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Posts Tagged ‘Adrian Beltre’

You know, it actually got to the point where I kind of forgot what it felt like.  I forgot what it felt like to be completely shut down by another team over the course of multiple games played on multiple days.  It’s like when we all forgot what sweeping other teams felt like when we were mired in the abysmal dross that was last season.  Now I remember.  Getting swept is not fun.

This time, it was Lester who didn’t deliver.  Actually, to be fair, he did deliver.  He gave a quality start.  He gave up three runs on five hits over six innings.  He walked three and struck out seven; needless to say, his cut fastball wasn’t as formidable as usual.  It didn’t have the same nasty bite on it that it usually does when he’s really on.  He had a spectacular first and second during which he sent the Rangers down in order.  Even his third inning, during which he gave up a solo shot, was otherwise great.  He made a mistake on a cutter, and the batter figured it out, but other than that, he was spotless.

He gave up a double and a walk in the fourth.  He gave up a walk and a single in the fifth.  And he gave up a single and a home run in the sixth, this one on a sinker.  So as you can see, it became increasingly laborious for him as the game went on.  He ended up throwing 115 pitches, seventy of which were strikes.  It was just one of those days.  His starts usually comprise less than three walks, less than six hits, less than three runs, more than seven strikeouts, and more than six innings.  Not yesterday.  Lester’s ERA is now 3.30.

But seriously, it wasn’t that bad.  It wasn’t even bad at all.  Lester gave up three runs.  If that had been the extent of the damage that the Rangers had been able to inflict, then the game could have potentially had a very different outcome.  Even if the Rangers scored more, the game still could have had a different outcome if we had been able to score more than we did.

By the time the Rangers scored their first run in the third, we were already up by three.  So by all accounts, it seemed like we could have at least ended the series with the dignity of not having been swept right out of Arlington.  With two out, Pedroia singled, and Papi unleashed on a 3-1 fastball.  The ball ended up beyond the right field fence, and we ended up with two runs just like that.  His hitting streak is now at twenty-five.

In the very next frame, after Carp struck out, Ross hit his second pitch of the game for a solo shot.  Both pitches were sliders around the same speed.  He took the first one for a ball; he sent the second one beyond the left field foul pole.  It was awesome.  You had the veteran slugger slugging, and you had the comebacker slugging as well.  Better still, you had the comebacker becoming the fourth player in the history of Rangers Ballpark to smash one into the club tier.  Things had looked good.

After we went down in order in the third and the Rangers scored their first run, things still looked good.  Neither team scored in the fourth or fifth.  We went down in order in the top of the sixth; for the most part, the two pitchers were involved in a duel of sorts.  Both ended up giving up three runs; Lester’s two-run home run tied the game at three.  And that’s the way it stayed through the seventh, which Uehara pitched.  It’s the way it stayed through the eighth, despite the fact that we walked twice and that it took the services of both Tazawa and Miller to get through the bottom of the frame.  And that’s the way it stayed through the top of the ninth, when Ross walked, Drew singled, and one out quickly turned into three.

But that is not the way it stayed through the bottom of the ninth.  Mortensen came out and was all business.  He struck out his first two batters and looked solid.  Then he gave up a single and issued a wild pitch, which is something that can happen when a sinkerballer sinks too low.  In and of itself, that wouldn’t have done anything to shake the tie.  Mortensen then intentionally walked Lance Berkman.  Still, the tie was intact.  It was the single he gave up to Adrian Beltre of all people that did us in.  He threw five straight sliders to Beltre; when he singled, the count was 1-2.

The final score was 4-3.  It was the first time we got swept this year, and we now have to share the best record in the Majors with the team that swept us.

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So, again, that was the opposite of what I had in mind when I thought of what the outcome of last night’s game would be.  Same as Opening Day: I was expecting a win because Lackey was on the mound, we returned to our regular lineup for the righty, and our team is amazing.  Again, no big deal.  Right? Wrong.  So incredibly, totally wrong.

Lackey’s line was utterly abysmal.  It was literally one of the worst starts of his career; his current career high for runs given up is ten, and he gave up nine.  Those ten runs were also given up to the Texas Rangers, on September 26, 2008.  Aside from that start, the only other time Lackey took a similar beating was when he gave up nine runs to us on August 5, 2003.

