January 31, 2006

Wells Staying For Now; Gonzalez at SS

If David Wells is traded, it won't happen until after spring training begins.

Theo Epstein has apparently told Padres GM Kevin Towers that he wants to first talk to Wells in Fort Myers before pursuing a deal. Wells's agent Gregg Clifton says the fat lefty will report to camp regardless: "David has always been the consummate professional."

Uh, yeah -- this is the same David Wells who weasled out of hand-shake deal with the Diamondbacks when it suited his selfish purposes.

Alex Gonzalez signed a one-year for $3 million. It's a nice pickup for 2006 -- great glove, nerf bat -- then it'll likely be Pedroia-time.

From the Journal's Sox Talk with Sean McAdam:
I think Clement will stay. He only would have gone in a deal to get them a CF, and now that and SS have been filled, there are no more obvious holes. ... I'm not sure there are going to be any roster spots up for grabs [this spring]. ... The decisions will come at backup catcher, fourth outfielder and maybe the 11th pitching spot. ... DiNardo is a good bet to make the team as the long man/spot starter. I think he impressed them in the final month or so of the season. ...

If Foulke isn't effective, the Red Sox are in trouble -- period. They won't ask Timlin to do what he did last year, and I don't think Tavarez is the answer ... In my view, they would do one of three things: try Papelbon; trade for a veteran closer; or rush Hansen.
If Foulke can't get it done right away, I could see Papelbon as the closer in April. He was impressive last season and the front office has said he'll likely start the year in the pen, anyway.

But even if that doesn't happen, there is no reason why the club would have to go get a "veteran closer". It goes against their current philosophy and, in fact, none of their moves this spring have shown that type of sensibility. Maybe 2006 is the year to finally try the closer-by-committee approach the right way (God knows Gump never figured it out).

January 29, 2006

Link Cleanup

I removed some no-longer-being-updated blogs from the lists on the right, and fixed the minor league team links. There are some new Red Sox blogs I have listed in the past few weeks, so check out anything that sounds interesting.

If there are active Sox blogs you know about that aren't listed, let me know.

Sox Eyed Crisp For 18 Months

The Red Sox had their eyes on Coco Crisp for the last year and a half.

Both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer praised Crisp's on- and off-field makeup.

He's moving into his prime. He helps us get a little bit younger, a little bit more athletic. A couple of his strengths really complement our weaknesses as a club, his defense up the middle and his outstanding baserunning. Also he's a guy who has a chance to hit leadoff. He had a .370 on-base last year away from Jacobs Field and he's got a chance to use Fenway to his advantage.
Almost every person we talked to really thought he would thrive in our environment. He's ... got a certain energy and swagger we think will translate very well to Fenway. ... We’re not in the habit of giving up prospects for short-term gain. We traded a couple of really good 21-year-olds but got some established big leaguers who are 25, 26.
It's safe to say we were not going to give up Marte, probably not in any deal with a player who we'd have under our control for only one to two years. To get a player like Coco, with four years, softens the blow of giving up six years of Andy Marte.
I play hard, I'm not afraid to run into walls or to get hurt. I think that's the type of player they love in Boston and I think that's why they loved Johnny Damon. ... I like to pull pranks. ... I love the whole atmosphere out there, it's very intense - I just sit back and relax.
Crisp will most probably bat leadoff, but with his less-than-stellar walk rate and increased slugging, he would probably fit nicely in the 5th or 6th hole. However, that would mean that Youkilis and Loretta would be 1-2 (or 2-1) and, despite the club's willingness to embrace sound, but unconventional, thinking, I don't see Tito going for that.

January 28, 2006

Crisp Deal Finalized

The Coco Crisp deal is official.

Concern on Cleveland's part about Guillermo Mota's physical meant that Boston had to sweeten the deal, throwing in another player (to be named later, but not Manny Delcarmen) and more than $1 million.

The final trade:
Get              Give
Coco Crisp Andy Marte
David Riske Guillermo Mota
Josh Bard Kelly Shoppach
$1 million
(It turns out that the Sox did not ask either Mota or Josh Beckett to undergo physicals before trading for them (?!?), a decision that shocked the hell out of former team physician Bill Morgan.)

The Sox also signed Dustan Mohr, 29, to a minor league deal. Mohr will be in the mix for the fourth outfielder spot as a possible platoon partner for Trot Nixon.

