November 2006

November 30, 2006

 

Hideki Okajima

 

Update: From the AP, the deal is as follows:

 

2-yr, $2.5m with a team option for 2009 of $1.75m.

 

Wow, that is much less than I thought it’d be. A total of $4.25m over 3 seasons. Interesting. I have little knowledge of the salary structure in Japanse baseball other than I know the posting fee for Matsuzaka was something like 3 times the size of the Seibu Lions payroll. So a deal like this for Okajima is proably a bit of a raise for him.

 

———

 

The Red Sox signed Japanese lefty reliever Hideki Okajima. Okajima played for, my favorite team name, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in 2006.

 

He got a 2-yr deal, no word on the money involved. My guess is 2-yr, $5m total.

 

He’s not the pitcher we hope to have wrapped up already, but he is a start.

 

Posted by Andy at 05:56 PM | Comments (6)

J.D. Drew

 

This J.D. Drew thing has taken on a strange tone. Yesterday, veteran Globe columnist pleaded with Theo Epstein not sign J.D. Drew (I like the impartial reporting Bob…). Today, on Boston Dirt Dogs, a link to a "Don’t Sign Drew" petition appeared.

 

What gives?

 

No matter whether Manny Ramirez stays or goes, how can any sane fan argue that the Red Sox are not a better team with Drew than without? Even if he plays only 120 games, he is a very good hitter. My guess here is that people haven’t gotten used to the $ being thrown around baseball this year. The Boston Herald reported on its blog that Drew has been all but signed to a 4-yr, $56m deal with perhaps a 5th year team option.

 

Is that a ton of cash? Yes, but is it necessary to sign a good bat, probably. If your thought is to wait until 2007 to sign a free agent RF, then you are probably going to be faced with the same dilemna. Tons of cash available, many teams with many holes and too few players to fill the holes.

 

Additionally, Drew has been labeled a loner and someone who doesn’t always give it his all. I cannot verify any of that. I’ve heard those that support that and those who do not (Curt Schilling on WEEI said Drew is one of those naturally gifted athletes that makes things look easy, thus the lazy tag). Fact is, while I’d prefer Andruw Jones, that isn’t happening right now, so Drew is the next best available option. He doesn’t cost prospects or draft picks and given the adjustment to salaries, his compensation doesn’t look all that bad. Wait, I’m lying, his compensation still looks bad, but I stand by the fact I’d rather then sign him than not.

 

In an ideal world, we’d have Ortiz, Manny, Drew hitting 3-4-5. Whether Manny is here or not remains to be seen.

 

Epstein hinted that we might get news on one free agent before the Winter Meetings start on December 4th and might get news on another before they end on December 7th.

 

Posted by Andy at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)

November 29, 2006

 

Idle Time

 

UPDATE: In reference to why the Red Sox are delaying the signing of J.D. Drew (or the announcement), I indicated it was because the Red Sox wanted to see if the Dodgers were going to offer arbitration, thus requiring the Red Sox to give up draft compensation (their 1st round pick and 1 supplemental pick).

 

Well, Sean McAdam on WEEI today said that Scott Boras, Drew’s agent, put a clause into Drew’s contract that the Dodgers could NOT offer salary arbitration, thus freeing the Red Sox of any compensation requirement. That in itself makes Drew worth more than his equal who would require compensation. It also shows that Boras is a genius and that the Red Sox have no good reason to delay the announcement.

 

—-

 

So much news, so little action.

 

I’ve been out of it for the past 2-3 days, so let me catch up on things:

 

- Matsuzaka has been formally offered a contract
- Red Sox appear close to a 5-yr, $70m deal for J.D. Drew
- Manny Ramirez on the way out of town
- Hideki Okajima close to a 2-yr deal with the Red Sox
- Misc

 

The Red Sox have formally offered Daisuke Matsuzaka a contract offer believed to be worth $8m a year or so. Matsuzaka’s agent, Scott Boros, is said to be looking for $16m a year. As you can see, there is a divide.

 

Speculation has it that the Red Sox or Boras will ask the Matsuzaka’s current team, the Seibu Lions, to kick on some $ towards his contract. But MLB has made in clear that any side deal would be unacceptable. Interesting.

 

I have to assume, the Red Sox are not going to budge. They have all of the leverage here. Boras will do what he can, but in the end he has 2 choices, take what is offered, or let Matsuzaka go back to Japan, something he does not want to do.

 

The Boston Globe is reporting the Red Sox are close to signing J.D. Drew to a 5-yr, $70m deal. That works out to $14m a season. What I’ve heard most about this deal is that the Red Sox were unwilling to give Johnny Damon $13m a year, but they are willing to give a lesser player $14m a year just 365 days later.

 

The only problem with that logic is that the market has changed. Gary Matthews Jr. is a prime example. He just signed a 5-yr, $50m deal with LAA. Mathews sports a career .336 OBP and .419 SLG. If that is worth $10m a year, certainly Drew’s .393 OBP and .512 SLG must be worth $14m, no? I have to conclude that people more mad at the current market than at signing J.D. Drew for $14m a year.

