By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

One for the ages

Last Sept. 2, right after the Red Sox announced that Jon Lester would leave the team to undergo cancer treatment, I predicted that Lester would be the Opening Day pitcher in April 2008. It’s not going to happen — that honor will obviously go to Josh Beckett.

But this is a whole lot better, isn’t it? What an absolutely incredible story. Lester got behind on some batters last night, but he looked pretty much unhittable.

And not to sully this moment with the Alex Rodriguez saga, but he’s already done that, hasn’t he? Mike and Mike were tearing into him on ESPN Radio (AM 890 around here) this morning, as well they should. Blowing off Hank Aaron and putting his contract wishes above the World Series in one day has got to be some sort of a record.

I hope Theo and Larry don’t even think of signing him. A-Rod’s a great player, and maybe his post-season failures have been a fluke (or maybe not). But he’d be a constant distraction. The Sox have proved they can win without him. The Mariners, Rangers and Yankees have proved they can lose with him. Enough.


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36 Comments

  1. mike_b1

    Dan, why save all the blame for ARod? It seems to me that his agent, Scott Boras, was the one doing all the talking. By not showing up to receive the award, you could make the case ARod was trying to avoid upstaging the WS, because wherever he goes, he becomes the story.P.S. Please try to enjoy the moment. The Red Sox won the World Series. It only happens twice in a lifetime. And consider this the next time you feel obligated to rip Epstein a new one.

  2. Anonymous

    Dan, no runs on 3 hits and 3 walks in 5 and two-thirds innings is effective, not “unhittable.” I’m as pleased for Lester as anyone, but why exaggerate? Only one Red Sox starter had a truly dominant, ace-like performance in this World Series. The other three didn’t make it out of the 6th inning.All’s well that ends well, of course.

  3. Steve

    Think of it this way, Dan – you were only off by one game! And yes, this is better. Lester was amazing.How much will Mike Lowell want? I bet NY will offer him $60M/4yrs if he waits out the 10-day period. The Red Sox will (rightly IMO) see this as overpaying, and will probably offer somewhere between $50M and $55M if they decide Lowell’s worth a 4-year risk. But can the Red Sox really offer less to Lowell than they’re going to pay Drew in the next 4 years?I hope the Sox stand pat for the most part. Sign Lowell and Schilling. Sign Wakefield if he decides to keep playing. Maybe trade Crisp for a good younger catcher.

  4. Anonymous

    Steve, what a great idea. MLB is just full of teams itching to trade a good young catcher – the kind of thing that only comes along just so often – for an underachieving, overpaid outfielder. Lowell won’t get 4 years guaranteed from anyone. Maybe 3 with a club option for a fourth. I’m guessing he’ll be in Boston next year. If the Red Sox do pursue A-Rod, who says he has to play 3rd? There’s an opening at short, I’d say.

  5. Suldog

    “And not to sully this moment…”Hey, wait a minute. There’s no need to get personal, Dan.Yours Truly,Jim Sullivan

  6. The Scoop

    In response to Mike_b1, Boras works for A-Rod. If A-Rod didn’t want Boras to announce the news during the World Series, he would have told Boras to wait. Instead, A-Rod allowed Boras to shamelessly plug his client and steal some of the spotlight from the deciding game of the World Series. They are both responsible for the classless move.

  7. Suldog

    All kidding aside, I couldn’t agree more about A-Rod. I do not want him on the Red Sox. He and his agent are both boorish A-holes.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Obviously I was concerned about sliming the moment. ;-)Mike: Twice in a lifetime? I don’t know. A lot of these guys are going to get better. This isn’t like the ’04 team.

  9. Steve

    Anon 11:59 – I said “younger” not young. At this point I’ll take someone with average performance, younger than 30. Remind me again how we acquired Josh Bard?

  10. Anonymous

    Let us also heap appropriate scorn on Fox for bringing it up during the game. Even when they’re not in it, it’s all about the Yankees.

  11. Anonymous

    FORGET A-ROD! After what Mike Lowell did in last night’s game (and throughout the post season) Larry & Theo MUST offer Lowell some kind of a short term contract! He’s too important of a player not to let go.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    It is unsettling to think that the Sox may be the most age-vulnerable at catcher. Varitek is clearly one of the two greatest in team history, and was stolen right out from under the Mariners’ noses. That’s not likely to happen again.

  13. It aint Yawkey

    Alex R cannot make this team one game better. We (Red Sox) have a winning third baseman; a winning teammate.