Nine runs on ten hits.  Seven of those ten hits were extra-base hits.  Two of those seven extra-base hits were home runs.  One of those home runs was a leadoff shot by Ian Kinsler, who is now the first player in history to hit two leadoff homers to start a season.  The other was a grand slam by none other than Adrian Beltre after an intentional walk of Josh Hamilton.  So for this afternoon, I’d say intentionally walk Kinsler during his first at-bat, but if you do that, you might end up with a grand slam later.  Lackey walked two, struck out three, and never made it to the end of the fourth inning.

Every single time we tried to get back in it, Lackey would just give up more runs.  Papi tied it in the fourth with a fielder’s choice, and Lackey sent down his first two batters of the fourth.  And then there was the badness: a double, a triple, a walk, a double.

Lackey threw eighty-six pitches, fifty for strikes.  They were mostly cut fastballs and curveballs.  Like Lester’s outing, it’s easy to explain a cut fastball pitcher’s bad outing: the cut fastball doesn’t cut.  When a batter makes contact with a lame cut fastball that tops out somewhere around ninety-three miles per hour, you can pretty much bet you’re in trouble.  His curveball got up to eighty-five miles per hour.  Unlike Lester, Lackey’s cut fastball, his most frequently used pitch, actually was his most effective one, so he did get some strikeouts with it.  Seven of his fifty strike pitches resulted in swings.

His release point was not tight.  There were some pitches were released completely out of it.  And when he missed, he missed to the upper left and lower right corners of the zone.

As on Opening Day, the relief corps was not helpful.  Wheeler gave up two runs, and Wake gave up a run.  After that, things settled down; Reyes and Jenks both turned in very solid innings.  Bard was unavailable because he threw thirty-two pitches on Friday.  I don’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Bad pitching again detracted from a very strong performance by Adrian Gonzalez, who is currently earning his contract like nobody’s business.  It’s a great feeling when your general manager does everything possible during the offseason to field a championship team and it actually seems to be working.  Three for five with a double and two runs.  Youk doubled.  Ellsbury blasted a two-run shot in the seventh on a ninety-two mile-per-hour fastball down and in, which is exactly the place you don’t want a fastball to end up if you’re facing lefties because they do things like hit home runs if it does.  The best part was that his swing looked totally natural, like all he does is just hit home runs all day.  Hopefully we’ll get some more of those from him this year.

And last, but of course certainly not least, Papi followed the fourth Opening Day home run of his career with his second of the season in the second inning! An eighty-nine mile-per-hour high fastball ended up in the first few rows of right field seats, good for two runs.  By the time the night was over, he made history.  He both tied, with number 1,003, and surpassed, with number 1,004, Edgar Martinez for most RBIs ever hit by a DH.  And in just two days, he already is showing more offensive prowess than he did during this entire month for the last two years combined.  During his last two Aprils, he batted .169 with one home run.  He’s currently batting .250 with two.  The monster year has begun.

The final score was a completely pathetic 12-5.  We are now 0-2 to begin the season for the first time since 2005.  Not exactly the auspicious start any of us were expecting or hoping for.  All I’m saying is that Lackey is pitching our home opener on Friday against the Yankees, and we better not have a repeat performance, because that would just be unacceptable.  Meanwhile, we’re getting our first look at Buchholz and Tek this afternoon; Salty will probably get the day off.  Maybe Buchholz should stay away from cut fastballs.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Thrashers by a goal.

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Wow.  Quietest.  Baseball week.  Ever.  It’s like last week; after all the moves we made, what could possibly have happened this week? The only big question I can think of concerning our starters is the shortstop question, and that’s not even a big question.  I think it’s already basically decided that Scutaro will start and Lowrie will serve as backup.  Lowrie is basically the ultimate utility man, and he won’t be for long.  He’s unquestionably starter material.  So he’s going to need playing time, because when he’s hot, he’s hot.  So it’s one of those things that you can debate and debate and debate, but at the end of the day, the veteran will get the nod to start after Spring Training and it could all change a few weeks into the season.  Maybe someone gets injured.  Maybe someone gets a day off.  Maybe adjustments need to be made for a lefty or a righty.  You never know.

Basically, it all comes down to the fact that we’re almost at pitchers and catchers.  Almost.  Right now we’ve come to the worst part of the winter: the home stretch.  This year has been a long one for obvious reasons, and that little bit more is just unbearable.  The team is finalized; we’re ready to go.  And yet we’ve got a little more than a month left.  Well.  There’s nothing we can do about it except wait.  Which, in and of itself, is absolutely torturous.  Opening Day is going to be epic.  Meanwhile, there’s absolutely nothing to be done.  It’s just painful.