 

As for the specifics of signing Drew, it won’t happen until after December 1 as the Red Sox want to see if the L.A. Dodgers offer him arbitration, thus determining if they owe compensation or not.

 

Many reports have the Red Sox shipping Manny Ramirez out in the next 10 days. Can his bat be replaced? No. Is he such a distraction in the clubhouse that this makes sense? We’ll never know.

 

The Red Sox, if you believe media reports, are eager to move him. Knowing they will never get equal value, I think most people better be ready for a bunch of good prospects and maybe a solid contributor or role player. I won’t waste any more of your time on this until we get some concrete info.

 

Boston is apparently close to signing lefty Hideki Okajima from Japan. He is a free agent, therefore does not have to go through the posting process. Scouting report: Umm, I had never heard of him until I read Boston Dirt Dogs. DBB has a contributing editor who writes for Japaneseballplayers.com who has the following to say:

 

Hideki Okajima, a 30-year-old lefthanded-specialist relief pitcher, is a three-time Japan Series winner, twice with the Yomiuri Giants in 2000 and 2002 (he was a teammate of Hideki Matsui, who he would be facing a lot, if signed), and this year (2006) with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

 

Okajima has faced tough lefty opponents in critical situations out of the ‘pen and proven his ability in Japan. He has a "big" curve, which is tough for lefthanded batters to hit, and he’s held lefty hitters to less than a .200 average in ’05 and ’06. Okajima’s last three years of innings pitched (IP), bases on balls (BB), and strikeouts (SO).

This move makes sense on many levels. First off, if he is a decent pitcher, great, especially since it won’t break the bank. Secondly, having Okajima around will only make Matsuzaka’s transition, if he ever gets here, easier one would think.

 

By the way, I’m beginning to think every other player from Japan is named Hideki (Irabu, Matsui, Okajima).

 

Some miscellaneous things. The Yankees won the bidding/posting process for Kei Igawa. The posted $26m for him. Considering the Yankees posted $33m for Matsuzaka, from all reports, the much better pitcher, this goes to show how the Red Sox bid of $51.1m for Matsuzaka changed the landscape. Or, as Peter points out, it tells us George Steinbrenner has recovered, had a cup of coffee and is again calling the shots for the Yankees, results be damned.

 

Igawa is a lefty and just one year older than Matsuzaka. The funny thing about this is that no one really knows how either will fair in MLB next season. Igawa might be the much better pitcher, but at much less cost. Who knows? The money being thrown about is off the charts.

 

Posted by Andy at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2006

 

Constructing the 2007 Red Sox Line-Up

 

There hasn’t been much concrete information to talk about of late. The Boston Globe says the Red Sox are quietly making progress on a J.D. Drew deal, but that the length of contract is a sticking point.

 

To waste some time, I thought I’d construct the line-up for the 2007 Red Sox based on what we’ve been hearing.

 

Additions:
J.D. Drew
Julio Lugo

 

Ok, if the Red Sox did sign those 2, I would make my line-up look like this (not including any platooning opportunities).

 

1b – Youkilis
ss – Lugo
dh – Ortiz
lf – Ramirez
rf – Drew
3b – Lowell
cf – Crisp
c – Varitek
2b – Pedroia

 

It pains me to drop Varitek that low, but he is probably not going to get much better unless 2006 was the result of injury. Crisp I am expecting a bounce-back year because at least some of his trouble can be attributed to his finger injury and how can’t a player bounce back from such a terrible season?

 

Pedroia could easily move to the 2nd spot if he comes anywhere close to his minor league numbers in OBP.

 

Pedroia’s career OBP by season:

 

2002 NCAA – .432 in 58 games
2003 NCAA – .570 in 68 games
2004 NCAA – .645 in 53 games
2004 Augusta A – .560 in 12 games
2004 Sarasota A – .523 in 30 games
2004 Scottsdale – Fall League – .370 in 16 games
2005 Portland AA – .409 in 66 games
2005 Pawtucket AAA – .356 in 51 games
2006 Pawtucket AAA – .384 in 111 games

 

By the way, check out the Pedroia link and the photo they have. If that is Pedroia, he did some serious maturing since the season ended. In fact, Pedroia looks about half this guy’s age.

 

But it seems Pedroia’s OBP developement has slowed since joining AAA. The numbers are still nice, but not indicative of a player that will be .400 and above at the Major League level. Still, there is a good chance he’ll do better in that catagory than will Lugo.

 

For those wondering why I’m caught up on OBP at the top of the order? Well, first off, you’ve never read this site and secondly, give that the Red Sox are not a running team, overall speed isn’t that important. Couple with that the fact Boston has 2 very good hitters in Ortiz and Ramirez (for now) that drive in a ton of runs. It would make sense to have as many guys on base for them as possible, no?

