Thursday, November 29, 2007

What else can I say, that's a hell of a price!

I'm not here to report the news; I'm here to analyze it. I was in the car with the radio on pretty much all day today, so I can tell you straight up that the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the Red Sox have offered Coco Crisp, Jon Lester, minor league SS Jed Lowrie, and either Justin Masterson or Michael Bowden (both pitching prospects). But you already know that. Upon first glance, that sounds like the Red Sox are lowballing the Twins, and it's a deal that makes a lot more sense than including guys like Ellsbury or Buchholz. Sure, fair enough.

For the purpose of this argument, let's say that the Twins are really eager to unload this guy and that the Yankees or Mets (I'm thinking he'll end up in Queens, honestly) don't offer a better deal.

Theo Epstein once said that the free agent market is a very inefficient market. Well, duh. That's why everyone's trying to land Santana before he hits free agency. But at this point, is it any different? The answer is a resounding no.

Santana has a no-trade clause, and he won't accept a trade until he gets a new contract. He told the Twins to stick it when they offered him 6/120. Yikes. Rumor has it that he's looking for 6/150. Guess what: $25 million a year is free-agent-market money. So essentially, the Red Sox would have to surrender these four guys (or more likely, either Buchholz or Ellsbury) AS WELL AS pay the guy $25 million until he's 35.

Paying the guy free-agent money plus giving away four key personnel is even less efficient than giving a guy just free-agent money. The sky is blue. The obvious statements here are going to be over until the last sentence of this post.

You've heard as many times as I have that Santana's the "best pitcher in baseball," blah, blah, blah. They're not in love with Johan Santana now. They're in love with Johan Santana three years ago when they used to watch him in his silk shirt and spandex pants singing into the microphone like David Lee Roth and posting an ERA of 2.61. Not that Santana's performing wedding gigs at sixty bucks a pop nowadays with his 3.33 ERA, but guess what? He's not the same! He's been in the top ten in innings pitched for four years in a row. His WHIP is up. He surrendered nine (NINE!) more home runs this year compared to last, and will that get better for a lefty pitcher in Fenway Park? Plus, I don't need to post the analysis that Pat wrote a few hours ago.

The guys on WEEI are saying that he's more valuable because he's a lefty. I used to believe that, but then I started thinking. Is an out recorded by a lefty more valuable than an out recorded by a righty? If so, maybe I'd be playing baseball instead of blogging and running marathons. If a lefty faces 21 batters, surrenders three singles, one walk, one home run, and strikes out seven, is it different from a righty doing so? You don't need me to answer that question.

Lefties are more valuable when they have similar skill sets as righties. As a lefty with a 52-MPH fastball and a curveball that works twice a year, I might retire more beer league batters than a righty with a 52-MPH fastball and curveball that works twice a year. Same goes with guys being drafted and same goes--to a lesser extent--with relief pitchers, as their stats vary greatly from year to year (ask Rudy Seanez). If Johan Santana has the fifth-best statistics in the American League, just being a lefty doesn't make him the "best pitcher in baseball."

As I wrote in the comment section, Santana is going to be 29 in March. Some idiots compared this trade to trading for Pedro Martinez. Pedro was 25 when he got traded. By the time he was 29, he wasn't really the same. Same with Tim Hudson. Kevin Brown got Santana-level workload for about five years straight, including the first two years of his big contract, and we all know what happened to him after that. I have no beef with Santana, but I hope he isn't at the point that he's going to start declining. But you have to at least wonder. As I wrote, six years at $25 million for a guy who is coming off of an 13-loss season with a significant jump in ERA, home runs, and WHIP SCREAMS Kevin Brown or Mike Hampton. By 2012 (the year after JD Drew), while their high-level prospects surrendered in this trade may or may not be helping the Twins contend, whoever decides to make this deal will be stuck paying $25 million for nothing but a Captain Santangibles.

I understand the Red Sox' wealth of trading chips right now. They should be used to acquire a catcher of the future. Coco plus a high-level prospect, such as Bowden or Masterson, for Saltalamacchia? I'd pull the trigger immediately. The team's pitching staff, as is, is still elite and--in relation to a rotation with Santana--comparatively price-effective. Their catching situation starting in 2009 might be a mess if Varitek and Boras look for ridiculous dollars. Saltalamacchia would remedy that issue. So what I'm trying to say is, the Red Sox can make a $150-million investment in preventing Bronx's "the Sox spend more than the Yankees" satisfaction, and keep four prospects/trading chips in the process.

The Red Sox should not, by any stretch of the imagination, sign Johan Santana.

Could I Be Getting My Guy?

Maybe two years ago.

There is a chance, perhaps a good one, that Aaron Rowand, formerly "my guy", could end up in a Yankee uniform. There have been multiple rumors that the reason Rowand isn't signing anywhere is because his agent has been informed by the Yankees to wait. Wait, because they are trading Cabrera, and then have an interest in Rowand.

Two years ago, during the 2005 season, I loved Aaron Rowand's game. Nothing flashy on offense, but solid. Tremendous defense. Played hard. Like Dustin Pedroia. Except he actually played hard.

At that time, I would have been in love with the idea of getting Rowand. But not now, not to replace Melky. Not at a seven year age differential. Not at the price Rowand is going to cost, which is going to be too much, even though he is very good. Every contract is too much.

Most importantly, there is no reason to believe Melky can't one day develop into a Rowand type player. In fact, if there was one center fielder in baseball you might project Melky to be, it would probably be Rowand. It took Rowand until he was 25 to put up numbers, in a partial season, like Melky put up over full seasons at ages 22 and 23. Melky probably isn't going to be a star (although he could be), but he could be on an Aaron Rowand level.

This is in line with my general beliefs for the Yankees' off-season. Just hold on to everyone. The only way you can really get hurt is if the Red Sox get Santana (which they won't for that awful offer of Crisp, Lester, Lowrie, and Masterson/Bowden). And that would only hurt for a few years. Long term, the Yankees would actually benefit from the Red Sox making such a move. It's a strength in numbers thing as far as the Yanks are concerned. Hold onto these youngsters, and you are bound to get your own aces and offensive monsters.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back to Blogging

Meaning not about A-Ring-Less of course.

Why not our favorite topic, as well as the main point of this blog. Yankees. Red Sox.

Interesting situation everyone on this blog finds themselves in as a fan. If you're a Red Sox fan, you aren't used to being on top. If you are a Yankees fan, you aren't used to being anything but on top, at least April-September.

The funny, and incorrect, thing about this is the idea that the Red Sox are now definitively superior to the Yankees in every facet. While the Red Sox are doing a lot of things right, and were certainly the better team in 2007, they don't have any sort of advantage in 2008. Not in the least. Not yet anyway.

So let's forget the idea that the Yankees are some sort of AL East underdog next season, and need to do something big this off-season in order to change this. After everything that happened this past season, primarily the Yankees 21-29 injury-induced start and the Red Sox blistering April/May, the Red Sox won the division by two games. Two. Actually, forget everything that happened. The Red Sox were better than the Yankees by two games, 96 wins to 94. That's all you need to know.

That isn't a lot. And, considering that if the season started today, both teams would enter next season with similar rosters to their '07 squads, I don't think you could classify the Red Sox as AL East favorites. I don't think you could classify the Yankees as such either. But the point is they are probably on about even ground, regardless of what the talking heads on TV might want you to believe.

The reason I mention this is for one reason and one reason alone: Johan Santana. I'm not sure what is going on in the Boston media, but in both the New York and national media, there seems to be this notion out there that, "The Yankees need to get Johan Santana, even though it will cost them key prospects, to keep up with Josh Beckett and the Red Sox." While I agree the Yankees ultimately need a Josh Beckett level, #1, strikeout machine starter to win big games, I don't think it needs to be Johan Santana, and I definitely don't think it needs to be this year. Not at the price the Twins are asking now.

Sure, Santana is the best pitcher in the game. But his numbers have gotten worse in each of the last four seasons, and he posted a 5.05 ERA after that 17 strikeout game this year, struggling that scouts said to be a product of a reluctance to throw his slider. Yes, the slider, the most stressful pitch on a pitcher's arm in baseball. Uh oh? Maybe, maybe not. But any sort of uh oh matters when you are talking about the type of prospect package it is going to take to get him.

But I don't want to argue about weather or not Johan Santana is healthy or not, and how this will impact the Yankees if they get him. He's obviously good when healthy, that's all we need to know. But he just doesn't make sense for the Yankees. They can make the playoffs with the team they have, especially if Pettitte comes back, which I expect. They can also win the AL East. Santana doesn't mean much in that regard.

Where Johan Santana would really come into play for the Yankees is in October (if he works out, which is always an if no matter how good when you have a pitcher with this much mileage on his arm changing cities). But in order to get this potential October presence, they would have to give another potential one up, one that is eight years younger. Forget the rest of the package (which would be big), I don't see how the Yankees don't have to give up Phil Hughes in a deal. I'm out on this.

Some people suddenly seem very okay with this idea. This bothers me to no end. This is Phil Hughes. Remember, Phil Hughes? The #1 pitching prospect in baseball entering 2007. The kid who no-hit the Rangers through 6.1 innings, making people look silly. The kid who went 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA in September, you know, during a playoff race. The kid who gave us the shutout pitching performance, in an elimination game, that gave us our only playoff win.

Anybody besides me remember him? What, one injury and a little bit of time to get back in the groove, where he admittedly pitched poorly, and we are ready to toss him in a deal for Santana? Not me.

Hughes is still special. So is Joba. So is Kennedy, albeit perhaps not on their level right now. Still, out of this group, is it outlandish to think one of them will become an ace? Is it maybe even likely? Yes. Could even be two. If we are lucky, it will be three.

With that in mind, why do the Yankees need Johan Santana? How does trading away at least one of these arms, and eight years of mileage, along with other valuable pieces help the Yankees? How does not getting him hurt them?

Well, to bring our other blog team back in, the only way it hurts them is if Boston gets him. Then the Yankees are screwed for 2-3 more years, at least, and you can discard this post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just Another Notch

Here's another oversized comment on the last post, courtesy of the GM.

Really, when it comes down to it, this is just another example of April O'Neil being unable to just shut the hell up and do his job. It's not that much different from all the other asinine stunts he's pulled in the last decade or so.

I agree with Bandi by saying that these incentives are borderline-disrespectful to the legends of baseball. If I got my act together and wrote a post about this (I did it!), I'd tag it as a Wedding Crashers reference: Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds are just four more notches in the ol' belt for April.

I also don't buy this "he deserves part of the cut" thing. Wouldn't he be compensated for this "additional revenue generation" by, you know, getting paid $275 million? Maybe he's Superman and he will still be hitting .300/50/130 when he's 40-42 years old, but chances are he won't be worth $27.5 million in any of those three years. The "additional home run revenue" would offset his inevitable decline in production.

Honestly, I hope a journeyman hothead pitcher making less than $6 million a year gives up #661, April's first $6-million home run. Then, in April's next at-bat, the pitcher tries to end his career.

These incentives ought to rub the Yankees the wrong way (for reasons already discussed). Maybe they do but they just didn't have the fortitude to do anything about it. These incentives should rub Baseball Hall of Famers the wrong way, as A-Rod is just using their accomplishments to make his already-insane contract even more insane. It's been said that other players already resent the guy because with his last contract, he made SO MUCH MORE than everyone else. Now he can make more than the major league average with one swing of the bat. So you better believe it, it ought to rub them the wrong way.

By writing this at work, I am taking a break from editing the first threat matrix GraVoc has ever produced. I'm the dude who wrote both the first threat matrix and the first social engineering project for this firm. Does this mean I deserve kickback for the "additional revenue" that GraVoc makes from providing social engineering projects or threat matrices? No. Making those two things are just my job, and I just shut up and do it. Similarly, it's A-Rod's job to hit, and specifically hit home runs. If the Yankees end up making more money because one home run is more special than other ones, so be it.

But at the same time, I have spent the last 15 minutes writing this instead of working, and I'm still getting paid for it. I've done nothing good for the company. You know. Just like A-Rod in October.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A-Rod Incentives Detrimental

It is being widely reported that the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez are close to finalizing a deal. 10 years, $275 million. Who cares, we've known that for weeks.

But of course, nothing ever happens with A-Rod that isn't in some way newsworthy. Nothing ever just happens where people read the bottom line and say, "Ok, that happened", and move on. For example, had the contract been nice and simple, like Posada, Rivera, or anybody else in the history of baseball, this would have been the case. A number of years and an amount of money is established. It's reported. Everyone moves on.

In classic A-Rod fashion, this is not the case with his contract. There are incentives, allegedly five of them for $6 million each when he reaches the homerun milestones of Mays, Ruth, Aaron, and Bonds, as well as one for passing Bonds.

Ridiculous.

Absurd.

Bad idea.

I understand revenues are up. Way up. I understand the revenue A-Rod is going to generate with his homerun chase. But isn't this about winning baseball games?

A-Rod isn't totally to blame here. The Yankees put it in the contract, and nobody forced them to (forced, like Boras "forced" A-Rod to opt out). They are real men, they can take the blame for this too.

This is why this is so bad.
1. It puts an emphasis on A-Rod and his numbers. There should be an emphasis on A-Rod winning the World Series. I'd much rather see a $100 million bonus for A-Rod getting a ring.
2. Breaking the record should be enough of a reward. People shouldn't get paid to break records or reach milestones. They should get paid to win.
3. It's a circus. The structuring that is. $6 million every time he reaches a milestone. Catching Mays, Ruth, and Aaron are all worth money? Why not throw everyone else on the list in, retroactive to his first homerun? Just silly. Give him something for actually breaking a record, if anything. Not for tying 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place.
4. The Yankees have guaranteed 5 one month slumps for their third baseman (in additon, as DV pointed out, to the 10 playoff slumps they have coming, guaranteed). Anyone catch this guy in any sort of pressure situation? Anyone pay attention during any of his Octobers recently? Anyone happen to tune in to his chase for 500, which took about a year? He TIGHTENS UP, and he can't help it. Great. I hope he's one away from Mays when the Yankees and Red Sox are in a divisional race in September. That will go well for the Yankees. We have enough trouble trying to get him to put the ball in play in big spots. Now he'll be swinging for the fences. Awesome.
5. A-Ring-Less is, well, A-Ring-Less. He gets paid a lot of money as it is. A lot of people resent this. I don't necessarily care about all of them. But I do care about his teammates. Maybe they do care about $27.5 million, maybe they don't. But they can't really say anything about that. What they can care about, however, is getting $6 million, for one swing, 5 times over. How is Johnny Fourth Outfielder, the kind of guy the Yankees used to win with, suppossed to feel about the five separate $6 million interruptions the Yankees are going to experience when he is trying to win baseball games for $420,000 per year? And Johnny Fourth Outfielder actually cares. And he knows A-Rod doesn't. Sad.

This is, just like everything else with A-Rod, going to be a distraction. The focus is on everything, anything, but winning a baseball game. That is why he is, and always will be, A-Ring-Less. Have fun with your extra $30 million circus. You're the best player to never win the big one. Go Twins.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Alan Horne, The Big Four?

This is why I love this time of the baseball year so much. Endless prospect information. With trade rumors abound, roster conversation seemingly endless, and no actual baseball games, you get incredible prospect stuff pretty much non-stop. I'm the type that follows it all year anyway, but during the off-season everyone is involved, and I love it. I also love that the New York Baseball Yankees are an active participant in these talks again. You know, because they actually have prospects. What a concept.

So who's the thing? Joba Chamberlain? Phil Hughes? Ian Kennedy? Jose Tabata? Jesus Montero? Austin Jackson? Brett Gardner? Dellin Betances? All impressive. All exciting. But no.

The man of the hour in the Yankees' prospect off-season is Alan Horne. I'll admit, I wasn't a lover. I wasn't a hater. But I wasn't a lover. And I'm furious with myself over it. The numbers were there. I read a bunch of scouts. I knew. But I didn't believe. I said they have Phil, they have Joba, they have IPK. There is no way there is another one in the same year. Much like non-Yankees fans, including many on this site, thought there was no way there was a Joba (much less IPK), after the way we heralded Phil Hughes, I thought there was no way there was an Alan Horne.

But there is. And we all better get used to it. John Manuel of Baseball America recently said on a radio show that he talked to a scout that said Horne's stuff "rated a tad below Joba's." Another said he "has four plus pitches". Let me be the first to point out the obvious. Scouts from other teams don't give reports like this unless they are true. The last thing they want to do is hype a guy they might want to trade for. If possible, they would prefer to do the opposite. But sometimes they just call a spade a spade. Go back and look at my post about Joba circa the All-Star Break, when nobody knew who he was. One scout said, "He might be better than Hughes." Nobody, including myself, was totally on board with that. Now? At worst they are on even ground.

Hearing what I've heard recently, and reading what I've read recently, I'm elevating Horne to untouchable status. I'm making up for my lack of loving this summer, when everything said I should have been loving. 2-seamer 91-92, plus. 4-seamer, 93-95, touching 97, plus. Curveball 76-78, as high as 80, plus. Slider 86-87, high as 90, can be plus. Changeup 81-82, work in progress, but can be tough on lefties when he has it going. Lead the Eastern League in ERA. Lead the Eastern League in strikeouts. Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. Untouchable on the trade market.

When I say untouchable (this is mostly for Bandi) take it with a grain of salt. If the Twins called up tomorrow and said "Santana for Horne strait up", obviously I'm doing that. But the Twins won't do that, not even close. They'll want Horne, along with Cano and Kennedy. That makes no sense for the Yankees, especailly considering where Horne is now.

Alan Horne's rise is why I am further advocating a no-trade off-season for the Yankees, unless they can move A-Rod for Casey Fossum (just kidding Bronx). There are very few trades the Yankees could make where I think they would actually improve, even in the present. They have too much quality, and too much depth. Marquez, Clippard, and DeSalvo for an 8th inning guy? Sure. But none of the Big Four. Horne is going to be in the Bronx this year. And if he brings stuff "a tad below Joba", we are going to have a lot of fun.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I Can't Believe My I's

They've written that this country has been waiting for the LA Angels of Anaheim to finally make a big move, but it's never happened. I guess last night, it happened. Kinda.

Torii Hunter? For five years? Torii Hunter for ninety million dollars? Oh my goodness gracious. Maybe it's the East Coast Bias, but I didn't know that Torii Hunter deserved to be one of the TOP FIVE PAID PLAYERS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES? According to Baseball-Reference.com, only April O'Neil, Jason Giambi, and Derek Jeter made more than $18 million in 2007 (Manny's getting deferred payments until about 2030). And the Angels are giving Torii Hunter $18 million five years from now when he's 37 years old? Suddenly, I feel better about Nancy Drew.

Is Torii Hunter a good baseball player? Sure. Is he better than average. Yes. Is he elite? Should he be one of the top five paid players in baseball? Is the difference between him and Gary Matthews, Jr. or Reggie Willits going to be the difference between the Angels getting swept in the first round and winning the World Series? No. No. No. What on earth was Angels GM Tony Reagins thinking?

First, let's look at the numbers. Hunter, a 2-time All-Star, has never hit .300. He has exactly two seasons above 100 RBI (102 in 2003, 107 this year). His career on-base percentage (.324) is lower than Coco Crisp's on-base percentage this year. He averages 25 home runs per season, but 25 home runs is not worthy of $90 million. Plus, there's no untapped potential here: At age 32, he's not getting any better. Imagine how he's going to be protecting an aging Vlad Guerrero in 2012 at age 37. And he'll still be making $18 million that year.

Plus, the Angels will have to find a way to get rid of Matthews. It's not good practice to be paying $10 million for a juicer who's sitting on the bench or platooning. Of course, it's not good practice to have one of your guys suspended at the beginning of next year, which is somewhat likely. But apparently the Angels' plan is to use Matthews, Anderson, and Vlad in a rotation, with Anderson and Guerrero switching between the outfield and DH and Matthews playing the outfield almost every day. Between those three guys, that's a lot of money for platoon players.

Plus, Reggie Willits is a fine fourth outfielder. He's got no power, but he gets hits, gets on base, and steals bases. Now he's going to be a fine fifth outfielder.

As it was a late-breaking story, there's not much reaction in Los Angeles yet. I'm looking forward to seeing what they're going to say out there.

"We look at things that make sense," Reagins was quoted as saying here. If this move "makes sense," Reagins must be delusional.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Austin Jackson, the next Joba?

Pete Abraham just reported on his blog that Austin Jackson was rated by Baseball America as the #2 prospect in the Hawaii Fall League. Last BA #2 prospect in Hawaii? Joba Chamberlain last year.

Brett Gardner has special tools in the outfield and in the leadoff spot. Jose Tabata seems to have endless potential. But Austin Jackson is really showing people some things right now in terms of results, and is forcing everyone to view him not only as the Yankees' most ready outfield prospect, but probably their most ready prospect period. Don't be suprised to see him in New York this year if needed/necessary.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Your Marketing Techniques Suck

It's 10:03 on November 20, which means we're a mere 57 minutes away from this autumn's premier event. Any idea what it is? Would you have remembered if you didn't read this blog? I wouldn't have remembered if my dad weren't watching the channel.

