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Monday, October 31, 2005


That's my response to the news that Theo Epstein has left the Sox because he suspects Lucchino of, essentially, dumping on him publicly via Dan Shaughnessy's column in the Sunday Globe.
Theo is convinced the leak to DS was LL, and sees this is extremely bad faith on LL's part.
Lucchino is an arrogant, I'm-always-right-kind-of-guy and as interesting as he is on the radio, or at least personable, he is also an asshole and you can hear it in his responses, and his refusal to comment.
You may think, so what, Theo is overrated, and that anyone can win here. You forget 1) that Theo rebuilt a miserable farm system into a powerful source of talent (Papelbon, Hansen, et al.), and 2) Theo is a symbol to many, many people of the new Red Sox and is connected forever to the first World Series championship in 86 years.
I, for one, like the Sox so much in no small measure because it was the wunderkind Epstein who managed the Sox to this pinnacle. He was brilliant.
If the new Sox owners are just another set of arrogant pricks, with a bottomline-first approach to the business of baseball, and have decided that one championship is sufficient to start raking in the money - is that the real goal of their ownership? - and just don't care anymore about how the team performs - and there are hints that this was the case in the failure to secure pitching when they needed it this past season - screw the Sox. I'll go back to being a Nationals fan, as I was when they were the Senators, the Senators again, and then the Twins.
Oh, and as I have always said, Dan Shaughnessy hates sports, hates sports people, hates players, etc., that do not meet some standards that only he defines - some arcane, hidden set of standards that are summed up as, "I only like people who think I am god." Shaughnessy has injected himself into the story - a fatal flaw for any true journalist. Hope he and Larry enjoy sleeping together.
Good luck, Sox, signing people that are any good - and, yes, I believe that losing Theo will absolutely hurt getting players to stay here. It will not hurt getting players who come from other teams. Say good-bye to Manny, Damon, and perhaps Tito, Ortiz, Schilling - yeah, that's hyperbole, but expect the unexpected for the next few months.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Not that you should care but how about them Yankees?

Mussina was his usual self - the usual self of the last few months. Inconsistent at best.
A collision in right center between Crosby and Sheffield that might have been avoided if Williams were playing center.
A mental error by Giambi.
The game was lost by the Yankees as much as won by the Angels with "relief" pitchers Randy Johnson and Ervin Santana providing the quality performances.
The good things are that we do not have to watch the Yankees any more and that the Angels - White Sox series might be interesting, if the Angels can get some pitching out of their depleted and wounded staff. The Yankees are done - at least this version. Too many old players past their prime and perhaps headed for retirement along with Bernie. And no one of quality to replace them - Alex Rodriguez was invisible, while Cano looked pretty good. Martinez, Williams, Sheffield - gone, I think.
The World Series will be interesting when Houston meets - and beats - the White Sox.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fire up the stove . . .

and keep it stoked for the next few months, since nothing is imminent about deals for the Sox, starting with Theo's.
What is the thinking among the brain trust for the Sox - Lucchino, Henry, et al. - when they leave Theo's salary at $350K after his leading the organization to the World Series? when they do not make any overture to discuss the next contract with him for the entire season?
This smells like business to me - in the worst sense of the word, in the sense that they perhaps did not trust his success last year and decided to wait and see this year. Did they dislike his work - Clement was a (typical, historical) post-All Star Game bust and useless in the crunch when the Schillings' and Wells's of the world get tough; Renteria appears to have been hurt most of the year and produced nothing like what he had done historically; nothing came of the Manny talks when they needed to do something before the trade deadline. Are they holding these things against him and intending to use 2005 results to balance the unmitigated success of 2004?
If they are, and we don't know that this is the case, then they are businessmen in the worst sense of that term - willing to rake in profits this year at any cost, even by still underpaying the manager of the year in 2004. They would have paid Billy Beane much much more; Lucchino tagged Theo early and mentored him, now to leave him to the marketplace, where success in the bitter, cynical market of Boston has prepared him for every other GM job in baseball except perhaps Cashman's.
I don't get it. What was the point of waiting this long? Sticking to the letter of the contract terms for a clear leader like Theo and waiting until the end of the contract to talk about the next one is the tactic of people who want to low-ball him or worse, are looking for someone else. It has the aroma of cynicism behind it, as if the owners have somehow been infected by the know-it-all, want-it-now, what-have-you-done-for-me-today fans that shout their brilliance on 'EEI.
Yeah, sports is a business - but it is not like every other business - the product is the people on the court and field and while they are often treated as commodities or worse, the assembly of the right ones to make a run at a title, such as baseball's which requires 162 test just to get into the tournament, is almost as much art as data and keeping it running well for all those tests is more art and intuition than science and data. I hope the owners recognize that.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I got this postcard by email today - great sense of humor, huh?