We have officially entered the period of arbitration; players have until Saturday to file.  Paps and Ellsbury are both eligible.  Meanwhile, Theo has never gone to arbitration for any player in any of his first eight seasons as Boston’s GM.  Not once.  That’s impressive.  And it’ll be more impressive if he can do it again this year, especially given who’s eligible.  I think the emphasis here is on Paps.  Arbitration has the potential to get ugly for him.  So hopefully we just avoid that and everyone stays happy.

You may remember Max Ramirez, the catching prospect we tried to land from the Rangers in exchange for Mike Lowell.  We just claimed him off waivers.  The Mets took Taylor Buchholz.  Technically this isn’t so relevant to us anymore, but just as a point of interest, Beltre finally signed.  He signed a six-year deal with the Rangers worth ninety-six million dollars.  That’s a lot of years and a lot of money.  Despite the two back-to-back Gold Gloves, his defense is far from spotless, and despite his uncanny success within the confines of Fenway, he’s not exactly the Cliff Lee of hitting depending on the park.  But the Rangers lost Cliff Lee, so I guess something had to be done.  Beltre had a great year, and if he continues his production, he could be a big asset to the Rangers.  Only for about the first half of his contract, of course, but hey, at least now they have some stability at the hot corner.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Leafs by one and lost to the Wild by two.  And we dropped yesterday’s game to the Habs by one in sudden death.  At least we get a point.  But it was infuriating.  We scored two in the second and carried that lead into the third.  But then they tied it and the rest is history.  We are now tied with them for first in the division.  I don’t like to be tied with the Habs for first in the division.  As long as we’re ahead, I actually don’t like to be anywhere near the Habs, ever.  So we’ll need to just get some wins and be done with it.  Meanwhile, the Pats have a bye this week, but we’re playing the Jets on Sunday.  This is going to be fun.  I’m psyched.

Boston Globe Staff/Bill Greene

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The A’s completely rescinded their offer to Beltre.  Now, he’s got nothing.  I can understand where they’re coming from; this is the second year in the row they’ve chased him, and they’ve had this offer on the table for weeks now.  And just last week Beltre stated publicly that he wants to stay in Boston.  He turned down the A’s, who offered him more money and more years, last year to come here.  During the Winter Meetings, Theo will be in the hunt for a reliever and another big bat.  Beltre certainly fits the latter description, but I just don’t see how we’d ensure regular playing time for him.  We certainly don’t have room for him as a starter with the other Adrian coming in.  (And putting Theo aside, make no mistake; Youk was the real basis for the deal.  If Youk didn’t have the ability to just switch from first to third like that, Gonzalez would still be in San Diego.) It’s just a shame because Beltre is a beast.  By the way, Cameron is giving Gonzalez jersey number twenty-three.

This week, the Winter Meetings came and went.  And anyone thought we’d ride that deal and go in and out quietly was so incredibly wrong, it’s not even funny.  Theo Epstein was the king of the Winter Meetings.

The Werth saga continues.  Apparently, we sat down with him and Scott Boras but never made him a formal offer.  And we certainly would not have been prepared to even come close to what the Nationals gave him.  It’s a shame for us and for Werth.  A real shame.

But not anymore.  Not today.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have our elite outfielder and our second big bat.  And no, it’s not Magglio Ordonez.  Ordonez can chase a two-year deal elsewhere with all the teams that were formerly chasing Werth and Crawford, because both are now officially taken.  The hottest position player on the market is now off.  Carl Crawford, welcome to Boston! Seven years and 142 million dollars and a pending physical later, he’s walking that speed of his right into Fenway Park.

