Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

PITCHING THEN & NOW

They don't make 'em like they used to.....

Cleveland Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia won the 2007 A.L. Cy Young Award last week. His biggest edge over his next closest competitor, Josh Beckett, was innings pitched. Sabathia led the Majors with 241 innings.

Gaylord Perry was the last Cleveland Indian to win the Cy Young Award, in 1972. Perry started 40 games (these days most pitchers aspire to 30), had 29 complete games (these days most are lucky to have one or two), went 24-16 with a 1.92 ERA (that's almost unheard of today), and pitched 342 innings (these days most shoot for 200). Perry’s offseason conditioning program consisted of riding a tractor.

What's become of the modern day pitcher? They use sophisticated offseason conditioning programs and yet still need huge, expensive bullpen relief cores behind them. That’s because the majority of them can only pitch six or seven innings on most starts – if they’re lucky. These guys don't even come close to the workloads of their predecessors, such as Gaylord Perry.

Roy Halladay led the Majors with seven complete games this season, while Sabathia and Brandon Webb were tied for second at four apiece.

In fact, no pitcher has reached double digits in complete-games since Scott Erickson had 11 for Baltimore in 1998.

From the 1920's through the mid-‘80's, 20-30 complete games a season were commonplace in baseball. No longer.

Most recently - in 1985 - Bert Blyleven had 24 complete games for Cleveland and Minnesota. And in 1986 Fernando Valenzuela had 20 for the Dodgers. But no pitcher has reached 20 complete games since then, and it's likely that no one ever will again.

But it’s not just complete games that are lacking in today’s game; it’s the number of starts as well.

In the old days teams went with a four-man rotation. The new, five-man rotations lessen the opportunities for each pitcher. But many wonder why modern pitchers can only last five or six innings before giving way to a reliever. The answer, in part, may be that teams see their young pitchers as fragile investments and treat them as such.

Dontrelle Willis was the only pitcher who made 35 starts in 2007, the first time in a non-strike season that multiple pitchers did not make at least 35 starts. And Sabathia’s 241 innings were an enormous workload by today’s standards.

But a generation ago, such workloads were routine. Bert Blyleven, who pitched from 1970-1992, exceeded 35 starts in a season nine times and threw 241 innings or more 12 times — yet led the league in innings just twice and in starts only once. In 1973, Blyleven threw an astounding 325 innings.

Take a look at some Red Sox history. The Sox greats of past generations customarily finished most of the games they started. That is now the rare exception, rather than the rule. The complete game is almost a relic of the past.

They don't make 'em like they used to.....

PITCHER -- STARTS -- COMPLETE GAMES

Cy Young: 297 / 275
Bill Dinneen: 174 / 156
George Winter: 176 / 141
Smokey Joe Wood: 157 / 121
Lefty Grove: 190 / 119
Mel Parnell: 232 / 113
Luis Tiant: 238 / 113
Babe Ruth: 144 / 105

Now compare these “modern” Sox pitchers to those old timers:

Roger Clemens: 382 / 100
Bruce Hurst: 217 / 54
Oil Can Boyd: 145 / 39
Pedro Martinez: 201 / 22
Tim Wakefield: 328 / 22

Part of the blame has to lie with the emphasis on throwing heat. Fastball pitchers who can reach the high 90’s are coveted, and many -- like the Tiger’s Joel Zumaya -- end up throwing their arms out. Shoulder and elbow injuries -- and the subsequent surgeries -- have become commonplace.

The art of pitching seems to have been lost, as young pitchers have been encouraged to try to blow hitters away with the heater.

On the other hand, Greg Maddux has always believed in the value of movement and location above velocity. Maddux has often taken the unorthodox approach of throwing softer when in a jam instead of harder. And it has served him quite well in terms of longevity and effectiveness.

Maddux has thrown at least 200 innings in every season from 1988 through 2006, with the exception of 2002 when he threw 199 1/3. This year he threw 198. Who would argue with the future Hall of Famer?

Throwing softer and truly pitching - instead of hurling - can extend the life of a pitcher. Maddux and fellow forty-something Tom Glavine are prime examples. They're older, but still getting it done.

Both Glavine and Maddux will be back in 2008, fooling batters once again.

