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Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Red Sox reach agreement with catcher Doug Mirabelli. Two years, $3 million. (Yahoo!)

Miller's deal with Brewers is finalized.
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Catcher Damian Miller's $8.75 million, three-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers was finalized Monday after team doctors allayed concerns over his health.

While the deal was agreed to last week and Miller took a physical Wednesday, the Brewers put off completing the agreement because they couldn't find any of their team physicians to read the MRI exam results ahead of the holiday weekend.

Miller Crossing. "The one thing I did question was the wisdom of locking up a 35-year-old catcher for three years (though only two guaranteed). So how risky is that, in general?" (Mike's Baseball Rants)

The Kendall trade. "The A's again demonstrated that, given an opportunity anywhere in baseball with a team that will pick up a phone, they'll try and get themselves in on the deal. Especially in a situation like this, where a team's determined to get rid of a player or improve in some particular area, the A's will be there with four different ways to solve the other team’s problem, and being to wear them down until a deal’s made." (U.S.S. Mariner)

Abstracts From The Abstracts. Richard Lederer combs through Bill James's 1986 Baseball Abstract. (Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT)

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Lib. Choose your verbs and nouns (what, no adjectives?), and make your own customized Cubs story. (The Cub Reporter)

Monday, November 29, 2004
A's, Pirates officially complete Kendall trade.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Jason Kendall was traded Saturday from Pittsburgh to Oakland, giving the Athletics one of baseball's best top-of-the-lineup hitters and most durable catchers and partly freeing the Pirates of their biggest financial burden.

The Pirates get left-hander Mark Redman to stabilize their oft-shaky rotation and left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes for Kendall, a three-time All-Star and .306 career hitter.

Prospectus Triple Play: Anaheim Angels, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers. "Vladimir Guerrero showed that the Most Valuable Player Award can be won in the closing days of the season. An unbelievable hot streak in the Angels' next-to-last series--12-for-17, two doubles, five home runs against the Rangers--helped the Angels catch the Oakland A's and positioned them to take the division on the season's final weekend. Guerrero's surge separated him from the other top candidates, and was certainly the difference in earning him his first MVP award." (Baseball Prospectus)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Sammy Sosa- 5 Questions. "The biggest on-going story of this offseason for the Mets is the Sammy Sosa trade rumor. With that in mind, I decided to get some Cub experts to answer a few questions on the man every Met fan doesn't want in Shea to see if it would really be such a bad move. They are Christian Ruzich, Derek Smart and Alex Ciepley from the Cub Reporter, the best Cub blog out there. Enjoy." (Jeremy Heit's Blog)

Beltre's First Good Season Wasn’t 2004. Beltre vs. Beltran. (Dodger Thoughts)

The Charboneaus. "Next in our pursuit of the worst award vote-getters of all time are the Charboneaus, the worst Rookie of the Year candidates, or at least the ones that someone was foolish enough to vote for. Of course, it is named for Joe Charboneau, the Cleveland Indians slugger who set the bar for sophomore slumps." (Mike's Baseball Rants)

Prospectus Triple Play: Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, San Francisco Giants. "It's an idea that's got some traction among the analytical set. He was spotted taking grounders there at the end of the season. And incumbent Corey Koskie's free agency creates the opening. But the Twins don't appear to be thinking in terms of moving catcher Joe Mauer to third base in the wake of his traumatic rookie season...Back at the end of September, the Twins did work Mauer out at third base simply to get him moving around, on the possibility that if they reached the ALCS he might be activated. That didn't materialize, of course. Mauer instead went to the Florida Instructional league and felt continued discomfort while squatting to catch. But while their ought to be plenty of concern not only for his repaired knee but for the durability of a 6'4" catcher in general, Twins GM Terry Ryan has said that the plans are that he will be catching again come spring training." (Baseball Prospectus)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Of Fades, and Flops, and Zoilo. "There are Fades, and there are Flops. Each describes the circumstance of a player who demonstrates early career success, but then fails to sustain it. The Fade is the guy who year by year just recedes a little bit from his early glory, perhaps almost imperceptibly, until finally we realize that, at too young an age, he's just not the same player he once was, and never will be again. The Flop, on the other hand, is much more dramatic: he achieves early height and then plummets with sudden alacrity, leaving us but to wince in anticipation of the puff of dust to come, Wile E. Coyote-like, when he hits bottom." (The Hardball Times)