Wow.  Just, wow.  I mean, what? It happened so fast.  First we were reportedly in talks, and then you turn around and there’s already a deal on the books.  I’ve never been one to feel comfortable with contracts as large as this one; he’s the first player in franchise history to get seven years and an average of twenty million dollars per year, and he’s the first position player in baseball history to land 100 million dollars without hitting twenty home runs a year.  It’s the tenth-largest contract in baseball history, less than deals for players that include Manny Ramirez, Joe Mauer, and obviously a sizeable host of Yankees.  But, as always, in Theo we trust.  Everybody in Red Sox Nation is hungry.  Crawford is young and more than capable.  He can succeed here; in seventy-eight games at Fenway, he’s batted .275 with twenty-four doubles, thirty-five runs, and twenty-six stolen bases.  He’s yet another lefty bat, but he makes our lineup unbelievably potent, and he and Ellsbury comprise the most formidable speed duo in the game right now.  He’s not a slugger, but he’ll hit a decent amount out and he finds gaps like no other.  His speed also makes him great in the field, and it’s perfect because he’s a left fielder by trade.

So that’s Theo for you.  He’s asked whether a deal is being considered, and he refuses to rule anything in or out.  I’m convinced that the Werth deal upped the ante here though; if that deal hadn’t gone through, Crawford would never have been in a position to demand or merit a deal of this magnitude.  So that’s that.  We can take comfort in the fact that Theo would never offer a deal like this if he didn’t think the player was worth it.  Crawford is young enough and good enough to deliver in all seven of his contract years, which is why Theo offered it, and his playing ability is elite enough to merit his salary.  It’s not like we mete out contracts like this in every offseason.  This is the first contract of this magnitude that we’ve finalized during Theo’s and this ownership group’s tenure.  Given our current position and resources, this deal makes sense for us.  Crawford will obviously need to work on patience at the plate.  He needs to increase his walk total to up his on-base percentage.  We can’t say anything beyond that; we’ll just have to wait and see.  Meanwhile, there is a ton of celebrating to be done.  Adrian Gonzaelz and Carl Crawford.  Hello, October 2011!

As far as relievers are concerned, something must be done.  Bard said almost the exact same thing.  We’re looking at Matt Guerrier as well as Brian Fuentes and Arthur Rhodes, who was an All-Star for the first time this year at age forty.  Supposedly we’ve made a formal offer to Kevin Gregg.  Supposedly we’re going to sign Scott Downs.

We’re also keeping an eye on Russell Martin, who was indeed non-tendered by the Dodgers.

And that’s the story of how Theo put all other general managers to shame, made not one but two splashes, and came to rule the 2010 offseason.  If you ask me, it’s a pretty great story.  And technically it’s not even finished.

In other news, the Bruins bested the Sabres by one and the Islanders by three, but we lost to the Flyers in sudden death yesterday.  The Patriots, in one of the most anticipated games on the calendar this year, completely crushed and humiliated the Jets in every way.  The final score was 45-3.  It was a total crush.  So incredibly awesome.

Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

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Wow.  Just, wow.  Hugeness this week.  Trust me, there is epicness to discuss.

Beltre and Felipe Lopez both declined arbitration, but there is still hope for the former.  We all know that the A’s are offering Beltre a sweet deal, but he’s taking his equally sweet time in signing it.  He stated publicly that he wants to return to Boston, so he’s waiting to see what Theo’s got.

It turns out that what Theo’s got is a seriously awesome replacement.  Adrian Gonzalez, welcome to Boston! Finally! He went to Boston yesterday for a physical to make sure his right shoulder is on track after his surgery, and he passed.  We’ll be sending Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, outfielder Reymond Fuentes, and a player to be named later to the Padres, which fortunately shouldn’t hurt our farm system too much because last year’s draft was so successful.  Although it’ll be rough to see them all go.  The important thing to keep in mind about prospects is that you never know.  They could be awesome like Hanley Ramirez.  Or they could be terrible like Craig Hansen.  We already know what Adrian Gonzalez is capable of at the Major League level.

There’s room for a contract extension; Gonzalez is entering the last year of his current deal and we already acquired permission from Major League Baseball to hammer out a new one by this afternoon.  That didn’t happen, so Theo might wait to watch his shoulder in the spring, and of course there are the luxury tax implications.  But he won’t be giving up all those top prospects if he weren’t assured that an extension could be worked out, which would give us stability at all three bags.  Given Gonzalez’s age, anything from five to eight years can be considered feasible.  We offered six, but he wanted eight.  So there you go.

