Meet the new ace…same as the old ace: The big Schill pulls a Pedro

February 1st, 2007 → 10:06 am @ // 21 Comments

Let’s see: in the months since the ’06 season ended, the Sox were seconds away from trading Manny, until they weren’t. They were about to lose the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka, until they didn’t. They signed J.D. Drew to a five-year deal, until they didn’t, and then they did. And in just the last week, the Red Sox were thisclose to a deal to bring Todd Helton to Boston, and then they weren’t. In the midst of all this, the New York Times has been waging a bizarre jihad against Theo Epstein, who, oh, by the way, happened to get married. (Don’t worry: he nuptials did not really feature Coney Island’s Nathan’s hot dogs.)

It’s been a hectic offseason. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for a calm couple of weeks until spring training starts.

It shouldn’t be too much to ask, but it is. With Curt Schilling in danger of being supplanted as the team’s top pitcher by Dice-K, Schill pulled a Pedro and picked up the gun #45 had pointed at the Sox’s front office before the ’04 season. Less than a year after saying ’07 would be his last season in the bigs, Schilling announced — on WEEI, naturally — that he would pitch in 2008. Oh, and he sure as shit better get a deal before April 1. “There won’t be any distractions in questioning because if I don’t have a contract before the season starts, then I’ll get a contract after the 2007 season, as a free agent,” Schilling said last night. What if the Red Sox want to, you know, see how a 40-year old whose last two years could generously be described as up and down was doing once the rigors of the season started? “That’s not going to happen,” he said. “I think I’ve earned the right to do one or the other. If they don’t think the risk is worth the reward, or vice versa, I get that.”

That language might sound familiar to readings of Feeding the Monster. Here’s how I described the situation as it stood in spring training 2004…a couple of months after the Sox signed Schilling:

“Pedro Martinez, meanwhile, who was paid $14 million in 2002 and was signed for $15.5 million in 2003, said he felt disrespected by the fact that the club hadn’t picked up his $17.5 million club option for 2004. If the Red Sox didn’t act by the time the 2003 season started, Martinez said, he’d assume his career with the club was over. ‘It’s bye-bye once the year starts,’ he told reporters. ‘I’m gone. I’m just going to pitch. I won’t wait until the All-Star break to talk to them.’ …

With Schilling on board, Martinez wondered if the Red Sox were planning on keeping him around beyond the 2004 season, and without a contract, he was both hesitant to risk further injury and worried about giving the impression he was less than totally healthy. Martinez’s anxiety about pitching during one season before he knew if he’d get paid for the next had been apparent since 2003, when, during spring training, he began agitating for the Red Sox to pick up his 2004 option. Now, when he spoke of Grady Little’s decision to leave him in Game 7 of the previous fall’s American League Championship Series against the Yankees, he talked not of the fact that the game was on the line but of the risk to his arm. “I was actually shocked I stayed out there that long,” he told Sports Illustrated. ‘But I’m paid to do that. I belong to Boston. If they want me to blow my arm out, it’s their responsibility.’ …

The same fragility that made Martinez anxious about securing a long-term deal made the Red Sox concerned about giving him one. ‘The arm angle Pedro had in spring training was very worrisome,’ says John Henry. When Henry asked one of the team’s top baseball operations executives what kind of season Martinez would likely produce, the answer stunned him: ‘I was told, ‘He’ll win 12 or 15 games, have a 4.00 ERA or a 3.50 ERA.’ And I was like, ‘Fuck.’’ Despite this prediction, the team wanted to re-sign its star. ‘I thought he should finish his career in Boston,’ says Henry. …

On April 30th, as the Red Sox sat in the visiting clubhouse in Arlington, Texas, waiting for a thunderstorm to pass, Martinez decided to chat with the Herald’s Michael Silverman, his favorite reporter on the beat. Martinez told Silverman he was cutting off all negotiations with the Red Sox until season’s end. ‘I’m just really sad for the fans in New England who had high hopes that…I was going to stay in Boston,’ Martinez said. ‘[The fans] don’t understand what’s going on, but I really mean it from my heart—I gave them every opportunity, every discount I could give them to actually stay in Boston and they never took advantage of it. Didn’t even give me an offer.’ His contract status, he said, wouldn’t be a distraction for him or the team ‘because I’m not going to allow it.'”

