Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No Offseason

Want to change gears a little bit for a Wednesday. Unfortunately I probably won't be on the comment stream too much, but that's life. However, the Red Sox have pulled Arod-style timing for a lot of their offseason wheelings and dealings, showing no respect for the eight franchises who could actually construct a team that could make it to the playoffs - seven of which could do it with less than $170 million! But as the Fox television network can televise a garbage Halloween special for a garbage show in Glee last night, we have now gone three (3) days without baseball for no good reason.

So why not turn to the Red Sox?

We'll start with the ownership group's top priority: The Liverpool soccer team. They are getting killed around here to a pretty big extent. The ownership group is nickel and diming on baseball operations everywhere - in free agency, in waiver wire acquisitions, they're even haggling in the draft! - but they're torching almost half a billion dollars in the troubled soccer team who have already been dogged by a terrible American ownership group in the Tom Hicks group. (By the way, you should have stuck to radio and soda, bro.)

Boston fans are crushing the ownership group both for their cheapness on the baseball side and for spreading themselves too thin with the soccer team, the NASCAR team that they are trying to shove down every New England fan's throats, and whatnot. And that's reasonably fair. An uncommitted ownership (hi Jeremy Jacobs) is a good way for a team to flounder. But at the same time, perhaps the vexatious Twittering billionaire can shut up for a while and let the baseball people handle baseball stuff instead of doing the membership card nonsense. Doubtful. But whatever.

My dad is a big soccer guy, having played at a high level when he was young. Fox Soccer is on at his house more than any channel except for the Felger Channel. He claims Henry and friends are geniuses, and in the long run, the acquisition of Liverpool while at its lowest value and doing a Bill Parcells (yo!) job on the franchise will ultimately pay dividends, both figuratively and literally. Liverpool is untapped potential, with a historic but dilapidated stadium and a devoted fan base with international marketability. If they turn a profit, which they should because they are not Tom Hicks, that is more liquidity that can hopefully be used to fortify the baseball team.

As long as they don't shove it down my throat and make me feel bad for rooting for any other team on that continent, knock yourselves out. But if you're going to do with this team what you do with the NASCAR team, go away.

Priority #2 is the team's gift to Theo Epstein by moving the right field bullpen in a couple of feet. What a joke. This was done exactly seventy years ago, adding the bullpens there and moving home run territory 23 feet closer. That was to help enhance Ted Williams's stats and thereby improving the team's chance of winning in the 1940s. This team is built around four right-handed pitchers. Therefore, it makes very little sense.

Unless you realize that Theo Epstein has looked foolish for four years, signing a right fielder for $14 million per. This should probably up JD's home run totals to about 25, as his warning-track-power fly outs will now be home runs. This may actually result in Drew's first 70-RBI season in a Red Sox uniform. What a sweet thing to do for their smug general manager and his boy who is now 162 baseball games from retirement. Someone should tell Lucchino that the 110 weak ground balls to the right side still wouldn't be home runs under the new ground rules.

Last thing: John Farrell is now the Blue Jays' manager. Some classy things were said by the organization about the guy. I do believe the guy did a lot of good work in Boston. I don't idolize him like most of the populace does around here, as I still ask where the genius was for Beckett, Matsuzaka, Papelbon, Smoltz, Penny, most of the bullpen, and even some of the better pitchers who had bad stretches (Buchholz in '08, Lester every April). Of course, only me and Kaplan would criticize Jesus if he were the Red Sox' pitching coach. Although Jesus was one of Kaplan's people, so maybe it would just be me.

Finding a new pitching coach will be interesting, and while there have been a few names thrown out (including Rick Peterson's, which I mentioned Monday as he was instrumental in formulating the Verducci theory), I hope they promote from within. Mike Cather, who was Portland's pitching coach when I was working in the organization, should be the guy. He has a pretty deep connection with Buchholz especially (this is partially why he was demoted to Portland in 2008), and the former major league reliever has also been instrumental in the development of Rusty Masterson, Daniel Bard, and Michael Bowden - two of whom have struggled since they went different ways. A dark horse, sure, but he's got my endorsement.

10 comments:

The GM said...

Another point of discussion, especially if we want to be critical of the Red Sox, is the fact that they quietly announced another ticket increase today. Felger brought this up on the radio: the team did this on opening day of the basketball season - the first day of the Shaq O'Neal era and the day that the team from Florida happened to show up.

According to what I heard from Felger is that the team announced the ticket increase last year the day after 4th and 2.

Dear Lucchino, way to announce it like a man.

Anonymous said...

DV

I don't know anything about soccer and I personally have a tremendous amount of distaste for the game because the soccer guys at my high school were basically like the lacrosse guys at Colby. I don't think anyone would confuse either for being awesome.

