December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

Jim Caple. Page 2:
Long-suffering Yankees fans can finally rejoice. ... Trading for the best left-hander of his era should restart the Yankees dynasty and bring an end to New York's too-long stay as baseball's "lovable losers." ...

"Now I know how Cubs fans must feel," one New York fan said .... "Yankees fans have suffered long enough. When's it going to be our turn?" ...

"It really is annoying," another fan said. "... Why do the Red Sox always have to rub their success in our faces the way they do? If I hear one more Red Sox fan chant '2000' or bring up the Curse of A-Rod, I'm going to puke.

"But that's OK. We've got the Big Unit now. And when we win the World Series, it will be all that much sweeter because we went through so much for so long."
Yankee Fans Get Cocky As Team Grabs Unit. "The Yankees officially turned the calendar yesterday on the Year of the Red Sox ... [agreeing] in principle to a trade yesterday with the Arizona Diamondbacks ... The Yankees will send the right-hander Javier Vazquez, the left-hander Brad Halsey, the catching prospect Dioner Navarro and $8.5 million to $9 million to Arizona ..."

December 29, 2004

Blurb! "JoyofSox, the only blog that offers both Red Sox coverage and far-out left wing conspiracy theories in one convenient package." -- andrewsullivan.com

Cool!
A Headline. Tsunamis Shatter Celebrity Holidays -- No, it's not the Onion.
A Thrill Divine / Down My Spine. The Red Sox's ALCS comeback and World Series win was selected as the top sports story of 2004 by the Associated Press.

Theo: "There is a sense that we got the job done this year and it was so satisfying for everybody, all the players and management, all the fans, that, if anything, it just kind of increases your hunger and desire to do it again."

Here is the voting (1st place votes and total points):
                                   1st   Points

Red Sox win World Series 108 1325
Armstrong wins 6th Tour de France 7 785
Pacers brawl with Detroit fans 6 662
Patriots win streak 498
Steroid scandal 8 495
Bonds 700 HRs and 7th MVP 419
Also: Randy Johnson has apparently told some of his Arizona teammates that he's off to New York.

December 28, 2004

VORP. Baseball Prospectus looks at the change in starting pitchers:
Added            VORP      Status

David Wells 40.3 2 yr/$8MM ($10MM incentives)
Matt Clement 36.9 3 yr/$25MM
Wade Miller 21.8 1 yr/$1.5MM ($3MM incentives)

Lost VORP Status
Pedro Martinez 51.2 Mets; 4 yr/$53MM
Derek Lowe -11.5 Rejected arbitration
BP calculates the VORP of the 2004 rotation -- Schilling, Martinez, Lowe, Wakefield, Arroyo -- at 146.7 and a projected 2005 rotation -- Schilling, Wells, Clement, Miller, Arroyo -- at 196.6.
Adding Wells, Clement and Miller gives the Sox a much deeper rotation, as they can move Wakefield or Arroyo to the bullpen and have insurance if Wells or Miller breaks down at some point (which is a pretty safe bet heading into '05). There is a steep drop from Schilling to whoever is tabbed as the number two man, but little decline in quality moving from the two through five spots, especially if the Sox keep Arroyo in the rotation and move Wakefield into the swingman role.
Is it February 20 yet?
Moral Values. After being criticized for pledging only $15 million for Asian earthquake relief, the US upped that total to about $35 million. That is also roughly what will be spent on Bush's inauguration next month (though private donations will cover most of that cost).

Compare that $35 million to the $226 million being wasted every single day in Iraq (650 days and a cost of at least $147,000,000,000) -- or 1/5 of 1% of the total cost of the invasion. Millions for murder and conquest, pennies for saving lives. ... And I thought this war couldn't get more obscene.

December 27, 2004

The Happy Recap. Ian Browne looks back over 2004. From October:
A century from now, this still may rate as the most glorious month in the history of the Red Sox. ... Who could have known what was ahead when the Sox trailed the series, 3-0? But the Sox pulled out two miraculous, marathon victories in a row, both of which were capped by walk-off hits from Ortiz, to earn a ticket back to the Bronx. Once the Sox got there, they rode Schilling -- bloody ankle and all -- to a gutsy win in Game 6. And, thanks to a revitalized Derek Lowe and a dominant offensive performance by Johnny Damon, the Sox routed the Yankees in Game 7, becoming the first team in Major League history to overcome a 3-0 deficit. From a drama standpoint, the World Series was anti-climactic. But it was no less sweet for the Sox and their fans.

December 26, 2004

Ay, There's The Rub. Dave Barry, in his "Year In Review," notes that the Red Sox won the World Series despite at one point trailing in the ALCS three games to none, because the Yankees
chose that particular time to execute the most spectacular choke in all of sports history, an unbelievable Gag-o-Rama, a noxious nosedive, a pathetic gut-check failure of such epic dimensions that every thinking human outside of the New York Metropolitan area experienced a near-orgasmic level of happiness. But there is no need to rub it in.
Now-Dead Manny-To-Mets Deal Explained. The Red Sox are still hoping Byung Hyun Kim can return to the club next season, possibly as a long man in the pen. However, Kim was part of a proposed chain of events that would have begun with Manny Ramirez joining Pedro Martinez in Queens.

In today's Globe, Gordon Edes recounts how Boston was set to
swap Ramirez to the Mets for a package that included Cliff Floyd, who had made a brief cameo in Boston two years ago, then spin Floyd to a third team. They also were confident of signing free agent outfielder J.D. Drew, whom they would have installed in right field and moved Trot Nixon to the left-field position vacated by Ramirez. The Sox also would have unloaded B.K. Kim in the three-way deal, and received some nice prospects in return.
However, the whole thing crumbled when the Mets "asked the Sox for more money than they wanted to pay toward the remaining $78 million on Ramirez's contract." Now, "the issue appears dead," especially since Drew signed a 5/55 deal with the Dodgers.

Doug Mientkiewicz in the Miami Herald, taking about Dave Roberts's 9th inning stolen base in Game 4 of the ALCS: "From that moment on, when he was safe, our whole attitude changed." Also, Malphabet still has that ball -- the one Keith Foulke tossed to him in St. Louis -- in a safe deposit box.

