LONGSHOTS: Does Fenway frankness roll to negative side?
by Dave Long
When you write a column like this you run the risk of being called negative any time you disagree with what’s being done in the subject you’re writing about. Ditto if you challenge prevailing wisdom. To some simply disagreeing makes you a glass-is-half-empty guy.
It was that way with my opposition to the notion that winning three Super Bowl titles in four years makes the Patriots a dynasty. Good thing I’m not sensitive, as boy did that one touch a nerve. Many were outraged, called me negative and said I didn’t know anything about dynasties, even though my Ph.D. thesis is titled “Dynasties - Why The Yahoos And National Media Are Wrong To Say Three in Four Makes You One.”
OK, that last sentence approaches “negativism.” After all, if you get personal it leans that way. But what can I say, I like to counterpunch. And if you ALWAYS have something bad to say, sure, I’ll buy that. But if you try to be objective, fair is fair. A great example was Dan Shaughnessy’s Globe column last week saying it’s time for Manny to go. You may disagree, but his tone was excellent, Manny’s good and bad points raised and the case fair. Still, I’ll bet some called him negative.
I bring this up because I want to talk about the Red Sox brass as they piece together another new team. Their actions since the World Series parade ended two years ago bring to mind that famous clip from NFL Films. You know, the one where after a bewildering series of Packer mistakes a frustrated Vince Lombardi shouts, “What the hell is going on out there?” And since I’ve got a series of questions and comments that some may construe as negative, I thought I’d get out in front of the issue. For instance:
Theo—what is going on at shortstop? You moved Nomar in a brilliant trade because his defense wasn’t good enough. Orlando Cabrera was great at the most critical defensive position as you captured the first world title in 86 years. However, offensively he’s not good enough, you say, so Edgar Renteria was signed for a lot more money. Thirty errors later, the team’s so willing to get rid of him it pays Atlanta $2 million a year to take him. Alex Gonzales is signed for cheap dollars and arguably becomes the best defensive shortstop in team history. But, he walks as Julio Lugo is targeted because his OBP is better, even though he averaged a Nomar-like 25 errors a year playing on a carpet in Tampa. I’m not trying to be mean, but when I see this I know exactly how Vince felt when he was yelling at his Packers.
What’s With The Team Flux? Does it bother anyone that there will be a new second baseman, shortstop, right fielder, closer, two starters, two set-up guys, as well as maybe a new left and even a center field? That’s a year after replacing the ENTIRE infield. Plus they had to waste Cla Meredith and Josh Bard to bring BACK Doug Mirabelli, and traded 15-game-winner Bronson Arroyo in spring training for the right fielder of the future who’s now back on the block. Great planning?
JD Drew? Let me get this straight. Johnny Damon walked because he couldn’t get a four-year deal or over $10 million per and you’re willing to give Drew five years and more money? Damon is a great lead-off hitter and more durable, plays a more critical position and better than Drew. Plus whispers say his passion makes Manny look like Pete Rose. Plus he’ll make more than David Ortiz!!!!! What in the name of Harry Sinden am I missing?
Ever hear of Troy Brown and Tom Brady? I just don’t have a religious zeal for what stat geek Bill James is selling, and JD is his kind of guy. My gut says when you’ve played 145 games just twice in 10 years, you’re injury-prone or not a gamer. Remember Tony LaRussa saying Renteria was too sensitive for Boston? Well, he questioned Drew’s passion in St. Louis. James’ theories can’t measure heart or instincts. It’s why Mel Kiper and the Combine Geeks missed on Brown and Brady, who have now caught more balls and won more games at QB than anyone in team history.
Where’s The Atlanta Game Plan? I was for getting Josh Beckett, so this may go in the second-guessing column. But how many A+ prospects did Atlanta give up winning 14 division titles as John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Ryan Kelsko (to the movies), Javy Lopez and Rafael Furcal came through their great system? You can’t give up A-level guys, even if the deal doesn’t get done, as Ben (sonny and) Cherington and Jed (Aaaa) Hoyer did with Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to get Beckett.
Isn’t It the Pitching Stupid? Nick Cafardo laid out a good case in Sunday’s Globe for how posting $51 million for Daisuke Matsuzaka is close to the development cost of a top starter. But, after seeing the decision made to get Matt Clement, David Wells, Jeff Suppan, Bobby Howry, Scott Sauerbeck and others, while Derek Lowe, Sanchez and Arroyo left, I’m in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” camp on the Japanese import. Plus, what would the pitching look like if they didn’t have all their dough? Craig Hansen and Manny DelCarmen may chance this, but right now Detroit doesn’t come to mind.
I know it sounds like my glass is half empty, but as Howard Cosell used to say, I’m just telling it like it is. And what it is, is this: with major construction again under way at Fenway this is a very big year for Theo.
Dave Long can be heard from 6 to 7 p.m. nightly on WGIR-AM’s Sports Night with Dave Long.
Dave Long can be heard on Sports Night with Dave Long nightly from 6 to 7 p.m. on 610 WGIR-AM