Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pedroia Wins AL MVP; Coco Traded to the Royals

The Hot Stove hasn't really heated up yet, but there's plenty of news and more than a few rumors floating around.

First things first: Dustin Pedroia capped off an incredible season by winning the AL MVP this week. All he's done in his first two years is win the Rookie of the Year award, a World Series title, a Gold Glove, and now the MVP. The naysayers - and he's had them all his life - will say that nobody stuck out in the MVP race, and there is a kernel of truth in that. But as somebody who watches entirely too much baseball, take it from me: this kid is as deserving as anybody. Consider the numbers, courtesy of WEEI's Rob Bradford:

Games: 157.

Runs: 118 (1st).

Hits: 213 (Tied for 1st).

Doubles: 54 (1st).

Batting average: .326 (2nd)

Stolen base percentage: 20 steals, one caught stealing (1st)

Total bases: 322 (4th)

Percentage of swings and misses on pitches faced: 8.1 (1st)

Multi-hit games: 61 (1st)

Games with 3 or more hits: 23 (1st)

Games with 4 or more hits: 7 (1st)

Pedroia beat out Twins 1B Justin Morneau and his own teammate, Kevin Youkilis, for the award.

Believe it or not, this numbskull (there's always one, isn't there? Remember the Pedro fiasco after his sick 1999 season?) inexplicably left Pedroia off his ballot completely. Hard to figure what he was thinking, but at least he admitted he screwed up.

Anyway, congrats to Pedey.

As far as the Hot Stove, we got a little kindling wood on the fire today as the Sox traded Coco Crisp to the Kansas City Royals for Ramon Ramirez, a pretty solid 8th inning set-up man type. Incredibly, the Sox actually unloaded payroll on the Royals, who were desperate for speed. Coco's Boston career got off to a rough start when he broke his finger sliding into a base early in the 2006 season, but I will always remember the amazing catches (none better than the theft he pulled on the Mets' David Wright (above) in 2007) he made throughout his time here. He also kept his mouth shut down the stretch, not whining about playing time, and in the end I think he's happy that he'll be playing every day. Hey Manny, that's how you work your way out of town. As for the Ramirez that we got, he had a 2.50 ERA in 70-plus innings last year and only gave up two home runs. Some are speculating that his arrival could mean the team is thinking about putting Justin Masterson back into the starting rotation (yes, please).

Other odds and ends: Lots of respected writers are saying the Sox will make a huge offer to try to get Mark Teixeira, and news broke today on most of the major sites that they have engaged in talks with free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett, who John Henry loves from his days running the Florida Marlins. Strap on your seat belts, boys and girls. We're going for a ride over the next couple of months.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Going Shopping

Ask and ye shall receive. A little Hot Stove baseball talk for your Sunday morning. First, I read a rumor this morning that the Tigers may deal either Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis to the Sox for Julio Lugo, a deal in which Boston would undoubtedly have to eat a lot of cash. Anything to get Julio out of town, but that also says that Theo is content to go with Jed Lowrie as his everyday shortstop. I'm not sold on Lowrie yet, but I'd be okay with that - he needs to cut down on the whiffs. The Sox are also rumored to be talking with Scott Bore-Ass about stud 1B Mark Teixeira and Derek Lowe. Personally, I think Texeira should be their No. 1 priority. Move Youk to third, trade Mike Lowell, and you've got a 30-homer, Gold Glove first baseman to plug into that lineup. Then sign Varitek for reasonable money, get a decent bullpen arm or two and that's all they need to do.

Here's a look at the some of the better-known names available by position, with guys I think the Sox should pursue in bold:

C: Brad Ausmus, Rod Barajas, Michael Barrett, Johnny Estrada, Jason Kendall, Paul LoDuca, Pudge Rodriguez, Jason Varitek, Greg Zaun

1B: Carlos Delgado, Jason Giambi, Kevin Millar, Mark Teixeira

2B: Orlando Hudson

SS: Orlando Cabrera, Rafael Furcal, Edgar Renteria, Omar Vizquel

3B: Troy Glaus, Chipper Jones

OF: Bobby Abreu, Garret Anderson, Casey Blake, Milton Bradley, Pat Burrell, Mike Cameron, Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey, Jr., Vladimir Guerrero, Raul Ibanez, Jacque Jones, Mark Kotsay, Manny Ramirez

DH: Frank Thomas, Jim Thome

SP: A.J. Burnett, Ryan Dempster, Randy Johnson, John Lackey, Kyle Lohse, Derek Lowe, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Matt Morris, Jamie Moyer, Mike Mussina, Brad Penny, Oliver Perez, Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Randy Wolf

RP: Brian Fuentes, Todd Jones, Jorge Julio, Brad Lidge, Mariano Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez, Dan Wheeler, Kerry Wood

Here's the full list, with agents, service time, ages, etc.

Some very big names available, and of course, leave it to the Yankees to turn their noses at the biggest economic meltdown we've seen in our lifetimes. Reports say they've made a huge offer to Sabathia, and are also pursuing both Burnett and Lowe. Think they want to improve their pitching?

Throw in your thoughts...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hello Again, Hello...

22 days, now that's a hiatus. Not much has happened since we last spoke. The Philadelphia Phillies won a World Series that will always be remembered for a suspended game - a clincher, no less - that took several days to complete. The World Champion Boston Celtics (f-you Gregg Pop-a-zit)opened up their quest for back-to-back banners. The Bruins - Boston, not UCLA - are off to a great start. And the NFL season is entering week 10, and would you believe that the Tom Brady-less Patriots are tied for first entering tomorrow night's big tilt against the hated Jets in Foxborough. Oh yeah, we Americans also got together last Tuesday to say in unision: "Hey, George, you're fired!!" Barack Obama will be the 44th president of these United States, and let's hope they're a little more united when he's through.

But enough about politics - what do you want to talk about? How about the amazing fact that I'm eager to watch both the Celtics (vs. the Hawks) and the Bruins (against Chicago) tonight? I honestly can't remember the last time I looked forward to watching both of our winter sports teams play. They're both off to good starts, and it will be intriguing to watch them the rest of the year. But we're in the midst of Patriots season, so let's dissect and analyze what the Pats have been able to do through nine games.

We know the franchise QB went down in the first week, but what we didn't know was that this team would rise to the occasion, and bond together to show the world that they're about much more than one superstar. If I added this in for good measure - that the Pats along the way would also lose their top three running backs, their veteran safety, a couple of offensive linemen, and one of their best linebackers - you'd surely have written off 2008 and started looking ahead to 2009.

But a funny thing has happened. All those media wiseguys who were wondering if Bill Belichick would be exposed without his binky at QB have been awfully quiet the last few weeks as the Pats have simply changed their formula for winning. Kind of like a golfer who can win with a 350-yard drive or an accurate short game, the Pats have found a way to get it done differently than last year. They're not demolishing teams by halftime. Instead, they're winning close games on the D-line, on the O-line, with good special teams, with everyone seemingly making a key contribution here or there. Backup QB Matt Cassel, all but left for dead after the pre-season, has grown steadily each week and has won some fans. And you know what? After getting past our morbid depression about Tom Brady, all of this has been pretty damn entertaining.

And now we have another chapter in the blood rivalry between the Pats and the Jets, as the two teams get ready to face each other tomorrow night in Foxborough. They're both 6-3 and in first place in the AFC East, and they're both playing good football right now. It should be a hell of a game - on a Thursday night no less - but I'll take Bill over Brett and Napoleon Mangini anytime.

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