Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Enjoy The Silence
2006-01-25 07:14
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

The Yankees signed Aaron Small to a one-year, $1.2 million contract yesterday. In doing so they avoid an arbitration hearing and fell just shy of meeting Small half way. That's what amounts to big news out of the Bronx these days. Things have been dead quiet since the team signed Miguel Cairo back on January 5.

That's in stark contrast to what's happening 200 miles Northeast in Beantown. The eight-player, three-team deal that was to bring Coco Crisp to Boston has hit the skids after Guillermo Mota failed Cleveland's physical (this despite passing Boston's physical when the Sox acquired him from Florida in the Josh Beckett trade back around Thanksgiving).

Meanwhile, the man who will be responsible for sorting all of this out will be none other than Theo Epstein. Less than three months after leaving his post as General Manager, Epstein has not only returned to the team, but reclaimed his position as GM, putting the lie to fact that Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington would share the job (Hoyer has been bumped down to assistant GM and Cherington has been made VP of player personnel).

It all makes one wonder exactly how involved Epstein really was during his 84-day exile. Here's what the Sox have done in Theo's "absence":

  • Re-signed Mike Timlin for 2006
  • Released Gabe Kapler
  • Filled out the 40-man roster with minor leaguers
  • Traded for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota, sending top infield prospect Hanley Ramirez and three pitching prospects to Florida
  • Picked up reliever Jermaine Van Buren from the Cubs for a PTBNL
  • Swapped Doug Mirabelli for Mark Loretta
  • Dumped Edgar Renteria on the Braves for top prospect Andy Marte
  • Clamed reliever Jamie Vermilyea in the Rule 5 draft
  • Non-tendered Wade Miller and Chad Bradford
  • Signed John Flaherty, J.T. Snow and reliever Rudy Seanez to one-year deals
  • Signed Mota for 2006
  • Signed Tony Gaffanino, who had unexpectedly accepted the Sox arbitration offer, to a one-year deal
  • Signed Julian Tavarez to a two-year deal with an option for 2008
  • Re-upped Bronson Arroyo for three years
  • DFAed Tim Bausher
  • Signed Willie Harris to a mL deal and invited him to spring training

That doesn't include the still undetermined Coco Crisp deal.

While it's very tempting to dust that list for Theo's fingerprints, one tends to wonder if the "boy genius" would have left his club with Alex Cora at shortstop and a battle between Adam Stern and Willie Harris in center just 23 days before Pitchers and Catchers.

By the way, the last six items on the above list occured between the Cairo and Small contracts. Myself, I don't mind the silence.

2006-01-25 08:16:53
1.   debris

re: "Hanley Ramirez and three pitching prospects" One of the prospects, Anibal Sanchez, is a premier prospect and worth mentioning by name. The other two are both good arms, but young and in the low minors.

2006-01-25 08:17:55
2.   debris
And you might change the Atlanta deal to "dumped Edgar Renteria and $9 M in small unmarked bills..."
2006-01-25 08:31:52
3.   JVarghese81
Anibal Sanchez, who debris mentioned, is the goods. I watched him pitch a couple of times for Wilmington and he just kept getting better and better. He was coming off an arm injury but he looked like he was getting a lot i'd have to agree with debris in saying that anibal is a premier prospect as well.

This is from Sickels:
"Sanchez: Of Boston's Big Three pitching prospects (Sanchez, Jon Papelbon, Jon Lester), Sanchez is the one I like the least in the short run, granted I still gave him a B+ and rate him very highly, among the best RHP prospects in the game. I think he is a year away from being ready to help, and like Ramirez he should not be rushed."

2006-01-25 08:35:13
4.   Cliff Corcoran
That'd be laziness on my part. I thought I rememberd Sanchez being the key pitcher in that deal, but I didn't take the time to look it up and didn't want to slight the other two guys by picking him at random. Normally I'd expect myself to know that sort of thing without looking it up, but it's been a very distracting winter for me, as you migh have noticed by infrequency of my posts.
2006-01-25 08:47:03
5.   Sliced Bread
The silence is so deafening it's making me think maybe Piazza isn't such a bad idea after all. (but isn't the NY Post's backpage mock-up of Piazza in Yankee road grays "Don't Do It" amusing?)
I looked at the 1998 Yanks roster this morning, and what stuck out to me, aside from the half dozen relief pitchers I didn't remember, is that the DH/PH duties were shared by Chili Davis, Darryl Strawberry, and Tim Raines who were all approaching the end of their careers. It's making me think maybe there's room on the 2006 roster for another veteran bat, another hitter who has thrived on the NY stage. If the Yanks can get Piazza for around $2-3 million, I might be for it. I'm reserving the fan's right to coy deliberation, you know?

