If this blog had musical accompaniment, Paul Schaffer would be singing right now: Reader mail.

December 16th, 2006 → 12:57 pm @ // 4 Comments

It takes much more time to drive around suburban Boston to sign book stock than you might think. Which is why I ended up spending about nine hours in the car yesterday. (Having not been to Watertown’s Arsenal Mall since around 7th grade, I was saddened to see that I can no longer buy my checked shirts and skinny ties at Chess Kind. I can’t buy elaborate fark jokes at Spencer Gifts, either. Other than that, though, it felt very much the same.)

On the plus side, that gave me all day to listen to ‘EEI. (More on that later.) On the downside, that gave me all day to listen to ‘EEI. (More on that later too.)

Anyway, before I head out to Braintree, I wanted to answer some questions that have come up in your all’s comments. Without further ado…

“Seth: When you have a free moment after your whirwind tour of area bookstores, maybe you could weigh in on what Shaughnessy hinted at in his column today (maybe others have hinted at this, too); namely, that the JD Drew deal went down partly as a result of the Sox wanting to sweeten Boras up for the Dice-K deal. If so, does a spoonful of Dice-K make Drew more palatable, even to the doubters?”
unsure_egoist

Certainly there’s been lots of speculation about this. As I’ve said before, I think the Drew signing was a good one (as do lots of other people, including SI‘s Tom Verducci, although I can’t find that item online). What’s more, signing one of Boras’s free agents with the expectation that that will help grease the way to signing another isn’t part of the Red Sox’s MO — making decisions regarding a player’s value and sticking to that* — and Boras certainly is not the type of agent who would give a team a break because of a deal he’d made with another one of his clients.

With that answer, I’ll anticipate a follow-up question: why the big contract when the Sox appeared to be bidding against themselves? The answer is I think that’s a simplistic way of looking at things: when you look at the type of free-agent contracts that have been handed out, take into consideration that there are basically no more impact bats available, and realize that there’s still more than three months until position players report for spring training, it seems like a team that makes a trade or two and begins to feel like they have a shot but also have some offensive holes will very likely want whomever they can get their hands on. (Who’s to say the Cubs won’t find another $100 million to throw around?) And, as I pointed out in a Dice-K post, that $14 mil contract actually ages pretty well…assuming Drew does, too.

* Two caveats: obviously there are incidents where part of the Red Sox’s thinking takes into consideration a player’s overall worth (and not just his on-field worth), resulting in a contract that might exceed what they think he’s worth in pure baseball terms. See: Varitek, Jason. Also, while I don’t think for a moment the Sox are overpaying some Boras clients to have a better shot at landing others, the Sox, despite it all, have been able to craft an ongoing working relationship with Boras.

***

Speaking of Boras and his relationship with the Sox’s front office…

“but i guess i’m a little confused as to why. why wouldn’t boras take the yanks offer [to Damon] back to the sox to see if they’d beat it? was it the time pressure? were the yanks johnny’s real first choice?”
amos

There are a couple of theories I get into in varying levels of detail in the book. (And if you anticipated this, you guessed right: Signed copies available at a store near you! Personalized, inscribed bookplates too! Have I mentioned it makes a great holiday gift?) So briefly: there’s a chance Johnny, for whatever reason — the slammin’ nightlife, Michelle thinking she could be a celebrity on a bigger stage, whatever — actually wanted to go to New York. (It’s true: sometimes players want to leave Boston.) There’s also a chance — and I personally think this is more likely — that Boras wanted to prove he could take one of the most popular players on the most popular team in Red Sox history and have him jump ship to the Yankees; if he can get the two richest teams in baseball to bid against each other’s free agents, that’s only going to raise salaries.

***

shawn.orourke wants to know if there’s any chance Wily Mo will be used as trade bait. Sure, there’s a definite chance. The Sox need a closer, they have (a bit) of a surplus in the outfield, and WMP would, you’d imagine, get decent value in return. With the obvious exceptions of this year’s new signings, the only people who are really untouchable are Schilling, Papi, Papelbon, and Tek, so it’s possible that anyone could get traded. One of the reasons this front office has been so determined to be frugal about trading away their prospects/young players is so they have those players available if and when they have a hole that needs to be filled. It’s the same thing with the pitchers – MDC, Hansen, et al. — is so they have a surplus of young arms when there’s a need for that last puzzle piece. From a personal standpoint, I hope they don’t trade Wily Mo; he’s one of those players that’s simply fun to watch, and as Bill James once told me, that’s sometimes as good a reason to keep a player around as any. But I’d bet his name has come up in discussions. (Speaking of pitchers, yesterday’s bullpen pickups — Donnelley and Romero — mean it’s even more likely there’s more action on the way with the team’s pitching staff.)

***

Finally, michaelmc and dbvader are having a debate over whether J.D. Drew’s history shows he’s a chronic injury risk or a player who has gotten over the bulk of his physical problems. The answer, I think, is a little of both. If you go to the link for the graphic titled “Drew’s been hurtin’ for certain” in this Nick Cafardo piece, you’ll see a somewhat frightening run-down of Drew’s medical history. However, if you take a look at the last three years, pretty much every “injury” has been more along the times of a couple of days off for some normal wear and tear: with the exception of a broken wrist bone that resulted from getting nailed with a pitch, Drew’s time off since the start of the ’04 season has been limited to three games (stiff neck), five games (hamstring), three games (quad), and five games (knee). That doesn’t worry me too much; unlike, say, Nomar or Trot, those three years look pretty normal to me…


Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Dan Shaughnessy & J.D. Drew & Johnny Damon & Q&A time & Scott Boras & Wily Mo Pena

4 Comments → “If this blog had musical accompaniment, Paul Schaffer would be singing right now: Reader mail.”


  1. chris

    11 years ago

    I found this on Dirt Dogs: a translation of what Matsuzaka really said. He sounds like a decent interview after all.

    Reply

  2. Ogie Oglethorpe

    11 years ago

    Trading WMP is a possibility but he is the perfect insurance for Manny needing a day off or going down with an injury. I also think the Sox could be grooming him to be the starting LF two seasons from now.

    Reply

  3. djslippyb

    11 years ago

    Hey Seth,

    I have a question. At first I thought the posting bid the Sox made for Matsuzaka was outrageous. The particular rational of Henry bidding $51,111,111 seemed like a “Price is Right” strategy.

    Upon further reflection I see the wisdom in bidding so high (essentially the bid is riskless) and now wonder why other teams didn’t bid higher. For instance, why didn’t the Blue Jays bid $100 million and then not sign Matsuzaka simply to keep him off the Yankees and Red Sox without having to pay a dime? Was there some rule that you had to make at least an effort to sign the player? How would this be enforceable?

    -md

    Reply

  4. chris

    11 years ago

    MD:

    There’s no rule, but the suspicion is that the Commish could have stepped in and ruled the bid a sham, and just reposted the player. A team like the jays couldn’t pull off such a strategy w/o a much more delicate approach.

    Reply

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