Archive for November, 2007

Reunited and it feels so good

The more things change in Major League Baseball, the more they stay the same. I know that it is still early in the offseason, but I can’t help but to be a little amused that the Yankees and the Red Sox haven’t made any new acquisitions. Both teams have elected to re-sign their own free agents and have resorted to pretty much put the same teams on the field as last season. Are both teams that content with last year’s lineups? Or is the free agent market that inflated with overpriced and overrated talent? Either way, I was expecting both teams to make some upgrades by now.

Looking at both teams, it’s obvious that the Yankees have more holes than the Sox. They have a lousy bullpen that features an overpriced and rapidly declining Mariano Rivera. They have a starting rotation that may be losing Andy Pettitte. Mix in big-game choker Chien-ming Wang and three unproven youngsters in Phillip Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain, and this may be the area of the biggest need for the Evil Empire. I have been impressed the last couple of seasons that the Yankees have given their farm system a chance to develop and have avoided trading these guys. Let’s see if this patience pays off for them. It could be long year (I hope) for the Yankees.

The Red Sox have some holes of their own. Although not as glaring as the Yankees, there are some needs to be addressed. First and foremost, the Red Sox infield appears to be locked in for the next three years. Youk, Pedroia, Lugo, and Lowell have proven that they play great defense and they make each other look better. The outfield of Drew, Ellsbury, and Manny looks good for next year, but this will be without a doubt Manny’s last year in Boston. The Sox are going to have to keep an eye open for someone to replace his offense. I have no idea who this could be, but I’m sure it will be addressed.

The biggest concerns for the Red Sox in 2008 are their bench and backup catcher. There is going to be some major overhaul here. I would keep Alex Cora since he can play several positions, even though he is an offensive liability. I would try to keep Bobby Kielty, since he hit the game winning home run in game four of the World Series, not to mention he is a switch hitter. I would use Coco Crisp to land a quality backup catcher that can learn from Jason Varitek and be his eventual replacement. Gerald Laird of the Rangers is a name that has been mentioned in possible trade for Coco, which I think makes sense for both teams.

Being a Red Sox fan/Yankee hater, I am content with the Red Sox keeping their World Series team together for a chance to defend their title. I am also really happy that the Yankees decided to re-sign perennial loser/team cancer/MVP Alex Rodriquez and keep the rest of the team as it was. This guy has shown that he can lose at every level of baseball. Mix in a lousy bullpen, tax evading shortstop, the league’s highest payroll, and two crazy owners for the price of one, and next year should be no different for New York, as they sit at home watching Boston win another title.

Let’s make a deal

Am I the only one getting tired of the New York Yankees dominating another offseason of headlines? Every day it’s something new. If it’s not A-Rod opting out of his contract, only to go back and beg for his old job back, it’s Jorge Posada signing a ridiculous 5 year/$50 million contract. (For the record, Posada will be 53 when the contract expires.)

Now I hear that the Yankees have an offer on the table to bring in Mike Lowell as their new first baseman. You read that right, the Red Sox MVP and World Series hero may be joining the Evil Empire. I just vomited a little in my mouth.

It’s common knowledge that Boston is willing to give Lowell a three year deal. It’s also common knowledge that Lowell is insisting on a minimum of four years. I don’t see either side budging. Now, I don’t begrudge Mike Lowell for trying to get as much money as he can. This is the first time that he has been a free agent and he should explore every opportunity. He’ll be 34 when the season starts and has already won two World Series titles, so this will probably be his last contract in the Major Leagues. But Lowell is a career .280 hitter who had a monster season at the most opportune time. His swing is tailor-made for Fenway, and if he goes elsewhere, he won’t match the offensive output he had in 2007 – no matter where he goes. Lowell is a class act, but I agree with Boston on not going to four years on the contract.

Mike Lowell has earned the right to try and maximize a deal. But dear lord, sign with a team like the Phillies. Not the damn Yankees.

This brings me to the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. It’s time for the Sox to make a big splash. These guys are the world champs, let’s start acting like it instead of sitting back watching the Yankees dictate the market. The Sox need to be proactive and land the biggest player out there. I’m talking about Johan Santana.

