Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Something Snapped

It's been talked about at length before that Red Sox fans, perhaps through complacency, perhaps through better options in other sports, or perhaps through exhaustion after a non-stop emotional roller coaster from their baseball team, have lost a bit of their interest in their team. The 2010 "bridge year" which was exactly that - a completely punted effort as we predicted last winter. Surprisingly, even the most short-sighted Red Sox fans were okay with that.

But something happened today that made them snap. This is what really surprised me. I didn't see this explosion coming. But it was not Pats/Colts, Pats/Lions, the Celtics' recent losing, the Bruins, or whatever garbage I did in Philadelphia that caught their attention the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It was Victor Martinez signing rather predictably with the Detroit Tigers. This seemed like the last straw for a fan base that is apparently tired with ownership and management's inconsistent and distracted philosophy when it comes to free agency.

Felger was in full-out rant mode this afternoon about the Red Sox' quarter-assed attempt to retain one of the five best catchers in the major leagues. What is wrong with Victor Martinez, he demanded to know. If you offer a guy in the prime of his career a two-year, $18 million deal, you are not only insulting him, but you're also sending a crystal-clear message that a platoon between a minor leaguer and a guy better suited for a single-A managerial position is a more desirable option.

But why? Especially, why is it okay to give David Ortiz $12 million but not Victor Martinez? Why is it okay to give JD Drew 5 years and $70 million, but you can't give a GOOD baseball player in Martinez 4 years and $50 million? The guys the Red Sox really want - they blow out the field in negotiations. Look at Matsuzaka. Look at Drew and the obvious tampering case. Look at Lugo. Look at even Cameron, Varitek, Scutaro, and Lackey. They outbid themselves on all of these guys.

Then ownership obviously wanted to retain David Ortiz because he will have a "great smile," do features on NESN, and hopefully raise ratings for Linda Pizzuti's abominable "After the Game" television show.

But for some reason, it's okay to blow out the field on Mike Cameron and JD Drew but pinch pennies on Jason Bay, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, and ultimately even Mark Teixeira. Felger, Massarotti, and a large legion of furious Red Sox fans are trying to figure out why.

I'm plenty pissed off about the fact that the Red Sox are vastly overpaying mediocre-to-bad players, and then crying poverty because of their payroll. Part of the beauty of having this blog for so long is that there's hard evidence pointing to the fact that I've said for a long time that this team absolutely BLOWS at free-agent negotiations. And that's why they lose guys they give a half-assed effort on but blow out the field on sub-par players.

But in this case, it sort of makes sense. Especially in light of what Pat F wrote yesterday. Theo Epstein all but admitted earlier that 2011 is also going to be a bridge/punt year by saying he's okay with Jed Lowrie at third and Jarrod Saltalanotgonnaplayhereanymore (hat tip to the Oz) behind the plate. But letting go of V-Mart means that the Red Sox have reasonable flexibility at first base for a couple of years. This team might use this offseason to spend $60 million on two or three league-average relievers. But it's looking more and more obvious that next winter, they're going to flex their offseason muscle.

They'll have an opening at first base with Youkilis potentially moving to third (displacing an expendable Lowrie). There will be a player available through free agency that the team clearly wants. He'll be 29 when he plays his first game in Boston, and he will receive the Mark Teixeira-level contract he wants - from the Red Sox. If Red Sox fans can stomach a .500 team in 2011, they will be rewarded with Adrian Gonzalez next year.

Let's just hope that in the meantime, Theo Epstein will get the flack he deserves not for letting go of Victor Martinez, but for hideously overpaying for stiffs like two of their outfielders.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

Theo just doesn't do well with free agents. He overpays bad players. He lets his own good players leave. It makes no sense. The best free agent, the guy who made the biggest difference in the last decade was Manny Ramirez. Dan Duquette signed him. The Ortiz signing was a fluke. He'd been non-tendered. Nobody fought for him.

More importantly as I was checking out the Colby website to see what my sister's field goal percentage was tonight I noticed that you won the Philadelphia Marathon. A few thoughts on this:

First, Congratulations.

Secondly, that's amazing. It's an understatement to say the least, but more than 20,000 people ran the damn thing. The only thing I'd wager that I'm better than 20,000 people at is flicking through the music channels on cable and guessing song titles before they pop up on screen (which by the way I am damn good at).

Lastly, you have to be completely insane. I'm in great shape and I ran five miles today. When I got done I wanted to kill myself. And at no time did I run any of miles as fast as you run all 26 of yours. I really don't know how anyone does it, which only underscores my original point: congratulations.

--the Gunn

TimC said...

Theo will be spending any available money on a left-back, reserve striker, versatile winger, and a new manager to replace Roy Hodgson. This means there will not be any money left over for the Red Sox. Sorry, Boston fans, John will answer your calls after the season ends in May.

DV, I know recently Crawford v Werth was looked at head-to-head, the result implying that if it had to be one guy, it would be (for you) Werth. Does that put you in the camp of thinking the Sox should sign him, period, (or will) or do you think they should just sign him over Crawford, in the hypothetical 'if they had to' scenario? Because I can't imagine how things would play out around here if they brought him or someone on his level in sometime next week.

the gm at work said...

Don't think they should sign him no matter what. If for some reason Crawford becomes available on short years, they should sign Crawford. But I do think think Werth would be helpful and aligned with the team's overall goals. I don't think the team would be too thrilled going into 2012 (when they want to compete again) with an outfield of 46, Kalish, and Reddick. I mean, chances are one of those three (probably 46 because he's a one-tool player) should be a 4th outfielder on a good team by then.

Anonymous said...

DV

When I was checking to see how Colby basketball did yesterday I saw that you won the Philadelphia Marathon. A few things:

First--Congratulations.

Second--that's amazing. You beat more than 20,000 people. That's as good as the Sox are bad at signing free agents. Which is pretty damn good.

Lastly--you must be completely insane. I work out every day (and no, I don't use the elliptical/do arms and back for a half hour) and I ran five miles the other day and wanted to kill myself. And at no time did I run any mile as fast as you ran all 26 of yours. Amazing.

And of course, Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

--the Gunn

Patrick said...

dv -

i just can't believe you didn't tell us immediately that you won a major city marathon. i can appreciate the modesty, but goodness gracious, this is huge news. congrats my man!

on vmart and the fan reaction, i think it is more a response to the cumulative effect of perceived free agent inconsistency than this one non-signing. vmart is a very good player, but the sox have an ability to find guys at mid-level salaries that can crush it in fenway or are average or below average on the road. i mentioned this the other day, but his ops was .210 lower on the road than at home. that doesn't take anything away from him being so great at home, but the road thing is a problem since half the games get played away from fenway. vmart is not the guy that is going to make or break the sox going forward. but i totally agree that the inconsistency that good-elite free agents are approached vs. mediocre-below average is confusing, and i can understand the fan base being upset about that.

happy thanksgiving to everyone as well.

the gm at work said...

First, I'd like to point out that the Tank was right on top of my running news first thing yesterday morning - I didn't have to announce anything.

Plus, since we've started this blog, I've broken the Colby school record and the State Meet record in the 10,000 meter, broken the course record at the Maine Marathon, finished 24th in Boston, and now this. I've done a lot. But this is not a space where anyone really gives a crap (or should) about the garbage I do. This is evidenced by the scarcity of comments surrounding my injury, Mike Cameron's injury, or whatever. I try to keep things loosely within the scope of baseball.

As I've had to talk awkwardly about myself pretty much nonstop the last three days, discussing the connection between VMart and Adrian Gonzalez is much more compelling.

That said, I appreciate the words of congratulations.