I had been wondering where that ball ended up. I think it would make a good interactive exhibit at Fenway Park -- where fans could hold it and have their pictures taken. I have held a ball signed by the 1918 team and I'd like to hold this one too.

Don't miss the Globe's excellent (and lengthy) feature on Theo Epstein.
Operation Dessert Storm. No imagination:

December 26, 2003: "[He] gave Mrs. Bush a gold beaded necklace, some earrings and some dessert plates that she saw in Georgetown."

December 26, 2004: "Bush gave his wife Laura dessert plates to complement her china pattern and she gave him a raincoat in their Christmas gift exchange on Saturday..."

Hey George, how's about buying some "desert plates" -- you know, armor for the soldiers' vehicles in Iraq?
The View From Above. I missed this at the time. Art Thiel, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, on October 23, 2004:
"HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH, Mass. -- ... At 20,000 feet on the way to Boston Thursday, the pilot announced to the passengers on the United Airlines flight from Denver, "Ladies and gentlemen of Red Sox Nation, we're flying over New York City. If you look down to your left very closely, you can see Derek Jeter helping Alex Rodriguez load his golf bag into the car."
The dateline is a nice touch. Thanks to RSTarheel at SoSH for pointing it out.

99 days to Opening Day.

December 24, 2004

Flight 93 Shot Down? According to Donald Rumsfeld, today on CNN: "And I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon, the people who cut off peoples' heads on television to intimidate, to frighten ..."

Did he misspeak? Maybe. ... One month after 9/11, Rumsfeld was quoted on the Department of Defense's own website as saying a missile hit the Pentagon: "Here we're talking about plastic knives and using an American Airlines flight filed with our citizens, and the missile to damage this building and similar (inaudible) that damaged the World Trade Center. The only way to deal with this problem is by taking the battle to the terrorists, wherever they are, and dealing with them."
The Changing Roster. It sometimes feels like there has been a lot of turnover on the roster in the last seven weeks, but there really hasn't -- only Pedro, Cabrera, Lowe and the bench/back end of pen.
            Game 4        Now


Starters Pedro Clement
Schilling Schilling
Arroyo Arroyo
Wakefield Wakefield
Lowe Wells

Bullpen Leskanic Miller/Mantei
Myers Halama
Embree Embree
Timlin Timlin
Foulke Foulke

Infield Varitek Varitek
Millar Millar
Bellhorn Bellhorn
Cabrera Renteria
Mueller Mueller
Ortiz Ortiz

Outfield Ramirez Ramirez
Damon Damon
Nixon Nixon

Bench Mirabelli Mirabelli
Mientkiewicz Mientkiewicz
Youkilis Youkilis
Kapler ?
Roberts Payton
Reese Vazquez
Four New Blogs. Check 'em out:

Fenway Park Effects
Call Of The Green Monster
RC's Sports Blog
Sex & Sox
Supporting The Troops: Bush-style:
Members of a second National Guard unit that prepared for duty in Iraq at the Army's Fort Bliss compound have ... said in interviews, e-mails and official documents that they were sent to war earlier this year with chronic illness, broken guns and trucks with blown transmissions. The unit's M-60 machine guns reportedly were in such bad condition when the soldiers deployed in February that one sergeant -- in a section of a post-training summary sent to his commanders that was titled "gun maintenance" -- wrote: "Perhaps we should throw stones?" ... In the summary document obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the sergeant reported that some soldiers had arrived in Iraq without ever having fired some of the weapons they would use in war.
After Rumsfeld's callous F-You to a soldier asking why troops are forced to gather any "rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass" they can find to protect themselves and their vehicles disappeared from the news after a day or two, I can only assume that most Americans simply do not give a shit.

Last month, Colin Powell told Bush and Tony Blair that there were too few troops in Iraq. According to the Dallas Morning News, these discussions were so secret that "the transcripts are destroyed after other senior officials read them."

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel blames "the arrogance and incompetency of the civilian leadership at the Pentagon" for the increasing death toll in Iraq (now at least 1,324 Americans) and says that a draft may be necessary. ... Because how long can the US ask men in their 40s (including Kansas Republican State Representative Lee Tafanelli) and 70s (retired Army colonel John Caulfield) to return to active duty?

From PBS: "In late 2003, the Selective Service System began quietly filling vacancies in local draft boards around the country, and has begun creating procedures for a 'special skills' draft of linguists and computer specialists, in the event that the administration asks for and Congress approves a draft."
Varitek Named Captain; Only Third in Sox History. In addition to resigning, Jason Varitek was also named team captain.

Mientkiewicz on the first base situation with Millar: "[T]he Red Sox can't go wrong with either one of us. ... I want to stay in Boston - I thoroughly enjoyed it there, even if I didn't play very well. If they feel they can become stronger with younger prospects, I would not leave with any ill feelings. I got my ring, but I'd love to come back."

The Night Before Fenway ... Houston's initial offer to Carlos Beltran is "reportedly a six-year deal worth as much as $16 million a season." The Yankees have met with Beltran but not made an offer. And Randy Johnson's status for next season will likely not be known until after New Year's.
"USA" Mentioned In Bible. Or so some insane people in the South would have you believe. ... Someone in North Carolina who posts on a message board I frequent wrote this last night: "I get a burger and fries tonight at a drive-thru place called 'Cookout' and on my fries wrapper it says:
'God Bless the USA --Galatians 6:10.'"
I've never heard of this chain of burger joints, though here is one in Cary, NC. ... In case you're wondering, here what that scripture really says: "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."

