December 31, 2010

T206 Addiction

Amar Shah has a problem. He is addicted to tobacco cards, specifically the infamous T206 set issued by the American Tobacco Company from 1909 and 1911. The T206 set is where the famous Honus Wagner card comes from.

Several decades ago, my friend Ray and I went to a card collector's house in our Vermont hometown and this guy ended up giving me a handful of T206s. They were in average shape at best, as though someone had carried them around in his back pocket for a weekend or two. I picked up a few more along the way and ended up with 36 of them (including the Three-Finger Brown pictured here).

Why we went to this card guy's house, I do not recall. He worked at IBM and lived out by the middle school we were likely still attending. When I went to Vermont two months ago, I asked Ray about it, hoping he might remember some details (this was when I thought I might include some of my own card history in my review of Cardboard Gods). But Ray started asking me the same questions I wanted answers to. He thought we were in the eighth grade or so, which would have been the fall of 1976. I guess we were there to maybe fill some gaps in our burgeoning collections (but how we found out about this guy or how we arranged to go over there, I have no idea). It was a Sunday, there was football on the television, and stacks of cards everywhere.

Ray was interested in the 1971 Topps series, with the black border.
I was drawn to the cards from 1973. That year seemed to have a lot of action shots and landscape layouts. I also loved the design of the little position circles and the font used for the players' names.
Because I had started buying cards in 1974, everything before that seemed much further away, from another time. Cards from 1972, say, seemed as old and mysterious as ones from 1952.

I ended up selling my cards in 1983. This was right before the card business took off like a rocket, so that was some fine fucking timing on my part. But I had not been buying cards for a couple of years and I desperately needed some money. I have a vague idea of what I got for the cards and the whole episode annoys me to this day. Not because of what I could have sold them for had I waited a few years, but because the money was gone in a relative eye-blink and I wish I still had a lot of the cards.

I'm very happy I hung onto my tobacco cards.

December 30, 2010

The Hall of Fame Ballot: Joe Posnanski's Humility, Suspicion As Evidence, And Jeff Bagwell's "Eyes"

Joe Posnanski, December 27:
You know how crazy I am when it comes to writing about the Baseball Hall of Fame. Well, this is Hall of Fame week -- the ballots are due by Dec. 31. And I have been writing ... and writing ... and writing. I really need to see a doctor or something.
His posts:
Monday: The Intro
Tuesday: The Easy Nos
Wednesday: The Close But Not Quites
Thursday: The Definitive Hall of Famers
Friday: The Borderlines Guys Who Keep Me Up At Night
Those four posts total about 15,000 words!

As usual, it's all great reading. His posts are solidly researched, funny, and filled with doubt*. Posnanski can be very persuasive in presenting a case -- calling Jeff Bagwell "one of the greatest hitters in baseball history", for example -- but if he is not sure of something, whether because he personally is uncertain or because whatever he is talking about is literally unknowable -- his section on Mark McGwire fits both categories -- he will freely say so. He is confident enough, and smart enough, to understand that not knowing something can often be a strength. It is a rare quality and a big reason why so many people admire his work.

A couple of weeks ago, SoSHer Dehere superbly captured the appeal of Posnanski:
When I read Joe I always get the feeling that I'm reading the work of somebody who believes he has something to learn from every person he meets and every experience he encounters. There seems to be a fundamental humility that informs all of his writing. Today's piece on Bob Feller is a good example. Here's a guy that so many people - including me at one time - have been quick to dismiss as a curmudgeon, a blowhard, or worse a flat-out racist, and yet Joe is able to go deeper to find the things that are honorable without whitewashing the disagreeable things that others focus on.

So many prominent sportswriters seem to work from a fundamental premise that they know better. They always have a quick opinion or a snide comment; everyone else is an idiot; they're always right. Pos seems like the one guy in the business who is always coming from a premise that maybe he doesn't know better, maybe his preconceptions are wrong, and that approach seems to always take him to places that are more interesting and more true than the places where lesser writers end up. He just seems like a guy who has never stopped trying to figure life out, and that sets him apart from other people who have become successful by telling you as loudly as possible that they know it all already. I will tell you in all honesty that reading Pos every day for the last several years has made me try to be less presumptive and more open-minded about the way I approach certain situations. While he's undoubtedly a great craftsman, I think it's that fundamental humility and searching nature that make him by far the best in the business.
Everything positive you can say about Posnanski's work - his deep curiosity and ability to write methodically and sensibly - can be applied to Bill James's stuff, as well.
Example
Posnanski writes that Bagwell "looks like a first-ballot, slam-dunk, didn't have to think twice Hall of Famer", but he will likely fall well short of induction. Why?
2. Jeff Bagwell -- though he never tested positive for steroids, never was implicated in any public way, was not named in the Mitchell Report or by anyone on the record as a suspected user, and is not even on this rather comprehensive list of players linked to steroids or HGH -- seems to have become in some voter's minds a player who used performance enhancing drugs.

I can't even begin to describe my disgust at No. 2 ... it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. This is PRECISELY what I was talking about when I said how much I hate the character clause in the Hall of Fame voting. I think it encourages people to believe their own nonsense, to stand up on high and be judge and jury. It's something my friend Bill James calls the "I see it in his eyes" tripe. ... Eyes are eyes. Some people look guilty when they're innocent, and some people look innocent when they're guilty, and most people don't look innocent OR guilty except when we want to see that something in their eyes. Oh, but we love to believe we know. It's one of the flaws of humanity. And the Hall of Fame character clause gives voters carte blanche to judge the eyes and hearts and souls of players. ...

I'd rather a hundred steroid users were mistakenly voted into the Hall of Fame over keeping one non-user out. I don't know if Jeff Bagwell used or didn't use steroids. But there was no testing. There is no convincing evidence that he used (or, as far as I know, even unconvincing evidence). So what separates him from EVERY OTHER PLAYER on the ballot? Were his numbers too good? That's why you suspect him?
(This "I can see it in his eyes" baloney also comes up in other debates. You will read a writer say a certain player doesn't "seem like a Hall of Famer"; never mind his actual stats, this player apparently never gave off a Hall of Fame vibe.)

It did not take too long of bopping around the internet before I found Dan Graziano's explanation for voting "no" on Bagwell:
I don't know for sure that Bagwell took steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs ... But I'm suspicious. ... I'd rather withhold the vote based on suspicion than vote the guy in only to find out later that he cheated and I shouldn't have. ...

This isn't about whether I believe what Bagwell says. It's about suspicions I harbored long before he spoke out on the issue. It's about where he played and when he played and the teammates with whom he played and a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence that I readily admit wouldn't hold up in a court of law. ... I don't feel I can vote for anybody I suspect, even if that standard casts an unfairly wide net. ...

The five players for whom I voted this year -- Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Barry Larkin, Jack Morris and Tim Raines -- escape my suspicion, and I admit I could be wrong about any or all of them, too.
Graziano's stance is deeply flawed from every angle, as every commenter on his story points out. He casts his vote for Raines (correctly, in my opinion). But he adds that Raines "escape[d] his suspicion" regarding illegal drug activity, even though Raines has admitted he was a cocaine addict and used the drug during games -- of actually sliding into bases head first so as not to damage (or lose) the vial tucked into his pocket.

Yet that fact does not register on Graziano's radar, but Bagwell is denied a vote without even so much as, in Posnanski's words, a whiff of "unconvincing evidence". Although Graziano says that refusing to vote for someone based on his race or religion would be "despicable", he also tell us "the only standards to which I am beholden are my own" and if he felt like it, he could exclude all players who "owned cats". Despite all of Graziano's disclaimers about Bagwell, I don't see his decision as any more logical than that.

December 28, 2010

First Four Albums

Which rock musician/band has had the most remarkable career-beginning string of four albums, taking into consideration the quality of writing and playing, evolution of musical styles, and simple "wow" factor?

My answer has long been Talking Heads: starting with the crisp, angular new wave of '77, moving onto a broader palette of sounds with More Songs About Buildings And Food, to the post-punk, disco and darker sonic sounds of Fear Of Music, and reaching their peak with the African polyrhythms and samples and loops of Remain In Light.

I have been on a bit of a Clash kick lately -- the 30th anniversary of Sandinista! was two weeks ago -- and have been thinking their first four albums -- The Clash, Give 'Em Enough Rope, London Calling, and Sandinista! (which actually show a very similar pattern of growth and expansion to Talking Heads) -- might rightfully belong in the top spot. The Clash also have a massive edge in sheer quantity of songs: they followed a double album with a triple album in less than one year's time!

Some live stuff:



December 25, 2010

Centennial Field

The Red Sox will soon celebrate a century of baseball in Fenway Park. The 100th season will be 2011, but the festivities will not happen until 2012.

Assuming management knows this, are they choosing to focus on the simple 1912 + 100 = 2012 arithmetic or will they say they are marking 100 completed seasons by whooping it up throughout 2012?

And: Alex Speier looks at how Carl Crawford might age throughout his Red Sox contract.

December 23, 2010

FBI Releases 400-Page File On Steinbrenner

In 1974, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner pled guilty to conspiring with eight of his American Shipbuilding Company employees to make illegal contributions (approximately $75,000) to Richard Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign and to obstruction of justice (trying to "influence and intimidate" his employees into lying to a grand jury).

Steinbrenner was fined $15,000, suspended from baseball for 15 months by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, and later received a presidential pardon from Ronald Reagan.

The FBI has released 400 pages relating to its investigation of Steinbrenner. You can download PDF files all of the documents here. A description from the FBI:
This release contains three files: 1) the FBI's investigation (Headquarters File 56-4737) into illegal campaign contributions made by Steinbrenner and his company, the American Shipbuilding Company, to the Nixon presidential campaign; 2) a laboratory analysis for the Federal Highway Administration of several anonymous letters concerning possible fraud in the federal aid highway program in Ohio (Headquarters File 95-189353); and 3) material related to Steinbrenner's appeal for a pardon from his conviction for illegal campaign financing and obstruction of justice (Baltimore Division File 73-841).

December 22, 2010

Behind The Scenes Of The Gonzalez Negotiations

Adrian Gonzalez:
I made a comment to Theo, "Make the trade happen by itself, and I promise you during the season I'll negotiate". I'm not going to come here and be like, "OK, we'll see you at free agency and see if you outbid the other teams." We'll negotiate during the season. We're going to be fair. We won't be looking for record-breaking deals. We just want market value. We gave them our word that we were going to negotiate during the season in good faith. We're not going to go in there and ask for Albert Pujols' contract, something along those lines. ... That was one of their comments, what if [Pujols] gets this humongous deal and you want to be closer to him? I said, "Trust me. What the market is today might change by then, but we're going to negotiate based on what the market is today."
Check out Gordon Edes's three-part look at Gonzalez and the recent trade negotiations: 1 and 2, with 3 available here tomorrow.)

Michael Silverman of the Herald also has a series of articles on Gonzalez: 1 and 2 and 3.

Yankees Are "Very Far Behind The Red Sox"

A week ago, Over The Monster began posting the Top Moments of 2010.

Here is the list so far:
No. 10 - Bard Blows By Bronx Bombers
No. 9 - Night of the Living Jed
No. 8 - Nomar Bids A Final Farewell At Fenway
No. 7 - Fond (Premature) Farewells In The Final Game
No. 6 - Darnell's Debut
No. 5 - Opening Night Comebacker
Joel Sherman, Post:
AL executive: "The way [the Yankees] are constituted right now, they are one injury to a veteran in their rotation or a bad stretch from CC from losing their season." ...

If [Andy Pettitte] shuns retirement yet again, then the club's rotation is thin ... [and] the Red Sox have added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, plus Bobby Jenks for bullpen depth.

"Right now, they are very far behind the Red Sox," an NL official said. ... "Yankees vs. Red Sox, I don't think those teams are close right now." ...

December 21, 2010

Theo: New Pen Will Give Tito "An Abundance Of Options"

As the Red Sox officially announced the signing of Bobby Jenks, Theo Epstein offered some thoughts on the bullpen, saying the team has added "a lot of depth, experience, power arms, and strike throwers", giving Terry Francona "an abundance of options".

Jenks:
I've always wanted to play in Boston. A few years back, I came back here and me and Beckett were hanging out and I told him it was one of the places that I've always wanted to be. Once the opportunity was available I jumped on it. ... [T]he team they're putting together this year is very exciting and appetizing. ...

I feel 100 percent right now. The whole elbow thing going on last year, it was more of scare than something that was actually wrong.
Epstein:
We felt really lucky that Bobby wanted to pitch here and we were able to get someone of his caliber to join our bullpen and help Daniel Bard set up for Pap. ... Bobby is someone who has great stuff ... He really knows how to pitch as well and goes right at guys and throws strikes ...

We kept Pap's agents up to speed the whole time ... [W]e still see him as our closer and ... we've got two power set-up guys to get him the ball in the ninth inning.
I missed this bit from Terry Francona, talking after the Carl Crawford signing was announced about his possible lineup: Ellsbury, Crawford, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youkilis, Ortiz, Drew, SS, C.

Adrian Gonzalez is excited about spring training:
I'm definitely looking forward to Boston — the team, the lineup, the atmosphere — everything's going to be a whole different experience for me ... I'm just anticipating spring training ... getting situated there and getting to know all of my teammates.
More bad news for the Yankees: Andy Pettitte has told the team to move forward without him. Brian Cashman: "It has nothing to do with money, leverage, recruiting or any of that. It's whether his heart's into playing or not. Maybe in a month, he'll change his mind. ... He's told me not to rely on him ..."

And a bit of hilarity, from Nick Cafardo:
[T]he Red Sox never really got into the Zack Greinke talks. It was explored, but the feeling was that Greinke and the Boston market wouldn't mix given his past anxiety issues. ... The Red Sox had also pretty much run out players they could offer the Royals after sending three major prospects to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez.
SoSHer Dick Pole Upside: "Yup... Sox have emptied out the farm system and don't have any talent left. All we had were Kelly, Rizzo, and Fuentes! More bridge years upcoming..."

December 20, 2010

New Look, Same Great ... Stuff-I-Do-Here

A new look for 2011.

Also: I am now "allan" instead of "redsock", the "the" is gone, and a few things have been (or will be) moved into the row of tabs above.

