Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Where Do We Go From Here?

First off, I'd like to thank all the folks who were still regularly visiting during The Ninth's posting hiatus of the last week or so. While I've been padding my acting resume (loyal (ahem) Bravo viewers will soon be greeted by a heavy dose of The Ninth in person), the Red Sox have been so utterly uninspiring that it's been hard to write. Come to think of it, that's happened a lot this year. It's nice to see though that readers are interested enough to check in even on a down swing. Thanks dude. Since we last spoke Nomar is a Cub, GP is a Celtic, and the Sox are still a .500-since-May baseball team. Deck the halls. In any case, let's do some catching up.

  • Nomar: This has been so over-reported, I am hesitant to even bring it up. But I already typed the title, so what the heck. Here's the thing, what Theo said was true. If there has been one area that has consistently prevented Boston from winning this season, it's been the defense. Statistically, in pitching and on offense, the Sox are at or near the top of the league in most categories, but it hasn't turned into W's. They have allowed more unearned runs than any other team in baseball however. So instead of waiting for luck to improve or fielders to return to their norms, Epstein got aggressive and made a change. Sure he could've gotten an outfielder and an arm and called it a day, but he took a chance and trusted his instincts. That's bold and ambitious, and it's the kind of thing we want from our GM. Here's my problem: he didn't get enough. Do you realize that the Red Sox gave up the best player AND the best prospect in the deal? How does that happen? If you send off the superstar, you get loaded with young studs in return. Or, if you relinquish your top ranked outfield prospect, which Matt Murton was, you get a veteran gem back. Those are the rules on July 31st. But somehow, Boston managed to give both and get back neither. Can someone explain that? Look, I understand that Nomar is a free agent, and that scares teams off. And with all the dirty dealings since he's departed, it's clear that his health and attitude were questionable. Also hurts the trade value. Fine. But how much? His clubhouse negativity would not and has not carried over to Chicago, so that's not an issue. It was clear that Cabrera would be part of the package, and he's a free agent too - so doesn't that even that problem out as well? Meintkiewicz and Cabrera for Nomar straight up, ok - but how did we end up throwing in Murton too? He was one of our best youngsters, and we just chucked him in. With a Hall of Fame shortstop -- for what could easily be two months of Cabrera and a season or so of a platoon first baseman. Right now, that seems uneven.

  • The Glove: This is a great move. Unfortunately, I don't really have much to say about it that Bill Simmons hasn't already said, so look there first. My only concern is this: Gary Payton is not a fast-break point guard. Never has been really. And if there is one thing that his stay in Los Angeles proved, it's that he's somewhat unwilling to adapt to new systems. And by somewhat, I mean monumentally. But he did still average 14.9 ppg. Of course it was a pissy, childish, temper tantrum, don't look at me like that or I'll tell my agent 14.9, but it was 14.9 nonetheless. And that would be the highest total the C's have gotten from point since David Wesley in 1996. That's certainly worth looking into. And it may very well be that Boston regrets having GP on their team next season, but they sent away three players that they certainly would've regretted having, so what's the risk?

  • The State of the Red Sox: Monday night was a mess. The Ninth has long comforted himself with the notion that all Boston must do is win when Pedro and Schilling start, then get one lousy victory from their other three pitchers to play .600 baseball. Playoff city. But now they seem to have trouble doing that. Curt really can't be losing at home against Tampa, and no one knows it better than him. This club is getting dangerously close to losing their fans, and that's sad. How many of your buddies have said in the last week, "you know, I just don't think they're gonna do it this year, I'm gonna stop watching"? It hurts to hear, doesn't it? You wonder why you can't stop watching. Doesn't really seem fair that they can just drop it like that. You make a deal with yourself that if they lose a couple more series, you'll toss in the non-existent towel. And hey, I'm with you. If it wasn't for the tidy little check I pull down from this website every week, I would've given up long ago (may not be true). But one thing that keeps me watching, and should be keeping you too: Labor Day, 2003. That's when last year's club turned it around, September bleepin' 1st. Trot Nixon's grand slam in Philadelphia, right after the Manny Ramirez Puttin on the Ritz Yankee series. Remember? And that was three weeks later than now. Hard to believe. So we know that if they stay close they can do it. But do they have the talent anymore? I gotta say, I'd feel a hole lot better about this if Trot Nixon was healthy.
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