November 2009

WHAT IN THE DICKENS…

I went to Trinity Rep in Providence the other day and saw their version of the Christmas Carol.  Very good, indeed.  At times, believe it or not,I’ve been compared to old Ebenezer, himself. (I can resent it, but I guess I can’t deny it.)  It got me thinking about the ghosts of baseball past, present and future.  As far as the past goes, it’s kind of nice to not have to sit around and wonder if Jim Rice is going to make it into the Hall of Fame this time.  Jim Ed got his just desserts last year and was enshrined this summer.  This year, there are some guys that should get in, that will and probably a couple that will have to sweat it out for at least another year.  Andre Dawson has to get in.  Right?  This years’ “Jim Rice” got 67% of the vote in 2009 and has to get 75% for enshrinement.  Bert Blyleven, who I really admire not only for his legendary curve ball, but also for his willingness to speak out about not getting in got about 63% this year and he too, should get his ticket stamped.  Guys like Jack Morris, Dale Murphy and Dave Parker remain on the ballot, too.  “Newbies” like Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin are on the ballot for the first time and should receive ample consideration. (Never was a big fan of Alomar after he spit in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck).  I guess I’ve had to re-think  what a “great” player is.  As a kid I read about Ruth, Mays, Williams and Gehrig.  That was the standard.  I’m sure I romanticized these guys ajnd they had their flaws just like the men eligible today.  As I’ve written before in this space, let’s not forget Luis Tiant.  None other than Peter Gammons himself, the conscience of baseball, told me that El Tiante was the greatest player not in the Hall.  So the guys will sweat it out between now and January 6, 2010 when the announcement is made.  The debate will rage on in baseball-loving cities and towns across America until then, and long after.  On to the ghost of baseball present.  I guess I’ll tie in present and future as the Hot Stove continues to heat up.  This involves the potential deal we’ve been hearing about that would send Clay Buchholz and Casey Kelly to Toronto for Roy Halladay.  Short term, I love it.  Imagine a rotation that features Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield and oh yeah, Halladay.  Halladay will turn 33 in May and the 6 time All-Star is coming off a 17 win season for a lousy team.  The former Cy Young winner is a horse.  A big, hard-throwing right handed pitcher that would give Boston the best rotation in baseball.  If we are living for today, make the deal.  Obviously Clay Buchholz’ best baseball is still ahead of him and I truly believe there will be a lot of it.  This being said, the Sox have proven their willingness to fill needs via free agency and trades.  There are clearly other needs to be met, (shortstop, outfield, hitting) but if you can get a “Doc” Halladay, let’s do it.  Casey Kelly enjoyed a successful first full professional season, but it is too early to worry about what he might become.  I am a Clay Buchholz fan both personally and professionally.  Let me make that clear.  If the Sox can supplant the “Evil Empire” in 2010, it would be worth it.  This all came to me when I was visited by ghosts last night.  Maybe it was the chili I ate just before bed??!!  Anyway, as my pal “Puny Pete” or is it “Tiny Tim” might say- “God Bless us all, everyone”. (Except the Yankees, of course.) 

