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Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Farnsworth’

Wow. Where should I start? We sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers and Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to the Pirates so that we could get Jason Bay from the Pirates. Craig Hansen could throw hard but the truth is that he’s been inconsistent throughout his Major League career without showing signs of improvement. Brandon Moss was a good outfielder with a decent bat. We have four outfielders right now and could use a fifth. Last season we had Bobby Kielty. Now that Moss is gone, who’s going to fill that role? So that’s something that should probably be addressed.

As for Manny’s role in this, it’s complicated. Downsides: he’s Manny Ramirez. The combination of Ortiz and Ramirez strikes fear into the hearts of the best of pitchers, and for good reason. Even by himself Manny is a formidable opponent. His offensive production is through the roof, and his bat has been instrumental in our postseason success. He’s very well acquainted with Fenway’s left field. The angles and corners over there are not easy to play. We know that because we’ve watched opposing left fielders look like fools in there. Manny is an expert at reading the wall and judging which balls will be off the wall and which won’t. He gets rid of the ball very quickly, too. He also has an unheard-of work ethic, watching tape for hours, showing up before and after games to practice hitting, always developing drills and training and studying the game. Plus, the whole Manny being Manny aspect did have some positive features. He relaxed the clubhouse a bit, contributed his own character and flair to the team, and basically befriended the entire lineup and eased the pressure on everybody with his talents as a ballplayer. And he’s been a fixture in Boston for 7.5 years. That’s a long time.

Upsides: just look at his track record over the past month or so. In that span, he’s shoved a teammate, manhandled a 61-year-old traveling secretary, accused the principal owner of his team of being dishonest, removed himself from the lineup twice due to knee soreness undetectable by MRI, failed to run out long grounders that could’ve been turned into hits and possibly runs, and stated publicly that he’s tired of his team and that his team doesn’t deserve a player like him. These are not the Manny being Manny moments from past years. This isn’t Manny running on the field with an American flag to celebrate his becoming a citizen. This isn’t Manny doing his usual fooling around. This is big. This is a blatant lack of effort and a complete and total offense to teammates. And when something like this happens, it’s hard to ignore. As I said, since the Manny rumors have surfaced, the team’s performance has taken a nosedive, even at home. That doesn’t happen unless there’s a major distraction, and that’s what Manny had finally become: a distraction too intolerable for the current course of action that Terry Francona and the Red Sox front office had engaged in for years, which was basically looking the other way. No amount of slugging could take away the fact that he was disturbing the clubhouse. You can’t have a team full of do-or-die guys and then a guy like Manny. After a point you just can’t. As Curt Schilling said, you can’t have players like Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek, who play through pain and keep their soreness to themselves and live and die with every at-bat, and a player like Manny Ramirez, who’s one of the best there is but who toys with the team and takes himself out of the lineup just to prove a point. Not giving your all is something that doesn’t fly in Boston. In addition to all of this, Manny is aging, can not for the life of him run the bases, and is now in the National League, which means the only times he’d be able to do any damage against us is during Interleague and the World Series, if the Dodgers manage to get there.

You might say that the trade was a mistake because Jason Bay could never hope to fill Manny’s shoes. You might say the Red Sox should’ve sat tight and kept Manny. But at what cost? Either we lose games and keep someone who, while one of the best ballplayers in the Major Leagues, is an unhealthy distraction, or we win or lose games with a new guy who’s younger, faster, and having an offensively comparable season. Manny wasn’t going to play baseball in Boston forever. At the very least, he’d eventually have to retire. Sooner or later, we would’ve had to secure a future for our left field beyond him. We’ve just had to do it sooner than expected.

This trade has proven to be a disappointment for me. I am disappointed in Manny for not being able to keep his head on during a three-way pennant race. I am disappointed in Manny because of his flagrant misbehavior due to a contract dispute and whatever other baggage he might have. I am disappointed that he couldn’t just put himself aside for the sake his teammates, some of whom have been with him for the majority of his years in Boston, and help us win a World Series. Usually, when a veteran has played in a Red Sox uniform for the last time, I’m more sad than angry to see him go. But thanks to Manny Ramirez and his recent displays, I’m more angry than sad.

With something like this, we’ve got to trust. Nomar was traded right in the middle of the 2004 season for Orlando Cabrera, someone new who like Jason Bay had to adjust to his teammates and his new city. But he did it and then helped us win a World Series, in historic and spectacular fashion to boot. There’s no reason to think that the same thing won’t happen here. Perhaps the clubhouse needed some sort of invigorating force. One thing’s for sure: we can finally move forward. Red Sox Nation and I will no doubt feel like something’s missing when we look to left field and see no dreadlocks, no big smile, no ridiculousness going on. And we’ll all feel like we’ve lost something valuable the first time we see Manny Ramirez dressed in a Dodgers uniform. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t miss the man. I was a huge fan of Manny Ramirez, and he did so much for our team and therefore Boston. There was always that knowledge when he came to the plate that with one swing he could win us a ballgame, that since he was young it was clear that he was born to play ball. He was one of the greats. He could’ve been even greater. But I guess we have to let this one go.

I still say Manny had no idea how good he had it. He’s going to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The fans in Los Angeles are very different from the fans in Boston. The fans in LA like to see spectacles like Manny high-fiving a fan before throwing a caught ball back into play. So in that sense he’ll be happy. But fans in LA also tend to leave the stadium at around the seventh inning. Let’s face it; Manny was an icon in Boston. For 7.5 years he’s been loved by a city, a region, and a Nation. He’s won two championships and hit five hundred home runs wearing Red Sox letters. Will he really be happy going from baseball god to guy in left field who does funny stuff for fans who leave during the seventh inning?

