All I have to say: How do you like them apples?



Well, everyone loves Edgar Renteria, if only until the next game. Renteria took advantage of the incompetence of Los Angeles of Anaheim of California Angels manager Mike Scioscia who hung a six inning starter out to dry in the eighth inning. Maybe Scioscia was confident that Paul Byrd was going to pitch a complete game shutout, but when the Sox got two guys on immediately in the top of the eighth of a scoreless game, what was Scioscia doing leaving Byrd in the ballgame? Byrd is the number five starter on the Angels staff, not Curt Schilling. Heck, what am I saying, even with Schilling or Pedro working on a shutout, someone was always up in the pen in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning. Did these guys not receive the SABR memo about a starting pitchers effectiveness after 90 pitches?

Renteria finally socked out a home run, officially handing the torch to Kevin Millar as the homer less old maid leading gorillas into hell. Of course, Millar plays a position that is frequented by power hitters (first base and corner outfield positions), and frankly I cannot figure out why Millar is on the roster while Adam Hyzdu, who would fall out of bed and hit twenty homers in a regular role, toils in Pawtucket. At least Millar is off the books for next season. It will be interesting to see if Millar gets one of those minimum salary free agent non-roster invitations to spring training. Either that or he is finally taking his junk on a junk to Asia where he will continue to be an outspoken curiosity.

I hope this is a turning point for Renteria, as he has worked hard to get out of his slump this year, perhaps too hard putting too much pressure on himself. Whether it was nerves, playing in Boston, or an unmentioned injury, Renteria has shown up everyday and taken the abuse. Renteria, of course, is/was in a situation where he could only lose. No matter how good he did, there are still two factions of fans who believe that either Nomar should be at shortstop, or they bow down and worship at the temple of the O.C.

* Yes, the number five club is still strong, but silent, in Beantown. There are many fans wearing number five jerseys to bed where they watch the Cubs on ESPN and try to figure out what caused the departure of the most prominent profile on Yawkey Way this side of Yaz. This Nomar loving contingent needs four or five drinks to admit it, but they hate Renteria (and Cabrera before him) because they usurped the throne between second and third.

* The O.C. contingent is the vocal group, as Cabrera was the shortstop who was on the field as the Sox won the world championship as compared to the shortstop who made the last out. Despite the fact that Cabrera was maddeningly inconsistent in Montreal (I know, he was my shortstop for too many seasons), he also has a contract as out of whack as the one the Sox handed Renteria, as the O.C. was fortunate the LA/Anaheim/California Angels were desperate to replace David Eckstein. Seeing Cabrera and his .308 on-base percentage this weekend was enough for me to feel that Theo and the brain trust made the right, if expensive, call.

Renteria is nothing if not a clutch hitter: likely the best clutch hitter this side of David Ortiz. The worst knock I can think of for Edgar is that he is comparable to Derek Jeter, in which case he is a bargain at almost half the cost of Mr. Yankee Captain.


Someone tell me that the Sox are not seriously considering taking Jon Papelbon out of the starting rotation. No one can be objective and think for one second that Bronson Vedder or Shakey Wakey is a better option than Pap. Heck, I would move David Wells to the bullpen before I sat Papelbon. This kid is the first homegrown stud starter for the Sox since Roger Clemens in 1984, and unless he has reached the organizational pitch count for pitchers under age 26, he should be starting early and often.

Arroyo, Wakefield, and Wade Miller have been so frustratingly inconsistent that they have no choice but to ticket one of them to the bullpen and let Papelbon get some experience for 2006. In fact, none of the non-dynamic duo has shown any reason to keep them in the rotation: Miller is either ineffective, hurt, or both; Arroyo needs to put down the guitar before someone goes Bluto on him; and Wakefield is still Wakefield.

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Well, just when you think the wide receiver rotation cannot get any more crowded, the Pats pull a surprise and dish a late round draft pick for speedster Andre Davis. Davis is basically a Bethel Johnson clone: super speed, inability to put it all together, constant nagging injuries, and the occasional amazing display of athleticism. I have no doubt that Kat is stewing that Davis has made his way to the Pats as he earned time in her eternal fantasy football doghouse last season.
Thinking about the wide receiver log-jam and Michael Felger and his roster analysis in the Herald made me think about where the cut-downs are going to have to be made. With an homage to the geezers invading Fenway:


On the Team: Tom Brady, Doug Flutie, Rohan Davey.
Practice Squad: Matt Cassell. Yeah, I know I am not a fan of Davey, but Belichick must have seen something in the guy to keep him around. Flutie is pretty much a lock whether it is the two or three QB, but Cassell just needs too much work to even consider putting him in a position to win or lose a game. Of course, Belichick carried a fourth QB once, some kid named Brady from Michigan, so anything is possible here, especially since Cassell has played tight end in college. God knows that kind of versatility is admired by Bill.

