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Red Sox Hot Stove Report 
Spring Training, February 24, 2011

The "biggest" news coming out of the Red Sox camp in an uneventful Spring training is the signing of Te Wera Bishop, a New Zealand SOFTBALL Player!

Bishop, 17, has caught a big ball all his life as a catcher, but has decided to sign on as a spring training invite with the Red Sox. The Red Sox catching prospects are iffy at best, with Dusty Brown the only possible alternative to the Jarrod Saltalamacchia & Jason Varitek catching tandem. As strange as it may sound, a softball catcher may be even more adept at catching the rock than a baseball catcher at his age, so Bishop may have a future as a backup catcher for the Sox.

Also at Spring training the John Henry regime received a standing ovation at the Fort Myers training complex, as they started their tenth season at the helm of the Red Sox, with expectations about as high as before the two championship seasons under them, 2004 and 2007. The off-seasons of 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2010 are similar in the amount of free-agent signings the front office made to make up for team deficiencies. In the 2003 offseason the Red Sox signed Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke, shoring up the starting rotation and bullpen to go along with an explosive offense that set an AL record for runs in a season.

In the 2005 off-season, after the Red Sox were swept out of the first round by the eventual champion Chicago White Sox, Theo Epstein temporarily left his post of GM, a consortium of interim GMs and Tom Werner made a controversial trade, sending top prospects SS Hanley Ramirez, and SP Anibal Sanchez to the Florida Marlins for World Series MVP and Yankee killer Josh Beckett, and solid hitting Mike Lowell.

The trade has worked out better for the Marlins, as Sanchez threw a perfect game that same year, and Ramirez has turned out to be the best slugger at shortstop in the major leagues. Josh Beckett has only had one outstanding season for the Red Sox, and Lowell, although solid in 2006 and awesome in 2007, was hurt from 2008 on. They also signed star CF Coco Crisp, who was broke his thumb in a slide into third base two games into the season, and never really lived up to expectations he had set in his years in Cleveland.

In the 2006 off-season, the Red Sox won the bid for World Series baseball classic MVP Daisuke Matsuzaka, signed oft-injured but star outfielder J.D. Drew to replace dirt dog Trot Nixon. They also added noted Sox Killer Julio Lugo to a big contract, one of the many mistakes Theo Epstein has made at the Shortstop position. Marco Scutaro is another. Matsuzaka gave a press conference upon his arrival this year at Fort Myers, and no fans or press showed up for it. This shows how far Daisuke-san has fallen from the graces of Red Sox fans, the media, and even the overseas press in Japan, where the latest Japanese export, Tsuyoshi Nishioka of the Twins, is stealing all the headlines. Matsuzaka's best season was in 2008, when he won 17 games, and got out of 17 bases-loaded situations without giving up a run. That may not be perceived as a good way to pitch, but it's possible to get three walks in an inning and not give up a run. Daisuke pitches well when he's walking guys instead of giving into them and giving up the long ball. I would call it a unique Japanese spin on the art of pitching, never giving in to your opponent.

Still it has been a good thing that the Red Sox can expect another uneventful Spring Training, as bad scenes in spring training from the likes of Manny Ramirez, Carl Everett, Pedro Martinez, and Mike Lansing are all things of the past. The professionalism of the current ownership is a breath of fresh air from past regimes. This is not so much a glowing review as a denouncement of the previous owners of the Red Sox, who were practically allergic to fan's enthusiasm.

 

— Roman Llimar

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