Monday, May 10, 2010

Who Does Number Two Work For?

The whispers about the Red Sox' "injured" left fielder are getting louder.

A few weeks ago I heard Tony Massarotti insinuate that the outfielder formerly known at 46 is taking his sweet time to return to the lineup and that it's starting to piss off the Red Sox' organization. Apparently Number Two doesn't want to play at 99 percent. Meanwhile, despite some semi-inspired play on Sunday and possibly Monday night, this team's season is going down the drain with a 4-A player playing in center. And Number Two is continuing to sit. His return is seeming to never come.

And why would this be?

One word: Arbitration.

Number Two, who (by the way) is the first major leaguer to hire Scott Boras after Boras orchestrated the centaur's opt-out during the 2007 World Series, is eligible for a pretty big raise after the 2010 season. He's in his first year of arbitration eligibility after this year, and if Number Two decides to play a few weeks at 85-99 percent instead of straight-up 100%, he might not hit .300. While his speed might win the Red Sox' run prevention machine a game or two, it also might cost Number Two money. And Number Two, given his choice of agent, doesn't care about winning a game or two for the run prevention machine. Number Two cares about Number Two's 2011 salary.

You heard it here first on May 10th. Number Two this winter will be the boy wonder's first arbitration case since he took over as general manager in 2002. And Number Two and the agent who works for the player can't wait. Given the stolen base totals and the artificially-high batting average, not to mention whatever Scott Boras enumerates for being good-looking and biracial, Number Two is going to make some good money. He might make more money than the Chicago division of Virtucon that makes miniature models of factories. Look it up.

After all, if the player were to play at 90% and finish the season with numbers like .280/9/47 with an OPS+ of 87, nothing on the stat sheet would be able to account for the fact that the numbers suck...except for the argument that the player sucks. However, if the player waits until he's 100% and hits .305/6/40 with an OPS+ of 115 in 105 games because he walks along with the called strike threes he takes down the middle, you see the low home run and RBI totals, but that's because he missed a ton of time because his brainless third baseman broke his ribs. The rate stats are there, though, and that's why Number Two deserves twelve million.

Plus, there isn't an arbitration judge in the world who is willing to hear the argument of "this player took his time to get back from his injury. This player is unwilling to play hurt. This player is a pussy." Not even Bill James can quantify the lost value of being soft.

As I have said for years--probably since the Arod incident...or since the JD Drew tampering debacle--the agent works for the player. The player knows what he's getting into when he hires the agent, and that goes double if you sign with the agent five weeks after he pulls that Arod stunt and 10% of his clientele fires his ass because of his behavior. I wrote in December 2007 that if a player hires this agent, the player cares more about his annual income than he cares about winning baseball games. After the Arod incident, it shows that the player cares more about the annual income than the game that is making him rich. After the Manny incident, it shows that the agent will work for the agent's bottom line sometimes at the expense of the player.

But Number Two is okay with that. Just as he's okay using this pseudo-injury as a way to enhance his salary while costing his team baseball games. Former Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell once said after JD Drew held out and played independent ball instead of accepting a signing bonus with the Phillies for almost twice the all-time record for any amateur player that Drew was "what's wrong with...America today." And Rendell was probably right.

Until now. Maybe we all thought once that Number Two worked for the Boston Red Sox. Wrong. Number Two works for Number Two.


Anonymous said...


I tend not to get too caught up in conspiracy-type theories. Generally they're pretty absurd. And considering that Jacoby Ellsbury has broken ribs, it's understandable that he's out as long as he's been.

That being said, I'm inclined to believe anything if Scott Boras is involved. He's shown himself to be the most underhanded person in professional sports. He's the type of person that gives attorneys a bad name. The Johnny Damon fake five year offer (when the Yankees only came up with four), the ARod opt-out during the World Series, and of course, the worst of them all, the Manny Ramirez situation in 2008, were all orchestrated and perpetrated by Scott Boras. So it wouldn't surprise me if he advised Ellsbury to sit out longer than necessary.

That said, the guy has broken ribs. I've never had them, but I hear it's pretty bad. If it's hard to breathe, it's probably hard to swing a bat or run or do anything. I just hope the guy comes back and is productive.

--the Gunn

PF said...

i think the biggest thing for ellsbury now is just getting him back. he's not an impact player but he's a lot better than a lot of what the red sox have going on in the outfield right now. this is especially true considering how atrocious the starting pitching has been. you hope his legs can (A) save you some runs defensively and (B) create a few more scoring chances, particularly on the road where they have not scored the baseball with a lot of regularity.

a number of troubling things from last night's yankees game, which would be right up there with the official joe girardi match-up night in baltimore two weeks ago as most frustrating loss of the season. first, runners on third base with less than two outs. one of my two biggest pet peeves in this game (the other being letting the other team score the half inning after you score). thames left one there. winn left one there. in a game where they lost by one run, that was the difference. i understand this isn't a 100% thing. it's going to happen. but they put together the weakest swings/at bats. you really should be able to at least put together an aggressive at bat in that scenario.

second, boone logan is a loogy. which is great, outside of the fact that he can't get lefties out. it's an incredibly small sample, but he's faced 12 lefties this year and walked four of them, and that makes me care a lot less about the sample. those who have not walked against him are ops'ing an even 1.000 against him which also makes me care less about sample size. in a game where they lost by one run, allowing a lefty to hit a booming rbi triple off a loogy is the difference in the game. i also understand this is going to happen, but it shouldn't be happening with the frequency it is to boone logan early in the season.

third, brett gardner lost a flyball in the twilight. this happens, and is not the player's fault. however, unless you think alerting your teammate that you lost it is going to give him a chance it, there is no reason to let everyone in the ballpark know you can't see it. why? because the baserunner happens to be one of the people in the ballpark who can see you aren't going to catch it, and start advancing bases. the heady play there is to make like you have it until the last second, then let it drop and hope to catch the runner not hustling/looking, which miguel cabrera was not last night on the hustle front. if he advances anyway, at least you tried. beats letting the whole world know. i discussed this a few weeks ago, but for a role player, brett gardner does not to many of the little things well (a repeat runner on 3rd, less than 2 out offender, circuitous routes to fly balls, etc.). and he's still producing. if he did some more of the little things well, you wonder if he could give the team even more production.

the gm said...

He has hairline fractures in his ribs, Gunn. If memory serves me right, nothing even showed up on the x-ray. Am I bitter because I race really slow while injured but this guy doesn't show up? You bet I am. Even after the MRI came back to reveal the hairline fractures, nobody was expecting Number Two to sit out this long. Is anyone else mystified by the fact that there's no clear return date? I bet Aaron Rowand always had a return date when he broke his face.


You're missing my point. I agree with you that top priority with the team, the medical staff, and everyone involved except for the player is to get him back. I am questioning--and I am not the only one--whether the player wants to save said runs or create said scoring chances.

Patrick said...

i didn't miss that point, i chose to comment on something else.

the gm said...

Glad you got the chance to comment on three different off-topic subjects despite being too busy with exams to put up a post. Must have been the vertigo.