Not the best scan, but it'll do:

December 23, 2004

Varitek Resigns! Globe: Jason Varitek "agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract today, a source directly involved in the negotiations ... The Red Sox were expected to announce the deal on Friday. ... Varitek's demand for a no-trade clause was the singular issue that kept the sides from reaching a deal previously, but they found some way to satisfy Varitek without granting him a no-trade clause." ... SoSH talks.
Miller, Clement, Payton, Vazquez In; Roberts, Cabrera Out. Gordon Edes has an excellent overview of the Red Sox's latest moves, including signing RHP Wade Miller to a one-year contract, trying to deal Byung Hyun Kim to an NL team, picking through offers for Kevin Millar and Doug Mientkiewicz, talking daily with Scott Boras about signing Jason Varitek before January 8, and passing on Japanese shortstop Tadahito Iguchi, opting for Ramon Vazquez and Kevin Youkilis as the infield subs. [Also good to check periodically: The Buzz]

Vazquez joined the Sox (with Jay Payton) when they traded Dave "Smiley" Roberts to San Diego. Theo on Payton: "We have measured him as a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder at all three outfield positions and he's a righthanded bat with power. We'll get a defensive boost whenever he's in the lineup and also have a good bat against lefty pitching." (Spelling Nixon in right, I guess.) ... Theo on Vazquez: "He's a talented kid who I don't think has reached his full potential yet. He's got very solid on-base skills against right-handed pitching. He's a very patient contact hitter. He's got fantastic hands on either side of the bag, shortstop or second base." Vazquez has played all four infield positions in his career: 181 games at short, 100 at second, 35 at third and three games at first.

Roberts: "This is a dream come true. After winning the World Series you don't think it can get any better, but it has. [He has lived in San Diego County since he was 12] ... I grew up a San Diego Padres fan. That's all I knew when I was younger, watching guys like Tony Gwynn. It didn't seem like this could ever happen. It's something I wanted so much my whole life."

Theo: "I think his stolen base, at least as far as we're concerned, was one of the biggest stolen bases in baseball history, let alone Red Sox history, because we went from potentially getting swept against the Yankees to winning the whole thing for the first time in 86 years." ... Red at SurvivingGrady.com writes to Roberts and speaks for all of us. ... I'll have to take a trip to Shea when San Diego comes to town and thank him in person.

In a Herald pay column, Gerry Callahan praises Theo for thinking with his head and not his heart. "In four months, the Sox lost their two most popular players, and yet eight weeks from now the most popular Sox team ever will touch down in Fort Myers like Lindbergh in Paris. Epstein has been the general manager for two seasons. He won a World Series and was one Grady Little meltdown short of another. If that doesn't earn the GM the benefit of the doubt, nothing does. When he landed Clement, one baseball writer said the Sox continue to make sabermetrically sound moves. Translation: Epstein is not trying to make a splash. He is trying to make the playoffs again. The Sox might lose more of their World Series heroes before this winter ends, but as long as Epstein keeps his head, they have a real chance to do it all again next year."

David Heuschkel lays out Theo's brilliance: "The Yankees will pay Carl Pavano an average annual salary of $10 million over the next four years. For the same amount, the Red Sox added two quality starters to their 2005 rotation: righthanders Matt Clement and Wade Miller. ... Another way to look the revamped Red Sox rotation: Rather than pay Pedro Martinez $14 million next season, Epstein used that money to sign Clement, Miller and David Wells."

Clement on Miller: [T]hat's a great pickup. I got to see him quite often over the last couple years. The only thing that stopped him is ... a couple freak injuries. A great pitcher. Hard thrower. He pitched well against us many times over the last three years." ... Some Clement stats: In 2002-04, he limited opponents to a .223 average (7th lowest among all MLB pitchers), going 35-36 with a 3.80 ERA in 94 starts. Last season, he pitched at least six innings in 22 of his 30 starts, and allowed two earned runs or less in 15 starts. During a five-game losing streak (June 18 to July 16) he posted a 2.37 ERA.

The Dodgers backed out of the Randy Johnson mega deal, causing chuckles throughout RSN. However, the Herald's Michael Silverman says the Unit will be in pinstripes eventually -- "whether it's this week, next week, next month or next July." ... The Post notes that New York and Arizona will take a break from negotiations until after the holidays.

Finally -- "Rivals in Exile: Feeding Frenzy" by Ben Jacobs (Red Sox) and Larry Mahnken (Yankees) (December 20, 2004)

December 22, 2004

Monkey Man. Reuters: "A portrait of President Bush using monkeys to form his image that was banished from a New York art show last week amid charges of censorship was projected ... on a giant digital billboard over the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, used by thousands of commuters traveling between Manhattan and New Jersey. The original picture will be auctioned on eBay, with part of the proceeds donated to parents of US soldiers wishing to supply their sons and daughters with body armor in Iraq."



Follow the auction here.

December 20, 2004

Varitek, Six Others, Decline Arbitration. All of Boston's remaining free agents -- Varitek, Lowe, Cabrera, Reese, McCarty, Myers and Astacio -- rejected salary arbitration yesterday.

In the most important case -- Varitek -- it means the Red Sox have until January 8 to negotiate a contract. If they cannot come to terms by then, Varitek would essentially be gone, since Boston could not talk with him until May.

Tim Wakefield saw no evidence of any discontent between Martinez and Schilling last season. "I totally understand (Pedro's statements). I wish him all of the best and hopefully I'll get to see him again. ... I cherish the memories I have playing with Pedro Martinez for the seven years he was here."

Dave Roberts loves Boston and wants to start. "It's kind of tricky because the Red Sox' outfield is already set for next year. ... It's tough because I'm caught in the middle of playing in a place I love and people I love here in Boston and trying to win another championship, or try to do the best for my career and my family."

The Yankees expect Randy Johnson to ask for a two-year extension for about $32 million: "Added to Johnson's $16 million salary for this coming season, that would be a $48 million investment for a pitcher who will be 44 in the final season of the deal and already requires synthetic gel injections to lubricate his cranky right knee."

At his Mets press conference, Martinez said that 28-inch-tall Nelson de la Rosa's role as the Red Sox's good-luck charm last year was "just a trick." Now de la Rosa, who has not spoken to Pedro since the victory parade, is a little pissed off. "He broke my heart. ... I'm not going to the Mets unless some other Dominican ballplayer makes me an offer. And if the Yankees call me, I'll go with them."

