September 28th, 2008 → 1:02 pm @ Seth Mnookin
Today’s do (and possibly only delay death by a day) or die Mets game makes me, once again, mourn for the great Pedro Martinez of yesteryear. I know Johan was gangsta and all that–but it was Pedro circa 99-00 who was the real assassin. I’m not talking about the whole “use your head” imbroglio or even the throw-down
with Zimmer. I’m talking about days like days like September 10, 1999, when, save for a right-field porch Chili Davis shot and a first-batter Chuck Knoblauch HBP, Pedro was perfect, piling up 17Ks on route to one-hitting the eventual Series champs. It was the height of Dominican fervor, and fans up in the nosebleeds above left were posting Ks in the Bronx, mind you; afterward, there were chants of “Pedro-Sosa” throughout the streets surrounding the Stadium. It was the most beautiful game I’ve ever seen pitched. (And yes, I was there: with four comrades from Newton North. Things got ugly there towards the end of the night. At one point, I appealed to a cop for help. His response? “What do you want me to do?”)
February 10th, 2008 → 10:52 am @ Seth Mnookin
Some loyal readers have pointed out that there’s been an usually long period of silence coming from this corner; in fact, January was the first month FTM was quiet since we started (virtual) publication. There are some good reasons for this: I’ve been obsessing over my rapidly shrinking bank account; wondering why I felt compelled to buy real estate last spring; wondering why I felt compelled to buy tech stocks in the spring of 2000; wondering if I can make a career out of forecasting when bubbles are about to burst…well, you get the idea.
I’ve also been waiting for news–real news, news that’s worth talking about–to come out of Yawkey Way. There have been some minor developments, but call me crazy, I didn’t think Eric Hinske signing with the Jays was of true, earth-shattering importance.
I know what you’re thinking: what happened today? Did Curt’s shoulder actually fall off? Did Coco jump Jacoby in a back alley somewhere? Is Pedro coming back to the Sox as a bullpen coach? No, no, and no — and in fact, the news that brought me out of my winter hibernation was as commonplace as can be.
It was the staggering stupidity of our favorite punching bag: Murray Chass.
Chass has been, for as long as I can remember, a uniquely horrid sportswriter, one of those buffoons that make you wonder how folks like him manage to be gainfully employed. It’s not just that he’s lazy. It’s not just that he uses a column in a national newspaper to browbeat subjects who dare not talk to him. It’s also that he understands next to nothing about baseball.
Take today’s column, which, by the way, is buried, as always, deep within the Times‘s sports section. In a section titled “Giving Up Early,” Chass writes that the Sox “may yet regret that they were not more serious in their effort to win this winterâ€šÃ„Ã´s Santana sweepstakes.” Chass implies that the Sox interest in Santana was because “their primary interest preventing the Yankees from getting Santana,” but that now, with Schilling’s shoulder trouble, the Sox need a starter. (He then floats one of those conspiracy theories that make no sense to anyone save for the little monkey living in Murray’s brain: “Players these days are supposed to have physicals before signing contracts. If the Red Sox found no shoulder problem in November before Schilling signed an $8 million contract, why does he have a shoulder problem now?” Does he think Curt’s faking — you know, because he doesn’t care about playing? Or that the Sox secretly sabotaged their own efforts and blew $8 mil in the process? Anyone who can figure this out gets a free prize.*)
Now, since neither Schill nor Wake is going anywhere, the Sox are guaranteed of having two 40+ starters on their team. They also have Dice-K, Beckett, Lester, and Buccholz. You could reasonably assume that the team’s brass figured that one of their older starters were likely going to be in the shop for repairs at any given point…but that their stable of young arms protected them.
The Sox might also have decided that, at the end of the day, paying Santana $140 mil through age 35 might not make sense – the team does, after all, know a little something about the durability of hard throwing aces that weight in at under two bills once they hit, say, age 32.
But it’s ridiculous to say that Ye Olde Towne team was never interested. Any package that includes either Jon or Jacoby is clearly a serious one. (For the record: I was never in favor of a Santana deal.
So there you have it. Happy new year, folks. I’ll be seeing you again real soon.