HAZEN HAS HIGH PRAISE FOR RJ

The Red Sox obviously think a lot of Ron Johnson.  Late last week, manager Terry Francona named RJ to his staff as a first base coach for the Sox.   The Director of Player Development for Boston is Mike Hazen.  In that capacity, Hazen dealt with Johnson on a daily basis and knows him quite well.  He saw the way RJ handled the young prospects and dealt with the microscope that all Red Sox field personnel deal with.  There’s no doubt in Hazens’ mind why Johnson was selected to take a vacancy created when Brad Mills went to Houston.  “This was a very well-deserved promotion.  Ron Johnson is a tireless worker and is extremely loyal.”  Hazen continued- “You won’t find a more genuine human being than RJ.  That quality endears him to his players and staff.  As a result, his teams will always play hard for him.  The guys like him.  They know that it’s never about RJ.  It’s about the players.  He has earned everyones’ respect.”  With Johnson heading 45 miles north to Fenway, the Red Sox have some big Cowboy Boots to fill.  Tito Francona made certain that he promoted from within when Johnson got the call.  I asked Hazen if the Sox would follow suit in replacing RJ in Pawtucket.  “We always like to hire from within, but we will explore every option both inside and outside the organization.”  Hazen added that it could take a few weeks to name a successor.  “This is an extremely important decision for us.  We’ll take some time and explore the options thoroughly.  We’re not in any hurry, we just want to make the right choice.”  Hazen isn’t sure who’ll occupy the office in the McCoy Stadium clubhouse, and if he has any idea about the men who’ll play for the new skipper, he was holding his cards close to his vest.  “We are currently working on signing guys we think could help the organization in 2010.  We are engaged in conversation with a lot of players.  At this time, nothing is a done deal, so I don’t have any names for you.”  Hazen has been with the Red Sox since February of 2006.  Prior to that, the former All-Ivy League outfielder spent 5 years in the front ioffice for The Indians.  Hazen played in the San Diego minor league system for two years. 

 

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My guess and it’s only a guess- is that former Major Leaguer Gary DiSarcina could replace RJ as manager of the PawSox.  DiSarcina is currently the manager of the Lowell Spinners.  DiSarcina is a Massachusetts guy.  Born in Malden raised in Billerica, he attended UMass.  The former All Star for the Angels once wore the #33 as a tribute to his hero, Celtics legend, Larry Bird.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!!  Eat a lot! 

GONNA MISS YOU, BIG BOY

I got a phone call Friday night from a good friend.  It was Ron Johnson.  The man who has managed the PawSox since the start of the 2005 season.  I had speculated in this blog that RJ might be the man to replace Brad Mills on Terry Franconas’ staff.  Mills is off to manage the Astros.  After extensive talks with Tito and general manager Theo Epstein, RJ got the call earlier Friday.  He will become a coach on the major league staff.  His exact position has yet to be determined, but the Sox get a guy with ample experience and an incredible working knowledge of the current 40 man roster.  “Of the current group, I’ve managed 28 of the 40, including guys like Youk (Kevin Youkilis), Pedey (Dustin Pedroia) Jake (Jacoby Ellsbury) and Lester (Jon Lester).  Johnson has been managing for 18 years, the last ten in the Red Sox chain and is understandably thrilled that he’s been chosen.  “Hydes, this is unbelievable.  They had me fly up to Boston and we went through a five hour interview.  You know what it’s like.  You try to do a good job.  The fact that it’s with Boston and Terry Francona makes it that much more special.”  RJ didn’t waste any time fueling the fire and fanning the flames of the rivalry with the Yankees.  Kevin Long is the Yanks’ hitting instructor and a former player for RJ.  With his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, Johnson called his old friend - “I told him that they should enjoy this year, because there’s no way theyd be repeating.”   Long asked me why. I told him I was now on the Big League staff.  There’s nothing Ron Johnson loves more than his family and his ranch in Tennesee, but he is already chomping at the bit to get back, days before he carves the Thanksgiving turkey,  “I wish Spring Training would start next week.  I’m very excited, it’s very satisfying after being in the minors so long.”  Buddy Bailey was the man who preceded RJ in the hot seat in Pawtucket.  Bailey was extermely good to me in my first season (2004) with the PawSox.  I was devastated when he was fired on the last day of the season.  A few months later, I met Ron Johnson.  From day one, we hit it off.  The respect he showed me and the friendship he afforded me will be nearly impossible to replace.  The PawSox staff will have a decidedly different look in 2010.  Hitting instructor Russ Morman was fired at the end of the season and RJ and trainer Greg Barajas have earned promotions to Boston, leaving pitching coach Rich Sauveur as the final holdover from the group.  I really could sit here all day and wax on about the skipper, but I don’t need to anymore.  The Red Sox have rewarded his efforts with a well-deserved locker in the Fenway clubjhouse.