Re: the Mota physical. I suspect Cleveland got Co-Co-cold feet, and is now trying to squeeze a better offer out of Boston. Declarman would definitely sweeten the deal for the Indians, and hurt the Sox that much more.

Seeing the Sox scrambling for a centerfielder, and sacrificing the kids is making me more appreciative of the Damon deal, which cost the Yanks nothing in talent. I'm still stuck somewhere between repulsion and acceptance of Damon. Coy deliberation, you know?

2006-01-25 09:06:59
6.   Sliced Bread
Anbody else surprised the Phillies would do Jason Michaels for Arthur Rhodes? This makes me suspect J-Lo's hype-machine has been pumping up J-Mike, and confirms that middle-of-the-road pitchers are a hotter commodity than oil these days.
Would the Phillies be so phoolish as to accept, say, Al Leiter and a Yankee prospect-to-be-determined later phor Michaels? Kidding aside, Cashman should float a competitive offer for Michaels, but I can't think of one at the moment, you?
2006-01-25 09:15:54
7.   brockdc
Wright for Michaels.
2006-01-25 10:57:28
8.   tommyl
The main difference with the Yankees this offseason isn't the spending (they've done that again) but the lack of prospects being randomly bundled in deals. As Sliced Bread pointed out, we've given up next to no talent this year to basically have a good to excellent player at nearly every position.

Boston on the other hand has been dealing prospects left and right. I don't know how many they have left, but they MO is starting to look a lot more like the late 90's early 2000's Yankees'.

Side note: I'm moving back to NYC this summer, so back to going to games and no more bitching about Fox blackouts!

2006-01-25 11:04:33
9.   rbj
So did Theo & Larry kiss and make up?
2006-01-25 11:20:58
10.   wsporter
I think the Sawx have plenty left downstairs. There's nothing wrong with moving prospects IF you get back YOUNG ML READY players that fill holes at the ML level. It's the habit of consistently kicking in the Brozobans, the Nevaros and the Penas for older one, two or three year solutions that kill your farm system. I think it remains to be seen which way the Sawx go on this. It also remains to be seen where publications like Baseball America rank them but in looking at their top 10 they seen to be in pretty good shape even if they move Marte. Young relievers are a strength in their system.

I was hoping the Damon signing would force them to move some of the young guys in an effort to find a replacement in CF and at SS. With the Mota physical that may still come to pass. Although that Cincinnati nonsense is now rearing its ugly head again.

If we could move Lieter and a bag of balls to Philly for Michaels that would be the best thing since SLICED ….

2006-01-25 11:36:01
11.   The Mick 536
No news is good news.I like Bubba. Please give him a chance. He can play. I know it.

1998 Janks, an odd choice for emulation, but a good one for reasons in addition to Sliced Bread's. One of my favorite Jank teams of all time-114 wins. Straw hit 25. Raines and Chili combined for 8, five and three respectively. Spencer hit 10. Stick with the kids.

The pitching, wow. Conehead. El Duque. Even the Toad had a winning record. Secret weapons were Stanton and Lloyd, two leftie relievers. Also, two leftie starters - Petite and Wells. Go lefties.

I'll probably end up on some list for that comment.

2006-01-25 12:04:39
12.   debris
The Sox have moved exactly two prospects: Ramirez and Sanchez. I must confess, I'm not sold on Ramirez. Amazing athleticism and tools, but tools guys don't always pan out on the field. His numbers thus far have failed to impress at any level.

As for the farm, they are still quite loaded, thank you, with Lester, Papelbon, Hansen, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Shoppach, Delcarmen, and Lowrie all considered top talent. Even David Murphy, who had a monster second half at Portland, has worked his way back up the charts.

I'm quite fine on moving Marte, considering what he cost to acquire and how much I like Crisp. And I have no problem sending Clement to Cincy if that's what it takes to get the job done. If they have to send either Delcarmen or Shoppach, that would be nothing short of blackmail and they'd probably be better off going after Michaels, who is much more loved on this blog than anywhere else I've seen.

