Friday, November 28, 2003

The Red Sox Nation has held its collective breath since Monday to see whether Curt Schilling would accept the trade from the Diamondbacks to the Red Sox. Tonight, the Nation could breath again as Schilling agreed--with the help of a contract extension--to come to Boston and bring a championship to the Red Sox.

On paper, the deal does much to bolster what should be a good pitching staff. The tough part about paper is making it reality. Will Pedro hold up? How much does Schilling have left at 37. Will the real Derek Lowe stand up? On paper, who Boston gave up to get Schilling doesn't seem to hurt much. It is unclear whether Casey Fossum will ever be a successful MLB pitcher and Brandon Lyon shows promise but not exceptional promise.

For Red Sox fans, this will be a bold strike and will hearten even cynical fans. Schilling is considered a superstar and anytime your home town team gets a superstar, it's exciting.

Although the Marlins have promised their fans that the red tag sale that happened after their last championship won't happen this time, they do have to manage their money wisely. The Marlins' first attempt at that objective was to trade first baseman Derrek Lee to the Cubs for fellow first baseman, Hee Sheop Choi. I believe this trade hurts the Marlins.

Not only was Lee a pretty good hitter, he was one of the best fielding first baseman in baseball. The Fan has written in the past how much a good fielding first baseman improves total infield defense and pitching ERA. To repeat some of the points I made back then, look at how the Mets went from record setting defense with Jon Olerud to mediocrity the next year with Todd Zeile playing first. There is no coincidence that the Mets went from contenders to chumps in a short time after the Olerud trade.

Olerud is largely responsible for the great run the Mariners have had and he was a big part of the Blue Jays championship seasons because his defense allowed the Tony Fernandez and Bret Boones of the world range more freely and be more daring on the infield. The Marlins team defense will suffer without Lee and team defense is one of the reasons they were champions in the first place.

Indications are that the Marlins are far away from being able to keep catcher, Ivan Rodriguez. If they can't sign him, that will be two of the leagues best defenders lost in one off season. Yikes!

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