Brush Back

Happy Holidays all.  No matter what you celebrate, I think there is always room for various feats of strength, the airing of grievances and Festivus miracles.

Having had some time with family over the past few days, I figured it a good idea to talk about the Red Sox and what happened on Tuesday.

First off, here are some of the many possible feelings once might have felt, as a Red Sox fan, over the Mark Teixeira signing:

Red Sox blew it.  They could have had Teixeira had they just bumped up their offer.  Also, they shouldn’t have placed a deadline on negotiations.  They approached and handled things all wrong.

Mark Teixeira never wanted to come to the Red Sox.  He still remembers being drafted by the Red Sox and reports out of NY say he preferred the Yankees all along.  The Red Sox were just being used as a means to increase his final contract.

The Red Sox could have matched or even exceeded the Yankees offer, but what makes you think the Yankees wouldn’t have countered?  Just what was the Yankees limit after all?  I say $180mm, you say $200mm…

This was just a normal free agent negotiation.  The player picked the team that offered the most money and/or presumably the most comfortable atmosphere, be it geography, money, pressure, uniform style, perks, etc.

My guess is that most Red Sox fans felt the Red Sox either blew it, or Teixeira didn’t really like the idea of being a Red Sox and when the Yankees finally made an offer, he jumped.  If you are in the group that thinks the latter, you are probably wondering just what could the Red Sox have done?

It really doesn’t matter what the reason, the Yankees just upgrade themselves at 1st base by offering yet another massive contract to a free agent.  It is a double improvement b/c not only did they get him but the Red Sox did not.

Sean McAdam, now of the Herald (and ESPN), had some interesting facts on the Red Sox since Theo Epstein took over and how he believes the Red Sox will operate in the future regarding free agency.  McAdam’s take is that the Red Sox will no longer explore top (read: Type A) free agents as they:

 – Cost too much in draft compensation.  Of course, not having to pay for a 1st and 2nd round pick can be a savings in a way, but I’d like to see a study, which I’m far too lazy to undertake, that shows the success rate of players drafted in each round of the draft and what they were paid.

 – Have a history of being very, very bad ideas (Barry Zito, Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, Kevin Brown, etc.  Of course they can be good on occasion, but is a 50% or even a 75% success rate really worth dropping $100+ million George Bucks?

When you think about it, if you sign an elite free agent, your BEST-case scenario is to get full value out of the deal.  If a player is elite when you sign him, is he going to be elite and some?  That’s tough to argue, so a free agent has to be "as advertised" otherwise the signing team "overspent."

 – Cost too much in money.  Growing and developing talent versus signing big names, provides some cost certainty.  Of course high-draft picks demand top dollar, but if a MLB team scouts well enough, there are often solid values scattered throughout the draft.  Examples on the Red Sox:

 1.)  Kevin Youkilis signed for $12,000 as an 8th round draft choice.

 2.)  Reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedroia signed for $575,000 as a 2nd round draft choice.

 3.)  Jonathan (can’t we just call you Jon) Papelbon signed for $264,500 as a 4th round pick.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Red Sox do going forward.  My guess is that they have indeed grown tired of the elite free agent process.  J.D. Drew has thus far hit a $28,000,000 grand slam, but otherwise shown himself to be injured a bunch and just not a player you can count on everyday (i.e. as advertised/feared) and he never was really considered elite.

One silver lining in all of this is that AA prospect Lars Anderson (not Larz, the auto enthusiast, although I heard he had a good stroke.  In all seriousness, if you haven’t visited the Larz Anderson park and auto museum, you are really missing something) has a clearer path to Boston.  It might just end up, after all, that sticking with Lars as the future was the far cheaper/better route.

The Red Sox still need someone to catch the ball when the pitchers throw it (that’s important, right?) and could use a utility OF and IF as well as perhaps a starter.  Obviously they could put Michael Bowden or Clay Buchholz in the rotation, but my bet is they try and trade for a more certain option or even go after John Smoltz.

Jeff Bailey, who was with the club during the year, might just stick as their primary pinch-hitter and back-up at 1st, DH and perhaps the corner outfield spots too.  Bailey reminds me somewhat of a Brian Daubach type.  Too old to be considered a prospect, but someone who raked AAA pitching (.301/.405/.562 in 2008) and can play a few positions.  He is far from graceful, but has shown some sticktoitiveness and that might just count for something.

My guess is we’ll hear/read very little from now until the New Year, so Happy New Year all.