Is yet another negotiation falling apart because Scott Boras insists on acting like an ass?

December 11th, 2006 → 9:42 am @

Buster Olney and Gordon Edes both raise the possibility that Scott Boras has no intention of letting Daisuke Matsuzaka sign with the Red Sox. Edes says sources close to the deal fear that Boras is simply “running out the clock,” while Olney wonders if Boras has told his client about the Red Sox’s offer. “The question I’d love to know the answer to — and never will know — is what is Matsuzaka’s understanding of what is taking place?” Olney writes. “[T]he Red Sox don’t know what is being said between the player and the agent, and so they don’t know if Boras is bluffing, or if he has convinced Matsuzaka to go back to Japan.” Boras has never been in a situation like this, although he’s been remarkably skilled in getting teams to up their bids even in the absence of any competing offers.

If this is what’s going on, it wouldn’t be the first time Boras seemed to be less than forthright with one of his clients. (There is always the possibility that these stories are being planted by the Red Sox’s side, but I’m not sure what that would accomplish: they’re not going to sway Boras, and they’re not going to help with public opinion if Boston doesn’t sign Matsuzaka.) After last year’s Damon fiasco, the Red Sox considered filing a formal complaint against Boras, but they were told by people in MLB’s central office that there was nothing that could be done except assume that everything Boras says is a lie.

Maybe Boras is bluffing, maybe not. What’s scary is that he’s shown he really doesn’t care…

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Daisuke Matsuzaka & Scott Boras

You got to roll me

December 10th, 2006 → 3:59 pm @

I sure as hell hope it’s not true…but that doesn’t stop me from fully appreciating the Herald‘s headline on Michael Silverman’s story about the disintegrating negotiations between the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka: “Tumblin’ Dice.”

Even in light of Scott Boras’s well-publicized track record of shortening players’ careers in order to snare some extra dough, I think this deal will go down. Matsuzaka doesn’t want to return to Japan, the Seibu Lions don’t want him back, and there’s no other dog in this hunt. If it’s true that the Sox are at $8 mil a year and Boras is closer to $14 or $15 mil, I’d bet on Matsuzaka receiving an annual salary in the neighborhood of $10 or $11 million when the deal is done. Whatever the case, you can bet Boras’ll burn the candle right down.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Daisuke Matsuzaka & Explicit References to Rolling Stones Lyrics & Oblique references to Grateful Dead lyrics & Scott Boras

Today in Dice land: Scott Boras, less than completely honest? Get out.

December 7th, 2006 → 9:58 am @

Today’s Globe has an unabashedly pessimistic story about the Red Sox’s chances of landing Matsuzaka. Here’s the money graf:

“According to sources with direct access to the Sox’ view, there is an increasing feeling that Boras is setting the stage, both privately and publicly, that there is not going to be a deal. ‘Unless he’s being less than honest,’ one source said, ‘there isn’t going to be a deal.'”

Well, that settles it: the Dice man ain’t gonna cometh. Because we all know there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Boras would ever utter the smallest of untruths.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Daisuke Matsuzaka & Oblique references to Eugene O'Neill & Scott Boras

The return of the original Dirt Dog and more speculation that will likely be made irrelevant by tomorrow’s speculation

November 30th, 2006 → 12:12 pm @

It’s three weeks into the free agency season…and when all’s said and done, here’s what we know about the 2007 roster:

Curt Schilling will be a starting pitcher
Jason Varitek will be the catcher
David Ortiz will be the DH
Jonathan Papelbon will be on the roster

And that’s it. No joke: there are no other untouchables. Youk? Pedroia? Hansen? For the right deal, they could all go. Wily Mo and Coco? Make an offer. Mike Lowell? His $9 mil price tag might seem cheap in comparison to Juan Pierre’s deal, but he could be packing his bags, too.