But one thing’s for sure: celebration is indeed in order.  Gonzalez will succeed in Boston.  His lefty swing was practically built exclusively for Fenway Park, and he was able to excel in a quintessential pitcher’s park.  Seriously.  Most of his fly balls in Petco would’ve been out in Fenway.  That’s why I’m convinced that he’ll get over his National League-ness in a hurry.  By the way, he’s got two Gold Gloves at first.  And he started almost every single game for about the last five years.  Without DHing once.  So here’s to you, Theo.  Two years later, you finally closed the deal.  And the fact that the Padres’ general manager and assistant general manager of scouting and player development both used to work with Theo is the icing on the cake that didn’t necessarily work to our advantage since they basically knew our farm system inside-out.  Gonzalez will play first and replace V-Mart’s bat, we’ll move Youk to third, and Beltre, who’s older anyway, will now probably sign with the A’s.  The deal is done on principle.  All they need to do is announce it on Monday at Fenway and that’s it.  The Adrian Gonzalez Era in Boston has begun!

One more thing.  Fundamentally this deal was not about New York; it’s about us, our team, our organization, and our hunger.  But while we’re on the subject, I would just like to point out that, not only is Adrian Gonzalez the answer to Mark Teixeira, but we now have a young infield that’s locked and entering its prime while the Yanks have guys on the downward slope of their careers.  I’m just saying.  I would advise New York to be afraid.  Very afraid.

Tek signed a one-year deal with two million dollars plus incentives; those rumors about him going to the Dodgers couldn’t have been more wrong.  They started circulating because the Dodgers had to decide whether to tender Russell Martin, who’s awesome except for injuries.  We didn’t tender Okajima, given his poor performance last season, but we already tendered Paps and will be making offers to Ellsbury and Taylor Buchholz.  Rumor has it that we made an offer to Mariano Rivera before he signed a two-year deal with the Yanks.  The Yanks seem to be avenging this action by showing interest in Carl Crawford to drive up his price.  I honestly don’t think the offer to Rivera was serious.  And I honestly don’t think New York’s interest in Crawford is serious.  Unless they don’t get Cliff Lee.  If Lee stays in Texas, New York might seriously start looking at Crawford because they could always deal Brett Gardner for a starter.

Pedroia’s foot is almost at one hundred percent.  He’s been cleared to jog and will be ready for Spring Training.  We have officially met with both Crawford and Werth, who, according to Dwight Evans, is the best right fielder in baseball and similar to himself.  This is Dwight Evans, people.  That’s seriously high praise.

Not that that’s going to help anyone.  Not even Werth himself.  Werth is now officially out of the picture and off the deep end.  He signed a deal for seven years and 126 million dollars.  With the Washington Nationals.  I’m not kidding.  That tells me two things: one, he’s not hungry, and two, he’s essentially a fool.  He’s not going to win a ring with the Nats, and seven years from now, when his contract is up, he won’t be starter material, which is obviously something that the Nationals don’t care about.  So his ring with the Phillies will be the last of his career as a starter.  If he wanted security, he sure got it.  He knows where he’ll be for the majority of the next decade, and he’s getting a whole heap of money for it.  To be honest with you, he would have been great in a Boston uniform, but I wouldn’t want someone only interested in money and years to play for us.  Especially not someone who would ever seriously consider both money and years with the Nationals.  I mean, they’re the Nationals.  Not only are they National League, they’re the worst in the National League; in fact, they’re the worst in the Major Leagues.

But wait; it gets better.  He says he’s been considering signing with the Nats since hiring Scott Boras as his agent last season.  Let me get this straight: he hired Scott Boras to get him a deal with the Washington Nationals.  That’s ridiculous.  Why would you hire Scott Boras to cut a deal with the Nationals? Jayson Werth doesn’t need an agent to negotiate a deal with the Washington Nationals; Jayson Werth can walk up to the Washington Nationals, write down a year amount and a dollar amount on a piece of paper, hand it to whoever is spearheading the process, and receive a “yes” to everything in five seconds flat.  He says he’s impressed with the Nats’ acquisition of young talent? Give me a break.  Nobody expects all that young talent to stay there; as soon as they’re able, they’re writing one-way tickets into free agency and out of town.  And then he went on this tangent in which he basically implied that he only signed with the Nationals because they assured him that they’d continue to acquire the talent necessary to compete and win, because that is very important to him.  Oh, sure.  If it’s that important to him, he would not have signed with the Nationals.  So they present their future plans to him and he asks questions about the team.  Great.  Now let’s see the Nationals follow that plan, the young talent stay put, and Werth stay in shape long enough to merit his salary at the end of his contract.  I don’t think so.

