Thursday, December 29, 2005

Is Everybody Happy?

There's no doubt who's in charge, and if he's considering any of the ridiculous trades we're hearing, prepare the tar and feathers.

1. Manny and Clement and money and prospects for Tejada - are you that desperate to rid yourself of a future Hall-of-Famer? Maybe.

2. Wells for various Dodger prospects. Who can know?

3. Gil Meche and Jeremy Reed for Papelbon or Lester. Are you crazy? Talk about jumping the shark for stupidity. You cannot trade your low-salaried high value prospects for dreck. Yeah, we're talking schmootz.

Theo, get the S.W.A.T. team, the battering ram, and take control of the offices. Reverse the Dumping the Theo bag-job in the harbor. Don't tax the Nation without representation.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Mid-Term Grades

Christmas break is here, so much for the hard work, extracurricular activities, and schoolboy pranks. It's time for mid-term grades in the Hot Stove League, and nobody promised you easy marks.

Of course, I'm realistic enough to know that decisions made today only receive judgement through the unforgiving retrospectoscope of history. "Larry Anderson for that Bagwell kid? Hallelujah."

We're running a tight ship here, so we'll use some modified Navy courses for the kids.

Leadership and Management - At times, the right hand appears not to have a clue concerning the left. Trading your best shortstop prospect and two weeks later trading your shortstop can't be viewed as profiles in courage, rather pro files in discouragement. Signing on two competent assistants as co-GMs, followed by the fireside chat press conference seemed amateurish at best. John Henry's bemusement at Theo Epstein's disappearing act argued for lack of communication between the CEO and the owner. Grade - D

Seepower. The Sox added yet more seats to America's Most Beloved Ballpark, more to love. Could Rubik fit more cubes into his cube as adroitly as Lucky Lucchino squeezes fannies into those seats? Gotta give the fattest cats serious kudos for those Monstah seats, the novelty probably won't ever wear off. Grade - A

Damage Control. Call me Ishmael. There will always be ups and downs to any voyage, faced with the vicissitudes of Major League Baseball. You can fortify your vessel to confront the most hostile environment on earth - the Hated Yankees. A healthy Beckett reinforces the bow, and acquiring Mota and resigning Timlin strengthens your stern. As for the port side, the Sox have never listed to port, and losing Wells remains consistent. Millwood's not coming, nor Glaus. Bad Santa. No points for effort on this test.

The White Wail. Johnny Damon departs for more scratch and less hair. The doubloons will simply go elsewhere. You don't lose Damon, you gain dollars for dealing. As for the Renteria trade, is Marte the best Braves' prospect on merit or on residue, as they promoted what seems like scores of players last year? Loretta and Lowell should more than replace Graffanino and Mueller, especially when Graffanino appears to be staying. If they go with Cora, they could 'redeploy' the cash for other purposes, focusing their best deal to get a centerfielder.

Studying hard? If they feel compelled to get Julio Lugo and Joey Gathright, then presume that Tampa will try to savage the best of the organization. Dumping Manny for Milledge and Met dreck won't get it done from a public relations standpoint, although the Sox haven't put PR ahead of action. Trading Jon Lester for anything less than star potential would smack of desperation not perspiration.

Amidst the non-tendered free agents, Eric Byrnes could be bonafide depth at outfield. Travis Lee has arbitration options, but let's face it, he's not that great. Preston Wilson strikes out a lot (a lot) but has pop in center. Grade - Incomplete.

So once again, we're left to reflect on the dichotomy between who the Red Sox say they are, and what they have done. From a business operations side, they are a smoothly running cash machine. From a baseball operations standpoint, their vision stands disputable, amidst a solid core of Varitek and Ortiz, previously productive players with injury history (Nixon, Lowell, Loretta), the Mystery Middle, and the Limbo League of Ramirez, Wells, Arroyo, Clement and who knows how many more. The top line deserves high praise, the bottom line, winning baseball games, remains with as many suspects as prospects.

Red Sox fans ask the same question as Butch and Sundance in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, "who are those guys?," both in the front office and on the field.

