December 23, 2004

Miller, Clement, Payton, Vazquez In; Roberts, Cabrera Out. Gordon Edes has an excellent overview of the Red Sox's latest moves, including signing RHP Wade Miller to a one-year contract, trying to deal Byung Hyun Kim to an NL team, picking through offers for Kevin Millar and Doug Mientkiewicz, talking daily with Scott Boras about signing Jason Varitek before January 8, and passing on Japanese shortstop Tadahito Iguchi, opting for Ramon Vazquez and Kevin Youkilis as the infield subs. [Also good to check periodically: The Buzz]

Vazquez joined the Sox (with Jay Payton) when they traded Dave "Smiley" Roberts to San Diego. Theo on Payton: "We have measured him as a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder at all three outfield positions and he's a righthanded bat with power. We'll get a defensive boost whenever he's in the lineup and also have a good bat against lefty pitching." (Spelling Nixon in right, I guess.) ... Theo on Vazquez: "He's a talented kid who I don't think has reached his full potential yet. He's got very solid on-base skills against right-handed pitching. He's a very patient contact hitter. He's got fantastic hands on either side of the bag, shortstop or second base." Vazquez has played all four infield positions in his career: 181 games at short, 100 at second, 35 at third and three games at first.

Roberts: "This is a dream come true. After winning the World Series you don't think it can get any better, but it has. [He has lived in San Diego County since he was 12] ... I grew up a San Diego Padres fan. That's all I knew when I was younger, watching guys like Tony Gwynn. It didn't seem like this could ever happen. It's something I wanted so much my whole life."

Theo: "I think his stolen base, at least as far as we're concerned, was one of the biggest stolen bases in baseball history, let alone Red Sox history, because we went from potentially getting swept against the Yankees to winning the whole thing for the first time in 86 years." ... Red at writes to Roberts and speaks for all of us. ... I'll have to take a trip to Shea when San Diego comes to town and thank him in person.

In a Herald pay column, Gerry Callahan praises Theo for thinking with his head and not his heart. "In four months, the Sox lost their two most popular players, and yet eight weeks from now the most popular Sox team ever will touch down in Fort Myers like Lindbergh in Paris. Epstein has been the general manager for two seasons. He won a World Series and was one Grady Little meltdown short of another. If that doesn't earn the GM the benefit of the doubt, nothing does. When he landed Clement, one baseball writer said the Sox continue to make sabermetrically sound moves. Translation: Epstein is not trying to make a splash. He is trying to make the playoffs again. The Sox might lose more of their World Series heroes before this winter ends, but as long as Epstein keeps his head, they have a real chance to do it all again next year."

David Heuschkel lays out Theo's brilliance: "The Yankees will pay Carl Pavano an average annual salary of $10 million over the next four years. For the same amount, the Red Sox added two quality starters to their 2005 rotation: righthanders Matt Clement and Wade Miller. ... Another way to look the revamped Red Sox rotation: Rather than pay Pedro Martinez $14 million next season, Epstein used that money to sign Clement, Miller and David Wells."

Clement on Miller: [T]hat's a great pickup. I got to see him quite often over the last couple years. The only thing that stopped him is ... a couple freak injuries. A great pitcher. Hard thrower. He pitched well against us many times over the last three years." ... Some Clement stats: In 2002-04, he limited opponents to a .223 average (7th lowest among all MLB pitchers), going 35-36 with a 3.80 ERA in 94 starts. Last season, he pitched at least six innings in 22 of his 30 starts, and allowed two earned runs or less in 15 starts. During a five-game losing streak (June 18 to July 16) he posted a 2.37 ERA.

The Dodgers backed out of the Randy Johnson mega deal, causing chuckles throughout RSN. However, the Herald's Michael Silverman says the Unit will be in pinstripes eventually -- "whether it's this week, next week, next month or next July." ... The Post notes that New York and Arizona will take a break from negotiations until after the holidays.

Finally -- "Rivals in Exile: Feeding Frenzy" by Ben Jacobs (Red Sox) and Larry Mahnken (Yankees) (December 20, 2004)

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