Thursday, November 30, 2006

Red Sox Nation... WARNING - may contain (pea)nuts

Just be thankful that this crew didn't get to Curt Schilling before the crowd at SOSH did.

With all due respect we feel that Mr. Drew is not worth the rumored amount in the potential deal and we stand together in hopes that someone hears our voices and refrains from making another huge mistake

I guess we are all entitled to our opinion... but seriously - a player isn't worth the rumored amount, sign my petition...

Is their a petition that I can sign that says "the minute the front office starts listening to polls of 'the Nation' in making personnel decisions, we the undersigned feel you should resign"? Just provide the link in the comments section.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Let's run the guy out of town... before he gets here

Well the jury is back, the verdict is in, and the convicted [insert your favorite lowlife scum term here] is sentenced to 5 (but hopefully only 4) years hard labor. To make up for the sentence though, the jailer hopes to pay the [insert that reference again] $56m - $70m.

At least I presume that JD Drew has committed some sort of crime to deserve this type of "welcome"!

At some point, presumably not in my lifetime, Sox reporters, and the media at large, will get over the fact that the Red Sox did not want Johnny Damon on their team in 2 years time. They never got the chance to offer Damon what the Yankees did - Damon's choice, no one else's - but we continue to slaver over him as if he were some sort of giant who won the world series single handedly for us. But then I suppose Damon did do that again with his new team...

As for the 'some player's aren't cut out for here' BS - I wonder why - maybe because the local media have already decided they don't want him, and will slaughter him at every opportunity?

It was LA where JD picked up the 'Nancy Drew' moniker - he missed 90 games in LA in his first year with a broken hand - what could he possibly do about that? He got hit by a ball - ah well he was dogging it. He missed 16 games in 2006 - why would you want that loafer in RF when we could just re-sign Trot 'Dirt Dog' Nixon - ah but Trot is a dirt dog, he always plays... except he missed 50 games in 06, 40 games in 05 and 110 in 04... I mean, let it go Boston press, 'DL' Drew as we wittily know him for the next four years has played more games in that period than gamer Trot Nixon, and at least he has put up serious production in the games he did play.

And Tony La Russa, the only manager in baseball history to manage two teams to WS sweeps, is the genius that we want to rely on for player assessment - he got Renteria right, so he must be right on JD? So why don't we just sack Theo and just run all our potential deals past TLR to get his thoughts?

In 2004 Drew played 145 games, in '05 a broken hand limited him to 72 games, while in '06 he played 146 games. Maybe, just maybe, the patella tendinitis in his knee really did impact him while he played for TLR, and maybe, just maybe, the guy who will hopefully be manning RF in Fenway next year isn't the same player that was in St Louis.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yankees win Igawa rights

ESPN's Buster Olney, who got the Daisuke Matsuzaka story on the nose, is now reporting that the New York Yankees have won the rights to Japanese lefty Kei Igawa at a daunting $25m.

That is too much money for me but I'll try and leave Yankee fans with the up side:

He's a lefty.

He's only 27.

He has a history of logging 200 innings.

He has a plus curve.

His fastball sits in the lower 90's, not the upper 80's as reported in various publications.

He doesn't cost us a draft pick.

He might catch players off guard with his stuff.

He'll cost the same as mediocre pitchers like Gil Meche.

And after all that, I still don't like this at that price.

A video of Igawa pitching can be found here

Monday, November 27, 2006

An open letter to Buster Olney... and all the HoF voters who read this

In today's blog, Buster Olney touches on a subject that will likely get increasing coverage in the week's ahead... how should HoF voters deal with the steroid era?

You can read his full post behind the Insider wall, and I will quote a couple of sections, but there are a couple of things that make Olney's argument worth exploring - his conclusion in light of his earlier 'apologies' to the baseball world for his part in the non-reporting of the steroid era, but also his reasoning, as I think it will be the reasoning that each voter that ignores the steroid element of the steroid era will lean on.