Glavine got an $8 million, one-year deal from Atlanta, where he spent the first 16 years of his illustrious career. He declined a one-year, $13 million contract option with the Mets to return to the Braves. Apparently, for Glavine, it's not all about the money. Meanwhile, Maddux signed a $10 million, one-year deal with San Diego.

The interesting note; both will be 42 on, or near, Opening Day and both are 300-game winners.

Glavine, who turns 42 on March 25, went 13-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 200 1/3 innings for the Mets last season. Maddux, who turns 42 on April 14, went 14-11 with a 4.14 ERA last season, his first with San Diego.

Glavine is a five-time 20-game winner, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, and one of just five lefthanders in Major League history to earn 300 career wins.

His counterpart, Maddux, is also among the 23 pitchers to have won at least 300 games. Maddux is currently ninth on the all-time wins list with 347 victories. His list of accomplishments is even more amazing: the first pitcher in Major League history to win the Cy Young Award for four consecutive years (1992-1995); the only pitcher in the Major Leagues to have 20 consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins; the only pitcher in MLB history to win 15 games in 17 consecutive seasons; the winningest pitcher in both the 1990's and 2000's; just the thirteenth member of the 3000 strikeout club and only the ninth pitcher with both 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts.

Pitching coaches at the Little League, high school and college levels, as well as management at the big league level should take notice. They should use Glavine and Maddux examples of longevity and success. This season, Glavine threw 200 1/3 innings at the age of 41, while Maddux threw 198 innings at the same age.

Due to expansion, there are 30 teams today – more than ever before. That means there are also more pitchers than ever before, many of whom wouldn’t have been able to make it to the Big Leagues in decades past. This has weakened the talent pool substantially. With 30 teams having five-man rotations, that means there were at least 150 starting pitchers in the Majors this year – and obviously there were more due to injuries and call ups. Despite this, only 38 pitchers managed to throw at least 200 innings in 2007. This is shameful.

Young pitchers need to forget the heat. They need to work on the craft of pitching. They should learn to use multiple pitches and learn to locate the ball to all four corners of the plate. This will extend careers, extend innings pitched, and diminish the workload on, and necessity of, expensive -- and often useless -- bullpens around the Big Leagues.

Copyright © 2007 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

WHEN LESS IS MORE

WE LIKE MIKE AND MIKE LIKES BOSTON. ACCEPTING THE SOX OFFER SHOULD BE A NO-BRAINER FOR LOWELL.

Everyone loves Mike Lowell. We all do; Red Sox Nation, his teammates, Red Sox management, the media -- everyone loves this guy. Even opposing players like and respect him. Why wouldn't they? And other GM's admire him so much that he will be one of the most highly sought after free agents this off-season.

Lowell is a team guy who took the young players -- like Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury -- under his wing and showed them the Big League way. Lowell is a leader in the clubhouse, in the dugout, and on the field. And he is a winner, owning two World Series rings. He is steady, reliable, and a consummate gentleman. He is everything you want in a ballplayer playing on your team.

But he also a free agent who can now lend his services to the highest bidder. And it is important during a multi-million dollar business negotiation -- which this most certainly is -- not to let emotions get in the way and blind one from making good, sound decisions. That's the position the Red Sox must take, and surely are taking.

Lowell had a career year in 2007 with his .324 average, .378 OBP, and 120 RBI. But he will be 34 on Opening Day, and chances are he will never approach numbers like these ever again.

Now, I'm not implying that Lowell will begin a freefall or a precipitous drop-off in production, but I am suggesting that you've seen the best of him and that he will not approach those prodigious numbers again.

Even Sox' stat guru Bill James foresees a drop-off for Lowell next season that would be more more in line with his career numbers -- .282, 17 HR, 81 RBI.

The Sox have offered Lowell a three-year contract of between $12-$15 million annually, which puts the total package at between $36-$45 million.

But what if some other team -- or teams -- offers a guaranteed fourth year, pushing the contract to somewhere between $48-$60 million?

What should the Red Sox do then? Should they lose their minds and match that offer? Or should good sense and judgment prevail, meaning that the Sox would have to look elsewhere for Lowell's replacement?

Who that successor would be in such a scenario is unclear, but there are many suggestions floating around in the Hot Stove rumor mill.

