Plenty of interesting tidbits and questions surrounding our favorite baseball team:
1) News broke late last night that the Sox had agreed on a deal to send aging third baseman Mike Lowell to the Rangers for catcher Max Ramirez.
Although the 25-year-old Ramirez looks to have some pop in his bat (here are his minor league numbers), this strikes me as more a salary dump than anything else. Lowell is scheduled to make $12 million in 2010, and Theo Epstein & Co. clearly didn't think the 2007 World Series hero had enough left to play third on a full-time basis. I understand the decision, but will certainly miss having Lowell around. He's a guy you can't help but pull for.
2) Boston.com/The Globe is having a field day with Theo's line about the upcoming season serving as a "bridge" to more prosperous 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
Step down from your ridiculous high horse, Dan Shaughnessy. Most Red Sox fans are smart enough to understand that the team won't be true World Series contenders every season. A "rebuilding" year for this club still means 85-90 wins, and not dealing away too many top prospects does set the franchise up for better long-term success. And ... hello! The team has won two titles, been to two another ALCSes, and only missed the playoffs once in the last seven seasons. Let's keep it in perspective.
3) The Red Sox won't be opening 2010 in Australia, despite a report last weekend in the Sunday Telegraph that just such a deal was in the works.
While pulling for the story to come true (I lived in Australia for two years), I was certainly skeptical. You just know that Terry Francona and his staff would like a "regular" spring training for the first time in a while. The team played in Japan in 2008, and the World Baseball Classic threw off some plans last year (right, Daisuke?), so I'm betting the mere thought of taking his team halfway around the world again had to send Tito's blood pressure rising. Now the Red Sox ownership seldom sees a marketing scheme it doesn't like, so don't rule out the possibility of the team playing Down Under in 2011 or 2012.
4) With Lowell on his way out and Jason Bay still unsigned, there are still plenty of question marks about Boston's 2010 everyday lineup.
Who plays left field if the Sox don't/can't re-sign Bay and find the asking price for Matt Holliday too steep? What about signing Adrian Beltre to replace Lowell at third, or trading for first baseman Miguel Cabrera and moving Kevin Youkilis back across the diamond? Neither option looks particularly wise to me--Beltre would cost a ton while not putting up numbers much better than Lowell's, and Cabrera is a dangerous hitter but a guy whose contract would be just as obnoxious as Manny's was (plus, Cabrera just might eat his way out of the game at his present pace). So, just how does Theo plug the gaps?
5) And just can't resist this line: If form holds, the Sox will have three Ramirezes--none of 'em named Manny--and a Boof on their 2010 Opening Day Roster.
Man, gotta love the Hot Stove chatter, huh?