Is the Christmas Shopping Done?

by Bill Murphy

How many of you have your Christmas shopping done? Over the years, people are habitually the same. They either shop early OR they shop late. I find, for the most part, people stay the same way they were in high school, when it came to term papers and test studying. They either do the bulk of the work ahead of time OR they cram things all in, at the end. For some, being a baseball general manager, works the same way. If you are Dave Dombrowski, you had the overwhelming bulk of your purchases done, even before the Winter Meetings began in Nashville. For the Red Sox, Christmas came early again this year, just the way it did a year ago, BUT, Red Sox fans, hope this years’ shopping turns out better.

In the real world, most everyone has the success of each of their Christmas’ gifts, figured out by the time they go to bed on December 25th. In the baseball world, shopping can take five or more years to sort out. The Red Sox have finished last in three of the last four years. In one of the most bizarre happenings in baseball history, they managed a World Series title in that fourth year. Never before has anyone gone from worst to first to worse to worse. Most teams though would gladly join the club IF they really were guaranteed a title every four years, BUT, such an occurrence, may never happen again.

David Price’s price was right, at the very least for the lefthanded pitcher. Like Carl Crawford before him, HOW could anyone ever turn down an offer that was well above any other bid. There appear to be a number of players, who are either not cut out for Boston OR plain just don’t want to play there. HOWEVER, IF you pay them way more than the going price, they are still likely to say yes.

The Price acquistion could turn out in a variety of ways. PROBABLY, the best way it could go for Boston, is that Price, could enjoy three years with between 44 and 56 wins for the Sox and then he opts out of his contract. IF NOT, the Sox might be paying a whole lot of money, for very few victories down the stretch of the deal. Price has the right to opt out after that three year period. If Price either gets hurt (the odds are low) or doesn’t pitch well (low chances again BUT it could happen), it will be a long seven years.

Remember CC Sabathia’s long term deal with the Yankees. IF the Bronx Bombers had turned their heads when Sabathia opted out of his deal, he would have a much higher appreciation level in the Empire State, then he has now. Following the opt out, the Yanks signed him on for another tour of duty. It would have been tough to let him go after his strong start in pinstripes, BUT, the odds of success lessen every season of a long term commitment.

Back to the notion, that baseball shopping is much different than Christmas gift buying. There are several dates on the calendar for making baseball deals, while December 25th is a set date. The Sox amazingly had addressed all their areas of need before Baseball’s Winter Meetings began in Nashville, Tennessee this week. They entered the winter with three distinct areas to improve in. They were in quest of better starting pitching, especially an ace. They needed a righthand hitting fourth outfielder, hopefully with some power. There was also major interest in upgrading the bullpen. To already have David Price, Chris Young and Craig Kimbel in tow, took all the pressure in the world off from Dombrowski. By the time the opening gavel fell Monday morning, Dombrowski had earned the right to sit back and rest. The deal the GM made hours after that, picking up two more relievers, Carson Smith and Roenis Ellis from Seattle, was the equivalent of the icing on the cak……., oh I mean the tree.

Who knows what the rest of this week will bring in Nashville, BUT, the Sox are definitely a better team today, than they were when last season ended. Is Dombrowski done or is there more news to be delivered by the time, the team gathers in Fort Myers in February? One rumor is over the top though. If Hanley Ramirez and/or Pablo Sandoval were indeed brought along in a suitcase to be dealt this week, at least they must be doing well in their weight reduction programs, just to fit into those carry-ons.

IS UVM AN AMERICA EAST CONTENDER?- John Becker’s University of Vermont Basketball team is having a little tougher time negotiating their pre-conference schedule than in recent years. They had some moments against Eastern Michigan, Purdue, Florida and Yale, BUT, in all, they really didn’t play at their usual more competitive levels in those games. Certain challenges appear to give them problems. There could be more of these bumps in the next month, BUT don’t be surprised IF, by the time, tournament time comes along, they blend enough, to compete with Stony Brook and Albany, who deserve the number one and two label in the conference now. Don’t judge the Catamounts on what has happened to date OR upcoming games at St. Bonaventure and Northeastern or even Harvard. Just be concerned if things come together by January 6th when America East Conference play opens. Injuries have been part of their challenge to date. Upcoming home games in December include the University of California Santa Barbara on December 16th, Fisher College, December 19th and Siena December 29th. The UCSB game is at 7 p.m., while the other two are at 2 p.m.