December 19, 2010

This Makes No Sense

Nick Cafardo, Globe, December 19, 2010:
[A]ccording to major league general managers, [the Red Sox] went so far as to offer Mariano Rivera a three-year deal for $51 million, with the idea that if they landed the 41-year-old, Papelbon would be gone. Papelbon is in his final year of arbitration, and there's a chance his agents will ask for about $11.5 million. The Red Sox have never gone to arbitration with Theo Epstein as GM, therefore they'll likely settle at around $11 million ...

Papelbon and the Sox have long had an understanding that he will test the free agent market when eligible, and the Sox would only sign him long term if they received a team-friendly deal, as they did with Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Jon Lester.

Despite all the reports, the Red Sox never thought they would actually land Rivera, because of his loyalty to the Yankees. But ... the Red Sox were prepared to take Rivera ...
Let me see if I follow this correctly. According to Cafardo, the Red Sox:
(a) are not all that keen on paying $11 million a year their 30-year-old closer, and will likely let him walk after this season due to his expected excessive salary demands

(b) but they would sign their 30-year-old closer for (as an example) three years if it was a "team-friendly" deal similar to what some other Sox signed -- with average annual salaries in the range from $10-12 million (i.e., about $11 million)

(c) and they were "prepared" to pay $17 million a year for a 41-year closer*
Yes, that sounds exactly like the progressive, smart front office we have seen in action for close to a decade. (Although snatching Rivera away from the Yankees and leaving them with a gaping hole in their pen might have been worth the extra dough.)

* - Rivera is Rivera, of course, and shows no signs of declining. He posted two of the top three WHIPs of his 16-year career in the last three seasons; and five of his seven lowest WHIP seasons have come after he turned 35. And, while I fully acknowledge the huge difference in service time (Papelbon has pitched six seasons, an entire decade less than Rivera), Papelbon has a higher career ERA+ (209-205) and a roughly identical career WHIP (1.033 to Fruitbat's 1.003). We all know Papelbon blew 8 saves last year. Well, Rivera blew 9 in 1997 and 7 in 2001. Career save conversion rate: Rivera 89%, Papelbon 88%.

December 18, 2010

Sox Add Dan Wheeler To Bullpen

Dan Wheeler was a Red Sox fan growing up in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Over the years deep down there has always been a part of me that wanted to play for them. They were my team growing up and you just never know in this game how things are going to turn out. But this one turned out very well.
And he is thrilled to still be Carl Crawford's teammate:
I know Red Sox fans have seen him a lot over the years but when you watch him day-in-and day out you're going to see things that will amaze you. For me as a pitcher, I'm telling you, it's great to see him out there in left field. He's a highlight film on just about every play.
Example
Theo Epstein is on fire. He has signed former Rays reliever Dan Wheeler to a one-year deal with a team option for 2012 that would kick in with 65 appearances.

Salary details have not been announced, but Wheeler made $3.5 last year (the final year of a three-year contract) and Tampa Bay declined a $4 option for 2011.

It is the third arm for the pen signed in the last week or so, following Bobby Jenks and Matt Albers. Boston has also inked minor league deals with Andrew Miller, Rich Hill, and Lenny DiNardo.
Example
Mariano Rivera, talking to reporters about Boston's two-year offer:
It was real. Yeah, it was real. ... I also made sure that I thanked them because they took me into consideration. This is a business and the Yankees did the right thing, and I'm here. ... It would have been different, definitely would have been different. I don't think the Yankees would allow that to happen. ... But again, we don't have to talk about it, because I'm here.

Happy Birthday, Keef!


Keith Richards is 67!



&: Run Run Rudolph (December 1978)

December 16, 2010

Red Sox Sign Bobby Jenks

The Red Sox have added Bobby Jenks to the bullpen, signing him to a 2/12 contract, pending a physical (and a trip to the barber, I hope). (Yet again, ish breaks the news at JoS).

Buster Olney, ESPN:
[Jenks has] been told he'll be a set-up man in 2011 and will have a chance to be the closer after Papelbon is replaced.
Well, the starkness of that comment is very interesting to read in December. Papelbon will be a free agent after the 2011 season and there is no way (in my opinion) the Red Sox will be signing him to either the years or the dollars he will expect/demand (Fruitbat money).

Joe Sheehan, SI:
Jenks for 2/12 is the best FA relief contract of the winter. Peripherals/skills are fine.

December 15, 2010

'Lenny DiNardo Nude'

That was a very common JoS search string years ago. (I am not sure why.) It may make a comeback.

Rob Bradford, WEEI:
The team has agreed to terms with left-handed pitcher Lenny DiNardo on a minor-league, split contract. DiNardo confirmed the agreement by phone from Fort Myers, where he is working out. He has taken the team’s physical, with results of an MRI being the only thing remaining to finalize the deal. DiNardo said that he will be ready as either a starting depth option or as a reliever.

DiNardo, 31, spent three years with the Sox from 2004-06 ... DiNardo ended up turning in the best year of his career in 2007 under then-Oakland (and now Sox) pitching coach Curt Young.

1960 WS7: Yankees at Pirates, 8 PM

Game 7 of the 1960 World Series between the Pirates and Yankees will be broadcast in its entirety tonight on the MLB Network.

Mel Allen and Bob Prince will call the action -- from Thursday, October 13, 1960, at Forbes Field -- which begins at 8 PM.

It was long believed that no video of the game -- except for a few highlight clips -- had survived. However, last December, a black-and-white kinescope of the entire game was discovered in the former home of singer Bing Crosby, a part owner of the Pirates.

AP:
Crosby couldn't bear to watch the game live, although he did listen by radio while in Paris, so he had hired a company to record the broadcast by kinescope. The early relative of DVR meant that he could go back and watch the 2-hour, 36-minute game later if the Pirates won.
G1 - Pirates 6, Yankees 4
G2 - Yankees 16, Pirates 3
G3 - Yankees 10, Pirates 0
G4 - Pirates 3, Yankees 2
G5 - Pirates 5, Yankees 2
G6 - Yankees 12, Pirates 0

Great Rotations

The 2011 Phillies starting rotation will include Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. Could it be one of the greatest rotations in history?

Adam Darowski (Beyond the Boxscore), Dave Cameron (Fangraphs), and Joe Posnanski (with some help from Bill James) offer some thoughts.

December 14, 2010

Schadenfreude 105 (A Continuing Series)

"I don't like this perception that we're confused or disoriented or we don't know what we're doing." Brian Cashman

Mike Lupica, Daily News:
In the end, this was like another game Cliff Lee was pitching against the Yankees, which means the Yankees kept swinging and missing with the guy. It happened last July, when the Yankees tried to make a trade for him. It happened in October, the one time they faced him in the American League Championship Series, in Game 3 at the new Yankee Stadium.

Now it happens in the crazy, free-agent winter of 2010, when Lee turns down what the Yankees offered him ... and takes less money and fewer years to go back to the Phillies.
Ian O'Connor, ESPNNewYork:
They were so sure of opening the 2011 season with CC Sabathia in Game 1 and CC's dear friend, Cliff Lee, in Game 2, they figured the one hurdle to clear in contract talks would be whether to guarantee Lee a monument or a plaque. ...

Girardi's rotation looks like it was hit by a nor'easter. The Yanks were hoping A.J. Burnett would be required to throw only celebratory pies next season; now he'll actually be needed to throw fastballs and curves. Andy Pettitte? Now Cashman will offer to build him his very own retirement community if he agrees to give it one more go. ...

[T]his one hurts. It hurts to the bone.
Joel Sherman, Post:
[T]he double-barrel rejection feels overwhelming. ...

The Yankees will say now they are relieved because, by leaving so many dollars on the table, Lee was signaling he really did not want New York. They will say they were uncomfortable going to age 39 with a pitcher who had back problems last year or that they have some of the best pitching prospects in the majors coming or they now have great financial flexibility to pounce on what they want during the year.

But that is all spin that could be heard a lot in the future of what has become The Not Cliff Lee Era for the Yankees.
(And sure enough, a reader's comment: "No biggie...Lee had a what, 7.00 era, in the WS last year, he's declining already at 33 years old next season...We'll be fine and we don't have to listen to the whiners say we bought it..." And more than one fan says NYY should simply trade for Felix Hernandez -- who signed a contract extension less than 12 months ago that runs through 2014. Morons.)

Gordon Edes, ESPNBoston:
In the post-midnight hours, after news broke that Lee was going to the Phillies, Red Sox officials did not respond to e-mailed requests for reaction. Sleeping? Perhaps.

Or perhaps they decided that gloating in public is unbecoming.
Example
New York Post:
It is believed Lee will take a five-year deal for $100 million from the Phillies, far below the Yankees' best offer, believed to be seven years in the $160 million range. The Rangers, Lee's final team this season, countered with a six-year pact with a vesting option for a seventh season.
Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden, Daily News:
So now what? ...

Shortly before midnight, the Yanks received a call from Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, informing them that Lee was headed to another team. ...

With the Yankees and Rangers seemingly going head-to-head to acquire the lefty, Lee approached the Phillies, telling them how much he enjoyed playing for them and asking them if there were any way for him to return ...
Danny Knobler, CBS Sports:
Players almost never turn down the Yankees when the Yankees are desperate to sign them ... Cliff Lee told the Yankees no. ...

The Yankees now need Andy Pettitte more than ever, which means they need to convince him not to retire. ...
Brian Cashman, Monday afternoon:
I really don't think we've got a lot of holes. ... I really believe that A.J. Burnett is going to bounce back for us next year.
Example
SoSHer 86spike: "Philly Contract: it's like a Baby NY Contract!"

SoSHer ThatsMyPeskyPole: "And Mrs Lee spits back."

(NYDN, October 27, 2010)
Example
Greatest Offseason Ever!

December 13, 2010

In Which Blogger Murray Chass Learns A Reporter Should Verify His Facts

Murray Chass is often used as a punchline by baseball fans who are not afraid to think critically, but Chass's recent blog post about whether or not Tom Verducci, a member of the Hall of Fame Expansion Era committee, voted for Marvin Miller last Monday was no joke.

After Miller, now 93 years old, failed to be elected to the Hall by one vote, he told Chass that he had heard -- but did not know for sure (because the ballots are confidential) -- that one of the five members who had not cast a vote for him was Verducci.

Chass, a member of the Hall of Fame since 2004(or not), was incensed -- and proceeded (after changing into his pajamas and eating a few cold Pop-Tarts) to violate nearly every ethical standard that any self-respecting journalist should follow.

He banged out an indignant post despite having "no first-hand knowledge" of what he was writing about. He made no attempt to contact Verducci -- later offering an excuse Joe Posnanski says his nine-year-old daughter would be embarrassed to use. Miller also went out of his way to insult Verducci's reputation by inventing some possible reasons (dating back 20 years) why Verducci would deny Miller a vote.

Unfortunately for Murray the Blogger, Verducci did vote for Miller. We know this because Verducci asked for and received permission to make his ballot public.

Chass says this episode has "reminded me that a reporter always has to check and verify his information". Huh. I am not altogether clear on how someone who wrote for the New York Times for nearly 40 years can forget that he should avoid simply making shit up.
In 99.99 percent – no, make that 100 percent – of previous articles or columns, I checked something like that and confirmed it to my satisfaction before writing it. I should have done that in this instance and not taken a shortcut ...
Old farts in the mainstream sports media claim that we write unverified shit and have no accountability. Damn, Murray, I know you were perfect before this, but you are not making it any easier for bloggers to get respect.
Example
If you go to Chass's blog and click on the "About" tab, you get this nugget of gold:
This is a site for baseball columns, not for baseball blogs. The proprietor of the site is not a fan of blogs. ...

[T]his site will most likely appeal primarily to older fans whose interest in good old baseball is largely ignored in this day of young bloggers who know it all, and new-fangled statistics ... which are drowning the game in numbers and making people forget that human beings, not numbers, play the games.
I wonder where Chass's dividing line between know-it-all "young bloggers" and "older fans" who love "good old baseball" is. Chass graduated from college in 1960, so if he was maybe 23 years old then, he would be in his early 70s now.

Bill James is 61.

John Thorn is 63.

Earnshaw Cook was 64 when he published Percentage Baseball.

Allan Roth died at the age of 74.

Branch Rickey lived to age 83.

Henry Chadwick, who invented the box score and developed Range Factor more than 138 years ago, was 84.

Red Sox Futz With Lee To Distract Yankees, Swoop In And Nab Crawford

The Daily News reports that the Red Sox made a seven-year offer to Cliff Lee last Tuesday, "a purposely low proposal designed mostly to keep the Yankees occupied" while they nabbed Carl Crawford.

Brian Cashman says the Yankees will not be increasing their 7/160+ offer and Yankee officials are now expressing a bit of skepticism about signing Lee. Because Texas has no state income tax, the reported offers from the Rangers and Yankees could be nearly identical -- perhaps a difference of as little as $5 million over seven years.

Ron Washington's gut tells him Lee will stay in Texas. Jon Heyman tweets that Lee's decision may come "early this week"; plus, "mystery team"!

The Red Sox are looking at three Twins relievers: LH Brian Fuentes and RHs Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier. ... Rob Bradford reports that Mariano Rivera approached the Red Sox, not the other way around. Rivera was clearly hoping to get the Yankees to increase their offer.

Thumbs up to Mark Buerhle, who has "offered to pay any uncovered medical expenses for a dog who was found stranded in southern Illinois this weekend with an arrow in its abdomen".

December 11, 2010

Numerology

Via the Soxaholix:

Crawford: "My 6-Year-Old Son Is A Closet Boston Fan"

Video of Carl Crawford's press conference is here. Crawford had a very scratchy throat -- his voice cracked like a teenager a few times. Some of his comments:

Had been in Rays organization since he was 17 ... Really wanted to stay in the AL East ... Will hit wherever Terry Francona puts him in the lineup ... Sold-out crowds was one thing that attracted him to Boston.

Has worked out with Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis in the past ... Wants to get better every year, including drawing walks! ... Re playing the outfield alongside Jacoby Ellsbury: "It's going to be wonderful. My job is to make his job easier. Balls in the left-center gap that he normally has to go get, he doesn't have to worry about that ball, because I'll catch it."

