By Eric Neel
Page 2

What to do now that the Series is over? What to do now that the Red Sox wacky run is done?

Curl up in a ball, of course. Sit in a corner, rock like Leo Mazzone, wait out the dark time, hold your breath until the first whiff of spring comes sneaking through your window.

Or maybe just pretend it never ended. Reject the idea that baseball season is ever really over. Think in terms of phases of the moon. Turn now to the free-agent phase. Work the lists. Organize and categorize. Speculate. Stay in the game. Break the list down into sublists. Draw little pictures of the players in their new unis ...

That kind of thing.

Then curl up in a ball, sit in a corner, and rock like Leo Mazzone ... only this time with the list in your hands.

Guys your team would break the bank to get (or hold onto) and you wouldn't care because their value can't be rendered in simple numbers, because their value is a thing you wear on your chest, like a pronouncement of your power and a shield against all that is evil in the world, including and especially mediocrity: Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez.

The "What if he really is this good, what if last year wasn't an aberration but a sign, what if he's Sosa, what if he's Schmidt, what if all that anyone ever said about him once upon at time is actually true?" guys: J.D. Drew and Adrian Beltre.

The "Yeah, like it ever works that way, like Mo Vaughn's taught us nothing about reality" guys: Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew.

Guy to whom you'll be singing songs and raising mugs in the pubs come September and who you can get relatively cheap: Troy Glaus.

The guys you're not really thinking about right now, but you can bet GMs across the land are waking up in the middle of the night just to doodle their names on pieces of notebook paper on the bedside table: Carlos Delgado, Magglio Ordonez, and Edgar Renteria.

The guy you hope your club signs just so you can say his name out loud every day: Valerio de los Santos.

Derek Lowe
Can Derek Lowe keep pitching like he did in the postseason?

The guy who isn't going to look nearly so good when the trophy shine wears off: Derek Lowe.

The guy whose trophy shine is only a hint of how golden he is: Orlando Cabrera.

Somebody's going to pay too much for: Troy Percival, Brad Radke, Jeff Kent, and Odalis Perez.

The guy you'll pass on because he's too old, and he's difficult in the clubhouse, and his stuff just isn't all that impressive any more, and then he'll go out and make some other team look like geniuses for taking a chance on him because he'll outwit big hitter after big hitter and his every start, like a bad burrito, will make your stomach ache and your eyes water: David Wells.

That rare "X-factor, emotional leader who comes complete with funny, and yet somehow, oddly moving, renditions of the National Anthem" guy: Jose Lima.

The guy you sign if you want to make sure the Cubs are the next ones to break a curse: Todd Walker.

The guy you'll go on a riff about at some party (because you've had a bit of the punch and because he's a holdover on your fantasy team), saying yeah, he's been down, but he's one of the best players in the whole free-agent class and everybody forgets that, and you'll be getting all loud and cocky the way you do sometimes, and you'll say, "Mark my words! Just wait and see. It's money in the bank," only to see him pull a hammy in the third week of the season and do the cha-cha between the injured reserve and the bench the rest of the way: Nomah, of course.

Carl Pavano
Can you believe Carl Pavano dumped Alyssa Milano?

The "If only you were Julio Franco" guy: Carlos Baerga.

The guys your team should make offers to, just because they deserve tribute and thanks for what they've done over the years: Andres Galarraga and Edgar Martinez.

The "Good God when will the years of suffering end?!" signings: Joe Randa, Ricky Ledee, Andy Ashby, Hideo Nomo, Royce Clayton, and Tom Goodwin.

The guys who should come bundled so that when one comes up lame, you have other in the hole: Richie Sexson and John Olerud, and Juan Gonzalez and Jermaine Dye.

The "Jim Duquette wished Kris Benson was this guy" guy: Carl Pavano.

And finally ...

If you're me, "The last guy you want to see leave, the one guy you really hope your boys make the extra effort to keep around" guy is ...

Steve Finley.

Eric Neel is a columnist for Page 2. His "On Baseball" column appears weekly.




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