Miguel Cabrerra is continually mentioned, with the stipulation that the Sox would move Kevin Youkilis back to his original third base position. But Cabrerra won't come cheaply in terms of trade compensation or contract demands. Word is that the Nationals asked for both Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buccholz in return. Yeah, right. Like that's gonna happen.

And there's also the possibility of the Sox continuing their in-house youth movement. Chris Carter, the left-handed hitting Pawtucket first baseman who came to the Sox in the Wily Mo Pena deal, is intriguing. Carter is just 25 and hit 19 home runs with 97 RBI in 136 games for Arizona’s Triple-A Tucson team this season. He appears ready for prime time.

Either move would necessitate shifting Youkilis back to third. But where is the wisdom in moving a 28-year-old who just won his first Gold Glove award to another position?

Joe Crede could be had, but that would represent a downgrade. And it's been rumored that Washington's Ryan Zimmerman could be available, but that would be an expensive move. Zimmerman is a rising star and acquiring him would also cost the Sox someone like Jon Lester or Buccholz in a trade.

Whatever the case may be, the Sox likely won't budge much on their offer to Lowell. They have a history of setting a value on a player and not going over it. That's an example of not letting emotions get in the way of sound judgment, and it's served them well in the cases of Pedro Martinez and Johnny Damon.

If Lowell were to take a lesser offer from the Red Sox, and forgo a larger offer from another team that made a strong push for him, it would reveal just how much he loves Boston, the Red Sox, and their fans. No agent -- who gets a percentage of his client's contract -- would encourage his client to take a lesser offer. Such a decision would be all about Lowell, his priorities and his wishes.

Players like to say that "it's not about the money," when it's almost always about the money. But how much of a difference would a few million dollars make to a guy who is already a multi-millionaire? It won't change the car he drives, the size of the house he lives in, its location, or the type of yacht he cruises around on during the off-season.

Community must count for something. Liking where you live has to factor into the equation, as do the happiness and wishes of a wife and child. Lowell seems to love Boston, and Boston surely loves him. Playing on a reigning World Series champion and perennial contender has to count too.

Making millions of dollars annually, living in Boston, and playing for the Red Sox isn't such a bad deal. There are worse possibilities, aren't there?

And the truth is, Lowell was paid generously -- $9 million, in fact -- for what he did this season. Contracts should be forward looking, not based on what a player did in the past, during his prime. Lowell is not entering his prime. He is either peaking or has done so already. And there is a history of such declines with other great third basemen.

George Brett's production dropped considerably after the age of 36. The same was true of Eddie Mathews, Brooks Robinson and Robin Ventura. Players trail off in their late 30s and the final two years of Lowell's deal have to be of concern.

Let's hope that sanity prevails and that Lowell accepts the Red Sox' generous three-year offer. This is one of those situations that seems to be good for everyone involved.

Yes, this will be the last long-term deal that Lowell will sign, but he has been compensated quite generously in his career and this contract amounts to a considerable pay raise. He and the Red Sox are a perfect fit, and it's likely that greener pastures are not to be found elsewhere.

The Sox are an excellent team with an ideal blend of veterans and youth. They have an excellent management team and farm system, and should contend for the foreseeable future.

This should be a no-brainer for Lowell. A fourth year somewhere else won't amount to a better deal. Staying with the Red Sox is the classic example of less being more.


Copyright © 2007 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

STAY AWAY FROM "THE COOLER"

Signing A-Rod Makes No Sense

Adding Alex Rodriguez to the mix makes no sense for the Red Sox.

Firstly, A-Rod is "The Cooler." Wherever he goes, his teams under-perform. And when he leaves they usually get better.

Case in point; in 2000, his final year with Seattle, the Mariners went 91-71 and finished 2nd in the AL West. The following year, after A-Rod had exited as a free agent, the Mariners had the best record in baseball and won a record-tying 116 games without him.

From A-Rod's rookie season in 1996 -- covering five full years -- the Mariners reached the playoffs twice. They won the AL West in 1997 but were defeated by Baltimore in the ALDS, 3 games to 1. Then they won the Wild Card in 2000, but lost to the Yankees in six games in the ALCS.

During that off-season, A-Rod signed his record-setting free agent contract with the Texas Rangers, joining a team that had finished 4th in the AL West with an inverse 71-91 record to the Mariners 91-71.