Here is how I replied to my Mets-fan friend (he hates the Yankees, but likes to tweak Sox fans):

The better team won - after he was hit in the head (and after the All-Star break as usual), Clement was worthless.
Gone next year - Mueller, Millar, Olerud (Konerko may end up here), Ramirez (that will be the end of this team's competitiveness since no one will be there to protect Ortiz and he'll never see a hittable pitch), Arroyo, Foulke, maybe Timlin - new pitchers will include Delcarmen, Papelbon (better than any 24-year-old but maybe Jenks), Hansen.

Gone from the Yankees - Williams, Martinez, Sheffield, Brown, Pavano, maybe more - hey, the Yankees are done, too - Johnson was the Big Loser last night; he could have used whatever Giambi was taking the second half of the season.

To the Mets - Ramirez, making them more formidable; still need pitching.

The Sox never had it this season, "it" being the depth of pitching and hitting they needed to advance in the post-season. Too many injuries at key positions at the wrong times. No faulting Tito in this, despite what the radio nitwits say: he played the hand he had when he had it. One more win or even two might have put them in first, but then they play the Angels, and that would not have been much different an outcome than this one. Imagine seeing Orlando Cabrera play short and drive in key runs! Fans would go crazy.

Personally, I would have left Papelbon in in the 9th until one runner got on base, then gone to Timlin. I know, I know, Timlin has a bad record when he does not start an inning, but I think with no outs and one man on, he could have been effective - except that he did not look like the tough guy he has been last night, completely falling apart after the double. To me he did not look ready to pitch, mentally . . . I wonder if he thought he would not pitch unless the Sox tied or took the lead.

Maybe I am giving the team a mulligan this year, but without a healthy Schilling, a healthy Foulke (for that I blame Foulke and do not expect him back), and, yeah, start bitching now, without Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, they were not going to make it to the big dance, no matter how well Ortiz and Ramirez hit. And once and for all, I am not in favor of trading Ramirez - the only equivalent players are people like Guerrero or Pujols and they are not coming here.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Well, here they go again . . . or do they?

They stunk yesterday, and we saw some of that last year. But this is not last year's team - they lack a hard-ass pitcher like Pedro (yes, Pedro, and screw all of you who are ranting about him shutting it down in New York; he is not here anymore! and when he was, he was always the best pitcher the Sox had!) who refused to give in and who had the pitches and the mentality to pitch in games that mattered, even when he did not have great stuff.
They lack a Derek Lowe - yes, Lowe, who sucked most of last year, but also had post-season, big-game experience.
They lack THE Curt Schilling - you know, the one with the bloody sock. Today's Curt Schilling is still a battler, but lacks the command on the mound and the command of the pitches that he must have to win. He will fight, but with lesser weapons, he is a lesser pitcher.
They have David Wells - and thank God they do.
They have Tim Wakefield - and we may (or may not) thank God. Let's hope the White Sox do not hire the same "retired knuckleballer" that the Yankees used. Ozzie would never admit that he needs help, so I doubt they will prep with a knuckleballer.
They have Bronson Arroyo - too bad he is not ready for prime time.
They have Jonathan Papelbon - thank God. Let's hope he gets to work in a game that matters.
They have Craig Hansen - he may be good, may not be, but he is better against more kinds of batters than Bradford or Myers.
What they still have are hard-ass regular players like Ortiz, Ramirez, Varitek, etc. Those guys cannot pitch, however, and that's too bad.
Tito better find a way to win this one or the off-season starts tomorrow or, at the latest, Friday.