  14. Anonymous

    As I mentioned at 11:59 AM, they wouldn’t have to play him at 3rd. There are two major weak spots as the team is presently constituted – in CF (which will probably be remedied by giving the job to Ellsbury next year), and at shortstop, A-Rod’s first position. Not that I really think he’s worth all that money (just think how much pitching you can get for 25 or 30 million a year). And you’d have a hard time getting good value back for Lugo at this point – his salary is ridiculous. Just sayin’.

  15. mike_b1

    Dan, I was kidding about the “only twice in a lifetime” bit. But winning the WS is really, really hard. Manny has one year left with the team; Lowell and Ortiz are not going to get better; Ellsbury is not nearly as good as he’s seemed in the past month (no one could be); the rookie pitching is just that, rookie pitching, etc. Boston has the makings of a highly competitive team for years to come. The rest is luck (few injuries, catch some breaks, etc.). That’s all we as fans can ask for.And no way Varitek is one of the two greatest in team history. Carlton Fisk and Rick Ferrell are both in the Hall of Fame. Varitek never will be. And Wally Schang was the greatest offensive catcher Boston has ever had.As for Boras/ARod, when you show me proof that Arod knew Boras was going public on that date, I’ll believe you. Until then, it’s all on Boras. ARod is the best player in baseball. He’d look — and play — great in a Red Sox uniform.

  16. Dan Kennedy

    Gee, Mike, you forgot Birdie Tebbetts. Actually, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Varitek makes the Hall, although it would obviously be on the basis of his defense.I also think Ortiz might have a better regular season next year, assuming his knee surgery goes well. Manny’s on the downside, admittedly. And Lowell had his career year. But Drew and Lugo are going to be better, and Ellsbury will be a huge upgrade from Crisp, even if he falls to earth somewhat.

  17. mike_b1

    Actually, Tebbetts was twice an all-star in his Boston career, and finished as high as 11th in the MVP voting. But he only played four seasons in Boston, and nothing he did was so stellar to deserve comparison. Re Varitek, you would likely be the only one. He will likely end up with roughly 200 HRs, 850-900 RBIs, a batting average in the low .260s. He’s won one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger. His highest MVP finish: 21. That’s it. He never led the league in anything, never hit .300 or more than 25 HRs or drove in more than 85 runs. He’s been a steady player, but clearly not a Hall of Famer. Look up Mike Stanley’s record … it’s almost the same as Varitek’s. Four notable Hall predictor resources: Gray Ink, HOF Standards, HOF Monitor and JAWS, have him falling well short.Put it this way: If Jason Kendall doesn’t make it (and he won’t), no way Varitek gets in. He’s more a byproduct of the local Boston media machine than he is a star.

  18. Steve

    Ortiz had a BETTER year this year than last, the HRs notwithstanding. The players I *do* expect to get better are Lugo and Drew. If this ownership has a grievous fault, it’s not being patient enough with position players, especially if they’ve changed leagues. If for no other reason than reversion to the mean, both Lugo and Drew should improve, since they were both well under their career average production.Varitek isn’t getting any better. Mirabelli may also be done. We have to come up with a catcher somehow, and I don’t think Kevin Cash is the answer.

  19. Bill Toscano

    You really think Jason Varitek is up therein the same league as Jerry Moses?;)I would have loved A-Rod last time around, but this time, he’d just be too much of a distraction.Clearly, we need to sign Seth Smith, since he made the last out in the World Series. He’ll do better than Edgar Renteria.

  20. mike_b1

    Steve is right: Ortiz was better in 2007 than in 2006, HRs notwithstanding.Drew’s big problem was his power drop, which I would bet dollars to donuts reflects an undisclosed injury. His BA was modestly below his career norm, and had he hit his career BA, his OBP would have been right there, too (and remember: he ranks 91st ALL-TIME in OBP). Either way, I’ll take a .373 OBP and 84 runs from my sixth spot any day. (Note to Steve, I think you mean “regression” to the mean. 🙂 )

  21. Steve

    I certainly did, thanks Mike.

  22. Don (no longer) Fluffy

    For the rest of us: Wait until next year. All right, congratulations Red Sox, grr. . . .

  23. Anonymous

    Saying you don’t want a future HOF’er is fine. But what if the mfy offer Lowell something nasty: say 4y at 70 million? The FA market is awful this year and while I don’t think they want to dealth into the ARod sweepstakes a ten year $275mil.contract may not be as odious as it sounds for a would-be all-time HR king.

  24. Steve

    10yr/$275M won’t get it done for Boros/ARod. The offer they turned down was essentially 8yr/$240M from the Yankees. (!!!! – Who turns down a quarter of a BILLION dollars to play a game? Sheesh!)But if the Yankees are out and the Red Sox stay out (please!), who does that leave to pay ARod?My answer – the Cubs (in desparation).

