Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Looks like Sports Illustrated made the correct choice:

I'm kinda disappointed about the cover though. I suppose it's more impressive if you had it in front of you and were able to pour over the individual pics but I'd still rather have seen a team photo. Eh, what can you do?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

To Pedro Or Not To Pedro

That is the question.

The Pedro Martinez rumors are flying fast and furious and it appears that the Mets are ready to make a significant offer to the feisty righthander. So is this a good thing?

Jay Jaffe, who runs the wonderful Futility Infielder site, has put together a handy chart of all the free agent righthanders on the market this offseason (he's posted this in the context of revamping the Yankees so keep that in mind as I quote him), including both Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) and Defense Independent Pitching ERA (dERA). In a nutshell, these two stats measure how lucky or unlucky a pitcher was in the previous year and dERA is probably a better prediction on what the pitchers ERA will be in subsequent years. You can check out the whole chart but here's Pedro's line compared to some of the other pitchers the Mets are pursuing (ranked by dERA):

Team Pitcher W L IP ERA WHIP K/9 K/W HR/9 BABIP dERA
FLA Pavano 18 8 222 3.00 1.17 5.63 2.84 0.65 .282 3.60
BOS Martinez 16 9 217 3.90 1.17 9.41 3.72 1.08 .291 3.70
NYM Benson 12 12 200 4.31 1.31 6.02 2.20 0.67 .295 3.87
CHC Clement 9 13 181 3.68 1.28 9.45 2.47 1.14 .279 3.95
NYM Leiter 10 8 174 3.21 1.35 6.06 1.21 0.83 .240 4.98

From this chart, we can see a couple things.

1) Pedro, even though he's not as insanely dominating as he once was, is still a very a good pitcher. He also stayed healthy last year and threw 217 innings, the most in four years.

2) Matt Clement and Carl Pavano both compare very favorably to Pedro (and Kris Benson for that matter). However, with both being younger than Pedro, they would make a safer long term investment (despite both having been injured at some point in their career). It's also something to keep in mind that Pavano had an outstanding posteason in 2003, especially against the Yankees.

3) Signing Al Leiter would indeed be a DoUP. Leiter was extremely lucky last year, batters only hit .240 when they put the ball in play against him. Granted BABIP is partially a function of defense (so hopefully all Met pitchers will improve next year) but it's also a function of luck. And luck tends to fluctuate from year to year (as his dERA of 4.98 predicts).

Jay Jaffe has this to say about Pedro:

Over the first six years in Boston, Martinez's ERA+ was an astounding 210, meaning that his ERA was less than half of the adjusted league average. But last year, although he threw the most innings he had in four seasons, his line was considerably more ordinary. He allowed 26 homers, one more than he had in the previous three seasons combined. On the other hand, while his strikeout rate has steadily eroded from a high of 12.57 per nine innings, it's still above one hitter per inning. The same thing can be said about his control; his K/W rate was a criminally insane 8.88 back in 1999 (313 K to 37 walks) and it's now "down" to 3.72.

Those are still numbers that most of the 32 pitchers on this list who have fewer Cy Youngs than him would give their throwing arms for. They perfectly illustrate the reason why power pitchers last longer, career-wise, than finesse pitchers -- they have much more margin for error, much further to fall before they become "average". Pedro Martinez may no longer be one of the game's elite pitchers, but he's still pretty damn good.

Jay also goes on to talk about Pedro's diva-ish nature and fragility which are significant concerns in signing Pedro to a long term contract. Bottom line: he's still a very good pitcher, one of the best on the market, but his age carries more risk than the others. So would Pedro and the Mets be a good fit for each other?

Yankees fans and Pedro deliciously detest each other which really makes me think that Pedro was just using the Yanks to drive up his price tag. However this little feud does make me think that Pedro is genuinely thinking about coming to the Mets so he could still stick it to the Yanks a few times a year. In addition, Pedro would be both coming back to the National League and going from a great hitters park to a great pitchers park, something that would only help his career Hall of Fame numbers and certainly appeal to his nature (strangely enough, Shea was actually kind of neutral last year, although it was still better than Fenway.) He's also a marquee player and will sell lots of tickets out in Flushing, especially given the huge Dominican population of New York. Given these facts, the Mets are a good fit.

