Friday, March 25, 2005

Schilling pitches, Papelbon impresses, and Johnny Damon wants $$$$

Today. 1pm. NESN. Be there. Curt Schilling will be making his first, and likely his only start of the spring today against the Twins. He'll be on a flexible 50 pitch count.

The Sox battled to a tie with the O's yesterday in a ten inning game that was called with a 5-5 score. Jon Papelbon's numbers weren't all that impressive (4 runs scored on 5 hits and a walk in 3 innings), but when you take into consideration that he's going to be starting in AA this year and he went up against a very tough Baltimore lineup, he didn't too bad. Francona and the rest of the team were very impressed with him for a variety of reasons including his poise on the mound. Jay Payton was hit with a pitch to the wrist by Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera. Payton left the game, but should be fine. In the bottom of the inning Papelbon threw one up and in on Sammy Sosa. Sosa started for the mound, but thought better of it and just glared at Papelbon. The Sox prospect was not intimidated. He earned a lot of respect from the team with his attitude out there. With a mid-90's fastball and a fearless attitude Papelbon could be pitching for the big league club by the end of 2006. Watch him this year when he plays for the AA Sea Dogs.

The same article mentions how there are only two spots left on the team. Kevin Youkilis convinced the club that he would learn more on the bench in Boston than he would on the field in Pawtucket so Youk will be starting the year in the bigs. Francona did suggest that if he can't find enough playing time for Youkilis, he could be headed back to AAA until he's needed. Spot #23 goes to the newest member of the club, Blaine Neal. On a little side note, I've been thinking about sponsoring a page over at Baseball-Reference for a little while now, but there's no way in hell that I'm going to drop $50 just to see my website's name up in the lights. When checking out some info on Neal I noticed that his page was available for only $5 so I went for it. Blaine Neal is the newest member of the Sox and the newest man to have his page on Baseball-Reference sponsored. The final two roster spots are still up for grabs but I have a sneaking suspicion that they will be filled by the last two men that I want to see in a BoSox uniform. Dave McCarty will likely make the club as a defensive replacement at first and in the outfield. I've already made it clear here that I think the man is useless, but at least he won't hurt the team too much. The other man that I fear will make the team, however, could easily hurt the team. With all the press he's getting lately and with the other two likely competitors, Mark Malaska and Lenny Dinardo, sent to the minors I think the final spot on the major league roster goes to none other than...(drum roll please).....Byung Hyun Kim. Yeah. I'm afraid too.

In what could be a bit of bad news Johnny Damon thinks awfully high of himself. Damon is the best of a group of Red Sox players who are eligible for free agency at the end of this year. There has been no talk between Damon and the club about an extension, something that doesn't surprise or upset Damon. He says that he would sign a four year deal right now, but after the season is done the 31 year old will likely be asking for six years. He even threw in a barb about how the Yankees will be looking for a new center fielder in 2006. Damon compares himself to Ichiro Suzaki and J.D. Drew. He'll likely be looking for the type of deal that one of those two players might receive. Drew, as you may know, signed a 5 year, $55 million deal with the Dodgers this off-season. Johnny Damon has become the identity of the Red Sox. He's coming off one of the best years of his career and is quickly becoming one of the highest profile players in the majors, but if the guy thinks he should get a 6 year $66 million deal, he's nuts. I'd like for the Red Sox to bring him back, but even the $32 million over four years that he's getting now is a bit much, especially for a guy who is on the wrong side of 30.

And finally, Aaron Gleeman's latest post is a space killer where he simply posted the first 40 songs that popped up when he put his IPod on shuffle. I've already seen two other baseball bloggers post the same and credit him for it. I swear to whatever higher power is out there that if that man brings memes to the baseball blog world I will find him and harm him. A lot. I deal with far too much of that on LJ to deal with it here too.

Just so you know Brian I remembered I have a baseball-reference sponsorship of the 1993 Red Sox team...and I didn't have my URL on it. So I just promptly changed it lol.
I don't mind Kim much. Seriously, how much worse is he than any other long relief/mop up man that they could have on the roster? And his upside is much higher.

As for Damon, at Dewey's House someone mentioned a two year deal with a third year as an option and that seemed about right. From what I remember they were even suggesting Damon should get a raise of about a million, which I'm against. Let's face it, he was signed to be an elite leadoff hitter at the age of 28. Why would you give him a raise after this season when he won't be getting better and he'll start the contract at 32.
Brian, I mentioned you at length today at Baseball Rants...I think you should check out my thoughts on Damon vs. Hanley Ramirez performance over the next 6 years (Damon's hypothetical contract vs. Ramirez's major league service time contract). And man am I excited about Papelbon.
Marc, glad I could help with the reminder about your sponsorship :-)

I'll check it out as soon as I'm done with checking my mail and eating my Cheerios. It's always great to see my name up in the lights!

I'm actually thinking about writing a bit about Ramirez today...maybe we're on the same page.
Kellen, whenever I hear Kim's name I just think about how he performed in Pawtucket lastyear...not very well. With his velocity down he'll be mediocre at best. With the issues the rest of the team seems to have with it, I think we'd be better off with any other mop up guy. I'm definately rooting for the guy and hope he proves me wrong though. I've had high hopes for him ever since we got him!

And I agree with you about Damon. A two or three year deal worth $9 mil a year is pretty high, but something that I think the Sox should go for unless there is a better option in center. Besides Bernie and Damon I don't know what outfielders will be on the market next year, but I know we don't have anyone in the system to step up. A $27 mil contract would be high, but like Varitek the Sox can afford to overpay for the best option out there.

I'm going to have to see whose out there for center fielders next year.
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