December 19, 2004

2005 Rotations. Garry Brown of the Springfield Republican looks at the Red Sox and Yankees starters for next season
Curt Schilling     Randy Johnson

David Wells Mike Mussina
Matt Clement Carl Pavano
Tim Wakefield Jaret Wright
Bronson Arroyo Orlando Hernandez
and gives the edge to New York: "The Red Sox actually go six deep in starting pitchers, if you count their recent addition, left-hander John Halama. They'll use him mainly as a reliever, with the knowledge that he can be a spot starter. For the Yankees, that No. 6 role could go to Brown or Hernandez. Can you imagine a $15.7 million starter being used as a swing man?"

World Champs? Bah, says Tony Massarotti. The Herald scribe is ready to take control of the Gloom 'N Doom Bus: "Spring training is still roughly two months away, but already it seems as if the world champion Red Sox have slipped. ... [L]et's not kid ourselves, either. On paper, at least, Johnson-Pavano is better than Wells-Clement. And by a sizeable margin." ... Mazz forgets that he's comparing the Yankees' 1-2 starters to Boston's 2-3.

Also in the Herald, Michael Silverman reports that Matt Clement "is soft-spoken, so it was with some trepidation that he called former Cubs teammate Bill Mueller to find out if he would fit in with the gang of idiots who dominated the Sox clubhouse." Clement's agent Barry Axelrod: "Matt is probably, in terms of demeanor, behavior and philosophy, closer to Bill Mueller than he is to Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon or now David Wells. ... [H]e called Bill to get the lay of the land.'"

Bronson Arroyo on losing Pedro: "He was unbelievable in the clubhouse and I'm sad to see him go. When I saw that announced, I was definitely disappointed. Pedro's a guy who's kind of defensive. If someone said something, which may not even be true, Pedro's not going to take it and let it slide off of his back. He's probably going to come back with a few words of his own. That's the way he is and that's his personality, and that's how he's been his entire career. That's what makes him so intimidating on the mound."
Who To Believe?

Peter Gammons, ESPN, 12/18: "His agent, Fern Cuza, knew for a month that the third year was there and that he could get whatever he wanted from the Mets. So he finally drove it to something/anything above Schilling, then took it to the Mets knowing they'd give Martinez whatever he wanted. They spun a nice myth about the Cardinals and Red Sox rushing back with four years to make the Mets look good, but it was fiction."

Murray Chass, New York Times, 12/19: "If the Mets are being criticized for giving Pedro Martinez $53 million for four years, the critics should know that the Mets weren't the only team in that neighborhood. St. Louis offered him $50 million for four years. And as Martinez was on the verge of accepting the Mets' offer, with the club's four-man contingent in his agent's hotel room at the winter meetings in Anaheim, Calif., Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox' chief executive, called several times and asked the agent, Fernando Cuza, 'What do we have to do to get back in?'"

Gotta go with Old Hickory on this one; Chass has become an absolute hack in the last two years. ... And apparently, when asked on WFAN last Thursday, Pedro admitted that Boston never offered a fourth year.

There is a fair amount of pop psychology being tossed around in this SoSH thread, including this from Montana Fan: "IMO Pedro is lashing out because he wanted to stay here. He wanted to stay more than the Sox ownership wanted him to stay. He'd be a fool to pass up an extra 13 million which is why he is now a Met. His comments indicated a clear desire to stay part of a team for which he liked playing. He likes his teammates, the fans and winning in Boston. He's PO'd because the Sox didn't value him as much as he valued being on the team."

That sounds about right. I wouldn't be surprised if he felt that accepting Boston's lesser offer after all the public wrangling (dating back a year) would be seen as giving in. It's a shame he couldn't be that humble.

In that same thread, Mr Weebles wrote: "Unfortunately I think Pedro made a mistake many people make in trying to justify his actions by placing blame on others. Personally, I would respect him more right now if he said 'look, no one was going to match the Mets offer of 4 years, 50 million plus. And at this stage of my career I appreciate the job security and the financial reward it brings.'"

December 18, 2004

Pedro's Contract. According to the AP:
$ 3.5 million -- signing bonus (payable through July 2007)

$10.0 million -- 2005
$14.0 million -- 2006 ($4 million can be deferred*)
$14.0 million -- 2007 ($4 million can be deferred*)
$11.5 million -- 2008 ($2 million can be deferred*)
(* -- at 5% compounded interest)
Martinez would receive a $500,000 bonus if he wins the Cy Young award, $1 million if he wins it a 2nd time, $1.5 million if he wins it a 3rd time and $2 million if he wins it a 4th time. He'll receive $400,000 for finishing 2nd in the voting and $300,000 for winding up 3rd.

In addition, there are these potential bonuses: $50,000 for each All-Star appearance, $50,000 for each Gold Glove, $50,000 for winning the NLCS MVP award and $250,000 for winning the World Series MVP. ... Martinez will also receive a luxury suite at Shea Stadium for every home game and a hotel suite on all road trips.

Pedro Martinez: "I feel after I've done so much for a city and for a team, that wasn't the right way to be treated. ... I gave Boston every opportunity to get me. Not only in this free-agent year, but in the period before. I've been trying to let Boston keep me for the rest of my career, and Boston wouldn't pull the trigger. Why did they have to wait until the last minute or so? ... They either made a mistake or they know exactly what they're doing."

Pedro: "It's really important that everyone knows, that even though I'm here in New York, I have all the love and respect for the people and the fans of Boston. It's too bad I couldn't work it out. I tried. I gave everything I had. I gave Boston every opportunity to keep me and they couldn't do it. I don't know why we couldn't work it out."

I've been rereading my posts for the first half of the 2004 season and Pedro is not being honest. He had a higher price tag in the spring of 2004 than he did in the fall of 2004. And before last season began, Boston was offering him Schilling money for three years -- exactly the type of coin he now says he would have resigned for in a heartbeat. ... It would have been nice if Martinez could have said thanks and good bye to the Red Sox fans and gone quietly to the Mets. It would have been nice if he had showed more dignity. It saddens me that he didn't (or couldn't).

