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The Nation

Sox Seasonal Scorecard

9.12.02:  WELCOME BACK!   (ERA / WHIP) - Career Direction

Martinez  (2.22 / .90) STEADY - Still one of Elite Five

Lowe  (2.38 / .96) UP - The #2 we've been looking for

Wakefield (2.97 / 1.07) UP - Best W/K ever. Low HRs. Best yr. since '95

Fossum (3.09 / 1.30) UP - Blossoming from LR to SP was well-handled.

Embree (2.77 / .88) UP - Monstrous Season. Can he repeat it?


Oliver (4.66 / 1.67) GONE - Arguably as good as Castillo...

Castillo (5.28 / 1.45) BYE - 48 GS (01-02) but OBA went from .220 ('99) to .280 ('01)

Arrojo (4.83 / 1.36)  C-YA - Effectively early in relief. Shoulda stayed there.

Hermanson (7.63 / 2.09) #$%&#$ - What it'd be like to lose your wallet, if it had $7M in it.


Burkett (4.86 / 1.52 ) SCHIZO - 2.57 / 6.97 Home/Away ERA; 3.80/6.34 Pre/Post AS Break

Howry (5.27 / 1.24) ? - Verdict still out. 4.20 ERA overall.

Urbina (3.24 / 1.20) TOO $$$ - 31 for 36 in SVO - Effective, but worth $7-8M???

Haney (4.20 / 1.40) REPLACEABLE - .817 OPS vs. L, .719 vs. R (for a lefty?)

Gomes (4.40 / 1.40) & Banks (3.98 / 1.39) DITTO


Ramirez (1.04 OPS, .608 SLG, .783 Slg/.604 OBP in SC POS) STEADY - Doesn't hustle, Injury-prone. But he HITS.

Damon (.290/.361/.440) STEADY - Not as good as last two yrs in KC, but fighting injury last two months

Hillenbrand (.306/.340/.477) UP - Since AS Break - striking out less, improved BA by 20 pts., but only 4 HRs

Garciaparra (.309/.349/.522) DOWN - Worst yr. since Rookie in category incl. P/PA, G/FB went from 1.10 career to 0.73

Floyd (.306/356//565) STEADY - Despite SC POS batting woes, has been good hitter. Would be ideal 1B candidate.

Merloni (.266/.346/.428) UP - Face it, he's outplayed Sanchez 


Baerga (.304/.337/.410) BACK - Good spirit, Good PH, I'd bring him back despite defensive liability

Daubach (.263/.341/.464) WYSIWYG - Numbers mirror his career; 224 of 586 outs Ks last 2 yrs.

Nixon (.257/.336/.476) DOWN - All Numbers are off, has hit .200 Aug/Sept. when Sox needed him most

Henderson (.233/.370/.366) MIXED - Does one thing well, and defense in left was atrocious. More 25th man than 4th OF

Mirabelli (.208/.286/.392) EXPCTD - Who waited for Little to use Mirabellia vs. L ( .323/.417/.724) instead of 'Tek (.255/.313/.382)


Sanchez (.289/.315/.349) EXPCTD - Actually hit better than expected, w/Good D, as well as insurance for Nomar

Varitek (.266/.333/.390) ??? - Seemed ready to break out last year (.293/.371/.489), instead regressed to rookie yr. levels

Clark (.212/.265/.302) ZIPPO - Skills haven't gone South this fast since Shawn Kemp started using. At All-star game last yr.

Offy (.232/.325/.325) HAHAHA - Laughing all the way to the bank. A Tony Armas-quality investment.....


Agbayani - Kills Lefties, which would be useful, esp. with lefties Floyd, Damon & Nixon as our other OFs

F. Sanchez - Not likely to be any worse than the other Sanchez w/the bat, and he costs almost nothing

Jaun Pena - Pitched well at end of season, seemed finally to recover from arm surgery. Could be bullpen arm.

P. Crawford - Seems unlikely to regain form, struggled all year with injuries and recurrent back problems

J. Hancock - Not ready for prime time.

Youkilis- Double-A OBP machine, who will be in the Sox INF before you know it. Probably '04.


The starting staff is relatively set, due to Burkett's $5.5M contract and Fossum's late-season pitching. The team will likely pick up another arm or two, and could really use a #3, but that shouldn't be too hard to find. Wakefield is clearly a possibility, but his flexibility almost requires the team to try to get another starter, since Wakefield can be plugged in almost anywhere. Urbina's probably gone, which is something of a shame since Ohka has really come into his own this year. But I don't feel he's so hard to replace, it's just that there certainly isn't anyone on the farm. If the Sox resign Embree, they might simply pick up one more arm and go with a committee approach. However, Embree will command a nice price on the market this year and may exceed the Sox's budget. But he was probably the team's most effective second half reliever, so here's hoping they do. Overall, the pitching looks good, provided the team does what it must and gets a front-line starter, and at least one gas-pumping reliever. But looking at the Braves, it's apparent that the legions of washed-up starters are full of potential lights-out relievers.

 Hitting poses more problems. Arbitration cases such as Nixon, Daubach, and 'Tek failed to progress this year, and there's nothing in the minor leagues to replace them with so-called, replacement level players because the Sox farm is full of below-replacement level players. Still, were it not for Nixon's defense, his bat could be replaced. Floyd should be talked into playing first, if at all possible, (which he should agree to given his recent injury woes), with the $3M Daubach would make going toward his salary. The Sox should be able to find a 4th OF/DH somewhere. Not that they ever did this year, but you have to expect better choices than the team made this year. What moves other then cutting players or getting Embree and the two deadline deals, did Port actually make? Objectively, they need a corner outfielder, a backup catcher, a first basemen. These aren't hard positions to fill. But someone needs to take some action. Moves need to be made because holding this hand won't get it done.

