Sunday, July 31, 2005
"Forget about the trade, this is the place I want to be. They want to win. I want to win too. I'm back... I'm just here to play and win, I'm a gangster."
Manny does want to win, Manny is back, and Manny is a ganster.
While all this stuff with Manny and the trade deadline was going on, the Red Sox were able to put together a nice 5 game win streak including a sweep of the Minnesota Twins. Sunday's finale was by far the best game of the series and was perhaps the best game of the season so far.
Last night, the Red Sox were without a starter for today's game. Arroyo went Saturday, Miller's shoulder is bothering him so what would the Red Sox do? Call up a kid from AAA for a spot start. That sounds so good to say that instead of "put out Jeremi Gonzalez" or something along those lines. Jon Papelbon was 5-2 in AA Portland. He was 18-11 in his minor league career. His opponent was Brad Radke. Radke has 133 Major League wins. Papelbon (how many times can I mispell his name in one post?) had to come down to Fenway, pitch in front of 35,000 fans, while the team was in the middle of a veritable storm of BS.
Papelbon went 5.1 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, and striking out 7. He looked shaky late in the game as the Twins saw more of him. This is understandable as he is still developing his curveball. In my opinion, Francona should have taken him out after 5 innings, but it didn't change the outcome of the game. Papelbon, like Delcarmen before him, struck out his first Major League batter. Manny #2 came in and got an out, then Myers and Timlin got the Sox to Schilling who has looked much better in his last few outings. Curt got his 5th Save.
The position players did their share to win the game. Gabe "Ty Law" Kapler had an amazing catch that seemed to jump start the offense in the next inning. Johnny Damon reached base safely in his 43rd consecutive game, Edgar Renteria had a big double, David Ortiz hit a solo Homerun, as did John Olerud who has cleaned up in the cleanup spot, Varitek had a double that moved Olerud to 3rd, allowing him to score, Millar had an RBI SAC-Fly, and of course, Manny Ramirez knocked in the game winning run with an RBI single.
Perhaps the two biggest contributors to this game were Terry Francona and Kevin Millar. I've often criticised Francona's seemingly Little League attitude, and Kevin Millar rarely escapes my wrath when he screws up, but I think they did alot behind the scenes to keep Manny on the team and keep Manny WITH the team. I heard on WEEI that Manny's agent contacted Francona before Saturday's game saying that Manny didn't want to play. Francona scratched him from the lineup. Then he was contacted again with the message that Manny did want to play. Francona wasn't going to play that game so he didn't put him in the lineup. A seemingly small gesture, but one that might have had an impact. On Sunday, Manny was once again absent from the lineup, but this time he was in the dugout with a bat in his hands, talking to Francona while both looked over notes. Francona waited until the absolute perfect time to insert Manny into the lineup, and it paid off.
Kevin Millar will never win a batting title, or a Gold Glove. But if there were an award for clubhouse presence, he'd get alot of votes every season. Alot of times, at least in my personal experiences, the best way to resolve a dispute between two people is to have an intermediary. Someone that both people respect. This person can make both people realize things they wouldn't otherwise realize. This seems to be what Millar did. Before Sunday's game, Manny went to Francona and said he wanted to stay. Who went with him? Kevin Millar. Who lightened up the mood? Kevin Millar.
In the end, the Red Sox got Jose Cruz Jr, a defensively gifted and offensively challenged outfielder who will probably compliment Gabe Kapler. He does have some pop though with 12 homeruns this season. The Red Sox also re-signed Gabe Kapler, picked up Alex Cora and Tony Graffanino, and got Chad Bradford. The team isn't completely assembled though. Schilling still isn't starting, Foulke is progressing with his knees, and there are a number of guys in Pawtucket and Portland and maybe even one in Lowell that will probably show their faces around Fenway before the regular season is over.
There's good reason that any Manny deal never went through. The one that everybody was talking about was the threeway trade with the Mets and D-Rays. The Sox were going to send Manny to New York, some prospects to Tampa, and get Mike Cameron and Aubrey Huff. The deal was killed by the moronic Tampa Devil Rays who decided they can win with Huff and Danys Baez on their team. Tampa felt that they needed to bleed the Red Sox farm system dry. There's no way in hell that the Red Sox would give up the league leader in RBIs, AND some of their top prospects for two slightly above average outfielders. What was Tampa thinking? That entire organisation needs to get its head out of its collective ass and take a look at the world around it. They're a joke of a franchise.
Its more than four hours after the deadline, and it appears as though there were no big trades. Here are all of today's transactions that are listed on ESPN.com:
The Yankees traded Buddy Groom to the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later
The Braves traded Roman Colon and Zach Miner to the Tigers for Kyle Farnsworth
The Red Sox purchased Jon Papelbon's contract from AAA Pawtucket, optioned Lenny DiNardo to Pawtucket, and designated Luis Mendoza for assignment
The Cubs traded Matt Lawton to the Pirates for Jody Gerut
The White Sox traded Ryan Meaux to the Padres for Geoff Blum, recalled Joe Adkins from AAA Charlotte, and optioned Willie Harris and Ross Gload to Charlotte
The Angels recalled Chris Bootcheck from AAA Salt Lake, and optioned Jake Woods to Salt Lake
The Dodgers placed Jayson Werth on the 15 Day DL, and activated Jose Valentin off the 60 Day DL
The Mariners traded Ron Villon to the Marlins for Yorman Bazardo and Mike Flannery, and recalled George Sherrill from AAA Tacoma
The Nationals optioned Marlon Byrd to AAA New Orleans, and recalled Matt Cepicky from New Orleans
Not exactly breaking news for any of these transactions. Granted, some deals might be unannounced, but it appears as though no big names will be traded, at least not without going through the waiver process. AJ Burnett is a Marlin, Manny Ramirez is still in Boston, Jason Schmidt remains a Giant, Alfonso Soriano is still in Texas. How the heck did this happen?
This lack of trades is a result of one thing, in my opinion. The parody that League has. The Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles, White Sox, Angels, Athletics, Rangers, Braves, Nationals, Marlins, Phillies, Mets, Cardinals, Padres, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Twins, Indians, Astros, Cubs, and Brewers all have a chance to earn a playoff berth. That's 23 teams with a shot, albeit a small shot in most cases, and 7 teams that are truly out of it. That means 23 buyers and 7 sellers. This means demand is about three times higher than supply. The result of this inbalance (which ironically comes from remarkable balance) is that the teams that have desirable players such as Aubrey Huff or AJ Burnett, is that they feel like they can ask for more. They feel like they can ask a team to give up its top pitching prospect along with their best position player prospect. They feel like they can throw in an overpaid, under hitting third baseman. The 23 competetive teams are desperate, but not stupid. They're not going to give up more than they should for a player, nor are they going to take on extra money just for the sake of making a deal. I think all of the competetive teams came to the same conclusion. No-one is going to overpay for these players, so we're going to be in the same situation as before. This means that we're still in the race with few teams having any big edge. About the only 2 teams that are essentially assured a playoff spot are the Cardinals and White Sox. These teams didn't have to improve any to get into the playoffs, so they didn't make big moves. The other 21 teams are really competing with each other so if no-one made a move, there would be no clear cut favorite in any of the 6 open races around baseball.