Following up on what my low-life brother already said, congratulations to Jim Rice on being elected to the Hall of Fame. We’re hoping to be in Cooperstown the weekend he is inducted. I’ve never been there for induction week, and I’m really hoping things work out.
In the days leading up to this announcement, I was worried it would not happen. And that would have been wrong. Even writers who didn’t vote for Rice – at least those who actually follow baseball – have to admit that from 1975 through 1986 he was one of the very best hitters in the game. That’s why he received so many MVP votes; and that’s a long time to be great. And players like that are much more deserving than the Vinny Testaverde’s of baseball (Boggs, Palmeiro, Sutton, etc.) who stick around and are able to reach milestones because of longevity, but were never really seen as great players for extended periods of time.
I can completely understand those who have the opinion that the Hall of Fame is for the greatest of the great, and Rice doesn’t belong. If the Hall were only for the Mike Schmidts, Hank Aarons, George Bretts and Willie Mayses of the world, that would be fine. But the bar has already been set; guys like Don Sutton, Wade Boggs, Phil Rizzuto, Dave Winfield and others are all Hall of Famers. You might not like where the bar is; I don’t. But it is where it is. And given that, Jim Rice — one of the very elite hitters of his era — belongs in the Hall of Fame. Thankfully, that’s where he is headed.
Getting Strong Now: If you haven’t noticed, the Sox are seriously bulking up. On the heels of bringing on Brad Penny, John Smoltz and Rocco Baldelli, they just signed former Dodger closer Saito. Injured last year, Saito struggled. But he was dominant prior to that, and there’s every reason to believe he is past his injury and ready to shine in Boston. With his addition, the Sox bullpen is looking seriously formidable. Adding Saito and Ramon Ramirez to a pen with Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima and Papelbon, not to mention all the young arms like Masterson, Bucholz and Bowden the Sox can use there thanks to the depth of their rotation, Boston could end up with the strongest pen in the game. Of course, bullpen strength is the most difficult part of a team to predict from year to year. But by adding such strong depth, the Sox are doing all they can to set themselves up to succeed.
Michael Young??: When I heard Michael Young wanted a trade out of Texas, my first thought was he might be an easy fit in Boston. The Sox have kicked around the idea of an offensive upgrade at short, and they’re already talking about a trade with the Rangers for a catcher. This could expand the package. However, when I read Young’s contract has him signed through 2013 — and he’s already 32 — well, that ain’t happening.
Former Sox Hot Stove: If you haven’t heard, the Phillies are talking about signing Nomar Garciaparra. It’d be great to see Nomar play another year and hopefully have a productive year.; Things don’t look great for Pedro. He had been saying he wanted to resign with the Mets, but the Mets don’t seem to be in any hurry to bring him back. Then Pedro signs he’d like to sign with the Marlins . . . but the Marlins don’t want to sign him. Strange market this year, with so many players in the position of courting teams instead of the other way around; It’s the middle of January, and Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe, Ben Sheets, Bobby Abreu and others are all still free agents.