December 2007

Season for the Books

We live in a literary world here in Red Sox Nation, so of course we are going to have books written about a championship team.

Johnny Pesky has one out now that every big fan would probably want for Christmas. MLB.com contributor Maureen Mullen wrote it with him. It looks like a great read. It’s called Diary of a Red Sox Season .

NIck Cafardo from the Boston Globe also has a book out, one of those coffee-table style books with great pictures and descriptive stories taking Sox fans through the Years. It’s called  Red Sox Yesterday and Today.

And today, a big announcement on WEEI-850 AM. Rob Bradford of Boston Herald Fame is ghostwriting the autobiography of World Series MVP Mike Lowell. Mike and Rob are a heck of a team. They are both honest, straightforward people who know how to tell a story with the words to fit the occasion. Mike’s story is one that will motivate just about anybody. Expect this book to hit the stores sometime before Father’s Day and you know this one is going to fly off the shelves.

OK, since we are on the topic of books, I might as well give my own book a shameless plug. I’ve written a book not with Daisuke Matsuzaka, but about him, chronicling his first Major League season. There are chapters about Dice-K’s heroics in high school, and in Japanese Pro Ball, as well as the eventful quest by the Red Sox in closing the deal. But the meat of the book is the 2007 season, chronicling Dice-K’s ups and downs. The book is already out in Japan, but not available in the United States and in the English language until probably March. Here is the pre-order link.

There are also Red Sox movies to be seen over the holidays. Everyone should have the two-DVD set Rooters. This is the story about Red Sox fans, tracing back to the late 19th century and weaving all the way through the years. It is wonderfully done and narrated by Mike Adams.

And, I’d also give high recommendations to the The 2007 World Series Film, and NESN’s comprehensive look at the ’07 season called Champions Again. And if you order it here, it comes with a free copy of Faith Rewarded, the chronicle of epic 2004.

I hope that helps everyone’s Christmas shopping just a little. Happy Holidays.

Ian.

A Take Worth Reading

I know we are all just about Mitchell’d out by this point, but I thought Curt Schilling’s 3,676 word blog on the matter, which he posted today at 38pitches.com was positively outstanding. In baseball speak, Curt cranked one out of the park here. For lack of a better way of putting it, he did not get cheated.

Schilling praises players such as Brian Roberts and Andy Pettitte, who admitted they were guilty, for coming clean.

His stuff on Jose Canseco and Roger Clemens was particularly insightful:

After lambasting Canseco for cheating through his entire career, Schilling rightly points out that there had to be a great deal of accuracy to his book.

"Which in the end gets us here. Say what you want about Jose, and there
are things I disagree with and think he’s wrong about, but I have yet
to find someone he’s named who’s NOT been guilty or tried to clear
their name," wrote Schilling. "The view I have on that is maybe a bit too simplistic but I look at it
like this. If Jose had named me in his book, it would have taken about
20 minutes for me to issue a press release vehemently denying the
allegations, which would have been as closely followed as possible by
as large a legal action as I could have possibly taken to sue for
slander, libel, defamation of character and anything else I’d have been
able to legally do. It’s either that, or I’m guilty. There is no gray
area here, you either did, or you didn’t and Jose, up through today,
hasn’t called out anyone that’s sued his *** off for false
representation, slander, libel or whatever you would do if someone said
something like this about you, that you didn’t do."

Which brings us to the Rocket. We all know that Schilling was as avid a Rocket follower as there was, which had to make it hard for him to be so candid when dissecting the current situation. But Schilling cut no corners and paid no favors to Clemens. Instead, he challenged Clemens to prove his innocence.

