Thursday, November 11, 2004

Get The Coals...

The Hot Stove will be fired up in earnest tonight at midnight (just the way the veterans like it), as individual negotiating rights between teams and players expire. At 12:01, officially, it's olly-olly-oxen-free. Could that phrase possibly have been about free oxen? Free agents will talk to all teams, and markets can start forming in earnest. See, as of now, we really don't know much. Gammons is writing and Rosenthal is typing, but they're just filling time. Until negotiations can openly occur, there's no foundation for analysis. I mean look, it's all well and good for Scott Boras to claim Jason Varitek is seeking 5 years/50 million, but if he can't find at least two teams willing to give him, say, 4 years/40 million, it ain't worth talking about. Right now, Pedro Martinez is not too enthusiastic about the "Curt Schilling World Series Memorial Contract Offer" Boston produced, but it might be the best thing he's gonna get. Who knows? And what about Baltimore, what crazy crap are they gonna do? Never can predict those Orioles. Remember that time they gave Marty Cordova like 15 mil for 3 years? Man was that funny. Anyhoots, let's hit some bullet points, run down a few ideas, and wait for the fun to start.

- Somebody big is always gone by Thanksgiving. It's a fact. Last year it was the Billy Wagner trade. This year it'll be the Yankees, and it'll be a pitcher. They're just too freaked out. Might not be something huge, but don't be surprised to see at least a middle of the road arm (Steve Kline, Eric Milton?) in pinstripes before Turducken time. That's turducken, a chicken cooked inside of a duck cooked inside of a turkey. Very popular with people who burn money for heat.

- Varitek and Cabrera are going to be a problem. Not because you could never replace their ability, but because you'll have a hard time doing it this year. The markets at short and catcher just aren't very good, and it could get Boston bullied a bit. Tek's starting price is obscene, especially when you realize it's twice the offer IRod got, and he's going to the Hall of Fame. The number will come down, but perhaps not enough. And if it doesn't, the Sox are going to be left with the Mike Matheny's and Einar Diaz's of the world. Anyone have John Marzano's number? The same thing with Cabrera. He got a lot of pub towards the end of '04, and some moron is going to over offer for a guy who's had one and a half good years. Then it's going to mean a mad dash at Renteria or a slow awkward dance with Jose Valentin while you stare at the punch bowl. The great, earth-shattering irony here is that probably the best match for Boston would be Nomar. Think about it. You could get him on a short contract, pay heavy on incentives, and add year or two on options. You'd a couple high quality years, then leave the future to Hanley Ramirez. Problem is, it could never happen. Oh well.

- When it comes down to it the money's not going to be that different, so it's really pretty simple -- who would rather have starting game 2 of the ALDS next season: Pedro Martinez, Brad Radke, or Carl Pavano? Pedro.

- Ken Rosenthal keeps saying, and it makes a lot of sense, that Boston can be flexible. The Red Sox have so much money to play around with that even if they do lose out on a few players, they can fill in elsewhere. Glaus, Beltran, and Ordonez are the kind of hitters that can make you forget about holes up the middle.

- If I had to guess I'd say Kevin Millar is playing somewhere else next year.

- Don't forget, every big player that Boston loses means at least one quality draft pick in return. Pretty good chaser.

Four hours and counting...