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Pathetic Red Sox, III The
2003-01-21 00:14
by Mike Carminati

Pathetic Red Sox, III

The Red Sox will apparently have to give up on acquiring Kevin Millar even though they had allegedly offered Benny Agbayani to get him (Millar's agents are now trying to break his Japanese contract, but c'mon!). While Theo Epstein hangs out at the local Gas'N'Sip on a Saturday night lamenting the loss with his compeers, the Red Sox are now reportedly interested in two others to fill the void left by the non-tendoring of Brian Daubach: David Ortiz and Dave Nilsson.

Ortiz was let go by the Twins after they got caught in a numbers crunch. He should fit in well at first base and DH.

Nilsson was a very fine hitting catcher who moved to first, corner outfield, and designated hitter, and then back to catcher in his final year (1999). He was an All-Star in 1999 and had an OPS almost 40% better than the league average, but he decided to play in Japan in 2000 to be close to home (Australia) and prepare for the 2000 Olympics.

Nilsson was not considered an adept enough catcher for the Japanese leagues and was moved to left field. He batted .180 in 61 with 1 home run and 8 RBI for Chunichi.

He faired better in the Olympics, in which he led all batters with a .565 average, a .957 slugging average, and a .667 on-base percentage in 23 at-bats with 1 home run, 6 RBI, and 3 stolen bases. He also played catcher for Australia.

Nilsson then headed a group that bought the revamped International Baseball League Australian. He was the acting chairman through the 2001-'02 season, which was canceled after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York. I'm not sure what he has been up to since though I heard that the Sox approached him about returning to the game a couple of years ago.

Nilsson is now 33. He appears too old to catch and yet his best seasons seem to come as a catcher. I cannot imagine him being anything more than a role player for the Red Sox, something akin to Warren Cromartie.

Cromartie was a young corner outfielder/first baseman and part of the Expos excellent outfield in the late '70s and early '80s (with Andre Dawson and Ellis Valentine/Tim Raines). He was far from a star but was a valuable player. At the age of 30, Cromartie went to Japan to play. He returned 7 years later playing a reduced role for the Royals very well and then called it a career.

Meanwhile, the Yankees signed the best player in Cuba and the best player in Japan this offseason. Do the Red Sox really hope to compete with these sorts of acquisitions? If so, why did they get rid of Dan Duquette in the first place?

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