If you could unload a player from your favorite team onto your rival team, who would it be? And if you could poach a player from that rival team and put him on the team you root for, who would you want? These are the type of games I play in my head when it’s freezing outside and we’re still over a month away from baseball.
There are a few ways to approach these important choices. You could base your decision entirely on performance. In this case, you’d take the best player, and give up the worst player. Money could also be a factor. Whose contract would you like to unload? Who has a very appealing contract on the other side? Or you could factor in age and projectability. Who is going to help your favorite team in the long run? Who is a shell of his former self? You also might base your decision completely on your like or dislike of certain players. Which player on your favorite player would you prefer to root against? Which player on your least favorite team do you secretly like?
Here are my choices: I would send Kyle Farnsworth on the Chinatown bus to
South Station. That’s a pretty obvious choice. I did think about Carl
Pavano, but, honestly, I would never experience the pleasure of seeing him in a
Sox uniform. Pavano is more concept than reality at this point. The maddening inning that Kyle Farnsworth gives you is all too real. It helps that he has an expensive contract as well. There is a risk, however, in choosing Farnsworth. He does have upside. He has had a couple of dominant seasons. What if the Sox were able to get one of those seasons out of him? It’s a gamble I’m willing to take.
Who would I take away from the Red Sox? If it were based purely on performance, I would take Josh Beckett. But this is where personal dislike plays a part. Josh Beckett is the enemy. He’s been an enemy of Yanks fans since 2003 and he will remain that until he retires (unless he signs with them in 2011). There is a similar reason for not choosing David Ortiz. Big Papi is a Red Sock (quoting Raffy Palmeiro: "Period"). What’s so frustrating for this Yanks fan is that he actually has a swing and a legendary quality that screams New York Yankee. He is the Yankeeography that got away. Oh well. Because he is now an historic Boston sports figure, he cannot wear pinstripes. It just wouldn’t be right.
So that leaves me with a few other choices. I hear this Jacoby Ellsbury kid is something special. Plus, he’s a looker. What does that have to with anything? Well, someone has to carry the torch when Jeter retires. But beyond that, he’s a valuable commodity because of his youth, talent, his contract, and the position he plays. The Yanks have plenty of talented pitching in the pipeline, but they’re still somewhat lacking in young positional talent. That said, Melky is close to a viable centerfielder, and he could improve to the point where Ellsbury would be a luxury. And there is also the idea in the back of my head that there is never enough starting pitching. That is why my final choice is Daisuke Matsuzaka. First, he’s good, and he potentially could be great. Then there is the important matter of his contract. The most expensive part of it is paid for and the remainder of it is well under market. He also possesses a grace that is so Yankee-like that it hurts me to see it wasted at Fenway. You get the dirt dogs, the rah rah guys, the emotional Papelbon types. We get the classy, introverted, quiet professionals (Joba screams into his glove. He is learning). We can agree on that, can’t we?
So who would your choices be?