I'm Sorry, So Sorry

(BOSTON) Angry Larry Lucchino supporters surrounded the home of insignificant physician, Ron Sen, waving placards "Chill Out, Jerk" and "Sox to Rule Again Soon"

Aerial photograph of crowd protesting Anti-Lucchino journalism (click photo to enlarge)

Okay, I'm sorry. Mr. Lucchino, please forgive me, and for gawd's sake, call off the dogs. It's tough enough to get into my driveway between the ice and snow, without 50,000 Larryphiles obstructing my 1995 Nissan. Okay, I'll never question your judgement about tossing that pipsqueak ingrate out, or consolidating your rule by installing underlings, and yes, I accept the fact that even with the inherent fairness of a virtual waiting room, that I'll never live long enough to sit in the Green Monster seats.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. Yessiree, I've done you wrong. After all, I have nothing but admiration for your boss, Mr. Henry, trader extraordinaire. If he had a book on trading, I'd own it. Your intellectual purity, demanding that Mr. Epstein defend his every action before you, guaranteed that the Boy Wonder could do no wrong. After all, with your oversight, imprimatur, and decision analysis skills, what better situation could exist?
I mean, President and CEO, golly gee, wow, that really IS impressive, conjuring up the image of Mr. Spock playing three-dimensional chess. Of course, Spock only had to worry about pawns, knights, bishops, rooks, queens, and kings, six positions. And, the Red Sox worry about pitchers, catchers, DH, second and third base, and right field. Of course, I'm omitting shortstop, centerfield, and first base. And maybe left field. Is Manny out in left field? I mean, we know that the Sox aren't out in left field. Absolutely not, they've got it handled, it's just they've applied their 'cloaking device' to cleverly disguise their intent from their competitors. Brilliant! Kudos!

Running a baseball team is pretty tough. After all, you have stringent payroll constraints, limited revenues, problems generating ancillary cash flow (like Red Sox gear, DVD sales, broadcasting rights), and the restrictive covenants imposed by major league baseball such as drug enforcement.

And maintaining fan loyalty? Nearly impossible. Day-to-day almost nothing reminds me about the Sox. In the family room, there's only Wally and All-Star Wally, Wally's chair, the Fever Pitch DVD, Bill James' Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame, Neyer-James Guide to Pitchers, The New Bill James, My Turn At Bat, and Total Baseball. Turn the corner and there's my Dirt Dogs hat, Red Sox winter hat, Red Sox caps, Nomar 5 hat, and move upstairs for a collection of Red Sox t-shirts and sweatshirts. Oh, and I forgot, just behind me is James' Win Shares, and that autographed Roger Clemens baseball.

Plus you have all the headaches inherent in an industry with a lot of competition. During the early baseball season, you have to go up against the NBA, famous for its fantastic team play, and the National Hockey League, which leaves everyone practically speechless.

Let's face it, when the Red Sox win, everyone in the area has a little more spring in their step, their food tastes better, and people are just happier. You said it yourself, “Clearly, this study demonstrates that the Red Sox winning is good for the health of western civilization.” I couldn't agree more. As Warren Buffett would say, "may you live until Berkshire Hathaway splits." Keep up the good work, and please pass the Kool-Aid.

Your Cheatin' Heart

I had a conversation today with a former Red Sox who happened to be visiting. He had a few insights which I thought you might like to hear.

First, he said that he played with a player who was terrific at stealing signs, especially from second base. He said that the player would kick the bag if he had the signals, and then look to the right for a fastball and to the left for a breaking pitch.

Second, he said that it was his opinion that the Sox would go hard after Millwood. He also thought that Glaus would look pretty good in the Sox lineup, although he had no idea whether that was feasible.

Finally, he noted that although Canseco took a lot of grief about his steroid allegations, that it looked like he might have been a lot closer to the truth than was widely accepted.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Diamond Thoughts

First, for anyone who bothers to come here, you must read Bill Simmons at
Now that's off my chest, so we can move on.

Who's actually in charge? Oh yeah, that would be the Overlord - TheoSlayer, with Ben and Jed mixing the drinks, running some spreadsheet projections, and reading Sox fans suggestions that they trade Matt Clement for Johan Santana and throw in some cash. Thus far, with roughly seven weeks to go before Spring Training, the Sox remind me of the old joke, "what's the difference between the Boy Scouts and the Navy?" Adult leadership.

