The Angels Are Out

Multiple sources are reporting the Angels have withdrawn their offer to Teixeira.  That leaves Boston (they never withdrew their offer), Washington and Baltimore as the known bidders and it seems like Boston has the high bid. 

The Yankees haven’t bid yet and very well may not.  Boras called Cashman on Friday (multiple sources again) to discuss Tex and told them it would take $22-$23 million a year over eight years.  Will the Yankees bite?  Time appears to be running out.

A Good Read

Bob Klapisch makes a very solid point in his column today, Manny Ramirez and Joe Girardi would be a marriage made in Hell. 

The thing is, even if the Yankees don’t sign Manny (and I hope they don’t) Girardi has to find a way to change heading into 2009.  He needs to loosen up a bit and he needs to stop lying about injuries because he just looks silly when he does.  The problem of course is that the pressure on Girardi is being upped this year and it is unclear how he will handle that.

That was the beauty of Joe Torre, no matter how much pressure he felt, he managed to deflect it off the players.  Girardi is the opposite and I don’t think that is a good thing.  You can argue that the Yankees became too comfortable under Torre and I wouldn’t disagree.  But, they went to the other end of the spectrum in 2008 and they need to move back to the middle now.  Adding Manny won’t help them in that department one bit.   

The Math Is Interesting

We have heard that the Yankees’ goal is to have a lower payroll than last season.  Well according to the AP, their payroll is currently $159 million and that is for fourteen players.  They still have to go through arbitration with players like Wang, Nady and Bruney and settle on deals with the non-arbitration players like Joba, Hughes, etc.  Figure the arbitration cases get at least $12 million of salary.  And throw in another $5 million to round out the roster and the payroll is around $176 million.  If the Yankees are serious about lowering the payroll from last season’s Opening Day figure of $209, that would leave $30 million. 

You could go out and get Cameron and Pettitte and that would be about it.  Or, you could spend almost all of it on a lump sum deal like Teixeira.  What you can’t do is both.  So, which would you rather see, Teixeira with Hughes in the rotation and Gardner in center?  Or, Pettitte and Cameron in those spots with Swisher at first? 

“We Are Not Going To Be A Factor”

Shocking news out of Boston tonight where Red Sox owner, John Henry, emailed the press to say that the Red Sox are out of the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes. The last reports had Boston offering 8 years and $180 million+, but Henry said "After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor."

Did Boras overplay his hand here, or is there really a team that is willing to beat that offer?  And if there is, what team is it?  Washington is a possibility and it is close to his home, but would Tex really want to go to a team that lost 102 games last year?  

Stay tuned 

 

Land Ho!

Maybe.

Several media outlets are reporting that Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein and Principal Owner John Henry are in Texas tonight meeting with Mark Teixeira’s agent, Scott Boras and perhaps Teixeira himself, in a scene somewhat reminiscent of Thanksgiving 2003 when Epstein traveled to Arizona to meet with Curt Schilling.

In reading the various reports (WCVB, WBZ, ESPN, Yahoo, NASA and The Marblehead Reporter), it seems the numbers of years the Red Sox have offered is 8.  The dollars are ranging from $174 to $188mm over the 8 years.  No matter what, if Mark Teixeira signs with Boston, he would be signing the largest guaranteed contract in Red Sox history (Manny Ramirez was guaranteed $160mm over 8 years).

On WEEI Wednesday, Sean McAdams, formerly of the Providence Journal and now of the Boston Herald, said that Mike Lowell is NOT happy with these developments.  With that in mind the Red Sox will have a massive hill to climb if they think they can have Lowell play a Coco Crisp type role for the next 2 years.  Lowell isn’t likely to accept a back-up role, is he?  He is guaranteed $24mm over the next 2 years and given Terry Francona’s habit of giving his starters regular rest, perhaps there is a chance Lowell isn’t traded.

I spent over a year on this site telling everyone I expected Crisp to be dealt and it never happened, until this off-season.  The Red Sox would clearly value Lowell in a "10th-man role," but he has an ego, as we all do, and might want to parlay the fact he still has value into future contracts.  I cannot blame him for that.  Then again, the Red Sox represent a chance to win while still making good cash.  In addition, he’d be the primary back-up for Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira and David Ortiz.

No matter, Lowell is a good person from all accounts and he has a right to be upset if the Red Sox sign Teixeira, but the facts remain that Lowell is coming off surgery on his hip and, more importantly, the Red Sox are all about getting better and giving themselves the best chance to win a World Series.  This a business after all.

As for the chance that Teixeira signs soon, don’t hold your breath.  Boras has a way of being dramatic.  "I hate to do anything as dramatic as counting to three, but…"

DeVito, I mean Boras has a way of making things dramatic.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE:  Boston.com is quoting John Henry with the following:  "We met with Mr. Teixeira and were very much impressed with him. After hearing about his other offers, however, it seems clear that we are not going to be a factor."

So there you go.  A game of chicken (should I be capitalizing the "c" in chicken?).  If indeed Teixeira and Boras left the Red Sox with that impression, I have to assume they are going to accept the Washington Nationals offer.  And if so, good luck in Washington Mark.

