Friday, February 01, 2008

Watch Your Back, Menino

The Red Sox might not have traded for Johan Santana this week, but general manager Theo Epstein still managed to make a pretty good move, signing first baseman Sean Casey to a one-year contract worth $800,000 on Friday.

Casey made his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1997 before being traded to Cincinnati for Dave Burba prior to the 1998 season. The move paid off handsomely for both teams: Burba won 56 games in four full seasons with Cleveland, while Casey made three All-Star appearances in his eight years with the Reds.

My favorite thing about this deal (aside from the fact that it didn't cost six years and $137.5 million, guaranteed) is the positive reputation that Casey brings to Boston. He's well-known as a "character guy" who earned the nickname "The Mayor" and was overwhelmingly voted the friendliest player in baseball by his peers last season, three qualities that should fit in well in the Red Sox clubhouse that already features guys like Mike Lowell, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez.

The only concern is that Casey has never been a role player; not playing every day can be frustrating, even for the nicest guy in the world, and he is being brought in primarily as a low-cost backup for Kevin Youkilis. Unless The Beard falters, The Mayor's playing time will be much lower than he is used to. Other than that, I'm optimistic.