Tuesday, November 02, 2004
If you're here for Red Sox stuff, there will be plenty partway down this entry, including my insane and ignorant offseason trade preview. Because god forbid I get through one day now without writing about the Red Sox. I take a modicum of comfort from the fact that I am, at least, not alone in my madness.
I hope you all voted today, or if you're out-of-state I hope you sent in your absentee ballot a while ago. I assume we won't start hearing about results until later tonight, so I'm going to try to avoid thinking about it at least until I get back from evening lecture. I'm not going to pull a Schilling and tell people who to vote for, but let's put it this way: there is one candidate who, if elected, is going to cause the rest of the world to immediately and firmly write us off as a bad job. I'd really rather that didn't happen.
The dorms today went all out for lunch and had the 'Election Day Candidate Lunch!!' This meant that we were served a curious culinary combination of Boston clam chowder, Boston baked beans, Tex Mex chili, and Texas sheet cake. I had a salad. To give them credit, though, the garlic bread at dinner tonight was amazing. We're talking serious restaurant quality garlic bread. Carla went up 3 times to get more. It was astounding.
A quick little tidbit: In every election year since they moved to Washington, the Redskins' last game before election night has tallied exactly with the outcome of the election. If the Redskins won, the incumbent won. If the Redskins lost, the challenger won. This has held true for every single election. This past Sunday the Redskins lost to the Packers. Now, this is the year that the Sox won the World Series, so anything could happen, but I'm just saying :)
That's all you'll hear from me about the election today.
In scholarly news, I only failed to identify two bits of the shark and cat in the lab quiz today, which is definitely a good sign. I've been working on the shark while my lab partner has been doing the cat, so while I am now intimately acquainted with the feeling of a full spiral valve passing through my fingers, I haven't been nearly as attentive to the feline inner jumble. The fact that I gave a reasonable showing on the quiz means that I can relax a fraction. Only a fraction, mind you. I've got a test next week.
In CFC we are 'redesigning checkers'. Don't ask. The professor keeps telling us that we ought to be able to knock out 15-20 feet (on a tracing paper roll) of conceptual designs in 3 hours, which seems ridiculous to me. Then again, I haven't measured what I've got so far, so I might be closer than I think. In any event, I actually fell asleep today during his lecture at the start of class. This was impressive, as I was standing up at the time. I didn't wake up until I started leaning forward and jerked upright moments before I would have overbalanced. Infinite fun, I assure you.
We're building temples in Maya. I already have the structure down, but we have to 'somehow take it to the next level' for class tomorrow. I have no idea what to do. Add statues? A background? I'd put people in, but I definitely do not know enough of the program to make people yet. I did color the snowman, by the by, but I won't post it because I'm waiting to learn how to do proper textures. Right now he just looks very shiny.
I have nothing to say about the Dolphins last night. Nothing at all. Why is it that this team gets Monday Night Football slots, and the Lions don't? Never mind, don't answer that. I don't want to think about it.
The photo I posted on October 25 of Reggie Swinton doing a backflip was in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. I have my finger on the pulse of the photographical nation, clearly. On a similar note, does anyone know where I can get my hands on the Sox issue of Time Magazine or the commemorative Sox issue of SI? I have the SI with Bellhorn on the cover, but I didn't see the all-Sox one around anywhere. Thoughts?
Just a quick doodle that I made a shirt out of over the summer. In honor of the Wolverine insane triple overtime victory over the hapless Spartans this past Saturday (see Oct. 30 blog entry).
And now for the Red Sox stuff.
There are a couple of points that need to be made right now: this whole thing with Kevin Millar saying that the team passed around a shot of Jack Daniels before every World Series game has been blown way out of proportion. For one thing, it's not like each player was swigging down an entire fifth of the stuff before each game. They had a tiny, tiny amount of alcohol, what would be a raindrop in an ocean to most seasoned college students and what probably had no effect at all on guys as big as most of them are.
It's also not like they were setting out to get stonking drunk before a big game. They had a little pregame bonding event, so what if it involved a small amount of alcohol? We're talking about a sport that has the players showering each another and the crowd with champagne after big wins. People are getting upset about a shot of whiskey?