"I have a six-year-old son. I said I think he is a closet Boston fan. When I told him I was coming to Boston, he was more excited than me. And that's when I knew I had made the right decision. ... The feeling feels so good that you couldn't pass that up.".
Example
Theo Epstein said that Crawford was on Boston's "radar as a potential free agent acquisition for awhile, actually since he signed his last contract, really". Allard Baird scouted Crawford for the entire second half of the 2010 season. On November 30, Francona and Epstein flew to Houston and met with Crawford and his agents and expressed their interest. Negotiations at the winter meetings went very quickly.

The details of Crawford's contract:
2011 - $14.00 million
2012 - $19.50 million
2013 - $20.00 million
2014 - $20.25 million
2015 - $20.50 million
2016 - $20.75 million
2017 - $21.00 million

Bonuses:
Signing: $6 million
All-Star Team: $ 50,000
Gold Glove: $100,000
Silver Slugger: $100,000
World Series MVP: $100,000
ALCS MVP: $ 75,000
AL MVP: $200,000
2nd in AL MVP: $125,000
3rd in AL MVP: $100,000
4th in AL MVP: $ 75,000
5th in AL MVP: $ 50,000
Crawford's string of 35 consecutive stolen bases against the Red Sox is now on hold. In his career, Crawford is 62-for-66 (93.9%) against Boston. He has stolen more bases against the Red Sox than any other team; he is 53-of-66 against the Blue Jays and 47-of-56 against the Yankees. The last Red Sox catcher to throw him out was Jason Varitek, on May 20, 2004. Tim Wakefield picked Crawford off first on September 21, 2005.

Varitek says he was a person of interest this winter before re-signing with Boston. "[M]ore than any time in my career, I had probably the most interest from other teams [as a possible back-up]."

Should I be quoting John Kruk? Probably not, but he says it is "imperative" the Yankees sign Cliff Lee "if they want to compete". Kruk also thinks Adrian Gonzalez can hit 50 homers and 50 doubles playing half his games at Fenway.

Hank Steinbrenner, on Lee: "It would certainly behoove him to be a Yankee." ... New York has reportedly made a 7/160+ offer for the 32-year-old lefty with the 112 career ERA+. Texas has reportedly added a sixth guaranteed year to its offer and (according to Jon Heyman) an option that could turn the deal into a seven-year contract.

December 10, 2010

Crawford Passes Physical

UPDATE: Press conference announcing the Crawford signing will be tomorrow (Saturday) at 10 AM.
Example
Carl Crawford passed his physical today at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Globe notes that Crawford has updated both his Twitter and Facebook pages:John Tomase, Herald:
In the last week, Epstein has proven with finality that he's no kid anymore. Just a few days shy of his 37th birthday, his youthful features have been replaced by a more hardened weariness. His hair features specks of gray. Wrinkles crease his eyes like formerly dog-eared pages.

He is a man now. ...

And he is the most unstoppable force in baseball. ...

"My God," saluted one rival executive yesterday after the Rule 5 draft. "Theo (expletive) dominated this week."
It is a stunning indictment of the Boston media's utter lack of imagination that they are still harping on Epstein's age. (Yay! he is finally a man!) Is it that hard to come up with some other angle on Epstein after almost a decade?

Epstein:
Nothing that we did at these meetings -- or may have done or will do shortly -- was the product of a last-minute idea. It was all a product of -- hopefully -- a well-thought-out plan over a long period of time, and well-documented with lots of scouting, following players over the course of whole half-seasons, white papers written up about how the parts all fit together, a lot of thought and lot of commitment and belief -- and commitment to winning and belief from ownership.

In Theo They Trust

Gordon Edes has a great article on the decision to sign Carl Crawford:
It took some extra persuasion, Epstein placing a call to Sox owners Tom Werner and John W. Henry on Wednesday night and making a passionate case for the seven-year, $142 million offer he sought to make to Crawford. ... Werner listened first, expressed his reservations about adding a seventh year to the team's offer, then advised Epstein to make his pitch to Henry. ...

Henry, who had a few reservations of his own, gave Epstein the green light. ...

Hours before Epstein cinched the deal for Crawford, he had jokingly asked during his media session who was the most hated GM on the premises, then said by morning it might be him. ...

Scouts were assigned to follow Crawford, Gonzalez and Jayson Werth, the other outfielder on the Sox radar, not for a series or two, but a half season. Detailed "white papers" were prepared, arguing the pros and cons of acquiring the players. Bill James, the statistical analyst, did a study analyzing how young, athletic players like Crawford age over the course of a long-term contract and comparing various body types. James concluded that such players generally kept their value until age 35 or 36.
Crawford will turn 36 in August 2017, the final season of his contract.

Edes:
This was not quite the equivalent of a WikiLeak, but for the Red Sox it was about as close as they ever come to revealing company secrets.

When the Boston media contingent filed into the living room of Theo Epstein's hotel suite for their nightly briefing Wednesday -- the Red Sox general manager was still in an adjoining room -- a dry erase board was perched on an easel in a corner of the room. It was covered with names and numbers, presumably of the players the Sox had interest in acquiring, and what their contract status was. One of the notations, "CC," referred to Carl Crawford.

But before reporters could take advantage of this unexpected windfall, media relations director Pam Ganley quietly but quickly glided over to the board, took it down, and turned it so it was facing the wall.
The Red Sox have also made an offer to free-agent catcher Russell Martin; the Yankees and Blue Jays have also had discussions with Martin and his agent.

How lame is Tony Massarotti (and his sports radio co-host Mike Felger)? Click here and read what they have been saying about the Sox and Crawford. Painful.

CC Sabathia, asked if Boston is now the team to beat in the AL East:
You want me to say the Red Sox are the favorites? I mean ... I think the Yankees. If you look in our clubhouse and look at our lineup and the things we can do, it's hard not to like our chances. ... They made some good moves.

December 9, 2010

Lineup Construction

As SoSH debates lineup construction, I plugged some numbers into Baseball Musings' Lineup Analysis -- 2010 stats for everyone except Ellsbury, Lowrie, and Saltalamacchia, for whom I used career totals since their games played last year were low -- and got this.

The best lineup -- scoring roughly 5.88 runs per game -- would start with Yook/AG or AG/Yook in the top spots, Ortiz at #4, Salty and LBJ at the bottom, and the other spots picked out of a hat.

Even the worst possible lineup would score 5.51 runs per game. That is a drop of 60 runs per game over a 162-game season, a difference of about six wins. That is significant, but Terry Francona's lineups will not be at either extreme. He'll fiddle around fairly intelligently in the middle. What would be the difference between Tito's best and worst lineup? Maybe two wins over an entire season?

My quickie lineup of
Ellsbury
Pedroia
Gonzalez
Youkilis
Crawford
Ortiz
Lowrie
Drew
Salty
would score approximately 5.77 runs per game.
Example
Random Stuff:

Dave Cameron, Fangraphs, notes that Crawford is getting "a lot of money for a guy who doesn't do the things that traditionally earn a lot of money":
Just because it is unique, however, doesn't mean it is automatically bad. Defense has historically been undervalued in the market, and while not everyone agrees with the conclusions reached by defensive metrics all the time, I have never met anyone who thinks that Carl Crawford is anything besides a great defensive left fielder. ...