However Pedro me-me-me attitude is certainly something to consider, given the imprsssionable young players like Jose Reyes in the clubhouse and a first year manager that doesn't need an additional headache. I don't think these concerns are enough to outweigh the positives but they're certainly something to keep in mind. If all the intangables are a wash though, the question then boils down to how much for how long? The Red Sox have offered two years with a team option for a third year, $27.5 million guaranteed. The Mets would almost certainly have to guarantee a third year at at least the same money to get him to come to Shea, something they actually could afford over the next couple years. Four years, however, would be folly and if he demands such a contract, the Mets should start looking elsewhere.

Bottom line is that, for three years, Pedro is a decent risk with the potential to be a superstar at Shea. Personally, I would love to see him pitch in person again before he retires and I'd love to see him at Shea (especially since it's so hard to get Fenway tickets now. Grrrrrrr.) However should Pedro demand too much, the Mets should not hesitate to set their sights elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A Disaster Of Unmitigated Proportions

Yesterday, over at Always Amazin', I wrote the following in regards to Omar Minaya meeting with Al Leiter:

This is going to be an interesting test of Minaya's abilities. My gut feeling is that the contract offered to Leiter is pretty much for sentimental reasons; the question is whether or not Minaya can admit that honestly to Al without burning any bridges. He should thank him for all of his loyalty and dedication to the team but admit that 1) the Mets are probably not going to condend next year 2) they'd rather sign a younger pitcher (i.e. Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, Odalis Perez) to a long term contract rather than just sign him for a year. If Minaya caves though, it could be a disaster of unmitigated proportions.

While I do go on to justify my statement somewhat, a short while later this little e-mail shows up in my inbox from Matt:

Were I a Mets fan, I wouldn't want them to re-sign Al Leiter either, but "a disaster of unmitigated proportions"? Offering a one-year deal for a player in a season where you're only shooting for .500 anyway?

We've seen DoUPs in recent years, of course. The Kevin Brown trade might qualify. Much as I hate to say it, the Mo Vaughn deal would qualify. Albert Belle in Baltimore would count. And yes, the notorious Bagwell for Andersen would qualify. As would the Matt Young signing. But let's save the white-hot rhetoric for these catastrophic errors in judgment, okay?

This amused me to no end, and since I'm incapable of turning down the volume of my hyperbole, I've decided I'm going to use "DoUPs" on a regular basis to describe trades and signings I disagree with.

However the question still remains, "What are the worst DoUPs of all time?" How about the worst Mets DoUP? The worst Red Sox DoUP? Who is the DoUPiest GM or owner? I'd like to write a bit more about this but it's going to have to wait until after Thanksgiving. Have a great Turkey Day everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Sportsmen Of The Year


It's always a debate as to who should be awarded the Sports Illustrated Sportman of the Year award and there are many deserving athletes this year.

Michael Phelps

Tom Brady

Lance Armstrong

Pat Tillman, R.I.P.

Good choices all. But anyone who votes for these guys over the 2004 Boston Red Sox is smoking something serious. Not only are these guys a team. Not only is this the best baseball story in years. But this is the best sports story since, well, since these guys won the Sportsmen of the Year award 24 years ago.

So how about we all help out our good friends over at SI and vote in this online poll for the 2004 Boston Red Sox (you do need flash). You can also send in comments here. Think of this as performing a much needed public service. We're simply saving them from themselves.

"Pulling only makes it tighter."

Eric Neel has an amusing piece on the perils of Pedro's contract negotiations over at ESPN Page 2 today.

All of the charges and counter-charges in this hackneyed saga seem to me like so much shadow-boxing: a great many punches thrown with no real sense that any of them are meant to hit a target. Pedro and the Red Sox are caught in opposite ends of a Chinese finger puzzle (hence Ralph Wiggum's incisive eloquence as the title for this post). His overtures to the Yankees aside, Pedro isn't going to get more money or more guaranteed years than the Sox offered. Its admittedly justifiable irritation with Pedro's ego aside, the Red Sox front office does not have the option of acquiring a comparable starting pitcher. In short, they're stuck with each other. So let's junk this knuckle-tugging back and forth and get the deal done, already.


Hold on, though. Do the Red Sox have the option of acquiring a comparable starting pitcher after all? If you're thinking Carl Pavano, the answer is no. He'd be a nice pickup in lieu of Derek Lowe, but he wouldn't fill Pedro's shoes. (If you don't believe me, check out their respective strikeout numbers.) What if, though, Billy Beane really is dangling one of the Big Three in a potential trade? Tim Hudson instead of Petey? At the risk of sounding disloyal, that would do nicely.

There are some superficial reasons to think this could happen. The Red Sox and the A's have philosophical similarities, so it's possible, even plausible, that the Sox might have players in their system who would fit Beane's scheme. The A's could be looking to trim payroll, and Hudson comes due for a more lucrative deal at the end of this season. The problem is that the most desirable Red Sox prospects (Kevin Youkilis, Hanley Ramirez) play positions that are occupied by relatively young and superior players in Oakland (Eric Chavez and Bobby Crosby).

This, like much else in the air before the first week in December, is speculative anyway. Signing Pedro remains a likelier objective, provided the negotiations don't fester into further acrimony.

Roster Shenanigans

A while ago, I wrote about the importance of a roster spot. What I didn't talk about was the now impending Rule V Draft which will take place December 13th at the Winter Meetings.

For those of you unfamiliar with the RVD, Baseball America has all you need to know:

The Rule 5 draft takes place every year during the Winter Meetings. Players who are not on a 40-man roster and have more than three years of minor league service (four years if they signed when they were younger than 19 on the June 5 immediately prior to their signing) are eligible to be selected in the major league phase of the draft. In order for a team to make a selection, it must have an opening on its 40-man roster. Teams must pay $50,000 to select a player in the draft, payable to the team which loses the player.

Players selected must remain on the selecting team's 25-man major league roster throughout the next season or be offered back to the team from which they were drafted (for $25,000).

Got that? Basically if three Rule V Drafts have passed since a player signed, that player is exposed. Last year, the Mets lost two players in the major league portion of the draft, righthander DJ Mattox to the Reds and lefty Lenny DiNardo to the Red Sox. They did, however, get some revenge on Cincy by stealing away Eric Valent in the AAA phase.

Now neither of the players lost last year would have contributed much. Maddox ended up having Tommy John surgery and DiNardo had a variety of arm problems (although I suspect many of these were exaggerated so that the Red Sox could keep him on the DL and not have to return him).

That's not the point however. The point is that neither of these players needed to be lost. Wouldn't you have rather had anyone in the place of John Franco last year, especially a 25 year old, 6-4 lefty? This year, unless something changes, the Mets stand to lose two more young lefties, Blake McGinley, who you may not have heard of but who has some staunch defenders in the community, and Royce Ring, who you have certainly about before. Both are not currently on the 40 man roster and both are not likely to make it.

Previously I argued that since the Mets are not likely to contend this year, they should simply release Mike Stanton and eat his salary. Why? Simply because I believe that the roster spot they free up will be worth more than whatever Stanton gives them in a .500 year.

In 2006, do you think the Mets will be looking back at 2005, thanking their lucky stars they kept Mike Stanton? Do you think Stanton will have been a key component of a bullpen that carried the Mets into the playoffs? Or perhaps do you think the Mets will be looking at Ring and McGinley pitching in other organizations as they look to find a lefty reliever to take Mike Stanton's place?

I think it's going to be the latter. And I think the Mets are going to seriously regret this down the road.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


Last week I renewed my Jose Reyes sponsorship on Baseball Reference and, feeling guilty over not contributing more to my favorite procrastination tool, decided to sponsor Eric Valent and Braden Looper as well.

I went through pretty much all of the current Mets roster to see who was sponsored and who wasn't. There still are a few players who could make the team in 2005 still available:

Jason Phillips: $10
Jeff Keppinger: $10
Craig Brazell: $10
Joe Hietpas: $10
Steve Trachsel: $15
Tom Glavine: $95
Jae Weong Seo: $10
Matt Ginter: $5
Tyler Yates: $10
Mike Stanton: $15
Heath Bell: $10

Glavine's price is more expensive because his page is viewed more often. The price will drop by $5/day until it's taken though. I was considering sponsoring Gogs too but I didn't want to be greedy (although if he's not sponsored by spring training, I probably will. Even if he's traded.) Generally, sponsoring isn't that expensive and it supports a great cause for all of us baseball junkies. If you have paypal, it takes all of five minutes to do. You get control of the page for a year and have the option to renew before it comes up to public auction again.

So check 'em all out and support BR. It's one of the best baseball sites on the web and we need to keep it around for a long, long time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Coming soon to an Amazon near you:

Perfect cover, really perfect. Can't wait to read it. BTW, sorry about the lack of blogging here lately. I had family visiting over the weekend and the last two days have been fairly busy. I'll have a few things later in the week. Promise.

Friday, November 12, 2004


My two favorite moments of on-field celebration from this year's playoffs actually aren't from any of the clinching games. The first is from Game 5 of the LCS: Doug Mientkiewicz screaming "I'm a bad man!" a la Muhammad Ali at David Ortiz after Big Papi's second game-winning extra inning hit in less than 24 hours.

That one's simple, goofy fun, and speaks to nothing other than the weird forms euphoria can take. The second moment is more significant: Jason Varitek springing out from behind the plate after catching the final third strike in Game 6 with an index finger extended. No, not "we're number one." "One more" is what he had in mind, and what everyone watching at home could read on his lips.

Recall, if you will, how nerve-wracking that last inning of Game 6 was. Keith Foulke bravely running on fumes, only intermittently able to find the strike zone. At the time, that last out didn't feel like a confirmation of emerging superiority. It felt like an escape, the kind of victory you savor because you know you just got away with something. Yet there was Jason Varitek, not only acting like he knew we had it all along, but already looking ahead to finishing the job.

It's that kind of intensity and leadership that makes me want to keep Jason Varitek around even if he hits .250 the rest of his career. I'm just not sure that intensity is worth fifty million over five years, guaranteed. I don't mind him thinking he's worth ten million a year. I'm not convinced he's worth that, but I understand how people, even people other than Varitek and Scott Boras, could come up with that figure. I don't mind him wanting to be here for five more years. It's the combination of the per/year and the length that I find daunting.

Want ten million a year? Fine. You can have it, for three years. Want five years? Fine. You can have it, only at eight million per instead of ten. You might be worth more now, but you're not likely to still be worth that much at thirty-seven years old. It's called compromise, and even though Scott Boras has blacked it out of his dictionary, it's how most worthwhile but difficult things get done.

While I don't think that Varitek is necessarily the most valuable player on the Red Sox, I think he might well be the least replaceable. It sounds like the front office understands this. The contract the Red Sox offer Varitek might not be the most valuable, in terms of economics, but the opportunity to finish the kind of career he's having in this city might be the least replaceable experience in sports. I hope 'Tek, an intelligent and competitive soul, understands that.

Hair Of The Dog

I'm originally from Albany, NY (Colonie if you want to be precise) and even though I live in Manhattan now, I still head upstate fairly often to visit (plus I just got a season pass to Gore Mountain, woohoo!)

Being from the Capital District, I would be exceptionally remiss if I didn't throw out a plug for Hair of the Dog, one of the best Irish Bands I've ever heard (and I lived in Boston for eight years). They frequently play at McGeary's in Albany and The Parting Glass, a fabulous bar in Saratoga Springs. They have a complete schedule up on their website and will be playing multiple times from now until the end of the year.

As an amusing side note, Rick Bedrosian also reviews movies on the band's website making for a unique source of cinematic entertainment if you're at a loss for something to rent.

So if you happen to be heading home for the holidays or live in the area, make sure you check them out! Cheers!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Getting Value For Your Dollar

In light of the recent spate of crazy rumors coming from the GM meetings (which I've summarized over the past few days on Always Amazin'), I'm here to inject a bit of fiscal sanity into the buzz.

Looking at Dugout Dollars, here are the Mets finanical commitments over the next three years:

2004: $64 million
2005: $33 million
2006: $9.5 million

The 2004 figure assumes that Al Leiter leaves with $2 million buyout, doesn't include Kris Benson's contract, and has Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd on the payroll. As you can see, after next year the Mets have virually no guaranteed contracts, giving them remarkable flexibility in who they want to sign. No more Mo Vaughn type albatrosses, thank you very much. Signing Benson will probably bring the 2004 payroll up to $72 million and if Leiter comes back (god forbid) that would push it close to $78 million.

Now here are the names being thrown around this offseason and how much they'll earn over the next three years. If a player hasn't signed or is due arbitration, I've estimated their contracts or salary (in millions, from Dugout Dollars).