There are some intriguing possibilities out there, though, at least one of which hasn’t been much discussed, and that’s the possibility that Trot Nixon ends up back in Boston on a one-year deal. Said possibility was raised by Peter Gammons — an unabashed Nixon fan and someone with more than his share of confidantes in the Red Sox front office — when Gammo said Nixon could still accept arbitration from the Sox and end up back in Boston on something akin to a one-year, $7 million deal. In a frenzied free agent market, it’s somewhat shocking how little interest there’s been in the original Dirt Dog: this is, after all, a guy who’s only 33 and had a .974 OPS in 2003. Of course, since then his power has pretty much gone out the window, and he seems more fragile than J.D. Drew…but shit, he still looks like he’d be a decent option for some team out there.

If Trot does end up back in Boston and if Manny does end up somewhere else and if the Sox do end up signing Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew and Matsuzaka — a whole mess of ifs, I know — we could be looking at something like this:

Tek – C
Youk – 1st
Pedroia – 2nd
Lowell – 3rd
Lugo – SS
WMP – left
J.D. Drew – right/center
Coco – right/center
Ortiz – DH

Trot – right/left supersub

Schilling — SP
Matsuzaka — SP
Beckett — SP
Papelbon — SP
Wakefield — SP

Of course, that’s not taking into account who’d come to Boston in return for #24. And that’s sure to be something spicy.

All pure speculation. But a lot better than some of the speculation out there. Like that of Steve Phillips, whose entire career on ESPN has been devoted to showing the world why he no longer has a job as a major league GM. He said — in public! — that Barry Bonds might end up patroling left field.

This makes perfect sense. Except that:
* Bonds has said the whole city of Boston is full of racist jerks and he’d never play here
* The Sox would be getting someone who’s arguably the only person in baseball who could be more of a distraction that Manny
* His barcalounger wouldn’t fit in the Sox’s clubhouse
* He’s a near-cripple
* He’d bring a circus at a time when Theo Epstein has shown a consistent interest in reducing the circus-like atmosphere at Fenway.

Tune in tomorrow, when Phillips explains why Nomar might be included in the Dodgers’ proposed deal for Manny.

There’s more smoke and mirrors in this Globe piece from Gordo, although it’s not Edes’s fault: he’s just reporting the disinformation coming from various MLB execs. But the explanations offered up for why Manny wouldn’t want to go to San Diego — he’s not familiar with NL pitchers, the big dimensions of Petco would be bad for his power numbers, the Padres wouldn’t want a $20 mil a year guy — seem pretty silly. It’s hard to conceive of Manny being afraid of any pitcher, anywhere. And anyone who’s seen him plant a ball on the pike knows he’s not too concerned with the dimensions of whatever field he ends up playing on.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Daisuke Matsuzaka & Manny Ramirez & Peter Gammons & Steve Phillips & Trot Nixon

Today in Matsuzaka land: an offer has been made…but is it good that we know?

November 28th, 2006 → 10:18 am @

In other news, Larry Lucchino, currently eating sushi in Japan, says the Sox have made a formal offer to Matsuzaka and his cuddly agent, Scott Boras. I don’t imagine the contract talks will go seamlessly — no talks with Boras ever do — but it does seem as if the signs point to D-Mat (or Monster, or Mini-Monster, or whatever your nickname of choice happens to be) will end up a Red Sock (what is the singular, anyway?) next year. Still, I can’t help but wonder why Lucchino went public with the offer. It puts Boras and Matsuzaka in a tough position — at this point, it would be bad for everyone if Daisuke was forced to pitch for the Seibu Lions next year — and goes against the recent Sox policy of negotiating deals in private. Lucchino has been accused of throwing a wrench into deals by speaking to the press before; is this a bland public statement? Or a harbinger of what’s to come?

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Daisuke Matsuzaka & Scott Boras

More thoughts on Aramis’s and Alfonso’s pay day: Coco and Wily Mo, Matsuzaka and Drew (fine, those last two don’t rhyme)

November 20th, 2006 → 7:48 pm @

The $8 billion to Cubs paid out to Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano make a couple of things clear:

* Despite all the talk about a new, smarter generation of GMs, there are still folks who are more than willing to shell out crazy amounts of money regardless of the long-term consequences.

