Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hot stove warming up

The stove is getting cranked up now that there have been some significant developments in player situations in MLB.

The Sox and hard-headed reliever Keith Foulke parted ways yesterday when Foulkie declined the club's $3.75 million dollar option, reportedly to be able to play closer to his Arizona home (we know it was actually to get away from heckling Boston fans.) With former Boston assistant GM Josh Byrnes now calling the shots in the desert for the D-Backs Foulke might be playing as close as possible to that home. Let me just say that Foulke will always be remembered for his role in helping the Sox win the Series in 2004- his presence at the back of the pen was a key part of winning the title, and truth be told they probably wouldn't have won it without his contributions. But he will also be remembered for his many idiotic statements since the night he tossed the final out to the Ball Stealer at Busch Stadium: calling the paying fans idiots that work at Burger King; demanding to be compensated, preferably with new pickup trucks, for talking with certain news organizations; and his epic meltdowns and loss of ability following that 2004 season. This guy is a true classless act, an athlete who feels as though he is honoring the fans with his presence and we should all bow down when he takes the mound. When he heard enough boos coming off of it, he went into a pouting shell that hastened his departure from Beantown. Adios, Foulkie, and good luck getting anywhere near $3.75 mil from Arizona or anyone else.

Speaking of the Sox, all the talk this week has centered around their bid to be able to negotiate with Japanese whiz pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka; reports have placed the offer at $38-45 million dollars, American, just to negotiate with him. Then they have to deal with his agent, the ever-lovable Scott Boras, and try to hammer out an agreement with the 26-year-old righty. All of this leads me to the conclusion that A. this kid had better be the second coming of Cy Young if the Sawx are going to fork over $40 mil just to flirt with him (if he doesn't sign with Boston they would get their money back), and B. how the f**k can anyone be sure that the guy, who has pitched over 1,400 innings in just 8 seasons, won't be a complete bust, a-la the last great Japanese hope, Hideki Irabu? To me this is a Huge gamble for Boston, and it may be one of those "as long as the Stanks don't get him" moves. But it's a mighty expensive roll of the dice, especially when the money is needed to sign about 5-10 other players. I'm never in favor of paying big money for unproven talent, and even though this kid has put up the numbers in Japan (108-59, 3.00 ERA, 1,355Ks) there is no guarantee that he will be able to just to the American game. Look at Hideo Nomo for proof. A big gamble for a team that really should be making solid baseball decisions, not just playing chicken with the Evil Empire and then being on the hook for over $50 million to one unproven player. Then again if he does pitch like the Japanese Clemens then I love the move.

Disgruntled Stankee outfielder Gary Sheffield was traded to the American League Champion Detroit Tigers for 3 minor league pitchers yesterday in a move hailed by both sides as being great for their organization(don't ya love when they all BS like that?) Sheff, who is coming off an injury-ravaged season in which he played in only 39 games in 2006 due to a wrist injury, received what he wanted but wouldn't get from the Stanks: a guaranteed contract ($28 million thru 2009) and a guarantee that he would not be moved to first base. The clubhouse cancer is saying all the right things about being reunited with Tigers skipper Smokey Jim Leyland and GM Dave Dombrowski, with whom Sheff won a title in 1997 with the Marlins, but something tells me this situation could get ugly, early, and I will place the same guarantee on this union that I did when Petey signed his 4-year gift with the Mets: Sheffield, who is broken down and 38 years old, will never be near the field when he collects all that money in '09. They might get one decent season out of him, but he is one more major injury or major blow-up away from joining a local retirement community in his native Tampa. Don't even think of asking him to play first, or he'll do what he did in Milwaukee in his first year in the majors-threaten a walkout and force a trade to another team. Detroit, I hope you enjoyed that playoff run- it won't be duplicated next year.

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