 

I’m sure most of you are on board with this notion. Back to speed, even if the Red Sox did have some speed and used it frequently, there is a general rule that says you need to be successful 75% of the time or greater otherwise you are actually hurting your team by generating too high a rate of outs when attemtping a stolen base (check out this thread on Baseball-Fever.com, interesting discussion on stolen bases).

 

Terry Francona knows this and would be reluctant to send his guys if it was likely to negatively impact the chances of scoring. I’ve talked about this concept before and this post has an exhibit I lifted from a very good book.

 

Anyway, my point, albeit unnecessarily long-winded, is that OBP is far more important than speed, especially to the Boston Red Sox and their current management group.

 

All I know is that the line-up I listed above would probably score more runs than the 2006 edition. Of course the 2006 edition wasn’t so bad up until mid-August or so.

 

There you have it, some filler until we get some actual news.

 

Posted by Andy at 02:45 PM | Comments (4)

November 20, 2006

 

Baseball Economics

 

It appears the MLB player salary scale has changed. If you listen to the rumors being discussed and the actually signings, players stand to make much more in 2007 than they did in 2006.

 

This leads me to wonder whether $15m a season is so much for J.D. Drew and $51.1m is too much to bid for an unproven pitcher from Japan. Considering this free agent class is generally considered weak for bats and average at best for arms, I think the money we’ve been seeing proves baseball is financially very healthy and players are going to get richer.

 

Salaries have basically increased year after year, save perhaps a blip from 2001-2004, since the onset of free agency. With that, I suppose we could have expected the inflated numbers we’ve been seeing.

 

If Alfonso Soriano is worth $17m a season (at age 31) for 8 seasons, then why is Drew for 2 – 4 years at $15m crazy? If baseball keeps up with their revenue trends, then the players will just keep making more and more while the fans and media outlets pay more and more. Inflation has been slightly over 3% for the past 50 years in the US. With that we shouldn’t be surprised at MLB salaries growing too.

 

These contracts seem crazy today, but might seem like bargains in 5 or 6 seasons (just look at Manny’s deal). There is a reason the new salary cap is at $148m for 2007 (up over $15m from last season).

 

So get to it Boston, nail down Drew for $15m a year, Daisuke Matsuzaka for $30m a season (factoring in the posting bid) and perhaps re-sign Doug Mirabelli for $5m a year. Can’t the Red Sox cough up $3m or $4m for Mark Bellhorn? Get to it!

 

Posted by Andy at 09:39 PM | Comments (5)

November 19, 2006

 

Manny: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

 

Ever since John Henry and co. bought the Red Sox and especially since Theo Epstein was named GM, there has been an effort to move Manny Ramirez. The reasons are many:

 

A.) He’s expensive.
B.) He mails it in on occasion.
C.) He plays for one thing, himself.
D.) He’s a pain in the arse.

 

I think every Red Sox fan has had at least one moment when he/she just wanted to send Manny away, to anyone. At the same time, there is no argument that Manny is an elite hitter. His consistency is remarkable and his ability to set up pitchers second to none.

 

So the scale delicately balances his flaws and his strengths.

 

Now the Red Sox are preparing for the 2007 season and Manny Ramirez has only 2 years left on his contract. With a contract that once called for the Red Sox to pay $160 million over 8 seasons only $38 million or so is due over the remainder. Reports have Alfonso Soriano signing with the Chicago Cubs, at age 30 (he’ll turn 31 in January) for 8-years and $137 million. Soriano is a very good hitter in his own right, but not on the same level as Ramirez. Given the amount being thrown at less-than-Manny-type-hitters, the market for Ramirez is higher than it’s ever been. If Boston really wants to get rid of him, now is their chance.

 

When Epstein first became GM, he wanted Manny gone and Manny couldn’t wait to leave town. Epstein taught Manny, or at least his representation as I’m not sure Manny understands anything other than hitting a baseball very far, that no team wanted him and his contract. Boston placed Manny on Irrevocable Waivers. Being placed on Irrevocable Waivers meant that any of the other MLB teams could have claimed Manny without giving Boston any compensation, the only obligation would have been to assume his entire contract.

 

Well that was a few years ago and now Manny’s contract looks palatable. Does Boston still want to move him? There have been reports that players and management alike have grown tired of his act. Yet Epstein publicly says they are always listening, but not actively trying to move Ramirez.

 

Moving Manny would leave an enormous hole in the line-up. Even if the Red Sox signed a Carlos Lee or J.D. Drew, neither could provide the same protection Ramirez provides David Ortiz. Nor would the opposition spend as much time psyching themselves out worrying about the Ortiz-Ramirez combo.

 

My take is that unless the Red Sox can get dollar for dollar return for Manny, it just isn’t worth moving him. I understand he is a distraction, but I also understand he posts a 1.000 OPS and drives in 100+ runs each year. Short of Albert Pujols and, well, Albert Pujols, no one hits as consistency well as Ramirez.

 

Knowing Boston can’t get Pujols, it seems certain a Manny trade would likely bring a combo of pitchers and prospects and that the only way to replace his bat would be via additional trades and free agent signings combined, a tall order.

 

The idea of freeing themselves of Manny and all that he represents is tempting, but unless the trade makes the Red Sox as strong as they were with him in the line-up, I can’t endorse moving him.

 

Posted by Andy at 07:44 PM | Comments (9)

November 18, 2006

 

Nixon vs. Drew

 

J.D. Drew may or may not be playing for the Red Sox in 2007. What has surprised most of us is the amount of money it is being reported that it will take to sign him. I’ve heard:

 

4 years, $56m
4 years, $48m
2 years, $30m

 

Considering many were surprised Drew opted out of his 3 year, $33m deal, if any of these rumors are true, it might be a good move for him.

 

The biggest complaint about signing Drew is that most feel Trot Nixon is just as good a player as Drew all things being equal (just listen to WEEI). Add to it Nixon would probably sign for much less.

 

Let’s analyze the two players.

 

Baseball-Reference.com list the player most similar to J.D. Drew as, who else, Trot Nixon (thanks D.S. for pointing that out). Drew ranks as the 7th most similar player to Nixon.

 

So based on cumulative performance, they seem similar. The problem is, the most similar player doesn’t have to be alive anymore. That is to say, this tool only captures a player’s total performance, no matter when he played. So Bob Nieman and Trot Nixon are listed as similar players, even though Nieman played his last game in 1962.

 

A more appropriate thing to do would be to perhaps look at recent performance for Drew and Nixon.

 

Past 3 seasons:

 

TNixon: .278/.367/.435 147 runs, 27 HRs, 142 RBI, 128 BB, 139 K’s
JDDrew: .293/.415/.532 250 runs, 66 HRs, 229 RBI, 258 BB, 272 K’s

 

There is no argument that Drew not only wins this comparison, but it really isn’t close. Many will say that Nixon’s injuries are the reason he didn’t have higher stat totals. Well sure, but isn’t that the knock on Drew too, the fact he is injury prone? If you point that at Drew, you have to do the same with Nixon. In fact, Drew has played 363 games over the past 3 seasons, Nixon 286. So Drew has proven the better offensive player and the more durable. Add to it Nixon’s .620 OPS vs. Lefties over the past 3 season compared to Drew’s .814 OPS vs. Lefties. With Nixon, you have a RF that will need a platoon partner.

 

For all of the Nixon fans out there, I think it is time to face facts, Nixon is a fantastic individual, but his baseball skills have tailed off. He had a run of 3 good years from 2001-2003 (and 2002 wasn’t that great). Nixon works hard, but doesn’t have the same octane left in the tank. Even though he is only 1 1/2 years older than Drew, salaries not withstanding, I’d take Drew 10 times out of 10.

 

But, I can’t just take salaries out of it. The idea of paying Drew $15m a year is tough to take. While he has been the much better player since 2004, he still has his minuses. He isn’t exactly durable compared to what you’d like out of a starter and despite enourmous skill, reports suggest he isn’t always interested in playing baseball. That characteristic will go over very well in Boston, no?

 

I like the idea of Drew playing RF for Boston next year, I just don’t like the idea of giving him $15m a year. What annual figure would I be happy with? $10m or $11m, but I know that since he had $11m guaranteed on the table, he won’t settle for anything less than $12m.

 

The Red Sox front office has been doing some strange things lately. At least they seem strange from the outside looking in. Rob Neyer had an interesting take in his latest piece. (registration required, although it has been "free" on the weekends of late). Neyer basically says that from what he can tell, the posting fee for Diasuke Matsuzaka seems outragous, but then he acknowledges that the Red Sox "rarely behave irrationally" and wonders if they know something the rest of don’t. Let’s hope so because if not, given the rumors we are reading about, the $ they are tossing around is so big, it leads to the concern about future financial flexibility.

 

Let’s hope they know what they are doing with Drew and more importantly, before we cast final judgement, let’s see what really happens.

 

Update: For those hoping the Red Sox would re-sign Alex Gonzalez, too late, the Cincinnati Reds just inked him to a 3-year $14m deal.

 

Posted by Andy at 01:49 PM | Comments (5)

November 17, 2006

 

Predictions – Bill James

 

The Bill James Handbook 2007 is out (Manny is on the back cover). I’ve said it before, but it needs to be said over and over. This book is kicks Butte.

 

It has a complete registry of current players of course, but also includes splits, ballpark info, manager tendencies, projections and much more.

 

Of greatest importance, Bill James takes a stab at projecting batter performance (he doesn’t want a anything to do with pitcher projections feeling it cannot be done, so he leaves that to others). Here is a quick look at what he has in mind for the Red Sox players we know to be on the roster today.