In 2004:
Wells and Clement: 3.70 ERA in 376 innings
Martinez and Lowe: 4.59 ERA in 399 innings

Theo Epstein on Edgar Renteria: "He's going to be one of the rocks we build the next great Red Sox team on." He added: "Making the last out in the World Series was part of the deal." ... Brooklyn native John Halama: "I've always been a Mets fan and never rooted for the Yankees."

Finally, I don't find myself agreeing all that often with Newsday's Shaun Powell, but he may have hit on something in his December 14 column:
You could see this coming. You could see the Red Sox, after taking a pitcher's best years, letting him go and letting someone else pay for his twilight years. You could see that someone being the Mets, desperate for a big name and a big splash, throwing major dollars and years to a pitcher who'll probably give them one solid season. Two, if they're lucky.

If the Red Sox thought Pedro had plenty left, they would've gladly met the asking price. If a team locked in a timeless rivalry with the Yankees thought Pedro could give a few more 18- or 20-win seasons, you think they would've cut him loose? No, they would've cut the check and stuck it to George Steinbrenner again. ...

Instead of fighting over Pedro, two intense rivals decided he wasn't worth all the fuss, all the years and all the money. As negotiations dragged on, they refused to be leveraged. They set a firm price, then walked away. Meanwhile, the Mets charged full speed ahead. ... They may even wonder why a future Hall of Famer was this easy to get. They may not like the answer.
Shut Up Pedro. It takes a lot for me to get pissed at Pedro Martinez, but at this point, I'd wish he'd shut his yap. Back home in Santo Domingo Friday, he claimed that in 2005, Boston "will field the best bad team in baseball history." I'm not completely sure what he meant by that.

He also said Tito is merely a front-office puppet. "Francona had no say, like he didn't have any say in managing the team. He was manipulated from upstairs. ... I was in the clubhouse, that's how I know." Theo Epstein brushed Martinez's comments aside and John Henry added that when team officials met with Martinez in the DR about one week ago, they "offered Pedro exactly what he said it would take to sign him."

Schilling expressed surprise at Pedro's barbs. "He came and went as he pleased. That was something very different for me and something I'd never seen before. ... There were times during the year when I wondered where he was. ... It's obvious: The barometer he uses for respect is money. [Our respective incomes] obviously bothered him because, question after question, his answers were that he wouldn't be behind me or be under, whatever that means. I'm guessing it relates to salary."
Red Sox Sign Clement. Throughout the week, Boston pushed for right-handed pitcher Matt Clement, and now his agent says he's coming to the Hub. MLB.com reports the former Cub "is all but set to sign a three-year contract worth approximately $25 million that will make him a member of the defending World Series champion Red Sox."

Pedro: According to the Herald, Boston's "last best offer to Martinez was a guaranteed deal for three years at $13.5 million a year, with a fourth option year also valued at $13.5 million. The offer was presented late Saturday night but Martinez rejected it."

The article states that after the World Series, Pedro asked for three years at $13.5 million a year -- which is what Schilling is making. He said he was ready to sign for that. Boston countered with two guaranteed years at $12.75 million per -- and later offered that third year "begrudgingly." ... Reaction to Pedro's Mets press conference, from Karen Guregian and Silverman from the Herald and Dom Amore of the Courant.

Also from Friday, Gerry Callahan, Boston Herald: "On his first day in a Mets uniform, the New York media was asking about the special privileges he typically enjoys, and referring to him as 'a punk' and 'public enemy No. 1.' Pedro yesterday looked like a young kid who fell into the lions' cage at the zoo. At first he thought they were nice, cuddly animals like in the movies, but soon he realized they saw him as lunch. At one point, Minaya had to jump up and insist that the people of Queens are going to love Pedro. The other four boroughs we're not so sure about."

Michael Silverman has a long Q&A with Pedro -- an absolute must-read. ... Also, there is a nice piece on Edgar Renteria in the Globe.

Kevin Millar has told Theo Epstein that "I'm not going to platoon behind Doug Mientkiewicz, to be honest with you. I've proven myself here. ... I want to stay here 100 percent. This is my team and I would be crushed and devastated if I were to ever be traded because I love playing. I love the pressure. I love the media. I love the whole ball of wax. ... I'm not the best player, but there are intangibles I bring to the clubhouse and to a team that are just as important as the stats on my baseball card." ... Ack! Don't say the I-word! ... Snook also wants to play full-time: "I'm not 38 trying to hang on to a career. I feel I have a lot of good years left."

Minor league shortstop Hanley Ramirez, now in the Dominican Winter League, will miss about two weeks with soreness in his lower back.
Support This Troop! Michael Hoffman, 25-year-old Marine, co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War: "Being against the war is the only way to be for the troops. ... The honest truth needs to be told in order for this war to end. We've got to get these guys home now before another guy is killed on either side. This war would be over right now if people really understood the horror of it."

Hoffman also points out something that I keep saying -- if another country invaded the US, bombing, raping, torturing and killing Americans for absolutely no reason, "wouldn't we all be up in arms defending our country?"

December 16, 2004

Faith-Based Spelling. Reuters: "The word 'challenges' -- a main theme of a two-day White House economic conference that ended on Thursday -- was misspelled on a large television monitor that stood in front of Bush during a panel discussion. ... The White House had no immediate comment on the misspelling."



How many people do you think saw this sign before the conference? And no one noticed anything was amiss? For two days? ... Now maybe I'm just another "pointy-headed liberal" who thinks words should be spelled correctly. Or maybe -- since C+ Augustus never makes mistakes -- the world has been misspelling "challanges" incorrectly for generations.

December 15, 2004

Our New Shortstop. He is Edgar Renteria -- already beloved in RSN for making the final out of the 2004 season.

The Globe sayeth: "Renteria has agreed to a four-year $40 million contract with the Red Sox today ... 'The biggest reason was that Boston is a traditional team,' Renteria said poolside from his home in Colombia. 'They won the Series this year and I like to play on a winning team like Boston, St. Louis or any team that has the opportunity to win. ... It [Boston's offer] was more generous [than the Cardinals']. They were more interested in my playing for them.'"

Also: Possible Opening Day starter on April 3 at Yankee Stadium? David Wells.