We signed starter Brandon Duckworth to a minor league deal.  He was part of the Billy Wagner trade.  We are supposedly interested in reliever Matt Guerrier.

Oh, and I fully expect Mike Cameron to morph into some sort of hitting specialist against lefties, being that many of the AL East’s elite pitchers are lefties and some of our middle bats struggled against lefties last season.  The only potential hindrance to that expectation is playing time.  Cameron has the potential to get rolling, but he can’t get rolling if he never gets going.

The Spring Training schedule is out.  We’re opening with an exhibition doubleheader with Boston College followed by Northeastern.  March features competition with Minnesota, Atlanta, Philly, both New York teams, Florida, Baltimore, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Toronto, and Houston.

On Saturday, Sox Pax and tickets for twenty-one games in April and May will go on sale.

Get psyched.  The Winter Meetings are starting on Monday, and they’re going to be very interesting.  And by interesting I also mean hectic, since most of the important offseason deadlines have moved up.  Theo has his work cut out for him; we have a bat to replace V-Mart, but we’ll need another, preferably a righty, to replace Beltre since he’ll sign elsewhere, and relievers.  Good ones.  We’ve already made a splash; the key is to fill the club’s needs without removing all of our flexibility for next year.

In other news, the Bruins dropped Sunday’s game to the Thrashers, 1-4.  But then we shut out the Flyers, three-zip, and completely decimated the Lightning, 8-1.  Krejci and Ryder each racked up three points.  It was awesome.  If this were baseball, that would be considered a slugfest.  Then we lost in a shootout to the Leafs, but at least we get a point.  The Pats take on the Jets tomorrow.

NESN.com

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We claimed outfielder Jordan Parraz off waivers from Kansas City.  That officially fills out our forty-man roster.  He’s going straight to Triple-A, where he’ll stay unless an injury hits.

And that’s as simple as this week’s news is going to get, so hold onto your hats.  We offered arbitration to Beltre, Felipe Lopez, and V-Mart.  They have until Tuesday to decline.

Beltre is going to decline.  That’s basically a fact.  He has a five-year offer from the A’s on the table, and Theo will not come close to that in terms of years, and that’s not even talking about the cash.  So we’re going to get two draft picks for him.  I was ready for this.  I knew Beltre wouldn’t return.  He was only here for one year, and he had too good a season.  Between those two facts, he was bound to test the market.  And his good season inflated his value.  I say “inflated” and not “increased” because, as I’ve said before, I think a big part of why his season was so good was Fenway Park.  He’s a terrific athlete at the plate and in the field, but if you take away Fenway Park, I doubt you’ll get the same production numbers from him.  And I think Theo also knew he wouldn’t return.  So this is an unfortunate but not surprising turn of events.

Lopez is a Type B free agent, so we’re going to get a sandwich-round draft pick if he signs with someone else.  If he accepts, he’d get a better salary than he would ever be able to get on the open market.  But if we cut him during Spring Training, he’s got nothing.  So he’s going to decline.  A wise move given his poor season last year.

V-Mart will not be returning to Boston.  He’s going to sign a four-year deal worth fifty million dollars with the Tigers.  So he got what he wanted: years with cash.  So the question becomes whether he would have been worth a better offer from us.  We offered him four years for forty-two million dollars.  There’s no question that that should have been enough, so the question then becomes whether we should have matched the Tigers.  A part of me does sort of wish that Theo just offered the extra eight million.  V-Mart is a hitting catcher who also plays first base, and he’s starter material in all three.  There is probably no other active player right now for whom that is true.  We already have a first baseman, but we need a hitter, and we need a catcher, and rare is the opportunity to consolidate the two into one player.  He’s improved his throwing, he’s gotten to know our staff really well, and we just spent all of last season grooming him to take on the starter’s role and be our catcher of the future.  This is not Mark Teixeira; we can revisit the Mark Teixeira episode when we start talking about Adrian Gonzalez.  We’ve kept our fair share of catchers in the starter’s role well beyond the point where they ceased to merit it.  And the reason why I brought up Mark Teixeira is that he’s an example of us in the past offering loads of cash and loads of years to a player who may or may not have been worth it.  (Again, that’s a separate issue, and I’m sure it’ll come up when we get to Adrian Gonzalez.) So given those two facts, it just seems like, if there were ever a time or a player that merited an extra eight million dollars, it would be right now and V-Mart.  There are only maybe three other catchers in the Majors who can hit like he can, and none of them are on the radar.  So we’re going to have to go with a catcher who’s solid behind the plate and compensate for the loss of production with another position.  That would explain our interest in Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, and recently Justin Upton from the D-Backs.

