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Mookie!

FINALLY.  Mookie Betts has been traded.  Officially.

Leave it to Red Sox ownership.  Ask for two players they know are already injured in the initial Mookie Betts/David Price deal.  Then when they find out they are REALLY injured (one of them anyway), proceed to hold up all the teams involved in the deal by demanding more compensation.  And yes, I blame ownership and not Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom.  The owners were the impetus for the deal, no two ways about it.

Actually, come to think of it, former GM Dave Dombrowski would have taken the injured players, even if they were more seriously injured than previously thought.  Then have the chance to back out, but say, “nah, we are good!”  Drew Pomeranz deal anyone?

It’s absolutely mind boggling how this ownership group, you know, the ones that oversaw a team that ended an 86 year World Series drought, then proceeded to win three more titles under their stewardship as well, can be so despised.  How’s that for a run-on sentence?!  The answer is:  cry poor mouth when you have more money than you know what to do with.

Listen, when one runs a business, you don’t want your costs spiraling out of control.  In this particular case, it’s paying an incredible amount of luxury tax.

But the Red Sox have the money.  They print their own money for Chrissakes.  Oh, and they charge an arm and TWO legs for EVERYTHING that revolves around the local nine.  Please buy a brick everyone!!

I cringe when I think of primary owner John Henry once calling the Sox a “small market team”.  Sigh…

The Sox could have gotten under the luxury tax by trading the useless Jackie Bradley Jr. and assorted other flotsam and jetsam.

But they chose their best player, and when all are healthy, their second best pitcher.  While eating half of that pitchers’ remaining salary.

For some fans, that is hard to swallow.

Me?

I actually don’t mind the deal.  Despite the fact that I too, feel like this ownership group is a bunch of arseclowns.  And that includes the spirit of Larry Lucchino, who was around for the early days.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again:  I was never trying to run Mookie Betts out of town.

All I know is that if I worked for the Sox and I felt that I could not re-sign Mookie before he hit free agency, I would explore all deals for him.  I do not want to lose him for a mere compensatory pick in return.

Betts was hell bent on getting to free agency.  And that is every bit his right to do so.  He presumably would be looking for the biggest contract.  Again, his right.  Only a handful of teams could pay him big dollars.  But there would be teams willing to do that, that much is for sure.

My feeling is that if Mookie got to free agency, he would not be coming back.  Even if the Sox ended up opening the vault, in the end, he would have been offended that they did not do so right from the get-go.  No doubt in my mind.  He would have felt disrespected.  That’s just what happens with athletes.

He was going.  And the Sox needed to get something in return.

As an aside, I am not giving out 12 year, 420 mil contracts to ANYONE, unless his name is “Mike Trout”.  And even then it’s a lot of commitment.  If I am in charge, no matter how much dough I have at my disposal, those deals are a little too long and risky for me.  In any sport.  Sorry.  But if I am running the business no way I do that.  Then again, no way I pay JBJ 11 mil this year either.  So, there’s that.

Could they have traded Betts at the deadline and gotten a bigger haul?  In my mind that was unlikely.  Not for a mere two months of service time.  Not to mention that if the Sox are in contention (which they should be EVERY YEAR), trading your best player at that time might not be received kindly by Red Sox Nation.

Poor Bloom.  He came into this sorry situation.  Once again ownership didn’t help by publicly announcing their desire (mandate?) to get under the luxury tax limit.  Tying Blooms’ hands a bit.  Then again, he didn’t have to take the job I guess.

But now he has to find a manager too.  Well, I guess he didn’t really have to look hard if they are just going to announce bench coach Ron Roenicke as the hire soon.  Nevermind…

The rest of the players involved?

I would have eaten 95.9 of Prices’ 96 mil remaining on his contract to get him the hell out of town.

Sorry.

This guy is a loser.  Good riddance.

Yeah, he won a couple of games in the 2018 World Series and should have been MVP.  Good for him.  The rest of his tenure other than the last two weeks of the 2018 playoffs (no one remembers he sucked early in those playoffs) was less than stellar.  Especially for 31 mil per.

Sure he had a great record in Boston.  And started out nice last season.  But the overall body of work was less than impressive…of course when you factor in what you would expect for 217 mil overall.