Obviously, there is no established (read overpaid) shortstop (I'm really okay with Alex Cora), no centerfielder (please do not suggest Trot Nixon), and no first baseman. J.T. Snow? Why don't we get Willie McCovey? A .709 OPS in a declining 37 year-old glove man smacks of one theme only, "economy."

A few points are in order. The presumptive rotation is Schilling, Beckett, Papelbon, Wakefield, and Arroyo, pending any other acquisitions and/or departures. Trading Lester is a no-no, but Leisure Suit Larry seems bent on screwing up the entire team, so it could still happen. As for Wells ('leave' or 'retire') or Clement (persona non grata after getting hit in the head), the market doesn't seem that keen. On Wall Street, the smartest guys buy cheap and sell dear, and John Henry knows that. Maybe he's more focused on platinum and soybeans than baseball.

The Sox are now well-stocked at reserve catcher, with Flaherty, Huckaby, and Shoppach. Aren't you comforted by that? If anyone gets their fingers broken by Tim Wakefield, we'll easily fill the position with a good-field no-hit guy. Of course, the sense is that the Sox have 'plenty of offense' so now they can have defensive players at first, shortstop, and centerfield. Last time I checked, Trot Nixon wasn't playing like Stan Musial, and Mike Lowell barely hit Ortiz' weight. So the offense comes from Ortiz, Manny (oh, they're trying to trade him), the Time Machine versions of Loretta and Lowell, and maybe first half of the season Varitek.

Maybe the master plan exists, the vision remains, and 2006 and beyond will reveal the Yellow Brick Road. But don't you wonder if the man with the vision has left and the pretenders remain?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Damon and Pity Us

Now she found herself in the fast lane livin’ day to day
Turned her back on her best friends, yeah
And let her family slip away
Just like a lost soul
Caught up in the hollywood scene
All the parties and the limousines
Such a good actress hiding all her pain
Trading her memories for fortune and fame
Just a step away from the edge of a fall
Caught between heaven and hell
Where’s the girl I knew a year ago
--Fallen Angel, from Poison

I don't have a problem with Damon taking the most money, whether it's from the hated Yankees, the Red Sox, the Orioles, or the Hanshin Tigers. What irritates me, and probably much of Red Sox Nation is Damon dissembling the love of money under the cloak of lack of respect or commitment from the Red Sox.

Johnny Damon becomes one of the highest paid baseball players on the planet. Perhaps he grew up dirt poor, or had to drive a cab in the summer as a teenager, or sweat under the hot sun doing construction. In other words, he had to work for a living like the rest of us. So he took a better job for more dough. Where's the beef?

As usual, players lack either the dignity or the candor to disclose the bald-faced truth, nothing substitutes for a fat paycheck. Like Pedro Martinez, Damon departs for more cash with less dignity.

Trashing the organization on the way out the door becomes the standard, not the exception. Damon revealed himself to be something less than a paragon of virtue, and while we celebrate him as a ballplayer, we can hardly recommend him as a sportsman. If the organization needs to be vilified, leave that to us.

Professional athletes don't have to be role models. They don't have to take the hometown discount, but maybe occasionally, rarely, they could reveal the unfettered truth, "I took the highest offer," or "the money mattered most" rather than the drivel we always hear about respect, communication, or the dog ate my homework excuses.

Sure Sox fans can contrive excuses "marry a high maintenance woman and you'll end up selling your soul to the devil," "management fell asleep at the switch," or "being a Red Sox fan has always resembled Greek tragedy." Even free agency has its costs, as sports reveals not only characters but character. We can debate Johnny Damon's worth to either the pecuniary pinstripers or the Red Sox ad nauseam, but we hold certain truths to be self-evident, it was all about the money.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Where's Johnny?

Nominees for the Best 'Johnny' Award in a Deserting Role


Johnny Paycheck
Johnny B Gone
Johnny Angel - Not!
Johnny Legend (in his own mind)
Chances Are (Johnny Matthis)


The real Johnny Cash

Pop culture:

Johnny Quest


Johnny Nomad


Long John Gold?


Johnny Schlep


Johnny Divide-us meet Johnny Unitas

Good Johnny-Bad Johnny?


And the winner: Johnny Paycheck...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

One More Idiot In New York

Maybe it's premature to be thinking about uttering the 'last word' on the Damon defection. But that never stopped me before.