 

EVERY MAN HAS HIS PRICE

Davey Johnson had it made.  The former All Star second baseman and World Champion manager was living the high life.  Playing some golf, managing Team USA and basically, having a well-deserved good time.  I had the pleasure of watching Game One of the recently completed World Series with Davey and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt at a bar in Portsmouth, RI.  I had asked Johnson if he had a yen to get back into the game.  He was adamant.  No way, no how!  He was dabbling in real estate, teeing it up and loving life.  It looks lke he’s sacrificed all that for a trip into baseball torture.  He was introduced this week as the senior baseball adviser for the Washington Nationals.  The most incompetent, futile, “who cares?” organization in all of sports.  Quick, name three members of the Nats.  Can’t?   Don’t feel badly, no one can.  Resting their hopes on number one pick Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals are also relying on some of that Davey Johnson “magic” to help the struggling franchise.  The Nationals had to open their purse for Strasburg, the hard-throwing righthander and apparently had enough left over for Johnson.  Already, the hyperbole is flowing as Johnson claimed the San Diego State product was “a little more advanced at this stage than Dwight Gooden was.”  I really like Johnson and I wish him well.  It gives the Nationals some personality in their front office and a small, very small reason to care about Washington. 

 

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The George Kottaras “era” is over in Boston.  The Canadian-born catcher was released this week by the Red Sox.  Almost immediately, the Brewers picked up Kottaras off waivers.  George came over to the Sox in the trade for David Wells a couple of years ago.  In 2008, he platooned with Dusty Brown in Pawtucket and had a great year.  In 2009, he served as Jason Variteks’ backup until Boston dealt for Victor Martinez.  As I predicted earlier in this blog, the signing of Varitek to a deal spelled the end for George in Boston.  Kottaras has improved greatly in the last few seasons.  With Milwaukee, he has a chance to make the Brewers roster.  Jason Kendall (.241, 2, 43) will be 34 on opening day.  He caught 134 games in 2009 and is the incumbent.  33 year old Mike Rivera was the backup (.228, 2, 14).  As manager Ron Johnson pointed out many times, Kottaras has a “pop” in his bat that a lot of other guys don’t have.  The release of Kottaras (he was out of minor league options) will likely mean that Mark Wagner and Dusty Brown will share duties in Pawtucket in 2010.  I wish George all the best.  He’s a cool guy. 

 

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Good news if you’re looking for a place to live.  Curt Schilling has dropped the price of his 11,000 square foot, 7 bedroom home in Medfield, Mass.  Originally on the market for 8 million, it has dropped to 5 million and now to 4.5 million, the same price he paid Drew Bledsoe in 2004.   Such a deal!!

 

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One last thought that has absolutely nothing to do with baseball.  Has there ever been a bigger political “lightweight” than Sarah Palin?  Check out this weeks’ cover of Newsweek.  I’ve only been to Alaska once, but I’m quite sure they’re  better off without her.  

 

PERCEPTION IS REALITY

That may be one of the most over-used cliches in the world today (along with “it is what it is”) but it amuses me how different sides will spin things to get you on their side.  I read on the Red Sox website, an article about their ticket prices for 2010.  “Many Sox tickets to stay at ’09 prices.”  Meanwhile in the “Boston Herald”- basically the same information, but the title blurted out “Fans hit Sox for hiking ticket prices.”  We are already well aware of the cost of a day at Fenway.  It is really unattainable to a lot of folks these days.  If you can get tickets, can you afford them?  The tickets are snapped up by season ticket holders and companies that re-sell them.  While the Sox boast that their most expensive ticket is only  $328, we all know that you will likely spend much more to get to the park on any given day.  The upper bleacher seats are the cheapest at Fenway and they sell for $12.  More expensive than the best seat in the house at McCoy.  When fans lamented about their team spending too much money on free agents, I used to think “So what, let ‘em spend..it doesn’t affect me.”  Well now it has.  The payroll is so out of control that the price of tickets continues to rise in the worst economy in recent memory.  I understand economics and why things happen the way they do.  I think it benefitted the PawSox in 2009 and should again in ’10.  Despite the poor weather, a slumping club and a slumping economy, more than 600,000 fans clicked the turnstiles at McCoy.  All this being said, it’s tough to argue with the success the Red Sox have enjoyed at the gate.  They’ve got a sellout streak of 550 games, dating back to May of 2003.  At some point, there has to be a limit.  I wonder just how close we are to reaching it.  Unlike a lot of clubs, the Sox have a genuine interest in winning.  They consistently go out and fill needs and constantly try to make the team better.