* Note: There is no prize.
December 16th, 2007 → 12:54 pm @ Seth Mnookin
â€šÃ„ÃºThis is not a bluff; itâ€šÃ„Ã´s just reality.â€šÃ„Ã¹
– Hank Steinbrenner, December 2, 2007, when asked about his “firm deadline” of midnight, December 3, for the Yankees and Twins to complete a deal for Johan Santana.
– Hank Steinbrenner, December 4, 2007, when asked if the Yankees were willing to continue negotiations if the Twins became willing to accept the Yankees final offer.
“We’re still thinking about it. We haven’t ruled it out completely. We’re still considering it. I haven’t closed the door completely on Santana.”
– Hank Steinbrenner, December 14, 2007
December 4th, 2007 → 11:17 am @ Seth Mnookin
Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been strangely quiet as of late – and that silence has continued even after my return from a glorious, two-and-a-half-week trip to Southeast Asia. (I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: nothing says romance like reading a bio of Pol Pot on your honeymoon.) I’ve avoid my usual laundry list of excuses.
I will, however, say this: I’ve always been reticent about jawing off when I have no real idea what I’m talking about…and such is the case with all of the sundry Santana trade permutations. I don’t mean the specifics of a possible trade — no one knows those except for Theo, Bill Smith, and Brian Cashman. I mean that I don’t know enough (and what’s more, haven’t done the work) to be able to make any kind of responsible or intelligent observations about whether this or that scenario makes sense. I don’t have the drilled-down numbers on Jacoby; I haven’t run the projections on Santana; I sure as hell don’t have any sense of what the pool of pitching talent is like in next few amateur drafts; I don’t know where else the Sox (or the Yankees) would spend that $130 mil or so it’ll likely take to lock up Santana…well, you get the idea. And even if I did have all of this info and even if I had done all of this work, I still would be so many light years behind where the Sox front office is in terms of brainpower, man hours spent hunched over spreadsheets, cumulative knowledge, and on and on, that it would be silly for me to start soapboxing about why this or that scenario makes sense.
Which leaves me with…emotion. Emotionally, I don’t want to lose Jacoby, and this is even after the wife grew besotted with him after a recent lunch they shared together. Emotionally, I’m in love with homegrown teams. Emotionally, I want to go into battle with a roster that includes four homegrown players (Youk, DP, Jed Lowrie, and Ellsbury), two guys that the Sox should rightly get credit for growing (Tek and Papi), and a couple of hired guns (JDD and Manny). Emotionally, I want Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz and Papelbon and Manny DC and yes, even Craig Hansen to round out a rotation that’ll be anchored by Beckett and Dice-K for the next half-decade or so. Emotionally, I’m nervous about paying a premium for a pitcher’s post-30 years. And, dare I say it, emotionally I find something a little, well, gross, about the prospect of the Sox going out and buying the best left-handed pitcher in the game to augment what’s arguably already the best rotation in baseball.
But the Sox front office doesn’t get paid to traffic in emotion – and thank goodness for that. Emotion would have ended up with Nomar and Pedro still collecting paychecks from Yawkey Way and, in all likelihood, with a 90-year championship drought.
At the moment — at 10:02 am on December 4 — it sounds as if the Sox are actually close to a deal, one that would keep Ellsbury in Boston and send Lester, Lowrie, and Coco to Minnesota. (Sigh. Coco. I still love the guy.) If it happens, it could be a great deal. And if it happens, it’ll be worth paying attention to what happens to Lowrie down the line. Plenty of times, those third names that no one has ever heard of end up turning into pretty good players. It was Lester, after all, who was headed to Texas four years ago as part of the aborted Manny for A-Rod deal…
Anyway, if that deal does go down, the Sox will have to be the pre-season favorites…through, say, 2010. As an NL exec told Jayson Stark, a rotation that consisted of Beckett, Dice-K, and Santana, to say nothing of Schilling and Clay “Oh No-No You Don’t” Buchholz, “might just be the best team in the history of the frigging universe.” It would also complicate Tito’s job. Seriously: which of these guys do you sit down to tell he’s going to be a fifth starter?