Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays From Keep Your Sox On!

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except for Curt Schilling calling out Roger Clemens in his blog;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Johan Santana soon would be there (but please don't trade Ellsbury);

Red Sox Nation was nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of future championships danced in their heads;

And Hazel Mae in her 'kerchief, and Jerry Remy in his cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
Jerry sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash (making sure not to knock over Wally).

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight championship pitchers in the guise of reindeer ("Nahmally," he thought "you don't see pitchers playing reindeeah"),

With a young driver, so lively and quick,
He knew in a moment it must be St. Theo.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Wakefield! now, Beckett! now, Matsuzaka and Okajima!
On, Papelbon (and your overeager dog)! on Delcarmen! on, Tavarez and Timlin!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the Green Monster!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of rings, and Theo Epstein too.

And then, in a twinkling, Jerry heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each pitching foot.

As Jerry drew in his hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Theo came with a bound.

He was dressed in slacks and button down shirt from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of player development profiles he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

And Jerry laughed when he saw him, in spite of himself;
A wink of Theo's eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave Jerry to know he had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But Jerry heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Hot Stove to all, and to all a good-night."

Friday, December 14, 2007

The MITCHELL! Report

What better way to start discussing the most damaging MLB investigative report ever than to open with a Joe Don Baker movie of the same name. Mitchell is like the white version of Shaft… no wonder it got the MST3K treatment.

Anyway, the Mitchell Report tells us a lot about who used Steroids and HGH over the last 20 or so years in Major League Baseball. It names names, points fingers and has a ton o' evidence to support it. It’s the smoking gun everyone has been waiting for or dreading depending on how you feel about our national pastime.

Personally I almost wish that this dirty laundry stay hidden and never saw the light of day…but with this many people and with so much pressure from the US Government (seriously, don’t you guys have better things to do?) this was bound to happen.

So without further adieu…here is my cherry picked list of favorites (and least favorites) from the Mitchell Report. The full list of players can be found here and the complete document (yikes) can be found here.

The “No Duh! I Already Knew That” Group
Barry Bonds- That does not help your court case buddy.
Jose Canseco- He even tried to bust in on the press conference with an “I told you so!”
Rick Ankiel- So much for that comeback of the year award.
Rafael Palmeiro- No more finger pointing?
Gary Mathews Jr.- Still, nice catch…
Jason and Jeremy Giambi- Only one of them was taking the “good” steroids though.
Gary Sheffield- I guess flaxseed oil isn’t a truth serum.

The “Well That Makes Sense” Group
Jose Guillen- Roid rage poster child.
John Rocker- No longer just a racist.
David Justice- Former Mr. Halle Berry
Troy Glaus- Always looked the type to me.
Benito Santiago- Popeye arms… but tainted spinach.
Kevin Brown- Loved seeing him on here. I guess that’s why he punched that wall so hard.

The “Dirty Dealer” Group
Larry Bigbie
Paul Lo Duca
After looking through the report, it seems like these two knuckleheads were responsible for introducing tons of players to the trainers and other contacts that had the illicit substances. Way to go guys…share and share alike.

The “Media Frenzy” Group
Miguel Tejada- Biggest current bat on the list. Have fun in Houston next year Miggy.
Andy Pettitte- Biggest current Yankee on the list. Graphic details in the report too.
Roger Clemens- Biggest asshole on the list (close vote). He and Pettitte got some special treatment in the report due to the first hand knowledge of the accuser. This was almost like a Christmas present.

The “Say it Ain’t So” Group
Chuck Knoblauch- Knob-head? Really? This was the “scrappy guy” I grew up laughing at as he threw the ball in the stands.
Brian Roberts- Wow. Just never would have guessed him. He seemed to have the shakiest evidence in the report however.

The “Red Sox Connection” Group
Brendan Donnelly- Only one of 2 Sox who played on this years team. Roids were done before he joined.
Eric Gagne- The other one. He should have KEPT on taking them. Maybe he wouldn’t have sucked.
Mike Lansing- This one kinda shocked me. I always thought of him as a small quick guy. Shows what I know.
Mike Stanton- Traveling Mike on the juice? Maybe this explains why he was in the league for 40 years.
Paxton Crawford- His name came up months ago. I barely remember the guy but it still fires me up that he was using while on the Red Sox.
Mo Vaughn- This one really hurts. Add him to the “Say it Ain’t So” Group too. It was said he used it to rehab his ankle... but man, does this do a number on my inner child Sox fan.

The “Bad Rumor” Group
This is a collection of names that were on a false early report leaked this morning or just rumored from some other spot. NONE OF THESE GUYS ARE IN THE FINAL REPORT.

Albert Pujols- One of the faces of baseball? I feel like we dodged a bullet here.
Nomar Garciaparra- This would have made me sad…
Trot Nixon- …but not as much as this and…
Jason Varitek- …not NEARLY as much as this.
Carl Evertt- Crazy Carl is all natural.
Johnny Damon- Would have made some sense…and made me laugh.
"Your Kiss"- As reported by Hall and Oats.
A-Rod- Not mentioned at all, but I did notice he pushed to get his contract finished before the report came out today…makes you think…well, not really.

So that’s my personal short version of the guys who graced the content of this fine publication. But now that the Mitchell Report is public…there are still a lot of questions. Are these all stone cold facts (not really)? What’s gonna happen to these guys who got caught (probably nothing)? Should this list even have been made (yeah…but maybe not for the public)?

It’s kinda like Pandora's Box, but the lid's been off for years…we’ve just never looked inside before. This might have been something that could have been done internally, but alerting the public and media gives just the amount of outrage to the story.

The moral of this report? Try not to hangout with Paul Lo Duca and don’t pay for Roids with checks. Words to live by.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

What to Do...What to Do

It wouldn't be a hot stove season at Keep Your Sox On unless our pal DC had a few pearls of baseball wisdom to dispense to the fortunate masses. Here's his take on how the front office is doing as they gear up for the 2008 campaign. Enjoy...

I've been promising to give my opinion of the off-season needs of the Old Towne Team ever since the World Series ended. So why am I so late in doing so? Well, let’s just say that living with Robin can apparently make you lazy through osmosis. So yeah, I know Theo and the boys have already done some things but its never too late to chime in. So without further ado, we might as well start with what’s already happened...

Moves Made:
  • Schilling Re-signed – I would have approached this exactly as the front office did. The pitching market this off-season is as dreadful as Ron Jeremy’s physique, so why wouldn’t you throw a one year deal at Schill? Even if he’s no longer a top two guy, he's still a workhorse who competes, drives the rest of the pitching staff, and wants to win. Maybe he can even teach young Clay how to put a little meat on his bones.

  • Lowell Re-signed – This too was ideal in my eyes. I was saying during the World Series that they should offer the Cuban George Clooney a 3 year deal with a club or mutual option for a 4th. Turns out, they got the man with the golden glove for 3 years without the option. So now we all win, Lowell gets paid, the Sox get a World Series MVP, we all get to enjoy his flawless defense and my girlfriend still has someone to think about while we’re in bed...yeah, don’t ask.

  • Wake’s Option Picked Up – This was a no-brainer! Timmy Knuckles continues to be one of the biggest bargains in the league. The guy gives you quality innings, saves your pen, and is one of the vets who keeps things loose. Wake’s option will be picked up every year until he decides to hang it up...and then hopefully he’ll go teach the knuckleball to our A and AA squads.

  • JT’s Option Picked Up – Much like signing Schilling, this makes total sense. The free agent relief pitchers this year are like a who’s who of crap. The devil that you know is much better than the devil that you don’t...particularly when the devil that you know is nuttier than squirrel turds and a quality relief option.
Work To Be Done:

I like the strategy that Theo and the moneymakers seem to be following. In short, secure the starting line up, re-arm the bullpen and then fill in the bench. So let’s look at these three tasks in order:

  • Starting Lineup – With Lowell signed, the only decision to be made is who’s in center field. Personally, I like Coco. The guy is a freaking vacuum in center field, only if a vacuum was jet-propelled and was able to fly through the air like Bobby Orr. That being said, Jacoby is clearly the talk of the town and is clearly talented. Sounds like a no lose situation to this guy.