Cheeseburga! No Fries. Chips. The Nationals stole their logo! (Baseball Wiseguys)

Red Sox Plan to Add 2000 Seats On Top of John Hancock Building. "'These seats are really going to be the ultimate in luxury for Red Sox fans,' said an elated President and CEO Larry Lucchino. 'Gourmet food selections from Boston’s finest restaurants, Jacuzzis, massages during the game from the world’s best masseurs —all while providing that same magical Fenway feel. And the view from on top of John Hancock will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen. With a super-high-powered pair of binoculars or a space telescope, you’ll feel like you’re sitting right behind home plate.'" (Call of the Green Monster)

Monday, November 22, 2004
Benson and Mets reach preliminary agreement on $22.5 million, three-year contract. (Yahoo!)

Transaction Oracle discussion of the Benson deal. (Baseball Think Factory)

Cubs agree to two-year deal with Rusch. (Yahoo!)

Prediction: RJ will be a White Sox. "I expect Randy Johnson to be a White Sox by the end of the Winter Meetings in December. I also expect the Sox to be rather quiet after that." (SoxNet)

Remaking the Yankees for 2005, Part I: Assessing the Rotation. "As the Yanks retool for 2005, the only sure bet to be wearing pinstripes from this group is Mussina. The Moose, who is signed through 2006 (with a club option for '07) had arguably the worst season of his career in '04, throwing for his fewest innings since his 1991 rookie season and finishing with his lowest ERA+ of his career (98, a couple hairs below league average, in other words)." (Futility Infielder)

Friday, November 19, 2004
Angels Trade Jose Guillen to Expos.
NEW YORK - The Anaheim Angels (news) traded troubled outfielder Jose Guillen to the Washington-bound Expos for outfielder Juan Rivera and a prospect, The Associated Press learned Friday. Anaheim and Montreal scheduled conference calls but did not announce the subject. Details of the deal were described to the AP by a person close to Guillen, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"It was the best thing that could happen, taking into consideration the way things ended last season between us," Guillen told the AP from his home in Miami. "I'm excited to be a part of the Expos and part of history, now that we'll play in the U.S. capital."

Guillen was suspended for the last eight games of the regular season and dropped from Anaheim's playoff roster after he threw a tantrum in the dugout and clubhouse when he was removed for a pinch-runner on Sept. 25. In a grievance settlement, he agreed to allow the Angels to withhold two days' pay.

Guillen hit .294 with 27 homers and a career-high 104 RBIs in 2004. He is owed $3.5 million next season.

The Zolios, continued. More on the worst players to receive MVP consideration. (Mike's Baseball Rants)

The Real Greatest Canadian. "We offer you twenty choices for The Greatest Canadian Baseball Player. The criteria are as nebulous as they are in the CBC's contest - the greatest degree of demonstrated or latent, uh, greatness." (Batter's Box)

Thursday, November 18, 2004
Closer Percival OKs $12M deal with Tigers. (Boston Globe)

Transaction Oracle discussion of the Percival signing. (Baseball Think Factory)

Under The Knife: Free Agents. "There's an important distinction to be made between health and risk. The two don't necessarily move in tandem with injury history, position, age and hundreds of other factors working to make health and risk something like Schroedinger's Cat. Teams that can accurately assess health and risk can make the best deals. Vladimir Guerrero was headed for Shea Stadium, but the Mets balked at paying top dollar for his bad back. The Angels knew that Guerrero had become a core training fiend and picked him up at a nice price. That one worked out pretty well. It's just as easy to get the opposite effect. Actually, much easier." (Baseball Prospectus)

Prospectus Triple Play: Florida Marlins, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates. "Before we proceed to never mention the Yankees' four straight elimination-game losses in the 2004 ALCS again, we here at BP feel the need to recognize the unique blend of incompetence and bad luck it took to cough up the biggest comeback in Championship Series history to your most hated rivals. Just because we favor the scientific process doesn't mean we don't enjoy a good scapegoat when one is available. Accordingly, we're going to award some lucky New York Yankee the 2004 ALCS Least Valuable Player Award." (Baseball Prospectus)

Baseball in Chocolate City (And Its Vanilla Suburbs). John Viega on the return of baseball to Washington. (

MVP’ing Away Votes. A look at the worst players ever to receive MVP votes. (Mike's Baseball Rants)

Cashman was left out of Pedro chat, and he's mad.
When Pedro Martinez met with George Steinbrenner and three Yankees vice presidents on Tuesday, there was a notable absence from Legends Field. Besides, that is, Martinez's diminutive friend Nelson de la Rosa.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wasn't invited to the meeting and didn't learn of it until Tuesday, according to an American League source, and Cashman was still upset yesterday over the development. Cashman didn't return calls for comment yesterday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Angelic Guerrero wins American League MVP. (

AL MVP voting. (

Washington-bound Expos find the money for Castilla, Guzman.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- For a team without a budget, the Expos made a big early splash in free agency.

In their first major moves since announcing their relocation to Washington, the Expos on Tuesday agreed to terms with third baseman Vinny Castilla and shortstop Cristian Guzman.

Castilla will receive a $6.2 million, two-year contract, while Guzman gets a $16.8 million, four-year deal. Jim Bowden, hired as general manager on Nov. 2 to replace Omar Minaya, made the moves even though he hasn't been told how much money he can spend by the commissioner's office, which is operating the team until it is sold.

Bowden's Big Splash. "The Expos just committed to two years of a 37-year-old third baseman who has hit a combined .247/.291/.423 away from Coors Field over the past three seasons, and he looks like Barry Bonds compared to the other guy they signed. Guzman has hit .272/.303/.379 over the last three years, including an absolutely miserable .259/.281/.351 away from the Metrodome and its turf. And for that -- for two guys who will struggle to get on base even 30% of the time -- the Expos have paid $23 million and given up multiple draft picks." (The Hardball Times)

Transaction Oracle discussion of the Castilla and Guzman signings. (Baseball Think Factory)

Phillies re-sign Lidle to two-year, $6.3M deal. (

Transaction Oracle discussion of the Lidle signing. (Baseball Think Factory)

Does Piazza to the Angels Make Sense? (The Metropolitans)

The Disposable Baseball Blogger. "The brief history of baseball blogging has been a land rush - acres and acres of virgin www out there for the pickings like an online version of the old American West, requiring only a little moxie to stake a claim. But just like the dark side of Manifest Destiny, not every homesteader hangs on. Some stick it out for only a few months, or weeks, or days, or - you’ve seen it, no doubt - hours." (Dodger Thoughts)

2004 Starting Rotation Review. "Jeff Suppan is the only starting pitcher from 2004 that I personally trust to be healthy and effective in 2005. Chris Carpenter and Jason Marquis had great seasons from which they can build upon, with the one caveot being that they may be prime candidates for injuries next season. And both Woody Williams and Matt Morris do not have much appeal to be signed for next year in my opinion - at least, not at the prices I assume they would want to work for." (Random Redbird Reasoning)

2004 Infield Review. (Random Redbird Reasoning)

2004 Outfield Review. (Random Redbird Reasoning)

2004 Bullpen Review. (Random Redbird Reasoning)

2004 Bench Review. (Random Redbird Reasoning)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Bonds wins record seventh MVP award. (Yahoo!)

Mets decline Leiter's option. He would have earned $10.2 million in 2005. He's now a free agent. (Yahoo!)

Long Voyage Home. Roger Angell on the 2004 baseball season. (The New Yorker)

Carlos Beltran Celebrity Poker. Some inside info on the offers that have been made. (Will Carroll Weblog)

Prospectus Triple Play: Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers. "If you keep up with the newspaper columnists in the world, the Rangers' first priority in the offseason is going to be trying to trade Alfonso Soriano to free up some money to get some pitching help. If this is the plan of the Rangers front office, it's bad news for Texas fans, because it's exactly the wrong thing to do...No, it wasn't the pitching that kept the Rangers from closing the deal in the AL West in 2004. It was the offense." (Baseball Prospectus)

Prospectus Triple Play: Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Toronto Blue Jays. "While there's a mutual interest in Delgado returning to the Blue Jays, suffice it to say that if he does return it will be at a greatly reduced rate. He was almost half the Blue Jays' salary last year, and that won't happen again. Eric Crozier, acquired for Josh Phelps, will provide insurance but it's hard to replace a player of Delgado's quality at any price. He's a good bet for .300/.430/.600 sometime soon, and that ain't easy to find. Put it this way: last year's .269/.372/.535 was a disappointment, and that would be beyond a career year for any of his potential replacements." (Baseball Prospectus)