The structure of Major League Baseball not only permits but encourages free agency, allowing all players an opportunity to strike it rich, but incentivizing agents to 'pave the road' for their own enrichment. Johnny Damon, like the Red Sox and the Yankees made a business decision, one that was best for him. As I wrote earlier, while taking a 'hometown discount' is attractive to us, it wasn't to him. It's all about the Benjamins.

There was an article recently in the Boston Globe about long waits for doctors' appointments. Why is that? Simply, the compensation structure for Massachusetts physicians, added to new physicians' debt (educational), practice costs, and area housing costs make attracting physicians from outside Massachusetts difficult. Massachusetts cannot compete with the south and parts of the midwest. I know physicians and surgeons unable to attract qualified applicants for years. Over a third of Massachusetts physicians are over 55 years old, long in the tooth by medical standards. Do the math.

The Red Sox weighed the potential productivity from Damon both offensively and defensively, factoring in age and likely statistical trends, and decided that they weren't going to 'call' the Yankees. Although Sox management isn't sending me any cards, I share their analysis going forward about the length and terms of the contract. Regardless of whether the Overlord or his Co-conspirators were aware of the Yankees, bid, the price was simply too high.

In the aftermath of Damon's departure, why plan to trade your historically most productive offensive player, Manny Ramirez? Reportedly, TheoSlayer announced the Sox intention to do just that.

Of course, Damon is barely at the fringes of paycheck frenzy in Metropolis, earning more than Posada, Williams, and Cano, but far less than A-Rod, Jeter, the Juice Guys-Giambi and Sheffield, and about the same as Matsui.

So, we can hope for biblical fulfillment with a Samson and Delilah story, or the inevitable public dismay at Johnny's Achilles' heel, his anemic throwing, or just have to content ourselves with the analogy to Will Rogers' noting that when the Okies moved to California they raised the IQ in two states. So, let's accept that New York has one more idiot and hope that the front office has better plans than trading Manny Ramirez. Just a reminder, not one word like in The Graduate, "strength up the middle". Oh yeah, and an organization, like a fish, rots from the head.

WWJDD (Where would Johnny Damon Defect)

Johnny Quest's journey is complete as he lands in Gotham for Megabucks, another mercenary looking for a star in front of Chinese theaters.

Characterizing Damon's choice as purely that of a gold digger or miscreant trivializes the process. According to reports, Damon got an extra 12 million bucks, not bad for a player at an age where skills traditionally atrophy, plagued by minor injuries, and who throws 'like a girl' (no insult meant to my daughters).

If we could magically get 'bubble quotes' those little quotes over the head in a bubble, what would the principals say?

George Steinbrenner: "Bleep you, Larry."

Larry Lucchino: "Excedrin with my coffee, Jed and Ben."

John Henry: "We made decisions through careful financial evaluation and trend analysis, same as we would do in any of our businesses. We wish Mr. Damon well in his future endeavors."

Manny Ramirez: "Johnny who?"

Terry Francona: "We have to worry about the guys who are here, not the guys who aren't. We'll all miss JD."

Kevin Millar: "Drinks on the house."

Damon's mother: "If he didn't take the money, I'd slap that boy upside the head. I didn't raise a fool for a son."

Curt Schilling: "If they don't like it, hit them with your wallet, Johnny."

Scott Boras: "A lot easier than working for a living. Writing best sellers for thirty something ballplayers never paid so well."

Johnny Damon: "Yahoo, yippee. Shave my beard? What? Cut my hair? What? Scott, you said that you had that clause in the contract."

If anybody wants to pay me an extra 12 million bucks for the next four years, you know where to find me. Scott, Scott,!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

See No Evil

"See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." That might not work for the "Check".

As the Stooges might say, "if at first you don't succeed, then keep on sucking until you do suck seed." Let's review where we are concerning the question marks.

The Sox needn't be desperate at shortstop, with at least the possibility of an Alex Cora/Dustin Pedroia platoon. Pedroia can't be any worse at shortstop than David Eckstein, and half the world is ga-ga over the diminutive ex-Sox prospect. I'm not in that half. Cora was decent defensively and played heads-up baseball, which isn't necessarily a Sox staple. Pedroia injured his hand and became persona non grata.

