Monday, November 28, 2005

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

Ahh, vacation: always ruined by returning to work and the pile that accumulates on the desk while you are gone. Six cups of coffee later, I am finally ready to get to work. A quick review of everything that went on since I last checked in on the old BostonSportPage:

BARTENDER, SEND ME OVER A BECKS:

An early Christmas present to the fans of Boston and particularly my wife Kathy as her favorite fantasy league pitching star, Josh Beckett, joined the Sox along with a gold glove third baseman with twenty-five home run and fifty doubles power at Fenway Mike Lowell, and just for good measure, set-up man extraordinaire, Guillermo Mota. What did the Sox give up? Three fringe prospects and a twenty-one year old shortstop who may, or may not, be the Nomar. Was it worth it? Hell yeah, baby! I would have given that package up, plus Arroyo and Nixon, just for Beckett. Heck, I would have given that package up just for Lowell and Mota!

Beckett, outside of Mark Prior, Johann Santana, and MAYBE Kerry Wood and Dontrelle Willis, is the type of young, stud #1 pitcher you give away the store for in a heartbeat. Yes, I would say Prior and Santana are the only two pitchers I would take ahead of Beckett if I were building a team around a young #1 starter. I mean, this guy has the ring already, has the swagger, and just needs Moises Alou to send over some of his patented blister prevention concoction i
Ahh, vacation: always ruined by returning to work and the pile that accumulates on the desk while you are gone. Six cups of coffee later, I am finally ready to get to work. A quick review of everything that went on since I last checked in on the old BostonSportPage:

BARTENDER, SEND ME OVER A BECKS:

An early Christmas present to the fans of Boston and particularly my wife Kathy as her favorite fantasy league pitching star, Josh Beckett, joined the Sox along with a gold glove third baseman with twenty-five home run and fifty doubles power at Fenway Mike Lowell, and just for good measure, set-up man extraordinaire, Guillermo Mota. What did the Sox give up? Three fringe prospects and a twenty-one year old shortstop who may, or may not, be the Nomar. Was it worth it? Hell yeah, baby! I would have given that package up, plus Arroyo and Nixon, just for Beckett. Heck, I would have given that package up just for Lowell and Mota!

Beckett, outside of Mark Prior, Johann Santana, and MAYBE Kerry Wood and Dontrelle Willis, is the type of young, stud #1 pitcher you give away the store for in a heartbeat. Yes, I would say Prior and Santana are the only two pitchers I would take ahead of Beckett if I were building a team around a young #1 starter. I mean, this guy has the ring already, has the swagger, and just needs Moises Alou to send over some of his patented blister prevention concoction (I am sick already just thinking about it. Readers, NEVER shake hands with Moises if you run across him at a ballyard. The blister prevention method of Mr. Alou? Soaking his hands in his own urine. I kid you not.).

Usually the person I would feel for in this situation is Yankees GM Brian Cashman, but since he signed the deal with the devil just a month ago, the blasting he has likely been receiving from Herr Steinbrenner is well-earned and deserved. He had his chance to run to San Francisco or Boston, and chose the almighty dollar. All pity for the man has evaporated. I just want to see the Yankers trade for Javier Vazquez again and then tell everyone this is the guy we really wanted all along just like they did when the Sox stole Schilling from under their noses.

Now the Sox have to deal with the disgruntled veterans: Manny and Boomer. Somehow, I do not see Manny being traded. Mike Scioscia, after dealing with Jose Guillen in 2004, likely wants no part of the Manny Show. Cleveland has already said no thanks. The Dodgers, Mariners, and Giants want no part of that outrageous contract, which leaves the Mutts, who already have Carlos Delgado playing the role of disgruntled star. Besides, what are they going to send over to the Sox that they would want back? David Wright? Sure, we will take him but he is untouchable. Anna Benson? Sure, I would say yes in a heartbeat, but does she include Derek Lowe Jr, I mean her husband, Kris the Underachiever and his huge salary? Carlos Beltran? Umm, no thanks, we are trying to unload the overpriced contract, not pick up a new one for the next six years.

Boomer, on the other hand, wants to go to San Diego. Too bad Kevin Towers does not have much interest in making a move to bring him back. San Diego has some good young pitching and Dave Roberts or Jeff Burroughs kid Sean, but why would they part with it for Wells who is likely a one-year and out starter. Sure, the division title is theirs to claim again with less than 90 wins, but do they think they can compete with St. Louis, Houston, Philly and Atlanta with Wells? If the Padres wanted him so bad, Wells would never have left the World Famous San Diego Chicken behind and come to Boston in the first place.

Becks, Schilling, Papelbon, Lester, Clement, Wells, Arroyo, and Wakefield. That is a good looking staff right now. Figure Lester in AAA this season, Wells eventually traded or on the DL, and that leaves Arroyo as trade bait to package with Trot Nixon for a power-hitting outfielder to bat fifth or sixth in the lineup behind Ortiz, Manny, and maybe Lowell.

* * *

THE MINUTEMEN MAKE THEIR STAND:

The Poor Patriots: losing games like it was 2002 all over again. For all those people jumping off the bandwagon, remember that this team reloaded in 2003 and got back on their winning ways. I see no reason why this team cannot do the same. Here is what I see the Patriots needing most this off-season:

1. An infusion of youth, speed, and playmaking at linebacker. No more Monty Beisel or Chad Brown to temporarily fill a gap. A high draft-pick on a playmaker in the middle will make a difference.

