So today’s a date in Red Sox history that for as important as it was, I bet there are few fans (including myself) who could’ve picked this date out of a lineup.
2002: Dan Duquette is fired as Red Sox GM.
We all know he wouldn’t give Roger Clemens enough money to come back and had issues with pretty much every manager that came into town in his decade (or so) of running the Sox.
Before we all stand up and applaud, let’s give the man some credit. If you look at his record, he actually did a pretty good job for the Sox.
Who were three of Dan Duquette’s first free agent signings for the Sox following the strike in 1994? Hint, none of them ever played for the Sox.
In 1995, he pulled the trigger to bring Rick Aguilera to Boston. Even if it was for just a half season, Ags recorded 20 saves and all it cost the Sox was a minor leaguer, J.J. Johnson, and Frank Rodriguez, who went a combined 29-39 for his career with an ERA of 5.53.
1996: Parted ways with Ken Ryan, Lee Tinsley and Glenn Murray to get Heathcliff Slocumb and two other guys I never heard of. At the offset the trade didn’t look that great, but we know what happened next. (Of course at the time, I looked at this trade and was outraged that he gave up Ken Ryan. I thought he was gonna be awesome.)
1997: Slocumb becomes a Mariner. And Red Sox history is changed forever by the additions of Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek.
Following the 1997 season, another champion piece comes to Boston, as Duquette reels in NL Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr.
Then in 1999, Duquette brought Carl Everett to Boston, shipping off Adam Everett and minor leaguer Greg Miller. While Carl Everett would end up showing us he’s a head-case, it was fun to watch other teams complain about how close he was to the plate when he stood in the box.
Then there were Duquette’s big signings: Tim Wakefield, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon and Dennis Eckersly have to be at the top of that list.
Really, if you look back at what Duquette managed to do, it’s rather amazing how many of the 2004 pieces came into place because of the Duke.
So on this day, March 1, 2009, let’s reflect & thank the Duke for his role (including being fired) in helping the Sox win two World Series in four years. Good day Duke wherever you are (last I knew he was GM in the Israel Baseball League, no joke!)
New Rules for free agency went into place (and were subsequently removed) during the strike of 1994 meaning the Red Sox signing of Sammy Sosa, John Wetteland and Kevin Appier were voided.
Photo courtesy Sonsofsamhorn.com
When I first started thinking about the 2009 Braves, I thought the additions of Derek Lowe, Javier Vasquez and Kenshin Kawakami were the icing on the cake to renew the franchise.
Then I looked at their depth chart.
Beyond Chipper Jones and Casey Kotchman the rest of the names on the depth chart are unknowns, players who’ve fallen short of potential or youngsters that are hard to bet on.
The pitching staff is going to be better. Lowe, Vasquez and Kawakami should help extend the rotation and take some pressure off the bullpen. Lowe’s a proven winner and while calling him an ace may be a stretch, he’s at least a durable #1. Vasquez and Kawakami both have to prove themselves this year, but so long as they both get near 200 innings, it won’t be a complete disaster.
With Derek Lowe expected to take the hill opening day, he will be just the 7th different pitcher to open a season for the Braves in 20 years. Three of the other six are obvious (Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux), but can you name the other three pitchers who served as opening day pitchers. Bonus point if you can name the pitcher who started before the three HOFers streak began.
I’m not sure there is any real offense here. The trouble is there are two good hitters on the team and a bunch of guys that you’re just not sure of anymore or yet. It’s not all bad. Teams like the 2009 Braves have succeeded in the past (look at the Rays last year), but I don’t think anyone is betting the Braves to have enough pop to put up a playoff run.
Then there’s the Bobby Cox factor. Cox has been at the helm since 1990, easily the longest termed ML manager in present days. Only five of the 19 years he’s been managing the Braves they’ve missed the playoffs. Of course three of those seasons were 2006-2008. I’m not sure anyone will be calling for Cox to be released at the end of 2009, but Braves fans probably already know the end is near.
Oh and did I mention the Braves decided spending some dough on career Brave John Smoltz wasn’t worth it. Instead, Smoltz is taking his HOF career to Boston while the Braves piece-meal their pitching staff together.
While the Braves helped out the pitching staff, there are still way too many questions throughout the roster. Last year was the Braves worst season since Cox took over in 1990 and the additions for 2009 don’t appear to be enough to right the ship.
The Braves finish a snip ahead of the Nationals with a 70-92 record.
Tim Hudson started opening day in 2006 and 2008.
Russ Ortiz started in 2004
John Burkett started in 2001
Glavine – 1990, 92, 99, 2002
Smoltz – 1991, 97, 05, 2007
Maddux – 1993, 94, 95, 96, 98, 2000, 03
Zane Smith started opening day in 1989, the year before the HOFers took control of the Braves future.