On the team: Corey Dillon, Kevin Faulk, Patrick Pass, Cedric Cobbs.
Practice Squad: Kory Chapman, Kyle Eckel.
Physically Unable to Perform List: Chad Morton
Dillon is the starter, Faulk is the third down back, Pass is the fullback, and Cobbs is going to be the backup. Kory Chapman has some potential, but likely will get picked up by someone as the Patriots try to sneak him onto the practice squad. Eckel should make the practice squad and is insurance for an injury to Pass.

On the team: Daniel Graham, Ben Watson, Christian Fauria, and Jed Weaver.
The Patriots expect their tight ends to block like linemen and go across the middle like a rag doll, so, amazing as it is to believe, there is risk of injury. I think Mr. Fauria may expand his role on special teams this season.

On the team: Deion Branch, David Givens, Troy Brown, David Terrell, Tim Dwight, Andre Davis.
Practice Squad: Bam Childress, Jason Anderson, Cedric James.
Physically Unable to Perform List: P.K. Sam and Bethel Johnson
This one is cut and dried as long as they keep six receivers. After Branch and Givens, the receiving corps looks remarkably thin and unproven; this explains why the team grabbed Andre Davis for next to nothing. Hopefully Brown and Dwight have something in the tank still, and David Terrell can be a decent possession receiver. It will get interesting when Sam and Johnson get healthy and hard choices are to be made, but I think the Patriots will be able to stash them away until these decisions ultimately through injuries and underachievers work themselves out.


On the team: Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Tom Ashworth, Nick Kaczur, Russ Hochstein, Brandon Gorin, and Gene Mruczowski.
Practice Squad: Billy Yates and Victor Leyva
Physically Unable to Perform List: Anyone left over.
The offensive line is pretty well set unless Leyva or Yates all of a sudden starts playing like a star; they will be fighting for a spot on the practice squad. The main battle will be for the starting spots, as Gorin, Hochstein, and Ashworth, Super Bowl starters all, could end up on the bench, which is an indication of how deep the line has become this season.


On the team: Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren, Jarvis Green, Dan Klecko, Marquise Hill, and Rodney Bailey.
Practice Squad: Maybe some fodder will make the squad.
Physically Unable to Perform List: Let us hope no one ends up on here.
The defensive line is stacked and although there is a lack of depth at nose tackle, Klecko, Warren, Seymour, Green, and Bailey could all fill in there for a few plays, series, halves, games, or weeks.


On the team: Mike Vrabel, Roosevelt Colvin, Willie McGinest, Chad Brown, Monty! Beisel, Larry Izzo, Matt Chatham, Wesly Mallard, Tully Banta-Cain, and Don Davis.
Practice Squad: Eric Alexander?
Physically Unable to Perform List: Eric Alexander.?
I do not see them carrying eleven linebackers, but considering that Eric Alexander should be on the roster, I imagine he will be snuck through to the PUP list or they will try to squeeze him onto the practice squad.


On the team: Ty Poole, Randall Gay, Asante Samuel, Duane Starks, Ellis Hobbs, and Chad Scott
Practice Squad: Hank Poteat
Physically Unable to Perform List: Nada
Yet another deep group, they lost Ty Law yet return four Super Bowl starters and Chad Scott, a solid veteran. Ellis Hobbs has looked like a rookie with a lot of potential and will be slowly brought along in contrast to Randall Gay last season. Yawn, yet another deep, talented unit.


On the team: Eugene Wilson, Rodney Harrison, James Sanders, Dex Reid, and Antuan Edwards.
Practice Squad: Ray Ventrone.
Physically Unable to Perform List: Guss Scott.
I was really hoping to see Guss Scott play this preseason, but he has been injured again and will likely start on the PUP list. Edwards is a veteran without much in the tank, but it may be enough to get him through the first six weeks of the season. Wilson and Harrison are both Pro Bowl caliber, and Sanders has looked good, though Dex Reid stunk last season (not being able to beat out linebacker Don Davis at safety) but earns his spot by his special team play.

Special Teams:

On the team: Adam Vinatieri, Josh Miller, Lonie Paxton.
Practice Squad: N/A
Physically Unable to Perform List: N/A

The hope here is that Paxton stays healthy, Vinatieri signs a long term deal, and Miller shows some consistency.

This gives us 54 players (someone else will likely be hurt), and a lot of questions come week six when the PUP list players are ready to step in and contribute; however, this sure beats the Dick MacPherson/Rod Rust era when no one had any idea beyond 20 players who was good enough to play in the NFL, let alone hard decisions on who to cut.

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