That, of course, would be Frank TV, starring Frank Caliendo, on TBS. Nobody reading this blog requires any kind of reminder of what Frank TV is, because they watched either 1) a Division Series game or 2) a National League Championship Series game or 3) many of both. There are only two things marketed harder than Frank TV during this year's playoffs, but we already knew the things that were being marketed:

We already know that this is our country and we already know how many Octobers there are.

From the commercials, we knew that some time a long time from now, a show called Frank TV would be premiering on TBS. We knew it was going to be Frank Caliendo doing funny and, most of all, extremely accurate impersonations of famous people, including John Madden, George W. Bush, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro. But tonight's the night, and nobody remembered.

I would venture to guess that any Family Guy rerun on TBS will get at least half of the ratings share as Frank TV, and that's for two reasons: There was nothing memorable about the date, and the date was too far away. The Red Sox are now three weeks removed from their World Championship (insert Yankees joke here), and that means we're at least five weeks removed from the end of the NLCS and the last playoff advertisement for Frank TV. TBS probably ate Edgar Renteria money to put Frank TV advertisements during the Division Series and NLCS. There may have been more commercials aired than people actually watching the show.

The Lowell Market (I Told You So Edition)

Well, it looks like the Red Sox' offseason from here on in is going to be relatively tranquil, and that's relieving. On this blog I'm going to be able to write about other issues in baseball, including trades like yesterday's (Cabrera for Garland), Bonds, Mitchell, the crash of the Boras dynasty, and the possible market correction that might be underway.

Mike Lowell re-signed with Boston yesterday for 3 years/$37.5 million. Which is perfect. As they said way back in August maybe, Mr. Reliable remained Mr. Affordable. And here's why: There was no market for his services. People most likely pointed at exactly what I pointed at last week: Nobody wanted to gamble on a 37-year-old third baseman whose numbers would be severely deflated anywhere except for Philadelphia and Boston and whose woeful 2005 numbers raise a pretty big red flag.

For Philadelphia and Boston, specifically and exclusively, Mike Lowell has a reasonably high (like 3/$37.5) value. For everyone else in baseball, his value was more like 2/$20. So teams like the Yankees, reportedly offering 4/$60? As stupid as Bronxman thinks Brian Cashman and friends are, they're not that stupid, and neither is anyone else in baseball. Those offers reported by Boston TV stations were nothing but smoke and mirrors.

If they were, Mike Lowell would not have taken a lowball offer (in today's terms) or a three-year deal to stay in Boston.

The Red Sox got a bargain on this guy, assuming that his actual value to specifically Boston or Philadelphia is higher than what his value would be to the other 28 franchises. And seeing that Philadelphia wasn't interested in that kind of investment, the Red Sox were bidding against themselves. I joked to my buddy Johnny that they could have offered him 3 years at $24 million total and he wouldn't have found any better suitors. Of course, that would lead to a pissed-off third baseman--so they didn't do that.

And unlike last year's similar situation of bidding against themselves, they didn't bit any kind of inordinate amount. Last week, the Red Sox called the bluff of everyone else in baseball, stood their ground, and got a very productive (at least in 2007) third baseman for short years and reasonable money. Good for them.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yankees Off-Season Plans: Retake

This has been a weird off-season for the Yankees. Really weird. Between Torre leaving, the A-Rod saga, and the uncertainty of Posada, Rivera, and Pettitte, it was difficult for me to really put on my GM cap (a cap I enjoy wearing just as much as my managerial cap, even though I probably know more about the micro aspects of the game), and put forth what I really think the Yankees should do. Obviously, the difference between having and not having any of those players is huge, and totally changes the Yankees' needs.

A-Rod and Posada are settled, but I'm tired of sitting around and waiting for the rest of the uncertainty to be ironed out. So I'm going to go ahead and assume Mariano will be back, saving me a lot of trouble in this space. And while I'm on it let me just say a few quick things on that subject. The Yankees should do what they have to do to get him back. Mo has four rings, and is the best relief pitcher of all time. He has taken short, reasonable contract after short, reasonable contract his entire career. He is the model athlete in this day and age. The past two seasons, Billy Wagner and B.J. Ryan, each of whom have less talent and worth than Mo has in his fingernail, made the same amount of money as he did. A-Rod just signed a contract paying him $27.5 million a year, $17.5 million more than what Mo made last year. He has won 0 rings and done nothing for the organization. From a strictly worth standpoint, a deal above 3/$45 makes no sense. Heck, under the circumstances, 3/$45 makes no sense. But the reality is, Mo could probably get 3/$39 from someone else, making the Yankees' offer a pretty small upgrade when you consider Rivera's history with the team. He has been moderately paid, at least relative to his teammates, his entire career. He has won four World Series, and never been anything but reliable and professional on the field and in the clubhouse. He wants to get paid at the end of his career. Pay him. At the very least, he is an overpaid 7th inning guy who is mentoring the late inning relievers/closers of the future (Sanchez, Melancon, etc.). There are worse things, especially when dealing with someone as significant as Mariano Rivera.

Sorry for that. Should have been its own post.

So assuming Mo is back, the next and perhaps only issue is Andy Pettitte. Obviously, he needs to be back. Has to be back. Essential. He won 15 games despite allowing 2 earned runs or less in 10 of his first 12 starts, and collecting only 3 wins on that because of the Yankees offensive struggles. They hit like they should have, he probably wins 20. Don't underestimate how important he was and is.

If he is back it is a perfect marriage for the pitching staff and the team. They would have six starters, which is what they will need to make it through this season. Joba, Hughes, and IPK cannot be part of a 5 man rotation this year. It is unrealistic and can do as much harm as good for each of their careers. In some way or another Mussina will be worked in with them to make sure they stay near their innings limits. The Yankees will also have two workhorses in Wang and Pettitte to take pressure off of the rest of the rotation to work innings. They can focus on getting outs.

If Pettitte isn't back, they have to go get a starter via trade. Even if he is back, the Yankees would do well to do so. As we saw, you don't need pitching depth to win in October. You need one lockdown guy. More is even better. But you need at least one. Joba, Phil, and IPK could all be that. They really could. But they also might not be. We know Wang isn't. And for as big game a pitcher as Pettitte is, he gets bye more on guts and smarts than stuff at this point, and that will only get trickier with each year passing.

So this brings me to the point of this post. What do the Yankees do with the rotation? Pettitte or no Pettitte, what do you do with The Big Three? At least one of them would have to be included in any trade for a front of the line starter like Santana and Haren. Are you willing to do that, all things considered? Are you willing to give up Kennedy, and what he could turn into, as well as Cano, and what he is, for the most dominant pitcher in the game in Johan? Are you willing to give up Kennedy or Hughes strait up for Haren, who would have question marks himself in terms of staying consistent over a full season and pitching in a big game?

I'm not sure I am. I know that I grow attached to these kids. But with A-Rod back, and the offense he brings, they are a playoff team as is. Are they a World Series contender? I don't know. A lot of that depends on what Joba, Hughes, and IPK turn into, and how fast.

Getting Johan sounds great. He is the exact player the Yankees need. Not really good. Dominant. But the cost is going to be exorbitant. I don't see how giving up Cano, Hughes, and more helps us, now or in the long-run.

I really like Dan Haren. Always have. I love his durability in terms of taking the mound. But he tailed off bigtime in the second half this year, and has no big game experience, which is what the Yankees would need more than anything else in an ace they acquired. Someone who can dominate the big game. I don't know if Dan Haren can do that. I also don't know that he can't. Essentially, anyone we gave up for him, be it Hughes or Kennedy, would be in the same boat in terms of big game potential, or lack thereof.

So in terms of the rest of the Yankees' off-season, I don't want to see them do much. I want them to get an 8th inning guy. I want them to try to fix the DH/LF situation. After that, I want to see them hold on to Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Ian Patrick Kennedy. They have proven nothing yet. But they have done nothing to show they don't deserve the opportunity to do so. Their numbers at every level have been staggering. They are all 22 or younger. And they all have different styles. It may mean nothing, and be something that I and only I would put any weight behind, but I love how different they are in terms of pitching styles. Joba is a flamethrower, a pure power pitcher. Hughes is the total package, who beats you a lot of different ways without totally blowing you away, but blowing you away just enough. IPK is a more easy-tossing, control and change of speed guy. They cover the entire spectrum. Yet they each have great control and the ability to strike a ton of guys out, which is unusual for three such distinct styles. I know this sounds like blowing smoke, especially because I am a Yankees fan. But I really think each of them could be a star. Not just good. 20 game winners each good.

So Brian Cashman, don't go get Johan. He costs too much. And don't go get Dan Haren, because what we have might be better than him. Let A-Rod and them get us to the playoffs. Then let's see if The Big Three can take it from there.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

You, you, you, you.

I wonder how Barry Bonds is going to blame the media for this one.

I'm pretty sure that if you're reading this blog, you know what happened to this clown. HYD Baseball has more or less intentionally ignored every positive thing Barry Bonds has done, probably because we don't think he deserves our time or our attention. His indictment does deserve our attention, because this is probably more important to the sport as number 756.

First of all, when they were talking all about Ron Mexico's indictment, they were saying that people don't get indicted unless the federal government has a strong case. I heard on the radio that 99% of indictments either result in guilty pleas or convictions. Barry Bonds is screwed. But yeah, we already know that. We already knew that. You didn't need to read that on this blog. So I apologize.

What people don't already know is what this means. First, I'd say it has little to do with steroids, unfortunately. It's not going to help the Mitchell investigation (which is going to end up being a joke). It's not going to help clean up the sport any more than it has already been cleaned up. It's very unlikely that it will prevent players from doing steroids. But it will probably prevent anyone from lying in front of a federal grand jury again when there are piles of evidence, including positive steroid tests, stacked against you. What an idiot. The only thing we're going to learn about steroids in baseball would be, if anything, other BALCO clients with copious evidence of positive tests. It wouldn't surprise me if Gary Sheffield (who also decided to deny his steroid use) also got indicted. Jason Giambi, though he got his 15 minutes of public scorn, is in the clear--no pun intended. He told the truth, so he's not going to jail. Good for him. Maybe fans can vote for that scumbag for another Comeback Player of the Year award because he's not going to jail.

The most discussed part of the Bonds indictment is what should happen to his stats, because this indictment seals the deal and takes away pretty much any doubt whether Bonds actually did anything wrong. For everyone except for probably Tim Kurkjian and the San Fran Kool-Aid Drinkers. Many respected sportswriters even think that there should be an asterisk or a complete whitewashing of everything Barry Bonds did. Though it would be very nice to make an example out of Barry Bonds, neither of those things are even plausible. If baseball caught every steroid user, maybe there's something to talk about. But you can't pick and choose which guys to asterisk and which guys not to asterisk. It's not fair to asterisk guys like Giambi and Canseco, who told the truth, but not asterisk guys who did steroids, pumped up their stats, but never got caught. You can't asterisk anyone, unfortunately.

I actually agree with the notorious Bonds sympathizer Kurkjian in this article from last February: Baseball has never taken anyone's records away, we just attach a story to them, a story that will follow Bonds for the rest of his life. We need to give more credit to our finest baseball fans; they understand what happened in this era. And in a hundred years, our best fans will know what happened. Our fathers passed down the stories about Joe Jackson and his gambling thing to us. Young fathers right now are passing down the story of Pete Rose to their sons. And future fathers will tell the whole story about the current home run record: "Barry Bonds got that record because he did illegal performance-enhancing drugs. He lied about what he did, and he went to jail for it."

And there it goes. There's no way he doesn't get convicted, because that kinda stuff doesn't happen with federal indictment cases. I'm looking forward to this whole thing playing out, because I'm curious as to whether he's going to continue to be stubborn and arrogant and say he never did anything and that everyone's just out to get him. I can't wait for the first speech: do you think it will be different from the "I'm tired" speech?

I think Jay Marriotti said it best: Everyone said it was a bad day for baseball. But was it? Barry Bonds, the biggest villian of the sport (even including A-Rod) and the face of the steroid scandal, got busted. There is hardly any more "did he/didn't he." As Marriotti said, the national nightmare is over. All the things that he's said over the last couple years...like "this record is not tainted..." are going to be comical if you watch them again. Finally, Bonds doesn't have the media to blame anymore. He has nobody to blame but himself.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Good and The Bad of the A-Rod Deal

It is now 99% certain Alex Rodriguez is a Yankee (hold out hope on that 1%!). If it happens I'm obviously not going to be happy. Having a guy just to win regular season baseball games, despite so many flaws in October and every bit of drama he brings to the table, and at that price, just doesn't appeal to me. Whatever. The only thing saving my wardrobe is the fact that he looks like such an idiot crawling back to the Yankees.

But he's back, and like him or wish he would just retire or go away, we have to deal with it. And by deal, I mean Boston fans can keep laughing at the Yankees for at least 10 years, and Yankees fans can either be happy about being a playoff team, or furious about not winning World Series titles. You know which side I'm on. Either way, let's look at the positives and negatives of this deal.

POSITIVES:
1. The best part of this deal (and only positive in my eyes) is that the Yankees don't have to use prospects to get a bat. The offense, as always, will be fine. So we can focus all of our energy on a high-end starting pitcher and an 8th inning guy.
2. Alex Rodriguez will hit during the regular season, and that means something. This deal is a nice safe way to ensure playoff births, at least for the next few years (if you're not a risk taker and safety is your thing). I don't view this as that big of a deal, because there are OTHER ways to win in the regular season, but his regular season production, and the way that impacts the Yankees' playoff chances year in and year out is undeniable.

NEGATIVES:
1. The biggest problem is that if the Yankees want to win in October, they have to do so despite their best player. Alex Rodriguez wasn't directly responsible for any playoff losses. It is difficult for any one offensive player to be. But he hasn't helped ONCE since the ALDS in 2004. You don't expect that out of your best player. As a matter of fact, it is almost unfathomable that your best player can be that bad in the playoffs. But that is something the Yankees will have to deal with every year. Win a series, and do it without the bat that got you there. It is the equivalent of suffering an injury on the last day of the regular season. A person you need is just gone. Literally.
2. 42 years old. 27.5 million. Nice.
3. This contract sets a fun precedent for all future negotiations. I'm sure Jeter, Cano, Wang, Joba, Hughes, et al will all take discounts now. Great job setting us up for long term.
4. Lack of flexibility. 10 years? Can't trade him. Can't do anything with him. Can't move Jeter to 3rd or 2nd either, which is where he belongs. So in two years we'll have a left side of the infield with a third baseman who can't hit when it counts, and a shortstop who can't move. Awesome decision making!
5. What do his teammates think? DV and I talked about this last night. So many people dislike this guy. Some of his teammates obviously do as well. It would be impossible, percentage wise, for them not to, especially considering the way he conducts himself. I find it hard to believe any of them like him personally. If anything, some of them are like "Okay, he's a d-bag, but I want to win, so I'm going to deal with it." Oh how badly they are mistaken. He'll help you win...in July. Forget October.
6. And this one hurts the most. Boston will continue to win the World Series every other year for the next ten years. Five total before 2017. Before 162-Rod showed up, they were on an 86 year drought. Since he showed up? Biggest collapse in baseball history. Two World Series for Boston. Three first round exits for the Yankees...consecutively. We don't even win the division anymore. Coincidence or not, I don't care. The Yankees have moved backwards on A-Rod's watch, and I'm not okay with that. I don't want to hear any "he can't do it all". We know that, nobody can. The problem is, he doesn't do anything to help, and he is the one guy, at that money and that talent level, that is supposed to. To me, that is the only thing that matters.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fortunately, In Life, All Bad Things Must Come To An End

Including the Winter of A-Rod. It's only been three days since free agents could negotiate with other teams, but it seems like this winter of free agency has been long enough. And thanks to this absolute clown Alex Rodriguez, I'm already exhausted. But this might be the end of the A-Rod drama. Hopefully his 10-year, $275 million contract (a major league record: let's forget this "bargain" talk) just gets finalized in the morning, so we don't have to hear about it anymore. We don't have to hear about his rift with his agent, we don't have to hear about how everyone hates the guy but so-called "rational" people say they would even pay the asking price of $350 million because he's such an offensive machine.

The argument has been hashed, re-hashed, and analyzed by every angle. I'm tired (not this kind of tired), Pat's tired, and I bet Bronx, as the only pro-A-Rod guy on this blog, is tired of defending him. Maybe Alex and Cynthia can just go home for a few months, maybe wake up tomorrow morning at 6:15 and start running stairs. Because that's how special our boy is.


As I wrote in an earlier comment, there has been a lot of great stuff written about A-Rod, Boras, and the Yankees already Wednesday and Thursday. Really great stuff. And I hope I can at least go through a little bit. I just don't know where to start.

Let's talk about Scott Boras getting thrown under the bus. He f'ed this one up, big time. As I wrote on November 7, Wednesday night was the last night of the Boras Dynasty. And ESPN's Buster Olney writes the same thing, saying that Boras "will not" recover from this latest bout of nonsense. He threw himself under the bus for the Game Four thing. And now A-Rod threw him under the bus for making him look greedy, going behind Boras's back to negotiate with the Yankees. Everyone knew Boras was a scumbag, and his detractors are celebrating tonight. Other Boras clients have seen this, and might want to reconsider who they want representing them. As I said, teams will most likely think of Boras clients as at least a little bit scummy--if they don't already. It's awesome. Boras detractors, including me, Ken Rosenthal, and everyone in Red Sox Nation who are wondering what's the fascination with JD Drew, have been waiting for a long time to see this guygo down. And Boras screwed this one up royally.

Possibly the most interesting article I read today came from NY Newsday's Ken Davidoff: "When Hank Steinbrenner responded to the opt-out with the harsh, public 'Goodbye,' A-Rod was taken aback, friends of his said. He also grew unnerved by the wide criticism over the timing of the announcement, trying to relax with a couple of trips to the Bahamas."


Really? What did A-Rod expect by opting out after the Yankees said they wouldn't negotiate with him without the Texas Subsidy? A dozen roses with an enclosure card saying "thanks for costing us 21 million dollars. You're a great guy and we hope that we can get a deal worked out quick" or something? Is he retarded? Why not tell Boras not to make an announcement during the World Series? Seriously, what did he expect? I swear to God, this guy is dumber than Johnny Damon.


Davidoff also called A-Rod an "incredible commodity." We understand his numbers, and if we don't, we have Bronx in the comment sections to make sure you know how good his numbres are. But we also understand what happened in the fourth game of the World Series with this guy. As baseball fans (and Yankees fans like Pat), Alex Rodriguez has adversely affected all of our lives nonstop for the past three weeks. My last three weeks would have been more productive and more worthwhile if Alex Rodriguez didn't exist. Don't think I'm backing down from my promised "Wonderful Life" post on December 25. I hope the Yankees have fun with this "incredible commodity" for the next decade, as all this frustration isn't worth 55 home runs a year. I mean it.

By "frustration," I mean exactly this, from A-Rod's own website: "I reached out to the Yankees through mutual friends and conveyed that message. I also understand that I had to respond to certain Yankees concerns, and I was receptive and understanding of that situation." Good job, Alex. What a good guy. You were proactive and your sincere actions make you a model citizen. If Alex Rodriguez actually cared about the Yankees and playing for the Yankees, he would not have opted out. Does this statement actually sound sincere? Or is it just an advertisement to prove to everyone how much of a proactive, heartfelt, nice guy A-Rod is? I compared him to T.O. previously. His website is not as cool as T.O.'s. And at least T.O. embraces the fact that he's a total prick.

Newsday's Wallace Matthews agrees: A-Rod's "proactive" move contacting the Yankees was just a clever damage control ploy. A-Rod killed his image and he's trying to repair it. He's not sorry an ounce for Game Four or the original $252 million contract or the $350 million figure or anything. He just kinda realized that the extent to which he sucks as a person might hurt his market value. You know, because nobody came knocking on his door with a $350 million paycheck despite the fact that he puts up numbers that make our boy Bronx drool. A-Rod's content now: Not because he's going to be a Yankee for the rest of his career. He's happy because for some reason somebody is stupid enough to give him a $27.5 million paycheck when he's 41 years old, and even more if he breaks the home run record. Classy.

John Donovan of Sports Illustrated outlined a list of winners and losers in this whole thing: The Yankees, the Steinbrenners, and Brian Cashman are listed as winners. What? Are you freaking kidding me? They caved. Big time. Hank and Hal may have their father's blood or his temper, but they don't have his balls. They went back on their word, and somehow they still got suckered into giving Alex Rodriguez ten years at a record annual salary! Pat put it best: This guy is going to continue embarrassing your franchise (as he has repeatedly: With the Arroyo incident, the Howie Clark incident, the Verducci article, the "I Run Stairs" interview, the Toronto stripper, the t-shirt on his wife, the postseason futility, and the last two weeks) until 2017. The Yankees and their fans are HUGE losers on this front. You have to keep on dealing with this absolute crap, reading articles like this, for what is likely going to be fifteen percent of your life. Great.

Derek Jeter is listed among the losers on the Donovan article. No friggin kidding. I mean, I hate the Yankees, and a bunch of crap he does infuriates me like Pedroia infuriates Pat. But I feel bad for the guy. For his entire career before A-Rod, he was above all this nonsense. He shut up, played baseball hard, and avoided all the drama. He played to win the game. All he cared about was winning games. And Derek Jeter never embarrassed the Yankees' franchise. And for the rest of his career, poor Derek Jeter's going to have to deal with Alex Rodriguez, being a distraction, being the face of the franchise, getting in fights with Jason Varitek and disgracing everything it means to wear pinstripes. Poor Derek Jeter.

I'll finally finish off this rant by talking about George Vecsey's Times article. Vecsey said the Yankees should treat A-Rod like he treated them. Though you should blame Boras, you should blame his client, too. All season, the Yankees said they wouldn't negotiate with him if he decided to have the audacity to opt out. He opted out anyway. Then he came crawling back when he realized there was no market for the package of great services and nonstop crap. What the Yankees should have done was offer him a Joe Torre-kind of deal. The Yankees should have, as Vecsey said, "opted out" on him.

Like the Torre move, it would be a slimy, unsportsmanlike, childish move. But given his behavior, Alex Rodriguez doesn't deserve any better.

New Blog Features: Timers

Coming soon to HYD Baseball is a new, very significant feature. We are going to put timers on the side of the homepage, counting down to two very significant events, one for each club we cover.

The first timer will start at 3 years, 11 months. That is how long J.D. Drew has left in Boston. The end of that timer is a moment DV is truly looking forward to.

The second timer will start at 9 years, 11 months. That is how long it is until the Yankees can start winning The World Series again. The end of that timer is when the Yankees will rejoin the other 29 potential playoff teams, for whom October is a crapshoot. Until then, they are the one team in baseball whose postseason fate is absolutely determined. You know why. JLDSFKJLFDJKFDJKDFSJKDFJKDSFKJSDFJKSFD.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Collusion and...Business Ethics

First of all, I have been very fortunate all season and beyond for being able to rip on two Erics prominent in Boston sports: Mr. Wilbur and Mr. Gagne. Thanks to these two Erics, I've been able to use the same Billy Madison references with about 35% of the frequency that Boston Dirt Dogs makes the joke about how the Red Sox' third baseman's last name is the same as a city north of Boston that happens to have a lot of highways in it.

As you know, Eric Wilbur and I have a love-hate relationship, with most of it being love. This week, though, Eric is a d-bag and a bad, bad man again. Pretty much the same stuff as Massarotti and Buckley: Asking "would it really be that bad if this guy were on the Red Sox?" Wilbur asks if Boston fans really hate on athletes for moral grounds, citing Rodney Harrison and Randy Moss. He said that from a baseball standpoint, it makes the most sense to sign Rodriguez. Lowell is going to decline, he says (and that's hard to argue). But so is Rodriguez, as he's only a year younger than Lowell. I'd rather see Lowell decline for half the price. If the Red Sox sign A-Rod for seven years, like Wilbur suggests, A-Rod being slightly better than average at age 38--while making thirty million dollars--isn't going to fly any better than Lowell at 37 for 13 million. And considering the often-aforementioned "implicit costs," it might actually fly worse.

MLB.com's Mike Bauman has his head on straight a little bit more. He writes,

On the one hand, he might be the single most attractive free agent in the history of free agency. And on the other, he might be the single biggest waste of the largest amount money in the history of free agency.

Maybe Bauman hasn't heard of Mike Hampton, Albert Belle, Carl Pavano, or Nancy Drew. But his main points are very interesting. His numbers are staggering, and there's no way around that, as much as Bronx will want to tell you that his statistics suck (I am being sarcastic). But perhaps this guy is kind of decomposing some of the principles of sabermetrics, because you also can't argue against the fact that 1) he hasn't helped any of the teams he's joined and 2) he has helped all the teams he's left by leaving. We don't really know why. Maybe it is his terrible, terrible intangibles (a theory I find skeptical). Maybe because the several guys replacing him (let's call him Alex F. Rodriguez) are picking up the slack and producing more. It's not the case as much for Seattle, but Texas could take the A-Rod money and acquire several good players instead of spending all of it on this clown. Which is what the Yankees will do and what every MLB GM ought to do until he lowers his price. More on this in a second.

Bauman believes in the intangible thing: Players and teammates don't resent him because he makes a lot of money. They resent him because he makes so much more than everybody else, and if you're making that more, according to Bauman, you have to be "a combination of Babe Ruth, Mother Teresa, and Robin Williams:" The best in the game by far, the kindest, and funny. A-Rod is neither.

One more point for tonight: Let's talk about collusion. The MLBPA crying about owners colluding to keep A-Rod's salary down is beyond ridiculous. Teams are balking at his $350 million price tag because...well...his price is too high. Nobody's saying "let's all agree to pay him this much." Everyone's just saying "I'd rather spend that $350 million on something else." It's really not a hard.

Are the people of Nashua, NH colluding, smoking cigars around a round table in a dark room, and scheming a plan to screw the Nashua Pride? Doubtful. They just don't want to spend $7 on a ticket. Nobody does. That's why nobody goes to the games. Because they'd rather spend the $7 on a McDonald's double cheeseburger meal (super sized), nine Chill Zones, seven iTunes songs, or a DVD and a bag of popcorn from Blockbuster. During the week where Nashua lowered their ticket prices to $1, more people showed up. It wasn't because of collusion. It's because they could go to a game AND still get eight Chill Zones. Stop the collusion talk; it makes you lose even more credibility.

Assorted Sox Stuff

Well, it's official. C.C. Sabathia won the AL Cy Young, and probably deservedly so. It wasn't really even close when you looked at the actual voting numbers, and though both pitchers had a very strong case for winning the award, Sabathia's might have been a little bit stronger.

The Boston Herald pointed out that Sabathia pitched four more games than Beckett did, as Beckett had to go on the DL with a "finger avulsion" (not a blister).

Two months ago, Pat wrote about how Beckett was pitching in a matchup for the AL Cy Young Award. His competition: Chien-Ming Wang. Wang got shelled in that game, but since Pat's post, he went 1-1 with an ERA of 3.86 with an uncharacteristic 13 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. Wang got zero Cy Young votes. Lackey, Carmona, Eric Bedard, Halladay, Santana, and Verlander all got at least one third-place vote. Wang did not, even from the NY writers who decided to leave Pedro off the ballot in 1999. Maybe after watching his playoff performance, it's justified. But these votes were in before Wang did his best A-Rod impression in October. Interesting stuff.

Other stuff I've been waiting for a time like this (when my work projects are all waiting on someone else) to talk about would include how the Red Sox should move their trading chips. The three obvious choices would be 1) a catcher of the future, 2) a #2 starter for Schilling/Matsuzaka insurance, and 3) a third baseman like Chipper Jones or Scott Rolen that can occupy a roster spot for a relatively short time period.

1. A catcher. People are talking about Gerald Laird and Jarrod Saltalamacchia of the Rangers. Laird would not make any sense. He is 27; Saltalamacchia is four days younger than me (22). Texas is a place where Coco Crisp could play center field and a place where Julian Tavarez can start. Those two guys would get Laird from the Rangers straight up. Add in a higher-level prospect, like Michael Bowden, Justin Masterson, or even Daniel Bard and the Red Sox could land Saltalamacchia. At 23, he could be Boston's backup catcher and it wouldn't be a problem (while Laird might be overqualified for a backup catcher position). At 24, he could be the Red Sox' starting catcher, as Captain Intangible's contract runs out. You know, because not all 35+ catchers had seasons like Posada and will somewhat deserve a four-year contract.

2. A #2 starter. I threw out Joe Blanton's name about a week and a half ago. Pat's a huge fan of Dan Haren. Oakland's going to be shopping their guys again. But they're probably not a perfect fit for Boston's trading chips. Maybe Tavarez and one of those higher-level prospects could land a guy like Blanton, but certainly not Haren. But then the Red Sox still don't have a place to shop Coco Crisp around. We could start talking about three-way trades, but we could fall into the Ted Nation Circa 1999 Stupid Trade Zone (maybe two people will get that reference). A #2 starter, especially as insurance in case Matsuzaka doesn't get any better and Schilling gets hurt and the young guys struggle, would be a nice luxury but is not as pressing as a catcher or third baseman. And as my boy Jared said last night, there's something fishy going on with these Oakland starters. The first Big Three kinda crapped out. So did Harden.

3. A third baseman for a short amount of time. Chipper Jones, 35, is signed through 2009 and is only making $12 million--perhaps a more appetizing option than Mike Lowell would be for four years. Scott Rolen is 13 months younger than Lowell and is making 11.3 million per year until 2010. I still contend that Lowell will put up better numbers than either of these guys, but only as a member of the Red Sox. So hopefully this will not be an issue.

Still lots to say about the six-man rotation business and probably another post about two more blood-boiling A-Rod articles I've read, but I have to pace myself.

The Lowell Market

How much of a market is there for Mike Lowell? Honestly? Well...the Red Sox don't think there's going to be much of a market for the guy. The guy they placed as their top priority for this offseason has not signed yet, and it's past the midnight deadline. He's on the open market now.

I am right on the fence (just like Pat's boy John Kerry again) on whether this is a good strategic move. Honestly, I don't really know how much of a market there is going to be for Mike Lowell. Here's why:

1. Pat wrote about this earlier, I believe. But look at his home-road splits. Batting average: .373 at home, .276 on the road. Twice as many home runs at home. Fewer doubles on the road, but 27 more singles. I think you can probably credit that to the wall-ball singles he hits at least once a game at Fenway. On the road, he's a .276/14/94 dude projected across a season. And seeing that he is on the wrong side of thirty, it might become .270/12/(RBIs depend on the rest of the lineup). All-in-all, Lowell's OPS is 200 points higher at home than on the road. That is an overwhelming disparity, and it's testament to the fact that he is by far more valuable and will contribute to more wins specifically if he is on the roster of the Boston Red Sox.

Theo Epstein, in the speech that a Bill Simmons reader said was tantamount to saying that "Every girl is a little bit crazy," once said that Nancy Drew's swing was tailor-made for Fenway Park. His 3 wall-balls in the first 4.5 months of the season proved that wasn't even close to true...you know, if the spray charts from the rest of his career weren't enough to prove that. Forty-six and a half months to go. I digress. The difference between Nancy and Lowell is that Lowell's swing actually is tailor-made for Fenway Park.

