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Success of ex-Red Sox is compounding club's misery
By MARC TOPKIN
Published September 10, 2006
As if it wasn't bad enough that Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon, Tim Wakefield, Coco Crisp, Wily Mo Pena, Mike Timlin, David Wells and Alex Gonzalez have all been injured. As if wasn't bad enough that David Ortiz had heart issues, Jon Lester has been diagnosed with cancer, Jonathan Papelbon's shoulder is hurting and manager Terry Francona was spitting blood on a regular basis. As if it wasn't bad enough that Manny Ramirez decided to stop playing when they needed him most, most of their Nation has given up on them and GM Theo Epstein didn't make any significant moves at the trade deadline and actually had to stoop to saying they don't have the resources to compete with the big, bad Yankees.
As if all that, and assorted other woes, weren't bad enough for the Red Sox, consider the events of last week:
A player they traded to the Marlins, rookie Anibal Sanchez, pitched a no-hitter, while another, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, became the eighth rookie in history to have a 100-run, 40-steal season and, with 58 extra-base hits, could be a strong NL Rookie of the Year candidate.
A pitcher they traded to San Diego, Cla Meredith, has a 29-inning scoreless streak that stretches to July 18 and has allowed a miniscule .124 average, while the catcher they traded, Josh Bard, is hitting .319 in a part-time role (as the Sox have used six catchers).
"We probably have the best trade in baseball there," Padres reliever Doug Brocail said. "Cripes, name a better trade than what these guys have done. I can't believe Cla wasn't kept in Boston's bullpen for the whole year."
Said Meredith: "I don't know if they're kicking themselves now. I couldn't care less."
Plus, Bronson Arroyo, whom they traded in spring training, is pitching well at the front of the Reds rotation; Freddy Sanchez, whom they tossed into a deal with Pittsburgh a couple years ago, is headed toward an NL batting championship; Derek Lowe, whom they let go after the magical 2004 season, is winning games for the Dodgers; Pedro Martinez, whom they also let walk, could be headed back to the World Series with the Mets; and Wells could end up in the postseason after being traded to the Padres.
Unless they sweep the upcoming four-game series at Yankee Stadium and unexpectedly get back in the AL East race, it is going to be a long, cold winter in Boston.
SIGN OF THE TIMES: Just about the time Philadelphia's Ryan Howard was hitting his 53rd homer last week, a column was posted on the Yahoo! Sports Web site that began with this sentence: "Is Ryan Howard juiced?"
Columnist Dan Wetzel wasn't making an accusation, just making the point that in this era the speculation is essentially going to be part of the story regarding home run accomplishments. The question was also raised on the popular ESPN show Pardon the Interruption.
Howard understands, but doesn't like it.
"People are entitled to their opinions," he said. "But it does bother me. It casts a shadow on the game. I know I'm not using steroids. This barrel right here (his stomach) is proof enough. People are going to say what they want to say. I thought about it once and then it was like, 'Well, whatever.' I'm not doing it. If they want to test me, they can test me. I just think it s----. The thing about it is, if you're going to make those kinds of comments, have proof. Otherwise, you can ruin people's reputations."
NO-NO NEWS: Sanchez's no-hitter against Arizona on Wednesday ended the longest drought in modern history: 841 days and 6,364 games since Randy Johnson's perfect game for Arizona against Atlanta on May 18, 2004. ... Arizona's Luis Gonzalez and Chad Tracy played in both games. ... It was the 10th no-hitter called by Marlins broadcaster Dave Van Horne, who used to be with the Expos.
QUOTEBOOK: Padres pitcher Chan Ho Park, after getting transfusions from donors who included teammate Jake Peavy's wife, Katie, and team sports therapist Kelly Calabrese: "Maybe next year the color of my hair will change and my accent will be better. Hopefully, I'll be a different pitcher." ... Former A's pitcher Tim Hudson, asked where free-agent-to-be Barry Zito's perfect fit would be: "Do they have a league on Mars?" ... Dodgers broadcaster Charley Steiner, on the importance of acquiring veteran pitcher Greg Maddux: "The (young) players looked at him like he was the King Tut exhibit. When he arrived, it was the defining moment of the season."
NUMBERS GAME: Since a 56-29 start, the Tigers, heading into play Saturday, are 27-27. ... The Dodgers might not want to start Brad Penny if they're in the playoffs at Shea Stadium: His 6.75 career ERA there is the worst of any pitcher with at least 10 starts. ... Howard's 12 homers in a 48 at-bats from Aug. 25 through Friday were more than nine other teams. ... Derek Jeter broke Phil Rizzuto's Yankees record of 1,647 game played at shortstop. ... If Atlanta manager Bobby Cox's streak of winning seasons ends at 15, he'll match Tampa's Al Lopez and Earl Weaver for the third longest; Joe McCarthy had 20 and Sparky Anderson 17.
MISCELLANY: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is endorsing a Power Yoga for Baseball DVD. ... The Twins are expecting Francisco Liriano to return to the rotation Wednesday. ... Peavy had to alter his between-starts throwing schedule after bruising a toe Monday - in a home-plate celebration. ... White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is being considered to manage the MLB All-Star team that will tour Japan in November. ... Team USA qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. ... The Indians are shutting down rookie Jeremy Sowers to limit his innings even though he is 6-0, 1.93 in his past nine starts.
- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.