The 2007 Fire Brand Award

On December 31st, 2006, Fire Brand will be turning three years old. Fire Brand started on December 31st 2003 with an article on how I felt there was no such thing as the Curse of the Babe. I’ve certainly come a long way.

My first full year blogging witnessed the absolute miracle that was the 2004 season, and this past Christmas saw me receive an autographed Dave Roberts baseball on a 2004 World Series baseball, fitting because Dave Roberts holds a special place in my heart for being such a great person and the person that’s part of the seminal moment of the 2004 season, or even the seminal moment of Red Sox history. Since then, the Red Sox made the playoffs (and were swept out in short affair) in 2005 despite the team stumbling there. 2006 saw a team of great promise completely fall apart in August (and I think it has a lot to do with a lack of a July 31st trade, or no true “let’s go get them” rallying cry, but that’s just me) and finish in third place. Hopefully the fourth year of Fire Brand will do well.

Everyone who has ever visited this page, who currently visits this page, who has commented and who continues to comment: Thank you. Thank you for listening to me even though I’ve given you no reason to. Thank you for helping me feel part of a big Sox community. Thank you for calling yourselves “Firebranders.” Thank you for reading.

This also means a new Fire Brand needs to be crowned. The inaugural Fire Brand was Tim Wakefield, who was followed by Bronson Arroyo. Mike Timlin received the honors for the 2006 Fire Brand, and now someone needs to wear the Fire Brand mantle with honor.

The Fire Brand of the American League is a Red Sox player who exhibits character under pressure, an unassuming man who leaves the spotlight for other people but makes his indelible mark on the past seasonís Boston Red Sox. A piece most people take for granted, but whom we would have missed dearly.

It was a very difficult decision, and it came down to two people: Jonathan Papelbon and David Ortiz. I initially swayed Papelbon’s way and it stayed such as for over a month. How could it not? Papelbon became a huge player for us, nailing down the closer’s position and sweeping Boston like wildfire, becoming one of the most popular players on the team. His season was unfortunately cut short and will be converted into a starter, but from April to August, Papelbon posted the second-best (or best, but let’s not nitpick) season ever as a closer behind Dennis Eckersley. 68.1 IP. 35 saves. 0.92 ERA. Also a leader in charitable events and a no-nonsense guy in the clubhouse, Papelbon was the choice.

But something happened. I felt that I was shorting David Ortiz, and Zach felt that the true Fire Brand for 2007 should be David Ortiz. David Ortiz, who has carried the team for four years both on and off the field. David Ortiz, who set a record for most home runs as a Red Sox player (and could have passed 60 home runs if not for a heart scare in August). David Ortiz, who hit .287/.413/.636 with 54 home runs. David Ortiz, who makes everyone light up into a smile with his presence. Ortiz, who is willing to donate his money and his time to charitable events. Ortiz, who always walks around with his ‘bling.’ Ortiz, who is the author of such quotes as “I’m a bad motherf—-r,” “This is not Apple Sox, this is not Barbecue Sox, this is THE Sox” and “We will beat Baltimore and take their beer.”

2007 Fire Brand David OrtizHow could it not be David Ortiz? It had to be. So ladies and gentlemen, the thumbnail that will grace this page as soon as our webmaster gets it up is none other than the 2007 Fire Brand of the American League … David Ortiz.

Categories: David Ortiz Fire Brand Awards

Born on the 37th anniversary of the the day Babe Ruth died (1985) which later became the day Jimy Williams was fired in 2001 (a monumental event at the time), Evan was too young to experience the pain 1986 brought, but a deep wound was sowed in 2003. Since then, Fire Brand has become a blog that Red Sox “club officials read,” as per Peter Gammons. Evan enjoys working out, writing, reading, quality television, science fiction and history and being newly married. He is a professional baseball journalist as well as president of a state non-profit and member of the Board of Directors for a national profit. (Twitter.)

21 Responses to “The 2007 Fire Brand Award” Subscribe

  1. dicekforcy December 27, 2006 at 4:14 AM #

    Has anyone seen this Epstein trade analysis? They claim he's worse than Ricciardi…
    <a href="http://bvtn.blogspot.com/2006/12/epstein-trade-analysis-tidbits.html” target=”_blank”>http://bvtn.blogspot.com/2006/12/epstein-trade-an

  2. Sean O December 28, 2006 at 6:00 PM #

    Ron-
    The one caveat about the 4-man rotation is having a bullpen that can pick up the slack. Even if Timlin bounces back, and we get a shut-down closer, and Okaji is all I hope he is, we don't even come close to that sort of situation.
    Once we get a solidified bullpen, go to 4, but not before that point. Especially not with a 40 year old, a guy with arm injuries, a guy with blister problems, a guy adjusting from pitching every 6 days, and a 40 year old who broke a rib last year.

