It wasn't so long ago, December 8, 1997 to be exact, that the Boston Red Sox traded for Jerry Remy. It seems like it was longer.
At the time, the Sox felt justified sending pitching phenom Don Aase and enough money to sign Rick Miller out west because they needed a steady-fielding second baseman to plug the hole beside Rick Burleson. Well, Remy has outlasted Burleson in Boston while becoming an offensive threat as productive as the Willie Randolphs and Bobby Griches. As always, he remains a superb fielder.
Along with pitchers Frank Tanana and Bill Campbell, Remy is in the process of filing for free agency this week. If those three go, the franchise that was once the most stable in baseball will have lost five starters (Carlton Fisk, Remy, Burleson, Butch, Hobson, and Freddie Lynn) from the '78 team to trades or free agency in two years. That doesn't count Bob Watson, Luis Tiant, Steve Renko, Campbell and Tanana.
By now it isn't unthinkable that Remy would depart for greener pastures. Last year at this time people questioned whether Fisk, a New England boy, or Lynn, a Boston institution, would leave the area if the difference was merely money. Maybe they wouldn't have, but by the time the Sox got around to negotiating, the difference was much more than money--it was a matter of pride. The same thing is happening with Remy, and so it is no longer surprising that the Cohasset native who was there when the Sox won it in '67 could very well be in Oakland this time next month.
They say Marty Barrett is the player of the future, and that Dave Stapleton can play second base. But this kind of thing can't keep happening if a team wants to contend. The mystique is gone now, for Remy and for everyone, and if the Red Sox want players to stay they will have to come up with the money to sign them. And it is scary to think that Jim Rice and Carney Lansford do not have long-term contracts.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to remain a Red Sox fan during the winter months, the Hot Stove League season that is the purists' lifeblood. By day, the Sox are an enthralling, interesting club, with a capacity few other teams possess to come from behind with a dramatic rally. But by night they are a goblin, tormenting the soul of the fanatic who can only relive last year in sorrow for what has been lost.
Sweet dreams, Jerry Remy, see you out west.