The only, and I do mean ONLY issue in this whole overblown media event is that Millar had to bring it up in the first place. Like I said, there's nothing you can say that's wrong with what happened. I'm sure that, of all the stuff that probably goes on in that lockerroom, this is a huge nothing. Regardless, there's no reason for Millar to have brought it up in a public forum. What goes on in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse, and all that. Millar's obviously a fun guy who likes to joke around, and this was probably an asset for the Red Sox this year (I've heard it tossed around on SoSH that one of the main reasons the Sox had so few problems with racial cliques was Millar, especially his friendship with Manny).
That said, there are some times where you really wish that, for all his vaunted 'idiot' demeanor, he would think before speaking out.
*takes a deep breath*
OK. I'm calm now. Gold Glove awards are out, and I note that Derek Jeter picked one up over A-Rod. It's his first Gold Glove award. I dislike Jeter, naturally, but I hate A-Rod more (that pathetic slap on Arroyo really sealed it for me, in the end), so I'll be magnanimous and toss out a 'Congrats' to Jeter and any Jeter fans out there. I swear, this World Series win is making me go soft. Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez won his 11th this year, his first with Detroit. He's the first catcher to ever win that many, so congrats to Pudge and the Tigers as well.
Now, with the baseball season over for the winter, you may think that there's nothing much to talk about anymore. Ha ha! WRONG! There are offseason trades to deal with! Normally I would leave this alone until the season started up again, because I'm not quite that crazy, but this year's team is so unique, so personality-driven, that one really has to sit up and take notice of the fact that some of them could be leaving.
WARNING: These are the opinions of someone who knows nothing whatsoever of all those little number things you statheads are so fond of. I know that for some positions high numbers are good, and for some high numbers are bad, but when you throw lots of decimals separated by slash marks at me, my brain just shuts off. I am not saying any of this with stats in mind, or indeed with stats anywhere near the general vicinity of my thought processes. I don't think this stuff is any less accurate for all that, though. It's all conjecture at this point, no matter how many numbers you toss around. (*zing!* to the engineers)
OK. With that out of the way,
These are the Sox who have already filed for free agency:
-Jason Varitek (catcher)
-Derek Lowe (pitcher)
-Orlando Cabrera (shortstop)
-Doug Mirabelli (backup catcher)
-David McCarty (first baseman, I think)
-Pokey Reese (infielder)
-Scott Williamson (relief pitcher)
-Ramiro Mendoza (relief pitcher)
-Curtis Leskanic (relief pitcher)
-Mike Myers (bizarre relief pitcher)
-Gabe Kapler (outfielder)
-Pedro Astacio (relief pitcher)
-Terry Adams (relief pitcher)
Sox who are still eligible for free agency but have not, as yet, filed for it:
-Ricky Gutierrez (infielder, I think... who knows what he'll do?)
-Pedro Martinez (pitcher... he's expected to file)
-Ellis Burks (DH... he's announced that he's going to retire, since he is, according to an article on the official website, a 'classy 40-year-old')
The Sox exercised the option on Bill Mueller (third baseman) to keep him around for 2005. I've heard it proposed that they did this simply to make him more tradeable later, but personally I think we have to hang on to him. We're going to need to pick up plenty of players, and I don't think we want to make third base an issue when we don't have to. He's not all that expensive for us either. If we move Mueller at all I think it's to second for a few games to give Youk some time in there.
So, just to clear it up, here's who IS NOT going to be filing for free agency this offseason (that doesn't mean they'll be on the team next year, since there's always trading to be done), excluding those on the injured list and those not currently on the active roster:
-Bronson Arroyo (pitcher)
-Alan Embree (relief pitcher)
-Keith Foulke (closing pitcher)
-Curt Schilling (pitcher)
-Mike Timlin (relief pitcher)
-Tim Wakefield (pitcher)
-Mark Bellhorn (second baseman)
-Doug Mientkiewicz (first baseman)
-Kevin Millar (first baseman)
-Kevin Youkilis (third baseman, I think)
-Johnny Damon (outfielder)
-Trot Nixon (outfielder)
-Manny Ramirez (outfielder)
-Dave Roberts (outfielder)
-David Ortiz (DH)
Some of these we're going to trade, and some we're going to hang on to. I can sit here and wish that the entire team could stay the same (except for Kim, we can get rid of him any old time), but it's not going to happen, and that might, ultimately, be for the best. Or not. Either way, there's nothing to be done.