 The core team has the potential to be great. We all know this. However, year after year, there are injuries (2001), glaring holes (Starting Pitching, 2000), or befuddling inconsistency (1918 to present). This year, half the starters put up thier worst batting performances in four years (Nixon, 'Tek, Garciaparra, first base). Obviously, that won't do. Comparing the talent, it's not appreciably worse than the Yankees, for all they spend. But execution is happening on thier side, and we can only wait for the execution of our current Sox team.


Where The Boys Are '02:

A Step Late, Hit Short, and Emotionally Bereft

9.9.02: As we look back, again, at this failed season, it’s apparent that the difference between winning and losing was very small. You know this without even looking at the one-run losses (23). We have one of the best run-differentials in the league yet have a middle of the pack record. This year has to have set a team record for 5+ run innings. When these guys hit, they can be dangerous. But for some reason they’ve hit only intermittently since May. It seems that this is a team that’s just short of the necessary fissionable material to sustain a chain reaction. Clearly the bullpen was a problem from day one, but no action was taken to shore up this unsightly mess until it was too late. The pick up of Embree was a nice move, but Little immediately worked him to death, since he knew he couldn’t trust anyone else back there. Another set-up man to work with Garces has always been the plan with the Sox, be it Rod Beck or Rheal Cormier.

But this year, Port, who’s been here and should know better left us short. We lose Lowe & Beck out of the bullpen and what do they do? Nothing. Frankly, the starting pitching isn’t much worse than anyone else. It would’ve been nice to get Weaver, but I don’t think it probably would’ve been worth it. The real problem, like anyone in Red Sox nation needs to be told this, is sinking 400 useless ABs into a position that is relatively easy to man effectively. I refuse to believe there isn’t another Daubach or Adam Hyzdu out there - a veteran minor leaguer with a little pop in need of a chance. In fact, why were we even playing Daubach in the outfield? Why? Because Manny got injured and the Sox didn’t think they needed to get another outfielder. But if they had, Daubach could’ve played first base, and this outfielder, say, Cliff Floyd, could pinch hit, sub and DH. Are the Sox trying to pass off that there wasn’t ONE player out there who could’ve done a better job of filling that position than Jose Clark? How about a right-handed outfielder (like Agbayani) who can also spell Nixon or Damon against tough lefthanders. And they give us Rickey. He’s useful, but the team needed another outfielder. Beyond the failure to act that cost us most of June against the national league, when we really needed another bat off the bench, there are some players who need to bare the brunt of the criticism.

First in line is Garciaparra. When he’s hit, we’ve clobbered people, but he’s one of the emptiest .300 hitters this year. And because he refuses to walk (Henderson has drawn more walks with a third of the ABs) he ends up not getting on base appreciably more often than Daubach, Nixon, Varitek, or Baerga. He’s probably still feeling the wrist injury, but whatever the situation, he’s been a good player this year, not the great one we expect. And then when you add in the surly distance, 22 errors, and a lack of catalyzing leadership, you wonder if Noamar is worth the big bucks in 2004.

I poo-poo the Ramirez critics. He leads the league in hitting with runners in scoring position and he’s got an OBP 80 pts higher than any other regular. What can he do when he's always leading off the inning? Sanchez does the little things, but he also barely breaks .320 in OBP. ‘Tek, Nixon and Daubs are not great players, and their inconsistency is galling, but they’re also relatively cheap, homegrown (more or less) talent, of which the Sox are dreadfully short. Damon’s second-half slide was tough, and cried out the need for another legitimate outfielder to spell him. Speaking of outfielders, Floyd’s comments about the clubhouse don’t bode well, but admittedly, any clubhouse is better when it wins. Blaming Little may be a little too convenient. Clearly the team lacks an individual of character to take the team upon his emotional shoulders. Ramirez and Nomar aren’t leaders. Nixon has the potential, but leaders get in people’s faces, and need to produce to back it up, and Nixon was pretty average for a corner outfielder. I don’t want Mo back, but the team needs someone who is willing to say something to anyone on the team about their play or conduct. The person who it might be, is Derek Lowe, in concert with ‘Tek. But they’re a little young just yet and prone to their own concentration lapses. But they do have the necessary honesty and fire.

In the end, this team did a lot of things well, but none of them were the little things. Still, I believe we could’ve won with them this year, had management been more proactive in solving their firstbase problem (in shades of 2000's 3rd base problem which festered through a similarly awful June & July - at least the Duke tried - he traded Tankersly for Sprague (who the following year hit .300 for Seattle).... oy vey!), and diagnosed the bullpen problem earlier. They say the difference between a .250 hitter and a .300 hitter is no more than one hit a week. This year that could’ve made all the difference. Then again, they’d probably have squandered it on a 15-4 victory.


