Thursday, January 20, 2005

Random Idiocy

Slow news day here at the office, what with the entire Federal government shut down in an effort to counterbalance the waste of taxpayer dollars that is the presidential inauguration. While we're taking thinly veiled political shots, I found it noteworthy that Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council expressed disappointment in the President's reduced emphasis on gay marriage, stating that, "I believe there is no more important issue for the president's second term than the preservation of marriage." Holy lack of perspective, Batman. Thousands of angry, radical religious zealots want to kill us and destroy our way of life, we're blowing hundreds of billions of dollars in a war that nobody wants, and my property taxes just went through the ceiling, but gays marrying each other is the most critical public policy issue of our time. Great. Good to know that this pack of brainwashed morons were the ones that keyed the election of the most powerful man in the world. (Hey, wait a minute. When did we get political in this space? - Ed. That's what happens when the Hot Stove Season drags into its final weeks - MLC starts blathering about family values and red states.)

Deep, cleansing breaths before noting that the Sox signed Mark Bellhorn and Bronson Arroyo to 1-year deals worth $2.85m and $1.75m, respectively. Bellhorn was, by nearly all objective standards, the best 2nd baseman in the American League last year, so that contract is a bargain. Arroyo finished in the top 20 in the AL in a number of important categories, including ERA, Strikeouts, WHIP (5th in the league at 1.22), K/9 and K/BB. I don't think very many people realize how good this guy is right now, let alone how good he could become. He's a steal at $1.75m.

That's the big difference between the Sox and the Yankees. New York's assembling an all-star team, with no apparent concern for budgets. The Sox have a significant economic advantage over most of the league, but at least they're leveraging it intelligently. Under Theo Epstein the Sox have not burdened themselves with long-term, vastly over-market deals. While the Sox may have overpaid for Jason Varitek and Edgar Renteria and (leaving aside Manny Ramirez' bloated deal, which was Dan Duquette's handiwork, and which Theo famously tried to give away), both of those guys are critical cogs and can be expected to produce at top levels. Contrast that with the millions that the Yankees will spend on Bernie Williams' corpse and Kevin Brown's temper and you start to wonder how long the Yankees' can legitmately remain competitive when the current crop of aging stars begins to decline. Might not happen this year, but common sense says that the day of reckoning is approaching, especially when pennant hopes are pinned on a 41 year-old pitcher with knee trouble.

We note with interest that Whitney's Mets are closing in on Carlos Delgado. This space will be a lot more fun next year if the Mets are as competitive as it appears they might be. And, even better, I think...wait, I'm sure that the Mets will be favored to win more games than the Sox in 2005, so I'll be accepting 4 games from Whitney in our annual case bet. Which reminds me - I think you owe me 24 Harpoons, my friend.

And finally, we note with sadness that the Cubs signed Scott Williamson to a minor league deal this week. If not for an epic managerial brain fart, it's very likely that Williamson would have been on the mound when the Sox won the ALCS and World Series in 2003. Timlin in the 8th, Williamson in the 9th would have gone down in baseball history as the sweetest refrain since Tinker to Evers to Chance. Godspeed, Scotty. Hope the arm comes back in all its glory.

26 days, 26 minutes to pitchers and catchers. Giddyup.

No comments: