September 5th, 2007 → 10:48 am @ Seth Mnookin
I tend to have inauspicious timing when it comes to taking time off: I was in North Carolina when the news broke that the Sox had won the Dice-K sweepstakes and I was getting married when Buchholz threw his no hitter. (Note: this does not mean that I will be on my honeymoon should the Sox make it to the World Series.) This deprived me of the chance to write many breathless posts about Buchholz’s composure, the fact that on a weekend in which Pedro returned to the mound for the first time in 11 months the most exciting baseball involving someone with “Pedro” in his name came from Dustin “DP” Pedroia, or how the past four-games have served as a good illustration of the Sox’s front office philosophy.
Actually, that last point can be illustrated in a way that will encapsulate everything else I wanted to talk about. There were a handful of mentions over the last several days about just how Buchholz happened to arrive in Boston: he was the chosen with the sandwich pick the Sox got in the ’05 draft after Pedro signed with the Mets. At the time, Pedro was hailed as the savior of the Mets; over the next two years, as the deficiencies in the Sox’s pitching became more and more apparent, Theo et al were excoriated for letting the most exciting pitcher, well, maybe ever, decamp for Queens; they were also excoriated for any number of other supposed sins. (To quote one example, chosen at random: “…there have been many bad decisions since [the World Series] – letting Pedro Martinez and Johnny Damon escape to New York…Matt Clement, Rudy Seanez and Julian Tavarez, and the long-term contract for puzzling Josh Beckett, for starters,” from Phil O’Neill’s Worcester Telegram piece, “Epstein to blame for Boston’s downswing,” August 27. 2006.)
O’Neill, needless to say, didn’t revisit this topic over the weekend; nor has anyone else, as far as I can see. (I also haven’t seen O’Neill revisit his labeling the Beckett signing a “bad decision,” but I haven’t looked all that hard, either.) If you’re interested in just how horrendous Pedro’s three-year, $40-mil contract has been thus far, consider this comparison: since arriving at Shea, Pedro has started 54 games (and 354.7 innings) and gone 25-16 for a .610 winning percentage. Matt Clement, surely one of the Sox’s most disappointing signings of the last several years, has started 44 games (and thrown a total of 256.3 innings) and gone 18-11 for a .620 winning percentage. Put another way, Pedro’s been paid approximately $1.6 million per win and about $113,000 per inning; Clement has gotten a little less than $1.4 mil per win and about $98,000 per inning. I’m not pointing this out to illustrate how great Matt has been but how piss-poor Pedro has performed. (I’ll avoid getting into this too much, but I do feel compelled to point out the following: Pedro’s arm injuries could have been predicted; Clement getting nailed in the head with a ball traveling well over 100mph could not have been.)
As I was saying, pretty much all of this backstory has been ignored as Boston has reveled in the afterglow of Buchholz’s no-no…pretty much, but not entirely. Take Rob Neyer’s piece on ESPN, which I’m pointing out for reasons other than the fact that he very graciously refers to the ways in which Feeding the Monster addressed just these very issues in a section on the non-signing of Pedro in December of 2004. Neyer may be the only writer to lay out in plain English the implications of not overpaying Pedro many, many millions of dollars: “Because the Red Sox ‘lost’ Martinez to free agency, they were were awarded the 42nd pick in the 2005 draft, and they used that pick to draft Buchholz. So for the Red Sox, the Mets’ profligate offer to Martinez was a wonderful gift, and one that should keep on giving for a number of years.” Indeed. In fact, I’d bet Clay’s a gift we’ll all be talking about long after most folks have forgotten why he ever put on a Sox uni in the first place.