Well, he’ll have to be. He wanted out, and now he’s out. He’s Joe Torre’s problem now. That’ll be interesting. I can’t wait to see how Torre handles Manny’s first episode. He’ll also be reunited with Nomar, Derek Lowe, and Bill Mueller, who works in the organization. In the meantime, I’m anxious to check out the new guy and see how quickly he can make the adjustment.

By the way, the Yankees landed Pudge Rodriguez for Kyle Farnsworth. The Yankees could’ve used the extra pitcher, but instead they wanted the 38-year-old catcher who’s batting .295 with five homers and 32 RBIs. I’m just saying.

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That’s the only word I can think of to describe Manny’s recent behavior. I’m usually the first to defend the dude, and I’m a huge Manny fan, but this is the last straw. Seriously. So he wants a contract. So do a lot of people. You don’t take yourself out of the lineup right before the biggest game of the year to send the front office a message. By doing that, you do send the front office a message. But it isn’t very flattering.

We lost last night’s contest, 1-0. Josh Beckett pitched an absolute gem. One run on nine hits, all singles. Javy Lopez was brilliant as usual, Manny Delcarmen pitched cleanly for a change but left with a muscle cramp (he’s since stated that he’s fine), and Hideki Okajima pitched the rest of the eighth and the ninth in ’07 fashion. Unfortunately, Joba Chamberlain held us to three hits, all singles, and pitched seven shutout innings. And whatever opportunity we tried to start with Farnsworth on the mound didn’t last long. By the way, Mikey Lowell should have walked. I’m not in the habit of complaining about bad calls because hey, it happens, but that was just ridiculous.

Joba went after Kevin Youkilis as usual. Beckett was prepared to charge but the home plate umpire warned both benches and no retaliation followed. Although it makes you wonder. Joba went after Youk’s head twice in a row last season, and now this. What’s the kid’s problem, anyway?

The Manny controversy completely overshadowed Big Papi’s comeback, which in my book was a pretty obnoxious side effect of the whole affair. Big Papi did nothing spectacular in his first Major League game in six weeks. Too bad; we could’ve used something. Anything. We could’ve used Manny for sure. He’s obscenely successful against the Yankees, and with him in the lineup the batting order would’ve been restored. It would’ve been more like today’s order, with Pedroia and Youk, the on-base guys, leading off, followed by Papi with Ramirez batting clean-up, followed by Lowell and Drew. Ellsbury, as is customary for one in a slump, would’ve batted ninth. Instead, Ramirez proclaimed his inability to play due to some sort of sore right knee minutes after Tito filled out the card, and Ellsbury had to lead off. Which, naturally, created all sorts of disasters in the later innings when we could’ve mounted a rally. Not even a big rally. All we needed were two runs to win it. The biggest game of the year thus far, and the MVP of the 2004 World Series couldn’t show. (By the way, Manny was sent to Mass. General for MRIs of both knees. They came back clean.)

As for today’s outing, it was just as ugly. We lost by seven runs. The final score was 10-3. Wakefield, who’s been having an excellent year, took the loss after allowing six runs on eight hits over about five innings pitched. Masterson came in to relieve him and gave the Yankees three solid hits in a row (I know; I was shocked, too). In the sixth inning, the Yankees scored four runs. In our half of the sixth, JD Drew showed his colors and smoked one of the longest home runs I’ve ever seen. This ball landed in Williamsburg. This ball went over the visiting bullpen wall, over the bullpen itself, past the beginning of the bleachers, and finally landed about ten rows back. That has to be, what, at least 420 feet. Absolutely scorched. It was Drew’s nineteenth of the season, and that’s already eight more than his total for ’07. So much for slowing down once Ortiz took back the No. 3 spot.

Lopez was perfect again, and Hansen issued three walks and allowed three runs. Timlin, ironically, was perfect. Pedroia saw his nine-game hitting streak snap today. Ortiz went two for four, though, and Cash showed that wonderful arm of his, throwing Cano out at second on a steal attempt. And there you have it.

The current situation is that we’re tied with New York in the loss column. Tied with New York. Ugh. And if Tampa Bay wins today we’ll be even further out. Let’s face it; our lineup is excellent. We’re stacked through at least the No. 5 spot. But when our lineup falls asleep, we sink in the standings. One can not live in pitching alone, especially if the race for first place suddenly includes a third-place team that’s just won its eighth game in a row. And Manny isn’t helping the situation. What Manny has done has offended the front office, it’s offended the management, but most of all it’s offended the players. Even John Sterling had to admit that the Boston Red Sox team is comprised of some of the most classiest ballplayers in the game, dirt dogs who play through pain for the good of the group. And when a very prominent member of that group decides to take a day off and essentially toy with the organization and the fans, it’s offensive. It’s very offensive. And it doesn’t exactly score you any positive points.

We need wins. We need wins now. Something in the lineup has to click, and we have to consistently pair runs with quality starts. This is a bleak situation we’re in. We’ve been in worse. But we could be in so much better. The long-term goal? Get to Soxtober and win the World Series. We’ve definitely got the manpower to achieve that. The short term goal? Don’t let New York sweep us in our house.

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