Monday, November 27, 2006
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: 8 years, $136 mil.
If this was where the bar was set… well it’s a pretty goddamn high bar. I mean, you need oxygen tanks and a sherpa just to get to the top of this thing. I have a hard time deciding what’s worse: the tons of years or the tons of money? For a guy who basically can’t play the field, this is a crazy deal for an NL team. Oh, and the only thing worse than his glove is his OPB and OPS. But maybe I’m wrong! Maybe by the time he’s 38 (when this contract expires) he will learn some plate discipline… or like every OTHER expensive Cub, he could get hurt and end up getting millions for going into traction. Whichever way it goes, Soriano is going to be buying steaks from the same stores as Beltran and A-rod. This is such a crazy deal it’s even hard to make fun of. Well done sir.
Jim Edmonds, Cardinals: 2 years, $19 mil.
I bet he’s glad he’s staying it St. Louis cause he already knows all the doctors there. I know the Cards just won the World Series and Edmonds was a big part of that, but isn’t 2 years kind of a stretch? What’s the over/under on games he’ll play next year? 120? 100? I just hope he didn’t throw out his back when he jumped for joy after signing the contract. I kid, I kid. It’s not an awful deal, he plays really tough and hasn’t missed TOO too many games in the past… unlike…
Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers: 2 years, $18.5 mil.
Another of the walking wounded. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE NOMAH… but I would never give this guy 2 years without him proving his organs won’t spill out on the ground first. Wrist, ankle, groin, leg, back, and now he’s a pain in the wallet. Ouch… but still a better bet than…
Frank Thomas, Blue Jays: 2 years, $18.2 mil.
The Big Hurt was one of the most exciting players to watch… 8 years ago. I was happy to see his reemergence on that scrappy A’s team, but he runs like me after 12 beers. Slow, unsteady and everyone is just praying he doesn’t get severely injured doing something simple. For me the simple task is peeing in the woods, for Thomas it’s legging out a double… both usually end in hilarity or calamity. If Edmonds has an over/under on games played at 120, then Thomas is nearer to 90 over 2 years. Haven’t any of these teams heard of an option for the second year? It’s MADNESS!!
Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: 5 years, $75 mil.
Yeah, I don’t know. On paper this seems like a HALFWAY sensible deal, 28 year old that hits for power and can field a position that doesn’t have too many stars (beside the 2 in New York). Yet, $15 mil used to be superstar money. It seems so weird that this is market value now. So just being semi-competent at your position and a questionable all-star hitter now guarantees $10 mil+ a year. This is how the winds have shifted.
Juan Pierre, Dodgers: 5 years, $44 mil.
A couple of clubs have multiple listings on this dubious list. Maybe you shouldn’t read too much into it, but the guys signing the checks might be making more than one mistake. Go figure. Anyway, you think that Pierre figured the Dodgers had a wrong number when they gave him this deal? This is MAJOR BANK to pay for stolen bases and fielding. Small ball and big bucks usually don’t mix and this is way. And 5 years? What’s gonna happen when the miles start to pack on during year 3? Suddenly Juan isn’t so speedy and $9 mil a year looks a little bit bigger.
Gary Matthews Jr., Angels: 5 years, $50 mil.
Nobody has ever paid more for one catch. It was a GREAT catch, but I thought you only get $50 million straight up if you do it on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Why would anyone give a contract like this to a guy who waited till he was 32 to have his breakout season? Is he the latest bloomer EVER? He still hasn’t hit 20 HR or had a 100 RBI season, so WHY is he getting $10 mil a year? Must be that catch.
Carlos Lee, Astros: 6 years, $100 mil.
This one has me slack-jawed. Maybe you could argue that it’s what the market will stand, and maybe offensively challenged Houston is a good match for him and maybe they even have the cash to burn… but $100 mil is just… well it’s a freaking PILE of money. He never has come close to a major yearly award, doesn’t hit for an amazing average, isn’t the greatest fielder and isn’t really a threat to hit 40 homeruns. There is no doubt he really helps this offence, but is it worth it? Apparently yes! This is exactly what scares me about unchecked GM’s throwing wads of cash at players. After awhile it seems normal.