If you, too, want to deepen your understanding of everything happening in Red Sox Nationa and donâ€šÃ„Ã´t yet have your copy of Feeding the Monster, the Boston Globe and New York Times bestseller thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s been called â€šÃ„ÃºRed Sox porn,” don’t delay: Nowâ€šÃ„Ã´s the perfect time to buy your copy (available from Amazon for only $10.20 (cheap)â€šÃ„Â¶and you can even get your copy inscribed with one of these free, signed, personalized bookplates. Theyâ€šÃ„Ã´re really nice. Seriously: ask anyone you know who has one.
March 30th, 2007 → 1:40 pm @ Seth Mnookin
Only one more baseball-less weekend in 2007…at least until October. And sure, opening the season in Kansas City isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, although anyone who’ll actually be in Missouri should make sure to check out Posnanski and Bryant’s. Better yet, do both at the same time.
So to help get you through that final weekend, some thoughts about spring training, the upcoming season, and what to expect going forward…
* 38pitches. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Curt Schilling’s recently launched blog is always interesting, often entertaining, and usually informative. Feelings about Curt tend to run hot or cold; regardless of your take on the big righthander, you need to admire a pro athlete who actually takes time to answer questions sent in by the hoi polloi.
Actually, I guess you don’t need to admire it: Shaughnessy, in one of the meaner-spirited columns I’ve read in a while, painted the whole thing as one more way for Schilling to get his ass kissed. What’s surprising here isn’t that Shaughnessy is being a dick — he’s done that before — but that he missed the mark so completely. (This will surprise some people, but I actually think Shaughnessy is a very good columnist in that he’s great at hitting a nerve and is generally pretty fearless about public’s (and his subject’s) reactions. I often don’t agree with where he’s coming from, and I abhor some of what he’s done in the past…but that’s another story.+) As Daniel Drezner writes, Shaughnessy seems to betray some sort of primal fear: if athletes join the rest of the bloggerati, will the members of the tradition-bound fourth estate continue to lose readers? (It’s worth noting that Schilling provided the first official confirmation of Papelbon’s move to the pen…)
Drezner makes a good point. In this case, I think Shaughnessy’s also worried that he’ll lose access to one of the city’s most entertaining sports personalities. Schilling’s never been shy about expressing his disdain for Dan; in face, I’ve often wondered why Schilling spoke to him at all. Maybe now, he won’t…
Also worth nothing: starting Opening Day, Curt will run an 11-day contest; two winners a day will get the MLB.tv package. All you cable subscribers, take note…
* The NESN-Red Sox highlight clips controversy. (OK, fine, mini-controversy.) This is a story that’s definitely worth following; I’m surprised local stations aren’t making more of a fuss. A recent Globe article quoted NESN VP of programming Joel Feld as saying that “there is no plan in place to charge for highlights” in the future. There’s enough wiggle room in that statement to drive a truck through; I can’t imagine what other real rationale there could possibly be. I also found Sox spokesman Charles Steinberg’s comments on the issue to be laughable. Steinberg said the Sox don’t want “reduction in Red Sox presence in the marketplace” and that the team had nothing to do with NESN’s decision. “Sometimes people miss that the Red Sox and NESN are two entirely different companies with two entirely different management staffs,” said Steinberg. “They share common ownership but are independent companies.”
I call BS on that. The Red Sox and NESN are damn symbiotic. This isn’t a Times (and, by extension, Globe)-Sox scenario. Anyway, stay tuned. Or, you know, don’t. At least if you want to see in-game highlights.
* The Sox’s payroll. Earlier this week, Tony Mazz had an article on how to decipher to team’s payroll (and MLB’s formulas for determining payroll tax, etc.). If you’re going to be talking about the team’s offseason spending, check this out. You’ll sound smarter.