 

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Congratulations to Clay Buchholz.  Buch was slated to tie the knot this past weekend with “Deal or No Deal” model, Lindsay Clubine.   Lindsay was present on several PawSox road trips in 2009 and is about as nice a gal as you’d ever want to meet.  It has been a good year for the young Texan.  He has established hmself as force to be reckoned with in the American League and has a beautiful bride to boot.

 

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Nothing to do with baseball, but boy oh boy, how about the “onions” on Bill Belichick?  I can see him taking the gamble on fourth down against the Colts.  His team, his call.  But how about being man enough to admit you were wrong when it didn’t work.  EVERYONE in the world knows it.  If you say you made the right choice, do you think the fans are gullible enough to believe it?  Perhaps we need to put Coach Bill in the Phil Jackson category.  Maybe he won those titles because of the athletes he had playing for him.  Maybe he’s not really a genius.

 

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Sometimes during the season, I throw in a movie review or restaurant selection.  Two movies I really enjoyed recently.  “Law Abiding Citizen” with Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx and “2012″, starring John Cusack. In the latter Woody Harrelson plays a tremendous part in the movie.  I never in a million years would’ve picked him if you told me one member of the cast of “Cheers” would become a major motion picture star.  Both movies feature somewhat implausible plots, yet are extremely entertaining.  Next on my list to see is “The Blind Side”, starring Sandra Bullock.  It’s based on the real-life story of Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman, Michael Oher 

NOT A BIG FAN OF THE “KING”

Now that baseball has hit a slow spot, we are hammered over the head by the NBA and its’  incessant marketing of Lebron James.  I’ve told you before in this space why I am not a fan of James. (He wears a Yankees hat and he is a lousy sport)  He is not educated and I think it shows.  The other night after a game against the Miami Heat, James told an interviewer that he was thinking about not wearing the number 23 anymore as a tribute to Michael Jordan.  A nice sentiment, perhaps, but not very well thought out.  Several years ago, Major League Baseball retired the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.  It has been well-documented what type of man Robinson was and the sociological impact he had on this country.  As a result, that number will never be worn again by Big Leaguers (after Mariano Rivera retires).  This gesture by James gets me on many levels.  First,  Jordan was no pioneer.  He entered the NBA in the mid 80′s after Larry Bird and Magic Johnson had rekindled interest in basketball.  Jordan, although a prolific scorer, is not the leading scorer in league history.  That honor is held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 with Karl Malone second at 36,978.)  Jordan is third, 6095 points behind Jabbar.  Jordan was nowhere near being the first African-American in the league.  Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton signed a contract with the Knicks and Earl Lloyd played for Boston in 1950.  I think the thing that irks me most about James and his lack of knowledge when it comes to the history of the NBA, is the number that he says he wil wear starting next season.  He wants to wear the number 6.  Think about the irony of this.  James wants to wear the number worn by arguably the greatest winner in the history of team sports.  A man who won two national championships at the University of San Francisco, a gold medal as a member of the United States Olympic team in 1956 and then went on to win 11 NBA titles in 13 years with the Celtics.  Bill Russell.  Russell was a 5 time MVP, a 12 time All-Star and really the first African-American to achieve superstar status in the NBA.  Is this really anything more than one Nike guy pimping another?  Don’t get me wrong.  Jordan was incredible.  I actually paid money to see him play (a big thing for a guy in the media).  I certainly don’t blame Jordan because he was adored by a generation of kids who wanted to “Be Like Mike” .  All I’m saying is- do your homework.  A lot of kids look up to a guy like Lebron.  His shameful display after being eliminated in the playoffs by Orlando last year is still fresh in my mind.  He was more scarce than hair on Kevin Garnetts’ head when it was time to shake hands and congratulate the Magic.  My greatest wish for Lebron James is that he takes the title of “best player to have never won a championship” away from Charles Barkley.  Baseball clearly got it right when they honored Robinson.  They say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.  Keep on truckin’ Lebron.