It’s no secret that Pedro and Schilling were not the best of friends, and it’s no secret that Pedro was wounded that Schilling overtook him as the Sox’s best pitcher. It turns out the two pitchers might not be that different after all. Negotiating in the media? Check. Playing on fans’ emotions and Boston’s tendency towards soap operas? Check. Needing the attention focused on himself? Check.

On the upside, 2004 — another season with its fair share of drama — ended up okay when all was said and done.

(Obligatory FTM plug: The reviewers love it, it was a New York Times bestseller, and it’s available for only $17.16 on Amazon. Oh, and, of course, signed, personalized bookplates are still available free of cost. And How can you resist?)


Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Curt Schilling & Daisuke Matsuzaka & Pedro Martinez & Red Sox front office & Theo Epstein

21 Comments → “Meet the new ace…same as the old ace: The big Schill pulls a Pedro”


  1. Shalomar

    10 years ago

    TIME FOR A JD DREW CONTEST

    It’s time to initiate a contest to predict JD Drew’s offensive numbers this year (similar to the Ortiz contest last year where the winner got a signed Feed the Monster). For example, could allocate 50% to your batting average guess, 25% to RBIs, and 25% to dingers to come up with a total score (must be a stats geek out there who could come up with a good formula?).

    I’m throwing out a fairly big year for JD:

    Avg: .302
    HRs: 27
    RBIs: 106

    The tiebreaker could be Julio Lugo’s #s, for whom I am also predicting a large year:

    Avg: .284
    HRs: 14
    RBIs: 81

    Reply

  2. HFXBOB

    10 years ago

    Seth, you’re right, this is so Pedro-esque. When Schill says he’ll accept $13 million for 2008 because the money ‘is not a very big deal to me’ doesn’t that sound like Pedro righteously telling the press how he’d offered every possible discount to Sox management.

    At times like this you have to acknowledge that it is not an easy job running this team. Instead of having a Schilling who’s simply retiring at the end of the year, suddenly they have a Schilling who potentially goes into the season unhappy and a distraction. So what they do? My guess is they re-sign him fairly soon.

    Reply

  3. miles44

    10 years ago

    Why haven’t we seen a bitter column from Shaughnessy yet on Schilling’s demand? Because black/Hispanic players who act selfish are divas, but white players who act selfish are Ted Williams/John Wayne types who don’t need the public’s approval because they know what’s right.

    Reply

  4. magnetichf

    10 years ago

    i dunno, maybe race is a factor here. but the pedro quotes that seth included above definitely sound a bit more inflammatory to me than what schilling’s been saying.

    maybe it would be a bit more accurate to say that this has to do with culture more than race. every society has it’s own richly nuanced way of communicating. schilling, having been born and raised in america, and being, from all appearances, a fairly intelligent guy, knows how to communicate in a way that doesn’t come across as overly petulant or arrogant (ok, most of the time).

    it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that pedro, being from a different culture, and not being a native english speaker, simply communicates in a way that would raise not a single eyebrow among his native countrymen, but that occassionally rubs some american sports fans the wrong way. being a professional athlete, after all, is a lot about PR. there’s got to be some effort involved in getting the average joe fan to like you even as you get paid obscene amounts of money to run around a field in tight pants. schilling obviously plays this game well. pedro has played it well at times and not so well at others.

    imagine yourself in a foreign country, working as a professional athlete and trying to build a positive image for yourself using a language that you didn’t grow up speaking. it’s not too much of a stretch to think that there would be some occassional bumps in the road. add to that the natural volatility and unpredictability of human personalities, and it’s amazing we can stomach any pro athlete.

