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.
A report in yesterday’s Boston Globe said the Red Sox are currently shopping Mike Lowell, and may even be willing to pick up half of his remaining salary. Obviously, this looks like they are laying the groundwork to deal Lowell immediately once they are able to work out a deal with San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez.
But I wonder if the Sox feel so uncomfortable by Lowell’s health issues these last two seasons and by his rapidly vanishing range at third base that they feel they need to replace him at third next year regardless of whether they land Gonzalez or not. I’m certainly leaning that way. It looks like Lowell’s days in Boston are over.
Also, I know I’ve said this before, but with the free-agent frenzy ready to kick into high gear next week I’ll say it again: I have a really bad feeling about this off-season. The most cause for concern is the vision of Jason Bay in pinstripes.
Face it, it makes all the sense in the world for the Yankees to go after Bay. They are at the end of both Damon’s and Matsui’s contracts. Getting Bay would be a huge upgrade for them. Even more, by signing Bay the Yankees would be dealing a CRUSHING blow to their rivals, the Red Sox. I really don’t see how this doesn’t happen.
If this does happen, you can all but kiss next season goodbye. Even with Bay, the Sox needed to upgrade their offense. Should they sign Gonzalez, but lose Bay, they are essentially only breaking even. Not to say that Gonzalez and Bay are equal; they aren’t. Gonzalez is a premier offensive force. But the Sox offense needs both those bats to compete with the Yankees. Signing Matt Holliday to replace him isn’t the answer. The way Boras is talking, he would cost too much. Plus, his Colorado years and his early season slump in Oakland leave a lot of questions as to what kind of hitter he really is.
Should the Sox lose Bay, 2010 is a rebuilding year.
As a Red Sox fan, it’s been a tough October. But tonight’s match-up featuring ol’ pal Pedro Martinez against the hated New York Yankees is easy to get excited about.
It certainly conjures up memories of glory days gone by. For Sox fans — in fact, for all “baseball” fans — the Pedro Martinez era in Boston was immensely exciting. Pedro provided us with arguably the greatest stretch of pitching in baseball history, and along the way left us with enduring memories — many against our most-hated rival, the New York Yankees. It’s impossible to forget him drubbing Roger Clemens in Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS. Or his 17-strikeout, 1-hit gem in New York; or his epic battle with Roger Clemens in 2000 that ended with Trot Nixon swatting a game-winning homer. Or the Zimmer game. Or his great performance in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS that unfortunately gets overshadowed by Grady Little’s all-time absentee-management moment.
Now that our 2009 Sox have been swept aside in the playoffs, Sox fans have worried we’d be stuck watching the Yankees waltz to a championship. Now, after Cliff Lee’s amazing performance in Game 1, we see our old hero — Pedro Martinez — stepping up in a spot where he can slay the Yankees once again. We know he isn’t the same pitcher he once was. But maybe . . . just maybe . . . he can recapture that magic for one more night.
I’ll certainly be watching to find out.
In the words of Mark McGwuire: “I’m not here to talk about the past.”
Let’s, for a moment, forget that ALDS with the Angels ever happened. Instead, let’s bring hope back to Red Sox Nation and talk about the future . . . unless the Sox fail to bring back Jason Bay. Then forget about hope and save yourselves, cuz this ship is sinking. So, let’s take a look at issues the Sox face this winter.
JASON BAY – The Red Sox absolutely, positively NEED to bring back Jason Bay. Rarely will I say the Sox “need” anybody. But the fact is the team’s weakest link this year was its offense. If the Sox lose their best offensive player (Bay), they likely won’t be able to make the offensive upgrades they need next season. The free agent market for bats this season is especially thin (forget Matt Holliday, the most overrated bat out there). And if the Sox land a good bat in a trade – like Adrian Gonzalez – but lose Bay, they’ll be swapping bats rather than making a significant offensive improvement next year (which would be keeping Bay and getting a Gonzalez). What scares me to death is there is no reason the Yankees won’t let Johnny Damon walk and instead throw a ton of money at Bay – which improves the Yankees offense AND hurts the Red Sox. This scares me.
JONATHON PAPELBON – I’ve been shocked at the number of people clammering to trade Paps since his blown save the other day. Sox Nation needs to get a grip. As I’ve said before, every great closer has blown big games (Rivera, Eck, Hoffman, Gossage). What makes them great is their ability to brush it off and come back. Papelbon has shown he can do it. Why would you mess with that? Did we learn nothing from the Closer By Committee fiasco that started the Theo administration in early 2003? It takes a certain type of mentality (or craziness) to be a closer, and Paps has that. Bard has great stuff, but we don’t know if he has the mental toughness to be a closer. He could instead be the next Billy Koch. That being said, the promise of Bard does give the Sox flexibility should it take dealing a Papelbon to bring a bigtime bat like Adrian Gonzalez in return.
ADRIAN GONZALEZ – In case you haven’t yet noticed, I want the Sox to back the truck up to land San Diego firstbaseman Adrian Gonzalez. He is a young, dynamic bat that could help this offense. And San Diego will be hiring a new GM (Jed Hoyer?) soon who will likely be looking to stock up on young talent. Slot A-Gonz into first, move Youk to third and . . .
MIKE LOWELL – He’s been a great player for the Sox for these past few seasons, but his best years are well-behind him. Injuries make him unreliable and limit his mobility in the field. If the Sox can find a better bat, they need to move on. The only way I see Lowell staying in that situation is if he was a platoon DH with . . .
DAVID ORTIZ – Undoubtedly my favorite baseball player of all-time. So it pains me to say this. I know he came back big in the second-half, and had impressive numbers as a result. Still, how many meaningful times did Papi come through this year against good pitching. Not many. He wasn’t a factor in the playoffs, and didn’t look like there was any hope he could be. Papi will never again be the great hitter he once was, and I’d say it was time for the Sox to move on, EXCEPT . . . tell me where the Sox are going to get another DH to replace him given how weak the free-agent market is. Assuming they keep Bay, the Sox are going to need to find a home for a new bat, and that will be in either Lowell’s or Ortiz’s slot. Given Lowell’s health issues, I wouldn’t be surprised if they dump Lowell, keep Ortiz at DH this year, and then try to replace him after next season.
JASON VARITEK – It’s hard to watch cornerstones of the 2004 championship team like Papi and Tek age and have their skills diminish. At this point, everyone has to accept that Tek is done. Even, probably, Tek. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him retire this offseason (but in some way that keeps that $3 mill option). At this point, I’m not sure the Sox offense can afford to have him as the backup catcher.
Sure, the Red Sox offense looked pathetic last night. Extremely pathetic. But this was a case of the Sox running into a talented pitcher who was as good as he could be. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other team.
The reaction to Game 1 results is always overblown, especially in a short series. When the Sox took Game 1 against the Indians in 1998, fans talked of a sweep. Three games later, the Sox were eliminated. Twice this decade the Twins have taken a Game 1 against the Yankees; both times the Yanks easily won the series.
You can’t help but like the Beckett – Weaver matchup tonight. If the Sox take it, they’ve earned a split and gained home field advantage. Then the Angels have to try to win at Fenway — not easy for them. Of course, should the unthinkable happen, then it WILL be time to panic.
Hey all, I’ve started another blog with a Yankee friend of mine called, surprisingly, Red Sox vs. Yankees. The site is http://redsoxvsyankees.mlblogs.com. It’ll be on ongoing debate/discussion about all things Yankees and Red Sox, for both Sox and Yank fans. Check it out, and help give Sox fans some representation in the debate with Yankee fans.