Sunday, November 27, 2005


Big Deal, Part II

Okay, Michael Rapaport is bellowing in my ear from the television in the next room, so I'll try to get through this without losing the ability to type coherently.

The big Josh Beckett deal that went down last week garnered mixed reactions. The Marlins did pretty well for themselves, considering they're in one of those fire sale modes that rings a sound like a dinner bell for all the other MLB GMs in the league. It's just like that old truism in a fantasy baseball keeper league: the minute a struggling team posts a defeatist message about getting younger or selling off veterans, jump on that guy like a shark on Robert Shaw. This type of thing usually results in Robb Nen-for-Joe Fontenot-type fiascos.

The Marlins did get four solid prospects, but the key to the deal was unloading Mike Lowell's albatross contract, a concept that seemed about as likely as Vincent Gallo making a thought-provoking film that didn't involve a mindnumbingly pointless motorcycle odyssey across the desert.

From the Red Sox side, it's hard not to like this deal from a talent standpoint. Yeah, they took on tons of salary, but in their never-ending quest to one-up the Yankees, that was merely collateral damage. Their pitching was awful last season and the team took a step to remedy that. Beckett has been very good when healthy, but he's unfortunately never been able to reach even 180 innings in a full season, battling recurring blister problems and a sore arm. Maybe his arm will never be able to shoulder a 200-inning load, but come on, he's still only 26 and he's one of the best in the game when he's out there. He has a career K/9 ratio of nearly a punchout for every frame. Just a random wild comparison, but his development could follow Pedro Martinez's career path: struggle to bring consistency with the stuff for the first few years and then skyrocket in the fifth season. At worst, he's a better bet than shelling out 11 million for A.J. Burnett.

As for Lowell, he was absolutely awful last season, but I refuse to believe that at just 31, after two seasons in which he slugged over .500, he's just suddenly fallen off a cliff. Reports had it that he was playing through injury, so some sort of rebound is likely if that was the case. Playing in Fenway should help his numbers also. He's getting paid way too much, obviously, but as Bill Simmons puts it:

If he stinks, well, he's supposed to stink -- he's the lemon we had to take to get Josh Beckett. If he shows any rejuvenation at all, it's a bonus. Worst-case scenario, he replaces Kevin Millar as the team's "right-handed slugger who used to hit for power right up to the year they started testing for steroids, I'm sure it's just a crazy coincidence" guy.

If Guillermo Mota starts impersonating his old Dodger self (not bloody likely), this could turn into a great trade for Boston. In the long term, it could be great for the Marlins, but we won't know until at least three more years. This could be a Glenn Davis for Curt Schilling-type beauty, with the Marlins doing cartwheels on the Schilling side. Or it could turn into an Aramis Ramirez-for-Bobby Hill disaster, with the Marlins playing the part of David Littlefield rolling around in his own filth. By the time we know, Boston could be celebrating another championship behind ace Josh Beckett.

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