Wednesday, July 19, 2006

GOOD NEWS. NO, SORRY, GREAT NEWS!

The Red Sox announced that Josh Beckett had agreed to a three year contract extension worth up to $30 million. This keeps Beckett away from arbitration at the end of the season and locks him up for at least two years beyond when he would hit free agency. Considering what the Blue Jays are paying former teammate A.J. Burnett, this deal could not look any better for the Red Sox.

The money is not insane. It is less than Beckett would get in arbitration. Heck, it is a whole heck of a lot cheaper than what he would get on the open market with the Yankees tossing $15 million (or more) per season at him. Yes, the Yankees. Believe it or not, the Yankees are in the market for starting pitching. Think they would not want to steal Beckett from the Red Sox.

To hear the Big mOron on WEEI blab about it on the way home today, I was shocked at his say anything to stir up crap for no reason attitude. Beckett is coming off a spectacular performance. He has twelve wins already this season. He is young, has a great curveball, has an explosive fastball, and could be the heir apparent to Curt Schilling (although Papelbon should be in the rotation next year, no matter what, as far as I am concerned).

Personally I do not care if Beckett gives up 50 home runs a season every year as long as he keeps winning games. Twelve wins in the middle of July, and all anyone can do in the media is criticize the poor kid. Kid is the operative term. Beckett is the same age as Jonathan Papelbon. Let him learn to pitch in the American League from Curt Schilling. Let him mature as a pitcher. Let him be Josh Beckett.

Beckett, Papelbon, and Lester: that is a hell of a big three for the next ten years in the rotation. Edgar Martinez, Manny Delcarmen, and Craig Hansen could be the power arms to close out the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings for the next ten years. Theo has done a hell of a job getting the pieces in place. Beckett is a huge piece of the puzzle. It is great news that he is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

SUMMER CAMPERS

Football soon will be back. Boston will once again a two-sport city. Welcome back to training camp, Patriots. Enjoy beautiful southeastern Massachusetts and the greater Foxborough/Mansfield area. The time is now to start anticipating the demise of the Steelers (Tedy Bruschi knocking Ben Roethlisberger out of the AFC Championship game with a huge hit. Predicted here first!).

Much thanks to Mike Reiss, who writes the Reiss’s Pieces blog at Boston.com (Read it here) who was kind enough to answer my questions about the Patriots linebacking corps with training camp around the corner. Reiss is noteworthy not just because he is constantly leading the pack with breaking Patriots news, but the man works his tail off. Patriots coverage is wall-to-wall with no breaks. Every little bit of news is unearthed all off-season. His in-game blog is a must read during the games (as my laptop serves a purpose other than checking fantasy football numbers during the games). Also, his mailbag is noteworthy in that he actually asks the players and coaches the questions the fans ask him. Simple, but unheard of in sports reporting. Imagine, treating the readers with respect and rewarding their well thought-out questions.

Reiss and Jerome Solomon (and Nick Cafardo back in a mop-up role) the Patriots football coverage is back at the top of the industry. With David Scott (Scotts Shots) reporting last week over at his media blog on Boston Sports Media Watch that Reiss should have an expanded role in Patriots coverage, it is good news for us die-hard, news-hungry Patriots fans.

Anyway, back to the Patriots linebacking corps. Mainly, I was asking his opinion on Monty Beisel and the linebacking depth. Reiss predicted Eric Alexander could be a sleeper of the camp, as well as Tully Banta-Cain possibly having an expanded role. Personally, I hope he is right about Banta-Cain and Alexander, as I think that any influx of youth to the linebackers is a huge improvement. With Ryan Claridge, Jeremy Mincey, and Freddie Roach added to the mix, there is definitely a chance to get younger and cheaper at linebacker as Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, and Roosevelt Colvin enter the backside of their careers over the next few years.

HE LEARNED FROM THE MASTER

Sometimes, in retrospect, you realize the right thing was done after all: See AP Story Here

Basically, the story is that poor baby Shea Hillenbrand, that super slugging corner infielder with the career .779 OPS, is all torn up because those mean old Blue Jays did not start him the other night, and also that, sniff, sniff, no one called him and congratulated him on adopting a baby.

Sadly, I am not making this up.

Pimp Daddy Shea had the unique luck to be mentored by none other than old pal Crazy Carl Everett while in Boston. As John Tomase quoted Hillenbrand in the Eagle Tribune way back on August 21, 2002:
Carl was very good to me,
Hillenbrand said earlier this year.
He taught me how to play the game right. If you took the time to get to know
him, he was a good guy. He's not the jerk everyone made him out to be.
Sadly, I am not making this up.

Hillenbrand, of course, is best remembered for his idiotic bashing of Theo for no other reason than daring to trade the great and wonderful Shea. I wish I had a link to that article in the Globe after he was traded to Arizona for Byung-Hyun Kim, but as I recall, the Sox were on the road and Theo flew out there to tell him to his face (rather than pull a Dan Duquette), and Hillenbrand just ripped him and babbled on about how he was the next Jeff Bagwell.

Sadly, I am not making this up.

Good luck, Shea. I hear the Royals and Pirates may have an opening for a loud-mouth jerk corner infielder with no power in AAA.

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