 

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I wanted to take a moment and respond to Carlos who asked  who I thought might be impact players in Pawtucket in 2010.  My “Picks to Click” are #1 Mark Wagner.  With some AAA time under his belt, Wags has all the tools to be successful in 2010.  I like his defense, his ability to throw out runners and I think there will be more pop in his bat.  #2 Michael Bowden.  This young righthander has spent a season plus in Pawtucket and just turned 23.  His poise and work ethic are unparalleled.  #3 Jeff Natale.  Nat is my “sleeper”.  He is spending the offseason working on his conditioning and has already dropped 15 pounds.  Natale is determined to show the Red Sox he is a viable Major Leaguer.  The guy can flat-out hit.

WHO CAN BLAME THEM ?

As the general managers meetings wrap up this week, bits and pieces of informaton trickle through as they set the stage for the upcoming Winter meetings.  This year they hold the gathering in Indianapolis (a far cry from last year, Las Vegas).  Anyway, I digress.  The GMs, on the surface, didn’t get a whole lot done but you have to think that feelers were put out and there will soon be some action.  On my “Santa” list- 1. Roy Halladay  2. Jason Bay  3. Adrian Gonzalez 4.  Matt Holliday (if I don’t get #2).  We did learn what members of the 2009 team will be back and which won’t.  Victor Martinez, Tim Wakefield and now Jason Varitek will all be in the fold in 2010.  Varitek and his greatly diminished skills will serve as a back-up to Martinez.  Not good news for the likes of George Kottaras, Dusty Brown or Mark Wagner.  Tek took the 3 million dollar option to remain a Red Sox captain.  Think about it.  3 million dollars to catch once or twice a week.  He will no doubt, continue to tutor the pitchers and anyone smart enough to listen.  His preparation is legendary, both physically and mentally.  Where else can you make three mill to hang out with your buddies, take some batting practice and sign some autographs?  Let me know where I can enlist.  To be fair, he has earned it.  A two-time World Series champ, a gold glove, an All Star and the long-time “C” on his chest.  Varitek has the respect of teammates and opponents.  And I know I mentioned it before, but 3 million to catch a couple of games a week.   Nice work if you can get it.  Now I don’t think the Sox look at him as a charity case.  Not by any means.  They have proven (a la New England Patriots and their “Belichick-ian” style) that there is absolutely no room for sentiment.  This is a business.  Obviously the Red Sox feel that there is some value in bringing him back for another year.  I think it’s a good move.  You know exactly what you’re getting.  The pitchers trust him.  He is still solid defensively (the arm notwithstanding) and he has occasional power still.  A very very solid (and a little expensive) reserve.  Tek had to swallow his pride last year when he turned down ten million to go to arbitration and wound up making 5 million for the season.,  He is already used to being paid at or near this level (poor guy!)  As I mentioned, the young catchers in the organization suffer and it postpones the inevitable passing of the baton to the man I am certain will be the next captain of the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia.  Other things will start happening and they will start soon.  After all it is exactly two weeks before Thanksgiving.  Anybody know where Theo Epstein is eating this year? 