2. That .270/12/RBI total figure is not very good, but there's also that elephant sitting in the corner of the room for Mike Lowell. I'm not talking about drugs because he's trashed drug users often enough that I think he's clean. The elephant would be 2005. I was livid at the Hanley Ramirez trade because Lowell KILLED my 2005 fantasy team with his putrid .236 batting average and .658 OPS (OPS+ of 77). Eight home runs. Fifty-eight RBIs. Woof. I was pissed off that Lowell was going to kill the Sox in a similar way, Beckett was going to give up 36 home runs in a season, Hanley Ramirez was going to become a 40-HR hitter, and Anibal Sanchez was going to throw a no-hitter.

Three of those things happened, and Lowell sucking was the one thing that didn't happen. But he was not injured in 2005. And (maybe I'm naive, but) he didn't do the Ivan Rodriguez "I slimmed up so I could be more nimble behind the plate" thing in 2005. He was just bad. Really bad. And if I were a GM, especially looking at his non-Fenway stats, that would throw up a red flag. A four-year deal? What are the chances that one of those four years turns into 2005? He's had two great seasons; is he due for a 2005? The chances of that are not zero. And if I were a GM for any of the other 29 teams in baseball, I wouldn't commit $48-60 million to a guy with that kind of risk, especially until he's 36.

If I were Theo Epstein, though?

Fenway Park mitigates that risk significantly. That's why he's worth four years and $48 million from the Sox. Maybe even $52, but that's pushing it. I think I read on SI Truth and Rumors or Rotoworld that scouts are still confident about the guy, saying he hasn't lost a step at all. But I'd say the numbers don't lie. Hometown discounts aside, I don't think other teams are going to bid too too high for Mike Lowell starting this morning.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Done Deal for Jorge

4 years/$52.4 million. Great job by Cashman and his team getting it done before he officially hit the market at midnight and the price went up big. $13.1 million per year is an incredible bargain for a player who ranked 8th in the MAJORS in offensive VORP, the most complete evaluation of performance. Only A-Bag, Hanley, Magglio, Papi, DWright, Chipper, and Holliday had better offensive years, in that order. Oh yeah, and he catches. He undoubtedly could have gotten that length, and maybe even another year, at $15 mil per from some team, most notably the Mets.

This is something the Yankees had to do, and it makes a lot of sense for them. If anything, it's scary the type of hitter Posada could be if he wasn't catching 144 games like he did in 2007. It isn't likely that he will be able to catch and be this productive at the end of this contract, but if he is DHing and playing first, he could certainly continue to be a force with the stick for the next four years.

Most importantly, Posada is a leader and a rock on this team. Losing him would have made things very dicey. Instead this off-season gets started on the player side with the stability it needs, and should make it easier for things to fall into place with Rivera and hopefully Pettitte.

Interesting side note that involves both teams on this blog. Hanley Ramirez was the second most productive offensive player in the game, actually having a season that is much closer to A-Rod's level than you might think (96.6 vs. 89.5 VORP). However, the Red Sox would have had no chance to win the World Series if they had Hanley and not Beckett, even though the offense would have been incredible (much like the Yankees this year). The value of Beckett vs. Hanley isn't even close, and the same could be said for A-Rod.

What's the point? Pitching, pitching, pitching. Great individual offensive performance matters zilch if you don't have a lot of pitching and a big ace. The Yankees don't need A-Rod to win. He's worth $350 million? If you want to make a move that makes absolutely no sense in any capacity, not even including his off-the field issues. Look at how good the Marlins were with Hanley AND Miggy Cabrera, who was 10th in VORP (only team besides the Yankees to have two top 10s). I'm not even saying this because I don't like the guy. The Yankees just don't need him. Would he help? Sure. Anybody with those kind of numbers makes you better. But nobody absolutely needs a player just because he is that good, especially when he is that expensive and doesn't hit in October. Offense just isn't $300 million kind of important. If he wasn't a mutant off the field and in the postseason, and had realistic goals for what he wanted to be paid at age 32, of course I'd want him. But NOBODY needs a singular offensive player that desperately.

What teams need is pitching (assuming they have enough offense, which the Yankees certainly will). If I'm going to throw $300 mil at somebody, it better be a pitcher. What the Yankees need is Danny Haren.

A Lot to Talk About

Almost a month since the Yankees' tough end to the season, and I think I am flirting with getting over it. Not totally over it. But close. This time of the baseball year, with trade rumors and free agent talk abound, is also a favorite of mine, which helps. Couple that with the way the Giants and Knicks played yesterday, and I'm ready to talk a lot of baseball again.

A few things I want to touch on. DV style list? Why not.

1. Brian Cashman is probably the most popular man in baseball right now. Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and IPK will do that to you. That, and the Yankees have a need for either a frontline bat or starting pitcher, so teams are undoubtedly calling left and right to try and pry one of these three away. Bigtime names are getting thrown out there too. Johan Santana, Danny Haren, Miggy Cabrera, and Miggy Tejada have become among the most prominent. Personally, I want the pitcher. But a part of me is rooting for Cabrera or Tejada, simply because Miggy is by far and away my favorite nickname in sports, and with no more Cairo I need another Miguel. A little bit about the pitchers being mentioned.

2. Johan Santana. Do I want him? Obviously. But the Twins want the package centered around Cano, which would be a massive dilemma for the Yankees. Personally, I can't make that trade. The Yankees had a lot of excess offense last year, and have for the last 5-6 years at least. That is why losing A-Rod, if you add a pitcher, isn't that big of a deal. Adding a pitcher while losing A-Rod AND Cano, however, is a big deal, and the numbers are there to back it up. Cano is already one of the best infield bats in baseball, and with a little more power (8-10 homeruns and the ensuing 15-20 RBI), has an opportunity to become one of the best in the game. And I'm not blowing smoke when I say that is well within his reach. Santana was worth more than Cano last year, obviously. But A) Who knows what Cano does next year (look at his numbers after June 1 this year) and B) As good as Santana is, he can't make up for A-Rod and Cano. They would have to make ANOTHER move, and I don't like that. The Yankees' strength in terms of trading chips is pitching, and Minnesota has a lot of that as well. They want position players of Cano's caliber. This probably isn't a fit.

3. Danny Haren. Love the guy. Workhorse. Great stuff and knows how to get guys out. His smooth delivery that generates that quality stuff would be a pleasure to watch every fifth day. The issue here is that Billy Beane isn't going to settle for a package short of exactly what he wants. And he's going to want a lot. The good news is he won't want Cano because he is so close to getting paid. The bad news is that he will want front line pitching. However, the REALLY good news is that he, probably more than any GM in baseball, would be willing to take a large package (5-6 prospects) of 1A type prospects that make it an A+ deal in his opinion. He evaluates prospects as well as any GM in baseball, and probably has eyes for guys like Alan Horne. Other GMs look at Horne and all they can think is he isn't Joba, Philly, or IPK. Beane looks at him, sees a groundball machine in a big ballpark, and will take him and 4 others like him. Losing 5-6 prospects would hurt, but to get a guy like Haren, it is going to have to hurt in one way or another. The way the Yankees are drafting, I'd much rather give up 6 prospects to get Haren than include one of the Big Three. 27 isn't old, but it's a lot older than 21, 21, and 22, and a lot more mileage on the arm. This is now my target move of the off-season. Haren, Wang, Chamberlain, Hughes, and Kennedy looks really, really good to me.

4. My favorite Red Sox won the ALROY. Good for him. Add another trophy to the collection that is taller than he is. I hope someone asks him which award he is more honored to win, Rookie of the Year or ALARFFSOTY (American League Alex Rodriguez Feminine Fairy Slap of the Year), of which he is only the second winner since baseball's inception. A good follow up question would be who he thinks has the most estrogen in the history of baseball, A-Rod or himself (They are definitely 1-2, and I don't care who wins. The excitement that they are the only two on the list is more than enough to satisfy me.). I'm on the edge of my seat awaiting answers on this.

5. The most intriguing award being handed out this year is AL Cy Young. At the end of the season when votes were due, it was close, but a lot of people seemed to be publicly leaning towards Sabathia, and perhaps rightfully so. So he may win it, even though after the playoffs it is obvious who deserves it.

6. It is too bad there can't be some type of postseason consideration for these awards. That way A-Rod would never win anything, and it might sink in that there is only one award that matters. It's called the World Series. Not my problem anymore! Now maybe the Yankees can start winning them again.

7. St. John's University Men's Basketball gets the season underway on Wednesday. They lost a lot to graduation, which is unfortunate because they took such a huge step forward last year. However, they brought in the best recruiting class in almost a decade. They may take a small step back this year because of growing pains, and I'm prepared for that because it is best for the program long term. But they may just take a small step forward with all of this quality youth. 8-8 in what looks to be the weakest Big East ever would have me jumping for joy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sometimes I Forget...

How much I hate some of those guys who wear the uniform Pat and friends love so much. After a busy weekend, I have so much to say, but here are the most connected minor things that I figure have to be addressed. The other stuff can be addressed later this week.

1. Johnny Damon is a lunatic. I wish I read the New York Post more so I can get more gems like the following. This is Johnny Damon talking about why Johnny Damon's not getting traded.

"They realize how important I am to the team."

Why don't you just say you're the straw that stirs the drink, to throw out that reference that's been discussed so often on this blog? Damon must have forgotten that a baseball season is six months long, not two. This is a guy who warmed the bench, and deservedly so, for a while after going a buck seventy five for a month. Maybe he is important to the team: He was an instrumental part of the reason the Yankees were so piss-poor during the first half of the season. Dear Yankees fans: Hope you're happy he's not getting traded. You're going to have to deal with this scumbag for another two years. He's A-Rod with a little more tact and a lot less talent.

2. Speaking of A-Rod, I really don't like what I'm seeing from the Boston media here since the end of the season. First, we saw the large outpouring of support of the "Sign Mike Lowell" movement. Now that a deal seems to be farther and farther away for Lowell, it seems like the media is training Red Sox fans to embrace Earthquake-Rod. Tony Massarotti is the latest to jump on the "A-ORD IS A GRATE THIRD BASEMANN NO REALLY HE REALLY IS WORTH EVERY PENNY LIKE JD DREW LOL" bandwagon. Eric Wilbur briefly mentioned how it made sense. Steve Buckley, as I've written earlier, asked if having him in Boston was really that bad.
Danny Picard, a favorite of Damon Dogs, wants A-Rod. The most disgusting thing is that according to the Herald poll accessible from the Massarotti article, half of Red Sox fans are "in favor" of signing Rodriguez if Lowell doesn't accept this offer.

You already know how I feel. It's the same as how Pat feels. This guy sucks and is a disgrace to baseball. Earlier this year, I said I was rooting for Barry Bonds to hit as many home runs as possible so that it would become more unlikely that A-Rod breaks the home run record. Now that he's not on the Yankees, guess what? I still feel that way.

Oh, and if you really wanted to play in Boston, like you said you did to your friends, maybe you shouldn't have 1) acted like a jerk for the last eight years or 2) asked for an embarrassing sum of $350 million. Alas, A-Rod did both.

3. Moving from a guy I hate to a guy we both hate to a guy only Pat hates, Dustin "Albert Pujols" Pedroia will find out today whether he wins the AL Rookie of the Year Award. This will come on the heels of news released on Friday that he played September and October with a broken hamate bone. He had surgery Tuesday. Nothing but fake hustle. I know Pat will hate me for it, but if you're a Sox fan, how could this guy not be your favorite player?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Have a New Toy

As I continue to look into projection systems, both team and player (and be blown away by how much smarter some baseball fans are than me), I have found a new toy for us. Blogger SG over at RLYW has developed his own projection system, called CAIRO, which is based on a lot of the prominent systems, with his own tweaks. He has also set it up so that we can plug in any player in the majors name and see their projections for 2008. It involves some downloading, which I can't do right now because I'm at Colby for Alumni Basketball Weekend. So I'll have to wait to really get into my new toy.

However, he has posted all of the Yankees projections for 2008, and since Bronx asked about The Big Three, I wanted to post them quickly.

IPK: 11-9, 4.19 ERA, 143 K, 72 BB, 181 IP
Joba: 10-7, 3.68 ERA, 150 K, 48 BB, 149 IP
Philly: 11-6, 3.73, 124 K, 50 BB, 157 IP

There you have it. Keep in mind that these numbers are based on their 50% projections. The way most of these systems work is that they develop 20%, 35%, 50%, 65%, 80%, and 100% projections, with the numbers getting better as you go up. Since these projections are designed to figure out win totals/win shares etc. for the team, they use all of the players 50% projections as "the" projections. This is set up to account for players over and under performing their projections, which is obviously going to happen in almost every instance, at least a little bit.

For reference, Chien-Ming Wang, who has won 19 games the last two years, has a 50% projection of 13-9, 3.93, 95 SO, 56 BB, 202 IP. As we saw when I posted Posada's projections, as well as in this instance, 50% is modest (again, because of the team aspect of these projections). So, at least in the projection systems, you can see that The Big Three are highly thought of for 2008 if those are their 50%, which is going to be a big help for the Yankees, especially if they can exceed those IP total projections.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Yankees/Red Sox Off-Season Plans

DV and I had a long conversation on the phone about these two topics yesterday. For the Red Sox, it's simple. Schilling is already resigned. Resign Mike Lowell. Gauge the market for Coco Crisp. See if you want to trade him strait up for the best power bullpen arm you can get or if you want to package him for someone's best catching prospect. Personally, with the emergence of Manny Delcarmen and the decline of Jason Varitek, I'd go with the ladder. Other than that, Boston needs not do anything more than minor tweaking to the bullpen or bench where they need to or can.

For the Yankees it is a little bit more exciting. Actually, it's a lot more exciting, and that is neither a good nor bad thing. They have needs, and the free agent market is weak. However, they have developed a crop of young Major League talent as well as a farm system that gives them a plethora of options in terms of where they go via the trade.

Because the Yankees will accomplish most of what they need to do through trades, it is impossible to predict what will happen. They could trade for a third baseman, a shortstop, a second baseman, a first baseman, a starting pitcher, a bullpen pitcher, or any combination of the above. I don't see them making more than one big trade, but it is possible they could make two. They may not even make a big trade, making a series of smaller ones. Who knows. But, as I wrote last week, while they aren't far away from being playoff competitive, they do need some sort of upgrade to get themselves back in the mid-90s in win projection.

(Note: All of this is of course assuming that they need to bring Rivera, Posada, and Pettitte back.)

So instead of trying to guess what will happen, let's assume the Yankees will make at least one trade. With that assumption, let's break down who is and who is not untouchable in my eyes, with varying degrees of untouchability of course.

ABSOLUTELY AND TOTALLY UNTOUCHABLE DON'T EVEN INQUIRE ABOUT THEM:
Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Jose Tabata, Jesus Montero.

PRETTY FRIGGIN' UNTOUCHABLE, I BETTER BE GETTING SOMETHING BIG BACK TO MOVE THEM:
Chien-Ming Wang, Melky Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, Ian Kennedy, Marc Melancon, Dellin Betances, Humberto Sanchez.

GUYS I DON'T WANT TO MOVE, BUT WILL NEED TO INCLUDE IN A PACKAGE TO GET SOMETHING THAT BENEFITS THE TEAM:
Johnny Damon, Alan Horne, Jeff Marquez, Austin Jackson, Brett Gardner, Kevin Whelan, Ross Ohlendorf, J.B. Cox, Zach McAllister, Juan Miranda, Tim Norton, Christian Garcia, Fransisco Cervelli, Marcos Vechionacci.

READILY TOUCHABLE:
Hideki Matsui, Shelley Duncan, Andy Phillips, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner, Matt DeSalvo, Tyler Clippard, Steve White, TJ Beam, Eric Duncan, Alberto Gonzalez, Stephen Jackson, George Kontos.

I didn't include any 2007 draftees in that list because 1) I don't know that much about them yet 2) guys who haven't had much pro experience are rarely included in trades and 3) I'm somewhat against trading guys before you get them to one spring training (minor or major) and let the entire baseball operations and coaching staff see what they have for themselves.

Also, Giambi is an obvious omission from the list. 1) You couldn't give him away at that money. 2) Having his bat around can only help.

That is a lot of names to work with. 40 to be exact, 34 if you take away the six untouchables. I know it may sound ridiculous to the people who don't know these names, but the Alan Horne, Jeff Marquez, Zach McAllister, Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Kevin Whelan, Ross Ohlendorf group can really get you something. They are all bigtime names in the baseball world, and the fact that I can put them in my third group speaks to the level that the Yankees' Farm System is at (it will be unthinkable if it isn't ranked in the top 5 in baseball when the new list comes out in January, and should probably be top 3). If you don't see them in a trade, you will see them wearing pinstripes soon. The group above them I believe could ultimately get the Yankees almost anything they wanted.

It isn't a bad place to be. They could put a pretty quick and easy package together, perhaps without giving up anyone in the first two groups, to get Miguel Tejada. I'm not saying I want him or that he's a good fit either, just a hypothetical. And let's say, for argument's sake, it's Horne, Jackson, and McAllister to get him. That doesn't decimate the system, not even close, and the Yankees lineup looks like this:
1. Johnny Damon
2. Derek Jeter
3. Bobby Abreu
4. Miguel Tejada
5. Robinson Cano
6. Jorge Posada
7. Hideki Matsui
8. Andy Phillips
9. Melky Cabrera

That lineup sucks without A-Rod!!!!!!!

The point is, the Yankees have a lot to work with. It will be interesting to see what happens, and they can go a lot of ways to pretty quickly and easily upgrade their team. Just very important to stay away from Jeter and Cano (obviously), as well as Joba, Hughes, Tabata, and Montero. After that, just be aggressive and smart.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Last Night of the Boras Dynasty

In the last decade or so, maybe since the days of Jerry Maguire, sports agents have become more and more prominent. I really don't want to think that back in the 1980s I could name as many agents as I can now: Scott Boras, Arn Tellem, two sets of brothers, Gregg Clifton, Jeff Moorad. Some of these names have become larger than life, as Boras is now labeled as a "super agent" and his clientele has, in a way, been diversified from the rest of both free agents and amateur draftees. Players change teams, but it seems like you stay with an agent for longer than you stay with a team. You know certain guys are Boras guys: A-Rod, Andruw Jones, Johnny F. Damon, Craig Hanson, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Captain Intangible, Greg Maddux, Eric Gagne. Nancy Drew.

As I told Pat today on the phone, I have a feeling this is going to end soon. A-Rod's 2007 offseason is going to be Scott Boras's Waterloo. Posting the figure of $350 million at the beginning of the negotiations was a move a little bit too bold--even for this guy. It's going to be hard to get anyone to take up that offer.

I would guess that the A-Rod negotiations are not going to go away--for a long time. Because Boras will play the role of "hard-ass" and try to really get teams to bid $350 million. Owners know better. They know how much of a financial hardship $250 million was to a team. That kind of investment exhausts your budget to the point that A-Rod is not going to have any good players around him. One hitter and eight automatic outs, plus no pitching means you're not going to win ballgames.

The Dodgers can't afford that. The Angels can't afford that. The Giants can't afford that. The Cubs, in their current state of "who's buying the team" can't afford that. Not even the Mets can afford that. The only two teams who can afford that would be the Red Sox and the Yankees.

The Red Sox are on the verge of signing Mike Lowell, a move that, by the way, given his stats away from Fenway Park, doesn't make sense for any other team to do. I'll write more about this when the deal is done. The Yankees are not interested in employing this guy. And nobody else will pay him. The answer is no.

But Boras won't take no for an answer. He is a stiff negotiator (that is an Enzyte commercial reference) and a predatory negotiator. He will use the media against you. He will use fabricated competitors against you. He will use ultimatums against you. And he won't rest until he gets that $350 million price tag.

I would not be surprised if these negotiations last all the way into the new year and beyond. Honestly, I'm thinking it will be 50/50 whether Alex Rodriguez has a team to play for by the time spring training starts. While other teams are having pitchers and catchers report, A-Rod's going to be doing those stairs at 6:30 in the morning again. And you saw this kind of thing until the 23rd hour in the Matsuzaka negotiations. The Red Sox had already paid the $51.1 million posting fee, and didn't want to give the guy $15 million a year. Boras insisted on it, and threatened to take Matsuzaka back to Japan. As the Red Sox said "let him go, we'll take our $150 and invest it elsewhere," Matsuzaka probably told Boras there's no way he's going to waste another year of his prime in Japan. Instead of the other way around, the Red Sox finally had this guy by the balls.*

When February and even March start coming around, A-Rod and Boras will cave, because nobody will bite at the $350 million offer. Owners are already pissed off enough at Boras's and A-Rod's antics at the World Series, and I think the whole thing has reached a boiling point. There will likely be a form of tacit collusion between the owners. The arduousness of the negotiations will get on owners' nerves, as well as the constant media circus. The stuff that A-Rod has already done to alienate the rest of baseball (and by the "rest of baseball," I mean everyone in baseball except for Alex Rodriguez) will get on owners' nerves, and they will ask if they really want this jerk on their team.

There really are few things being written--anywhere--in support of this guy. Bronx is almost on his own here.

Eventually, A-Rod will cave and Boras will cave. Unlike his draft-day clients,** A-Rod's not going to cry and play a year in the independent leagues (although the Nashua Pride need a new shortstop after Olmo Rosario got picked up). The amount of alienation and the aforementioned implicit costs, in my opinion, will probably deflate A-Rod's salary to somewhere between $22-28 million a year. Unless the union cries foul about this (and what can they really do?), I think it will be the beginning of a serious free agent market correction. Every free agent's value will drop in the coming year, and Joel Piniero's not going to be able to get $7 million a year anymore.

That was a very long hypothetical, but I really think this scenario is the way this offseason is going to play out. It will be the last night of the Boras dynasty, which has already taken a hit when he got owned last year by the Red Sox.* And as much as I'm sick of talking about this scumbag, if he signs for less than 10/$30, it will be a significant point in the history of the economics of baseball.

*I say the Red Sox "owned" Boras after Matsuzaka signed for less than $9 million a year over six years. But conspiracy theorists, including myself, point to that fact that the Red Sox also signed Nancy Drew, a Boras client, for $70 million, in what could be a closely-related move.

**Nancy Drew and Captain Intangible both spat in the face of the teams that drafted them, refusing to sign with them after being drafted. They both played a year with the independent St. Paul Saints, got re-drafted, and were offered signing bonuses that tickled their fancies more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Taking Hacks at Hacks

Today was a great day to be a Red Sox fan, but, as usual, people got stuff totally wrong. So it's time to throw people under the bus for being hacks.

Matt Williams is a hack. It's safe to guess that he was a user for much more than his connection to Signature Pharmacy and friends. The 44 home runs in the strike-shortened season? Being on pace to almost double his previous season high in home runs in 1994, the dawn of the steroid era? Way to go for the three guys busted today, getting their HGH prescriptions from a dentist. Valdes is a fraud, and the hate directed at Brendan Donnelly from Jose Guillen can now be classified as roid rage.

Dan Shaughnessy is a hack. He clearly had nothing good to write about tonight, so he decided to write an article about Schilling and taking less money to stay with the Red Sox. He gave no props to Schilling for doing what he did regarding his weight and the (if nothing else) symbolic gesture that what he did last offseason with his "extracurricular" stuff was unacceptable. Instead, he basically wrote the entire article about 1) Schilling's big mouth and 2) himself. From the article:

"While I suck on a lemon, I've got to admit I'm happy about this development. Let's face it: Love him or hate him, things are a lot more interesting and fun with the Big Blowhard around."
"In the afterglow of the World Series, while Schill was writing goodbye notes to his teammates and friends (mine must have gotten lost in the mail), the Sox sent him a lowball offer."
"The Sox win. Schilling wins. And those of us who get to write and talk about it...we win, too."

I understand that it's a column, but it's not all about the first person. Though I'm well aware that I oftentimes talk about my first-person experiences here, I'm not a well-respected, moneymaking journalist. Factor in his constant shots about Schilling (which are also okay, because every journalist has the right to hate on their favorite targets), and the entire column is about "hey, look at me, I'm Dan Shaughnessy...I have ragged on Schilling nonstop" instead of "Schilling has a big mouth, but he made a honorable move today."

Coaches and managers who voted for the Gold Glove* are also absolute hacks. The fact that Coco Crisp didn't win a Gold Glove is an absolute travesty. For a while, I've questioned the validity of the Gold Glove award. The fact that Alex Gonzalez didn't win in 2006 first raised this topic of discussion for me, before Pat raised the point that Gonzalez only played 111 games in 2006. Still, there are better options than Jeter, with his questionable sabermetric range.

Former Gold Glove winner Doug Mientkiewicz won the award during his best offensive season. Since, he has questioned the validity of the award, and has before said that players can win the Gold Glove with their bats--meaning the best fielders oftentimes don't win the award. Jeter in 2006 is a prime example of that. Anybody beating out Coco Crisp this year is another prime example, and the fact that he lost to this guy who has been heralded as one of the best, most well-rounded players in the game today doesn't seem to be much of a coincidence. Sizemore committed twice as many errors as Crisp this year in fewer chances. His range factor was significantly lower than Crisp's. And the "flashiness" of his spectacular plays were inferior to Crisp's. The only thing he had an advantage over Crisp this year was offense. And you shouldn't win Gold Gloves by your offense.

Whoever voted for these Gold Gloves should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

*Thanks to Bronx for pointing out that sportswriters didn't vote for the GG--it is coaches and managers around the league.

Huge Props to Schilling, Sox

I expressed last night in my most recent post that incentive-laden contracts have inherent risks because of the "David Wells effect." But now that the incentives in the Schilling contract have been revealed...and $2 million has to do chiefly with not being overweight in the spring, I can't applaud both parties more. Good for the Red Sox for not lowballing him in the first place in the same way they did (and rightfully so) with guys like Damon. But mostly good for Schilling.

Schilling's the one who put the weight incentive in there. He admitted earlier in the season that his midseason injury had a lot to do with the fact that he was out of shape at the beginning of the season--because he prioritized too many things (38 Studios, 38pitches.com, etc.) over getting in shape for a $13 million baseball season. That display was disappointing, and good for him for admitting that. Good for him for writing that clause into the contract, adding incentive for himself to not quit his day job and basically admitting that his behavior last winter was inexcusable. It showed class, maturity, and everything else Alex Rodriguez doesn't have.

Even if all the incentives do kick in, the Red Sox only have to pay $13 million for a pretty friggin good pitcher--and a pitcher who, more likely than last year, will stay reasonably healthy all season. That's a bargain in this market--after all, Joel Piniero is getting paid $7 million next year.

Another "perfect marriage" between these two parties. I don't really like to blog from work (it's only one step better than Facebooking from work), but I'm so happy I had to break the rules.

Monday, November 5, 2007

You Had Me At "Immortality"

Latest news out of Boston is that the Boston Red Sox are close to re-upping with Curt Schilling, offering him what is likely a one-year deal. According to Rob Bradford of the Herald, the deal is a one-year kind of thing, laden with incentives.

This news kind of nullifies the post that I was originally going to write tonight. I was going to write about how interesting was going to be to monitor Schilling's free agent activity through his blog, 38pitches.com. I was even going to add it to the HYD "Favorite Sources" box tonight. I mean this. But just to prove that I had something going for this, I still want to say that never before have the fans been able to see inside the wheelings and dealings of a free agent, especially one with a profile as high as Schilling's. Sure, it would be spun a little bit, because it's written from Schilling's perspective as a self-represented player, but at least you'd know where the media leaks were coming from.

Schilling's blog didn't get him into as much trouble as I thought it would have gotten him into this year--maybe a thing here or there, but not much. The biggest controversy was the fact that he was blogging and making video games instead of working out last winter.

But this offseason, Schilling already posted several items about free agency, and it seems like he was going to give a lot of frank, honest updates on what he was doing, how he was negotiating, and how close he was going to be to a deal. He named the teams he wanted to play for. He wrote about which media members in other cities he was talking to. And, unlike anything we've ever seen before, he used the first-person media as (sort of) a bargaining chip. Ethical? That's for someone else to argue. But it was very interesting and it was going to make for at least one aspect of this offseason to be interesting in a whole new level.

Maybe he used this first-person media as a bargaining chip for the Red Sox. He made a very heartfelt post (there is no sarcasm here) Friday, and posted the entire text of the letter the Red Sox sent him the morning of the legendary Thanksgiving dinner at Schilling's house in 2003. (Note: There are some typos, and I'm thinking that's because of Schilling, not Theo.) But as much of a jerk as the guy sometimes is, he really seemed sincere about this one, and maybe re-typing it lowered his price a little bit. This following passage I thought may have convinced both sides that Schilling-Red Sox was indeed a "perfect marriage."

Imagine how different Red Sox history might have been had you not been included in that fateful deadline deal with the Orioles in 1998. Even three years after the trade, when you were with Houston, our scouts were convinced they were right: “Still a thrower. Has arm strength but hasn’t learned a thing.” Now, 15 tears later, after 163 wins, a 3.33 lifetime ERA, two 20-win seasons, five All-Star Games, a World Championship, and a World Series MVP award, we have a chance to rewrite history. At 37 tears old, with a great resume and an even greater reputation, it’s clear to us that the next step in your career is baseball immortality.

It was really interesting the way the plot thickened here, and it would have been more interesting if the free agent negotiations continued into the winter. But between this letter and the extremely kind things Schilling said about Boston fans (and admitting that he was either wrong or sucked at pitching often), I think the pitcher used the media as a mouthpiece not to run himself out of town, but instead to prove that he was willing to lower his price to return to Boston.

Good for him.

I think this move is right for the Red Sox. As Bronx just posted on the last xomment section, Andy Pettitte declined his player option with the Yankees. Without Schilling, the Sox' rotation would be in a similar position: Beckett, Matsuzaka, Buchholz, Lester, and Wakefield. Beyond Beckett, it's a joke to say that the rest of the guys are anything short of question marks.

Not to say that Schilling isn't a question mark, especially if he pulls this nonsense about his video game or blogging ventures instead of keeping himself from getting fat and out of shape again--which led to the fact that got hurt and only won nine games this year. But as a veteran, I think he actually will help John Farrell teach these young guys how to pitch instead of being "throwers" who "haven't learned a thing." Even if he's terrible on the mound, it doesn't hurt to have a second pitching coach for the other four guys in the rotation, especially considering their general lack of experience at the Major League level.

Plus, as I said all postseason, I actually had a lot of faith in the guy as far as putting together good outings go. If he remains healthy (once again, contingent on his off-season priorities), he's still a solid baseball player. And with the Hall of Fame possibly on the line, I think he'll have added incentive to stay in shape.

Speaking of incentives, the only thing that irks me about this deal is the fact that it's incentive-laden. Contracts like this are bittersweet, with the bitter part being most notable when you're talking about veteran pitchers. These guys will say they can pitch when they actually can't. David Wells in 2005 is a perfect example: He was injured, but one or two million dollars kicked in if he hit 30 starts. So he pitched hurt and got lit up. Schilling has the veteran status so he can also say he can pitch while hurt, and he'd get more leeway than a guy like Buchholz. If an injured or a 275-pound Schilling is getting lit up out there just so he can make those incentives kick in, I'd be livid. But all in all (and once again, I'm shocked that I'm saying this), I'm happy that he's back another year.

We'll see what happens.