  • Bullpen – As of right now we have a pen of Paps, Okie Dokie, MDC, JT Killer, Javier the Lesser, and Franken-Bronson. Unfortunately a quick perusal of the free agent market leaves you feeling like you just ate a crate of Hot Pockets. While optimistic Sox fans may have faith in the emergence of Bryan Corey and Brendan Donnelly, the reality is we’re talking about a 34 year old with only 3 years of experience in the bigs and a guy coming off Tommy John surgery. So, the front office is going to have to rescue some arms off of this year’s free agent scrap heap and they already missed out on the likes of Kerry Wood, David Riske and Scott Linebrink. Here are some viable options:

    • Mike Timlin – This guy is quickly becoming the ageless wonder. Just when we were all writing him off this season, he came back and cut through more lumber than Paul Bunyan. As long as Tito doesn’t overuse him, he'll be great for 2008.

    • Jeremy Affeldt – Managed to rejuvenate his career for this year’s NL Champs and he’s one of the few free agents who’s actually under 30.

    • Ron Mahay – I don’t know...why not? I trust him more than LaTroy Hawkins.

  • Bench – At this point our bench consists of Alex Cora and the aforementioned Ellsbury. That means we probably have 3 spots that need to be filled and they most likely need to be an outfielder, catcher and utility guy...

    • Catcher – I know somehow Belli fell out of favor with the Boston fans. But here’s the deal, no other guy in the league is a sure thing when it comes to catching Timmy Knuckles. There is no youth available so you’re not getting Tek’s future replacement this off season. So why not go with the sure thing?

    • Outfielder - Bobby Kielty: that huge home run in the World Series has got to be worth something right?

    • Utility - Rob Mackowiak, Eric Hinske, Mike Lamb – None of them are going to carry a team any time soon. But each will give you innings at multiple positions and they all have experience starting games if need be.
Irons in the Fire:

You didn’t think we could go through this roundup without discussion of the blockbuster trade rumors, did you? Honestly, the Santana trade makes me uneasy because of the size of the contract that it will take to complete this deal. $25 million a year is a lot of money for any pitcher. At this point, making a trade for Erik Bedard is more enticing. This trade will cost the Sox fewer prospects and less money. In fact, the ideal move here would be something along the lines of Lester, Coco, Jed Lowry and a mid-to-low level prospect for Bedard and Kevin Millar. This gets Theo the splashy pitcher that he wants, solves the need for a utility guy and makes Boston the most fun-filled clubhouse in the league again. Everybody wins! Regardless of who the Sox trade for (Santana, Bedard, Haren) the real concern here is what does this mean about Dice-K? Do Theo and the boys no longer see him as Schilling’s replacement as 1A to Beckett’s 1?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hell No! Don't Let Jacoby Go!

Ladies and gentlemen of Red Sox Nation, I want to thank (most of) you for not being retarded. I'll admit my lack of faith: When I saw that had posted a poll asking users whether or not the Sox should include Ellsbury in a deal for Santana, I was pretty sure results were going to swing to a decisive yes, and that I was going to rant on for several paragraphs about why that would be such a bad idea. Instead, out of the 50,000 or so of you who answered, only 18.2 percent were so thick headed as to want Santana at any cost, and I appreciate that level of intelligence very much. (By the way, if you disagree with me, feel free to let me have it in the comments section.)

Whether or not the front office shares that same intellectual fortitude still seems to be a matter of worrying discussion, with silence on the matter reigning from the negotiating powers that be. If Ellsbury is on the table, I have two hopes:
  1. That he's part of a ploy by the Sox to get the Yankees to abandon Hank Steinbrenner's latest foolish ultimatum and overbid by including Ian Kennedy in a deal. Sure, Santana would end up in pinstripes, but as I've observed before, that's not a situation that I find particularly concerning.
  2. That Boston remembers that while they don't need Santana (they'd just like to have him), the Twins only have until July to get something for their ace before he walks out the door and leaves them with a draft pick. Santana may generate interest from multiple teams, but the Twins are still in the weaker bargaining position.