Gary Sheffield, Tigers: Traded.
The Yankees unloaded the cantankerous Sheff for 3 pitchers nobody’s every heard of (that have since been spun by the NY media into 3 mini Pedros) and a bucket of balls. This could be a solid pickup for the Tigers who need a good DH because Dimitri Young might not be able to stay out of jail. There is definitely some pop left in this jerk’s bat and he seems to want to prove he still can bite the heads off babies and sucker punch nuns. God I hate this guy.
J.D. Drew, Red Sox?: 4 years, $45 mil.
Well this could be a good investment if “J.D.” stood for “Johnny Damon” and it was for less money. Every time I see an article saying that this deal is close I want to curl up into a ball. This makes no sense. Has he ever played over 120 games a season? Does he hit 30 homers every season? Does he get along with tough crowds and handle criticism well? No, no and no. So what the hell is he gonna do in Boston?!?! This is going to make Rent-a-wreck and Clement look like amazing deals. Just wait till they start comparing him to Trot. Ugh… I just threw-up a bit.
Manny Ramirez, Giants? Dodgers? Padres?: Traded.
This is the big one. Looking at all this other craziness, the last 2 years of Manny’s contract looks pretty damn sweet. He is a perennial all-star (but always sits out), he always hits (even when asking to be traded) and is the best protection Ortiz could ever get in a lineup. I wouldn’t trade Manny for all the “questionable ace” pitchers in Japan, but I know he is going to finish his career on another team. In two years, someone is going to throw a bunch of money at him and give him a great speech about how well he’ll be treated and how nobody will bother him and how great the new city is… and Manny will leave. I have no doubts about this. The only question is should the Sox try and get some value right now while his value is near peak. Honestly? I think it depends on what you get. A few AA pitchers? No way in the hottest hell. A proven closer, a bunch of A+ quality rookies and a solid bat? Let’s talk. Other than that… I can’t even think about this.
So could someone tell me why the Red Sox can’t seem to think of anything else?
Monday, November 20, 2006
- Billy Mueller called it quits today. The man we called The Pro decided over the weekend that the bad knees were getting a little too tough to play on and opted to leave the baseball diamond with one year and $4.5 million left on his contract. Mueller is taking a position as special assistant to Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti. I don’t do the whole sentimentality thing very well, but if nothing else, I'll say this: Billy Mueller made a big impression in Boston because he played hard and didn’t complain. Along with our other neuroses, Red Sox fans have the old New England “puritan work ethic” thing ingrained pretty well – which isn’t to say that we necessarily practice the idea, but we certainly expect it of those around us, especially (as Red Sox fans) from our players. Bill Mueller came to Boston, beat out Manny Ramirez for the batting title in 2003 in what many saw in the pre-Manny Being Manny days as a triumph of the hard working dirt dog over the whining superstar and established himself as The Pro, epitome of that work ethic, for the rest of his time as a Red Sox. Robin and I both wish him the best in his post-baseball career.
- Alfonso Soriano signed a contract with the Cubs. For 8 years and $136 million, the fifth largest contract in baseball history. Yes, that’s a heck of a lot of money and time (mostly time), but what’s more important is that it makes Manny’s contract look pretty cheap in comparison…cheap enough to deal. The Globe has a rumor that the Sox are looking to send Manny to Texas for Michael Young, which doesn’t sound too terrible (says the guy who knows his team is going to spend too much money on Lugo – see below) except that no one expects it to happen. My current conspiracy theory is that the Sox are looking to get rid of Manny for something infield (like Young), then sign Drew and play him and Wily Mo Pena in the outfield. DC insists this idea isn’t feasible because the front office knows better than to trust Drew’s body not to get hurt (or is it "hurt?") but then why are they supposedly chasing Drew in the first place? Do they expect him to get hurt so they can replace him with Wily Mo Pena mid-season? Does this make sense to anyone? DC also pointed out Manny’s 10-5 status, which would probably kill any deal the Sox put together.
