November 30, 2006

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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 whatís being done in the subject youíre 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 Iím not sensitive, as boy did that one touch a nerve. Many were outraged, called me negative and said I didnít know anything about dynasties, even though my Ph.D. thesis is titled ďDynasties - Why The Yahoos And National Media Are Wrong To Say Three in Four Makes You One.Ē

OK, that last sentence approaches ďnegativism.Ē 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, Iíll buy that. But if you try to be objective, fair is fair. A great example was Dan Shaughnessyís Globe column last week saying itís time for Manny to go. You may disagree, but his tone was excellent, Mannyís good and bad points raised and the case fair. Still, Iíll 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, ďWhat the hell is going on out there?Ē And since Iíve got a series of questions and comments that some may construe as negative, I thought Iíd get out in front of the issue. For instance:

Theoówhat is going on at shortstop? You moved Nomar in a brilliant trade because his defense wasnít good enough. Orlando Cabrera was great at the most critical defensive position as you captured the first world title in 86 years. However, offensively heís not good enough, you say, so Edgar Renteria was signed for a lot more money. Thirty errors later, the teamís 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. Iím not trying to be mean, but when I see this I know exactly how Vince felt when he was yelling at his Packers.

Whatís 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? Thatís 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 whoís now back on the block. Great planning?

JD Drew? Let me get this straight. Johnny Damon walked because he couldnít get a four-year deal or over $10 million per and youíre 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 heíll 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 donít have a religious zeal for what stat geek Bill James is selling, and JD is his kind of guy. My gut says when youíve played 145 games just twice in 10 years, youíre injury-prone or not a gamer. Remember Tony LaRussa saying Renteria was too sensitive for Boston? Well, he questioned Drewís passion in St. Louis. Jamesí theories canít measure heart or instincts. Itís 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.

Whereís 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 canít give up A-level guys, even if the deal doesnít get done, as Ben (sonny and) Cherington and Jed (Aaaa) Hoyer did with Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to get Beckett.

Isnít It the Pitching Stupid? Nick Cafardo laid out a good case in Sundayís 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, Iím in the ďIíll believe it when I see itĒ camp on the Japanese import. Plus, what would the pitching look like if they didnít have all their dough? Craig Hansen and Manny DelCarmen may chance this, but right now Detroit doesnít come to mind.

I know it sounds like my glass is half empty, but as Howard Cosell used to say, Iím 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-AMís 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


11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives

11/16/2006 Green-around-the-gills Celts looking to earn some respect

11/9/2006 Blame game reaches new local low
11/2/2006 A week of highs and lows in sport
10/26/2006 Curses! The U is foiled again
10/19/2006 Time for a trip to the sports mailbag
10/12/2006 U turns Granite Stare around on football
10/05/2006 James' gang riding into town to face the Celtics
09/28/2006 Words to describe a lost Red Sox season
09/21/2006 Football Friday can't stack up to Saturday
09/14/2006 A lesson to be learned in remembering a somber day
09/07/2006 Usual pat choice to win AFC East questioned
08/31/2006 Whining won't yank AL East away from NY
08/24/2006 Spring forward or fall behind for Sox
08/17/2006 Trash talking abounds in the Empire over Sox and Pats
08/10/2006 Monarchs call press conference to crown new leader
08/03/2006 Deadly Fenway duo leave mark on history
07/27/2006 Word of the wise gets lost in sports translation
07/20/2006 Looking beyond the Big Three
07/13/2006 Cream rises to the top of baseball talk at the Dot
07/06/2006 Greetings and salutations toThe Nation at mid-year
06/29/2006 Being dealt is a consequence of the trade
06/22/2006 A year later, Boudreau's cup runneth over
06/15/2006 See dogs and cats battle for a different fan experience
06/08/2006 Not Bad Anymore league makes a comeback
06/01/2006 Luck goes Sox way with Lowell in Massachusetts
05/25/2006 Pitching in to help the Sox trade a few places
05/18/2006 Going to school by cutting Red Sox payroll
05/11/2006 Columnist blows his mind; here are the results
05/04/2006 Yanks stormed Manchester 37 years ago this week
04/27/2006 Regular crowd nowhere to be found come playoff time
04/20/2006 Questions and answers from the mailbag
04/13/2006 Local sports teams spring into action
04/06/2006 Predictable Red Sox season lies ahead
03/30/2006 Analyzing this and that as Pats roster shrinks
03/23/2006 A week of following the bouncing balls
03/16/2006 The beginning of four days of basketball bliss
03/09/2006 Many miss the central point of the story
03/02/2006 Better late than never to jump through local hoops
02/23/2006 Celtic green means raw, not envy as it once did
02/16/2003 An issue that is all black and white
02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
02/02/2006 Super memories from 40 years of watching the big game
01/26/2006 A certain uniformity to the inquiries in the mailbag
01/19/2006 Sudden end to Pats' season leave just one thing to do
01/12/2006 Pats on the back for the football team
01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Heroís death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The†Demonization of Johnny Damon
Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat