Deal Framed for Lowell

While it isn’t official, ESPN is reporting Mike Lowell has agreed to the framework of a 3 year, $37.5mm deal ($12.5mm per). Peter Gammons said Lowell could have had a 4 year deal from 2 other teams, but wanted to stay with the Red Sox. For those who were questioning the things that were important to Lowell, now you know. And as I mentioned yesterday, this is great work by the Red Sox. They get back an important piece at their price.

With this signing, the Red Sox have taken care of a all of their big outstanding issues. 25-man Roster:

c – Varitek
1b – Youkilis
2b – Pedroia
3b – Lowell
ss – Lugo
lf – Manny
cf – Ellsbury
rf – Drew
dh – Ortiz
bench – Crisp
bench – Cora

sp – Beckett
sp – Matsuzaka
sp – Schilling
sp – Wakefield
sp – Lester
sp – Buccholz
rp – Papalbon
rp – Okajima
rp – Delcarmen
rp – Tavarez

That leaves 4 spots open, a back-up catcher, a bench outfielder, a utility guy (with OF and IF capability, ala Hinske) and 2 pitchers (or 1 pitcher and another bench guy). Usually at this point, there is a ton to figure out and many questions to answer, but 2007 is different. Peter and I discussed this today, the lack of talent in the free agent pool means most, if not all of the major decisions are done. All that is left for Boston is to trade Crisp, fill out the bench and settle on the rest of the bullpen. Those are relatively minor decisions when discussing the 2008 Red Sox.

Hankenstein

For those of you who haven’t heard, Rob Neyer suggested Hankenstein as a nickname for Hank Steinbrenner and I think it is kind of catchy.

Anyway, Tim Marchman has an excellent piece in the NY Sun today about Hank and his impact on the Yankees. For those of us who think Hank should zip it, it is a sobering reality check.

ESPN Report

Let’s Go All In!

Ok, so the rumors are that Rivera has come to his senses and accepted the Yankees deal. That means New York has probably retained three of their four big free agents and only Pettitte is a question mark at this point. So, what should the Yankees do at this point?

Since rebuilding is obviously not in the cards, how about throwing some serious cash around? How about the Yankees go out and spend like only the Yankees can spend? On what you ask? Consider the following.

First, go and offer Francisco Cordero $40 million for the next four years to setup/close. I say both because let’s face it, chances are Mariano is going to stop being effective at some point in the next three years. So, get Cordero in for a ridiculous number as a setup guy, but you also get Mariano’s replacement in the same move. This clearly sends Joba to the rotation, where he will be needed.

Get Vizcaino back for three years and maybe $12 million? Whatever it takes, just sign the guy.

Next, give Pettitte more money to leave Houston. I am sure he is torn by his family obligations, but at some point he will sign for a paycheck. Maybe the price is $18 million, maybe it is $20 million, I would find out and get him back.

Then head to Minnesota and offer them Hughes, Melky and Horne for Santana. This may or may not get it done, but I think it at least keeps the conversation going. If you have to, throw in Kennedy, but under no circumstances give away Joba or Cano.

Give Giambi and Farnsworth away, even if it means getting 25% of their salaries back. They are no longer needed here.

Lastly, sign Andruw Jones to a monumental two-year deal. I am thinking two years for $45 million or so. Adding Jones takes care of the hole in center and adds a potent righty bat to the lineup. Overpaying him for two years gives you time to see if Austin Jackson is for real.

So, when you add it all up, what do you have? You have a team that just added around $30-40 million in payroll and has a pretty awesome lineup and rotation.

Damon-LF
Jeter- SS
Abreu-RF
A-Rod-3B
Matsui-DH
Jones-CF
Posada-C
Cano-2B
Duncan/Betemit-1B

Santana
Wang
Pettitte
Joba
Mussina

And you have Rivera with Cordero and Vizcaino setting up and a bunch of young arms coming out of the pen (Ramirez, Ohlendorf, Britton, Cox, Sanchez, etc.)

That team should score runs by the bunch and with Santana anchoring the rotation, do well in the playoffs. Nothing is guaranteed, but I would take my chances with this club.

Of course there are other approaches and we will discuss those more in the upcoming week.

And Then There Was One…Maybe

The Boston Herald and Boston Globe are both reporting that Mike Lowell’s suitors now number one. The one being the Red Sox. The Globe sites ESPN’s Peter Gammons who said he believed the Yankees had withdrawn their offer to Lowell with the signing of Alex Rodriguez.

That means he has a 3-year deal worth something in the $36mm to $42mm range from Boston. Word is he wants a 4th year and who can blame him?

