This past weekend was supposed to be when Manny Ramirez was signed, sealed, sent, and delivered to another team. Of course, the sports writers around the country couldn't figure out where he would be sent. The big rumor the past few days was that Manny would go to Los Angeles to play for Grady Little's Ex-Sox. However, the Dodgers describe any deal for Manny as being "5 percent likely." It seems as though the Sox are stumbling into the biggest road block in trading Manny: getting sufficient value for him.
In the attempted deal with LA, the Sox wanted a bevy of prospects, including 22 year old Jonathan Broxton who is projected as being a closer in the near future. The Dodgers didn't want to give that up. Who could blame them? Why mortgage your future for a player who will play for 2 years, eat up $40 million, and is extremely flighty and flaky.
The Sox tried addressing an issue in their talks with LA. We need a closer. There just weren't many closer free agents out there this season. The Sox even made strides to acquire Brewer Derrick Turnbow, who had a great first half of the season before imploding. He has great stuff when he's on, but he has trouble staying on. I'm sorry, but we need consistency at the closer's spot, not a giant question mark.
The Sox are so desperate, they might even try to get Keith Foulke to return to the team.
I still think we should sign Jose Mesa. He's had experience closing in the past (320 career Saves) and had a solid season in Colorado last year as a set-up man. He had 72.1 IP in 79 appearances with an ERA of 3.86. He also led the team with 19 Holds. He is pretty old, will be turning 41 in May, but I think he'd be a good addition to the bullpen as either a closer for a season, or a set-up man taking some of the stress off of Timlin.
The Sox also did not offer arbitration to Trot Nixon, Mark Loretta, Gabe Kapler, and Doug Mirabelli. They did offer arbitration to Foulke. Will Foulke take it?
So Trot Nixon, who has been with the organization since the days of Lou Gorman, is gone. My reaction? Meh. If you want my honest opinion, Trot was a solid player who was injury prone and ineffective vs. LHP. I feel as though this town overrated him a great deal because he hustled. Isn't hustling a ballplayer's job? All that Dirt Dog, football mentality crap was BS, if you ask me. He was a decent player, but hardly a star. In any other town, he would barely get recognition, but Boston has a way of picking an individual player and falling head over heels in love with him (See: Rico Brogna, Michael Bishop, Butch Huskey, Pokey Reese, John Valentin, and Kevin Millar)
I still remember when there was a rumor that Nixon would be traded for Sammy Sosa, and most of Red Sox Nation bemoaned the idea because Trot had so much potential. That potential was never fully realized. His best seasons were 2001, 02, and 03. Trot averaged about 26 HRs and 90 RBI in those 3 years. Since then, his playing time has dramatically decreased. His production numbers followed. Funnily enough, his salary had increased from $4.5 million in 2004, when he hit .315 in very limited time, to $7.5 million in '05 and '06 when he played a bit more, but still sat out 86 games over those two seasons.
Right now, here's the best I can do to show the composition of the 2007 Sox:
C Jason Varitek
1B Kevin Youkilis
2B Dustin Pedroia?
3B Mike Lowell
LF Manny Ramirez??????????
CF Coco Crisp
DH David Ortiz
SP Curt Schilling
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka?
SP Josh Beckett
SP Jonathan Papelbon
SP Tim Wakefield?
RP Mike Timlin
RP Julian Tavarez
RP Hideki Okajima
Still many question marks.
Do you ever get the feeling as though the Red Sox lack a bit of a long term plan? It seems like the past 6 years, we've had more than our share of players for one or two seasons. Just think, this will be the second time that both Kapler and Mirabelli will be leaving the team. Loretta was a one year acquisition. The Sox will be getting a new short-stop this season for the 3rd season in a row. They also might have a new closer that is actually their old closer. If we do sign Matsuzaka, it will be yet another in a long line of expensive attempts at getting a top of the rotation pitcher.
Since the 2004 championship team, we've seen a new first baseman, will see two new second basemen, three new short-stops, a new third baseman, possibly a new left-fielder, a new center-fielder, a new right-fielder, and at least six new starting pitchers (even more if you count all the part-time #5 starters we had last season).