Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Billy the Kid and the Wild, Wild Card

- Red Sox fans, get used to this look. -

The second annual Seinfeld League fantasy football draft is tonight, and yours truly has the third pick (Pilk is fourth). Pilk might try to explain that last year's league didn't count for whatever reason. That's because he won six straight games down the stretch and still finished 7-7.

But we'll talk about all that in greater detail tomorrow, after the draft: who we picked up, who we missed out on, and so forth. Today I want to talk about the Red Sox again, because the live blog went so well Saturday. Let the record show the Sox are undefeated in games we live blog, and averaging 14 runs per game. So as the Sox continue to stagger in the vague direction of October baseball, we may in fact have to repeat that grand experiment, Rob's objections notwithstanding.

Yes, the Sox are six games behind the Yankees at the start of play today, and yes, they're struggling to hold off both a surprising Rangers team and a resurgent Rays squad for the wild card. And yes, the offseason gambles of John Smoltz and Brad Penny blew up in Theo Epstein's face like a bad ACME rocket. And yes, Jason Varitek is hitting like a 37-year-old catcher. And yes, the vaunted bullpen can no longer hold your place in a movie ticket line, let alone a lead in a tight game. And yes, the New England Journal of Medicine will publish a paper this fall on Renteria syndrome, the inability of talented, small-market baseball players to exhibit any form of value while wearing a Red Sox uniform; Smoltz and Julio Lugo will be featured prominently in said article.

Still, at least they're not the Mets, which must be a large reason why Billy Wagner finally waived his no-trade clause and is currently shipping off to Boston. Wagner will be the tenth 2007 All-Star to play for the Red Sox this year, and will go a long way towards driving Jonathan Papelbon out of town sooner or later. If Wagner is indeed healthy -- and willing to shut up and pitch -- a hard-throwing lefty could do wonders for the Sox down the stretch. Ideally, Francona could even use Wagner as a "sabermetric closer": coming in not necessarily in the ninth inning but whenever the game was tightest, and quick outs were most crucial (say, two runners on in a one-run game in the seventh).

Of course, this all depends on the comically oversized "if"s above. But you have to think Wagner will be an important cog for the Sox down the stretch, assuming he's willing to be a cog for a couple of months.

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