However, from a sabermetrics standpoint, Theo’s decision makes sense.  We all know that Theo has that line, different for every player given our situation at the time, that he absolutely under any circumstances will not cross.  And I guess that was the line for V-Mart.  It’s easy to say that Theo should’ve just kicked in an extra eight million, but it’s possible that that would’ve set off some sort of bidding war, although very small in scale because this is the Tigers we’re talking about, and the Tigers would’ve gone above that, and we wouldn’t have matched that new offer anyway.  The Tigers’ situation is completely different than ours.  They finished the season at .500 exactly, and they’re looking for shining stars around which to construct a team that can compete.  But we need V-Mart more than they do because V-Mart won’t get them to the World Series.  He might get us to the World Series.  But he’s thirty-two years old, so he’s approaching that age, which we all know comes sooner for catchers than it does for other position players.  He’ll probably only be able to catch consistently for the first half of that contract.  And let’s not forget that there are draft picks involved, something that in the past has led to the likes of Lester, Buchholz, Pedroia, Lowrie, and Ellsbury.  So, as you can see, there are all sorts of variables involved that Theo obviously didn’t think merited that kind of money for those years, perhaps because the last one or two of them would see an obvious decrease in performance.

I always say that in Theo we must trust, so we’re going to have to wait and see.  He thinks of every angle.  He places a value on a player before negotiations and sticks to it.  He doesn’t like bidding wars, and honestly neither do I.  All I know is that Salty can not handle the starter’s role.  He just can’t.  That’s confirmed by the fact that we’re already looking for replacements, who could include Bengie Molina, Mike Napoli, and Chris Iannetta.  Ultimately, we need to put a good team on the field every year.  Not just this year and next year.  So if that ability would have been hindered by offering V-Mart extra money, we can’t have that.  As long as the catcher can catch and the hitters can hit, it doesn’t technically matter whether the catcher is the one hitting or the hitter is the one catching.

Speaking of catchers, we didn’t offer arbitration to Tek because we didn’t want to pay three million dollars to a Type B backup catcher.  If he signs with someone else, we won’t get draft picks.  But he won’t sign with someone else.  He’s coming back.

We didn’t offer arbitration to Hall, who wants to go somewhere with more playing time.  Speaking of versatility, there is arguably no player more versatile than Hall.  His average keeps him from starting regularly, but he has played almost every position for us this past year: second base, third base, shortstop, left field, center field, right field, even pitcher.  That, my friends, is a dirt dog answering the call of duty.

As always with arbitration, the week leaves us with lots of questions and almost no answers.  That’s the beauty of the offseason.  It’s a time when teams get the chance to overhaul, and you never know what you’re going to get.  Stay tuned.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Lightning, 1-3, but then beat the Panthers by the same score.  The Devils shut us out, and we’re playing the Thrashers this evening.  The Thrashers are hot right now, so this would be a great time for us to bounce back.  The Pats crushed the Lions, 45-24.

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Congratulations to Beltre for winning a Silver Slugger! He most definitely deserved it.  I wish I could say the same for Vlad Guerrero, who won it instead of Big Papi, which is ridiculous.  Guerrero hit .300 with twenty-nine homers, 115 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of .496.  Sounds great.  Until you consider the fact that he only hit nine homers after the All-Star break and posted a measly OPS of .748.  Papi hit thirty-two homers and posted a slugging percentage of .529 and OPS of .899.  Notice that all of Papi’s numbers are higher than Vlad’s.  Theoretically, this should result in his fifth Silver Slugger at DH, but for some absurd and unknown reason, it didn’t.  He and Josh Beckett can commiserate this offseason, because that’s just not right.

Pedroia’s rehab is progressing ahead of schedule.  I’m not surprised by that.  I am relieved, not just for the team and for Red Sox Nation but also for Pedroia, who’s been itching to play for months now.

Ladies and gentlemen, the stove is finally starting to heat up.  Finally.  We have confirmed official contact with Werth’s agent.  We are supposedly interested in Zack Greinke and Justin Duchsherer.  We have statements from Theo about his commitment to re-sign Beltre and V-Mart, with the obvious emphasis on V-Mart.  Meanwhile, Peter Gammons is convinced that Theo is going to move on without V-Mart because he says the Sox are sure Salty can handle the job.  I’m going to take Theo’s word on this instead.

