13 January 2006

Millar Finds a Taker, Big Guns Still Unsigned...

Kevin Millar, 1B for the Boston Red Sox these last three years, has found a new home for himself, agreeing to a one year, $2.1 million dollar deal with Baltimore yesterday. Millar will be 34 this season, and has spent time in Florida and Boston.

Say what you want about Millar- he sucked at the end, was a little obnoxious at times, and was pretty petulant about losing playing time despite his sucking and our having better options- but he will certainly go down as one of the more interesting Red Sox players in recent memory.

First off- I've had the pleasure of seeing a game at Fenway in the Green Monster seats twice- and both times, Kevin Millar had a walk off hit to win a game. Once in 2003 against Seattle, a wallball double scoring Damian Jackson with Mike- and once in 2005 against Oakland, a HR off Octavio Dotel to save an otherwise crappy game.

Kevin Millar was also immensely important in the 2004 Series run, a fact that people often forget- he hit the HR in Game One of the ALDS against Anaheim that opened things up. He worked The Walk off Rivera in Game Four of the ALCS to put Dave Roberts on base for The Steal and score on The Single by The Pro. He also worked a walk again- this time off Tom Gordon in the 8th inning of Game Five after Ortiz HR'd to bring the Sox within one. Roberts ran, Nixon singled him to 3rd, Varitek SF'd him home. Tie game. Millar also kept the 4-run 4th inning alive in Game Six with a bases-empty 2B that started the rally that provided all the runs we needed that night. Millar also got the hit parade going in the 2nd inning of Game Seven, and was the first man to score on Johnny Damon's grand slam.

He's the guy who said it, too, before Game 4- "don't let us win tonight." The Cowboy Up stuff was goofy, and he was a little red-light happy, but for anyone that recalls the Iron Curtain like silence and brooding that was the Red Sox culture since the mid-80s at least, Kevin Millar being brought in (in what was an equally bizarre turn of events- Japan, waiver claims, reneging on deals, pleas for his family's safety... weird stuff) revolutionized the Red Sox into a genuinely likeable group of people. It's easy to forget all this.

He was never my favorite player- but I won't forget what he did for the team, and one has to wish him the best when he's not playing the Red Sox.

Back in early November, I decided to try and guess where all the big-to-semi-big FA names would land. There were 42 names I predicted on- eleven of which are as-of-yet unresolved (Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas, Sammy Sosa, Bengie Molina, Roger Clemens, Alex Gonzalez, Richard Hidalgo, Erubiel Durazo, Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Weaver and Jamie Moyer).

I got six correct. Here they are:

Hideki Matsui (NYY)
Doug Mientkiewicz (KCR)
Jeromy Burnitz (PIT)
Paul Konerko (CWS)
Nomar Garciaparra (LAD)
Kyle Farnsworth (NYY)

Of the ones unresolved, I picked the following destinations: Mike Piazza (OAK), Roger Clemens (HOU), Rafael Palmeiro (RET), Jeff Weaver (BAL), Jamie Moyer (SEA), Frank Thomas (CWS), Bengie Molina (LAA), Alex Gonzalez (ATL), Richard Hidalgo (COL), Sammy Sosa (RET), and Erubiel Durazo (LAA). Of those guesses, I'd consider the first five to be reasonably good chances of happening, the next three no chance of happening, and the last three I have no idea.

So as it stands right now, six out of thirty one correct, for a percentage of 19.3%- all told, not horrible, and I guessed some pretty random ones right on (Burnitz, Mientkiewicz).

Here's the point of all this- it's kind of amazing (and then again, maybe not) that at this late a date in the offseason, Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas and Sammy Sosa can't seem to buy an offer. I assumed Thomas would sign a short deal to stay in Chicago and finish his career there- instead, they re-signed Konerko and traded for Jim Thome.

My impression is, actually, that the A's are currently in the process of deciding between Piazza and Thomas. Money will be a factor, but I think they're deciding which they like more- Thomas at DH with more offense, higher injury risk and bad defense here and there at 1B, or Piazza at DH with a bit less offense, lower injury risk (relative to Thomas) and bad defense here and there at C. Ultimately, my take is that the A's sign Piazza, and Thomas latches on in LAA or TEX or DET. We'll see.

My initial guess that Sosa would retire appears to be dead wrong- though it seemed to me he could not have cared less about baseball last year, he did appear to enjoy the cashflow, so he's going to give it a go for at least one more year. The man has literally flopped off the shelf, has huge steroid stigma attached to him, was an embarassment last year both on the field and off, and probably wants more money than he's worth. I'm totally lost about where he'll land, but supposedly the Nationals are making a pitch which, in RFK, would be an exceptionally bad idea- par for the Bowden course.

I'm still not sure why the Angels think they shouldn't sign Bengie Molina- I'm assuming they're going to hand the job to his brother, but he's 31 and has never been very good. I guess they're counting on Jeff Mathis, which makes sense. I'm betting Molina lands in Toronto for a lot less than he'd hoped for.

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