Rivals in Exile: The Hot Stove. Ben Jacobs and Larry Mahnken look ahead to 2005 for the Red Sox and Yankees. (The Hardball Times)

Dusting the Bookshelves: BBBA 1995. A look back at the 1995 Big Bad Baseball Annual. (Ducksnorts)

Monday, November 15, 2004
Santana's success: Twins lefty is Venezuela's first Cy Young winner. (Yahoo!)

Unanimously Johan. "The run he made during the final four months of the season is one of the greatest in the history of the sport. Since the start of June, Santana went 18-3 with a 1.50 ERA, including 13-0 with a 1.18 ERA after the All-Star break and a nearly unbelievable 5-0 with a 0.26 ERA in September. And all the while I couldn't stop smiling. I am not an expert on baseball talent and I would be utterly useless as a scout, but for some reason I saw something in Santana that I hadn't seen in other players. Whether it was the pitches he threw or the style he threw them or his supreme confidence on the mound, I saw a player who wasn't very well known and I knew instantly that he'd become a star. He just needed the chance." (The Hardball Times)

A Santana retrospective based on all the times Tom Renbarger has written about Santana on his blog. (TDA Bullpen)

The 2004/2005 Free Agent Prediction Contest. Deadine: November 18. (Baseball Think Factory)

Vizquel agrees to $12.25 million, three-year deal with Giants. (Yahoo!)

...Age versus beauty. "So the Giants have finally made a free agent splash, just not the kind that makes any sense. By signing the 37-year old Omar Vizquel to an amazingly generous, three-year, $12.25 million dollar deal, Brian Sabean has again demonstrated that he is the only person in the game who recognizes that baseball players don't grow old, they only grow better. After the disastrous Neifi Perez deal, Sabean decided that two years for a washed up shortstop wasn't enough. No, he wanted to make sure that the team was hamstrung for an extra year with this next deal." (Only Baseball Matters)

Transaction Oracle discussion of the Vizquel signing. (Baseball Think Factory)

The Meat Market: Outfielders. "Just like at the midseason trading deadline, teams in need of a centerfielder this offseason are going hot and heavy after Carlos Beltran, with Steve Finley as their fallback plan. The problem, obviously, is that there are only two of those guys to go around, and once they're both off the market teams are going to go to the third spot on their list of free agent centerfielders are find themselves staring straight at Doug Glanville. As a wise man once said, 'That's not going to be good for anybody.'" (The Hardball Times)

The Meat Market: Starting Pitchers. "As usual, there are a ton of available starting pitchers this offseason, although there aren't as many big name free agents as there have been in past years. However, at the very top of the list is Pedro Martinez, a name as big as any around. The problem with Pedro is that teams can't possibly be sure what they'll be getting if they sign him. He is one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history and was as dominant as a starting pitcher could possibly be for quite a long time, but what Pedro accomplished in the past won't help the team that signs him as a free agent." (The Hardball Times)

Center field should take center stage. "The question has been raised how fiscally smart it would be to give Beltran and his agent the contract they presently seek. It’s a good question, and would be an even better one if it was my money instead of Drayton’s that I so freely toss around at times. But whether Beltran is back or not, the one thing he proved this past season with the Astros was the value of true centerfielder who can roam the big pasture and hill out in the middle of the Houston outfield." (Astros Daily)

Point by Point With Scott Boras.
"Being a Red Sox all his life, [Varitek] obviously thinks he's deserving of what every other team in the division does for their organizational players..."

Like the Yankees? Ask Andy Pettitte how that worked out for him. Like the Orioles or D-Rays? Now there are a couple of exemplary franchises. And isn't Toronto about to let the greatest Blue Jay of all time walk? What the hell is an "organizational player" anyway?

"And with the evidence of his leadership, we obviously expect him to be compensated with the premium catchers in the game."

Look. I am sure Jason is a super guy and all, but there is only so much monetary value a prudent ballclub ought to place on being a good guy. Still, Boras' larger point here, that Varitek should be paid with the best catchers in the game, is not off-base. He should. Just not for the next five years.

