It’s windy and cold here in Vermont this morning, but there are many happy Red Sox fans in these parts regardless. The Red Sox have pitching! This is a moment that should legitimately make Yankee fans nervous. For the better part of 85 years, Boston is a team that has been defined by its offense. If only they had pitching, if only…Well, adding Curt Schilling sure is a good place to start. Buster Olney sure thinks so:
Throughout the Yankees’ dynasty of 1996-2001, they viewed the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles as sleeping giants, dangerous franchises that were operated incompetently. But now the Red Sox are being run effectively, efficiently, and they are starting to win some of the battles the Yankees always won in past years. They’ll have their next chance on the field in the 2004 season.
Dan Shaughnessy, a writer who has a lot invested in the Red Sox being good but not champs, says this move makes Boston the favorites in the American League East. He also raises an eyebrow over how the Yankees were squeezed by Arizona:
Truly there is something about this deal that does not make sense. In their talks with the Yankees, the Diamondbacks wanted Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson in exchange for the 37-year-old Schilling. Dealing with Boston, Arizona settled for Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, Jorge de la Rosa, and a minor leaguer to be named, likely Michael Goss — four players who do not equal one Nick Johnson.
Conspiracy theorists believe the Diamondbacks stuck it to the Yankees in retaliation for New York snatching David Wells last winter after Wells made a handshake agreement with Arizona. Look for the Yankees to go after Bartolo Colon now that the Red Sox have Schilling. And brace yourself for New York’s eventual signing of Gary Sheffield.
“I guess I hate the Yankees now,” said Schilling last night after the deal was announced.
Fortunately for Yankee fans, there are some silver linings here. Let’s talk Turkey. We hope that Schilling starts to break down. We hope that he gets in trouble with the press, and that the antiquated Fenway Clubhouse isn’t big enough for both Pedro and Schilling. (Fat chance.) OK, I’m bitter. These might be flimsy hopes, but you got to start somewhere. Meanwhile, Schilling admits that he hasn’t always been kind to Prince P:
“The one thing I know about being a visiting player is that I hated the fans,” he said. “And I think there’s a lot of disliking players until they’re on your side. A guy like Pedro, I think I was quoted in the middle of the playoffs when that situation occurred [involving Karim Garcia and Don Zimmer] as calling him a `punk.’ I can’t take it back. I felt that way at the time, and I’ve played with guys that have done the same thing and I thought it was pretty sweet as a teammate. It’s going to be different from anything I’ve ever done on a consistent basis and it’s going to be a challenge.”
As Gordon Edes notes, the Red Sox should not pop open the champagne just yet:
Of course, it’s a great deal for the Red Sox. But adding Curt Schilling, as good as he is, guarantees nothing, except an over-the-top response from the Yankees, who are virtually certain to add either Bartolo Colon or Javier Vazquez while returning Andy Pettitte to a rotation that will be missing Roger Clemens and possibly David Wells in 2004. In the euphoria that followed his successful pursuit of Schilling last night, Sox GM Theo Epstein acknowledged as much.
…Before planning on that parade down Boylston Street that Schilling was imagining in his musings during last night’s press conference, remember this: The A’s, with their fabulous threesome of Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Mark Mulder, have yet to play in a World Series. The Yankees, despite their rotation of impeccable pedigree, have not won a World Series since 2000.
The Sox led the AL in starters’ ERA by a wide margin over the Bombers in 2002 and didn’t even make the playoffs. Same thing in 2000.
I think it is fitting to end today’s entry with the Red Sox Don, Peter Gammons, who gives the lowdown on the deal, and aptly praises Boston’s GM, Theo Epstein.