Thursday, November 30, 2006

Random Thought

I really like how Tom Glavine was going through some deep internal debate about whether to pursue his 300th victory as a Met or a Brave. And it was very nice of him to keep us informed of his thought process – he was taking a vacation with his family over Thanksgiving and would have his mind made up by Monday. One small problem with his process. The Braves aren’t interested. Interesting approach. And I guess it is not done, but if you are the Braves do you make him a $5MM take it or leave it offer. Or do you engage in “negotiations” in order to drive up the price for your division rival. Especially now that Minaya must be getting antsy. Its almost December 1 and he hasn’t signed any huge multi-year contracts yet.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

How much for winning a MacArthur grant?

I can't decide which incentive clause in Alfonso Soriano's obscene contract with the Cubs less likely to happen:

- $350,000 if he is selected the World Series MVP
- $75,000 if he wins a Gold Glove

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Best news I've gotten all week: Dante Bichette is on the 2007 Hall of Fame Ballot.
DANTE BICHETTE: 1st year on the ballot… Played 14 seasons… Led National League in hits, home runs, RBI, slugging percentage and extra base hits in 1995; his .340 average was third in the NL… Finished second in the NL MVP voting that year, behind Barry Larkin… Named to The Sporting News Silver Slugger team in 1995…One season with 40-plus home runs, three seasons with 30-plus home runs and eight seasons with 20-plus home runs…Nine consecutive seasons of 30-plus doubles and five consecutive seasons of 100-plus RBI… Six seasons batting .300 or better, with a career average of .299… Named to four All-Star teams (1994-96, 1998)… One NL Division series (1995): batted .588 with 10 hits, including three doubles and a home run, in 17 LDS at-bats.
Think anyone will vote for him? (If so, is that grounds for getting kicked out of the BBWAA?)

Update: as of now, 374 voters in ESPN's poll think he should get in. Hopefully most of them are smartasses like me. Man, I wish I had more time to keep voting until he gets the required 75%.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Here we go again

The "Manny is about to be traded" rumors are bigger than ever. I suppose that means something (though the media always has to make the newest rumor seem bigger than the last). I just don't get it - so far none of the options seem like good trades at all. Moreover, Manny's contract looks better than it ever has - way crappier players like Soriano are now getting almost as much, and Manny's contract is no longer a huge multiyear deal. And the thought of J.D. Drew (or whoever) providing "protection" for Ortiz is just laughable. Yikes.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Its that time again

Book Review.

This month’s entry. The Blind Side by Michael Lewis.

A football story that simultaneously focuses on two somewhat related stories. It is the story of Michael Oher a 6-5 350 pound African American form the inner city, with absolutely no family, no education, nothing. He gets “adopted” by a wealthy family who send him to an exclusive Christian school in Memphis and transform him into an elite athlete, passable student and caring human. The somewhat related story is the evolution of the Left Tackle position on football and its importance in the game (protecting the QBs “blind side.”)

Of course the publisher is going to sell this up as doing for Football what Moneyball did for Baseball. It won’t. But it is a good read. And Lewis is back to his much more entertaining style of writing that he seemed to have lost in his last book. Funny thing about Blind Side is that he stumbled on Oher when he was writing Coach – the adoptive parent was one of Lewis’ friends from High School that he contacted to write the story of their coach.

Plus, I always have thought it was pretty cool that he is married to Tabitha Soren from MTV fame. Overall a pretty good book.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mourneau. MVP.

Nice. Very nice.

Hoo boy

Leave it to the Chicago Cubs to make Todd Helton's ridiculous contract seem reasonable, and the $51M posting fee for Matsuzaka a downright bargain. $136M for eight years? For a 30-year old? Who can't play defense? I doubt I have anything to say that others haven't said already, but so far I haven't found anyone who thinks this is a great idea for the Cubs...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fun with Numbers

Courtesy of Joe Borowski, who reports "I think of the 30 closers in the league, 99.5 percent of them have better stuff than I do. But my attitude, my heart, my desire, and my knowledge in how to get hitters out gets the job done. "

I'm guessing Joe was not a math major at Rutgers. Joe must have been saying that every closer has better stuff than him. Either that, or he watched Todd Jones this season, he realizes that Armando Benitez still sucks or perhaps he was watching the Tribe during the week they tried the Fausto Carmino experiment, which means he really should have said "I think of the 30 closers in the league, 96.5 percent of them have better stuff than I do." But that probably does not make as good of copy.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"You know, you're actually quite sexy..."

This is almost a month old, but we barely touched on it: MLB and MLBPA announced a new CBA for the next five years, with surprisingly little trouble. I guess when the owners are consigned to higher salaries, and the players are consigned to drug tests, they don't have too much to argue about. And everyone's a winner - millionaires AND billionaires alike! The luxury tax continues, but the thresholds keep increasing, up to $178M in 2011 (an increase of $40M over this year). Minimum salaries go up also, to $400,000 in 2009 for major leaguers and $65,000 in 2009 for minor leaguers (I think the era of minor league players "struggling to make ends meet" is officially over). But what's most interesting to me is the new draft compensation rules: it looks like those are being slowly phased out....
1. Type C free agents eliminated in 2006
2. Also in 2006, compensation for type B players becomes indirect (sandwich pick) as opposed to direct compensation from signing Club.
3. Effective 2007, Type A players limited to top 20 percent of each position (down from 30 percent) and Type B players become 21 percent - 40 percent at each position (rather than 31 percent - 50 percent).
This really might change the dynamics of free agency. I like the idea of compensation picks; I have no data to back this up but I think it's a much more effective way to achieve parity than revenue sharing or the luxury tax. These changes certainly benefits teams who love free agents (Yankees), but they seem to be pretty devastating for teams which rely on young players with relatively small salaries (A's). For the Sox it seems to be a pretty mixed bag - on one hand, they certainly rely on free agents...but on the other hand, as X has pointed out more than once, compensation picks seem to be a pretty important part of the FO's plan for building a strong farm system. Not sure I like this change...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dr. Z

The guy behind Lucchino and Henry (the one who's trying to catch a marshmallow in his mouth) is Andrew Zimbalist, "one of the world's foremost experts on the economics of professional sports". At least that's what he was called on NPR today. My question is: "one of the foremost experts"? Judging from the national media, surely he's the only one. Really, in news reports, have you heard discussions of the economics of sports from anyone else? Anyhow, I don't know how he finds time to teach (he's a professor at Smith College) or write (he's written 14 books), because he seems to give interviews to freakin' everyone. He's quoted in 35 newpaper articles in the last month alone, covering topics like the Olympics, coaches' salaries, stadium funding, and of course Daisuke Matsuzaka. He's been arguing that Matsuzaka's appeal in Japan will bring the Sox maybe $3M/year. Maybe he's right...but where the hell does that number come from? I'm sure it's based on some real data/calculations, but I have no idea what those might be. But of course, when he gives some numbers, they go unquestioned. The media never ask (or aren't interested in reporting) about the source of his numbers, and apparently can't (or won't) find anyone to give a second opinion. So seriously, does nobody else study the economics of sports? Or do those people exist, but just don't give interviews?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We Win. We win.

Now the funny part is Yankee fans will say the Sox can never complain about how much they spend. Okay, even if we add the entire $51 Million to the Sox payroll from last year, it would still come up short.

Two funny things on today:

1. this poll. Question 7 is a tough one. If the Red Sox are able to sign Matsuzaka, how will they fare in 2007?
Reach world series
Al champion
AL East Champion
Miss Playoffs.

Hmmm. I'm having trouble deciding between the first two.