Over the last two years, the only position players with a higher WAR than Crawford are Albert Pujols, Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Mauer, and Chase Utley. Crawford is ahead of sluggers like Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, and Miguel Cabrera, but as we saw with Gonzalez's extension, that kind of money for their skillset is considered acceptable. Just because Crawford creates wins in a different way doesn't make those wins less valuable. If you buy into Crawford being an elite defender, then he is worth this contract, and maybe even a little bit more.
Tony Massarotti of the Globe insists, contrary to every single thing the current front office has done and said for the last eight years, the signings of Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford were in response to the panicky cries and complaints of Red Sox fans.
The Red Sox heard you, loudly and clearly, and they did not like the message. You groused about Liverpool. You groaned about ticket prices. Mostly, you stopped buying and stopped watching, all at a time when the competition for your interest was greater than ever before. ...

[T]he Red Sox needed to throw their weight around again [this winter]. They needed to show that they do not take you for granted.
John Tomase and Scott Lauber, Herald:
Last week at this time, we wondered if the Red Sox had a pulse. Now they are terrorizing baseball. ...

In the slugging Gonzalez and the speedy Crawford, the Red Sox have now completely remade a lineup that overcame injuries to rank second in the American League in runs scored last year. ...

When coupled with the team's presumably deep starting rotation, it's hard to view them as anything other than World Series favorites at the moment.
Two days ago, Sean McAdam reported:
Francona on Jacoby Ellsbury's health after broken ribs: "A couple of weeks ago, he was still feeling it in his back."
Now, Tito says he misspoke and Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras, says the outfielder is
doing great. He's been working out. He's taken time. He went through the season where his ribs really never fully healed. He attempted to come back a number of times. Now with the time, he's able to let his bones and fractures [heal].
Tom Verducci, SI:
The Red Sox shocked the baseball world ... somehow turn[ing] $142 million into stealth money, agreeing to make Carl Crawford the second-highest paid outfielder in baseball history with hardly a moment of preparation by those outside their own suite. It was a rare "wow" moment in a Twitter-mad world.

"[Bleeping] Theo," one GM said of Boston general manager Theo Epstein. "What a brilliant move."

Schadenfreude 104 (A Continuing Series)

Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden, Daily News:
The Yankees finally made an offer to Cliff Lee Wednesday in what was the first step of their master game plan.

That plan got blown to shreds late Wednesday night ...

In addition, the Rangers may be ready to do what it takes to keep Lee in Texas as team president Nolan Ryan suggested Wednesday night that the Rangers may be willing to offer the lefty a six-year deal ...

According to a source with knowledge of the team's thinking, the Yankees had hoped to bag both Lee and Crawford ... Upon learning of Crawford's signing, a Yankees official downplayed their interest in the left fielder.

"We were never really in on Crawford," the official insisted ...
Tyler Kepner, Times:
The Yankees never made him an offer, and may live to regret their decision. ...

The Crawford signing is the second megadeal by the Red Sox in the past week, coming days after their trade with the San Diego Padres for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. ... [T]he Red Sox have seized the favorite's spot in baseball's toughest division. ...

Everything suggests that the balance of power in the division has shifted their way. ... [T]he Yankees really have no choice. They have to sign Lee. But even if they do, the Red Sox still look better.
Joel Sherman, Post:
Joe Girardi usually tells the media as little as possible and then follows that up with less. The Yankees manager would, in general, not confirm that the sun rose this morning. He treats the identity of his upcoming rotation like codes for atomic weapons. ...

So we can now remove any doubt and describe the Yankees’ condition when it comes to obtaining Cliff Lee as "desperate." And here is why: Because it was Girardi who yesterday offered the strongest public act of craving. ...

The Yankees have been adamant that they will not go the seventh year ...
John Harper, Daily News:
For a few hours Wednesday night it looked as if the Yankees had countered the Red Sox nicely, finally making their move on Cliff Lee as an expected answer to Adrian Gonzalez. ...

And suddenly the Yankees aren't just hoping they made a big enough offer for Lee Wednesday. They're praying.
Ken Davidoff, Newsday:
Well, there goes the phony Plan B, and it just gets better and better to be Cliff Lee this winter. ...

The Yankees ... truly like their outfield of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher. They didn't love Crawford. And as Hal Steinbrenner said Tuesday, "I'm a budget guy."
George A. King III, Post:
"I feel like Hannibal Lecter in a straitjacket waiting on this Cliff Lee thing," Brian Cashman said of his obsession with getting Lee.
Sherman, Post:
The Yankees have increased their offer to free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee to seven years. ...

So after insisting for weeks they would not climb above a six year offer for up to $150 million, the Yankees suddenly felt they had no choice. Boston had added two under-30, two-way stars to energize their fan base and electrify their roster. That pushed the Yankees.

But so did something else: They had no Plan B. ...

Thus, the Yankees did what they so often do: They threw money at their problem. They decided not to worry about $25 million in 2017. They decided not to worry that Lee will pitch until he is 39 years old on a seven-year contract.

December 8, 2010

Abraham: Sox Sign Carl Crawford (7/142)

Peter Abraham (Globe), Twitter
Source: The Red Sox have a seven-year, $142 million deal done with Carl Crawford.
9 minutes ago via Twitter for iPhone
Pete has posted it at the Globe, too.

A bit pricey, but it ain't my money, so Welcome aboard, Carl! I fear his stolen bases are going to go drop not being able to run against us.
Example
Alex Speier reports the deal at 7/$124. Which would be 17.7 per. And a bit more logical. NEVER MIND: Speier now also saying 142.

December 7, 2010

Book Review: Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker

"I don't remember what I wished for before baseball."

Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards (Seven Footer Press) is a memoir, told through the prism of baseball cards from the late 1970s.

It is Josh Wilker's account of growing up in East Randolph, Vermont, in "an angelic state of stupidity and grace", of being an inattentive daydreamer who found solace and comfort in small colourful pieces of cardboard.

"With my cards, I knew where I stood. ... My card collection calmed me. ... I absorbed myself in my cards. ... I absorbed myself in the sameness of them, even as the sameness began to show signs that it was an illusion."

On his blog of the same name, Wilker states that he provides "the finest in whiny self-absorption, hackneyed nihilism, and pitifully desperate supplication in an ongoing attempt to hang on to a shoebox full of decaying baseball cards for dear life."

That's one (self-deprecating) way to look at it. Cardboard Gods (both the book and blog) is also a meditation on figuring out who you are, and how much of your childhood to hang onto. It's about the long process of casting aside the various costumes and masks you wear throughout your life, and finally -- through time-consuming and often heartbreaking trial and error -- feeling comfortable (hopefully) with yourself. It is about family, memory, baseball, and the unstoppable approach of adulthood.

If you are unfamiliar with Wilker's blog: Each post features a baseball card from his childhood which has some connection, however tenuous, to an event or feeling from his life. He might focus on the facial expression or pose of the player, some aspect of his career, the background of the photo, etc. Wilker first starting doing this while living in a cabin in the Vermont woods about ten years ago. Pull a card out of the box, look at it over the course of a few days, and see if it sparks anything. The Cardboard Gods blog debuted in September 2006.