THE WHEELS OF CHANGE ARE TURNING

They’ve hardly finished sweeping up the confetti in the Canyon of Heroes (they should have dropped some of it in bales on the Yankees) and things are happening.  There really isn’t much of an offseason anymore.  The Red Sox have picked up the option on catcher Victor Martinez.  That was a no-brainer.  Martinez will be the every day catcher for Boston, putting an end to the Varitek era.  Jason could use his player option to remain in Boston as a back up to Martinez.  Tek would still command a 3 million dollar salary. (unbelievable money everywhere but in baseball!)  We’ve always heard about what a leader and example he is, so it shouldn’t be a problem if he and his agent Scott Boras decide to remain in Boston.  Those moves didn’t surprise me.  Signing Tim Wakefield for two years did.  The 43 year old knuckleballer is coming off back surgery and is recuperating in Florida.  If he returns healthy, he could make 10 million over the life of the deal.  It is reportedly worth 3.5 in ’10 and another 1.5 in’11.  With incentives for starts and innings pitched, it could double.  Wake is also just 13 wins shy of surpassing Cy Young and Roger Clemens as the winningest pitcher in Red Sox history.  If he can regain the All-Star form of the first half of 2009, 25 wins, and 200 for his career are attainable.  Boston declined to pick up the option on Alex Gonzalez.  That surprised me, given the lack of depth at shortstop in the organization.  Jed Lowrie is a question mark after battling wrist problems all year.  If he’s healthy, he could produce.  Gonzalez cemented the infield defense down the stretch and added some bonus offense, hitting .284 with 5 home runs.  There is always a chance that Theo could bring him back for less money.  Nick Green and Joey Gathright both turned down assignments to Pawtucket and elected free agency.   Green recently had disc surgery and should be OK by the Spring.  He feels he could catch on as a utility guy with someone.  Boston has exclusive negotiating rights with Jason Bay until November 20.  After that, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.  It looks like he will test the waters, and who can blame him?  After all, the Red Sox only offered him 15 million a year for the next 4 seasons.

 

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Congratulations to long-time PawSox trainer, Greg Barajas.  Barajas, the 2007 I.L. Trainer of the Year was named to the Major League training staff.   Greg will serve as assistant to newly anointed head trainer Mike Reinold.  Reinold was promoted when the Sox let Paul Lessard go.  Barajas has earned the bump through the spectacular work he has done in Pawtucket over the last 5 seasons.  The life of a minor league trainer isn’t the easiest.  Aside from tending to the health and well-being of the Sox’ prospects, Greg handles logistics on the road, serves as a sounding board for manager Ron Johnson and also acts as a part-time psychologist and babysitter.  Anyway, whoever replaces Greg at McCoy has very big shoes to fill. 

GOOD LUCK HUNTER

It is inevitable in baseball.  Trades are a part of the game.  This week the Red Sox dealt lefty Hunter Jones to the Marlins for outfielder Jeremy Hermida.  I hope the trade works out for both clubs.  I espeially root for Jones, the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida native.  He spent parts of the last couple of seasons with the PawSox.  Jones hasn’t had an easy road.  He pitched collegiately at Florida State University and had fractures in his pitching arm misdiagnosed.  He went undrafted, but persevered and was signed as a free agent by Boston in 2005.  Jones worked his way up the chain and ultimately appeared in a handful of games for the Red Sox.  Jones told me that he was going to devote the offseason to weight training in an effort to become a major leaguer for good.  His path to the Bigs is much more clear now.  He is a big strong lefthander who can throw the ball hard.  Hunter Jones will have a good opportunity to make the Marlins and become an integral part of their bullpen.  I really hope Jones enjoys a long successful career.  He is one of the good guys.  Jones will join former Red Sox farmhands Hanley Ramirez and Anibel Sanchez in Florida.  Boston has had pretty good luck with former Marlins like Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.  Hermida is a former first round selection who has been tabbed with the “under-achiever” label.  Theo Epstein said this week that he hoped a change of scenery would be what Hermida needed to reach his potential.  I like the idea of Hermida as a fourth outfielder, but I’d feel a heck of a lot better if Boston signs Jason Bay.  The Sox will not overtake the Yankees if they don’t re-sign Bay or someone similar. 

