Friday, December 15, 2006

SIXTEEN CANDLES

Do I have 16 cogent thoughts in my head? Will four posts be dedicated to my favorite Family Guy quotes that most inappropriately came out of the mouth of my three or five year old? Do they still play hockey in Boston? Read on, gentle reader, for all the answers in this thrilling segment of Sixteen Candles:

1. Daisuke Deadline:
My gut tells me that Daisuke is a misguided and unwilling pawn in the Scott Boras Empire bent on world baseball domination. Boras is exactly the type of agent, heck, he is the ONLY one, who would sit a 26 year international star on the sidelines, showered in disgrace in his home country, for his own selfish purposes. Boras wants the posting agreement with the Japanese Leagues null and void. Well, duh, of course it is ludicrous. But, can he do this without damaging the Red Sox World Series chances in 2007? I firmly believe that ALL players, US or International (Japan, Korea, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Antarctica, etc) should be subject to the amateur draft. Back to the point, however, I can see in my mind so clearly Epstein the Triumvirate facing the press back in Boston, empty-handed, while Daisuke stares in shock as his translator tells him how Scott Boras just screwed over his chance to pitch in the US in 2007 (and probably 2008). I can hear the WEEIdiots screaming and shouting for the head of Theo already. Sigh.

2. Gonzo:
I really like the idea of the Sox swinging a trade with Pittsburgh and re-obtaining Mike Gonzalez from the Pirates. A hard-throwing lefty in the back of the bullpen sounds good to me. I refuse to over-value the closer role, as I think most relief pitchers are eminently capable of rotating the closer duties: i.e. three back of the game pitchers who can pitch the eighth and ninth innings in save situations (yes, the dreaded-in-Boston closer-by-committee). Closers are over-valued. A team with three set-up men pitching two or three innings at the end of the game every few days would be the strongest. I believe the Sox had the right idea in 2003, just the wrong manager and wrong relief pitchers to make it work. Back to the point yet again, Gonzalez, if obtained cheap enough (as in: no pitching prospects sent to Pittsburgh) would be a great pick-up and hold things over until the Craig Hansen/Edgar Martinez/Manny Delcarmen closer-by-committee kicks-in in 2008.

3. Green Green:
Great win by the Celtics the other night. Of course, all luster is lost when you realize they beat the Knicks. For a while, it looked like the Celtics would get an all too rare laugher and be allowed to showcase Leon Powe. Unfortunately, the Knicks stormed back and the Celtics had to show some backbone and hang-on for the win. Here is what stood out for me:
a. WHERE WAS GERALD GREEN???
b. WHERE THE $#^@)! WAS GERALD GREEN???
c. SERIOUSLY, DOC, WHERE THE $#^@)! WAS GERALD GREEN???

4. Celtics Conspiracy Theory:
Besides the fact that Danny Ainge is desperate to get into the lottery and get at least the chance of a snowball in hell in the Greg Oden sweepstakes, the Celtics must be showcasing their spare parts. What other reason is there that Gerald Green, fresh off his best games as a pro, sits for over 40 minutes and watches Tony Allen stand around with his finger in his ear? Allen must be on the Celtics Showcase, along with Delonte West (seriously, who in their right mind would sit Rajon Rondo for a 2-guard playing out of position at the point who cannot stick a jumper to save his hide?) Hopefully, West and Allen are on their way out (packaged with Scalabrini, Wally and a couple of number one picks?) for an impact power forward (Elton Brand, Kevin Garnett, etc). THAT would be the deal to put the Celtics over the top.

5. Projected Celtics Starting Five/Eight Man Rotation:
PG: Rondo/Bassy Telfair platoon
SG: Gerald Green
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Mystery Acquisition
C: Big Al/Big Perk platoon
Sixth Man: Ryan Gomes
Banner #17 in 2007-08!

6. If he is the Answer, what was the Question?
Please let the Allen Iverson rumors be just that. The thought of giving up Al Jefferson along with the kitchen sink to a division rival for the right to watch Iverson fight with Pierce on the court is hardly a pleasant one. Big Al should be an untouchable, along with Gerald Green and Rondo. Allen Iverson is not going to bring a banner to Boston, only a 20-10 (OK, maybe 17-8 or 15-7) big man can do that.

7. Free Willy will have his Revenge on Us All:
Once again, the Patriots continue to befuddle and confound. Not to give too much credit to the Dolphins defense, but the Patriots offense was horrible. Maybe the Dolphins picked-up the Patriots blocking scheme, and maybe they varied their blitz packages, but Brady pulled out another stinker against a very good defense. In his defense, the Patriots are the big game on EVERY team schedule. Forget that the Steelers won the Super Bowl last year and San Diego looks so good that one can hardly consider them to do anything but waltz into the Super Bowl, the Colts and Patriots are the teams in the NFL who all other teams use as their measuring stick.

8. Spending Spree:
Since John Henry has decided that the Red Sox are going to go all out and screw financial conservatively (why not, since the team is making money hand-over-fist), I was thinking about Big Brigs all-time favorite fantasy baseball player, Marcus Giles. The question regarding the 28 year-old second-baseman is simply: was his 2003 season an aberration? If so, is he worth signing since his numbers have steadily declined since 2003? I went to the geek gurus at baseballprospectus.com where it was pretty obvious that what you see is what you get in regards to Giles. He is, in essence, Mark Loretta with a bit more pop in Fenway. 15 home runs, 40+ doubles, decent defense, and a solid individual. Of course, if the Mets, as expected, turn this into a bidding war, what is wrong with Boston bringing back Mark Loretta? I would rather bring David Eckstein Junior, I mean Dustin Pedroia, up a year later than a year too soon. If the brass determines another year of seasoning is needed, then by all means, Get Back Loretta!