* Coco Crisp’s three-year, $15.5 million contract extension (with an $8 million team option for 2010) is looking a lot more attractive. How attractive? Well, as Buster Olney points out, Carlos Lee, one of the remaining big-time free agents on the market, must be salivating at the prospect of an obscene payday (Lee is already said to have a five-year, $60 million deal on the table). From ages 24-26, Lee averaged (and I’m eyeballing this), a .275 average, a .345 OBP, and a .475 slugging percentage. If you take at face-value the notion that Coco was injured last year, his 24 and 25 year old seasons average out to somewhere around .298, .345, .450. That’s $7 million more a year for 25 points of slugging percentage. Let’s say Coco does end up being a bust; it still puts the Sox’s decision in much better perspective.

* Speaking of perspective, the WMP deal — while still, considering the dearth of good pitching (to say nothing of good two-tone mullets), an occasionally painful one — makes even more sense. Here’s a guy who has the potential to be an absolute monster who’s under the Sox’s control for two more years.

* All of which offers one more illustration of why it made sense to offer up that $51.1 million posting figure for Matsuzaka. The Sox have the revenue to spend a lot on payroll, but don’t want to shell out obscene amounts for free agents who want to be signing until they’re 52 years old. They do, however, want to spend that money on 26-year old studs.

* Finally, if the Sox were really thinking about J.D. Drew as a Trot replacement, that option just got a helluva lot more expensive. It’ll be interesting to see what happens here; overpaying on dollars and years for someone like Drew would seem to go against everything the Sox have been working towards as of late; on the other hand, maybe they can get Drew at a relative bargain because of his injury history.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Alfonso Soriano & Coco Crisp & Daisuke Matsuzaka & J.D. Drew & Red Sox front office & Wily Mo Pena

Soriano offers justification for keeping Manny and that $51.1 posting fee for Matsuzaka

November 20th, 2006 → 11:59 am @

In other news, the Soriano signing may mean, as Gammons says, that the Cubs are turning themselves into instant contenders; it also highlights just what a good deal Manny Ramirez is for the remaining two years (and $36 mil or so) of his contract. In order to land Soriano, the Cubs shelled out $136 million over eight years. For those of you keeping track at home, that means Soriano will be earning $17 million a year through 2014, when he’ll be 38 years old. Seriously, think about that: Congressmen will need to run four times before Soriano needs to think about his next job. There’ll be two presidential elections. Even Senators will need to make their case to the public. But not Alfonso…who has never been as consistent an offensive force as Manny (and is arguably as much of an adventure in the field).

The Soriano deal shows the extent to which the market has gone crazy; it’s the biggest deal since the $141 million contract extension Todd Helton landed before the 2001 season, and pretty much marks an official return to the 2000-2001 insanity. (If history holds, only a couple of this year’s mega-signings will pan out; Manny and Mike Mussina are the only guys from the 2000 class who can be said to have paid off.)

This year’s funny money contracts also point to why the Sox’s mega-offer for the negotiating rights to Matsuzaka arguably makes sense. As the always eloquent David Leonhardt points out in yesterday’s Times, “Matsuzaka is unlike any other free agent on the market this year — or almost any other year. He is 26, an age when a typical pitcher is in his prime and yet usually too young to be a free agent. Players who come up through the minor leagues generally don’t have the chance to test the market and choose their own team until after they have spent six seasons in Major League Baseball, according to free agency rules. By then, they are typically in their late 20s, or even their early 30s, and their performance is already starting to slide. This, more than anything else, explains why so many free-agent signings turn out to be busts.” (Why is it that it takes a business writer to explain the economics of baseball? Why couldn’t, say, the Times‘s baseball columnist have attempted to understand (and explain) this?) This is also the framework through which it makes sense to look at a bunch of the Sox’s recent moves: the Arroyo for Wily Mo (D.O.B. 1/23/82) deal; the Crisp (D.O.B. 11/1/79) acquisition; even the Beckett (D.O.B. 5/15/80) deal.

It’s not even Thanksgiving (you remember Thanksgiving, right?) and the Hot Stove has already boiled over. (I’m sorry. Really: I’ll avoid the stupid stove puns for the rest of the offseason.) It’s going to be an interesting couple of months.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Alfonso Soriano & Daisuke Matsuzaka & David Leonhardt & New York Times & Red Sox front office