From today's post:
I have a Hall of Fame vote, and as I've written here many times before, I will vote for the best players of the era, regardless of what is believed about whether or how or when they've used steroids.

To repeat, here's my quandary: If I don't vote for McGwire or Bonds or the other guys who have been in the middle of the public discussion over steroid use, then what do I do about the candidacy of other many great stars from the era who I believe -- but can't prove -- also used steroids?
So given this very principled stance - essentially going with the innocent until proven guilty* standard of justice - how can we help Buster ease his conscience and convince him not to vote for suspected steroid users?

(* Although this is undermined by his real position of, I don't care if you are guilty, I don't know who else is guilty, so I can't hold you to a different standard... this is just insane logic - the analogy would seem to be, I know that you were involved in a plot to commit a crime, but because we don't know who the other plotters were, I won't punish you... seriously?)

I would ease Buster's conscience by saying... rely on that other stalwart of our justice systems - reasonable doubt. Just don't vote for people that you have a reasonable suspicion were steroid users - it is that simple!

Players do not have a right to be in the HoF - it is an earned privilege. When you vote for someone for the HoF, every element of it is subjective - there is no scorecard that determines qualification, rather voters weigh the elements that are important to them within the historical context, and decide their votes that way. You are allowed to decide that the 583 home runs outweigh the .263 batting average, you are allowed to decide that the career 3.31 ERA doesn't make up for only 287 wins... I mean you (and I don't mean you specifically, I mean HoF voters generally) are wrong on that last one but... and that is the important bit... you are allowed to decide whatever you want.

'Reasonable' is a subjective standard - what is reasonable to me, that, for example, the Yankees should be disbanded for the good of the sport, may not seem reasonable to all - to me, reasonable is exactly the standard that you will use for all other parts of your HoF consideration, why should it not apply to steroid use?

You have the privilege of anonymity that means you never have to reveal your votes if you don't want to, or alternatively - you could go public. You could make up for the 5+ year period where you were silent, absolutely silent about steroid use, and say that you have reasonable doubts about a player's performance that mean you are unable to vote for a specific player. If you are worried about the legal implications there will be language that can be used - but again you could simply say nothing...

When the real steroid 'scandal' broke, when Congress decided there were votes in haranguing baseball players, Buster came out and said sorry - as a baseball writer, I let the baseball public down by not drawing attention to what appeared obvious to our eyes - and personally, I gave you credit for at least retrospectively taking your share of the responsibility for the steroid era, limited though that might be.

Yet now, you want to back track from that and vote the best performers of that era, regardless of your own suspicions about the way in which that performance was generated, into the HoF? So you stayed silent while you knew / suspected players of steroid abuse, and now you want to compound that error of judgment by voting players into the HoF, regardless of your views on whether or not they used steroids, to protect your conscience...

Frank Robinson shouldn't have to make his views, and no doubt the widely held views of many HoF's, public to try and influence the voting process - it is not Frank Robinson's job to protect the integrity of the HoF - that is your job as a HoF voter.

Having failed once, it is time to make sure you get it right this time round.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Very quick Matsuzaka thoughts

I literally have seven minutes until I leave for work and I still have to put on a shirt, jumper, coat and shoes but whilst I knew the Red Sox had won, I've just found that they won at $51.1m.

MLB people say the Mets bid $39-40m and the Yankees in the $32-33m range.

Just an absolute stunning amount of cash, and a signal that the Red Sox are ready to spend big and do whatever it takes to win it all and the beat the Yankees and the rest of the field, after RSN took a beatdown last year.

You've got to say the Red Sox have shocked everyone with their determination, a bid above $50m is crazy, but hey they won.

Enjoy your $15 beers Fenway folks.

Ok three minutes and counting...

Let the hysteria begin

Someone has to say it...

The Red Sox win... the Red Sox win... ttthhhhheeeee Red Sox win... the rights to negotiate.