  3. Ben December 28, 2006 at 9:58 PM #

    Good choice. I overlooked Ortiz also while thinking about his award. My initial choice was Papelbon as well, but when thinking about it, it was Ortiz that was a constant throughout the year, even as players went down around him with injuries or just a plain not willingness to play (Manny). Ortiz would be the first guy I would pick if I got the first pick. He is guy to build a team around. Good pick, Evan.

  4. Adam December 28, 2006 at 10:20 PM #

    " Thank you for listening to me even though I

  5. Sam December 29, 2006 at 4:14 AM #

    Now everybody go home and get some ass!

  6. RH December 29, 2006 at 10:08 AM #

    Congrats, Papi!
    And great choice, Evan.

  7. Evan December 29, 2006 at 12:32 PM #

    No kidding, mouse! Four pitchers in a row would have raised some eyebrows.
    Papelbon's basically earmarked for a future Fire Brand. The question is when?

  8. RH December 29, 2006 at 4:56 PM #

    I think Papelbon's the 2009 or 2010 Fire Brand.
    He can't win it in 2008, not when a certain pitcher who we could not have won the World Series without, who gives his all every time he takes the mound, who is unquestionably one of the top "Aces", is retiring after the upcoming season.
    I think Curt Schilling should/will get the 2008 Fire Brand, and even though this prediction is coming WAY early, unless he goes 8-18 with a 6.00ERA in 2007, I think his efforts in Boston the past few years are worthy of the honor.
    By the way:
    My friend thinks Devern Hansack would make a very good closer. I'm not saying we should trust him with the job, but according to my friend, "if he does well in Spring Training and the Sox don't acquire anyone else, Hansack has the stuff and the poise to pleasantly surprise Red Sox Nation if he gets the chance to be the Sox new closer".

  9. Evan Brunell December 29, 2006 at 6:10 PM #

    Well RH I hadn't even begun to think about it but it's not a bad prediction. Back to pitchers, I see. Then Papelbon in 2009, and Matsuzaka in 2010 … quite a run of pitchers, eh? Maybe Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, or Jason Varitek will steal one from them.

  10. Ben December 29, 2006 at 6:36 PM #

    A friend? By friend, is this someone in the Red Sox organization or Theo's brother.
    I don't know who this friend is but Hansack looks mighty good. Last year he was Portland Sea Dogs Pitcher of the Year with a 3.26 ERA, 3.44 k/bb ratio, and 124 K's in 132.1 IP. This was all in 18 starts and 12 relief appearances.
    The scouting report looks good on the kid. 92 mph two-seamer, low 80's change up (very nice), and a tight slider.
    He'll start next year in AAA but I wouldn't be surprised to see him mid-season if/when there's injuries. He had a nice cup o' tea last year. 2 starts and was no hitting I think Baltimore through 5 innings before it was called due to rain.
    This guy will be up some time. Good year at Pawtucket next year and he could be our No. 5 in '08 or as RH brought up- the closer position.

  11. RH December 29, 2006 at 9:31 PM #

    By the way…
    In case anyone's wondering, here's the PECOTA prediction for Dice-K for 2007…
    Games/Games Started: 29
    Innings Pitched: 187.1
    Hits: 188
    Walks: 52
    Strikeouts:167
    HR allowed: 19
    ERA: 4.01
    WHIP: 1.28
    VORP: 35.8
    WARP: 5.6

  12. Ben December 29, 2006 at 9:45 PM #

    Not bad. Worse than I'm expecting. I've got him at lke a 3.55 ERA.