"We looked at what John Henry did for Charles Johnson with five years and a no-trade clause..."

Um, yeah Scott, and how did that one work out?
(The House That Dewey Built)

Tek-nichalities. "It's that kind of intensity and leadership that makes me want to keep Jason Varitek around even if he hits .250 the rest of his career. I'm just not sure that intensity is worth fifty million over five years, guaranteed. I don't mind him thinking he's worth ten million a year. I'm not convinced he's worth that, but I understand how people, even people other than Varitek and Scott Boras, could come up with that figure. I don't mind him wanting to be here for five more years. It's the combination of the per/year and the length that I find daunting." (Doc Baseball)

Abstracts from the Abstracts. Richard Lederer combs through Bill James's 1985 Baseball Abstract. (Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Clemens wins record seventh Cy Young Award.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Roger Clemens could have ended his career last year in the World Series, just like Sandy Koufax. Now, he might join Koufax as the only defending Cy Young Award winners to call it quits.

As dominant as ever after reversing his decision to retire, the 42-year-old Rocket easily won his record seventh Cy Young on Tuesday -- first in the National League -- after taking the Houston Astros within one win of the World Series.

He received 23 of 32 first-place votes and 140 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, becoming the oldest pitcher to win a Cy Young. Gaylord Perry was 40 when he won in 1978.

Crosby cruises to AL Rookie of the Year, Bay wins NL honor. (Yahoo!)

Varitek's terms could be tough to meet.
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- As much as the Red Sox hope to persuade Jason Varitek to stay in Boston, they face a mighty challenge since Varitek's agent, Scott Boras, said last night the catcher expects to receive a five-year contract with a no-trade clause that compensates him as lucratively as the top catchers in the game.

Varitek's proposal poses several potential problems for the Sox. It would clash with the team's unofficial policy of not granting contracts longer than four years. It also could violate the club's official policy against awarding full no-trade provisions and automatically trigger a no-trade clause for Manny Ramirez for the next four years. And it could require a financial commitment of $50 million or more.
(Boston Globe)

Rivals in Exile: Looking Back. Ben Jacobs and Larry Mahnken on the 2004 Red Sox and Yankees. (The Hardball Times)

The 1960s Dodgers: Two Parts Patience, One Part Creative Insanity.
Earlier, we examined the situations of the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants in the 1960s. Those organizations in that decade presented very different scenarios: the Cardinals parlayed good-but-not-great home-grown talent into a three-time champion through extremely astute trades; the Giants managed just one pennant despite a staggering bounty from the farm system, because of highly questionable choices and ill-conceived trades.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were the other team to finish on top in the National League between 1962 and 1968 - like the Cards, they were a three-time champ in those years - and they demonstrated neither such extreme. But the Dodgers in this period did exhibit sound organizational principles: excellent talent development, prudence and patience in deploying it, and wisdom in trading when the situation called for it.
(The Hardball Times)

Prospectus Triple Play: Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies. "Even if they retain Cormier and one of Lidle or Milton, the Phillies still stand to save a significant amount by getting Millwood’s $11MM off the books. The question is: where do they spend it? As mentioned, the offense is mostly set for next year. Mike Lieberthal, Jim Thome, Jimmy Rollins, David Bell, Burrell and Bobby Abreu will all be back, leaving second base and center field as questions. The two easy answers to those questions are Chase Utley and some combination of Byrd and Jason Michaels." (Baseball Prospectus)

ACES Book Completed. An interview with Mychael Urban, who has written a book on the 2004 journey of the Oakland Big Three, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito.
Blez: Do you think the A's will keep any of the Big Three or do you think Billy Beane is leaning toward rebuilding with younger guys like Rich Harden, Joe Blanton, Brad Knox and Jason Windsor?

