Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From The Fens: A Hot Stove Take

In the three seasons that Jon and I have been writing Subway Squawkers, we've noticed that we have a growing audience of Red Sox fans. One of them is Bob Ekstrom. He's a Red Sox fan and writer who made me laugh out loud with an article he wrote for Boston Dirt Dogs a few years ago, where he compared the Yankees to Damien in "The Omen" (you just can't kill them!)

In honor of the winter meetings, Ekstrom has sent us a dispatch from the heart of Red Sox Nation. Here it is:

A warm Hot Stove welcome to you from the shadows of Fenway Park, where crews are busy adding another 350 seats for next season. Not exactly a new ballpark, but with ticket prices in a freeze, someone’s got to pay for the big off-season signings – that is, if there are any.

So, as Red Sox Nation sits idly and watches, the Mets and Yankees have made their initial splashes over the last 24 hours. Although he could never feign credible interest in K-Rod, Theo Epstein had his poker face on with C.C. Sabathia. So, what did Beantown lose in the wake of C.C.’s acquiescence to go to the Bronx?

Well, his 290-pound frame would have certainly filled the considerable space on the dugout bench vacated by Bartolo Colon. Maybe it will carry him through another 200 innings, and maybe Hal & Hank will foot the bill for those four straight starts on three days’ rest last fall. He did have a second half renaissance but – and sorry, Jon - 11-2 as a Brewer is more an indictment of lethargic National League lineups. And let’s not forget his postseason experience, although 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA over four playoff series makes his autumnal stuff as enigmatic as the Franklin batting tee my son dragged to the curb years ago.

Well, why The Nation’s interest in the first place? To be honest, we just enjoyed kicking the tires on this gas-guzzling Heavy Duty, even as the guy inside who offered more than sticker waited and watched us through the showroom window. Look, forget the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees are still the warrior Achilles around here, and Sabathia’s snub seemed like the arrow by which to fell them. We just wanted to twist it a little.

Which brings up Carl Pavano. This Bridge To Nowhere took four years and $39.95 million to build, but if it should ever take direction, Theo Epstein wants to be the toll collector. In the end, his mental composition is more suitable to the languid Florida breezes he’s destined for.

Red Sox Nation is pursuing some constructive moves as well. Several outlets have characterized winter meeting talks with A.J. Burnett as ‘significant,’ prompting many of us to decree a Day
Without a Jay in protest of Theo’s proclivity for injury-plagued roster squatters (see J.D. Drew and the aforementioned Pavano). That may not be necessary though, as rumors have Cashman bailing us out.

Then there’s Derek Lowe, a Boston fave who could also become a Yankee any moment, and that will hurt. I’ve heard it questioned why a team that spurned one of its players would suddenly reacquire interest in him only a few years later. I don’t know. Maybe Andy Pettitte can answer that one. I’ll be sure to ask him when he’s up here condo shopping next month.

If Pettitte does indeed find himself in red socks as some are speculating, the Tit For Tat doctrine would demand Curt Schilling put on the pinstripes. This would take the Border War to a new level as both have vowed never to cross the line. Then again, so did Johnny Damon.

But never Manny. During his Boston days, Ramirez said it was his dream to play in New York; specifically, the Yankees. Theo put him on waivers after the 2003 season in hopes of making that dream come true. There he was, a 30-year old Manny in his prime, available for the taking. Five years, $101 million, with club options for another two years. And Brian Cashman and Jim Duquette were lauded for their restraint.

Now, the Apple is divided. Mets fans are safe since the Wilpons don’t want him. As for the Empire, half covet him and Hank will grant them their wish. Manny will be a Yankee, but on Scott Boras’s terms: four years and $100 million, maybe more. The Yankees are good at bidding against themselves. So, how will Red Sox Nation handle that?

Manny and A-Rod sandwiching a left-handed hitter will make the most potent middle-of-the-order in baseball . . . for two years. Then the Manny-being-Manny episodes begin as he frets over his next contract. By the fourth year, he won’t even hit his weight, with both headed in the wrong direction. Despite it all, two years may well be worth it, and Bostonians know that.

If you think Damon’s homecoming was tepid, wait until the Big Chill that sweeps the Fens with Manny in pinstripes. Who knows? Maybe Terry Francona will have Andy Pettitte drill him in the butt.

Bob is a New Englander who doesn't take the subway but, like the Acela that roars past him a dozen times a day, he stays connected with both Boston and New York. He writes for South Coast Insider, and his sports work has appeared in Boston Metro and on BostonDirtDogs, JetsInsider, and Inside Football, a Giants publication. He also guest blogs on

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Uncle Mike said...

"The Yankees are still the warrior Achilles around here," Lisa? No, the Mets are Achilles. For those who've forgotten their mythology, Achilles is known for two things, and not for his heroism and undefeated record on the battlefield:

1. Sulking in his tent, as Met fans so often do. This is what Keith Hernandez and Kevin Mitchell allegedly did before realizing that Game 6 in '86 wasn't lost yet. And then there's Rickey Henderson in the '99 Playoffs.

2. Having a fatal flaw, a single vulnerability that leads to his doom and overwhelms the memory of the good he's done, in his case the one vulnerable part of his body. The Mets' "Achillies heel," of course, is their bullpen, and signing Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez doesn't necessarily fix it: Guys get hurt (Pedro Martinez), or lose their effectiveness (Randy Johnson), or just can't take the pressure of New York (thus far, Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran).

I could live with Derek Lowe in Pinstripes, although I'd prefer not to. After all, I got over seeing Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, David Cone and Joe Torre that way. And it's not as if Lowe would be asked to be the ace.

But Curt Schilling in Pinstripes? Did Newt Gingrich become a Democrat, or Mario Cuomo a Republican? Never! Did Cromwell or Robespierre ever ask for the return of the monarchy? Never! Would a New Englander ever eat something with tomato sauce and call it "clam chowder"? Nev-er!

Putting Curt Schilling in Pinstripes would be like letting Rupert Murdoch run the Daily News! As Joseph Conrad wrote, "The horror... the horror... "

"The Expert" said...

Great Stuff Uncle Mike!

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