In an ESPN interview, Wilker said the cards
have always been able to get me to start wondering. The moments captured in my cards from the '70s would seem to most people to be flat and trivial, the kind of thing that no one, not the player, not the photographer, not the great majority of people who would ever look at the card, could ever care much about. But because I cared about them as a kid, the stiff poses and enigmatic expressions continue to have a hold on me now, especially because many of them seem to include the same element of aimlessness and absurdity that has threaded through my post-childhood years. So they exist in two worlds for me, the adult world and the child world, and so it's no wonder I'm drawn to them, since I'm an adult who has been kind of perpetually haunted and fascinated by his own childhood.
Most of the book -- divided into four packs of 15 cards each -- is devoted to his childhood and it is wonderfully told. Once Wilker heads off to college and wanders through his 20s -- living in Vermont, California, Massachusetts, Europe, Brooklyn, Ohio -- the stories blend together. There are too many years in too few cards. Rather than seeing Wilker evolve into the person he would be, in the later chapters he is negotiating the world as the person he has become, trying to construct a workable life, to become "the best possible version of [him]self". This is a very small complaint, though, and it was less of a problem for me the second time I read it.

None of the entries in the book are taken directly from the blog, but some blog posts have been rewritten or extensively expanded. One memorable chapter is when Wilker hears that Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock has been killed (September 23, 1978). He is 10 and he asks his older brother Ian what happens when you die.
"How can it be?" I asked out loud. We're here and then forever we're gone."

"Look, just don't worry about it," my brother said.

"One minute suddenly nothing and that's it," I said, my voice rising.

"It's not going to happen for a long time."

"But it's going to happen!"

"Think about something else."

"Oh man oh man. It's going to happen," I said, starting to panic. "Omanomanoman."

I climbed down the ladder of the loft bed ... and went and sat on the stairs and gripped my stomach with both hands, rocking back and forth, overpowered by the idea that someday I would not exist.
There is also plenty of humour in the book, though it is often dead-panned and wry, and found in the corners of his stories. His memories of his job at a gas station in Cape Cod are hilarious (in a sneaky way), as is his recollection of going with his mom to hear Allen Ginsberg speak. And I can completely relate to his summation of a day spent with the woman he would eventually marry -- wandering around the city, petting a cat in an aquarium store, trying to buy a specific kind of sneakers, having dinner in some Italian joint: "It was nothing special. It was one of the best days of my life."

I'm sure that one reason I love Wilker's writing is that I recognize a lot of myself in him. I grew up roughly 60 miles northwest from him and although I am a few years older, we got into baseball and cards at pretty much the same time. Like Wilker, I was an introverted Red Sox fan who loved Yaz, wore out my paperback copy of The Bronx Zoo, and have vivid memories of watching Mark Fidrych face the Yankees on Monday Night Baseball in June 1976. We both met our respective partners in New York City, we were both at the Mel Hall game*, and we both enjoyed going to Shea Stadium.

* - Weird thing about that goddamn game. I think every Red Sox fan in the New York area was there that afternoon. Through the years, I have found (mostly online) more than 20 Sox fans who were there that day. Coincidentally, there are also only about two dozen people who liked Shea.

Fortunately for Wilker, the audience for this book is far greater than people like me. After all, who wasn't uncertain and anxious as a kid? Who didn't take refuge and solace in a hobby that other people thought was strange? Did anyone transition seamlessly into adulthood?

Plus the damn thing has blurbs from Bill Lee and David Cross! Really!!
Example
Also: There are several online interviews with Wilker and Bronx Banter has one of the best. Here is a bit about how Wilker started writing the blog. Buster Olney, who grew up in Randolph Center, remembers playing Strat-O-Matic with Wilker.

Gonzo Is Funny, CHB Is Moronic

Several reports say that the preliminary agreement with Adrian Gonzalez is for seven years and $154 million.

So one week after Idiot Emeritus Dan Shaughnessy suggested that the Red Sox offer Derek Jeter (aka Mr. Heavy Foot (see 1:20)) -- who had the worst year of his career in 2010 and will turn 37 next summer -- $20 million a year for three years
"There is simply no downside ... I don't care if Jeter is way past his prime or if the Sox would have to wildly overpay ... [I]t would make the Sox less boring"
Theo Epstein has retained the services of Gonzalez -- who is coming off his two best seasons and will be 29 next year -- for the 2012-18 seasons for an average of $22 million per year.

And people still think this Bozo is worth paying attention to? (Yes, I know I am paying attention to him. I am sorry, but his extreme stupidity (or pandering for internet clicks) in this case -- there is no hint that he is being anything but completely serious re the Jeter offer -- needed to be mentioned. In the future, I will do it only when absolutely necessary.)
Example
Scott Miller, CBS Sports:
While Gonzalez was in Boston for his physical examination over the weekend, he was at dinner Friday night with some Red Sox executives when, from across the restaurant, came a familiar face to greet him.

It just so happened that Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was having dinner in the same restaurant.

Ellsbury approached the Red Sox table and congratulated Gonzalez on coming to Boston.

Without missing a beat, Gonzalez smiled, accepted the congratulations -- and then congratulated Ellsbury.

"And my place is going to be open, so if you need a place to stay in San Diego, let me know," Gonzalez deadpanned to Ellsbury.

According to a Padres executive, who had been briefed by their Red Sox counterparts, Ellsbury momentarily froze ... before he was assured that no, he was not headed west to San Diego as part of the trade.

Everyone was said to have gotten a big laugh -- including Ellsbury.
At various points in their discussions, the Red Sox and Padres talked about including Ellsbury in the deal. They also discussed Felix Doubront and Jed Lowrie, but the Padres wanted talented players without so much service time.
Example
During the press conference Monday morning, Theo Epstein said Gonzalez was going to "wear out the Wall". And Gonzalez seemed to agree:
I know that most of my outs in the air are to left field, so that's something to look forward to. ... I let the ball get deep, I hit the ball in the air to left field. My No. 1 goal at the plate is to get the ball in the air. I don't want to hit it on the ground. You'll find out, I'm very slow*. Speed is not part of my game. So, for me to have success, I need to hit the ball in the air. When you put the short fence here, with the Green Monster, I'm excited about the possibility of a lot of those outs turning into hits.
At least one metric (Fangraphs) has him as the slowest player in the big leagues.
Example
Most exciting game in 2010? THT says, according to its Action Index: June 24: Boston 13, Rockies 10 (11)

December 6, 2010

Gonzalez's Two Dreams: Play For Padres, Red Sox

Adrian Gonzalez:
I've had five incredible years in San Diego and grew up wanted to be a Padre, and my dream as a kid was to play in the major leagues and be a Padre. And my second dream was to be a Red Sox.

It was a couple of connections. It was one those things where you grow up and you always root for a National League team and an American League team. And the Red Sox had always been the American League team I rooted for, with Ted Williams, him being from San Diego and being a lefthanded hitter and one of the greats of all time, there have always been a lot of connections there.

December 5, 2010

Gonzalez Trade Completed; No Extension Announced (Though 7/161 Has Reportedly Been Agreed To)

LIVE VIDEO of press conference here!


At roughly 7:48 PM, it was announced via multiple Twitter posts that the Adrian Gonzalez trade had been completed.

The Red Sox will hold a press conference tomorrow (11 AM: a "major baseball announcement"), but it looks like there is no official contract extension. The prospects will remain the same.

SI's Jon Heyman posted that the team is "satisfied a multiyear deal can be arranged ... have common ground on parameters" and added: "Appears red sox will add about 7 yrs at about $23 mil per to a gon's $6 mil '11 salary. But no extension will be announced yet".