- Alex Gonzalez is now a Red…not a Red Sox. The door on that potential deal closed yesterday when Gonzo signed for 3 years and $14 million in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, the Sox were pursuing Alberto Castillo as a possible backup catcher...if he makes it out of the minors in Spring Training. See also: John Flaherty, Spring 2006. As noted above, this means that the Red Sox will now overpay for Julio Lugo, unless they go and trade Manny for a shortstop. Start looking forward to the DP combination of Lugo and Wonderboy now...
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Theo: Ummm, hello?
Voice: …who is this!? It’s 3 in the morning!
Theo: OH sorry. It’s just… well… this is Theo Epstein …General Manager of the Red Sox? And we uhhhh… just won the bid to talk to Mr. Matsuzaka and… umm well, I couldn’t wait… sorry about the time. Is… is he there?
Voice: This is highly unusual.
Theo: Sorry! I’m so sorry! I… just got really excited is all… I didn’t mean…
Voice: Yes…well I am his interpreter. And we were expecting a call for SOMEONE tonight.
Theo: Oh great, great. Again really sorry about the time… I just wondered if… you know… he wanted to talk and… stuff.
Interpreter: One moment please. I shall see if my employer is available. Just a moment if you will.
Theo: Yeah, no, yeah no problem.
Interpreter: Hello? Mr. Epstein?
Theo: … OH sorry sorry, hey you’re back. What’s up?
Interpreter: I have turned on the speaker phone. Matsuzaka-san can hear you and I will translate. Are you ready sir?
Theo: (giggles) Ok, yeah… ummm… hey… Daisuke dude. How ya doin?
Interpreter: He says he is well. And your phone call honors him.
Theo: What? Oh that’s so cool! He’s so cool. So uhhh… ask him what he likes… like what kinda stuff does he like? Does he like music? Has he heard my band?
Interpreter: Really, Mr. Epstein! I must question your intentions… talking to my employer in such a manner.
Theo: Huh? Oh sorry sorry dude, just tell him I think he’s awesome and I can’t wait to… like negotiate with him… and like hang out… cause he sounds like a really cool guy…
Interpreter: Mr. Epstein, please it is very late…
Theo: … and tell him we can get him all kinds of awesome American stuff… and if he likes fish… that like Boston has like awesome seafood…. and I can like get him into places… cause I know some guys…
Interpreter: I am sorry Mr. Epstein but we must continue this conversation at a later date. Preferably during the day.
Theo: Oh no… really? Ok… ummm… ok. Just, could you tell him… uhhh tell him…
Theo: In your eyes, the light the heat, in your eyes, I am complete, in your eyes, I see the doorway to a thousand churches, in your eyes...
Interpreter: Good night sir!
Theo: … I see the light and the heat in your eyes, OH! I want to be that complete, I want to touch the light, the heat I see in your eyes….in your eyes in your eyeeeeeeeeeeeeees…
Monday, November 13, 2006
Here’s the problem with our line of thinking, though: we’re assuming that spending $42 million means that the Sox now have $42 million less to spend on other things the team needs (infielders, bullpen, backup catchers, etc.). Maybe it’s a psychological scar left over from the days of the Yawkee Trust, maybe it’s a function of the traditional New England thriftiness that makes many of us believe that there’s no way that the Red Sox would spend a minimum of $42 million to get a player without some sort of foolish sacrifice in an area that really needs help. We’re forgetting that the current ownership put money into upgrading Fenway and constructing a championship team because they knew the investments made good business sense – make people want to come to the ballpark and they’ll give you back all of the money you spent and more.