And the attitude?  Ugh.  Yeah, his teammates loved him.  But was that a good thing?  He got them all to gang up on former Sox pitcher and now broadcaster Dennis Eckersley.  All because Eck said he took too long in between pitches.  Or mildly criticized Eduardo Rodriguez in one of E-Rods’ starts.  Or so says Price anyway.

Please.  The subtraction of Price has me overjoyed.  I don’t care if I have to look at Ryan Weber and Hector Velasquez every five days.  I already have to look at Martin Perez every five days now.  Can Weber/Velasquez be worse?  Brian Johnson sure could be, so hopefully, he stays buried in Pawtucket.

The return?  Jury is out.

Alex Verdugo supposedly has talent.  We will see.  Just hope he doesn’t beat up a homeless guy outside Fenway after he goes 0-5 one night.  Ok, that was harsh.  But there is supposedly some “off field” stuff with him.  So we will see how all that goes.  Oh, and a back injury at 23 years old can’t be promising.

The other two guys I know zero about.  Jeter Downs may have some promise, but who knows?  This Wong dude can catch and play infield.  Nice.  But let’s see that in the majors.  By 2025 I would say.

And the “one that slipped away”?  Brusdar Graterol?

I don’t know much about him either.  Except he throws gas.  And is apparently on his way to 400 lbs.

The Twins had no problem dealing him, so maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about what he MIGHT do.

Until he goes 21-2, 2.34, 322 Ks in 2022 I guess…

Alex Cora…

…so I feel like I should comment on the whole cheating scandal going on in Major League Baseball.  Not only because it involves the Boston Red Sox.  But also because the New England Patriots have been known to ummmmm…push the envelope a time or three as well.  So I guess it is in the water here.  Or it’s prevalent around all leagues.  Either way…

The punishment has not come out against the Red Sox as of yet, so I am not really sure how I feel about them in particular.  Though the punishment has been levied against the Houston Astros already, they still seem to be the focus of the public somehow.  I’ll take that.

There is nothing really to write about the actual Red Sox team either.  Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has spent the offseason basically exchanging bum/unproven relievers for…bum/unproven relievers.  And NOT cutting payroll, as he was apparently “mandated” to do.  He also got rid of some AAAA infielders and signed a backup catcher.  So there’s that.  Oh, and now he has to find a manager.  Seems pretty productive thus far, right?

So instead of wasting any words on Sam Travis, Bobby Poyner, Jeffrey Springs or Matt Hall, here are some completely random thoughts on the cheating coming out of my head, in no particular order.  And I am not even guaranteeing they will make any sense either:

*As written in an ESPN article, “Cora is described by commissioner Rob Manfred as being “involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct.””

YIKES!!

Yeah, based on that, I can’t say I am surprised by the Sox firing him…oops, I mean, “agreed with Alex to mutually part ways…”  Sorry about that.

But what penalty can Cora expect?  Based on the year that former Astro manager A.J. Hinch received, is there a chance Cora gets banned for life?  Is it worse than what Pete Rose did to get him banned for life?

I may be the wrong guy to ask about Rose.  Truly an abhorrable (abhorrent?) individual, he bet on his own team while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds.  He may have not been the only one doing it, but he was dumb enough to get caught.  And, not to mention, dumb enough to do it in the first place.  Some may point out that he may have been showing confidence in his own team that day.  But he also likely tanked other days to assure the team was at its best the day he threw money down on them.  Or something like that.  In any event, despite being a colossal scumbag, Rose should be in the Hall of Fame as a player.  Since he would be far from the only scumbag in the Hall.

But I digress.  As for Cora…I don’t even know the answer.  It would seem kind of obvious that he would get more than Hinch.  But life?

I can’t go there unless I hear more damning evidence against him.  Perhaps that comes when the Red Sox investigation is complete.

*What does MLB do from here?  I mean, video is everywhere.  Some dude can take video from the 6th row and get valuable information, can’t he?  The Astro dude that was standing in plain view and recording in games against the Red Sox, Indians and who knows who else…was that even necessary?

I know the teams have some sort of video rooms in the back and all.  But even if they were eliminated, would that make a difference?

I’ve actually been wondering for years how on an NFL telecast in any year someone like Tony Romo, Troy Aikman or Cris Collinsworth say stuff early on like, “when we spoke to the quarterback and coaches on Friday, they told us they were going to do (this) to (combat the other team)”.  I mean, no one listens to the telecast and communicates that to the opposing sideline?  Yeah, it isn’t the whole game plan.  And maybe what was said was kind of obvious.  But still…

Video and recording devices are all around us.  How do you stop it?  I don’t know.  And I am not sure MLB does either.

*What about player suspensions?  Will we see any of those?

My guess is no.  For several reasons.  Are any of the reports going to single out any of the players?  Are there really any players that took advantage more than others?  Did some players frown upon it, but had no choice to go along with the plan due to pressure from their teammates/coaches (reports are that Hinch didn’t love what was going on and broke two monitors at some point.  But ultimately did nothing to stop it, so of course he is paying the price),

And above all, how can you suspend 25-40 players?

Perhaps heavy manager/GM penalties may discourage players from engaging in this practice going forward.  But can we count on that?

*And if they are going after General Managers, why not the owners?  I guess the draft picks and the 5 mil takes care of that part.

However, Marge Schott and George Steinbrenner faced some personal penalties years ago.  So who is to say the owners shouldn’t pay some sort of personal price here as well?

We know for these guys 5 mil is pocket change.

More questions than answers, I know.  But MLB is undoubtedly in the same spot.

And one thing is for sure, cheating is never going away…in any sport.

If it’s not video, it’s Apple watches, it’s performance enhancing drugs, it’s deflating footballs, or it’s something else.  And then something new will inevitably come along.

Sign stealing has been happening for years, in fact.  We all know that.  It’s just a little more high tech now.

So as the world becomes more complicated, busy and distracting…good luck to every sport for figuring all THAT out…

Hot Stove Is Heating Up…

…but where are the Boston Red Sox?

Yes, I know, Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom has been tasked to slash payroll.  So he isn’t about to hand out 324 million dollar contracts to anyone, no matter how prolific a player/pitcher they may be.

But…something??

Thus far, the Sox’ moves have consisted of outrighting to AAA their third catcher from September, Juan Centeno; adding 5 guys to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule V draft; designating pitcher Brian Johnson for assignment, then outrighting him to AAA once no one claimed him (big surprise); non-tendering infielder Marco Hernandez and pitcher Josh Osich (then re-signing them to lesser deals); trading backup catcher Sandy Leon for someone light years away from the majors and losing reliever Trevor Kelley on waivers…oh and wait!  As I blink, they just selected a 21 year old Double-A SS named Jonathan Arauz in the Rule V draft!! Wow…and now I blink again and infielder Jose Peraza is in the fold too!!

Scintillating.

The biggest names have just recently signed:  Stephen Strasburg re-upping with the Nationals, Gerrit Cole with the aforementioned 324 mil from the Yankees and Anthony Rendon cashing in with the Angels.

A lot of the lesser names have signed as well.  Kevin Gausman, Michael Pineda, Kyle Gibson, Didi Gregorius, Howie Kendrick, Drew Pomeranz, Tanner Roark, etc.

Not that the Sox need any of those guys in particular.  But a little bit of a slow start to the offseason, no doubt.

I guess I shouldn’t worry all that much.  There are still plenty of bodies out there.  Then again, also not a ton of good ones either.

On top of that, Bloom’s best track to improve the team may be by trades.  Actually, that is his best move to shave salary.  Not sure he’s going to get much for most of his trade options.

For example, rumors abound that other teams may be interested in David Price since his price tag looks a lot cheaper compared to some of the silly contracts being thrown out in the last couple of weeks or so.  But those rumors also say that either the Sox would have to eat some of that cash, or “throw something of value” along with Price in order to clear that contract.  There was some mention of outfielder Andrew Benintendi being that “something of value”.  Benny had a subpar year last year.  But is young and presumably has room to grow still.  So throwing him in a deal to clear other salary seems a little steep.  Then again, the farm system is bare.  So what minor leaguer would be “something of value”?  Would they actually trade one of their few good prospects, whoever they are?

