Sunday, July 31, 2005

Riches, You Embarrass

Trading deadline and the John Pabelbon debut all in the same afternoon! It's enough to make you forget the emptiness you have inside. And he almost struck out the side in the first. Pleasure, thy name is Pabelbon.

How do you get a girlfriend if your name is Terry Tiffee? Hello Miss, I'm Terry Tiffee and I will be your date for the evening. Why are you crying?

So far this is shaping up as the snooziest deadline day ever. The Manny stuff is done, thanks to the absurdity of Chuck LaMarr and Ramirez going through his daily change of mind. Manny gave a nice interview before the game today, saying, of course, that he actually doesn't want to be traded and couldn't be happier. Then he added that he liked horsies and that green was his favorite color. Here's a good rule of thumb: stop listening when Manny talks.

Also before the game, Gordon Edes reported more trade news than ESPN has all weekend. The Cubs are looking to acquire Ken Griffey Jr. to add to their All Disabled team, and Alfonso Soriano is still in play, perhaps to Minnesota. Scott Eyre seems to be the reliever of the Red Sox desire, which would be a great fit at a reasonable price. A tough lefty who has actually had more success against righties this year, Eyre has an overall .188 batting average against in '05. Less of a swing-and-miss guy than JC Romero, but just as effective and probably cheaper to get. Look for the Sox to offer San Francisco a package centered around Kelly Shoppach and minor league pitching. Other than that, things are quiet. Keep in mind though that Theo's loves the surprise move.

Is there anything more appropriate than Peter Gammons going into the Hall of Fame on a Sunday, July 31st? The day of the week and the time of the year that Gammons made himself indispensable. We'll miss him on the air today.

Jose Cruz Jr. stinks, and yet he has 3 times as many home runs as Millar. It's a sad statement, but he'll probably be fairly useful. The attitude is a bit of a concern.

I hope Florida enjoys the three pointless months of AJ Burnett and having nothing but dirty laundry to show for it this winter. Well played, Marlins. Well played.

Five minutes til ESPN's deadline day special, and yes, The Ninth already has the "Quick Flip" button on his remote set to go. I suggest you do the same. Where are the cookies? I understood there would be cookies.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Six Gun Gunner

  • It is so hot in New York that Alex Rodriguez's ego has actually started to melt.

  • The best day in sports, baseball's trading deadline, is fast approaching. For those of you who haven't marked your calendars, it's this Sunday the 31st at 5pm. And if your calendar is marked with the trading deadline, chances are it isn't marked with much of anything else. Boom. Anyhoo, the Sox have been mentioned in a number of deals, but nothing seems particularly close. The two big names that keep coming up are J.C. Romero and A.J. Burnett, but the former strikes the Ninth as unlikely. Why would the Twins, a constant contender, trade one of the most reliable and reasonably priced set-up men in the game? And if they did, why would they only get Bill Mueller, a solid but not spectacular guy who's a free agent next year? It would be a great move for Boston, who'd essentially get Alan Embree back, but good this time, though I don't see Minnesota going for it. A.J. Burnett is tricky. The package, presumably, would be Bronson Arroyo and some very good prospects. But how much better than Arroyo is A.J. anyway? His stuff certainly is, and you can imagine him dominanting playoff offense more easily, but the results have been similar. And Bronson would cost less in the future. Now, Burnett could become an ace, and that's not in Guitarroyo's future, but you'll have to trade a prospect that could perhaps be big time himself. If Schilling can't return to the rotation, you may need a player like Burnett at the front of your rotation, but other than that, you're giving up a lot for potential.

  • Keep in mind too that Theo's job got a little harder last night when Trot Nixon strained his oblique, an injury that can take 2 weeks or 2 months to recover from. If Jay Payton had just waited two weeks to throw that tirade he'd be an everyday outfielder now.

  • Didn't the trading deadline used to be at midnight? That's a deadline. Who picked 5 pm? Unless you're jewish or a vampire, sundown doesn't really mean much to ya.

  • This is the year, without Ted Bruschi, that New England learns how good Roosevelt Colvin is.

  • Manny apparently refused to play this afternoon in Tampa, saying he was promised a day off. So now Boston has Olerud hitting 4th, Adam Stern playing right, and Tracy Morgan in left. Why wouldn't Ramirez play just to avoid the crap he's going to get? Is it really worth it? Francona, very slyly, reported the exchange exactly as it happened to the media, knowing they would punish Manny in a way he couldn't. Smart move, and one that Joe Torre has made perfect over the years.