If I’m Theo Epstein, I would call the Minnesota Twins and offer a deal of Coco Crisp, Jon Lester and Craig Hansen. Heck, I would even throw in Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year Jed Lowrie in the deal. I would do any deal possible to land Santana. This would give the Sox two #1 pitchers on the staff. A double-headed monster of Beckett and Santana would dominate the American League for several years. Boston needs to do whatever it takes to make a Santana deal happen.

With the big name settled, it’s time to look at Mike Lowell’s replacement at third. My buddy and loyal thefoulline.com reader Fergie proposed making a deal for Scott Rolen of the St. Louis Cardinals. My initial thought was that this guy is too injury prone and struggled offensively last year. But as I have thought more about it, the idea is starting to grow on me. Rolen is great defensively, and with hitting coach Dave Magadan’s influence, he could regain his offensive prowess. At only $12 million a season, the Sox would have the chance to buy low, and it might only cost a decent minor leaguer or draft pick.

This is not the time for Boston to bask in the glory of their World Series Championship. This team is going to need to make improvements if they hope to challenge for the title again next season.

On to more important matters
Here’s this week’s softball update from Dylan.

“Get your sunglasses on and buy your tickets to the Gatorz Laser Show”

In a game that was a lot closer then the 24-0 score implies, the young lads from Gatorz Bar and Grill improved to 14-2 on the year to close out the regular season in first place, with the claim that they beat every team in the league at least once by over 20 runs. More impressive was that the Gatorz team for the first time in four weeks didn’t get into a fight during the game with the opposing team.

Thefoullline.com’s own Dylan Hamilton had an off night at the plate, going 3-6 with three singles and four RBIs. “The crew at 84 decided to shred my abs to pieces in a workout on Tuesday night,” Hamilton said. “I had no bat speed without a crushing pain. No pain, no gain, I guess.”

Hamilton led the team in average this year, batting .725 for the season, and on paper was tied for home runs, although Dylan feels the team stat keeper may have missed a dinger or two. “I hit a monster shot against D/M Construction, but I think Allison was talking to her husband when the ball was hit. She may be on the trading block this offseason if that keeps up.” But the offseason speculations will have to wait, as Gatorz Bar and Grill starts the postseason this coming week in a grueling two-losses-and-you’re-out tournament. The Gatorz Boys should be the overwhelming favorite to win the title.

~Dylan “I wonder if my softball team can open next season in Japan too” Hamilton

Josh Beckett got hosed

The Cy Young award is officially the biggest joke in baseball.

Leave it to a bunch of sportswriters to screw it up. How can these guys vote on this award before the season is over? Isn’t the postseason when people see which pitchers shine, and which pitchers wilt on the big stage? If these dumbass sportswriters waited two weeks they would have seen the glaring difference between C.C. Sabathia and Josh Beckett. Instead they made their choice based on the regular season.

If you did a head-to-head contest based on the regular season it was a close race. Sabathia pitched more innings and had a lower ERA then Beckett. Josh Beckett on the other hand led the majors in wins with 20 and proved to be the ace of the staff.

Now let’s talk about the playoffs, where Josh Beckett went 4-0 and had 1.29 ERA and was the second coming of Don Drysdale. Beckett dominated every game he pitched and was hands down the best player on the field. Sabathia, on the other hand, looked like the second coming of Calvin Schiraldi, touting a 10.45 ERA. This guy was in a neck-and-neck competition with Fausto Carmona to see who could look worse on the mound. But looking bad on the mound is nothing new to fat-ass Sabathia.

This guy needs to take a long look in the mirror, provided that he can find one big enough, and realize that he stole this award from Beckett. It’s easy to play in relative obscurity when you play in Cleveland, but when the ALCS rolls around it’s time to bring your A-game. Sabathia had the deer-in-the-headlights look throughout the series with Boston and it showed in his horrendous performances.

This is a bullshit award. The writers got it wrong.

Dustin Pedroia wins Rookie of the Year

I wrote a post on September 1st about how Dustin Pedroia was the baddest man in Boston. Today he confirmed it. After a great season playing second base for the Red Sox, Pedroia was honored as the American League Rookie of the Year.

Dustin Pedroia became the first Red Sox player to win the award since 1997, when some guy named Nomar Garciaparra won it. Let’s hope that Pedroia can mirror the same career that Nomar enjoyed, minus the nagging injuries and weird batting routine.