* Theo’s thoughts. In case you haven’t heard, Theo isn’t much of a fan of all of the attention the team gets.+ For that reason alone, the above article on his reflections on spring training is informative, not necessarily for the actual content but for what can (and should) be read between the lines. Theo’s incredibly smart, and he thinks carefully about the effects of what he says in public. (Take note any time this season when he steps up and says he needs to accept responsibility for a rough patch the team is going through; it’ll more than likely mean he thinks some pressure needs to be taken off of the players.) When Theo says “I think the thing I liked best about the club was that there were no real egos on display, as much as any camp I’ve been around,” there’s undoubtedly some truth there. I’d bet there’s also an intended (if subliminal) message to the press: the clubhouse is a placid place. Look elsewhere for your story of the day. Even if this kind of thing doesn’t have a huge effect — and the Boston press isn’t keen on playing down even the most minor of squabbles — if it helps for even a week or two, that one statement will likely have fulfilled its purpose.
* Manny and Roger. SI had a squib the other day about possible Manny-Ichiro trade discussions; it got virtually no attention…but I don’t think we’ll get through a season without a Manny flare-up. And, of course, when Roger decides he is, indeed, going to come back for one more season, the Sox will be in the hunt…
+ There is, of course, lots about Shaughnessy’s weird and wooly relationship with the Sox and the roots of Theo’s press and publicity aversion in Feeding the Monster, which is available from Amazon for only $17.16 (cheap!). And don’t forget: free signed and personalized bookplates are here for the asking. How else are you going to get ready for Opening Day?
March 15th, 2007 → 11:50 am @ Seth Mnookin
As previously noted, this is not the first time that an opt-out clause in A-Rod’s contract has garnered attention: it was that very clause that ended up being, in a roundabout way, the sticking point in the Sox-Rangers deal that would have moved A-Rod to Boston and Manny to Texas. Obviously, it’s way too late to be running sneak peeks from Feeding the Monster (although if you missed them, there are lots of interesting ones, as well as other excerpts from the book, over here. And don’t forget, FTM is available from Amazon for only $17.16 (cheap!) and, as always, free, signed, personalized bookplates are still available. (Virtual) operates are standing by!). So what should we call this. A post-peak? Whatever it is, here’s a section of the book detailing the breakdown of those ’03-’04 talks.
That period is especially interesting in retrospect. As you’ll see below, players union head Gene Orza rejected the Sox’s offer of those opt-outs in return for shaving about $4 mil/year off of A-Rod’s salary because Orza thought that offer was essentially worthless; after all no one had signed a $20 million deal since those crazy days of 2000-2001. Well, folks, crazy days are here again, and with Gary Matthews getting $50 million deals, who out there doesn’t think A-Rod could add to his bottom line should he actually end up doing a whole new deal after this season? What’s more, it was these negotiations that started the breakdown in Theo’s and Larry’s relationship. Good times! (And: an interesting footnote to all this: Jon Lester was the pitching prospect who was going to be thrown into the deal.) Without further throat-clearing:
“By mid December, newspapers around the country were reporting that a Rangers-Red Sox deal was all but completed. Boston would send Manny Ramirez (as well as some cash to help pay out the $98 million still owed him) and minor league pitcher Jon Lester to the Rangers. The Rangers would send Rodriguez to the Sox, and Rodriguez, in return for getting the chance to play for a contender, would reduce the annual value of the years left on his deal. A corollary deal would send Garciaparra to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Magglio Ordonez.
And that was supposed to be that. Garciaparraâ€šÃ„Ã´s teammates readied themselves for a new shortstop, a prospect that they were frankly looking forward to. ‘When youâ€šÃ„Ã´re talking about a guy whoâ€šÃ„Ã´s going to be a leader and be the face of the organization, thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s Alex Rodriguez,’ Kevin Millar said on December 16th on ESPN. ‘Manny leads in the batterâ€šÃ„Ã´s box and Nomar prepares himself to play hard everyday but youâ€šÃ„Ã´re talking about a leader in Alex Rodriguezâ€šÃ„Â¶. I mean, A-Rodâ€šÃ„Ã´s the best in the game.’
