Wednesday, March 21, 2007


The other day, an item appeared on eBay. It was a top of the line grill. Funny thing was, it was declared to be Manny Ramirez's grill. Pictures of Manny with the grill were included along with a description:

"Hi, I'm Manny Ramirez. I bought this AMAZING grill for about $4,000 and I used it once... But I never have the time to use it because I am always on the road. I would love to sell it and you will get an autographed ball signed by me =] Enjoy it, Manny Ramirez."

Although I'm not shocked that Manny might use smiley things like "=]" the item did raise some red flags. First of all, "Manny" declared that the grill cost him $4,000. But the same grill can be seen Here for about $1,750. But then again, I wouldn't put it past Manny to buy a $1,750 grill for $4k.

Then another thing that struck me, and everyone else for that matter. Why the hell would Manny be selling his grill on eBay? It seems like he could sell it through some other medium, rather easily. Then there was the screen name selling it on eBay. It was "mannyramirez" then some numbers. Manny seems like the guy who would have a user name like "DooRag24" or something. Then the fact that the feedback rating next to the user name was 0, indicating that this person had never made a sale.

Amalie Benjamin of's Extra Bases was actually able to ask Manny himself about the grill. Keep in mind that this is the first time Manny has spoken to the media this year, and it's about a fucking grill. What the hell is wrong with this team?

Anyway, Manny said it wasn't his grill. It was his neighbor's grill, and Manny was helping him sell it. So Manny's not a bad dude, he's trying to use his star power and the incentive of including an autographed baseball to help out his neighbor.

But his neighbor is a total DB. His neighbor put an item on eBay, lied about who he was, lied about how much he paid for it, and tried using Manny to help him carry out this con. That's a great deal for him, but a grill for $1,750, then sell it for $4,500+. Hell, he could make a living doing that. A new item every day! Here's Manny Ramirez's tennis racket, bought it for $1,000, sell it for $3,000. Here's Manny's spare tire for an Escalade, bought it for $1,500, sell it for $7,000.

But the one problem in this greedy little wannabe eBay con artist's scheme was his partner: Manny Ramirez. For Manny, being Manny, decided that it was time to talk to the media about the grill, and he told the truth.

So, the scam's over, the grill isn't on eBay anymore, and we're left with images like this:

It's a pretty sweet grill, though, no doubt about that.


I'm really looking forward to seeing what second base will play out to be this season. The strategy will be to platoon rookie Dustin Pedroia and utility infielder Alex Cora. Pedroia's a righty, Cora's a lefty.

Pedroia had limited success in 89 ABs with Boston last season. However, his Pawtucket numbers were fairly good. He hit .305 in AAA with a .384 OBP. He didn't hit for much power, but few second basemen do. He's hitting .297 in Spring Training, with an OBP of .383. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he'll do for us this year and beyond.

He and Cora will split time. Bill James inane baseball stat predictors have proclaimed that Pedroia will have 611 ABs this season. Unless Cora gets hurt, Pedroia hits .375, or the Sox play a TON of extra inning games, this will not happen. At the most, Pedroia will get around 400 ABs, I think.

Cora only hit .238 last season, but if his appearances are limited to favorable situations, that could improve a bit. He and Pedroia currently have the same number of ABs this Spring, and Cora also has a .297 average. Although, his OBP is a lower .325. Cora's presence will keep some pressure off Pedroia.

I expect Pedroia to hit around .270 or so, with an OBP around .350. Cora will hit .240 with an OBP around .310. We're not going to get much offensive production from second base this year, and I expect that Cora and Pedroia will be hitting near the tail end of the lineup.

In case of emergencies, Youkilis might be plugged in at second base, but this will be in dire circumstances.


Thankfully the Sox will not have Todd Helton starting at first this season. It will be Kevin Youkilis. And his job is relatively secure. Last season Youk had a solid year, hitting 13 homers, knocking in 72 RBI, and scoring 100 times. He's not a typical first-baseman in that he isn't a big slugger. But he's not a typical leadoff hitter in that he isn't all that fast. He had 5 SBs last season on 7 attempts.

