Tuesday, November 23, 2004


That sound of the rending of garments you're hearing from certain corners of Red Sox nation is the result of news that the Red Sox have finally lost a free agent: Kapler has signed on for a one-year deal with the Japan League's Yomiuri Giants. Apparently, they were able to offer the one thing no MLB team could guarantee: a starting role in the line-up.

While it's obvious that we wouldn't be able to keep many of our free agents for next season, it's always difficult to watch the first free agent of a championship team leave, and know that it's also not going to be the last. On the other hand, considering that last year, he took an 80 percent pay cut to stay with Boston, it's hard to accuse him of only being interested in the money. [In exchange, he gets to be part of a great trivia question: "Which three Boston players recorded the final three outs of the 2004 World Series?"]

Unfortunately for RSN's hopes to keep him in town, there were already too many contracted outfielders. The only way that Kapler could be a starter next year is the same way it happened this year--if there were some major injuries to the regular players. It's not fair to ask a player to sacrifice being a starter for so many years when they have other options; given the tenor of Theo's comments, I think the Red Sox realized that, too.

This move has also set off some gnashing of teeth in the media district of Red Sox Nation. Kapler's departure means they'll have to find someone else to fill the extra paragraphs in their columns. Given his somewhat limited playing role on the team, I'm not entirely convinced that he wasn't also being paid by the media relations department as well. After Damon, Millar, and Schilling, he was probably the most frequently quoted player on the team--and the only player other than Schilling who appeared to be able to offer more than single-sentence answers to any serious question.

So, best of luck to all the players coming to, leaving, and staying in Boston next year. Somehow, I don't think we've seen the last of any of these guys yet. . . .


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