That said, I've heard that the Sox basically bought Liverpool for half of their value. The sport and marketing aside (yes, they're going to shove it right down our throats, just like membership cards and NASCAR), it sounds like a pretty good investment. The more money John Henry has, the more money the Red Sox have. And that's a good thing. We want NESN to do well, we want Carl Edwards to win races, and we want Liverpool to win whatever the hell it is that British soccer teams can win. Ultimately, it will benefit the Red Sox.

Also, the fact that JD Drew is coming into the last year of his contract just goes to show you how dangerously fast five years of our lives can go by. Scary.

Lastly, it was nice to see Lebron not quit with two minutes to play tonight.

--the Gunn

TimC said...

Well, any potential of my JD-ing out today was secured when DV tags a post 'Liverpool'. (Keep in mind, this is one of the only Red Sox blogs out there pre-sale that had Liverpool FC content thanks to my presence).

Now, about LFC. First, let's shelve any thoughts about 'the rising tide lifts all boats' thinking behind the possibility that improved Liverpool revenues = more funds for the Sox. Simply put, if the owners want to rebuild the goodwill and trust of the LFC fan base, they will avoid doing such a thing for at least several years. This is a fan base that had no problem pulling together and ousting the previous owners and the first hint of Henry and Co. not being entirely behind the LFC cause will be met with a great negative reaction.

The other problem here is that the only way Liverpool really was worth double what the owners paid is if the English league is valued properly. Given that spending is going up, up, up while TV revenues and prize monies are unlikely to follow such a trajectory means that, like the US housing market five years ago, the situation in England is that the value of the asset is probably not in line with the money being spent on it. Like in the NBA, many clubs are struggling with debt and attendance and a league-wide plummet in value would be a blow to the value of the club.

Now, Gunn, LFC can win three things: the league, two UK cups, and a European champions league. It aligns to college hoops, where the league is the league, the UK cup is the ACC tournament, and the European champions league is March Madness. LFC want the league as they have gone nearly twenty years without one but historically the club plays better in Europe. Unlike in college hoops, the European cup is not automatically the priority.

To more important matters. On LeBron, I understand that he may be on a mission this year to shut everyone up and win the MVP again. However, if he plays like he did last night and cripples every one of this teammates before going off in an MVP season I do not think I would be impressed. For some reason, he still thinks dribbling off his foot, picking the ball up, and jacking a 3 with 18 second on the shot clock when down 8 with 2 minutes to play is a smart basketball decision.

Oh, right, he was 'feeling it' because he just hit one on the previous play.

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

i don't know too much about the details of the red sox ownership group's other sports ventures. what i do know is that being owned by a group that owns a number of other sports ventures is not always a good thing. it can be a good thing, but it isn't always. i think it is certainly more risky than having an ownership group involved in other non-sports ventures, as most are. personally, i want an ownership group that's only sports venture is the one team they own. i don't want their attention diluted, or the funds mixed. i want all of the focus to be on that one team winning.

last night we were treated to one of the rarest phenomenons in sports. one of the 4 or 5 most historically disliked teams in all of american sports was largely supported by the public (myself included), the same public that would traditionally root heavily against them for their past successes, etc., all the reasons we dislike the teams we dislike. we will get this situation again when people root for the lakers the way they rooted for the celtics later this season. it takes something as unique as what transpired with the heat this past summer to make something like this happen. it is akin to alex rodriguez 10 years ago joining the rays and 4-5 of the other top free agents going with him, playing against the yankees and people rooting for the yankees. it's just not something you expect to see and yet we will get it with both the celtics and lakers for the foreseeable future. good job by the celtics running with it last night.

Anonymous said...

I don't quite hate soccer the way I used to, but I can certainly say that I still don't understand it at all. Wasn't TimC saying a while back that they don't even have playoffs? Very confusing.

For the Red Sox ownership, I think the concern is that they now view the Red Sox in a "been there done that" light and are now looking for a new adventure. You know that all the Yankees ownership cares about from a sports perspective is having the Yankees win. I think the Red Sox ownership has opened the door to be questioned about their priorities.

A few other key points which DV failed to mention:

- First in one of the most incredible and unpredictable outcomes in sports in the last 25-30 years, the Raiders hung a franchise record 59 points on the Denver Broncos last week in Denver. They were up 38-7 at halftime. This coming from a team that could only put up 9 points against the winless (to that point) 49ers the week before. All this week I've been reading Denver Broncos fansites and seeing how miserable their fans are. It has been a delight.

This sets the Raiders up for a showdown with the 4-2 Seahawks, who are led by Pete Carroll. This is a win win situation if there ever was one. If the Raiders win this will be the latest into a regular season that the Raiders have been .500 since 2002. If the Seahawks win, it is further validation that Pete Carroll is a great coach. In all seriousness though the potential comedy of errors in a Tom Cable/Pete Carroll matchup is so tantalizing I can't even sit still.