  13. RH December 29, 2006 at 10:11 PM #

    The part that worries me is that PECOTA has him under 30 starts…granted, it's close, but it still means BP thinks he's going to get hurt at some point, however minor the ailment may be.
    Considering that he's going from Japan to the toughest division in baseball (offense and stress/pressure-wise), it wouldn't surprise me if his ERA is higher than 4.01 — but lower than 4.50. It might also take him a month or two to get used to pitching every 5th day instead of every 6th.
    His top MLB comparison for 2007 is Jeremy Bonderman, according to BP, but I see him as a Dan Haren with a few more walks — which in my opinion is not bad at all.
    Considering that he's a slight-flyball pitcher, the fact that Dice-K is only expected to give up roughly 1HR per 9.9IP is pretty impressive for his first year in the MLB.
    ROTY worthy? If the 2007 class of rookies is as good as the 2006 group, no way, but if it's more of a "normal" year, I'd give him a decent chance with those numbers and 13-15 wins (is that being too optimistic?).

  14. Trotsky December 30, 2006 at 7:11 AM #

    BP thinks every pitcher will get hurt. They assume that all pitchers after 24 years old regress to the mean, so they figure injuries will hapen. Safe bet.

  15. RH December 30, 2006 at 9:00 AM #

    Yeah, I guess they're only figuring he'll miss a couple of starts — which is not at all unreasonable. I hope his walk-rate is a little lower than projected, but otherwise, for a first-year MLB pitcher, those aren't bad at all.
    By the way…the Sox talks with the Astros appear to be heating up, and Houston is high on Coco, Kason Gabbard, and reliever Edgar Martinez. Brad Lidge or Dan Wheeler are probably the Sox targets to close now that Mike Gonzalez appears destined to go to Atlanta.

  16. Trotsky December 30, 2006 at 12:04 PM #

    Whoa.. slow down there RH… WHERE ARE YOU READING THAT STUFF?!?!?! Getting Lidge AND Wheeler? Nice. I doubt it's BOTH of those guys though.
    Other rumor I saw on SoSH was that we were about to sign Joel Pineiro for the BP.

  17. Trotsky December 30, 2006 at 12:19 PM #

    Sorry. Realized it's one or the other, in which case… it's too much.

  18. RH December 30, 2006 at 2:58 PM #

    I didn't say a closer was going to come cheaply :-(
    Pineiro is, well, worse than Snyder, Gabbard, and DiNardo — we don't need him…

  19. RH December 30, 2006 at 4:09 PM #

    I think anyone would take Papelbon, but the guy I want to see closing if we don't get anyone else (as I've said before) is Manny Delcarmen. His base numbers don't show it, but I think he has the stuff and the poise to be a heck of a closer.
    Oh, and don't forget about Hansen just yet … he's a solid Spring Training and April-May away from getting the job, I think.

  20. RH December 31, 2006 at 8:01 PM #

    An update on the closer/reliever rumors I've heard/seen recently…
    The Sox apparently got nowhere in their talks to acquire Mike Gonzalez, Brad Lidge, or Chad Cordero because Theo isn't willing to part with any significant prospects, or both Wily Mo and Coco, which appear to be the asking price(s) for each of the three.
    Meanwhile, the Sox are apparently in talks with the Giants about lefty Jonathan Sanchez and might be willing to send a decent pitching prospect and David Murphy to San Francisco in exchange for him. Sanchez doesn't project as a closer; starter, long/middle-reliever maybe, but not closer. Derrick Turnbow appears to be a target once again, but the Brewers apparently want Coco and a prospect for him, an asking price Theo is unlikely to meet.
    Meanwhile, Dan Kolb and Dustin Hermanson are being mentioned on the free agent front, along with Chris Reitsma, Scott Schoeneweis, and Brian Sweeney (MiL'er who actually did OK for the Padres last year),
    It appears more and more likely that the Sox will simply add another reliever or two and will look for an internal option to close. They are still actively shopping David Murphy around, and that might be how the Sox plan to acquire the reliever.

  21. RH January 1, 2007 at 6:23 PM #

    It looks like the Sox might have made a little progress in their talks to acquire Chad Cordero from Washington…by offering Michael Bowden…
    The Nats turned down earlier offers of Coco, Wily Mo, or Craig Hansen, but are "very interested" in Bowden and/or Clay Buchholz. In fact, Jim Bowden is very high on Michael Bowden. He doesn't however, want to trade Cordero unless the Sox include Craig Hansen and Bowden in a multi-player trade that could also net the Sox a non-pitching prospect.
    Bowden and Hansen — what are you smoking Jim Bowden? And if Theo actually does it…what the $@&# are you smoking Theo?
    Nice to see that Theo made SOME progress, though it's probably not the way we wanted to see it made…and for the record, I don't want Michael Bowden going anywhere…unorthodox delivery or not…