"It’s no mystery that Roger and Andy [Pettitte] are as close as any two teammates I
know of. Andy makes no bones about Rogers influence in his career.
Their personal trainer, the trainer Roger took to Toronto, then to NY,
has admitted to administering PED’s to both men. Andy has admitted he
did, and that it was a mistake and he never did it again. Roger has
denied every allegation brought to the table. So as a fan my thought is
that Roger will find a way in short order to organize a legal team to
guarantee a retraction of the allegations made, a public apology is
made, and his name is completely cleared. If he doesn’t do that then
there aren’t many options as a fan for me other than to believe his
career 192 wins and 3 Cy Youngs he won prior to 1997 were the end. From
that point on the numbers were attained through using PED’s. Just like
I stated about Jose, if that is the case with Roger, the 4 Cy Youngs
should go to the rightful winners and the numbers should go away if he
cannot refute the accusations."

That’s powerful stuff.

Theo's a dad

Congratulations to Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. His wife Marie Whitney gave birth to the couple’s first child this morning. Son Jack was born shortly before 11 this morning, weighing in at seven pounds, 14 ounces. He is 20.5 inches long.

Fittingly, the child was born on a baseball deadline day. All general managers must tender contracts to unsigned players by midnight tonight. I’m thinking that Theo was probably able to delegate this to Jed Hoyer or one of his other trusted assistants so he could be with wife and baby!

In other news, Red Sox spanish broadcaster Uri Berenguer — who also has a radio show on XM — is feverishly trying to raise funds on behalf of the Jimmy Fund for the 2008 Boston Marathon. Uri has a deadline of 5 p.m. Friday and is currently a good bit short of his goal. Uri is a cancer survivor himself. It’s a great cause. Anyone who wants to help Uri, please do so at this URL.

Thanks,

Ian.

No Johan?

Still no deal between the Red Sox and Twins for Johan and maybe there won’t be. The sides just can’t seem to find a fit that makes both teams happy. This is, unless the Twins are merely seeking everyone else’s last and best offer, only to decide Boston’s offer is the best.

It’s starting to seem like the Twins just might keep Santana and see what they can get for him later in the winter, or once the season starts. Doesn’t this remind you a lot of the way things went with Manny the last few offseasons?

Every winter, it seemed, the Sox were going to trade Manny. That was, until they couldn’t get another team to sweep them off their feet. And then Manny would wind up right back in Boston. It doesn’t seem like the Twins have burned any bridges with Santana, or vice versa.

If Santana goes to another team besides the Yankees, I don’t think the Red Sox will be all that heartbroken. In that case, the Sox could hang on to all their young players and save that $150 million for something else.

Finally, there is an old-fashioned podium announcement here in Nashville as right now the Tigers and Marlins GMs are discussing the Cabrera-Willis blockbuster.

I wish there was more excitement to fill you in on here in Nasvhille, but there really isn’t.

Ian.

Greetings from Nashville

Hi all. I’m here at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville for the start of the Winter Meetings. It’s all Johan Santana all the time, as everyone is wondering whether the Twins will accept A) Boston’s offer; B) New York’s offer; C) None of the above.

Hank Steinbrenner certainly made his feelings known yesterday and has given the Twins a deadline of the end of today. We’ll see if that deadline is real or artificial.

At around 3:20 eastern time, a few Boston writers — including yours truly — bumped into Theo Epstein. Disappointingly for all you folks out there looking for some hot news, Theo said that things were quiet right now. Of course, we all know that can change in a heartbeat.

I bumped into Twins closer Joe Nathan earlier today, who stopped by because he lives in Nashville.

Joe had some interesting things to say about his teammate:

“Obviously I’m paying attention and seeing what’s going
on. Fortunately for me, it’s nothing I have to make a decision on. The Twins
definitely have a tough decision. The one good thing is if they don’t decide to
do anything, worst case scenario, we’ve got Johan Santana from day one. It’s a
situation where if they do decide to do something, more than likely, they’re
going to bring some guys over with some talent that will help us out in the ’08
season. either way, I think we’re in a good situation.”

“Any time you lose a pitcher, if we did lose a pitcher
like Johan, on and off the field, he’s a special person. Great guy to have,
obviously when he’s on the mound. When he’s off the mound, he’s the kind of guy
who keeps you relaxed, keeps you upbeat.”

