Thursday, December 9, 2010

So Far Behind: Trying To Keep Up With The Sox

Hey Theo, could you maybe give me a few days to catch up with you? I really do want to keep my blog active, but I have got a lot of other stuff to take care of, seeing as how it's nearly Christmas and no, I don't have any of my shopping done. I haven't even gotten to Adrian Gonzalez yet, and you go ahead and sign Carl Crawford? I mean, good job on your part, but can you give me some time now? Please? Thanks.

I've had quite a bit to write about in the last week, but I haven't had the time, so now I'm going to write about Adrian and Carl in the same post. Look at that, I'm being efficient!

My initial reaction to the Gonzalez trade was, "Oh no. For who?" I may have mentioned once or twice before that like every baseball fan in the known universe (and probably in the unknown ones as well), I have favorite players. There are some itty bitty baby Sox that I wouldn't want to part with. Once I found out that none of those specific players were involved, I allowed myself to get excited. Don't get me wrong, I am sad we're going to miss out on watching Casey Kelly develop, but as a few others have mentioned, the pitcher's park out in San Diego may do wonders for him. I completely understand the inclusion of Anthony Rizzo, considering that first base would have been blocked and he would have nowhere to be promoted to. I didn't know much about Fuentes, but I still wish him luck all the same.

My second reaction, upon checking out all the press releases on various websites was that he looks a little like Ernie from the George Lopez Show if Ernie grew some facial hair. I think it's the eyes. Maybe someday I'll do a photo comparison. Not today, though. Today we have more pressing issues.

So, awesome. Theo heads into the winter meetings having acquired a big bat who should do well at Fenway to fill the offensive void left when VMart parted ways, and he managed to get him to agree to a seven year contract extension. He had already acomplished more than some people expected him to this winter, and he wasn't done. Bright and early this morning (re: 5:30 AM), I was (rudely) woken up by this (obnoxious) former coworker of mine who (despite numerous requests for him to not text me before sunrise) let me know that we also inked Carl Crawford to a seven year contract. Just to tally, this week, Theo has commited 14 years and something like $290M. I don't want to hear ANYONE complaining that John Henry's investment in the Liverpool soccer team is affecting the Red Sox.

As thrilled as I am at the big name acquisitions, I worry a little about Crawford and giving him such big years. Correct me if I'm wrong, and I very well may be wrong, but isn't he one of the many players over the years who claims to hate Boston and Boston fans? Also, with him no longer stealing against us, are his SB numbers going to go down? Besides that, as I was watching NESN this morning while getting ready, they pointed out that Crawford is more of a pull hitter than an opposite field guy. Whereas it seems Gonzalez will benefit from the wall, Crawford won't. I'm going to give it a chance and see if the atmosphere and knowing that all those people who had booed him in the past are now cheering for him will do him any good. I hope it does. I also hope the same factors don't freak out Gonzalez. We all know Fenway isn't the easiest place to play, and both are from fan bases that aren't as.... well, crazy, as Boston fans. I mean, Tampa had to give out free tickets to geet people into the stands, and they were in a playoff race. I'm hoping for good things from both players, and I'm excited to see where this team is headed right now.

Is there really anyone who can complain about these signings/trades? And just think, it's only December and Theo has already said that the bullpen is a priority. Let's see what he gets done here. Look at that, I wrote a whole post without insulting our GM once. Well, credit where credit is due and all that. Now.... if only the season would start tomorrow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Okajima: It's So Hard To Say Goodbye

I know this was actually announced last week, but it was a hard week for me, and I'm trying to catch up now. It was announced that the Red Sox have non-tendered Hideki Okajima and he will be moving on. This is awfully hard for me because I liked Oki and his wacky delivery, but it was time.

Okajima has been on a slow decline for a while. Actually, pretty much since 2008. It wasn't as noticeable then, but the numbers were starting to slip. The guy only throws his fastball in the mid-to-high 80's. It was inevitable for the collective offensive monster of the American League to catch up to it. He was living off of pinpoint location and a little bit of trickery for a long time and we all knew it couldn't last forever. In his four wonderful seasons with the Red Sox, Oki posted ERA's of 2.22, 2.61, 3.39, and 4.50. His walks were (slightly) up in 2010, and his strikeouts were down. To me, that tells me that people were finally figuring him out. I don't know what the future holds for Oki. My guess is that it probably involves the National League somewhere. If it does, I wish him nothing but the best.

I will always remember Oki for three things; signing a baseball for my mom in Ft. Meyers, his absolutely fantastic 2007 which helped make the Sox world champions once again, and his delightfully addictive theme song. Yes, I AM going to miss hearing, "O....K.... A.... J.... I... M.... A. Okajima!" and chances are, a little part of you is going to miss it, too. The bullpen of 2007 was special. Sure, they didn't break a curse but honestly, there just aren't that many curses around to break. What they DID do was dominate when we needed them to. They entertained us. They were a band, and they were pirates. They kept it loose and seemed to genuinely enjoy their time out in the pen.

I am going to miss Oki. I just hope he lands with a fanbase that appreciates his entrance theme. Good luck, Oki!

EDIT: Yeah, I know he re-signed with the Sox, but I like this post so I'm keeping it. Welcome back, Oki!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Is Early: Varitek Re-Signs With Sox

Let me tell you, I have had one HELL of a week. At least it was pretty close to hell. So of course, when I woke up this morning and got the news that Tek has agreed to a one-year contract with the Sox, well, I was thrilled. I needed that news like you wouldn't believe. Really, it was all I wanted for Christmas and now that I've gotten it, I'm happy.

I am aware that there are still some huge holes that need to be filled and even more question marks that need to be answered, but I'm content. I'll say this now (and I'll probably contradict myself a million and a half times throughout the course of next season), but I don't care if the Sox don't make the playoffs as long as Tek and Wakey get to retire in Boston. Getting to the playoffs would be a bonus for me, but I can't help think, especially this upcoming season, is going to be far more about sentimentality for me. I know. Sentimentality is a theme I refer back to often because I am very sentimental about the players. I love winning, but I think I may love our guys more than just winning. Even when they're having rough stretches, I appreciate them because they provide me with hours and hours of entertainment and endless sports banter with friends. There are few players in all of baseball that I have bantered about more than Tek, but that may be more a product of his longevity on the team than anything else. Either way, I'm promised one more season with my Captain (periodically) behind the plate, and that makes me happy.

Other things that would make me happy include reliable bullpen pitching, strong seasons from our starting rotation, a healthy combination of Pedroia, Youk, and even Ellsbury, Josh Beckett getting on a Pedroia-like diet plan this winter, and spring training. Man, I miss baseball. I can't wait until our pitchers and catchers (including Varitek!) report to the Fort!