Dealing Clement would still leave them 6 starters, including Wells. It would also leave them about $17 M down in payroll from last year with plenty of room to take on contract(s) come the All Star break. It would also create the possibility of Jon Lester pitching his way into the rotation (and Arroyo back to the pen) with a boffo spring.

2006-01-25 12:07:51
13.   Sliced Bread
Go lefties, indeed, Mick 536.
With the exception of their all-out pursuit of the big kid from Arizona, what's his name again? oh yeah, Randy Johnson, the Yanks front-office has shown a McCarthyesqe disdain for lefties in recent years, starters anyway.
Do you think Steinbrenner has learned to appreciate Pettitte yet? We all remember precisely where we were, and what we were watching/listening to at the moment David Wells expired.
Go lefties, right on, Mick!
Bubba? I'm okay with him in the reserve role, but the Yanks could probably still use a guy like Jason Michaels, and carry one less shaky reliever on the roster.
2006-01-25 12:22:37
14.   Sliced Bread

At this point wouldn't the Sox have to part with at least Marte, Clement, and millions of Clement dollars to land Crisp? or one of the "untouchable" young relievers you mentioned. If so, you okay with that? Given Boston's desperation for a centerfielder, it looks like they'll have to go loco for Coco.

2006-01-25 12:26:00
15.   Fred Vincy
Didn't know about Flaherty. Since Theo's gotta know Flash is totally unplayable, do you figure it was just a cheap way to buy some insight into the Yankees' scouting reports on Sox hitters?
2006-01-25 12:35:24
16.   Dimelo
On top of all the other bad news going around with the Sux, Schilling was just voted #4 as the worse athlete in America. To put it in perspective T.0 was voted #1. -- where I found the piece
Here's the source:

BTW, I hear Schilling is going to appear in the Red Sox version of Brokeback Mountain playing the other "cowboy" will be Dan Shaugnessey.

2006-01-25 13:14:18
17.   Knuckles
I figured out how debris evaluates players:

(1) If he's on the Sox, he's good.
(2) If he's not on the Sox, he's not as good as the current Red Sock at that position.
(3) If he was on the Sox, he sucks/was a product of Fenway/is declining.


(4) If he's on the Sox but they're contemplating moving him, he's old/overrated/sucks/not going to pan out. (Until the deal falls through, then see statement (1).)
(5) If he's not on the Sox but is on their radar, he's underrated/about to break out/definitely going to pan out. (Until the deal falls through, then see statement (2).)

2006-01-25 13:25:09
18.   Marcus
Knuckles, I think you nailed it! LOL
2006-01-25 13:43:11
19.   alterity
Knuckles = Best. Post. Evar. If in doubt, see 17.
2006-01-25 13:46:14
20.   debris
Sliced Bread,

There are so many stories going around, there's no idea who to believe. I've read the Kearns-Clement rumors, but have seen no mention of money. I'm certainly not in favor of dealing more than Marte. While I like Riske, some, not a whole lot, and have no use for Bard, I really don't like the idea of giving up Shoppach. My sense of the Flaherty signing was that he was insurance, likely to be released by opening day, in case Shoppach had a lousy spring. Flaherty, as you well know, is pretty near useless as a baseball player.

As for the original posed by Cliff, there's a report out of the Lowell (MA) Eagle-Tribune, that the Red Sox never had their own doctors look at Mota or Beckett. Clearly, to my mind, Epstein would never have allowed a deal to be completed without in-house physicals. Bradford, the author of the article, agrees and says that the deal was pure Lucchino.

2006-01-25 13:51:56
21.   wsporter
Better duck Lucky Lu there's a definite aroma of scapegoat on the wind.
2006-01-25 14:33:12
22.   debris
01/28/2006 Casey Stengel Chapter (NYC) - Society for American Baseball Research (SABR)
The Casey Stengel Chapter meeting in NYC will be on Saturday, January 28 from 10 to 5 pm on the 6th floor of the Mid-Manhattan branch of the NY Public Library, located 455 Fifth Avenue (40th St.)
Visitors, including non-members, can pay $5 at the door. All are welcome, since it is a public library, and authors will sign and sell their books on the premises. For more information, see the NYC website