Well at least one hot stove saga has reached part of its conclusion... almost.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The 'Evil Empire' win the Matsuzaka bidding war

Well if Larry Luccinho can call the Yankees the evil empire for committing $32m over four years to a player that the Red Sox wanted (Jose Contreras) then surely Yankees fans have the right to make a similar retort following the Sox committing around the $90-100m mark on a player the Yankees wanted?




In all seriousness, if the Red Sox have come up with over $40m to bid for the rights just to talk to this guy, which is the figure being banded about, then firstly they've overspent, but secondly, they've got the best option out there to bolster their starting rotation.

Every single projection has Daisuke Matsizaka at worst as a #3 guy on a good team, and in all honesty he's a #1/#2 guy. He would be a star for the Red Sox and props to them if they've won the auction, which now seems all but assured. I'm not going to say that because the Yankees haven't gotten him that he's suddenly a bad pitcher, I really think this kid will come over a win 18 games with an ERA in the mid 3's in the AL East, which is about as stud as you get in that division, and if I'm being honest, that is my worst case scenario for him, if he's injury free and settles into the American culture and way of life quickly, then maybe his line will be even better at the end of the year.

I do think they've overpaid for him, and I'd of thought the Yankees had at that price as well. However as a fan deep down you don't really care how much your team spends as long as you get the players you want, so that is probably only a minor point. One thing that I do feel is that the Sox have now lost the rights to sulk and moan about the 'Big, Bad Yankees' as they are committing a stunning sum of money to a player and are the favourites to commit to a huge contract to JD Drew n all. If they sign both these players then suddenly their payroll starts creeping up, still a fair stone's throw down from the Yankees I agree, but it'll be closer to $150m than $100m and for the 2007 season alone (because the posting fee is a one-off hit) then the amount spent on players would be pretty damn close.

I fully expect to hear noises out of Red Sox nation that the Yankees are evil at some point during the season, they are ruining the game, we can't compete etc, it just seems par for the course now.

Still, on the Matsuzaka front, the Sox have won this exchange and gained an ace, with Barry Zito the next biggest option out there, then you have to say that is is a huge win for the Red Sox in the opening round of the 2006/2007 off season. Last year then traded Hanley Ramirez, Anibel Sanchez and another whose name escapes me for Josh Beckett and won the opening exchanges, as yet that hasn't come to fruition as a great deal for Boston, the Daisuke Matsuzaka one though will have a very different outcome..

FInancial analysis

One other thing to get off my chest...

While the media make loud noises about the Sox irresponsibility in dragging the franchise into financial ruin, I just have to ask a simple question.

Should the Red Sox simply not have bid on this guy?

If the Sox are the highest bidder, and that is still an if at 11.50pm ET, what number should we be focusing on? Is it $42m, or is it, as this simple observer might suggest, the difference between $42m and the bid of the 2nd highest team?

If the Mets bid $38m, the Sox overpaid by $3,999,999.99 - spread over a 3, 4 or 5 year contract, is that really that silly a move? If the 2nd place team was the Rangers who may have bid $32m, the Sox would appear to have overpaid by $9,999,999.99 - spread over a 3, 4 or 5 year contract, is that really that silly a move...?

Presumably the contract that Boras negotiates with the Sox would be the exact same contract that he would have been able to negotiate out of every other bidder... well maybe except the Rangers, we know how Boras and Hicks get to it when Boras has Hicks negotiating against himself..., so whatever is spent there is the same for every team, so all we are really talking about is the dollars that the Red Sox bid, that the 2nd place team didn't. Even if that gap is as high as $20m, are we really saying that $20m is so crippling an amount that the Sox cannot compete for years to come?

So again, I would ask all commentators that want to complain about the Sox (seemingly) winning this auction, should the Sox even have been allowed to bid?

Financial ruin... *

Well, we had better enjoy the last days of our Boston Red Sox - admit it, it has been fun, we enjoyed it while it lasted, heck, we even got to see them win it all in our lifetime!

But sadly, it is all over. The media has decided - there is no way that the Red Sox can survive the financial mistake they are about to make... $42m on a guy that has never pitched in the majors... ever... why that is just crazy... apparently we should have spent that money on Johnny Damon... or Bobby Abreu... then we wouldn't be silly, and the future of the earth would be assured...

So basically I read it this way - if the Sox don't spend the resources that they have, they are just being cheap - not 'going the extra mile for their supporters' as one observer so memorably put it. If they do spend that money, they are not being smart, no "it wouldn't be because the Sox were particularly visionary. It would be because they were lucky." as Ken Rosenthal tells us in his Fox Sports column today. This really is a case of damned if they do, damned if they don't.

At some point, the national media will get over the fact that the Sox didn't re-sign Damon last year - may not happen in any of our lifetimes, but presumably at some point they will. But to assess whether Rosenthal et al have a point, lets look at the similarities between Damon and Matsuzaka, based on their 2006 stats:

































(Unadjusted for the fact that these were achieved in the equivalent of low A ball / Little League, while Damon played all his games against the AL All Star team).

Seriously, the Japanese guys ERA is over 2 runs higher than Damon - that is like us buying a guy with a 7 ERA relative to Beckett, and we all know that we should never have traded for that guy, not when we gave up the NL Rookie of the Year, and future multiple MVP, and a future multiple Cy Young award winner (guaranteed - guys that are that good in their rookie seasons always, ALWAYS, follow that up with HoF level careers), and don't even get me started on the embarrassing stats that I couldn't bring myself to quote to save me from the reflected shame... (hint, check out the number of losses each pitcher put up last year).

So, go on, criticize the Red Sox for over spending on a 26 year old pitcher, you would have criticized them for coming up a million short behind the Yankees as well, but that doesn't matter - they are just as bad as the Yankees now - and we all know how that hasn't worked out.

* PS - we don't even know whether the Sox have won, what they have bid, whether or not they can get the guy signed... but again, no matter!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Today is surely Matsuzaka day

It is a beautiful Tokyo morning.

We should finally hear who has won the rights to talk to this kid at some point today (this Tokyo day). I hope we'll know by the time I go to bed but surely by the time Neil H turns in we'll be in the know.

I really want him, Neil H hopes he's worth the hype.

The best bit about this whole process has been finding this Mount Fuji webcam, hopefully I'll get to see Matsuzaka in Pinstripes as a bonus!

Bye bye Bubba

The Bubba Crosby era is over in the Bronx after the OF agreed to a one year deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Crosby, who came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers with Scott Proctor for Robin Ventura on July 31 2003, had been unhappy that he'd been optioned to AAA and believed he didn't get the respect and playing time that he deserved.

I have to admit, I was one of the Yankee fans that wondered what the Bubba phenomenon was all about. He was a below average hitter, a decent fielder, an ok runner, but because he had all this supposed heart and guts, he was an important player for the Yankees. Well let's be honest, Bubba was not an important player for the Yankees and losing him is not in any way shape or form a blow to the 2007 team.

I hope Bubba does well for himself but he isn't good enough to be a starting outfielder in the bigs, and personally I question his ability to even be a 4th or 5th OF.

Cashman makes a Wright move?

New York Yankee fans can rejoice as pending approval from the commissioners office, Jaret Wright has been traded for RHP Chris Britton and cash to the Baltimore Orioles.

Wright, whose option is due today will be reunited with old pitching coach Leo Mazzone, but I doubt many Yankee fans give two hoots about that, they want to know how about whose we've got for the overpaid starter.

Chris Britton is a 278lbs monster who was the Orioles 8th inning guy last term. At just 23 years of age, the pitcher is still considered a prospect. His main asset is that righties hit just .186 off him last year, however lefties pounded him for a .301 average.