Carlos Beltran $16, $16, $17
Sammy Sosa $17, $18, $3.5
Shawn Green $16
Jason Kendall $9.5, $10.5, $12.5
Alfonso Soriano $8, $10, $10
Kris Benson $8, $8, $8
Orlando Cabrera $8, $8, $8
Mike Piazza $15
Cliff Floyd $6.5, $6.5
Jose Reyes $.3, $.5, $2
Victor Diaz $.3, $.5, $2

So what will happen to the Mets payroll with various combinations of trades?

Green/Piazza: -$1 million, wash
Reyes/Soriano + Cabrera: +$15.3, +$17.7, +$16
Floyd for Sosa: +$10.5, +$11.5, +$3.5

As you can see, while the Piazza/Green trade doesn't hurt them financially, the other two trades add significant amounts to the payroll not just this year but the next two years as well. You may say, "Fine, the Mets can afford it right now."

What if I offered this alternative proposal?

Sign Beltran, keep Reyes, let Diaz play: +$16.6, +$17.6, +$21

It's only slightly more money than the Soriano/Cabrera scenario and I'm willing to bet it would be more productive as well. In addition, take a look at their ages:

: 21
Diaz: 21
Beltran: 27
Soriano: 29
Cabrera: 30

By signing Beltran and letting Reyes and Diaz play, the Mets would get just as much bang for their buck (and possibly more) than with Soriano and Cabrera, plus they'd be more likely to improve than with Soriano and Cabrera. In fact, as Peter Gammons points out, Soriano has been on a severe decline the last three years, despite pitching in the Texas bandbox (Sosa too).

Both of the scenarios will push the payroll close to $90 million (assuming Benson signs as well) and it really does seem like Fred Wilpon has agreed to expand the payroll this offseason. The real question is whether they'll spend it wisely.

From what I've been hearing though, I wouldn't bet on it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"Choose, but choose wisely."

I love it when trailers for movies are unintentionally revealing. In one of the commercials for National Treasure, we have Nicolas Cage saying, "I think this dollar is trying to tell me something." Well, Nic, maybe it is and maybe it isn't, but no one can deny that you've been looking and listening awful closely since Leaving Las Vegas. If it please the court, the people would like to admit Exhibit A: Con Air.

You can't take an Oscar back, and no member of the 2004 Red Sox will ever be forgotten. Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek face a choice similar to the one faced by Nicolas Cage in 1996: do we continue to pursue meaningful work, or do we cash in as extravagantly as possible in the service of less significant endeavors?

I understand that these two avenues are not mutually exclusive. Pedro could chase another ring with the Angels or the Giants. Varitek could be just the guy the Marlins need to bounce back in a relatively weak (sorry, Jay) NL East. Also, athletes have short earning lives, etc., etc.

Really, though. Winning a title is cool, but wouldn't defending one be even cooler? Pedro and 'Tek might make more money somewhere else, but of all the challenges they could undertake as competitors, isn't the most difficult and intriguing one to be found where they already are? There's only one way to find out.

Don't go for the summer popcorn flick, guys. Choose the best script.

Best. Movie. Ever.

I saw 'The Incredibles' last night with a few friends and we were all blown away. Best movie of the year, hands down. Make sure you see it on the big screen. Simply incredible from start to finish.

It also has one of the funniest trailers I've seen in a while running before it: Madagascar. Be careful though, the penguins are psychotic. God, I'm still laughing at that. *chuckle*

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Mike Stanton And The Success Cycle

In the comments from my last post, Andrew makes a fair point:

I've got to admit I'm not entirely sold on your Stanton situation. I just put up an article about the bullpen over at my blog, so I was forced to take a hard look at Stanton and the bullpen options the Mets face, and I think Stanton could serve more of a purpose then to be cut and paid. Stanton's aging, but his numbers dictate that he's still got some gas in the tank. Howe simply liked to work the guy a lot, for whatever strange Art Howe reason he had -- and he had plenty. If Willie can use Stanton a lot more sparingly, and not have him in every pressure situation the Mets face, I think Stanton could be a lot better then a young arm that has a lot better chance of failing miserably.

I think I tried to cut too much out of my post and I guess I should have clarified this. You're right in that looking at his numbers Stanton did have some value to the Mets last year and he was certainly overworked thanks to the Senator (among other things) and Art Howe. However, the other thing to take into consideration is next year vs. the long term.