Keynote Speaker Warner Wolf of WABC Radio's "Curtis & Kuby" Show
Registration may be made at door

10:00 – Registration, Book Donations
10:30 – Jon Springer on Bing Devine with the Mets
10:50 – Steve Krevisky on Ryne Duren
11:10 – Keynote Speaker – Warner Wolf
11:35 – Announcements: Al Blumkin
12:50 – Authors Panel
* Bob McGee (Greatest Ballpark Ever: Ebbets Field and the Story of the Brooklyn Dodgers)
* Rob Fitts (Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral History Of The Game)
* Carolyn Trombe (Dottie Wiltse Collins: Strikeout Queen of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League)
* Steven Goldman (Mind Game: How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart by Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts)
* Stanley H. Teitelbaum (Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols)
1:55 – OBITS by Al Blumkin
2:00 – Panel: Steve Broege (lefty for St. Louis minors) and Frank Prudenti (1961 NY Yankee Batboy)
2:35 – Mike Huber on MLB at West Point
2:55 – Mark Lamster on Spalding's Around-the-World Tour of 1888/9
3:15 – Elliott Hines on Bucky Walters
3:35 – Doug Lyons' Trivia Contest

2006-01-25 14:40:26
23.   Levy2020
I think we need one MORE shaky reliever on the team.

It's unclear to me who is going to pitch the seventh inning until we find out about Dotel.

Farnsworth is going to pitch the eighth and Rivera is going to close.

Small and Villone are going to do long-relief. Myers is going to do lefties.

But I'm not sure that either Proctor or Sturtze handled or could handle the roles they were used in last year. It sounds like Proctor is more of a righty-specialist than a 7th inning/middle-relief guy. And it sounds like Sturtze isn't nearly as healthy as he should be. . .

2006-01-25 14:46:14
24.   tocho
Thank you knuckles. Now if you excuse me I need a new keyboard, this one has coffee spilled all ovah the place.
2006-01-25 15:57:09
25.   singledd
The Big Hurt goes to (Billy) Bean town. I'll bet he went cheap. I think Man-of-Cash will take Piazza, for under 3 mil, if Piazza isn't picked up soon.

Even Molina isn't moving, and he is more desirerable to most then Piazza.

I think Cash is playing it cool, in hopes we can steal Mike at the 11th hour.

You seem like an intelligent fan. I am (originally) a NY'er, who has lived in NH (Red Sox country) now for 35 years. While I don't like to be mean, Knuckles statement rings very true Because of this, it's hard for me to discuss BB with any Sox fan here.

Maybe you find that true also... and is why you spend so much time here (swimming upstream) as opposed to chatting with other Sox fans.

In any event, I welcome your opinions here (but don't tell any of your friends about us).

2006-01-25 17:30:16
26.   singledd
"Thomas agreed to a $500,000, one-year deal with Oakland on Wednesday.... can make an additional $2.6 million in bonuses based on plate appearances and not hurting his left foot".

(What if he hurts his right foot?)

It's not that I'm into old, hurt players... but when you consider what we pay 5-10mil for, Thomas seems like an awful good deal.

I'll bet Piazza is available for similar numbers. Not that I don't think Kelly Stinnett is a force to be seen....

2006-01-25 18:18:02
27.   Dingus
Except Frank Thomas really wants to play for the A's. Piazza might be available for a contract like that if he actually wants to play for the Yankees, and not an AL team in California like he`s been saying all off-season.
2006-01-25 18:44:45
28.   brockdc
My Ex used to get all gung-ho over a book just because it had one of those "Oprah" stickers on the front. As though, if Oprah's approved it, then it MUST be good.

I sort of feel the same about any move Billy Bean makes.

2006-01-25 19:01:10
29.   singledd
500,000 doesn't buy a cup of coffee in MLB.
True, if he's Frank Thomas he could make almost 3 mil (less then league average). Hurt did hit 1 hr in every dozen or so ABs last year... in a very abbeviated stint.

It's not that Frank is that good....
it's just that he was so CHEAP!

The average Yankee makes 8 mil.

2006-01-25 20:21:56
30.   brockdc
To clarify, I feel the same about Billy Bean's acquisitions as my Ex feels about Oprah-endorsed books - suddenly, they're gold.

I agree - 500 grand is flat-out ridiculous; and if he gets 400+ ABs, we're probably looking at a 25-30 homerun season.