Because of the high profiles of the players and the enormous sums of money involved, officials at Major League Baseball and the Playerâ€šÃ„Ã´s Association, the union for professional baseball players, had joined in the discussions even before a deal had been finalized. Gene Orza, a top union official, had given Rodriguez the requisite permission needed for Rodriguez to discuss a restructuring of his contract with the Red Sox. According to an article by The Boston Globeâ€šÃ„Ã´s Gordon Edes, Orza also called a top official in Major League Baseballâ€šÃ„Ã´s central office and said, ‘I want you to get word to Larry [Lucchino] that weâ€šÃ„Ã´ll do everything within our power to get this thing doneâ€šÃ„Ã®itâ€šÃ„Ã´s great for baseball and we love Alexâ€šÃ„Ã®but I hope Larry doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t abuse the process, as he is wont to do.’ Soon after, Lucchino and Orza had a conversation in which Orza reminded Lucchino that any reduction in the average annual value in a playerâ€šÃ„Ã´s contract needed to be offset by some other ‘added benefit’ which the player received.
The Red Sox and Rodriguez ended up working out a deal in which Rodriguez would cut approximately $4 million a year off the last seven years of his deal in return for some licensing rights and the ability to declare free agency at different points during the remaining years of his contract (emphasis added for the purpose of this post). When the two sides presented the deal to Orza, he was dumbfounded. No one had signed a contract for as much as $20 million in years, Orza said. The made the offer of free agency essentially worthlessâ€šÃ„Ã®there was no way Rodriguez would ever sign a more lucrative contract again. Orza made a counter-proposal he said the union would be able to accept, in which the Red Sox would save a total of about $12 million instead of $28 million. The Red Sox initially rejected Orzaâ€šÃ„Ã´s figure, but both sides assumed theyâ€šÃ„Ã´d keep working towards a compromise.
Then, on the same night in which Orza had presented his proposal, Larry Lucchino issued a statement. ‘It is a sad day when the Players Association thwarts the will of its members,’ Lucchino said. ‘The Players Association asserts that it supports individual negotiations, freedom of choice, and player mobility. However, in this high-profile instance, their action contradicts this and is contrary to the desires of the player. We appreciate the flexibility and determination Alex and Cynthia Rodriguez have shown in their effort to move to Boston and the Red Sox.’
The move was typical of Lucchinoâ€šÃ„Ã´s career. Despite his unprecedented record as a CEO and despite the high esteem in which his many admirers held him, Lucchino had a hair-trigger sense of being slighted and often seemed to be spoiling for a fight. Heâ€šÃ„Ã´d been a union adversary for years. If Orza was being difficult to spite him, Lucchino wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t going to back down. But by trying to create the impression of a rift between the union and Rodriguez, baseballâ€šÃ„Ã´s highest paid player, Lucchino actually made it less likely Rodriguez would make a stand about the issue. And now, not only was Orza angry, but Rodriguez, according to people close to him, was upset, both that Lucchino would give the impression he was speaking for Rodriguez and that Lucchino would draw Rodriguezâ€šÃ„Ã´s wife Cynthia into the picture. Rangersâ€šÃ„Ã´ owner Tom Hicks was annoyed as well, and within days, the Boston newspapers were reporting that Lucchino had been pulled off of the A-Rod negotiations and that Tom Werner had taken over.
Lucchino characterizes what happened differently. ‘I was frustrated,’ he says, talking both about the union negotiations and his efforts to get Hicks to reduce the amount of money he was asking for to augment Manny Ramirezâ€šÃ„Ã´s salary. ‘At one point, I was talking to Tom and John and I said, ‘One of you guys should try to talk to [Hicks], maybe youâ€šÃ„Ã´ll have better luck.’ And Tom said, â€šÃ„Ã²Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ll call him.” John Henry agrees with Lucchinoâ€šÃ„Ã´s assessment. ‘Larry went for Christmas to see his mother in Pittsburgh,’ Henry says. ‘We didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t send him out of town. Tom still tried to get the deal going, but it wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t like weâ€šÃ„Ã´d lost faith in Larry.’ In the coming weeks, there would be various attempts to resurrect a dealâ€šÃ„Ã®all to no avail. By January, the Rangers and the Red Sox had ceased discussions.”