More than likely, the Mets are a .500 team next year, even if everything breaks right for them and they don't do something stupid like trading for Sammy Sosa. We know that Stanton will be gone after next year and certainly won't be in their long term plans. Therefore, taking this into account, having Stanton take up a roster spot for an entire season when they aren't likely to make the playoffs seems like a waste. If a youngster (or youngsters) takes the spot and fails, the Mets will at least know they can't fill the spot within the organization and can address it next year.

When the Mets signed Stanton, they had assumed that they were in the condending phase of The Success Cycle, a poor evaluation to be sure. Now, two thirds of the way into his contract, it's obvious that they're in rebuilding mode (or should be). I would argue that for any team in this stage of the cycle, any roster spot taken up by a player who will not be of long term value to the club will actually hinder their progression through the cycle.

Furthermore, as a general rule for a non-contending team, if a player does not fit into their long term plans he should be released and the spot should be given to a player that at least has the possibility of fitting into those plans. Otherwise, the spot will simply have to be filled the following year anyway and no information will be gained as to whether they can fill it through their system. This could save the team money in the long run as well, given how inexpensive young players are at the start of their careers.

It's easy for me to say this because I haven't spent $4 million dollars on a 38 year old relief pitcher. However I still think that the roster spot is worth more than that and, should some of their young talent succeed, they can actually save even more money later in the success cycle.

Monday, November 08, 2004

How Much Is A Roster Spot Worth?

Okay. In order to make a point here, I'm going to have to sacrifice my pride upon the Altar of Geekiness and it's not going to be a pretty sight. Here goes:

I used to play Magic.

Not just play, I used to be seriously addicted and still get little twinges from time to time as I have not really found a suitable repacement for what I still think is one of best strategy games ever made (although the addiction part has been nicely satisfied by my weekly poker game).

The reason, however, I'm bringing this up is because I've often thought that assembling a 25 man roster is very similar to putting together a deck of Magic cards. In Magic, the goal is to assemble a deck of cards around a particular strategy that is exactly 60 cards, no more, no less. Now while I'm not going to go into the reasons behind this strategy, the point I'd like to make is that each and every card slot in the dack is exceedingly valuable. Hard decisions have to be made whether to include or exclude a particular card and many good cards often must be left behind when the card list is finally trimmed.

To me, putting together a 25 man roster should be treated just as you were putting together a deck of Magic cards. Having a player on your roster that does not contribute (or contributes poorly), immediately puts a team at a disadvantage since that team has less options than it's opponent. If there are no better options for filling the spot, it should then be used to give a minor league player some experience. This way, even if the player doesn't perform, the slot isn't wasted because the team gains information on how the player can perform at a major league level.

Last year, the most infuriating thing about John Franco was not that he didn't perform well but that he took up a spot all season long that could have been used to evaluate a young player. This year, the Mets have a similar decision regarding Al Leiter. While Leiter will almost certainly perform better than Franco, he still has a high risk of injury or collapse and he takes up a rotation slot that could be used to evaluate a youngster.

The other parallel Magic Decks have with baseball is the inclusion of "versatile players". The best type of cards are ones that would be useful no matter what type of deck you were facing. They played multiple roles and gave you more options with the rest of your deck.

While it's true that Joe McEwing was one of the worst players in the majors OPS-wise the past three years, his versatility does give the Mets more options with the rest of their bench. This is especially important in the DH-less NL and allows the Mets to carry players like Craig Brazell on their roster without hampering themselves. Granted there are better utility players out there than McEwing but unless you get one of them, Super Joe sadly will be needed this year.

Keeping all this in mind, the question I think most GM's should be asking themselves is how much is a roster spot worth? Is it really worth paying Mike Stanton $4 million dollars this year to perform poorly or is it better just to release him and use the spot to evaluate a youngster? While that's a lot of cash to be throwing away, it's really a win-win situation for the team. If the youngster fails, he probably won't be any worse than Stanton would have been and the Mets would a least be able to take away the information they gathered on the player. If he succeeds, then they look like geniuses. With Stanton on the roster, unless he has a spectacular bounce-back year, they get nothing.

The question is how much is it worth to evaluate a player? How high would you go to get that roster spot back? In 2003, the Tigers set the modern day record by releasing Damion Easley with two years and $14.3million left on his contract. Compared to that, Stanton is chump change.

