Wednesday, July 06, 2005

DAYS OF THE DUKE

Chad Finn, a sportswriter for a NH paper, has a great blog on blogspot called Touching All the Bases, and he recently pontificated on the fact that Dan Duquette blew an opportunity to sign Mark Teixeira out of high school (referencing a 2001 article on ESPN.com by Peter Gammons). Certainly, baseball is littered with mistakes such as these, and as much as Duquette ran the Sox minor league system into the ground (what was with all those Korean and Japanese pitchers who could not get anyone out being paid $3 million a year?), not signing a ninth round pick is hardly reason to rip into him when there are so many other reasons to spew venom at the Duke. Duquette, however, for all his faults really just wanted to win the world series here in Boston more than anything else; it is hard to hold it against him as he was clearly passionate in that regard (though his people skills could best be described as somewhere between non-existent and cold fish).

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What is really sad, though, is thinking back to the 1998 through 2002 Red Sox teams and all the Carl Everett, Nomar, Mo Vaughn, Dan Duquette, Joe Kerrigan, John Harrington bologna that went on in those days and wonder how Red Sox fans put up all that crap without throwing their collective hands up in frustration and leaving Fenway en masse. In fact, Izzy Alcantara is a name I hope to never have to be reminded of ever again. Just as a reminder of how far the Sox have come even with Smellhorn at second base: Jose Offerman and Jeff Frye; the pride of the Irish, Troy O’Leary, in left field; Brian Daubach at first base; Darren Lewis in centerfield; Ed Sprague brought in to play third base; Ramon, the older brother, Martinez in the rotation along with Pete Shourek, David Cone, and other retreads. I realized when I was thinking about those teams that I had blocked most of this crap out after the Patriots won their first Super Bowl. That is why I will argue until I am blue in the face that the Patriots first Super Bowl was a bigger deal than the Sox winning the World Series: it was readily believed that no Boston team would ever win a championship ever again. The Patriots gave the Sox hope again. Now that is a book I would like to see: How Bill Belichick Saved New England Sports.

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HOW PRESCIENT:

From the above referenced Peter Gammons article from 2001: John Boles now thinks Derrek Lee can be a Gold Glove, 30-40 homer, 110-120 RBI first baseman. The RBI ability, says Boles, usually doesn't come until the fourth or fifth year. All I can say is that I am sure glad I was not the GM responsible for the trade of Lee for Hee Seop Choi. That, and I want John Boles in my front office (so I guess that means good times ahead for Seattle).

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GOOD OLD WILT:

No, not Wilt the Stilt, but former Red Sox third base prospect Wilton Veras. Where is this future star today? Here is what I have found about him: After being cut by Milwaukee (well, their AAA team) after the 2003 season, Veras went on to play in the Northeast (Can-Am) League for the New Jersey Jackals in 2004 (which means I could have seen him at a Brockton Rox game last year), and then in 2005 he joined the Macoto Cobras in the Taiwanese Professional Baseball league where he toils today.

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MORE PROSPECTS:

Speaking of former Sox third base prospects, Tony Blanco, once rated the number two prospect in the entire organization, is quietly plugging along for the Washington Nationals. Originally traded to the Reds for Todd Walker before the 2003 season, Blanco was taken by former Reds GM Jim Bowden with the Nationals this year in the Rule 5 draft. Blanco is not setting the world on fire, but he is holding his own as he is basically sticking to the roster so the Nationals do not have to return him to the Reds. Like most Rule 5 pick-ups (see Lenny DiNardo last year), the team will stash them on the major league roster for a season and then return them to the minor leagues the next season so they can develop. Blanco is still young and raw, but Washington may have a good player on their hands for the future.

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