He did have a .381 OBP, which is where his value lies. He walked 91 times, and although he also struck out 120 times, at least he worked the count a lot. He's the kind of player you have in your lineup so that other players can do their jobs more easily. He compliments power hitters like Ortiz, Ramirez, and to a lesser extent Lowell. He gets on base, wears out pitchers, and helps the team produce runs.

He'll probably see most of the time at first-base, where he's got a decent glove. Unlike previous years, we're not wasting a roster spot on a defensive first baseman, or on Kevin Millar.

Eric Hinske will be the backup at first-base. He'll come in to spell Youkilis, and may come in against difficult right-handed pitchers. He could be used as a pinch hitter for Youk against guys late in the game, depending on situations. If it's a tough righty, Hinske is a lefty. And if we need a hit more than we need the count to be worked, Hinske can do that a bit better.

David Ortiz will see time at first-base during interleague games in NL ballparks. If he sees time there for any other reason, something has gone wrong. During these interleague games, you might see Youkilis playing 2B or 3B to keep him in the lineup.

I think very highly of Youkilis and I think he'll have a good year. He might be pushed further down the lineup with Lugo on the team, but I'd like to see him as a #2 hitter, getting on base and working counts right before the big bats in the middle of the order.

Prediction: .285 average, .400 OBP, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 120 Runs


Really no doubt as to who the Catcher will be to start the 2007 season, and really no doubt who will remain the Catcher, barring any injuries.

Varitek will start
Mirabelli will back up and be Wakefield's personal Catcher
George Kottaras will be the 3rd option, starting the season in AAA

The Catcher position is no longer an offensive position for the Red Sox. Defensively, it is still very sound. However, Sox Catchers are not the most feared by baserunners. But who is? What's important is that Tek calls a good game, and Mirabelli follows the knuckle ball well.

But there's minimal production out of this duo. Tek will be turning 35 in a few weeks, which is 65 in Catcher's years. He still does a good job, but like most Catchers at this stage in their careers, his bat is not what it used to be.

Last season he hit .238, with an OBP of .325. He hit 12 HRs, his lowest total since 2002. Although his ABs were very limited, he managed to slug .400, just barely. I'm not saying he's a hole in the lineup, I'm just saying he is no longer a consistent offensive producer like he was a few years ago.

My completely non-scientific and totally incorrect forecast for Varitek in the '07 season is a .230 average, .310 OBP, .380 slugging, 10 HRs, 60 RBI. He'll probably hit the DL or miss time with an injury at some point, hopefully not for an extensive period.

Mirabelli struggled mightily at the plate last season. He'll start off as the 2nd Catcher, but his job is not secured, not yet at least. He hit .193 with the Sox last season, and .191 in between Boston and San Diego. He did hit 6 HRs, which is good for a backup Catcher, but he also struck out 54 times in 161 ABs. That's a K every 2.98 ABs. For reference, Wily Mo Pena struck out once every 3.07 ABs last year.

Mirabellie has a job now, but Wakefield's position in the rotation is not a sure thing. With Papelbon, Schilling, Beckett, and Matsuzaka, Wakefield is definitely the 5th starter. And Jon Lester might not be too far away. Wake is also versatile so he might be shipped to the bullpen. If this happens, and Mirabelli is struggling, it will be time for Kottaras to be called up.

Kottaras didn't have amazing numbers in AAA last year, but he's got potential. He'll be the Catcher in Pawtucket to start the season. He's also caught knuckleballer Steve Sparks before, so he is a good option for a 3rd Catcher.

All in all, Catcher is not a hole. It isn't going to give us much production, but few Catchers really do. Varitek's value is with the pitching staff. He'll add a few RBI here and there, too. But I see him and Mirabelli either batting 7th, 8th, or 9th and no higher. They'll probably spend most of the season at 8th and 9th.