like how the Red Sox starting rotation matches up with the Yankees, especially if Lackey and Beckett return to form.
Forget about the bullpen. Like it or not, it’s always a crapshoot. How often in recent years have we seen the Sox and other teams stock up on great relievers in the offseason, only to have them struggle in the season. Middle-relief is almost impossible to predict. You do your best, then make adjustments along the way. Throughout his tenure as Sox GM, Theo has had his issues with the bullpen, but he’s also shown a knack for being able to improve it during the season (last year not withstanding). The starting core is great, the back end with Paps and Bard is very good, and the middle WILL come together.
Considering how much better this 89-win Red Sox team looks, is it crazy to dream of a 100-win season already?
It’s a beautiful morning.
According to reports, the Yankees have signed free-agent outfielder Randy Winn. And, say those reports, this almost certainly means Johnny Damon is out of New York.
I’ve been following Damon’s off-season closely, and this news has me jumping for joy. But, perhaps not for the reasons you are thinking of.
When Damon left Boston for New York after the 2005 season, he was widely villified in Red Sox Nation. The bearded idiot who embodied the historic 2004 Sox team and became a hero among Sox fans not only ditched us for the money, but he went to the friggin’ Yankees. He might as well have egged Fenway Park and kicked the Ted Williams statue in the stones as he left.
Personally, I was conflicted about it. I hated seeing Damon go, especially to the Yankees. But, on the other hand, baseball is a business. I can’t blame a player for going for the most money . . . especially when it essentially does mean that that team values you more than others. And these players are from all over the country (and world); regional rivalries have little hold on them. I pledged to always be thankful for Damon’s contributions to the Sox, and bid him farewell. No hard feelings . . .
But trouble was brewing in my home. My 2-year-old daughter was a Johnny Damon fan. She had a Johnny Damon T-shirt. And my foolish sister had given her a Red Sox Teddy Bear, which was called “Johnny Bear.” When we told her the news, she said she was going to cheer for the Yankees. Gulp.
Not a problem, I thought. She’s little. She was little more than 3 by the time Damon played Boston as a Yankee the next season. I admit, it caused me much anguish when my own daughter was cheering for the Yankees. But, I said to myself, she’s young. It’s a phase. She’ll forget.
My daughter turns 7 next month. When the Sox and Yanks play, she still openly cheers for the Yankees and taunts me. When she learned the Yankees had won the World Series last year, she let out a “YESSS!!!!” Just the other day, she mocked me by drawing a picture of me with me saying “I love the Yankees.” It needs to come to an end . . . one way or another.
So I’ve been looking forward to the day when I can tell her — with a big smile on my face — that Johhny Damon is no longer on the Yankees. That Damon is now on some other team, like the Oakland A’s or Atlanta Braves. That day is closer than ever.
The Globe recently ran an interesting profile of the Top 10 prospects in the Sox system. Check it out here.</strong>
In a recent interview in a Japanese magazine, Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka admitted to hiding a leg injury from the Red Sox prior to last year’s World Baseball Classic. That leg injury ended up being responsible for changing Matsuzaka’s mechanics and essentially costing him most of last season.
While the idea that a pitcher they have made a huge financial investment in hid a significant injury is sure to bristle the Sox brass, I doubt this new revelation will damage the relationship between the front office and their Japanese import. That’s because their relationship hit a low point last summer, when Daisuke complained about the Sox, while the Sox questioned Daisuke’s work ethic. Once the relationship bottomed out, it seemed to then get better, with Daisuke apologizing for his remarks and then adopting the Sox training regime. When he returned at the end of the season, he was the best Daisuke Sox fans have seen.
And that’s a point that gets overlooked as we prepare for the 2010 season. Ten months from now, we might look back and say the most important acquisition for the 2010 Red Sox was the addition of . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka.
During his first two full seasons, Matsuzaka was good, but he was never the dominant pitcher Sox fans expected him to be. He had great stuff, but he nibbled too much around the corners, walked to many hitters, and always seemed to have the one-inning implosion. Then, after his terrible start to last season and his lost summer, Daisuke and the Sox finally seemed to get on the same page. And when he returned, he dominated major league hitters like never before. He was finally the Daisuke Matsuzaka Sox fans expected when we signed him.