I tend to think that we're going to hang on to such pitching as we can. Arroyo isn't going anywhere, nor is Foulke or Wakefield. Timlin and Embree aren't lights-out magnificent, but I doubt we could get anything better than them, so I suspect they'll be back for next year. Schilling, obviously, is not going to be traded, but his ankle is going to be in rehab for most of the offseason, and who can say how that will affect him next year?
This leaves us with two dead-certain starting pitchers... Mr. Cornroyo himself, and Mr. Wake Up Wakefield. Everyone seems to be assuming that The Wunderankle will be OK to go by the time the season starts, but personally I wouldn't count on him being 100% by April. He might have done some more damage playing hurt, and he's not exactly young, so he's not going to bounce back from surgery all that quickly. Clearly this leaves us in a bit of a bind with regards to pitching, and I think that's our biggest point of emphasis going into the offseason. That, and resigning Varitek, but I'll get to that in a second.
Will Pedro and Lowe be back next year? Like I said, my heart says 'yes', but my head says 'no'. Actually, my head says 'no' for Lowe (I hope he goes to the Tigers, I really do) and 'possibly' for Pedro. He's going to ask for a lot of money. I think we can stomach that, given the fact that we pretty desperately need another good starter or two. What we don't want to do is get locked into a really long-term contract with him. He's still one of the best pitchers out there, no doubt about that, but there's also no doubt about the fact that he's not the Pedro of yesteryear, and that he'll probably continue to decline (although whether the decline will be rapid or slow is anyone's guess). The problem is that there may be teams out there who wouldn't mind overpaying him despite this, and that could take him out of Boston.
Whether or not they would be willing to take on his little friend Nelson is a whole other question.
If we can't sign Pedro, who do we go for? This is where I get fuzzy, because I can't claim to have any idea what's going on with most other teams in baseball, especially the National League. I've heard some names tossed around, though. People keep bringing up Carl Pavano, of the Marlins... something about a possible hometown discount, because apparently he's from New England and might want to play here. This sounds a lot like wishful thinking to me, from what I can tell the Marlins are going to try to hang on to him. Look at the conviction I say that with, it almost sounds like I know what I'm talking about.
People are also bleating about 'the Big 3' out of Oakland: Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder. I've heard that it would take a ridiculous trade to pry any one of them out, especially Hudson, who seems to be the only one generating serious interest in Boston. We need pitching, but I don't think we're going to move heaven and earth for it, and I don't think we want to get into a bidding war over these guys with the Frankencheckbook (Steinbrenner, you know). The A's allegedly told New York that they had nothing of interest to them, but one never knows.
SoSH right now seems to be hung up on Brad Radke (Twins) and Matt Clement (Cubs). Both would be almost certain to come cheaper than Pedro, and while neither is a 100% sure thing on the mound, I tend to think we could do worse. After all, Pedro wasn't always a sure thing on the mound this year. It's also worthwhile to mention that that the Yankees cut Jon Lieber loose, and although the speculation is that they did this just so they could pick him up again later at a greatly reduced price, there has been talk of picking him up.
Hey, while we're at it let's sign Jose Santana and Randy Johnson. Then we'll pick up Balco Bonds and we'll take Nomar back. Did I mention that I have no idea what I'm talking about? I think that should be made abundantly clear.
Jason Varitek. This is a situation we need to get a handle on almost as much as we need to secure pitching, in my mind. Not only is Varitek a good catcher, the catching market this offseason is supposed to be pretty weak. The problem here is twofold. Varitek is reportedly asking for a 5-year, $50 million contract. The $10 mil a year would make us wince horribly (that's what Pudge is getting in Detroit, and much as I love Tek I can't say he's up to Pudge's level), the 5 years would make us let him go.
