Tuesday, November 25

The Sox Sign Their Biggest Free Agent: Heidi Watney

...and by biggest I mean most talented...and by most talented I mean....yeah, you get it....Heidi Watney has been signed to a multi year contract extension by NESN. NESN was beginning to treat their sideline ladies like Red Sox shortstops, however, the first runner up in the 2002 Miss California pageant will be gracing our collective TV screens here in New England for some time to come:

“Heidi is a talented reporter whose versatility and work ethic help her deliver the news and stories that consistently connect the fans with the team,” said Joel Feld, NESN’s executive vice president of programming and executive producer. “We are very happy to extend her contract and expect her to take on an even larger role with NESN and NESN.com."

Whether the Sox sign Texiera or not over the next few months, this off-season is now officially a success in my book (kidding....of course.....well, kinda).

Go Sox.

Wednesday, November 19

Coco on his way to Kansas City...

Red Sox centerfielder Coco Crisp has been traded to the Kansas City Royals for relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez according to MLB sources. Everyone assumed the emergence of Jacoby Ellsbury meant the Sox would trade Crisp by the trade deadline this past season, thankfully that did not happen as Crisp played a vital role this season. When Ellsbury failed to live up to the hype Crisp was there to play, and he eventually took the starting job in the ALCS.

So what are the Sox getting in return? Ramirez is 27 years old and throws in the low 90's with a lights out curve and a good splitter. Last year with the Royals his era was 2.64 and he struck out 70 in 71.2 innings and only allowed two home runs the entire season, holding right handed hitters to a .153 average.

The question has been posed are the Sox looking to move Justin Masterson back into the starting rotation, or is Hernandez taking Mike Timlin's place who presumably is retiring. I think it's too early to say either way, but I do like this trade.

Lastly I'll say that Coco Crisp could have sat on the bench and complained all season about how he wasn't getting respect, but he did not. Coco showed a lot of class and respect for Francona and the organization by accepting his role as 4th outfielder never making playing time an issue.

Overall Crisp never turned into the lead off hitter the Sox thought they were getting from Cleveland, but I wish him well in Kansas City nonetheless, he was a class act.

ITM notes:

Unnamed sources, always the best kind, say that the Red Sox are in the race for former Blue Jay pitcher AJ Burnett. Of course no specifics about what kind of deal is actually on the table, the Yankees were reportedly offering 4 years $100 million.

Burnett definitely has the talent to be a good pitcher, however he's always had health issues and has only made more then 30 starts twice in his career, both contract years I believe.

Tuesday, November 18

Pedroia Stands Tall....Wins AL MVP

Growing up, there was always one crazy Italian mason who would tell us "you gotta look out for the little guys, they'll fight ya until the end"...Turns out, he was right. If you would have told anyone....anyone....two years ago that Dustin Pedroia would be the AL Rookie of the Year in his first year, and follow it by earning the MVP, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger awards in his sophomore season....they would have made a joke about his height and then questioned your sanity. Dustin Pedroia is standing about 7 feet tall this afternoon.

Pedroia was named the American League Most Valuable Player at 2pm today, making him the first Red Sox player to earn the honor since Mo Vaughn in 1995 (ITM note...I still can't believe the Hit Dog's career effectively ended when he feel down the dugout stairs). It is the 10th MVP award granted to a member of the Red Sox. Justin Morneau finished second, and Pedroia's teammate, Kevin Youkilis, finished third. Here is the point breakdown:

-Pedroia: 317 points (16 first place votes)

-Morneau: 251 points (7 first place votes)

-Youkilis: 201 points (2 first place votes)

In my opinion, what won this award for Pedroia was his five-game period as the "little guy" batting cleanup...the jokes were flying around every media outlet... and all Petey did was go 12 for 18 (.667) with four doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs, and six runs scored....not to mention how significant those late season games were to a team trying to nail down a playoff spot.

Pedroia was named on 27 of the 28 American League MVP ballots. The one writer to leave Dustin off? Evan Grant, of the Dallas Morning News. Either this clown is a complete dumb ass or he has some kind of problem with people under 5'7" (I know Pedroia is listed at 5'9", 180 lbs...but we all know that is crap and more of a joke than anything). Grant's ballot included 10 players...not one of them being Pedroia....boy does he feel stupid right now. He should have his voting rights revoked.

