Given that it was Nomar Night at Fenway last night, I just wanted to offer some thoughts on good old number five.
* Nomar was a terrific baseball player whose impact on the Red Sox organization was only a slight tick below Pedro. Garciaparra, along with Martinez, made the Sox relevant at a time when the balance of the roster screamed 79-83. He mashed without protection, put on nightly laser shows and never punked out against good pitching.
* From 1997 until he hurt his wrist in 2001, this was THE order for AL shortstops: 1) Alex Rodriguez, 2) Nomar Garciaparra, 3) Derek Jeter. Arod clearly deserves the top spot but to lump Jeter in with Garciaparra, over those four years, is simply irresponsible. (OPS+ ….Nomar 143, Jeter 128)
* When he was sizzling, there was simply never a better “see it, hit it” guy than Nomar. It didn’t matter where you threw him ….he was going to turn it into rope.
* Nomar is not going to sniff the HOF but he did retire with this slash line: .313/.361/.521. Those are massive numbers for a shortstop. On top of that, he had six seasons that I would classify as “HOF years” and a season in LA that probably doesn’t hurt. That resume is probably missing two HOF years and another strong season to warrant HOF entry.
* Nomar’s 1999 post-season has to be considered one of the top-five post-season’s that didn’t include a World Series. Check out this line over two series ….. 9 games, 38 plate appearances, 13 hits, five walks, four doubles, four bombs, eight runs and nine RBI. The numbers in 1998 against Cleveland were just as good. Unfortunately, he was AWOL against the Yankees in 2003 and he never again was a factor for the Red Sox.
* Here is a list of right-handed hitters since Joe Dimaggio who have won AL batting titles twice: Nomar and Edgar, the end.
* Sometimes the best things that happen to an organization are the contracts it DOESN’T sign: How different would Red Sox history be if the Sox and Nomar had come to an agreement on an extension prior to the 2004 season? Folks, if Nomar had signed that $60M extension, he wouldn’t have been traded and who knows what that would have meant to 2004 and the three years to follow. Along these lines, the other big contract that the Sox luckily avoided was Bernie Williams. Thank god that was never inked because that would have meant no Manny after 2000 and no parade in 2004.
* I certainly counted myself as a fan of Garciaparra but I did not like how it ended and I certainly didn’t stand by him as he was moping along in 2004. Yes, I was in favor of the trade.