Friday, September 29, 2006

Random Thoughts as the Baseball Season Winds Down...

Suddenly the Red Sox' refusal to give Pedro all those years and all that money doesn't look quite so bad. Not, of course, that any of the WEEI types will ever give Theo credit for making the tough call there.

The key to most of the Phillies' killer losses recently seems to be the defense. Both Utley and Rollins have lost the handle frequently of late, and while neither has moved into Steve Sax territory, the run or two they've frittered away at key moments may prove to be the difference in the Phillies' season.

Speaking of which, it's fashionable to point to the run the Phillies went on when they gift-wrapped Bobby Abreu for the Yankees (with Cory Lidle impersonating a side of fries) as evidence that the mysterious "chemistry" has suddenly arrived in the Philberts' dugout. Now, I'm perfectly willing to believe that the tone in the dugout has changed, but I'm also a black-hearted cynic who thinks that the turnaround was sparked at least as much by A)the return of Jon Lieber and Randy Wolf from injuries, and Cole Hamels from the minors, suddenly giving the Phillies a reasonable and Madson-less rotation B)the fact that the Phillies' post-deadline schedule was a bit on the squishy side C)the jettisoning of bullpen dead weight like Ryan Franklin and Rheal Cormier, who'd clearly passed their "sell-by" date and D) replacing the punchless David Bell with the equally punchless but much more sure-handed Abraham Nunez at third. But then again, I got a C in high school chemistry.

Is there a rumored managerial vacancy out there that Lou Pinella is not attached to?

In anticipation of a thin free agent crop, the rumor mill has already started pumping the big trade target of the winter - Carl Crawford of the Devil Rays. Expect the frenzy to get louder and louder as the off-season progresses, until the sportswriters of America actually seem indignant that a losing team might want to keep one of their inexpensive, long-term viable cornerstones in place instead of automatically trading him to a contender. Crawford's combination of speed, power, defense, and affordability means that there's almost no way the D-Rays could get equal value back, and the new management team down there does not seem interested in getting less than equal value.

Another media drum that will start banging soon - Barry Zito to Boston. And A-Rod to the Angels. And Mark Teahen somewhere, anywhere, for some pitching.

Apparently Alex Gonzalez wants a three year deal out of the Red Sox. Umm, no. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see him wind up in Kansas City, where the spun-sugar pitching staff needs all the defensive help it can get.

Cubs players, speaking off the record, will begin throwing Dusty Baker under the bus in three...two...one...

Incidentally, can someone please re-examine the phrase "he's a proven winner" as regards to the Dustbuster? He is a proven winner as long as he has one of the best players in baseball in his prime playing for him. A lot of guys could probably say things like that. Without mega-cabeza model Barry or Sammy, his mojo is looking a lot worse than it used to. And somehow, I don't think Ichiro is going to be able to do much to revive it next year.
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