Friday, November 02, 2007

Clash of ideas

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

As mentioned yesterday, Quikdraw is THE MAN when it comes to all things Boston/New England on here - but we couldn't help but wonder what it must be like to be a member of the New England Patriots today. They're 8-0, heading into a huge game with Indianapolis this weekend, the celebrations over the Sox winning the World Series have died down a bit (we assume) and all (or most) of the attention has shifted to what will the Red Sox do this off season. We'll look at three burning questions facing Red Sox Nation - we'll talk Patriots football later.

Should he stay or should he go?

Obviously we aren't talking about Big Papi - he definitely stays. The question is what does Boston do with Curt Schilling - who is looking more and more like a televangelist, pleading (preaching) for a one year deal from Theo Epstein and Red Sox management.

Schilling had a decent year - but not anywhere close to what he has done in the past; and therein lies the problem. Schilling says he believes he can contribute - the question is how much? Schilling's performances over the last couple of years pretty much make him a number three starter on Boston's staff; is that worth a one year deal at $13M? Don't think so.

He's taken his crusade for a contract to the media - which is historically how he has done things. His passive-aggressive way of negotiating has to be a colossal pain to the Red Sox management, and we dare say, to his teammates. Schilling skillfully uses emotional blackmail, and plays on the memories of yesteryear, in making his case for another contract; but if you look at cold hard facts, he wasn't a major factor in the post-season. His standing as number two man in the rotation was largely because Daisuke Matsuzaka was shaky - it wasn't because he proved himself worthy of that spot.

In reading his arguments for a contract, listening to him profess to love Boston (but have up to 10 teams he would play for), we couldn't help but be struck by a subtle sound of regret in his words. Schilling's appeal, his belief that he can contribute, comes off sounding a little like a guy who is trying to get people to ignore the fact that he hasn't taken care of himself physically.

Say what you want about Roger Clemens - he stayed in shape and lost little off his fastball when he hit his 40's; Schilling, by contrast, came into spring training last year a little overweight and out of shape - and through the season, it was clear that he has lost a few mph off his fastball. Schilling isn't the power pitcher he thinks he is. Schilling poses an interesting dilemma though - is he worth $13M and number two status? Not really - but if he comes in at Dice-K money or a little less and agrees that he is going to be the number three guy...then maybe.

The Verdict - if we were running the Sox, we cut him loose - the terms that would have to be agreed on to keep him in Boston might placate him for a little while, but you know he'd start whining about it and become a distraction. Having said all this, we aren't convinced Dice-K is a number two guy either - maybe he'll adjust in his second year, or maybe he'll be another Hideo Nomo. We posted this on the yahoo board back in June with little reaction - but, with the issues the Minnesota Twins are having (possibly losing Santana in a year and likely to lose Torii Hunter this year) Epstein should put in a trade offer for Johan Santana - the perfect 1B to Beckett's 1A. The Sox should put a package together with:
  • Coco Crisp - whose salary is reasonable enough for the Twins to deal with;
  • Clay Buchholz - we'll take a guy who has won a Cy Young over a guy who is projected to win one; plus, by the time he hits his prime, the Sox can sign him as a Free Agent;
  • John Lester or Manny Delcarmen or another minor leaguer.
The Sox farm system is deep enough to absorb the losses of Buchholz and Lester, and re-signing Tim Wakefield is a good stop gap. A rotation of Beckett, Santana, Dice-K, Wakefield - with anyone as a fifth starter - would be far and away the best in the majors (this coming from a Dodgers' fan!). Just hang'em up Curt.

Magnificent Seven or The Bankrobber
Red Sox Nation is on a "Sign Mike Lowell" movement - and who could blame them after the season he had. His swing is tailor made for Fenway Park and his numbers might be a bit inflated because of it. He is an integral part of Boston's Magnificent Seven (Pedroia, Youkilis, Ortiz, Ramirez, Varitek, and pencil in Ellsbury) - Lugo and Drew don't make the cut unless they rebound next year. Red Sox management is saying all the right things about talking to Lowell about a contract - but it seems like they aren't overly interested in offering him $42 - $56 million over the next three to four years.

Which brings us to the man everyone loves to hate - ARod, the man who left $72M on the table to fleece some team into giving him more. Quikdraw believes that Red Sox management will sign ARod - and he makes a pretty good case for it. The production Boston would get from ARod would dwarf the numbers Lowell would put up - at Fenway, ARod would be a 50 HR - 150 RBI guy; the defence would be just as good; and the money Boston could generate from ARod's pursuit of Bonds would recoup a large part of the money they would pay him. Problem with ARod - he's had an adversarial relationship with Jason Varitek, the team's captain and heart and soul. How would ARod fit in in the clubhouse? Ortiz and Ramirez would like welcome him with open arms - but with Varitek the pitbull in there...not so sure how that goes. Chemistry has been integral to Boston's two World Series wins - ARod has never been known for being a team guy.

The Verdict - We'd take a pass on ARod - the baggage and negative attention he brings might not be worth the money, especially if the Sox didn't win another World Series. We'd sit down with Lowell and remind him that guys who love Boston, like David Ortiz, have given the team a discount to stay in New England. 2 year - $24M with a club option for a third. Lowell is smart enough to know that if he goes elsewhere, his numbers will suffer and people will question his worth. In Boston, he's loved, he's revered, and he's a part of the community.

If we were in charge though - we'd be calling the Twins and trying to pry 1B Justin Morneau. If a Santana deal couldn't be worked out - we'd offer the same package for Morneau and move Youkilis to 3rd. A lineup with Ortiz-Ramirez-Morneau would be absolutely deadly. But that's just us musing.

It will be interesting to see how Red Sox Nation reacts to this one. It seems as though the last ball used in the World Series has gone missing. Jason Varitek, Jonathan Papelbon and others are all saying that they don't know where it is.

Maybe Doug Mientkiewicz snuck into the locker room to take it?

Is this just management's clever way of staying at the forefront of Boston sports into the off-season? This promises to be good.

Kudos to those of you who made the connection between the subject line and the headings which all refer to songs by The Clash (the songs fit with the stories).

Detroit Red Wings LW Henrik Zetterberg had two goals in a 4-1 win over Calgary last night - he's had a point in all 14 games the Wings have played this season.

New York Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 31 shots he faced in a 2-0 win over Ovechkin and the Capitals last night.

Too bad Henrik Sedin didn't have a good game last night - three Henriks would have been a first.

New York Islanders G Rick DiPietro stopped all 28 shots in a 4-0 win over Tampa Bay last night.

That's it for this morning gang - we'll check back in this afternoon with our Three Play suggestions - tough night last night. Thanks for taking the time to check in and be sure to scroll down for Tilt's Friday Fox. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, we hope things are groovy in your world.

We're Out!


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