RIP Enrico Polazzo

Sad news tonight that one of the great comedic actors, Leslie Nielsen has passed away.

His role in the “Naked Gun” as umpire/singer Enrico Polazzo has to be one of the funniest baseball scenes ever. Here is part of it, enjoy.

How Would It Feel?

For those of you not in New York today, here is a link to the Post’s backpage where you can see their photoshopping department has been busy.

So my question is this. What if Derek Jeter signed with the Red Sox? What would Yankee fans feel? And since this is a site with two different fanbases, what would Red Sox fans feel?

Assuming there is no other news in the Yankee department today, that will be it for me. I hope everyone out there has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

CANNONBALL!!!

The more I think about this off-season and the season that just wrapped up, the more I am convinced that as a fan, the Red Sox need to make a huge splash. Enough with the calculated, cautious approach we’ve been smothered with these past few years.

Up until now, I’ve been reasonably happy with the decision making of the Red Sox front office, especially given that they delivered 2 World Series trophies. But their decision making on long-term deals has been troubling of late. First off, they lost a bidding war on Mark Teixeira. By all accounts, he has been nothing short of fantastic in New York. Sure he fell off a bit last year, but there is no reason to think he can’t bounce back and if 33 home runs is a drop-off, I guess I like drop-offs.

Wouldn’t he look good in a Red Sox uniform? Compare that deal with the JD Drew deal, the John Lackey deal and the just starting Josh Beckett deal. All 3 players were disappointing in 2010. None of them justified their upcoming 2011 salary. So they missed on Teixeira, missed on Drew (no one can convince me otherwise) and they are not looking good in the early term on Lackey and Beckett. Oh and how about the $51mm just for the right to bid on Daisuke Matsuzaka? Sorry, but that deal is now looking bad…I had hopes after his first 2 seasons, but not so much anymore.

Yes the Red Sox have been good about locking up home-grown talent such as Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, but the farm system hasn’t generated a legitimate power threat under this regime and if management isn’t going to aggressively pursue power in the trade or free agent market then what do we have?

I never thought I’d say this, but man, Dan Duquette had the guts and in retrospect, smarts, to sign Manny Ramirez and to trade for and then sign Pedro Martinez. Sure Manny’s stay in Boston was bumpy, but man could he hit. Those were 2 mega acquisitions. Not only did Duquette gamble, but he gambled and bet right. Ramirez’s deal is an example of what can go wrong with long-term deals in the final years, but that’s the cost of doing business. Manny’s deal was great for the first 6 or 7 years and not so much in the last year. If you budget that risk in, then what’s the problem?

If we are to believe team Chairman Tom Werner, the Red Sox will be aggressive in the free agent market. Said Werner, “I think that we are going to sign, I won’t promise, but we’re going to sign a significant free agent. We are going to make a trade to improve ourselves,”

Great, now if you think Andrew Miller, Drew Sutton and Brent Dlugach are significant acquisitions, then mission accomplished. If not, then I don’t see why we can’t get a player like Adrian Gonzalez and a Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth. Enough with the one and two year patchwork deals, give me players that arrive with fanfair (Drew didn’t), that are fun to follow.

Make a splash Boston, make me feel this team is worth watching and not just a financing mechanism for Liverpool FC and Roush Fenway Racing.

Bizarro World

Raise your hand if you guessed that the only free agent the Yankees would offer arbitration to this year would be Javier Vazquez. Anyone…Bueller…anyone? Now, they apparently have Vazquez’s assurance that he will turn it down, but it is a bizarre turn of events.

I understand the Yankees reluctance to offer arbitration to Jeter or Rivera because of the danger they might accept it, but why would that be such a bad thing? In either case, the player would be signed for a one-year deal and the Yankees wouldn’t have to worry about length of contracts. Furthermore, while Jeter’s arbitration number would be based on his $21 million last year, does anyone think he would actually earn a raise in the process? I just find it hard to fathom how the Yankees would have lost an arbitration hearing with Jeter and I would much rather pay more for Jeter in 2011 on a one-year deal than the three-year/$45 million deal he apparently doesn’t like.

Furthermore, offering arbitration might have cooled the rhetoric which has really ramped up today. Consider this quote from Cashman:

“We’ve encouraged him to test the market and see if there’s something he would prefer other than this. If he can, fine. That’s the way it works.”