2. had a little link to a page where they proudly noted that their panel of Experts correctly predicted Webb would win Cy Young. Funny how we didn't see that for their post season picks.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


If dollars are generally equal (i.e., 5 years $15 MM), would you rather have JD Drew (a monster bat that absolutely provides protection for Manny and Papi, but is also likely to miss 30 games per season or even a huge chunk of at least one entire season) or a Carlos Lee or Soriano (a much lesser bat that does not exactly fit the organization philosophy of patience, etc.)

I know the instinct might be to take the more sure thing. But if the goal is to win a WS, I think I might choose Drew. Sure one or two years he may leave us frustrated as hell, but if he puts it together in a few of those years, you have to like that 3-4-5.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


That tony Maz is an idiot. From today's article:

"It also has been widely speculated that Foulke has been unhappy playing in Boston over the last two seasons."

really? Speculated? I guess that is Tony covering his butt or something. I would say it would have been safe to say that Foulke hated playing in Boston, openly feuded with the media, and very frequently had contempt for the fans and the attention the team received. And I don't think anyone would have denied it. But tony apparently took a safer route.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Shake it up

Maybe Theo has been reading GYS and was acting in response to Grieve's post. According to reports on ESPN, the Sox are the top bidder for Matsuzaka - at around $40 MM just for the post.

That plus say,4 years/$40 MM bring the total to a whopping $80 million for 4 years. I bet Zito is licking his chops. Of course nothing is guaranteed until it is signed sealed delivered... Lets just hope he is more Nomo than Irabu.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hot Stove on low heat

Timlin, Wakefield, Cora??? Wow, this is worse than I thought. I realize that the Hot Stove has just been lit, but how can this version of the Sox be rebuilt in one off-season?

In my opinion, it can't. For a team looking to get better, I can see holding on to Wakefield, but Timlin? The guy was solid in years past, but his injury last year really took something out of him. Maybe he'll get it back, but more than likely he is headed the way of Embree. Bad signing.

Cora is a great backup infielder, no doubt about that. He shows patience at the plate, and can play both SS and 2B. However, how many light hitting (read :no power), middle infielders do the Sox need? Perhaps he is insurance for Pedroia. However, the Sox are looking to re-sign Gonzalez, and they are still speaking with Loretta. With Youk staying at first, this is an infield with no power (and this includes Lowell at third).

But what are the alternatives? The Sox seem to really like Youkilis at first. The guy is a gamer, no doubt. But the Sox need another huge bat on the infield. They are looking at a Japanese player with some power as a possible upgrade over Lowell. But take a look at Matsui. I'd love to have him in the Sox outfield, but the guy is not a "power" hitter. If they re-sign Gonzalez, have Pedroia play second, Youk and first and Lowell at third, how many homers do you see out of those guys combined? 55? 60? Let's not even speak of the combined averages of Gonzalez and Pedroia.

Varitek had a down year offensively, and looking at how far behind on fastballs his swing was, I can't see him getting much better this year. They have a very young backup (acquired in the trade for Wells), but how much time is he going to see? How much power from Tek and the new guy? 15-20 Hrs?

Now to the outfield. Manny will be back. Coco in CF. And there is a right-field position open. It is obvious that the Sox need not only someone with a good arm out there, but also a lot of power. This is, of course, the reason the Yankees exercised Sheffield's option. Not sure who else is available that could fit this bill, but this has to be a position on which the Sox focus.

Prospective lineup:

Wow, that bottom of the order is not good. A solid hitting middle-infielder could do wonders down there. Also, and I know that his fielding is questionable, but wouldn't Soriano in the 2-spot or 5-spot make you feel much better about this lineup?

So, seeing that there are many, many holes to fill on this team, what is the one move that could really make them a contender? The answer there is a top starting pitcher. This means a legit #1. And you give up a lot to get it. If you get a horse that throws 7-innings of nearly lights-out ball 4 out of 5 starts, then go to Schilling, then Beckett, and have Papelbon and Wakefield at the back-end of your rotation, you can get away with a weaker pen. Delcarmen, Hansen, Tavarez, and Timlin don't look too bad at that point, and the weaker hitting infielders aren't so glaring.

