Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yeah, I'll Bite

Tim C respectfully requested that I address the issue of whether the Red Sox should try to work out a pre-free-agency extension with 46. Even setting my biases aside on this one, it makes no sense to try to work something out with this guy, for the following reasons:

1. He would never do such a thing. Boras guys are going to look for the last possible dollar, including going through significant risks to do so. The Manny Ramirez force-his-way-out thing was a significant risk. The Jason Varitek retirement card was a significant risk. Pedro Alvarez and Stephen Strasburg at the draft - same thing. You gotta give up some comfort (in 46's case, gambling that he won't be out of baseball by 2013, because if he is, he will get $0) to try to secure that free agent contract.

2. He has yet to prove anything. Despite what Steve Buckley once said, 46 is not a Hall of Famer. I read somewhere (and I apologize for JDing out of finding and citing the source - maybe WEEI.com?) that it wouldn't be a surprise if 46 hit .310, but also wouldn't be a surprise if he hit .240. It's FNO that 46's career OPS is under the league average. And unlike Lester, Youkilis, Pedroia, and (using Monday's example) Buchholz, 46 has not yet proven he's a major leaguer of significance quite yet. Maybe he will in 2011. But it just plain has not happened. Even if 46's 2009 matched his 2008 and he sat out 2010 like he did, you could say he's proven he's a serviceable major leaguer. But that has not happened. He regressed in 2009 and failed to show up in 2010. Why would the Red Sox even fathom extending this guy?

3. He can't stay healthy. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt this time instead of just saying he's a huge pussy. 46 is constantly banged up with a lot of things. I really doubt any non-46 athlete has missed six months due to sore ribs. Why pay a guy who can't stay on the field unless you have to?

4. Arbitration. It's not unlikely that 46 becomes the first player in the Theo Epstein era to go to arbitration. And the Red Sox should take him there. (They should have this winter instead of giving him a 383% raise.) If they do that, they retain him for another year and give him another shot at proving himself. What's the downside of arbitration: They'll lose? Still a better option than extending him. Is the downside straining player-team relations? Well, those are already shot. So why not take 46 to arbitration?

5. The player wants out. He's in the organization's doghouse and vice versa.

Tim, you may have been trolling, but here it is. Enjoy yo day.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, DV, but I do feel that #1 is perhaps the only, ultimately, 'relevant' point. I think Boras guys, in general, and some types of people, in particular, live in these alternate realities where they are forever young and like to make money where money has not actually been earned.

If this situation were my fantasy football league or a 'Madden' franchise mode, 46 would sign for a fair wage based entirely on his past performance and how that reflects his ability to help baseball teams in the life of the contract. This is not the case, 46 instead bringing in his suits that will argue that his vitality, 40 yard dash time, ability to listen to his body, and performance in approximately six playoff games are all factors more relevant to a new contract. Patrick Chung can feel free to let this man be punted away.

This all ties back to some topics we've thrown around here. With the Gonzalez thing still unresolved, the Sox really cannot go out and deal with Buch or 46. We've agreed the former needs a new deal and, perhaps (bias on hold alert), 46 could be signed to a reasonable deal as well. But it will not, and should not, happen until the big fish is secured. As Mick once said to Rocky, 'What are we waiting for?'

TimC

Anonymous said...

DV

There was a time when we never agreed when it came to Jacoby Ellsbury. And now, aside from the fact that I call him by his name, we often do.

I think that the guy can be a good player. But to this point he's been about league average. Why go and try to extend that type of player? Especially when you have a guy like Kalish in the minors? Let Ellsbury prove he's ready to play at an exceptional level. If he does and becomes expensive, so be it. If he doesn't, then you don't have to worry about paying the guy because he's not someone you want. But don't go and extend a guy when he really hasn't given you an indication that he's a guy you want to have around in five or six years.

--the Gunn

Patrick said...

good stuff here boys. i'll chime in on both buchholz and ellsbury now because i didn't get to triple A clay the other day. but before i do, dv, does your mother really read this site with the language you use? you have the mouth of a sailor.

ellsbury is a clear no. first, he's pretty deep into the process now. he only has two arbitration eligible years left before free agency. even though he's been a disappointment to this point, he's only taken the team for less than $1.5 million in salary. that's nothing. and while people like dv will rightfully complain about what he's making this year, the fact is how disappointing he's been is why he's being paid that little. had he been productive, he'd be making a lot more by now. tying these two things together, the reason you don't extend ellsbury is because he's so close to free agency and making so little. even if he has a big year this year, he won't make a ton more through arbitration next year. the sox have all of the leverage here. the only way he burns them is if he has 2-3 big years in the next 3 years and creates a big market for himself in free agency. not only is that a big if, but the sox getting "burned" there is relative. that just means they'll have gotten 2-3 good prime years out of him at pretty low cost. so i'm in agreement with you guys here.

Patrick said...

with buchholz i disagree. not that i think you should never extend him. just not right now. i'm reminded of the yankees' 07-08 offseason. they had a position player in robinson cano three years into his career who looked like a stud and they extended him. they had a starting pitcher in chien-ming wang three years into his career who looked like a stud and they didn't. at this point, wang was more established than buchholz, coming off back to back 19 win seasons. at first it seemed a little curious that the yankees were extending cano and not wang. but the rationale makes perfect sense. position players, after a certain sample size of proven production, are more likely to continue to produce than starting pitchers. there is less volatility in performance, but far more importantly, there is much less of an injury risk. the way things ended up for wang is the extreme example, but at the time the yankees decided not to extend him he was similarly situated to buchholz: young starting pitcher showing signs of being able to pitch consistently on baseball's biggest stage, but with an injury history. and the bottom line is, most pitcher's have an injury history. if buchholz was showing similar promise as a position player at this point, there is no question you extend him. it's not about his production as much as the position he plays. and it's not like his sample size is big enough yet where we just know he's worth an investment. his fip was 3.61 and his xfip was 4.20, and it was only one season. the sox should take the opportunity to see exactly where he's going to settle in production wise. and they have that opportunity, as he's under team control for up to four more years including this one.

the final important point to make here is that just like teams' have to be weary of starting pitchers' potential for injury, so too do starting pitchers. buchholz isn't close enough to free agency now where if he has 1-2 more big years he's unlikely to be amenable to an extension. most starting pitchers choose to cash in when they can, knowing the uncertainty, even if they end up leaving dollars on the table through free agency. better to be a $60 million man while eliminating the possibility of being a $100 million man than going for $100 million and ending up out of the game when you could have locked in $60. on the sox side, maybe they end up paying more to extend him by waiting, but in my opinion it's better to extend someone for $80 million when you have a better idea of their track record of staying healthy and producing than extending someone for $40 million when there is a lot more uncertainty. buchholz is too much of an unknown right now in terms of that kind of money, but more importantly there is very little reason for the sox to do it. again, they hold most of the cards here.

i should have turned these comments into a post. oh well, dv deserves the comments, he did a really good job covering this topic.

Anonymous said...

Pat,

Really good points all around.

The one area I would disagree a little bit is that I don't know how much Ellsbury has been a dissappointment versus him just being totally overrated to begin with.

I realize I'm splitting hairs semantically, but when you look at Ellsbury you see a guy that:
- Hits for a half decent average
- Hits for no power
- Doesn't have a great OBP
- Is a good but probably not game changing defender.

In the end, this is kind of what I expected. He is what he is. The annoying thing for me has not so much been Ellsbury, but the people that get enamored with his speed and start talking about what a great player he is and how he is a game changer. So he stole home once against the Yankees. Big deal.

On Bucchholz I totally agree. I would not give 8 figures to him yet.

Patrick said...

that's a fair point, jon bandi. but whatever you want to call it, the point stands that his average-below average play has made him very affordable for the red sox, giving them no real reason to extend him right now.