Wednesday, March 30, 2005

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Evan Brunell from Fire Brand of the American League here. I was contacted by Goat Riders who wanted me to write a guest column on why my GM (Theo Epstein) was the best. Well ... I had no problem taking Goat Riders up on the offer, because Theo Epstein is the best, so it didn't take much persuading. A couple Red Sox Opening Day tickets clinched the deal for me, and I agreed to devote my manpower to churning out a column for Goat Riders. (Okay, so I got the tickets on my own, and Goat Riders never helped. Nonetheless, the tickets help give me motivation to write the articles, because no Theo Epstein, no Opening Day tickets to see the World Series banner raised.)

On November 25, 2002, Red Sox baseball changed forever. On that day, Theo Epstein was hired by president Larry Lucchino to take over the GM duties of Red Sox baseball. Dan Duquette had been fired, and Mike Port had served as interim general manager over the 2002 season. The Red Sox courted Billy Beane and agreed to a contract before Beane pulled out at the last minute. He wanted to stay in Oakland. And thus, the wonderboy, the 28-year old Theo Epstein, got his job. Epstein had opened in Baltimore as an intern and got to know Larry Lucchino that way. He moved to San Diego when Lucchino did, and went to law school while working for the Padres. Theo put in unimaginable hours, slaving away day after day to one day reach that pinnacle. He worked so hard he was asked by Lucchino and the new Red Sox owners (point man John Henry and partner Tom Werner) to accompany them to Boston. Just a year later he was running the Boston ballclub, and almost instantly, the Red Sox fans bonded together and created a saying that still reverberates today - "In Theo We Trust."

In Theo we trust, indeed. For in the short span of 23 months and two days, Theo had done what no other general manager in Boston had ever done. He was the first general manager to bring a World Series to Beantown. Oh sure, the Red Sox had a dynasty that ended in 1918, but there were no general managers then, at least not in official name. It's not as if Theo rode the coattails of Duquette and Port to victory. No, this was Theo's team. While I don't have the statistics for last year, I have statistics for this year. Out of the 58 that were in spring training, 42 of the 58 were acquired by Theo Epstein. Granted, there was a lot of player movement throughout this year, which resulted in 23 new members. So let's subtract 23 from each equation. That means that 19 of 35 holdovers were products of Theo Epstein. And as I will show you, they were very important products of Theo Epstein's tenure. And this doesn't include three pivotal people that Theo brought in for 2004 that are gone - Orlando Cabrera, Doug Mientkiewicz, and Dave Roberts.


In Theo We Trust
Theo has become a cult hero in Boston (and loves to play the guitar), and was named Bostonian of the Year (surprise). But what you don't know is that even though Theo is quite famous, he could be even bigger. But he doesn't want to. "As high as his stature is, if he wanted to, it could be so much higher. It would be very easy for him to really cash in. Theo knows that baseball is a business that can humble you in a hurry," says assistant Jed Hoyer.

Speaking of Jed Hoyer, Theo Epstein also made some brilliant moves. He hired not only Bill James and Bill Lajoie (the former a statistical guru and the latter a 70-year old former GM who relies on scouting, not statistics - the man who was the GM of the 1984 World Champion Detroit Tigers) but he surrounded himself with extremely capable lieutenants. Assistant GM Josh Byrnes, Director of Player Development Ben Cherington, Director of Minor League Administration Raquel Ferreria, Assistant GM Jed Hoyer, Director of Baseball Operations Peter Woodfork, Advance Scouting Director Galen Carr, and Coordinator of Major League Administration Brian O'Halloran. As the Globe reports, they are very exceptional (and young) people working for Theo. At least one (Josh Byrnes) and more than likely some more in the above list, will become General Managers eventually.

The only problem is that Theo Epstein is not a fan of the Boston Red Sox. He grew up a fan, and was a fan until November 25, 2002. "I am no longer a fan. I am no longer that kid who was rooting for the Red Sox, and thank God! Because if I were, it would be impossible for me to do my job."

So says the man who traded Nomar Garciaparra and inexplicably received in return a World Series ring.

Below is every single transaction (in chronological order) that Theo Epstein has made during his tenure as Red Sox GM. Sure, he's made mistakes along the way, and he does have one weakness (however, that weakness - the bullpen - can be explained, as will happen below) but he's made more right moves than wrong moves (that Suppan/Sauerbeck deal turned out to be a dud, though). You kind of have to make more right moves than wrong to win a World Series. I'm not covering every single transaction, but I will highlight the ones I want to speak about. And perhaps at the end of this column, you will be inclined to agree with me on two things. Number one, which is not as important as number two: Theo Epstein is the best General Manager in baseball. Number two: In Theo We Trust.

Boston: Claimed RHP Ryan Rupe off waivers from Tampa Bay.
Boston: Named Euclides Rojas bullpen coach.
Boston: Named Jerry Narron bench coach.
Boston: Re-signed free agent RHP Willie Banks to a one-year contract.
Boston: Re-signed free agent RHP Frank Castillo to a one-year contract. Named Josh Byrnes assistant general manager. Named Craig Shipley special assistant to the general manager.
Boston: Released RHP Wayne Gomes.
Boston: Named Lee Thomas special assistant to the general manager.
Boston: Acquired 2B Todd Walker from Cincinnati for Tony Blanco and Josh Thigpen.


Naming Euky Rojas as bullpen coach was the right move. Many viewed (and views) the hiring as an attempt to get Jose Contreras to sign with Boston. We all know what happened with Contreras, and Rojas was the bullpen coach from 2003 and 2004, garnering very high praise and marks from the Boston brass. Players and coaches raved about him, and the Red Sox pulled him off bullpen duties for 2005 and told him they thought so highly of him they were sending him to the minor leagues to be a pitching coach - Boston wanted to groom him to take over as pitching coach. Rojas refused to go to the minors and left the organization. Bill Haselman, also well regarded, will take over as bullpen coach. Haselman filled in for first-base coach Lynn Jones last year when Jones stabbed a screwdriver in his eye, taking him out of commission for weeks after the surgery to repair his vision.

Acquiring Walker for Blanco and Thigpen was also a bold and good move by Theo. Walker immediately went into the starting spot and while he's gone, gave us what we needed for 2003. Walker also enjoyed Boston and still does. All throughout the season I kept finding mentions that he wished he was still in Boston. Can't blame him. Walker had a .283 AVG, .333 OBP, and .428 SLG (heretofore given as AVG/OBP/SLG) for Boston, hitting 13 HRs in 587 AB. A lot was made about his defense, but he's pretty sure-handed - just doesn't have range. Blanco is now in spring training with the Washington Nationals and looks to make the team - not because of talent, but because the GM is Jim Bowden. Blanco is still young (22) but only hit .245/.300/.455 in Double-A in 2004. Thigpen is still stumbling around A-ball. One thing you will notice in all these trades is that the minor leaguers Theo gives up have a propensity to stumble after leaving Boston. (Cubs - beware of Matt Murton falling into this trap.) It can either be pure luck or a great scouting regime, and since the sheer number of minor leaguers stumble, we're going with that it's Theo and Co.'s talent and eye for who will work out.

Boston: Acquired 1B Jeremy Giambi from Philadelphia for RHP Josh Hancock.
Boston: Acquired OF Cesar Crespo from San Diego for minor-league SS Luis Cruz. Selected LHP Javier Lopez from Arizona, LHP Matt White from Cleveland, and OF Adrian Brown from Tampa Bay in the Major League Rule 5 Draft.
Cincinnati: Selected RHP Luke Prokopec from Los Angeles, RHP Blake Williams from St. Louis, and RHP Jerome Gamble from Boston in the Major League Rule 5 Draft. Acquired minor-league RHP Josh Thigpen and 3B Tony Blanco from Boston as the players to be named in the Todd Walker trade.
Detroit: elected LHP Wil Ledezma from Boston in the Major League Rule 5 Draft.


Cesar Crespo (or as we lovingly called him, Cesar Crappo) actually didn't turn out too bad. First off, while Luis Cruz still has some upside, he looks to be going nowhere, so that's a win as Cesar actually helped. Helped may be a strong word, but I digress. Crespo hit decent for AAA and when we needed him to start the season in the bigs, he did. He got 79 AB, a fact that astounds me when I look back on the season. But nonetheless, he got 79 AB and filled in across the diamond, hitting .165/.165/.215 before he was sent down to Triple-A where he did decently enough. Crespo is now with the Pittsburgh organization and at 25, still has a good chance at blossoming into a good utility-man.

Javier Lopez was Theo's first mistake. Lopez's TBC page says this: " In 2003, Javi’s 1.71 home ERA was the lowest in Colorado Rockies history (minimum 25.0 IP), and his .209 batting average allowed at Coors Field is the second lowest in club history." Lopez is a submarine lefty. Yikes. Sure could have used him. We selected him in the Rule 5 draft along with Matt White and Adrian Brown. Brown stayed in the organization in 2003 before moving on. Lopez lost the lefty job to Matt White and so was traded to the Rockies where he put up blanks. He stumbled majorly in 2004 (7.52 ERA) but looks to be back on track in 2004 again. Matt White... in essence, the sooner we forget about him, the better. He was traded to Seattle and in 2004 pitched in AAA for the Indians and Royals. Anytime you have a 6.18 ERA in AAA the year after you were plucked in the Rule 5 draft ... well, somethings wrong. To Theo's credit though, he did try to plug a bullpen hole cheaply. Again, I'm going to go more in depth on this near the end of this transaction log ... which is long. Bear with me.