 

2007 Projections from Bill James:

 

Kevin Youkilis: .283/.395/.433, 101 runs, 14 HR, 103 BB
Dustin Pedroia: .284/.355/.418, 79 runs, 72 Rbi, 67 BB
David Ortiz: .285/.391/.592, 110 runs, 47 HR, 138 RBI, 103 BB
Manny Ramirez: .305/.414/.590, 94 runs, 37 HR, 118 RBI, 90 BB
Jason Varitek: .259/.343/.434, 17 HR, 56 BB
Mike Lowell: .273/.341/.452, 18 HR, 77 RBI
Coco Crisp: .284/.337/.419, 74 Runs, 23 SBs

 

I’d be happy with the preformance for You, Pedroia (.355 OBP? I’d take it for essentially a rookie), Ortiz, Manny and Lowell. Varitek’s show what we’ve been talking about since he signed his big deal. Catchers do not go gracefully into the night. They tend to fall off the face of the earth. Varitek’s aren’t terrible numbers, but a far cry from what we saw earlier this decade. As for Crisp, I’d be disappointed if that’s all he does. That OBP is not good for a veteran and there is little else.

 

Based on these projections alone, it shows the Red Sox line-up to be top heavy. That is to say, once you get past the first 4 or so, a pitcher can take a break. The Red Sox line-ups from 2004 and the current Yankees line-up don’t allow for such breaks.

 

With talk of J.D. Drew joining the ranks, forget about his pricetag, the Red Sox line-up would look much better.

 

J.D. Drew Projections: .283/.398/.493, 24 HRs, 92 runs, 82 rbi, 91 BB

 

He’d be a nice addition. You can see the line-up is projected to walk a ton keeping the overall team OBP at a high level. OBP is a key to a Theo Epstein, Bill James and John Henry team.

 

Anyway, the Bill James book is a great addition to your baseball library.

 

As for stuff we know, Alex Cora was officially inked today to a 2-year deal. The reports are that it is for $4m total.

 

That’s all we know for now.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2006

 

Can Matsuzaka be Signed?

 

I’m starting to think that perhaps the $51.1m bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka’s negotiation rights was more for blocking purposes than anything else.

 

The have seen so many speculative reports as to what Scott Boras will ask for ranging from a 2 year deal with a free agency clause to a 6 year deal. The annual figures have been betwee $7m a year and $16m a year.

 

If Boras is firm on a $16 deal for 2 years, then it means the Red Sox paid $83.1m for a 2 year deal. $41.5m per season? Does that make sense? Even Boras has to see that is a joke. For this to be a good deal for Boston, they need to sign him to 4 years minimum. That would put Matsuzaka at 30 years old. Plus it gives more time to spread out that bid fee (at least psychologically).

 

The numbers are staggering, so I hope they know what they are doing if they do indeed sign him. Andrew Zimbalist, a baseball economist, says that if the Red Sox do strike a deal to broadcast NESN in Japan, they stand only to gain $3m a year. Alternatively, I’ve heard that the Yankees, through TV ad space and other marketing make $21m a year on Hideki Matsui. So I imagine the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

 

If the season started today with Matsuzaka signed, here is the rotation in no particular order:

 

Schilling
Beckett
Wakefield
Papelbon
Matsuzaka

 

That looks good, but realistically, all of these guys has a question mark. Schilling is 40, Beckett was not good last year, Wakefield is 41, Papelbon is making a significant transition from closer to starter and Matsuzaka, well, he’s never pitched in the big leagues.

 

While I doubt all of these guys will struggle, I wouldn’t surprised if some of them do. Then again, that can be said for all rotations, not just Boston’s.

 

Posted by Andy at 12:33 PM | Comments (2)

November 14, 2006

 

Done Deal

 

It’s official, the Red Sox won the bidding war for the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka. MLB.com has been reporting on this live and perhaps you can get some archives.

 

Not included or made available tonight is what exactly Boston bid. That should bubble up to the surface soon, but as of now, no one is saying. Word has it that it is somewhere between $42m and $50+m.

 

Now that the Red Sox have the rights to negotiate, the wind is taken out of their sails a bit as reality sets in…Scott Boros is Matsuzaka’s agent. Boros is not an easy agent to deal with nor is he reasonable. With that in mind, I am fully prepared for 2007 without Matsuzaka on the Red Sox and at the very least, a negotiation that lasts the full 30 days. I just don’t think this will go smoothly.

 

No matter, step one is done, now sign the guy.

 

Update: ESPN is reporting the winning bid was $51.1m. That is some serious cake. There is no source for that figure, but I’ll believe such a specific number.

 

Props to Buster Olney for breaking the story, albeit in a very cautious way, usings phrases like "the Red Sox might have the high bid." Also props to Orestes Destrade for being closest to the bid amount.

 

Posted by Andy at 09:00 PM | Comments (6)

November 13, 2006

 

GM Meetings 2006 – Red Sox Rumors Day One

 

The following info has, for the most part, been taken from other outlets and compiled for your convenience. I have added some of my own opinions too. Nick Cafardo of the Globe and Michael Silverman of the Herald are giving updates on their respective employers websites. Please check them out with the links I provided in my last post.