Think about it for a moment: it’s quite likely that the $42 million rumored to be the winning bid won’t take away from the rest of the payroll at all, that John Henry and Co. earmarked this money and the money that actually goes towards signing Matsuzaka as seed money to capture the attention and advertising dollars of the Japanese market, putting the Sox on comparable financial footing in Japan with the Yankees and Hideki Matsui. If that’s the case, the Red Sox didn’t just spend $42 million to cock block the Yankees, they spent $42 million to be the college roommate who comes back to your room to cock block you, starts talking to your girlfriend and then convinces her that she really should ditch a loser like you and start going out with him. Even if Matsuzaka turns out to be an okay pitcher and not the second coming of baseball Jesus, the Red Sox still win because they make the money back in advertising and we all win because the front office still spends the money to put together a quality team.
Of course, these rumors about Matsuzaka wanting to be a Yankee could be true, in which case that $42 million turns out to be a cock blocking without any added benefits. It’s also possible that Matsuzaka will be a terrible pitcher once he comes to America and he’ll end his short reign of Japanese celebrity, killing ad contracts in the process. But think about it: in the 4 years Theo has been GM, he’s avoided three bad deals (Contreras, Rodriguez and Pavano) through sheer luck. Why wouldn’t the luck carry through to Matsuzaka, too (please please please let it carry through)?
This has been Eric, completely reversing his prior position and hoping he’s right.
Friday, November 10, 2006
I have nothing against the culture of greed (why shouldn’t we keep up with the Yankees spending?).
I have a problem with being a moron (a goddamn fiscal idiot).
Why in the world would the Sox blow “between 38 and 45 million dollars” just to TALK TO SOMEBODY??? Please tell me Buster Olney is huffing wasabi.
I read all the comments everyone posted about this Matsuzaka guy and what it would take to get him. I stayed away from the whole thing…Eric said he would “cry” (and he most likely will) but I am gonna go bananaphone crazy. You are going to take an UNPROVEN pitcher, from a league with bad hitting and oversized ballparks and spend a BOZILLION dollars on him ($45 mill to talk, $40 mill+ to sign) and not address the HUGE holes in the end of the rotation, shortstop, right field, bullpen, closer, 2nd base (sorry Dustin) and back up catcher (they may need 3 this year). Why are they PAYING him anyway? Can’t Commodore Perry just send the US fleet over and threaten to blast the hell out of the Tokyo Dome if they don’t hand over Matsuzaka-san for free? Or did Boras already do that?
So break out the kimonos and nori, start throwing out your JD and load up on the saki… cause Daisuke Matsuzaka could be on his way to Boston. Oh, and I think this means we lose the right to bitch about the Yankees spending. Not a big deal though…just like they lost the “1918 chant”, we’ll find something else to use to get on their nerves. Maybe something with Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano and stem cell research…I’ll work on it and let you know.
And for everyone who saw Matt Clement as the biggest mistake by this front office, well how do you say “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” in Japanese?
A buddy of mine, after writing about waste-of-talent J.D. Drew and his decision to opt out of his current contract with the Dodgers and file for free agency gave me the heads up that Buster Olney has the Red Sox as an interested party (ESPN Insider) in a deal with Drew and his agent, Scott “Lucifer” Boras. My reaction: dear sweet God, no.
Sure, Drew has a very nice upside with his nearly .400 OPS, ability to hit for power and his decent abilities in right field, but if we wanted someone with injury problems, Trot Nixon would, I’m sure, be happy to come back to Boston…and unlike Drew, Nixon doesn’t have a reputation for being a pussy. The dude may hurt himself a lot, but at least he plays with hurt knees and furthermore, actually plays like he cares all of the time. Besides, as Olney points out, Drew would require a contract that makes the one the Sox gave Johnny Damon look small and that definitely doesn’t jive with the new, less spendthrift Sox. Hopefully the rumor of J.D. Drew as a Red Sox is going to remain just that: a rumor.