December 14, 2004

Pedro Confirms Mets Signing. Speaking from the DR: "I only hope to honor my contract and to fulfill the expectations. We got what we wanted. The team and I are happy with everything. ... My heart will always be with the Boston fans. I hope that everyone who truly loves me will still support me now that I won't be with the Red Sox."

From today's Herald:

Gerry Callahan: "Only a guy consumed by greed could think that Queens is a better place to be a baseball star than Boston. The Mets, Pedro? Shea Stadium? ... [P]laying for the Mets is about as much fun as sitting on a backed-up runway at LaGuardia. In fact, it's the same damn thing. If you stand on the mound and breathe deeply, you can taste the exhaust from the jets. ... If you had spent the next three years here, every game you would have pitched would have been a big one. There would have been more playoff games, maybe more World Series. By Labor Day, the only hope the Mets will have is that Kris Benson will cheat on his wife."

Steve Buckley: "In the end, he took the offer to move to Shea Stadium because the Mets put more money on the table. Good for him, I guess, though I'm in the camp that believes this move is going to be a disaster, both for Martinez and the Mets. ... When Martinez struggled with the Red Sox, he still had a bank account of goodwill with the Fenway mob. He has no such goodwill, no history, with Mets fans. If Martinez struggles, he's going to discover that Shea is even uglier than he imagined."
When It Rains It Pours. First Pedro signs with the Stems. Then ...

Talks with Jason Varitek hit a snag Monday as Scott Boras is still asking for a no-trade clause.

Curt Schilling told WEEI listeners this morning that he will likely not be ready to pitch by Opening Day. His quotes can be found at BDD.

David Ortiz will be in Boston this week having his still-painful right shoulder re-examined. The exam is considered merely cautionary. Ortiz injured the shoulder on August 29 when Dale Sveum send him home on a ball hit to left field at Fenway. Ortiz made an awkward, head-first slide into home plate and was easily thrown out. Shithead Sveum will be coaching third next season, too.

Any good news? Yes. Boston rejected a trade that would have sent Kevin Youkilis to Tampa Bay for Julio Lugo -- and the insane Manny-to-the-Mets rumor seems to have died.

The teams discussed a deal on Sunday that would have sent Ramirez, Doug Mientkiewicz and cash to the Mets for Cliff Floyd and at least two prospects. ... Then, late Sunday night, the Mets asked for more cash. "Reportedly, this led to a harsh exchange between Sox general manager Theo Epstein and Mets GM Omar Minaya and the deal went from quite possible to unlikely."

Today's Globe reports that "a high-ranking Sox official said the team has no immediate interest in parting with Ramirez" and Epstein "left little doubt there was no substance to the prospect of Ramirez playing next season for the Mets."
We'll Always Have 2004. Jose Melendez has some great stuff on Pedro's Departure.
"There is no bitterness, no anger, no sharp pain. All that remains is warm memories of good times, and sadness that there will be no new memories, that the warmth and goodness are gone. Pedro will not come out of the bullpen with his arm dangling and still pitch six shutout innings again, he will not strike out 17 Yankees again, he will not don a Yoda mask in the Sox dugout again, he will never salsa dance on the Fenway turf again. ..."
Jose also put his Keys of 2004 into book form. I got mine in the mail a few days ago and it's excellent. Well worth the $. Get your copy here.

December 13, 2004

I Know It When I See It. Photoshop or no, this is a goddamn obscenity.

Two pictures: Pedro signing autographs (including one for me) in Ft. Myers in 2000.



And of course ....



Thank you, Pedro. For everything.
Oh. My. God. It was rumored a decision was coming today. And it did.

Pedro Martinez is a New York Met.
Three major league sources confirmed to the Boston Globe that Martinez and the New York Mets agreed to terms on a four-year, $50 million deal this afternoon. The contract is pending Martinez passing a physical. ... Boston's final proposal was a $30.5 million, three-year deal that contained a club option for 2008 ...
I did not expect this. Once Boston agreed to a third year, it seemed obvious that Martinez would return. I am stunned.

All I can say now is: It was an honor to watch Pedro pitch for the Red Sox -- he towered over the sport in 1999-2000 like no pitcher in the history of the game had ever done -- and I'm thrilled he helped bring a World Series title to Boston. Unlike a lot of Red Sox fans, I never disliked Pedro for what some called his "diva act". My take: you pitch like that, you can do whatever you damn well please.

Well, I can watch him pitch in person a lot more often now. ...

December 12, 2004

Sox Busy At Meetings. According to the Courant, the Red Sox "were the talk of the winter meetings Saturday, with deals for David Wells, Edgar Renteria, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek and John Halama all reported as either done or 'on the verge' of completion."

Speaking of financial risk, Theo Epstein said, "One way you can potentially mitigate the risk is to try to find a pitcher, when healthy, who performs at a high level and is a really good fit, and to try to structure a contract that mitigates the risk for you." He didn't specifically mention Wells. ... He added: "There is only so much pie and we have to decide how we're going to cut it up," Epstein said. "You can't just say, 'I want him, him and him.' When you sign someone, you foreclose on another opportunity. ... We're not going to have a perfect team."

It looks like Jaret Wright failed his Yankees physical, so New York's 3/21 deal may be canceled. ... The Washington Post reports that Boston, Baltimore, Detroit and Seattle all offered Carl Pavano more money than the Yankees did. The Herald says Boston's offer was for four years and "at least $9 million a year."

Both the Red Sox and Yankees are eyeing Carlos Delgado. ... In a possible deal with San Diego that involves Dave Roberts, Jay Payton and Ramon Vazquez, Byung-Hyun Kim's name has also come up. ... The Edgar Renteria deal remains in limbo.

After Boston inquired about the availability Kaz Matsui, the Mets allegedly asked about getting Manny Ramirez and Doug Mientkiewicz for Matsui and Mike Piazza. According to Newsday, "the Sox "viewed extensive video of [Matsui's] play with the Mets last year and concluded that the bulk of his 23 errors at shortstop could be attributed to Mike Piazza's poor play at first base."