 

Here is what I have determined: The Seibu Lions will hold a press conference tonight at 8pm ET or tomorrow night at 8pm ET. Cafardo thinks it is tonight while Silverman thinks it is tomorrow night. The confusion exists most likely because of the 14 hour time difference. I have to imagine it is 8pm est tonight (Monday) because the Lions had a deadline of Tuesday their time, so holding a press conference tomorrow night our time would really be Wednesday their time thus past the deadline. So there you go.

 

Cafardo is reporting that the player the Red Sox made a FA offer to was J.D. Drew, no surprise. Remember, you read it here first, the Red Sox and Scott Boros are intwined in an elaborate conspiracy theory.

 

UPDATE 3:04pm ET: ESPN’s Peter Gammons is reporting that the Red Sox are the highest bidder with a bid of $42m. "Sources told Gammons" was how they sources the news. So now Buster Olney and Peter Gammons are reporting the Red Sox were winners.

 

2nd UPDATE – 3:37pm ET: Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe is reporting that ESPN’s Baseball Tonight analyst, Orestes Destrade, formerly of the Japanese Baseball Leagues, is hearing it from his old contacts that the Red Sox won the Matsuzaka contest with a bid of $more than $50m!!! Wow! In addition, David Lefort, also of the Globe, has updated the Globe blog to indicate that the announcement will indeed come Tuesday, 8pm ET and not tonight with the both MLB and the Japanese Commissioners Office holding simultaneous announcements. Peter Gammons is the source behind this info.

 

Again, the Boston Globe’s Extra Bases Blog has had far and away the most info on this issue. It appears they have at least 3 reporters in Naples digging around for info.

 

Posted by Andy at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

The Watch Continues…

 

Ok, word around baseball is that the Seibu Lions will be meeting Tuesday AM their time to discuss this matter. It is about time too considering their deadline is Tuesday at some hour.

 

That means we should know something tonight. They are 14 hours ahead, so an 8am meeting in Japan is 6pm for us Monday. So if the meeting lasts 2-3 hours, we could start to see news leak out at around 8-9pm tonight.

 

This is crazy and I have to admit, I’ve gotten a bit caught up in the hysteria. I have to prepare myself for the possibility the Red Sox might not have the winning bid and/or that their bid is so huge, it might have a negative impact on the Red Sox buying power.

 

We shall see.

 

By the way, the General Manager meetings kick off this morning in Florida. These meetings use usually the place GMs and agents start talks on signings and where GMs and other GMs talk specifics on trades and learn about who might be available and for what.

 

Here are 3 links that should prove useful to keep updated on Red Sox news:

 

Boston.com – Extra Bases with Nick Cafardo. Cafardo is in Naples reporting some interested news. The most interesting so far is that Theo Epstein acknowledged that the Red Sox have already made a firm offer for a free agent. Although he declined to say who.

 

Boston Herald – Insider/ Sox Blog – Not sure who, if anyone, is manning the blog this week, but they are sometimes useful.

 

The Providence Journal – Soxblog – This isn’t updated all that much and again, I’m not sure they have anyone covering the meetings.

 

Posted by Andy at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)

November 11, 2006

 

Conspiracy Theory

 

Ok, I thought of this conspiracy theory when taking about the Matsuzaka sweepstakes yesterday with Peter, this site’s Yankee fan.

 

Here it goes:

 

Scott Boros represents Matsuzaka and probably promoted his abilities to all major league teams. That being said, he probably had more detailed conversations with some teams than others, that is to say he spoke in more detail to the teams he thought would make a legit bid.

 

As the bidding process started, he figured out which teams were going to be making the highest bids, based on casual conversation and gave them indications what it would take based on his conversations with the other interested teams. As part of giving up this important information, he offers up this condition: If I give you what I think is the bid you need to offer to win the rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka, you need to offer my other client, J.D. Drew, a 3-year deal worth a minimum $12m per season.

 

So, perhaps this unfolded with Boston. They reportedly (although hardly confirmed) offered the highest bid and have been said to be very interested in Drew to play RF at Fenway as well. So I tell you what you need to bid and you give my other client a bigger contract than he just walked away from.

 

Could be? Maybe?

 

If the Red Sox end up with both Matsuzaka and Drew, then perhaps we are on to something. Then again, both where targets from the beginning, so perhaps it would just be coincidence.

 

In other news, Keith Foulke gave the Red Sox a nice holiday gift by walking away from his player option of $3.75m. Instead, he is due just the $1.5m buyout from Boston. They didn’t want him and he certainly didn’t want to be here.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2006

 

Jaw Dropping…If It’s True

 

ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that the Red Sox may have the highest bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka. The bid is said to be between, I hope you are sitting down for this, $38m and $45m!!!

 

Holy smokes, that is a ton of cash. Olney sited MLB sources.

 

Do you realize what this means? If the Red Sox did indeed win the bid and sign Matsuzaka to a 3 year, $30 deal (probably conservative), when you factor in the posting bid, it now becomes a 3 year deal valued at between $68m and $75m or $22.67m and $25m per season.

