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Saturday, December.29, 2012
Now that it appears the Red Sox have “wrapped up” their big Christmas week trade with the Pirates, it got me thinking about how the Sox have fared in past late-December moves. It’s too early to say how this swap is going to shake out; if closer Joel Hanrahan pitches in Boston like he did during most of the past two seasons, he’ll be a huge step in the rebuilding effort. Here’s a look back at the success of some other Christmas-time transactions by the Red Sox:
Result: Not looking good so far. Bailey was injured most of the season and ineffective upon his return. The Hanrahan trade makes it pretty clear Sox management believes Bailey won’t bounce back strong, and Sweeney was allowed to go to free agency after a lackluster .260, 0-homer year with Boston. As for Reddick, he was one of the biggest MLB surprises of 2012, hitting 32 homers and earning a Gold Glove with the A’s. HO-HO-HO Meter — (1/2 HO)
Dec. 24, 2004: Catcher Jason Varitek re-signed as free agent.
Result: Strong move for two reasons. Although Varitek turned 33 in April 2005, he remained a productive offensive and defensive performer for most of the four-year deal. More importantly, the captain stabilized an ever-evolving pitching staff and helped lead the Red Sox to another World Series title in 2007. (HO-HO-HO)
Dec. 21, 2001: Outfielder Johnny Damon signed as free agent.
Result: Idiot’s delight. Damon delivered in every way for the Red Sox over the four-year contract, as a speedy lead-off man with power, an excellent defensive outfielder (minus his throwing arm), as a tough, enthusiastic leader in the clubhouse, and as a clutch performer in the postseason. His grand slam in Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS is one of the biggest hits in team history. (HO-HO-HO-HO)
December 19, 2000: Outfielder Manny Ramirez signed as free agent. Over 8 years, Sox fans enjoyed Manny happy moments.
Result: Best free-agent signing in team history. Even at eight years and $160 million, Manny was worth it — teaming with David Ortiz to form a devastating one-two punch and averaging .313/.412/.594 with 36 homers and 114 RBI from 2001-2007 as a major cog on two World Series champions. (HO-HO-HO-HO)
Dec. 22, 1980: Postmark date stamped on a contract mailed to Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk, two days after a deadline expired — making Fisk a Free Agent.
Result: Holy Cliff Clavin. Fisk signs with the White Sox and over next 13 more seasons hits 214 home runs. (No HOs)
Dec. 26, 1919: Outfielder/pitcher Babe Ruth sold to Yankees for $125,000 plus a $350,00 loan.
Result: Owner Harry Frazee’s folly. Frazee didn’t like Ruth’s wild ways, or his demands for a $20,000 contract. So he sent the Babe packing, then watched him hit 659 homers for New York through 1934. (No HOs)
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of www.mlbreports.com and their partners.***
A big thank-you goes out to Saul Wisnia for preparing today’s featured article. Saul shares his Fenway Reflections at http://saulwisnia.blogspot.com. Born just up the street from “America’s Favorite Ballpark,” he is a former sports and news correspondent at The Washington Post and feature writer at The Boston Herald. He has authored, co-authored, or otherwise contributed to numerous books on Boston and general baseball history here, and his articles and essays have appeared in Sports Illustrated, Red Sox Magazine, Boston Magazine, and The Boston Globe. His most recent book, Fenway Park: The Centennial, was excerpted on http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/. Wisnia lives in Newton, Massachusetts, 5.94 miles from America’s favorite ballpark, with his wife, two kids, and Wally (the cat, not the Green Monster). Feel free to follow Saul on Twitter Follow @SaulWizz.
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Pending a failed physical or other unforeseen mishap, Kevin Youkilis will be manning third base and wearing pinstripes when the Red Sox open the 2013 season at Yankee Stadium on April 1. Amazingly, it won’t be until July 19 that the teams will square off in Boston, giving Fenway Park fans their first chance to see their former favorite son in a New York uniform.
Red Sox Nation had an opportunity to adjust to life with Youk in the visitor’s dugout when the White Sox visited Fenway shortly after his trade to Chicago last summer, but this is a much different situation. Boston fans may develop a kinder, gentler hatred for the Yankees since 2004, but there is something about seeing a former Red Sox in enemy colors that still tugs at the heartstrings.
Here’s a look back at some of the biggest Boston heroes to wind up in the Bronx — and how they fared on their Fenway returns. Read the rest of this entry