...because otherwise, I might be really pissed off.
If I weren't such an upbeat, positive person I might be wanting to dump Brad Penny on the side of the road like a bagged-up Mafia hit right about now. I might be pulling my hair, screaming over and over and over again, "I TOLD YOU THIS WOULD HAPPEN!!! NEVER SIGN OLD BROKEN HAS-BEEN PITCHERS!!! IT NEVER WORKS!!!!" Just because Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli hit the jackpot a couple of times with retreads (retreads I *love*, btw), the Sox of late seem determined to build an empire doing the same. It almost never really works out, because while you may *not* get what you pay for (see: Drew, J.D.), it is almost a lock that you won't get anything more. Despite the sycophantic chatter, nothing is a "low-risk" signing in pitching. What you risk is performances that leave you in a big hole like Smoltz gave you and, more often than not, Penny as well. Although he hasn't been nearly as big a bust as Smoltz, most of the time the guy is a five-inning nightmare, a soundless scream. If per chance the Sox do make the playoffs and his name is on the postseason roster, I will waterboard Theo Epstein myself whilst wearing a black hood and Dick Cheney mask. It won't be pretty.
The next great white hope on the endless merry-go-round of Red Sox roster moves? Billy Wagner, another has-been who, like Paul Byrd, last had it around 1982. Marvy. I tell you, I have been wondering at times this year if I am watching one of the premiere teams in MLB or some parallel universe version of the Kansas City Royals (Amusing comment on the NESN site: "I see the Sox are earth friendly. Recycle and reuse.")
Yes, I know-a (nearly) 20-run beatdown is what sparked the great comeback of 2004. I know. I was there. But here is the thing about that-this team in many ways is reminding me more of the 2004 Yankees than the 2004 Red Sox (although the Yankees don't do anything on the cheap the way the Red Sox try to, not even lose). Shaky rotation. An overreliance on guys beyond their prime in the lineup (David Ortiz, Jason Varitek) or just underperforming for long stretches (Jason Bay, J.D. Drew). A circus act on the left side of the infield. While you wouldn't know it from last night, the Sox do have a much better bullpen than the '04 Yanks, but that is about it. The Sox don't have the lineup they had in '04 and the Yankees have much better pitching than they had in '04 and can still have their way with the bats. It's been building all season towards a perfect storm.
The best thing, though, is that, despite all the bombastic rhetoric, the game still has to be played before the outcome is determined. Key Igawa, er, Jinichi Tawaza vs. A.J. Burnett at 4:15 on Fox.
(Pic lifted from boston.com)