That’s about as close to anger as you are going to hear from Cashman and it’s somewhat surprising to me that he took that harsh a tone. It also makes me wonder what exactly “Plan B” is if Jeter actually jumped ship. I don’t think Derek is going to take a torch to his legacy, but he provoking him to do so is never wise.

Bad Comparison

Derek Jeter’s agent, Casey Close, might want to take a closer look at pinstripe history. Close said the following about Jeter:

“There’s a reason the Yankees themselves have stated Derek Jeter is their modern-day Babe Ruth. Derek’s significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees’ negotiating strategy remains baffling.”

Perhaps Close didn’t realize it, but the Yankees cut Babe Ruth’s salary by almost 30% for the 1934 season and really only brought him back that year so he could hit his 700th home run as a Yankee. Somehow I doubt that’s what Mr. Close was trying to get the Yankees to do.

But, the reports continue that Derek Jeter is unhappy with the Yankees offer of three years and $45 million. My question is, where else in baseball is Jeter going to find an offer even close to that?

I could see a team giving Jeter two years and maybe $25 million if they absolutely had to have him, but coming off the year he had, anything more than that on the open market seems improbable. So, I think the Yankees have made a very fair and generous offer. It keeps Jeter as the highest-paid middle infielder in the game. It gives him a third year, something I don’t think the Yankees had to do and something that will keep him in New York until he is on the cusp of 40. Compared to what the market might offer, this is a very clear sign of respect.

I guess it’s just baffling to his agent.

Victor Martinez

Word is out that the Red Sox have lost Victor Martinez to the Detroit Tigers. This along with the signing of Aubrey Huff might signal that the free agency period is finally starting to heat up.

Losing Martinez will leave a void in the line-up. While I’m not thrilled by this loss, I’m not too weeping either. Martinez is an outstanding value if he plays catcher, but it seems that he might be used more and more as a firstbaseman as time goes on. His offense is great as a catcher, but just ok as a 1b.

Either way, he is gone and the Red Sox will soon need to start building for 2011.

Is The Stove On?

So far the Hot Stove has been nothing like its name. We are three weeks into the offseason and apart from a couple of free agent signings, we have very, very little to get excited about. The newspapers seem intent on creating/reporting a Jeter-Yankees feud, but other than that, crickets.

Well, part of that will change a bit tomorrow when teams have to make their arbitration decisions. Once players can no longer be offered arbitration, it should get some free agents signing deals. For the Yankees, six players qualify. Three are obviously not going to be offered arbitration- Kerry Wood, Javier Vazquez and Lance Berkman. The other three should be locks to receive offers, but with the Yankees you never know. Those three are the “Big 3″, Pettitte, Jeter and Rivera.

Of those three, offering arbitration to Jeter makes the most sense. If he accepted, and there is little reason to think he would, he would be “signed” to a one-year deal. Yes, he would earn at least as much and possibly more than he did in 2010, but the Yankees would not have to lay out a three-year deal and that is worth the risk of acceptance. Plus, by offering it to Jeter, you would force another team interested in him to surrender draft picks if they did.

With Rivera, I think the thinking should be the same. Mo reportedly wants two years, but the Yankees would be much better served getting him for one year. Arbitration would do that, so why not offer it to Mo?

Now Andy Pettitte swears he is either retiring or playing for the Yankees. I guess you can take him at his word, but the Yankees were certainly burned by Roger Clemens after the 2003 season. Perhaps they should consider that and offer him arbitration, but I bet they don’t.

Beyond the arbitration decisions, the Yankees have made a couple of minor moves. They traded Juan Miranda for Scott Allen and they added Betances, Pope and Laird to their 40-man roster.

The Miranda trade seems to me to be a case of waiting too long. Miranda put up almost the same numbers in AAA in 2010 as he did in 2009. The problem is, he didn’t do much in his brief stints in the bigs and that hurt his value. Once the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, Miranda became a luxury and they should have traded him. Kudos for getting an arm who might develop, but I bet they would have received a lot more if they had acted sooner.

As for the 40-man additions, nothing too surprising there, but the Yankees are making a HUGE mistake if they think Brandon Laird is the answer to their utility needs in 2011. Laird had a great year in AA in 2010, but he struggled in AAA and he really struggled in the Arizona League where everyone hits. But, the fact that he hit .291/.355/.523 in AA, playing 1/2 his games in Trenton makes him a legitimate prospect. The Yankees would be smart to let him start the year in AAA and get at least 1/2 a season of AB’s down there. If he can find his bat again and play a passable corner outfield to go with his abilities at first and third, the Yankees will really have something.

