Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Abe Tells It Like It Is, Spars With Schilling

It is a good thing that Curt Schilling is not the general manager of the Boston Red Sox. Probably for many reasons. He's loud, emotional, outspoken, and would probably hold a bigger multimedia tour to show off how right he is than the ones Barack Obama and Theo Epstein did in the year 2009. Back on 38pitches.com, and now unaffiliated with WEEI (he is justifiably protesting the layoff of Pete Sheppard), Schilling wrote a post explaining why the Red Sox should sign Josh Beckett "today."

There's been a lot of talk this winter about Beckett's impending free agency next year, and they say the barometer would be the deals that John Lackey, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander landed in the past two months. All there is to say about that is, yikes. For a guy who can rarely stay either healthy or effective for a complete season? For a guy who surrendered thirty-six (36) home runs in 2006 and an additional twenty-five (25) last year? Look, Beckett certainly has his days when he looks like the best pitcher you've ever seen. But he falls short of the consistency that Lackey has enjoyed, falls short of the durability/firepower combination that Verlander enjoys, and falls short of the upside that both Verlander and Hernandez have. Beckett's turning 30 this spring, so it's unlikely we're going to see Beckett find himself and drop five straight years of 2007.

Not to say the Red Sox shouldn't sign him at all. I wouldn't even be angry if he were signed to a Lackey-type deal ten months from now. He would address a need in an aggressive, satisfactory way. And that would be because he is largely an effective, reliable pitcher who shows up in big spots most of the time. No, Schilling, it's not because he's a workout hero, because he works hard, and because he cares. Matsuzaka works hard, too--that doesn't mean he is worth $80 million. But enjoying Beckett in a contract year, when he has a little added incentive, is a good thing. Plus, one more year of data can paint a fuller picture of what a long-term agreement with Josh Beckett is worth. It's like when it's free to check in a game of poker and you're not necessarily confident with your hand. Take a look at the extra card. It could save you money or it could give you more of an idea of whether you should cut bait and run.

The other half of this story has 100% to do with Peter Abraham, the Boston Globe's newest addition. Abraham's career has been of interest to both Pat and me for a long time, especially as he is a Massachusetts native who will have played on both sides of the Boston-NY media baseball game. He's one of the first beat writers to really leverage blogging as a valuable tool to break news, and he's done it in a way that's head and shoulders better than the rest of the field. He seems to keep the 24-hour workday intact, and he'a slao very clever and unafraid to present a controversial opinion instead of chugging the Kool-Aid like way too many writers in this city.

Sometimes Abraham, in his time in Jersey, had gone beyond controversial, posting an occasional comment that borders on condescending and inflammatory. He openly questioned executives' moves, poked fun at other bloggers, ragged on opposing players, and even picked on Yankee players. This flies in New York for the most part, and when he switched to a Boston environment that is more full of fanboys than NY, both Pat and I wondered in this space whether his hard work and writing quality would be received well here.

Well, yesterday was the first test. In a blog post very similar to many of the other half-sarcastic posts he wrote in New York (and many of the ones he has written in Boston, too), he broke the story of Curt Schilling's opinion on Beckett. He reported that Schilling believes the Red Sox should sign Beckett because he works hard. There's a sarcasm toward it, as Pete Abe suggested the Red Sox should evaluate other factors than the one factor Schilling devoted seven paragraphs towards.

Well, Schilling was pissed off enough about this criticism of his literary work that he decided to edit the post and call out "expert" Pete Abraham. Surely Schilling is used to reporters other than Shaughnessy kissing his feet and thanking him for the bloody sock, and he has quite a following of people who won't question his writing skills, points, or opinions in general. It's pretty likely that Abraham lost quite a few fans this week. Just wait until he says Manny Delcarmen sucks or says 46 won't take a hometown discount.


Anonymous said...


As a pitcher, Red Sox fans have tremendous admiration and respect for Curt Schilling. And they should.

As a media personality, some people like him, others don't. Regardless of whether you like him or not, it's fair to say that he's not a professional. It's not his area of expertise, he has no formal training. When he writes something pointed, sarcastic, or takes something personally and blasts someone, I expect that from him. That's who he is, for better or worse.

Peter Abraham is a professional. At least he is in the sense that he is a writer by trade and gets paid to do as much. Whether he carries himself with any professionalism or not is a different story all together.

It appears that he took Schilling's rebuttal personally. That's not professional. Not many people in the media take Schilling all that seriously and neither should he. But he did. As a result, he comes across as petty. From the chats that I've read of his, he's quick to shoot down theories, rumors, and has no problem insulting the chatters. If that's his style, fine. But if he thinks that people aren't going to be offended by it and then gets pissy when people complain, he probably needs to either be more diplomatic, get thicker skin, or find another line of work.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

Why did Sheppard get laid off?


the gm at work said...

Mostly money. But they have hinted that it might have been more than money.

As far as your commentary goes on Abraham, Gunn, that is all very fair and accurate. I mean, you have to look at the big picture when it comes to Abraham. He's like Mike Cameron. You can put up with his occasional foolishness, beefs with commenters, fans, players, and other journalists as long as he's always giving you relevant updates in a timely fashion and being entertaining at the same time. He does that. It's like putting up with Cameron's 185 strikeouts a year as long as he's hitting .280 with 30 home runs. Oh, wait...

PF said...

agree with pretty much everything here dv, but think the best point you made is in relation to the "free check" in poker (great analogy too). beckett is a pretty good pitcher. not great. inconsistent and injury prone - not always to the point that it sends him to the DL (though that happens too), but certainly to the point where it impacts his ability to pitch effectively. that's a problem, especially when you are talking about extending a guy a year before his contract is up. may as well just wait and see what happens.

related, it's not like you can really get burned. even if josh beckett has another 2007, his contract ceiling is john lackey/aj burnett contracts. he's not better than either of them - if at all - to the point that he's going to get separation on the years and dollars of his contract. especially with hernandez and verlander just signing those kind of deals. there is no way beckett should be getting more money than those guys. conversely, if his value stays as it is right now or gets worse, you can probably pay him less total value. it's sort of a win-win for the red sox. he'd have to have the best year of his career for them to get beat by waiting to pay him, and that's a risk you take every time.

Ross Kaplan said...
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