Perhaps the ultimate free agent, or at least the one everyone’s talking about these days, is Cliff Lee.  Everyone thought Lee is going to be a Yankee for sure.  Nothing would please me less, but I don’t think that’s as likely as people think.  He’s thirty-two years old, and if New York decides to give him a Sabathia-like contract with heaps of money and, less intelligently, heaps of years, I will lose negative respect for their organization, because trust me, there isn’t any there to begin with now.  My next guess would be the Angels, but they’ve already set their sights on Carl Crawford, although that could change since the Giants proved that, yes, you can win with pitching.  (Which only confirms the fact that we’re going to win the World Series this year, by the way.  Just sayin’.) Detroit could be an option since they’ve made payroll room.  The most likely competitor for New York right now appears to be the Rangers, who are in hot pursuit, and offers could come in from the Phillies and Brewers as well.

The Mets won’t spend this offseason, the Cubs want youth, the Reds are in the process of offering Arroyo an extension, and I’m so sorry to say this, but I don’t think we’re going to be in the mix for this one.  A sizeable chunk of our payroll is currently devoted to our starting rotation, and on top of that we just don’t have the space for Lee right now.  So it makes sense to leave him alone.  Otherwise, we basically wouldn’t be able to do anything else.  Lee is absolutely awesome, so again, it hurts to say so, but we’re making the right move here.

An interesting question to ask is whether the acquisition of Lackey kept us from Lee.  I think the answer would have to be yes, but I think we’ll get more bang for our buck with Lackey than we would have with Lee.  Lackey is a competitive workhorse.  He absorbs innings like a sponge.  We need a guy like that in there, especially if we’ve got another guy on whom you can’t necessarily depend to go deep.  (That would be Dice-K.) Lackey complements that, and that way the bullpen knows it’s going to have a light night for each overtime it works.  Depending on how this season goes, I’d be ready to say we made the right decision.  That’s the key right there.  Lee is a competitive workhorse too, and he also absorbs innings like a sponge.  But he won’t be absorbing anyone’s innings like anything unless they’re ready to fork over substantial coin and years.  Provided that my predictions about Lackey returning to top form his sophomore season come true, Lackey is the better option because he’ll probably end up being cheaper than both.  I have a feeling that Lee’s next contract is going to be huge.  So Lackey gives us more flexibility that way.  Sure, Lee arguably would be better, but like I said, if Lackey is back to his stellar self as of now, the difference in quality won’t be that large; meanwhile, we spend less money and don’t have to commit the better part of an entire decade.

We traded Dustin Richardson to the Marlins for Andrew Miller.  The Jays just hired PawSox manager Torey Lovullo as their new first base coach.  Our minor league infield coordinator, Gary DiSarcina, is now the assistant to the Angels’ general manager.  DeMarlo Hale will interview with the Mets for their managerial position.  The disadvantage of having a top-flight staff is that everyone wants a piece.  Hopefully for us, this goes nowhere.

In a spectacular combination of divine intervention and rational thought, ESPN will not renew the contracts of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.  Oh, happy day.  Twenty-one years of suffering through commentary that was anything but insightful and unbiased is officially over.  Dan Shulman will replace Miller.  At this point, anything is an improvement.

In other news, the Bruins started the week with a victory over the Penguins, 7-4.  Seven goals in a single game.  Wow.  Then we just had to lose to the Habs, 3-1.  Yesterday’s game didn’t bode too well either; the Sens shut us out, 2-0.  Those were not the same Senators we shut out, 4-0.  That was a completely different team.  On behalf of Bruins fans everywhere, I’d like to extend condolences to the family of Pat Burns, who coached us in the late ’90s.  Last Sunday, the Pats delivered one of the absolute worst performances I have ever had the misfortune of seeing.  We lost, 34-14, to none other than the Cleveland Browns.  The Cleveland Browns! I was seeing Super Bowl glory, and then all of a sudden we lost by twenty points to the Cleveland Browns? To make matters worse, Stephen Gostkowski will probably be out for two games with a quad strain.  The only silver lining I can possibly muster in this situation is that the Pats have a tendency to bounce back from big losses in a big way.  Right on time for us to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

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