He was optioned back to AAA at the end of the season as his pre (2.20) and post (5.14) All Star ERA's are quite different. His fastball sits in the 89-92 range, which worried manager Sam Perlozzo before last season, "You can be a two-pitch pitcher and do something like that, but if you're a straight fastball guy and you're not throwing more than 96 or 97 mph, then you better have something else to get them off your heater."

The Yankees will also send money, believed to be $4m to the Orioles, which will cover the amount they would have to pay Wright anyway to buy him out of his contract for this year. Overall I'm certainly not sold on Britton, but essentially he is a free player for Wright, and at worst he will add a live arm to the 'pen and take some pressure off of Scott Proctor's shoulders.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Night time over on Fuji

It is now night over at Mount Fuji (trust me, it is Mount Fuji). Still no official word on Matsuzaka. Sean McAdam of the Providence Journal says that he believes the Buster Olney reports are 'probably accurate' and Ken Davidoff says that both NY team believe they have been beaten.

Day three of Matsuzaka watch and still we are nowhere near knowing where this kid will end up.

Friday, November 10, 2006

It is Saturday morning in Tokyo

The Sun has risen in Japan, will today bring Matsuzaka news?

Photo from the Mount Fuji Webcam

Update from Buster Olney via Sportscenter:

Red Sox wanted to win the rights for these three reasons:

1) Upgrades their starting with a #1-#3 projected starter on a good team with plus stuff.

2) Plants their flag in the Asian market.

3) At worst keeps him away from NYY in '07.

Update two via Scott Boras on XM Radio:

Boras has stated that the Boston rumours were false. Now how he knows this I don't know but according to those that heard him, he sounded pretty definate on the issue.

This whole thing should be made into a blockbuster film, it really should.

Sheffield traded

The Yankees have traded OF Gary Sheffield to the Detroit Tigers for three prospects, the Tigers announced today. Whilst everyone waits for word on the Japanese pitcher, the Yankees quietly stole the limelight by making a move which has impressed Yankee fans.

I am not a Minor League expert but I have heard good things about the top prospect in the deal, Humberto Sanchez. He is a 6ft6", right handed pitcher, who was ranked by Baseball America as the #3 prospect in the Tigers organisation. Also traded was #8 prospect Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett.

Sanchez split time in 2006 with AAA and AA whilst both other pitchers spent the year in A ball. The Yankees have seemingly not sent any money to the Tigers as part of the deal. Some fans had questioned why the Yankees had turned down a Scott Linebrink for Sheffield deal earlier in the week, but this is a better deal, one top ranked prospect in the upper levels and two good prospects for the farm.

As I've stated previously I'm no mL expert but from what I read elsewhere, the Yankees have done very well considering they could've got nothing for him had they not exercised their option.

Sox make highest bid, unsure if winners

Buster Olney is now reporting not as speculation but as informed fact through good sources that the Red Sox have made the highest bid for the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka. The bid is understood to be between $38m and $45m, which is a quite staggering amount just for the rights to speak to a player. Should the Red Sox now go ahead and sign the Japanese star then they will have to fork out at least another $38m on his contract due to a rule in the posting process meaning you have to at least match the amount posted in a players contract.

However there is talk and rumour flying across messageboard nation that the only reason the Seibu Lions have yet to accept the bid is the bid may not of been made in good faith, and that the Red Sox just want to keep Matsuzaka away from the Yankees for the 2007 season.

The last time the Yanks and the Sox went heads up for an international FA was Jose Contreras when the Yankees seemingly stole the Cuban from right under the Sox' noses.

Of course nothing official yet but this is the clearest news as yet on this much anticipated story.

Matsuzaka watch - Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers

It seems as though the general consensus is that one of the above teams has won. Jackie MacMullan said on NESN yesterday that she believed that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had stunned the big hitters to win the rights to talk to the Japanese hurler but no-one else seems to have the Angels as players.

