Friday, December 12, 2014


After their "Latin land grab" (Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval), the Boston Red Sox have moved from the world of elite free agents into the demimonde of tontons flingueurs--a phrase that an inebriated Frenchman might hurl at the parade of slightly shopworn pitchers who will now apparently populate the Boston starting rotation.

Now pitching for the Red Sox....Lino Ventura???
(The English translation of tontons flingueurs, by the way, is "crooks in clover" and refers to a team of semi-inept heist artists who stumble into a job that literally materializes at their feet...and that's just about what's happened in terms of the Sox rotation, which looks like a random laundry list come to life.)

It's going to be a "blue collar" staff (instead of "blue chip," which would have been a good description of the Phillies "Phour Aces" awhile back, before the two Roys--Halladay and Oswalt--turned into pumpkins) and that is, in fact, a lot more refreshing than loading up on the type of heavy, four-course meal that often just grinds away at your digestive system, leaving you more bloated than a beached whale.

The Sox ace is still Clay Buchholz, the man of many on-mound mood swings, but we're sure that Bill James (in his wise but crotchety counsel) is convinced that Clay will morph back into form now that he's turning 30. (There are so many conflicting reports about how to assess and project starting pitchers that one's head could spin right off one's head, but Bill is probably right, at least in this case.)

Behind him now are Joe Kelly, coughed up by the Cardinals in the John Lackey trade; Rick Porcello, on hand from the Tigers in exchange for the sullen (or so they say...) Yoenis Cespedes; Dixie-fried southpaw Wade Miley, acquired from the Diamondbacks; and Justin Masterson, another enigmatic righthander who will try to disprove Thomas Wolfe's infamous maxim.

All in all, this doesn't look to be any better or worse than what the Royals trotted out last year on their way to that improbable trip to the World Series, but they had a bullpen that was beyond "blue chip." The Sox don't have that component in place--at least not yet--and that's something they'll need to address if they expect to contend with these guys as the basis of their starting rotation.

But we do love the "blue collar" move here, as it signals some intriguing combination of creativity and desperation, and we prefer our Red Sox experience (both with the team and with its uniquely obnoxious fan base) to be one based on roiling anxiety and inchoate currents of dread. So...onward into that uncertain dawn...and remember that you can always bleach the snot out of those blue collars if need be.