Elsewhere, the Arizona Diamondbacks have shown that they are truly insane. After pleading poverty and dumping payroll for the last few years after overpaying for dubious talent, the Snakes are back to their old tricks. They handed Russ Ortiz a 4/33 deal, then signed the oft-injured Troy Glaus to a 4/45 guaranteed package that also includes a $250,000 stipend for Glaus's wife's equestrian hobby. ... Tim Hudson to the Dodgers? Not yet.

From Out Of Town:

New York Daily News: "Funny how one Red Sox championship seems to have changed everything in baseball's world order. Suddenly the Yankees seem to be chasing their hated rivals in the offseason now too ... No sooner had Theo Epstein found another way to tweak The Boss, making a serious offer to David Wells yesterday, than word spread through these winter meetings that the Yankees were pursuing their old friend as well."

NYDN: "Red Sox Arms Getting Old Fast" and "Bosox Give Wells Fat Deal" and Dominican Is Sox Country

Toronto Sun: "Boston's Animal House Has Found Its Bluto"

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Boston Cornering Market On 'Idiots'"
Pulling Up Short? Dirt Dog sez: "Theo Refutes ESPN Report on Renteria. Still Shopping for Shortstops, Might Address Through Trade" ... And: "Varitek and Pedro Signings May Be Finalized Sunday"

December 11, 2004

Three Moves. Coming fast and furious:

1. The Red Sox sign shortstop Edgar Renteria to a four-year deal worth about $40 million.

2. The Red Sox sign LHP John Halama to a one-year contract for $1 million.

3. The Yankees sign Carl Pavano for four years and $44 million.
Winter Meetings Underway In Anaheim. So what's going on?

David Wells: The former Yankee lardass has signed a two-year deal with the World Champion Red Sox. I'm not thrilled with this pickup, but it does seem to be a low-risk move. Wells's base salary for each season will be $2.5 million (plus a $3 million signing bonus), so only $8 million is guaranteed. There are performance incentives that could be worth another $10 million. Wells (who turns 42 in May) will take a physical Tuesday.

Pedro Martinez: There are rumors that Pedro is close to resigning. John Henry and Larry Lucchino met with Martinez in the Dominican Republic last Wednesday and today's Herald reports that the team has guaranteed the third year of their offer. As far as possibly playing at Shea Stadium, David Ortiz says: "He ain't going to no Mets."

From Dirtdogs: "CBS4's Dan Roche reports that the Martinez 'social visit' went so well that Pedro and the Red Sox are now finalizing a three-year contract worth $40 million. Only small details remain. Deal expected to be official in 24-48 hours." ... Epstein has denied that story and David Heuschkel of the Courant writes that Martinez "has received lukewarm endorsements from teammates, who wouldn't mind seeing Pedro replaced by Carl Pavano or another pitcher ... What won't get done: Getting Martinez back in the fold before the meetings end."

Carl Pavano: He's at home north of Montreal considering the seven contract offers he has received. The Providence Journal hints Boston may be the front-runner, based on a comment from Marlins pitcher A.J. Burnett about the addition of Al Leiter to Florida's staff. "I'm looking forward to working with [Leiter]. You can learn a beaucoup amount from this guy, just like Pavano's going to have a chance, probably, in Boston to pick Curt Schilling's brain." ... The Palm Beach Post reported on Thursday that both Burnett and another Marlins player (unnamed) believe Pavano will sign with the Red Sox.

Other pitching options are vanishing: Jon Lieber signed with the Phillies, Brad Radke returned to the Twins and Tim Hudson might be traded to Atlanta. Note: Radke apparently was set to ink a three-year deal with Boston last Tuesday before Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson stepped in.

Jason Varitek: Theo: "Jason's a priority for us, that's no secret. We don't want to build a team without Jason." ... In other backstop news, Doug Mirabelli underwent minor surgery this week to repair cartilage damage in his knee.

Matt Mantei: The RHP signed a one-year contract Wednesday and, once healthy, hopes to be an important part of the Red Sox bullpen. "[Schilling] told me I'm going to love pitching in Boston, because I'm the kind of guy who thrives in an intense atmosphere. I really can't wait to open that bullpen door for the first time at Fenway." After getting $7 million from the Diamondbacks in 2004, Mantei will pitch for the Sox in 2005 for a mere $750,000.

David Ortiz: The Man will not play winter ball with the Escogido Lions as he has for the past seven years, choosing instead to make sure his right shoulder is ready for spring training.

Julio Lugo: Boston offered Kevin Millar in trade for the Devil Rays shortstop, but Tampa said No.

On Tuesday, Boston offered salary arbitration to Martinez, Varitek, Derek Lowe, Pedro Astacio, Mike Myers, Orlando Cabrera, Pokey Reese and David McCarty. Epstein also said the negotiations with various players might be a "a long process."

More Theo, who is in his third winter as GM: "I think we're balancing the interests of the fans for immediate action with our interests, which is to just be patient and do the right thing. We have to balance the interests between short-term contracts, long-term contracts, older players, younger players, pitching and defense vs. offense. There's a right answer out there somewhere and it usually takes all off-season to find it, if you ever do."

Other Players: The Red Sox and Padres have talked about a Dave Roberts-for-Ramon Vazquez/Jay Payton deal. The Giants are also interested in Roberts. ... Boston also remains interested in Edgar Renteria. ... Minor-league RHP Tim Bausher was claimed off waivers from the Rockies. ... Nomar Garciaparra signed with the Cubs for 2005. ... And NESN has cut Friday night announcer Sean McDonough, choosing to go with the Remy/Orsillo combo full-time.

December 6, 2004

How's It Going? In "the war of ideas or the struggle for hearts and minds [of Iraqis], American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended ... elevat[ing] the stature of, and support for, radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single digits in some Arab societies. ...

"Muslims do not 'hate our freedoms', but rather, they hate our policies. ... Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. ... US actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination. ...

"American actions have elevated the authority of the jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. ... The war has increased mistrust of America in Europe, weakened support for the war on terrorism and undermined US credibility worldwide. ... [There is a perception] of the US as arrogant, hypocritical and self-indulgent. ... There is no yearning-to-be-liberated-by-the-US groundswell among Muslim societies ..."