It was released a few days ago that Pedroia played the last two months of the season with a broken hand. So let me get this straight, he’s 5 and a half feet tall, 170 pounds, played with one hand and still hit over .300 in the postseason? This guy might not be just the baddest man in Boston, he might be the baddest man in the country.

This has been a pretty successful offseason so far for the Red Sox and individual awards. First, Kevin Youkilis wins a much deserved Gold Glove, followed by Pedroia winning the ROY. Now if there is any justice in this world, Josh Beckett will take home the Cy Young award tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

Ray of light

Attention Foulliners!

We now have reason to start to fear the professional baseball team from Tampa Bay. While every other team has been working the phone lines and meeting players this offseason trying to improve lineups, Tampa Bay may have made the biggest splash so far. I’m not talking about them signing Alex Rodriguez, or making a push for Johan Santana. No, Tampa has finally found the formula for immediate success. They have officially changed their name from the “Devil Rays” to the “Rays.” Wow! Watch out Major League Baseball; this team is not messing around.

I imagine the Tampa brass meeting at the end of another disappointing season where they finished in the AL East cellar. How could they turn this team into a legitimate contender?

Add some veteran players to provide some leadership to the young talent? Nope.
Add a quality starting pitcher? No thanks.
Re-sign AL comeback player of the year and team MVP Carlos Pena? Maybe.
Improve the worst bullpen in baseball? No way!

Remove two syllables from the team name? BINGO!!

I really like this move. I always found the name Devil Rays so cumbersome to say. This is obviously the reason why this team has sucked since its inception. Not because the owners are cheapskates that refuse to increase payroll, or because Tropicana Field is a glorified warehouse. It’s because they picked the wrong name.

I am so glad to see this young franchise finally find the recipe for success. Now if I could suggest a new team slogan for the 2008 season.

Tampa Bay Rays: Exorcising our demons, but still stinking up the league.

The Eight Million Dollar Man

Curt Schilling has been called a lot of things over the years. Arrogant, blowhard, and egomaniac, just to name a few. But after Tuesday’s announcement it’s time to add one more: loyal.
It was announced that Schilling signed a one-year, $8 million deal (plus incentives) to remain a member of the World Champion Boston Red Sox.

Even at the ripe old age of 41, Schilling was the cream of the crop for free agent starting pitchers. From day one of the free agent signing period Schilling was being heavily recruited by several teams. His name seemed to come up in every rumor, with teams like the Phillies and the Astros being the most vocal. It was a no-brainer that Schilling could have guaranteed himself a 2-year deal in the range of $25-30 million in guaranteed money to go play for another team. In this day and age of athletes holding out to squeeze out every dime from team owners, and players more concerned with the name on the back of the jersey instead of the name on the front, it’s refreshing when someone puts the team first and wants to play for a winner.

One more year of Schilling in the clubhouse will provide a huge boost in the development of Boston’s young pitchers. Now Clay Buchholz won’t be forced into the starting rotation, and can continue to mature as a pitcher.

What I especially like about this contract is that Schilling was the one to insert a weight clause. After coming in to Spring Training in 2007 like he was on a tour of New England all-you-can-eat buffets during the winter, Schilling was embarrassed about the scrutiny about his weight and the fact that he broke down early in the season. With this new deal, Schilling is going to show baseball fans why he is one of the games great competitors and will end his career on his terms.
Curt Schilling will continue to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, mentor to the young staff, and unofficial Red Sox press secretary this year, all this for the low, low price of $8 million.

Maybe it’s time to throw away the old list used to describe Schilling and start a new one.
I think this one can start with “Winner.”

TheFoulLine.com Hot Stove Report

I love watching Major League Baseball. Some people complain that the 162-game season is too long, but not me. I think they should make it 200 games a year. Baseball is the one sport that can deliver for seven months straight. People say that baseball is boring, but turn on ESPN during the baseball season and you will consistently see the best highlights in all of sports. Huge home runs, acrobatic catches, collisions at the plate.

Think about it: the NFL is fun to watch, but if they were to add more games to the schedule, teams would be so beat up when the playoffs started that nobody would want to watch. Not to mention, everyone already knew the Patriots were going to win the Super Bowl in week one.