Moving on, another mistake. Lefty Wil Ledezma was selected by the Detroit Tigers in that Rule 5 draft. To Boston's credit, Ledezma had a 3.80 ERA in 5 GS for A-Augusta and 3 IP for Rookie-GCL. Nonetheless, Wil threw a 5.79 ERA in 34 G - 8 GS for the Tigers that year. In 2004 he hurled for a 2.42 ERA in AAA then was called up and had a 4.39 ERA in 53.1 IP and now has the fifth spot locked up for the Tigers. While Wil certainly wouldn't have made the Red Sox major league squad, it might have been a good idea to put him on the 40-man so he wouldn't be selected. In fairness to Theo, though, I have no idea what the 40-man roster was like at the time and most likely we had no room to put him on.


Mike Timlin
Boston: Signed free agent RHP Mike Timlin and SS Damian Jackson to one-year contracts.
Boston: Declined to tender a contract to 1B Brian Daubach.
Boston: Announced that RHP Rolando Arrojo refused assignment and opted for free agency.
Boston: Added RHP Mike Timlin to the roster. Signed free agent RHP Chad Fox to a one-year contract.
Boston: Signed free agent RHP Ramiro Mendoza to a two-year contract.


Mike Timlin was signed after coming off a strong year for the Cardinals/Phillies. He was involved in the Scott Rolen trade and for the year had a 2.98 ERA in 96.7 IP. He was a big cog for us in 2003, taking up the slack in the beleaguered closer-by-committee experiment gone awry that was solved with the acquisition of Byung-Hyun (BK) Kim. In 83.2 IP, Timlin had a 3.55 ERA for the Sox. In 2004, he logged a 4.13 ERA in 76.1 IP while shuttling from middle reliever to setup man. Timlin was a vitally important acquisition, as he now is the leader of the bullpen. The Globe report has the story.

"I know Foulkey's our closer," Francona said, referring to Keith Foulke, "but this has been Timlin's bullpen. He kind of leads that bullpen. He'll take the ball any day you give it to him, even when he shouldn't. You have to be careful of that, but it's also a real compliment for a guy when I say that."


"I think guys respect Mike for what he's done," said Matt Mantei, a newcomer to the Sox pen. "He's been around a long time, and he's a hard worker. He takes charge. He tries to watch me throw every time I throw a bullpen, and tries to help out as much as he can. He's a guy who knows what he's doing, knows what he's talking about."

For a pitcher who works in roughly half the games the Sox play in a given season -- 72 in 2003, his first season in Boston, and a career-high 76 last year -- Timlin doesn't draw that much attention to himself, beyond the odd T-shirt controversy (baseball's fashion police objected to him wearing camouflage under his uniform jersey) and the rare cap inspection (Yankees manager Joe Torre had him inspected during the 2003 playoffs, to see if he might be doctoring the ball, a bit of gamesmanship that failed miserably).


"They said he had no guts in Baltimore," a veteran major league scout said here yesterday. "Nobody in Boston says that, do they?"


Damian Jackson played for Beantown in 2003, having a rather unimpressive .261/.294/.323 line in 161 AB. However, this fact is overlooked: he appeared in 109 games. So he sure did have value, and he was the person that roamed the field for Boston, utility-man extraodinaire, and he worked out rather well. Okay, so Johnny Damon disagrees. My statement still stands.

Ramiro Mendoza. His third mistake, again the bullpen. Signing him to a 2-year, $10 million contract and he put up a 6.75 ERA in 66.2 IP in 2003. He had a lot of injury trouble, and again in 2004 although he did rebound somewhat for us in 2004 - a 3.52 ERA in 30.2 IP which was mostly garbage time. This wouldn't be the first time a lucrative contract to a reliever would backfire on him. Fortunately, the most lucrative contract of the bullpen did not backfire, but one more did. BK Kim. We'll talk about him later.

Boston: Named Ron Jackson hitting coach.
Boston: Named Dallas Williams first base coach.
Boston: Claimed 1B Kevin Millar off waivers from Florida. Signed free agent 3B Bill Mueller to a two-year contract with a club option for 2005.
Boston: Announced that OF Kevin Millar refused assignment and opted for free agency.
Boston: Claimed 1B Earl Snyder off waivers from Cleveland.
Boston: Signed free agent 1B David Ortiz to a one-year contract.
Boston: Signed C/1B Dave Nilsson to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training. Designated 1B Earl Snyder for assignment. Signed free agent RHP Hector Almonte to a one-year contract.
Boston: Outrighted 1B Earl Snyder to AAA-Pawtucket and invited him to spring training.
Boston: Designated RHP Juan Pena for assignment. Claimed RHP Bronson Arroyo off waivers from Pittsburgh.
Boston: Acquired 1B Kevin Millar from Florida from cash considerations. Announced the retirement of C Dave Nilsson.
Boston: Re-signed 1B Kevin Millar to a two-year contract.


Not much to say about Ron Jackson but this: The Red Sox have led the major leagues in offense in 2003 and 2004. Ron Jackson was hired for the 2003 season. End of story.

Kevin Millar really helped loosen the clubhouse up. After the infractious 2001 season, the Sox clubhouse warily went through 2002 until Millar arrived on the scene, all loosey-goosey and thrilled to be a Red Sox. 25 HRs and a .276/.348/.472 line later, Boston had found it's first-baseman. 2004 was rough for him because he stumbled through a bad first-half and people started calling for his head, also saying he couldn't play defense. He's not a Gold Glover, but he's not horrible. He actually ended up with a better line than 2003 - .297/.383/.474, but in Boston, that's not good enough when you're ice-cold both seasons for one half. (He was ice-cold the second half in 2003, the first in 2004.) Millar's 2005 option automatically vested in May, so he's back for another year. If he does good, he'll probably resign. If not, the Sox will look elsewhere. Whatever happens, this ranks among Theo's finest, if solely for the clubhouse presence.


Bronson Arroyo
As for Bronson Arroyo, the 2005 Fire Brand of the American League, I can't say enough about this guy. Arroyo's minor league statistics always had hope, but finally ran out of time with the Pirates who waived him. The Red Sox snapped him up and he had a 3.43 ERA season for AAA-Pawtucket, throwing a perfect game. He was called up in September and did so well relieving (2.08 ERA in 6 G, 17.1 IP) that he made the postseason roster. He did great against New York and came in 2004 fighting with a rotation spot for BK Kim. Arroyo lost that battle, but won it in the end when Kim imploded. He only gave us the 10th best ERA in the AL - 4.03, starting 29 games for 178.2 IP. Baseball Prospectus loves Arroyo saying that "Wade Miller’s inability to open the season means that a bad idea involving Bronson Arroyo—the Sox third-best starter last year—won’t be implemented. He’ll open the year in the rotation and deserves to stay there all season. He could make the All-Star team and put up an ERA in the low 3.00s for the season. I expect him to be one of the ten best starters in what is suddenly a pitching-thin league." I completely agree with this assessment - Arroyo has a ton of upside and is only entering his age 28-season. Arroyo needs to pitch brilliantly in April to keep the rotation spot over Wakefield because Wade Miller will return in early May to make 28 starts.

Boston: Signed free agent RHP Robert Person to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training.

Boston: Released RHP Juan Pena.
Cincinnati: Returned RHP Jerome Gamble to Boston.
Cincinnati: Placed RHP Luke Prokopec on the 60-day DL. Claimed 1B Dernell Stenson off waivers from Boston.
Boston: Optioned LHP Jorge de la Rosa, RHP Anastacio Martinez, 2B Cesar Crespo, and SSs Freddy Sanchez and Angel Santos to AAA-Pawtucket. Re-assigned RHP Hansel Izquierdo and 3B Kevin Youkilis to minor-league camp.
Boston: Released RHP Willie Banks and OF Benny Agbayani.
Boston: Optioned RHP Andy Shibilo to AAA-Pawtucket. Re-assigned LHP Kevin Tolar and RHPs Tom Davey, Kris Foster, and Justin Kaye to minor-league camp.
Colorado: Placed SS Juan Uribe on the 60-day DL. Acquired LHP Javier Lopez from Boston for a player to be named or cash considerations.


We covered this mistake. The player to be named later was Ryan Cameron who juuuust might see the inside of a big-league clubhouse one day (one of those people who pitches 3 innings in July and then is never heard from again) but it's doubtful.