At first base, Kevin Youkilis is rumored to be asking, "what do I have to do?" Is Bill Lajoie part of the group that's overly concerned about Youkilis not looking like Gabe Kapler? Kapler, a good guy, is a career .330/.421/.751 guy in 2544 plate appearances. Youk is .376/.411/.787 in 343 plate appearances. Admittedly, not a large sample size or great power numbers for a corner infielder, but he hasn't gotten a chance to fail. Contrast Jeremy Reed of Seattle who is .338/.364/.702 with 15 stolen bases and 12 caught stealings in two years and 610 plate appearances. Finding a backup defensive first baseman shouldn't be a tenth as hard as, let's say, finding a competent general manager.

Nomar Garciaparra won't be walking back in that door either, joining Red Sox exiles Grady Little, Derek (THE derrick) Lowe, and Bill Mueller in Dodgerland. If Nomar got six EXTRA LARGE plus incentives, then his agent did well for a guy who has spent most of his roster time on the DL in the past few seasons. Is Nomar a Hall-of-Famer? On the site, Nomar has black ink stats of 15 (compare average Hall-of-Famer 27) and grey ink stats of 78 (HOF average 144), but HOF batting stats of 43.7 (average HOF 50) and HOF monitor of 115 (average HOF 100) so he's on the cusp of greatness. Let's hope that Nomar doesn't do the toe-tapping tic at first base.

The Manny Ramirez watch simply shouldn't be happening. Yes, Manny may be a rock in the shoe for certain Red Sox executives, but if one frames the Ramirez-Ortiz numbers as dependent not independent variables, then you don't vote Manny off the island.

Finally, there's the WWJDD matter (what will Johnny Damon do?). Damon is what he is, a run-scoring machine (910 in eight years) who works pitch counts, with net below average defensive skills. He has better-than average range, but his arm makes Jose Tartabull look like Jesse Barfield. I think Damon will come back, because his market isn't as big as his wallet is.

So the lineup I project will look something like this:

CF Damon
2B Loretta
DH Ortiz
LF Ramirez
3B Lowell
C Varitek
RF Nixon
1B Youkilis
SS Cora/Pedroia

SP Schilling, Beckett, Wakefield, Papelbon, Arroyo/Clement
RP Fouke, Timlin, Hansen, Delcarmen, Bradford, LOOGY to be determined (probably not Lester)

The Sox 'turmoil' has more to do with the need to stay in the news than the need to do something newsworthy. It's just that simple.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Puppetmaster

Who's pulling the strings at Fenway? First and foremost, John Henry, one of the four hundred richest men on the planet, is a businessman. That's not criticism, or meant solely as fact, but as a compliment. Of course, Henry can't be micromanaging every business decision, any more than he can make every trade for his investment empire. Success at the top means setting goals, with not only a vision and a plan, and hiring the right people to execute your plan.

All of which brings us to the state of management. We have every reason to believe that the Hoyers and Cheringtons of the organization will continue to point the Sox in the right direction. The question is, who establishes the philosophy, the direction, the priorities, the budget, and surveys the constantly changing landscape that is baseball?

As a fan, I have great confidence in the CEO's ability to create an improving (albeit antiquated and expensive) physical plant, to establish business operations priorities, to expand Red Sox revenues, and run the business side of the operation adroitly. His baseball playing resume' aside, I lack the same confidence in his legerdemain concerning baseball operations. Dirty Larry has shown us his dark side in the execution of critical negotiations for GM. I don't necessarily agree with the Herald's article today about the search process. What independent, confident, and ahem, employed legitimate GM candidate will cede authority and control to the extent that we believe the CEO demands over baseball operations?

If you have the experience, the vision, the talent, and the eye of the GM, are you going to accept training wheels for decision-making? I'm not talking about budgetary review, fiduciary responsibility (the two most abused words in America), medical evaluations, and so on. What all of us desire is a capable GM who makes independent baseball judgements without the need for the imprimatur of the Prince.

Maybe the Sox have it all under control. But it sure doesn't look like it from here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Reformation of Character

In the 'worst kept secret of the millenium' the Red Sox announced that Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington would serve as co-General Managers. Will they alternate day by day, day and night, week by week, month by month, decision by decision? Decisions, decisions.

Emperor for Life 'Theoslayer' served as ringmaster for the circus that defines Red Sox management. The Overlord didn't have any specific announcements pertaining to his plan to raise Master Theo from the Baseball Dead.

Is it time to let up on the Sox management for their inept negotiations with their former GM? I don't know. If we don't do it, who will? Surely, the everyday crowd feeding at the Red Sox trough can't be expected to provide the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So should we?

The Sox point to their accomplishments, the unvarnished beauty of the (less than unanimous) Beckett deal, not so young Loretta, Marte departing from Atlanta, and surely a catcher named Huckleberry Hound. On the other hand, skeptics say, what about Manny, what about the defense with no shortstop and no centerfielder?

Darth Leader has accomplished wonders rebuilding "America's Most Beloved Ballpark, the Cash Star, boldly adding seats where no man (or woman) has gone before. And according to his boss, he is 'the best CEO in baseball'. Of course, it has been said about baseball that it is such a great game that it can survive the people who run it. Pass me some Kool-Aid.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

LucchiNero Fiddles; Does Home Burn?

LucchiNero Fiddles, Does Home Burn?

If Larry LucchiNero sees his shadow, do we have six more weeks of baseball ‘winter’ of discontent? The Sox President, CEO, and Personnel uber-czar emerged from the Yawkey Way bunker to announce the Red Sox would restructure, that they are working hard, and yes, he did take a hit for the team.

Nobody can say the Red Sox haven’t acted this offseason, with the ‘disrespect’ of former GM, Brookline homeboy Theo Epstein, renovation of the 406 Club (people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?), relocation of Edgar Renteria, and shopping spree in Florida.

So, let’s ask the key questions for 2006. The answers are more obvious than you think.

Will Red Sox Nation forgive the ‘Overlord’ for dispatching neo-icon Theo? He Who Must No Longer Be Named quickly pointed out that ticket sales already exceeded those following that Championship Season. Money talks.

Who’s in charge? With Alexander Haig nowhere in sight, there’s no doubt that ‘Dirty Larry’ has consolidated his power, dispensing consulting tasks to the serfs occupying the basement. Jim Beattie? Who’s zooming whom?

Is Manny coming or going? The inevitable breakdown of baseball’s total control evolved to free agency and now ‘hide and go seek’ your own deal. The Sox have 57 million reasons to make Manny stay, and Manny’s alternatives largely include ‘pounding sand’, holding his breath, and stamping his feet. Is the Ramirez household going to forfeit 57 million bucks? Manny might be Manny, but he’s not crazy. Will Manny be back? I doubt it. Will the Sox get equal value for a first ballot Hall of Famer in his prime? Almost certainly not.

What would Johnny Damon do? Damon has the leverage of being ‘free’, but as they say in Detroit, “if you want economy, you’ll have to pay for it.” You might be the best looking car on the block, but if the shoppers aren’t buying, then you have to lower your sights. JD won’t go hungry, he won’t get Jody Reeded, and I doubt that Gold-in-Locks will be shaving for Gotham next year.

Who’s catching Wakefield? You’d think Wakefield’s knuckler was bird flu, the way people talk about it. This is a problem, just smaller than the Federal deficit, or the Overlord’s ego.

Who plays shortstop? Tejada, si? I don’t think the Orioles are in a hurry to make the Sox’ headache their headache. There must be a law saying the Red Sox must overpay for players at every position. That would explain why Kevin Youkilis rides the pine, why Alex Cora isn’t even considered a viable replacement, and Dustin Pedroia’s injured hand moved him from prospect to suspect. Maybe if Scott Boras can assemble some more reading material for the Sox, they’ll be able to find a suitable and expensive replacement.

Sure it’s easier to ask questions than to deliver answers. But ‘who do you trust, baby?’, Theo or The Man Who Would Be King?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Source's Apprentice

So, is Dan Shaughnessy trying to plug the leaks from the past, with rumors about Theo returning to the organization. Admittedly, abandoning to the Red Sox is nigh impossible, as once it's in the blood, it's something like varicella (chickenpox), that can return to bite you, with the pain of zoster (shingles).

Speaking of pain, is the Emperor LucchiNero about to break his silence? The Sox appear likely to unleash the two headed Janus CEO or Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington, as after all, if it doesn't work out, someone needs to be responsible. The Diamond Jims, Beattie and Bowden are at least as popular as the proverbial "peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a banquet" (was that a Larry Johnson original?).