If Omar Minaya was smart, he'd take the roster spot and run.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Senor November?

David Ortiz continues to amaze.

I'm biased, so I'm throwing this out to a more neutral audience. When was the last time a team had a right-left combination in the heart of the order like Ramirez/Ortiz in 2004? Pujols/Rolen in St. Louis is righty/righty. Ditto Canseco/McGwire in the late eighties. Bonds/Kent in 2000 wasn't nearly as balanced as the Dominican Duo; you'd walk Bonds to get to Kent every time. Maybe Ramirez/Thome for the '99 Indians, although that was before Thome was THOME.

Other candidates?

Friday, November 05, 2004

Why Hasn't Fox Made This Yet?

From Soxaholix:

How about tonight on ESPN the real World Series of Poker: Red Sox v Yankees. Cut to shots of Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman staring each other down over a hand of cards!

God, I'd pay to see that in a heartbeat! I'd love to see Steinbrenner play too and watch him try to make a poker face. Bwah, hah, hah, hah!

Needlessly Stirring the Pot

I realize that the stretch between the end of the World Series and the beginning of full-blown free agency must be a lean stretch for baseball writers. I’ll wager it’s especially lean after your team has just won the title. There are only so many synonyms for “ecstatic,” and the dissections and grievances that usually fill the two-week void are not relevant under those circumstances.

Even so, gratuitous provocation is not the answer. Yet that is exactly what Gerry Callahan has provided in today’s Boston Herald. His modest proposal: waive Manny Ramirez. Again.

The suggestion is neither unprecedented nor (misguided though it is) entirely unexpected. After all, the Sox waived Manny last year, and some of the same reasons for having done so still apply this year. Manny is not getting any younger, and his enormous contract places considerable limits on the number of moves even a clever GM can make.

The problem is that these are exactly the same reasons that no one would claim Manny even if he were placed on waivers. The teams that can afford him (the Yankees, and who else, really?) don’t need him. The teams that are one clean-up bat away from seriously contending (the Twins and A’s, for example) can’t afford him.

Ah, but there’s an additional and more compelling reason to waive Manny this year, according to Callahan: “you don't have to sneak into Theo's War Room to understand two things: Carlos Beltran is a better all-around player, and Carlos Beltran is going to command less than $20 million a year. Beltran is a switch-hitter, a base stealer and a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder. He's also 27.” Would the Red Sox rather have Beltran than Ramirez? Quite possibly. Wouldn’t every other major league team rather have Beltran than Ramirez? Yup. This is why it makes no sense to waive Manny in the hopes of chasing Beltran: no one will claim Manny until Beltran has already signed.

Callahan is right about one thing. Our 2004 world champions are not a young bunch, and (sad to say) it won’t make financial sense to keep everybody. Given that the Red Sox already have sixteen potential free agents, however, there’s already sufficient flexibility for Theo to maintain/rebuild as he sees fit.

The Sox waived Manny once and were, quite frankly, lucky that he responded as positively as he did. There’s no need to press that luck this off-season, especially when the move is really no more likely to have the “desired” effect than it did last year.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Curious Compensation

Baseball America has posted the Free Agent Compensation List for this offseason. Here's the list of Mets free agents and what compensation the Mets will get for them:

Type A: Richard Hidalgo, Al Leiter

Type B: Mike DeJean

Type C: Kris Benson, Ricky Bottalico

The Elias Sports Bureau complies rankings of all major leaguers by position, based on their performance over the past two seasons. If teams offer arbitration to a free agent but lose him to another club, they'll receive compensation if he's classified as a Type A (top 30 percent at his position), Type B (31-50 percent) or Type C (51-60 percent) player.

For a Type A player, the compensation is the signing team's first-round pick plus a supplemental first-rounder. For a Type B, it's the signing team's first-round choice. For a Type C, it's a supplemental second-rounder. However, if the signing team picks in the upper half of the first round, that choice is protected and it loses its second-round selection instead. Also, Type C players who have been free agents in the past don't yield any compensation.

I was surprised that they still get compensation for Richard Hidalgo despite the fact we declined his option. I was also surprised that Kris Benson is a Type C free agent but this is because he was injured the previous season and the rankings take into consideration the previous two years.