Worth reading: Sports Guy Bill Simmons's interview with Curt Schilling. Also, the latest issue of GQ lists "The Ten Most Hated Athletes" (as ranked by their peers), and Schilling came in at #4. ... Also from the list, a story about A.J. Pierzynski, who finished #9:
The most telling of the many, many (seriously, you wouldn't believe how willing people were to talk about this guy) Pierzynski anecdotes we heard took place during spring training in 2004. Pierzynski, crouched behind the plate, took a pitch to the groin. Rushing to his aid, trainer Stan Conte asked him how he felt. "Like this!" Pierzynski grunted, then savagely kneed Conte in the balls.

January 25, 2006

In Theo We Trust (Again!)

Just pretend the last 85 days never happened.

Theo Epstein has returned to his old job -- executive vice president and general manager -- with a contract similar to the one he left on the table back in October. Jed Hoyer is now the assistant general manager and Ben Cherington is vice president for player personnel.

The full statements from John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, Hoyer and Cherington can be found here.

The Coco Crisp trade has hit a snag since a Philadelphia radio station reported that Guillermo Mota had failed his physical. Mota's agent denied the report, though he did say that Cleveland had issues with the pitcher's right shoulder. As far as replacing Mota in the deal, Boston may end up parting with Manny Delcarmen.

January 23, 2006

Conflicting Reports on Boston-Cleveland Deal

Jeff Horrigan, Herald:
Over the weekend, the Red Sox and Cleveland Indians reached an agreement that would send 26-year-old outfielder Crisp, and possibly a minor leaguer, to the Sox in exchange for top third base prospect Andy Marte and relief pitcher Guillermo Mota. The deal was contingent upon the Indians completing a trade for an outfielder to replace Crisp, which was accomplished when they apparently settled on sending reliever Arthur Rhodes, or even Mota, to Philadelphia for Jason Michaels.
Chris Snow, Globe:
The Red Sox, according to a source with knowledge of the deal, have reached agreement in principle with the Indians on a complex six-player deal centered upon 26-year-old Coco Crisp that also will bring to town a quality setup man in 28-year-old David Riske and young catcher Josh Bard. Boston will ship top prospect Andy Marte, reliever Guillermo Mota, and catcher Kelly Shoppach to Cleveland.
(Kudos to Snow for also mentioning The Hardball Times, which named Crisp "best defensive left fielder".)

What makes no sense to me is the idea that Cleveland (who tried to trade for Marte last year) would turn around and send Mota to Philadelphia for Jason Michaels. (Ken Rosenthal at FoxSports believes Cleveland will send Arthur Rhodes to the Phillies for Michaels.)

This could just be the Cleveland press reporting silly things, but if Snow's scenario is true, why wouldn't Boston simply trade Mota for Michaels? Is the talent difference between Crisp and Michaels worth Marte? Unlikely. Boston couldn't plug the hole in center by offering one of their starters (Arroyo or Wells), and now they're forced to lose Marte.

Eric Wilbur notes that "While a few Red Sox fans are criticizing the potential deal [as reported by Snow] ... even more Indians fans are doing the same."

Meanwhile, Crisp is working out and "[doing] whatever my wife wants me to do."

January 22, 2006

Crisp Deal Not Official; Rumors Get Worse

I was about to add a sentence to the top of the last post, noting that the Crisp deal has not been officially confirmed, when I read on SoSH that Gordon Edes of the Globe has floated these names:

Are the Red Sox this stupid (or desperate)? As the Manny trade possibilities got nuttier and nuttier, it made sense to walk away. But will the Sox "overpay" for Crisp? I'm no fan of Shoppach and seriously question how much playing time he'll ever get in Boston, but Bard is nothing. And Riske doesn't add anything to the pen we don't already have.

I can live with Crisp for Marte and Mota. But please Ben-Jed-Theo, pull the plug on this other nonsense.

Cuckoo For Coco Crisp

According to baseball sources, the Red Sox and Cleveland Indians have agreed in principle on a deal that will bring outfielder Crisp to the Sox in a multi-player trade. The deal was agreed upon several days ago under the condition that Cleveland be able to acquire another outfielder to replace Crisp, presumably Jason Michaels from the Philadelphia Phillies. ...

The Red Sox will send a package including reliever Guillermo Mota and prospect Andy Marte to the Indians. ... Beyond the acquisition of Crisp, the Sox also are about to sign free agent Gonzalez.
I do not like dealing Marte, but Crisp (26) is not bad. And with Lowell and Yook at the corners, Marte was seen by some in the Sox front office as a top-notch chip to acquire exactly what they needed.