 

How can a team justify that? I understand the bid does not count towards the salary cap, which fyi is $148m in 2007, but still, that is a tremendous financial committment to a player who has never pitched in the Majors before.

 

Before we get too excited about Olney’s report, there have been other reports that the Seibu Lions were disappointed by the top bid of only $15m and were still meeting to figure out whether or not to accept it. So we won’t know for sure until either the Lions or MLB says something.

 

Still though, if Matsuzaka is all he is cracked up to be, it would be a great addition to the rotation and it would happen without losing any prospects or draft picks, but man is that expensive.

 

Posted by Andy at 02:15 PM | Comments (4)

Foulke Part II

 

We will hear today on whether Keith Foulke remains a Red Sox or not. I think I messed up his contract status. Because the Red Sox declined the team option, they owe him a buyout of $1.5m OR, Foulke can take his $3.75m player option. If he takes his player option, he will NOT also get the team buyout.

 

Cot’s Baseball Contracts set me straight on this one.

 

Still no word on Matsusaka. We will probably hear something today, although the Seibu Lions has until Sunday night I believe before they have to make an announcement.

 

Posted by Andy at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

Matsuzaka watch continues

 

So the bids are in and the Seibu Lions know who won, but are now determining if they will accept the bid or turn it down and keep Daisuke Matsuzaka for themselves.

 

As Peter points out on the Yankees side of this site, Japan is 14 hours ahead of us here in Boston. The Lions are holding a board meeting to determine what to do on Friday at 2pm local time (Japan that is). So that would be Friday 12:01 am our time. If the meeting last a few hours and it then takes another hour or so for the news to hit the news, we will be finding out when we wake up Friday morning. Then again, the Lions have 4 full days to mull this over from the ending of the bidding process which ended Wednesday at 5pm EST.

 

This kid has been fantastic, but if the Red Sox have to pay $20m or more just for the right to negotiate with him, and his agent Scott Boros, is it worth it? That is a fair amount of cabbage…as I’ve said before.

 

In other news, J.D. Drew has opted out of his guaranteed contact (his option) that was scheduled to pay him $33m over the next 3 years. My reaction? Is he nuts? Drew is very talented, but he is also made of balsa wood. If he could stay healthy and play 155+ game each year, he’d be a HOFer but he doesn’t therefore he isn’t.

 

So why would a 31 year old opt out of a $33m 3-year deal? Probably because his agent is Scott Boras. I think this one might bite Boras because his client is frail and incapable of playing fulltime. That being said, I would not be at all surprised to see Drew in a Red Sox uniform in 2007, probably at 3-years and $34m. What do I know after all?

 

Posted by Andy at 06:04 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2006

 

Keith Foulke

 

The Red Sox will learn by late Thursday or Friday morning whether or not Keith Foulke will be pitching for them in 2007.

 

The Sox held a $7.5m option on Foulke which they declined on Tuesday. As part of declining the option, there is a $1.5m buyout to be paid to Foulke. In turn, Foulke now has 48 hours to decide if he wants to exercise his $3.75m player option to stay with Boston.

 

A nice position to be in, no? Either way he is guaranteed $1.5m which he can up to $5.25m if he exercises his player option, or he can declare free agency and sign with another team and still get his $1.5m buyout. Foulke basically has to decide if he wants to live in Boston for another year.

 

Foulke’s ride here has been up and down. The up came in 2004, but it has been down since. He has clearly shown he does not like the attention of pitching in Boston and has proven to be a good sized ass about it. He is sullen and not open to the media much anymore.

 

My take is the money is hard to walk away from and greater than if he signs with another team, but he has been so unhappy here, why stay? 2007 with Keith Foulke will just add up to more misery for both player and team. He is unhappy and should pack his bags and ride, make that, sprint off into the sunset.

 

The Boston Herald confirmed the Alex Cora signing, although the Red Sox have not yet made it official.

 

The bids for Daisuke Matsuzaka are due today. The Seibu Lions will have 4 days to evaluate the bid and decide whether they want to accept it or not (a part of the process I previously left out. It makes sense that they could walk away in case MLB teams lowball them).

 

More soon I expect.

 

Posted by Andy at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2006

 

Alex Cora Re-signs…I think

 

The Red Sox reportedly have re-signed utilityman Alex Cora to a two year deal. Boston Dirt Dogs broke this story with a link to El Nuevo Dia. Given my limited (read non-existant) Spanish skills, I decided to cut and paste the text into Googles "language translator" and came up with this. I am printing it in its entirely because I’m certain I would never be accused of copyright infringement given the VERY ROUGH apparent translation.