There is an article claiming that the Rangers have indeed won at around $30m but also over at Buster Olney's ESPN Insider Blog there is talk that the Red Sox have blown everyone out of the water with a quite simply stunning $45m bid.

If the Yankees do not win then I wonder how quickly the stories will be written that this is great for baseball that the big bad empire didn't get the one they wanted. Of course if the Yankees do win then Yankee fans will have to deal with the media absolutely killing the Yankees and the system for spending more money than anybody else.

The long and the short of it though is that there is no news.

PS: I don't want him in Texas because of my fantasy team.

JD Drew an unrestricted FA

OK - I would call this officially interesting!

Another sign that the FA market this winter is not that strong - JD Drew, like Aramis Ramirez, before him, has chosen to void the final years on his deal, to take his "chances" on the market. Given that he is walking away from $33m, I am guessing his agent has given him a warm and fuzzy feeling about what might be out there.

Drew, who turns 31 on Saturday, hit .283 with 20 homers and 100 RBIs last season -- his second with the Dodgers. He signed a five-year, $55 million contract on Dec. 23, 2004, and had been guaranteed $33 million over the next three years with Los Angeles.

No one has ever doubted Drew's ability, the questions have always surrounded his willingness to display that talent consistently, and in an injury free manner. Indeed, many of the questions have seemed to surround just how serious an injury it actually takes to get Drew out of the lineup - a broken fingernail, a split end...

So do the Sox say those trends (SLG, OBP) are worrying, or is JD a RF option in 2007?



It is probably fair to say that the Dodgers aren't responding to Drew's actions the way the Cubs are;

"He wants out, he can have out. He's moving on, we're moving on. We'll find players who like playing here. If he doesn't want to be here, he has the right to leave"

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Let the bidding begin - Matsuzaka posted

The Seibu Lions today made it official as they posted the Yankees half of 3,079 Miles... favourite Daisuke Matsuzaka. The pitcher (who I incidentally already own in a keeper league due to my excellent drafting policy) is 26 years of age and had a 17-5 record with his Japanese side in the past season, posting a 2.13 ERA. He was also the MVP of the inaugural (ooo look at me with the posh word) World Baseball Classic.

The Yankees are expected to make a very strong run at him as are the Mets, however the Mariners who were expected to be strong suitors have seemingly pulled out of the bidding. It is a ruse to lull the big east coast teams into a false sense of security or have they really been priced out of it by the rumours of his posting fee being in the $25m-$30m range?

If the Mariners are being straight up with the media then you have to make the Yankees the favourites to land the pitcher. The posting fee doesn't count towards any luxury tax leaving the Yankees free to blow any teams out of the water with a bid. If Matsuzaka is posted for around $30m, which is at the top end of the scale and then signing a 4yr/$44m deal, then that would bring the total cost of Matsuzaka to $74m for just four years.

That is an awful lot of money but the Yankees desperately need starting pitching and despite him not having any ML experience, I'm backing him over the prized FA Barry Zito in a barren year for Free Agents.

Jeter wins third Gold Glove

For the third straight year Derek Jeter has won a Gold Glove in the American League at the SS position. In a move that'll piss off my good friend Pete J over at The Spurious World of Baseball the Yankee great has again won the award due to laziness on behalf of the voters who have overlooked better and more deserving defensive players for the award.

I may be a Yankee fan but I have no idea how no Red Sox players came away with a Gold Glove despite an excellent season defensively. Mike Lowell over at 3rd had a very deserving case but even more deserving was Alex Gonzalez, whose seven errors and .985 FP dwarfs Jeter's 15 errors and .975 FP.

I love Derek but he's only an average to good defensive SS and his forte is making the great plays. His range to his left is nothing to write home about and I really do question how he's gotten this award.

However if he wins the MVP I won't be so hard on him as for me, he is a legit candidate for that.