Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Schilling From Heaven

Before posting the Schilling rumor yesterday, I was working on a piece about how boring this offseason was. I was bemoaning the crummy Celts, wishing for better local Patriot writers, and pontificating about the likelihood of Arod in Boston. Now it seems, dear readers, that you'll never see that article -- unless you buy the Top of the Ninth DVD available everywhere this Christmas. But for now, things have gotten very exciting. Indeed. Curt may be on his way to Fenway, and there's plenty for Daddy to discuss. Here are some thoughts:

  • What do the Sox get?: Schilling's numbers are fantastic, there's no arguing that. His age is a concern, but he had a great year in 2003 even with the hand injury. In only 168 IP, Curt managed to place 5th in the NL in K's and 10th in complete games (he had only two fewer than the entire Red Sox team). His K/9 ratio held solid, normally a reliable indicator of a pitcher's future performance. Breaking Schilling down to numbers though is sort of missing the point. The stats are there, but that's not all. Quite simply - what pitcher would you rather have for the next three years? Schilling combines dominant stuff with incredible durability, big game experience, and has a brilliant mind for baseball and clubhouse chemistry. He is perhaps the most complete pitcher in the game, and a great person as well. Throw out some comparative names...who do you want? Randy Johnson? Similar abilities, but he's already 40. Mark Prior? Equally dominant at a much younger age, but can he put a team on his back for a World Series? Pedro Martinez? He's great, but he hasn't gone 200 innings in 3 years. Pettitte? Mulder? Colon? Please. Simply not in Schilling's league. Great players all, but not the whole UPS. Curt has proven that he can pitch well, pitch long, and pitch big. Not sure what else you could ask for.
    Perhaps the biggest factor of all though, even larger than his skills as a player and person, is Schilling's dream for the Hall. Touched on by Peter Gammons on Monday, this pitcher has, in all likelihood, one chance at going to the Hall of Fame. Had he pitched his entire career like he has since 1998, Schilling would be a solid bet for Cooperstown. His motivation appeared late though, and so did his dominance. Were Curt to return to Philly, stay in Arizona, or even head over to the big N-Y, he wouldn't have a chance. He could finish a nice career and maybe get another ring, but his stats just wouldn't be good enough. Come to Boston, put the city on his back, and bring the city a Series though? He's in like flynn. Schilling is a devout baseball historian, he strongly believes in and understands the importance of the game's past. He knows that only the truly special careers get bronzed and hanged, and he's dying to get there. If Schilling can vanquish Boston's ghosts, he'll get the emotional vote in. In Fenway, he'd a man on a mission. Schilling wouldn't be pitching for a contract, he'd pitching for a career. That's something I want on my side.

  • What do the Sox give up? Frankly, who cares? I love Brandon Lyon, and I promise he will be a major league starter sooner rather than later, but it's tough to project him much beyond the back of the rotation. Fossum has had nothing but trouble adapting to the big league game, and he may not ever make it. Who's Michael Goss? Jorge De La Rosa though is Boston's top pitching propect, which is nothing to wiggle a twiggle at. He's left-handed and throws 95 mph, that's got value. But you don't get something for nothing. The Sox are losing three close-to-MLB arms, but how Arizona goes from asking the Yankees for Johnson and Soriano to getting this is hard to figure. But once again, who cares?

This move is huge. It's not just a hot stove thriller, it's a season-maker. Theo is probably over-spending and extending Boston somewhat beyond its means, but you dream of players like Schilling. As Bill Simmons says: perfect guy, perfect place, perfect time. This could really be it. Oh my.