Boston: Purchased the contract of RHP Robert Person from AAA-Pawtucket. Re-assigned 1Bs Earl Snyder and Julio Zuleta and SS Lou Collier to minor-league camp.
Boston: Optioned RHP Ryan Rupe to AAA-Pawtucket. Re-assigned C Jeff Smith to minor-league camp.
San Diego: Claimed SS Lou Merloni off waivers from Boston.
Boston: Released RHP Frank Castillo. Offered OF Adrian Brown back to Tampa Bay.
Boston: Claimed RHP Dicky Gonzalez off waivers from Montreal. Placed LHP Matt White on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 19, with a right oblique strain. Placed RHP Robert Person on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 26, with a right elbow injury. Outrighted RHPs Hector Almonte and Bronson Arroyo to AAA-Pawtucket. Re-assigned C Chris Coste to minor-league camp.
Boston: Acquired RHP Ryan Cameron from Colorado as the player to be named in the Javier Lopez trade and optioned him to AAA-Pawtucket. Re-assigned RHP Jason Shiell to minor-league camp.
Boston: Designated RHP Dicky Gonzalez for assignment. Purchased the contract of RHP Steve Woodard from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Outrighted RHP Dicky Gonzalez to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Exercised their 2004 option on RHP Pedro Martinez.


Pedro Martinez was raising a big stink via the media in early 2003 about his option not being picked up for 2004. The option, $17.5 million, would have made him the highest-paid pitcher in history, and Pedro needed his respect or he was walking. After weeks of agonizing, Pedro's option was picked up. Considering Pedro went 14-4 with a 2.22 ERA for Boston (29 GS) in 2003 then 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA en route to helping the Sox win the World Series, I've gotta say this is a pretty good move. Also, the Red Sox were able to afford this $17.5 million price tag thanks to steals like David Ortiz, Bronson Arroyo, etc. Theo also made the right (but agonizing) move of letting Pedro walk to New York ... his age, his 3.90 ERA, and his money demands just couldn't be justified. Nonetheless, the right move at the time.

Boston: Placed LHP Alan Embree on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 9, with a left shoulder tendinitis. Purchased the contract of LHP Kevin Tolar from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Optioned RHP Bobby Howry to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Purchased the contract of RHP Jason Shiell from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Acquired RHP Michael Nicolas from Milwaukee for a player to be named and optioned him to AA-Portland.
Boston: Placed RHP Chad Fox on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique muscle.
Boston: Activated LHP Alan Embree from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Claimed LHP Bruce Chen off waivers from Houston.
Boston: Optioned LHP Kevin Tolar to AAA-Pawtucket. Outrighted SS Angel Santos to AAA-Pawtucket. Added LHP Bruce Chen to the roster.
Boston: Optioned RHP Steve Woodard to AAA-Pawtucket. Activated RHP Robert Person from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Optioned RHP Jason Shiell to AAA-Pawtucket. Purchased the contract of RHP Rudy Seanez from Pawtucket.
Boston: Placed RHP Pedro Martinez on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 16, with a strained muscle in his lower back.
Boston: Activated LHP Matt White from the 15-day DL.
Arizona: Acquired 3B Shea Hillenbrand from Boston for RHP Byung-Hyun Kim.


Bill Mueller was playing well, and he and Shea were fighting for time. So how did the trade work out? Well, Hillenbrand left and was the best hitter on the Diamondbacks last year. That tells you how bad Hillenbrand was. If he was on the Red Sox this year, he's a bench player. Mueller went on to win the batting title and became a fan favorite with steady defense, good pop, and a better OBP than Hillenbrand. For example, last year, Mueller went .283/.365/.446. In a hitter's park last year, Hillenbrand hit .310/.348/.464. A little better SLG, but in 2003, Mueller hit .326/.398/.540. Either way, that's a win-win.


Byung-Hyun Kim
As for Kim, a lot of people look at 2005 so far and 2004 and point to this as a crappy trade. What they don't realize is much like the Nomar trade in 2004, the Kim trade stabilized the Red Sox and pointed them to the playoffs. Kim started five games, relieved in 49 for 79.1 IP and a 3.18 ERA with 16 SV. Yes, he stumbled in September and October, which hurt. But May to August? He saved the season and righted the bullpen, period. Theo rewarded him with a lucrative $12 million, two year contract to start. Kim started out decent enough and promising, but a mysterious dip in velocity has robbed him of any value. He can still make an okay reliever, but right now, he's only a 11th or 12th man bullpen guy - certainly not with $6 million. No one can figure out the loss of velocity, so it's hard to place the blame on Theo. However, it did happen under his watch and this is the second time he's handed a lucrative contract to a reliever who flamed out. Not an accident, so mark that as a strike against Theo. Fortunately, it didn't come back and bite us in 2004 and won't in 2005, and this might actually end up to be a good thing. More on that near the end of the column.

Boston: Recalled 3B Freddy Sanchez from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Designated LHP Bruce Chen for assignment. Added RHP Byung-Hyun Kim to the roster.
Boston: Designated LHP Matt White for assignment. Purchased the contract of RHP Hector Almonte from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Outrighted LHP Bruce Chen to AAA-Pawtucket.
Seattle: Designated OF Cristian Guerrero for assignment. Acquired LHP Matt White from Boston for minor-league OF Sheldon Fulse.
Boston: Announced that pitching coach Tony Cloninger was taking medical leave from the team.
Boston: Named Dave Wallace interim pitching coach.
Boston: Placed LHP Casey Fossum on the 15-day DL, retroactive to June 8, with left shoulder tendinitis. Placed RHP Robert Person on the 15-day DL, retroactive to June 8, with right hip inflammation. Recalled RHP Jason Shiell from AAA-Pawtucket. Activated RHP Pedro Martinez from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Placed RHP Ramiro Mendoza on the 15-day DL with right knee tendinitis. Recalled RHP Ryan Rupe from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Signed OF Gabe Kapler to a minor-league contract.
Boston: Placed 1B Jeremy Giambi on the 15-day DL with left shoulder bursitis. Purchased the contract of OF Gabe Kapler from AA-Portland.


Tony Cloniger, whether he was effective or not, was hated by Red Sox fans. They viewed him as Grady Little's drinking buddy and thought he was useless to the organization. I'm not an expert enough to say my opinion on the trade, but the hiring of Dave Wallace quieted the people down. Wallace is not a great pitching coach in my opinion. He's no Joe Kerrigan, Bud Black, certainly no Leo Mazzone. Personally, I feel they could do better with him but Red Sox fans have no problem with him, the organization likes him (it was obvious Tony was there because of Grady, not the organization) and so it worked out.

Did you know Gabe Kapler is really popular among Red Sox mates?

"Right now, this whole team -- no disrespect to other players on this team -- but just from a friend standpoint, everybody misses Kapler. I hear it almost daily: `Hey, I wish Kapler was here.' Everybody on this team loved Kapler. It's hard to look forward, but I just hope when he comes back from Japan he comes back here. Everybody says that."


Kapler arrived in Boston with a bang - "He made a sensational debut with the BoSox on June 28, going 4-5 with three RBI against the Florida Marlins. In his second start, Kapler continued his torrid hitting, going 3-4 with two HR, three runs scored and four RBI."

He instantly became a fan favorite due to his hitting, his attitude (very humble) and all-out play. He resigned with the Red Sox for a mere pittance just to play for them. In 2003 he made $3.425 million. In 2004 he resigned for $750,000. He made it clear this was the only year he would do this, and played his heart out to 290 AB. Kapler hit .272/.311/.390 in backup/platoon duty and got his payday, getting a one-year contract for $2.7 million from the Yomuri Giants of Japan. A great move by the BoSox here.

Boston: Designated RHP Rudy Seanez for assignment. Activated RHP Chad Fox from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Designated RHP Hector Almonte for assignment. Signed free agent RHP Todd Jones to a one-year contract.
Boston: Claimed LHP Bryan Hebson off waivers from Montreal and optioned him to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Optioned RHP Jason Shiell and 3B Freddy Sanchez to AAA-Pawtucket. Activated LHP Casey Fossum and 1B Jeremy Giambi from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Acquired LHPs Mike Gonzalez and Scott Sauerbeck from Pittsburgh for RHPs Brandon Lyon and Anastacio Martinez. Optioned LHP Mike Gonzalez to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Optioned LHP Casey Fossum to AAA-Pawtucket. Released RHP Mike Nicolas. Purchased the contract of OF Lou Collier from Pawtucket.
Boston: Acquired RHP Scott Williamson from Cincinnati for minor-league LHP Phil Dumatrait, a player to be named, and cash considerations.
Boston: Released RHP Chad Fox. Recalled RHP Jason Shiell from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Acquired RHPs Brandon Lyon, Anastacio Martinez, and Jeff Suppan from Pittsburgh for LHP Mike Gonzalez, 3B Freddy Sanchez, and cash considerations. Optioned Martinez to AAA-Pawtucket.