MU: Depends on what you mean by "keep." They'll almost certainly have two or three of The Big Three around next year, and Mark and Barry have pretty inexpensive club options for 2006. Beyond that, I'd just be guessing as to what the A's are thinking regarding the rotation. Harden is about to blow up into a star, no doubt, but I'm not sold on any of the other guys as bonafide big-league starters. Blanton got roughed up pretty good at Triple-A at times this year, and if he were as talented at any of The Big Three or Harden, he'd have made it to The Show at 22 or 23 like those guys did. Knox and Windsor are even bigger question marks for the time being. I think they might make a decent rotation by 2007, but they'll never be as special as what we're seeing in Oakland right now.
(Athletics Nation)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Rich’s Weekend Edmonds Beat. "While Carlos Beltran—who may be on the verge of signing a long-term contract for $100 million or more—is now all the rage, Edmonds has actually created more runs above average than his free agent counterpart every year since Carlos broke into the majors in 1998. I recognize that Beltran is seven years younger than Edmonds and arguably a more valuable property, but the truth of the matter is that the Cardinal slugger has been the more valuable player." (Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT)

Clip Show. The top 15 Cardinals games of the year. (Redbird Nation)

Whither Shortstop Part 1 - When Pigs Fly. "We have all witnessed just how much of a drain [Pokey Reese] can be. I have said it before and I will say it again. He looks like an actor playing a Major League Baseball player when he swings the bat. More specifically, he reminds me of Wesley Snipes playing Willie Mays Hayes. Either way, he cannot be Boston’s everyday shortstop." (The House that Dewey Built)

Whither Shortstop Part 2 - The Acceptables. "I like [Jose Valentin], always have. He’s got a good approach at the plate and a considerable amount of pop in his bat. Further, he can field. The .287 OBP is of concern but less so when you look at his previous on-base totals. He has a career .321 on-base and I suspect in Fenway’s cozy confines, he would hoist his on-base back to around his career levels. The pitfall will be Valentin’s asking price. He made $5MM last year and those 30 home runs will probably look better than they should to some GM." (The House that Dewey Built)

Whither Shortstop Part 3 - The Cream of the Crop. "[Orlando] Cabrera turned down a 4-year, $30MM deal from Montreal earlier this season and with his current status as World Champ, you can bet he will be looking for even more. On two levels, it just doesn’t make any sense for the Sox to sign him. First, there is the matter of Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia both very much on pace to be in Boston by 2006. Second, I don’t think Cabrera is worth the money he is undoubtedly going to get on the open market. When there is a good chance you can be getting Cabrera-type production for $320,000.00 in 2006, you don’t commit $35MM to Cabrera in 2004." (The House that Dewey Built)

Monday, November 08, 2004
Maddux wins 14th Gold Glove; three Cardinals honored. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Jeter, Wells win first Gold Gloves. (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Gold cannot be pure, and people cannot be perfect." "Well, before every gets up in arms, let me just say two things. First, yes, Jeter is not the most inspired choice. I would have gone with Tejada or Crosby. However, he isn’t a terrible choice. Jeter was about an average shortstop this year, maybe a little bit better. He would win the most improved category if they had it." (Mike's Baseball Rants)

Braves Journal looks at the future:

Where Do We Go From Here? 2004 (Part I: Free Agents).
Where Do We Go From Here? 2004 (Part II: Arbitration).
Where Do We Go From Here? 2004 (Part III: The Outfield).
Where Do We Go From Here? 2004 (Part IV: Starting Pitchers).
Where Do We Go From Here? 2004 (Part V: The Bench).
Where Do We Go From Here? 2004 (Part VI: Relief Pitchers)

The Meat Market: Catchers. "This year's crop of free agent catchers is not a particularly strong one, especially compared to last year, when Ivan Rodriguez and Javy Lopez both hit the open market. The best of the bunch this time is Jason Varitek, who has been one of baseball's best backstops for years now and is coming off a season in which he hit .296/.390/.482 for the Red Sox. The switch-hitting Varitek batted in the bottom half of Boston's lineup for much of the past few years, but that was mostly due to their offensive depth. On most teams, he would be a legit #3-5 hitter, an all-around offensive threat who hits for solid batting averages with plenty of power, draws walks, and hits well from both sides of the plate." (The Hardball Times)

The Meat Market: First Basemen. "Last offseason was an awful year for free agent first basemen. At 39 years old, Rafael Palmeiro was the biggest name and most desirable player in the bunch, and at the time I generously described the rest of the group as "relatively deep in mediocrity." This year is a totally different story, as there are not only several big names available, there are a few relatively attractive mid-level guys on the market as well." (The Hardball Times)

