Saturday, June 09, 2007

Weekend update

A few table scraps while waiting for the Yankees to claim J.C. Romero . . .

• Heard a lot of yowling from the hindsight specialists on 'EEI this afternoon that Theo Epstein made an egregious mistake by not taking up Curt Schilling on his offer to pitch for a mere $13 million dollars next season. Can't say I'm surprised at the banshees' reactionary outcry, considering that Schilling's masterpiece against the A's Thursday was the best pitching performance we've seen around here since . . . well, probably since Derek Lowe's no-hitter in 2002. (No offense, Pedro.) But for those who are yelping that the Sox should sign Schilling now, it might be time for a reality check. Schilling is going to be 41 years old in November, he struggled mightily in the second half last season, and while his cumulative numbers (6-2, 3.49 ERA) are very good, it's worth noting that he's battled inconsistency, particularly against the Yankees. Of course I hope he pitches well enough the rest of the season to warrant a new deal here, and I'm certain that his threat to test free agency would prove empty should he receive a reasonable offer from the Red Sox. But that does not mean it's not prudent of the front office to wait and see if he can make it through the season as an effective big-league pitcher before committing to him for the next one.

• One more thing about Schilling: You had to find it amusing that the Yankees, according to the New York Times' Tyler Kepner, hooted and hollered like they'd just won something important after watching Shannon Stewart bust up Schilling's no-hitter. We all know that Schilling is a polarizing personality who won't be winning any league-wide popularity contests (remember Ed Wade's infamous quote: "He's a horse every fifth day and horse's --- the other four"). But this sure looks like further proof that the conventional wisdom is wrong and the Sox-Yanks rivalry really does mean as much to the players as it does the fans. I also can't help but wonder how Johnny Damon reacted during the whole thing, considering his wife and Mrs. Schilling weren't exactly sorority sisters during Damon's days in Boston.

• If you ever wondered why Mike Lowell is universally acknowledged as one of baseball's good guys, consider this anecdote from Peter Gammons:

On April 20, Courtney Butcher of Worcester, Mass., a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, called her father, Jim, to talk about the Monster seats Jim had purchased for the family for the Sunday night game. Lowell was her favorite player. That night, right after Courtney talked to her father, she and three friends were killed in an automobile accident. That Sunday night, Jim took his other children to the game. In the 4-HR inning, Lowell's shot went right to the Butcher family.

The next day, a friend of the family called Sarah Stevenson of the Red Sox, who relayed the message to Lowell, and he signed a uniform with these words: "Courtney, May God Be With You, Rest in Peace." He also sent word to Jim Butcher that he would homer for Courtney. The wake was that Tuesday, April 24, and Lowell's uniform was draped over Courtney's coffin. That night, he homered against the Blue Jays.

• In the 2003 MLB amateur draft, the Red Sox selected Baylor outfielder David Murphy with the 17th pick in the first round. Two picks later, the Arizona Diamondbacks plucked the other player the Sox reportedly considered, University of California first baseman Conor Jackson. While Murphy, now at Pawtucket, has plodded through the Sox system and projects as a fourth outfielder in the big leagues, the highly regarded Jackson has emerged as an everyday player in Arizona, putting up a respectable .817 OPS this season. My point? In my usual roundabout way, I have two: 1) The Sox probably took the wrong guy. 2) The hype surrounding this week's MLB draft LIVE ON ESPN2!!!! was ridiculous. Half of the kids taken in the first round will never be heard from again unless you live in a Double A city. No one knows if their favorite team took the next Murphy, Jackson, or Danny Goodwin, and they won't for a few years. Which is why, despite ESPN's typically over-the-top coverage, this will never be a Big Event on the scale of the NFL or NBA drafts. Leave it in the agate type, where it belongs.

• Congratulations go out to Roger Clemens-Waldman, who pitched well enough in six innings today to qualify for a quality start. Goodness gracious, give that man a raise! Now, if you don't mind, could someone please let me know when the disingenuous oaf is done with this tuneup b.s. and decides to start earning his $4.5 million monthly stipend against actual major league lineups? Excepting Jason Bay, the Pittsburgh Pirates might as well be the Nashville Sounds.

• This dreadful Julio Lugo experience makes me realize just how much I wish they'd re-signed Orlando Cabrera and avoided this aggravating annual game of Mediocre Shortstop Roulette. Full confession: Yeah, I did think Edgar Renteria would be an upgrade. But that doesn't mean I wanted to see Cabrera go.

• As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

From Saturday's AP story on the draft:

Former outfielder Kevin Romine had both of his sons taken on the first day: California high school catcher Austin Romine went to the New York Yankees in the second round, while brother, Andrew, a shortstop for Arizona State, was taken by the Los Angeles Angels in the fifth round.

Wait a minute . . . Kevin Romine is old enough to have two kids drafted? Man, as if I didn't feel like I was on the fast track to geezerhood already. I was almost sure he was still buried in Pawtucket, playing with Randy Kutcher, LaSchelle Tarver, Dana Williams, and Pat Dodson (and David Murphy, I suppose) and waiting for that elusive break.

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