This trade, while it ended up good, could have been much better if we had kept Mike Gonzalez (drat!). The initial trade breakdown first. Not only did we get a good young left hander, but we got a situational lefty for the big leagues for a righty the BoSox weren't high on for some reason (even though I was) and this made Lyon expendable. The Pirates also got A-Mart, who is just a borderline reliever. He was waived this past week by the BoSox to be sent to AAA. As of this writing, no one has claimed him yet. If this trade stood, this is an unbelievable trade by the Red Sox. Unbelievable. Kudos go to Theo here. One problem is that Lyon was injured. The organization said they sent over all the medical records, the Pirates looked at them and gave it a go. I believe it - just a freak accident. So the trade had to be reworked. The trade was essentially reset and started all over again so the new trade looked like this: Jeff Suppan and Scott Sauerbeck for Freddy Sanchez. That's it. No matter how bad Suppan and Sauerbeck imploded after that trade, that is a trade you do again in a heartbeat given the circumstances at the time. An AAA infielder never to be an All-Star, projected to be a utility man for someone who went 10-7 with a 3.57 ERA for the PIRATES and a good lefty reliever? You do it. Suppan just can't pitch in the AL that's all, and Sauerbeck had his share of injury woes. Great, great, sensational trade - both of them.


Scott Williamson (Varitek the catcher)
The Scott Williamson trade was another great one. Williamson pitched lousy for the Sox after coming over, but was lights-out in the playoffs and lights-out in 2004 before having to have his second Tommy John surgery, which takes a miracle to come back from. Dumatrait? Good prospect, but has not touched AA - and he's 24. He was hurt in 2004, but nonetheless. Another stud trade by Theo, which is nothing new.

Boston: Optioned RHP Jason Shiell to AAA-Pawtucket. Added RHP Scott Williamson to the roster.
Boston: Designated OF Lou Collier for assignment. Added RHP Jeff Suppan to the roster.
Boston: Placed OF Jeremy Giambi on the 15-day DL with left shoulder tendinitis. Claimed OF Dave McCarty off waivers from Oakland.
Boston: Outrighted OF Lou Collier to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Placed RHP Ramiro Mendoza on the 15-day DL with right knee tendinitis. Recalled LHP Casey Fossum from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Optioned LHP Casey Fossum to AAA-Pawtucket. Recalled RHP Bobby Howry from Pawtucket and placed him on the 60-day DL. Purchased the contract of RHP Bronson Arroyo from Pawtucket.
Boston: Acquired SS Lou Merloni from San Diego for minor-league RHP Rene Miniel.
Boston: Optioned RHP Todd Jones to A-Augusta. Transferred RHP Robert Person from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. Added SS Lou Merloni to the roster.
Boston: Activated RHP Brandon Lyon from the 15-day DL. Recalled LHP Casey Fossum from AAA-Pawtucket. Designated RHP Andy Shibilo for assignment. Purchased the contract of C Bill Haselman from Pawtucket.
Boston: Recalled RHP Todd Jones from A-Augusta. Designated RHP Ryan Cameron for assignment. Purchased the contract of OF Andy Abad from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Activated RHP Ramiro Mendoza from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Outrighted RHP Andy Shibilo to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Outrighted RHP Ryan Cameron to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Designated RHP Steve Woodard for assignment. Purchased the contract of OF Adrian Brown from AAA-Pawtucket
Boston: Outrighted RHP Steve Woodard to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Purchased the contract of RHP Jamie Brown from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Declined to exercise their 2004 option on manager Grady Little. Declined to exercise their 2004 option on RHP Jeff Suppan.


We know why recalling Arroyo was a good move. We know why declining to exercise Suppan's '04 option was a good thing.

Do you know why not renewing Little's contract was a good thing?

We all know his blowup with Pedro. But the guy couldn't manager. He just couldn't. He was there to keep the players happy. I don't want to spend a lot of time on Grady Little, but he was incompetent. Everyone knew it, and the Red Sox organization knew it. Little couldn't manage a pitching staff and just didn't understand the tactics behind the game. Let's move on.

Boston: Exercised their 2004 option on RHP Derek Lowe.
Boston: Re-signed free agent RHP Mike Timlin to a one-year contract with a club option for 2005. Signed OF Adam Hyzdu to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training.

Boston: Purchased the contracts of C Andy Dominique and 3B Kevin Youkilis from AAA-Pawtucket. Purchased the contract of RHP Jerome Gamble from AA-Portland. Outrighted 2B Cesar Crespo to AAA-Pawtucket. Signed free agent LHP Tim Hamulack to a one-year contract. Claimed LHP Phil Seibel and RHP Edwin Almonte off waivers from New York (NL).
Boston: Acquired RHP Curt Schilling from Arizona for LHPs Jorge de la Rosa and Casey Fossum, RHP Brandon Lyon, and Michael Goss. Signed Schilling to a two-year contract extension with a mutual option for 2007.


We know why Timlin re-signing was good. But the Derek Lowe move was also good even though it backfired. Well - no, it didn't backfired. He earned his paycheck, getting a W in the ALDS, ALCS, and WS clinchers. Lowe in 2002 had a 2.58 ERA and even though slipped to a 4.47 ERA in 2003 still had plenty of promise, so the Sox took a chance. A 5.42 ERA later, we waved goodbye to him as he left for LA. It also didn't help that Lowe wanted to be rolling in cash.


Curt Schilling
Curt Schilling, love or hate the fact that he talks a lot (I personally don't hold it against someone that he likes the publicity and the fact that people want to hear what he says ... a lot of people would) quite simply won us a World Series. He took over the ace mantle the year Pedro finally slipped and carried it to a 3.26 ERA and a 21-6 record. We all know his Bloody Sock image, so we won't go over it, but it takes a special kind of man to gut through that, and still pitch brilliantly. We got Curt Schilling, a 21-game winner, and a World Series for ... Jorge de la Rosa who is since with the Brewers and has the most potential. His ceiling however is that of a good lefty reliever. Not hard to find. Brandon Lyon was hurt, and will rebound and while I still like him, is a middling reliever. Not hard to find. Michael Goss - if you haven't heard the name before, don't worry, you never will. Another masterful trade.

Schilling will remain a Red Sox in 2005 and 2006 at which point he will most likely retire. He has a real shot at the Hall of Fame, and if he wins one or two more World Series, he will go in as a Red Sox. If not, probably a Phillie, but I'm not too concerned about it. The absolute bottom-line is the second biggest move Theo made to get us a Series was Curt Schilling - and this move was the precursor to it all. The Nomar trade got us the World Series, the Schilling trade got us on the path to the World Series.

Boston: Named Terry Francona manager.
Boston: Re-signed free agent 1B Dave McCarty to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training.
Boston: Claimed LHP Mark Malaska off waivers from Tampa Bay.
Boston: Signed SS Luis Soto to a minor-league contract.
Boston: Signed free agent RHP Keith Foulke to a three-year contract with a mutual option for 2007.
Boston: Selected LHP Lenny Dinardo from New York (NL) and RHP Colter Bean from New York (AL) in the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
Boston: Acquired 2B Mark Bellhorn from Colorado for a player to be named.
Boston: Re-signed C Doug Mirabelli to a one-year contract. Declined to tender a contract to LHP Scott Sauerbeck, RHPs Edwin Almonte and Jason Shiell, 2B Damian Jackson, SS Lou Merloni, and OF Gabe Kapler.

Boston: Re-signed free agent OF Gabe Kapler to a one-year contract.
Boston: Signed free agent 2B Pokey Reese to a one-year contract. Re-signed free agent RHPs Ed Almonte and Jason Shiell to a one-year contract.


A very busy section of transactions. The first was the hiring of Terry Francona. Red Sox Nation was pretty pleased about this hiring (although most of them started unfairly hating him throughout the season, but they don't anymore - I wonder why...) because Francona seemed to have a good mix of a brain and clubhouse persona.

Throughout the year, Tito (his nickname) was pretty steady. A lot of criticism of third-base Dale Sveum took hold for most of the season, while Francona was relatively anonymous until out of nowhere, people started hating on him and calling him "Francoma". I'd love to explain to you why, but I can't. I liked Francona for most of the season, except for one specific section, but that was only one game. In the playoffs, he became alive and more confident in himself. He out-managed Mike Scioscia, then blew Joe Torre out of the water in the ALCS (especially in Games 4, 5, and 6) and grounded Tony LaRussa into dust in the World Series. He yanked pitchers at the right time, brought in the right ones, the list goes on. Francona got a lot of respect and he comes back knowing the team, the organization, and for the most part the fans, are behind him. Francona has a shot to be the Sox manager for a very long time.

Mark Malaska was claimed off waivers a few days later and he had been a September call up by the Devil Rays posting a 2.81 ERA in 16 IP. Devil Ray faithful were livid at the move, and Red Sox fans were pleased. In 2004, Malaska bounced up and down from the Red Sox to the PawSox, and for the Red Sox saw 20 IP of 4.50 action. The 26-year old figures to do the same again this year and perhaps could claim a spot for the 2006 bullpen as both John Halama and Alan Embree will be free agents.