With the addition of their high-priced superstar in 2001, Texas improved by a mere two games, going 73-89, once again finishing 4th in the AL West. In 2002, the Rangers again finished in 4th place, going 72-90. And finally, in 2003, the Rangers yet again finished in 4th place, at 71-91.

It should be noted that there are only four teams in the AL West. So, for three consecutive years with A-Rod, the Rangers finished in last place -- exactly where they finished before he joined them in 2000.

Then A-Rod went to the Yankees via trade. And what happened to Texas? They improved by 18 wins that year, going 89-73 -- their first winning campaign in six seasons. And of course, the Yankees never made it to the World Series with A-Rod, despite their rather massive investment.

So how was A-Rod worth a 10-year, $252 million dollar contract? Quite simply, he wasn't. So how does Scott Boras possibly think that his star third baseman is worth even more now? Only he knows. If the uber-agent really is seeking a $350 million contract for his client, there's a good chance that neither the Red Sox, nor anyone else, will enter into serious negotiations with him.

Most teams don't like Boras. And most people don't like A-Rod. The man is a chemistry killer, and chemistry is what helped the Red Sox win each of their last two Championships. There have long been rumors that A-Rod rubs his teammates the wrong way. Derek Jeter tired of his act very quickly in New York, and none of his teammates ever truly rallied to support him when the heat was on. At the least, A-Rod's teammates have to be envious of his enormous contract. What has he done to deserve it? The playoffs are money time and his track record in those critical situations is rather lackluster; 39 games, .279 average, 7 homers, 17 RBI, 38 strike outs.

My bet is that Boras and A-Rod will surprised by the lack of interest at their asking price. They'll have to come down on either the years or the money. The stark reality for "Team A-Rod/Boras" is that only a handful of teams could possibly afford such an exorbitant contract. And it makes you wonder if either the player or agent ever asked himself why anyone of them would eat up such an enormous amount of payroll on one player?

A-Rod is 32. The Red Sox don't want him -- or any other player -- under contract for 10 or 12 years. Who does? For any deal to work out, A-Rod and Boras would have to come down substantially on the contract length, and thereby its overall cost. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal suggested that perhaps the Red Sox can persuade A-Rod to take a shorter deal that would allow him to re-enter the free-agent market just as he is closing in on Barry Bonds' home-run record. Five years, $150 million, plus option years and voidable years might be workable to both sides.

Boras can come with all his charts, graphs and statistics, but one thing is for certain; the Red Sox's revenues can't go much higher by adding A-Rod. There are no more seats to sell. Subscriptions to NESN aren't likely to increase and neither are ratings. If anything, A-Rod will only drain resources and make it that much more difficult to address other needs as they arise.

The Red Sox won two World Series without A-Rod over the last four years, while the Yankees won none with him. Even if his contract demands are dropped considerably, who really wants "The Cooler" on their team?

Copyright © 2007 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

LET THE HOT STOVE BEGIN!!

IT'S TIME TO LOOK AHEAD. AN OFF-SEASON PREVIEW

As good as the 2007 Red Sox were, changes will be made. Some players are past their prime (Curt Schilling), some youngsters cannot be ignored (Jacoby Ellsbury), and some free agents may be too expensive, or require too long of a commitment (Mike Lowell).

Let’s start with Schilling.

Perhaps Schilling saw the writing on the wall at the end of the regular season when he told the Providence Journal that his house in Medfield would be on the market. That signaled he was pretty sure his days in Boston were numbered.

That was a good assumption. These days, Schilling is a five or six inning pitcher – at best. He wants a one-year deal at $13 million, the same figure he made this season. Sure, there is a thin free agent market this year, but despite this Schilling is no longer worth that kind of money.

Over the last three seasons he's 31-23 - an average of 10-8 each year. In that span his ERA is 4.54. He is clearly in decline, and Clay Buchholz will get his spot in the rotation next year.

Schilling knows this, and that’s why he said goodbye to his teammates after the World Series. He'll be elsewhere next season, and that's why his house is for sale.

For what it's worth, Schilling would like to finish his career with the team that drafted him and says the window for negotiating with the Red Sox will be the first 15 days after the World Series. Apparently, he's already begun initial discussions with three teams.

Given the limited free agent pitching options available, (Freddy Garcia, Tom Glavine, Bartolo Colon, Livan Hernandez, Steve Trachsel), Schilling will certainly draw interest. He brings a great resume and has presence on the mound, as well as in the dugout. He could help instill confidence and pitching smarts in a staff of young, inexperienced pitchers. Perhaps he could even help a veteran team.