  25. Dan Kennedy

    Mike Vaccaro in the New York Post: “Don’t blame Boras for this. A-Rod had to know how malodorous the timing of this is. If he cared, he sure didn’t do anything about it.”And now Boras apologizes. As if A-Rod didn’t know what his agent was up to.

  26. Rick in Duxbury

    Matt Viser’s piece in today’s Globe (re walking through NYC in Red Sox gear), gives a good picture of hubris in action. We should all watch and learn how NOT to act when fortune’s pendulum inevitably swings away from us.(Many years from now, one hopes!)NY is learning that karma is a bitch.

  27. amusedbutinformedobserver

    I tend to take both the announcement and the apology on Rodriguez with a grain of salt.As the great Steve Fredericks used to say when the reserve clause was falling and player strikes were in their infancy, a player is entitled to whatever they can get — just like the owners, and the Bowie Kuhnism that the World Series is to be sanctified from all other news is patently absurd.As for the Red Sox bidding for Rodriguez, they would be absurdly crazy if they didn’t, for it would create a lineup of historic power — and by adding a Gold Glove caliber shortstop!Alas, the talk shows need demons and with the Red Sox winning the series, Rodriguez is the demon of the hour. The current ownership is quite careful to jettison demons who become objects of deep public scorn, q.v. Edgar Rentaria, Grady Little and a host of lesser figures.I can’t see the club taking the PR hit that negotiating with Rodriguez would involve, especially with the local media’s fondness for leaping on to the bandwagon when it comes to piling on for some perceived complaint which may or may not be valid.And am I the only one who thought it looked a little chilly between Lucchino and Henry/Werner during the celebration? No PR guy seems to have slipped a note to the national announcers to include Lucchino on the Red Sox cancer-survivor list, either. Kremlinologists have predicted putsches on less evidence.

  28. Steve

    Here’s another short Red Sox fan in NYC vignette (albeit in a less victorious time), courtesy of The Max.

  29. mike_b1

    To whom it may concern: ARod is not a SS anymore, nor will he be again. Time to consider Plan B. Thank you.

  30. Anonymous

    Mike, that’s ridiculous. Half the guys listed as shortstops right now aren’t really shortstops but they’re playing there anyway.A-Rod is in top shape, has gold glove calibre skills and can play anywhere on the field.Not that I want him in Boston. Too expensive. But if he’s not a shortstop, then, well, Julio Lugo isn’t either.

  31. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: To add to that — there was some talk during the season that A-Rod had told people he wanted to leave the Yankees so he could return to shortstop. I’m sure he’s not as quick as he used to be, but he could probably still play the position better than all but a few. And no, I don’t want him playing shortstop for the Sox, either. If you’re going to spend an extra $30 million a year, there are better ways to spend it. Like $13 million for Schilling for one year? And making a real effort to sign Lowell for two — three if you absolutely have to? Please, Theo?

  32. mike_b1

    Don’t take my word for it: look at the data. If you haven’t noticed, ARod is considerably bigger than he was before he came to the Yankees. And his range at 3B has decreased every year, as measured by range factor. This is not the same defensive player you remember from the 1990s.

  33. Steve

    Dan – I think Theo would make a 2- or even a 3-year deal with Lowell in a heartbeat. The question (apparently) is a 4-year deal. Would you go 4 for Lowell if you absolutely have to? (I would.)And then the question is, “how much?” $50M? $60M? My answer is about $52M, maybe $56M, but hey, it’s not my money (as someone else recently observed).

  34. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: If Lowell insists on four years, I guess I would start thinking about moving Youkilis to third and finding a power-hitting first baseman. The trio has been very good about not holding onto players for too long. I think it’s almost a guarantee that Lowell will be a vastly diminished player by 2011, if not earlier.

  35. man who's a sox fan

    Hey Dan, no commentary on how the Herald completely screwed the pooch the morning after the World Series win!?!?!I saw at least one Herald that waxed philosophic about how Tito was able to relax and enjoy this Series…plus a lot of other verbal gymnastics that danced around the fact that the edition went to print before Game 4 was over.I know papers have printing deadlines, but this is the WORLD SERIES for Chrissakes! They couldn’t have accepted that papers would be an hour late to the newsstands so they could get in the Series win?!?!?

  36. Steve

    Dan – I know this is an old thread, but I want it for the record. :-)Anon 11:59 – you were saying?Dallas Morning News:Gerald Laird for Coco?

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