Amazing how two days a season makes. What do we know about the Red Sox after the first two games? Well, Curt Schilling will win 30 games, Tim Wakefield stays up at night crying for Doug Mirabelli, for Big Papi, much like another rotund Red Sox first baseman in the 1990s, the price goes up each day, no one knows what to expect from Keith Foulke, and Coco Crisp has serious jets. Well, hyperbole aside, the Red Sox are still a mystery much like the other 31 teams.
*Yes, Curt Schilling is light years ahead of where he was in 2005, but only an idiot (and by idiot I mean anyone on a major sports radio show, television show, or writing in a major publication) would not have seen that before the start of the season.
* Yes, Tim Wakefield will have to adapt to a catcher other than Doug Mirabelli. Boo-freaking-hoo. Only in Boston does the former back-up catcher catch so much press. If Mirabelli was so damned good, would he not play everyday ahead of Jason Varitek?
* Yes, Big Papi needs to be locked-up long-term ASAP because if his agent even sniffs the open market, the money paid to him will make the Johnny Damon abomination (I mean, contract) seem like chump change. Like Tom Brady and Richard Seymour, Paul Pierce, and (well, no one on the Bruins. I guess we go by the OTHER major sports team) Taylor Twellman, there are certain franchise players that you lock-up long-term immediately for whatever the going rate is because no matter how much they accept, it is a bargain compared to the open market price.
* Yes, Keith Foulke did not look particularly sharp on opening day. That said, he was pitching with a big lead and he ALWAYS pitches differently when not in a save situation. Tuesday afternoon he threw fastball after fastball (all around 90 mph) to the Rangers since he just wanted outs and did not care if he gave up a few hits and runs along the way. Foulke had physical, not mental problems. He is healthy. He will go back to being the 1998-2004 Keith Foulke. End of discussion.
* Yes, Coco Crisp is going to be huge in Boston. He will hit, run, steal bases, play defense, and endear himself to the fans and immediately become the next big thing. In three years, we will be laughing at the Indians and Yankees as they trot out Russell Branyan clone Andy Marte (I hope I am right, but I really think he is the real deal and will be more of a .280-35-115-.900 hitter in the middle of the Cleveland line-up for years to come) and Bernie Williams (circa 2005) clone Johnny Damon in their respective line-ups while Coco Crisp sells millions of boxes of cereal in Boston.
I think the Red Sox have a huge advantage in that they trot out the best starting five East of Chicago (I am of course referring to the White Sox, not the Cubs. Yes, I have Kerry Wood on one of my fantasy teams. Send cash with the condolences, please. BTW, outside of Barry Zito, the anchor of both my fantasy teams, giving up a gazillion runs on opening day against the damned Yankees, Oakland has a good, young starting rotation. Hold off on the condolences for Zito, as I am predicting he will go 8-0 down the stretch when Billy Beane trades him to a contender in the National League for yet another pitching prospect who will win 15 games in 2007). The Yankees have trouble finding five healthy arms and the Blue Jays are already finding out why Josh Beckett, not A.J. Burnett, was the prize arm coming out of Florida. Boston is in the drivers seat in the A.L. East.
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I SWEAR I AM NOT CRAZY (OR AT LEAST NOT THE ONLY ONE):
As I have repeatedly made the point this off-season, the Patriots off-season will be a success as long as Deion Branch and Richard Seymour both sign long-term extensions. Well, finally it is nice to see that I seem to have the pulse of the team with this report from Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com (http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/insider/columns/story?columnist=pasquarelli_len&id=2391669). The most interesting point of the piece of the article is the last paragraph. Forgive me if I do not get too excited about Peerless Price: One, he killed my fantasy team his first season in Atlanta; 2. I remember the specter of Donald Hayes and more recently former Wolverine David Terrell; and 3. the keyword used to describe Price is listless. I do not know about anyone else, but listless players are not on the top of my list:
Fans in New England continue to wring their hands over the fact the Patriots have about $17 million in salary cap room, have allowed some key veterans to escape and have done very little in the way of adding reinforcements. As legitimate as those concerns may be, one high-ranking Pats officials noted this week that the team does have a plan for investing those cap funds, and that one element of it is an attempt to sign defensive lineman Richard Seymour and wide receiver Deion Branch to long-term contract extensions.
"It's going to cost a lot of money to do those two things," said the official. "And I don't know that we'll get it done. But I know this: We have to plan as if we'll get extensions finished with those two, and we have to have the money set aside, because it's going to be expensive."
Look for New England to make its usual modest foray into free agency, adding some mid-range players at palatable prices, and then fitting them into the Patriots' scheme. And don't be surprised if one of those players is wide receiver Peerless Price, who might be a typical New England reclamation project. Price seems light-years removed from the player who caught 94 passes for 1,252 yards and nine touchdowns in Buffalo in 2002. After two listless seasons in Atlanta, he was released, signed with Dallas last summer and released again. Price has only 115 catches for 1,509 yards and six touchdowns the past three seasons. But he is only 29, and the Patriots -- whose experienced receivers beyond Branch include only Bethel Johnson and the recently signed Reche Caldwell -- might be willing to give Price a chance to salvage his career.
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WILY MO REDUX:
A few notes from the Sporting News Inside Dish article: The Red Sox had a chance to get Lyle Overbay from the Brewers for Bronson Arroyo before Milwaukee reconsidered. LYLE OVERBAY?!? Oh man, that would have been beautiful. Lyle can just plain hit, and the thought of him hitting in Fenway for 80 games is just too delicious to think about. Of course, the Inside Dish also notes that the Reds almost dealt Wily Mo to the Orioles for Rodrigo Lopez, but the contract Arroyo signed made him too attractive. Of course, my wife Kathy would tell you that contract or not, Bronson is too attractive.
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