The question is how much he has left in the tank. His last six regular season starts resulted a 2-3 record. But his 2.79 ERA over that span, combined with strong October performances, virtually guarantees that he'll have suitors.

The soon-to-be 41-year-old righty is 11-2 lifetime in 19 postseason starts, with a 2.23 ERA. He's been a World Series MVP. He's started a Game 7 in the World Series. He's won elimination games and series clinchers. He will forever be remembered for the bloody sock and, especially to Sox fans, for helping to defeat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS and then the Cardinals in the World Series for the team's first Championship in 86 years. For that, all of Red Sox Nation thanks you, Curt, and will be forever grateful.

And then there's the matter of Mike Lowell, one of the most popular players on the team.

Not only was Lowell the World Series MVP, but he was arguably the team's 2007 MVP as well. After career highs in average (.324), on-base percentage (.378) hits (191), and RBI (120), the third baseman is expecting a significant raise.

Lowell will be 34 on opening day and will likely be signing his last long-term deal. He'll be looking for at least a three-year deal and if anyone -- such as the Yankees -- offers four, he may bite.

A fantastic fielder and team leader who speaks both English and Spanish, Lowell will surely attract interest on the open market. However, the Red Sox are hesitant to enter into contract with players past the age of 35.

One possibility; the Sox could offer Lowell a two-year deal with a third year option that automatically vests if certain performance incentives are reached.

For example, if Lowell hits at least .300, has at least 90 RBI, or at least 20 home runs in the second year, the third year is guaranteed. This could make sense for both sides. The Sox aren't concerned so much with having 36-year-old under contract as they in having a declining player under contract. And if Lowell is confident in his abilities, his love for the Red Sox and Fenway Park may keep him in town. Lowell was tailored made for Fenway, hitting 97 points higher, and with twice as many homers, at home as on the road.

Dark horse scenario; Kevin Youkilis moves back to third and Pawtucket first baseman Chris Carter assumes first base. Carter came over in the Wily Mo Pena deal and was in the top five in batting average and top 10 in homers in the Pacific Coast League as a member of the Diamondbacks Triple A affiliate this year. He looks like the real deal.

Expect a new face in center next season. Jacoby Ellsbury batted .360 during the playoffs, third highest on the team. Meanwhile, incumbent center fielder Coco Crisp batted just .188, lowest on the team.

Crisp, who turned 28 on Thursday, had another disappointing year at the plate, batting just .268 with a .330 OBP. During his four years with Cleveland his average improved every year, culminating with a .300 average in his final year – 2005.

Though never a power hitter, his home run total has been halved since joining the Red Sox. And he had a career high in strikeouts this year. All of this points to the obvious; Crisp has been in decline offensively for two consecutive years.

Meanwhile, the scouting reports on Ellsbury have been excellent since he was drafted. He is going to be a star. That means that Coco's days are numbered. The question is this; do the Sox trade him this winter, or at the break next season?

The fact that he hasn't hit a lick in two straight seasons will hurt Crisp’s trade value. However, his stellar defense should earn him a Gold Glove (if there's any justice), and that should fetch a decent return in any trade. Scheduled to make an average of $5.25 million over the next two seasons, Crisp should be viewed as a value by most teams.

Like many teams, the Red Sox also need to address the position of catcher. This is an area of weakness across the minor leagues and internationally.

The Sox need to find someone who can help ease the burden on an aging Jason Varitek in order to help extend the Captain's career, and his effectiveness at season's end. Varitek will be 36 in April and is entering the final year of the four-year contract he signed following the 2004 season.

The 37-year-old Doug Mirabelli is not the answer. Though he effectively catches Tim Wakefield's elusive knuckleball, Mirabelli is older than Varitek and is an offensive liability, hitting just .202 this year -- well below his weight.

The soon-to-be-30-year-old Kevin Cash is younger, but he too is an ineffective hitter. In 176 at-bats in Pawtucket this season, he hit just .176, and then in 12 games with Red Sox just .111.