Possibility of Johan going to Boston or New York: “Obviously
those are the teams that are throwing around some pretty big names to try to
get him. Boston and New York, who are usually in the mix to get
these types of players. They have players who can make the trade look
interesting. We’ll see what happens. It’s obviously a situation where if Johan
goes to Boston,
that starting rotation is going to be pretty tough to beat. Same thing goes in New York. He’s going to
improve a starting rotation, with that offensive lineup they have in New York, you put him in
that rotation and he’ll be pretty much impossible to beat when the Yankees are
putting up close to double digit numbers.”

 Pitching in a bigger
market, “I don’t think he would treat it any differently. Once he steps between
the lines, whether there’s 50,000 people in the stands or 20, he doesn’t treat
it any differently. He won’t try any harder or any less.”

In other news, I saw Jerome "The Bus" Bettis roaming the lobby. You just never know who you’ll bump into at the Winter Meetings.

Rob Bradford from the Boston Herald got an interesting nugget on his bradfordfiles blog today. Bob Watson said that Terry Francona will have to wear his uniform next season, and not under the pullover he wears.

“There’s going to be, for lack of a better term, a ‘Francona Rule," Watson told Bradford. “You can only wear your uniform top or jacket. You
can’t wear your night-shirt, or whatever it is. You can wear it before
games, or after games, but not during games. You have to have your
uniform top at all times.”
 

Watson also told Bradford that teams haven’t been notified of the new policy yet.

“They will be informed. There will be no doubt.”

For what it’s worth, the Mariners are out of the Santana sweepstakes. Then again, were they ever really in it?

In other news, I had an outstanding sushi lunch today. Just thought you’d want to know. Who would have thought you could find such good sushi in Nashville.

**** Williams, the manager of Boston’s Impossible Dream Team, has been elected to the Hall of Fame. Good for Williams. It’s well deserved and probably long overdue.

The Boston writers are expected to meet formally Epstein at about 6:30 Eastern time. I’ll let you know what comes out of that.

Until then, hasta la vista!

Ian.

Johan or not?

What a great position the Red Sox are in for these Johan Santana sweepstakes. Flat out, they are not going to give up Ellsbury, they are not going to give up Buchholz. So make the best offer without giving up one of those two. We’ve heard what is likely on the table. Coco, Lester, Lowrie and either Bowden/Masterson. Maybe the Twins will do that. Maybe they won’t.

But if they don’t, it looks as if the Yankees are going to give up Phil Hughes, who could emerge into a bona-fide ace while making as much money over the next six years as Santana will make in one year.

The Red Sox have Beckett, they have Matsuzaka, they have Schilling, they have Buchholz. The Yankees? They have Wang, who proved he’s not good enough to be an ace for a championship team. The Yankees are desperate for Santana. He would be more of a luxury item for the Sox.

So Theo will wait and see how this plays out at what should be an action-packed Winter Meetings in Nashville. If the Red Sox do get Santana, what a dagger that would put in the heart of the Yankees. Where would New York turn from there? Dan Haren?

Joel Sherman wrote a great column in the NY Post yesterday pointing out how every time over the last several years that the Red Sox and Yankees have gone for an elite pitcher, Boston has prevailed. This goes back to Dan Duquette snaring Pedro. It goes back to Theo grabbing Schilling. It goes to Theo’s temporary replacements getting Beckett. Theo and Henry, Lucchino and Werner were bold enough to make the investment on Dice-K while the Yankees stood around. We’ll see how well that one works out. The jury is still out. Meanwhile, the Yankees have gotten Contreras, Kevin Brown, Pavano and other guys who haven’t made a difference.

If the Red Sox get Santana, this could set the Yankees back quite a few years. If they don’t, they’ll still contend for a championship. What a position to be in.

Sorry for the sporadic blogs of late. I should be back on track during the Winter Meetings in Nashville, where the goal will be at least one post a day.

I’ll talk to you from there starting Monday.

Ian.

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