And then the Sox got swept out of the playoffs. Season over.
As Sox fans reflect on last season, it is hard to see through the glare of the team’s disappointing playoff performance, offensive ineptitude, and Daisuke’s own injury-plagued season to remember just how good he was down the stretch.
Should Daisuke be able to carry that performance over to the 2010 season, the Sox will have a rotation for the ages.
A year ago, Red Sox fans were anxiously awaiting word on whether Jim Rice would FINALLY be elected to the Hall of Fame. Thankfully, he was. Now, we wait for word on the newly elected members of the Hall. To me, there are three clear-cut choices for Cooperstown, whether or not the baseball writers in all their wisdom choose to see it that way. They are:
Jack Morris – With his devastating fork ball and Hall-of-Fame porn mustache, Morris was a dominant pitcher throughout the 80s and early 90s. He was THE MAN on World Series championship teams in Detroit, Minnesota and Toronto. (Not to mention he pitched what is arguably the greatest World Series game ever – Game 7, Minnesota-Atlanta.) He may not have the padded stats that mindless Hall voters have think for them, but anyone who followed baseball during that time knows Morris was consistently great and one of the very best pitchers of his day.
Bert Blyleven – Disregarding for a moment what I just said about mindless stats, let me say the most compelling case for Blyleven’s induction is one simple stat: The fifth most strikeouts . . . ever. Blyleven spent his career bouncing between a who’s who of the game’s worst teams . . . teams that made today’s Royals look like the Anaheim Angels. And, for them, Blyleven was great. He didn’t get a ton of wins, and because of that suffered when it came to Cy Young time, but he was great. Understand, strikeouts are not some meaningless stat. Simply, each time a guy strikes out against you, your stuff was too good for that major league hitter. It’s not like wins, where you can muddle by with mediocrity if you are on a good team. Because of a long career on several good teams, Don Sutton got wins and is in the Hall of Fame . . . somehow. He wasn’t half the pitcher Blyleven was.
Roberto Alomar – Arguably the greatest second-baseman to ever play the game. During the 90s, if a team wanted to win, they went out and got Alomar. The Blue Jays, the Orioles, the Indians, all were elite teams in large part because of Alomar. Offensively, for a second-baseman, he was great. Defensively, for a second-baseman, he was incredible. His election should be a slam dunk.
I just don’t know how to feel about this.
The Sox have signed a new third baseman, Adrian Beltre. This is a player who I stated I hoped the Sox stayed far away from in a blog entry a few weeks ago. Beltre is a player who has been a colossal underachiever his entire career. (If you think his fluke 2004 season wasn’t PED-fueled, I have a bridge I want to sell you.) On top of that – and most disturbing – signing him signals that the Red Sox truly are out of the running for Adrian Gonzalez.
This is the latest blow in an offseason that has left me feeling sick about the Red Sox 2010 chances — following the signing of Fluko Scutaro, losing Bay and replacing him with Mike “The K” Cameron.
However, maybe not all is lost . . .
The saving grace in the Beltre signing is the contract. I am shocked at how reasonable it is. A mere $9 million, followed by a player option of $5 million in 2011 and a $1 million buyout.
I thought signing Beltre would take much more money and a commitment of several years. I’m not a fan of Beltre, but for $9 million for what essentially is a one-year deal, I can live with it. In fact, I almost like it.
Beltre must have had almost no suitors for him to accept this deal, which is nowhere near what Scott Boras was seeking for him. He must be hoping to play well this year, in a high-profile market, and cash in next off-season. Make no mistake: There is NO WAY Beltre accepts just $5 million to come back next year. Only way he does is if he has a terrible year, and, with that money, the Sox will likely be looking to eat his contract and replace him anyway should that happen.
Buried deep in the order, and playing in Fenway Park, Beltre may even end up being a huge steal, as he has all the motivation in the world to produce for a contract, has little offensive expectations, and moves from large Safeco Field to Fenway, where he can use the wall to pad his stats.
The more I think about it, the more I kind of like this deal. This offseason certainly hasn’t gone how I wanted it to go. In fact, it has pretty much gone the opposite direction. But who knows? This team might still be pretty decent next year.
Of course, if they aren’t, I’ll say I told you so.