So what bleeding-heart, troop-hating, lefty, tree-hugger wrote the above three paragraphs? Uh, actually, it was the Pentagon.

***

Arbeit macht frei! Boston Globe: "The US military is drawing up plans to keep insurgents from regaining control of this battle-scarred city [Fallujah] ... Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. ... One idea that has stirred debate among Marine officers would require all men to work, for pay, in military-style battalions. Depending on their skills, they would be assigned jobs in construction, waterworks, or rubble-clearing platoons."

***

I'm out of town this week. Nothing until Friday, at the earliest.

December 5, 2004

A Full Plate. A Red Sox team source told the Herald that the Jason Varitek situation is "very solvable. ... Boras knows we're not going to a no-trade ... [but] the deal is already effectively a no-trade deal after year three (because of Varitek's 10-5 rights).

Varitek's latest offer to the Red Sox would allow the club to void a proposed five-year contract after four years because of injury. Varitek says he's making every effort to re-sign short of "shooting myself in the foot. ... [W]e've made some progress. We've come off five years while still allowing me to have the opportunity to have five years."

On keeping Varitek -- Schilling: "It's incredibly important. I've talked to him quite a bit in the last month. He's the guy I'm most concerned about." Mirabelli: "I think it's impossible for the Red Sox to let him go. We can't fill his shoes. He fills so many different roles on the team, his durability and leadership. I think it would be devastating to this team if Jason Varitek isn't back."

Some Sox were shocked when Pedro Martinez met with the Yankees, "struggl[ing] to shake the image of Martinez making nice with their archrivals. 'I was surprised that Pedro went there,' Curt Schilling said ... [C]ould Schilling actually imagine Martinez in pinstripes? 'No, God, no,' he said. 'Not after this year. No way.'"

Newsday's David Lennon says the Mets were "cautiously optimistic" about signing Pedro Martinez, but are now "more confident" since Boston will not offer Martinez a fourth year. While the Mets wait for Pedro's counter-offer, they are also wondering how they can sweeten the deal, if necessary.

Because of the Red Sox's firm stance (which I agree with (though I now wonder if they'd consider some type of Tek-like injury clause for that extra season)), it looks like Martinez's choice (assuming no other team, like Anaheim, gets involved) comes down to: three years in Boston or four years in Shea.

For a World Series celebration in Ft. Myers next week, the Red Sox did not invite Derek Lowe, who lives in that Florida town. The team claims Lowe was "unavailable," but he says, "They never called." ... Kevin Millar and Doug Mientkiewicz are both being shopped (at least one of them will not be back). ... Larry Lucchino says the World Series trophy will visit all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts between now and Opening Day. ... Hey Red Sox: There's more than a few Sox fans in New York who'd like to see it also!

Gordon Edes of the Globe asks: "What if baseball had a steroid scandal and nobody cared?" ... Schilling offers his two cents. ... Gammons mentions an MSNBC report that three Yankees -- Giambi, Sheffield and Kevin Brown -- are now involved in the developing scandal.

The Yankees sent Kenny Lofton and cash to the Phillies for setup man Felix Rodriguez and reacquired Mike Stanton from the Mets. They also gave up on Randy Johnson because they felt the Diamondbacks' demands were too high.

December 1, 2004

Will Pedro Shea Goodbye To Sox? According to today's Globe, after meeting with Pedro in Miami, Red Sox executives "harbor concerns about whether he even wants to continue his career [in Boston]. ... [O]fficials came away privately wondering whether Martinez believes he would be happier elsewhere."

By the way, last December, Pedro mentioned the Mets as a team "I feel I can play for ... I've pitched well, really well, in Shea Stadium, so I always have that team in mind." Various reports say that a fourth guaranteed year won't be a sticking point for Pedro, which is good for Boston, because while the Red Sox may offer a third guaranteed year, four years ain't happening.

If Orlando Cabrera is serious about a 4- or 5-year deal, then the Cabrera Era is over. Hanley Ramirez is on track for the 2006 shortstop spot, so Boston is looking for someone to simply keep the infield dirt warm. Possibilities: Jose Valentin, Jeff Kent, Edgar Renteria, Barry Larkin, Royce Clayton and Rich Aurilia. ... Doug Mirabelli signed a two-year extension worth $3 million.

Today's Projo reported that the Sox had restarted trade talks for Randy Johnson, but now there's news that Arizona and New York have worked out a deal. If the Yankees, who you might have heard became the first team in major league history to lose a best-of-7 series after leading 3-0, have grabbed Johnson, does that mean they have decided not to pursue Pedro?
Political Stuff. I encourage everyone to go here -- and go back every other day or so. An excellent source of news.

I expect to hear noises about a draft of some sort next year. And while the US military is stretched paper-thin even now, I don't see the need for a general draft. Bush received more than 60,000,000 votes in the November election. If only 10% of those people volunteered to support their Commander-in-Chief, that would mean an additional six million new troops -- way more than the roughly 135,000 soldiers in Iraq right now.

Look at the list of US troops killed in Iraq (now at least 1,255). The range of ages is 18 to 59 (though most casualties have been 19-22). I'm sure that the vast majority of Bush voters are between 18 and 59 years old, so I see no excuse not to fill out an enlistment form. Right war, right time, right place -- isn't that what those people voted for?
Three Days Of Pedro. From the New York papers:

Monday, November 29
Willie: I'd Love To Have Pedro (Post)
Call Mets Crazy, but Martinez Is a Serious Option (Times)
Pedro worth a short risk (Daily News)

Tuesday, November 30
Mets Top Red Sox in Offer to Martinez (Times)
Amazin' Overture (Post)
Mets deliver Pedro's pitch (Daily News)
Minaya, Martinez get serious (Newsday)
Pedro is a big mistake (Newsday)
Yankees Play Waiting Game With Pedro (Post)

Wednesday, December 1
Mets Coach: Pedro Can Be Our Clemens (Post)
Martinez and Mets May Not Be a Match (Times)
In Pedro's hands (Daily News)
Omar is pushing the envelope (Newsday)