Crisp has some pop (though he seems a bit allergic to walks) and he won't be a free agent until after 2009. He hit .323/.370/.518 on the road last season in about 300 PA (his road OPS from 2003-05 is .780). He hasn't hit that well in the leadoff spot, though the Sox will likely play him there. While he played left field for Cleveland, he was a center fielder in the minors.

The lineup should look something like this:
Crisp, cf
Loretta, 2b
Ortiz, dh
Ramirez, lf
Varitek, c
Nixon, rf
Lowell, 3b
Youkilis, 1b
Gonzalez, ss
Chris Snow reports that
conversations with a handful of general managers and agents indicate that Epstein never completely left, inasmuch as co-GMs Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington regularly consulted with Epstein and operated this offseason much as he would have ...

[T]he perception widely held within Red Sox Nation that the team's baseball operations department was rudderless is not an opinion shared by San Diego GM Kevin Towers, Oakland GM Billy Beane, Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro, Ricciardi, and prominent agent Scott Boras, all of whom have dealt with the Sox this offseason.
Which is just what I've been saying all along! :>)

January 21, 2006

The Pundits On Theo's Return

Dan Shaughnessy is writing crap about the return of Theo Epstein. The CHB ominously states, regarding the "embarrassing" turn of events, that "no one knows how the new arrangement is going to work" and "No one knows how this is going to work". You mean you can't predict the future? No kidding, Dan.

Shaughnessy then refers to Cherington and Hoyer as "the not-ready-for-prime-time co-GMs" and "shotgun wedding co-GMs". It's cute (in a lame sort of way), but not very accurate. From trading for Beckett to getting Marte for Edgar to stealing Loretta for The Stud Who Hits Bombs, I'd say they've done very well this winter.

Tony Massarotti on the ongoing "soap opera" and possible "ticking time bomb" in the front office:
On the surface, it would be easy to celebrate Epstein’s return as a glorious reconciliation, but it would be foolish to do so. ... Epstein is returning, and we cannot help but wonder: Why? ... [I]t certainly seems now — for Epstein, in particular — the chances of failure are much greater than chances of success. If this all blows up again, after all, Epstein will have nobody to blame but himself.
Mazz also claims the franchise has been operating "in a state of flux" since Theo departed.

As usual, Art Martone has a much more balanced view.

In reading about Epstein's return and what the various machinations and supposed power struggles might mean for the front office, I find I don't really care. Not yet, anyway. I don't see a real problem in what has happened this winter. The club has stuck to its philosophy, ignoring those people who would have loved to have kept the 2004 team intact forever. They seem fine with beginning the season with Cora at shortstop and I'm confident a center fielder will arrive in a trade.

Meanwhile, Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer are thrilled to be working with Epstein again. ... Hoyer: "The entire department is very excited. Not only is Theo a great friend, he is a great talent. Having him back only makes us stronger, and our goal is to have the strongest department possible."

From yesterday's online chat with the Providence Journal's Sean McAdam:
Q: Were the Sox really in trouble without Theo Epstein?

A: I'm not sure they were doomed without Theo, but there's little doubt they're better off with him. I think there's a fallacy about how things would have been different had Theo remained on the job last fall. I don't believe that. I think Johnny Damon would still be a Yankee, Edgar Renteria would still be a Brave and Josh Beckett would be in the rotation. I think Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington had a similar philosophy. What they lack, however, is Theo's experience and aggressiveness. ...

Q: What do you think that the two or three strongest possibilities are right now to fill the holes at center field and shortstop, and how realistic are those possibilities?

A: I think Alex Cora will open the season at shortstop. He won't hit much, but neither will free agent Alex Gonzalez, and at least Cora is signed for reasonable money. Pedroia could make things interesting with a good spring training, but I think it's more likely that he gets into the mix in midseason. As for center field, I think they'll try to make a deal for either Crisp or Jeremy Reed. Theo loves Reed, but he won't give Arroyo and Jon Lester for him. So unless the Mariners' asking price comes down, they will focus primarily on Crisp. ...

Q: Do you think Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen, Craig Hansen and Lester will start the year in Boston or Pawtucket? Do you see all of them making it to Fenway by the end of the season?

