Thursday, November 30, 2006

Roster bonus


It's 10:21 p.m. on the eve of December, and at this precise moment the thermometer tells me it's sixty-three bleepin' degrees outside. Did I mention I live in Wells, Maine, where there are usually penguins waddling around in my driveway this time of year? Or that I just came inside from shooting hoops in my driveway in a t-shirt and shorts? At 10 p.m. in freakin' November? Dude, I love global warming!

Anyway, this ridiculously unseasonable weather has me thinking about when all the nights are warm (okay, most of them) and the baseball is again in the air at Fenway. It feels like there should be a game tonight . . . yet once glance at the roster jolts you back to the cold reality of the long days ahead, for the 2007 Red Sox are far from being ready to play ball.

So here's my question to you, homies: When all the transactions have been completed and all of Steve Phillips's scoops have been proven idiotic, what will the Red Sox's opening day roster look like? Here's my best guess, with this disclaimer: Don't hold it against me five months from now. I've got to believe Theo's working on some moves that none of us have considered yet. Actually, let me rephrase that: I hope he's working on some moves that none of us have considered . . . because I'm not too thrilled with the ones we know he is considering. Anyway, here's my 25 . . .

THE LINEUP
SS Julio Lugo

We saw him 19 times a year for, what, five years with the Devil Rays? And never once did I catch myself thinking, "Damn, I'd love to have that Lugo in Boston someday." Are we sure Theo isn't confusing him with Carl Crawford or something?

CF Coco Crisp
He gets a mulligan for his Boston debut - he was just never right after busting his finger. He'll be better in the No. 2 slot, and better in his second season.

DH David Ortiz
It's an insult to the hitter he's become to suggest he'll suffer without Manny. Papi will be fine - on the field and off.

RF J.D. Drew
I'm with Ryan. What's the fascination, Theo? I know the skill-set and the OPS is appealing . . . but damn, it's time to start giving consideration again to a player's mental makeup. I'm tired of watching this supposedly progressive front office throw multimillion contracts to well-known Cowardly Lions who will shrivel under the scrutiny.

LF Wily Mo Pena
His numbers were impressive (.301, 11 homers in 276 at-bats). His power is astounding. So why does he seem like such an easy out?

1B Adrian Gonzalez
Sox have always coveted the former overall No. 1 pick - they nearly plucked him from Texas two years ago - and he'll arrive in the swap for Manny. Quietly had a heck of a breakout season at age 24, particularly given his home park, and is an excellent first baseman. I like him, despite the price.

3B Mike Lowell
I'm skeptical that he'll replicate his bounce-back season at the plate, but the Sox have never had a third baseman with better hands. He'll be an asset again.

C Jason Varitek
It'd be nice if they could sign a backup competent enough to reduce the aging captain's workload to 125-130 games. (Gregg Zaun would have been ideal.) That way, his bat might not be dead by August.

2B Dustin Pedroia
I'm not seeing what they see. Me, I'm seeing Brent Abernathy.

STARTERS
Daisuke Matsuzaka

They'll get the deal with devil (Boras) done, though Lucchino wouldn't be my first choice as designated diplomat. And I can't wait to watch him pitch.

Jonathan Papelbon
Please let his shoulder be healthy . . . please let his shoulder be healthy . . .

Josh Beckett
I trust he's matured after taking so many lumps last season. He'll win 17, minimum, with a sub-4.00 ERA . . . and even on his best days, I'll still catch myself wishing Hanley Ramirez were still one of ours.

Curt Schilling
Considering he famously stirred the *&$* and urged Philly fans to boo J.D. Drew years ago, it's pretty damn hypocritical of him to call out Ryan for wondering why the Sox would be interested in the wildly unpopular outfielder. Schilling will always have a place in my heart for 2004, but I think I'd like him even more if he were born mute.

Tim Wakefield
Can you believe he's going to be 41 this season? Oh, to have mastery of a knuckleball.

RELIEVERS
Scott Linebrink

While I really hope my man Edes is onto something with tonight's Jake Peavy-for-Manny rumor, I fret that Linebrink is the pitcher they'll get instead. While his numbers the last three years are excellent, I'm skeptical of any twice-discarded relief pitcher who rejuvenates his career in San Diego.

Mike Timlin
Even after his collapse last season - check out that alarmingly miniscule K-rate - he's worth a flyer. Have you looked at the pathetic list of free-agent relievers?

Manny Delcarmen
He needs to take the next step, or the pride of Hyde Park may find himself in another organization soon. Here's hoping he gets command of that great stuff and becomes the power arm in the setup role the Sox desperately need.

Hideki Okajima
The Japanese Mike Myers? I can live with that.

Julian Tavarez
Well, at least he makes it interesting, and he's not a bad option as a swingman. Wonder who he'll sucker punch this year.

The Reliever For Whom Kevin Youkilis Is Traded
Just a wild hunch here. Theo has to be up to something off the radar, right? And I think it's possible that Youkilis (whose OPS was .001 lower than some dude named Millar's) will be dealt before he's exposed as Just Another Guy. Think Billy Beane still has his "Moneyball" man-crush? I'd gladly accept Justin Duchscherer in return.

BENCH
Alex Cora

Not much of a stick, but his versatility and smarts make him the best utility player the Sox have had in my lifetime. (What, you prefer Jack Brohamer?)

Eric Hinske
Should be a more than serviceable bat off the bench, though he showed nothing after coming over from Toronto.

David Murphy
Fifth outfielder, setting the stage for a 10-year career as the next Ricky Ledee.

Trot Nixon
Yeah, like he's not going to accept arbitration. I cannot believe Dirty Helmet is going to be here and Manny is not. Sometimes I hate sports.

Mike Lieberthal
Wishful thinking? You try finding a decent backup catcher on this list. Heaven help us, there's a chance Mirabelli might be back, isn't there?

IN THE MIX
Bryce Cox, RP

I'm convinced he'll contribute before Craig Hansen will - in fact, I think he's going to be a huge factor this year.

Devern Hansack, RP
Really knows how to pitch, and has better stuff than a lot of established arms. I'm a believer.

Craig Hansen, RP
I think he'll be fine with time . . . but where's that electric slider we heard so much about coming out of St. John's?

* * *

Well, whaddaya say? Agree with all 25? Think I'm getting dumber by the day? Will they sign Eric Gagne? Trade for Andruw Jones? Have at it in the comments, dopes. If you need me, I'll be at the beach.

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