February 1st, 2007 → 10:06 am @ Seth Mnookin
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 hadnâ€šÃ„Ã´t picked up his $17.5 million club option for 2004. If the Red Sox didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t act by the time the 2003 season started, Martinez said, heâ€šÃ„Ã´d assume his career with the club was over. ‘Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s bye-bye once the year starts,’ he told reporters. ‘Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m gone. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m just going to pitch. I wonâ€šÃ„Ã´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. Martinezâ€šÃ„Ã´s anxiety about pitching during one season before he knew if heâ€šÃ„Ã´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 Littleâ€šÃ„Ã´s decision to leave him in Game 7 of the previous fallâ€šÃ„Ã´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. â€šÃ„ÃºI was actually shocked I stayed out there that long,â€šÃ„Ã¹ he told Sports Illustrated. ‘But Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m paid to do that. I belong to Boston. If they want me to blow my arm out, itâ€šÃ„Ã´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 teamâ€šÃ„Ã´s top baseball operations executives what kind of season Martinez would likely produce, the answer stunned him: ‘I was told, â€šÃ„Ã²Heâ€šÃ„Ã´ll win 12 or 15 games, have a 4.00 ERA or a 3.50 ERA.â€šÃ„Ã´ And I was like, â€šÃ„Ã²Fuck.â€šÃ„Ã´’ 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 Heraldâ€šÃ„Ã´s Michael Silverman, his favorite reporter on the beat. Martinez told Silverman he was cutting off all negotiations with the Red Sox until seasonâ€šÃ„Ã´s end. ‘Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m just really sad for the fans in New England who had high hopes thatâ€šÃ„Â¶I was going to stay in Boston,’ Martinez said. ‘[The fans] donâ€šÃ„Ã´t understand whatâ€šÃ„Ã´s going on, but I really mean it from my heartâ€šÃ„Ã®I gave them every opportunity, every discount I could give them to actually stay in Boston and they never took advantage of it. Didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t even give me an offer.’ His contract status, he said, wouldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t be a distraction for him or the team ‘because Iâ€šÃ„Ã´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?)
December 15th, 2006 → 1:04 am @ Seth Mnookin
You wanted to know who won that game of chicken? Anyone who saw Theo’s post-press conference live shot with Tina Cervasio knows damn well who won it: the Red Sox. Theo, et al., were driving to the tarmac and getting ready to fly back to Boston sans Matsuzakasan (you know: calling Boras’s bluff) when Boras rang and said, ‘Well, yeah, all right, I guess we will be on that plane after all.’
(Apparently, Buster Olney agrees.)
December 14th, 2006 → 12:18 pm @ Seth Mnookin
(Note: I’m on a PC. I hate PC’s. For some reason, most of the links I put in aren’t working, so you’ll need to navigate around and find the articles I’m referring to on your own.)
It’s true: I made it to Boston. And waking up at 6 to get to the airport is about as physical as I’m getting today.
So…some more notes on the…now wait: what’s the big story around here? Ah, yes:Â¬â€ D-Mat. (I will use every known nickname before the day is done.) Pretty much everyone, Jack Curry in the Times to the Herald’s Tony Mass to Nick Cafardo in the Globe to Gammo himselfÂ¬â€ is saying the Sox got the best of Boras in these negotiations.
On the first hand, that’s clearly true: if the reports are correct and the Sox’s initial offer was somewhere around $6-7 mil for 4 years, $8.7 mil for 6 years is a lot closer to that than the $15-$20 mil for 6 years Boras was looking for. On the next hand, the Sox, on some level, had Boras over a barrel. Zak really couldn’t have returned to Japan (well, he could have, but not without losing so much face he would have needed a face transplant), and despite the late-in-the-game posturing from Boras about Daisuke wanting “respect,” the good folks of Seibu would not have considered $8 million a year disrespectful. (I spoke with Bobby Valentine on Tuesday about an unrelated matter, and he said that the negotiations would be tough but there was no way his players would be facing the Diceman next year.)