2. A run-stuffing veteran for the defensive line. Where is Keith Tractor Traylor when you need him? The Pats need a wide-body to put next to Big Vince and play a 4-3 to stop the run when necessary.

3. A replacement for Rodney Harrison in the secondary. Somewhere, somebody will make the same mistake San Diego did by releasing Harrison this offseason. Now, the Patriots need to be ready to leap and grab this guy immediately. No more letting John Lynch slip out of their grip and get to Denver. The Pats would be 8-3 or 9-2 with Lynch in the secondary.

4. A real wide receiver to go along with Deion Branch. Not a collection of 3 or 4s, but a legitimate number two receiver via a high draft pick (and not a raw reach like Bethel Johnson) or free agency.

5. A few healthy guys next season. Now, with no one to blame for injuries, it could be a blessing in disguise for 2006 as Nick Kazcur, Ellis Hobbs, Michael Stone, Roosevelt Colvin, Heath Evans, and Russ Hochstein are all ahead of development for next season. With Matt Light, Randall Gay, Guss Scott, Duane Starks, Dan Koppen, Kevin Faulk and Corey Dillon all back later this season or next season, these players out on the field today are the reserves who will provide the team the kind of depth they need next season when they get back to playing Patriots football: i.e., taking away the big plays and explosive players and managing the game so they can pull away in the fourth quarter.

* * *

SEND IN THE CLOWNS:

Yes, the Celtics are rebuilding. Yes, they are a mid-season acquisition from winning the Eastern division. Yes, Mark Blount deserves to be thrown in a pit or hung from his thumbs. Yes, the Celtics need a legitimate scorer off the bench and I still think it can be Ryan Gomes if he gets a chance out there and a little more confidence.

No, I do not want to trade Paul Pierce. No, I do not think that Dan Dickau is going to last the season in green. No, I do not believe we have seen all that Big Al Jefferson can be this season.

Their wins (outside of Houston a few weeks back) have been ugly. Their losses have been discouraging: ranging from not even showing up to play or suffering a heart-breaking loss at the end of the game. There has been a disturbing tendency to play down to their competition, but that is normal in such a young team. Whether Peter May of the Boston Globe wants to believe it or not, Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers have this team on the right track. It may take a couple of years, but the Celtics are going to be worth the wait.

* * *

Au Roy-voir

It's sad to see the demise of the Roy Keane-Man United relationship. Roy was officially and unceremoniously given his walking papers recently by Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. While there is no question that Keane is an abusive, volatile, arrogant hothead, we must also not deny that he was a phenomenal football player, bossing the midfield for Man U for 12 years. Right before United's match with Charlton Athletic, Keane visited with Ferguson to find out why he was not going to be offered a contract for the next part of his career. What occurred was a shouting match culminating with Keane being given immediate dismissal from Old Trafford (a place where I would LOVE to take in a game someday).

It is sad because Keane's numbers on the pitch were so stellar. He is a great player and, arguably, a solidifying force in the Manchester midfield. However, his temper and lack of decorum provides a circus-like atmosphere in the clubhouse. It's the same story with Terrell Owens, which is why I made the parallel last time I talked about Keane. Talented player shoots his mouth off one too many times, gets canned. Keane is allowed not to pursue a career and enter into a long-term deal with any club he chooses now that he's a free man. Where will he go? Who has the cash to splash for him? Who will put up with his big yap? I'm betting it will be either Arsenal or Chelsea since neither team seems to have any scruples at all. However, both teams are managed by what I call "adult babies" and almost certainly if rough seas hit with Roy Keane, we'll see the fireworks fly.

Wolves 3 - Derby 0

I'm going to focus for a bit on the Coca cola English Championship League. Why, because nobody else cares about it. Who has heard of The Wolverhampton Wanderers or the Derby Rams? Who even realizes that you pronounce "Derby" like "Darby?"

Wolves striker George Ndah made a storybook comeback as Wolves handed Derby their 13th of 14 non-win. This non-win was a big loss, as Derby looking to join the likes of Bristol Rovers and Hartlepool FC in the wicked-obscure League 1 next season. Back to Ndah. After sitting out the last two seasons with a career-threatening injury, Ndah came on as a sub and scored his first goal in a long while for Wolves, and it turned out to be all the help they would need. Former Derby am Tom Huddlestone also added a goal in the 80th minute and Vioran Ganea added the coup de grace in the 86th minute. It was a rough time for Derby supporters seeing Huddlestone in the orange Wolves uni. The youngster helped Derby reach the playoff semis last year. A scrappy first half gave way to a goal scoring festival for Wolves when Glen Hoddle substituted the largely ineffective Seol Ki-Hyeon for the comeback George Ndeh. The theme of the day was definitely comeback and win for Wolves and pathetic record for the Rams.

Shorts

Hal, there's only one player I dislike more than wonderchump Landon Donovan, and that's his teammate and homey Kobe Jones. Jeff Agoos of the Metrostars would be in there, but he's too insignificant to have any strong feelings towards.

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