Then, the signing of Keith Foulke. After having wooed Foulke for weeks, he enticed Foulke away from Oakland for just a bit more money than Oakland offers. Disgruntled A's fans point to this monetary difference as the reason for leaving, but Foulke has maintained from Day One that he left because the Red Sox made him feel more wanted, and he wanted a chance at making history. Not only did he help make history, he is the seminal image of that historic moment. A pretty good deal for Foulke, and for the Red Sox who reveled in Foulke's mastery all season long. He pitched three innings in ALCS Game Four. How can you not like someone who racks up 32 SV in 83.0 IP with a 2.17 ERA? Not only that, but Foulke had the highest Saves per Inning Pitched (click here to read more about SIP) in 2004.

Theo continues his remarkable run of good fortune, claiming Lenny DiNardo off the Rule 5 Draft who actually turned into something. DiNardo had 27.2 IP pitched as a Red Sox, throwing a 4.23 ERA and looks really promising. He was hurt for a majority of 2004 and is going to head to Pawtucket this year to be stretched out as a starter. He'll see the majors again this year and could eventually team up with Mark Malaska in 2006 and beyond to be the lefties out of the Sox bullpen. Another cheap bullpen addition.

Mark Bellhorn was acquired from Colorado in a relative pittance, and I wasn't sure what to make of Bellhorn. Well, a .264/.373/.444 season and 17 HRs later, I know what to make of Bellhorn - a very good offensive hitter (he strikes out too much, but Bellhorn apologists say it's better than grounding into a double play - true) who was absolutely insane when it came with Runnings in Scoring Position. If he wasn't the best clutch hitter in 2004, he HAD to be among the top of them. Because his 2003 season was such a disappointment after his breakout 2002 season with the Chicago Cubs, I'm not getting excited about him this year, but the potential is there.


Doug Mirabelli
Doug Mirabelli was acquired in 2001 when Jason Varitek went down with an injury, putting him out for the rest of the year. Ever since then, Mirabelli has become one of the best backups in the major leagues and has played himself into a start at least once a week, catching Tim Wakefield. As we saw in the postseason, Varitek had a rough time catching Varitek, because he had not caught him a lot for two years. That's Mirabelli's job, and this past year, Mirabelli hit .281/.368/.525 in the easiest season for him - the first time he truly wasn't fighting for starts. He knew he was starting every Tim Wakefield game, and was going to backup other games and this benefited him greatly. In three and a half seasons with the Red Sox, 'Belli has had no less than 141 AB, and has averaged over 160 AB in three out of the four seasons total he spent as a member of the Red Sox. Doug also has a good attitude and is a fan favorite, especially when he pops one over the Green Monster.

Pokey for President! Brought in to start at second base, injuries and the emergence of Mark Bellhorn necessitated him to move over to shortstop until Bellhorn got hurt and our SS position was set. He moved back to 2B, then became a utility guy. In 244 AB, Pokey hit .221/.271/.303 and made two sensational catches over the course of the season. The first one was an amazing leaping catch against the Dodgers (did you know the hitter was Dave Roberts?) and really made everyone's jaw drop.

The second one he got robbed of being seen as excellence. It was in the game where Derek Jeter ranged to his right to catch a flare in right field in fair territory and then (I don't say this because I'm a Red Sox fan - I say this because it is so OBVIOUS in the replay) launches himself into the stands, in the section that jutted out close to fair territory. Was it a good catch? Yes. Is it overrated? Yes, especially considering Pokey had a better catch. Judge for yourself here (July 1, Pokey Goes Into The Stands), but here's my take. Lofton sends a foul-ball flare right where the stands jut out close to fair territory, where Jeter launches himself. Pokey runs full tilt to the foul territory, catches the ball in a basket catch (IN FOUL TERRITORY, NOT FAIR) right at the stands, falling into the stands. I'm sorry, but that's one hell of a catch.

Boston: Announced that third base coach Mike Cubbage would not return for 2004.
Boston: Claimed C Michel Hernandez off waivers from New York (AL).
Boston: Named Lynn Jones first base coach, Dave Wallace pitching coach, and Brad Mills bench coach.
Boston: Signed free agent LHP Nick Bierbrodt to a one-year contract.
Boston: Re-signed RHP Scott Williamson to a one-year contract.
Boston: Signed free agent OF Terry Shumpert to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training.
Boston: Re-signed RHP Byung-Hyun Kim and OF Trot Nixon to one-year contracts.
Boston: Signed free agent SS Tony Womack to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training.
Boston: Claimed LHP Reynaldo Garcia off waivers from Texas.
Boston: Re-signed 1B David Ortiz to a one-year contract. Named Dale Sveum third base coach.
Boston: Signed free agent DH Ellis Burks to a one-year contract.

Boston: Re-signed OF Trot Nixon to a three-year contract. Signed LHP Ed Yarnall, RHP Paul Rigdon, and SS Jesus Medrano to minor-league contracts and invited them to spring training. Invited Cs Jeff Bailey and Kelly Shoppach to spring training.
Boston: Announced the resignation of director of media relations Kevin Shea.
Boston: Optioned RHP Bryan Hebson to AAA-Pawtucket. Re-assigned LHP Ed Yarnall, RHP Paul Rigdon, C Jeff Bailey, and SS Jesus Medrano to minor-league camp.
Boston: Returned RHP Colter Bean to New York (AL). Claimed LHP Frank Brooks off waivers from Oakland.
Boston: Optioned LHP Phil Seibel, RHP Edwin Almonte, and 3B Kevin Youkilis to AAA-Pawtucket. Optioned RHP Jerome Gamble to AA-Portland. Outrighted LHP Nick Bierbrodt to Pawtucket. Re-assigned C Kelly Shoppach and OF Jeremy Owens to minor-league camp.


We know why resigning Scott Williamson was a great move. He only gave us a ridiculous 1.26 ERA, 3.45 H/9, 0.00 HR/9, and a 1.01 WHIP in 28.2 IP.

But not only that, Byung-Hyun Kim was resigned to $12 million over two years. That's been covered, I'm not covering it again. I want to talk about Trot Nixon. Resigning him to 3-years at 19.5 million was a good deal, for he had just come off a .306/.396/.578 (28 HR and 87 RBI, all with missing September!) season. He showed up at Spring Training with a back injury because he drove all the way from his home to Florida for Spring Training. After experiencing trouble with his quad also, he finished with 149 AB, at .315/.377/.510 and was a strong contributor in the playoffs.

Not only do we have him now for this year and next year, but it locked up one of the Big Free Agents that were going to become free agents after the season, a group that included David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe ... not only did it take one of the people away from contract negotiation headaches, it sent a signal to the team that they believed in Trot Nixon and were going to sign people they wanted to keep and who wanted to stay to very fair contracts. Nixon is the longest tenured Red Sox player in the organization, and many view him as the "original" 'Dirt Dog' of a team comprised of Dirt Dogs.

David Ortiz was also resigned to a contract and later would be inked to a two-year contract (with an option for a third) worth a total of $19.25 million over three years. In other words. David Ortiz, the best hitter on the team a) resigned for lower guaranteed years and total cash less than Trot Nixon and b) signed a total contract less than what Manny Ramirez makes in a year. Wow.


Big Papi, David Ortiz
David Ortiz only hit .301/.380/.603 with 139 RBI and 41 HR to go along with 47 RBI. Manny's year was worse. Trot Nixon was out for most of the year. That tells you how much David Ortiz likes this team and how much he values loyalty. Ortiz is another one of those sunny guys that helped transform the clubhouse and after he finally became a starter in May of 2003 (following the Hillenbrand trade) started mashing home runs and showing his true genial self. Ortiz is truly one of the good men in baseball and his offense sure doesn't hurt. His defense is also quite underrated. The Baseball Musings Fielding Charts help tell the story, as David Ortiz's charts show that Ortiz actually fielded MORE ground balls than he should have. The only thing he lacks in was line drives, but was better in grounders and the same in bunts and fly balls. Plus, he threw out Jeff Suppan at third in the World Series. (That was tongue-in-cheek.)

Claiming, and signing, David Ortiz was one of, and possibly the most, brilliant move by Theo Epstein.

Ellis Burks was signed and was hurt most of the year, and ended up with 33 AB. However, Burks remained in the clubhouse and was a great veteran presence who helped keep the clubhouse together and give advice. He came back to Boston to end his career, from whence he had started. In late September, he returned and got a pinch-hit to raucous cheers and then was paid homage at the final regular season game at Fenway Park for 2004. This was another low-risk, high-reward signing by Theo, and while Burks didn't turn out as expected offensively, he was very valuable in the clubhouse. Thus, yet another good move.