  • Manny Delcarmen, Manny Delcarmen. What exactly was Theo waiting for? This kid can pitch. And before we get down on Chad Bradford, he hadn't thrown in a week, got some groundballs that turned into hits, and had no business pitching to Aubrey Huff. The single worst matchup the Devil Rays can create for Boston is Huff against Bradford. Nice work on that one Tito.

  • For those of you who love the reality TV, check out Bravo's new show "Situation: Comedy". It's like Project Greenlight, except with television, and has been great so far. Also, it features a great friend and (ahem) loyal reader of the Ninth! See loyal readers, one of you has gone on to succeed! Now there is a model to strive for. Read The Ninth and become a television celebrity. It can happen. It does happen. Let it happen to you.

  • Want the Ninth to visit you in your private home or dwelling? No? Seriously? Well if you did, you could find me on VH1 discussing the funny things celebrities name their babies. Yes, Audio Science is actually a name.

  • It is so hot in New York that if aliens attacked I wouldn't even run. I'd just let them eat me. Or whatever it is they do.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Something's Happening Here

Ok, the Sox made a few moves this afternoon, and they're a little strange.

1) Designated Alan Embree for assignment.
2) Acquired 2B/3B Tony Graffanino from the Royals for essentially nothing.
3) Acquired OF Adam Hyzdu from the Pirates for less than essentially nothing.

Alright, easy stuff first. Theo got Hyzdu because Boston is facing three left-handers in a row (Fossum, Hendrickson, and Buehrle) and with Payton gone and Kapler not yet healthy, Nixon would be forced to play. Hyzdu ain't much, but he is an adequate (and cheap) platoon outfielder. Once Kapler is ready for prime time, Adam will reclaim the role he was destined to fill: AAA outfielder. Then you've got Graffanino - which is a little harder to understand. Tony is a great platoon infielder, as he murders left-handed pitching and can play 2nd and 3rd well and SS adequately. But it's hard to call him an upgrade over Cora. Perhaps Theo wants him to split time with Alex until Bellhorn gets back, but is it really necessary to trade for a guy for 2 weeks of platoon play? What are they going to do when Bellie returns and they have 2 backup infielders? The only explanation The Ninth sees for this is that either the Sox are fed up with Mark and wish to give away his playing time, or they are planning to move another infielder. We'll get to that. Finally, we have the release of old friend Alan Embree, which on its face makes no sense. Was the guy pitching well? Absolutely not. Has he been a bit better lately? I guess. Most importantly, does Boston have anything better? Nope. Not yet anyway. Here's the thing: Theo DFA'd Alan because he wanted a roster spot for Hyzdu tonight. But after Thursday, the Sox won't see another lefty for days, so Hyzdu will not be needed. And Tito will have one arm less in the bullpen because of it. There has to be a plan here. The Sox will not be going with Timlin, Bradford, and Myers as set up. So either Epstein is bringing up a kid, grabbing the recently released Shingo Takatsu, or he's making a trade. And wouldn't it make sense if the rumored Bill Mueller for JC Romero deal came through, as Boston suddenly needs left-handed short relief and has acquired Graffanino, a somewhat unnecessary 3B? We know that Bill Mueller recently had a closed-door meeting with Theo and Francona, and there's no way it was just about Billy taking some innings at second. A GM does not get involved at that level. So what if Epstein is laying the groundwork, somewhat awkwardly, for a mid-July move? Right now he's got too much infield and not enough bullpen, something he seems too smart to stick with. Let's see if something is shaking out...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Couldn't Happen to a Better Bunch of Guys

For those who haven't heard the news, Yankee starter Chien-Ming Wang has been put on the 15-day DL and will miss tomorrow night's start. WFAN's Michael Kay however is reporting a rumor that Wang's shoulder is shot and he is lost for the season. If that turns out to be true, and say what you will about Michael Kay, but he does have plenty of Yankee connections, it will be a BIG loss for New York. Anyone who has watched the Yankees with any regularity this season understands that Wang has been easily their best starter, and in fact their second best pitcher behind Rivera. His performance has certainly been a surprise, but one of the few that has kept New York above water in the east. His particularly damaging when you look at his substitutes (Take a ride on the Tim Redding Rail Road - one stop: crappy town), and realize that the Yanks have also just lost their best trade chip. All in all, it's a fairly delicious development for Red Sox fans, and just made this weekend a whole lot more exciting.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bulleted Points

If you're the kind of person that loves it when your buddy picks up his old guitar and soulfully strums classic Pearl Jam songs while cleverly mimicking Eddie Veder's voice, then you'll love Bronson Arroyo's new album.

