Thursday, January 27, 2005

And your 2005 Red Sox are...

Well, the Carlos Delgado sweepstakes are finally over - Carlos signed with Florida on the 26th for 4 years and $52 million, with an option for a fifth year and an additional $14 million. As expected, since Minaya failed to attract Delgado to Queens, he was happy to resolve Theo's "I've got two full time first basemen" problem and Doug Mientkiewiecz was dealt to the Mets for first base prospect Ian Bladergroen. Bladergroen has shown abilities with the glove and has some power and the Sox front office sees him as a good way of rounding out the farm team in an area that was lacking in coverage.

Kevin Millar, of course, is thrilled he isn't being traded - and who could blame him? - and plans to reward Epstein's faith by making himself a better defensive player this coming season. Of course, to be a little cynical, it's a contract year for Millar this year, which is probably encouraging the 33 year old to work that much harder in '05. But apparently he's been captured by Boston's spell - somehow I trust a guy like Millar when he says there's no other team he'd rather play with and that he'd like to end his career with the Sox. I also trust Epstein to not chase Kevin away (ala Dan Duquette) if he continues to perform.

My take on the situation was mixed. On one hand, Millar is more of a power hitter than Mientkiewiecz - Millar's up 86 points on slugging and their on base numbers are within two points of each other. Even if Mientkiewiecz had a better hitting year this year, Millar would, presumably be driving in more runners, especially from the number six spot. Besides, this the AL - power means more here. Also, Millar's role as a cheerleader on the team the past two years cannot be overlooked, no matter what the stats people say. I wanted him on the team for that alone.

On the other hand, we all know Doug is the better defensive first baseman by far, especially when it comes to zone rating - Mientkiewicz just has the better range. Obviously, it was a lot of fun to have the dream infield last year and remembering the Sox defensive woes before the Nomar trade, I was not a fan of losing a gold glove at first. I think in the end though, I'll take the trade - we have another excellent shortstop this year in Renteria, we don't have Derek Lowe and his unnatural reliance on defense to win games and in the scheme of things, have a strong glove at first is not as important as strong gloves up the middle. Renteria obviously fits the bill there, Damon is fast enough to catch most of the balls hit to Bellhorn just has to cut those 11 errors at second in half and I'd say we're set.

So, assuming there aren't any injuries during spring training, we're looking at:

Positional players:
  • catcher - Jason Varitek
  • first base - Kevin Millar
  • second base - Mark Bellhorn
  • short stop - Edgar Renteria
  • third base - Bill Mueller
  • right field - Trot Nixon
  • center field - Johnny Damon
  • left field - Manny Ramirez
  • designated hitter - David Ortiz
  • backup - Kevin Youkilis, Hanley Ramirez, Ramon Vasquez, Doug Mirabelli, Kelly Shoppach, Jay Payton, Adam Hyzdu and Adam Stern
  • Starters: Curt Schilling, Wade Miller, David Wells, Matt Clement, Bronson Arroyo and Tim Wakefield
  • Bullpen: Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Matt Mantei, Abe Alvarez, Tim Bausher, Juan Cedeno, Manny Delcarmen, Lenny DiNardo, John Halama, Byung-Hyun Kim, Mark Malaska, Anastacio Martinez, Luis Mendoza, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Smith
  • Closer: Keith Foulke
What can I say? I'm psyched for baseball to start again and see what this team can do.

Other things of note: the ball "controversy", such as it was (and I hope this is not how the Boston sportswriters choose to spend their time in the post-championship world) is now over: Mientkiewiecz is loaning the ball that ended the drought to the Red Sox for a year, where it will presumably tour with the World Series trophy. After that, Doug will most likely get the ball back. He says the Hall of Fame has not contacted him about it and he will worry about putting it in a museum when/if it ever comes up.

Along with Faithful (which will be the next review, I promise), I also just finished Jerry Remy's book, Watching Baseball: Discovering the Game within the Game, which will get a review of its own very shortly. All this baseball reading has me wanting it to be April again and I had a dream the other night the Sox and Yankees were facing off in a three game series in the middle of January. No one seemed bothered by the cold though, so the games went pretty well. At the very least, maybe it's a sign that winter will be particularly short this year? GO SOX!!!