Tuesday, July 31

Writing on Deadline

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. It’s trading deadline day, and no trade has drawn more attention than the deal between the Celtics and Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett. Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale, made the deal after failing to realize that the MLB trading deadline does not apply to NBA teams.

But the Red Sox are busy too. The two potential deals under greatest discussion are one’s that would send reliever Eric Gagne from Texas for Khe-Sanh Gabbard and David Murphy and one that would secure Jermaine Dye from Chicago for Wily Mo Pena and a pitcher.

The Gagne deal is appealing, particularly if the Sox have to give up Manny Delcarmen in the Dye deal. Gagne is a dominant reliever, who, when healthy, has been brilliant. Along with Okajima and Papelbon, he could give the Sox a relief trio the likes of which has not been seen since the Nasty Boys of the 1990 Reds. (Note: Knobbs and Saggs were such awesome pitchers.) But there are downsides too, issues of genealogy. For instance, his father, wrestling legend and American Wrestling Association (AWA) promoter Vern Gagne once banned maneuvers off the top rope. Is it possible that in the pressure cooker of Boston Eric Gagne might try a similar approach? Would he eliminate all off-speed pitches from his arsenal to offer fans a more “old school product? Jose does not want the Red Sox bullpen going the way of the AWA.

It gets worse. According to wikipedia, Gagne once offered the Iron Sheik $100,000 to break Hulk Hogan’s leg in a WWF title match after Hogan left Gagne’s AWA for the WWF. Does this mean Eric Gagne would attempt to injure Red Sox traitors like Johnny Damon? Or would he be tempted to violate sanctions against Iran, as Vern did by dealing with the Iron Sheik?

The descendents of Vern Gagne have also proven distracted when on the baseball field. For instance, Greg Gagne both played shortstop on some good (note: and some not so good) Minnesota Twins clubs while simultaneously trying to win the AWA championship without success. And Vern’s grandson, J.P. Gagne was unable to get above playing A ball in Asheville in the Colorado system.

Jose is not saying the Sox should pass on Gagne. He is just saying they should take his pedigree into account.

2. This brings us to the other rumored deal, the proposed acquisition of Jermaine Dye to share time with DJ Dru.

Dye is rumored to have limited interest in coming to Boston because he wants to be an every day player, but if one looks at this numbers so far this year (note:.295 OBP, 52 RBI) it’s not totally clear that he deserves to be an every day player. (Note: Though if you look at other numbers, 19 HR, .467 SLG, it’s clear that he does.) Either way, Dye has clearly fallen off dramatically from his stunning 2006 season when he hit 44 home runs and was absolutely terrifying.

The question is: Will Dye turn it around? While recent signs have been promising, Jose remains skeptical.

August 31 will be the ten year anniversary of the death of his wife, Lady Dye, who was killed, along with her lover Dodi Fayed, when their car crashed in a Paris tunnel.

In light of renewed reflection on such tragedy, Jose doubts whether Dye will be able to concentrate during the critical stretch run.

3. There are a lot of theories about why DJ Dru has struggled this year, why his power has been down, and his outfield play has been mediocre. Jose has a theory. Sometimes, the symptom and the cause are the same.

Case in point, a friend told Jose about a veterinarian who had had a client bring in a pet hedgehog one day. The hedgehog, its owner said, could not stand up. It would wobble and then fall over. The vet, unaccustomed to dealing with hedgehogs but feeling obliged to offer answers, pretended to examine the beast, and then excused himself to handle a phone call. While allegedly answering the phone, he did an internet search for “Wobbly Hedgehog” and got his answer.

The prickly little pet suffered from Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome.

Jose thinks the same basic concept holds true for Dru. Dru, Jose is willing to bet, is suffering from Bad Outfielder Syndrome, a neurological condition wherein outfielders lose the ability to hit for power and average and become tentative in the field.

Tragically, there is no cure. We’d better do the humane thing and put him down. Someone call Michael Vick.
DJ Dru after another ground out.

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.

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