This brings me to the other “major”sport, the NBA. Remember when basketball was must-see TV? Back when Jordan, Bird, Magic, Barkley and the Mailman were playing, basketball was worth watching. Now the NBA has turned into which team can dunk the most, or who can shoot the most three-pointers. Bring back some bounce passes and some quality team defense and I might tune in.

There used to be another major sport involving pucks and sticks that I really enjoyed. But then came the lockout, the stupid Versus Network contract, and the Anaheim Ducks vs. Ottawa Senators Stanley Cup final. And just like that, hockey became irrelevant.

The other thing that makes baseball a year-long sport is the Hot Stove League. The World Series ended 10 days ago and we are still reading about MLB in the papers. Why is this? Because every baseball fan in the offseason channels their inner George Costanza and thinks that they can be the General Manager for their favorite team. I certainly do. I have already worked out deals in my head that would add Johan Santana, Alex Rodriguez, and Torii Hunter to the Red Sox. Of course, the Sox payroll would be $300 million a year, but it’s not my money, so who cares. Speculating which players are going where and what your team is going to look like for the upcoming season makes following baseball fun year round.

Which brings me to some quick Red Sox Hot Stove Notes:

  • It looks like Curt Schilling will be signing a one-year deal with Boston. I am really happy about this for a couple of reasons. First of all, Schilling was a solid pitcher once he got himself in shape. Secondly, this gives him another year to tutor Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Finally, after being a big part of two Red Sox World Series Championship teams, he should retire as a Red Sox.
  • We all know that Jacoby Ellsbury will be the starting centerfielder for Boston next year. I would like to see the Red Sox get a good, young backup catcher for Coco Crisp.
  • I think that there is a 50/50 chance of Mike Lowell coming back. I don’t see the Sox giving him a four-year deal. I think it’s going to be either 3 years/$40 million for Lowell or the Sox make a trade for Miguel Cabrera from the Florida Marlins.
  • There are rumors that Boston is looking into acquiring Johan Santana. If there is any chance to get this guy, give the Twins anyone they want. Beckett and Santana heading up a rotation would be scary.
  • Also, Dylan “Just Call Me Jacoby Ellsbury” Hamilton went 4 for 4 in his men’s softball league game last night and was one single away from hitting for the cycle. If he keeps this up, Boston will have to seriously consider inviting him to Spring Training.

Dylan’s letter to Red Sox Nation

Another inspiring post from Dylan “And you may ask yourself, how can I serve Red Sox Nation bigger and better this offseason?” Hamilton.

Dear Red Sox Nation,

I know, I know, this has been a crazy week. I mean, wow, World Series champs……..again. I hope you all have had a great work week, wearing some form of Sox gear almost everyday and simply basking in the victory. I also hope everyone had a chance to be at, or at least watch the parade on the duck boats. Papelbon truly earned the right to be called the craziest man in baseball with his performance this year in the parade. So, I hope this letter truly finds everyone well.

I’m listening to the Talking Heads song “Once In a Lifetime” right now. You know the one, it has the chorus, “and you may find yourself, in another part of the world, and you may find yourself, in a beautiful house…” Well, and you may find yourself, as World Series champs, and you ask yourself, “well, how did I get here?” It’s a good song. Anyways, the purpose of this letter is that I know some of you are feeling a little out of place after winning this World Series. I talked about it a few days ago in my last post on here, how this title feels different. Well, I’m sending you all this letter to outline what we need to do this offseason, not as trades or signings, I’m not talking about the team here. This letter is from me to you, from Dylan to the entire Red Sox Nation.

First of all, winning the World Series on Sunday night is perfect for the Mon-Fri 9-5′ers. Come in to work Monday a little rough looking from Sunday, with a big grin on your face, looking for the closest Yankee fan. It’s awesome. Well, the week is now over, and any other sports fan would let this die down, it has been a week, and start thinking about next season, maybe football, who knows? Well, Red Sox Nation, we need not do that. This offseason, let’s ride this title out. Let’s spend the entire offseason bashing the Yankees, and really, the entire American League. After 86 years of struggle and ridicule as being 2nd best, let’s just get flat out cocky about this. I’m not saying get rid of the lovable-losers attitude, but we’re all Mass-holes in one way, shape, or form, so let’s show it. For the rest of the offseason, go ahead Red Sox Nation, and brag, brag, brag. We’re the best, let people know it. Let’s be as loud and obnoxious as we all so very well can, and let everyone know that we are all very happy about this title.

