As much as the Red Sox try to control the flow of information these days -- Theo Epstein's contract status is a private matter, discussing a player's injury status is a violation of federal law, trade talks are off-limits, and No. 1 draft choices come to terms when the team says they've come to terms -- there's nothing the Sox can do about news from the hinterlands regarding their former players.
And this has been an especially bad week for an organization that already has its hands full, not only with such pressing matters as Jon Lester's cancer, David Ortiz's heart, and Jonathan Papelbon's shoulder, but a host of other questions guaranteed to keep a club executive awake at night.
You know, like what might have been had Manny Ramírez tried to play through his knee pain when the Sox were still in contention? Or, how does a team manage to go through 27 pitchers in a season, 13 starters, while its Triple A affiliate suits up 70 (!) players in a single summer? Or, is top prospect Dustin Pedroia (4 for his first 40) just trying too hard or is he simply overmatched. Or, is Keith Foulke going to exercise his contractual right to come back next season even if the team would prefer a simple ``Adios "? Or, should a team that places a premium on on-base percentage have anticipated that Coco Crisp would have the lowest leadoff OBP of any player in the American League?
That's just a sampling, but it should give you some clue to how looking inward is exhausting enough. But then you start looking elsewhere, and suddenly Terry Francona is sharing his bottle of Metamucil with his bosses.
Just this week alone:
Anibal Sanchez, who went to the Marlins in the Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell deal, threw a no-hitter, the first by a big league rookie since Bud Smith of the Cardinals in 2001. A fluke? Maybe. Sanchez looked very ordinary while giving up two home runs to Ortiz and another to Ramírez in a relief appearance in July. But looking at his performance overall, a 7-2 record and 2.89 ERA, the outing against the Sox appears to have been the aberration.
``Somebody thought he was OK, but nobody thought he'd be doing what he's doing," said Bill Lajoie, who was part of the Gang of Four that was making personnel decisions for the Sox while Epstein was on semester break and the trade was made.
Making a 360-degree spin on the play that helped save Sanchez's no-hitter, in addition to recording the final out, was shortstop Hanley Ramírez, the former top Sox prospect who over the weekend in Milwaukee went 8 for 15, including a four-hit game, drove in six runs, and scored three. Ramírez has 44 stolen bases, scored 104 runs, and has 58 extra-base hits, including 13 home runs in his first season in the big leagues. Can anyone say, ``Rookie of the Year candidate"?
In San Diego, reliever Cla Meredith, who was rushed to the big leagues by the Sox last season and never recovered in '05, then was dealt to the Padres as part of the Doug Mirabelli/Josh Bard trade, has pitched 29 consecutive scoreless innings, within one of the club record. Meredith, who has three wins in his last three appearances, has not allowed a run since July 18. In that span, opposing batters are hitting .124 against him. Bard, meanwhile, has tapered off since the start of August (.236 in 21 games) but is still batting .319 with 34 RBIs in a part-time role behind the plate.
``We probably had the best trade in baseball there," Padres reliever Doug Brocail told the San Diego Union-Tribune. ``Cripes, name a better trade than what these guys have done. I can't believe Cla wasn't kept in Boston's bullpen for the whole year."
Meredith sounded a bit annoyed with the Sox. ``When Boston traded me they were like, `Great, let's get Meredith the heck out of here.' I don't know if they're kicking themselves now."
Only with a Shaq-sized shoe.
Can you tolerate more? Well, there was:
Spring-training swap-out Bronson Arroyo, on three days' rest, throwing a complete-game shutout against the Giants. ``That was what you call a masterpiece," Giants manager Felipe Alou said afterward;
Rookie third baseman Andy Marte, who went to Cleveland in the Crisp deal, hitting his first grand slam for the Tribe;
Derek Lowe of the Dodgers (a.k.a Red Sox West) holding the Brewers to one unearned run on just 79 pitches in eight innings, his third win in nine days, making him 6-1 with a 1.79 ERA since Aug. 1. ``That's the best I've seen Derek and I faced him a lot when he was in Boston," said Kevin Mench of the Brewers;
43-year-old David Wells holding the Reds to just a run in six innings in his return to the Padres Sunday;
Rudy Seanez, yes, the very same, notching a win in relief for the Padres.
Epstein, like most of his peers, have long argued that one must take the long view of any trade. A sensible policy, of course. But this is one week where if you were standing on the ``T" and Theo offered to trade places, you might first want to check what's under his seat.