Both the Globe and Herald are suggesting he might make a decision this weekend. My concern is that both the Anaheim Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers are making a play for Florida Marlins Miguel Cabrera. The loser might be apt to make a run at Lowell if he is still on the market. So it might make sense to Lowell’s team to wait things out. That being said, you can be sure the Red Sox offer isn’t not going to last forever. Their leverage is that they can withdraw their offer at anytime and I’m sure Lowell knows this.

So there is risk in any decision. Lowell can wait to see if a better offer comes along, but get left holding the bag if Boston withdraws its offer (and Boston would then be dealing from strength), or he can sign now with Boston (but potentially leave money on the table if either LA club were to have offered a better deal). The Red Sox risk losing Lowell too should they jank their offer. No matter what, it really does seem that Lowell has 1 legit offer on the table now and that is from Boston. Seems like a no-brainer to me Mike. Let’s sign that contract and enjoy the next 3 seasons.

Molina’s Coming Back

Nothing I would get very excited about, but Jose Molina has agreed to a two year/$4 million deal to serve as backup for the Yankees. I have bored you enough about the Yankees’ need for a real backup catcher so I won’t again, but it would be nice if they didn’t just cross this off their list.

The lead of the story announcing the Molina signing contains some interesting news on Rivera. Apparently MLB is upset with the current Yankees’ offer to Rivera because they feel it will inflate the market for relievers. They are right of course and I would imagine that their concern will keep the Yankees from making a bigger offer if they were inclined to in the first place. (I don’t think they were)

I understand Mo’s pride has been hurt here, but he needs to suck it up and sign the contract. If he can get more somewhere, then by all means go get it, but the Yankees do not owe him more money and the people who keep saying he was underpaid for years need to reconsider their position. He may have been underpaid in the 90’s, but since 2000 he hasn’t been and he has made almost $80 million and pitched about 650 innings including playoffs. That’s about $123,000 an inning, not too shabby.

At Least It’s Not A Paternity Suit….

Looks like #2 might be in trouble with the law.

I know a lot of people who also claim to be Florida residents but spend a lot of time in New York so Derek isn’t alone, but you would think a guy who makes $20 million a year wouldn’t miss the roughly 10% it costs the rest of us to be residents of this great state and city. (Note to any tax officials reading this. By saying “know” I mean I have heard that some guy down the street, a street I don’t really know the name of, may have gone to Florida last month to visit his sick grandmother. On his way to the airport, I am pretty sure he stopped off at a New York tax office and made an estimated payment, but I am probably confused about the whole issue and I could never testify in a court about any of this. Wait, I forgot what my name is.)

Even More Lowell

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is reporting that the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles have NOT offered Mike Lowell a deal. So if you believe reports, he has offers not from Atlanta, St. Louis, or Philly, but instead New York (Yankees) and Boston. The Angels are after Miguel Cabrera. If they fail to get Cabrera, perhaps they will turn their attention to Lowell. But just how long will the Marlins negotiate before they pull the trigger on a deal for Cabrera?

When matched up against all the reports in the last 24 hours, Lowell has 2 offers, from the Yankees and Red Sox. In the words of Fletch: “Irwin M. Fletcher you choose…”

While We Were Sleeping

You know the thing that strikes me about a story like this isn’t how improbable this outcome seemed a few days ago. Instead it’s how all of this happened without anyone being the wiser to it. While all of the press was out chasing the latest rumors, all of this happened, LAST WEEKEND!

I mean seriously, you have to give everyone involved in this props for dropping the cone of silence on these proceedings. Considering that we live in a 24/7 news cycle, it really amazes me that this thing didn’t crack until apparently all of the interested parties wanted it to.

No More Mo?

This story is interesting on two fronts. First off, it confirms what many of you have suggested, Hank’s mouth is costing the Yankees. And it tells you that Mo wants a fourth year.

Look you cannot begin to calculate Rivera’s worth to the Yankees these past 12 years. The guy has been lights out and his plaque belongs in Monument Park as soon as he retires. But, the economics of baseball mean that you just can’t make a bet on a fourth year with him. Based on his career, Mariano has pretty consistently pitched 70-something innings a season. So, if the Yankees offer of $15 million a season is true, they are willing to pay him about $200,000 an inning next year! (Roger Clemens just got about $175k per inning)

All of those assumptions are based on the idea that Mo stays healthy throughout his deal. If he gets hurt, the math gets even uglier and pitchers in their late 30’s and early 40’s almost always get hurt for some part of the season. The Yankees have been burned by plenty of guys who fit that age demographic over the past few years. From Randy Johnson to Kevin Brown to Roger last season, age got the best of them. It gets the best of all of us and betting against it is always going to make you a loser. The Yankees can roll the dice and pray that Mo stays healthy for four years, but it is a stupid gamble. If he insists on the fourth year, I would thank him for everything and wish him well in the future. Someday the Yankees were going to have to replace Rivera and this might be that moment.