Knowing this was an area that needed to be addressed, the Sox traded David Wells to San Diego for Triple A catcher George Kottaras in 2006. But the 24-year-old Canadian hit just .241 in nearly 300 at bats and is not a power threat. Clearly he needs more time to develop and doesn't appear to part of the solution for 2008. The Sox will have to look elsewhere for help.

The position of shortstop has been a bit of a merry-go-round for the Red Sox these last few years, going from Nomar, to O-Cab, to Gonzo, to Lugo. Makes you wish the Sox had simply re-signed Orlando Cabrerra after the 2004 season, doesn't it?

Last winter, the Red Sox let shortstop Alex Gozalez walk without even making him a contract offer. After watching him play for just one year, the Sox decided that they wanted to go in a different direction -- namely one that would provide them more offense. So the defensive wizard signed with the Reds and the Sox signed Julio Lugo in his stead.

But things didn't turn out as planned. Lugo largely fizzled at the plate in Boston while Gonzalez thrived in Cincinnati.

Playing in just 110 games, with less than 400 plate appearances, Gonzalez hit 16 homers and 55 RBI, while hitting .272 with a .325 OBP. However, never the speedster, Gonzalez had no stolen bases.

Meanwhile, back in Boston, Lugo was a bit of a mixed bag, hitting just .237 with 8 homers. But he also drove in 73 RBI (more than a certain shortstop who plays for the Yankees) and stole 33 bases, which lead the team.

Lugo was steady and fairly reliable in the field, playing in 147 games and making 19 errors. But the normally sure-handed Gonzalez made 16 errors in far fewer games for the Reds.

Though his contract is hard to figure, or justify, Lugo is merely a stopgap. The Red Sox are grooming one of their top prospects to assume the shortstop position in the not-so-distant future.

Jed Lowrie hit .300 in 160 at-bats for Pawtucket this season, with a .356 OBP. Expect to see him at mid-season or, at the latest, as a September call-up. Lugo is scheduled to make $9 million annually over the next three seasons and will eventually be moved to make room for Lowrie. It's only a matter of when.

Eric Hinske is no longer under contract. Though a versatile fielder, after hitting just .204 this year in limited at-bats, and being a career .255 hitter who's been in decline since winning Rookie of the Year in 2002, it's a safe bet he won't be back.

Bobby Kielty, on the other hand, is a switch hitter who made a name for himself in Boston with his critical home run in Game 4 of the World Series. He could be the fourth outfielder in 2008.

Despite his Grand Slam in Game 6 of the ALCS, many fans would still like to bid farewell to JD Drew and his $14 million per year contract. Don't count on it. Drew's offensive struggles are no secret and there's no market for such an overpaid, underachieving player. Drew had never done anything to warrant such a massive long-term deal in the first place, and this season only diminished his value. The Red Sox would likely have to eat half his salary in any deal -- an unsavory choice. So expect him back next year and hope for something better.

Here's a sobering thought; does anyone doubt that either Jacoby Ellsbury, David Murphy or Brandon Moss couldn’t have matched Drew's 11 home runs, 64 RBI and .270 average this past year? One way or another, it would have come at a far lesser expense.

Tim Wakefield will be back for yet another go-around as the Sox elder statesman. Wakefield will still be pitching when Jon Lester retires someday. Julian Tavarez will also be back. Tavarez is very versatile and is a complete team player. Whatever it takes to win, he'll do it. By all accounts, he is a great and selfless teammate. Mike Timlin, if healthy, can still pitch. He'll be 42 on opening day, but is only called upon to pitch one inning at a time. His sinker still sinks and he is a leader with four World Series rings. The head of the bullpen core will back for one more year.

And finally, as for Alex Rodriguez finally coming to Boston…. don’t hold your breath. My bet is that the market for A-Rod will be thin at Scott Boras’ absurd asking price, and he may be left without a suitor. That price could be as high as $300 million, another all-time high for A-Rod and Boras.

But here’s the problem; seven major league franchises are worth less than $300 million, according to April's Forbes. No player is worth that much – especially one with A-Rod’s playoff resume.

Rodriguez may end up going back to the Yanks and groveling for a contract. Who cares about his MVPs when he's the LVP in the playoffs -- when it really matters. Don’t lose sleep over this one, Sox fans.

So there you have it – some changes that will, and won’t, take place this off-season.

The GM Meetings begin this weekend in Orlando. The Hot Stove is just starting to heat up.

Copyright © 2007 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.