Deep breath. There, now let's review just what is going on at Fenway:
1. The Red Sox traded a universally panned mistake, Edgar Renteria, for the number one prospect in all the minor leagues. I repeate, Andy Marte, ranked NUMBER ONE. Why is there a problem all of a sudden?
2. Ah, yes, here is the problem. The Sox traded SS Hanley Ramirez and a couple of young arms to Florida for Josh Beckett, Guillermo Mota, and Mike Lowell. So the bullpen was shored up (plus we signed Rudy Seanez on the cheap), Bill Mueller was replaced with an upgrade, and we got one of the best pitchers in baseball for what amounts to nothing.
3. Johnny Damon goes to NY. Ahh, yes, we have no centerfielder, lead-off hitter, and media whore anymore. All I have to say is that Damon was true to his word: he said he would follow the money. As far as the Yankees are concerned, I say that we got Beckett and they are still pinning their hopes on Shawn Chacon, Aaron Small, and the rest of their misfits and malcontents on the mound.
4. DOUGIE!!! Oh yeah, we traded an over-priced, back-up catcher who hit below .230 last year for a second baseman who before he was injured was putting up all-star numbers.
5. Wahh, the Sox cannot operate without Theo. Oh yes, the Theo who signed Edgar Renteria and the other media darling du jour, Matt Clement.
OK, so what is the problem? Starting pitching? Vastly improved. Bullpen? Deeper and stronger than ever. Centerfield: TBD. Shortstop: Alex not Joey Cora. Manny: Going nowhere. David Wells: Going nowhere.
So we need a centerfielder to get on base, provide some speed on the basepaths, and play some defense. Somehow, I do not see that worth $13 million a year for 4 years. Like with Pedro, why should this team handicap themselves in 2007, 2008, and 2009 with horrible contracts? Let me ask the real question: Would Bill Belichick have signed Johnny Damon?
In Bill We Trust, as we do in football and as we imitate in baseball. The Red Sox obviously are operating on the Belichick Model, and I say it is about time!
- Someone wants too much money or too many years, say good-bye and find a younger and cheaper model.
- They want more money than you determine them to be worth, let them go.
- Sign someone who does not fit as well as you thought? Can them immediately.
- They want to cry about contracts and playing elsewhere? You make them put up or shut up.
I can't speak for all, but this is what I have been waiting for the Red Sox to do for years. Damon is worth only 4 for $40? Stick to your guns. Why be intimidated if he goes to the Yankees? Detroit wanted to over-pay Damien Woody, did you see Belichick (& Pioli) cave-in? No. This is good business. Good business leads to good teams with the ability to add depth, withstand injuries, and be competitive at a high-level for years to come. Me, I want long-term competitive teams, not a random collection of aging superstars.
Good job, Red Sox front office, I say. Stay the course and keep up the good work. The team does not start playing real games until April. That leaves 120 days to fill in the gaps. Leave the panic to the weak out there who do not know better.