The Winter Meetings were pretty quiet. For some of us, anyway. Since everyone else was apparently busy gobbling up all the good names. Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle are off the market; they both signed with the Marlins, who, by the way, are now no longer the Florida Marlins. They agreed to rename the team the Miami Marlins as part of a deal that allowed them to construct their new ballpark on the site of the old Miami Orange Bowl. Albert Pujols is now an Angel; his contract is ten years for upwards of $250 million.
Meanwhile, we hardly even made so much as a ripple. Not that the point is to make waves. The point is to fix what needs fixing. We had identified some things that need fixing, and as of now they’re not really all that fixed. Granted, there’s still a lot of offseason to go, and I’m sure that Ben used this opportunity to gauge the market and make connections.
We’ve signed Andrew Miller to a one-year deal. More importantly, Papi has accepted arbitration. I have to admit that I liked it better when we, as a rule, avoided arbitration at all costs. The good news is that, no matter what, Papi will play for us next season, and he just won 2011’s well-deserved Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. The bad news is the entire arbitration process, because now the two sides have to go at each other in a no-holds-barred, my-interests-against-yours display of everything that’s bad about each side. It’s not good for morale. But Papi wanted to be back, and we wanted him back, so now we have him back. I guess if he wants a multi-year deal, he’ll have to work for it. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Theo, but I don’t like arbitration. I feel like the process just breeds badness in the long run.
Tito and Bobby V. spent the Winter Meetings in Texas chatting about what it’s like to basically switch jobs. Bobby V. also spent the Winter Meetings chatting with the media about anything and everything, from David Ortiz to Daniel Bard. Apparently he and Beckett talked on the phone; apparently Beckett was angry because Bobby V. used to call him out constantly on ESPN for taking time between pitches, but apparently the rest of the conversation went well. The only problem I have with that is that Beckett specifically requested that the contents of the conversation remain private. To Bobby V., apparently that means all the contents of the conversation except that one detail. We haven’t heard anything in the media yet that would indicate that Beckett is upset, but a private conversation is a private conversation, and that should be the end of it.
The second thing that Bobby V. has done with which I don’t agree, at least at this stage, is his intent to convert Bard to a starter during Spring Training. This is a bad idea. I’m not saying that Bard couldn’t handle it; it’s possible that he could still apply his wicked velocities to his work as a starter. But usually you have to take a little bit off for the sake of preserving your endurance for the later innings so I’m not sure it’ll translate in full. More importantly, if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. We need a closer. We don’t have one. So we can either acquire a closer or a starter. At this point I think that Bard is so skilled as a closer, a role he seems to have been born into and that he seems to want to at least attempt before he’s pigeonholed into something else, that it makes more sense to at least try him out. Maybe Bobby V. is thinking that they can train him as a starter and try him as a closer and see which works better, but it’s not good to mess with a young pitcher’s regimen like that. I’d say the pitcher best suited to swing back and forth that way is a long reliever. Bard is not a long reliever. He owned the eighth when Paps was closing; it’s only natural that we at least see what he can do if we give him the ninth. We already know what to expect if we make him our closer; he may not be as good a starter as he would be a closer. At this point, it’s hard to say either way, but I’m reluctant so early in the game to make a blanket statement that Bobby V. knows best. We don’t even know that yet.
In other news, the Pats beat the Colts, 31-24, and the Redskins, 34-27. The B’s split their games this week; we beat the Penguins and Blue Jackets but lost to the Panthers and Jets.