---Gotta start with the Sox big move of the week. Adam LaRoche. (For a good snapshot of how crazy eccentric baseball used to be, before the corporate/statistical complex took over, check out the wikipedia entry on LaRoche's dad, Dave.) I've been mulling this one over for a couple days now, and I have to say, I don't like it. Maybe I'll eat those words in a few months, but for the time being, I just can't help it. He's a talent, no doubt, but my general impression over his career has been this: he's the infield JD Drew. Pretty swing, lots of potential, lack of passion, ill suited to the spotlight. I could be wrong, but that's what I've gleamed following him vaguely from afar. I know I know about all this 'he lights it up in the second half' stuff, but that implies, if anything, that he hits a stride after a good deal of at-bats. At-bats that he's not going to get playing spot infield. If he's a late bloomer, then he might not bloom at all platooning. And defensively, the Sox are now less diverse. For the next month, the Sox have, essentially, two backups in the infield and one in the outfield. That outfielder? Rocco Baldelli. All that stands between the Sox and a minor league starter is JD Drew and Rocco Baldelli. Read again. Kotsay, while not a great outfielder, could do the job when needed. LaRoche will not. The rest of the comparisons between them don't do much to distinguish, in my opinion. I just don't like the move. Smells of desperation to me. But please, tell me I'm wrong.
---Sounds like Victor Martinez talks are heating up. Sox have reportedly drawn a hard line on Buchholz. But they're listening as the Indians propose various packages comprised of some combination of Bard, Tazawa, Bowden, and Casey Kelley. Here's my fear: the Yankees want Cliff Lee bad. Local reporters here in NYC have written about it everyday this week. Word is Yankees balked at the price, which was going to involve at least one of their two (already big league contributing) studs, Phil Hughes or Joba, plus their top minor league arms. The Indians want pitching. They're hanging onto Cliff Lee because he's an ace and he's cheap. But, if they could fleece the Sox for three top pitching prospects, it seems entirely possible that the Indians would start listening to Yankees trades that involved position player prospects, assets that the Yankees are less reluctant to give up. That is to say, if the Sox give into the Indians demands on Victor Martinez, it's entirely possible that makes Cliff Lee to the Yankees much, much more likely to happen. I really don't want to see that.
---The Sox have also inquired after Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres. (Caveat - since LaRoche, you'd have to think this or the Victor Martinez move are far less likely, but it doesn't sound, from the chatter, like the Sox are easing up at all. This 2-5 skid has put a good scare in them.) Frankly, I liked this move better. Gonzalez seems to me to fit the Sox mold better. His average is down this year, but his OBP and SLG are up. And he's three years younger than Martinez. And reportedly, the Padres weren't just looking for pitching. They would have taken fewer arms in exchange for Lars Anderson's inclusion. I may be the only one in Boston, but honestly, I could care less if Anderson got away in a solid trade. Too bad the Indians aren't interested there.
---My favorite Sox rumor of the week: For a brief, glimmering moment, there was word that the Sox might be after Marco Scutaro. Oh what might have been. The Venezuelan Kevin Youkilis. And what a name.
---Sounds like Halladay is headed to the Phillies, possibly today. The big question is just whether the Phillies are going to let Kyle Drabek go. My guess is they do, despite their claims that he was 'untouchable', but reports today suggest the deal might get done with only J.A. Happ (righty) plus a top position prospect. I have to say, if this deal happens, the Phillies are going to be a scary force in the playoffs.
---I have absolutely nothing to say about Matt Holliday to the Cardinals, except to point out I really think we should all just agree that the guy is just another Colorado bust, and that D Vicino loved him. Loved him. Wanted him for the Sox bad. Sorry, I just had to point that out.
---Preemptive response to D Vicino's opposition: Yes, I know I picked the Oakland A's to win the AL West. I know, all right. But at least I let myself get seduced by the promise of youth rather than just altitude and thin air. Chump.
More from ITM as the weekend goes on. The MLB and even the AL East could look an awful lot different in the cold unforgiving light of Sunday morning.