What possibly makes Johnny Damon think we want to hear his opinion on every topic Red Sox and otherwise? Sure, you hit baseballs, I 'd love to know what you think of the upcoming Supreme Court nominations. Any ideas for a delightful summer salad recipe?

The Ninth has just discovered "Yeah!" by Usher and Lil' John, putting me approximately 2 years behind the times. Good song though. It does seem unduly preoccupied with booty however.

A healthy Chad Bradford, when combined with Mike Myers, could make for a deadly 6th/7th inning force for Boston. Of course it is a somewhat sad state of affairs when you need to use two roster spots to create one good pitcher.

Nobody can exaggerate an impressive rookie league performance quite like the New York media. David Lee - probable starter, Nate Robinson - steal of the draft, Channing Frye - actual super hero. They're going to be playing against only rookies in the regular season too, right? No? Oh. This got awkward.

Best Movie of the Summer: Batman Begins. Second Best: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and no, I'm not kidding. Ok, I am a little bit, but it's good.

Reggie Jackson was openly eating a sandwich on television while "analyzing" the Home Run Derby on Monday. We don't take the evening all that seriously either Reggie, but how 'bout pretending you're working for your money.

The funniest things that happen in this world happen on the Chinatown Shuttle Bus from Boston to New York. $10, each way, and if there is a truer example of "you get what you pay for", I don't know what it is. Want to get stabbed for a seat? By an old lady? This is the bus for you. Enjoy the odor of the unbathed human body? Get yourself a tickito. Always wondered what people discuss while on their cellular telephones? You'll have five hours to figure it out. It's wonderful. And it is the site of easily the sickest story The Ninth has heard in his entire life. Not printable. Not by a longshot. But if you're interested, email, I'll give you the lowdown. And take the bus, at least once, just for the experience. You probably won't die.

It's weird that everyone knows John Olerud is better than Kevin Millar except Kevin Millar, and yet he still plays. Worst slugging percentage of any starting 1B in baseball. The worst. Eric Hinske, Scott Hatteberg, Daryle Ward, all better.

While The Ninth has mocked the Curt Schilling closer experiment, I am kind of hoping to see him against the Yankees this weekend. Where I will be, in person. Yes, people actually do win the Yankee ticket raffle. I was as shocked as you are.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Schilling to Close?

Finally, something to write about.

News came out today that Terry Francona is going to use Curt Schilling in the bullpen to help him "work himself back into shape." Theo Epstein insists this is just what the club needs, which is quite a surprise to The Ninth who thought a #1 starter is just what the club needs. Clearly we are missing some information. If Curt, as we have been lead to believe, is actually a few rehab starts away from being to ready to begin games, this plan makes little sense. Pitching a few innings every couple of days will not stretch him out, it will not build arm strength, it will not let him refine his pitches. Short relievers don't make good starters, just ask Tanyon Sturtze. It may help Boston win some games in the short run, but come September they need Curt pitching every five days, and this ain't gonna get 'em there. Look at it this way - we know Schill will not be ready 'til after the Break, regardless of the role. So from that point on you could get 35 innings of set-up/closing, or 100 of SP. Which would you prefer? It's obvious, right? Right? The only way this makes sense is if 1) Theo & Co. feel Schilling can not give them close to that 100 SP or 2) Keith Foulke ain't coming back. If it's either of those, then fine, let's cover our butts and get what we can. Because there's nothing worse than an uncovered butt. However, the thing that this team, that any team with champagne wishes and World Series dreams, really needs is dominant starting pitching. And Curt Schilling closing out 5-2 victories isn't going to get it. Frankly, The Ninth is a little surprised that a General Manager who thought little enough of a closer two years ago to acquire one, is now converting his best starter just to get by while Foulke is injured. When did this become so dire? And what do they do when Foulke comes back, or when a starter gets hurt? Take another ten days to stretch Schilling out? Then we're back where we started. It makes no sense. Unless, as we said, they don't think Curt ever will get stretched out, ever will be ready to regain his SP dominance. Maybe that ankle is a mess and this is the best Schill can do. But we have been told that. Right now, Boston is not really saying much. But what they are saying doesn't jive.