    Reply

  5. gmschmidty

    10 years ago

    a fairly intelligent guy, knows how to communicate in a way that doesn’t come across as overly petulant or arrogant

    That was sarcasm right?

    Reply

  6. GMAN

    10 years ago

    Like just about all MLB players, Schilling has a very self-centered perspective. But we should let the year play out before we put Schill and Pedro in the same category. If this becomes a big probles and Curt turns into a major drama queen, then point taken. But let’s get there first.

    BTW – the Drew contract was for 5 years, not 7. It just seemed like an extra 2 years were added on because of how long it took to get the deal signed….

    Ooops — duh. Thanks; it should be fixed now.
    — Seth

    Reply

  7. redsoxtimes

    10 years ago

    The mechanics of the situation may be similar, but I don’t think Schilling’s actions qualify as “pulling a Pedro”. The Pedro negotiations had already taken turns (options picked up, injuries, etc) and Pedro was looking at a large multi-year contract).

    Schilling is look at a year extension, no raise. If I am the Sox, if I don’t know that I want to take the risk, let him walk. If you think $13 mm is a fair price for a #2 – #4 starter (which it might be…especially in a one year deal), then give him the contract.

    Schill knows that Theo doesn’t want to negotiate during the season…so it will either get done before it starts or he’ll have his freedom after the season to go somewhere else or re-up.

    What woudl be interesting is what would happen if after the season the Red Sox offered the 1 year $13 mm for ’08. Would Schill turn his back and tarnish his legacy?

    Tim
    Red Sox Times

    Reply

  8. Madwoman

    10 years ago

    But it’s not really the same thing…Schilling, for example, didn’t say the Red Sox had to sign him or lose him, he just said he didn’t want to negotiate during the season, but would certainly consider signing with Boston as a free agent afterwards. And, after listening to what he said on NESN, it seems to me he is going out of his way to say he does NOT feel disrespected by the Sox’ failure to immediately give him what he wants, but rather understands that they have a different perspective on the question than he does.

    As for feeling upstaged by Dice-K – well, he cited the chance to pitch with him as one of his reasons for wanting to stay in Boston. I’d think Schilling’s history with Randy Johnson and his willingness to come to Boston to be #2 behind Pedro would argue against his being bent out of shape at the thought of Matsuzaka stealing the limelight. Or do you think he is learning Japanese just so he can play mind games with the guy?

    As to taking the negotiations public, Schilling says the media had gotten hold of the story and would have broken it without his consent, so he took the initiative in order to make sure his position was correctly stated.

    Reply

  9. UWS_Sox

    10 years ago

    You’re not considering the critical difference.

    Schilling is seeking a 1 year re-upping. Had Pedro wanted to go year-by-year, the sox would have laid out the money. There is no way the Sox should consider Schilling for a 3-4 year extension, but the risk of adding one year is small.

    Given the money the Red Sox and everyone else seems willing to throw at a generally effective, but not AL East dominating Roger Clemens, shows just how far clubs will go for pitching if they can pay for it a year at a time.

    I don’t think it has much to do with race. Perhaps certain people’s inability to see the difference in what Pedro meant to Boston vs. Johnny Damon, as evidenced by their frustration when people still loved Pedro last summer has somethign to do with race. All of these actors are self-interested. Pedro at least gave the chance to match what he was offered and they were just didn’t want to match. Damon didn’t even bother to give them a phone call because Boras wouldn’t like his bluffs to get called in the future (ie, 6 teams interested). I have a hard time thinking anyone can really feel betrayed by Pedro. Instead it feels more like just frustrated that another team was willing to pay him more, and knowing that we genuinely weren’t willing to match it, and knowing how special Petey was, quirks and all. Damon probably would have gotten the sox to match, or close enough to it, and didn’t make his agent even present the option.

