Dan Shaughnessy returned to the baseball beat on Friday with a column evaluating Theo Epstein’s off season thus far. Shaughnessy noted that while the rookie GM has taken the high road as far as the rivalry with the dastardly Bronx Bombers are concerned, some of the Red Sox players feel a bit differently:
”I kind of like it,” said Lou Merloni. ”I see our owners doing everything they can to beat those guys and that’s not a bad thing. Hopefully, the Yankees will get caught up trying to beat us off the field and forget about what really matters. Maybe they’re worried about us. That’s a good thing.”
Johnny Damon added, ”It goes back to 1919. Steinbrenner is willing to win at all costs. They have deeper pockets, but they fear us and that’s why they are making these moves. And the year we win the World Series it’s going to get back at all 26 they’ve won.”
Are they the Evil Empire?
”I wouldn’t say that,” said manager Grady Little. ”The last guy that said that had to hear too much about it.”
Epstein knows there’s growing impatience in the Nation.
”It’s not our job to have our finger on the pulse of exactly what Red Sox fans feel, but I know it’s the nature of fans to want it all and want it now and want big names,” he said. ”But the nature of running a ball club is to take the broad view and put the best team on the field and keep the best interests of the organization.
”We will only make a trade when what we receive is better than what we’re giving up. If you don’t have the discipline, patience, and confidence to walk away, you’re not going to make a good deal (read: Shea Hillenbrand and Casey Fossum was too much for Colon). I remember. I was a fan and the only thing they care about is who’s going to be wearing the uniform. There will be a time when we go above and beyond for a player, but it will be the right player with no questions about it.”
Tough days for the guitar-slinging Boy Wonder. Never outhustled, he’s been outspent and outfoxed by the hated Yankees and his boss has made life tougher by insulting the Boss.
That’s why they call it the blues.”
Ed Cossette, who pens the excellent Bambino’s Curse blog, loved Johnny Damon’s pluck (or nerve or chutzpah), and as a Red Sox fan I suppose it’s nice to hear some of the old fire from a player. As good a player as Damon is—why the Yanks signed Ro White without even making an offer to him last season, I’ll never know—and as soothing, and reassuring as his needling may feel to Red Sox Nation (give him credit for giving the people what they want), didn’t we hear a lot of this kind of tough talk out of him last season?
Red Sox fans love to tweek ever-sensitive Yankee fans (present company included), and Damon is happy to play the part of designated shit talker. Quite frankly, he doesn’t have anything to lose by throwing rocks at the throne; instead he simply enhances his popularity within Red Sox Nation. That’s good for him, but Johnny: come back to me. Talk to us when you’ve won…anything.
SPIDEY SENSE IS TINGLING; POCKETS, JINGLING BABY
The Twins signed their lovable, and huggable center-fielder Torii Hunter to a four-year deal on Friday according to espn.
Torii Hunter and the Minnesota Twins agreed Friday to a $32 million, four-year contract, just days after the All-Star outfielder said he wouldn’t get a multiyear deal.
“Yesterday it happened so fast, I was like, ‘We’re going to get this deal done,”’ Hunter said. “They came to where I felt it was fair for both sides. I commend them for getting there. Thank you!”
“What it’s about is helping my family out,” Hunter said. “At the same time, to be at home with the Minnesota Twins, the team I love, you can’t ask for much more.”
His first big purchase will be a house for his mother, Hunter said.
“My mom’s in a two-bedroom apartment in the ‘hood,” Hunter said. “My brothers, we slept with the rats and the roaches. We all came up together. … That’s what I came here to do: Work hard, play this game hard so I can be able to help my family.”
Last fall, Rob Neyer wrote a sensible column about why it would behoove the Twins to consider moving players like Hunter:
In the outfield, it’s assumed that the Twins need to lock up Torii Hunter with a long-term contract. But do they? Granted, Hunter’s a fine player. But Jacque Jones could shift to center field and the Twins wouldn’t lose a lot defensively, and they’ve got plenty of guys who could then replace Jones in left field.
See, the Twins are loaded with outfielders. They’ve got so many outfielders, they don’t have room for them all. In addition to Hunter and Jones, the Twins also have Bobby Kielty, Dustan Mohr, Michael Cuddyer and Michael Restovich.
You know how the story’s supposed to go. Plucky franchise puts together a solid team, consisting mostly of home-grown players, despite limited budget. Team wins 94 games. Team gets torn apart because of budget woes, and soon sinks back to whence it came. And so Bud Selig was right. Our plucky little franchise was nothing but an aberration.
The players certainly buy into this paradigm. As Pierzynski recently said, “We have to keep this team together. If we do that, hopefully we can make it two steps further next year. Hopefully, Mr. Pohlad will step up to the plate and get it done.”
And if Pohlad doesn’t “step up to the plate”? Right, the Twins plummet right down to third place (or even fourth, if Tigers owner Mike Illitch ever “steps up to the plate”).
But it doesn’t have to work that way. What if a franchise put together a solid roster, consisting mostly of home-grown players, and then continued to develop good players, who replaced the first group of home-grown players as they became more expensive?
Were the Twins moved to sign Hunter, an enormously popular player, after the White Sox traded for Barolo Colon this week? I’m can’t say. But they didn’t over pay him. I don’t know if Hunter will continue to improve as an offensive player, though there is no reason to expect he’ll fall off defensively for several years. Regardless if the deal makes the best baseball sense or not, it’s good to see the Twins fork over the dough for one of the game’s most irresistible, and personable young stars. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.