It was December 2003, and the Red Sox had just lost the ALCS to the hated Yankees a couple months prior, but everything seemed to be going the Red Sox way. They had just traded for the best Shortstop in all of baseball, and once he worked out a restructured deal, he would come to Boston and a number 3 jersey with the name Rodriguez would be handed to him at a press conference.
All of that happened except the press conference. In 2004, #3 had the name Reese on it and not Rodriguez. This was a nightmare for the Red Sox and their fans. The trade in which the Red Sox sent Manny Ramirez to the Rangers for Alex Rodriguez was dead. The Red Sox needed A-Rod to take a pay cut, he agreed, but then the Major League Baseball Player Association stepped in and put the kibosh on the deal saying A-Rod couldn’t take a pay cut.
As it turned out A-Rod went to the Yankees, and the MLBPA’s decision to not let A-Rod take a pay cut to go to Boston was one of the greatest things to ever happen in Boston Red Sox history. With the circus that is going on in the Bronx right now with Rodriguez, and the speculation that he might be banned from baseball for life, Red Sox Nation should send a thank you card to the MLBPA, even if it is nine years late.
In 2004, A-Rod thought it was a good idea to try and take on Jason Varitek, who at the time was in full catchers’ gear, which fueled the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, which was already at an all-time high. Then with his team up 3 games to none against Boston in the ALCS, he did nothing to help his team get win #4 of the series. In his defense he DID try, when he bitch slapped a ground ball out of Pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s glove. It was one of the most bush league plays ever seen in MLB history, and after a few minutes, the umpires made the right call and A-Rod was out. Read more
Right back at you, Kevin!
“I’ll always be a Red Sock. To negate all the years I played for the Boston Red Sox, and all the tradition, you look at all the stuff I have piled up at my house and to say I’d just throw it out the window, it’s not true. Those were great years in Boston. One bad half-year doesn’t take away from all the great years I had there.” – Kevin Youkilis
To be fair, Kevin Youkilis wasn’t completely lying when he made this statement last week to reporters before the start of spring training with the Yankees. Everything he did in Boston was great. He won two titles, he won a gold glove and he should have won an MVP award in 2008. As Red Sox fans, we cannot ignore these things because they are major moments in Red Sox history and the way things ended last year for Youk shouldn’t take away from what he accomplished here for eight seasons. However, there is one small statement made by Youk that is not OK and is not completely true. After the jump you will find a letter I wrote to Kevin Youkilis (and no I did not really send this because I hate him and I see Youk as a waste of time).
Daivd Ortiz has been all smiles since 2003
Every fan has passion for their team, and expects their team to show its passion as well. In 2004, Kevin Millar infused the Boston Red Sox with excitement, and fun. He kept the team loose during the midst of trying to break an 86-year curse. His “Cowboy Up” mantra became a rally cry for fans and teammates alike. The fans related even more so because the team became a self-proclaimed, “bunch of idiots”, and were underdogs to the mighty New York Yankees. Since breaking the curse, the Red Sox are no longer “idiots”.
They have become a perennial World Series contender, but since 2007, they’ve only made it to the American League Championship Series once, losing to the Tampa Bay Rays, and were swept the following year in the American League Division Series by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Throughout the past few years, there has been a running concern that the Boston Red Sox have lost this passion. Fans are beginning to believe the team isn’t loose enough anymore. They don’t have fun playing the game and they are failing to meet expectations because of it. This believe couldn’t be more wrong. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz give this team identity and passion. These two players provide the most important dynamics for a successful team.
Dustin Pedroia brings the fire needed to get the team going. The 5’9’’ second baseman is there to push the Red Sox through their slumps. His mouth never stops, talking with confidence whether the team is winning or losing. Perhaps the best part of Pedroia is his ability to back up his never ending talk. In the beginning of the season, with the Red Sox desperately looking for something to ignite both the pitching and the offense, Pedroia hit his first homer of the year and threw his elbow pad to show his passion. Boston went on to beat New York 9-6 and began to show signs of life.
David Ortiz provides something very different, but just as important. His ability to have the biggest smile in the room at all times has a positive effect on his teammates. He has the experience of being with the Red Sox since 2003 and playing a critical role in both championships. He knows what it takes to win on the field and in the clubhouse. He is one of the most loved players by the fans and keeps them connected to the team. Whether “Big Papi” is making the team laugh by hustling for a triple, or creating noise at Fenway Park by clubbing a three run homer in to the seats, his presence is always felt.
Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez were both traded to better the team on the field and in the clubhouse. Chemistry has always been important to the organization and continues to be. Over the past few years, injuries have put the Red Sox in positions where they just aren’t good enough to win it all. The Red Sox are still a fun and passionate team, the players have just changed.
Did the 2004 trade of Nomar Garciaparra unleash a new jinx on the Red Sox even after vanquishing the old one?
The trade deadline has passed. The Red Sox go into the final two months of the season with only one real sore spot at shortstop where Marco Scutaro is really more cut out to be a utility infielder and Jed Lowrie can’t stay healthy. It continues the pattern of instability the Sox have had at short since the 2004 World Series run.
Nomar Garciaparra, one of the modern icons in Boston sports, had manned the shortstop position from 1997 through July of 2004 when the most famous deadline deal in Red Sox history shipped him the Cubs and brought in Orlando Cabrera, Dave Roberts and Doug Mienkiewitcz. The latter provided valuable defensive help at first base. Roberts stole the most important base in club history in Game 4 of the League Championship Series. And Cabrera handled the shortstop job before being cut loose at the end of the season and going on to success with the Angels, where he had a good run of 2-3 years as one of the AL’s top shortstops. Boston meanwhile, grasped for stability at the infield’s most important defensive position.
They’ve come and gone through the Hub these last eight years. Edgar Renteria was brought in for 2005 with a good pedigree, but he had trouble handling the Boston atmosphere and really struggled defensively. He was traded to Atlanta after a year on the job. Alex Gonzalez came in and played the most exquisite defensive shortstop I’ve ever watched. But Theo Epstein was convinced that in the AL East shortstop was an offensive position as well. So he gave Julio Lugo a four-year contract. Lugo’s performance certainly made Red Sox shortstop play offensive, although not in the sense Epstein intended. The forgettable Nick Green got a crack at the job and improved on Lugo’s effort, if only because you didn’t have the words “$44 million for four years” going through your mind every time he came to the plate or couldn’t cut off a slowly hit grounder up the middle. Gonzalez came back for a stint in a trade deadline deal in 2009, although he was again let go after the year was over. Finally the front office signed Scutaro and continued to hope for Lowrie, who’d shown such promise in 2008 and again at the start of this year to get healthy. Nothing’s worked and in the tradition of Boston sports it’s led some to again believe larger forces are at work (nothing is ever simple with us, is it?).
Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez have been a huge part of this teams' success thus far.
And the best record in the American League goes to … the Boston Red Sox. Although three of their starting pitchers are injured, they still managed to finish the first half of the season 55-35; 1 game ahead of the Yankees. It was most definitely an eventful week in Red Sox Nation as they will ride a six game winning streak -winning ten of their last 11 games- into the All-Star break. Terry Francona said it best, “I think we are where we deserve to be.”
Add another one: As if the Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz injuries weren’t enough, now the Red Sox could add Jon Lester to the list as well. After pitching four scoreless innings against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, Lester was removed from the game with a left lat strain. The next day he was placed on the 15-day DL. Neither Terry Francona nor Lester think the injury is anything too serious, but then again neither of them are a doctor. Although he won’t be pitching, Lester will represent the Red Sox at the All-Star festivities alongside teammates Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett, and Kevin Youkilis. Josh Beckett was also pulled from his start on Friday with a hyper extended knee, but that injury isn’t ‘serious’ either according the Red Sox.
All-Star season: Many people wondered how Jacoby Ellsbury would bounce back from last season’s injury; however I think the speculation can now be put to rest. The young centerfielder is having a great season thus far which earned him a well deserved trip to Phoenix for the All-Star Game.
Shortstop: Generally considered the most important defensive position in baseball aside from the pitcher-catcher battery. Responsible for a substantial amount of infield terrain, he chosen to man this position is looked to as the centerpiece of an infield.
Since Nomar, shortstop's proven tough to fill for the Red Sox.
Theo Epstein: Promoted from within the Red Sox organization, heralded as a boy wonder. Since taking the helm at General Manager in 2003, Epstein has been the face of a new era in Red Sox baseball — one that has featured 6 95-win seasons, 6 trips to the postseason, 4 ALCS appearances, and 2 World Series victories. Criticized probably too often for his edgy approach that emphasizes statistical analysis, in a results-based business, he’s produced ‘em.
These two entities, though, have not mixed well.
In a pattern more disturbing than that of the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Epstein’s Red Sox have featured 7 shortstops that at one time laid claim to the starting role, and the 8th — Marco Scutaro – will be throwing his hat into the ring less than 2 weeks. I personally don’t know why it’s been so difficult for Boston to settle on one, but I will at least provide a comprehensive timeline of the revolving door at a position of importance.