Thursday, September 07, 2006

Are you ready for some Baseball? Anibel Sanchez tossed a no-hitter for the Florida Marlins. Fisch Fry newcomers can check the archives, for my post, moons ago, about this team, including much praise for the young Mr. Sanchez. I predicted great things for this squad. Their management knows how to hold a fire sale -- they get real value in return, when they deal their top players. So, it should surprise no one that the Marlins are making a strong run at the wild-card, as I predicted back in July.

Headed in the opposite direction are the Boston Red Sox, who dealt Sanchez to the Marlins during the offseason in the Josh Beckett deal. The New York Times ran a fascinating piece on the Marlins and Red Sox. Murray Chass, my arch-enemy (it's an old, long story), dissects the various deals the Red Sox have made this year, noting the great success that pitchers the Red Sox dealt away are having in their new homes. This includes Sanchez, of course, and Bronson Arroyo, and also Cha Meredith. Chass also goes back in history to point out the disatrous results of the trading deadline deal for Jeff Suppan in 2003. Suppan never contributed much to the Sox -- certainly nothing like the contributions that Pittsburgh has gotten out of Freddy Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez, the players that the Pirates received in the Suppan deal.

If we play pretend, as if the Red Sox had never dealt these players, and then take their statistics this year, adding in Johnny Damon's numbers (clearly the Red Sox hugely underestimated his value to the team and the numbers he's still capable of putting up), it seems likely that, in this pretend world, the Red Sox would still be sitting in first place in the A.L. East. As deep and good as the Yankees are this year, they would not be in the same position without Damon. Moreover, imagine how good the Red Sox would be with a pitching staff that featured Mike Gonzalez as the closer (with Cha Martinez in the set-up role), and a starting rotation featuring Curt Schilling, Bronson Arroyo and John Papelbon, who would never have been tried in the bullpen -- possibly joined by Anibel Sanchez, if the Red Sox would have moved him up to the big squad as quickly as did the Marlins.

There's also one other move that the Times reporter, Chass, did not mention, and that's the decision to allow Pedro Martinez to leave Boston. As they did with Roger Clemens before him, the Red Sox wrongly decided that Martinez was not going to continue to be a front-line pitcher, so they chose not to pay him front-line money to stay in Boston. Imagine the above fantasy Red Sox rotation, and then add Pedro Martinez to the mix? Any chance that team might have already clinched the division title? Probably that would be an exaggeration, but it's hard to imagine that the Yankees could have kept close with such a team.

As a New York Mets' fan, I have cursed the Scott Kazmir trade from the second I learned of it. It was a trade that made no sense at all, since Kazmir, as a minor leaguer, was already a better pitcher than Victor Zambrano was at Tampa Bay. Yes, Kazmir's potential was seemingly limitless, and it was incredible that he would be dealt for such a mediocre pitcher. The really stunning aspect of the deal was that, if the Mets were serious about making a run at the playoffs that year, it was clear they would have done better to call up Kazmir, rather than trade him for Zambrano.

Every Mets' fan winces at the memory of the Kazmir trade, wondering how good the team could be with Kazmir. He'd probably be the star of the rotation, but he'd also be the foundation for the pitching staff in the post-Glavine, post-Martinez years to come. Still, looking at the Red Sox recent history of disastrous, short-sighted personnel decisions, I can say it's a darn sight worse than the Mets' move in dealing Kazmir.

Murray Chass' article is at

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