Sox Spell Relief: H-A-R-A-K-I-R-I

8.21.02: Certain things are simply too taxing for words, such as explaining the reasoning behind your personal philosophy, discussing what is wrong with radio and television these days, or witnessing the Sox hit with runners on. How many cans of dog food must we produce before we stop waking up next to a dead horse? We can only assume they're using a gun because they damn sure can't do any damage with their bats. Grady still can't seem to figure out when to pull his starters. Before the 8th inning might be a good plan, but since Little's frightened to call any name but Alan, Bob or Oogie, you can understand a little of his predicament (and we certainly feel his pain every time he takes the ball from a starter). Of course, having been here, we've witnessed Jimy's daily faith in the bullpen and its plentiful returns, even when we had to keep bailing out Ramon in the 6th. The last couple months it was hard to help but wonder if Little's ambivalence toward using set up men in the 8th and possibly 7th and their subsequent rust was only exacerbating Little's crisis of faith. Well, buddy, we're right there with you. But doesn't it feel like the team must do SOMETHING? The Duke would've already dug up a couple stiffs and given them to Kerrigan to resurrect. Anything, one wishes, but Banks, Arroyo, Haney and Castillo - the four horsemen of the late inning Sox apocalypse. Little himself seems to be desperate as well, stepping quicker and more forcefully in using the pen after the Burkett fiasco on Sunday, and even resorting to a sac bunt to keep Varitek from hitting into a double play, but the fact remains Nixon, Baerga, Hillenbrand, Tek, Sanchez and Clark all had chances to bring in the Sox's third run with a single, and all failed to get a hit. Doesn't get a simpler than that. Nomar seems to have scuffled bad for the last six weeks, with only about a week of good hitting that promptly abandoned him. We need his doubles. We need Floyd to get an RBI other than with a solo homer. And we need to run off a serious win streak now because, frankly it's pretty unclear whether we'll be playing in two weeks, and at that point it won't matter how well rested the pen is. But rather than gnash our teeth, let's pull our hearts together and wish for one last burst of Sox brilliance lest the strike come and we decide we're better off without the heartbreak of the Sox in July and August.


Friday August 16, 2002

Some thoughts before the next wave (of nausea)


I am joining the Twins game in progress, as has been my late custom in an attempt to break the bad ju-ju around the Sox. (And anyone who has not done something like this is not a dedicated Sox fan in my opinion.) Sidenote: I have already sworn off televised games after watching the ninth-inning Haney/Urbina meltdown, and the other the utter PASTING the Rangers put on us. I made it through the fifth inning by increasing the pace of the alcohol consumption, but was still far too sober though the entire second inning.

Of course, last night it was clear no matter where you came in, it was the same old sox. As I indicated, Floyd again was frustrated with a man  in scoring position, striking out. At least Grady got 'Tek out of the six hole. I was enthused with Nixon, no less for the fact that he went the other way with the lefty, which is what he needs to do in Fenway as well. But, and I am not the first, but Garciapara with a pop out. Nomar seems intent on pulling everything and it's driving me to distraction. Judging from the increased power during this period, I think he is making some kind of adjustment and it's a work in progress. I am still amazed this man won a batting crown, as a righty - an impossible feat, and his wrist was screwed up the entire year. So, I am going to bet it's sore, and he'd tell us that's how it's going to be, at least he's popping the ball, right?

Random effusia - Manny. Well, I guess you could say he's just a dumb blonde sometimes. Castillo with an encouraging outing. I still would still keep the proverbial bullet in the chamber when he's pitching. Willie Banks almost inspires more confidence. Almost Grady. Almost. Whoa, boy. But all in all, I kept thinking to those dog-days of June, when there would be long stretches of six men retired. We subsisted entirely of making a big inning and putting 4-7 runs on the board in that one inning. It seems almost as though, confronted with this new bounty, the team has gotten a little over-anxious. My gosh, isn't it a sox season when before August is out, you're counting 5-6 games swung by the balance of a play. Now that's happened in the last three weeks.

In the end, I was happy because 'Tek got on, and Damon came up with a man in scoring position, and so did Nomar. They didn't produce, but it happens. You keep holding your finger to the air wondering if they have a 7-8 game streak in them or if they're really this .500 team staring you in the mirror. Of course, a dash of Pedro is always good for what ails you. Gosh, remember when it was only him? Now we have Lowe and, well.... and least they have Lowe. Remember 'ole 5-inning Ramon and the rest of the reconstructed crew? Give ole' Dan Duquette some credit, he lined up a team that received nothing from its minors and the barest thing until the last week, and they've been great. Even after Duke eschewed his practice of salvaging arms, and actually got a guy who can throw some gas. Of course, Hermanson we hardly know ye. Pena? God he looked good for two weeks in May. Down with an injury. Ole' No-Hit Paxton Crawford, who fell on a glass after pitching a no=-hitter? He's on the DL again. Of Course, if Duke were here, he'd have resurrected a couple bodies, given them a rouge and sent them into the pen. Heck, if Kerrigan were there they'd somehow work. I still believe Garces was a key figure in this Vodoo. But you knew that Port had blown the whistle on teh whole shenanigans when Garces didn't get his extension, but don't get me started on the old black magic.... just gimme a taste, and a 6-game winning streak...

With last night's big victory, the tide is out again on that angry, self-flagellation that is Red Sox fandom. And so, while we're waiting to exhale once again (and that's no mistake - any sox fan can check their interior barometrics and tell you they haven't opened a series with a while (six tries), if not the exact number. So as we await the verdict, in prelude to a Petey outing, that haunting thought, wow, if they win today, and Pedro's pitching tomorrow, my God, we could have a three game winning streak. Sox Logic: Well, they'll obviously lose tonight. (Internal barometric says - No 3-game winning streaks in more than a month.) But as we still have yet another dawning of hope (remember coming home to Texas, having clubbed a dozen homers, only to turn out a barely more than half that number of runs against the Athletics?), it's time to take a look at the situation before our Hyde side re-awakes

The Hitting

This is clearly the good news. The team has suddenly come alive with the long ball slugging 50 in the 33 games since the break. During that time, Nixon (.606) has slugged like Ramirez (.619) and Nomar (.596), giving the team real punch, and helping the team to an OPS (.839) equal to that of the Yankees in the first half (.835). During this time they've also out-homered the Yanks 50-44. Trot has really showed himself to be a second half player the last couple years. Every one has pitched in, with the exception of Rey Sanchez, and given Merloni's hot bat (9-28 since the break, 6 of them for extra-bases), we might expect Grady to spot him a little more.