    Reply

  10. tinisoli

    10 years ago

    If I were Theo I wouldn’t even consider giving Schilling another year right now. Even if he has a really good year, it seems unlikely that the Sox or any other club would give him more than $13 million for 2008. So why bother guaranteeing him that money now, before we’ve seen what he’s got left in the tank? He’s just angling for another contract and another $13 million. With the Sox’ young staff and prospects, why invest so much in an old pitcher who hasn’t been that great in two years?

    Let’s talk in the fall, Curt.

    Reply

  11. GoSoxGo

    10 years ago

    Seth, I purchased your book from a local Barnes and Noble. Autographed copy – thank you very much. I couldn’t put your book down. I read it cover to cover over a Saturday/Sunday. The unfettered access you had to the Sox – is a testament to the ownership and management and coupled with your writing style – is why your book is so superb.

    Ok – now that the kudos are over…I was very surprised by this post. Up front – I’m a big Schilling fan. I assign a large portion of the credit to Theo and Schilling for the win in 2004. Had Theo not made that trip to Arizona and had Thanksgiving dinner with Schilling vs. my friend (who he was supposed to join) – 2004 would have looked a lot different.

    Calling him Pedroesque is unfair. He doesn’t have an agent. He negotiates for himself. Therefore, he doesn’t have an agent leaking info. to the press or making his case. His confidence allows him to make his own case. You have to respect a player that publicly states that $13 million is an obscene amount of money and if he was only concerned about money, he would hire Boras. This guy is a straight shooter.

    How can you blame any player for wanting to have negotiations sewn up before the season? His statements were very fair on WEEI. He has earned the right to secure a deal without waiting. Finally, haven’t we all realized that 13 million in this crazy pitchers market is “fair”? Schilling conveys confidence with a touch of positive arrogance…not paranoia or jealousy. He has been Daisuke’s biggest supporter. He has embraced the community. The Sox know this and my prediction is that they will reward him appropriately to the benefit of all Sox fans.

    Reply
  12. […] The Schilling Dilemma Curt has decided not to retire at the end of the 2007 season, which makes things pretty stinkin’ interesting.  As Seth Mnookin notes, it is a scenario quite similar to Pedro’s ‘demand’ to negotiate before the season began, or else.  On the positive side, he doesn’t want a raise.  He’s willing to take $13 million, which in the current market is a bargain.  Pitchers who lack the determination and skill of Curt are getting more. […]

    Reply

  13. maineiac

    10 years ago

    I think the key issue is one year versus a multi-year contracts. Sign him. First off, if the Yanks were able to trade the mad-pissed-off Unit, and he got an extension on top of it all (after his numbers last year), then the Sox aren’t really risking that much. Second, Pawtucket doesn’t really have a crop of young studs ready to jump up and make starts. Sign him for one more year then be ready to move on to Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden, Bryce Cox, or Kris Johnson lower in the farm system.

    Reply

  14. s1c

    10 years ago

    This is not even close to being a drain on the team. Schilling simply said, look if a deal isn’t done by the end of Spring Training then I become a free agent, he did not say that he would walk away from the Sox he just said that they may see things differently. Personally, I say give him the money, at worst he will be the #3 starter in 2008, but more likely he will be the team Ace.

    Reply

  15. Gee

    10 years ago

    it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that pedro, being from a different culture, and not being a native english speaker, simply communicates in a way that would raise not a single eyebrow among his native countrymen, but that occassionally rubs some american sports fans the wrong way.

    Reply

  16. fredgarvin

    10 years ago

    You criticize Schilling for negotiating through the media. I would ask the same question of the Red Sox. Is the Red Sox front office using Mnookin to negotiate through the media?

    Last year, this is the team that had to rely on guys named Gabbard, Pauley, Snyder and Johnson for starting pitching. Oh! And let us not forget they traded away Arroyo. Did they not learn their lesson that you cannot have too much starting pitching? And now, they actually have to think about whether or not they want to extend Schilling’s contract for one year. Perhaps they would prefer to have him in pinstripes in 2008. Once he hits free agency, all bets are off – no team is off limits. Just ask Johnny Damon.