A: I believe Papelbon will be part of the rotation to start the year. ... It's hard to see Delcarmen or Hansen making the team out of spring training ... I see Hansen as the closer of the future, but they would prefer him to get some Triple A work before putting him in the Boston bullpen. As for Lester, he could do what Papelbon did last year -- spot start in midseason, and be part of the staff in the final two months if he shows he's ready.
That all sounds about right. And couple that with Beckett and a much-improved bullpen and I'm ready to get this 2006 model out of the showroom and onto the street.

Bronson Likes Boston; Six-Player Deal For Crisp?

I agreed to this contract with strong advice from [my agents] not to sign it, simply for the reason that I want to play in this town. I love being a Red Sox. I wouldn't have signed a deal [like this] in any other place. The reason I took a discount was because I love playing here and I want to stay here my whole career. ... They didn't give me any guarantees, but Jed and Ben both stated to me that there were no deals on the table for me right now and they felt pretty strongly that I wouldn't be traded.
Everyone has their own take on the city and how rabid the fans are. I personally love playing here. I think anytime you can step onto the field and have 35,000 fans who are so into the game that you know that if you don't bring your 'A' game, you're going to get booed. ... I also love the city. I love that it's not too big of a town like New York. It is kind of a little, big town. I also enjoy that fans know their baseball here and they take it seriously and they want a winner.
Boston continues to work on obtaining Cleveland center fielder Coco Crisp. The Globe reports there is a six-player deal being discussed. The Red Sox would trade Andy Marte, Guillermo Mota, and a prospect for Crisp and two other players/prospects.
2004-2005  AVG  OBP  SLG
Crisp .299 .345 .456
Damon .310 .373 .458
The club also signed Willie Harris to a minor-league contract/spring training invite. The speedy Harris (49-for-61 in SB) played second base and center field for the White Sox.

January 20, 2006

Welcome Back, Theo!

Can he play center field?
2½ months later, Epstein rejoining Sox
Unspecfied role for former GM
By Chris Snow, Globe Staff

Two-and-a-half months after Theo Epstein left the Red Sox, certain that his heart and soul were no longer fully invested in the job of general manager, the Sox last night announced that the 32-year-old Brookline native will be returning to the organization as soon as next week. ...

The club, in a release, indicated only that Epstein would be rejoining the Sox in a "full-time baseball operations capacity, details of which will be announced next week." However, expectations within the organization point to Epstein returning as the lead decision-maker within baseball operations, with Hoyer and Cherington working under him.

January 19, 2006

Arroyo Signs For Three Years

Bronson Arroyo (who will be 29 this season) agreed Thursday to a three-year contract worth about $11.5 million, avoiding arbitration. The Herald's Michael Silverman says the decision "was made against the wishes of his agents and without a guarantee from the Red Sox that he would be traded". (Also)

Gregg Clifton, one of Arroyo's agents (who felt he should be earning more like $4.5 per season:
[I]t's a discounted deal over the first two years of the agreement. But Bronson believes that taking this deal will allow him to remain a Boston Red Sox for the remainder of his contract and hopefully for the rest of his career by providing this discount to the Red Sox. Bronson loves the city of Boston, he loves the fans and he loves the Red Sox and he wants to finish his career with the Red Sox.
That's a nice deal for the Sox and Arroyo's salary is still low enough to deal, if the front office went that way.

David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez will join Pedro Martinez, Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, and Miguel on the Dominican Republic's roster for the World Baseball Classic in March. ... Guillermo Mota signed a deal for 2006 worth about $3 million. ... Red Sox fan Sky Lucas purchased Terry Francona's World Series Game 4 lineup card for $165,010 in an online auction and may sell replicas of the card. ... Great, more 2004 stuff to buy!

Johnny Damon, speaking to the Miami Herald:
I want to show the Red Sox that they made a mistake and the rest of baseball that I'm not old -- I'm not washed up.

January 15, 2006

Beckett And Loretta Visit Boston

Josh Beckett and Mark Loretta were in Boston on Friday.

I wasn't really thinking about [Fenway] too much. I was kind of tired from traveling. It was neat. Cool place, the smell. I'm glad I wasn't going to the visiting clubhouse, which is good because that's a bad place over there.
It's like going to a museum. I think Fenway suits me well. I don't pull the ball a lot, but right-center field is spacious, so that should help me.
Beckett, on his blisters:
Maybe getting out of the humidity will help me ... The training staff here has some ideas of some stuff I've been doing and some stuff I haven't been doing. ... Every game I ever had a blister come up, it seemed like I either had a shutout or had given up less than two runs.
John Henry denies an ESPN report that Theo Epstein has rejoined the team as a "special assistant" to the owner. "The relationship is what it has been since Oct. 31. Theo talks with Ben and Jed frequently, goes to the office frequently, etc., but he has no formal relationship with the club or with myself."