I’ll check in tomorrow as we hear the arbitration decisions and of course if other news breaks. Just a reminder, I call Brian Cashman “The Silent Assassin” because of his penchant for making moves no one is talking about. Perhaps a surprise in our future?

Dustin Traded!

In shocking news, the Red Sox have traded Dustin! Dustin Richardson that is. Ok, so it’s not Dustin Pedroia, but it’s a trade nonetheless.

In trading the 6′ 6″ Richardson, the Red Sox were looking to improve their front court height, rebounding and shot blocking, hence the return package of 6′ 7″ Andrew Miller from the Florida Marlins.

Miller was the 6th overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Detroit Tigers (Richardson was drafted in the 5th round of the same draft). He is a lefty and throws very hard. But, he is wild. Think Randy Johnson wild in his youth, or Nolan Ryan wild in 1977 (and many other seasons). Miller doesn’t have the strikeout capacity of either Johnson or Ryan, but he can strike people out.

This is a gamble move. Richardson probably wasn’t going to be an all-star, but he had a far better bb/k ratio than did Miller in the minors and while Richardson’s major league career of 16 innings produced 15 walks, I’m not sure I’d have given up on him as quickly as the Red Sox did. This strikes me as a “we have better coaches than all of the other teams who can turn a player around” trade than anything else. I’m hoping the Red Sox have better coaches than all of the other teams. Otherwise they might just be fooling themselves. Arrogance? We shall see.

In reading up on this trade my guess is that Miller will be a reclamation project and start the season in the bowels of the Red Sox minor leagues. Low single A (get ready Lowell) is a possibility as they will break him down and build him up. The ideal outcome would be a Roy Halliday. Halladay was sent down to class A ball to figure things out early in his career. We can only hope for a similar outcome. Don’t bank on it.

My hunch suggests that Miller, at best, will be a lefty specialist but so far his OPS against lefties is only marginally better than against righties.

I classify this as a moderate move only because of the player the Red Sox acquired in Miller, but given that he’s on his 3rd team, I’m not going to hold my breath that Andrew Miller turns out to have a better Major League career than does Dustin Richardson.

Werth and Duchscherer

Word is out that the Red Sox are interested in both Just Duchscherer (WEEI) and Jayson Werth (multiple outlets).

Duchscherer would be a low risk investment coming of yet another injury filled season. When healthy, he is a very effective pitcher having posted a career 3.13 ERA (139 ERA+). But he isn’t healthy often enough to be consider a reliable option. He missed all of 2009 and only managed 28 innings in 2010.

He is probably looking for a fresh start and I’m fairly confident the Red Sox (and several other teams) could have him for low-risk money. I think he’d be worth a shot to either compete for the 5th starting spot or a bullpen spot (he has experience starting and relieving).

As for Werth, his vitals remind me of Jason Bay (to quote Bob Lobel, “why can’t we get players like that?”). He has a decent OBP and SLG. He really broke out in the past 3 seasons and at age 31 he has reached his limit, but his limit isn’t anything to sneeze at. I’m not sure what his hit chart looks like, but perhaps Fenway would be good for him…or not.

Werth will probably command a bit less than will Carl Crawford so that might be the reason the Red Sox are focusing on him. Scott Boras represents Werth, so I really hope the Red Sox don’t go and spend like they did on JD Drew. I don’t care how you slice it, JD Drew isn’t and hasn’t been worth $14mm a year.

Let the Bidding Begin

Today is the first day of free agency. Time to make the rich get richer and to make a bunch of 20 years olds rich for the first time. Must be nice.

You’ll probably not see Peter post for a bit as a moving car ran into his leg(sorry for the HIPPA violation Peter) the other day. He is on the short-term DL and will post when he is feeling a bit better. I’ll attempt to cover both sides of the rivalry in the meantime. Get well soon pal.

The big names on the market are Cliff Lee, Jason Werth, Carl Crawford and for the Yankees anyway, Derek Jeter. I’m sure we’ll hear either the Yankees, Red Sox or both teams linked to these players.

I’ll post as news hits.