The Meat Market: Second Basemen. "He doesn't have the name recognition and a place reserved in Cooperstown like Roberto Alomar or huge power numbers and an MVP award like Jeff Kent, but the best available free agent second baseman this offseason is Placido Polanco. Polanco has long been one of the elite defensive infielders in baseball and he's added some impressive hitting to his resume since being traded to the Phillies for Scott Rolen in the middle of the 2002 season." (The Hardball Times)

The Meat Market: Shortstops. "A five-time All-Star and possible future Hall of Famer, Garciaparra is definitely the biggest available name. However, a lot of his stardom and reputation was cemented years ago, and he has since established a much lower (though still very good) level of performance. Whether it is the cause of Garciaparra's dropoff or not, the change can be traced back to the 2001 season, when he missed 141 games with a wrist injury. Before then, he was a .333/.382/.573 career hitter and in the two seasons directly preceding the injury, he hit .365/.426/.601. Those are incredible, jaw-dropping offensive numbers for a shortstop, but unfortunately he hasn't been able to approach them since." (The Hardball Times)

The Meat Market: Third Basemen. "The list of this offseason's free agent third basemen doesn't run nearly as deep as the shortstop crop, but there is a lot of star power available at the hot corner Tennis. While centerfielder Carlos Beltran gets most of the headlines leading into free agency, the most desirable free agent might just be third baseman Adrian Beltre, particularly if Beltran's amazing October upped his price tag as much as some suspect (the fact that his agent, Scott Boras, says he wants a 10-year contract might play a factor too)." (The Hardball Times)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Red Sox's pregame ritual: Jack Daniel's.
"It was one of those group team things, like shaving our heads last year," [Kevin] Millar told Fox. "What we had was one small Gatorade cup, with a little Jack Daniel's in it. We passed it around and everyone symbolically drank out of the same cup, because we are a team. It wasn't as if guys were drunk. Can you imagine Trot Nixon or Jason Varitek or Mike Timlin actually sipping alcohol before a game? No way."

Lowe, Varitek among free agent filers. Other Red Sox: Cabrera, Mirabelli, Leskanic, Mendoza, Williamson, Myers, McCarty and Reese. Other notables: Matt Morris, Eric Milton, Jeff Kent and Richie Sexson. (MSNBC)

Potential free agents. A list of the 217 eligible players. (

Abstracts from the Abstracts. Richard Lederer combs through Bill James's 1984 Baseball Abstract. (Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT)

Monday, November 01, 2004
Red Sox leaders back Kerry in a triple-play appearance. Theo Epstein: "It's only been four years, but it sure feels like 86." (Boston Globe)

The Yankees: Wha’appen? Part One. (

The Yankees: Wha’appen? Part Two. (

Postseason Post-Mortem.
We’re narrative creatures, and as a species we tend to look for turning points, plot twists, smoking guns – even, sometimes, when they’re not really there. Cardinal fans will no doubt look back on the Suppan Surprise or the called strike on Edmonds and say that was the difference-maker. That's why we lost! John Kruk went so far as to say the whole series turned in the third inning of Game 1, when Orlando Cabrera threw that high elbow at Tony Womack. Never mind that the Cardinals outscored the Sox for the rest of the game, in Kruk’s mind that one action had the Cards so scared that they went down like lambs in four straight. But this kindergarten fable ignores all the big “macro” ways in which the Red Sox won.

I guess what I’m trying to say, then, is that the Sox weren’t cursed these past 86 years so much as they didn’t deserve to win. There were really only three years in that stretch – 1946, 1978, and 2003 – where I think you could make a plausible case that the Red Sox were the best team in baseball, and even in those years I think the better team won (not much better, but better all the same). But this year the Sox were the best team in baseball. They earned their win. They weren’t the beneficiary of some lifted curse.
(Redbird Nation)

Internet Baseball Awards. 2004 American League winners. (Baseball Prospectus)

Internet Baseball Awards. 2004 National League winners. (Baseball Prospectus)

The Beltran Sweepstakes: A Contenders Guide - NL Central Edition. "It seems strange to be able to legitimately write about the Cubs as potential suitors for the most sought after free agent on the market, the Tribune company being notorious for their pretension to penury, but indeed, the Cuddle Bears will be big players in this drama. Jim Hendry is on the warpath after the Cubs' late season collapse and whine-filled season, and he appears to have set his sights on Beltran to cure what ails him." (The Big Red C)

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