As painful as this is for me to say, Varitek isn't all that young. Catchers wear out in their 30s, mostly because of their knees, and while Tek has less wear-and-tear on him due to some missed time (injuries, I believe) than other catchers his age, it would be foolish to expect him to perform like he can now for 5 more years. We definitely will want to hang on to him, because he is a very good catcher now, and, as nominal team captain, is a huge presence in the clubhouse, which might make his value here a little more than cold hard cash. He's also supposed to make almost any pitcher he works with better. The Sox might be willing to sign him up for 4 years, and they'd definitely jump all over 3, but if he insists on 5 there's almost no way he can stay here.
The other problem with signing Tek is that his agent, Scott Boras, is apparently some kind of cut-throat uberagent who's going to try to get the absolute top dollar. Even if Tek wants to stay in Boston (which you have to believe he does), Boras isn't likely to let him rest if there's more money to be made elsewhere. The thing that makes me really, really, REALLY nervous are the rumors about the Yankees somehow moving Jorge Posada, possibly for a pitcher, and picking up Varitek.
Can you even imagine it? I'm not sure Boston could take it if the MFY sign Pedro and he has to come up on opening day and get his World Series ring in a Yankees uniform. There would be mass suicide if we had to see it done by Varitek.
If Varitek does leave, you can bet that we're going to try to hang onto Mirabelli. But if Tek does end up staying here, I very much doubt that we're going to be able to keep Mirabelli too, much as we would want to. He feels that he's just a little bit too good to be a constant backup (not an inaccurate assessment, per se), and I think he'll go for big money elsewhere if he can't be a starter here.
Orlando Cabrera will be gone if he gets offered a lot by someone else. Much as I love the guy, I just can't see us hanging onto him too desperately, especially since shortstop is the position glutting the market this offseason. Like I said, though, I don't think this is our biggest concern right now. Nor is the Millar/Mientkie debate, which has been generating a lot of noise. The thinking seems to be that, due to a general unwillingness to sit on the bench by both of them, we won't be able to keep both at first base. So if we had to trade one, who would it be? People are almost perfectly divided on this. On the one hand you have Millar, who can hit better but definitely can't field as well and is also prone to slumps. Of course, he's got the whole 'vital clubhouse personality' thing going for him. Mientkie can't hit better right now, but he's galaxies better on the field, and there's been speculation that he's still healing from wrist surgery (or something?) and once that clears up he'd be a more significant batter than he has been of late. Of course, he's got the whole '3 years younger' thing going for him.
I say we send Kapler on his way (sorry Beth), see how Trot's injury is doing, and maybe play Millar in the outfield, while we hang onto Mientkie at first and let him start. I'm not sure which one I'd trade if cost became an issue. Maybe Millar, ONLY because you could probably get more for him in a trade than you could for Mientkie. Millar's always so deeply in the thick of the crazy Red Sox shenanigans that I can't really imagine him being happier somewhere else, though, and this worries me. I mean, I like the guy, I want to hang onto him if we can. But I'm a Mientkie fan as well. In any event, we should clear up pitching and Tek and then worry about these issues.
One last thing. I keep hearing the name 'Adrian Beltre' bruited around. Are we seriously considering this guy? Maybe. We know that Theo et. al. don't mind paying good money for good players. As cool as it might be to have Beltre on the team (assuming that he has another stellar year, which is not guaranteed), I just can't make myself see us picking him up. Like I said, I don't think we picked up Mueller's option just to move him along, and you can bet that the Dodgers are going to be doing whatever they can to keep Beltre right where he is.
This is turning into a train wreck of speculation, so I think the safest course of action for all would be if I just stopped right now. I won't even get into Manny and the Mets. I don't think we trade him, that's all I will say on it.
It's currently Bush 193, Kerry 133, so if you excuse me I'm going to go hyperventilate into a paper bag and then maybe finish my Maya homework. Please, America. Please.