Secondly, follow the Yankees matters very closely. All this winning in the Red Sox Nation does not sit pretty in the Rotten Apple, and the few Yankee fans that are left are going to desire to break out any sort of 26 rings comment to take us off of our pedestal. Well, we can’t let this happen. Their team is in complete shambles, and odds are most Yankee fans don’t follow the team with as much devotion as we follow baseball. So, get read up on all the Yankees facts, rumors, trades, etc., and when you come in with your head held high and they come back with some “Your mom wears 26 rings” comment, back it up with “All your All-Stars are going to leave town” comments. I can’t wait for that. We always gave a huge fight to New York, but they always had us in a corner. Now we’re out, and we gotta start swinging.

Lastly Red Sox Nation, don’t forget where you came from. We are the only city, only region in America where baseball is the biggest sport around. We have the greatest football team possibly ever put together this season, but we’re a baseball town. The Sox will always be more important. It’s religion. We’ve come a long way to get here as two-time champs in less than five years. We’ve sat through a lot of struggle, and we can’t forget it. During this offseason, watch old Red Sox DVDs, read some old articles about the Curse, even try not closing your eyes when Buckner comes up on TV. We have the richest tradition in sports as Red Sox Nation, and for once, it’s time to be proud.

So, Red Sox Nation, as the buzz of this championship simmers down, I hope we all can embrace this great change that comes from winning. I hope you all have a great offseason. There’s much to discuss this winter, so stay tuned to the thefoulline.com, and don’t forget: the best way to get a Yankee fan off your front porch is to just pay for the pizza.

See you all in Fort Myers in a few months.

Sincerely,

Dylan “I’m putting all my trust in Theo about trades and free agents” Hamilton

Fair or Foul Question of the week

Here is a little curveball for all of you foulliners out there. With the Major League Baseball G.M. meetings set to start November 5th, I’m giving you the chance to play general manager.

Who would you rather have on your team, Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez?

Let’s look at how they match up.

One is a home-run hitting, enigmatic, sometime clubhouse cancer. The other is Manny Ramirez.

Manny has found ways to infuriate me every season. He doesn’t hustle on balls he hits to the infield. He plays the outfield like he’s on roller skates. He needs a chinstrap to keep his batting helmet on. He milks injuries. And he always seems to cause some offseason drama when he decides he would be happier playing somewhere else. But just when I think I am at my wits’ end with Man-Ram, he turns into a modern day Ted Williams and crushes the ball just when the Red Sox need him the most. Manny has proven to be a big-game hitter.

This brings us to Alex Rodriguez. This guy has all the talent in the world and may go down as one of the greatest ball players in Major League history. He can hit the long ball, fields his position well, and has proven to be a base stealing threat. He has won one MVP award and is expected to win another one this year after leading the majors with 54 home runs. But unlike Manny, A-Rod shrinks when he’s on baseball’s biggest stage. Through season after season of putting up great statistics, A-Rod has continued to disappoint when the playoffs start. Not to mention, Alex Rodriguez is a free agent and is expected to command $30 million per season.

So who would you rather have? A guy that will make you pull your hair out all season, then perform brilliantly when it matters? Or a guy that will carry a team all year, only to stink it up in the postseason?

You Decide: Man-Ram or A-Rod

Fair or Foul results are in!!

What started out as a close competition on who was the team MVP has turned into a commanding defeat by Mike Lowell. First a career year, then a World Series MVP award, and now most importantly Mike Lowell has won the Fair or Foul question of the week as voted on by thefoulline.com readers.

This was a really tough decision, as both players played great this season and were the backbone to the team’s success. But like he has done all year, Lowell came through in the clutch to win this prestigious award.

All year long, Mike Lowell has been a great clubhouse guy and a team leader. He is universally respected by the Red Sox players and management, which was reinforced during the World Series parade when several Sox players held up signs to Re-Sign Lowell!! Lowell is also active in the community and has proved to be a great influence on the younger Red Sox players. Mike Lowell is a great player, but I’m starting to think that M.V.P. might stand for Most Valuable Person.