 

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It will be interesting to see who Terry Francona names as a successsor to bench coach Brad Mills.  Mills was named the manager of the Houston Astros.  One possibility is PawSox skipper, Ron Johnson.  Tito has a great deal of respect for RJ and likes the job he does preparing the young prospects for the Major Leagues.  Francona has extended an invitation to Johnson every September since 2005 to join the Red Sox staff for the final month of the season.   Another twist to Mills heading to Houston also involves the Johnson family.  RJ’s son Chris is a third baseman in the Astros organization and made his Major League debut in 2009.  The younger Johnson is a prime candidate to make the Astros in 2010.   

GETTING IT OFF MY CHEST

No, I am not happy that the Yankees won the World Series.  No, I am not going to congratulate them.  If that makes me a poor sport, so be it.  The 2009 World Series has come and gone and I can tell you that I did not watch one minute of it.  The thought of watching the Evil Empire was more than I could take.  In their lavish new stadium, a tribute to excess, they won the Fall Classic.  You had the feeling they clinched the Series when they signed Mark Texeira and C.C. Sabathia.  They overcame a slow start and methodically put away the Sox in the regular season, the the Twins, the Angels and Philly.  As a kid, good sportsmanship was preached to me along with good hygiene, being polite and drinking my milk.  Well, I don’t drink milk, I might not always be polite (my brother says I am a real-life Larry David), I do shower and brush my teeth, so I guess I’ve got that going for me.  No way can I congratulate the bane of my existence for the last 40 years.  Now that it’s over, it’s time to move on and think about 2010.  Theo Epstein, I am talking to you.  Dump Varitek, re-sign Bay, make another run at Hanley Ramirez and find a solid fourth or fifth starter.  Kate Hudson, I am talking to you.  Ditch A-Rod.  It got you a lot of face time on Fox, but really, can’t you do better than that.  Before this playoff, his track record with women was the only thing worse than his batting average in October.  Mariano Rivera, I am talking to you.  Retire.  Ride off into the sunset.  If for no other reason, so you can’t continue sticking it in the ear of the Sox any more.  You’re a freak of nature and I say that with grudging respect.  Jorge Posada, I am talking to you.  Haven’t you made enough money to get those ears pinned back?  It looks like someone left the car doors open.  Joba Chamberlin, I am talking to you.  Don’t change a thing.  Continue to under-achieve and drive Yankees fans crazy.  And make sure you go visit your mom in prison.  C.C., I am talking to you.  CELEBRATE!  Eat anything you want.  Drink all you can.  Gain another 20 or so pounds so they’ll have to roll you out to the mound on opening day.  Jeter, I am talking to you.  Wipe that look off your face.  As irrational as it seems, the very sight of Derek Jeter throws me into a rage.  Men I know and respect like Dustin Pedroia sing his praises.  Everyone says that he embodies what baseball is all about.  How many times have I heard-”You can hate the Yankees, but you can’t hate Derek Jeter.”  Yes, I can.  Who is he, not to be hated?  Albert Schweitzer?  Mother Theresa? It is my inalienable right to dislike Derek Jeter and I will exercise that right until the day I die. (After that, I’ll probably still hate him.  With my luck, Hell is Yankee Stadium, Satan looks like Steinbrenner and Jeter would live in the fiery cave next door.)  I don’t know what is worse.  The fact that the Red Sox aren’t champions, or the Yankees are.  I think it’s the latter.  I could live with the Phillies or St. Louis as king of the hill, but I will not be able to sleep a wink or eat a morsel until the Yankees have been de-throned. (Boy, is it going to be a long year??!!)

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