Example #2:  Rumors also abound that the Sox are “aggressively shopping Jackie Bradley Jr.”.  It’s about time.  But about three years too late.  Who’s going to give the Sox anything for a guy who can’t hit, but will make 8 figures next year through arbitration?

Unless the Sox try to trade Mookie Betts, which I have been in favor of if he truly does not want to re-sign here, or inexplicably deal someone like Xander Bogaerts or Rafael Devers, how much will they get in return for ANYONE in a trade?

I’m actually wondering if the Sox are seriously considering dealing Betts this winter.  I don’t think they are, to be honest.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  But it won’t be great if he walks for nothing next offseason.  A trade deadline deal cannot be ruled out.  But if the Sox are in contention at the deadline, how can they deal him then?

Unless this is a true “bridge year”.  But how can that be true if Betts, Bogaerts, Devers, J.D. Martinez and Benny return in that lineup?  Sure, the pitching staff is more than suspect.  But how can this group of guys not be at least competitive?

Not to mention if Bloom walks in here and they AREN’T in contention at least somewhat this season, he will not be a popular man around town.  Not without divulging some sort of future plan…which you know he will not.

The way the 40-man roster stands now, with its current 38 players, there are holes all over the place.  Even if those stud players mentioned above stay and produce, pitchers like Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi (& Price?) rebound and contribute, the fact remains that there is all kind of dead weight still from those guys on down to the end of the roster.  Not to mention several minor leaguers that aren’t ready for prime-time.

Also…please don’t try to sell us on Dustin Pedroia playing 120-130 games at second base next year either.  Actually, don’t even get me started on Pedey here right now.  You all know how I feel about him.  Great career here, feisty little player over the years, lost some respect for him in recent years with his behavior, but in the end, he is simply done due to injury and it’s time to go.

So let’s get to work Chaim.  More than Arrauz and Peraza for sure.  At least maybe re-sign Rick Porcello back to that one year deal he wants to try to reset his value.  He was brutal last year.  But at least he takes the ball every 5 days.  More than you can say for most of the rest of the starters still here…oops…shortly after I wrote this, Porcello inked a one year deal with the Mets.  Oh well…

Changing gears a smidge:

In one more piece of recent Red Sox news, Dwight Evans had a renewed chance to make the MLB Hall of Fame the other day as he appeared on the Modern Baseball Era ballot.

This committee meets “twice every five years” and covers players, managers, umpires and executives from the 1970-1987 time frame.  It gives everyone in this period a second chance at the Hall basically.

But does everyone actually deserve a second chance at the Hall?

I am not so sure.

The Modern Era’s first enshrinements were Jack Morris and Alan Trammell in 2017.  Then the “Today’s Game Era” (1988-present) committee put in Lee Smith and Harold Baines in 2018.  The winners this year the Modern Era put in Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller (Players Association head).

Are ANY of these guys Hall of Famers??!  I’d say perhaps Miller since he led the charge for collective bargaining agreements, free agency and arbitration.  But none of those players are Hall of Famers.  They just aren’t.

And that includes our old friend Dewey Evans.

Evans was a very good player.  Better in the second half of his career than the first.  Piled up almost 400 homers and 2,500 hits.  And I had no idea until recently that he had more homers in the 1980s than ANY other player.

Those are all nice.  But did anyone buy a ticket to watch Evans play baseball?

We did for Pedro.  We did for Roger (he WILL get in someday, and you know he belongs).  We did for Teddy Ballgame (well, not me, I wasn’t born, but you get the point).

I am not even sure Yaz is a Hall of Famer.  But people that watched him play in his early years swear by it.  And presumably bought a ticket to watch him play.

Not for Dewey.

Loved the guy when he wore the Sox uni.  But not once ever did I think he was a Hall of Famer.

And now, with all of these recent dudes getting in, Cooperstown is getting so watered down, it’s kind of disheartening.

Do we put Evans, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, etc. in because Baines is in?  It’s trending that way.

Evans got 8 of the 12 votes he needed for induction on this committee (75% of the 16 members).  And was next in line behind Simmons and Miller.

Does that mean he is a lock when they reconvene in 12/22?

Say it ain’t so.

You’ll hear more ranting from me soon in my annual Cooperstown column.  But that’s all for now.

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