    And for those who question whether Schilling would be worth $13M in 2008, take a look at the contracts that Ted Lilly and Gil Meche just signed. And don’t forget what Matt Clement is being paid, either. If Schilling gives you a full season of .500 baseball, $13M for 1 year is not outrageous by today’s standard.

    It seems like many of the people that criticize Schilling focus on the fact that he is opinionated. That has nothing to do with baseball. They don’t focus on ERA, SO, BB, IP, etc. They will mention his age as a concern as well but I wonder if they were voicing similar concerns about age when the possibility that Clemens might come back to Boston was raised.

    They’re only negotiating through me if they’re using secret mind-control techniques or ESP. I haven’t spoken to anyone over there about this. What’s more, if they wanted to launch a PR campaign of their own and my blog was the best they could do…well, I’d be worried.

    — Seth

    Reply

  17. timbuktu82

    10 years ago

    I am completely taken back with your use of the word “Jihad” in the first paragraph of your posting. It is culturally unsensitive to throw that word around if you do not fully understand its meaning.

    Reply

  18. bwessels16

    10 years ago

    This may have some Pedro echoes, but the fact is, this is short money for a #2 starter in today’s market. And it’s only a year. If the Sox are going to be risk-averse, why didn’t they start with Matt Clement, Coco Crisp, Julio Lugo, or J.D. Drew? Why were they pursuing Helton? My word, this pales in comparison.

    Reply

  19. shmoozini

    10 years ago

    Q: How much longer can Seth posture as insider par excellence on the basis of a book written on a season now about to be 3 years old?

    A: Probably as long as there are unsold FTMonster books and BDD is willing to shill for him while he’s taking out Schill. Come now, is there much difference between Schilling negotiating thru the media and Seth desperately trying to sell his outdated book thru the media?

    P.S. Hard to imagine — after the book — that anyone in the Sox organization would provide Seth any information of such value that they would even give it to Shaughnessy.

    Reply

  20. rog

    10 years ago

    As far as negotiating through the media, I have to point out the inherent hypocrisy that lies therein. You’ve got a Boston sports media machinery that desperately needs this type of story (and quotes from the actual player, on top of it) that will keep people buying their papers, reading their websites and listening to their radio shows. A story like this is like crack cocaine to a drug addict. You’d think that media members would be happy to have something interesting to talk about, but then Schilling says something worth blogging about and he’s accused of doing something ‘through the media.’ If the media members are offended by an honest quote, then they should take the high road and not talk about the contract situation. I’ve lived in cities where people calling in on radio shows were taken off the air for criticizing a manager’s decision or a player with a crappy batting average. Boston media is incapable of taking the high road and I would think they’d be ecstatic that they have something to talk about other than the Celtics or the Bruins. But as usual, the Boston media is miserable. Just a miserable bunch of angry human beings. No individual member of the media (or blog like BDD) would ever fess up to trying to run a player out of town, but the pattern defies any type of worthy defense. Every one of you contribute a little piece to this enormous problem, you miserable bunch of humans. If the Boston media stopped making a huge mountain out of this contract ‘situation,’ then Schilling wouldn’t be able to do anything through the media, much less negotiate a multi-million dollar contract.

    Reply
  21. […] • It is time for another Wing Bowl! [The 700 Level] • Reasons to root for the Colts and the Bears. [The Loss Column] • Is anyone ever going to hit .400 again? [One More Dying Quail] • All kinds of great college basketball last night. [I Dislike Your Favorite Team] • The Bears might have all kinds of endorsement opportunities if they win Sunday. [The Beachwood Reporter] • What Jerry Maguire really meant for sports agents. [I Want To Be A Sports Agent] • Hey, maybe Bonds won’t get signed after all. [The Baseball Critic] • Jay Mariotti, on the campaign trail. [Boise Wants Jay] • Curt Schilling is starting to sound a lot like Pedro Martinez a few years ago. [SethMnookin.com] • Enough with the AFL, boys. [Valentine’s Views] […]

    Reply

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