9. Spending Spree 2:
Speaking of spending money on ex-Red Sox, why not bring in a couple more? How about Dan Duquette era Sox farmhands Tony Armas Jr. and Chris Reitsma? Reitsma, who was injured most of last year (I know, I was counting on 30 saves from him last year in one fantasy baseball league), has closing experience and would be a great option for late in the game. Armas Jr., who is only 28, has had injury problems, but with his sinker the Sox could bring him in and turn him into some kind of ersatz Derek Lowe coming in and getting ground-outs in the late innings. The Sox need to get creative in the bullpen. Armas Jr. could be the answer. Oh yeah, speaking of relief pitchers, how about a great lefty set-up man still sitting around in free-agency? Ron Villone, come on down!

10. Buh-bye Biceps:
A sad day for my sister-in-law Shannon as Gabe Kapler and his bulging biceps have left Fenway Park. Kapler, only 31, is taking over as manager of the Greensboro Class A affiliate. It is great to see the enthusiasm that Kapler has for the game being funneled productively. Kapler is well liked in Boston, seems intelligent and articulate, and rather than sit on the bench or bounce-around, he has taken the next step. Kudos for Kapler.

11. Back-up Outfielder-Corner Infielder/Bat on the Bench:
I thought the Sox front-office was obsessed with Aubrey Huff? There he is! Go get him! Huff has good power, good ability to get on-base, and is not yet 30. Why is he sitting around waiting for the phone to ring? His salary demands are not excessive, and I am sure there are plenty of at-bats available for him. His versatility is only yet another plus for him.

12. Prayers:
Phil Kessel? Jon Lester? Both having cancer-related issues? Let us hope this only further heightens the need for more and more ongoing research into how and why the human body creates ways to destroy itself. I do not think there is a person I know who is not affected in some way, shape, or form by this disease, and I know my prayers are going towards all people affected, not just the person fighting cancer, but all those around them giving them strength and suffering from the fear, anxiety, and helplessness they no doubt feel.

13. Yankee-ing My Chain:
Checking in on the Evil Empire in the Bronx, and as much as I hate to say it, kudos to General Manager Brian Cashman. He got Mike Mussina to take a paycut and stay in New York when unproven starting pitchers like Gil Meche and Ted Lilly get in excess of $10 million per season; Andy Pettite re-joined the staff to give the Yankers the lefty starter who shows up once in a while (yeah, that is to mean that the Big Eunich is still around and continuing to be bailed out by the line-up). Trading Gary Sheffield could turn around and bite them, since I doubt Melky Cabrera is really a prime-time player (and Sheffield was easily the MOST FEARED hitter in that dream line-up by far), but the Yanks desperately needed an infusion of young pitching. Much as I hate to admit it, it was a great off-season by Brian Cashman.

14. Making My Wife Happy:
Sorry, guys, this is no FHM/Lad Mag special words of wisdom section, but just a note that a favorite of my beautiful wife Kathy, Doug Mirabelli, is back in the fold as back-up catcher and all-around most popular bench-warmer. Considering how good Cla Meredith would look in the bullpen right now (and to say nothing of the performance of Josh Bard last season in San Diego), the Sox had best get their moneys worth out of Dougie.

15. More Reasons to Like the Idea of J.D. Drew in Boston:
With thanks to Dan Agonistes (check him out at http://danagonistes.blogspot.com or at the Baseball Prospectus website) and his BIPChart, I found yet another reason to see why J.D Drew is such a good fit in Fenway Park: 2003: 43.6%; 2004: 39.1%; 2005: 43.8%; and 2006: 47.8%. Those numbers represent the percentage of fly balls hit to left field by J.D. Drew. I have long contended that David Ortiz benefits by hitting fly balls to left field in Fenway Park (in 2006 Ortiz his 40% of his fly balls to left field, an amazing number considering 75% of the ground balls he hit were to center/left side of the infield. Drew, one could say, has a stroke built for Fenway. Get excited, people!

16. Final Rip:
Could have been a great advice column by Dan Shaughnessy in the Globe on Thursday 12/14/06. The supposed purpose of the column is to give advice to Daisuke Matsusaka about what to do and not to do playing in Boston. Of course, Shaughnessy leaps at the opportunity to bad-mouth all those who oppose the great and wonderful Shank. I would link to it, but I do not want to give anyone the idea that it bears reading. It is altogether a good idea with not a very good editing job, I guess. Unlike some in the blogosphere, I do not hate or belittle Shaughnessy. He is actually an excellent writer. I just feel that sometimes he should be writing about the Red Sox and not about how Dan Shaughnessy feels about the Red Sox. His belittling of his known enemies, Curt Schilling and Bill Belichick, should have been cut out of the column. Petty and personal grievances have no place in august publication such as the Boston Globe.

On Schilling he wrote: Be wary of a large teammate with a blond mullet wearing No. 38. He will explain that he is a spokesman for all of the other players and instruct you on everything from tipping the clubhouse kids to throwing the splitter. He will show you his copious notes on all major league umpires. He will tell you which media members to trust and which ones are snakes. He will also urge you to vote Republican.

On Belichick: If you don't want to learn English, we understand. In fact, it might not be a bad strategy. All you really need is one stock answer. Try "It is what it is." You will be amazed how well that works.

Otherwise, there was only one thing that made absolutely no sense: Tell J.D. Drew he's got to buy you dinner at least once every road trip. There's a chance he's only here because the Sox wanted to soften up your agent for your negotiations.

The Fred Smerlas line was great, as was the Lugo and Youkilis bits. Shaughnessy has done some great writing in the past, and I hope he can get around to forgetting about who dissed who and get back to doing what he does best.

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