Given this info, an observation and a question spring to mind. First off, it's imperative now that we resign Benson since we'll only get a pick at the end of the second round for him. The question, though, is this: Who do you offer arbitration to so that we'll get compensated if he signs with another team?

Personally, I'd give it to Hidalgo and DeJean. If either of them accept they'll both still be useful to have if we get stuck with them. Bottalico I'd let walk.

What do you think? Arbitration or no?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Red Sox Fan Waxes Obnoxious

This morning, I'm crunching out to my car among the fallen leaves of November when I look down and notice something unusual. Instead of sporting the expected variety of hues, the fallen leaves are all a bright golden yellow. The leaves still clinging to the tree limbs above me? A bright golden yellow. It's as if nature has conspired to extend the reminiscence of this past baseball season by strewing a mantle of glory in its wake.

I know that sounds dopey and florid, but it's really how I feel. Everything I meet still seems suffused with the events of the previous week. I even watched the victory parade Saturday without being reminded how much I hate those freakin' duck boats. I was prepared for the euphoric spike of last Wednesday night; I could not have known how durable the satisfaction of this championship would be.

Soon enough, the haggling will begin. "Who can we keep?" "He wants how much to stay?" "A-Rod's joined the Hare What-nas?" The rasp of expectation crackles underfoot. For now, though, these ears still hear the jubilant hush of a season with more glory still to be shed.

I have, however, come back to my senses about those freakin' duck boats.

Adjust Tin-Foil Hat Properly

Could this be the first casualty of The Greatest Postseason Collapse of All Time?

Mel Stottlemyre, the pitching coach who has been at Manager Joe Torre's side since the Yankees hired him in 1996, will not return in 2005. A person who spoke to one of Stottlemyre's colleagues said this week that Stottlemyre would not be back for a 10th season as coach.

The Yankees will promote Neil Allen, the Class AAA Columbus pitching coach the past two seasons, to replace Stottlemyre. Not having Stottlemyre will be a major adjustment for Torre, who has basically entrusted the pitching decisions to Stottlemyre during their successful tenure together.

The article specifically states that Stottlemyre might have pre-empted Steinbrenner after the Yankees starting rotation imploded against the Red Sox. However, I'm even willing to take that a step further. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Mel was told he was going to be fired and given the option to bow out gracefully rather than get the axe.

Hate 'em or love 'em, the Yankees are always one of the most entertaining teams in the offseason. Especially when they lose.

Monday, November 01, 2004

When "JD" Isn't Short for Johnny Damon

Bart: What did you do, screw up like the Beatles and say you were bigger than Jesus?

Homer: All the time. It was the title of our second album!

According to the Fark thread Jay directed us to earlier, talk radio in Boston is already having a field day with Kevin Millar's claim that Sox players all had a nip of Jack Daniels before each of the last six games of their rousing postseason.

Did we need to know this? *Sigh* No, no we didn't. Is it that big a deal? No, no it's not.

Millar didn't say that the Sox were stealing signs with a well-placed set of binoculars in center field. He didn't acknowledge any pre-game conversations with Pete Rose. And he didn't vow to find the real killers. Probably a lot of parents could have done without having to explain this morsel of information to their children. What is equally probable, however, is that these same parents are up to the task, assuming their children even ask.

If you have to give the same interview over and over, as many of the Red Sox players have in the past week, sooner or later you'll surprise yourself and your audience with an unfortunate exaggeration. The Beatles, unsubstantiated claims of divinity aside, are still remembered for their music. The 2004 Red Sox, overstated libational indulgences aside, will be remembered for what they did on the field.

Alternate Reality

Some things just look so wrong. *sniff*

So That's How They Did It

Why does this fail to surprise me? (From the Rocky Mountain News via Fark):

So how did the Boston Red Sox really beat the New York Yankees?

According to first baseman Kevin Millar, the team had an ally named Jack Daniel.

On Friday's edition of Fox's Best Damn Sports Show Period, Millar noted it was about 35 degrees at Yankee Stadium before Game 6.

"I got a thing of Jack Daniel's and we all did shots for about 10 minutes before the game. And we won," Millar recalled.

"So Game 7 came and we had to do shots of Jack Daniel's. And we won the game."

Millar said he was thankful the Red Sox won the World Series in four games "because the Jack Daniel's shots were starting to kill me."