NY Giants look pretty good PF.


Lastly, I got a call from Preston Decker on Sunday, in which he indicated that he's back in the gym getting ready for the Alumni basketball. I haven't played basketball in months, literally. Though I did run a half marathon recently the morning after being out in Boston with the Gunn.

the gm at work said...

On Liverpool,

Tim's point about LFC fans being as open to the idea of ownership's attention being diverted from their team as Red Sox fans are is troubling and perhaps a sign of due diligence being partially overlooked by this group.

Gunn, so does that mean if we support David Ortiz, we should also support Carl Edwards drilling illegal holes into his car? I suppose it's less egregious as doping as it's never killed anyone, but it's certainly on the same level of corking your bat.

PF, I am surprised you got behind the Celtics, as you had been reasonably sympathetic to number 6 when all the Decision garbage happened in July. Interesting to know, though. And your comparison is great.

Bandi,

I did mention the Raiders I believe in my post or first comment on Monday. I said I couldn't wait to have you troll the comments section- as you did. The Pete Carroll perfect storm is going to be awesome, but perhaps the Raiders' success last week will work against the historically-precise Pete Carroll Sandwich Game theory.

Instead of allowing his team to dick around, skip the weight room this week, and eat a bunch of f***in cheeseburgers (Rex Ryan reference) like he most likely would have otherwise because he would have written the Raiders off as terrible, he saw the fact that the Raiders dropped 59 on the Broncos. So instead of treating this game like a Washington-USC game or an Eagles-Pats game where they will just win despite a lack of preparedness -- except they don't -- they might actually prepare for this game.

That said, look for 5 interceptions next week anyway.

Patrick said...

my sympathy for lebron around the time of his decision has nothing to do with my distaste for the heat now. i still maintain that the way a lot, if not a majority, of people approached that situation was over the top, namely that lebron was a bad person if he did anything but stayin in cleveland. you want to go somewhere else, go ahead, you only live once. ditto if you want to announce it on national television. even if it is ridiculous, it's just not something to get that upset about. he also raised millions of dollars for charity (and you can shove the notion of "he could have just donated that money himself' argument right back where it came from. we are talking about MILLIONS of dollars here. him donating it is less dollars that he is going to donate. now you have these millions of dollars, plus money he donates, so it's more money for charity. and every cent for charity is a good thing, no matter how ridiculous the manner it is raisied in.). i also don't have a problem with him going to the heat with wade and bosh. it eliminates him from getting to a certain level as an athlete, which is also fine, because he had not obligation to get to that level. if three really good guys want to play together, great, it makes it more fun.

however, now that they decided to do so, they are unlikable as a team. and that is why i, and so many others, were rooting for a historically despised team like the celtics last night.

which is really an incredible phenomenon if you think about it. i would say that the four most traditionally disliked teams in american professional sports are the yankees, cowboys, celtics, and lakers. think about the amount of times in sports history that average fan who does not root for one of these teams has not only not rooted against them, but rooted for them. it doesn't happen often. and it happened last night. was kind of fun, because you think about what an incredible situation has to happen (the heat) to bring this about.

Anonymous said...

PF

The four teams you listed have to be the four teams that are despised. Teams like the Bulls, Patriots, Steelers, 49ers, and even the A's and Red Sox have hopped up into the hated stratosphere before, but have never really held that position like the Yankees, Cowboys, Lakers, and Celtics.

I am curious though to see if anyone thinks that Chris Bosh will approach his Toronto numbers in Miami. I have a hunch that he's going to be Lamar Odom-esque in Miami. Not that it's bad, but it's not worth $18 million a year, especially not in a league with a salary cap.

--the Gunn

TimC said...

Bandi,

Some soccer leagues don't have playoffs, but neither does Division 1 college football. Plus, the MLS has playoffs and I think that holds it back.

PF, say what you want about charity, but the way LeBron handled himself during that one-hour fundraiser is the #1 reason why people are going to bash the Heat this year. It seems like a lot of people had a variety of reactions to how things happened but my reaction was that it just did not seem like a professional way to conduct business. Honestly, when 50% of the list of people I can imagine doing what he did consists of the Bengals starting WRs, I think that's a problem.

Good to hear Preston has his head focused on the USA again. He is going to be overwhelmed, though, when he goes up against the first six-footer he has played against since he left the country.

Bandi, the poor Raiders just have zero consistency. The Trojans are very consistent- they win at home and suck on the road. Should be a thriller. Say what you want about Pete Carroll- I certainly have, do, and will- but he is a great recruiter. The fact that he paid players at USC should have alerted front offices around the league that he would make savvy free agent pickups like Mike Williams.

Finally, Gunn, gut reaction: does LeBron make Wade better? Bosh? These guys are not complimentary pieces and it will be quite an effort to get them to run an offense and stick together when things get tough.