St. Louis: Acquired minor-league SS Tony Womack from Boston for minor-league RHP Matt Duff.
Philadelphia: Designated LHP Bud Smith for assignment. Claimed C Michel Hernandez off waivers from Boston.
Boston: Optioned RHP Anastacio Martinez and C Andy Dominique to AAA-Pawtucket. Re-assigned 2B Carlos Febles to minor-league camp.
Boston: Optioned LHP Mark Malaska to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Placed SS Nomar Garciaparra on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 26, with a sore right Achilles tendon. Placed RHP Byung-Hyun Kim on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 26, with a strained right shoulder. Placed OF Trot Nixon on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 26, with a mild disk herniation. Placed RHP Reynaldo Garcia on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 26, with a right elbow injury. Returned LHP Frank Brooks to Pittsburgh. Released minor-league 2B Terry Shumpert.
Boston: Outrighted RHP Bryan Hebson to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Placed RHP Jason Shiell on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 26. Optioned LHP Tim Hamulack to AAA-Pawtucket. Re-assigned OF Adam Hyzdu to minor-league camp. Purchased the contracts of 1Bs Brian Daubach and Dave McCarty and 2B Cesar Crespo from Pawtucket.
Boston: Placed LHP Lenny Dinardo on the 15-day DL with a strained left shoulder. Purchased the contract of LHP Bobby Jones from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Transferred RHP Reynaldo Garcia from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. Claimed RHP John Stephens off waivers from Baltimore and optioned him to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Placed RHP Ramiro Mendoza on the 15-day DL with right shoulder tendinitis. Recalled LHP Mark Malaska from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Designated 1B Brian Daubach for assignment. Purchased the contract of RHP Frank Castillo from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Outrighted LHP Bobby Jones and 1B Brian Daubach to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Recalled LHP Phil Seibel from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Acquired minor-league RHP Scott Cassidy from Toronto for a player to be named.
Philadelphia: Acquired minor-league LHP Ed Yarnall from Boston for a player to be named.
Boston: Outrighted RHP Frank Castillo to AAA-Pawtucket. Activated LHP Lenny Dinardo from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Acquired LHP Brad Thomas from Minnesota for a player to be named.
Boston: Placed LHP Brad Thomas on the 15-day DL with a strained left elbow.
Boston: Placed OF Ellis Burks on the 15-day DL with a medial meniscus tear in his left knee.
Boston: Purchased the contract of 1B Brian Daubach from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Optioned LHP Phil Seibel to AA-Portland. Activated RHP Byung-Hyun Kim from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Optioned RHP Byung-Hyun Kim to AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Recalled RHP Jamie Brown from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Optioned LHP Mark Malaska to AAA-Pawtucket. Recalled 3B Kevin Youkilis from Pawtucket. Transferred OF Henri Stanley from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. Acquired OF Henri Stanley from San Diego for a player to be named and optioned him to Pawtucket.
Boston: Signed 1B David Ortiz to a two-year contract extension with a club option for 2007. Placed RHP Scott Williamson on the 15-day DL. Recalled RHP Anastacio Martinez from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Placed 3B Bill Mueller on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 20, with right patella tendinitis. Recalled C Andy Dominique from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Outrighted 1B Brian Daubach to AAA-Pawtucket. Optioned RHP Jamie Brown to Pawtucket. Recalled LHP Mark Malaska from Pawtucket. Activated SS Nomar Garciaparra from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Optioned 1B Andy Dominique to AAA-Pawtucket. Activated RHP Scott Williamson from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Optioned RHP Anastacio Martinez to AAA-Pawtucket. Activated OF Trot Nixon from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Optioned LHP Mark Malaska to AAA-Pawtucket. Signed free agent RHP Curtis Leskanic to a one-year contract.
Kansas City: Acquired minor-league C Raul Casanova from Boston for a player to be named.
Boston: Signed free agent RHP Pedro Astacio to a minor-league contract.
Boston: Acquired RHP Brandon Puffer from San Diego for a player to be named and cash considerations and optioned him to AAA-Pawtucket. Acquired minor-league LHP Jimmy Anderson from Chicago (NL) for minor-league RHP Andrew Shipman and a player to be named. Placed RHP Scott Williamson on the 15-day DL with a radial nerve impingement in his right forearm. Designated 3B Cesar Crespo for assignment. Recalled RHP Anastacio Martinez from Pawtucket. Activated 3B Bill Mueller from the 15-day DL.


Tony Womack was brought in to help compete for the second base job. He wasn't great, and he had injury issues. The Red Sox traded him to the Cardinals for a minor league reliever, and Tony had a career year for the Cardinals. I doubt he can carry it over to 2005, but it's possible. Theo did lose out on this trade, but at the time, did he? No, he didn't. Plus, Womack never would have had a chance to establish himself as the starter, not with Pokey Reese and Mark Bellhorn. It was a good trade at the time, signing him on the cheap and hoping he could play himself into something. And he did.

Kevin Youkilis was called up when Bill Mueller went onto the DL even though he had been struggling for Pawtucket. All he did was endear himself to his teammates and fans. When he hit a home-run in Toronto for his first major league hit, his teammates did not congratulate him. He came back to the dugout, and with no-one congratulating him, he instead high-fived the air and sat down, at which point all the teammates mobbed him to congratulate him. Youkilis helped give Mueller time off and hit pretty well for a line of .260/.367/.413. He got a bench job this year and will help backup third and first base. Bill Mueller is a free-agent after this year, so Youk might be the starting third baseman in 2006. Either way, Youk helped bring some more personality to the Red Sox and created a deeper bench.


Jason Varitek and Curtis Leskanic
The acquisition of Henri Stanley for such a cheap value (player to be named later) is only highlighted here because of where Henri ended up later and what we got in return. More on that later. Of course, the David Ortiz contract is highlighted here, as is something else - the signing of Curtis Leskanic.

Leskanic had long been a quality reliever for the Rockies and Brewers and was traded to the Royals in 2003 where he pitched well. He suffered through an 8.04 ERA in 15.2 IP for the Royals (thanks to injury) and was released. The Red Sox picked him up and he tossed a 3.58 ERA in 27.2 IP for the Red Sox - numbers that would have been MUCH lower had he not pitched an extended time for us via injury. I really liked Leskanic for some reason and also liked his breaking ball, which was great. Leskanic was only a middling relief pitcher for us, but he became important to us when he pitched in ALCS Game Three - the 19-8 drubbing in which Tim Wakefield also pitched in to take the pressure off other relievers - that helped us win the World Series. Leskanic came back the next game to throw more than an inning to get the win for the Red Sox in Game 4. His arm was hanging by a thread by then, and he has retired because his arm is literally done. Any more pitching and his arm would have fallen off. It takes a lot of guts to do what Leskanic did, and I tip my hat to him - especially for winning ALCS Game 4.

Boston: Optioned RHP Anastacio Martinez to AAA-Pawtucket. Purchased the contract of LHP Jimmy Anderson from Pawtucket.
Boston: Placed LHP Lenny Dinardo on the 15-day DL, retroactive to July 5, with a blister on his left index finger. Designated LHP Tim Hamulack for assignment. Purchased the contract of RHP Joe Nelson from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Optioned 3B Kevin Youkilis to AAA-Pawtucket. Activated RHP Ramiro Mendoza from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Placed SS Pokey Reese on the 15-day DL, retroactive to July 20, with a strained ribcage muscle. Optioned RHP Joe Nelson to AAA-Pawtucket. Recalled LHP Mark Malaska and 3B Kevin Youkilis from Pawtucket. Acquired minor-league 2B Ricky Gutierrez from Chicago (NL) for a player to be named.
Boston: Designated LHP Jimmy Anderson for assignment. Purchased the contract of LHP Abe Alvarez from AA-Portland. Optioned Alvarez to Portland. Transferred OF Ellis Burks from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. Purchased the contract of 2B Ricky Gutierrez from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Acquired RHP Terry Adams and cash considerations from Toronto for minor-league 3B John Hattig.

Boston: Placed RHP Curtis Leskanic on the 15-day DL with right shoulder tendinitis. Placed OF Trot Nixon on the 15-day DL with a strained left quadriceps muscle. Recalled 1B Andy Dominique from AAA-Pawtucket. Transferred LHP Brad Thomas from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. Added RHP Terry Adams to the roster.


Nothing really important here, but I did want to note the acquisition of both Ricky Gutierrez and Terry Adams. Gutierrez wasn't exactly good, but we needed him to backup the middle infield, which he did. He helped give people breathers and this was another under the radar deal by Theo that helped the team tremendously, as we were hurting in the backup middle infield position at the time. Terry Adams was a good reliever, but sparingly pitched for us and not so well either, but he also added another bullpen arm that we could use to the bullpen. Not big acquisitions, but they're still ones that helped the Red Sox out little by little. For all the big moves I espouse that helped us win the World Series, it's little moves like these that go just as far.

And now ... for The Trade.

Chicago (NL): Acquired 1B Doug Mientkiewicz from Minnesota for minor-league LHP Justin Jones. Acquired SS Nomar Garciaparra, minor-league OF Matt Murton, and cash considerations from Boston for Mientkiewicz, RHP Francis Beltran, 3B Brendan Harris, and SS Alex Gonzalez.
Boston: Acquired SS Orlando Cabrera from Montreal for RHP Francis Beltran, 3B Brendan Harris, and SS Alex Gonzalez. Acquired OF Dave Roberts from Los Angeles for OF Henri Stanley.

Boston: Optioned 1B Andy Dominique to AAA-Pawtucket. Added SS Orlando Cabrera to the roster.
Boston: Placed 2B Mark Bellhorn on the 15-day DL with a fractured left thumb. Added OF Dave Roberts to the roster.
Boston: Optioned LHP Mark Malaska to AAA-Pawtucket. Designated RHP Jamie Brown for assignment. Acquired LHP Mike Myers from Seattle for a player to be named.
Boston: Placed 1B Dave McCarty on the 15-day DL, retroactive to August 13, with a cyst in his right wrist. Placed 3B Kevin Youkilis on the 15-day DL, retroactive to August 16, with a bruised right ankle. Activated RHP Curtis Leskanic from the 15-day DL. Transferred RHP Scott Williamson from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. Purchased the contract of 1B Earl Snyder from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Optioned 1B Earl Snyder to AAA-Pawtucket. Activated 2B Mark Bellhorn from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Acquired minor-league C Sandy Martinez from Cleveland for cash considerations.
Boston: Designated RHP Joe Nelson for assignment. Activated 1B Dave McCarty and 3B Kevin Youkilis from the 15-day DL. Purchased the contract of C Sandy Martinez from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Designated RHP Joe Nelson for assignment. Recalled RHP Brandon Puffer from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Designated RHP Brandon Puffer and 1B Andy Dominique for assignment. Claimed 3B Tim Hummel off waivers from Cincinnati. Purchased the contract of OF Adam Hyzdu from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Transferred LHP Lenny Dinardo from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. Purchased the contract of RHP Pedro Astacio from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Activated SS Pokey Reese and OF Trot Nixon from the 15-day DL.
Boston: Designated 1B Earl Snyder for assignment. Activated RHP Scott Williamson from the 60-day DL.
Boston: Outrighted 1B Earl Snyder to AAA-Pawtucket. Designated 3B Tim Hummel for assignment. Activated LHP Lenny Dinardo from the 60-day DL.
Boston: Recalled RHP Byung-Hyun Kim from AAA-Pawtucket.
Boston: Released LHP Phil Seibel. Activated OF Ellis Burks from the 60-day DL.



Orlando Cabrera, Handshake Master
Doug Mientkiewicz, Orlando Cabrera, and Dave Roberts made their way to Boston for Nomar Garciaparra at the major league level. Mientkiewicz was having an off-season at the plate, but was a former .300+ average hitter, and had great defense. He helped lock down the defense at first base and make it that much better. Nomar left, and it was time for him to leave. That's all I'm saying about him in this space, but you can read my take on the trade here.

Anyways, it also brought us two very important people who changed Red Sox baseball and as I've said ad nauseum, won the World Series for us.

First, Dave Roberts. A very sunny guy, and another good addition to the clubhouse. He helped bring speed and defense to the outfield for the Red Sox and when people look back at the 2004 World Series season, the play they will remember as starting it all will be "The Steal". Roberts hit .256/.330/.442 but Dave Roberts was brought here for speed, he got the stolen base he needed, and that alone makes this a brilliant trade, especially since we gave up Henri Stanley, who we got for next to nothing. This sounds like a broken record, but yet another great trade by Theo Epstein.

Then we have Orlando Cabrera who really jolted the Red Sox clubhouse and woke them up from the stupor they were in. I cannot impress upon you the impact Cabrera had on the clubhouse enough. He woke them up and that's all he needed to do. But he hit as well. He returned to his 2003 Montreal Expo ways, giving us a line of .294/.320/.465 and a couple of game-winning shots. He also provided fluid defense, much better than the horrid defense Nomar gave us and a good arm. While the signing of Edgar Renteria for 2005 is an improvement, Orlando Cabrera was the best person the Red Sox could have gotten out of anyone not named Barry Bonds, Johan Santana, or Albert Pujols - and even then, the clubhouse impact Orlando had leads you to wonder whether these three would have had as much of an impact.

Three things were vital to us winning the World Series. This trade was the first, the trade for Curt Schilling was the second, and Tim Wakefield giving up his ALCS Game 4 start to help the bullpen out in Game 3 was the third. We lost no offense from Nomar to Orlando, and gained three players, all with good defense, two with speed (one with exceptional speed) and two who are some of the best clubhouse guys in the game. This trade and how well it worked out just blows me away.

That's the end of the 2004 transactions, which brought the Red Sox a World Series. Every single one of these moves brought us a World Series. If Theo isn't immediately among the best for doing this in this short period ... somethings wrong with you. It took Theo less than two years what 86 years of managers and general managers could not do.

Boston: Declined to exercise their 2005 option on RHP Curtis Leskanic.
Boston: Exercised their 2005 option on 3B Bill Mueller.
Boston: Claimed LHP Billy Traber off waivers from Cleveland.
Boston: Outrighted RHP Jerome Gamble to AA-Portland. Purchased the contract of C Kelly Shoppach from AAA-Pawtucket. Purchased the contracts of LHP Juan Cedeno, RHPs Manny Delcarmen, Luis Mendoza, and Chris Smith, and SS Hanley Ramirez from Portland. Purchased the contract of RHP Aribal Sanchez from A-Lowell.
Boston: Re-signed free agent C Doug Mirabelli to a two-year contract.
Boston: Claimed RHP Tim Bausher off waivers from Colorado.
Boston: Offered arbitration to LHP Mike Myers, RHPs Pedro Astacio, Derek Lowe, and Pedro Martinez, C Jason Varitek, 1B Dave McCarty, 2B Pokey Reese, SS Orlando Cabrera, and OF Gabe Kapler.


Bill Mueller and Doug Mirabelli returning were no-brainers.


David Wells
Boston: Signed free agent RHP Matt Mantei to a one-year contract.
Boston: Signed free agent LHP David Wells to a two-year contract.
Boston: Signed free agent LHP John Halama to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2006.
Boston: Signed free agent SS Edgar Renteria to a four-year contract.
Boston: Declined to tender contracts to LHPs Lenny Dinardo and Billy Traber and C Sandy Martinez. Acquired SS Ramon Vazquez, OF Jay Payton, and minor-league RHP David Pauley from San Diego for OF Dave Roberts.
Boston: Signed free agent RHP Matt Clement to a three-year contract. Re-signed free agent LHP Lenny Dinardo to a one-year contract.
Boston: Signed free agent RHP Wade Miller to a one-year contract.
Boston: Re-signed free agent C Jason Varitek to a four-year contract.

Boston: Named Bill Haselman bullpen coach. Signed free agent RHP Josias Manzanillo to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training.
Boston: Re-signed free agent 1B Dave McCarty to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training.
New York (NL): Designated 2B Danny Garcia for assignment. Acquired 1B Doug Mientkiewicz and cash considerations from Boston for minor-league 1B Ian Bladergroen.
Boston: Invited Ps Scott Cassidy, Jack Cressend, Jeremi Gonzalez, Jason Kershner, Josias Manzanillo, and Kris Wilson, Cs Jeff Bailey and Shawn Wooten, IFs Dave Berg, Tim Hummel, Dave McCarty, and Kenny Perez, and OFs Chip Ambres, George Lombard, Billy McMillon, and Simon Pond to spring training.
Boston: Signed 1B Roberto Petagine to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training.
Boston: Acquired SS Alejandro Machado from Washington for a player to be named.
Boston: Optioned LHP Abe Alvarez and SS Alejando Machado to AAA-Pawtucket. Optioned RHP Chris Smith to AA-Portland. Optioned LHP Juan Cedeno and RHPs Manny Delcarmen, Luis Mendoza, and Anibal Sanchez to A-Wilmington. Re-assigned IF Kenny Perez and OF Chip Ambres to minor-league camp.
Boston: Optioned C Kelly Shoppach to AAA-Pawtucket. Optioned SS Hanley Ramirez to AA-Portland. Re-assigned RHPs Denney Tomori and Kris Wilson and OFs Dave Berg and Simon Pond to minor-league camp.
Boston: Optioned RHP Tim Bausher to AAA-Pawtucket. Re-assigned RHP Josias Manzanillo to minor-league camp.
Boston: Acquired LHP Mike Myers from the St. Louis Cardinals for minor leaguers Carlos De La Cruz and Kevin Ool.


As I said last week in one of my columns, "... I have grown to really like David Wells. I always despised him the most on the Yankees, him and Andy Pettitte, because they just kept beating us. Ever since Wells and Pettitte have left, I have been fans of them. ... I’ve always liked Wells’ fire, his windup, and I think he can be big for us this year."

David Wells for all his injury woes, has been a workhorse over his entire career with a low ERA. I have to say that I like this signing a lot and it gives us a lefty in the starting rotation, a good one, which we have not had for a good long time.

Signing John Halama gives us someone who can start in a pinch, but we signed him mainly because he's such a good reliever. He's been a half-starter half-reliever his entire life. His ERA as a starter is a hair over 5.00, while his ERA as a reliever is around 2.50. Another good move, as Halama is a lefty.

Then we signed Edgar Renteria who now gives the Red Sox three players with 100-RBI seasons. Renteria had an off-year last year, but should benefit from the move to Fenway and the even more powerful offense that the Red Sox have now. Most everyone posts sensational numbers at Fenway. If Renteria doesn't repeat his 2003 year, I'll be very surprised. He also gives us good speed and spectacular defense.