But on the third hand, the Sox clearly won this game of chicken, and they did it by showing the type of single-mindedness and determination that’s marked the best days of this front office. Over Thanksgiving 2003, Theo and Larry both went to Curt’s house in Arizona, which showed Schilling how serious they were and also made it clear everyone was on the same page. The same thing happened here. That can only be seen as a good sign. Whatever rifts remain between those two — and rifts do remain — they’re showing they can work together.
There’ll be plenty more to chew on as the day progresses: the $203 mil (or so) the Sox have committed to three players, blowing away every team save for the Cubs look; the reality that Fenway (and particularly the Fenway press box) is about to be overrun by Japanese tourists and reporters…and the question of how, exactly, the Sox will cash in on extra revenue. Hint: It won’t be through TV deals (which I think are worked out with MLB, meaning the Sox would only see 1/30 of that money) or through merch sales (ditto).
OK: I’m late for the Pru.
December 7th, 2006 → 9:40 am @ Seth Mnookin
Jenny — if that really is her name — raised a question in the Johnny Jesus post below. To wit:
“Seth, can you clarify the Josh Beckett deal for me? The way I understand what you wrote about it in the book, it was railroaded through by Lucchino in an attempt to shift media and fan attention away from internal problems in the wake of Theoâ€šÃ„Ã´s resignation. This was done over the objection of several baseball ops guys, specifically Jed Hoyer. Given the close relationship between Jed and Theo and thus the probable similarity in their viewpoints, I have been assuming all year that had Theo still been GM, that trade would not have occurred. Is this your take? Every time I try to advance this view to others, they call me a ballwashing Theo apologist or something of that ilk. One sportswriter (Bill Madden?) even wrote in all seriousness that the trade was Theoâ€šÃ„Ã´s fault because he was â€šÃ„Ãºin the building.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Some help here? I know itâ€šÃ„Ã´s not Damon-related, but that section of the book was really self-explanatory.”
I’d say that’s an oversimplifaction, but an oversimplification that has some connection to what went down. I wrote in the book that “Hoyer, in constant communication with Epstein, had been wary about making the trade, but Lucchino had been eager to get it done”; I go on to quote someone with an ownership stake in the team to say that people with the long-term interests of the club were advocating holding off and people who wanted to shift focus away from the front office fiasco wanted it to go down.
And that’s all I said on the matter, out of both space concerns and because at the time I wrote that (back in April) it was unclear, to say the least, how that signing would turn out.* That certainly was true: Larry was the trade’s largest advocate; he got most of the credit; it occurred at a time when the daily headlines were full of “this is as bad as it has been since the days of the Duke” type stories. But there wasn’t a Larry camp that was completely gung-ho and a Jed-Ben-Theo camp that was completely opposed. Instead, it was more of a 60-40/40-60 deal, meaning those in favor of making it were in favor of it 60-40 and those opposed were opposed 40-60. What’s more, those opposed were more worried about Josh’s shoulder than anything else…and that turned out not to be much of a concern.
Hope that’s a little more clear.
* In speaking with a senior member of the baseball ops staff late in the season (i.e., well after the point at which it became clear that Beckett’s season wasn’t going to be all we’d hoped), said staff member said he wasn’t worried about Beckett’s long-term success because a. he’s young, b. he’s had big-time success before, and c. there’s a natural adjustment period for any young player. I don’t know as much about baseball as the baseball ops staff — to say the least — but I was concerned, and that was mainly because his fastball is as straight as John Wayne and he seemed perpetually concerned about throwing breaking stuff. But we’ll see.