Which would be 7/161 (more or less) from 2012-18.

[UPDATE: Heyman's SI article states that "both sides have apparently agreed to the parameters of a new deal, believed to be for eight years and worth a total of about $167 million." That looks like Gonzalez's 2011 salary ($6.3) plus the 7/161 deal.]
Example
Earlier today, Alex Speier of WEEI wrote:
...[I]n at least some respects, the best course the team can take might be to agree with Gonzalez to the parameters of a deal right now, and then wait until, say, April 8 (the day of the Fenway opener against the Yankees) to announce it. ...

The right shoulder, on which Gonzalez underwent surgery in October and that will keep him from playing until spring training, could serve as the ostensible justification to delay a deal. The Sox could say that they simply want to see the slugging first baseman back on the field and healthy before they formalize the extension. ...

The real reason why the Sox might want to wait until after the start of the regular season to announce an extension, if at all possible, is financial. Specifically, the luxury tax implications for the timing of the announcement of a long-term deal are huge.

Red Sox Unable To Reach Deal On Contract Extension With Gonzalez

UPDATE, 7:55 PM:
DEAL!




Ken Rosenthal says the same thing and adds:



So: do the deal and hope something can get hammered out next season?

I'm very curious what the sticking point was: did Theo wanted to avoid the luxury tax hit, was AG holding firm on a Teixesque 8/180 contract, was Boston resistant to go higher than something like 6/110-120, or what? (Gotta believe Theo knew he'd have to pay at least 20 per, though ...)

December 4, 2010

Red Sox, Padres Agree On Gonzalez Trade

The San Diego Padres have agreed to trade Adrian Gonzalez to Boston Red Sox in return for four minor league prospects, including pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and outfielder Reymond Fuentes.

Sox Prospects lists Kelly and Rizzo as the team's #1 and #3 prospects, respectively; Fuentes was #16, though Baseball America had him at #6.

There has to be some amount of regret in seeing these young guys leave, but you can't get a player of Gonzalez's talent by offering table scraps. None of the three named prospects would have made any significant impact on the Red Sox until 2013, at the earliest. As long as Gonzalez keeps doing what he has been doing, everything will be fine.

Theo Epstein has had his eye on Gonzalez for years, and this deal gives the Sox, who Gonzalez has expressed a desire to play for, an exclusive window (without the noise and distractions of free agency) to work out a contract. The deadline for those talks is being reported as 2 PM EST tomorrow. (Gonzalez will be paid $6.3 million in 2011.)

Here are Gonzo's spray charts from 2009 and 2010 overlayed on Fenway Park.

2009

2010
Example
Dave Magadan, Padres hitting coach in 2006, talking about AG in March 2010:
I noticed from the first day I threw batting practice to him, it didn't matter where you threw the ball, he found a way to get the barrel on it. ...

You see him swing the bat, it's poetry in motion, man. It's so fluid and easy, and he's got such good rhythm up there, the ball just jumps off his bat, especially the other way. ... His ball, when he hits it the other way, doesn't slice. It stays straight. He can hit those balls right down the line that, with a lot of lefties, kind of fade. His just stay straight.
SoSHer DeJesus Built My Hotrod:
[Petco] has led the MLB in lowest park factor for four of the seven years it has been open. It is the only stadium to show up more than once during that time. Petco Park is damn habitual recidivist when it comes to stealing runs.
Which means that Gonzalez will be a big bopper in Febway and Kelly should benefit greatly from a move to the NL.
Example
Anthony Rizzo was actually at Casey Kelly's house this morning -- they both live in Florida -- when he heard the news.
The Red Sox are such a great organization. Theo's smart and the whole staff's smart. I would have loved to have played for them. ... It's better to go over with one of your best friends to someplace where you don't know anyone.
Example
The early reactions of some Red Sox players:

Daniel Bard:
Was I involved? [No.] That's a great trade for us. That's really good to hear.
Tim Wakefield:
Obviously this has been in the works for a long time and it's finally some to fruition. It's a great addition to our club. Not only are we getting a quality player but we're also getting a quality guy.
Kevin Youkilis:
The way he hits at PETCO, he can hit at Fenway Park because he can use the wall to his advantage. It's going to be great to have him on the team. That'll be a huge acquisition for us if everything works out.
Dustin Pedroia:
I'm excited to play alongside him. It's going to be fun. ... We picked up a player who's one of the best hitters in the game, so everyone's excited. We've got an All-Star. He's outstanding. We're excited and I think everyone's pumped to get to spring training and start everything.

Trade For Adrian Gonzalez "Very Close"

ESPN:
The Boston Red Sox have agreed to a deal in principle to acquire slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez ... [and] have received permission from Major League Baseball to negotiate with Gonzalez on a new contract. ...

Gonzalez's physical examination, one of the last hurdles to the deal, was completed early Saturday afternoon [in Boston] ... While all indications are that Gonzalez passed [he had surgery on his right, non-throwing shoulder to clean up the labrum on October 20, 2010], there's been no official word.
Sources say that Boston will send a fourth player, to be named later, to San Diego.
Example
Gordon Edes, 10:14 AM:
Source: Kelly, Rizzo, Fuentes to San Diego.
Example
Updates from Buster Olney

5:15 AM:
Sources: The San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox are on the verge of finishing an Adrian Gonzalez deal. Players all agreed to.
5:19 AM:
The Red Sox are far enough along in the conversation that they are trying to work out a new contract with Adrian Gonzalez.
7:30 AM-ish:
Sources: Padres and Red Sox have agreed to a Gonzalez trade, pending physical -- and perhaps negotiations with the first baseman. We'll see.
7:45 AM-ish:
Sources: Major League Baseball has approved a negotiating window for the Red Sox to negotiate with Adrian gonzalez.
7:50 AM-ish:
Sources: Gonzalez is expected to be in Boston today.
And still, very little hard information has leaked out about which Red Sox players will be dealt.
Example
Padres beat writer Dan Hayes (North County Times) wrote 21 minutes ago:
Just heard from a second source that Padres-Red Sox deal for Adrian Gonzalez is very close.
This comes on the heels of Gordon Edes reporting about an hour ago that Theo Epstein is "making some headway" in discussions to bring Padres 1B Adrian Gonzalez to Boston -- and a source says the clubs could "possibly" make a trade by the end of the weekend. Earlier, Hayes had tweeted that discussions were "serious".

Gonzalez, 28, had surgery on his right shoulder in October.

Edes:
According to the source familiar with the negotiations, the proposed deal centers only on minor leaguers ... They almost certainly would seek pitcher Casey Kelly and first baseman Anthony Rizzo in any deal, with outfielder Ryan Kalish, shortstop Jose Iglesias, outfielder Josh Riddick, 19-year-old outfielder Reymond Fuentes, pitcher Stolmy Pimentel, and catcher Ryan Lavarnway also potential targets.

It is reasonable to assume it may take at least three top prospects to make a deal, with perhaps another minor leaguer or two of lesser skills included.
Four hours ago, SI's Jon Heyman tweeted: "if adrian gonzalez is traded, he hopes its boston, i hear. could have something to do with their ability to win & to give him teixiera deal"

SoSH had a rumour that Gonzalez was in Boston for a physical. No idea if that is true.