I'm fond of the saying that 'anything can happen in the stock market', which has a corollary, 'anything can happen in baseball'. Grady Little comes back from the 7th level (or eighth inning) of baseball hell, resurfacing as Dodgers' skipper. Little is supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread as an infield coach, but has a special place in Red Sox ignominy for his managerial deferral to star players (see Pedro Martinez).

Will Miguel Tejada wind up in Boston, and Manny Ramirez exit via a third or fourth destination, with something else winding up in Baltimore?

Maybe the home uniforms WILL have names on the back next season.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Changing Our Sox and Other Musings

"No progress occurs without change, but not all change is progress." - John Wooden

It would be premature to judge the Red Sox Winter Meeting moves, as trades take time to play out. Sometimes inaction reigns as the best choice, but one thing remains sure: "failure is an orphan but success has many fathers." Should the Sox roster shuffling work, who will take credit, and should it fail, who's the fall guy?

The Red Sox Beckett dilemma reminds me of the wisdom of a greybeard, "is the patient well and worried, or sick and worried?"

My boss is unfair and not that bright. That's always been the problem with being self-employed.

The Celtics haven't beaten San Antonio since January 1997. That streak looks to be continuing.

At least trading Joe Thornton to San Jose made the Sharks better.

Edgar Renteria was the Sox shortstop of the future, but he was blocking the path of Hanley Ramirez, the Sox shortstop of the future. Who is the Red Sox shortstop of the future?

Strength up the middle, rules in checkers, chess, basketball, football, hockey, and baseball. Jason Varitek, no-name shortstop, and no-name centerfielder. Larry must have been out of GM school that day. But he is the "best CEO in baseball." Nothing exceeds having the confidence of your owner.

Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant, paid cash, and seen them ring it up? I almost always pay cash in Chinese restaurants, because I know that if I live long enough, I'll see somebody ring it up. Maybe. As Richard Russell would say, "have you ever seen a Chinese restaurant run by Chinese go bankrupt?"

It's impossible to appreciate the impact of Rodney Harrison until we experience his absence. He got less respect than Dangerfield.

Have you noticed anybody move better without the ball than Richard Hamilton? He's the basketball reincarnation of John Havlicek.

They say Secretariat had a heart fifty percent larger than other horses'. In other words, he had more horsepower.

Will Roger Clemens really hang 'em up this year? So the Sox blew it by not resigning him, but Mo Vaughn didn't earn his money in free agency, did he?

Do the Red Sox lead the league in paramours, or is the news media just digging harder here? Do the Red Sox have any 'secrets' that are actually secrets.

Nancy Kerrigan's agent wasn't content with 10%; he married her and got 100%.

Did Dustin Pedroia do something to tick someone off? The only person not mentioned to play second for the Sox next year was Nellie Fox. Maybe Pedroia will play shortstop.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Charge Account

The Red Sox are considering a new patch for their 2006 uniforms.

Not to be outdone by Abbott and Costello, the Sox are taking the 'Who's on First?' routine to the next level. Trade rumors fly like Icarus to the sun, and as Sox fans, we don't even know whom to ask, because no one's really in charge (except his LuccHoliness, of course).

Ok, Jason Varitek's going to be the catcher, and maybe Mirabelli's the backup, unless he's going to San Diego for Loretta or Dave Roberts or unnamed relief. In which case, Kelly (no-hit) Shoppach becomes the backup, unless he's gone in the Renteria to the Braves for Lugo via Tampa Bay and other fungible moving parts.

At first base, it won't be John Olerud who's retiring. It could be Troy Glaus, if he moves to first if Manny's not traded, or we don't get Aubrey Huff (are we trying to get an entirely left-handed hitting lineup?). J.T. Snow is rumored to be coming to Boston (Snow in Boston, haha, big laughs). And what about Lyle Overbay, he of the Milwaukees? He's got a Fenway swing and the Brewers want our extra pitching.

At second, we either have Dustin Pedroia, or Alex Cora (or is it Joey), or Graffanino resigns, or Loretta, or maybe Grudzielanek, and Orlando Hudson can be had for the right price, too.

Edgar Renteria's our man at shortstop, unless it's Lugo, or maybe Pedroia as a fallback position. Or maybe O-Cab is catching a ride back east in the Manny deal, which leaves us without a left fielder.