Gordon Edes has a feature on Mike Lowell and he quotes San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins: "Plumbing the depths of idiocy, the Red Sox signed crazy man Julian Tavarez for setup relief. No problem, though; the Sox' fans are onto his fraudulence. They'll have him run out of town by the trading deadline."

Long-time Red Sox fan Sarah Toomey died at age 105 at the end of December.

January 12, 2006

Red Sox Sign Julian Tavarez

The Red Sox signed the (probably) unstable but talented righthander Julian Tavarez to a two-year deal worth $6.7 million, after being unable to trade David Wells to Los Angeles for Yhency Brazoban.

With a mid-90s sinker and a hard slider, Tavarez has posted ERA+ of 116, 176 and 125 since returning to the bullpen in 2002. He's a righty killer, holding them to a .611 OPS (including a .318 SLG) from 2003-05 (righties did slightly better, with a .753 OPS). Over the last three years, he has held all batters to .253/.317/.342.

His OPS Against stats were a bit higher than that average in 2005, though: .727 vs RH and .823 vs LH.

And he and Manny Ramirez were close in Cleveland. From an article in Newsday from May 16, 1995:
A couple years ago, Ramirez and teammate Julian Tavarez asked a sportswriter if they could borrow $70,000 so they could buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. "That's just Manny being Manny," Hargrove said.
Plus, we learn that the expression "Manny being Manny" is nearly 11 years old.

Right now, we have a pretty solid staff:
Schilling, Beckett, Clement, Wells, Wakefield
Foulke, Timlin, Mota, Seanez, Tavarez, Papelbon, Arroyo
(with Hansen, Delcarmen, DiNardo and others down the road in Pawtucket). However, I have to assume the club is not done and someone -- Wells, Arroyo, and/or Mota -- will be gone by April.

Also: Kevin Millar agreed to a $2.1 million, one-year contract with the Orioles.

January 6, 2006

Could Tejada Replace Manny?

Since "Zenslinger" and I agree on quite a bit regarding The Manny Debate, I don't want this to sound like an attack, but near the end of his comment here, he wrote that Ramirez:
can only be replaced by Tejada, he of the 150 RBIs. Anything less won't do, including the same value spread across several players.
Miguel Tejada is no slouch with the stick, but it's important to remember that Manny Ramirez is many levels above him. He has been so consistent that we sometimes forget how incredible his performances have been, year in and year out.
OPS+ (100 is league avg.)

Manny Tejada

1993 33
1994 124
1995 148
1996 145
1997 143 50
1998 146 78
1999 174 91
2000 185 112
2001 162 112
2002 190 122
2003 160 117
2004 152 126
2005 156 133

Car. 156 112
What else?

Tejada's career-high batting average is .311 -- Manny has topped that 5 times (including .351 and .349).

Tejada's career-high on-base average is .360 -- Manny has topped that 11 times (every year he's been a full-time player).

Tejada's career-high slugging average is .534 -- Manny has topped that 11 times (every year he's been a full-time player).

Tejada's career-high Runs Created is 125 -- Manny has topped that 8 times, tied it once, and had 124 RC in another season.

Tejada career-high OPS is .894 -- Manny has posted an OPS over 1.000 6 times, over .900 11 times; indeed, his career OPS is 1.008.

Based on their career numbers, a team of 9 Mannys would score 9.02 runs a game; 9 Tejadas would score 5.62 runs.

I could go on all night ... but I'll just repeat the OBP and SLG comparisions:

Tejada's career-high on-base average is .360 -- Manny has topped that 11 times (every year he's been a full-time player).

Tejada's career-high slugging average is .534 -- Manny has topped that 11 times (every year he's been a full-time player).

Honestly, it ought to be a crime to say these two guys are anywhere near equals at the plate.

Manny Speaks?

Ramirez was in Miami and spoke to ESPNdeportes.com:
There will be no trade, I'm staying in Boston, where I'm familiar with the system and where I have a lot of friends, especially David Ortiz. ... I know the American League system. That's one reason I don't want to go to the National League. I also want to play for a contender, and I think with Boston I'm assured of that.
However, Manny's agent told FOXSports.com that Ramirez had denied making those comments, adding: "If Boston is able to work out a trade with Baltimore or another team, Manny is still open to making a move."