Floyd seems to be pressing a bit with men in scoring position  - he's 1 for 7 in those situation,  13-27 in others. And to those who have watched the games lately, while 'Tek has raised his average quite well the last 8 weeks his bugaboo remains hitting with men in scoring position, where his numbers (235/306/347) rival those of Tony Clark (211/278/366). And it's not your imagination, thanks to Grady's lineup cards, or dumb luck, Tek has faced that situation 98 times in 76 games, compared to Hillenbrand (124), Garciapara (125),  Nixon (100) and Daubach (99). And for those who don't think Manny is earning his money - check out his Scoring Position line - (412/590/750). Damon's pretty impressive as well (319/439/500), but Daubach's more so - (293/365/616). Aren't you happy we finally traded for a DH/OF so Daubach can play 1B full-time? And as much as I wish they'd done it earlier, I couldn't be more pleased with whom they acquired. The real question is, what is Daubach, our second or third (behind Nomar) most dangerous hitter with men on base doing hitting behind 'Tek, our most anemic one? Tek should hit eighth, where he can get some walks ahead of Sanchez, who moves runners over well, putting him in scoring position for Damon. Perhaps Hillenbrand and Daubach can flip/flop home and away. Hillenbrand is hitting poorly at home (262/304/373), and great on the road (.341/..367/.591); while Daubach has the opposite malady (296/358/558) vs. (254/333/408). Daubach leads the team in home homers with 10.

If anyone you know calls for Carlos Baerga with the man in scoring position - shoot this man. Baerga is great to start off - he's hitting .342 with no one on, his only hitting .222 with men in scoring position. In fact, and hold your hankies, but Offy was the best reserve in that circumstance (306/403/435) with Lou close behind (297/386/378). I hope the team gets another bat like that before the August deadline. We won't need to carry the full complement of pitchers in the post-season, and a  good pinch hitter could've made the difference in a couple of these ballgames.

The Pitching

What can one say that hasn't already been witnessed. Given Burkett's bizarre home-road ERA disparity (2.31/6.51), I could almost feel fine having Burkett start a game 3 if it were at home. And Wakefield is capable of some amazing things, though, I have always wondered if his knuckler could break in October like it does in August. Assuming things begin to come together a bit, you have to think about using Hermanson as a starter instead of Fossum. Hermanson is the kind of fellow you could feel a little more comfortable starting a road post-season game. More so than I feel with Fossum, or, truth be known, Wakefield. I'd rather see him in the 6th/7th making his knuckler look positively standstill in comparison to what the batter has seen already that night. Of course, we're talking post-season and not now. Now, it certainly looks like we need a middle guy. But if Embree and Howry can pitch like they did last night, a move of Fossum to the bullpen again might make sense. He benefits from the fact the starting staff is all righties, so as a middle guy he will force moves. Team him with whatever you can scavenge from Castillie Arrobanks, and you're not in bad shape. I wouldn't mind seeing the team grab one more reliever to go with the bad, truth be told. I'd just as soon leave Castillo or Arroyo of as well as Banks - leaving room for both on the post-season roster. Though he's been ineffective lately, I still hold out hope for Haney, presuming he's not placed in any Jim Burton situations. Personally, I'd love to see the Sox go get Flash back. He's in the last year of his Cubs contract, so the risk is minimal - a little money for a month or two of work. And you have to like having another seasoned reliever in the 'pen.

The Usual Suspects

The Angels are El Fuego, going 21-7 since the break. Their pitching has been great, but here's the little known key - Anahiem has 8 games left with Oakland, but they simply feast on left-handers. Both team's starters have been lights-out since the break, but I see the Angels overtaking the Mariners. Of course, we won't know until the very end, since the last two series between the Angels and Mariners are two of the last three series of the season, 6 of the last 9, with a four-game series with Oakland serving as the intro.

So, in fact they aren't lying. If the Sox can stay in the race until Sept. 15, they've got a very good shot at the Wild Card. Of course, Red Sox nation knows that's a big if.... however, can you imagine the shoe on the other foot for a moment?

What has happened to your pitching, since the break teams are hitting .295 against you and have raised their SLG% by 60 pts. in the second half. Three of your starters are battling injuries or just returning from them, while a fourth seems to be getting pounded regularly. You have a roster full of outfielders, yet you can't seem to find two corner ones that can field or hit for average. There may be a big hole at third base, and you have to worry about your closer who has shown a balky shoulder this season.

Okay, maybe being the yankees isn't so bad - watch out, Nick Johnson has started to hit, taking off where Ventura left off. I don't hold out much hope for Spencer Vander White, but Bernie is hitting the hell out of the ball, which makes their first four pretty damn scary. Still, in a short series, these guys have a number of players who strike out a lot nad don't hit for terrific average.

Truth be told, which bottom five would you rather have: Posada, Johnson, White, Mondesi, Ventura or Floyd, Hillenbrand, Daubach, Varitek & Sanchez? Think about all those Posada passed balls. Think about the nightly adventures on leftfield. Ventura's sub-.250 average. Mondesi's general cluelessness.

Given that their pitching looks as vulnerable as it has in years (note to Brian Cashman: Recent Sox experience has shown that collecting a bunch of 36-40 year old pitchers is like dancing with the devil as far as getting 34 starts a season), this could be the year for the Sox. The Yanks have played very well the last week, I am looking for them to have a lot more trouble when they pull into Seattle, then return home for the Angels, while the Sox have a short 3-game lunch with the Rangers. A week from now it'd be nice to see the Sox 3-games back. I think it will happen.

Sunday August 11, 2002


Only a fellow Red Sox fan, and might I add an intelligent one, can understand the revelatory joy to hear someone say exactly what you're thinking.  True, I read the Globe, Herald (sometimes) and Projo (more often, McAdams is one of the better Red Sox journos), but the fact is those guys rarely say anything of any substance.  I suppose because they have to talk to these guys every day, and we all know about those who run with nuns (later join the church).