2006-01-25 20:59:34
31.   sam2175
Dont really want to pour on Debris, but Sox fans really believe that Epstein can do no wrong (well, Edgar Renteria and his dumped contract says otherwise). And they have an in-house scapegoat in Larry Lucchino. If Epstein leaves, it is because Lucchino is mean. If he comes back, it means Lucchino lost power. If it is a bad signing/trade, it is Lucchino. And if it is good, it must be Theo.

I am no Lucchino apologist, and his "Evil Empire" rant and handling of A-Rod trade negotiations were really distasteful and unprofessional, but perhaps Epstein's genius should really be taken with grains of salt. Kenny Williams and Mark Shapiro has done as well a job as anyone, not to mention Billy Beane, and they take full responsibility for their own actions.

I also noticed the discrepancy in reactions in national media to Cashman resigning with the Yankees and Theo walking through the backdoor with the Red Sox. At that time, Buster Olney and Jayson Stark wrote accusatory articles (as if they have been betrayed), saying no sympathy should now be reserved for Cashman should there be complains of Tampa interference. For better or worse, that is true. Shouldn't the same treatment now be meted out to Theo? I mean, from now on, if something goes wrong with a Red Sox FO decision, the person solely responsible will be Theo and not Lucchino, right?

2006-01-25 21:18:45
32.   wsporter
You wan't some fairness? Chass will treat everyone like the same piece of crap, just give him a minute.

When did Theo piss in Murray's cornflakes? I guess the engagement is off. I'm sure there's a Brokeback Mountain comment to be made here somewhere but its too late and I just can't be bothered.

2006-01-26 00:20:40
33.   joejoejoe
If Ortiz and Manny don't play Ruth and Gehrig for the BoSox nobody is calling anybody genius in Beantown. If Jeter was the second coming of Bobby Meacham instead of the second coming of Tony Lazzeri the Yankess would maybe have one championship in the last decade, not four. There are enough random elements in baseball to consider without factoring in whether Baby Theo and Larry Lucchino have awkward moments in the hallways of Fenway.

OT: Does anyone remember Al Reyes with the Yankees? He has very good stats for a reliever that's been released three times, including once by Tampa Bay. He hurt his arm in the last game of 2005. I wonder if it's worth signing him to a two year bargain contract (ala Lieber) and hoping he's effective in 2007. Reyes was better than league average every year since 2001 and put up 62IP at 2.15 ERA and 0.93 WHIP for the Cardinals last year. He's worth a flyer IMHO.

2006-01-26 03:32:06
34.   debris
Joejoejoe is dead on. Theo has done a fine job, but certainly the signings of Renteria and Clement were both mistakes.

If Theo didn't grab Ortiz off the scrapheap some three years back, the Red Sox would not have played one single game in October.

The Red Sox DID NOT have a strong lineup last year top to bottom. They DO NOT have a strong lineup this year top to bottom. What they DO HAVE is a lineup that stands to be better than last year's providing Manny and Papi keep it up.

The 2005 Red Sox were a team that won 95 games with three holes in the lineup and without their ace and closer for the whole season. Quite an accomplishment. Oh, and lousy infield defense, I might add, Buell Mueller excepted.

2006-01-26 04:29:51
35.   debris
What really made Theo's reputation for genious was his having the stones to deal Nomar for defense and speed. One huge difference between the Sox and Yanks in 2004 was the bench that the Sox took into the post season.

I don't know where I read it, perhaps in Goldman, et al, but the suggestion has been made that had Torre used Lofton as Francona used Roberts in that ALCS, the results might have been different. Lofton, for the record, started games 1,2,7. He never got off the bench in 3,4,5,6. Had Lofton run for Sierra in the ninth, or Matsui in the 13th, the result of that series might have been quite different.

If you recall in the ninth, Sierra singled and was held at third on Clark's ground rule double. A steal in advance of the double would have led to a run. In the thirteenth, Matsui walked and moved to third on two passed balls. Had Lofton run for Matsui with Wakefield pitching, the easy swipe would have put him in position to score.

2006-01-26 06:42:13
36.   sam2175

As much as I love Jeter, you are really overvaluing his contribution in the championship runs. He played a key role in those championship runs, but so did Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, David Cone, and above and beyond all, Mariano Rivera. Maybe you should replace jeter's name with Mo's.

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