Perhaps even more surprising than all of the above...Pedroia is taking home a salary of only $457,000 this year for his MVP numbers....including no contract bonus for winning the award (Youk takes home 25K for placing third)......something tells me the Sox will giving Petey whatever he wants to lock him up for a long time.

More on Pedroia, the Sox and the hot stove as they develop here on ITM.....

Thursday, November 13

Firing Up the Hot Stove

At the stroke of midnight tonight baseball's free agency begins, grab on to something because this will be an active off season. Players like CC Sabathia, Mark Texeria, Ben Sheets, Derek Lowe, AJ Burnett, and Jason Varitek are some of the bigger names available this off season.

I wouldn't expect any big name to be signed tomorrow, but I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again. Baseball agents tend to let the market establish itself in the off season before signing, clubs do the same.

We've already seen the first of many Scott Boras related stories, including one written write here on ITM. Look for him to be in the spot light as he represents just about every free agent there is, including Sox catcher Jason Varitek.

So what are the Red Sox plans for the off season? I think it starts behind home plate. I think they resign Jason Varitek, there is no way they give him the 4 year 52 million dollar contract Boras wants, but I think he comes back. I don't really have a problem with the Sox over paying for players because lets face it, they can afford it, but the length of Tek's potential contract could be a point of contention for both sides.

There's also been a lot of rumblings about the Sox talking to the Rangers about one of there three catchers, Gerald Laird, and youngsters Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Talyor Teagarden. Ideally I would like the Sox to sign Tek and trade for a Saltalmacchia or Teagarden, both of those names are fun to say and I would definitely buy their t-shirt jersey. However to get one of those guys the Sox would have to wave goodbye to Buchholz or Michael Bowden. But that's why you have prospects to improve your team and I think the Sox need a catcher of the future. Perhaps bringing him in now allows him to learn a thing or two (though not hitting) from Tek.

Mark Teixeria is priority 1A or 1B this off season, and its not all about the Yankees getting him, its more the Sox could really use him. Teixeria is 28 and absolutely rakes the ball, plays gold glove first base, and if signed here will have enough money to buy every fan a Fenway Frank this year. If the Sox do land Teixeria expect Youk to move back to third and Lowell to be dealt somewhere. Scott Boras also represents Teixeria so I wouldn't think he signs for a few weeks as the Yanks and Sox get in a bidding war.

Derek Lowe isn't coming back to Boston, I'm sorry he 36, loves the sauce and will probably get 15 million/year somewhere else. He wouldn't be a bad 4th or 5th option but I just can't see it. What I can see is the revival of the Derek Lowe face on center stage if he comes back. Since the Dlowe has left the sox culture has definitely changed, I don't need the Derek Lowe face coming back and keeping me up at night. Pro to Lowe coming back, I live near the city now and could possibly run into him and have a beer, or 19, with him.

The Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994 and that was the year of the strike (greedy bastards), they are going to spend US Govt bail out type of money, and like the bail out they will light plenty of it on fire and watch it burn. The Yanks will be going after Teixeria, Sabbathia, AJ Burnett, and Roger Clemens. Ok probably not Clemens but that would be funny.

Today the Yanks traded for Pedro Gomez's 2008 preseason MVP Nick Swisher...

The Angels have seemed to have cut ties with Krod, he's going to get PAID. He'll end up in with the Mets, that's your Tim Murphy Stone Cold Locke Lead Pipe Keystone Light A1 prediction, mark it zero, next frame.

And then there's a former Sox Slugger Manny Ramirez, yeah he's okay. Manny, also represented by Boras, is reportedly looking for a 6 year deal worth 25 million dollars per year. I would like to point out that 5 minutes after signing a deal like that Manny will never run out a ground ball again. Instead I imagine he'll tag in the bat boy and he'll run the bases for him, that's just Manny being Manny I guess.

The Dodgers seem serious about getting Manny back, however a 2 year deal is on the table with an option for the third. I don't see anyone giving Manny 4 years guaranteed...except the Yankees. Why because they're stupid rich, a dangerous combination. If the Yankees don't get Teixeria I think they sign Manny. I say let them, he'll probably bat 1100 against the Sox in 2009 but the potential for comedy with Manny and Hank Steinbrenner is off the charts.

Yes ITM is back, congrats to the Phillies for winning the World Series. Tampa fans can now go back to Disney World and playing bridge, whatever they did before the playoffs started.
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