But when I read Kevin Hench's partial comments in today's 'Notes' section of the Globe, I let out a Hallejulah.  Heck, for all of Grady Little's ridiculous  assortment of non-moves, he catches less hell than John McNamara.  Varitek?  I don't get to see many games but I almost threw the TV out the window, when, with a man on against the A's and desperately in need of baserunners, he swung and fouled off 3 or 4 out of the zone pitches, then waited on a fastball that was right on the outside corner.  WHAT THE #&%! TEK!  And then to watch each day as he plummets through a floor, that Grady insists on batting him FIFTH?  With eight homeruns, he hits in front Hillenbrand, who this year is better in almost every offensive category?

Since I'm on a roll, what is Grady's problem with pitching.  During this streak he has run Urbina up to nearly 50 pitches (Note to Grady - if you insist on bringing in your closer in the 8th, you'll likely have to pull him in the 9th if men get on base.  The guy just doesn't have the juice to face more than 5 or 6 batters).  He ignored El Guapo since his return, judging much of July's relatively decent work by the occasion where he left the Handsome One in for a second inning, as everyone who has followed the Sox for the last few years screamed at him.  His steadfast decision to use Offerman, even as Clark was beginning to show faint signs of life (between the two, who was more recently decent, aye, even an all-star??).  In fact, I have nothing but contempt for Little's handling of the Bullpen and bench.  But obviously I could go on for a while.

Suffice to say, that living in Lafayette, IN and having followed the Sox since I was 8 years old and developed a passion for Freddie Lynn and the Sox in that fateful '75 season (I can't remember exactly how but it's almost as if it was ordained.  Of course, ever the rebel, living in '74 in the Cincinnati area, probably served as encouragement to root against the (former) hometeam in '75).

I stayed up, TV sound turned down in my room through the night of Game 5.  I remember vividly Lynn crashing into the wall in Game 7, crumbling onto the ground and screaming for someone to pick up the damn ball. I don't remember a lot of those years, but I remember that (and the Phoenix series of the Celtics, and the weird, wild Gar Heard game).  I remember vividly the bullets pouring down Schiraldi's forehead as he peered in for the sign, and was reminded at that moment of Outlaw Josey Wales talking about the fear in a shooter's eyes.  For 27 years I have been growing this heartache, carefully cultivated by everyone from Jim Burton to Calvin Schiraldi to Mike Brown (with the Steamer carrying the curse, like Legionnaire's disease through it all), ah all the names.

I am thankful that you guys and particularly Hench's Hardball seem not to be soft-headed like the sports radio fans I hear during rain delays.  And I suppose you know the fraternity of misery that unites us and offers that little solace there is in a Titanic-esque Groundhog Day existence that seems looped around the Sox's neck like a noose.

Thanks again for affording me a little light during the dark, annual late summer collapse of the Bridge on the River Kwai.  Oh, wait that's the Red Sox...

Yours truly,
Chris Parker

Tuesday July 9, 2002

Baseball by George

7.9.02: The Yankees have won the American League pennant for the last four years running, and just this past week they reminded us that this dominance isn’t likely to stop anytime soon (Of course, they said that about the Roman Empire, right?) by picking up Raul Mondesi and Jeff Weaver in trades.

For Mondesi, the trade was a simple dump of a ludicrous salary from a team that could no longer afford to shoulder it, to a team that would barely notice that it was now carrying one more.  "A lot of teams are complaining, and why are they complaining?" Steinbrenner said in a story published in Newsday on Saturday. "The deal we made for the right fielder, they could have made that deal. Same with this young man (Weaver). What he's going to make this year, next year, it's not a big money grab. This is just good trading.

Okay, let’s break it down.  How many teams could realistically have traded to pick up $12.5 million of the $18.5 Mondesi is owed over the next season and a half.  The Dodgers, Red Sox, Rangers and Mets jump to mind, but none of them have the television revenue that Steinbrenner does.  In ’01, the Yankees took in $145 million in TV revenue, with the Mets ($112) and the Dodgers ($92) a distant second and third.  According to CNN, the Yankees payroll to begin the season was over $17.5 million higher than the next big spender on the block, the Red Sox.  That was before they decided to take on mssrs. Mondesi and Weaver (although they do lose the HUGE salary that Ted Lilly was making this season: $237,150)

Of course, comparing the Yankees to the other top tier teams isn’t the problem, it’s when you get to the bottom-rung players that you see the real problems.  How can the Pirates or Expos realistically compete against someone with the ability to spend four times as much as them while still making money.  And as we see all of the shady accounting that breaks up major corporations like Enron, Global Crossing and WorldComm, it’s hard not to give a shout to the fact of how teams that own their television networks decide to recognize revenue from their TV deals.  From Business Week, “Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, for instance, is likely to pull in over $200 million from his YES network but reportedly will claim only $54 million as local-TV revenue,” and they also mention that “The effective tax (what teams pay to revenue sharing) is actually much lower than that because teams get to hide substantial revenue from stadium and local-TV deals and also to liberally deduct expenses related to stadium operations."

One could point to the Weaver trade and say that the Yankees traded from a strong farm system, one that has given them current starters Alfonso Soriano, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Orlando Hernandez, Nick Johnson and Jorge Posada.   My question would be, how many of them did they get through the draft?   We all know that scouting in other countries costs money, with teams paying huge figures to set up camps in all parts of the world, not too mention the bidding wars that happen for some of the players when they are ready to sign.  Until baseball wises up, uses collective money to develop players in other countries and institutes a global draft, this will be just one more area to widen the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. 