Mike Lowell has the default option at third base, and as far as we know it's not Bill Mueller's time any more. Will it ever be Kevin Youkilis' time? Maybe, as Lowell could be 'flipped', as in 'trading cards'.

Manny's still the left fielder, unless he gets dealt, particularly to the Angels, who give us Erstad, while Arizona sends Troy Glaus here. Of course, if Manny goes to Texas, then we get Soriano and his strikeouts and subpar defense, but speed and power, and growing salary.

In center, we have...nobody. If Furcal gets 39 million, then WWJDD (what would Johnny Damon Demand). Scott Boras won't even talk about a hometown discount, because Scott is Mr. Bottom Line. Good for you, Scott, you greedy buzzard. Of course, we could still get Dave Roberts back.

In right, we have, maybe Nixon, unless he's moving parts for Mark Redman. Isn't Redman like, a Twin castoff, who probably got guys out in the NL who he wouldn't face in the AL? Of course, if Nixon and Clement could bring Bobby Abreu, well, then 'pigs fly, too'.

For 'sure', we have Schilling (injury), Wakefield, Beckett (is he really healthy?), and Papelbon. Make new friends but keep the old. We don't know if Clement, Arroyo, Wells, or Miller are moving parts either. The Sox have Foulke, Mota, Timlin, Hansen, DelCarmen, and Bradford, among others to work out of the pen.

About all we know is that Roger Clemens won't be walking back in that door again, or Theo Epstein. Or will they? Who's in charge here, anyway?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

What's in a Name?

BOSTON -- In their constant quest to add depth to the bullpen, the Red Sox on Thursday acquired right-hander Jermaine Van Buren from the Cubs for a player to be named later or cash.

What's in a name? Apparently, the Red Sox have devised a new strategy to rebuild their troubled franchise. The Sox have gone 'Presidential' acquiring Jermaine Van Buren, to supplement their other Presidential resident, Trot Nixon.

What are the possibilities here? Neither Terry Adams (Philadelphia) or Russ Adams (Toronto) merit consideration. Milwaukee's Mike Adams (ERA 2.70) definitely deserves some effort. Homer Bush didn't see action in 2004 and David Bush looked 'Bush league' against the Sox in 2005.

Of the Carters, unfortunately the best, Gary (Hall of Fame) and Joe (memorable World Series home run) are long gone, and Lance Carter (was he the D-Ray headhunter?) leaves much to be desired. The Sox have gone the Cleveland (Reggie) and Clinton (Lou) routes in the past in their once fruitless quests for the brass ring. Joe Kennedy had his moments with Oakland, once they rescued him from Colorado. With just 7 homers in 2005, former Sox farmhand Lew Ford could be out there. Of course, we hear the Sox have far more interested in a Torii (Hunter) than Democrats or Republicans.

Among the Jackson clan, forget about Edwin (Dodgers) or Damian, especially if we're trying to reduce Johnny Damon's headaches. Conor Jackson is another story, a power-hitting prospect first baseman from the Diamondbacks. Plus, we have lots of connections in Arizona, as the quislings defect from the defunct Bosox bargain basement baseball barracks. There's always a Johnson out there, and the best of the Johnsons out there is Nats first basemen Nick. As for the rest of the Johnsons, the most interesting might be Florida's Josh Johnson, but we've got our limit on Joshes already. We could certainly do worse than acquiring Sox nemesis Ted Roosevelt Lilly, but never mention John Truman Wasdin.

We might need outfielders if the Sox fulfill Manny's wishes, and Craig Monroe slammed 20 homers, 89 RBI and had a .446 slugging percentage in spacious Comerica Park. Don't even think about Reggie Taylor. Craig and Jack Wilson may have peaked with the Pirates, although nobody's going to make us forget about Earl Wilson who had a no-hitter for the Sox and won 20 games for the Tigers. Preston Wilson has pop in his bat but lots of holes in his strike zone, and for gawd's sake, let's try not to remember Mookie Wilson.

Well, the Sox don't have time to ponder all the presidential aspirants, especially when they're trying to find the right caliber general manager. Of course, they wouldn't have this problem if they hadn't found the right caliber to finish off former GM Theo Epstein.