Also, please tell me this Matsuzaka bid is just a rumor. Please tell me we didn't just blow the farm on a Japanese player just to get more attention in Japan or block the Yankees.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
- Alex Cora has a brand spankin’ new 2-year deal, courtesy of the Boston Red Sox. Scuttlebutt is that the Sox re-signed Cora so they have some security as they decide whether to pursue Julio Lugo, Alex Gonzalez, Mark Loretta and figure out what to do with Wonderboy. When reporters asked Theo about the current Wonderboy plans, his response sounded like they’re just as happy to send him back to AAA as make him the starting second baseman next year – it all depends on how much work he does over the off-season. What would be really interesting is if Wonderboy really did work his ass off over the off-season only to find that the Sox picked up another option for second base and dealt the newly improved Pedroia in a sweet, sweet trade.
- The Sox declined the one year option on Keith Foulke, with Epstein saying that Boston is going to look for another closer by “trade or free agency.” This move could be a face-value dumping of yet another member of the class of 2004, or it could be a tactical gamble to see what Foulke’s reaction will be; the pitcher has an option of his own that he can exercise. If he does, Boston saves about 2.25 million, money they can use on…
- …the bidding on Daisuke Matsuzaka, which ends today. With numerous teams (including, supposedly, the Sox) clamoring at the meat market like so many hungry dogs, overspending is practically a guarantee. Sure, the guy is 26 and he’s a sick, sick pitcher, but A-Rod was a good deal at one point, too. If a team blows their entire budget on this one pitcher I’m going to laugh and laugh and laugh. Unless it’s Boston and then I’ll just cry.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Now, taking into account the fact that the sample size for these stats in only 14 innings pitched at Fenway, I can’t help but be intrigued by the idea of this trade. After all, win it all or not in 2007, next year is the last year we have Curt Schilling. Baseball wisdom acknowledges the need to have two strong pitchers in the first two spots on the rotation, so assuming Beckett steps up into his future role of ace, the Sox will need a second pitcher to fill the hole left by Schilling’s departure…and it won’t hurt if they fill that hole with a pitcher who’s young, strong and relatively cheap. Plus there are already rumors that the Tigers are trying to shop Bonderman around.
There’s one problem though: Papelbon. Terrible problem to have, I know, but unless something strange and terrible happens, Paps will be in the rotation next year. Not counting on the return of Matt Clement (and I’m certainly not doing so), that means the only starting spot left to be filled is a fifth starter and those are a dime a dozen…and certainly not something you trade prospects for, especially when you need Bullpen Help. Remember that bullpen problem? It still needs fixing, both in middle relief and in the closer role and those pickups need to take precedence over picking up Bonderman, especially if (and the “if” is the biggest assumption of this conversation) Boston wants to deal prospects.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
God knows I don’t need another reason to hate the Yankees… but this is ridiculous. Derek Jeter won the Gold Glove award this week and the Earth is just a little more tilted on it’s axis as a result. It must be, because only a planetary misalignment could cause the HIGHLY overrated Jeter to get fielding’s top honor. A shift towards the abyss of space MUST have clouded the minds of the managers and coaches (can’t even blame the stupid media) who vote on this award. Either that or it’s even more arbitrary than I figured.
Derek Jeter? This must be a sick joke. If you JUST watched highlight reels then you might have a case… but if you watch one… ONLY ONE Yankee game then you would see all the easy plays he is misaligned for and all the simple put-outs he makes tough because of his low range.
HOW THE HELL DID HE WIN THIS THING???
In the AL, Jeter was 5th in range factor, 4th in fielding percentage, and had more than DOUBLE the errors of a NAMELESS starting short-stop that happened to play for the Boston Red Sox (hint: Lex-aye Onzalez-gay).
If stats and figures and well…. FACTS won’t dissuade the voters from picking the only name that they recognize (Uribe? Gonzolez? Young? Peralta?) then I don’t even know why they give that hunk of gilt metal away.
