Monday, November 22, 2004

"Pulling only makes it tighter."

Eric Neel has an amusing piece on the perils of Pedro's contract negotiations over at ESPN Page 2 today.

All of the charges and counter-charges in this hackneyed saga seem to me like so much shadow-boxing: a great many punches thrown with no real sense that any of them are meant to hit a target. Pedro and the Red Sox are caught in opposite ends of a Chinese finger puzzle (hence Ralph Wiggum's incisive eloquence as the title for this post). His overtures to the Yankees aside, Pedro isn't going to get more money or more guaranteed years than the Sox offered. Its admittedly justifiable irritation with Pedro's ego aside, the Red Sox front office does not have the option of acquiring a comparable starting pitcher. In short, they're stuck with each other. So let's junk this knuckle-tugging back and forth and get the deal done, already.


Hold on, though. Do the Red Sox have the option of acquiring a comparable starting pitcher after all? If you're thinking Carl Pavano, the answer is no. He'd be a nice pickup in lieu of Derek Lowe, but he wouldn't fill Pedro's shoes. (If you don't believe me, check out their respective strikeout numbers.) What if, though, Billy Beane really is dangling one of the Big Three in a potential trade? Tim Hudson instead of Petey? At the risk of sounding disloyal, that would do nicely.

There are some superficial reasons to think this could happen. The Red Sox and the A's have philosophical similarities, so it's possible, even plausible, that the Sox might have players in their system who would fit Beane's scheme. The A's could be looking to trim payroll, and Hudson comes due for a more lucrative deal at the end of this season. The problem is that the most desirable Red Sox prospects (Kevin Youkilis, Hanley Ramirez) play positions that are occupied by relatively young and superior players in Oakland (Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby).

This, like much else in the air before the first week in December, is speculative anyway. Signing Pedro remains a likelier objective, provided the negotiations don't fester into further acrimony.


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