So, what's the point of all this? Well, as the Sox sit right now, don't hold your breath for next year. There are a ton of questions, and not many available "exciting" players to fill them.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Is it just me

Or am I the only one that gets a kick out of all these articles about how the owners are awash with cash and therefore the FA class this year is going to see some ridiculous contracts. As if this is anything new. In the past two years, we have seen the Beltran contract at over $100 MM sky rocket based on one great month in the playoffs, and the following players getting five guaranteed years. Magglio coming off injury, injury prone JD Drew (with the option of declaring FA after two – real nice upside for the player there), Beltre after one career year, an and Millwood. And of course, a little less than a year ago, everyone was saying how crazy Riccardi was to go five years on Ryan and Burnett. Hey, I actually supported him on that front, recognizing that they needed to pay extra to get guys to come to Toronto, plus they had some excess cash after their owner pledged to increase payroll and while we all laughed about it at the time, there is some marketing advantage to them finishing ahead of the Sox.

But now, we are seeing a number of references to these two signings in the context of this year’s FA class. As in, getting these two guys at these prices was the result of foresight into the 2007 FA class (i.e., Riccardi knew this year was thin, so he made his moves last offseason. Please, stop. Giving 5 guaranteed years to a starter with a history of injury (only one season with no time missed due to injury) is not genius. It’s a gamble. And one Riccardi knew he had to take. And while Ryan may have been a better signing, he had only been a closer for one year. And we all know how closers can lose their effectiveness as quickly as the gain it. In fact, take a list of all teams and take a guess how many have had the same closer the last three years *(defined as one pitcher getting 90% of their saves in that period) and I’ll show you a list with only the Yankees, Minnesota and the Padres. That is it. Three teams.

So when the media start going nuts about Jeff Suppan getting 3 or 4 years or Soraino and Lee getting close to $100 Million, is it really surprising? Or even that new?

World Series wrap-up

From the Onion:

"I don't know what we could've done differently," second-baseman Ronnie Belliard said. "We gave the Tigers every opportunity to win ballgames, but when their pitchers keep making errors on simple ground balls, what are we supposed to do, pretend we forgot the rules and start running to third base?"

Desperate for a Tigers win in Game 2, the Cardinals chose to overlook the fact that starter Kenny Rogers was pitching with the aid of a foreign substance on his left hand.

"Of course we all knew it was pine tar, but it seemed like they were finally finding their rhythm… We certainly didn't want to shake their confidence, so we decided to just let it go," La Russa said. "Frankly, if the umpires didn't bring it up, we probably would've let him pitch with it the whole game."

This is pretty good also.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Happy news

I'm pretty freaked out about tomorrow's election - a bad feeling it's not going to turn out as well as I'd hoped - but focusing on good news: at the very least, Gary Sheffield will not play for Boston next year. Thank God. I hate forcing to root for guys I can't stand (Carl Everett, anyone?) I haven't been keeping up with the story too much, but there are two big questions I have about the whole Sheffield thing:
  1. Was the Sox front office really that interested in him?
  2. Why didn't the Yanks just pick up his option in May? By forcing him to wait all this time, allowing for the return of the old Sheffield we've all come to know and loathe, didn't they seriously reduce his trade value?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Load Of Crapola

Jeter wins the Gold Glove???
That's it...This award means absolutely nothing.

He had twice as many errors as Gonzalez, and certainly not the range.

And this is voted on by the players and managers.

That's a shame...Gonzalez owns that position.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Predictions, revisited

Well, at least we got one postseason prediction right...

Dino, October 2: "Which Detroit team will show up?"

X, October 2: "The Tigers."

New York Times, November 1: "An entry in the News Summary on Saturday misstated the name of the team that the St. Louis Cardinals defeated to win the World Series. It was the Detroit Tigers, not the Detroit Lions."