This was the best fielding Sox team of my life… not one Gold Glove. Makes no sense. The MLB should stick to labor disputes and steroid testing, the aren’t too good at this award thing.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Ben Lipson at TopProspectAlert.com sent me an email to let me know that they just posted their list of the Sox top 10 prospects for 2007. Three things about the list that struck me as particularly interesting:
- Eight out of ten of the guys on this list are in AA ball or lower (although Kottaras spent part of the year with San Diego’s AAA club), so it’ll probably be another year at least before they hit the majors (if they ever do). The revolution is coming, but it’s coming VERY slowly.
- Of those 10 guys, two are in the majors right now (Pedroia and Hansen) and one is rumored to be Mirabelli’s replacement (Kottaras) and of those three, only Hansen spent any time (36 innings/14 games) in Pawtucket. Based off of Hansen’s mixed performance in the majors in ’06 he really needs more time in AAA, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he got the invitation to come to Spring Training and started the year in Pawtucket. I agree with DC's thoughts on how Pedroia should spent next year.
- Kottaras strikes out a lot more than he walks (181 strikeouts to 131 walks in about 945 plate appearances over two years) and his performance declined after he went up to AAA in the middle of the season: in AA, he was getting a hit or a walk about 37 percent of the time and striking out 21 percent of the time. After his promotion, the strikeout percentage stayed the same, but the hits/walks percentage dropped to 26 percent. I don’t think he’s ready for the big leagues yet.
Those of you not up the latest Red Sox news may have missed an article on redsox.com (since replaced with the announcement about Alex Cora’s free agency declaration that mentions both Loretta and Gonzo) reporting that both Mark “The Pro” Loretta and Gonzo filed for free agency a few days ago. This isn’t that big of a surprise; everyone knew that they only had one-year contracts and there hasn’t been a lot of news about contract extensions for position players coming out of Theo’s office. So if everyone knew this was coming, then why is this noteworthy? Simple: the same article ended by all but guaranteeing Dustin “Wonderboy” Pedroia a starting role (with the author leaning toward waving goodbye to Gonzo). Now this begs a very simple and obvious question: WHY? What has Wonderboy done to earn anything more than an invitation to Spring Training and a package of Fenway Franks?
I know, Pedroia’s put in his time in the minors and that ranks right up there on the warm and fuzzy scale right along with fluffy bunnies and when my girlfriend does that thing I like. I understand that Wonderboy was a 2nd round pick and it seems like he’s been the next big thing since Johnny Pesky was wrinkle free. But the reality of it is he was drafted in 2004. Yup, that means he has less than 3 years in the minors and less then 2 full seasons in AAA.
I know what you’re thinking: “That doesn’t mean anything; a lot of guys don’t spend time in AAA.” Well, let’s look at Wonderboy’s major league readiness compared to Gonzo and The Pro. This season, Gonzalez had 7 errors in 475 chances, for a .985 fielding percentage. Loretta had 4 errors in 639 chances for a .994 fielding percentage. Wonderboy came up and posted a .972 fielding percentage with 4 errors in 33 games. I’ve also been unable to find anyone who doesn’t think he’s terrified of the runner while turning a double play. In fact, Robin once called me to specifically tell me that Pedroia may wet himself the next time someone slides into second. How’s that sound for our middle infielder of the future? Oh and by the way, he can’t hit either. Seriously, if we needed a .191 batting average we would have bought Belli a middle infielder’s glove.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying its time to send this kid the way of Luis Rivera (how’s that for a blast from the past). I realize Pedroia’s only 23 and has the upside of blind date with Jenna Jameson. I’m just saying let him come to spring training and earn a spot. Then, now that Cora’s filed for free agency, maybe Pedroia spends a year as the utility guy and the Sox bring Gonzo and The Pro back for another year or two. That way there’s no controversy and everybody is happy. We all get to watch more of the smoothest defense around, our pitchers can keep throwing ground balls confidently, and Wonderboy finally gets to spend a year in The Fens learning for the vets and hitting on BU chicks.