Earlier Wednesday, news came out that Casey Fossum signed a minor league contract with the Mets. ESPN gave it two lines and moved on, and that's probably the best thing to do, here. These days, Casey Fossum is nothing, and odds are against the possibility of his ever pitching in the big leagues again.
But one of my favorite things about minor league signings are the memories of what some of the players used to be, once, and Casey Fossum in particular takes me back to a time when he was considered a top prospect, and a time when the Red Sox weren't quite the perennial juggernaut they are today.
Let's go back to the winter before the 2001 season. The Red Sox had just won 85 games. Their starting infield featured Scott Hatteberg, Brian Daubach, Jose Offerman, Mike Lansing, and Shea Hillenbrand. Pedro - the obvious ace - was supported by Hideo Nomo and Frank Castillo. And the following was Baseball America's ranking of their top ten prospects:
- Dernell Stenson
- Brad Baker
- Tony Blanco
- Sun-Woo Kim
- Casey Fossum
- Steve Lomasney
- Seung Song
- Maurico Lara
- Paxton Crawford
- Sang-Hoon Lee
That's just a thoroughly miserable list. Most of the names are familiar, but this arrangement of prospects - and the previous arrangement of big league regulars - just feel like they happened so damn long ago. In truth, it's only been ten years. But ten years, in baseball, is an eternity, and at this point Casey Fossum is little but a reminder of how dramatically things can change.
Fossum, by the way, posted a 5.72 ERA last year in Japan, and spent a third of his time in the Japanese minors. He's really quite bad.