Also, each time the Yankees make a deadline deal, which seems to happen every season, they lose no compensatory picks, as they would have if they signed these players as free agents.   Thus, being a team that has the money in the payroll to take on an extra salary or two at the deadline has the dual effect of costing you nothing now (if it was budgeted into the payroll, as it is on the top three-to-five teams) and nothing later.  In fact, since teams looking to unload salary don’t ask for REAL prospects, nor do they get compensatory picks, and often, as was the case of the Mondesi trade, are forced to pay some of the salary later, it makes sense for the Yankees to only go after the very best in free agent talent.  Every season there is a mid-level talent that got signed to a too-long-a-term deal that will be available under this discount plan.

There’s no doubt that the Yankees run their business wisely, as we have all seen the Orioles and Dodgers spend boat loads of money only to finish nowhere near the playoffs, but once the financial numbers get skewed to the point they’re reaching, and they widen by the year, there’s no reason to talk about “level playing fields” but just trying to keep the disparity from being so steep.  There will never be a salary cap, and George Steinbrenner will always benefit from owning the New York team, as opposed to baseball benefiting and the owner being happy that the league allows him to own a franchise.  Talking about this to Yankees fans will always open you up to hearing that you are just jealous.  What’s the answer, you say? Say it along with me, “Yankees Suck!”



Scott Gleason, a former writer for RotoWire.com, shows his hatred of the New York Yankees through song with the band www.benderband.com.  Download their aptly titled song www.benderband.com/mp3.html

Mother and Child Reunion is only a No-No Away I was at the no-hitter Dave Morehead (he wore #23) pitched in 1965 (with all apologies to my teachers at Weymouth High School -- my mother let me go to Fenway for that one last game in 1965, before the long winter), and I also saw Monbo pitch one in 1962 (I was not there for Earl Wilson's, though). On Saturday, my daughter, who, of course shares the DNA of a true Sox fan, called me from Fenway to tell me that she was there for this one!  This is tremendously exciting to me. My son and I also were on hand when Mike Boddicker pitched a gem against the Yankees (can't remember the year -- this is what happens when you get old!), and the Sox won 15-1.  We just happened to get tickets at the last minute (we could only get two, and they were boxes only 15 rows from the field).  Mike Greenwell hit a grand slam, inside-the-park home run during that one.  Back when Morehead pitched, though, we had no post-season hopes.  In fact, if I remember correctly, there were only a couple of thousand fans in the stands.  My friend Elaine and I were among them.  (She had a crush on Morehead, what can I tell you?) Even though I'm in upstate New York (Schenectady), I am in awe of Derek Lowe.  Maybe this year, we won't have to root for ABY (Anyone BUT the Yankees), but instead can root for the team we love. Wanda Fischer -- Weymouth High School Class of 1966  

RE:   Shea Hillenbrand part XXXVII

April 6, 2002: Many people think that Shea Hillenbrand is one of the worst third-basemen in the major leagues. However, you need to understand that he was a rookie that year and batting .263 with 12 HRs last year. At www.BaseballReference.com, the statistics show him most comparable to Jimmy Collins through age 25. Now obviously, Jimmy Collins made the Hall of Fame and played for the Red Sox for quite a while. So why is it that every Red Sox fan (or most of them) find it easy to jump on Shea and yell and scream at him? Aside from that that's the way they are, it's because he doesn't fit their genre of third basemen. Did Wade Boggs ever bat .263? Hah! Fat chance, he did. When fans look at Shea Hillenbrand, they see a 25 year old who shouldn't have gotten a shot at the first place replacing John Valentin.
     The fact is, Shea Hillenbrand is a good player. Maybe he doesn't hit for power now, but he will eventually. Dwight Evans projected him to be a 30 HR guy. Maybe he doesn't hit for average, and maybe he never will. The highest I ever project him to hit is .290. But those are good statistics... 290 with 30 homers. You know, not everybody needs to hit over .300 with over 40 HRs like Troy Glaus and Scott Rolen. I, personally, am quite fine with a .263 hitter, he gets the job done about 2.5 times out of 10 at-bats, which is pretty good considering getting the job done 3 times out of 10 is a superstar.
     The problem with people these days is most of them cling to their stereotype positions and expect people to fill these stereotypes. They expect a third baseman to hit with a lot of power. They expect a SS to have good fielding and hit for average. 2B is supposed to have stellar defense, and a 1B is suppose to hammer those pitches to the moon. Outfielders have to have a mix of power, speed and average, and so do catchers.
     But there are plenty of good people out there that don't fit that stereotype.  John Olerud, for example. While Seattle may have stuffed the ballots in 2001 for the All-Star Game, it was a well-deserved election. Bret Boone, another example. Everyone was so surprised at his breakout year. Not just because it was him, but because it was the position. There were basically no shortstops that went against the stereotype. All this means that it doesn't matter what position you play. Your talents can be utilized at every position. If I had to choose either a 1B that had not-so-great defense with a bad knee that once hit 70 homers and a 3B that averages about .240 with 50 HRs, both in their late 30s, or a 1B that has stellar defense, hits over .300 and hammers 11 HRs that is around 37 and a .263, 12 HR guy entering the prime of his career, I'd choose the latter.
     There is no cause to get on Shea Hillenbrand. The poor guy is trying! There's no reason to get on him because he didn't hit .300, because he didn't jack 40 homers. And you cannot get on him because of his defense. He had 4 errors after the All-Star Break compared with 14 before. If that's not improvement, I don't know what it is. Recently on projo's boards, someone pointed out that Hillenbrand was forcing himself to take pitches, particularily one that was a BP fastball right down the middle, then hacking at a pitch around the eyes.  Someone else compared him to Wade Boggs (oh, the irony...) but was quickly negated when the reader replied that Boggs knew which pitches to take and which not to. That doesn't matter! The thing here is that Shea Hillenbrand is TAKING the pitches.The strike zone will come. He's showing an effort to solve a problem, and we should not get on him for that.  I personally would rather have Shea Hillenbrand over Gordon Edes any day. We're slamming Shea for trying. We're slamming him for having ENOUGH, the key word here is ENOUGH...talent to make the major leagues and try and adapt to please the fans. We should be slamming ourselves for sitting on our fat asses and complaining about Shea Hillenbrand. Or Pedro. Or Rey Sanchez. Let them do their jobs. They've proven they can do it. Don't slam them. I would rather have Rey Sanchez hit .250 and have no errors than hit .350 and lead the league in errors.
     Quite frankly, leave him alone.