In the Dave Roberts trade, the general consensus is that we fleeced San Diego. I'm tempted to agree, but let's focus on who Theo got. A backup middle infielder who can play 2B, SS, and 3B. He has little to no offense (.235/.297/.322) but he should be a steady force in a backup utility role. Jay Payton, who hit 28 HR in 2003 for Colorado, also comes over after a sub par year for the Padres to be the primary outfield backup and starter against lefty pitching - another great move.

Matt Clement, who was brilliant for the Cubs until August and September also comes over. He has looked pretty good in Spring Training, and lauds Jason Varitek for making him even better. He could have a huge year. Even if he repeats last year (3.68 ERA) he should still win 18-22 games with that ERA (hell, Derek Lowe won 14 games with a 5.42 ERA) we'll take it. Run support is the name of the game, and the Cubs just didn't provide Clement with it.

Wade Miller is yet another low-risk, high-reward guy that the Red Sox signed on the cheap. In 15 starts last year for the Astros, Wade had a 3.35 ERA, which is very good. The Red Sox hope to get at least 15 starts out of Miller. If they do, it was a good investment. However, Miller and the organization is saying he can return in early May, pegging him for about 28 starts. If Miller can do that, the Red Sox will be thrilled, especially with the statistics Wade can put up.


The Captain, Jason Varitek
The Red Sox have gotten a lot of flak for resigning Varitek to a four-year contract worth $40 million. But who else could the Red Sox have gotten that combines the perfect blend of attitude, defense, arm, pitch-calling, and offense? In my opinion, Varitek is the best all-around catcher in the game. Ivan is the closest, but he just isn't as good in pitch-calling and pitcher relations. Jorge Posada is not exactly a great catcher defensively, either. 'Tek also prepares for games like never before, and pitchers want to come to Boston to pitch for Varitek. You can also add Curt Schilling, a tremendous preparer, to the people that love Varitek. Varitek, who hit .296/.390/.482 last year, also got a late start on catching in the majors so (hopefully) his decline isn't as rapid as most catcher declines are. Either way, we HAD to resign Varitek and the $10 million will be useful for at least the next two years. Hopefully it won't kill us the following two, but it's all worth it.

Doug Mientkiewicz was traded to the New York Mets to clear up a first-base jam. While we lose some defense, it's okay. I was originally a proponent of trading Kevin Millar, but then I realized what Millar brings to the clubhouse is too important, so I decided I didn't care who was traded. Doug got the call and we got a pretty good minor league first-baseman in return who could give us some good statistics assuming he heals from his injuries well.

Because of Jim Bowden's infatuation with toolsy outfielders who aren't putting the statistics up, the Red Sox nabbed Alejandro Machado, who will start in the minor leagues and has great promise to become a pretty good utility man in the major leaguers.

Mike Myers, one of "The Twenty-Five" was reacquired when the Red Sox were not happy with the battle for the final two bullpen spots. They got Mike Myers back, and for two A-ballers who probably won't see the major leagues.

Finally, the transaction log, updated to March 30th, 2004, is finished. Hopefully you learned a bit from this and realized that Theo can be a real genius when it comes to signings and trades. Truly one of the best. But I don't think I've convinced you why he is THE best. That's why I want to talk about about three points. First, Theo Epstein and the bullpen, how his money that he pours into the bullpen (Mendoza, Kim) backfires and why the bullpen always seems to be the weak link. Second, why Theo Epstein is better than Billy Beane, and which directly moves into why Theo Epstein shouldn't be faulted for having a lot of money to work with. Many GMs have money to work with and they fail where Theo doesn't.

My belief is that Theo Epstein believes the bullpen is the most overrated aspect of any. With the exception of the closer, he believes that dominant RPs that make millions of money are overrated. Ramiro Mendoza hurt him in this aspect, and so did Kim, although Kim was signed at a starter's salary. So ever since then, and mostly for his tenure, he's tried to get the best deals he can for relievers, signing them for very little money and hoping they work out. If not, it's no skin off Theo's nose because the club can eat $500,000 dollars, and they can go out and get another reliever. Why spend millions on a reliever who puts up a 2.00 ERA when you can give $500,000 dollars to someone with a 3.50 ERA? Whether this is a misguided theory or not, so far it's been working because while we haven't been among the best bullpens in 2002, 2003, and 2004, we continue to win with the bullpen we have. Theo seems to place at a premium first the offense, then starting pitching with defense third and bullpen last (although one could argue he places speed last, I don't think he does, our club does not clog the base paths up). That might be why he signs so many middling relievers to low contracts because he (perhaps Bill James backs this up) just doesn't think bullpens are very important.

You see, I believe Theo Epstein is better than Billy Beane. I want to be clear on this - this is in no way an insult to Billy Beane. To be honest, I think I'm stretching here a bit with that statement, but if I say Theo is the best GM, it means he's better than Billy Beane. And so, in my observations, it seems as if Billy Beane is a little too narrow minded. He plays the game to get the cheapest players available at places he thinks people underrate, whether it be OBP, speed, defense, and the bullpen. He also makes it a point to draft as many college players as possible. I think Billy doesn't focus on everything that Theo does. He doesn't focus on the offense and the different aspects of it (AVG, OBP, SLG, speed, defense) and pitching (ERA, WHIP, starting pitchers, relievers, and the different variety of pitchers). Case in point: The Athletics do not have a good offense. And they didn't even have that great of an OBP last year (9th in MLB, behind Boston, San Francisco, New York (AL), Cleveland, Philadelphia, Colorado, Baltimore, and St. Louis), which tells you Billy has abandoned OBP for the most part as the most underrated statistic and has focused elsewhere. But without a good offense, you don't really get anywhere. Oakland's OPS last year ranked 15th, as well as runs scored.

This year has been about the bullpen. Not the starting pitching which is weaker (for now, the future it could potentially be strong again) but for this coming year, he decreased his offensive output and his starting pitching output. I don't know the A's enough to judge their defense, so I'll say they didn't change the defense much at all, although the addition of Charles Thomas helps. Bottom line is that Billy just doesn't seem to focus on the entire team, just one aspect of the team. I realize Theo does not either, but he creates a much more well-rounded team than Beane has. I could be wrong for all I know, but I'm calling it as I see it.

Lastly, money doesn't make a general manager good. Just because you throw money at people doesn't mean you make very good decisions (Brian Cashman for one, although David Pinto will tell you next week he disagrees with me ... Syd Thrift, the list goes on). You can just throw money at people, but not only does Theo sign more people to cheap contracts than he does expensive contracts (Curt Schilling, Edgar Renteria, and Keith Foulke come to mind) but he has to decide who is worth that money. Does he have it as hard as a small-market club? No, but you can't write him off just because he has the money. What if he gave Jeff Kent and JD Drew the money he gave Edgar Renteria and Curt Schilling? Then he gave Benitez that money instead of Keith Foulke? I'll say we're a much worse team than we are with Schilling, Renteria, and Foulke.

Theo Epstein is young, creative, focuses on all the aspects of the team, makes absolutely brilliant trades and pretty good signings and is constantly improving with a great core of assistants to help him. With what Theo has accomplished in just over two seasons is extremely impressive and considering what he has done, what he has done it with, and where he's done it (Boston, home of the craziest fans, and who used to be all freaked out because we had not had a World Series in 86 years) ... Theo Epstein is the best General Manager in the game.

Evan Brunell
Fire Brand of the American League
Article completed March 30th, 2005

postscript:

The Red Sox traded Kim to the Colorado Rockies for C Charles Johnson,
cash considerations, and minor league left-hander Chris Narveson. A
quick note is that the Red Sox made out cashwise with this trade, got
rid of Kim, cut Johnson, and gets a potential #4 starter or reliever in
Narveson. Win-win all around ... for Boston, that is.

7 Comments:

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We may own, take position and sell any securities mentioned at any time. Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect
to predictions, goals, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance are
not statements of historical fact and may be "forward, looking
statements." forward, looking statements are based on expectations, estimates
and projections at the time the statements are made that involve a number of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results
or events to differ materially from those presently anticipated. This newsletter was paid $3,000 from third party (IR Marketing).
Forward, looking statements in this action may be identified through the use of words such as: "projects", "foresee", "expects". in compliance with Section 17. {b), we disclose the holding of EGTY shares prior to the publication of this report. Be aware of an inherent conflict of interest resulting from such holdings due to our intent to profit from the liquidation of these shares. Shares may be sold at any time, even after positive statements have been made regarding the above company. Since we own shares, there is an inherent conflict of interest in our statements and opinions. Readers of this publication are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward, looking statements, which are based on certain assumptions and expectations involving various risks and uncertainties that could cause results to
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Information within this email contains "forward |ooking statements" within
the meaning of Section 27Aof the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21B of
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discussions with respect to predictions, expectations, beliefs, plans,
projections, objectives, goals, assumptions or future events or performance
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