Then again, I’m easily influenced by posturing.

Might this be another negotiation where Scott Boras has no leverage left?  The Daisuke Matsuzaka deal is a good example.  Then again, the J.D. Drew contract is another example where they grabbed their ankles and bid against themselves.

My odds of the Red Sox getting Teixeira:  2:1.

Rocco Baldelli

It seems as though Rocco Baldelli received some potentially great news over the past few days.  As a Rhode Islander, Baldelli garners a higher than normal level of interest in Boston compared with other non-Red Sox players.

If he is able to get his condition treated and ultimately play more regularly, one has to assume he is far more likely to get a better deal if not for 2009, then beyond.

That said, I’ve never understood the fascination with Baldelli as a baseball player.  He is a good fielder to be sure, but he isn’t terribly special as an offensive threat.  His career OPS is .770 and his OPS+ is 102.

He is injury prone (not talking about his current health issue) and has poor plate discipline with only 90 walks in his career compared with 346 K’s in 1876 Plate Appearances.  To me, he is a bit like Shea Hillenbrand offensively (.761 OPS with a 95 OPS+).  He can hit and even hit for a bit of  power, but that’s his only way of generating runs.

A career .325 OBP probably won’t make him too appealing to the Red Sox or the Yankees.

I don’t want this to be a "dump on Baldelli" post because it is not.  I just think his story, his local connection and the fact that, from all I’ve heard, he is a likable person, makes him appear a far greater talent than he really is.

Perhaps Baldelli’s current ailment has been impacting him for an extended time and has limited his performance, but even back in the minors (including his various more recent rehab stints), Baldelli had just a .756 OPS with a .320 OBP.

If the Red Sox signed him to be the 4th OF, I wouldn’t mind, but I don’t think I’d consider him an ideal starter option (not that the Red Sox are looking for a starter) should one of the regulars go down.

Hello? Anyone Out There?

To date, the Red Sox have done very little this off-season.  Very little at least as it impacts the 2009 25-man roster.

 – Traded Coco Crisp for Ram-Ram (Ramon Ramirez).

 – Non-Tendered Kevin Cash

 – Traded for Wes Littleton (this might not impact 25-man roster depending on where Littleton starts the year)

That’s it.  We are no closer today to having answers than we were at the end of the season.

Who is going to catch?  Is Mark Teixeira going to sign with Boston (so much for my prediction last week that he’d sign in 2-3 days, but he is on record as wanting to sign before Christmas), where will Julio Lugo and maybe Mike Lowell get traded, who is going to be the 5th starter?

I’ve been through slow off-seasons before, but this is nonsense.  Next year, I’m tempted to just ignore the GM meetings, the Winter meetings and start following the action on 12/15.  Think of the time I’ll save.  Obviously I’m too big a baseball junkie to go cold turkey on the Hot Stove league like that, but come on now, let’s make some noise.

Interesting Point

Peter Gammons had an interesting blog piece this weekend about baseball and the economy.  He suggests that as the economy worsens more and more teams will need to cut payroll.  (He also takes some shots at Kyle Farnsworth)

Based on that, it is probably worthwhile for the Yankees to take a pause in spending here and see what happens.  Sure, they could sign more players, make more trades, but if the market is going to be flooded with additional talent and teams trying to slash payroll, what is the harm in waiting?  They have signed two starters, they have two starters and if they pencil in Phil Hughes for spot #5, the rotation is done.  They have Swisher for first and Gardner for center so the lineup is done.  

It is so against their usual way of operating, but why not show some patience?  It may benefit them in the long term.   

Non-Tender Is The Night

(Sorry, F. Scott Fitzgerald) The Yankees have non-tendered Chris Britton and Justin Christain, lowering their 40-man roster to 38 players. 

Britton is certainly not a shock.  The Yankees simply didn’t like the guy and he would have been cut to make way for Sabathia anyway.  

Christain is a bit more of a surprise to me just because he was a good spare outfielder and could have contributed next year.  But, with Melky and Gardner ahead of him on the depth chart, it makes sense to clear space for Burnett with this move.  

Assuming they sign one more pitcher, even if it is Pettitte, the Yankees will need to remove one more player from the 40-man.  I assume that is going to be Duncan, but we will see. 

Burnett Is Next

It’s all over the internet that the Yankees have signed Burnett to a five-year/$82.5 million deal.  Obivously, this deal boils down to Burnett’s health.  If he is healthy, the Yankees have made a pretty good deal, if he isn’t, well let’s just say we just lived through four years of Pavano.  One thing is for sure.  If they are healthy and the Yankees make the playoffs, they have a great rotation.

The real question is where do the Yankees go next?  Personally, I would be happy to go into 2009 with a rotation of Sabathia, Wang, Burnett, Joba and Hughes, but I don’t think the Yankees are of that mindset.  I imagine it will be Pettitte or Sheets for the last spot with Hughes sitting in the minors for when injuries occur.  What you have to hope is that Brian Cashman isn’t done addressing the offense.  Cabrera for Cameron isn’t a terrible idea, but it also isn’t that much of an improvement.  Teixeira would go a long way to fixing some offensive problems and the Yankees would be wise to think about him again.