Evan Brunell
16 years, Massachusetts

Monday, February 18, 2002

Duke out altogether

From recent indications it appears Duquette will be asked to leave the Red Sox organization immediately following closing. Bob Lobel reported that Duquette told a close friend "I'm telling everybody I'm the GM... they can fire me if they want to, but I'm telling everyone I'm the GM."  Duquette also told reporters that the new owners "were looking forward to working with him." Reached by phone, Lucchino told Shaughnessy that he was "surprised" Dan (Duquette) would say that and offered an official "no comment until close." As Gordon Edes reported, the Port-Thomas-Epstein-Melvin transition team is ready to roll...   Duke supporters fire back

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Tough Questions

"I'm going to get beat up for this one, but someone has to ask it. When should the Red Sox consider trading Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra?"

"...Give me a break, will you. By what stretch of the imagination will it be in the new owners' best fiscal interests to strip this team of its most valuable parts?

Do you really think they're nothing but a bunch of Carl Icahns? That they'd have gone to all this trouble if their only purpose were to dismantle the franchise and sell off its component parts?"    Continued

Monday, January 14, 2002

Will new owners yell 'fire sale' in crowded ballpark?

On the fire sale timetable, I don't foresee much action until the end of the season.

Here are my reasons:

(i) The Henry/Werner/Lucchino group is (and will be) riding a decent wave of publicity (except maybe on Dennis and Callahan). They've no good reason to ruin it during the season, especially if the team is playing well.

(ii) During periods of relative calm, any good organization makes hay on the most vulnerable fronts-- they will really be talking turkey with more limited partners, especially those that can add value like waterfront real estate to the group. They will also be busy talking to pols about the new park-- very hush hush and behind the scenes. They probably learned from the Kraft fiasco to have the cards in hand before betting their entire pot.

(iii) IMO, really good PR has a cause-and-effect component. Last year, many fans, even those with casual interest probably felt cheated that the three cornerstone players of this squad didn't play a single game together. It will be difficult to make a move in the middle of a season to get rid of any one of them without their having played a season together. If the Sox don't get a playoff berth this year (and I suspect go deep enough in the playoffs to make the team some real money), the owners can come back with:

"Hey-- we tried it their (the JH/DD/Yawkey Trust) way and it didn't work. It's costing us a tremendous amount, and we don't want to raise ticket prices, etc. Now we're going to try it OUR way-- through building from within for the future." Then there will be a Saturday night massacre in which DD, JK, half of the front office staff-- coaches, scouts, minor league personnel, and ONE star player will go.

My suspicion is that the player in question will be Martinez. Although undeniably great and in his prime, I don't think that Martinez embodies the Sox in the way a home grown everyday player like Nomar does. Plus, as an ace pitcher, he could go for a king's ransom (of Baseball America-approved prospects) to a contender (especially if his arm proves itself to be sound this year). Position players by their very nature will always go for slightly less. Manny, being the player with the highest valued contract, and the least utility-- he has to play a corner outfield position in the NL, and can DH in the AL-- will be the hardest to move.

(iv) The most clear indication that something is up with finances will be the Sox inability to pull the trigger on a trade (for an IMPACT player) at mid-season. Injuries or ineffectiveness at 2B, 3B, or the pen may necessitate a move, but it will be a waiver deal for a player like Sadler, or for a mop up relief pitcher. Rolen will still be there, but there will exist "contractual concerns."

There will be two forces opposing one another on the PR front this year. If the Sox fare badly and look to be out of it pretty soon after the All Star break, the new owners will point not to the Marlins' or to the Padres' fire sale, but to that of the White Sox, who traded away vets in the middle of a season in which they were less than 5 games out of the wild card race. Sox fans (and perhaps some of the media) OTOH will point to a playoff appearance as THE important measure of success. If the Sox look to have salted away the wild card by late August, it will be very difficult for the new owners to save face after getting rid of a vet, or a star player-- it'll be worse than suspicious-- it'll look like the fix is in.

moffatram - "Your Turn"

Monday, December 24, 2001

The Media is Killing Us?

CUT TO: New Hampshire School. Kay leads a group of children into schoolyard. -day

KAY: (to the children) Come on, Nancy -- keep together, everyone. Blanche -- Okay, all right... (then, when Kay notices Michael standing beside his Cadillac) How long have you been back?

MICHAEL: I've been back a year. Longer than that, I think. (then) It's good to see you, Kay...

DISSOLVE TO: Country road. Michael and Kay are walking together as Michael's car follows behind. A boy on his bike passes, followed by his dog. -day

BOY: (as he passes) Come on, Dano!

MICHAEL: I'm working for my father now, Kay. He's been sick -- very sick.

KAY: But you're not like him, Michael. I thought you weren't going to become a man like your father. That's what you told me...

MICHAEL: My father's no different than any other powerful man -- (then, after Kay laughs)-- Any man who's responsible for other people. Like a sportswriter or a president.

KAY: You know how naive you sound?