 

LAST COMMENTARY Beam that your commentary is first. The player of the picture boricua Alex Cora not only will play this season with the Creoles of Caguas, but that finishes signing an extension by two years with the Red Averages of Boston. Although he did not mention inasmuch as he signed with Boston, yes was contentment to remain in the tax exemption. Cora played 96 games the passed campaign, where she connected a quadrangular one and she pushed 18 races. 96 amount of parties that Alex Cora played east year with the Rojas Averages Cora will be united to the Creoles in the middle of December, and began to practice from first of November. “I believe that all the equipment has made an incredible work in improving. It is necessary to see how the fanaticada one reacts. At least there is just a little bit of controversy with the entrance of Benito and Igor, but that is important, is good or bad, after she is spoken of the league”, Cora said yesterday during a beneficial activity, when talking about to the critics that have received these two players to return behind schedule to the winter league in their races. Moved away of that, campocorto waits for one season competitive. “That, is equipment that wins, Caguas either another one, we pruned to represent Puerto Rico with dignity and to win Series of the Caribbean, that I believe that it is the goal of each one of us”, indicated Cora. Another subject that will maintain it occupied at the end of year will be the opening of clinics of ball in Villanueva, Caguas, calls `Jose Manuel Cora’, in honor to its father. The clinics will begin next 8 of November, beginning from the 6:30 of afternoon, and are free of cost. There boricua will accompany campocorto Alex Cintrón. “Not only we will be teaching the tools to the children of how to play baseball, but that also will have to char them to the trainers and parents. This is to educate”, maintained Cora. Each celebrated clinic will be of different ages, and will count on the participation of other players of the patio.

 

The tranlation refers to our Red Sox as the "Red Averages." Hmmm, that isn’t a great endorsement…

 

So, I think Cora is going to be with the Red Sox for 2007 and 2008. A very good signing in my book. He can play any infield position without making a fool of himself (he has no 1b exp.) and can handle the bat. That’s not to say he has a great obp or slg, but he is a good situational hitter, can bunt and move runners along.

 

Good move.

 

In other note, the Boston Herald is reporting that Japanese thirdbaseman Akinori Iwamura is also being posted. I assume it’ll take much less to win his negotiation rights than it will Daisuke Matsuzaka’s. Bids for Akinori are due by Friday.

 

Posted by Andy at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2006

 

Buzz

 

As the Red Sox continue to work on a restructured 2007 squad (we hope), some of the areas of interest are starting to come into play. First off, the idea of signing players from the Japanese Baseball League is being analyzed.

 

First off, posting means the player’s Japanese team is making him available to Major League teams. Any team that wants exclusive rights to a player that has been posted must submit a blind bid to the Japanese team. The team that submits the highest bid is granted exclusive rights to negotiate with the Japanese player. If a deal is struck, well then welcome to the Major Leagues. If no deal is struck, then he is returned to his Japanese team thus ending any chance of him coming to American in 2007.

 

The pros to this are that a player can theoretically come to the States for an inexpensive amount and no compensation, other than cash, is due anyone or any team. Additionally, the Japanese League has proven that their talent translates nicely here in the Majors. Ichiro, Hideki Matsui and Kazuhiro Sazaki are examples of players that have excelled in the Majors.

 

The cons are that this process can get very expensive for a player garnering the attention of multiple teams. For example, Seibu Lions pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, has been posted. Blind bids are due by this Wednesday. Speculation has it that it will take between $20 and $30 million to win the rights to negotiate with him. Keep in mind that $20-$30m is just the fee paid to negotiate, it does not count toward any contract he might sign. Furthermore, he is expected to get well north of $10m a season. Let’s say he gets a 4 year, $48m deal and his posting bid was $25m. That is $73m for a guy that has never pitched in the Majors before. Expensive and risky, no?

 

So this avenue of talent acquisition is interesting, but loaded with pitfalls (i.e. potentially expensive).

 

There are expected to be several players posted this off-season and I have to guess Boston will be involved with most.

 

No other major developments to report other than perhaps the fact Boston did not have any gold glove winners despite posting the 2nd fewest errors in major league history. The Red Sox infield especially was probably done in by A.) not winning and B.) not being flashy.

 

The biggest controversy I’ve see is Derek Jeter winning over Alex Gonzalez.

 

Jeter 150 games, 1292.2 inn, .975 fld%, 3.97 range/g, 4.14 range/9, 15 errors, 81 DPs.
Gonzo 111 games, 966.3 inng, .985 fld%, 4.22 range/g, 4.36 range/9, 7 errors, 68 DPs.

 

Every stat category favors Gonzalez in this except one. Perhaps it was the amount of games played that swayed voters. The key is that voting is done by managers and coaches, who have proven time and again, that statistical measurements aren’t necessary for them to tell us who are the best…

 

Note: Nothing against Jeter, he is the ultimate professional and his resume is overflowing with accomplishments and high praise and I’d rather him the Red Sox shortstop than Alex Gonzalez all things considered (A "no kidding" kind of statement I realize), but he is not as good a fielder as many American League shortstops and in fact, if you look up the numbers, his winning 3 gold gloves in a row is a bit of a joke.

 

Anyway, I’m ok with the Red Sox not getting personal awards as long as they win.

 

I’ll keep you updated when things happen. Additionally, I’ll work on more frequent posts as it has been about 2 weeks since my last.

 

Posted by Andy at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)