Someone who spoke with Ramirez yesterday told the Herald that it's more likely Manny has resigned himself to a trade never happening rather than withdrawing his request.

Sean McAdam writes that when the Orioles asked for Andy Marte to be included in the Ramirez/Tejada deal, the Sox asked for Jay Gibbons. Baltimore said no. ... McAdam also says Boston would trade Marte for Coco Crisp.

Ortiz spoke about the possibility of signing a long-term contract extension before spring training; he'll make $6.5 million this year and $8.4 in 2007.
I have two more years. I'd like another four or five years more. I think that would be perfect. By that time I'd be 36, so we'll see. I would like to stay.
Ortiz also had heard about Manny's statement:
I don't know. I have no clue. I think Boston has been good to Manny. Manny does whatever he wants to do in Boston, and nobody messes around with him. I told him, 'Think about it before you get any ideas.'
According to Peter Gammons, who held a Globe web chat this week, the Sox love Alex Cora, Schilling will be healthy, Clemens is not returning, Marte will be in Boston by mid-season, and Theo also would have traded Renteria. And:
Q: Are the Red Sox in your mind behind the Yankees and Blue Jays in the East. If yes, what are chances this could change by opening day?

PeterGammons: I think Toronto right now is the strongest contender in the AL East. Unless the Yankees all get old and their pitching disintegrates, they should be able to win 100 games. Toronto has the best pitcher in the division in Roy Halladay. And they should score a lot more runs than they did last year. My issue is a question of their middle infield defense and the depth of their pitching. What the Red Sox do between now and August 1 will answer a lot of questions.
Gammons also wrote in his January 3 ESPN column:
At the moment, the Red Sox look like a team that could finish third behind the Yankees and Blue Jays in the American League East. The White Sox, Indians, Athletics and Angels appear to have better chances of making the playoffs -- and the Twins, with their pitching potential, could contend if they can find a way to score runs.

January 5, 2006

A Belated Happy New Year!

When it was a straight Manny Ramirez for Miguel Tejada swap, with no contract restructuring, the trade made sense on many levels. I wouldn't necessarily like it, but it could be defended.

Now, with Ramirez possibly demanding his 2009 and 2010 options be picked up and talk of five or six additional players in the mix, it seems like this idea has gotten too complicated and, because the Orioles want some resolution soon, likely will not happen.

According to sources, the Red Sox are offering Ramirez and Matt Clement for Tejada and an outfielder (Baltimore would like to include Luis Matos, while Boston prefers 22-year-old prospect Nick Markakis).

With Jermoy Burnitz signing with Pittsburgh, the Orioles are left with one less outfielder to send to Boston and no left fielder. The Sun says the Birds are "looking for the Red Sox to sweeten the deal" beyond Manny and Clement. The Herald reports today that Baltimore wants Andy Marte in addition to Ramirez and Clement.

A thread on an Orioles message board says a Tejada-Ramirez/Clement trade has been agreed to in principle, but will likely fall apart due to Ramirez's option demands. I like how Orioles fans think the deal is not enough, while I (and others) contend Boston would be giving up too much.

Marte's name also came up in the ongoing talks with Tampa Bay about shortstop Julio Lugo. The Rays would take Marte for Lugo ... mighty white of them.

As 2006 unfolds, Andrew has a detailed recap of 2005.

Finally, here's is a little of what Tony Massarotti wrote in today's Herald about Manny Ramirez:
So let me get this straight: First, Manny Ramirez asks the Red Sox to trade him, continuing one of the great modern traditions in professional sports. Then when the Sox find a deal that might actually make some sense, Ramirez wants his palm greased because he has the right to blow up the deal.

What a country. ... Time to blow the whistle on Manuel Aristides Ramirez, Red Sox followers. This is just going a little too far. ...

Earlier this week, there were whispers that despite wanting out of Boston, Ramirez might exercise his right to veto a trade unless he gets something out of the deal. That translates into an extension of the player's contract through existing options or otherwise, which means Manny wants to be paid if he gets traded.

Can you believe this guy? He takes the Red Sox prisoner and demands a ransom. And even if the Sox meet his request, Ramirez will do in the hostage.
First of all, I love how Mazz moans about "the outrageous world that professional sports has become" -- does he really have 0% knowledge of history or is he playing dumb for his readers?

Second, he's writing as a columnist here; can we trust his writing to be free from obvious bias when he's working as a reporter?