KAY: Sportswriters and presidents don't have men killed...

MICHAEL: Oh -- who's being naive, Kay?

- DanlMac, "Your Turn"

Thursday, December 6, 2001

What I'll Miss About Carl

Carl Everett is likely to be dealt before the start of next season. Many will breathe a sigh of relief. Many will rejoice.

Not I. I’m a Carl Everett fan. And I won’t apologize for being one.

I’ll miss him.

In fact, I wish we had eight more just like him.

I know, I know. He was a distraction. He’s out of control. He’s “Jurassic Carl.”

Say what you want. You can’t persuade me that this guy doesn’t belong on the team.

Okay, okay. Let’s go over the negatives. What are they, exactly? He was hurt last year. Yeah. That sucks. He wasn’t as terrific as he should have been. He tried to do too much to compensate for his injuries. He was miserable this season against lefties. He has a short fuse. He has a problem dealing with authority. He has a problem dealing with pointless, arbitrary rules. Like getting on a damn bus when the boss says so. As a result, he upsets certain kinds of people. People like Jimy Williams. (This may, in fact, be a POSITIVE.)

Anything else? Speak now, or forever hold your peace. Or piece.

Here’s what I liked about the guy, and what I’ll miss.

I loved the way Everett pounded himself on the head with his bat when he struck out. That’s the kind of guy I want on my team. Not guys like Derek Lowe and Darren Lewis who bitch and moan when someone shows up to work a half an hour late. (Anyone who even NOTICED that Everett was a half hour late should apologize for watching the clock rather than focusing on their own damn jobs.)

I loved the way he ran the hell out of every routine ground ball, every pop up, every easy fly out.

I loved the way Everett shouted “GO! GO! GO! GO! GO!” when Donnie Sadler was on first and the game was on the line. (Sadler didn’t go of course, thanks to Jimy, and the season was over.)

I loved the way he twitched and jerked like a psycho-killer when he was at bat. Like his blood stream was chock full of some nasty-assed amphetamines. Scared the hell out of me. I want players like that. Players that scare the hell out of me. Why? Because if I’m scared, imagine what the opposing pitcher is feeling.

I loved the way he went full-throttle after every ball hit his way. (I hated the way this practice led to injury.) I loved that he thought he was a better fielder than he really was.

I loved the way Pedro and Nomar took his side in his battle against the media.

I loved the way Pedro referred to him as “Doctor Evil.” I loved that this cracked Everett up.

I loved the way he irritated the hell out of Dan Shaughnessy. In fact, I loved the way he wore out his welcome with the entire Boston press corp. Anytime these loons get their knickers in a twist, you know that something is going right.

I loved the way he exposed Derek Lowe to be the selfish, petty prig that he is.

I loved the way Manny wore an Everett jersey during his first Red Sox interviews with ESPN.

I loved every one of his at bats. I always felt that something MAJOR was about to happen. Even if it didn’t, you somehow knew that it could have. Or that it should have. Or would have, if the damn umpire had let him take the space that was rightfully his.

I loved the toothpick. Crazy and dangerous. A ball is coming at you at 90-plus miles an hour, and you've got a sharp piece of wood in your mouth. I like that. We need more guys with toothpicks. More guys who don’t give a damn if they tear the hell out of their gums and cheeks as long as they get a hit and look mean as hell doing it.

I loved the way he arrogantly trotted around the bases after a home run, and then touched his heart and pointed to the heavens, as though the Powers That Be didn’t notice his delightfully smug self-satisfaction.

I loved the way he spoiled Mussina’s perfect game. I immediately thought of the nice aliens in Galaxy Quest. “NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER SURRENDER!”

I loved that he grabbed his crotch and spat after showing up the pitcher who nailed him earlier in the game. We need more guys with that nasty, in-your-face attitude. I’ve been rooting for nice guys for too long. In my thirty-nine years most of my votes have been cast for nice guys who finished last. Enough of that nonsense. Give me guys like Pedro who wish for a time machine so they have the opportunity to plunk Babe Ruth in the ass. Give me guys with that perfect “TAKE THAT” lack of class. Enough of the thoughtful, generous, kind-hearted talentless losers. Give me some difficult, cranky, driven, talented winners.

I’m deeply concerned that we won’t get equal value for Carl.

Keep him. He isn’t the first Boston athlete with an attitude. If Red found a way to deal with Russell, then Joe can find a way to deal with Everett.

Ah, what the hell am I talking about? He’s gone.


- DanlMac, "Your Turn"

Thursday, December 6, 2001

Subject:  Total Revenue:
Yankees vs. Red Sox

New York Yankees:... $242,208,000
Boston Red Sox:....... $176,982,000

That seems about right. $66 million a year difference. So basically, if the Red Sox had the same amount of money as the Yankees, Dan Duquette could have taken his 2001 roster, with all its warts, and added Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi, Bernie Williams, and Mariano Rivera, and still turned a profit.

Gee, I'm glad the Yankees don't win because of their financial advantage.

Also, they break down expenses into two categories. The first is "player and pension compensation" This number is $117 million for NY and $118 million for Boston. Thus, these numbers represent ONLY MAJOR LEAGUE payroll. Where are the signing bonuses paid to draft picks and international free agents, plus contractual buyouts, located on these books?

The only other expense category is "National and Other Local Operating Expenses" This is where it has to be! Now, there are other things in here, like hotels and airfare I bet, but those have to be almost equal across each team, so any differences here are related to differences in what teams spend on scouting and player development. Look at the disparity:

Yankees....... $83,413,000
Red Sox....... $55,799,000

Disgusting. That's a $28 million difference in scouting and development. In order to match the Yankees in that area, Boston would have to cut its major league payroll by more than 25 percent.

- DieHard3, Your Turn

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