Playing nine innings while pausing to belatedly reflect upon Sunday's 15th anniversary of the Red Sox' franchise-altering trade of Carl Pavano to the Expos ...
1. A couple of weeks ago when I wrote my positional breakdowns for the Red Sox and how free agency may come into play, I mentioned in passing that Lance Berkman might be a good fit here. Full disclosure: That was on more of a whim based on my appreciation of him and his career than a belief he might actually be on the Red Sox' radar. So it was a pleasant surprise to hear that Ben Cherington has at least expressed some degree of interest in the 36-year-old former Astro, Cardinal, and Yankee. Perhaps if Berkman, who is just a year removed from a 31-homer, .959-OPS season, is brought in to get 450 plate appearances or so as a platoon first baseman and occasional left fielder while spelling David Ortiz (who is fifth on his career comp list) at designated hitter, he'd be a heck of a low-risk, high-reward pickup.
2. I believe the rumors that the Red Sox could be players for Josh Hamilton, but with a major caveat that didn't accompany said rumors: only if it's on a three-year deal or less, emphasis on less. There's no way they're locking him up long-term, and they shouldn't. He's a phenomenal talent, but he's on the wrong side of 30, injury- and bizarre-incident-prone, scouts suggest he's becoming more of a mistake hitter, and it's at least somewhat telling that the Rangers, who know the depth and details of his demons, seem willing to say goodbye. The Sox should remain patient, because while the sport is flush with cash, there will still be very good value to be found after the impending overpays for the likes of Anibal Sanchez and B.J. Upton. Perhaps Hamilton will realize the long-term deal isn't coming (though it probably will) and take a shorter, ridiculously lucrative one -- how does two years and $60 million sound? -- that rewards a team that waits.
3. I will wholeheartedly agree that the great Miguel Cabrera was the right choice ... for the Hank Aaron Award.
4. As for that other award, well, I think you know where I stand, and I'm not going to rehash every stubborn argument that grew tiresome 15 minutes after Cabrera was announced as the winner. I'd have voted for Mike Trout, and it would have been an easy choice, and maybe someday I'll even have a vote in such matters. Cabrera's Triple Crown is a wonderful and rare accomplishment, but those three statistics of varying importance -- as well as his other hitting feats -- don't trump all that Trout did offensively, defensively, and on the bases. Sean McAdam, Tim Britton, Dayn Perry, and Jonah Keri were among those who all wrote thoughtfully on the debate; meanwhile, Mitch Albom completed his metamorphosis into a best-selling troll. And the notion that the stats nerds lost because Trout was the analytical fan's choice is kind of backward. Beyond the praise he received for willingly moving to the third base (that's how you do it, Jeter), Cabrera's case was based solely on numbers. Meanwhile, it was the sabermetrically inclined among us who were considering defense and baserunning, two facets of the game that usually belong to the "I trust what my eyes tell me'' crowd. Ah, well. Fascinating players, fascinating argument.
5. Not sure what would have seemed more unlikely entering the season -- that no Red Sox players would receive a single vote in the Most Valuable Player balloting, or that Josh Reddick, a member of the submerged 2011 Red Sox who was dealt to the A's before the season, would finish 16th.
6. As a child of the '70s, I get the nostalgic reaction to the news that Hostess was going out of business (though that may not exactly be the case), though if everyone who lamented its demise actually ate a Twinkie the past 30 years, the company would be thriving. Personally, I think Hostess lost its way when it stopped printing baseball cards on the bottom of the boxes sometime around 1980 after doing so for most of the late '70s. As much as my 8-year-old self appreciated a Ring-Ding, those cards, which were probably made from many of the same delicious chemicals as the food products, were the reason their products ended up in the Finn household.
7. Have to admit, when I first heard the Blue Jays had hired (re-hired, actually) John Gibbons as their manager, I thought it was an uninspired choice, the culmination of an apparently uninspired managerial search that once listed ultimate retread Jim Tracy among the front-runners. Then I read this, and while I presume Shea Hillenbrand would disagree, it sounds like he's going to be the right fit in a lot of ways the second time around.
8. OK, so perhaps Carl Pavano wasn't the real ace in that trade referenced in the intro. The date -- November 18, 1997 -- Dan Duquette acquired Pedro Martinez from the Expos is a day thought should be celebrated each year, and it's appropriate it's right around Thanksgiving. I was mildly disappointed Trout didn't win the MVP, but I'll never be as ticked off as I was in '99 when Ivan Rodriguez edged Pedro because of the two disingenuous/dingbat writers who left him off the ballot.
I suppose it's no surprise that there's never been a major league player whose last name was Stuffing. I did look. No Cranberry, either, and Onions belongs to Bill Raftery. All right, I'll stop. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.